Return to Transcripts main page
ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT
White House Releases Benghazi E-mails; Interview With Rep. Peter King; The Cost of Keeping Gitmo Open
Aired May 15, 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, breaking news: President Obama announces a shake-up at the IRS. The man at the top, gone.
Plus, more breaking news, with the White House releasing more than 100 pages of internal e-mails regarding the attack in Benghazi.
And shocking new details tonight about the abuse of three women held captive in a Cleveland home. One of them called a human punching bag. An investigation, let's go OUTFRONT.
Good evening, everyone. OUTFRONT tonight, we begin with breaking news, the Benghazi e-mails have been released. There are a lot of them. Under intense pressure from members of both parties, the White House has now released more than 100 pages of e-mails detailing the back and forth between the CIA, the State Department, and the White House in developing those talking points about the deadly attack on the American diplomatic compound in Benghazi.
Now here are the e-mails. These e-mails were first obtained here at CNN by Jake Tapper. We've read through them word for word here. They detail the evolution of the talking points used in the days after the attacks by members of the administration to talk to the media about what prompted the attacks and what was happening on the ground.
Now as I said, I read through every single one of these. There are still a lot of questions, but this phrase spontaneously inspired by the protests at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo. That crucial phrase is here in every iteration. In these e-mails, no one questioned it. It is unclear if anyone questioned it separate from these e-mails that have been released.
Obviously, knowing the conversations around that designation is absolutely crucial. We do know, though, that initial version of the talking points stated, I want to quote it here, "we do know the Islamic extremists with ties to al Qaeda participated in the attack."
Now the final version of the talking points as we can see here in the e-mails a much shorter version, reads this way, "There are indications that extremists participated in the violent demonstrations." Those may sound similar to you. Let me be clear about the difference.
The word attack is now the word demonstrations, which is obviously very different and the words al Qaeda are not there. Now the White House has long maintained that it made only one edit, which by the way it is very clear that edit main by Ben Rhodes is here. Now the stylistic change is what they say it was and not a substantive one.
They changed the word consulate to diplomatic compound. So who should be held responsible for the substantive edits which were made? Are there key more documents the White House has yet to release? Because even though this looks like a lot of pages, clearly there were other conversations.
And most importantly does this document dump exonerate the White House? That is the crucial question. We have a team who has been pouring over these documents from every angle, everything is covered tonight. Jessica Yellin, our chief White House correspondent is here with me. Dana bash, our chief congressional correspondent and Gloria Borger, the chief political analyst for us here at CNN.
Jessica, let me start with you, with the perspective from the White House. You've had a chance to read through these. I know it at first it's difficult. You're figuring out when they have to block out the names from the CIA to interpret what this means. What were the key takeaways from the documents to you?
JESSICA YELLIN, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, a couple points, Erin. First of all, those two most controversial changes that you point out were, in fact, made by the CIA, not by the White House, which underscores what the administration has been saying all along, that they did not make those changes that they have been blamed for all these many months.
And that the CIA made them because the CIA wanted to protect the, as they put it, the integrity of the ongoing investigation so that's consistent with what the administration has said all along. Now that helps the White House. On the flip side, there is still fodder in all these e-mails for the critics.
For example, there is an e-mail as I first reported on Friday that the State Department took issue with the fact that the attack was blamed on an al Qaeda affiliate. State Department did not want that out and that came out of the final version of the talking points.
No doubt critics will hold that up to say that was politically motivated. Now I should point out that CIA director, we're told, the CIA deputy director agreed with that change. So bottom line, Erin, there's plenty in these e-mails for both sides to make their case, which means this issue isn't going to go away any time soon.
BURNETT: No, absolutely. And, of course, John Boehner has already requested more data. On that note, Dana, Speaker Boehner's office, you know, I'm just looking at the note here from Spokesman Brendan Buck that we all received, right, saying we hope this limited release of documents is a sign of more cooperation to come. They want a lot more information.
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: They do. But we should also remind our viewers that as late as today, this morning, John Boehner had a press conference where he was demanding the White House do exactly what they did tonight. So, you know, we should make that point clear because this is exactly what he was asking for. But you're absolutely right, Erin. That they're saying that this is not enough, he said this is not enough. They believe that there are other, in their words, "relevant documents" that the White House still won't produce, but they're saying this is a hopeful sign of things to come. That's the process.
Talking about the substance, Jessica is, of course, exactly right on the fact that critics are saying well, they think this proves some of their points. The most specific issue in here is Victoria Nuland at the State Department e-mailing, this is first on Friday, e-mailing saying that she wanted things taken out because of concerns about leadership in the building.
Republicans here still insist in reading these e-mails that that was for a political reason. What we don't know, as you mentioned, it's very important to point out, Erin, we don't know the conversations that went on offline, not an e-mail, on the phone, that could fill in some of the holes here. But this is what we have and this is what Republicans were demanding.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Erin --
BURNETT: Right. You know, it's interesting -- yes. Go ahead.
BORGER: You know, what this really does is it kind of lifts the veil on what was going on internally in the bureaucracy there between the CIA and the State Department. I mean, what we can say now, what we didn't know then is that Benghazi was really a CIA outpost, more CIA people there than State Department people there.
And what Victoria Nuland was saying was first of all, we have to be consistent when we declassify things. I don't want more information to be in these talking points. I've been able to say from the podium at the State Department. But also, a lot of this detail would have implied at the very least that the State Department had not been doing its job in policing Benghazi.
And so what you really have here is sort of a group grope, right? Trying to figure out what they can say because the former OK director goes to the Hill, testifies privately. The folks on the Hill say to him, we would like to be able to say some of that publicly. He says I'll get back you to.
So then this gets dumped in the lap of all of these people who are trying to decide what they can release. The White House's main point is this was not political. It was really driven by intelligence.
BURNETT: Again, Gloria, I have a question for you just on that front. You know, of course, Victoria Nuland's e-mail, she of course being the spokeswoman for the State Department, page 37 of these e-mails. She talks about the ultimate point, which was the point where at that point the talking point said there had been multiple warnings of terrorist attacks.
She says it could be abused by members of Congress to beat the State Department for not paying attention to warnings. Why do we want to feed that either, question mark, concerned. As you said, there are things in this e-mail that could exonerate the White House, but that line itself does come off as very political.
BORGER: Well, first of all, it speaks to the distrust for members of Congress, almost as much as anything else. And I think there really was a fence of, wait a minute, this isn't our place. This is your people. It's not the State Department. It's the CIA.
And so by giving the sense that there were all of these warnings and we should have known about it is something that I think she felt was unfair. I mean, her argument is always -- this was not for political reasons, but just for the fact that she was protecting her turf and she couldn't say it from the podium. So why put it in the talking points?
YELLIN: Erin, as demonstrated by how political this whole process has become, I mean, Victoria Nuland was concerned about what has happened. And officials you talk to here will emphasize that the talking points -- the e-mails were just, you know, she phrased that badly. It was clumsy.
But they say this is a sort of process they go through with many, many, many talking points every single day. And it just -- they don't really focus on how they're wording it. So these e-mails they thought might clean up -- clear up the facts that they weren't trying to be strategic or political for anybody. It's just a process.
BASH: And the one thing I would point out, Erin --
BURNETT: Do you think we'll get -- go ahead, Dana.
BASH: To point out the whole reason why they're having the conversations even drafting these talking points is because it was a request specifically from here in Congress. A senior Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee wanted them to give members of the committee, Republicans and Democrats what they can say to the media. It was an issue of what is classified and what's not. Not what is politically accurate and what's not.
BURNETT: Right. All right, thanks to all three of you. Of course, raises the questions to those of you thinking about this. Imagine if there were talking points like this put out after the September 11th, 2001 attacks, the back and forth that you'd see, the warnings, things like that. You can realize how incredibly complicated this is whether the administration is a Republican or a Democratic one.
OUTFRONT next, we have much more on this breaking news though, Congressman Peter King is a member of the House Homeland Security and Intelligence Committee. He asked a lot of questions about this. Is he satisfied?
Plus, the other breaking news that we are following tonight, the big move at the top of the IRS, the boss gone, President Obama took away his job.
And new details on the investigation in Cleveland tonight, police back at the home where the three women were held captive for years. They have removed more items from the home and backyard. Our Marty Savidge investigates.
BURNETT: Back with breaking news tonight, after intense pressure, the White House has just released about 100 pages of e-mails that detail the back and forth between the CIA, the State Department and the White House as they discuss the controversial talking points surrounding the attack on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi.
OUTFRONT tonight, Representative Peter King of New York, he is on the House Intelligence Committee. He's been one of the outspoken on this issue demanding transparency. Good to see you, sir.
Congressman, I know you've had a chance to read through these e-mails. I've had a chance to read through them. Are you satisfied these are the answers that you need and that they have given all the information?
REP. PETER KING (R), NEW YORK: Well, first of all, they haven't given all the information. There are thousands of pages of e-mails. But even allowing just for these 100 pages, to me this makes it clear in the final result, these were not CIA talking points. For instance, on page 61, you have the CIA public affaIRS office saying we revised these talking points because of State Department concerns. The changes were made because the State Department, not because of what the CIA wanted to do.
And page 95, you have the director of the CIA, General Petraeus saying, I'd just as soon not use this. You have the director of the CIA say he would rather not even use these talking points. But he said in the end it's the final call of the National Security Council. So, these were not a CIA product. They were revised dramatically.
And also, as you mentioned before, all of our references of al Qaeda were taken out. You have Victoria Nuland saying she wanted the references to al Qaeda taken out because she said there is not enough evidence for her to defend that from the podium. There also wasn't enough evidence to defend the fact that these -- that this attack resulted from a spontaneous demonstration, yet she wanted that kept in. So every doubt was resolved in favor of the administration's narrative that this was a spontaneous demonstration caused by a video.
BURNETT: And Congressman, let my follow up on that point. Because as you point out, Victoria Nuland, the spokeswoman for the State Department did raise a lot of concerns, right? She didn't want the warnings in there which of course, CNN's reporting neither did Mike Morrell. Also saying don't blame Ansar al Sharia when we're not sure. And I can't say that from the podium.
But there is also another question I have to you, which is from the very beginning of this e-mail, Congressman King, the sentences in here that these attacks in Benghazi were spontaneously inspired by the protests at the U.S. embassy in Cairo. Nobody at least from these emails, from any part - not Petraeus, not the CIA, no one questions that. Is it possible that that is indeed what the CIA thought?
KING: Well, let me tell you. I can't say what General Petraeus said at the first hearing. But I can tell you he came back to testify on November 16th after he left the CIA. And it was reported in the media that he said that from the very first moments, he believed this was a terrorist attack. And obviously we know what the State Department people on the ground said, that it was a terrorist attack.
I believe that there was a narrative put out by the White House early on, which has worked its way in from the start. Because Petraeus himself said later on he thought it was terrorists from the start. We know testimony from people on the ground that they thought it was terrorists. We know Ambassador Stevens thought it was a terrorist attack.
So, again, I think this raises questions about the CIA - CIA. And you also have Mike Morrell making the changes apparently over the objections of David Petraeus, who's the director. So, how does Morrell, the number two guy, get to make the changes when the director thinks these changes should not be made?
BURNETT: There does seem to be some discrepancy there. But it also seems, I mean, to ask you the question, are we ever going to find out who put the words in "spontaneously inspired by protests at the U.S. embassy in Cairo"? Because, of course, by this trail, it appears that's what the CIA was done with and handed over for conversation. So, it appears to back up the White House's assertion that that came from the CIA.
KING: I agree. That's the way it's there. But again, if you go back to what General Petraeus said after he left the CIA -
BURNETT: It doesn't match.
KING: -- he thought it was terrorists from the start. Now, if he thought it was terrorists from the start, and this is a question I asked, if he thought it was terrorists from day one, why did his initial talking points refer to it being a spontaneous demonstration? Was there White House interference from the start? Because again, the two just don't jive, especially when we hear testimony of those who are on the ground, which the CIA had to have access to.
BURNETT: And one final question, sir. Does this change your view on whether Hillary Clinton should be taking more of the blame? Obviously, the one person requesting -- again, from the e-mail that's we have which are incomplete but yet there are 100 pages of them -- the one person requesting the changes in e-mail is the spokeswoman for the State Department. Does that then go back to Hillary? Do you blame Hillary Clinton more? Or is that an unfair thing to do?
KING: No. I have a great regard for Secretary Clinton. But I think she'll have to answer in detail why this happened. You know, was she in contact with Victoria Nuland? Was she the one dealing with her directly? Did this happen below her level? How did this all come about? Obviously, Secretary Clinton is a key player here, and she'll have to explain what happened and why it happened and was Victoria Nuland acting on her own? Where did that come from? Why was she so intent on removing al Qaeda? Why were they so definitive about that when there was -- again, going back to the original CIA talking points, if the spontaneous demonstration was in there, so was the references to al Qaeda. Why did one come out and the other stay?
BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Congressman King.
KING: Erin, thank you.
BURNETT: Yes, all right. We appreciate your time very much. Thank you, sir.
And we have more breaking news next. President Obama decided to take a head of the IRS, a big change at the top. Filing the investigation that found the agency was targeting conservative groups.
Plus, an OUTFRONT investigation into the cost of keeping Gitmo open. Does that price tag add up?
BURNETT: Our second story OUTFRONT, breaking news. The acting commissioner of the IRS gone. Technically resigning. In an angry statement to the media, President Obama announced that the acting commissioner, Steven Miller, agreed to resign over revelations that's the agency targeted conservative political groups for greater scrutiny over their tax exempt status.
Jim Acosta joins me. As viewers of this show know, he has been following this story intently. Jim, you just got the letter that the Treasury secretary, Jack Lew, wrote to Steven Miller. Clearly this administration trying to show they are angry, they are P.O.'ed about this scandal. What else does the letter say?
JIM ACOSTA, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Erin, I mean, this is a letter you don't see released very often in Washington and to the public. I'll show it to you right here; this is it. This say letter from the Treasury secretary, Jack Lew, to acting IRS commissioner Steven Miller. And it says, "While I very much appreciate your many years of loyal service at the IRS, I find it necessary at this time to request your resignation." Short and to the point. And another sign that the president is starting to get serious about this scandal.
ACOSTA: With a growing chorus of criticism that the president only offered a weak response to political targeting at the IRS, Mr. Obama seized the moment to get tough.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Today Secretary Lew took the first step by requesting and accepting the resignation of the acting commissioner of the IRS because given the controversy surrounding this audit, it's important to institute new leadership.
ACOSTA: At a congressional hearing on the widening scandal, attorney general Eric Holder vowed to follow the facts wherever they lead.
ERIC HOLDER, ATTORNEY GENERAL: Anybody broken the law will be held accountable.
ACOSTA: House speaker John Boehner already has the punishment in mind.
REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), HOUSE SPEAKER: Now, my question isn't about who's going to resign. My question is it who's going to jail over this scandal?
ACOSTA: Republicans are furious over an inspector general's report that found the IRS inappropriately targeted conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status. Roughly one-third of the organization's targeted by the IRS had the words Tea Party, Patriot or 912 in their names.
But as it turns out, liberal groups also received extra scrutiny. Austin-based Progress Texas tells CNN it received an IRS questionnaire similar to those sent to Tea Party groups. That's not likely to satisfy some Republicans. Florida GOP senator Marco Rubio accused President Obama of creating a culture of intimidation that led to the IRS abuse.
SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), FLORIDA: These are the tactics of the third world.
ACOSTA: Some Republicans argue Democrats have been raising questions about the tax-exempt status at Tea Party groups for years. Just last year, a group of Democratic senators wrote the IRS commissioner asking whether the agency "is investigating or intends to investigate tax exempt political groups." Democratic senator Max Baucus says the concern was always bipartisan.
SEN. MAX BAUCUS (D), MONTANA: Some of my friends across the aisle are claiming the IRS was just doing what Democrats wanted in examining the conservative groups. Let me clear up this misperception. I, for one, have never advocated targeting conservative groups.
ACOSTA: Many in Congress fear current laws would only lead to firings for the IRS officials involved in the scandal. Ohio Republican Mike Turner wants to change that.
REP. MIKE TURNER (R), OHIO: We want to make it a felony so we don't have this again. Our goal here is that penalty be high enough to stop the activity.
ACOSTA: And President Obama will be facing more questions about this. He is scheduled to hold a news conference at the White House at noon tomorrow. And Republicans leaders on Capitol Hill say putting this resignation aside of the acting commissioner of the IRS, they're still planning to hold several hearings on this scandal over the next several weeks. Erin?
BURNETT: All right, Jim Acosta, thank you very much. Another big issue facing the president.
And still to come, we have new, late-breaking details about what the three women went through in Cleveland where they were held captive for a decade. Who got the preferential treatment? Who was treated like a quote, "human punching bag'?
Plus, an exclusive look at the crisis in Guantanamo Bay. Our OUTFRONT exclusive series continues. An investigation tonight into how much of your tax dollars are going to keep Gitmo open.
BURNETT: Welcome back to OUTFRONT. We start the second half of our program tonight with stories where we focus on our reporting from the front lines.
There is a lot of breaking news tonight including a jury reaching a verdict in the second phase of the Jodi Arias murder trial. It only took an hour and a half for them to find that Arias was cruel when she stabbed, shot, and nearly decapitated her ex-boyfriend, Travis Alexander in 2008.
Now, that word "cruel" was crucial. They had to agree on that and do so unanimously to open up the possibility of a death sentence. Now they've done that, they can choose death. That's the next phase of the trial.
But our senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin says the next stage is a lot more complicated challenge for the prosecution because they have to show Arias deserves no mercy. That last phase is expected to go on for about a week.
Now, today marks exactly one month since the Boston marathon bombing, and while it was day of remembrance, a new controversy is brewing. Thirteen deputy fire chiefs say their chief didn't show leadership that day.
Today, Mayor Thomas Menino addressed their letter of no confidence in which they alleged Chief Steve Abraira has become a spectator at emergency scenes. Menino says his fire commissioner is looking into the allegations and will need answers before deciding what to do. Abraira meanwhile defends his actions to us, saying he ultimately takes responsibility for what goes on at these scenes.
It has been 650 days since the United States of America lost its top credit rating. What are we doing to get it back? Well, stocks started down today, but they ended the day with yet another all time high.
And now our third story OUTFRONT: we have new details late breaking to night about Ariel Castro, who is accused of holding three women captive for more than a decade. According to his attorneys who spoke to CNN's affiliate WKYC, Castro plans to plead not guilty and they are planning for trial. This comes as the city of Cleveland just moments ago honored the first responders who helped rescue Michelle Knight, Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus from Castro's home last week.
We are also learning more about how the women were treated while they were being held captive.
Our Martin Savidge is OUTFRONT tonight in Cleveland with the latest.
MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A family friend of one of the victims says accused kidnapper Ariel Castro abused all three captive women. But seemed to be especially brutal to Michelle Knight, using her as his main, quote-unquote, "punching bag", that allegedly was Castro's first victim and held the longest inside the home on Seymour Avenue.
According to the friend, Castro would hit Knight with all sorts of objected including hand weights. And as a result, the woman suffered vision loss, joint and muscle damage, as well as other problems. The same source says Castro Amanda Berry slightly better than the others, presumably because she gave birth to a child that DNA tests show Castro fathered.
All three women have been described as underweight.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, I think that the initial portrayal by the media has been one of a, quote, "monster" and that's not the impression that I got when I talked to him for three hours.
SAVIDGE: Speaking to CNN affiliate WKYC, an attorney for Ariel Castro says the community and media have been too quick to demonize him.
So how will Castro plead?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It will be a not guilty plea.
SAVIDGE: Castro's 25-year-old daughter Emily, who is serving time in Indiana for attempting to kill her own baby, told a private investigator she, too, saw strange things inside her father's home but had no idea he was holding three women prisoner. The private I recorded her account of a conversation she had with her father.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
EMILY CASTRO, ARIEL CASTRO'S DAUGHTER: I was like, can I, you know, sleep upstairs in my old bedroom? He said, no, because it's cold up there. It's blocked off. You know, dusty and so I just was like, OK.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
SAVIDGE: Detectives were back at Castro's home today, removing four motorcycles from the backyard and loading them into trailers.
Police also could be seen struggling to carry out a five gallon jug filled with pocket change. One more odd sight from a home that for more than a decade kept its secrets locked up.
SAVIDGE: Erin, I had a conversation a prosecutor's office, that's the Cuyahoga County prosecutor. And I was wondering just where do things stand when it comes to a grand jury and charges. They say right now, this case is under investigation and it has, as yet to go to a grand jury. It is expected charges will come, many more of them and more serious charges.
As you already heard, his attorneys say they will plead not guilty -- Erin.
BURNETT: Big development, a concern we reported at least when he had initial conversations had admitted to much of this.
All right, Marty Savidge. Thank you very much.
And now our fourth story OUTFRONT: Gitmo's growing tab.
So tonight, the calls continue to grow louder and louder and louder for the military to stop force-feeding the 100 detainee who's have been on a hunger strike for about 100 days. We're learning now not only how much money is being spent and wasted because of the current standoff with detainees, but also how much taxpayers, that's you and me, are shelling out to keep this prison hope.
Our Chris Lawrence is at Guantanamo Bay with unprecedented access. He's been given this access and been reporting live for us all week on this exclusive series. He has more tonight in an OUTFRONT investigation.
CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The workers still cook three meals a day for Guantanamo Bay's detainees.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's the detainee breakfast.
LAWRENCE: And up to 100 hunger strikers send them back, wasting thousands of dollars a day.
President Obama signed an executive order to close Gitmo on his second day in office. More than four years have passed and the president's smiling face is still posted at the prison's headquarters.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I continue to believe that we've got to close Guantanamo.
LAWRENCE: It costs taxpayers about $25,000 a year to keep someone in federal prison. At a super max high security prison where convicted terrorists are held, the tab can top $60,000.
(on camera): Sounds expensive until you compare it to what it costs here at Guantanamo Bay. (voice-over): It cost $900,000 per prisoner, per year to hold detainees. So each man in Gitmo is equal to the cost of operating three months of White House tours, four Guantanamo detainees will pay for training one new Air Force pilot.
CNN got exclusive access inside the cell blocks of camps five and six.
(on camera): But what we don't see here is camp seven, the ultra secretive compound where Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and other high valued detainees are being kept. It's totally off-limits to the media. But it may hold the clue to what the Obama administration really has planned for Gitmo.
(voice-over): Officials won't divulge details on potential renovations to camp seven.
COL. JOHN BOGDAN, JOINT DETENTION GROUP COMMANDER: I'll simply say there is a need. I mean, the facilities are in need of upgrade and replacement.
LAWRENCE (on camera): The military is asking for $50 million to build a new camp seven. Does that suggest that this isn't closing any time soon?
BOGDAN: We have to always plan to conduct that mission from this point into, you know, the future. Policymakers will decide when that mission is over.
LAWRENCE (voice-over): Gitmo's former chief prosecutor says on going renovations suggest it's here to stay.
MORRIS DAVIS, FORMER GITMO CHIEF PROSECUTOR: If this continues to the end of the Obama administration, we'll spend another three quarters of a billion dollars to keep these people at Guantanamo.
LAWRENCE: So why is it so expensive? Because the U.S. has very little relationship with Cuba. So all the food, supplies, manpower, the lawyers, all have to be brought in by boat or plane. So do the construction workers.
And because all of this was built to be temporary, things are constantly wearing out or breaking down and, again, you've got to import all of those construction crews -- Erin.
BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much. Just incredible those numbers and just laying them out that way, I never heard it quite that way before. And it certainly is stunning.
Well, next, we have more on the breaking news tonight. The White House releasing about 100 pages of e-mails about the Benghazi attack, the acting head of the IRS booted. Will this be enough to silence the president's critics or does he have too much scandal to survive?
Plus, why an American state is set to ban the sale of an incredibly popular car.
And saving lives through technology used to fight war.
BURNETT: Move over, France. There's a new hot bed of socialism and it's name is the great state of North Carolina. This week, the North Carolina State Senate unanimously passed a bill which makes it illegal for a car company to sell cars without a visible store.
Now, the lawmakers behind the proposal say without that law, online car dealers have an unfair advantage over traditional car sellers, which brings me to tonight's number: 49. That is the number of Tesla Model S cars that were registered in North Carolina during the first quarter of the year. Make no mistake, the North Carolina bill is about one company and one company only, Tesla Motors.
Since January, Tesla has sold 4,750 cars and turned a profit. Now on the car count, it outsold BMW, Mercedes, and Audi. Just today, Tesla shares surged 7 percent after the close of trade when the company's founder put another $100 million into the company.
And Tesla has done all of this without a middleman, i.e., a physical dealer. As you can imagine, that has other car companies and dealers really upset.
Look, lately, we talk about Tesla. I can't imagine waiting an hour to recharge my car in the long road trip. But even if you don't want a Tesla, you have to respect its way of doing things.
Think about this: in the past few years, book shops and big box stores have been replaced and face real competition from companies like Amazon and Google. Online eye ware companies cut into bricks and mortar optometry.
This is life. This is what happens. Tesla should be celebrated for what it is doing.
A few nights ago, we told you about a proposal in France to tax smart phones. They were going to do that to try to help traditional broadcasters compete.
The bill in North Carolina is kind of the same thing. We have to say this, it's time for lawmakers in France and North Carolina to realize that innovation cannot be stopped. Legislation should not be the answer.
And now, let's check in with Anderson Cooper with a look at what's coming up on "A.C. 360".
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Hey, Erin. Yes, we're live from Boston for the hour.
We return to the city where one month ago, the Tsarnaev brothers allegedly detonated the two bombs that touched nearly every member of the community. That was one month ago, including Adrienne Haslet- Davis. You remember her, a dance instructor who's leg, the left leg, had to be amputated below the knee.
I spoke with her in the hospital a week after the bombing. She's incredibly courageous. We're going to revisit her and her vow to dance again ahead on the program. I talked to her just a few hours ago. I'll show that you interview and see how her progress is.
Also, the investigation into the night the authorities tracked down the Tsarnaev brothers. Our Drew Griffin has been digging on this. There is a lot that we haven't known about that shootout on the street that night. Drew joins me ahead.
All that and, of course, the president's late evening statement about the controversies engulfing the White House, the IRS investigation and the attack on the U.S. embassy in Benghazi. That's all ahead at the top of the hour -- Erin.
BURNETT: All right. Anderson, looking forward to seeing new Boston in a few minutes.
And now, our fifth story OUTFRONT, the breaking news. Tonight, the White House making two major announcements. First, releasing those nearly 100 pages of e-mails detailing the back-and-forth between CIA, the State Department and the White House, showing how the so-called talking points about the U.S. -- about the attack on the American compound in Benghazi changed over time.
Now, that, of course, came from intense pressure from Republicans. And while it's a lot of pages, it is not all the pages.
Then, a short time later, President Obama made a very terse statement about the IRS targeting conservative groups and saying the acting commissioner has resigned. Resigned, of course, after being demanded to do so by the treasury secretary.
The question is, you've got these scandals, you've got the Department of Justice targeting one of the most important media organizations in this country without a subpoena on its phone records -- will any of this quiet the critics?
OUTFRONT tonight, CNN contributor Reihan Salam and radio show host Stephanie Miller.
Great to have both of you with us.
Reihan, obviously, the president moving tonight aggressively to get rid of the head of the IRS, saying I do not tolerate. They put out nearly 100 pages of e-mails. They are trying to make all this go away. Will it work?
REIHAN SALAM, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I am very skeptical, partly because the concern is that if you saw this happen here in the IRS, if you saw this happen vis-a-vis "The Associated Press, there are deeper concerns about whether or not they've taken a slip shot attitude towards surveiling other organizations and what have you.
So, this is fundamentally going to raise a lot of questions. They insisted for so long that there was no there there.
And so, I think this is actually going to be blood in the water. It's not going to be Republicans. It's going to be media organizations that are no longer going to take statements made by the White House at face value.
BURNETT: Stephanie, do you agree? Is this just blood in the water?
STEPHANIE MILLER, RADIO HOST: You know, Erin, I got to say, if I hear one more Republican say this is worse than Watergate, it's worse than Watergate. I mean really? Pick up a history book.
First of all, this acting director was a Bush appointee. The reason we don't have a real director is because Republicans have obstructed appointing one like everything else they've obstructed. The IRS blew the whistle on themselves.
Think about it, Nixon, you know, that was a Nixon plan. He authorized who had to do audits against.
I mean, look, there is an explosion of Tea Party groups after Citizens United. This was not done correctly, Erin. But this is not even close to Watergate as John Dean has said.
BURNETT: Well, Stephanie, it's interesting. You know, Dana Milbank wrote in "The Washington Post" an interesting take on this, right, saying, you know what? You're right. This is not like Watergate. It's the opposite.
It's -- Watergate was a control freak president. This is a president who doesn't seem to have control over anything at all. Everybody seems to be running rampant and doing whatever they want.
The implication being it's just as bad, just different.
MILLER: Well, I mean, Erin, look, let's look at "The A.P." thing. If this were a Republican president, Republican would have said, oh, those sissies at "The A.P.", this is national security. Who cares?
I mean, they're just is a double standard. I mean to have Dick Cheney say oh, this was lies and this was a cover-up. Don't even get me started on the Bush administration in terms of -- I mean, he's talking about Benghazi?
I mean, as the president said, really, there was a three-day cover up before they said this was an act of terror? I mean, it's like, come on. This is ridiculous.
SALAM: David Axelrod made a very astute observation recently on, I believe it was MSNBC. He said that part of the issue is that the government is so vast, that there is no way for the president to be held accountable. And I think that when you think about it more deeply, it really is true. That the government is so vast, that it's difficult for any one man to really surveil its authority and abuse of its authority.
But, of course, President Obama has sought to expand the writ of government on all kinds of ways. I think that's part of why you have a lot of conservatives who are reacting to this set of scandals, because that I think, again, these are folks who say that, well, maybe the scope of government is already sufficiently broad that we shouldn't rush to expand any further.
Those are some of the deeper issues raised we have been seeing over the last couple weeks.
BURNETT: All right. Thanks very much to both of you.
I have to say this, though, it does seem Republican or Democrat, the other side always does seem to see the blood in the water and that's a big frustration in the whole system.
All right. Next, how technology used by fighter pilots used to kill people is actually saving lives in the most incredible way you can imagine.
BURNETT: So, every night, we take a look outside the day's top stories for something we call the OUTFRONT "Outtake". And when post people think search engine at this point, they think Google. Remember, when George W. Bush made it a verb?
But if a new start-up succeeds, that could change, at least in Vietnam. A newly launched Russian Vietnamese company is set to spend $100 million over the next five years to try and steal away a chunk of the 97 percent of Vietnamese web surfers who currently use Google, 97 percent.
It's a bold idea, and if successful, one that can be repeated around the world. Think globally, search locally sort of thing. Of course, a bold idea like this needs a bold name, which is why the company finally settled on Coke-coke or Coc Coc. We're not 100 percent sure.
But Coc Coc is a rough translation of the English phrase "knock, knock," as in, "who's there?" Designers believe Coc Coc can tell you exactly who's there, because their site better understands the nuances of the Vietnamese and therefore their information will be more relevant.
So, we tested it out. Earlier today, one of our producers searched for my name on Coc Coc. Instead of information about me or the program, it was PhotoShopped pictures of my head on other women's bodies.
So, we decided to search for people that are relevant in Vietnam that we talk a lot about on this program that Coc Coc will know. Since the company is half Russian, we started with a search for Vladimir Putin, which returned perfectly a Wikipedia page and then various articles about his amazing exploits.
Next, we tried to search for Prince Harry. That returned a bunch of gossip stories about his love life and his recent trip to the U.S. Pretty fair, right?
And finally, we searched for Prince Albert and Coc Coc did a lot better than Google.
So, it sounds like an old joke, right? A neurosurgeon and two ex- Israeli officers walk into a coffee shop. But what happens next is no punch line. It was a chance encounter that has turned an old idea developed to prepare fighter pilots for battle into an innovative new idea that could save lives.
BURNETT (voice-over): Engage, outmaneuver, and eliminate enemy aircraft. The mission of a fighter pilot is often deadly. Training is vital.
To prepare pilots, flight simulators were developed to they could practice before a critical mission. Now this 100-year-old technology has inspired an entirely new idea that could save lives. It's called surgical theater.
In 2010, Dr. Warren Selman, neurosurgeon-in-chief at University Hospitals in Cleveland overheard retired Israeli soldiers Moty Avisar and Alon Geri talking about flight simulator technology in a local coffee shop.
DR. WARREN SELMAN, UNIVERSITY HOSPITAL NEUROSURGEON-IN-CHIEF: They actually design the flight simulator for the F-16. I mean, I thought, wow, that is like the most technically complex thing you could do.
BURNETT: Selman wondered if doctors could rehearse surgery in the same way a fighter pilot rehearses a mission.
SELMAN: When I overheard them talking about flight simulators, it just sort of clicked, and I said why can't we do this for surgery?
BURNETT: Selman says he has often found himself flying blind when performing operations on the brain, because he can't see behind vital arteries.
SELMAN: The key is to figure out which aneurism clip will best fit it and how do we best approach the aneurism. And previously, the only way we had to do that was sort of in our mind's eye. Now, in surgical theater, we're actually able to reconstruct that aneurism in 3-D in the surgical theater, rotate the images and tough have the similar tools that we're going to use at the time of surgery.
BURNETT: With surgical theater, the surgeon is able to practice until he finds the best way to stop an aneurism in its tracks, as Selman demonstrates.
SELMAN: What this allows us to do that I can't do in any other way other than imagining it, is actually go into the image and rotate it. Let's take a look at that. So there you see, it looks like we've got both aneurism -- both tines are well beyond the aneurism dome here. We've got the dome secured and you can see that this back vessel we were worried about so much is opened, as well as the front vessel.
BURNETT: Dr. Daniel Barrow is chairman of the Department of Neurosurgery at the Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta, Georgia. He says surgical theater is an important advance.
DR. DANIEL BARROW, CHAIRMAN, EMORY UNIVERSITY'S DEPT. OF NEUROSURGERY: This is a goal that has been present in the field of surgery for many, many years, and is finally coming to fruition. Every time I've seen it, it gets better and better. And I anticipate that in the near future, this is something that will be more widespread.
BURNETT: Selman hopes that other surgeons will agree, and embrace this new idea.
SELMAN: We're trying to help even the most gifted surgeon to be able to do what the most gifted basketball player does, football player, golfer, jet pilot, anybody, rehearse for the critical mission.
BURNETT: In the interest of full disclosure, we want to note, Dr. Selman does have a financial interest in surgical theater, the company he created with his Israeli colleagues.
Thanks so much for watching.
A special edition of "A.C. 360" from Boston starts right now.