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Boy Scouts Delay Vote Until May; Targeting Overseas American Threats; Chris Christie's "Big" Problem; Possible Cut in Raises for Active Duty Tours; North Korea's Propaganda Video; Poor Judgment: One Finger Equals 30 Days

Aired February 6, 2013 - 10:30   ET


CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: All right. You're not going to believe this. So we've been talking for days and days that the Boy Scouts of America was set to make some sort of decision on whether it would lift the ban on gays in the scouts.

Let's head to Irving, Texas. Some sort of decision has been made. What was it Casey Wian?

CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Carol, here's what happened. The Boy Scouts of America has just sent out a statement saying that because of the complexity of this issue allowing gays in scouting and to be scout leaders at the discretion of local troops, they say the issue is so complex, they need more time to get input from their members.

So they are delaying the decision until their annual meeting in May. Now, this is apparently in -- going along with the wishes of a group of Boy Scouts from the state of Utah, obviously very heavily dominated by the Mormon Church. They had asked the national organization of the Boy Scouts to delay this vote.

And apparently, that was one of the reasons why they decided to do it. The issue was very controversial, very complex, it seemed to the -- the proposal seemed to anger both sides of the debate. So what they have decided to do is to wait until at least May before they make a decision -- Carol.

COSTELLO: They did a congressional kick the can down the road. Didn't they, Casey?

WIAN: Certainly did. Certainly did. I don't know how the issue is going to -- is going to get any different in a few months. But they are clearly not ready to make it right now -- Carol.

COSTELLO: All right, Casey Wian reporting live from Irving, Texas.

"Political Buzz" is your rapid-fire look at the best political topics of the day. Three topics, 30 seconds on the clock. Playing -- playing with us today Jason Johnson, chief political correspondent of Politics 365; and professor of political science at Ohio's Hiram College and Republican strategist Ron Bonjean. Welcome to both of you, gentlemen.



COSTELLO: Good morning. First question, the Obama administration says it is A-OK to kill Americans suspected of terrorism overseas.


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

JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: 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 -- is an enemy and therefore could be targeted accordingly.


COSTELLO: So first question, should the U.S. be able to kill American terror suspects without trial, Jason?

JOHNSON: No. Because they are Americans and we are supposed to have rights. And we're supposed to have trials. Look, mistakes can happen in the battlefield. If there are some sort of a shootout going on in Afghanistan or Iraq and people end up dying, that is one thing.

But this -- this is a slippery slope and eventually this could lead to Americans in Europe, this could lead to Americans in the United States. This is horrible policy, liberals and conservatives should be jumping up and down on Barack Obama about this.


BONJEAN: Yes, I think that this needs to be looked at very carefully. You know, if that American is actually -- it's proven that and you see he's taken up arms against our soldiers and is -- and he's advocating against our country, then I don't really have a problem with it.

But I do think that Congress needs to be much more involved, they need to be -- they need to be treated equally, they need to be given more -- they need to have more over sight powers over this -- over this program, because, yes, it is a slippery slope and we need to be careful with it.

COSTELLO: OK, on to question number two. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie jokes about his weight, but President Clinton's former doctor says she fears Christie will die in office because of his obesity. Christie later addressed his weight problem.


GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: If you talk to anybody in this room that has struggled with weight, what they will tell you is that every week, every month, every year, there is a plan. And I'm making the best effort I can. And sometimes I'm successful and other times I'm not. (END VIDEO CLIP)

COSTELLO: Well, let's be honest, he's not going to be president if he's obese, so the question now, "What should Chris Christie do about his weight?" Ron?

BONJEAN: Yes, I think this could be -- he could turn this into an advantage. I mean, if he put himself on a diet and exercise program that became inspirational to Americans, that could help him run for president, as he slowly worked off the weight. And sure, there would be problems and slip ups like he is talking about, but it would really humanize him. I'm not talking about him making him a Republican Richard Simmons, but it could be very inspirational too.

COSTELLO: That's like a scary image in my mind now, Ron. Jason?

JOHNSHON: He would need a much bigger fro, actually, to do that. But you -- look, I think it's a very good idea. It worked for Bill Clinton; it worked for Mike Huckabee. Americans want to see you lose weight. And -- and we don't have problems with celebrity politicians any more. He should go on "The Biggest Loser", he should go on different kinds of programs to help people lose weight.

He is about 100 pounds and a good running mate away from being Republican nominee in 2016. He should not waste the next three years still the way he has.

COSTELLO: OK, on to the third question. Chris Rock, the comedian, on Capitol Hill to testify about gun control. I wonder what he'll say?


CHRIS ROCK, COMEDIAN: You don't need no gun control. You know what you need? We need some bullet control. We need to control the bullets. That's right, I think all bullets should cost $5,000; $5,000 for a bullet. You know why? Because if a bullet cost $5,000, there would be no more innocent bystanders.


COSTELLO: OK, that clip was from a Rock HBO special. It's been off seriousness. Nothing drastic has happened since the Newtown massacre. Question: "What do you want Chris Rock to say to Congress?" Jason?

JOHNSON: I want him to go through a complete routine. One thing we've seen was like Stephen Colbert when he went and talks about immigration. Members of Congress will listen to celebrities much more than they listen to regular people. So I want Chris to have a complete routine, make us laugh, get his best writers together and talk about the fact that we need reasonable gun control. He wants to own a gun, lots of African-Americans want to own guns, he needs to bring in the race, the culture issue. I think would be fantastic.


BONJEAN: Yes, I know, I think he needs to do that. Absolutely, I agree with Jason on that. And I think he can make some excellent points, but I don't know if it will really have an impact.

What I do think that he could do is also talk about mental health issues or, as he said, instead of bullet control, mind control. Let's get -- let's figure out ways to raise mental health awareness and get -- and understand what goes into the minds of these people that create these tragedies and see if we can prevent them.

COSTELLO: All right, thanks for playing today, guys. Jason Johnson and Ron Bonjean.

JOHNSON: Thank you.

BONJEAN: Thank you.

COSTELLO: OK. More on our breaking news this morning. The Boy Scouts of America has decided to delay its vote on a proposal to allow local troops to decide whether to allow openly gay members and leaders. The organization says it simply needs more time to get input from its members. The vote will now be held in May.

On the phone right now, James Dale, he was expelled from the Boy Scouts for being gay. James, what do you make of this?

JAMES DALE, FORCED OUT OF BOY SCOUTS FOR BEING GAY (via telephone): I think the Boy Scouts are really delaying the inevitable. They need to change and they need to do it as soon as possible. If this allows them to get their -- their ducks in a row and do the policy and wanted to do it right, which is ending all discrimination in every single troop, then I think it's a good thing. If this is another excuse of delaying what they should have done 23 years ago, that's a totally different story.

COSTELLO: I guess you could look at it this way. So much pressure is being put on the Boy Scouts right now, that maybe -- maybe they had made their initial -- initial decision you know in allowing the local troops to decide whether to lift the ban, and maybe they are stepping back and saying, wow, there is so much political pressure, there is so much pressure coming from everywhere, we're going to pause.

DALE: Yes. I mean, I think -- I think the pressure, aside from (INAUDIBLE) very recently the biggest pressure they are seeing are that 21 percent of their members who walked out the door, because they said they don't want to be a part of an organization that discriminates. That's the biggest pressure, the pressure from their own members and Americans voting with their feet, saying, "I don't tolerate discrimination in a youth organization."

COSTELLO: James Dale, thank you so much for your insight. We appreciate it. Again, the Boy Scouts of America delaying its decision on whether to lift the ban on allowing gay members and gay scout leaders, they will make that decision now in May.

We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) COSTELLO: Just days before he's scheduled to leave office, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta is recommending military pay raises be cut due to budget uncertainties tied to that upcoming sequester. The pay raises could be reduced to about one percent for military members. We're talking active military.

Joyce Raezer joins us now on the phone, the executive director for the National Military Family Association. Her husband is retired from the Army. Welcome, Joyce.


COSTELLO: So -- so when you hear this news, what pops into your head?

RAEZER: Oh, Carol, this is just devastating. It will be devastating to morale. Military families know there needs to be -- there need to be defense cuts, and all they have been hearing, especially in the last few months, is things are going to be cut. But they thought pay was going to be off the table.

That was the original word on the sequestration. To say now -- to hear now that while we're still at war, pay raises might be cut to a level lower than in the civilian sector, is going to be very difficult for families who are trying to manage lives while service members are still at war, getting ready to go to war, coming home from war, thinking about other hot spots in the world where they might need to be going.


RAEZER: And dealing with --

COSTELLO: Give our viewers -- give our viewers a sense of, you know, we have men and women risking their lives every day overseas fighting for our country, give us a sense of how much money on average these soldiers, these Marines, these Navy personnel make.

RAEZER: Well, I mean, it varies by rank, of course. And what has happened over the course of time is that Congress and the Department of Defense have gotten pay raises to a point where military folks on average are making what their civilian age and educational peers are making at least on paper. But then when you look at the long hours these folks are putting in at home, sometimes to support war efforts or to support other missions, they are not being paid overtime.

They are experiencing family separations. They are moving many times every two to three years, which means that military spouse is having a hard time contributing to the family income, because they are constantly looking for a new job, or starting in at the entry level all over again.

So to hear that -- that link between average civilian pay raises, private sector pay raises and military pay raises is going to be broken, it's going to be very hard for these folks to take. COSTELLO: OK. So last question for you, if you could speak directly to every member of Congress, because this is happening, because of that sequestration threat, right? Congress can't get its act together on the budget in this country. So if you could look into the eyes of every member in Congress, what would you say?

RAEZER: I would say think about what we're asking our military families to do in support of this nation and don't make them the first place to find cuts. Support what they are doing in service to our country.

COSTELLO: Joyce Raezer, thank you so much for joining us this morning. We appreciate it.

RAEZER: You're welcome. Thank you, Carol, for asking about military families.

COSTELLO: Any time, Joyce. Anytime.

All right. We've been telling about Chris Rock, he is just about to testify on Capitol Hill. You can see actress Amanda Pete testifying before Congress on gun control right now.

We'll bring you more after a break.


COSTELLO: 47 minutes past the hour. Time to check our top stories.

If your flight takes you through Atlanta, watch out for delays. Thick fog earlier this morning kept many planes from landing at Hartsfield- Jackson, and while the fog is cleared, the airport is still seeing delays of up to 45 minutes.

Iran's president got a rude welcome in Egypt. While shaking hands with supporters in Cairo, he was pelted with shoes. That is a major insult in the Muslim world. Egypt's public prosecutor says four men did the throwing. They were arrested and later released on bail for about 75 bucks a piece.

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" an IPO is, quote, "not necessarily inevitable". Dick Costello noted that many companies rely on mostly private financing.

Captain James Tiberius Kirk is headed back into outer space. Let's take a look.


WILLIAM SHATNER, ACTOR: It's five year mission to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no man has gone before.

(END VIDEO CLIP) COSTELLO: It was actor William Shatner, of course, who played Captain Kirk of the Starship Enterprise. Now Shatner is scheduled to be beamed up via video link to the International Space Station. He will chat tomorrow with his fellow Canadians astronaut, Chris Hatfield, who is up there on a five-month mission. The men already have tweeted one another. The call will be broadcast on the Canadian Space Agency's Web site, and we'll carry it live tomorrow. That comes your way at 10:40 Eastern.

All right. Talk Back question for you today: Should the United States be able to kill American terror suspects without trial?

This from Madji, "Absolutely. The real question is what would the government have done 30 years ago?"

This from Brian, "Absolutely not. We're supposed to be the good guys. We should do what's right."

This from Miriam, "Remember McCarthyism? It can be slippery slope in the hands of the wrong administration. There's a lot of fear mongering in this country, so I see it as a potentially dangerous thing."

This from David, "If it talks, walks, and lives with terrorists, I'll say he is one and has paid his money and is taking his own risks."

And this from Andrew, "If they are allowed to do it to Americans overseas, they will find a way to justify it on our own soil. The government needs to stop infringing our rights."

Keep the conversation going. or tweet me @CarolCNN.


COSTELLO: Now, take a deep breath and pause. In the words of The Ramones, "Come with us and find the pleasures of the journey 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: At first, I didn't think it was real. But it's real. Kind of scary. As you know, North Korea is intent on developing a nuclear weapon.

I'm no lawyer, but I think it's safe to give you this free legal advice. If you're standing before a judge, show respect, answer truthfully. And do not give him a one fingered salute. CNN's Jeanne Moos shows us how one digit in court means double digits in jail.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Do not -- repeat, do not try this in court.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Come back again.

MOOS: 18-year-old Penelope Soto didn't just flip the judge the bird right of the bat. She built up to it. Charged with possession of Xanax, she and Miami Dade circuit judge Jorge Rodriguez-Chomat got off to a rocky start at this bail hearing.

PENELOPE SOTO, DEFENDANT: I own a lot of jewelry, all right.

JORGE RODRIGUEZ-CHOMAT, MIAMI DADE CIRCUIT JUDGE: How much would you say your jewelry is worth? It's not a joke. We are not in a club now.

MOOS: Soon, it started to sound like a scene out of "My Cousin Vinnie".

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you on drugs?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Drugs, no. I don't take drugs.

RODRIGUEZ-CHAMAT: Have you had any kind of drugs in the last 24 hours?

SOTO: Actually, no.

MOOS: And Soto had no prior arrest, so the judge set bail at $5,000.


SOTO: Adios.

MOOS: But adios was a little too sassy.

RODRIGUEZ-CHOMAT: Come back, ma'am. Come back.

MOOS: The judge upped the bail. Count one will be 10,000.

SOTO: Are you serious?

RODRIGUEZ-CHOMAT: I am serious. Adios.

MOOS: So Soto flipped the bird.

RODRIGUEZ-CHOMAT: Come back again.

MOOS: And the judge flipped.

SOTO: What's up?

RODRIGUEZ-CHOMAT: I believe I heard you saying to --

SOTO: Yes I did. I'm not going to deny.

RODRIGUEZ-CHOMAT: I believe -- did you say (EXPLETIVE DELETED) to me? Did you say that? SOTO: Actually I -- yes, sir. I did.

RODRIGUEZ-CHOMAT: You did say that? I find you in direct criminal contempt. 30 days in county jail.

SOTO: OK. That's fine.

MOOS: CNN's senior legal analyst says the punishment is on the harsh side but still normal.

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: She was way outside those rules and she had to live with the consequences.

MOOS: Soto's public defender had no comment. Of course, Penelope Soto wasn't the first defendant to let her fingers, I don't mean this finger, do the talking.

At her sentencing in 2010, actress Lindsay Lohan's eyes may have cried but her middle fingernail cried, "FU". Who knows if it was directed at the court or press. The judge's spokesperson said it didn't warrant a reaction.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm holding you in contempt of court.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What did you say?

MOOS: Just don't say.

SOTO: Adios.

MOOS: Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.


COSTELLO: Adios. Thanks for joining me today. I'm Carol Costello.

CNN NEWSROOM with Ashleigh Banfield after a quick break.