CNN CNN


 

Return to Transcripts main page

ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT

Inside the Murky World of Jihadist Websites; New Allegations About Benghazi Attack; Print, Aim, Fire; Interview With Sen. Chuck Schumer; Nun And Two Other Anti-Nuclear Activists Expose Major Security Flaws At Nuclear Site

Aired May 6, 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 HOST: OUTFRONT next, new allegations tonight that the U.S. military could have done more on the attacks on the American consulate in Libya.

Plus, a man uses a 3D printer to produce a handgun that can kill people. Let's make it easier for terrorists to operate gun factories in their homes?

The latest on the Boston terror attack, what investigators are saying tonight about Tamerlan Tsarnaev's wife, you see her there, and his computer. Let's go OUTFRONT.

Good evening, everyone. I'm Erin Burnett. OUTFRONT tonight, Benghazi blame game. New allegations coming out tonight that the U.S. military could have done more in the aftermath of the attacks on the U.S. Consulate in Libya. The attack on September 11th last year killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans.

This information comes as the House Oversight Committee is strategically releasing excerpts from its key witnesses. They're promising a blockbuster hearing on Wednesday. CNN's Dana Bash is OUTFRONT with the story.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Four military personnel were ready to board a plane from Tripoli, Libya, to Benghazi to help American citizens under fire at the consulate there, but were ordered by superiors not to go. That's what Gregory Hicks, Chief of mission in Libya at the time, told House Republican investigators.

REP. DARRELL ISSA (R), CALIFORNIA: The point that this plane was being loaded, it was between the first attack that killed two and the second attack that killed two more. They may not have arrived in time to save lives, but at the time that the decision was made, the decision was wrong.

BASH (on camera): Who made that decision?

ISSA: We want to find out who made this decision. BASH (voice-over): The pentagon has not yet responded to Hicks' claim. House GOP Chairman Darrell Issa calls Hicks a Benghazi whistle blower who will bolster GOP claims that Obama officials knew from the start the attack was not what they publicly suggested, a spontaneous demonstration.

I think everybody in the mission thought it was a terrorist attack from the beginning, Hicks told investigators. Saying slain Ambassador Chris Steven's final report to Hicks was, Greg, we are under attack.

Earlier this year, Hillary Clinton snapped at Republicans for dwelling on questions about what sparked the attack.

HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: The fact is we had four dead Americans. What difference at this point does it make?

BASH: Hicks told investigators it made a big difference because U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice referencing administration talking points called it a demonstration on television minutes after Libya's leader called it an attack. Hicks says that offended Libya and made it harder for the FBI to investigate.

(on camera): Greg Hicks testimony is that it is simply his opinion.

ISSA: Weeks later in New York, the president of Libya was still upset about being essentially called out as either miss misinformed or lying on national TV here in the U.S. So I think it is suffice to say, it had an effect on diplomatic relations.

BASH (voice-over): The committee's top Democrat argues they were iced out of the investigation, calling it a, quote, "partisan report with reckless and false accusations."

(on camera): How do you answer the charge that what you're doing is partisan?

ISSA: Well, I think that changing the talking points from the truth to an untruth is certainly partisan and likely for political reasons. But I think the better question is why are the Democrats not just as upset that we didn't do all we could do to save American lives.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BURNETT: And Dana, I know the Republicans are promising more surprises. This is going to be a blockbuster hearing. What are you expecting?

BASH: Well, expecting Republicans to use these witnesses that they found, the one we talked about in this piece, Hicks and a few others, who are State Department employees still currently to help to feed and expand on the narrative that we really heard from Republicans for months now that they firmly believe that there are problems with security before the attack in Benghazi.

That the administration bungled the response during the attack and after as well, all for a political reason and that reason being it was just a few months before the presidential election and the president was out there saying that he fought terrorism and they didn't want anything that would interfere with that campaign pitch.

But I can also tell that you Democrats who are on this committee say they've been iced out. They say that everything that Republicans and these witnesses are saying are really not true and that they, that the Republicans are, quote, "investigating by press release."

So as much as we're going to hear from Republicans and their witnesses, I think we're going to hear a lot of pushback from Democrats that were not really hearing from the State Department yet.

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

And now OUTFRONT, Tim Clemente, a former counterterrorism FBI agent who worked the investigations into the African Embassy bombs and the USS Cole, and Bob Baer, a former CIA operative and CNN contributor. All right, great to have both of you with us. You're really the people who have the answers to these questions.

Tim, let me start with you with this testimony from Gregory Hicks that we have excerpts from so far that's going to come up at the hearings. The highest ranking diplomat in Libya behind Ambassador Chris Stevens, he says the U.S. military was told to stand down. Was that the wrong call that night?

TIM CLEMENTE, FORMER COUNTERTERRORISM FBI AGENT: Well, Erin, it's hard to say at the moment, but I think looking back in retrospect there were seven hours between those two battles. And in seven hours a lot of people, a lot of forces could have been deployed there, whether or not we could have had a military regiment is one thing.

But getting some special operators on the ground there to assist not only in the fight, but remember we have 30 Americans or so that are on the ground there that need to be evacuated from there. So what was the priority if not to evacuate the uninjured and save the injured and hopefully take the bodies of the dead out of there?

I mean, I don't know what the priority would have been other than doing that. So why wasn't anything at least started? There was nobody at least even deployed, which is very questionable.

BURNETT: And let me ask you about how that happened, Bob, because you were in an embassy at one point that had to be rescued. Because of that experience you said it's crucial to know whether on that night there was a so-called critic message from Libya. What is that and why is it so important?

BOB BAER, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, normally when a CIA station or base or embassy is under attack, the CIA sends out a critic and it informs the president. And it can't be filtered out. A U.S. facility is under organized attack.

BURNETT: Goes straight to the president?

BAER: Yes, goes right to the president by law. It by-passes all circuitry and, you know, it gives the military authority to move. Now my question, did the CIA send a critic? Was the president alerted? Was the Pentagon alerted?

Because at that point, there was no question that the mechanisms could be put in place to rescue the consulate and the people there. This should come out in the hearing. This is not a sensitive channel, but it's very important for decision making inside Washington.

BURNETT: And of course, also, very important as to whether the president of the United States knew and ultimately, you know, then would be held responsible for whatever decision was or wasn't made.

Tim, on this point, Hicks, again, Gregory Hicks whose testimony we have is seizing on the fact that the United States insulted the Libyan president. The Libyan president came out right away and said that this was a terrorist attack. Obviously, we all know that the administration refused to do so for days.

And he says that because of that, the Libyan government then did not want to help and did not allow the FBI to come in. So 23 days went by before the FBI came into Benghazi during which time people could roam freely through the consulate.

As you both know, a CNN reporter during that time got -- obtained the diary of Ambassador Stevens in the consulate. Is that allegation fair? If we handled this differently, would the FBI really have been in there before? Would it have made a difference?

CLEMENTE: Well, I happened to be on the FBI squad for almost 10 years that was responsible for the Middle East and Africa. And we deployed typically even if we didn't have country clearance. We were wheels up and on our way there and sometimes we get the clearances upon arrival.

And you know, the USS Cole in Yemen is a perfect example. On October 2000, we were wheels up within several hours of that bomb going off and we landed in Yemen to take the dead and wounded off the ship and to do our investigation.

And the same thing when the U.S. embassies were blown up in 1998 in Kenya and Tanzania, FBI agents were deployed immediately. So I don't understand how our State Department immediately after this attack isn't communicating to the officials in Libya that we need to send an investigative team in there?

You would think because it's on American soil, even though it's a special mission, I believe that's still American soil by our standards. And there are American citizens injured and killed, ordinary the FBI would be deployed.

And for 23 days, again, it leaves a big question. I don't know that is a vast conspiracy, but that's a big question. Why weren't they sent in and nobody was there to secure evidence and to start this investigation.

BURNETT: A big question of whether they really knew what they were dealing with, with Libya. Thanks very much to both of you. We appreciate it. We'll see you both again soon. Obviously a huge week to find out what really happened on September 11th in Libya.

Still to come, a man uses a 3D printer to build a working handgun in his home, a hand gun that can shoot a 38. Could this inspire terrorists to do the same thing? New York Senator Chuck Schumer is OUTFRONT.

Plus, investigators say Tamerlan Tsarnaev learned to make the bombs used in Boston from Jihadi web sites. So why aren't officials looking for suspects surfing those sites? Guess what? They're not allowed to.

And a Supreme Court justice has strong words about President Obama. Do his comments add up?

Later in the show, a bride-to-be and her friends headed to a bachelorette party when tragedy struck. The driver of the limo speaks later in the show.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BURNETT: Our second story, OUTFRONT, a gun factory in a terrorist' garage. That's what Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer is predicting after the world's first 3D printed handgun was successfully fired in Texas. You heard me correctly there.

Here is the gun's creator, Cody Wilson. He's going to fire the weapon. He calls it the liberator. It looks just like a piece of plastic, which it is. It's made using an $8,000 3D printer. According to Wilson, less than $60 and other materials was required. The ammo is a standard bullet used in some handguns.

Wilson has now uploaded the blueprint and design so other people can follow it, too. Earlier, I spoke with Senator Schumer. I asked him if technology though will always be ahead of the law so there really isn't anything can you do about it.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SEN. CHARLES SCHUMER (D), NEW YORK: Technology does some very good things. These 3D printers, which prints sorts of 3D plastic the way they spray ink on a piece of paper have a lot of very good uses. No one wants to abolish them. They make parts for machines that are out of circulation and the part has worn out.

They help aerodynamically design our cars and other vehicles. They're used in all kinds of different activities that are good. But now, of course, because you can make a gun and this group, this libertarian group printed it online, which I think is a reckless act, it can create real danger as well.

Felon, a terrorist, can make a gun in the comfort of their home not even leaving their home and do terrible damage with it. And so the question is what we do about it. The first thing we should do is certainly extend the law. The law that prohibits these types of guns that can't be detected when you go through a metal detector expires this year. We should extend it and make it broader. Right now, you can't have a gun but you can make every part, sell them to someone and they can put them together, and that's legal. That ought to be stopped.

BURNETT: You know, when you said part -- one of the things we need to do here is extend that, the rule that requires guns be detectible by metal detectors at the end of this year, it makes me think about some of the other efforts obviously recently that's failed.

You had overwhelmingly public support for background checks. It never gets better than what you had in that 92 percent of Americans said they were for that expansion in January. It's now dropped a little bit, but it is still very high at 88 percent. But even with that approval from the American public, the Senate hasn't even been able to get that done. How do you expect to get something else done with regards to guns and we can't get background checks in?

SCHUMER: I think that people who would oppose extending this law do so at their peril. This is so beyond the pale that I think that even the extremists will have trouble getting people to take their point of view here. And I don't think they'll oppose it.

BURNETT: This weekend, 86,228 people -- that is a heck of a lot of people. That's who went to the NRA annual meeting in Houston. They only thought they would get 72,000. That's what they had last year. 86,000. That's pretty incredible. The vice president, Wayne Lapierre, said over the weekend, the NRA membership topped five million. That's -- a tenth of them joined since the Newtown shootings. The recent poll that we just saw today said Americans said starting to trust Republicans in Congress more than the president when it comes to gun control. This has got to frustrate the bejesus out of you.

SCHUMER: Well, you know, sooner or later the Congress catches up with public opinion. And I think an issue like this, which shows that the absolutist position of so many on the hard right makes no sense. So I think actually the proposal to extend and strengthen the law against nondetectible guns will prevail, and I think it may lead some to think that some of the other extreme positions are way out of line as well.

Look, we all remember the Clint Eastwood move "In The Line Of Fire." And John Malkovich, one of the great original bad guys in that movie, spent months and months and months trying to create a gun out of wood and plastic so he could assassinate the president. Now it's not a movie anymore. It's reality. And I think society will push Congress to act no matter what the NRA does.

BURNETT: So you think the nondetectible guns, the not allowing plastic guns at all, has a better chance of passing at this point than background checks?

SCHUMER: Absolutely. Look, I still think we'll win by background checks by the end of the year. Members who went home to their districts and voted against those things saw their poll numbers drop and saw the public against them. No matter what the extreme pro-gun people say, I find it very hard to believe that colleagues of either political party, of any political philosophy, would get up on the floor of the Senate and say we should not have a ban on undetectable plastic guns.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BURNETT: All right. And that was Chuck Schumer earlier today.

Still to come, the wife of Tamerlan Tsarnaev. Today, investigators made a major announcement involving the computer found in her home.

Plus, an 82-year-old activist nun able to sneak into America's most secure nuclear facility. No joke. We only have a few of them. And we store nuclear warheads there and guess what? She just walked in. All she needed was flashlights and wire cutters.

And Chris Christie shows no mercy.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BURNETT: Our third story OUTFRONT, nuclear break in. So, how did an 82-year-old nun and a couple of peace activists just make their way into one of the most quote, unquote "secure nuclear facilities" in the United States of America? They had flashlights and a wire cutter. And they're now facing up to 20 years in prison.

But their act of defiance is shedding light on a crucial issue. How easy is it to break into a nuclear plant in this country? Easy. David Mattingly is OUTFRONT.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: They were three seasoned anti-nuke activists seeking attention for their message of peace. And they had no idea what they were getting into.

If you had been armed, if you had been terrorists, what kind of damage could you have done out there? SISTER MEGAN RICE, ANTI-NUCLEAR PROTESTER: That is -- it could have begun an enormous nuclear explosion. It could go for 50 miles.

MATTINGLY: Last summer, Megan Rice, an 83-year-old nun, Michael Wally, 63, and Greg Boert Je-Obed, 57, planned to protest nuclear weapons by getting arrested for trespassing on the grounds of the sprawling Y-12 nuclear facility in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. What they ended up doing was supposed to be impossible.

Their journey started off simply enough in this grassy marshy field. They walked under the cover of darkness into those woods and up that hillside where they encounters their first obstacle. It was a chain link fence. Armed only with flashlights and a bolt cutter, they cut their way through and fully expected to be arrested on the spot. Instead, they went on for nearly a mile, cutting through three more fences, breaching what was supposed to be the most tightly secured uranium processing and storage facility in the country.

At any particular time did you think maybe we've gone too far?

GRET BOERT JE-OBED, ANTI-NUCLEAR PROTESTER: When we got to the very high security fence where there is a lethal force authorized, we got to this high-tech fence that we were not going to get through it. And I thought maybe we should turn around.

MATTINGLY: But they didn't. They could have been killed if there had been guards there to see them. They ended up spray painting a wall on the outside of the Y-12 building, splashing it with human blood and sending a chill throughout the country. One congressman called the intrusion "astonishing and completely unacceptable." Investigations revealed "multiple system failures on several levels, and a deeply flawed security culture."

Should we be thanking you?

RICE: Well, the best thing is to join us. That's the best way to thank.

MATTINGLY: But you won't find any gratitude in the official reaction. They're unarmed, peaceful protest with spray paint got them indicted. Accused of attempting to "injure, destroy, and contaminate national defense premises."

Are they accusing you of sabotage?

RICE: Yes.

MATTINGLY: Was this sabotage?

RICE: Of course not. The sabotage is going on by the existence of that sabotage to the planet.

MATTINGLY: Changes at Y-12 today are noticeable. A new security contractor is in charge, new signs and fences are going up. And the three aging protesters who made it happen could be headed to federal prison, if convicted, for 20 years or more.

If you end up spending the rest of your lives in prison, was it worth it?

RICE: Absolutely.

MATTINGLY: Exposing the security lapse was never their intention. In spite of the risks, the experience gave them the stage they were looking for. And a chance to use their trial to argue against the need for nuclear weapons.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BURNETT: David, you know, it's amazing. You think about the issues we're talking about lately with lone wolf, lone wolves and terrorism. And all of a sudden, people are able to walk into where this country stores nuclear weapons. I mean, it's shocking. How much damage could someone do with that kind of access, though?

MATTINGLY: There is always that question out there since 9/11. Do our nuclear sites have what it takes to protect themselves from any sort of armed intrusion? In this case, the answer was loud and clear. No, they weren't able to do that. We were looking at three people who had no training, they had no weapons. They had no special support. Nothing like that. And, yet, they were able to get up to this extremely secure or what was supposed to be an extremely secure facility.

Now, imagine if there had been people there who had training, who had weapons, who were carrying explosives, the damage would have been far, far worse than just a wall with spray paint on it.

BURNETT: Certainly would. And something deeply concerning. Thank you very much, David Mattingly with that investigation.

Still to come, the latest on the Boston terror investigation and why investigators aren't looking for suspects who are surfing jihadi Web sites online.

Plus, the Air Force officer charged with preventing sexual assault has been charged with sexual assault.

And later, a bride to be on her way to the bachelorette party with her friends. The limo carrying them bursts into flames, and five of them die. A horrific tragedy. The driver tells us what happened next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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

And we begin with this just in, an Air Force officer who was the head of the service's sexual assault prevention and response branch has been charged with -- sexual battery. According to the Arlington County police report, Lieutenant Colonel Jeffry Krusinski is accused of approaching a female in a parking lot and grabbing her breast and buttocks.

CNN's Barbara Starr reports the man has been removed from duty. Jennifer Hlad of "Stars and Stripes" tells us in the 2011 report on sexual assault in the military, the Army had the highest number of reported sexual assaults, 2 1/2 per 1,000 service members. The Marine Corps actually had the lowest at 1.3.

Well, the death toll from the horrific building collapse in Bangladesh has reached 657 people. Officials are using heavy machinery now to try to find bodies that at this point are badly decomposed. The building housed garment factories which in the past have made clothing for companies, including the Children's Place and Joe Fresh.

A spokeswoman for the International Labor Rights Forum tells us many of these garment factories are accidents waiting to happen. There maybe -- there are actually are fire and safety standards in Bangladesh. The problem is that nobody pays them any mind.

Well, a U.S. official confirms to CNN North Korea has moved two of its missiles from its launch site into storage. Gordon Chang, author of "Nuclear Showdown: North Korea Takes on the World," tells us that though this is good news, it doesn't mean the threat is over because he says North Korea has made similar moves in the past, just to tamp down pressure than they come out and surprise us with tests later, just like they surprise the U.S. in December.

It has been 641 days since the U.S. lost its top credit rating. What are we doing to get it back? Well, today, the Treasury announced it's going to be selling off more of what we taxpayers own in General Motors shares. Taxpayers, though, are still expected to lose big money on G.M., unlike all the major banks.

And now, our forth story OUTFRONT: The Boston bombing suspect's Internet trail. A law enforcement official sells CNN that investigators believe that Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the bombing suspect who died after a shootout with police, accessed al Qaeda's English language magazine "Inspire" on a computer in the apartment he shared with his wife Katherine Russell. That magazine contained instructions on how to make a bomb.

Joe Johns is in Boston for us tonight.

And, Joe, investigators, I know, are still trying to determine exactly how much if anything Russell knew about what her husband was doing. CNN was told he was the one accessing the material. But does this mean an all clear for her?

JOE JOHNS, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: I think it's stating the obvious that a tremendous amount of pressure has been placed on Katherine Russell and some others as the authorities explore the linkages between individuals who knew Tamerlan Tsarnaev.

But it's clearly good news for her that authorities are saying at this time, what a lot of us have been asking as well, and that is what exactly might she be charged with? They say at this juncture, they really don't know.

So, it looks like they've gone through all the traps and there are some suggestion that's she is cooperating with authorities more than she was this time last week. So, at least for now, it appears that she's in the clear until they find something else.

BURNETT: Right. And, obviously, they have serious questions as it was a small apartment and the bombs were built there, at least according to the official they've given us so far.

I know, Joe, there is also a big controversy over what to do with Tamerlan Tsarnaev's body. The funeral director currently has the body says there may not be a single cemetery in the country that's willing to accept that body. Where do things stand?

JOHNS: Sort of where things stood this morning, quite frankly, Erin. When you think about it, a funeral director saying I've got a body and I need to know what to do with it. He's looked at Cambridge. Cambridge, Massachusetts, said, we don't want that body buried here.

There was some talk about reaching out to the governor of the state, the FBI. The FBI said we don't want to have anything to do with this. The governor of the state said, this is a family matter. This isn't something for the state to do.

So, we're right back at the beginning. And no one has determined where the body of Tamerlan Tsarnaev is going to end up, Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Well, thank you very much, Joe Johns.

And as we learn more about the Tsarnaev brothers, a portrait is starting to emerge that suggests that older brother, Tamerlan, might have been, quote-unquote, "self-radicalized", relying on the Internet to learn his lethal craft. Obviously could have gone overseas and gotten more instruction.

But at least the understanding at this point is that it began with him seeking it out online.

So just how powerful is this online radical jihadi community? And what can the government do or not do maybe the operative word, to track down people who are surfing jihadist Web sites?

Tom Foreman has an OUTFRONT investigation.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The accused Ft. Hood shooter, the convicted D.C. snipers, and now, the suspected bombers in Boston -- these faces represent what some security analysts call a particularly dangerous front in the war on terror.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: One of the dangers that we now face are self-radicalized individuals.

FOREMAN: Self-radicalized is a term for individuals who have no ties to organized terror groups but surf jihadi Web sites, collect information and launch attacks on their own. The idea is frightening for the public, daunting for law enforcement, and may be misleading.

MICHAEL MOYNIHAN, DAILY BEAST/NEWSWEEK: I think that that is a massive simplification of how this process works

FOREMAN: Michael Moynihan with "The Daily Beast" and "Newsweek" went on Facebook, posing as a lone wolf radical. But he wasn't alone for long. Soon, he says he was receiving up to 30 messages a day from radical groups and a barrage of violent images to fuel his supposed fury.

MOYNIHAN: These lone wolves have a pack of wolves out there whom they don't know and who are sort of dotting the landscape in Europe, many people in Africa, maybe many people in the Caucus region who can unite online and become friends.

FOREMAN: Regardless, some in Washington would like to see closer monitoring of all of them, their phone calls, their computer chats and their visits to 5,000 or more terrorist Web sites believed to exist, especially when they download material as Tamerlan Tsarnaev is suspected of doing. That has spurred privacy advocates to push back, saying they're already plenty of laws to handle that murky world. MARC ROTENBERG, ELECTRONIC PRIVACY INFORMATION: You really can't track down every, you know, possibility that all this data generates. So, if you're associated with a terrorist or person who's been engaged or planning to engage in terrorist activities, it's your association with that person that's significant, not the fact that you may have visited a particular Internet site.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

FOREMAN: Still, the idea of self-radicalized terrorists somehow slipping past all of the nation's safeguards is powerful right now. And in the wake of Boston, policymakers clearly want at least some kind of better idea on how to handle that threat -- Erin.

BURNETT: Tom Foreman, thank you very much.

And please, take to Twitter, everyone, and let us know about what you think. If someone is on the Web sites, should law enforcement be able to monitor you or not?

And now to California and the horrific story of a bachelorette party turned deadly, five women including the bride to be lost their lives. Thirty-one-year-old Neriza Fojas was riding in a stretch limo Saturday night with eight of her friends. A fire broke out as they were crossing the San Francisco Bay Bridge. Four of the women and the driver escaped. Before the car was overcome with flames, the rest lost their lives.

Investigators say the limo was carrying one too many passengers but it doesn't seem at that point that was necessarily related. Some said the reports are obviously as can you see there, that the fire started in the trunk and they're trying to determine what caused the fatal blaze.

Our Dan Simon is OUTFRONT tonight with the story.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Erin, we're still trying to get answers as to why that limousine burst into flames and why everyone was not able to escape the vehicle. But we are getting firsthand information from the limo driver himself who talked about those horrifying moments on that bridge behind me. Visibly distraught and tired, Orville Brown set the scene, how he picked up that group and was to take them to a bachelorette party.

ORVILLE "RICKY" BROWN, LIMO DRIVER: I picked up nine women, began in Alameda. We were driving. Everybody was, you know, joyous, beautiful ladies, beautiful occasion. You know, I was happy for them.

We turn on -- we get on the bridge and everything is fine. We're going over the span where it's elevated. And one of the ladies knocked on the partition and she said smoke. And figured she was asking if she could smoke a cigarette?

SIMON: But then brown begins to hear the smoke and hears a frantic call coming from the women. He stops the car right in the middle of the bridge.

BROWN: As soon as I pulled over, one of the ladies hops through the partition. I unlock the doors. I open the door, the lady hops through the partition. And at that time, there's two cars, one in front of us I believe and one in back of us and these guys are trying to help.

SIMON: But apparently there was nothing that could be done to rescue the five women who remain trapped in the car including 31-year-old Neriza Fojas who was supposed to travel to the Philippines next month for her wedding -- Erin.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BURNETT: Dan, thank you.

And a statement we just received from Fresno Community Regional Medical Center where the bride and Michelle Estrera, who was also killed worked as nurses. "Neriza Fojas and Michelle Estrera were exemplary nurse who's dedicated their lives to helping others. These two outstanding nurses were loved by their patients, colleagues, and staff at our hospital. Both were good friends, stellar nurses and excellent mentors who served as preceptors to new nurses."

Still to come, Justice Clarence Thomas makes controversial comments about President Obama. Do they add up?

And scientists say there's a cure for gray hair! Miracles coming up.

And tonight's shout-out, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie versus -- well, you know, it takes a big guy to take on a little guy -- versus a spider. You probably can guess who won this one.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: Where is he? There he is.

(INAUDIBLE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: You got to like it about the governor. I mean, there's no little tap. There is no, what should I do with it? Boom!

The incident occurred while he visited with his daughter's fourth grade class. PETA weighed in, saying, quote, "He probably did it without thinking. Some people put the spider outside but spiders are often scary to people and that can prevent them from pondering their worth." Ah, PETA.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BURNETT: And we're back with tonight's "Outer Circle", where we reach out to our sources around the world.

Tonight, we go to Syria where there are growing concerns about a broader war in the Middle East. The Syrian government told Israel that its air strikes, quote, "open the door for all possibilities." Israel bombed military targets across the Lebanese border Thursday and in Damascus on Sunday.

Fred Pleitgen was inside Syria and I asked him what the government is saying tonight.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FRED PLEITGEN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Erin, the Syrian government is absolutely angry over what happened. They told us they were going to, quote, "retaliate against Israel". It didn't say how they were actually going to do that. And it also accused Israel of working together with Islamist forces to weaken the Syrian government.

It still unclear what was actually hit there outside of Damascus. But I can tell from having been woken up by those explosions, they went on for hours. They were very loud. As if some sort of ammunition dump got hit. The official line here is that it was a military research facility, but some are saying that it might, in fact, be an ammo dump and that region also has a lot of elite republican guard units in them as well.

One thing is clear: the Syrian military has been very much weakened by the attack that took place. The Syrian deputy foreign minister told me that they've been making some gains in the civil war in Syria against the opposition but they believe that these strikes could reverse that momentum and all those gains might be eradicated -- Erin.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BURNETT: Now our fifth story OUTFRONT: a supreme dig at Obama?

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas has some strong opinions about race and running for the highest office of the land. Here's some of what he said. When he was asked if he ever expected to see an African-American president in his lifetime.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JUSTICE CLARENCE THOMAS, SUPREME COURT: The thing that I always knew that it would have to be a black president who is approved by the elites and the media, because anybody that didn't agree with, they would take apart. And that will happen with virtually -- you pick your person, any black person who says something that is not the prescribed things that they expect from a black person will be picked apart.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: Not prescribed things that they expect to hear from a black person.

OUTFRONT tonight, radio host and comedian Stephanie Miller, and Niger Innis, the chief strategist for TheTeaParty.net. Niger, let me start with you, when you listen to those comments by Clarence Thomas, what do you think? Is this the reality that we live in? I mean, what he's really saying here, to parse the words is, if you are black and you don't say things that go along with the media likes and he would say there are liberals, then they're not going to like you and you're not going to win? Or is that just a racist thing to say?

NIGER INNIS, CHIEF STRATEGIST, THE TEAPARTY.NET: No, it's not racists. It just happens to be accurate. I think -- look, I think having worked in newsrooms and the establishment media, I think it's less conspiracy than it is culture. I mean these folks comes from the same elite Ivy League institutions and Northwestern which are dominated by professors that happen to be liberal. They go into newsrooms that happen to be predominantly liberal.

I mean, there have been over a dozen polls taken from Pew Research Center to "The New York Times" and CBS that show that the media -- establishment media, reporters, producers, executive producers slant overwhelmingly 3-1, 4-1 liberal. And consequently, when you have an African-American come forward that breaks from that liberal orthodoxy and the preconceived notion of what they believe that blacks would think, yes, sometimes they pay a deep penalty for that.

BURNETT: But that --

INNIS: I think it's less conspiratorial and much more cultural.

BURNETT: Let me give a follow up here and go to Stephanie. Justice Thomas said a black person would be picked apart if they say something that is, quote-quote, "not the prescribed things others expect them to say." So, what did President Obama say that was prescribed?

INNIS: No, I don't know that. I don't know that he said anything that was prescribed. I think his demeanor, his particular liberal agenda, his particular hope and change message and all of the liberal ideals and ideology that was wrapped up in that campaign, in these campaigns and that agenda is what they expect out of an African- American leader.

BURENTT: Stephanie, why do you think there is this belief by some people that if you're African-American, you need to toe the political correct line, as Niger says, be the liberal Democrat in order to win the approval of the, quote-unquote, "elites" as Clarence Thomas refers to them?

STEPHANIE MILLER, RADIO HOST: Erin, I have one thing to say about Clarence Thomas. Bitter, party of one, your table's ready.

I'm sorry, he clearly had a strong case against him for sexual harassment. He was clearly not the most qualified person to be on the Supreme Court. Obviously, Anita hill made a very compelling witness to a lot of people.

I think he's very bitter about what happened or his wife wouldn't be calling Anita Hill at 7:30 in the morning which is a little weird, to say the least. But if you want to call it the prescribed thing to say, Innis, you mean things that 80 percent, 90 percent of the American people agree with -- background checks, immigration reform, health care, I mean, issue after issue. Is that the prescribed thing that liberals want to hear, or is there a reason he was reelected twice or elected twice in landslides?

BURNETT: I mean, Niger, is the point here less about the president, maybe what Clarence Thomas is saying, or is Clarence Thomas saying look if you're a black Republican, you can't get elected?

INNIS: That's exactly right. I don't think he was saying you can't get elected. I think he's saying there's definitely a double standard.

I mean, look, let's take it away from Justice Thomas and I disagree completely with my colleague, Stephanie Miller. I think Anita Hill was a fraud. But having said that, I don't want to rehash that case.

The point is that you look at Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice, a litany of African-American conservatives or Republicans that get called names such as porch monkey, Uncle Tom, house negro and guess what, they didn't use the term negro. They used something else, and get away with it.

There's this double standard where, on the one hand, the liberal -- the establishment media allows these types of slanders to be asserted at black Republicans and black conservatives and they all operate as a praetorian guard for people like President Obama.

MILLER: Niger, if there was a liberal justice that was white that was appointed that hasn't said anything in 20 years on the court except what he said, except whatever Scalia says, does he just have a stamp that says whatever Scalia says? He's written nothing, he's said nothing. Do you really think he was the most qualified person to be on the Supreme Court?

INNIS: That is actually not you true. Justice Thomas has staked out a position, a conservative position, that is reflective of his conservative upbringing and his life experience that is quite different than Justice Scalia. I completely disagree. But the problem, Stephanie, is that these attacks have not come over the last 10 years. They came viciously against Justice Thomas before he was elevated to the Supreme Court, while he was in the confirmation --

(CROSSTALK)

BURNETT: Hold on. Before we go, we're heavy on time, I want to ask one quick question here.

Former governor of New Mexico Bill Richardson talked about Hispanics. It seems to me highly relevant to this issue with African-Americans. He was talking about Ted Cruz and said, "He's not Hispanic. He's anti-immigration, almost every Hispanic in the country wants to see immigration reform. I don't think he should be defined as Hispanic."

I mean, isn't that the same thing, if you don't agree with what the world sees as the party line for your race, then you don't --

INNIS: I find it --

BURNETT: -- count?

INNIS: -- fascinating, Stephanie and Erin, that it's somehow racist to say that all people look alike but it's not racist to think an ethnic group should all think alike. You know, Governor Richardson is far smarter than those insanely stupid statements that he made in reference to Senator Cruz. There is no party line for racists.

MILLER: I'm happy about Senator Cruz. He's going to help you lose even more of the Hispanic vote next time.

BURNETT: All right. We'll leave it there. Thanks very much to both of you.

Every night we take a look outside the top stories for something we call the OUTFRONT outtake. There is no gray area when it comes to your hair. You either like the grays or you don't.

But if you don't like gray hair, there might be a solution, a miracle. Gray hair has been linked to an excess of natural hydrogen peroxide in the roots of your hair that causes the hair to bleach from the inside out. Now, researchers have noticed that people with high levels of hydrogen peroxide also had low levels of an enzyme called catalase. Now, if patients apparently apply a pseudo catalase cream to their hair and spent time in the sun, their natural hair color return, the grays will die.

As you can imagine, the media went nuts for the announcement. The truth is, it might be too late. The past few years, the stigma behind gray hair has disappeared. More and more people, including some of our top movie stars, have embraced the gray and some of them like George Clooney and our own Bob Hand just wouldn't be the same without that salt and pepper.

But I would go the cream. There's no question about it. Of course, you go with the cream. My only fear is that a cure for gray hair that also says, hey, go out and enjoy the sun, might just be too good to be true.

So, would you go with the cream or go gray? Let us know what you think about the new cure for gray hair on Twitter @ErinBurnett.

And I have to say, though, maybe if I looked like somebody looks with gray hair, actually somebody that makes gray look really bad, somebody that is like the super silver of the world, I might keep it. Oh, there he is.

Hi, Anderson.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: What? Get rid of gray hair? What are they thinking?

BURNETT: I mean, I don't know, but yours isn't gray. Yours is silver. There's something special about it.

COOPER: I like to think I have salt and pepper but I admit I have no more pepper left. It's just the salt. It's a little depressing.

I saw that story, too. I did click on it. I was a little intrigued. I don't know. I don't think I can do it. I think I'm stuck with this at this point.

BURNETT: I think you're one of those people who it looks great with it so you're good.

COOPER: Wow. I don't know. A fetish group for everybody.

Erin, we got a lot ahead tonight on the program which is about five minutes from now.

An outrageous story -- this man, take a look, Air Force Lieutenant Jeffrey Krusinski who was arrested, charged with sexual battery over the weekend. Here's what's so shocking, Krusinski is the branch chief for the Air Force's sexual assault prevention and response program. So, the guy charged with sexual assault prevention is arrested for sexual battery. We'll go to the Pentagon live for more.

Also, of course, to Boston, the latest on the marathon bombing investigation. Where will Tamerlan Tsarnaev be buried? No cemetery in the state or the U.S. wants to accept the body. I'm going to speak with a funeral home director where Tsarnaev's body is currently. He's the one who has to try to figure out what to do with the body.

Plus, this: a prominent neurosurgeon drops dead at age 41. In her system, toxic levels of the deadly poison cyanide. We sent Martin Savidge to Pittsburgh to investigate.

Those stories plus the "RidicuList" at the top of the hour, Erin.

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

And that's it for us. "A.C. 360" starts after this.