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Diplomacy Window Shrinking; Mitt Romney's Messaging Problems; No Budget, No Pay; Apple Lawsuit

Aired March 14, 2012 - 19:00   ET


ERIN BURNETT, HOST: Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad gets a rare grilling from the country's lawmakers. Are there cracks in the Iranian leadership?

And Defense Secretary Leon Panetta in Afghanistan tonight, a serious breach of security endangered his life today.

And we have dramatic new video of a flight attendant's alarming meltdown. She told passengers that that plane was going to crash. Let's go OUTFRONT.

Good evening, everyone. I'm Erin Burnett. And OUTFRONT tonight, Ahmadinejad on the spot. An unprecedented spectacle in Tehran today, the president summoned before Parliament for the first time since the 1979 Revolution. Conservative Parliament members called Ahmadinejad out on everything from the limping economy, which is a victim of U.S. sanctions, to his public disagreements with the Ayatollah who, of course, is the supreme leader of Iran.

Now Ahmadinejad tried to make jokes, and he made no secret of his disdain for this event, saying, quote, "the fact is that I tried not to attend this session, but I guess it was ordained that I should come, so there was nothing I could do about it." I met him once in person. That sort of seemed the way he might have delivered that, a little nonchalant. All right there's a growing power struggle between Ahmadinejad and the much more conservative Ayatollah Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. President Obama watched today's Tehran action and he used some of his strongest language yet while standing next to the prime minister of America's closest ally.


BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Tehran must understand that it cannot escape or evade the choice before it. Meet your international obligations or face the consequences.


BURNETT: While leaving no room for doubt, the president returned to the subject of Iran 30 minutes later.


OBAMA: The window for solving this issue diplomatically is shrinking. (END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: All right, well, that window, of course, was cracked open last week when the U.S., along with the U.K. and other European allies, agreed to hold talks with Iran. And the question was were there negotiations coupled with sanctions really going to work? Would it halt Iran's suspected progression towards a nuclear weapon?

Well, here's something that is bizarre on that front. Today in Tehran, the issue of nuclear weapons did not even come up when Ahmadinejad faced Parliament's questions, nuclear power program not even on the table. Now of course it is important to say that Iran says its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes only.

New polls though show Americans are losing patience, perhaps a lot of the rhetoric a part of that. Sixty-two percent say they would support Israel taking military action against Iran, and this is crucial, if there is evidence Tehran was building nuclear weapons, 56 percent would support U.S. military action against Iran. Is a weak Ahmadinejad good for the U.S. or not?

Hooman Majd is Iranian American writer, author of "The Ayatollah Begs To Differ". Jamie Rubin is former assistant secretary of state for public affairs. OK, great to have both of you with us. And Hooman let me just ask you this key question about the power struggle that's going on in Iran. We've talked about this for a while, the supreme leader, Ahmadinejad, at odds.


BURNETT: But how bad was this for Ahmadinejad today?

HOOMAN MAJD, AUTHOR, "THE AYATOLLAH BEGS TO DIFFER": Well, it was embarrassing for him that he tried to turn it into something that was not embarrassing. Obviously, with his cracking of the jokes and even saying afterwards that, you know, I could have -- I could have come up with better questions if they'd asked me first. They didn't even ask me very tough questions. But I mean (INAUDIBLE) there's a lot of theater about the whole thing.

But I think it was embarrassing for him. I certainly, from a domestic political standpoint inside Iran, this has been threatened a bunch of times. But every time Parliament has backed off the threat of summoning him which could lead to impeachment. The fact that it went through this time is embarrassing in his last year of office or year and three or four months left in office.

Certainly I think it weakens him a little bit in the eyes of many people. But it also could strengthen him in the eyes of his supporters or people who believe that he is actually better than the hard-liners who are running the country.

BURNETT: But Jamie, this is a key question, though. Because if sanctions are effective, and I know obviously the impact that they have on regular people is a matter of real dispute. A lot of people feel that maybe that's not a good thing. But if they're effective in putting a stranglehold on the country, they may also be effective in pushing more people to support more hard-line conservative elements in the country which would be presumably the opposite of what the U.S. wants.

JAMES RUBIN, FMR. ASST. SECRETARY OF STATE: Well, yes. First of all, we need to remember, and as weird as this is to say, that when it comes to the nuclear weapons issue and the foreign policy of Iran --


RUBIN: -- Ahmadinejad is the moderate. He is more likely than some of the people around the leader, Supreme Leader Khamenei, to be interested in negotiating a solution with the United States. When it comes to your sanctions question, I don't believe that in the end sanctions will cause Iran to give up on a point of principle that is their right to engage in nuclear enrichment. They have suffered great pain as a result of these sanctions. They have suffered great pain in the past as a result of sanctions and war with Iran and Iraq.


RUBIN: And that is not enough pain for them to give up something they regard as a demand from the United States. Let's remember, this regime was created with an anti-American element from its beginning. So to capitulate to the United States is not something I expect to happen. Unfortunately, without going into all the boring details, I think it's unlikely that the Iranians in this current formulation where all the moderates have been eliminated from the Green Revolution, those were the moderates. Ahmadinejad is the last moderate. He's weak now as a result of this humiliation that Iran is going to find the wherewithal to negotiate effectively with the United States.

BURNETT: But yes --


BURNETT: Hooman how does that play out then?

MAJD: No, I agree. I mean first of all, we have to remember that the nuclear issue in Iran is not something that is in dispute among Iranian politicians. All politicians in Iran agree on Iran's stand, which Jamie just quite rightly said is that Iran has to enrich uranium.


BURNETT: It's on the most common bill when you're there, the nuclear symbol --


MAJD: It's just something that is -- and they know it's supported by the people, generally supported by the people, at least Iran's right to enrich uranium is supported by the people, so that's not going to change. It doesn't really matter who the president is. It doesn't matter whether there's a fight going on between the supreme leader's supporters and Ahmadinejad's supporters. I agree with Jamie that certainly Ahmadinejad is much, much more moderate than many of the hard-line conservative leaders in Iran, and he's much more likely and has always been more likely to try to make a deal with the United States.

BURNETT: All right, so are we putting ourselves in a position though by increasing the onerous level of sanctions, which are about to get a whole lot worse --


BURNETT: -- come June that we're going to get the opposite of what the U.S. and the West intends --

MAJD: I think every time you put pressure on Iran, you empower the hard-liners. Every time we put extra pressure on Iran, you empower the hard-liners. I think that's just a fact of Iranian political life. Is that every time Iran says we want to make a deal with America, every Iranian leader whether it was President (INAUDIBLE) before Ahmadinejad somehow America does something, puts extra pressure on Iran, calls it -- puts it in the axis of evil, something like that that makes the hard-liners say see, we told you from the beginning of the revolution --

BURNETT: The Ayatollah said --


BURNETT: -- President Obama by saying this window kind of you know endorsed him and I mean I don't know whether he was trying to help him or hurt him by saying that. I mean, the guy is smart --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well he endorsed the idea of no war on Iran, yes.



RUBIN: Let me jump in here. The president's rhetoric today I think is important and that is --

BURNETT: Is the window getting smaller?

RUBIN: And the phrase or face the consequences. That choice rhetoric is the rhetoric that begins the run-up to the use of force generally in international relations. You have a phrase "serious consequences" in diplomatic parlance means the use of force. I'm not saying the president said that today, but what I think is going on is that the prime minister of Israel came here. And what the president and the prime minister agreed to is let's raise the specter --


RUBIN: -- of possible use of force higher. Let's agree on that even if we disagree on whether we should actually do it because they believe that will increase the chances of a diplomatic outcome. And there may be something to that. It may be possible to negotiate a solution. The problem is the solution will require the kind of concessions on both parts of the United States and the Iranians that I don't see anybody making --


MAJD: I don't think the statement is helpful. I believe that this kind of pressure --

BURNETT: President Obama's statement, yes --

MAJD: Yes, President Obama's statement about basically saying this is your last chance. You know you either do this or the next, as Jamie said, serious consequences, in other words, threatening war again. It doesn't matter whether he means it, whether we're actually going to war or not. The way the Iranians perceive it is you're threatening us. We're not going to buckle even one inch. If we were going to give an inch last week when you were a little bit more about --


MAJD: Now we're not even going to give a millimeter. I think that's something that has been consistent in the Iranian's leadership view of America is that look, you can't trust them. They're constantly threatening us. You can't hold a gun to our head and say OK, this diplomacy has to work in the next two months or three months or four months or else. Take the or else off the table and let's see how diplomacy works. That's their view.

BURNETT: Right. And U.S. view is of course we've tried that for 17 years --

RUBIN: And that's where the problem lies. That the requirements for -- not just the U.S., the West --


RUBIN: -- for Iran to satisfy the International Atomic Energy Agency, they're not even close to meeting. Sometimes they get closer, but then they deny a particular site or they have a particular argument. And that's what I'm worried about is that those minimum requirements don't seem any closer to the surface today than they were years ago.

MAJD: If the window is short, if the window is very short, then it really almost sounds like there isn't going to be a deal because you can't negotiate --

BURNETT: (INAUDIBLE) impression today --

MAJD: -- you cannot negotiate a deal on Iran which we've been working on for the last 10 years. You cannot negotiate it in a period of two or three months. BURNETT: All right, well gentlemen, thank you very much. I will have you both back again.

All right, well Rick Santorum won Mississippi and Alabama. Hey, you've been living on Mars if you don't know that today, but how much longer will the race go? What is Mr. Newt doing tonight?

And Mr. Avlon went to Washington today to find out whether Congress is actually going to get their pay docked if they don't pass a budget. That would mean you know if you did it retroactively 1,000 days of no pay for Congress.

And a multimillion-dollar lawsuit against Apple, did they mislead iPhone buyers?


BURNETT: Santorum's double win in the South last night is now pushing the GOP to the height of confusion. Party leaders and even the Romney campaign are now acknowledging this race is going to go on for another couple of months. There is frenzied talk about pushing Newt out. I don't know how you would push Newt out.

He's a pretty solid guy and whether the Romney camp needs to reshuffle its message ahead of a series of big contests that are coming up in the Midwest which has obviously been a real strong point for Rick Santorum. John Avlon and Reihan Salam and Jamal Simmons are here with us now. There's something about Republicans in a frenzy that I don't know.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It brings out the best in us.

BURNETT: (INAUDIBLE) OK. All right, let's talk about the two big losses last night for Mitt Romney. What does he need to do, I mean in addition to some sort of a message change? Does he need a staffing change? What's he got to do?

JOHN AVLON, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: You know reshuffling senior staff is a dicey game. It can really backfire, but it can also refocus. Here's the thing. He's the management consultant. He really needs to diagnose what's wrong in his organization. And sometimes you can't blame the equipment. Sometimes it comes down to the candidate.

My advice would be to stop trying to play man of the people and instead focus on your core competency. The economy is issue number one. He's the fixer. He's the guy who has the experience to go in and solve the problems. He may not be the best campaigner in the world, but he knows how to be an effective executive.

BURNETT: And he made -- he made a little bit of -- was a snafu last night. Let me just play first what Mitt Romney said last night before the results came in.


MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We're going to win tomorrow. We need your help.



BURNETT: And then here's Mitt Romney's spokesman last night on CNN after the results.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't think anybody expected Mitt to win Alabama or Mississippi.


BURNETT: Except for Mitt.

REIHAN SALAM, COLUMNIST, THE DAILY: Come on. You've got to say you're going to win. You've got to be all in every time, Erin. It's completely crucial.

BURNETT: Yes, OK, I get that.


SALAM: One thing I want --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't know about that, John.

SALAM: One thing that works for Mitt I just want to say is that this hasn't been a momentum race. It has been all about the demographics. He keeps doing well pretty consistently with the same groups, over 100k, senior citizens, so you just slog it out, stay the course. It's going to work --

BURNETT: This has been like an Afghanistan primary. It's just been -- it's been on and on and on, warfare --



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's tribal warfare.

BURNETT: It is tribal warfare, yes.


BURNETT: Jamal --


BURNETT: Yes, go ahead.

JAMAL SIMMONS, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Erin, I think that the problem with Mitt Romney may be something that's tougher for Mitt Romney to fix. It just seems like he's not quite comfortable with himself. And I think people start to smell that on you as a candidate over time. And as what John said a minute ago, I think he's got to go out there and just sort of say to people, listen. You know, I'm kind of a cornball sometimes. And I make funny jokes.

And people don't necessarily think -- you know, and then start talking to them about what it is he wants to do for the country. But if he's not comfortable with his own faults -- and then no one else will be. Remember George Bush? George Bush would flub words and mess things up and he'd come out and say, so what? You know, like now let's talk about the country, and everybody basically gave him a pass on it.

BURNETT: (INAUDIBLE) we got some reporting just coming in from, "TIME" magazine. Alex Auldman (ph) is reporting. This could be really important everyone. Ron -- saying that Ron Paul -- this is a quote from "TIME" -- quote "has sent discreet signals to camp Romney", unquote, suggesting he'd be willing to trade his support in the GOP presidential race. Now, in terms of delegate counts John Avlon that could be really significant.

AVLON: It could be at the end of this. I mean if he's within shouting distance, 1,144 but can't quite get over the hump, any delegate helps. It could be --


AVLON: (INAUDIBLE) Ron Paul delegates, but what a heartbreaker to Ron Paul supporters those intense supporters who have really bought into his specific libertarian philosophy that Mitt Romney doesn't represent.

BURNETT: But maybe that's part of the tradeoff.


BURNETT: I don't know --


BURNETT: No, I mean I'm joking. But I mean something that's really important to Ron Paul that Mitt Romney would publicly espouse.

SALAM: If this meant Rand Paul as the running mate, that would be an enormous deal and it could be a big liability for Mitt Romney in the general election. That's an open question --

BURNETT: (INAUDIBLE) obvious of a deal --


BURNETT: You can't do a deal that that's obvious.

SALAM: No, no, I think that's fair. I think that's fair --

SIMMONS: And I don't know what issue it is that he could pick up. What's he going to come out against the Federal Reserve? I mean that's not going to be Mitt Romney's position.

SALAM: And he's been the --

SIMMONS: Ron Paul is so far away from where Mitt Romney is it's hard to see how they bridge that gap.

BURNETT: Could do a formal balanced budget, you could just adopt some of the spending cuts formally --


BURNETT: -- address the deficit I mean that's possible, right? I mean but --


AVLON: That just reinforces the pander narrative which has been a problem for him.

BURNETT: Right. Well this is -- I mean it's just going to be -- now speaking of pandering, Jamal, I'm doing really well in my brackets, OK.

SIMMONS: Oh, oh --

BURNETT: OK, I'm doing well. I'm two for two and I'm going to go zero for whatever is left because I'm really not good at this. But the president's "final four", I believe, is all swing states -- yes -- Ohio, North Carolina, Kentucky, Missouri. Maybe I'm reading too much into it, Jamal.

SIMMONS: Maybe. It seems like he's got a predilection for these top-seeded schools. You know, I'm from Michigan. I picked Michigan State in my bracket to make it all the way to the finals. So you know, I'm not sure why it is -- he differed from my opinions, but, you know, who knows?

BURNETT: Well I have Southern Mississippi in the "final four".



BURNETT: Oh, you laugh --


BURNETT: Not a swing state --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not a swing state.

BURNETT: No, definitely not -- definitely not a swing state. All right, one final thing I wanted to ask all of you about today, a very specific number coming in from John Hileman (ph) who was on this show recently. The guy knows a lot. So he puts a 99.4 percent chance because he gets very specific that Hillary Clinton runs in 2016. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Wow.

SALAM: I will say that she is not as hated as you might expect by Republican women --

BURNETT: Approval ratings are high, right?


SALAM: Yes, she had high approval ratings but she does better with some of these sort of non-college educated Republicans than you'd think and I also will say that Andrew Cuomo, who is another likely 2016 contender, has taken some big dings in New York State this week from the unions, so who knows?


SIMMONS: I think she'd have to wrestle Cuomo for that nomination. But I think if she got in, she'd be a very formidable candidate.


SIMMONS: -- very well as secretary of state, and I think people would really like her. And you know a lot of women, you know, are really anxious to see that last ceiling broken, so it could happen.

AVLON: Yes, but, I mean, come on guys, this is where like our country needs like, you know has a serious case of ADD, we're in the middle of a presidential race. We do not need to pivot ahead with --

BURNETT: You know what if James Carville were here --


BURNETT: -- he would say John Avlon, that's what being OUTFRONT is all about.



BURNETT: All right --


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) kind of makes sense, John.

BURNETT: OK, thanks to all three of you. Appreciate it, always good to see you.


BURNETT: And John Avlon, as you all may know, took a little trip to Washington on a story that he's been OUTFRONT on. He's been following this proposal called "no budget, no pay", where lawmakers would get their pay docked if they don't pass a budget on time. Now obviously, it's been about 1,000 days since we've had a real budget. So this could be real money and might really push Washington to getting something done. So controversial idea was on the table today, you went in and eavesdropped and what did you hear?

AVLON: Well what we're seeing is that the fact that it's been 1,000 days since Congress has passed a budget has really been kind of a symbol for this divided dysfunctional Congress. So here's a proposal that came forward in a committee hearing to try to force some action for Congress. Let's see what happened.


SEN. DEAN HELLER (R), NEVADA: It is a sad state of affairs that the only way that you can get the United States Congress today to do something is to threaten to take money out of their wallet. But you know that's where we are. We're not doing our jobs. We're not doing our business. And the American people are suffering because of it.

AVLON (voice-over): That was the idea behind an unusual hearing on Capitol Hill today hosted by Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee Chairman Joe Lieberman. It focused on one idea for congressional reform called "no budget, no pay".

REP. JIM COOPER (D), TENNESSEE: It's that simple, no work, no pay.

AVLON: But while the idea does well in the polls, it is proving controversial among members of Congress.

SEN. JOSEPH LIEBERMAN (I), CONNECTICUT: It's actually evidence of how bad things here are in Congress. And that because I agreed to hold this hearing on the "no budget, no pay" proposal, a lot of my colleagues came up and complained to me, why are you doing that?

AVLON: Republican Senator Dean Heller of Nevada introduced the bill in an effort to make Congress work again.

HELLER: I'm not saying that this is the silver bullet --

AVLON (on camera): Right.

HELLER: -- that's going to solve all the problems, but I do believe that it's a step in the right direction.

AVLON (voice-over): Senator Joe Lieberman feels an urgency in getting reforms passed now because it is the Connecticut Independent's last term in Congress.

LIEBERMAN: It's tough medicine to say to Congress, unless you pass a budget on time, you're not going to be paid. But that's about where the public is in its attitude toward Congress because all the other less green, let's hit the mule with a 2 x 4 haven't worked.

AVLON: And this attempt to impose fiscal responsibility and individual accountability in Congress just might help restore America's AAA rating.

COOPER: We lost our credit rating as a nation, so I think an act like this is long overdue.


BURNETT: A lot of Americans would agree. Do you think this will pass?

AVLON: Look it polls very, very well but not surprisingly very unpopular among members of Congress. I can't imagine why. This idea was first proposed by No Labels, a group I helped co-found, but it's really gaining some steam and it's -- you know even though folks in Congress are afraid of the implications, they realize they need to take some action to turn their approval ratings around because when you're already the least popular and least productive Congress in history, not much place to go but down.

BURNETT: Oh, man, all right. John Avlon, thank you very much. It's going to be -- I hope that -- that would be a really, really good move.

All right, well the iPhone personal assistant "SIRI" may want to look for nearby attorneys now that Apple is being sued for false advertising. Did you know that? Have you seen these commercials?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What's the best way to Santa Cruz, California?

SIRI: Here are directions to Santa Cruz.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Where's the best barbecue in Kansas City?



BURNETT: All right, some people say, though, that in real life this isn't really how "SIRI" acts. The man who brought the lawsuit says whenever he asks "SIRI" for directions to a certain place or to locate a store, "SIRI" either did not understand or after a very long wait time responded with the wrong answer. Now maybe some iPhone users can relate, but whether there's a successful legal claim is a totally different question. Miguel Marquez has been looking into this and I guess you've been talking to the lawyers. I'm wondering whether they think they have a case. And we've all you know -- these voice recognition things in a lot of different avenues are really not so great.

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They do not always work perfectly, technology always lets us down, it seems. This was brought by a guy named Frank Fazio (ph) out in Brooklyn. He bought a iPhone 4S as well as hundreds of millions of other people bought those. He bought it in November, used it for a little while and realized it did not live up to the promise of the commercial. One of the commercials listed in the lawsuit is the Rock God (ph) commercial; if you've seen these commercials you know this one very well. Let's watch a little bit of it now.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I've got to get a guitar.

SIRI: I found 12 musical instrument stores.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How do I play "London Calling", "Whole Lotta love"?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: "A B minor ninth" (ph).

SIRI: I found this for you.


MARQUEZ: Mr. Fazio (ph) said it just didn't do that for him. This is a class action lawsuit, though, which means that this firm is bringing it based on his experience. But they are applying it across the board to tens of millions if not hundreds of millions of people who have purchased the iPhone 4S. It's going to be a long time coming before they can do that. The other thing is, you know Apple ads, when you use "SIRI", when you use --


MARQUEZ: -- when you talk to "SIRI" -- well on an iPhone --


MARQUEZ: When you talk to it, when I talk to it, when you talk to it --


MARQUEZ: -- we sound differently. We have different voices, different accents.


MARQUEZ: So it would be very difficult for lawyers to bring a class action lawsuit on this -- on this claim.

BURNETT: One of the things I thought was interesting, someone said Steve Jobs when, you know, when he was dying, (INAUDIBLE) "SIRI" (INAUDIBLE) he was trying to stump her. And he said he could only stump her -- I'm using the word her purposely when he said, so what's your gender? And she goes, hmm, I have not decided or that has not been determined.


BURNETT: So he was glad he could stump her, but it sounds like you don't think this really has a big chance, but --

MARQUEZ: Well it's going to be -- it's a tough road to climb because they have to get the judge to approve a class action lawsuit which means that nationally --


MARQUEZ: -- you could bring it for tens if not hundreds of millions of people who have the phone based on this one claim. And because of the differences in the way that it works. And also Apple, if you look at their ads very carefully, the very last screen of their ads has the words "sequences shortened" on it. So on all of those ads which means Apple is saying --


MARQUEZ: well, the sequences, it may not act as fast. The person who's using it in that commercial may have worked on it for 50 hours, 75 hours, 100 hours. It's not clear that Frank Fazio (ph) or any of the people who may bring this claim have worked on their "SIRI" that much because it does learn after a while, and it may work, you know, down the road, but maybe not right out of the box.

BURNETT: All right. Well, thank you, Miguel.

MARQUEZ: You got it.

BURNETT: There's "SIRI", love it, already like (ph) a personified being.

All right, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta had a close call in Afghanistan today, actually a pretty stunning thing that happened on the runway. How did such a serious breach of security happen?

And dramatic new videotape of a flight attendant's meltdown, when she told passengers that that plane was going to crash.


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 an unprecedented spectacle in Tehran today, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad summoned before Parliament for the first time since the 1979 Revolution. Conservative Parliament members called him out on everything from the limping economy to his public disagreements with the Ayatollah who is the supreme leader of Iran. It comes on the same day President Obama used his strongest language yet on Iran.


OBAMA: Tehran must understand that it cannot escape or evade the choice before it. Meet your international obligations or face the consequences.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BURNETT: The president went on to say that the window for diplomacy is, quote, "shrinking". Former assistant secretary of state James Rubin tells OUTFRONT, the president's choice of words is the kind of rhetoric that begins the run-up to the use of force.

Number two, CNN has obtained new video tonight of that flight attendant's meltdown on an American Airlines flight that included her on the P.A. system saying that the plane would crash. Here it is.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Get out of my way!


BURNETT: Kevin Rich (ph), a passenger on last week's flight, shot the video and says he then helped other passengers restrain the flight attendant. Another passenger told us the flight attendant said she was bipolar and hadn't taken her medication.

Number three, no verdict on the first day of jury deliberations in the Rutgers sex cam spying case. Dharun Ravi faces 15 charges, including bias, intimidation and up to 10 years in prison. Tyler Clementi, a Rutger's freshman, committed suicide after a sexual encounter with another man was watched by Ravi and others.

Number four: the second largest tobacco company in the United States announces it will reduce 10 percent of its workforce over three years. This comes as demand for cigarettes has fallen by 3 million people in the past seven years. Reynolds tells OUTFRONT their latest move is expected to save them $25 million. That raises money.

Of course, the problem is there are so many states that rely on that big tobacco settlement. But if they're successful in getting people to quit smoking, the company should go out of business.

It has been 223 days since the U.S. lost its top credit rating. What are we doing to get it back?

Well, the U.K. gets to keep its AAA rating from Fitch, the ratings agency did, though, lowered its outlook to negative. One of the reasons, the U.K. not downgraded is because Fitch found the government's fiscal plans to be credible, reflecting the strong political commitment and institutional capacity -- something that obviously cannot be said right now about the United States.

Well, tonight, the American soldier who allegedly shot 16 Afghan civilians is in Kuwait awaiting charges. Now, this news came shortly after a security scare at Camp Bastion where Defense Secretary Leon Panetta was arriving on his plane.

CNN's Chris Lawrence has been following the situation closely, and he's OUTFRONT tonight.

And, Chris, can you explain -- I mean, it was sort of shocking to me what happened or almost happened, the breach of security here, to the defense secretary in Afghanistan?

CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Yes, bottom line, Erin, it was an incredible breach of security. What happened was, as Secretary Panetta's plane was landing, there was an Afghan man who worked on that base, stole one of the British forces' trucks, drove it into another British soldier, injuring him, and got through a level of security to get that truck all the way onto the runway, again, as Secretary Panetta was landing.

Now, this man ended up in a ditch, and somehow he caught on fire, tried to run out of the car. The coalition security forces eventually got him down. They put out the fire, although he was burned over probably half his body. And they arrested him and took him in.

When they searched that car, they didn't find any explosives, but still, the secretary's plane had to be diverted after it landed. Just an incredible breach of security.

BURNETT: It truly was. And I know the Marines at the base that met with Secretary Panetta ended up having to disarm. At least the reports have been that that is not necessarily the standard.

Is that in response to the increasing violence recently and the retaliation in Afghanistan, or what?

LAWRENCE: They say no. The Marines walked into the room to hear Secretary Panetta speak. They were told go back outside, leave your weapons outside. That part is unusual. But what officials are telling us is it was not because they thought the Marines were some sort of threat to the secretary. It was that their Afghan counterparts who were also in that room did not have weapons.


LAWRENCE: And they just didn't want the Afghans to feel singled out, that the Marines had guns and they didn't. It's just that the order didn't get passed down the line right. And so they didn't find out until they sat down.

BURNETT: And the accused soldier obviously now in Kuwait, do you know the time frame for when he may be charged?

LAWRENCE: Well, they did a probable cause hearing to make sure they could still keep him detained. I'm told sometimes within the next seven days or so, they'll have another hearing to make sure that they can still him detained. But no word yet on exactly when those charges would come down.

BURNETT: Chris Lawrence, thank you very much.

Well, investigators are trying to determine how and why that shooting massacre in Afghanistan occurred. We are beginning to learn a little bit more about the alleged shooter who, as you heard Chris talking about, is in Kuwait tonight. He's an Army staff sergeant. He served three tours in Iraq. He just went to Afghanistan only in December. Records also show he suffered a head injury. We now know that was in the year 2010. Some people have said that might explain why he killed 16 civilians, but no one knows at this point.

Sean Parnell knows firsthand what it is like to deal with the pressures of war. He served six years in the Army, 16 months in one of the most feared units in Afghanistan, which was patrolling the valleys and capturing insurgents. He has written a best-seller about his experience called "Outlaw Platoon" and is OUTFRONT tonight.

Good to talk to you and appreciate your taking the time.

What -- based on your experience, and you were in high-pressure situation, some of the men that you served with died. Many were very seriously injured. You yourself were injured. Were you surprised when you heard what happened what this soldier did?

SEAN PARNELL, AUTHOR, "OUTLAW PLATOON": No, no, not at all. Counterinsurgency operations is something -- it's one of the most difficult fights to fight in Afghanistan. I mean, you don't know who your enemy is. And the fact is, is that our military has been strapped for the better part of 10 years with year on and year-off deployments.

These guys are absolutely smoked.

BURNETT: And so how -- do you think that there was -- there's been some reports that this soldier may not have been ready to go back, that they may have sort of, you know, fudged the numbers to just go back even though you were injured, even though he shouldn't have. In your experience, did that happen relatively frequently, that guys who should not have been there were sent back?

PARNELL: Well, I mean, like I said before, these year on, year of deployments are really difficult for military families. And get this. The year that soldiers spend at home, most of that time is spent in the field training for their next combat deployment. So these guys, even when they're home and they're supposed to be spending time with their families and their children, they're not spending time with their families and their children. They're training for the next rotation to combat.

So, you know, while it certainly doesn't excuse the horrific acts, I mean, I can certainly see how it would happen.

BURNETT: Sean, I'm curious, we've been talking a lot about PTSD on the program. And Karl Marlantes, you know, who is the Vietnam vet who wrote "Matterhorn," has said all soldiers who come home get some sort of counseling because there's been such a stigma attached to PTSD.

Do you think that would have worked in practice? Would it have worked for you?

PARNELL: Oh, totally. I mean, look. We train in garrison as a collective unit, and then we fight, bleed and die together in combat as a collective unit. And then when soldiers come home, it's like a bomb goes off, and everybody goes 20 different directions. I mean, it's contrary to all of our training.

So what I think needs to happen is we need to make it mandatory, commanders at all levels need to make it mandatory for squads to go to behavioral health centers together so they can process these horrific -- like they can process combat together as a team. Just like how they've been trained.

BURNETT: So, Sean, what about punishment for this soldier? I know there's been talk about the death penalty. If it turns out that PTSD was involved, should that affect his sentence or not?

PARNELL: Well, I think it should be taken into consideration, but I think -- I think if I was advising President Obama, I would say that I think that the investigation needs to be fast and transparent. And I think that does two things. It communicates to the Afghans that we're holding the soldier accountable, but it also communicates to them that we are going to handle it. We are going to handle this soldier.

You know, as far -- I think he should be held accountable for his actions. I think PTSD, the fact that he's been on three combat deployments, should also be taken account. Again, it doesn't excuse it, though.

BURNETT: All right. Well, Sean, thank you very much. Sean Parnell joining us now. His book is so fantastic, "Outlaw Platoon," out right now.

Explosive testimony in the trial of a Florida polo mogul -- the same multimillionaire that adopted his 42-year-old girlfriend as his daughter.

And we could be headed for a brokered Republican convention. Is that the real reason Rick Santorum is surfing on Maria's Beach in Puerto Rico today?


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

And tonight, we begin in Syria where government forces appear to be torturing detained opposition members. This is just one of the many videos showing the torture. And we want to be clear: CNN cannot independently verify the authenticity.

Amnesty International, though, says those being detained are being systematically and routinely tortured, and some of the victims are children. Syrian authorities deny the allegations.

Violence continued today, opposition forces reporting 56 dead.

Arwa Damon is one of the few journalists who has been on the ground in Syria. And I asked her how brutal the torture is.


ARWA DAMON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Erin, torture has been happening inside Syria for decades. The techniques described, quite horrifying. There's one called the tire where a person's body is shoved into a tire there, then beaten, electrocuted, in some cases even sodomized. People left hanging for hours if not for days. Fingernails being pulled out, surgeries without proper anesthetic.

One psychoanalyst who works with Lebanese who were detained in Syrian prisons describes the Syrian regime's tactics as being akin to a machine designed to pulverize people both spiritually and physically -- Erin.


BURNETT: All right. That was Arwa Damon in Beirut. A very disturbing report.

Now to Switzerland, where 22 children and six adults died today when a coach bus crashed in a tunnel in the city of Sion. The bus was on its way back to Belgium where the group had been on skiing trip in Switzerland.

Diana Magnay is covering the story. And I asked her how this crash actually happened.


DIANA MAGNAY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Erin, the bus was so badly mangled, it took rescue workers eight hours to reach the survivors and to get the bodies out. These were schoolchildren age just 11 and 12 years old on their way back to Belgium from a skiing holiday. And it's not clear what happened -- this bus lost control and slammed straight into a tunnel wall on the highway. But it's a mystery as to why the roads were clear.

There was no other vehicle involved. And police say that he was driving within the speed limit. There is three children still in a coma, and six adults died, too, Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much.

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

Anderson, what's coming up on "A.C. 360"?

ANDERSON COOPER, HOST, "A.C. 360": Erin, keeping them honest tonight on the program. I followed a story we've been covering since the beginning. Former governor of Mississippi, Haley Barbour's decision to pardon about 200 criminals in Mississippi. The latest shocking details and the favors, two of the killers received from state officials before the pardons were even granted. We're keeping them honest. And was it self-defense or murder? A teen boy walking home through a Florida neighborhood at dusk, shot and killed by volunteer neighborhood watch captain. Charges against the shooter have not been filed, something that's caused national outrage. Led a lot of people to criticize Florida's self-defense laws. The victim was African- American. The shooter was Caucasian.

Plus, exclusive new video out of Syria showing the atrocities of the Assad regime like we've never seen them before. And we have seen a lot of powerful video that's important for everyone to see.

Those stories and tonight's "Ridiculist" at the top of the hour -- Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Anderson.

Well, an explosive day of testimony in the case against Florida polo mogul John Goodman. Forty-eight-year-old Goodman is accused of DUI manslaughter after he ran a stop sign in his convertible Bentley in 2010 and killed 23-year-old Scott Wilson in a late-night crash. Prosecutors say the multimillionaire founder of the Polo Club International in Palm Beach had been drinking heavily and left the scene of the accident.

Now, part of the reason this case has captured national attention is that Goodman adopted his 42-year-old girlfriend as his daughter in order to protect his $300 million trust if he lost the case.

Paul Callan is a former homicide prosecutor and criminal defense attorney.

All right. This adoption of his 42-year-old girlfriend, to begin with, I don't know, some which is in any case --


BURNETT: Bizarre, a little seedy. But is it -- is this fraudulent? Can you protect your assets in this way?

CALLAN: Well, it's legal. He takes -- he adopts the 42-year-old blonde Heather. And she now, because she's the oldest child, inherits $100 million theoretically that was protected by the trust. He then, from prison, probably can control the $100 million.

Now, is a court going to throw that out and set it aside? There are going to be a lot of lawsuits. You can be sure of that. But on the surface, it's technically legal.

You can adopt your fiancee, and you can -- when she becomes your kid, she gets the trust. That's the law in Florida.


All right. He's facing up to 30 years in prison, though. And what happened was truly horrific. Second day of trial -- we've got obviously a criminal case here, and then you've got a civil case, which is where all the money and financial damages would happen.

A woman testified today, though, a real bombshell, a woman that said he had showed up, knocked on her trailer door when she was completely obliterated after he hit the man he killed. And here's what she said.


LISA PEMBLETON, STATE PROSECUTION WITNESS: I heard a bang on the door. He said, "I really F'ed up."

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He used the word?



PEMBLETON: And that he had been in an end-of-the-world accident.


BURNETT: A minute later, something like 18 drinks. I mean, could her testimony, though, really prove he admitted to her he was in this accident, end-of-world accident?

CALLAN: Prosecutors say she's a key witness in the case because the defense in the case is that some computer glitch caused his car to speed up, causing the accident. He says, I wasn't drunk.

You're not going to believe this defense that was dropped also by attorney Roy Black today. He says that the 18 drinks the police say that he had, he actually had after the accident because he was in such pain, he wandered into a barn owned by a friend, and he started drinking to ease the pain. And that's why he was drunk.

So, talk about a crazy defense in a very, very serious case.

BURNETT: Wow, a very serious case. All right. Well, we're going to be following this one with Paul Callan.

Well, next, is Puerto Rico more important than Delaware? Joe Biden? A number of things you probably didn't know about America's territories.

And why a dancing gopher might be this nation's greatest export.


BURNETT: So Rick Santorum landed in Puerto Rico today. He's planning to spend two days courting voters. Maybe he'll make it to Maria's Beach and surf. The waves there are clean and four feet today, but I'm not sure Rick's a surfer.

Why P.R.? Because the territories really matter. There are five commonwealths and territories that will send delegates to the Republican convention this summer. These reminders of American imperialism has some real sway. Puerto Rico has 23 delegates. Guam, the Virgin Islands, American Samoa and the Northern Marianas have nine each. Romney, of course, won American Samoa last night.

All in, that's 59 delegates sent to the convention by territories where the citizens can actually vote in a general election. Which brings us to tonight's number, 43. That's how many states have fewer total delegates than the territories. So, only California, Texas, New York, Georgia, Pennsylvania, Illinois and Ohio actually have more than 59 delegates.

It's unlikely, but if Mitt Romney is unable to secure the necessary 1,144 delegates, and we go to a brokered convention, those 59 delegates representing people who can actually vote in the popular vote could help put someone over the top. That sure puts the whole issue of rights and statehood back on the table. What do you think? Does America need its territories anymore?

Go to our blog and let us know what you think.

OUTFRONT next, a Cinderella story out of nowhere, President Obama and a gopher.


BURNETT: So President Obama is sitting down for dinner with British Prime Minister David Cameron about now. State dinner is rumored to include appearances by singer John Legend, Richard Branson, Anna Wintour, and Warren Buffett.

Now, the president and his family have spent the entire day hanging out with the British first family. Earlier today, they exchanged gifts, ate traditional British food and drank American wine. They talked a little bit about international affairs, of course, and they talked about playing some table tennis.

And in the middle of it all, the British prime minister made this startling revelation.


DAVID CAMERON, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: We were looking through it last night, Samantha and I, in bed and looking through these guest list and Samantha said, there is my favorite -- the star from my favorite movie is going to be here. I said is it Ben Kingsley from "Gandhi"? No, he's not coming. Is it Peter O'Toole from 'Lawrence of Arabia"? Is he coming? No, it is Chevy Chase from "Caddyshack." That's the great movie.


BURNETT: Caddyshack. When I saw that I was just -- I mean, I was blown away. That is awesome.

For the few people who have not heard of "Caddyshack," the 1980 comedy film, it's about an exclusive golf course that has to do with a rowdy new member and dancing gopher. In addition to Chevy Chase, it stars Ted Knight, Bill Murray and, of course, Rodney Dangerfield.

It's hilarious and I love it. But, you know, this is considered a guy movie. So, I'm always excited to hear when another woman is a fan, particularly one as poised as Samantha Cameron.

The British prime minister's wife went to art school and she worked as a window dresser before taking over as the head of Smithson of Bond Street. She's actually credited with helping turn that company around and she won a "Glamour" magazine award for best accessory designer. For a very long time, she was earning more money than her husband.

Samantha Cameron is not all about business or even politics. She's been quoted as saying, quote, "I know as much about politics as most people and it means nothing to me."

A lot of times the spouses of world leaders don't get their due, but they really should because Samantha Cameron, of course, she's glamorous and she's famous. She's got four kids. She's got a job.

She's also real and fun -- sorta like "Caddyshack's" Lacey Underall. Just have to get that reference in there. Pretty impressive woman there. We love that story.

All right. Well, it's bracketology and let's just lay out how it stands right now. On our show, we have a real heated competition going on. And I will surely get crushed, but as of now I'm two for two, and I went online to our brackets and found out that I'm tied for number one, probably with about a million other people.

But I'm tied for number one. Since that probably is going to be a brief window of about 30 seconds where that happens, I thought I would celebrate tonight. But right now, I'm rooting for California and Vermont. We will se who will win. If they both do, that's four for four and our Surratt, my E.P. Will Surratt, beat that, Surratt.

All right. "ANDERSON COOPER 360" starts right now.