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Afghan Shooting Suspect; Fixing Congress; Poll Numbers; Wrongful Birth Lawsuit

Aired March 12, 2012 - 19:00   ET


ERIN BURNETT, HOST: Breaking news tonight, we have new details about the U.S. soldier in custody for killing 16 Afghan civilians. And then should a hospital be forced to pay the parents of a child born with Down syndrome? A judge's ruling could have huge implications across this country and then the president. His poll numbers have taken a hit and we saw it coming, so let's go OUTFRONT.

Good evening everyone. I'm Erin Burnett. OUTFRONT tonight we have some breaking news. New details are just coming out about the U.S. Army staff sergeant accused of killing 16 Afghan civilian, including nine children. Now this is that house to house rampage that happened yesterday and here is the very latest about the suspect.

We have learned that the staff sergeant is in his 30s and was diagnosed with a traumatic brain injury after a vehicle rollover accident in 2010 in Iraq. He was treated for that and then found fit for duty. He has served several tours in Iraq. This though was his first deployment to Afghanistan. Now, we also know that he's a qualified infantry sniper, which means he's trained to hit to kill at 800 meters.

Investigators say all evidence indicates that the soldier acted alone. He remains in NATO custody tonight and we do have some new details about how the U.S. military learned about the incident and what happened as soon as they found out. Let's get straight to Chris Lawrence at the Pentagon with that and Chris, what more can you tell us?

CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well Erin, one of the biggest tip-offs was when these Afghan villagers actually showed up at the base carrying their wounded saying someone had been shooting at them. Now, before that happened, this soldier apparently left the base, walked out of the gate about 3:00 in the morning. The Afghan security guards who were manning the security gate knew that was not right.

They called their American counterpart. The U.S. military did a head count and figured out that this soldier was the only one missing. They then scrambled a helicopter into the air to start looking for the soldier, but by that time, before the helicopter could locate him, he actually came back into the base, walked in, gave himself up and from what officials are telling us, he invoked his right not to talk about what had happened -- Erin.

BURNETT: And Chris, I'm also curious about the suspect's family. They are living on the base. We are going to be live to that base in just a moment out of Washington state, but what can you tell us about the suspect's family? What we know about his wife and child at this time?

LAWRENCE: Yes, exactly. He's married. He's got a couple of kids. He is about 38 years old. You mentioned that he had done several tours in Iraq. We know that the family was moved to that base over the weekend for their own safety. There is also some procedures being put in place in Afghanistan because there is a worry about other troops and the potential for retaliation. A NATO official says security has been raised across the board at all bases and some individual outposts are doing their own security precautions such as adding guards to guard the barracks at night just in case there is retaliation for this latest attack.

BURNETT: All right Chris, thank you.

Well there are also serious questions about the joint base Lewis- McChord, which is a military base near Seattle, Washington where the suspect was stationed. In December 2010, the "Stars and Stripes" military newspaper said that the military installation had gained a reputation as quote, "the most troubled base in the military".

And just take a look at recent incidents involving joint base Lewis-McChord. In 2010, four soldiers from the base were convicted of killing Afghan civilians for sport as part of a quote "kill squad". Also in 2010, three others suffered public mental breakdowns after they returned from Afghanistan. Two of them were shot to death by police. Again, this is according to the reporting in the "Stars and Stripes" military newspaper. That same year, 12 soldiers on that base committed suicide and on New Year's Day this year, a former soldier from the base is believed to have shot a Washington park ranger to death. CNN's Casey Wian is following the story. He's at the joint base Lewis-McChord tonight and Casey, what are you hearing there?

CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well all those incidents Erin that you just mentioned, just one of the reasons why an Army veteran who was stationed here, I spoke with this morning who now runs actually a coffee shop right outside the base sort of doubles as an advocacy center for soldiers here. He called the joint Lewis-McChord base a rogue base. And one of the things he pointed out is there is an investigation ongoing right now by the inspector general -- excuse me -- the surgeon general of the Army looking into how folks at this base dealt with post-traumatic stress disorder and whether there are allegations out there that some of these soldiers were given diagnoses that were less severe than they should have gotten.

And that was an effort allegedly to save folks money. We also talked to a current soldier here who has -- who is being treated for post-traumatic stress disorder. He spent 13 years in the Army including two tours in Iraq. After his second tour in Iraq he got back and says that he said he needed some help. He told his superiors that. He says they reacted with skepticism and made it very difficult for him to get treatment.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) "JUSTIN", SOLDIER WITH PTSD: The idea that you know, they just didn't care that you know, that I'm asking for help was sort of shocking to me. You know if it was a physical injury you know what they were doing was akin to sticking their finger in the bullet hole and just twisting it.


WIAN: Now, we asked that senior noncommissioned officer about whether he was surprised at the incident that happened over the weekend in Afghanistan and he said actually not because he himself felt and he had other soldiers who felt that they were being asked to go back into combat when they were not ready to do so and perhaps would make a bad decision while they were over there and I do want to stress Erin that we have no idea whether post-traumatic stress disorder was at issue in the shooting over the weekend, but it is something that is definitely a concern here -- Erin.

BURNETT: All right, Casey Wian, thank you very much. And we're going to have much more on post-traumatic stress disorder later on in our program. Did you know that fewer than 40 percent of American soldiers who suffer from it actually get help? By the end of the year, the U.S. Defense Department will have spent a total of $555 billion on the war in Afghanistan. In 2010, the U.S. sent an additional 30,000 troops to the region, the surge at a cost of $36 billion.

Ninety one thousand American troops are still on the ground in Afghanistan. And the human toll is devastating. In terms of U.S. military deaths, there have been more than 1,780 of them since "Operation Enduring Freedom" began. But compare that to the Afghan deaths because just last year alone, 3,021 civilians were killed. Has any of this been worth it? And what happens to the admission in Afghanistan now?

Seth Jones spent years in Afghanistan, recently as senior adviser to the commanding general for U.S. Special Operations. Phil Carter is a former Army officer and former Pentagon official for the Obama administration. Good to have both of you with us. And Seth, let me start with you. What happens from here? Is this something that becomes a turning point if the burning of the Korans was not one?

SETH JONES, RAND CORPORATION: Well I think what's important here, and we've seen it in past cases of civilian casualties, though this one is particularly egregious, is there have to be several things. One is there have to be condolences to the local population (INAUDIBLE) that this was an injustice done to local tribes. And second they have to see justice being done in this case, so that has to be done ideally fairly quickly. The political process we're doing in the U.S. military can be a little prolonged, but I think Afghans have to see that something is moving fairly quickly on the justice front.

BURNETT: Phil, though a big part of the U.S. mission in Afghanistan now and certainly as more and more troops leave was U.S. soldiers or U.S. forces working with Afghans hand in hand, right, side by side. Is that even possible at this point?

PHIL CARTER, FORMER ARMY OFFICER: No, there's a huge trust deficit here and this incident, you know if only this incident were the only thing we had to worry about. There is a trust deficit caused by the burning of the Korans. There's a trust deficit caused by the shooting of the two officers at the ministry of the interior. There's a trust deficit caused by our relationship with Pakistan and we have a much broader problem as we try to develop the Afghan government and its security forces to enable us to transition out and this is just the latest incident.

It's a terrible incident. It's a grievous incident. And I agree with Seth that military justice has to be done here, but this is hardly the only problem that if only -- if anything, this reveals some of the limitations of our current strategy, but it is by no means the only thing we have to worry about.

BURNETT: Seth, one thing that was interesting I know earlier in the day, you were speaking to our producer, you were saying the reaction from the Korans was worse than the reaction of killing of the 16 civilians. What did you mean?

JONES: Well I think the unfortunate reality in Afghanistan is most Afghan villagers have faced about 30 years of warfare, so they've seen children, brothers and sisters and fathers and mothers killed over the past three decades. In a sense, while I don't want to understate how significant this is, this has become a reality for Afghans. The burning of the Koran gets to a religious issue I think that has the potential to be much more national and focus than a very local incident, so I see this as being different in that sense.

BURNETT: And Phil, obviously you served in the Obama administration in the Pentagon, so let me ask you this question. If this doesn't improve, the Obama administration goes back on what the president said today, which is his withdrawal timetable is not affected, but if that were to change, how quickly could they even accelerate it? Right, I mean supposedly the United States is supposed to be out of Afghanistan by the end of 2014. If in the next month he decides to speed that up, could he?

CARTER: The president can speed it up if he wants to, but I think the big issue is going to be what's the relationship that endures. One of the sticking points between the U.S. and Afghanistan has been negotiation of a SOFA, the agreement on the status of forces. This incident and particularly the decision to try him in front of a military court as opposed to an Afghan court is likely going to frustrate any negotiations we have and as we saw in Iraq, that was the end of the mission. And so, if you can't get to a SOFA --


CARTER: -- if you can't figure out the relationship, the relationship ends.

BURNETT: All right well thanks very much to both of you and interesting point obviously in Iraq, it was those issues of whether U.S. troops would be subjected to Iraqi justice. That ended up being the breaking point. We'll see whether that will happen here.

Next OUTFRONT a push to withhold pay from Congress if they don't work. Well I know that you all probably think well that means they're going to get paid zero. We're going to find out whether this will motivate them to get something done.

And President Obama's approval rating has taken a surprise hit. We know why and a couple awarded millions of dollars and the reason for this was their child was born with Down syndrome. What does this mean for other parents?


BURNETT: Today's Congress, the least productive and least popular in recent history. What will it take to turn it around? Well you know what there's an idea out there, what about if they don't get anything done, they don't get paid. Well see this would really be a problem, I think, because it's been more than 1,000 days since the last joint budget resolution, so if you said you don't get paid until you get a budget, that's a heck of a lot of days with no pay.

All right, this is one of the potential reforms though that's going to be receiving a Senate hearing this Wednesday that might really turn the tide in terms of Congress getting things done and being liked perhaps a little bit while they're doing it.

John Avlon is going to be at that hearing and he has a preview for us tonight. All right John, so more than 1,000 days since the last joint budget resolution, no budget, no pay. Maybe they'll get one done.

JOHN AVLON, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Maybe they would. So here's the idea. Basically it's basic. You don't pass a budget on time; you don't get paid on time. And so that's the idea of applying the kind of incentive that it might take the focus the mind of Congress to start doing their job, so that's one of the proposals that's going to be forwarded at this -- the Senate hearing on Wednesday that's going to start trying to take on some congressional forums to maybe change this dysfunctional culture that we've seen in Congress.

BURNETT: And the average salary on Capitol Hill, $174,000 --

AVLON: That's right --

BURNETT: -- right, so it's not -- this is a lot of money.

AVLON: Absolutely and you know you need to change the incentive structure. The incentive system in Congress is all screwed up. This is one way to get it right.

BURNETT: All right, so I would love -- that's a really great idea, a really great idea, OK. Filibuster reform, 100 used in the past two years. I think it's safe to say that would be some sort of a highly expediential increase from history.

AVLON: Yes it would. This might blow your mind. It was -- the filibuster was only used 35 times in the first 50 years of the Congress, so we have seen an expediential increase. And you know the idea of what the filibuster was -- remember the movie "Mr. Smith Goes To Washington"? It's one of my favorites. You've got Jimmy Stewart taking that lone stand of principle, trying to get people's attention? Well now, it's just a routine parliamentary maneuver. It's just done every day, even to stop votes in process, so what you do is just a rules change. Bring it back to the way it was. If you want to filibuster something, you do it on the floor.

BURNETT: OK, I like that one, too, John. What about this? Up or down vote for presidential appointees. Now this has been painful, both Democrats and Republicans --

AVLON: That's right.

BURNETT: They love to do this, just hold up the other guy's appointees. During the financial crisis we didn't have a full Fed and I think that was unpatriotic. So can it change?

AVLON: Well that's what we've got to do. This is part of the Senate's advise and consent. It's a basic rule, but as you said, it's gotten worse every single Congress since really Ronald Reagan to the point we've got over 200 federal appointments right now unfilled. And the federal judgeships, the Fed, the Treasury, et cetera, et cetera. So look give an up or down vote, 90 days to vet a nominee and if you don't get it done, Congress, the guy should be (INAUDIBLE) or down -- should be automatically confirmed. That would be up or down 90 days, a step in the right direction.

BURNETT: All right, all these three things, the way you present them makes so much sense. Well then they've got to pass Congress. So, will it happen?

AVLON: It will if Congress starts feeling the pressure, the popular pressure and start seeing that if they want their approval ratings to improve, maybe it should start taking action. Now all these ideas were part of a proposal reforms that were by a group called No Labels, which full disclosure, I helped to co-found in December of 2010. But now they're being embraced by some members of Congress. You know no budget no pay now has 40 cosponsors from 26 different states, so that's a step in the right direction. The other two are just rules reforms. So the key is if you're frustrated at this dysfunction, this divide in Congress, people need to -- Congressmen need to start hearing from their constituent to take action and start reforming themselves.

BURNETT: All right, well that's exactly what we're going to do here and John of course is going to be at that hearing and he's going to be with us for the next few moments because last week, we told you that despite the good jobs numbers, there were still some economic pitfalls that the president had to focus on and tonight actually it happened very quickly. There are some signs that President Obama is also falling on some of them. A new CBS poll literally out just a couple of moments ago put the president's approval rating at 41 percent. now according to CBS's poll, that's the lowest level ever. And a second poll shows 50 percent of people now strongly disapprove of how the president is handling the economy. That's a nine percent jump in just one month. Now you say well wait a minute, employment is getting better. That's true. Inflation for regular things that we all need to buy like food is getting worse. Wages haven't been going up and gas prices, obviously the biggest sign of inflation, gallon of gas now $3.80, so that's part of the problem.

Let's bring in Reihan Salam and Jamal Simmons along with John Avlon -- all right, great to see all of you.


BURNETT: Jamal, let me give you the first chance to respond to this. The CBS poll saying the highest disapproval rating ever, but also, this economic poll has got to be frustrating for the president, isn't it? I mean he's been seeing jobs created.

JAMAL SIMMONS, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Oh it's got to be very frustrating. Jobs are being created. The economy is starting to pick up. People in other polls are starting to show that they actually feel somewhat better. These polls are a little bit mixed. I mean if you look at, there was a "Wall Street Journal" poll last week that came out that showed something different. The numbers I watch are particularly -- two particular instances. I look at the number where women are with the president and where Latinos are with the president. If you look at those two numbers, they really have predicted the last two presidents to get elected, the last two campaigns. George Bush in 2004, he only lost women by three percentage points and John McCain lost women by 13 percentage points. That's a big difference, so the president has to really watch that women number.

BURNETT: Reihan and obviously he is courting women aggressively. I know that sort of comes out a little strange, but I think everyone knows what I mean. But Reihan, price of gas, interesting now, i.e., inflation, more important than jobs and by the way, it's not gas. It's milk. I mean it is gas. It's milk. It's orange juice. It's everything.

REIHAN SALAM, COLUMNIST, THE DAILY: Yes and it's also partly, you know you have a weaker dollar to encourage exports, but that also means the price of gas seems to be higher relative to your paycheck. Obama's Department of Commerce in 2010 had a fascinating study looking at an average family of four earning $50,000. They're spending about $8,000 on driving, on car payments, on gasoline, on maintenance.

Now, that $8,000, when the gas price goes up significantly, that takes out a really, really big chunk out of your budget. That's actually bigger than taxes for that $50,000 household. That's bigger than medical expenditures for that $50,000 household, so I think that it's pretty understandable why that would have an impact on people's broad perceptions of the economy.

BURNETT: And China -- John and I were talking in the commercial break about this poll from CBS that just came out which is an overall disapproval rating. Is it possible that some of that is linked to actually an area that has been very strong for the president, which is foreign policy?

AVLON: It's possible. I mean, look as you said that's actually been one of the president's strongest suits where he has really conducted a centrist foreign policy. But this sense of storm clouds are on the horizon with Iran, a great deal of uncertainty, in addition -- a greater sort of paying at the pump, people vote their wallets if they're feeling anxiety, that can translate to one of these deep (INAUDIBLE). We need to see if it's a broader poll rather than just an outlier, though.

BURNETT: Yes certainly the headlines like we see out of Afghanistan, just adds to the sense of what are we doing and what's our plan. Jamal, another number that I know you look at, which is non-college educated whites in the polls. Why is that so important to you and what do you see there for the president?

SIMMONS: Well you know, again, the president has never done particularly well with this group of voters. In the 2008 primaries, he lost a lot of those voters to Senator Clinton, when she was running, and again versus John McCain, those weren't the best voters for him when he was running. But again, it's this number of women in particular that really matter for him and he's got to really pay attention to that. He may not be able to make up a lot of ground when it comes to non-educated white men, but with white women, he really can make up more ground. And I think when you saw some of this issue around contraception and the other battles that has been going on for the last month, there are a lot of polls, there's a AP poll, there's the "Washington Journal" poll, that show that he has been making up ground when it comes to women.

BURNETT: And final question to Reihan and John. Tomorrow, talk about making up ground. One -- who knows how it's going to go out, but at least in terms of the polls Mitt Romney has pulled a hell of a comeback in Mississippi and Alabama. I mean he was trailing, and now, it's one or two.

AVLON: Yes and not just Romney, I mean Newt as well. I mean we're seeing the prospect of Newt pulling a triple Lazarus, which is an almost unprecedented political feast (ph) --


AVLON: Biblical hat trick (ph) --


SALAM: I think Mitt Romney's found his voice. I really think Mitt Romney has found his voice and I think that he could pull off a huge upset. I think this would be a very big (INAUDIBLE) huge shot in the arm for his campaign.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If he can win states in the Deep South.

BURNETT: I like that. Triple Lazarus and biblical hat trick, appropriate. All right thanks very much --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: John is on fire --


BURNETT: All right and now to a story that has rocked the medical world and created a fire storm around prenatal testing. A Portland, Oregon couple was awarded $2.9 million in a wrongful birth suit after their daughter was unexpectedly born with Down syndrome. Thirty-four-year-old Debra Levy (ph) and her husband Ariel (ph) were expecting their third child in 2008. Now, because of her age, Levy did prenatal tests and was told she was having a healthy baby. Soon after their daughter's birth though they learned she had abnormalities. They sued Legacy Health Center for botching the prenatal test and said they would have aborted the pregnancy if they knew their child had Down syndrome. Attorney David Miller says this was a case about the future care of Levy's daughter.


DAVID MILLER, ATTORNEY FOR LEVY FAMILY: I think the jury was asked to consider was this medical procedure done negligently and if it was what are the financial consequences to this family. They love this little girl dearly. They have an extended family that provides help every day for this little girl.


BURNETT: Paul Callan is with us, criminal defense attorney and their daughter is now 4, so there is obviously something strange to hear about this. She's 4. They would have aborted, but there are fewer than 10 wrongful birth cases, if I'm correct, in the United States each year. So if they win, the child is now 4 years old. Does this set an incredible precedent?

PAUL CALLAN, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: I think it sets a major precedent. American courts have been very hostile to this theory that if there's a birth of a disabled child that you should get compensation if the doctor made some kind of a mistake in prenatal diagnosis of the fetus. If this sets a precedent that other courts follow, you could have doctor's premiums skyrocketing now as a result of the increased cost that will be shifted to doctors who make mistakes in doing prenatal testing, so it's a big, you know it's an important precedent, but we've seen this coming in courts around the country.

The only thing I wanted to say is you know people would say, well gee, why haven't courts done this in the past? Well they haven't done it in the past because it was sort of thought that you know the birth of a baby, disabled, non-disabled, Down syndrome or normal is a blessing and where do the courts get off saying these people should get -- these parents should get extra money because they have a Down syndrome child --


CALLAN: -- so the courts have been hostile to this theory, but that's changing now.

BURNETT: And obviously, we are seeing more and more older women have children. That's been a big trend you know nationwide, so is that something that's going to play into this? This is going to happen more and more frequently I would imagine because these tests, even when conducted correctly and in this case of course it used the mother's genetic material so it appears to have been a mistake, but even used correctly they are not 100 percent accurate.

CALLAN: Well you're absolutely correct and I think you see the courts following societal trends and of course older mothers are the trend. You know 35, 40 years ago women were in their early 20s when they had children. Now, many are waiting until late 30s, early 40s. Higher risks of Down syndrome and other you know problems. So now they're seeing here if the doctor makes a mistake, he's going to have to pay for it, so doctors are going to be a lot more careful about these tests and I'm betting these tests are going to cost a lot more money if other states follow this precedent.

BURNETT: Well and doctor's insurance goes up and that means one thing goes up, it always seems to go up and that's health care costs.

CALLAN: Absolutely.

BURNETT: All right, Paul Callan, thank you very much. Everyone let us know what you think about this issue on Twitter. We're going to follow this case.

Well a record sitting viral video about an African warlord, but is it actually accomplishing anything? A child that was profiled in that video talks exclusively to CNN and we have that for you. And then a woman escapes from an arranged marriage. She lives in fear, is still fleeing her family, tonight though she comes OUTFRONT.


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.

And first, some new details tonight about the U.S. Army staff sergeant accused of killing 16 civilians in a rampage in an Afghan town yesterday. Staff sergeant is 38 years old and was diagnosed with traumatic brain injury after a vehicle rollover incident in Iraq in 2010. He was treated for that and found fit for duty.

And we reached out to Dr. Gupta who said he's skeptical the injury could cause the suspect to go on a shooting spree. At this time, it is unclear if the suspect was indeed suffering from PTSD not.

Number two, the defense rested today in the Rutgers webcam spy case. The suspect, his name is Dharun Ravi, did not take the stand in his own defense. Ravi is accused of placing a webcam in his dorm room to spy on Tyler Clementi and humiliate him. Clementi committed suicide after learning his sexual encounter with another man was watched by Ravi and others. Closing arguments will begin tomorrow and the jury will then see the case.

Number three, Jerry Sandusky's defense attorney said he could file a motion to dismiss. Our Sara Ganim was actually in court today and she says both sides argued over how much information should be released about the alleged victim. Now, Sandusky's lawyer wants to know the exact date and times at the alleged offenses. The decision is expected soon. The former Penn State coach faces 52 charges related to the sexual abuse of 10 boys.

And number four, the Ford Taurus now at the center of a federal safety investigation. Fourteen drivers have claimed their cars expectedly -- unexpectedly, I'm sorry, sped up. Some drivers saying their cars wouldn't stop even with the brakes applied.

Investigation focuses on 360,000 Ford Tauruses from 2005 to 2006. You might want to give Toyota a call.

It's been 221 days since the U.S. lost its top credit rating. What are we doing to get it back?

Last month's budget deficit was $232 billion dollars. That didn't really help. It puts us on pace for a deficit of $1 trillion plus by the end of the year. That's not going to help us get back to AAA.

But you know what? Here's some sign of hope. Canada lost its AAA and they got it back.

All right. A documentary about a Ugandan warlord which exploded across the Internet last week is now officially the most viral video ever. It's called "Kony 2012," a 29-minute film about the leader of the Lord's Resistance Army. It has viewed more than 100 million times in the past week, even as critics say it is balance and actually partially untrue.

Now, much of the video focus on a young boy named Jacob. He says he was snatched by the army when he was just 12 years old.

And, today, in an inclusive interview, David McKenzie tracked him down in rural Uganda. He's now in his early 20s and he credits the filmmakers for saving his life.


JACOB: Yes like, for me the criticism is unfair because if I am to say it is fair then, that would mean that I would be here, like right now I wouldn't have been able to go to school, you wouldn't be able to talk to me right now because I had no hope in my life. I reached even a point which I say I can even die now because I thought it would be the immediate resolution of my suffering.


BURNETT: Miguel Marquez is following the story.

And, Miguel, this video -- I mean, it's truly stupendous that such a short period of time, a video which frankly is not short, has become the most viral video ever.

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's incredible. I mean, it really took off. It's the fastest growing video reviews online. It beat out -- six days, 150 million views. It beat out Justin Bieber's "Baby." It beat out Lady Gaga's "Bad Romance." It's incredible how fast it's gone.

It's even more incredible because this is a 30-minute video. It's sensitive. It's a difficult subject to watch. The main reason, though, it's emotional.

That young man, Jacob, he -- David McKenzie, our intrepid David McKenzie, tracked him down north of Kampala, the capital of Uganda. And spoke to -- Jacob spoke to the "Tony 2012" filmmaker back in 2003 and it's that heart and soul that he gives it -- this real emotionality.

Here's a little of that video this young man talked about in 2003.


NARRATOR: He told me more about his brother and what he would say to him if he were still alive.

JACOB: I love you, I miss you, so it is better when we meet -- we are not going to meet, but we may meet in heaven. You see? So, it is better I will not talk much. It will start something, because if I saw my brother once again, I don't --


BURNETT: I mean, it's just powerful, obviously. But it's hard to watch, but it's engrossing.

There's a lot of critics, though, who say it didn't tell the fair story. It didn't tell the full story. Ugandan government, you know, called me this weekend saying, well, look, we've been fighting Kony for years. We're certainly not harboring this guy. We chased him out of our country.

What's the truth as you've been able to find?

MARQUEZ: He's not in Uganda anymore and hasn't been there for many years. And that's why the concerns the Ugandan government has. There's been a very tough campaign that the Uganda government has engaged in over the years.

Two things that the Invisible Children, the group that put this video together, they came under fire both for the facts and also for their finances. Today, their CEO came out swinging, telling people in his own voice, right to camera, what he thought of some of those critics.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BEN KEESEY, CEO, INVISIBLE CHILDREN: All you see is the 29- minute movie and then you try to go to our Web site and it doesn't exist because the traffic crashed it, so you're not seeing any information on our programs, you're not understanding that this has been going on for a long time. I think I understand why a lot of people are wondering, is this just some sleek, fly-by-night slack- tivist thing when actually, it's not at all.


MARQUEZ: Now, he claims their books have been opened up online. That they are independently verified, and that at least 80 to 85 percent of their money goes to programs in the field.

BURNETT: So, what about Jacob? I mean, David McKenzie tracked him down. He, of course, was at the time, the boy in this video. Is he aware he's a global sensation? I mean, this literally could be something that truly transforms the person's life.

MARQUEZ: Yes. Well, he is. But here's a couple of amazing things. In the video from 2003, Jacob says that he didn't have a future, wasn't sure that he can even go to school, wanted to be a lawyer. He's actually going to law school now, David McKenzie found out.

He's four hours north of Kampala, in this little town Guro (ph), way up north in Uganda, and he knows that this is going on. He knows that he's this global sensation, but he's a very humble guy. But does not like to even watch the 2012 video because it just brings up too many painful memories.

BURNETT: Miguel, thank you very much.

All right. Well, next, a woman flees an arranged marriage, a forced marriage. And now, she's still living in fear of her life. She comes OUTFRONT to tell her story.

And a massacre in Syria. Women and children stabbed and burned today.


BURNETT: We do this at the same time every night, our "Outer Circle", where we reach out to sources around the world.

And we begin tonight in Syria where opposition activists reported that at least 45 women and children were stabbed and burned to death in a massacre in the city of Homs. It's just terrible to even say that. The slaughter took place hours after U.N. special envoy Kofi Annan met with Syrian president Bashar al-Assad to try to negotiate a cease-fire.

CNN's Arwa Damon is following the story from Beirut, and I asked her a little bit ago how much worse the situation's gotten in Syria.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ARWA DAMON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Erin, it's hard to imagine the situation getting any worse.

Opposition activists are saying that government forces and pro government thugs entered the neighborhood of Karm al Zaytoun, and rounded up a number of Sunni families. They then separated the men from the women. The men were tortured for about two hours, according to a survivor, shot at. Many of them were set on fire, their corpses were.

Many of these images are just too disturbing to broadcast. The children -- some of them had their throats slit. There are also reports that the women were raped before they were killed.

The government is blaming this on armed terrorists gangs, saying they carried out this massacre and are broadcasting the images to try to instigate more action against the Syrian regime -- Erin.


BURNETT: Arwa, thank you. Horrific, horrific images.

Anderson Cooper is going to have much more on Syria next hour -- Anderson.

ANDERSON COOPER, HOST, "A.C. 360": Erin, we're keeping them honest. You said the situation there just continuing to deteriorate. We're going to follow up on these reports of a massacre. At least 45 women and kids killed in a city that's already seen so much death and so destruction.

Remember, there are no resistance fighters there anymore. The so-called free Syrian army has left the area. The Assad regime continues to blame them. They also continue to terrorize the city. They also continue to block any humanitarian aid or medical care.

I spoke earlier about it with U.N. humanitarian chief Valerie Amos, who's just returned from a trip to Syria.


COOPER: We know there are desperately injured people there who are afraid to go to government-run hospitals. There's little medicine. There's been little food getting in. If the Syrian regime refuses to allow the Red Crescent in immediately, to bring in humanitarian supplies, why should anyone believe that a week from now, or two weeks from now, they're going to kind of help you do an assessment of the needs of the people? Won't a lot of the people already be dead?

VALERIE AMOS, U.N. HUMANITARIAN CHIEF: My job is to keep trying. My job is to try as hard as we can to get the help to the people who need it. My job is not to give up.


COOPER: We'll have more of that interview the top of the hour. We'll also talk to a reporter who barely escaped from Homs alive.

Also tonight, a tale of two campaigns: Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich are battling it out in an a alternative to Mitt Romney. Each GOP candidate facing pressure tonight to step down. We're joined by top advisers from both camps tonight on the eve of a couple of important Southern contests.

Those stories and the "Ridiculist," Erin, at the top of the hour.

BURNETT: All right, Anderson. I'll see you in just a few moments.

Well, imagine being punished for wearing a jeans and a T-shirt, or beaten for sharing an innocent kiss with a boy after school.

Sabatina James says it was a reality for her. Violence and abuse escalated to a life threatening situation and it shockingly came from her own parents.

Sabatina grew up in Pakistan, where her family lived under strict, tribal traditions. When her family moved to Austria, 15-year- old Sabatina yearned to be a little bit more Westernized. Her parents were embarrassed by her behavior and sent her back to Pakistan, to Islamic school and set up an arranged marriage.

When she refused that marriage, her father threatened to kill her, saying, "The honor of this family is more important than my life or your life."

So, at the age of 18, Sabatina ran away and has been living on the run for the past 11 years.

Sabatina comes OUTFRONT tonight.

Thank you so much for coming and telling your story.


BURNETT: You obviously have now dedicated your life to helping other women who are going through this. But first, tell us in your words what happened to you.

JAMES: I was born in Pakistan, 1982. And I migrated to Austria when I was 10 years old with my family. I have two brothers and a sister. And my family didn't want me to adjust to Austrian culture, because for them, the Western culture was evil.

But I did love my jeans, I did love my classmates and I couldn't imagine why these people were bad people, you know? Because in my father's view, they were infidels and I did not even drink in the same glass of water when they touched it before, you know? So, I was raised in that kind of circle.

And then I was 16 years old, I went to Pakistan on holiday with my parents and they forced me to marry my cousin over there. Then I refused the marriage. They left me behind in Pakistan and say, you won't come back until you marry him.

So, I was sentenced to a Koranic madrasah there just to set me straight and to -- so that I break up all the Western attitudes and follow the examples of traditional Pakistani woman. And yes, I came back because I had been agreed to a marriage.

BURNETT: What gave you that, at that moment, that courage to literally run away? I mean, you've been living -- you haven't seen your family since, you've been living an assumed identity. What gave you the courage at that moment to run?

JAMES: Actually, it's my faith today. I have converted from Islam to Christianity and it's my whole maturation. I think my new faith tells me to love, and love reaches out to other people.

And this is what I'm doing today. I know what a girl has to suffer when she loses everything and then the people who she loves the most are the one persecuting her. And you have to imagine, we grew up in very sheltered backgrounds and then we have this separation where we do not know how to actually live a life without your family's support. And that's in my situation, people have never heard from forced marriage when I reached out to social services, and it made it very hard for me to actually get help from this social workers and policemen and so on.

And that's why it's so important to actually educate the society about this issue because it's an issue that is everywhere. It's in the U.S. as well. We have a lot of forced marriage cases in America.

BURNETT: We were looking at some of those numbers today -- 3,000 at least and those are people who admit --

JAMES: Yes, yes, yes.

BURNETT: -- as they were forced. As to your point, a lot of women don't admit.


BURNETT: It seems to me sort of akin to domestic violence and that sometimes, these people -- these fathers will follow the daughters and show up. Do you know this girl? Do you know this girl? They keep looking and looking.

JAMES: Yes. But, you know, the difference between domestic violence and unabashed (ph) violence is that in the Western society, the man is the abuser and everybody sees the man as abuser. While in my community, the woman is the one who everybody say is the one -- the one who is committing the crime because she has shamed the society. So, people are not against a woman who is the abuser, but against the woman, you know? So they condemn the women for being like that and not the man. That's the huge difference between domestic violence and unabashed violence.

BURNETT: And I know that you spend your life now trying to help other people. JAMES: Yes.

BURNETT: Tell me about your organization and then also about your life. Have you, what's your life like now in terms of have you married, have you moved on?

JAMES: Yes, my organization, we help women to escape from forced marriage. We find them shelters and even families where they can stay because mostly, this is what they miss. They are mostly families, so we try to find them a new family and we give them legal advice as well. We also reach out to politicians in Germany, and this is where I live today, and educate the society about the issue of forced marriage.

And today, I have police protection in Germany since 2006, and I don't go to any public speeches without police protection, just because of the danger and also because I'm rescuing these girls. You have to imagine that these people are after these girls and me as a convert of Islam who's have left the faith -- I'm even more in danger through that as well, you know?

So, yes, I have this police protection since 2006.

BURNETT: Wow. Sabatina, thank you so much for telling your story. I'm sure a lot of our viewers will have a lot to say on Twitter and on our blog. Please let us know what you think.

Sabatina, thank you.

JAMES: Thank you.

BURNETT: Well, a soldier says superiors made it difficult for him to get treatment for his PTSD. Is America failing its veterans?

The NCAA tournament starts tomorrow and there are a number of things that you might not know about college basketball's big dance. We'll be back.


BURNETT: So, the NCAA tournament kicks off tomorrow. I filled out my bracket. It was a long and painful process.

But I'm not alone. Once again, America has gone bracket crazy. This is sort of stunning.

But the FBI -- and yes, they are involved. We'll tell you why in a second. They estimated about 60 percent of American workers are going to fill out a bracket this year. That means $2.5 million of illegal bets are going to be placed in this year's tournament.

Did you know you are breaking the law? The FBI could be coming after you?

Office brackets are illegal in most jurisdictions. But that's not the only gray area Americans are exploiting. More than 2 million people are expected to watch games online a work, and over the course of the tournament, jobs firm Challenger Gray & Christmas says that means $1 billion is paid to people who did not work for that money because they were lazily watching the game.

At least be like Bob Hand (ph) and take the day off when you want to watch.

OK, that brings us to tonight's number, seven. That's how many OUTFRONT staffers attended schools playing in this year's tournament. Alums of Missouri, Vermont, Michigan and Michigan State, Syracuse, Duke and UNC.

But I picked the Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles as my Cinderella team to get in the Final four and I picked the La Jolla to beat Kentucky in the finals.

All right. According to a study by the Defense Department, one in six returning soldiers shows symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD. Now, this condition often leads to addiction, domestic violence, also to suicide. And yet, this is a stunning number. Less than 40 percent of veterans that exhibit symptoms of PTSD actually seek help, fewer that is.

Mostly, they say, because it makes them seem weak and keep them from getting promotions. Former U.S. Marine Lieutenant Carl Marlantes served in Vietnam. He's an advocate for returning soldiers and the author not just of the bestseller "Matter Horn," but a book called, "What It Is Like to Go to War," which has been given to every member of Congress.

And, last month, he came out to discuss soldiers coping with PTSD.


KARL MARLANTES, AUTHOR, "WHAT IT IS LIKE TO GO TO WAR": We have decent people. We have been trained and brought up to not kill anybody. It's a thou shall not kill. It's a Judeo Christian culture.

Suddenly, you take a 19-year-old and say, now, go ahead and kill. Well, how does a -- how does a kid handle that?


BURNETT: Marlantes has suggested that counseling be mandatory for returning soldiers. That's a big idea and an important one. But there are some smaller things that we could be doing, too. For example, uttering -- adding veterans designations to drivers licenses. That would be relatively easy and it would help veterans get benefits and discounts from stores without have to carry their discharge papers with them.

And more importantly, if they have trouble adjusting to life away from combat and actually engage with police, as just an example, it would be more easy to identify them as a veteran who's returned from war. So, we wanted to ask you tonight, as everyone thinks about this horrific incident which happened in Afghanistan over the weekend -- do you have ideas how our country can better serve the veterans who served us overseas? Please share them with us online, on Twitter, of course, on our blog.

"ANDERSON COOPER 360" is next.