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CNN NEWSROOM

Two Men Charged in Chicago Teen's Murder; U.S. Condemns North Korea's Nuke Test; Obama to Detail Afghan Drawdown; Reported Bin Laden Killer: I'm Struggling; Senate Committee to Vote on Hagel Today; LAPD Investigates Fugitive Ex-Cop's Firing; Mahony's Voting For New Pope Sparks Anger; Gas Prices Soar Again

Aired February 12, 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, an ex-cop accused of serial murder. So why do some see Christopher Dorner as a vigilante hero?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CONNIE RICE, CIVIL RIGHTS ATTORNEY: LAPD's relationship with the black community could only be described as a state of war.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COSTELLO: Plus North Korea detonating a nuclear test that is quote, half the size of Hiroshima. President Obama wants swift action while the United Nations convenes an emergency meeting.

And Ted Nugent -- leaving his guns at home and State of the Union bound. The outspoken rocker said he'd either be dead or in jail, if President Obama was re-elected.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TED NUGENT, SINGER: Our President, Attorney General, our Vice President, Hillary Clinton, they are criminals. They are criminals.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COSTELLO: The NRA board members sitting just feet from victims of gun violence at the State of the Union. NEWSROOM starts now.

(MUSIC)

COSTELLO: Good morning. Thank you so much for being with me. I'm Carol Costello. We begin in Chicago, where two gang members are due in court charged with the murder that has become a key stone in the national debate over gun violence.

These two men accused of shooting 15-year-old honor student Hadiya Pendleton just days after she performed in the inaugural parade. She died just a mile from the president's Chicago home. Police say the accused shooter thought he was opening fire on a rival gang.

CNN's Ted Rowlands is in Chicago to tell us more. Good morning, Ted. TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Carol. Michael Ward is 18 years old and Kenneth Williams is 20 years old. According to Ward, who had a partial confession to police, he says that he shot into a group of people, which had Hadiya Pendleton in it, and he thought that a rival gang member was in that group, and he could not have been more wrong.

This was a group of teenagers, that had just finished taking final exams all going to Martin Luther King prep, a fantastic high school here in Chicago. These were all of the kids, that -- these were kids doing everything right, including Hadiya Pendleton, and this shooter just got it wrong.

And it's so unfortunate, because of this mistaken identity, that Hadiya's life, obviously, has been cut short. The other part of this heart breaking story is that this young man, Michael Ward was arrested, this time last year on a gun violation.

And Chicago police say if the laws that they want in place were in place, he would still be in jail. And Hadiya would still be alive.

COSTELLO: Just so sad. Hadiya's mother, Mrs. Pendleton, will be sitting beside Michelle Obama during tonight's State of the Union. So we expect the president to talk a bit about gun control. So we'll hear what he has to say. Ted Rowlands reporting live from Chicago.

Also in the news this morning, it felt like an earthquake, but this morning the truth is even more jolting. Overnight, North Korea once again defied the world and detonated a nuclear bomb. It is the third underground test by the communist country since 2006, and it's most powerful.

The explosion roughly half the strength of the bomb dropped on Hiroshima in World War II. Today in a rare solidarity, world leaders are condemning this test. At this very minute, diplomats from the most powerful nations are meeting behind closed doors at the United Nations.

It's also North Korea's first nuclear test under its new leader Kim Jong-Un. It comes hours ahead of President Obama's State of the Union speech. Analysts believe it's a way for Kim Jong-Un to force the president to acknowledge North Korea during tonight's State of the Union address.

Speaking of that, we are now just 11 hours away from the State of the Union, the annual speech in which the president gives a progress report on the nation, and outlines his goals for the coming year. One item deals with the longest war in the nation's history.

CNN's Jake Tapper broke the story. The president will announce by this time next year, 34,000 U.S. troops will have returned from Afghanistan. This will cut the U.S. forces there in half.

CNN national political correspondent Jim Acosta is in Washington with a preview of tonight's speech. Good morning, Jim. JIM ACOSTA, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Carol. You know, a lot of folks in Washington are going to be watching these duelling responses to the president's State of the Union tonight.

An aide to Senator Marco Rubio and Tea Party leader say the two responses to the president's State of the Union do not mean that the GOP is divided going into tomorrow night or tonight I should say.

One thing we should note in contrast to what Jake is reporting about that drawdown in Afghanistan, it seems these two speeches will focusing mainly on fiscal matters, but one Tea Party official tells CNN, these twin speeches we will hear tonight are a victory for the conservative movement.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ACOSTA (voice-over): After the State of the Union, it's the matchup Washington will be watching. In one corner, Florida Senator Marco Rubio dubbed the Republican savior on the cover of "Time" magazine, giving the GOP response to President Obama.

SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), FLORIDA: Had someone been aware of these things --

ACOSTA: In the other corner, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul with reaction from the Tea Party Movement. For both men the duelling speeches are another sign of their sudden star power. Just three years ago, Rubio was a Tea Party favorite. But a long shot for the Senate, when he sat down with CNN for one of his first interviews.

(on camera): Would you be the first Tea Party senator if elected?

RUBIO: I am running as a Republican.

ACOSTA (voice-over): Little more than two years later he had a prime speaking slot at the Republican convention.

RUBIO: I don't want unemployment that high. It has been so under this president.

ACOSTA: Now he's a leading voice on immigration reform.

RUBIO: The president has to answer why his party controlled the House and the Senate for two years. He did absolutely nothing on immigration.

SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: We are coming to take our government back.

ACOSTA: Paul, who also road the Tea Party wave into the Senate in 2010 says his response to the president will be different.

PAUL: I think really there's some things I will emphasize that maybe Marco doesn't.

ACOSTA: And a reminder the conservative movement hasn't gone anywhere.

PAUL: I don't always agree. The thing is this isn't about he and I, this is about the Tea Party.

ACOSTA: The chair of the Tea Party Express, which is hosting Paul's speech tells CNN Tuesday night we have two Tea Party senators responding to the president's State of the Union address. That is historic, but GOP strategist Ana Navarro says make no mistake Rubio is a Republican first.

ANA NAVARRO, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I think Marco Rubio is a Republican senator. He has always been a Republican. I've known him 20 years from Republican politics in South Florida. At the same time, he's very receptive and embraces a lot of concepts that the Tea Party stands for.

ACOSTA: It's Rubio's rise that caught the attention of top Democrats who brushed off his upcoming high profile address in this conference call with reporters.

REP. DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ (D-FL), CHAIR, DNC (via telephone): They don't think there's anything wrong with their policies. They think they just need to package them better. You can't put lipstick on a pig.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ACOSTA: Even though Rubio and Paul could square off as presidential contenders in 2016, there's no overt gamesmanship in the run up to their duelling speeches later on tonight. The Tea Party Express says, it will be careful not to step on the official Republican response. Paul's remarks will come a few minutes after Rubio is finished speaking and a top Rubio aide says the senator welcomes the Tea Party's reaction to the president -- Carol.

COSTELLO: And the third Republican will also be offering comments tonight in a sort of quickly thrown together press conference, Ted Nugent. Have you heard?

ACOSTA: That's right. He has said that he's going to I think de-arm himself or demilitarize himself I believe before heading into Washington. He's going to be the guest of Congressman Steve Stockman, a Republican from Texas. And it's going to be very interesting to watch how that plays out. He's planning on holding a news conference after these addresses are wrapped up this evening. So we will be watching.

COSTELLO: What a night. Jim Acosta, thanks so much. We will have complete coverage right here on CNN starting at 7:00 p.m. Eastern. Here's what else is happening this morning.

We are learning that Pope Benedict XVI had a pacemaker adjusted three months ago, but a Vatican spokesman says the routine procedure had nothing whatsoever to do with his resignation.

Further, the Pope says the pontiff had been thinking about resigning for almost a year because of his age. And there's an interesting image we want to show you at the Vatican.

It had happened shortly after the Pope announced his resignation, isn't that eerie? A bolt of lightning appears to strike the top of St. Peter's Basilica. I don't know what it means, but it was some kind of message from above.

You're looking at live pictures of the Senate Judiciary Committee. It's holding a second hearing on gun control. Today's meeting will focus on the constitutionality of new gun laws and their possible effectiveness.

New details from the retired Navy SEAL who claims to have killed Osama Bin Laden are coming out now. The former SEAL spoke to journalist Phil Bronstein who sat down with Anderson Cooper last night. Here's part of the conversation.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PHIL BRONSTEIN, CONTRIBUTOR, "ESQUIRE": It's possible his name could come out. There was a book, within days his picture was on a Jihadi web site. All the SEAL command told the shooter, we have a witness protection program that we could institute. It's not there yet. But if you want to drive a beer truck in Milwaukee, we can arrange that. You just have to cut all ties to the rest of your family and basically disappear yourself.

ANDERSON COOPER, HOST, CNN'S "AC 360": In terms of what he told you about the raid, what surprised you most?

BRONSTEIN: I think that he -- I think the fact that it happened so fast, but that he had certain images in his mind. You know, particularly the shooting of Bin Laden, I mean, he -- there was one moment when he said I had to raise my gun because I really didn't expect -- he was really tall.

COOPER: He was surprised at how tall he was.

BRONSTEIN: Surprised at how tall he was. I think that was sort of -- that was sort of my most enlightening moment for me.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COSTELLO: Bronstein also says the retired SEAL has no pension, no health care and no protection for his family.

Food in short supply, raw sewage running down the walls and a smell so bad, it making people sick, just some of the ways passengers are describing what life has been like on that disabled Carnival cruise ship.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COSTELLO: It's 12 minutes past the hour, time to check our top stories, a disabled Carnival cruise ship is now on the move. Two tugboats are towing it to Mobile, Alabama instead of Mexico as originally planned because of strong currents in the gulf. Passengers say their dream vacation turned into a nightmare after an engine fire on Sunday. Here's one woman describing what they had to endure.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANN BARLOW, PASSENGER: It takes three and a half hours to get food. The smells -- I can't each describe them. There's sewage, raw sewage, pretty bad. You walk in the hallway you have to cover your face. We don't have any masks for breathing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COSTELLO: The ship is expected to arrive in Mobile, Alabama on Thursday. The Senate Arms Services Committee will vote on former Senator Chuck Hagel's nomination this afternoon. His confirmation to become the next defense secretary is almost certain at least five Republicans say they would oppose a filibuster to block Hagel's vote from taking place.

Federal agencies are shooting down rumors of drones being used in their manhunt for the ex-cop accused of killing three people that's according to the "L.A. Times." No credible information about their use has been provided to police authorities in California.

Talking about Dorner, he's an accused serial killer on the run. And he's still nowhere to be found, after allegedly killing three people. Yet some are not calling him evil, but a vigilante hero. Here's CNN's Kyung Lah.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KYUNG LAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The debate rages on L.A. talk radio. Christopher Dorner, cop killer or vigilante hero?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I believe what he's doing really is no different than our ancestors would have done and did do in fighting to get free.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's not that people don't have a right to be angry it's what you do about the anger.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's awful that we have to buy into that as another African-American --

LAH: Online a more bold following with numerous Facebook fan pages one even called a Christopher Dorner Appreciation Society. Where does this come from? L.A.'s old wounds, as acknowledged by L.A.'s police chief as he reopened the investigation into Dorner's firing.

CHIEF CHARLIE BECK, LOS ANGELES POLICE: I hear ghosts of the past of the Los Angeles Police Department. I hear that people think that maybe there is something to what he says. I want to put that to rest. If there's anything to what he says or anything new in what he brings up in his manifesto, we will deal with it. We will deal with it in a public way.

LAH: It's a stunning turn away from a dark history. In 1965, the Watz riots triggered by the traffic stop of a black man by white officers. In 1991, the brutal beating of Rodney King by four officers caught on videotape.

The April acquittal by an all white jury of all of the officers of assault spurred days of riots through Los Angeles and in the late '90s, the Rampart scandal where an anti-gang unit was accused of beating and framing dozen of suspects from a poor minority neighborhood. The U.S. Department of Justice came into reform the entire police department.

CONNIE RICE, CIVIL RIGHTS ATTORNEY: LAPD's relationship with the black community could only be described as a state of war.

LAH: Civil rights attorney Connie Rice sued the LAPD representing hundreds of minority officers and helped change the department. Today minorities make up more than half of LAPD's force and it has a new mind set.

(on camera): What do you think of the chief reopening the investigation?

RICE: I think it was a tough decision made for the exact right reasons. The openly racist culture of LAPD of 30 years ago is gone.

LAH (voice-over): Rice now is the police chief's trusted advisor. She says Dorner's beef with the LAPD may well be real, but he remains a suspected killer.

RICE: Let's not merge the past with today and let's separate out the possibility that Mr. Dorner has raised legitimate issues from the complete illegitimacy and obscenity of what he's done.

LAH: The police chief says the reopening of the Dorner firing investigation isn't to appease the fugitive, but a way to continue to close wounds and take another step away from it's painful past. Kyung Lah, CNN, Los Angeles.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COSTELLO: Talk more about that a little later on in the NEWSROOM. Alicia Keys has declared her love for the new Blackberry 10 as its new creative director. But did she get caught cheating with an iPhone?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COSTELLO: It's 20 minutes past the hour, time to check our top stories, when the president delivers his State of the Union tonight, Republicans will be paying close attention. The GOP has launched a web site dedicated to debunking the president's speech in real time.

And in addition to Florida Senator Marco Rubio giving the official Republican response in English and Spanish, Republicans have launched a Spanish language Twitter account to reach out to Latino voters.

Two more deaths blamed on the weekend snowstorm that buried the northeast bringing the death toll to 11 now. Digging out in some places could take the entire week. Bridgeport, Connecticut for example, 30 inches of snow fell it might be Friday before secondary roads are cleared.

Los Angeles Cardinal Roger Mahony may have been stripped of public duties for sex abuse cover up in the Catholic Church, but he still gets to cast a vote for the next Pope, according to the "L.A. Times," local Catholics are not too happy about that. Yesterday Cardinal Mahony praised outgoing Pope Benedict and said he looks forward to voting for his successor.

A big oops or a hack, pop star Alicia Keys says she wasn't the one who sent out a tweet from an iPhone app. It is making headlines though because Alicia Keys is now the creative director for the Blackberry 10. And she's promised to use only the Blackberry and no other smartphone. Keys says her Twitter account was hacked. We are back in a minute.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COSTELLO: Gas prices creeping up once again and not your imagination they have been going up 26 straight days. CNN's Maribel Aber joins us with why.

MARIBEL ABER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Carol. Well, you are right. We are seeing a dramatic increase in gas prices over the last 26 days, the national average for a gallon of regular, it's up more than 30 cents in that time to $3.06 a gallon.

Why are we seeing this run up, right? There are three factors. First off, oil prices have been climbing up more than 3 percent over the last month. And of course, the price of crude oil is the biggest factor that determines the price of gasoline.

Second factor here, stronger global demand for oil and gas, OPEC is up forecasted today thanks to stronger global economic recovery. Finally, the run up is a more regional issue, Carol. Refineries are shutting down to switch over to summer blends.

So that puts a temporary strain on supply. Now, we did speak to Patrick Duhon, he says this is a seasonal trend. It's happening a little earlier than usual. The current prices are a bit more elevated than they could be.

Also, there is some good news, I want to share, Carol, Duhon does not see the national average topping $4 a gallon and AAA agrees. He says that national average will keep below where it peaked in 2012. So that's $3.94 a gallon on April 5 and 6. Yes, so a little bit of good news. I don't know if we call that good news.

COSTELLO: I like that you are looking at the glass half full, Maribel. Thank you so much.

ABER: Always.

COSTELLO: Maribel Aber, thank you so much. Stick around. Our new expanded Talk Back is next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)