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ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT
Republicans Slam 13-Hour "Rand-Page"; Paul Claims "Victory" In Filibuster; North Korea Threatens U.S. With Nuclear Strike; Florida Beaches Reopen After Sharks Invade; Bin Laden Relative In U.S. Custody
Aired March 7, 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, Rand Paul talked and talked and talked last night for almost 13 hours and yet he still has enough of a voice to talk to us tonight.
Plus, North Korea bangs the drum of war. Kim Jong-Un threatens to launch a pre-emptive strike against the United States.
And a 24-year-old intern killed by a lion at an animal sanctuary. The young woman's father joins us tonight. Let's go OUTFRONT.
Good evening, everyone. I'm Erin Burnett. OUTFRONT tonight, Senator Rand Paul declares victory after a filibuster that lasted 12 hours, 52 minutes, and 11 seconds, because who's counting, the man who staged the "Rand-page" finally got the answer he wanted from the White House.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Does the president have the authority to use a weaponized drone to kill an American, not engaged in combat on American soil? The answer is no.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: And in return, the White House got what it wanted too, John Brennan was confirmed today as CIA director in a 63-34 vote in the Senate. It was Brennan's nomination, of course, that Paul was holding up with his close to epic filibuster. But not everyone in Senator Paul's own party is celebrating his win.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: All I can say is that I don't think that what happened yesterday is helpful to the American people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Tonight, Senator Rand Paul is somehow still standing, and I spoke with him just moments ago, and I asked him whether it was worth it 12 hours, 52 minutes, and 11 seconds for what is essentially a two-letter response, N-O.
SENATOR RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: Absolutely. I think, you know, the idea that the constitution applies to all American citizens and that the military will not be using military strikes against American citizens, I think such an important principle that I could have gone eight more minutes and gone to 13 hours, maybe.
But, no, I think the response was important. You don't always get a response from the White House when you make an argument, but we have been asking for six weeks for this response. The fact that we got it, I feel like it's a victory for us.
BURNETT: All right, I know you feel that way. But, of course, you're no stranger to this, but there's been some harsh criticism, this time, though, from some pretty big names in your own party. Here's what some of your Senate colleagues on the Republican side had to say about your big day yesterday.
SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: Somehow, to allege that the United States of America, our government, would drop a drone hellfire missile on Jane Fonda, that -- that -- that is -- that brings the conversation from a serious discussion about U.S. policy to the realm of the ridiculous.
SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: To my Republican colleagues, I don't remember any of you coming down here, suggesting that President Bush was going to kill anybody with a drone.
BURNETT: So Senators McCain and Graham, and on the "Wall Street Journal" editorial board this morning, they took you in their sights, saying, "Calm down, Senator. Mr. Holder is right, even if he doesn't explain the law very well. The U.S. government cannot randomly target American citizens on U.S. soil or anywhere else.
If Mr. Paul wants to be taken seriously, he needs to do more than pull political stunts that fire up more than impressionable libertarian kids in their college dorms. He needs to know what he's talking about."
PAUL: Here's the response, Erin. That editorial goes on to say that they can't target Americans, unless we designate them as enemy combatants, which begs the question, who gets to make the judgment who's an enemy combatant and who's not? Who gets to make the judgment, he's associated with terrorists.
If you write an e-mail to your cousin in Lebanon and they might be a terrorist or they might have friends who are terrorists, somehow, you are without getting a trial by jury. These are the same two senators that argued in favor of indefinite detention, which means, and I asked Senator McCain this directly.
I said, does this mean you could take an American citizen, without a trial, and send them to Guantanamo Bay for the rest of their life, without ever charging them, and he said, yes, if they're a safety risk. Who gets to decide? Senator McCain? Does he get to decide if you're an enemy combatant? I'm alarmed by anybody, any adult, or any senator who would say that they get to judge your guilt and without a charge send you to indefinite detention. These are the same people who are also arguing that the laws of war apply to America, because America is the battlefield.
In the law of war, the conclusion to that is that you don't get due process. So what they're arguing for is alarming. Every American should be alarmed and worried about the philosophy behind their arguments.
BURNETT: And I understand what you're saying. I get the logic of that. But, you know, you've said in the past that you would have convicted Al Awlaki of treason, obviously, who was killed by a drone in Yemen, and you said, you wouldn't have been with a drone strike against him.
But I wonder from your point of view, how can you be all right though with Al Awlaki being killed in Yemen if you wouldn't be all right with him being killed by a drone here if he's an enemy combatant in both cases plotting against the United States of America?
PAUL: What it has to do in America is I think that we have a doctrine of lethal force if you're using lethal force. So if a person named Al Awlaki has a grenade launcher on his shoulder, they can be wiped out with lethal force by the police, by the FBI. If you're robbing a liquor store --
BURNETT: So your issue is the drone? You don't mind killing him, it's the drone?
PAUL: No, it has nothing to do with that. It has to do with -- you can use lethal force when someone is committing lethal force. But what we're doing with our targeted drone attacks is we're often killing people that are not actively involved in any kind of battlefield.
So if we transmit that standard to America, you would have people sitting in cafes, in their home at night. We don't do that in America. In America, you're accused of a crime, you would be arrested, and you would get a trial by a jury of your peers.
BURNETT: I still don't understand, in the Al-Awlaki case, because they said they had proof he had plotted against the United States, but to your point at that moment, he wasn't holding a grenade launcher, pointing it at an American citizen when he was killed, but yet it was OK to do it. So there's it appears a gray area in your mind?
PAUL: Well, no, I think you miss my point. On Al-Awlaki, my opinion has been that it would have been better to have tried him for treason and that he could have been executed because you can have a death penalty for a treason case.
For people who are engaged in a battlefield overseas, that are holding grenade launchers or firing weapons, there is no due process. My point is, is that Senators McCain and Graham say that they want the laws of war to come home to America, that America is a battlefield, and that the laws of war come home.
But the laws of war don't involve due process, and can't, and I don't think they should. So, I don't want the law of war to be the law of America because that would mean that we would be giving up on the bill of rights.
BURNETT: Now I must say on a slightly lighter note, you did get some support and you actually got some support from the Democratic side. Democratic Senator Ron Wyden spoke up and defended you. Senator Paul, even Majority Leader Harry Reid had some praise for you and here is that.
SENATOR HARRY REID (D), MAJORITY LEADER: I've been involved in a few filibusters, as Rand Paul has, as Rand Paul did yesterday. And what I've learned from my experiences, with talking filibusters, is this. To succeed, you need strong convictions, but also a strong bladder. It's obvious, Senator Paul has both.
BURNETT: I have to say, I was incredibly impressed by your bladder control and I was only all right with it because you are a doctor and I figured you knew if you were taking a risk you shouldn't be taking.
PAUL: Yes, one of the things that really, there were two things that struck me about yesterday, three things. One, the public response was overwhelming, bigger than we have ever seen. The second thing that struck me was that members of the House of Representatives came over spontaneously and began to support this.
Members of the Senate came over. But really, the biggest compliment for somebody in high office up here is when people from across the aisle that don't see eye to eye with you often come and compliment you, four or five senators came by at the end today.
And said that they were very appreciative of my stance, and many of them actually said that they agreed with me standing up to defend, you know, the right of people to have the right to trial by jury, and this was an important battle, despite what some might want to make it. This was a big, huge victory for those who believe in the bill of rights.
BURNETT: All right, thanks to Senator Rand Paul.
OUTFRONT next, Kim Jong-Un plans a war. What he has said about attacking the United States of America.
Plus, just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water, thousands of sharks are lining the U.S. coast. This is pretty stunning video. Look at those guys under me.
And how would you like to get drunk with some celebrities say, Angelina Jolie? Brad and Angelina's wine is (inaudible). (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
BURNETT: Our second story, OUTFRONT, nuclear strike. North Korea tonight threatening to launch a pre-emptive nuclear attack against the United States and this is on the same day that the U.N. slapped the country with new sanctions, targeting its nuclear program.
International condemnation and punishment, though, has done little to deter North Korea's dictator, Kim Jong-Un. He's been in power for 14 months, and in that time, he has launched two long-range missiles, one last April, and one again in December.
Then last month, the country, with a million-man army, conducted a third nuclear test so just how dangerous is the 30-year-old Kim Jong-Un? Could he actually be worse than his father?
OUTFRONT tonight, Victor Cha, he is a nuclear weapons expert and the former director for Asian Affairs at the National Security Council under President Bush, and Gordon Chang, author of "Nuclear Showdown: North Korea Takes On The World."
Victor, let me start with you. I mean, how much of a threat is Kim Jong-Un? You know, everyone had said when he came in. He might be softer and gentler. We saw those pictures of him for a while even with his new wife.
Just a week ago, he's hanging out with Dennis Rodman. He's often pictured doing some rather comical and bizarre things like riding amusement park rides in Pyongyang. And now we're supposed to take him seriously when he says he's going to attack the U.S.?
VICTOR CHA, CENTER FOR STRATEGIC AND INTERNATIONAL STUDIES: Well, I think, Erin, what these things have shown recently is that unpredictable is the new normal when it comes to North Korea. I think we had some sense of how Kim Jong-Il, the former leader, operated.
But there's a lot that we don't know about the current leader, and his actions, as you noted earlier, have really been ranging, far beyond what we've seen in the past with North Korea. I think in the end, he does want all of these western accoutrements of life, whether it's basketball or amusement parks.
But he also wants his nuclear weapons and his ballistic missiles and the problem for us is that we've always thought there was a trade here. We could do a deal, where they would trade their nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles for integration and involvement in the world.
And I think it's very clear that that's not what they want. They want to have both of these things at the same time.
BURNETT: And Victor, how seriously should we take this? You know, today we put the toughest sanctions ever on North Korea. But that country has been under sanctions frankly it seems like forever, and yet they're doing tests and tests and moving forward. I was with the secretary of defense in December, when they had that nuclear test, and it appears, obviously, they're working on having a missile that could strike the western coast of the United States. Are they going to get there?
CHA: Well, at the rate at which they're going, it looks like they will get there. They certainly would not be able to fulfill the threats that they made today about pre-emptively striking the United States.
But I think most experts think it's only a matter of years before they could do something along those lines. And so, this is quite concerning. And you're right, the sanctions thus far have not been able to stop the program.
But I think they're still important because the counterfactual would be if we didn't have these sanctions, they may have been further along the path than they are right now.
BURNETT: Let me just play what the State Department spokeswoman, Victoria Nuland, had to say about these threats and then get your reaction because her words were pretty interesting.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VICTORIA NULAND, SPOKESWOMAN, STATE DEPARTMENT: This kind of bellicose rhetoric from the DPRK is not surprising. It's not new. This regime has regularly missed the opportunity to improve its relationship with the outside world.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Gordon, obviously, she's trying not to overreact, but, you know, just to call it bellicose rhetoric, is that really what it is? It seems like a lot of people really treat North Korea like it's all rhetoric. It's kind of a joke like I said. But then you're saying, no, it may not be a joke.
GORDON CHANG, AUTHOR, "NUCLEAR SHOWDOWN": Well, it's not a joke because they have wanted these weapons. They wanted three-stage ballistic missiles. They sell them to the world's dangerous actors, like Iran, so we know there's a problem here, even if they don't use them themselves.
And also I think they actually can strike the U.S. today pre- emptively. They can take a Toyota pickup truck, put a nuke in the back, and they can park it in any city. And some people in Washington are concerned that the ambassador to the U.N. from North Korea could actually call the White House.
And say, look, I've pre-positioned a bomb on the east coast, do you want to talk? They can do that. So we have to be concerned, not only about their missiles, but about other ways they could sneak a device into the United States.
BURNETT: And Gordon, Senator Bob Menendez said today, I don't think the regime in Pyongyang wants to commit suicide, but they know that would be the result of an attack on the United States. But I ask you, is the U.S. really ready to go to war with North Korea? The U.S. doesn't appear ready to right now go to war with anyone?
CHANG: No, we are not ready to go and we certainly don't want to with regard to North Korea. But you know, it's not our decision to make, it's also theirs as well. So this is not something that's entirely within our control.
You know, the North Koreans are aren't going to airmail a nuke to us because of course, we would obliterate them. But there are other ways they could hurt us that we wouldn't be able to trace back.
We know where their plutonium is. We know the isotopes. We don't know their isotopes for the uranium. So they could sneak uranium into the United States. We might suspect it is North Korea, but we don't know, and if we don't know, we're not going to strike them. So the North Koreans know that.
BURNETT: Interesting point. All right, Victor, Gordon, thank you very much, a pretty sobering point there.
Still to come, President Obama decides to close the White House to the public. We are learning tonight just how much those White House tours cost, but does it add up? As always, we try to get an answer to that question for you.
And is it safe to go back in the water? Thousands of sharks OUTFRONT, next.
BURNETT: Our third story, OUTFRONT, shark invasion. South Florida beaches were closed today after thousands of sharks swarmed the area. It looks beautiful until it's -- you just imagine seeing those dark shadows beneath you in the clear, blue sea.
Some of them were swimming less than 60 feet away from shore. Most beaches are reopened tonight, but lifeguards are on high alert as sharks migrate to warmer waters along the Florida coast.
Now, all of this comes as a recent report reveals the number of unprovoked shark attacks is on the rise. George Howell is OUTFRONT in Boca Raton.
GEORGE HOWELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Thousands of sharks, from the air, they're easy to spot, in the crystal clear waters of Florida's treasure coast. Lifeguard has had to close several beaches to keep people out of the water, and even at the beaches that weren't closed.
CAROLINY COSTA, VISITOR: I want to stay by the shore, definitely.
HOWELL: People are taking extra precautions.
COSTA: It's kind of scary, even with the kids, sharks. We don't come to Florida often.
ROBERT SAFFORD, SURFER: It happens every year, shark run, and us, surfers really know about it, because it's the time of year that we stay out of the water.
HOWELL: It's a school of mostly black-tipped reef sharks and spinner sharks making their way north as the ocean warms for the summer. This stretch along Florida's coast is the closest the sharks typically get to the shore.
Stephen Kaes with the Palm Beach County Ocean Rescue says the migration path has lifeguards raising the double red flag a lot more often.
(on camera): Is this something for people to be worried about if they're out there on the water right now?
STEPHEN KAES, TRAINING OFFICER, PALM BEACH COUNTY OCEAN RESCUE SOUTH DISTRICT: They shouldn't be worried if they're by the lifeguards. The lifeguards are protecting the beaches and they'll let them know when the sharks are eyeing the swimming area. It might be dangerous if you're swimming some place that doesn't have a lifeguard, with nobody to tell you when the sharks are coming.
SHARI TELLMAN, MARINE BIOLOGIST, FLORIDA ATLANTIC UNIVERSITY: Just give them their space especially if they're feeding. It's probably a good idea to just give them their space.
HOWELL (voice-over): Marine biologist Shari Tellman says while the beach closures are understandable precaution, she insist we're not talking about jaws here. Tellman says these smaller 4 to 5-foot sharks are more interested in chasing fish along the Gulf Stream than tangling with humans.
TELLMAN: You know, we're going into their territory. Have a healthy respect for that, but they aren't out to get us. Sharks should be protected by us, more so than we need to be protected by them.
HOWELL: The beach closures out here will be sporadic. Lifeguards say they will continue to make sure that people are out of the water for at least 30 minutes after seeing the last shark pass through, and it may continue that way for at least the next week, as three sharks continue to migrate north -- Erin.
BURNETT: What an unbelievable story.
Well, still to come, a 24-year-old intern, she was killed by a lion at an animal sanctuary. Her father tells us she was not mauled. He's just gotten that news and that's next.
And Facebook has a new look and we have a preview of it for you next.
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. Tonight, we start with Osama Bin Laden's son-in-law. He has been captured and brought to the United States from Jordan.
Administration officials tonight defend their decision not to send Sulaiman Abu Ghaith to Guantanamo for interrogation. Instead, he's being held in New York, where he will appear in court tomorrow. Ghaith has been described as al Qaeda's official spokesman and is being charged with conspiracy to kill Americans.
Seth Jones, an expert on al Qaeda, tells us Ghaith has been hiding in Iran for the last decade and his interrogation will help authorities learn more about al Qaeda's network in Iran.
Now an update on the conflict in Mali, France tonight says it is conducting DNA tests to identify the bodies of several Islamist fighters killed in Northern Mali. Now this is according to an interview the French foreign minister gave to a radio station.
He said the tests could confirm that Mokhtar Belmokhtar whom we told you about on Monday was among the dead. But warns the process could be difficult because the bodies are severely damaged. Results are expected in the coming days.
Well, today CEO Mark Zuckerberg gave Facebook a facelift. He hawked the site's new news feed design as a quote/unquote "personalized newspaper." Really though it's less of a newspaper and more of a glossy magazine filled with "they're just like us" stories and I guess that's the point.
Facebook depends heavily on promoted post in its newsfeed for revenue, that's how it gets its ad money. Until now, Mark Skonower of laptopmag.com tells us the ads have been more of a nuisance, but he says the new look will help Facebook make money.
Well, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, safe to say the world's most famous couple, or maybe that's Kate and William, I don't know. I think it's Brad and Angelina. Anyway, they now have what could be the most famous line in the world. Their first 6,000 bottles of Rose sold out within hours today online.
We called the gurus over at "Wine Spectator", they're the masters of this and they say celebrity wines can be big hits, but can create real skepticism in the wider wine world. The experts, though, seem optimistic. We're told the French vineyard that Brangelina own has a great track record and it helps that Pitt seems truly passionate about wine.
Well, it has been 581 days since the U.S. lost its top credit rating. What are we doing to get it back?
Well, there's some positive news for American families. According to a Federal Reserve report, the net worth of families in this country rose by $1.2 trillion at the end of last year. That is the highest level since late 2007. And obviously that fits with what we've seen with the stock market as well.
And now our fourth story OUTFRONT: deadly lion attack.
Tonight, investigators are trying to determine what triggered a lion to turn on Dianna Hanson. The 24-year-old intern was inside the lion's enclosure. She was by herself yesterday when the 4-year-old male African lion killed her.
In a moment, we're going to be speaking with Dianna's father. But, first, I want to get to Ted Rowlands with some new developments. And I knew Ted you have some information from the autopsy tonight.
TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, the autopsy was just released, Erin, and according to the coroner, she died of a broken neck. They say that she did suffer a number of other injuries, but most of those injuries were post-mortem and that her fatal injury was a broken neck. The autopsy even went on to say that the attack was very quick and that she did not suffer.
So that is the cause of death and comforting news, I'm sure, to her family, that according to the coroner, she likely didn't suffer in this attack for very long.
BURNETT: Yes, very comforting news for them, I am sure. Now, I know you had access to the cat sanctuary today, Ted. What did you see?
ROWLANDS: Well, a couple things strike you going up there, is that, first of all, it's an expansive area and there's a lot of room in between each one of the areas where the cats are held. Specifically, where Cous Cous, this lion that was responsible for the fatal attack, had an enclosure that he shared with a female lion. They've shared it for the last 3 1/2 years.
That female was there during the attack, was there today. She is making a very short barking noise that according to the handlers up here was because of the stress that she has felt. What we don't know, whether the attack took place in the larger enclosure or in a very small pen.
And what we still don't know is what that 24-year-old girl was doing inside the enclosure.
REPORTER: How are you doing? How's everybody doing?
DALE ANDERSON, FOUNDER, CAT HAVEN SANCTUARY OWNER: What do you think we're doing? It's awful?
ROWLANDS (voice-over): Sanctuary owner Dale Anderson kept the gates at Cat Haven locked Thursday, a day after his 24-year-old intern was mauled to death by a lion. ANDERSON: Our whole staff is -- it's just -- it's devastating. And --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm so sorry.
ROWLANDS: Diana Hanson had been working here for six months.
Her smile in these photographs seems to show what her father said was an absolute love for the job.
PAUL HANSON, DAUGHTER DIANNA KILLED BY LION (via telephone): She just loved -- this was her dream come true, working with big cats all day long. Nothing but big cats.
ROWLANDS: One of those cats was Cous Cous, a 350-pound, 5 1/2- year-old African lion who lived at Cat Haven since he was a few months old.
This is iPhone video of Cous Cous taken by a CNN iReporter in December.
Investigators say Dianna was with another intern but was the only one in the enclosure with Cous Cous when he attacked.
HANSON: Apparently, the other intern was outside of the cage and was not in the cage. She was in the cage and I don't know why in the world she'd ever be inside of the lion's cage. I can't think of why she would do that.
ROWLANDS: Those that knew Cous Cous say he had no history of aggression.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He eats about five pounds of food a day.
ROWLANDS: He'd been featured in different television shows.
JEFF CORWIN, ANIMAL EXPERT: This is (INAUDIBLE) lion.
ROWLANDS: This is Cous Cous when he was a cub being held by Jeff Corwin on the Ellen DeGeneres show.
CORWIN: We can't forget how powerful these animals are and it does strike me as potentially dangerous for someone to be alone with a cat like this. And you can see a tragic outcome when one potentially loses sight on the absolute predatory ability of this incredible cat.
BURNETT: And joining me now is Dianna Hanson's father, Paul Hanson.
And, Paul, thank you, sir, for taking the time. I'm so sorry for what has happened and I can't even imagine the shock that you feel. It's only been a day since you got the news about your daughter.
Do you believe that it's happened yet? HANSON: It's starting to sink in. Yesterday, I was just in a daze all day. It was just so surreal, that something like this happened. But, you know, I've always had a premonition that some day I would get a call like this, but I just thought it would be much further in the future than at 24.
BURNETT: And you know, when you said you always had a premonition, I was just looking through some of the -- your daughter on her Facebook page, she joked she had more lions and tigers on there than she did have friends and talked about this being her calling and that her calling drooled on her pants and that's how much she loved these big cats.
What drove that passion? Was that something you knew from when she was a really little girl?
HANSON: Yes. At 6 or 7, she used to start -- she somehow got in her mind that she wanted to grow up and study Siberian snow tigers in Siberia. And she would tell that to everybody, and we thought it was just a passing fancy.
But she never played with dolls or anything like other little girls. She was really a tomboy and she stuck with that, that idea of tigers, tigers. All her artwork and pictures in her room were about tigers.
And when she went to elementary school, in the local elementary school, my -- her mother and I would go to parent/teacher conferences and she would -- the parent -- the teachers would say, you know, your daughter has a lot of artistic talent, but the problem is, she only does the same subject, over and over again. Tigers.
And she just kept that obsession with tigers and then later, big cats, all the way through high school, through college. What really confirmed that it wasn't going to change was when she was in college at the Western Washington University in Bellingham, she was up on a ski lift one day at Mt. Baker, where she was a ski instructor on weekends for a part-time job, and a little boy was sitting in the chair lift with her, and that little boy, she was trying to make conversation with him, asking him what his favorite animal was, and he said, tigers, like my grandparents have.
Well, his grandparents lived right there in Bellingham, and she thought, how could they have tigers and lions, and she found out they had exotic pets on their property on the outskirts of town. So she went out there and spent the next three years helping to take care of them and maintaining them and watching them when the people were gone. So that's where she really got her training with lions and tigers and she just loved it.
That was -- she was so happy. We'd go up there, but we'd all cringe when we'd watch her go into the cages with those big tigers and lions. But she was fearless, never the slightest bit afraid, and was very well trained on how to handle tigers and lions.
BURNETT: Were you ever afraid during all those years, and say, look, I don't want you to do this. I'm your father and I love you and I don't feel -- I don't want you to do it?
HANSON: No, I never told her I didn't want her to do it. I always supported her on that. I felt like a father whose son wants to join the Marines or daughter wants to be a pilot or something or a race car driver. You just know they want to do it and you know it's risky, you just urge them to be careful.
I used to tell her, please, just don't get in the cages, and she would just say, hey, it's OK. They're not dangerous. I know how to handle it.
But, she was so happy. That was her passion. And it never changed and her happiest time in her life, her mother and I agreed today, was these last two months, as shown by her Facebook pictures, that would show her playing with one of the big cats there at Cat Haven.
She was so happy. This was her dream job. She was finally living her dream of a lifetime with this six-month internship at Cat Haven.
BURNETT: And I know when you talk about being worried about her going in the cages. Obviously, they say usually you're supposed to have two to three people in cage. She was in the cage alone.
Have you learned why she was in that cage by herself?
HANSON: No, it's still a mystery. When I was down there with her on January 3rd, we drove down from Seattle together on January 1st and 2nd of this year and she gave me a tour of the place, and she gave me -- we went by the cage of the lion Cous Cous that killed her, and the tiger there and the other animals.
And she said, you know, those are the only two cages I can't go in and work with them directly. They don't let anybody in their cage except the owner.
And she was a little disappointed with that, because she had hoped to get in and work with the tiger and the lion like she had in her Bellingham job. But she was, you know, accepting of that, and she was able to play with cheetahs and the lynxes and the other animals.
I don't understand -- I couldn't understand yesterday how she was in that cage with that lion. The only thing that I could guess is that, you know, they would clean the cages of all the animals, every day, of manure, the lions and the tigers, they would be put off in a side enclosure when they did that. The only thing I can think of is, it got out of the side enclosure or somehow got loose or something or didn't go all the way into the side enclosure when she went in, because I can't imagine her going in there when the lion was in there, when she -- when the rules were that you can't do that.
BURNETT: And you seem so -- you seem so calm. And I know that you're in shock, and -- but do you feel any anger or frustration at Cat Haven, I mean, that they could have let this happen? That this possibly could have been their fault? HANSON: Oh, not at all. Not in the least. And Dianna would back me up on that 100 percent. She would be defending them and she would be defending that lion, Cous Cous. She would have been very distraught that they were shot -- the lion was shot and killed.
She -- it was a very safe, well-run place. She liked the way it was set up, because of the way the cages were set up. They really replicated the animal's natural habitat as much as possible. The cages were much bigger than any zoo facility would ever have.
She was just really impressed with the way it was laid out and organized. And she really liked the owner and the people that worked there. And there was never any question of safety in her mind or any mismanagement in any way.
BURNETT: When was the last time you had a chance to speak with Dianna?
HANSON: About a week ago. She and I would talk about once a week and text a couple times during the week and we speak usually on the weekends. And she would tell me about her plans in the future, how she was going to hopefully at the end of this internship in July, this would really look good on her resume and she'd have a real chance of getting a job at a zoo, which has been her goal all along, but you had to have the necessary training and certification and she would have gotten that at the completion of this six-month internship there.
So she was talking about how much she liked California and would have liked to have got a job at a zoo right there in California, and -- but she would go anywhere in the country, and we talked about different places in the country and how she was going to start getting her applications in later on this spring.
My brother and I, my brother from Austin, her uncle, we were going to visit her in the early -- about the second week of April, we were going down there for a four or five-week visit and we were going to take her to Merced, where my brother and I, my uncle and I -- her uncle, my brother and I, grew up, and go to San Francisco and Monterrey and Carmel. We were going to do a little trip for four days and we were talking about that and she was excited at doing that. So we had planned that since January.
And I just wish we could have done that before this happened.
BURNETT: I can't imagine the pain of losing a child, and I know that people say, well, if you die doing what you love, then that's OK. But it doesn't feel like it's OK, you know, you've lost a 24-year-old girl, you know, you're not going to get to see her in all those, those times in life, the wedding, the child, all those things that I know that you and your wife would have been looking forward to. Is it enough that she died doing what she loved?
HANSON: You know, it is. And that's the only way I can bear this because, this was her dream. She was living her dream. She was the happiest she ever was. And that makes it possible to bear this. Dianna -- and by the way, I noticed the media has been reporting that she was mauled to death by a lion. I just got word from the coroner down there doing the autopsy today and the co-workers and the owner, I talked to them today, she said, there was no mauling. Her body was not disfigured at all. Most likely, the cause of death was suffocation, with the lion playing too hard, sitting on top of her, and that there was no blood present and there was no evidence of tearing or rips. If any injuries occurred, probably right after suffocation.
This is new news that they're just reporting now. And it was kind of a surprise to them, but there was no mauling, no rips or gashes or anything like that. The lady, the coroner told me down there that she was really surprised. She thought she would get an awful case, and instead, she was surprised how well -- the body looked great when it came in.
BURNETT: And what will you do to commemorate her? Will you be able to go to zoos and see the cats or never?
HANSON: Yes, strangely enough, I will always think of her now, and I'm far more likely now to support anything that does support big cats in her memory. She would want us to do that. She would want us to encourage people to continue supporting the big cats in their preservation of habitat and the wild and keeping them from extinction.
She would want people not to be afraid of the lions and tigers and to not back away from supporting them. Because of that, because I know she would feel that way, I have no problems ever seeing lions and tigers again. It just makes me think of her fondly every time I'll see them for the rest of my life.
BURNETT: Well, she sounds like a really stupendous and amazing young woman. She truly does.
Thank you for telling us a little bit about her.
HANSON: You're welcome. I'm glad to tell her story.
And still to come, President Obama's plans to lock down the White House. Will canceling tours really save money for this country?
BURNETT: Our fifth story OUTFRONT -- it could be the most expensive tour you'll never take. Republicans crying foul after tours of the White House were canceled this week because of the forced spending cuts.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Capitol workers and tours are going to remain available for all Americans. I think it's disappointing that the Obama administration didn't follow our lead and find savings in other parts of their budget. I think it's silly that they've insisted on locking down the White House, which the American people actually own.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: The Secret Service says it can save $74,000 a week in staffing costs by closing the doors to the people's house.
Jim Acosta is at the White House, the lonely White House, where there are no children getting the tours that they should have.
All right, but here's the thing, Jim -- $74,000 sounds like a lot of money for a house tour. Why so costly?
JIM ACOSTA, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, we asked the White House for some answers, Erin, and they pointed us to the U.S. Secret Service, they're the once that have to make the cuts as part of this so-called sequester.
So, let's look at the numbers here, $74,000 a week. Where does that come from -- well, 37 uniformed Secret Service officers work the tour. They make roughly $50 an hour, over a 40-hour workweek. But if you add that up over the course of this fiscal year, remember, these cuts apply to the fiscal year, not the entire calendar year, which the fiscal year runs through September 30th. That adds up to a savings of $2 million.
But take a look at this. That $2 million in savings is just a dent in the overall $84 million in cuts that the U.S. Secret Service has to come up with by the end of this fiscal year. And that's part of an overall budget of $1.67 billion.
And, Erin, you know, that's a lot of money there. But when you take into consideration that they have more cuts to make, we asked the U.S. Secret Service about that. They said they're cutting back on travel, equipment purchases, even employee furloughs, but they caution protection of the president will not suffer from these cuts. That will stay staffed as it normally would be.
And as for other events at the White House, you mentioned the children earlier. There still will be the Easter egg roll. That's going on as scheduled.
BURNETT: So they've got the Easter egg roll, but everybody can't get the tours. I guess it's tough when you have to pick what to cut.
Do you have the impression that they really didn't have a choice?
ACOSTA: You know, I -- what the Secret Service is saying is that, no, they don't have a choice. And this is something that we've heard all along, throughout this entire debate over these forced budget cuts, Erin. And that is from the White House. They say these cuts are implemented in such a way that you can't really pick and choose, that you can't rob Peter to pay Paul.
That's what's so fascinating about this round of automatic budget cuts. They're really unlike cuts we have seen in some time here in Washington because they slay all of the sacred cows. Nobody gets to hang on to their secret projects. Everybody gets a haircut.
BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much. Appreciate it, Jim.
And now, let's bring in the former head speechwriter for President Obama, Jon Favreau, and Reihan Salam, CNN contributor and writer for "The National Review".
Jon, I guess, you know, now that you're not working there, you don't have to be lonely when the tours aren't coming through, but you know, when John Boehner said it is the people's house, he has a point. We have a video of some sixth graders from Iowa who were supposed to go to the White House next week and their tour has been suspended.
Here's the kids.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KIDS: The White House is our house. Please let us visit.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: That's pretty hard to take, Jon. According to "The National Review," where Reihan works, the president's annual vacation costs millions of dollars. Was there absolutely anything else that could have been cut on these tours?
JON FAVREAU, FORMER DIRECTOR OF SPEECHWRITING FOR PRESIDENT OBAMA: Look, I feel for the children. I love the tours. I have led them myself.
And the president and first lady often greet those tours personally. But this is the problem with the sequester. It makes dumb choices and dumb cuts. And the Secret Service is forced by the sequester to make budgets cuts, as you heard Jim say.
And, you know, they wouldn't have wanted to do this, but this is a better choice than having to take protection off the president of the United States or in any way disrupt protection for the American people at large events like the Super Bowl or anything else that they protect people at.
BURNETT: So, Reihan, did they make the right choice? I understand Jon's point that maybe they didn't have a choice. But if they did have a choice, maybe this helps the president make the point that these cuts are dumb and we need to do something about it.
Is it a smart move or is it a blunder, just stop the tours?
REIHAN SALAM, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, there was a larger blunder in my view which is that you had two Republican senators, Pat Toomey and James Inhofe, who offered a compromise proposal which basically said, look, we know that this is a meat ax and that sequestration is going to cause a lot of stupid decisions to be made, so let's give the White House the discretion to make these cuts in a more coherent, sensible way. Yet, the president did not embrace the Toomey-Inhofe proposal, nor did Senate Democrats. And I think that was a big, big problem, because the truth is had the White House had this discretion, then they would have been able to make decisions to prioritize across these different programs. And I think that would have led to a better experience for everybody and it might have led the Secret Service to save this program that is very precious not only to a lot of American children but to tourists and many others, that makes the White House the more inclusive place.
But, I think, again, that's only one part of what Toomey-Inhofe might have saved had the president embraced it.
BURNETT: Jon, let me ask you about the issue of what's been happening in the past few days. I mean, the president has changed at least visibly, you know, publicly changed how he's handling things. He had that big dinner last night, where he took out some of the Republican leaders to a really nice dinner. I mean, that dinner was a really nice dinner, and he took them out. And now, he's going to have lunch, he just had lunch with Paul Ryan.
I mean, this is a charm offensive. Is this going to help him get what he wants or is this going to frustrate him because he does this for them and then they come back with nothing?
FAVREAU: I mean, I think it's going to help him get what the American people want, which is a balanced approach to the deficit.
You know, the president has been meeting with people and Republicans and Democrats since the say he walked into the White House years ago. But, you know, as he said on Friday, there's a caucus of common sense in the Republican Party that knows we need balance and doesn't think compromise is a dirty word. And he's going to seek out those Republican senators and congressman wherever he can. That's what the dinner was all about last night.
BURNETT: Reihan, you agree that people want a balanced approach?
SALAM: What people really need is for the constitutional and traditional approach, which we have legislation passed through Congress. We need that regular order to come back. In that regular order, what happens is that you have one house of Congress pass a legislative proposal, the other house of Congress do the same. And when there are differences between those two proposals, you go to a conference committee.
Instead, we have had this weird, extra normal series of exemptions in which we have one crisis after another rather than going through the regular order in which those committees do their work and which Democratic senators and Republicans of the House come together and reconcile their differences. It's really about those legislators in the Senate and the House, they need to be taking the lead. It's really not about the president. The president ought to be defending the country, executing our laws, but I think that Congress needs to do its job.
BURNETT: Well, we got a shutdown and we got a debt ceiling coming, and Congress doing its job, I guess, please don't hold your breath, everybody, because you may die and need a doctor.
We'll be right back.
BURNETT: Tomorrow on OUTFRONT, Americans spend nearly twice as much money on health care as any other country on this planet, but we still lag behind almost all of them on how long we live. Industrialized nations trounce us. Why our health care system could be doing more harm than good, even with all of the changes we put in place.
Dr. Andrew Weil is a giant in holistic medicine, you know him and he's going to be OUTFRONT tomorrow. Don't miss it. It's tomorrow night at 7:00 Eastern.
"ANDERSON COOPER 360" starts right now.