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Women Already In Combat; Rare JFK Memorabilia For Sale; Apple Stock Plunges; Te'o Admits To Lying; Senate Committee Welcomes Kerry

Aired January 24, 2013 - 14:00   ET


DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: You just heard the military's about-face, but you're about to see how women are currently training to face every soldier's worst nightmare.

I'm Don Lemon. Roll it.

The story keeps changing as the twists get more bizarre. Who's at fault in the Manti Te'o saga?

Plus, chilling new details about a teen's alleged plot targeting Wal- Mart, but now his uncle says --


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Even your owner reporter got several of the facts wrong.


LEMON: And, intimate new pictures of JFK and his famous family.

Hello, everyone. Welcome. I'm Don Lemon.

Game on. The battle over gun control is kicking into high gear today. California Senator Dianne Feinstein stood near this wall of guns today, take a look, flanked by police officers as she unveiled a tough bill that would ban assault weapons. The new bill would ban more than 100 specific models of firearms, semi automatic weapons with detachable magazines and high capacity magazines that use more than 10 rounds of ammunition. Lawmakers say the time to act is right now.


SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D), CALIFORNIA: These massacres don't seem to stop. They continue on. Columbine, Virginia Tech, Aurora, Tucson, Oak Creek. The common thread in these shootings is each gunman used a semi automatic assault weapon or large capacity ammunition magazines.

REP. ELIZABETH ESTY (D), CONNECTICUT: I hope, I pray, and I believe that this horror in the little town of Newtown, Connecticut, is our wake up call. It is our call as Americans to act and to act now. What happened in Newtown on December 14, 2012, was an unspeakable tragedy. But what happens now? That is up to us.

(END VIDEO CLIP) LEMON: And that last speaker was new Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty. She represents Newtown, Connecticut.

The bill faces big hurdles, though. The NRA staunchly opposes the bill. The cover of the NRA's official journal, it reads "Siege," and it says -- an article inside this says that the gun owners face an unprecedented assault on the rights. And we have a new statement from the NRA to read from you. It says, "Senator Feinstein has been trying to ban guns from law-abiding citizens for decades. It's disappointing, but it's not surprising. The American people know gun bans do not work."

Well, next hour, I want to tell you, I'm going to be speaking with a sponsor of the proposed assault weapons ban, Connecticut Senator Richard Blumenthal. That's next hour.

One of the final battle lines for equal rights in the military has just been eliminated. Women are no longer banned from combat units. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta issued the order in the last 30 minutes.


LEON PANETTA, DEFENSE SECRETARY: And therefore today General Dempsey and I are pleased to announce that we are eliminating the direct ground combat exclusion rule for women and we are moving forward with a plan to eliminate all unnecessary gender-based barriers to serve.


LEMON: So eliminating this ban is going to take some time. The military now begins what officials call, quote, "the assessment phase." Each branch will examine all its jobs and units not accepting women and then produce a timeline for integration. Every three months, service leaders will have to check in on their progress. And if it's found women are not suited for a unit, an exemption may be sought. But for one combat unit in the Air Force, women are already part of the team. They have been side by side with me, fighting on the ground for more than a decade.



LEMON (voice-over): This is Tech Sergeant Andrea Jefferson's worst nightmare, patrolling a remote area of Afghanistan, taking on enemy fire and a comrade goes down.

JEFFERSON: He's bleeding right here. I want you to hold pressure on his wound.

LEMON: As an Air Force medic, Jefferson has been training for this moment for months.

JEFFERSON: Revel (ph), let's get him on a vehicle. Get him out of here.

LEMON: Within minutes, the injured airman is bandaged up and moved out of harm's way.

JEFFERSON: Here we go.

LEMON: This isn't Afghanistan, but it soon will be for Jefferson's squadron. They're at Moody Air Force Base in south Georgia.

JEFFERSON: Alpha, move.

LEMON: But in a matter of weeks, they will be on the front lines of battle in Afghanistan and they're ready.

JEFFERSON: I really felt like the warrior medic that, you know, I've seen in the movies.

LEMON: When her squadron is called out, Jefferson and the other women of her group will fight alongside the men.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The females, you know, we do everything the men do. Sometimes even better.

LEMON: They are members of the 820th Based Defense Group. From air assault, to ground combat, the group does it all. And that includes the women. They're medics, they're intelligence officers, they're police officers. Their current mission?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: To be a first end (ph) combat ready group.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Unlike the rest of the Air Force, we get to go outside the wire (ph).

COL. PAUL KASUDA, COMMANDER, 820TH BASE DEFENSE GROUP: And we have approximately 730 individuals assigned to our team. Ninety-nine of which are women. Each and every one of our mission sets across the group are open to every individual that we have assigned here, regardless of gender, regardless of race.

LEMON: Until this week, this opportunity was allowed only for the Air Force. But with Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta lifting the ban that kept women from serving in front line combat positions, all military women will be there, fighting side by side with men.

KASUDA: We have four different Air Force combat action medal recipients, three purple hearts recipients, as well as four different of our ladies have been entered into the Wounded Warrior Program. Across the board, as individuals, they all perform superbly.

JEFFERSON: It's amazing what you can do when the adrenaline's pumping. You know, you turn into superwoman and --


LEMON: And the women of the 820th have been awarded three purple hearts and four Air Force combat action medals. Make sure you join me in the next hour here in the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm going to talk with war vet Hawaii Congressman Tulsi Gabbard. She's a National Guard military police captain and she served in Iraq. That's in the next hour right here on CNN.

We have some pictures to show you now. Rare, candid photographs of President John F. Kennedy that could only come from a real insider. They are from the personal collection of the president's special assistant who was Kennedy's best friend and confidant throughout his career. And they are among hundreds of John Kennedy items to be sold to the highest bidders next month. Alina Cho is in New York.

Alina, this really is a fresh look at Camelot.

ALINA CHO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Dare I say a look that we have never seen before, Don. Really, if I had to say it, I would call it the holy grail of JFK memorabilia. Seven hundred and twenty-three lots. But really thousands of items in all. They include personal photos, letters, invitations, books, gifts from the Kennedy family.

Take a look at this. JFK's bomber jacket. That jacket, by the way, has an estimate of $20,000 to $40,000. But, undoubtedly, it will go for more. Probably a lot more. We're talking about really incredible stuff. And it coincides, this auction, with the 50th anniversary of JFK's assassination.

Now, I want to take you through some of the more interesting items. In addition to that bomber jacket that you just saw, take a look at this amazing photo. It's of JFK, Jacqueline Kennedy and Ethyl Kennedy. Look closely there. You can see Jackie Kennedy holding the camera. She actually took this photo of the three of them as they looked in a mirror. I mean they look so young.

There are also photos of JFK and Jackie celebrating his 46th birthday in May of 1963. Other photos there. That May of '63 an important date because this was just a couple of months, of course, before he was assassinated in Dallas. But just look at that, Don. Incredible, incredible items. Tons of photos, letters, signed booked, itineraries, invitations. Really incredible stuff.

LEMON: Yes, it -- yes, it is. It is. And I understand that these items come from the family of David Powers. What can you tell us about him and how these items were found after all these years.

CHO: Yes. I mean a lot of people were wondering, I mean, why now, why now? Well, David Powers, first, let's tell you about him. He was the best friend and special assistant to President Kennedy. They actually worked together from way back in the early days in 1946 until the day that Kennedy died. Powers himself died in 1998. These items were actually locked away until last year when Powers' family was getting ready to sell his home and then they stumbled upon them.

And, in fact, Don, I should tell you, one of the more interesting items that we heard about was David Powers' itinerary from the day that JFK was assassinated. It was actually typed until the moment that JFK was shot. At that point, Powers made some handwritten notes that include JFK shot, carried my president on a stretcher and the last entry on that itinerary was, president is dead.

LEMON: Wow. Fascinating. I understand, as well, Alina, a tiny little auction house outside of Boston is handling this auction. How did they score that?

CHO: Yes, you might wonder. I mean how in the world did this auction house get this. The auction house is called McInnis Auctioneers. They're located in teeny tiny Amesbury, Massachusetts. That's north of Boston. Population 16,000. Apparently David Powers' family lives nearby and that is how this auction house scored the big get instead of some of the bigger houses, like Sotheby's.

We should point out very quickly, Don, that the auction will be held on August 17th. And get your computer out because you can begin bidding online right now.


LEMON: Ah, the bidding starts. Thank you, Alina Cho. Fascinating story, as we have said. Thank you again.

You know, it is the first day of trading since Apple announced its disappointing earnings report. As the stock takes a dip, it's a tech company, is it a victim of its own success? We're going to break it down for you.

Plus, in the next 20 minutes, President Barack Obama expected to make an announcement about his inner circle and it involves more changes.


LEMON: Here's another sign that the housing market is turning around and the economy is getting better. Lowe's is hiring in a big way. You know, Lowe's, the home improvement company. The home improvement chain is looking to add 54,000 worker this spring. Most of the jobs are part-time and will only last through September. But, you know, it's still a job. But 9,000 of the workers hired this spring will become permanent employees. That's good news.

Apple stock, though, getting hammered by investors disappointed by the company's first quarter earnings report and its outlook for future growth. Alison Kosik is at the New York Stock Exchange.

So, Alison, man, we were talking about it, everything was Apple, Apple, Apple. Oh, my gosh, I've got to get my hands on this.

ALISON KOSIK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Everything was going so swimmingly, wasn't it?

LEMON: I know. Why is everyone suddenly -- I don't know, I shouldn't say everyone, but a lot of people, why have a lot of people suddenly soured on Apple?

KOSIK: So it's not a sudden transformation. It's been happening a little over time, actually since September. But, you know, you look at the report card that Apple put out yesterday after the -- after the closing bell and what it really shows is that Apple kind of cannibalized itself. You know, people out there wound up buying lower priced Apple products instead of the higher priced ones. Instead of the top of the line ones. Meaning, they bought the iPhone 4S instead of the 5. They bought the Apple -- the iPad mini instead of the higher priced one. And that means less profit for Apple.

But, come on, look, Apple still reported record profits and sold 48 million iPhones in the most recent quarter. It sold almost 23 million iPads. And not to mention the 12.6 million iPods. But its shares clearly are getting hammered. It's the old, buy low, sell high mantra going on here.

For investors, many of them, Don, they bought shares when they were lower. So what you're seeing is, is a lot of investors wanting to take a profit before those higher capital gains taxes kicked in this year. That's why you really started seeing the stock begin to sell off actually last September. But today, as for today, other investors, they're choosing to get out now because the competition, it's heating up. There are a lot of quality alternatives out there for phones and tablets. The arena's getting crowded. The heat's coming on Apple a little heavier these days.

LEMON: Yes. And it's been said that it's really about innovation here since Steve Jobs passed and Tim Cook took over. So what does this say about Tim Cook's tenure as CEO?

KOSIK: Look, you know, does he get the blame? Sure, he gets the blame. He's the CEO, so the buck stops with him. But, look, he's the same guy who oversaw the blowout debut of the iPhone 4S. He's the guy who carried the stock price to new heights. You know, it was trading over $700 back in September. It was trading around $375 a share when Cook took over. Clearly the price almost doubled in the first year. In his charge, once again, it peaked in September when the iPhone 5 came out.

But since then, the thing is, shares have tumble and there are two camps, there are two schools of thought on this. Wall Street and analysts say that they don't have the confidence that Time Cook can deliver -- that he can deliver the hippest, sexiest, blockbuster device. But shareholders, they may not want him to leave just yet. Look, this is an incredibly healthy company. It's got $137 billion in cash tucked away. One analyst says if the next four quarters show what this report showed last night, then maybe they'll need to reevaluate. But for now, they say, Cook should stay.


LEMON: All right, for now. Thank you very much, Alison Kosik. We'll check back in with you.

I need to tell you that we are just minutes away. President Obama expected -- as we look at a live picture of the White House and inside the White House, both out and inside the White House -- just moments away from an announcement about his inner circle. Will it bring more diversity? We're going to bring it to you live.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) LEMON: Some of the hottest stories in a flash. "Rapid Fire." Roll it.

This video, seriously, it's going to make your jaw drop. Look at this. You're about to see a heart-stopping close call involving a two-year- old girl. An SUV in Russia spins out of control, gets hit and in that white debris flying out is the toddler. Check out the slow motion and see how a big rig just misses her. Russian police say the girl was not in a car seat, but lying across the back seat. She was taken to a hospital with a possible head injury.

Millions of people are shivering through arctic winds and snow in the Midwest and Northeast today. And you can throw water into the air and watch it freeze in parts of North Dakota. Earlier, CNN spoke to a weather researcher living on a mountain in New Hampshire. Mountains where wind chills dipped to minus 85 degrees below zero yesterday.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The best way I've heard it described it think of yourself diving do a very, very cold pool of water. It doesn't matter how well your covered up, the air finds a way in no matter what. So you're going to feel the cold one way or another. We're constantly deicing our instruments up here. And if it warms up a bit, yes, we can do a little bit of hiking, maybe a little skiing, but not on a day like today.


LEMON: So here's the word today. The same brutal arctic cold front may bring ice and freezing rain to parts of the South and Mid-Atlantic tomorrow. So, get ready.

In Utah, rescuers brave cold temperatures and treacherous footing to reach an ice climber who fell 40 feet. That happened in Provo Canyon in a spot called "The Stairway To Heaven." Teams had to use a rigging system to get to the woman who was 350 to 400 feet up and not breathing. A helicopters took her to a hospital.


TOM AUGUSTUS, BATTALION CHIEF, PROVO FIRE DEPT.: As you can see, conditions aren't the best up there. It's fun, it's exhilarating, but it is very dangerous. We have all the right people there with all the right training, so she's in the best of hands.


LEMON: A friend of the woman was with her when she fell and was also hurt, but not seriously. He alerted rescuers.

North Korea has stepped up threats against a country it calls a sworn enemy, the United States. The country's top military body has vowed to launch more long range rockets and conduct more nuclear testing. All this, it says, is designed to target the U.S. The threat issued on state TV is seen as retaliation for the new U.S.-led sanctions condemning North Korea's rocket launch back in December. Well, talk about an odd couple. Lady Gaga announcing she and Tony Bennett are doing an album together. Yep, kruener (ph) meets woman who wears meat dresses. The two performed together at one of the inauguration balls just this week.

Now, a lesson in team nicknames, NBA style. The New Orleans Hornets expected to officially become the New Orleans Pelicans today. Seems like a good choice. Pelican is the Louisiana state bird. The perfect choice, of course, would be the Jazz. But when the previous New Orleans team left town for Utah, it took the Jazz name with it. I guess they couldn't work out a trade there.

It is a story that gets more bizarre by the hour. Manti Te'o and his fake girlfriend. What is going on? I'm talking about -- I'm about to play you everything he has said up until this point, and it may just surprise you.


LEMON: All right, I have to tell you about an admission today in the saga involving Notre Dame football star Manti Te'o, who is desperately seeking to clear his image. In an interview with ABC, Te'o admits that he briefly lied to the media last month after he found out on December 6th that the woman he believed to be his girlfriend, well, he said it was all a hoax. Well, two days later, he mentioned the girlfriend again. That's just one part and one answer to a story that has left so many questions. CNN's Deborah Feyerick has more now.


DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For Manti Te'o, every game, every victory led to this -- January's national championships shaped and inspired in many ways by the personal tragedy months earlier of the 21-year-old college football hero.

MANTI TE'O, NOTRE DAME LINEBACKER: You know, when I lost my girlfriend and my grandmother, that was -- that was possibly the hardest time in my life.

FEYERICK: The day was September 11, 2012. Te'o learned his beloved grandmother had died. Hours later, another call. This one, that his girlfriend, who had apparently told him that summer she'd been in a car accident and been diagnosed with cancer, she had also died. His coach at Notre Dame shared the story with the media.

TE'O: You know, the love of my life. The last thing she said to me was, "I love you."

FEYERICK: Te'o dedicated the season to them both. He honored his girlfriends wishes, sending white roses and skipping the funeral to play football as he'd promised. Everyone, fans, coaches, opposing teams rallied around the Hawaiian native.

TE'O: And to see a whole stadium, both Notre Dame and Michigan fans wear leis, you know, that's when I just looked up and said, my Father, you're the man. FEYERICK: The relationship began on FaceBook. In an off camera interview with ESPN, Te'o says he met Lennay Kekua online the winter of his freshman year. He says she knew a lot about me already. Te'o telling ESPN his girlfriend said she was a Stanford graduate, one of five siblings running the family's construction business because her dad had died. Te'o says they tried to meet several times but something always came up.

Te'o first face-to-face contact came with this man after his girlfriend's death. Ronaiah Tuiasosopo claimed to be her cousin. He had gone to high school with the girl in the photo. The girl Te'o had fallen in love with. A girl, who in reality, is Diana O'Meara.

DIANA O'MEARA: Contacted me through multiple messages, on FaceBook, relaying that him and his cousin had been in a traumatic car accident.


FEYERICK: So that woman -- that is the woman, Don, that Te'o thought was his girlfriend and then learned otherwise. The timeline breaks down as this. December 6th, he is told that, in fact, his girlfriend is still alive. That this was all a bad hoax. He's then told on December 8th, that's when the Heisman trophy awards happens, and he thanks the girlfriend. He's still processing the information. He tells his coaches that, in fact, the girlfriend never existed. They investigate, but they don't say anything until the national championships. That game happens and soon after the story breaks.

And what's so interesting about this is, Katie Couric presses him in an interview that's going to be coming up and she says, why did you keep it going? Take a listen.


TE'O: This girl, who I committed myself to, died on September 12th. Now I get a phone call on December 6th saying that she's alive. And then I'm going (ph) to be put on national TV two days later and to ask me about (ph) the same question. You know, what would you do?


FEYERICK: You know, this doesn't raise the level of what did you know and when did you know it, but he does raise a valid point. The question is, what would you do? What would you do if all of a sudden you find out that your girlfriend is still alive two days before this big ceremony? So there's a lot more that's coming up. There's even a voice mail recording basically that the alleged girlfriend left for Te'o and in it she says, you know, I love you. And so he really fell in love with this phantom. This sort of person who was there online and over the phone, but never in reality.


LEMON: Goodness gracious, I am still confused, Deb. My goodness. Thank you very much. I appreciate your reporting on that. Any minute now President Barack Obama expected to make an announcement about his inner circle, and yet another change. We're going to bring that to you live.

But first I want to tell you this. It's a moment for you. April, 1971. Vietnam vet John Kerry, 27 years old, testified as an anti-war leader before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Well, today, it's 41 years later, John Kerry, a senator now himself, appeared before that same committee as a president's nominee for secretary of state.

And how about this? It's Kerry's committee. He chairs it, at least for the time being until his expected confirmation as Hillary Clinton's successor. We'll bring in Wolf Blitzer from Washington now.

Wolf, as we wait on this, let's -- this is -- this is one of those moments where you say to yourself, my how things have changed in the world and in Washington.