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THE SITUATION ROOM

Te'o Speaks Out; New Gun Control Proposal

Aired January 24, 2013 - 18:00   ET

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


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now: A senator who experienced a horror of bullets and blood launches a new fight to ban military-style weapons.

Notre Dame football star Manti Te'o says his girlfriend may have been a phony, but his emotions were real -- the revealing interview. We're learning that pro-football players also have been duped by a woman pretending to be someone else. A newly reelected congresswoman quits, sparking outrage about special interests and big money. And we will take you inside the investigation of the Dreamliner. Boeing's new plane has even more problems.

I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

These are the faces that advocates of the new assault weapons ban want us all to remember, the 26 children and teachers gunned down at the Sandy Hook Elementary School almost six weeks ago. And these are the guns they want to get off the streets. The legislation unveiled today marks the first major test of whether the Newtown, Connecticut, massacre was indeed a turning point in the national debate over gun control.

Let's bring in our chief congressional correspondent, Dana Bash.

Dana, one senator in particular is on a personal mission to get this measure passed.

DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right. Of all of the gun control items that President Obama proposed last month, earlier this month, I should say, this is going to be the toughest to pass through Congress, reviving the assault weapons ban, which expired about a decade ago, almost. But it is because this particular senator is on a personal mission, based on a tragedy that happened four decades ago.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BASH (voice-over): For Dianne Feinstein, it's personal.

SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D), CALIFORNIA: I became mayor as a product of assassination.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Both Mayor Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk have been shot and killed.

BASH: The death of her colleagues, including Harvey Milk, the first openly gay public official in America, was so traumatic, she rarely discusses it.

(on camera): You are somebody who very close to a shooting.

(voice-over): But here at the launch of her push to renew the assault weapons ban, she answered in graphic detail.

FEINSTEIN: I was the one that found Supervisor Milk's body and I was that put a finger in a bullet hole trying to get a pulse. Once you have been through one of these episodes, one you see what the crime scene is like, it isn't like the movies. It changes your view of weapons.

BASH: She put on an elaborate event, even getting special permission from D.C. and Capitol Police to display 10 different types of assault weapons, including an AR-15, the kind of rifle the shooter used to murder children in Newtown.

SEN. CHARLES SCHUMER (D), NEW YORK: Assault weapons were designed for and should be used on our battlefields, not on our streets.

BASH: The proposed legislation would prohibit the sale, manufacture, transfer and importation of more than 150 assault-style weapons and ban large-capacity magazines with more than 10 rounds of ammunition. But to appeal to gun owners, it excludes or keeps legal most handguns and 2,200 hunting and sporting rifles.

CHARLES RAMSEY, PHILADELPHIA POLICE CHIEF: How are you going to go hunting with something like that? You like something, there's nothing left to eat.

BASH: Also here, family members and victims of gun massacres across the country. Lily Habtu was shot in German class at Virginia Tech.

LILY HABTU, SHOOTING VICTIM: I had a bullet still in my head. I was shot in the jaw. It's one inch -- it's one millimeter away from my brain stem.

BASH: Still, Feinstein is realistic about the slim chance this assault weapons ban has of passing.

FEINSTEIN: If anyone asks today, can you win this, the answer is, we don't know. It's so uphill.

BASH: But pushing gun control is now a White House campaign- style effort and Vice President Joe Biden held a social media town hall, a Google hangout to rally support.

JOSEPH BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Make your voices heard. This outfit, this town listens when people rise up and speak.

BASH: The White House and Feinstein know their biggest hurdle is convincing skeptical fellow Democrats from gun right states to support gun control. FEINSTEIN: The message to Democrats is, see what your silence does? There will be more of these.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BASH: And that is such an important point to underscore, Wolf, that a big part of the problem for Dianne Feinstein and other sponsors is their fellow Democrats.

At least half a dozen, maybe more, have told us that they just don't see themselves supporting it, because of the opposition in their states, and from the NRA. In fact, the NRA released a statement today, saying Feinstein is -- quote -- "once again focused on curtailing the Constitution instead of protecting criminals or fixing the broken mental health system." And it went on to say that they're confident that Congress will reject Senator Feinstein's wrongheaded approach.

BLITZER: An uphill fight for Dianne Feinstein. Thanks very much, Dana, for that.

Kate Bolduan is joining us now with a little bit more on a story that has a lot of people out there -- I guess they're so interested in what is going on. We have some new information.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: New information and a very interesting day in this convoluted tale, as Heisman Trophy runner-up Manti Te'o is trying to explain to the world really how he fell in love with woman who doesn't exist and why he lied about it after learning he was the victim of a hoax.

Te'o's first extended interview about the scam just aired with Katie Couric.

And CNN's George Howell is joining us live with the details.

He was very emotional at times, George.

GEORGE HOWELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Kate, it was an interesting interview.

At first, he insisted that he did not lie about it. Then he backed off that a bit and admitted that he did, kind of, sort of. But throughout the interview with Katie Couric, he insisted that he really believed that his girlfriend was real, that is, until he realized that he had been duped. Then he didn't know what to say about it.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

HOWELL (voice-over): In his first televised interview since the scandal broke, Notre Dame star linebacker Manti Te'o spoke to Katie Couric about the online girlfriend he'd never met face to face, a woman we now know never existed.

KATIE COURIC, ABC NEWS: Manti, did you have any involvement in creating this scam? MANTI TE'O, NOTRE DAME FOOTBALL PLAYER: No. I did not. For people feeling that they're misled, that, I'm sorry for. But I wasn't as forthcoming about it, but I didn't lie. You know, I never was asked, did you see her in person?

HOWELL: Te'o said he had every reason to think that Lennay Kekua was a real person. In September, he got a phone call telling him she died of cancer. Then, in December, two days before Te'o attended the Heisman Trophy ceremony, the story changed.

TE'O: I got the call on December 6 saying that she was alive. And from December 6 to January 16, my whole reality was that she was dead and all of a sudden she is alive. At that time, I didn't know that it was just somebody's prank.

COURIC: At the Heisman Trophy ceremony, you were interviewed, and you repeated the story that your girlfriend had, in fact, died of cancer. That's a lie. Why would you say that?

TE'O: At that time, I didn't know, to be honest with you. Like, I did not know.

HOWELL: Te'o admitted he briefly lied to the press, keeping with the narrative that his girlfriend had died within hours of his grandmother's death. Couric asked for proof of an intimate relationship and Te'o provided hundreds of hours of phone records, even voice-mail.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But I just wanted to say I love you and good night, and I will be OK tonight. I will do my best. Yes, so get your rest and I will talk to you tomorrow. I love you so much, hun. Sweet dreams.

COURIC: You have no idea who the voice on the other end of the phone was? Do you think that might have been a man on the other end of the phone?

TE'O: Well, it didn't sound like a man. It sounded like a woman. But if -- but if he somehow made that voice, that's incredible.

HOWELL: The sports blog Deadspin.com uncovered the scam, revealing that the identity of Lennay Kekua was entirely made up. It was actually the identity of Diane O'Meara, a 23-year-old marketing executive who'd never met Te'o.

COURIC: You reached to a number of people who confirmed, basically, yes, she's a real person, right?

TE'O: Yes. And so that was my way of saying, OK, she's real, they have met her, they have seen her. So this girl who was in the pictures and this girl I'm talking to must be the same.

HOWELL: Both Te'o and O'Meara apparently knew this man, Ronaiah Tuiasosopo. O'Meara even offered pictures, but didn't realize they were being used for a false identity. Te'o says that Tuiasosopo called him to admit his part in the hoax. Tuiasosopo has not made a public statement since it all began.

COURIC: What would you say to this person you claim was responsible, Ronaiah? What would you say if you could meet him again, face to face?

TE'O: I would just say, you hurt me. And you hurt me only because you involved my family. But after that, I would say, draw nearer to your family, because that's exactly what I did.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HOWELL: So throughout this interview, Te'o admitted that there were signs. For instance, when he would try to see his girlfriend, she wasn't available. When they would try to Skype, he couldn't see her, but she could see him.

So, you know, the questions, was he duped? Was he part of the hoax? He insists that he wasn't. Or was this a situation where he wanted to believe something so badly that he would frankly believe anything? Kate, these are the questions that a lot of people are asking after watching that interview.

BOLDUAN: They sure are. And even his father said, he's just a kid. That poor kid. That's for sure. George Howell, thank you so much, George. What a wild story, Wolf.

BLITZER: Yes. Of course, athletes aren't the only ones at risk of being scammed. If you're looking for love online, you may, repeat, may be vulnerable.

CNN's Deborah Feyerick has that part of the story.

Deb, explain what's going on here.

DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, Wolf, a lot of people out there have their hearts broken when they realize they're having a relationship with phantom, a fraud, a phony, someone who never really existed in the first place.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

FEYERICK (voice-over): As crazy as it sounds, what apparently happened to Notre Dame football player Manti Te'o happens every day.

DAWN RICCI, PRIVATE INVESTIGATOR: Doctors, lawyers, law enforcement. I mean people who are really smart.

FEYERICK: Private investigator Dawn Ricci says she's spoken to hundreds of men and women who get caught after falling deeply in love online.

(on camera): What is it they are hoping for?

RICCI: Everybody just wants to feel needed and loved and find that romance, the wonder, the excitement of it all. The scammer just knows how to pull them into it. FEYERICK: it's called catfishing, a term popularized by the 2010 film called "Catfish" about a man who has an online love affair with the ideal woman who turns out not to exist.

It's a scam built on trust. One e-mail, one text, one phone call at a time over months or in Manti Te'o's case, perhaps years.

RICCI: He fell in love with a fictional character. I mean just a thought and a fantasy in his head.

FEYERICK: Ricci believes Te'o is like many of her clients, the target of a cruel hoax.

RICCI: The bottom line is, that there is money. They'll always ask for money.

FEYERICK: Ricci says she's had clients send tens of thousands of dollars to pay outstanding bills or buy expensive gifts like airline ticket and jewelry and in one case a new BMW. Te'o told ESPN he never gave money to a so-called girlfriend though admits she wanted to him money and asked for his checking account number. He says he refused to give it.

RICCI: It's very hard for people to accept the fact that this person doesn't exist. Nothing is going to match up. Phone numbers aren't going to match up. Addresses aren't going to match. I mean you can send me to an address and it's not going to be the person.

FEYERICK: In most cases, once the money dries up, the scammer disappears. In Manti Te'o's case, his girlfriend faked her death.

RICCI: My clients are truly embarrassed of what has happened to them in their life. They don't want to talk to their friends, their family, they've depleted their bank account. They feel completely humiliated.

FEYERICK: Humiliated and left facing questions. How could it happen in the first place?

(END VIDEOTAPE)

FEYERICK: And, you know, it happens pretty easily. Scammers will search dating Web sites, which are hugely popular, but there's also Facebook and Twitter or social media sites that give strangers access to you.

This is a con and the person on the other end becomes the person you need, your ideal, and it may mean stealing somebody else's photo, somebody else's life. But face-to-face meetings, those are not going to happen. And as the private eye says, it's not really a date if you can't touch them or see them.

And, by the way, Te'o tried Skyping this girl so he could see her face to face. Guess what? She claimed her Skype was broken -- Kate, Wolf.

BLITZER: The important news, the important information is, just be really, really careful out there. That's what you have got to be.

FEYERICK: Absolutely, because they know how to make a profile that will be so attractive that you can't even resist them.

BLITZER: Deborah Feyerick, thanks very much.

BOLDUAN: Still ahead: the desperate scramble to escape Syria's civil war. Members of Bashar al-Assad's own family on the run.

Plus, one of America's most successful companies isn't worth what it used to be. Apple's plunging stock -- ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: The slaughter in Syria continues, even as the Syrian's strongman, Bashar al-Assad, seen in public today, celebrating the birthday of the Prophet Mohammed, while he clings to power and more blood is spilt all across Syria. We have new information about the fate of his own family.

CNN's Ivan Watson is joining us now from the Turkey/Syria border.

Ivan, you have had some exclusive opportunities today to speak with the U.S. ambassador to Syria. He's obviously no longer in Damascus. What did he tell you?

IVAN WATSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, he answered a riddle that a lot of us have wondered about, the whereabouts of the former spokesman for the Syrian Foreign Ministry, Jihad Makdissi, who disappeared weeks ago.

And Ambassador Robert Ford said he's in fact now in the U.S., not cooperating with the U.S. government, but actually a refugee there. So one of the spokesmen for the regime has fled to the U.S., according to the U.S. ambassador to Syria. And Ambassador Ford also gave us some tantalizing glimpses about the family of the embattled Syrian president, himself, his mother, Anisa.

Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WATSON: What is this news about the president's mother has left the country?

ROBERT FORD, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO SYRIA: Yes. Yes.

WATSON: When did that happen?

FORD: I'm not watching her passport, Ivan. I don't know when she got there. But I know that's where she is now.

WATSON: In Dubai?

FORD: Yes.

(CROSSTALK)

FORD: You know what? I should say United Arab Emirates. I think she's in Dubai. I can't swear that she's not in Abu Dhabi.

WATSON: What does that tell us about the cohesion of the Syrian government right now?

FORD: Well, as the pressure builds, they, themselves know that they are losing.

When Lakhdar Brahimi met Bashar al-Assad the last time in December in his office, he told us that you could hear artillery outside the president's office. I mean, the fighting is getting that close now to the inner circle itself. And so you can imagine what that does to their own spirits, their own morale.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WATSON: Now, Wolf, this is a fight that is still dragging on, more than 100 people being killed a day. The Syrian army is losing ground, but at the rate it's going, tens of thousands more people could be killed before he has to truly evacuate his palace -- Wolf.

BLITZER: You have also been talking, Ivan, to Syrian refugees, who say they're very frustrated right now with the United States. How come?

WATSON: Well, the answer you get from refugees outside the country, from Syrians we have talked to over past week inside Syria, they're saying, where is the U.S. help? If the U.S. doesn't want to provide weapons to overthrow Bashar al-Assad, where is the humanitarian assistance?

And Ambassador Ford got an earful today, Wolf, from refugees in a refugee camp he visited here in Turkey. We watched him, and some of them arguing, Wolf, if the U.S. isn't helping overthrow Bashar al- Assad, then that must mean they want him to stay. He heard that from them. Take a listen to an excerpt from our interview.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WATSON: Do you think the U.S. government could have been done more?

FORD: I think the Syrians, as I said, are the ones who will bring the answer to the problem, just as in Iraq, Iraqis brought the solution to the Iraq crisis, to the Iraq war.

The Americans can help, and we helped in Iraq, but ultimately, it wasn't the Americans, despite our help. It was Iraqis. In Syria, again, it has to be Syrians who find their way forward.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WATSON: Now, Wolf, the U.S. has already pledged $210 million in assistance to the 2.6 million Syrians who have been displaced by the conflict. But it's clearly not enough. There's going to be a donors conference in Kuwait that Ambassador Ford will be attending to try to attract some more money to it.

This problem is enormous and it continues to grow, and sadly, it's not new. There's clearly not enough help for these desperate people fleeing this conflict -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Ivan Watson on the scene for us along the border with Syria in Turkey. Thank you.

BOLDUAN: So many people, you, me, so many people have iPhones and Macs and iPads, so the real question here, why is the price of Apple stock plunging? Find out ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWS BREAK)

BLITZER: All the time and effort to get reelected, now this. We have an estimate on what it cost taxpayers for a United States congresswoman to call it quits. That's only one reason her decision is sparking outrage.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: It's not a secret here in Washington. There's a revolving door between Congress and the lobbying world, and that's raising all sorts of ethical questions once again.

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: And it always has. One congresswoman's decision to quit right after her reelection is putting a very bright light on the halls of power and the influence of special interests and big money.

Here's Drew Griffin of CNN's Investigative Unit.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DREW GRIFFIN, CNN INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): She may be the perfect example of what Washington critics call the revolving door syndrome.

(on camera): Congresswoman? Congresswoman Emerson, it's Drew Griffin with CNN.

(voice-over): Which could explain why all we got from Congresswoman Jo Ann Emerson was the slam-door treatment.

The Southeast Missouri Republican is quitting Congress, not because she lost. In fact, she just won her last election to her 10th term by a landslide. She's quitting because she landed a job back in what you might call the real family business, the politics of influencing Congress.

Follow the lineage. In the '70s, Jo Ann Emerson, a Washington, D.C., native, married a lobbyist named Bill Emerson. When lobbyist Bill Emerson went on to become congressman from Missouri, Jo Ann went on to become a lobbyist for the restaurant industry. When he died of cancer in 1996, she took his seat, and she's served nine terms since then.

And while the combined Emersons were spending 32 years in the Congress, they were raising two daughters, both of whom who are now registered lobbyists. Now Congresswoman Emerson goes back to a trade association directing a team of lobbyists.

KATHY KIELY, SUNLIGHT FOUNDATION: It's the personification of the revolving door.

GRIFFIN: Kathy Kiely will the Sunlight Foundation says it's a revolving door of lobbyists and politicians and staff members and big payoff jobs that erode Americans' faith in a system that seems to be driven by special-interest access and money.

KIELY: When people have the impression that those special interests are dominating Washington and the way things work here, it reduces people's faith in their government. And it probably should.

GRIFFIN: Technically speaking, Jo Ann Emerson is not becoming a lobbyist, at least not yet. She has been named the new CEO of the National Rural Electorate Cooperative Association. She will direct a group that has a staff of lobbyists, that spent $3.5 million handing out campaign contributions in the last election, and has spent many more millions lobbying Congress.

Her predecessor was paid $1.6 million a year. That predecessor, a former congressman himself, and a registered lobbyist, Glenn English.

(on camera): So this organization must value your participation in Congress more than your CEO experience, when you came in, and that's the same thing with her.

GLENN ENGLISH, CEO, NATIONAL RURAL ELECTORATE COOPERATIVE: Oh, I think so. I think that's probably true. I think that the membership recognizes out there that one of the very important functions of this organization, of course, is making sure that we're well represented within Congress.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): Jo Ann Emerson is one of five members of Congress leaving office in 2013 to become part of the lobbying/influence community in D.C. One of them, North Carolina's Heath Shuler, was asked about that back in December.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you planning to become a lobbyist?

HEATH SHULER, FORMER CONGRESSMAN: No.

GRIFFIN: Despite that assertion, he's taken a job as senior vice president of federal affairs for Duke Energy.

(on camera): Technically, this freshman crop of brand-new lobbyists won't be able to lobby Congress officially for two years, which is, in the bizarre world of loophole Washington, making them all the more valuable.

KIELY: They're still in the influence business, but they're not registered lobbyists, which, in fact, enhances their influence.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): In fact, official registered lobbyists are so concerned about all these unregistered influencers, that the American League of Lobbyists wants to impose new rules, especially aimed at former members of Congress, who can still use the congressional gym, walk onto the House floor, or use all their past contacts to, well, influence.

So what does the congresswoman have to say about all of this? That's what brings us back to the halls of the Raeburn Congressional Office Building. The congresswoman had agreed to talk to us in Washington Monday at 5 p.m. Then a few days later, she backed out. Her aide telling us the congresswoman just didn't think it was such a good idea.

(on camera): Leaving us to have to come to Washington, to the halls of Congress, to play the bad guy, staking out Congresswoman Jo Ann Emerson, just to try to get a comment.

(voice-over): And about 5 p.m. Monday, there she was, emerging from an elevator.

(on camera): Congresswoman. Congresswoman Emerson, it's Drew Griffin with CNN. Can you give us five minutes, Congresswoman? Congresswoman Emerson?

(voice-over): And there she went into her soon-to-be vacated office. So we waited.

(on camera): Can you tell us why you're leaving Congress? Can you tell us why, after you won an election pretty well, why would you leave Congress to take basically a lobbying job? Congresswoman?

(voice-over): Back in Missouri, the state now must hold a special election to fill the seat Jo Ann Emerson is walking away from. That will cost taxpayers nearly $1 million.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: And Drew is joining us right now. Drew, you've been talking with the governor's office in Missouri. Will Jo Ann Emerson have to, at least, pay the state of Missouri the $1 million it will take to have to hold a special election?

GRIFFIN: Not unless she sends it in a gift. We don't see anything that says that she has to pay or reimburse the stake. It said $952,000 to hold that election. It may go higher than that. It covers 30 counties. The governor actually because he wants to make sure the military overseas can vote, Wolf, he had to set the election for June 4, so this district in Missouri is going to be without representation in Congress for the next six months. BOLDUAN: And, Drew, you know, there's nothing illegal about what she did, which is why this is so interesting and always is. But why -- are you getting any information of why the congresswoman didn't quit before the election, if she knew she was leaving?

GRIFFIN: If she knew, Kate, and that is the big question, she filed records with the House committee on this nine days after the election to tell them she's negotiating or in negotiations for this job.

We've been trying to ask her how long has she known she's been a candidate for this job? She won't answer any of those questions. Obviously, did she know beforehand?

An aide said, look, this opportunity just popped up. That's really a stretch for me to believe, given that this is such a high- paying, high-profile job, to a group who's been one of her biggest donors.

BLITZER: When you say high-paying, it certainly is a lot more than she makes as a United States congresswoman. And I understand she's no longer a congresswoman, but do you know how much she's going to be making?

GRIFFIN: No. You're right on both counts. She resigned Tuesday night as of midnight. She was going to be paid, as a congresswoman, $174,000. We don't know exactly what she's going to make, Wolf, but her predecessor, the congressman she is replacing, made $1.6 million. So, roughly ten times what a congresswoman would have made, had she fulfilled her duty and -- and stayed in Congress.

BLITZER: And as you say, you've been trying all these days to get at least some comment from her or her office. Nothing yet, right?

GRIFFIN: Nothing at all. We even agreed to go to Missouri at one point, because she said she was there. She told us, "No, just meet us in Washington. We'll have time for you in Washington." Well, we got the time of day in Washington.

BLITZER: Drew, thanks very much for that report. Drew Griffin reporting.

A groundbreaking moment for women in the United States military. Who will soon be fighting on the front lines in combat? Can they meet the standard? Stand by.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BOLDUAN: President Obama says the American military is growing even stronger with the new decision to allow women to serve in direct combat roles.

BLITZER: And the official announcement was made at the Pentagon today. It opens new doors to women in uniform, if -- if -- they can physically do the job.

Let's bring in our Pentagon correspondent, Chris Lawrence. They made it official today, Chris.

CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, exactly, Wolf. And you can pretty much forget about privacy issues, where troops sleep or go to the bathroom. Sources tell me, the biggest obstacles to putting women in artillery, armor, and infantry positions are strength and stamina.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

LAWRENCE (voice-over): With a stroke of his pen, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta altered the look of the American sword.

LEON PANETTA, DEFENSE SECRETARY: Not everyone is going to be able to be a combat soldier. But everyone is entitled to a chance.

LAWRENCE: Panetta officially opened well over 200,000 combat jobs to women. Now the question is, can they physically qualify?

SGT. JENNIFER HUNT, U.S. ARMY: I think that it's already been proven.

LAWRENCE: Sergeant Jennifer Hunt was attached to an infantry battalion in Afghanistan. She still remembers the six-mile runs in full gear.

HUNT: I just found that physically taxing, to you know, have that pack on my back, but I still was able to, you know, make the requirement of, you know, of going that six miles.

LAWRENCE: A number of NATO countries permit women in combat, like Canada, France, Germany, and Australia. The British do not.

The secretary's action technically opens all jobs, but the services can still apply for specific exemptions, if women are not able to meet certain physical standards.

GEN. ROBERT CONE, U.S. ARMY: The concern I get when I talk to soldiers is really about lowering standards, saying that we have people on our team that can't carry their share of the weight.

LAWRENCE: In the military, they mean that literally. Some soldiers are loaded down with armored plates, packs, boots, and equipment, and they're hauling around more than 100 pounds. Tank loaders have to lift a 40- to 50-pound shell out of a confined space, spin it around, and push it into the breach.

A senior defense official says that standard cannot be lowered. Officials have identified specific physical requirements for each combat job. Next, they'll turn that information over to scientists who can build physical tests to measure if a man or woman is fit for the front lines.

CONE: At recruiting stations, you can't say, "Here, lift a 54- pound ammo shell and put it in a tank."

(END VIDEOTAPE) LAWRENCE: Yes, not in a recruiting office, at least. For example, next summer, 400 male Marines and 400 female Marines will go out and perform various physical tasks relating to specific combat jobs. The Marines are then going to use that information and those results to come up with sort of a fitness standard.

But if no women or even very few can do those tasks, then the Marines have to, quote, go back to the drawing board -- Wolf, Kate.

BOLDUAN: And Chris, on the question of the Marine Corps, the Marine Corps has been the most reluctant, if you will, to kind of go along with this. But they're on board now, yes?

LAWRENCE: They are to the extent that the base requirements are not going to change. You know, the senior Marine Corps official was saying, "Look, if you want to be a tanker, you've got to be able to lift that 50-pound shell in very tight quarters, spin it around, put it into the breach. That is the basic function of a tanker. That can't change. So if you're going to be a tanker, you've got to be able to do that."

Now, he says, you know, for certain other jobs, do you need to be able to run "x" number of miles in exactly this many minutes and seconds? There may be some leeway there.

BLITZER: Chris Lawrence, history unfolding at the U.S. Department of Defense. Appreciate it very much.

LAWRENCE: Yes.

BOLDUAN: Thanks, Chris.

BLITZER: You may never know who would be vulnerable to being duped online. We're going to tell you how players on the Washington Redskins were targeted.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BOLDUAN: Manti Te'o's father broke down on TV, saying his son isn't a liar; he's just a kid who believed his online girlfriend was real, until they finally learned it was all clearly a hoax.

BLITZER: As Te'o and his family open up, we're learning his strange story is more common than you might think. Brian Todd has been investigating for us, and you're finding some -- some interesting new information.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf and Kate. It's common enough that several members of an NFL team fell for a similar scam. According to a new report, a woman led several Washington Redskins players to believe she was someone she was not. She tailored her communications with them, and even led them to try to arrange meetings with her.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) TODD (voice-over): It was about the same time Manti Te'o claims he first learned his online girlfriend was phony, an indication that other high-profile football players had been Te'o'd. A memo went up in the locker room of the Washington Redskins in December. The gist of it was, "Stay away from @RedRidnHOOd. Avoid her on Twitter. Avoid her on Instagram. Do not converse with this person on any social media program. She is not who she claims to be."

That's according to an article on NFL.com, the league's official Web site, which says the memo was posted by Phillip Daniels, a former Redskins defensive end who's now the team's director of player development.

(on camera): The Redskins said Phillip Daniels was not available to speak to us, and the family wouldn't put anyone out to talk to us about the players' interactions with the woman on social media.

But Daniels told NFL.com that on multiple occasions, several Redskins players tried to arrange meetings with the woman, who the report says went by the pseudonym, Sidney Ackerman.

(voice-over): She not only wasn't Sidney Ackerman, the report says. She also wasn't C.J. Miles, the Internet adult entertainment star whose social media pictures, the NFL investigation found, were ripped off and used in correspondence with the players.

There's an unverified Twitter feed registered to C.J. Miles, with pictures of a similar-looking woman. The tweets there warn fans that an imposter has used her photos and say she feels sorry for the players who fell for the hoax.

The NFL.com report says none of the players were successful in arranging meetings with the woman who sent the tweets, and that raised suspicions with the Redskins. NFL.com sources say the woman is a Redskins fan, didn't ask the players for money or perks, and didn't threaten them.

But former Redskins tight end, Rick "Doc" Walker, now a radio analyst, says the communications were fraught with risk.

RICK "DOC" WALKER, FORMER REDSKINS TIGHT END: Yes, it's not the smartest thing to do, but you do some things when you're young that aren't real bright. You look back on it as you grow up. But the whole Internet deal is odd to me. The Manti Te'o thing is ridiculous.

TODD (on camera): And the players have women coming at them from all directions anyway, right?

WALKER: Well, I would assume. I don't know. It's not my world, but I know a lot of guys who are very popular. And I would say anybody that believes that pros are chasing ghosts is a damned fool.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

TODD: So who is the woman who sent the players those tweets? The NFL.com reporter said they were unable to verify that woman's identity. A league spokesman had no comment on the report, even though it was done by the league's Web site. The woman's Twitter and Facebook accounts have since been deactivated, and we have tried to reach that Internet adult entertainment star C.J. Miles in e-mails. We have not heard back, Wolf and Kate.

BOLDUAN: So is the NFL or any of these players looking to take any legal action against this person?

TODD: We asked about that. The NFL will not comment on this. The reporter from the NFL.com has told us that, according to his understanding, that the players and the league are not inclined to want to do that right now.

Our legal contributor, Paul Callan, says that it's very hard to go after people criminally for this kind of thing. Unless you're defrauded monetarily, via some kind of hoax like this. You can sue people civilly for pain and suffering and things like that, but you have to figure out who they are, first. Very hard to do. So right now, at least, the league and the players not inclined to go after them.

BLITZER: Be very careful who you're communicating with online.

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: Brian, thanks very much.

Let's get back to Manti Te'o for a moment. Erin Burnett is also going "OUTFRONT" on this story tonight with a man who knows Te'o better than most. Erin, tell us what you have.

ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Well, we have the coach, Wolf, who actually recruited Manti Te'o to come to Notre Dame. He spent a lot of time with him, met him about 18 times. We're going to talk to him about whether he believes Manti Te'o and what kind of a person he is.

We'll also be playing, when Katie Couric asked Manti Te'o, are you gay, how he answered that question and what he was really saying.

Plus, we're going to talk about something, Wolf, I find pretty amazing. You know how Silicon Valley is often perceived as very liberal and very Democratic. For example, Google, you know, had that town hall for President Obama; about 97 percent of money Google gave went to President Obama. Well, one very big executive in Silicon Valley is getting in bed with a Republican likely for 2016. I'm talking about Mark Zuckerberg. And we've got that story.

Back to you.

BLITZER: We'll see you at top of the hour and thank you.

BOLDUAN: A top executive with United Airlines says he's confident passengers will want to fly the new Dreamliner jet once it's allowed back in the air. CNN's Sandra Endo is here, and she went behind the scenes of the investigation into this grounded aircraft and its problems, I guess we should say now.

Sandra, what'd you find?

SANDRA ENDO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. There are still a lot of problems, Kate. The NTSB is relaying on tools used in medicine and crime investigations, and we got an inside look at the laboratory, where cameras, microscopes, and CAT scans are examining the damaged battery of Boeing's prized Dreamliner.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is one of the cell cases.

ENDO (voice-over): Piece by piece, inside this NTSB lab in Washington, analysts are dissecting the charred battery which caught on fire in a Boeing 787 Dreamliner earlier this month in Boston.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We know that the lithium ion battery experienced a thermal runaway. We know that there were short circuits, and we know that there was a fire.

ENDO: The FAA gave special permission to Boeing, allowing the use of these lightweight batteries, only if safety measures were installed to prevent overheating.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We do not expect to see fire events on board aircrafts. There are multiple systems to protect against a battery event like this. Those systems did not work as intended. We need to understand why.

ENDO: The investigation was launched after two 787s this month experienced issues surrounding the jet's unique use of lithium ion batteries.

First, a battery behind the wings of a Japan Airline 787 exploded, and caught fire, while on the ground in Boston. Initial tests rule out excess voltage and overcharging.

Another battery problem, this one near the cockpit of a Nippon Airways Dreamliner led to smoke in the cabin, while in the air over Japan, forcing an emergency landing. Excess voltage has also been ruled out, and for now, it doesn't look like overcharging was an issue.

The NTSB is looking for defects or contamination in the battery, but said the problem could be elsewhere.

United Airlines is the only U.S. carrier with six Dreamliners in its fleet. The COO said, "Al new aircraft types have problems, and the 787 is no different. Customers will flock back to that airplane once we're able to get it back up again."

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ENDO: Boeing, which manufactures the Dreamliner, issued a statement this evening, saying it is confident and welcomes the NTSB's progress in this investigation, and it has hundreds of engineers and technical experts working around the clock to resolve the issue. But the NTSB had no timetable as to how long this investigation will take.

So, for now, all Dreamliners will remain grounded, and that includes any test flights -- Wolf and Kate.

BOLDUAN: All right. Sandra Endo, thank you.

I mean, these are huge airplanes.

BLITZER: Yes.

BOLDUAN: It affects a lot of passengers, as well.

BLITZER: We'll stay on top of this story. That could be very, very important.

BOLDUAN: Yes.

BLITZER: Up next, Jeanne Moos has a new way to keep your pets, big pets, warm. And it will have you doing a double take.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: All right. So we know all ponies have coats.

BOLDUAN: That is true. But leave it to CNN's Jeanne Moos to find some that actually have sweaters, too.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Fasten your cardigans, prepare to say, "Aww." These Shetland ponies really know how to fill out a sweater.

(on camera): Now, were these the biggest sweaters you've ever knitted?

DOREEN BROWN, KNITTER: Oh, yes, indeed. Yes.

MOOS (voice-over): Their names are Fivla and Vitamin, or as the Scottish say...

JO TONKINSON, PONY OWNER: Vit-amin.

MOOS: They are the new poster ponies for Scotland's tourist organization, and instantly the world has gone gaga over them.

TONKINSON: We got a phone call saying, "Would your ponies wear jumpers?" And I said, I don't see why not.

MOOS: The owner sent their measurements to Doreen Brown, known for her Shetland wool knitwear, but pony dimensions are different.

BROWN: You had to work out where his legs came and then, of course, he had a wide neck compared to a human being. MOOS: So how do you get a cardigan on a pony?

TONKINSON: It was just a case of putting one foot in, put the other foot in, button it up.

MOOS: Most of the buttoning was done lying on the ground, which was only possible because 17-year-old Fivla and Vitamin are so calm.

(on camera): No accidents, right?

TONKINSON: No, no, no.

MOOS (voice-over): Scottish tourism officials wanted to combine their two most famous exports, Shetland ponies and Shetland knitwear. Though in the case of these pony sweaters...

BROWN: They looked absolutely dreadful until they went on the ponies.

MOOS (on camera): Well, that's the case with a lot of clothing, huh?

(voice-over): Now, we've seen a lot of critters wearing sweaters, from penguins to dogs, pigs, even turtles on a blog called "Animals in Sweaters."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What the (EXPLETIVE DELETED) is that?

MOOS: That's a sweater fit for Hannibal Lecter.

At least Vitamin and Fivla weren't subjected to that.

Actually, horses wear covers all the time. I once dressed up in plaid to match a horse, but that was no match for these two dressed by Scottish tourism.

(on camera): And how much did they have to pony up for a sweater fit for a pony?

(voice-over): A little over 200 bucks per horse, a bargain.

Fivla and Vitamin got their sleeves dirty during a shoot, but the sweaters are hand-washable.

(on camera): I don't want to -- you know, I don't want to sound insulting, but the sweaters make them look a little fat, don't you think?

BROWN: Well, they are fat!

MOOS (voice-over): Who are you calling fat? Button your lip, lady!

Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE) BLITZER: Do you like those sweaters?

BOLDUAN: I think you would look really fabulous in them.

BLITZER: The red, you think?

BOLDUAN: The red would look fabulous.

BLITZER: But then you'd have to button those buttons.

BOLDUAN: Well, you can button buttons. You're very good with that. You can do it.

BLITZER: The Scottish sweaters.

BOLDUAN: "Vit-amin," the name of the horse.

BLITZER: All right. Don't forget, the price of stamps going up.

BOLDUAN: I know.

BLITZER: That's it for us. Thanks very much for joining. "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.