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Senate Battle Begins over Hagel; Hostage Drama; Violent Storms Wallop Central U.S.; Newtown Searches for Solutions; Harbaugh Versus Harbaugh

Aired January 31, 2013 - 09:00   ET


CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: Hi, Soledad, and happy birthday, Christine.

Stories we're watching right now in the NEWSROOM, trapped by rising water. Rescuers in Maryland struggle to save stranded drivers. The same storm system killed two in the south.


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Out here in Adairsville, you can see to the right of this funnel some of the debris now coming up. This is only about a quarter of a mile from our location here on Highway 41 near I- 75.


COSTELLO: And this same weather system now pushing to the northeast.

Day three of the dangerous standoff. A 5-year-old boy still held hostage in an underground bunker. We're learning new details about the man who took him. Neighbors say he's a survivalist with anti- American views.

Short supply. The gun debate has people across the country looking to stock up, but now one retailer, and that would be Wal-Mart, limits how much ammunition they can buy.

And the brothers Harbaugh have one final score to settle.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, you know, we're fighting for everything. You know, you fight for the extra hotdog, and you know, you fight for -- you fight for girls, you fight for everything.


COSTELLO: Sibling rivalry on a super stage.

NEWSROOM starts now.

Good morning, thank you so much for being with us. I'm Carol Costello. We begin with a showdown on Capitol Hill. Minutes from now, former Republican Senator Chuck Hagel begins his uphill battle to become the nation's defense secretary. The Vietnam vet will testify before the Senate Armed Services Committee in just about 30 minutes.

He won't have an easy time of it. Critics have painted Hagel as anti- Israel, homophobic and way too weak on Iran. There have even been anti-Hagel ads paid for by anonymous donors.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: While President Obama says all options are on the table for preventing a nuclear Iran, Hagel says military action is not a viable, feasible, responsible option.


COSTELLO: Chris Lawrence is at the Pentagon, and Chris Hagel was also accused of wanting to gut the Defense Department. So what kind of day do you think is on tap for him?

CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Carol, it's likely to be a pretty rough one. You know, we've got word from insiders that Hagel is going to testify that the militant group Hezbollah is a terrorist organization, and that military options are on the table for Iran. It's not earth-shattering, except when you compare it to what he's already said.


LAWRENCE (voice-over): Chuck Hagel's past is about to come roaring back at him.

CHUCK HAGEL, FORMER SENATOR: Good morning, guys. How are you?

LAWRENCE: How he's voted, what he said.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: He has insisted that the Israelis negotiate with Hamas, a terrorist organization.

LAWRENCE: So one of the first questions could be, will you support Israel? Recently Hagel promised he would, unequivocably saying his record has been distorted, but he'll have to explain what he said before his nomination.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: Like referenced to a quote, "Jewish lobby," which I don't believe exists.

LAWRENCE: Senators will demand to know what Hagel meant and why he refused to sign a letter designating Hezbollah a terrorist organization.

SEN. JOHN CORNYN (R), TEXAS: I cannot support a nominee for Defense secretary who thinks we should be tougher on Israel and more lenient on Iran.

LAWRENCE: Which brings up another question. Can you be tough on Iran? Senators are being barraged by advertising, questioning how credible Hagel can be.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And while President Obama says all options are on the table for preventing a nuclear Iran, Hagel says military action is not a viable, feasible, responsible option.


LAWRENCE: It's true but the quote is from seven years ago. Recently Hagel got in line with President Obama's policy saying military options are on the table.

GRAHAM: He was one of two senators who voted against Iranian sanctions saying we should negotiate directly with Iran, not sanction them.

LAWRENCE: Hagel did support negotiations with Iran with no preconditions. He said it's useless for any one nation, including the U.S., to impose sanctions alone, but he supported the multinational sanctions in place now.


LAWRENCE: In fact, Hagel once supported the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy that applied to gay troops. He also at one time said that the military should not be used as a, quote, "social experiment." But he had to fill out a questionnaire before this hearing and in that questionnaire Hagel said that he would support and try to get in place benefits like health benefits for the spouses of gay and lesbian service members.

So, Carol, the evolution continues here.

COSTELLO: It should be -- another raucous hearing on the Hill.

Chris Lawrence reporting live from the Pentagon.

And stay with us for the Senate hearing on Chuck Hagel's nomination scheduled to get underway at the bottom of the hour, 9:30 Eastern. Of course we'll have live coverage for you.

We're also keeping an eye on a hostage standoff in Alabama entering its third day. And we're hearing reports the gunman is a survivalist with anti-American views. Police are trying to negotiate with this man who's holed up in an underground bunk with a 5-year-old hostage, a little boy.

Police say the man shot and killed a school bus driver, you see the school bus driver here, and then he took the boy at gunpoint Tuesday. Last night the gunman agreed to let police send crayons and coloring books down to the boy, down inside that bunker through this -- through this plastic pipe. Police have not identified the man but neighbors say he's 65-year-old Jimmy Lee Dykes. Officials say Dykes does not know the boy. Neighbors say Dykes' actions do not surprise them.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) RONDA WILBUR, NEIGHBOR OF HOSTAGE SUSPECT: He' has been waiting look a time bomb. No, I'm not surprised at all. I also am not surprised at all about the underground bunker because a majority of the time this man dug at all hours of the day and night, and he patrolled his property, which is right across the street from my yard, with a gun.


COSTELLO: Mark Potok from the Southern Poverty Law Center joins us now from Montgomery, Alabama. Good morning.


COSTELLO: You've talked to investigators in Alabama. Help us understand what they mean by anti-American and survivalist.

POTOK: Well, we spoke to the chief investigator of the Dale County Sheriff's Office and he was rather brief in what he said but he said that officers after speaking to neighbors and acquaintances of Jimmy Lee Dykes described him as being very strongly anti-government in his views, as you said anti-America, whatever that may mean, and he also described him as a survivalist, which seems fairly obvious, given the bunker that he dug in his backyard.

COSTELLO: So we're -- we're familiar with the term survivalist from the show on cable, "Doomsday Preppers." I mean is this the kind of guy we're talking about? Because those people don't seem particularly dangerous.

POTOK: That's right. I mean, look, I think "Doomsday Preppers" TV show tends to feature all kinds of different people and they're looking for, you know, various types. In reality the survivalist movement, not entirely but largely, is dominated by people with extremely right wing views and fears and generally those fears center around what the government is going to do.

These people very widely feel that government has very bad plans for the rest of us around the corner, that some catastrophe is looming. We saw the survivalist movement really take off in a couple of instances in the last few years one around the so-called Y2k bug the fear that computers were going to collapse when the clocked rolled over up from 1999 to 2000, and then again in 2008 when President Obama was elected for the first time.

So I think what's going on is we're seeing some real energy come into this movement recently around the re-election of Obama last fall.

COSTELLO: And I know you can't speak specifically to Jimmy Lee Dykes, the suspect in this case, but you now we're all trying to figure out why did he kidnap a child and then bring the child down into a bunker?

POTOK: Well, it's completely unclear obviously what his motives may have been and particularly what that might have had to do with his political views as reported I mean, we know, what Dykes was facing yesterday a hearing, a court hearing, on menacing charges brought against him for firing shots in the direction of a neighbor, so that seems to have been the crisis that brought this on. What exactly he hopes to accomplish, you know, by kidnapping a child and murdering the bus driver and so on I think is really anyone's guess at this point.

COSTELLO: Mark Potok, director of the Southern Poverty Law Center's Intelligence project thanks so much for enlightening us this morning. Thank you.

POTOK: Thanks.

COSTELLO: Fast-rising floods, stranded drivers, rescue workers are out in force around Washington this morning, heavy rains and strong winds pounded the area overnight. This is the same storm system that left two people dead as it ripped across the south. Now the tornado risk is gone now, but the northeast is in for rain and possibly snow, and then arctic temperatures move back in.

Before pushing northeast, these storms spun reports of at least 20 tornadoes, including one caught on camera.

Miguel Marquez has that part of our story.


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: We can see circulation in the cloud.

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A reporter from Atlanta affiliate WSB caught one twister as it touched down.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Toward I-75. Again a tornado --

MARQUEZ: In its path, utter destruction.

(On camera): This is main street in Adairsville, Georgia. This is exactly where that tornado hit. You can see devastation on that back side of the street, the trucks completely destroyed here. And on this side was a normal day of work here at the Daiqui plant, they come here to make parts for tractors, complete devastation, 50 to 100 people working here today, all of them across this entire area, trucks, everything, shredded.

(Voice-over): At the plant, Justin Carnes and his fellow employees took refuge in the bathroom.

(On camera): What did it sound like? And what did it feel?

JUSTIN CARNES, TORNADO SURVIVOR: Walls shaking, everything was shaking.


CARNES: And -- yes, There was like a pressure on my ears, a real high-pitched whistling sound, hurt my ears really bad.

MARQUEZ: The thousand-mile-long storm set off tornados in six states from Missouri to Georgia, leaving massive damage and creating drastic temperature changes. In Nashville, one man died when a tree fell on his home.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was a bad site. The tree fell like right on it.

MARQUEZ: In Memphis, torrential rain and massive flooding, bridges, underpasses, inundated. In Monticello, Arkansas, a horse barn collapsed, all 11 horses A-OK. In Indiana, downed trees and fire, lightning is suspected.

Kentucky saw strong winds, flipping tractor trailers like toys. And winds so fierce in Scott County, Missouri, 48 train cars knocked right over. And across Alabama, wind, rain and more misery.


COSTELLO: And I'm joined now from Adairsville, Georgia, by Miguel Marquez. And it's cold outside, the cleanup has started, so it's still miserable for so many people.

MARQUEZ: Very miserable and what's shocking about the cold here. It was 65 yesterday, into the thirties here right now with the windchill probably down into the 20s still even though the sun's come up it's warmed up a little bit.

But the cleanup is on. They're getting the power restored to a lot of folks. In fact, Georgia power has just pulled up here to put in a pole right here. The other problem in this part of the -- of Georgia is the water supply, they still can't use the water until it's been decontaminated and they can start opening businesses and people can get start getting back to life here as normal. Carol?

COSTELLO: Miguel Marquez reporting live from Georgia this morning, Adairsville.

The man at the center of an elaborate hoax involving Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o comes clean and admits he was deeply in love with the college football star.


COSTELLO: Fifteen minutes past the hour. Time to check our top stories.

The man behind an elaborate hoax involving Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o finally breaking his silence. Ronaiah Tuiasosopo sat down with Dr. Phil. First part of the interview begins today. Tuiasosopo said he was in love with Te'o and wanted to end the hoax before he faked the death of Te'o's made-up girlfriend.


RONAIAH TUIASOSOPO, ALLEGED HOAX MASTERMIND: There were many times where man tie and Lennay have broken up before, but every time that you know either I would try to end it, we would or he would, it's like they would break up and then something would bring them back together, whether it was something going on in his life or Lennay's life, in this case, in my case n my life.

I wanted to end it because after everything I had gone through, I finally realized that I just had to move on with my life.


COSTELLO: Tuiasosopo also says Te'o was not involved in the hoax whatsoever.

"New York Times" says it was a target of computer attacks by Chinese hackers. The newspaper says the cyber attack has been going on for the past four months. It started after the investigation into the relatives of the Chinese premiere. Every employee had their passwords stolen.

Traffic is resuming on the Mississippi River near Vicksburg, after a weekend accident involving two barges. That accident led to an oil spill. The Coast Guard is allowing southbound ships to pass through the area right now. Crews are still cleaning up oil leaking from one of the barges.

The nation's largest retailer is putting a cap on ammunition sale. Walmart says customers can only buy boxes of three of ammunition a day. Ammunition has been in short supply in recent weeks. It's not known how long the Walmart limit will last.

In the six weeks since the tragic shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, we've heard lots of talk about how to end gun violence in the country, from Washington to Newtown, itself, where the community met at a public hearing. Among the speakers, parents were left to pick up the pieces.


DAVE WHEELER, FATHER OF NEWTOWN SHOOTING VICTIM: The liberty of any person to own a military-style assault weapon in a high capacity magazine and keep their home is second to the right of my son to his life.

SCARLETT LEWIS, MOTHER OF NEWTOWN SHOOTING VICTIM: Together we can turn this tragedy into the event that turned the tide that empowered us as individuals, a society and the world to choose love.


COSTELLO: But for one resident who calls himself a responsible gun owner, any proposal to ban guns or limit ammunition is cause for concern.


MICHAEL COLLINS, NEWTOWN, CONN. RESIDENT & GUN PERMIT HOLDER: Just as been said, when you have to reload, you're vulnerable. This applies to the person defending himself, as well as a criminal. Only the criminal is not going to observe these magazine capacity laws. The ordinary licensed person will. I don't want to be outgunned in a situation that I cannot walk or run away from.


COSTELLO: The six-hour hearing was the final hearing for the Connecticut legislature's task force on gun violence prevention and children's safety.

Tonight, Anderson Cooper will take a closer look at the gun control debate and whether there's any solution. "Guns Under Fire", an "A.C. 360"" town hall special airs tonight, 8:00 Eastern.

The parents of John and Jim Harbaugh have their own Super Bowl chair.




COSTELLO: That's for sure. Dad reveals who they'll be thinking about right after the game, though.

And stay with us for this morning's Senate hearing on Chuck Hagel's nomination to defense secretary, scheduled to get under way in just about 10 minutes. We'll have live coverage for you.


COSTELLO: Even though Jackie Harbaugh would love for the Super Bowl to end in a tie, we know that's unlikely. The parents of the head coaching brothers held their own news conference and talked about who they'll be thinking about most after the game is over.


JACK HARBAUGH: There's going to be one winner and there's going to be one that's going to be totally disappointed, and my thoughts go to that one that will not experience the thrill of victory, and that's where our thoughts will be.

Every single parent can identify with that, that thrill of victory and the agony of defeat. And on Sunday night, we're going to experience both of those great emotions, and our thoughts will be with the one that comes up a little short.


COSTELLO: That would be tough, wouldn't it? Never has a sibling rivalry been so in your face, John Harbaugh versus Jim Harbaugh in the Super Bowl. Put yourself in your place, could you annihilate your brother's dream for your own?


COSTELLO (voice-over): The brothers Harbaugh are living the dream, the same dream, and only one will wake up happy Monday morning.

JOHN HARBAUGH, BALTIMORE RAVENS' HEAD COACH: You just grow up fighting for everything -- you know, you fight for the extra hotdog, you fight for girls, you fight for everything. So we both got our girls, but we both need our victory here this week.

JIM HARBAUGH, SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS' HEAD COACH: I have less than half the experience that he does, less than half the playoff appearances, wins, et cetera. We know the task ahead of us.

COSTELLO: They seem so cool, so detached -- but maybe because their sibling rivalry dates back decades.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They really wouldn't set very long together.

COSTELLO: We found this rare footage of the Harbaugh family in CNN's archives, back when they wouldn't share a photo.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Supposed to get one picture of the two of them and cost us twice the amount of money when it all came down to the end.

JOHN HARBAUGH: I was supposed to be the quarterback our senior year, I was excited about that going to my senior year in high school but I got beat out by the sophomore star, but it lessened the blow when it was my own brother.

COSTELLO: For mom and dad, it was all good, at least back then.

JACKIE HARBAUGH, COACHES' MOTHER: Jim threw the pass to John and the loud speaker, you could hear Harbaugh to Harbaugh! And I thought, oh, can it get any better than this?

You know, I just thought what a neat thing to hear, you know, as a parent.

COSTELLO: But the high school gridiron is one thing. The Super Bowl? That is so off the charts different.

JULIUS JONES, FORMER NFL RUNNING BACK: I feel bad for the parents.

COSTELLO: Julius and Thomas Jones know, they're brothers and, yes, both played in the envelope on opposing teams, both were running backs trying at the same time to set an NFL rushing record.

THOMAS JONES, FORMER NFL RUNNING BACK: You know, whoever loses is, you're going to always be known as the brother that lost, especially if it's the younger brother that beats the older brother.

COSTELLO: The Jones brothers, they like having each other to root for.

JULIUS JONES: We played each other three times. Each time he was on the field, I was all the way down the other end by myself. I didn't want to hear anybody, just wanted to watch him.

COSTELLO (on camera): Really? JULIUS JONES: Yes.

COSTELLO: So you were secretly cheering him on even though he was on the other team.

JULIUS JONES: Of course.

COSTELLO: And you did the same thing?

JULIUS JONES: I actually got caught one time.


COSTELLO: As for the Harbaughs, no one, not own the Jones brothers think they'll be cheering each other on. As Thomas aptly put it, "If it's the Super Bowl, you forget your brother's last name."

REPORTER: Coach, your brother says you're a better coach than he is. What do you say?

JOHN HARBAUGH: I know he's setting me up. He's just trying to soften me up.


COSTELLO: It would be tough, wouldn't it? The coaches Harbaugh will get one more chance to trade equips before Sunday's game. They'll hold a joint news conference tomorrow morning.

And on the eve of the Super Bowl, CNN is live in New Orleans, with our take on the biggest event in the country, what it means to the city, and how it became such a cultural phenomenon. Join us for "Kickoff in New Orleans: A CNN Bleacher Report Special", Saturday afternoon, 4:00 Eastern.

And we stay with us for this morning's Senate hearing on Chuck Hagel's nomination scheduled to get under way in just about six minutes. We'll have live coverage. We'll be right back.


COSTELLO: Good morning. I'm Carol Costello. Thank you so much for joining us. It's just about 30 minutes past the hour.

A combat veteran is fighting to become the nation's next defense secretary. Minutes from now the grilling of Chuck Hagel begins. Toughest questions likely to come from his fellow Republicans sitting on the Senate Armed Services committee.

Some say Hagel's chances are winning Senate approval could be decided today in this very hearing about to get under way.

Let's head to Washington now and Jake Tapper, CNN anchor and chief Washington correspondent.

And this is a critical hearing for Chuck Hagel. JAKE TAPPER, CNN CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: It sure is. Absolutely, Carol.

One of the most important things going on here is that Republicans, even though Chuck Hagel is a former Republican senator, Republicans are expressing opposition to his nomination. Since President Obama nominated him more than three weeks ago, Hagel has tried to damp down much of the bipartisan criticism. Key Democrats like Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York, shelved their skepticism and now say they support him.