CNN CNN


 

Return to Transcripts main page

ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT

Snowden: "The Public Needs To Decide"; Southwest Plane Evacuated, Report Of Suspicious Package; Trayvon Martin Trial Underway; California Gunman's Troubling Past; Core Changes at Apple

Aired June 10, 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, the man who leaked the details about the NSA's top-secret surveillance plan is hiding out in Hong Kong. Is he a threat to sell out America to China? One of the reporters who met him face to face joins us tonight.

Plus jury selection begins in the George Zimmerman trial. How one of his closest friends could hurt him during the trial. We have an exclusive report on that.

And Apple with a huge announcement today, we have the details and of course whether it will be enough. Let's go OUTFRONT.

Good evening, everyone. I'm Erin Burnett. OUTFRONT tonight, hero or threat to national security? It's the crucial question. What were Edward Snowden's true motivations for giving journalists the details of a highly classified American surveillance program? According to Snowden, he's a whistle blower. He did it because he believes, quote, "The government has granted itself power it is not entitled to."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

EDWARD SNOWDEN, LEAKED CLASSIFIED INFORMATION: The public needs to decide whether these programs and policies are right or wrong, and I'm willing to go on the record to defend the authenticity of them and say I didn't change these. I didn't modify the story. This is the truth. This is what's happening. You should decide whether we need to be doing this.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: But not everyone thinks Snowden's actions were in the best interests of this country. At least Congressman Peter King called Snowden a defector, a very crucial word we're going to get to in a moment. He said that what Snowden did was dangerous. So do Snowden's motivations add up?

Ewen Macaskill is one of the journalists who broke this story and met with Snowden face to face in Hongkong and that's where joins us obviously this morning in Hongkong. So good to talk to you, really appreciate you are taking the time. Ewen, I know you've done a lot of travel to have this meeting and this face-to-face with Edward Snowden. Do you at this point know anything about what his end game was, where he planned to go, why he did this? EWEN MACASKILL, "THE GUARDIAN'S" WASHINGTON DC BUREAU CHIEF: In his preparations, he's very careful preparing for the leaking of the documents and preparing to come out. It was all very detailed. He had been thinking about it for years. But this next phase, the phase we're in now, he was almost vague about it. I don't think he actually knew or even cared that much.

His main objective was to get the information about the level of surveillance out into the public domain and then beyond that, he didn't care. He knows he can't go back to America. He knows his relationship with his family is not going to be the same again. I don't know what's going to happen to his partner.

So for him, he's now looking at the options. Maybe he seeks asylum in someplace like Iceland. Maybe he becomes involved in a long, protracted legal process in Hongkong. Maybe the Chinese will take him, he's not sure. But I probably suspect there will be a long drawn-out legal process here in Hongkong.

BURNETT: It's just interesting, Ewen, because, I mean, it would seem that to me if you were going to do something like this and you've been thinking about it for years, you think through those options. What am I going to do next? What am I going to do if they come after me, that that would be part of the thought process?

Maybe I'm wrong. You know, I'm just talking as, you know, trying to put myself in his shoes. Do you think from talking to him that his motives were completely pure? That this really was a I just want information and transparency, the government is doing the wrong thing. Are you confident in that from talking to him?

MACASKILL: I think the question that you raise is a good one. If I come to Hongkong, it's got an extradition treaty with America. It's not the safest place. At any time the authorities in Beijing could swoop down and take him. If he wants to go to Iceland, why not go to Iceland in the first place and leak the documents and conduct -- come out there. So your question is a good one.

But I believe his motivation is pure. I spent the best part of the last week trying to establish is this guy a fantasist, is he for real? After half an hour, I was fairly convinced that, yes, he was for real. As the week went on I thought this is somebody who's very idealistic, has a lot of courage. It's not something you see that often these days.

BURNETT: Interesting. You had that face-to-face time so if that's your impression, that's powerful. There are reports, Ewen, of course, as you are aware of that that he out of the blue checked out of the Hongkong hotel where he was staying and has now disappeared. Do you have any idea where he is and how he plans to do some basic things, like get enough money to move around?

MACASKILL: I don't know his location now. I know he's still in Hongkong. He disappeared, I suppose that's accurate, and he's been in the hotel room in downtown Hongkong for the best part of three weeks. He almost never left maybe three times but just briefly. He had his meals taken to the hotel room.

So he was -- I think he almost expected the knock on the door and it didn't come. Once the media descended when he came out, I think he thought that isn't stable anymore. The media at least are going to find me so he went to another location. As of yesterday morning, he was still in that hotel. As of yesterday afternoon, he had gone.

BURNETT: He had gone. Of course, everyone now, the crucial question now is where is he? Well, thanks very much to Ewen Macaskill joining us live from Hongkong. OUTFRONT tonight, Gordon Chang, author of the "Coming Collapse of China."

So Gordon, you just heard Ewen talking about it. One of the things that does not add up -- why Hongkong? If he's thought about it for years, you think about your escape plan on some level. Hongkong has an extradition treaty with the U.S. They can kick him right out. Why would you pick Hongkong?

GORDON CHANG, FORBES.COM COLUMNIST: Well, you know, he said that he picked Hongkong because it is one of the few places in the world that has both the capability and the will to resist the U.S. It's a great question. Why would you -- if you're running from Uncle Sam, why do you go to a place that has an extradition agreement with us? So obviously he thinks that there is somebody that can protect him.

The only somebody that can protect him in Hongkong is China. So clearly what he's trying to do, he's trying to trade information. For instance, in that video with "The Guardian," he talks about all the stuff that he has not yet disclosed. What he's doing is saying to Beijing, look, I can tell you this if you protect me. If you make sure that Hongkong doesn't --

BURNETT: So I have this information, so basically becoming a spy, an informant for China?

CHANG: Well, it's basically treason.

BURNETT: Yes.

CHANG: So, you know, there's no question about what he's doing. I can't look into his mind, I don't know. But objectively from what he's doing, he's doing everything that you would do if you were going to try to trade information with Beijing.

BURNETT: So when, you know, Ewen is saying he feels like he was idealistic and those were his motives, even if they were to begin with, you're saying at this point you don't buy it?

CHANG: Look, he could be idealistic, but guy burgess, all those guys in England had these really idealized notions of the Soviet Union. This guy probably has idealized notions of China. He said China is not an enemy n of the United States in that interview with "The Guardian." So clearly I think here he is saying, well, look, it doesn't matter, I can trade information with them. You know, they're our friends. This is just a really bad story and it's going to get worse. BURNETT: That's a pretty amazing thing to say. Chris Lawrence joins us from the Pentagon. Gordon, I wanted to bring Chris in. Chris, I know you've been looking into this. How could this person or any person being getting all this top secret clearance to get all this information that he had? He's one of half a million contractors, half a million according to your reporting, who have top secret clearance. I mean, that seems incredible.

CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: It's a big number. I mean, there's a million contractors with clearance, half a million have the top secret clearance, Erin. I spoke with a former NSA official who went through that same background check that Snowden would have gone through. He said it's pretty extensive.

You fill out a form. You have to list your finances, your foreign contacts. You list your friends, your family, then the investigators come in and interview those people that you listed. They develop from those interviews even more people to talk to, so they may be going as deep as three to four degrees of separation from the person that they're initially looking at. They look at your social media sites.

The one thing they don't look at is political affiliations. I've heard it said that Snowden contributed to Ron Paul's campaign. The official said that wouldn't even come into play. But they're using all the information they do get and bring that to bear in the polygraph test. In which case they're looking for honesty, trustworthiness and things like that.

He said, look, it's not full proof and they have to redo it every five years. People's attitudes change, their social circles change and it's possible, without knowing anything about Snowden personally, he said it's possible that perhaps he sailed through his background check with flying colors and then his attitude changed once he got to work.

BURNETT: That's, of course, a crucial question for this country to ask, wherever you fall on this issue, whether you think he was a hero or something more sinister. Thanks to Gordon and thanks to Chris as well.

I do want to give you some information we have just coming in here. A Southwest Airlines flight from Los Angeles to Austin, we're showing it right now a live picture on the runway, has been diverted to Phoenix because of a possible threat. This is a live picture from our affiliate KPNX.

Again, the fact that it has been diverted here on the runway in Phoenix due to a threat is according to the Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport. They have put this on their official Facebook page. Law enforcement officials in Los Angeles requested assistance from Phoenix to check out the possible threat.

The plane has now been isolated. It is not parked near a terminal. Flights at Sky Harbor are arriving and departing as scheduled, but we'll keep you updated on the story when we get an answer as to what is happening on board that Southwest aircraft right now. Still to come, we're just learning about the mental health of a man accused of killing five people during a sudden shooting spree in Santa Monica, California. The crucial question, how did he get a gun in a state with one of the toughest gun laws in the United States of America?

Plus comedian Russell Brand gets serious. He comes OUTFRONT to talk about the situation in Turkey.

And then America is under attack by ants. They're coming and they're going to eat your phone. This is no joke.

And we have dramatic video of a building implosion. That is tonight's shoutout. We shall share.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BURNETT: Our second story OUTFRONT, armed and mentally ill. Tonight, we are learning the suspect accused of killing five people during Friday's shooting spree in Santa Monica suffered from mental health issues. A law enforcement official telling CNN that the 23-year-old John Swafrey was hospitalized a couple of years ago for allegedly talking about harming someone.

This raises the question yet again in this country that has been asked after these horrific recent mass shootings, do lawmakers need to focus more on mental illness when it comes to stopping gun violence.

OUTFRONT tonight, radio show host Stephanie Miller and our contributor, Reihan Salam. Stephanie, let me start with you because we've been talking so much about this issue. How people with mental illnesses have been able to get access to semiautomatic rifles. James Holmes in Aurora, Colorado, Adam Lanza in Newtown, Jared Loughner in Tucson, Arizona, all of these people it appears very clearly had mental issues.

What should the gun control debate be right now, Stephanie? Keeping guns away from the mentally ill or limiting the sale of semiautomatics?

STEPHANIE MILLER, RADIO SHOW HOST: Well, you know, I think both, Erin. I mean, I remember the last -- you know, in Newtown, we all said I think we all need to get away from our entrenched positions. It is mental health and guns clearly. But you know I think we need to point out that the vast majority of mentally ill people, Erin, do not hurt anybody.

You know, in fact in Newtown the debate was the vast majority of people with Asperger's what Adam Lanza has are much more likely to hurt themselves than anyone else. So I think we have to be careful about demonizing just the mentally ill.

I think it is a deadly combination of mentally ill people getting access to -- you know, this guy had zillions of rounds. And as you said, AR-15 type weapon again. So I think we have to look at every part of it. BURNETT: Reihan, he did have 1300 rounds of ammunition.

REIHAN SALAM, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Yes, it's obscene. It's also true, however, that a week ago you had Debbie Stabenow, the senator from Michigan, the Democratic senator from Michigan who is at the White House conference on mental health and she has legislation, the Excellence on Mental Health Act that is backed by Marco Rubio and Roy Blunt, and action on mental health has been supported by a number of other Republicans like John Cornyn of Texas, real, rock ribbed hardcore conservatives who don't favor having tighter restrictions on assault weapons and what have you, but who did say, look, we need more resources for community mental health centers.

We need more resources for teachers to detect these problems early on.

MILLER: Right. Hey --

SALAM: And in my view had you taken that action on mental health earlier on that would have gone much further because that's an area where Republicans and Democrats are eager to work together by focusing on what is essentially a symbolic issue --

MILLER: Hey, guess what, Reihan?

SALAM: -- then you actually weren't able to get the compromise that we needed to get something done.

BURNETT: Stephanie.

MILLER: Guess what really helps get some stuff done on mental health? The Affordable Care Act, which every Republican voted against. They have voted to repeal 37 times. I'm just reading an article in the "L.A. Times" today.

SALAM: That's another thing that damages mental health.

(CROSSTALK)

MILLER: About how it requires depression screening.

SALAM: Economic.

MILLER: It is really helping.

SALAM: There are many other things, too, so if the Affordable Care Act has other negative consequences, well, we have to take that into account as well. Mental health is a complicated issue.

MILLER: It expands mental health.

SALAM: I think if the Affordable Care Act would solved it --

MILLER: Every Republican voted against it.

SALAM: You're absolutely right.

MILLER: Every Republican voted against it.

SALAM: They voted against for fear that it actually undermined the growth prospects of this country and actually do a lot of damage.

BURNETT: Which is a fair but separate conversation. I just don't want to get into a debate on the Affordable Care Acts.

But let me ask you something, Stephanie, that's important here because backgrounds checks is something that I know Democrats have been pushing for. And by the way, the majority of Americans support. In this case, though, it appears that this man, this young man, John Zawahri, had been hospitalized a couple of years ago. We talked to the state of California. They're very clear.

If you've been taken into custody, assessed or admitted to a designated facility, which he was, for a period of five years you can't get a gun. So he, at least this suggests, would never have passed a background check. So if -- but he got a gun anyway. That's my point. Background checks don't necessarily stop this.

MILLER: Well, you know, Erin, again, you know, this is what happens. In every single case someone goes, oh, well this wouldn't have stopped that or that wouldn't have stopped that. Couldn't all of this help? I mean, you know, again, Republicans have voted repeatedly to cut funding for mental health. So I'm just saying, yes, it is all a piece, but the problem is the gun lobby makes sure that guns are never any part of the discussion.

Even background checks, which as you just said a huge majority of the American people are for. I mean how can we not even get that done at a minimum?

SALAM: I believe we had a conversation of background checks for many months and ultimately it floundered. Why did it flounder? Because there's a deep difference between folks who live in cities and suburbs and those who live in rural America, and we happen to have a political system that empowers people who live in rural areas so you have to respect their opinions.

And I think that if you look at mental health, there actually was a pretty broad bipartisan consensus that something could be done yet we had a distracting conversation exclusively about assault weapons that I think was very foolish.

BURNETT: Well, Reihan, there's also a quarter of adult Americans suffer from mental health according to the National Institute of Mental Health every year. So if we were to start saying, well, we're just going to deal with that, to Stephanie's point, you demonize those people or you stigmatize those people. The vast majority of --

(CROSSTALK)

SALAM: This is not about stigmatizing people, this is about getting people the help they need earlier rather than later. The truth is that even if we do expand funding for mental health, we are not going to prevent every single incident of this kind there. And I think that's something that we actually really need. You know, there has to be some level of maturity and restraint.

Legislation is not going to solve all of these problems. There's always going to be this kind of danger in a free society. But we can take steps to mitigate this danger by getting people the health treatment they need.

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

And of course, as always, we know a lot of you care a lot about this issue. Please, let us know what you think on Twitter and on our Facebook page.

Still to come, George Zimmerman's trial. It is now formally under way. A trial the world will be watching. The friend who advised him on buying a gun might hurt him in court. We have a special and exclusive report on him.

And Apple's big announcement.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PHIL SCHILLER, SR. VP FOR WORLDWIDE MARKETING, APPLE INC.: We can't innovate any more my ass.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BURNETT: Our third story OUTFRONT, core changes for Apple. So today the company unveiled what CEO Tim Cook calls the biggest change to Apple's mobile operating system since the introduction of the iPhone. That's a big deal. And you just heard him say to critics, we can't innovate anymore? My -- yes.

The company also rolled out a redesigned MacBook Air with an all-day battery. That's pretty battery. And a new music streaming service called iTunes Radio which supposedly is to fight competitors like Pandora and Spotify . But is this enough to boost Apple's buzz?

OUTFRONT tonight, Molly Wood. She covers consumer electronics for CNET.

And Molly, I mean, I guess the big question is, did the company go far enough? I mean, when we played that little sound bite of Steve Cook, I mean, obviously he's defensive against a lot of the criticism the company has been getting for not being as edgy and innovative as it used to be.

MOLLY WOOD, EXECUTIVE EDITOR, CNET.COM: Yes, they are definitely on the defensive. I know that they are frustrated. Tim Cook has said that he's frustrated about the company's stock price slide and I have to say that today's event was, you know, in football terms, it was sort of a workmanlike performance. I say they moved the ball forward but there were no fireworks. There wasn't anything so dramatic that you're going to see a big spike in that stock price tomorrow. No way. BURNETT: And on the stock price, I mean, let's just talk about that, right? This was a company that became the biggest company in America and it just kept going and going and going. Everybody wanted to buy it. Over the past year, the stock has fallen 20 percent. Samsung, which a lot of our viewers may now own Samsung -- Samsung Galaxies, for example, has gained more than 12 percent.

Do investors really think Samsung is a more innovative company than Apple now?

WOOD: You know, I don't know that it's so much about innovation as it is about expectations. Samsung with those Galaxy phones has managed to surpass the iPhone in terms of global sales but also the expectation of Apple is that they are a company that has changed the world twice over legitimately with the PC and then with the iPhone.

It's really hard to keep being the company that changes the world. And so they may be doing very solid product improvements. Today was definitely -- you know, we saw improvements.

BURNETT: Right.

WOOD: We just didn't see massive innovation, despite what Phil Schiller said on stage.

BURNETT: This is sort of like, you know, hey, Apple, meet Microsoft. You used to make fun of them, right? But they get it done. They just aren't that sexy.

(CROSSTALK)

WOOD: And you know it's not -- exactly.

BURNETT: And what about the --

WOOD: And they've got a ton of money isn't the worst thing.

BURNETT: Right. And they do have a lot of money.

WOOD: You know the radio --

BURNETT: And what about the radio service? Is that -- that's a totally different thing. Like we're going into offering these new services, or radio for example, competing against new companies. Is that smart or sort of just a random shot in the dark?

WOOD: You know, it's kind of -- again, that's almost a natural evolution of iTunes that frankly should have been there for years. You could only buy music with Apple's music service while the entire industry was moving towards streaming and Apple didn't have any streaming. So to me this is sort of an add-on that if anything completes the product.

It's not an evolution, it's not any better than any of the competition. So you know it felt like, again, they got it done. I'll give them a passing grade but I'm not going give them that much more based on what I saw today.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, appreciate it.

And still to come, the man who shot and killed Trayvon Martin is getting his day in court and the world is watching. But one of George Zimmerman's closest friends could hurt his defense. We have an exclusive report.

Plus comedian Russell Brand comes OUTFRONT getting serious.

And America under attack by these. This is a close-up of a very powerful pincer. Look at those jaws. That is an ant that is coming for you.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BURNETT: Welcome back.

We start the second half of our show with stories where we focus on our reporting from the front lines. So I want to begin in Philadelphia tonight where a judge has denied bail for a crane operator charged with six counts of involuntary manslaughter in last week's building collapse. We're also learning more tonight about the lead-up to the collapse. A spokeswoman for the city's licenses and inspections department tells OUTFRONT the contractors are required to contact the city for an inspection prior to the start of a demolition. In this case, the contractor did not, failed to contact the city.

And an update tonight on Ariel Castro, the man indicted on 329 counts for allegedly holding three young women captive for 10 years. CNN has learned tonight that Castro is set to be arraigned on Wednesday. Among the charges, 139 counts of rape and 177 counts of kidnapping. The indictment alleges Castro used chains, tape and a vacuum cord to restrain the women.

CNN legal analyst Paul Callan tells us Castro is likely to enter a plea of not guilty but says that that could be changed to insanity in the future depending on the defense's strategy.

About a month ago, you may remember, we told you with great joy about a giant rubber duck docked in Hong Kong that was captivating people of all ages. How could this not captivate you?

Well, you know what? We became a little obsessed with the story and we have learned tonight OUTFRONT that the United States is getting a rubber duck of its own. Beginning on September 27th, we can report the rubber duck will make its American debut in Pittsburgh during the Pittsburgh International Festival of Firsts. I guess it's the first inflatable yellow duck that is that big in America.

Anyway, the question is how is Hong Kong going to get the duck here? Are they going to deflate the duck and send it over? That's what you would think, right? I mean, you can't sail the duck across the Pacific.

Well, the answer is this. An exec tells us a new duck is made for every city so the artist has already sent Pittsburgh the plans for a 40-foot tall, 35-foot wide duck. And the company contracted to build this duck -- well, the inflatable artist who built last year's floating duck, Andrew Carnegie, of course.

It has been 676 days since the U.S. lost its top credit rating. What are we doing to get it back?

Well, we're just a step closer and this is a significant development. We celebrate that Standard & Poor's today raised its outlook on the American government's credit rating to stable from negative. Now, the rating is still AA plus, OK? We don't have AAA back.

But raising that outlook to stable means there is a less than one in three chance that the agency will cut the rating any time soon. So, let's keep going, guys. However you want to get there. Cut spending rates, taxes, we're not going to get involved in that, let's just do it.

And now our fourth story OUTFRONT: the Trayvon Martin murder trial is under way.

Today, George Zimmerman came face to face with the potential jurors who could decide whether he'll go to prison for killing 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.

So, for a lot of today, here's what happened: lawyers from both sides began the task of narrowing down a pool of 500 potential jurors. They need to get to just half a dozen with four alternates. A potential panelist had to answer a questionnaire that from our understanding focused on race and what they had heard about the case.

OUTFRONT now, Trayvon family attorney, Benjamin Crump.

And good to talk to you. Appreciate it, Ben. It's been a while but I want to ask you about this because, obviously, this jury selection process is crucial, 500 people.

A lot of jurors may have been exposed to information in the media that is not going to be admissible in court because of all the coverage this case has received over the past year. For example, text messages that have come out about Trayvon Martin's alleged marijuana use. Those are not going to be admissible in court but many jurors may have been exposed to them.

How do you think those sorts of things will impact whether this is a fair trial?

BENJAMIN CRUMP, TRAYVON MARTIN FAMILY ATTORNEY: Well, Trayvon's parents believe in the jury system. They have faith that the jury will follow the court's instruction and the law and base their verdict on the evidence. And that being said, Erin, absolutely all that irrelevant information that was released by the defense team to taint and pollute the jury pool hopefully won't be successful and the jury will give a verdict that's fair based on the evidence.

BURNETT: And in terms of the verdict, Zimmerman's brother came out and talked about why he thinks his brother will be acquitted. And I just wanted to play you his main reason. Here he is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERT ZIMMERMAN, GEORGE ZIMMERMAN'S BROTHER: I can tell you as a family, we're very confident in the outcome of the case and we're very confident that the state will not be able to meet its burden. And it's a two-fold burden here in Florida. Not only do they have to prove that this was a murder as they allege. They also have to prove simultaneously that it could not have been self defense.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: That obviously, Mr. Crump, is the difficulty, right? The defense --

CRUMP: This is not a hard case, Erin. This is not a complicated case.

If you would change the dynamics and you had a 28-year-old black man get out of his car and chase an unarmed white teenager and shoot and kill him, nobody would say this is a difficult case. The evidence is overwhelming to hold George Zimmerman accountable for killing Trayvon Martin.

The only thing his family prays is that the jury just follows that evidence. It is all there and the evidence is George Zimmerman's words himself. Go back and listen to his many inconsistencies, his physical impossibilities how he said this happened.

BURNETT: Well, but to your point on that, what about other inconsistencies. You're apparently going to have to answer questions under oath about witness number eight. For our viewers, that's the young woman who is believed to be on the phone with Trayvon Martin moments before his death who heard him calling out for help, right? She could be a crucial witness.

And she initially claims --

CRUMP: She's not the star witness. George Zimmerman is the star witness. But I can address that, Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Yes. So, let me make sure so viewers understand the background on her. She claimed to be in the hospital on the day of his funeral but that turned out to be a lie. She was not in a hospital.

So her credibility has also been called into question.

CRUMP: Well, Erin, witness number eight allegedly told an untruth about whether she went -- was in the hospital so she wouldn't have to go to a funeral and see Trayvon dead. George Zimmerman allegedly told untruths about why he shot and killed Trayvon Martin causing him to be dead.

Which one is more relevant? The jury will have to decide that, and I think once they think about those two things, it will be rather clear what's relevant and what's not.

BURNETT: All right. Well, Benjamin Crump, it's always good to talk to you and thank you very much for taking the time.

One of George Zimmerman's best friends could also complicate Zimmerman's defense. Mark Osterman came to Zimmerman's aid the night that he shot and killed Trayvon Martin. The account that he says Zimmerman told him about what happened that night doesn't add up to some of Zimmerman's later statements.

David Mattingly is OUTFRONT with the story.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): When George Zimmerman was worried about an aggressive neighborhood dog in 2009, he decided to buy a gun and went to his friend, Mark Osterman, for help.

(on camera): Did he tell you why he wanted this gun?

MARK OSTERMAN, ZIMMERMAN'S FRIEND: No. He didn't tell me why.

MATTINGLY: Did it seem like he was afraid --

OSTERMAN: No.

MATTINGLY: -- that something may have happened?

OSTERMAN: No. The thing was, was he had felt that once he gets married -- once you get married he said that he possibly changed his perspective in life and that he was responsible not just for himself anymore but for his wife.

MATTINGLY (voice-over): Osterman, a federal law enforcement officer, helped Zimmerman weigh the pros and cons before he settled on a thin lightweight 9 millimeter. It was easy to conceal, easy to carry. And acting on Osterman's advice, Zimmerman carried it everywhere.

OSTERMAN: Always. He carried it always. I -- the one thing I did tell him for the reason for doing that was if it is on your person, it can't be anywhere else.

MATTINGLY: It was on Zimmerman's person the night he encountered Trayvon Martin. And he told Osterman how Martin grabbed the gun during their fight.

OSTERMAN: According to what he told me was when the head bashing on the concrete stopped and Trayvon reached for the firearm that was at his side, grabbed ahold of it, that snapped him out of that and he snapped out of that tunnel vision. He was able to smack the hand away from the firearm and that's when he drew the firearm and fired.

MATTINGLY: Osterman wrote about it in a book, quoting Zimmerman, "Somehow I broke his grip on the gun where the guy grabbed it between the rear sight and the hammer. I got the gun in my hand, raised it towards the guy's chest and pulled the trigger."

And this is where the problem lies for George Zimmerman, because comments quoted by his friend, Osterman, do not match what Zimmerman told police.

Listen to what he says as he walks investigators through the crime scene.

GEORGE ZIMMERMAN, MURDER DEFENDANT: And he reached for it, but he reached -- like I felt his arm going down by my side and I grabbed it and just grabbed my firearm and I shot him one time.

MATTINGLY: In multiple recorded interviews, Zimmerman never tells police that Trayvon Martin ever touched his gun.

ZIMMERMAN: I felt him take one hand off my mouth and slide it down my chest and I just pinched his arm and I grabbed my gun and aimed it at him and fired one shot.

MATTINGLY: DNA testing seems to agree. There was no trace of Trayvon Martin's DNA on the gun's grip. Prosecutors list Osterman's book with Zimmerman's conflicting account as potential evidence, possibly to challenge Zimmerman's credibility.

As for his connection to the gun Zimmerman was carrying, Osterman says it's hard to answer the question does he feel regret.

OSTERMAN: So I would wish it would have never happened. However, the reason why George had it, it was not for malice. He didn't have it to go out and commit a crime of hunting someone down and harming them. It was for self protection. And I'm glad that that firearm was used to protect George.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BURNETT: And, David, so if he really is George Zimmerman's best friend, how does Mark feel at this point talking about your reporting being a possible witness for the prosecution?

MATTINGLY: Well, not only is he on the prosecution's witness list, he's also on a list for the defense. But as far as what he has to tell them, he says it's possible he may have got it wrong, but in his mind, the idea of someone grabbing a gun or grabbing for a gun, he says he doesn't see a difference here and he still believes that his friend, George Zimmerman, was defending himself.

BURNETT: All right. David Mattingly, thank you very much.

So as you know, every night we take a look outside the day's top stories for something we call the OUTFRONT "Outtake," and tonight, it's about the crazy ants, because they are a coming.

Yes, this is their technical scientific name for the species of ants. The tawny crazy ant is originally from South America. Tawny must come from its lovely, reddish, spindly hairs. Look at those teeth. First spotted in the U.S. in Houston in 2002, the species has now spread to Florida, Mississippi and Louisiana.

The tawny crazy ant is very invasive, infesting homes, vehicles (AUDIO GAP) yes, phones. Just last year, the crazy ant caused $150 million worth of damage in electronics in Texas alone. Yes, they go in and eat your phone.

People we spoke to think it's either the heat or the magnetic field they're attracted to. I don't know but this is pretty amazing natural selection. There's a lot of phones around to eat. So, all of a sudden, ants want to them.

So, here's what happens. The crazy ant squeezes inside smartphones and laptops and then munches on the wiring. It's really good for them for a while. Sometimes, though, they get electrocuted. And when that happens, though, that's not the end of it. It may be for that one little tawny ant but when the ant dies it lets off a special stink that attracts other crazy ants because there's good food in there.

So, then, the entire device is full of ants and they eat it all up before they get electrocuted. It's a huge problem with no end in sight because -- this might amaze you -- pesticides that kill most ant species do not work on the crazy ants.

Now, despite all of the problems, I can't decide how I feel about these ants, because sure, they seem like a biological weapon that emanated from the pits of hell -- talk about axis of evil, right? Maybe they're heaven sent. It's the universe's way of telling our gadget crazy society chill out, people, you should talk on the phone a little less, you don't need to talk so much, put it down, turn it off.

You know what? I'm rooting for the ants.

Still to come, actor, comedian and activist Russell Brands gets serious. He joins us next.

But first, tonight's shout-out. This is incredible. This is a building implosion. I want to show it to you. It's 11-story building on New York City's Governor's Island. It was blown up over the weekend. Look at that.

That's how it should be done, people. It used to house Coast Guard families but hadn't been used since 1996. It wasn't up to code. So they decided to destroy it.

And our shout-out goes to the demolition experts because they brought down that 45-year-old building -- watch this -- in 10 seconds, people. And no one was injured.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BURNETT: Our fifth story OUTFRONT: Russell Brand, actor, comedian, activist. Like us here at OUTFRONT, Brand has been paying a lot of attention t what's been happening in Turkey right now with anti- government protests. Today, they continued for the 11th day running. Turkish riot police fired tear gas in a demonstration in Ankara. That was an attempt to disperse hundreds of protesters. And this unrest has been continuing despite an agreement from Turkey's prime minister to meet with the leaders of the protest on Wednesday.

Russell Brand joins me now live and in living color here in the U.S.

All right. Great to see you.

So, you tweeted back on June 3rd about what was happening on Turkey and a lot of people were surprised why you're tweeting about it. You wrote, "Our leaders, our trusted servants, not our masters."

Now, you're known for being an actor. I know you've been to Turkey and your representatives say they didn't know you had any real attachment to the country before this, but it's important to you. Why?

RUSSELL BRAND, ACTOR: Well, I have been to Turkey but I have no particular affiliation with that nation. But the principles for which they are protesting I happen to agree with, in that public space was being reclaimed for corporate use. Their government not behaving in accordance with their principles under which they were elected and a powerful symbol of the Turkish people has been in their minds to some degree desecrated.

BURNETT: And so, the president of Turkey, I mean, it's such a complicated situation, he was democratically elected, a lot of people who are very conservative who support him, and now, you have these protests. So for someone like you trying to decide to take a stand on an issue, how do you make that decision? I mean, are they going about this the right way by having protests or not?

BRAND: Erin, yes. I think protesting and activism and direct action where appropriate and when nonviolent I think is very, very positive. It's not like making a decision to take a stand. Maybe I'd feel a bit different if they had come to the square and start kicking off.

I've been tweeting a few things because I happen to generally agree with people being active against governments that are oppressing them and not correctly representing them, particularly in an issue where public space is being taken, particularly where a regime is oppressing people in a way that's quite palpable and tangible where people feel like they have had enough.

But I don't think this is only happening in Turkey. It seems like it's happening everywhere about.

BURNETT: It does seem like it's happening everywhere. And this is something that you wrote about an op-ed, you wrote in "The Sun", and this is an op-ed you wrote about the horrific.

BRAND: What it's called, op-ed.

BURNETT: Op-ed. An opinion column, we call them op eds. BRAND: All right. I just learned a whole new word.

BURNETT: It's all whole slang term.

BRAND: I've done an op-ed. Like a plenty more op-eds (INAUDIBLE) as well. I'll do one in a minute.

BURNETT: So, you wrote about it, and --

BRAND: In an op-ed, known about it for ages (ph).

BURNETT: You wrote, blame this on madness, not on Muslims, and you were talking about the horrific beheading, of course, that happened in London. You got a lot of criticism for this.

BRAND: Did I?

BURNETT: You did.

BRAND: Why?

BURNETT: People were hitting you up on Twitter and you fought back. But why do you think that? Why do you think --

BRAND: Perhaps it was photograph of me in that tank top.

(CROSSTALK)

BURENTT: You look a little like a mugshot, I have to say.

BRAND: When I saw me, I knew it myself. That face is annoying to see. I can't tell you --

(CROSSTALK)

BURNETT: Oh, yes, I see the straps.

BRAND: Well, (INAUDIBLE) is that -- I think what happens, when something of this nature occurs, a tragic violent event, immediately afterwards, a narrative is formed, blame is designated. Opinions we feel around us. I think it's important that we are cautious not to generate more conflict, particularly if the conflict generated fulfills the agenda of the perpetrator of the crime.

I thought the fellow that did that crazy murder, that afterwards, if he knew mosques were getting burned, he would think brilliant. This is a successful technique for generating conflict.

BURNETT: More hate going on between Muslims and non-Muslims.

BRAND: That doesn't seem to help anybody.

Also, I think the people that are powerful, be they powerful media conglomerations like this one we're currently on right now, or the people that govern us, they have an interest in people on the lower rungs of society, I mean us, being opposed against one another for, you know, very -- reasons of varying severity. Of course, I'm not saying that the murder isn't tragic and awful, I'm just saying we don't necessarily need to take the stated reason a person says they kill someone that seriously.

BURNETT: This is a serious issue you deal with in Britain. We're dealing with here in the U.S. I mean, you're dealing with this in Britain perhaps in a more tangible way, which is the role of Muslims in society, right, and whether they can be anticipated integrated or not.

BRAND: I'm not dealing with that, I think you can integrate and incorporate anybody as long as those people are peaceful and loving. I don't think there's anything in Islamic faith that predisposes people toward acts of violence and the people I know that are Muslim are cool. That's not the deciding factor.

I think by constantly exacerbating our awareness, by heightening our awareness at these differences, it causes conflict. The majority of all people are very relatively cool. I say get the extreme people on the Christian right, get the extreme Muslims, get the extreme everybody.

BURNETT: Put them all in a room.

BRAND: Let them go to some crazy island and do extreme stuff. And the rest of us would chill out.

BURNETT: It would be a much better world. I have to say that's a good solution.

BRAND: That is a bit like a concentration camp, so we probably shouldn't do it. As a theory, it's OK. Everything is OK as a theory.

BURNETT: And just explain, people look at you, they know you as an actor, comedian. I know you for all these things. But yet you're choosing to speak out on these issues, how come?

BRAND: Because I care about those things and comedians, some say the function of a comedian is to bring humorous information into public consciousness. Just telling jokes, I don't have any direct solutions other than the one in my own life, which is treat people kindly, and try not to put my own selfish urges ahead of compassion.

BURNETT: All right. Well, Russell Brand, thank you very much. It's a real pleasure to meet you. Thank you for coming in.

BRAND: Nice to meet you. (INAUDIBLE) have your shot and lean in to your shot.

BURNETT: That's what we tell them, don't lean in, you're not allowed to lean in but, you know --

BRAND: Good luck in Tehran.

BURNETT: Thank you very much. Very excited about that.

BRAND: Your husband is a lucky and possibly crazy man.

(LAUGHTER)

BURNETT: If he's watching, he'd probably agree with both things. Thank you.

BRAND: Pleasure.

BURNETT: All right. And now, let's check in with Anderson Cooper with a look at what's coming up on "A.C. 360".

Hey, Anderson.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Hey, Erin. Yes, we have much more on the NSA leaker ahead on the program. We're going to dig deeper to exactly how this guy, Edward Snowden, a high school dropout, earned trust of the highest levels of the intelligence community and then spilled its secrets. Also, what are the government's options for prosecuting snow? And should he be prosecuted?

We'll speak with senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin, along with former CIA officer, Bob Baer. We'll also speak to Julian Assange, who has a very different opinion.

Also, close encounter with a killer. Before this surveillance video was taken of a heavily armed gunman about to open fire at Santa Monica College, the gunman John Zawahri, shown there, carjacked a woman to drive him -- to drive him right to the campus. My exclusive interview of what those moments were like with the weapon pointed at her as the terror spree unfolded.

Those stories also tonight's "RidicuList", a lot more at the top of the hour, Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Thanks very much, Anderson. We'll see you in a few moments.

And a preview of my trip to Iran that Russell just mentioned is OUTFRONT next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BURNETT: Iran is at the center of almost every international story. Even our top story tonight, the government surveillance of Americans is kind of about Iran.

According to "The Guardian" newspaper, the National Security Agency shows that in March of this year, in one month, the agency collected 97 billion pieces of intelligence from computer networks worldwide. The country from where most of that intelligence was gathered, Iran, with more than 14 billion reports in that month alone. Yes, it's billion with a B.

Is the American government paranoid about Iran or is there more to it? This week, we want to pull the curtain back on Iran. The presidential election for the country is on Friday, and so many crucial issues from nuclear power to Syria's civil war depend on it, it matters for America.

Well, any of the seven candidates make a difference in how Iran is run? Almost every single one, they have close ties to the supreme leader, Ayatollah Khamenei. One of the favorites is the current negotiator Saeed Jalili, whose slogan is "No compromise, no submission, only Jalili."

Another favorite, Hassan Rowhani is a cleric, he's talked about constructive interaction with the world. But what does that mean? We're going to be there.

It's an OUTFRONT special live from Iran, Thursday and Friday night. We'll see you from Tehran.

And, finally tonight, you get to pick what CNN covers. It's a new initiative called change the list. Just go to CNN.com/changethelist, couldn't make it easier for you, pick the five stories you think need to change the most and we'll send opinion columnist John Sutter (ph) to cover the story.

Thanks for watching as always. See you later this week from Iran.

"A.C. 360" starts right now.