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EARLY START WITH JOHN BERMAN AND ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN

New Details On Attack Against Americans In Libya; "Fast And Furious" Report Released; Accused Aurora Shooter Returns To Court; Final Journey; NHL Cancels Pre-Season Games; Romney To Latinos: Campaign Is About The "100 Percent."

Aired September 20, 2012 - 06:00   ET

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


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Only on CNN this morning, new information about the murder of the U.S. ambassador to Libya. What Chris Stevens knew about potential problems in the weeks before his death.

ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN: "Fast and Furious" fallout. More than a dozen officials blamed in a blistering report on the botched gun running operation, but not the attorney general.

BERMAN: And this -- a split-second save. Take a look. A police officer pushes a woman to safety just before disaster strikes. What a picture.

All right, good morning and welcome to EARLY START, everyone. I'm John Berman.

SAMBOLIN: It is 6:00 a.m. in the East. I'm Zoraida Sambolin. We are happy you're with us.

We begin this morning with brand new details on the attack in Benghazi that claimed the lives of the U.S. Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens and three other Americans.

The nation's counterterrorism chief telling Congress it was an act of terrorism. He says armed extremists saw an opportunity to attack during protests over an anti-Muslim film and they took it.

And more exclusive new details, sources tell CNN, Ambassador Stevens expressed concerns about security in the months right before he died, specifically mentioning a rise in Islamic extremism and a growing al Qaeda presence in Libya as well. He also acknowledged being on an al Qaeda hit list and warned a journalist in an e-mail sent last summer that things were heating up. That's what they said.

Foreign affairs reporter Elise Labott is live from Washington this morning. And if Ambassador Stevens was so worried, why wasn't his security beefed up?

ELISE LABOTT, CNN FOREIGN AFFAIRS REPORTER: Well, Zoraida, in the recent days, senior State Department officials offering the most vigorous defense of Ambassador Stevens' security and the security of the diplomatic office in Benghazi. Telling me that although there was no threat specifically on the consulate, that they knew that, you know, things were, as you say, heating up in Benghazi. So starting in June, when there was actually an IED attack at the consulate.

They started reinforcing the facility, in addition to barriers, in addition to steel doors on the walls, adding a lot of reinforcement, some physical security, also adding guards to the consulate.

Our understanding is, the night of the attack, there were five armed U.S. shooters, in addition to a group of armed Libyan militia, living on the compound. And they say what these senior officials are telling me is, they don't believe it was an issue of actual physical security at the consulate.

They say the amount, Zoraida, of manpower, of firepower, that the consulate faced that night, really, it's not an issue of physical security. So they're trying to offer a real defense, saying that at no time did anybody come to them, Ambassador Stevens or anybody else, to urge greater physical security.

They said that even before 9/11, that a physical check of the embassy was done, that security measures were examined, and that the consulate was deemed to be safe, Zoraida. Obviously, in retrospect, it wasn't.

SAMBOLIN: All right, Elise Labott, live in Washington for us. Thank you for those details.

BERMAN: Our other big story this morning, the Justice Department investigating itself and finding no criminal behavior in the botched gun running operation, "Fast and Furious." Inspector General Michael Horowitz did single out 14 people for poor judgment and bad management.

Two of them are already gone. One retired and the other resigned. As for Attorney General Eric Holder, the report says he was essentially out of the loop.

Crime and justice correspondent, Joe Johns, joins us now, live from Washington. And Joe, what are the details of this report?

JOE JOHNS, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Hi, John. So this report from the Justice Department's inspector general said Operation Fast and Furious and related matters revealed a series of misguided strategies, tactics, errors in judgment, management failures that permeated ATF headquarters.

And the Phoenix field division where all of this was going on, and at the headquarters of the Justice Department here in Washington, D.C. that referral, 14 people for possible disciplinary action. No one was recommended for criminal prosecution.

It was just about an hour or less after the report was released, two of the highest-ranking officials named in the report were out, former ATF Director Kenneth Nelson and Deputy Assistant Director General, Jason Winestein. And also found no evidence that Attorney General Eric Holder knew about Operation Fast and Furious prior to 2011. I asked one of the Republican Congressman Jason Chaffetz, if this meant Holder was exonerate, because as you know, Holder was cited with contempt of Congress for failing to turn over documents to Congress. Chaffetz essentially said no.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. JASON CHAFFETZ, (R) UTAH: Well, I mean, this is his organization. He takes personal -- he should take some personal responsibility to this. And to suggest that everything he said was right and that everything Congress did was wrong, is -- would be a mischaracterization of what's moved forward here.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JOHNS: Holder issued a statement saying, among other things, it's unfortunate that some were so quick to make baseless accusations before they possess the facts about these operations, accusations that turned out to be without foundation that have caused a great deal of unnecessary harm and confusion, John. So we're going to have this hearing today. That's the next step.

BERMAN: Well, you know, we heard from Jason Chaffetz just there, Joe, and Darrell Issa, who's the chairman of the Oversight Committee, who launched the contempt charges against Holder. He's also saying that this doesn't clear him. Well, help me clear this up. You know, is he free and clear now or not?

JOHNS: Well, he's free and clear to the extent that no one can say that anybody at the Justice Department thinks Holder was engaged in some type of a cover-up, and that was the kind of message we were getting from Capitol Hill.

On the other hand, a court case continues in Washington, D.C., at this moment, to try to get certain documents that Congress requested. So -- do we have that sound bite from Darrell Issa from the House Government Reform and Oversight Committee? I don't know if we have that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. DARRELL ISSA (R-CA), CHAIRMAN, HOUSE OVERSIGHT AND GOVERNMENT REFORM: Just because you're not convicted doesn't mean you're vindicated. Attorney General Holder didn't ask the questions, didn't read the memos.

And up and down the chain, the people that worked for him, the political appointees responsible to him failed to do their job, including denying reading wiretaps that they were responsible for signing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JOHNS: So this fight kind of continues on Capitol Hill, quite frankly, John, even though we have this IG report that says he didn't know anything about it.

Honestly, though, when you think about it, when you're the top guy in any organizational structure, if somebody didn't get the information to you and that's your best defense, it's not the greatest defense.

BERMAN: All right, Joe Johns, thanks very much. Obviously, the questions continuing today in Washington.

And coming up, in just a few minutes here, we're going to talk about the inspector general's findings with Robert Heyer. He is the cousin of slain border patrol agent, Brian Terry. We will get his reaction here this morning.

SAMBOLIN: It's 7 minutes past the hour. Colorado prosecutors intend to file new charges against Aurora shooting suspect, James Holmes. It is at a court hearing today.

Holmes is accused of killing 12 people, wounding 58 in a shooting spree during a packed midnight showing of "The Dark Knight Rises." That was in July. The state will look to add 10 criminal counts to the 140 that he already faces. The hearing will also address the admissibility of a diary that Holmes sent to his psychiatrist right before the shooting.

BERMAN: A really, really close call for a Lubbock, Texas, police officer, and a woman who almost certainly owes him her life. Check that out. Police dash cam video shows two cops checking out an accident.

And then Officer Phillip pushes this woman out of the way, just before that van slams into the police cruiser. The officer and the woman, amazingly, suffered just minor injuries. The van driver was cited for DUI.

SAMBOLIN: Space shuttle Endeavour about to take its final journey. Live pictures from Houston, Texas, where the retired shuttle atop a modified 747 is getting ready to leave for California where it will go on display at the California Science Center in Los Angeles.

Doesn't that look cool? Like all lit up and stuff for us. It will fly from Houston to Edwards Air Force base. The route includes a flyover of Tucson, Arizona. It's a low fly actually. It's a tribute to former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords.

So you get to see it. Her husband, Astronaut Mark Kelly, was a commander of Endeavour's last mission. So for those of you in the Tucson area, it's actually flying at 11:15 a.m. today, look up, you will see it.

BERMAN: Yes, you can't miss it. It's the big plane with the space shuttle on top of it.

SAMBOLIN: Piggy backing, you know --

BERMAN: Very cool.

SAMBOLIN: How often do you see that?

BERMAN: All right, something not nearly as cool, with players locked out and many bolting to Europe to play, the NHL has canceled all of its pre-season games for the end of September.

Pre-season hockey was supposed to begin on Sunday. You know, the last time the NHL canceled pre-season games was back in 2004, when a lockout cost the whole season including the Stanley Cup finals.

One of the first victims of this lockout, a mascot, yes, it's true. "The Miami Herald" reports that the Florida Panthers have laid off mascot Stanley C. Panther. You're looking at him right there obviously in happier times. Dozens of other layoffs are taking place right now across the league.

SAMBOLIN: That's terrible.

BERMAN: It's awful. Look, you can't keep canceling the season. They did this seven years ago, you can't keep canceling the season and expect us to keep watching.

SAMBOLIN: What are they fighting over?

BERMAN: What do you think? Money. All right, disgruntled fan right here.

SAMBOLIN: Yes, all right, Mitt Romney trying to strike a different tone as he tries to court Hispanic voters and explain that 47 percent comment.

Coming up, new poll numbers on how those comments are playing with you, the voters.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SAMBOLIN: Welcome back to EARLY START. It's 13 minutes past the hour. I'm Zoraida Sambolin.

BERMAN: And I'm John Berman, glad you're with us. Mitt Romney is putting a new twist on his comments disparaging 47 percent of the electorate. Romney addressed a crowd of Latino voters in Florida yesterday during a rally in Miami and a Univision forum. He struck an inclusive tone.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MITT ROMNEY, (R) PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: This is a campaign about the 100 percent. And over the last several years, you've seen greater and greater divisiveness in this country. We had hoped to come back together, but instead you've seen us pull apart.

And politics has driven us apart in some respects. So my campaign is about the 100 percent of America. And I'm concerned about them. I'm concerned about the fact that over the past four years, life has become harder for Americans. More people have fallen into poverty. More people we just learned have had to go on to food stamps. (END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: President Obama addresses the same Univision forum tonight. CNN political director Paul Steinhauser joins us live now from Washington.

Paul, we have our very first poll numbers, which specifically ask about those comments from Mitt Romney, about the 47 percent. What do those numbers tell us?

PAUL STEINHAUSER, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Let's take a look at them, John. You're right. This is a Gallup poll conducted Tuesday night, the day after these clips from that fundraiser came to light and it really dominated the coverage of the campaign trail since.

Here you go, among registered voters, they interviewed 885 people. You can see about one in five said those comments from that fundraiser back in May make them more likely to vote for Mitt Romney, 36 percent say less likely, and 43 percent say no difference.

Let's go to the next number, because I think you and I both know, Democrats are still in favor of Obama and Republicans still in favor of Romney, but what about the independent voters?

That's probably the more telling. You can see more than half say no difference, but look at that, of those who say there is a difference because of the video they've seen, by about a two to one margin, they say they are less likely to vote for Mitt Romney than more likely. And that could be a little potential trouble there for Mitt Romney.

John, this is just an appetizer, just the first poll. I'm sure we're going to see a lot more over the next week.

BERMAN: Well, we're seeing a lot of polls this week in some areas, certainly some key swing states, a first look, or a new look at how the race is shaping up there.

STEINHAUSER: Exactly. We've seen a bunch over the last couple of days. Let's start with our own.

This is in Michigan, a CNN/ORC poll. We put it out yesterday afternoon. And this is a state where Mitt Romney was born, a state that he would lake to take back. President Obama won it four years ago. But look at this -- an eight-point lead for the President in our poll. Another poll last week had it at 10 points.

What about Wisconsin? A similar story -- President Obama, then- Senator Obama, won it four years ago. Of course, Paul Ryan from Wisconsin is on the Republican ticket as the running mate. But look at these two polls, John. A 14-point late in the Marquette Law School poll, and a smaller lead, six points in the Quinnipiac poll, both out yesterday.

A similar story with new polling in Virginia. Another state that Obama won four years ago, that Romney would like to win back. And, John, one of the things I've seen in the national polls, some trends, the President is starting to catch up and take away that advantage Mitt Romney had on the economy. And also it seems, more Americans are starting to get enthusiastic, or shall I say optimistic about the way the economy and the country may go over the next year.

And one other thing, we learned this from the Romney campaign just overnight. They say that we're going to see more of Mitt Romney on the campaign trail starting pretty much next week, including a three- day bus tour for Romney and Ryan, where we're going to see more of the candidates and more of them spelling out what they say they can do for the middle class -- John.

BERMAN: That bus tour in Ohio.

All right, Paul Steinhauser, thanks very much for being with us from Washington this morning.

SAMBOLIN: Sixteen minutes past the hour.

Later this hour, we're going to talk with Ana Navarro, CNN contributor and Republican strategist, about Mitt Romney and that coveted Latino vote.

Let's get you up to date. Here's Christine Romans with our top stories.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, you too. Sixteen minutes after the hour.

We begin with "Fast and Furious". One day after releasing his report on the botched gun running operation known as "Fast and Furious", Michael Horowitz, the inspector general of the Justice Department, will be testifying before a House Oversight Committee about his findings. That is scheduled to begin in just over three hours.

His investigation found no criminal behavior and essentially says Attorney General Eric Holder was out of the loop. Fourteen officials with the Department of Justice, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms face potential punishment for misguided strategies, errors in judgment, and management failures. Two of them are already out, one retiring, one resigning yesterday.

A controversial ad that critics say is hateful to Muslims is set to appear in New York City subway stations next week, despite New York City's efforts to stop it. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority initially rejected this ad, but a judge overturned its decision on First Amendment grounds. The ad reads, "In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man, support Israel, defeat jihad."

Some Iowa newlyweds almost had their wedding day ruin by a campaigned appearance by President Obama. Just seven days before their wedding, John and Sayli Gibbs were told that the President was holding a rally at the same property, Living History Farms, a lovely place, by the way. Everyone should visit. They didn't even know if their guests would be able to get past security. When the President left, John and Sayli they were able to exchange vows without a hitch, but that wasn't the last they heard from President Obama. The wedding planner handed them a bag with the presidential seal.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We were just both kind of like wide-eyed. We didn't know what to expect.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We opened up the gift and there were two boxes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's a silver tray with the presidential seal and his signature engraved and a mint julep cup as well.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SAMBOLIN: A mint julep cup?

ROMANS: Along with the gifts, the newlyweds also got a handwritten card. The card reads, "Michelle and I wish you a great life together, Barack Obama."

BERMAN: I totally bet they didn't register for that.

ROMANS: Can you imagine?

SAMBOLIN: What a great story.

(CROSSTALK)

ROMANS: In Iowa, the President and Mitt Romney, people keep dropping in. I mean, they're so close and you never when you're going to get in traffic. And it's hard to get caught in traffic in Iowa.

BERMAN: It's a really nice gesture, really, really is.

We want to check in with Rob Marciano, get a sense of what's going on with the weather right now. Rob has the look.

SAMBOLIN: It's getting cold, I believe that's what he's going to say.

ROB MARCIANO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: It is. Hey, listen, it's that time of year, get in the mood for it. A little frost on the pumpkins across northern New York and Upstate New York and parts of northern New England, temperatures in the 30s, and in some cases, in the 20s. Notably, Saranac Lake reporting a 27-degree temperature right now. So 55 in New York, comfortably cool. Just grab a light jacket. We have some frost and freeze advisories in effect for this morning and will likely be re-posted as we get toward the weekend, because we'll get a couple successive shots of cooler air.

So no dramatic warm-up, back to Indian summer just yet. Looking at showers and thunderstorms, another little front cruising across the Great Lakes. And the leftover front from what we saw the last couple of days is kind of hanging around the Florida Peninsula, and that's where we'll expect to see showers and thunderstorms throughout the day today.

Here's another one. And then this guy -- by the way, beautiful stuff out West, especially the Pacific Northwest, their streak continues of wonderfully warm and dry weather. But another little shot from Canada will come down over the weekend, maybe a little snow, possibly a dusting in places like Minnesota and Wisconsin.

But, meanwhile, 72 in Chicago and 72 degrees in New York City. And I think nobody is arguing about that.

John and Zoraida, back to you.

BERMAN: All right. Thanks very much, Rob -- Rob Marciano in Atlanta.

So, when it comes to presidents, who's better for your stock portfolio? A Republican or a Democrat? Christine Romans takes a look.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BERMAN: Minding your business right now. U.S. stock futures all down this morning. That market rally over the past week, losing some steam.

SAMBOLIN: Here's a good question. Do stocks perform better under Republican presidents? That is the question that you are answering this morning?

ROMANS: I am answering it because this is conventional wisdom. You hear this a lot, you know?

Especially think of George Bush, he was the CEO president. He was someone who had worked in business. A lot of people thought he lowered taxes for investments and the like. And a lot of people think that Republican presidents are better for the stock market.

So we've run these numbers from the Wilshire 5000, the broadest gauge of the stock market. This is what we've found.

We'll start at the left -- Ronald Reagan, not the left, is you know what I mean, the left of this screen. You can see that under his first 10 years, the stock market went up 12.5 percent, and up again in his second tenure. And then George H.W. Bush, stock market went up 15 percent. And then Bill Clinton, a Democrat, in 1992, it went up 18 percent. And it also had a good run in 1996

But remember, at the end of the Bill Clinton years was something called the tech bubble. So President George W. Bush, the CEO president, came into play and had to deal with the tech bubble and also a credit boom that turned into a bust.

And so then, you can see now that Barack Obama, remember when Barack Obama, the President was first elected, people called it the Obama market because it was so horrible the very first months of his term. But it turned out that the stock market turned around and rebounded, and at least until now, the stock market is up 19 percent in his first term.

So always question conventional wisdom, because I'll tell you something, sometimes presidents' performances, because of the president before them, their policies, and sometimes it has nothing to do with the president, it has to do with Congress and the economy overall.

So presidents get too much credit, I say, and too much blame for their economy. And I'm going to quote Alan Sloan here from "Fortune," who did a really great piece on this, this week, and he said, vote for the president you want, because you want that candidate, not because you think your stocks are going to go up.

BERMAN: All right. So, what's the one thing we need to know?

ROMANS: The one thing you need to know today is this is the least productive Congress, speaking of politics, the least productive Congress in a generation. Only 170-some public laws as of last month. They leave Friday until the election.

Normally I'd say good riddance, but they've left us with a fiscal cliff hanging -- 102 days left with the fiscal cliff. With every day that goes by that Congress does not fix this cliff, it's another day companies aren't hiring and we know the San Francisco Fed studied uncertainty and found that the uncertainty in the economy, because of things like the fiscal cliff, is holding back hiring. You would have a lower unemployment rate if it weren't for things like the fiscal cliff. SO, Congress is hurting us.

BERMAN: Thanks, Christine, I think.

SAMBOLIN: Twenty-six minutes past the hour.

They were looking for a thrill. They got more than they bargained for. So much more. This story, coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SAMBOLIN: His murder on the border blew the lid off the botched "Fast and Furious" gun operation.

Today, agent Brian Terry's family reacts to a new report that places blame.

BERMAN: A CNN exclusive. What U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens knew about threats to his life before the attack that killed him.

SAMBOLIN: Too much medical waste, too many medical mistakes. The author of a no-nonsense new book that says we're wasting billions on health care, and we are not better for it. We're going to chat with him.

Welcome back to EARLY START. We're happy to have you with us this morning. I'm Zoraida Sambolin. BERMAN: And I'm John Berman. It's about 30 minutes after the hour right now.

Our top story right now, a new report from the Justice Department's inspector general on the controversial "Fast and Furious" gun walking investigation. The details of this program were blown wide open after the shooting death of border patrol agent Brian Terry on December 10th, 2010.

Two guns connected to "Fast and Furious" were found at the scene in Arizona. This new report clears Attorney General Eric Holder of any wrongdoing, at least from the Justice Department point of view.

But 14 officials in the Justice Department and the ATF have been recommended for discipline. The report says a review of "Fast and Furious" and related matters revealed a series of misguided strategies, tactics, errors in judgment and management failures that permeated ATF headquarters and the Phoenix field division, as well as the U.S. attorney's office for the district of Arizona.

Now, Robert Heyer is Brian Terry's cousin. He's also the spokesman for the family.

Brian, I know you've been waiting for this report. I know you've now had time to review it. What's your first reaction?

ROBERT HEYER, BRIAN TERRY'S COUSIN: Good morning, John.

Well, the family has not had time to review al 471 pages of this document. Long-awaited, you are correct, though. It's been almost 21 months since Brian was murdered. We've been calling for answers. We've been calling for the truth to come out. So we are very anxious to fully look at this report.

BERMAN: So, Robert, the report mentions Eric Holder. It seemed to suggest he's not directly responsible for anything that went on there. It said he simply didn't know about it.

Shortly after the report came out, the attorney general, Eric Holder, released a statement, before mentioning your cousin, and it says, "I have reviewed the officer of inspector general's report on Operation Fast and Furious, and the key conclusions are consistent with what I and other Justice Department officials have said for many months now, tin appropriate strategy and tactics employed were field-driven and date back to 2006. The leadership of the department did not know about or authorize the use of flawed strategy and tactics, and the department's leadership did not attempt to cover up information or mislead Congress about it."

Now, he does say he will recommend several officials for review, but are you satisfied with that?

HEYER: Well, we're disappointed at the tone of that statement by the attorney general. Look, nobody should be doing a victory dance right now. Anything less than a sober reflection of the mistakes made and the negligence by many officials within the Department of Justice and ATF, anything less than that is a disservice to Brian's sacrifice.

BERMAN: Now, Robert, Darrell Issa, who is the House chairman of the Oversight Committee, which has brought contempt charges against Eric Holder, he doesn't seem satisfied at all that the attorney general is exonerated. Let's listen to what the representative said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ISSA: Just because you're not convicted doesn't mean you're vindicated. Attorney General Holder didn't ask the questions, didn't read the memos, and up and down the chain, the people that worked for him, the political appointees responsible to him failed to do their job, including denying reading wiretaps that they were responsible for signing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: Robert, to what extent do you and the family hold the attorney general responsible for what went on?

HEYER: Well, this whole Operation Fast and Furious and the subsequent immediate inquiry into "Fast and Furious", based on the ATF whistle- blowers' allegations really, we believe, was a combination of incompetence and arrogance. And, you know, right now --

BERMAN: Arrogance by whom? Arrogance by whom, sir?

HEYER: Well, throughout the government, DOJ, and ATF officials. That's how operation fast and furious was implemented. That's how it was allowed to continue.

And then the immediate aftermath, especially when the Department of Justice denied that weapons were ever walked, when we had ATF agents raising their happened and screaming, hey, this thing is happening. And you know, those are the guys that are vindicated today, those whistle-blowers. That's really who we should be thanking.

But you know, Brian was murdered on December 15th of 2010. One of the very first things we noticed in this report is the attorney general saying that he did not know about Operation Fast and Furious until January or February of 2011.

Remember, everybody in federal law enforcement associated with the murder investigation, to include the U.S. attorney at the time for the district of Arizona, Dennis Burke, knew that the weapons found at the murder scene were Operation Fast and Furious guns. They knew then who the suspect's straw buyer was who bought those weapons, and now they saw that they were found at the murder scene and carried by the men that killed Brian Terry.

It's very distressing that top officials in the Department of Justice did not provide that information to the attorney general. Something was broken, something remains broken, and we have to wait to see if this thing gets fixed.

BERMAN: Robert Heyer, cousin to Brian Terry, it seems not completely satisfied with this inspector general report, but thank you very much for joining us this morning. Thanks, Robert.

SAMBOLIN: Those wounds are hard to heal. Thank you, John.

It was a case of terrorism. Brand-new details this morning on the attack in Benghazi that killed four Americans, including the U.S. ambassador to Libya, Christopher Stevens. The nation's counterterrorism chief telling Congress heavily armed extremists saw an opportunity to talk during the protest over an anti-Muslim film and they took it. The U.S. is now searching for links to al Qaeda.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEW OLSEN, NATIONAL COUNTERTERRORISM CENTER DIRECTOR: I would say, yes, they were killed in the course of a terrorist attack on our embassy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SAMBOLIN: Sources tell CNN ambassador Stevens expressed concerns about security in the months right before he died, specifically mentioning a rise in Islamic extremism and a growing al Qaeda presence in Libya. He also acknowledged being on an al Qaeda hit list.

BERMAN: Candidates in a couple of key senate races will face off today in televised debates.

In Massachusetts, incumbent Republican Scott Brown will meet up with his Democratic opponent, Elizabeth Warren. A recent Suffolk University poll gives Warren a four-point lead over Brown, which is a boost, apparently, from her convention speech.

And in Virginia, Republican George Allen and Democrat Tim Kaine will debate today at noon. They're battling for the seat of retiring Democratic Senator Jim Webb. A "Washington Post" poll has Kaine now leading Allen by eight points. That's a big shift in that race, according to the poll.

SAMBOLIN: Mitt Romney now talking about the 100 percent as he tries to court Latino voters. We'll talk with Ana Navarro, CNN contributor and Republican strategist. That's coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SAMBOLIN: The University of Miami is hosting a two-part forum this week for its Latino students. It's organized by Univision and Facebook. Mitt Romney spoke last night and President Obama will follow up tonight.

CNN contributor and Republican strategist Ana Navarro was there last night and she joins us.

It's really nice to see you, Ana. I'm glad that you were there, because you have criticized Romney a lot for not being able to connect. He was pressed last night on some very key issues, including immigration. He told the Univision co-host Maria Elena Salinas that he would not, would not deport 12 million. Let's listen to that and I want you to chime in.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: We're not going to round up people around the country and deport them. That's not -- I said during my primary campaign, time and again, we're not going to round up 12 million people, that includes the kids and the parents and have everyone deported. Our system isn't to deport people.

We need to provide a long-term solution. And I have described the fact that I would be in support of a program that says that people who have served in our military could be permanent residents of the United States.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SAMBOLIN: All right. So he says that he will not deport the 12 million illegal immigrants. But he didn't really lay out a plan. Was it enough for you?

ANA NAVARRO, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, you know, it's not about whether it's enough for me or not. I'm going to vote for him because I think he's a better option than Barack Obama.

But he needs to do a lot better than he's doing. He's now at 28 percent, 27 percent, 29 percent with Latino voters, according to polls, and he needs to chip away at that Obama margin.

Obama needs to turn out. Romney needs to narrow the gap. And the problem Romney has, I think, is that Latinos don't really know him. He's just now begun this really all-out blitz for the Latino voter. If Latinos don't know him, they can't trust him.

The immigration issue, Zoraida, is one of trust. It's not the priority issue, the economy, jobs are, but it's one of trust. And I think he's going to continue being haunted by these questions. He told us last night what he's not going to do. He hasn't yet told us what he is going to do. He talked about some of his normal talking points on immigration, but he has not given specifics as to what he's going to do for the undocumented.

The other answer that he didn't give is, what is he going to do about those DREAM Acts --

SAMBOLIN: The deferred action.

NAVARRO: -- that right now are covered around the deferred action order. He's now been asked that question eight times. I really hope he gives an answer, because I think the question will continue coming up over and over again.

And I think there's a simple answer. I think he should keep it, for the first two years. This thing -- this deferred action, this order is for two years at a time. He could keep it. He could tell those kids that are going to be under that order -- look, you can go ahead and make your plans. I'm going to keep it for the first two years. I'm not going to extend it, was I'm going to keep it for the first two.

SAMBOLIN: Ana, you know what? You mentioned something earlier that is very important. That when we're talking about the number one issue for Latinos, it is the economy. And Romney addressed that last night. Let's listen and talk about that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: This is a tough time for America, and I'm convinced that if we take different course, based upon my experience, a course that will reignite America's economy, you're going to see those numbers change. You're going to see people coming out of poverty.

You're going to see incomes rising again in America. That's the course that I think we have to take. And by the way, with regards to how I'm confident that that's what can happen, I have a record. I've demonstrate d my capacity to help the 100 percent.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: We were hearing about the 47 percent before, right, Ana? Now we have 100 percent.

But Latino voters, as you very well know, overwhelmingly support President Obama. And you know these stats. I'm going to put them up for everybody here. Twenty-seven percent are living in poverty, 10 percent unemployment in that community, 52 percent fear deportation for self or a loved one.

How can Mitt Romney sway them to vote for him?

NAVARRO: Well, I think, number one, he's got to get Latinos to trust him. And number two, he's going to get specific as to how he's going to turn this thing around.

Yesterday was interesting, Zoraida, because he went back a lot to his Massachusetts record, when it came to education, when it came to jobs, when it came to health care, even, which is something interesting I haven't seen him do before.

I think it's a smart thing for him to do. It is a huge part of his resume. But he's got to -- he's got to reach out to Latinos. He's got to do more of these things, do more press. He hadn't done a major Hispanic TV interview since the Florida primary. This week, he's done two of them, and he's done also a number of radio interviews.

And I just think he's got to do it every day, between now and the election, because he's got a lot of work and a lot of road to make up.

SAMBOLIN: All right. Ana, it's always really nice to talk to you. I love reading your tweets as well. Ana Navarro, CNN contributor, Republican strategist, thanks for your time.

NAVARRO: Good to be with you, my friend. SAMBOLIN: Thank you. Mija, I think, she was about to call me there.

BERMAN: All right. Forty-six minutes after the hour right now. We want to get you update on all the top stories this morning.

A day after releasing his report on the botched gun running operation known as "Fast and Furious," the Justice Department's inspector general, Michael Horowitz, will be testifying before a House Oversight Committee about his findings. Horowitz's investigation uncovered no criminal behavior.

It found Attorney General Eric Holder wasn't properly informed about the operation until early 2011 and cites 14 justice officials for potential punishment.

Going to look at some live pictures right now out of Houston. That is the space shuttle Endeavour atop a giant 747. The shuttle takes off for Los Angeles in just a little over an hour. It's going to go on display for everyone to see at the California Science Center.

SAMBOLIN: About 20 people who got stuck on amusement park ride at Knott's Berry Farm. Happy to be on solid ground this morning. Some kind of problem with the Windseeker ride, lasted passengers stranded -- do we have pictures? It's amazing, 300 feet in the air for nearly four hours.

BERMAN: I'll do a dramatic reenactment. They're sitting there like this terrified for four hours.

SAMBOLIN: So, listen to this -- this is crazy. This is second time in two weeks that the ride has experienced a malfunction with passengers on board. Don't ride it! That's what I can tell you.

BERMAN: They looked more scared than I did just there. Just for the record.

SAMBOLIN: Unbelievable.

BERMAN: All right. Soledad O'Brien --

(CROSSTALK)

(LAUGHTER)

BERMAN: What's on "STARTING POINT"?

(CROSSTALK)

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: No, no. I think you're good. Ahead this morning, we're going to talk about a top intel official who now says that attack in Libya is a terrorist attack, reaction to the "Fast and Furious" report as well.

This morning, we'll chat with Democratic Congressman, Elijah Cummings, also Republican Congressman, Trey Goudy, they're both members of the House Oversight Committee. That, of course, has been investigating the operation.

Also, we'll monitor the Endeavour. You guys were just showing a picture of that as it gets ready for its -- to take off again this morning, heading eventually to its final destination. As we did yesterday, we will monitor where it's going and update it for you when it takes off. That and much more on "Starting Point." We'll see you right at the top of the hour.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SAMBOLIN: Welcome back to EARLY START. Fifty-one minutes past the hour. One of the issues in the presidential election is health care reform. In a new book, Dr. Marty Makary says that transparency, not policy could be the true root of the problem.

He writes, quote, "When I listen to health care gurus propose overhauling the health care system with new ways to finance it, I often feel they are tragically off the mark. The simplest, most economical solution to the problems of our complex system is to empower patients with information."

So, the book is called "Unaccountable: What Hospitals Won't Tell You and How Transparency Can Revolutionize Health Care." Dr. Marty Makary is here now to tell us all about the book. So, you say transparency is so important. Why?

DR. MARTY MAKARY, AUTHOR, "UNACCOUNTABLE": Well, 20 to 30 percent of all medications, tests, procedures, and health care now, according to good studies by doctors are completely unnecessary. And patients really need to be empowered to say, hey, look, do I really need this done?

If we're going to get serious about health care costs and if patients are going to get good-quality care, we need to cut the waste in health care, not just pay for it differently.

SAMBOLIN: So, how do you achieve transparency?

MAKARY: Well, there are good metrics now of performance. There are good websites, PubMed, ZocDoc, consumer ratings, hospital compare is a great place where you can go and look up a hospital's performance, their infection rates. Soon, you'll see their readmission or bounce- back rates. These are useful metrics.

And in the next couple of years, we are seeing a transformation of health care, so that it's more transparent and people can look up where to go, just like they would look up a restaurant's ratings before they go to a new restaurant.

SAMBOLIN: So, I have some pretty staggering numbers on health care costs that I want to share. Nearly $2.6 trillion in 2010, 8,000 a person is the average hospital -- or the average hospital stay was $18,000. So, how is it that more transparency can cut down on those costs? Because those costs are fixed right? Those are costs.

MAKARY: Well, they're fixed costs, but you know, you're absolutely right. People are frustrated and they are angry. Their health insurance premiums have gone up nine to 10 percent every year, and businesses can't compete overseas now, so we need to cut the waste. The 20 to 30 percent of health care that's unnecessary and doesn't make us any healthier.

You know, most people choose their hospital based on parking. We can do better than that.

SAMBOLIN: So, who's at fault here, the doctors, the system, the hospitals? Who's at fault?

MAKARY: We've got good people, honestly, good people working in a bad system. And we need to change the incentives so that we're not doing things based on more, but instead, doing things based on what's better. And as we get good measures of health outcomes, hospitals can be evaluated by their patient outcomes, not by how much they do.

SAMBOLIN: I love the fact that you're trying to empower the patient. Medical mistakes I want to talk about very quickly. One study says 25 percent of all admitted patients suffer from some kind of preventable error. Why are these so common?

MAKARY: You know, we have the same mistakes that keep happening again and again. You know, when a plane crashes, the entire aviation and pilot community nationwide learns from that mistake. We don't really learn from our mistakes in health care and we need to be open and honest about the problem.

And, that's part of the reason a lot of doctors now are saying, we need to talk about medical mistakes, not gag people about them.

SAMBOLIN: Dr. Marty Makary, thank you so much for joining us this morning. We appreciate you and your time this morning. John, back to you.

BERMAN: All right. Today's "Best Advice" from Wyclef Jean coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SAMBOLIN: Fifty-eight minutes past the hour, and we wrap it up as always with "Best Advice."

BERMAN: Christine?

ROMANS: And today, my mic is off, I'm so sorry. It's the hip hop star and activist, Wyclef Jean.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WYCLEF JEAN, MULTI-PLATINUM MUSICIAN, PRODUCER, ACTOR: Best Advice I've ever received is probably from my daddy. What my daddy told me was, nine times out of ten, when someone tells you you're not going to make it, all you have to do is ignore them, because there's 24 hours in a day, if somebody has time to be paying attention to what you're doing, eventually you're doing something right, and they're doing something wrong. (END VIDEO CLIP)

SAMBOLIN: Calling his father "Daddy". That's fantastic.

BERMAN: And set to music.

(LAUGHTER)

BERMAN: That's all for EARLY START. I'm John Berman.

SAMBOLIN: And I'm Zoraida Sambolin. "STARTING POINT" with Soledad O'Brien starts right now.