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U.S. Officials: Iranian Orders Intercepted; U.S. Preparing for Airstrikes in Syria; Interview with Congressman Mike Turner of Ohio; George Zimmerman Divorce; Trial Of New Mexico Boy

Aired September 6, 2013 - 08:00   ET


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why are you not listening to the people?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We sent you here to stop a war.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We cannot afford to turn Syria into another Iraq.

ANNOUNCER: What you just have to see.

This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo, Kate Bolduan and Michaela Pereira.


KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. And welcome back to NEW DAY, everyone. It's Friday, September 6th, 8:00 in the East.

Coming up in this hour, President Obama is wrapping up his trip in Russia, at the G-20 Summit. He's trying to get support from world leaders for a strike against Syria. But with lawmakers back here at home and the public backing away from the plan in the U.S., is his real fight more here at home than it is even abroad?

We're going to be talking with Ohio Congressman Mike Turner, a Republican sitting at the House Armed Services Committee about the big decision and the big vote that he has coming up.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: And we have a story that is mind blowing this morning. A 10-year-old boy charged with first degree murder. Prosecutors say he killed his father on purpose. The word "why" hangs over this story, starting with why the boy says he did it.

We're going to talk to him. He's now 14 and his mother as they're waiting trial. A new exclusive right here on NEW DAY.

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: We want to show you an amazing view. Look at this, never before seen video from the cockpit of Virgin Galactic Spaceship II.

You want a ticket to ride? Two hundred thousand dollars. We'll take you virtually for free. That's how we do.

BOLDUAN: All right, all right.

We're going to start off this hour, we're going to start with President Obama relentless in his pursuit of a military strike against Syria. Right now, he is in Russia for the G-20 Summit trying to drum up support, international support. But world leaders there and lawmakers here at home are not necessarily onboard with using force against the Assad regime.

And for the first time this morning, we're going to get a clear picture of what a large-scale air offensive against Damascus might look like, an offensive that could trigger attacks against U.S. interests. That's one of the risks here and one of the big concerns.

We're covering this story like no other network can.

Let's start off this hour with Chris Lawrence live at the Pentagon.

Good morning, Chris.


This morning, there's a U.S. embassy on full alert. The U.S., "The Wall Street Journal" is reporting that the U.S. intercepted a communication. Iran ordering militants in Iraq to attack the U.S. embassy in Baghdad and other Americans there.

I have been to that embassy when it was being shelled by mortars and other weapons. It is a fortress. But the State Department is issuing another warning to Americans who are living and working outside of that compound. The report says that this would come in retaliation, only if the U.S. strikes Syria.

And we're also learning new information about what that strike might entail. U.S. officials saying that air strikes, including long-range bombers may be one of the options under consideration now. That would mean American pilots, possibly flying directly from bases right here in the United States. But I'm told they would probably not enter Syrian air space. These bombers would stay out and they would use long range missiles to strike targets on the ground.

The official says things on the ground have been changing. They have updated their target list and he thinks those targets are going to continue to change -- Chris.

CUOMO: Chris Lawrence, thank you for the reporting this morning.

Now, here at home, even with a major push from the White House and the support of congressional leaders, most rank and file lawmakers remain unconvinced that a strike on Syria is the way to go.

Our chief congressional correspondent Dana Bash is following all developments. She's live on Capitol Hill.

Good morning, Dana.


Senior congressional aide tells me that the list that they are looking at, internal list where members of the Senate stand show that it is completely up in the air and it could go any way and this is the Democratic-led Senate and it shows that the momentum that we saw earlier in the week for the president to get his authorization on Syria has stalled and it is, for lots of reasons, but not the least of which is the opposition that people are hearing from their constituents back home.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We sent you to stop a war.

BASH (voice-over): For undecided lawmakers, watching what happens to pro-Syria bombing Senator John McCain back home is a cautionary tale.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is what I think of Congress. They are a bunch of marshmallows. Why are you not listening to the people and staying out of Syria. It's not our fight.

BASH: Even for a town hall veteran like McCain, this was rough.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We cannot afford to turn Syria into another Iraq, or Afghanistan. I beg you.

BASH: Lawmakers are hearing that kind of opposition all across the country. It's part of the reason even the president's most loyal supporters, like members of the black caucus are very wary of authorizing a strike.

REP. GREG MEEKS (D), NEW YORK: A large number of them that say we don't want you to go to war.

BASH: A House Democratic leadership source insists to CNN the majority of lawmakers are still persuadable because they have not yet been briefed. The problem for the president is how many, especially fellow Democrats, are reluctant even after attending classified briefings intended to persuade them.

SEN. BARBARA MIKULSKI (D), MARYLAND: They are our allies and what will they do? I know that 37 nations have said that they would support us, but what does support mean?

BASH: Democrat Tulsi Gabbard is a combat veteran of the Iraq war.

REP. TULSI GABBARD (D), HAWAII: We've seen first hand the extreme costs of war both overseas, as well as here at home is something that is giving me a unique perspective, but great pause.

BASH: She is like many who don't question whether Bashar al-Assad used chemical weapons, but do question Obama officials ability to answer key questions in public or private about military contingencies after the U.S. bombs. Like what if Assad finds a way to use chemical weapons, again.

SEN. SUSAN COLLINS (R), MAINE: Do we strike again? Well, that's the definition of further entanglement. That's the definition of our becoming deeply involved in a war. (END VIDEOTAPE)

BASH: Now, there will be yet more classified briefings for members of Congress to go in, hear from administration officials, see the intelligence and ask questions about the thing that, again, most members of Congress say that they're still having questions about, which is what exactly is the military strategy. A lot of these undecided members, Kate, say they're attending one, two, even three briefings to get answers, but they still say that they're going to need something else. A primetime address that we understand is going to happen in the next few days. They say could help not only with them, but with their constituents who are calling them and saying, don't do this.

BOLDUAN: Yes, a huge decision for every member of Congress to be sure.

Dana, thank you so much for that.

Let's continue the conversation now with Congressman who is planning to vote no on an American Syrian strike.

Congressman Mike Turner, Republican from Ohio, and a member of the very important House Armed Services Committee.

Congressman Turner, thank you so much for joining me this morning.

REP. MIKE TURNER (R), OHIO: Thank you for having me.

BOLDUAN: Of course.

So, you announced you were opposed to U.S. military action in Syria in the simplest terms possible, why?

TURNER: Well, I have been briefed and I can tell you that the president has no strategy. He cannot tell us who we are for. He cannot tell us the risks. And also, he has an unexplainable policy with his imaginary red line.

But even more importantly, he has shown no leadership in trying to set aside his sequestration, which is having devastating impacts on our military, over 12,000 people in my community were furloughed. As sequestration continues to put financial pressure on the Department of Defense, the president wants to take us into this conflict.

BOLDUAN: I do want to ask you -- I mean, there are many reasons for concern. Everyone knows this is a very difficult decision for everyone involved. President on down to you. There are good reasons for concern.

A risk of going in, not being able to get out. The risk that it will not deter Assad in further action. A risk that there will be retaliation for it.

But is the sequester, those forced budget cuts, really a good reason to vote no? TURNER: Well, you know, there's multiple reasons, but, certainly, that is a cornerstone of the lack of leadership from this president. While the Department of Defense has been under these draconian cuts that the president has called for and that I have opposed. You know, our men and women in uniform are paying the price as he goes to take us into this conflict.


BOLDUAN: Right. Does that mean that you think that the U.S. --

TURNER: We don't know who we are for. We don't know who we are for.

BOLDUAN: Right. But on the sequester question, I want to button this up. Are you saying, because if the forced budget cuts, you don't think that the U.S. is capable of this military action?

TURNER: We are certainly capable, but it's certainly not the right thing to do. If the president is going to show leadership, he should show leadership by saying let's fully fund the Department of Defense. But, you know, also, when you look at his imaginary red line that he's declared, he could have called for a red line and galvanized the international community, galvanized Congress and the United States and the American public. But instead declaring it and then going back and trying to get support, he just hasn't done his homework.

BOLDUAN: So, House Speaker John Boehner, your leader, he supports military action. He came out and was very rare for him to come out so forcefully so early on to show support for something like this. In part, he said, that we have enemies around the world that need to understand that we are not going to tolerate this type of behavior. He also said the use of these weapons have to be responded to and only the U.S. has the capability to stop Assad and warn others.

Are your House leaders wrong, do you think?

TURNER: Well, I think the president's wrong. I think his policy is unexplainable. When you look at the president's policy --

BOLDUAN: So, the president is wrong, then what about your House leaders who support this policy?

TURNER: Assad has killed over 100,000 people and the president has said that that's permissible. But he can't use chemical weapons, but he can if he only kills a limited number of people. But if he kills a large number of people, then that's actionable, but it's not really his red line, it's international community red line.

I think it's an unexplainable policy. It's one I certainly will not support.

BOLDUAN: And so, what do you say to House Speaker John Boehner and the Majority Leader Eric Cantor who are supporting it?

TURNER: Well, I think, you know, the leadership of Congress certainly is looking to the president as commander-in-chief and I think in that role, they probably feel an obligation to support them. I think they'll, however, if you look at the policies that we don't know who we are for and we don't understand the risk and the president has even walked back from his own red line and the fact that the president has ignored the effects of sequestration on our military.

Really, this is a president that's not showing leadership and that's not someone, you know, that you get behind and say, let's go into a conflict with Syria.

BOLDUAN: You said you have been briefed and there is a limited amount of time, a window left because the Senate will be voting and we assume the House will be voting, as well. Is there anything more you could learn, do you think, congressman, that could sway your vote at this point?

TURNER: Well, I think the president has to get his homework done. He has to get the international community behind him and that's going to be a process that is really going to take some time. I don't think there is any additional information we're going to find out. I think the president does need to hone his policy. It makes no sense to say that Assad can use chemical weapons in a limited way but if it kills a large number of people, then that's actionable.

I think, you know, clearly, the president needs to either embrace his red line that he has declared and get the international community behind it or, you know, come to the American people and articulate another reason why we have some national interest in this conflict that he wants to draw us into.

BOLDUAN: I want to button it up with this, just a real quick question. On the flip side of the argument, you've heard it from John McCain. I know you have. He's been -- he's been very public about this. He argues that inaction at this point will give a green light to Assad and other leaders to use outlawed weapons. That it would, that it would also mean that the U.S.'s word doesn't need to be taken seriously any more.

Do you see that argument?

TURNER: Well, I think, certainly, that the actionable item needs to be that the president of the United States needs to work with the international community to make the international standard of the prohibition of use of chemical weapons to have meaning. It doesn't necessarily mean that we take the United States and draw us into this conflict. The president needs to do his homework, show leadership, pull the international community together and also explain to the American public what is our national interest? And also, he needs to get working on his own sequestration and fully fund the Department of Defense, get that set aside and honor our men and women in uniform.

BOLDUAN: What I'm hearing from you, Congressmen, a lot riding on any Oval Office statement -- speech that the president will be making in the coming days.

Congressman Mike Turner, thank you so much for joining us. We'll see you back in Washington. TURNER: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: Of course.

There's a lot of news developing at this hour. So, let's get straight to Michaela for the latest headlines.

PEREIRA: All right. Kate, in fact, we have breaking news this morning.

The State Department has ordered nonessential diplomatic personnel and their family members to leave the U.S. embassy in Beirut, Lebanon, and family members at the U.S. consulate in Adana, Turkey, which is very close to the Syrian border, can choose to leave if they choose.

An official tells CNN that this measure is being taken out of an abundance of caution because of the situation in Syria and potential threats there.

Seven suspected militants, meanwhile, killed by a U.S. drone strike in Pakistan. Military says the drone fired two missiles at the house off the Pakistan/Afghanistan border burning it to the ground. It was 20th deadly missile attack carried out this year by U.S. drones in Pakistan.

To California now -- in northern California, in fact -- authorities there believe they now know what caused the massive wildfire still burning in and around Yosemite. Investigators say it was started by a hunter who they believe started a fire in a restricted area and that fire got out of control. No arrests have been made. The hunter's name as well is not being released.

So far, so good for Virgin Galactic Spaceship II. Check it out -- the private spacecraft owned by Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic broke the sound barrier during a successful test flight over the Mojave Desert. Climbed some 20,000 feet after being dropped from a carrier plane. Spaceship II is designed to carry up to six passengers when Virgin Galactic starts traveling to space next year.

Any takers on the set? Anyone?

I want to show this. Australians are headed to the polls on Saturday. Guess who is getting in on the action as the campaign comes to an end. That's actor/comedian Will Ferrell as Ron Burgundy, everybody's favorite anchoring. Releasing a YouTube offering some commentary about the elections. Listen.


"RON BURGUNDY", ANCHORMAN: We will never forget the mental fisticuffs in which Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard were engaged. We laughed, we cried, we became distracted by Tony Abbott's banana hammock --


(LAUGHTER) PEREIRA: He said it, not me. "Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues" coming out this December.

Meanwhile, Australians go to the polls on Saturday to vote for their new leader there.

BOLDUAN: Wait, wait, wait, I finally solved it. The inspiration for Ron Burgundy's character -- just kidding.

CUOMO: See the hate.

BOLDUAN: It's love.

CUOMO: In a form of hate.

BOLDUAN: Hate/love. That sounds so appropriate for us.

Let's move on to something that we also hate/love sometimes. The rainy weather. Let's get straight -- not you. We love you, though.

CUOMO: Universal love.

INDRA PETERSONS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Is it too cold or too rainy? Name it, Kate. Yes. We are definitely seeing some freeze warnings this morning. Finally, it's starting to warm up. The sun is up. So, of course, we started to see those go away. But either way, I still think it is currently still cold out there. We're still seeing a lot of 30s this morning (INAUDIBLE), only about 39 right now.

New York still only in the 50s when the average is about 65 in the morning. So, yes, if we are cool in the morning, we are going to be cool in the afternoon. A little bit of a fog feel out there today. In fact, we see some 60s as your highs out on Buffalo today, New York City only about 73. So, on average about five to ten degrees cooler than where we're typically are this time of year.

All that thanks to a cold front that already went through. In fact, there will be and another cold front making its way through this weekend. That will look, it looks like Saturday night in through Sunday morning. Not a huge rainmaker. All it means is even though we rebound our temperatures so they get better for you on Saturday.

By Sunday, we're going to see them back off again. So, a little bit of mix bag there. The only thing I want to tell you, still a huge storm in the Pacific Northwest. A lot of rain still expected. In fact, some severe weather possible. Montana, even two to three inches of rain possible as we go through the weekend there. So, we will not be the only ones with a lot of rain. Pretty typically actually for the pacific northwest to get a lot of rain this time of year. So, suddenly, 70s, come on.

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: This time of year, all year.


BOLDUAN: There you go, speaking from experience. Thank you so much, Indra.

CUOMO: Coming up on NEW DAY, she was his biggest supporter standing by George Zimmerman as he fought for his life in court. But, now, Shellie Zimmerman calling it quits. We'll tell you why.

BOLDUAN: Plus, he was just 10 years old when he called police saying that he had shot his father. That was four years ago. Now, Benjamin Hilburn is set to go on trial for premeditated murder. We'll talk to him and his mother in a NEW DAY exclusive.


CUOMO: Welcome back to NEW DAY. She was once his biggest supporter. Now, George Zimmerman's wife is filing for divorce. Remember, Shellie Zimmerman pleaded guilty to perjury charges last week for lying about their finances. Well now, less than two months after the controversial acquittal of her husband in the Trayvon Martin killing, she says it is over. Here's CNN's John Zarrella with the story.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We, the jury, find George Zimmerman not guilty.

JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In the nearly two months since George Zimmerman's acquittal for second-degree murder in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, the spotlight on Zimmerman has not dimmed. Late Thursday, Zimmerman's wife, Shellie, filed for divorce, according to her attorney. She broke her silence last week in this interview with ABC.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did you want him to be in court to support you?

SHELLIE ZIMMERMAN, GEORGE ZIMMERMAN'S WIFE: I always want my husband's support.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you together?

ZIMMERMAN: I'm not going to answer that. Of course, I want to have children and stay married.


ZIMMERMAN: That's something I'm going to have to think about.

ZARRELLA: The interview came after Shellie Zimmerman pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor perjury charge for lying about how much money the couple had had for George's bond. She said there was next to nothing. They had raised $135,000 from donations. The plea deal, which included a letter of apology to the judge kept her out of jail.

ZIMMERMAN: I accept, your honor.

KELLY SIMS, ATTORNEY FOR SHELLIE ZIMMERMAN: She stood by her man like Tammy Wynette says. And she probably shouldn't have. So, that's pretty much it. She did what was right for her. ZIMMERMAN: Since his release from jail, George Zimmerman has been moving fast, literally. And that's kept him in the spotlight, too, of the law. Pulled over for speeding in Texas in July and then recently in Orlando.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I stopped you for speed.

ZIMMERMAN: His ticket, $256. Over time, the spotlight may dim, but for now, the Zimmermans are keeping themselves under it.

John Zarrella, CNN, Miami.


BOLDUAN: All right. Thanks so much, John, for that.

Coming up next on NEW DAY, a NEW DAY exclusive you don't want to miss. At just 10 years old, Benjamin Hilburn shot and killed his father and was charged with premeditated murder. Well now, for four years later, he awaits trial. We're going to talk with him and his mother ahead.

CUOMO: And good news for you. An amazing story. One of the teens who saved a kidnapped girl. His dramatic 911 call that led police to her. And he is going to join us right here on NEW DAY.


CUOMO: Welcome back to NEW DAY. It is Friday, September 6th.

Coming up, four years ago, he shot and killed his father. Benjamin Hilburn was 10 years old at the time. Prosecutors argued he did it because his dad was too strict. The defense claims there was abuse. The boy is now 14, and he's about to stand trial. Benjamin and his mother are talking to us exclusively this morning.

BOLDUAN: Plus, Texas teenagers, they're being hailed as heroes today. The 911 call helped save a woman who had been kidnapped. We're going to be talking to them and hear their story.

CUOMO: First, let's get to Michaela for the five things you need to know for your NEW DAY.

PEREIRA: All right. here we go. At number one, U.S. officials tell the "Wall Street Journal," they've intercepted an order from Iran for militants who attack the U.S. embassy in Baghdad if the U.S. strike Syria.

U.S. military strike against Syria losing support, meanwhile, on Capitol Hill while the Pentagon moves ahead with the plans for a large-scale air strike against the Assad regime involving B-2 and B-52 bombers.

And the chief summit in Russia. President Obama will be taking questions from reporters just hours from now. You'll see it here live on CNN around 9:50 a.m. eastern. A resentencing hearing in Montana today for a former teacher who was given 30 days for raping a 14-year-old girl. State prosecutors and the teacher's attorneys are trying to block that.

And at number five, it is the last day on the job for homeland security secretary, Janet Napolitano. She's heading west to head off the University of California. No replacement has yet been nominated to take the DHS job.

We always update those five things to know. So, be sure to check with for the very latest. Chris, over to you.

CUOMO: All right. Mick, thank you very much.

Right now, we want to tell you this story. It's a troubling murder trial out of New Mexico. Raises the questions about what kids are capable of and how a system should treat them. A boy charged at 10 years old with premeditated murder for killing his own father. It happened in 2009. Benjamin Hilburn is now 14.

He's here this morning with his mother as they await trial. We're going to speak to them in just a moment, but first, a look at the story that should captivate the entire nation.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I need a doctor. My dad is dying.

CUOMO (voice-over): A 911 call made minutes after 10-year-old Benjamin Hilburn allegedly shot his father, Byron.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you know how this happened?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was so over my head. I shot him in the back of the head.

CUOMO: Often in cases where a child has killed someone with a gun, it's ruled an accident. But Benjamin Hilburn would be a special case. At 10 years old, he would be the youngest person in New Mexico to be charged with first degree murder. Prosecutors say he knew what he was doing, that this was premeditated murder.

LEMUEL L. MARTINEZ, NEW MEXICO DISTRICT ATTORNEY: The thing about charging people is you charge what the facts allow. And, in this case, we believe that there was premeditation involved. Premeditation can be anywhere from a nano second to a second to five minutes or longer.

CUOMO: But Benjamin's attorneys say he was suffering from an abusive father and thought he was protecting his younger brother and sister.

DONNA TRUJILLO-DODD, BENJAMIN HILBURN'S ATTORNEY: He was in over his head. That he basically snapped and could not take it anymore and had to protect himself. And as a result, shot his father.

CUOMO: For the last four years, Ben has been awaiting his trial in juvenile court but still living with his mother and siblings. His sister, Emily, was just six years old when their father was killed, but she seems to remember the horrifying details.

EMILY CORTEZ, BENJAMIN HILBURN'S SISTER: All I saw was Ben running into the room and my dad falling on the floor with his brains spilling out.

CUOMO: The family has left New Mexico for Texas, leaving behind Ben's grandmother, Nancy Hilburn. Byron was her son.

NANCY HILBURN, BENJAMIN HILBURN'S GRANDMOTHER: You know, he's my grandson. I've always taken care of him and loved him and I think he should learn that what he did was wrong.

CUOMO: If convicted, Benjamin will be incarcerated until he's 21. After that, his future is unclear.


CUOMO (on-camera): Joining us now from Amarillo are Ben Hilburn and his mother, Monica Berry. Thank you both for being here this morning. Can you hear me OK?


CUOMO: OK. Ms. Berry, I want to start with you. In these situations, parents often shelter their kids. They don't want them in the spotlight, but you believe you have to speak out. Why?

BERRY: I don't want this happening again to someone else. You hear too many horror stories out there and I feel like my son has unjustly been wronged.