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President Obama Weighs Strike in Syria; Labor Day Weekend Weather; Crisis in Syria; Exhumations Begin at Florida School; NFL.COM: Tim Tebow Cut By Patriots; Injured NCAA Star Will Play Today; Texas Tops College Football Fandom; Fresh Idea For Fresh Fruit; Obama To Brief Congressional Leaders; Rescue Teams Searching Collapsed Home; Gun To Be Auctioned For School Fundraiser; Arias' Attorneys Want Jury Sequestered; Questions Surround Kidnap Case
Aired August 31, 2013 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: All right, here's what we've got this hour coming up. President Obama weighing a critical decision today -- what to do in Syria? And a briefing is expected at the United Nations today after inspectors gathered evidence to determine if there was a chemical weapons attack. We have reporters in New York, Washington and, of course, around the world.
And investigators are digging into a dark past at an old reform school in Florida. They're exhuming unmarked graves and we'll have more on the disturbing story straight ahead.
And three weeks after 16-year-old Hannah Anderson was rescued, she appears to be recovering from her terrible ordeal, but there are still so many questions. We hear from a family member who wants to know why this happened.
United Nations inspectors have left Syria with bags of evidence and stories from witnesses about a deadly chemical weapon attack. As the world waits to hear what they found, the United Nations appears to be getting ready -- rather, the United States appears to be getting ready for a strike: U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and President Barack Obama making the case to take action yesterday.
We're covering every angle of the crisis in Syria. Barbara Starr at the Pentagon, Jill Dougherty at the White House, Nick Payton Walsh at the United Nations in New York and Fred Pleitgen joining us from Beirut, Lebanon.
So let's begin at the Pentagon. Barbara, what moves has the military already made to perhaps get in place for any possible strikes?
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well Fred, by all accounts everything is in place. It simply awaits a decision from the President to execute an order to strike. There are still five U.S. Navy warships in the eastern Mediterranean, about 40 Tomahawk cruise missiles on each of them. These are very precise weapons guided to their preplanned targets by satellite coordinates, 1,000-pound warheads on them so, very lethal. The target list, by all accounts, will include command and control centers, regime elements, weapons delivery systems areas, that sort of thing. Anything they can get after that they can tie to potential chemical weapons attack or the regime itself and its efforts to engage in chemical weapons attacks.
So that's what we're looking at. But still, at this hour it awaits officially a decision from the President. He has to sign an execute order, it has to come over to the Pentagon and then things will get moving if that happens -- Fred.
WHITFIELD: So Barbara, as you know, you know the U.K. said no to any involvement, but could the U.S. get help from other countries if indeed, there is a strike?
STARR: Well, there's help and there's help. And I think that's really an important question. There's no indication at this point of any other country at the moment in a major way participating in this openly, publicly, with its weapons systems. That's not on the table publicly at least at the moment in any way.
But make no mistake, in that region the intelligence services of both Israel, Jordan, Turkey, even some of the Lebanese intelligence services element are very active in the region, have a lot of especially the Israelis and the Jordanians, a lot of shall we say covert capability to understand what is going on inside Syria, help collect intelligence, and pass it on to the United States.
So there certainly is that level of effort still going on by all accounts -- Fred.
WHITFIELD: All right thanks so much, Barbara Starr. Keep us posted from the Pentagon.
Let's go to the White House now where senior Obama administration officials are holding a conference call with top senate Democrats and Republicans today. Jill Dougherty is live for us there now. So Jill, what is on the President's agenda? We understand that a number of people, including the Vice President as well as Chuck Hagel, all at the White House now, right?
JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN FOREIGN RELATIONS CORRESPONDENT: Well, yes. And we do know that that meeting -- I should say that conference call is going to be taking place with senior administration officials and members of Congress. But we've also been monitoring the driveway here next to the White House where all of the important vehicles of officials pull up and we have seen Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel coming here, General Martin Dempsey who is the chairman of the joint chiefs, and also Vice President Biden. And interestingly, Vice President Biden, according to his schedule, was supposed to be in Wilmington, Delaware, so they arrived. We asked why are they here right now because the understanding was that call with the Congress was supposed to be taking place this afternoon -- time not specified, but they're not explaining.
So anyway, they are here and the call that will be taking place will have all, as you can imagine, the senior officials -- Susan Rice, the national security adviser; Secretary of State Kerry; Chuck Hagel, defense secretary; and vice chairman of the joint chiefs; and the director of national intelligence.
Meanwhile, Susan Rice has been tweeting and one of the tweets that is kind of significant gives the reason. She says, quoting Secretary Kerry, "The core of the decision is U.S. security and preventing attacks on innocents using the world's most heinous weapons."
So that really in a nutshell is the core argument of why the United States, President Obama, would say that he has to take some type of action -- Fred.
WHITFIELD: All right. Jill Dougherty thanks so much at the White House. Keep us posted.
All right now let's go to New York where the lead U.N. weapons inspectors have arrived from Syria. The team is carrying crucial cargo, data from the sites of those alleged chemical weapons attacks -- these exclusive images from JFK airport upon that arrival.
Our Nick Paton Walsh joining us right now from the United Nations with the very latest -- so when might we hear publicly more details of the bags of evidence that were collected by these inspectors?
NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, we are supposed to hear from the U.N. spokesman in the next hour and a half or so, but it's not quite clear how much he'll reveal. Just to clarify, the samples taken from alleged chemical weapon attack sites in Syria, they have now gone on a German foreign ministry charter plane from Lebanon to The Hague in the Netherlands where you can presume testing will happen. That will take a while.
What we're seeing here in New York and those pictures you just saw from JFK late last night -- Angela Cane, who headed the U.N. inspections mission to Syria, she's come back here to meet the U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki Moon. Quite possibly that meeting is going on somewhere other than this building. We haven't seen anyone come in here just yet, but that will be updating him on her team's activities.
There had been expectations that he would then go and talk to the Security Council about those initial reports. He himself said that. That has since it seems changed according to a Western diplomat who spoke to me. They're going to wait for the fuller report which will contain the results of those lab samples being tested at the moment in The Hague. But there is still, of course, a lot of scrutiny now at what will happen here at the United Nations; how quickly will this report come forward; what will Angela Cane tell Ban Ki Moon because so much of this feeds into the International Court of Public Opinion.
The U.S. has put forward its intelligence. It's entirely clear that the regime was behind a chemical weapons attack. What the U.N. inspectors will find out under their mandate this is not a fact simply is whether or not chemical weapons were used. They won't apportion blame -- Fredricka.
WHITFIELD: All right. Nick Paton Walsh, thank you so much from the U.N. In Syria today it is a waiting game, waiting to see what the U.S. might do to punish the Assad regime for allegedly using chemical weapons on its own people. The last of the U.N. weapons inspectors left Syria today; they got a firsthand look at the places the rebels say were hit with chemical weapons and they talked with survivors as well. The U.N. is asking Washington to hold off on any military action until their report is filed.
Our Fred Pleitgen is monitoring the situation from neighboring Beirut. He is joining us live. So are you getting a sense that people on either side of the border are nervous or anxious about a strike?
FRED PLEITGEN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I would say they're nervous. I wouldn't say it's so much fear. I would say it's more nervous. That's absolutely right, Fredricka. And also, there's different reactions when you look at the Syrian military and you obviously look at Syrian civilians. The Syrian military came out in the form of a navy commander who talked to a Lebanese TV station. He said that the Syrian navy was ready to blow anyone out of the sea, that the sea would become a graveyard for anyone who attacks Syria -- obviously referring to those American destroyers that are in front of the Syrian coast.
The Syrians generally, the government has been saying that it is ready for any sort of attack. It hasn't however said how it plans to do anything except that it's also readying its air defenses as well.
Now the situation on the ground is very different. There's a lot of Syrians in the government controlled part of Damascus and other places who are really nervous about what's going to happen. I wouldn't say that they're totally in fear. When I was in Syria two days ago, I didn't see people massively leaving the country, but they were stocking up on food. They were stocking up on other things as well just waiting to see what happens. And of course, the things that they would be afraid of is if the Assad regime is destabilized by American strikes, whether or not potentially Damascus could become a battleground if the rebels then move in. And that's what the people there are afraid of.
Of course, on the other side of the front line in the rebel-controlled territories, many people are hoping that this military action would be more expansive than what the Obama administration is talking about, things like limited strike. They obviously want something bigger -- Fredricka.
WHITFIELD: All right. Thanks so much Fred Pleitgen. Keep us posted.
All right back here in the U.S. there is some progress to report in that massive wildfire in and around Yosemite National Park. Firefighters are gaining some ground. The fire is now 35 percent contained. The U.S. Forest Service says it now expects to have the fire fully contained in about three weeks. Almost 200,000 acres have been burned so far.
And parts of the country have been sweltering this week. Earlier this week record-breaking temperatures forced some schools in the Midwest to cut back on sports programs, and some of them even had to close, but now a cold front is marching across the country, so how will it affect the holiday weekend?
Let's bring in our meteorologist Karen Maginnis in the CNN weather center. So what can people expect?
KAREN MAGINNIS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Well, it will take a little bit of doing, but a frontal system is expected to move across the northern tier states, but look at the high temperature for today in Minneapolis -- around 90 degrees. So still kind of sweltering but not like those triple digits that we've got in the south central United States, but that front moves through, yes, you'll have to deal with some thunderstorms, but after that, those temperatures expected to be in the 70s.
So some pretty nice weather not for everybody, especially across the southeast we'll start to see some thunderstorms develop here, monsoonal moisture just kind of pouring in across the desert southwest. But what about those hot temperatures? Well, we'll find them all the way from Kansas City to St. Louis down to Ft. Smith. Triple digits, but it will feel like between 100 degrees and 100 degrees. You combine the temperature with the high humidity.
So take it easy. Over the next 48 hours, some pretty good thunderstorms rumbling around the Ohio River Valley, but not just there, across the southeast as well. So if you're heading to some beach areas, maybe Atlantic City, maybe you're going to coastal North Carolina, maybe down towards the Gulf Coast, I think you'll see more dry weather than thunderstorms, but can't say the same on Labor Day on Monday -- Fred.
WHITFIELD: Ok. It always seems to be the case, right on the holiday, Monday. All right thanks so much. Appreciate that, Karen.
All right so if the U.S. does strike Syria, what would it look like? What would be targeted? We dig into what could happen with a retired Army major general next.
And a family is asking why after two alleged murders and an abduction -- the family of Hannah Anderson with lingering questions.
WHITFIELD: Welcome back. In the next hour the United Nations has scheduled a briefing with reporters on the situation in Syria. You will see it live as it happens here on CNN. It is set for 12:30 Eastern time. Right now all signs seem to point to the U.S. taking some sort of military action.
Major General James "Spider" marks joining me now via Skype. Good to see you, Major General.
MAJ. GEN. JAMES "SPIDER" MARKS, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Hi Fred.
WHITFIELD: President Obama said there will be no long-term commitment, no boots on the ground. He said that yesterday in that very brief briefing. So what kind of action will we likely see?
MARKS: Well, the President has described what it's not going to be.
MARKS: I think what we're going to see is very narrow, very precise strikes about going against Assad's capability to deliver his chemical munitions. That means very precise strikes against his integrated air defense capabilities, his command and control capabilities, his delivery means, the rockets and the missiles that, in fact, where you upload the munitions, the chemical munitions, and then you deliver them. These are not being delivered by hand. They're being delivered by rockets.
So the United States will go after those and they'll go after those as Barbara Starr has indicated from her information from the Pentagon by way of cruise missiles that are probably going to be launched from the eastern Mediterranean where we have five warships. What will happen subsequently after those strikes is there will have to be a period of assessment to see what type of degradation, what type of damage has been done, and then there will be re-strikes into those areas and against those targets that have not been sufficiently degraded.
WHITFIELD: So with those warships comes the use of the Tomahawk missiles but then when you outline all those potential facilities that could be targets, how does this military strike prevent any kind of further chemical weapons contamination? I mean how do you get these weapons depots without causing more chemical destruction?
MARKS: One of two things. Number one is we won't, we the United States, will not strike those depots, those inventories of chemical munitions, but we'll deny their delivery. That's point number one --
WHITFIELD: Maj. Gen., Can I ask you to reiterate that?
MARKS: We have the capability to go after the chemical inventory approximates.
WHITFIELD: Let me ask you to reiterate only because we had -- we have a hit and miss signal. If you don't mind reiterating the beginning of your response to how the U.S. avoids any kind of further contamination of chemical weapons as it tries to take out these facilities.
MARKS: Well, Fred, I hope I'm coming through. Fred, the first thing that the United States will do, it will go after the -- it could go after those chemical stockpiles, those inventories, but it wouldn't go after those with cruise missiles. The cruise missile is not the weapon system to be used against chemical weapons facilities. There are other weapon system that could be delivered, but those would have to be delivered by fixed wing piloted aircraft, and that would only be done after the integrated air defenses in Syria have been destroyed.
WHITFIELD: I see. Ok, meantime, as for Syria, of course, Syria, the government has sufficient notice now about this potential U.S. air strike or whatever kind of strikes we end up exhausting. What do you suppose Syria is doing to, A, either protect its air arsenal? Has it likely moved that into Iran? What is it doing about moving a lot of these potential targets?
MARKS: Fred that is the question right now. Clearly Assad may be a monster, but he's not an idiot. He's a very clever man. He's a survivalist. I would anticipate that all of his aircraft have flown to Iran. They're probably positioned out of harm's way. He probably has taken all of his command and control capabilities, all his communications networks, all his computer networks, and he's shut those down so he has essentially gone to black intentionally.
So it's harder for us to find him. Then what's inside those stockpiles as we addressed have probably been moved and what's inside those facilities that will be struck have been packaged up and dispersed as well.
COSTELLO: All right, Maj. Gen. James "Spider" Marks, thanks so much for your time joining us via Skype. Appreciate it.
MARKS: Thanks Fred.
WHITFIELD: All right.
It has been a mystery for decades. What happened to all of those kids missing at a Florida reform school? Now they're digging up the past and exhuming the remains.
WHITFIELD: This weekend Florida is digging up its tragic past. After a year of delays crews are exhuming what are believed to be the unmarked graves of boys who once attended a reform school west of Tallahassee. It's closed now, but some former students say they were beaten there decades ago, and they remember schoolmates who disappeared without any explanation. Ed Lavandera has been following this story for five years. He's joining us. Ed, how did this saga reach this point anyway?
ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, it's been a bizarre story, to say the least, and it has emerged decades and decades after all of these allegations actually took place. And right now we're on the grounds of where this cemetery is and for decades Florida officials say there were only 31 people, young students, former students of this reform school that was once here, buried on this site.
But then some researchers came in about a year ago and discovered that that might not necessarily be the case. And today, you see them behind. They have started the process of exhuming graves that they have found outside of this initial cemetery area. And the question now really is what will they find and what will it be able to tell us about what might have happened here years ago.
ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Thirty-one rusting crosses with no names mark the spot where students from a now-defunct all boys reform school were laid to rest long ago.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We've got something right there.
LAVANDERA: Now a team of scientists from the University of South Florida is trying to unravel the mystery.
ERIN KIMMERLE, UNIVERSITY OF SOUTH FLORIDA: Even if we can't name them, just the fact that they are not, you know, lost with trees growing through them I think is a big service to the community.
LAVANDERA: For decades state officials insisted 31 boys were buried here on the grounds of the school once known as the Dozier Reform School for boys. But the bodies were never properly accounted for. Some died in a dormitory fire in 1914, others from a flu epidemic in 1918.
But what haunts this place is the school's painful history. Over the last few years, dozens of former students have come forward to say teachers and administrators of the Dozier School dealt ruthless beatings, sexual abuse and even murder.
Using high-tech equipment, the researchers found evidence of at least 19 more bodies buried in this area. Their research of school records also showed the bodies of another 22 boys who died at the school were never accounted for.
OVELL SMITH KRELL, BROTHER DIED IN DOZIER SCHOOL: This baby hears him.
LAVENDERA: Ovell Smith Krell's brother Owen was sent to the school in 1940 and she never saw him again. She says her family was told Owen died of pneumonia but another student told her family a much more sinister story of what happened.
SMITH KRELL: He looked back and my brother was running out across a field, an open field, and there were three men shooting at him with rifles. I believe to this day that they shot my brother that night and I think they probably killed him and they brought him back to the school and buried him.
LAVANDERA: Ovell was recently swabbed for DNA with the hope that it can be matched to her brother. Before Dr. Kimmerle's discovery in the cemetery, a Florida state investigation in 2009 determined there was no evidence of criminal activity connected with any of the deaths or abusive treatment at the facility. One former school administrator has denied the accusations but admits spankings did take place.
No matter what is found during these exhumations, criminal charges are highly unlikely, but dozens of former students have called that investigation a cover-up and an attempt to whitewash the school's brutal past.
GLENN HESS, STATE ATTORNEY: You have to have witnesses and looking at all the statements that have been taken nobody could place a name with a homicide victim and a perpetrator.
LAVANDERA: Generations had passed, young boys are now grown men and they're still searching for answers buried long ago. (END VIDEOTAPE)
LAVANDERA: And Fredricka, you know, here in the town of Marianna, Florida where we are, this is a process that has really ruffled a lot of feathers in the town here. People who worry that coming here and digging up the past here essentially will make this town look bad. But there are dozens and dozens of families who are anxious to see what these researchers are going to find here and as we've talked about, what it might say about the past -- Fredricka.
WHITFIELD: Gosh, heartbreaking details. All right. Thank you so much, Ed Lavandera in Marianna, Florida.
And we'll be right back with much more on the NEWSROOM after this.
WHITFIELD: College football, well, it's back. Kicking off with a full slate of games today, but the biggest story this hour is on the NFL level. Tim Tebow, Jerry Greenberg is here with more on this morning's "Bleacher Report." We are talking about somebody who was big in college ball but what's the latest now?
JERRY GREENBERG, "BLEACHER REPORT": One of the all-time greats in college, but Tim Tebow's stint with the Patriots is over. NFL.com says the polarizing figure has been released just two months after signing a two-year nonguaranteed deal. The quarterback was on his third team since being drafted in the first round in 2010. Tebow completed less than 37 percent of his passes while playing in three preseason games for New England. He threw two touchdowns, two interceptions, and was sacked seven times. That's a lot of times to go down in three games.
Tebow was trying to win the backup quarterback job behind future hall of famer Tom Brady, once official Tebow will become a free agent. Last year's Heisman Trophy winner sacked by his own school. Johnny Manziel suspended for the first half of today's Texas A&M opener. He committed what the school is calling an inadvertent violation. Vegas, they still like the Augies even though he will just play in the second half. Texas A&M, a 28-point favorite over Rice.
Top ranked Alabama arrived in Atlanta Friday with quarterback A.J. McCarron wearing a walking boot reportedly for an ingrown toenail. No fear, Tide fans, McCarron still expected to play tonight against Virginia Tech. He's one of the best in the country tied guided tide to a 25-2 record the last two years winning back-to-back national titles.
McCarron won't like this, Hook them horns. May be the top ranked football team in the polls, but the social networking site has compiled county by county data. The longhorns received the most likes. Find your school on bleacherreport.com.
Trending on bleacher report.com, time for some bathroom jokes, literally, behind door number one you will find a pitcher stuck in the dugout bathroom. We're going to bring in the crowbar and finally Tampa Bay Rays reliever Fernando Rodney gets out and with 24 of your closest friends watching every moment, no worst place to get stuck in a bathroom than in a dugout. Fernando did not have to pitch in last night's game. Tampa Bay did lose to Oakland.
WHITFIELD: That is so embarrassing. It's one thing to let everybody know where you were and then you can't get out. Ouch. Do we have a little time still? I want to ask you a little more about Tebow.
GREENBERG: Let's talk.
WHITFIELD: It really kind of defies logic for a lot of people because they think if you're a great college ballplayer, clear I you can make that transition to the NFL, but maybe his story says it's not so easy after all.
GREENBERG: He was a great college player, but the talent margin is so great from even being an elite college football player to the next level at the NFL and the style of play in college is much different than the style of play with grown men in the NFL. Tebow, even for the college level, was undersized, didn't have traditional form, but was able to compensate with the greatest talent around him.
When he was at Florida, he had some of the best players around him who are now excelling at the NFL level. Now being undersized, not having the best form and technique is really what's hurting him. He becomes a free agent. He still wants to play quarterback. Many people think if he plays in the NFL, he'll have to switch positions possibly to a halfback or tight end role.
WHITFIELD: We are talking future. It's not like we're talking about him -- he's riding off into the sunset. He's still a player. It really may be a matter of finding the right fit, the right team that embraces you.
GREENBERG: He did have some success in Denver a couple years ago.
WHITFIELD: All right, hopefully he'll have another bout of success. All right, thank you so much, Jared. Appreciate it.
Across the southeast many farmers say this summer's torrential rains have virtually wiped out some crops. That could mean lower supplies and, of course, higher prices this fall, but no matter what, business at a fruit market will no doubt go on in one Atlanta neighborhood where Tom Foreman takes us on this week's "American Journey."
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's going to be our naturally sweetest fruit, passion fruit mango.
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): As sure as peaches pop out in summer, every day customers pour into Lottafruita seeking something fresh.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Fresh coconut. FOREMAN: And Myrna Perez knows how much that matters. When she moved to the struggling neighborhood, it was an urban food desert with plenty of fast food, but almost no fruit and vegetables like she grew up with on the Texas-Mexico border.
MYRNA PEREZ, OWNER, LOTTAFRUITA: I figured if I could not find this anywhere, why not open up my own establishment and be able to offer every single day for me for selfish reasons and for everyone else.
FOREMAN: Some predicted locals would not support her, but that was seven years ago.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you very much.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Enjoy your lunch.
FOREMAN: And Lottafruita has been growing ever since with elaborate fruit cups, ice creams, smoothies, sandwiches, and much more.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's nothing like this anywhere around here.
FOREMAN: Lottafruita has become so important to the community's identity, it's just been given a $50,000 expansion loan from the city.
BRIAN MCGOWAN, CEO, INVEST ATLANTA: This is an up and coming neighborhood being revitalized and so we're always looking to incentivize and assist investments that help attract and keep residents in neighborhoods like this.
PEREZ: I am, you know, a self-accredited, focal-appointed fruitologist only because I have a love and passion for fruit all my life.
FOREMAN: Perez's secret is simple. The first part --
PEREZ: Everything that we do here, we would want to eat and we put a lot of care and consideration into what we do and how we prepare it.
FOREMAN: And the second part?
PEREZ: A lot of work.
FOREMAN: That's made this combination of fresh fruit and a fresh idea into a home grown success. Tom Foreman, CNN.
WHITFIELD: And this just in to CNN from the Syrian government now. The Syrian prime minister saying this, quote, "The Syrian army's status is on maximum readiness and fingers on the trigger to confront all challenges," end quote. This came during a meeting with a delegation of Syrian expatriates from Italy according to Syrian state television. Some breaking news, state side now coming out of Washington, Dana Bash is joining us on the phone. So Dana, we know there have been some conference calls between the White House and Republicans and Democrats. What are you hearing?
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (via telephone): That's right. They're going to take place our understanding is in a couple hours with at least on the Senate side with Republicans and Democrats, but we also just learned that tomorrow, that's Sunday, the White House is offering or at least administration officials are offering to come to Capitol Hill on a Sunday to offer a classified briefing on the intelligence that the U.S. has on Syria's chemical weapons to any and all members who are in town.
Now Sunday is Labor Day weekend. Unclear how many will be able to make it in but it's certainly is significant for several reasons. One is that members of Congress have been real chomping at the bit to get, understandably, to get information in a classified way that makes them feel comfortable that any kind of military strikes would be justified, but also this is just tea leaf reading here, it might be questionable whether or not they would get that classified briefing after any military strike would start.
So it might suggest, emphasize might, that nothing is going to happen before tomorrow Sunday, but we'll have to wait and see, but that's the latest in terms of outreach which is continuing not just on an unclassified basis, which will happen likely today on the telephone, but in a classified way with House members tomorrow.
WHITFIELD: OK, so I'm sorry, Dana, how is that different from the conference calls that are taking place today versus meetings or discussions tomorrow?
BASH: It's a great question. It's different in a major way, which is what they're going to be able to do on a call for the most part, our understanding is to ask questions but probably not be able to get a lot more than what is being made publicly available because, you know, it's not classified. When people actually go and physically sit and look at classified information and talk to members of the administration, the Obama administration, and hear classified information, it's just a much richer, much more in depth kind of briefing.
And you heard Secretary Kerry said in his statement yesterday that we're going to continue to brief members of congress and make classified information, classified intelligence available. You know, and, again, we've talked so much about how there's the Iraq hangover. This is very much part of it. You know, trusting the intelligence is not something that members of Congress want to do very readily, Democrats or Republicans. So to be able to actually see in a classified way what the U.S. really think it is has on Assad's regime is important for these members.
WHITFIELD: All right, thanks so much for that and bringing that to us, Dana Bash. About 45 minutes or so we understand there will be a press briefing for reporters at the United Nations and that's scheduled for 12:30 Eastern Time. Of course, we'll take that as it happens. All this as it pertains to the crisis in Syria. We'll have much more on this and other stories right after this.
WHITFIELD: All right, it seems as it this is happening all too often now. In this case in Los Angeles, a home suddenly collapsed right in on itself. This happened last night, and you see the search and rescue teams there on the rooftop. They're using rescue dogs to make sure no one is trapped inside. Neighbors said they heard a strange noise late last night and then saw a cloud of dust where the house once stood. The fire department says the home had been abandoned for several years, but homeless people would sometimes seek shelter there.
All right, some people in North Carolina are outraged that a rifle is being auctioned off for an elementary school fundraiser. A non-profit hunting group organized the fundraiser and says 300 tickets have already been sold. The school approved the raffle, but will not allow the gun at the school.
And the attorneys for convicted murderer Jodi Arias are asking for her new jury to be sequestered. The judge has yet to pick a date for the new sentencing trial, which will only determine whether or not she faces the death penalty. Arias' attorneys say she can't get a fair trial because of the publicity around this case. Arias was convicted of murdering her ex-boyfriend in May.
A New Jersey court says if you text a driver and that driver gets into an accident, you could get in legal trouble. Our legal guys join us with more on this in the next hour, but for a preview, Avery in Cleveland, Richard in Los Angeles. Avery, might this be precedent setting ultimately?
AVERY FRIEDMAN, CIVIL RIGHTS ATTORNEY: Well, Fredricka, it is a jurisprudential first. If you're driving and somebody texts you and you get distracted and you create injury, is the texter liable in damages? Well, a panel made that decision and it is a wild one. We'll have the legal answers for you and more coming up.
WHITFIELD: Richard, how do you see this case ultimately?
RICHARD HERMAN, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Fred, do you mean if I'm at CNN in Los Angeles and I text someone who I know is driving in the state of New Jersey and that driver crashes, I can be held responsible for that? I don't think so, Fred. We'll discuss this later.
WHITFIELD: OK, we're going to look into that because this is going to get the attention of a lot of folks. During a lot of people doing that while they're driving, whether they should or shouldn't, right? We'll see you in a moment and we're learning more about a young girl, possibly kidnapped by a family friend. You'll hear from the friend of Hannah Anderson, next, and what one said she witnessed.
WHITFIELD: Three weeks now after 16-year-old Hannah Anderson was found with a family friend who allegedly abducted her, there are still so many unanswered questions. Why were Hannah's mother and brother killed and why was she taken, all by someone they called Uncle Jim. Here's Drew Griffin.
DREW GRIFFIN, CNN INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Hannah Anderson arrived at the memorial service for her mother and brother seemingly in an upbeat mood. Family members say it's a facade. They tell CNN she is confused not sure how to act in the face of terrible tragedy. But according to even those in her own family, there are many unanswered questions, why did a long-time family friend named Jim DiMaggio kill Hannah Anderson's mother Christina and Hannah's 8-year- old brother Ethan.
What led DiMaggio, as authorities believe, to leave behind timers that would set his California dessert cabin ablaze with the two murder victims inside and a question just as mysterious and far more delicate for members of Hannah Anderson's own family, why did DiMaggio allow Hannah to survive and in fact, kidnap her on a 1,000 mile journey to Idaho?
DAVID BRAUN, CHRISTINA ANDERSON'S UNCLE: There are some thinking along that line that maybe this man was terribly infatuated or more with Hannah, and it looks like it was very premeditated in my view.
GRIFFIN: In fact, there is more evidence DiMaggio may have been infatuated with a 16-year-old girl who grew up calling him Uncle Jim. Hanna Anderson's friend Marissa Chavez recalled a car ride with Uncle Jim and an awkward admission.
MARISSA CHAVEZ, FRIEND OF HANNAH ANDERSON: He said don't think I'm weird or creepy Uncle Jim, I just want you to know that if you were my age, I would date you.
HANNAH ANDERSON, KIDNAPPING SURVIVOR: In the beginning, I was a victim, but now knowing everyone out there is helping me, I consider myself a survivor, instead.
GRIFFIN: Hannah Anderson's brief comments on the NBC "Today Show" confirmed what little police have said. Hannah Anderson is a victim.
SHERIFF BILL GORE, SAN DIEGO COUNTY, CALIFORNIA: I want to emphasize that during the law enforcement interviews with Hannah, it became very clear to us, very clear, that she is a victim in every sense of the word in this horrific crime. From the time of her abduction, to her recovery in Idaho by the FBI's hostage rescue team, she was under extreme, extreme duress.
GRIFFIN (on camera): Two weeks after making that statement, nothing has changed here at the sheriff's department. Their investigation has found Hannah Anderson was nothing more than a victim in this case, pure and simple. Jim DiMaggio was the perpetrator and he is dead. The case closed. It is cut and dry.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: For them it's cut and dry -- GRIFFIN (voice-over): Jennifer Willis is the late Christina Anderson's aunt born three years apart, more like sisters.
JENNIFER WILLIS, CHRISTINA ANDERSON'S AUNT: I just get a feeling it's not as cut and dry as it seems. I get this feeling I don't know how he could have done something like that to his friends. I don't feel at ease about it at all. It's not cut and dry.
GRIFFIN: For years, Jim DiMaggio was the family friend. The cabin DiMaggio owned an hour outside of San Diego was the Anderson family get away, but Willis says in the past year family dynamics changed. Christina and Brett Anderson, Hannah's parents had separated. Brett Anderson moved to Tennessee. Then according to Jennifer Willis, DiMaggio began to face financial troubles that eventually led to foreclosure on the cabin they all loved. Jennifer talked to Christina just days before her murder.
WILLIS: She came to me and said he's having a hard time. He's losing his house. She's short on money. He doesn't know what to do. He's depressed and went there to be by his side one last time. That's the kind of person she was. Dropped everything and went there for him.
GRIFFIN: That's apparently when DiMaggio snapped. Christina and Ethan's bodies, or what was left of them, were found in this burned down cabin. Court document showed Ethan's body so badly charred an autopsy couldn't determine the exact cause of death. Christina Anderson has been hit in the head, wrap in a tarp and left to burn leaving a host of unanswered questions including why.
WILLIS: Beside the fact for him, he's sick, he's a monster. He did what he did, why did it have to happen to them?
GRIFFIN (on camera): Why did it have to happen to Tina and Ethan and not to Hannah?
GRIFFIN: I mean, I hate to ask these questions almost because we're dealing with a teenager, but was there any relationship between her and Jim DiMaggio?
WILLIS: None that I'm aware of, none that anyone was aware of. I would never have imagined anything like that with her.
GRIFFIN (voice-over): Amidst all the turmoil, Hannah Anderson's family is trying to determine what happens next. The teenager is dealing with the loss of her mother and brother, and the sudden return of her biological father, a man who returned from Tennessee hiring a publicist for his book and movie deals and telling Hannah's extended family his daughter will live with him. Through that same publicist Brett Anderson turned down CNN's request for an interview.
WILLIS: Hannah is back, safe and OK and from there I think it should be left alone.
GRIFFIN: Relatives say Hannah will return to high school here in the next few days and try to live, quote, "as normal life as possible." Drew Griffin, CNN, San Diego.