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Middle East On The Edge Of War; Israelis "Under Threat" Near Gaza; Fiscal Cliffhanger; The Future Of The Republican Party

Aired November 16, 2012 - 19:00   ET


TOM FOREMAN, CNN ANCHOR: OUTFRONT next, escalation is really soldiers moving to the border of Gaza in preparation for a possible ground invasion.

Another prominent Republican disavows the comments Mitt Romney made about President Obama's gifts to minority voters. How can the GOP reinvent itself post Romney?

And surprising revelations in David Petraeus' testimony on Capitol Hill today. He said he knew immediately after the attack in Libya who was responsible but then something changed. Let's go OUTFRONT.

I'm Tom Foreman in for Erin Burnett. OUTFRONT tonight on the edge of war. The Israeli military right now is preparing for a possible ground invasion into Gaza. Hundreds of Israeli troops have been moved to the Gaza border and another 75,000 reservists are being called to serve as the violence intensifies.

This as President Obama gets a phone call with the Israeli prime minister to get an update on the tense situation and talks to Egypt's new president, Mohamed Morsi whom he hopes will help deescalate the conflict.

The latest at least 30 people are reportedly to have been killed in Gaza and three people in Israel. Today, Hamas unleashed its most provocative air offense in decades targeting Jerusalem.

Air raid sirens echoed through the streets as two rockets hit just south of the holy city, which had always been considered off limits even by militants.

Hamas also fired several rockets at the coastal city of Tel Aviv. In this dangerous game of tit for tat, both sides are vowing to press ahead.

Our senior international correspondent Sara Sidner is live in Gaza where Egypt's prime minister made a visit earlier today to show his support for the people there.

Sara, you've been doing remarkable work covering this for around the clock. What is happening in Gaza now? Are people bracing for a ground assault from Israel? SARA SIDNER, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: They're certainly worried about one, very, very worried about a ground assault. They've been dealing all day with air strikes, and we have seen them ourselves.

We've had to take cover several times. These air strikes are getting louder and more and more powerful, it sounds like, throughout the day, but we are also seeing the skies crisscross with the telltale sign of rocket fire, seeing the trail of smoke that rockets often leave behind.

Now, we do also know that the hospitals here are becoming overwhelmed. The main hospital we visited today, there were people coming in every 15 minutes.

Sometimes coming in by ambulance, sometimes it was just neighbors and friends and family members driving their cars up to the emergency side and people being pulled out of cars and onto stretchers.

The doctors there saying they are overwhelmed, they are seeing men, women and children coming into that hospital. We're talking about more than 240 people now injured and 30 people dead.

There is a great deal of concern, though, of the air strikes are, as Israel has put it, targeted air strikes, certain areas being targeted, particularly looking at militants, trying to target them and looking at places where these rockets are coming from.

Trying to target the weapons that Hamas and other militant groups that operate out of here are using, but when it comes to a ground war, people feel very differently about that, very concerned about the possibility of having thousands of troops come in here from Israel.

FOREMAN: Is there any sense there among people in Gaza that there could be any real effective resistance to a ground war because Israel simply has such a powerful military compared to anything there?

SIDNER: Well, I talked to one of the Hamas leaders just yesterday night, and we talked a little bit about that. Because when you talk to defense experts who are looking at what people have here and what Hamas, for example, has here as far as weaponry goes.

The main thought is that they have more and more sophisticated weapons that they've been able to smuggle in, for example, through the Egyptian border and under the tunnels and weapons that have been given to them in part by Iran.

Now, when we talked about that, they wouldn't come out and say, yes, we've been getting more and more weapons from Iran, but they did say they did have more sophisticated weapons, but certainly nothing compared to what Israel had.

And they said they knew that they would pay a heavy price, a much heavier price than Israel would pay if this turned into a full-scale war -- Tom. FOREMAN: All right, Sara Sidner, as I said doing magnificent work there. I know you'll stay on the story. We appreciate your words tonight.

The situation, of course, is very, very tense right along the Gaza border with Israel. Our senior international correspondent Ben Wedeman is standing by in Ashkelon, Israel.

This is a place, Ben, that has suffered a lot of these rocket attacks from Gaza. What are folks thinking there now, Ben?

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, we spoke to the mayor of Ashkalon, Tom, a little while ago who said in that last three days more than 30 rockets have hit his town of more than 120,000.

And I had an interesting conversation with one Ashkelon resident, a restaurant owner, and he told me he's actually happy that the residents of Tel Aviv and Jerusalem had to scramble for cover when they heard those air raid sirens.

He said finally the rest of Israel is beginning to experience a sort of thing that people around here almost take for granted, and this resident told me that he hopes this galvanizes the Israeli public to support the government in undertaking a massive ground operation in Gaza.

This resident is talking about Israeli forces going house to house in Gaza in a very densely populated area with the population of more than 1.5 million.

Israeli forces going house to house to round up all those members of Hamas so there does seem to be a strong push among ordinary Israelis on the government here to take decisive and final action against Hamas in Gaza -- Tom.

FOREMAN: Is there a lot of faith, Ben, that that could actually be accomplished, though? Because in the past there's been a lot of talk about decisive action and we've never really seen it in the Middle East, have we?

WEDEMAN: Absolutely not. If you go back just four years when there was a last blow-up between Israel and Gaza, there was talk then that the Israeli forces would put an end to the rocket fire, and here we are four years later talking about the same thing.

Certainly, there is a certain amount of frustration among people here that they feel that Israel is under so much international pressure that the country may not, in fact, be able to go into Gaza and conduct the sort of operation that ordinary Israelis seem to want to see happen -- Tom.

FOREMAN: Thanks so much, Ben Wedeman. I want to bring in Nick Burns, a former undersecretary of state for political affairs. He was also an ambassador to NATO and Reva Bhalla, she is with the intelligence company, STRATFOR and a leading expert on the Middle East.

Nick, what is it going to take to end this conflict, or is it just going to get worse?

NICHOLAS BURNS, FORMER UNDERSECRETARY FOR POLITICAL AFFAIRS: Well, Tom, I think the Obama administration has been rightfully supporting Israel because Israel has a right to defend itself, any country would.

But I think the United States is going to want to work with Egypt, with Turkey and Qatar to try to convince the Hamas leadership to stop this very dangerous, very provocative and full hardy shelling and rocketing of Israeli cities.

When Hamas is targeting both Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, this is a new phase of war between a long running war between them. Israel is going to react to that. So I do think you'll see a very intense diplomatic pressure on Hamas to cease and desist.

FOREMAN: Riva, why would Israel even consider a ground operation when their air strikes seemed to be pretty effective and Gaza is not a big area. At some point, they have to run out of pockets to some degree, don't they?

REVA BHALLA, VICE PRESIDENT OF GLOBAL ANALYSIS, STRATFOR: Yes, but that's a big risk. So the big driver of the Israeli operation right now is the long-range rockets that were allegedly supplied by Iran and which Hamas has been using to target major urban centers in Israel like Tel Aviv, like Jerusalem.

So that is a red line especially Tel Aviv has been the red line for Israel, and as long as Hamas is in possession of these rockets and can maintain that threat against Israeli population centers, Israel can't afford to sit back.

So when the air strikes yesterday have been achieving some success, but Hamas has still been lobbying those rockets over, we saw that today with strikes in Jerusalem as well as in Tel Aviv, so it really comes down to that intelligence question.

How many rockets does Hamas have in its possession, and if Hamas is able to get out of this with some rockets, that's a huge symbolic victory for them.

FOREMAN: Nick, is this just like what we've seen before, or is this colored in any way by the Arab spring and all the uprisings there?

BURNS: I think it is quite different because you have a radically change security environment for Israel as the result of the Arab revolutions. You saw last week that the Syrian military fired shells into Northern Israel perhaps by mistake, but they did it and Israel returned fire.

You know that Hezbollah on the northern border of Israel presents a major threat and now you have an Egyptian government that is no longer going to be quiet when Israel does retaliate.

You had the prime minister of Egypt, Prime Minister Qandil in Gaza today. Egypt I think will be very careful not to break with Israel, not to break the Camp David, of course, but nonetheless, it's opening up that border and it's going to be easier for Hamas to acquire this elicit rocket technology.

So the Israeli is really now have completely changed security situation and that has made them much more worried and I think as Reva said much more willing and able now to go into places like Gaza to try to deal with the threat and deal with the ruse of a threat.

FOREMAN: Nick, you mentioned the Egyptian president. I want to a portion of a speech he made today, a fiery speech about the people of Gaza and what Egypt thinks. Listen to this.


PRESIDENT MOHAMED MORSI, EGYPT: We support the people of Gaza. We are with them in their trenches. What hurts them hurts us and the blood that flows from their children is our blood, too.


FOREMAN: Reva, this sounds -- these are warlike words. Is there any real danger here of this thing spilling beyond this? For all these warlike words between neighbors out there, does anyone else want to get into this fight if Israel goes into Gaza or will it be between Gaza and Israel?

BHALLA: I think for right now we're seeing this limited to Israel and Hamas in Gaza. Certainly we're keeping a close eye on the northern front with Hezbollah. Israel was talking praise for Hamas, almost like an older sibling, saying this is how it shows Hamas is maturing.

Remember in 2006, Hezbollah achieved a major symbolic victory over Israel. He didn't have to look at the casualty numbers. Hezbollah took a heavy toll from that as well, but they were able to challenge Israel military superiority.

That's exactly what Hamas is going for here with these long range rockets, and we'll just have to see if they are able to achieve that even with an Israeli ground operation. It's going to get to these launching crews especially if they use the Palestinian population as cover and very densely populated areas like Gaza City.

FOREMAN: All right, thank you very much, Reva Bhalla and Nick Burns as well.

So if all of this does, indeed, come down to open warfare, what will the battlefield look like? Well, let's take a look right now because this is Israel alongside the Mediterranean Ocean here. It's about the size of New Jersey, 7.5 million people, 75 percent Jewish.

The economy is quite good here and the unemployment is below 7 percent. By comparison, Gaza is quite small geographically, only twice as big as Washington, D.C., under 2 million people there. They're predominantly Palestinian and their economy is very bad, unemployment very high. has called Israel the tenth most powerful military in the world. Why is that? Well, let's break it down a little bit. They have compulsory military service there, so they have a lot of troops ready at a moment's notice, 176,000 active troops.

They could also draw up a half million from the reserves pretty easily, so that's a robust force out there. Look at their ground attack units here, 3,000 tanks if you add in all the armored personnel carriers and artillery units and mortars out there.

You have 12,000 ground units here. That's an awful lot, and of course their air force is formidable, about 800 aircraft including 200 helicopters. This is largely what they use to strike away at targets inside Gaza.

Now if you look at Hamas, very different picture, in terms of who they officially have in uniform, police, troops, whatever you want to call them over there, only about 12,500 and they have nothing like the weapons that the Israelis have.

However -- big point here -- Palestinian militants do have a lot of rockets. That's what we're hearing so much about. I want to bring in a life size version of one of them to show you what we're talking about here.

This is a som-2 rocket. These have been very popular because they're cheap and easy to make out of steel tubes. They only weigh 70 to 100 pounds, something like that, so they can be moved around, and they're fuelled essentially with commercial grade fertilizer.

So they are the kind of thing that could be fire with a lot of wallop. They're not very accurate, but if you fire enough of them, you don't have to be very accurate.

And if you move on to some of their better missiles and rockets, you start talking about range. In this conflict, what have we seen so far? We've seen weapons fired from Gaza that reportedly travel out around 50 miles.

You hit places like Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, that is one of the reasons why there is so much concern among the government leaders in Israel. They're saying about a fifth of their population is now exposed to these rocket attacks.

All of that is adding up to this big case of tension over there and all the concern about what might be coming next. Well, stay with us. We have a lot more coming up here as well, including more blowback from Mitt Romney's comments about how President Obama won the election.

And everyone gathering at the White House to talk about the dreaded cliff. Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

FOREMAN: Our second story OUTFRONT, a fiscal cliff hanger. For the first time since his re-election, President Obama met with top congressional leaders today. Both sides using rosy language to describe their meeting on how to avoid the cliff.


REPRESENTATIVE JOHN BOEHNER (R), HOUSE SPEAKER: We had a very constructive meeting with the president.

REPRESENTATIVE NANCY PELOSI (D), MINORITY LEADER: I feel confident that a solution might be in sight.

SENATOR HARRY REID (D), MAJORITY LEADER: I feel good about what we were able to talk about in there.

SENATOR MITCH MCCONNELL (R), MINORITY LEADER: I can only echo the conversation of the other leaders, that it was a constructive meeting.


FOREMAN: Confident, constructive, they say, but is that a deal in the making? OUTFRONT tonight, White House correspondent Brianna Keilar joins us. Brie, what really went on inside that meeting?

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: You know, I am told, actually, Tom, that there was no fireworks. There was no drama and that this is good news. After the cameras left the meeting, you saw, really, President Obama state what his position is, which honestly everyone already knows.

And House Speaker John Boehner stated what his position is on dealing with the fiscal cliff and so on with these congressional leaders according to a source familiar with these discussions.

And then that sort of perfunctory here's my position gave way to a free flowing back and forth of some ideas between these leaders. No specific settled, but the tone was certainly very good.

And both the Democrats and the Republicans in the room seemed very much aware that this would come down to dealing with tax reform and dealing with entitlement reform.

And the source told me when the president raised the issue of increasing revenue, there was no, "no, we're not going to do that" from Republicans, and when Republicans talked about entitlement reform, President Obama agreed that was something that needs to be done.

FOREMAN: Well, it's a big change I suppose. Brie, that's really what's going to hold up, but I think we sort of occasionally heard this before. Do you think when it gets down to the brass tax both sides are actually ready to bend a bit? KEILAR: I think they're more ready to bend than they were going into that whole debacle that was the debt ceiling negotiation. There are some specifics that need to be sorted out for sure, exactly how to raise revenue.

As you know, Democrats would rather increase tax rates on the wealthy. Republicans prefer closing loopholes, limiting deductions, eliminating tax credits. I think in the end this is going to be a piece of legislation that both sides will have to sort of have a bitter pill to swallow.

This is expected to be something that will require Democratic and Republican votes in Congress, the kind of bipartisan vote that honestly we haven't been really used to seeing.

And the other issue is that here in the near term, they're dealing with the fiscal cliff, these tax increases and spending cuts that will come in, they have to link that to tax reform and entitlement reform that they have to tackle next year.

How do they do that? A trigger and what was the fiscal cliff? It was a trigger in the debt ceiling debate. They like them, and it makes you wonder, are we going to be dealing with fiscal cliff 2.0 next year? We might.

FOREMAN: Maybe so. Brianna Keilar, thank you so much.

Our third story OUTFRONT, rebuilding the Republican Party. Following some big Election Day losses, the question remains, what exactly is the Republican Party's future?

Former Secretary of Commerce Carlos Gutierrez who led Romney's outreach to Latino voters spoke to CNN's Candy Crowley in an interview set to air Sunday on "STATE OF THE UNION."

He joins a growing list of Republicans to disavow comments made by Mitt Romney this week about so-called gifts from President Obama to minorities and young voters to help him win.


CARLOS GUTIERREZ, FORMER ROMNEY ADVISER: I was shocked. I was shocked, and frankly, I don't think that's why the Republicans lost the elections, why we lost the election.

I think we lost the election because the far right of this party has taken the party to a place that it doesn't belong. We are the party of prosperity of growth, of tolerance.

These immigrants who come across and what they do wrong is they risk their lives and they come here and work because they want to be part of the American dream. That is what the GOP is.


FOREMAN: OUTFRONT tonight, Democratic strategist, James Carville and Reihan Salam, writer for the "National Review." Reihan, let me start with you. Do you think the GOP agrees with what Mr. Gutierrez is saying about what it is right now?

REIHAN SALAM, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I think that Mr. Gutierrez has something a little bit wrong. I think that you have a lot of conservatives who are talking about immigration reform right now, and while immigration reform might be good on its own, I think the Republican Party's deeper problem might be that most don't see it as the party that represents middle class economic interest.

When you look at Latino voters, Asian-American voters, African- American voters and also the blue collar white voters who stayed at home in very large numbers in this last presidential election, it's really about middle class economic interests not being adequately represented by the Republican Party.

I think that's the problem, not so much immigration as such, and I think Mitt Romney's remarks were very ill advised for exactly that reason. Mitt Romney lost in part because again, a lot of blue collar middle class folks who Republican in the past did not turn out this time around. It's not about minorities or just about young people.

FOREMAN: James, if you were advising the Republican Party, and I know you never will, but if you were, what would you tell them at a time like this? They've had this terrible loss. Their candidate came out and said something that seemed to send the whole party in an uproar, including a lot of voters. What do they need to do now?

JAMES CARVILLE, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, one piece of advice they need because -- Mitt Romney is not going to be part of anything in the Republican Party. They don't want to hear from him again.

The biggest gift he could give the Republican Party is to go to Nepal for four years as a Mormon missionary, disguised. What advice I would give them is advice Mike Tyson once said. Everybody has a plan to get hit in the mouth.

You got hit in the mouth, and what the gentleman just said about the middle class is certainly very instrumental to any political party, but they come across as not much caring for people. If you give people a message, they'll receive it.

I think they'll go through a catharsis, they'll try to change. But remember if they run for president in 2016, they have to go to North Carolina primaries, and those people are not interested in change, in broadening the base, if you will.

It's going to take a skillful person. We had to do it in 1992. Democrats lost five out of six elections, and in the Clinton campaign, we were able to say, look, we're not the old Democratic Party. We're a new style of Democrat.

I think the Republicans will have to go through that kind of a re-evaluation of their political party. They've got some trouble, but they'll be able to fix it, I think. Parties generally do. FOREMAN: Reihan, it looks like for the time being, the horse is racing out of the barn for them. A new "USA Today"/Gallup poll shows that the president's post-election favorability is up to 58 percent from 55 percent beforehand. Do you think that's because like him a lot more or because he won or because the Republicans are doing things that aren't making him look good right now?

SALAM: Well, I think it was a very rough campaign and just to be over with it. I think a lot of folks are willing to give the president the benefit of the doubt. I think that Americans are exhausted. I think this was a particularly dispiriting election campaign.

What I will say, however, is that you have some very conservative including socially conservative governors like Bobby Jindal of Louisiana who are making some really constructive noises about the Republican Party and where it should go next.

And you also have Senator Marco Rubio, for example, who is talking upward mobility. He is talking about middle class economic interest and a lot of these core things that Mitt Romney wasn't able to talk about very convincingly.

So I'm feeling pretty optimistic after this week and yes, you know, President Obama is going to have a honeymoon, and that's fair enough, but I think Republicans are rebuilding. They're gathering their strength, and I think the message is sinking in.

FOREMAN: let me jump back in with James, one last real quick thing here. James, there was a comment on ABC News. Mitt Romney also said this on this conference call with donors yesterday. I want your reaction to this.

He said, quote, "I spoke with President Clinton the day before yesterday. He called and spent 30 minutes chatting with me. He said, a week out I thought you were going to win, but the hurricane happened and it gave the president a chance to be presidential and to look bipartisan, and you know he got a little more momentum."

Let me ask you a question, do you wish that President Clinton would also be quiet right now?

CARVILLE: That's Mitt Romney's construction of the conversation. I know President Clinton well enough. He was probably trying to make the guy feel good. He's very capable of that and he's a very, very humane guy.

He knows what Romney had been through. He knows how disappointing it is to lose an election. What kind of a guy would repeat a conversation he had with a former president unless he was trying to make him feel good?

We know who Mitt Romney is. He's a self-proclaiming Republican. I know he showed by his comment about the people receiving gifts, and then he repeats a version of a conversation he had with the guy to try to make him feel good. It tells me he's not a very good guy, it does. There is no point in doing that, but I find the whole thing kind of offensive, to tell you the truth.

FOREMAN: We're all moving on, James. A controversial Congress's bid for a recount is not moving on. It is stopped in its tracks. What a Florida judge told Representative Alan West today.

And the Israeli government says Gaza is becoming a frontal base for Iran. We're going to find out if they're right when we talk to CNN's Fareed Zakaria when he comes OUTFRONT.


FOREMAN: We start the second half of our show with some stories we care about, focusing on our own reporting from the front lines.

A Florida judge has denied Republican Representative Alan West's request for a recount in his race against Democratic candidate Patrick Murphy. West did call for a recount of all early ballots, citing many discrepancies with the votes.

CNN affiliate WPBF reports West was denied because his appeal did not meet the requirements for a temporary injunction. Murphy, meanwhile, declared victory last week. West is yet to concede and while his campaign says they respect the court's decision, they will continue to pursue their legal options.

An oil platform in the Gulf of Mexico burst into flames today, injuring at least 11 people. Crew members were airlifted from the platform, which is used for production, not for drilling. It's about 20 miles off the coast of Louisiana. The Coast Guard says about 28 gallons of fuel spilled in the area. A sheen of oil stretched about a half mile wide.

Four crew members are in critical condition and rescue planes are being used to search for at least two others who are still missing. Federal authorities are investigating what triggered that explosion out there.

It's been 470 days since the U.S. lost its top credit rating. What are we doing to get it back?

Well, maybe not this. Today, we learned that the output at U.S. mines, utilities and factories fell last month, but that was largely because superstorm Sandy disrupted production. So, that's not really our fault but it's certainly is another setback.

Our fourth story OUTFRONT: Amid all these fears tonight of an all-out war breaking out in the Middle East as the fighting between Israel and Hamas intensifies, Israel defense forces are accusing the terrorist group of turning Gaza into a frontal base for Iran.

So how does the conflict between Israel and Hamas help or hurt Iran? Fareed Zakaria is OUTFRONT tonight. He's the host of "FAREED ZAKARIA GPS". I spoke to him earlier and started by asking how this alliance between Iraq and Iran plays into the occasion.


FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN'S "FAREED ZAKARIA GPS": Well, right now, Iran has its hands full. It's got Syria collapsing on one side. It has Hamas in trouble.

So at a very simple, logistical level, this is more demands on Iran for resupplying of weapons for political support of various kinds, but there is a broad ideological game here where Iran wins, because Iran is seen as the great defender of the Palestinians in the Middle East these days. This is a role Iran has assiduously promoted. That's why Ahmadinejad keeps making this pro-Palestinian, anti-Israeli statement.

So, in that larger political sense, Iran is seen as one of the champions of the Palestinians.

FOREMAN: Will they still be seen as a champion if Israel goes in there and starts pushing back hard against Hamas and Iran does nothing, or do they risk then losing some of that cache?

ZAKARIA: Not really. I think everyone understands, look, Israel is one of the most powerful in the Middle East by far. It's going to have no trouble doing what it needs to in Gaza.

But the Iranians always play this political game, which is that they say to the people of the Arab world, we know you're supposed to fear us because we're the Persians, we're the Shia and you're Sunnis and you're Arab, but we are the greatest defenders of the great Arab cause, which is the Palestinian cause. And it works.

I can tell you, when you go to Cairo, to the shops of Cairo, you will see photographs of Ahmadinejad, an Iranian Persian leader. Why? Because he stands up for the Palestinians. That's the game the Iranians play.

And my guess is the more horrible the pictures are out of Gaza, the more there is a sense of the kind of this massive asymmetry of power between Israel and the Palestinians. The more Iran will be seen as one of the few countries that is willing to really stand up and speak against the West and, you know, they have -- as you know, very colorful rhetoric. But that's all geared towards this regional game where they're almost outwitting the Arab by being even more zealous in their defense of the Palestinians.

FOREMAN: You bring up sort of the political equation here. Let me veer off to Israel for a moment. Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu is up for reelection soon. How much do you think what's happening right now, the saber-rattling of Gaza, does or doesn't have anything to do with that for him?

ZAKARIA: Well, we have to hope this has nothing to do with that because this is a very serious business. Not only is he taking his own country into a military operation, he is risking regional stability because you have a whole different regional dynamic at play now. You have an elected government in Egypt which is going to have to respond to some of the feelings of its people. You have an elected government in Turkey that has already done it. You have the king of Jordan who is placed in this very precarious position where he can seem to be the only guy not attacking Israeli in the region.

So, you have all these regional dynamics that are very new as part of the consequence of the Arab Spring. And to risk stirring the pot for political gain would seem to be a very, very dangerous -- a very dangerous move. And I hope that's not what Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has done.

FOREMAN: One last I want to get to here very briefly. There's a new IAEA report that Iran is not really allowing U.N. inspectors to do what they want to do. In terms of the nuclear program, this has come up over and over again, problems like this. What do you make of that right now?

ZAKARIA: I think that the Iranians believe they have a fundamental right to enrichment and they do not believe they should have these intrusive sanctions on them and the intrusive inspections. That's their position. And until they -- until you have a deal, that is what they're going to do.

I feel as though we haven't spent a lot of time asking ourselves what the deal that could be had. We know what we want the Iranians to do. That's great and I agree with that.

But how do we get them there? You know, if you're not going to use sticks, what are the carrots we have? We haven't done a lot of creative thinking about that in Washington.


FOREMAN: Still OUTFRONT, former CIA Director David Petraeus told Congress today that immediately after the attack in Libya, immediately, he knew that al Qaeda-linked militants were behind it. So, why was the different story told the public?

And a special report from Dr. Sanjay Gupta, one you want to see about an epidemic in your home.

Stay with us.


FOREMAN: Our fifth story tonight OUTFRONT: the Benghazi debrief.

Former CIA Director David Petraeus told Congress today that immediately after the September 11th attack in Libya, he knew al Qaeda-linked militants were behind it. According to Republican Congressman Peter King, Petraeus' testimony today differed from what the Obama administration officials told the American people in the days following the incident. Petraeus said he helped to write unclassified talking points after the attack but had no direct involvement in writing the talking points used by Susan Rice, the ambassador to the U.N. who said publicly the attack was spontaneous and it was sparked by an anti- Muslim film.

I know this is complicated, but stick with us here.

The question remains: why didn't Rice's talking points include the fact that this was a terrorist act and a planned one and all of that?



REP. PETER KING (R-NY), INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: He said they went through a long process involving many agencies, including the Department of Justice, including the State Department, and no one knows yet exactly who came up with the final version of the talking points other than to say the original talking points prepared by the CIA were different than the ones that were finally put out.


FOREMAN: National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor tells CNN Rice's talking points were produced by the intelligence community, and that, quote, "The White House and State Department offered one edit, changing consulate to 'diplomatic facility' for accuracy."

Congressman Adam Schiff is a Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee and he was at the hearing with Petraeus today.

I'm glad you've joined us this evening.

What do you make of all this? You know Republicans were saying there were some kind of political shenanigans going on. You heard more of the testimony than we have. What do you think?

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D), CALIFORNIA: There was never any evidence to back that up. It was clear that the intelligence community at the outset got it wrong. Their assessment at the time, and this included General Petraeus when he initially met with us, they thought that there was a protest out in front of the consulate. They thought the violence took place either during the protest or after the protest.

Yes, there were militants involved. Yes, there were terrorists involved, but they thought it began spontaneously. We now know there was no protest.

But it certainly isn't accurate to say or suggest, as some of my colleagues have, that the White House is trying to put aside this or --

(CROSSTALK) FOREMAN: Hold on, wait a minute. We now know there was no protest. How long do you think it took us to know there was no protest? How long do you think it took for us to know there was no protest?

SCHIFF: I think the best evidence we got is when we finally obtained the video evidence, and that took some time. Even then --

FOREMAN: What is some time?

SCHIFF: Even then -- well, you know, that took I think that probably took a week to 10 days.


SCHIFF: Even then --

FOREMAN: So, let's say, it took 10 days. Let's say it took 10 days.


FOREMAN: Fourteen days after the event, President Obama was on "The View" and he was still using the word mob as if to suggest somehow there was a crowd. That's why Republicans are so upset about this. They may be right or wrong, but I think you have to admit they have some reason to be a little either confused or irritated that this kept being -- that this methodology kept going out there when the facts seem to say otherwise.

SCHIFF: Well, the DNI Clapper did issue a statement expressing basically that they had gotten it wrong in the initial assessment, that there wasn't a protest. But there are a lot of conflicting intelligence reports about -- even now about whether there was a protest there, about what the motivations were and were they motivated about retaliation for the death of one of their leaders, was it related to 9/11, was it related to Cairo, was it related to the video.

I think probably the truth of the matter is, there were great many people involved in this attack and some were motivated by all of the above. But the idea --

FOREMAN: Hold on a second, Congressman. Hold on a second.


FOREMAN: That sounds like you're going back to the line that somehow this was a protest. And now, you've already said the intelligence committee said they got it wrong, this was a planned attack on 9/11 on a U.S. diplomat. Correct?

SCHIFF: First of all, there is no definitive conclusion yet that this was a preplanned attack. And that is one of the key issues, not whether we call it terrorism or extremism. Clearly, it's a terrorist attack when you're firing mortars and RPGs.

The real question was how much was this planned in advance and who was responsible?

The intelligence community didn't know that when they first addressed us. We are still trying to get to the bottom of the degree to which it was preplanned and whether we should have seen any of this coming.

But to suggest as some have that there was a deliberate effort to manipulate the intelligence or mischaracterize it simply isn't the case, and what the general said today was the changes that were made in the multi-agency process of coming up with those talking points, they were changed in order to protect classified sources of information.

And the general made it clear -- there was no interference from the White House. He also made it clear, and I asked him about this, since the statements that our ambassador made on the Sunday talk shows followed immediately after, really, the morning after in the afternoon in which we got the talking points, that reflected the best assessment of the intelligence community at the time that could be shared without revealing potentially classified sources of information. That was what the general said today.

And for those who suggest that her talking points were watered down or changed for some malicious purpose or that she knew better, that is simply not the case. And it's inconsistent with what the general told us, it's inconsistent what the acting director Morrell told us. But I think some people are clinging to this theory developed during the presidential campaign and refuse to let it go notwithstanding all the facts to the contrary.

FOREMAN: Well, although I think you have to admit, if officials said from the beginning, "We don't know," instead of speculating, we wouldn't be here, would we?

SCHIFF: Well, they were being bombarded, frankly, by all of us on the committee who wanted to know, who wanted answers. Who was responsible? How did this start?

FOREMAN: All right.

SCHIFF: How did it get out of control? And they warned us their initial assessments were just that, and we're going to change as we gather more intelligence. Maybe, frankly, many of us on the committee should have listened more carefully when they said they didn't know the answers to some of these questions but this was their best initial assessment.

FOREMAN: All right. I really appreciate you being here very much. I'm sure we'll talk about it tomorrow.

SCHIFF: Thanks, Tom.

FOREMAN: Up next, a major change in how we look at illegal drug use. Dr. Sanjay Gupta has a special report. And no kidding, there was a run on Twinkies today. We'll tell you why.


FOREMAN: Let's see what's coming up on "A.C. 360."

Anderson, what do you have?

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, Tom. We are covering the breaking news ahead.

Less than an hour ago, another bomb exploded in Gaza. Local media reporting bombardment renewed. Sunrise just over three hours away in Gaza and this is what a new day will bring.

Israeli tanks and troops massed in the border, ready to launch a ground assault if the orders are given. We'll have all of the latest from the region with our reporters in the field, Tom.

FOREMAN: Always a fascinating show, Anderson. Don't miss it.

Tonight, a troubling trend: more Americans are addicted to prescription medication than ever before in our history. Imagine that. It's an epidemic taking the lives of more people than those who die from heroin, crack and methamphetamines combined.

OUTFRONT tonight, Dr. Sanjay Gupta with a preview of his special this weekend "Deadly Dose."


DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Tom, the problem is profound. Let me just put it like this -- 80 percent of the world's pain pills are consumed in the United States. That's enough to give every man, woman and child in the country a dose of pain pills every four hours for three weeks.

And these pain pills are ubiquitous and as a result, we're seeing the consequences, someone dying every 19 minutes. I learned about this in great detail from former President Clinton. He called me to tell me he had two friends who both lost sons in this manner, accidental deaths. And he said the perception of who these people are that are dying needs to be changed a little bit.

I want you to hear a description of one of these men.


STUART BRIDGE, FRIEND OF PRESCRIPTION DRUG OVERDOSE VICTIM: He worked for the State Department and he, you know, was going to graduate in a year with a dual law and MBA degree -- you know, the type of person that it just doesn't even run through your head that he's having a problem because he does so well.

WILLIAM J. CLINTON, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: He was industrious, but he was normal and liked to have a good time. He had -- I promise you that night, he had no idea that he was turning out the lights -- none. And if it's true of him it's got to be true of a lot of other people. (END VIDEO CLIPS)

GUPTA: So, Tom, I mean, again, the perception. Your perception should change of who these people that are dying of overdoses. They're our friends, our families and our neighbors.

The things you can do -- I mean, clean out your medicine cabinet. Get rid of those extra pills. You know, don't misuse these things. Don't take them with alcohol ever.

And keep in mind something that President Clinton told me. Not one of these people, these people who were dying every year, every 19 minutes, needs to die and I think we can all make a difference.

Tom, back to you.


FOREMAN: Fascinating stuff, Sanjay. You can catch "Deadly Dose" this Sunday at 8:00 p.m. Eastern, right here on CNN. Don't miss it.

Still OUTFRONT: our producer went to five different stores today before finding and buying one package of Twinkies. And soon it may be impossible.


FOREMAN: Hostess has announced -- Hostess has announced they're going to cease production. It's just the latest financial trouble for a company that was at one time the largest wholesale bakery in the U.S. They currently produce everything from Ding Dongs to Wonder Bread and its most famous product unquestionably right there, the Twinkie, which brings us to tonight's number: 500 million. That is the number of Twinkies that are produced every year.

People expect a shortage, but Twinkies, they're just everywhere. Before today's rush, store shelves across the country were overflowing with them, why? Because what they lacked in nutrition they made up in retro kitsch.

The Twinkie has appeared in films, in television shows like "Die Hard", "Ghostbusters", "Zombie Land". And when Sammy Davis Jr. visited "all in the Families, Archie Bunker served him a Twinkie, calling it the white man's soul food. There he is having that.

Hostess does also make an apple pie. You got to say there's an argument to be made here that the Twinkie -- the Twinkie -- may be America's most American of treats. And now, I guess, we're just going have to say goodbye to the Twinkie and goodbye to you, too.

Thanks for joining us.

"A.C. 360" starts right now.