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ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT

Obama's U.N. Speech; Interview with Senator Christopher Coons; Foreign Aid Plan; Deport or Work Permit; Interview with Mali Prime Minister Cheick Modibo Diarra

Aired September 25, 2012 - 19:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


ERIN BURNETT, HOST: OUTFRONT next 14 days after the U.S. ambassador was killed in Libya, President Obama goes before the U.N. with a call for justice, but why isn't the United States any closer to getting it?

GOP candidate Mitt Romney got another compliment from President Clinton today. This time, though -- maybe not much help.

And it's been about 24 hours. And NFL fans are still outraged by a call made by a replacement ref in last night's Packer-Seahawks game. Even Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker pleads he wants the real refs back, hey, and they're in a union! What will it take?

Let's go OUTFRONT.

Good evening, everyone. I'm Erin Burnett. OUTFRONT tonight, Obama vows he'll get the killers. Today the president spent 24 minutes of his half-hour speech to the United Nations talking about Libya, the Middle East and Ambassador Chris Stevens. The speech, which was seen by American voters and viewers around the world, mentioned Stevens 12 times as the president paid tribute to him right from the start.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Chris Stevens loved his work. He took pride in the country he served, and he saw dignity in the people that he met. And two weeks ago he traveled to Benghazi to review plans to establish a new cultural center and modernize a hospital. That's when America's compound came under attack.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: That's the first we learned about exactly what Stevens was doing in Benghazi, a city the U.S. had been warned was not safe. And the president continued in his speech vowing to find the killers.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: The attacks on the civilians in Benghazi were attacks on America. We are grateful for the assistance we received from the Libyan government and from the Libyan people. There should be no doubt that we will be relentless in tracking down the killers and bringing them to justice.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: Relentless in tracking down the killers and bringing them to justice. It's a promise. But does that promise add up? It has been 14 days since the American ambassador to Libya and three other Americans were killed. And we still don't know why, and we still don't know who did it. And what we do know, from our reporting here at CNN, is this. In terms of a warning, three days before Stevens was killed, the Libyan military told senior U.S. Embassy officials that it couldn't control local militias. The Libyans advised the Americans to decrease their presence in Benghazi. And the Libyans say the U.S. Embassy officials did not ask for more security at that meeting.

And as CNN has reported, sources familiar with Chris Stevens' thinking say he was worried about the security threats in Benghazi and in Libya and he was concerned that he could be a target. In terms of whether the attacks were preplanned, Libyan officials have since day one said that attack was preplanned. Now, so far the U.S. government response has frankly been confusing. U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice has said the attacks were not preplanned. Secretary Clinton said she had absolutely no information or reason to believe there is any basis to suggest that the U.S. ambassador was on an al Qaeda hit list as a target.

The State Department said U.S. officials at that post never passed along the warning from the Libyan government on militias and security in Benghazi. Now the administration appears to be backtracking a little bit, at least on the assertion about whether the attack was preplanned or not. But the take-away right now from the administration, when you take a step back and look at all of this information and the conflicts in the information, appears to be this. The Americans on the ground failed to tell Washington about the risks, so it isn't the State Department's fault that they didn't stop it.

Well, why so much confusion? Senator Chris Coons is on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, he has been briefed on the situation. And first, sir, thank you very much for taking the time. Let me just start and ask you, since I know you have been briefed and know everything that there is to know from intelligence officials. Why don't we have more answers yet?

SEN. CHRISTOPHER COONS (D-DE), SENATE FOREIGN RELATIONS COMMITTEE: Well, Erin, first, thank you for the opportunity to be on. And let's focus on what President Obama said today at the U.N. meeting at the general -- the meeting of the U.N. General Assembly. He laid out in a strong and clear speech that America is determined under his leadership to make sure that those who killed our ambassador to Libya and three other Americans will be brought to justice. That is a statement that has weight and credibility, because he has successfully led the hunt for Osama bin Laden and an effort over several years to deliver withering attacks at the leadership of al Qaeda.

I have been, as many other senators have been, a participant in a secure, classified briefing, and I can't talk very much about the details of what we were told there. But I will tell you that I am comfortable that the secretary of state, the secretary of defense, the FBI promptly launched a thorough and searching investigation on the ground in Benghazi to learn exactly what happened and what was a chaotic and confusing situation. And I am confident that we continue to have a leadership role in the world as the president laid out today in front of the United Nations, rooted in American values, but that will not allow Islamist jihadist terrorists to push us back out of the region.

BURNETT: So when you say that you're confident in what is happening on the ground, let me put the question directly to you, then. Why is that when that CNN was in the consulate days after the horrible attack that they found that the -- the diary of Ambassador Stevens' thoughts and his fears and not the U.S. investigators. Why weren't they the ones who found something like that which was -- was just lying there?

COONS: That's an excellent question. We did not get briefed on the specifics of CNN's acquisition and use of the private diary of Ambassador Stevens. That wasn't one of the topics on which we were briefed. That does raise a real question about the appropriateness of the use of material from a private diary. But it does, as you put it, raise a question. If it was just actually lying out in the open was there in fact appropriate efforts to secure the consulate?

One of the larger points I hope watchers take into mind is that we rely on host country police and national military forces to secure our embassies and consulates around the world. We have seen a whole wave of protests in countries around the region. And frankly, the cooperation we've gotten from the Libyan national government after this tragic event has, as the president said, been positive.

BURNETT: Right.

COONS: But it was deeply concerning that in other parts of the region we didn't get the support and the response we hoped for and expect from allies and partners of the United States.

BURNETT: And I know there's been a lot of questions about that as well. What about, though, the take-away that I laid out at the top, which some people are coming to this conclusion. You know, when the Libyan government from the beginning said this was pre-planned and first Susan Rice and then Jay Carney said it was not preplanned, although obviously there has been a little bit of change in the position from the administration on that front. But that -- and when there were the warnings given by Libyan officials to American Embassy officials on the ground, the State Department says they were never made aware of those. Now, all of that may be completely true. But doesn't it lend itself to this situation or impression that the State Department is trying to say, well, we didn't know. And because no one told us, you can't hold us accountable for what happened on the ground.

COONS: Erin, I think what's going to matter here is the conclusions that come out from a thorough and searching forensic review of the evidence on the ground. Now that there are FBI intelligence community and diplomatic security forces in place, reviewing the details, interrogating suspects, working in partnership with the Libyan national government, I'm confident that when the Senate returns to session in November, we will get a thorough briefing on the lessons learned from this tragic incident and on what we should be doing going forward to ensure security for U.S. diplomats and representatives in this uncertain and troubled part of the world.

But let me be clear about this. This tragedy, this loss of an American ambassador and three others shouldn't be made part of the partisan fight that is our presidential election and other elections around the country. And I think it is difficult at times, frankly regrettable that some candidates have tried to seek political gain in characterizing this one way or the other. I really think what we should be focusing on is the important lessons we can learn from this, and sustaining America's engagement in a critical part of the world, whereas you know, there are so many other places that demand and need our attention and engagement.

BURNETT: Yes, there are and I know you spend a lot of time focusing on those, as well. Senator Coons, thank you very much. One of them of course is Mali and we'll be joined exclusively by the prime minister of Mali later on in the program.

Also in the speech today, the president used his platform to lay out his successes in foreign policy over the past four years. It was a very specific list, but does it add up?

And Mitt Romney took a stab at a vision for foreign policy and says there should be very specific conditions for a country to get foreign aid from the United States.

And a college student nearly dies after consuming alcohol. But how he got it into his body might shock you.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BURNETT: Our second story OUTFRONT, Mitt Romney and President Clinton playing -- playing nice. The former president gave Romney a warm introduction today at the Clinton Global Initiative, actually praising a service program that the Republican had supported and Romney returned the favor.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If there's one thing we've learned in this election season, by the way, it is that a few words from Bill Clinton can do a man a lot of good.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: Sort of a double-edged sword there, but nonetheless, a fun laugh line. Romney went on to lay out his plan on how he would change how this country gives foreign aid. He calls it a prosperity pact and it would attach more strings to the $50 billion America gives other countries every single year. But does it add up? Dan Senor is one of Romney's foreign policy advisers and I spoke with him a short while ago.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BURNETT: So "Politico" called this -- this had to be something -- I know you were obviously involved with this speech and this policy, quote "one of Romney's best-prepared and best-delivered speeches of the campaign." That was a win for you.

DAN SENOR, ROMNEY FOREIGN POLICY ADVISER: Yes, it was a good day. I mean he was talking about big ideas. He was talking about complete modernization of our foreign assistance programs, talking about the fact that while the international community gives about $120 billion a year to the developing world in assistance and development assistance, the truth is it's exponentially larger in terms of the funds that trade and foreign direct investment goes into the developing world and how can we get more bang for the buck by combining the power of the development assistance with conditions that make free enterprise successful.

BURNETT: Yes and it was -- I mean it was very specific on that. Now let me just throw up a screen because this is interesting. And obviously, you are not just a foreign policy adviser for Mitt Romney, but a direct adviser also on the question of Israel. So here are the places that receive the most U.S. foreign aid a year. Israel, obviously number one, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq and Egypt. Under President Romney, how would that lineup change?

SENOR: Well he's not getting into line items here about which particular country would get which amount of money. He's talking specifically about the mechanics, the framework through which we give money and how it's implemented and what are the conditions that are in place. So, for instance, if we want the power of free enterprise to advance the developing world, we have got to work to remove the barriers that make free enterprise successful in the developing world. Limits on free speech, limits on private property protections, limits on the rule of law --

BURNETT: (INAUDIBLE) dictatorships that are corrupt that put the money in Swiss bank accounts?

SENOR: So we've got to work with international institutions and our own development agencies and the international community to put tougher conditions on these countries when money is dispersed. So I'll give you a real live example that's going on right now.

BURNETT: OK.

SENOR: Egypt, right --

(CROSSTALK)

SENOR: So right now there is a question. Egypt is the second largest recipient of U.S. foreign aid, one of the top three recipients -- BURNETT: Yes.

SENOR: -- and there is a big transition in government. There's a Muslim Brotherhood president in place. Should we be giving foreign aid to Egypt, if they don't help us protect our diplomatic assets in -- diplomatic personnel in Egypt, maintain their commitment to Israel under the Camp David Accords. You know, help protect tolerance, minority rights in their own country and be a constructive player in the Middle East. So those are -- the questions you're asking are the sorts of questions that a Romney administration would ask before it dispenses funds all over the place.

BURNETT: So let's take Egypt, then, right now given what's happened, given the Egyptian government's response to the attacks in Cairo, given what's happened on the human rights front that a cleric who was chanting managed to sleep from the eyes of the Jews is now on the Human Rights Commission named by Morsi. So would a Romney administration have said look we're going to put aid on hold much like the Obama administration did for Pakistan? On hold --

SENOR: Yes.

BURNETT: So under Romney it would be on hold right now to Egypt and you're figuring out whether you're going to reinstate it.

SENOR: What the Romney administration would make clear is there are conditions. No country gets a blank check. If someone is working against American interests, and if a country is working against its own interests, interests of people in its own society, minorities, women, in the case of Egypt, Coptic Christians. You know we have to ask tough questions and the answers to those questions will dictate whether or not part of the funding is suspended or all of the funding is suspended. So right here and right now we would be having a real discussion with the Egyptian government about whether or not they're willing to meet these objectives and maintain these commitments.

BURNETT: So in the economic plan that Mitt Romney has put out he says he's going to reduce foreign aid and the numbers are this -- by about $100 million in savings is what he has suggested. That -- now this is interesting, OK? Obviously you know the math, right? So that's .18 percent of our total foreign aid budget and .003 percent of total government spending. So that doesn't sound like a real cost- cutting, money-saving proposal.

SENOR: So, look, what we need to do on foreign aid -- there's two issues here. We have a budget crisis. We have a fiscal cliff that we're creeping up upon --

BURNETT: Yes.

SENOR: -- so we've got to do real -- we've got to make real major changes to address those fiscal issues. And you are right. You can single out any individual program and say oh change it to that program isn't going to really -- you know it's going to be a nickel in a bucket. I mean -- but there are other issues here about the modernization of these programs. It's not just about cost savings. Cost savings is important --

(CROSSTALK)

SENOR: -- but it's also about how to make these programs more effective.

BURNETT: So you're not saying I'm coming out against aid or a Romney administration is against aid --

SENOR: Oh gosh no.

BURNETT: Because there are some who really want to stop aid all together --

(CROSSTALK)

BURNETT: -- except for maybe to Israel.

SENOR: So Governor Romney is not in that camp --

BURNETT: That's not you.

SENOR: Governor Romney supports a robust foreign aid program, a robust international assistance program. His only argument is these programs need to be modernized and they need to be coupled in the context of these prosperity pacts that we talked about. They need to be coupled with the other institutions that can really promote growth in the developing world, private property rights, free trade, all these other drivers of growth. Our aid -- it's almost like a turbo charging of the power of our aid if we pair it with these other drivers of economic growth. Right now they're not coordinated at all.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BURNETT: All right. There are many sides to the illegal immigration fight and we are going to bring you two very, very personal stories. And the complaints about the replacement refs in the NFL, oh no doubt you have heard the belly-aching today. What will it take to get the real refs back on the field?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BURNETT: Our third story OUTFRONT, deport them or give them a work permit. So one of the issues sharply dividing President Obama and Mitt Romney this election is illegal immigration. The president recently launching a program granting work permits and temporary legal status to millions of young illegal immigrants. Romney, though, meantime favoring strict enforcement of the law, and encouraging illegal immigrants to self-deport. Casey Wian went OUTFRONT to find two stories you need to hear.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Angelica Hernandez was 9 when she first crossed the border with her mother and sister. ANGELICA HERNANDEZ, UNDOCUMENTED STUDENT: I still remember crossing the desert. I mean to sleep in the desert because it was getting too late and we had been walking for hours. And my mom would hold, you know, my sister in one arm and me on the other arm. And you know just prayed that nothing would happen.

WIAN: But their human smuggler was pulled over for speeding and they were deported. Their second crossing succeeded. Entering school as a fourth grader, Hernandez was teased because she spoke no English. Pinal County Arizona Sheriff Paul Babeu has spent much of his military and law enforcement career battling human smugglers. Deputies in his county 70 miles north of the border last year engaged in 350 high- speed pursuits involving drug and human smugglers.

PAUL BABEU, PINAL COUNTY SHERIFF: They look at these people, these humans as product. They don't care about their safety. They'll leave them for dead. They get in a wreck and just walk away.

WIAN: Babeu strongly supports Arizona laws cracking down on illegal immigration.

BABEU: The impact has been so tremendous, not only billions of dollars in impact to our budget, but the crimes that are associated. Many crimes committed against the illegals themselves.

WIAN: The sheriff and the student, one trying to enforce the law, the other trying to stay a step ahead of it. Angelica Hernandez, the little girl who couldn't speak English this week begins work on her master's degree at Stanford.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE)

WIAN: Hernandez graduated from Arizona State, despite losing a scholarship twice because of Arizona laws restricting benefits for illegal immigrants.

HERNANDEZ: Being undocumented, it's something that gives you so many different qualities and strengthens you, because you learn to overcome so many things.

WIAN: Now she is filling out paperwork to apply for President Obama's deferred action program, giving temporary legal status to young, illegal immigrants.

HERNANDEZ: It is an election year, so we don't know if he did it because of that or you know he's trying to get the Latino vote. But in the end, we knew it was a win for us.

WIAN: Not for Babeu, who sees it as an unenforceable federal mandate and another lure bringing hundreds of thousands of people through his county illegally.

BABEU: President Obama wants to talk about what do we do with these 10 to 20 million people? Well, a lot of Americans, including myself, say before we have that discussion, let's secure the border. We as a country have not enforced the law and because of that we're at the situation we're at today.

WIAN: Hernandez is ineligible for a driver's license in Arizona. On this day, she is going to have her photo taken for her deferred action application, essentially breaking the law to become legal. She worries Mitt Romney would end the deferred action program, leaving her ineligible for the job she wants in alternative energy when she finishes grad school. Babeu worries President Obama will legalize more illegal immigrants and keep his deputies busy chasing smugglers.

Casey Wian, CNN, Pinal County, Arizona.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BURNETT: President Obama has laid out his foreign policy successes in his U.N. address. He listed them out. So we're going to ask whether they add up.

And Apple cofounder Steve Wozniak wants to move to Australia. He wants to become a citizen. We'll tell you why.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BURNETT: We start the second half of our show with stories we care about, where we focus on our reporting from the front lines.

Here's one for you. Self-driving cars are now allowed on California roads. Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill today that sets up regulations and guidelines to test driverless cars. Brown signed it at Google headquarters.

Google has been a big supporter of the self-controlled cars. Google co-founder Sergey Brin says he hopes people will be able to use this technology in the next few years. He find that terrifying.

All right. Well, actually, no, so many people are terrible drivers. Maybe this will make it better.

Thousands of anti austerity protesters took to the streets of Spain today, gathering at Neptune Plaza, which in front of the country's congressional buildings. A police spokesman says 28 people were hurt, 22 arrested, and the crowd gathered was 6,000 people. The protests come days before the Spanish government announces its budget for next year and a package that will likely include more austerity measures.

An analyst we spoke to said the next few days will be crucial, not just for Spain, but for Europe as a whole as to whether it can stay together.

Well, the Ecuadoran mission to the United Nations confirms to CNN that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange will speak via video link at a side line meeting to the U.N. General Assembly. Now, this is being hosted by the Ecuadorian foreign minister. It's a way for Assange to address the U.N. about diplomatic asylum.

He has been staying, as you may be aware at the Ecuadorian embassy in London. He's trying to avoid extradition to Sweden where authorities want to question him about sexual assault allegations.

And so, good news on the economy today. Home prices are on the rise. There an index that tracks home prices in the 20 biggest American cities and it was up 1.2 percent for the month of July. Economists from the IHS Global Insight tell us there's a few reasons places are starting to go back up again in this country. Lower interest rates is among them, but it's also lower inventory in some cities, and a drop in the share of distressed sales. That's a drop in sales of foreclosed homes.

Well, it's been 418 days since this country lost its top credit rating. What are we doing to get it back?

Well, this will help. We've got more good news on the consumer front today, an index of how confident we are rose to 70.3 in September. And the reason that's important is it's above the 63 that economists were looking for.

BURNETT: And now our fourth story OUTFRONT: Is America safer than it was four years ago? Today, the president used the podium at the U.N. to make the case that he is a big-time winner when it comes to keeping America safe.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The war in Iraq is over. American troops have come home. We have begun a transition in Afghanistan. And America and our allies will end our war on schedule in 2014.

Al Qaeda has been weakened, and Osama bin Laden is no more. Nations have come together to lock down nuclear materials, and America and Russia are reducing our arsenals.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: All right. There are the claims. Now, clearly the line about Osama bin Laden being dead is true. But are we better off? Do the president's claims add up?

OUTFRONT tonight, Robert O'Brien, a member of Mitt Romney's foreign policy and national security advisory team, and Colin Kahl, a foreign policy surrogate for the Obama campaign.

All right. Great to see both of you.

Let's go through the key claims here. The first one the president said, in his words, al Qaeda is weakened. There is no question, of course, that al Qaeda suffered significant licenses overall with key leaders being killed along with, of course, Osama bin Laden. But al Qaeda-linked groups are growing elsewhere, specifically in Libya and North Africa, as we have seen on the ground.

So has al Qaeda been weakened? Are we safer than we were before? Robert? ROBERT O'BRIEN, ROMNEY CAMPAIGN FOREIGN POLICY ADVISER: Well, that speech today had -- thank you, Erin -- had a real "Back to the Future" feel to it, and it wasn't good. I mean, the last three years that the president has come to the U.N., he has talked to Iran, Syria and the peace process. And he's been a failure in all three of those areas.

Iran's three years closer to a nuclear weapon. Last year with respect to Syria, he said that Bashar al Assad has to go, and yet Assad is still in Syria and we can't get a U.N. resolution past of the Security Council. And the peace process is bottled up because Hamas, which is supported by Iran, has stopped the peace process.

So he listed out a couple of successes. Osama bin Laden's dead, we congratulate the president on that, it was a call. It was the SEALs that took out Osama bin Laden. But as we saw with the assassination of Ambassador Chris Stevens, I thought your piece earlier tonight on that was excellent. Al Qaeda is very much alive. They attacked us on September 11th and they killed an American ambassador for the first time since 1979.

And instead of acknowledging that, the administration sent Susan Rice out to tell everybody it was because of some YouTube clip.

So today's speech was not a great moment in the Obama presidency. That's for sure.

BURNETT: Colin, what do you take -- think about this claim that al Qaeda is weakened? Certainly in some regards it is, at least when it comes to Afghanistan. But in Africa, extremist groups that are linked to al Qaeda in some way, shape or form, they are certainly on the rise. So what do you think about the truth of the statement overall?

COLIN KAHL, OBAMA FOREIGN POLICY SURROGATE: It's absolutely true. It's objectively true. Besides the fact that Osama bin Laden is now dead, more senior leaders in al Qaeda have been removed from the battlefield in the last three-and-a-half years than in any comparable period since 9/11. And it's not just in Afghanistan and Pakistan. It's also in Yemen, it's in Somalia. And it's -- and it's elsewhere.

So I think you're right that there are still affiliates of al Qaeda that are active, and we still relentlessly pursue them. But there is no question that al Qaeda is a weaker organization today than when President Obama took office, and I think that the American people know that. And that's one of the reasons why they express such high confidence in his leadership.

BURNETT: All right. I want to move on to the second claim. I will let our viewers know, the prime minister of Mali, of course, where al Qaeda is active right now is going to be on with his view of how the U.S. has handled it in a few moments.

But let's talk about this, what the president said, Colin. We have begun our transition out of Afghanistan, and the war will end on schedule in 2014. Of course, last week we heard that the American surge troops are heading home, but we have 70,000 troops still on the ground.

So would you say that we're on schedule?

KAHL: I think we are on schedule. The president has made clear, and our NATO allies and other coalition partners in Afghanistan have agreed that we will transition out of the current mission by the end of 2014, our combat forces will be home. I should -- I should mention, this is also a position that Governor Romney supports, although he's zigged and zagged all over on Afghanistan. He's come around to endorsing the president's position.

Although I will say that Governor Romney hasn't spent a lot of time explaining what his position on Afghanistan is, other than agreeing with the president. In fact, if you'll remember, Romney forgot to mention the war during his convention speech, which is the first time that's happened in 50 years.

BURNETT: Robert, let me ask you something about Afghanistan, on the flip side of this. So as the president is sticking to his timetable, we have seen a rise in green-on-blue attacks in Afghanistan. These, of course, are attacks by Afghan supposed partners who are being trained by or working with American troops. We have seen 32 Americans killed in those attacks this year, 50 coalition forces.

There was no mention of that in the president's speech. Should there have been?

O'BRIEN: There should have been. And the president should be explaining why these attacks are happening. It's heartbreaking for our servicemen and women, the young and women. They are out fighting for us on the frontiers of freedom to be attacked in this manner.

And I want to get back to something that Colin said, and that is that Governor Romney hasn't explained his policy on Afghanistan. He has. He's been there several times, I was with him a year ago.

And what he said is that we need to listen to the generals, we need to give them the resources necessary to get the job done and to win in Afghanistan. And then we can come home, having finished the job.

Unfortunately, this administration, because it's been driven by a partisan political calendar, has not listened to the generals. And, in fact, when President Obama authorized the surge, which I supported and congratulated him on the right policy at the time --

BURNETT: OK.

O'BRIEN: -- he announced the withdrawal date. So the Taliban sat back and knew when we'd leave. One of the reasons we have this green-on-blue violence in the insider attacks, we're asking servicemen and women to do more with less. We don't have enough on the ground to provide the force protection we need. And that's a shame. BURNETT: All right. Well, let us know on Twitter, everyone, and what you think. And, of course, on our Facebook page. Did the president's claims add up or not?

And now, we want to go to Tennessee where a college student nearly died after consuming large amounts of alcohol through a rather unconventional and disturbing way, an enema. The University of Tennessee student was taken to the hospital in critical condition with a blood alcohol level over 4.0.

Tonight, he's out of the hospital, but the university's Phi Kappa Alpha fraternity, apologies, has been suspended amid an investigation.

Our George Howell is OUTFRONT tonight following an investigation. And, George, I appreciate your taking the time. It's a really disturbing story, a disturbing image to imagine this happening. So what exactly went down?

GEORGE HOWELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Erin, these facts disturbing, to say the least. As you mentioned, a blood alcohol level of .40. That is five times the legal limit.

Investigators are looking into it, trying to get to the bottom of it. They believe that Alex Broaden (ph) used an alcohol enema to get more alcohol into his system.

Now, I want to read this statement from police. They kind of break it down as the way they see it happening. "Upon extensive questioning, it is believed that members of the fraternity were using rubber tubing inserted into their rectums as a conduit for alcohol, as the abundance of capillaries and blood vessels present greatly heightens the level and speed of the alcohol entering the bloodstream as it bypasses the filtering by the liver.

Now, I do want to mention that we've heard from Broaden's father. He indicated that that is not the way it happened. He said that his son is out of the hospital and back in school.

But we also talked, Erin, to several doctors, who gave us a different interpretation of how this happened. First of all, they say that the alcohol absorption rate would be the same, whether you drink alcohol or by method of this way, the alcohol absorption is the same. The difference is you get more alcohol into your system.

And that is the problem here. So much alcohol, again, .40, five times the legal limit. And that's what he had to deal with that night.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, George Howell. Very disturbing and bizarre story.

The Malian prime minister is talking about getting rid of Islamist and al Qaeda-linked rebels that have taken over part of the country with goals to attack America and Europe.

And the NFL's replacement refs made a call that decided a game and has football fans outraged. So should the real refs get what they want to come back on the job?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BURNETT: All right. Another tech mogul who wants to, well, adjust the country he lives in. Remember in May when Facebook cofounder Eduardo Saverin renounced his U.S. citizenship to take up residence in the tax-friendly land of Singapore? Well, he's peanuts to compare to this guy. In an interview with the "Australian Financial Review," Apple cofounder Steve Wozniak announced he's under way to become an Australian citizen, saying, "I intend to call myself an Australian and feel an Australian, and study the history and become as much of a real citizen here as I can."

Now, we're not sure which Australian he plans to feel, but he sounds pretty serious about this. However, unlike Saverin, it should be noted Woz won't be giving up his American citizenship. He's just going to become a dual citizen, adding Australia. And he's not moving for tax reasons.

Which brings us to tonight's number: $38 billion. That is the amount of money Australia is spending to build a national broadband network of affordable high-speed Internet access. Now, the plan is set to be completed by 2021. It's going to offer uniform pricing around Australia. So every single community, whether you live in an urban or rural community, has access.

And Woz really likes this, because he says the options are currently available to him in California, or a monopoly he doesn't like them. Hey, you know, if that's the way you feel about your cable provider, go ahead and move to Australia. We can't all do that.

But this is the second American innovator to look to other countries this year. And it's not good for the U.S. because, you know, I'm not a genius like the Woz, but a country that is a cheap broadband and might I add, 1 million of the greatest creatures on earth -- yes. Camels live there -- can't be all that bad. Maybe I'll have to follow. Woz to Oz.

All right. And now let's get to our outer circle where we reach out to sources around the world.

And we have an exclusive conversation tonight about al Qaeda rising. Islamic radicals are gaining power in Africa with their goal to attack Europe. That's what the prime minister of Mali told me tonight. They already controlled two-thirds of his country.

And Prime Minister Cheick Modibo Diarra came OUTFRONT and told me he's in New York right now asking for help from America and the United Nations to stop the radicals.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CHEICK MODIBO DIARRA, PRIME MINISTER, REPUBLIC OF MALI: Right now, actually, the most urgent need the United States could assist us with is training for our troops to be able to understand what are the most recent antiterrorist tactics. And there, you know, I think the whole international community needs to get involved. And the United States, certainly, can help with equipment, logistics, but also with intelligence.

BURNETT: And when we were on the Mali border this summer, the situation was getting worse. And some of the stories we heard were -- I mean, frankly, atrocious. We talked to people who had fled, seeing friends on the street stomped to death by the Islamists, people whose stomachs have been gutted out. There have been horrible reports of amputees, I mean, truly awful things that had been happening at the hands of these radical Islamists, al Qaeda-linked groups.

What are they doing once they take over the territory?

DIARRA: When they take over the territory, the thing is that most of these guys don't really even have a good understanding of religion. They just take over the place and they are nothing but really bandits.

BURNETT: Every fighter we saw there said the weapons that the radicals were using, the RPGs, the guns, had come from Libya.

DIARRA: Libya.

BURNETT: Is that your belief of what happened? That those are the weapons that then came into Mali? And cost you a country.

DIARRA: That is true. There were a lot of bands roaming there, but there were not these sophisticated when it comes to weaponry. We had a very sophisticated weapon from the Libyan army smuggled into the Malian desert by groups. And they have now taken foothold and don't want to let go.

And it is so -- those weapons are so sophisticated that the Malian army really doesn't stand a chance to fight against them.

BURNETT: When you say they don't stand a chance, is it fair to say if the United States and the U.N. do not get involved, do not help you as you've been asking, that they could take over the entire country, they could take over other countries?

DIARRA: Actually, we are at the point now that every night I'm worried that this guy would have the idea to come a little further south, because they know that our army, even though people have the will to fight, doesn't have the weapon to face these guys.

BURNETT: And one final question for you. Some of the fighters that we spoke with spoke about -- and said they had proof that some of the aid coming to these Islamic radicals was coming from places like Qatar in the Gulf, that they were providing them with weapons, providing them with money. Is that also your understanding?

DIARRA: Until it's proven wrong, that is the only information I have today. I don't have specific proof of it but it has come from so many sources that I give it some credence.

BURNETT: Prime Minister, thank you very much. DIARRA: Thank you for having me here. And especially thank you for featuring us so that people don't forget us. Thank you.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BURNETT: And now our fifth story: the number one thing being talked about today is not the Middle East, not the election. No, this is America. For a moment, there was more talk of peace from political adversaries than actual peace talks at the U.N. because they all agreed on something and it was all because of this. The controversial call during last night's game between the Green Bay Packers and the Seattle Seahawks. Oh, there was the moment.

What looked like an interception by the Packers was ruled a touchdown for the Seahawks, giving them the victory. President Obama tweeted, "NFL fans on both sides of the aisle hope the refs lockout is settled soon." And Wisconsin's Republican Governor Scott Walker tweeted, "After catching a few hours of sleep, the Packers game is still just as painful. Return the real refs."

Hey, this is a guy who doesn't even like unions.

But vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan, you know, you just had to come in and nuke the kumbaya moment, didn't you?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), VICE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: It is time to get the real refs and you know what, it reminds me of President Obama and the economy. If you can't get it right, it's time to get out.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: All right. Well, other than that, if we all agree, what is the hold-up?

Sports writer Mitch Albom is OUTFRONT tonight. He, of course, is also the author of "The Time Keeper," currently the number one fiction book on "The New York Times" bestseller list.

Hey, Mitch, great to see you.

So, it's obviously been reported two sides are meeting today. What are the odds that this is going to get settled?

MITCH ALBOM, COLUMNIST, DETROIT FREE PRESS: Not so great. They are actually still pretty far apart. You would wonder why a league that makes $9 billion in revenue is worried about maybe about $10 million apart on a package for the referees. But it's a bit of a power struggle going on and those on the inside say even with all this controversy and these terrible -- it wasn't just that one, it was a whole weekend's worth of bad plays, it still may not be settled any time immediately.

BURNETT: All right. So, let's go through some of the sticking points, just because I found it so ironic that you have governors who don't like unions saying bring back the union refs. There was a lot of irony in it.

I know the league wants to do away with the pension plan, replace it with a 401(k) which is a different structure. They both disagree on whether the refs should be full-time and then salary is the big one. My understanding is the NFL has offered 7 percent salary increases which would raise the regular salary to these guys to $189,000 by 2018. I mean, that is good money, but they want a whole lot more than that.

So are they gluttons for not taking the $189,000 or -- in a league with $9 billion in revenue, should they be getting more?

ALBOM: You know, Erin, I think people get lost if they're going to spend time worrying about how much the salaries are. I actually think this has more to do with power. The NFL, one thing you didn't mention there is that they want to add a number of referees into the pool so that if they don't like the performance of a particular referee on a particular Sunday, they can sort of demote him and replace him with somebody else in the pool and this would take opportunities and money away from the referees.

That's a huge irony because here you have the whole nation up in arms on the fact that these guys aren't doing a good enough job because they're basically from small colleges and, the replacements, and the NFL's point says we want to make sure there's excellence in refereeing. So, they're allowing terribleness in refereeing while they're demanding excellence in refereeing. That's the irony in this.

BURNETT: Yes. And then the players also ironic, because I understand they are out there screaming and yelling and complaining and they're so upset about the situation, but the players union isn't sitting out in sympathy with the refs, they're not standing behind them. At least it doesn't seem that way.

ALBOM: That would be a first. They had enough trouble just getting on the field last year themselves. I don't think that they're going to worry about the referees.

But I will tell you something in all seriousness. They need to get this fixed because players -- every football player, there's in danger of permanent damage to a football player and referees have a lot to do with that. They set the tone as to what's tolerated on things like holding or head-to-head hits or certain kind of contact.

A number of NFL players have told me, hey, look, if we're going to get these replacement referees and they're not going to call these things, we're going to do it because if we don't, the other guys will. And what that creates a physical mayhem that could be danger to the players. If that happened, you'd hear a lot more than just the screaming over a touchdown that should have been or shouldn't have been and a win that was given to the wrong team.

BURNETT: Right. You certainly will. Of course, as I have to say, people love to complain about the refs, right, whether replacement refs or not.

All right. Mitch, great to see you.

ALBOM: Thanks.

BURNETT: Well, Rob Lowe, you know, he broke my heart for a few minutes. Fortunately, there was a new man that stepped up. And I'm going to tell you about him next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BURNETT: So last week, the actor Rob Lowe tweeted out that he thought I was a lefty who was using this show to help President Obama, carry the water for him I think were his words. His comments surprised me because when I interviewed him a couple years ago, we really hit it off. You may have seen us on Friday when we showed you that special moment.

After mentioning how fond I was of him on air last week, the Web site Mediaite even concocted a name for us. Burowe, Burnett and Lowe. (AUDIO GAP) or Lonett. But, you know, I still thought that Rob Lowe and I had something, you know? I was wrong.

Now, since we last discussed this on the show, I have heard absolutely nothing from Rob Lowe. He has not called. He has not tweeted. It has been a gaping hole of silence.

I don't want to be too dramatic here but, you know, Rob Lowe kind of broke my heart. I'm not going to lie. Things were tough for a few minutes.

That is until another man came into my life. Tall, handsome, funny, well-read and, well, just plain red. Last night I saw this. It was accompanied by a tweet which read, "My wife just found my creepy shrine to CNN's Erin Burnett."

And, Conan, all I have to say about this is there's nothing creepy about it. I have a fiance too, you know? And it's getting cold in New York. Who wouldn't want some hot cocoa?

"A.C. 360" starts right now.