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STARTING POINT WITH SOLEDAD O'BRIEN

Winter Storm Threatens Parts of U.S.; Interview with Congressman Peter King; Congressional Criticism of "Zero Dark Thirty"; It's a Bird, It's a Plane - It's Not Real

Aired December 20, 2012 - 08:30   ET

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


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back, everybody. Millions of Americans are trying to beat the holiday travel rush, and they might have to resort to a backup Plan Because of this huge winter storm that's now whipping across the Midwest. Here's a look at Milwaukee where the snow's already piling up on the roads.

There's a blizzard warning in effect for half a dozen state. The system stretching all the way from Colorado to the Great Lakes and Wisconsin. And in Colorado, they've already felt the brunt of the season's first big winter storm, 156-mile stretch of I-70 had to be shut down in the Rocky Mountain State in both directions because of snow yesterday.

The winter weather system is packing wind gusts of 60 miles an hour in some places. Parts of Iowa could see a foot of snow today. Here are pictures from Mobile, Alabama. The storm has done considerable damage there. It's hard to see because these are from overnight but trees down, power lines down. Look at that damage. Several stores also suffered damage, tornado warning in place earlier, brings us to meteorologist Alexandra Steele. She's tracking the storm from the extreme weather center in Atlanta this morning. What is the update?

ALEXANDRA STEELE, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Soledad, thanks. We're looking at the pictures from mobile, another line of storms and more tornado warnings along I-65 in mobile, these storms not quite as strong as they were during 5:00 a.m. hour where that damage was from. This is the picture, an incredibly robust storm, a classic scenario.

This is where the snow is, this is where we have blizzard warnings from Omaha, getting out of it in toward Des Moines and Wisconsin that's where we'll see up to a foot of snow. The cold section there but a robust section, even thunder snow, that shows you how strong it is and here is the severe weather line where it is rain but we're seeing severe weather.

Here is the southeast, here is Mobile. Right along I-65, that's where there are reports of damage and more tornado warnings right after and along the same lines so kind of training over one another, so a very stormy southeast. It will all move through and clear out by this evening, kind of Atlanta getting into it the latest and then it moves out by tonight. So when will it all leave? Here is Chicago rain for you now but about 6:00 or 7:00 tonight this rain changes over to snow, maybe two to four inches. But it's the powerful wind energy with this is making it a strong storm. And 50-mile-per-hour wind gusts so the worst for Chicago yet to come.

But as we head through tonight rain is just west of the 95 corridor. It's overnight to New York, Washington, Norfolk gets into it, then it clears out and Boston by the afternoon and a fait accompli and a done deal. But even so, the rain may be gone, but as the storm passes east of you, the winds are still strong and the temperatures will drop dramatically. Soledad?

O'BRIEN: That sounds like all is bad and none of the good.

(LAUGHTER)

O'BRIEN: Alexandra Steele a little bit of the doom speaker for us this morning, thank you, Alexandra, appreciate the update.

John Berman has a look at other stories making news this morning.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR, "EARLY START": Thanks, Soledad. Military prosecutors will seek the death penalty for Army Staff Sergeant Robert Bales. He is accused of killing 16 Afghan villagers in a shooting rampage earlier this year. More than half of them were children. Bales lawyer claims his client had PTSD was on his fourth deployment and slammed the army for putting the death penalty on the deal.

A 35-car pileup on the Long Island Expressway has left one person dead and sent more than 30 others to area hospitals, the chain reaction crash started yesterday afternoon when a tractor trailer struck several cars and caught on fire. It happened next to exit 68, about 60 miles east of New York City. The expressway was shut down in both directions for hours while Suffolk county police. You can imagine the traffic.

About 90 minutes from now Daniel Inouye will lie instated in the Rotunda so the public can pay their respects. The Democrat from Hawaii was a World War II hero, a witness to Pearl Harbor, and his funeral is tomorrow at the national cathedral.

A survey of drug use among teenagers marijuana use in 2012 leveled off after rising steadily for four straight years. For example, the study, called "Monitoring the Future" finds that 6.5 percent of 12th graders said they smoke marijuana daily, but get this, that's actually down slightly from last year.

Filmmaker Judd Apatow where a father plays with his kids and jokes about murdering them will not get cut because of the Newtown killings. At one point in "This is 40", Albert Brooks' character, he lines up his triplets and says "Line up for murder, who wants to be killed?" He then squirts the kids with the hose. Judd Apatow told TMZ he wrote the scene two years ago, obviously long before the Newtown tragedy.

O'BRIEN: I think it's done sarcastically as he's talking to his kids, but the timing on that.

Still ahead this morning on STARTING POINT, too real for a reason? Movie critics in the capital slamming "Zero Dark Thirty," the movie about the hunt for Osama bin Laden. We're going to talk to one of its biggest critics coming up next, Congressman Peter King.

And the video has blown our mind. An eagle snatching a baby right off the ground, take a look and they grab the baby and they're off, and then he drops the baby, but it wasn't real. It was fake. We'll talk to the students who created this video that went viral. That's ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: It is one of the hottest, most anticipated movies of the year. It's called "Zero Dark Thirty," a nail biting account of the decade long hunt for the world's most wanted man, Osama bin Laden.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You really believe this story? Osama bin Laden?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What part convinced you?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Her confidence.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you're right, the whole world's going to want to know this.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: The movie critics love it, but "Zero Dark Thirty" has some powerful critics who do not love it, including Congressman Peter King. Peter King says the filmmakers got access to classified information to make this movie. We'll talk about that in just a moment.

First, though, we want to start with Benghazi, that testimony has been under way for 39 minutes now. Would you think ultimately the reports that have come out about what happened in Benghazi support a theory that there was some collusion or some kind of blocking of information from the White House?

REP. PETER KING, (R) NEW YORK: Certainly all the information didn't come out and I believe it was contrived to go with the election. The fact is everything that was said publicly was very different from what was being said privately, what was known privately and seemed to fit into the president's narrative that the war against terrorism is over, al Qaeda had been decimated, when in fact al Qaeda has a stronghold in Eastern Libya.

I think that we still have not heard what happened as to why the administration put together the story it did, why they continued for ten days two weeks afterwards to say it was not a terrorist attack when it was clear from the start it was. O'BRIEN: But the report that is fascinating, I think, and really goes into a lot of detail and clearly spells out a ton of mistakes and it's a riveting read, but the takeaway is this, "No one engaged in misconduct or willingly ignored his or her duty." So what do you make of that takeaway from this independent report?

KING: I think we have to look into that more. I'm not trying to blame people what happened before. I think mistakes were made. I think we have to find out why more security was not provided.

My main criticism has been the way from September 11th forward why the administration did not tell the full story. And we don't know why the security was not provided. To me, we have to have testimony from people higher up in the department to say how high those decisions went, why the decision was made, that was a dangerous area and to have American lives at risk and not give them any answers.

O'BRIEN: "Zero Dark Thirty," have you seen it yet?

KING: No, I haven't seen it.

O'BRIEN: The director Kathryn Bigelow and the writer Mark Boal, we know from the transcripts that they met with the Undersecretary of Defense, Michael Vickers. I'll read a little transcript of that you can find from Judicial Watch, a right-leaning organization.

Vickers says, "The basic idea is they'll make a guy available who was involved from the beginning as a planner, a SEAL team six operator and commander."

And Boal says, "Are you talking about," redacted the name.

And then Vickers says, "A guy named" redacted his name, "and so he can basically can probably give you everything you would want or get from Admiral Olson or Admiral McRaven."

And Boal says, "That's dynamite, by the way."

"Not to reveal in any way, he's one step removed he knows what can he and cannot say."

He goes on to name a name and then redacted, is your point this is illegal, naming the SEAL?

KING: Soledad, first of all, I asked for this investigation a year and a half ago because there were many examples, I felt too much collusion, too much pressure being brought by the administration on people in the CIA and the Defense Department. The reason I asked for it, people who are operators came to me and said the pressure was wrong.

This is not my investigation, this is the inspector general and the Defense Department conducted a preliminary investigation and based on what he found he expanded it to a full investigation and now gone into further amplification of that. The incident involved Mr. Vickers was the inspector general referred that to the Justice Department. But in addition to that we have the fact that they're using democratic lobbyists. They were brought to CIA locations they shouldn't have been at. They also, as Mark Boal himself said, were given sensitive information not made available to the public. Did this violate procedures and the CIA is already based on the investigation they did, they've changed procedures based on the inappropriate action that was taken by a number of people in the CIA at the pressure of the administration.

So I have no problem with the movie. I give President Obama tremendous credit for killing bin Laden. He gets the credit for that. My concern is having an administration lean on people in the Defense Department and the CIA to provide sensitive or perhaps classified information is wrong.

O'BRIEN: So Mark Boal would say the question is not about sensitive information, it's about classified information would be the focus, and here's what he said when he was asked about that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MARK BOAL, SCREENWRITER: I never asked for classified material. To my knowledge I never received any. And I think as far as the controversy goes, you know -- how can I put this. It was an election year. It was surreal and bizarre to have, I mean there were major players in the Republican party characterizing the script and the movie before I had even written a word.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: That's Martha Raddatz from ABC doing the interview. What do you think of what he's saying, all of this was about politics.

KING: No. I resent that. First of all, who cares what Mark Boal says? He doesn't decide what sensitive and what's classified. So I don't care what he has to say. Secondly, for him to be criticizing me saying this is a Republican attack. No one gave President Obama more credit than the taking out of bin Laden.

What I'm talking about pressuring special operators, people who put their lives on the line, pressuring them to cooperate with Hollywood producers. Did Mark Boal also say at the medal ceremony that the Hollywood people were brought in and those operators did not know they were going to be there, they did not belong there? This violates the basic policies of the CIA and the Defense Department.

O'BRIEN: Did that violate a policy? My question would be what do you do about that? They show up as a medal ceremony.

KING: Not just show up, they're not allowed in there. They're not allowed in there. These are people who put their lives on the line who don't want anyone to know who they are. And some of the Hollywood people are showing up and looking out at them and finding out who they are, and getting their names and realizing who they are. That's wrong and that should not be done.

O'BRIEN: Is it illegal and what do -- what do you want out of it?

KING: Well that's -- it's really not up to me. This is the inspector general in the Defense Department. He's been conducting this investigation. He thinks there's enough there for the last a year and a half to be carrying out this investigation. The Inspector General thought there was enough to refer it on to the Justice Department.

(CROSSTALK)

O'BRIEN: Right, but if you had your druthers, and I know this has been something that has really been sticking in your craw for a while.

KING: Yes.

O'BRIEN: But if you had your druthers what would be the appropriate response that would get to the people who you think are responsible for this?

KING: When all of the details came out I would say that there be sanctions against anyone in the Administration, I'm not talking about people being indicted, I'm not -- I'm not into that. I'm not one of these mad prosecutors. What I'm saying is that there should be action taken, there should names who did it and if they have to lose their jobs. If they -- if they pressured anyone, any special operator was pressured to talk to and to deal with anyone in Hollywood then I personally -- I think should lose their job requiring them to do that.

These people put their lives on the line and should not be forced to cooperate with a Hollywood movie.

O'BRIEN: Congressman Peter King joining us this morning, always nice to see you sir. Thank you for your time.

KING: Soledad, thank you. Thanks a lot.

O'BRIEN: You bet.

Still ahead this morning on STARTING POINT we knew it all along kind of sort of. This video which is a terrifying shot of what is that an eagle grabbing a toddler, a little baby, and then dropping the baby. Well it's all fake. We'll tell you how it was done, how they pulled it off. That's straight ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BERMAN: All right. Welcome back to STARTING POINT everyone.

Check this out some new thread at NASA, this streamlined white and green Z-1 space suits could soon replace the bulkier ones astronauts wear now. NASA says they can shorten flight preparation time, improve safety and enhance astronauts' mobility during spacewalks.

Now if the suits seem familiar to Buzz Lightyear I guess it's a coincidence. Can you imagine NASA being inspired by Buzz Lightyear.

O'BRIEN: I love it. BERMAN: While we're on the subject of the universe and, look out, there is a new Miss Universe this morning. For the first time in 15 years, she's an American.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GIULIANA RANCIC, HOST: Miss Universe 2012 is -- USA, Olivia Culpo.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(CROSSTALK)

BERMAN: Almost seven seconds, waiting like that. Olivia Culpo of Rhode Island took home the honors after winning Miss USA back in June.

O'BRIEN: Oh congratulations.

All right, this is one of the videos that looks so weird it can't be true but it really looks like it's real. Take a look. It's an eagle swooping out of the air and picks up a baby and then drops the baby. See there he goes, grabs the baby, baby is lifted off the ground and the baby is dropped. It's crazy, right.

Well it turns out it's actually a very well done fake, it was orchestrated by students studying 3D animation design in Montreal. They made the baby and they made the eagle too and two of those students are with us this morning. Felix Marquis-Poulin and Normand Archambault join us. Nice to have you guys with us. I appreciate it.

This was a class assignment. So Felix why don't you start for me. How did you come up with this particular idea?

FELIX MARQUIS-POULIN, STUDENT, CENTRE NAD: We -- we make a lot of research on YouTube on what was the favorite subject topics of everybody so we come out with animals and babies.

So that's how where we started the whole idea and after this, we made a lot of brainstorming and we come up with this idea of an eagle catching a baby. That's pretty much it.

O'BRIEN: And you looked at YouTube, of course, because it's a class, so you're going to be graded. You got 100,000 views -- then that would be a perfect score. You ended up getting 10 million views of this video, so I guess it's a solid A plus for you. People went completely crazy seeing this and many people thought it was real. Did it surprise you that everybody thought it was real?

NORMAND ARCHAMBAULT, STUDENT CENTRE NAD: Well I mean, that was the point of the project, it was -- we had to integrate computer generated images into real footage.

(CROSSTALK)

O'BRIEN: Right but it's kind of a bizarre idea, right. I mean, it's a little far-fetched to some degree that an eagle would pick up a kind of hefty actually little baby. Let's walk me through how you created it. Because we've got some video of you guys and the sort of the work as you were doing the CGIs.

Let's show some of that while you tell me and maybe Normand you can do that. What did you do, how did you do it?

ARCHAMBAULT: Well at first we had to create the geometry of the model so we had to build the eagle and the -- and the baby in 3D and then we rigged it, that means that we had to make a bone system for both of them and then we shade them and add picture and then we integrated in comp editing to make the final product.

MARQUIS-POULIN: Yes it's very teamwork because everybody has his own specific mission on this. So I was doing some modeling, other guys doing texturing and lighting so it's all about teamwork.

O'BRIEN: So here is the slow mo of it. And there are some people who looked at it in slow mo and said they could see the clues that made them know it was a fake. What are we looking at in the slow mo picture that tipped us off that this is not real?

MARQUIS-POULIN: Well at some point I think you see one of the bird, one of the wings missing in one frame of the image. Another point you see the shadow that comes in too fast or the eagle doesn't seem to grab the baby as tight as it should but these are all things that we saw but not all of it.

We never thought that people would analyze it frame by frame and for us it was a like a big critique for our project.

ARCHAMBAULT: It was very fun.

O'BRIEN: And you got a million views so who cares about some of the mistakes people were able to find later. What will you do now? This is a class project, you're going to graduate. What do you want to do? What is the big goal?

MARQUIS-POULIN: I don't really know now, getting a job in a good company for movies or advertising. I don't know, I really like the sight of doing some independent animation movies and a lot of projects ahead that I don't really know what's going to be next.

O'BRIEN: Same thing?

ARCHAMBAULT: Same thing for me. To work in the video effects movie industry at the end.

O'BRIEN: Well, I'm going to guess that this is a pretty good toe right into the industry. Nice to have you gentlemen with us, Normand Archambault and Felix Marquis-Poulin with us today. Congratulations.

ARCHAMBAULT: Thank you.

MARQUIS-POULIN: Thank you.

O'BRIEN: You bet. You bet. We have to take a break. "End Point" is up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: Welcome back, everybody. It is time for "End Point". I'm going to start us off. I thought that the coach who used the open mikes and lots of TV cameras to say America we need to figure it out and come together and it's not really about politics and it's not even as he said about one single issue, it's about really trying to figure out as Americans what do we want to be and all the issues that we have to confront to get to the place that I think everybody agrees we have to get to. I thought he was wonderful. I thought he was amazing.

BERMAN: One of the big questions with this -- with this awful event, is it's different this time or what makes it different this time than all of these other horrible events that happened.

When you see this coach who coaches in South Carolina, by the way.

(CROSSTALK)

O'BRIEN: Has two little girls.

BERMAN: You know, you see that a lot of people who may not have risen up before are now getting very vocal about these issues.

MARGARET HOOVER, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: It hits home because of the age of the children. It hits home because the most vulnerable of our society.

O'BRIEN: Which is sort of sad right, because people are, I mean -- you know the --

CHRYSTIA FREELAND, DIGITAL EDITOR, "THOMSON REUTERS": When 18-year- olds get shot that should be terrible, too.

O'BRIEN: The Davis boy was shot, it's a case that's now in litigation in Florida, and we had his parents on the other day. That's a tragedy for their family. There's tons of gun violence that we could be doing multiple stories every single day and you know it just does sort of feel like --

The president was smart in his speech yesterday to bring up the other incidents of gun violence that have happened since the Newtown shooting for exactly that reason.

RICHARD SOCARIDES, WRITER, NEWYORKER.COM: I don't think we know if it's going to be different this time. I mean -- and that's what we're trying to get at when we talked with Senator Blumenthal. I mean how long should Americans wait before they start to say it's taking too long. If it takes, he said it took five years during the Clinton years to do the assault weapons ban.

I mean if this takes five months it seems to me it's taken too long. I mean there needs to be action. You have to capture the moment in these -- the political moment in this time I think.

O'BRIEN: Right but legislation --

(CROSSTALK)

SOCARIDES: No, but if you wait, it's a big problem. That's what the NRA does. They slow roll these things and time is the enemy of people who are trying to do something.

FREELAND: It can be our fault, too, because I do think there is a danger of sort of ADD in the political culture right now and in the media culture, and it's -- you know everyone is incredibly focused on this. I think it is an opportunity for the tectonic plates to shift but it's important not to stop talking about it in January and February and March and (INAUDIBLE).

HOOVER: And there are things you can do besides legislation immediately. You can enforce existing laws already. I mean, plenty of things, as Blumenthal said. Blumenthal said we can do it. There's a lot that could be done.

(CROSSTALK)

O'BRIEN: What I like about all that, right, is that we are actually not powerless, because I think people feel powerless in the wake of this, we actually have a lot of power. We just have to leverage it.

HOOVER: And responsibility.

FREELAND: Yes, I would agree.

O'BRIEN: Thank you guys. Appreciate your time this morning. We have to take a break. We'll see you back here tomorrow morning.

"CNN NEWSROOM" with Carol Costello begins right now. Hi Carol, good morning.