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STARTING POINT WITH SOLEDAD O'BRIEN

Witness Carjacked by Boston Bombing Suspects Gives Interview; Amanda Knox Releases Memoir; Interview with Gen. Michael Hayden; Yahoo! Extends Maternity Leave, Paternity Leave

Aired May 1, 2013 - 07:00   ET

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


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Imagine if our Congress did this. We will tell you how this happened.

ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN ANCHOR: And she's a singer on a mission. Sheryl crow is here live with her fight to end hunger in America. It is Wednesday, May 1st, STARTING POINT begins right now.

BERMAN: We'll begin with new developments in the Boston bombing investigation and what could be a key piece of new evidence. A law enforcement official says investigators have lifted at least one fingerprint from bomb debris. Meanwhile the Tsarnaev carjackers victim known only as Danny is speaking out describing in detail the fear he felt, his bold get away and the 911 call he made that helped take out two suspected terrorists. Pamela Brown is in Boston with all the details this morning. Good morning, Pamela.

PAMELA BROWN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning to you, John. That's right. I spoke to the carjacking victim, Danny, in person, in an off- camera conversation, and he told me that he is still recovering from the nightmare of being carjacked by Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev. He also gave us a detailed account insight into the two brothers turned suspects.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BROWN: For days after the Boston Marathon bombings, Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev hid in plain sight, until investigators say they killed MIT police officer Sean collier and then carjacked a Mercedes SUV. The man inside that SUV, a Chinese immigrant who had moved back to Cambridge only two months earlier. He wants to remain anonymous and is calling himself Danny. He describes his terrifying minutes with the two alleged bombers in a taped interview with CBS News.

"DANNY": They asked me a question like, do you know the Boston explosion on Monday? I said, yes. And then, you know, I did that. And I just killed a policeman in Cambridge.

BROWN: Danny told me that face-to-face conversation off camera that the older brother was talkative, outgoing, but also threatening, at one point warning him, "Don't be stupid. If you're cooperative, I won't kill you." Danny finally found his chance to make a run for it when they pulled over for gas.

"DANNY": I was counting one, two, three, four. And I just do it. And I did it. And I can feel Tamerlan trying to grab me. I was running. I was just running as fast as I can and I never, I never looked back.

BROWN: This as investigators continue painstaking forensic work. Sources say they found a fingerprint on the remnants of one of the bombs, but as of yet, no match. Scrutiny of a different sort as critics question the FBI handling of intelligence received from Russia about the older brother, the president staunchly defending the agency's handling.

BARACK OBAMA, (D) PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The FBI investigated that older brother. It's not as if the FBI did nothing. They not only investigated the older brother, they interviewed the older brother.

BROWN: And for the first time we're hearing Tamerlan talk, introducing himself in this boxing video that aired on "Entertainment Tonight."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you excited?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. Why not? You know.

BROWN: Meanwhile Tamerlan's widow has given the medical examiner's office consent to release his body to his family.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BROWN: Back to that carjacking victim, Danny, he says that during the 90 minutes in the car with the two brothers they talked about Manhattan, and as it turns out, they had made spontaneous plans to go to New York and set off explosives in Times Square, according to authorities. So, had Danny not escaped and set off a massive manhunt there could have been more lives lost. I asked Danny if he feels like a hero. He said no, that he was just trying to save his own life. John?

SAMBOLIN: Pamela, you sat down with the carjacking victim, you said over an hour you spent with him. What was striking to you about what he revealed to you?

BROWN: Well, Zoraida, what was most striking is his description of the dynamic between Tamerlan and his brother. Essentially he said that Tamerlan was the leader and Dzhokhar was the follower. He said Tamerlan was very talkative, very outgoing, kept asking questions. At one point, Tamerlan turned to him and said, this is like something you see at a movie, isn't it? And Dzhokhar was very quiet. He sat in the back seat, didn't ask many questions. He did whatever Tamerlan asked him to do, like go to the ATM and withdraw cash. So, Danny told me that there was a clear dynamic at play.

What I also thought was interesting here is how Danny played up his status as an outsider. He talked about his Chinese heritage. He knew that Tamerlan hated Americans, he made that clear, so Danny did his best to humanize himself, and according to a criminology professor we spoke with that could have helped save his life. Zoraida and John? BERMAN: All right, Pamela Brown for us at the site of the memorial in Boston. Thanks so much, Pamela.

Some newly released poll numbers suggest Americans are divided about whether U.S. intelligence did enough to prevent the Boston bombings. A CBS/"New York Times" poll shows that 45 percent say intelligence agencies did not have information that could have prevented the attack, 41 percent say agencies had information that could have prevented it. Polling also shows that a majority of Americans think the Tsarnaev brothers were connected to a larger terror group.

SAMBOLIN: And in a few moments we'll talk about these developments with former CIA and NSA director general Michael Hayden.

The calendar says may but look at this. A powerful winter-like storm with the potential to drop significant snow. It is barreling through the Rockies and high plains this morning. Our Jim Spellman is live in Boulder weathering all the elements. Two days ago it was nearly 80 degrees. What a difference? You said you were wearing flip-flops then, right?

JIM SPELLMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I was wearing flip-flops, shorts, it was great. Look at it today. Snow is sticking to the grass here. Maybe an inch already on the ground, in the trees here is really beautiful, really a lovely snow. Not sticking to the roads yet. That's good.

The plows are ready to go, but that won't be as big of an issue. About 35 planes have been canceled so far at Denver International Airport. Those are just mostly small commuter planes. Hopefully it won't cause too much of those kind of hassles that usually come with snow but we'll get the moisture that we need so much for the drought and to help with wildfires. So, if we could deal with putting the shorts away, the flip-flops for a day or two, the snow is a good thing. We might as well enjoy it.

BERMAN: Hopefully the flip-flops don't have to be away for too long.

SPELLMAN: Our camera man is very safe.

BERMAN: The safest cameraman in America right now. Jim Spellman, our thanks to you.

So conditions have to be just right this late in the season or should I say just wrong for a storm to dump this type of significant snow. Jennifer Delgado live in the CNN weather center to explain what we can expect now.

JENNIFER DELGADO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: More snow, John. More snow, Zoraida. And it's not just Colorado. We're talking that snow moving off towards the north in parts of the upper Midwest. Yes, it's coming down in boulder, Denver you can see in the northern part of Colorado, as well as into Nebraska, Wyoming. The snow in some of these parts, say for Colorado and the front rage, 6 to 12 inches of snowfall for areas like Nebraska, we're also going to see more of that snow working in. As that moisture spreads to the north you can start to see it changing over for areas like Minnesota, so for Minneapolis, we're talking six to nine inches for you. But as I said for areas right alone the front rage, six to 12 inches of snowfall. Yes it's been warm so a lot of that is not going to be sticking early on but the snow will accumulate just like in Minneapolis, as I said, six to nine inches, parts of Wisconsin, three to six.

As we go through the next 24 to 48 hours, we will continue to see those winter storm warnings in place. Some of those through Friday, potentially look at those high temperatures, much cooler out forwards the west, high 33, Salt Lake City 57. But ahead of that frontal system, you can see where all the warm air is. It's going to be nice and warm in the northeast, but out west, well, you know, a little bit of that wintry mix. Back over to you guys.

BERMAN: Crazy day. Jennifer Delgado, thanks so much.

SAMBOLIN: It is eight minutes past the hour. New developments in the murder of eight-year-old Leila Fowler. An emotional coming together in valley springs California. The third grader was found stabbed to death in her home on Saturday and mourners gathered yesterday at her elementary school where they held candles and wore purple and pink, Leila's favorite colors. Leila Fowler's mother and brother addressed the crowd.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KRYSTAL WALTERS, LEILA FOWLER'S MOTHER: I just want to thank the entire community and all our family and friends for the overwhelming amount of support that you've given my family. It will never be forgotten.

JUSTIN FOWLER, LEILA FOWLER'S BROTHER: I'm not saying good-bye to Leila. I'm going to say, I'll see you later. There's no good-byes. Take care of my sister.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SAMBOLIN: The sheriff's department is interviewing registered sex offenders who live in that area but they are not saying whether Leila was sexually assaulted when she was killed.

BERMAN: New developments to tell you about in the Mississippi ricin investigation and the arrest of suspect James Everett Dutschke. He's accused of sending those letters tainted with the deadly substance ricin to President Obama and two others. An FBI affidavit says items recovered from Dutschke's former martial arts studio tested positive for ricin, and that traces of the poison were found on the floor of the studio, also inside drains. The affidavit also says a witness told agents that Dutschke claimed to know how to make ricin. Still, no mention of a possible motive.

New this morning in just about 90 minutes, New York City police are planning to remove a plane part just discovered near ground zero. The part from one of the jets that crashed into the World Trade Center on September 11th, 2001, the rusted chunk of wing flap support was found last week in a narrow alley between buildings. Crews are expected to begin hauling it away at about 8:30 a.m. eastern this morning.

SAMBOLIN: And in Venezuela, life after Hugo Chavez is proving to be very chaotic. That country's disputed election leading to a free for all in parliament.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(SHOUTING)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SAMBOLIN: That is amateur video and it captured some of the mayhem, opposition leaders trading punches with members of the United Socialist Party. The opposition is angry that they were not allowed to speak unless they first agreed to recognize Nicholas Maduro as Chavez's rightful successor. He won the election with just 51 percent of the vote. The opposition is protesting the results.

BERMAN: Remember these pictures the next time you claim we're too partisan in congress.

New revelations this morning for Amanda Knox who is speaking out for the first time about her long, legal ordeal in Italy. The American exchange student spent four years in prison for the murder of her roommate. That conviction was overturned. But Knox now faces another legal challenge, after Italy's highest court ordered a retrial. CNN's Nick Valencia says Knox is out to set the record straight.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

AMANDA KNOX: I was in the courtroom when nay were calling me a devil. I mean, it's one thing to be called certain things in the media, and then it's another thing to be sitting in a courtroom, fighting for your life, while people are calling you a devil. It's not true. For all intents and purposes, I was a murder, whether I was or not.

NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: In an exclusive interview with ABC news, Amanda Knox opened up for the first time in years about her murder conviction and ordeal through Italian courts and prison. Speaking to Diane Sawyer, Knox talked about her roommate Meredith Kercher, the girl she was convicted of murdering, and what happened the day in 2007 that would change her life.

KNOX: It bothers me when people suggest that she wasn't my friend. I was stunned by her death. She was my friend.

VALENCIA: But that's not how much of the media saw it at the time. As prosecutors painted a picture of a kinky sex game gone wrong, Knox was deemed a femme fatale, and the media played it up. At the crime scene and immediate aftermath of her roommate's death it was actions like this, kissing her then-boyfriend who would eventually be convicted along with Knox in Kercher's death, that made her critics question her innocence.

DIANE SAWYER, JOURNALIST: People kept saying where is the anguish? Where is what we think we would do if this happened to our friend?

KNOX: I have seen the same picture, and like the kissing just can't stop and that's not what that was. I want the truth to come out. I'd like to be reconsidered as a person.

VALENCIA: Which is why she agreed to the interview, and released a memoir. She hopes it will help clear her name.

SAWYER: Did you kill Meredith Kercher?

KNOX: No.

SAWYER: Were you there that night?

KNOX: No.

SAWYER: Do you know anything you have not told police, that you have not said in this book, do you know anything?

KNOX: No. I don't. I wasn't there.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VALENCIA: Amanda Knox's freedom is now back on the line. An Italian court has ordered a retrial of her repealed conviction and Knox may once again find herself pleading her case in an Italian court, proclaiming her innocence. John, Zoraida?

BERMAN: People are going to have to watch her video, watch this revelation and judge for themselves what they think about her.

SAMBOLIN: Her demeanor and disposition, that's what everybody is questioning. So you judge for yourself.

BERMAN: Ahead on STARTING POINT, President Obama standing by the FBI over accusations that they missed intelligence before the Boston bombings. But are there serious failures that need to be addressed? We will talk about this with former CIA and NSA director General Michael Hayden coming up next.

SAMBOLIN: Then testimony under way in the Michael Jackson wrongful death trial, and it was so powerful, his mother had to leave the courtroom. Update just ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SAMBOLIN: Welcome back, 17 minutes past the hour. Returning now to our top story. President Obama says there will be an investigation into how information flowed or didn't in the case of accused Boston marathon bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev. So joining us now is General Michael Hayden, the former director of the CIA and the NSA. He is currently a principle with the Chertoff group, a global security consulting firm.

Thank you so much for joining us. So, yesterday we heard President Obama defend the FBI's investigation into Tamerlan Tsarnaev in 2011. He said it is not as if the FBI did nothing. How do you respond to that?

GEN. MICHAEL HAYDEN, FORMER CIA DIRECTOR: I think the president tried. Now look, Zoraida, we may find some things that could have been done better, should have been done better. But on the face of it, I'm not prepared to conclude right now that anyone did anything wrong. Look. These are very difficult problems, and something I said more than ten years ago, even if our security services, and intelligence services are at the top of their game, that doesn't mean that bad things won't happen. This is a very hard problem for us.

BERMAN: I suppose there's an issue of between whether something was done wrong, or whether more could have been done. Senator Lindsey Graham, who has been extremely vocal about this, tweeted out yesterday after the president's speech, he said if Boston is not an example of pre-9/11 stovepiping mentality, what would be? Stovepiping, of course, not sharing information between agencies. What do you make of his response?

HAYDEN: No, no. I understand the senator's concern. We're always on guard for what he alleges happened in this case, which is stovepiping, but it's a complex problem. This may not be so much about hiding the ball from one agency to another. It may be a question of how many balls there were, and how many balls any agency is able to catch. I mean, there has to be a threshold at which information is pushed from one agency to another. If you don't have that threshold. If you're just throwing everything you have at everyone else who is on the team, it becomes very hard to connect the dots, because you've got so many dots that the page is black.

SAMBOLIN: General Hayden you said there are some fundamental problems in the way the FBI is able to gather intelligence and handle domestic surveillance. Could you explain that?

HAYDEN: Sure. Now look, again, I'm not prepared to conclude that the bureau didn't do all it was required to do in this case. But we've got a problem within our political culture here in the United States. I mean the 2004 Intelligence Reform Act emphasized the role of the FBI as a domestic intelligence agency. Even that phrase would cause many Americans to double clutch. "Domestic intelligence agency."

Our western allied friends, Canada, great Britain, have domestic intelligence services. But only we have decided how to put that domestic intelligence activity inside of our federal police force. And that creates tension. Look, the Domestic Intelligence Service is designed to work the spaces between cases. It's designed to gather information in the absence of a criminal predicate. Well, that's not the overall culture of the FBI. So this is just very challenging for us because of the way we would decide to keep ourselves safe, and protect our civil liberties.

BERMAN: General, quickly the Russians, you know, they tipped off the FBI in 2011, and they had concerns about Tamerlan Tsarnaev, but they did not tell the FBI about that phone call that they apparently knew about from wiretaps between the mother and Tamerlan, and also another person. You think the Russians have been completely frank with us from 2011, and should they be doing more here? HAYDEN: No, I don't think they were completely frank. But look, I mean, I head an intelligence service. Sometimes you don't give an allied service, even one that you want to help you, all of the information that you have. I think the Russians here were far more than a brick shy of a load. And let me just add, when the Russians come to you complaining about Chechens, I mean, there are a lot of Chechens that the Russians are mad at. Not all of them are terrorists. And even fewer of them are threats to the United States. So I understand that the bureau and CIA did their duty here. But, the counterterrorism relationship with the Russians isn't all that intimate.

SAMBOLIN General Michael Hayden, former CIA director, former NSA director and principle with the Chertoff group we appreciate your insight this morning.

BERMAN: Really interesting, General Hayden seems to be offering restraint is the best policy right now. Not willing to say anyone did anything wrong.

SAMBOLIN: Step back for a minute and let the process happen.

BERMAN: All right. 21 minutes after the hour. Ahead on STARTING POINT, Yahoo!'s Marissa Mayer making more changes for her employees. Her updated plan for new moms and dads. This is going to surprise you. We'll tell you about it. You're watching STARTING POINT.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ZAIN ASHER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Welcome back to STARTING POINT I'm Zain Asher in for Christine Romans minding your business this morning. the headlines from Wall Street are quite simply amazing. The S&P 500 record high. The NASDAQ 12-year high, and take a look at the numbers for April. The major averages are all up nearly two percent. The S&P's winning streak is now at six months, and counting. A streak we haven't seen that in four years.

Also the troubled Dreamliner plane back in action. Eight airlines own a Boeing 787 Dreamliner. All those carriers will resume commercial flights by early June. United Airlines the only U.S. carrier with a 787 will resume on May 31st. All Dreamliners were grounded in January after problems with its batteries.

Also Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer is making headlines yet again. This time she's making the company's maternity leave more generous. New moms will get 16 weeks of paid leave. Dads will benefit too, getting eight weeks. Parents also get $500 bucks to spend on diapers, clothes and other baby items. Mayer is bringing Yahoo!'s policies more in line with other companies. But at Facebook, as well, all new parents at Facebook, moms and dads, get 16 weeks of leave and also $4,000.

BERMAN: Sixteen weeks leave if go have more kids. That's incentive right there. Fertility plan. Twenty-six minutes after the hour. Next on STARTING POINT just in to CNN we are hearing from Paula Broadwell for the first time. You'll remember she was the woman who had an affair with former CIA Director David Petraeus. What she is saying about life after the scandal just ahead.

SAMBOLIN: Then, Sheryl Crow has joined the fight against hunger. She is here live with her nutrition mission. And we'll get an early listen to her new single, as well. That's a treat. STARTING POINT back in a moment.

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