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Man Documents Deaths in Syria; Dems Gather For Convention; Killer Leads Authorities To Remains; DNC Affects Charlotte's Homeless; Strap In For Supersonic; Woman's Claim: "Fired For Being Black"; Miners Released After Charges Dropped; U.S. Suspends Afghan Police Training; Claim: Anti-Men "Frat House" Atmosphere; Fire Rages In Angeles National Forest

Aired September 3, 2012 - 13:59   ET


BROOKE BADLWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Much more on what's happening in Charlotte today, the rest of the week and on the campaign trail.

But I want to begin with this. I want to begin with the urgent situation inside Syria. Right now, Syrians are reeling from what was the deadliest month in the entire 18-month uprising. The body count from this weekend alone, hard to even comprehend. Friday, 112 people killed across Syria, including, of course, several children. Jump to Saturday. Death toll, up to 162, with the most deaths in the suburbs right around Damascus.

Sunday, that number, 144 killed, including what activists are calling a massacre in the small town in the Homa province. The death toll from the week, 1,600 people. Sixteen hundred people this week killed in Syria alone.

August was the deadliest month since the uprising began. Close to 5,000 people were killed across Syria last month. Just today, CNN learned CIA Director David Petraeus is in Turkey right now and we're told he's discussing quote/unquote regional developments there.


BALDWIN: And now this. New video in from Aleppo. Opposition forces say this is a plane dropping a bomb on the city of Al-Bab. Twenty-five people reportedly killed there.

And more destruction. A car bomb ripping through a mainly Christian suburb of Damascus. Opposition activists report 105 people killed around the country today. Now, documenting all these death s a gruesome and a heavy-hearted task one man takes upon himself each and every day. Before we show this piece, I just have to warn you, the images you are about to see are disturbing, and if you have little ones in the room, get them out now.

This piece is from a freelance journalist who spent time in the town of Al-Kasir. This is not far from the border there with Lebanon. CNN's Arwa Damon shares his incredibly chilling and emotional story.


ARWA DAMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Every night Trad (ph) scrolls through the videos he shot that day. Reviewing scenes he wishes he'd never witnessed.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This person died.

DAMON: It's a macabre routine, but one he's addicted too. He simply can't stop, can't let go, can't give up.

For the past 18 months, he's documented nearly every single death in Qusa (ph), a town of some 50,000 before the violence started. Name, date, location. More than 400 victims and counting. Often they are his neighbors, friends, relatives, people he would see around town, and once he pointed the camera at his brother's corpse.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The first one my brother, but I didn't know my brother the first one. After I came also I take some photo the other one. Suddenly I remember this one my brother. The start I shout my brother, my brother, my brother, doctor, my brother! But after normal. I am sad also, the first, and -- and angry. But after normal.

DAMON: The 37-year-old once owned a furniture shop. Now he's part of a small team of media activists. Filming and posting online the horrific videos that have come to symbolize the Syrian uprising.

Most of the residents of Qusa have fled. But the indiscriminant shelling still takes its toll on the few who remain. Those who have nowhere else to go. In the last few weeks, this eight-year-old girl was killed by a mortar round that hit her home. There was nothing the medical team could do but try to hide the wound to spare her mother the anguish. She collapsed when she hears the news. At times Trad tries to console families, reassuring this woman that her son is going to be OK, that he will survive the wounds to his leg. Occasionally he hands over the camera so he can help. But too often there is nothing he can do but film.

Much of Qusa lies in ruins, similar to most of what we see from across Syria. Its people resigned to their fate, knowing that they are on their own. The hospital regularly targeted is trying to build up its defenses.

This man, who works in construction, is building a bunker for his family. His children take a quick peek into the darkness below. Perhaps this will save them. Perhaps it will be their grave.

Trad's younger brother is now a rebel fighter. He was a mechanic who wanted to be a Dee Jay. He plays music as Trad recalls the fate of one of their media activist friends. Detained by Syrian security forces and returned to them with his eyes gouged out.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And they take the eyes. The same, my job. Why? I can down Bashar. I throw Bashar by this one. Too much dangerous here in Syria the camera. But when I finish with revolution, I catch the camera like this, and I throw it.


DAMON: Arwa Damon live for me now in Beirut.

Arwa, just the image of the mother collapsing over her eight- year-old daughter. I'm left wondering, watching this piece, why this man -- you mentioned it's a macabre task, it's an addictive task. Why is he filming all these bodies?

DAMON: Well, Brooke, he has absolutely no other choice. Not only does he fundamentally believe that it's his duty to keep documenting the casualties, the atrocities he said are being carried out on a daily basis by the Syrian regime in this one part of the country, but also because of all of the violence, because he's seen so much death, it's actually the only way he can keep coping. It gives him his sense of purpose. His sense that his life is not going to end up wasted because he is, in fact, able to do something for this revolution. It just gives you a little bit of an insight into the psychological state, not just his psychological state, but the psychological state of so many others.

BALDWIN: You know, I wanted to ask you about that, because I was talking to a "Time" magazine correspondent recently and she wrote this piece about how these Syrian rebels are being handed, you know, these cameras from some NGOs in Europe and also the United States and basically saying that it feels like almost a weapon of war. She was calling them cyber warriors, the fact that they're able to film, you know, and get the message out. Compare this to other conflicts you've covered and the role of the camera.

DAMON: You know, I don't think we have seen the role of the camera, and especially the role of the camera in the hands of activists, and then their ability to post these videos to YouTube being utilized to such a way as we have seen it utilized during the Syrian revolution since it began some 18 months ago. If we did not have these videos posted to YouTube, if we did not have these activists risking their lives every single day, we really would not even have the remotest idea of the extent of what was taking place inside Syria, quite simply because from the get-go, the government has made it incredibly difficult for journalists to access these areas.

And that is one of the main reasons propelling these activists to keep on going out there, risking their lives every single day to keep that spotlight shining on what is happening to them, happening in their own very streets. But that's also why they're so frustrated because they say this is not a case where the world can say, we didn't know what was going on. People have known what has been happening in Syria from the onset, and that is why they can't comprehend how it is that there is still no action being taken at the international level to bring about an end to it.

BALDWIN: Eighteen months and counting. And we rely on crews such as yours and these rebels to keep shining that spotlight.

Arwa Damon, thank you so much, in Beirut. Also today, two Americans among those injured in an earth shaking blast. This is near the U.S. consulate building in Peshawar, Pakistan. A suicide bomber slammed a car packed with explosives into an SUV belonging to the consulate, killing two Pakistanis who were traveling with the Americans. The cars were engulfed in flames and people could be seen carrying away the wounded following that blast. Twenty-five others were injured.

And more news developing here on this Monday. Roll it.

As Democrats flock to Charlotte, a lot of buzz today over this president and this one, including what happened during an interesting round of golf. I'm Brooke Baldwin. The news is now.

Tourists on edge. One of America's most popular landmarks warns of a deadly outbreak.

Plus, he's known as the "Speed Freak" killer and he just left his cell on death row to show police a chilling discovery.

And, allegations of a female frat house inside Homeland Security. Now, one person is stepping down, but who's next?


BALDWIN: All right. Before we hand the week over to the Democrats, you know it's their convention now. Let's dot the final i on the Republicans. Mitt Romney. Did Romney get a bounce from Tampa? Take a look. Take a look at Romney. A little R&R in New Hampshire today. Like Winnipesaukee. There he is. Got a lake home there. Romney at the helm of a nice little boat. And we saw his wife Ann take off on a jet ski as well.

Back to the question. Did Romney get a bounce from Tampa? Well, here you go. Answer, kind of. But another way, not really. At least not much. Forty percent of those questioned for this Gallup poll say they are likelier now to vote for Mitt Romney than they were before the convention, but 38 percent said they are less likely. So, pretty much a wash for Mitt Romney this week. He focused on debate preparations up there in New Hampshire.

President Obama, Labor Day, in Toledo. He spoke within the past hour. And here is what he thought of those Tampa Republicans.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Despite all the challenges that we face in this new century, we saw three straight days of an agenda out of the last century. It was a rerun. You might as well have watched it on black and white TV with some rabbit ears on there. Should have been on Nick At Nite.


BALDWIN: Obama is to arrive at his party's convention in Charlotte, North Carolina, on Wednesday. With me now already there in Charlotte, CNN Grill, Mr. Ryan Lizza, a CNN contributor. He writes politics for "The New Yorker."

And, Ryan, I read your piece here. It's called "Let's Be Friends." So two words for you, Bill Clinton. You're writing about him this week. He's got this plum speaking gig on Wednesday. What can he do for Barack Obama and why has Obama waited so long to embrace him?

RYAN LIZZA, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, what he can do is -- look, Bill Clinton is one of the only national politicians who actually has high approval ratings. You know, out of office, not really doing as much partisan politics over the last few years. His approval ratings have shot up sometimes go into the 60s. so it's kind of a no-brainer for the Obama campaign to embrace Clinton, for Obama himself to sort of nurture this relationship a little bit more than he had in his first couple of years and get Bill Clinton out there working to re- elect Obama.

You know, he's got a spot that is very unusual. You know, the night before is supposed to go to the vice president.


LIZZA: So they've elevated Clinton to a -- you know, to a level unheard of for an ex-president. I mean if you look at the Republicans, George W. Bush didn't even go to that convention. You look at Jimmy Carter, the last few Democratic conventions, he really hasn't had much of a role. So they're fully embracing the former president.

BALDWIN: But it hasn't exactly been all Kumbaya.


BALDWIN: And on the embracing point -- on the embracing point, though, Ryan, you mention -- in page eight of your piece, "through 2008 and 2009, Obama rarely contacted Clinton. A decision that the Clinton circle attributes to Obama's loner personality." So is it just really not the president -- President Obama's style to reach out in the first place?

LIZZA: You know, you hear this a lot. I mean, I talked to a lot of people on both sides and it's a very complicated relationship. But you don't hear anyone trying to make the case, even just to spin you, that, oh, these guys are BFF. You know, they're -- they have become great friends. It's just not the case. And, you know, on the Clinton side, there's a little bit of a sense of being wounded by this, but also chalking it up to, you know what, that's just who Obama is. He's sort of a loner. He doesn't reach out to leaders in Congress. He has -- the friends that he does have, have been his friends before he got to the White House. And so, you know, we're not taking it too personally. That's the kind of stuff you pick up when you start asking folks on each side.

BALDWIN: And so, interestingly though, it sort of sounds like it was Team Obama reaches out to Team Clinton, hey, can you help us out when it comes to securing this victory in 2012. Team Clinton said, slow your roll, let's play some golf first. LIZZA: Yes. Well, it's very -- it was two things here. This is -- this is how it actually came about. At first they wanted Clinton to go do some campaign events in Florida. Clinton's top political guy said, just like you said, Brooke, uh-uh (ph), we need to build a relationship here. We need to build something rapport. How about getting these two guys out on the golf course. Twelve hours later, Barack Obama personally called Bill Clinton and said, let's go play some golf. And now we're looking at some images from that golfing.

Still -- incidentally, still, they haven't played since then. But that got things started off. There was one other issue. Bill Clinton's side said, we'll do everything you want but you need to retire Hillary Clinton's campaign debt from 2008. That's something you've promised to do and there's still about a quarter of a million dollars left. Please do it. The Obama camp said, fine, we'll do it. And I think that money has all been -- that campaign debt is now all retired. So now Clinton's all in.

BALDWIN: OK. OK. So we'll look for him speaking Wednesday night. I do want to ask you, because, you know, top Democrats, they have started convention week taking turns fumbling this question. It was a question posted to great effect back in 1980. Take a look.


RONALD REAGAN, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: Are you better off than you were four years ago?


BALDWIN: A lot of talk today about the Democrats being unable to answer yes. Although, I will say, we just got an answer from Joe Biden saying, you know, you bet we are. General Motors alive and Osama bin Laden's dead. That's what the vice president has just said. But I'm just wondering to you, is there a downside for the Republicans asking that question, especially with -- we just heard the sound from President Obama -- they're really accusing them of living in the past.

LIZZA: Yes, it's a very -- it's almost like a trick question for the Democrats because, on the one hand, President Obama doesn't want to argue that things are so great, but on the other hand he does want to point out that if he hasn't taken the steps he took on the stimulus and some other things, things would have been worse. And it's a very delicate argument.

You remember when he said the private sector is doing fine. He got hammered for days. So, you know, they've got to -- they've got to -- they can't be too hot and they can't be too cold on how things are. So they've yet to strike the right balance.

One of the things they're doing, frankly, is saying, you know what, if you give me four more years, I'm going to go back to the policies of Bill Clinton because things were pretty good under Clinton. And that's a very unusual strategy. He's not necessarily talking about your own time in office as an incumbent, but talking about the policies of your predecessor, which both sides agree were not too bad.

BALDWIN: Ryan Lizza, I tweeted out the link, "Let's Be Friends." It's a big, new article in "The New Yorker." Congrats on the piece. And enjoy the Grill. Not too much. Enjoy the Grill.

LIZZA: Thanks, Brooke.

BALDWIN: Thanks, Ryan.

Do you want to know --

LIZZA: (INAUDIBLE). Thanks, Brooke.

BALDWIN: Yes. Do you want to know what it's really like to experience the DNC from the inside? Tomorrow at noon you can join Wolf Blitzer and CNN's political team online for the CNN election roundtable. So you get to submit your questions, get answers in real time during our live chat. You can log in. just go to

A serial killer on death row is allowed to leave his cell and take police on a little field trip. And what they find is not only chilling, but could answer a huge unsolved mystery.


BALDWIN: A death row killer gets out of prison, but only for just this short period of time. California investigators, they took Wesley Shermantine briefly off death row so that he could lead them to more victims of the "Speed Freak" killers. The name Shermantine and an accomplice earned for the spree of murders they committed while reportedly high on meth. Two Sundays ago, Shermantine brought county detectives to four wells, each about 45 feet deep near his family's property in the town of Linden. And our affiliate, KTXL, reports investigators found a human skulls, other bones, clothes and even jewelry.

Now, keep in mind, this is time number two that Shermantine has helped find these bodies. The first time he actually sat down in prison, drew up this map. And his revelations all started when this bounty hunters took up the convicted killer's offer after sitting silent in prison for 11 years. Shermantine would talk, but he would only talk for a price. For $33,000. I spoke with that bounty hunter just this past February.


LEONARD PADILLA, BOUNTY HUNTER: I told him I'd pay him $33,000 if he gave me two bodies, Chevy Wheeler and Cyndi Vanderheiden. And any other bodies after that, we'd negotiate a figure on them.

BALDWIN: How much do you get?

PADILLA: He's on death row. He's not going anywhere.

BALDWIN: How much do you get? PADILLA: I don't get anything.

BALDWIN: You don't get anything.

PADILLA: I don't get anything.

BALDWIN: So why do this?

PADILLA: No, there's no -- there's no rewards on these. Excuse me?

BALDWIN: So why do this?

PADILLA: Because nobody else can do it.


BALDWIN: I want to go now to criminal defense attorney Anne Bremner.

And, Anne, first question really is, just how unusual is this for a death row inmate, in the middle of the night, you know, to get up and get out and help investigators find bodies?

ANNE BREMNER, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, I think it's the only time I could find. They had to pass a law for it to occur. But it's just so unusual and you see it before the fact, of course, in death penalty cases where they try and say, help us find the bodies, like the Ridgeway "Green River" killer case up here where that person got life instead of death. But once they're on death row, it doesn't happen.

BALDWIN: Now, I understand he was actually able to leave his death row cell, only after a change to the law in California. Is that the case? Explain that for me.

BREMNER: Exactly. Yes, what they -- there's really -- I mean furlough and death row are mutually exclusive terms. I mean you can't, on death row, be furloughed or be let out for any reason. Even a reason like this. So an assembly person actually passed a law, an emergency law, to say that, in this case, you can do it because he has information that can lead to closure, if that's the right word, for a lot of victim families and he has specific information. That law passed. Off he went. And he helped the police. And apparent there's been bones, bodies found.

BALDWIN: Now, to be clear, as we've been saying, I mean the guy is on death row. This local affiliate there, KTXL, is reporting that so far he's led detectives to five more bodies and even a fetus. The fact that he's on death row, he wouldn't be facing any more charges based upon extra bodies found, correct?

BREMNER: Well, yes. And he apparently has made a quote where he said that -- I'd rather be paid than bargain about the death penalty. You know, giving new meaning to your money or your life. But it's the money that he wants. And -- but could he face more charges if there's no plea deal in the works, no kind of a deal worked out in advance with the police saying I'll lead you to bodies if you don't charge me with additional crimes, then he well could. But I don't know why he would do that. He's already facing death and he can't -- his case has never been overturned. And I think the appeals are exhausted.

BALDWIN: I feel like -- I talked to one of the victims parents and they said to me, you know, they would rather, at least, and I hate to use the word, but they used it, closure. You know, even if its costs a little bit, they'd love to have that nonetheless.


BALDWIN: Anne Bremner, thank you very much.

BREMNER: Yes. Thank you.

BALDWIN: Cashing in during the DNC. Hotels in Charlotte, they're raising prices ahead of this week's Democratic National Convention. The problem, it's effecting the city's homeless population.


BALDWIN: The Democrats are gearing up for their convention this week, planning all kinds of parties and celebrations and, of course, the big pitch, why folks in November should be voting for Barack Obama.

But not everyone in Charlotte is thrilled about this. CNN's Joe Johns looks at how the convention is affecting the city's homeless population.


JOE JOHNS, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In a tough economy, cheap motels are a refuge for homeless families. Here in Charlotte, the Sunset Inn typically offers them rooms for $35 a night.

But during the Democratic National Convention, that rate could skyrocket to $250. Resident Rosalynn Curry says she can't afford it.

ROSALYNN CURRY: I think it's kind of ridiculous. I mean, but what can I do about it?

JOHNS: For the past two months, Curry has been living in one of these small rooms with six other people including her three kids. Now she is forced to move out at a time when school is just starting.

(on camera): Are your kids school age?

CURRY: One is.

JOHNS: How are you going to work that?

CURRY: I have no clue. I don't know. I'm just playing it day by day. I know it's not smart, but I got to do what I got to do.

JOHNS (voice-over): The manager at the Sunset Inn says he can't turn down the chance to cash in while prices are high.

RICKY PATEL, MANAGER, SUNSET INN: Everybody's raising the price up so why not me. You know, it's not about homeless or anything else, but it's just like we give them reasonable price, reasonable rates. If they could afford it, they could stay.

CARLA LEAF, COVENANT PRESBYTHERIAN CHURCH: I do get frustrated from a personal level because I don't feel that people should have a life that doesn't have dignity.

JOHNS: During the DNC, Carla Leaf will help find beds for homeless families at places like the Covenant Presbyterian Church. It's part of a network of charities that's been planning for this for weeks.

LEAF: We hope to have eight families here.

JOHNS: The charities within the network including the Urban Ministry Center try to work together because it's so hard to predict how many beds they will need.

DALE MULLENNIX, URBAN MINISTRY CENTER: We don't know number, which is part of our challenge. So we're preparing as if there might be hundreds. We're hoping there will be very few, in any.

JOHNS (on camera): It's made more difficult by the increase in the number of homeless families, which has exploded here recently. It wasn't up 36 percent in 2010, another 21 percent in 2011. Moving from place to place takes a big toll on families with children.

MULLENNIX: It's more than just inconvenient. Most don't have their own transportation and in that room they probably have everything they own in the world. Where are they going? How will they move that stuff and where will that stuff be that it stays safe?

JOHNS (voice-over): If the motels drop their prices right after the convention ends, families could move in next week, but Darren Ash of Charlotte Family Housing says that's still doesn't fix the real problem.

DARREN ASH, CHARLOTTE FAMILY HOUSING: This was just a small blip on the screen compared to the bigger issue we're facing here. This Democratic National Convention is not really a huge deal for us. We're preparing for the overflow, but the bigger issue is that our spike in family homelessness caught us off guard in this city.

JOHNS: Joe Johns, CNN, Charlotte, North Carolina.


BALDWIN: A stolen u-haul truck that was packed with equipment for Vice President Joe Biden's event has now been found in Detroit. The Secret Service says the truck was recovered near Henry Ford Hospital today.

Agents have an assessing the contents of the truck just to make sure all the equipment was accounted for. The union rally Mr. Biden spoke at went off without a hitch despite the missing equipment.

And accusations of a female frat house inside Homeland Security, and now someone is stepping down.

Plus it's called "The Ninja Star." NASA shelling out some cash for a plane capable of super sonic travel.


BALDWIN: Imagine this flying from New York to Tokyo in a cool four hours. I know it sounds impossible until you've actually seen this. This is aircraft that resembles a four-point Ninja star and it could go in a supersonic mode by turning 90 degrees in midair.

Chad Myers is here with a look at this thing and first and foremost, it's a good day when Chad Myers brings props.

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: I have props. I have Bernoulli principle. When you take the air, you fly it over the wing of an aircraft, the aircraft goes up. The more it's tilted, the more it goes up.

That's why there are flaps. It makes the air go around. The faster it goes on top, the lower the air pressure is the airplane flies. This is very cool.

BALDWIN: This is very cool.

MYERS: We have talked about these planes that go mach 99 and they crash. This is not that. This is not a 5 point-something billion dollar plane.

This is a hundred thousand dollars that NASA has giving these people to see if they can get this plane to rotate in midair and turn the wing into a fuselage and so it will be able to go faster.

BALDWIN: So I was telling in commercial break with you though, a $100,000 that seems like chump change.

MYERS: That's about a week's worth of money there. But let me show how this all works. This is going to be the front of the airplane when the airplane takes off.

This is going to be the wing, the big one, the big Bernoulli bump. That's going to take the plane off. When the plane gets up into space, subsonic, it's going to turn. The wing is going to become the fuselage.

This little wing is not going to be cutting much air. So this little wing is going to fly through the air with the greatest of ease and it's going to turn this thing into a supersonic airplane.

BALDWIN: Now this is something that is --

MYERS: Flies like this.

BALDWIN: This is something that our great, great, great, great, great grand kids might appreciate. This has to be so far off in the future.

MYERS: They built the pyramids 5,000 years ago, didn't they? They can build this.

BALDWIN: It's amazing so by going that a degree, it's gets in the supersonic mode.

MYERS: If you lose the drag of a big wing. You make the big wing into the fuselage where people will sit. You make this little wing not much drag there. That would still be the lift because you're going so fast you don't need much.

BALDWIN: Would you do this? Would go Tokyo to New York four hours?

MYERS: Not the first flight.

BALDWIN: That's what I thought. Chad Myers, thank you, very cool. Thanks for the props.

Now this, young, hip, trendy and white. A black employee speaks out after being fired from a popular teen clothing store.


BALDWIN: Fired from her job and she says it's because she's black. Nicole Cogdell said she was working at a trendy clothing store called "Wet Seal" and that she was fired from her store in Pennsylvania because she did not fit an image. Kyung Lah tells her story.


KYUNG LAH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Young, hip and trendy. This is the image of teen retailer Wet Seal. An image that Nicole Cogdell did not fit at least that's what she said management made clear to her.

NICOLE COGDELL, PLAINTIFF: A brand image is one thing, however being terminated because you're African-American is something totally different.

LAH: Fired says Cogdell because she's black. In 2008, she was manager of a "Wet Seal" store at this mall in Springfield, Pennsylvania. A mall where there are more black customers.

Cogdell said she did so well at her job that the district manager promoted her to a new store in a higher end mall, the King of Prussia. Most of the customers there are white.

Then the vice president of the company came to inspect the store that's when Cogdell says he heard this.

COGDELL: She literally looked to my district manager and said that's the store manager. I wanted someone with blonde hair and blue eyes.

LAH: Four days later, Cogdell was fired. Cogdell says her replacement at the King of Prussia Mall was a white manager with less experience and poor performance record, but paid more.

(on camera): There have been cases like this against the fashion industry before. What makes this one so different is that lawyers say they can trace the discrimination to a vice president at "Wet Seal" with an e-mail.

(voice-over): The e-mail was forwarded to Cogdell. She says it's from the very same vice president who said she wanted a blonde manager with blue eyes.

The e-mail from the V.P. who has since left "West Seal" says, quote, "Need diversity. African-American dominate huge issue."

LAH (on camera): When you read that, what did you think?

NANCY DEMIS, PLAINTIFF'S ATTORNEY: I thought this is the essential smoking gun.

LAH (voice-over): Lawyer, Nancy Demis, represents Cogdell and two other former Wet Seal manager who say they were either fired, denied pay raises and promotions as part of an unwritten, but enforce corporate policy because black employees don't fit the brand image. The e-mail says Demis is a window into the ugly secret of retail.

DEMIS: In retail in particularly people are accustomed to making judgments about people based on their looks. I think that they lose track of the fact that under the law you may not make decisions on employees based on their race.

LAH: They're asking a federal court in California to declare this a class action lawsuit on behalf of 250 current and former black managers at Wet Seal. Wet seal would not speak to CNN on camera, but released this statement.

"We do not discriminate on the basis of race or any other category. We are confident that when all the facts come out in this matter, the public and our customers will see that African-Americans are well represented and valued members of our employee base including our management."

Wet Seal's image campaign does include an African-American model. But Cogdell who no longer works at retail believes this, like much of fashion it's just an image. Kyung Lah, CNN, Los Angeles.


BALDWIN: Now CNN's Gary Tuchman actually spoke with Cogdell and asked her about why she says the alleged discrimination goes beyond just her store. Here's what she says.


COGDELL: It's not just me. Many African-Americans all across the country that worked for this company and basically, you know, we just didn't fit the brand image. If you look at that same e-mail, you'll see other problems in other stores.


BALDWIN: Again, Wet Seal says they do not discriminate on the basis of race and African-Americans are well represented within their company.

In a stunning piece of video, police are seen shooting this group of minors lined up as if it's target practice. But for some reason their fellow miners are the ones charged here. But at this hour, a major development in this story. Stay here.


BALDWIN: At this hour, a number of miners in South Africa, they are just walking out of detention after public fury over their arrest. Two hundred seventy of them were charged with murder for the August 16th massacre of their own colleagues who were protesting in this labor dispute.

We thought it was important to remind all of you why people are so enraged by showing again the video that was taken that day. A warning, it is incredibly graphic and even more disturbing knowing that when the guns went quiet, 34 miners were dead.

Again, a warning, the video should not be seen by young kids. Thirty four miners killed. Now despite the fact that you're seeing the officers holding the guns here, the regional prosecutor said evidence showed some miners were responsible for the murders.

And then this weekend, the National Prosecuting Authority stepped in overturning the arrests, at least for now. CNN's Nkepile Mabuse is at the court proceeding where some of the miners were released -- Nkepile.

NKEPILE MABUSE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It is a process that we expect to continue into the night. The first group of miners have already been inside the court behind me and had physical addresses verified and then they were let go, walked out of the gates of the court as free men.

Many of them elated singing songs of jubilation. They also spoke to us about how they were treated by the police in custody. Some complained they were assaulted by the police.

We've heard media reports of miners being tortured and confessions being tortured out of them by police. The police watchdog here in South Africa is investigating all of those charges.

We also managed to speak to some family members who were meeting their loved ones here and some pretty distraught family members who still do not know where their loved ones are.

The last time they saw them was when they left for that protest on the 16th of August, which ended in bloodshed. Nkepile Mabuse, CNN, South Africa.

BALDWIN: Nkepile, thank you. Also today, there was a violent confrontation between police and former authorities at a different mine in South Africa, a different gold mine. Four were hurt, one critically. Mine officials say police used tear gas and rubber bullets against the ex-workers who were trying to stop vehicles from entering that mine.

U.S. special operations forces have suspended the training of Afghan police recruits. This move follows reports that more than 40 NATO members have been killed this year by insurgents. The rest is police or Afghan soldiers, 14 were killed in August alone. U.S. forces will re-vet all current members before reinstating the training.

And as Democrats land in Charlotte, they race for the swing state. The race got even closer. Why Mitt Romney is now leading the president in one poll.

Plus one guy says women in Homeland Security humiliated men and made the office more like a, quote/unquote, "frat house." Well, this scandal just took a whole new turn.


BALDWIN: A federal official has resigned after being accused of pushing a, quote/unquote, "frat house" atmosphere that tries to humiliate men.

Suzanne Barr says the allegations against her in a lawsuit are lies. But she feels compelled to leave her job at Immigration and Customs Enforcement or ICE.

Barr served as chief of staff for the director there. Now this lawsuit from a former employee, James T. Hayes, charges the office of not only discrimination, but retaliation even making up interoffice affairs.

Hayes says he never had after he threatened to file a complaint. Let me bring in Deb Feyerick here. I know, Debbie, you're following the story. So the big if, if these accusations, you know, against Suzanne Barr are false why would she leave?

DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, pretty much it boils down to a couple of things. First of all, the official reason Suzanne Barr says she is leaving is because she doesn't want the allegations against her to hurt ICE's reputation or distract from the agency's mission of immigration and customs enforcement. She's calling the allegations unfounded and without any merit. She says she decided to resign two weeks after putting herself on unpaid leave pretty much to protect the agency. She is, keep in mind, Brooke, a political appointee who worked as chief of staff for DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano when Napolitano was governor of Arizona.

She came to Washington, D.C. as part of Napolitano's team. But the ranking Republican on the House Homeland Security Committee, Peter King, says these resignations basically raise serious questions about the management practices and also the personnel policies at DHS, something he and his staff are planning to take a look into -- Brooke.

BALDWIN: So what specifically does the lawsuit say against Barr and her former boss, Janet Napolitano, who oversees ICE as of course, you know, secretary of Homeland Security?

FEYERICK: Well, here is what's interesting. The lawsuit is really accusing Barr of creating a hostile, sexually charged work environment, which is basically designed to target and humiliate and intimidate male employees promoting those who played along.

Discriminating and retaliating against those who refused. It was brought by the head of New York's Homeland Security investigations as you mentioned James T. Hayes.

Hayes said while he was working in Washington, D.C. as director of ICE Detention and Removal Operations, he was pushed aside in favor of a very, very close Napolitano friend, a female with significantly less general law enforcement experience.

Hayes said that rather than be offered a comparable position with comparable pay, the agency instead tried to demote him and when he objected saying he was going to the People Employment Office and file a complaint, Barr and others at ICE retaliated against him.

Denying him bonuses or opening investigations against Hayes and allegedly spreading rumors designed to hurt his reputation and the investigations were found to be without merit according to the lawsuit.

But it also in the lawsuit accuses ICE's top officials of creating senior positions specially to accommodate personal friends. When Hayes threatened this claim, Susan Barr allegedly told him that well, he would be reassigned and good luck fighting it from Puerto Rico.

So it really does seem that there was some sort of a pattern whether Susan Barr felt that she could in fact ride out this wave of allegations against her. She decided to basically step down and at least for the time being take the distraction away -- Brooke.

BALDWIN: So sometimes in cases like this there are other victims, other victims who begin coming forward. Is that the case here?

FEYERICK: Well, it is. As matter of fact after several conversations, apparently a number of people have stepped forward saying they thought this sort of pattern of behavior was directed personally towards them.

But they say no, in fact, certain officials at ICE did the exact same thing to them. These are male employees who said they were intimidated. They were humiliated. There was language that was used that was incredibly offensive.

And apparently if they didn't play that game then they were either just shut out, discriminated, retaliated against and that's the big problem. There are about almost two dozen new allegations that this was a significant problem at the agency -- Brooke.

BALDWIN: OK, Deb Feyerick for us. Deb, thank you very much.

I want to take you to California right now and Chad Myers just walked over and joining me as we look at these pictures. I'm presuming they are live pictures thanks to our affiliate out of L.A. KABC. These are the San Gabriel Mountains and this is now this wildfire continues to burn.

MYERS: Four thousand acres started yesterday, only about 700 acres of last night, but now only 5 percent containment if that. This is up from the Morris reservoir. You're up on Highway 39 up here in the canyons.

About a thousand campers were evacuated, but so far no home losers, not much really for settlement up there, but amazing pictures. I don't see any type of just containment on this whatsoever.

The DC-10 is called in to drop check on it, but this will be burning out of control for some time. The wind is not blowing embers toward L.A. It's blowing to the north so that's the way the smoke is going. That's the way the embers are going. L.A. not in any jeopardy with this fire.

BALDWIN: OK, just quickly glancing down at my notes from KABC, they are reporting the Red Cross. Red Cross has established a shelter for those affected by the fire and that apparently is happening in Glandora High School.

So we'll keep an eye on it, crazy, huge smoke for obvious reasons as you mentioned, 5 percent contained. Chad Myers, thank you very much and now hour two.