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STARTING POINT WITH SOLEDAD O'BRIEN

Countdown to the Conclave; Interviews with Monsignor Rick Hilgartner, Father Edward Beck; Americans Killed in Afghanistan; Backlash Against New TSA Guidelines

Aired March 11, 2013 - 08:00   ET

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


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome, everybody.

Our STARTING POINT this morning is picking the new pope. Today, 115 cardinal will take the oath of secrecy. And tomorrow, they will begin the process of electing a new pope. We're live in Rome with what you can expect ahead.

And six young lives cut short. Teenagers in a horrific crash in a small Ohio town. This morning the search for exactly what happened.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: New this morning, Americans among those killed in a possible green on blue attack in Afghanistan. We will have the details straight ahead.

Plus, could Congress get involved over the TSA new regulations allowing small knives and sports equipment on airplanes? We'll hear from a flight attendant about why she believes the new guidelines put you at risk.

O'BRIEN: And are women holding themselves back? Facebook's Sheryl Sandberg touching off nerves with her new book about women, the workforce and leadership and examining why more woman aren't in top leadership positions.

It's Monday, March 11th. And STARTING POINT begins right now.

(MUSIC)

O'BRIEN: Welcome, everybody.

Our team this morning: Bonnie Fuller is with us. She's the founder of Hollywoodlife.com. Belinda Luscumbe is with us, editor-at-large for "TIME" magazine. She's the one who got that first interview with Sheryl Sandberg. We were talking about that last week. We're talking about it again. More details about her new book. And Ryan Lizza is back. He's a Washington correspondent for "The New Yorker."

John sticks around, as well.

We begin with a pivotal moment in papal history. The Catholic Church is about to decide its future direction, its future overall, and the distinct possibility that we could know as early as tomorrow who will guide the church's 1.2 billion members.

The 115 cardinal electors in the conclave will place their first vote tomorrow afternoon. Now, yesterday, the cardinals fanned out across room. Each of them assigned to preach at a designated church.

Miguel Marquez is live for us in Vatican City with more on I guess you call them the contending cardinals. How is it going this morning, Miguel?

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It is the calm before the storm, but it's certainly energetic here and we can start to feel growing here.

Let me show a couple of things here. We're in front of St. Peter's Basilica here. Off to the right there, you can see the tiny chimney up there, that world famous chimney. And that's where the black or white smoke will come. That will announce to the world whether a new pope has been named.

And way over to the left of the basilica, you will see a giant bell. That's the ninth biggest bell in the world, by the way. That's the biggest bell at the basilica. And when that bell rings, it will decide for sure whether that smoke is black or white.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MARQUEZ (voice-over): Crunch time at the Vatican. The chimney, the chimney that will announce to the world whether there's a new pope is placed atop the treasured 500-year-old Sistine Chapel. It is delicate work upholding a tradition where white smoke billowing from the chimney signals a new pope has been named.

JOHN ALLEN, CNN SENIOR VATICAN ANALYST: The last thing they want is for the Sistine Chapel to turn into a smoke-filled room.

MARQUEZ: It is after all where Michelangelo applied his hand. The specialized stove and chemical who enhances the smoke's color goes along with the chimney. It does take time for the smoke to go from gray to either white or black.

ALLEN: One of the bits of drama about a conclave is that the Catholic Church normally is a highly scripted, imminently predictable enterprise. You know exactly what is going to happen and you know when it's going to happen. But when the conclave in a sense all bets are off.

MARQUEZ: The conclave, their decision shrouded in secrecy and tradition, and some modern twists. Electronic jamming equipment ensures no one inside or outside the conclave knows the result before it's ready to be announced.

CARDINAL TIMOTHY DOLAN, ARCHBISHOP OF NEW YORK: I'm ready to go home. I ran out of socks.

MARQUEZ: The front-runners out in force in Rome.

There's Cardinal Odilo Scherer of Sao Paolo, Brazil. Could he be the first pope from the new world?

One of the front runners, Cardinal Angelo Scola of Milan, Italy, said mass at Rome's Church of the 12 Apostles.

And there's one of the dark horse candidates, Boston's Sean O'Malley. Could he be the first American pope?

CARDINAL SEAN O'MALLEY, ARCHBISHOP OF BOSTON: Let us pray that the Holy Spirit illumines the church to choose a new pope who will confirm us in our faith and make more visible the love of the good shepherd.

MARQUEZ: The public politicking nearly over. Once the conclave starts, the cardinals go into deep seclusion until a decision is made.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MARQUEZ: We saw Cardinal Scola actually, I believe it was Cardinal Scola, come out of here. These guys are rock stars here at the Vatican and across Rome right now. This is the last time we'll probably see him or any of these cardinals out. Tomorrow they go into seclusion.

And the first sign, the first time we'll see smoke from that chimney up there around 2:00 Eastern tomorrow. White or black? We'll have to wait.

O'BRIEN: Yes. And, you know, we're all going to be watching it closely.

All right. Miguel Marquez for us -- thanks, Miguel. He's in Vatican City in Rome this morning.

Let's get right to Monsignor Rick Hilgartner. He's the head of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, secretariat on divine worship, CNN contributor. Father Edward Beck is in Rome.

I'm going to start with you, Monsignor, which I love saying. So, it sounds from Miguel's description that these cardinals are like rock stars, the final mass, now they're about to head off into -- explain to me exactly what kind of campaigning can be done for a cardinal who believes that he should be pope.

MSGR. RICK HILGARTNER, U.S. CONF. OF CATHOLIC BISHOPS: It's very subtle if it's being done at all.

O'BRIEN: Kissing babies doesn't sound very subtle.

HILGARTNER: That's Cardinal Dolan's natural way. I mean, he does that on a normal Sunday in St. Patrick's Cardinal. He's just that charismatic as a leader.

The conversations that are going on now, that their final general congregation has concluded means it's all now the informal conversations that take place over dinner, as they're tomorrow morning moving in to the Domo Santa Marta. Once they actually go into the Sistine Chapel, the conversations cease. The actual voting process is governed by a highly formal ritual that's all conducted in Latin.

And so, the only conversations that would take place would be the quiet whispers one to another. And they're sitting in absolute hierarchical order. So, they're not necessarily in camps or sitting with their friends or people they know, or sitting in their voting blocs from different countries.

But they sit in their order of precedence and order of seniority. So they don't choose where they sit. And it's basically done in silence.

O'BRIEN: Let me ask Father Beck a question.

Here's what Matthew Bunson, who's a general editor of the "Catholic Almanac" and this is from "The New York Times." He said this, and he was correlating the cardinals who are active in social media to those who also seem to be the frontrunners which I thought was kind of interesting.

He said this, "When you finger down the list of tweeting cardinals, many of them that are considered papabile. Cardinal Angelo Scola of Italy tweets aggressively. Odilo Scherer of Brazil has Twitter, and, of course, Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York is very popular online."

Do you think, Father Beck, who, by the way, we tweet back and forth, do you think that, in fact, there is some correlation between aggressive on social media and being sort of high up on the list of possible popes?

FATHER EDWARD BECK, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I'm not really sure how much impact that has, because when you read most of the tweets, they're rather innocuous. I do think that those who are tweeting, though, are very interesting candidates.

Yesterday, I was at that mass with Cardinal Dolan. And he was indeed like a rock star in that church. It was obvious to me that Italians, even thought it is his titular church here in Rome had never seen him before. They were amazed at the personality that exuded from Cardinal Dolan.

When I was outside, I was standing next to an Italian gentleman and he said something to me in Italian that I didn't quite get, it sounded very idiomatic. And so, I said to the person next to me, can you translate what he just said? And the man said, "Iron fist in a velvet glove."

Perhaps for many, perhaps for many, that is quintessential definition for Cardinal Dolan. He is a staunch conservative. He is orthodox. And yet, he does it with a smile, with a compassion and accessibility that many are looking for in a pope today.

O'BRIEN: He's the archbishop of New York, of course. So, I had an opportunity to hear him a lot. But I think there are a lot of people who would say there is no way an American is going to be pick as pope.

So do you think -- we heard Miguel say 2:00 p.m. tomorrow is the first possible time a vote will be taken. Do you think it will be that straightforward, by 2:00, we'll see the black, white, gray smoke?

HILGARTNER: Well, it always starts gray. It takes a while to figure it out. Last time --

O'BRIEN: I remember.

HILGARTNER: -- in 2005, they had to -- there was even confusion when they rang the bell because the bells ring pretty regularly.

O'BRIEN: I remember. We were all live on TV and kind of figure out what was going on.

HILGARTNER: Is the bell ringing or is it just ringing for 12:00 noon?

I really don't see it happening in one vote. In the first ballot, in the early ballots, they can have as many candidates as they want. So, there could be 20 different people getting votes. And it means that no one's ever get to get to a two-thirds majority.

Cardinal Francis George of Chicago said last week that it's the first ballot that will really show the mind to the College of Cardinals, the first time that they'll see the collective mind of the body, as they see who gets votes.

O'BRIEN: The narrowing down.

HILGARTNER: So it will take several days, I think.

O'BRIEN: Monsignor Richard Hilgartner and Father Edward Beck joining us from Rome this morning -- thanks, gentlemen. We certainly appreciate it. I can't wait to watch all this. It's very exciting.

HILGARTNER: It will be an interesting time.

(CROSSTALK)

BELINDA LUSCUMBE, TIME: -- small things that way.

O'BRIEN: I think it's great. I don't know what that means.

RYAN LIZZA, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: (INAUDIBLE) C-Span cameras.

O'BRIEN: Wouldn't that be great inside? And everybody should be allowed to tweet what's going on. We should be able to plant somebody inside to know what really is happening.

We appreciate it, thank you for being with us.

Got to get to breaking news this morning. Listen.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

O'BRIEN: So, we're getting more information on this Afghanistan attack that happened on Monday, learning that Americans in fact are among those who are killed this morning. The attack happened in eastern Afghanistan. Unclear if those Americans are service members or what exactly their roles are in Afghanistan. Several NATO and Afghan troops were also reportedly killed.

We're told somebody was wearing an Afghan service uniform opened fire on the group. It was another of what they're calling a green on blue attack.

We're going to continue to follow this story and bring you more information as it breaks and as it becomes available. We'll keep watching it.

John Berman has got a look at some other stories making news.

BERMAN: Thanks, Soledad. Well, right now, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is in Germany. He just left Afghanistan this morning after a tense meeting with President Hamid Karzai.

Karzai is publicly accusing the U.S. of collaborating with the Taliban to keep Afghanistan destabilized. His claim is that the goal is to justify keeping a military presence in that country beyond 2014.

Chuck Hagel is telling reporters that he assured Karzai that is simply not the case.

New overnight, the North Korean army declaring an armistice agreement that ended the Korean War in 1953 is invalid. That announcement coming on the heels of joint military exercises between the U.S. and South Korea that are getting under way this morning. North Korea is calling the drills, quote, "an open declaration of war" and also threatening a new clear attack against the United States. They are clearly raising the rhetoric here.

But analysts say the North is nowhere near the technology to back that threat up. The North has nullified the armistice agreement several times in the past we should also add that.

Police in Warren, Ohio, say speed was definitely a factor in the SUV crash that killed six teens over the weekend, but it is not known just how fast the driver was going when the car went off the road, flipped over, and ended up in the pond. The six victims range in age from 14 to 19.

Their families and friends are now dealing with just unimaginable grief.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ASHIA CAYSON, VICTIM'S SISTER: (INAUDIBLE) days in. I kept seeing people walking around and I thought it was her, and it wasn't each time.

TIM CAYSON, VICTIM'S UNCLE: I just had to walk, you know, and walk and identify her body and it was her.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: Two teens in the SUV did survive the crash. According to police, some of those on board weren't wearing seatbelts. Meanwhile while the Northeast experienced spring like conditions this is weekend, parts of the Upper Midwest are digging out from yet another powerful winter blast. This is video from Iowa, a very snowy Interstate 35 proved to be a bit too icy for some cars. They ended up on the side of the road, crashing in to ditches there.

So, Facebook's chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg igniting some serious discussion with her new book, "Lean In." It examines why there are so few women in positions of power in corporate America and the problem says Sandberg may just be with the women themselves.

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SHERYL SANDBERG, FACEBOOK COO, AUTHOR, "LEAN IN": I'm not trying to say that everything I can do everyone can do. But I do believe that these messages are completely universal. The things that hold women back hold women back from sitting at the board room table, and they hold women back from speaking up at the PTA meeting.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: Soledad is going to sit down with Sheryl Sandberg this week. We'll bring you that interview next week. And all day today on CNN, we're going to take an in-depth look at the challenges women face with special coverage "What Woman Want: Work and Family".

O'BRIEN: It is so interesting. Every time a woman writes some kind of an article, right? Anne-Marie Slaughter, for example, talking about how it's not possible to have it all, it sets off this firestorm are or even the cover, was it "Newsweek" that did the cover of the work that was nursing her --

LUSCUMBE: "TIME" magazine.

O'BRIEN: "TIME" magazine, it's never just sort of, oh, this is interesting or I disagree or I agree with it. It just sends people into an absolute tizzy. It's an indication of how much I guess frustration, anger, hopefulness there is sort of underneath the topic.

LUSCUMBE: Sheryl was not surprised about this actually, when -- she was not surprise after, you were surprised the sort of personal attacks that you were getting, because if you remember, before the book came out, there was a lot of hatred sort of swirling around what she was trying to say.

O'BRIEN: Even before the book came out, the galleys didn't exist.

(CROSSTALK)

LUSCUMBE: But she said these things are incredibly personal and they're incredibly passionate. Like women feel them very, very strongly.

BERMAN: And it's complicated. If it were easy, we'd have the answers. We don't clearly, which is why there are so much fashion -- BONNIE FULLER, FOUNDER, HOLLYWOODLIFE.COM: And both women -- women just feel so torn, because women tend to be perfectionists. They want to be the best at their jobs, but they also want to be the best mothers they can be. And so, they live in a perpetual state of guilt and a feeling like they can't succeed at either role properly. And I think she addresses these issues in this book very well.

O'BRIEN: Yes. It's going to be interesting to see when people can actually go out and get the book and read it and --

FULLER: It's available today.

(LAUGHTER)

(CROSSTALK)

LUSCUMBE: I mean, studies have shown actually that women, that mother -- women spend more time with their kids. If you're working, you spend as much time with your kids as the stay-at-home mom did all those years ago. Engaged time.

O'BRIEN: Right. But the fact that we have to look at that research, right, is an indication of a bigger issue.

(CROSSTALK)

O'BRIEN: We got to take a break. We're going to continue to talk about this. As growing course, this morning, the TSA reversed that policy that now allows small knives on planes (INAUDIBLE) of flight attendant for united lays out the reasons that she thinks what the TSA has decided is dangerous. That's ahead.

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O'BRIEN: Congress is threatening action over the TSA's controversial decision to allow passengers to carry small knives on board to airplanes. New York senator, Chuck Schumer, says if the TSA doesn't budge, he could look into changing the policy.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. CHARLES SCHUMER, (D) NEW YORK: Usually, when a government agency makes some kind of ruling, even if you disagree with it, at least you see the logic. I don't see any logic here. I hear outcries from passengers about this. Almost no one has called my office to say why can't I bring a sharp knife on an airplane.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: Sara Nelson is the vice president of the Association of Flight Attendants International which also opposes the TSA's ruling. She's also a flight attendant with United Airlines. You have to laugh when you hear Chuck Schumer say that because he does say, listen, you know, it's not like you're getting calls and pressure on the other side. I know you're unhappy about this, but as you know, the TSA says they got to focus on more important, maybe riskier things. Don't they have a point about that?

SARA NELSON, VICE PRESIDENT, ASSN. OF FLIGHT ATTENDANTS INTERNATIONAL: They don't, actually, from our perspective. What the TSA is saying is that security stops at the cockpit door. And that doesn't sit well with the flight attendants who are first responders on board and the last line of defense or any of the passengers who are in our care.

You know, we have to have the tools to be able to address the problems that happen on a daily basis, and we do that very well. We deescalate problems and we direct passengers when necessary to help contain the problems on board. Introducing weapons into that scenario just doesn't make any sense.

O'BRIEN: There's a "USA Today" editorial about this TSA decision, and one of the things that they point back to is back in 2005, as I'm sure you're well aware, scissors with blades of less than four inches and seven-inch long screwdrivers were allowed on board. And they go on to say, this is the administrator, John Pistole.

He says, "If anything, those sound more dangerous than folding knives with blades barely more than two inches long, yet," says the TSA administrator, "billions of people have traveled without a single incident."

I guess, their point would be it just sounds like it's dangerous. When you actually look back to something that could have been equally dangerous that was changed in 2005, there's been no real huge indicator that that actually was a problem. Does he have a point?

NELSON: Well, this is a really slippery slope. So, what are we going to do, are we going to continue down this road? The federal air marshals agree with us and so does law enforcement across the country that we do not need these blades on board. These will be concealed weapons. And, there were blades that were smaller than this that caused all the damage that took place on September 11th.

Let's not forget that. The reason that we don't have knives on board our aircraft today is because of September 11th and that attack that happened here on U.S. soil. So, the other thing that they're talking about is harmonizing with Europe. Well, the pant bomber and the shoe bomber, the only terrorist attacks that have happened since 9/11 with aviation, they went through security in Amsterdam and Paris. We want to follow their lead? I don't think so.

(CROSSTALK)

O'BRIEN: But in some way, that is their point, right? Like, let's focus our resources on the shoe bomber and the underwear bomber because those are the things that can blow a massive hole in the side of the plane and given a, you know, specific number of resources, you've got to make some decisions about where you think the biggest threat is going to come from. Again, I'm just highlighting what they say is sort of their rationale behind something that when I first read it, sounded ridiculously, you know, -- made no sense to me, but as you read it, they're basically saying, we have a limited number of dollars. Shouldn't we put our energy into where we know the efforts are going to try to bring a plane down which are those things that you described?

NELSON: This is really simple, Soledad. So, it's not just about getting that airplane on the ground safely. It's about making sure that everyone onboard that aircraft is alive and safe when it lands. And, it's very simple to say no knives on board. What is the TSA going to do now? They're going to have arguments with people about how big that knife is?

This is going to slow down security. It's not going to speed it up. And it's not going to have the desired effect. Security is a layered approach. And flight attendants are the last line of defense in that security. Do not make our lives harder in doing our jobs.

We have these disturbances every single day, and it's not just about terrorist threats. We have our planes are fuller than ever. People are -- air rage is happening more than ever.

O'BRIEN: We've covered a certain number of like crazy drunk passengers doing crazy things. So, you're saying by -- if those people just had the opportunity to have a switch blade with them, it would be not necessarily a terrorist act, but certainly very, very dangerous.

NELSON: It's very dangerous. And so, we're asking the public everywhere to sign our petition to the White House to get them to weigh in on this. It's NoKnivesOnPlanes.com.

O'BRIEN: Thank you for that Sara Nelson. She's the vice president of the Association of Flight Attendants International. It's nice to talk to you. Thank you for being with us.

NELSON: Thank you, Soledad.

O'BRIEN: You bet.

So, from Hugo Chavez to the health food craze, Justin Timberlake tackles current events and enters a new club on "Saturday Night Live". His hilarious hosting (ph) stints. That's ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: Welcome back, everybody. Trending this morning, everybody's talking about Justin Timberlake who is hosting SNL this weekend. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

(SINGING)

JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE, ENTERTAINER: And it seems to me you lived your life like a candle in the wind.

(LAUGHTER)

TIMBERLAKE: If a candle could pull out two pistols at a press conference.

(LAUGHTER)

TIMBERLAKE: And you said the U.S. caused earthquakes and outlawed code zero and on your shoulder stood your parrot with a matching red beret.

(LAUGHTER)

TIMBERLAKE: Have you heard about the new health craze.

(LAUGHTER)

TIMBERLAKE: Meatless burger with tofu mayonnaise.

(LAUGHTER)

TIMBERLAKE: Just ditch the biscuit, go vegetarian. Hey eat some kale it's so much fun. Ah! Veg out!

(LAUGHTER)

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

TIMBERLAKE: Veg out!

(LAUGHTER)

TIMBERLAKE: We found love in a meatless place. We found love in a meatless place. I wish I had some glow sticks

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(LAUGHTER)

O'BRIEN: Oh my God! He's so funny. That was hilarious.

LUSCUMBE: He's incredibly game. Like, yes, we want you to be tofu --

O'BRIEN: No. He really goes into it.

BERMAN: He's a very, very funny guy.

LUSCUMBE: That's an excellent Elton John impression, too.

O'BRIEN: that was so funny.

BERMAN: Tofu impression.

(LAUGHTER) FULLER: It just shows what a great performer he is. But the thing is, I'm so glad that he's decided to quick acting. I think he got the idea because he was so good at SNL, but he is so fantastic singing. I mean, when he was on the Grammys, you know, returning to his roots. Incredible.

LUSCUMBE: I think he's great.

O'BRIEN: Still ahead this morning --

BERMAN: You don't mind.

LUSCUMBE: I don't mind --

(LAUGHTER)

O'BRIEN: Congressman Paul Ryan is introducing a budget that calls for Obamacare to be fully repealed. Is it a real solution? We're going to talk to Senator Richard Blumenthal from Connecticut about that.

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