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Choosing a New Pope; Two Americans Dead in Afghanistan

Aired March 11, 2013 - 15:00   ET


BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Plus, secrecy and smoke -- it's the event that usually happens once a generation. We're taking you inside the decision to elect a new pope.

Top of the hour. I'm Brooke Baldwin. Thanks for being with me here on this Monday.

At least two American soldiers are dead, at least 10 more Americans wounded in what may have been another inside job in Afghanistan's Wardak Province. Happened within just the past couple of hours there in Afghanistan.

We're going to bring in Jake Tapper in Washington. We're going to talk to him about that.

But let's begin with the pope. The eyes of the world, now on the Vatican -- the vote for the pope is one of the world's most intriguing election processes here, also one of the most secret. Tomorrow, cardinals from around the world will lock themselves inside the Sistine Chapel and will not come out until a new pope has been chosen.

And at this point in time, it is still anyone's guess who will appear on the balcony of the Vatican, revealing himself as the next head of the Roman Catholic Church. Until then, we wait and we watch. We have talked about the smoke watch. Keep in mind, if it is black, no decision has been made. If it is white, we have a pope.

Last time, there was a bit of confusion. We didn't know if the smoke was black, didn't know if it was white. This time around, the Vatican says they're now adding more chemicals to the mix. So we will know if we have a pope with that white smoke.

Chris Cuomo is live for us in Rome.

And, Chris, this is the biggest decision the church really ever has to make. But the thing that I don't think a lot of people realize is once they're inside this conclave, they cannot talk about this, there is no speaking. Walk me through just a day inside the conclave.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This situation, Brooke, is so filled with majesty and ritual and history, and the anachronistic quality of having something so secretive, that is done a precisely a certain way in today's modern, everything open, everything to the media society makes it so intriguing. Tough to cover because we can't find anything out. But the history and detail is very interesting. Here is what we know about the conclave. In the morning they have breakfast. Then they have a mass. Prayer is very important to this process because, remember, this is not a political campaign. This is about these men deciding on what is most important for their church going forward.

And then the expectation is that because all of them are eligible, all of them understand what is needed, so whomever is picked should be the right man. They go in there, they have mass. There is only discussion in Latin because it is a strict process. The vote is done. Every man must write down his vote with a specific language about him believing that this is the man who God intends to be pope. He has to walk it up, he has to hold it over his head so everyone can see the ballot. It is folded in half, so his vote is not exposed to everyone.

He then places it in a special urn which you can read like 15 pages about if you wanted to. And then he stares at Michelangelo's last judgment, the beautiful painting and also bringing in the severity of the situation.

BALDWIN: No pressure.

CUOMO: And then he goes and sits down -- 115 times, right? So you get two votes in the morning. Then they burn all the ballots, another majestic ceremony where they tie them up with thread, put them into the famous la estufa, the stove and we wait for the white smoke, right?

And if it is black, that means no decision. White means we have a pope. So they used to do it with wet straw, Brooke. You put in the wet straw, you get the black smoke. You put in dry straw, you get white smoke. They moved away from it. They went to these chemical packs. They now have two stoves with all these chemical packs, but it still doesn't work. The smoke is still very confusing.

We have to wait for the bells, but the bells are always ringing here so really you just have to wait for the new pope to come out. It is a confusing process, but it's worth it because of its magnificence to behold and also the meaning to the church.

BALDWIN: Yes, no, I am with you on the majesty and we all sit here so far from you waiting with bated breath whether you're a Catholic or not, just watching what is unfolding over the course of the next couple of days in Vatican City.

I know you, Chris Cuomo, you talked to New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan, who is considered one of the front-runners here. Tell me what he told you and just what is it like there in Rome for this group of cardinals?

CUOMO: Look, I know Cardinal Dolan. Many of us do in the media, especially as New Yorkers, so it is great to see him here from a pride perspective.

But one of the reasons he deals with it very comedically, whenever it comes up he could be pope, he joked, whoever thinks that is smoking marijuana. Yesterday, he said I can't wait to get home, I'm running out of socks. He said he wants green socks because St. Patrick's Day is coming. He doesn't need any red because a lot of red already as a cardinal.

But part of his joking around goes to the absurdity of speculation. We have to. We only know how to cover elections where we know what's going on and everybody talks. But here the only people who will know what's going on once the deliberations really begin ain't talking under a threat of excommunication, which means they will get kicked out of the church.

When Cardinal Dolan is joking about how do I know, how could I be pope, he's got a good reason to feel that, not to mention the fact he comes from America, which traditionally you don't reward the Catholic Church, the superpower, with the papacy. So it is difficult.

But that being said, this is the first time ever in the history of the conclave that Americans are even in the discussion. And Cardinal Dolan has said himself, boy, just the opportunity to be here, this is his first conclave, obviously, he's feeling great about that experience. But he's expecting to go home at the end of it.

BALDWIN: Chris Cuomo, we appreciate you there in Rome. Enjoy the next couple of weeks, days, however long it takes the cardinals to come up with this next pope. We appreciate you, sir. Thank you.

Now want to tell you the story out of Afghanistan. We know at least two American soldiers, they are dead, and at least 10 more Americans are wounded in what may have been another inside job in Afghanistan's Wardak Province.

This happened within just the past couple of hours. You see the map here, Wardak Province. It is west of Kabul. Afghanistan's President Hamid Karzai exactly two weeks ago he accused the United States of destabilizing Wardak Province. Let me say that again. He accused the U.S. of destabilizing this part of Afghanistan and ordered our special forces out of there.

Then fast-forward to yesterday. Karzai met with Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, and they had what was described as a very direct conversation after which a scheduled joint news conference was canceled, supposedly over security concerns.

CNN chief Washington correspondent Jake Tapper, anchor of the upcoming show "THE LEAD," is live for me in Washington.

I know you have a lot of appearance, Jake, with Afghanistan, as we said, two Americans dead, 10 wounded. And just some odd, murky statements coming out of Afghanistan from President Karzai. We know our troops, our men and women in Afghanistan, they're risking their lives, so what should we make of all of this?

JAKE TAPPER, CNN CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Well, it is very demoralizing for U.S. troops and their families, obviously, both the physical attacks by Afghan soldiers and Afghan security forces. But then, of course, also the rhetorical ones from President Karzai, both in terms of accusing the U.S. of colluding with the Taliban, which he did within the last couple of days, and then also as you mentioned, kicking the U.S. special forces out of Wardak Province, which is not far from Kabul.

It makes the mission more difficult, and also it really is a very difficult message being sent from President Karzai to soldiers who are putting their lives in harm's way for the Afghan people.

BALDWIN: You mentioned, Jake, our supposed ally, Karzai, basically accusing the U.S. of colluding with the Taliban. Here is precisely what he said.


HAMID KARZAI, PRESIDENT OF AFGHANISTAN (through translator): The bombing that took place yesterday and was carried out in the name of the Taliban, these actions in fact show that the Taliban are at the service of the foreigners and are not against the foreigners. These bombings show that the Taliban want a longer presence of the foreigners, not their departure from Afghanistan.


BALDWIN: We have given more than 2,000 lives to get rid of these horrible people. Why would this ally of ours, again, I say supposed ally, Hamid Karzai, say this?

TAPPER: Well, he's obviously saying it for domestic consumption. The attack he's referring to, Afghan lives were lost, I don't believe, though we still are waiting for more information -- I don't believe any American lives were taken.

Karzai makes comments like this periodically aimed at his domestic audience, aimed at trying to win popular support. Senior administration officials say that behind the scenes, Karzai is reasonable, he never makes comments like this, that it's only for domestic consumption that he says things like this. They're not always a coherence about it

Here, he's accusing the U.S. of colluding with the Taliban. In the past, he's talked about how the U.S. and the Taliban are, you know, deadly enemies. He's talked about joining the Taliban. There is not always a logic to what he's saying. Some in the administration say it doesn't really matter, these comments are just for domestic consumption, it doesn't really have any effect on how the war is waged inside Afghanistan, but others senior administration officials say it does have an effect because it makes it more difficult to keep support for the war within the United States.

So he is damaging the war effort, at least when it comes to U.S. popular support, according to some officials, Brooke.

BALDWIN: OK. Jake Tapper, thank you. Jake, I have to get used to not saying "THE SITUATION ROOM WITH WOLF BLITZER" is next. I'm going to say, Jake Tapper, "THE LEAD" next. We got to remind everyone.


TAPPER: You have one week. You have one week to get used to it.

BALDWIN: One week. I have got this. Do you have this? You ready?

TAPPER: We will see.

BALDWIN: OK. "THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER" debuts Monday, March 18, 4:00 Eastern. Be here. Jake Tapper, thank you.

TAPPER: Thanks, Brooke.


BALDWIN: Coming up next: An SUV packed with eight teenagers swerves off a dark road, flips upside down, lands in a pond. Six of those teenagers died. Two managed to escape. They're alive. We're talking to one of the survivors, this just in, next.


BALDWIN: Devastated family members and friends in this small town in Northeast Ohio today. A Sunday morning SUV crash claimed the lives of five boys and a young woman who was behind the steering wheel. The SUV smashed into a guardrail, flipped into an icy swamp. Two boys managed to break through a window. They escaped. They go and call 911.

And Brian Todd, who is there live, just talked to one of the -- talked to one of the survivors here. Listen to this.


BRIAN HENRY, CRASH SURVIVOR: They came. They picked us up. We get around (INAUDIBLE) curve, we ride and she starts speeding. She jerked the wheel a little bit, and that's when she lost control of the whole car.


HENRY: I couldn't believe it. Like, ain't nobody said nothing when we was in the motion of crashing.

Like, we couldn't do nothing. We hit the railing, the car flipped over upside-down. While I'm in the car, I'm talking to my friend (INAUDIBLE) he was telling me to bust the window. I was already getting to that, but I had got knocked conscious. I was in the front seat.

I got hit to the back. I seen the first light, so I went to the window, and started busting the window with my elbow. And the whole time he was telling me to bust it, I was getting to the -- and then, after I got out, the seat belt was still around my leg -- both my legs, but the car was upside down. I had to pull myself up to get it. And I had lost my pants and stuff. So, I was in the water with some socks, shorts and T-shirt.

TODD: And you swam out?

HENRY: Mm-hmm.


BALDWIN: Brian Todd, let me bring you in.

You know, in cases like these, he spoke so matter of factually. This was, what, 24 hours ago, when this happened. He seems numb.

TODD: Right. He seemed a little bit numb, Brooke. He's only 18 years old, just trying to get his mind and heart around what happened, and of course the loss of all of his friends. This is where it happened. This is the swamp where the SUV went in.

This is about the spot where it landed. People have thrown flowers and other things down there. And up here, you have a makeshift memorial, a lot of stuffed animals, notes, flowers being laid for the victims here. And people have been stopping by all day.

Just a short time ago, I spoke to the mother of 15-year-old Kirkland Behner. He would have turned 16 this month, his mother still just trying to deal with everything that just happened. Take a listen.


DEANNA BEHNER, MOTHER OF VICTIM: I just want him to come home and he can't. No parent can understand what it's like to lose -- well, some parents can understand what it's like to lose a child, but you don't really know it until it hits you.

And he can't come home, he can't come through the door, mom, what's for dinner, what did you cook, mom? I'm not going to hear none of it anymore.

KYLE BEHNER, BROTHER OF VICTIM: They had to have me identify him. I went back there, and all I seen was just tubes and blood everywhere. And after I identified him, I ran out, and I couldn't -- I just lost everything.


TODD: That was Kyle Behner. He's the brother of Kirkland Behner. Kyle, as you might have gathered there, was the one who had to go and identify his brother's body -- two people who just really can't absorb quite yet what has happened, Brooke.

BALDWIN: What about seat belts, Brian Todd? What do we know?

TODD: The police have said there was some seat belt usage, but that's really all they're saying. We have to remember this vehicle could really only accommodate five people and it was carrying eight.

And the police were saying they do know that there was some seat belt usage. Interesting, that survivor, Brian Henry, told me he had his seat belt on at one point. He was sitting in the front. But when he got a sense that they were going to crash, he took it off. He thought it would encumber him. He was one of two who made it out.

BALDWIN: Brian Todd, thank you so much, so tragic. Hearts and prayers obviously going out to friends and family members there in Ohio.

Coming up next, we are expecting a verdict now in the trial of the so-called cannibal cop. He's accused of conspiring to kidnap, cook and eat his female victims. He never did, leaving the jury with this one question, can the fantasies he had be prosecuted? We will take you live to New York City next.


BALDWIN: A verdict could come any moment now in the trial of the so- called cannibal cop. He's this man who is accused of fantasizing about eating and killing women. This is a case that really centers on this one question, can your fantasies be prosecuted?

Let's go live to New York, where Sunny Hostin is standing outside this courthouse.

And, Sunny, we talked about this trial a lot. Has the jury asked for anything specific?


On Friday, they came back and asked for transcripts from six people, four of the victims, one FBI agent, one police officer. They also, interestingly enough, asked a question about venue. Brooke, that's legalese for jurisdiction, whether or not the government had jurisdiction to even bring this case, based on the facts that came out at trial.

I have got to tell you, having watched so many juries myself, I was shocked that that kind of question -- well, I just learned today there is a lawyer on this jury. He's sitting in seat number three and perhaps that's what the holdup is, because they have been deliberating almost 13 hours over three days. That's a long time for a case like this with only two counts.

Remember, Casey Anthony's jury was out for about 35 hours. And that was a very complicated case with high emotions. So the fact that this jury, with that lawyer on it, is still deliberating day three is odd. And, Brooke, get this, they just asked for more coffee and hot tea. They're digging in.

BALDWIN: They are in it for a little while longer, it sounds like. Sunny Hostin in New York, Sunny, thank you. We will come back to you if you hear anything new with regard to a possible verdict. Coming up next, though, we have news on everyone and everything, including if you want to get married these days, it will cost you a lot.

Also, Justin Bieber had a really, really bad weekend. And a slam dunk you have to see to believe. And a new rocket doing something you have never seen before. We got it all coming up. It's the power block. Stay with me.