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STARTING POINT WITH SOLEDAD O'BRIEN

Steubenville Rape Case Centers on Consent; Venezuelan Opposition Leader Announce Candidacy; Interview with Sen. Richard Blumenthal; More People Take Trains, Buses; Two Americans Killed in Afghanistan; How to Catch a Hacker; Sheryl Sandberg Urges Women to "Lean In"

Aired March 11, 2013 - 08:30   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 back, everybody. You're watching STARTING POINT. We'll begin with John Berman and a look at the day's top stories. Good morning.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks, Soledad. So the rape trial involving two high school football players in Steubenville, Ohio, will center on one thing: consent. A friend of the defendants recorded a video of the 16-year-old accuser. She'd been drinking and she was impaired. He could be calling her a, quote, "dead girl" and "so raped" while he and others around him laughed. The "Cleveland Plain Dealer" reports that the defense will say she consented to sex and that she chose to drink excessively, and chose to leave with the boys. This trial highly controversial.

The race to succeed Hugo Chavez as president of Venezuela is heating up. Opposition leader Enrique Capriles has announced his candidacy, but he tried - he tried but failed last year to unseat the former Venezuelan leader. Capriles now goes up against Acting President Nicolas Maduro, who was sworn in last week following Chavez's death. The election will be held on April 14.

So we've been talking all morning about Sheryl Sandberg's new book, "Lean In," and the discussion that that book is generating. Sandberg is Facebook's Chief Operating Officer; she says women themselves are often to blame for not being at the top in the American corporate ladder. She says they don't think they can have it all, therefore, don't fight for it.

CNN's Erin Burnett sat down with former First Lady Laura Bush who says she found a lot to like in Sandberg's book.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LAURA BUSH, FORMER FIRST LADY: Well, I just thought it was interesting, this whole idea of empowering women by the idea of being able to lean into an issue, or a way that you can both develop your own self in a broader and deeper way, but also to be able to help other people.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BERMAN: You can see Erin's entire interview with the former first lady tonight at 7:00 p.m. Eastern right here on CNN.

So it turns out that heart disease has been around for a while -- a very, very long while. A new study published Sunday in "The Lancet" showed that mummies from around the world, some going back more than 3,000 years, had a high prevalence of clogged arteries, a condition that is often attributed to modern life. You know, fatty foods, lack of exercise. So since the mummies predated cheeseburgers, video games, and extra-large sugary sodas, some doctors are now reconsidering the causes of heart disease.

One last story here. In this corner, from Long Island, 68-years-old, weighing 230 pounds, Congressman Peter King. He looks great. He stepped in to the ring this weekend for a charity exhibition bout with former kickboxing champion, Irish Josh Foley, who is less than half the Congressman's age. You can see it here, the Congressman really did pretty well.

Well, you know, he has lot of experience sparring with Soledad here on the show.

O'BRIEN: You know what? My vision has changed. I will never argue with him again. Look at him. He's almost 70 years old and he's about to take out that man.

(CROSSTALK)

O'BRIEN: Take your shirt off Congressman, come on. He looks so good.

BERMAN: I think that's taking it a little bit too far.

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He wasn't even sweating.

O'BRIEN: He was - it was fun to watch.

RYAN LIZZA, WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, THE NEW YORKER: But have you ever argued with him? I remember once on air he chewed my head off for some stray comment.

O'BRIEN: He will chew you out because he works out boxes for fun. Eats nails for breakfast.

All right. Let's talk a little bit more about Washington, D.C. Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are trying to find a deal on the budget. The president's going to head to Capitol Hill this week to meet with Republicans. Meanwhile, the congressman Paul Ryan is going to introduce a budget this week that requires Obamacare to be fully repealed. Washington insiders like Senator Tom Coburn say that D.C. is just a hot mess.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. TOM COBURN (R), OKLAHOMA: Washington is dysfunctional, but it's dysfunctional in a dysfunctional way. Members of Congress and the administration agree on too much. We agree on spending money we don't have. We agree on not oversighting the programs that should be oversighted. We agree on continuing to spend money on programs that don't work or are ineffective. Basically, we agree on too much.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: Senator Richard Blumenthal is a Democrat from the state of Connecticut. Nice to have you with us this morning. Do you agree with Senator Coburn, "dysfunctional in a dysfunctional way"?

SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D), CONNECTICUT: It has been dysfunctional and it has to do better. That should have been our new year's resolution, with the resolution of the fiscal cliff, to change the way Washington does business.

O'BRIEN: Who knew it would just be the beginning of sequester, which we call the spending cuts.

BLUMENTHAL: Well, the hopeful sign is that there is a way to work together and the recent resolution on the Violence Against Women Act provides a hopeful template where the Senate passed a bill; eventually, the House adopted it, and now VAWA has been reauthorized.

I think that the same could happen on fiscal issues if there is the outreach that the president has demonstrated recently, and if we keep in mind that the main goal is to really keep the economy reviving and create jobs. That is common ground that we all want to see.

O'BRIEN: We're knee deep, though, in the sequester, which means we're kind of doing the opposite of that, although it does bring us to a place where now everybody has to make a decision.

Let me play a little bit of Paul Ryan's conversation with Chris Wallace from Fox. And he was asking about his new budget, which part of that budget, of course, would be repealing Obamacare. Let's play that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRIS WALLACE, FOX NEWS HOST: Are you saying that as part of your budget, you would repeal, you assume the repeal of Obamacare?

REP. PAUL RYAN (R), WISCONSIN: Yes.

WALLACE: Well, that's not going to happen.

RYAN: Well, we believe it should. That's the point. This is what budgeting is all about, Chris. It's about making tough choices to fix our country's problems.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: Is that what budgeting is all about, making these sort of choices when most people would tell that you Obamacare is not going to be repealed, certainly the way the Senate looks now? BLUMENTHAL: Repealing Obamacare is a nonstarter. First of all, it's fiscally unwise. We can actually reduce the cost of health care, which has to be one of the main objectives in order to reduce the costs of Medicare by continuing with the Affordable Care Act. So a nonstarter and not helpful, because what we need to come together on is realistic ways to make this sequester more flexible and then go beyond it to a bigger agreement.

O'BRIEN: Well, Congressman Chaffetz, who was sitting in your chair a moment ago, he said the goal is not the realism, right? The goal is to lay down on a piece of paper what you believe and what your priorities are and then to put that out and then the other side can put out their side. It's not about sort of saying, well, we'll never pass Obamacare. It's sort of a statement of your vision and your values.

BLUMENTHAL: That approach represents why we have dysfunction in Washington. If there were allowance for the majorities to come together and do business and reach agreement, rather than the filibuster, which prevents a majority in the Senate, and the approach in the House, which is, in the speaker's approach, to say that there has to be a majority of Republicans, we would come together and reach an agreement.

But the ideological stances and the inflexibility, I think, are the reason doctor we have dysfunction in Washington. And saying that ideology is going to dictate the result here when we face a potential crisis in our economy if we fail to continue to create jobs, the revival of the economy, housing starts are better, employment is better, but we need to be mindful about the threat that the sequester represents to the economy.

O'BRIEN: Is there any silver lining in the sequester?

BLUMENTHAL: There is silver lining in the sequester: We're cutting spending, which we need to do. The point is we need to do it responsibly. Smart cuts, not across the board slashing, arbitrary cuts.

And we need to have a balance on the other side, too, which obviously sequester does not address. We need to raise revenue by closing those loophole, ending the special tax breaks and subsidies -- oil and gas, companies that send jobs overseas as well as the big agri businesses. There's money there to be saved. And also cutting the cost of health care and improving that health care by eliminating, for example, hospital-acquired diseases, other kinds of waste and fraud in the Medicare program, but not cutting the benefits.

LIZZA: Senator, you're criticizing the house Republicans for putting things in their budget that they all campaigned on. They hold the majority in the House. Surely when the Senate, which hasn't passed a budget in a number of years, the Democratic Senate, when they put out a budget, you're going to have things in there that you know Republicans are not going to sign onto. Isn't that just the way the process works? The House passes one thing; the Senate will pass something else; you'll have a conference committee and you'll work these things out and you'll sort of -- hopefully will trade some of these things that are unacceptable to either side? I mean, isn't that just the process?

BLUMENTHAL: That's been the way the process has worked, where a minority says no revenue. No revenue whatsoever. Any sort of closing loopholes or any tax breaks is off the table. That's a recipe for dysfunction.

We're saying, and we will actually produce a budget to say it more concretely, that there has to be a balanced approach. And we're willing to talk. If we close those loopholes and end the tax breaks, if we cut responsibly, not across the board. For example, cutting special operations, special forces in the military, cutting submarines, cutting tri-care which is the health care plan, $3 billion -- that kind of cut, along with nutrition, health care, the country just won't go for it, and it impacts employment.

I keep coming back to the economy because we have to keep our eye on that ball. Job creation, economic growth, there is common ground.

LIZZA: Would the Senate have even produced a budget if the House hadn't forced you guys to do it, if the House Republicans hadn't said you guys have got to do a budget or we're not going to pay you, would you guys have done one this year?

BLUMENTHAL: We passed a budget. We passed a budget that won't go through the House. But there is common ground with the Republicans in the Senate. I think the Senate can take the lead and produce a budget and we function with a continuing resolution, this continuing resolution in the short term, that I think there will be agreement on, can provide some additional flexibility while the president goes for a bigger and better agreement, the so-called grand bargain, which I think is within reach as long as we use VAWA, the Violence Against Women Act, as a hopeful template and say if the majority in the House is given the freedom to vote and create a majority, we'll have an agreement.

LIZZA: Which is what happened on Sandy and the fiscal cliff.

BLUMENTHAL: Exactly. On Sandy, the fiscal cliff, on various other --

LIZZA: But that template is the Senate and White House negotiate something and then you embarrass the House Republicans in to putting it on the floor. Am I right?

BLUMENTHAL: We can encourage them to do the right thing.

O'BRIEN: I don't know that that's a template that's going to -- but hope springs eternal, I would imagine, from your side of the aisle. Sir, nice to have you with us. We appreciate it.

BLUMENTHAL: Thank you.

O'BRIEN: Got to take a break. Still ahead on STARTING REPORT, a new report sheds disturbing light on a Chinese cyber-spy group. Anything that we can do to keep American trade secrets safe from foreign hackers? We'll take a look at that straight ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: Welcome back, everybody. Here's a live look this morning at Houston's Hobby Airport. This is just in to CNN. A Delta jet ran off the runway while it was departing. We're told the passengers have been removed, or are being removed from the plane, and they boarded shuttle buses. No word yet on exactly what happened, what caused the plane to run off the runway, or if anybody has been injured in this. We're going to continue to follow the story for you and bring you more as it comes in.

Business news now. Zain Asher has an update for us. She's in for Christine this morning. Good morning.

ZAIN ASHER, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Hey Soledad. Minding your business this morning, stocks are set to pull back a bit today. Although the loss aren't huge, Dow futures are down less than 20 points. It's not surprising that investors are taking a break, especially after the run up we saw last week. The Dow hit an all-time high Tuesday and never looked back.

Also, more people are taking mass transit and it could be a good sign for the economy. Ridership on public transportation in 2012 was the second highest on record with 10.5 billion trips taken, but also most of those trips are workers who are commuting to their job. The thinking is more strap hangers means more jobs are added to a community, but another factor could be the high gas prices we saw last year. Actually, Soledad, gas prices reached $3.60 last year, so it's no wonder people are being more tempted by subways and buses.

O'BRIEN: Which is a good thing ltimately, right? I mean, you know, certainly in the cities that have decent mass transit, it's good.

All right, Zain thank you very much.

Still ahead this morning, new research shows that many U.S. -- major U.S. companies have been hacked and secrets are going overseas. A new report takes a look at the disturbing hacking trend in our country.

You're watching STARTING POINT. We're back in just a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: Welcome back everybody.

Back to Breaking News, an update on the story we were just telling you about, Americans are among those were killed this morning in an attack in Eastern Afghanistan. We want to get right to Barbara Starr. She's live at the Pentagon this morning and has an update for us. Barbara, good morning.

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Soledad. The coalition in Kabul now announcing that two Americans are dead in this attack, that they are U.S. Special Forces. This happened in Wardak Province in eastern Afghanistan, this is a place that is a bone of contention between the coalition and the government of Hamid Karzai. He wants U.S. Special Forces out of that province. There has been very contentious fighting there.

Now, two U.S. special forces dead in this so-called green on blue attack and Afghan security force member apparently turning his weapon on them.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel on his way home now at this hour from a very difficult visit in Afghanistan over the weekend. A lot of controversy between the U.S. and Hamid Karzai right now about sorting out a number of matters. Wardak Province being one of them and the future of U.S. forces in that country -- Soledad.

O'BRIEN: Barbara Starr for us at the Pentagon this morning. Thank you, Barbara.

A first look this morning at a new report on cyber threats. A few weeks ago the cyber security firm Mandiant has made some big news that linked China to cyber espionage and attempts to steal American trade secrets. This morning there is some updated information on where the threats exist. Richard Bejtlich is the chief security officer from Mandiant, nice to have you with us. I appreciate it.

So explain to me what these hackers are looking for. Are they looking for trade secrets? Are they looking for personal information? Are they looking to get into accounts and drain money? What is it about?

RICHARD BEJTLICH, CHIEF SECURITY OFFICER, MADIANT: That's right, Soledad, we see two sets of attackers in broad groups. We have intruders who are nation states who conduct espionage. They're going after as you mentioned trade secrets, information that they can use to improve their own companies back home. And we also see criminal groups.

So Madiant as a company not only works on the nation state side but we work on very large financial crime. And in those cases we see intruders stealing information to create credit cards, to disable bank defenses so that intruders can steal information from other parts of their network or even to take data and money from the ATM network.

O'BRIEN: So said there are massive amounts of data stolen from 140 organizations across 20 major industries starting from 2006. What's the best way -- or the most effective way, I should say -- that these hackers are getting into these major companies?

BEJTLICH: We see several different days. Sometimes they come straight on. They'll attack a company's Web site and they'll use the technique sequel injection. Other times they try to fool employees. They will send phishing e-mails, they will try to get an employee to click on a link or open up an attachment. And in a very small number of cases, we see attacks against employees themselves with -- with fake data or employees who get hired to be placed as malicious insiders.

O'BRIEN: Some interesting news if you look at how companies discover the attacks. Back in 2011, only six percent of the organizations discovered the hacking themselves. That number is now 37 percent in 2012 of the organizations discovered hacking themselves. And I guess in that particular statistic, there are some pretty good news.

BEJTLICH: That's right. Our report -- the newest report, the M trends 2012 report, is not all doom and gloom. We see that more victim companies are finding out themselves that they have been hacked. And also the amount of time that an intruder spends inside a company before they're detected has decreased from about 14 months down to about eight months. Now, that's still way too long --

O'BRIEN: Still sounds like a lot of time.

BEJTLICH: Yes, it's still way too long, but the trend is in the right direction.

O'BRIEN: All right, so then at the end of the day, is the goal to figure out how to get rid of those hackers, is the goal to figure out how to know that they're in earlier? What -- what -- you know what -- what can be done?

BEJTLICH: It's really both. You'd want to find the intruder fast and contain him so he can't do any more damage and then remove him from the environment. Unfortunately, we find in this Mandiant report that 38 percent of the time for our clients the victims are re-attacked. So the types of companies we're helping are juicy targets for these adversaries and they want to come back and try to attack the same companies.

O'BRIEN: Richard Bejtlich is the chief security officer at Mandiant, which means he's super busy all the time. Thank you. Nice to talk to you, Richard. I appreciate it.

BEJTLICH: Thank you, Soledad.

O'BRIEN: "End Point" is up next. We're back in a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: "End Point", I'm going to pick the topic. Sorry, Ryan, but we're going talk about Sheryl Sandberg. But I do want to hear from the guys on this because they've been feeling, I would imagine -- you know, part of a lot of her book talks about how the partner you pick has to be willing to do a bigger share of the work at home because that often is what kind of keeps women from really being able to do a lot at work.

RYAN LIZZA: No, it's true. I think every relationship wrestles with this issue. You have to --

O'BRIEN: Is your wife challenged by the sort of --

LIZZA: Absolutely. Yes. And she's a physician and she works long hours. And I'm a journalist and I work long hours. And it's constant tension about who is doing more with the kids, who is doing more at home.

O'BRIEN: Your personal life.

LIZZA: A little bit here. But we probably want to hear from you guys.

BONNIE FULLER, FOUNDER, HOLLYWOODLIFE.COM: Well, I don't think most women think that when they're choosing a partner for life that that's a career decision. And yet she makes a very strong point that it is because if she doesn't have a partner maybe like you, who is very supportive of her career and who is willing to do 50 percent of the child care and the housekeeping, then it's very difficult to achieve the kind of career success for women.

O'BRIEN: One of the criticisms has been the question about elitism, this sort of idea that you have gone to the best schools and you're a physician and two runs through Harvard, all the top tier positions and you're sort of espousing a philosophy that is great if you can have round the clock care and et cetera, et cetera, and maybe not so great for women who feel like, well, I don't have those same luxuries.

BELINDA LUSCUMBE, EDITOR-AT-LARGE, TIME: Probably that argument I always find is why are we saying she has no right to talk when she's successful. Like who do we want to hear our advice from, some woman who is not successful? I think --

O'BRIEN: Their books are less interesting to me, that's for sure.

LUSCUMBE: Right. So I think you know, we can't hold the fact that she went to Harvard twice, that she has an MBA, that she worked at Google and at Facebook, we can't hold it against her.

The people I talked to in Silicon Valley for my "Time" story said, yes, she was lucky to go into Google and Facebook, but she was also smart. She's good and she's lucky. And I think you need a bit of both of those.

O'BRIEN: But some of that question is not necessarily is she not smart and lucky, it's more about the women you're speaking to can look at that and feel like I'm not sure I identify with what she's saying.

FULLER: But there are millions and millions of women in this country who can identify with her. Women get more of the university degrees today, more of the graduate degrees today. So those are exactly the women that she's talking to. And why shouldn't she help empower those women who have gotten all that education to then use it?

Why do women hate the whole feminist label? I mean, if you talk to a number of young -- sort of when I speak to women at college, I'll say -- they absolutely recoil from it. Almost like calling someone a feminist is like baby hater or something terrible.

LUSCUMBE: I think whoever is in charge of marketing for feminism needs to be fired. You ask those same women are you in favor of women earning the same as men --

O'BRIEN: And they'll tell you they'll complain about the opportunities that they feel like they're not getting and they're like --

(CROSSTALK)

FULLER: But the thing is they are feminists, they just don't realize it. And young women today, millennials, who I think will get great advice from this book are very ambitious. And I think they do want partners who are going to be -- who re they feel an equal basis.

O'BRIEN: Ryan and John, we're out of time this morning. Ladies, I thank you. Guys, also. We appreciate it. You started us off though that's why I went to you.

"CNN NEWSROOM" with Carol Costello begins right now. We'll see everybody back here tomorrow morning for STARTING POINT. Have a great day.