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US Post Office Scales Back; Boy Scouts Meet Today; Police Looking for Bombs Near Alabama Bunker; U.S. Drone Base in Saudi Arabia?; North Korea Video Attacks America; Protesters Throw Shoes at Ahmadinejad

Aired February 6, 2013 - 09:00   ET


CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: Happening new in the NEWSROOM -- scout's honor.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: My attitude is that gays and lesbians should have access.


COSTELLO: Today could be decision day for the Boy Scouts of America. Both sides send the battle cry.


RICHARD LAND, PRESIDENT, SOUTHERN BAPTIST CONVENTION: Boy Scouts have a right to have an organization that says that it wants to build boys who are morally straight.

ZACH WALLIS, AUTHOR, "MY TWO MOMS": Ending this ban would uphold the values of dignity and respect that scouting was founded on.


COSTELLO: Also the "American Sniper" shooting and the terrifying 911 call just released.


LAURA BLEVINS, SISTER OF EDDIE RAY ROUTH: My brother just came by here. He's told me that he's committed a murder.


COSTELLO: For the first time, the moments right after a Navy SEAL and his friend were shot to death.

Also, strike two. For the second time this week, baseball and performance-enhancing drugs are in the headlines. This time it's Milwaukee's Ryan Braun being investigated.

And this.


CHRIS BROWN, SINGER (singing): Don't wake me up


COSTELLO: Chris Brown and his community service. New questions this morning whether he really served his 180 hours for beating up Rihanna. NEWSROOM starts now.


COSTELLO: Good morning and welcome to NEWSROOM. I'm Carol Costello. Thank you so much for being with us.

Neither rain nor sleet nor snow nor hail will stop the post office from delivering your letters. Oh, but the economy and e-mail will. Starting in August, the post office will no longer deliver letters and other first class mail to your home on Saturdays. You'll still receive packages. This is just the first of many deep cuts coming to the United States Postal Service.

Athena Jones joins me now. Good morning, Athena.

ATHENA JONES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Carol. You know, you mentioned that package delivery will continue. That's because that's one area that has actually seen growth in recent years. Of course, people are now using e-mail to stay in touch; they're using the Internet to pay bills. And so the Postal Service has seen some big declines in money that's coming in, and so they defaulted on several loans last year. They exhausted a $15 billion line of credit from the Treasury. And so this is all part of cost-cutting measures to try to help put them back on track.

They've already closed offices, they've consolidated distribution centers, they've cut hours at offices. We understand that this move could save them around a couple billion dollars a year, but of course we're going to be waiting for more details in the announcement later this morning, and potentially having them outline several more measures they could be taking.

One big issue here that is unclear is how they're going to go about doing this. The Postal Service has said in the past that they need congressional approval to do something like this, to stop first class delivery on Saturdays, and so we don't yet know how they're going to go about this. But that's something we expect to hear about at 10:00. Carol?

COSTELLO: That's right. In about an hour, we'll carry that press conference live by the United States Postal Service. Athena Jones reporting live for us from Washington.

It's a critical day for the Boy Scouts of America. Its core values have been challenged but unchanged for more than a century. Check back in a couple hours, though. Today, the group could lift its ban on openly gay members and leaders, and instead allow local troops to decide whether they're welcome or not. On this deeply polarizing debate, there is some agreement. Both sides hate the idea of a compromise.


LAND: The Boy Scouts will now lose in court over this local option, because the reason they were able to keep a ban on homosexual scoutmasters in 2000 was because the Supreme Court found this was a core value of the scouts. A local option is not a core value. It's a preference.

WALLIS: Our organization feels that discrimination at any level, whether it's the national or the local level, sends a harmful message to kids, gay or straight. And it's inconsistent with the morals of scouting that, as somebody who went through the program for more than 12 years, that's antithetical to everything I learned.


COSTELLO: Casey Wian is in Irving, Texas, where the national scout leaders are now meeting. So Casey, there really doesn't seem to be any winners in this battle.

CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's right, Carol. The Boy Scouts of America saying that they have put forward this proposal, they're telling religious leaders the proposal to sort of have a compromise, where local troops would be able to decide whether they will admit gay members and leaders, is because the scouts have been losing donations from corporate sponsors who have anti-discrimination policies.

Also, the Boy Scouts of America overall membership has been declining, down by about a third in the last 15 years or so, so they are doing this under pressure.

What we're expect is a vote later this morning by the national leadership of the Boy Scouts of America and we're expecting an announcement one way or the other on whether they're going to continue with this exclusionary policy or offer some sort of a compromise that, as you mentioned, both sides say is not going to be sufficient, Carol.

COSTELLO: Casey Wian reporting live from Irving, Texas, this morning.

Now let's head to South Florida and the edge of disaster. A crash early this morning sends a bakery truck careening through a concrete wall and leaves it dangling from an I-95 overpass in Ft. Lauderdale. Took crews about 90 minutes to secure the truck and drag it back onto the road. Local media reports that one person inside the cab was killed. The other now being treated at an area hospital.

The ex-Marine accused of killing a former Navy SEAL sniper and a U.S. veteran at a shooting range was babbling and acting crazy the night he confessed to the shooting. That's according to Eddie Ray Routh's sister, who called 911.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BLEVINS: Listen, my brother came here. I was (BLEEP). He's now left. But he told me that he's committed a murder.

911 DISPATCHER: OK, hold on --

BLEVINS: And I'm terrified for my life because I don't know if he's going to come back here. He said he killed two guys. They went out to a shooting range. Like, he's all crazy. He's (EXPLETIVE DELTED) psychotic. I'm sorry for my language. I don't know if he's on drugs or not.


COSTELLO: Police arrested Routh shortly after that call. He now faces murder charges. Reports say he suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder. And in an incident last year, he threatened suicide after his dad said he was going to sell his gun.

The search resumes this morning at an underground Alabama bunker where a little boy was held hostage for six days. The FBI now looking for more bombs after already finding two bombs in and around that bunker. A rescue team breached the bunker Monday, pulling Ethan to safety. The kidnaper, Jimmy Lee Dykes, died from several gunshot wounds and, this morning, Ethan is at home. He's celebrating his sixth birthday, and the city is working on putting together a massive birthday celebration for Ethan.

Our own Victor Blackwell is in Midland City, Alabama. And Victor, we're getting a clearer picture of just how far Dykes went to keep authorities out of that bunker.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And Carol, that's right. And we're seeing there was actually meticulous preparation on both sides. Dykes rigged his bunker, but the FBI hostage rescue team actually built a replica of the bunker, we're told by sources, and they rehearsed the day and two days before they went in.


BLACKWELL (voice-over): Four feet below this spot is the bunker where Jimmy Lee Dykes held 5-year-old Ethan hostage for a week. This is the pipe the FBI says Dykes told agents to use to communicate and we now know why he made that request.

A day after the raid, bomb technicians found an explosive inside that pipe and a second explosive inside the bunker.

Jimmy Davis Jr. is a neighbor. He saw the setup in its early stages.

JIMMY DAVIS, JR., NEIGHBOR: It was covered up with two sheets of plywood and nailed together with hinges and stuff as a door to open to it.

BLACKWELL: Authorities say Dykes had reinforced the bunker to keep them out, but they were inside watching. Sources tell CNN the hostage rescue team snuck in a tiny camera. STEVE RICHARDSON, FBI SPECIAL AGENT IN CHARGE, MOBILE DIVION: Mr. Dykes was observed holding a gun. At this point FBI agents fearing the child was in imminent danger entered the bunker and rescued the child.

BRIAN MARTIN, LIVES NEAR HOSTAGE SCENE: I heard a big boom and then I heard -- I believe I heard rifle shots.

BLACKWELL: Sources tell CNN what Brian Martin heard was a diversion. Agents rushed in, Dykes shot at them, but in the end, he was killed. Ethan was rescued.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He answered -- which I never doubted my God and he answered our prayer.

BLACKWELL: A nightly prayer vigil became a celebration of Ethan's rescue and his 6th birthday.

APRIL MCDANIEL, POLICE OFFICER, MIDLAND CITY: Well, this is just the start of it.

BLACKWELL: April McDaniel is a local police officer. She's also a mother. She started a Facebook campaign to collect birthday cards for Ethan. Thousands have responded.

MCDANIEL: I just wish I could be there to see little his face when he sees all the response. And I haven't -- how many people really care and love about him.

BLACKWELL: After a tumultuous week, Ethan's home from the hospital to celebrate and heal.


BLACKWELL: Ethan's mother released a statement in which she thanks who she calls the most compassionate people on earth. And I can tell you, around this community, there are signs popping up wishing Ethan a happy 6th birthday. Some of them say, "Ethan, you are our hero."


COSTELLO: We're so glad he's home. Thanks so much. Victor Blackwell reporting live from Alabama this morning.

We're hearing reports the U.S. government is operating a top secret drone base from Saudi Arabia. Reports from "The New York Times" and "Washington Post" say the U.S. used that base to conduct drone attacks against U.S. citizens in in other countries, most notably that strike that killed this man, American-born al Qaeda operative, Anwar al Awlaki, in Yemen in 2011. The controversial issue is expected to be brought during tomorrow's confirmation hearing for CIA nominee John Brennan.

Lindsey Vonn heading for surgery after her crash at the Alpine Ski World Championships. Vonn tore an ACL and MCL and also broke a bone during the opening day Super-G. She's done for the season, but has her sights set on next year's Olympics. Vonn did release a statement saying in part, quote, "I am also grateful to my fans for the outpouring of support, which has really helped me stay positive. I can assure you I will work as hard as humanly possible to be able to represent my country next year in Sochi."

Talk about lightning striking twice. An Arkansas couple managed to win two lottery jackpots in one week. First, Steve Weaver hit it big on $1 million scratchoff. The next day, his wife Terri (ph), tested their luck and won another $50,000. After the shock wore off, Steve says he feared lottery officials wouldn't believe him.


STEVE WEAVER, LOTTERY WINNER: I almost had a heart attack. I'm serious. I sat down, my heart started going 100 miles an hour, and we, you know, we kept looking back and forth. We kept looking for something wrong. I thought we'd go into a room and get a lie detector test and have to put our hand on a Bible.


COSTELLO: The Weavers say they're saving the money for retirement.

He's the first Iranian president to visit Egypt in 30 years, but Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is not getting a warm reception. In fact, some protesters, well, yep, they threw a shoe at him.

And if you're flying into Atlanta, expect some delays. This was the scene earlier this morning. Yes, it's like pea soup out there. That's the Hartsfield-Jackson Airport, the fog so thick it kept planes from landing.

Meteorologist Indra Petersons joins us with more.

INDRA PETERSONS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Good morning. The good news is we're seeing that lift here. In fact, this ground fog is set to expire any minute now. Earlier this morning, visibility less than a quarter of a mile.

But I want to get to the big story everyone's talking about, the potential for a nor'easter to develop by Friday night in through Saturday morning, all thanks to a low that could merge with a second low that could potentially drop out of Canada. First we're going to see some severe storms, some heavy wind and rain moving up the Eastern Seaboard, and eventually those two will merge. We're talking about some heavy snow, rain and wind moving into the northeast.

We'll be right back.


COSTELLO: Fifteen minutes past the hour. Time to look at -- time to take a look at our top stories.

The power outage during the Super Bowl came as quite a shock except maybe it wasn't. Months before Sunday's blackout, the private electricity company that serves the Superdome upgraded its network. But a newly released memo written back in October shows even after the upgrade, the company was concerned about the reliability of service from its connection point at the Superdome.

In Hawaii a humpback whale gives some tourists a little love. An Arizona couple was paddling a few hundred years up the cost of Maui last week, can you believe this? When their canoe got bumped by a passing whale. No one was hurt. The boaters are calling it a love tap.

Donald Trump is suing Bill Maher for $5 million. That's how much the comedian said he would donate to charity if Trump can prove his father was not an orangutan. The joke was a spoof on Trump pressing for President Obama's long form birth certificate. Maher's only response so far, tweets of laughter.

On that note, we pause and urge you in the words of the Amboy Dukes and come with us and find the pleasure of the journeys to the center of the mind. I give you North Korea's propaganda video set to Michael Jackson's "We are the World". It depicts America's annihilation.


COSTELLO: It sounded like an acid trip but it's scary too. As you know, North Korea's intent on developing a nuclear weapon.

Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is not getting a warm welcome from everyone in Egypt. Several men threw shoes at the Iranian leader as he left a mosque following evening prayers. That is a major league insult in the Muslim world.

Zain Verjee joins us now.

Good morning, Zain.


Yes, it is a pretty big insult in the Muslim world, especially when you're throwing a shoe at a leader of any country like Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Basically, he was there on an official visit. Now, this was a really big deal visit, because an Iranian leader has not visited Egypt in something like 30 years.

So, take a look at this video. This is basically what happened -- he's shaking hands, he's smiling and then all of a sudden a bunch of shoes get thrown at him and these guys are yelling, "You killed our brothers! You killed our brothers!"

Basically, Carol, they were mad about Iran's support for Syria because Iran is Shia and they're saying Iran is funding a bunch of other Shia groups in Syria and killing their brethren.

Now, shoe throwing is becoming a little bit of a trend here, Carol. I don't want you to do it, OK? But President Bush experienced it back in 2008. Remember when that Iraqi journalist took off his show. (CROSSTALK)

CASTELLO: Oh the reflexes!

VERJEE: Exactly. He ducked it pretty well.

Let me show you this other piece of video. 2003, Saddam Hussein's head being dragged through the streets of Baghdad, the statue and all of the people whacking it in the video with their shoes.

So, Carol, if you really don't like someone, that's what you've got to do these days, OK? You've got to pull out your shoe, OK, I'll do it -- at least I have a decent shoe. I don't throw it because I respect you and like you and it's kind of expensive, too.

COSTELLO: It's a stiletto heel, you could stab me with it.


VERJEE: I could, exactly, careful.

COSTELLO: Zain Verjee, thanks so much.

Oh man there's something in the water this morning. The U.S. government says it's got every right to kill American suspected of being al Qaeda leaders? Is lethal force justified against U.S. citizens without the benefit of a trial? It's our talk back question today.


COSTELLO: Now is your chance to talk back on one of the big stories of the day. The question for you this morning: should the U.S. be able to kill American terrorist suspects without trial?

The Constitution is like our secular Bible and its Sixth Amendment guarantees every American accused of a crime to a trial by jury, except maybe for Americans suspected of terrorism who are living abroad. A Justice Department memo says the government has the right to kill an American citizen overseas if they're a senior operation of al Qaeda and poses a, quote, "eminent threat."

The White House says such killings are justified.


REPORTER: This is giving the legal justification for killing American citizens without any trial --

JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Again, I would point you to the ample judicial precedent for the idea that someone who takes up arms against the United States, in a war against the United States is an enemy and therefore could be targeted accordingly.

(END VIDEO CLIP) COSTELLO: It's not like it's never happened. It has. Anwar al- Awlaki, an American, was killed by an American drone in Yemen. The government says he was the terrorist behind the underwear bomber. But the U.S. government didn't bother to bring him to trial, it just killed him.


CHRISTOPHER ANDERS, SR. LEGISLATURE COUNSEL, ACLU: All they have to show is a general view that somebody is doing something bad and hasn't renounced that.

DR. NASSER AL-AWLAKI, ANWAR AL-AWLAKI'S FATHER: I don't really necessarily agree with maybe some of the things Anwar says against the United States. But does that mean they should kill him, you know, outside of the law?


COSTELLO: CNN's legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin says strikes like al- Awlaki's killing are a military matter and the military courts give the president a wide berth when it comes to war. But consider this, if we can kill suspected American terrorists overseas, could we eventually do the same in our own country on American soil? Just how far are we willing to go in the fight against al Qaeda?

Talk back question for you: should the United States be able to kill American terrorist suspects without trial?,, or tweet me at @carolCNN.


COSTELLO: Good morning. Thank you so much for joining us. I'm Carol Costello.

Stories we're watching right now in THE NEWSROOM at just about 30 minutes past the hour.

Investors this morning are looking at fourth quarter earnings from several heavy hitters. CVS Caremark, Yelp, News Corp, and CNN's parent company Time Warner are also releasing results. Time Warner reported little change in revenue for the final three months.

Ringing the bell representatives of the Global Diversity Leadership Exchange.

Twitter recently led an investment firm by $80 million in employee stock. But that doesn't mean the social networking site is going public any time soon. The company's CEO tells "The Wall Street Journal" that an IPO is, quote, "not necessarily inevitable." Dick Costolo noted many companies rely on private financing.

Hello, kitty. That's right. The newest monopoly token is a cat. More than a quarter million people voted online for the new player piece and the winner was announced this morning. The cat will replace the iron. I guess people don't like to do laundry anymore.

It's the first time toymaker Hasbro has let the public choose a token.

In just a matter of hours, we're going to find out if the Boy Scouts will decide to end its national ban on gay members. The debate on the issue has raged in the past week. And conservative voices named a wide range of concerns about allowing gays and lesbians into the Boy Scouts.


RICHARD LAND, PRESIDENT, SOUTHERN BAPTIST CONVENTION: Do parents really want to allow their teenaged boys to go on campouts with men who are attracted to the same sex? They wouldn't let their girls go on campouts with men who are attracted to women.

TONY PERKINS, PRESIDENT, FAMILY RESEARCH COUNCIL: Is that right for Boy Scouts who are out wanting to learn the basic tenets of scouting to have to worry about whether or not the boy in the tent with them is attracted to them? Is that right?

ED WHELAN, PRESIDENT, ETHICS AND PUBLIC POLICY CENTER: I would not have put my son in a troop with an openly gay leader or openly atheist leader.

GOV. RICK PERRY (R), TEXAS: Scouting is about teaching a substantial amount of life's lessons. Sexuality is not one of them.


COSTELLO: Joining me to talk about these concerns -- psychologist Kathryn Smerling and Dale Atkins.

Welcome to both of you.


COSTELLO: Kathryn, I want to start with you. When you hear these kinds of concerns, if someone were saying on the couch, let's say, what would you say to them?