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ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT

Is The "One Eye" Dead Or Alive?; Who Is Moktar Belmoktar?; Sex And The Priesthood; Budget Woes: Fact or Hype?

Aired March 4, 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, reports that a major figure in the war on terror has been killed or has he?

Plus, many Democrats believed Republicans would suffer a public backlash if the forced spending cuts went into effect, but guess what happened? The president's approval rating has changed big time.

And the sinkhole in Florida buried a man alive as he was sleeping in his bed. There is another sinkhole now and a risk to more Americans. Let's go OUTFRONT.

Good evening, everyone. I'm Erin Burnett. OUTFRONT tonight, dead or alive, tonight, U.S. officials say they're still not sure whether a crucial leader of al Qaeda is still alive. Two days after Chad's military leaders reported they had killed Moktar Belmoktar in Mali.

Tag the confusion. The AFP is now reporting that the French defense minister in a television interview tonight said there is no proof that Belmoktar was killed. Belmoktar is a key player. He is one of the world's most wanted terrorists. He claimed responsibility for the January attack on an Algerian gas facility in which at least 37 foreign hostages died including three Americans.

Now, I want to note that we've been reaching out to a source in the region, a military leader in the Islamist group, Ansar Dine. His name is Omar Hama. I called him today. He's worked side by side with Belmoktar, and usually, he's eager to take that call, to address our questions at length.

Tonight, though, after repeated attempts, we were unable to reach him. Barbara Starr is at the Pentagon tonight. Barbara, why is it so hard to get a straight answer here on alive or dead?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, good evening, Erin. You know, the reason is it's a remote area. The U.S. intelligence services around the world, all very unsure this evening. The U.S. has stepped up in recent days its intelligence sharing with the forces of Chad, with the French.

But Chad forces went in on the ground, conducted this attack on what they said was a Jihadist base in Northern Mali. Now the question is, is there evidence, is there intelligence that Belmoktar was even there when the attack happened? Is there any confirming information, overhead imagery, cell phone intercepts, internet traffic, signs of a funeral being planned for a senior al Qaeda leader? All the things tonight that the U.S. is still looking for that signals that would confirm to them. That it is overwhelmingly, likely Belmoktar was killed in the attack. So far, they don't see those signals -- Erin.

BURNETT: All right, Barbara Starr, thank you very much. So the question is who exactly is Moktar Belmoktar? We know he's a veteran Jihadist. He is 40 years old. He's an Algerian, and at least up until now, no matter what happened, he has eluded counterterrorism forces for years.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BURNETT (voice-over): We first heard about this man while traveling on the Mali boarder last summer. A Tuareg tribesman we were with received a warning call telling him this man was in the area.

(on camera): What's his name?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Moktar Belmoktar.

BURNETT: Moktar Belmoktar, born in Algeria, he's been a Jihadist since his late teens. He's feared but also revered in Northern Africa. He lost an eye fighting in Afghanistan and one eye is just one of his many names. They also call him the prince and Mr. Marlboro.

A nickname he earned as a successful smuggler of cigarettes, weapons and drugs. Mokhtar Belmokhtar is also famous for kidnapping. The Tuareg tribesman we were with feared Belmoktar would kidnap or kill us if we went to the town where he was.

We were forced to turn back and returned safely. The former Canadian diplomat, Robert Fowler who worked for the United Nations wasn't so lucky. He was taken by Belmoktar's brigade in 2008 and held for 130 days.

ROBERT FOWLER, FORMER AL QAEDA HOSTAGE: I was terrified that the whole thing would end with a knife at my throat in a tent like your colleague, Daniel Pearl.

BURNETT: Africa's security analyst Rudy Atalla said the veteran Jihadist has worked in Libya, Algeria, Mauritania, and Mali where he has integrated himself by marrying the daughter of an Arab leader from Timbuktu. He even named his son, Osama.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's operated in that space very comfortably, and he knows how to make himself disappear.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BURNETT: OUTFRONT tonight, Seth Jones, author of "Hunting in The Shadows, The Pursuit of Al Qaeda After 9/11." He's also with the National Security and Defense Policy Center, and Peter Brookes, former deputy assistant secretary of defense under President George W. Bush. Good to talk to both of you.

Peter, you know, interesting, when we called the military commander today, I'm not trying to read anything into it, but I'm just saying, I wasn't able to get through to him. Usually I am, and he's eager to talk to us.

Is it worrisome that we don't have a straight answer on whether Belmoktar is dead or not and whether the other terrorist that was reported killed last week in the same area is dead or not?

PETER BROOKES, FORMER DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: Well, we certainly can't be complacent about it. It's best until we have proof that we assume that they're still alive, and we operate accordingly.

Obviously, the French, the Chadian forces, Malians, are operating there. It appears we're providing some intelligence, according to some reporting in the "Wall Street Journal" today. This is a very important fight that we're in here.

Of course, I wouldn't take it personally he didn't take your phone call, but things are probably -- he may be on the run as well. And things are a little bit -- you know, there's a lot of chaos going on there right now with the French and the Chadians and the Malians pressing the offensive.

BURNETT: That's right. I mean, people have said, of course, they could be in the more cave-ridden area in the Northern Mali along the border there. Rudy, you know him, and of course, everyone, you just saw him in our piece.

He said the chances of Chadians, of course, the Chad Army is the one who said they killed Abu Zeid and Belmoktar, both terrorists, two days apart is slim to none. There's a much better chance of winning the lottery. What do you think?

SETH JONES, AUTHOR, "HUNTING IN THE SHADOWS": Well, there may be some truth to that. Look, I think in this case, from a U.S. perspective, it's hard to gauge the evidence right now. We don't have the forces that we've had in Afghanistan or Pakistan to assess these kinds of strikes.

The Chadians, it would be great if they killed him. They are on the ground, but I would be surprised if they had the level of intelligence to kill someone of this magnitude without help from say, French air strikes that were conducting attacks on the ground.

BURNETT: So how big of a priority should finding Belmoktar be right now, Peter? I mean, is he -- obviously, he appears to be a figurehead that has been growing in importance, but is that true or not?

BROOKES: He's very important, but once again, as we talked about on Friday about Abu Zeid, it's just one person. It would be a significant blow to al Qaeda and the Islamic Maghreb and these groups out there, but it doesn't mean that it's the end of the game here. You know, there are still a lot to do. There are other people out there. The French would tell you that a person by the name of Abu Alman is another very important leader out there. Like I said, you know, getting these two is very important, but I'm not necessarily convinced it would be fatal. Even if it were true the both of them were dead.

BURNETT: All right, it's interesting to note it will be the second anniversary of Bin Laden's death on May 2nd, and two years ago, no one ever talked about Moktar Belmoktar. I'm sure there was some people who are aware of who really was, but he wasn't somebody anybody that people really talked about.

The president since then, as we all know it, at the time was saying al Qaeda has been decimated. Then he changed his speech to saying al Qaeda is on the path to defeat. So he's changed his rhetoric.

How important would a killing of Belmoktar be to this president? Would it be as important right now in terms of his influence on al Qaeda and people who are considering joining that organization as Bin Laden?

JONES: No. I don't think it would be as important as killing Bin Laden. He does not have the global reach or influence that Bin Laden did, but he is important for one major reason. He has killed American. He has American blood on his hands, and it was recently.

So I think in that sense, being able to capture and in this case, potentially kill him, has very significant implications that if you do target and kill American civilians overseas, you will pay a price for that.

BURNETT: And Peter, the bottom line is this would appear to be, if it is true, that Abu Zeid, the Belmoktar are dead, a very big victory, even if it was the Chadians who did it, for President Obama.

BROOKES: Well, I'm not sure it's a victory for President Obama. It's a victory for the international community. I'm still bothered, Erin, by the fact that justice has not been served on those who took four Americans' lives in Benghazi almost six months ago.

So like I said, you know, I would be glad to see these people out of the picture, but once again, I think we have to be careful about the signals it sends. And what we do, and once again, it would be a victory for the international community overall.

BURNETT: Of course, as we have reported, the U.S. officials have said it is possible that no one will ever be brought to justice for the killing in Benghazi. Thanks to both of you.

OUTFRONT next, a major story involving the cardinal of the Catholic Church. His admission and why it could affect the upcoming conclave and who the next pope is?

An administration official saying the forced spending cuts have caused long lines at airports, but you know what? We checked, and we'll tell you whether that adds up.

And Dennis Rodman may know more about North Korea's leader than the CIA. What the heck is wrong with that sad fact?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BURNETT: Our second story OUTFRONT, sex, celibacy, and the priesthood. While more than 140 cardinals are meeting at the Vatican to select a new pope, the Catholic Church once again rocked by scandal.

This time, Cardinal Keith O'Brien of Scotland issuing a statement saying, "I wish to take this opportunity to admit there have been times that my sexual conduct has fallen below the standards expected of me as a priest, archbishop, and cardinal."

O'Brien resigned last week after being accused of abusing four men while they were studying to be priests in the 1980s. OUTFRONT tonight, Father Albert Cutie, who left the Catholic Church after his relationship with a woman became public and Father Edward Beck, a priest and host of the "Sunday Mass."

And great to have both of you back. Father Beck, let me start with you. Cardinal O'Brien talked about celibacy in the Catholic Church with the BBC and he said something pretty poignant. I want to play it for you. Here it is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CARDINAL KEITH O'BRIEN, FORMER ARCHBISHOP OF ST. ANDREWS AND EDINBURGH: I realized that many priests have found it very difficult to cope with celibacy and doubt their priesthood and felt a need of companion, of a woman to whom they could get married and raise a family of their own.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: An interesting thing for him to say. Is there some truth in that? Is it too much?

FATHER EDWARD BECK, HOST, "THE SUNDAY MASS": Who would ever say that celibacy is easy? Of course, we all want intimacy. We have a natural drive to be sexual beings, but married couples find it hard to be monogamous.

People who lose their spouses, widows, widowers, they're celibate. They get lonely. Priests aren't the only people who are celibate and do without sex. Certain people who are single choose to be single.

So if you're a good Catholic standing, if you're not married, it means you're not having sex. So priests aren't the only ones who aren't supposed to be having sex.

BURNETT: All right, Father Cutie, what is your point of view on that? The last time you were here you were saying there were a lot of priests who were forced to hide their sexual lives from the Catholic Church because of the rules?

FATHER ALBERT CUTIE, EPISCOPAL PRIEST, CHURCH OF THE RESURRECTION: Well, obviously, cardinals too. It happens at every level of the church. I think that sexuality is part of who we are. I agree with Father Beck that it's a struggle to be celibate, a struggle to live a good marriage, and all of those things are part of humanity.

But I think that when you impose celibacy as the norm for all secular priests, all priests, every parish priest has to be celibate, I think you're asking for trouble. Because the fact is that we are sexual beings, and I think the priest could be just as good and effective ministers of God's people with a wife and their children like it was for the first 12 centuries of the church.

BECK: See, that's the point, that it's mandatory. It's not a choice. But when people begin to make the connection that we have sex abuse in the church because of celibacy, where there's aberrant sexual behavior because of celibacy, that's simply ridiculous.

BURNETT: Well, let me ask you about that, because columnist Frank Bruni of "The New York Times" wrote about that. And I want to get both of your views on this. He said, "No matter what a person's sexual orientation, the celibate culture runs the risk of stunting its development and turning sexual impulses into furtive, tortured gestures."

Now, I don't know how far he would go with that, but there are some who do believe well because you become a priest and you have to be celibate, that's going to make you more likely to be a pedophile, for example.

BECK: Right, and in that article, he did say that celibacy probably contributed to the sex abuse crisis.

But this is what I say to him. The John Jay study that looked at priests from 1950 to 2002 who had abused said that four percent of American Roman Catholic priests abused who were pedophiles. General population, four percent are pedophiles. So that means 96 percent of priests did not abuse. So, why did not celibacy cause them to be pedophiles? Why does not being married -- 30 percent of sex abuse occurs in families, in marriages. Well, does marriage cause sexual abuse? Does being a Boy Scout troop leader cause sexual abuse? It's just a nonsequiter.

BURNETT: Cutie, what do you say to that?

CUTIE: I agree a hundred percent by the way - I agree one hundred percent with Father Beck that pedophiles have nothing to do with celibacy. Celibacy is something that is part of a church norm. And there are many healthy celibate priests. But definitely there are some people -- not just in the priesthood, in every aspect of society, in every culture and actually in every profession -- that do perform these horrible acts with minors, or criminal acts. And I would say that we have to separate the two. They're two different issues.

BECK: But Albert, you do think that there's a value to celibacy. You think for a priest like me who's religious, you see a value. You just don't think that celibacy should be thrown out?

CUTIE: Exactly. And I do think that celibacy does has a value. Actually, in almost every world religion, there are some people who are celibate. The religious, the monks, certain spiritual gurus and certain religious traditions and groups. So I don't think celibacy should be thrown out. I think it needs to be studied, especially for secular diocesan priests.

You know, Father Beck lives in a community. He's a Passionist. He's a religious. They make three vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. Priests like me, we made promises of celibacy and obedience as part of the secular priesthood, but the fact is we live alone. The great majority of -- you talk to celibate diocesan priests, and they'll tell you the closest priest next to him might be miles and miles away. It doesn't happen in the cities, but in rural areas, they're by themselves. And it's a lonely, sometimes, unfortunately, dysfunctional life in some cases.

BURNETT: All right. Well, thanks very much to both of you. And we'll be seeing a lot more of you as the conclave gets started.

So when it comes to the next pope, it's not just Catholics following the story. Gamblers of all faiths are getting in on the action. Europe's largest book maker, Paddy Power, currently offers a line on who the next pope will be, with cardinals from Ghana, Italy and Canada among the favorites.

The last papal action -- election took in more than a million dollar in bets for Paddy Power. This one is going to be seven times bigger. As you can imagine, the church is not happy about the bets, with Archbishop Ramon Arguelles saying, "Betting is always bad. Praying is the best thing. God has to be in charge."

Which brings me to tonight's number. Seventy-six percent. According to a survey by the magazine "U.S. Catholic," that's the number of American parishes that host bingo games and raffles. Church attendance is down in the U.S., and many parishes have been using revenue from bingo to subsidize their costs.

Now, some people will say that bingo is not on the same level as papal wagering, but consider this. The first reported bingo game was played in 16th century Italy. The exact same time and place where people first started betting on who the pope would be. Hmm, I smell a rat. All I'm saying is the church shouldn't shy away from papal wagers; they should embrace it. Father Beck is still here and laughing.

Because if they're really offended by the idea of this, maybe they should just change it to that.

And still to come, TSA officials saying the forced spending cuts have caused longer lines at airport security checkpoints. That is something one can check and ascertain and confirm and see if it adds up, so we did.

Inside the deadly sinkhole that swallowed and killed a man as he lay asleep in his bed.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BURNETT: Our third story OUTFRONT, another sinkhole in Florida. Authorities in Sefner, Florida, are on the scene of a second sinkhole just about three miles from the spot where 36-year-old Jeff Bush died last week after being swallowed up by the earth while he was asleep. Rescue crews demolished Bush's family home, and they're going to fill the hole there with gravel to try to stabilize the area. They still say that as of now, they don't have any hope they will recover Bush's body. That's only adding to his family's anguish.

George Howell is OUTFRONT.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GEORGE HOWELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Slowly and carefully, crews tore down the walls of this home. They tried to spare the pictures, the family furniture and even an American flag.

But the search for Jeffrey Bush, who died here after being swallowed by a sinkhole, has already ended.

And for Bush's brother Jeremy...

JEREMY BUSH, JEFF BUSH'S BROTHER: I feel that they -- they could have tried harder to try to get my brother out of there.

HOWELL (voice-over): The memories this family is able to salvage here will never be enough.

JEREMY BUSH: It's really hard. You lose somebody so closely you're with everyday. He lives with you, he works with you, around him 24/7. The only time -- was when you were sleeping or in the shower or in the bathroom. You know, it's hard. It's really hard.

HOWELL: Wearing his brother's hat, Jeremy Bush watched with family and friends as heavy equipment tore through the house, revealing the place where Jeremy heard his brother screaming and tried to save him. From the air, you can get a glimpse of the sinkhole believed to be some 50 feet deep.

And on the ground, you could even see the 80-foot arm of the machine plunge down deep, past the foundation, pulling up debris.

WILLIE PUZ, HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY SPOKESMAN: The goal is to get the house removed, the slob remove, so we can see the sinkhole. We don't know if the house is going to fall in, but we're going to take every precaution to remove that debris if we can.

HOWELL (on-camera): When you look at what's happening here, it's very delicate work, because on either side of this home there, two homes that have to be evacuated, because crews are concerned the sinkhole could continue to grow. They say that the ground nearby is just too unstable for people to get to close. But Jeremy Bush disagrees. He believes crews should be able to do something to get his brother.

BUSH: They had a hard time pulling concrete up. If he's in the ground and still stable right there, why couldn't you -- get that long arm, have somebody hanging from that arm, trying to dig my brother out.

HOWELL (voice-over): The day ended with a burial of sorts. The family gathered the memorials left by well wishers, dropping them into the claw the backhoe. The backhoe then gently dropped those memorials into the sinkhole that has now become a grave.

George Howell, CNN, Sefner, Florida.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BURNETT: Still OUTFRONT, did the forced spending cuts do more damage to the president's approval rating than anybody expected?

Plus, calling 911 and getting no help.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

911 OPERATOR: Is there anybody there that's willing to help this lady and not let her die?

NURSE: Not at this time.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BURNETT: Welcome back to the second half of OUTFRONT.

We start with stories we care about, where we focus on our reporting from the front lines.

First, a breakthrough in the fight against HIV and AIDS. A 2- year-old girl from Mississippi was born HIV positive and is now healthy. She got aggressive treatment with antiviral drugs that started just after her birth.

Doctors say this is the first time that a child has been, quote/unquote, "functionally cured of HIV with drugs." This means that the traces of the virus are now so small in her body that she won't need life-long children. It's unclear if it will lead to better treatment for older children or adults.

Jake Glaser whose mother Elizabeth cofounded the Pediatric AIDS Foundation tells OUTFRONT the news is encouraging. But it is important to remember this is only a step in the right direction, not an immediate solution and far from the cure. Well, the trial has begun for 94 individuals accused of plotting to overthrow the government of the United Arab Emirates, a major U.S. ally in the Middle East. Several of the accused are said to have ties to a group that has peacefully called for government reform. Human rights groups are watching the case closely. They say some detainees have been held for nearly a year.

And Sanji Berry (ph) of Amnesty International tells us he's concerned that the emirates are not letting foreign media or human rights groups into the court to monitor what's happening during the trial.

And now, an OUTFRONT update to a story we first brought you a few weeks ago. It's about Senator Robert Menendez who faced allegations that he partied with prostitutes in the Dominican Republic. The senator has strongly denied this.

Well, tonight, CNN has learned through court documents that an escort who initially claimed in a videotape that she had sex with Menendez now said she was paid by a lawyer to read a script. She said she was videotaped surreptitiously and may have been led to believe that the script she was given had something to do with a divorce case.

And now, a massive swarm of locust has struck Egypt. This is truly biblical. According to local reports, the Egyptian minister of agriculture believes the swarm consists of at least 30 million locusts.

There are now concerns the locusts will move to Israel. A hotline has been set up for Israeli residents to report locust sightings. Sudan has also had problems with the insect. And as were this iReport video comes from. You can see them in the sky. They look like small birds.

Entomologist Greg Sword (ph) of Texas A&M tells us swarms like these are relatively rare. This year, he said the conditions were favorable for reproduction and population growth.

Well, it's been 578 days since the U.S. lost its credit rating. Some nights I actually think about the number that just came out of my mouth.

You know what? It's getting too darn high. What are we doing to get it back? Well, today, stocks continue to creep towards a record. The Dow is less than 40 points away from an anew all-time high.

And now, our third story OUTFRONT.

Feeling the pain. That's what the president warned us about when the forced spending cuts took effect. One thing the administration says we would be facing right now was long lines at the airport.

But is it true?

Guess what? You can fact check that. Jim Acosta is OUTFRONT.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JIM ACOSTA, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): From the table in the cabinet room, President Obama warned the consequences of those automatic budget cuts are coming to kitchen tables across the country.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It is an area of deep concern. I think everybody knows where I stand on this issue. We are going to manage it as best we can to try to minimize the impacts on American families.

ACOSTA: The Department of Homeland Security says reductions in overtime for customs workers resulted in long lines at international airports around the U.S. over the weekend.

JANET NAPOLITANO, U.S. HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: We are already seeing the effects at some of the ports of entry. The big airports, for example, some of them had very long lines this weekend. I would say 150 percent to 200 percent as long as we would normally expect.

ACOSTA: A spokesperson for Secretary Janet Napolitano cautioned she was not referring to TSA security checkpoints, just customs lines.

The TSA says expect those wait times to spike later in the spring, as the agency won't fill up to 1,000 personnel vacancies by Memorial Day weekend. Passengers we found said they're not feeling it yet.

KEVIN MURDOCK, TRAVELER: Sequestration hasn't hit or bitten for us yet and we're pretty regular travelers.

ACOSTA: But the White House may be undercutting its case with some budget hype. Consider Education Secretary Arne Duncan, who now says he misspoke when he claimed last week that teachers were already receiving pink slips.

ARNE DUNCAN, U.S. EDUCATION SECRETARY: I want to apologize for not being as clear as I should have been last week. So, when I said pink slips, that was probably the wrong word. I should have used job eliminations.

ACOSTA (on camera): What is the administration doing to make sure that these numbers are not hyped, because might that undercut your message?

JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Here's the thing: if you disagree with the CBO and with outside economic analysts who say that up to three quarters of a million jobs will be lost -- well, you should make that case. There's no way to do what the sequester calls for and not create these negative effects.

ACOSTA (voice-over): Americans may not be feeling the punch, but there are plenty of spending cut punch lines. Over the weekend, the "S" in "SNL" stood for sequester. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We no longer have full body scanners at the security lines, so we're asking everyone to take a photo down the front of their pants and just text that to us.

ACOSTA: With Washington becoming a joke, it's no surprise both sides appear willing to pass a measure that would avoid a government shutdown at the end of the month.

REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: So I'm hopeful that the House and Senate will be able to work through this.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BURNETT: Jim, I love the "Saturday Night Live" skit. I don't know, it just captures the whole ridiculous outrage of the situation, but there's still a lot of pressure on Washington to soften the forced cuts even though people haven't felt them yet. Is anything going to get done?

ACOSTA: Well, House Republicans came out with an idea today, something of a sequester softener, if you want to call it that, Erin. It would reduce the impact of these forced budget cuts on the Pentagon and a slew of other federal programs like border patrol, like the FBI.

But at this point, it's really just a proposal out of the House. No word on whether it will pass the Senate or even if the president will sign off on it. So this is Washington. You just have to wait and see.

BURNETT: A sequester softener. Absolutely disgusting image, and I'm glad, but I think it's perfect.

ACOSTA: Think fabric softener.

BURNETT: As opposed to the other softener.

All right. The president's job approval rating, though, took a hit this weekend, lowest level in the three-day average for Gallup since his reelection. So, 46 percent down from 52 percent a week ago. That seems like a pretty big drop.

ACOSTA: It does.

BURNETT: So far, you know, we keep talking about, oh, the public is blaming the Republicans. But this seems to be a big move, isn't it?

ACOSTA: Yes, and actually, Erin, there's a new CBS News poll that came out tonight that shows that the public may be starting to blame both parties equally, or at least the president and the Republicans almost equally on this issue. There's a new poll that came out tonight: 38 percent of Americans blame Republicans for these forced cuts, 33 percent on the president.

And we heard the press secretary, Jay Carney, asked earlier today, would the president like to have a Democratic-controlled House in 2014? Well, these numbers are not going to help that effort.

BURNETT: That's going to be something pretty sobering for them. They have been happy there to get those numbers their way.

Thanks very much to you, Jim.

ACOSTA: You bet.

BURNETT: The woman behind the blog post "I am Adam Lanza's Mother", referring to the gunman in the Newtown massacre, will be on Capitol Hill tomorrow. As you may remember, we spoke to blogger Liza Long in December, shortly after the shooting because her blog about her 13-year-old son Michael had set of a national debate on mental health.

"I live with a son who is mentally ill," Liza wrote. "I love my son, but he terrifies me." Her blog went viral with people loathing her and cheering her.

Liza Long is OUTFRONT again tonight as she prepared to testify about violence and severe mental illness on Capitol Hill.

And, Liza, thank you so much for taking the time. You know, when you and I spoke back in December, you were talking from the heart about -- you said 97 percent of the time, your son is a sweet child, but the other 3 percent, he turned into what you called an absolute raging person who has threatened to kill you and himself. I know that it's a big commitment, and it's hard to keep sharing all these details, to go to Washington, share them with the country.

So what made you decide that you and your son would be a face of mental illness and how it can cause violence?

LIZA LONG, AUTHOR, "I AM ADAM LANZA'S MOTHER": I feel like my name is out there, my name is attached to this issue, and I've learned firsthand that advocacy can be a powerful way to remove that stigma.

BURNETT: And when we spoke last time, you know, you told me about the mental health laws in your state in Idaho. You said, you know, talked about this emotionally awful time when your husband had to press criminal charges in order to get your son put in a mental institution for his health, for your safety. But he could only stay in that institution at the time for 10 to 14 days.

What changes are needed? That, to me, seemed so shocking and so difficult for you as a parent.

LONG: Right. And I know that our state isn't alone here in Idaho in dealing with mental illness and mental disorders through the juvenile justice system. In many cases, there's really just a gap between an acute care facility like the one my son visited and jail. There just aren't a lot of options.

I will say in defense of Idaho that advocacy again proved very powerful in our case, and the state's been very forthcoming in providing services for my son. BURNETT: The "Hartford Courant" and PBS had put together a documentary for Frontline on Adam Lanza and his mother Nancy -- obviously, the first person that he killed on that horrific day. Various people have told the current reporters that Adam had a hard time connecting with people. He didn't like to be touched. He had a hard time in school and crowded hallways were difficult for him. One friend said Adam had Asperger's.

And here is what Marvin LaFontaine, who was a long time friend of Adam's mother, said about Adam.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MARVIN LAFONTAINE, NANCY LANZA'S FRIEND: Adam aspires to be like his uncle.

REPORTER: Really?

LAFONTAINE: Yes. He was in the military. And he was very proud of that. And she allowed him to believe that, yes, you're going to be like your uncle.

Depending on how he turned out, sometimes people can overcome that with medication, counseling, whatever. They can -- they can and do. And I think maybe she was hoping for that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: Liza, as a parent, how do you know if your child is just struggling with issues that can be helped and treated or capable of committing a horrific crime?

LONG: How do you ever know? I mean, this is why it's so hard for me as a mother to judge Nancy Lanza. You know, I know plenty of people have judged me and plenty of people judged Nancy.

And I -- it's a hard question, Erin. How would you know? I think whenever you're dealing with a child like Michael, you have to do everything you can in terms of intervention, in terms of therapy, treatments.

But at the same time, you know, for myself, it's important to not own guns. You know, or make sure that he doesn't have access to guns. To me, this just seems like common sense when you're dealing with a child like this.

Also, I do have a very good relationship with our local police department and the police officers are amazing. And at the end of the day, you know, if your child is going to be violent, you have to report the violence. You have to.

BURNETT: Now, when you wrote that blog, and you came on this show, people were -- a lot of people were critical of you. They said how could you do this to your child? They're going to figure out who he is.

Of course, you called him Michael. He's 13. That's not his real name. And you also talked about the blog before you wrote it.

Have you talked to him about your testimony tomorrow?

LONG: Yes, we've discussed it. I actually wanted to get his input. He's a valuable player in that discussion.

You know, he wants to be well. He says, you know, just tell them this is important and we want to get better. And he wants to grow up to be that productive, happy person as well. He wants to go up to be a history professor.

You know, he said just tell them we want help and we want to get better.

BURNETT: All right. Well, OUTFRONT, is Dennis Rodman causing a global problem by meeting with North Korea's leader? Or can the U.S. benefit from the trip? Could the CIA just swallow their pride and say, hey, Dennis, we need help?

And why call 911 if you aren't willing to help?

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

911: OK. Hand the phone to the passerby. If you can't do it, I need -- hand it to the passerby. I'll have her do it.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BURNETT: An investigation is under way into the death of an elderly California woman who died after a nurse at her senior living facility refused to perform CPR. Even though a 911 operator begged her to help, the employee said company policy forbade her and anyone else there from saving anyone's live.

Miguel Marquez is OUTFRONT with the dramatic 911 tape.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

911: We need to get CPR started. That's not enough, OK?

NURSE: Yes, we can't do CPR at this facility.

911: OK. Hand the phone to the passerby. If you can't do it, I need -- hand it to the passerby. I'll have her do it. Or if you got any citizens there, I'll have them do it.

NURSE: No.

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Beyond shocking, a nurse at this Bakersfield independent care facility for the elderly flat out refuses to help 87-year-old Lorraine Bayless when she collapsed on the dining room floor.

911: Is there anybody that works there that's willing to do it? NURSE: We can't do that --

911: Are we going to let her die?

NURSE: Well, that's why we're calling 911.

911: We can't wait. She can't wait right now. She is stopping breathing.

MARQUEZ: The 911 operator practically begs the woman at the facility who identifies herself as a nurse to either help or find someone who can.

911: Anybody there can do CPR, give them the phone please. This woman is not breathing enough. She's going to die if we don't get this started. Do you understand?

NURSE: I understand.

911: OK.

NURSE: I am a nurse, but I cannot have our other senior citizens who don't know CPR to do it.

911: I will instruct them.

NURSE: We're in the dining room.

911: I will instruct them. Is there anyone there --

NURSE: I cannot do that.

911: OK. I don't understand why you're not willing to help this patient.

NURSE: I am, but I --

911: OK, great, then I'll walk you through it all. EMS takes the liability for this, Colleen. I'm happy to help you. OK? This is EMS protocol.

MARQUEZ: John Weber was a firefighter here for 21 years. He said his department responded often to Glenwood Gardens.

JOHN WEBER, RETIRED BAKERSFIELD FIRE BATTALION CHIEF: Their calls that we would go on would range from people falling to full arrest, where someone is not doing it. The calls where someone just would fall down, they would have a policy where it was hands-off. They would not help them.

MARQUEZ: Management told firefighters it was a matter of liability, not wanting their employees injured helping someone else.

The Tennessee company Brookdale Senior Living that owns the Bakersfield facility says the woman who called 911 was hired to be a resident services director, not a nurse, and that the Glenwood Gardens facility is an independent living facility, and is not licensed to provide medical care to any of its residents.

The facility says it followed its protocol by calling emergency services and staying with the patient until emergency personnel arrived.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BURNETT: That was Miguel Marquez. An awful story.

Now, let's check in with Anderson Cooper with a look at what's coming up on "A.C. 360".

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Hey, Erin. Yes, we have a lot more on the breaking news on the program.

The allegations against Senator Bob Menendez that he paid for sex in the Dominican Republic from a prostitute. Those unraveled today. One of the women who made the claims now admits she lied and she was actually paid to lie. The question is who paid her?

We're going to look into that. We're going to talk to CNN's Drew Griffin who is on the ground in the Dominican Republic chasing the story.

Also ahead in crime and punishment, Jodi Arias back on the stand in Arizona. Testimony again focused on her sex life and how she says she murdered her boyfriend in self defense. Randi Kaye was in the court. We'll talk to her about the Arizona law giving jurors a chance to actually ask questions next. Also joined by senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin and criminal defense attorney Mark Geragos.

Those stories, and Dennis Rodman's bizarre trip to North Korea, meeting with the dictator there, and we're going to talk to Laura Ling, who was imprisoned in North Korea, and her sister Lisa who led the fight to free her. That's tonight on the program, also the "Ridiculist" and a whole lot more at the top of the hour -- Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Anderson, looking forward to talking to you in just a couple of moments.

And now our fifth story OUTFRONT: Dennis Rodman played diplomat. Fresh off his trip to North Korea, the one-time basketball star is gushing about his newfound friendship with the brutal dictator of a country notorious for prison camps.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DENNIS RODMAN, FORMER NBA PLAYER: He did one thing to me -- been a friend. The kid's only 28 years old, 28. He's not his dad. Not his grandpa.

As a kid, he's very humble. He's very strong, as a man. He's very strong. But guess what? He don't want war.

He's a great guy. He's just a great guy. If you sit down and talk to him. He wants Obama to do one thing -- call him. Guess what, what I did, what I did, was history.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: Yes, it was. Rodman is said to be the only American known to have met Mr. Kim. And that's no laughing matter.

But as for a phone call from the president, all right, that's not going to happen. White House press secretary Jay Carney would only say North Korea is wasting its time and money.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CARNEY: North Korea ought to be focusing on its own citizens and opportunities to improve their lives. And the United States has channels of communications directly with DPRK. Those are the channels we choose to employ.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: OK. Is an eccentric basketball star making more headway with Kim Jong Un than the United States?

OUTFRONT tonight, four-time Olympic medal winner Ato Boldon, "Politico's" Ben White, and CNN contributor Reihan Salam.

Ben, is there a lesson to be learned here? All right. So Dennis Rodman shows up looking a little bit look a kook, OK? And he's got his sunglasses on inside the studio and you don't need them in there and he's got his dollar bill jacket on. But -- but, what did he accomplish?

BEN WHITE, POLITICO: Well, he was there, met the guy, maybe got some useful information. I don't think -- it's painful for me to agree with Donald Trump in a situation like this, because I never just agree with him.

But no one has gotten in there. No one has met with him. He's a 28-year-old. He does -- you know, he is taking over for the first time this hermit kingdom.

Is there a small, tiny little chance that he wants to reach out to a crazy person like Dennis Rodman and make a connection with the West that he hasn't made before? I think there's a chance of it.

You know, mostly it's a clownish buffoon incident that we've just seen. But I think if you're going to give the kid a benefit of the doubt, for even a little bit of time, and Dennis Rodman brings back even a tiny piece of information, we shouldn't just dismiss it out of hand.

BURNETT: Ato, what do you make of Dennis Rodman saying he could be the West's leading expert on North Korea's leader? I don't know if Bill Richardson has anything to say about that. What do you think?

ATO BOLDON, FOUR-TIME OLYMPIC MEDAL WINNER: Erin, I think that as an athlete, you have to know sometimes when you're being played.

He said something very important at the top of that interview. He said, you know, this was not supposed to be me meeting with Kim Jong Un this much. It was supposed to be really small, and then all of a sudden, it turned into something very big.

That says to me they had already had it planned. Dennis Rodman is going to be in town, guess what we're going to do? We're going to take lots of pictures, you're going to be -- it's going to be Dennis Rodman day all day here in North Korea.

So, I think Dennis walked into something that I think was a lot bigger than he at this point understands.

BURNETT: When you look at that picture of Kim Jong Un and Dennis Rodman sitting together, you think it's a cartoon. It is so bizarre. I mean -- it's amazing.

REIHAN SALAM, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: It's definitely bizarre. But I also think it really does reflect desperation on the part of North Koreans. I think that's actually an opportunity. So recently, North Korea has a test of a nuclear weapon. And on one level everyone says that means they're saying screw the rest of the world. We're ready to do what we're going to do, and we're not willing to negotiate.

But another possibility is that here's a guy who's coming in. He's very green, he's very new. It's his way of establishing that he's tough. He's establishing his bona fides.

BURNETT: Yes.

SALAM: And in establishing that he's tough, and then he can open up. There are a number of people, I was in South Korea recently and I spoke with a number of experts on reunification and related issues.

BURNETT: Right.

SALAM: And a lot of them are speculating that actually he is now in a position by virtue of having done this seemingly crazy thing to then take the steps that he would otherwise have been too vulnerable to take. So, again, Dennis Rodman, very quirky stuff, very silly, but I think it reflects the type that they're willing to make a pivot.

BURNETT: And, Ben, let me just -- a cartoon just came out which makes me laugh. Steve Breen, cartoonist. You've got Dennis Rodman standing next to Kim Jong-un. "Standing next to him makes me appear less crazy," that's coming out of Kim Jong Un's mouth.

WHITE: Yes, if there's someone in the world that can make him seem a little less crazy, it's Dennis Rodman. But he did a Vulcan mind meld on him and got a little bit of information that we don't necessarily ask.

BURNETT: There's your reference right there. Make sure --

(CROSSTALK) BURNETT: Make sure you got it right.

WHITE: I think, you know, the upshot is, it's a crazy ridiculous thing that he did. He's probably not going to do the United States any good or bring back any useful information. But there's a chance he will.

BURNETT: There's a chance.

WHITE: I don't see it as this awful evil thing that he's done.

BURNETT: Ato, one final word, though. You think this specifically sets black athletes in this country back nearly a century.

BOLDON: I went to UCLA because of people like Jackie Robinson and Arthur Ashe. I don't need my athletes always socially conscious. But I don't want them to be socially myopic.

And, you know, I listened to Dennis Rodman talk about Kim Jong Un as if he was the greatest guy ever. And I'm thinking about some of the families who have -- you know, who have families been affected by this North Korea regime and people being imprisoned and people who are going to freeze to death and starve to death this winter. And I just thought about them and how even maybe with Dennis Rodman's fans in the past and how they must feel listening to this guy praised Kim Jong Un.

WHITE: He used language he shouldn't have used. Nobody's in love with Kim Jong Un.

(CROSSTALK)

WHITE: Very good point.

BURNETT: All right. Thanks to all three of you.

And then up next, what should have been a great sports story about courage and men and women. But then the media got involved.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BURNETT: This weekend the New York area media was all abuzz.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The latest groundbreaking moment.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Historic shattered the glass ceiling.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Groundbreaking day.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Going where no woman has gone before.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Should reverberate throughout the United States.

(END VIDEO CLIPS)

BURNETT: Whoa. What was it all about? What was the thing that was so groundbreaking and historic? It had everybody all atwitter.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Today, Lauren Silberman will become the first female ever to try out for the NFL.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: Right on Sunday, 28-year-old Lauren Silberman became the first woman to do that, to try out for the NFL. She was one of 37 kickers. Her experience is in soccer, not football. But all week, the media obsessed with her.

Would she be able to live up to the impossible expectations?

No. Her first kickoff attempt went 19 yards, her second 13, well short of the perfect 60 she was hoping for. But is it really so surprising?

As of now, the only requirement to attend one of these combines is a $275 entrance fee and prove you're eligible for the draft. Lauren had both. Despite coming up short, she should be proud of herself for trying.

The fact that the media is now tearing her down is a little unfair since they were the ones who build her up and created this whole stink in the first place.

The real sign of female success will be when the media stops making a stink over a woman doing a man's job.

Anderson Cooper is now.