Return to Transcripts main page
ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT
President Obama Cites Potential Syria "Breakthrough"; Assad To The U.S.: "Expect Everything"; Inside America's Secret Bomb Lab; Rodman Insults Obama & Clinton
Aired September 9, 2013 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: "OUTFRONT" next, will America lead a military strike against Syria? President Obama spoke with Wolf Blitzer today.
Plus, an exclusive look at America's top-secret bomb lab. We're going to take you inside for the first time ever.
And George Zimmerman detained by police after his wife says he threatened her with a gun. We have the 911 call. You're going to hear it here. Let's go OUTFRONT.
Good evening, everyone. I'm Erin Burnett. OUTFRONT tonight, breaking news, the president backs off from a strike on Syria. President Obama tells CNN he is leaving the door open to averting a military strike, but that the U.S. must keep up the pressure on Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad. You are going to hear Wolf Blitzer's interview with the president in a moment.
And then exclusive reaction from Republican Senator Marco Rubio, a Republican frontrunner for 2016, he is OUTFRONT tonight. Did the president convince him? Is he on board with this new idea? We'll hear from Marco Rubio exclusively.
But first, this last minute proposal from Secretary of State John Kerry to stop a strike that took over the day --
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN KERRY, SECRETARY OF STATE: He can turn over every single bit of his chemical weapons to the international community in the next week. Turn it over, all of it. Without delay and allow a full and total accounting for that. But he isn't about it do it, and it can't be done, obviously.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: He isn't about to do it and can't be done obviously, sort of walking the proposal back. But just saying it, it got a lot of momentum, France, Russia, and Syria, all jumped on it. And gaining a lot of momentum tonight, the president said it was real when he spoke to Wolf Blitzer. Meanwhile, Bashar Al-Assad also on television today with Charlie Rose, defiant and warning America of retaliation if there is a strike. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BASHAR AL-ASSAD, PRESIDENT OF SYRIA: You would expect everything, not necessarily through the government. It's not only the governments are not the only player in this region.
CHARLIE ROSE, CBS "THIS MORNING": Tell me what you mean by expect everything.
ASSAD: Expect every action.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Expect every action. Senator Rubio is standing by. We begin, though, with the president's conversation with Wolf Blitzer.
WOLF BLITZER, HOST, CNN'S "THE SITUATION ROOM": Mr. President, thanks so much for joining us.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Thank you.
BLITZER: This latest idea floated by the Secretary of State John Kerry picked up by the Russians, is it possible this could avert a U.S. military strike on Syria?
OBAMA: It's possible if it's real. And, you know, I think it's certainly a positive development when the Russians and the Syrians both make gestures towards dealing with these chemical weapons. This is what we've been asking for not just over the last week or the last month, but for the last couple of years, because these chemical weapons pose a significant threat to all nations and to the United States in particular.
That's why 98 percent of humanity has said we don't use these. That protects our troops and it protects children like the ones that we saw in those videos inside of Syria. So it is a potentially positive development. I have to say that it's unlikely that we would have arrived at that point where there were public statements like that without a credible military threat to deal with the chemical weapons used inside of Syria, but we're going to run this to ground.
And John Kerry and the rest of my national security team will engage with the Russians and the international community to see, can we arrive at something that is enforceable and serious, you know, one reason that this may have a chance of success is even Syria's allies like Iran detest chemical weapon, Iran, unfortunately was the target of chemical weapons at the hands of Saddam Hussein during the Iraq/Iran war.
We may be able to arrive at a consensus where it doesn't solve the underlying problems of a civil war in Syria, but the problem that I'm worried about right now where you don't have 400 children gassed indiscriminately by these chemical weapons. BLITZER: Ban Ki-Moon, the U.N. secretary general says not only control that the stockpiles of chemical weapons, but then go ahead and destroy them. He's ready to take that to the U.N. Security Council. That's a lot better than deterring the Syrians from going ahead and using these chemical weapons.
OBAMA: Absolutely. And that's why we're going to take this seriously, but I have to consistently point out that we have not seen these kinds of gestures up until now. And in part, the fact that the U.S. administration and I have said we are serious about this, I think, has prompted some interesting conversations. And these are conversations that I've had directly with Mr. Putin.
When I was at the G-20 we had some time to discuss this, and I believe that Mr. Putin does not see that use of chemical weapons as a good thing inside of Syria or any place else, so it's possible that we can get a breakthrough, but it's going to have to be followed up on, and we don't want just a stalling or delaying tactic to put off the pressure that we have on there right now. We have to maintain this pressure, which is why I'll still be speaking to the nation tomorrow about why I think this is so important.
BLITZER: Is this Bashar Al-Assad's last chance?
OBAMA: Well, you know, I think that it is important for Assad to understand that you know, the chemical weapons ban, which has been in place, is one that the entire civilized world, just about, respects and observes. It's something that protects our troops even when we're in the toughest war theatres, from being threatened by these chemical weapons. It's something that protects women and children and civilians, because these weapons, by definition are indiscriminate. They don't just target somebody in uniform.
And, you know, I suspect that some of Assad's allies recognize the mistake he made in using these weapons, and it may be that he is under pressure from them as well. You know, again, this doesn't solve the underlying terrible conflict inside of Syria, but if we can accomplish this limited goal without taking military action, that would be my preference. On the other hand, if we don't maintain and move forward with a credible threat of military pressure, I do not think we will actually get the kind of agreement I'd like to see.
BLITZER: You're being seen right now on CNN and on CNN International around the world.
BLITZER: Including in Damascus.
BLITZER: What I'd like to you do, Mr. President, if you're amenable to doing it. Look into the camera, talk directly to President Bashar Al-Assad. Tell him specifically what you think he must do to avert a U.S. military strike. OBAMA: You know, I don't need to talk into the camera. I suspect he's got people who will be watching this. We've been very clear about what we expect, and that is do not use chemical weapons, control the chemical weapons, and because now we've seen Assad's willingness to use chemical weapons, we're going to have to go further and give the international community assurances that they will not be used, potentially by getting them out of there.
At minimum making sure that international control over those chemical weapons takes place. That can be accomplished and it does not solve the broader political situation. I would say to Mr. Assad, we need a political settlement so that you're not slaughtering your own people and by the way, encouraging some elements of the opposition to engage in some terrible behavior as well.
You know, what I'm thinking about is right now, though, how do we make sure that we can verify that we do not have chemical weapons that can be used not only inside of Syria, but potentially could drift outside of Syria.
BLITZER: He said in an interview with Charlie Rose, that if you, the United States, attack, launch military strikes, he says he will respond anything, he said expect anything.
BLITZER: Not only from him, but from his allies. That sounds like a threat to the United States.
OBAMA: Yes. Mr. Assad doesn't have a lot of capability. He has capability relative to children. He has capability relative to an opposition that is still getting itself organized, and not professional, trained fighters. He doesn't have a credible means to threaten the United States. His allies, Iran, and Hezbollah, could potentially engage in asymmetrical strikes against us.
But frankly, the kind of threats that they could pose against us are typical of the kinds of threats that we're dealing with around the world that I've spoken of recently, which is embassies that are being threatened, U.S. personnel in the region. Those are threats that we deal with on an ongoing basis. They are always of concern, obviously we saw the situation in Yemen just a few weeks ago where we wanted to respond by getting some of our folks out of there. But the notion that Mr. Assad could significantly threaten the United States is just not the case.
BLITZER: One final quick question, 9/11, the anniversary this Wednesday. Should the Americans expect some sort of attack?
OBAMA: I think that we are always on heightened alert on 9/11, and we will continue to be. You know, what we've seen over the last decade is because of the heroism of our troops, because of enormous sacrifices of them and their families. America is safer than it was right before 9/11. But we still have threats out there, particularly outside of the homeland and we also have lone wolf threats as we saw during the Boston marathon bombing. So we have to remain vigilant. We're not going to be able to protect ourselves 100 percent of the time against every threat. But what we can do is make sure that we understand these threats are real. We have to be prepared, but, not overreact in ways that potentially compromise our values and our ideals over the long term.
BLITZER: Mr. President, thanks very much.
OBAMA: I appreciate it. Thank you, Wolf.
BURNETT: All right, Wolf Blitzer is OUTFRONT tonight. Of course, we're going to talk to Senator Rubio for the response in just a moment. But Wolf, you know, the president in your interview appeared to be backing away from aggressive military response to Syria. You know, we thought he was going to be trying to make the case, but instead, it seemed to be very different, talking about this proposal from John Kerry. Things have changed in the past few hours it seems.
BLITZER: Yes. They've changed dramatically in the past few hours from when the secretary of state floated this idea of some sort of diplomatic solution controlling Syria's chemical weapon stockpiles to the Russians formally putting it on the table. Then getting the Syrian foreign minister to go ahead and say he's open to that. Then getting the U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon to say he want to bring it before the U.N. Security Council, not only control the stockpiles of chemical weapons. But at the same time, go ahead and then destroy them.
Now all of a sudden the president's saying that potentially could be a breakthrough, could avert a U.S. military strike. So it's a dramatic shift in developments. I don't know how realistic all of this is, but certainly the president is leaving open that option. In the interview if you listen closely and I was certainly listening closely, he did say that when he met on the so-called margins on the sidelines at the G-20 Summit with the Russian President Vladimir Putin, they talked about this very idea.
He said Mr. Putin does not see the use of chemical weapons as a good thing inside of Syria or any place else. He said he discussed it with him. So maybe there's more that happened behind the scenes we're going to learn about what happened. If in fact, the Syrian leader, Bashar Al-Assad is ready to do what the Russians are proposing, what Ban Ki-Moon is proposing, that wouldn't resolve the whole crisis by any means, but it would certainly avert any U.S. military strikes.
BURNETT: Of course, it would, but you know, it's amazing, as you know, Wolf, you know, John Kerry's sentence then was, well, of course, this is basically ridiculous and impossible to do. But everyone seems to be jumping on it in their eagerness to avoid a strike. Now, you know, you're sitting there with the president today. This is a president under a lot of pressure on this issue, going to be addressing the American people tomorrow. Obviously was doing the television interviews today to try to set up with the American people. What struck you about what the president did not say? BLITZER: Well, he didn't say anything in the sense that if for example the Congress, the House and the Senate rejected, rejected this resolution, authorizing the use of military force he would then either go ahead or not do it, he didn't get into any of that, because the slightest, dramatic diplomatic development certainly changed the tone of not only my interview, but the five other interviews that he did with other news anchors on this day before he delivers his address to the nation tomorrow night.
So, you know, it wasn't the same kind of interview we would have seen if there wouldn't have been their potential break through, and let me take you behind the scenes a little bit, Erin. He seemed very relaxed. He seemed very at ease. He knows he's got a huge, if not impossible struggle win a vote of confidence in the House of Representatives.
He almost seemed relieved that the Russians have put this proposal forward. The Syrians have apparently tentatively accepted it. He almost seemed to take a deep sigh of relief that maybe there was a possibility of reaching out and doing something without military strike, which he clearly has no great stomach to do.
BURNETT: Clearly not. All right, well, Wolf Blitzer, thank you very much. And of course, again, a reminder to our viewers, when John Kerry put that idea out, before the Russians seized on it, he said basically, I'm just saying this. This is something that could absolutely never happen. Well, could it? Would it get support in Congress? Republican Senator Marco Rubio, exclusively next responds to the president.
Plus an exclusive look inside America's top secret bomb lab. If Syria was to strike as Bashar Al-Assad you heard threatened at the top of the program, this is the place that would be the nerve center of finding out what happened. Tonight, for the first time, cameras go inside.
Then to the man who confessed to driving drunk, killing a man, is charged. We're going to tell you what he is facing.
And George Zimmerman wife calls 911 on him.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED DISPATCHER: Is he inside now?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, he's in his car, and he continually has his hand on his gun, and he keeps saying step closer. He's just threatening all of us with his firearm.
UNIDENTIFIED DISPATCHER: Step closer and what?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And he's going to shoot us.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BURNETT: Our second story OUTFRONT, exclusive, the Republican response. Now you just heard the president tell CNN he's open to not striking Syria. One Republican frontrunner for the presidency in 2016 has said he's against strikes, but will he support the president now?
Senator Marco Rubio is OUTFRONT.
Senator, thank you so much for taking the time. You know, this morning, we woke up. I thought we were going to hear the president start to make his case for a strike to the American people in these interviews, something he hasn't done directly yet. But that isn't what happened. Instead, we heard him say John Kerry's proposal to avoid a strike on Syria, which would be for Syria to turn over its chemical weapons -- all of them - is actually on the table. Were you surprised?
SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), FLORIDA: Well, it was the first I'd heard of it. So certainly like the rest of us, we obviously heard that news for the first time today. And I think it's still kind of early to react in depth about it because there's some questions about it. It obviously would be ideal if Assad no longer had possession of chemical weapons.
But I continue to believe that irrespective of the chemical weapons or beyond the chemical weapons, it is still of vital national security interest of the United States to see the Syrian people have a chance to remove Assad from power. And so that issue still remains irrespective of the chemical weapons issue.
As far as the proposal that Secretary Kerry mentioned today, it's the first we've heard of it. There's a lot of questions I would want to ask about how something like that would work. But certainly anything that would take chemical weapons out of the hands of Assad is something we should consider.
BURNETT: Were you surprised that the president sort of jumped on it? Because you know, when John Kerry put the proposal out, he said he could turn every single bit of his chemical weapons over in the international community in the next week. But then he said, but he isn't about it do it, and it can't be done obviously. So he sort of basically said this is a ridiculous proposal.
But then the president jumped onto it. I mean, is this a deal that you could see yourself supporting? I know you said it's complicated, but what do you think?
RUBIO: Well, I mean, there's a couple questions one would have. So certainly, I mean, no one is against any plan to would supposedly get weapons out of the hands of Assad. I have my own concerns about whether he would legitimately do that.
Beyond that, I think there would have to be strong verification that it's actually happened, which I think could be potentially very difficult. Syria's an active war zone. I mean, there's a civil war going on in Syria right now. It's not exactly easy to go down there and patrol. I'd have concerns about how those weapons are transferred out of there; these convoys could be ambushed. So I'm - again, I'm not -- it's the first I hear of it. So I'm reacting to something here we've only known about for a couple of hours. When Secretary Kerry first mentioned it earlier today, he did so exactly along the lines of what you described as something that isn't going to happen. So I'd need to learn more about that proposal.
BURNETT: Now, do you think this idea is the president's way of backing down from a strike? I mean, does this look -- I know you're not for a strike. You're for - you know, you've been for, for example, helping the rebels instead. But does the way this has been handled, you know, building up to these interviews and an address to the nation to justify a strike and instead saying I'm open to not striking - does this make the president look unsure or ambivalent or worse, weak?
RUBIO: Well, look, again, I don't want to say anything that undermines the U.S.'s position globally on national security. I will say this, though. I think one of the things that has made this issue very difficult to deal with is the fact that for two years, the administration has not made the case as to why Syria matters. And I will confess, there are people in my own party that have gone around for two years arguing that we shouldn't care what's happening in Syria. We should care what's happening in Syria. It is of vital security interest to the unit.
Then the second question is, well, what do we do about it? I always believe and continue to believe that the best possible outcome is for Assad to be removed by his own people, by the Syrian people, and the U.S. should do what they can, what's possible, to make that facilitated.
Now, I thought it would have been a lot easier to do that two years ago, a year-and-a-half ago. I think accomplishing that has gotten more difficult because of these foreign fighters that have poured into Syria. And these videos that we're seeing now on a steady basis and these horrible things that they're doing as well.
BURNETT: Are you still open to arming the rebels? Obviously --
BURNETT: -- that's something that you've talked about a lot. But you know, John Kerry says look, 15 to 25 percent fighting there could be al Qaeda linked. So, you know, are you willing to run the risk your weapons get in their hands?
RUBIO: Well, that's the fundamental question. Number one is those foreign fighters that are doing these horrible things in Syria, they weren't there two years ago. They took advantage of a vacuum that existed because the more moderate elements weren't well trained and well armed. Meanwhile, these foreign fighters linked to al Qaeda were. I'm not in favor of arming the people that you're seen on these video that have been coming out. I'm not in favor of arming groups that are conducting mass executions. I'm not in favor of arming them.
I'm in favor of continuing to try to identify moderate elements, train them, capacitate them, and then deliver weapons to them in an open way and in a way that ensures a chain of custody that we control, that they can keep control of those weapons. I think it's gotten harder to do that. I will confess that it's gotten harder, and it may be harder to identify those types of rebels now. But I think we should still continue to try to explore that option.
BURNETT: All right, and still try. It looks, Senator Rubio, like the Senate vote on whether to strike Syria is actually put on hold. I mean, the Senate was obviously supposed to vote this week. But as you know a few moments ago, majority leader Harry Reid is delaying the process. Do you think the vote on the Syrian strike will get to the floor?
RUBIO: I don't know the answer to that, and obviously, I'm not in control of whether it does or does not. I know the president and the White House are worried about whether they have enough votes to pass it and what it would mean to them and what it would mean to their domestic agenda, not just their foreign policy agenda.
But I don't know where it's headed here in the Senate; I don't think anyone does. I certainly think it was wise to delay it, at least until we understand this proposal better. I have questions about this proposal that I'd like answered and learn more about its viability. But I still think it was prudent to delay it, given the president's new position on Syria.
BURNETT: Now another question for you. Obviously, some of your colleagues, as you're well aware of, said that this would be an act of war. The president said it's not an act of war. So he could have gone ahead with a strike without your approval in Congress. But now obviously he's asked for your approval. And some of your colleagues have said that if the president were to go ahead with a strike after the Congress votes no, that would be an impeachable offense. Do you agree?
RUBIO: I think the president - all presidents, Republicans and Democrats, have the right to engage the United States military in the defense of our country, particularly in an urgent matter. President Reagan did it in Libya. He did it in Grenada. President Bush the first did it in Panama. So there is precedent for that. I think the president has the power to do that.
I think in this case, this president, given the distrust of the federal government, and specifically the distrust of this administration that now exists among the American public, I think this president had to come before the Congress and seek approval given those factors.
BURNETT: Which makes sense, but not a direct answer to my question. So you're saying --
RUBIO: No, I think the president has the power to act in the national security interests of the United States. But I think this given president made the right choice in terms of submitting this to Congress because of the lack of confidence and the suspicion that now exists by a growing number of Americans. Not just about this president, but about the federal government. BURNETT: Right. All right, so not non-impeachable is the bottom line.
RUBIO: I think the president has the constitutional right to engage American military power. Presidents have done that. I think this president made the right choice, though, coming before this Congress, given the factors he's dealing with.
BURNETT: And now, obviously, of course, Senator, you're seen as one of the Republican frontrunners for 2016. And you know, obviously, questions will come to the floor. But most likely, you're going to have to vote on this issue, and there's no way around it.
Some of your rivals, most prominently, of course, Chris Christie doesn't have to vote on it. He doesn't have to say anything. We all remember how President Obama didn't have to vote on Iraq, so he could sell himself aggressively as anti-war. Hillary Clinton had to vote, voted for the war and then had to justify that. And arguably it hurt her significantly during the election. Are you jealous of Chris Christie?
RUBIO: No. Because first of all, this issue is not about politics. This is - I mean, we're not debating here what to name a post office. This is not some symbolic issues. This is a national security issue. If there's any issue that should be above politics, it's our national security. So this issue deals with that.
I've already voted on this issue. I'm a member of foreign relations. I voted again this plan. I don't believe it's the right response. I do believe there needs to be a response, and I outlined very clearly what that response should be. And that is an effort to openly arm vetted elements of the rebels, if we can find any. Creating a transition fund so that there can be a transition government in Syria once Assad falls, providing more humanitarian support for rebels and providing more support for our allies in the region that are taking on these refugees that are coming in.
BURNETT: All right, well, Senator Rubio -
RUBIO: And I apologize -- I said humanitarian aid for rebels. I meant humanitarian aid for refugees.
BURNETT: Right, right, I understand. Senator Marco Rubio, thank you so much for your time tonight.
RUBIO: Thank you.
BURNETT: All right. And of course, this all does come down to the votes. As you just heard Senator Rubio talking about, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid delaying tomorrow's vote on Syria, saying look, he doesn't determine whether it goes to the floor. But obviously, it may or may not at this point.
OUTFRONT tonight with the latest on the White House push on the Capitol Hill, John King. And John, you know I guess what happened today with these interviews where the president said here's a way where I would be open to not striking. It took everyone by surprise, including obviously people like Marco Rubio. And now you have this delay from Harry Reid in the Senate. So how much support does the president have when you look at the numbers?
JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Erin, Senator Rubio got it dead right in the interview just there. He said number one, let's give the Russian proposal some time. That's what a lot of his colleagues are saying.
Number two, he says at the moment, the administration doesn't have the vote. Here's the Senate count, the CNN count. This one up six today; the nos went up to 29. We have 46 senators undecided. Only 25 on the record saying they would say yes. You need 60 votes to end the filibuster. They believe they have that in the leadership. 51, you would need to pass it. So you can see obviously the president is a little less than halfway there.
This is the big group, Erin. If there is a vote, delayed indefinitely now, 28 Democrats among the undecided. A lot of those Democrats don't want to take this vote. So, they're hopeful this Russian proposal works out. They might feel loyalty to vote yes for the president, but a lot of them think that might hurt back home. So, that's the Senate. The administration's reasonably confident, even though those numbers aren't great, that it could get to 51 in the Senate.
Here's the tougher, steeper hill for the president. Look at this in the House. 158 on the record nos. That's up 10 just today. 25 yes. That is unchanged from this morning. You have 242 undecided - again, 146 of those Democrats, 96 Republicans. This would be the key group if it gets there.
But you can do the math. The president needs to get most of these votes to get to the 217 necessary to pass when you already have 158.
Two quick looks, Erin, at who we're talking about here. First, let's look at the Congressional Black Caucus. The president met with them today. Traditionally anti-war, more liberal members of the Democratic Party. Only four on the record saying yes, but only six on the record saying no. This group, loyal to the president, staying undecided. Again, many of them would prefer not to take this vote.
The other end of the spectrum, relatively new House Republicans who are affiliated with the Tea Party. You can see it right there. We've got 51 on our list; 33 already saying no. 18 undecided.
So indefinite delay. We'll see how the president making his case publicly affects the math. At the moment, the Senate within reach. The House still a very, very steep uncertain climb for the president.
BURNETT: That's pretty amazing when you look at all those undecideds. Maybe it makes sense why he's opening the door for a way out of this, whether it's a good one or not. Thanks to John King.
Still to come, America's top secret bomb lab. This bomb lab would play a huge role if Syria or anyone else were to launch a strike on America. For the very first time, cameras are inside that lab. They are CNN cameras, and we have an exclusive report next. Plus Dennis Rodman back from North Korea. And he's talking. What he says we don't know about Kim Jong-un, his quote unquote "friend for life."
And a controversy surrounding Diana Nyad. The 64-year-old, did she really swim 110 miles? Or did she not?
BURNETT: Welcome back to the second half of OUTFRONT.
Charges have been filed against an Ohio man who confessed in an online video that his drunk driving had killed a man. It was very poignant confession. And today, Matthew Cordle was indicted on charges of aggravated vehicular homicide and operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol. Prosecutors say he could face eight and a half years in jail.
Criminal defense attorney Andrew Hyde (ph) tells us he expects Cordle will get a lighter sentence because he's shown he's accepting responsibility for his actions.
Well, Diana Nyad, you know her, the woman who miraculously completed that swim from Cuba to Florida in about 53 hours. Well, now, some long-distance swimmers are questioning it. Wondering if she had helped some members of the marathon have been raising questions, one is a stretch in which Nyad didn't eat for 7.5 hours. There was also another period in which Nyad swam about double her average speed. Swimmers are saying they want to see the data from the swim released. Nyad's team says she's going to address her peers tomorrow and answer all of their questions.
It has been 765 days since the U.S. lost its top credit rating. What are we doing to get it back?
Well, the Dow closed higher, up 140 points, thanks to data out of China. China reported experts grew by 7 percent in August. That's more than expected. And, obviously, this is a good thing in one regard. It shows the biggest foreign buyer of American debt is starting to see its economy improve. That means they can keep buying the debt and that means the interest rates for this country to borrow remain low.
Our third story OUTFRONT, an exclusive inside America's top secret bomb lab. This lab, which is being seen on camera tonight for the first time will be the nerve center if Syria launches an attack against America.
OUTFRONT tonight, Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr with the exclusive.
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: CNN's cameras are the first ever allowed inside this warehouse. The location is so secret, we've agreed to only say we are somewhere outside of Washington, D.C. (voice-over): This is just part of 100,000 pieces of evidence from terrorist bombings in 25 countries.
Analysts here are looking at every bomb fragment for clues to a bomber's identity and bomb design. Bombs from Boston to the attempted underwear bombing of an airliner to IED attacks in Iraq and Afghanistan have all been analyzed here.
GREG CARL, TEDAC, DIRECTOR: So wherever they're collected, if a bomb goes off, we would like to see them, no matter where it is around the world.
STARR: Greg Carl runs the Terrorists Explosive Device Analytical Center, America's bomb lab.
Bombs from new front lines come here.
(on camera): Yemen?
CARL: Yes, of course.
STARR: Anything from Syria yet?
CARL: I don't want to discuss individual countries.
STARR (voice-over): But the latest worry is the threat of attacks in retaliation for a U.S. strike on Syria.
CARL: Without question, that's a concern.
STARR (on camera): You have already taken a look at the supply networks in the Middle East. You know what's out there. You know who the bomb-makers may be.
CARL: We have a good idea.
STARR (voice-over): Every day, the lab analyzes IEDs from the war zone. This box arrived just 48 hours earlier from Afghanistan -- the wires, the pressure plate, it's all here.
Then, there was Boston.
(on camera): Within hours of the attack on the Boston marathon, components of the bombs arrived very quickly here at the lab. And explosive residue was tested right in this room.
CARL: As long as we had bomb makers on the street, I mean, nobody has gone asleep.
STARR (voice-over): Here is the evidence from the underwear bomber Farouk Abdulmutallab. After analyzing it, the lab quickly warned this was a bomb with no metal parts, hard to detect at airports. For the first time, you see fingerprint technicians, scoured documents, cell phone parts, food wrappers, all seized off the battlefield.
(on camera): How often are you able to recover a print that's good enough to look for a match.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Approximately 60 percent of the time.
STARR (voice-over): Details that have helped the lab identify nearly 1,000 terrorists from around the world.
But budget cuts are on the horizon. Greg Carl just hopes the team will be here for the boxes that are certain to keep coming.
For OUTFRONT, Barbara Starr, Washington.
BURNETT: And our fourth story OUTFRONT is how terrorists keep getting money for all these bombs and attacks.
Juan Zarate is the former deputy national security adviser under George W. Bush, and author of a new book called "Treasuries War: The Unleashing of a New Era of Financial Warfare."
That book, of course, is available tomorrow, right?
JUAN ZARATE, FORMER DEPUTY NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR: That's right, Erin. Thank you.
BURNETT: All right. Thank you for coming on.
So when you see this report about this bomb lab and you think about the Boston marathon bombings, these horrific things that happened. How are the terror groups, these al Qaeda-linked groups and other terror groups in Syria getting their money right now? Who's paying them?
ZARATE: Well, Erin, a lot of individual groups and radicalized individuals don't have sources of funding. These are localized individuals who frankly don't need a lot of money to construct the kinds of weapons that are destructive.
But in Syria, I think the real problem that we are seeing a resurrection of some of the old funding networks, many of which we disrupted and dismantled over the last 10, 12 years, coming out of the Gulf, deep pockets donors, charities, fund companies that are starting to be revitalized because of the fight in Syria and the Sunni-Shiite fight happening in the region.
BURNETT: When you say coming out of the Gulf, I mean, I'm translating this into, this is coming out of countries that are ostensibly and formally very close allies of the United States government.
ZARATE: That's right. Countries like Saudi Arabia and Qatar --
BURNETT: Funding terrorists.
ZARATE: -- that are funding rebel groups and sometimes extremists to fight against the Assad regime. And the problem here, of course, Erin, is the fact that you have an inability to distinguish, often about the fungibility of money. So, money gets into the hands of these rebels, and they're not only to create bombs but also provide bread and medicine to people and win hearts and minds.
BURNETT: And 12 years trying to shut down this money. You're saying back to these traditional sources. So, how is that happening? Is the U.S., did we get lax? Start looking the other way?
ZARATE: No, not at all. I think what you've had is a rejuvenation of this sense of conflict in the region, and in particular, the fight between Sunni and Shia regimes themselves. So what that's done is reenergized those in the Middle East that want to support the Sunni fighters. And that has raised the risk and red flag about these former terrorist funding networks that in many ways we had suppressed.
BURNETT: Suppressed. Of course, amazing they did again. You hear about some people that live there giving money to terror. All right. Well, thanks very much.
And "Treasuries War", Juan's book, of course, you can buy that book tomorrow. It's fascinating. You look at this story, that is the front and center of it, the frontline.
Still to come. Dennis Rodman back from North Korea. He's spilling state secrets. He spoke exclusively to CNN and we have that.
And George Zimmerman detained by police after his wife says he threatened her with a gun. She called 911 and we have the tape for you tonight.
BURNETT: Our fifth story OUTFRONT: Diplomatic dribbling.
So, tonight, Dennis Rodman is spilling out state secrets, offering up choice words for President Obama and Hillary Clinton after he visited North Korea for the second time in six months. He's going back again in December, everybody. No joke.
Again, he met with supreme leader Kim Jung-un and actually held his new baby daughter, a man Rodman calls his friend for life. Well, guess what? Jason Carroll spoke exclusively with Rodman and he's OUTFRONT.
JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Dennis Rodman just back from his second trip to North Korea and on a defense about the man he calls a friend, President Kim Jong-un.
DENNIS RODMAN, FORMER NBA PLAYER: He has to do his job, but he's a very good guy.
CARROLL: Rodman says he saw Kim's softer side during the five-day trip, claiming he held Kim's baby daughter, Rodman announced to the world is named Ju Ae.
RODMAN: For him to give me his daughter for the first time in history, I hold his kid.
CARROLL: Kind words for Kim, harsh words for President Obama and his administration. When Rodman was asked about securing the release of imprisoned American Kenneth Bae.
RODMAN: Ask Obama about that. Ask Obama, ask Obama.
REPROTER: You said you're going to talk about it.
RODMAN: Ask Hillary Clinton. Ask those (EXPLETIVE DELETED).
CARROLL (on camera): You referred to the president and former secretary of state using a derogatory term, which was caught on tape. Do you stand by what you said about the former president and former Secretary of State Clinton.
RODMAN: Obama, I don't hate your guts. Hillary, I love you. Bill Clinton, I love you.
CARROLL: You refer to the dictator as a very good guy and a man who has to do his job. But how do you reconcile with the fact that this is man who's responsible for oppressing millions of his people.
RODMAN: I said this to him, I said, your grandfather and your father did some bad things, but I said you are trying to change something.
CARROLL (voice-over): Some experts not convinced of Rodman's efforts at diplomacy.
VICTOR CHA, CENTER FOR STRATEGIC AND INTERNATIONAL STUDIES: Here you have one of the weirdest guys in the world saying one of the weirdest leaders of the world wants to be normal. I think he is being used by the North Korean government.
CARROLL (on camera): A lot of people just want to make sure that you feel as though you're not being used in some way by the North Korean government.
RODMAN: If I was used, believe me, if I was used, it would be so different. They want to use someone way better than me.
CARROLL: You understand my question about the president and former secretary of state?
RODMAN: Yes, yes.
CARROLL: I mean, really, do you think it was appropriate language to use?
RODMAN: No, no, no, let me do this. I got it. The one thing, I don't agree with Obama on certain things. But the one thing I do, you know, directly, come talk to me, let's sit down and have a good conversation.
CARROLL: Rodman says he aimed to deal with Kim to train their players for the Olympics and he has arranged two games between the United States and North Korea beginning next January. As for Bae, Rodman says he's not going over there to rescue anyone, he says. He's doing all of this to open doors.
For OUTFRONT, I'm Jason Carroll, New York.
BURNETT: All right. Still OUTFRONT, police called to the house where George Zimmerman lives, 911 tapes have just come in. We're going to play them for you. Do they tell the whole story? What is happening here?
And Japan awarded the Olympic Games. But oh, what a horrible mistake.
BURNETT: Our sixth story OUTFRONT: George Zimmerman detained, two months after he was found not guilty in the death of Trayvon Martin. Authorities were questioning him. His soon to be ex-wife called police this afternoon. She claimed that Zimmerman was threatening her and her father with a gun. Here is the 911 call.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
911: All right. We do have units en route to you, ma'am. Is he still there?
SHELLIE ZIMMERMAN: Yes, he is, and he's trying to shut the garage door on me.
911: Is he inside now?
ZIMMERMAN: No, he is in his car and he continually has his hand on his gun, and he keeps saying, "Step closer". He's just threatening all of us with his firearm.
911: "Step closer" and what?
ZIMMERMAN: And he is going to shoot us.
ZIMMERMAN: He punched my dad in the nose, my dad has a mark on his face.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
BURNETT: Now, Zimmerman is no longer in police custody tonight. His wife filed for divorce last week, has declined to press charges.
But I want to bring OUTFRONT now, our legal analyst, Mark NeJame .
Mark, this is pretty incredible when you think of the context these sorts of things would have provided in the trial. Obviously, we have not heard of George Zimmerman's side of the story. He's going divorce with his wife. So, we don't know his side of it. But police say they aren't going to file charges against him this time. Does that surprise you?
MARK NEJAME, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Very little about this case comes to surprise me, Erin. I think, though, that what we're seeing is really a relatively, it's not an uncommon situation for volatile divorce situations, particularly when people are facing criminal charges. In this case, in just, you know, we see one incident after another, a complete lack of good judgment, immaturity, irresponsibility while potentially carrying a firearm. So, it allows for a continuous volatile situation.
I think he's very lucky if, in fact, he did have a gun. This is a mandatory minimum three years in prison, with aggravated assault with a firearm in Florida. So, he did have a gun and she felt threatened. He is very fortunate that he didn't get arrested.
BURNETT: It's incredible to think that he would had a gun and done this, giving what he's been through. It just raises so many questions.
But, according to the 911 call which we just played right there, there are allegations of battery, threatening somebody. Obviously, she talked about punching her father in the face. But Shellie Zimmerman did not talk to police, wouldn't talk to anybody before she spoke with her attorney. What might be the reason for that and does that make you think twice about how this appears at first blush?
NEJAME: Yes, I think you often see domestic violence cases just go away simply because you have the purported victim with a change of heart, a change of mind. In fact, the majority of cases end up going away. So I think she did talk to her lawyer, I think that you saw Mark O'Mara come at some point, who was representing Mr. Zimmerman, and it sounds like everybody said let's just calm this thing down before it really blows up more. Calmer heads prevailed and they just decided it's better to go ahead and deal with it behind closed doors, rather than in the public.
BURNETT: All right. Mark NeJame, thank you very much. We appreciate it.
NEJAME: Thank you.
BURNETT: Of course more to the story as we get more information on what really happened. We're going to keep following it.
Well, still to come, money and power. So, Japan won an Olympics. I have to say I was shocked.
Of course, I'm rooting for Japan now. But here is the thing, a lot of people thought the idea was radioactive. And it just might be absolutely horrific. The reasons why, though, may just shock you. That's next.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BURNETT: Our seventh story OUTFRONT: money and power. This weekend, the IOC officially announced that the 2020 Olympic Games will be held in Tokyo. Despite concerns about the Fukushima radiation bomb, voters decided Tokyo was less risky than Istanbul or Madrid.
That shocked a lot of people, but people in Japan were thrilled. You know, they're not always this expressive, but they were excited. They took to the streets to celebrate a very expensive decision.
And the celebrating might be a bit premature because Japan, already laden with debt is now on the hook for an estimated $6 billion to build the games venues, a number which by the way will be way, way more than that.
Japanese officials say it's worth it because they think the games will stimulate Japan's two-decade long struggling economy. But it might not because historically, the Olympics often struggled big time to make money. The budget for next year's Russian Games just jumped from $12 billion to $50 billion, to give you a sense of scale here, and it took Montreal 30 years to pay off the 1976 Games, no joke.
Hosting the biggest game in the world may be prestigious, but it's not a great move financially. The best bet for a city maybe to go small, because unlike the Olympics, conventions are a monster money maker. The meeting contributes about $1 trillion to American economy every year. Trade shows, corporate retreats are responsible for 6 million jobs.
And like the Olympics, many of the smaller events use a bid process to pick the next location. Cities from around the world send delegates to events like the World Science Fiction Convention, to host elaborate parties to try and woo voters.
Sweet after sweet, yes, one of our producers was just there, a sci-fi fan being wine and dine.
Japan could have had those nerds and made some serious money. But as usual, they went with the jocks.
Thanks so much for watching. We'll see you again tomorrow night, right before the president addresses the nation on Syria.
In the meantime, "AC360" starts now.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Erin, thanks.