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STARTING POINT WITH SOLEDAD O'BRIEN

Boy Scouts to Vote on Gay Member Ban; Interview with Tony Perkins; Boy Rescued from Kidnapper; Tourists Raped in Acapulco; Home Improvement Stores to Hire Thousands; When Do Women Look Their Worst?

Aired February 6, 2013 - 07:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome, everybody. Our STARTING POINT this morning: a dramatic rescues. Pictures now, new pictures of a truck dangling over an overpass. Details straight ahead on what's happening there.

And decision day. The Boy Scouts expected to vote on lifting a national ban on openly gay members. We'll tell you why people on both sides of the issue say they're not going to be satisfied with the outcome no matter what.

And, bombs and bunkers and booby traps. More details this morning about that little boy and what he faced when he was being held captive in that underground bunker in Alabama.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Inflated ratings, downplayed risks. The government is suing S&P and now more states are joining the suit.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR, "EARLY START": A late night joke turns New Jersey Governor Chris Christie's weight front and center. Is he fit enough for office? A former White House doctor says Christie is a ticking time bomb.

Then, a relaxing canoe ride almost turns into a nightmare when a whale bumps it. The whole thing caught on camera. You can't miss this.

O'BRIEN: Packed show for you this morning. We're going to talk to Tony Perkins. He's the president of the Family Research Council. Jennifer Tyrell is a former Cub Scout den mother. She was dismissed for being a lesbian.

Congressmen Earl Blumenauer and Elijah Cummings will be joining us. And Tyrese Gibson and the reverend Run have teamed up for a new book. It's Wednesday, February 6, and STARTING POINT begins right now.

Welcome, everybody. Our STARTING POINT this morning is the potentially seismic shift for the Boy Scouts of America. The national council could announce as early as today whether its long-standing ban on gay scouts and gay leaders will be lifted. National leaders are weighing in on both sides of the issue, including the president and governor of Texas.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) GOV. RICK PERRY, (R) TEXAS: Scouting is about teaching a substantial amount of life lessons. Sexuality is not one of them, never has been, doesn't need to be.

BARACK OBAMA, (D) PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The scouts is a great institution that are promoting young people and exposing them to, you know, opportunities and leadership that, you know, will serve people for the rest of their lives, and I think nobody should be barred for that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: CNN's Casey Wian live in Irving, Texas, this morning, where the scouts are headquarters. Good morning, Casey.

CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Soledad. A potentially historic vote that could be taken by the leadership of the Boy Scouts of America on the issue of gays in scouting. The Boy Scouts are considering a compromise.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

WIAN: Leaders of religious organizations that sponsor about a million Boy Scouts and activists pressuring the Boy Scouts of America to end its ban on openly gay scouts and gay scoutmasters can agree on one thing. They are not satisfied with the Boy Scouts' proposal to leave the issue up to local troops.

RICHARD LAND, SOUTHERN BAPTIST CONVENTION: We believe that this is going to be -- if they make this decision it will be a catastrophe for the Boy Scouts.

BRAD HANKINS, SCOUTS FOR EQUALITY: We don't want to see scouting gerrymandered to blue and red districts. So the best solution would be to end discrimination outright.

WIAN: The Boy Scouts won't discuss their proposal. But organization has told leaders of religious groups that the change is motivated by pressure from corporate donors. More than a dozen, including IBM, Merck, and American Airlines have pulled funding from the Boy Scouts according to Scouting for All, a group pushing for an end to the Scout's gay ban.

LAND: What they've said to us and to other religious leaders is we're doing this under pressure and we're going to give people basically what amounts to a local option. You can't have a local option of a core conviction. And in 2000, the Supreme Court said that the Boy Scouts did not have to have homosexual scoutmasters because their belief about sexual morality was a core value. If you make it a local option, it's no longer a core value, and the courts will revisit this.

WIAN: Jennifer Tyrell was a scout den mother that was ousted for being gay.

JENNIFER TYRELL, OUSTED DEN MOTHER: If individual troops can decide, it's a great first step and we would be appreciative of that step and acknowledgment. However, it will mean there's more work needs to be done.

WIAN: Even before the controversy over admitting gays, the Boy Scouts were seeing a decline in membership, which dropped by a third since 1999.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WIAN: The scoutmaster of one local troop in the Dallas area tells us parents of his scouts are talking about leaving scouting if, in fact, the Boy Scouts start to open up to gay members. But activists who support a policy of inclusion say that given the lack of corporate sponsorship, the declining corporate funding, and the declining membership in the Boy Scouts that they need to admit gays for this organization to survive long-term, Soledad.

O'BRIEN: Casey Wian, thank you so much. Appreciate that.

Let's get right to Tony Perkins. He is the president of the family research council. On Monday, the FRC and other groups put an ad out in "USA Today." They urged the Boy Scouts to keep the ban on gays. Thank you for talking with us, Tony. So list for me the reasons why you do not support lifting this ban?

TONY PERKINS, PRESIDENT, FAMILY RESEARCH COUNCIL: We support the scouts and the position they have taken, and for 103 years, they have been helping boys make that journey from adolescence and childhood into adulthood. And they have had a very basic code, a code of honor, code of duty, and a code of morality. They want to hold that and they have every right to do that as a private organization, and we encourage them to do that. That's why 69 percent of their troops are sponsored by churches, because their values are in line with many within the faith community.

O'BRIEN: Some of those in the faith community would support lifting the ban, and I am curious to know if there is a possibility that you are wrong on this particular core value. As you know, historically, there have been core values in retrospect turned out to be flawed. Women who are -- I remember when I was in school. If you were a teacher and you were pregnant, they removed from the classroom. It was considered morally inappropriate to have a pregnant woman in the classroom teaching students. Blacks in the military was considered morally problematic. How come this doesn't fall into the same kind of guidelines?

PERKINS: We're talking about comparing immutable characteristics with characteristics that are not immutable.

And first, the Boy Scouts have had a long history of struggling with an issue of protecting the boys. Last fall they were forced by the court to release about 15,000 pages that identified 1,900 predators within the Boy Scouts. And so in part their policy has been to protect boys to obviously create obviously not a perfect environment but one that is in line with what the parents want to ensure that their children are safe when they go out and go in the scouting activity. O'BRIEN: Let's go back to that. That's a time between 1970, 1999. Those specific documents, called the "perversion files" as you know. Scouts didn't allow gays. So there is a sense -- isn't that indication in and of itself --

PERKINS: You are absolutely right.

O'BRIEN: So my point would be, if you are to -- why would it make a difference to open up scouting to people who are gay?

PERKINS: Certainly --

O'BRIEN: You had pedophiles in your ranks in the Boy Scouts obviously as we have seen from these documents?

PERKINS: Absolutely. You are correct. As I said, they have not been able to create the perfect environment, but they have been doing what they can, and had to pay out millions of dollars as a result of that. The question they need to ask, will this help accomplish our mission as Boy Scout leaders and make for a safer environment for the children under our watch? I don't think they can say that. I think that --

O'BRIEN: Why would it not?

PERKINS: The reason they had this --

O'BRIEN: First off, this doesn't pass the parent test.

PERKINS: I'm a parent.

O'BRIEN: OK, I'm a parent. I have five children, three daughters. My heterosexual neighbor, man, like him, good guy, kids of his own. But I'm not going to let him go camping with my girls. Why would I let a man who was attracted to other males go camping with my boys?

O'BRIEN: But a pedophile has --

PERKINS: That's why last July after -- Soledad, last July after the Boy Scouts did a two-year study on this issue, the overwhelming opinion of stakeholders, parents, troop leaders was let's not change the policy, and that's exactly what the scouts did.

O'BRIEN: Are you saying that someone who is gay is a pedophile, sir?

PERKINS: No, I never said that. You said that. I didn't.

O'BRIEN: I'm asking the question, because you are saying that you would be worried about --

PERKINS: They are trying to create an environment that is protective of children. There is a disproportionate number of male on boy -- when we get on pedophilia, it's male on boy, there's a higher incident rate of that. But we've never said all homosexuals are pedophiles. That's not what we're saying.

O'BRIEN: Why would someone like Jennifer Tyrell, a lesbian and she wants to be a den mother. She'd be a perfect example of contradicting your very point, sir.

PERKINS: You don't make -- you don't make policies and you don't set standards based upon one situation or another situation. This is not just about scout leaders. It would be about scouts that are attracted to people of the same sex. 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?

Look, these folks that want to do -- they are free to set up their own organization. Why do they want to come in and change an organization that's been around for 100 years?

O'BRIEN: Because it's discriminatory.

PERKINS: Why do they need those scouts and parents to accommodate them?

O'BRIEN: Because they think it's discriminatory would be I think the answer that they would give you to that.

My final question would be, do you worry you are on the wrong side of history on this? When we ticked off the changes we've seen, at some point do you think you will look up and say we were on the wrong side of this debate, this is an organization that ultimately stood for discriminating against some people? Don't you worry about that?

PERKINS: For over 100 years, the Boy Scouts have helped boys make the journey into manhood. And the question is, are we going to continue in our mission to provide the safest environment possible for those boys or are we going to cave into corporate dollars. That's the question before the board today.

O'BRIEN: We'll see how the board votes on it. Tony Perkins, nice to have you with us.

PERKINS: OK.

O'BRIEN: We'll hear in the next hour from Jennifer Tyrell. I mentioned her a moment ago. She's a former Cub Scout den mother, a lesbian, and she thinks even if they vote to drop the ban, it wouldn't go far enough. We'll talk to her about that.

Also ahead, we'll talk about this little Alabama boy kidnapped and held captive in an underground bunker for six days. He's now celebrating his sixth birthday. He turns six today. Investigators say they discovered two bombs that had been planted inside that bunker by Ethan's abductor, Jimmy Lee Dykes. We're told there still might be more that they are discovering. Victor Blackwell in Midland City, Alabama, what have they been discovering inside the bunker and some details about the rescue operation, too.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Soledad, the attorney general, Eric Holder, calls this operation exemplary, and even leading up to this operation, the FBI hostage rescue team built a replica of the bunker and rehearsed. We're now seeing pictures from the FBI of this really massive crime scene.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BLACKWELL: Four feet below this spot is the bunker where Jimmy Lee Dykes held five-year-old Ethan Hostage for a week. This is the pipe the FBI says dykes told agents to communicate, and we 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 Junior is a neighbor. He saw the setup in its early stages.

JIMMY DAVIS JR., NEIGHBOR: It was covered up with two sheets of plywood 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 DIVISION: 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 I heard -- I believe I heard rifle shots.

Sources tell CNN what Brian Martin heard was a diversion. Agents rushed in, dykes shot at them, but he was killed. Ethan was rescued.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I never doubted my god, and he answered our prayers.

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

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

BLACKWELL: April McDaniel is a local police officer and 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 his little face light up when he sees the response and how many people really care and love about him.

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

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLACKWELL: And Ethan's mother has released a statement. In part it says "Ethan is safe back in my arms and I owe it to some of the most compassionate people on earth." Soledad?

O'BRIEN: Her letter was so heartfelt. I cannot imagine what they were going through for so many days. Victor Blackwell for us this morning, thanks. Appreciate the update.

John Berman has an update on a story we were showing you a minute ago of that truck dangling off the highway.

BERMAN: Incredible pictures, Soledad. Just in to CNN, new pictures of that truck dangling off an overpass on interstate 95 in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida following a crash. Police say two people were inside the crash. One was removed and taken to the hospital. The other is still trapped inside. You're looking at live pictures right now. We're monitoring developments. A crane is trying to work out some way to pull the truck back. We'll bring you the information as it comes in.

Meanwhile, the nomination of John Brennan as the latest CIA director is opening up discussion on the targeted killing of U.S. citizens affiliated with Al Qaeda overseas. It has also exposed a secret drone base in Saudi Arabia. "The Washington Post" is among several organizations reporting this. The only strike that intentionally targeted a U.S. citizen was flown from that base. Al Qaeda operative Anwar al Awlaki was killed during the attack. The base was established two years ago to intensify the hunt against Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, the Al Qaeda affiliate in Yemen.

And for the first time this morning we're hearing a 911 call from the case of the deadly shooting of a well-known Navy SEAL and his friend. Moments after Iraq war vet Eddie Routh allegedly killed form Navy SEAL sniper Chris Kyle and Chad Littlefield, he drove to his sister's house and told her what he had done. That prompted a frightened Linda (ph) Blevins to call 911.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

LINDA BLEVINS: My brother just came by here, I was (INAUDIBLE) and he now left, and he just told me he's committed a murder.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Okay. Hold on -

BLEVINS: I'm terrified for my life, because I don't know if he's going to come back here. They went out to a shooting range. Like he's all crazy, he's (INAUDIBLE) psychotic. I'm sorry for my language.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

BERMAN: Obviously a terrified call. According to court records, Routh told his brother-in-law he couldn't trust Kyle or anyone else any more, so he killed them before they could kill him. Soledad?

O'BRIEN: Right, still ahead this morning on STARTING POINT, a horrific crime. Six tourists raped at a top tourist destination weeks before spring break begins. Is it safe to visit Acapulco? We've got a live report next.

Looking at business news as well.

ROMANS: The government taking aim at Sandard & Poor's. Is it responsible for leaving us in financial ruin? (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: Welcome back, everybody. You're watching STARTING POINT. the mayor of Acapulco is apologizing for downplaying the gang rape of six female Spanish tourists. He called what happened regrettable, but said it could happen anywhere in the world. What's shocking is where it happened. It happened near a luxurious enclave known as Acapulco's diamond (ph) zone. In response, police have stepped up security. Miguel Marquez breaks down what happened.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Masked gunmen entered the sea front vacation bungalow from the beach around 2:00 a.m. What happened next, horrific. Six women in their 20s and their male companions, tied up with their own cell phone cords and bikinis. The women raped, the men helpless to stop it from happening.

MAYOR LOUIS WALTON: Esta bien, bueno --

MARQUEZ: It's a delicate situation, he says, but we will apply the full weight of the law against those responsible. All the victims, tourists from Spain. One woman from Mexico was left unharmed. Some neighbors say they heard music coming from the beach house late that night, suggesting there may have been a party with no gate, fence, or security, the house easily entered. Invaded from the beach. The shocking crime has struck worry and fear in those who know and love this popular vacation destination.

KATHY CHARELTON, VACATIONING IN ACAPULCO: I'm excited to be here, but at the same time, a little nervous.

MARQUEZ: The attack comes as tens of thousands of teens and twenty- something American spring breakers prepare to ascend on Acapulco for the annual rite of sun, beaches and parties. The city of Acapulco has been an oasis of relative calm in the Mexican state of Guerrero. A place hard hit by drug-related violence. The U.S. state department recommends deferring nonessential travel to northwestern and southern portions of the state. And even Acapulco itself, the best advice exercise caution and stay within tourist areas.

Now, the victims in this terrible case are still in the country, they are in the care of Spanish authorities at the moment and police and law enforcement across every level in Mexico say that they have a lot of evidence that they have gathered and they are hoping, expecting to make arrests soon. They want to put this one to bet and behind them. Soledad?

(END VIDEOTAPE)

O'BRIEN: Oh my goodness, what a terrible case. Miguel Marquez, for us. Thanks, Miguel.

Still ahead on STARTING POINT, when do women look their worst.

BERMAN: Never. O'BRIEN: Oh, John. That is the right answer. Apparently it's not first thing in the morning. A new study, believe it or not, on this. Our STARTING POINT team headed in to talk about this and much more. Back in a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: Welcome back, everybody. I want to introduce our team. Ryan Lizza is back with us, he's a Washington correspondent for the "New Yorker", "New York Times" columnist Charles Blow is with us, and former congresswoman Nan Hayworth joins us as well. Nice to have you all with us this morning.

Let's begin with business news.

ROMANS: All right, futures are up this morning. "Minding your Business" this morning. We've got a busy day of corporate earnings reports. You've got all the futures up today, and the Dow within shouting distance of its all-time high from October 2007. The Dow needs to add another 219 points and it'll be a new record.

Just in to CNN, Home Depot is hiring big this year. It says it will hire 80,000 seasonal workers this year in anticipation of a busy spring season. This is the peak time for home improvement shopping and these are more than they hired last year. 10,000 more jobs than they hired last year. Rival Lowe's announced last month it will hire 45,000 seasonal workers. Remember, this is like the holiday shopping season for home improvement folks. They're hoping there will be more remodeling coming up this summer.

O'BRIEN: When does show up, then in the jobs report numbers?

(CROSSTALK)

ROMANS: It will pop at the end of the month.

CHARLES BLOW, "NEW YORK TIMES" COLUMNIST: How many are going to be in the paint section? Because I can never --

O'BRIEN: Charles says it's a trap (ph).

(LAUGHTER)

(CROSSTALK)

ROMANS: Charles Blow, Home Depot, issues this morning.

(CROSSTALK)

ROMANS: Let me know your zip code and we'll see if Home Depot can do something for you.

Meantime, a Wednesday afternoon can be tough for all of us. Happy Wednesday, folks. Wednesday afternoons, halfway through the week and a few hours until quitting time, ladies, it's even worse for women. A report in "USA Today," says Wednesday afternoons at 3:30 p.m. are when women look their oldest. Why? Workday stress levels, energy levels tank, and apparently it's the delayed effects of those weekend late nights. After a couple of days it kicks in on Wednesday. Not surprisingly, the study says women report Friday is the day they feel the best.

O'BRIEN: And Thursday, apparently, is the day women are most likely to have sex.

ROMANS: Is that what the report says?

(CROSSTALK)

O'BRIEN: I'm just saying, it's in the report, people.

(LAUGHTER)

(CROSSTALK)

ROMANS: I zeroed in when we looked the tiredest and she zeroed in on when we have sex.

O'BRIEN: I believe in looking forward in a positive way.

RYAN LIZZA, "NEW YORKER" WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: This is, I guess, the fundamental difference.

O'BRIEN: Wait, what?

(LAUGHTER)

O'BRIEN: Wednesday at 3:30 is when you look your worst, but look there's hope for Thursday.

BLOW: Right after you look your worst, you're horny.

ROMANS: You need that pick me up.

O'BRIEN: Here is the study.

ROMANS: It's on the cover of the "Life" section of "USA Today if you need to look for yourself.

O'BRIEN: Ahead this morning on STARTING POINT. Two states decriminalized medical marijuana, marijuana rather, could the federal government be next? A new bill going through Congress could help the country profit from pot sales. We're going to talk to Oregon congressman Earl Blumenauer. He's going to join us up next. And governor Christie's ability to serve in office. Now many people talking about that because of his weight.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I worry he may have a heart attack, he may have a a stroke. It's almost like a time bomb waiting to happen.

(END VIDEO CLIP) O'BRIEN: Is it a time bomb? We'll talk about Governor Christie's weight ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)