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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Iran May Be Plotting Retaliatory Strike Against U.S. Baghdad Embassy; President Barack Obama to Address Americans Tuesday; New York Times Issues Major Correction
Aired September 6, 2013 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Erin, thanks.
We begin with breaking news that Iran may already be plotting a retaliatory strike against the U.S. embassy in Baghdad if there is U.S. military action against Syria. That's coming from a senior U.S. official who spoke with CNN's Barbara Starr. The United States is, of course, looking closely at all intelligence from the region, not only because of a possible U.S. strike against Syria but also as September 11th approaches, which is not only the one-year anniversary of the attack on the U.S. compounds in Benghazi, Libya, but also of course the 12-year anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks.
Also tonight, a major correction by the "New York Times" over the video everyone has been talking about. It is a video purportedly showing Syrian rebels executing soldiers loyal to the Assad regime. What the "Times" describes as the brutal and ruthless tactics adopted by groups in Syria. A warning, the images are incredibly disturbing.
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TAPPER: The video obviously got a dramatic response from everyone up to and including secretary of state John Kerry. It's a video the "Times" said was filmed in April of this year. But now, the "Times" has issued a correction saying the video was actually made in the spring of 2012.
Joining me now live, CNN national secure analyst Fran Townsend, member of the CIA and DHS external advisory boards.
Fran, I want to ask you about this video obtained by the "New York Times" in a second. But first, this news that Iran may be planning retaliation against U.S. interests, in particular the U.S. embassy in Iraq. How big a cause for concern is that?
FRAN TOWNSEND, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CONTRIBUTOR: Well, tremendous, Jake. But I think we have got to understand that an Iranian retaliation for any military intervention in Syria would have been expected both by military planners and by policy folks, including at the White House. After all, let's remember Iran, the Quds force was part of who planned the attack to assassinate the Saudi ambassador here in Washington. There is a long established financial and policy relationship between the Quds force and Iranian authorities and Hezbollah, which has had sanctuary inside Syria for decades. And so, that they would retaliate for an attack against the Assad regime that's been their ally is not really a surprise to me.
TAPPER: Fran, there are also of course other possible targets mentioned for retaliation. We have heard concerns expressed about U.S. interests in Lebanon, in Turkey, in Israel. What does your gut tell you when you hear about these types of potential targets?
TOWNSEND: Well, you know, the first thing that your enemies look for are vulnerabilities, where do they have assets and where are your vulnerabilities. And so, targets related to the United States around the world are always more vulnerable than something, getting an attack launched inside the United States.
It doesn't surprise me, both in Lebanon and in Iraq. They have a very strong presence and a lot of capability. Interesting, the Adana consulate which was also drawing down to essential personnel, obviously, this is being driven by, as the "Wall Street Journal" reported, some specific intelligence that's driven the decision to draw down.
TAPPER: Fran, the video obtained by the "New York Times," the one they posted saying it was from 2013, it's actually from 2012, it sparked a whole new round of concern and discussion about who exactly these Syrian rebels are, and would we be arming individuals or helping in any way individuals who are more barbaric even than the Assad regime. Does the fact that this video turns out to be a year and a half old, does that diminish those concerns?
TOWNSEND: You know, I don't think it will for most Americans. I mean, you think back, Jake, to an analogy. If you look back to Nazis and Hitler, there was a choice that we made in picking sides between good and evil. And you know, as I talked to people, I did a luncheon speech today to about 75 people and the resounding feeling when you talk to just, you know, average Americans is we are choosing between bad and worse, you know. None of the Americans that I have spoken to were sort of, you know, siding with the Assad regime, but they do have real questions about what is it we're trying to accomplish.
There's a big burden on the president come Tuesday, when he talks to the nation. I think most people are convinced chemical weapons were used just by the pictures alone. Many are willing to accept that they were used by the Assad regime. But the outstanding sort of driving question both in Congress and among the American people is, is it in our national interest to act. They are waiting to be convinced and they want the president to make that case.
TAPPER: All right. Fran Townsend, thank you so much.
Meanwhile, President Obama is trying to rally support for a military strike on Syria, support from Congress, support from you, the American people, acknowledging it could be a tough sell. The clock of course is ticking. Lawmakers returned from recess on Monday. And on Tuesday, the president will address the nation.
In Russia today, for the G20 summit, President Obama said that he was elected to stop wars, not to start them, but the United States has a responsibility, he said, to lead. One of many looming questions, what happens if the president does not get the votes he needs in congress, will he go it alone?
CNN's Brianna Keilar pressed the president on that today. Here's what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You know, Brianna, I think it would be a mistake for me to jump the gun and speculate, because right now, I'm working to get as much support as possible out of congress.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Joining me now live, chief congressional correspondent Dana Bash, CNN senior political analyst David Gergen and CNN political commentator Ari Fleischer.
Dana, I want to start with you. Where do things stand right now on Capitol Hill? Earlier in the week, we got the impression with house speaker John Boehner and house majority leader Eric Cantor, two important Republican officials, coming out in favor of these strikes. There was an idea that maybe momentum was shifting for the president, but I feel like we're ending the week on a different note.
DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Stalled. Very different note. I will just kind of answer that question by telling you what one senior congressional source who has access to their internal whip count, if you will, the count of where the heads are right now, the answer was it's completely up in the air, it could go either way.
That's not where the president wants this to be right now, a week after they, in the words of the White House, flooded the zone. Unbelievable amount of people here coming and briefing in a classified way, in a public way, phone calls being made. It has been unbelievable. And even after that, and especially members of the president's own party, there are still so many undecided members, because for lots of reasons, not the least of which is what they're hearing from people back home, which is do not do this. Even those people who are elected in districts where the president won overwhelmingly, they're saying do not do this, we don't care how much we support the president. It's the wrong way to go.
TAPPER: David Gergen, what would you have advised the president to have done to have created a more favorable terrain, obviously one week ago today, he decided he wanted to bring Congress in. That was a big shock to a lot of people in congress, big shock to members of his own national security team. How could he have played this differently?
DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Good question.
I think that had he thought ahead, you know, international relations is like playing three-dimensional chess. You really have to think ahead to the moves, not just this move but three or four moves down the road. And it's clear had the president decided early on that he was going to go to Congress, it would have saved him a lot of trouble. They wouldn't have had that negative vote in parliament, for example, in the British parliament.
But more importantly, the public would have understood this was going to come to a head. The members of Congress would have understood and they could have made their arguments in a longer term way.
And now, I think if you look at it, go back to Dana's point, its members are still undecided because they want to see the president commit the country before they commit the Congress. They want to see the president bring the country around. And right now, the Gallup poll, most recent poll came out today, shows support for intervention is 51 percent against, 36 percent for, the lowest support for intervention than anything gallop has polled in over 20 years.
TAPPER: Ari Fleisher, former Bush White House press secretary, I want to play for you something president Obama said last year. Let's take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: For us to take military action, unilaterally as someone suggested, or to think that somehow there is some simple solution, I think is a mistake.
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TAPPER: The White House obviously will say that the use of chemical weapons changed the equation. What's your view on how the White House has been talking to the public and to the media, and to congress, about this red line, the use of chemical weapons?
ARI FLEISCHER, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Well, the fatal flaw was I don't know that the president really meant it when he called it a red line in the first place. It was at a news conference, it was an impromptu statement. The "New York Times," of course, reported that his staffer was surprised he said it and called it a red line after the White House took a bit of scramble.
I think that was from the beginning, the problem. The president put himself out on a limb and now he's finding he wants to jump off the limb so he's asking somebody to potentially saw it off so he won't have to jump. That's the problem.
I'm supporting him, Jake, because it doesn't matter if he bumbled his way into this. When any president of the United States regardless of party, commits America country to an action, the country should support the president. I support the president because if we don't, the risk abroad from our adversaries, Iran in this instance, Russia and Hezbollah, is severe.
What good is a presidential speech, what good is a presidential statement calling for deterrence or containment, we won't let Iran get a nuclear weapon, if his word has no value. The president's word when it comes to drawing red lines must have explicit value, and I will support the president in this. And because of that, bigger American want to be able.
TAPPER: Dana bash, the president has Speaker Boehner, Democratic Leader Pelosi on his side. Clearly, that's not enough to make this an easy win. How involved is the president himself going to have to personally be in trying to persuade members of Congress? We hear about Biden being involved, Dennis McDonough, the chief of staff being involved, others.
But how much does President Obama actually have to roll up his sleeves and meet face-to-face with members of Congress and the Senate?
BASH: Well, considering how much is on the line for him, it would be shocking if he didn't do more than he has ever done before. I mean, it should make health care look like child's play with regard to lobbying, because he has got to do it on both sides of the aisle in a big, big way.
The problem for the president, Jake, and you well know this, you covered him for a long time, is that he doesn't have great relationships here on Capitol Hill. Never mind the Republicans. The very Democrats who are reluctant because of what they are hearing back home, because of their natural state of being kind of against going to war, they also don't feel all that love from the president, haven't for years. So, he doesn't have a huge reservoir, maybe not the kind you would expect him to have even with his own party.
That's problem number one. Problem number two is that so many members of Congress I have talked to, again, let's just focus on Democrats, are saying that yes, giving the president a win is a factor, but the bigger factors are the two things that matter the most, what their constituents are saying and what they believe is really the right thing to do, because I know Ari doesn't want to hear this and it's almost cliche at this point. The decision that so many members made to go ahead and authorize force in Iraq and the fact that they basically had egg on their face from their perspective, is really influencing this in a big way and it's because of trust. Not that they don't trust this president. They don't trust the fact that this could spin out of control even if the president doesn't want it to.
TAPPER: We only have about 45 seconds left. Go ahead. Say what you want to say.
FLEISHER: I accept that and I think that's exactly valid. People always base what they do now based on what happened in history and Iraq did not go as hoped for or planned. So, I think that's a valid consideration.
On the Republican side, Republicans look at things like Benghazi and say can we trust this president to carry it out well, to do it right, or is it going to be so symbolic so we don't get mocked that there's no point in risking our military? It works in both directions. And Dana is right, the president has a big credibility problem on the hill.
TAPPER: Very quickly, David. Go ahead, David. GERGEN: There are a lot of new members who have come in. I actually share Ari's point of view that Congress ought to pass this, But I must tell you, there is not the confidence that the president has a firm grip on getting here and where he's going, and that is also a problem for him. He's got to deal with it on Tuesday night.
TAPPER: All right, Dana Bash, David Gergen, Ari Fleisher, thank you so much.
The United Nations refugee agency said just this week the number of Syrians who have fled the country has risen to more than two million, up from about 230,000 just a year ago. The U.N. agency says it has less than half the money it needs to meet the refugees' needs, basic needs, food, medical care.
But at one site in Lebanon, doctors are risking their own lives to care for wounded opposition forces.
Dr. Sanjay Gupta went there and here is what he found.
DOCTOR SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice- over): Hard to believe, but these are the lucky ones. Most refugees end up scattered in camps like this, with little medical care available. So four months ago, members of the free Syrian army took over this mosque in the Lebanese border town of (INAUDIBLE). They turned it into a very basic hospital.
The types of injuries, gunshot wounds, amputations, spinal cord injuries. You see all of those here?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
GUPTA: We are just walking distance to Syria. Look over there, just to those mountain passes.
Dr. Noor is Syrian, as are all the medical staff here. They left their country to take care of wounded rebels. To keep them safe, the hospital is secret. No signs outside. They only allowed us to take pictures on the patient floors, and we agreed to limit what we would show that would identify people here. You don't want us to show your face. How worried are you about your own safety?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's dangerous to do, to help these people.
GUPTA: There are many floors filled with patients and inside this room, every man you see is a rebel fighter. Every one of them shot or injured in combat. A sniper shot this man in the leg. This man's arm peppered with shrapnel. They are all afraid. None wants to be identified, including this 24-year-old who says he was walking to work in Damascus when a quote, "rain of missiles came down." He says he felt heat on his back and soon found he could not move his legs.
He did get a CT scan over here which showed the fractures and ultimately made it to this clinic. He did get an operation, ultimately you can see the screws in the bones here to do the fusion. The problem was that this whole process took way too long, three months.
The operation was unsuccessful. Can I try and examine your legs? Do you mind? Can I examine?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. You can.
GUPTA: Can you try and kick up at all? Nothing?
It is not likely he will be able to walk again.
In the last several weeks, Dr. Noor and his team have cared for more than 300 patients and the good news, he tells me all of them survived.
But basic supplies are now running low. Dr. Noor says these shelves were once filled with antibiotics and pain medications. Now he says there's just enough to last until the end of the month.
TAPPER: Dr. Sanjay Gupta joins me live from Beirut.
Sanjay, good to see you. The injuries you saw today seem quite severe, amputations, spinal cord injuries. Do the rebels you spoke to today believe there will be an air strike by the U.S., are they prepared for the influx of wounded?
GUPTA: I think they believe that there will be an air strike. Certainly that seems to be the prevailing sort of idea among the doctors, among the medical staff over there. And they are trying to do the best they can to try and prepare for that, Jake. But while they believe the air strike's going to come, they still don't have everything that they need to even possibly take care of the patients right now. So they talk about these emergency plans which are so contingent on getting more supplies.
But Jake, as you just saw, this is a particularly dangerous part, border area between Syria and Lebanon. So, it is hard for them to get supplies and they themselves, these doctors and medical staff, are worried that they could become targets as well in all this. So, it's a very sort of unstable situation for them and there's a lot of anxiety and nervousness.
TAPPER: And you were also in refugee camps less than half a mile from the border today. Are the physicians and the refugees with whom you have spoken, are they worried about another possible chemical weapons attack?
GUPTA: You know, it's interesting. We were basically walking distance from the border. We could see how these refugees were actually coming across from Syria into Lebanon. You know, there is so much confusion regarding these chemical attacks. Talking to some of the refugees over there, some of them are convinced that they themselves or family members were in fact exposed to gas. I mean, we have obviously no evidence that they were. But there is concern. I mean, I think a lot of it revolves mainly around confusion about chemicals like sarin. I will tell you, though, that what we know is that sarin itself is a pretty heavy gas so it tends to stay localized, pretty focal to where it's dispersed. So getting across a border, for example, coming across the mountain overpass into Lebanon, that's just not likely. And if there was any gas that came across, it would be pretty diluted by that point.
So it's not a real concern I think for the refugees in those camps for gas to come across. But you know, look, everybody's talking about it. People think that they have been exposed and there's just a lot of confusion still in these camps, Jake.
TAPPER: All right, Sanjay, thank you. Please stay safe, my friend.
Coming up, for years, "360" has been keeping tabs on charities that take your donations to help others but mostly line their own pockets. Tonight, a major development on one of the charities, Drew Griffin reported on after collecting tens of millions of dollars over two years. Now it's time for them to pay up.
Also ahead, the latest on the Montana judge who caused outrage by giving an admitted rapist just a 30-day sentence. Today, he tried to correct his mistake, the judge, but it may not be that easy.
TAPPER: Welcome back.
Over the past couple of years, CNN investigative correspondent Drew Griffin has been "Keeping Them Honest" by checking on charities that say they want to help those in need but in reality, mostly help themselves and their fund-raisers.
Tonight, California attorney general's office is announcing a big cash settlement from one of those charities that Drew and producer David Fitzpatrick have been investigating. This one is called help hospitalized veterans. And according to tax filings, it raised more than $65 million from your donations over two years, and its CEO, Michael Lynch, was paid a hefty six-figure salary. Here's a look at Drew's original report from August of last year, and then he will fill us in on what happened today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DREW GRIFFIN, CNN INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Help Hospitalized Veterans says it's all about raising the morale of our wounded and sick troops by handing out these craft kits in hospitals, kits designed to challenge the mind and help pass the time while vets recover.
But now, California authorities are seeking to make their own recovery. The civil penalties of more than $4 million for misrepresentations in soliciting. California says this charity paid excessive salaries, perks and conducted illegal deals with donated money, all for the benefit of some board members and officers.
BRIAN NELSON, SPECIAL ASSISTANT TO CALIFORNIA'S ATTORNEY GENERAL: This is a shell game. I think what we have seen at the end of the day is that instead of focusing their intellectual efforts and energies and the energies of the corporation on getting money to help the folks who are in need of help, our injured veterans, instead they spend all their energy, effort and time in these shell games to move money around in order to benefit themselves.
GRIFFIN: According to the charity's latest filings, the president of HHV, Michael Lynch, was paid a salary of $389,000 and that's just the start. In its complaint, California authorities say money donated for hospitalized veterans also paid for memberships in these two country clubs near Lynch's home, a cost of $80,000.
Donated funds paid for this condominium near Washington, D.C. for the use of charity executives. According to the complaint, while help hospitalized veterans has been raking in millions of dollars, $65 million in just the past two years, according to tax returns. The charity has misled the IRS and its donors about where the funds actually go. We know $44 million has gone to fund-raising. The charity says it spent $16 million on these kits for veterans, but the California attorney general's office questions the charity's accounting.
NELSON: There have been a number of misstatements to the IRS and other regulators in order to suggest that the corporation is much more efficient than it, in fact, is.
GRIFFIN: And it's not the first time the allegations have been made. California Congressman Henry Waxman has been trying to sound the alarm on help hospitalized veterans since 2008.
REP. HENRY WAXMAN (D) LOS ANGELES: As far as I'm concerned, they ought to be put in jail. It's so terrible what they're doing, using the plight of our veterans to make themselves rich and playing upon the good well-meaning Americans who want to help veterans and are willing to contribute to that kind of cause.
GRIFFIN: The state of California now wants all of the charity's board members fired, including the president, Mike Lynch.
Hello, Mr. Lynch.
Yesterday, we approached lynch at his rural home near his operations headquarters. He told us we were the first to bring him the news of the California complaint and said he would have something to say tomorrow.
All right. We will see you tomorrow.
At 8:00 this morning, Mike Lynch was at his office telling us as soon as he talked with his lawyers, he would be happy to answer questions.
Mr. Lynch, Drew Griffin. MICHAEL LYNCH, CEO, HELP HOSPITALIZED VETERANS: How are you?
GRIFFIN: I'm sure you're aware of the serious charges that are being waged against you.
LYNCH: Not yet. I'm waiting to talk to the attorneys. I haven't spoken to anybody. So as soon as I speak with Joe, when they call me this morning, be happy to speak with you.
GRIFFIN: Four hours later, Michael Lynch said this.
LYNCH: I have a statement that I have prepared. It says we hope that these unproven allegations will not diminish the more than 40 years of service HHV has provided to our nation's most valuable treasure, our veterans. HHV looks forward to the chance to tell its story and hopes that this action will not impede its ability to provide vital support to hospitalized veterans nationwide. Thank you very much.
GRIFFIN: What about, I got to ask you about the money, though. I mean, that doesn't answer any of the questions about the money that they're -- that's it? That's all you're going to say?
TAPPER: And Drew Griffin joins me now.
Drew, it took a year for the state of California to act. What happened today?
GRIFFIN: Well, there's been a settlement agreement. They avoided taking this to court. And it's kind of a mixed bag, you might say, for the state of California. The five active directors of Help Hospitalized Veterans, they will retire in this statement. But most of the money, that $2.5 million, actually comes from the former founders of it. A bulk of it comes from a life insurance policy on passing of the person. But we will see a change in leadership at HHV.
What we will see, though, is that HHV continues, Jake, which is somewhat puzzling to me given the allegations made against it. But I did talk to the attorney for Mike Lynch and HHV just a few minutes ago and he says look at the bottom line is this did not go to trial. All the charges against that group by the state of California are unfounded. All of the settlement agreement is agreed to. And Mike Lynch, by the way, is not being kicked off HHV's board. He is retiring after 30 some odd years. And he is going to get a retirement salary, somewhere in the neighborhood, if I'm reading this correctly, of $160,000.
So Help Hospitalized Veterans will continue as a charity. It's just going to do it without these five directors that we exposed on this show about a year ago now.
TAPPER: All right, Drew Griffin, thank you so much.
Just ahead, the Montana judge who made horrible remarks about a 14-year-old rape victim and is now trying to backtrack on the 30-day sentence he gave her rapist.
Plus, a man who says he killed someone and posted his confession on the Internet.
TAPPER: Now a "360" follow, a Montana judge who imposed a 30-day rape sentence and made despicable remarks about the 14-year-old victim was blocked today from the do-over he tried to give himself. His name is G. Todd Baugh, a district judge who's been widely criticized. The victim, Cherice Moralez, was raped by her former teacher and she killed herself before her rapist could go to trial.
Judge Baugh sparked outrage when he said she seemed older than her chronological age and was as much in control of the situation as her rapist. The judge later admitted his sentence was less than the mandatory minimum required by law. He planned to fix his mistake today, but Montana's Supreme Court stepped in and vacated the new hearing that he had called. He spoke out from the bench anyway.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JUDGE G. TODD BAUGH, YELLOWSTONE DISTRICT COURT: That issue could have been avoided all together if I had been more alert or if the state had pointed out to the court the correct mandatory minimum. By the state not objecting, the defendant, given that the sentence cannot now be changed, I don't think that argument will prevail.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Kyung Lah joins me now from Billings, Montana. Kyung, so the hearing today was canceled, but the judge still held court. Can you explain, not that everything he's done has lent itself towards explanation of any sort of coherent sort, but what's going on with him?
KYUNG LAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it's very hard to explain, but basically, it was just a very odd moment. There was no defendant in court. There were no lawyers. The seats were empty so the judge was speaking anyway, even though the state said the hearing is vacated. There are no do-overs here. The judge, Jake, actually sounded perturbed that it had been canceled. It was just very odd.
TAPPER: So what happens now? It's not as though this 30-day sentence is a done deal. It can be appealed. What's the process?
LAH: There is an appeal sitting with the State Supreme Court, but as far as Judge Baugh, he's done. He is out of the picture. As far as the Cherice's mother is concerned, good riddance. She says now that he is out of the way and the ball moves to the State Supreme Court, justice may be in sight for her daughter. Here's what she told me.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AULIEA HANLON, VICTIM'S MOTHER: I'm glad she was vindicated. He's guilty. He did it. He committed a crime. Here's the facts, boom.
LAH: You say she.
HANLON: My daughter.
LAH: Is today about your daughter?
HANLON: It's all about my daughter and other kids.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LAH: So the appeal is sitting with the State Supreme Court. Stacy Rambold, the defendant in this case, is in jail right now on that 30-day sentence. The minimum, the legal minimum here, Jake, is two years, expect to hear the prosecutor ask for much more than that -- Jake.
TAPPER: Kyung, thank you so much. Let's get caught up on some other stories. Isha Sesay has a "360 Bulletin."
ISHA SESAY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Jake, a former New England Patriots player, Aaron Hernandez, was back in court to enter a not guilty plea in the death of Odin Lloyd. Hernandez is charged with first degree murder.
She stood by her husband during his murder trial, but now Shellie Zimmerman is filing for divorce. According to the filing, she has no income and is more than $103,000 in debt. George Zimmerman was acquitted in July in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin.
Proof that seeing eye dogs don't have a corner on the market, that sugar bear opening the stable door of her buddy, Luna, who is blind. The rescue group that saved both horses says this happens every morning and every night, absolutely heart warming.
TAPPER: Isha, thanks.
Coming up next, a young man makes some remarkable confession posted online. It begins with the words "I killed a man."
Also ahead, antique sterling silver collections stolen across the south. Police believe a notorious thief with a trained eye for the finest silver in the world made be the culprit.
TAPPER: Crime and punishment tonight, four words that began a stunning confession. Quote, "I killed a man." Those four words were spoken by 22-year-old Matthew Cordle of Ohio in a powerful, highly produced video that runs, 3 and a half minutes long and is posted online. In it, Cordle admits to driving drunk in June, slamming into another vehicle, killing the driver. He has not been charged yet, but is expected to be indicted for aggravated vehicular homicide. Jason Carroll reports.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I killed a man.
JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It begins with a man concealed, speaking sobering words.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was trying to have a good time and I lost control.
CARROLL: Then his face and a chilling confession are revealed.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My name is Matthew Cordle. And on June 22nd, 2013, I hit and killed Vincent Kanzani. I will plead guilty and take full responsibility for everything I've done to Vincent and his family.
CARROLL: The video came as shock to Vincent Kanzani's family.
CORRIE OLCOTT, VICTIM'S DAUGHTER-IN-LAW (via telephone): It brings up a lot of emotion as far as, you know, Vince is gone. He'll never be back and this video just came as a reminder that, you know, and then this man's going to have to live with that for the rest of his life.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I take a different round, maybe I would get a reduced sentence and maybe I could get off, but I won't dishonor Vincent's memory by lying about what happened.
RON O'BRIEN, FRANKLIN COUNTY PROSECUTOR: It is a compelling piece of evidence as well as I think a compelling statement by the offender.
CARROLL: Franklin County Prosecutor Jon O'Brien viewed the video several times. He said despite the conscientious confession, his office will consult with Kanzani's family and recommend a lengthy sentence.
O'BRIEN: Obviously it will be a prison sentence and I presume based on the facts apart from the video, we would probably be on the high end.
CARROLL: And what does the victim's family say about what sort of punishment is due?
OLCOTT: It's a tough question because he made a decision that took a man's life. I honestly can't answer that. I don't know how to feel.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And the prosecution, everything they need to put me away for a very long time.
CARROLL: The person who Cordle first contacted about wanting to publicly confess was Alex Sheen. Sheen runs a web site called "Because I Said I would," a site where people make public commitments.
ALEX SHEEN, BECAUSEISAIDIWOULD.COM: I believe he should be treated fairly like everybody would in the legal system. I can say that he feels guilty. I know this much. The intent of this video is never to get him a lighter sentence.
CARROLL: Ultimately Sheen says Cordle's goal is to help stop others from drinking and driving.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Your victims can still be saved. So, please --
CARROLL: The prosecution plans to charge Cordle with aggravated vehicular homicide as well as driving under the influence, which carries a maximum sentence of up to eight and a half years in prison and now that the prosecution has this confession in hand, they could present their case to the grand jury as early as next week -- Jake.
TAPPER: Jason Carroll. Cordle's lawyer said he wasn't aware the video had been released but called it a testament to the character of his client. Joining me now, CNN legal analyst, Mark Geragos, a criminal defense attorney and co-author of "Mistrial." Mark, thanks for being with us. I suppose in this new media age, it was inevitable that we would start seeing confessions to crimes like this online. Is there any issue with the admissibility of something like this?
MARK GERAGOS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: No. The mother of the judge has not been born that will exclude this from evidence. It's going to come in. It's going to be the prosecution's best piece of evidence. But at the same time, I think, you know, it's admirable that somebody wants to take responsibility from the get-go. It's rare. You would be surprised. I often as a criminal defense lawyer get asked the question what do you do when somebody comes in and they confess to a crime? I said well, the first time that happens, I'll let you know. It's not a frequent occurrence.
Here, he did it and he did it in a way that has captured attention. There's hundreds of thousands of views of this thing. I think it will have an impact. Apparently, it hasn't had a real great impact on that prosecutor that you just showed in the package, because he's still talking about asking for the high end of the prison sentence, which to me is inexplicable.
Nothing's going to bring back the man who's dead and obviously, this guy did something that a lot of people would like to see others do. So I don't know that you punish him for that extraordinarily, and especially when the victim's family doesn't really have an answer as to what the punishment should be.
TAPPER: Mark, he didn't obviously ask his lawyer before he posted the video. It almost goes without saying that any lawyer would advise against posting it. You seem to be suggesting that because he did this, he is trying to do some good after this horrific crime he committed, that he should get some sort of leniency or at least not the maximum sentence. The young man we heard from the organization that posted the video says that's not the reasoning, but can that work to his advantage with a judge?
GERAGOS: Well, if you were his lawyer and he's done this video and he's done it, you know, there's no strings attached, he obviously has some degree of remorse. I would -- my argument to the judge is look, he literally did something that you very rarely see in the criminal justice system, he threw himself literally on the mercy of the court. And he's ready to accept responsibility.
If you're in the federal system, you get bonus points for that, even after you've been indicted. Here, he hasn't been indicted yet and he's getting, you know, he's got a prosecutor who so far apparently is not giving him any credit for it. I think that that's going to change.
I think that there are a lot of people who will be moved by this. I think that you can't help but watch this. I know a lot of people are cynical because it looks highly produced, but I don't know that that's his doing as much as it may be the web site's.
TAPPER: All right, Mark Geragos, thank you so much.
Up next, a man with a three decade long rap sheet is accused of stealing antique sterling silver of the finest quality from collections across the south.
TAPPER: A man by the name of Blain Nordal was transferred from a Florida jail this morning to Atlanta, where he was taken into custody on burglary charges. You may be asking why is this a big deal? Why am I listening to Jake say this on CNN?
Well, he is a notorious silver thief. Not just any silver, but sterling silver of the finest quality. He's been arrested dozens of times for burglary over the past 30 years and since he got out of prison three years ago, expensive silver collections across the south have been disappearing and some retired detectives had a hunch about who might be responsible. Here's Randi Kaye.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He had to have come through the woods in this direction.
RANDI KAYE, CNN INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Atlanta resident Bo Dubose had his home broken into on a rainy night in June.
BEVERLY "BO" DUBOSE III, $150,000 IN STERLING SILVER STOLEN FROM HOME: He took this pane of glass out from the outside and removed it, and crawled through that opening.
KAYE: Dubose showed me the burglar's path. First, the dining room, where he stole a silver mug that once belonged to George II. All he has left is this photo. The mug was worth about $20,000.
DUBOSE: Then he went over here and was smart enough to know that this was silver. Call them night boxes but it's for silver service, and raised that up and took the entire sterling silver set from here. KAYE: About a month later, these homes in Athens, Georgia were also hit, 90 miles away from Bo Dubose's. In each case, silver was stolen. Investigators were stumped. Who, they wondered, was brazen enough to slip inside in the middle of the night and haul away priceless collections of sterling silver? At 900 miles to the north, Connecticut Detective Cornel Abrozini had a pretty good idea who was behind these thefts. After all, he had spent most of his career tracking the notorious burglar, Blain Nordal.
He was first arrested in New Jersey in 1983. Over the years, he's believed to have burglarized as many as 500 homes, carting away a stunning $10 million worth of silver. He was last paroled in 2010 and the detective had been waiting patiently for him to strike again. In February, he got his first tip that perhaps Nordal was back at it, when a detective from Aiken, South Carolina called wanting to know if a rash of silver burglaries down south matched Nordal's M.O.
CORNELL ABRUZZINI, RETIRED DETECTIVE, GREENWICH, CONNECTICUT POLICE DEPARTMENT: Said tell you what, why don't you send me your crime scene photos and send me your narrative reports, let me take a look at them, and so he sent them up to me. It wasn't even two minutes, you look at these things. They're carbon copies of what we had. They were pretty much like overlays.
KAYE (on camera): You knew right away it was the same guy.
ABRUZZINI: No doubt. No doubt.
KAYE (voice-over): Abruzzini knew Nordal had gone to live with his sister in Florida so he slowly began building a map of thefts in the southern states. He was soon convinced Nordal was behind the disappearance of one of the most high profile silver thefts he's ever known. Silver spoons made by Paul Revere taken from this North Carolina plantation. Soon, the detective was advising investigators in at least six southern states about what to look for.
ABRUZZINI: He's about 5'3". I have seen crime scenes where Blain's actually gone into homes through dog doors. That's how small he is.
KAYE (on camera): Here in Greenwich, Connecticut, one of the most affluent communities in the country, Nordal was pretty active in 1995 and '96, burglarizing seven homes in all, including Ivana Trump. From her, he stole 120 silver salt and pepper shakers. In another burglary here, he made off with more than $200,000 worth of silver. Part of a flatware set for 110 people. Did he get sort of a high from doing this?
ABRUZZINI: He told us once that, you know, for the most part, life is very mundane and something like this gives him a high, gives him something to look forward to.
DUBOSE: Silver pictures.
KAYE (voice-over): Back in Atlanta, Bo Dubose was tallying up his losses. The burglary had raided his silver closet, too, running off with $150,000 worth of sterling silver. While Dubose and his wife slept. Investigators believe it was the work of Blaine Nordal and once again, security cameras weren't enough to stop him. Police believe somehow, Nordal managed to sneak around not only the homeowner's camera but his neighbor's, too.
Filmmaker Tyler Perry lives just down the street and his security cameras didn't catch Nordal, either. But that didn't stop investigators from moving in. Just last week, deputies arrested him in Florida. At 51, Blaine Nordal now faces 100 years in prison, three decades after his burglary career began, his taunting of investigators may finally have come to an end. Randi Kaye, CNN, Greenwich, Connecticut.
TAPPER: We'll be right back.
TAPPER: That does it for this edition of 360. Thanks for watching. "PIERS MORGAN LIVE" starts now.