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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES

President Obama Weighs Syria Options; Outrage Over 30-Day Sentence For Rapist; "Safe Passage" In Chicago; Georgia Teen Convicted Of Killing Baby; North Korea Rescinds U.S. Envoy Invite

Aired August 30, 2013 - 20:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Jessica, thanks very much.

We begin tonight with breaking news, political, diplomatically and militarily, what could be the final run-up to action against Syria.

This time tomorrow, inspectors will be out of the country and looking more and more likely that American cruise missiles could be on the way in. President Obama may not have the support of U.N. Security Counsel nor Great Britain nor a new polls says a majority of the American public. He sounds, however, like a man who decided to act.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We have consulted with allies. We have consulted with Congress. We have been in conversations with all the interested parties, and in no event are we considering any kind of military action that would involve boots on the ground, that would involve a long-term campaign, but we are looking at the possibility of a limited, narrow act that would help make sure that not only Syria but others around the world understand what the international community cares about maintaining this chemical weapons ban and norm.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Limited narrow, no boots on the ground. That's what the president said. There is, however, the capacity for more.

Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr who joins us shortly has learned the landing ship, USS San Antonio is in the eastern Mediterranean with 300 marines aboard. No signs those troops are going anywhere yet. Only the Obama administration ready to order some kind of military response and certain, that the facts on the ground will justify.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN KERRY, SECRETARY OF STATE: The American intelligence community has high confidence, high confidence. This is common sense. This is evidence. These are facts. So the primary question is really no longer what do we know? The question is what are we, we collectively, what are we in the world going to do about it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: As the intelligence, the White House put out a summery including a death toll from last week's gas attack outside Damascus, 1429 killed they said. The report claims the U.S. by agencies picked up preparations four days before the attack and surveillance intercepted communications in the days after confirmed that chemical weapons were used. The Assad regime, again today, denying responsibility.

Now, the U.N. inspections team leader, meantime, is scheduled to brief secretary general of the U.N. Ban Ki-moon tomorrow but a western diplomat tells us not disclose any preliminary results to the security council. The full lab work could take another two weeks.

President Obama today gave no sign he'll wait for that, slamming what he called the security council's incapacity to respond. He spoke today with Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron and France's president, Francois Hollande. Winning support from France but a pledge of continuing friendship from Britain, a parliament yesterday voted against intervention in Syria.

Now, president did earned conditional support from NATO ally and Syrian neighbor, Turkey. The Turkish Prime Minister saying any attack on Syria should be aimed to driving the Assad regime from power.

Now, at home, new polling from NBC News shows 42 percent support for military action, 50 percent opposition, opposition too from many lawmakers.

A lot of ground to cover tonight. Let's start at the White House with our Jim Acosta.

What's the latest in there, Jim?

JIM ACOSTA, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, what I can tell you right now is that the president has not made a final decision on action against Syria. But I talked to a White House official earlier this evening. They feel like they have made a very strong case in the event the president calls for a military strike on Syria.

This White House official saying the administration is pleased with the response to that intelligence report on last week's chemical weapons or suspected chemical weapons attack. The feeling inside the White House is that they believe that this presentation today quote "exceeded expectations provided what they are calling a compelling tick-toc of how the attack took place on August 21st.

As for what happens next, Anderson, because obviously, it is starting to sound not a question of if but when this official said that quote, "everybody acknowledges the gravity of this situation." The president does not take this lightly, and even though they may just have to be settling for the support of world leaders after this action is taken, this White House official I talked to said the president is still prepared to take unilateral action against Syria -- Anderson. COOPER: And Jim, there are some were saying that the president's travel schedule could actually impact the window in which military action is ordered. How so?

ACOSTA: Well, what we understand from listening to the U.N. today is that they expect their weapons inspectors to be out of Syria tomorrow morning. That opens up a potential window of opportunity for military action in Syria because those inspectors will be out of the country.

Now, the president goes to Russia, of all places, on Tuesday for the G20 summit that will be hosted by Vladimir Putin who has been somewhat of an adversary to this president throughout this entire run up to potential military action. So, there is a window 48 to 72 hours for the president to take some sort of action. And all of the indications are we are not hearing this from administration officials, but if you look at the rollout that took place today, it does feels at this point that action is imminent for this president. But again, they say, no final decision.

COOPER: And is the White House still reaching out to members of Congress try to get them on board?

ACOSTA: They are still reaching out. The White House is saying that yes, those consultations will continue, but they feel like that those conversations have been had to their satisfaction, at least at this point.

But Anderson, you heard the president in the cabinet room earlier today. He was asked about two things that he's talked about in the past as something that should be required before military action. Some sort of international corporation. He's probably not going to have that and congressional authorization. He certainly is not seeking that, only consultations. So, this president is very much going at it alone but it is his red line, he is going enforce it, Anderson.

COOPER: All right, Jim Acosta. Thanks for the reporting.

Joining us now, Fouad Ajami, senior fellow at Sanford University Hoover Institution, national security analyst Fran Townsend who currently sits on the homeland security and CIA external advisory boards, Chris Dickey, Middle East editor for "Newsweek" and "the Daily Beast" and chief political analyst Gloria Borger.

Fran, what the intelligence's assessment released today provide some evidence. It doesn't provide anything like a smoking gun. We heard from Kerry, you know, they are saying quote "our high confidence assessment is the strongest position that the U.S. intelligence community can take short of confirmation." What exactly would a smoking gun look like? I mean, it is a high confidence assessment enough?

FRAN TOWNSEND, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: This was a pretty -- look, Anderson, I've looked over several administrations with classified intelligence and this is a pretty compelling story. So, I think that with explains why you hear Jim Acosta is saying the White House is pretty pleased.

Look. They are able to tell a story. They see the chemical weapons being mixed about three days out. They can then trace that rockets coming from the Assad regime controlled areas into 12 different opposition controlled and heavy areas. You know, none of these weapons fall where the regime actually is in control. They then have open media that, you know, social media and open sources that tell you what the effects are shortly thereafter.

I mean, this is a pretty compelling narrative. They have all sorts of intelligence, human intelligence signals and intercepts as well as satellite. And so, I think they are feeling like they have made the best case they can make in terms of using the chemical weapons used by the regime as the trigger for crossing the red line.

COOPER: Fran, I guess there are people skeptical and say well, if they saw this in advance, if they saw this intelligence about a planned attack, why didn't they do something back then. A lot of these intelligence is not analyzed in real time, correct?

TOWNSEND: That's exactly right. And so, when you have all these different kinds of intelligence sources, satellite and signals intelligence and human intelligence, that has to be pulled together and often it takes a little bit of time to understand the picture, the connect the dots part we always hear about.

COOPER: Christopher, you were pretty opposed to this action yesterday. Did anything you heard today change that?

CHRISTOPHER DICKEY, MIDDLE EAST EDITOR, NEWSWEEK/THE DAILY BEAST: Not really because I didn't really doubt that Assad used chemical weapons. I don't think that really was a big question. I think we are playing this out a lot because of what happened with Iraq, with the failure to find weapons of mass destruction there. But the problem is not whether he used them or not. The problem is will the kinds of actions that are being contemplated have the kind of effect that's being articulated by administration in that I still doesn't believe.

COOPER: A warning shot across the bow.

DICKEY: I think the important thing to remember about this situation is that Assad has his back to the wall. This is a question of survival for him. He will use whatever means he has at his disposal. The idea to warn him and you say we want you to tie your hand behind your back and not use chemical weapons because we think it's bad thing, but you can go on fighting. Well, this is nuts. He's going to use everything at his disposal every chance he gets.

You know, in Iraq, one of the things that was weird about the Iraq war was that at the end of it, we spent so much time and money looking for weapons of mass destruction. If Saddam had them, he would have used them. And that's exactly what Assad is doing.

COOPER: Fouad, did anything change your mind? FOUAD AJAMI, SENIOR FELLOW, STANFORD UNIVERSITY'S HOOVER INSTITUTION: Oh, no. I mean, I think, as you know, I have been relentless on this question of Syria, that we needed do -- we needed to intervene, we needed to save the Syrian people. I have not changed my mind that this intervention that's contemplated by the president will not get the job done. And indeed, you yourself were quoting very important ally, for President Obama and that is the Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan.

Erdogan has just issued a very important statement. He shares 550 mile border with Syria. He is committed to the overthrow of Bashar Al-Assad and he originally has always been Barack Obama's most reliable and most trusted ally.

What does he say now? He says, cruise missiles will not work. We need to campaign. It interesting. What example did he use, which is remarkable? Kosovo, we need a Kosovo-like operation and the aim of this campaign should be to overthrow Bashar Al-Assad. That will be the way they view within the region. And the region in that harsh world around Bashar A-Assad, you don't shoot to wound. You shoot to kill. You shoot to kill. And I think President Obama wants to shoot Bashar and he wants to wound him.

COOPER: But as you said last night, there are no good options.

AJAMI: None. I mean, none. Our reputation as a country is implicated. The reputation and credibility of our president is on the line, and we have to do it. We have to go with the president. It's his call. It's his call.

COOPER: Christopher, you are skeptical of the whole idea the credibility is on the line and that this is something the president has to do in order to maintain credibility.

DICKEY: Well, I'm skeptical of the idea that this kind of attack that's being contemplated is going to restore or protect his credibility. In fact, it can destroy his credibility. If they carry out the kind of thing they are talking about, this limited tailored attacked, and Assad stays in power and the war goes on, how does that ensure that he keeps his credibility? I don't see it.

But you know, Fouad is talking about Turkey. I ask myself why is this in American -- why are the Turks telling us we have to carry out this campaign when the Turks themselves have an army with 400,000 soldiers in it? They are NATO power. They have enormous resources. If they really think you have to do something to change the regime in Syria, let them participate --

COOPER: I get --

DICKEY: They have got a lot of volunteering to do.

COOPER: I get a lot of e-mails and tweets from people around the world saying why should the U.S. be the one always have to do it?

AJAMI: It's the fate of the great power. We are the great power and we are the organizer of world order. We provide world order. We protect world order.

And Chris is right. I mean, the case of the Turks, they could do more. They would do more, but they would follow American leadership. So, with the Saudis, so with the Jordanians. It is the burden of facts Americano.

The American peace is what keeps this world intact. And if the United States doesn't do it, no one else will do it. And there is something about the Obama predicament now where he finds himself. He finds himself alone but you know what, Anderson, he's been a man alone from the very beginning. From the very beginning he sought no alliance. He is not really close to leaders. He's always be a solitary figure in the world and he prided himself perhaps on that and now he finds himself without allies.

COOPER: Gloria, we heard the latest polling that a narrow majority of Americans oppose action in Syria. The same polls shows nearly eight in ten Americans who are in congressional approval before military action. Does that hold any weight with this administration? I mean, any leader will say they don't listen to polls, but often they do.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Right. And I -- look. I think that what they see in these polls that the American public would like to hear before the military action is the Congress and the president are on the same stage, even though of course, they hold the Congress in very low esteem.

But when push comes to shove, this administration did not ask for the Congress to come back. They did not want a vote before the Congress because there was the distinct possibility, Anderson, that if the Congress were to vote on military action, it would not have approved it.

So now, you have a president who in his past life has said, for example, when Bush reauthorized the war in Iraq there needed to be a vote on it. Now, he finds himself isolated to a degree, as Fouad says. And he is dealing with the same kind of post-Iraq skepticism that in fact, he helped create when he was a senator, when he was a candidate for president.

COOPER: For both of you, does it seem odd to you the way this has just been so publicly debated by this president or talked about without any action actually being taken over the last several days?

AJAMI: Telegraph to Bashar Al-Assad, hey, your regime is intact. We are not going to do anything. We don't intend to over throw you. We don't intend to do any regime change.

COOPER: You're saying the message to Assad is just hunker down and you will live through it.

AJAMI: And in the case of someone like Bashar Al-Assad, that's the only thing he cares about. He doesn't care about the faith of his people. We have seen what he does to his people. It's really about the integrity, the survival of his owned regime and of the clan around his own regime. And what we have done ahead of the campaign is to tell him, this campaign does not intend to over throw you.

DICKEY: Well, there is one thing that sort of nags at my thinking about this. And that is -- it is actually an interview I did with (INAUDIBLE), former defense minister of Israel a few months ago talking about Iran and he was saying that one reasons that the Israelis calmed down about Iran is that they were convinced by the administration, by the U.S. administration, that it had a lot of scalpels it could use. They are convinced that it has some kind of technology and some kind of edge that it can used that it is like things we haven't seen before. Maybe, conceivably we'll see that kind of approach.

As it is, you know, if you've ever been on the ground in any of these bombing operations, these modern bombing operations, it is amazing. They are incredibly accurate. But we come back to want question again and again, if we're not going to attack the actual arsenal of chemical weapons, what is it we think we're going to do?

COOPER: Well, we will take a break with that. We are going to continue the conversation right after the break.

Barbara Starr, retired major general James "spider" Marks are also going to join the conversation as well and talk about how the military might actually unfold.

Let's talk about this on twitter during the commercial break @andersoncooper. It is my twitter handle.

Later, fresh outrage in how a judge justified sentencing the rapist of a 14-year-old, a girl who later took her life. The judge sentenced the man who did this to just 30 days in jail.

We will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Breaking news tonight among the many late developments, word that one of the navy's newest amphibious assault ships, the USS San Antonio, is in the eastern Mediterranean with 300 marines on board. Barbara Starr broke the news. She joins us now from the Pentagon with more on that and what would happen step by step, if and when orders come for strike against Syria.

So Barbara, if the president orders military action, there is a very specific sequence of events that takes in. What do you know about it? Could we say?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, good evening, Anderson.

There is indeed. It's called an execute order. That is what everyone is waiting for the president to sign and issue that order. When the execute order comes from the president it will come to the Pentagon to defense secretary Chuck Hagel, the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, General Marty Dempsey and then it go out to the fleet. There are five U.S. Navy warships with the tomahawk cruise missiles out in the eastern med. They will receive the order and then they will execute it.

What is it they will do to achieve the president's objectives, which he states to be detouring the use of chemical weapons, they will strike a series of targets, if ordered. This is all very much already in place. As I say, it's simply awaiting the president's orders at this point.

COOPER: I mean, do you know how long from the time that execute order is given to actually missiles going out is?

STARR: That's a really interesting question because, you know, the tomahawk missiles are programmed with GPS coordinates guided by the satellite to the very precise target they are intended to hit. That's why everybody talks about it as a precision weapon. Some of them are already programmed. We believe some may be reprogrammed to the targets may be updated along the way. That's what some of the military sources are telling us tonight. So it's a little bit unclear exactly how long it will take. But it will happen, we're told, very quickly once the order comes.

COOPER: Also, Barbara, I mean, from past attacks that we have seen, is there usually a first round and then they count of assess damage, assess where things are and continue rounds?

STARR: Yes, I think that's probably a good bet as to how this will unfold essentially. You will see a first round of attacks and then they will conduct what they call BDA, bomb damage assessment. They will send satellites ahead, gather whatever intelligence they can over the next couple days right after the first round of attacks, see if they achieve their objectives. Frankly, did they get everything they wanted to get? Did they destroy everything they wanted to destroy on the target list. And if necessary and if approved, they will come back with a second round of attacks. Just as you said, Anderson, we've seen this many times before.

COOPER: All right, Barbara. Appreciate it. Thanks for the reporting.

Back with our panel. Fouad Ajami, Fran Townsend, Christopher Dickey, also military analyst retired army general James "Spider" Marks.

General, let me start with you. I mean, if the goal is to kind of prevent further use but you're not striking the actual chemical sites, it's kind of a Morpheus goal so how do you target?

RET. ARMY GEN. JAMES "SPIDER' MARKS, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: I don't know if anybody saying emphatically from the administration that they will not target chemical sites. Certainly --

COOPER: So you can do that? You can target chemical sites?

MARKS: Yes, within the U.S. arsenal we have the capability. It is not employed as a result of cruise missiles. That doesn't do the job. What does the job is what's called a fair -- a fuel air explosive or bomb. Those are released by fixed-wing aircraft. So, the scenario, Anderson, that you just described which is cruise missiles take out the integrated air defenses, takes out the commander control, takes out the delivery systems, in other words blinds Assad's ability to react. We then execute BDA, battle damages assessment, to ensure that degradation has been achieved, if not, you re-strike the targets with cruise missiles. And then, once that degradation, that functionality has been decreased. Then, if the decision is made you can watch aircraft to go after the chemical sites that are known. The concern is where are the chemical munitions right now? They probably are not all in the pre-designated sites which a fix targets. They probably been disbursed.

COOPER: And General, if the U.S. decided they wanted to wipe out the air force of Syria, not institute a no-fly zone but destroy the air force, I mean, is that possible? Is it a huge air force?

MARKS: It's certainly possible. Absolutely, I would suggest that Assad, and I have no access in any classified cables, but Assad is probably already disbursed his aircraft. They might even be in Iran right now.

COOPER: That would certainly be sensible.

MARKS: Sure.

COOPER: It Does, Fouad, it does look like the window for any action is now.

AJAMI: It's imminent. It's imminent. And even if we don't support the president, even if we don't like the way he did it, even if we have all kinds of ideas about his conduct the last 2.5 years, I mean, I think it's interesting when you are taking -- when you take a look at the president and his chief lieutenant in this war, in this effort and that is secretary Kerry. Secretary Kerry has been very moving recently. I mean, he is really -- he has spoken of the morality of this issue in very gripping terms.

But there is something very interesting about secretary Kerry. This is penance for him because John Kerry, as chairman of the Senate of the Foreign Relations Committee in 2009 and 2010, was for the point man for the administrations courtship of Bashar Al-Assad. The administration, the Obama administration came in and said Assad is good. He is a reformer. He likes the music of Phil Collins. He lived in England. And the only reason why he is of Reagan is because the Bush administration hasn't really courted him. So we courted Bashar for two years and when the rebellion broke out in March 2011, we took our sweet time before we finally said this man has to leave. So, before we finally understood what he's about.

COOPER: You have no doubt, though, that any chemical weapons attack that took place by the regime was not some rogue element in the regime that anything that's done is the result of Bashar Al-Assad.

AJAMI: You know, Anderson, I'll give you a very good Arab express for that. I think it is odd. Not a bird could fly in Syria would Bashar Al-Assad or his family or his brother knowing. This man controls the means of destruction. This is his country. He owns it. His father gave it to him. And remember, his father's name is Havis, his owned son's name is Havis. And he, in his owned mind, would see him bequeathing the country to his son. Everything in Syria depend on the will of Bashar Al-Assad.

COOPER: Fran, take us inside the White House. You have been there. What goes into the thinking on a timetable like this? I mean, obviously, a lot goes into it, and is it strange in your opinion to kind of have this public debate where it's been telegraphed well, you don't want to -- you know, this is not regime change but a shot across the bow? Is that odd to you?

TOWNSEND: It is odd to me that you would say up front before you even began a campaign what you won't achieve and what you're not going to do. Why would you signal that to the enemy? And besides, you want this -- the battle plan Barbara described, the battle operation, you want to take an assessment. Have you been successful? Do you want to go back and strike? And so, in advance of this you want to leave yourself opportunity, right? You want to leave yourself freedom of action.

The other thing is look, the president has because of his own view of the Iraq war, his own votes and public statements, I think he didn't want to be seen as sort of acting and then announcing to the nation something that had already taken place. And so, he has been very public about coordinating with Congress, reaching out to allies, multiple times he had multiple conversations with other foreign leaders.

And so, I think some on this is he is constrained and politically how he acts by his own history and his own experience.

COOPER: All right, we are going to have another quick break. But more with the panel right after the break.

Also ahead tonight, growing calls for a Montana judge to resign over his handling of a rape case. He's accused of blaming the teenage victim. The sentence he gave the rapist is barely a punishment at all.

We will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Tonight President Obama may be on the verge of ordering military strike against the Assad regime in Syria over the suspected use of chemical weapons. Back with our panel now, in the few minutes we have left on this topic. General Marks, what will you look for in the next 24, 48 hours, what are you going to be watching in this strike?

MAJOR GENERAL JAMES "SPIDER" MARKS, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Primarily what I would be most interested in is what Assad is doing. We have given him ample time to prepare himself for this inevitable strike, which means he's probably going to go to black. He's going to turn off his system to command control capabilities. He will in fact do what I would call a rope a dope. He'll go ahead and take the blow rather than present targets that we can go after.

Fixed targets, we will attack and he'll do his best to make sure that the international community will see the damage that we're causing. So it will become a humanitarian issue and the issue of the chemical strikes and real raise on debt for the attack will essentially disappear.

COOPER: Christopher, you see a concern about a widening of this?

CHRISTOPHER DICKEY, MIDDLE EAST EDITOR, "NEWSWEEK/THE DAILY BEAST": Well, I think what almost always happened in the past whether we go after Saddam or Gadhafi in the '80 is you start out with these isolated actions, these limited actions and there's a response and you say well, there's a terrorist response, something happened and then there's another one. It keeps ratcheting up on both sides until you have in Libya for instance the bombing of Tripoli in Benghazi in '86. You have the invasion of Panama. They start out with little events and become big events.

FOUAD AJAMI, SENIOR FELLOW, STANDFORD UNIVERSITY'S HOOVER INSTITUTION: I'll tell you what I would like to see, and I would be looking for. I would like to see the Arabs do the right thing. I would like to see them celebrate, if you will, what American power is doing to this brutal man. I don't want to see the Arabs doing the usual thing, hide, duck, and say, this is an American invasion of an Arab country. They need to disown Bashar because that's beginning of redemption for them.

COOPER: Fran, what will you watch for?

FRAN TOWNSEND, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, I think we have to be careful to watch for retaliation. That is what will Bashar Al-Assad do? Will he take action against his own people and release chemical weapons. What will he visit? What horror will he visit on the Syrian people as a result?

COOPER: Well, Fran, appreciate it. Fouad Ajami, Christopher Dickey, General Marks, thank you-all.

Coming up, calls for a Montana judge to resign after he sentenced a teacher to just 30 days for raping his 14-year-old student, a young girl who later committed suicide. What the judge said about the victim that got so many people angry and what he's saying now next.

Also ahead, former NFL player Aaron Hernandez was in court today for a hearing for his murder case. What is next for him coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Justice today for the teen that killed the toddler in a crime that shocked the nation. Details ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Welcome back. In "Crime and Punishment" tonight, the rape sentence in Montana that has triggered anger, protest, and calls for a judge to resign. The troubling question at the center of it all is how did a teacher get sentenced to just 30 days in jail after he admitted to repeatedly raping a student? He was 49 years old at the time. She was 14 years old.

And why in the world would a judge say that the victim, a child, quote "seemed older than 14," as if that had any bearing on anything and that she was quote, "as much in control of the situation." As he said the adult authority figure who raped her? The victim isn't here to stand up for herself because she committed suicide and now prosecutors are looking for a way to fight the sentence. Randi Kaye reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RANDI KAYE, CNN INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It all began in 2007 when this Montana high school teacher raped Cherice Morales, then a 14-year-old student. Teacher Stacy Rambold who was 49 was charged the following year with three counts of sexual intercourse without consent. What happened next was even more tragic. Just before her 17th birthday in 2010, she took her own life. A mother lost her beloved daughter, and prosecutors lost their star witness.

(on camera): So prosecutors cut a deal. They would forgo jail time if Rambold admitted to one of the rape charges, completed an outpatient sex offender program and stopped contact with minors. In December the deal fell apart after prosecutors learned Rambold had been terminated from the sex offender program. He had unsupervised visits with teens in his family and sexual relations with at least one adult without notifying authorities so prosecutors re-filed felony rape charges against him.

(voice-over): Rambold was in court for sentencing on Monday when the case took another strange turn. Judge G. Todd Baugh shocked the courtroom when he ordered Rambold to serve 15 years with 31 days suspended. Rambold an admitted rapist sentenced to just one month in jail. Cherice' mother, Auliea Hanlon wanted justice. She blames Rambold for her daughter's suicide.

AULIEA HANLON, CHERICE MORALES' MOTHER: He broke the law. He confessed and got to walk away.

KAYE: The judge made matters worse when explaining his reasoning saying Morales was quote "as much in control of the situation as the teacher." Judge Baugh also said the girl seemed older than her chronological age.

HANLON: Chronological age, who is he to decide she's older than her chronological age? She was 14 chronologically.

KAYE: Two days later the judge apologized.

JUDGE G. TODD BAUGH, YELLOWSTONE COUNTY DISTRICT COURT: I'm not sure what I was attempting to say at that point, but it didn't come out correct. What I said was demeaning to all women, not what I believe in, and irrelevant to the sentencing. I owe all our fellow citizens an apology. KAYE: It was too late. Outrage on social media and billings became ground zero for protest against the judge.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Our community will not stand for victim blaming language anymore.

KAYE: This protest organizer started a moveon.org petition calling for the judge to step down. Tens of thousands have signed it in support.

KATE OLP, PROTEST ORGANIZER: He is a person who fails so deeply to understand the experience of victims. We feel that he ought to step down from his position as district court judge.

KAYE: Montana's National Organization for Women agrees.

MARIAN BRADLEY, NATIONAL ORGANIZATION FOR WOMEN: I want justice. I want the judge removed, and I want the sentence changed.

KAYE: Judge Baugh said the anger following the sentencing is quote, "perfectly understandable," indicating he has no plans to step down. He intends to stay on the bench until at least next year when his term ends. Randi Kaye, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Joining me now live is Criminal Defense Attorney Mark Geragos, author of "Mistrial, A Look At How The Criminal Justice System Works And How Sometimes It Doesn't." Explain to me how a former teacher who admitted to raping a 14-year-old student and then violated a plea agreement is sentenced to 15 years, but only has to serve 30 days in jail?

MARK GERAGOS, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, you know, the thing that's really amazing to me about this case is I understand completely and I'm on board with everybody getting upset about what the judge said, even the judge has conceded that what he said, you know, was almost nonsensical. What I don't understand is nobody rewinds this to the original plea agreement.

Randi talked about the original plea agreement he got for the exact same activity was no jail time, absolutely none. Why aren't people protesting and ask the prosecutor resign along with the judge. If the activity of raping and understand what this judge said was, well, it wasn't forcible. You know, blah, blah, blah, she had this chronological age, all of that is non-sense when you're below the age of consent.

But the fact remains, the original plea bargain by the prosecutor was no jail time, zip initially only because this guy violated the plea agreement got terminated from the program did the judge end up giving him 30 days to begin with.

COOPER: How does that happen? How does that plea agreement get -- I mean, how do prosecutors think that's a good idea? Is it not getting it? GERAGOS: No, I think what happens here is ultimately, when she commits suicide, you know, this poor girl, the prosecutors understand at that point and I don't know about the exact nuances but if they did not have her testimony preserved, she's dead. They can't get that statement in to be subject to cross-examination. So therefore, their case falls apart. So rather than just dismiss, they say OK, take a deal, we'll let you do no jail time.

That sets it up for what this judge did because when the prosecutors telegraphed to the judge we don't think this case is worth very much. We're not asking for jail time, he violates the plea agreement, the judge thinks OK I'll give him jail time. It's like they set the bar so low that he, you know, thinks it's OK to give 30 days.

COOPER: I got to read one other thing he said. He said the rape wasn't quote, "some violent forcible horrible rape," as if -- I mean, it is just unbelievable again.

GERAGOS: Yes, I mean, that's just unbelievable. Nobody whose got a daughter, you know, that's enough for you to just slap somebody upside the head.

COOPER: Mark Geragos, appreciate you being on. Thanks.

Coming up, another shocking case, a verdict in the case of an 18- year-old in Georgia charged in the shooting death of a baby boy during a robbery. What the jury decided when 360 continues.

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COOPER: Can people armed with cell phones protect children from thugs armed with guns? We'll take you to Chicago to find out.

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COOPER: Welcome back. Public school kids return to the classroom this week in Chicago and for many that meant going to a different school because dozens were closed at the end of last term. Understandably a lot of parents are on edge that their kids now have to travel to a different neighborhood with some of those neighborhoods marred by gun violence. The city has a program in place to keep kids safe, but as George Howell tells us many parents don't think it's enough.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GEORGE HOWELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The first week of school and sidewalks are busy again in Chicago with kids headed to class, but some are stepping out of their comfort zones this year.

VICKIE CUSTODIO, PARENT: Well, this particular route here, it's a high-crime area.

HOWELL: Vickie Custodio's kids are among the more than 12,000 students who will be attending new schools this year because of budget cuts. But to get to their new school, they will have to walk through some of the city's most dangerous neighborhoods. The city's solution, the "safe passage" program.

CUSTODIO: Days ago five people got shot and one died, normal people. They were saying actually the folks were getting a meal. They were picking up a meal at the time of the shooting.

HOWELL (on camera): And this is the route your kids will walk to school on?

CUSTODIO: This is the route that they claim would be a safe zone for my kids to walk to school. Do I feel this is a safe zone? I don't. I don't. I don't feel this is a safe zone, the best route for my children to take.

HOWELL (voice-over): Saturday, a 14-year-old boy was shot and killed a block away from a safe passage route and in the past few days, there have been more shootings on or near safe passage routes.

HAROLD DAVIS, SAFE PASSAGE WORKER: We are not in Afghanistan or Iraq, but kids call Chicago Chiraq.

HOWELL: Employees for the program insist though kids will be safe.

(on camera): What do you tell parents that are worried about kids going on these new routes to different schools?

DAVIS: I'll tell them that, you see this line vest. They will be on every route for the demographics. They will see us in the morning, afternoon and evening.

HOWELL (voice-over): Safe passage started as a result of the fatal beating of a high school honor student Darian Albert in 2009 as he made his way home from school. This year the program was forced to expand due to the closure of 50 schools. The nearly $16 million program has doubled routes and staff, 1,200 workers lined the routes this week, armed with only vests and cell phones, their job is to ensure students get to and from school safely.

(on camera): School officials make the point all of the shootings happen during non-school hours and they say safe passage is successful, no child has been hurt or killed since the program started, but all the violence lately gave some parents reason to worry.

CUSTODIO: I think all of this is just for them to defend that they close 50 schools.

HOWELL: Custodio took matters into her own hands, mapping out a different route for her kids. But even with that, she knows that getting to and from the new school can be a gamble. George Howell, CNN, Chicago.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Just getting to school.

Let's get caught up on some of the other stories. Randi Kaye joins us with the 360 News Bulletin -- Randi.

KAYE: Anderson, a Georgia jury has found an 18-year-old man guilty of murder for shooting and killing a 13-month-old baby during a robbery. He could face life in prison.

A judge announced today that former NFL star Aaron Hernandez will be arraigned next Friday on murder charges. He's accused of killing Odin Lloyd in June.

North Korea withdrew its invitation for a U.S. envoy to visit Pyongyang to request the release of ailing imprisoned American Kenneth Bay. He was sentenced to 15 years hard labor this year.

A 360 follow, computer files seized from the partner of "Guardian" journalist, Glenn Greenwald would endanger U.K. national security. That's what a British official told London's high court today. David Miranda was detained at Heathrow Airport and authorities confiscated his commuter gear. His partner Glenn Greenwald has worked with NSA whistle blower Edward Snowden -- Anderson.

COOPER: All right, Randi, thanks very much. "The Ridiculist" is next.

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COOPER: Time now for "The Ridiculist." Tonight, I'm going to ask you to ponder a question, if you could only have one of the five senses, which one would you choose? Perhaps you're leaning maybe toward hearing so you could enjoy music and the laughter of children. You're wrong, there is only one correct answer and it comes from the spring, which is the source for thinking, the interview portion of a beauty pageant. Listen and learn from a contestant in the Ms. Philippines pageant.

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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If I had to pick from the five senses, I would pick seeing because seeing is the best sense that we can ever see because seeing is believing, and believing into what you see is perfect and, out of all the senses, seeing would really be wonderful because -- thank you, that will be it.

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COOPER: You have to admit. It's hard to argue with her logic. Seeing is the best sense that we can see. I feel the beauty pageant interviews represent what could be use in educational and diplomatic situations. Take for instance about when Ms. Utah was asked about women earning less than men and what that says about society.

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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think we can relate it back to education and how we're continuing to try to strive to figure out how to create jobs right now. That is the biggest problem and I think especially the men are seen as the leaders of this so we need to try to figure out how to create education better so that we can solve this problem. Thank you.

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COOPER: Fine, fine, create education better, teaches America you have your new slogan. What better way to let them listen to the times, why can't a fifth of Americans find the United States on a map?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I personally believe that U.S. Americans are unable to do so because some people out there in our nation don't have maps and I believe that our education, like such as South Africa and Iraq, everywhere such as and I believe that they should -- our education over here in the U.S. should help the U.S. -- or should help South Africa and should help the Iraq and Asian countries, so we will be able to build up our future for our children.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Still hurts. Now look, some may cringe but I say look deeper. Look beyond the gowns and crowns and grab a fork and pick through the word salad and you will always find the croutons of wisdom on "The Ridiculist."

That does it for us. Tune in an hour from now at 10:00 p.m. Eastern for great expectations, a black America special, Soledad O'Brien. Thanks for watching. "PIERS MORGAN LIVE" starts now.