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STARTING POINT WITH SOLEDAD O'BRIEN

Chicago Teachers on Strike; Yemen: Al Qaeda's Second in Command Killed; Interview with Tony Danza; Head: America Honors Victims of 9/11; Government Now Admits 9/11 Cancer Link

Aired September 11, 2012 - 08:00   ET

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


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. Welcome to STARTING POINT. I'm Brooke Baldwin.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm John Berman. Soledad O'Brien is off today.

Our STARTING POINT today: remember the victims of 9/11, 11 years after the worse terrorist attack on American soil. This morning, a victory for some of the heroes who paid a terrible price to serve their country.

BALDWIN: Also, here we go, day two, the teachers' strike reverberating across the country. Thousands of Chicago public school teachers in this bitter dispute with the mayor there. Labor unions coming under siege. Is a resolution possibly in sight?

BERMAN: And a big apology. Why actor Tony Danza would like to apologize to every teacher, every teacher he ever had. The actor from "Who's the Boss" and "Taxi" is here with us live.

BALDWIN: We'll get him to weigh in also on what's happening in Chicago.

Also on the roster today, Homeland Security chairman, Congressman Peter King, homeland security adviser to President Bush, Fran Townsend, and Randi Weingarten, and president of the American Federation of Teachers.

BERMAN: It is Tuesday, September 11th, and STARTING POINT begins right now.

(MUSIC)

BERMAN: We are joined by our panel of fabulous friends, Roland Martin, host of "Washington Watch with Roland Martin."

BALDWIN: Good morning.

BERMAN: Hello, Roland.

ROLAND MARTIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: What up?

BERMAN: Ana Navarro is lovely week with Ana --

ANA NAVARRO, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: We spent two lovely weeks.

BERMAN: It went very fast. Ana Navarro is here.

MARTIN: Right, that was memorable.

(LAUGHTER)

BERMAN: Also, Ben Smith, editor in chief of "BuzzFeed" who hopefully who can help me out of this trouble I just got in with Ana right here.

(CROSSTALK)

BALDWIN: I remember all of it, Berman. I've got your back.

Welcome to all of you. It's nice to be with you here on this day, on this September 11th, 11 years, can we believe? We're going to talk about that in a little bit.

But, first, let's talk about Chicago, because it is day two of this massive teachers' strike that has people all over the country questioning really how our school systems work. Thirty thousand teachers here in Chicago are on strike. That translates to some 350,000 students not in school again this morning. And right now, no sign of a deal.

BERMAN: Casey Wian is at the Manuel Perez Jr. Elementary School in Chicago.

And, Casey, depending on who you listen to this morning, maybe some movement toward the deal overnight. But obviously still some big sticking points.

CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, John.

Some of the teachers, you can see, next to me that are protesting outside the school. They say that they are hopeful and optimistic that a deal can be reached today. Both sides say that a deal is within reach.

But these teachers saying that they want to make sure that the deal is fair for not only them but for their students. They say they are out on strike for a quality education for their students. The two issues that remain on the table, the two main issues are how these teachers are evaluated. The teachers' union is very upset with the plan to tie those evaluations closer to student test scores.

They say that's unfair to teachers in low-income, lower-performing communities. Also on the table is who has the authority to decide which teachers are hired after teachers are laid off. Rahm Emanuel, the mayor of Chicago, wants the principals of individual schools to have that authority. The teachers union wants more of that authority, to stay with it.

So, those are the two issues on the table. Unfortunately, both sides say those issues weren't being talked about when they broke off talks last night. But they are expected to resume later this morning. Again, both sides are hopeful that a deal can be reached. But so far, no movement.

BERMAN: All right. Casey Wian, by the picket line in Chicago this morning, there's a lot of policy to talk about but also a lot of dicey politics.

And coming up in just a short while, we're going to have Randi Weingarten. She is the president of the American Federation of Teachers. We will put some question to her about this.

BALDWIN: But, first, let's take a look at the morning's top stories here.

Eleven years have passed now since the terror attack that forever changed our lives. This morning America remembers the 10,977 lives lost on 9/11.

At Ground Zero this morning, family members of victims will participate in the traditional reading of the names. That ceremony begins just about 34 minutes. It will be marked by six moments of silence.

Two at the exact times the planes hit the Twin Towers and two at the times each tower fell and then two to mark the exact moments of the attacks of flight 93 and the pentagon.

BERMAN: The president and first lady will observe a moment of silence before arriving at the Pentagon at 9:20 for a wreath-laying ceremony to honor the 184 lives lost there.

And Vice President Biden will speak at the memorial in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, at 10:00 a.m. Eastern.

Later this hour, we're going to talk about 9/11 and how far we've come in the fight against terror with former homeland security adviser Fran Townsend and New York Congressman Peter King, who is chairman of the Homeland Security Committee.

BALDWIN: Also new this morning, over this dispute that had been stalled really the construction of that museum, that 9/11 Museum at Ground Zero. The good news this morning, it appears to be settled. We were just talking to Mayor Michael Bloomberg about this. Last night, the deal was reached between New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.

So the construction of the $700 million museum, which was supposed to open back in 2009, is expected to resume soon. Still, though, no date as of yet when it will open.

BERMAN: And we have some news on the war on terror overnight. Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula suffering a major blow. Yemen's military has killed the second in command there, Abu Said al-Shihri. He was reportedly responsible for recruitment and fundraising. Local officials say he was killed by a U.S. zone strike in a car in which he and other militants were traveling.

BALDWIN: Also this morning, a wrestling legend is in the hospital after frightening moment during WWE's Monday Night Brawl. Commentator Jerry "The King" Lawler collapsed during last night's broadcast. Co- host Michael Cole broke the news to fans with an empty chair right next to him.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICHAEL COLE, WWE ANNOUNCER: I want to preface this by saying this is not part of tonight's entertainment. This is a real-life situation.

My broadcast colleague Jerry "The King" Lawler earlier on tonight collapsed mid-match while on commentary. He was -- he fell out of his chair to the floor below. Doctors were here immediately. Emergency personnel would stretcher him out of the area to the back where he received CPR.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: Cole updated fans throughout the broadcast about Lawler's condition, a statement on WWE's Web site says he suffered a heart attack.

BERMAN: A Tulane University football player who fractured his spine in a head-on collision with a teammate is alert and responsive after a three-hour operation. Devon Walker is expected to remain in intensive care for the next few days. But it's not clear if he'll be permanently paralyzed.

Walker is a 21-year-old senior majoring in cellular biology. He's a New Orleans native who is planning to attend medical school after graduation.

BALDWIN: Britain's Andy Murray winning the first ever tennis grand slam title after four tries. He beat Novak Djokovic in a marathon five-set match to win the U.S. Open, Murray's win was a victory for his country as well. It's a first time in 76 years a British player has won a grand slam men's title, the last Brit to do so back in 1976, Fred Perry won that way back then.

BERMAN: Every 75 years or so, we like to throw a bone to the Brits. Here take on. It's yours.

BALDWIN: There you go.

(CROSSTALK)

NAVARRO: All about Britain this year. Can you believe it? They got Olympics, they got a naked prince. They got (INAUDIBLE) going on.

(LAUGHTER)

BALDWIN: He's back in Afghanistan.

To Chicago we go. We're talking about strike number -- day number two here, public schools closed once again in Chicago, meaning about 350,000 students will not attend class again.

BERMAN: Joining us now is the president of the American Federation of Teachers, Randi Weingarten. The Chicago Teachers Union is an affiliate of your union. You've been involved with this, on the phone with him all week.

I just want to check in with you right now. You're with us last hour. Is anything happen in the last hour since we talked to you?

RANDI WEINGARTEN, AMERICAN FEDERATION OF TEACHERS: They're going back to the table at 9:30 this morning. And, you know, there is, as I'm sure you saw from yesterday, there is a seriousness at the table as there was this weekend. No one wants a strike.

And the teachers are on strike because they are trying to get the tools they need to help educate kids and they are trying to get the resources that kids need.

Now, I know that the strike is -- you know, people talk about money all the time. But the real -- if you actually listen to the teachers and listen to parents in Chicago, they want to make sure books are delivered on time. They want to make sure that class is for actual instruction. They want to make sure that they have the tools to help kids, the wraparound services kids need.

BERMAN: I do want to talk about politics, because this is a presidential campaign season and politics have already been injected into this debate. Your organization endorsed President Obama. You were down in Charlotte for the Democratic National Convention.

Yesterday at the White House, President Obama spokesman Jay Carney wouldn't answer any questions about the strike other than saying that the president is thinking about it. He did not come down and say that the president supported the strike there, supported the teachers union there.

Do you feel that the president abandoned you?

WEINGARTEN: Look, the president said, as you should, that this is a local dispute. When candidate Romney tried to use it opportunistically against the president, the president basically said it's a local dispute. The president doesn't get involved in local disputes around the country.

BALDWIN: But if I may, last hour you said this is absolutely a national issue, schools across the country should be paying attention. The fact that you're here, we're a national news organization. This is something that reverberates nationwide.

Why shouldn't the president take sides?

WEINGARTEN: The issues at the table are about how we make sure that education is delivered in Chicago. The issues at the table are about how those are, on some levels, national issues because of the austerity you've seen throughout the nation, the budget cuts you've seen throughout the nation, the 300,000 teacher layoffs you've seen throughout the nation.

But this is actually going to be solved at the bargaining table between the mayor and the teachers union.

(CROSSTALK)

NAVARRO: Do you think it would help if he got involved and showed some leadership? I mean, you know --

BALDWIN: That's his home town.

NAVARRO: He is the president, but he's also from Chicago. He was a senator. His kids used to go to school in Chicago. His secretary of education used to be the Chicago chancellor.

So, almost his entire inner team, inner circle, are folks from Chicago. They've got a particular sensitivity.

So, my question to you is, would it help if somehow he got involved, showed some leadership, tried to bring the parts together? God knows he knows Rahm Emanuel, who's not an easy person to negotiate with, but Barack Obama --

WEINGARTEN: You can say that again.

But look, the bottom line is that this needs to be solved in Chicago. It has reverberations nationally. We're all talking about it. But it needs to be solved in Chicago and no one wants to be on strike.

The reason that the teachers are out there is because they don't have what they need to help kids.

My mom was a school teacher. She went on strike once. I hear the same frustration as what my mom used to talk about all the time.

BALDWIN: My mom was a teacher, too.

WEINGARTEN: They want to be in school with kids. They just -- you know, we were talking last hour about the evaluation system. They want to make sure they're evaluated fairly. They want -- just like teachers across the country. They want to make sure that --

MARTIN: You keep using the word tool. Let's deal specifically what we're talking about. Pay was one of the issues. Evaluation was another issue. But also, teachers being laid off, going into a pool, because they're trying to protect jobs.

So, how do you doo deal with that in terms of principals choosing their own teams as opposed to the current method? So I wonder -- I'm saying this specific issue -- the teachers union, are you opposed to principals choosing their own teams, teachers in their own schools?

WEINGARTEN: We are for ensuring that the teachers who are great teachers actually stay on the job. What's happened in Chicago, like across the country, is half of the teachers that come into schooling leave within the first three to five years because they don't have the support that they need. And what's happened in terms of Chicago, as around the country, is that sometimes it is about who you know, not what you know, that actually keeps your job.

MARTIN: But, first of all, Randi, I spent six years working in Chicago, I totally understand. One of the problems is that in this debate, it seems to be a debate in terms of teachers aren't doing what they should be doing, but keep in mind the previous mayor, Mayor Daley, took control of the schools. You had school closures.

WEINGARTEN: Exactly right.

MARTIN: One of the concerns was that even if they were doing better, they were shutting down and all of a sudden those teachers would be displaced and moved out and you had a lot of disruption there as well.

So, education in Chicago goes beyond just what teachers are doing, also the other side.

WEINGARTEN: Before Ben gets in, I just want to make the point that Roland just made about communities. That's what you're seeing in places like New York and in Chicago. When schools close in communities, it destabilizes communities. That's part of the reason that communities, that's part of the reason NAACP, that's part of the reason La Raza (ph), that's part of the of us are saying, let's fix schools, like we did, frankly, in the chancellor's district in New York city where we actually did the various different things that they're calling for in Chicago and we turned around every elementary school that was failing within two years.

BERMAN: Ben, get it in here quick.

BEN SMITH, EDITOR IN CHIEF, BUZZFEED: Isn't what Rahm is doing an extension of federal policy of where Obama is and where Arne Duncan is, this kind broad push for reform?

WEINGARTEN: You know, there's lots of different districts where we've gotten collective bargaining agreements where we've been able to actually figure out what are the tools and conditions we need to actually implement these new, higher standards?

What are the tools we need to actually have a real, fair, reliable evaluation system? What's happened here is that between the budget cuts, between the increase in poverty, between not listening to the teachers, you have utter frustration.

BERMAN: All right. Randi Weingarten, thank you so much for joining us. Guys, thanks for joining here. This is a good discussion.

WEINGARTEN: Thank you.

BERMAN: Talk to you again soon. Hopefully, this will get resolved very soon.

WEINGARTEN: Thank you.

BERMAN: And ahead on STARTING POINT, al Qaeda's number two taken out. And our next guest says this is a very, very big deal. Homeland security adviser to President Bush, Fran Townsend, joins us live.

BALDWIN: Also ahead this morning, they are the first responders who spoiled (ph) and rubble (ph) at Ground Zero and waited for more than a decade for help as they battle the cancer caused by toxic fumes down there. Finally, a breakthrough on this 11th anniversary of the attacks. You're watching STARTING POINT.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BALDWIN: Welcome back to starting point here on this Tuesday. We are just about 20 minutes away now from the start of the ceremony at the September 11th memorial in Lower Manhattan. U.S., as you know, been waging a war on terrorists since the horrific attacks 11 years ago today.

And just last night, we got word that Saeed al Shihri, the second in command of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula has been killed. That is some big news. We are joined now by Fran Townsend and worked from the Bush administration from 2004 to 2008 on the issue of Homeland Security.

This man in the Arabian Peninsula dead, how big of a deal is this?

FRANCES TOWNSEND, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CONTRIBUTOR: Very big. I mean, look, after Anwar al-Awlaki being taken out, you have to understand that this is a real blow to their leadership. Al Shihri was captured by U.S. forces, served six years in Guantanamo, was part of the repatriation program.

He was then turned back over to the Saudis. He's a Saudi citizen. He was put into their rehabilitation program. And like many prison rehabilitation programs, including in this country, he then escaped. He goes -- with him and his family escaped into Yemen where he's one of the founders of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.

We've heard many senior government officials, including the intelligence community say al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula is the most active group in terms of targeting American interests, particularly, aviation. Not only the underwear bomb that one Christmas years ago, but also the computer cartridge, and more recently, the disrupted plot.

So, this is a very active group, taking out a senior member of their leadership is very significant.

BALDWIN: I want to get to some reporting on our end. Our senior international correspondent, Nic Robertson, actually sat down and had this exclusive interview with the brother of Ayman al-Zawahiri, basically the boss of al Qaeda, as fair to say.

So, I just want to play this, because he's proposing something bizarre, basically, to broker a peace plan between the west and these radical Islamists. So, I just want to play this and I want your reaction to this plan. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MOHAMED AL-ZAWAHIRI, BROTHER OF AL QAEDA LEADER, AYMAN AL-ZAWAHIRI (through translator): A truce where ten years that could be extended. The west and its allies to stop intervening in the Muslim nations and retrieve its armies, the U.S. to stop supporting the oppressive rulers.

As a corrective measure, the U.S. should allow the Islamic movement to establish Sharia law, at least in the nations where it has become accepted with dominance and acceptance from people. Americans to stop intervening in the teaching of Islam and the curriculum, directly or indirectly, to release all the prisoners from both sides, to stop the war in Islam in the name of terrorism.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: So, you hear part of what he's proposing, to be clear in return the Islamist would stop attacking or provoking western interests. Seems absurd, but you mentioned this rehabilitation program in which clearly it's flawed because he escaped. What do you make of that?

TOWNSEND: Oh, I think this is -- we got to understand it's complete garbage.

BALDWIN: Garbage?

TOWNSEND: I mean, honestly, I want you to think about it. Osama Bin Laden, when he was alive, said that if we removed troops from the Arabian Peninsula, we wouldn't be attacked and it didn't stop their targeting effort. It's complete crap. I mean, and the notion that we would even considering Beijing (ph) within -- not that we are, right?

We played bad. But I think you've got to understand that for what it is. By the way, they've not had a successful attack, thank God, in the last 11 years.

BALDWIN: Thank, God.

TOWNSEND: And so, they're negotiating from the position of weakness.

MARTIN: Fran, is Saudi Arabia doing enough -- listening you to describe that, turning him over to that government, are they doing enough in this battle? Because they're our ally, but when you talk about where most of these terrorists are coming from, you're dealing with Saudi Arabia right there at -- really, in the central location.

TOWNSEND: I'm not sure that that's right, Roland, to be honest with you. I think very few Americans really appreciate after 2003 when there was an attack on one of the housing compounds there. The Saudis provide us with more direct intelligence or certainly as much and in times more than our British allies.

That's not a knock on the British, but that's to tell you the extent of the sharing on critical targeting information. And, by the way, the computer cartridge attack, we didn't know about it. We couldn't have found it. We got very specific intelligence. The number on the bill leading to find the package came from the Saudi intelligence service. So, they're pretty good allies, Roland.

BERMAN: Fran, any final thoughts on the September 11th anniversary, where we are on the war on terror?

TOWNSEND: I will tell you, coming in this morning, clear skies, crisp, cool air, you know, very reminiscent. That's right. And I must tell you, it's a morning where rather than focus on the tragedy, it's a good time for us to remember those who fight in uniform for our safety.

Those who are not in uniform, the intelligence analysts and the collectors, frankly, who are the ones who are responsible and enable the Bin Laden operation. And so, there's lots of people that we ought to be very thankful for today that have kept us safe over the last 11 years.

BALDWIN: Great. I'm glad you brought that up, Fran Townsend. Thank you so much.

TOWNSEND: Thanks. Thanks for having me.

BALDWIN: Still ahead this morning here on STARTING POINT, lessons from the so-called convention bounce. Will it turn into a permanent bump? Roland laughs again and breaks down of all those important independent voters show. That bounce may actually not be so helpful. We're going to take a look at that next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BERMAN: And welcome back to STARTING POINT, everyone. This morning's "Tough Call" is all about the bounce. President Obama coming out of his convention with some momentum. The president gained four points in the latest CNN/ORC poll. He now has a six-point lead over Mitt Romney, 52 percent to 46 percent.

Last week, they were tied at 48 percent. But, it is not all good news for President Obama. Look at this. The CNN poll shows that independent voters, those key swing voters, they support Mitt Romney by a rather large margin. So, this bounce, is it real and will it stick? Have at it.

SMITH: I mean -- you know, there's been a series of polls suggesting Obama's up, you know, four to eight points nationally. And he's stronger in the swing states than he is nationally, because in a lot of those states, the economy is doing a little better than it is nationally, in places like Ohio.

So -- I mean, you know, it looks like a real bat. The independent voters' numbers are complicated, because a lot of those people are people who left the Republican Party, you know, over the last -- in the Bush years who were disillusioned with Republicans but who are basically conservatives, who are basically going to end up on the right no matter what.

MARTIN: The problem with that is what was it before? I mean, we can say it's ten points now, but was it lower before? Was it higher before?

(CROSSTALK)

MARTIN: I'm not rounding up anywhere. My own point is this is going to be a base election, and advance point, the bottom line is, how are you performing in the critical states? OK. Overall is irrelevant. How do you get to 2-7-0? That's the critical issue that both camps are looking at.

(CROSSTALK)

BERMAN: So, Ana, if you believe both these men, it's a real bounce. You are our resident Republican here.

NAVARRO: First of all, do not go on the assumption that I believe these two men. I like these two men, but I'm not sure I believe these two men.

(LAUGHTER)

BERMAN: But are you nervous?

NAVARRO: No. I'm not nervous. But I don't panic easily, and I don't think it's time to press the panic button, but it is time to get to work. You know, panic won't win elections. Work and focus will. And I do think that, you know, what this shows is that conventions matter. There is no doubt in my mind, having survived -- barely survived the two of them, that the Democratic convention was much better than the Republican convention.

I'm not sure that we should call this the Obama bounce or the Clinton bounce, but it is a bounce, nonetheless.

(CROSSTALK)

NAVARRO: Maybe I'll just finish by saying Obama is speaking too early.

(CROSSTALK)

MARTIN: I don't know if reminds people, Brooke. Bill Clinton spoke in 2008, also in 2012, so not like that's real new, but here's the other key --

(CROSSTALK)

MARTIN: But you know what, guess what, the Republicans wish they had a former president who can come to their convention and do that. Bush, George W. Bush, President George W. Bush, way too toxic. But here's the real issue. The Democrats needed this convention for enthusiasm. Their own party, they were down.

And so, I think, part of this bounce is also Democrats now being revived, because they feel much better after the convention. I talked to many elected officials who say they were very afraid before the convention started. BALDWIN: Mitt Romney's campaign called the Bill Clinton speech is being called a sugar high.

BERMAN: To your point our poll does show that enthusiasm did increase among the Democratic voters.

We'll have to leave it there because very exciting, with why actor Tony Danza would like to apologize to every single teacher he has ever had.

BALDWIN: Good morning.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BALDWIN: Welcome back to STARTING POINT. Let's talk about Congressman Todd Akin, because he has returned to Capitol Hill, and he sure seems determined to stay right there. This is the first time he has been spotted in Washington since his comments on legitimate rape. Fellow Republicans are calling for him to drop his bid for Missouri Senate seat. Akin making it crystal clear he is not backing down.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. TODD AKIN, (R) MISSOURI: I'm not getting out. I made that clear.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: September 25th will come and go and you'll still be in the Senate race?

AKIN: That's what I'm saying. I tried to say it about five times. I know you want to hear it. Thanks, guys.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: Meanwhile, Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. still has not returned to work, is not headed back to the Hill. He has been released from the Mayo Clinic where he was treated for depression. The family says he is still under supervision and there is no timetable for his return to congress.

BERMAN: Trenton, New Jersey Mayor Tony Mack is not facing corruption charges after being caught up in the federal sting operation. Mayor Mack was arrested on Monday. Prosecutors said the men allegedly accepted approximately $119,000 in bribes as part of a scheme to sell city-owned land to investors for less than the assessed value.

BALDWIN: A huge ice floe has forced Royal Dutch Shell to postpone drilling off the north coast of Alaska just one day after the controversial project got started. This chunk of drifting ice is more than 32 miles long, 12 miles wide, forcing a Shell drilling ship to move off the site.

BERMAN: The iPhone-5 is expected to be released tomorrow, and it could not only boost Apple's bottom line but help boost the entire economy. A JP Morgan economist says sales of the new iPhone could add a quarter to half a percentage to our country's GDP in the fourth quarter. Analysts expect Apple to see some 8 million iPhone 5s in the last quarter alone.

We have a special guest right now, taxi driver on the beloved sitcom "Taxi," and "Who's the Boss." And he got a chance to teach tenth grade English in Philadelphia.

BALDWIN: He learned a couple of valuable lessons and wrote a book called "I would like to Apologize to Every Teacher I've Ever Had." Tony Danza, good morning.

TONY DANZA, ACTOR: Good morning, thank you.

BALDWIN: Before we get into this book and your teaching. Let's talk about Chicago.

DANZA: Talk about timing.

BALDWIN: Here you are this morning.

DANZA: Holy mackerel.

BALDWIN: What do you make of what's happening? We're talking 30,000 teachers, 350,000 students. What do you think?

DANZA: My heart goes out to the kids and the families that are disrupted because they have to find a place, something to do with them when they're not in school. I also think -- I wonder, and I can't help myself, but I wonder how bad it must have been in this climate, this environment where unions and teachers are pretty much demonized, to actually go out on strike, to make that call.

BALDWIN: The first time in 25 years.

DANZA: And certainly, like I said, not an environment where it would be anything but a public relations disaster. So, I don't know. It must be pretty -- I think when you -- if you're a teacher now, I think what's happened is that there's been so much budget cutting, so much changing of the way it's been. There's a reaction. People are scared, just like anybody else. Teachers are people, too. I hate to hit you with a cliche.

BERMAN: You side with the teachers on this?

DANZA: It's not that I side with anybody. I would love to see the kids back in school. I would love for us first to be really committed to public education again, John. I'm not sure we are. You know, I mean there are bad teachers, absolutely. Just like there's bad actors.

(LAUGHTER)

BALDWIN: Don't point to yourself.

DANZA: But what I'm saying is, and Randi Weingarten made the point. I saw more discouraged teachers. It's like just as you're getting good you say, I can't do it. BALDWIN: Let me jump in and explain why you're talking about this with you a little more, because you spent a year in public schools in Philadelphia as a teacher. You initially had cameras following you. They left. You followed on in the year.

DANZA: It was 181 days, but who's counting? But when you see the need and the commitment people are making. There's a guy in the book saying he's coming back his 37th year. I said why are you coming back? He said maybe this year I'll get it right. So there's a commitment, a calling. You have to remember, you have this responsibility, this amazing responsibility that they're only going to get one tenth grade English class.

BALDWIN: You woke up one morning and you said --

DANZA: I wanted to be a teacher when I went to school, and I didn't do it. My friends became teachers and I became a fighter. Next thing I know, I was on TV and here I am. It's been great. I'm not complaining. Don't get me wrong. Talk about lucky.

But it's always been something in my mind. I'm worried about the situation. You can't drop out this many kids and sustain a great country. Where are you going to get the workers? These are our kids.

MARTIN: Isn't accountability part of the problem? You say there are bad teachers. There are bad principals and administrators and school boards, and if you want to be honest, also some bad parents. Three sisters and one brother and I got some horror stories. Talk about education, how much of the owns is put on the teachers as opposed to the other folks?

DANZA: You know who there's no onus on? There's no onus on the kid. Let me explain something. You get into the Philadelphia district, I was in orientation with 800 teaches. You could have taken over the world with them, they were so committed, ready to go. How do they get discouraged? Impossible. I'll tell you how they get discouraged. As a teacher, this is the mantra. How are you going to engage the kids? You got a way to engage the kids? The kids know this. They're like, hey, I'm here. Engage me.

BALDWIN: You cried a little bit, Tony Danza.

DANZA: They make you cry. First time I cried I think the teachers were like, now he knows. I felt like my mother was there, finally. You know? It's an emotional grind. I'm not, you know -- this issue in Chicago is a whole other thing. As far as my book is concerned I tried to tell the story of, you know, what it's really like in a school of 3,500 kids, all -- every kind of kid you could imagine.

BALDWIN: Walking through metal detectors.

DANZA: -- to special education and everything in between.

BERMAN: The book is "I would like to Apologize to Every Teacher I Ever Had."

DANZA: How about them apples?

BERMAN: Thank you for joining us this morning.

DANZA: Thank you very much.

BERMAN: You're watching STARTING POINT. We're be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back to STARTING POINT everyone. We are monitoring the September 11th ceremony now under way at Ground Zero in Lower Manhattan.

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: We won't -- we won't talk you through this. We'll just sit in and take a listen. We're about to have that first moment of silence when the north tower was hit.

(BEGIN LIVE FEED)

CHOIR: And the rockets' red glare / the bombs bursting in air / gave proof through the night / that our flag was still there / oh, say, does that star-spangled banner yet wave / o'er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

(END LIVE FEED)

BALDWIN: We will never forget. Live pictures both in Washington, you saw the President and First Lady walking out to the South Lawn to remember that first tower being hit. The reading of the names here. Family members of victims, live pictures, One World Trade.

We've learned just as of last night finally now that the dispute has now been reached over that 9/11 Museum. So our coverage this morning of the September 11th attacks, 11 years later, continues in just a moment with Congressman Peter King from Long Island, Chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security. We'll take you live to lower Manhattan, next.

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BALDWIN: And welcome back to STARTING POINT. Live pictures here at Ground Zero. The reading of the names, can you believe 11 years now? 11 years since that Tuesday, that day as well, the terror attacks in New York, of course in Washington and Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

Many of the people who worked amid the rubble at Ground Zero after the attack many became very sick, developing cancer and the government would not cover treatments for them until now.

BERMAN: Federal officials said now announced that 58 forms of cancer now will now be covered under the so-called Zadroga Act for those people exposed to toxins at Ground Zero.

New York Congressman Peter King co-authored that law, he joins us live now from Ground Zero. Congressman King before we get to that act I just want to ask you 11 years, it's -- every time we -- we participate in the moment of silence, every time we hear the reading of names, it seems so real, so current, so now. Yet 11 years, this is such a long time.

REP. PETER KING (R), NEW YORK: Eleven years is a long time. But anyone who was alive on September 11th, anyone who knew anyone who was killed on September 11th, it's a day that will never go away. And yet today being down here such a vibrancy -- such a sense of life.

I remember you know you know, first down here after the 9/11 with President Bush just three days later. It was hard to imagine we would ever come back the way we have. But the spirit of America, the spirit of New Yorkers here. And so we have to enjoy the life that we have today but never, ever forget the horror of September 11th.

And we have to do all we can to make sure it never, ever happens again.

BALDWIN: Congressman King this is Brooke Baldwin here, nice to see you.

KING: Hi, Brooke. How are you?

BALDWIN: I do now -- I want to talk to you about the Zadroga Act, which you -- which you co-authored. Now, I know you're applauding now finally that there's cancer coverage. But my question to you, is why did it take so long for so many people to be covered?

KING: Brooke, this whole -- this whole situation is inexcusable. It shouldn't have taken five years to pass this Zadroga bill in the first place. Secondly, once it was passed, it was so obvious that these forms of cancer came from what happened here at Ground Zero. I mean, you have young men and women in their 30s and 40s, in the peak of their life, coming down with these rare forms of blood cancers, these rare diseases and you have a rare disease that maybe one out of 100,000 people get and three people working together would get it, working together at Ground Zero.

This was wrong. This was really where the government and the Congress did not do the job they were supposed to do for the heroes of 9/11. And now we have -- we have another struggle ahead of it. Because these 50 -- these 50 new forms of cancer are covered but the amount of the money in the fund has not been increased.

So we have to find ways to increase that fund. We have a moral obligation to stand by those who put their lives on the line, not just on 9/11, but in the days and weeks and months following 9/11.

BERMAN: And one Senate Republican I think had scraped about $3 billion out of the bill in 2010. But $2.77 billion was set aside in the bill for lost wages and other damages related to these illnesses. None of that as of now has been dispersed. What's the hold up there?

KING: Well actually it's a -- the whole process is ongoing. I -- I feel that it was passed in 2010. And it is actually going according to schedule as far as the types of treatment. So I -- I am not that concerned about the money being spent. It will be spent. And I'm been talking to people from other (ph) programs speaking to those who are being -- who are going to be treated, that is moving along.

The big delay was on the 50 new cancers and the next crisis is going to come with there not being enough money in the fund. And you're right, it was taken out -- it was taken out by people in my party. I said then and I'm saying now it was wrong. This is the money we have an absolute moral obligation.

This is the same as people who have been wounded in battle. And we have an obligation to them. And I'm going to do all I can to make sure that we get that money in over the next several years.

BALDWIN: Congressman King, just really quickly as a chairman of the Homeland Security Committee you now know about this book, this former you know Navy SEAL who wrote this book, this tell-all of what happened the day that the Osama bin Laden raid went down. He talked to "60 Minutes". Does that upset you him speaking?

KING: Brooke, I think it was a real mistake doing that. I mean these guys were incredibly heroic, what they did was so monumental. But to disclose anything about that -- that incident is wrong. It tells the enemy what our tactic and procedures are. And no matter what the Navy SEAL says about he didn't put anything sensitive in there. There has to be sensitive material there.

Also this started with the White House last year. They should never have said anything other than Osama bin Laden was killed by U.S. forces. Leave it at that. Nobody had to know it was Navy SEALs, nobody had to know there were two helicopters.

BALDWIN: Ok.

KING: Nobody had to know how many men were in the operation. None of that, so anyway, it was all a mistake.

BALDWIN: Congressman King, we appreciate you being with us from Ground Zero. Thank you.

And our "End Point" is next.

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BALDWIN: So this is the "End Point" when we chat about something that you've been thinking about, then go for it.

SMITH: Nice having some (inaudible) 11 years after 9/11, by just how long it was, how you know Barack Obama, an unknown state senator with one daughter, 11 years later is the President in the White House is just suddenly ordering drone strikes. With drones I mean, the whole it's just we're kind of living in this future there.

BALDWIN: Totally new place, 11 years later. Thank you all so much for being with us here on this special, special morning. So much more coverage, of course and many more moments of silence in the CNN NEWSROOM.

BERMAN: With Carol Costello, which begins right now -- Carol. BALDWIN: Good morning.

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks to both of you. Good morning. I'm Carol Costello.

Right now we are remembering the day that changed our nation forever. For the next two hours, we'll remember the victims and honor the ultimate triumph of the 9/11 terror attacks.