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Five-year-old Rescued; Immigration in Focus on Capitol Hill; Best Schools for Your Money

Aired February 5, 2013 - 09:00   ET


CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now in the NEWSROOM, safe and sound.


SHERIFF WALLY OLSON, DALE COUNTY ALABAMA: He's been through a lot. He's endured a lot.

COSTELLO: Relief and hope this morning as 5-year-old Ethan is recovering after being held hostage in an underground bunker.

OLSON: By the grace of God, he's OK.

COSTELLO: This hour, find out how the boy was saved, from storming the bunker to reports of secret cameras, even the U.S. military was involved.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right, we've lost lights.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right, we're going to a manual override.

COSTELLO: New reports this morning. Did last-minute electrical upgrades cause that power outage during the Super Bowl? Today we're on the ground pressing the city and the power company to tell us what happened.

DAVID LETTERMAN, HOST, LATE SHOW WITH DAVID LETTERMAN: Yes, Super Bowl, a power outage during the middle of the Super Bowl in Louisiana. Don't worry, FEMA said they will be there no later than Thursday. No later than --

COSTELLO: They're trapped in a four-alarm fire. Five firefighters barely escaping the blaze. The amazing story from Baltimore this morning.

And Scout's honor. The Boy Scouts, more than three million strong considering dropping its ban on gay members.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: After decades of being out of the closet, the Boy Scouts of America forced me back into the closet with its "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy.

COSTELLO: The fight going nationwide, the cause on the Scout's doorstep this morning, petitions for more than a million of them signed asking the ban be dropped. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Scouting was a real refuge for me. It was a place where I didn't have to deal with my sexuality and I felt accepted regardless.

COSTELLO: Ahead the motto and the movement.

NEWSROOM starts now.


COSTELLO: And good morning. Thank you so much for being with me. I'm Carol Costello.

This morning, little Ethan is waking up safe and sound. This is the Alabama boy being whisked into a hospital to be checked out after a violent end to his six-day ordeal, but questions, so many questions remain over his rescue from that underground bunker and the armed killer who dragged him there.

How exactly did hostage taker Jimmy Lee Dykes die in the raid? How did authorities see Dykes holding a weapon, a key development in deciding to act immediately, and what was the explosion at the time of the raid? Was it tactical or did Dykes plant explosives around the bunker as some neighbors feared?

But for the moment at least a small town community is celebrating the boy who has been at the center of their prayers is unharmed and in good spirits.


OLSON: It's a relief for us to be able to reunite a mother with her child.

COSTELLO (voice-over): Sheriff Wally Olson speaking after the 5-year- old we've come to know as Ethan was rescued from his six-day nightmare.

OLSON: He's a very special child. He's been through a lot. He's endured a lot and it's by the grace of God that he's OK.

COSTELLO: It happened Monday afternoon, negotiations broke down and authorities saw that Jimmy Lee Dykes, the man who kidnapped Ethan and held him in that underground for nearly a week, had a gun. They stormed the bunker.

BRYON MARTIN, NEIGHBOR: I heard a big boom and then I heard -- I believe I heard rifle shots.

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And give us a sense, how loud of a boom? I mean, very loud?

MARTIN: Oh, yes, literally made me jump off the ground and scared me that much.

COSTELLO: Dykes was dead. Ethan, he was OK and taken to a local hospital.


COSTELLO: Alabama State Senator Harri Anne Smith was with Ethan's mother right after she got the news.

SMITH: She hugged me and she thanked me. And she was a little nervous but there were smiles all round. Lots of smiles, I'm sure lots of hugs and lots of kisses going on right now.

COSTELLO: Terrica Singletary was on the bus last Tuesday when Jimmy Lee Dykes shot and killed the bus driver and kidnapped Ethan.

TERRICA SINGLETARY, WITNESS TO KILLING, ABDUCTION: I was just praying to God Ethan was OK. Because I thought that horrible man, after what he done to Mr. Poland, I thought he was going to hurt Ethan. But now that Ethan is safe I feel happy and relieved.

COSTELLO: Relief indeed.


COSTELLO: All right. Let's go to Alabama from where it all happens.

CNN's Victor Blackwell is there.

And, Victor, you have some information on how authorities were able to see into that underground bunker. How did they get a camera inside there or did they?

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Carol, some information, because this picture is still coming together but I can tell you, there was a U.S. military presence here during this operation, both in personnel and also through technology. The technology gave them the ability to see, quote-unquote, what was going on. We're told that there was some high-tech detection device that was used here, typically used in war zones to find homemade bombs.

But the questions about cameras, the questions about other elements that were used inside this bunker or around it to find out what was inside, those questions have not yet been answered by the FBI or maybe they will not be answered, but I can tell you this, the FBI knows that leading up to this operation into the raid that Jimmy Lee Dykes had a gun, so in some way they could either see that shape or see the actual gun itself, hopefully we'll get those answers.

COSTELLO: Why all the secrecy, though? It's difficult to understand why authorities aren't coming out and saying exactly how this went down.

BLACKWELL: Yes, all they're telling us is that it ended with him being fatally shot. I can tell you that the shooting review board from D.C. is on its way to Midland City to complete that investigation. That has some information hopefully we will get soon.

I reached out to the FBI contact this morning I've been speaking with during this and I said, you know, when are we going to get these answers? He said some of it will take some time because there's still work that's going on. We know there's a bomb technician, a group of technicians here on site to see if there were bombs in this bunker.

We just saw a group of people head up the hill to the property. They have to finish their work. We also know that there will be some things we never find out because they want to protect them for the next time they have to save a child that's been abducted or that someone held hostage in this type of situation.

COSTELLO: Victor Blackwell, reporting live from Alabama this morning.

Let's turn now to politics and a defiant Senator Robert Menendez who is finally speaking out on claims he partied with prostitutes while visiting the Dominican Republic. Those accusations were made by an online conservative publication.

Menendez slammed that publication in an exclusive TV interview with our own chief congressional correspondent, Dana Bash.


DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Can you just answer the allegation that has been out there? That you --


BASH: That you were with prostitutes, sir?

MENENDEZ: The smears that right-wing blogs have been pushing since the election, and that is totally unsubstantiated. It's amazing to me that anonymous, nameless, faceless individuals on a Website can drive that type of story into the mainstream. But that's what they've done successfully. Now nobody can find them, no one ever met them, no one ever talked to them but that's where we're at.

So the bottom line is all of those smears are absolutely false and you know that's the bottom line.


COSTELLO: One of the women accused says she never even met Menendez and never worked as a prostitute. CNN has not been able to verify her story.

But Menendez's troubles don't end there. He also faces accusations of improper travel with a donor whose plane he took to the Dominican Republic. Those trips taken in 2010, but Menendez only paid for the flights, valued into the thousands of dollars last month.


BASH: Senator, if you could explain why it took so long to pay back almost $60,000 in flights that you took with your friend?

MENENDEZ: Well, I was in a big travel schedule in 2010, I was the chair of the DSCC plus my own campaign getting ready for a re-election cycle and in the process of all of that, it unfortunately fell through the cracks that our processes didn't catch moving forward and making sure that we paid.

When it came to my attention that payment had not taken place I personally paid for them in order to meet my obligations.


COSTELLO: Those claims were made by a non-partisan watchdog group, which says it received a tip via e-mail. An aide to Menendez calls the tipsters accusations, quote, "garbage."

Menendez is also one of the eight senators behind a bipartisan push for immigration reform. Today their colleagues in the House, specifically the House Judiciary Committee, will hold a hearing on the immigration issue, the first chamber in the current Congress to do so.

Joining me now is Republican Congressman Trey Gowdy of South Carolina. He's chairman of the immigration and border security.

Welcome, Congressman.

REP. TREY GOWDY (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: Good morning, how are you?

COSTELLO: I'm good. You said that in 1986 Americans thought the immigration issue was settled, that, quote, "In the minds of many the country got the amnesty but it's still waiting on the border security and employment verification." Why should we believe you now? And you're referring to the Obama administration. Some people say that that's just a red herring, that this issue of border security, and by that I mean really you're against, you know, granting amnesty, let's say, for people here in this country illegally.

GOWDY: Well, I certainly don't think it's a red herring. I -- if you want to have the last, last conversation that we're going to have in this country about comprehensive immigration reform, how could you possibly have that conversation if you don't have some modicum of border security and employment verification. And actually quote was not directed to the Obama administration, it's directed toward anyone, Republican or Democrat, who thinks that there's an appetite in this country to continue to litigate this issue every 8, 10, 15 years.

I represent a conservative district and I approached this issue with them last week. Would you be open to a path to legal status, whether that be citizenship or something else, and I was shocked -- meeting with some of the most conservative folks in my district. And they said if you can secure the border, give us employment verification, And guarantee that we don't have to go through this conversation again, we'll be open to it. So that wasn't a dig at the Obama administration. That was a dig at anyone who thinks that we can just continue to litigate this issue every quarter century or so and be OK as a republic.

COSTELLO: Well, on the subject of border security the Obama administration has record deportations, nearly 400,000 in 2011. One study shows the U.S. spends $18 billion every year on immigration enforcement, more than all other federal agencies combined.

I mean, what more can be done?

GOWDY: Well I'll give you two instances, cocaine, a kilo of cocaine is cheaper today than it was when I was a federal prosecutor so we're not doing a terribly good job keeping the drugs out and 2,000 AK-47s went from Phoenix, Arizona, to arm the Mexican drug cartel. So if we really had operational control on the border. I don't think either one those facts would be accurate.

So I realize you cannot hermetically seal the border. And I'm not just talking about the both of them but from a national security standpoint, a law enforcement stand point and just a sovereignty standpoint, I didn't think he's asking too much that we know who is coming in to our country.

First of all, it's not fair to people White House who are following the legal process to southwestern borders. We have two borders so I'm talking about both of them, but from a national security standpoint, a law enforcement standpoint, from a sovereignty standpoint I don't think it's asking so much we know who is coming into our country.

It's not fair to people who are following the legal process to have an unlawful process so it's nativism, it's not xenophobia. It's the sovereign state. We want to know who's coming into our country. I've heard Janet Napolitano give those same statistics that she has operational control if the border.

To be honest with you, I think the fact that our economy is not doing well has as much to do with the downturn in illegal crossings as anything else. If she can explain to me how we missed 2,000 AK-47s going into Mexico I'll be a little more open to hearing her argument for having operational control of the border.

COSTELLO: Congressman Trey Gowdy of South Carolina, thank you so much for being with us this morning.

GOWDY: Yes, ma'am, thank you.

COSTELLO: We're learning new information about what may have led to the 34-minute long Super Bowl blackout. The New Orleans's "Times Picayune" is reporting an upgrade to the Dome's electrical system back in December may be to blame.

But Entergy, New Orleans, the utility that performed the upgrade, disputes that and says there were no power issues during three Super Dome events before the Super Bowl. In the meantime the New Orleans City Council's Utility Committee will hold an emergency meeting on Friday to further investigate that blackout.

Super Bowl MVP Joe Flacco getting his own parade at Disney world. But starting next hour he'll share the spotlight with his NFL champion teammates. Ravens fans are already grabbing prime spots to watch the parade that due to take place a little bit later in Baltimore. Two hours from now.

CNN Renee Marsh is already there as I'm sure are many fans.

Hi, Renee.

Well, I would lip-sync but I'm not --


I'm not going to do it, but you can see all the people there in downtown Baltimore waiting for the parade to begin. We'll get back to Baltimore after a breaking and entering when we get our audio problems fixed.

An asteroid is hurdling toward earth at a mindboggling speed and it's only going to pick up speed. We'll tell you how fast and when you might be able to see it.

But first to meteorologist Indra Petersons has a check on some heavy snow that's hitting the Midwest right now.

INDRA PETERSONS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes. It definitely feels like winter in Ohio. Take a look at some of these storm totals, Ashtabula, 16 inches of snow, seeing similar about a total here you have a foot toward Chagrin Falls, even Xavier, Ohio, just under a foot of message. after low a football. And it just seems like this is a product of low after, continuing t push out of Canada right across the Great Lakes into the northeast, today not going to be exceptional. Looks like the seventh day of consecutive snow across Wisconsin, that's going to tie the record from 1930 and 2004.

We'll be right back.


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

We have new information about the marine veteran accused of killing two other veterans in Texas, one a former military sniper. Police say this man, Eddie Ray Routh, told them in September he was suffering post-traumatic stress disorder and was hurting and that his family didn't understand what he was going through. He was then placed in protective custody for mental evaluation.

Today, Routh is in a Texas jail facing murder charges.

Five Baltimore firefighters recovering this morning, they narrowly escaped serious injury while battling a four-alarm fire at a lumber company. Officials say the firefighters had been ordered to evacuate when two floors of the building collapsed. No word on what caused this fire.

Officials at the Boy Scouts of America headquarters in Dallas, Texas, have a lot of reading to do today. A group of scouts and leaders delivered more than 1 million petitions. They're hoping the organization will vote sometime this week to end its national policy banning gays. NASA says an asteroid is hurdling toward Earth at more than 17,000 miles per hour. NASA also says no need to worry. Asteroid 2012DA14 is not going to strike our beautiful planet on February 15th. It will streak by it. But it will be tugging on Earth's gravitational field and that will cause it to speed up.

Stargazers in Eastern Europe, Asia and Australia may be able to catch a glimpse of the rocky mass goes by, but probably no one here in the United States.

Boeing hopes its 787 Dreamliners may soon be in the air again. The company asking the Federal Aviation Administration, or the FAA, to allow test flights while investigators figure out the source of the jetliner's battery problems. All 50 planes have been grounded.

Don't let the sticker price scare you away. That's the basis for a new survey out this morning of some of the most prestigious universities in the nation. It says when it comes to getting the most for your money, Ivy League schools are a good way to go.

Come on, Alison Kosik.

ALISON KOSIK, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Surprise. You know what the trick is, Carol, the trick is you got to do a little digging to see what the options are out there, because it sounds like you're like me, you hear Yale and you automatically assume that's out of your price range.

But what "Princeton Review" discovered was that some of the best value schools were at these schools, these Ivy League schools. And what it found that are these graduates at these schools, they wind up finishing with student loan debt below the national average. And surprise, yes, Yale is in the top 10. So you're thinking, how's that possible?

Well, students at these schools, they get their costs down and for some it's as easy as applying for grants, in addition to the usual student aid. And many of these students, they can get thousands of dollars in grants, and these grants don't have to be paid back. If you want to find grants, all you have to do is Google the words "college grants", and you're going to get countless options to apply for.

It can really make a huge difference, Carol. In fact, attendance costs for freshmen at public schools on the list is about $10,000 when you factor in those grants and aid compared to the 19,000 initial sticker price. Also, colleges often include textbook prices in their tuition costs and that can scare people away. But nowadays, many students at these colleges are finding cheaper options online or using e-books when it comes to those crazy prices for those textbooks -- Carol.

COSTELLO: OK. So what other schools are on the list?

KOSIK: OK. So what "Princeton Review" did was they separated the best value schools by public and private. So, the public schools included University of Virginia. In fact, U.V. led the list, followed by the University of North Carolina, the New College of Florida, William and Mary and UCLA.

As for the private schools, Swarthmore topped the list, followed by Harvard, Williams, Princeton and Pomona in California. Who knew, Harvard?

See? You need to be smart enough to go.

COSTELLO: Exactly and creative and all that kind of stuff.


COSTELLO: Alison Kosik, thanks so much.

Our talk back question today could be an historic decision in Texas tomorrow: should the Boy Scouts lift its ban on gay scout leaders and scouts? I'll be right back.


COSTELLO: Now is your chance to talk back one of the big stories of the day. The question for you this morning, should the Boy Scouts of America lift its ban on gays?

The Boy Scout oath: "On my honor, I will do my best to do my duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout law; to help other people at all times; to keep myself physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight."

Duty to God, morally straight. Easy to understand, right? Well, maybe it was in 1910 when the Boy Scouts was founded, but I'm willing to bet duty to God and morally straight are more complicated in 2013.

Gay adults, gay children didn't dare reveal themselves a century or even a generation ago. They feared ridicule or worse.

Now, the Boy Scouts of America is deciding whether to lift the ban on gay scout leaders and gay scouts.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: After decades of being out of the closet, the Boy Scouts of America forced me back into the closet with its "don't ask, don't tell" policy. I posed no harm to anyone. I passed all their background checks.

I go to church every Sunday with my family. Lord knows we're philanthropic. I just don't know what they want from us.


COSTELLO: That former scout master and others delivered what they say are 1.4 million signatures to the Boy Scouts of America urging it to lift the ban. Despite this, support will be difficult. The Boy Scouts are backed by churches and other religious organizations who fear gays, especially gay adults, are not morally straight but dangerous and parents should be worried.


PETER SPRIGG, SR. FELLOW, FAMILY RESEARCH CENTER: They have a right to protect their children just from being exposed to the topic prematurely, and they have a right to protect their children from the potential risk of child sexual abuse at the hands of a man who might be attracted to other males.


COSTELLO: It is important to note, according to the American Psychological Association, gays aren't any more likely to molest kids than straight men.

And like it or not, children are exposed to gay people. Ever watch "Modern Family" or "Ellen" or hear NFL players speak out for same-sex marriage? The world is changing. And the question now: will the Boy Scouts change with it?

Talk back question today: should the Boy Scouts of America lift its ban on gays?, or you can tweet me @carolCNN.