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Iran Military Site; Interview with Senator Dianne Feinstein; Romney's Long Path; Palin in 2012?

Aired March 7, 2012 - 19:00   ET


ERIN BURNETT, HOST: More calls for the United States to intervene in Syria. Is America planning its biggest military assault since Iraq? And Mitt Romney won six states last night. Will his opponents drop out of the race or try to block him from getting the nomination? And the latest developments in the Rutgers sex cam suicide. What did the suspect tell Tyler Clementi right before he took his life? New information tonight.

Let's go OUTFRONT.

We begin tonight with breaking news. We have new details about satellite images showing (INAUDIBLE) earth moving vehicles at Iran's Parchin military site. This is the same site that International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors have tried to visit. Iran has indicated this week that they may give them access. Foreign affairs reporter Elise Labott is following the story from the State Department tonight and Elise, what can you tell us about these latest reports?

ELISE LABOTT, CNN FOREIGN AFFAIRS REPORTER: Well, Erin, we're talking about this Parchin site, this military base that the International Atomic Energy inspectors have been trying to get in. Iran has said no when they made a trip there a few weeks ago, but now, we understand satellite images over the last few weeks show that the Iranian have been cleaning up the site and now you see yesterday in the wake of the international community going for talks with Iran, Iran is saying sure, we can come in.

What diplomats are saying is yes, we're not surprised that Iran is going to let us in because they've been cleaning it for the past few weeks. Now we understand the satellite image shows that they're cleaning up. We don't really know what's going on there or what they were working on, but we do know over the last few weeks, these satellite images showing that vehicles, earth moving vehicles and trucks have been rushing around the site presumably trying to clean up some activity before inspectors get in there -- Erin.

BURNETT: And Elise I'm curious, some of the reports say oh that they -- there could have been nuclear weapon trigger tests or things like that, but the date as to whether these things happened, if they happened, the dates are very unclear. David Albright, a former U.N. weapons inspector, just a couple of moments ago, we talked to him and he said well at the very least these reports and this intelligence seems to pit the IAEA against U.S. intelligence, which has indicated that there hasn't been much activity in Iran on a nuclear program for a while. What is your take initially from what you're hearing?

LABOTT: Well I think it's -- we need to be careful to say that this Parchin is not a site where there would be a nuclear test. Basically, what is tested there is what they called expressive compulsions (ph) and that means that the trigger for a nuclear device would be tested there, but not necessarily a nuclear test. So what officials say and diplomats say is what they could be working on is the so-called weaponization or the militarization of the program that you've been talking about for so many weeks on the show. That could be going on and IAE inspectors said in the recent report that they put out that they thought that Iran might be working on that at that site, but no one is saying that a nuclear test could be going on there and our sources are saying that they don't have any evidence of any kind of nuclear tests, but they do believe that Iran is working on the so- called trigger components that they could use to build a weapon for a nuclear weapon.

BURNETT: All right. Well Elise thank you very much. We appreciate it -- that breaking news just coming in this afternoon of the clean at the Parchin site. The other big story we're following today is Syria. And whether the United States is about to make its biggest military decision since invading Iraq. Senator John McCain today called for U.S. air strikes against Syria to help the opposition (INAUDIBLE) President Bashar Al-Assad. There was at times a tense exchange with Defense Secretary Leon Panetta.


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: How many additional civilian lives would have to be lost in order to convince you that the military measures of this kind that we are proposing necessary to end the killing and forced to leave power, how many more have to die, 10,000 more, 20,000 more? How many more?

LEON PANETTA, DEFENSE SECRETARY: What doesn't make sense is to take unilateral action at this point. As secretary of defense, before I recommend that we put our sons and daughters in uniform in harm's way, I've got to make very sure that we know what the mission is.


BURNETT: United Nations estimates that the year long conflict in Syria has resulted in 7,500 deaths, most of them civilian. At least 40 were killed today, including seven children, according to the opposition. The question is whether the U.S. is ready to get involved in another Middle East conflict. Military intervention in Syria does not come at a small cost to the United States. Retired Air Force Colonel Cedric Leighton tells OUTFRONT when you look at the monetary costs, an air campaign in Syria could last at least two weeks. Price tag would be $2 billion, which compared to Libya, which was only $900 million is as you can tell more than double.

But Syria's military is not like Libya's, which means this would be just a small down payment to a possibly much more significant commitment. Syria can fight back. Just take a look at these numbers, ground force, 320,000 troops, 5,000 tanks, at least 555 Russian MIGs, 4,000 plus surface-to-air missiles. Now McCain says that's even more reason for the U.S. to get involved to help civilians.


MCCAIN: So, would you characterize this as a fair fight when he's using artillery and tanks to kill Syrians?

GEN. MARTIN DEMPSEY, CHAIRMAN OF THE JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF: I would characterize the Assad regime as brutalizing their own citizens.


BURNETT: Former Assistant Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz agrees with getting involved, writing this week in an editorial in "The Wall Street Journal" that quote, "strengthening the Syrian opposition is not an obstacle to a peaceful end to this conflict. To the contrary, it may be the only way to achieve one", but Leon Panetta was direct today. He says the U.S. should not intervene now. Why? Well, to start, we don't even know who we're arming.


PANETTA: We faced somewhat the same situation in Libya. Here, you've got triple the problems because there are so many diverse groups that are involved.


BURNETT: Egypt's foreign minister warned that involvement in the form of arming rebel fighters would quote "lead to an escalation in the military conflict and spark a civil war in Syria". Well just who would the United States help by launching air strikes against Assad's regime or perhaps by actually arming the opposition and what are the consequences of military action? Senator Dianne Feinstein is the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee. She is briefed regularly on Syria. We talked tonight about Syria and Iran. And I want to note we spoke just a few moments before that breaking news about Iran's Parchin military site.


SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D-CA), INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: The United States cannot be the world's policeman. We still have men and women dying in Afghanistan. We're trying to get out of Iraq. We played a role in Libya. We see is Middle East exploding. The key is to get the United Nations to pass a resolution, which enables the Arab League to go in there. The key is to develop regional bodies, which are responsible, stable and can handle situations like this. I think we can provide humanitarian aid. We can provide advice, but in this situation, I do not believe that we could, should commit American lives.

BURNETT: And it's interesting, you say that today. Obviously we just heard Secretary Panetta saying that he thinks that this could be three times as complicated as a place like Libya, where of course we're now seeing certain parts of Libya wanting to split off from other parts, so that situation is far from resolved, but as chairman of the Intelligence Committee, what do you know about the Syrian opposition? I mean I know we like to simplify these things and it's not that simple.


BURNETT: But do we even know who the quote "good guys" are?

FEINSTEIN: Well, I'll tell you what I know. I know it's very divided. I know there are many groups. I know that al-Qaeda is in there. I know that before you arm somebody you have to know what they're connected with and what they're going to do with those arms and we don't really know that to the best of my knowledge. You're right. Syria is a very complicated picture. It's a brutal ruler.

Assad, I have very little respect for. Having said that, open humanitarian zones. Find ways for people that need to leave, to leave. Work with surrounding countries. Help as best we can, but if we start attacking the Syrian army, which is not a minor army in that area, and Syrian equipment, we are in another war and one of the things that bothers me is increasingly, the solution to everything is bomb. And I don't think it is. I think the solution is working out alternatives to bombing and that's what we need to do.

BURNETT: When you talk about war, obviously, there's been a lot of talk recently about Iran and what the right thing is to do and for a lot of reasons, the election, Israel's adamant stress about Iran. It appears that we're near some sort of a tipping point. What sort of intelligence, how have you been briefed on what Iran is really doing right now?

FEINSTEIN: Well, I have followed the intelligence very carefully. I have met with Israeli generals. I read everything that's come out. I've had occasion to be able to discuss this with the National Security Council, Tom Donilon, with the president and here's what I believe. I believe that Israel will attack. I believe that it is important that diplomacy be given an opportunity.

I believe it is possible to achieve a diplomatic solution. And now that the P-5 plus one, in other words, the members of the Security Council plus Germany, have agreed to a negotiation which can take place shortly, our teams have left. I think that if Iran is smart, if Iran really wants to bring its citizens into the 21st century and become economically upwardly mobile, that they will realize that going for a nuclear weapon makes no sense.

BURNETT: You just said though that Israel will attack and I know that obviously you had a chance to meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu when he was in the United States the past couple of days. What did he tell you? This whole question about Israel attacking is really -- there's such a crucial question as to if they do it, when.


BURNETT: What can you tell us that he's thinking now?

FEINSTEIN: Well, his revolve is very firm, no one should doubt that. He told us he's not asking anything of the United States. Israel believes they are prepared to handle it. Now, what happens after an attack is another story. And attack is very difficult. The question is can it be solved another way? I happen to believe it can.

I happen to have tremendous belief in the act of hard-nosed comprehensive diplomacy and I believe the Israelis will wait to see what happens. Sanctions are beginning to work. The Central Bank is under sanction.


FEINSTEIN: More countries have come into the sanctions. The real is in trouble. Unemployment is up. Food stuffs are scarce. The time has come for Iran to realize that the world is serious.

BURNETT: If Israel though determines that that attack will come before the United States would like it to, before the United States feels that diplomacy has been given a fair shot, what does the United States do? Are we basically then completely stuck? I know there's no treaty, but stuck going into?

FEINSTEIN: Well, as Mr. Panetta has said, the intelligence indicates that Iran is still a year to two years away from a weapon. Intelligence says that the supreme leader has not given the order to develop a nuclear weapon. Enrichment is taking place. Much of it is hidden. These are two very cautionary notes. So, as I look at this, anything is possible. And Iran is a party to the nonproliferation treaty. There is nothing in this for Iran to have a nuclear weapon, nothing at all.


BURNETT: Mitt Romney picked up six more states last night. Was it enough or are the Republicans headed for a brokered convention? And then the new movie "Game Change", in that movie, Sarah Palin is portrayed as unstable and in over her head. Is that true or not? The writers behind the movie join us next and those Apple lovers out there, the new iPad was unveiled today. There are a number of things that you need to know about it though and well of course we're going to tell you about them.


BURNETT: So Mitt Romney's campaign says the nomination is all but sewn up when it comes to the numbers. Campaigns, says the other candidates can ignore the basic principles of math and you know we love numbers on this show. We love it. So, we decided to look into it. It is unlikely that Rick Santorum or Newt Gingrich can pass Mitt in total delegates. All right that's a fact. But there is something that they can do by staying in and that is block Romney from actually securing the nomination by delegates.

John Avlon is here to explain. Like I said maybe this will end in sudden death at some point and I don't mean that literally. Just in case anybody misconstrues what I'm saying. OK, but this seems to keep dragging on and dragging on and dragging on. So you've done the math. How does Mitt Romney get there? What's the best case scenario?

JOHN AVLON, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Let me tell why this is different, right --


AVLON: Because in the past candidates have been able to sew up the nomination, more or less on Super Tuesday, but this time, it's different and it's different for two reasons -- one, math, the other, money. For the first time, the RNC is doing proportional allocation of delegates. Not winner take all. That means it just takes a lot longer to get to that magic number of 1,144.


AVLON: The second is Super PACs. In the past you could functionally force another candidate out by saying look pal, you got no money. You may have the heart, but you don't have the cash. Get out and that way you could thin the herd and functionally get the nomination. But Super PACs and proportional representation mean that things are going to go on for a long time.

BURNETT: Sheldon and Newt sitting in a tree.


BURNETT: OK. So, let's go through the Romney scenarios.


BURNETT: What's the best scenario possible for him? Does he get there?

AVLON: Yes. This is just like a reality check. Let's say Romney's rosiest scenario he wins everything. It is a total sweep. Not going to happen, but it would take him until May 15th to get the requisite number of delegates.

BURNETT: And that -- just to be clear -- includes winning Alabama, Mississippi, all of those states.

AVLON: Running the table like no one else exists.


AVLON: Just the basic math (INAUDIBLE) takes to May 15th.

BURNETT: OK. All right, let's talk about a more likely scenario, which is he does not win everything.

AVLON: That's right. So here's what we did with this. We took a look -- we said -- he's going to win all but one of the all or nothing states and 50 percent of the proportional delegates. Realistic scenario pretty strong, guess what, still comes up short, comes to around 1,132 in our calculations. That means though he can take undeclared delegates and party leaders, still push them over the top, but this is key. Even with that pretty positive scenario, he doesn't hit the number.

BURNETT: He doesn't hit the number.

AVLON: That's right.

BURNETT: That would go to the convention --

AVLON: No, then he would call in the Republican equivalent of super delegates. Party leaders would say let's get our guy over the top. It's a technicality; let's avoid the chaos of a contested convention.

BURNETT: All right, what's the worst case scenario? Because one thing you just said there was key, which is of the proportional allocations he's winning 50 percent.

AVLON: Right.

BURNETT: He's not been winning 50 percent of a lot of these states.

AVLON: Exactly. Let's say he keeps on winning 40 percent, which is his average. Well if he keeps on winning 40 percent of the proportional delegates to date, he comes in at 1,022 at the end of all of this. That is not enough to get undeclared delegates to put him over the top. That is a path to a contested convention in Tampa. That is a nightmare scenario obviously for the Romney campaign, also the Republican establishment. The point is these are projections. We're getting out front. The point is if you look at the math, if you look at the hard numbers, this is far, far from over.

BURNETT: Well I'll tell you who would be loving that, heavenly -- heavenly dreams about it. Barack Obama. All right, thank you.

All right one person who would be very happy with a long, drawn out primary is Sarah Palin.


SARAH PALIN, FORMER GOVERNOR OF ALASKA: I want to see the process continue. I do believe that competition makes all of our candidates better. Remember, there are five men running for president and I think Barack Obama is the worst choice, is the last choice, so the four in front of him as they duke it out in the arena of ideas and solutions to propose, the more of that, the better.


BURNETT: Well Palin is back in the spotlight this week as the controversial HBO movie "Game Change" is set to hit the airwaves. Now actress Juliann Moore plays the former vice presidential candidate, and well, it is sort of bizarre.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Before I became governor of the great state of Alaska, I was mayor of my hometown.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I guess a small town mayor is sort of like a community organizer except that you have actual responsibilities.



BURNETT: In the movie, Palin is depicted as in over her head. She calls the portrayal a quote, "fact change". John Heilemann of "New York" magazine and Mark Halperin from "TIME" are the co-authors of the book "Game Change". They consult on the movie. They came OUTFRONT tonight and of course I was so happy to see them again I started by asking them their thoughts about last night and Mitt Romney.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Great for Romney in the sense that he entered Super Tuesday the most likely Republican nominee by far.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He leads (ph) as the most likely Republican nominee by far. But he faces now a very treacherous rest of this month. There are five contests; he could easily lose four of them. And if that happens, this becomes unpredictable. I don't think he can stop Mitt Romney from having the most delegates unless you knock him out, but now, that potential is there. It's not likely. Santorum would have to really raise his game, but the potential is there now to embarrass him with this month, beat him in Illinois and then head into the bigger states, maybe with Gingrich at one-on-one, Santorum, Romney. He could lose then, but it's so very unlikely.

BURNETT: Yes, Gingrich gets out say after next week. Hypothetically, what happens?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, well on a one-on-one race things get a lot more interesting. It's still almost impossible for Rick Santorum to get enough delegates to go to the convention with the nomination secured, but it's possible for Rick Santorum in a one-on-one heading through April, May, June, it's possible, I mean theoretically possible that they --


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- him and the combined delegates of the other candidates could deny Romney a majority and then you're talking about one of those crazy journalistic fantasy scenarios of a brokered contested crazy convention and you know we'll all be really happy if that happens.

BURNETT: That's right, it's a journalistic fantasy. Mark let me ask you a question, because you wrote hey, Mitt Romney, there are 10 things you have to do right before Super Tuesday. There were two things on that list that really stood out to me. One is get a better relationship with the media. Your relationship is horrid.

And two is write a memo. Get your campaign to write a memo about why it is inevitable, why your delegate count is inevitable, why we don't have John Avlon giving out six scenarios of how you may or may not get there. Are they going to do that? Are they going to get that done?

MARK HALPERIN, CO-AUTHOR, "GAME CHANGE": They did a little bit of that today and they started to try basically say not what Barack Obama said four years ago, which is I'm going to get -- inexorably going to get a majority. The strongest thing they can say is we're going to have the most and we're going to be at least close to a majority and therefore, if you want to unite the party, if you don't want to have a mess at the convention, get on board now.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The one they're not going to fix though and anytime soon is the media thing.

BURNETT: Yes, no --


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They have a lot more work to get that.

HALPERIN: They're starting to try, but I -- look, I've covered presidential elections since 1988. I have never seen the Press Corps as down on a candidate as the Press Corps at large is on Mitt Romney. And it hurts because every day, he's never given the benefit of the doubt, never. He does things, takes a huge hit that other candidates would get by with.

JOHN HEILEMANN, CO-AUTHOR, "GAME CHANGE": And he will -- it's not -- and this is not a liberal conservative thing. People say the liberal media. The truth is George W. Bush had a great relationship with the media; it really helped him extraordinarily in that race. George, his father, had a great relationship with the media too and having a positive relationship, at least a constructive one with the people who cover you, not just day to day, but the national media, you know, it's a huge thing, it's a huge asset and if you don't have it, it's a huge liability.

HALPERIN: Do you want me to give you an awesome television segue?


HALPERIN: You know what other Republican presidential candidate had a great relationship with the media?

BURNETT: Could it have been John McCain?

HALPERIN: John McCain. In both 2000 and for most of 2008, he really did, so as John said, it's not a Republican thing. It's -- the history of it you could write a PhD on it. Romney has a problem with the media.

BURNETT: And let's talk about John McCain and particularly, about Sarah Palin because obviously we just -- we heard her saying she wants the race to continue. She also said last night -- it's almost as if she likes to toy with the media. It's like the media's a little mouse and she's the cat. Maybe I would get in, in a brokerage situation or something like that. So Sarah Palin you all know covered?

HEILEMANN: Well she's in some ways, gotten more confident you know in terms of the way that she plays with the media. I mean she's always been someone who has cared about her public image --


HEILEMANN: -- whether it was in Alaska and whether it was on the national stage. There was that period of time that's covered in the film "Game Change" where she's just coming to grips with what it means to being a national candidate and the kind of scrutiny you get, but after that, you know she really has -- been brass -- brash and bold in terms of trying to do various things, both in terms of traditional media and in terms of online media, you know to try to keep herself in the public eye as much as possible, even though she holds no elected office and is not running for one currently.

BURNETT: Your book obviously went through her as well as all the other campaigns and it had all kinds of amazing, wonderful, juicy things in it, but the movie that's coming out, there's some controversy that it's too harsh. She's called it fact change instead of "Game Change". But you've obviously seen the movie. You consulted on the movie. Is it a fair representation of what was in the book of what your reporting was?

HALPERIN: It is and we urge anybody who has not seen it, airs on HBO on Saturday 9:00 to watch it. It's factually accurate and I think a lot of people who watch it who are favorably (ph) disposed towards Governor Palin are going to find it to be a pretty favorable portrait, a fair portrait of what she went through. All the things she accomplished in those 60 days on the ticket, the challenges she had as well. We've seen a few screenings with people and uniformly, every screening we've attended people who came in, didn't like Sarah Palin, weren't fans of Sarah Palin, almost every one of them have said to us afterwards you know what, I now understand what she went through more. I have more sympathy for her. I have more appreciation for what she accomplished.

BURNETT: That's interesting, so a little bit more empathy.

HEILEMANN: Most -- much of the controversy to the extent there's been controversy has you know, unfortunately been people criticizing the film having not seen it. And I generally don't think that's a good idea. And I think you know -- I think that is true. People can come to us with a fair mind.

BURNETT: Yes. HEILEMANN: You know you see -- she -- you know -- you see the places where she rose to the occasion and even exceeded any expectation, any reasonable expectation anyone could have had for her. You see areas where she fell short.


HEILEMANN: It is -- it is what happens and what happened is both good and less good.

BURNETT: All right. Hey, good to see you guys again.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Great to see you, Erin. Thanks.


BURNETT: Thank you.



BURNETT: All right the darling of the Republican Party, Marco Rubio, has a very well non hard core Republican stance on immigration -- that's next -- and new details from the Rutgers sex cam suicide. What the accused tried to tell the victim literally right before he took his life.


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

First, breaking news on Iran and its nuclear program. Two Western diplomats tell CNN that satellite images show large trucks and earth moving vehicles at Iran's Parchin military site. It is not clear what is being cleaned up. This is a site that has been denied access to inspectors to the International Atomic Energy Agency. The agency says it continues to have serious concerns regarding possible military dimensions to Iran's nuclear program. Iran earlier this indicated they would allow inspectors into Parchin.

Number two, Daniel Pelaez is a Florida high school valedictorian who faced deportation met with Florida lawmakers today, including Senator Marco Rubio. He told OUTFRONT, quote, "While she has received a two year deferment, her case reminds us that our nation faces a number of challenges created by illegal immigration and by a broken legal immigration system."

Rubio added that, "My hope is to come up with a bipartisan solution to this problem."

Daniela is at the top of her class of 823 students at North Miami Senior High School. Her family came from Colombia 14 years ago, but overstayed their tourist visas. Number three: crude oil prices climbed nearly $1.50 today, closing around $106 per barrel. Gas prices are up 15 percent so far this year with the average $3.76 a gallon, And we actually went through the latest petroleum status report today, gasoline supply is down about 8 percent over the past month compared to a year ago, in part due of the improving economy.

Number four, the private sector added 216,000 jobs in February, half from small businesses. And that definition is of companies fewer than 50 employees. Analysts told OUTFRONT they expect that we will be getting much stronger private number from the Labor Department report out Friday. That's a crucial report. We'll get the latest unemployment rate as well.

Well, it's been 216 days since the United States lost its top credit rating. What are we doing to get it back?

Well, borrowing some money. Data from the Fed showed consumer credit rose by $17.8 billion in January. Most of it from student and auto loans. Key, though, credit card debt actually fell.

Economists say increase borrowing is a sign people are feeling more confident. That's a good thing. But, of course, that is more debt.

Well, the case against former Rutgers student Dharun Ravi took a turn today because prosecutors introduced text messages from Ravi's phone, including one that showed he tried to apologize to his roommate Tyler Clementi just minutes before Clementi took his own life by jumping off the George Washington Bridge in 2010.

Ravi wrote, quote, "I've known you were gay, and I have no problem with it."

Prosecutors say Ravi placed a webcam in his room to spy on Clementi and humiliate him because he was gay. His defense says he was only trying to prevent anyone from stealing his stuff.

Listen to what Ravi says during his police interrogation about invading his roommate's privacy.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have some questions for you. Did you violate this man's privacy?

DHARUN RAVI: Yes, I did.

UNDENTIFIED MALE: You did it deliberately?

RAVI: No, I didn't do it deliberately.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) your text conversation between you and (INAUDIBLE) told police. We did it on purpose.

RAVI: I mean, we looked at the -- UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's up to you. You want to lie to us?


BURNETT: Paul Callan is a former New York City homicide prosecutor who has interrogated dozens of criminal suspects. He's been following this case for you. And you just heard there in that interrogation, Dharun Ravi admits he invaded his roommate's privacy, but not deliberately. But he did admit he invaded the privacy.

And is that enough to convict him? Because I know that alone in New Jersey, as you've said is -- could be five years.

PAUL CALLAN, CNN LEGAL CONTRIBUTOR: It's enough to convict him. If the injury believes he deliberately invaded his privacy and broadcast this on part one of the case, which is invasion of privacy.

This is a classic police interrogation. You've got the homicide detective. He's trying to make it out like he's Ravi's friend and he says, you did it deliberately, you've invaded his privacy, and finally, Ravi agrees with that. So, we have to see if the jury's going to think is this Ravi's story or is he parroting what the police are saying to him?

BURNETT: Right. And when he doesn't get what he wants, are you going to tell me the truth or are you going to lie? I didn't like what you said.

CALLAN: Exactly.

BURNETT: Let's listen a little bit more of this interrogation.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're deliberately lying to us now and telling us, I wasn't spying on my roommate. I'm just watching my valuables. That is an outright lie?

RAVI: OK, I wanted to find out what was happening.


BURNETT: He's by himself, no attorney present. But that is hitting on that one part of this case, that seems to be, really, come on.

CALLAN: Well, it is and it's classic. It always amazes me. Nobody ever asks for an attorney. I mean, he's a college kid, admittedly, but he's an adult. He doesn't ask for an attorney, and the police officer now is saying to him, hey, you are lying to us. And so, Ravi then is changing his story a little bit to get the approval of the police officer.

And, by the way, this is classic police investigation. It goes on all the time. Nothing illegal about this. This is kind of how the police get a story out. But a jury is going to look at it and say, can we rely on this or not because this thing about taping interrogations, it's brand new in the United States. This used to take place behind closed doors.

When I was a prosecutor --


CALLAN: -- I'd go out in the middle of the night and the cops would say all right, the guy's going to give a confession and then bring him out. Now, everything is taped.

So, the jury gets to decide what they can accept and what they should reject.

BURNETT: Now, if Dharun Ravi will come out and say, you know what, I wasn't really looking for someone to steal my stuff. I actually did want to do this. I wanted to look at it and I realize that was a stupid, ridiculous, awful thing to do.

What is that -- what would happen in that scenario?

CALLAN: Still guilty under New Jersey law if he didn't have the right to do it, which is why they go back to the thing, did you know he was invading his privacy? Because the police said this big problem with the case, its' Ravi's own room. Can't he activate a camera in his own room? He can unless he admits to them it's an invasion of privacy and he knew it was an invasion of privacy.

BURNETT: Well, it's pretty clear that watching your roommate have sex when you're in the room would be --

CALLAN: Well, it's bad -- it's clearly uncivilized, bad manners. But is it criminal under New Jersey law? That's what we up to a jury.

BURNETT: The other question is whether Dharun Ravi was biased against homosexuals. He said he was not. Here is the detective as he reads some of Ravi's tweets back to him.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Anyone with iChat, I dare you -- not "please don't" -- not "I'm warning you," I dare you to video chat me between the hours of 9:30 and 12:00. Yes, it's happening again.

RAVI: Obviously, I said it in a sarcastic way first of all, and second of all, I turned off my computer so they wouldn't be able to, or I put it to sleep, so they wouldn't be able to do anything.


BURNETT: What impact will that have? He's saying he turned off the computer.

CALLAN: Well, he did say and there's more later. Of course, we don't have time to hear it all. But Ravi's case sort of crashed and burned on the bias issue this week. There's a lot in the tweets indicating maybe there's antigay bias and that will double the sentence from five to potentially 10 years if the jury believes that, because remember, two-part trial -- invasion of privacy and bias.

So, I think the Ravi case took some serious blows on the bias claims this week.

BURNETT: One final thing, it turns out from the texts that Ravi had texted his friend an apology at 8:42 of the night when his roommate, when Clementi posted, "I'm going to go off the George Washington Bridge."

Detective said to Dharun Ravi, "Your text may have been the last one your roommate saw." Does that influence anything?

CALLAN: I think it does because it's Ravi saying to him, you know, I'm sorry. I wasn't trying to discriminate against you and he does that before he jumps off the bridge.

And it maybe the jury will look at this and say, you know, Tyler Clementi jumped off the bridge for a lot of reasons and maybe it wasn't just what Ravi did to him. So I think in a large sense, this will be a very important piece of evidence for the jury to evaluate.

BURNETT: Paul Callan, thank you.

CALLAN: Nice being with you.

BURNETT: Well, becoming China's -- it's a bad word. Will say it after the break though. It's the name of a new book, a new book on the book shelves, which is how come I can say it and I will after the break.

And another star takes it all off. Everything. Everything, for a magazine. Seriously.


BURNETT: So, it's no secret that China's a super power. You can pick up a newspaper on any given day and you'll read about how China is surging at the expense of the United States. China boasts a $200 billion trade surplus and, of course, the United States has a record nearly $300 billion deficit with China.

This year, China's expected what it sees as anemic economic growth. That's 7.5 percent. Ours is 2.5 and we were kind of happy about it. And, of course, China's the single biggest foreign owner of America's debt.

And while much of our military -- our military is much bigger, all in, China has more ground troops. In fact, they have the largest ground force on the planet and they are dramatically increasing spending as we cut back.

One man cuts through all this noise, saying it all adds up to one question. Are we becoming China's bitch? That's the name of a new book written by Peter Kiernan.

And you don't mince words, becoming China's bitch. I read it, it was good. So, is it a forgone conclusion?

PETER KIERNAN, AUTHOR: There are no foregone conclusions but we really have to focus on our problems. Otherwise, we have a counterparty in China who is incredibly focused on being G1. In the G8, their goal is to be G1.

BURNETT: And, of course, U.S. always wants to be one.

Now, your background, I mean, you worked at Goldman Sachs, you spent a lot of time in Asia. You know this situation.

What should the United States do? It's always seemed to me that you can't stop someone from wanting to be number one.

KIERNAN: You sure can't and I think the right thing to do is embrace it. If you look at -- last year, it was a great thing the General Motors turned around from near death to be the number one car manufacturer in the world. They sold 9 million vehicles. That was a great day for the United State.

But 2.5 million of those vehicles were sold to China. We're in the tango with China.

If you look at Apple, their number two market for iPads is China.

So, we're going to be intertwined for as far as the eye can see.

BURNETT: All right. What do we do? I mean, there's a big fight going on in Congress now about currency. There's all these fights constantly going on about China and trade practices. What could Congress do right now to make Americans feel less threatened?

KIERNAN: What Congress could do is not overreact to one little, this dumping of solar panels, or this -- we are facing a currency manipulator in China. They've been doing it for a long time. They've devalued their currency 50 percent in one day in 1994. We can't redress that.

Since 1994, we've lost 6 million jobs. They've created 10 million. Those jobs are not going to come back overnight. We should patiently develop a broad-based strategy and understand China as well as they understand us.

BURNETT: I mean, are you of the belief of -- some people say, well, look, you can fight China if you want, try to take the jobs back that they have, but then all that's going to happen is Vietnam or Cambodia and everybody else is going to come in and provide those cheap jobs. In other words, those jobs aren't coming back no matter who's out there.

KIERNAN: I'm happy to say, since I'm not running for office, those jobs are not coming back. Those 6 million have been lost. A lot of those skilled trades, those people have not been making that stuff for 10 years or longer.

What we have to do is reframe our relationship with China and trade up, and value added proposition as it relates to manufacturing, and not go for the lowest common denominator.

BURNETT: So, what kinds of things should we be making or doing in the United States?

KIERNAN: Look, I think our genius is in creation and assembling very sophisticated pieces of equipment, and having some of these outsourced to China, where they do sub-assembly.

The other thing we should do is insist that we have a role in their emerging consumer market. It will be the biggest consumer market in the world, and we should have a role, just as General Motors got a role and Apple has. They're going through some issues now with the iPad.

I think all of the American commercial enterprise has to be looking at how do we integrate with China.

BURNETT: How do you deal with the big issue that all companies seem to complain about? They don't like to do it publicly, but they will privately -- which is: we go into China and they make us do a joint venture. We get to sell to those consumers, they steal everything that we know how to do and they go do it themselves and knock us out of business.

KIERNAN: Well, I would say -- I'm with you. That has been the pattern.


KIERNAN: But part of it is when you go in through a negotiation, where your counterparty think about every twist and turn. We're going at it casually. You're going to loose and we've done that time after time across the American corporate sphere.

BURNETT: Do you -- because you come from this with knowing the money side of it so well, do you fear eventual conflict, especially given one crucial thing? Just as one example, the Chinese resources, right? We know they're getting them everywhere and competing with us.

But let's just take the Middle East specifically. They want to be king of the Middle East because they want the crude oil from Iran, Saudi Arabia.

KIERNAN: There's no question. No question about it. I'd say if there's going to be any point of real friction, it's not going to be over currency. It's going to be over oil. Their appetite for oil rivals our own. They're only number one in the world in coal.

Now, Iran's a perfect example. Iran sells 20 percent of its exports right now to China.

BURNETT: Yes. KIERNAN: That's more than the entire E.U. combined. In fact, there are four countries that buy most of Iran's exports: China, India, Japan and Turkey. And they are going to cut back a little to accommodate us, but we can't claim to have the same sort of economic impact embargo if you've got China and India and these other countries providing a backdoor.

And oil is going to be where the real rubber meets the road. It's going to be a very tough decision. We've got to have it.

BURNETT: We certainly do. So, when people talk about sanctions, something that (INAUDIBLE) all too often.

Pete Kiernan, thanks very much.

KIERNAN: Great to be with you.

BURNETT: Good to see you. And, of course, Pete Kiernan used to work with our executive producer, Will Surratt.

And now, let's check in with Anderson Cooper.

Hey, Anderson. What's coming up on "A.C." tonight?

ANDERSON COOPER, HOST, "A.C. 360": Hey, Erin. We're keeping them honest tonight.

New disturbing video coming out of Syria. Smuggled images appear to show men chained to their hospital beds with wounds consistent with torture. Despite the opposition to the Assad regime continues in Syria. Now, the White House and Pentagon are weighing options for military actions. Senator John McCain is continuing to call for air strikes. He will be one our program tonight, in just a few minutes.

Also ahead, a "360" follow, and a shocking story of forced sterilizations right here in the United States. California permitted so many sterilizations, the Nazis in Germany used its program as a model. State is refusing to compensate or even discuss the matter with the surviving victims. We'll talk about that.

We also have a lot of other important stories and the "Ridiculist" at the top of the hour, Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Anderson, see you in a few.

Well, we cover a lot of serious issues on this show, but here's one that's a little bit more serious. Jessica Simpson is on the cover of "Elle" magazine this month. And in the shot, she is well, really naked and yes, she is really pregnant.

Back in October, during our first week of shows, we noticed this strange trend. Naked and pregnant women occupy the cover of magazines a lot. Back then, it was "New York" magazine and Ebony releasing features covering very pregnant and very nude women -- all within a couple of weeks of each other. At the time, we acknowledged it was a tribute to the 1991 Demi Moore "Vanity Fair" cover. But it's a tribute getting a little tired. The Demi cover was more than 20 years ago, and since then, literally, dozens ands dozens of magazines have done the exactly same cover.

Now, we know the magazines are expecting us to be shocked and appalled when a naked woman is on the magazine cover. But at this point, frankly, it's like, wow, there's another naked pregnant lady.

So, what do you say when it comes to magazine covers like this? Let's all just take a pregnant pause. Seriously.

Well, from bumps to humps. You are going to guess what Rick Santorum talked about last night -- a very special animal.

And the new iPad unveiled today. We're going to tell you about a number of its features.


BURNETT: IPad day is finally here. And as expected, Apple unveiled its new tablet in San Francisco. And almost all of the predictions of those Apple adorers were correct. The latest iPad is slightly thicker, slightly heavier than the previous one, and it includes a new retina display. And a camera called the iSight that uses the same optics as the camera in the iPhone 4S.

Now, the one thing predictors got wrong, though, was the name. It's not called the iPad 3 or iPad HD, as some reported. It's just called the new iPad. I'm wondering, does that mean it's the last iPad? Because what do you do when you have a new iPad after the new iPad? Newer iPad? Anyway, just something to think about.

It goes on sale March 16tj, which brings me to tonight's number -- 499. That is the price of the Wi-Fi only version of the new iPad. The most expensive 4G, with 64 gig of storage, $829.

As a comparison, the Amazon Kindle Fire, it's different. You don't get the same thing. It does compete head to head among a lot of consumers retails for just $199.

OK. Well, today is Wednesday. It's hump day. And, you know, there's been quite a few hump days recently where there hasn't been a real hump day.

Rick Santorum decided to make it a special one for us.


BURNETT: Too many hump days without the camel report but it's back.

Last night, it was at the CNN election center for Super Tuesday and I jolted awake when I heard Rick Santorum say this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) RICK SANTORUM (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I've said it almost every stump speech I've given. If it wasn't for one particular issue that to me breaks the camel's back, with respect to liberty in this country, and that is the issue of Obamacare.


BURNETT: Camel? Sure he was using a popular expression. Broke the camel's back to illustrate his frustration with President Obama's policies. But could the use of camel has been an attempt to seem more presidential? Because you may not realize this but there's a proud tradition of members of the U.S. administration hanging with camels all over the world.

Last year, Vice President Joe Biden got up close and personal with some camels in Mongolia.

In 2009, President Obama met some camels while visiting Egypt.

First Lady Jackie Kennedy rode a camel in Pakistan in 1962.

In 1909, Teddy Roosevelt -- see that -- riding camels in the Sudan.

In 1897, this is my favorite, a 23-year-old Herbert Hoover went to work for a mining company in Australia. While he was there, he went back and forth to work every day. He commuted by camel.

And it goes even further than that. In 1787, George Washington, a huge fan of exotic animals, paid 18 shillings to have a camel brought to his house for Christmas. I mean, that's probably got to be like $18 billion in today's dollars, right?

Well, look, we've been a two-party country for a long time and we've got a two animal system. But if you want real change, maybe it's time for something new. Yes, the camel party. It's waiting out there for somebody. Let's see what happens.

Anderson Cooper starts now.