Return to Transcripts main page


Broken Silence on Libyan Attack; Lyme Disease and Pythons

Aired September 28, 2012 - 19:00   ET


ERIN BURNETT, HOST: OUTFRONT next, U.S. intelligence breaks its public silence over what was known in the hours after the deadly attack in Libya. So how long before the White House confirms it?

And what do Burmese pythons and Lyme disease have to do with the presidential election? Well they appear to be each campaign's secret weapons.

And the murderous grisly end to the life of a young actor and the man who tried to get him help. His lawyer is OUTFRONT.

Let's go OUTFRONT.

Good evening, everyone. I'm Erin Burnett. OUTFRONT tonight, al- Qaeda, terrorist attack preplanned. Finally, U.S. intelligence broke its public silence on the attack in Libya where four Americans were killed. The spokesman for the direction of National Intelligence, Shawn Turner, said and I quote him, "it was a deliberate and organized terrorist attack carried out by extremists who were linked to groups affiliated with or sympathetic to al Qaeda."

Now, this follows reporting you've heard here this week indicating U.S. intelligence knew about links between the attackers and al Qaeda within 24 hours of the attack. That knowledge though was not shared by the White House or the State Department with the public or with Congress. In fact, Congress was briefed over a week ago on September 21st and at that time, not told about the al Qaeda links. In fact when Hillary Clinton speaking at the United Nations Wednesday, implied an al Qaeda link that we reported on, on this program the State Department later corrected her, saying she was speaking generally, not about the attack in Benghazi.

Now, U.S. intelligence sources tell CNN tonight that in the immediate aftermath, two very important words, immediate aftermath, of the attack, they thought the attack might have been, again their word, spontaneous. OK, this is going to be a crucial word to define. What exactly is immediate aftermath? Because the White House and the State Department stuck with the spontaneous version of events for eight days.


VICTORIA NULAND, STATE DEPT. SPOKESWOMAN: We are very cautious about drawing any conclusions with regard to who the perpetrators were, what their motivations were, whether it was premeditated.

SUSAN RICE, U.S. AMB. TO THE U.N.: This was not a preplanned, premeditated attack.

JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Based on the information that we had at the time and have to this day, we -- we do not have evidence that it was premeditated.


BURNETT: All right. These same people apparently knew a terrorist attack was perpetrated by al Qaeda within 24 hours of the attack, so the lack of information sharing does not seem to add up. Tonight, Representative Peter King is calling for the resignation of U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice for what he says was misleading comments about the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Libya. Yes, this issue has become political, but it is more than that because even if U.S. intelligence didn't know the specific details of an impending attack, here's what they and we did know.

Three days before the attack, senior U.S. Embassy officials were warned by the Libyan militia connected to the government that they couldn't secure Benghazi and they were frightened of what could happen there. They knew that Western interest had been targeted over the summer. The British ambassador in Libya was attacked in June and of course, the attack happened on September 11th, something that on that night seemed difficult to image as a coincidence.

And once again, once the attack happened, U.S. intelligence knew within 24 hours that it was linked to al Qaeda. Also, "The Daily Beast" Eli Lake reports they even knew the location of at least one of the attackers. Eli is with me tonight with new reporting on what U.S. intelligence knew in the immediate aftermath of the attack. Also with us is Geoff Porter, who is an adviser on political and security risks and North Africa Risk Consulting and Jeffrey Cozzens, a former military adviser on religious extremism. Great to see all of you.

And Eli, let me start with you. You have had so much of the first reporting on this and now you have some more information on when intelligence intercepted some of those communications in the immediate aftermath of the attack. What were the extremists, the attackers talking about?

ELI LAKE, SR. NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT, NEWSWEEK/DAILY BEAST: Well the conversations were between members of Ansar al Sharia, which is a local jihadist organization that might be call kind of an affinity for al Qaeda and shares many of its same goals and al Qaeda and the Islamic Maghreb, which is the al Qaeda affiliate for all of North Africa. And in those conversations that were monitored or picked up in the immediate aftermath of the attacks, there was a kind of bragging to -- from the Ansar al Sharia, the kind of local militia, to al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb middle manager types.

One source who had seen these intercepts described the relationship there as one where the middle managers from al Qaeda and the Islamic Maghreb were clearly the superior and Ansar al Sharia were the subordinate, though no one has concluded that al Qaeda and the Islamic Maghreb actually planned these attacks. One source has also described this that al Qaeda and the Islamic Maghreb played a kind of advisory role during and after the attacks, kind of playing the role of a coach or a big brother, if you will, giving advice on what to do in the aftermath. How to prompt this communication security and what to expect in terms of response from the United States.

BURNETT: And Eli, you've also reported of course that the United States intelligence knew of at least the location of perhaps one of the attackers. Do we have any idea where this person is now?

LAKE: Well there are some mixed reports. There were people who were arrested by the Libyan authorities in the aftermath, and there were some other individuals who are still believed to be at large who are identified as part of the attackers. All told, it looks like there were probably about 100 people who actually led a very advanced kind of military assault on the consulate and then the annex, which was about a half a mile away. So you're talking about a fairly sophisticated kind of attack as many other reports have shown, using mortars that were aimed very precisely --


LAKE: -- as well as rocket propelled grenades. In the aftermath, the United States had a bead on four and very good information on one. But there were also information and there was some activities obviously from the Libyan authorities as well.

BURNETT: All right, so let me ask you, Geoff Porter, about something that Eli just said. Advanced military assault, precision aimed rockets, this isn't something you just do because you feel like it.

GEOFF PORTER, CEO, NORTH AFRICA RISK CONSULTING: Right. You know, but it's important to understand about the Libyan security environment that it's very porous. There's abundant weaponry. That's all been stolen from Gadhafi's arsenals during the revolution.


PORTER: There is no security services. The Libyan state doesn't assert a monopoly on force. So, when we talk about preplanned, we have to decide whether it was something that had been planned months in advance, weeks in advance or was it something that was hastily put together, a couple of cell phone calls half an hour before. They knew that Ambassador Stevens was there. They knew it was a soft target --

BURNETT: And they seized the moment.

PORTER: And they seized the moment. So it may have been planned, but it may have been planned 30 minutes, 45 minutes beforehand.

BURNETT: Right. And then of course we get into the whole question of immediate aftermath.

PORTER: Right.

BURNETT: When did U.S. intelligence know exactly? When did they tell the White House, which obviously is going to become a crucial issue in terms of knew what, when and --

PORTER: Right.

BURNETT: -- who is to blame for any errors that may have happened. But Geoff, from your reporting and you've done a lot in terms of studying these jihadist and extremist groups, I mean you're talking -- what I find incredibly ironic here is that these groups that are linked to al Qaeda wanted Moammar Gadhafi to be killed. That was something that was actually accomplished by the United States, who are they are now trying to attack.

PORTER: That's right. They don't care who does their work for them so long as their work gets done, right? So yes, they wanted Gadhafi killed. And during the 1990's there was a group in Libya called the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group that was a (INAUDIBLE), the organization, they tried to assassinate Gadhafi in '96 and Gadhafi retaliated massively and they all fled to Afghanistan, Pakistan, joined up with al Qaeda. During the revolution, they came back. They reformed. They recreated the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, not necessarily named as such, and then they leveraged the NATO support, which assassinated Gadhafi.

BURNETT: So Jeff Cozzens, let me ask you, how big of a problem are these groups right now?

JEFFREY COZZENS, FORMER RELIGIOUS EXTREMISM ADVISOR (U.S. ARMY): Well, I think they're a major problem. They don't represent a great proportion of Libyan citizenry, obviously.


COZZENS: But you're talking about small rejectionist factions and I would just jump on a point that Geoff Porter made. A lot of these organizations integrate jihadi veterans who have some combat experience into their ranks. Whether we're talking about Iraq in which Libyans represented a very sizable contention of foreign fighters there or even in the Afghan-Pakistan war zone. I mean you have a lot of folks with a great deal of experience and that also plays into the reason of why we didn't know about this and its entirety before it happened. A lot of these guys are very sophisticated in their operational secrecy and in their trade craft, so you're talking about these superiors' word of mouth, et cetera.

BURNETT: Right, which and Eli, let me ask you about this crucial question that we've been reporting on really since this began, which is what appears to be -- (INAUDIBLE) use the word appears -- I mean it is at least from the way it's come out, a real disconnect between what the U.S. Intelligence Committee is saying they knew and when they knew it and what the White House and the State Department have said, i.e., their hesitance from the White House and State Department to use the word terrorism and to talk about al Qaeda or al Qaeda linked groups.

LAKE: Yes, well, I think that there's a difference here between raw intelligence that's coming in, in the context of an investigation and journalists on the ground as well as intelligence officers who are you know stationed throughout the intelligence community are collecting that information and putting the clues together. Then there is the question of sort of what is the official intelligence product that would go to senior government executives. And the writing of that intelligence product I'm still trying to figure out exactly what was written, what was the classified version, what was the unclassified version.

Were those two different versions and so forth. I have seen one version of talking points that were unclassified that supported what Ambassador Rice and Victoria Nuland and Jay Carney had said. But that doesn't necessarily mean that that was the only briefing or talking points that there were --


LAKE: -- and certainly the information that was coming in and you know people have come to me as a reporter, but I'm not the only one. I know that CNN has done a lot of great reporting as well, but people have kind of come out of the woodwork because they were hearing for nine days something that just did not make any sense from what the information that they were seeing as it was coming in.

BURNETT: All right, well thank you very much to all three of you. We appreciate it. As we try to still get questions on who knew what, when and why there appears to be such a disconnect or why they were not talking about al Qaeda and terrorism much earlier from the White House.

Well will it be the debates that swing the election for Mitt Romney or not or will it be Lyme disease? He's betting it might be Lyme disease and we will explain this, we promise -- that and the python. Plus, something happened today in the technology world that almost never, never does and it matters for us. And Mira Sorvino comes OUTFRONT with a terrifying story.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I discovered -- we discovered that slavery is alive and well. It's just gone underground.



BURNETT: Our second story, OUTFRONT, the issue that could decide this year's presidential election -- Lyme disease or is it Burmese pythons. I guess it depends on which campaign you ask, because a mailer making the rounds in northern Virginia from the Romney campaign touts the candidate's strategy of doing more to fight the spread of Lyme disease. Yes, that is a real flier and earlier in the campaign, the Burmese python was a concern for the Obama team. I mean they have been known to eat deer whole and the ticks too. A tweet from Obama's top regional press secretary in Florida ensured residents -- ensured that residents knew the administration had banned imports of the steak.

Now, you may laugh and there is some humor in this, but it is very, very serious for many people, ticks and snakes. Because these micro-targeting campaigns actually can really move the needle. They're important to crucial voters in crucial swing states like Florida and Virginia. Ben Smith is editor-in-chief of David Frum is former senior adviser to George W. Bush and Corey Ealons is a former member of President Obama's White House Communications Team.

OK, great to see all of you. So, you know, David, I have to say, Lyme disease with so many to joke about this (INAUDIBLE) says it's got to be that there's some crucial core of Lyme disease cases and this is something people care about. It turns out Loudon County -- I hope I'm saying it right -- but in northern Virginia, has one of the highest rates of Lyme disease in the country. So could this issue really resonate?

DAVID FRUM, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well it resonates with me. I've had Lyme disease and it's nasty. It also is a way for candidates to connect with real issues to real people --


FRUM: -- who feel that a lot of the issues we discuss are awfully abstract. I mean, Benghazi and the embassy, the topic of your last very important segment matters urgently to the kind of people who watch this program, but a lot of other people have more work a day concerns and want to know what will this election mean to me.

BURNETT: Why are you sitting here shaking your head and rolling your eyes at me and David Frum?

BEN SMITH, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, BUZZFEED.COM: I mean I think the great thing of micro-targeting is it's fun, less like anybody notices because there's this thing called the Internet, where your micro message of Lyme disease (INAUDIBLE) that's a great message for them becomes your message for the entire country for the day and I know I think people all over the country you know are -- what they're hearing about Mitt Romney today that he cares a lot about ticks at a moment when he's struggling to talk about, you know to try to find a big message that can change the big narrative of the campaign outside Loudon County.

BURNETT: All right, but the president was going after Burmese pythons in Florida.

SMITH: (INAUDIBLE) tweeted about it and certainly they're working on that but -- and if the president's day today were consumed by discussion of Burmese pythons that would have been a big loss.

BURNETT: Burmese pythons would be a pretty scary thing to just run into it, but Corey, I mean in terms of micro-targeting, the president does get a lot of credit there. A lot of experts say look, he's been very, very good at this. Using technology to find out what someone cares about in one very specific part of the country, but they now say Mitt Romney and Iowa and New Hampshire it has worked well for him. Who's better? COREY EALONS, FORMER MEMBER, PRES. OBAMA'S COMMUNICATIONS TEAM: Well, you have to appreciate what the purpose of micro-targeting is at the end of the day. The purpose is to find out what voters in very small territories care about so that you can move those voters, get them to support you, put them in the polls on election day. That's really what micro-targeting is about at the end of the day. Who's better at it? I think Barack Obama has been better at it as of the 2008 campaign. He was able to do it digitally, more so than with mail.

Finding youth, finding African-Americans, finding women, identifying issues that they care about and continuing to hit them with those messages over and over again throughout the campaign. Now, we're seeing mail as something that's been done traditionally. It's kind of old school as they say, but still effective in very small, more rural communities around the country.


EALONS: It's also -- it's also a way --

BURNETT: David -- let me just bring David Frum in here --


BURNETT: -- to your point about using direct mail because David isn't this something Ben was just hitting on that when you do it the way Obama was doing it with a tweet or something, you know, digitally doing this makes a lot more sense than doing a traditional mailer on such a niche topic?

FRUM: You know I think there's a certain amount of interest group prejudice on this. When Mitt Romney talks about Dodd-Frank that is also micro-targeting. Dodd-Frank is obnoxious probably to many fewer people than Lyme disease is obnoxious to. They just happen to be extremely rich people and so their views count for a lot. I take Ben's point about don't be distracted. The problem is that the Romney campaign's big messages have been actually very counterproductive for the Romney campaign. The Romney campaign should be talking about jobs and employment. They spend a lot of time talking about the Ryan plan, Medicare and Medicaid. Talking about Lyme disease and doing something about it is a big improvement over a day spent talking about taking Medicare away from people and taking Medicaid away from people.

SMITH: That's just the faintest praise you're ever going to hear of a political campaign right there. I mean it is probably better than talking about Paul Ryan's Medicare plan, but it's not -- but it's -- at a moment when you're -- when Mitt Romney is losing, it does not strike me that that is what is going to turn it around.

BURNETT: All right, well we are going to be talking to each of the campaigns later on in the hour and find out what they are focused on and what Mitt Romney can do to get this back, if anything.

Up next though, a shocking admission from Apple, I mean truly shocking from this company. And today new details released in the massacre at the Colorado movie theatre in Aurora. Why the man accused of the murders was banned from his former college campus well before the incident.


BURNETT: Tim Cook, the CEO of Apple, apologized to iPhone users. It shocked everybody, an apology out of Apple but he had to apologize because apparently their app for maps was really bad and disappointing. In a letter to customers posted on Apple's Web site Cook wrote "At Apple we strive to make world class products that deliver the best experience possible to our customers. With the launch of our new Maps last week, we fell short on this commitment." Now what was pretty amazing about this was he even said to customers, hey go use a competing map program until we improve ours. That's a pretty amazing admission and frankly pretty take the high road from a company like Apple but it wasn't the biggest app-related story of the day. No, that actually nothing to do with the map app everyone was going crazy about.

It would be that for the first time ever Smart phone users used photo sharing app Instagram more than Twitter. AllThingsD (ph) reports that Instagram was accessed by 7.3 million users in August and that's more than Twitter. What's more Instagram's users were also more engaged with what they were doing. The average user spent 87 more minutes on the site than on Twitter. Now, Twitter is still winning the number of unique visitors that go to its Web site, but it's a huge milestone for Instagram, which is only two years old. It to date has shared more than five billion photos. You might say that's amazing, right. OK, sure but that brings me to tonight's number, six billion. That's how many photos are upgraded to Facebook every single month.

That's right. Facebook uploads a billion more photos every month than Instagram has every shared. It is the world's largest photo sharing site, but they were still worried and scared by Instagram right over their shoulder breathing down their neck and so earlier this month Facebook bought Instagram for about $700 million. And that is a lot of money. Remember a few weeks ago Mark Zuckerberg said mobile about, I don't remember how many times, 23, 36, a whole lot of times. He said it was the future of his company. Well, Instagram is going to be a big part of that.

Well it's been a very rough week for the Romney campaign, but does the state of Virginia offer a chance for the self-described comeback team? An amazing new poll that shows something very different from those disputed polls earlier in the week.

And a successful young actor found dead in a driveway with his elderly landlady deceased in the home and a cat dismembered. Tonight our guest says he raised the red flag, but his warnings went unheeded.


BURNETT: We start the second half of our show with stories we care about, where we focus on our reporting from the front line. We are learning more about tonight about the history of the man accused of killing 12 people in the Colorado movie theatre shooting in July. According to documents released today, James Holmes threatened someone at the University of Colorado and actually had been banned from campus. The documents are heavily redacted, but prosecutors say that person was a professor.

The documents also show investigators obtained text messages that Holmes have exchanged with someone prior to the shooting, although the name of that person and the content of the messages were actually not made public.

Well, socialist French President Francois Hollande unveiled the government's budget for next year. So, he wants to save $39 billion, and to do that, he has proposed spending cuts and tax increases. He is going ahead with what some thought was a threat. It is not a threat. It is real -- a 75 percent tax on the wealthy.

That's right. If you make over a million euros, which is about $1.3 million, you're going to have to pay 75 percent of it to Uncle Francois. Analysts we spoke to say the cuts will help, but they're not enough to meet the government's goals and we're already aware of some people in that income tax bracket who live in France who are moving.

Well, two soil samples have been taken from a residence in Roseville, Michigan, in the search for Jimmy Hoffa's body. The samples would be tested for human remains and we should know the results on Monday for you. If human remains are detected, there will be more excavation.

The police chief, though, is doubtful, I'm going to quote him here, there's no discernible remains found in today's search.

Jimmy Hoffa was the former Teamster's boss who went missing in 1975 and was finally declared seven years after that.

It has been 421 days since the U.S. lost its top credit rate in rating. What are we doing to get it back?

Consumer sentiment index hit a four-month high in September. More people said they think more jobs would be created in the coming months. That of course is a really big thing. More jobs will slash that deficit.

Our third story OUTFRONT: another day, another bad set of numbers for Mitt Romney. There are two new polls today by the American research group and they have Mitt Romney trailing President Obama in two more swing states. Five points in New Hampshire and two in Virginia.

Although I wanted to highlight the Virginia one, because there had been other polls to show that gap to be significantly wider. So, this would be a much better than expected result frankly than some of the others we've seen. This week, all in though, has not been kind to the Republican candidate as polls have shown him falling behind the president by again, much wider margins that that Virginia poll in Ohio, Florida and Nevada, and North Carolina and Pennsylvania. But he is not showing any change in confident.


MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: I've got a little secret here and that is that Obama campaign thinks that Pennsylvania is in their pocket. They don't need to worry about it.

And you're right and they're wrong. We're going to win Pennsylvania. We're going to take the White House.


BURNETT: He's going to have to overcome a big deficit to do it, but people do like a comeback kid.

Matt Schlapp is the former White House political director for President George W. Bush. Jen Psaki is the Obama campaign press secretary.

Great to have both of you. You have two very different problems. One, you don't want to get complacent and two, you don't want to get too far behind.

So, Matt, let me start with you. Mitt Romney was in Pennsylvania today. Obviously, the poll of polls that we have here at CNN show him behind 10 points. I know he had a fundraiser in that state. Is he really trying to win Pennsylvania?

MATT SCHLAPP, FOUNDER, COVE STRATEGIES: Sure, when you're in a presidential race, you're trying to win everywhere you go. If you look at these polls overall, Erin, overall, I really think there's a little hype going on with the Obama numbers. If you look at the Scott Rasmussen numbers today, with leanders, this race is tied. If you look at battleground states, he shows the race tied.

And if you look at a lot of these polls that are coming out across the country, Romney and Obama are tied with independents. That's a key indicator for your viewers to keep watching. If Romney's tied with independents, then it's all a question about the turnout model with Republicans and Democrats. Every number I see shows Republicans very enthusiastic to come out and vote for Mitt Romney against President Obama.

That shows this race continues to be tight and winnable for Governor Romney.

BURNETT: Jen, do you think this race is winnable for Mitt Romney at this point?

JEN PSAKI, OBAMA CAMPAIGN PRESS SECRETARY: Well, look, we're always going to run in every single state like we're five points down and we've always said this race was going to be close.

So our message to our supporters is don't be complacent. Don't rest on any polls. Put your blinders on. Keep focus on the playbook. We'll sleep and hopefully celebrate on November 7th.

We know there's going to be twists and turns. It's a narrower path than I think we would like, but, you know, we still -- 38 days is a long time to go.

BURNETT: So, Matt, I guess -- I mean, she's got to say that, right? She's got to get her people out to vote. But making the case for you -- I want to ask you, though, because there's been so much criticism of the polls from the Romney side of things. People have said, look, the polls assume more Democrats are going to turn out this time last time.

I know here at CNN, our polls do not assume that, and "FOX News Sunday" host Chris Wallace, so FOX News, said the criticism of the polls craziness. He said no self-respecting pollster in the country would a weigh according to political party, another allegation. So, even FOX doesn't seem to be backing some of the conspiracy theories on your side.

SCHLAPP: Well, Erin, I'm not trying to push a conspiracy theory. All I'm doing is trying to explain that there are different polls that show different numbers. I think one of the numbers your viewers should keep watching, besides how good Governor Romney is doing with independents is to look at Obama -- President Obama's job approval ratings. Now, they have been in the mid-40s for much of the year. Twice this year they've spiked to right around 50.

Right now, he's right around 50. This is about a high water mark for President Obama. Each time he has gotten to that magical 50 percent of his job approval rating has immediately dropped back down. Look, if he can keep his job approval rating at 50 or higher, he's going to be in a good position. But he's never been able to do that.

If you see that drop again, which I think you will, you'll continue to show polls that show this is tight, as Scott Rasmussen shows it is tonight.

BURNETT: On the Rasmussen poll.

Jen, your internal polls for the Obama campaign, do they show it like Gallup, like CNN. Or do they show it tighter like Rasmussen?

PSAKI: Well, look, we're not focused --

SCHLAPP: Come on, tell us your internal polls.

PSAKI: We're not focused internally or externally on the national polls. We're focused on seven to nine states, as I'm sure the Romney team is as well. In those polls, some are really close, some we have a little bit of more of a lead on. But it doesn't matter because we still have 38 days to go. And as you pointed out, we need our supporters to turn out. You know, it doesn't matter unless they cast their vote at the ballot. So that's what our focus is right now -- turning people out. It's already game day. Early voting is happening and we need to keep our focus on November 6th.

BURNETT: So, Matt, what is it really about? Because I keep hearing, Jen said, people are talking about getting the base out, right, and that it comes down to the base. We had on one of the preachers with the biggest flocks in the country in the show early this week say it's all about the base. Mitt Romney needs to get the base out.

But you just said is, no, it's about those independents. Those people who aren't on either side. That's where you think the polls could be messing up, which -- I mean, am I saying too much to say you're saying it's not about the base?

SCHLAPP: No, I just think, Erin, people sometimes get confused with elections. They try to act like maybe a race can only be about the base or only be about independents. When you're running a presidential campaign, you're really trying to do both. You're trying to make sure that all your core supporters are excited and energized to come out and doing -- taking all the steps with your ground game necessary.

But at the same time, you have to reach out to this slender and small group of undecided voters in the middle who haven't made up their mind yet. When I say in the middle, they're not even necessarily even moderates. Some are conservative, some are liberal. They're just not very partisan. They're not as aligned with one party and they're still up for grabs.

So the art of politics is you've got to kind of reach out to both at the same time. All the polls I see show that Governor Romney has great enthusiasm with the base of our party and if he's tied or better with independents, that means he's in a great position in this race.

BURNETT: Well, we shall see. We shall see. Jen and Matt, thanks to both.

PSAKI: Thanks, Erin.

And now, our fourth story OUTFRONT -- a story of mental illness and drug abuse.

Tonight, we are learning new and disturbing details about the life of actor Johnny Lewis in the months and weeks before police say he brutally murdered his elderly landlady and ultimately fell to his own death possibly off the roof of her home as he tried to get away. There's also a dismembered cat. There have been stories that he was exhibiting superhuman strength. No one is sure what sort of drug he may have been on. The story is bizarre and tragic.

OUTFRONT tonight, defense attorney Jonathan Mandel, who represented Lewis following a couple of his arrests. Jonathan, you represented Johnny in two cases. Can you tell us a bit about his behavior?

JONATHAN MANDEL, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Behavior with me was fine when he was in treatment and also in the Twin Towers facility. If you were asking, I think you were asking about his behavior that led to the charges? Is that right?

BURNETT: So, I just want -- something just came in I want to read to you. We just spoke be with the Los Angeles County Probation Department. And they just gave us some information --

MANDEL: Right.

BURNETT: -- about his probation hearing. I want to read this to you because, obviously, you know a lot about it. I'll quote them. They said, "A May 17th probation report states that Johnny Lewis suffers from some form of chemical dependency, mental health issue and a lack of permanent housing. Given this, Lewis will continue to be a threat to any community in which he may reside."

Do you agree with that?

MANDEL: At the time, no and now, no. I think it may have turned out that way, but what was known in May about Johnny was that he had two fairly minor offenses, which were fortunately not serious. And he did have a diagnosis eventually of chemically induced psychosis, but as to his -- this happening, the idea that report was somehow prescient is not what the situation was when we talked about it with the district attorneys and the judges. There was no idea that this was the reaction of what he did at this point was well beyond whatever was expected.

So, no, I don't agree with the report, even though at this point in time, it may appear to be accurate.

BURNETT: OK, so do you know what sorts of drugs he would use? I'm specifically referring to what appears to be during this horrific incident that happened earlier this week, that he had tried to flee and people next door had seen him and said that he exhibited super human strength, clearly seemed to be on something.

Do you know what sort of drugs he was using?

MANDEL: Well, prior to that, let me put it this way -- I first represented him in April and from April until August or September, he was probably using no drugs at all because he was incarcerated for a couple of months, and then went into a treatment facility.

What drugs he was using before that may have caused him to be psychotic may have been Xanax, it may also have been marijuana, but I do not think it was anything that heavy. The drug that he may have used upon release for days later, I heard may be some type of designer drug, which is very similar to PCP.

But in the time I knew him, he did not evidence any kind of what appeared to be drug behavior. He did appear to be delusional, but I never got the sense when I was representing him that he was an addict. I did think he had severe mental problems.

BURNETT: I know you've spoken to his family and his family had tried also valiantly to get him to seek help, right?

MANDEL: Well, the family was helping. We were getting him help. He was in a treatment facility, which seemed to be working, ironically, and the family was very supportive, particularly, his father, Michael, was wonderfully supportive, made every appearance and really work with Johnny.

So, the family was there.

BURNETT: So, is it your belief he could have done -- I mean, obviously, it's unclear what happened, but that he could have killed this elderly woman, 81 years old, dismembered the cat, I mean, the horrible things that seem to have happened?

MANDEL: Well, if it's what happened, it's what happened. But was it my belief he could have done it? No. Absent the use of some powerful drug which probably caused it.

Now, Johnny had problems. He had certain issues. He was a bit unhinged at times, especially with delusions, but never delusions that were that powerful. Even, as I said, his prior offenses weren't even close to that.

So, it had to have been, if in fact, my belief is that if he did take a drug, it certainly was the drug that was primarily responsible for it. And also, the combination of that and his mental issues.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Jonathan. We appreciate it.

Certainly something very bizarre with some of these reports we've heard recently around the country on these designer drugs and what they can cause people to do.

Actress Mira Sorvino comes OUTFRONT next to talk about a crucial issue: modern sexual slavery.


MIRA SORVINO, ACTRESS: When you meet that person, you meet that survivor and survivors they are, they're no longer victims, they're incredible. But you look into their eyes and you understand person to person just really what they've gone through, being treated like an object, a thing, lower than an animal.



BURNETT: Now to tonight's "Outer Circle," where we reach out to our sources around the world. And first, a story we have been covering all year in Beijing, where a man once thought to be the next president of China has been thrown out of the communist party in a stunning fall from grace. Bo Xilai is embroiled in a murder and bribery scandal and state-run media reports he's also been charged with improper sexual relationships with multiple women.

Jaime FlorCruz is in Beijing and I asked him how the news is being received.


JAIME FLORCRUZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Erin, the communist party announcement came like a political bombshell. Bo Xilai, the charismatic and controversial politician widely expected to get promoted into the elite group who effectively runs China has been expelled from the party, accused of corruption, influence-peddling, bribe-taking and womanizing.

Several weeks ago, his wife, Gu Kailai, a lawyer and business consultant, was tried and given a suspended death sentence, found guilty of murdering British business man Neil Heywood. It was Heywood's death and the expose that Gu Kailai was involved in it that set off the political scandal which led to Bo Xilai's dismissal.

Bo's case, the announcement said, will be handed over to the Chinese judicial organs, signaling that Bo could face a criminal trial. If found guilty, one observer said, Bo could face a life sentence.


BURNETT: All right. Now, our fifth story OUTFRONT: Fighting human trafficking.

This week at the Clinton Global Initiative, President Obama vowed to crack down on what he calls modern slavery and he's not alone in fighting the issue. Academy Award-winning actress Mira Sorvino has served as a U.N. goodwill ambassador. She's traveled around the world on this issue. And now, she's starring in a new Hollywood film, "Trade of Innocents," about a sex trafficking ring in Cambodia.

Earlier, I spoke with her and started by asking her how important hearing the president of the United States in a campaign year talk about this issue is.


SORVINO: For all of us working on modern day slavery, it was gigantic, you know, to basically have the leader of the free world say that trafficking is slavery. So, make no mistake about it. It's not something else. It's slavery again.

That was huge. The fact that he said to treat victims as victims, not criminals is gigantic, especially in the realm of underage sex trafficking because too often across our country, children and teenagers are arrested for the crime of prostitution rather than being seen through the lens with which the federal government and the U.N. see them as victims of the severest form of human trafficking.

BURNETT: And a lot of these victims are -- when you talk about human trafficking -- you mentioned the word prostitutes. A lot of this is sex, right?

SORVINO: In this country, it's about 50/50 -- 50 percent labor trafficking, 50 percent sexual slavery.

BURNETT: Where is it happening? I mean, I know it can be happening very close, let's just say to places like the White House.

SORVINO: Yes, it's happening about three blocks from the White House on Avenue K, I believe. There's a place at 9:00 p.m. at night, you can find an underage person to have sex with you. You will buy that sex from her trafficker.

And you, instead of being labeled a pedophile, if you get caught according to one D.C. NGO leader, in these 300 cases she's worked on with underage victims of trafficking, not one time has the John been arrested. Not once. And this is in cases with kids as young as 10 being caught in the act and the kid is taken in by law enforcement and often charged as a criminal for the crime of prostitution, and the man who was buying the services of a minor is sent home -- we don't want to ruin your life, we don't want to make things hard for you, go home to your wife and family.

BURNETT: And when you talk about Washington, D.C., you also said it's around the country. Where else would you say are some of the hot spots where this is happening?

SORVINO: Everywhere. I mean, it's happening all over. Atlanta's a big hot spot. New York is a big hot spot. Sacramento, Seattle, Portland -- any big city has it. Every city in America has it.

But it's also on the Internet. So the pimps go on the Internet. They go on to an app like, it has an app, and you can basically buy sex via the Internet.

BURNETT: And around the world, this is a problem of at least 20 million people.

SORVINO: Yes. Luis CdeBaca, our State Department ambassador at large to combat human trafficking, said the other night at the Polaris Project event that it's 27 million people living in slavery today. But our film "Trade of Innocents" deals with the problem of child sex trafficking in Southeast Asia and we made it in Thailand, but for Cambodia, because the Cambodians did not want us there.

BURNETT: What got you passionate about this? Oscar winning actress, mom. You have a lot going on in your life and you dedicated an immense amount of personal time and passion to this. SORVINO: It's meeting survivors. Once I did -- I was working for Amnesty International as their Stop Violence Against Campaign spokesperson. We covered human trafficking as one of the topics that really affects women and girls in the world.

And I discovered, we discovered that slavery is alive and well. It's just gone underground. It's illegal now but it's thriving. It's a $32 billion a year criminal enterprise, second only, tied with illicit arms trading to the drugs. And yet the U.S. government spends in one month more on the war on drugs than it has ever spent on domestic and international programs against slavery since 2000.

I mean, more in one month. And in one month, the U.S. government spends twice as much on military marching bands as it does for a whole year of anti-trafficking efforts. So, there's something wrong.

I know we have a tough time with our deficit, I know we have a tough time with the budget, but people are so important and every one of these people who is safe -- right now, there's only a one in 100 chance a victim of human trafficking will be saved.

When that person is saved, when you meet that person, you meet that survivor and survivors they are, they are no longer victims, they are incredible. But you look into their eyes and you understand person-to-person viscerally what they've gone through being treated like an object, a thing lower than an animal. And then you see the bravery, the courage, the fortitude to go forward and help others. They all are so altruistic and incredible.

And that's why President Obama gave them a shout-out the other day. I was at the table with the survivors and they were blown away because they just had a big meeting with them and he shouted them out and everybody gave him a standing ovation. And it was a very big day because they influenced his speech.

BURNETT: Which is incredible. As you say, those numbers sure do not add up.

Thank you for taking the time to share more information about this with us and our viewers.

SORVINO: Thank you.

BURNETT: And to learn more about Mira's efforts and how to help, please go to our blog,

SORVINO: Next, you thought the fight over unions was over in Michigan and, you know, hey, it's kind of quiet. You are dead wrong.


BURNETT: Organized labor is working overtime tonight to gain collective bargaining rights in the state of Michigan. And Ted Rowlands has a look at these important issues for campaign 2012.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) GERT HOBSON: Hi, Barbara. This is Gert Hobson from Protect Working Families.

TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): After her overnight shift at ups, Gert Hobson works a phone bank at a Grand Rapids union hall, pushing people to vote yes on prop 2, which if passed would make collective bargaining a constitutional right in Michigan.

HOBSON: Thanks. Happy to have you on board.

ROWLANDS: In Wisconsin, public employee unions lost collective bargaining rights, prop 2 would prevent lawmakers in Michigan from doing the same thing.

Gert compares the attacks against unions in other states and this showdown in Michigan to the civil rights movement. She says she is doing everything she can to get people to support Prop 2.

HOBSON: Hey, are you a registered voter? Do you know about this initiative? Do you have a car? Do you need a ride to the polls?

I mean, I'm just excited because this is like that American fight, like they were fighting in the '60s.

ROWLANDS: Terry Bowman is just as passionate. He's worked for Ford at this parts plant outside Detroit for 16 years. He's a member of the United Auto Workers Union, but he thinks giving unions more power by changing the state constitution is a bad idea, especially in a state with high unemployment that's trying to attract new businesses.

TERRY BOWMAN: No corporation's going to want to come to Michigan. It's going to guarantee an adversarial relationship right from the minute they come into the state.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Vote yes on Proposal 2.

ROWLANDS: Both sides are getting support from outside the state, flooding the airways with commercials.

AD ANNOUNCER: Don't let them hijack our Constitution.

ROWLANDS: Dawson Bell has been covering Michigan politics for the "Detroit Free Press" for 30 years. He thinks that after losing in Wisconsin, the pressure is on unions.

DAWSON BELL, DETROIT FREE PRESS: The labor movement recognizes that they need a win in Michigan really badly. And, on the other hand, if they don't get it, it's going to send a very, very strong signal. So everybody, you know, everybody who's got a dog in this fight anywhere in the country is interested in the outcome here.

HOBSON: Company I work for is Fortune 500, make $30 billion in profit. Why shouldn't I be able to take my son on vacation when I work there and help them make those billions? ROWLANDS (on camera): And, Erin, polling right now shows support for Prop 2 at about 47 percent, just shy of the majority needed to change the state constitution. Both sides, of course, are vowing to spend thousands of volunteer hours and millions of dollars here in Michigan from now until Election Day. Erin.


BURNETT: All right. Thanks very much to you, Ted Rowlands.

And thanks for watching for all of you.

Anderson Cooper starts now.