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CNN to Air Special "The Truth About Benghazi"; Pakistan Recovering After Flash Floods; Concerns Over Fukushima Nuclear Plant; Zetas Killers Speak; Raising Money for Tornado Victims

Aired August 6, 2013 - 12:30   ET



MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: All right, more than a year ago, or almost a year ago, rather, four Americans died in that attack on a U.S. diplomatic mission. This happening in Benghazi, Libya, the east of the country. Among the dead was the U.S. ambassador.

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN ANCHOR: Almost a year later, the deadly attack is the focus of foreign policy debates, political attacks as well it still continues.

Now a CNN special investigation goes in search of "The Truth About Benghazi."

Now in this clip, correspondent Arwa Damon, she talks with a, quote, "person of interest" who says that U.S. officials have never even questioned him. Watch this.


ARWA DAMON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (via translator): That night how did you get the names? When did you arrive and what did you see?

AHMED ABU KHATTALA (via translator): Is this is a journalistic interview or an interrogation?

DAMON (via translator): It's a journalistic interview.

ABU KHATTALA (via translator): I didn't know where the place was. When I heard, we went to examine the situation.

When we withdrew and they were shooting with medium guns and there were RPGs in the air and people panicked, we tried to control traffic.

DAMON (via translator): Did anyone from the American or the Libya government side try to get in touch with you?

ABU KHATTALA (via translator): Never.

DAMON (via translator): Never?

ABU KHATTALA (via translator): Never. DAMON (via translator): And if they tried, are you ready to meet with them?

ABU KHATTALA (via translator): Yes, no problem. But not as an interrogation. As a conversation like the one we're having with you now.


HOLMES: All right, this is all part of an "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" special investigation, and Erin joins us now from New York.

Let's start with this person of interest that Arwa was talking to there. What more have you learned about him, and how involved he was or wasn't in the actual organization of this attack?

ERIN BURNETT, ANCHOR, "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT": Well, you know, this hits on one of the most incredible things.

You heard him talking to Arwa there who had a chance to speak with him in Benghazi in May, and he said, look, I was directing traffic. I'll talk to authorities if they want in a journalistic, conversational way.

But, obviously, of course, as we've reported, they had not yet spoken to him. But, you know, there's only been person that the U.S. has publicly listed as a person they thought was involved that they were able to detain, and they only detained that person briefly, and the person is now not -- no one has found this person.

There've been pictures put out of three other people that are wanted in relation to these attacks. No one on the ground in Benghazi was familiar with any of their faces or had even seen these pictures that had been put out when Arwa walked around the streets.

And, of course, none of those people at this point have been detained either. So this highlights the difficulty of getting in Benghazi and the fact that, at this point, almost one year later, justice has not been served and, at this point, it may be difficult to imagine justice being ever being served.

MALVEAUX: Yeah, Erin, it certainly makes you wonder just how thorough investigation is when you look at that.

And you've interviewed relatives of the four Americans who died in this attack. I imagine they have a lot of concerns, a lot of frustration themselves. And what do they want?

BURNETT: Suzanne, you know, it was amazing talking to them. You know, the night when this happened and we first got word, it was right around 7:00 Eastern when we got word that an American had died. And I reporting it that night.

And at that point, it's an American had died. There's surprise and there's shock, but it's not yet personal. And then when you talk to the families and you realize that this is something that's always going to be an open wound and something personal for them.

You know, Glenn Doherty, one of the SEALS who died, his sister, Kate Quigley was very apolitical about this, did not want to be political.

But she said, look, SEALs have a long memory, and if someone's going to get justice and justice will be served, it will be done, and it will be done by somebody.

They want justice and they want answers, but most important, they want people to remember.

And Cheryl Bennett, her son Ty Woods was there that night, one of SEALs fighting with Glenn Doherty to try to save the ambassador, and they did save the lives of some 30 to 35 Americans.

And this is a just a quick clip of some of the personal side of the families that I had a chance to see.


CHERYL BENNETT, MOTHER OF TY WOODS: Ty perished doing what he love to do and doing it well.

My son did the right thing at the right time for the right reasons.


BURNETT: And that, Michael and Suzanne, was really what we saw. There was a real sense of pride that their children, that their siblings had been there and done this, but also real sense that this did not need to happen.

And that's one of the conclusions of the documentary. This did not need to happen.

MALVEAUX: All right, Erin, thank you so much. Looks great, very insightful, very powerful.

And you can see more of the one hour special tonight. It's called "The Truth About Benghazi." It's a CNN special investigation, tonight at 10:00 Eastern.

HOLMES: Yeah, thanks, Erin.

BURNETT: Thanks (inaudible).

MALVEAUX: There are now new worries about a nuclear plant in Japan. This is the same that was one hit by that deadly earthquake and tsunami two years ago.


HOLMES: Welcome back to AROUND THE WORLD. A small Pennsylvania town that prided itself on never making the headlines is now the center of a tragic story.

MALVEAUX: Last night a gunman walked into a town hall meeting -- this is in Saylorsburg -- opened fire. Three people were killed. Police say that Rockne Newell had a grudge. He had been fighting with the township over his property for years. Well, he was stopped thanks to the heroic efforts of two people who tackled him to the ground.

HOLMES: Pakistan's biggest city is trying to recovery from deadly flash flooding that's been going on for days now, heavy rain brought on by monsoons pounding Karachi and several other Pakistani provinces over the weekend. Dozens of people have been killed.

MALVEAUX: In Karachi, crews have recovered a car swept away by flood waters. A man, woman and child were inside that vehicle when it was swept away.

There are also now new concerns about the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant. This is in Japan. Operators say that Tepco tells us that contaminated water is leaking into the bay next to the plant.

HOLMES: Yeah, a company spokesman describes it as serious, Tepco trying to create an underground barrier to stop more contaminated water from seeping out.

But a nuclear power plant designer says it may be fighting a losing battle.


MASASHI GOTO, FORMER NUCLEAR POWER PLANT DESIGNER (via translator): The situation is already beyond what Tepco can handle. If it were possible to take proper measures, they would have done it already, right? It's not as if Tepco's refusing to do what they can. They're doing everything they can, but there are no perfect solutions.


MALVEAUX: Others not as kind to Tepco. Last month, the head of the U.S. nuclear watchdog agency said that Tepco did not actually have a proper plan to protect Japanese citizens or even the environment as well.

HOLMES: A lot of criticism of that company as this continues to be a problem for Japan.

Staying in Japan, now, a rough landing for a Korean air passenger jet. Have a look at that video there. Hard to see, but it is circled. Overshooting the runway, this while landing at the airport in Niigata.

MALVEAUX: The airport says that 115 people were on board. This is a Boeing 737-900, but thankfully nobody was injured. Now the plane was actually traveling from Seoul.

HOLMES: Teenagers here in the United States recruited to kill for Mexican drug cartels, you'll hear the troubling details from two teens who are now serving life in jail. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HOLMES: Welcome back, everyone. This is a chilling story. We're talking about kids turned into killers.

MALVEAUX: It's happening along the Texas-Mexican border. Now American teenagers are being recruited to be a part of the Zetas drug cartel. Two former assassins from the group agreed to talk to CNN's Ed Lavandera, telling him how they got involved in the business of killing.


ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Look into the eyes of Gabriel Cardona and you see a baby-faced 26-year-old. Then he blinks and you see something else, another set of sinister eyes staring back, these tattooed on his eyelids.

These eyes are a window into the soul of a drug cartel assassin.

In all, how many people did you kill?


LAVANDERA: No idea? You lost track?

CARDONA: Yeah, so (inaudible) when you're in Mexico.

LAVANDERA: Could you guess? Are we talking like 10, 20, 30, 50?

CARDONA: Between 20 and 30.

LAVANDERA: Gabriel Cardona says he was 15-years-old when the Zetas drug cartel recruited him to kill.

He was part of a secret crew of hit men made up of American teenagers living in Laredo, Texas, along with this man, Rosalio Reta.

Cardona and Reta spoke with CNN from the Texas prisons where they are serving life sentences for murder.

Both men say they worked for Miguel Angel Trevino, the ruthless, violent leader of the Zetas drug cartel who was recently arrested this Mexico.

ROSALIO RETA, CARTEL HITMAN: I've known this man and he's not going to tell you to do somebody that he won't do himself. And that's why a lot of people followed him.

LAVANDERA: How much control do you think he had of Nuevo Laredo and that whole area in northern Mexico?

RETA: Absolute control.

LAVANDERA: Reta says he was 13 years old when two friends brought him to the Mexican town of Nuevo Laredo, just across the border from Texas. He says his friends took him to a ranch on the outskirts of town and he says that what he saw there changed his life forever. In an instant he went from being a 13-year-old sixth grade student to a killer.

RETA: We pulled up and just -- I couldn't believe what I was seeing. People getting tortured, killed, decapitated. It was - it was kind of hard to believe, I know, because I knew that day my life had just changed forever.

LAVANDERA (voice-over): Reta then says an argument broke out. Miguel Travino (ph), the boss, wanted to know why Reta, the stranger, was there. Reta says Travino handed him a gun. They stood over a man tied up on the ground.

LAVANDERA (on camera): What does Travino tell you?

RETA: Just to kill that person. And I had to - I had to do it. What other option do I have. If I don't do it, I know what's going to happen to me.

LAVANDERA: And then after you did it -- well, you shot him?

RETA: Yes, sir.

LAVANDERA: How many times?

RETA: Multiple times.

LAVANDERA: A 13-year-old assassin was born.

RETA: The first day I had to take somebody's life, that's a day I'm never going to be able to forget because after that I had no life.

LAVANDERA: But you kept on killing after that - after that first time at that ranch?

RETA: I had to. That's what a lot of people don't understand.

LAVANDERA (voice-over): That's what Reta says now. But in this police interrogation video, the young killer relished the deadly power he wielded.

RETA: (INAUDIBLE) Superman (ph).

LAVANDERA: Reta bragged to a Laredo police detective that killing made him feel like Superman. That taking the gun out of his hand was like taking candy from a kid. How in the world did it come to this for two American teens?

LAVANDERA (on camera): Cardona and Reta grew up here on Lincoln Street just a few blocks away from the Mexican border. This is the neighborhood where they became friends. Like many people around here, they each had families on both sides of the border, in Mexico and the United States. They could easily move back and forth between both sides. And as it turns out, that's exactly what the Zetas drug cartel was looking for. LAVANDERA (voice-over): Cardona says, as a teenager, he started stealing cars and selling them in Mexico. Then he started carrying drugs and weapons across the border, working his way up the cartel ranks to become a hitman. Cardona dropped out of school in ninth grade.


LAVANDERA (on camera): Did you feel like you could do whatever you wanted? You were untouchable?

CARDONA: Yes, it gives you that sense. It gives you that sense that you can do whatever without being - without being touched or I mean having - having that sense of power.

LAVANDERA (voice-over): Cardona says cartel leaders supplied him with thousands of dollars a week, a Mercedes and a house. The money was seductive and intoxicating for these teens who came from the ramshackle streets of a Texas border town.

LAVANDERA (on camera): You enjoyed the money, but did you enjoy the killing?

CARDONA: You enjoy the money. You don't - you don't enjoy what you're doing. Either --

LAVANDERA: But it doesn't seem to bother you that much?


LAVANDERA (voice-over): Cardona and Reta say they would wait for the phone to ring. A Zetas members would give them a name and they'd go hunting, kill one rival in this car while the victim's wife and child watched. Each time these men say they were paid $5,000 to $10,000, sometimes more depending on how important the target was.

LAVANDERA (on camera): Did you feel like you were the king of the town?

CARDONA: You think that. That's (INAUDIBLE). At that time you never think that it's going to end because it just keeps coming.

LAVANDERA (voice-over): Eventually, Laredo police caught up to them. Cardona was arrested in a raid. Reta fearing he was going to be killed while working a job in Mexico, turned himself into American authorities.

RETA: I couldn't take it anymore. That's one of the risks I took that I just couldn't take it anymore. It was real hard for me. It was -- I can - I wasn't living my life.

LAVANDERA: Both Cardona and Reta are locked away, but they leave an ominous warning. There are others, they say, just like them, ready to take their place, lured by the riches and power drug cartels provide.

Ed Lavandera, CNN, Laredo, Texas. (END VIDEOTAPE)



All right. Well, the former president, Bill Clinton, officiated at the wedding of Anthony Weiner and Huma Abedin.

MALVEAUX: Up next, we're going to ask him what he thinks about Weiner's latest sexting scandal.


MALVEAUX: It was 15 years ago when I traveled with President Bill Clinton on his first trip to Africa as president. Since his trip, he and his daughter Chelsea have built a longstanding commitment to Africa through the work of the Clinton Foundation.

HOLMES: That's right. They're back there this week, actually, visiting a number of projects partnered with their organization. In Rwanda, Chelsea Clinton demonstrated how they're working to help bring clean water to the nation. CNN's Nima Elbagir had a chance to talk with them about a variety of topics, including the scandal surrounding Anthony Weiner.


NIMA ELBAGIR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I appreciate it's awkward because you have a personal connection to both Anthony Weiner and his wife, Huma Abedin. In fact, you officiated at their wedding. Has this been difficult for you to watch?

BILL CLINTON, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: Well, not because it's a political campaign, because neither Hillary or I was ever involved in the political campaign. And they understood that from the begin. There are too many people running for mayor who have been my supporters, who supported her for senator, her for president. One was once her campaign manager, Mr. de Blasio. But there are literally five people in that race, including one of the Republican candidates, Mr. Catsimatidis, who are personal friends of ours. So we are 100 miles from that race and everyone understands that we're not going to be involved as long as our personal friends and people whom we feel obligations are involved.

So the feelings I have are all personal. And since they are, I shouldn't talk about them.


MALVEAUX: And it's ironic, Michael. Fifteen years ago he was dogged by the questions of the Monica Lewinsky affair during that trip to Africa.

HOLMES: How's that, yes, for irony.


HOLMES: Being now asked about Anthony Weiner.

MALVEAUX: Here in the U.S. this year, we've already seen several tornado outbreaks. This is during devastation it's bringing to communities across the Midwest, as well as the south.

HOLMES: But one sports star is hoping to help victims and raise awareness on how to be prepared. We're talking about Bo Jackson. He knows football. He knows baseball. Now he also knows charity. More in today's "Impact Your World."


BO JACKSON, BO BIKES BAMA: Hi, I'm Bo Jackson, and we can make an impact after the storm.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST, "THE SITUATION ROOM": This is what one deadly twister left behind in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

JACKSON: I got phone calls from relatives and friends saying there's a bad storm, a big tornado, and it came through. I sat up and thought about what can I do to give back to my community. And I came up with this harebrained idea to ride a bicycle across the state.

I decided to make it an annual event to raise money for the tornado victims. I want to make the rest of the country aware of how severe a tornado can be. When you don't have a place to get out of the way of a tornado, a lot of people get injured, lose their lives. Hiding in a closet or getting in a bathtub doesn't work when the whole house is getting picked up off the foundation and thrown down the street.

To continue this bike ride, and to raise money to build community tornado shelters, I think that's my calling.

Join the movement. Impact your world. Go to


MALVEAUX: And a routine physical for former President George W. Bush shows a blocked artery. We've got the latest on the president's health in the next hour.


HOLMES: Welcome back.

Several other stories caught our attention today. Want to bring them to you now.

A somber mood in Hiroshima in Japan. Thousands gathering to light paper lanterns to honor those who died in the atomic bombing of that city 68 years ago today.

MALVEAUX: It killed as many as 140,000 people at the end of World War II. In Indonesia, talk about traveling light. This family of four, two adults, two kids, you see them there, riding a bike home to prepare for the eve holiday marking the end of Ramadan.

HOLMES: That is - that is good effort there. That's a good use of space. It's a busy traveling day, this day. Some four million Indonesians, for example, are traveling for the holiday.

And let's go to Bristol, England. More than 20,000 hot air balloons kicked off the Bristol International Balloon Fiesta.

MALVEAUX: Wow, looks a little crowded there.

HOLMES: It does.

MALVEAUX: It is amazing, though. The largest of its kind. This is in Europe.

HOLMES: On that note, that will do it for me. Thanks for watching AROUND THE WORLD.

You carry on, though, will you?

MALVEAUX: I'll carry on. I'll see you tomorrow.

HOLMES: All right. See you tomorrow.