Return to Transcripts main page


Terror Plot in New York Foiled; Presidential Candidates to Attend Charity Event: Mitt Romney's "Binders of Women" Comment Garners Scrutiny; Plot To Bomb New York Federal Reserve; Accused 9/11 Mastermind Speaks Out; Boy Scout "Perversion" Files Being Released; "Thunder God Vine" A Cancer Killer?; Study: Multi Vitamins Reduce Cancer Risk; Down, Under; Man Gets A New Face; "Newsweek" Goes All Digital; Sponsors Drop Lance Armstrong; Wrong Election Date On Spanish Voter Registration Cards; "Binders Full Of Women"

Aired October 18, 2012 - 07:00   ET


SOLEDAD O'BRIEN: Welcome, everybody. Our starting point this morning: terror plot foiled. He wanted to, quote, "destroy America," blow up the Federal Reserve Bank with a 1,000-pound bomb. Some new details this morning about the busted wannabe terrorist and his brazen plan.

Also, Mitt Romney's binders full of women comment. It's kind of taken on a life of its own. How accurate was the statement about hiring women? Will that hurt him or help him with the female vote?

Also, a new face. The incredible reconstructive surgery that's given this man a second chance at life. You won't believe what the "before" photos look like. We're going to talk this morning to the doctors who led the transplant team.

And is this question appropriate in a debate?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Miss Long, have you read "50 Shades of Grey"?



O'BRIEN: Wow! They both turned red on that question. It's our "Get Real" this morning.

It's Thursday, October 18th, and STARTING POINT begins right now.

Good morning. Welcome, everybody. We're hoping to learn more this morning about this man. Let's show his picture. She's 21 years old. His name is Quazi Nafis. He's under arrest, accused of trying to bomb the Federal Reserve bank of New York. He's from Bangladesh, he was in the country on a student visa, studying cyber-security at southwest state university. The "New York daily news" reports that friends there who knew him are shocked at his arrest. They say that Nafis was a pious Muslim who helped underprivileged children. The feds say he admired Osama bin Laden. Our national correspondent, Susan Candiotti has been following this story. First, tell us about this guy.

SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, he's only 21 years old and he looks so very young. Again, a college student who came here on a student visa back in January and then the feds got on to him. They say he used things like Facebook, for example. Said he wanted to destroy America. Said, I wanted to do something to inspire the brothers coming after me. Those are his words, according to prosecutors.

But he thought he was getting help from people who would be able to help him carry out this attack. Turns out they were working for the FBI. That's when they set up this elaborate sting operation.

And then, once this was set in motion, they said that he is the one that selected a target, the Federal Reserve Bank, after actually first mentioning going after president Obama. But he quickly laid that aside. So this is what they are saying that he said he wanted to do, why he selected the Federal Reserve. Quote, "I came up to this conclusion, that targeting America's economy is the most efficient way to draw the path of obliteration of America. I decided to attack the Federal Reserve bank of New York, which is by far the largest, by assets, and most active, by volume, and most influential of the 12 regional Federal Reserve banks."

It looks like he did his homework, according to prosecutors. He also said, as you mentioned, Soledad, that he was inspired by usama bin Laden and American cleric, Anwar al Awlaki, who was killed by a drone attack. Here is the police commissioner of New York, Ray Kelly.


RAY KELLY, NEW YORK CITY POLICE COMMISSIONER: Awlaki, of course, was eliminated last year. But what we know is that Awlaki wasn't motivated for this person, Nafis. "Inspire" magazine, which Awlaki was the prime mover behind, was the magazine or this is the article that he read that justified the killing of children, the killing of women.

CANDIOTTI And the Federal Reserve bank, that holds the world's largest supply of gold bullion. Soledad?

O'BRIEN: We'll talk a little bit more about this with Phil Mudd. Susan Candiotti, excellent reporting, as always. Phil Mudd is the former director of the CIA counterterrorism center.

Other stories making news, John Berman's got that for us. Good morning. What are you looking at?

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, Soledad. A senior member of Al Qaeda has been killed by a U.S. drone attack in Yemen. The attack took place in a farmhouse in southern Yemen. Yemeni officials say high-ranking Al Qaeda operative Narda al Shadoti were among eight members of the terror group that were killed.

Tonight Mitt Romney and President Obama will appear on the same stage in New York for the second time this week. They are attending the Al Smith charity dinner. This is a very funny event hosted by the New York arch diocese. The president campaigns in New Hampshire before heading to the big apple, where he will also tape "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart." The third and final presidential debate takes place Monday night. That will focus on foreign policy. CNN's live coverage from Boca Raton, Florida, begins at 7:00 eastern time.

The women behind the candidates also on the stump. Ann Romney sits down to talk to the women of "The View" later this morning. Mitt Romney bowed out of that opportunity. And Mrs. Obama sits down on "Live with Kelly and Michael" to talk about the spouses of the debate.


MICHELLE OBAMA, U.S. FIRST LADY: I compared it to the Olympic parents watching their kids on that balance beam. Like, oh, you know, lots of clenching.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You have to be conscious, because the camera's always on you. So it's in your head, and you've got to be going, get 'em, baby! Get 'em! Yes, that's my man!



BERMAN: The nationwide outbreak of fungal meningitis that has claimed four more lives, a total of 19 deaths. 247 people across 15 states have been sickened. The outbreak has been traced to contaminated pain steroid made by a Massachusetts pharmaceutical company. Federal officials are investigating after raiding the company's facility on Tuesday.

A deadly outbreak of E. Coli in north Carolina has been traced to a county fair. At least 61 people, including three dozen children became sick. Health officials say one child has now died. They believe the source of this outbreak is the petting zoo, as E. Coli is often spread from animals to humans. That's why they say wash your hands after going tote petting zoo.

In the baseball playoffs, the St. Louis Cardinals have taken a two to one lead in the national league championship series. They beat the giants 3-1 on the strength of rookie matt carpenter's two-run home run. Carpenter had replaced the team's injured star, Carlos Beltran. If Carlos Beltran is really hard, that would really not be a good thing for the Cardinals.

Meanwhile, the Yankees will try to stay afloat after getting rained out last night in Detroit. The Yankees and Tigers will play game four tonight. The tigers are up three games to one, the Yankees have won no games.

And a little piece of news just out, "Newsweek" going out of print. By 2013, it will all be digital. I'm reading that, of course, on my iPad.

O'BRIEN: That's huge. That's giant. My goodness. And the Yankees just have to win the next game, and the next game, and then the fourth game.

BERMAN: There's only one team in history ever to do that.

O'BRIEN: And this time around, it will be the New York Yankees. Thank you, John Berman for your faith in my team.

Back to our STARTING POINT this morning. We're talking about this 21- year-old Bangladeshi man who's in custody this hour, allegedly trying to blow up the New York Federal Reserve bank.

I want to welcome Phil Mudd, the former deputy director of the CIA counterterrorism center. It's nice to have you with us. His name is Quazi Nafis. We know that he reached out. Susan Candiotti was just updating us with her report. Somehow he ended up in contact with an FBI informant. Can you give us some details about that outreach and how that contact happened?

PHIL MUDD, FORMER DEPUTY DIRECTOR, CIA COUNTERTERRORISM CENTER: When you look at somebody like this, who is an individual plotter, who thinks like Al Qaeda, but has probably never met an Al Qaeda member. If he's trying to develop a plot, he's first got to find some co- conspirators, people who want to do this with hem, because he's not going to have the capability and sometimes the courage to do it himself. And the second thing you need is some technical capability. So by definition, people like this are vulnerable to penetration, because they've got to look around and find somebody to join the plot.

O'BRIEN: He wrote this. "I came to the conclusion that targeting America's economy is the most efficient way to draw the path of obliteration of America. I decided to attack the Federal Reserve bank of New York, which is by far the largest by assets, most active by volume, and most influential of the 12 regional Federal Reserve banks." What kind of damage could have been done if he was able to achieve what he wanted to achieve?

MUDD: The damage is about the panic he sets across New York city and across America. We've seen this kind of plotting, obviously on 9/11, when they hit the world trade center, which wasn't just a building, it was the idea of American power. We saw plotting against banks after 9/11 by Al Qaeda. We saw Al Qaeda videos showing they had cased banks again in New York city. So they've thought about this repeatedly, not just as a way to damage a building, but as a way to destroy the American psychology that says money is what makes America tick.

O'BRIEN: And I should mention, he's quoted by the FBI, in the FBI complaint against him, as saying that. Let me clarify that. So what kind go ahead and just arrest him, when there was enough of a paper trail around what he was hoping to do, as opposed to letting the entire plot play out?

There's a couple reasons for doing that. The first is a reason we haven't talked much about in the media the past day. And that is you don't want to just understand him. You want to understand whether there's a broader conspiracy here. You want to understand, where's the money? Who recruited him? Who did he recruit? Was he inspired? Where did he travel? Is there a broader conspiracy? If you move too quickly, you risk leaving some pieces of this on the cutting room floor, and that's a real problem for law enforcement.

O'BRIEN: And is there a sense that there was a broader conspiracy? Because we know that the only explosives he had were those that were given to him by the informant. He mentioned a couple of times in the information, the complaint, that he wanted to go back to Bangladesh. And he was sort of talked out of it. And, you know, it kind of, I guess, went fairly quickly, right? The start of it was in July, mid- October would have been the fruition of his goal. The van was allowed to go through and park in front of the Federal Reserve, which, you know, if everybody hadn't known about the plot or the alleged plot, you know, it probably wouldn't or might not have happened the way it happened. All those things make me wonder, you know, is there a real broader conspiracy. or is he a young man who kind of wants to be a terrorist?

MUDD: I think your point is correct. It looks like they resolved the question of broader conspiracy pretty quickly here. But then you face the question, and put yourself in front of a jury. You've got two cases to make. The first is, there's a guy who's talked violence against America. Pretty weak case. The second is somebody who repeatedly tried to trigger a device, and we have evidence that shows that he thought that device was going to explode and maybe kill dozens of people. Those two cases, if you put them side by side, help explain why you let a case like this roll out. You want to get in front of a jury and say, this isn't a wannabe. He's a real guy.

O'BRIEN: Phil Mudd, we appreciate your insight on this case.

MUDD: My pleasure.

O'BRIEN: Still ahead this morning on STARTING POINT, we're going to talk about Mitt Romney's binder full of women comment. It's interesting, in the debate. It actually kind of slid by a lot of people, but it has become an Internet sensation. We'll take a look at whether or not it's going to have an impact on voters, specifically female voters. That's coming up next.

And one of the world's most powerful women takes a fall. The Australian prime minister's Julie Gillard's unfortunate trip. We'll unfortunate you on what happens there.

Christine has a look at business for us this morning.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: The business of taxes, Soledad. How will Mitt Romney pay for his $5 trillion tax plan? A new report shows one option may not work. We'll run the math. You're watching STARTING POINT.


ROMANS: Welcome back to STARTING POINT. I'm Christine Romans minding your business. A new report from the Tax Policy Center says that the math for governor Mitt Romney's tax plan still doesn't add up. Quote, "These new estimates suggest that Romney will need to do much more than capping itemized deductions to pay for the roughly $5 trillion in rate cuts and other tax benefits he proposed." Here's the math. The tax policy center says assuming a 20 percent cut in tax rates, an appeal of the alternative minimum tax, a repeal of all itemized deductions would raise just under $2 trillion over 10 years. Now, Romney's been floating numbers about how much he would cap deductions. At the debate, he said he would cut rates and if he limited taxpayer deductions to $2,500, that help pay for it. The Tax Policy Center calculated how much revenue that would generate.

The Romney campaign dismissing this report, saying that researchers there, quote, "inserted their own assumptions in order to reach a biased conclusion." And the researchers said they had to make assumptions because there aren't enough concrete details in the Mitt Romney tax plan to do a full score.

O'BRIEN: That's been some of the pushback every time there's a complaint about what they've done, and they're like, we have to guess at some of it. Give us some more details.

ROMANS: And the campaign has said they're going to be working with Congress when Mitt Romney is president. That's what they say.

O'BRIEN: That's what they say.

OK, President Obama and Mitt Romney going to share the same stage one more time tonight, to lift other people up. 48 hours after that bitter, bruising debate, the candidates will attend the Al Smith charity dinner. Brianna Keilar is live from Washington this morning. This charity event is actually usually very, very funny. But do you think it might be different this time around, since they clearly dislike each other and we saw that, I thought, on Tuesday night?

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I think, yes, we did the see that, but I think they just have to be funny tonight. That's part of it. This is a dinner to benefit needy kids, organized by the catholic archdiocese, something that's been going on since the 40s. This is something, Soledad, where we've seen candidates come out, put on a good face, and also white tie, and get some laughs. Just take a listen to what we heard four years ago around the same from John McCain and Barack Obama.


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, (R) ARIZONA: This campaign need the common touch of a working man. After all, it began so long ago with a heralded arrival of a man known to Oprah Winfrey as "The One." Being a friend and colleague of Barack, I just called him "that one."


BARACK OBAMA, (D) PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Many of you know that I got my make, Barack, from my father. What you may not know is that Barack is actually Swahili for "that one."


OBAMA: And I got my middle name from somebody who obviously didn't think I'd ever run for president.



KEILAR: So obviously some good nature there between those two, because they were in the Senate together, but also at the time, that was a very contentious election, so I think they're just going to have to get over it tonight. And Soledad, I will tell you, the president has a little bit of a warm-up, because what he's doing before the dinner is taping "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart." He's been on several times. This is only his second time as president.

O'BRIEN: Which could be very stressful. Maybe it's not a warm-up.

Brianna, they've been talking, as you well know, we are both covering this debate, talking about women. The campaign and the tone and the topic of conversation is about women. Both candidates are working to woo female voters. What are they doing for that?

KEILAR: And the reason they're wooing is because going into that debate, we saw that Gallup poll, right, Soledad, that showed at least this individual poll, and the Obama campaign will contest it, that Mitt Romney and Barack Obama are neck and neck in battleground states when it comes to women, and normally president Obama. So that's a concern. You can see just how hard the candidates are trying to woo women. You can see by the wristband on President Obama yesterday when he was in Iowa, a hot pink wristband to support breast cancer awareness.

President Obama seizing on something that Mitt Romney said in the debate. You've heard the binder comment. Mitt Romney was trying to make the case that when he was Massachusetts governor, he was trying to hire women in his cabinet. He said, basically, that he'd ordered up a whole binder of women to look at that. President Obama and Vice President Biden seizing on that on the trail.


OBAMA: We don't have to collect a bunch of binders to find qualified, talented, driven young women, ready to learn and teach in these fields right now.


JOE BIDEN, U.S. VICE PRESIDENT: The idea they had to go and ask where a qualified woman was, he just should have come to my house. He didn't need a binder.



KEILAR: Now, the Romney campaign has been trying to do some damage control on this, as Democrats seized those comments. And also what they're trying to do, Soledad, as they woo women, they put out an ad, trying to soften, at least rhetorically, Mitt Romney's anti-abortion rights stance. So this is very much in play. Women could decide this election and it's not lost on either ticket.

O'BRIEN: You can definitely tell when people are spinning very hard or working very hard to right the ship. It obviously had some kind of an impact. Brianna Keilar for us this morning. Thank you, Brianna. And I should mention, a little bit later this hour, we'll talk to the woman who created the very funny "binders full of women" blog. It's become an overnight sensation on the internet. We're going to chat with her about that.

Also ahead this morning, it's a question that you would not necessarily expect at a Senate debate.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Miss long, have you read "50 Shades of Grey"?


O'BRIEN: Since both women turned pink, I'm going to say yes for both of them. Is that question even appropriate? It's our get real this morning and the team is heading in to talk about that and much more. We're back right after this short break. Morning, guys!


O'BRIEN: Morning. Welcome, everybody. Our team this morning, Ben Smith is the editor in chief of Buzzfeed, the former D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty joins us this morning as well, and Will Cain is a columnist with John Berman is sticking around from "EARLY START."

Let's talk about our get real this morning, a strong reaction from a debate moment this week. It was not the debate moment, or the debate, the Romney/Obama debate. This was featuring two Senate candidates in New York, Kirsten Gillibrand, big lead over her Republican challenger, Wendy Long. But here was a question that was asked during this debate, which was their only debate.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Miss long, have you read "50 Shades of Grey"?





UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Me neither, for the record. OK.


O'BRIEN: I thought it was funny, but some people are asking, was it appropriate? Will Cain?

WILL CAIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: We're going to start the day off agreeing, which is nice. I thought it was nice. Come on, lighten up. 80 percent, 90 percent of the time, you're going to be very serious and you're going to talk about policies and principles. Lighten up. I want to see your personality today. Have you read it?

ADRIAN FENTY, FORMER DC MAYOR: I have not also, so it's unanimous. People thought it was a little bit sexist, I suppose, to ask the two women who were running for Senate that question.

O'BRIEN: Well, there's only those two women running for Senate.

BEN SMITH, EDITOR IN CHIEF OF "BUZZFEED": But they said if there were two guys, they wouldn't have asked the question.

FENTY: It's kind of like asking Chuck Schumer, his favorite erotic erotica. It seems a little unlikely.

CAIN: Why was there no follow-up question there?

O'BRIEN: What I do like to see, when you throw kind of a wild card at somebody, how they respond. Not even the specifics of the question. But I thought it was great, both of them laughed, no one was chagrinned. It was sort of like they looked like people who can handle a curveball, laugh about it, and move on to the degree to which it was important. You have read --

CAIN: I have read "50 Shades of Grey." You made me. This show made me.

O'BRIEN: It's true, I did.

CAIN: They get a lot of people. Things you don't expect.

O'BRIEN: Oh, my god, it's going to be a good day. Will Cain and I agree. Kumbaya, Will Cain.

Still ahead on STARTING POINT, a gunshot injury happened to this man. He lost his lips, his nose, parts of his mouth, but this is what he looks like now after 36 hours of surgery. He has a brand-new face. We're going to talk to the doctor who led the team behind the incredible transplant. The before photos are a little bit gory, but we will show them to you right after this short break.


O'BRIEN: Good morning. Welcome, everybody. You're watching STARTING POINT. We could learn more today about the man who's accused of plotting to bomb the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Federal officials say he was inspired by Al Qaeda and wanted to plan a massive attack. He's 21 years old. His name is Quazi Nafis. He was born in Bangladesh and in this country on a student visa. He studied cyber security at Southeast Missouri State University earlier this year, though he was transferring to another university. National correspondent Susan Candiotti is following the developments in this story for us.

SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, he looks very young. Apparently, people who lived in his neighborhood here in the New York area didn't know much about him, said he was very quiet, supposedly very religious, not surprisingly.

The FBI says that they have a lot of their undercover operation on videotape. So they have a lot of what he was talking about. And that's when we come to learn that evidently his target was the Federal Reserve.

His aim was to take down the American economy by selecting, as a target, the Federal Reserve Bank. Now, what he didn't know is the people he thought were going to be helping him turned out to be undercover FBI agents.

And so they worked with him to help put together, they say, a 1,000- pound bomb that really was a fake, it was a prop, it was inert. But on his way over to the Federal Reserve Bank, he said he wanted to pull over and make a suicide tape.

And on this tape at a hotel he says, let's see, quote, "I won't stop until I attain victory or martyrdom." And he went also on to say, "I just want something big, something very big that will shake the whole country and will make Muslims one step closer to run the whole world."

But the plot fell apart. When he went to detonate what he thought was a bomb, that's when the FBI moved in on him. And Soledad, they do think that he was a lone wolf working by himself on this one.

O'BRIEN: Yes, I was going to ask because there are some questions about is he, you know, a wannabe terrorist, or is this someone who seriously had a network? And who was that network?

And were they in a position to actually pull off some kind of terror attack, if they hadn't been assisted by those very people who had infiltrated and were trying to uncover their plot?

CANDIOTTI: Well, certainly, he seemed to have been inspired by al Qaeda, according to all my sources and court documents. He wanted to take down America. He thought he was getting help from other people. Thought he could pull this thing off.

But what he didn't know, the people working with him -- and the fact of the matter is, he didn't have anyone else working with him on this. He may have talked to other people, but no one else joined in.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you have any idea of what exactly the FBI and the New York Police Department did to find this guy? I mean, it seems like great police work from what I've read over the past 24 hours. Just anything you can enlighten us.

CANDIOTTI: Yes, imagine, nowadays, everything revolves around social media, right. So one of the ways they made contact with him was on Facebook. He was writing on Facebook, he was using, allegedly, Twitter as well. And so that is how they originally contacted him. And, of course, as we all know in these undercover operations. This is one of the things they're doing constantly, monitoring social media for anyone who's saying anything that might raise some eyebrows. And that's how they --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is there any evidence that had the FBI not sort of created this plot, that they would have been dangerous?

CANDIOTTI: Well, that is the question, isn't it? That's always the question. And I'm sure that may very well be a defense in this case. Was he set up? FBI contends, and in court papers, state that it was his idea. We'll have to see how it plays out in court.

O'BRIEN: It is a fascinating story. Susan Candiotti, thank you for your reporting. As always we appreciate it.

Other stories making news today, John Berman's got that?

BERMAN: Thanks, Soledad. The confessed mastermind of the 9/11 attacks is speaking out against the United States in court.

At his pre-trial hearing at Guantanamo yesterday, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed claimed the U.S. has killed more people in the name of national security than he's charged with murdering.

Mohammed and four others are accused of recruiting and training the September 11 hijackers. They all face the death penalty.

Under a court order and over the objection of the Boy Scouts of America, some 20,000 pages from the organization's so-called perversion files are being made public today.

They document cases of more than 1,200 leaders and volunteers dismissed by the scouts for alleged sexual abuse. CNN spoke to one former Boy Scout who says he was victimized by the adult who recruited him.


KEITH EARLY, ABUSED FORMER BOY SCOUT: Just thinking about it makes me angry because how could you do that to somebody? How could you bring yourself to do that to somebody that is so innocent and, you know, has done nothing wrong?


BERMAN: The victim's names will not be released. The documents cover the period from 1965 to 1985.

In your "A.M. House Call," what could be a significant advance in the battle against pancreatic cancer. Researchers from the University of Minnesota say a drug made from a plant called "Thunder God Vine" completely killed pancreatic tumors in mice.

This plant has long been used in traditional Chinese medicine. Trials on humans could begin in six months, but researchers say that doesn't mean the drug will work in humans. There is always hope.

A long-term study of nearly 15,000 healthy male doctors over 50 found those who took a multi-vitamin every day had an 8 percent lower chance of cancer risk.

The previous studies suggested the vitamin supplements had no impact on cancer or maybe they even raised the cancer risk. Researchers point out that multi-vitamins may have a different impact on women, younger men, and people who are less healthy.

Head over heels, that is Australian Prime Minister Julian Galard, falling hard in front of the cameras in India. She had just laid a wreath when her heel got caught in a soft patch of grass and she is OK. That is why I hate high heels.

O'BRIEN: My gosh, you know what, that is -- that happens. She could have break her ankle that way, that poor woman.


O'BRIEN: Good. I'm glad to hear that.

All right, this morning, we've got this incredible story for you. A man whose face has been replaced by plastic surgery, take a look. This is Richard Lee Norris. This is seven months after a marathon surgery that took place.

They had to replace his jaw, his teeth, and his tongue. Before the surgery, he had had a devastating gun accident. I'm going to show you some of the damage he suffered from that accident. It can be very hard to look at.

Here's a comparison four and then six days after the surgery, and then earlier this month. So on the far left, this is what he looked like before he had the surgery. Look at his face. It's pretty much shrunken and mangled.

And then days after the surgery is that middle shot, obviously, lots of swelling there and this is today. He says now no one even gives him a second look. The surgery came after ten years of research at the University of Maryland Medical Center.

It was funded by the Office of Naval Research and the Department of Defense. Their hope, of course, is that they'll be able to help veterans who have been wounded in action as well.

Dr. Eduardo Rodriguez led the face transplant team. He's the chief of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery at the University of Maryland Medical Center. It's nice to have you with us, Doctor.

The operation, I know, was 36 hours long. What was the hardest thing to do? Because when we look at these before pictures of this man, I mean, he barely has what would be recognized as a regular-shaped face.

DR. EDUARDO RODRIGUEZ, PROFESSOR OF SURGERY, UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND SCHOOL OF MEDICINE: That's absolutely right, Soledad. The hardest thing is we spent so many years, so many number of years trying to reconstruct Richard, however, it wasn't normal.

Now during the operation to remove everything that we had spent so many years was really the moment that failure was not an option so removing everything that we spent a number of years reconstructing, without guaranteed success that the face would work.

And thankfully, with all our efforts and all our practice, everything that we did to ensure a successful run, it turned out beautifully. And he's doing great.

O'BRIEN: My goodness. Put those pictures back up again, guys because here's what Richard said before the surgery. He said -- after the surgery, "for the past 15 years, I lived as a recluse, hiding behind a surgical mask, doing most of my shopping at night, when less people were around.

I can now go out and not get the stares and have to hear comments that people would make. I'm now able to walk past people and no one even gives me a second look."

What kind of -- how was he emotionally doing and what kind of preparation did you have to do to really replace the physical structure that kind of holds your face together underneath your skin?

RODRIGUEZ: Well, Richard is an incredible person and he's a fantastic patient. He's always been very dogmatic in attending his clinical appointments and doing everything that we had planned for.

What you have to understand as you mentioned, these pictures are very graphic. For us, Richard is just a normal person with a facial deformity. However, the world does not see him that way and everybody stares at him.

So for 15 years, living with that psychological distress of really not appearing normal is a huge difficult and very difficult thing to live with. Now, he was the right person. He has evolved to be a normal person. That was his only request.

He wanted to blend into society and be an average person. And that's exactly what's happening today. So the amount of preparation involved to select the right patient, but also to prepare him for what's going to happen, of which can be unpredictable, is a lot of work.

That's why it involves a lot of psychologists, social workers, individuals that are constantly advising him of what can go well, but also what can go wrong. And he is very well prepared, very much of an informed consumer, and he knew what he was getting into.

With all our practice, our strong research evidence, ten years of commitment to this project. Everything went without a hiccup and he's doing beautifully.

He works very hard at everything that we set him out to do. He's achieved every milestone that we expected and also really gone beyond our expectations.

O'BRIEN: He looks amazing.

RODRIGUEZ: When you look at his ability to smile, it's becoming more symmetric. Just to see that face move is remarkable, truly spectacular.

O'BRIEN: As his surgeon, it must be really a wonderful thing. Congratulations to you and your team, Dr. Eduardo Rodriguez, who's professor of surgery at the University Maryland School of Medicine. Thanks to have you with us. Those pictures are just incredible.

RODRIGUEZ: Thank you.

O'BRIEN: You bet. Still ahead on STARTING POINT, "NEWSWEEK" announces it's going all digital, is it the beginning of the end for magazines and print?

And after Mitt Romney said binders full of women during the presidential debate, it kind of took on a life of its own, including a tumbler page that was created just moments after he said it. The woman who is behind that blog will join us straight ahead.


O'BRIEN: You're watching STARTING POINT. "Newsweek" is announcing this morning that it is going to an all-digital format starting next year. The final issue will be printed on December 31st.

In an e-mail to our staff, the editor, Tina Brown, says this. "Our business has been increasingly affected by a challenging print advertising environment, while "Newsweek's" online and e-reader content has built a rapidly growing audience through the Apple, Kindle, Zinio, and Nook stores as well as on the "Daily Beast."

So make sense to you?

SMITH: I mean, it makes sense that the future is not in print. It's not breaking news right now and there's tons of compelling journalism that's going on that's native to the web.

I'm not sure the Nook is necessarily going to be the thing -- it's not like "Newsweek" is going to be something that anybody is reading at or looking at under that name in a few years.

And I think their play is the "Daily Beast," that their web site, hopefully works out. But I don't think it's not necessarily something to lament, that we're not going to be cutting down thousands of trees. That's not necessarily a bad thing.

CAIN: The death of print has been foretold for ten years more than that. The truth is, print is not going to die. Certain kinds of print are going to die.

It might be less, but it's not going to go away. And what's going to away, general interest magazines. There will be a place for niche, high-quality content and it will be in print in the future. FENTY: And there probably is a better opportunity if Tina Brown or anybody else can take advantage of it, by working, as she said, Google, Apple, the Internet technology companies that are coming out with new ways to get information to people. We'll talk about Tumbler, Twitter. They've got to do a much better job and I think they can make more money in the long run if they're aggressive about it.

O'BRIEN: Will the "Newsweek" title go away? If you have the "Daily Beast," will it be "Newsweek"/The Daily Beast?

SMITH: They'll be attempted to what life does, to basically sell the brand, whoever will pay a little bit of money for it.

BERMAN: Can general interest survive then?

SMITH: I think great general interest web sites are thriving. That's what we're trying to do. At Buzz Feed, I mean, I don't think -- I don't really think the print for anybody survives. I mean, you have --

O'BRIEN: Really, you think in 10 years there's no --

SMITH: I took one of my kids to the store the other day, to a cafe, and he looked at these newspapers and he said, how do I use these? Do we have to pay for them?

O'BRIEN: And you think that speaks about children in general or your children?

SMITH: He's perfectly comfortable on these other platforms. We have this nostalgic affection for print.

O'BRIEN: But books themselves, right, if you're talking about print books are doing well. We've seen more people, you know, reading books.

BERMAN: Paper books or books on these things because that's what I'm reading on them.

O'BRIEN: But people also predicted the demise of people reading actually books, and that's not the case.

CAIN: People love predicting things.

SMITH: I'm pretty comfortable predicting the rise of the Internet at this point.

CAIN: It's not the rise of the Internet, the fall of print.

O'BRIEN: Still ahead this morning on STARTING POINT, a prediction from you. The most buzzed about moment from Tuesday's presidential debate sparked an Internet sensation. Listen.


MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I went to a number of women's groups and said, can you help us find folks, and they brought us whole binders full of women.


O'BRIEN: Brought us binders full of women. Up next, you'll meet the woman who created the binders full of women Tumbler blog. We're back in a moment.


BERMAN: Welcome back to STARTING POINT, everyone. Looking at some of the top stories right now.

Lance Armstrong has been dropped by another major sponsor, Anheuser- Busch, after Nike cut ties with Armstrong, citing the seemingly insurmountable evidence that he was doping. He has also stepped down as the chairman of this cancer charity "Live Strong" although he will remain on the board there.

And a big oops in Maricopa County, Arizona, they had the wrong election date listed in the Spanish version of their voter registration cards.

Instead of November 6th, the Spanish translation said the election was November 8th. County officials say only about 50 of the incorrect cards were handed out and they say now they have fixed that huge mistake.

O'BRIEN: How did that happen? The wrong date for the Spanish language in Maricopa County, really? Someone who is a conspiracy theorist would have a field day with that one. Not me. Just saying. I'm just pointing it out.

Just like the Big Bird remark at the first debate in Denver, a simple four-word phrase from Mitt Romney became a sensation overnight Internet sensation. Here's what was said.


ROMNEY: We took a concerted effort to go out and find women who had backgrounds that would be qualified to be part of our cabinet. I went to a number of groups and asked if they could help us find stuffs and they brought us binders full of women.


O'BRIEN: Within minutes, social media sites were lighting up including a Tumbler site called "Binders Full of Women," which got more than 3,000 followers in less than half an hour.

It has now received nearly 5,000 original submissions since Tuesday night. Veronica De Souza is the creator of that Tumblr. What stuck out to you during the debate about that phrase?

Because we were sitting there, listening to it and I remember thinking it sounded awkward, but other people jumped on it because it triggered something. What was it about? VERONICA DE SOUZA, CREATOR, "BINDERS FULL OF WOMEN" TUMBLR: It was awkward, you're right. It was funny, which was really struck me about it. I giggled. I was sitting on my couch, with my laptop on my lap. It took its life from there.

O'BRIEN: So did you immediately then create the page right after that like moments after?

SOUZA: Yes, I would say the page was up within a minute.

FENTY: He didn't say binders full of women's resumes or CVs. He said binders full of women. The Tumblr site is perfect. It's made for the internet.

CAIN: Within a minute?

SOUZA: Yes, I mean, I had the Tumblr open. I was switching tabs, looking if it was available getting it and I kind of just let it sit for maybe a few seconds. I got into photo shop, did two photos, put it on Tumblr.

O'BRIEN: One of those was the binder with the women underneath.


O'BRIEN: Fast and put together, slammed together.

SOUZA: That's what I've been saying, poorly photo shopped because they were very quick. One is the binder. That's the second one and the first one was the words trap her, keep her. I'm sitting on the couch by myself, trapper keeper. Trap her, keep her.

O'BRIEN: That works.

SOUZA: I don't know if I put it up. Then I went back to look and I got so many notes and it was all on Twitter.

CAIN: Veronica, I asked you what did you do with your audience? You more than doubled the amount of people who follow you. What do you do with it now? I heard you lost your job shortly before the debate the other night.

SOUZA: I've been saying, you should hire me if you --

CAIN: Buzz Feed across the table.


O'BRIEN: Smart, creative, within a minute. We can make this happen. That's brilliant.

SOUZA: There you go.

O'BRIEN: Do you worry about sort of dipping in -- I don't know your politics at all. Do you worry about getting involved in sort of a heated political environment by putting something out there? Have you gotten some feedback?

SOUZA: Yes. Not on the binders blog, but on my personal blog where I have comments open I've been getting interesting feedback. I'm leaving it open because it's nice to read. It's not public. Only I can see it, but I definitely didn't make this for any political reason. I just thought it was funny.

O'BRIEN: What do you think the political impact is, ultimately?

SMITH: It makes Romney look silly. I don't think this is the thing that will define the debate. It's more something that's spiraled out on to the Internet where people are having a lot of fun with it.

CAIN: The question is should it? It's certainly funny, serious political analysis dumber than a bag of hammers. You can't make him look like a sexist or out of touch guy from one throwaway line in a debate if you do, you're trying too hard.

FENTY: It does add to his really varying statements about abortion and women's rights. And, I mean, he looked completely out of touch.

CAIN: You're manufacturing that, Mayor, you're creating that, you're building on something that already existed in your mind and using this as evidence.

FENTY: But that's part of campaigns. If he's coming into the campaign looking ambivalent or not consistent on women's issues and he makes this statement that seems like I don't know any women on my own when that I can tap when I become governor, that I need a binder full of women? It adds to his --

BERMAN: The Romney campaign yesterday they came out with a new ad, a tweet from Mitt Romney on this, all four candidates, Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan, President Obama and Joe Biden --

CAIN: They think it's a big deal because it caught fire from people like Veronica and it can spin out of control.

SMITH: The sad thing is that for Romney, as fairly often for him, this is an area where he has an unquestionably good record in terms of bringing women into his record in Massachusetts. That's a real thing, but he just managed to really mess it up.

O'BRIEN: Veronica De Souza, again -- funny, sense of humor and speedy. I think we have a connection here. Thanks for joining us this morning.

SOUZA: Thanks for having me.

O'BRIEN: You bet.

Still ahead this morning on STARTING POINT, the busted terror plot to blow up the New York fed. New details about the student who wanted to destroy America.

Ashton Kutcher replaced Charlie Sheen on "Two and A Half Men." Now he is taking Sheen's spot on another list as well. We'll explain straight ahead.


O'BRIEN: Welcome back, everybody. Terror plot foiled. The feds say he wanted to commit Jihad, blow up the Federal Reserve Bank with a switch of a button. New details this morning about the wannabe terrorist and his brazen plan. Is it a binders blunder?