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CNN NEWSROOM

Manhunt Under Way For Accused Cop Killer; The Legal Case for Killing Americans; Iran: We Decoded U.S. Drone Video; Senate Panel Holding Hearing On Benghazi; FAA Approves Special Dreamliner Flight; Blizzard Watch in New England; "Anonymous" Claims It Hacked Federal Reserve; Atheist Movement Grows in U.S.; Obama to Hand Over Classified Papers

Aired February 7, 2013 - 10:00   ET

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


CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now in the NEWSROOM: pulling the veil back on the United States secret drone program. Today President Obama gives Congress a classified document used to justify killing Americans overseas.

And it was supposed to be the future of flying, but the Dreamliner has been nothing but a nightmare for Boeing.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They've got fuel spewing out the left ward wing quite a bit.

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COSTELLO: Today, one of the planes gets a onetime special permit to fly.

And from the Super Bowl -- to a pre-Grammy performance, some now question whether the children's choir from Newtown is being exploited.

It's the Oscar nominated movie that plays to rave reviews.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Congress should not declare equal those who God created unequal.

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COSTELLO: But one congressman says it gives Connecticut a bad name. NEWSROOM starts now.

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COSTELLO: Good morning. I'm Carol Costello. Thank you so much for being with me. A manhunt now underway in California, a former Los Angeles police officer, 33-year-old Christopher Jordan Dorner is wanted in the murder of a retired cop's daughter and her boyfriend.

Monica Quan, the daughter and Keith Lawrence, her fiance were found shot to death Sunday near their home in Irvine, California. Lawrence was a public safety officer at USC. Quan was an assistant women's basketball coach at Cal State Fullerton.

Just this morning, authorities say Dorner, the suspect, may be involved in three more shootings outside of Los Angeles. At least one police officer is dead and two others are hurt. Authorities are getting clues about the crimes from a manifesto that the suspect, Dorner, apparently posted online.

And they are warning police officers to be on the lookout. Joining me now on the phone from Riverside, California, CNN's Paul Vercammen. What more can you tell us about this manifesto?

PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (via telephone): Well, let me first start by saying that we are here in Riverside very near where the two officers were shot. And we are seeing police on high alert even when we drove up, obviously in a media car.

You can see that the officers had their finger on the trigger of their assault rifle, and they told us, they are now fearing that the suspect could be using information to try to find and pursue other officers.

They also confirmed for us, there have been two separate shootings this morning. One in Corona, California and this involves an LAPD officer. And then the other shooting here in Riverside, about 1:30 this morning, when two Riverside police officers on what they termed to be patrol, were ambushed by the suspect who has military training or boasts of it in that manifesto.

Let me see if I can tell you what he said in the manifesto about all of this. He said, quote, "You are aware that I have always been the top shot, highest scorer and expert in rifle qualifications in every unit. I will utilize every bit of small arms training, demolition, ordinance and survival training."

In this manifesto, he specifically names and warns a lot of LAPD officers. He is a former LAPD officer. And at the end of the manifesto, sort of a bone chilling warning, I have the strength and benefits of being unpredictable, unconventional and unforgiving, do not waste your time with briefs and table tops.

The man they are looking for is conspicuous because he is 6'0", 270 pounds. That is Dorner. As we link these together, this is three separate incidents, the killing of the couple in Irvine earlier this week, as we said confirmation that he's involved in the shooting of LAPD officer in Corona.

Police could not tell me what the officer's condition is and then the fatal shooting of two officers this morning here in Riverside. The other officer in critical condition, the Riverside police say he was shot in the head. That's the latest right here near where these officers were shot in Corona.

COSTELLO: Unbelievable. Paul Vercammen, I know you are following this story. We will have much more in the NEWSROOM later on. Wow. This morning on Capitol Hill the lawmakers who watch over the nation's intelligence community had their hands on classified documents, the topic when U.S. drones can legally kill Americans overseas without trial.

President Obama agreed to the release of those documents, only after caving into the demands of Congress because today in a Senate confirmation hearing lawmakers will grill John Brennan, Obama's choice to lead the CIA. He's also an architect of the drones program and of course one of its most vocal supporters.

Also new today, Iran says it's broken the code from a U.S. drone that it captured over a year ago. Iran says it has unlocked the encrypted surveillance images from the plane. CNN cannot independently verify the authenticity of this video, which is now running on Iranian state television and YouTube.

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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This aircraft has had many flights and countries around Iran. In operations that have taken place in Pakistan, this aircraft has provided guidance.

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COSTELLO: The United States has never confirmed that Iran actually shot down that drone. Only that it somehow vanished in Iran. President Obama had asked Iran to return the drone but Iran refused.

Benghazi back in the spotlight on Capitol Hill, starting this hour, a Senate panel hears testimony on the Pentagon's response to the attack on the U.S. Consulate. Senators were asked questions about an internal review following the attack. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta is among those expected to testify.

A Boeing 787 Dreamliner will take to the skies today but without passengers. One plane with special approval from the FAA will head to Boeing's plant in Washington State after getting a paint job in Texas.

Only the crew will be on board. The Dreamliner's design was revolutionary when it debuted. But its electrical system and battery problems have caused so many headaches. Here's Rene Marsh.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RENE MARSH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): All 50 Dreamliners in the world have been grounded for three weeks and scrutinized after a string of incidents. The National Transportation Safety Board's investigation zeroes in on the plane's lithium ion batteries.

One caught fire in a Japan airlines plane on the tarmac in Boston. Another burned in All Nippon Airways plane flying over Japan forcing an emergency landing. Investigators found the batteries on board both flights overheated. The battery in Boston showed signs of a short.

DEBORAH HERSMAN, NTSB CHAIRMAN: Our investigators are examining not just battery failure, we are looking at what caused that battery failure, but we are also looking at the certification process.

MARSH: The Dreamliner is the first commercial plane to depend so heavily on lithium ion batteries. They hold more energy in a lighter, smaller space and were only allowed under an FAA condition that special safeguards were in place.

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COSTELLO: And Rene Marsh joins us now. There is an NTSB press in about an hour. What can we expect to hear?

MARSH: Well, Carol, take a look at this. I want to show you the problem areas, the two problem areas, the front and the back of the Boeing Dreamliner. That's where these lithium ion batteries are located.

We are expecting to hear a lot about these batteries in this briefing set to begin in just about an hour from now. Specifically, we expect to hear the NTSB publicly question the process that the FAA used to certify that these batteries were safe for flight.

We also expect that the NTSB will question why they weren't able to detect the weaknesses with the batteries during this testing process. But what we will not get, Carol, are definitive answers, as far as what caused these battery fires, the NTSB saying as recently as yesterday they are several weeks away from those answers.

COSTELLO: You will keep us posted I'm sure. Rene Marsh is reporting live from Washington this morning.

Steven Spielberg under fire accused of fudging key facts in his blockbuster movie "Lincoln." Now one lawmaker is demanding changes before the movie comes out on DVD.

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COSTELLO: It's 11 minutes past the hour. Time to check our top stories. Parts of the northeast could get up to two feet of snow between Friday and Saturday in what is called an historic storm. Blizzard warnings have been issued in Massachusetts and Rhode Island. These are some of the possible snow totals in some places snow could fall at a rate of two to three inches per hour.

Take a look at what happened when a 70-year-old man got confused while trying to find a parking spot. You see his Camry. It is suspended over a stairwell caught between a concrete wall and building. Police say the driver mistakenly stepped on the gas and the car flew like a rocket through the guardrail. Amazingly no one was hurt.

Senator Marco Rubio will deliver the Republican response to the president's "State of the Union" address on Tuesday. Rubio will give that response in English and Spanish. The GOP is trying to be more inclusive of Latinos. One of Rubio's aides says the senator is writing his own speech.

In money news, the hacker group "Anonymous" is claiming responsibility for hacking the web site of the Federal Reserve and stealing the contact information of more than 4,000 bankers. That breech is raising questions about the security at the central bank.

Alison Kosik is at the New York Stock Exchange. How did this happen?

ALISON KOSIK, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: How did it happen? Yes, that's a good question. Fed is not giving many details at this point, Carol. Only to say that yes, they are aware that information was obtained by exploiting a temporary vulnerability in a web site vendor product.

The fed goes on to say that the exposure was fixed shortly after discovery and is no longer an issue with the fed only saying that an outside party hacked a Federal Reserve web site.

Keep in mind, the fed, Carol, has many web sites. It's not saying which one was hacked. Only that it didn't affect critical operations. But what Reuters is saying, this was a database that was meant for communication that happens between banks when there is a natural disaster.

Now Reuters is reporting that a group affiliated with "Anonymous," this group took to Twitter on Sunday saying we did it. We took email addresses, phone numbers, all of this stolen stuff and published this on a web site, where the data can be downloaded.

Now keep in mind this isn't the first time this happened. Other sites that anonymous has taken down include Recording Industry Association, Amazon and DOJ. Not so sure why they targeted the fed, but it is raising lots of questions about security.

COSTELLO: It sure does. Alison Kosik reporting live from the New York Stock Exchange.

More and more Americans are saying they are not religious, not religious at all. The question is why? Some feel a growing atheist movement is to blame. We will show you how followers are getting their message out.

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COSTELLO: This morning, we are taking a look at what makes America unique, specifically our melting pot of diversity. It might surprise you that one in five Americans now say they follow no religion at all. In today's "I Am America" piece we look at the reasons why.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COSTELLO (voice-over): Here is a riddle what to comedian Kathy Griffin, actress Julian Moore and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg have in common.

BILL MAHER, TALK SHOW HOST: I am hopefully one of America's most famous atheist.

COSTELLO: They join Bill Maher in counting themselves among those in America who say they do not believe God exists. Various surveys put the number of atheists in America around 5 percent.

According to the Pew study in 2012, one in five people claim they have no religious affiliation at all but why? The answers vary. One reason perhaps is that the word religious is no longer necessarily associated with being a good person.

Then there's a very activist atheist movement underway. Getting its message out not in the mainstream media but on social media, take these Facebook pages, for example. Each has hundreds of thousands of likes as atheists challenge critics on any number of news items and social issues of the day.

Activist atheists have also taken to YouTube with huge audiences following. Meet amazing atheist guy, that's what he calls himself. Here he is rallying against Christian Evangelicals who after the Newtown massacre tried to put the blame on godless schools.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We kicked the Ten Commandments out of schools. We kicked God out of our public school system. I think God would say to us, I'll be glad to protect your children, but you have to invite me back into your world first.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: God didn't save the kids, because he's not allowed in school. So all of a sudden God just respects the law of man? Isn't he an all powerful being?

COSTELLO: Last year, a massive crowd braved the cold on the National Mall for what was billed as the reason rally. Atheists were invited to attend. Speakers pledged to battle prejudice and bias.

SEAN FAIRCLOTH, DAWKINS INSTITUTE: I am here for those children in Texas and other states being told lies about history and science printed in taxpayer funded textbooks. It's going to stop.

COSTELLO: Atheist.org is putting its message up on billboards across the country. This one in Patterson, New Jersey, home to a large Muslim population reads, "What do you see, 37 million Americans know myths, when they see them." It's written in both English and Arabic.

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COSTELLO: Food for thought. Our series "I Am America" continues tomorrow. We will take you to a small Iowa town that has become a symbol for religious and racial tolerance.

Coming up next in the NEWSROOM, a special expanded edition of Talk Back, three guests with unique perspectives, three topics, and of course, your responses. First question today: Are the Newtown kids being exploited? Facebook.com/CarolCNN or send me a tweet @CarolCNN.

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COSTELLO: It's 23 minutes past the hour, time to check our top stories. Police near Los Angeles are frantically searching for a former police officer. They say this man, Chris Dorner. He may have shot three police officers earlier this morning killing one of them. Police say he's armed and dangerous. He's also wanted for the killing of a woman and her boyfriend in Orange County.

Today President Obama expected to turn over classified documents that seek to justify drone strikes that target and kill Americans overseas. The Senate Intelligence Committee will get a chance to look at these documents. The Obama administration has come under fire for its drone strike policy.

A congressman from Connecticut is asking Steven Spielberg to fix a mistake in the movie "Lincoln" before it comes out on DVD. The film shows two Connecticut law makers voting against the amendment to end slavery. But records show that all of the lawmakers from Connecticut voted for it. We will see if Steven Spielberg comes through. I'm thinking, not.

All right, today something new in the NEWSROOM, talk back for 30 minutes, three topics, great guests, your input. Let's get going. Today's first question, are the Newtown kids being exploited? Suddenly the Newtown kids are stars, they seem to be everywhere, at the Super Bowl.

Then at a Knicks game, and there's a movie in the works about a mentally ill child whose illness is trigged by the Sandy Hook tragedy. To some close to Newtown, it's crossed the line.

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RUDY MARCONI, FIRST SELECTMAN OF RIDGEFIELD, CONNECTICUT: The bottom line to us anything whether it's based on, inspired by mental health that concerns Newtown and that tragedy, the wound is still way too fresh for anything to be done like that.

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COSTELLO: And now we learned that Eve Network, home of Joan Rivers, the Fashion Police and the Kardashians will feature the Newtown kids via satellite in the Grammy red carpet pre-show to sing the wildly popular song, "Call Me Maybe." You know, the one about the girl who finds over a guy who turns out to be gay.

Call me tacky, maybe. Sabrina Post, whose choir will sing on Grammy night, disagrees, saying the appearance benefits the kids and the town.

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SABRINA POST, SABRINA'S ENCORE PRODUCTION: Anything we can do given our talents to help that specifically is to me a really great thing and the line should not be drawn as long as it benefits that purpose.

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COSTELLO: Her group also recorded a version of "Somewhere Over The Rainbow" with downloads raising money for a youth organization in Newtown. Still as media critic Howard Kurtz says dragging the kids in front of the cameras again and again seems more about ratings than anything else. Talk Back question for you today: Are the Newtown kids being exploited? Facebook.com/CarolCNN or you can tweet me @CarolCNN.

And joining me now to discuss this topic and more, Pete Dominick, co- hosts of "Political Talker" on Sirius XM Radio, Jason Johnson, political science professor at Ohio's Hiram College and chief political correspondent for "Politic365" and Amy Kremer, chairwoman of the Tea Party Express.

Welcome to all of you. It's our inaugural expanded -- I'm excited. Amy, I'd like to start with you. You have kids, I know, Pete, you have kids, too, but I'll just flat out ask you the question. Are these kids of Newtown being exploited now?

AMY KREMER, CHAIRWOMAN, TEA PARTY EXPRESS: I do think they are being exploited. You know, ultimately it's up to the parents whether or not they participate in these things. But I believe they are being exploited, possibly for ratings, but also to push this liberal leftist agenda about gun control.

I mean, you are not -- no one is talking about the kids dying on the streets of Chicago every day. So I do think it's being exploited and I would hope that the parents would say no.

COSTELLO: A lot of our Facebook friends agree with you. I got this comment from Frank. He said unfortunately these kids are used as pawns to promote the liberal agenda of gun control. Pete Dominick, you have kids, would you want your kids dragged out to sing at the Super Bowl, if they experienced a tragedy like that?

PETE DOMINICK, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Yes, if it helps them cope with it, if that's something they want to do, I would talk to them about it. But first of all I push back with Amy's framing this is a liberal leftist agenda of gun control.

We are having an important conversation from liberals all the way to conservatives across the spectrum about what we can do to prevent these massacres. Of course, she's also just wrong about people not talking about what's happening in Chicago.

President Obama specifically mentions Chicago almost every time he talks about this. The problem isn't mass shootings. The problem is the kind of violence that happens in high poverty areas in places like Chicago. But we are having this conversation as a result of Newtown, I think. That's good and it's healthy. We are getting somewhere. We are.

COSTELLO: I take issue with one part of what Pete said. Jason, I'll pose this to you. I haven't seen President Obama go to Chicago and talk about murders on the streets.

JASON JOHNSON, CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, POLITICS365: No. Hidia Pendleton who was in the inauguration parade get shot a week and a half later in Barack Obama's neighborhood and he's never said that young lady's name at all. I think this is tacky. I think this is gaudy. OK, what's "Call Me Maybe" have to do with a bunch of kids getting shot inside their elementary school, OK. I think it's tacky on the part of the parents.

We've seen this before. The Jersey girls went too far after 9-11. There was a point at which you are no longer talking about the issue. You are talking about the people involved. That doesn't help raise money, it doesn't raise awareness. It's not going to move anything through Congress.

COSTELLO: Having this conversation is circular. For example yesterday, Democrats in Congress called on these movie stars and comedians from Hollywood to come in and talk about gun control, but they were preaching to the choir, Amy.

KREMER: Look, ultimately, it's the parents' decision, but I think it says something about society, there's a demand for this. That these kids are at the Super Bowl, then at the Grammy's, so on and so forth. I mean, everybody grieves differently.

And I'm sure that some people want this all to fade into the background, so that they can grieve because it wasn't that long ago, and it's difficult for everyone. I mean, it breaks my heart, you know, and I remember the day it happened.