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STARTING POINT WITH SOLEDAD O'BRIEN

Severe Winter Storms Hit North East; Former Cop Accused of Killing Three Still At Large

Aired February 8, 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: the storm for the record books. The historic blizzard is set to hit New York and New England, could have a major effect this morning on planes and trucks and roads and power lines. We've got live team coverage with everything you need to know.

Plus, he's now considered to be extremely dangerous. New developments in the hunt for this man, a suspected cop killer, including what we've learned about a potential sighting overnight.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: John Brennan is in the hot seat as he tries to become the new CIA director. His surprising views on interrogation tactics and drones.

Then, he's out. The man who've been squatting in a multimillion dollar mansion in Florida finally gets the boot.

O'BRIEN: Ahead this morning, we'll be talking to Jim Clemente. He's a retired FBI profiler. Also Dr. Michael Welner will join us. He's the chairman of the Forensic Panel. James Usera is a former classmate of Christopher Dorner, the suspect, this morning.

Also, Wisconsin Senator Ron Wyden will join us. David Frei, the co- host of the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show.

It's Friday, February 8th, so, we want to welcome our international viewers this morning as STARTING POINT begins right now.

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O'BRIEN: Hey, everybody. Welcome. Our STARTING POINT this morning is everybody bracing for this monster blizzard that really could turn bury the northeast. It could turn out to be a storm for the ages, with forecasters using words like epic and historic to describe the storm. This is a live picture from New York. A foot or more snow, rather, could be on the ground in the Big Apple by this time tomorrow morning.

Right now, 23 million people in the northeast are under a blizzard warning. Air travel this morning kind of hit or miss 3,000 flights scheduled for today and tomorrow have already been canceled. Now, in Boston, there are some concerns that the storm could be worse than that blizzard of 1978. You'll remember a hundred people were killed in that blizzard, thousands of homes destroyed in that blizzard Forecasters calling for 34 inches of snow there.

We've got this story covered for you this morning. Meteorologist Jennifer Delgado is with us tracking the system from the CNN Weather Center this morning. Alison Kosik is here in New York for us, and Indra Petersons is in Washington where it has become impossible to find shovels or even bottled water. Indra, let's begin with you. How is it?

INDRA PETERSONS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: It's been a mild season so far, 15 inches below normal for snow totals this season. But we all know by this point, this atomic bomb basically, this huge low pressure system developing is expected to bring heavy snowfall here by late afternoon.

Currently, of course, the sun is still out, still generally calm, visibility is great. One thing picking up here is the wind, just in the last -- my hat flew right off, not warm enough, I need the beanie on top of it. You can see the custom tower. And remember, two to three inches of snow per hour, that's the amount of heavy snow we're expecting as we go toward late afternoon in through the evening and even all the way in through tomorrow.

Now, keep in mind, not talking about heavy snow, but high winds, and with that chances are as we go through the afternoon, we won't be able to see the tower anymore a quarter mile away. As soon as we can't see that we know visibility is less than a quarter mile. People are getting prepared. You have 600 trucks ready to go, another 4,500 on standby. And the National Guard on standby. Everyone feels we're prepared. The good upside is it's on the weekend. Schools are closed and people will just ride out the storm.

O'BRIEN: All right, Indra, thank you for that update. Appreciate it.

For those in New York, we have been warned that there will be a foot of snow or even more today. Flooding could be a concern. Alison Kosik in Columbus Circle close to Central Park here in Manhattan. Good morning, Alison.

ALISON KOSIK, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Soledad. The conditions have certainly changed over the past half hour or so. Some of winds picking up and a nice comfortable sleet is fall from the sky. And you can see the roads are wet. People are still going about their day. Going to work as they normally would. Nothing is really sticking as of yet, but fast forward 24 hours from now, this will likely be covered with snow.

As for what New York City is preparing for? Preparing for a lot of snow. Hundreds of salt trucks are up at the ready and plows ready, also trains, extra trains running during rush hour to get people home, right when the storm is supposed to hit at its finest, Soledad.

O'BRIEN: Alison Kosik for this morning, thank you, Alison.

Let's head to where the latest on where the storm is headed. Jennifer Delgado is tracking that system for us at the Atlanta CNN Weather Center. Give us a sense of where it begins and where it ends over the time frame?

JENNIFER DELGADO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: All right, Soledad, I'll break it down for you. We're watching two different systems. One right off the coast in the mid-Atlantic, you can see it's really getting energized. This is the system that is moving up the northeast and this is what's combining with the system in the Great Lakes.

Right now we're dealing with rain out there for most areas. Again, we're still seeing a little bit of wintry precipitation moving through parts of northern weigh, Washington, D.C. area. We saw Alison's live shot out of New York City with a little wet snow. Snow is not going to pick up until later in the afternoon for New York City, 4:00, 5:00. But snowfall totals are going to be quite impressive. We're talking in some locations two to three feet of snow. For you international viewers, that's roughly a meter of snowfall. And it's really going to start to explode as we go later this evening, once these two storms merge and to the overnight and into tomorrow.

Some of the winds we're talking hurricane strength. And these gusts are going to picking up, especially later this evening. That's when we start to expect some of the blizzard conditions to arrive for areas like Newark, Boston. These winds will be gusty, so even traveling through Saturday is going to be tricky as well. I want to point out, a blizzard warning in place in there New York to Maine. And we have big post coastal flooding potential. We have these winds, we're talking about a two to three feet storm surge.

For some of these areas, Soledad, they are still trying to recover from super storm Sandy. Again, for international viewers, we're talking wind gusts up to 100 kilometers per hour.

O'BRIEN: All right, this will be a complete mess. Jennifer Delgado, thanks, Jennifer, appreciate it. You want to stay with us as we continue to cover the storm. We're going to take a look at airport conditions, with thousands of flights already canceled, and what it looks like over the next couple of days.

I want to turn now to our other top story this morning, and that's the hunt for this alleged killer, a former cop in southern California. There was thought to be a potential break in the case overnight turned out to be a lead to nowhere. A reported sighting of Christopher Dorner turned out to be false. The man is suspected of killing three people, including a police officer, and the fired LAPD officer vowed that he would target other cops and their families in a long online manifesto.

Dorner's burned out truck spotted in an area around the Big Bear Lake ski resort in San Bernardino. He, though, remains at large. CNN's Casey Wian is following developments for us this morning live in Hollywood Station, California. Good morning, Casey.

CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Soledad. As you can imagine, law enforcement officials on high alert throughout southern California this morning. They are trying to protect potential targets of this suspected killer, Christopher Dorner, while at the same time trying to find him. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

WIAN: A possible break in the hunt for Christopher Dorner as authorities find his truck burning near Big Bear Lake, California. Officers fan out, rifles drawn, as they search nearby woods and go door to door.

SHERIFF JOHN MCMAHON, SAN BERNARDINO COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT: We will keep working on it until we are able to either locate the suspect or determine that is he no longer in the Big Bear valley.

WIAN: Dorner, a former Los Angeles cop, has threatened to hurt L.A. police officers and their families, police say in retribution for being fired in 2008. He allegedly laid out his plan in an online manifesto, saying, quote, "I never had an opportunity to have a family of my own. I'm terminating yours."

Dorner also attempted to contact CNN, sending a parcel to Anderson Cooper, in it a hand labeled DVD with a yellow post-it note that reads "I never lied," an apparent reference to his firing when Dorner claims he was forced out after reporting alleged police brutality. Also a coin wrapped in duct tape, which was inscribed with "Thanks, but no thanks Will Bratton," the former chief of the Los Angeles police department.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Chances are he would have received it from me. It would have been the custom I have of when somebody activated to the military, heading overseas.

WIAN: CNN is cooperating authorities. Police say it began Sunday in Irvine when Dorner killed two people, Monica Quan, the daughter of a former LAPD captain, who represented Dorner in front of the police board that eventually fired him, and her fiance. Three days later in San Diego, police say Dorner attempted to hijack a boat. Then early Thursday, Dorner fires at police officers in Corona who were assigned to protect someone connected to Dorner's threats. One officer was hurt. Later in Riverside, two officers fired upon in what police call a cowardly ambush, one seriously hurt, the other killed. Dorner's manifesto states "The attacks will stop when the department states the truth about my innocence publicly."

SERGIO DIAZ, RIVERSIDE POLICE CHIEF: He's told us what he intend to do and so far he's done it.

WIAN: Leaving the community on edge, wondering when the violence will stop.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WIAN: I'll give you a sense of how seriously law enforcement is taking the threat. Several police agencies in southern California have ordered officers to travel in patrol cars in pairs until Dorner is found. Soledad.

O'BRIEN: Casey Wian, thank you. Coming up in the next half-hour we're going to hear more from the former LAPD chief William Bratton, what he says about the bullet- riddled coin that Dorner sent to CNN. We'll also take a look at the manifesto. We want to talk more about this with Jim Clemente, a former profiler for the FBI. It's nice to have you with us.

JIM CLEMENTE, FORMER FBI PROFILER: Good morning, Soledad.

O'BRIEN: The manifesto is long and rambling with a specific list of his intentions. What does this manifesto, your reading o fit tell you?

CLEMENTE: It tells us a lot about his personality and what his goals are. He's trying to communicate how wronged he was during his life. And that's an indication that he is a justice collector. During the course of his life, he would look, search, every single direction to see if he's being treated special, like he thinks he deserves to be, or if he's being disrespected. And he ticks off a checklist and adds up all of these injustices over the course of his lifetime.

O'BRIEN: Besides the LAPD very much wanting when he measures all those things, he says this, which I think is interesting. "I know your TTPs," techniques, tactics, and procedures, "any threat assessments you generate will be useless. I will mitigate any of your attempts at preservation. I will mitigate all risks, threats, and hazards. Hopefully you analysts have done your homework. You are aware that I have always been the top shot highest score, an expert in rifle qualifications in every unit I've been in. I will utilize every bit of small arms training, demolition, ordnance, and survival training I've been given."

CLEMENTE: The thing is this really shows his personality. He is trying to overcompensate for his own inadequacies. This is typical of a narcissist, somebody who fluctuates back and forth between feeling superior to being the victim and knowing his reality is he is inadequate so he has to overcompensate by overselling himself.

O'BRIEN: So when you read the manifesto when he says he's not afraid of dying, not afraid of killing the litany of officers for the long list of injustices he is perceived to have against him, do you read this and say this is a guy who will kill himself or this will continue with violence until someone kills him? How does it end?

CLEMENTE: It could be any one of those. Basically this type of personality could be suicidal and he could be heading toward suicide by cop, but he could also be trying to take out as many people as he can in the process. He may be convinced that once he's gotten the attention and the acclaim he deserves it may calm him down because he may want to enjoy the aftermath.

O'BRIEN: He says "I won't stop until my name is cleared." It's like you're killing people as you go. Your name will never be cleared.

CLEMENTE: He's irrational about that. That's very clear.

O'BRIEN: Thank you very much for joining us. At the bottom hour, we'll speak with the chairman of the forensic panel. Dr. Michael Welner will be our guest to talk more about this case.

Other stories making news, Christine has that for us.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks, Soledad. New this morning, a 7.1 magnitude earthquake hits the Solomon Islands. New tsunami warnings in effect. This is an aftershock of an 8.0 quake on Wednesday. Nine people killed by a tsunami afterward in the initial quake.

The man the president wants to head up the CIA, John Brennan getting grilled by senators at his confirmation hearing. Brennan defended the administration's increasing use of drone strikes, saying they are critical for national security. But Brennan told the intelligence committee he would rather capture terrorists than kill them.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN BRENNAN, CIA DIRECTOR NOMINEE: Some of the American people believe we take strikes to punish terrorists for past transgressions. Nothing could be further from the truth. We only take such actions as a last resort to save lives when there's no other alternative to taking an action that's going to mitigate that threat.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: Next hours we'll talk with one of the senators who questioned Brennan, Wisconsin Democrat Ron Wyden.

Democrats laid out their 15-point plan for gun safety on Thursday. It involves strengthening background checks, one for every gun sold, also a ban on assault weapons and magazines, cracking down on illegal gun trafficking, closing holes in the mental health system, and support for citizens' rights to possess firearms for hunting, shooting, sports, defense, and other legitimate, lawful purposes.

The party is over for police in Boca Raton. They have seized a $2.5 million mansion from a squatter who has been living in this waterfront property since December. Andre Barbosa, 23 years old, he moved in trying to use an obscure Florida law to stake his claim to this foreclosed property. Yesterday police and a Bank of America representative came calling and they gave Barbosa the boot.

O'BRIEN: Which you knew that was going to happen. You can't squat in a $2.5 million mansion.

ROMANS: It was good while it lasted.

O'BRIEN: He has law school in his future I believe.

(LAUGHTER)

O'BRIEN: Still ahead this morning on STARTING POINT, if you use your smartphone for work when are you off the clock, does that count for overtime? New implications one lawsuit could have for all of us.

Also some business news to talk about.

ROMANS: The snow sports business has seen a drought in the last four years. This blizzard could be the answer to the industry's prayers. You're watching STARTING POINT

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROMANS: Welcome back to STARTING POINT. I'm Christine Romans "Minding your Business" this morning. Stocks futures mixed as the corporate earnings season winds down. Stocks essentially hit a pause button on Thursday, but take a look at this: the S&P is up around six percent this year. Within shouting distance of its all-time high. So is the Dow.

New this morning, we've learned that Rupert Murdoch's British newspaper publisher News International has settled 144 lawsuits over phone hacking. High court officials did not announce the names of the people involved or the amount of the settlements. Seven cases were not settled and will go to trial in June. This is the second group of suits to be settled by News International over the hacking scandal.

All right for ski resorts, the big blizzard means big business. Here's a live look at Sunday River Ski Resort in Maine. The storm is welcome news after a decade of record low snowfall, forcing mountains to invest in snow-making. Stowe Mountain Resort in Vermont said it's pouring half a billion dollars into a master snow-making plan. The resort's highest peak received only 200 inches of snow last year, down from an average of 333 inches this season. Indra Petersons was reporting to us, of course, that Boston is 15 inches below normal so far this year.

(CROSSTALK)

O'BRIEN: It's been really a rough year.

ROMANS: The people who make stuff to ski in and for outdoor sports are looking at this snowstorm and saying "thank you."

O'BRIEN: Yeah, this is going to be great for them and bad for pretty much everybody else.

Still ahead this morning on STARTING POINT, lots of people continue to work well after the office closes on their Blackberries and smart phones. Should that time spent qualify as overtime? A new lawsuit says yes, it should. We'll talk about that. Our STARTING POINT team is heading in this morning. Back in a moment.

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O'BRIEN: Welcome back, everybody. You're taking a look live at New York City, where the snow is beginning fall. Just a little bit. We're getting ready for a very big blizzard to hit here in New York, and, in fact, the entire northeast. Want to introduce our team this morning. Michael Skolnick is with us, he's the editor in chief of Globalgrind.com. Abby Huntsman is with us, she's a host at "HuffPost Live." Ron Brownstein's back, editorial director at "National Journal." Nice to have you all with us as we could all potentially get snowed in this morning. Right here in the office.

(CROSSTALK)

(LAUGHTER)

Christine of course, sticking around with us. Here's a question for you, and I know how I ell about it, but I'll let you guys weigh in. If you spend a lot of time answering your e-mail and doing work on your smartphone, Blackberry at home, should you be compensated for it, as an employee?

(CROSSTALK)

MICHAEL SKOLNIK, EIDTOR IN CHIEF, GLOBALGRIND.COM: Oh, wow

ABBY HUNTSMAN, HOST, "HUFFPOST LIVE": It depends on a lot of things. Are you salary or hourly?

(CROSSTALK)

O'BRIEN: Right, so there's a s Chicago police officer, he says, yes, he feels he should be compensated. His name is Jeffrey Allen he's the guy who has filed a lawsuit against the city. He says they need to pay for the extra hours that he's frequently been required to work while he's off duty, but home from his department-issued Blackberry. Here is what the officer's attorney says about that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PAUL GEIGER, ATTORNEY FOR SEARGENT JEFFREY ALLEN: If they have a half- hour phone call outside of work hours to a superior about a search warrant they are going to work on the next day, that is something that needs to be paid for. The lawsuit is not silly. The lawsuit seeks to enforce the law.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: So The city says it has policies and procedures in place for police officers to request overtime. They say at best this is a union grievance, not a federal lawsuit.

RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: It's a fascinating question, because on the one hand every level of government is facing financial squeeze now, where your initial reaction is do you need to pay this guy -- can we afford it? But on the other hand, we are all expected to respond. You find the people you work with are offended if you're not responding, no matter what hour it is.

SKOLNIK: I've worked for Russell Simmons (ph) so no matter what --

(LAUGHTER)

(CROSSTALK) O'BRIEN: How do you feel about that?

SKOLNIK: Twenty-four hours a day I'm not paid.

O'BRIEN: Well, but some jobs, you go into it, saying -- us too. We are expected that there will be phone calls in the middle of the night and you will answer them and that's is that. But in this guy's particular case, and they are framing it as a union issue.

HUNSTMAN: He's a nonexempt employee, which means, I think, if you work outside of the hours you are supposed to be working, I think you can argue that you can be paid.

O'BRIEN: Right, that's what he's saying. He's like you know, s superior calling me, asking me for information, taking a certain amount of time.

ROMANS: What I don't know is if his shop steward or union didn't take this up, or he didn't go through those channels, but this is something that unions have dealt with, and some newsrooms are unionized as well. In terms of whether he's a wage employee or salaried employee, or how much money you make, the interesting thing about it is I think that these devices have allowed to us be better parents and better workers at the same time, and you know what?

(CROSSTALK)

ROMANS: I use -- sorry, CNN. I use this sometime for personal phone calls.

O'BRIEN: What?

ROMANS: At what point does it go a little bit give and take?

BROWNSTEIN: But at some level, the issue beyond the specifics of this lawsuit is the extent to which the technology is kind of shackling to us work.

(CROSSTALK)

BROWNSTEIN: It creates enormous opportunity.

ROMANS: It shackles you and frees you.

HUNTSMAN: At what point do we turn it off, though? That's what I worry about. Are we going to lose sanity at a certain point where we just never turn off our phones? We can't.

(CROSSTALK)

O'BRIEN: Really? One hour?

SKOLNIK: That's all I got. One hour.

O'BRIEN: That's so sad. I got to call Russell.

(LAUGHTER)

(CROSSTALK)

O'BRIEN: Tell him he's all wrong about that. Come on. He's Mr. Meditation man. You need more than an hour.

SKOLNIK: He meditates for an hour.

(LAUGHTER)

(CROSSTALK)

O'BRIEN: Still ahead this morning on STARTING POINT, we continue to track this developing story, this horrific story out of California. Police are still looking for the suspected cop killer. He is considered to be armed and ready to kill. We're going to talk with a top forensic psychologist about this man and his manifesto. That's coming up next.

Plus, we'll have a live report on the very latest weather conditions around the northeast and what's happening at the airports. Thousands of flights already canceled, and more cancellations likely on the way.

Then, it's one thing to not like a movie, but can critics go too far? The harsh review of a new flick called "Identity Thief" that goes after the star's weight. We're back in a moment.

(CROSSTALK)

O'BRIEN: We'll start with extreme weather this morning. A big blizzard is barreling right now toward the northeast. Words like "epic" and "historic," all bad, bad words when they are talking about a storm, now being used to describe the system affecting folks from New Jersey to Maine.

Here is a live look at what's happening here in New York City, where the snow is starting to fall a little bit. Expected to come down much harder as the morning progresses. New York, in fact, is expecting a foot or more. People here are getting ready for it with long lines at the gas station.

Right now, more than 3,000 flights that were scheduled for today and tomorrow have already been canceled.

I want to get right to meteorologist Jennifer Delgado, she's tracking the storm from the CNN weather center and Zain Asher is at LaGuardia Airport this morning where, wow, it looks really empty behind you this morning, Zain. Let's start with you. What's going on there?

ZAIN ASHER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi Soledad. Well, you know, there's simply no way of sugarcoating it: it's certainly going to be a tough day for commuters.