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STARTING POINT WITH SOLEDAD O'BRIEN

Refinery Fire Set to Spike Gas Prices; Interview with Former Ambassador Tim Roemer; Colorado Theater Shooter May Appear in Court; New York City Unveils Surveillance System; Cutting-Edge Crime Fighting; Gymnastic Golden Girl

Aired August 9, 2012 - 08:00   ET

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


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, everyone. I'm John Berman.

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Brooke Baldwin. Soledad gets the week off. Our STARTING POINT here this morning.

Sticker shock. Why gas prices climbed 13 cents in a single week and why it looks like, I'm afraid to say, they're going to keep going up.

BERMAN: Mitt Romney ripping President Obama's stance on birth control in a new ad out this morning. But the president says Mitt Romney wants to take women's health care back to the 1950s. You heard from the Romney campaign a little while ago. But coming up, the Obama campaign responds.

BALDWIN: Also this morning, new pictures from Mars showing it actually really looks like they are comparing it to the Mojave Desert, kind of like Earth. So, we're going to talk to the lead scientist for that Mars mission. He is Michael Meyer. He will join us live.

Also this morning, former U.S. ambassador to India, an Obama surrogate Tim Roemer.

And gold medal winning gymnast Jordyn Wieber.

It's Thursday.

BERMAN: So cool. It is Thursday. August 9th. And STARTING POINT begins right now.

(MUSIC)

BERMAN: We want to introduce you to today's all-star panel joining us right now. Ron Brownstein, CNN political contributor, also an editor at "The National Journal." Will Cain from TheBlaze.com.

WILL CAIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Good morning.

BALDWIN: Good morning.

BERMAN: And Richard Socarides, a former Clinton adviser and the NewYorker.com.

We're so glad you guys are here this morning. You're classing up the joint.

BALDWIN: Classing up the joint, very nice.

(CROSSTALK)

BERMAN: Our STARTING POINT this morning, guys, is gas prices, which are heading higher. They're up another 1.5 cents overnight for a national average of $3.66 a gallon. And it's a fire in California that's doing it, and it's about to make things even worse.

BALDWIN: Here's why. You're looking at it. These pictures, this is the Chevron Richmond, California oil refinery.

This devastating fire, this was Monday, partially shut down the facility, dramatically cutting production at one of the region's biggest suppliers. It's expected to send prices skyrocketing not just in California, but nationwide.

BERMAN: Our Ed Lavandera joins us now live from Dallas, Texas, this morning.

And, Ed, I know a couple of things you're watching here are the health concerns for the people near this fire in Richmond, California. But also, the financial hit that could be coming to all of us if gas prices spike around the country.

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And we have taken this financial hit over the last few weeks, and it almost seems like if you've blinked, you've missed this.

But as you mentioned: national average of gas prices across the country at $3.66 per gallon. That has gone up almost 30 cents in the last month. So, a dramatic rise here.

And analysts say they expect that to continue to go up over the next few days and weeks. And a lot of that is because of this latest high profile incident at a refinery.

But when you're talking about there, John, this massive fire at the -- in Richmond, California, the San Francisco Bay Area, where this refinery has essentially been shut down, analysts there along the West Coast predicting that gas prices will go over $4 a gallon because of this.

But this is also something that we've seen over the last several weeks and months not only in California but across the country where we have seen production problems and infrastructure issues rise up at several refineries across the country from the Midwest, down to Oklahoma, and the one we're talking about now in California. All of that leading to gas prices starting to tick back up, and analysts say that they expect to see that for the next few weeks.

The hope is that as the fall months come into play here and demand goes down, then gas prices will start to come back down. But for now, we're going to see that pain at the pump.

Guys, back to you.

BERMAN: E, let's hope it ends soon. Ed Lavandera in Dallas, Texas, thanks very much.

BALDWIN: A look at the day's other top stories here.

There's been a shakeup at the nation's largest breast cancer foundation, Susan G. Komen for the Cure. President Liz Thompson and founder Nancy Brinker both stepping down from their positions. Thompson, she will leave the organization next month. Brinker we've learned will surrender her CEO title. She's going to be focusing instead on fundraising and planning.

More fallout from Komen's decision earlier this year to suspend funding for Planned Parenthood, a decision that was ultimately reversed.

BERMAN: We may soon learn more about the weeks and months leading up to the Colorado movie theater massacre. Suspect James Holmes is expected back in court this afternoon. Today's hearing will focus on lifting parts of the gag order in this case.

Holmes is charged with killing 12 people and injuring 58 others at that midnight screening of "The Dark Knight Rises."

BALDWIN: The final shot fired by Sikh temple gunman Wade Michael Page actually went into his own head. The FBI now says surveillance video confirms Page did commit suicide after being wounded in the stomach by one of the police officers on the scene Sunday. Page killed six people. He wounded three others before taking his own life.

And it turns out more people might have been killed if not for the quick thinking of two young children, 11-year-old Abhay Singh and his 9-year-old sister Amanat were sitting outside the temple when the gunman shows up, starts firing.

And they actually sat down and spoke with Anderson Cooper last night.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ABHAY SINGH, WARNED OTHERS ABOUT GUNMAN: For a second, me and my sister thought, yes, maybe he needed directions or he needed help. But me and my sister looked at him, and then we noticed he was shooting those two people. And then we ran as fast as we could inside to warn everybody in the kitchen. And everybody else just to warn everybody there's a man outside with a gun.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: It's incredible, the quick thinking. By the way, we found out 11-year-old Abhay's name means fearless.

BERMAN: It sure does. Absolutely does.

BALDWIN: Fearless.

BERMAN: Back here in New York, the NYPD is back searching a basement to look for clues in the Etan Patz case. These are 6-year- old boy who vanished in 1979 on his way to school. He was the first child to appear on a milk carton. Investigators have been to the site at least three times since April. They removed five large paper bags and tools including a shovel from the basement but they will not say right now what they are looking for.

In May, police arrested a New Jersey man Pedro Hernandez, who allegedly confessed to killing Patz.

BALDWIN: Country singer Randy Travis is out on bail this morning. Troopers in northern Texas allegedly found him laying naked on a remote road apparently smelling of alcohol, following his car careening off a highway and hitting several barricades.

This all led to -- we've got to love the mug shots. This is a pretty rough one here. Travis was charged with a DWI and felony retaliation for allegedly threatening, and I'm quoting here, "to shoot and kill the troopers working the case."

Back in February, he pleaded no contest to public intoxication following the Super Bowl.

BERMAN: He is not sending that head shot out for casting calls.

BALDWIN: No, I don't think so.

To politics now, gentlemen, where President Obama is waking up in Colorado this morning for day number two here of campaigning and a pretty crucial swing state.

Mitt Romney on the other hand, attending fundraisers both in New York and New Jersey.

BERMAN: Overnight, Romney's campaign released a brand-new ad which attacks the president and accuses him of trampling on religious freedoms with his newly enacted birth control mandate. Let's listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NARRATOR: Who shares your values? President Obama used his health care plan to declare war on religion, forcing religious institutions to go against their faith.

Mitt Romney believes that's wrong. When religious freedom is threatened, who do you want to stand with?

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm Mitt Romney, and I approved this message.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: Now, former Indiana Congressman Tim Roemer is an Obama campaign surrogate. He's also a former U.S. ambassador to India.

Ambassador Roemer, I want to start talking about this new ad from Mitt Romney, because more than 40 Catholic organizations, charities and schools, they are suing President Obama over this mandate. Opponents say that is proof enough that the president has picked a fight over religious beliefs. What do make of that?

TIM ROEMER (D), FORMER INDIANA CONGRESSMAN: Well, good morning, John and Brooke, nice to be here. First of all, let me just say that after Governor Romney's trip abroad and some of the problems that he had on his foreign policy trip with some of the gaffes and mistakes, his comment previous to that that he was talking about Russia being the number one geopolitical foe, we have said that he's kind of back in the cold war on foreign policy.

Well, with this new ad on the Catholic Church and on health care, he's back in the 1950s and '60s trying to remove, you know, health care services for women.

Look, as a practicing Catholic, it's extremely important to me, and something that I have talked to the White House about, that we have a balance between respecting religious freedom, which is core to our Constitution and our practices in this country, and providing accessible health care to our people, and in particular women. And I think the president has done a great job on this front.

And I think this ad is terribly misleading and wrong.

BERMAN: But you think -- that's not surprising. But a lot of religious organizations don't. So, you know, is the president being sensitive enough to the words of these religious groups?

ROEMER: Well, John, you cite the Romney side of this. There are plenty of other Catholic organizations, many that I've worked with, that support the compromise plan by the president, that looks at this balance between how we practice our religious freedom and how we're not mandated to have to buy certain services.

The insurance companies would contact these practicing Catholics and others who might not want to do this, yet it's available for them if they want it. And it will be affordable.

So I think the president has struck just the right balance. And, again, Governor Romney just as he has in other ads is misstating the facts. People are saying -- all the fact checkers are saying that many of these ads are just not true or believable.

BALDWIN: Well, let me jump in on that with regard to facts and untrue ads. We have to talk about this Priorities USA ad, this pro- Obama super PAC ad. That's been all over the airwaves and hasn't even hit the airwaves yet.

And basically if you don't know what this is, this is a laid-off steel worker basically blaming Mitt Romney for the death of his wife. This is the premise essentially of this particular ad. And Bill Burton, he is the senior strategist for Priorities USA, he was on "THE SITUATION ROOM" with Wolf Blitzer just yesterday, he stands by the ad. Roll the sound.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WOLF BLITZER., CNN ANCHOR: Anybody that watches this 60-second ad comes away and says Mitt Romney is responsible at least indirectly for this lovely woman's death.

BILL BURTON, PRIORITIES USA: I just don't think that's true. It's clearly lost on some folks. Make no mistake about that. But the truth is, what this ad is about is what Mitt Romney wants this campaign to be about.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: You know, Burton was on with Anderson last night, again standing by the ad. Look, CNN did our very conclusive fact checking. It's just not accurate. This ad is just not accurate.

My question to you is given the facts, and I say that sort of loosely, of this ad and also the tone taken here, Mr. Ambassador, do you think that the president should disavow the ad? And would you, will you, disavow the ad?

ROEMER: Look, Brooke, I haven't even seen the ad. You said it's not on the airwaves. I know many of you think --

BALDWIN: We just played a little bit of it.

ROEMER: Many of you think we watched TV all day. I -- you played a couple of seconds of it. I have not seen the ad.

But let me say this. As a congressman, former congressman from Indiana, we saw plenty of people, too many people, that were laid off from jobs, they lost dignity, they lost their health care, and sometimes terrible things happen. This breaks your heart.

BALDWIN: But, Mr. Ambassador, this is a heartbreaking story. And I think whatever side you're on, you know, you absolutely feel for this man and the wife that he lost.

But when you look at the facts, the facts in this ad are inaccurate. We later learned, you know, our White House correspondent, did the fact checking and found out that this wife didn't fall ill and die until six years after he was laid off. She actually had insurance. Ultimately, she had an injury and lost insurance.

But the two are not conclusively linked. Therefore, inaccuracy. Do you stand by the ad?

ROEMER: I haven't seen the ad, Brooke. And let me say that the president has been very clear about his opposition to Citizens United, the Supreme Court decision, that created all of these PACs that are out there doing a lot of this misleading advertising.

Look at Governor Romney's ad on welfare, and accusing the president of weakening welfare reform.

BERMAN: Ambassador, let me ask about --

ROEMER: President Clinton has said that is categorically not true. It's misleading. And we -- you know, we condemn, you know, that. If these PACs could be restricted, if Congress could do something about this, and maybe pass a constitutional amendment to do something about this super PACs and revisit the Supreme Court decision, I think that would be a blessing for the whole country and campaigning --

BERMAN: Well, until that happens, let me ask but that welfare ad you just brought up. Because this is an issue you worked on when you were in Congress in the 1990s. You voted for the welfare reform law in Congress.

There was a politician in the '90s who said he would not have voted for that law when it came up in the 1990s, and that was Barack Obama as a state senator. Let's listen to what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA (D), THEN-ILLINOIS STATE SENATOR: I have been very active in crafting the state of Illinois' welfare proposal and thinking about how do you craft these coalitions. I was not a huge supporter of the federal plan that was signed in 1996.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: Do you think the president is trying to avoid the impression that he was not in favor of welfare reform? It clearly sounds like it there.

ROEMER: Well, look, the president, when he was a state senator, did work in a bipartisan way on state welfare reform. But the fact of the matter is, Governor Romney has got an ad on TV that accuses the president of something he did not do. That Bill Clinton said is disappointing and misleading. The president supports allowing states more flexibility if they move 20 percent more of the people to work and to jobs.

So, you know, as we all stay up late and watch the Olympics and we cheer on our athletes as you guys just had a segment with one of our athletes in London, we want them to come home with gold. We want our kids to learn lessons of good sportsmanship. I think this Romney ad gets a gold in misleading and not telling the truth to the American people. And in terms of sportsmanship, it's full of hypocrisy.

Look, the governor signed a letter as governor of Massachusetts in 2005 saying he was for this flexibility that President Obama has now granted to the states.

BALDWIN: Mr. Ambassador --

ROEMER: So I hope that we see some more truth in advertising here.

BALDWIN: We'd al like to see the truth. Tim Roemer, Mr. Ambassador, we appreciate you being on with us this morning. I see three guys just chomping at the bit to jump in.

RICHARD SOCARIDES, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: I don't think it's fair for CNN to say that that steel worker ad is not accurate, because if you -- I have looked at it, and I looked at it carefully again this morning. And what the gentleman says is factually accurate. I mean, he says he lost his job, and his health insurance, because Bain closed down his company. And then subsequently, six years later his wife got sick and died. He doesn't actually blame Mitt Romney. Now the connection is obviously there. And we may take -- people may take issue with whether or not the connection is appropriate. But this is what Mitt Romney says. He wants to repeal Obamacare. And that's a central issue in this campaign. If you repeal Obamacare, this guy's pre-existing condition, he is not going to be able to get health insurance.

CAIN: These loose connections is not useful in the debate over who to elect in the next election. These debates are not constructive. The ambassador said this. Mitt Romney would like to remove health care coverage for women, talking about contraception. That's not the debate we're having. The debate is whether or not employers should be mandated to provide it. Not whether it should be provided. If you move to that insurance companies, how do you remove that mandate from the companies?

BROWNSTEIN: If you remove the mandate, you'd would be removing --

CAIN: What we are debating is mandates.

BROWNSTEIN: Look what we're talking about. The fact that this campaign is being dominate by whose ads are truthful and are not is really a reflection of the failure or unwillingness of the two candidates to really make it about something larger. Maybe they are waiting until after the primaries to really engage. But we have very little idea, though there are big differences on paper, neither is engaged on the core variance to get the campaigns going.

The Romney ad is fascinating. Given the trouble he is facing right now among socially liberal, more affluent women to go out with an ad emphasizing that is really an acknowledgment of how much the coalition resolving around blue collar voters. But we have to talk about it or it will be a wasted time.

BERMAN: We will come back to it. But right now, we look ahead for Starting Point. up next, footprints on mars. Rockets. Footprints. New high definition photos of the red planet look a lot like earth. We're talking to the lead scientist on the mars mission next.

BALDWIN: And the mohawk that almost upstaged the mars rover. Here he is. Maybe not in that -- there he is, on the right side of your screen. The mohawk guy now getting marriage proposals via twitter. Wait until you hear some of them. You are watching Starting Point.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BERMAN: Welcome back to starting point, everyone. The Martian crater where NASA's Curiosity rover landed looks a lot like earth. Two new photographs stitched together here into a single image show the red planet's rocky surface and really just amazing detail. A California scientist compares some of the early pictures of the crater to the Mojave desert.

BALDWIN: And now that a navigation camera mounted on the rover mast is up, you see this picture, this is the rover itself, we're actually seeing some full-color high res pictures as early as today, including a 360-degree view. So all of you space geeks stay tuned for that.

Meantime, I want to bring in Dr. Michael Meyer, the lead scientist for NASA's Mars exploration program. We cannot stop talking about this, which I think is great for deep space exploration and for the inner space geek in all of us. But when we look at these pictures here, can you just translate for me -- when you se these pictures that look like the Mojave desert, what do you see? What can you tell about Mars in these early stages?

DR. MICHAEL MEYER, LEAD SCIENTIST: Well, it's just spectacular for one thing. We're only on day three being on Mars. And here we have these images to start exploring and understanding Mars in a different place at Gale crater. The spectacular thing about these pictures are that we see these huge mountains in the background. And it really promises to have layers, sediments, things for us to study, to unravel Martian history.

BERMAN: And this is as you said just three days into it, and we're getting so excited about these pictures. But give me a timeline here. I know the rover is headed to Mt. Sharp.

BALDWIN: You sound impatient. Give me a timeline.

BERMAN: What's next? when are we going to get to the mountain and what more can we hope to see?

MEYER: Well, maybe you're impatient, but certainly I'm much more than that. But it is one of those things that's a very precious asset that we now have on mars. It's priceless. And we're going to head toward Mt. Sharp. But it's not that close. It's about 6 1/2 miles as the crow flies. It may be over 12 kilometers, a little bit less in miles, as, you know, to go along the surface to find our way. That's the safest route to go. And this may take us quite some time. But one of the things that we're really excited about is that even in our landing area, we see several different types of soil regulate in the area that might in fact help us understand gale crater.

BALDWIN: Sir, we're excited about the mohawk man. These pictures seen all over. You laugh, we al laugh about this. But in all seriousness, I totally tweeted him this morning. His name Ferdowski. Doesn't look like a typical NASA scientist. And has he gotten a lot of attention, some ladies and maybe some men as well asking him to marry them. Let me run through these tweets. I know you've been busy. But will you marry me? Land something on Mars if the answer is yes. New life plan. Marry the NASA mohawk guy. Take trip to Mars. Play with his hair.

BERMAN: Have you met him? level with us. Is he really as great as he seems? Dr. Meyer? you're rendered speechless.

BALDWIN: We all just stare at him in wonder.

MEYER: I've seen him. Talked to him. But in terms of meeting, I wouldn't -- you know, we haven't really had a conversation. So he's a nice guy. And what he's really important is that he's an excellent engineer.

BERMAN: Oh.

BALDWIN: That is only going to do better for him. Now, he's not only a looker but he's smart and a great engineer.

BERMAN: We like it.

BALDWIN: And he's been busy with the whole landing on Mars thing and you haven't been able to focus on this?

MEYER: We all joke about this guy with the mohawk, but there's a serious element in this that we are all so excited all of a sudden.

BERMAN: I think the enthusiasm, whether it's mohawks or Mars, it's a great thing, right, Michael?

MEYER: It's beautiful. The important thing is doing a fantastic job, and it actually doesn't matter what your hair style is.

BALDWIN: I do want to stipulate we do think you have great hair also. We didn't mean to only focus on the mohawk guy. Thank you for joining us. And great work. We really are fascinated by everything going on up there.

MEYER: Well, thank you so much. And go Mars.

BALDWIN: Go Mars. We'll be right back. I liked his hair. Because it matters.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BERMAN: Welcome back, everyone. Ahead on starting point, New York City's partnering with Microsoft on a really cool new tool to fight crime. But the question is this. Are police getting a little too big brother now?

BALDWIN: They were supposed to protect a federal building. So how did security guards fail to notice a bomb for not one, not two, but three weeks? the fallout is next.

BERMAN: And more warning signing that might have been missed in the aurora movie theater massacre. What we could learn in a court hearing today. A live report from Colorado coming up next. You're watching Starting Point.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BALDWIN: It is half past the hour here on a Thursday. Welcome back to STARTING POINT. I'm Brooke Baldwin.

BERMAN: And I'm John Berman. Soledad is off this week.

We could soon learn more this week about the weeks leading up to the Colorado movie theater massacre.

BALDWIN: The suspect here, James Holmes, expected back in court this afternoon for it a hearing about lifting parts of the gag order in this case. Kyung Lah is live for us this morning. I know today's hearing focuses really on sealing the documents, correct?

KYUNG LAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely right, Brooke. It is about access to the case files. In criminal case proceedings, normally these sorts of documents are available to the public. But in this case, the judge has sealed it. And he has also taken the extraordinary case of sealing all the documents related to James Holmes at the University of Colorado.

So what the media is asking for today on behalf of the public is to try to get access to this information, to learn a little bit more about what was happening in James Holmes' life, what was happening in the immediate days before the shooting, so that the public can know a little bit more about him.

Something else that we are expecting today is whether or not James Holmes does appear. We are hearing from court officials that he is expected to appear. He's not required to appear, but his appearance is certainly something that we'll report on if he does appear. The first time he showed up, he had that unusual red hair. He was very out of it. His eyes were rolling. He didn't seem to understand what happened. The second time he appeared, there was no video of that, but he appeared a little bit more lucid, but still quite a bit out of it.

BERMAN: Let me ask you more about those documents. Why are they so legally important? What do you think is inside them that could impact this case?

LAH: Well, it's really the communications that Holmes had on a number of levels, first of all, with his university psychiatrist. And we have been reporting about this package that he sent to his psychiatrist. Within that package there is reportedly a notebook. So what did he tell his psychiatrist? What kind of planning was involved in the actual shooting itself?

And then it's whether or not the university psychiatrist, what does she tell the university? Our affiliate KMGH here in the Denver area has reported that the psychiatrist did reach out to the university threat assessment team. So what exactly did she tell the threat assessment team? And how alarmed was she? These are the details that we hope to learn today if the judge decides to unseal any of the documents.

BALDWIN: And what about doctor-patient confidentiality? I know that's one of the questions. Kyung Lah, we'll be following you covering that hearing later today in Colorado. Thank you very much.

Police in New York say they have tracked down the twitter user who threatened to attack a Broadway show. Police say the suspect is not actually in New York City, but they will interview this individual soon. Police had to issue a subpoena in order to get information about the suspect because Twitter initially refused to cooperate with investigators.

BERMAN: A Delaware pediatrician and his wife arrested for allegedly water boarding their 11-year-old daughter. You heard that right. Dr. Melvin Moore, a noted researcher in near death experiences, and wife Pauline face reckless endangerment charges. The couple's daughter said that her father held her face under a faucet at least four times in the last two years to punish her while her mother stood by and watched.

BALDWIN: And in Detroit, a bomb hidden in a bag sitting in this federal building for three weeks sat there before anyone actually realized what it was. According to a report just released by Homeland Security, the security guard at this particular building in Detroit finds the bag just outside the building. This is back in February of 2011. What does he do? Tosses it under his desk. At least two employees eventually x-rayed it, failed to identify what exactly was inside. A federal inspector also overlooked this bag during four separate checks, until two guards eventually got a little suspicious. They called in federal agents. So now have you these three guards who have been fired, number four resigning, and five others were suspended. A Michigan man was later caught and charged with placing the device outside the building.

Drivers in Las Vegas shocked when they saw these billboards with so-called "suicide dummies" hanging from them. I can understand why they were a little surprised. Police say at least three of these signs popped up in the city. They appear to be a form of protest art. One of them reads, "Dying for work." And another reads, "Hope you're happy, Wall Street." Police say they are trying to find out who's responsible for this. They call it vandalism.

BALDWIN: That would cause an accident if you all saw that on the side of the road.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Those were very effective advertising, though.

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I mean, it's like you're talking about it on CNN. That's pretty fantastic.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: You're talking about a 16-car pileup here maybe.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I took a look, and there were no accidents. Nobody crashed.

BERMAN: Yet.

(CROSSTALK)

BALDWIN: Hopefully they are down.

Still ahead on STARTING POINT, tragedy and triumph. The Olympic games have been a bit of an emotional roller coaster for this young women, American gymnast Jordyn Wwieber. She will join us live from London.

BERMAN: And New York City teaming with Microsoft to develop a new high tech crime fighting tool. It's sparking some serious concerns about privacy. We'll talk about that. You're watching STARTING POINT.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BALDWIN: Welcome back to STARTING POINT. It looks like something kind of out of a sci-fi movie, but New York City's new high tech surveillance system is really the real deal. NYPD, Microsoft are teaming up to create what they call the domain awareness system. What does that do? Look at your screen and we'll run through it. What it does is it allows police to access more than 3,000 closed circuit scanners, radiation detectors across the city as well.

BERMAN: Some people are saying it's a little bit too much big brother. Mike McDuffie and Lou Parello are here with us today. Mike, I want to start with you here. We've been talking about this and it really does sound like sci-fi. A lot of these cameras have been out there already. We've had ways to get this information. So what's different about this now? What can the police do now that they couldn't do before?

MIKE MCDUFFIE, VP OF U.S. PUBLIC SECTOR SERVICES, MICROSOFT: Well, there's several things. One, as you said, we've taken advantage from the work that's been done with cameras. You said 3,000 cameras. We have new cameras that read license plates. And you couple that with the ability to place sensors out that can actually sniff at radiological type capabilities, plus the take the video analytics that sit behind that. You bring that together and couple that with spot reports that come in from beat cops and other 9/11 calls, you bring that together and you create a synergistic set of information, and the behind sensors can create intelligence so you can very rapidly and act very effectively with the correct resources.

BALDWIN: So the synergistic tools, it's already been in place for six months already.

MCDUFFIE: Correct. That was kind of the special date when the capability really came online.

BALDWIN: But six months, what have you seen so far? Any stories, successes?

MCDUFFIE: Actually I'll pass that off to the PD. I'm not the operational guy. We're the technology behind the scene to try and give them the information. Commissioner Kelly yesterday in the press conference did say that there have been some operational successes using it.

BALDWIN: We do have some sound, and then I want to get your question in. This is what Ray Kelly actually said yesterday.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RAY KELLY, NEW YORK CITY POLICE COMMISSIONER: The system allows us to connect the dots by instantly tapping into the details of crime records, 911 calls, license plate readers, videotape footage, and more. What makes this tool even more useful is that all of the information is presented visually.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: Ray Kelly yesterday. Go ahead.

ROB BROWNSTEIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, we know that New York City revolutionized policing in the 1990s with the Comstat program, which used data in a way no one ever had to bring down crime. But when you look at the real-time aspect of this, what do you worry about most in the way that this could be used?

LOU PALUMBO, RETIRED NASSAU COUNTY POLICE OFFICER: I personally don't have any concerns for example, about it infringing upon or encroaching upon my freedoms. Of course, I have a different mindset. My attitude is simple. If you're not doing anything wrong, you do not really have anything to worry about.

The horse is out of the stall on this. We've had this in the city well over a decade. If you look at the street by street presence of video cameras in Times Square, Rockefeller Center, lower Manhattan around Wall Street, even up on Madison Avenue, Fifth Avenue, the high rent districts, they've been there for quite some time. And I don't think that this is an issue of freedom of liberty.

I think people really have to understand one basic concept here. This is a response to a need. You know, if you attempted to sell this program in the 1960s, people would have jumped down your throat. Based on the fact, need did not exist. If anybody is questioning whether or not there is a need for this today, there's a need to elevate the safety and security of the residents or visitors to the city, well, they are just in the wrong time zone.

BROWNSTEIN: I think people would accept that. But I'm not sure all Americans would accept the first premise that if you're not doing anything wrong, it shouldn't bother you that people can see you 24/7.

PALUMBO: No sir but I don't know if it's a 24/7, you know, scenario.

BROWNSTEIN: Or at least 16 hours a day when you're outside.

PALUMBO: I made that comment in context of myself and my mentality. The one thing about the program, in all candor, I realize it's somewhat dedicated to the midtown and lower Manhattan areas. Because that's the target value. I understand the whole concept.

I'd like to see this expanded through the boroughs to be very candid with you. One thing Mike and I have spoken about very briefly outside is that a program like this can elevate the safety of the first responders. If they have the ability to go in and make an assessment of what they are going into before they get there, you know, that just elevates the safety for the cops.

BERMAN: Let me just jump in here Lou. Mike, you know, you're involved with the Microsoft side of this program, any safeguards in place to protect privacy? Look, the NYPD has -- has come under criticism last year for -- for spying in some places on the Muslim communities.

(CROSSTALK)

BALDWIN: Muslim communities.

BERMAN: What are the safeguards you have in place here?

MIKE MCDUFFIE, LIEUTENANT GENERAL, RETIRED, U.S. ARMY: Well frankly you know the New York Police Department sets the requirements of the program and we bring our technology in and drive that accordingly to provide them the information. I mean, it's really about situational awareness. I mean, that's really what the whole system is designed to do, to help protect the public.

So when you say safeguards, I mean we really, you know, we answer to the police department on what technologies they want to apply. Well, obviously, the lawyers get involved in that and talk accordingly.

So I mean I -- I can assure you, you know, I have a military background. And we looked at situational awareness many, many times. This is a fairly normal evolution of the application of technology.

CAIN: It's not clear Mike not to be over simplistic, but this is kind of like Robocop technology where you can take a cop, a visual element, layer over it, warrants, prior arrest, any kind of information. You guys are already accumulating and present it in one complete picture?

MCDUFFIE: That's a -- that's a fairly good description. Yes it is.

BERMAN: Nice job.

BALDWIN: Robocop.

CAIN: And I appreciate that analysis, that if you're not doing anything wrong, you have nothing to worry about. But I don't know where that limit is.

BERMAN: Yes. That's going to be our last word on that subject. That's something we can all think about, I think really one of the big issues in this.

BALDWIN: And will it be just in New York? They might broaden out to other cities? I guess we'll wait and see.

BROWNSTEIN: Many issues like this coming in years ahead.

BALDWIN: Yes.

PALUMBO: Predicated on the success of the program here will influence how it's adapted in other cities.

BALDWIN: Of course. All right, Lou and Mike thank you.

MCDUFFIE: Thank you very much.

BERMAN: Ahead on STARTING POINT, reigning world gymnastics champion Jordyn Wieber. She was expected to dominate the individual all-around, but she didn't even qualify.

(CROSSTALK)

BALDWIN: What is next for her? We both want to know. She'll join us live from London, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BERMAN: "Aiming for Gold" this morning, the U.S. is leading the medal count to the summer games with 81 medals now. One of those medals belongs to gymnast Jordyn Wieber. She helped the U.S. women's gymnastics team win gold for the first time since the Magnificent Seven back in 1996.

BALDWIN: Right and now we're talking about the Fierce Five in London. And she joins us live. Jordyn Wieber, good morning to you. And just first things first, how is your -- how is your foot? How is your leg? Stress fracture.

JORDYN WIEBER, U.S. GYMNASTICS TEAM GOLD MEDALIST: Good morning.

Yes, my stress fracture it's doing fine now. I was able to push through the pain. And you know we're all a little bit banged up by the end of this trip anyways. So I was able to push through it.

BERMAN: You know, since you've been there, you've spoken to President Obama. You met Kate Middleton. You've won the gold as a team. You've been on a Kellogg's box. It all sounds pretty crazy.

But is there one thing that stands out as the absolute craziest moment of the Olympics so far for you?

WIEBER: There's been so many amazing experiences I've had here. So it's a lot of fun. And being on the Kellogg's Corn Flakes box has been one of the most exciting things. So I'm really happy about that.

BALDWIN: You know this Olympics for you -- and here is the front of box. And we'll look for it in our stores in the fall. But -- but this hasn't maybe exactly been the Olympics maybe perhaps you were hoping for. I know that despite expectations, you couldn't compete in the individual all-around. You finished seventh in floor. Yet you're talking about, you know, your strength.

Look, we all have disappointments in life and failures. And I think personally for my own, it has made me stronger. And I just wonder how -- how you have so much grace for your -- for your young age.

WIEBER: It was definitely tough. I had to turn to my teammates and my family for a lot of support. And really mentally, you know, turn it around because we still had the team times later on in the next couple of days. So I really meant to come together for the team and just stay strong.

BERMAN: But you know you could have shied away, you haven't had to answer all the questions since it all -- you know, it all happened. What advice do you have for people dealing with adversity like this?

WIEBER: My advice is just simply to believe in yourself. Just remember that, you know, everyone -- God has a plan for everyone. So just stay strong. And, you know, look to your teammates for support. And I've had so much support from my family. And everyone like that.

BERMAN: Ok.

BROWNSTEIN: Ron Brownstein here. A quick question, in terms of the medal count, the U.S. women have done even better than the U.S. men relative to the rest of the world. What do you8 attribute that to? Any thoughts on why that would be so?

WIEBER: I think it's great just to see that women are doing so well in the Olympic Games. It's definitely a lot of pride. So I'm really happy about that.

CAIN: Hey, Jordyn. This is Will Cain. You know one of the reasons people are talking about this -- this Olympics being a little bit of a disappointment for you is because you're the reigning world champion, right? Prior to this Olympics you're the all-around world champion.

So look, the Olympics is one year out of a competition for you every year. Where does this go for you? Are you going to keep competing?

WIEBER: I'm not sure yet. I would love to stay in the sport of gymnastics, as long as I can. I definitely feel like I have some unfinished business. And hopefully, you know, with the support of Kellogg's and the campaign from great starts come great things. I can keep moving on to greater and better things.

BALDWIN: Jordyn, final question you're going home with a gold. If it were me, I'd be sleeping in that thing. I don't know how many nights. What do you do with the medal?

WIEBER: I think it will probably stay in my room somewhere. I'm not sure yet. We'll have to see when I get home.

BERMAN: All right, Jordyn Wieber.

BALDWIN: Safe travels home.

BERMAN: Congratulations on the team gold. A job well done.

WIEBER: Thank you.

BERMAN: And our "End Point" is coming up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BALDWIN: If only people could hear our conversation in commercial breaks.

BROWNSTEIN: If only they knew.

BALDWIN: Oh, my goodness. So the "End Point".

BROWNSTEIN: I'm really struck by that Mitt Romney ad raising the contraception fight. Obviously it appeals to his socially conservative base of the modern GOP. But given where the economy is, don't you think that President Obama feels every day that you're talking about culture is a good day?

CAIN: I think that's probably an accurate point. You and I argued about this during the break. I don't think that the contraception issue is even a social issue. It's an issue about the role of government and mandating outcomes in this country.

BROWNSTEIN: Yes. In think tanks it is. In the real world, it's about access to contraception.

SOCARIDES: And you know, I think this negative tone will not help Mitt Romney. In order for people to vote for him, in order for him to have any chance of being elected president, he has to put forth a positive vision for this country, which he has not done at all.

It's all been about not being Obama. And so he can't win unless he starts to put forth a positive vision. Maybe we'll see it during the convention.

BALDWIN: We have talked so much -- we've talked so much about these ads on both sides, though. Are they effective though? For the folks -- they've been all over the country --

BROWNSTEIN: Well, look, we're talking about -- we're talking about, you know, potentially over $1 billion in spending aimed at 5 percent of the voters who are undecided in nine or 10 states. I mean you could buy everybody a television who is truly undecided with the cost that you're spending trying to reach them on television.

BERMAN: Quickly, if it stays negative, who does it help more? Will.

CAIN: Mitt Romney.

BROWNSTEIN: Clearly President Obama. (inaudible) change --

(CROSSTALK)

SOCARIDES: Clearly President Obama.

BROWNSTEIN: Romney has to reassure them to make a change.

CAIN: Clearly -- I got clearly thrown out.

I just got back from vacation.

BALDWIN: Welcome back from Hawaii.

SOCARIDES: Will is such a positive guy, that if Will wants to be positive, so that's why.

BALDWIN: And clearly Mohawk Man has not tweeted me back.

BERMAN: We will wait to hear from Mohawk Man and we will bring you the latest on Mohawk Man tomorrow.

BALDWIN: For now, Fred Whitfield back from the Olympics with her father, an Olympian himself. Fred Whitfield sitting in for Carol Costello this morning.

"CNN NEWSROOM" begins right now. Fred, good morning. Welcome back.