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Olympian Charged With Murder; Impact on Planet Earth; Secretaries Say Upcoming Cuts Will Hurt; Canadians Prepare for Zombie Apocalypse

Aired February 15, 2013 - 18:00   ET


KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now: the shock and fear of seeing an exploding fireball from outer space. We will talk to a man who experienced today's damaging meteor blast.

An Olympic runner charged with murder sobs in court. We will hear from someone who knew his dead girlfriend.

And the Navy SEAL who shot and killed Osama bin Laden in a new battle with the U.S. military.

And now that passengers have finally escaped their cruise nightmare, the legal action, not surprisingly, begins.

Wolf Blitzer is off. I'm Kate Bolduan, along with Jim Acosta. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

It began with a mysterious streak of light coming out of nowhere. Then a fireball and a ground-rattling blast. When it was all over, at least 1,000 people were hurt and many more clearly shaken. Scientists say that meteor explosion over Russia was far more powerful than North Korea's nuclear test this week and it came as a complete surprise even though NASA was on the lookout for another asteroid that brushed by the Earth just a few short hours ago.

Let's begin though with the blast in Russia and CNN's Mary Snow.

Hey there, Mary.


It was so frightening. We have been seeing this incredible video that's been coming out. More continues to come in. The scene was surreal as the meteor struck, setting off mass confusion. The meteor weighed about 10 tons. It struck with no warning around 9:20 in the morning local time just as people were starting their day.


SNOW (voice-over): It came out of nowhere. The bright streak long enough to capture on camera as it lurched towards Earth and exploded. A deafening boom followed as fragments rained down over Russia's Ural Region.

The sonic boom shattered glass. At least 1,000 people in the bull's eye of the falling meteor were injured.

It's a bombing, says this man. There were reports that a large chunk of it was found in a lake. As frightening as it was, scientists say it's not all that rare to have meteors falling out of the sky. What's not common is when they hit largely populated areas.

DENTON EBEL, AMERICAN MUSEUM OF NATURAL HISTORY: Small bodies like that hit the Earth regularly. Every year, there's probably several, mostly over oceans.

SNOW: Denton Ebel is the curator of meteorites at the American Museum of Natural History. His attention had been solely focused on the asteroid passing the Earth and was stunned the meteor and asteroid both occurred within 24 hours of each other.

(on camera): Are they related in any way?

EBEL: As far as we know, they are not related.

SNOW (voice-over): Ebel says the gap in time between the two events was too wide for them to be related and then there's a matter of size.

EBEL: The size difference between the big one, 45 meters, and this little guy, which was maybe 3 meters that air-bursted over Russia is so large that there would have to be more. We don't see that. So, it is a cosmic coincidence.

SNOW: Unlike the asteroid passing the Earth, he says the meteor that hit Russia was too small to be detected, but the cosmic coincidence has left him a bit unnerved.

EBEL: Yes, we can predict things. We know the laws of gravity. We know the masses of the planets and so forth. We can predict what's going to happen down the road, but the interplay of all of the celestial bodies together and the ones we don't know about is such to make it kind of scary in a way.


SNOW: The last time that something of this size happened that is known was back in 1908, also in Russia. An asteroid entered the atmosphere, exploded over a remote part of Siberia. It leveled, get this, about 80 million trees over an area about the that would have been two-thirds the state of Rhode Island.

BOLDUAN: Really, really amazing. Mary Snow, thank you so much.

Later on this hour, we will talk to a man who was in Russia when the meteor exploded. He describes what he saw, how he felt and what it looks like.

Now Jim Acosta is here.

Hey, Jim.


BOLDUAN: There is some crazy stuff going on in space, a meteor and an asteroid.

ACOSTA: I would say the force was with us today, Kate. We were never really in danger of being hit by that asteroid, thank goodness, because it's half the size of a football field, but it came unusually close.

CNN's Casey Wian is at NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab in Pasadena, California -- Casey.

CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Jim, here at JPL, they have been tracking that asteroid for a year. And just about three-and-a-half- hours ago, it came oh so close to planet Earth.


WIAN (voice-over): It may not look like much, a tiny blip speeding across the screen, but asteroid 2012 DA14 packs a powerful punch. Fortunately, the punch missed.

Scientists say an asteroid with a similar 150-foot diameter collided with Earth 50,000 years ago in Arizona.

PAUL CHODAS, NASA JET PROPULSION LAB: This is a rare opportunity to see a small asteroid up close. It's very rare. We think an asteroid of this size doesn't come close to the Earth more than once every 40 years on average.

WIAN: This time, the asteroid raced past the southern hemisphere at 4. 8 miles per second, missing Earth by about 17,000 miles. It came close enough to threaten satellites orbiting the Earth but fears of a loss of telecommunication and cell phone signals apparently unfounded.

NASA is using radar and other technology to study how the asteroid behaves, including its rotation rate, its composition and how it's impacted by the earth's gravity. The idea is to learn enough to prevent catastrophe from an asteroid directly threatening the planet someday in the future.

CHODAS: We're going to get a lot of information about the asteroid. We're interested in its future motion, whether or not it could come back, whether it threatens the Earth.

WIAN: The odds are, either this one or another will be back, an asteroid impacts the Earth once about every 1,200 years on average.


WIAN: That asteroid being tracked now over Spain as it heads back out to space to continue its orbit around the sun harmlessly for now.

ACOSTA: A busy day in our galaxy. Casey, thank you very much. Now to the nightmare cruise and the lawsuit we all saw coming. Only hours after 4,000 people finally got off the Carnival Triumph, the first legal complaint has been filed by a passenger named Cassie Terry. It accuses Carnival of negligence, fraud and injury and claims Terry was forced to subsist for days in what she referred to a floating toilet, a floating petri dish and a floating hell.

Does not sound pleasant at all.

Our Brian Todd is in New Orleans, where many of the passengers where taken after docking in Alabama.

But not all the passengers, is that, Brian, have these horrible stories to tell? There are some say the crew did a pretty good job.


The crew is coming in for some very high praise from just about every passenger you speak to. Roughly two-thirds of the passengers on board the Carnival Triumph tame through this hotel today, many of them still clearly shaken by that experience.


TODD (voice-over): It wasn't until after she finally got of the Carnival "Triumph," after riding on a bus from Mobile, Alabama, to New Orleans, that the gravity of the ordeal really sat in with Maria Morales.

MARIA MORALES, CRUISE SHIP PASSENGER: We were just drifting. We were just out there. And now that I realize it, it's like, my God, you know, I can't believe that we were just there, just at the mercy of the wind, wherever it wanted to take us.

TODD: From her wheelchair, 68-year-old Joyce Glover told us that at certainly points she didn't think she'd make it out.

(on camera): What have you gone through?

JOYCE GLOVER, CRUISE SHIP PASSENGER: Well, I have congestive heart failure and diabetes and had to cut my medicine down in half because I only had it until Monday. So then I had a heart condition and my lungs were filling up with fluid so we had to go clear down to the basement.

TODD (voice-over): That's where Glover said she had to go for medical treatment where she says garbage was piled more than 30 feet high. Another passenger gave us these pictures from inside. Murky water in a hallway, her bathroom where she says the sewage never stopped flowing.

CHARLA HIGGINBOTHAM, CRUISE SHIP PASSENGER: It came above the drain and in my shower stall.

TODD: An image of passengers sleeping on deck and food rationing, but Higginbotham and many others told us crew members worked heroically.

HIGGINBOTHAM: Awesome. They were wonderful to us. They tried to clean our bathroom, but without running water and electricity, it's very hard to clean whatever that was in our bathroom.

TODD: Crew member, Sachin Sharma, told CNN they took pride in helping passengers through this.

SACHIN SHARMA, CARNIVAL TRIUMPH CREW MEMBER: It's about our job. We know how to do and Carnival did the best and they do the best.

TODD: How did passengers behave? We got accounts of the worst in human behavior.

MARIA HERNANDEZ, CRUISE SHIP PASSENGER: There was about three altercations and fights because either people were trying to get their phones charged or just pushing in lines for food while they were drunk.

VERONICA ARRIAGA, CRUISE SHIP PASSENGER: There were people that would hoard food, like you could see that they would take a big tray and have ten burgers on there and not try to share with other people.

TODD: But better sides were also on display.

(on camera): What was the best thing you saw as far as people responded?

DAVID RICHARDS, CRUISE SHIP PASSENGER: Everybody helping each other, everybody pulling together.


RICHARDS: Sharing.

GLOVER: We played poker with Fruit Loops. That's what we used for poker chips.


TODD: This experience isn't over for all of the passengers. Virtually all of them still have decisions to make regarding this cruise. Several passengers we spoke to told us that as compensation, Carnival is offering a full refund for this trip plus a free similar cruise of equal value and $500. They say they're going to have to weigh that offer against the possibility of taking legal action against Carnival -- Jim and Kate.

ACOSTA: Brian Todd, thank you.

The Triumph's slow and agonizing trip back to port look got dragged out even more because of a broken tug line. We now have video of the moment the line snapped taken from on board the ship. Take a look.




ACOSTA: This weekend, repair and cleanup crews will be working on the Triumph -- Kate.

BOLDUAN: Another big story we have been watching today, President Obama's trying to keep the pressure on Congress to take a vote, have a vote on gun control.

He spoke about the issue just a short while ago in a place where it really hits home, Chicago.

CNN's Ted Rowlands is there.

Ted, the president spoke very emotionally today.

TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, he obviously talked about gun violence here in his hometown. He even brought up his own childhood growing up without a father.



ROWLANDS (voice-over): The president spoke just a few miles from his Chicago home and from where 15-year-old Hadiya Pendleton who he talked about in his State of the Union was murdered.

OBAMA: What happened to Hadiya is not unique. It's not unique to Chicago. It's not unique to this country. Too many of our children are being taken away from us.

ROWLANDS: The president said stopping violence in Chicago and other urban areas could be helped by economic opportunity, education and the family. Fathers, he said, had to be more involved in their children's lives.

OBAMA: I wish I would had a father who was around and involved.

RHONDA WARD, AUNT: This right here should be an eye-opener for all parents.

ROWLANDS: We spoke with two aunts of Michael Ward, one of two men charged with Hadiya's murder. Ward's family says they are in shock, describing the 18-year-old as a good, funny kid who they hope is not responsible for Hadiya's death.

JANISE COOPER, AUNT: I can't even begin to understand or imagine how her mom and her dad or her brother, her whole family feels. We can't imagine it. And we all have been hurt. All of us have been hurt by this. It's two families that's being devastated. ROWLANDS: Ward's family, like so many others in this city whose lives have been affected by violence, say enough is enough. Like the president, they say their own community has to step up.

WARD: Stand outside and say, let's get together and let's walk the streets, let's walk the block, not we're going to have this candle burning. That's not it. Let's have a conversation with these kids.


ROWLANDS: Kate, before the president spoke, he actually did have a conversation with a lot of kids, about 20 kids that are growing up in these areas prone to violence. Spoke to them for quite a while. In fact, he delayed his speech as much as an hour talking to these kids. We talked to several of them afterwards. One of them said the president told him to just keep focused on his future.

BOLDUAN: That piece really shows it's not politics for folks in Chicago. It's really personal for so many people there. Ted Rowlands, great piece. Thanks so much.

We thought you would find this interesting. Chicago already has some of the strictest laws in the country when it comes to guns, of course. And yet there were more than 500 killings reported there last year, an increase of 15 percent from 2011. We compared those numbers to other cities with tough gun laws as well.

In Philadelphia, the homicide rate also went up last year, but not as much. A total of 331 killings were reported, a 2 percent increase. But look at the trend in New York City where deadly crime went down dramatically; 418 killings were recorded last year, an 18 percent decrease from the year before. In fact, that's the lowest homicide rate in 50 years, when New York began keeping the records. Just thought you should know.

ACOSTA: Good to know. Thank you.

The Olympic sprinter known as the Blade Runner breaks down in court. Hear what he's saying about his girlfriend's death and we will talk to one of her friends.

And the jolt from a powerful meteor blast, a hockey player who saw it, felt it and couldn't believe his eyes. He shares his story coming up.


ACOSTA: An Olympic hero who has overcome huge challenges fell apart today sobbing as he stood in court and faced murder charges.

BOLDUAN: Amazing story.

The Blade Runner, Oscar Pistorius, is behind bars. His girlfriend is dead and people around the world are following this case and really astonished as how this has all turned out.

CNN's Robyn Curnow she is in South Africa and she is joining me now.

Robyn, this is an amazing story.


Talk about falling from grace, falling off the pedestal. Oscar Pistorius as we all know was fated as an Olympian, a man with no legs, the fastest man with no legs he was called, the Blade Runner. You remember he ran in the Olympics last year, beating men with legs.

This is an athlete who wasn't just admired in South Africa for his sporting abilities, but also as an inspiration, as a role model to people for what could be achieved. To see him in court today, a broken man, a man accused of murder, emotional scenes indeed.

Take a look at the story.


CURNOW (voice-over): A journey from a prison flanked by police to a court to face murder charges. Within 48 hours, Oscar Pistorius went from Olympic hero to a crying accused murder. Outside the court, newspaper sellers have been doing a brisk trade. Headlines that point to a bloody Valentine's Day murder. Police say Pistorius shot dead his model girlfriend, that it was a premeditated murder that could put him behind bars for as long as 25 years.

Inside court overflowing with journalists and family, Pistorius broke down repeatedly, crying, his body shaking uncontrollably. He sat with his face in his hands for much of the hearing which ended with no decision on bail.

MEDUPE SIMASIKU, PROSECUTION TEAM MEMBER: The case has been postponed to Tuesday to give the Tuesday to meet with the defense, so that they can prepare for their case on Tuesday for bail application.

CURNOW: Until then, the star athlete and double amputee will not be training for a scheduled race in March, but instead, he will be behind bars, his agent telling CNN, though, that Oscar refutes the murder charges in the strongest possible terms and that he sends his condolences to the family of Reeva Steenkamp, the woman police say he shot.

And in a sad twist, Reeva's TV debut will be aired this week on South African screens, a reality show called "Tropika Island of Treasure," a reminder of just how quickly life can change.


CURNOW: If you turned on the televisions here tomorrow in South Africa, people will be able to watch Reeva alert, happy, fun, say the producers, the embodiment of the young, beautiful woman she was and also an example of the career that she was just about to have.

This was her TV debut. Many people thought that she would go on to greater things in the acting world and that sort of thing. Instead, there will be a memorial service for her on Tuesday.

BOLDUAN: And, Robyn, you have interviewed Oscar Pistorius on a number of occasions. How surprised were you by all this, especially when you saw -- you see that man crying in his hands in the courtroom today?

CURNOW: I think there's a lot of conflicting emotions.

As a journalist, you think let's just look at the facts. It doesn't appear good for him. It appears the police have a strong case, that he shot and killed his girlfriend. But from a personal and emotional point of view, like you said, I have known Oscar for many years.

From my point of view and I think from many people who have met Oscar across the world, the athletes, the sponsors, the other journalists have seen him as nothing but a kind, generous, open- hearted, friendly, gregarious, really good guy. So it seems totally out of character for many of us.

I think we're all still trying to sort of fit this in. How does this example of what happened on Valentine's Day match with the man that we all thought we knew? The big question is, did he have a dark side? Did he hide it from all of us who knew him so well? Or did something go tragically, horribly wrong? We still don't know the real details of what took place in his home. But either way, I think the implications for Oscar are really career limiting.

Either way, he either faces perhaps 25 years around there in jail or if he gets off, it's going to be a very long trial. I really don't see him taking to the track anytime soon.

BOLDUAN: It seems just the story of two completely different people. But, of course, as you said, we have to wait and see all the details unfold. Robyn, thank you so much.

It's such a sad story. It happened on Valentine's Day. These are two beautiful people who really seemed to have everything going for them.

ACOSTA: Absolutely. They were the picture-perfect couple. And for the people of South Africa, what a shock to the system. This was such a source of pride for them, this man's story. It really just captured everybody's attention during the Summer Olympic Games.

BOLDUAN: I remember I followed that story as well.

ACOSTA: It was just a remarkable story of courage on his part to be able to get up there and compete at that level. And now we will just have to wait and see what happens with this trial.

BOLDUAN: A lot of people interested in seeing how this all goes.

ACOSTA: Absolutely.

BOLDUAN: It's amazing. ACOSTA: And, as you would expect, Kate, Reeva Steenkamp's family and friends are shocked and heartbroken by her death.

And joining us by phone right now is Sarit Tomlinson, and she is the publicist for Reeva Steenkamp and she joins us over the phone now from Johannesburg, South Africa.

Sarit, we're glad that you are for joining us. Appreciate your time under the circumstances.


ACOSTA: Let me ask you first. You know -- or you knew Ms. Steenkamp well. What do you think happened? How do you think this happened to her?

TOMLINSON: At this moment in time, there's a lot of speculation and no one really knows exactly the details of what happened. Unfortunately I cannot comment on what happened. I don't know what happened. So I would prefer not to speculate at this moment in time.

ACOSTA: And we have been showing some pictures of Reeva during the segment. Obviously she was a beautiful woman. Her modeling career appeared to be on the rise.


ACOSTA: What was she like? What should people know about her?

TOMLINSON: She was honestly the kindest, sweetest human being. She was compassionate. She was responsible. She had a good head on her shoulders.

But the one thing that everyone if you had to meet her, anyone that meets her would always say, she was just genuinely an angel. She was kind. Anyone that had met her would just say, what a down-to- earth, endearing girl. That was Reeva, with her looks and all.

ACOSTA: And what is her family going through right now? I can't imagine. Have you spoken with them? How are they doing?

TOMLINSON: I have spoken to them. We have been in contact. They have lost a daughter. They have lost a sister. They have lost a niece. They are broken. There's no words to describe what they are feeling right now. It's devastating. It's tragic.

ACOSTA: And, Sarit, there was so much pride when it came to the story of Oscar Pistorius coming from your country. What is the reaction to this right now? It just must be a total shock, I would imagine.

TOMLINSON: Pretty much the same all over the world. Everyone is in shock, you said it. Everyone is in absolute shock.

ACOSTA: And where do you think this story is going to take us? Are you concerned that the allegations that have been said so far in this case, that that might be what happened to her?

TOMLINSON: Look, right now, it's in the hands of the law. I don't want to comment on it. I would prefer not to. And it will take its course the way it needs to.

ACOSTA: All right. Sarit Tomlinson, the publicist for Reeva Steenkamp, thank you very much for your time. We appreciate it. Very sorry for you loss.

TOMLINSON: Thank you. Thank you.

ACOSTA: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: Still ahead in THE SITUATION ROOM, a hockey player had just hit the snooze button when the Earth started shaking and pieces of meteor fell to Earth injuring hundreds. He will share his story coming up next.


ACOSTA: Happening now: The Navy SEAL who shot and killed Osama bin Laden says the U.S. military has abandoned him. Now the SEALs are fighting back.

You could wind up waiting longer at the airport if President Obama and Republicans don't stop automatic spending cuts.

And the zombies are coming? One country is making sure it's ready.

Wolf Blitzer is off. I'm Jim Acosta.

BOLDUAN: And I'm Kate Bolduan. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

It sounded like an explosion. It felt like an earthquake. There were streaks in the sky, shattered glass and a whole lot of confusion. We now know it was a meteor blowing up in pieces over Russia.


BOLDUAN: Joining us now, Michael Garnett, a professional hockey player living in Russia. And Michael, you live in Chelyabinsk, Russia, where many of these injuries occurred after what was quite an amazing day for you and many people, I'm sure. So tell me, what did you experience? What did you see? What did you hear?

MICHAEL GARNETT, PROFESSIONAL HOCKEY PLAYER: Well, I was laying in bed, and my alarm went off. And I hit the snooze bar like I always do for a couple of more minutes to sleep.

And I rolled over, and I really got a wake-up call about two minutes later when my entire apartment started shaking, and there was a huge boom. I was jolted out of bed. I got up, and the light fixtures were shaking. A vent was blown off the wall. There was debris on the ground. And I was just terrified. I had no idea what was happening. BOLDUAN: And what did -- what was the -- we're looking right now at some of the video that we've seen of how this all kind of played out and when that initial impact really happened. What was the first thing that came to your mind? I'm sure it was a combination of fear and absolute confusion.

GARNETT: Yes. I had no idea. I just knew that there was what felt like a giant explosion, and I thought it was happening right at my building. It was terrifying. I'm on the 23rd floor, and it was shaking. I immediately -- I went to the window to try and see what was going on. I opened the blinds, and I saw this giant streak going across the sky. And I had no idea. I'd never seen anything like that before in my life.

BOLDUAN: So what did you see when you left your apartment? What did you see on the road? What did it look like?

GARNETT: Well, I got out -- I immediately wanted to get down to the ground level so that -- you know, I didn't know whether my building was safe or not. So I started driving it to go to practice.

And on the way to the rink, I didn't really know what was going on. I was just looking at Twitter and seeing tweets flying by. Everyone was speculating. So even at that point I had no idea until I got to the rink and started talking to some of the other guys.

BOLDUAN: Did you see damage when you were driving into practice?

GARNETT: Yes. I wasn't really paying attention to it too much because I was looking at my phone, looking at Twitter. But once I found out on the way back from practice to my apartment, it was just incredible. I looked at almost every single building, probably 25 percent of the windows were blown out. And these are old Soviet-era five-story concrete apartment buildings that have old windows in them. And it was just incredible to see the damage that just the sound of this meteor could cause.

BOLDUAN: So what is it like there now? How are people acting after what has been truly an amazing day?

GARNETT: I think a lot of people are just in shock. For me, it's such an incredible display of power and completely unexpected that -- I don't really know what to think. You look up at the sky differently now. And I kind of feel like this was completely unpredicted, and it could happen at any time. So it's confusing and terrifying kind of all at the same time.

BOLDUAN: And what are the stories that you're hearing from other people? You said you've spoken to some of your teammates. Do they have the same story that you do?

GARNETT: Yes. Most of them, or a lot of them, actually saw this happened. They saw a giant fireball going through the sky, blinding bright light shooting, followed by this incredibly loud bang and explosion. A lot of them had a terrifying experiences.

BOLDUAN: Yes. I mean, that video is just amazing to see as we're watching -- as we're watching it once again.

Michael Garnett, thank you so much for joining me. Hopefully not as eventful of a day for you tomorrow.

GARNETT: Thank you. My pleasure.


ACOSTA: Great interview. Thanks, Kate.

And now to a story about a man who would probably be considered a hero. He's now in a fight with the U.S. military. Coming up, the Navy SEAL who killed Osama bin Laden is being accused by some of being a whiner.

Plus, a major announcement by Facebook about a cyber attack.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BOLDUAN: Here's a look at some of the other top stories coming into THE SITUATION ROOM this hour.

The people at Facebook say they've been hacked. Facebook's announcement today says there's no evidence any user data has been compromised in what it called a, quote unquote, "sophisticated attack."

It happened when some Facebook employees visits a developers' Web site and picked up malware there. Facebook says the infected machines are now fixed, and they began what they're calling a, quote, "significant investigation." You can be sure of that.

Also, we have new pictures showing Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez smiling, as you see there, and very much alive. We haven't seen any images of him since before his cancer surgery in Cuba on December 11. Doctors there say Chavez is having trouble speaking because of a tube that helps him breathe. The women that you see there with him right there are his daughters.

And a one-time rising star in the Democratic Party admits he and his wife illegally spent campaign money on personal luxuries like furs and Michael Jackson memorabilia. Former Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. admits to a felony in a plea deal filed just today. He's agreed to pay back hundreds of thousands of dollars. And it will be up to a judge to decide on his prison time.

And times are clearly a-changing in New York. Starting next month, getting busted with a small amount of marijuana will not automatically mean spending a night in jail waiting to be arraigned. Instead, people with clean records will get a ticket ordering them to appear in court at a later date. Marijuana, I need to remind you, stays illegal. Good to know -- Jim.

ACOSTA: Thanks, Kate.

He is the SEAL who took out Osama bin Laden. Now he's in a battle no one would have predicted with the SEALs themselves. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BOLDUAN: Navy SEALs are prepared for almost any kind of battle. But one former SEAL is now in a fight he never expected. He's the SEAL who took out Osama bin Laden, and he's now locked in a fight with the U.S. military.

CNN's Pentagon correspondent, Chris Lawrence, is working this story for us.

Chris, it's a story we've been following, really, all week. So what's the latest?

CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Kate. I mean, this is something we almost never see. But this memo that was shown to CNN is really giving us a rare look inside this internal dispute among the Navy SEALs.


LAWRENCE (voice-over): They've endured hot, cold, and deadly conditions. And pushed past unbelievable levels of pain.

JOHN MCGUIRE, FORMER NAVY SEAL: A Navy SEAL would break his leg and never let you know.

LAWRENCE: So some former SEALs, like John McGuire, are shocked to hear one of their own being accused of, well, whining.

Already immortalized on film, there's an anonymous SEAL Team 6 member who, by some accounts, fired the shots that killed Osama bin Laden. But that SEAL told "Esquire" magazine the military has abandoned him.

PHIL BRONSTEIN, "ESQUIRE" MAGAZINE: This shooter served 16 years, went on hundreds of missions and he gets out four years early. He gets no pension, zero pension.

LAWRENCE: The commander of all Navy SEALs is now firing back. Quote, "This former SEAL made a deliberate and informed decision to leave the Navy several years short of retirement status.

A military official showed that memo to CNN, but it was never meant for the public. The commander sent it to the SEAL community. In response to the shooter's accusations that he had arthritis, eye damage and blown discs but no health care or pension.

The SEAL commander says he voluntarily left the service, despite the option to stay in. Quote, "Claims to the contrary are false."

MCGUIRE: That goes against everything we're taught. We don't complain.

LAWRENCE: John McGuire says everyone knows going in, barring catastrophic injury, you must do 20 years for a pension. MCGUIRE: Because it's rare that someone gets out at 16. But, you know, I have a lot of respect for someone who knows when they're done.


LAWRENCE: Well, the shooter is wrong on at least one account, and that is health care. He's going to get at least five years of health care from the V.A., like everyone who's served in Iraq or Afghanistan. The Navy is also promising to help him with the transition.

But the commander really reserved some of his harshest words for this idea of going public, taking these complaints public. Not only in this case, but the books that have been written about the Navy SEALs recently, all the publicity, saying most of our former SEALs find a suitable second career without compromising the ideals that they had during their act of service.

So pretty tough words coming from the top man at the Navy SEALs.

BOLDUAN: You've got to sense this fight is not one that is over quite yet.

Chris Lawrence at the Pentagon for us. Thanks, Chris.

ACOSTA: Kate, if you already hate those airport security lines -- and I know you do -- a bitter standoff in Congress could make you wait much longer.


ACOSTA: If you thought the fiscal cliff was the end of Washington's manufactured crises, guess again. Just two weeks from now, more than $1 trillion in automatic spending cuts are scheduled to kick in. Folks here in Washington have a big, cumbersome word for it. It's the sequester. And if it happens, folks on both sides say it's going to hurt.


ACOSTA (voice-over): If you're not a fan of security lines at the airport, listen up. The sequester could make them longer. Perhaps hours longer.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I just think that our politicians need to get together and figure out what they're doing.

ACOSTA: Start the countdown to March 1. That's when the sequester kicks in, resulting in more than $1 trillion in mandatory, across-the-board government spending cuts. Congress and the president agreed to it all as a way to escape the debt-ceiling crisis of 2011.

JANET NAPOLITANO, HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: Serious cuts at airports, seaports.

ACOSTA: At a hearing, a slew of President Obama's cabinet secretaries warned what's coming.

ARNE DUNCAN, EDUCATION SECRETARY: The damage here would be irreparable. I wish I had a magic wand to wave. I simply don't have that.

ACOSTA: In addition to those TSA cuts creating longer airport security lines, the Department of Homeland Security may have to lose the equivalent of 5,000 agents at the borders and slice $1 billion from FEMA.

In education cuts, 70,000 children could be kicked out of Head Start problems for low-income families. And the Pentagon may have to furlough thousands of defense workers.

SEN. SUSAN COLLINS (R), MAINE: We might as well just pack up and go home. Because if we're just going to have across-the-board cuts what is the point of our being here?

ACOSTA: While Democrats and moderate Republicans want to slam on the sequester brakes, some conservative lawmakers are cheering on the cuts.

SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: Not only should the sequester stand, many pundits say the sequester's far short. That we need $4 trillion in cuts.

ACOSTA: Congress and the White House were able to postpone the sequester as part of the deal to avert the fiscal cliff. But top Republicans caution: don't expect another delay.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MINORITY LEADER: There won't be any easy off-ramps on this one. The days of 11th-hour negotiations are over.

ACOSTA: House Speaker John Boehner said if Democrats are so worried they should come up with a solution.

REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER: The sequester is there because the president insisted that it be there.

ACOSTA: It was Washington's version of a Valentine's Day greeting, sealed with a kiss.


ACOSTA: Now yesterday afternoon, Senate Democrats came up with a proposal to replace the sequester, but Republicans don't like it because it includes new tax increases. Both sides have some time to work something out, but once again, Kate, it is a game of budget beat the clock.

I talked to a top GOP leadership aide who said, unless the president wants to accept major cuts in spending, this is likely to happen.

BOLDUAN: It's the same argument is at its core that we've been dealing with for a couple years. It's not a flashy, fun topic to be talking about, but it really does hit at all levels if this sets in.

ACOSTA: And the items that we mentioned in that piece, that is just scratching the surface. We're talking about meat inspectors who might be tossed aside as a result of this sequester. It's just going to add up.

BOLDUAN: Another fight right up to the deadline, maybe.

ACOSTA: That's right. You bet.

BOLDUAN: Awesome. Can't wait. I hope you can sense my sarcasm.

Still ahead, would you know -- here's a good question for you. Would you know what you'd do in the event of a zombie apocalypse?

ACOSTA: You can't sequester them.

BOLDUAN: You cannot sequester them. But Jeanne Moos is going to answer that question next.


BOLDUAN: CNN's Erin Burnett is going "OUTFRONT" tonight with more on the cruise ship Triumph and the first lawsuit that's been filed. Erin's joining us now for a preview.

Erin, you knew this was coming.

ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: Absolutely. It only took about 24 hours, Kate. And here we have the first lawsuit filed against Carnival Cruise Lines. So we're going to tell you a little bit about that.

And also, get to the heart of the investigation here, which matters not just to the 4,000 people who were on board the Carnival Triumph but to the 10 million Americans that cruise every single year. And that is, Kate, how bad was this fire? If it was a bad fire, that's a very serious thing. If it wasn't a bad fire, how come it was still able to take out five of the six generators, each of which are the size of a bus, on this ship? Both of these questions are very troubling. So we're going to be talking about that, about that lawsuit, and get some answers on that coming up at the top of the hour.

Back to you.

BOLDUAN: All right. A lot of questions still remaining in that investigation. ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT, top of the hour. Thanks, Erin. See you soon.

So here's a very different story for you. You can say that. Maybe you have a disaster kit ready to go, bottled water, canned food, flashlights, if you will. But do you know what you would do in the event of a zombie apocalypse?

ACOSTA: I have no idea. BOLDUAN: Jeanne Moos reports it's a question America's neighbors to the north are having a little fun with.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Is there a zombie in the house? The House of Commons...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't need to tell you, Mr. Speaker, that zombies don't recognize borders.

MOOS: This isn't the latest episode of "The Walking Dead." Though you could argue some politicians fit that description. This is actually Canada's parliament.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I want to ask the minister of foreign affairs: Is he working with his American counterparts to enact an international zombie strategy so that a zombie invasion does not turn into a zombie apocalypse?

MOOS: It's clear these guys aren't brain dead, because they know how to joke. The minister of foreign affairs reciprocated with a pun that was dead-on.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Speaker, I want to assure this member and all Canadians that I am dead-icated to assuring that this never happens.

MOOS: The zombie issue came up because Quebec was supposed to hold a mock zombie disaster training exercise. And while that might sound bizarre, zombie drills are not that unusual.

This one took place in Ohio. The idea is to have emergency planners think outside the box, as opposed to dealing with crises they've dealt with in the past. Even officials at the Centers for Disease Control have used zombies to grab the public's attention.

Zombies have no respect for romance. There were false zombie alerts this week at a handful of TV stations in places like Michigan and Montana.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The bodies of the dead are rising from their graves and attacking the living.

MOOS: Hackers managed to temporarily take control of the station's emergency broadcast systems. Just as they used to do with far simpler traffic signs.

The zombie debate in Canada's house had members laughing.

(on camera): But wait. Zombie apocalypse training has been canceled. The new scenario will simulate flooding. Flooding?

(voice-over): Yes. All the joshing about zombies had Quebec's government worried the training exercise would lose its serious focus.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Under the leadership of this prime minister, Canada will never become a safe haven for zombies ever!


MOOS: Anyway, Canada has nothing to fear. As one guy posted on Gawker, zombies are allergic to maple syrup.

Jeanne Moos...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To a zombie apocalypse!

MOOS: ... CNN...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Canada will never become a safe haven for zombies, ever!


MOOS: ... New York.


BOLDUAN: I'm still confused. Why would you ever have a zombie apocalypse training?

ACOSTA: I'll tell you, cruise ships, zombies, sequester, it's been a full week.

BOLDUAN: You know what that means? It means it's Friday. It's been a really full week.

Remember, you can always follow us on what's going on in THE SITUATION ROOM. You can follow us on Twitter. As we always stay, you can tweet me, @KateBolduan.

ACOSTA: And I'm @JimAcostaCNN. And tweet the show, @CNNSitRoom.

BOLDUAN: Yes, you can follow us there, as well.

That's it for us. "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.