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Shutdown Continues, No Deal in Sight; Details of Daring Terror Raids; An "Unprecedented" Weapons Plan

Aired October 8, 2013 - 05:00   ET


ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. Welcome to EARLY START. I'm Zoraida Sambolin.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm John Berman. Great to see you. It is Tuesday, October 8th, 5:00 a.m. in the East.

SAMBOLIN: And we are going to begin this hour with what is happening in Washington.

The partial government shutdown in its eighth day with another deadline fast approaching -- that deadline for raising the debt ceiling. The Obama administration warns not raising would throw the economy into chaos. And Democrats today plan to take a step toward avoiding that.

Here is senior White House correspondent Brianna Keilar.


BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Ramping up the pressure on House Republicans, Senate Democrats will introduce a bill today that would increase the debt ceiling for more than a year. The goal: push this hot potato issue beyond the 2014 midterm elections. The bill has no strings attached. No agreement to change Obamacare. No budgetary bartering.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I cannot do that under the threat that if Republicans don't get 100 percent of their way, they're going to either shut down the government or they are going to default on America's debt.

KEILAR: The president still says he won't bargain with the country's ability to pay its bills.

REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: The president's refusal to negotiate is hurting our economy and putting our country at risk.

KEILAR: House Speaker John Boehner insists a debt ceiling increase without some concessions from the White House will never get past his Republicans. He says the same about a government funding bill, though, Democrats question that.

SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV), MAJORITY LEADER: One surefire way to figure out if the bill will pass is have a vote on it. KEILAR: Only one thing for certain, Americans are not impressed, especially with Republicans. In a new CNN/ORC International Poll, 63 percent of those surveyed blame GOP for the shutdown, 57 percent point the finger at Democrats, and 53 percent hold President Obama accountable.

Eight days into the partial government shutdown, nine days from breaching the debt ceiling, here is how it could play out. Perhaps a long-term proposal what the Senate is taking up. If that doesn't fly, could be a measure to buy time. Or both sides could keep talking past each other until the U.S. defaults, and there's bipartisan agreement, that would be an economic disaster.

Brianna Keilar, CNN, Washington.


BERMAN: Now to the terror raids in Africa that put a man the administration says was an important al Qaeda operative into U.S. custody. We are hearing new details about that raid and another raid in Somalia that was less successful because of a fascinating reason that might involve children.

Chief national security correspondent Jim Sciutto has that.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The Westgate Mall attack in Nairobi, Kenya, left dozens dead, a luxury mall destroyed, and a country terrorized. It is attacks like this, bold, sophisticated, and beyond Somalia's borders that helped lead the U.S. to target al Shabaab on its home territory.

It was a daring operation. Late Friday night, SEAL Team Six, the same team that killed Osama Bin Laden, launched from a commercial ship aiming to capture the al Shabaab leader known as Ikrima.

But as the assault team approached the shore side villa, they are met by a hail of gunfire, heavier resistant that they expected.

With the element of surprise lost and seeing children in the compound, the SEAL Team withdrew without their man.

GEORGE LITTLE, PENTAGON SPOKESMAN: There was a firefight, absolutely. They took every step to avoid civilian casualties in this case and that is what our military personnel do.

SCIUTTO: Military sources say the SEALs were never pinned down and had rescue teams nearby at all times.

Just hours later and 3,000 miles away in Libya, another daring operation, this one in broad daylight in downtown Tripoli. The target, Abu Anas al-Libi, picked up by members of the elite U.S. Army Delta Force.

His family said he'd just returned from morning prayer, when U.S. forces, many in masks, surrounded his car and smashed the driver's side window and rushed al Libi away as his wife watched in terror from their home.

She spoke exclusively with CNN's Jomana Karadsheh.

UMM ABDUL RAHMAN, WIFE OF ABU ANAS AL LIBI (through translator): Everything happened rapidly. They grabbed him and shoved him in the car. I saw them doing this and heard them saying get in. I wasn't sure if that was my husband. The cars then sped off like a rocket.

SCIUTTO: Al Libi, a senior al Qaeda operative wanted for the 1998 embassy bombings in Africa, is now on a U.S. Navy ship in the Mediterranean. Ikrima, the target of the Somalia raid, remains at large.

(on camera): These two raids show that even surgical strikes can be risky and difficult. One team got its target, the other did not. That said, a U.S. official told me emphatically the U.S. does not see the Somalia operation as a failure. Rather, this official said it shows terror that they can, quote, "knock on their door anywhere in the world."

John Sciutto, CNN, Washington.


SAMBOLIN: Our thanks to Jim.

Five minutes past the hour.

There is no agreement yet between the United States and Afghanistan over a long-term security agreement. The latest round of talks took place yesterday with the focus on Afghan's request for help preventing terrorism from Pakistan.

U.S. officials say they are confident an agreement can be made the next few weeks.

BERMAN: What are being called meltdowns caused by power surges are being blamed for delaying in the opening of the NSA's massive new data center in Utah. "The Wall Street Journal" in a fascinating article this morning says 10 electrical surges at the facility have destroyed hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of machinery. Its opening has been now delayed for at least a year.

SAMBOLIN: The Northeast and mid-Atlantic region cleaning up today after severe storms brought rain and high winds to wide swath of that region. Washington, D.C. was pounded with rain that very quickly, very hard. One driver managed to escape after a large tree came crashing down on his car.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All of a sudden, a cloud of green leaves and then that was the tree came down. And I tried to stop in time but, you know, with the wind and weather like it is, the visibility is bad. So it's hard to judge.


BERMAN: The storm system also dropping heavy rain and bringing down trees and the Albany, New York area. Some of those trees falling right into homes and electrical lines. A few hundred customers lost power. But as of right now, it looks that region was mostly spared from any serious damage.

SAMBOLIN: And a lot of those falling trees, leading to sparks and a fire in New Jersey. This is what it looked like west of New York City, as power lines fell. Those flames were quickly put out. Wind gusts to 60 miles an hour in some places and thousands of customers lost power when branches and power lines fell to the ground. There were some injuries from the falling tree branches.

BERMAN: Indra Petersons is back from chasing Tropical Storm Karen. She is with us this morning.

What's the story for today, Indra?

INDRA PETERSONS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: It's amazing, right, to go from tropical weather, to what we saw yesterday, that squall line really pushing through the area. You can actually, this is a loop from yesterday as that radar kind of shows it kind of kicking through the area very quickly with, yes, those strong winds ahead of it. Many reports of strong wind gusts across the region as it continued to make its way east.

Today, we are looking at a different picture. We are watching a cold front, really kind of kick through the area and with that, the temperatures actually were very warm. Look at that, New York with 76.

Now as we watch that cold front existing off the coastline look what happens. We will drop the temperatures way down. In fact, down to the 60s and, tomorrow, same thing. It cools off even more. So, that is the biggest change for us here in the Northeast.

Now, making your way down to the Southeast, yes, that front exited off to the Northeast but the tail end of it, they are kind of hanging on a low has formed and we are going to have to watch this low as it starts to make its way up the coastline and as it does so, it will continue to pull moisture off the coastline and bring heavy rain into the Carolinas and eventually creep even further up into the Northeast by the end of the week. So, that's going to be the big story on the East Coast.

West Coast here we go again. Another storm making its way. This time all the way down even in through southern California. So we are talking about temperatures dropping and even the first big rainmaker early in the season for southern California.

So, a lot going on. Sorry about the cool weather today. A big difference.

SAMBOLIN: It's OK. Thank you.

BERMAN: We are always happy to have you back. PETERSONS: Thank you.

SAMBOLIN: All right. Man's best friend could be the ultimate cancer detectors. Canines at the University of Pennsylvania's working dog center are being trained to detect ovarian cancer.

So wind up some of the compounds in ovarian cancer have a distinctive smell and dogs with their sensitive noses can sniff it out if the training works. Researchers hope they will be able to isolate the compound and develop an electronic nose that can sense those compounds, too. And early detection may help save more women's lives.

That is a tough cancer to detect, so this would be groundbreaking.

BERMAN: I've been down to the University of Pennsylvania, their cancer research center, and their work, they do with dogs. It really is amazing there. Doing some incredible stuff.

SAMBOLIN: I hope that works.

BERMAN: All right. Coming up, weapons inspectors in Syria warned of unprecedented danger. Mohammed Jamjoom live in Beirut with a new concern from the head of the United Nations.

Plus --


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Very scared, because this can happen again.


SAMBOLIN: A store clerk fighting off an armed robber with a weapon of his own. This is one, folks, you are going to have to see in order to believe.

BERMAN: Wait. There is more! It is time for your morning rhyme! Tweet us with your very own original verse. It can be anything. It's #EARLY START at #morningrhyme.

We will read the very best ones on the TV in our next half hour.

SAMBOLIN: Some excellent ones already.


BERMAN: Welcome back to EARLY START, everyone.

The dismantling of Syria's chemical weapons stockpile may be bigger process than originally thought. United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon calling it unprecedented and outlining an operation that would stop Syria from making more weapons the first of next month.

Mohammed Jamjoom is following this story from Beirut this morning.

Mohammed, explain to us exactly how this is supposed to work. MOHAMMED JAMJOOM, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, in the last couple of days, we've heard a lot about the fact that Syria has started complying with this negotiated settlement to rid the country of chemical weapons. A lot of international leaders are being happy about that news.

But if anybody thought this was an easy process they got a wake-up call after reading this 10-page letter that was sent by U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to the U.N. Security Council just last night. He talked about just how dangerous a mission this is, how long it would take and how the fact is -- this is unprecedented.

The U.N. and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons which both have staff on the ground now trying to dismantle the weapons program in Syria, they have never undertaken this kind of a challenge before, definitely not during a raging civil war.

Now, Ban Ki-moon said this needed to be done in three phases. He says the first phase is making sure that Syria was actually declaring all its chemical weapons and chemical weapons program. He said the second phase was going to be destroying mixing and filling equipment. And that the third phase, which is expected to be completed by June 30th of next year, is going to be the very difficult and dangerous and volatile task of ridding the country of chemical weapons. That means nerve agent, sarin gas, mustard gas and the likes.

He said that Syria has most likely over a thousand metric tons of chemical weapons and chemical weapons equipment. So, this is a very, very difficult task. He said that so far, there's 35 people on the ground in Syria. That's going to need to be staffed up. They're going to need to have at least a hundred people. They're going to need somebody to oversee.

He says that they would have a light footprint in Syria that the program would be based in Cyprus, but they need to make sure that the Syrian government is giving a clear and free pass to these inspectors to do the kind of work that they need and they need to try to secure the safety of the inspectors. So, it's going to be a very, very difficult task.

Yes, people, even U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry pleased so far what Syria is able to do, but still this is much more difficult than originally thought.

BERMAN: But who is guaranteeing the safety of the inspectors, Mohammed? Is it the regime?

JAMJOOM: Well, the regime should be guaranteeing their security and safety. But, in the past, when the U.N., when the Arab League, when other international bodies have tried to send in inspectors or monitors, many times where they said that the Syrians were not complying in that regard, were not giving them unhindered access, were not securing their presence there.

Many, many times we have heard in the past that U.N. inspection teams and other monitors, that there have been mortars, or shells that have hit close to where they are staying. close to their hotels. They have been put in danger on many occasions. The war is only getting worse there. Over a hundred thousand people have been killed and it seems to be raging out of control.

So, how exactly the Syrian government, when they are battling with the rebels every day is going to secure the safety of these inspectors, it's not known at this time, John.

BERMAN: All right. Thank you so much, Mohammed Jamjoom, keeping watch for us in Beirut. Appreciate it.

SAMBOLIN: Sixteen minutes past the hour.

Did accused Colorado theater shooter James Holmes drop online hints about his plans? It's one of the questions as both sides debate which evidence should be allowed in trial. Holmes is accused of opening fire inside a crowded theater in 2012, killing 12 and injuring 70 more.

Two online dating profiles allegedly set up by Holmes were at issue on Monday. The trial is slated for next February and prosecutors are seeking the death penalty there.

BERMAN: Charges now for a school district employee in Steubenville, Ohio, accused of tampering with evidence and perjury in a notorious rape case. William Reiman (ph) is an IT worker for the district. This is first charges brought by this grand jury investigating whether adults in the district covered up or ignored information about the rape of a teenager by two Steubenville high school football players.

SAMBOLIN: Doctors can force a 10-year-old Amish girl to resume chemotherapy according to the latest ruling from an Ohio appeals Supreme Court. Sarah Hershberger's (ph) parents stopped her lymphoma treatment in June saying it made her too sick. An initial ruling sided with them but Monday, the court agreed with the hospital, saying the little girl will likely die without continued treatment.

BERMAN: Another man charged with the assault in the SUV/biker battle in New York. Police say the 29-year-old Brooklyn man can be seen on tape punching and kicking the driver and police are now investigating the presence of two off-duty officers at the scene. A total of four men have now been arrested and police say more arrests could be on the way.

SAMBOLIN: A zoo worker mauled by a tiger in an Oklahoma animal park has now been identified. There's the picture. The tiger's owner tells CNN affiliate KFOR the worker's name is Kelsey Safre (ph). She is 27 years old and she is from Honolulu. Doctors say she lost the tip of her ring finger but they were able to save her arm. A statement says she broke protocol by sticking her hand into the tiger's cage.

BERMAN: I assume that does break protocol I assumed with the tiger.

One man on New York's Long Island decided a robber would not get the best of him. He was working with a store -- SAMBOLIN: I laugh but this is very serious.

BERMAN: Very serious and a very big machete. A man tried to rob this clerk but the clerk said no with that giant machete and chased the would-be robber out of the store and across the parking lot.


ELENA ALVARADO, STORE OWNER: He just thought it was a fake gun. That's why. It was a joke.

DETECTIVE LT. KEVIN BEYRER, POLICE: Certainly the clerk got very lucky in this situation. If anyone is confronted with a similar situation like that, we would advise to imply with this person and give up any money.


BERMAN: Yes, I don't think anybody is going to advise a store clerk to carry a machete. May not be the best practice but it worked for this guy. Glad he is OK. They're still looking for the person who was armed with a very .22 caliber pistol.

SAMBOLIN: And coming up, the debt ceiling deadline is fast approaching. And now, the country that holds a big chunk of our debt is saying, get your act together. "Money Time" is next.


SAMBOLIN: Welcome back to EARLY START. It is "Money Time."

Christine Romans is here.

Good morning.


Dominos are very apropos, because, you know, the dominos that are falling in Washington are really hurting your 401(k) and your nest egg. Why? Major markets fell sharply again yesterday on the worries the United States of America could do what Treasury Secretary Jack Lew is unthinkable, default on its obligations.

The Dow fell below the key 15,000 level. The S&P closed at a four- week look, and there were some scary predictions what a default could do to the markets.

Deutsche Bank analyst David Bianco -- look at this. This is his worst case scenario. The S&P 500 could crash to 850. The S&P is currently at 1,676.

Congress has a lot of room to mess up your nest egg. It's been a stellar year. The Dow still up 14 percent, the S&P is up 17 percent, the NASDAQ is up 25 percent. Futures are slightly higher but it depends on what is happening in Washington. And who is watching that like a hawk? China. It's warning Washington on get its act together. The largest U.S. foreign debt creditor wants a debt deal soon. Chinese vice finance minister saying on the official Chinese news agency Web site, quote, "On the question of the debt ceiling, the Chinese side feels the U.S. needs to take realistic steps to assure against defaults on the national debt."

Why does China care? Becase China is one of our bankers. It holds more U.S. debt than any other country, just over $1.2 trillion in U.S. treasuries. Japan is the second biggest foreign creditor, $1.135 trillion.

Ironically, the biggest holder of U.S. treasuries, Social Security Trust Fund, U.S. municipal governments. We own our own debt and we would be hurting ourselves.

All right. The new hundred dollar bill debuts today. I don't carry hundred's but this bill was originally due in 2011 but there was this printing problem that left blank spaces on them. The new bill has several features designed to make it easier for the public to authenticate but more difficult for counterfeiters. Those measures include a blue ribbon and color changing ink that changes from copper to green when it's tilted. It's kind of cool, right?

It's ironic the bill gets released during a government shutdown, a shutdown that Ben Franklin might not approve of.


BERMAN: I only get hundred's when I win big at the table. Keep handing the hundreds right there.

ROMANS: I went to D.C. yesterday and driving down the street. I don't know what street it was. I was driving on the street, 22nd I guess, the Bureau of the Interior is there, totally dark. Completely dark. It was so weird to see government buildings dark.

SAMBOLIN: Ghost town.

BERMAN: Not turning the lights on any time soon the way things are going. And as you said, other countries now are starting to take notice. It could be serious.

Christine Romans, great to see you this morning.

ROMANS: Nice to see you.

BERMAN: Next time, bring snacks.

ROMANS: I know, I hear Maribel --

SAMBOLIN: Cookies. She brought cookies!

BERMAN: Cookies, just saying.

Coming up: the partial government shutdown entering its eighth day with a big, huge dire deadline fast approaching. But this morning, there are some clues that both sides might be giving just a tiny little bit. We'll tell you how, coming up next.


SAMBOLIN: A dangerous debt deadline fast approaching as gridlock takes over in Washington, but now a new hope that the president and Congress may come together to stop a debt ceiling showdown.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is the worse single event in terms of a snowstorm I've seen.


BERMAN: Big snow. Wind.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Everything is gone.


BERMAN: Big snow, wind, rain, dangerous storms across the country. The damage it all caused and what is coming this morning.

SAMBOLIN: And concussion controversy.