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EARLY START WITH JOHN BERMAN AND ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN

Osama bin Laden's Son-in-Law Captured; Dow: How Long Will the Streak Last?; Northeast Braces for Winter Storm; Jodi Arias Trial: Questioning a Killer

Aired March 8, 2013 - 05:00   ET

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


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Caught. Osama bin Laden's son-in-law, an al Qaeda mouthpiece, now in U.S. custody. And you will not believe where he was hiding.

ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN ANCHOR: The Dow's history-making winning streak continues as the focus flips to jobs now in today's key report. Is your situation getting any better?

BERMAN: Sloshing your way to work. A windy, rain, snowy --

SAMBOLIN: Nasty.

BERMAN: -- sloshy, disgusting mess hanging over the Northeast right now. This is the winter storm that will not go away.

SAMBOLIN: Sell it, Berman.

And it's not a right to bear arms. It is a requirement, the town that wants everyone to own a gun.

Good morning. Welcome to EARLY START. Thanks for being with us. I'm Zoraida Sambolin.

And I'm John Berman. It is Friday, March 8th, 5:00 a.m. in the East.

And we're going to start with a major development in the war on terror, sending shockwaves from Manhattan to Capitol Hill to the Middle East. Osama bin Laden's son-in-law captured and in U.S. custody and in just hours, Sulaiman Abu Ghaith will be in New York to be arraigned on charges that he conspired to kill Americans.

With more on how we caught him and the controversy surrounding this court appearance, CNN national correspondent Susan Candiotti is here.

Hey, Susan.

SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, John. Good morning. You know, he managed to stay beyond the reach of U.S. authorities all these years just like his famous father in law. But now that it's finally ended, now the question is, how will he be prosecuted and where?

And some people are challenging that. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CANDIOTTI (voice-over): This photo put Sulaiman Abu Ghaith squarely in al Qaeda's inner circle. He is sitting to the left of his father in law Osama bin Laden, along with top lieutenants Ayman al-Zawahiri and Mohammed Atta.

Following the 9/11 attacks, Abu Ghaith was out front as a spokesman for the terror organization, appearing in videos and making ominous statements.

Quote, "We have the right to kill 4 million Americans with chemical and biological weapons."

Abu Ghaith is believed to have been in Osama bin Laden's final stand in Tora Bora in December 2001 before escaping into Pakistan. He had lived in Iran since 2002, mostly under house arrest and is said to have arrived in the Turkish capital Ankara, early last month, traveling on a forged Saudi passport. He checked into a luxury hotel and was detain.

Iran refused to take him back, according to Turkish sources. After several weeks in limbo, Turkey decided to deport Abu Ghaith to the country of his birth, Kuwait. Kuwait didn't want him back either.

Eventually, Abu Ghaith was transferred to U.S. custody and secretly flown to New York to face trial. Some Republicans argue that makes him an enemy combatant who should be tried by a military commission at Guantanamo.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: We're putting the administration on notice. We think that sneaking this guy into the country clearly going around the intent of Congress when it comes to enemy combatants will be challenged.

CANDIOTTI: But the Obama administration says it's trying to close Gitmo, not add to its prisoners and that trying Abu Ghaith in New York won't jeopardize national security.

PETER BERGEN, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: It's a sort of case that would be relatively easy to try in New York. I mean, New York federal court has a 100 percent conviction rate for people who are accused of al Qaeda crimes.

CANDIOTTI: His indictment unsealed, Abu Ghaith stands accused of one count of conspiring to kill Americans and allegedly recruiting others to do the same.

In court documents, prosecutors quote him saying this after 9/11: "The storms will not stop, especially the airplane storms", warning Americans not to board any aircraft and not to live in high-rises.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CANDIOTTI: He is known as the mouthpiece of al Qaeda. So it will be interesting to see when he shows up in court this morning, John, whether he says anything. I mean, this is a mere formality. The charges will simply be read to him. But you never know.

BERMAN: We will be watching. Susan Candiotti, our thanks to you. It's 5:04, as you say.

CANDIOTTI: Absolutely. I understand.

BERMAN: Nice to see you.

SAMBOLIN: Actually, 5:04 on the nose.

All eyes are on Wall Street on the jobs report this morning. The anticipation builds as we couldn't the down to the February jobs report. It's due in about 3 1/2 hours.

We're also watching and wondering how high the Dow can go. Will it be an all-time high again? It opens up this morning.

High, right? So --

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Good morning.

Futures are higher. We had a high again yesterday for the Dow Jones Industrial Average. The S&P 500 which is more likely what your stock portfolio and 401(k) is, that's about 1 percent and change away from a record high.

Look, it will depend today on what happens in the jobs report at 8:30 as Zoraida said, jobs report for February comes out. This is what we're expecting -- expecting 170,000 jobs created in the month and unemployment rate to dip lower to 7.8 percent.

That's still too high. Many people say in fact they look at that number on the right-hand of your screen, say, wait, stocks are at record highs, you've got -- you've got U.S. household wealth almost returning to peak levels, erasing the losses of the recession. Workers haven't felt that. Workers haven't necessarily felt that gain. That 7.8 percent number still a problem.

So, you're seeing these two things happen, you're seeing stocks powering ahead because companies are doing well. But you're seeing the jobless rate still remain a little stubbornly high, 170,000 is what we're expecting for the jobs report in about 3 1/2 hours.

BERMAN: Stay tuned for that.

ROMANS: Stay tuned.

BERMAN: All right. Five minutes after the hour right now.

And happening right now, anyone else have an awful trip into work this morning?

SAMBOLIN: It was disgusting and sloshy and snowy and wet and icky. How about that?

BERMAN: Exactly. The Northeast feeling the effects from this powerful, persistent storm. It has been lingering on the East Coast for the past two days. At least eight states are under winter weather warnings at this hour, bracing for strong winds, rain, snow, general disgustingness, including coastal flooding.

Lots of it is on its way to New England, New York, Long Island, could see three to five edges today. Well, the Boston area -- where gosh I hope to be heading -- could get up to a foot. The heaviest snow will fall in parts of New Hampshire. Eastern Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island will also get a bunch of snow.

SAMBOLIN: Good gracious.

BERMAN: Samantha Mohr is in the severe weather center in Atlanta.

Samantha, this just sounds bad.

SAMANTHA MOHR, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes, it is. As you look here at the water vapor satellite imagery, John, you can see all the moisture still embedded. So the center of circulation is starting to move away from land. We still have moisture that's going to be wrapping in here.

And, of course, we have that surge, so we have problems with the coastal flood threat and the area of low pressure continues to spin and bring that water into the coastline we still have a coastal flood warning, high tide happening just about now in the New York City area. So, those areas affected that were by Sandy likely will be affected again today.

And this morning should be the worst at around 8:00 up here on the Massachusetts coastline. So, that's what we'll be watching for us. Be very careful if you're going to be out here in the I-95 Interstate, trying to make your way up the coast. It's not a good day for travel as you were talking about.

The winds are pretty much out of the north right now, right around 20 to 25 miles per hour. So, yes, batten down the hatches. It will be a while before this ends. We're thinking tonight. By this evening, we should start to see things start to slacken up a bit.

BERMAN: Still, we got a full day of this.

Samantha Mohr, our thanks to you.

SAMBOLIN: And you're headed to Boston or you think you're headed to Boston today.

BERMAN: I'd like to be. That's the plan.

SAMBOLIN: Good luck with that.

BERMAN: Thanks.

SAMBOLIN: All right. New details this morning on that deadly lion attack at a California sanctuary. According to the local coroner, 24- year-old Dianna Hanson died quickly from a broken neck. There was no blood when Cous Cous, the lion who killed her, apparently escaped from his cage and attacked her in a larger enclosure.

Hanson had been working at the Cat Haven sanctuary since January, while her father admits she was never happier. Her love for big cats always had him on edge.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PAUL HANSON, SR., DAUGHTER KILLED BY LION: That always got me, her in the cage. That always scared me. I always had a bad premonition that someday those animals could turn on her. She was absolutely fearless, she was no more afraid of the lions and tigers than she was of the house cat.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SAMBOLIN: Paul Hanson said his daughter died doing what she loved and that's helping him cope with this major loss.

BERMAN: The funeral for the late Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez happens in a few hours in Caracas. Fifty-four international delegations and at least 22 head of state will attend. Among those, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Cuban President Raul Castro. Already, 2 million Venezuelans have travelled to see the late leader's body.

Chavez died at the age of 58 on Tuesday following a battle with cancer.

Venezuelan Vice President Nicolas Maduro will be sworn in as the interim president tonight.

Maduro also announcing that the body of Chavez will lie in state for seven days before it is embalmed and placed in a gas case forever. This special tomb is now under construction in a museum in Caracas, which will be dedicated to what they call the populist revolution of Hugo Chavez.

SAMBOLIN: North Korea facing tough new U.N. sanctions this morning in a unanimous vote. The Security Council passed a measure that will make it difficult for North Korea to funnel cash into its nuclear weapons program. China could have used its veto power to block that plan but voted in favor of the sanctions. The vote came hours after Pyongyang threatened a preemptive strike against its enemies, including the United States.

BERMAN: Kentucky Senator Rand Paul said he got what he wanted after the marathon 13-hour filibuster on Wednesday. The filibuster delayed a vote on John Brennan's nomination to be CIA director, though Brennan was ultimately confirmed by the Senate in a 63-34 vote.

In a letter to Paul yesterday, Attorney General Eric Holder confirmed that President Obama does not have the authority to use a drone to kill an American not engaged in combat on U.S.

Here's what Paul had to say about this to CNN's Erin Burnett.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: I think the response was important. You don't always get a response from the White House when you make an argument but we've been asking for six weeks for this response. The fact that we got it, I feel like it's a victory for us.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SAMBOLIN: A new op-ed from former President Bill Clinton calling for Supreme Court to overturn the Defense of Marriage Act, which you know he originally signed that into law.

In "The Washington Post" he writes this, quote, "The justices must decide whether it is consistent with the principles of a nation that honors freedom, equality and justice, above all, and is therefore constitutional. As a president who signed the act into law, I have come to believe that DOMA is contrary to those principles and in fact incompatible with our Constitution."

This as a recent CBS News poll shows the majority of Americans, 54 percent, think same-sex marriage should be legal, 39 percent oppose it. The high court will hear arguments on DOMA in three weeks.

BERMAN: So, scientists say another asteroid, this one the size of a football field will whiz past Earth this weekend. This is happening just days after a different, much smaller rock made a closer fly-by. The new asteroid is 330 feet wide and will miss Earth by 306,000 miles when it passes by Saturday.

This is roughly the size of this meteor which exploded last month over Russia. That fireball you remember detonated before astronomers knew it existed. More than 1,600 people were injured, mostly by flying glass.

SAMBOLIN: Well, it could soon be law to require the head of every household in one Georgia town to own a firearm and ammunition. The city council of Nelson, Georgia, population: 1,300, voting unanimously this week to pass what they're calling the Family Protection Act.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Most everybody that lives here that are original residents here have always had firearms.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Our government at the moment they want to take as much away from us as they can.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SAMBOLIN: Council members admit the measure won't be aggressively enforced if it makes it through a final vote next month. They say they're just trying to send a message to Washington about their Second Amendment rights.

One other Georgia town, Kennesaw has had a similar ordinance on the books since 1982. BERMAN: Twelve minutes after the hour right now. And signs that jurors are not buying the story from Jodi Arias, despite a dramatic plea. We will go inside that courtroom, coming up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SAMBOLIN: Welcome back to EARLY START. It is 15 minutes past hour.

More signs that jurors are not buying Jodi Arias' story one month into her murder trial. Arias has now told three versions of how she killed boyfriend Travis Alexander.

CNN's Randi Kaye takes us inside the courtroom during a second day of tough questions.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): If she hadn't been caught in a web of lies, would Jodi Arias ever have come clean about killing Travis Alexander? Jurors wanted to know.

JUDGE: Would you decide to tell the truth if you ever got arrested?

JODI ARIAS, ON TRIAL FOR MURDERING TRAVIS ALEXANDER: I honestly don't know the answer to that question.

KAYE: Why, they ask, did it take her so long to tell the truth?

It wasn't until two years after the killing that she claimed self defense. First, she said she wasn't there, then, changed her story to two masked intruders.

All her lying seems to have hit a nerve with the jury.

JUDGE: After all of the lies you have told, why should we believe you now?

ARIAS: Lying isn't typically something I just do. But the lies that I have told in this case are -- can be tied directly back to either protecting Travis' reputation.

KAYE: And what about Arias' experience with guns.

ARIAS: Never fired a gun, but I was relatively familiar with them.

KAYE: And even if she wasn't sure she had shot Alexander, as she says, why not call 911 for help in case?

ARIAS: When I sort of came out of the fog, I realized, oh, crap. Something bad had happened and I was scared to call any authority at that point.

KAYE (on camera): Right after she killed Alexander, Arias drove to Utah to visit another guy. The jury wanted to know how she could kiss another man just hours after shooting and stabbing her ex- boyfriend to death. She explained she had no choice. She had to show up to avoid suspicion.

(voice-over): And like every other day in court, the testimony eventually turned to the couple's sex life. The jury has listened to recordings of their phone sex, read their dirty text messages, even looked at naked pictures they took the day of the killing.

But they wanted to know more. If he had abused Arias in the past, as she claims, why did she go along with Alexander's sexual fantasies?

JUDGE: If you were scared of what Travis was capable of doing, why would you ever let him tie you up?

ARIAS: When that occurred, he was in a very good mood, and again, they were -- they were loose enough to wiggle out of. So I wasn't like stuck there.

KAYE: And on the day she killed him --

JUDGE: Was Travis tied up at any point on June 4, 2008?

ARIAS: No.

KAYE: There were also more questions about Arias' memory lapses.

JUDGE: You remember dropping the knife and screaming, but you don't remember taking the gun or rope with you?

ARIAS: It goes blank after that. I don't remember putting the gun in the car. I don't remember putting the rope in the car.

JUDGE: How can you say that you don't have memory issues when you can't remember how you stabbed him so many times and slashed his throat?

ARIAS: Well, I think that I have a good memory and June 4th is an anomaly for me. I don't think I have memory issues that are any different from another average person.

KAYE: One thing Arias may never forget are these pictures of Travis Alexander dead.

JUDGE: Would you agree that you came away from the June 4 incident rather unscathed while Travis suffered a gunshot and multiple stab wounds? You only had a bump on your head or bruise on your head, cuts or scrapes on your ankles and a possible shoulder injury?

ARIAS: As far as making comparison of physical injuries, him versus mine -- yes, I would have to say that's a relatively accurate assessment.

KAYE: Randi Kaye, CNN, Phoenix, Arizona.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BERMAN: Some tough, tough questions from jurors.

SAMBOLIN: It's been fascinating to watch.

BERMAN: Nineteen minutes after the hour right now. I want to bring you up to speed on the top news today.

Here's Christine Romans with the headlines.

ROMANS: And good morning to both of you.

Osama bin Laden's son-in-law just hours in appearing in federal court in New York. Sulaiman Abu Ghaith scheduled to be arraigned at 10:00 a.m. Eastern on charges he conspired to kill Americans. The former al Qaeda spokesman was captured in Jordan last week, faces a maximum penalty of life in prison.

How long will the Dow's streak last? Stocks hit another record closing at a new high. If you're keeping track, 14,329. That's when traded ended yesterday.

The S&P 500 inching close to its all-time high, just shy of 2 percentage points, 2 percent away from that.

All right. Right now, the powerful winter storm bringing strong winds, pounding surf, beach erosion now to New England. It's also expected to drop three to five inches of snow on New York City, eight to 12 on Boston, significant snowfall also expected in New Hampshire, Connecticut and Rhode Island.

Justin Bieber recovering after fainting mid-show during his concert at London's arena last night. The 19-year-old had to take a 20-minute break and weighs reportedly treated with oxygen before finishing the concert. He posted this picture later that night from a local hospital with a tweet --

BERMAN: Oh!

SAMBOLIN: I know, right?

ROMANS: "Getting better, thanks for getting me through."

SAMBOLIN: Pull that up.

ROMANS: "Best fans in the world. Thanks for the love."

You know, if you really want a good laugh, you got to go Google his 19th birthday outfit. I'm just saying.

SAMBOLIN: We'll do that and then we'll post it. Thank you, Christine.

ROMANS: You're welcome.

BERMAN: Coming up, Facebook's face lift. Will you like the new look? We break down the features, coming up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BERMAN: Welcome back to EARLY START, everyone. We are minding your business this morning.

And the Dow hit another record on Thursday, and there could be more coming. Futures are pointing to more gains today. The S&P 500 also nearing its record high, just 20 points away. Which if you do the math which is about 1.3 percent.

SAMBOLIN: Could we see more momentum?

ROMANS: We could.

You know, this morning, we have some momentum this morning from -- in Japan. It looks like they've got some data showing that they're coming out of a recession. So, that's got Japanese stocks moving higher. We have this monthly jobs report due at 8:30 a.m. Eastern. Economists are predicting 170,000 jobs added to the payrolls in February. The unemployment rate expected to tick down to 7.8 percent.

You know what I'm going to be looking for? How that big snowstorm in the Northeast in February may have affected this. Also, forced spending cuts formally known as the sequester, how that might be at play here.

So, there's a lot of moving parts of this jobs report and I'm going to be really interested to se the health of the labor market, especially we've been seeing the record highs in stocks. But we know that workers are not feeling the benefits that companies and investors are feeling. So that's a really interesting trend.

All but one of the nation's largest banks, by the way, could survive another deep recession. This is according to the Federal Reserve's latest stress test. Of the 18 banks the Fed tested, only Ally Financial showed big enough losses. Meaning, they're big enough to pull out, put it out of business.

Ally is the former finance arm of General Motors. Citigroup was the top performer among the six largest banking institutions.

And have you heard about the Facebook facelift?

SAMBOLIN: We've been talking about it.

ROMANS: You're going to start to see it. It says the news feed update is supposed to reduce clutter, focus more on stories from people you care about. In addition to the news feed you're going to also see several new feeds, one for all friends which shows everything they're sharing.

One for photos, one for music and one called following which has news from pages you like and the people your following. They're rolling out the new features for everyone in the next few weeks.

You know what's interesting? You can go on and you can tell Facebook I want to -- get me on the list, I want the upgrade. We're told there's a backlog for the upgrade.

SAMBOLIN: Oh, really?

ROMANS: Sometimes people complain about upgrades. I don't want changes, blah, blah, blah. This time, it looks as though people are lining up for this upgrade. So --

SAMBOLIN: I wonder if we'll get people using Facebook more again, because, you know, they have a little problem with that.

ROMANS: And whether it will help them make more money because if you're Facebook investor, shareholder, that's what you care about, making money.

SAMBOLIN: Thank you.

ROMANS: You're welcome.

SAMBOLIN: All right. Twenty-seven minutes past the hour.

President Obama with a challenge for Iran, why he says he won't take part in chest beating over nukes.

BERMAN: And why Bill Gates says the education system in the United States is failing our children. The CNN interview, coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)