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ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT
Sources: Al Qaeda In Final Planning Stages Of Plot; Snowden Gets Job Offer In Russia; Cashing In On Spy Stories; Disgraced Former CIA Chief Rebuilds Career; Michelle Knight Returns to House of Horrors
Aired August 2, 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, al Qaeda rising, an increase in terrorist chatter. The State Department to close 21 embassies in the Middle East. How significant is this threat? Plus new developments in the Whitey Bulger trial, authorities now know how that potential witness was found dead.
And Ariel Castro who held those three women captive, one of the women today chose to return to the house and actually wanted to go inside. We have that story for you.
Good evening, everyone. I'm Erin Burnett. OUTFRONT tonight, developing story, a major terror alert, CNN has learned that al Qaeda is in the final stages of planning a terrorist attack. The threat comes from al Qaeda in Yemen. The State Department has issued a global travel alert to American citizens abroad and plans to shut down 21 American embassies and consulates in the Middle East and North America on Sunday.
Let's begin with Barbara Starr at the Pentagon as our coverage of this developing story continues. Now Barbara, obviously, this warning is broad, never heard of anything quite so broad before. How much more do you know at this point?
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Erin, what our sources are telling us here at CNN is that the threat centers around al Qaeda in Yemen. They have been watching a threat stream and they call it not the usual threat stream, for several weeks and in recent days, it began to come together. And they really do feel that they have a very, serious credible threat from al Qaeda in Yemen.
The question on the table, of course is, is it directed at a target in Yemen, a lot of specific concern about the U.S. embassy in Yemen, other embassies in Yemen, but now you also have this broader threat that they're addressing by closing embassies across the region so a lot of concern. Some people are saying, look, it's an abundance of caution after the Benghazi attacks. They want to make sure they do everything they can. But I have to tell you very senior officials are telling us that they believe this threat is very credible -- Erin.
BURNETT: Obviously, Benghazi, given what happened there, they want to be more than alert and one of the things in Benghazi, Barbara, as you know is we've been reporting for the documentary we have next week is that U.S. troops were not on a high alert level when that attack happened so they were able to get in, in time, right. It took them longer to scramble. Are U.S. troops at this point ready to go in an instant?
STARR: Well, there have been a lot of changes in U.S. troop disposition since Benghazi and part of what happened at Benghazi was they didn't have anybody close enough to make a difference. They didn't have a target they could really attack per se. Things are very different now. You have several hundred Marines in the region. You have Marines on board ships in the Red Sea.
You have Marines in Southern Europe, Spain, and Italy, several hours away by air, all of those Marines now regularly in the region for just this kind of situation. But positioned, Erin so they could go anywhere from Libya to Egypt to the Persian Gulf, to be able to go as many places, because the big problem in a terrorist attack is you may not know ahead of time where it's coming from.
BURNETT: All right, Barbara Starr, thank you very much. Barbara has been reporting on this developing story from the Pentagon. I want to bring in now our intelligence security analyst and former CIA operative Bob Baer along with the former Supreme Allied commander of NATO Retired General Wesley Clark.
All right, thanks so much to both of you. Let me start with you because obviously, a threat in and of itself isn't unusual, but one of the scale closing 21 embassies, pretty much a blanket warning across an entire region, that is unprecedented. What do you think they're looking at?
ROBERT BAER, CNN INTELLIGENCE AND SECURITY ANALYST: You know, it is, you know 21 embassies and consulates is a lot. This is really sending a message that we're under serious threat. I take it seriously. The worldwide travel, you know, warning is also very serious. I think they probably picked up some very good chatter, very specific that something's going to happen this Sunday. At the same time, they can't say whether this is a misdirection. That they're planning actually to attack someplace else, maybe in the United States, maybe in Europe. It's hard to tell, but they're obligated to put this warning out.
BURNETT: And General Clark, let me ask you about what Bob just said. It may happen somewhere else. I mean, this is an unprecedented sort of thing that's just happened, right? So it's one thing or the other, right? The U.S. government either does know what they're planning and is doing this blanket because they don't want the terrorists to know that they know or the U.S. government is afraid, but they don't know where themselves where the terrorists might strike will be. Which do you think it is?
GENERAL WESLEY CLARK, U.S. ARMY (RETIRED): Well, we don't know right now. But my guess is that we know a little bit more than what's being said publicly. Obviously, if we've got lines on what the terrorists are saying, we may be able to deter it. That's good, better if we can take the terrorists out. We don't know what the ultimate play is here. But I've got a lot of confidence in the people who set this up behind the scenes in the State Department and in the Pentagon. I think we've got a lot better grip on this than we did during Benghazi. We're ready for it. I'm sure there's a lot more than just Marines standing by so I think it's the prudent thing that the administration has done.
BURNETT: Bob, what about the timing. You know, they're saying they're doing this on Sunday because they have a specific threat. Sunday, obviously is just before the end of the formal fasting time in the Muslim faith of Ramadan, which could be significant, but it's not at. It's before it ends. So what about the specificity of that day? Because there's another question I have. The terrorists just readjust and do it another day, or to your point, in another place in the United States. Would they be able to from what you know about al Qaeda to have that flexibility and to shift?
BAER: They've got the flexibility, but I think the intelligence has picked up a specific date. That's why they mentioned it. It's a graphic warning, and it's a warning they can't let pass in case something happens. But on the other hand, they're certainly prepared to look at this to see if the attacks pushed back. It doesn't have to be in Yemen. Remember before 9/11, the alerts for the first month were about attacks in Turkey, and of course, they happened in New York and Washington. They're looking at this right now to see if they're not trying to deceive us, which is always possible.
BURNETT: Which, of course is frightening because we haven't seen that same kind of alert level raised here at the homeland, let me ask you, General Clark, last summer I broadcast in the border of Northern Mali. The last night we were there was when the president was at a fund- raiser. We said the president just said that. It does not feel that way the place we are now. But the president has said it many times and many ways that al Qaeda is on the run. Let me play it for you.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: We've got al Qaeda on the run. Most of them are now on the run. Al Qaeda is on the run, and we got Bin Laden. Al Qaeda is on the run and Osama Bin Laden is dead.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: It may be a new al Qaeda, a more splintered al Qaeda, but they don't, certainly, when you look at the most broad response in American history, you're closing 21 embassies, certainly don't seem to be on the run.
CLARK: I think we've got to be on the alert for this. Yes, we did take out Osama Bin Laden and as soon as the next chief pops up we take him out in the central node of al Qaeda. It's still dangerous and it can transform itself. You've got people who spend their lives plotting how to hurt Americans. So until every one of those people is eliminated or they change their motivations, we've got a continuing issue. I think what the president was trying to say was the central nervous system of the old al Qaeda has been broken and broken down and decapitated with getting rid of Osama Bin Laden. And that's a good thing, but it's not the end of it.
BURNETT: Thanks to each of you.
As many of you know, we have devoted much of our program over the past year to the Benghazi attacks and their aftermath. Please join us on Tuesday night at 10:00 Eastern for a special, OUTFRONT special investigation, the Truth about Benghazi. We're going to go back to that fateful night nearly a year ago, talk to a suspect that even the FBI hasn't to and most importantly we're going to be speaking to the families of those who lost their lives. That is Tuesday night at 10:00 and 7:00, 7:00 pacific, 10:00 Eastern.
Still to come, Edward Snowden's new life, a day after he was granted asylum, the NSA leaker already has a home and a job in Russia. Not joking.
Plus the defense rests in the Whitey Bulger trial, authorities today revealing how a potential witness was murdered.
Then Hawaii's controversial new plan to help the homeless. It involves a free plane tickets.
And lawmakers in Taiwan throw down. We're going to show you the full fight later in the show.
Breaking news tonight about a potential danger that people have been eating. Tonight the parent company of two major restaurant chains said they've served salad mixes that are linked to cyclospora, those are red lobster and olive garden. Tonight the FDA says it has traced the pre-packaged salad mixes to a farm, a farm in Mexico. They don't know yet if the salad mix is linked to a wider link to food poisoning. So far they have located a farm in Mexico.
BURNETT: Breaking news tonight about a potential danger that people have been eating. Tonight, the parent company of two major restaurant chains says that they have served salad mixes that have been linked to cyclospora outbreak. Those restaurants are Olive Garden and Red Lobster located in Iowa and Nebraska where the stomach bug has sickened 225 people.
Tonight, the FDA says it has traced the pre-packaged salad mixes to a farm in Mexico. Federal health officials don't yet know if the salad mix is linked to a wider outbreak of food poisoning affecting other states, but so far, they have found, there is a specific farm in Mexico responsible for part of it and we'll see if that ends up indeed being responsible for all of this food poisoning outbreak across the country.
And now, our second story, OUTFRONT, Edward Snowden, the cash cow. Today we caught the first glimpse of the NSA leaker. He's happy. He's free, land of the free, Russia. The NSA leaker was granted temporary asylum in Russia. According to his attorney, Snowden has already been offered a job at a social media web site that's been described as the Russian equivalent of Facebook. But Snowden's job offer is peanuts compared to the people who are going to make real money off of him and other alleged spies. Tom Foreman has this OUTFRONT investigation.
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It may not have been Julian Assange's dream to become a movie star, but a new film from Dreamworks Studio could turn him into one.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If we could find one whistle blower, someone willing to expose those secrets, that man could topple the most powerful and most repressive of regimes.
FOREMAN: "The Fifth Estate" will be released in October with a big cast, big hopes for success and a big target on it for counter culture types who may not like the idea of their heroes being put forth this way. Assange himself has called a mass propaganda attack against Wikileaks, myself and our activities, part of a war of corrupt media, corrupt culture.
That may be as they're taking the story of whistleblowers and running with them. This free online video game, for example, is called Snowden Run 3D. The creator in a message to CNN says I do not support Mr. Snowden's actions, though, his bravery and sense of altruism should probably be respected.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The other two, they slammed him to the ground, and the fourth one like jumped on his back
FOREMAN: And on a goes. The maker of this film called "Taxi to the Dark Side" is now working on a movie based on Army Private Bradley Manning who was found guilty of spying just this week. All of this is ironic in a way. The central characters took action because they were upset over the mainstream media's unwillingness to uncover certain deeds and yet now some in the mainstream media to make a fortune off of their escapades.
Some films based on current events have proven wildly popular. "Zero Dark 30," for instance, made well over $100 million. And as long as that is happening, mass marketers will be interested in those stories. No secret there.
FOREMAN: What is not at all clear and this is whether or not the protagonist, the main characters are going to get any of this money, Erin, because the truth is many of these are independent projects, although many people like Wikileaks and Julian Assange have struggled greatly with cash in recent years. It will be interesting to see how this clash comes together as the years go by and we decide who has the rights to all these stories out there -- Erin.
BURNETT: I'm sure he will find a way to fight against that for all the guys that are fighting for him now. I'm sure he will. All right, thanks very much to Tom Foreman.
Whitey Bulger screamed at the judge today calling his trial a scam. It's just unprovoked sudden outburst. After 35 days of some pretty colorful testimony, Whitey Bulger's defense team finally rested today. The alleged mob boss is charged with 19 murders, but there was another murder that took place just two weeks ago. A potential witness was found dead and a lot of people thought Bulger might have orchestrated that killing too. He hasn't been charged.
Our Deborah Feyerick is OUTFRONT. Deb, you've been in the courtroom. You were in the courtroom today. You're back here in New York now, but what did we learn -- I mean, this was pretty incredible. This person might have been a witness. They are found dead and people thought he is still able to reach out and orchestrate, but it wasn't quite that.
DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Not quite that. You know, it's amazing because the Whitey Bulger trial has had a very colorful cast of characters. Steven Rakes was one of the alleged extortion victims and he owned a liquor store that Bulger and his gangsters essentially stole.
Well, Rakes was at the trial virtually every day and Bulger's mob enforcer actually insulted Rakes from the witness box so there was speculation. Maybe the death has something to do with Bulger or with the trial. Well, it turns out it was a business associate who owned Steven Rakes money.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARIAN RYAN, MIDDLESEX DISTRICT ATTORNEY: Mr. Rakes was lured to this meeting on the promise of a real estate deal in which he could invest and make a significant amount of money. However, that deal did not in fact exist. Moody purchased some iced coffees for both himself and Mr. Rakes for that meeting. He alleged that the defendant Moody laced one of those coffees with two teaspoons of potassium chloride.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FEYERICK: Now Rakes was scene on surveillance video leaving the federal courthouse on July 16th. He had just been dropped from the prosecution's witness list in part because he was going to contradict some testimony of that mob enforcer. He was found wearing the same clothes. No identification, keys or cell phone so sort of solved.
BURNETT: Pretty incredible when you think, this is in the past. These people are still killing even other, poisoning each other. It's unbelievable. The defense team rested today. But there was a chance he was going to testify and you were there when it was announced three wasn't. What went down?
FEYERICK: Everybody was on pins and needles. I mean, people's hearts were actually racing and I've been in court for seven weeks, Bulger has always been the wildcard. His lawyers had actually prepared him to testify just in case. They waited until the very last witness to inform the court that the answer was no.
Well, the judge questioned Bulger about the decision. He got really angry. He was shaking his fingers. He said he didn't get a fair trial, this is a sham. Do what you want with me. The wife of one of the murder victims shouted you're a coward. The judge quickly silenced the court.
Bulger wanted to make the case that he was given immunity by the former head of the New England Organized Crime strike force, which is run by the Justice Department. But remember, he's accused of 19 murders and 13 counts of extortion and racketeering. You don't get immunity for murder.
Also his lawyers spent weeks arguing that Bulger was not an informant. That raises the question, what was he providing in exchange for this alleged immunity. Bulger told the judge that his choice to not testify was a choice made involuntarily. He said that he was choked off from making an adequate defense. His team put just ten witnesses and that's compared to the government's more than 60. Closing arguments set for Monday, each side three hours. The fate of James Whitey Bulger will be decided -- Erin.
BURNETT: I know there have been actors in there watching some of his testimony. All right, Deb Feyerick, thank you.
And still to come, the return of David Petraeus, the former head of the CIA shows off a brand new image.
And then Trayvon Martin's hoodie, it's still around. Is it an important civil rights symbol? Like the kind that you go in a museum. We ask our panel if it adds up.
And a dramatic announcement in the Arkansas jailbreak tonight, that pretty stupendous story, an escape as you see that's next.
BURNETT: Our third story, OUTFRONT, the rehabilitation of David Petraeus. So nine months after a scandalous affair forced the former CIA director to resign as America's top spy. The four-star general is trying to rebuild his career and his reputation. Pentagon correspondent, Chris Lawrence is OUTFRONT with the story.
CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): David Petraeus went from wearing four stars to directing CIA spies to disgrace ex-official. Nine months after an affair with Paula Broadwell brought his career crashing down. Petraues is reinventing himself in America's media capital, taking a teaching gig at City University of New York.
GEN. DAVID PETRAEUS, RETIRED, FORMER CIA DIRECTOR: Life doesn't stop with such a mistake and can and must go on.
LAWRENCE: Petraeus joins a long line of officials who are re-emerging from scandals -- public relations expert, Marina Ein has counseled everyone from Gary Condit of the Chandra Levy scandal to Dominique Strauskahn.
(on camera): So how would you grade Petraues?
MARINA EIN, PUBLIC RELATIONS EXPERT: I think he gets an A plus.
LAWRENCE: Ein says Petraeus followed the rehab playbook, take immediate responsibility, apologize to the right people, his wife and the American people, and remove yourself from controversy, meaning don't fight to stay on as CIA director. It didn't hurt that the president granted Petraeus a graceful exit.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: He has provided this country an extraordinary service.
EIN: What could be a more attractive thing than that kind of send off.
LAWRENCE: But Petraeus' past hasn't been perfect. He was set to make $150,000 for teaching 15 to 20 students three hours a week.
MARTIN SNYDER, AMERICAN ASSOCIATION OF UNIVERSITY PROFESSORS: My initial reaction was outrageous.
LAWRENCE: Dr. Martin Snyder says most professors would get $3,000 for teaching that seminar, and the school's mission is to provide an affordable education.
SNYDER: Its rule is not to make General Petraues look better.
LAWRENCE: The former general retreated. Petraues quickly said he'll do it for $1.
EIN: Once again, it's how he is quick on his feet. I would say before the ink was dry on that first story there was no story.
LAWRENCE: but some becoming professors at colleges is nothing more than a holding tank.
SNYDER: That kind of rehab center for people who have failed and they need to regain respectability somehow.
LAWRENCE: Well, Petraues is also lecturing at the University of Southern California, and as a private school it doesn't have to reveal its salary. But in one e-mail made public, Petraeus wrote, you won't believe what USC will pay per week.
BURNETT: Thanks very much to you, Chris Lawrence.
Still to come, one of the women Ariel Castro held captive returned to that house. We're going to tell you why she went and why she wanted to go inside.
Plus a death row crisis in Texas. The state is running out of the most important supply required to kill people.
And Hawaii, it has a solution for its homeless problem. You're going have to see and hear this to believe it. Does it add up?
BURNETT: Welcome back to the second half of OUTFRONT. We start with stories where we focus on our reporting from the front lines.
I want to begin with an OUTFRONT update. A Russian official now says the anti-gay ban that President Putin signed into law will not apply to athletes or tourists during the 2014 Winter Games. This is according to a Russia news agency Interfax. The official was quoted as saying, quote, "The Olympic Games are a major international event. We need to be as polite and tolerant as possible."
Well, OK, people who are there for the games, but not people who live in the country. Actor and spokesperson Umar Sharif Jr. (ph) for the LGBT community tell us the public outcry will not subside until these laws are repealed for all LGBT people in Russia.
Well, the state of Texas is running out of a drug used to execute prisoners. The drug which is called Phenobarbital is a barbiturate that the state turned to last year to replace another drug that it had ran out of. It doesn't help that Texas executes more prisoners than any other state in the Union. So far this year, Texas has executed 11 people, compared with 11 in all of the other states in the United States combined.
Despite the shortage, Texas is certain it will be able to carry out its, quote-unquote, "legal obligations," i.e., to execute its next prisoner. They have 48 days to get the poison to do so.
Well, the mother of Derrick Estell, the inmate who escaped from an Arkansas jail this week was arrested for allegedly helping her son. I'll show you the video again. This is when you see, he is talking on the phone, allegedly with his mother. Then he hops through a window and then he jumps into a waiting car. And he's out.
Now, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, prisoners in the U.S. are escaping less often, about 3,185 prisoners escaped in 2011. That sounds like a heck of a lot to me. But anyway, it's more than half the number who escaped in 1998. Derrick Estell, himself, though, is still on the lam tonight. They don't know where he is.
It has been 727 days since the U.S. lost its top credit rating. What are we doing to get it back? Well, you know, everybody has to do their part. The Postal Service is trying, looking for ways to stop hemorrhaging $25 million a day. The latest revenue idea from the USPS? They want to ship you booze. The service the FedEx and UPS already provide.
Now, you know, you've got to pack that stuff up, you got to pack it and you know it weighs a lot. So, there's a lot of money. There are legal obstacles to pass on this front, but it has got to be better than idea than the Postal Service's clothing line that we told you about earlier this year.
And now our fourth story OUTFRONT: return to the house of horrors. Michelle Knight bravely made a last visit today to the house where she was held captive and sexually tortured by Ariel Castro for more than a decade. The house is now set to be demolished as part of the plea deal Castro made to avoid the death penalty. He was sentenced yesterday to life in prison after pleading guilty to 937 counts of rape, kidnapping and aggravated murder.
Martin Savidge is OUTFRONT in Cleveland tonight.
And, obviously, the aggravated murder charge comes from Michelle Knight saying that he had, you know, punched her so hard in the stomach that she was forced to abort children multiple times. Gina and Michelle have now visited the house. And I know Michelle today spoke to a neighborhood when she went back.
What else did she do?
MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, it's pretty remarkable. Apparently, she went to that house and actually wanted to go inside. I'm talking about Michelle Knight, former victim held inside. She could not go in. The sheriff's deputy stopped her. So she looked on the outside. Then she went across the street, to Alta Gracia Tejeda's house.
A little back story. Tejeda, on the day that these girls got away, when Amanda Berry kicked out the front door and ran across the street, she went to Tejeda's home, used her phone to make that dramatic 911 call. Today, Michelle thanked Tejeda. They had embraced. And it was then that Tejeda realized she'd seen Michelle before in the windows of that terrible home when she was a captive, didn't know she was a captive.
And she related that whole realization to me. She speaks Spanish. She's translated by her niece.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALTAGRACIA TEJEDA, CASTRO NEIGHBOR: (SPEAKING SPANISH)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She says that when seeing her, she couldn't -- she wouldn't even imagine the things that were going on in that house. She would never -- she would never think that that was her. And when she came by today, she asked her if the person that she saw standing in the screen door, if it was her, and she said yes, it was her.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SAVIDGE: Michelle Knight is basically saying, do you remember seeing me? Because I remember seeing you out from those windows.
It was just quite a moment for those two women to sort of come to grips with, Erin.
BURNETT: A poignant moment and incredible that Michelle Knight wanted to go back in that house. I know she's also the one who spoke in court yesterday, you know, has chosen, so far, a different path than Amanda and Gina who went such horrible abuse also.
Now, Martha, who owns that home? And, obviously, I know it's going to be demolished. When does that happen?
SAVIDGE: Yes, that home is now owned by what's called the Cuyahoga Land Bank. Ariel Castro, a part of the plea deal, he had to give up the home. The Land Bank is planning to demolish that house next week. They say the latter part of next week.
But here's the thing. They're being very careful. They want to make sure that in no way any piece of that home or anything that may be left in that home is somehow taken by somebody to be used as a twisted souvenir.
So it will be demolished in one day, but they will have security around that house and they will have escorts as the debris is trucked away to make sure none of it goes into the wrong hands.
BURNETT: Hmm, people can be sick.
Now, what about Ariel Castro? Obviously, yesterday, the day of the sentencing. Where is he now? What happens now?
SAVIDGE: Well, he's supposed to be transported. Exactly when he's going to be transported to his next stop in his thousand-year journey, as it is. He, for security reasons, they won't say, but he's going off to about 30 miles to what is basically the welcoming center for the entire Ohio penitentiary system. That's in Grafton, Ohio. He'll be evaluated for several weeks and they'll figure out where to exactly place him.
Psychologically and medically, he's going to be checked out. And it's possible he could go to any number of potential sites, but he'll be there a long, long time -- life plus 1,000 years.
BURNETT: A thousand years. And, obviously, I know it matters a lot, right, where -- who he's with and how they'll treat him.
Thanks so much to you, Martin.
SAVIDGE: You're welcome.
BURNETT: At least two of the women have gone back to the house where they were held captive and abused. But you have to ask why. I want to bring in our clinical psychologist, Dr. Jeff Gardere.
You have been with us through so much of this coverage.
DR. JEFF GARDERE, CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGIST: Yes.
BURNETT: You know, you have Gina DeJesus going back. Michelle Knight going back. Michelle Knight actually wanting to go back in the house.
Why it's important to them? I mean, it's impossible to imagine whether you'd want to know or not go. But what does that say to you? GARDERE: Well, before this last time when they saw the house, it was to escape from the house. And that was a major fear. That was a horror for them.
Now, they're going back or they've been back to look at that house, because now they can master that part of their lives. Now, they can look that fear right in the eyes. They don't have to develop a phobia around that house or any other house or anything that reminds them as to what happened to them.
So, this is actually very, very smart. It's an incredible technique. Again, I just, I tip my hat to them that they tried so hard to be on this road to recovery. And that is the next step in mastering that fear.
BURNETT: Now, Michelle Knight not only went to the house, as to Gina DeJesus, but she spoke in court, in that incredibly poignant moment yesterday. Amanda Berry hasn't gone to the house. She had her sister speak out for her in court. And she's still having problems talking about what happened. I just wanted to play for you what she said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BETH SERRANO, SISTER OF AMANDA BERRY: She's not just my only sister, but the best friend I have and the best person I know. She does not want to talk about these things. She has not talked about these things even with me. And she does not want others to talk about these things.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: That's her sister. Of course, we have seen Amanda, though. The only we've seen. She was at Nelly concert dancing with a young man, very close. So -- and she's the one who has a daughter.
BURNETT: So what do you make of Amanda?
GARDERE: Well, it's very interesting. I think this really does remind us that everyone recovers in their own way, at their own time. We're all different individuals. She was the one, if you remember, who broke free.
BURNETT: Right, who made that 911 call.
GARDERE: Who made the 911 call and who was completely courageous what she did. But even she being the, quote, "courageous one" needs time to be able to come back from this thing. And so we have to respect that.
And her going to the Nelly concert, I think may be part of, look, I need something to take my mind off of this horror, but I don't want to discuss it. I don't want people to talk about this, because of my daughter. I'm trying to shield my daughter. So there are many different reasons, but I don't see it so much as a set back. Just that she needs more time. And we're going to see sometimes that it takes a different path for these three young women.
BURNETT: Different path for different person. All right. Dr. Gardere, thank you very much.
BURNETT: Well, still to come, should Trayvon Martin's hoodie end up in a museum? Because that is what is about to happen. Our panel weighs in.
Plus, U.S. lawmakers are outraged tonight. We're going to tell you why some say it was a decision that was a slap in the face to America.
And Hawaii has a plan to help the state's homeless. It involves a plane ticket. As I said, you have got to see this piece, and find out whether it adds up.
And tonight's shout-out. Politicians gone wild. I'd love it if they did this here actually. Lawmakers in Taiwan, threw punches they had water ready. They threw it at each other during a heated debate over whether to complete a power plant. Two politicians even wrestled on the floor before being separated. Meanwhile, other legislators blocked the doors with furniture.
Our shout-out goes to this lawmaker who clearly came prepared, wearing a motorcycle helmet for protection.
BURNETT: And now, to Hawaii. Well, this is a strange story about Hawaii. They want to get the homeless out of Hawaii home. The island chain is hoping to cut down on the services it provides to those down on their luck by providing them a one-way ticket back to the mainland. Lawmakers say it's another way to reunite families. So does this add up?
Casey Wian is OUTFRONT.
CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's a tropical paradise, with the nation's second highest rate of homelessness after only Washington, D.C.
JOHN MIZUNO, HAWAII STATE HOUSE: Hawaii is a premier place to be if you're homeless. We have a robust public assistance program.
WIAN: Hawaiian lawmakers have approved a controversial plan to provide plane tickets off the islands for some homeless from out of state.
MIZUNO: We're going to reduce homelessness in our state. Second, we're going to send them back to their family, a strong support network system where they can get back on their feet. And third, we're going to save our taxpayers a substantial amount of money.
WIAN: Mizuno says the $100,000 pilot program is voluntary and will only relocate people who have someone to help them back home.
Still, a spokeswoman for Hawaii's Department of Human Services tells CNN, "We remain concerned this program is an invitation to purchase a one-way ticket to Hawaii, with a guaranteed return flight home."
New York and San Francisco both have been paying to relocate thousands of homeless people over the past several years. Activists say only about two dozen have come back.
NAN ROMAN, NATL. ALLIANCE TO END HOMELESSNESSS: I think the idea is a good idea. People often become homeless because they get separated from their support networks, their family, their friends.
WIAN: Mizuno has seen it work. He's helped raised money, sometimes out of his own pocket, for more than 20 homeless people to return home, including Yogette Baker (ph), a schizophrenic who ended up in Hawaii months after she was reported missing from Houston.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She didn't know who she was or how she got here.
WIAN: When police contacted her mother, Sheryl Walter (ph), she flew to Hawaii and paid for her medication. But then she couldn't afford the air fare home. Mizuno found a donor.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mom's got my ticket we're leaving, so she got my ticket so we're leaving.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And I thank God and all the people in Hawaii.
WIAN: Two years later, Yogette is doing well, taking her medicine and taking computer classes.
(on camera): Supporters of Hawaii's relocation program say it is no panacea. They say if they can relocate 100 of Hawaii's more than 6,000 homeless the first year, they'll consider the program a big success.
Casey Wian, CNN, Los Angeles.
BURNETT: Thanks, Casey.
OUTFRONT, our fifth story, the hoodie's place in history. Tonight, the spokeswoman for the Smithsonian Institution says it has not made any efforts to acquire the hoodie that Trayvon Martin was wearing the night he was killed, but the director of the Smithsonian's National Museum of African-American History and Culture, which opens in 2015, had a different message, telling ABC News, quote, "It became the symbolic way to talk about the Trayvon Martin case. It's rare that you get one artifact that really becomes the symbol."
So, should this symbol become an artifact in a national museum?
You're probably out there screaming yes or throwing an egg at the TV.
Dean Obeidallah, Stephanie Miller and Reihan Salam join me.
All right. This is a fascinating conversation.
Now, Reihan, the hoodie did become a symbol for race relations in America during this, right? You'd have people out there protesting. You'd have famous people wearing the hoodie. For that reason alone, should it be in a museum?
REIHAN SALAM, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, the museum has a larger mission. It's occupying this really important space right on the National Mall, right next the Washington Monument. And the idea is it's about the durable achievements that African-Americans have made to American culture more broadly. It's really about history.
I think any project like this on the National Mall is that you don't want it to cover really near-term very political, very politicized conflicts. You want it to cover things about which we have a shared story, because frankly, if it's backed by taxpayers, it's going to be controversial. I think that that's why it makes more sense to focus on the civil rights movement, the civil war, focus on things that we have a national story.
And, you know, Stephanie, what's interesting is people who might support this might say, well, this became a symbol of civil rights, which may be true. But as we know, the FBI has interviewed all -- many people and has said there is absolutely no case here that this was a hate crime. Justice Department is still reviewing it. But they've obviously have to go against that if they found a way to do it.
So are you concerned that putting this hoodie in the museum would send the wrong symbol?
STEPHANIE MILLER, RADIO HOST: I don't think so, Erin. If you listen to, you know, a lot of the black callers that call my show, and even a lot of the white callers who feel really strongly about this, I think this is a civil rights issue. I think that in what we all thought as a post-racial America after reelecting the first black president twice, this was really jarring and particularly to a lot of young black people.
And it is -- I think it is a formative moment, you know, as a -- you know, somebody was saying like we are not there yet because a lot of people are very emotional that nobody thinks this would have turned out differently if the races were, you know, reversed. And I think you just cannot deny that and you cannot under estimate, Erin, these rallies all over the country springing up spontaneously not funded by the Koch brothers or --
SALAM: Stephanie, you're making my point, which is that your show has a political prospective that folks who are calling your show want this to be discussed and that --
MILLER: It's not just people calling my show. How do people show up all over the country spontaneously?
SALAM: Right. That's absolutely true. But again, this is not about one radio show's audience. This is not about one political constituency. The museum is about the place of African-Americans in American culture more broadly.
DEAN OBEIDALLAH, COMEDIAN: Let's be honest --
MILLER: My radio show had nothing to do with all these rallies around the country. People are very emotional about this verdict and feel like someone shot an unarmed black teenager --
OBEIDALLAH: I mean, look at the mandate of the museum. If you look at their Web site, their clear mandate is to spur conversation on issues of race and to help foster healing and understanding. This Trayvon Martin hoodie is exactly that. You know, that's why there is going to be things from slavery through entertainment to fashion with African American --
BURNETT: The handcuffs that were used to arrest Harvard professor, Henry Louis Gates Jr. By the way, a story that ended up being different than people thought it was at first. But those are in there.
OBEIDALLAH: We desperately need things to spark conversation on race. After the Zimmerman trial, 80 percent of African Americans thought it was time to have a conversation on race. Only 25 percent of white Americans thought it was a time to have a conversation. And I'm not mocking white Americans, I used to be white before 9/11 then realize I'm no longer white as an Arab and Muslim in America.
We have to have a conversation. Silence does not cure any social ill ever in this history of the nation. So if this hoodie start as conversation --
SALAM: This is exactly the danger with the museum. It's going to become politicized from get-go.
BURNETT: The Department of Justice says --
OBEIDALLAH: It's human, it's civil rights -- BURNETT: But if the Department of Justice says there is no civil rights case here. The FBI has said that. The entire American system rules that, let's say, then you would still put it in there?
OBEIDALLAH: We can't deny the fact this hoodie represents something that's real and race relations. No post-racial America. We have a race problem and empathy gap --
SALAM: You're defining as a racial empathy gap and people --
MILLER: Erin, Dean is right --
BURNETT: I'll give you the last word, Stephanie.
Go ahead, Reihan.
MILLER: There aren't kids showing up with hoodies saying, we are Trayvon. If it's not what Dean is saying, if this is not resonating with people all over the country who have experienced this kind of unequal treatment, this is -- whether people like it or not --
SALAM: Whether or not it's appropriate for a museum that's devoted to African-American history to be focusing at something that happened in the last 12 months.
OBEIDALLAH: It says on the website that's one of the four mandates. This is perfect for that.
BURNETT: Everyone, please let us know what you think. We appreciate and we want you to give us your feedback on Twitter.
You know, it's time for our OUTFRONT Outtake. We do this every single day at this time. Stories outside the headlines and today, we talk about Russia officially offering asylum to NSA leaker Edward Snowden.
All right. You know this part of story, right? You probably believe Snowden is a whistle blower or a trader. You're on one camp or the other. But there is not denying that the United States and Russia are in a very nasty spot.
In a written statement, Senator John McCain called Russia's actions quote a slap in the face for all Americans, a sentiment that Senator Lindsey Graham echoed. Of course, as serious as this is and it is serious, I have to admit that we have truly enjoyed seeing what metaphors a slap in the face politicians and media could come up with to describe how Russia has wronged America, take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS) SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D), NEW YORK: When Mr. Putin first allowed Mr. Snowden to enter Russia and remain at the airport, it was a clear poke in the eye of the United States.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Anything to poke it in his eye.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Poking his finger in the eye.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Poke the U.S. in the eye.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Poke his finger in the eye of the United States.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Poke the U.S. in the eye again.
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: Stick his thumb in our eye. Sticking his thumb right in our eye.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thumbing their nose in the United States.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Poking a stick in his eye.
SCHUMER: Stabbed us in the back.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
BURNETT: I feel bad now. All I could think of yesterday was punch in the face. Maybe it was unique but then Chuck Schumer had to go and pull a knife.
Still to come, $174,000 to work less than three days a week, that's pretty darn good, right? We'll tell you what is getting it and milking the system.
BURNETT: Congress was hard at work today doing its best to got to Obamacare. The House of Representatives voted for the 40th time to repeal the Affordable Care Act, a meaningless vote since it won't pass the Democratic controlled Senate and I'm not exaggerating. It was the 40th time.
It was Congress' last vote before the five-week vacation. Yes, our elected officials get the entire month of August off, plus Labor Day week. Just imagine.
Well, for them, this is nothing new. So far this year, Congress has spent less time on Capitol Hill than any of the previous five years. Members of the House and Senate average less than three days per week in Washington and they passed only 561 bills, the lowest number in American history, all the while being paid $174,000 on average a year. So, that's pretty amazing, $174,000 to work less than three days a week.
So, what do they do when they don't work for us? It turns out they've been working for themselves. Incumbent seeking reelection next year already raised $125 million. According to "Politico", that's $30 million more than had been raised at this point last year just a few months before general presidential election, when all the money was flowing in.
Make no mistake, this is wrong, politicians running for election and reelection, reelection without governing, we all know that. So, how about we vote on principle for the person that says, I don't care about elections, I don't care about campaigning. I'd rather do the job and deal with America's problems, and we make it clear. We don't respond to ads and all the B.S. Can we do it?
Thanks for watching. Have a great weekend.
"A.C. 360" starts now.