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ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT
U.S. Embassies under Siege; Anti-U.S. Protests in at Least Nine Countries; Senator Wants to Cut Funding to Middle East Countries; Romney Softens Tone against Obama
Aired September 13, 2012 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: OUTFRONT next, protests spreading around the world tonight, all directed at the United States. And we're learning more about the film and the filmmaker at the center of the outrage. Plus some progress in finding those responsible for the death of the American ambassador to Libya.
Let's go OUTFRONT.
Good evening I'm Erin Burnett. OUTFRONT tonight turmoil spreading.
Protesters rising up in at least nine Middle Eastern countries today. Their target the United States.
This is Cairo tonight. You're looking at pictures here, as you can see flames, Molotov cocktails, hundreds of angry protesters amassed outside the American embassy. Security forces fired tear gas and rubber bullets to hold them back. Even Canada out of caution closed its embassy in Cairo today.
Now they -- a photo from Cairo, which we'll show you here, we'll hold this up, I'll tell you what it is, it's a chalk drawing on the ground of a Jewish star of David with the words, I'll translate, remember your black day, September 11th, written in Arabic.
And it is beyond Cairo tonight. Anti-U.S. demonstrators clashed in front of U.S. embassies, consulates and interests in Israel, Yemen, Sudan, Tunisia, Morocco, Iraq, Iran, and among Muslims in the Indian- controlled region of Kashmir. There's already a call in Iran for nationwide rallies tomorrow.
It appears to be a backlash, at least in part, from a low-budget anti-Islamic film which was made in the United States, first posted on YouTube in July and recently publicized in the Middle East.
And here's what we're also learning tonight. Federal officials say the filmmaker's name is Nakoula Basseley Nakoula. The FBI says the agency has spoken with him in the past 24 hours.
Now that name is very important and much more on the film and who that is, why it matters so much, later in the program. But the Ansar al-Sharia Brigade, which is a group loosely affiliated with al Qaeda in Libya, that has been accused of playing a role in Tuesday's deadly attack on the American consulate in Benghazi, has just issued a statement denying responsibility.
I'm looking at it now. It's an important thing to say given that they have quickly claimed responsibility for other attacks, including on American interests and on the Red Cross.
The Libyan prime minister tells CNN at least one person has been arrested in conjunction with the killings of the American Ambassador Chris Stevens and three embassy staff members.
And we have more information for you tonight about who those people are. Glenn Doherty was a former Navy SEAL working as a security and intelligence specialist in Libya. Sean Smith was a State Department computer expert. And, of course, Chris Stevens was the U.S. ambassador to Libya. The fourth victim is another security officer who has not been publicly identified tonight.
We have the first look inside the building where they died. These are pictures we just got today. They have been -- show heavy damage, burnt out rooms. That is the American consulate building in Benghazi.
We want to get straight to Arwa Damon tonight who is on the phone from Benghazi. Ben Wedeman is in Cairo.
And let me start with you, Arwa. Let me just ask you, obviously we are hearing that someone has been arrested in conjunction with the attacks. But one of the groups linked with al Qaeda that has recently claimed responsibility for attacks on America and other interests said they had nothing to do with this one. The Ansar al-Sharia Brigade. What's the latest you could tell us?
ARWA DAMON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the brigade issuing a statement that was very vaguely worded saying that they were not involved in the incident that took place, that is in the assault on the consulate itself. But that statement is being met with some pretty widespread skepticism when it comes to the Libyans that we've been able to speak to here, and even when it comes to the authorities themselves.
There have been reports that there have been clashes breaking out between government forces, between some of the other extremist groups, the (INAUDIBLE), that appeared to have (INAUDIBLE), if this in fact, quote, "turned on Ansar al-Sharia," realizing what the potential disastrous fallout of this horrific assault could potentially be.
And this just really goes to underscore, Erin, how many challenges this country faces. The fact that this is very much a nation that is run by these militias, these armed groups that are effectively able to establish their own military training camps, that are able to operate with complete and utter impunity.
The government has to be able to rein them in and the government is fully aware that right now it has to go after these individuals, hold those responsible for the horrific attack to justice and that it can begin to re-establish itself when it comes to its position in the global community. BURNETT: And Arwa, what can you tell us about the arrests in Libya today, and who that was. I mean is there any more detail that you have?
DAMON: Well, what the government is saying right now is they've arrested one individual. They are not saying specifically which group he may or may not have been affiliated with. This is very much part of an ongoing investigation, a joint investigation between the Libya and U.S. governments. They were saying that they were pursuing a handful, four or five other individuals, who they believe were affiliated with it as well.
There are a number of other theories as who could potentially be responsible. Was it an extremist group like Ansar al-Sharia or one of the many others which operate here. Was this a pre-planned attack or was this just simply a target of opportunity that presented itself or was it -- what began as a demonstration that somehow spiraled out of control, resulting, of course, in these devastating consequences?
But again, there are a lot of questions here on this night and a lot of people are going to be demanding answers from the Lebanese -- Libyan government, most certainly feeling the pressure at this point in time because it does have to prove itself not just to its own people, Erin, but to the world.
BURNETT: Yes. And Ben, what about in Cairo? Obviously we showed pictures of hundreds of protesters outside the U.S. embassy. Again, tear gas was fired, rubber bullets fired. What -- I know you were there. What is happening -- what is the latest that you've been seeing tonight?
BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well what we've seen is in the last hour or so the security forces have pushed the protesters back, back in the direction of Tahrir Square and also back to the north as well. These clashes have been going on all day long. It's now 1:00 in the morning here in Cairo.
The Egyptian authorities say that more than 200 people have been wounded just so far today in these clashes. Now, of course, the country is bracing for more protests tomorrow, Friday, the Muslim day of prayer. Now the Muslim Brotherhood said it is organizing nationwide protests against this anti-Islamic video clip that appeared on YouTube but they stress that the protests will not take place anywhere near the American embassy and they say those protests will be strictly peaceful.
But the worry is, of course, that it's not the Muslim Brotherhood that's leading these protests but other more extreme Islamist organizations.
WEDEMAN: Who in their own way want to embarrass the Muslim Brotherhood-led government.
BURNETT: And I know there are so many theories, some conspiracies, some not about who's responsible for what. We hear the shots behind you, Ben, and also the pictures, everyone, we've just been showing. These live pictures of what's happening in Cairo right now.
Ben, obviously, what we're looking at here are burned out cars, but young men, young men throwing things. Young men. And I know that you had a chance to speak with some of them. I wanted to play what one protester told you. Here it is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's not possible that President Obama, with all his intelligence agencies, didn't know about this, and stop it from coming out in the open. It's clear. Obama is guilty. Obama is guilty. Obama is guilty.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Ben, obviously they say Obama is guilty, Obama is guilty, Obama is guilty. Tell us more about that man and some of the others who were expressing such anger.
WEDEMAN: Well many of the people I spoke with had no idea that the U.S. government has come out and expressed its disgust with this video clip that appeared on YouTube, and that there seems to be an unawareness about the fact that the United States government does not control every single thing that appears on the Internet.
So it seems to be one of the problems here is that there's just a lack of understanding of how the media operates in the United States and that the act of one individual is not the act of the government.
Now one of the main concerns here among Egyptians, particularly Coptic Christian Egyptians, is that there could be a backlash against them as a result of the act of this one -- rather this film produced by this one man in the United States.
BURNETT: Yes. And we're going to -- we're going to have much more on the Coptic Christian angle. I know that you talked to some today. They were -- they were very afraid of what might happen.
Ben, before we let you go, just looking behind you at -- I know you're hearing the shots there and we were just seeing the live picture of what's happening. Can you tell us at all what you're hearing or what you're able to see from where you are?
WEDEMAN: Actually we have a very good vantage point. We're right above one of the streets where many -- much of these clashes are taking place. Those loud pops you're hearing are actually fireworks being fired by the protesters in the direction of the police. The police responding with tear gas and rubber bullets at times. And like I said this has been going on now for well over 24 and it doesn't -- even though the protesters have been pushed back, it doesn't appear that they are about to leave -- Erin.
BURNETT: Ben, thank you very much. And Arwa Damon on the ground for us in Libya.
Well, Florida Senator Bill Nelson is on the Intelligence Committee. He believes these protests are not spontaneous and says the violence in Libya -- in particular bears hallmarks of al Qaeda. And he's OUTFRONT tonight.
Senator, thank you for taking the time. Now I know you just heard that one of the al Qaeda linked groups in Libya that has claimed responsibility for attacks on the Red Cross and the U.S. in the past is denying taking part in this attack. Our Arwa Damon on the ground reporting many there are skeptical of whether this denial was true or not.
Are you confident, al Qaeda or an al Qaeda-linked group like that is responsible?
SEN. BILL NELSON (D), FLORIDA: Well, I'm skeptical of their statement as well. And let's make sure your viewers understand the protest in Egypt is one thing. What was happening over the past couple of days in Libya was you had these armed trucks with RPGs and weapons in these militias driving around.
Now, are they influenced and connected somehow to al Qaeda in Northern Africa? That's what we're going to find out in the investigation. My particular suspicion is that there are some connections.
BURNETT: And, so why is there -- you're in the Intelligence Committee so maybe you can help us get to the bottom of this because a U.S. intelligence official had told CNN it's unlikely that al Qaeda was involved in the Libya attack, and as you point out, groups that -- or militants that may have used the protesters as a cover, an opportunity, to stage the attack they were trying to stage. And you're now saying you're more confident that al Qaeda is involved.
So why the divergence here?
NELSON: Well, I don't think it's that much of a divergence. I think the situation on the ground is as I have described it. We know that al Qaeda is making a push in Northern Africa. Is there some connection? Although this may not be a direct connection, this is what we're going to have to see in the investigation, but in the meantime we have the loss of life of Americans and American property and our consulate.
BURNETT: What will the United States do about it? Obviously, we now know there are Marines on the ground to protect U.S. interests. There are war ships now in the area. But this has spread now to nine other countries. No one knows will it get bigger, will it die down. What is the U.S. going to do about it?
NELSON: Well, I think exactly what you just said. We're going to protect Americans. We're going to protect American interests. And that means in what you just reported the pre-positioning of security forces, all around to wherever we think there is a problem, to protect those Americans and American interests and that's going on as we speak.
BURNETT: Do you feel frustration, though, as a lot of people seem to feel and surprise that in Libya, a country that has been ruled and controlled in many ways by armed gangs since the death of Moammar Gadhafi, that our consulate did not seem to be fortified, that this was able to happen. Were we caught flat footed?
NELSON: The short answer is no, we were not caught flat footed. When you have a U.S. facility such as an embassy or a consulate that is suddenly assaulted with, in some cases, heavy weapons, and those assaults are not being repelled by the host government and, remember, that's part of the problem here, is the Libyan government is very weak, then you are bound to have something like this for people who have the intent to destroy and to kill. And that's what we're going to have to protect against in the future.
BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Senator. Appreciate you taking the time tonight.
And still OUTFRONT a fierce exchange on Capitol Hill over sending billions of dollars a year to Egypt and Libya. The man leading the fight to cut off the fund, Senator Rand Paul OUTFRONT next.
BURNETT: Breaking news now. CNN has just learned the identity of the fourth person killed in Tuesday's attack on the American consulate in Benghazi, Libya. The U.S. official confirms to our Chris Lawrence that Tyrone Woods also died in the attack. Woods was a former Navy SEAL.
Well, what has happened in Libya and in Egypt and now in nine countries around the Middle East has led to a standoff in Washington. In the Senate, Republican Senator Rand Paul trying to force a vote today on his measure to cutoff aide to Libya, Egypt and Pakistan, which totals about $4 billion a year. Democratic leaders blocked Paul's move.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: They know if they vote their position, which is to send your money to Pakistan, and to Egypt, and to Libya, that the American people won't like it.
SEN. JOHN KERRY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: Cutting the aid to any of these countries right now in this fashion is not the way to honor the memory of an Ambassador Chris Stevens, who went there in great danger to help that country be free and have an opportunity to have democracy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: The exchange became much, much more testy. And I spoke to Senator Paul about it and asked him why he wants to cut funding.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) PAUL: I think until we have the assassins who killed our ambassador and until both countries, Libya and Egypt, can verify that they can provide support and protection for our embassies, I see no reason to keep sending them money.
BURNETT: Let me ask you, because obviously you and John Kerry had it out on this today. But John McCain also is on the other side of this. Here's John McCain.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: If we turn our backs now on the millions of people in Libya and Egypt and Syria and other countries across the Middle East, people who share so many of our values and interests, people who are the true authors of the Arab Spring, we will hand our common enemies, the terrorists and extremists, the very victory that they seek.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Senator, what do you think about that? I mean the Libyan leadership apologized immediately. Would we be handing terrorist, extremist a victory by pulling the funding back?
PAUL: I think too many people misinterpret that you have to bribe people to be your friends or that your disengaging by not giving people money. We're pretty well engaged with England but we don't send any money to England. We're borrowing $50,000 a second. Where is the money going to come from. But often foreign aid is stolen by the leaders.
Mubarak stole probably billions of dollars. His families secreted it away in Swiss bank accounts. They had mansions around the world. Most foreign aid is stolen and is counterproductive.
BURNETT: Senator, do you think -- you know, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney was asked a question today about whether Egypt is now allied with the United States. President Obama had said the country is, quote, "not an ally nor is it an enemy," and a lot of people, "So what was he saying? What was he saying?"
So press secretary said, well, ally is a legal term of art. We do not have a mutual defense treaty with Egypt like we do with our NATO allies.
PAUL: Right. What I would say is --
BURNETT: Do you think -- is Egypt an ally? Yes, what --
PAUL: Well, that may be semantics but I would say if you want to be an ally of America, act like it.
BURNETT: So I want to throw up the top five recipients of foreign aid from the United States in 2012. Israel is number one, then Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq and Egypt. And our Egyptian number is $1.6 billion. Would you cut off to all these countries, though, or just the ones that you wouldn't deem currently friends? I mean obviously I'm getting very specifically here at Israel.
BURNETT: The number one recipient of American aid in the world.
PAUL: What I would do is start with the countries who disrespect us and are not acting like allies. Start with countries like Egypt who can't even protect our embassy. Do you know that news reports said that they called and said the mob is coming but then nobody did anything?
In my budget, we took the $30 billion of foreign aid and made it down to $5 billion but we didn't specify who those are but if we're going to have some foreign aid I would start out by giving it to those who are our allies.
BURNETT: And by that, Israel?
PAUL: Well, Israel has always stood with us and there's been no question. But I think really we have to reassess all money every where considering that we're bore roger the money we're sending overseas.
BURNETT: A final question about how this has played out politically. As you're well aware, Mitt Romney criticized the president very early on. His first statement after the attacks read, and I know you're familiar with it, but I'll read it for the viewer. "It's disgraceful the Obama administration's first response was not to condemn attacks on our diplomatic missions but to sympathize with those who waged the attacks."
He has been criticized by many in the Republican Party for that statement. Did he do the right thing or did he go too far?
PAUL: Well, it was kind of the same as my first response also when I read that and people have said oh, look at the sequence of time when it came out. Sort of a bad statement to come out when any embassy is under any kind of assault. To come out and say, we under you're angry. I think really probably and, you know, the president disavowed it. But it essentially came from an extended part of his administration so I think the first statement was a mistake.
President Obama has said it was a mistake. So by Governor Romney pointing out it was a mistake he now agrees with President Obama. So I think it's somewhat of people making a mountain out of a mole hill now.
BURNETT: I have to say, you just did a very masterful job of spinning it to your point of view.
BURNETT: Everyone who does this --
PAUL: Thank you.
BURNETT: With rhetorical -- that's why it's become Mt. Everest. Thank you so much. Good to see you as always, Senator.
PAUL: All right. Thank you, Erin.
BURNETT: All right. Rand Paul is not backing down but is Mitt Romney? Or is he at least trying to refocus the conversation? His tone today seemed a little softer.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: As we watched the world today, sometimes it seems we're at the mercy of events instead of shaping events. And a strong America is essential to shape events.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Jamal Simmons, Democratic strategist is with us, along with Reihan Salam, Republican strategist, and John Avlon from "Newsweek" and "The Daily Beast."
OK. Great to see all of you.
Reihan, that was a little bit of a toning down, no, he's not backed off of what he said. I think that's important to say. But he is shifting his rhetoric a bit.
REIHAN SALAM, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, there's a very straightforward reason for that. Because when we actually focus not on the political back and forth but what's actually happening you're looking at an incredibly chaotic situation. You're looking at the president having said on one day that Egypt is not an ally and then the next day having that walk back.
SALAM: It's a great deal of uncertainty and then you're also seeing this chaos spread and there are deep questions, are we protecting our diplomatic missions adequately and who's have -- who was keeping their eye on the ball because this is a volatile region and that's something that everyone is -- really ought to have understood since the start of the Arab Spring. There's an opportunity here but there's also a tremendous danger.
BURNETT: Right. Which I think everyone can agree with, wherever you are on this politically. But John, one thing that does all seem to be true is the U.S. was taken by surprise by all of this, which I think a lot of people might say look, given the situation maybe you shouldn't have been taken as much surprise as it seems we were.
JOHN AVLON, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Certainly. I mean the dynamics that we know now.
AVLON: The fact that this all sprung up from a film that everyone was unaware of created by an obscure studio in California, and then over-dubbed to create a controversy picked up by anti- Islamists here in United States and then amplified by Islamist radicals in the Far East, it is a surreal parable, a cautionary tale about what can happen in the Arab globalization. But clearly Ambassador Stevens felt secure in Benghazi. He had done so much to try to secure and liberate that country. So we were taken by surprise.
Should there have been more defenses at the consulate, obviously the answer is yes.
AVLON: I think the problem is the politicization. During the attack, when we had incomplete information, for Governor Romney's campaign to say that the Obama administration was sympathizing with the people attacking our embassies, I think that went beyond the pale and that's why he's softening his tone rightly because it's not the right approach to take in a such a volatile time.
BURNETT: And Jamal, I'm wondering, there's something I don't know if you've heard, but Ben Wedeman at the top of the program was reporting and he had spoken to a protester who was impassioned and saying, Obama is guilty, Obama is guilty, Obama is guilty.
JAMAL SIMMONS, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Yes.
BURNETT: And then what Ben Wedeman said is that protester was not aware that the United States had said that this film was not OK and -- and now I'm wondering, and he said when he was aware, now who knows what would have really changed about is point of view. But the president backed off that statement the embassy put out. Should he embraced it?
SIMMONS: Should the president embrace the statement? I don't --
BURNETT: Embrace that statement saying, look, these kinds of action -- against a religion are not acceptable.?
SIMMONS: Well, if you look at what Secretary Clinton said today in her remarks, I mean she pretty much came out and said that these things aren't acceptable. We don't agree with the content of the video.
I think to couple that statement, though, if you're the president of the United States with a strong statement of, you know, but we're not going to tolerate violence against our people or against our nation or against our assets, because you're upset about a video that was produced here, and I think for most people around the world, they don't understand that in the United States we do have freedom of press, we do have the ability --
BURNETT: That's true. SIMMONS: -- to say what they want. And maybe in their countries they don't, and so it's hard for them to understand the society where we have as much freedom as we do here in the United States.
SIMMONS: But to get back to Mitt Romney I do think -- his statement was ill-timed and it was ill-informed and temporary. And I think he's digging himself out of this hole. I think that's why you saw him today trying to soften it up a little bit because now he's got to get back to a place of statesmanship so that he can continue to argue the points he wants to make.
BURNETT: All right. We have to hit pause there. All I have to say is when I was in Cairo during the revolution I was lectured by person after person about the peace treaty with Israel as if I could do something about it. And there is -- there was a real, obviously, not understanding the distinction between individuals and the government.
Thanks so much to all three of you. We appreciate it.
And next for days we knew almost nothing about the person behind the film sparking worldwide outrage. But tonight that has changed and in a very important way.
BURNETT: New details emerging tonight about the filmmaker who made the anti-Islamic movie that has sparked violent protest across the Mideast and North Africa. Federal authorities have identified him as Nakoula Basseley Nakoula. Now, when we first told you about him last night, he was using the name Sam Bacile and portraying himself as an Israeli-American.
Israel foreign ministry says they have no record of Sam Bacile. And we now know that Nakoula has a criminal past and is believed to be a Coptic Christian and an Egyptian. That is a crucial angle.
Miguel Marquez has been digging on this story all day and he's OUTFRONT tonight.
So, Miguel, what can you tell us, first of all about this man's criminal past?
MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's extensive. There's no doubt he doesn't don't found because in '91 he was convicted of misdemeanors, he didn't serve any jail time for that. In 1997, though, he was convicted of intent to manufacture methamphetamine, the drug methamphetamine and he served a year in prison for that.
And in 2010 in an elaborate fraudulent scheme, he served a year in federal prison, elaborate scheme where he would create false identities and then get money through those credit card convenience checks put them into fake bank accounts, withdraw the money and then walk away from it all, Erin. BURNETT: Obviously adding more intrigue to this bizarre story. What do we know about him being a Coptic Christian and an Egyptian? Obviously, crucial, given this is a small and often persecuted group in Egypt.
MARQUEZ: Yes. Well, the big concern is that Coptic Christians in Egypt and what might the reaction be to all of this. This is a guy who -- we met an individual who knew him in Long Beach, California. Everyone connected to Sam Bacile or Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, as we know his real name is now, is running from this guy.
He didn't want to go on camera but he didn't say he knew him from their Coptic Christian church. That he was a shady guy. That he had used his address at one point in order to send letters and credit cards so he could continue his fraud.
He found out about it, called the cops, and Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, he never heard from him again -- Erin.
BURNETT: All right. Miguel, thank you very much, who has been -- as you can see -- out on the road, getting answers to these questions that the whole country and whole world, in fact have had.
But the question now, given that we now have a name is whether this filmmakers background and the people who could have produced it will create further backlash in the Middle East?
Nicholas Burns is a professor of international relations at Harvard and a former U.S. ambassador to NATO. He's OUTFRONT tonight.
Really good to see you, sir.
And let me ask you this crucial question as we're talking about Nakoula Basseley Nakoula was a Coptic Christian and an Egyptian. Considering the history in Egypt, there have been in the past two years many Coptics leaving as a result of the Arab Spring and fear of persecution. There have been attacks on Coptic Christians.
Do you expect a backlash given that this man's identity has come out?
NICHOLAS BURNS, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO NATO: I certainly hope not. You know, Erin, you're exactly right. The Egyptian Coptic community is quite large. It's the largest Christian community in the Middle East. It's about 10 percent of the Egyptian population. So, about 10 million people.
They have been embattled. There have been anti-Christian riots and anti-Christian actions against churches and individuals for many years in Egypt, and many Coptic Christians have immigrated to the United States and other countries for safety and security.
And now that the identity of this person is known I certainly hope that there won't be a backlash but you can't discount that factor. Because what we're seeing in Egypt as well as Libya and Yemen is that these moderate governments, relatively moderate that have been elected are now being attacked by extremist forces who didn't win the election.
And those extreme forces have hateful agendas, some of them. They are very aggressive. So they could possibly use something like this. I hope they won't but they could possibly use this to incite further violence.
BURNETT: Talking to Coptics in Egypt, they are afraid.
BURNETT: They are terrified about what might happen.
Tomorrow, Professor, is going to be a very important day. Obviously, it's a day of prayer. So, when we already see these riots at American embassies and consulates in nine countries, what could tomorrow bring?
BURNS: Well, this has been a tragic week as you well know for the United States and we've had our embassies and consulates besieged by protesters and violence as well. Tomorrow is mosque day. It's the day when Muslims emerge from mosques. It's a day when traditionally, we see large scale demonstrations in the Arab world.
We have to rely now on the governments of these Arab countries to stand up and be counted to provide the best security for our embassy. And in the case of Egypt for the Christian community there and to make sure that those governments are doing everything they can to protect our diplomatic establishment.
I think you know, Erin, that under international law, the Vienna Convention, is the Egyptian government is responsible for the security of the American embassy in Cairo, the Libyan government responsible for the American consulate in Benghazi.
BURNETT: Yes. Thank you very much, sir. We really appreciate your time tonight.
And ahead on OUTFRONT, the other major story of the day, the Fed taking new action to try to jump start the economy, and a major reaction to that.
And why is Congressman Barney Frank fighting back with this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. BARNEY FRANK (D), MASSACHUSETTS: That I think is the spirit of Uncle Tom. You accept the injury as long as they are not insulting you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Well, there is another story today. Stocks surged, thanks to the Fed. Ben Bernanke surprised a market which was actually not expecting him to take action to try to juice the economy by taking even bigger action to juice the economy.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BEN BERNANKE, FEDERAL RESERVE CHAIRMAN: But what we're trying to convey here is that we're not going to be premature in removing policy accommodation. Even after the economy starts to recover more quickly, even after the unemployment rate begins to move down more decisively, we're not going to rush to begin to tighten policy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: The fed says it's going to buy $40 billion a month in mortgage-backed securities by the end of the year, and the goal is to push interest rates even lower. Ben Bernanke said he's going to keep interest rates low through mid-2015.
Now, as we've mentioned on this program, the Fed drugs don't come cheap. It has several rounds of stimulus and the price tag is about $3 trillion. The question is, it going to pay off?
OUTFRONT tonight as part of our in-depth look at issues that affects the 2012 elections, Jim Bianco, president of Bianco Research.
Jim, always good to see you.
JIM BIANCO, BIANCO RESEARCH: Thanks for having me.
BURNETT: So -- I know you knew they were going to do something and they came out and did more than almost anybody thought. What's your thought? Was this a home run or not?
BIANCO: Well, it depends on what side of the fence you sit on. This was a gigantic move by the Fed because it's open ended. It can go on for years and we won't know when it's going to end. If you're a stock investor, this is a home run for you. The stock market was up big. And it's a big positive for it.
If you're somebody looking for a job or looking to buy a house or looking for your house to go up in price, the first couple rounds of quantitative easing, the jury is out on whether or not it worked. I don't think it did. The Fed differs with me. And we'll have to see whether or not this round of quantitative easing will actually produce jobs and maybe higher home prices.
BURNETT: And so, let me ask you this, the fear about the quantitative easing is it's going to create inflation and the Fed says, look, that is not a problem right now -- at least in most areas. So we have nothing to worry about.
But many are worried about it. Should they be?
BIANCO: I think they should be. You've got to keep in mind the definition of inflation in 2012. The Fed has said that they are targeted for inflation is 2 percent. So, if we saw inflation creep up to 3 percent, that would be too much. So, we're not talking about the 1980s where we have to get to 15 or something along those lines, just 3 percent. I think that's possible that we could see that down the road especially if the economy starts to recover and then the Fed would have to reverse this and these big days in the stock market would become big down days in the stock market.
BURNETT: For those invested in the stock market that would be bad. The stock market benefited, the Fed has benefited some of the few and wealthier.
One thing I want to ask you, Jim, though, part of the reason Ben Bernanke has had to do this and use his blunt tool that he can is because Washington did not and I asked Barney Frank earlier today about the Fed's decision and whether he felt it was as a result of he and Congress's failure. Here's what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FRANK: So I agree this is a failure of Congress. To Ben Bernanke's credit he's not saying OK therefore I'm not going to do nothing. He's correctly saying I'm doing this as a default you guys should have been doing it yourselves.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Does Congress need to do anything?
BIANCO: Oh, I think Congress needs to do a lot, so much so that the Fed needs to back off. Bernanke said in his press conference today twice he worried he didn't have the tools to deal with the fiscal cliff if it came to pass. If the fiscal cliff came to pass, it's a choice by our elected officials to have it come to pass. The Fed said, no, we don't like that policy so we'll change it.
I wonder if that's really his call. If we decide to do something dumb, we've decided to do something dumb much -- it's not for the Fed to say, hey, I'll protect you from yourself. He's creeping over an area that's going to be a little dicey for the Fed becoming very political.
BURNETT: Well, that is something unfortunately, as we've all seen lately started to happen, pretty tragic. Thanks very much to Jim Bianco.
Well, you just heard Congressman Frank talking about the Fed. But he is also in a feud with the Log Cabin Republicans. It's a grassroots organization that backs LGBT rights. Frank is openly gay and he is married now and recently criticized the group for its support of the GOP.
So here's what Frank originally said and why he stands by what was a very controversial comment.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
FRANK: I now understand why they call themselves the Log Cabin Republicans, their role model is Uncle Tom.
BURNETT: We reached out to them. They were very upset by that comparison you made to Uncle Tom.
They said your denial of Log Cabin Republicans success, I'm quoting them, particularly on "don't ask, don't tell" repeal and the freedom to marry in New York is sad but unsurprising. It's time for Barney Frank to pass on the baton to leaders better suited to a world where equality is not a partisan issue.
What's your reaction to that?
BARNEY: They explained, Mr. Cooper, whom you just quoted, that they are very pleased because Mr. Ryan, Representative Ryan, is willing to engage with them and the Republicans have not been calling us as many names. Well, when you accept an inferior status for people who want to give you and inferior status but say it's OK, they won't call me names, that I think is the spirit of Uncle Tom.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
BURNETT: The Log Cabin Republicans also let us know today that they have not yet endorsed Mitt Romney.
Well, next, imagine living your life and never having to worry about time. With all that's happened in the Middle East and with the man who lost his life serving his country, it made us think deeply about how we spend every minute. That's next.
BURNETT: This week, the violence in the Middle East and the death of innocent people who had dedicated their lives to making a defense is making all of us reflect on how we live, on whether we are spending our lives how we should, doing the jobs that we should. This is something best selling author, Mitch Albom thinks a lot about. His new book is titled "The Time Keeper." And, of course, he's also the author of "Tuesdays with Morrie."
Mitch Albom is OUTFRONT tonight.
And we're very luck to have you. Your book, obviously, now just hit number one on the bestseller list. But this week, you know, the nation's really been riveted by what's happened in the Middle East and these attacks against American interest across north Africa and now broadly in the Middle East. We have heard a lot about Ambassador Chris Stevens.
It's really struck me, he's the man -- he just loved what he did. He was dedicated with every part of his soul and his heart. You're writing a book -- your book is about making the most of your life, every minute of it. It sort of seems like Chris Stevens is someone you are talking about.
MITCH ALBOM, AUTHOR: Yes, it seems to me that we are so infatuated with time and going faster and living longer and being more efficient but not always making the time count. It seems like everybody I know is less happy and living longer. He seemed like someone who was doing something he loved.
This book I wrote "The Time Keeper" is sort of like a parable, almost a fable like the five people you meet in heaven. Pretty simple concept about Father Time, being the first person that invented time many, many years ago and he is sort of punished for starting to count his time, because when we count time, we begin to count our time down.
And he ends coming to earth in our time here and seeing the world that we have. Ironically, I'm in a news channel where everything goes so rocket fast.
BURNETT: And every second is counted.
ALBOM: Exactly. He sort of has to teach two people, a young person and an old person, what the true meaning of time is. I think the true meaning of time has a lot more to do with making the hours count than counting the hours, which we do a lot of.
BURNETT: When we think about Chris Stevens, he dies n the middle, it was he didn't accomplish what he wanted to accomplish. But it sounded like he was sort of like the person if he was going to die, he would have wanted to die doing what he loved.
BURNETT: And there's not -- sometimes when you think about it, I look at him and I hear about him and I don't know that everybody can say that. Most of us might not be able to say that. So, in a sense, he was a very blessed man.
ALBOM: I learned that at Morrie Schwartz' side when I was writing "Tuesdays with Morrie," about living a life not having regrets. And I carry it even into this book. There's a little exchange in the book where Father Time is talking to an old man who wants to freeze himself and come back and live another 100 years.
ALBOM: And he says, no, there is a reason that your time is limited on earth. He said, what's the reason? The answer is to make each day precious.
And when you think about it, it is the beautiful equation of life. It's tragic, but it works. If we had forever to live, nothing would matter because we'd never have to make a choice as to what we do with our time. But because our days are limited, as we've just seen in these tragic stories and we see everyday, it's how you choose to spend your time that determines the quality of your life.
You could live 100 years and do absolutely nothing worthwhile or you can live 38 or 40 or 15 or whatever and impact the world. And I think it has to do with how you are going to choose to spend your time.
BURNETT: And appreciating it.
One of the things that inspired you to write this book was actually spending time with people who don't have anything in the way of material possessions, in Haiti.
ALBOM: In Haiti, yes. After the earthquake, I got involved with an orphanage down there and eventually, we took over the operations. I know go once a month for three or four days. It is amazing. The watch comes off, there's no cell phones, there's no computers, just children who are -- want to eat, want to be loved, want to learn.
And you have no idea what time it is. And you realize, there are parts of the world that don't go at the frenetic pace that we live out here in America.
ALBOM: And it's a good reminder.
BURNETT: You write about spiritual things but not from a religious perspective. You have described yourself as secular. But, you know, the last few days, we've seen all the deaths and attacks, thanks to, well, frankly, religion.
BURNETT: You know, Islam, Judaism, Christianity. How does your book apply to people whose most important fight is for religion, killing for it, buying for it unnecessarily?
ALBOM: I think in all of my books, and I wrote a book about faith just previously, "Have A Little Faith," basically say, you know, religion and faith is not meant to spread hate, OK? People who do, they're not practicing faith. They're practicing hate.
And at the core of all religions truly practiced is love. If you can get to that, then you won't end up seeing this violence. You know, people can do a lot of things in the name of. That doesn't mean it is being done purely and honestly.
I think faith is a very good thing when practiced purely. There's more -- they have more things in common than different. People have to see the world that way.
BURNETT: All right. Mitch, thanks so much. Great to see you. Appreciate it.
ALBOM: Thank you, Erin.
BURNETT: A person with the right perspective on all of this.
ALBOM: I appreciate that.
BURNETT: Thanks for your time.
Ahead, McDonald's -- a big change, but does it add up? (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
BURNETT: So, McDonald's says it wants to help you get healthy. They are going to change their menu to help you. So, all the food is going to stay the same the McDonald's but starting next week, they will start posting calorie totals for each item and they want to match the success of other chains that have started to do that.
So, when the chain Panera Bread added a calorie count, they noticed 20 percent of customers started ordering lower calorie items.
Pretty interesting though, McDonald's southwest salad with chicken had more calories than the double cheeseburger.
All right. That brings us to tonight's number: six -- which is the number of months until New York City's ban on large sodas kick in. The board of health unanimously approved the mayor's ban on large sodas and other sugary drinks, street carts and movie theaters. We're not sure how effective it will be because fruit juices, milk shakes and alcohol are all exempt.
But the bottom line is, you know, maybe we need more bans to stay healthy, because, you know, some of the bad food tastes too good to resist.
Thanks for watching. Anderson starts now.