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Interview with Senator Tom Coburn; Oil Speculators; Amish Plain and Simple

Aired April 17, 2012 - 19:00   ET


ERIN BURNETT, HOST: Government waste, tax dollars down the drain, we'll tell you just how much. And President Obama taking on the oil speculators, but does the math add up and an American soldier disappearing from Fort Bragg. Her sister joins us. Let's go OUTFRONT.

Good evening, everyone. I'm Erin Burnett. OUTFRONT tonight pigging (ph) out. There's good news and bad news coming out today from the pig -- I mean, they'll eat anything, won't they? They are sort of cute, but they're pigs and the watch dog group Citizens Against Government Waste -- sorry I'm -- I mean what are those little dirty spots? Something about them is endearing but it is not endearing about lawmakers (INAUDIBLE) pet pig projects.

We got the numbers for fiscal year 2012 and for good measure we brought you know some of these little friends along from the farm. It's probably better than a lot of the things that they usually eat, isn't it? The good news first, pork is down. Since the big push by lawmakers to ban earmarks and appropriations bills we have seen a big improvement on Capitol Hill and we don't say that often.

So we want to emphasize some good news. Something to champion, earmark spending down 80 percent from two years ago. That's the last time the pig report came out. That year there were more than 9,000 earmarks which cost $16.5 billion. This year there's only $3.3 billion of piggy, but that's still too much and to put it in perspective the Buffet tax would have raised only $4.7 billion a year. So, 3.3 matters. Exhibit one you're looking at here, the M1 Abrams tank, taxpayers that means you are shoveling out $255 million to upgrade these tanks.

The big deal, well the Pentagon doesn't even want the upgrades and you know the Pentagon is really upset about all the cuts it is facing, so they actually say they don't need this they probably really mean it. The Army seems to think it can suspend the upgrades for three years, but lawmakers from both parties trying to protect jobs at home thought otherwise. Pork is bipartisan. Next up, $48.5 million for the National Domestic Preparedness Consortium -- the what? Well if you haven't heard of it you are not alone. We had to spend some time looking it up today. It appears it is part of FEMA.

It's a group of university and research centers that take part in anti-terror training programs. The red flag, the $48.5 million you're forking over is more than what the president even requested in the budget for that program. What does Congress know about the NDPC (ph) that the president doesn't? Here's a good one, $5.8 million for the East West Center in Hawaii devoted to improving relations along Pacific nations.

Now according to Citizens Against Government Waste, the East West Center has received 10 earmarks worth a total -- get ready -- this is sort of a bridge to nowhere sort of a thing -- $104 million since 1997. The State Department has actually tried to kill this organization for years but the center is headquartered in Appropriations Chairman Daniel (INAUDIBLE) home state, so it lives. Oink, oink (INAUDIBLE) there you have it, pork barrel spending alive and well.

I never thought I'd get to do that on live television. One senator has made a career out of trying to fight it. Senator Tom Coburn Republican of Oklahoma comes OUTFRONT. Probably thought I had a real pig, huh? Thanks very much for being with us.

Let me just start off with this question about should we be celebrating the 80 percent drop that Citizens Against Government Waste is talking about in terms of the overall spending or are you still incredibly frustrated by some of the examples that we shared there like $255 million for tank upgrades the DOD says they don't even need?

SEN. TOM COBURN (R), OKLAHOMA: Well any dollar that we are spending today knowing that 40 percent of the dollars that we spend we are borrowing is painful for me when I think about my grandkids, so and your grandkids and your kids' kids. We still have a problem that politicians want to get reelected based on sending money back home and for economic development quote (ph) or for making sure a plant does something the military doesn't want to do. And the question Americans ought to ask is how loyal is that for the oath of the Constitution that the supposed senator or member of the House took when they said they were going to do what's best for the country and uphold the Constitution. And I -- it is really frustrating to me, Erin that we continue to spend money we don't have on things we don't absolutely need.

BURNETT: I mean I think that's incredibly frustrating to everyone. I'm curious about one thing though because technically, right, we don't have earmarks anymore. Now the Citizens Against Government Waste says look these things fairly in their point of view count as what would be an earmark. But some in your party, Representative Mike Rogers of Michigan, have said bring the earmarks back. The transparency of knowing what people are trying to get is better than this kind of doing it on the sly and hoping that some government -- Citizens Against Government Waste will ferret it out and find it.

COBURN: Well I would actually disagree with Mike Rogers. The first earmarks were presented to Reagan in a transportation bill in 1982 and he vetoed the bill. It only had eight in it. He said send me a bill with none and they did. And what you can see is you can correlate the increase in spending in Congress with a number of earmarks. As the earmarks rose, the amount of spending rose and the reason that happened is when you put something in a bill you don't care what's in the rest of the bill, you vote for it because you have an earmark in it. And if you don't vote for it the chairman of the Appropriation Committee comes and says you will never get any more earmarks. So what happens is earmarks become the way of the way we grow. Quite frankly there are still tons of earmarks in the bills because we are still funding projects that were started before there was an earmark moratorium.

BURNETT: Aren't there some projects though, I mean you know as an elected person you get elected to go in and fight for your people and earmarks are a way where you fight for your people which is what you are elected to do, right?

COBURN: Well -- sure I don't have anything in terms of fighting, but you have to put it in context. If the country is strangling on the debt what should be your first obligation? Control the spending and eliminate the debt so that your children have an opportunity for the future or is it to continue to send money that we don't have back to states to enhance individuals? I would tell you the real embrace -- the real way to solve the earmark problem is to embrace the Constitution which outlines force of limited government. If you think about it there's a legitimate role for defense needs. There is not a legitimate role to continue to spend money on a defense product that the military does not want.

BURNETT: And believe me we know -- talk about oink, oink -- the military will take what they can get if they really want it, right? They are going to try.


BURNETT: I want to ask you one question here, though. Senate Budget Committee, Kent Conrad unveiled his 2013 budget resolution today. Obviously of course we have the Ryan plan out there, but very important Senator Conrad says he is going to reintroduce Simpson Bowles tomorrow. If it came to a vote, would you vote for it?

COBURN: Yes, I would. But it is not going to come to a vote. It's not even going to come to a vote in committee. It's nothing but a stunt to try to take away the criticism of not having a real discussion about our budget in the Senate. And so Kent Conrad is an honest guy. He's -- what he would really like to do and Harry Reid won't allow him to do, is to put a budget on the floor and let's vote it and Harry will not do that. Violating the U.S. law that -- the Budget Act. He has to do it, but he refuses to do it so it is a stunt. And all it is, is a political stunt to make sure we lessen some of the charge against not having a budget in 1,100 days (ph).

BURNETT: Right. Well I guess I'll take the glass half full and I like hearing someone come out with vehemence and saying I'm going to vote for something that deals with the big crisis in this country, which Simpson Bowles certainly does. Thanks very much to you, Senator Coburn.

OUTFRONT next Mitt Romney claims there is a left wing conspiracy to reelect President Obama. And Herman Cain releases a serious video (INAUDIBLE) Newt Gingrich. And an Amish version of the show "Jersey Shore". Wait a minute. Wait a minute. Oxymoron alert -- we'll be back.


BURNETT: President Obama today taking on oil speculators --


BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We can't afford a situation where speculators artificially manipulate markets by buying up oil, creating the perception of a shortage and driving prices higher only to flip the oil for a quick profit. We can't afford a situation where some speculators can reap millions while millions of American families get the short end of the stick.


BURNETT: If that sounds familiar it's because almost exactly one year ago the president announced a task force to look into the same thing.


OBAMA: The attorney general is putting together a team whose job it is to root out any cases of fraud or manipulation in the oil markets that might affect gas prices and that includes the role of traders and speculators. We are going to make sure that nobody is taking advantage of American consumers for their own short term gain.


BURNETT: Now according to McClatchy newspapers that task force has only met a handful of times. It's never issued a public report. Democratic strategist Jamal Simmons and CNN contributor David Frum join me now from Washington. Obviously just on the sheer math of this lots of issues, surely some issues going on with speculation and also of course as prices go up a lot of Americans with money to put to work end up investing in oil related funds. So a lot of people who are betting on oil aren't doing so with nefarious intents, but Jamal let me ask you about this. The president has a history of blaming oil speculators for rising oil prices. Is this political grandstanding given that it has happened now two years and the task force rarely met?

JAMAL SIMMONS, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: I wouldn't call it grandstanding, but I would say the president is in a very tough political position. Oil prices, gas prices are clearly something that the American public cares about and they want to see something happen. The problem for the president is I spent a few minutes on the phone today with some friends who have been working on Wall Street 10 or 15 years and a lot of them say the same thing, which is that the issue isn't really speculation. It's more Middle East turbulence and the political problems that are happening in the Middle East. So the president can't do very much about that in the short term, but what he can do is get more attention focused on regulating and funding the regulators and focusing on that speculation that does have some impact on those prices. BURNETT: And David, I mean it's true. You got the American public obviously when gas prices go up they blame the president whomever the president may be at that time. George W. Bush actually called for an investigation into speculators when he was president, so blaming the speculators is a bipartisan thing to do. Why is it that the American people though consistently blame the president for gas prices, given what Jamal said? A lot of it is out of the president's hands.

DAVID FRUM, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: A lot of it is out of the president's hands but even more of it is out of the speculators' hands. Look for every speculation there is somebody on both sides of the transaction and nobody ever asks for sympathy for the poor speculator who guesses wrong and lost money, but somebody must -- every one of these transactions somebody must have done, when the president talks in this way if these investigations didn't cost so much we would call them a cheap point. As Jamal said, what speculators are trying to do is to price into a barrel of oil everything that might be known, everything that is feared. We are in a moment of extreme anxiety about the course of the Middle East. If the president wants to bring down the price of oil he can do two things. He can release oil from the strategic oil reserve. he can also have a Middle East policy that has much more clarity about what is going to be done about the threat from Iran. More clarity would be more certainty, which would mean that the froth (ph) would come off of speculation.

BURNETT: The only clarity though that would cause oil prices to go down theoretically would be I'm not going to do anything about Iran which of course he can't say even if that were theoretically to be a path that he would pursue.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Or I did it yesterday.

BURNETT: I did it yesterday and they're not able to do anything back, right.


BURNETT: All right, Jamal (INAUDIBLE) obviously the whole Hilary Rosen targeted Romney for quote "never working a day in her life". I'm talking about Ann Romney of course. One of Mitt Romney's supporters came out for some really controversial comments today. This was pretty bizarre. I wanted to share it. Let's listen to what Michigan's Ted Nugent had to say at an NRA meeting over the weekend. Here he is.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If Barack Obama becomes the president in November again I will either be dead or in jail by this time next year. If you can't go home and get everybody in your lives to clean house in this vial, evil America hating administration I don't even know what you're made out of and if you are taking offense at that, tough. Our president and attorney general, our vice president, Hillary Clinton, they're criminals. They're criminals. (END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: Obviously Jamal, Mitt Romney has talked fondly of meeting Ted Nugent. Today he said he doesn't want to tolerate any negative language, but does he need to do more or is this going to be damage for him down the line?

SIMMONS: He's got to speak out. I take a little bit of issue with the idea that you would compare to Ted Nugent to Hilary Rosen. I think what she said is probably not that bad. I would definitely say though I can compare Ted Nugent to Bill Maher. I mean Bill Maher is an entertainer. Ted Nugent is an entertainer and what they say while it doesn't have a lot of impact necessarily in the political sphere it does -- it is coarse and it is vial and it's -- sometimes it's the kind of thing that most people don't really want to hear out of people when they are talking about our national leaders.

BURNETT: That's a fair point. (INAUDIBLE) matter what your role is when you say something awful the person on your side of things should call it out as being unacceptable. Well thanks to both of you.

SIMMONS: Absolutely.

BURNETT: And also today -- I want to tell you guys something though. This is Herman Cain, you know (INAUDIBLE) endorsement of Newt Gingrich -- I don't know, David, if you knew that. I'm saying he quote "no longer has a shot". But of course Newt is still running. The announcement comes about three months after Cain enthusiastically endorsed Mr. Gingrich. He has now thrown his full support behind Mitt Romney. Now Mr. Cain has appeared on this show a few times. We took his 9-9'9 plan pretty seriously even when he sang songs about pizza.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE, SINGING: Imagine there's no pizza. I couldn't if I try eating only tacos or Kentucky Fried.


BURNETT: He does have a really good voice. Of course things got weirder. Humor took a darker turn. His campaign manager blew smoke, Cain murdered (ph) a goldfish and his staff launched a rabbit into the air and shot it.




BURNETT: Maybe Newt the zoo lover was --


BURNETT: Yes -- whoa -- sick of Cain anyway. And just last week Herman Cain released this video featuring a bunch of chickens slaughtering and devouring (ph) a farmer. So David, you think Mitt Romney is going to embrace Mr. Cain talking about sort of interesting people who turn out in support of you. I mean you know there is that dog on the roof incident. Maybe --

FRUM: I think Mitt Romney is really waiting to develop those little muscles on either side of the smile line on his face to sort of freeze the expression of delight. You know I mean just -- Donald Trump, Herman Cain, yes, Ted Nugent and you just have to keep smiling. And keep smiling in the knowledge that there is no controlling what these people are going to do in the next 20 minutes that will horribly embarrass and humiliate you. And I think that this may be the week where with the nomination locked up where Mitt Romney begins to exert some discipline on a party that has been very undisciplined these past three years.

BURNETT: You know maybe, Jamal, Mitt Romney will be seriously inspired by some of those ads. You know as ridiculous and outrageous as they are, if he had 1/100th of the bizarreness it would really loosen him up you know, a little dancing by Mitt maybe.

SIMMONS: Yes. I don't know if that's something that we want to see just yet. I just saw Kevin Madden walking out of here a few minutes ago. I don't think he would advise him to dance.

BURNETT: I don't know what it will be, but if he does it might make him more endearing. All right thanks guys.

Well Israeli defense minister says a preemptive attack against Iran is still on the table. And "Jersey Shore" goes Amish -- yes, as we said oxymoron alert. We get to the bottom of it next.


BURNETT: Well the lives of the Amish are a mystery to many of us, even though the community's lifestyle hasn't changed much since the 18th century. The Amish still drive horse and buggy. They still don't use electricity, telephones or cars and many don't educate their children past 14. But some have left the lifestyle but for reasons that could surprise you.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The main reason I left the Amish was to have more freedom and more education. Leaving the Amish was the only option I had to get my education.


So does leaving the faith to do whatever you are going to do, knock back a few beers, cage fight, all these things happen. That's why we said it's sort of "Jersey Shore" for Amish in a certain way. Daniel Laikind is director and creator and executive producer of "Amish: Out Of Order". The new series premieres tonight on NATGO (ph), which premiers at 10:00. So let me just ask you why is the reason -- why do these kids and obviously still -- still a kid, why do they leave? DANIEL LAIKIND, CREATOR, "AMISH: OUT OF ORDER": You know everyone chooses to leave the Amish for different reasons. And I have to say leaving the Amish faith is a decision that is so scary that none of us can really put ourselves in their shoes. For me when I was their age the choice was what college do I want to go to, do I want to leave home. For them they are choosing to leave the only lifestyle they've ever known. So each person has their own decision, sometimes it's problems at home, sometimes it's to pursue education. So everyone has their own unique choice and we really see over the course of the series why they make those choices.

BURNETT: It's so interesting when we talk about whether you are in the Muslim faith or your evangelical whatever you are there's people who identify themselves as that but don't obey all the quote unquote "tenets of the faith". So some of these kids they leave and they drink or they're using electricity. They're doing all kinds of things that are -- that are supposedly just not Amish. So are they still Amish?

LAIKIND: Well one of the big misconceptions about being Amish in general is that everyone follows the same set of rules. And it's so interesting; there aren't the same set of rules for every Amish person. There are people who identify as Amish who use cell phones. So not -- there is no Amish person who will leave the Amish faith who will look at a car and say what's that big metal animal, it just doesn't happen. They all come out with a different set of lifestyle.


LAIKIND: What we do in the show in "Amish: Out of Order" is we follow a group of people who have left but they have come to one town. Because when you leave --

BURNETT: You said Michigan right? They go --

LAIKIND: It's actually in Missouri.

BURNETT: Missouri, OK.

LAIKIND: Because when you leave you leave everything you know because their community is all tied up in one, their religion, their school, their parents, it's all one world. So when they leave even if they are from Michigan or from Pennsylvania or Ohio they don't know anything. So they come to one town in Missouri where they sort of have formed this new community where they live together and try to find their place in the world.

BURNETT: Wow and you have been profiling them for more than a decade as you said --


BURNETT: -- you are an upper Westside Manhattan guy.

LAIKIND: Upper East side please. That's like you know East side, West side we don't get -- BURNETT: Oh that's -- all right, all right -- OK, I could say something there, OK, but bottom line, what got you into this?

LAIKIND: You know I made a film called "Devil's Playground" when I was younger and then I made a TV series called "Amish In The City" and then this new series which is for National Geographic Channel which again premieres tonight --


LAIKIND: -- is really in a lot of ways the sort of culmination of a lot of stuff because its not about rhomspringa (ph). Most people learn their Amish knowledge from one of our films or from witness.


LAIKIND: But it's not about rhomspringa (ph). It's not about any of these things from the past. And it doesn't treat the Amish as a punch line. It doesn't treat them as a -- as sort of hidden and strange world.


LAIKIND: Every episode not only takes -- shows what these kids are going through, but it also takes an area of Amish culture and shows you what it really is. Why do the Amish shun kids who leave? Why don't they use electricity? Why do they get together and build barns? And how do these kids who are going through this identity crisis of leaving their faith, how do they find their place in the world?


LAIKIND: So it's really a special show that tries to do stuff that I don't think you can see other places on television, so it's something that we're really proud of.

BURNETT: Well thank you very much for sharing a little bit of it with us.

LAIKIND: Thanks for taking the time.

BURNETT: And the Israeli defense minister says a preemptive strike against Iran is possible. We'll get to the bottom of that in a moment. And a soldier vanished from Fort Bragg over the weekend. Her sister OUTFRONT.


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

Up first, watchdog group Citizens Against Government Waste released their pig book, which tracks pork barrel spending. The number of earmarks declined since Congress put a moratorium on them, but we are still spending $3.3 billion on pork. And while these little guys may look cute, pork does not when it comes to Washington.

Senator Tom Coburn is Republican of Oklahoma. He came OUTFRONT earlier and talked about the waste and he said we are facing a budget crisis, we shouldn't have any of that spending. He also reacted to news that Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad will reintroduce the Simpson-Bowles deficit reduction proposal tomorrow.

Here he is.


SEN. TOM COBURN (R), OKLAHOMA: It's nothing but a stunt to try to takeaway the criticism of not having a real discussion about our budget in the Senate. And so, Kent Conrad is an honest guy. He's -- what he would really like to do and Harry Reid would like to do, is to put a budget on the floor and let's vote it. And Harry will not do that, violating the U.S. law, the Budget Act. He has to do it but he refuses to do it.

So, it's a stunt. And all it is a political stunt to make sure we lessen some of the charge.


BURNETT: He said he would vote for it, though, he said if it really did come to pass.

Number two: as many as 21 prostitutes went to a hotel in Colombia with Secret Service agents and military personnel. The increased number came from Senator Susan Collins who spoke with Secret Service Director Mark Sullivan.

Sources tell us 11 Secret Service agents have lost security clearances. And as many as 10 military personnel have been linked to the sex scandal.

Number three: Warren Buffett announced late today that he's been diagnosed with nonlife-threatening prostate cancer. The news comes on the same day that researchers have said they found a new way to treat prostate cancer. The procedure involves hitting tumors with highly focused sound wave.

The study claims nine out of 10 patients are cured a year after treatment with no apparent side effects.

Now, we spoke to our medical unit. They say the study is still in its infancy, saying a lot more testing needs to be done before any of the findings and certainly the side effect statements can be confirmed.

Prostate cancer, though, will kill more than 28,000 Americans this year.

Number four: Argentina and Spain are in a fierce battle over an oil company. Argentineans are taking a whole lot of fights lately. You know, first it was Britain, the Falklands, now, Spain. Government close to passing legislation that would nationalize the country's oil and gas company known as YPF. The Spanish companies controlled it since 1999. Argentina says, hey, we're reclaiming the oil company because of national interest. But you know what, truth is YPF is about $18.3 billion in value. And a recent study shows Argentina ranks third in the world in reserves. So, it wants a piece of their own pie.

It's been 257 days since the U.S. lost its top credit rating. What are we doing to get it back?

Today, apparently good day for the markets, there's a little bit of positive news. Major indexes with the best daily gain in a month. The Dow up 194 points.

Just three days after renewed negotiations between the West and Iran over its nuclear program, the Israel defense minister emphasized his country has never promised that it won't attack Iran's nuclear facilities. In an interview with Israeli army radio, Ehud Barak also appeared to throw cold water on the negotiations themselves, saying, quote, "I do not believe the efforts of the international community to stop Iran's nuclear program will bear fruit."

I spoke with David Sanger, the chief Washington correspondent for "The New York Times" and asked what kind of effect these comments have on the negotiation process.


DAVID SANGER, CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, NEW YORK TIMES: The comments you heard today are an effort by the Israelis to make sure that these talks don't drag on and that they can happen in a fairly brisk way so that Israel would know by the summer or a little thereafter whether or not there is really a negotiated solution here. Their big fear is that both the Iranians and President Obama have an interest in having these talks drag on through much of the year. The Iranians because they think it would put off an attack. President Obama because he doesn't want to get into a confrontation that could raise oil prices and gasoline prices between now ands the election.

BURNETT: What's interesting is that it seems like Iran was trying to say, look, why don't you lift sanctions, United States, it went so well last week, which sort of seemed shocking after all of this and there being no takeaway other than that people were -- agreed that they would talk again.

SANGER: Right. And when you talk to the administration about the lifting of sanctions, the timing of this kind of action for action is the great diplomatic dance here. So the U.S. has a very gradated list of, you know, what kind of sanctions they could either lift or just not put in place when sanctions are supposed to kick in in a deeper way this summer.

I don't think that's going to be satisfactory to the Iranians who want everything lifted right away. BURNETT: And Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Iranian president, of course, spoke today. It was army day. He had a big audience. There was a lot of pomp and circumstance.

And then he said and you can see him there with the sunglasses on and I quote, "If any aggression is made against the Iranian territory, interest and dignity, the nation and armed forces will make the enemies regret it deeply."

Now, this is the sort of rhetoric I know, David, we've come to expect from him, always saying if aggression is made towards us, if threats are made to us, if we are attacked, you know, never that Iran would take the first step. But what defines to Iran aggression, threats or attack?

SANGER: That's a very good question because to listen to him you would think he was speaking only of say an Israeli bombing raid against their nuclear facilities. It's not clear what their reaction has been to these lesser kind of attacks that we have seen.


SANGER: It's not clear what their reaction has been to this lesser kind of attacks that we've seen.

BURNETT: Like the scientist murders and things like that.

SANGER: That's right. And you saw some accusations from the United States that Iran tried to use the Quds force to put together a plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to the United States, taken on all their actions around the world.

So, you know, those are more like the old Cold War small actions that you try to contain. It's not clear what he is talking about that would trigger a bigger Iranian reaction.

BURNETT: David, President Obama has also talked repeatedly about the word containment on his side of things and he said Iran is not a situation that could ever be contained. What does he mean by that? I mean, what options does that leave open? And why he is so careful to use that word?

SANGER: You know, Erin, this was probably the most important thing that happened last month when Prime Minister Netanyahu came to visit President Obama. Until that time, President Obama had never said whether or not he thought that a nuclear Iran could be contained. Many people, including some in his administration, think perhaps it could be that if they ever actually got the bomb, that was their objective, then just as the United States managed to contain the Soviet Union for half a century, it could, in fact, contain Iran.

The president came to a conclusion after a fair bit of debate with his staff that the big risk if Iran got a weapon is that the rest of the neighbors in the region would get their weapon next, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, maybe Egypt. The list goes on. And, thus, he came to the conclusion that if Iran was allowed to get a bomb, it would do the reverse of what he is trying to do which is bring the number of countries with nuclear weapons down to zero.


BURNETT: All right. And now a human smuggling operation from Mexico to the United States. It has ended in multiple deaths.

And police say a 15-year-old boy is responsible for the tragedy. He's been accused of murder.

Ed Lavandera went OUTFRONT to the story in Texas.


ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A 15-year-old boy holds a tissue and cries through his first appearance in a south Texas courtroom. The boy's name hasn't been officially released because he is a juvenile, but he faces very grownup criminal charges. Nine counts of murder, 17 counts of smuggling illegal immigrants into the United States. The district attorney in Hidalgo County, Texas, wants to try him as an adult.

RENE GUERRA, HIDALGO COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY: I don't care who he is or how old they are. They need to be prosecuted.

LAVANDERA: Last week, authorities say the teenage boy was driving this van with 16 illegal immigrants inside trying to speed away from border patrol agents when he lost control of the van.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Kind of fish tailed and couldn't control after that.

LAVANDERA: Sergio Hernandez was driving along side and watched it crash.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The doors from the back of the van was open. That's when, you know, all those bodies were just pretty much flying in the air and they started just landing everywhere.

LAVANDERA: In all, nine illegal immigrants were thrown from the van and killed. Seven others were injured, some critically. Federal authorities also arrested six adults connected with the human smuggling operation. Federal officials say the van picked up the illegal immigrants from a stash house not from the accident scene.

Authorities say the teenage boy says he was coerced into smuggling the immigrants, told his family would be killed if he didn't drive them past a border patrol check point.

But south Texas officials aren't buying it at all.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, we have not found evidence as far as him being coerced or his family being threatened.


BURNETT: And, Ed, just amazing to see this, this sort -- the image there of his hands as he was crying. Do you know anything about how this kid got caught up in this smuggling operation?

LAVANDERA: Well, it's interesting. We've read a six-page criminal complaint that federal authorities have filed. In that complaint, there is talk that an older -- one of the adults who was arrested perhaps recruited him and that one of the adults was offered to drive this car and be paid $40 per person. That person didn't want to do it and then recruited this teenager.

But all of this is early information at this point. But, clearly, this young man is saying that he felt threatened and that felt that he had to do this to protect his family. But that is an argument that is not sitting well with south Texas officials and federal officials who just don't buy that story right now.

BURNETT: Right. And, obviously, they are saying it doesn't matter what age he is, he should face a full brunt and repercussions of his actions.

Is there any talk of leniency given his age or does that appear to be of the table?

LAVANDERA: Well, that was one of the questions we asked. You know, I think what struck me when I heard about this story and you have a 15-year-old person nine counts of murder, 17 counts of human struggling. These are extremely serious and hefty charges. They want to try him as an adult.

We asked the district attorney down there if he had any hesitation in filing these severe charges against this teenager, a kid in all sense.

And this is what he told, he said, "I'll go after anyone putting others at risk. They need to be put away. They put their community in danger. They can kill you in a second. No special treatment for these low lives. I don't care about their age."

And I spoke with another immigration attorney down there in south Texas who said, the tide seems to be turning, that a lot of these people hearing of kids caught up in these situations aren't getting a whole lot of sympathy these days.

BURNETT: All right. Ed Lavandera, thank you very much. (INAUDIBLE) to get that story in Texas.

Next, details about Pippa Middleton's wild life. It continues to come out.

And the latest about the soldier who vanished from Fort Bragg. Her sister OUTFRONT.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BURNETT: So baseball season is in full swing. What better time to discuss the part of the game that doesn't get, you know, a lot of attention all the time. Sports memorabilia, many, many billions of dollars industry. The historic jerseys, bats, balls regularly sell for thousand and there's a huge baseball auction around the corner.

On April 28th, the Ted Williams collection will be auctioned off at Fenway Park in Boston. It has 700 items. The ball player's 1949 MVP awards, silver slugger award, a baseball personalized by Babe Ruth. Pre-bidding continues online until April 26th, at 11:00 p.m.

Which brings us to tonight's number, $140,000. This is pretty cool. That is the current bid on this baseball. This is pretty amazing. It says opening at Fenway Park. I mean, it's all scratched (ph) and it's 100 years old. It was the first ball ever pitched during a professional baseball game at Fenway Park.

When all is said and done, Hunt Auctions expected this ball to sell for a quarter million dollars. That's a big number. But it still shy of the $3 million paid for Mark McGwire's 70th home run ball. Maybe this 100-year baseball was not juiced.

And now to the other circle where we reach out to sources around the world.

To Bahrain, first, we have reports from Amnesty International says human rights abuses there are not stopping. That's where we find our Fred Pleitgen and we asked him how the government is reacting to the report.


FRED PLEITGEN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Erin, Bahrain's government denies a lot of the findings of the Amnesty International report. Now, remember what the report says that a lot of the reforms that were carried out here were half hearted and the security forces are still randomly detaining people, that people are being beat while they are in detention.

The Bahraini government says it's already instigated a lot of reforms of its police force for instance that they're receiving extra training, that people are not being put in jail randomly anymore. However, they're also saying that a lot of the reforms that they have to start simply take time because they have to go through their parliament. It takes time to implement them.

And for instance, if you look at the police force, it simply takes a lot of time to train that many police officers. That, of course, for the opposition, for human rights groups, is not enough. They say more needs to be done. And they say a lot of the protests here have very, very real grievances behind them -- Erin.


BURNETT: All right. Thanks very much, Fred. And now to Paris where Kate Middleton's younger sister was caught on camera with a man brandishing what might have been a fake gun. But now we're finding she was at a dress costume party as well, some sort of a kinky party apparently.

Our own Matthew Chance is in London. We asked him how the family is reacting to this.


MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Erin, they must be horrified. Officially, of course, Pippa is not a member of the royal family. Buckingham Palace is refusing to comment on her.

But the fact is she is the sister of Kate, Prince Williams' wife and the future queen of England and her conduct does reflect on the royals whether they like it or not.

Check out the raunchy costume bash she attended in Paris at the weekend. Droves of burlesque dancers, kinky masks.

And then there was, of course, this gun incident -- one of her wealthy pals here waving a pistol at a photographer as they drove through Paris. It may have been a toy gun, who knows? The queen is unlikely to have been amused -- Erin.


BURNETT: Thank you.

And now, let's check in with Anderson.

What's coming up on "A.C. 360," sir?

ANDERSON COOPER, HOST, "A.C. 360": Hey, Erin. We've got breaking news tonight on the program. Warren Buffett battling cancer. As you know, the household name and investing guru has stage one prostate cancer. His reaction to the news and how he plans to fight it, ahead.

We're going to speak with the chief medical officer and executive vice president of the American Cancer Society.

Also, keeping them honest on the program -- politicians forcing votes on bills they know has no chance on passing in Congress may precisely because of that. Tonight, gas prices and the so-called Buffett bill, two highly charged issues taking center piece in the political theater of election year politics.

I'll speak with a senator who went against his own party, against the Democrats, and the president.

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

BURNETT: All right. Anderson, looking forward to it. Now, a 23-year-old Army soldier from Fort Bragg in North Carolina is missing tonight. Police say she could be in danger.


GAVIN MACROBERTS, PUBLIC INFORMATION OFFICER, FAYETTEVILLE POLICE DEPT.: At this point in time we received information during the course of our investigation that she might be in danger. And we are asking anybody with any information to come forward and show that information with detectives so that we can find her and help bring her home to her family.


BURNETT: Private First Class Kelli Bordeaux has been missing since early Saturday morning. She was last seen leaving a sports bar called Froggy Bottoms in Fayetteville, in the early morning hours of April 14th.

She joined the military last April and is a health service specialist in the 44th Medical Brigade. Ft. Bragg is forwarding all inquiries to the Fayetteville Police Department since Bordeaux disappeared off base.

Olivia Cox is Kelli Bordeaux's sister. She's traveled from Florida to North Carolina to find her. She's OUTFRONT tonight.

And, Olivia, thank you very much here for coming on.

What do you know at this point about your sister's disappearance?

OLIVIA COX, MISSING SOLDIER'S SISTER: Essentially, just that, she's missing and we have to find her.

BURNETT: Have police told you if they have any sort of a lead, any kinds of suspects, any information at all?

COX: I'm just trying to stay out of the way of the investigation. I just want to find my sister. I know -- I have confidence in the police department here at Fayetteville. I know they're going to do the best job that is possible. And I have the -- I just really believe in them.

BURNETT: And, Olivia, I know U.S. Army officials were just finding out tonight that they say that your sister may have left the bar, got a ride home with an employee. They have a text message they don't know whether she sent or someone else sent that said she got home safely.

Did you talk to her that night? Was that text message to you?

COX: I talked to her Friday afternoon. I did not talk to her Friday night.

BURNETT: What was the conversation like?

COX: It was just personal stuff, between me and my sister.


COX: Nothing --

BURNETT: You were close? Go ahead.

COX: Oh, absolutely. She's my baby sister.

BURNETT: My understanding is, Olivia, she's been married for a couple years. Did she have a good marriage? Was there any sort of conflict there that you can share?

COX: No. Mike loves my sister. Mike loves my sister incredibly. Their marriage was their marriage. I mean, it's what she wanted.

She married him because she loved him. And he married her because they were in love. That's what young people do when they're in love. They get married and make the best of it.

BURNETT: And what else can you tell us about her, what sort of person she was?

BURNETT: She was the most amazing person. She got straight A's in high school. She was a self-motivated individual.

I mean, you know, a lot of people didn't have direction after high school. Kelli knew she wanted to be successful. And she enrolled herself into college and she got started right away and she joined the military because she knew that that was going to better her life.

And so she just did the best she could. She wanted to make her family proud and she knew joining the Army was going to do that. She's loved by all of her friends and family and we all just really want her to come home.

BURNETT: Police have said that they believe she may be in danger. I know you heard there the police official saying that as I introduced you. Did they tell you why they think that?

COX: Because she's missing, I would assume.

BURNETT: She hasn't reached out to anyone. I would imagine you and her husband would be the first two from what you're saying. But nothing that you're aware of?

COX: No, ma'am.

BURNETT: So, Olivia, are you going to stay there until you get answers? Or what are you going to do next?

COX: I'm going to find my sister. That's all I can do.

BURNETT: Is there anything else that you would want to say to her?

COX: Just to come home. That's it. I just want her to come home.

BURNETT: All right. Well, Olivia, thank you very much.

COX: Thank you. I appreciate your help.

BURNETT: We appreciate your coming on and telling your sister's story.

We're going to take a break. We'll be right back.


BURNETT: It's Tax Day. The clock is ticking. The day when we have to file our returns and write a check to Uncle Sam. Also the day, though, when tax reform should be on the mind of every single American.

Why? Well, because for all the talk about -- by the candidates -- about who pays and who doesn't, there's a much bigger problem -- the tax code. The numbers are absurd.

According to the nonpartisan group the Tax Policy Center, our tax code is -- well, it's unbelievable. It's full of things that cost taxpayers $1.3 trillion every year. And this year alone, 45 percent of small businesses reporting spending more than 80 hours a year, two full weeks dealing with federal taxes.

Maybe the best example of the absurdity is -- well, this. This is the country's current tax code. I want to make sure everybody knows here. This is what it would be if I printed it out. But I didn't want to murder that many trees. This paper will be used to print something worthwhile, unlike the tax code because the tax code is just pretty vile.

This is out of control, though, when you look at these numbers. Simplifying the code will dramatically reduce the cost and burden and preparation and compliances for companies and people. It will spur economic growth.

So, we're thinking, let's forget about the gimmicks and the fighting and work towards real reform. America can and it must do better and everybody -- both sides of the aisle agree that these papers are absurd.

By the way, while we're at it, you know, it's things like whoever owns this 100-year-old baseball which, see, I'm excited I get to hold again. Quarter million dollars. What if I -- oh. Yes. That could happen.

But maybe the person who gets that money wouldn't have to pay special taxes if we had a simply tax code.

All right. Coming up tomorrow, the authors of "The President's Club: Inside the World's Most Exclusive Fraternity," a look inside the White House and the president. We're looking forward to that.

We'll be following the fate of this ball. I really just can't get over the fact that it's a quarter million dollars. I've never held anything worth that much money.

Maybe I won't give it back.

"ANDERSON COOPER 360" starting right now.