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STARTING POINT WITH SOLEDAD O'BRIEN

Drone Strike In Pakistan; New York Advising Biden Gun Task Force; Casey Anthony Appeal; Lottery Winner Death; "RG3" To Have More Tests; Hagel Tapped For Defense Secretary; Gay Rights Groups Cautious On Hagel; GOP Critical Of Hagel On Israel; Monster Of The Deep; The Power Of Addiction

Aired January 8, 2013 - 07:30   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: Good morning. Welcome back, everybody. You're watching STARTING POINT. We begin with John Berman with a look at today's top stories. Good morning.

JOHN BERMAN, ANCHOR, CNN'S "EARLY START": Pakistani intelligence officials say several missiles fired from U.S. drones killed eight suspected militants. It happened early this morning along the Afghan border near the Pakistani town of Mir Ali.

This is the fourth U.S. drone strike in the region since the New Year. On Sunday, nine Pakistani Taliban fighters were killed when American missiles fired from several drones and slammed into three militant hideouts.

So he has been a strong advocate and vocal advocate for stricter gun laws, now New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg says he is helping Vice President Biden's task force to curb gun violence.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MAYOR MICHAEL BLOOMBERG (I), NEW YORK: I think all of us know that Joe Biden is not a shrinking violet, particularly when it comes to crime and the gun problem in this country and the number of murders.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: Bloomberg says he is pushing for criminal background checks on all gun sales, not just gun dealers. He's called for renewal of the federal assault weapons ban, similar to the one enacted in 1994 that expired ten years later.

Attorneys for Casey Anthony will be in a Florida courtroom today. Anthony is appealing four convictions for lying to law enforcement after her daughter Caylee was first reported missing in 2008. She was acquitted of murdering 2-year-old Caylee in 2011. Casey Anthony is not expected to attend today's hearing.

The death of a Chicago man who died before he could collect a winning lottery ticket has been ruled a homicide. The Cook County chief medical examiner said there was a lethal amount of cyanide in the man's system.

In late June, he won $1 million in the scratch off lottery ticket. The check for his winnings was formally issued on July 19th. Khan died the next night at a Chicago hospital before he could cash the check.

All right, Robert Griffin III is heading to Florida to see a specialist after test results on his injured right knee reveal possible ligament tears. Washington residence coach, Mike Shanahan, getting all kinds of heat for allowing his prized rookie quarterback to keep playing Sunday while he was obviously hurt limping for two quarters.

But RG3 is taking full responsibility. He is tweeting many may question, criticize, and think they have all of the right answers, but few have been in the line of fire in battle. When adversity strikes, you respond in one of two ways. You step aside and give in or you step and fight.

They can't tell how badly the ligaments are damaged because he had this injury in college. He's got so much going on in that knee. They may have to go in there and see how bad it is.

O'BRIEN: If he's torn his ACL, which some people have said will have to go in and see how bad it is, right.

WILL CAIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: They saw some tears that they want to know if it's a new tear or part of the old tear he had in college. If you don't play, they say you are worse for not getting in the game. If you do play, they say you're irresponsible with your career. There's no way to win for RG3.

O'BRIEN: I love his tweet. It's his coach whose responsibility is to protect the player and make that tough decision, and the medical team. I'm on a tear this morning.

RICHARD SOCARIDES, WRITER, NEWYORKER.COM: This has become like a sports show.

O'BRIEN: I know, how crazy is that?

CAIN: How much of the national championship game did you watch last night?

SOCARIDES: Those Giants are amazing.

O'BRIEN: You watched the Hornets.

My husband is always afraid when I start talking football. He says don't do that. Let's talk politics, safer ground for all of us. Even before the president nominated Chuck Hagel for secretary of defense yesterday, the former Republican senator from Nebraska was facing attacks from both sides, even before it was official.

Opponents seizing on remarks that Hagel made in the past on gay rights to U.S./Israeli relations, he forcefully defended his record in an exclusive interview that he did with "The Lincoln Journal Star."

Here is a little bit of it. He said this, "There is not one shred of evidence that I'm anti-Israeli. Not one Senate vote that matters that hurt Israel. I didn't sign on to certain resolutions and letters because they were counterproductive and didn't solve a problem."

Let's get right to Mike Buttry. He is Hagel's former chief of staff and spokesman. He worked with the senator from 2000 to 2008. It's nice to have you with us, sir. Appreciate your time this morning.

MIKE BUTTRY, HAGEL'S FORMER CHIEF OF STAFF AND SPOKESMAN: Thanks for having me, Soledad.

O'BRIEN: I think a lot of people today are asking so who is the real Chuck Hagel? Is it a guy who at one point 14 years ago said that a diplomat was aggressively gay and that made him unfit to be ambassador to Luxembourg back in 1998.

Was it a guy who talked about the Jewish lobby and he really meant the Israel lobby, or is it a guy who says I'm sorry. I am a decorated Vietnam veteran and I would be tremendous secretary of defense. Who is he?

BUTTRY: Soledad, let me speak to the Chuck Hagel that I knew. This is a guy who served on the ground in Vietnam, earned two purple hearts while he was there. That's the prism to which he sees the responsibility of making policy for the United States government.

And that's how he'll see the job as secretary of defense. From the point of view someone on the ground, in the mud, during the fighting and the dying and so many of those people have carried the burden for the last ten plus years in the United States of America as we've been in this endless cycle of war.

Those are the people who Chuck Hagel will orient himself to wars and those are the people he'll standing up for. With regard specifically to the point on Israel, you know, I have been astounded at the way that Senator Hagel's record has been distorted on Israel.

This is someone who understands not just in his head, but in his heart, the importance of our relationship with Israel. Don't take my word for it. He wrote a book in 2008 on American policy and wrote in the book of the importance with our relationship with Israel specifically our military relationship with Israel.

O'BRIEN: OK, so then let's talk about all of the other things that people will bring up when they have this hearing, the comment about someone being aggressively gay. His name is James Hormel. He says, you know, as much as there was an apology, it wasn't an apology to him.

It was an apology to "Politico." It was a press apology, which some people would say if they were cynics, which I am not. Those are those non-apology apologies. What does he say about that now?

BUTTRY: Let's talk about that. Obviously, Senator Hagel would take that back if he could. It was an insensitive thing to say. It doesn't represent his view. I would point out this, two things, one, Senator Hagel was opposed to a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage when he was in the Senate at a time it was very difficult for Republicans to be opposed to that ban.

He stood up, he was opposed to it. But more to the point, I worked with the man. In our office, it didn't matter what your sexual orientation was. It didn't matter what your race was. It didn't matter how old you were. What mattered was the work that you did and how you got your work done.

O'BRIEN: Unless you are aggressively gay and you want to be ambassador to Luxembourg and then maybe not so much.

BUTTRY: Soledad, if he could have that one back, I think he would. But in our office, it did not matter if you were gay or not. What mattered was the work you did and that's how he will operate in the Pentagon.

SOCARIDES: Can I just ask you. Good luck to you because this is going to be a big fight in Washington I think. On that point, you say his record on Israel has been distorted. But the record on the rights issues is pretty clear. I mean, he received a zero percent rating from the human rights campaign, which rates members of Congress on these issues.

But I mean, listen, I think going forward, he has an opportunity to show he can be a real leader on this. Can you say today he's fully committed to protecting the rights of gays and lesbians to serve in the military? What actions will he take?

BUTTRY: He will support the president's policy of letting people open the service, and I have no doubt about that. I would commend to you and your readers, a piece for "Atlantic Monthly," go on the Atlantic site, Steve wrote a great piece from a credible perspective about Senator Hagel's relationship with the LGBT community.

But more to the point, we are going to have a chance in Senate hearings I think for Senator Hagel to address this head on. I suspect maybe he is second only to RG3 today in terms of Washington's bandwidth. I suspect those hearings will be well attended and highly viewed.

O'BRIEN: Not bad company to be in. I want ask you a quick question on Iran because that's a whole other category and lots of questions. If you look, he's got a long record of opposing sanctions on Iran. Look at what the president has done, he has aggressively and increasingly ramped up sanctions on Iran. It seems completely contradictory on that front. Is that problematic?

BUTTRY: Let me clarify that. Senator Hagel has a record of opposing unilateral U.S. only sanctions on Iran. He has been supportive of multilateral sanctions on Iran, which is what we have now and which is working to some affect.

The reason he opposed to unilateral sanctions because is he very clear on the threat that Iran poses, and the danger Iran poses, but he doesn't think unilateral sanctions are effective. He thinks they isolate the United States and strengthen the rulers in Iran.

Multilateral sanctions can be highly effective. That was his position in the Senate. More to the point, the secretary of defense' job is to protect our military, build a 21st century fighting force and fight and win wars in the terrible event that's what's required. And Chuck Hagel is enormously qualified to do those three things.

O'BRIEN: Mike Buttry joining us this morning. It's nice to see you, sir. Thank you for your time. We appreciate it.

BUTTRY: Thanks for having me, Soledad. Good talking to you.

O'BRIEN: Thank you likewise.

CAIN: Soledad, that is the question. What is he qualified? How is he qualified for the -- not only anti gay, but anti semi? I am a position have you a very high bar to prove claims like that, but there are legitimate questions about how his views on how you deal with Iran, Hamas, and sanctions. Those are very, very important questions.

O'BRIEN: If you look at it, right, on all of those issues and both sides of the aisle, people will come at him fascinating to watch.

SOCARIDES: By the way, I don't think -- nor have I said he's anti gay. He said some very unfortunate things. He's taken some positions that have been not supportive of gay rights, but he'll have a real opportunity to prove himself in these hearings. I hope he does. Potentially he could be I real leader on this.

O'BRIEN: An interesting background, right, Vietnam vet.

CAIN: Interesting pick by the president. Not afraid of a fight.

SOCARIDES: Listen, I think the best thing about this is that the president picks somebody who is outside the box thinker about military issues. That's what we need.

O'BRIEN: The interesting fight on Susan Rice though, which is also interesting.

Ahead on STARTING POINT this morning, that giant squid. Let's talk more about that. It's twice the size of a car, for the first time in history, the pictures of the sea creature in its natural habitat. That's ahead.

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O'BRIEN: Welcome back, everybody. You're watching STARTING POINT. The Discovery Channel is about to air never seen before video of a monster squid in its natural habitat. Japanese scientists caught it on video for the first time.

We have still pictures right now. Obviously Discovery Channel wants you to watch it on the Discovery Channel. Richard Ellis with the American Museum of History says the creature used to be stuff of legend.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RICHARD ELLIS, AUTHOR, "THE SEARCH FOR THE GIANT SQUID": This is absolutely the first time anyone has ever seen these things alive. People have been searching for them for hundreds of years, literally. Not with the technology of today, but they wash ashore. And people know that they exist, but no one has ever seen a live one. They're always dead when they wash ashore.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: Nine miles east of the Chichi Island in the Northern Pacific. It is -- it grew up to 26 feet long, about the size of a standard school bus. This is a small one. The biggest they found, which was dead, 18 meters.

SOCARIDES: How big is that?

O'BRIEN: Multiply by three people, 54 feet long.

SOCARIDES: This is a rough crowd this morning. You have to be on your game. We're proud Americans, Will Cain and I.

Coming up next, we're going to talk about a really interesting book that's been written. We'll explain the struggles of addiction. The author is Christopher Kennedy Lawford, who says he is clinically predisposed for addiction.

And his cousin, the former Rhode Island congressman, Pat Kennedy. We'll talk about their addiction and recovery as well. They are here live. We're back in just a moment with that.

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O'BRIEN: Welcome back, everybody. Drug and alcohol abuse is a growing problem across our nation. In fact, the number of drug and alcohol problems diagnosed by doctors last year was up 70 percent.

That's according to a study that was released last fall. Our next two guests know a lot about the power of addiction and the struggle to recover. Christopher Kennedy Lawford details the process.

His new book is called "Recover to Live, Pick Any Habit, Manage Any Addiction." He is here this morning with his cousin, former Rhode Island congressman, Patrick Kennedy, who is also battled addiction. It's nice to have you with us. This is really a textbook.

CHRISTOPHER KENNEDY LAWFORD, AUTHOR, "RECOVER TO LIVE: KICK ANY HABIT, MANAGE ANY ADDICTION": This has the best information on the planet today about these illnesses. I interviewed 150 of the smartest people, neuroscientists, behaviorists, psychologists, treaters, who really know their stuff.

Everything in this the book is evidence-based. I want to give people information that's credible beyond reproach and nobody is selling anything in this book.

O'BRIEN: You were an addict, cocaine, alcohol, heroin --

LAWFORD: In recovery for 26 years.

O'BRIEN: Yes, have you been in recovery for two years, Patrick, alcohol and prescription drugs.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oxycontin, anything I could get my hands on.

O'BRIEN: This book, is it a personal journey for to you to kind of figure out how it was done and how the recovery -- how the addiction happened and how the recovery could work?

LAWFORD: Well no, for me it was really about the science. We're learning so much about the brain that we understand this is a brain illness, the American Society of Addiction Medicines says that this is, there's no difference between the way a process addiction occurs like gambling or the way substance addiction comes.

We really understanding these illnesses are in the brain. People need to know that. I'm about reducing stigma and shame and giving people the opportunity and the empowerment to do something about this illness if they want to.

O'BRIEN: Is it genetics? Are certain people pre-disposed to being an addict?

PATRICK KENNEDY, FORMER RHODE ISLAND CONGRESSMAN: Just like being pre-disposed to cancer or diabetes you also are for depression, anxiety and addiction and many of the genetics overlap so you might have a higher propensity for addiction but also anxiety, depression. They're common mechanisms in the brain.

What I love about what Chris did, he brought all addictions together. It's not just addiction to alcohol over here. If you're addicted to alcohol, better off than not you'll have problems in other areas of your life.

So I think what he did is very important because there's a vacuum in terms of understanding addiction and mental health in our society, and we need to fill the vacuum with good knowledge and what the evidence base tells us.

O'BRIEN: It's kind of self-help and I always thought the theory was you go and the only way to recover is to check yourself in to a Betty Ford or a promises or something.

LAWFORD: That's been the model the 28-day model, now it's 90 days and going to treatment centers is really expensive so if you want to look at this illness, it affects millions of Americans, 22 million people have a chemical dependency, 60 million have a non-dependent use disorder.

Lots of people are suffering and not all can afford good out or inpatient treatments. I began my abuse at 12. If you have the genetic front-loading for this and you have trauma in your life, at sass nations of two of my uncles and divorce, I had, the chance is 50 percent greater you'll develop this in later in life. There is very little culpability here for folks who develop the illnesses.

SOCARIDES: If you can't afford to get expensive professional help what are the things people can do?

LAWFORD: The first thing is to assess where you're on in the continuum. It's all about harm in your life. We're not prohibitionists. We're saying if these things aren't working for you anymore, and they often aren't and you want to change your life, what can you begin to do?

First assess where you're at and I have seven tools here that, first you have to stop using, 12-step programs are enormously beneficial, cognitive behavioral therapy is enormously beneficial, meditation, exercise, nutrition, all of these things, all of these things have some evidence base that they can affect your ability to recover.

CAIN: Chris, how do you rationalize, one of your big message we can help take control of it yourselves, self-help, but that seems to run counter to everything we've been taught you're a victim or it's genetics or denial. How do you get over denial?

LAWFORD: That's a difficult thing and it's up to the families and loved ones of people. There's a lot about codependency. People in self-help sections of book stores are usually family and friends of people who are suffering. They're the ones who bring it to them.

The truth is many people do need help with this and they can get that for fun and free at 12-step programs or from friends. The critical thing is to believe that you can change your life. That's the process. We understand that a lot of this stuff is about retraining the brain. The neuroplasticity of the brain has enormous capabilities for relearning things and changing these kinds of behaviors.

O'BRIEN: Let me ask both of you a question, Patrick, I'll start with you. Do addicts have to bottom out, is that what happened with you? Was there a point?

KENNEDY: A moment of clarity you no longer want to live the life that you've been living.

O'BRIEN: What was yours?

KENNEDY: My father dying. My feeling desperate because I had been a chronic slipper. I could stop but I couldn't stop for long periods of time. Since I left Congress, I've had the longest period of continual sobriety and those of us who know who are in recovery it's about continual sobriety, so --

O'BRIEN: Did having a baby?

KENNEDY: The baby is a guarantee I'm going to be taking this more seriously even if I don't take myself as seriously and don't want to save my life I want to be here for my kid. Something bigger than me, the moment of clarity, the psyching change --

LAWFORD: It took me ten years of trying and I had all of the resources and all of the desire to arrest this illness and still took me to ten years, went to college and law school, I got a masters in clinical psychology while fully enmeshed in my addiction and trying to get over it and couldn't do it. The point is people have to hit bottom but we can raise the bottom. That's the critical.

BERMAN: And shouldn't give up.

LAWFORD: Right. The sooner you intervene in the process the better chance you have of changing someone's trajectory.

O'BRIEN: Is being famous make it so much more difficult? Most people we think about with addiction are the Hollywood stars and starlets who go off --

KENNEDY: Nine out of ten addicts started when they were teenagers, it's when the prefrontal cortex hasn't developed. The big area for the next 50 years in terms of mental health is prohibiting and preventing addiction from happening in the first place.

By eliminating this notion that it's OK to experiment when you're a teenager and we've thrown up our hands as a society think, well, that's what kids do. Listen, if we can get people to put it off longer and longer, our chances of reducing long-term addiction and disability is enhanced.

O'BRIEN: The book is called "Recover To Live, Kick Any Habit, Manage Any Addiction." Christopher Kenny Lawford is the author and cousin Patrick.

LAWFORD: He did the foreword, which I was grateful to have him do.

O'BRIEN: Great to have you with us this morning.

LAWFORD: Thanks, Soledad.

We got to take a short break. Still ahead this morning on STARTING POINT, we'll talk about football, the Irish could have used some luck last night, we'll break down the BCS blowout at the hands of Alabama.

Balk to Barrett Jones and Eddie Lacey will be with us. We'll also talk to a former coach, Beverly Kearney, despite six track and field championships at the University of Texas.

She says she was pushed to resign after admitting she had a relationship with a student athlete, but she says there's something strange about the timing of being dismissed. We'll talk about that ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: Welcome back. You're watching STARTING POINT. It wasn't Erin about brag, it was Erin go home. Alabama rolling over Notre Dame, the fighting Irish to win the BCS championship game. We'll talk to some of the players about the big win last night.

And new overnight, a chopper is down, two Americans are dead, crews are still trying to pull the bodies out this morning, happened in Peru. We'll update you on the accident straight ahead.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Getting out before the cliff, luxury home sales shoot up right before the cliff's deadline. We'll show you how many homeowners and why they're richer for it.

BERMAN: It is gadget lover's heaven. We have highlights from the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas coming up including a self- driving car.

O'BRIEN: I need one of those. We got a packed show for you this morning. Alabama players, Eddie Lacey and Baret Jones will join us.