Return to Transcripts main page
ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT
Obama: GOP Will Not Hold Middle Class Hostage; White House, GOP Make New Fiscal Cliff Offers; A Search For Justice In Libya; Authorities: "At Least One Dead" in Mall Shooting
Aired December 11, 2012 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: OUTFRONT next, we are just now learning of new offers on the table from both sides to avoid the fiscal cliff. So big question, do they add up?
Plus, it has been three months to the day since terrorists attacked the U.S. mission in Benghazi. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says the administration has done everything possible but still, no one has been brought to justice. Where do we stand?
Also, a new Hollywood movie highlights the work of a CIA analyst credited with tracking down Osama Bin Laden, but here's a big but, it also sheds some very serious light on in-fighting in the spy agency. You got to hear it to believe it. Let's go OUTFRONT.
Hi, everybody. I'm Ashleigh Banfield in tonight for Erin Burnett. And OUTFRONT tonight, our top developing story, we are just learning now that President Obama and the White House or rather, President Obama and the House speaker have spoken tonight.
Good news. This after they each fired another shot in the ongoing fight over how to resolve this fiscal cliff mess. CNN is now getting details about two new offers that were made and previously undisclosed, too. They kept a pretty tight lid on them.
One of them by President Obama, that was yesterday, then a counteroffer by the speaker. That was today. All of this as the president tells ABC News tonight that he is confident that Republicans will not hold middle class tax cuts hostage.
So there's a lot of news that's all of a sudden coming out after some relative quiet. Our White House correspondent Dan Lothian who is on the case joins me now by telephone.
Because you've been working your sources, take me into the conversation. All of this breaking late today and it sounds good. It sounds at least like there's some movement, Dan.
DAN LOTHIAN, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (via telephone): That's right. That's always been the issue, because as you know, it was just last week we were talking about the fact that there were no talks ongoing, not even behind the scenes.
And now these latest developments and as you pointed out, we didn't even know the White House had submitted another offer yesterday but confirmation coming from a senior administration official that in fact, the White House did submit that offer yesterday to House Republicans.
Today, there was a counteroffer from House Republicans, still waiting to find out details of that counteroffer then of course, President Obama having that phone conversation with Speaker Boehner this evening. Encouraging sign and as you pointed out, President Obama as well showing some optimism that in fact a deal will get done.
The few details we do know, according to sources, is that this new offer from the White House had $1.4 trillion in revenue. That's down from the $1.6 in the original offer and also, according to sources, deals with real entitlement reform.
But the one sticking point we're told by Democratic sources, remains and that is they won't budge on upper income Americans paying more in taxes. The president believing that middle class Americans should get relief, but not upper income Americans -- Ashleigh.
BANFIELD: OK, Dan Lothian, keep working the sources. Thanks for getting that to us immediately. It's wonderful. I want to bring in John Avlon and Reihan Salam to talk this through a little bit.
First guys, immediate reaction to the fact that we -- we have at least some momentum. I don't know if we can call it momentum, serious momentum, especially since we are still getting some rhetoric, too.
JOHN AVLON, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Yes, it's a little sad we get this excited to find out people are actually talking to each other in Washington. But it's a reality check, sign of the times.
It's always better when the two top men who got to make the decision ultimately are getting in a room without cameras and moving proposals back and forth. It's a sign of progress. It's a sign progress in the next 48 to 72 hours. That's probably optimistic, but progress is being made because conversations are occurring. That's good news for the American people.
BANFIELD: I hate to say this because it's counter intuitive for a TV news person to say I was really thrilled that we weren't getting a whole lot the last two days, which signaled to me at least maybe these guys have decided it's not good to work this out in the court of public opinion, yet now we're starting to hear a little more. Good news, bad news?
REIHAN SALAM, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I think it's encouraging. I think that among House Republicans there's an emerging view that was earlier on championed by Representative Cole of Oklahoma, wait a second, what we can do very straight forwardly is pass one law that extends all the middle income tax cuts.
And another one that extends the whole package including the high income rate reductions and then let the president veto one, let the other go through and we shield a large majority of American households from tax increases. Now, then you have a fight early next year that involves increasing the debt limit where Republicans will have far more leverage in which to make the case for structural entitlement reform.
I think there are a lot of people including Senator Bob Corker this past weekend and others who have come to embrace that view. I think that it makes a lot of sense for Republicans partly because I think if we do wind up going over the fiscal cliff as they say, it's psychologically likely to have a big impact.
BANFIELD: Are you getting sources to tell you that's what's in the offers, great philosophy, it's great view, but on paper?
SALAM: Well, the thing is that mechanically would be the easiest thing to do because the trouble is if you do not take that approach, one thing we've heard, for example, is that President Obama might embrace a tax rate lower than 39.6 percent, 37 percent, 36 percent, 38 percent.
But if you do that, then actually Republicans will have to put their stamp on such a deal, whereas if they actually just allow that part to expire, then they're saying you know what, we did our part. But we didn't actually embrace that increase, which to me makes a lot of sense.
BANFIELD: Let me throw out the speaker. He made comments earlier today. Since they came in so late we want to play what he had to say about the latest rounds of offers.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPRESENTATIVE JOHN BOEHNER (R), HOUSE SPEAKER: We're still waiting for the White House to identify what spending cuts the president is willing to make as part of the balanced approach that he promised the American people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BANFIELD: All right, so John Avlon, sounds like more posturing, but I wonder if while in quiet they negotiate, the political posturing goes on as part of the theatre to make sure that they quell all the frustration from their bases. So really, we were way closer to a deal than you or I or anybody else in the media knows.
AVLON: Look, there is certainly a lot of partisan kabuki here. The strategy that Reihan just laid out really is in part about making sure people can't get attacked from the right for saying, for example, they violated the pledge. No one voted for proactive tax increase.
But John Boehner is very much the man in the middle here. He's a deal maker at heart. He's not an ideologue. So I think a lot of his statements are about nullifying the base of the Republican Party, but the question is where is that common ground?
Look, his statement that the president hasn't put forward spending cuts or entitlement reform doesn't pass the credibility test because we know even in 2011, negotiations for the grand bargain that unfortunately for the country fell short. There were offers of significant spending cuts and entitlement reform, notably raising the Medicare eligibility age.
BANFIELD: So you are saying from past discussions?
AVLON: This negotiation, the president is offering raising the Medicare eligibility age. That is not nothing. That is a big deal, taking on some Democrat special cows.
I think the president wants a grand bargain because part of Reihan the fact that we go into another debt ceiling debacle potentially early next year, that's what led to the downgrading of the credit rating. We do not need that again as country.
BANFIELD: Despite the fact he says I'm willing to let us go over the fiscal cliff. Just quickly, this is dovetailing what you said before. If the Republicans have to sort of take it on the chin with their base for talking about taxing the rich, could they be now discussing in broad terms how to at least say the Democrats, you're going to take the hit for Medicare, then? We're not going take that.
SALAM: Well, the deeper structural issue is this. This is not the first fiscal cliff. We have a fiscal cliff every year with renewing the AMT, with fixing the Medicare payment rate, the so-called doc fix. We make policy in a crazy way in this country.
What I think Republicans are trying to do is say let's look at structural solutions that can lower the cost of these programs over the long term rather than doing a patch at the last minute every darn year. That's the way we make policy and it is absolutely crazy.
BANFIELD: Don't go out tonight. We could have further details breaking as we speak. Thanks to both of you, Reihan Salam and John Avlon for joining us.
Coming up next, on OUTFRONT it's been exactly three months, three months, since terrorists attacked our U.S. mission in Benghazi and yes, you haven't seen a headline about an arrest and any justice in any form.
Also, new information about that Navy SEAL who died during a daring rescue mission in Afghanistan. We will go to his hometown, meet the people who knew him best, hear more about him.
Also, the nurse who committed suicide after falling for a radio prank, what the radio station is now planning to do to help her family.
BANFIELD: Our second story OUTFRONT, desperate for answers. Three months to the day after terrorists attacked the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya and killed four Americans, including our U.S. Ambassador, Chris Stevens, not one person has been brought to justice.
The good news is the FBI has identified several suspects involved in the attack. The bad news is, Libya has no one in custody and some of the people we identified may have even fled Benghazi according to the "New York Times" so much for the key players.
As for the fringe players, an Egyptian militant has been arrested in Cairo with possible ties to the attack, but he hasn't been questioned by the U.S. and a Tunisian man was arrested in October, but he isn't considered a main suspect at this point, either.
So without a clear lead and without a whole lot of cooperation from the Libyan government either, the FBI has now resorted to asking for tips on Facebook and Twitter. Facebook and Twitter in a quadruple murder case.
OUTFRONT tonight, Senator Johnny Isakson on the House Foreign Relations Committee. Senator, thanks for being with us. Look, it is never easy doing an investigation of this ilk on someone else's sovereign turf, but does this stand out?
SENATOR JOHNNY ISAKSON (R), GEORGIA: Well, it does to me, Ashleigh. Your point is well taken. If they're looking to Twitter and Facebook three months later, they should have been on the ground within hours after the attack looking for hard evidence, which has now gotten cold. It has been a very disappointing investigation to date.
BANFIELD: Senator, I'm sorry, I can't hear you. I apologize. There's something wrong with my connection to you. Despite what your answer just was that I unfortunately could not hear, I'm going to throw another question at you and I apologize if you already addressed it.
Look, the Libyan government has a particular conundrum on its hands. It may not be helpful to our investigators, but it also is doing a delicate diplomatic dance internally with militants who they don't seem to be able to control, and if they target, could end up targeted themselves.
And they say they don't have anywhere near the kind of firepower that they need to offset what those militants could do. That does come into the mix, doesn't it?
ISAKSON: No question about it. I hope you can hear me now. Can you, Ashleigh? Can you hear me now?
ISAKSON: Obviously not. Yes, Benghazi is a dangerous place. Libya's ability to cooperate is not that great although we've had some cooperation. What we need is the accountability review board to come forward and make their report before the end of this year.
Which Senator Kerry has now said they will do to begin unraveling what happened and find out why United States ambassador died, first one to die in 34 years in the line of duty. BANFIELD: All right, I'm happy to announce, Senator, I just got your audio back on the last line of what you said. Probably one of the more strange interviews I think I have ever conducted.
Now that I can hear you, Representative Peter King, who sits on the Homeland Security Committee, has suggested that this is not a job for the CIA, not a job for the FBI, that only the military should be investigating this quadruple murder because he likens it to an act of war. Is that going too far?
ISAKSON: No. I think the military should be first and foremost, but I would also agree the CIA and FBI can help. I've seen the FBI active overseas make a big difference in a number of investigations. But principally the military should be doing it and we should have had people there to protect during the attack. Coming in after the attack is much, much harder.
BANFIELD: Let me ask you this as well. Senator John McCain, who has been Ambassador Susan Rice's harshest critic in how the information was disseminated after the attack on our mission in Benghazi, has now suggested he would like to make a move to get on your committee.
I think most people understand why he would like to have a really good crack at those confirmation hearings, making it a very difficult go for Ambassador Rice. What do you make of that?
ISAKSON: Well, I don't know that that's his motivation. John is a senior member of the Republican Conference in the United States Senate, a decorated war hero. He would make a great contribution to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
BANFIELD: A great contribution but do you also think he could politicize this even further as some of the critics have said?
ISAKSON: John's a man of great character. I saw his criticism of Susan Rice. I had some criticism myself. He was asking questions that need to be asked, as we get answers, that will solve those problems.
BANFIELD: Let me ask you one other thing when it comes to the mode of investigation that our government is now employing. I said it off the top of this introduction to you that the FBI has now taken to Facebook and Twitter.
Look, you can say what you want about that being an investigative technique, but Facebook and Twitter were widely credited for the Arab spring uprisings all across the Arab world so you can't make light that that is a pretty powerful tool.
It may just sound like we're kind of at wit's end. I'm not going to suggest you can give me information that's classified, but do you have a good sense at least that they're getting momentum with the tools they can use, that they're making some headway in their investigation in Libya? ISAKSON: Well, I understand from Senator Kerry we are going to have a report on the Accountability Review Board before the end of this year. That's the next three weeks. They must be making some progress.
I have been allowed to review some, but not all of the documents between the secretary of state and Chris Stevens. I have seen some of the communications. I have seen the requests for security.
What I haven't seen is the responses that they got or why they didn't get a response and get the security they needed. We were getting some of the answers. We need all of the answers and we need it sooner rather than later.
BANFIELD: Senator Isakson, it has been a delight to talk to you. It's been even a greater delight to hear you for the last half of our interview. I hope we get another chance to do this again sometime. Thanks, Senator.
ISAKSON: I hope so, too. Thank you.
BANFIELD: OK, so we're going to move on and with full audio ensuing, OUTFRONT next, during the daring rescue of an American doctor in Afghanistan, one of our country's most elite soldiers died. We will go to his hometown, hear a little bit more about him from the people who knew him best.
Also, new developments in the Trayvon Martin case. George Zimmerman's brother says his entire family now has to live in fear.
BANFIELD: Our third story OUTFRONT, he was one of America's elite warriors. High school graduate who earned a place among the U.S. Special Forces, a unit known for taking out Osama Bin Laden. He was known for achieving a near lifelong goal many can only dream of.
Now we're learning more about the Navy SEAL who died in that successful mission to rescue an American doctor who was being held captive in Afghanistan. Brian Todd is in his hometown and talking to some of the people who knew him best.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): He died doing what he dreamed about since middle school. His last operation was a success. The 28-year-old Nicolas Checque from the elite SEAL Team Six, the lone U.S. casualty in the mission that rescued American doctor Dilip Joseph from his captors in Afghanistan. Tony Troisi says he dreaded this day. Still --
TONY TROISI, FRIEND OF FALLEN SEAL: I never thought that anything like that could happen to him. He was always smarter. He was always faster. He was always, you know, always so dedicated. You know, just blew my mind when it happened. TODD: He played football and wrestled with Nick Checque in middle school, wrestled with him at Norwin High School outside Pittsburgh. Troisi and another teammate, Michael Choby, now the assistant principal at Norwin, remember Checque as a no nonsense kid who never wanted to be anything but a Navy SEAL.
(on camera): You had to go up against him in practice. What was that like?
MICHAEL CHOBY, WRESTLING TEAMMATE OF NICOLAS CHECQUE: When you got tired towards the end, he was still one of the kids that didn't slow down, that didn't give in.
TODD: Here at Norwin, Nick Checque was known as a good wrestler but not a superstar. What stood out to Tony Troisi was an operation that Nick got that didn't have anything to do with wrestling, Tony says, but had everything to do with Nick's determination and his goals.
TROISI: He had Lasik eye surgery when he was a junior in high school.
TODD: Why did he do that?
TROISI: To weed out any complications or any doubt that anybody would have for him to succeed in the SEALs. He wanted perfection.
TODD (voice-over): Physics teacher, Doug Knipple, remembers a kid who strive for perfection in the classroom, too.
DOUG KNIPPLE, NICOLAS CHECQUE'S PHYSICS TEACHER: He would solve problems in ways I didn't show him, but they would be right.
TODD: A four-year honor student Knipple says who never thought about going to college. Checque went straight into the Navy from high school. In 10 years, he served in Iraq and Afghanistan. He was awarded the Bronze Star and other commendations and made it on the unit he had set his sights on.
Now the loss is just sinking in for a friend who says Nick inspired him to join the Navy, to spend 10 years of his life there and to now go to college.
TROISI: To know SEAL Team Six, to know what he did, see how far he got, amazing. I'm going to need a minute.
BANFIELD: That's so emotional. Brian, that is not the only loss that the people of that high school have had to endure, is it?
TODD: It is not. There was another loss from this high school and another high profile battle in Afghanistan back in September. A Lieutenant Colonel Christopher Ravel, a Marine lieutenant colonel, was killed in that well-known attack on Camp Bastion in Afghanistan. That's when militants dressed as U.S. Army soldiers, they breached the perimeter there, were repelled. He led that attack. That's the operation the militants were said to be out to kill Britain's Prince Harry in that raid.
This man, Lieutenant Colonel Christopher Ravel, led the counterattack and was killed in that battle. He is also a graduate of this high school, graduated about 12 years before Nick Checque did.
BANFIELD: You can just feel the loss and the emotion among those people you interviewed. Brian, thanks. Appreciate that. Brian Todd reporting for us live.
I've got a programming note for you regarding Afghanistan. Erin Burnett is going to be there and she will be live on Thursday for this program, reporting on the future and what's at stake for Afghanistan.
Still ahead, a historic defeat for unions in Michigan today, they can no longer force workers to join them or pay dues either.
And a new movie celebrates the actions of the analyst who tracked down Osama Bin Laden. But it also reveals some pretty serious in- fighting inside the CIA.
BANFIELD: Some breaking news we want to bring to your attention. This coming to us out of Oregon. In fact, a suburb of Portland, Oregon. You can see emergency vehicles are responding to a shopping center where apparently an active shooter is inside the mall.
Take a look at the number of cars that are in the parking lot and being that this is peak Christmas shopping season, you can imagine there are probably quite a few people inside that mall at this time. We don't know much about this, but we have been told that there are possibly multiple victims.
Again, this is an active shooter and a breaking situation and you can see that some of the emergency vehicles are still arriving on the scene. Again, a suburb of Portland, Oregon. These pictures coming to us from the helicopter live courtesy of our affiliate, KATU.
We're going to keep an eye on this story for you and as we zoom in to see if we can see a stretcher is coming out of that ambulance, but it looks like it's an empty one. At this point, again, only some of the reports suggesting there have been multiple victims but we don't know if there have been any people killed.
We will continue to get you the updated details on this story as they become available to us.
And also tonight, President Obama says his administration will formally recognize the Syrian opposition forces fighting with Syrian President Bashir al Assad. Here's what the president told ABC News' Barbara Walters.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We made a decision that the Syrian opposition coalition is now inclusive enough, is reflective and representative enough of the Syrian population that we consider them the legitimate representative of the Syrian people in opposition to the Assad regime.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BANFIELD: This, by the way, comes nearly a month after Britain and France recognized the coalition. And the move is important to the coalition. It is looking to get rid of this man, al Assad.
But it doesn't mean Washington will be giving them weapons any time soon. That is a huge sticking point.
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, meanwhile, is saying there is no new intelligence that's indicating Assad's regime is moving any closer to using the chemical weapons that had so many people on edge just earlier this week.
Tonight, we are also learning that an American has been held in North Korea for more than a month now. According to South Korean newspapers, Kenneth Bae is a tour operator who was detained after someone on his tour was found carrying a computer hard disk with sensitive information. A U.S. official told us there are no signs that Bae has been mistreated. The Swedish government which acts as the protecting power for the U.S. in North Korea is reportedly working to help get him released.
An Australian radio station is donating money to a fund that was set up for the nurse's family. That nurse who apparently committed suicide in England. 2DayFM say they will donate at least $520,000 to the nurse's family. Two deejays at the station called the hospital where Prince William's wife was being treated and pretended to be Queen Elizabeth and Prince Charles. The nurse who first answered the call, Jacintha Saldanha, was later found dead of an apparent suicide.
It has been 495 days since the U.S. lost its top credit rating. The question you keep hearing, what are we doing to get it back?
It seems the companies continue to expand despite the dreaded fiscal cliff. The Labor Department reports job openings rose by 128,000 from September to October. That means a total of 3.7 million positions are just waiting to be filled.
Our fourth story OUTFRONT tonight: a developing story out of Michigan. The state's governor has just announced that he has signed two extremely controversial bills. They are right-to-work bills and boy, has there been noise over these.
This now makes it illegal to force any workers to join a union or perhaps more importantly, pay union dues in order to get a job. Thousands of angry crowds have been outside of the state capitol all day long. This has been the scene.
And our Poppy Harlow has been right smack-dab in the middle of it all. She joins me now on OUTFRONT.
So, the governor has decided to talk about this. What has he said this means for his state?
POPPY HARLOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Ashleigh, I joined the governor tonight for an interview after this legislation was passed, really right before, minutes before he signed it into law.
This is critical because as you said, it means people won't have to be part of a union. All those auto workers here in Michigan, all those public school teachers, who normally have to pay into the union. Likely, we're going to see fewer union members, less money, less power for these unions at the bargaining table. That's the crux of this.
The governor insisting to me in our one-on-one interview that this is an opportunity to quote, "stand up for the rights of workers", also telling me that he thinks this is in the best interest of Michiganders.
Well, let's play video and show you what the workers think and how they showed that today inside the state capitol, chanting things like "shame" and "veto, veto", hoping the governor would strike this down. Then actually moving, Ashleigh, across the street from the capitol to stage a sit-in in the governor's office and our cameras were there rolling on it until police escorted the media out.
So the tensions were very high here all day, but the main argument by the governor is he thinks this will bring companies and jobs to the state of Michigan, something this state desperately needs. Here's what he told me.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. RICK SNYDER (R), MICHIGAN: I think we'll see thousands of jobs coming to Michigan. This will be a big promoter of that. I think you're going to find people stepping up to say they want choice. Union members will want choice and they do want choice. And hopefully unions can be more accountable and more responsive and successful by doing these things.
So, this is a case, as time passes, I think people are going to be proud of this legislation. It's going to be a good thing for Michigan.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARLOW: That's still to be seen. What the data shows is that typically, union workers make more than their nonunion counterparts, Ashleigh. But if you do make lower wages, that's going to make this state more competitive for businesses to come in. So it's really a toss-up.
The governor cited Michigan's next door neighbor, the state of Indiana, to me. They just passed right-to-work legislation in February. He said Indiana is seeing a gain of thousands of jobs. We want that here in Michigan. Actually, the difference between Michigan and Indiana is Indiana is a red state. They did not vote for the president this year. This state voted for the president by nine points.
So the question is, in two years, when we possibly have a new governor, possibly a new legislature, does this get overturned. Will companies be willing to really come in and plant their foot here and create jobs here? That's a big question.
BANFIELD: They may have voted for a Democratic president but they have both an assembly and Senate that are majority Republican. And you can see the result.
Poppy Harlow, stand by, if you will, for a moment.
HARLOW: All right.
BANFIELD: I want to bring in John Avlon to give us a little perspective on all of this.
Break it down, when we talk about the employment economies of states that are right-to-work states and states that are not right-to- work states. Is one better than the other?
JOHN AVLON, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: This really gets to the heart of cutting through the spin, because, you know, there are so many partisan special interests that do the analysis. We called the Bureau of Labor Statistics. It is clear that right-to-work states have a slight edge on unemployment. Unemployment rate in right-to-work states, 7.6 percent. In non-right-to-work states, union states, 6.9 percent.
BANFIELD: Oh, jobs, great. How about wages?
AVLON: And that's the rub. Because analysis here shows analysis in 2007 by Hofstra University said there are less bankruptcies in right-to-work states but wages and overall earnings are in aggregate less.
So, again, here, states can point to a higher unemployment rate, rather, lower unemployment rate in right-to-work states but it comes out of the wages. So, it really becomes part of the pitch states can make two businesses.
BANFIELD: And while we can do measurements on unemployment statistics and hard wage numbers, it's a little more tricky to find out what the benefits are of benefits and measuring benefits.
AVLON: That's exactly right. And this is part of the key debate. Union -- contracts have great benefits. That's part of the pitch that's been made for generations but with those benefits come real cost, especially to private sector companies.
So it's part of the competitiveness pitch. Governor Snyder, he wants more businesses to move into his state. He believes this actually will do it. What's so contentious about Michigan, as Poppy was saying, is the huge union tradition in this state, the heart of the auto industry. So when Michigan passes right-to-work legislation, becoming the 24th state, not only is the nation at sort of a tipping point, but it is a shot across the bow of a state with a deep union tradition.
BANFIELD: So, a lot of analysts watching these scenes play out in front of the statehouse today were equating this with Wisconsin. It wasn't long ago that the statehouse was overtaken in Wisconsin as well in collective bargaining with the issue there.
Explain to me why this is not Wisconsin.
AVLON: Because Wisconsin was all about public sector unions. Governor Walker going in in a swing state and trying to curtail collective bargaining rights for public sector unions.
There's a world of difference here which is about right-to-work for private sector unions. So while there is an impulse to paint with a broad brush because the protests at the state capitol are eerily similar, it's a fundamentally different issue at hand. Wisconsin, not a right-to-work state.
BANFIELD: I knew you would have the answer to that.
John Avlon, always good to see you. Thank you.
AVLON: Great to see you.
BANFIELD: Great analysis.
All right. You could call this next story office politics at their worst, which would be comical were we not talking about the CIA and the agents who helped track down Osama bin Laden. "Zero Dark Thirty" is a new movie about that raid.
And back story to this movie is shedding some light on one of the key figures who tracked him down, a female analyst. As one former CIA associate told "The Washington Post", agents are so jealous over the attention that she's been getting, they are behaving, quote, "like middle schoolers with security clearances."
Barbara Starr has more.
JESSICA CHASTAIN, ACTRESS, ZERO DARK THIRTY: There are two narratives about the location of Osama bin Laden.
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Behind the character, Hollywood "It" girl Jessica Chastain portrays in the new movie "Zero Dark Thirty" --
CHASTAIN: This is an incredible woman who can't get credit for sacrifices she's made because she's under cover.
STARR: -- there is a controversial real woman. The CIA analyst is said to be in her 30s. She served in Pakistan.
By many accounts, she was instrumental in finding where Osama bin Laden was hiding.
GREG MILLER, WASHINGTON POST: Everybody describes her as a very headstrong and even combative personality at times.
STARR: "Washington Post" reporter Greg Miller says this CIA targeting expert who found bin Laden has become a target herself.
MILLER: She has rankled colleagues and sort of scuffles over credit for the operation.
STARR: Former Navy SEAL Matt Bissonnette, who was part of the raid, described her in a "60 Minutes" interview.
MATT BISSONNETTE, FORMER NAVY SEAL: I can't give her enough credit. In my opinion, she kind of teed up this whole thing and just wicked smart, kind of feisty.
STARR: Miller says the analyst received a cash bonus for her work but still felt slighted.
MILLER: She got a more prestigious award than most but nevertheless was put out basically that others were included on the list.
STARR: The CIA insists no single person found bin Laden, telling CNN, quote, "Hundreds of analysts, operators and many others played key roles in the hunt."
But there are questions to be answered.
MILLER: She also is under some scrutiny for her interactions with the filmmakers as part of a broader inquiry at the agency.
STARR: Whatever happened, the CIA analyst was not promoted.
MILLER: It was stunning to a lot of people inside the CIA that this person who played such an important role in such a historic mission was blocked from getting a pretty basic promotion.
STARR: Former case officer Bob Baer wonders if the CIA still can't cope with a supposedly prickly personality from a woman.
BOB BAER, FORMER CIA CASE OFFICER: If you run down bin Laden, I don't care what your personality is like, you should immediately get promoted.
STARR (on camera): The CIA has never announced it, but it does have a panel of retired experts looking at why women are not being promoted aggressively. It's been a problem at the agency for decades, even though dozens of women have worked on the hunt for Osama bin Laden since the morning of 9/11.
Barbara Starr, CNN, the Pentagon. (END VIDEOTAPE)
BANFIELD: Barbara, thank you.
OUTFRONT next, the latest in the Trayvon Martin case. George Zimmerman was in court today. Did he gain or lose any ground in his case?
And also, will William and Kate have a boy or girl? How that information might actually be worth thousands of dollars? Believe it or not.
Also, we're going to take you back to Oregon where there's an active shooting actually underway right now at a mall, just outside of Portland. We're going to give you the details on that in just a moment. The news is breaking and we got reporters on it.
BANFIELD: I want to bring some new details to you about that shooting in Oregon, just outside of Portland, in a suburb at a mall there. You can see the emergency vehicles on the scene. There is an active shooting that's under way right now at the mall.
We're learning a little bit more about the potential for victims here. The American medical response in that community has said that one victim has already been transported to the hospital, that 10 ambulances are there and more are coming. At least two more ambulances are on the way as we speak.
Not only that, but Clackamas County medical examiner's office has been called to the scene as well. We do not know how many victims have been brought out of this mall at this time, but we do know that police are inside the mall, apparently doing a sweep looking for the shooter, at the same time looking for victims and bringing them out as they find them.
Our affiliate KOIN is doing some rolling coverage of this. We want to just dip into their coverage to hear some of the details they're learning live.
TV ANCHOR: Christina, we have to go to a news conference. We're so grateful that your daughter is OK. This is --
LT. JAMES RHODES, CLACKAMAS COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE: And we have several units from local county, state, city, federal agencies helping us methodically clear the mall, evacuate some wounded, and do a thorough search to make sure everything is safe.
Again, at this point, this is no longer an active shooter. I believe the shooter has been neutralized. We are securing the mall, securing the scene and treating the wounded.
REPORTER: How many people have been shot?
RHODES: I don't have the exact number of patients. We have multiple EMS units here, Clackamas Fire Department, Clackamas County Fire District, AMR and Life Flight and we have several EMS units on scene to treat the wounded. We know there are multiple wounded. Life Flight has landed to treat at least one of those wounded. We are set up to treat them as we find them as we search the mall.
REPORTER: We have been hearing there are confirmed dead. Can you tell us that?
RHODES: There are confirmed dead. I don't have any numbers or details about that.
REPORTER: When you say neutralized, has he surrendered, been taken into custody, shot and killed?
RHODES: I don't have any details in regards to that. I will get those details and release them soon, but there's no longer any shooting going on. He has been --
REPORTER: We heard the mall had been locked down, but we have been talking to several people who are on the phone who say it hasn't and they are still walking around. Some people are hiding in there, waiting to be told what to do.
RHODES: We know of several groups of employees that have locked themselves in break rooms and bathrooms. One at a time, very carefully, we are addressing each of those groups, and so we have several teams of law enforcement working through the mall, finding and gathering up those groups and escorting them out.
If you were a witness to this or have any information, you are here at the town center, please approach law enforcement or wait to be contacted by law enforcement so we can take that information before you leave.
If you have already left, please contact the Clackamas County sheriff's office. If you're in the area, please come to the Clackamas County Sheriff's on Sunnybrook Boulevard. We're prepared to take your information there.
REPORTER: Do you have any idea what went on here, who this guy was?
RHODES: I don't have any details about identification, motive or anything of that nature.
REPORTER: We heard reports that he had an AR-15 rifle. Is that report?
RHODES: There are reports he had a firearm. And -- I mean, there's been lot of reports, lot of conflicting information. That's normal for this type of situation.
So, until I see it personally or get that verified, I can't confirm what the weapon was.
REPORTER: Is the shooter still alive? RHODES: The shooter's been neutralized, I don't have the exact information on that. I will give it you soon as I have it.
REPORTER: Do you know how many officers are here inside and out?
RHODES: I don't have an estimate. I don't have an exact count. But there's probably --there's county, multiple cities, state, federal law enforcement, so dozens and dozens and dozens of officers.
REPORTER: Can you confirm what the shooter was wearing?
RHODES: I cannot. I will not -- I have no details to release about the shooter at this time.
REPORTER: Are we talking about more than one person dead?
RHODES: We believe there's at least one deceased and maybe more.
REPORTER: Any idea how many shots were fired?
REPORTER: People who have not heard from their family members may be worried that they could be here or could be hurt, what do you want them to know? What's your advice?
RHODES: Be patient. The event has calmed down at this point. There are people that you won't be able to reach until we get them out of the mall and get them to a phone. There would be people who are giving interviews ands talking to police that you won't be able to reach.
So be patient with us. We're trying to get everybody in contact with their loved ones as soon as possible. If they have questions or concerns, they can come to the Clackamas County Sheriff's Office and we'll answer those questions as soon as we can.
REPORTER: Can you walk us through at least the basics of how this began, what people saw and where he went?
RHODES: So, the -- of course, when these things happen, the initial call, lots of calls, lots of witnesses through 911. So, we respond immediately to the scene, several officers close by. Lots of conflicting information about location, number of people and that type of stuff. We do our best to work through that, respond to what the witness reports say, what we hear and what we see, and move as fast as we can to address and stop the situation.
REPORTER: The first officers ran in to try to find him?
REPORTER: Do you know whether he was methodical about this? Was he firing widely?
RHODES: I don't have any of those details yet. I imagine as the investigation continues and we can do video surveillance and that kind of stuff, we will get those answers. But as it stands now, that's too soon to tell.
REPORTER: Appreciate the sensitivity of using the word "neutralize," but I think the folks at home want to know is this guy dead?
RHODES: Again, I will release that information as soon as I can verify it, but he's been neutralized.
REPORTER: There's only one shooter.
RHODES: Again, we got lots of reporters, so there were conflicting reports that there were maybe more than one shooter. We know, I can tell you that one of them has been neutralized. We are trying to confirm if there are any other or not. We don't have that information, we don't believe there are any other shooters, but we're going to be careful and we're going to search the whole mall and make sure.
The mall will be closed for the duration of this. And that's it. I will give another briefing at 5:30 with some more details.
REPORTER: There's a number of people lined up against the wall back there, are those customers or are they able to leave?
RHODES: I don't know. I don't know who they are. They may be witnesses we need to talk to. Thank you again -- 5:30 I'll give another briefing here.
TV ANCHOR: That was a news conference from Clackamas County Sheriff's Department. And here's what they had to say. At about 3:30, a man --
BANFIELD: So we've been watching the live rolling coverage from KOIN, our affiliate in Oregon.
And the headline here that the shooter in the words of Lieutenant James Rhodes of the Clackamas County Sheriff's Office there, has been neutralized, but he refused to elaborate on whether police shot the shooter and killed him or whether he has just been apprehended. That is apparently information that will come out later.
But we do know this: at least one person has been killed, possibly more according to the lieutenant. And without question the sweep continues, not the only find people to get them out, escort them out, as he put it, but also to find if there are additional victims as well.
He did say that there are several different law enforcement agencies from the city, state all the way to the federal level.
And the reports that there might have been more shooters, he's addressing that. He doesn't believe that there are more shooters, but they are continuing to watch that. He also mentioned that Life Flight has arrived on the scene, apparently to attend to at least one of the victim of the shooting.
You can see all of the ambulances. There were apparently just 10 of them on the scene moments ago with another two on the way. But again, the headline here, at least one confirmed dead, possibly more. No idea on the number of victims at that point.
Holli Bautista was at the mall at the time this all began to develop. She's on the phone with us now.
Holli, can you hear me?
HOLLI BAUTISTA, WITNESS AT OREGON MALL SHOOTING (via telephone): Yes, I can.
BANFIELD: Holly, describe for me what you saw and what you know about all this.
BAUTISTA: I was in the Macy's, which is actually opens directly into the food court area. I was just shopping for my daughter. And you know, I heard what I thought sounded like firecrackers. Unfortunately, you know, those were gunshots.
The next thing I saw was people ducking and, you know, running towards exits and screaming, there's somebody shooting. So, you know, there are multiple children around. Everybody was really just working to help each other get out. And while that was happening all I could hear was gunshots continuing.
BANFIELD: Did you see anything? Did you see anyone on the ground? Did you see a shooter?
BAUTISTA: I did not. Fortunately, I did not.
Like I said, the only thing I saw were people ducking. I didn't see anybody who may have been injured. But no I did not. I was really focused on getting out and making sure people around me did as well.
BANFIELD: How many people were with you at the time? Just very round estimates. Was it a very crowded night at the mall?
BAUTISTA: You know, it's mid-afternoon here on a weekday. It's a little bit higher populated because it's the holidays, but, you know, in the area I was in I would say upwards of 100 people headed towards the doors, towards the side. I really couldn't estimate, unfortunately, but it was rather crowded for a Portland area mall.
BANFIELD: And how quickly were you able to get out of the mall. And were you with any other people? Were you all able to get out very quickly?
BAUTISTA: You know, the side doors are a little bit smaller. So there were quite a few people who rushed there. We were able to get out within minutes.
You know, once we were out, law enforcement responded and the exits were blocked. They were on it very quickly. You know, there's multiple agencies here working very hard. But, you know, we weren't able to leave our vehicles in the parking lot because they were completely locked down on the perimeter.
So, I just within the last half hour was able to get across the street to another area with my vehicle.
BANFIELD: And, Holli, take me back inside the mall for a moment. You said a detail that has stuck with me, that there were lots of children at the mall. Can you just describe for me when you started to hear the shots, what were the parents and the children at that point doing? What did the scene look like?
BAUTISTA: It was very chaotic, as it still is. You know, people really were racing towards exits and yelling, you know? That was the first thing that really caught my attention.
It's 3:30, school is out in some of these areas. And so, you know, I was in one of the upper parts where there's a children's section. So, people were headed that way, obviously, making sure everybody around them was getting out.
It seemed like people were working together, you know, during tragedy and terrified. I don't think anybody really knew what was going on or how severe it was. It was scary.
You said that you were either at or near the Macy's in the mall. I'm just trying to get an aerial look from the helicopter pictures that we're seeing live, but do you have any idea how far away from you or in what direction of the mall, what area, what stores that shooter may have been close to?
BAUTISTA: What I'm hearing around me is that it was in the food court, which is the open area, which is literally the central point for the entire mall. All the stores that surround the food court open into the food court area. There's an escalator in the location. There are multiple stores that center in that area.
So, the area I was in opened into the food court area.
BANFIELD: But you couldn't see anything transpiring in the food court. You couldn't see anybody being shot, you couldn't see a shooter. What did you --
BAUTISTA: No, I didn't look.
BANFIELD: What did you see when you got out? Did you see any injured, anybody on stretchers, anybody being evacuated?
BAUTISTA: As of right now, there are incident tents set up outside one of the areas at the exit. There are at least 10 ambulances wind up there, some are backing into triage areas.
When I got outside there were people coming out from all different areas. They're saying there's still some people locked down in the mall, that the sheriff's office is going through and out and bringing, but, you know, I think they're trying to bring everybody out as safely as possible while trying to handle the situation.
BANFIELD: Holli, they say they're doing a sweep try to get people who may still be in the mall out, as you said. But were you able to see, once you emerged into the parking lot, were you able to see any victims being brought out, anybody who was clearly shot or took fire or has been rescued or evacuated or rushed off in an ambulance?
BAUTISTA: I have not. There is one entrance, though, on the lower side of the Macy's near the REI store that it seems like EMS is coming out with people.
I'm getting across the street now, so I can't visually see anybody, but they have a lot roped off and they have tents out there for privacy for people that are injured.
BANFIELD: Just quickly, when you emerged, were the police there right away? Did anybody help you get out? Did they question you at all about what you'd seen?
BAUTISTA: I'm sorry, could you repeat that really quick?
BANFIELD: Did the police question you at all? Were you able to give them any information?
BAUTISTA: No, the police were all responding, going inside the mall. They were locking everything down, so their primary concern was making sure that it was safe. They had asked people to line up if they were witnesses or to stay in the area (INAUDIBLE) evacuate vehicles. So, yes, they're on it.
BANFIELD: Holli, I'm glad you're safe. And thank you for all of your help in reporting this story tonight. We appreciate it. We're flat out of time.
"ANDERSON COOPER 360" starts now.