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ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT
Americans Held Hostage In Algeria; How The NRA Gets What It Wants; Manti Te'O Victim Of Hoax; Interview with Congressman Rogers; Interview with Congressman Royce
Aired January 16, 2013 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: OUTFRONT next, militants are holding several Americans hostage in Algeria tonight. The leader of an Islamist group tells me it is because the west joins the war in Mali.
Plus, President Obama proposes 23 executive actions that he says are going to cut gun violence in America. How the NRA's deep pockets could stop the president's plan in its tracks.
And a truly bizarre story, we all heard how a Notre Dame player overcame the death of his girlfriend to play in the biggest game in college football, but it appears that was a hoax. Let's go OUTFRONT.
Good evening, everyone. I'm Erin Burnett. OUTFRONT tonight, Americans held hostage. Islamist militants linked to al Qaeda have claimed responsibility for an attack on gas field workers in the Algerian desert. Here is State Department's spokeswoman, Victoria Nuland.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VICTORIA NULAND, SPOKESWOMAN, STATE DEPARTMENT: The best information that we have at this time is that U.S. citizens are among the hostages. I hope you will understand that in order to protect their safety I am not going to get into numbers. I am not going to get into names.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: The number of American hostages has been fluid today. An Islamic militant leader told us there were seven American hostages and U.S. official tells CNN now that there could be as few as three Americans still being held.
Here's what we know. The attack took place this morning at a BP gas field in Southern Algeria in response to France's military offensive against Islamist militants in Mali. Now the Obama administration was quick to react.
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta called it a terrorist attack. The U.S. official told me this afternoon that as of now the attack appeared organized not spontaneous. As we have been reporting for many months al Qaeda inspired and linked groups are flourishing in Northern Africa. Earlier today, we spoke to Omar Hamaha, a military leader in the Islamist group, Ansar Dine, which has taken over and terrorized Northern Mali. He is working with one of al Qaeda's most senior leaders in Africa, Mokhtar Belmokhtar, who has claimed responsibility for today's attack.
The fate of the hostages, well, they are at risk because things have to change. That's what he just said. Tonight, we cover the story from every angle and we will be speaking with House Intelligence Chairman Mike Rogers and House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce.
We begin with CNN Pentagon correspondent, Chris Lawrence. Chris, obviously, this has been developing throughout the day and we have been all struggling to chase this down and get the details.
The U.S. government says it is taking the lead on the hostage situation. What is it doing tonight to make sure that the Americans who are being held hostage even though we're not sure exactly how many there are at this time are safe?
CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Erin, the first thing they gave was to get some satellite surveillance over that area, which means that the FBI can now monitor to some extent what is happening on the ground. The next thing that the U.S. military did was upgrade the readiness status of the so-called commanders and extremists force.
This is the small, lethal counter terrorism force that U.S. Africa command did not have when the consulate was attacked in Benghazi, Libya. It was stood up after that and allows Africa command to have a ready to go special operations team dedicated to hostage rescue and counterterrorism.
Now this team we are told was already on its way to Senegal to be in place for any potential missions that might come up in Mali. They have now been diverted. They are in an undisclosed location.
They don't have any order to go yet and the defense official says with the number of hostages, with the number of potential hostage takers there it would be an extremely dangerous assault mission. They are all hoping there is some sort of diplomatic solution to this crisis.
BURNETT: Certainly a shock to many how quickly it happened. Now as I know, we all have been trying to understand what happened and when these workers were seized on their way to work or what was exactly happening.
What can you tell us about that, about the moment that they were taken? And you know, given -- as we just reported, the U.S. government was very quick to say in this case, they believed this was an organized and pre-planned attack.
LAWRENCE: You're exactly right. Here is what we know from Algeria's Interior Minister who says basically that an oil field in Southern Algeria was attacked by militants. Several hostages were taken there. This was an oil field just about maybe 40 miles from the border of Libya.
Then a group of westerners was on its way to the airport where they were attacked by another group of militants. Algerian security forces who were with them fired back. The militants retreated back to this BP oil facility, sort of the main base and there they took more hostages, both Algerian and westerners.
Now although the group has claimed responsibility, had said that it did so out of retaliation for Algeria allowing the French to use its air space for those operations in Mali, a U.S. official who CNN has spoken to has said the level of planning indicates that this was in the works even before those French missions even took place.
And it is likely that the group is using this sort of as a cover to protect its level of planning. In other words, the French, you know, flights over Algeria into Mali, they are using that to say this is the impetus for the attack when, in fact, U.S. officials now believe that this may have been in the works for some time.
BURNETT: All right, a very important detail. Thanks very much to Chris Lawrence with the latest there from the Pentagon.
Now earlier today we spoke to Omar Hamaha, a military leader in the Islamist group, Ansar Dine. Now as we told you, he says he is working with Mokhtar Belmokhtar, who is the man who has claimed responsibility for the attack today. Again, I'll put the emphasis on claimed. We asked Omar about the hostage situation in Algeria.
Ansar Dine is linked to al Qaeda and is fighting France to maintain control over Northern Mali. Now we spoke to other sources on the ground in Mali today who told me that the Islamist groups have at most 2,000 fighters and in Mali alone that 2,000 a combat zone the size of Texas.
When you look at that way it's not very many people. You may say how big of a threat can they be? When we asked Omar, the Islamist leader, how many fighters he had it was a question he didn't want to talk about. He has refused to answer that question before when we asked him and he refused again today.
We'll play you in a moment what he had to say, but basically he says it doesn't matter whether we have 2,000 fighters or we have 10 fighters, we are going to be effective and this fight has moved from Northern and West Africa to Great Britain and the United States.
Representative Ed Royce is the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Today, he called the terrorist attack in Algeria the latest demonstration of a large and growing radical movement across North Africa.
Representative Royce also supports the French offensive against the militants in Mali and he is OUTFRONT tonight. Chairman, thank you very much for taking the time. I appreciate it. The Islamist military commander that we spoke to whom you just heard there said they demand an end to the war to release the hostages. Although you are hearing the latest reporting here at CNN is that this attack had been in the works before the French involvement in Mali, the formal military involvement. The question is should the United States be negotiating with these al Qaeda linked groups?
REPRESENTATIVE ED ROYCE (R), CALIFORNIA: Here is the difficulty, Erin, and you have done some great reporting on this. But as you know, for the last six years this particular al Qaeda affiliate has been taking westerners as hostages, many of them French, and as a result, they have been using this for bargaining power and then collecting ransom.
Here's the problem. They then use the monetary ransom in order to build their organization. They are also freshly supplied now from some of the weapons that they picked up in Libya. So we have a situation, frankly, where I think we have to hope that the French foreign legion forces and other French forces engaged make very quick progress.
I say that because once they get in Mali, they could do some real damage over the long haul. That is why you don't want this to become a staging ground for the growth of this organization.
BURNETT: Right now -- you know, one other thing I heard today, Chairman, was speculation -- you know, British Petroleum, BP, obviously is one of the employers at this joint venture along with the company. Obviously these workers carry on a very high ransom or kidnapping insurance, right.
These companies have insurance. They have the ability to pay ransom if they need to. And I wanted just put this very difficult question to you. Should BP pay it if they think they can get these people out alive?
These Americans whose lives are at risk even if that money is going to fund al Qaeda if the other option is some sort of U.S. military special operations raid that may or may not work in which lives could be lost.
ROYCE: Here's the conundrum, the payment of those ransom dollars in the past have helped build this organization, this al Qaeda affiliate. And now it has chapters in countries all over Europe, which intelligence sources are trying to close down.
So the best policy probably from the long haul is to eliminate with a raid, try to eliminate this cell group that has taken the hostages if we can do it successfully and the overall policy has to be to succeed.
Because you already see just how brutal on the local culture this organization has been as it has tried to change the culture, it is doing it with amputations. It's doing it with mass murder. At this point, the French engagement is to try to wipe out al Qaeda in Maghreb.
BURNETT: So to be clear you would prefer a raid, Special Forces raid, as opposed to ransom. I know you said that, but just to make it loud and clear.
ROYCE: If our quick reaction force feels that that can be done successfully, that would be my preference simply because ransom dollars are only compounding the problem, are only giving resources to this organization so it can plan its next attack and each attack can be larger than the last. I think at this point, we have to go to the root of the problem.
BURNETT: Now, the militants they say did this because of French involvement in Mali. Again, to emphasize, our reporting now indicates that this was an organized and planned attack, and was organized before the French actually intervened, but they are now using that as their excuse.
The Pentagon has confirmed that the United States will be involved in the war in Mali. They have said very clearly though that that will not be via troops on the ground. Yet, I want to be honest with you. I have spoken to officials who are concerned about France's ability and capacity to execute this, to fulfill their mission of eradicating, the president of France's word, terrorism and terrorists in Mali.
How far are you willing to go? If France doesn't get it done, would you put boots on the ground?
ROYCE: The French foreign legion, the battalions that they've deployed are very, very good. At the same time, the neighboring countries also like Algeria have an interest. Nigeria has an interest. They don't want to see this cancer spread.
And so the U.S.'s position here is to provide the logistics and also to provide the intelligence in order to help get this job done, but not to provide boots on the ground. That is not our role here.
This is for the countries of North Africa and West Africa along with -- working with the French government who has already had so many of its own citizens seized and ransomed over the years that with 6,000 citizens remaining in Mali they have decided to take a stand. We need to back them in that stand that they've taken.
BURNETT: All right, well, thank you very much, Chairman Royce. We appreciate you taking the time. And the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Mike Rogers is going to be our guest later on in the hour. Find out the very latest on what we know about these Americans who are being held hostage tonight.
OUTFRONT next, the NRA is taking on gun control with a controversial new ad involving Sasha and Malia Obama. The question is did this really crossed the line.
Plus, millions were moved by the touching story of a Notre Dame football player overcoming the death of his girlfriend, but were we all duped?
And JPMorgan has its biggest year ever. So why is the CEO being forced to take a pay cut.
BURNETT: Our second story, OUTFRONT, gun battle. President Obama today proposed 23 executive actions that he says will help reduce gun violence. You may remember yesterday, he said, maybe it will be 19, well, 23.
Among them, ban on military-style assault weapons and high- capacity magazines, background checks, we've been talking about that. That is no surprise. He's been putting that forward and a lot of Republicans have agreed with him, and strengthening mental health reporting and regulation.
Now in reaction the president, the NRA said, I'll quote them, "Only honest law abiding gun owners will be affected and our children will remain vulnerable to the inevitability of more tragedy."
So what is the NRA's strategy when it comes to this debate? Here's Tom Foreman with an OUTFRONT investigation on how the NRA gets it what it wants.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are the president's kids more important than yours?
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In a hard hitting response to call for new gun restrictions, the NRA has rolled out this ad attacking the White House saying the president is happy to have armed Secret Service agents protecting his children but for everyone else --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's just another elitist hypocrite when it comes to a fair share of security.
FOREMAN: It is just the latest muscle flex by the gun group superpac, which last year spent more than $16 million from its deep war chest to influence political races. That is not a tremendous amount for such efforts.
Big oil, the pharmacy industry and even retired people have more and better funded lobbyists. But the gun group uses its money and its membership effectively often targeting early any lawmaker who threatens to go against gun rights.
Larry Sabato is with the University of Virginia Center for Politics.
LARRY SABATO, UVA CENTER FOR POLITICS: The national polls can show an overwhelming majority of people in favor of certain gun control measures, but Republicans know the turnout is small in their primaries and the NRA members will be there and may very well take it out on them if they vote in favor of gun control.
FOREMAN: Last fall in his primary, Republican Dick Lugar came under fire from conservatives who felt after 35 years in the Senate, he was being too moderate and the NRA joined the attack.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Dick Lugar has changed. He has become the only Republican candidate in Indiana with an "F" rating from the NRA. It is time for another change, time to elect the senator who will protect our rights.
FOREMAN: Lugar lost in a landslide.
(on camera): Some political analysts believe the NRA's power is waning a bit as the number of households with guns has declined. And for all its efforts to unseat Democrats Barack Obama was still re- elected and many NRA backed candidates did not win.
(voice-over): But by all accounts, the NRA remains a well connected strong and shrewd political power that says it is currently gaining members and it is clearly stealing itself to match anything the White House throws its way. Tom Foreman, CNN, Washington.
BURNETT: The NRA is not only a powerful force among Republicans. The organization is also influential among Democrats. One of them happens to be the top Democrat in the Senate, Harry Reid.
John Avlon is looking into the majority leader's highs with the NRA and yes, you know the man who that the president would be reliant upon to get something significant in terms of gun law through the Senate is, well, he does pretty well (inaudible) --
JOHN AVLON, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: True fact. Here's the deal about Harry Reid and guns, Erin. First of all, he opposed the assault weapons ban, not once but twice, in 1994 and 2004. He has a "B" rating from the NRA. That is higher than almost anyone, but -- other Senate Democrats.
And then also this amazing fact, he has received more money from the NRA just shy of $9,000 in the last four years than any Senate Democrat except Joe Manchin. So when it comes to Harry Reid and the NRA, it is a pretty close relationship that goes very much against the stereotypes that you suggest.
BURNETT: Kind of a little love affair. I mean, I know -- he even appeared with Wayne LaPierre in 2010. But he is a guy who says, you know, I am going to go with my party and go with the Democratic Party line so will he really oppose the president on gun issues?
AVLON: Well, he is not going to oppose the president. He is going to try to quarterback what he can. At the end of the day, Harry Reid is a very practical politician. He said today, he released a statement saying, look, I'm going to do what I can to move this ball forward. He said everything is on the table. But here is the real deal. The part of that pragmatism is a look at the next election. In 2014, there are a half dozen Democrats in southern western states who don't necessarily need an assault weapons ban attack on them, states like Arkansas, Louisiana, North Carolina, South Dakota, and Montana.
So that is all going to play into factors. One countervailing though it will be interesting to see, Erin, whether the tide really has turned because some polls show that at least on some of the legislative options, maybe not on the assault weapons ban, but say universal background checks, 89 percent of Republicans support them. So maybe that stat will put some courage in some of these politicians.
BURNETT: Maybe it will. All right, thanks very much to John Avlon.
And still to come, America was moved by the story of a football player overcoming the loss of a loved one, but it was an elaborate hoax. We're going to tell you what happened.
And breaking news, the FAA has grounded a fleet of planes, American planes. We'll tell you about it.
BURNETT: Our third story, OUTFRONT, Notre Dame star linebacker claims he is the victim of a sick and bizarre hoax. According to the university, Manti Te'O was conned by a woman into a relationship. That woman allegedly led him to believe she died of leukemia.
Ted Rowlands is OUTFRONT. Ted, this is a really bizarre story. Why would she do that? How could this happen? So I guess, first, what is the university saying?
TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, let's back track a little, Erin. For people that aren't familiar with the story, this was really a part of the Notre Dame football story this year. Everybody knows they were in that final game, the BCS Championship game. This was a big thread throughout the year.
Manti Te'O finished second in voting for the Heisman Trophy and throughout the year, part of the story around Notre Dame was how Manti Te'O has been able to deal with the death of his girlfriend. He has done a number of interviews about it saying how difficult it has been for him to move through this season because his girlfriend had died of leukemia.
People reached out from around the world to Manti Te'O saying that his strength during this was an inspiration. In fact, after his girlfriend's supposed funeral -- we now know that she is fictitious. After her funeral, the same day he played in the football game.
He had two interceptions. Take a look at this. The coach, Brian Kelly of Notre Dame, actually gives the game ball to the dead girlfriend and then hands it to Manti Te'O and says take it back to Hawaii. Take a look at this. There is the video of him handing the ball and he said this is to her. The university is getting swamped by people wanting to know the real story here. What's going on? Here is the statement that they have released today.
It says, "On December 26th, Notre Dame coaches were informed by Manti Te'O and his parents that Manti had been the victim of what appears to be a hoax in which someone using the fictitious name of Lennay Kekua apparently integrated herself with Manti and then conspired with other to lead him to believe she was -- she had tragically died of leukemia.
The university immediately initiated investigation to assist Manti and his family in discovering the motive for and the nature of this hoax. While the proper authorities will continue to investigate this troubling matter, this appears to be, at a minimum, a sad and very cruel deception to entertain its perpetrators."
The bottom line here, Erin and sports fans are all shaking their heads today. I just off the phone from somebody in Hawaii where Manti Te'O is a hero, people are just absolutely shocked by the story because of how wide spread it was, the death of this girl, this 22- year-old who apparently never existed.
The bottom line and question now is, is Manti Te'O an absolute victim here or did he know that she was fictitious? When you look at the old interviews and the old quote attributed to him, it is difficult to imagine. Maybe he is an absolute victim here of an online relationship. That's what he is maintaining, but it is difficult to comprehend.
BURNETT: It certainly is and especially that sort of attachment to someone that you only knew online. I mean, the whole thing it doesn't seem to add up. There are a lot more questions. All right, thanks very much to Ted.
Still to come new information about the Americans being held hostage in Algeria tonight. The chairman of the House Intelligence Committee and former FBI agent, Representative Mike Rogers, comes OUTFRONT.
And a controversial new ad from the NRA features the president's daughters. Does it cross the line?
BURNETT: Welcome back to the second half of OUTFRONT.
We start with stories we care about, where we focus on our reporting from the frontlines.
And we begin with breaking news. The FAA temporarily grounding the Boeing 787 Dreamliner. They have issued what's called an emergency air worthiness directive to address a potential battery risk fire -- battery fire risk in the plane. Now, this means that the FAA needs to see that the Dreamliner's lithium ion batteries are safe and in compliance before the plane is allowed to fly again.
Now, obviously, you've heard about the much publicized problems with Japan's 787s, which is what caused this grounding in the U.S. United Airlines is the American company that operates the 787. Right now, they have six of them in service. This comes after Al Nippon Airways was forced to make an emergency landing when a battery alarm signal went off. So, Al Nippon and Japan Airlines have halted all of their Dreamliner flights.
Well, Livestrong Foundation is speaking out before Lance Armstrong's interview with Oprah Winfrey. In a statement, the foundation says in part, "We expect Lance to be completely truthful and forthcoming in his interview and with all of us in the cancer community, we are charting a strong, independent course forward."
Crisis expert Mike Paul tells us the Livestrong Foundation can do it, but they have to focus on rebranding themselves, as a service- based charity, not a celebrity-based one.
And an update on the story we brought you on Monday. Police in northern India have gotten a little more information on a woman who was found hanging from a tree. They say she was not gang raped now. Local officials tell CNN the case as being treated as a suicide because evidence found during the autopsy at this point does not point to sexual assault.
It has been 531 days since the U.S. has lost its top credit rating. What are we doing to get it back? Well, the debt ceiling is still causing some agony. According to the Fed's latest snapshot of local economic conditions, which came out today, some businesses are saying we're not going to hire. They are delaying until the government figures this out.
And our fourth story OUTFRONT: the American hostages in Algeria. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta today quick to call it a terrorist attack as he is traveling in Europe. Algeria's interior minister says Islamists angry over Algeria's support for the French offensive in Mali attacked an oil field in southern Algeria today, killing tow and seizing a number of hostages.
Now, we have been working the story throughout the day. The exact number of U.S. hostages is unclear. The U.S. government says perhaps as few as three Americans are being held. Earlier in the day, we have heard from militants that it could be as many as seven. So, it's unclear if that number was wrong, or some were able to escape.
Nima Elbagir is in Mali tonight.
And, Nima, what are the latest reports there on the hostage situation?
NIMA ELBAGIR, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, as you said, Erin, we are still hearing conflicting reports about the number of hostages still being had. And we are also seeking confirmation from the British prime minister's office as to whether one of those Western hostages that militants have claimed to have killed was indeed British.
What we are getting more clarity on is who is behind this. Both the Algerian interior minister and, in fact, militants themselves have said that the man who they want to negotiate on their behalf is a man Mokhtar Belmokhtar, who is former commander of al Qaeda, foreign fighters for the al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb offshoot.
Really, the sense we're getting here, Erin, is there's this whole hostage situation really is a coalescing of all of the concerns that led France and indeed the U.K. and the U.S. to support the Malian government in their pushback of the Islamists. You had very heavily armed Islamists, militants, moving across country and were able to brazenly attack a convoy, an Algerian government convoy protecting Western oil workers on their way to the airport.
And now, we are hearing from the Algerian interior minister that he thinks that they couldn't have -- that perhaps didn't even start in Mali. And his concern is that maybe these militants actually came from across the border in Libya, Erin.
BURNETT: Obviously, very confusing at this point.
Nima, thank you very much, reporting live from Bamako tonight.
Republican Congressman Mike Rogers of Michigan is the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee. He was a commissioned officer in the U.S. Army, also served as an FBI special agent and he is OUTFRONT.
Sir, good to see you again.
You said today the kidnapping of Americans and other Westerners --
REP. MIKE ROGERS (R-MI), CHAIRMAN, INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: Good to see you, Erin.
BURNETT: -- in Algeria brazenly raises the stakes in already a very volatile region.
Have you been briefed yet on this situation? What can you tell us?
ROGERS: Well, the number of hostages has been moving a little bit. It will take some -- a little bit of time before we get exact clarity on the exact number. But I will tell you what's happening is that -- and I don't believe that they came from Mali either. I think they're kidnappers, the terrorists themselves, have said they came from Mali to pull this off.
It shows you, I think, just volatility of the whole region. So, from Tunisian, to Libya, to Algeria, down into Mali and other places -- even into western and southern Africa, you've seen weapon movement, people movement and a collection of different groups that have come together under the al Qaeda banner. It is really, really dangerous.
And we knew that they had looked at Western targets before. So, this was something that probably had some seeds of planning prior to. They use this as an opportunity to engage and to use it as a P.R. tool for what you see happening now.
BURNETT: Obviously, so much of what is going to make the United States' decision on how to get involved here is how much these groups are coalescing, as you just mentioned. As Nima reported, Mokhtar Belmokhtar, former leader of AQIM, is the one who's taken responsibility. He, in turn, is in Mali often. When we were along the border this summer, we were told he was in a town nearby. And he is also now apparently from what we understand working with some other groups, including Ansar Dine.
I spoke to the military commander of Ansar Dine today about how many fighters they have when we are looking at this conflict in Mali and what their goals are. I wanted to play you what he had to say and get your reaction. Here he is.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
OMAR HAMAHA, ANSAR DINE MILITARY COMMANDER (translated): Listen, the number of fighters doesn't mean much for us. It is 2,000 or it is 10 people only, it makes no difference. It's no longer only in northern Mali. Yes, it is not only in Bamako, it will be the entire western Africa. We are going to hit hard directly in the heart.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
BURNETT: And, Congressman, I don't know if you speak French. I don't. But our viewers could read that. I don't know if you could.
But he said, look, the number of our fighters doesn't matter whether we have 2,000 or 10. It makes no difference. It's no longer only in northern Mali. Yes, it is not only in Bamako, it's going to be the entire west Africa. We are going to hit hard directly in the heart."
And then he goes to say, "It will also be the United States and Britain."
Now, a lot of this is their intent and their goal and bravado at this point. But how serious are these groups coming together and their intents right now, from your understanding from the briefings you receive?
ROGERS: Well, very serious. We have been looking at northern Africa for some time. I've been there. I sent some folks from my team there back in September.
And what we found before -- remember they have been making money through ransom for some time even before joining al Qaeda, that loose affiliations, in '06. They were the single largest contributor for many of those years even to Osama bin Laden.
So, they have been doing this for a while. They are certainly well-organized. All of the different -- and I call them organized crime groups, tribal groups like the Tuareg who have been doing this for years, those groups are all starting to come together.
So, the movement of jihad, Ansar Dine, and now they're calling themselves "Signatories in Blood". It's a brigade, it's a fighting brigade.
ROGERS: It will attract more trouble because the more success they have, that is a recruiting tool for them. This is where jihadists from all over northern Africa and other places will come because they think they're wining the fight.
BURNETT: You wrote today and I want to -- I want to quote you and get your reaction. "The administration needs to better understand the specific threats posed by AQIM and other al Qaeda affiliated groups. If we don't deal with these groups and terrorists swiftly and effectively, they will only pose an increasing threat in the future, as they already have in Benghazi and now Algeria and Mali."
The Obama administration today very, very quick to say that this was preplanned and organized and a terrorist attack immediately.
Are they doing a good job handling this one?
ROGERS: Well, you know, it's too early to tell. This is a difficult one. I'm not going to say that.
When you have a group like this that is clearly well-organized, I think it was preplanned, that had this much success with these many hostages. This is as hard a problem as it gets on the ground to unwind. And you know the outcomes of these are not always great.
That said, what we don't have is an overarching policy. This is what many of us have been talking about. Mali is the first victim of Libya because of the weapon caches raided --
ROGERS: -- and just about the inability to stop the weapons from flying all over and people.
So, you had Tunisians coming down likely that had or involved in Benghazi and vice versa. Now, you have Algiers and Tuaregs -- the Tuaregs are the tribes along the Mali-Algerian border primarily.
And you have all of this converging together makes it a very, very dangerous recipe. And that's why you can't just do -- you can't just handle Mali. You can't just handle the Tuareg. You can't just handle Benghazi. You have to have an overarching plan that puts pressure on these groups from all of it.
And you can't just fire a few missiles and pack up and go home and hope for the best. It's not going to work.
This is a can of worms that's open. We're going to have to deal with it or it's going to be a tribe or a safe haven like you see along the Afghan/Pakistan border.
BURNETT: The bottom line -- the can of worms, as you say, it's open. If we can't put the can back on, if the French can't, how much involvement are you willing to stomach, Chairman? Are you willing to say, "If this spreads, we would put boots on the ground, something the Obama administration does not want to do, the Pentagon does not want to do, and the American people certainly would not want to do right now?
ROGERS: Right. And, again, you have to ask -- there's a whole series of options here that we can put into play. And many of them are not being put into play, and it has to be a coordinated effort. Again, this isn't just about Mali.
I think the French have very capable military, they have very capable special forces. They are going to put hurt on these folks. There are things that we can do for them short of boots on the ground. I would encourage the president to continue to do that, quickly.
But there is the trick. Again, if you -- this is going to get worse. You cannot allow this to become a national security issue for the United States. And I argue it's already crossed that threshold.
So, this area now attracting jihadists from all over and extremists -- remember, they are really good at this stuff, including hostage-taking because they have been doing it for decades, and in the last six years have been the largest funder to al Qaeda. This is a problem we have to deal with.
ROGERS: Now, again, we all ought to sit down and try to come to a consensus here. Short of boots on the ground, what all options we have available and we have plenty, how we quickly implement them to hasten French victory and to continue to put pressure on them in places like Libya and even Tunisia and Algeria. We're going to have to do that or we -- the United States -- are going to suffer the consequences.
BURNETT: All right. Thank very much, Chairman Rogers. Appreciate your time.
Still to come, the NRA releasing a controversial new gun ad. The question is: did it cross the line or not?
And the psychiatrist of the Aurora theater shooter sued by the family of one of the victims. They say the doctor knew the gunman was dangerous and failed to protect the public.
BURNETT: Our fifth story OUTFRONT: The NRA gets personal. Now, the group is out with an explosive new ad that targets the president's gun control proposals and his family.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) AD NARRATOR: Are the president's kids more important than yours? Then, why is he skeptical about putting armed security in our schools when his kids are protected by armed guards at their schools?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: So, was that out of line?
I am going to bring in our contributors, Reihan Salam and Roland Martin.
All right. The big question, Reihan, the press secretary, Jay Carney, issued a statement saying, "Most Americans agree that a president's children should not be used as pawns in a political fight. But to go so far as to make the safety of the presidents' children the subject of an attack ad is repugnant and cowardly."
I must say the word repugnant is not used often enough. I kind of love, I just love saying repugnant.
All right. But this is a very serious issue. Is going after the president's kids in this way just an absolute line you don't cross?
REIHAN SALAM, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I think it's completely crazy and counter productive, but it actually makes sense according to a different strategy. We have talked a lot about the NRA and how the NRA has 4 million members. But according to a Gallup survey, something like 47 percent of U.S. households report that they own a gun. If that's the case, that's a heck of a lot more than 4 million.
But on the other hand, the NRA is very concerned about rival gun rights organizations. The Gun Owners of America is an organization that claims to be more hard core and more absolutist in defense of gun rights than the NRA and it has 300,000 members.
So, in the sense, the NRA represents a minority of gun owners in the United States and they are concerned about being outflanked in terms of the strength with which they defend gun rights.
And so, the truth is that there are a ton of gun owners whose views are not being adequately represented. So, when the NRA goes of and has an ad of that nature, they're not necessarily representing real gun owners who want to protect their gun rights. They are representing a much smaller group and they are concerned about being seen as too moderate.
Roland, David Keene, the president of the NRA, defended the ad earlier on "THE SITUATION ROOM". I want to -- I want to play his defense before you jump in here.
ROLAND MARTIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Sure.
BURNETT: Here he is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAVID KEENE, NRA PRESIDENT: The fact of the matter is that the schools in Washington that are attended by the elites, not just the president's daughters but the sons and daughters of others, are protected by armed security, not the Secret Service.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Is the White House taking this too personally or overreacting?
MARTIN: No, they're not overreacting. Look, I have met David Keene many times, met his wife as well. I'll say this here. The ad is pathetic. And the NRA, they are a bunch of punks for running the ad.
If they actually stand behind it, why did they remove it from their Web site? Why did they run from it?
So, they're getting exactly what they wanted. And that is they put a YouTube ad up. We're talking about it. So it gets out there.
But it shows how weak and cowardly they are when they chose to run away from it. And so, there's no need to invoke the president's daughters in this conversation. I can guarantee you that had anybody invoked the daughters of President George W. Bush in a similar ad attacking him, folks on the right would be just as upset. It makes no sense -- it makes no sense at all.
BURNETT: I'm sure you're right about that.
But -- OK, But, Rolland, what about the fact that politicians use their kids when they want to politically all the time. Remember the famous picture of Chelsea Clinton after the Monica Lewinsky affair walking between her parents to the helicopter?
MARTIN: Well, but that's --
BURNETT: Or -- hold on, let me just finish -- or this time before the DNC when the White House released a picture of the president with his two daughters snuggling on the couch, there it, watching Michelle Obama.
So, you know, look, they use their children for political purposes when they want to.
MARTIN: First of all, walking with Chelsea to the helicopter, they were going on vacation. And so what are they supposed to do, take her to another helicopter or through the back door somewhere?
BURNETT: It was the hand-holding and connecting them, Rolland.
MARTIN: OK, so what? If there was a photo and there were no hand-holding then, it's OK? I mean, seriously. That is not the same as putting an ad out where you are mentioning the president's daughters. It makes no sense. And again, if you're the NRA, you don't have to actually do that. You don't have to go that far. If you want to do that, why don't you say, OK, why don't you go to Chicago and say how many armed guards are there in Chicago's schools where the president is from? That's legitimate.
BURNETT: That's a fair question.
MARTIN: But to use the president's daughters makes no sense whatsoever.
BURNETT: All right. Thanks to both of you. We appreciate it.
And next, a psychiatrist sued over the Aurora theater massacre. The widow of 26-year-old Jonathan Blunk is holding alleged gunman James Holmes' doctor accountable. Blunk was among the 12 shot dead in a crowded movie theater in July.
The lawsuit alleges Dr. Lynne Fenton, who treated Holmes at the University of Colorado, Denver, knew he was dangerous and failed to protect the public.
Now, the school is also named in the lawsuit.
OUTFRONT tonight, forensic psychologist Robyn Landow, along with our legal contributor, Paul Callan, who also represents psychiatrists in medical malpractice case.
So, let me just get to the details of this, because, Paul, the suit claims that about a month or a few weeks before the shooting, Holmes had told Dr. Fenton that he fantasized about killing mass numbers of people, that she in turn had told campus police, but opted not to put, quote-quote, "a 72-hour hold" on him.
It's unclear what that 72-hour hold might have resulted, if it would have ended in impacting what happened in Aurora. But that's what this case rests on.
So, how strong is it?
PAUL CALLAN, CNN LEGAL CONTRIBUTOR: Well, you know, as tragic as the case is with so many people killed, and so, 12 dead, 58 wounded, tremendous sympathy here. But the law is very, very strict about this. A psychiatrist has to be aware of a specific threat against a specific person. And then there is somebody to warn.
In this case, it sounds to me like everything that I've heard so far, we have generalized threats of violence. And that does not create liability.
So, I think it's going to be a troublesome case for the victims.
BURNETT: As someone who is in that business, did she do the right thing do you think? I mean, it's so hard to tell when you're not in it to say well, there are a lot of people who are threatening these kinds of things, or is it a rare thing? ROBYN LANDOW, FORENSIC PSYCHOLOGIST: Well, I think the word threatening actually is an important word there, because when he was talking about fantasies, ideation, was -- was he speaking about specific acts that he was planning. Was he mentioning, you know, I have guns in my home and I'm thinking about using them?
The use of fantasy and ideation does not necessarily mean that anything is going to happen.
So, in terms of what she did exactly what she was told is important to know, what is in her notes.
BURNETT: So the new gun control law that just passed in New York -- I'm curious on your take on this. It requires health care providers to report their patients to the state should the patients exhibit behavior suggesting they could be harmful to themselves or others.
It sounds to me, compared to what you both were saying, that this is much broader. This isn't me making a specific threat against Paul. This is me just threatening in general.
Am I -- am I right in that? And how does that change this?
LANDOW: You know, I think although they are broadening the laws here, the truth is in New York state, mental health professionals have always been mandated reporters. If we feel that a patient is at threat to themselves or others, we already had to report it. So, it already exists.
I think it's being stressed here, you know, in light of what has happened. And I think that when people in voluntary treatments, that the court has mandated it. Now, they're going to follow up more. They're going to be in touch more with the mental health professional that's working with that person.
BURNETT: Right. But that doesn't sound like a big change.
CALLAN: It's not a big change at all. All this law did with respect to the mental hell situation was, in New York, you have these people on the street. They're out there. People know they have mental health problems. Nothing is being done.
This law, Kendra's Law, what it says is somebody like that who has been violent in the past and who is out of the hospital now, who' living on the street and obviously needs help, this law allows psychiatrists to force them back into hospitals and to get outpatient treatment. But it doesn't really affect the gun situation at all.
BURNETT: All right. Thanks to both of you.
Well, America's biggest bank has its biggest year ever. So, why did the CEO get stiffed by his bosses?
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BURNETT: The country's biggest bank got even bigger last year. JPMorgan Chase posting an income of $21.3 billion. During the fourth quarter alone, Chase reported income of nearly $6 billion. It was a big year for Chase.
But there was a huge whale-shaped shadow over the celebration, which brings me to tonight's number: 50 percent. That's the pay cut the company's chairman and CEO Jamie Dimon took today. In May of last year, an error by a trader named London Whale costs the bank more than $6 billion, more than the profit made last quarter.
So, today, the board decided Dimon bears ultimate responsibility for the failures. So, despite the massive record profit, the board slashed his compensation from $23.1 million to $11.5 million, so something almost anyone in the entire planet will be thrilled about it.
"ANDERSON COOPER 360" starts now.