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CNN SATURDAY MORNING NEWS
Child Held Hostage in Alabama; Trial of Woman for Murder in Arizona Continues; Hillary Clinton Retires as Secretary of State; Chuck Hagel Questioned by U.S. Senate; Former Football Player Discusses Brain Injuries Incurred from Playing; Boy Scouts Gay Scout Policy Debated
Aired February 2, 2013 - 10:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
RANDI KAYE, CNN ANCHOR: From CNN world headquarters in Atlanta, this is CNN SATURDAY MORNING. As the standoff in Alabama enters its fifth day, a 5-year-old boy remains a hostage underground. New information about his captor.
Sex, lies, and murder. The Jodi Arias case is unfolding like a late- night movie. I'll talk with Nancy Grace who's been inside the courtroom al week.
The Boy Scouts may vote next week to lift a decades' old ban. But there's a fight brew being what a new policy could mean. We'll look at both sides.
Good morning, everyone. I'm Randi Kaye. Glad you're with us this morning.
We begin with new allegations of drug use against Alex Rodriguez. It's not the first time that he's been accused of using performance enhancing drugs. The first time was actually several years ago. But the current chatter is that it happened again last year.
Our national correspondent, Susan Candiotti, is in New York. What is behind the new allegations?
SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Randi. It looks like A-Rod's PED controversy won't go away. Now there's another report alleging Alex Rodriguez got home visits to his waterfront Miami mansion from a man who ran a clinic. ESPN quoting unidentified sources says that man, Anthony Bosh, injected A-Rod with performance enhancing drugs. Once bosh was reportedly kicked out of A-Rod's home after bosh allegedly had trouble finding a vein.
Similar drug claims were leveled earlier this week. In the "Miami Times" newspaper, it says it has a diary containing notes from bosh detailing drugs including human growth hormone given to several athletes. CNN has been unable to independently see the documents in question.
Now we went to the clinic days ago, but it's been shut down. Bosh denies all allegations. And through a spokesman he tells CNN he did not treat, nor is he associated with players including A-Rod. In an earlier statement to CNN, A-Rod says none of this is true. Through his attorneys he calls the documents about him, quote, "illegitimate." In a new statement issued Friday, A-Rod's lawyers add this, "In regards to the new allegations made at ESPN's "Outside the Line" story, we can say that they are not true. Alex is working diligently on his rehabilitation and it looking forward getting back on the field as soon as possible."
A-Rod has repeatedly said he stopped taking performance enhancing drugs in 1993.
KAYE: Susan, what about Major League Baseball? I mean, what is the league doing about it?
CANDIOTTI: You know, when reports about this Miami clinic surfaced earlier this week, Major League Baseball weighed in. Last night they pretty much repeated the same thing in a statement that reads, "We issued a statement on Tuesday saying we are investigating." So, there is more to come.
KAYE:. Yes. It certainly sounds that way. Thank you very much, Susan.
And to Alabama now and the desperate waiting game for the parents of one little boy. Their 5-year-old now being held underground for a fifth straight day, this while police wait outside his makeshift prison, negotiating with the person who grabbed him of a school bus earlier this week. My colleague, Victor Blackwell is keeping an eye on the story in Midland City, Alabama. Victor, any more information? Do we know about the suspect and the bunker that he's in?
VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We have learned information about the suspect. I want to give you an update that I received from the Alabama state trooper I've been communicating with. I asked about negotiations overnight. He sent back an e-mail that said simply, "We continue to have an open line of communication with the suspect." So those negotiations continue.
About the suspect, after holding on for three days, the Dale County sheriff's office released a photograph finally of Jimmy Lee Dykes. We know he's 65 year old, six feet tall, 170, considered a survivalist by people who live in and around this community. We checked his criminal history, minor drug and weapons charges dating back to 1980 across at least three states. But we have not learned too much about what is happening inside the bunker now because they're keeping all of those details close to the vest as they try to end this quickly. Randi?
KAYE: Do police, have they given any indication about how long this guy might be able to survive in this bunker?
BLACKWELL: They have not. But from what we know about details about the bunker from people who live in this community who have seen it, they tell me to this has been built with a lot of care and thought, lined with brick walls, no mortar there because the red clay keeps things in place. He could have splice for some time. Those things have not been confirmed because we went been told what's happening inside the bunker.
But I do want to play what Alabama Governor Robert Bentley said about how long this has gone on so far.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. ROBERT BENTLEY, (R) ALABAMA: We have to have the right people in place to work through this problem. And I believe that patience should be a virtue as far as the dealing with this situation. And we just -- we don't want to make any mistakes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLACKWELL: A few important thanks are happening today. I wanted to give you a heads up. At noon eastern we're expecting the next update to tell us if there's information. Consistently they've said there's no reason to believe that the boy has been harmed. The other person thing, the bus driver who put himself between the gun and as many children on that bus as possible, his family and friends and will gather tonight to remember him. His funeral is scheduled for tomorrow.
KAYE: Victor, thank you very much. Appreciate that.
BLACKWELL: News just in to CNN now. A powerful earthquake has just struck northern Japan. The U.S. Geological Survey says the 6.9- magnitude quake struck along the coast of Japan's second largest island of Hokkaido. About 5.5 million people live on the island. There's no word of injuries or damage. The tsunami warning center said it does not appear the quake has triggered a tsunami.
Now to the hacker attack on Twitter. The social media site says around says around 250,000 accounts were compromised. They gained access to user names and e-mail addresses. Twitter officials say they believe the breach may be linked to similar one by suspected Chinese hackers on the "New York Times" and "Wall Street Journal."
Hillary Clinton got a very special tweet from her daughter on her final day as secretary of state. Chelsea Clinton accompanied her mom to the State Department yesterday for Mrs. Clinton's farewell. She tweeted this picture of them both smiling side by side. Chelsea also tweeted that she was "grateful for my mom's and the remarkable State Department's service." She added she was thankful she shared her last day as secretary of state, and she signed off "Proud Daughter."
Hundreds of staffers packed the State Department building for the big sendoff. She told them, "American live in complex and dangerous times." But Mrs. Said that she's more optimistic now than she was four years ago.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILLARY CLINTON, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: I am so grateful that we've had a chance to contribute in each of our ways to making our country and our world stronger, safer, fairer, and better.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KAYE: Clinton's successor as secretary of state is her former Senate colleague, John Kerry. He was sworn in yesterday and he's wasting no time getting down to business. A U.S. official says he will likely head to the Middle East his first overseas trip this month with stops in Egypt and Israel.
To Pennsylvania now where thousands gathered early this morning to watch the world's most famous groundhog, Punxsutawney Phil, make his annual prediction. Guess what, folks -- it's going to be an early spring.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For you and me. So ye faithful, there is no shadow to see. An early bring for you and me!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KAYE: Isn't that good news? You heard it from the hog, an early spring for you and me. For now, Phil, that seer of seers, sage of sages, prognosticator of prognosticators, he'll have to go back into the hole until they pull him out next year.
If you live in Ohio, you may not think that spring is on its way. Just look at all the snow in the Cleveland area yesterday. Driving conditions were a mess. The area could get several more inches of snow this weekend.
KAYE: Attorneys for Jodi Arias say that she shot and killed her boyfriend in self-defense. And it seems the jurors have a whole lot of questions about the evidence. What does it mean for this accused killer? I'll ask Nancy Grace.
KAYE: Take note, everybody. Don't try this at home. In fact, don't try this at all. A woman in Ohio kicking out the window of a police cruiser, giving officers a shattered glass shower. Even after the window was out, you see there -- she kept on kicking. Police say the woman had just been arrested for allegedly assaulting her mother. It just keeps getting better, doesn't it? They say it's an ugly example of the influence of too much alcohol.
Allegations of abuse, naked pictures, and murder -- if you weren't awake yet, that should do it. We're talking about the Jodi Arias case. Prosecutors in Phoenix say she took naked pictures with her ex- boyfriend, Travis Alexander, moments before shooting and stabbing him and cutting his throat. Arias claims self-defense. I spoke earlier with HLN's Nancy Grace who has been in the courtroom for this gripping case all week. I do have to warn you, though, a couple of the images are graphic.
NANCY GRACE, HLN HOST: Randi, there's always a chance for acquittal. We certainly learned that in the Casey Anthony trial, and of course before that, the O.J. Simpson case. When you think the evidence is so incredibly strong for the state, then the jury can surprise you. So there's no doubt in my mind that an acquittal is lurking amongst the jurors. There's always that possibility.
KAYE: If not, do you see a second-degree murder charge or death penalty, and if so, why?
GRACE: This jury has been all over the board. This is how we know a little of their thinking, Randi. In Arizona, the jury is allowed to ask questions. I encountered that when I was prosecuting, jurors were allowed to ask questions. It's a sterile setting. They write down their questions. They hand them to the bailiff who hands them to the judge. And if they are non-objectionable, don't call for hearsay or some problem under the law, the judge will ask them -- ask the witness the question and the witness will answer. So it's done under lab conditions.
But last week we saw some disturbing questions for the state. The jury was asking, Randi, well, did you check out the roommates? They were asking this of the lead detective. What about Travis Alexander's roommates, what's their alibi? What were they doing? OK. That's bad.
In the defense opening statement, Randi, the defense lawyer said, "She did it. My client, she stabbed him to death." But the jury was still having about alibis for the roommates. That's not good.
This week, they got more on the road. The jury started having questions that were more feasible or understandable questions. I think that a murder-two is a possibility. I still think they should convict on murder-one. One thing that's disturbing among many, we uncovered that there was a point in time where Jodi Arias was begging to plead guilty to murder two, to state under oath on the bible, "I murdered Travis Alexander," murder-two. When the state rejected that, she then switched her defense to self-defense. So this is a charade.
KAYE: It's interesting to watch how the defendant holds up. At one point I know she broke down during the trial. How do you think she's doing?
GRACE: Randi, she's like a water faucet. She cries on and off all the time. She typically cries when a discussion to the wounds to Travis Alexander is shown, photos, sliced up, and her hand.
Other than that, she's remained stoic. She's demure in court, usually looking down. Every time I see her, 15 or 20 feet away and watched her the entire time, she will pull this hair down like a shower curtain over her face so the jury doesn't see her face. And sheep writ-- she writes and doodles. Some have gone on eBay and asked for thousands of dollars for the doodle. She has her office chair screwed down. You see the chair backs, and she's sitting way down beside her two lawyers to make her look even more diminutive. Occasionally she's gone out and got glasses. She'll push the glasses up every once in a while. But she never makes eye contact with anyone.
KAYE: Do you think she'll take the stand? GRACE: Randi, that's the million-dollar question. Conventional wisdom is never place your client on the stand because it's not worth whatever they say, what will happen to them on cross-examination. It's basically -- I don't know if you ever heard this quote, better to remain silent and let others think you're an ass than to speak and confirm their suspicions. That goes for guilt, too. Better to let them wonder if you're guilty than to get on the stand and choke up so badly on cross, then they know you're guilty.
But since she's arguing self-defense, Randi, that's a conundrum, because no one else can explain to the jury what happened that day in the shower, at least her version, other than her.
KAYE: Great to chat with Nancy. And you can watch Nancy Grace weeknights at 8:00 p.m. on our sister network HLN.
A man who spent four years photographing the Beatles forgot about hundreds of his photos. How did that happen? Until recently, of course. Now we're getting a look at the band like we've never seen them before.
KAYE: Welcome back, everyone. It's 23 minutes past the hour now. A huge stash, hundreds of never-before-seen pictures of the Beatles has been recovered. Take a look. Here's The Fab Four meeting with their guru. And the others -- those are behind-the-scenes pictures from when the band was shooting the film "Help" in the Bahamas. The photographer recently found his negatives for the pictures and decided to publish them.
And be sure to go to CNN.com where you can see more of these exclusive, never-before-seen images. It's pretty cool stuff. Check it out, once again, CNN.com.
Now to Hawaii where lawmakers are proposing a new bill to protect celebrities. It is named the Steven Tyler acts after the Aerosmith front man because he's asked for protection from the paparazzi. The bill would make it illegal to photograph people in private areas but wouldn't stop people from taking pictures at public areas like the beach. Critics say the bill is just trying to convince celebrities to buy property in Hawaii.
This morning "CNN Heroes" recognizes a young woman who is just in high school but is already changing the world. And 14-year-old Cassandra Lin has found a way to help the environment and those in need in her Rhode Island community, and she's doing it one French fry at a time.
CASSANDRA LIN: When I was young I heard of global warming, and I knew there was huge consequences for this huge problem. I got together with my friends. We found that you could turn waist cooking oil into diesel fuel. Because many families in my own town couldn't afford to heat their homes, I thought what if we could recycle wasted cooking oil to heat the homes of these local families.
We made a difference. So can you.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We were just worried about keeping our kids warm and having hot water. It was a relief.
CASWELL COOKE: I was trying to talk about biodiesel and couldn't get anywhere with it. So she did it to get restaurants to recycle their grease.
LIN: It will promote the use of alternative energy --
COOKE: The fact that it was coming from kids made it hit home harder, the child shall lead them sort of thing. She set the example for the town. It's great that Westerly has a person that w we can be proud of and tell the country, hey, look what we're doing on little Westerly on the shore.
LIN: If everyone gave back and took time to do something for others, the world would be a better place.
KAYE: Welcome back, everyone. I'm Randi Kaye. Five stories we're watching this morning right now.
Number one, the desperate waiting game in Alabama where a suspected gunman is holding a 5-year-old boy in an underground bunker. They've been in the bunker now for five days. Police say the man is 65-year- old Jimmy Lee Dykes. His reason for taking the boy still unclear. We do know, though, police have been communicating with him through a pipe that goes into the bunker.
Number two, new allegations of drug use aimed at Alex Rodriguez. ESPN reports that the Yankees' third baseman got personal visits from the owner of a Miami area health clinic. That owner allegedly injected A- Rod with performance enhancing drugs as recently as last year. A-Rod's spokesman issued a statement saying the allegations are not true.
Number three, Vice President Joe Biden is talking Iran this morning at a security conference in Munich, Germany.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, (D) U.S. VICE PRESIDENT: We would be prepared to meet bilaterally with the Iranian leadership. We would not make it a secret. We would let our partners know if that occasion presented it says. That offer stands, but it must be real and tangible. And there has to be an agenda that they're prepared to speak to.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KAYE: Biden also plans to sit down with the key Syrian opposition leader. It would be the highest level U.S. meeting with the forces trying to overthrow President Bashar al Assad. Number four, the Pakistan teenager and girls education activist who was shot last year by the Taliban is a nominee for the Nobel Peace Prize. Malala Yousufzai became an international symbol against the fight against Islamist extremism. She was shot in the head after criticizing the Taliban for keeping girls out of school. Malala is still in the U.K. for medical treatment.
It looks like we'll have an early spring at least according to one famous groundhog. This morning Punxsutawney Phil shuffled out of his burrow and made his forecast. In over a century he's predicted an early spring only 17 times. This year is one of them. Organizers said his appearance was one of the large evidence crowds in event history. And we showed it to you live right here on SATURDAY MORNING.
Time now to check the political stories that caught our eye this week. Let's start with Chuck Hagel. The former senator was on the hot seat at the confirmation hearing to become the next defense secretary. He surely was on the defensive side it seems. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHUCK HAGEL, DEFENSE SECRETARY NOMINEE: I don't think there was a letter that I can recall.
I don't recall the event. I don't recall that.
I regret referencing the Jewish lobby.
I regret saying that. I regret that I used those words.
Not the term I should have used. I should have said pro-Israel. I should have used another term.
I'm sorry. I misspoke.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KAYE: Joining me as they do every week is CNN contributor Maria Cardona and Amy Holmes, anchor of "The Real News" on "The Blaze." Good morning to both of you. Nice to see you. Maria, were you surprised at Hagel's performance?
MARIA CARDONA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Certainly I wouldn't call it the smoothest confirmation hearing performance ever. But what I was really surprised at was the grilling, the really tough grilling he got from his former Republican colleagues, one of his former closest friends, Senator McCain.
So while it wasn't the smoothest of performances on behalf of senator Hagel, I do think that Republicans really need to be careful here because it is looking very political because this is president Obama's nominee and a former colleague of theirs. They are grilling him, probably a lot harder than they grilled John Kerry and probably a lot harder than what they're going to grill a lot of Democrats.
I think he will get confirmed. The White House is pretty confident he will get confirmed. He shares a lot of president Obama's views. A lot of the questions focused on Iraq, a war that has ended, and not on Afghanistan which is where a lot of questions are --
KAYE: Yes, that has been some of the criticism. That it was looking backward instead of looking forward. And as far as McCain goes, they got into it over that surge in Iraq, and the surge of troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. But Amy, does the former Republican senator, does he have enough support do you think to get the job?
AMY HOLMES, ANCHOR, "REAL NEWS," THE BLAZE: Well, Chuck Hagel's hearing, I think inept would be a generous word to describe. Of course they're going to pour through the senator's statements and decisions to discern and ascertain his judgment on really crucial, crucial matters facing our country in terms of national security. We want the sharpest knife in the drawer at the Pentagon. That's the job description. He's not going to the department of the interior.
But in terms of whether or not Republicans will vote to confirm him, Democrats need to hold together and get five Republicans to confirm him and he should be able to become the next secretary of defense.
But there are grumblings among Republican senators that they may consider putting a hold on his information to extracts more answers from the administration on the issue of Benghazi, that this could be leverage to get to the bottom of that debacle and understanding better the administration's timeline, their position on it, since they didn't get straight answers from former secretary of state Hillary Clinton.
CARDONA: I think if they do that, it would be a big political mistake. The perception would be very negative for the Republicans.
HOLMES: Any single senator can put a hold a nomination. It's been done before. But in terms of voting down the nomination, that hasn't happened to a senator since John Tower. So I don't see that happening.
KAYE: Let's talk immigration and gun control. Both were big this week. A bipartisan group of eight senators revealed their plan for immigration reform including a better border security, path to citizenship. Later in the week the star-studded gun hearings. Which has a better chance of getting passed at this point, comprehensive immigration reform or some sort of gun control, Amy?
HOLMES: Well, we've already seen Democrats coming out against, say, the assault weapons ban. Mark Prior, the Democrat from Arkansas. And we have six democratic senators in red states that Mitt Romney won up for reelection in 2014. So this comprehensive gun legislation that you're mentioning probably is unlikely to get through some narrower policy position where's there's broader agreement, for example, the -- doing background checks on all guns and gun sale loophole and so forth.
Comprehensive immigration reform, you know, that depends I suppose on the House side. The last time we did immigration reform under George Bush, the Senate was able to put together a bipartisan deal. My former boss, Bill Frist, worked on that very hard. He was able to get bipartisan buy-in. The question now is will house Republicans feel that political pressure to get a deal done? And I think the politics are shifting and that in fact we might see some movement there.
KAYE: Maria, your take?
CARDONA: I think the senators and our elected officials can walk and chew gum at the same time. I think there will be action on both. I agree with Amy that on the gun control, it probably will be narrower, probably focused on universal background checks and maybe still a ban on assault weapons, as well as the large magazine clips. I think there's a lot of agreement on that.
In terms of immigration, I think that it will get done. There is certainly huge pressure from a political standpoint for Republicans to understand that this needs to get done, that there needs to be a -- a pathway to citizenship. I know that's a big sticking point for Republicans.
CARDONA: But I also think we should focus on pieces that both Democrats and Republicans and majorities of Americans agree with. I'll mention one. That is the focus on high-tech workers and making sure American students have the tools they need to graduate in the high- tech fields, the STEM fields.
KAYE: I want to ask you quickly, both of you, there could be a new name in the race for New Jersey Senate 2014. I'm sure you're aware of that name, Geraldo Rivera.
KAYE: He's considering a run. Senator Geraldo, do you like the sound of that, Amy?
HOLMES: He would be a colorful character in the United States Senate. I would look forward to his Senate floor speeches, the press gaggle there. I hope he's not looking for Al Capone's tomb or bank vault.
CARDONA: I think it would be hilarious. So far it's been the House Republicans who have all of the crazies and all of the circus-type of candidates and elected officials, so I think it's the Senate's turn, so why not?
KAYE: I think you're putting him in that category. Am I reading that --
CARDONA: Yes, I am.
KAYE: Calling Geraldo crazy.
CARDONA: Yes, I am.
KAYE: Crazy like a FOX.
All right, nice to have you here. Have a great, great Saturday.
CARDONA: Thank you, Randi.
HOLMES: Thank you.
KAYE: The Boy Scouts considering lifting a ban on gay scouts. Some parents say the policy could ruin the organization.
KAYE: Katie Couric and Larry King dated? Kind of, sort of. Well, she dish good their first and only date to Jimmy Kimmell. She said King took her to an Italian restaurant in Washington when she was 30 and he was in his 50s. Dying to know how smooth Larry King was? Katie says things got pretty awkward after they left the restaurant. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KATIE COURIC: "Larry, where are we going?" He goes, "My place." Oh, mother of god!
COURIC: So we go to his apartment. We walk in, it's covered with proclamation, Larry King day, keys to every city in the country, you know, like all over his apartment. That was sexy. So we sat there, and what can I say. He lunged. I said, Larry, you're such an interesting, nice man, but I would like to meet someone a little closer to my age.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KAYE: He lunged. Wow. Larry said nothing happened between the two when asked about the date a few years ago.
Taking the field in the NFL can be a dream come true for young players. But life after football can be an unexpected challenge, especially for guys who put their bodies through years of abuse. CNN chief medical correspondent Sanjay Gupta caught up with a retired NFL cornerback who is helping other former players adjust to life after the game.
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Lamar Campbell has achieved what many young men only dream of. After four years starting for the University of Wisconsin, he made it to the pros. Injuries ended his NFL career, but Campbell successfully found a new life after the game as a real estate broker.
LAMAR CAMPBELL, FORMER NFL PLAYER: Welcome back to "Life after the Game."
GUPTA: And radio talk show host on the America Sports Network, a platform he uses to educate other players about transitioning to life after football as well as addressing injuries he can't really see -- repeated hits to the head.
CAMPBELL: I don't think we called it a concussion until you were knocked out on the field.
GUPTA: As a player, he didn't know that concussions can cause serious injury to the brain. No Campbell says playing football takes years off a player's loss. He's also suffered memory loss.
CAMPBELL: There are situation when I don't remember certain series. I would be out there and not realize what was going on.
GUPTA: While he was never diagnosed, looking back, Campbell believes he's had over 10 concussions in his football career and believes players today need to recognize the symptoms and be willing to let their brains heal. A year ago, Campbell considered donating his brain for research in chronic traumatic encephalopathy or CTE.
CAMPBELL: I wrapped my brain around it for a long time. I think my decision was made. It was just the timing of when to tell my family.
GUPTA: For him it's all about giving back to the game, making it safer for future generations, including his son should he follow in his father's footsteps.
Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN reporting.
KAYE: Welcome back. It may be the eve of the Super Bowl, but controversial anti-gay remarks from Chris Culliver, backup quarterback on the 49'ers, has been getting a whole lot of attention. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What about gay guys, do any of them approach you?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No. I don't do the gay guys. I don't do that.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are there any on the 49'ers?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No. They don't got no gay people on the team. You know, they got to get up out of here if they do. Can't be with that sweet stuff.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is that true?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's true.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They might be able to play well.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No. You can't be in the locker room -- no.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KAYE: That was on Direct TV's "The Artie Lange Show." Within hours, public outcry led to an apology by Culliver and this statement by his team, "The San Francisco 49'ers reject the comment made Tuesday and have addressed the matter with Chris. There is no place for discrimination within our organization at any level. We have and always will proudly support the LGBT community."
This week the Boy Scouts of America announced it's considering dropping its ban on gay members. But in an op-ed for the "New York Post," one scout parent argued against the change saying this, "Imagine that a group of girls is going on a long camping trip supervised by volunteers who are young men you barely know. Would you let your 15-year-old daughter go? Why should our common sense response be different if the 15-year-old is a boy and the possible even if not likely to be acted on sexual attraction of the adult supervisors is homosexual rather than heterosexual?"
The parent who wrote that, Ed Whelen joins us now from Washington. He's also president of the ethics and public policy center. Joining us via Skype is Eagle Scout Zach Wahls, the executive director of Scouts for Equality. Good morning to both to you. Ed, I'd like to start with you. In that op-ed, are you implying in your argument against lifting the ban that homosexuality is synonymous with pedophilia?
ED WHELEN, PRESIDENT, ETHICS AND PUBLIC POLICY CENTER: Not at all. I not the example I give indicates the opposite. What's at issue is an organization that has long stood in defense of traditional American moral values. It's attracted parents and supporters from churches, precisely because it's in defense of those values.
The Supreme Court has held that the Boy Scouts have a constitutional First Amendment right to pursue their values and to exclude leaders whose presence would be inconsistent with the values. That includes not just gays but atheists. We can respect and do respect our fellow citizens who are gays or atheists. We love our relatives and friends who are gays or atheists. But we are not obligated to regard them as suitable to be scout leaders.
ZACH WAHLS, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF SCOUTS FOR EQUALITY: I think it's interesting that that is going into this traditional emotional values framework. I think what he's trying to do is define this as a biblical fundamentalist tradition that's become popular in the U.S. over the last 40 years. The reality is that there are Christians who are applauding the BSA for this proposed policy change, including the United Church of Christ, one of the BSA's largest top sponsors who on Friday stated, quote, "The ban is inconsistent with the values of dignity and respect that serves the foundation of the scouting program." We couldn't agree more.
Even though I might be talking about respect, respect for him is a one way street. Nobody's calling for the exclusion of Baptists or Mormons or Catholics, or frankly, anybody who holds Ed's point of view. We're saying the scouts should be an inclusive program that's experiencing a large amount of inclusivity because we believe in the values that constitute the program.
KAYE: Let me ask you about a woman, Jennifer Tyrell. She was kicked out of the scouts. She is a lesbian mom who was a den leader for her son. Is she a threat?
WHELEN: The question is whether a private organization can have --
KAYE: Answer that first.
WHELEN: I don't know this woman. How could I possibly judge whether she's a threat? The fact of the matter is that organizations have all sorts of general rules that they adopt because they're sensible, and we don't have to defend every particular rule.
The problem here is if the Boy Scouts, if they abandon the rule and adopt the notion that different troops can have different policies, it's completely workable. It will invite legal attacks on the troops that maintain the traditional policies. And Zach and his cohorts will not call a peace truce. They're going to realize that the Boy Scouts can be intimidated. And they're going to continue to intimidate them. This is just an unstable stopping point. It's just a path to further surrender.
WAHLS: As somebody who spent 12 years in the organization, I simply have to disagree. We're appealing to the traditional values that have been a part of the Boy Scouts from the very inception in 1903. I feel that moving forward, this is going to be a part of the program that is fostering inclusiveness and applying the values and the lifelong principles of the Boy Scouts to the entire population of young American men, not just those who happen to be straight.
Further, to your point about whether or not this is something that is an unworkable legal solution. On a national poll with key three of the Boy Scouts earlier, presidents of the board said that currently -- with the current ban in place, we don't want to find ourselves in a position where a judge is telling us that we need to expand our policy even further than we're going here. Even though you might be looking at this one way, the BSA certainly isn't taking that position at all.
KAYE: Ed, you mentioned this change in policy would deprive the troops of protection. Protection from what? What do they need protection from?
WHELEN: They need protection from legal challenges to their decision to exclude gay leaders. The national Supreme Court organization won that victory 13 years ago. They're throwing it away in a way that would expose local troops and volunteer leaders to lawsuits by activists like Zach.
KAYE: Would you want your son to be in the scouts if he was gay?
WHELEN: You know, I think a question like that directed at my son is a rude question. But let me answer it this way -- I would not have put my son in a troop with an openly gay leader or an openly atheist leader. And lots and lots of other parents and most vibrant part of the Boy Scouts believe the same.
Zach can cite one denomination with this proposal. There are plenty of folks who aren't. I think the Boy Scouts are fixing -- please let me finish. This would be an epic failure in leadership if they were to cave to financial pressure that Zach and others are putting on them. This isn't a decision to be made on the merits. This decision is being made in the face of financial pressure, the almighty buck. What sort of lesson is it to scouts if the national organization would cave because of that rather than principle?
KAYE: Zach, the final word?
WAHLS: To be clear it's not just the UCC that weighed in. Currently the Mormon Church and Catholic Churches, hardly denominations known for their liberal --
WHELEN: They're not going prove this.
KAYE: Let him finish it.
WHELEN: Don't you dare suggest they're going to approve this.
KAYE: Ed, let Zach finish, please.
WAHLS: No, I mean the point is simply that while there may be some who are very, you know, opposed to this policy position, there's a vast difference between being opposed to gay marriage and opposing the enrichment and development of young men because they happened to be not straight. So while I think Ed's position is one that I'll respect and we're not going remove his son from the program, I think he should understand that the scouts is about respecting the opinions of all the people who want to be members, not just some.
KAYE: Zach Wahls --
WHELEN: You don't respect it --
KAYE: Appreciate the time. Appreciate both of you discussing this.
WAHLS: Thank you. Appreciate it.
WHELEN: Thank you.
KAYE: Thank you.
More CNN SATURDAY MORNING after this quick break.