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STARTING POINT WITH SOLEDAD O'BRIEN

Fires Ravage Parts of Washington; Paul Ryan's Candidacy Debated; Julian Assange Given Asylum by Ecuador; Punk Rock Band Found Guilty In Russia; Police Shoot Striking Workers; Passengers Asked To Chip In For Fuel!; Campaigns Honor 9/11; Obama Accused Of Taking Bin Laden Credit; University Of Colorado To Segregate Gun Carriers; Boy Drowns, Brother Missing; Keystone Pipeline Breaks Ground; Bill Clinton Hugs Bill Clinton?; Picture Perfect

Aired August 17, 2012 - 07:00   ET

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


SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. Welcome, everybody. Our "Starting Point" this morning, Romney and Obama neck and neck. The key swing state of Wisconsin changes from lean Obama to a true toss-up. This fierce battle is getting closer. Plus, a direct attack on the president's political strengths. This.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BENJAMIN SMITH, FORMER NAVY SEAL: Mr. President, you did not kill Osama Bin Laden, America did. The work that the American military has done killed Osama Bin Laden. You did not.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: A group of former special ops and CIA officers slam the president for exploiting the Bin Laden operation for political gain.

And fear of lightning -- worried homeowners are watching the weather as major wildfires are raging across the west. We have a packed show this morning. Democratic Congressman Kathy Castor will be our guest. Republican Congressman Jason Chaffetz is back with us. Former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations John Negroponte joins us, Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio is joining us as well. It's Friday, August 17, and STARTING POINT begins right now.

Welcome, everybody, our starting point this morning is the Paul Ryan factor. A new poll shows Ryan's addition to the ticket has turned his home state of Wisconsin into a battle ground state now. The overall numbers aren't changing much, 49 percent of registered voters say they back president Obama, 45 percent say they support Governor Romney. It's very positive polling of Ryan in that state that now makes it up for grabs in our CNN analysis. It's a state that hasn't gone red since Ronald Reagan. Jill Dougherty is live at the White House for us this morning. Good morning, Jill.

JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Soledad, if you look at the poll, it doesn't really -- Ryan doesn't radically change the polling but does change the perception each of those campaigns has about this election. After all, Wisconsin is really very key to both sides, 10 electoral votes. If you look at 2008, Barack Obama won it by 14 points. We're looking at quite a difference.

Also, it's a state that there are now eight states as toss-ups, so a lot is changing and you'd have to say that the Obama campaign is still evaluating how realistically Ryan does change the equation.

O'BRIEN: We also heard Governor Romney for the first time in a little while talk about taxes, his own taxes once again, bringing that back into the conversation. What did he say?

DOUGHERTY: Well, this is an issue that doesn't seem to go away. It's in the White House and Obama's interest to not have it go away. As you know, Governor Romney has released one year, 2010 and kind of a summary, an estimate of 2011 taxes. And the Democrats, the Obama campaign have been yelling for him to release more. He has not done that. And Harry Reid said, release all of them. In fact, he said, Governor Romney hadn't paid taxes -- any taxes for 10 years.

So Romney went back and looked at his taxes and claims he paid at least 13 percent. Now, the punch line I guess you would have to say is the Obama campaign says, prove it, which means, you would have to release all of your taxes. So we're back to this kind of circular thing, and again, it's an issue for the Obama campaign, they don't want to go away.

O'BRIEN: Jill Dougherty, thank you, appreciate it. We'll get more on the race for the White House in just a few moments when we talk to Kathy Castor.

First though I want to get right to John Berman with a look at today's top stories. Good morning.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, Soledad. We have developing news out of Afghanistan where two service members have been killed this morning. The U.S. military says a uniformed afghan officer turned his weapon on the troops in the Farah province before being shot and killed himself. This is the latest incident in a string of similar attacks on U.S. forces and follows a Taliban statement that the group says it has infiltrated Afghanistan security forces. CNN cannot independently confirm that statement as of right now the incident is under investigation.

Wildfires burning out of control this morning across the sun- scorched Pacific Northwest, dozens of fires burning in 13 states, most of them in California and Nevada and Idaho. In western Washington state, there is a new concern and it's lightning. Let's bring in meteorologist Rob Marciano. Rob, a handful of evacuees have been able to go back to their home, but they are the exception, aren't they?

ROB MARCIANO, METEOROLOGIST: Yes, John. Just a few on southeastern flank where they are confident they held the line. We're on the northeastern flank where the hills are still glowing behind me. There's a large community where those residents won't be able to go back for quite some time. This fire crews on the ground and aerial assault continues with military choppers coming in with Chinooks to aid in the firefight. We talked about the unpredictable nature of how this thing whipped up. Listen to what one victim had to say yesterday.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LARRY PUTNAM, HOMEOWNER, WASHINGTON: This one was different. You couldn't predict it. The wind kept changing. When you thought you were good, then the big wall of flames would come up and go a different direction.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MARCIANO: He and his wife managed to escape their home, but their house was burnt to the ground. They are not alone. Over 60 homes completely destroyed by this fire. The winds have died down but the heat has built again. Temperatures reached 100 degrees and we'll see it again today. As you mentioned in your toss to me, the lightning will be a threat as thunderstorms pop over the weekend. A fire weather watch has been posted through Sunday. No one will rest easily until then, until this fire is completely contained. And that won't be until at least next week.

BERMAN: Rob Marciano next to the fires in Washington state. Have a good morning.

The West Nile aerial assault beginning in Texas. Dallas County conducting spraying to control mosquitos and put a stop to the epidemic. 230 people have been infected and ten have died and in neighboring Oklahoma, 61 people have been infected with West Nile and three people have died there. This a growing concern, Soledad. We talked to Dr. Gupta about it yesterday.

O'BRIEN: John appreciate that.

Wisconsin now up for grabs, CNN calling that state which hasn't gone Republican since 1984, a toss-up. Kathy Castor a member of the House budget committee. Nice to see you. We appreciate it.

REP. KATHY CASTOR, (D) FLORIDA: Good morning.

O'BRIEN: You too. Let's talk about the recent polls that we started our program with this morning. When -- essentially in a nutshell says Wisconsin is in play, a state that went to president Obama in 2008. The numbers haven't changed really since polling before Paul Ryan was tapped to be the VP on the GOP ticket, things that have changed is polling about him, favorable. His favorability is high, 50 percent choice of a running mate. People say excellent or good, 54 percent. Is he qualified? Look at the answer to that. The answer yes, 56 percent. You've got to be concerned with those numbers in the polls and not just for Wisconsin, really for the whole Midwest region, right?

CASTOR: Well, it is natural that the home state congressman is going to provide a little bit of a surge in Wisconsin. But what the addition of Congressman Paul Ryan does for Mitt Romney across the country, especially here in my home state of Florida will be a real drag, because of their extreme views on Medicare and their plan to end Medicare as we know it. People are just now learning the details of this Medicare voucher plan. And they are not going to like it, especially here in Florida and Tampa bay area where we have more of my neighbors that rely on Medicare than other parts of the country usually.

O'BRIEN: And Republicans would say it's not ending Medicare as we know it. It's giving a voucher system that would help people pay for it and start thinking I guess hard choices about how you pay for things, how you fund something that we look down the road is going to run out of money.

CASTOR: Well, to the contrary, what the nonpartisan CBO has established that it does not save any money. It simply shifts the cost to our parents and grandparents. The CBO says on average Medicare beneficiary would pay over $6,000 more.

And look, Medicare is one of things that makes America great. It's that fundamental promise that you work hard and play by the rules and pay into Medicare all of your working life, it is going to be there for you and you can live your retirement years in dignity even when you're confronted with a diagnosis of Alzheimer's, cancer, heart disease.

So what Mitt Romney has done with the addition of Paul Ryan is crystallize this issue of the economic security of our families. People on Medicare but also the next generation like me, where we have relied on Medicare because if our parents didn't have it, that would be an economic crisis for our entire family.

O'BRIEN: What we're seeing now is a battle over the messaging of Medicare. Republicans and Democrats are trying to win the battle over the messaging. Ultimately, do you think whoever wins that battle over the message of who's going to save or who's going to destroy Medicare is going to win the election?

CASTOR: I think it is going to be a very important part of it because whether you're talking about jobs or Medicare, fundamentally it's the economic security of our families and the Romney policies really are a threat to the middle class. Look at the tax policy. They want to provide additional tax breaks to the wealthiest across the country, those who do not need it and ask middle class families to pay more.

And then when you pile on top of that, a proposal to end Medicare as we know it and turn it into a voucher system rather than that fundamental promise that is made -- has been made to generations of Americans, that is -- you're speaking right to the heart of what's important to families. I was out at the senior center on west side of Tampa and town and country on Friday, even before Paul Ryan was named and their issue is how am I going to make ends meet in retirement. I have health concerns. I have children and grandchildren --

O'BRIEN: Again --

CASTOR: -- who have been struggling.

O'BRIEN: Whoever wins that messaging battle will have the great advantage. Congresswoman Kathy Castor, Democrat from Florida, thanks for talking with us.

CASTOR: Thank you, Soledad.

O'BRIEN: Coming up in our next hour, we'll hear from the Romney camp, Jason Chaffetz, the Republican Congressman from Utah will be my guest in our next hour.

Still ahead on STARTING POINT, a standoff outside an embassy in London going on right now. Inside is one of the most controversial men in the world. Diplomatic dare game with Julian Assange.

And out "Get Real" this morning, it's an online witch hunt in a way, eBay targeting the occult. We're back in a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BERMAN: We are minding your business this morning. According to federal officials issued an alert to motor coach companies that focus on overweight limits on tires when double deck buses are loaded, following an accident in Illinois that killed one passenger and injured others two weeks ago.

U.S. stocks are poised for a mixed start and quiet trading week. Dow and S&P 500 futures are down slightly while NASDAQ futures are trading higher. Meanwhile Facebook shares rose slightly after falling more than 6 percent in trading Thursday. Money is moving to Asia. A new survey called the weather report says Singapore will be home to the richest people in the world. The list is dominated by Asian economies. Singapore tops with an estimated per capita income of $138,000, followed by Hong Kong, Taiwan and South Korea. The only western economy projected to remain in the top five is the U.S. with a per capita income of $101,000.

O'BRIEN: John, thanks.

The future of Julian Assange is very much in question this morning. The WikiLeaks founder still holed up in the Ecuadorian embassy where he took refuge two months ago to avoid extradition to Sweden to face sexual assault charges. He is set to give a prepared statement in the doorway of the embassy on Sunday. And that's critical, in the doorway, because if he steps outside of the embassy, he could face arrest. Officials announced that the embassy will give him diplomatic asylum saying he could be sent to the United States for leaking sensitive documents. Protesters gathered outside the embassy as British authorities made it clear they are not going to allow him to leave.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We will not allow Mr. Assange safe passage out of the United Kingdom, nor is there any legal basis to do so. The United Kingdom does not accept the principle of diplomatic asylum.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: John Negroponte, the chairman of the Council of Americas. Thanks for talking with us. If you do a good news/bad news, good news is Ecuador has granted you asylum. Bad news you are stuck in the Ecuadorian embassy in London. So he is in a room with one window. If he walks out the door or literally leaves the front door, is he subject to arrest?

JOHN NEGROPONTE, CHAIRMAN, COUNCIL OF AMERICAS: My understanding is that the British will arrest him and extradite him to Sweden. That has been the judicial process in the United Kingdom. That's what would happen. I served in Ecuador, it happens some 40 years ago as political counselor in the embassy so I know a little about the country. I think they've consistently had problems of governance and I think in part the president is trying to cover up for the inadequacy of his own country's political system, the mistreatment, it's kind of ironic, the mistreatment of the Ecuadorian press in the name of press freedom out -- in the outside world. It's a very ironic situation.

O'BRIEN: So that begs the question, of course, what's in it for Ecuador? And it can't be just happenstance that there's an election down the road there and the messaging that you're able -- that that country would be able to do against the United States, true? That would be valuable as well, right?

NEGROPONTE: Clearly he's doing this for political considerations. I think he wants to -- Hugo Chavez of Venezuela is ill at the moment. Perhaps Mr. Correa aspires to take the mantle of Hugo Chavez when he passes from the scene. But I really -- I'm very concerned for the long-term relationship between the United States and Ecuador. And I can't see what earthly interest in action has on the part of Ecuador in terms of having good relations with the rest of the world. I think Elliott Angle of the U.S. Congress said it well when he said that Mr. Correa is adopting a poke the U.S. in the eye attitude. And I agree entirely with that.

O'BRIEN: We'll see where it goes for Julian Assange as well. John Negroponte is joining us this morning. Thank you, sir. Nice to see you, as always. Appreciate your time.

NEGROPONTE: Thank you.

O'BRIEN: Still ahead this morning on STARTING POINT, eBay is taking a stands against black magic. They are banning magic potions and curses and spells.

BERMAN: Harry Potter?

O'BRIEN: I don't know. It is our "Get Real" this morning. Our STARTING POINT team is walking to talk about that and much more. Richard Socrides is with us, Ryan Lizza, Will Cain. Good morning, good morning.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BERMAN: Welcome back to STARTING POINT. I'm John Berman checking the headlines right now. It was a wild ride in the streets of midtown, Manhattan, a spooked carriage horse broke loose and bolted up Broadway, right outside CNN. O'BRIEN: I saw it.

BERMAN: After this carriage broke, just minor injuries, the driver and passengers are said to be safe this morning.

A Louisiana sinkhole the size of a football field nearly swallowed up two workers. They had to be rescued by air boat. It first appeared two weeks ago and it just keeps getting bigger. Cleanup operations have been suspended because of the danger. And 150 nearby homes have been evacuated.

U.S. customs turning into a giant shoe closet after agencies of Christian Louboutin, they seized nearly 20,000 pairs of this red soled shoes. They could have raked in $18 million if they had reached the underground market. I really only found out what the shoes were about an hour ago. I'm told they are very nice. If they are being ripped off, it's a big deal, right is it.

O'BRIEN: They are very, very expensive is what it is.

RICHARD SOCARIDES, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: John Berman knows exactly what Christian Louboutin shoes are.

O'BRIEN: They have that red sole. Everybody knows the underneath part -- they cost at least $600, they are not kidding when it's like serious money.

SOCARIDES: Do they make money's shoes?

O'BRIEN: I don't know about that.

Our team this morning, Richard socarides, a writing for the New Yorker.com. And Ryan Lizza, Washington correspondent for the "New Yorker," and Will Cain is a columnist for theblaze.com.

Our "Get Real" this morning, if you go to eBay to buy things that are supernatural, eBay forced to ban sales of the supernatural, starting at the end of this month, they'll take down all of those ads that sell magic spells and potions and hexes. Yes, for example, magic potion of lust, very potent they say, 399 is where the bidding starts. After this month, no more. Then magic motion of divine spiritual awakening, $51 on eBay. If you really have serious money, for $99,995, you can get a haunted blessed life bracelet, it was created by a coven, but apparently the end of this month --

WILL CAIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: There's a market for hexes and spells and removal of such.

O'BRIEN: Craigslist, however, is not removing.

RYAN LIZZA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This won't bring out your Cainian libertarianism?

CAIN: If eBay wants to remove it, they should be allowed to.

SOCARIDES: They can go to Craigslist, reversal spells, luck spells.

(CROSSTALK)

O'BRIEN: My list is so long. I'll tell you on the commercial break. It is long. We want to know what you think about this story or any of our big stories this morning. You can send us a quick video, 20 seconds or less. If you want to make a point about the show, we're calling it "My End Point" and we'll pick one and included in the end of the show in our end point. Go to our blog at CNN.com/starting point.

SOCARIDES: Maybe people can tweet us who they want to spell.

O'BRIEN: Interesting.

SOCARIDES: It's Friday, right, so we have to have a little fun.

O'BRIEN: Still ahead on STARTING POINT, interesting new dorm rules at the University of Colorado. They have a special request for under graduates who want to keep guns in their rooms.

Plus a group of ex-special ops and CIA officers are very angry this morning, accusing President Obama for taking credit for the bin Laden raid. You're watching STARTING POINT. We're back in a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: Welcome back to STARTING POINT. In just a few moments, we're going to be talking to former Navy SEAL Scott Taylor. He'll join us live.

He's part of a group of former special ops and CIA officers who are slamming the president for leaks that they say are exploiting the Bin Laden operation for political gain.

First though, we want to get right to John Berman. He's got the day's top stories. Hi, John.

BERMAN: We have some breaking news this morning, a verdict is in I believe in Russia, a female punk rock group has been found guilty of hooliganism after they were arrested for performing a song that was critical of President Vladimir Putin.

Their case has become a cause for free speech around the world with protests at embassies in London and New York. Madonna and Paul McCartney are just a couple of the huge few artists who voiced support for them. Each of the band members now faces up to seven years in prison for that stunt.

A standoff turns into a slaughter. We warn you some of the video you're going to look at right now is rather disturbing. Riot police in South Africa opening fire with automatic weapons on a group of striking mine workers.

At least 18 people were killed. The ground there just littered with dead bodies. These pictures are really horrible. It happened near Johannesburg.

Miners there are demanding better wages. Police say they were viciously attacked by the miners who were carrying sticks and machetes they say. The police say the firing in self-defense.

Pass around that hat. This story is truly shocking. Let me walk you through it. Air France flyers asked to chip in for fuel. Passengers say they were asked to help pay to refuel their plane on a flight from Paris to Beirut that was diverted to Damascus, Syria yesterday.

An Air France spokesman told the AFP that the crew couldn't pay for fuel with a credit card because of financial sanctions that have been slapped on Syria. Now it's not clear how the payment was eventually arranged, but the flight was able to get in safely to Cyprus.

The former president of the National Border Patrol Union has been indicted by a federal grand jury. Terrence Jake Bonner is accused of allegedly diverting union funds for personal travels, sports tickets and portable drives to store pornography. Bonner retired from the organization in 2010.

Now in a show of solidary, President Obama and Mitt Romney will not run campaign ads on September 11th. This has happened in the past. Similar steps were taken in 2004 and 2008 presidential campaigns.

"Priorities USA," a pro Obama "Super PAC" also agreed not to run spots. The pro Romney "Super PAC, "Restore our Future," they has not immediately responded regarding their plans -- Soledad.

O'BRIEN: All right, John. Thank you.

The raid to kill Osama Bin Laden is one of the events of the Obama presidency. But a new video is attacking the president for taking too much credit. Look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President, you did not kill Osama Bin Laden. America did. The work that the American military has done killed Osama Bin Laden. You did not.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: There are 22 more minutes to that video in which the president is also accused of using intelligence leaks to score political points.

It features former Navy SEALs and intelligence officers through a group called, "The Special Operations Opsec Education Fund." And Scott Taylor is the president of that group. He's also a former Navy SEAL. He joins us this morning from Virginia Beach.

It's nice to see you. Thanks for talking with us. We certainly appreciate it.

SCOTT TAYLOR, FORMER NAVY SEAL: Good morning.

O'BRIEN: In that 22 minutes, people who are interviewed are really, really furious. Why are they mad?

TAYLOR: Well, let me first preface this by saying, it's a coalition of SEALs, Special Forces, Delta Force, ex-CIA, Marines, runs the whole gamut of special operations and intelligence communities.

It's a serious group, highly organized and highly motivated and really fed up with the amount of leaks that have come out of this administration in the past couple of years.

O'BRIEN: So you're mad about the leaks? And it also sounds like you're mad about the president taking credit for the raid too, is that right?

TAYLOR: Yes, we're upset about the amount -- unprecedented amount of leaks that have come out in the past couple of years as well as the over politicizing of the raid itself, absolutely.

O'BRIEN: When you watch that video though, and you take a look, you have a version of the president's evening address where they announce the death of Bin Laden. Take a look at that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Tonight, I can report to the American people and to the world, that the United States has conducted an operation that killed Osama Bin Laden.

I directed Leon Panetta, the director of the CIA to make the killing or capture of Bin Laden the top priority of our war against al Qaeda. I met repeatedly with my national team and determined we had enough intelligence, at my direction -- I directed. I directed.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: So 27 seconds, you got a lot of edits in there to make your point. What you leave out is what the president also said in that very same address and I want to play that for folks.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PRESIDENT OBAMA: To give thanks for the men that carried out this operation, for they exemplified the professionalism, patriotism and unparallel coverage of those who serve the country and part of a generation that is born the heaviest share of the burden since that September day.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: Why leave that out? TAYLOR: Because of course the personal credit taken overshadows that, doesn't it? So does the year anniversary commercials, so does the high level access, the Hollywood producers who have given them a want to know basis rather than need to know basis, which is what's supposed to happen with classified material.

Again, this group is very serious and we're very motivated. We're subject matter experts that affect the most. We're worried about future operations being hindered and we're worried about our brothers and sisters being put in harm's way unnecessarily because of politicians.

O'BRIEN: I know you know some of the criticism and it is that even though you claim to be nonpartisan, that this group is actually very partisan. You're Republican. You ran for Congress in 2010 in Virginia's second congressional district.

You have a rep in your group who worked for the Bush administration. You share office space with Republican groups. How do you answer that claim of being partisan when you claim that you're not?

TAYLOR: I answer that claim by first saying that this is an American issue. You yourself reported extensively on leaks, so have every other network that's out there whether you're fighting a war or you're playing a game of basketball.

You don't want the other side to understand what the strategy is. I understand the criticism that people will say, you're a Republican. I'm an American first. I'm an American before I'm a Republican and I was in the special operations community and buried a lot of friends over the past few years.

If by speaking out in a nonpartisan way will hopefully prevent any future lives being lost unnecessarily, I'll do it every single day. Again, I'm an American before I'm a Republican.

CAIN: Scott, this is Will Cain. Listen, the criticism of whether or not you guys are being partisan or nonpartisan kind of seems beside the point to me.

But one area that might be legitimate criticism is this, you're focusing on leaks. Legitimate leaks, leaks that have been criticized from Democrats including senator like Dianne Feinstein.

But what you guys had done in the ad, you've also seemingly reached a conclusion that those leaks are coming from the administration and they are being used for political gain. Do you think that is a fair conclusion to reach from the questions you're asking?

TAYLOR: That is the same conclusion that's been even on this network. Suzanne Kelly reported on it not too long ago on this network, on other networks, it's been the same conclusion.

What we need to understand, what the American public needs to be educated on, which is what we're trying to do is that security is very compartmentalized. There are only a certain finite amount of people who know certain aspects of security.

So it had to have been leaked from the highest levels of government. That being said, you know, the president is the commander in chief and the way the military works, you are solely responsible for your house to keep it in order and to keep the leaks responsible. So it is up to the commander in chief, as you were commander of any military unit, you would be responsible for your men as well.

O'BRIEN: But Suzanne Kelly, I've got to just jump in, when you talk about her reporting. Her reporting did not come to a conclusion, as I think you well know that. Ryan?

LIZZA: The point you just made about President Obama being the commander in chief, it seems it cuts both ways. If you're the commander in chief, you make that decision to get Bin Laden. You get the credit, don't you?

I want to read you a quote from Admiral Bill McRaven who is a former SEAL himself. He told Wolf Blitzer on CNN --

TAYLOR: Sure.

O'BRIEN: I think we have this. Why don't we just play it?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ADMIRAL WILLIAM MCRAVEN COMMANDER, U.S. SPECIAL OPERATIONS COMMAND: At the end of the day, make no mistake about it. It was the president of the United States that shouldered the burden for this operation, that made the hard decisions.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LIZZA: So that's -- that's the commander in chief. Why doesn't he get credit for executing that operation as commander in chief? If you're going to criticize him for leaks, why not the other side?

TAYLOR: That is a great question. And I absolutely believe that the president as should any president who over -- presided over this type of operation should get some credit.

But to the level of credit they have taken, it's pretty gross. Admiral McRaven who I have profound respect for, but what you left out in your clip was that Admiral McRaven specifically said.

And I'm pair phrasing, if these leaks aren't clamped down then people will get killed and operations will be hindered. You should have played that clip as well.

O'BRIEN: And President Obama we should reiterate has said that also and I think there have been six prosecutions for leaks as well. It will be interesting to see --

TAYLOR: There have also been an unprecedented amount of leaks in this administration. So you say, yes, there are six prosecutions, but there's been unprecedented amount high level leaks over the past couple of years and that's why this group is speaking out.

O'BRIEN: That is correct. You're absolutely right on that. Thanks for joining us this morning. Scott Taylor is the president of Special Operations Opsec Education Fund. We appreciate you joining us.

TAYLOR: I appreciate you guys. Thank you for having me.

O'BRIEN: Still ahead this morning on STARTING POINT, banning guns from college dorms. We're going to tell you what the University of Colorado was doing to try to prevent gun violence. Our panel will weigh in on that.

Plus, stunning photos from around the globe. Some of the winners in the National Geographic Traveler photo contest and they are phenomenal. You're watching STARTING POINT. We're back in just a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: Welcome back to STARTING POINT. When classes begin next week at the University of Colorado, a new policy will be in effect. Students over 21 who have permits to carry a concealed weapon will be segregated. They'll be assigned in designated off-campus housing and in other dorms, guns will be banned.

The new policy applies in to CU campuses in Boulder and in Colorado Springs. Students in that off campus housing will have to keep their guns in a safe when they are not carrying them.

The issue of gun violence reared its head again most notably with the movie theatre shooting that happened in Aurora, Colorado. It's not a surprise I think that they are having this debate right now in places that have these rules for students.

RICHARD SOCARIDES, WRITER, NEWYORKER.COM: It's interesting, right, that the school tried to ban guns entirely, but the Colorado Supreme Court overruled that policy saying that they had overstepped their authority.

It's amazing now right at this day and age when -- especially when there's this violence around schools that people should feel safe at schools, right? It's amazing that the court struck that down. I mean, you would think you would be able to ban a gun at the school.

O'BRIEN: I don't think it's amazing at all. I think this is the crux of a very heated debate over are people --

SOCARIDES: In dorms? Don't you think you would be allowed to ban guns in dorms?

CAIN: I think your overlooking is the threat rarely comes from those who have obeyed the law and got the concealed gun carrying permit and are law abiding citizens who happened to have guns. The threat normally comes from those who flout the law. SOCARIDES: The school should be allowed -- if you enter into a contract with the university, you want to come to that campus, the school should allow or be able to have a law against you having a firearm.

CAIN: A rule against that. Yes, I think that probably sounds reasonable that a school can make rules like that for its campus. I mean, as long as -- as long as it's in accordance with the state law.

O'BRIEN: It will be interesting. I mean, I wonder how parents would feel about that, do you send your kid to a school that hasn't had rules about whether or not you can carry a concealed weapon in the dorm.

LIZZA: Apparently, there aren't that many kids -- less than 1 percent.

SOCARIDES: Good news in this.

LIZZA: You're going to have one dorm that's heavily armed.

CAIN: They can only carry in the dorm.

O'BRIEN: Well, there are rules, it's not just -- it sounds like there's a compromise here.

Anyway, got to move on, ahead on STARTING POINT, picture perfect. Have you seen these winners of the 2012 "National Geographic Traveler" photo contest? The images are nothing short of stunning. We're going to show you the 12,000 who won the top three. You're watching STARTING POINT. We're back in a moment.

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BERMAN: Welcome back to STARTING POINT, everyone. I'm John Berman. We're going to update you on the day's top stories.

A 10-year-old boy is dead and the search is on for his 6- year-old brother, both were swept away into the Merced River at Yosemite National Park. They were taking a break from hiking with their family on Wednesday when this tragedy happened, very, very sad. The 10-year-old is the park's third drowning victim this year.

Well, it has begun. The controversial Keystone pipeline has broken ground. Construction officially started near Livingston, Texas. It was met with heavy protests yesterday. At least one group has threatened sit-ins and other acts of civil obedience.

Approval for the international portion of the pipeline is still pending. President Obama rejected that permit in January over concerns a rupture might threaten a sensitive aquifer in Nebraska.

All right, President Clinton reunited with Bill Clinton. A 14-year-old Ugandan native, Bill Clinton, who was born the same month the president first visited the East African country, was reunited with that Bill Clinton during his recent trip.

President Clinton encouraged his young namesake to stay focused on his dream of getting a medical degree. He even offered to fund his education. I thought it was really cool to have a kid named after you, Soledad, until I learned someone named a cat after you.

O'BRIEN: Yes, I had a cat named after me once. And it was a horrible, hissing, nasty cat. I wonder why.

LIZZA: You have to love that Bill Clinton, though.

O'BRIEN: That is so cute. Isn't that great? I love it.

SOCARIDES: I remember when he met that young man when he was a kid. It's a beautiful story.

O'BRIEN: When I was in South Africa, there were so many people who named their children after Chris Rock and Alicia Keys. It was really a sweet thing.

All right, we move on now. They are simply stunning. I'm talking about pictures in "National Geographic's Traveler" magazine filled with incredible images taken from around the world. Readers were given a chance to submit their own photos, and literally they are incredible.

It's all part of the annual travelers photo contest. The best images were chosen from 12,000 submissions across 150 countries. The contributing editor of "National Geographic Travelers" George Stone is with us to talk about some of the winners.

While we're talking about, I want to roll through some of the 12,000 entries. Really words do not describe how amazing some of these photos are. We'll get to the top three in just a moment. Tell me a little bit about the contest and who entered.

GEORGE STONE, CONTRIBUTING EDITOR, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC TRAVELER: Well, it's been an amazing explosion of entries. As you mentioned, we had 152 countries represented among these 12,000 entries. They're passionate travelers. They are individual people who go places, who bring their cameras, and they compose a scene and they share their world with us.

It was hard work to pick through these. But then again, it was a great opportunity because it broadened our horizons at "National Geographic Travellr." We think we know the world, but we don't. We haven't been everywhere.

O'BRIEN: You know that was my sense as you look through them, and you think, my God, there are a million more places that I have to travel. If you look at the third place winner, it's called devotees in Sicily, Italy. Let's throw that picture up.

STONE: This is a holy week celebration and these men have been carrying these heavy statues. This is the Passion of Christ, all night long. And finally, at dawn, they get to stop and rest. And what you see on their faces is a passion of their own. They are exhausted. It almost -- you know, it's -- they near their own space. And yet you can relate to that. And it's one of those pictures of an event around the world that you'd like to travel to.

O'BRIEN: Second place, called my balloon. It was out of Vietnam. That's beautiful. I love this picture.

STONE: It's stunningly composed. There are some unique decisions that the photographer made here. One of them was to present it in black and white, which challenges the viewer to add a little information, color.

What is the scene like? But it also recede this image into memory, and it almost seems like a dream. Here are these kids playing in Vietnam. They are from a tiny village and they are playing like kids do all around the world.

O'BRIEN: First place was a photo taken in Afghanistan. And it's called butterfly. Tell me about this photo.

STONE: This we all agreed was the most remarkable picture of all. It's a very intimate shot. The photographer earned the trust of these villagers, this woman and her daughter, to enter this Yert, which is a felt tent.

You can see the gorgeous textiles behind them and yet you see the tiny elements of modernity, a television and a stereo. So it's a convergence of worlds. And yet it's a very intimate shot, beautifully lit and beautifully composed. And it has texture and it's just a remarkable scene.

LIZZA: When you are looking through these pictures, what's the most important thing you're looking for? Is it the composition or it seems like it's the story behind the picture?

STONE: That's exactly right. We're looking for a sense of place and a story. And a story is a combination of knowns, things that you can see, things that you can gather information from, textiles.

And in this particular case the Yert, the people, what they're wearing, but using your imagination to fill in. Who is this woman? What are they doing? Is this how they live and it is how they live.

SOCARIDES: Can I ask you? Can you take a great travel picture on your phone?

STONE: Increasingly, you can. And that's one of the remarkable things. I think people are becoming more visual, and now people are equipped to take advantage of that all the time. So we have our smartphones. We travel with them. When a photographic opportunity arises, we are ready to snap it.

O'BRIEN: Next year, 25,000 submissions I'm sure.

STONE: Please, bring them on. We're ready to go and we've got prizes for them.

O'BRIEN: It looks amazing.

STONE: Well, one thing that's exciting this too is that the photography continues. The grand prize winner is actually going to the Galapagos to take more pictures.

O'BRIEN: George Stone is a contributing editor for "National Geographic Traveler." It's nice to have you with us this morning.

STONE: Thank you very much.

O'BRIEN: Appreciate it. We have to take a short break.

Still ahead this morning, now that he has been granted asylum, will Wikileaks founder, Julian Assange go free?

Also ahead, we're taking you to the frontlines of a wildfire fight out west and she is burning mad. A Dallas cowboy fan sues the team after she sat on a hot bench and got third degree burns. You're watching STARTING POINT. We're back in a moment.

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