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CNN NEWSROOM

A Los Angeles Ex-Cop Rampage; Iran Claims It Has Decoded Drone; Clint Romesha's Uncommon Valor; Nine Year Old Girl Gives Birth in Mexico

Aired February 7, 2013 - 12:00   ET

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


MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: Ashleigh Banfield, thanks very much.

And welcome, everyone, to NEWSROOM INTERNATIONAL. I'm Michael Holmes, sitting in for Suzanne Malveaux. And we are, as always, taking you around the world in 60 minutes. Here's what's going on out there.

In California, a manhunt intensifying for an ex-cop whose allegedly gone on a rampage shooting three Los Angeles police officers early this morning. One of them is dead. Authorities warn that Christopher Jordan Dorner is armed and dangerous. There he is on your screen there. He is also accused in a double killing in Irvine over the weekend. Now, this all follows a chilling online manifesto in which Dorner allegedly threatens to harm officers and their families.

They are remote controlled aircraft capable of raining down fiery death from the skies. The once secret drone program front and center today. And lawmakers were given details on the use of drones to target American terror suspects overseas.

And the major architect behind the program facing some tough questions on Capitol Hill. Counter terrorism Advisor John Brennan and President Obama's choice to be CIA director. His confirmation hearing begins in about two and a half hours from now.

In Tunisia today, riot police filled the air with tear gas, trying to keep furious crowds under control. Have a look. These are the biggest and loudest street protests in Tunisia since the revolution there two years ago. The one that sparked the whole Arab Spring. A vocal critic of the government was shot dead outside his home yesterday. That infuriated people who say he was assassinated. It was political. They were already unhappy with Tunisia's political situation since the Arab Spring. The new Islamist-led government is accused of keeping down individual freedoms. The people, as you see, not happy. Tunisia's prime minister fired his cabinet and called for new elections hoping to calm tensions. But then his deputy said, well, the party wasn't unified on that and it might not happen. We're watching for more developments.

All right, let's gets back to our top story now. A shooter on the loose in Los Angeles. The suspect, a former cop, is identified as Christopher Jordan Dorner. He was fired from the police force five years ago and he might now be seeking revenge. Dorner accused of shooting three Los Angeles police officers early this morning. One of them fatally. Plus, he is the prime suspect in a double killing over the weekend.

We're covering all angles of this story. Paul Vercammen joins us from Los Angeles, law enforcement analyst Mike Brooks is with me here in Atlanta, and we'll be hearing about the suspect's military background from Barbara Starr at the Pentagon.

Paul, let's go to you first. Bring us up to speed on the hunts for this ex-cop. His former colleagues describing him as armed and extremely dangerous.

PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Michael. And, in fact, in his manifesto he says, "I have a Barrett 50," meaning a Barrett 50 caliber semiautomatic sniper rifle. And behind me you can see that officers are on high alert. That's because not far from here, in Riverside, California, early this morning, Dorner is suspected of fatally killing one officer and critically injuring another one, as they were on patrol here in Riverside.

And then earlier in the morning, in Corona, California, some LAPD officers, who were assigned to security detail of an officer who was mentioned in the manifesto and was off duty, these two officers were driving in Corona, getting off a freeway, when they believe that Dorner opened fire on them. One of those officers suffered from a grazing wound to the forehead. So, in all, three separate shooting incidents involving people here.

Dorner apparently having an ex-military record. And when you read the manifesto, it is at times bone chilling. He warned everybody that -- he said that you're aware that I've always been a top shot. The highest scorer and an expert in rifle qualifications in every unit that he had been in. And he said that he would utilize every bit of small arms training, demolition, ordinance and survival training.

In the manifesto, he alludes to wanting to exact revenge after being fired on a number of different people. And he obviously threatened both these officers and their families, and that's why he is linked to that killing -- those killings earlier this week in Irvine, California, of a police officer's daughter. He said that he felt betrayed and slandered in that manifesto and said he would not stop until he received a public apology.

We have seen here in Riverside numerous unmarked cars come whizzing by. Of course, as we alluded to, the officers behind me on high alert. Clearly on edge here. They don't know at this time where Dorner is, Michael.

HOLMES: Yes, well, local affiliate reporting that they've been conducting checks on cars on the freeway. What do you know about that?

VERCAMMEN: Well, I have -- I'm not near the freeway right now, but that stands to reason because they set up a perimeter, a gauntlet. There's another huge area that is cordoned off over here. I mean they're eyeballing every single car. They know that he drives a pickup truck and they're looking for that vehicle. It was also seen in these two shooting incidents earlier this morning. So no doubt they'll be checking all vehicles. And from what I understand, police are on high alert in now nine southern California counties.

HOLMES: Extraordinary. Paul, thanks for that.

Mike, let's sort of bring you in here too. Authorities have a trained killer on their hands here. And what's worrying, that 50 cal., you know, you and I have both -- I've seen those in operation in Iraq and Afghanistan.

MIKE BROOKS, "IN SESSION" LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Right.

HOLMES: They've got a range of a very long way and they're very, very accurate.

BROOKS: A long way, yes.

HOLMES: Can the LAPD protect their own here?

BROOKS: Well, you know, we heard that officers, LAPD officers who were assigned to protect some officers were wounded today. And, you know, they've got the metropolitan division of LAPD, who are out there protecting some of their higher ranking officials, and their families. And, Mike, these are the best of the best of LAPD. You know, to include their SWAT team. So these are the most highly trained.

But here you have a guy -- you look at the guy. Very muscular. We saw he's about six feet, almost 270 pounds and he's also a military reservist -- or he was a military reservist officer. And I know Barbara's going to talk about that. But here's a guy who was with LAPD from 2005 to 2008. Was a good shot. Was fired. And, you know, the woman who was -- one of the people who was killed in Irvine, she's the daughter, Michael, of the captain, who was retired from LAPD now, who represented him on that disciplinary trial board, if you will.

HOLMES: Right.

BROOKS: And he thinks that he's one of the reasons and that's why he targeted her as revenge.

HOLMES: Which led to his firing and sort of kicked this off.

BROOKS: Exactly.

HOLMES: Yes, that Barrett 50 cal., I think that's a three mile range or something like that on that.

BROOKS: Oh, it's nasty and armor piercing.

HOLMES: Absolutely. Yes.

Mike, thanks so much.

BROOKS: Absolutely.

HOLMES: Mike Brooks there.

Let's bring in Barbara Starr now. And, Barbara, Mike alluding there to Christopher Jordan Dorner's military background, naval, I understand. What can you tell us about that?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Michael, we have just learned that the Naval Criminal Investigate Service, the NCIS, now talking to local law enforcement in southern California, giving them everything they have on this man, his military records, his background, trying to share whatever they might know about him.

I am told he was honorably discharged from the U.S. Navy reserve earlier this year. In fact, just a short time ago, after serving in several overseas jobs basically as a security officer. He was a lieutenant. He had weapons training in the Navy. But not a commando, not a Navy SEAL. This was basic security work.

Nonetheless, he had two awards critically. The Rifle Marksman Ribbon and the Pistol Expert Medal. This meant he had some qualifications in shooting at some expert level at particular distances or ranges. I think, though, very clear we should also understand that he had expertise through his service as a police officer. Many people, many police officers serve in the military reserve and they have a lot of weapons expertise due to all of that. Still, very concerning, obviously, because of his background with weapons. Michael.

HOLMES: Yes. were you able to learn anything about -- did the military have any information on his mental health?

STARR: Well, this would be a matter of privacy concerns. But at the moment -- they wouldn't publicly release that. At the moment, very preliminary, there's no indication of that because he was honorably discharged. There's just nothing that tells us anything about his mental state at this moment.

Michael.

HOLMES: Barbara, thanks so much. Barbara Starr there at the Pentagon. Also thanks to Mike Brooks and Paul Vercammen.

And next hour, Los Angeles Police will be holding a news conference updating us on the hunt for Chris Dorner. We will bring you that live when it happens. We're talking 1:00 p.m. Eastern, 10:00 a.m. Pacific.

Let's turn now to developments out of Iran. Developments involving the U.S. drone program. Iran says it cracked the code on a drone that it captured more than a year ago back in 2011. Senior international correspondent Nic Robertson with us live from London. Details on that.

Nic, Iran releasing that footage -- some of it on the ground, some of it aerial -- that it says is from the spy plane. I mean, if true, it is obviously embarrassing. But what does it really mean? What does it show?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, we don't know if it's true. The Pentagon's not commenting so far. And what the Iranians have there are some pictures, black and white images of the United States, various areas in the United States, and also what they claim is the U.S. base in Afghanistan, the Kandahar Air Base. And you can see these sort of dome like structures that we've become familiar with, seeing them in Afghanistan and Iraq, where drones are often parked. There are indications perhaps this is Kandahar. But we don't even know -- I mean the Iranians are claiming this is material that they've decoded from on board the aircraft. But this could just be material that they found somewhere else. So we don't even -- there's no way of knowing that this actually came from the aircraft, that it was material shot from the aircraft they claim to have.

HOLMES: Yes. You know, Iran has had it for well over a year now. Is there any way of knowing if they were able to garner much in the way of worthy intelligence from the drone? For example, they claim they were able to reverse engineer it. How concerned is the U.S. about that?

ROBERTSON: Well, they've got to be concerned. I mean, look, this is for -- this is high tech equipment. It's fallen into the hands of the Iranians. The Iranians say that this matches the stealth technology that's used on the B-2 bombers, that is used on the new F-35 fighter aircraft. And it's a coup, too, for any spy agency to, you know, get video from inside some enemy, in this case -- they would consider it air base, if that is the case. And again, we don't know. But that would be a coup.

But I think it's very important to note here that what the Iranians claim to have done is to decode material inside of the aircraft. The strength and power of drones is their ability to broadcast that material live to troops in the battlefield and live back over satellite to the remote operators. And there's no indication that the Iranians have cracked those codes or that technology, although very worrying that they were able to intercept this aircraft and bring it down ostensibly without excessive damage, Michael.

HOLMES: Yes, they claim they took it over electronically and they landed it. All right, Nic, we'll leave it there. Thanks so much. Nic Robertson there in London.

Well, it is going to be a rough day for the man behind the expanded U.S. policy of using drones to target terror suspects. John Brennan is President Obama's pick for CIA director. As the president's counter terrorism advisor, Brennan is the one who led the drone campaign. But at his confirmation hearing today, we can expect senators to grill him over using drones to target American terror suspects overseas. He's also likely to face some tough questions over leaks about a cyber attack on Iran, and a mole in Yemen. We're keeping an eye on that.

Well, President Obama recognizes a soldier's uncommon valor in a few days when he awards a medal of honor. We spoke to the man who led troops out of a trap in Afghanistan when he had no doubt that he would die. His story, his bravery, when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HOLMES: Well, in just a few days President Obama will present America's highest military award to a former Army staff sergeant. This is that soldier. Let's show him to you now.

Clint Romesha, he will receive the Medal of Honor at a White House ceremony on Monday. We have a special program here on CNN that airs tonight. It's at 10:00 Eastern.

Take a look at this preview and listen to this man's incredible story. Here's Jake Tapper with a clip from a crucial moment in the battle.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAKE TAPPER, CNN NACHOR: Combat Outpost Keating was built in 2006. With so many troops and assets deployed to Iraq, those in Afghanistan had to make due. One part of the strategy was to build small outposts as the U.S. pushed into eastern Afghanistan. The location was a trap, evident from the moment Romesha's unit arrived in May 2009.

What was your first reaction?

CLINTON ROMESHA, FORMER STAFF SERGEANT, U.S. ARMY: The first reaction was I think the same as everybody that stepped foot on that top is this is a pretty indefensible spot.

CHRIS JONES, FORMER PFC, U.S. ARMY: I thought we were supposed to be on top of a mountain. This is crazy.

I mean, that's how I felt, you know. Shooting up?

But I mean, you just -- I was there, you know. I can't be like this is stupid.

TAPPER: This is a part of the world the Hindu Kush mountain range where you're either on a mountain or in a valley. And in order to be near the population and near the road so it could be resupplied, Combat Outpost Keating was put at the bottom of three, steep mountains.

Soldiers had been fatally attacked there before. In 2007, Private Chris Pfeiffer (ph), in 2008, camp commander, Captain Rob Yeskas (ph), and near there a different commander, Captain Tom Bostick (ph).

As lethal as its position was the outpost's terrain. The camp was named for Lieutenant Ben Keating, killed when his truck rolled over the treacherous side of the road leading to the camp.

ROMESHA: I knew it was a bad spot. And I knew that previous commanders had expired there.

But to sit there and dig up every little detail on it, you know, it just -- it wasn't healthy for the guys to be exposed to that kind of information.

TAPPER: So, your first day at Combat Outpost Keating, there was an attack, and a soldier with the platoon leaving got a massive head wound. Other guys got sprinkled with shrapnel.

ROMESHA: It gave you that instant sense of we are not over here selling girl scout cookies, guys. You know, we're in a real fight.

TAPPER: Romesha and his men knew it was not a question of if there would be a major attack, but when.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HOLMES: Jake Tapper joining me now from New York.

Jake, those combat outposts, or COPs as they're known by the troops who man them -- you're reminded of places like Restrepo that amazing documentary that was done on those COPs in Afghanistan. I've been to a couple of them out there. They don't get much more frontline than that. What we learned, too, about this is that this guy is a friend of yours, as well, by the way.

What does he tell you about life on the COP there? I mean, you really are in the middle of nowhere.

TAPPER: You are. In fact, Combat Outpost Keating is not far from Restrepo. One of the differences is that Restrepo was halfway up a mountain side whereas Keating was in the bottom, was in the valley.

Clint Romesha, I've known since 2010, since I started writing a book about Combat Outpost Keating, and he's not one to complain. He's not one to talk about how tough things were. He's one to talk about this is the hand that they were dealt and, so, they were going to do their job. They were going to protect themselves. And they were just going to follow orders.

But the main thing for him, the overriding motivation was protecting his soldiers, protecting his men, and being there for them.

HOLMES: Yeah, it's a compelling story. And I urge everyone to catch it tonight. Thanks, Jake.

Jake Tapper's profile of Clint, really extraordinary stuff. His remarkable tale of courage during one of the deadliest fights of the Afghan war. It's called "AN AMERICAN HERO: THE UNCOMMON VALOR OF CLINT ROMESHA". That's tonight at 10:00 Eastern right here on CNN.Don't miss it. It's extraordinary tale.

All right, coming up, a nine-year-old girl gave birth at this hospital. The search for the suspected teen's father in Mexico, that's coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HOLMES: In western Mexico today, a disturbing story, this one involving a young girl, very young, just nine-years-old. CNN confirming that the little girl gave birth to a baby. Today, police are out looking for the teenager, who is believed to be the father.

Our senior Latin American affairs editor Rafael Romo is here. First of all, this girl, what do we know about her condition now? And a lot of people would say, who knew that was even possible? RAFAEL ROMO, CNN SENIOR LATIN AMERICAN AFFAIRS EDITOR: That's right. And I just got off the phone with hospital authorities who did confirm that the girl is indeed nine-years-old. The baby was born on the 27th, just last week, and the good news in this disturbing story is that both the girl and the baby are doing OK. They have been released from the hospital. They went home. She was accompanied by her mother when she left the hospital.

And the baby was almost six pounds. Doctors say that he was for all practical purposes a full term baby, about 20 inches. So pretty much in the normal range for a full-term baby.

HOLMES: She must have gotten pregnant when she was eight.

ROMO: She was eight-years-old when she got pregnant. And authorities in the Mexican state of Jalisco where this happened are looking for a 17-year-old, who might be the father of this baby. He has been missing for about a week since the story broke. She ended up at the hospital. But authorities want to find him to make sure they do their investigation.

HOLMES: He could be charged, one would think he could be charged with some sort of offense. Tell me this. What kind of environment does she live in? We were talking earlier on CNN International, some disturbing numbers about this not being that uncommon.

ROMO: That's exactly right, Michael. The very disturbing part of this story, in addition to the fact she's only nine-years-old, she's not unique.

In the Mexican state of Jalisco where this happened, there are 465 cases of girls between the ages of 10 and 14, who became mothers in the year 2011, which is the latest year for which statistics are available. There are 318 cases nationwide of girls, age 10, who became mothers in the same year, so that's causing and creating a lot of alarm.

Again, this is a rare case in that it was published, and people know about it, now the entire country is talking about how alarming this is, that a nine-year-old girl can have a baby. It's incredible.

HOLMES: It's extraordinary. It will be discussed at length in Mexico.

Good to see you Rafael. Thank you.

Well, a dark day for Australian sports. A massive doping scandal has hit the headlines. We're going to have a talk about that with Don Riddle. A sports-mad nation is mourning, today, their reputation.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)