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Child Still Hostage; Wild Weather; Senate Confirmation Hearing for Chuck Hagel Underway; Hillary Clinton's Final Speech

Aired January 31, 2013 - 11:00   ET


ALISON KOSIK, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: But remember, that's just one opinion.

Now, tomorrow could be one deciding factor. That's when we're getting the monthly jobs report for January. If the gain is what's expected or more, you could see us catapult to 14,000.


CAROL COSTELLO, ANCHOR, "CNN NEWSROOM": Alison Kosik, thank you.

The next hour of "CNN Newsroom" starts right now with Ashleigh Banfield.

ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, ANCHOR, "CNN NEWSROOM": Thank you very much, Carol Costello.

Nice for having you with us today. Hi, everybody, I'm Ashleigh Banfield. It's 11:00 on the East Coast and we've got a very busy hour.

We want to start with you, though, in Alabama where a 5-year-old, special needs boy is still being held in an underground bunker by an old man who's got a gun.

And in Washington, at this hour, President Obama's pick for defense secretary is on the defensive. You're going to see all of this playing out live.

And, also, deadly storms and spring-like tornadoes give way to a deep freeze, wild weather from the Deep South all the way up to New England.

I want to take you to Capitol Hill now and a former senator who was loved and admired by colleagues on both sides of the aisle, that was until he was tapped by President Obama to head the Pentagon.

Chuck Hagel is a little over 90 minutes into a Senate confirmation hearing that he's generally expected to survive, but if you remember that virtual love-fest a week ago, that was John Kerry's hearing for secretary of state, this is not like that.

CNN's chief congressional correspondent Dana Bash is watching the hearings. And Dana, I was watching some of your reporting earlier on as these hearings began to unfold starting at 9:30 this morning and you said stoic, I think you described the panel.

These were long-term, old friends who had a very different tenor in this room today?

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right and I think that at least early on, the statement, the opening statement from the top Republican, Hagel's fellow Republican on this committee, his name is Jim Inhofe from Oklahoma probably says it all when it comes to Republican skepticism and outright criticism of Chuck Hagel.

Listen to what Jim Inhofe said about and to Chuck Hagel.


SENATOR JIM INHOFE (R), OKLAHOMA: Though I respect Senator Hagel, his record to date demonstrates that he would be a staunch advocate for the continuation of the misguided policies of the president's first term.

Retreating from America's global leadership role in shrinking the military will not make America safer. On the contemporary, it will embolden our enemies, endanger our allies and provide opportunity for nations that do not share our interest to fill a global leadership vacuum we leave behind.

It is for these reasons that I believe that he's the wrong person to lead the Pentagon at this perilous and consequential time.


BASH: It certainly didn't leave any question, what he believes and what he thinks on a number of issues, primarily at the end there, whether or not he will support Chuck Hagel.

The answer is no and, in some Q&A that just went on, he actually asked Hagel why the Iranian ministry supports his candidacy and Hagel responded that he has enough problems figuring out American politics, much less Iranian politics.

But, you know, it really goes to the heart of criticism from Republicans on issues from Iran, to North Korea, to Afghanistan. They simply think that he's become too dovish and not hawkish enough.

Hagel tried to respond to that in his opening statement. He knew very well what the criticism was. Listen to the way he framed his offense and defense of his nomination.


CHUCK HAGEL, DEFENSE SECRETARY NOMINEE: We will not hesitate to use the full force of the United States military in defense of our security, but we must also be smart and, more importantly, wise, wise in how we employ all of our nation's great power.

America's continued leadership and strength at home and abroad will be critically important for our country and the world. While we will not hesitate to act unilaterally when necessary, it is essential that we work closely with our allies and partners to enhance America's interest and security.


BASH: And, Ashleigh, part of the biggest subplot here is going to be the question-and-answer with John McCain, his former really best friend -- one of his best friends here who is now a critic of Hagel.

BANFIELD: Dana, I'm glad -- yeah, I'm glad you mentioned that. Let's listen in, in fact, the Republican from Arizona with his comments.


SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: With that in mind, let me begin with your opposition to the surge in Iraq.

2006, we lost -- Republicans lost the election, and we began the surge and you wrote a piece in "The Washington Post," quote, "leaving Iraq honorably."

2007, you committed -- you said it's not in the national interest to deepen its military involvement. In January in 2007, in a rather bizarre exchange with Secretary Rice in the foreign relations committee after some nonsense about Syria and crossing the border into Iran and Syria because of the surge, then -- and a reference to Cambodia in 1970, you said, quote, "When you set in motion the kind of policy the president's talking about here, it's very, very dangerous."

Quote, "Matter of fact, I have to say, Madam Secretary, I think the speech given last night by this president represents the most dangerous foreign policy blunder in this country since Vietnam. If it's carried out. I will resist it."

And then, of course, you continued on and on for months afterwards talking about what a disaster the surge would be, even to the point where it was clear, the surge was succeeding.

In March 2008, you said, quote, "here the term 'quagmire' could apply. Some reject that term, but if that's not a quagmire, then what is?"

Even as late of August 29th, 2011, in an interview -- 2011 -- in an interview with "The Financial Times," you said, "I disagreed with the President Obama, his decision to surge in Iraq as I did with President Bush on the surge in Iraq."

Do you stand by that -- those comments, senator Hagel?

HAGEL: Well, Senator, I stand by them because I made them and ...

MCCAIN: You stand by -- were you right? Were you correct in your assessment?

HAGEL: Well, I would defer to the judgment of history to sort that out.

MCCAIN: I think the committee deserves your judgment as to whether you were right or wrong about the surge.

HAGEL: I'll explain why I made those comments.

MCCAIN: I want to know if you were right or wrong. That's a direct question. I expect a direct answer.

HAGEL: The surge assisted in the objective, but if we review the record a little bit ...

MCCAIN: Will you please answer the question? Were you correct or incorrect when you said that the surge would be the most dangerous foreign policy blunder in this country since Vietnam? Were you correct or incorrect? Yes or no?

HAGEL: My reference to the surge being the most dangerous ...

MCCAIN: Are you going to answer the question, Senator Hagel? The question is were you right or wrong? That's a pretty straightforward question. I would like to you answer whether you were right or wrong and then you are free to elaborate.

HAGEL: Well, I'm not going to give you a yes or no answer.

MCCAIN: Well, let the record show that you refused to answer that question. Please go ahead.

HAGEL: Well, if you would like me to explain why ...

MCCAIN: No, I actually would like an answer, yes or no.

HAGEL: Well, I'm not going to give you a yes or no. I think it's far more complicated than that. As I've already said, my answer is, I'll defer that judgment to history.

As to the comment I made about the most dangerous foreign policy decision since Vietnam, was about not just the surge, but the overall war of choice going into Iraq.

That particular decision that was made on the surge, but more to the point, our war in Iraq, I think was the most fundamentally bad, dangerous decision since Vietnam.

Aside from the costs that occurred in this country to blood and treasure, aside what that did to take our focus off of Afghanistan, which, in fact, was the original and real focus of the national threat to this country -- Iraq was not -- I always tried to frame all of the different issues before I made a decision on anything.

Now, just as you said, Senator, we can have differences of opinion, but that's essentially why I took the position I did.

MCCAIN: It's a fundamental difference of opinion, Senator Hagel, and Senator Graham and I and Senator Lieberman, when there are 59 votes in the United States Senate, spent our time trying prevent that 60th. Thank God for Senator Lieberman. I think history has already made a judgment about the surge, sir, and you're on the wrong side of it. And your refusal to answer whether you were right or wrong about it is going to have an impact on my judgment as to whether to vote for your confirmation or not.

I hope you will reconsider the fact that you refuse to answer a fundamental question about an issue that took the lives of thousands of young Americans.

HAGEL: Well, Senator, there was more to it than just flooding ...

MCCAIN: I'm asking about the surge, Senator Hagel.

HAGEL: I know you are, and I'm trying to explain my position.

The beginning of the surge also factored in what General Allen had put into place in Anbar Province, the Sunni Awakening. We put over, as you know, 100,000 young ...

MCCAIN: Senator Hagel, I'm very aware of the history of the surge and the Anbar Awakening. And I also am aware that any casual observer will know that the surge was the fundamental factor led by two great leaders, General Petraeus and Ambassador (INAUDIBLE).

HAGEL: Well, I don't know if that would have been required and cost us over thousands of American lives and thousands of wounded.

MCCAIN: So, you don't know if the surge would be required. OK.

Senator Hagel, let me go back -- go to Syria now. More than 60,000 people have been killed in Syria. Do you believe that we should be more engaged in Syria?

HAGEL: I know this administration is very engaged in working with its partners.

MCCAIN: So, you don't think we should do more?

HAGEL: Well, when you say do more, do you mean ...

MCCAIN: Do you think we should put -- make sure that the Syrians get the weapons they need and perhaps establish a no-fly zone? Do you think we do?

HAGEL: I believe that part of our review is looking at those options.

MCCAIN: It's been 22 months, Senator Hagel.

HAGEL: Well, I want there. I don't know the details. I'm not there now.

MCCAIN: I'm sure you've read in the newspapers that 60,000 people have been killed and that it's in danger of spilling over into neighboring countries.

My question, I guess, is how many more would have to die before you would support arming the resistance and establishing a no-fly zone?

HAGEL: Well, I don't think anyone questions the terrible tragedy that is occurring there every day.

It's a matter of how best do we work our way through this so that we can stop it, to begin with, and then what comes next. I think the president has very clear on this.

MCCAIN: Did you disagree with President Obama on his decision for the surge in Afghanistan?

HAGEL: I didn't think that we should get ourselves into -- first of all, I had no original position as far as no formal position, but I didn't think ...

MCCAIN: You were quoted in August 29th, 2011, saying, I disagreed with President Obama and his decision to surge in Afghanistan.

HAGEL: That was my personal opinion, yes.

MCCAIN: I thank you, Mr. Chairman.


Senator Nelson?

SENATOR BILL NELSON (D), FLORIDA: Since the issue of Iraq ...


BANFIELD: Well, that is what you call some light and heat.

Dana Bash continuing to monitor the hearings. Look, Dana, we expected it wasn't going to be a love-fest between these two very close former friends, but I've heard the term badgering the witness before. That was some very intense and very pushy questioning.

BASH: Yes, it certainly was, to say the least, and I think maybe, ironically, maybe as two people who know each other well and know where the buttons to push may be can accomplish. And that's probably a lot of what we saw there.

I think what is most important, sort of when you bring this up to 10,000 feet to look at, is, personally, where they diverged, but also when it comes to policy, that these are two men who bonded over their service in Vietnam. And then that's where they diverged.

John McCain very much took from his experience in Vietnam that you should never leave a war unfinished, as he believes the U.S. did in Vietnam.

Chuck Hagel took from his service in Vietnam that you should not go into something that you cannot win and you should pull out as you can, and you should not add more troops, a la the Iraq surge, to have more people in harm's way. So, that's where you have a very real policy difference -- very real policy difference on that, and then, of course, you saw some other questions about Syria and others, as well.

I actually, just to sort of show our audience what a difference 13 years makes, I want to show a quote from John McCain when he was running for president back in 2000.

Chuck Hagel, the man you just saw, the two of them really go after each other, maybe John McCain go after Hagel. Look at this quote. He was asked by a voter when he was running for president who he would want in his cabinet.

"As far as secretary of defense is concerned, Senator Chuck Hagel could do that job."

John McCain volunteered the name Chuck Hagel to serve in his own cabinet as secretary of defense, the very job that President Obama nominated here -- him for. And, wow, what a difference.

BANFIELD: You know what? Can I just add that he said in any capacity. Dana, back in 2006, he said, I'd be honored to have Chuck with me in any capacity.

And, look, a lot of people, especially like "The Daily Show" would take a sound bite like that and run it against a sound bit like today's and say, that's just Capitol Hill hypocrisy personified and amplified.

But I want you to give me the qualification for this. Has Chuck Hagel changed so much since 2006 when he was, quote, again, "I'd be honored to have Chuck with me in any capacity," to now, 2013. Has he changed that much?

BASH: I think that it's fair to say that both of them, they just went on very different paths in terms of how they perceived very important foreign policy issues and issues of how to use the United States military.

I definitely think it would be way to simplistic, as you were just implying there, to suggest that McCain flip-flopped or just kind of abandoned his old friend.

They have very different world views now, and I think both of them, John McCain might have tacked right a little bit, as time went on, and Chuck Hagel tacked left.

So, I think that is probably the most accurate way to portray it, but genuine differences over how to approach these very, very tough, very complex issues.

BANFIELD: I'll tell you what, whoever says sometimes politics can be boring, you look at two soldiers facing each other down like that, Chuck Hagel with shrapnel still in his chest, John McCain still showing the signs of being a POW, and seeing that confrontation, that is -- it's fascinating, it's dramatic and I can't wait to see how this one turns out.

Dana Bash, you've got some work to do. I'm going to let you get back to covering it. Thank you very much for that.

We'll be right back after this.


BANFIELD: Hillary Clinton taking center stage today in what will be her final speech as secretary of state.

She'll make remarks at the Council on Foreign Relations today, 2:00 p.m. Eastern time and the topic, American leadership.

Senator John McCain was confirmed on Tuesday to be her successor and he will be sworn in on Friday.

"The New York Times" has a message for anybody dealing with China. Don't cross the kingpins ruling the country.

"The Times" is accusing the Chinese hackers of attacking and breaking into its computer system and then stealing the passwords of high- profile reporters and other staff members.

The newspaper says it occurred over the past four months after "The Times" ran articles on the wealth reportedly accumulated by relatives of China's premier.

China says the allegations are, quote, "groundless and irresponsible."

I want to take you now to that terrifying story of a little boy being held captive by a strange man in Alabama, a man he does not know shot the driver dead and made of for an underground bunker that he's been building for sometime now.

It's now day three of the ordeal for a 5-year-old boy and police are now asking people to pray for his release. The young victim has Asperger's syndrome and ADHD. Police are sending his medications and coloring books and crayons down a PVC tube into the underground bunker.

HLN's law enforcement analyst, Mike Brooks, joins me now. Mike, when there's a child involved is it all bets off for training for hostage negotiations. Like, how do the dynamics change now that we have this little child who is also a special needs child?

MIKE BROOKS, "IN SESSION" LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, the dynamics change because it's in a bunker. You know, if it were anywhere else, no, there's a dialogue going on, Ashleigh, with negotiators and, you know, Mr. Dykes, then they're going to need to keep talking.

We're in day three now, but I think that, as a former negotiator, as a former SWAT operator, I can tell you that's a good sign in my book. That means that there's still a dialogue going on, they're still making communication, because, even to get his medication and the boy's coloring books and crayons down that PVC pipe into the bunker, that all has to be negotiated.

BANFIELD: I want to just put some statistics on the screen. At least -- it's pretty thin, but it's all we know about this suspect at the time. He's believed be to be 65-year-old Jimmy Lee Dykes and I only say "believed to be" because it's not the police releasing this information. It's neighbors and people who know him.

Vietnam veteran, retired truck driver, he has anti-America views, PTSD, again, according to neighbors and those who know him. He was working on this bunker for over a year and apparently was due in court for allegedly shooting at neighbors.

This is a pretty unusual guy, to say the very least. When you get at least a definition of the kind of person you're dealing with, how does that change the dynamic for the hostage negotiators working there?

BROOKS: Well, negotiators, they're part of a team and, the other part of the team, they're out trying to gather intelligence, any information on this guy, what his background is.

And these are all things that the negotiators will find out through their coaches and as things go along to try to develop some kind of rapport with this guy.

We don't know what they're talking about. They could be talking about the Super Bowl. We don't know.

But, you know, if you can get some kind of hook with this guy to keep negotiations going, to keep the dialogue going, Ashleigh, that's a great sign. And even though we're in day three now, some people say, well, he has to sleep. Why can't they go in?

Well, it's a unique situation, as I said, with this underground bunker because the SWAT team, what they're trying to do is they, when the come on-scene, you try to make an emergency assault plan should they believe that this little boy's being harmed.

But it makes it even more difficult when have this underground bunker. But the FBI is there with their investigators, with their SWAT team and folks from Quantico with the critical incidents response group, which includes a hostage rescue team.

So, I'm sure they have everything well in hand and they will monitor and keep the negotiations going as long as they can. Time is on your side.

BANFIELD: Oh, let's hope and at least he's getting the medications, we're told.

And, by the way, Mike, just to break for a second, our senior producer here at CNN, Carol (INAUDIBLE) has been able to get an on-the-record statement from the FBI and I'm just getting it as I speak to you.

But one of the spokespeople, Jason Pack (ph) apparently says, quote, "We are currently working with state and local law enforcement officials to bring this situation to a resolution. "Investigators have no reason now to believe that the suspect has injured the child."

And I'm just going to say this as the mother of a 5-year-old and a 7- year-old, injuries come in many ways, and you cannot quantify the psychological injures that this child who was stolen off a school bus is going to be suffering at this point.

But thank God that they at least think that physically this child's OK.

We're going to continue watching it, Mike, and thank you. Thank you for your insight.

BROOKS: Absolutely, Ashleigh.

BANFIELD: We're back after this.


BANFIELD: A day after violent spring-like storms and deadly tornadoes, winter is back with a vengeance. There were very warm temperatures in a lot of places yesterday, up into the 70s when the twisters actually came down.

But now we're talking teens and single digits, snow in the Midwest, huge high winds in the Northeast.

Chad Myers is back. We talked about weather whiplash yesterday. That was before I lost the tree over my neighbor's driveway that trapped them in their house this morning.

The winds are just lethal up here. What's happening?

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: And even the airports are hardly moving because of that wind. They have to separate the planes significantly now because, you know, it's bumpy. The landings are rough.

If you don't like flying in rough weather, today may not be your day to be landing in some of those New York airports that don't have an awful lot of options when it comes to runway direction.

What we have is the weather running up the East Coast with the jet stream. And this jet stream -- we talked about this yesterday, how it has been sliding across the country from one day to the next.

And every time you're under the jet stream or you're south of it, you're going to warm up. When you're north of the jet stream, you're going to cool down.

Look at this. This is what it feels like right now, Minot, North Dakota, 46 below, and it feels like 70 in Key West.

This is the same thing that's going to happen. This cold air is going to slide again to the east, farther to the east, and then warm air will replace it from the west. It happens like this all the time.

Take a look at Chicago. Chicago on Tuesday was 63. I have a package in-house -- I've looked at it -- where the ice rink, downtown Chicago, literally melted because it was just too warm. And this morning now, it's down to 17.

BANFIELD: Jeepers creepers. And when I say those winds were intense, I thought my roof was going to blow off this morning.

And then, when I made my hour-long commute into New York City, it was warm as toast. And warm makes me nervous, should it?

MYERS: It should and it was that way yesterday. And we mentioned this. I said, you know what, if you feel like right now it's warmer than that should be outside at this time of the year then you are in the danger zone for storms.

And those storms fired all the way from the eastern sections of Pennsylvania right on down through and into Georgia. The cold air was here. It was trying to push the warm air away. And it's pushed it away.

And what -- the cold air, when you open up your freezer, the cold air comes out and you can see it goes right down to the ground. You can see that steam or that fog. That pushes your moisture up and makes big storms.

BANFIELD: All right, Chad Myers, I know you work very hard, not just on television but off television, so I'm going to push her viewers to your online work because Chad's been compiling a whole bunch of weather analysis for us.

And for everything across the country, you can go to And that good man right there on your screen has a whole bunch of information for you right there.

We're back after this.

MYERS: Thank you.