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Petraeus Apologizes; Defense of Marriage Act on Trial; North Korea Cutting Key Hotline; Aftershocks Rattle Taiwan; Navy SEAL Shooter Dispute; Will Amanda Knox Be Extradited?

Aired March 27, 2013 - 05:00   ET


ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN ANCHOR: New this morning: David Petraeus breaking his silence. The former CIA chief's first public words since the sex scandal that cost him his job.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: History in the making at the highest court in the land. Justices now just hours away from hearing a case that could redefine marriage in America.

SAMBOLIN: And also new this morning -- shaken and scared. The first moments of a deadly earthquake caught on camera.

ROMANS: Dramatic new video this morning. Take a look at this. A camera captures a bus driver's close brush with death.

Good morning. Welcome to EARLY START. I'm Christine Romans. John Berman hosts "STARTING POINT" later this morning.

SAMBOLIN: And I'm Zoraida Sambolin. It is Wednesday, March 27th. It is 5:00 a.m. in the East.

So, let's get started here.

Up first, an apology for former CIA director, David Petraeus. And new this morning: the four-star general making a return to public life five months after retiring in disgrace over an affair with his biographer, Paula Broadwell.

Casey Wian is live in Los Angeles for us.

And, Casey, Petraeus has been laying really low since November. What is the end game behind last night's public appearance and very public apology?

CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, clearly, Zoraida, Petraeus is attempting to rehabilitate his public image.


WIAN (voice-over): Retired General David Petraeus picked a receptive audience to launch his comeback from the sex scandal that cost him his job at the CIA and his reputation with the military.

DAVID PETRAEUS, FORMER CIA DIRECTOR: So please allow me to begin my remarks this evening by reiterating how deeply I regret and apologize for the circumstances that led to my resignation from the CIA and caused such pain for my family, friends, and supporters.

WIAN: Supporters once were abundant. Petraeus was a four-star general who commanded American forces during the surge in Iraq. He also wrote the field manual for how U.S. troops fight insurgents.

PETRAEUS: I join you keenly aware that I am regarded in a different light now than I was a year ago. I'm also keenly aware that the reason for my recent journey was my own doing.

WIAN: His undoing was an affair with Paula Broadwell, the woman who co-authored his biography. Both were married.

It came as a shock to many when an FBI investigation into an unrelated matter uncovered his relationship with Broadwell.

He resigned as CIA director three days after President Obama was reelected and 10 days before he testified about the attack on the U.S. embassy in Benghazi.

Now, Petraeus has reentered the public stage and is reported to be talking to potential employers.

DAN MCGINN, IMAGE CONSULTANT: General Petraeus is just an enormously gifted and talented guy. He had a great career. He can have a great career going forward. He's got to navigate through this the right way. It looks like he's starting in the right direction.

PETRAEUS: I know that I can never fully assuage the pain that I inflicted on those closest to me and on a number of others. I can, however, try to move forward and as best as possible make amends to those I have hurt.

WIAN: Chief among them, his wife Holly, who did not attend Petraeus' speech.


WIAN: Now, the event was sponsored by USC, which has a longstanding tradition of close ties to the military and is comfortably located an entire continent away from the CIA and the Pentagon.

I should also point out, Zoraida, that reporters were kept far away from General Petraeus and were not allowed to ask him any questions -- Zoraida.

SAMBOLIN: All right. Casey Wian, thank you.

And coming up on "STARTING POINT" at 7:00 Eastern, CNN military analyst, General Spider Marks, will get his take on Petraeus' public apology and his future plans.

ROMANS: Day two, round two of potential game changers for gay rights. In a few hours, a historic legal battle between tradition and equality shifts focus. From Prop 8, California's ban on same-sex marriage, to the Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA. DOMA denies same sex couples access to federal benefits under its definition of marriage as a union between a man and a woman.

Shannon Travis outside the Supreme Court, bright and early this morning. It's dark and early this morning for him.

Look behind you. You can't see anything behind you, Shannon.

What happened in that court yesterday? How did the justices respond to Prop 8 arguments?

SHANNON TRAVIS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Essentially with pointed questions and no clear clues of how this court might decide. For anybody reading the tea leaves, we're going to have to read a little bit further.

The justices seemed conflicted. A lot of questions over that California same-sex marriage ban. They asked a lot of questions of the lawyers representing the plaintiffs, pointed them, pressed them on the different issues, the different merits of the case.

Let's play a little bit of a back and forth between different justices -- not between the justices, but from one justice to another. Let's start with Samuel Alito. He was addressing this whole notion of redefining marriage.


JUSTICE SAMUEL ALITO, U.S. SUPREME COURT: You want us to step in and render a decision based on an assessment of the effects of this institution which is newer than cell phones or the internet? We are not -- we do not have the ability to see the future.


TRAVIS: Now, from kind of an alternate line of thinking, Anthony Kennedy, Justice Kennedy, he had this to say in terms of the history of traditional versus same-sex marriage.


JUSTICE ANTHONY KENNEDY, U.S. SUPREME COURT: We have five years of information to weigh against 2,000 years of history or more. On the other hand, there is an immediate legal injury or legal -- what could be a legal injury, and that's the voice of these children. There's some 40,000 children in California, according to the Red Brief, that live with same-sex parents, and they want their parents to have full recognition and full status. The voice of those children is important in this case, don't you think?


TRAVIS: Now, obviously, Christine, many people are paying very close attention to Justice Kennedy because he could be a pivotal swing vote when they decide this case.

ROMANS: All right. Shannon Travis, very, very early for us this morning in front of the Supreme Court. Thanks, Shannon. In the 7:00 hour of "STARTING POINT", senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin breaks down yesterday's arguments and looks ahead to what we can expect today.

SAMBOLIN: And new this morning, North Korea says it has cut off an important military hotline to the South. The hot line is key because it allows South Koreans to cross the border to work at a jointly run industrial complex in the North. Tensions are already high on the Korean peninsula, and this shows yet another breakdown of what's left of the inter-Korean cooperation.

And buildings shaking in Taipei, aftershocks jolting central Taiwan after a powerful 6.1 magnitude earthquake shook the island. This is earlier this morning. This is what it looked and felt like from inside the television station.

Taiwan is said to be mostly unscathed. No reports of any major damage there. "The Wall Street Journal" reporting at least eight people are injured, most of them by fallen objects.

ROMANS: A peaceful end to a tense standoff with a gunman in Washington state. It began Tuesday afternoon when the suspect began shooting at homes in the Fife Points neighborhood near Tacoma. Sixty- seven-year-old Mike McBee surrendered after allegedly strolling through his neighborhood firing randomly. Police say he also pointed a gun at people but didn't shoot them. No one was injured.

SAMBOLIN: And the state of North Dakota enacting one of the nation's toughest anti-abortion laws. Governor Jack Dalrymple signed the measure yesterday, admitting it's a direct challenge to Roe versus Wade, the Supreme Court's landmark 1973 decision legalizing abortion. Dalrymple's asking North Dakota's legislature, that is, to set aside money for expected legal battles.

The law bans most abortions after six weeks after conception, about the time experts say a fetal heartbeat can be detected.

ROMANS: All right. A CNN exclusive this morning, a Navy SEAL who was part of the team that killed Osama bin Laden is disputing another account of that raid that appeared recently in "Esquire" magazine.

The SEAL in the "Esquire" known only as a shooter claims to have fired three shots at the terrorist after a point man intercepted two women in the hallway. But now, another member of SEAL Team 6 tells CNN national security analyst Peter Bergen that a completely different SEAL team member fired the fatal shot.


PETER BERGEN, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: The account in "Esquire" piece is inaccurate. It was not the shooter described in that article who killed bin Laden. It was, in fact, the point man that fired the shot at bin Laden and hit him in the head.


ROMANS: "Esquire" magazine sent a statement to CNN saying the story is well-sourced. "Esquire" stands by that reporting.

SAMBOLIN: Eight minutes past the hour.

The Secret Service has a new director. It is Julia Pierson -- here's her picture -- the first female to ever head up that agency. She's been chief of staff there since 2008. Pierson inherits a $1.7 billion budget, 7,000 employees, and a department tarnished by scandal with agents allegedly patronizing prostitutes in Colombia ahead of a visit by the president last year.

ROMANS: All right. Records keep falling away on Wall Street. Stocks surging again. The Dow finishing up 111 points. A record close, 14,559.

All eyes on the S&P 500 this morning. The S&P closing yesterday at 1,563. That's less than two points from its all time high. So, it's within shouting distance today if you get gains.

Market futures pointing higher this morning for all three major indexes. So, we could see records set this afternoon.

SAMBOLIN: And new this morning, a bus driver in China is being called a hero for somehow stopping his bus after a light pole came smashing through his windshield. Take a look at this incredible surveillance video. It will make you want to duck.

That is exactly what the driver did with only a split second to spare. He suffered a ruptured spleen but managed to bring the bus to a stop, unbuckle his seat belt and escape.

There were 60 people on board. Despite his injuries, the driver helped each and every one of them off the bus. No one else was hurt.

That is remarkable video.

ROMANS: I can't believe you quickly he moved to get out of the way.

SAMBOLIN: Oh my goodness.

ROMANS: All right. Amanda Knox finds her future hanging in the balance this morning. Italy wants her extradited to stand in trial again for murder. Could that really happen?

SAMBOLIN: Plus, there goes the neighborhood. Justin Bieber's alleged face-off with the guy next door.


SAMBOLIN: Welcome back. It is 13 minutes past the hour.

The big question facing Amanda Knox this morning is whether she'll be extradited to Italy to stand trial for murder yet again. Her conviction in the death of her college roommate in Perugia, Italy, in 2007 was overturned by an appeals court in 2011. But, yesterday, the Supreme Court ruled that Knox should be tried again.

Foreign affairs correspondent Jill Dougherty is at the State Department.

Good morning to you, Jill.


SAMBOLIN: So, this is a big looming question. What are the chances that Amanda Knox will be extradited?

DOUGHERTY: You know, if you ask experts, really, there's no total agreement on what will happen because, after all, it hinges really on an agreement between the United States and Italy, and there's a legal side, and then there's the political side.


DOUGHERTY (voice-over): Amanda Knox has been back in Seattle for a year-and-a-half --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Give them some time. Give them some time.

DOUGHERTY: -- trying to live a normal life.

So does today's decision mean she has to return to Italy?

DAVID LAUFMAN, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: The question of whether she would have to go back to Italy for a trial will come down to how the extradition treaty between the United States and Italy is construed.

DOUGHERTY: Former federal prosecutor David Laufman says, if Amanda Knox had been convicted and acquitted in the United States, she'd be protected by double jeopardy, which prevents a defendant from being tried for the same crime twice.

But it happened in Italy, which has a more flexible legal system. So Italy could, he says, ask the U.S. to extradite her.

LAUFMAN: Now, that doesn't mean the United States is necessarily going to extradite her. There will likely ensue a fevered dialogue between, you know, Justice Ministry officials in Italy and the Department of State lawyers, maybe Department of Justice lawyers, possibly even to head off a formal extradition request.

DOUGHERTY: In other words, a diplomatic and ultimately political solution. But Amanda Knox's attorney is hoping any new trial would end up with the same verdict, acquittal.

TED SIMON, ATTORNEY FOR AMANDA KNOX: There's no reason to believe that any further review will result any differently. Keep in mind, there was no physical evidence against her. And anything that was reviewed was considered unreliable, inaccurate, insubstantial.


DOUGHERTY: Now, Italian courts have convicted Americans in absentia. That means they weren't in the courtroom in Italy. But the most recent case, in fact, is CIA agents who kidnapped a terror suspect. They're free. They're in the United States, but if they return to Europe, they do risk arrest -- Zoraida.

SAMBOLIN: All right. Jill Dougherty live for us -- thank you.

ROMANS: All right. Fifteen minutes after the hour. Let's get you up to date with what's new.

David Petraeus back in the public eye, apologizing for the extramarital affair that ended his career as director of the CIA. The retired four-star general told an audience in Los Angeles last night he regrets the pain he caused his family, friends, and supporters. His wife Holly Petraeus was not in attendance.

SAMBOLIN: He actually opened with that and closed with that statement as well.

The historic legal battle between tradition and equality shifts focus from Proposition 8 to the Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA, as it's known. In a few hours, the Supreme Court will hear arguments for and against DOMA's appeal. It denies same sex couples access to benefits as it defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman.

ROMANS: A California man who is a follower of Charles Manson is accused of trying to smuggle a cell phone into a convicted murderer. Craig Hammond was arrested on Sunday. Officials say he tried to bring a wrist cell phone into the prison where Manson is serving a life sentence for a series of murders in 1969. Hammond has been released on bail.

SAMBOLIN: Police in Canada are looking for three suspected scammers who are trying to sell fake gold necklaces they say belonged to Osama bin Laden. They claim the jewelry was smuggled into the country from Iraq. A 50-year-old man has already fallen victim to the group, paying $760 for three gold necklaces and four gold rings. That turned out to be worthless.

ROMANS: A neighbor of teen heartthrob Justin Bieber accuses the singer of, quote, battery and threats. Los Angeles officials investigating a confrontation Tuesday morning outside Bieber's home in Calabasas, California. A member of the singer's security team says the neighbor entered Bieber's property. Words were exchanged, but there was no physical contact. Officials are deciding whether charges should be filed.

SAMBOLIN: So, it's a draw. Last night's World Cup qualifier between the U.S. and Mexico ending in a nil-nil tie. This is a huge disappointment for Mexico. They traditionally dominate the U.S. team at the Azteca Center. The Mexican team known (INAUDIBLE) had many more opportunities to score, taking 10 shots, compared to just one for the U.S. team. The World Cup will be held next year in Brazil.

ROMANS: All right. One clear winner, Wall Street, another record. It's only part of the picture when it comes to your personal economy. Coming up, we're tracking the three key things that make up your bottom line.


SAMBOLIN: Good morning to you, New York City. I was considering lying to New Yorkers this morning and, saying it's going to be 70 and Sunday. But in fact, it's 37 degrees right now. Sixty degrees, and I can say mostly sunny today.

ROMANS: It will be 70 somewhere in America today.

SAMBOLIN: And at some point in New York.

All right. Minding your business this morning. Just two points, that is all the S&P 500 needs to set a new record.

ROMANS: That's right. A couple of layups, a few free throws.

Stock futures are slightly higher right now following solid gains yesterday. Some positive data in the U.S. economy helping calm fears about Europe.

And I want to be clear -- there are still fears about Europe here. But when it comes to your personal economy, I'd like to say there are three legs to the stool that make up your wealth, your money. Three legs, that's what makes it solid, right? Your job, your home, and your investments. Right now, two of those three are looking pretty good.

Take a look at the S&P 500 over the past six years. This goes back before recession when the economy was booming. That's when the S&P 500 last hit its record in 2007. And then you see the big drop as the economy tanks.

Now, it's all the way back. Now, again, two points away from record highs.

Next, housing. The housing recovery is real. Prices in 20 major metro areas jumped in January. That's the most recent data from S&P Case Shiller.


ROMANS: I knew you'd like that Zoraida.

Here is where the biggest gains were. Phoenix, San Francisco, Las Vegas, Detroit, Atlanta.

SAMBOLIN: Where some of the greatest falls were, right?

ROMANS: Where some of the greatest falls were. That's absolutely right. Those places were hit very, very hard. Foreclosure crisis in some places. But now, they're posting double digit increases in home values compared to last year.

New home sales were down slightly. We're going to get a report on pending home sales later this morning, really critical to see how the housing recovery -- you know, how the bounce back is going to hold.

The labor market is still struggling, 12 million Americans unemployed. Millions more working part-time but want a full time job. There's also buzz from some analyst, the stock market rally could end in the next couple of weeks. No one knows for sure.

In the past three years, the stock market hit peaks in April and then dropped 10 percent to nearly 20 percent. Those losses weren't recouped for more than five months.

Hence, bears (ph) are saying on Wall Street, sell in May and go away. Sell in May and go away. Market appears to be in a similar position right now. That's at least what the bears are saying. So, proceed with caution.

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

The rescuer becomes the rescued. After a dramatic highway crash, it was all caught on camera. It is a story of survival, and we have it for you.

ROMANS: Plus a hiker saved from certain death by a dog.

SAMBOLIN: Man's best friend.

And if you're living the house right now, you can watch us at any time on your desktop, on your mobile phone. Go to


SAMBOLIN: New this morning, David Petraeus in his own words for the first time. The former CIA boss talks publicly about the sex scandal that brought him down.

ROMANS: Mystery on the high seas. The search for clues after a woman turns up dead on a cruise ship.

SAMBOLIN: A supreme showdown. Now, in just a few hours, justices set to hear arguments that could lead to a landmark ruling on same-sex marriage in America.

Welcome back to at EARLY START. We're really happy you're with us this morning. I'm Zoraida Sambolin.

ROMANS: That's right. Good morning. It's Wednesday morning. Twenty-nine minutes past the hour.

Let's get you started.

New this morning: David Petraeus back in the public spotlight and apologizing for all the pain he caused. The disgraced former director of the CIA apologizing for the affair that forced him to step down, making that apology in a speech last night at the University of Southern California, saying he hoped to move forward, after, quote, "slipping my moorings."


PETRAEUS: Please allow me to begin my remarks this evening by reiterating how deeply I regret and apologize for the circumstances that led to my resignation from the CIA and caused such pain for my family, friends, and supporters.


ROMANS: The retired general has reportedly hired an agent and is shopping a book proposal.

SAMBOLIN: In a few hours, the Supreme Court takes on DOMA, the Defense of Marriage Act, hearing arguments for and against its repeal.

DOMA denies same-sex couples access to federal benefits under its definition of marriage as a union between a man and a woman.