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ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT
Fourth Person Confirmed Dead In Colorado Flooding; Al-Zawahiri: "We Should Bleed America Economically"; Police Falsely Link Man To Series Of Rapes; New Jersey Business Owners Return After Fire; Wall Street Preps For Twitter IPO; Judge Frees Newlywed Accused Of Murder
Aired September 13, 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 HOST: Good evening, everyone, I am Erin Burnett. OUTFRONT tonight, we begin with breaking news on this Friday. We have just learned that a fourth person is confirmed dead as a result of the flooding in Colorado. The body of a woman swept away from a car has now been recovered, according to Boulder County Sheriff Joe Pelle.
I want to get straight to Ana Cabrera. She is in Longmont, Colorado tonight in the middle of this. Ana, I mean, looking behind you, obviously floods. I understand people are saying, 80 people are still unaccounted for, obviously the risks are huge.
ANA CABRERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Erin, those 80 people unaccounted for right now. They aren't calling them missing. They aren't calling them the injured. They believe they could be people who maybe still in their homes and just can't get out and they don't have cell phone service. So they're remaining hopeful that they're going to get to those people and everybody is going to be OK.
But as we've mentioned, we've received another death here and adding to the death toll now, a total of four in Colorado because of the flooding. Behind me you can see this parking lot is actually dry. There is a break from the rain, a much needed break. We even saw some sunshine this afternoon. That's giving residents and emergency responders hope tonight.
In fact, they were able to successfully get to some of the communities in which residence were stranded for the last 24 hours or more. Cities and towns like Jamestown where we know of houses that collapsed, huge wall of debris, and feet of flood water yesterday, they were able to successfully get some of the helicopters with the National Guard in the air today and were able to rescue some of those people who were just trapped in their homes.
We understand most of them were in pretty good condition. They also used their high clearance vehicles to get to the town of Lyons, which was kind of surrounded by flood waters and we're at the shelter where they brought those people, those residents, some 2,000 of them, they're inside this church, people in fairly good spirits.
There is a lot of relief just to be back on dry ground, to be able to see some loved ones' faces as they're coming to pick them up and take them home to stay with them for a while. We spoke with one woman who has really an amazing story. She came here to visit from Wyoming, visit an uncle in Lyons. She has a 1-month-old son named Ezra.
She talked about being trapped inside her uncle's apartment with water completely surrounding them, running out of formula, having no fresh water, no electricity, and no phone lines. So imagine the relief when she saw those National Guard vehicles pull up. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MELINDA VILLA, FLOOD EVACUEE: It just felt like it was God, literally. I was like, my God, there's a way out of here! And it just felt like I was trapped, no phones, no water, barely any formula for my baby, barely any food for us. When they showed up and said they're taking us to a shelter, it just felt like God really came down and saved us. It felt great so things are starting to look up for sure.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: So happy for Melinda Villa and her son, Ezra. So you see her smile. Tonight, I do want to let you know, it is not over just yet. Emergency crews are in response mode, emergency response mode. They're expecting more rain so we'll be watching for more flash floods -- Erin.
BURNETT: All right, Ana, thank you very much.
Now our second story, OUTFRONT, attacks on America. Tonight, the Taliban is taking credit for a daring strike just outside the American consulate in Afghanistan. A State Department official said it began when a wave of Taliban fighters open fire. Then a truck bomb went off. Miraculously we can tell you though no Americans were injured.
That attack comes one day after the isolated leader of al Qaeda, Ayman Al-Zawahiri, released a new rant. This is an audio rant and this one urging terrorists to unleash a string of small and large attacks inside the United States of America.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AYMAN AL-ZAWAHIRI, AL QAEDA LEADER (through translator): We should bleed American economically by provoking to it continue in its massive expenditure on its security, for the weak point of America is its economy, which has already begun to stagger due to the military and security expenditures.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: So just how serious are these latest threats from al Qaeda? OUTFRONT tonight, Congressman Peter King, a member of the committee on Homeland Security. Congressman King, it's always great to talk to you. Let's just get straight to it on this tape from al Qaeda's leader. Is this bluster or a real threat? REPRESENTATIVE PETER KING (R), NEW YORK: I think it is somewhere in between. I mean, al Qaeda is always looking for opportunities to attack us. Probably I would say it is a rallying cry for his troops to keep their spirits up and to keep us off guard. I'm not aware of any particular threats out there right now, but there could be. Then we have to always assume that al Qaeda is trying to do something.
Now with all the attention going to Syria and Putin and the rebels, I can see why Al-Zawahiri wants to focus more attention on himself. I'm not aware of any particular threats right now other than the fact that we have been on our guard against al Qaeda in particular. I would say for the last four or five weeks.
BURNETT: Right. Of course, al Qaeda and Syria, you mentioned it, that's a serious concern. You know, you have a said on this program that the president should strike. You said he should strike without congressional approval and if he didn't get congressional approval, he should strike any way.
But now you see this happening, with these weapons being moved, the negotiations going on. We've got new images from Syria today that show the ongoing violence and devastation. These videos are coming and continue to be horrible. Are you disappointed with the fact that it went from strikes to chemical weapons moving and no time line that is clear at all?
KING: I would be very disappointed in the president's conduct on this from the start. Certainly over last 10 days, I mean, a year to prepare crossing of the red line. When it came, he said the U.S. military was ready to go. John Kerry basically said that we were going to war and then suddenly the president saying, congressional approval was not involved, trying to get Congress involved, and then he went to Sweden and said there was no Obama red line.
There was a congressional red line and then John Kerry said the attack would be unbelievably small. So I just -- and then that allowed the Russians to come in. After 40 years of the Russians being ejected from the Middle East process, they're back in and they are holding all the cards right now. So it is a terrible situation for us to be in.
BURNETT: And you know, the State Department today, I don't know if you saw this, but they came out and said, look, this report on Syria is going to come out on Monday from the United Nations. And that the U.N. is going to say chemical weapons were used in Syria, something obviously nobody disputes. But and this is a big but, that the report is unlikely to assign blame. I have to ask you this, Congressman King, what is the point of waiting for a U.N. report if it will not assign blame?
KING: I don't know what the U.N. report will say. I'm not surprised about anything the U.N. does and to say that chemical weapons were used, everybody in the world knew that three weeks ago. So to me, all the evidence I've seen certainly indicates it has come from the Assad regime. Even members of Congress who were most opposed to a strike against Syria are pretty much acknowledging that the chemical weapons attack came from the regime.
And now, again, this is what happens when you start relying on the U.N. or hiding behind the U.N., going to the U.N. The fact is, if this is as bad as the president says, and if it was as deadly, that's why you should have acted.
BURNETT: Russian President Vladimir Putin, you mentioned him. Obviously, he seems to be running the show when it comes to these negotiations. The White House itself has said he owns it, right, so actually seemingly grateful to abdicate responsibility. Maybe there is a very clear strategic purpose for that.
But in the op-ed that Putin wrote, of course, he said the rebels had used the chemical weapons and of course, he took the president head on, on the concept of American exceptionalism. What do you say to Vladimir Putin?
KING: First of all, the fact we have to respond him to Putin who invaded Georgia, who locks up reporters, locks up gays, has kill his adversaries, the fact that we have put ourselves in a position where he is any kind of a moral case to make shows how this matter has been handled so terribly.
I mean, Putin has put himself back on the world stage, back equal footing with the president of the United States without firing a shot, without spending a ruble. And it has been handed to him by President Obama.
BURNETT: All right, Congressman King, thank you very much.
KING: Erin, thank you.
BURNETT: Still to come, Syria is moving those massive chemical weapons stockpile, does the Assad regime hiding the weapon so it really doesn't have to, quote/unquote, "give them up?"
Plus, the man's name and photo released by police in connection with the series of rapes, but the problem is he had nothing to do with the crimes. So what does he do now? We have a special report.
And then the money and power of Twitter, are you a member of the internet's most exclusive club?
BURNETT: Our third story, OUTFRONT, mistaken nor a suspected serial rapist. Last week, Alan Mason, you see him there, was named a person of interest in a series of nine rapes in Texas and he was put in jail. And then this week a DNA test linked a different person to the crimes.
But for Alan Mason, huge damage had been done. Police had released his name and his mug shot to the public. Now Mason worries his reputation may never recover. Ed Lavandera is OUTFRONT. And Ed, you know, it's amazing because you had a chance to speak with Allen Mason while he was in jail. What did he tell you? ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Erin, Alan Mason is still trying to figure out how he got caught up in all this. A horrific story unfolding across the city of Dallas, police hunting down a serial rapist and in a matter of hours his name connected to it all.
LAVANDERA (voice-over): A cold shiver rippled through this South Dallas neighborhood last week when police announced that a serial rapist had carried out nine sexual assaults in less than three months. A few days later, what appeared to be a major break in the case in an urgent midnight e-mail blast from Dallas police, followed by a series of cautious tweets from the Dallas police chief, announcing who they were looking for. A few hours later, investigators descended on 29- year-old Alan Mason's doorstep.
MAJOR JEFF COTNER, DALLAS POLICE DEPARTMENT: Mr. Mason is a person of interest. At this time we don't have any charges pending against him.
LAVANDERA (on camera): It was about 3:00 in the morning. Alan Mason said he was asleep in his apartment about 25 miles away from the neighborhood where the sexual assaults had occurred. When cops started banging on his door, he thought someone was trying to break in. He had no idea his name and picture were quickly spreading all over Dallas.
ALAN MASON, IDENTIFIED AS PERSON OF INTEREST: All this chaos, I just heard something about serial rapists. That's what stuck with me and I said what? I just couldn't believe it. Obviously, you have the wrong guy. You've made a mistake.
LAVANDERA (voice-over): Just like that, Mason was trapped in a nightmare.
MASON: It went from angry to scared, stressed, disbelief knowing I'm innocent, but at the same time, why I am a here? It is nothing that should have tied me, nothing should have me here.
LAVANDERA: It turns out an anonymous tip led police to Mr. Mason. While Mason has spent the last week sitting on jail on an unrelated parole violation of a DWI charge, Dallas police say they discovered DNA evidence linking another man to the assaults. A week after he was arrested, Dallas police finally cleared Mason saying he is longer a person of interest.
But Alan Mason told us from the Dallas County Jail, his reputation is ruined. He sells health insurance and is trying to start his own business. His name is now connected to a horrifying series of rapes, a sickening feeling for this father of an 8-year-old girl.
(on camera): Do you think this will haunt you for a long time?
MASON: I believe so. That's my biggest fear, not being able to just live my life normally like I was living before I got here. LAVANDERA (voice-over): Dallas Police Chief David Brown says officers had to move fast before the serial rapist struck again.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Pick your poison. Damn if you do, damn if you don't --
LAVANDERA: Chief Brown said people need to understand the difference between a person of interest and a suspect, and defended how the department treated Mason.
CHIEF DAVID BROWN, DALLAS POLICE: We clearly stated that Mr. Mason is not a suspect and we never referred to Mr. Mason as a suspect.
LAVANDERA: Ironically, Alan Mason said he has a Masters Degree in Criminal Justice. The last week of his life feel like a case study ripped from an old textbook. For OUTFRONT, Ed Lavandera, Dallas.
BURNETT: Our fourth story, OUTFRONT, the New Jersey boardwalk fire. Firefighters were finally able to contain the massive blaze that was on fire last night. You can see the destruction. Not before, though, it consumed eight blocks of boardwalk and destroyed 30 businesses.
OUTFRONT now is John Saaddy who is the owner of six business that's run right parallel to that boardwalk. John, obviously, these pictures that we're seeing are dramatic. The destruction really does look epic there. What is the scene actually like when you were there today? How bad is the damage?
JOHN SAADDY, BUSINESS OWNER, SEASIDE HEIGHTS, NEW JERSEY (via telephone): Well, it's all gone. There are probably two buildings structurally sound, the Beach Comber Bar and the Saw Mill. Everything else on those eight blocks will have to be taken down to the ground in my opinion.
BURNETT: It is just incredible when you look at these pictures, John. I mean, obviously we're hearing more than 30 businesses were destroyed in the fire. And I know what you saw, sort of embers that came down around your businesses. It was incredibly frightening although I know you were among the lucky ones. Is there anything that can be salvaged?
SAADDY: In that area, no. That's going to be from scratch built up except for those two businesses that I mentioned.
BURNETT: And what happened with your businesses? I mean, I know like I said, you had some of those embers that looked absolutely enormous, that were raining down basically on your buildings.
SAADDY: I was fine. Thank God the wind was very kind to me. The other business owners, thank God they stayed on the boardwalk there. A friend of mine put down at least a dozen embers came down on his roof, a condominium behind him, one block off the ocean, the rooftop caught on fire. They were able to put that out, but there are literally hundreds of those small fires throughout the town.
BURNETT: All right, John, thank you very much. Good to talk to you again. I'm glad that you managed to pull through.
It's pretty amazing. Now the money and power of Twitter, media outlets around the world were totally abuzz today about the news. Twitter filing for its long awaited initial public offering or IPO. All these articles dissect the big news, but will it initially flop like Facebook or will the tweeters soar? Everyone wants to know how they can get a piece of Twitter for themselves.
The truth is that most people cannot. There will be a lot of shares. There won't be a lot of shares and they're going to be sold through private investment houses so the little guy won't get to play very much. That may be par for the course for Twitter these days because we have just found out and we can tell you tonight. There are now three new viewing options for verified users on Twitter.
Verified is when you have little check next to your name, all displays what all user say, filtered gets rid of spam. Verified limits your feed to just seeing other verified accounts. So verifies are with the verifies (inaudible). At last count there are 50,000 verified accounts on Twitter.
That may sound like lot but it is not. It is .005 percent of the total profiles on Twitter. You heard me right. There is no weight round .005 percent up to 1 percent and that's the club that Twitter now has.
Still to come, the newlywed accused of pushing her groom off a cliff to his death back in court today. She's been charged with murder so why is she free?
Plus, was this racist? An Alabama sorority accused of rejecting a candidate because she is black.
And a girl stuck. We have this dramatic video. That's our shout out tonight.
BURNETT: Our fifth story, OUTFRONT, the newlywed accused of murder tonight, Jordan Lynn Graham, who police say confessed to pushing her husband off a cliff at Glacier National Park in Montana is actually back home with her parents. She appeared in court this morning. It was a dramatic hearing.
Kyung Lah is OUTFRONT in Missoula, Montana. She was there and Kyung, what was it like inside that courtroom?
KYUNG LAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Erin, you can feel the tension in this courtroom. Jordan Graham appearing quite composed, but her mother and stepfather in the courtroom visibly worried and then suddenly relieved when the judge said she would remain at home and not in jail.
LAH (voice-over): Saying nothing to us, Jordan Graham left court with her parents. Still on home confinement and ordered to wear an electronic monitor, she is accused of pushing her husband of eight days off a cliff at Glacier National Park in Montana. The court has ordered her hear for a last-minute hearing as prosecutors fought to send her back to jail.
In the hearing we learned for the first time what her defense will be. Graham's lawyer said she and her husband, Cody Johnson, fought at home where Cody pinned her down. That he was not abusive but controlling her movement. It was Cody, says Graham's lawyer, who wanted to go to Glacier National Park that night.
At the sheer cliff they say there was a grabbing incident, which was all in one motion, the grabbing and pushing. The 25-year-old Johnson fell face first to his death. This was an accident says Graham's lawyer. On the second-degree murder charges, this is a gross case of overcharging by prosecutors, adding, this is just not fair.
MICHAEL DONAHOE, GRAHAM'S ATTORNEY: I'll stand on what we discuss in the court as far as the merits are concerned.
LAH: Graham's released her now known defense plan, a kick in the gut to Johnson's friends.
MAXIMO ROCHA, VICTIM'S FRIEND: He didn't deserve whatever end she gave him. He never earned anything that Jordan did to him and I disagree with all of my heart at what the justice system is saying is fair.
LAH: Prosecutors paint a very different picture of this young bride saying she confessed to pushing her husband in the back, face first off a cliff because she was having second thoughts about her marriage.
It was a short time ago that the couple appeared happy and in love in their first dance at their wedding while the groom's friends described the bride as having cold feet, Elizabeth Shea, remembers her as a normal bride excited about her life with Johnson. Shea is a custom songwriter. The bride hired her to write the lyrics and song based on interviews with the couple.
ELIZABETH SHEA, HIRED BY GRAHAM TO WRITE SONG FOR WEDDING: I used words like you helped me to claim higher for a better view. You're my safe place to fall. You never let me go and so now when I hear those words, it is a little creepy.
LAH: Eight days later, Johnson fell to his death. Pushed, say prosecutors, by the bride had a danced to these words with him. For OUTFRONT, Kyung Lah, CNN, Missoula, Montana.
BURNETT: Gives you goose bumps. Still to come, a very special OUTFRONT investigation on Syria's weapons. Some officials believe that Assad is already moving his chemicals weapons to make them hard to track. But even if he turns it over, here's the question, would it even be possible to make them not work?
Plus, accusations of racism on a campus of a university in the United States, is one sorority refusing to admit applicants because they're black?
BURNETT: Welcome back to the second half of OUTFRONT. Two friends of Boston marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev pleaded not guilty today to obstructing justice. Dias Kadyrbayev and Azamat Tazhayakov are accused of removing items from Tsarnaev's dorm room after the bombing, April 15th.
CNN legal analyst Paul Callan tells us there is sufficient evidence to convict them. That their best strategy in his view is to negotiate a plea deal. Keep in mind, a third friend pleaded guilty to making false statements to the FBI during the investigation. And of the three, he's currently the only one free. His bond $100,000.
Well, in Tennessee tonight, investigators are being very tight- lipped about a bizarre quadruple homicide. Let me tell you about it. Four young people, they're between 16 and 22 years of age, were found shot dead inside a car alongside a mountain road near Knoxville.
Authorities do have a suspect in custody. A 26-year-old parolee named Jacob Allen Bennett. But officials will only say he knew the victims to some degree and they won't say what kind of gun was used or why they believe Bennett committed the horrible crimes. We're going to be following this story for you.
Will zero dollar airfare for real? Some travelers able to book United Airlines tickets yesterday for as little as airport and security fees, which by the way are ridiculously steep. But in some cases, I guess they're $5. It was of course an error -- human error.
One customer tells CNN he didn't waste any time. He probably should have called United but instead he told everybody he knew about the fares and they all spent work time booking as many personal trips as they could to Honolulu, San Francisco and L.A. He said it was like winning the lottery, lucky for him. United today actually is going to honor the free fares.
Well, it's a moment we've been waiting for. The animal would be named the mascot of the Ugly Animal Preservation Society, because -- yes, there is a society and all groups of animals, they need a society. Pandas don't need a society. That thing does.
So the votes have been counted and the blobfish appropriately named has been named the ugliest animal. It is an aquatic creature. It's very small, 12 inches. But you know what? OK, it's ugly. Jelly like puffy skin. A big nose -- sort of like, what are those things? Where you put the nose on and off? A potato head. A beady eyes.
But I actually think that thing looks curmudgeonly. I like its nose and its sad little eyes. It's so ugly it's actually endearing. Other contenders for ugliest included the proboscis monkey and the flightless dung beetle. Luckily none of these animals give a hoot that we think they're ugly. So, you know?
Anyway, it has been 769 days since the U.S. lost its top credit rating. What are we doing to get it back?
Well, figuring out how to found the government is a crucial part of this story. A new NBC News/"Wall Street Journal" poll shows 44 percent of Americans say don't raise the debt ceiling. That means that we will have a horrible and bruising fight over that limit. Without action, the government will shut down October 1st and the nation will run out of money to pay the bills a couple weeks after that.
And now, our sixth story OUTFRONT: breaking news over the location of Syria's chemical weapons. Tonight, there are reports Assad's regime is moving its stockpile of chemical weapons to more secret and dispersed locations.
Now, if these reports are true, it could make it a lot tougher for the United States to track the poison.
Pentagon correspondent Chris Lawrence is OUTFRONT.
And, obviously, Chris, we've been talking about a thousand tons here. Just incredible amounts of agents X, of sarin, horrible gases. What are you learning about these gases being moved?
CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT : Well, that there is incredible disagreement within the U.S. intelligence community over how much the U.S. knows about the specific locations of those chemical weapons right now. On one end of the spectrum, you've got officials saying, the U.S. might not know the location of up to half of Syria's chemical weapons stockpile. And on the other hand, you've got similar intelligence officials and different agencies saying, well, we think we know where most of them are.
What they do agree on was there has been significant movement in that time frame when President Obama seemed to be ramping up for an airstrike on Syria. "The Wall Street Journal" is reporting that an elite unit of the Syrian army may have scattered these weapons up to 50 different sites. A U.S. official tells our own Barbara Starr that they saw significant movement at 12 to 20 major sites.
And why is this important? It is important no matter which way the U.S. goes, because if the deal with Russia and the U.N. works out, and you need to get in there and tray to take control of the chemical weapons, you're going to need an accurate assessment of where they are to make sure you're getting all of them.
On the other hand, if things fall apart and the U.S. does want to carry out an air strike, you want to be sure that you're not hitting chemical stockpiles.
BURNETT: And, Chris, how -- how surprised are you that we are all hearing about these hugely divergent views in the U.S. intelligence community. I know they happen and the community gets criticized, right, for forcing out the divergent views and putting one out there but it is unusual that we would hear such different points of view about something so important.
LAWRENCE: It happens. Officials say, look, everyone come at it from sort of their own lens. That, you know, the CIA is perhaps looking at some of their intelligence on the ground. The NSA is looking at it through their intercepts of communication. Defense intelligence is perhaps looking at it through satellite photos and from a military perspective.
You can see where perhaps you have a satellite image of a truck at a compound. But you don't know exactly what has been loaded into that truck. So that's where some of the ambiguity comes in.
But it's happened before. I mean, you remember back to when the Osama bin Laden compound, right before the raid, there was not uniform, you know, sort of agreement on the fact that bin Laden was inside. There was some ambiguity there.
LAWRENCE: A spokesman for the director of national intelligence told our own Barbara Starr that ultimately what's going to matter is James Clapper. Ultimately, he's going to take all of these threads, put them together and that's the assessment that's going to go to President Obama.
BURNETT: All right. Well, thank you very much, Chris Lawrence.
It's a crucial question because even if the chemical weapons are all found, which obviously doesn't seem to be likely, given this reporting, getting rid of a thousand tons of toxic chemical is hard. almost impossibly hard.
Barbara Starr is out front with the investigation.
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Nearly 30 years ago, Congress ordered the U.S. military to destroy its 31,000 ton of deadly chemical weapons. It's not done yet.
LT. COL. RICK FRANCONA, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: The materials we're destroying are very, very dangerous. And they need to be destroyed in a certain way.
STARR: There are more than 3,000 tons of U.S. chemical women's still on hand, according to the Army. Ninety percent of the U.S. stockpile already has been destroyed at seven sites around the country. Much of it incinerated. The Army still runs two chemical weapons destruction plants at highly secure facilities in Pueblo, Colorado, and Richmond, Kentucky. In Kentucky alone, there are 523 tons of nerve agents, including sarin and VX and mustard agent in projectiles, warheads and rockets.
The Russians are also behind schedule. Since joining the Chemical Weapons Convention in 1997, they've destroyed 29,000 tons of chemical weapons, of their 40,000-ton inventory. It was supposed to be done last year. Now, it is delayed until 2015.
For both countries, there have been technical issues, funding problems and environmental concerns.
Former chief U.N. weapons inspector David Kay says the U.S. program could go on for decades, a $3 billion program originally now costing some $30 billion.
As for Syria, the U.S. believes it has 1,000 tons of chemical weapons, most of it sarin and VX. It may have to be destroyed right in place.
DAVID KAYE, FORMER U.N. WEAPONS INSPECTOR: You're not going to want to move these to some site outside of Syria. The roads in Syria, not only do you have to worry about insurgent control. The network is not very good. And you don't want to go bouncing around with chemical arms in the back of your truck.
STARR: But, first, David Kay says the U.S. needs to verify, where are Syria's chemical weapons?
For OUTFRONT, Barbara Starr, the Pentagon.
BURNETT: Where are they is the question. Well, now our seventh story OUTFRONT, sorority sisters and accusation of racism. A University of Alabama sorority is under fire tonight after questions over whether a potential candidate was rejected because she is black. So, do the accusations add up?
Our Alina Machado is OUTFRONT tonight in Tuscaloosa with the story.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They like grew up in Michigan --
ALINA MACHADO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Melanie Gotz thought this year her last at the University of Alabama would be the year a black student would be invited to join Alpha Gamma Delta. The reason she says was a girl everyone was talking about.
(on camera): What you did hear about her?
MELANIE GOTZ, ALPHA GAMMA DELTA SORORITY: I just heard there was a black girl coming through. That she was wonderful and fabulous. And she had a resume that embarrassed any of us.
MACHADO (voice-over): But when it was time to determine whether to let the girl join, Gotz says sorority leaders decided a vote was not necessary.
GOTZ: And, of course, I say we're not going to talk about the black girl.
MACHADO: According to Gotz, the only reason the leaders gave for eliminating the girl was a, quote, "technicality" on a letter of recommendation.
Chris England says his stepdaughter is the girl everyone is talking about. She doesn't want her name or face out there but he confirmed for us that no sorority invited her to join.
CHRIS ENGLAND, STEPDAUGHTER REJECTED BY SORORITIES: I mean, if we're just talking about on paper, what kind of person you would want in your organization, I think she fits more than your average person.
MACHADO (on camera): If she would have been white, do you do she would have --
GOTZ: Yes, I do. And that's the problem.
MACHADO: No doubt in your mind.
GOTZ: Really, no. I don't think so, no. That's why I felt so strongly about it too.
MACHADO (voice-over): The university released a statement saying, in part, they are working to, quote, "remove any barriers that prevent young women from making the choices they want to make."
The local chapter of Alpha Gamma Delta referred us to their national organization, which released a statement saying they have a strong and clear policy against self-incrimination. They are investigating the incident.
Abby Crane and Matthew Ford, two editors at the campus paper, broke the story on Wednesday. And it is fueling conversation beyond the campus. Even the governor is weighing in.
GOV. ROBERT BENTLEY (R), ALABAMA: I asked my wife about it last night. She said it is not the students. It is the alumni. Personally, I think they need to change their attitude.
MACHADO (on camera): Race is a particularly sensitive topic on campus. In fact, it was here in front of Foster Auditorium 50 years ago on June of 1963 that then-Governor George Wallace stood in front of these doors and tried to stop the first two African-American students from enrolling in the school.
(voice-over): But, today, Gotz said some of her fellow students have privately told her they are glad she is speaking out but so far, she is the only one in her sorority to come forward publicly. GOTZ: I don't blame them for not speaking out. That doesn't make them bad people. It just makes them scared to do such a big and daring thing, because it will be the first of many, I hope -- of many, I hope.
MACHADO: For OUTFRONT, Alina Machado, Tuscaloosa, Alabama.
BURNETT: I'm looking forward to your feedback on that story about the University of Alabama.
Still to come, reports of contaminated water and brain-eating amoebas in America. And tonight, bacteria in one water source you would never expect, and the richest of the rich. We have list of the 50 wealthiest people in Congress.
We have slice it and dice it and, wow, what we found.
And the shout-out tonight -- watch where you're going. This video comes from China. A 4-year-old little girl managed to get herself stuck between two buildings. Why does this happen in China? She was trying to chase a kitten. The gap was just under eight inches wide, I guess she was 4, so she was able to slide in there. She needed help being freed.
Get this though -- she only ended up with a few bruises, which is why this is a nice story. The shout-out, though, still goes to the kitten, because, you know what? Kittens can be really afraid of 4- year-olds for obvious reasons and we celebrate the kitten for finding a new way to escape.
BURNETT: And now, the richest of the rich. It is no secret that a lot of people in Congress are richer than most Americans. Tonight, though, we are learning more about the mega-millionaires strolling the hall of Capitol Hill. "Roll Call" released the annual list of the 50 wealthiest lawmakers.
And the top three are -- drum roll please -- there he is. Apparently, he has been climbing up for a while. The net worth of the smiling Darrell Issa, $355 million. He made his fortune originally by starting a car alarm from scratch.
In second, Texas Republican Congressman Michael McCaul, worth $114 million. His wife is married to the founder of Clear Channel, it is his daughter.
And rounding out the top three, Democratic Senator Mark Warner of Virginia. He was the founder of Nextel, which is where his money came, the $96 million. We put investments at all of it, because once you get to a certain level of wealth, that's where all those people's money come from. But it was the origination that fascinated us.
The man who ran the number is Adriel Bettelheim. He's the senior editor for "Roll Call". He's OUTFRONT with radio show host Stephanie Miller and Mediaite's Joe Concha.
All right. Adriel, thank you so much.
This was pretty fascinating. And I like how you designed the list. I encourage people to go online because you can sort by all kinds of thing -- gender, House, Senate, party. But in the top three, two Republicans and one Democrat, and most people will go, opps, yes, that's the way it should be, Republicans are rich, right?
When you look at the top 50, it was pretty evenly split. In the top 10, it was not evenly split. Not at all.
ADRIEL BETTELHEIM, ROLL CALL: No. I mean, it goes back and forwards depending on the election cycle. After the health care overhaul was enacted, the Republican managed to recruit some wealthy doctors to run. This year, there's more Democrats than Republicans. So, there's not really a consistent trend over several election cycles.
But one thing is for sure, both parties really like to recruit wealthy people who can finance some or all of their campaigns.
BURNETT: Pretty interesting. To make that top 10. I know Diane Feinstein at number nine was $42 million. So, it was right around at $42 million to even make the cut. I mean, these people are incredibly wealthy.
But, you know, of the top three, Adriel, that we just mentioned to viewers, two of them were self-made originally, right? When you look at Darrell Issa and you look at Senator Warner, starting their own businesses.
But that does not seem to be the case, actually, overwhelmingly not the case on your list for most of them.
BETTELHEIM: That's right. Most of them eat married well or they inherited the money. And you know, there are some interesting new figures who have come in and like I said, they have made fortunes. We have an Internet entrepreneur, Jared Polis, from Colorado, a fellow who was a commercial lender from Maryland.
But the vast majority didn't get it through their salaries. Many of them had government jobs that frankly didn't pay so great. And now, even in Congress while they good salaries, these figures don't quite match up.
BURNETT: Well, you're not going to blame anybody for marrying well, all right? Fine. These guys are good politicians. They know how to marry. I'm obviously just joking.
But does it surprise you, Joe, the party break down when you look at the 10 wealthiest people in Congress, where the cutoff are about 40 million bucks, seven of them are Democrats.
JOE CONCHA, MEDIAITE: Party of and for the rich are Republicans, right? Well, not on this list. BURNETT: Yes.
CONCHA: But if you look at Darrell Issa, he blows everybody away and he's a Republican from California, number one.
CONCHA: He is fascinating to me, because at 17, he didn't have a lot of money, so he stole a Maserati. He's like a Danny Ocean thief, like if I'm going to steal, I'm going to (INAUDIBLE) about it, right?
So, what's cool about him he's worth $350 million, he also donates all of his salary, $174,000, to charity. I looked it up and I looked it up and I couldn't find too many members of Congress that actually do this. And if you want to score easy political points, you want to donate to the ASPCA, you know, American Kennel Club, I'm obviously a dog lover. Just donate the thing because you're worth $40 million, you're not going to miss it and everybody is going to love you for serving the public without taking any money.
BURNETT: It's true and I love through these numbers, Adriel, it surprises me some of these guys don't do it. When Joe says it's one of those -- duh, don't you wish some of these guys thought of that?
Stephanie, when it looked at the women's break down of Adriel's list, only nine women made the top 50 and of those women, only one did not according to Adriel's analysis inherit or marry into wealth, Representative Suzan DelBene of Washington. That's kind of amazing. Only one.
STEPHANIE MILLER, RADIO HOST: Well -- I mean, you know, I think you're right. There is different reasons to pick out things and I with your previous guest Darrell Issa just springs to mind how brilliant to be a car theft and think of a car alarm company? That should be rewarded in our society.
And I think we also, you know, Erin, I know that, you know, you're a do-gooder, many people on CNN give to worthy causes. Let's take a moment to feel bad for number two, Mr. McCaul, who felt number two because his wife's paper assets were only worth $50 million but had to be, you know, valued at less. So, he has to be content with number two now. I think we maybe should do a canned food drive tonight, something? Don't you think?
BURNETT: I'm sure he's heart broken.
BURNETT: Thanks very much to all three of you. We appreciate.
Check Adriel's list out. It's pretty neat. All the background, you can read about these guys and actually how they invest their money, too.
Well, it's time for something we call the OUTFRONT Outtake. We heard a lot about the dangers of contaminated water over the past few weeks, about water-borne brain-eating amoebas and bacteria that have led to illnesses and even deaths in the United States. Communities continued to be outraged that their children have fallen victim to sickness because of frankly vague and impossible warnings like this.
Quote-unquote, "Water is safe to drink but don't get it up your nose. Avoid swimming in fresh water when temperature is high. And avoid stirring up the sediment while wading in shallow areas."
That's impossible to do, which is the problem. We're supposed to have faith in these organizations and agencies to keep us safe and it's not good because, as it turns, even faith might not be enough.
Today, the Institute of Hygiene and Applied Immunology in Vienna released a study that shows one of the worst contaminated water sources on the planet is in churches. Eighty-six percent of holy water contains fecal matter. Sorry, all right. Every single liter of holy water, there are 62 million bacteria. The researchers say that if the churches would just add salt and regularly change the water it could be eliminated. Of course, obviously, the problem is the churches don't. And when they come and spray that on you, you've got to think twice. Both science and religion are letting us down.
As we were joking today with a smile, any wonder Jesus walked on water instead of getting in it.
Still to come, it's called triskaidekaphobia, fear of Friday the 13th. It's costing the economy nearly a billion dollars. But there is a way to save massive amounts of money on it, and we'll tell you how, next.
BURNETT: A quick programming note, "ANTHONY BOURDAIN: PARTS UNKNOWN" is back for its second season. Bourdain visits Israel, West Bank and Gaza. And you can see that Sunday night at 9:00 Eastern and pacific.
But before that, it's today and today is Friday the 13th, which apparently is the unluckiest day of the year so they say. Fewer people shop or travel than usual. Hardly anyone wants to get married. Hotels and airports skip the number 13. Eighty percent of all high rise buildings don't have the 13th floor.
Here's the thing -- you think you're on the 14th. But guess what people, it's the 13th floor. I don't care what you call it.
But anyway, there is an economic impact to all of this superstitious fear. Donald Dossey, the founder of Stress Management Center in Asheville, North Carolina, told "National Geographic", quote, "It's been estimated that $800 million or $900 million are lost because people will not fly or do business than they would normally do." A billion dollars lost because of Friday the 13th?
According to Gizmodo, up to 21 million Americans are afraid of the day. So, what is behind our fear? The truth is no one knows. Some say it came from the Vikings or even from Canterbury tales. Others blame the Italian composer Rossini of all people, who apparently hated both of the number 13 and Fridays.
But the world is chipping away at the fear because only some places fear Friday the 13th. Different country have a different day. In Greece, Romania and Spanish speaking countries, it is Tuesday the 13th that's bad luck. And in Rossini's Italy, it's Friday the 17th.
So, don't worry about today. My niece and nephew, Jasper and Finley, are celebrating their birthdays today. Friday the 13th is a lucky day for them and their parents and families. And if you're someone who likes Friday the 13th like me, you get to take advantage of awesome deals. Hotels slash prices, some airlines offer flights for next to nothing and if you're looking for a great way to save a lot on Christmas shopping, there is another Friday the 13th this year, lucky us, in December.
I'll actually put my shopping off to get those deals. Thanks for watching. Have a great weekend.
Anderson starts now.