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Syria Now and Kosovo Then; Drunk Driver Confesses in Online Video; Hernandez Pleads Not Guilty; Momentum on Syria Shifting Against President in Congress; SpaceShipTwo Test Flight Success; CNN Hero Collects Old Eyeglasses for Students

Aired September 6, 2013 - 15:30   ET



BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: The successful military intervention in Kosovo might be a blueprint for strikes on Syria in just in one key area. The U.S. abandoned efforts to get a U.N. Security Council resolution for Kosovo, as is currently the case with Syria. After that the Syria/Kosovo comparison gets a little bit more complicated.

Even today as President Obama made his latest pitch for strikes on Syria, he spent more time talking about Libya and Rwanda, even World War II, than Kosovo.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This wasn't even a situation like Libya where you've got troops rolling towards Benghazi and you have a concern about time in terms of saving somebody right away.

I'm not drawing an analogy to World War II, other than to say, when London was getting bombed, it was profoundly unpopular. both in Congress and around the country, to help the British. Doesn't mean it wasn't the right thing to do.

When people say that it is a terrible stain on all of us that hundreds and thousands of people were slaughtered in Rwanda, well, imagine if Rwanda was going on right now, and we asked, should we intervene in Rwanda?

I think it's fair to say that it probably wouldn't poll real well, like the intervention in Kosovo, very unpopular, but ultimately, I think, it was the right thing to do, and the international community should be glad that it came together to do it.


BALDWIN: I want to focus on that 1999 intervention in Kosovo, and bring in former U.S. Ambassador Christopher Hill who was a special envoy in Kosovo, part of the U.S. negotiating team in the peace settlement in Bosnia.

So Mr. Ambassador, welcome. I know that we often look at history in looking toward how we may intervene in possible conflicts, so some similarities that I found.

Took more than three years for the international community to step in and stop, in that case, it was ethnic cleansing. President Clinton worked hard to make the case to the Republican Congress.

There was an air campaign. No boots on the ground as we're hearing from Syria. And it was 1 million refugees. Death toll is similar.

Yet despite all of that, what is the biggest difference in your opinion?

CHRISTOPHER HILL, FORMER SPECIAL ENVOY TO KOSOVO: Well, first of all, I don't think there was war weariness in the 1990s. There was certainly concern about being involved in these places, but it's not like it is today.

Secondly, to me, the major difference is that when you talk about the air action in Kosovo in '99, you also have to talk about all the diplomatic action in '98.

I mean, I was the American envoy. The European Union had an envoy, Wolfgang Petritsch. The Russians had an envoy, Boris Miovsky (ph). And we'd coordinate our actions. We had a common plan that we were trying to get the parties to agree to.

At the end of the day after going through months and months of this and finally going to an international conference in a French chateau, known as Rambouillet, ultimately the Albanians, the Serbs said no.

And so the Serbs were kind of isolated in their unwillingness to follow an international plan. So when we did come to air action, everyone understood it for what it was, which was a last resort.

BALDWIN: Let me read you a quote. This is from General Wesley Clark, former NATO commander during Kosovo. This is what he said.

"The Kosovo campaign was also less tidily packaged at the time than it appears in retrospect. When the bombing began NATO had not yet formulated its political conditions for halting the bombing."

When we look at Syria now, we hear from, let's say, General Martin Dempsey saying this is about degrading the use of potential chemical weapons in the future, not necessarily about getting Assad out.

Is that -- the fact that there was no real end game in Kosovo either when the bombing began, fair comparison?

HILL: Well, there was certainly a political end game in Kosovo was to get the Serbs to accept the autonomy plan and allow NATO peace keepers in.

The problem in Kosovo is we were bombing the Serbs in order to degrade their capabilities for ethnic cleansing, but, in fact, ethnic cleansing is basically being carried out on the ground by militias at knife point, so it's not necessarily you can do from a strategic air campaign. Secondly, as we bombed and bombed, there was an expectation among some people that Milosevic would give up after a couple days. And Milosevic is a pretty tough customer, and so he didn't give up after two days.

And this went on and on and we weren't really sure when it would finally end. It took 77 days.

BALDWIN: You got him.

HILL: And I might add, one of the things that happened was the Russians came to him on about that 76th day and said, look, you know, we've been working with the Americans, we think they've got a fair deal and we're more interested in our relationship with the Americans than we are in our relationship with you.

And so this has to be conveyed to the Syrians and, in short, we need a heck of a lot more diplomacy on this one.

BALDWIN: Do you think pigs will fly before we see Vladimir Putin do anything like that with Bashar al-Assad?

HILL: Well, no question that dealing with Putin's Russia is a lot more difficult than dealing with Yeltsin's Russia, but I think we ought to really work the Russian angle a lot harder than we have.

And I do believe that at the end of the day Russia does not want to be a country standing up for a dictatorship that's used poison gas killing children. I just don't think at the end of the day that's where Russian wants to be.

And so I think we ought to continue to work that Russia angle as hard as possible because, if the upshot of this whole Syria crisis is a crisis in U.S./Russian relations, that's not a very good outcome for us.

BALDWIN: Ambassador Chris Hill, thank you so much.

HILL: Thank you.

BALDWIN: Coming up, a shocking confession.


MATTHEW CORDLE, ADMITTED DRUNK DRIVER: I ended up going the wrong way down the highway directly into oncoming traffic. And I struck a car. And I killed a man.

My name is Matthew -


BALDWIN: This man here admits to driving drunk, has yet to be charged, but what is his motive? Why go public online?

That's coming up.


BALDWIN: Just a short time ago in a Massachusetts courtroom, ex-NFL star Aaron Hernandez pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How do you plead?



BALDWIN: Hernandez is accused of orchestrating the shooting of his friend, Odin Lloyd, at an industrial park in June. Lloyd's body was found just a mile away from Hernandez's home.

Hernandez also faces a number of weapons charges. He'll be held without bail until his next court appearance October 9th.

Earlier this summer in Ohio, this 61-year-old man was killed by a drunk driver who was going the wrong way on the interstate.

That man responsible hasn't been charged, but that didn't stop him from releasing this chilling confession on the Internet.


CORDLE: My name is Matthew Cordle. On June 22nd, 2013, I hit and killed Vincent Canzani. This video will act as my confession.

When I get charged, I will plead guilty and take full responsibility for everything I've done to Vincent and his family.

If I take a different route, maybe I would get a reduced sentence, and maybe I would get off, but I won't dishonor Vincent's family by lying about what happened.

By releasing this video, I know exactly what it means. I'm handing the prosecution everything they need to put me away for a very long time.


BALDWIN: Let me bring in CNN legal analyst Sunny Hostin.

You know, he says he's willing to take any sentence. It gave me chills the first time I saw it. Have you ever seen anything like this?

SUNNY HOSTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I've never seen anything like this. I mean, certainly when I was prosecuting cases, Brooke, while you did have certain people that took pleas and, perhaps, even confessed, I didn't see anything like this.

And I think many people are going to question, was this a smart move? Did this, you know, is this going to help him? And I think it could.

We're talking about aggravated vehicular homicide in Ohio. He faces up to eight years. I'll tell you, those penalties, especially when you're involved in a drunk driving homicide are typically mandatory. No judge is really going to let you off the hook for something like that.

To suggest that because he made this video that he's not going to serve any prison time, of course I'm not suggesting that.

But, I do think it could help because what do we ask for when people take responsibility in drunk driving cases, right? We ask them to speak at high schools. We ask them to speak at colleges. We ask them to help the community somehow.

BALDWIN: Learn from me.

HOSTIN: And learn from, you know, have other people learn from them. Well, he's done that in such a big way.

I think we'll likely see more of this kind of thing. It's sort of the law catching up with social media. He's done a service, I think, to himself, but also to the community, to the world, perhaps. And it could help him ultimately in terms of sentencing.

BALDWIN: Sunny Hostin, thank you.

HOSTIN: Thanks.

BALDWIN: Back in a moment.


BALDWIN: I know that you have been following the political fallout from the president's plan to possibly strike Syria.

You know that earlier this week the word from a lot of political types was that Obama was looking good to get Congress on board to authorize this plan.

Some of the Republican party's heaviest hitter, House Speaker John Boehner, Majority Leader Eric Cantor had offered up support for the president, but it appears now momentum is shifting against the president.

Jake Tapper, chief Washington correspondent, anchor of "THE LEAD," Tuesday is a big day.

How does that momentum swing back for the president?

JAKE TAPPER, CNN CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's -- according to one House Democrat with whom I spoke, the plan has been, in his words, "a smart plan of multiple touches that build up over time," individuals reaching out to a number of key undecided members of the House and Senate, Vice President Biden, Ambassador Rice, Ambassador Power, reaching out to these individual members.

The issue right now, this House Democrat said, is that members are still in their districts and proximity is key, proximity to the White House, proximity to each other, proximity to leaders. The clock actually starts ticking, this Democrat said, 6:30 p.m., Monday. That's when Congress reconvenes, and that is when the real hard sell will begin.

But I agree with you, Brooke. The momentum has completely shifted against action in Syria.

BALDWIN: Jake Tapper, we'll be watching you, top of the hour, on "THE LEAD," lots to talk about here as next week is a big, big week for Congress and the president.

Coming up here, Ashton Kutcher, pretty excited about this video you're about to see next.

You are watching a test flight for a commercial spacecraft. Kutcher has signed up for the flight. Many others are as well.

The flights could be ready to take paying customers, if you've got the change, into space next year. That's coming up.


BALDWIN: All right, my fellow space nerds, if you were in the Mojave Desert in the last 24 hours and you heard this sonic boom, here is why, Virgin Galactic just took another huge step toward space tourism.

This is the second test flight of this experimental spacecraft called SpaceShipTwo.

Chad Myers, I'm sure you've ponied up the 200 grand to get on this thing when it happens.

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: And an extra 20 to be the first in line.

BALDWIN: Hey, cool, thanks.

MYERS: For you, too.

BALDWIN: Thanks.

MYERS: Mach 1.43, how cool is that? It sounds like "Top Gun," Mach 2.0 with your hair on fire, right?

So they shot this thing off at 46,000 feet from the plane, the White Knight II. It flies it most of the way up there.

Twenty seconds worth of rocket fuel, bam! There are two pilots in this thing. This is not unmanned. It went all the way from 69,000 feet high and then floated back down to the ground all safely, just like they wanted it to do.

This is the second flight. The first one only went 55, only launched the rocket for 10 seconds, and only went about Mach 1.2.

This thing went much farther, much faster, much higher, and they're on the way to getting Ashton Kutcher to the space station.

BALDWIN: And Chad Myers and Brooke Baldwin.

I remember talking to Richard Branson about this a couple of times, you know, on the show. Do we know when? There really is no real timeline as far as when the real deal will go up.

MYERS: They hoped December of '13. Now they're thinking '14. But they're much closer now.

Obviously this was a great test flight. The pilots said it was absolutely perfect. Go online and listen to the pilots breathe.

It's -- I don't know what kind of gees they were pulling, but it was something pretty cool.

BALDWIN: I don't think I need to anymore because that was awesome. Chad, thank you very much.

MYERS: You're welcome, Brooke.

BALDWIN: Virgin Galactic, good for them.

And be sure to watch tonight. Here is a preview of CNN's primetime.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: CNN tonight, at 7:00, "Erin Burnett OutFront," a harmless cloud of smoke or a dangerous explosive. Are manufacturers exploiting a loophole to sell dangerous materials that blow up on impact?

Then at 8:00 on "Anderson Cooper 360," can President Obama convince lawmakers to strike against Syria?

And at 9:00 on "Piers Morgan Live," if Congress approves an attack on Syria, what happens next? Is there an end game for the U.S.?

These stories, all ahead, on CNN tonight -- "Erin Burnett OutFront" at 7:00, "Anderson Cooper 360" at 8:00, and "Piers Morgan Live" at 9:00, tonight on CNN.


BALDWIN: Hope you tune in.

In the meantime, I want to tell you about this teenager, takes items people throw away, uses it to help kids around the world see better, a CNN Heroes story after this.


BALDWIN: For nearly 20 million visually-impaired kids worldwide, lack of sight is a big problem, and this week's 17-year-old CNN Hero is on a mission to change that.


YASH GUPTA, YOUNG WONDER: I was only five-years-old when I got my first pair of glasses.

When I was a freshman in high school, I broke my glasses. I just couldn't see anything, and so I really realized just how much glasses meant to me. Without them I really couldn't do anything normally.

I started doing some research, and I learned that there are millions of students around the world who need glasses but could not afford them.

I had this problem for one week, but these kids have their problems for their whole lives.

My name is Yash Gupta, and I'm trying to help students around the world see better.

I learned there are millions of glasses that are discarded annually in North America alone, so why not put them to good use.

So when I was 14, I started reaching out to local optometrists and putting collection boxes in their offices, so when a patient came to get a new pair of glasses, you could drop off the old pair of glasses.

We work with other organizations and then they distribute the glasses.

The other way we distribute glasses is by going on clinic trips.

(Inaudible) some glasses. We went to Tijuana Mexico today and we'll be distributing these to some kids in orphanages.

It's personal interaction, and that's what I really love, being able to see the people that we're actually helping.

Watching someone get glasses for the first time, it's just really inspiring.

Today we've collected and distributed over $425,000 worth of eyeglasses, which is equivalent to like 8,500 pairs.

I'm 17-years-old, and although many people believe kids can't make a difference, I have.

I think anyone can do that. It's just about being motivated and going out there and just doing it.


BALDWIN: And if you'd like to learn more about this particular CNN Hero, just go to our Heroes Web site. That is,

I'm Brooke Baldwin. Thank you so much for being with me. Quick note, I will be back here at work tomorrow, 4:30 p.m., filling in for Sanjay Gupta, who is in neighboring Lebanon to Syria, so we'll be talking to Sanjay tomorrow, specifically about what he's seeing as far as all these refugees in these neighboring nations.

We'll see you tomorrow on TV.

Meantime, here is Jake Tapper. "THE LEAD" starts right now.