Return to Transcripts main page


Suspect Detained In Benghazi Attack; Pope Francis Breaking The Rules; Risking It All To Be A Female Priest; U.S. Horse Slaughterhouse Under Fire

Aired March 14, 2013 - 19:00   ET


ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: OUTFRONT next, six months after the attack in Benghazi, a suspect finally being held. We believe we know his name and where he is from.

Plus, President Obama appears on Israeli television. Did he move the red line on Iran's nuclear program?

And there's another smelly problem on a Carnival cruiseline. Let's go OUTFRONT.

Good evening, everyone. I'm Erin Burnett. OUTFRONT tonight, justice at last. A man suspected of involvement with the September 11th terrorist attack on American diplomatic compound in Benghazi is being held tonight in Libya.

Let me go through the basics of what we know about him for you. His name is Faraj Al-Shibli. He is a national of Libya. He, right now, is the only known suspect in custody in connection with the attack in Benghazi, three Americans died.

It's been six months since Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans were killed after militants linked to al Qaeda stormed the consulate in Libya. President Obama has vowed to bring the killers to justice, but so far no one has been charged.

OUTFRONT tonight, Susan Candiotti who broke the story. We want to begin with her. Susan, what more do we know about Al-Shibli?

SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Erin, we've been trying to gather as much information as we can. Two sources are telling me and CNN terror analyst Paul Cruickshank that, in fact, Faraj Al-Shibli, 46 years old, is in custody, in Libya.

We do not know the exact location. And that one of our sources is telling us that he was just back from a trip to Pakistan and had been in Libya for a couple days when he was picked up. He comes from a town that's located about 50 miles away from Benghazi -- Erin.

BURNETT: And Susan, what do you -- what do you know in terms of what they think his role may have been in the attack on the consulate?

CANDIOTTI: Well, that's very good question. We have been digging into that, but the answer is it's unclear at this time. We do know that authorities have been looking at, at least a dozen people. We know that he is one of them.

And that investigation is still very hot as they try to learn who exactly was behind the terrible attack on that compound on September 11th that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three others.

BURNETT: Now what is the likelihood that he'll be charged? Obviously, you know, there has been someone else taken into custody and then released. So do you have any sense of that?

CANDIOTTI: We don't. We do know that this is an ongoing investigation. We've been trying to find out more information. We also know that he is someone that the Justice Department at this time and the FBI won't comment on. We went to them for some answers, but for now, they're not saying anything.

BURNETT: They're trying to figure out more of these details. All right, well, thanks to Susan. Susan, of course, broke that story for us.

We want to bring in Representative Jason Chaffetz now, a member of the House Oversight Committee. He has been one of the most vocal critics of the administration's handling of the Benghazi attack. He's OUTFRONT tonight.

Good to see you, Representative. I appreciate you taking the time. Today's news, when you hear about this man, Al-Shibli, being taken into custody, even though there are so many questions still about what role he might play, whether he'll actually be charged, is this news a big step forward?

REPRESENTATIVE JASON CHAFFETZ (R), COMMITTEE ON OVERSIGHT AND GOVERNMENT REFORM: It is a step forward. Look, we want to bring the perpetrators to justice. We want to make sure this never happens again. It was a very severe terrorist attack and to know that those people are out there still potentially plotting another terrorist attack is a bit scary.

So we think there are, you know, more than a dozen people that were involved in this with the idea that potentially we have somebody and I credit CNN for bringing this to our attention. The first I heard of it was through CNN. It is obviously positive news.

BURNETT: You say more than a dozen people that you think may have been involved. You know, obviously up to this point, there is only one person apprehended and questioned. He was released in January despite U.S. objections. He was being held in Tunisia.

When he got released, you know, we covered it on this program because he received what appeared to be a hero's welcome, reportedly from the militant group which is -- who the U.S. intelligence said they believe were behind this attack in Benghazi in the first place. Why has no one else been brought in for questioning?

CHAFFETZ: I don't know. I mean, one of the most troubling things about what happened in Benghazi in addition to the attack itself is it took weeks for the FBI just to get to the scene. In fact, I think it was CNN that actually was able to go in and find documents before the FBI even got on the ground there.

BURNETT: That's right.

CHAFFETZ: So it got off to a terribly slow start. It has been more than six months. These men and women are out there doing the intelligence work, working for the FBI. We do nothing but pat them on the back. They have a very difficult job.

It's good to know that we're in pursuit. I hope that we're given unfettered and immediate access to that person there in Libya. I think one of the big questions will be with the Pakistanis potentially.

I think it will be -- I'm curious to know if they were cooperative if this person came out of Pakistan and what role they may have played or not played in this. We'll see it as it plays out.

BURNETT: Now, I know the role of the group, Ansar al-Sharia, is possibly in question. I want to ask you about that, but first this. That group, Ansar al-Sharia, is now actually working for the Libyan government, contracted by Libyan government to provide security in Benghazi.

That may amaze a lot of people watching but it's true. Do you trust the Libyan government, which is obviously crucial in this, to bring those who killed American citizens to justice given that they are currently now working with the group that the U.S. said was responsible for killing those Americans?

CHAFFETZ: Well, it was really Eastern Libya that started this. And one of the frustrations in an e-mail that Ambassador Stevens sent back to the State Department, he indicated that they were working with these militant groups including Ansar Al-Sharia.

But Ansar Al-Sharia also foreshadowed the attack on Benghazi, in my opinion, in an e-mail that Ambassador Stevens sent to the State Department because on page two of that memo, he talked about the fact that we at the State Department supported the prime minister candidate in Libya that the people in Benghazi didn't like.

I know that's kind of convoluted and confusing, but those militant groups warned us that they weren't going to protect our consulate. They weren't going to provide us protection unless we got rid of our support for Mr. Jabril.

And then the attack happened literally about 12 hours after that warning Ambassador Stevens had given to the State Department back in Washington, D.C. So Ansar al-Sharia two hours into the attack put up a social media message and said they were going to attack our embassy in Tripoli.

So it's pretty hard to think that they weren't involved in this and somebody we have to deal with there in Eastern Libya.

BURNETT: All right, so you believe that they are because obviously as Susan was reporting at this point and obviously it's preliminary, but there is no evidence that this man, Al-Shibli, is actually linked to that militant group, Ansar al-Sharia.

The bottom line question is this, though. You say at least a dozen or more than a dozen, your words exactly. Will the people who did this attack ever be brought to justice? Because it is now almost six months to the day after it happened.

If a lot of them were local and they're in a militant group that still there and they haven't been brought to justice by now, why would we ever think they would be?

CHAFFETZ: Well, look, every day that goes by, every hour that goes by, it's less and less likely. Now this is the most positive development that I've seen in the last six months. This potentially has a lot of legs. I'm relying totally upon that what I read there at But I got to believe that this is a step and a move in the right direction.

BURNETT: All right, well, Congressman Chaffetz, good to talk to you and appreciate you taking the time.

Still to come, it was Pope Francis' first day on the job. This is one of the tough ones. Is it Francis'? He is already making changes.

Plus a controversial horse slaughtering plant planned for New Mexico. We've been reporting on this. Critics have been fearing it will lead to horse meat on American dinner tables.

Samsung releasing the S-IV tonight, does Apple have something to fear? What does it mean for the beloved?


BURNETT: Our second story, OUTFRONT, breaking the rules. He's only a little more than 24 hours into his papacy, but already Pope Francis is splitting with tradition. This morning, he did something amazing. He turned away the official Vatican limo when it came to pick him up instead he got in an unmarked sedan to get to the basilica dedicated to the Virgin Mary.

That is a significant thing for a pope. Then he had his driver go back to the residence where he had been staying so he can pick up his own luggage and also pick up the tab. Even though it wasn't necessary, according to the Vatican, the newly elected pontiff wanted to set a good example of what priests and bishops should do.

OUTFRONT tonight in Rome, our Vatican expert and contributor, Raymond Arroyo, and also the news director of Catholic Television Network. Now Raymond, take me through the rest of Pope Francis' first day. I know we were all learning so much about this man.

RAYMOND ARROYO, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: We are, indeed. You know, I spoke to some security officials at the Vatican. They say he has been escaping us all day long. He does his own thing, Erin. I had a friend of mine who is monsignor. He walked into the house where all the cardinals were living and where the pope is now residing while they renovate the papal palace, and he came down the elevator himself. He walked out, no entourage, no secretaries. He greeted the man by name and embraced him.

They talked a little bit. He said it was very easy and so he's kind of setting his own path here. And as pope, he can do that. And let me tell you, in the days ahead, he's going to have to set his own path. It will take that to fix what ails the Vatican at this moment.

BURNETT: And we've heard a lot of amazing things about his generosity, how humble he is, you know, washing the feet of men who had AIDS. But he also faced some challenges as the leader of the Jesuits in Argentina.

Today we're learning about some serious questions about what he knew and what he did or didn't do when military junta in the 1970s murdered up to 30,000 people. People say he turned away from priests at that time. Is this going to be something that could become a bigger problem, Raymond?

ARROYO: Pope Francis, then Cardinal Bergoglio, he wanted to reform his order, the Jesuits. They were leaning toward liberation theology. He didn't like what was happening. He told some of the Jesuits, look, I separate your politics from your prayer.

Pray more, do less politics, they didn't like that. They fought back. Many of them started this canard, this story and floated it that he was involved in the kidnappings. And he was ostracized and sent to the north of Argentina. He was exiled.

It was only John Paul II that brought him back, named him an archbishop and later a cardinal. Here he is. It's interesting during the homily today, he pointed out in the scriptures there was a line about the stone that the builders rejected have become the corner stone.

That really could be the motto for this man's life. He is now the corner stone of this church. You can see it behind me and it is very interesting. He's been through the blades before, Erin.

And I don't think he's afraid of bringing reform to the fore and following through to the end even if it costs him personally. As you said, he's a simple man of faith. We'll see what happens.

BURNETT: All right, Raymond, thank you very much.

Well, as Raymond mentioned, Pope Francis is already making it clear that his tenure is going to be different from his predecessors. But will he budge on the sensitive issue of allowing women a bigger role in the church?

David Mattingly talked to one woman who is risking everything to become a priest knowing that her Catholic Church will disown her when she is ordained. David is OUTFRONT on the story.


DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): His first step into public view was greeted by cheers from the faithful. But at that moment, Pope Francis also moved one step closer to a confrontation with this woman.

(on camera): Did this calling come from God?


MATTINGLY: How did God speak to you? Do you remember?

HAIDER: I think it was peacefulness and it's not an urgency. It's just a peaceful knowing this is what I'm supposed to do.

MATTINGLY (voice-over): Christine Haider is part of a small, but rebellious movement risking ex-communication. She is out to break Roman Catholic Church tradition by becoming an ordained priest.

(on camera): The church would not see you as a Catholic priest.

HAIDER: I don't believe that clerics are qualified to make that decision on their own. I believe that that is God's decision.

MATTINGLY (voice-over): The Roman Catholic Women Priest Organization says there are nearly 100 women around the world shunned by the hierarchy because they have become priests through ceremonies not sanctioned by the Vatican.

The emergence of Pope Francis does signal and era of change in the Catholic Church, the first pope from the Jesuit order, the first modern day pope not from Europe. But he is also known as a conservative voice, embracing the church's traditional values.

(on camera): Is this a moment of encouragement for you?

HAIDER: Yes, I feel it's too soon to say. I do definitely agree that there are a lot of firsts in this appointment and I think that that means that it might be a good time for more firsts.

MATTINGLY (voice-over): Christine Haider is expecting a lot from the new pope. Not just a woman, she is also married. For now, she is studying for the priesthood but at a Protestant seminary. She is a few years away from becoming ordained. Scholars say such fundamental change seems unlikely when three out of four women priests are in the United States.

REVEREND TOM RAUSCH, PROFESSOR OF CATHOLIC THEOLOGY, LOYOLA MARYMOUNT UNIVERSITY: I don't think the ordination of women is on the top of the list of the priorities that the cardinals are facing right now at the Vatican. It's a very important issue in the United States, but Catholics in the United States constitute 6 percent of global Catholicism.

MATTINGLY (on camera): The church for its part has been very clear on where it stands on this issue. As recently as 2010, the Vatican declared that women becoming priests is a grave crime against church law. Defiance like this doesn't come without a price.

(voice-over): Ex-communication means Haider would not be allowed to take communion in the Catholic Church, denied the ritual central to the Christian faith.

HAIDER: And being denied communion at a Catholic Church would break my heart.

MATTINGLY: But it's a risk she is willing to take, a broken heart for the chance of breaking through. David Mattingly, CNN, Berkeley, California.


BURNETT: Still to come, a horse meat scandal shocked the world. So why are there plans to produce and maybe even sell horse meat in the U.S.? We have a new development in the report we brought from you the horse meat plant tonight.

Plus, scientists believe they have discovered the God particle, ironic timing, isn't it?

Later in the show, how did this beautiful woman become the first woman in the NASCAR pits? We're going to bring you the story of Christmas Abbott.


BURNETT: Our third story, OUTFRONT, America's new horse slaughter house is under fire and it's not even formally open for business yet. Earlier this week, we gave you an exclusive look at this facility in New Mexico.

We showed you exactly how the horses would be killed. We took you inside. It's going to be the first horse slaughter house to open in this country since 2006 and it may only be a matter of time before horse meat does show up in America supermarkets and on restaurant menus.

But tonight we have new details about this facility and about its record when it comes to health safety and animal treatment. Casey Wian is once again OUTFRONT.


CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In just a few weeks, this former New Mexico cattle slaughter house will be ready to slaughter horses.

RICARDO DE LOS SANTOS, PARTNER, VALLEY MEAT: It's going to be a slow process to start with. Just so we can do it right and do it humanely.

WIAN: Opponents say it will be anything but right and humane because for one thing, horses unlike cattle are too volatile to allow an accurate stun shot from this captive bolt gun leading to unnecessary suffering.

And they question Valley Meat's record of handling animal carcasses when it was a beef slaughter house. A 2010 USDA letter to New Mexico officials said Mr. De Los Santos drags dead cattle and piles them on a concrete pad where he leaves them to rot.

Valley Meat's attorney says the complaints involved a properly placed compost pile that had been at the facility for years but was improperly registered. The company paid a $5,000 fine to settle the case, which it calls politically motivated.

Outrage over the treatment of horses in slaughter houses led Congress to ban the practice in 2006. Since then, more than half a million American horses have been shipped to Canadian and Mexican slaughter houses where conditions can be even worse.

The ban lapsed in 2011 clearing the way for USDA inspections and the resumption of horse slaughter.

DE LOS SANTOS: They are livestock. And like any other livestock, there is a market for them.

WIAN: American horse meat is now sold for human consumption overseas.

A. BLAIR DUNN, ATTORNEY FOR VALLEY MEAT: Historically, horses have been a meat product consumed by humans. Certainly, we've had a good fortune in this country to be pickier about the protein source we choose and therefore it's not one commonly used here.

WIAN: But once slaughter resumes here, potentially the meat could be sold to U.S. consumers.

NANCY PERRY, VP GOVT. RELATIONS, ASPCA: We don't raise horses for food and so as a result of that, there really no industry, no demand for horse meat here in the United States. Those who are promoting the idea of horse slaughter are attempting to gin up that demand.

WIAN: The industry says horse meat generally is considered safe to eat, but De Los Santos says he has no plans to sell it to U.S. consumers.

DE LOS SANTOS: Activist groups think it's not livestock and so I think it would be harder to get it sold here.

WIAN: This week the USDA told Congress that it must allow horse slaughter once slaughter houses pass inspection.

DR. ELIZABETH HAGEN, USDA UNDERSECRETARY FOR FOOD SAFETY: We have an obligation to uphold the law. So we're moving forward with trying to develop program that would protect public health to the greatest extent possible.

WIAN: Lawmakers introduced a bill Wednesday to ban both slaughter in the United States and the export of horses for slaughter.

REPRESENTATIVE PATRICK MEEHAN (R), PENNSYLVANIA: Until a ban is in place, every single horse is just one bad sale away from slaughter.

WIAN: And, perhaps, from your local butcher shop. Casey Wian, CNN, Roswell, New Mexico.


BURNETT: Still to come, Samsung releasing the latest phone. How does it stack up to the iPhone and, of course, this guy.

And Iran scrambles a fighter jet to intercept an American drone. What did the U.S. do in response?


BURNETT: Welcome back to the second half of OUTFRONT. We start with stories we care about our focus on reporting from the front lines.

So I want to begin with the TSA. Chief John Pistole was on Capitol Hill today defending his new policy to allow knives on planes. Pistole says one reason for the change is time. He say it takes TSA agents 2 to 3 minutes to identify and confiscate each of the 2,000 pocket knives that the agency finds each day. Another reason --


JOHN PISTOLE, TSA DIRECTOR: The small pocket knife is simply not going to result in a catastrophic failure of an aircraft and an improvised explosive device will.


BURNETT: And Mary Schiavo, a former Transportation Department inspector general, says that logic doesn't add up. She says the agents will spend just as much time or more measuring knives to see if they're too long.

Well, a new survey out by the Pew Research tonight shows there is a disconnect between what working moms want and have to do to make ends meet, and what people think is best for their kids. Thirty-two percent of mothers say they would like full time work. That's up from 20 percent in 2007. Obviously, there was a financial crisis in between.

At the same time, the majority of adults say that what's best for a young child is to have a mother who works part time. The dads were also surveyed and author Kim Parker tells us they're also struggling. She says they have taken on more at home and it's not easy for them to manage it either.

Well, you know, they probably still don't know as much as women.

All right. Imagine being able to scroll with your eyes. So if you're on your phone, you're able to go like that and it literally moves up and down. That's amazing. As we speak, Samsung is unveiling the Galaxy 4 smartphone which may be able to do just that. It's expected to compete head-to-head with the iPhone. The galaxy S-3 outsold the iPhone for part of last year.

And Mark of tells us the S4 is going to apply more pressure on Apple, making the iPhone a true smart phone underdog. Now, the S4 reportedly comes with a 13 mega pixel camera, which is way more than the iPhone, and with that amazing scroll with your eyes function. That's kind of scary. Once you can scroll with your eyes, they're not that far away from reading your mind.

Anyway, there's also the BlackBerry Z10 which AT&T and Verizon started taking preorders today. They got a million apparently. I recently gave the Z10 a test drive.

And, well, you know what? I'm going with the old BlackBerry. I'm waiting for the Q something going out in April with a keyboard. Let us know what you think what you want.

Well, it's been 588 days since the U.S. lost its top credit rating. What are we doing to get it back? Well, not enough.

This is actually amazing. I've got to tell you about it. In so- called stress test results released today, the Federal Reserve said that Ally Financial, I'm sure you've seen their ads on television, failed to meet standards that would allow it to survive another financial crisis. You, the American taxpayer, are already the only reason Ally exists. Taxpayers bailed it out to the tune of $17 billion and still have a majority stake in the company which is the former finance arm of the massively bailed out General Motors.

Well, now, our fourth story OUTFRONT: Iran confronts the U.S. and Iranian fighter jet targeted an unarmed American predator drone over the Persian Gulf this week.

And, you know, when you hear the story, you go, I heard this before, the answer is, yes. It's just the latest attempt by Iran to stop American intelligence gathering efforts.

CNN's Barbara Starr broke the story.

And, Barbara, how worrisome is this incident?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's quite worrisome, Erin, to the Pentagon, to the CIA and the White House.

When this incident happened earlier this week, we learned something very interesting. Now, armed fighter jets are escorting drones on these spy missions. In this incident, a fighter jet warned the Iranians to stay away. Cockpit to cockpit communications but it just underscores the real hair trigger for the possibility of hostilities in the Persian Gulf.

BURNETT: You can only imagination if that communication had led to the downing of one of the jets. It's a terrifying situation to imagine. But, you know, Barbara, we've had several of these kinds of incidents, you know? That they said they have that sentinel drone still from about a year and a half ago that Iran could have copied with all the technology.

What happens here?

STARR: Right. So we've had all of these. Where does this all go from here?

Well, the U.S. is being very clear. It says it's told Iran that it will continue what it calls routine classified surveillance flights. That's what they call it. But it is spying.

That they will take place in international airspace for their part the Iranians are giving no indication they're going to stop with the U.S. ceases meddling.

And this international airspace, of course, Erin, is over the most sensitive oil shipping lanes possibly in the world -- Erin.

BURNETT: The Straits of Hormuz. Thank you so much, Barbara.

Barbara broke that story. Now, the president talked about Iran today. Not though about the drone incident that Barbara was reporting on. Instead, he spoke to Israel's Channel 2 television about what he's going to do to stop Iran from getting a nuclear weapon.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I have been crystal clear about my position on Iran possessing a nuclear weapon. That is a red line for us. If we can resolve it diplomatically, that's a more lasting effect. But if not, I continue to keep all options on the table.


BURNETT: All options on the table. What does that mean?

OUTFRONT tonight, Democratic Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, chair of the Democratic National Committee.

Congresswoman, good to see you.


BURNETT: You know, this red line word that president used is a favorite for this administration when it comes to Iran. Here's a couple other examples.


LEON PANETTA, FORMER SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: Our red line to Iran is do not develop a nuclear weapon.

JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: President's red line has been clear. The president has made clear that he is committed to preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon.


BURNETT: Congresswoman, my fear is the problem is not having a nuclear weapon. It sounds really black and white. But, you know, it isn't, right? Today is the last day can you stop Iran, go check the box, right? There's a lot of gray area and subjectivity.

So, is the president serious about acting or will he use that gray area to run out the clock and avoid this decision happening during his second term?

SCHULTZ: Oh, no. I don't think there is any question over whether the president would just allow the clock to run out. He's been very clear that all options remain on the table. That we are going to give time for diplomatic solution to work for the sanctions which are the toughest international and national sanctions that have really ever been levied against another country. For those to really demonstrate to Iran that they should set aside their ambition but that are patience is not unlimited.

And the time is running out. The clock is running out. The president made that clear. And Iran is going to have to make a decision on what they want to do soon or I think other options will be explored.

BURNETT: How will we know for absolute sure though that Iran is, quote-quote, "this close" to a nuclear weapon? They deny wanting one altogether. You know, you look at what happened in places like Pakistan. It is possible that we don't know until it's too late?


SCHULTZ: Well, no. I don't think it's going to be too late. I think we have a pretty good idea of how close they are. Our intelligence as well as our close cooperation and military intelligence and security cooperation with Israel gives us a pretty clear picture of how close they are and how much room we have for diplomatic solutions.

So I'm confident that we are going to only wait until there is a point in which we should change course.

BURNETT: Interesting when you talk timing. I mean, U.S. and Israel are -- don't appear on the same page that. But, you know, the president has been saying he's going to have to choose, you know, one of those options. What options are on the table?

Israel said, look, it's virtually now as in this spring. That's when it's going to get too late for us to do anything. The president though today in that interview with Israel, too, said something very different.


OBAMA: We think that it would take over a year or so for Iran to actually develop a nuclear weapon. But, obviously, we don't want to cut it too close.


BURNETT: Congresswoman, are you aware? I mean, the president has always talked about a window, as you said. It's not indefinite. There is a window for diplomacy. But he'll act when he needs to.

We can't recall a time when he has come out and given us specific date. Is there new intelligence?

SCHULTZ: Well, one thing is clear is we do not have a policy of containment, Erin. So the president has been very clear that allowing Iran to achieve a nuclear weapon based on the intelligence information that we have and our, like I said, very close cooperation with Israel on that assessment, I mean really, we don't -- we are with Israel every day side by side working together on that kind of intelligence.

BURNETT: But the dates are really different.

SCHULTZ: You know, I think the dates are less different than you are saying. I think the day to day communication makes it so that our cooperation allows us for Israel and the United States to make the consensus decision together. And because we have so much respect for each other and our relative information, we have an opportunity to make those decisions and do it in a way that is not going to allow that clock to run out.

BURNETT: And, you know, one thing I'm curious. One of the reasons people are worried or skeptical here about what might happen is the precedent.

Here's national security adviser Tom Donilon talking about North Korea earlier this week.


THOMAS DONILON, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER TO PRESIDENT OBAMA: The United States will not accept North Korea's nuclear state. Nor will we by while it seeks to develop a nuclear-armed missile that can target the United States.


BURNETT: Obviously, we already do tolerate them. They're a nuclear power.

So, if you're Iran, do you look at North Korea and all its actions and say, hey, look, the United States talks big. They talk about red lines. But, ultimately, as the president said about North Korea, while they can't attack our homeland, that Iran would say, look, you know, there's a lot of breathing room for us, the U.S. won't act?

SCHULTZ: They do that, I think, at their peril. I don't think that would be a very wise move. I think one region cannot be compared to the next. We take our relationships and our strategic needs in the region and the Middle East very seriously.

The president next week when he goes to Israel and Jordan will reaffirm that historic partnership we have with Israel and it will be an opportunity for us to sit down and talk with Prime Minister Netanyahu and Israel's leadership, as well as the region's leadership among other things about how to possibly jump -- hopefully jump-start the process as well as make sure Iran does not achieve their nuclear ambition.

BURNETT: All right. Congresswoman, thank you very much. Very, very important week next week to see whether Prime Minister Netanyahu moves off that time frame he gained at the U.N. where it was late spring or early summer that action had to be taken.

Can he move off that?

Well, one month after passengers were trapped on a Carnival Cruise with no power and no toilets, another smelly snafu. Is Carnival in troubled waters?

And Danica may be the fastest, but tonight the toughest woman in NASCAR is OUTFRONT.


CHRISTMAS ABBOTT, PIT CREW, NASCAR: I love wearing dresses and curling my hair. But that doesn't mean that I don't like to get dirty.



BURNETT: Our fifth story OUTFRONT: Carnival cruise nightmare take two. It's just weeks after the Carnival Triumph fiasco that you all saw that left thousands of passengers stranded without power and without toilets and without showers.

Vacationers now on the Carnival Dream say they have gone through a similar situation. Brian Todd is OUTFRONT at Carnival headquarters in Miami.


BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For the second time in a month, Carnival cruise passengers disembark from a vessel that had serious mechanical problems. Passengers on the Carnival Dream stuck in port in St. Maarten in the Caribbean. The cruise line says an emergency diesel generator malfunctioned while it was in port.

Before being allowed off, passengers were kept onboard for several hours while the crew did maintenance checks. There were periodic power outages and interruptions to elevator and toilet service and accounts from passengers that harken back to the Carnival Triumph disaster last month when sewage flowed throughout that vessel.

Passenger Greg Starks says this time when the crew was doing maintenance checks --

GREG STARK, CARNIVAL DREAM PASSENGER (via telephone): During that time, the toilets and everything started overflowing down in the main general lobby area where people were frequenting the bathroom.

TODD: In an e-mail to CNN, a Carnival spokesman said, "The toilet problems were minimal. Only one public restroom was taken offline for cleaning based on toilet overflow. And there was a total of one request for cleaning up a guest cabin bathroom." He said toilet service was fully restored by just after midnight Thursday morning.

But passenger Kris Anderson said this.

KRIS ANDERSON, CARNIVAL DREAM PASSENGER (via telephone): They were out of service for quite some time, for several hours. Ours started working about 8:00 this morning.

TODD: A carnival official said they'll look into that. Just one day before the Dream's generator malfunctioned, a top Carnival official announced the company was conducting a comprehensive review of its entire fleet, maintenance, prevention of fires, engine issues.

Travel industry analyst Christopher Muller says between the deadly Costa Concordia wreck last year, the Triumph calamity last month and now this incident, Carnival's problems run deep.

PROF. CHRISTOPHER MULLER, BOSTON UNIVERSITY: This is a management problem. They're doing something wrong with preventative maintenance. You know, Carnival has so many working ships that to say that the fleet isn't in distress is maybe a little bit broad. Clearly something is not working right.


BURNETT: It seems that way.

Brian, you're just getting new word I know from Carnival tonight. What are they saying?

TODD: Yes, Erin. In response to those comments from Christopher Muller about maintenance and management problems, the Carnival official told me that the company's maintenance standards meet or exceed all the industry standards. He said the company has spent tens of millions of dollars recently to upgrade its maintenance programs and to learn from its mistakes.

We should also add that Carnival has arranged for the passengers to get charter flights from St. Maarten to Orlando tomorrow morning. And they're also offering partial discounts for future cruises and a partial refund for this one, Erin.

BURNETT: It doesn't surprise me that's what they say. I know a lot of people may be skeptical because what about the financial impact of these disasters on Carnival's business? Biggest cruise line in the world. A lot of people are, you know, at least from what we heard from cruise insiders are worried about going on the cruises.

TODD: They are. The analyst we spoke to Christopher Muller said, he thinks there is going to be a big financial impact, especially to Carnival because of the three incidents over the past year and a half, beginning with that Costa Concordia incident in Italy.

He said what you're going to start seeing is Carnival probably responding by giving deep discounts on cruises just to get customers back on the ships, because he says that could have an impact because some of these routes then may not be very profitable because it costs a lot to run these routes. He said it could result even in some ships being moth balled.

So, he sees a big financial impact to Carnival.

BURNETT: All right. Big questions for the CEO. Thanks to Brian.

And now, I want to go to the "Outer Circle", where we reach out to our sources around the world at this time.

And tonight, we go to Switzerland where nuclear scientists announced a major discovery today, the elusive Higgs boson, also known as the God particle, because it will explain how the universe works, how it was created, how we got here.

Now researchers have claimed they have found the Higgs boson before.

Max Foster is following the story. And I asked him how confident they are they've got it this time.


MAX FOSTER, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Erin, last summer scientists announced they thought they found the God particle. Now they say there is little doubt. For decades, they've been searching for the last missing element for one theory of how the cosmos works. And the Higgs boson could also be the means by which particles get their mass and may have played a crucial role in the formation of the universe.

Now, a statement from the European Organization for Nuclear Research stopped short of claiming a discovery but did say that the data strongly indicates that they have -- Erin.


BURNETT: Thanks.

And now let's check in with Anderson Cooper for what is coming up on "A.C. 360."

Hey, Anderson. Welcome back.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Hey, thanks very much. Great to be back.

We have a lot more of the breaking news tonight, including exclusive details about what type of access the U.S. government has the suspect now in custody in Libya for the September bombing of the U.S. consulate in Benghazi to kill four Americans. Our national security contributor Fran Townsend has details on that.

Also tonight, crime and punishment, the 18th and final day on the stand for Jodi Arias, the time-stamped photographs or the pictures she took of her boyfriend Travis Alexander on the shower before and after she shot him and repeatedly stabbed him were crucial to the prosecutor's case. Could it have taken only 62 seconds to commit such a heinous act? Randi Kaye was in the court. We'll talk to her along with our legal panels, senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin, criminal defense attorney Mark Geragos.

And a stunning video, a skydiver with a failed chute dropping over 5,000 feet, hitting the ground about 30 miles per hour, amazingly has a happy ending. Ahead, my interview with the sky diver, Craig Stapleton walks me through the troubled jump which miraculously ended with nothing more than some minor injuries.

Those stories, tonight's "Ridiculist" and a whole more -- Erin.

BURNETT: That's amazing. Can't wait to see that. Thanks, Anderson.

And now, rev up your engines, because this is Christmas Abott, the latest woman to join the manly world of NASCAR. But she's not behind the wheel. She's bolting tires in the pit, a physically grueling job that no woman has ever attempted until now.


BURNETT (voice-over): NASCAR has never seen anything like this.

Meet Christmas Joy Abbott. Yes, that's her real name.

She's the first female pit crew member in history to have a shot at competing at elite level NASCAR races.

The 31-year-old is barely over five feet tall but don't let that fool you. Abbott is a force. She can dead lift 255 pounds and squat upwards of 200. The 115 pound trailblazer has a gun tattooed on her hip to remind her of the time she spent in Iraq.

Now, Danica Patrick may be the name you know, but Abbott is also breaking entirely new barriers for women. In order to work in the pits, Abbott has to whip around the speeding race car with an air gun in her hand, unbolt five lug nuts, rip a 50-pound tire off the car, bolt on a new one and repeat on the other side, all in about 12 seconds.

SHAUN PEET, PIT CREW COACH: Good job. Awesome!

BURNETT: She practices every day for a spot on the team.

ABBOTT: When I hit, I'm hitting straight on to cap the whole lug nut where if I angle it, it's not going to cap the whole lug nut and it doesn't come all the way off, and you've just cost yourself a tenths or a few tenths or more of a second, which could mean the race.

BURNETT: Abbott says it was her competitive nature that drew her to the sport.

ABBOTT: Kind of the adrenaline of running in front of a car and then having the car zip by you, 50 to 60 miles an hour behind you and literally few feet of spacing.

BURNETT: She still remembers her first long walk towards the ex- football players and 300-pound military men who command the pit.

ABBOTT: You know, walking into somebody else's house, I just kept my head down and kept working.

PEET: Great, great job. That was very, very close.

ABBOTT: You hit them hard, they come off.

BURNETT: Abbott didn't know it at the time, but even her pit crew coach Shaun Peet was skeptical about what she could do.

PEET: I thought it was a publicity stunt, you know, a woman getting into a sport that is predominantly ruled by males, not something comes across your desk every day.

BURNETT: After seeing Abbott in action, Peet became a believer.

PEET: I remember the first time she walked on, (INAUDIBLE), you know, just burning holes through her with her eyes. If that doesn't intimidate her, she's good to go.

BURNETT: Despite that experience and the ones that will undoubtedly follow, Abbott refuses to leave her femininity behind. She says she remains a woman in every sense.

ABBOTT: The ongoing joke is if I'm not in tennis shoes, I'm in pumps. And I love wearing dresses and curling my hair but that doesn't mean that I don't like to get dirty, you know? I like to work. I like to be physical in my work. And it's been overlooked that women can do both.


BURNETT: An amazing story.

Well, still to come, thinking of getting in shape? Russian President Vladimir Putin channels Stalin to get his people in shape.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BURNETT: Russia is in trouble.

Now, according to studies compiled by the Russian government, ever since the collapse of the Soviet Union, life expectancy has been falling. Children are apparently in significantly worse physical shape.

Now, it's strange because Russian President Vladimir Putin is such a fitness nut. We have all seen photos of him in judo, swimming, playing hockey, and, of course, riding horses. Yes.

By the way, he never seems to have a shirt on. It always seems to be pretty embarrassing to him that the Russian people are in such poor health but don't worry. President Putin has a solution. Joseph Stalin. Now, Vladimir Putin plans to reintroduce the Stalin era GTO fitness test that prepared that young Russians for service in the Red Army by teaching them how to run, jump, climb ropes and throw grenades.

It might seem ridiculous to use such an antiquated system, but consider America's presidential fitness council was launched back in 1953 and we still use it. The reason kids in the U.S. like it, celebrity endorsements. The first President Bush enlisted Arnold Schwarzenegger, his son George W., Eli Manning and President Obama, Michele.

The point is it's not about the fitness. It's about the salesperson. So, who did Putin pick? Well, you need somebody who exemplifies fitness but is of the moment, which is why yesterday to launch his hot new fitness program, Vladimir Putin stood besides Steven Segall, Stalin and Putin, especially Putin, you know, like this, without a shirt? Sign me up.

"A.C. 360" starts right now.