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The Shocking Videos That Senators Saw; Selling Congress on a Syria Strike; Congratulations, Tokyo!

Aired September 8, 2013 - 08:00   ET



VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Lawmakers return to Capitol Hill tomorrow. Their agenda is clear. Their votes are anything but.

CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: But what we do know is what the Obama administration is showing members of Congress to make their case for a strike on Syria.

And the HBO smash "Boardwalk Empire" returns tonight. The show features so many intense rivalries and it inspired us to ask, who are the hottest rivalries in sports right now? A "Special Bleacher" report for you.


PAUL: Rise and shine. Thank you so much for keeping us company here on a Sunday morning. Welcome to NEW DAY. I'm Christi Paul.

BLACKWELL: I'm Victor Blackwell. It is 8:00 here at CNN world headquarters.

And this is NEW DAY SUNDAY.

PAUL: Well, in a little more than 24 hours, Congress is going to be back to work in Congress after this month-long break. Their first task, of course, is deciding whether to attack the Syrian regime. That's a big one right on the table.

BLACKWELL: And we now have a chance to see the evidence that they are seeing. We want to warn you that what you're about to see is disturbing.

We're showing it to you because your representative in Congress in part will use this video to determine if he or she will vote to authorize a strike on Syria. The video purportedly shows dozens of people dying or dead after being gassed with a deadly nerve agent.

PAUL: Yes. So, please know that's coming up in about three seconds. We don't want you to get caught off guard. Maybe a good time to herd the kids out of the room here.

CNN's Jake Tapper was the first to obtain these 13 videos that the Obama administration has shown to the Senate Intelligence Committee.

BLACKWELL: Some show entire rooms full of corpses. You see in the corner, children. Others show people convulsing on the floor, frothing at the mouth, shaking. You see this man here switching uncontrollably.

PAUL: And there are still others that show the desperate attempts to resuscitate the lifeless bodies of young children. It's so hard to look at.

BLACKWELL: CNN's Barbara Starr is at the Pentagon for us.

Barbara, the question that I have this morning and members of Congress have as well, what makes the U.S. believe that the tapes are authentic and that this proves in any way that the Syrian regime is responsible for those attacks?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, let's go to the question of authenticity first, Victor and Christi. Good morning.

What officials are telling CNN is that the tapes that you saw, those disturbing tapes, were shot first from multiple angles. And they also had overhead imagery, satellite imagery of the outdoor area around these places and that all matched. They also have survivors corroborate it. So, they are making the case to Congress this week that these videos are very clear in the view of the administration that this gas attempt happened and this terrible event where so many people died happened.

But the second question, who did it? Who ordered the attack? This is something that's becoming an increasing debate according to all of the sources, the official government sources we've spoken to.

Look, what they have is circumstantial evidence. They don't have sources tell us that final bit of evidence that tells them either Bashar al Assad ordered it, his generals ordered it, his regime ordered it.

If they have intercepts, communications, we haven't seen or heard it yet. But administration's view is -- and they said this for weeks now. It doesn't matter to them. They very much have the policy that they are going to hold the Syrian regime responsible for this, responsible for the attack.

They believe in the administration that the rebels or al Qaeda elements in Syria could not have carried it out. They did not have access to the weapons delivery systems, the missiles, the rockets, the artillery and that they didn't have access to the chemical weapons stockpile itself. That's where it sits right now, big issue for Congress coming up this week.

PAUL: All righty. Barbara Starr, thank you for walking us through that this morning. We appreciate it.

BLACKWELL: The Obama team is expected to press Congress on Syria all week really. PAUL: Yes. In fact, Monday, tomorrow is House lawmakers first day back to work since summer recess.

Our chief correspondent Dana Bash is on the story.

Dana, those videos gut-wrenching to watch, especially, you see the corner filled with children. What role will videos play in this intense lobbying of Congress to vote to authorize?

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, from the point of view of the administration, they hope it will make a huge -- have a huge role, because the point of it is to make the moral case, to use the parlance of the Holocaust which we heard John Kerry used this past week -- never again -- to show them, look, this is happening in the world in 2013. We as the United States we have to stop it.

So that is a big, big part of the argument. That's number one.

But number two is going to be, to what end? You stop it and then what is the goal ultimately long-term with regard to the military and the strategic diplomatic objective in the region.

Listen to what Charlie Rangel, congressman from New York, who obviously is a very loyal Democrat said about his concerns.


REP. CHARLES RANGEL (D), NEW YORK: The last time I heard language like this in limited war and we have to stop these evil people was Saddam Hussein. Now, that's been over 10 years ago, 6,700 Americans, Americans, have been killed. We spent a trillion dollars. I have been elected to represent the people in my congressional district. I could not possibly go before them and say that what I've heard from the president and the secretary of state warrants going to war.


BASH: What he just said is so critical for a number of reasons.

Number one, because of who he is. He obviously as I said is a veteran Democrat. He is somebody who is traditionally a very loyal Obama supporter but clearly hearing from his constituents in Harlem that this is not something they want to support the president on.

And we really can't underscore enough how much I'm hearing from members of the Democratic Party and Republican Party that it's not so much about the intelligence, which Barbara was talking about, which they haven't proved in a public way. But it's about the why.

Why are we going to do this? Are we going to take out Assad? Is that a good idea?

What if we do this and Assad uses these chemical weapons again? Do we go back and strike again? Where does it end? What is long-term strategy? That is what members of Congress are saying they're not getting answers from administration on.

PAUL: All right. Well, we know obviously where Charlie Rangel sits at this moment. But I know you have been keeping a running tally of the vote count. Do you know where it stands this morning?

BASH: Well, we have an amazing team here at CNN. Dan Marika (ph) has been keeping charge of this. And, yes, we can give you the latest and it is as following. In the Senate where likely need 60 votes at least initially, procedurally to get this in, 25. Only 25 yes, 20 no and 55 undecided. Again, this is Democratic-led Senate.

Let's get over to the House where it's even more of a challenge, much more of a challenge when you look at raw numbers. Only 24 yes. By the way, they'll need 217 to approve this, 24 yes, 123 no, 272 undecided, 14 unknown. They haven't said.

See that humongous gray area of undecided, many of them -- I would even venture to say most of them, are at this point leaning no.

So, the administration has a lot of work cut out for them. They understand that. They're going to start by giving House members a briefing tomorrow night when members come back. A lot of them have been coming back on their own to have -- to be part of briefings this past week but this is going to be the first time where everybody is going to be back and that's a big deal tomorrow night.

BLACKWELL: All right. A steep hill to climb for the administration. Chief congressional correspondent Dana Bash in Washington. Thank you.

PAUL: President Obama's intense campaign for a strike on Syria really goes into overdrive this week. Tomorrow, he's talking with CNN's Wolf Blitzer and you can see that interview in "THE SITUATION ROOM" at 6:00 Eastern and more CNN coverage Tuesday night when the president himself addresses the nation on Syria.

BLACKWELL: And Secretary of State John Kerry says the number of nations willing to join a strike on Syria is in double digits. He wouldn't name the countries. Kerry is on a European swing to shore up commitments on Syria. He's meeting with representatives of the Arab League in Paris today. Then, they head to London later. The U.K. has already rejected any military role.

PAUL: Meanwhile, across the U.S., anti-war demonstrators -- they are hitting the streets, voicing their opposition to any military action in Syria.

So, let's go to Washington first where hundreds gathered outside of the front gates of the White House letting the president and Congress know they do not want another war. And across the country in San Francisco, crowds chanted and held banners proclaiming "No new war on Syria."

Now, there was some support for a proposed military strike. A much smaller group also got together in San Francisco. They asked for U.S. support in bringing down the Assad regime.

BLACKWELL: All right. Take a look at this. Some rough weather, heavy rains, flash floods, forced some Utah residents to have to leave their homes yesterday. Listen to all of this mess here in Utah.

And this is a street. This is in a neighborhood. It's not some river.

Officials say the good news in this community is that no one was hurt. Evacuations are no longer in place there. One witness near Alpine said the rushing waters looked like a black monster of lava. Wow.

PAUL: It's quite a description.


PAUL: That Utah storm, by the way, is expected to linger, which is the bad news. There's still a chance the region could get hit by scattered thunderstorms.

BLACKWELL: Let's bring in CNN's Alexandra Steele.

What can they expect today, Alexandra?

ALEXANDRA STEELE, AMS METEOROLOGIST: You know, they're going to expect more of the same. It's a monsoon season there. All of this moisture coming up from the Southwest. About an inch and a quarter.

Here's the radar from yesterday when these storms moved through. Here's the time stamp. Saturday 4:00 in the afternoon. South of Salt Lake, you can see where this heavy rain was.

So kind of flash flooding all occurred and really just in a very short period of time. Here's a look at the current radar picture. Now, it certainly is not seeing robust activity but we will. The atmosphere just kind of getting its act together and again today, tomorrow, another one to two inches expected throughout portions of Utah.

So, here's the quadrant of concern today. Here in the Southwest southern areas around Las Vegas, southern Nevada in toward Utah down toward Phoenix, one to two inches and south of that even more. Two to four inches.

So, that's the Southwest. As we head eastward, the story really changes. It becomes record heat. Look at Nebraska and Kansas yesterday -- 106 in McCook, 104 in Russell. Dome of high pressure in the center of the country and that's pushing eastward.

Here's a look at the high temperatures: 94 yesterday tying a record in Denver at 95, 97 the day before, and then 67 by Tuesday. As the farther east you go, the high temperatures really stay in place. What will happen is this high pushes eastward taking these temperatures between 10 and 20 degrees to the Eastern Seaboard. So, guys, by the time we head toward Tuesday and Wednesday, Washington gets into the 90s. Peak of the heat in the east will be Wednesday.

So, beautiful five-day stretch along the Eastern Seaboard.

PAUL: All right. Alexandra Steele, thank you so much.


BLACKWELL: Still to come on NEW DAY, the video we've seen this morning is just gut-wrenching. It's difficult to watch we know. But the new video that shows the aftermath of a chemical attack is going to play an important role this week.

PAUL: Yes, as the world waits for U.S. response, the question lingers. Does releasing this footage to the public compromise the American military strategy? Up next, a retired Army general weighs in.

BLACKWELL: Plus, it's all up for grabs today. A preview of the big U.S. Open Finals rematch. We'll see if Serena Williams can take home her 21st title.


BLACKWELL: Welcome back. Fifteen minutes after the hour.

CNN's Jake Tapper has obtained new videos that show the aftermath of a chemical attack in Syria. Of course, we have to warn you first that these pictures are disturbing. You may want to get the kids out of the room now. It shows dozens of people dying or dead after being gassed.

Now, this clip you see what appeared to be lifeless bodies there sprawled out across the floor. There are 13 of these videos. Another one, a young boy twitching and shaking and you can see the effects of this deadly nerve agent now with the entire world watching and administration pressing hard for a strike on Syria.

Does the release of this group of new videos, does complicate a probable military strategy?

PAUL: Let's bring in our CNN military analyst, retired Major General James "Spider" Marks.

General, thank you so much for being with us. Let me get your reaction first of all to the first time you saw those videos.

MAJ. GEN. JAMES "SPIDER" MARKS (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: They are horrible. As a human being this is the type of thing you wouldn't want anyone to be subjected to. It's an atrocity. As it's been labeled before, a moral outrage, and as a parent, it's something I would never wish on anyone. It's terrible.

BLACKWELL: General, I would like to know with chemical weapons in possibly populated areas, is there any precedent for trying to degrade or disassemble some of these things? Is there a precedent? Do we know how this would happen?

MARKS: Victor, yes. The United States has a capability. It's in the -- what I would call the arsenal of capabilities. It's very difficult. Prime consideration is what's known as collateral damage assessment, making sure the local population is either out of the way, or at least the toxins that might be released are minimized, and clearly, there's never 100 percent solution.

But there's a capability. It's called fuel air explosive which is essentially an extremely hot, very explosive implosion that would take place on top of chemical stockpiles. Now, there's a bunch of pre-work that has to go into make sure it's right and validate the coordinates and stuff is not moved.

So, when you attack a target like that, it can be done. It cannot be done by cruise missiles. That's not the weapon system to be used against that type of capability.

So, if the United States -- we don't know the plan -- if the United States is expanding its attack profile, then it would include fixed wing aircraft, pilots would be at risk, there's a lot of -- again, there's a lot of work that would have to go into making sure that that becomes -- you minimize the risk and that becomes the mission that can be executed very precisely and very quickly.

PAUL: This is part of where hesitation comes from most people. The Obama administration, you know, is trying to illustrate that the Assad regime is responsible for this. I don't know. Does this video prove either way and if isn't the government and it is the opposition, how do we know opposition isn't as dangerous as the regime?

MARKS: Well, we have to assume opposition, Christi, that the opposition is -- look, Assad has Hezbollah fighting and supporting his military. Plus, he has his own militia. Plus, within the insurgency, you've got al Qaeda forces.

So, you've got a bunch of extremely bad actors in Syria that have been fighting each other for the last almost three years. The issue remains is that Assad is the president of Syria, whether we want him gone and we're talking about regime change or we're not, he owns those capabilities. Those are stockpiles that are part of the Syrian military. He's responsible irrespective of how these things were released. That's a distinction without a difference.

But it has been proven at least forensically that chemicals were used. We have that proof. The only one that has the capability of delivering those chemicals without putting his own people at risk is Assad and his military.

That becomes kind of the fact. And then you make the determination of what are we going to do about it? And that's where we are right now.

BLACKWELL: All right. General James "Spider" Marks, good to have you. Thank you, sir.

MARKS: Thank you so much.

PAUL: And next on NEW DAY -- sports, sports, sports. Preview of all of the must-see things going on today, including a look at the big U.S. Open finals rematch and foot -- we have to talk some football.

BLACKWELL: Indeed, it's a Sunday in September. We'll be right back.


BLACKWELL: Good to have you with us this morning. Twenty-three minutes after the hour.

And this might be one of the best moments all week. Watch this. The reaction when delegates from Tokyo hear that they will be hosting the 2020 Summer Olympic Games.





BLACKWELL: So, that's in Buenos Aires. That's at the site of the announcement.

Now, watch how they react in Tokyo. And remember it's 5:20 in the morning when they make this announcement.







BLACKWELL: Thousands of people. You can't be golden streamers, (INAUDIBLE) start any other way.


PAUL: They were up all night.

BLACKWELL: Yes, probably. Well, congratulations to Tokyo.

PAUL: Absolutely. And Serena Williams going for history today at the U.S. Open as she is taking on second ranked tennis star Victoria Azarenka in a rematch of last year's U.S. Open finals. Now, if Williams can pull off this win people. She's going to become the oldest winner of the New York grand slam at 31. She's a baby, come on. More than 3.5 million bucks for it, too, if it happens.

And then tomorrow, Nadal is going to play top-seeded Djokovic in the men's finals. So, it's going to be their six grand slam final against each other. We'll see how it comes out.


BLACKWELL: Let's talk sports rivalries now. It is a Sunday in September. That means we're talking football. Last night's game between Notre Dame and Michigan set an all-time football attendance record.

Let's bring in Joe Carter now with "The Bleacher Report".

PAUL: Didn't that happen with Ohio State and Michigan?

JOE CARTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, I'm surprised, because Notre Dame earlier this week said, we're not rivals with Michigan. Well, Michigan showed up huge, 115,000 plus filled the big house last night.

Now, comparison, the Super Bowl, largest attendance crowd ever, 105,000. So college football 10,000 bigger than the NFL. Look at all these people. I love the blimp shot.

Like you said, Christi, when Ohio State comes to town at the end of November, I'm guessing that 115 record is going to go down. But a new star born in Michigan football. That's quarterback Devin Gardner. He was really good, scored five touchdowns.

Michigan went to win the game 41-30. Wolverines have won four straight at home against what Notre Dame say is not their rival, against the Irish.

Another big upset yesterday was a really good one between two in- state rivals, that's Miami and Florida. Miami, they beat the gators all of last season. Florida was good at not turning the ball over. They only turned it over 15 times.

And, yesterday, Florida turned it over five times in one game, four in the red zone. If you know about football, you can't turn it over in the red zone. As a matter of fact, there was a lot of high school recruits there. They said 150 of the best high school players in the country were there on the sidelines watching the game. What a great opportunity for Miami to capitalize on getting the best recruits in the country when they beat their in-state rival.

And got to talk football. New York Giants play Dallas Cowboys tonight, America's team as they're called. It's a prime time game. It's going to be a good one. The Giants are a perfect 4-0 in Dallas Stadium, so at least since 2009. Obviously they tend to have favorites today. You have New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, he's even a Cowboys fan, which is kind of weird. Giants are in his home state. They play in his home state. But yet, he says he's in fact a Cowboy fan.

Also a great announcement coming out -- supposedly today, according to several reports, Bruno Mars might be halftime performer at the Super Bowl.

PAUL: That would be a good one.

BLACKWELL: Joe Carter, thank you very much.

CARTER: You bet.

PAUL: All righty. Back to work for Congress now. The agenda changed just a little since lawmakers left for summer break. The House now is getting ready to tackle a possible strike on Syria. That conversation is just ahead.

Stay close.


PAUL: Well, look who is up. It's good to see you. Welcome to the bottom of the hour here. I'm Christi Paul.

BLACKWELL: I'm Victor Blackwell.

Here are five things you need to know for your NEW DAY.

First up and we have to warn you the video you're about to see is very graphic. It might be tough to watch maybe for kids especially. It purportedly shows people dying from a gas attack.

Now the Senate Intelligence Committee -- Intelligence Committee rather -- has posted 13 videos like this one on its Web site. This one is a little more difficult to see than the others. But U.S. officials say the videos show the aftermath of a sarin gas attack in Syria on August 21st. The committee members saw the video last week. The images could be shown this week at briefings for House and Senate members as well.

PAUL: Number two, an estimated 100,000 people packed St. Peter's Square yesterday as Pope Francis presided over a vigil for the people of Syria. During the five-hour service the Pope issued a plea for peace and implored world leaders not to take military action, he actually urged them instead to pull humanity out of a quote, "spiral of sorrow and death".

BLACKWELL: Number three now basketball bad boy Dennis Rodman living up to his reputation. He isn't saying much about his trip to North Korea recently but pressed about why he didn't help free imprisoned American Kenneth Bay, here's what the worm told reporters and too quote, "Ask Obama about that. Ask Hillary Clinton about that. Ask those" -- and you see it on your screen. You've got three stars there and the first one is an "a". Rodman had previously tweeted that he wanted North Korea to free Bay.

PAUL: And number four Alaska's Mount Mageik volcano has not erupted in a very long time but that does not mean it's not dangerous. Two researchers and a pilot were rescued Friday after their helicopter iced over. The group was stranded for two days in temperatures as low as 28 degrees they were able to stay inside the busted helicopter though and sleep in sleeping bags to stay warm.

BLACKWELL: Five this NEW DAY two men are recovering after they were bitten by sharks off the coast of Florida. Authorities say this happened off New Smyrna Beach -- it's just south of Daytona Beach.

The men were swimming in about knee deep water when one was bitten on the foot the other on the shin fortunately though they are expected to live.

And Congress gets back to work tomorrow on Capitol Hill. Number one on the agenda is Syria. A briefing is set for Monday evening for members of Congress.

PAUL: Yes who are expected to see those 13 very startling videos part of which you've seen already. These videos that intelligence officials say prove chemical weapons were used to kill 1,400 people in Syria last month.

Well CNN's Jake Tapper was first to get those videos after they were shown to some senators last week -- Jake.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: CNN has obtained these 13 shocking videos shown to a key senate committee on Thursday which show what the intelligence community describes as victims of a sarin gas attack. And I must warn our viewers that the videos are quite disturbing.

The videos were shown Thursday in a classified briefing to members of the Senate Intelligence Committee. It's Chair, Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein of California had requested that the intelligence community put the DVD together to show this evidence of a chemical weapons attack. She is advocating for military intervention in Syria.

The images are shocking to watch: young children convulsing on the floor; close-up shots of people apparently dying; lines of what seem to be dead bodies shrouded in neat rows and while the images are disturbing we should note that these videos do not prove that the Assad regime carried out these attacks. That's a claim the U.S. government is making they say based on other information that CNN has not verified.

As I said these clips were shown to the Senate Intelligence Committee but not yet to members of the House of Representatives. We could expect them to see those images in one of their classified briefings coming up -- back to you.

BLACKWELL: All right Jake Tapper, thank you.

An exceptionally busy week ahead in Washington: Congress as we said is back from summer break. The President is ramping up his campaign to win approval for the strike on Syria.

PAUL: Yes "STATE OF THE UNION" host Candy Crowley joining us now. Candy I know you're going to be talking with some people about the politics of Syria. What have you got?

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN HOST, "STATE OF THE UNION": Well we're going to talk to White House chief of staff Denis McDonough. He of course, quite close to the President about all of these things, he obviously the White House approved of the use of this video trying to push that vote and get backing even though the White House continues to say that in fact he doesn't actually need congressional approval. And so we will talk to him about all of that and what the President might say Tuesday night.

We also have three members of Congress who at this point are undecided in one way or another about whether they will vote yes or no. So we'll talk to them about their reservations about that as well and we'll have a political panel and an update on what's going on, on Capitol Hill at this point.

So packed show for a packed week.

PAUL: It will be interesting to see what those undecided have to say about what's got them on the fence there. Candy Crowley we will be watching thank you so much.

CROWLEY: Thanks Christi.

PAUL: And stay here for "STATE OF THE UNION" with Candy Crowley starting at the top of the hour 9:00 a.m. Eastern right here on CNN -- excuse me.

BLACKWELL: Advertisers gone wrong. It's good to have you on CNN though.

PAUL: Busted.

BLACKWELL: A Texas company said it designed these decals to get extra attention. So has it helped or hurt business?

But first a reminder that "Crossfire" premieres Monday at 6:30 p.m. Eastern right here on CNN. If you've seen at least two of the new co-host together during the week --

PAUL: Yes.

BLACKWELL: This is going to be great.

PAUL: Very fiery.

BLACKWELL: Great conversation.

Here's a look back at one of the classics.


VAN JONES, CNN HOST: Ok. This is one of my all-time favorite "Crossfire" clips. It's 2002. Democrats are going down to defeat across the country and James Carville sums up the situation as only James Carville can.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Tucker, over to you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I would say bad night for Democrats. James Carville feels the same way.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No I'm not saying I'm embarrassed. I kind of got my head in the right place.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well I must say, James, I can see why you feel that way.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I've never met this guy. Do any of you know him?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't know him. And here you have the Democrats -- I mean the story nobody is talking about is they're not going to get the House back.



PAUL: All right. Well if you're wondering what's on the calendar, let's show you this week. On Monday, summer vacation is over, like officially will be over for you but Congress returns to Capitol Hill so it's over for them. And of course the big issue on their plates is whether to approve military action in Syria.

Also on Monday, set your DVRs because at 6:00 p.m. Eastern CNN's very own Wolf Blitzer interviews President Obama talking more about his plans in Syria.

Moving to Tuesday then the President is going to address the nation making his case for action in Syria and CNN, of course, will be covering that live as well. So you'll find it right here.

Wednesday it's a day of remembrance already. The 12-year anniversary of the September 11th terror attacks -- observances is going to take place in New York, D.C., towns all over the country. We'll be covering that.

And on Sunday, the new season of CNN's "Parts Unknown with Anthony Bourdain" kicks off. Episode one featuring tours of Israel, the West Bank and Gaza -- Victor?

BLACKWELL: That's a great show. Beautifully shot. If you haven't watched it, check it out. A Texas sign company is in trouble after launching an ad campaign that looks a little too real. Look at this. The company designed this decal for truck tailgates and let's just say everybody who is looking at this is getting a lot of attention. It shows a woman tied up and bound. The company's owner says he was surprised by his community's reaction. Matt Howerton with affiliate KWTX has more.


MATT HOWERTON, KWTX: If you're driving down the road and saw this what would you do? On the surface it looks like a woman tied up in the back of a truck. But it's actually an optical illusion made by this sign company in Waco.

BRAD COBB, HORNET SIGNS: I wasn't expecting the reactions that we got. Nor was I really anything that we certainly condone or anything else. But it was just something more or less that we had to put out there to see who notices it.

HOWERTON: Brad Cobb is his name. Signs and marketing are his game. He owns Hornet Signs. One of the company's specialties is car wrap advertising which led to the idea of selling these -- tailgate decals.

COBB: It wasn't necessarily our intent though is this to make that the branding of our company. It was more of just a "what can we do with it"? When you're going to go put a wrap on the side of your vehicle, you want that image to be realistic and to portray the image of your company.

HOWERTON: So when an employee from Hornet Signs was tied up and photographed, this decal was made and was slapped on the back of another employee's truck and so far public reactions have been pretty one-sided.

COBB: It was an experience for us and something that was really short-term and I was really shocked at how much traffic that it did drive.

HOWERTON: We posted a photo of the tailgate on our Facebook and asked for your opinions. A majority agreed with Rhonda Broughton who said "Abduction or any violence against women is not funny or cute."

A few sided with Chris Nelson who said "This American business owner has a decal that made the news. Like it or not, it works."

Either way, since the decal has hit the streets, Cobb has seen an influx in tailgate decal orders. So poor taste or good business? You decide.


BLACKWELL: Well the business owner says that he put it out there and wanted to see if people would react. But what else would he expect? He had a woman tied up in the back of a truck. PAUL: I don't know. Sometimes good intentions just take a nosedive when you're not thinking straight but like that gentleman said we're talking about it.

BLACKWELL: Yes and sales are up.

PAUL: All right.

Next on NEW DAY, let's move it along here.


PAUL: Controversial photos show what look to be service members expressing opposition to military action in Syria. Are they real though? If so, how much trouble could these men and women be in?


BLACKWELL: Some controversial photos have caught a lot of attention. Look at these pictures that have gone viral online. They appear to show military service members making political statements opposing U.S. military involvement in Syria.

Now CNN has not been able to independently verify the photos but they are raising some serious questions. Our Rosa Flores has more.


ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Political messages like these posted on a Facebook page by a group called "The Armed Forces Tea Party" showing anonymous people in military uniform condemning a U.S. military strike on Syria have gone viral. This one reads "I didn't join the Marine Corps to fight for al Qaeda in a Syrian civil war." This other one directed to the President, quote, "Obama, I will not deploy to fight for your al Qaeda rebels in Syria. Wake up, people."

(on camera): What do you think these messages will do?

JOSE VASQUEZ, FORMER U.S. ARMY: The messages on Facebook I think it creates an awareness that there is a difference of opinion within the military.

FLORES (voice over): Jose Vasquez served in the Army for 15 years and understands why these service members are speaking out. He's not linked to the Facebook page but says he was honorably discharged as a conscientious objector meaning he left the military on the grounds of freedom of thought.

VASQUEZ: In my case I just did a lot of reading. I went to college and understood that the majority of the people that are injured during war are civilian casualties by and large.

FLORES: If the anonymous people in these photos are indeed active military personnel and they are identified, retired U.S. Army General "Spider" Marks says they could be in real trouble. GEN. JAMES "SPIDER" MARKS, U.S. ARMY (RET.): If anybody that is in uniform right now disagrees in advance with what the discussion is all about, they run the risk of being punished under UCMJ.

FLORES: Or the Uniform Code of Military Justice. The Department of Defense and the Tea Party groups decline to comment to CNN regarding these photos and their potential action.


BLACKWELL: And Rosa Flores is live in New York with us this morning. Rosa, what type of punishment are we talking about here?

FLORES: You know, Victor, we talked to retired U.S. Army General "Spider" Marks about that specifically and he says it depends. First of all they would have to identify the Uniform Code of Military Justice section that would apply. After that it would be circumstantial, he says. It would depend on the type and manner of service that have been brought forward by these potential service members.

But then again we've got to remember that there's a lot of ifs in this. This is if these are indeed service members that are active members of the military and if they are identified and if the DOD decides to investigate. So Victor, there's a lot of questions. Like you mentioned we've not been able to independently identify these individuals or if they are active members of the military.

BLACKWELL: All right Rosa -- quickly, can you tell us -- let's throw another if in here. This would be a really uncomfortable and dangerous situation if you have combat members -- members of the military rather, going into combat who question the motive. Maybe they'd go rogue while they are working.

FLORES: You know, we asked him that as well. And his short answer was "no" because as soon as any military member goes into an active mission, they focus on that mission. But I had the exact same question. I said what if that happens? He does tell me that leadership within the U.S. Army and the other branches of the military are on the lookout. It's their obligation to be on the lookout for individuals like these and so that's what they would be doing in this particular case -- Victor.

BLACKWELL: Rosa Flores in New York. Thank you.

PAUL: Boy, it seems everyone is talking about Syria and whether the U.S. should attack. Even celebrities are speaking out and some are -- well let's say they're causing a stir.

Designer Kenneth Cole, for example, tweeted this. "Boots on the ground or not, let's not forget sandals, pumps and loafers, #footwear." A lot of people were upset by that. I mean this is hitting some nerves here.

And then there's Alyssa Milano's supposed sex tape that turned out to be a public service announcement aimed at creating awareness about Syria.

Let's talk about this more and who is weighing in with CNN editorial producer and avid tweeter @NadiaBilchik. Thank you so much Nadia. So what are people saying, specifically?

NADIA BILCHIK, CNN EDITORIAL PRODUCER: Let's start with Madonna. She says "U.S. stay out of Syria for humanity's sake." And in fact she has the "f" word in there which she deletes. Now you're probably saying who cares what Madonna says, right? Well very instantly around 30,000 people followed her.

PAUL: Wow.

BILCHIK: And there was one reaction of somebody said "Madonna, let us remind you that you are here to entertain us."

PAUL: So people didn't want to hear what she said but they cared enough to respond back to her.

BILCHIK: Exactly. You know, you say what power does Madonna have, but quite a bit when it comes to her followers on Instagram.

And then Mia Farrow conversely thinks that there should be some military action in Syria and she retweeted the following saying. "Samantha Power's case for a striking Syria is the best I've heard from the Obama administration." And of course Samantha Power, the new U.S. ambassador to the U.N. does support some military action.

And then let's start with the men.

PAUL: I mean you say the ladies aren't the only ones speaking, we know that right?

BILCHIK: Sure. Now you may not know these people because they're maybe before your time, Christi Paul.

PAUL: Don't let me surprise.

BILCHIK: Legendary actor Ed Asner.

PAUL: Yes. Yes I do.

BILCHIK: You do. And did you ever Mike Farrell in MASH?

PAUL: Of course.

BILCHIK: Oh, really. Ok.

PAUL: I'm older than you think.

BILCHIK: Obviously. They say beating war drums on Syria is one of the many mistakes that Obama has made.

PAUL: All right. Well, how are people responding to them? Do we know? BILCHIK: So many people agree and so many people are against. It's so divisive, you know. I went to a dinner party last night and the conversation was getting dull. So I said, "Ok, what do you think about Syria?" Everyone has an opinion.

But my other favorite is George Clooney was recently at a press junket for his new film "Gravity".

PAUL: Right.

BILCHIK: It's a space thriller co-starring Sandra Bullock. And he did expect some off topic questions. One journalist says to him, he thinks they're going to ask him about Ben Affleck and "Batman". But what do they ask him about?

PAUL: Did they ask him about Syria?

BILCHIK: They asked him about Syria.

PAUL: Are they thinking, remembering his support for the Sudan.

BILCHIK: And yes. And remember his role in Syriana. So all of those things; but he was very politically correct and he deflected the question but no doubt he does have an opinion as I'm sure our viewers do. So let us know @NadiaBilchik, @Christi_Paul.

PAUL: We love to hear from you. Nadia thank you so much. Always good to have you here -- Victor.

BLACKWELL: All right. Up next, some viral videos and must see moments after the break.

Stay with us.


PAUL: All right. Well, apparently Miley Cyrus's controversial twerking performance at the MTV Video Music Awards should have come with a warning. "Do not try this at home."

BLACKWELL: Please don't. Look at this video. It's gone viral. A young woman trying to twerk manages to fall down, smash a table and set herself on fire. This is -- I'm not joking. Look.


PAUL: Come on. We hope the girl wasn't hurt first and foremost. We don't think she is ok because she captioned the video with "A joke" once it was up. But we do think she is ok.

BLACKWELL: Yes. Yes, hopefully she's all right.

PAUL: Yes.

BLACKWELL: I want to show you -- we're just cutting that out. All right. Well, we had a fat cat named Buddha -- it's funny. PAUL: You can see it online.

BLACKWELL: Thanks for watching today.

PAUL: All right. "STATE OF THE UNION" with Candy Crowley starts now.