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Clashes in Cairo; Obama Poll Position; Turning Fear into Optimism; Ice Hockey in Dubai; Interview With Congressman Grimm

Aired November 23, 2011 - 19:00   ET



A market in turmoil, the Dow taking a dive on the debt crisis. And President Obama's approval rating way down with white blue-collar Democrats. Can he hope to be reelected without their support?

And the latest from Egypt. Three American college students jailed in Cairo. The mother of one joins us with new details tonight.

Let's go OUTFRONT.

I'm Erin Burnett. OUTFRONT tonight, chaos in Cairo. And amidst it all three American college students are detained. One of their mothers comes out front tonight. We're going to talk to her in just a few minutes. But first, we want to show you what it looks like right now in Tahrir Square.

That is a live picture and as you can see it is relatively calm, it's 2:00 a.m. local time. The image is in stark contrast, though, to what we saw throughout the day and into the evening tonight. Rocks and teargas flew through the air. Riot police clashing with protesters who want the nation's military rulers to step down immediately.

Officials say 35 people are dead, 3,000 injured after five days of protests.

Now Tahrir Square is the same spot where Egyptian protesters forced the removal of their longtime leader Hosni Mubarak back in February. I was there during those protests, they were mostly peaceful. It was a rather uplifting experience despite a couple of very bad episodes of violence. But very different than what we see right now.

Ben Wedeman has been there through thick and thin, from the very beginning, and he's in Cairo tonight with the latest.

Ben, what happened today? What's happening now?

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, today there was a briefer spike from clashes that have been going on around the clock since Saturday afternoon. For three hours, the army intervened, put themselves between the protesters and the hated security forces of the Interior Ministry, and managed to calm things down. But as we were right in the middle of it, suddenly I saw a stick fly through the air, then rocks started to come in at the security forces who responded with teargas, and it was back where we were earlier in the day.

And we saw ambulances rushing from that place near the Interior Ministry to Tahrir to these -- basically makeshift field hospitals that have been set up. So it appears that this hope of some sort of respite from the violence has simply gone away and the standoff continues -- Erin.

BURNETT: Here behind you, there's still people walking, I know, and on the streets behind you and chanting as it goes through the night. But let me ask you, I'm just curious, you know, we keep seeing these images, it's gotten obviously a lot worse ahead of -- ahead of these elections.

But is it Cairo in any way starting to return to normal? Or has it become a situation of people when they get frustrated they protest and you're just not having people go to work and live their normal lives?

WEDEMAN: Well, you have to realize that this is just one part of a city of 18 million people. If you go just a couple blocks from here, shops are open, people are trying to go about their business. But of course this is the heart of the city through which many of the main roads pass. And so it does sort of change the way people have to go about their business.

But you know I think the nature of television and the media you're seeing these pictures of clashes. But the clashes are in a very small area. And of course, yes, there's the elections coming up on Monday. It's not even clear if they're going to take place. There are reports that some in the government are considering postponing them simply because this is sort of occupying the heart of the country.

And it does have sort of a paralyzing effect on politics and everybody focuses on this relatively small piece of land behind me -- Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Well, Ben Wedeman, thank you very much. Reporting from Cairo.

As I remember even in the heart of the revolution, a block or two away from Tahrir Square, there were shopkeepers who were just frustrated by their inability to try to make a living.

President Barack Obama is stuck in the 40s. We're not talking about the decade. We're talking about his overall approval numbers. They've lingered there since mid June. And a new CNN poll out today shows that that's where he's staying at least for now. Forty-four percent say he's doing a good job and approve of him.

But when it comes to white collar-blue Democrats, the president has taken a big hit. Let's show you this. CNN poll numbers show 50 percent don't want to see him on the ticket next year. That is a 24 percentage point drop since the question was asked back in October.

So what does it mean for the president as election season heats up? It's a pretty stunning number. And fresh off the debate last night. Well, who is he going to be running against? There's been some big changes on that today.

David Gergen joins us, our senior political analyst. David Frum, our contributor, and Democratic strategist Jamal Simmons.

Jamal, let me start with you and ask you about that precipitous drop among white blue -- white blue-collar Democrats. How -- why do you think that has happened so dramatically and so quickly among a group of voters that he traditionally has owned?

JAMAL SIMMONS, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, it's a -- it's a problem, let's start there. This is not good news for the president. But it is also -- we have to distinguish between white blue-collared Democrats and white blue-collar independents and Republicans. Most Democratic -- white Democratic swing voters, those Reagan Democrats everyone talks about, they've actually already left the Democratic Party. Most of them identify themselves as independents.

So we're talking about white Democratic voters. This was true in the primaries in 2008. Those folks typically end up voting for the Democratic nominee or else they probably would've already left. So they're dissatisfied, the president's got to figure out why that is and try to get them energized for the election. That's a very different population than the general election while blue-collar voter.

BURNETT: And I guess, David Frum, it's also -- they may be dissatisfied with him, but I mean, is there any alternative out there? If you look at the Republican side where you could see a white blue- collar Democrats en masse saying, all right, we're going to go vote for this candidate.

DAVID FRUM, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, white non-college voters are the most depressed, anxious, fearful -- demographic group in the whole country. In fact, they are the group -- only group more likely to say that the future will be worse for them, worse for their children than more than will say it will be worse than it will be better.

You don't find anything like that degree of pessimism among blacks and Latinos even though those two groups have suffered more in this recession. What's -- so white Democrats don't look very different from white blue-collar non Democrats. They are in economic pain.

This is going to be the fourth consecutive Thanksgiving of economic hardship. And really since the recession started in December of 2007 --

BURNETT: Yes. FRUM: -- it's very nearly the fifth consecutive Thanksgiving of severe economic hardship for millions and millions of people. And they see a political class, a political system that is just apparently indifferent to them. Has nothing to offer them. And the president, of course, takes the blame.

BURNETT: David Gergen, what can he do about it? Because that's a -- I would imagine that that's a poll number that, as Jamal said, that's -- very disturbing for his strategists.

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: The answer is very clear. He ought to create jobs.

Listen, this is a group that Barack Obama has had trouble with since -- from the beginning. This is a group that Hillary Clinton did very well with in the primaries. And John McCain did pretty well with.

I'm in the state of Pennsylvania, and I can tell you one of the top Democratic pros in the state told me earlier today that if the election were held today Mitt Romney has a very good chance of beating Barack Obama in a pivotal often considered safe Democratic state.

Now what's happening here is that -- of course, is that the manufacturing base of the country is falling out from under. And that's where a lot of these folks were employed. And very, very importantly for political purposes, they're often employed in the swing industrial states.


GERGEN: Whether it's Pennsylvania or across Ohio and, you know the states. And you know that's why this is -- that's why this number is so critical for him and why tonight as you look at what's happening in Europe, as you'd started the show, you know, the momentum is growing in Europe for an economic crisis there, which will reverberate here.

When the Germans have a hard time selling bonds, you know, as they did today, you know, a light turn out for the bond sale, that's news we've -- that President Obama has to be paying attention to in the White House.


FRUM: Erin, can I pick up on David's very important point there? One of the things that has happened this fall that is -- that makes the numbers different from where they were a few months ago is we've had this tremendous rally in the dollar. The dollar has been rising all through the fall because of the problems in Europe. The dollar is now back at its purchasing power as of 1997, its external purchasing power.


FRUM: So if you're in industrial employment, if you're looking to export markets, you are feeling pressure as compared to say, five, six, seven months ago.

BURNETT: That's right.

FRUM: We may be picking up here some early warning, there are layoffs, hours being cut or pay being cut in these industries, it's another of those breaths of winter warning us that the economy may be on a downward trend.

BURNETT: Quickly before we go, David Gergen. A Pew poll on Mormonism came out, something obviously Mitt Romney is going to be paying close attention to. Numbers haven't changed since the last election. Americans still the same percentage of people, 52 percent, know nothing about Mormonism by their own admission.

One-third of Republicans don't think Mormonism is a Christian faith. You've got Republicans -- conservative Republicans in Iowa now trying to ally against Mitt Romney.

Is the Mormon issue going to hurt him again?

GERGEN: Well, you know, we've wondered why Mitt Romney has had a hard time breaking out as a front runner, which typically Republican front runners do. And this poll suggests that in the mix -- I don't think the driving force, but in the mix, there is a question of Mormonism, in addition to the other issues that are swirling around him.

BURNETT: All right. Thanks very much to all three. Appreciate it and happy Thanksgiving.

SIMMONS: Happy thanksgiving.

GERGEN: Thank you.

FRUM: Thank you.

BURNETT: All right. Still OUTFRONT, we are going to continue to talk about the story in Egypt as we told you. One of the mothers of the boys who has been arrested for throwing Molotov cocktails supposed at police there. He's in jail tonight. His mother is going to be with us.

And we're going to talk about a very bizarre story. Seven Amish men have been charged with several hate crimes after cutting the beards and hair of other Amish men and women.

We have that story and a look inside a world shrouded by secrecy where corruption reigns. Andrew Feinstein takes us inside the world of illegal arms trade.


BURNETT: "The Number" tonight is 24. That is how many minutes you can expect to wait to talk to a representative at Virgin America Airlines. Interesting to talk about this on the night before Thanksgiving when people are flying all over. Virgin America telling customers the wait is longer than normal because the company is switching to a new reservation system.

The study conducted by Cell Service found U.S. Airways, United, and Continental had wait times of over five minutes. The shortest wait times were for Hawaiian and Alaska, which were under two minutes.

Maybe that's why people are going to those places. They're really, really excited to go. Whether you like hot or cold.

All right. Big financial news tonight. The market sinks on fear of debt. A crisis in Europe and at home, stocks have fallen. The Dow today down 236 points, the S&P down 7 percent since it started its losing streak, which is now six days.

All grim numbers as the nation gets ready for Thanksgiving and the biggest spending day of the year. "Wall Street Journal" saying 152 million Americans are going to be shopping on Friday. That's a lot. Half the country.

How do we turn the fear into optimism? It can begin in Washington with a deal. Now we know we didn't get one with the Super Committee and you know how we felt about that, pretty passionately and pretty upset. But there's another chance coming up, that's the extension of the payroll tax cuts which saves Americans $1,000 in taxes a year.

There are other things on the table as well. Can Congress get it done?

Let's ask one of its members tonight, Congressman Michael Grimm, Republican from New York.

And hopefully not with a grim forecast here as we're talking about the markets.

REP. MICHAEL GRIMM (R), NEW YORK: Absolutely not.

BURNETT: All right. So let me ask you. What happened this week? It was atrocious, it was offensive, it upset Americans of both political parties.

GRIMM: Sure.

BURNETT: You were a member of a Republican who signed on to a letter that said everything should be on the table. Revenues and cuts.

GRIMM: That's correct.

BURNETT: There were 140 of you guys, right? Maybe even more.

GRIMM: A little more.

BURNETT: A little bit more. And yet --

GRIMM: Over 150.

BURNETT: The 12 guys on the Super Committee couldn't do a deal, why?

GRIMM: Well, in all sincerity I think it's because when the country is this polarized and when you're trying to tackle as big a job as they are -- I mean, this is big, tax reform and things like this. These are not small issues. You need true leadership from the top, and that's why we really need -- we need the president to come in and lead a little bit.

And that hasn't happened. And you've seen other presidents do it. President Clinton did it, President Reagan did it. So --

BURNETT: And he said he was asked to stay out. So he was doing what he was asked. I mean that's his side of it.

GRIMM: No -- true, true -- well, because you know he started from the very beginning saying, well, if there's certain things in it, I'll veto it. So he started a bad precedent and that's why they said, you know what, leave it to us. So they kind of pushed him away, but if he would've started with leadership from the very beginning, I think we would've had a different outcome.

But what I really want to say is, let's not panic yet. That's the worst thing that we can do. This bipartisan effort that you just mentioned, over 150 of us, including Senate, House, Republican, Democrats, are working on a $4 trillion deal. I think we can -- we can really put a lot of pressure on the leadership to bring that to the floor and hopefully go even bigger that what the Super Committee was going to do.

BURNETT: So you think you could still -- there's still a way to do -- and by the way $4 trillion for people out there, that is a grand bargain, that is a number that would prevent more downgrades and last for a long time. That's a transformation for --

GRIMM: You just hit on something that's extremely important. You're right. It's about preventing further downgrades and how do we really do that? By instilling confidence.


GRIMM: Not only in the people here in the United States but throughout the world that says we understand we're in a debt crisis, but we do have a long-term plan, we're serious and we're going to start implementing it now. And that's what the world is looking for. True leadership.

BURNETT: All right. So when we look at the $4 trillion, we'd always thrown up this as simple math. And I know everyone wants fundamental tax reform. It would be great if we could get it. All right. But in lieu of that, Bush tax cuts go away $2.8 trillion, you match it with $2.8 trillion in cuts --

GRIMM: That would be horrendous.

BURNETT: But it gets you at $5.6 trillion. GRIMM: Right. But it also cripples the economy. You have to understand something at a time where there's already a constriction in the economy, we're trying to incentivize and motivate those that create jobs. If we start job-killing taxes on the very job creators that we're looking to to help stimulate the economy, we take a step backwards.

So it's very delicate, it's very difficult. Can we definitely increase revenue? Certainly, but through closing loopholes, through getting some of the 51 percent of Americans who don't pay any taxes now, having them have skin in the game.

BURNETT: Federal taxes.

GRIMM: Federal taxes having some skin in the game. So yes, there's ways we can increase revenue, but we don't want to start, you know, tax increases, tax hikes that would be job-killing across the board.

That would be a mistake.

BURNETT: And I think people understand that and get that but when they look at people over $1 million, and I go the $250,000 line, which is a different line.

GRIMM: Right.

BURNETT: A million dollars and they say, all right, having your income be taxed at 35 percent now going up to 39.6, that is a 13 percent increase on the money --

GRIMM: Absolutely.

BURNETT: It's not that much.

GRIMM: Right. I understand -- just keep in mind one thing, these are also the people that spend a lot of money out there at restaurants. They're the ones buying, you know, new cars, buying, you know, even -- I know it was under attack, the yacht boating industry was under attack. Guess what?

BURNETT: Yes, recently it was.

GRIMM: There's a lot -- there's a lot of people that make $50,000, $60,000, $70,000 a year making those boats and yachts. We don't want to put those industries under either. So we want to promote everyone and I believe -- you know, when the levels rise, all boats rise with it.

BURNETT: So you think that a $4 trillion deal with the position that you have on taxes is possible? That Congress could surprise us?

GRIMM: And like I said from the beginning, I'm willing for the purpose of the discussions to put everything on the table. I don't want go with any preconditions. I don't want to come in and say well, I won't even discuss taxes on millionaires, I won't discuss this. Everything is open for discussion.

But let's start where we have common ground and work our way out. Where I think the country has been going in the wrong direction as far as the Congress is that we're working where we -- where we have problems. Where we disagree and trying to work our way in.

Let's start with the common ground. I think that would be the best for America and instill some confidence. And also it's very important that the people believe that our elected can get the job done and that we can work together. But that is going to take leadership at the top.

BURNETT: It is. And you get that confidence in Congress and Wall Street and banks.

GRIMM: Well, there's many of us --

BURNETT: It would make a huge difference.


GRIMM: There's many of us believe that the economy is so bad that President Obama doesn't want us to come to a consensus because this way he has someone to blame for his failed policies. So that is something that Republicans think a lot about. And it certainly does appear that way.

BURNETT: All right. Well, thank you very much, Representative Grimm, appreciate your taking the time being with us.

GRIMM: Thank you.

BURNETT: All right. Well, it's a busy day at airports around the nation as you know. And hopefully you're not sitting in one watching this wanting to throw something at it because you're waiting in line or for a delayed flight.

Millions of people traveling. And for some, the weather really has been bad. Let's check in with our meteorologist Chad Myers.

So, Chad, trouble spots tonight. Where are they?

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Boston, New York, San Francisco.

Erin, we still have 5,500 airplanes in the sky right now. Luckily they're not that big. But there are still a lot of people either in the air or trying to get in the air. The problem was the low cloud cover across New York and into Boston.

A bunch of planes didn't even go from New York to Boston. Say, I know there are people sitting in New York waiting for a flight to Boston. The New York flight got cancelled, there's no room on the next flight, no room on the next flight, and vice versa coming back from Boston as well.

Another troubled spot, driving. It's Philadelphia. Getting out of Philadelphia going west on the turnpike or northeast on the northeast extension, an hour delay both ways. So think about that if you're leaving Philadelphia at this point.

And from Seattle back down to Portland and including San Francisco, now two hours delay for you. It's going to be a tough night for some people, so even if you're going to Hawaii, if you have to sit there for four hours and wait for it, that's still not very fun even though you have a great destination in mind -- Erin.

BURNETT: OK, except for, again, you're going to Hawaii, and as we just said your wait time if you're calling customer service is less than two minutes. I'm sorry, Chad.

MYERS: I get it.



BURNETT: All right. Thanks.

MYERS: You're welcome.

BURNETT: Three American students jailed in Cairo and the mother of one of them coming OUTFRONT tonight.

And the case that captivated the country, former district attorney who prosecuted Casey Anthony comes OUTFRONT. The take on what went wrong, why he lost.



BURNETT: It wouldn't be hump day without "The Camel Report." All right. I know that it's kind of the Friday of the week, but still. When you think of Dubai, you probably think of maybe the tallest building in the world, rich people. One thing you probably don't think of, though, is probably ice hockey, you know, because it's usually 110 degrees.

But with the founding of the Emirates Ice Hockey League, it is becoming more and more popular, and yes, they play inside. This week, the league's top two teams, the Abu Dhabi Storms and my personal favorite, the Dubai Mighty Camels, play for the inaugural Capital Cup. Yes, see, that's the logo at the Abu Dhabi Ice Sports Club.

It was a thrilling game. The Camels got off to a quick start, scoring quickly. By the end of the first period, they were up 2-1, but the Storms fought back and by the end of the second, the Camels were down 3-2.

Now the Mighty Camels were on a tough stop. They had a huge hump to get over, but in the third period, Camel magic. Mighty Camels scored four times, took a 6-3 lead if they could just have hold on, the championship would be theirs. But then the Storms scored once and twice, and all of a sudden it was 6-5. It looked like the Camels would let the game slip through their fingers or toes.

The last few moments felt like an eternity, but then as the final seconds ticked away and Storms were unable to score and, yes, the Dubai Mighty Camels won the game and the championship.

Congratulations, Mighty Camels, you made this hump day one to remember.

Hey, I want to be a sportscaster.

Still OUTFRONT, the "Outfront 5." Billion-dollar backroom deals.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Even the government, the government trade. The so-called clean or formal trade.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is interdependent with the black trade, the completely illegal trade.

BURNETT: The prosecutor.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She was the best liar I've ever seen.

BURNETT: Harvey's week with Marilyn.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When we stick to movies and everything to do with movies or television or entertainment, the company succeeds.

BURNETT: All this OUTFRONT in our second half.


BURNETT: We start the second half of our show with stories we care about, we focus on our reporting, do the work and find the OUTFRONT 5.

Up first, seven Amish men have been charged with federal hate crimes for beard and haircutting attacks against other Amish men and women. Now, the clan's leader Samuel Mullet Sr., shown in this YouTube video is among the seven arrested in Ohio. Jefferson County sheriff Fred Abdalla called him evil and said the Amish community across Ohio and Pennsylvania lived in fear of the Mullet.


SHERIFF FRED ABDALLA, JEFFERSON COUNTY, OHIO: All these crimes that he's been involved in or have people commit crimes for him, it's not the Amish way and it's not religion. It's not religion to have your own daughters beat your wife, beat their mother. That's not religious. That's not Amish religion.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BURNETT: Former New York City prosecutor Paul Callan told OUTFRONT the case is clearly a hate crime since cutting hair to an Amish man has religious symbolism.

You may recall, five of the men have been charged with similar state charges last month, those have been dropped in favor of the federal charges.

Number two, there were two new claims of sex abuse made against former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky. One of the new alleged victims is a family member, according to Sandusky's attorney, Joe Amendola. In a statement to CNN, he says Jerry Sandusky vehemently denies the allegations and, quote, "These new allegations appear to be the result of a very nasty divorce and custody battle."

Well, the new claims of abuse could cost Jerry Sandusky his freedom if the courts decide to revoke his bail. He's still out as you may recall on bail.

Number three, Disney joining YouTube's online movie rental service. Right now, there are just a few titles available, including "Cars" and "Pirates of the Caribbean." But hundreds more should be hitting the service soon.

Bad news for Netflix, which recently lost about 1,000 Disney titles after failing to renew a deal with Starz.

Number four, initial jobless claims out early this week up by 2,000, to 393,000. Now, it's not great news, but the thing to emphasize is that it is below 400,000, that is the key level that economists continue to tell us, says that the economy is creating jobs rather than losing them.

Well, not quickly enough to get tax revenue up because it has been 110 days since we lost our top credit rating, what are we doing to get it back? Not getting any help out of Europe. That's for sure.

Germany was hoping today to raise $8.1 billion in a bond auction, was only able to pull in $5.2 billion. That is scary. It is the biggest and most important economy is Europe, which is the biggest in the world. It caused a sharp selloff in stocks here at home.


ILAN GRAPEL, HELD CAPTIVE IN EGYPT FOR 5 MONTHS: Solitary confinement, some could consider five months as a form of torture, mental torture. And it's perfect torture because I show up physically fit to the consular visits, but for 14 days to a week, I'm pacing in my room.


BURNETT: That was Ilan Grapel. He came OUTFRONT about two weeks ago to tell me a story. The 28-year-old Israeli-American was suspected of spying in Egypt. Authorities arrested him in June; he wasn't allowed to come home until late last month. Now, another American family is worried about their son who has also been arrested in Europe. Derrik Sweeney was accused of throwing Molotov cocktails during the protest. He was called in for questioning on Monday, along with two of his American friends, Gregory Porter and Luke Gates. They've been in custody ever since.

Sweeney went to Egypt in August to study at the American University in Cairo. He's in his junior year at Georgetown University.

Joining me now is Derrik's mom, Joyce Sweeney.

And, Ms. Sweeney, thank you for being with us. We appreciate it.

I know your son and his friends wrapped up questioning about midnight in Cairo just a couple of hours ago. Do you know if they've been charged with anything?

JOYCE SWEENEY, MOTHER OF AMERICAN DETAINED IN EGYPT: As of this point in time, no. They have not.


SWEENEY: I'm sure of that.

BURNETT: Do you -- are you aware of where things go from here at all if not charged? Do you know do they still stay in jail? What happens next according to your understanding?

SWEENEY: Well, we've been getting different information. The last conversation we had with the embassy in Cairo said that we may not have anything going until Tuesday, but then my husband received a call from the State Department here in the United States about within the last hour, saying that there was going to be a hearing tomorrow morning at 10:30. Not necessarily to charge them, but it could be either to charge them or release them or to determine the additional investigation needs to transpire.

BURNETT: Obviously, it's going to be a long night for you waiting.

But let me ask you this, I know you talked to your son before questioning had started today. What did he tell you? I don't know if you just heard Ilan Grapel, about the 28-year-old American man who has been jailed for six months in Cairo in solitary confinement.

What are the conditions under which your son is being held?

SWEENEY: Well, according to my son, they were fed. And the three boys are all being kept in the same housing. Actually, the embassy said -- the representative from the embassy, Mr. Powers said they were being held in the same cell together. So they could actually speak to each other, which is kind of comforting --


SWEENEY: -- to know that at least he had somebody there that he could talk to.

So that's much better than solitary confinement for sure.

BURNETT: No, it certainly is. Let me ask you about what happened here. I know your husband has spoken about your son, that he volunteered for President Obama's campaign, subsequently switched -- has become a Republican. Obviously, he's a young man.

But do you -- do you think he could've done this? Been swept up in the moment and actually thrown a Molotov cocktail.

SWEENEY: Oh, my goodness, I didn't know that my husband had spoken all those things. I missed those conversations. No, I definitely do not believe that Derrik could have done it.

And I asked him point-blank, did you do this? And he said, no, they didn't do anything wrong. So --


SWEENEY: He didn't do anything wrong and -- nor did his friends.

And I knew that in my heart, but I wanted to reassure myself and hear him say it point-blank to me. He's a very, very bright kid with a good heart who, you know, believes in all the people in the world and the betterment of the world, and really he's majoring in Arabic and psychology and wanted to learn more about the Egyptian culture. That's why he went there.

BURNETT: And do you have any -- I mean, I know it's hard to tell, depending how things happen. But do you feel any regrets about having him going to American University of Cairo?

I was there actually in February when the kids that were there at the time like him who were actually being shipped out of the country because of worries about the revolution. And obviously it's interesting -- it shows that he cares a lot, that he would want to go this fall.

SWEENEY: Right. And, you know, we did. We contemplated it last spring. You know, and I'm sure that many people have, throughout my parenting, challenged some of my decisions. But I have a son in Afghanistan, a daughter in Paris, and a son in Cairo, and it's their life. And they need to experience life not just sit by on the sidelines and watch other people live it.

We talked about it. We discussed it in great detail that -- the potential for danger.

And he assured me that he was willing to take the risk, wanted to learn about the Egyptian culture, and felt that it was -- when Georgetown University said they were going to continue and move forward with this semester abroad, I also believed that they would -- the university would not endorse the semester without it being a safe thing for him to do.

BURNETT: All right. Well, thank you so much for joining us, and good luck tonight. I hope that you get your good news tomorrow.

SWEENEY: Well, you and me both. Thank you very much for having me, Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Joyce Sweeney, her son Derrik in jail in Cairo tonight.

Well, the global arms trade has long been the world shrouded in secrecy. There are a lot of backroom deals in faraway shady places, and that's not the movies. That is real life. And some of it now coming to light.

Andrew Feinstein just wrote a book called "The Shadow World: Inside the Global Arms Trade." It's an expose in what really goes on. You may not be surprised, there's a lot of hypocrisy, there's a lot of corruption, but he names names and there's Americans in there. You may not believe how bad it really is.

I spoke to him earlier and asked him how big of a player America is in the global arms trade.


ANDREW FEINSTEIN, AUTHOR, "THE SHADOW WORLD: INSIDE THE GLOBAL ARMS TRADE": The U.S. spends almost as much as the rest of the world combined on weapons and trades, as much as almost the rest of the world combined in weaponry. So, this is really where it happens. This is the big player.

BURNETT: And now, I would imagine one of the places you're seeing a whole lot of build-up, aided, abetted by the United States would be the Middle East.

FEINSTEIN: Oh, absolutely. I mean, the U.S. is about to sell $60 billion worth of weapons to Saudi Arabia. The Saudis having been involved in the biggest ever arms deal where 48 billion British pounds, in which 6 billion pounds of commissions were paid, including just over 1 billion pounds to the then-Saudi ambassador to the U.S., Prince Bandar bin Sultan, whose father happened to be the Saudi defense minister at the time.

BURNETT: And now, it's beyond Saudi Arabia, but all of this in the name of the threat of Iran.

FEINSTEIN: Absolutely.

BURNETT: Do you think from what you look at that we are really seeing a modern day arms race all the way through the Gulf?

FEINSTEIN: I think we're seeing a modern day arms race everywhere now because the reality of the global arms trade -- what I try to put across in the book -- is that even the government-to- government trade is interdependent with the black trade, the completely illegal trade. So, the Viktor Booths of this world --

BURNETT: The guy who just -- FEINSTEIN: Just was convicted in New York. Between 2003 --

BURNETT: For selling weapons to terrorists who wanted to kill Americans.

FEINSTEIN: Absolutely. And between 2003 and 2005, he was transporting equipment, weapons, and ammunition into Baghdad for the Department of Defense. And what Viktor Booth has done, there are hundreds if not thousands of others who are working for the U.S. for major defense contractors continue to play a role in the illegal trade in weapons.

BURNETT: And why does this still happen? I mean, is this just the, quote-unquote, "military industrial complex" in the United States that's still so intertwined with big government? We can't break that?

FEINSTEIN: If one looks at the fact that in 2010, 84 percent of retiring senior officials at the Pentagon went to work for the major contractors in senior executive positions. The people they'd been giving contracts to throughout their careers, lawmakers then want to approve these massive weapons projects because they get promised jobs in their districts and get very nice campaign contributions.

BURNETT: What is your view on the rise of China's military?

FEINSTEIN: Well, the reality is that by comparison to the United States, China is still spending very small amounts of money on its military. If it increases its expenditure as it has been doing, it will spend about $114 billion.


FEINSTEIN: So, the gulf is massive.

BURNETT: And I know we were talking about how the Pentagon says, oh, China spends, you know, closer to $300 billion or $400 billion. And you're saying, well, they have a vested interest in inflating those numbers to continue the fear and keep the spending at home.

FEINSTEIN: One thing that struck me while researching the book was that in every generation, there's a group of people very closely linked to defense contractors, to certain people in Congress --


FEINSTEIN: -- who constantly say that the United States is falling behind some other power.

BURNETT: All right. Andrew, thank you very much. It's great to see you.

FEINSTEIN: Thanks so much for the time.


BURNETT: Still OUTFRONT, Casey Anthony's trial captivated the nation. The assistant district attorney who worked on the case against her comes OUTFRONT to discuss the trial and the verdict.

And my interview with Harvey Weinstein.


BURNETT: We do this at the same time every night, our outer circle. We reach out to our sources around the world and we begin tonight in Bahrain, where a new report requested by the king found that security used excessive force and tortured civilians during protests earlier this year.

Now, the report is an effort at reconciliation, it was report by the king.

Mohammed Jamjoom is in Manama.

Mohammed, are protests still ongoing there?


MOHAMMED JAMJOOM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Erin, the situation remains intense here in Bahrain, and there are still sporadic protests happening. Bahrain for a smaller country as it is, is a very complex one -- a Sunni-led government, but a Shiite majority population. The key right now is going to be even though the king has pledged reform and accountability and prosecution for those who were proven to be involved in these abuses is that this happens, that the commissions report that their recommendations be implemented as quickly as possible, that's how volatility here will be decreased and will be decreased as expeditiously as possible -- Erin.


BURNETT: Mohammed, thank you.

And now, to Libya where the International Criminal Court chief prosecutor announced Libya could prosecute Saif Gadhafi. He's, of course, Moammar Gadhafi's son, an heir apparent. The ICC reversed course in its initial request to try him at The Hague.

Jomana Karadsheh is in Tripoli.

Jomana, why did the ICC back down on its demand?


JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Erin, ICC chief prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo says they are not in competition with Libyan authorities. Their goals, he says, is to see Saif Gadhafi face justice. Ocampo says it would be good for the Libyans who have the national rights to take over the case.

But, first, they have to prove that they have a genuine case against him and that they're proceedings would meet ICC standards. And then the court would grant them the right to hold this trial on Libyan soil -- Erin. (END VIDEO CLIP)


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She was the best liar I've ever seen.


BURNETT: Was it imperfect justice, or was there reasonable doubt? That is a question we're still left with, after Florida jury found Casey Anthony not guilty of the 2008 murder of her 2-year-old daughter Caylee.

Former assistant district attorney, Jeff Ashton, was part of a team that prosecuted Anthony this summer. He's revealing new details about the case in his new book, "Imperfect Justice: Prosecuting Casey Anthony."

Jeff Ashton is OUTFRONT with us tonight.

And, Jeff, thank you very much for coming on the program.

You give a lot of details in the book. And I want to get straight to the bottom line that so many people have because so many people in this country were riveted by this case.

What do you think is the most important reason that you lost?

JEFF ASHTON, FORMER PROSECUTOR IN CASEY ANTHONY CASE: Well, I think as I discuss in the book, I think one of the most important reasons that the case came out the way it did was the jury that was selected. And I think that was largely affected by the level of pretrial publicity.

I believe that, you know, from having been through jury selection, that there were so many people out there that we would've loved to have had on the jury, the kind of people who, you know, were willing to do the kind of analysis that we wanted and look at things sort of the way we would, they'd already seen all the evidence. And because they'd seen it, they pretty much already made up their minds, and, of course, you can't have a juror who's already made up their minds. So, what you're left with is basically people who, you know, either haven't seen it or didn't draw the kind of conclusions that we were going to be arguing.

So to me, that's the biggest factor that affected the outcome of the case.

BURNETT: And an interesting take given that so many people watching it did seem to feel, you know, viewers, people that were watching it on Headline News, for example, did seem to feel differently in terms of her guilt.

But let me ask you something about one of the jurors said, Jeff. He said -- spoke out to the state and said, you never explained exactly how Caylee died. And that was a big part of the reason why they couldn't go ahead with the conviction.

Why did you not do that or could you have focused more in retrospect, or is there more you could tell us now about what happened?

ASHTON: Well -- I mean, we told them how Caylee died. We, you know, argued in no uncertain terms how the pieces of the puzzle came together to show precisely how Caylee died.

I think what he's referring to is that we didn't have a witness who could come in to court and say this is exactly how she died. You know, while I respect his opinion on that, and, again, juries are allowed to, you know, demand whatever they like, how she died was less important than the fact that she died by results of a homicide.

And we felt that the circumstantial evidence we provided, you know, amply eliminated the possibility of an accident. You know, that the duct tape, the way the body was disposed of. Just the idea of somebody, you know, responding to an accidental death of a child by throwing them in a swamp, we felt, was compelling evidence that excluded the reasonable possibility that there was an accident.

The jury focused on the one issue, the issue of exact cause of death. And he's right. We couldn't tell them exactly how she died, whether it was the duct tape, the chloroform, being put in a bag. You know, any one of those could have done it.

To us, the duct tape was the smoking gun. It was the only reason we could think of for the duct tape to be there.

BURNETT: Do you regret going for the death penalty? A lot of people believe that that was the reason you didn't get a conviction.

ASHTON: I don't. And I know a lot of people have said that, trying to find, you know, something that the state may have done wrong. As I indicate in the book, you know, there's analysis that goes into that. Ultimately, it was the state attorney's decision, and, you know, I indicated, again, in the book, that I thought it was unlikely that they'd actually get it.

This jury, though, was given a lot of options that would allow them to punish Casey Anthony, but not with the death penalty. They were given lesser offenses, would have been a lesser prison sentence. So, I can't imagine that was a key factor for them.

BURNETT: All right. Well, thank you very much, Jeff, for coming OUTFRONT tonight.

ASHTON: Thank you very much for having me.

BURNETT: All right, thank you.

Well, the movie "My Week with Marilyn" opens tonight. One of the men behind the film, Harvey Weinstein -- yes, the one and only comes OUTFRONT, next.



BURNETT: The films he's produced with Miramax and the Weinstein Company have received a mindboggling 261 Oscar nominations, winning 62 Academy awards. His latest film, "My Week with Marilyn" opens today.

Movie producer, entrepreneur and personality, to fair to say, Harvey Weinstein, comes OUTFRONT tonight.

Good to see you.


BURNETT: OK. So, let's talk about this movie. I've seen some of the trailers and some of the ads, and, obviously, Michelle Williams, sort of a dead ringer.

WEINSTEIN: She's amazing. I mean, she's -- the reviews -- like one reviewer in San Francisco who is tough on my movies, said Michelle Williams lights up the sky. I never read that in a review.

She was amazing. From "The New Yorker," "Vanity Fair" -- I mean, just -- what a year for her. I mean, I'm so happy for her.

BURNETT: All right. It's good for her.

What made you decide, though, to do this, to say -- you know, to go and say we're going to find out something new about Marilyn Monroe. But what new do we find out?

WEINSTEIN: I've always liked, you know, on my whole career, you know, moments in time or the creative process. You know, like "Finding Neverland" was about how did Peter Pan get written. And James Barry had this disaster failure.

I never do like bios, from cradle to the grave. So, I read this book, called "The Prince and the Showgirl." And then in 2002, the author wrote about a missing week, which is -- which when he was 23 and Marilyn was 30, he said he spent a romantic week with Marilyn Monroe and I just -- you know, I found that concept irresistible. And it's fun and it's entertaining.

But through the snapshot, you really learn a lot about her.

BURNETT: Well, she was on her honeymoon with Arthur Miller when this secret weekend happened with this other man.

WEINSTEIN: Yes. She had a fight with Arthur Miller which you see in the movie. She's there at the house, and he writes in his notebook how difficult it is to be with her. And she wants to be a good wife.

But, you know, he leaves in a bad way and he does something terrible to her, and, you know, she becomes vulnerable to this charming young man. BURNETT: And so, this secret week he saved for so many years and now we find this -- what kind of side of her? What do we learn about her that's unexpected?

WEINSTEIN: I think that you learn that Norma Jeane, who she was, invented Marilyn Monroe. There's a scene that Michelle goes to reflection (ph). She is at Windsor Castle and she goes down the stairs from the library and all of a sudden a crowd gathers in the queen's castle.

And she turns to the boy and she says, "Should I be her?" -- her being Marilyn. And then she just turns it on for the crowd. She wiggles and she dances like Marilyn Monroe, and then just runs away.

BURNETT: All right. So, the artist is another movie you have that's coming out on Friday. And "The Iron Lady" with --

WEINSTEIN: Meryl Streep.

BURNETT: Involving England with Margaret Thatcher.

What's the fascination with historical movies right now? Is it just sort of that's the way it is, they all happen to be coming out now or do you think there is something audiences want about history now?

WEINSTEIN: I don't know. I just go in -- you know -- I'll make a movie like "Chicago" because I'm interested in a musical. I'll make a movie about Margaret Thatcher because I'm interested in her.

BURNETT: When you look at your company now, would you describe your business as a multimedia company?

WEINSTEIN: When we stick to movies and everything to do with movies or television or entertainment, the company succeeds. I think when we didn't and it went off base with film companies, with clothing companies and Internet companies, I'll gladly take my place along the worst CEOs.

But I'm good at making movies. And we're really expanding into television. And we're also expanding into digital things. We're doing some things with Netflix. And they are a company at the core that loves movies.

BURNETT: All right. Good to know you can make a difference in any line of work.

Harvey, thank you very much. Appreciate you taking the time.

WEINSTEIN: Thank you.


BURNETT: All right. The movie I'm definitely going to check out this weekend. Thanks so much for watching. And everyone, please have an absolutely wonderful Thanksgiving if you're watching the U.S. Everyone else, enjoy the rest of your week.

"ANDERSON COOPER 360" starts now.