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ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT

"High Probability" Chemical Weapons Used; Reid Caves On Gun Bill; It Was A Beautiful, Holy Day In Rome; Washington State's New Pot Posse

Aired March 19, 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 on the 10th anniversary of the U.S. invasion, 55 people killed in Iraq today. Why is al Qaeda rising?

Plus, police find a bag of explosives found next to the body in a college dorm room and we have the video the cops found as they went in.

And CVS demands employees to submit to health tests. If not, you pay a lot of money. Is your employer next and is this fair? Let's go OUTFRONT.

Good evening, everyone. I'm Erin Burnett. And we begin with breaking news tonight, first heard here on CNN, the chairman of the House and Senate Intelligence Committees telling our Wolf Blitzer just a short while ago there's a -- I want to quote their words, "high probability that chemical weapons have been used in Syria."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. MIKE ROGERS (R), CHAIRMAN OF INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: I have a high probability to believe that chemical weapons were used. We need that final verification, but given everything we know over the last year and a half, I, Mike Rogers, chairman of the Intelligence Committee, would come to the conclusion they're positioned for use and ready to do that or, in fact, have been used.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: Or, in fact, have been used. The head of the Senate Intelligence Committee Dianne Feinstein echoed that warning with a stark message to the president and I will quote her. She said, "I think the probabilities are very high that we are going into some very dark times and I think the White House needs to be prepared." Both committees now have been fully briefed.

All right, I want to bring our guests tonight and talk about what this means. Seth Jones joins us now along with General Wesley Clark. Thanks very much for both of you. You both know a lot about this issue.

General, let me start with you. This is something the president has set as a red line, I'll play what he said in a moment, but he has said if chemical weapons are used, that's a red line. What does the U.S. do if they have been?

GENERAL WESLEY CLARK (RETIRED), FORMER NATO SUPREME ALLIED COMMANDER: Well, first of all, both secretary of state and the president have looked very closely at this issue of what assistance can be given to the Syrian resistance, the rebels there.

And the Syrian rebels are getting increasingly well organized. They're right now just representatives. Pretty soon the government will be formed. People will have positions so I think what you are going to see is more and more U.S. assistance to directly get rid of the Assad regime.

And I think the additional line is that we're going to go really hard back at Moscow because Moscow's assistance has been pivotal in keeping Assad in office.

BURNETT: And how do we go hard back at Moscow?

CLARK: Well, I mean, first of all, you go at them diplomatically. Secondly, their interests where the United States and Russia have certain parallel interests and you work those interests.

The Russians believe in linkage. Everything with the Russians is about linkage. So what does Putin get from continuing to support Assad? One thing he might get a higher oil prices because there's a risk premium on oil. This is important for Russia.

BURNETT: Absolutely.

CLARK: You know, the United States is going to be a big factor in Russia's future because we increase the oil production and the predictions are predicting more than Russia or Saudi Arabia in five or six years. That's a mortal threat to Russia if it affects the price of oil.

BURNETT: All right, and Seth, what damage could be done with these chemical weapons? You know, if we're hearing and this rhetoric out of Dianne Feinstein, Mike Rogers is different. This is -- they're using them. What could they do?

SETH JONES, RAND CORPORATION: Well, it's worth noting that the reporting coming out of Syria right now is a little confusing. The Syrian government accused the rebels of using poisons or chemical weapons so both sides are now accusing each other of doing it.

If, in fact, the Syrian government has used chemical weapons against its population, against Syrian rebels, this is a serious red line. I think there are a range of options including what the Israelis have already done, trying to target facilities producing the kinds of chemicals.

But this goes back to Saddam's gassing of his own population about a decade or two ago and so I think this really changes the dynamics of the discussion in the U.S.

BURNETT: Let me just play -- you mentioned the words red line. We've been talking about that. Here's what President Obama has said. Here's why this news, not just from a humanitarian perspective, but whether or not the United States military will get involved, this is why chemical weapons is so important. Here's the president.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: We have been very clear to the Assad regime, but also, to other players on the ground that a red line for us is we start seeing a whole bunch of chemical movement around or utilized. That would change my calculus. That would change my equation.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: General, does he make a mistake when he set so clearly what red lines are? People want them. Once you put one out there, if someone crosses it, you are forced to act.

CLARK: I don't think it's a mistake. I think it was a clear warning, both to Assad and to his Russian supporters that they can't do this. Now, if the Russians have an influence with Assad, they better rein him back in.

As far as the U.S. could do, we talked about diplomacy and linkage with the Russians. But, you know, I didn't talk about the military option, but there's clearly a range of military options here that could be used.

BURNETT: All right, that brings me to the other top story tonight that we want to talk about. That's al Qaeda rising because al Qaeda is a big part of the opposition in Syria and why this is so complicated. Violence rippled across Iraq today. It was 10th anniversary of the U.S. invasion.

No group has yet claimed responsibility. Signs though point to al Qaeda. The decade-long war in Iraq has caused 4,488 American lives, more than 100,000 Iraqi lives and more than $800 billion.

Today, another 55 Iraqis lost their lives, 200 more wounded. There were 17 car bombs, seven roadside bombs and two shootings that ripped through mostly Shiite neighborhoods.

Arwa Damon has been covering the war since it began and she is in Baghdad tonight. Right before the program, I spoke with her and I asked her how much strength al Qaeda has gained since the U.S. invasion?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, there was a point in time when there were huge swaths of the country that were in fact controlled by al Qaeda. Now, that is no longer the case.

And at one point, al Qaeda's capabilities in Iraq were, in fact, significantly diminished. What's been especially disturbing that we have been seeing over the last few months is the re-emergence of al Qaeda, especially in Iraq's Al Anbar Province predominantly Sunni to the west of the capital.

There have been, for example, ongoing demonstrations there. People demanding certain things, legitimate things from the Iraqi government, but at the same time, we have also been beginning to see over the last few weeks al Qaeda's flag raised, as well.

You can just imagine the ripple of fear that's causing for the population in of itself and not just today's attacks that bear the hallmarks of al Qaeda. Last week, a coordinated complex attack on the justice ministry located in what's supposed to be one of the safest parts of the capital.

So we're most certainly now seeing al Qaeda beginning to regain quite a bit of its strength.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: General Clark, is America safer or less safe?

CLARK: Well, we built -- I mean, we got rid of Saddam Hussein. That's good. Everybody understands that, but we gave an opening for al Qaeda to come in to Iraq. To sink roots in. To have tar gets of Americans and now they're feeding on the schism between the Sunni and the Shia population and that's -- it's more than the Iraqi security forces, which are Shia dominated can handle.

So are we safer? Very complicated question. We've learned a lot of things as a result of our experience in Iraq. We got great capabilities in our special forces and so forth. But if it had been up to me, I wouldn't have done it in the first place.

BURNETT: You wouldn't have done it in the first place?

CLARK: I wouldn't have gone in there.

BURNETT: Seth, what's your point of view? Are we less safe? It's not just Iraq where al Qaeda has now gotten another stronghold. It is, of course, Syria and why you can go and support the opposition in Syria and you might actually be, yes, supporting a lot of al Qaeda- linked groups.

JONES: Well, I think General Clark is right on the range of positive aspects including political freedoms now in Iraq right now, but when it comes to the terrorism problem, I think there's no question right now that the terrorism problem is worse.

If you look at the number of al Qaeda in Iraq attacks, they're averaging about 30 attacks per month, which is a 50 percent increase from 2011. It's a last year that the U.S. military was in Iraq.

And then in neighboring Syria, one of the most significant and powerful terrorist groups is in al Qaeda in Iraq affiliate. They have heavy weapons now, which they have accumulated from a range of attacks against Syrian bases.

They have got inroads in to networks in Europe right now. So I think on the terrorism front, things are not looking good in this area right now.

BURNETT: All right, thanks very much to both of you and we appreciate your time tonight.

Still OUTFRONT, the assault weapons ban proposed by a Democrat has been shelved. Is Harry Reid the person to blame?

Plus, Washington State has finally found a pot czar, the state's high commander comes OUTFRONT, of course.

And a chilling new video of a would-be killer, we are going to take you inside the Florida college dorm room full of explosives and weapons with the video that the cops took when they went in.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BURNETT: Our second story OUTFRONT, did Harry Reid cave? So today, the Senate majority leader shelved the assault weapons ban that was introduced by his Democratic colleague Senator Dianne Feinstein. Reid's explanation, well, let me play it for you.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV), MAJORITY LEADER: I'm not going to try to put something on the floor that won't succeed. I want something that will succeed. I think the worst of all worlds would be to bring something to the floor and it dies there.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: But did Reid really want it to succeed in the first place? OUTFRONT tonight, our CNN contributors, David Frum, former speech writer to President George W. Bush, and Paul Begala, former counsel to President Clinton.

Paul, this doesn't sound like the Harry Reid we all know. This is a guy to say, you know what, 57 percent of the people in this country favor this assault weapons ban. I'm going to take it to the floor.

And if Republicans want to shoot it down, then you know what, fine. I'll let them take the blame and looking at that and the fact he has a high rating from the NRA, one might get a little suspicious.

PAUL BEGALA, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, first off, he is going to take it to the floor. It just will be a separate amendment. I will not be part of the larger gun safety bill, which includes things like expanded background checks, mental health, school safety, gun trafficking and ammunition clips and may be split out and that's because of simple math.

You know, I'm a Democrat. I can't blame the Democrats. It's been 20 years since we've had a major piece of gun safety legislation and there's a reason. Back in the day, we had at least nine, if memory serves, nine Republican senators voting for the assault weapon ban 20 years ago. Today, there are zero. And you can't pass it when you got to get to 60 and there are zero Republicans supporting it. So I think Reid is just being pragmatic. I think what he was saying was you don't want to kill the whole bill.

You don't want to lose the progress that looks like we're making on things like background checks and mental health and school safety because you can't get --

BURNETT: That's an interesting point. David Frum, though, part of the problem here is also that there are Democrats who are not eager to go ahead with gun control. Senator Feinstein expressed her disappointment with Reid's decision to see the news today. Here's how she described it because there's a word that she used that really struck with me.

She said, OK, I'm going to quote it. "You know, the enemies on this are very powerful. I've known all my life, my adult life in this political area certainly." The "enemies" was the word that stuck with me.

And by that, I just want to bring again Reid's rating with NRA. It's a B. That's a really good rating. He is a Democrat. And here's what he said back in February about Feinstein's bill.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV), MAJORITY LEADER: I didn't vote for the assault weapons last time because it didn't make sense, but I'll take a look at it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: So he didn't vote for it last time. Got a B rating from the NRA. Is Reid one of Feinstein's enemies?

DAVID FRUM, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I don't know how she defines her enemies but the reason there has not been gun safety legislation is because Democrats don't want it as much as Republicans don't. The Democrats owe their Senate majority to people like Harry Reid, who represent Nevada, a state where gun right are popular, important. And there are other Democrats who feel the same way.

Democrats have, as Paul mentioned, but he could have hit the point harder, this tribal memory. They blame their defeat in 1994, not on their other mistakes, but on the assault weapons ban of that year, and they're determined never to do it again.

And all of this was predictable, by the way. I've been banging the drum for months that there was going to be no legislation passed through Congress. That is just something you have to begin with. The whole thing is a delusion, it's a waste of time. That is not how change will come. It will not come about through legislation.

BURNETT: So, we're going to get nothing?

FRUM: Well, you can get something, but you have to understand the shape of this problem and you have to have a creative response.

The first thing to understand, change will come, not when it comes from the political system but when it comes from the citizens movement outside Congress. Like Mothers Against Drunk Driving. When it moves at a different relationship to the political system. And then the changes are going to come when they can come in ways that don't have to be passed in the form of bills. And I wrote an article for CNN.com suggesting a couple of things that could be done without any votes.

BURNETT: What's it going to take, though, Paul, to get people more passionate? I mean, you have 20 six- and seven-year-old children slaughtered by an assault weapon. Now, yes, six percent of gun crimes in this country involve assault weapons. So, if you're going to say where you really need to do reform, one might argue that it isn't necessarily assault weapons. But 20 six- and seven-year-old are gone. And that's not enough?

BEGALA: That's what's so particularly heartbreaking. You're right that assault weapons are not used in the majority of murders, but they are in a huge number - and I think the majority, I could be wrong, Erin, but the huge number of mass killings. A big piece of that is not only the assault weapons, though,--

BURNETT: And it was used in Newtown.

BEGALA: Absolutely used in Newtown. And these high-capacity ammunition clips used in Newtown, used in Aurora that are so far still in the bill -- but there is some concern on the behalf of gun safety advocates that the high-capacity ammunition clips, too, may be pulled out and subject to a second vote. I'm more hopeful than Mr. Frum.

I think he's right. We need a larger approach than simply politics. The truth is, there is terrible violence in our media and in our video games, and there is terrible holes in our mental system. I'm for a holistic system. But part of it ought to be this kind of gun-safety regulation. And it's very frustrating. Look, I'm a gun owner. I have lots of guns, I'm a big hunter.

BURNETT: I did not know that!

BEGALA: I have at least 17 at last count, Erin. I hunt all the time. I just got back from another hunting trip. It's one of my favorite things to do. I take my boys, I take my father.

BURNETT: I love hearing it. But you are a very passionate person. I get a little nervous, but I imagine you know what you're doing.

(LAUGHTER)

BEGALA: Well, but, see, I'm not a felon. I'm not mentally ill. At least not diagnosed formally. And that -- see, these things won't - and this is what I tell fellow gun owners. The NRA is misleading us. These things will not restrict our abilities to enjoy weapons, but they will take weapons of war off the street. Nobody thinks you should have a bazooka or a flame thrower. And I think these guns are a whole lot more like that than they are like the shotguns I was just using to hunt quail with a few weeks ago.

BURNETT: All right. Well, thanks very much to both of you. We appreciate it.

And still to come, pope and circumstance at the Vatican today. We're going to go to St. Peter's Square and show you the highlights of Pope Francis' inauguration. It was a pretty amazing day.

Plus, a woman accused of shooting and killing her own grandson as a 911 operator listened. There's now a verdict.

And the U.S. embassy in Israel. We found this today, and we will share it with you. It's a rather bizarre video ahead of President Obama's trip. We're going to show it to you, we promise.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BURNETT: All right. Third story OUTFRONT. Wow, what a day it was in Rome. It was a gorgeous day. Literally one of those beautiful, sun lit, no clouds. Full of pomp and circumstance for the new pope.

The ceremony, though, filled with tradition, and Pope Francis became the 266th leader of the world's 1.2 billion Catholics. The inauguration mass in Rome was celebrated in front of a capacity crowd, and there were a lot of world leaders in attendance.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BURNETT: Under a bright blue roman sky, Pope Francis entered St. Peter's Square today to the cheers of a crowd estimated at nearly 200,000 people. The new pontiff chose to ride in an open air Mercedes. Not the bulletproof, closed off Popemobile favored by his two predecessors. He took his time approaching the basilica, circling the square to come close to the devoted Catholics who had waited so patiently for him. It was face to face and personal. For nearly 20 minutes, Pope Francis embraced people, shaking hands and kissing babies. He even stopped the car to get out and bless a man who's severely disabled.

After bowing in prayer at the tomb of St. Peter, the first Latin American pope given the official symbols of his papacy: a lamb's wool shawl that symbolizes his role as a shepherd and the fisherman's ring, inscribed with his name. Once again, the new pontiff made a point of showing he is not one for wealth and excess. His ring was a gold plated silver ring, not the traditional solid gold.

And then, the mass for the 266th bishop of Rome. The basilica was full of princes, princesses and world leaders. 132 dignitaries from around the world were there. Among them, Vice President Joe Biden, queen Paola of Belgium and Prince Albert of Monaco. And Zimbabwe's controversial dictator, Robert Mugabe. Thousands more filled the square outside the cathedral in his home city of Buenos Aires in Argentina, watching the pope pray for the protection of the less fortunate.

POPE FRANCIS (through translator): I would like to ask, please to all those who have roles of responsibility, the economic, political and social environment, all men and woman of goodwill, we are all protectors of creation.

BURNETT: Pope Francis spent an hour and a half greeting dignitaries after a mass laden with history. He then retreated to the Vatican and took to the most modern mode of communication to address the rest of us. He tweeted: "True power is service. The pope must serve all people, especially the poor, the weak, the vulnerable."

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BURNETT: What a celebration.

Still to come, Washington state has finally picked a pot czar. Washington's weed warden comes OUTFRONT, because where else would you go as the weed warden?

Plus, explosives and other weapons were found next to a body in the dorm room. And the video of that discovery, we have it for you.

And a verdict tonight in the case of a woman charged with murdering her own grandson.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

911 OPERATOR: 911, what's your emergency?

HOFFMAN: I've just been shot.

911 OPERATOR: What?

HOFFMAN: I've just been shot.

911 OPERATOR: Where are you at? Okay. How did you get shot? Who shot you?

HOFFMAN: My grandmother shot me.

911 OPERATOR: Your grandmother and grandpa shot you?

HOFFMAN: My grandma. I'm going to die.

(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.

And we want to begin tonight with the president. He is headed for Israel at this very moment. It's the first foreign trip of his second term.

Israel is welcoming him with open arms. In a YouTube video, the Israeli embassy thanks the president. This is a beautiful video. Thanks him for being a friend.

(VIDEO CLIP PLAYS)

BURNETT: This is a real video. This is on their Web site.

On a more serious note, here is what Israeli President Shimon Peres said to our John King today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PRES. SHIMON PERES, ISRAEL: Obama is admired in the hearts, even if the mouth of these people doesn't say so.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: Kind words from President Peres about President Obama. But a new CNN poll shows that fewer than half of Americans believe Israel is an ally of the United States. This is dramatically broken down by party lines. Republicans felt Israel was an ally, only a third of Democrats thought so.

Israel, of course, is a major ally of the United States.

Well, tonight, a Michigan grandmother has been found guilty of murdering her teenage grandson. Our affiliate WXYZ reports jurors asked during deliberations to see the Glock 17 that 75-year-old Sandra Layne used to shoot Jonathan Hoffman multiple times.

Layne claims she acted in self defense during an argument with her 17-year-old grandson. But prosecutors had this evidence: a 911 call made by Hoffman.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

OPERATOR: 911, what's your emergency?

JONATHAN HOFFMAN: I've just been shot.

OPERATOR: What?

HOFFMAN: I've just been shot.

OPERATOR: Where are you at? OK, how did you get shot? Who shot you?

HOFFMAN: My grandma shot me.

OPERATOR: Your grandma and grandpa shot me?

HOFFMAN: My grandma. I'm going to die.

HOFFMAN: (INAUDIBLE), I got shot again. Help me.

OPERATOR: You got shot again? Are they still there?

HOFFMAN: Someone get help now. Now! (INAUDIBLE) I need help. (END AUDIO CLIP)

BURNETT: Layne reportedly faces at least 14 years in prison.

It has been 593 days since the United States lost its top credit rating. What are we doing to get it back?

Well, lawmakers in Cyprus have rejected government plan to impose a tax on bank deposits, adding doubts to the future of the bailout package that was agreed to three days ago, a bailout package for a tiny country that could mean a lot for our biggest trading partner.

And now, our fourth story OUTFRONT: armed and ready to kill.

We have new video tonight inside the dorm room of the former University of Central Florida student who committed suicide yesterday and because we want to be -- make sure you're aware here, it could be inappropriate for some viewers. It shows police entering the dorm room. That's where they found the gun room -- the gunman and a stash of explosives and weapons.

Now, UCF police chief Richard Beary who is on this program last night says the evidence shows that 30-year-old James Oliver Seevakumaran had enough ammunition for in his words a massacre.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RICHARD BEARY, CHIEF, UNIVERSITY OF CENTRAL POLICE DEPARTMENT: I don't think that you acquire 210-round magazines and numerous 22 capacity magazines and that you purchase 1,000 rounds of ammunition and that you purchase the 45 ammunition -- I don't think you just do that as a joke.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: Fortunately, Seevakumaran's roommate called 911 and may have prevented mass casualties on the campus.

Yesterday, Chief Beary told me he was certain that was where this was headed.

Ed Lavandera is there tonight with the latest.

And what is the latest here as they're trying to get information on what the motive and what might have happened here, Ed?

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, authorities here at the University of Central Florida have released all sorts of different types of information and most importantly, the 911 call and the video that you just caught a glimpse of there early on. But that 911 call, that was the initial call that came into police from the suspect's roommate, a young man by the name of Arabo Babakhani. He says when he heard that fire alarm go off, he stepped out, looked out of his door to see what was going on and that's when he found that his roommate was pointing a gun right at him.

Listen to that phone call.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

ARABO BABAKHANI, ROOMMATE: The fire alarm went off. I opened the door to see what was going on and he's there with, like, some sort of like, gun, like a large assault gun. I don't know if it's a real gun. I don't know what it is but I just saw it and I slammed my door shut and locked it.

911: All right. Are you in your room now? Secured in your room?

BABAKHANI: Yes. Yes. I'm in the bathroom right now.

911: All right. Don't hang up. I'm going to put you on hold for a second and I'm going to call UCF. Hold on a minute. All right?

BABAKHANI: OK.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

LAVANDERA: So, Babakhani barricaded himself in the bathroom of his dorm room. And you can tell how loud it was inside the dormitory as all of that was going on. I asked the police chief if he had heard any gunshots and the roommate said that he had heard a pop and supposedly that must have been the time that the suspect committed that self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head -- Erin.

BURNETT: Ed, let me ask you. The police now say that the suspect had a checklist. What are the police saying they know was on the checklist about what his intention was, what he was trying to do?

LAVANDERA: Well, this is a checklist and we have a picture of it. You can see it. It's kind of hard to read the handwriting on there, but this is a list that authorities here say that he had mapped out what to do on that Sunday night leading in to Monday morning, and talked about getting dressed to go to a bar and then a nearby bar here at near campus called the Mad Hatter to, quote, "get drunk" and then head back and, quote, "get equipped" and then take a shower, shave up. Pull the alarm and then give them hell.

And the authorities say that as he went down each one of those, he scratched them off the list. Having said all of that, they say they don't have any kind of particular motive or a specific person or persons that the suspect might have been targeting. They're still looking in to that. But so far, they haven't been able to turn up anything on that.

BURNETT: All right. Ed Lavandera, thank you very much.

Well, Washington state needs help getting high. The state's liquor control board has been searching high and low for an expert to help manage Washington's new legal marijuana business and today they announced that the position has been filled.

Now, we first brought you the story back in January and after going through countless applications, Washington decided it needed more than a pot czar. It needed an entire a pot posse. Now, we are going to talk to the man leading the group in a moment.

But first, here's Casey Wian OUTFRONT.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: So who got the job? "Up in Smoke's" Cheech and Chong?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is that a joint, man?

WIAN: Jeff Spicoli from "Fast Time at Ridgemont High"?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey, bud. Let's party.

WIAN: The former leader of the free world?

BILL CLINTON, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: I experimented with marijuana a time or two, and I didn't like it, and didn't inhale.

WIAN: Instead, the Washington state liquor board went corporate, choosing Botec, an East Coast consulting firm, to help implement the new law legalizing marijuana for the purpose of getting stoned.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We look forward to working with the board to address the unprecedented challenge of organizing a cannabis market, in ways that protect public health and public safety.

WIAN: Why did Botec win?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They were the highest individual score earls in each of the four categories.

WIAN: Some have called the position the state's drug czar.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't believe that's our official title.

WIAN: Competition for the contract was fierce.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We ended up getting a ton of response, actually 112 submissions were received by the agency, 95 of those were actual proposals. Out of that, we had 43 proposals that were deemed nonresponsive.

WIAN: Hmm. Wonder why. The pot head consultant, Botec CEO Mark Kleiman is already controversial among some marijuana activists because he's expressed concern about state legalization efforts conflicting with federal law.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have no idea what the federal government's going to do. If they step in with an injunction, we won't implement based on the dates and 502, but I don't see it stops us from putting together the framework.

WIAN: Financial terms of the deal are still being negotiated, but it's budgeted at $100,000 a year. There was a final question for the weed wardens.

REPORTER: How many of you currently consume cannabis?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Clearly, I don't think that's -- I don't think that's relevant to the project. All of our consultants are law- abiding citizens.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BURNETT: Something about the way he laughed just got me.

All right. OUTFRONT tonight, Mark Kleiman who we like to call the pot czar and just selected as Washington's first marijuana consultant.

I really appreciate your taking the time, Mark. You know, a lot of jokes have been made about this job. Some calling it the best job you could ever have. Others, a pot lover's dream. And there were a lot of news reports about people competing against you. You were competing against long-haired hippies wearing flannel shorts, all kind of things.

So, what's a guy like you, university professor, head of a firm based in Massachusetts, what do you know about pot?

MARK KLEIMAN, CHAIR, BOTEC ANALYSIS CORP: Well, I wrote a dissertation on it a million years ago and with three of the other people who are part of our team wrote a book called "Marijuana Legalization: What Everyone Needs to Know."

So you could say that our team wrote the book on the subject.

BURNETT: It sounds like you know a lot. I imagine you've tested it out, too, right? I mean, just to be clear here, right? You know?

KLEIMAN: If you do drug policy for a living and you're asked that question, you have two options. You can say, yes, I'm a lawbreaker come arrest me. Or you can say, no, I don't know anything about the stuff I'm talking about.

And since neither of those are very advantageous, I make it a policy not to respond.

BURNETT: Well, you could go with the "I didn't inhale" option. Let me --

KLEIMAN: No. I actually think whether people on our team have used cannabis one time or another or what they think about it or cannabis legalization is irrelevant to the job we have been chosen to do.

Our job is to tell the liquor control board what the likely consequences are, good and bad, of different choices they could make. What they're for or against is pretty irrelevant.

BURNETT: So let me ask you about that. Because they have asked you, sorry, a little bit of a delay, but they've asked you -- they want $560 million in revenue from legalizing marijuana. That seems like a lot of money. So, you're going to do the analysis on how much pot they're need to grow and sell to actually reach that goal. I mean, how much?

KLEIMAN: That's probably the wrong way to ask the question. It's true that the revenue office estimated that as a possible tax take. That's not my understanding of the liquor control board is using that as a target. At least I hope they're not. That's probably the full size of the marijuana market in Washington now.

So we're not going to try to figure out how much money the state is going to make. But we're going to try to figure out how much marijuana is used now, and how much more might be used if it's legal and, therefore, how much more to grow and sell within the state without running through the problem of having people export it out of state. That's the big problem as it looks to me.

BURNETT: Ah, OK.

KLEIMAN: This is not a revenue maximization. It's not like a state lottery.

But the only way to make a lot of money selling marijuana is to sell it to people who smoke a lot of marijuana, and that's not a good thing.

BURNETT: Which brings me to my final question. The DEA said in a statement last year, keeping marijuana illegal reduces its availability and lessens willingness to use it. Legalizing marijuana would increase accessibility and encourage promotion and acceptance of drug use."

Is that concern accurate? Because you just said, the only way to make money is to sell it to people who use a lot of it and that's not a good thing.

KLEIMAN: Everything that was in that DEA statement was true. Of course, if you don't count alcohol as a drug because, you know, lots of Americans use drugs if you count alcohol which you should.

BURNETT: Fair.

KLEIMAN: But what that statement left out is a few additional facts. Keeping marijuana illegal produces a $30 million revenue to criminals, 800,000 arrests a year, 40,000 people behind bars. Some violence here, some violence in Mexico. And criminalizes the behavior of millions of others law-abiding people.

Again, for the purpose of this contract, I don't have a position on whether the Washington voters did a smart thing or not in passing a legalization bill. But it's not a one-sided issue. There are advantages and disadvantages on both sides and that's going to be our theme throughout the advice to give to the board.

BURNETT: Right. KLEIMAN: You can do this? This good result and that bad result, take your pick.

BURNETT: All right. Well, sir, thank you very much. We appreciate it.

I got to say, I know it's a serious job but it is one a lot of people would kill to get.

Well, still come, CBS ordered their workers to take health tests or pay a big fine. So, is this fair? Is this a way of having all us pay more for our own mistakes that we've made or has the pharmacy chain gone too far?

Plus, a surprising revelation about North Korea's leader in tonight's essay, and once again, yes, it comes from Dennis Rodman.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BURNETT: All right. We want to check in with Anderson Cooper for a look at when's coming up on "A.C. 360".

Hey, Anderson.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Hey, Erin.

Yes, we're waiting for the president to depart Andrews Air Force base on his way to Israel. Undoubtedly, concerns aboard Air Force One on the use of chemical weapons, possibly use of chemical weapons in Syria as the conflict there is escalating. We'll talk about the breaking news with CNN contributors Bob Baer and Fran Townsend.

Also ahead, my exclusive interview with the man who may have prevented a massacre on a school campus. The roommate of would-be campus killer had a gun pointed at his head and the presence to call police. The call may have prevented the execution of the last items on the deadly checklist the roommate had. That item was: give them hell.

Plus, Michele Bachmann's outsize claims about the president wasting money on a lavish lifestyle. See what happened when CNN's Dana Bash tracked down the congresswoman to actually ask her about where she was getting her facts. Wait until you see how she responded. We're keeping them honest. Those stories and tonight's "RidicuList" all at the top of the hour, Erin.

BURNETT: All right, Anderson. We'll see you in just a few minutes.

And now our fifth story OUTFRONT: Get a physical or pay up. This is a new policy from the national drugstore chain CVS and it has a lot of people upset.

Let me just explain how it works. The workers at CVS would have to undergo a health screening. And there'd be a checklist: weight, body fat, BMI, glucose levels, all those kinds of things and if you don't hit certain levels, you will have to pay a penalty.

CVS calls this a motivation for a healthy lifestyle. Critics call it an invasion of privacy.

OUTFRONT tonight, Dr. Deborah Peel, founder and chair of Patient Privacy Right and our contributor, Reihan Salam.

And good to see both of you.

Dr. Peel, let me start with you.

CVS put out a statement to us that said, "Our benefits program is evolving to helping our colleagues take more responsibility for improving their health and managing health-associated costs and initial step to accomplish this is a health screening and wellness review."

In the sense, this seems to make a lot of sense, literally, right? I mean, if I am going to have to pay the cost of making poor decisions and not working out, then maybe I'm more likely to make better decisions.

DR. DEBORAH PEEL, FOUNDER AND CHAIR, PATIENT PRIVACY RIGHTS: Well, Erin, this is full of so much baloney, it's hard to know where to start. First of all, people are coerced into voluntarily signing to get these health screenings or they will get $600 a year deducted from the paycheck. So that's a problem.

The idea that they want to be unhealthy is a problem, too. Who knows what's keeping them from being healthy? That's one place CVS could start. They could ask, what can we do to help you? But, no, they think the answers are a wellness program, getting measured, creating -- forcing people really to do this rather than asking them what they need.

And the second thing that's really important to remember is they're already paying more for their health insurance than other people. It's not like they're not penalized for being ill or sick. They are. They're already penalized by the insurers. So, there's a big problem because everyone in this chain can pass the information to CVS from the lab company that does the testing to the wellness company --

BURNETT: Right. And that's a separate --

PEEL: -- et cetera.

BURNETT: Yes, and privacy issues are important, I realize that. But a little bit separate from what you're saying.

PEEL: Yes.

BURNETT: So, Reihan, let me bring you in on that -- $600 deducted from your paycheck if you don't meet these criteria. She's saying that could penalize people, that CVS should ask them how CVS can help them live healthier lives, as opposed to a financial incentive.

REIHAN SALAM, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Look, fundamentally, this isn't about saving employers money, it's actually about saving employees money, because when you get health insurance through your employer, you're part of a common risk pool.

And so, the folks who are actually taking the test, what they're doing is they're making it easier for preventive care to be available to prevent certain people from becoming sick with a chronic disease. And the problem is, if you're not able to make those interventions early on, if you don't take the tests, if you don't take these measures, then you're raising costs for other employers.

So, when you're talking about the penalty, think about it in reverse terms. Think about the fact that people who are monitoring their health right now are themselves taking steps that might be onerous, might be difficult, but they're taking steps that are saving costs for all employees.

And so, what you're asking with this penalty --

PEEL: OK.

SALAM: -- is that you're actually slipping that logic so that you're not just having them be free riders but, rather, having everyone take action.

BURNETT: But, Dr. Peel bout that? What if you're fit, you're a nonsmoker --

(CROSSTALK)

BURNETT: Hold on. Why should you have to foot the bill for someone who is none of those things, who eats unhealthily?

PEEL: You don't, you don't.

And the first problem with what Reihan said is these are not risk pools. The insurance business in health care is cost-plus. They don't actually care how sick you are or how well you are.

There's no risk. They know exactly what it's going to cost them every year. There are no risk pools. So everyone is already paying their way.

The second thing is, as a physician, I can tell you for sure, people don't like to be unhealthy. They don't like to feel bad. They don't like to be sick. They don't like to take pills.

They like to have -- they like to feel good and be able to think and play and have fun and be productive. Most people are not trying to be sick. They don't have some interest in being sick or unhealthy.

And that's the whole point. If the employer wants to help they should ask them, how can we help you and then they should guarantee that any help that they get -- BURNETT: Right.

PEEL: -- and any records --

(CROSSTALK)

SALAM: No one is claiming that people want people to be sick. Rather, the idea is when can you make this intervention? If you are able to make the intervention earlier on, you're able to prevent a chronic condition from being exacerbated from causing bigger problems.

And I think the idea that there are no risk pools is a peculiar one. I mean, right now, we're trying to pursue coverage expansion effort. So, there's a larger sense in which we're all part of a shared risk pool, in which when you have a small population that generates very high health costs, it causes problems not only for those people, but for everyone else as well, which is why preventive care has been rightly emphasized by this president and by a lot of other folks.

This is a way to alleviate some of the burdens caused by health expenditures, early detection. And that's what this measure is fundamentally about.

BURNETT: All right. Well, I'm going to hit pause there, but thanks very much to both of you.

And please let us know what you all think. Whether you think what CVS is smart and other companies should follow, or whether you think it's discriminatory.

And still to come: tonight's essay, Dennis Rodman got information from North Korea that U.S. intelligence would salivate to have, but it's Dennis. It's ahead (ph).

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BURNETT: It has been weeks since Dennis Rodman traveled to North Korea to meet with Kim Jong Un. Since then people have dismissed Rodman for how little he knew.

But as ridiculous as people said his trip was, he did learn a few things about the mysterious North Korean dictator. In an interview with "The Sun" entitled, "Why I Danced to Michael Jackson with North Korean Tyrant," Rodman described Kim Jong Un as a, quote, "cool guy who wears everyday, regular clothes and likes music and sports and stuff." Interesting because we always only see him, you know, in the military ensemble.

Specifically, Rodman says the North Korean leader likes '80s music which explains the dancing to Michael Jackson. However, the most revealing detail is what he said about Kim Jong Un's wife, Ri Sol Ju. According to Rodman, quote him again, "She's a beautiful woman, very elegant and quite tall for a Korean, maybe 5'5"." OK, that's a little bit of a problem, but anyway. "She kept talking about their beautiful baby daughter." That is a pretty amazing revelation. We know almost nothing about Kim Jong Un's wife and the fact that the couple might have a child is a state secret. Last year, Ri Sol Ju vanished for weeks and until now, some speculated some she was pregnant, some speculated she was no longer in favor, she's been tossed aside. She dressed too showy, and that was the end of her.

Dennis Rodman got the answer. It goes to show how much access he was given. It was also pretty amazing, by the way, that Kim Jong Un apparently has a daughter because North Korea has a terrible reputation when it comes to women. Just last week's, North Korea's military leaders referred to the, quote-unquote, "venomous swish" of the South Korea's prime minister's skirt.

And yet his daughter is the first born and she was born and at this moment she is the heir apparent in North Korea. As embarrassing as some people thought Dennis Rodman's trip was, North Korea getting a female leader before the United States of America does will be a heck of a lot worse. The clock is ticking.

"ANDERSON COOPER 360"" starts right now.