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Potential Government Shutdown?; Syria Trying To Conceal Chemical Weapons?; Twist In Georgia Teen Abduction Case; Teens Trash Ex-NFL Player's Home; Interview with Rep. Tom Cole

Aired September 19, 2013 - 19:00   ET


ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: OUTFRONT next, outrage as Washington is about to fail the American people again. Why the GOP is on fire and firing away. Plus, why is Syria moving its chemical weapons again, in direct defiance of the United States? And the same company that vetted the man responsible for the Navy Yard massacre also vetted another infamous figure. An investigation, what is USIS? It matters big time. Let's go OUTFRONT.

And good evening, everyone. I'm Erin Burnett. OUTFRONT tonight, the United States in crisis. The countdown is on, 11 days until the government shuts down. So what does it mean for America?


BEN BERNANKE, CHAIRMAN, FEDERAL RESERVE: Very serious consequences for the financial markets and for the economy.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Bleeding over into the consumer sector.

SENATOR SAXBY CHAMBLISS (R), GEORGIA: Going to do great harm for the American people.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Hundreds of thousands of federal workers will be sent home without pay.

SENATOR BOB CASEY (D), PENNSYLVANIA: This is among the most fiscally reckless and dangerous things you can do.


BURNETT: Democrat, Republican, market expert, man in charge of the American economy. Washington is failing again and this time some Republicans say they have a plan to keep funding the government, but only if they take funding for Obamacare out of it. As we've said before, that is a nonstarter and whether you love or loath Obamacare, that is not the point. It's a guarantee of a shutdown.

And while there is plenty of waste and abuse in Washington, the truth is a shutdown does nothing about that. OUTFRONT tonight, Congressman Tom Cole, a Republican, fourth ranking Republican in the House. Congressman Cole, great to see you.

Let's start with this. In your party, sir, some are taking a stand on principle that they think Obamacare is bad for America and they are going to stop funding it as part of this deal. Obviously that will not pass the Senate. It will shut down the government. Is it worth it?

REPRESENTATIVE TOM COLE (R), OKLAHOMA: Well, first of all, I don't think we will have a government shutdown. That's certainly not our intention. Actually the bill makes sure that funding continues. Now there is a defunding provision for Obamacare in the bill. This is really Congress doing what it's supposed to do. That reflects what the majority thinks in the House. We'll send it to the Senate. They have plenty of time to act.

A number of our colleagues on the Republican side over there have made the point that they think they can get it done. They would like to have the opportunity. They have some unusual tools in the filibuster and they also have Democrats that they may not want to defund it, but it they might want to delay it if only for political purposes.

So we want to give them that opportunity, but I expect the Senate will send something back and the House will respond to that. But I would be very surprised if we get to a government shutdown. That's certainly not our aim.

BURNETT: So you think it is a serious proposition, though, to take the funding away for Obamacare? I mean, the only reason I ask, as we all know, this is the president's signature policy achievement. It has passed test after test. Again, I know a lot of people hate it. I'm not making a political point here. I'm just saying it's passed the Supreme Court. I mean, it is the law of the land and using a shutdown to try to defund it seems a little bit ridiculous to a lot of people.

COLE: Remember, we've changed the law seven times already and saved about $62 million. I think we'll continue to chip away at it where we can, but this was a unique opportunity. Again, all the Senate has to do is act. They don't have to do what we say, but you can't expect the House to simply follow whatever the Senate dictates.

So this reflects the House's majority will. The Senate can now operate and act and frankly those senators that wanted this in their court have it in their court. We'll see whether or not they can handle it and what they can do with it. At the end of the day, if they'll send us back something, we'll react to that.

The speaker made it clear last thing we want to do is shut down the government. This bill does not shut down the government. It would take non-action by the United States Senate and let me say I expect them to act, not sit on their thumbs so to speak.

BURNETT: The speaker also said, though, of course, back in March that he thought, you know, using Obamacare was holding the government hostage and a recipe for a shutdown and he thought it was irresponsible to do this. Now obviously he's going ahead with it, but this isn't -- his heart doesn't seem to be in it.

COLE: This isn't our final move in this particular match. Again, we're waiting now assuming we pass the bill tomorrow on the Senate to act. When it acts, we'll respond. So just because we put something in there doesn't mean the Senate has to respond. Some of our senators over there have asked us to do said and we said OK. We'll put you in the game and see how you do.

And then at some point, the Senate will send us back a product and I expect the House to pick that up and try to move swiftly. But again, we agree, we don't think the government ought to be shutdown. I've always been an opponent of that. I don't think it's a very effective tactic and I think the political consequences of it are fairly bad for the people that actually do it.

BURNETT: Look, I totally, I believe what you say and I know a lot of you have your heart exactly where your mouth is. But the truth of it is to the American people, it's -- OK, now we have a deadline. We have to re-litigate things that have already been litigated. Obviously in this case it's Obamacare. Everybody says they don't want to shut the government down, but yet they might pass something that will defund Obamacare. A Democratic Senate won't pass it. So you're saying you don't want to do it, but you're willing to do it.

COLE: No. Let's wait and see what the Senate does. All the Senate has to do is act on the legislation. They will receive it in plenty of time. They can send it back to us with or without the defunding provision in it and then we have to respond, but the idea that somehow simply because we sent it over there means they acquiesce. We hope they will.

We think some of our senators want an opportunity. They certainly been talking about it so let's give them the opportunity and see what they do. At the end of the day, the Senate will send us back a product. We'll deal with what. I think we're at the beginning of about a 75-day negotiation where we try to deal with the end of the fiscal year, with "The Sequester," with the debt ceiling and continue progress on the deficit. So this is a first move in a much larger negotiation.

BURNETT: You just ruined my day, killed my night and broke my heart, 75 days. All right, Congressman Cole, thank you very much.

COLE: I'm so sorry, Erin.

BURNETT: Everybody watching you making a lot of tears flow. Thank you, sir. Appreciate it.

COLE: You bet.

BURNETT: Our second story OUTFRONT, 75 days of hell. No, actually, it's this. Who pay as political price for the shutdown? John King is here. All right, John, see here's the thing. This is Tom Cole, fourth ranking Republican in the House, the guy who just said this summer that shutting down the government to get your way over an unrelated piece of legislation, i.e. Obamacare, is the political equivalent of throwing a temper tantrum and now it sounds like he's totally in line. What the heck happened?

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Erin, you know, you're saying this is a bad thing. You're going to be able to tell your children and your grandchildren you once lived in a parallel universe. The House Republicans have now taken a complete about face to be loyal to their speaker. You're right about what Congressman Cole said this summer.

Pete King, the congressman from New York, the Republican, said just yesterday, the day before it would be a kamikaze mission for the House to do this. Today, he says, great, let's do it. The speaker has decided because he has no choice to do this in round one, to pass the legislation. It will probably happen tomorrow, send it over to the Senate. It keeps the government running.

There's no funding for the president's health care. The Senate most likely will send it back with the funding and then the challenge begins. First on keeping the government open, I take the congressman on his word and I know the speaker does not want to shutdown the government. But if the Senate leaves that money in there, then the House is going to act again.

And I'm told when they act again, they will try again on health care. Will they try to cut part of it? Will the try to just delay it a year? We're going to go through this dance for at least a week or so, on the shutdown, and then as the congressman rightly noted, on the debt ceiling.

BURNETT: Look, I believe no one wants to shut the government down, but they're like as long as I get my own way. But of course, we all know that's not how things work. So I find it deeply frustrating, but what about John Boehner? Because you look at the public and you look at the polls, and they blame the GOP for this loud and spanking clear, right? John Boehner was totally against this Obamacare move, and yet now he's doing it. Does he have control over the party?

KING: He is at risk of losing control over his caucus, which is why he's doing this to try to keep control. What he's doing to them is saying here is your carrot. I'm going to give you this vote even though I think it's a bad idea. I don't think we should do this. I'm on the record as saying that but fine. You guys have the numbers, let's do it. We're going to send it over to the Senate. The challenge, Erin, for his leadership will be when it comes back.

How do you avoid a government shutdown? What else do you try to give those Tea Party conservatives? And let's be honest here, Republicans are heading into a midterm election cycle where John Boehner thinks they can pick up some seats in the House, at least preserve the majority.

Over on the Senate side, Republicans have a chance to be the majority in the Senate. So veteran Republican strategists say what we're doing here angers independents. It convinces people we're in a serious governing party and it will hurt us next year. Why would we do this? But that vocal minority pushing it, most of them go home to 60 percent, 65 percent, 70 percent Republican districts. The president lost them by 15, 20, 25 points. They are not at risk and they're not looking at the big picture. And many of them promise this had to the voters. So I'm not criticizing them per se, but they're not looking at it from a governing perspective.

BURNETT: No, from a perspective of their small electorate. You can see where they are coming from, but it is frustrating. Thank you, John.

KING: It's 75 days of parallel universe.

BURNETT: It's 75 days, all right.

Still to come, developing tonight, Syria moving its chemical weapons in defiance of the United States, where and why, breaking news tonight.

Plus a strange twist in that story of the 14-year-old girl kidnapped from her home. Her rescue captured the nation's attention. Officials frantically searching for the child and they arrested two men, but the mother of that girl could be in trouble tonight.

Plus the home of former NFL player trashed by 300 kids and he is not going to let them get away with it. A report on what he's doing now.

And we'll take you to a place where floods have killed 80 and the water is rising tonight.


BURNETT: Our second story "OUTFRONT," a developing story tonight, Syria's chemical weapons again on the move in a major act of defiance against President Obama. Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad is moving his massive stockpile of poison. The United States has no idea what he's doing with it. According to American suspicions tonight, the movement has all occurred. This is a really amazing fact, all of it since September 14th.

That is the day when Secretary of State John Kerry made a deal with Russia to secure and destroy Syria's weapons. A deal that Syria has now embraced. It seems to be completely defying. Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr broke this news today. And Barbara, obviously this is a significant headline. It might not surprise a lot of people, but it is a big deal. And what does the intelligence really show?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's the problem, Erin, right there. Since September 14th, the U.S. intelligence community has been getting information that Syria is moving some of that stockpile. Why? What's the motivation? Two possibilities basically, they're moving it to consolidate it so they can declare it to the international community. Intelligence community is pretty skeptical about that scenario.

The concern, of course, is they are moving it to conceal and hide it. So when inspectors come in, when this destruction program theoretically starts, they won't find everything that they're looking for. The Syrians won't declare it, it will have moved. How are they finding this intelligence? U.S. satellites well-known fly overhead.

They have been seeing vehicles move, trucks, vehicles, pull up to some of these chemical weapons storage sites and then they drive away. What's in there, how much material? These are all the key questions. There is a lot of skepticism. That Syria is even positioning about living up to its part of the deal.

BURNETT: I know the question then will be proving that beyond a reasonable doubt enough to get action. I mean, does this mean that the whole plan that Bashar Al-Assad publicly embraced even last night, right, that I'm going to give all my chemical weapons to international control is dead on arrival? Because obviously if it means that, that means strikes have to come right back on the table which the president, of course, I'm sure is very loath to do.

STARR: Well, you know, it's going to depend I suppose on how much you believe or how much anybody believes what Assad says. So what the intelligence community doing to develop its own information, its case counter to what the Russians are saying, to what the Syrian regime is saying?

Think of this way, satellites are flying overhead. They're using communication intercepts very well-known. They have spies on the ground so to speak. People inside Syria in neighboring countries who are reporting in what they see, gathering all the intelligence they can. The Russians are trying to assure the U.S. that everything will go well and the Syrians will declare everything they have. Right now there is a big chunk, Pentagon, CIA, the intelligence community that isn't quite willing to buy that tonight. A lot of skepticism tonight -- Erin.

BURNETT: A lot of skepticism and I don't think anybody would say they trusts Bashar Al-Assad on that. Thanks to our Barbara Starr, a significant breaking news tonight.

Now our fourth story, OUTFRONT, Georgia abduction twist. So when 14-year-old Ayvani Perez was found safe yesterday, the focus of the investigation to her kidnapping shifted to the suspected kidnapper. But CNN has learned one of the suspects in custody was also arrested last year with Perez's mother.

Ayvani Perez was kidnapped during a home invasion on Tuesday. Investigators now say this wasn't random. This case captivated a lot of people around the country. Martin Savidge has been covering it. Martin, you know, last night when we spoke you said there are a lot of strange things here and questions to be answered. Tonight though, we'll celebrate her return. Today those strange questions that you raise are loud and clear. What happened?

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, we're starting to find out here that there are a couple of recurring themes and they're not necessarily good ones. First of all, as you've already pointed out, this does that appear to be a random home invasion with a kidnapping. Number two, we're also finding out that there could be as many as six suspects involved here. And lastly, there is a reoccurring theme and that theme seems to be drugs and money.

Let's talk about the suspects and the relationship to the kidnapped victim's mother. She was arrested last year along with a man who is also under arrest in connection with the kidnapping of her daughter. What's the relationship? Well, at that time, it was a drug bust that had the two of them wrapped up. Charges were dropped against both the mother and that man.

But you wonder what is their relationship, how do they know one another? How are they related in this case or the case previous? That's still being worked out. Authorities won't talk about it. But it's a link and that link is not one that points to randomness. So it's not looking good at that particular point.

BURNETT: No, certainly a story that seemed to be a good story turning in to something darker. Thank you, Martin.

Ahead, breaking details on the company that vetted the Navy Yard shooter and breaking details tonight, by the way, the same company that cleared Edward Snowden, that's incredible.

Then a lesson in social media, 300 kids break into a home, throw a huge party and trash the place, and then they do something really stupid. And our shout out tonight -- thieves beware.


Our fifth story, OUTFRONT, teens trash a former NFL player's home, big mistake. This is what Brian Holloway's house looked like earlier this week, graffiti, garbage, thousands of dollars worth of damage. Discussing kids, turned out neighborhood teenagers broke in and invited hundreds of friends to party. Wait until you find out how Holloway found out. Laurie Segall OUTFRONT.


LAURIE SEGALL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Broken windows, widespread graffiti, stolen family treasures, 300 high schoolers broke into former NFL player, Ryan Holloway's 200-acre estate. They threw a party while he was away, but Holloway watched it unfold live on Twitter.

(on camera): So you were on vacation in Florida and your home was being vandalized. People were partying in your home and you watched it all unfold online, right?

BRIAN HOLLOWAY, FORMER NFL PLAYER: Sure. I was following the tweets and you could see the conversation go from this is the greatest party ever. I can't believe we broke in here, look at all these people drinking, this is amazing. Look at her, she drank too much. Look, we can't even wake her will up, who cares. To my God, the cops are here. Run to the woods and get rid of all the drugs.

SEGALL (voice-over): It's $20,000 worth of damage. HOLLOWAY: You know, the carpets were soaked, I walked on them and they would squish like a sponge, and could you could tell from the smell in the room. I mean, it's beer, liquor, vomit, urine, and all that went down.

SEGALL: Holloway took matters into his own hands, publicly posting the names and tweets online, a call for parents to take note.

HOLLOWAY: What was going on in these 300 kids' minds and how this made sense, how did we get so far off track. Where are we now? And what do we do to get moving in the right direction.

SEGALL: Some of the kids that broke in new Brian's son growing up.

BRIAN HOLLOWAY JR.: A lot of people are saying please take my picture off like I don't deserve this, I need to go to college. But the thing is, we offered them a chance to come and redeem themselves the next day, only one student showed up to help clean up the mess.

SEGALL: But the former NFL player feels like it's time it for a digital wake-up call.

HOLLOWAY: This is happening right now. I'm telling you right now there are kids across this country are planning the same sort of flash party and they're tweeting and communicating about it right now. And it's going to go down tomorrow. I assure you and so this is a shout out to all those other parents and community member, you need to it take a good look at this and determine how you're going to go about dealing with this issue.

SEGALL: Laurie Segall, CNN Money, New York.


BURNETT: We're rooting for him because he is absolutely right.

Still to come, has the pope gone too far? The Holy Father makes some strong comments today and conservative Catholics are fighting back hard.

Plus a controversy paradox, showing sympathy for those with PTSD or making security clearance tougher to obtain. Is that choice making America unsafe?

And then this car chase comes to a violent he said, but the crime did not stop there.

And the shout out tonight, an attempted theft thwarted. We love this. A 75-year-old woman was nearly knocked to the ground after her purse was stolen. Fortunately, the suspect didn't get very far. A local delivery man stopped the suspect, other men jumped him, holding him up the police could arrive. Shout out goes to those men for stepping in and helping somebody who needed it.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BURNETT: Welcome back to the second half of OUTFRONT. In an interview released in 16 countries today, a rare interview, Pope Francis says the Catholic Church does not have the right to, quote, "interfere spiritually in the lives of gays and lesbians." The media has been reading into the pope's statement as unprecedented tolerance of gays.

This is a part of a trend in the media that they've seen from Pope Francis. But some Catholics including Bill Donahue of the Catholic League say this is a misinterpretation. He said today, quote, "Pope Francis unequivocally rejects both abortion and gay marriage.

Meanwhile Cardinal Timothy Dolan, America's most well known Catholic says Pope Francis is, quote, "a man who profoundly believes in the mercy of a loving God." He sure is taking the church on. That was my comment not his quote.

Well, America's largest bank on the line for $1.3 billion. JPMorgan Chase ordered to refund $390 million to customers, pay $80 million in fines about credit card billing and then another nearly billion dollars in fines over the "London Whale" trading scandal.

CEO Jamie Dimon talked about that scandal today, saying the bank has, quote, "acknowledged our mistakes from the start and has worked to fix them." Now, Dimon, respected as a risk manager on Wall Street, has taken a big hit over that trade. It generated $6 billion in paper losses and he initially characterized the storm over it, of course, as a tempest in a teapot.

Well, the shocking story out of Miami involving a shooting, a car chase and apparent suicide. They'll show this. It first unfolds and a 48-year-old man allegedly shoots and kills his ex-girlfriend and her daughter, a horrible tragedy. And then the suspect Antonio Feliu leads officers on a high speed chase, endangering more lives, which ends when he crashes into the car you see there. He killed another driver.

When officers tried approaching his SUV, they report shots are fired. Police call in the SWAT team only to find Feliu took his own life. Investigators later discovered hydroponics library inside Feliu's home and seized 43 marijuana plants. Horrible story.

The odds of winning power ball are 1 in 175 million, but obviously that means there is one winner. And that winner bought the Powerball ticket in the small town in Lexington, South Carolina. The jackpot this time, $400 million and the ticket sold at a gas station. So, you know, it often seemed to us, emphasis on seemed, that the winning tickets are sold in gas stations.

So we checked it out to see if what seems to be true actually is true. And it is. Of 22 recent wins, 10 were sold at gas station, four at supermarkets. And there is one each at a pharmacy, airport and an ice cream shop. Talk about a double dose of deliciousness.

It has been 775 days since the U.S. lost its p top credit rating. What are we doing to get it back?

Well, as we count down to the government shutdown, according to a CBO report, federal debt will reach 100 percent of GDP in 25 years. Importantly, the CBO says that does not account for the negative effects the growing debt will have on the U.S. economy. Currently, nearly half of all federal spending goes to the entitlement, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid up from just 23 percent 10 years ago.

And now our sixth story OUTFRONT: CNN tonight has learned that the same company that conducted the background check for Navy Yard gunman Aaron Alexis also vetted Edward Snowden. Just stop and consider that for a second. The company name is USIS and it vetted Alexis in 2007 and Edward Snowden in 2011.

USIS is a private government contractor currently under investigation. Now, Alexis' background including, as you now know, his history of troubled mental health has been a focal point for investigators who have been asking how in the world this person was able to get security clearance.

Pentagon correspondent Chris Lawrence is OUTFRONT.

Chris, you know, these are the kinds of things where you think there's no way this could be true because it's just so -- it's just so shocking, it's almost like a parity.

But what can you tell us about USIS and this development?

CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Erin, just a couple days ago, USIS said we didn't do his background check. Now the company is saying, oh, we did. And it's not surprising because USIS conducts about half of all the background checks for the federal government.

Now, they say they are not allowed to retain any of the records about that background check. But federal officials have told us that some of Aaron Alexis' run-ins with the law as well as serious mental health issues occurred after that initial background check.


LAWRENCE (voice-over): Aaron Alexis told police he was a hallucinating and hearing voices. He once got so mad he shot out the tires on someone's car.

Alexis' family also claimed he suffered from PTSD after being a first responder on 9/11. And still, he kept his security clearance.

REP. MICHAEL MCCAUL (R), TEXAS: I mean, the political correctness.

LAWRENCE: Some lawmakers argue the government has watered down the security clearance screening process for all members of the military.

REP. JASON CHAFFETZ (R), UTAH: Want to be politically correct, we don't want to stigmatize anybody.

LAWRENCE: To remove that stigma, advocates lobbied for an exception to the security clearance questionnaire. Suicide rates were spiking and more troops and vets were seeking mental health care. In 2008, the government said if you sought mental health counseling related to having been in military combat, you do not have to disclose that.

Alexis was never in combat. But veterans expect his actions to ignite some criticism over the questionnaire.

JASON HANSMAN, IRAQ AND AFGHANISTAN VETERANS OF AMERICA: I think well be called on to defend the question and the change made in 2008.

LAWRENCE: Iraq and Afghanistan veterans say tighter standards would make them so scared of losing their clearances, they just wouldn't seek help at all.

HANSMAN: Because they're concerned about their employment. They're concerned about their career.

LAWRENCE: In March, the government proposed changing the actual question to ask -- the last seven years have you had a mental health condition that would cause an objective observer to have concern about your judgment, reliability or trustworthiness in relation to your work?

SHELDON COHEN, NATIONAL SECURITY ATTORNEY: I think that the proposed changes make things even more vague than they were before.

LAWRENCE: Attorney Sheldon Cohen has counseled people through the security clearance process. He says the change may encourage some people to self report, but ultimately, the screenings are not even designed to predict if say an employee like Alexis will one day try to kill his co-workers.

COHEN: These are designed to determine if you're the kind of person that can safeguard classified information.


LAWRENCE: And we're also learning new information about what happened at that Navy Yard. Authorities now believe that Aaron Alexis came out of the bathroom with the shotgun and methodically but randomly started shooting people on the third and fourth floors. Not down into the atrium as we first believed.

They say there was no pattern to it and at some point, he went down to the first floor, shot a security guard and took his handgun. When authorities found him, he was in a room filled with cubicles and they had to clear those cubicles one by one until they got to him. At that point, he engaged them and they shot Aaron Alexis -- Erin.

BURNETT: Thank you very much, Chris Lawrence.

And now, our seventh story OUTFRONT: new ally or wolf in sheep's clothing?

So, just tonight, just coming out, "The Washington Post," an op- ed by the new president of Iran, Hassan Rouhani, offering to broker a peace deal between the West and Syria, the same Syria we just reported tonight, breaking news here on CNN, that's moving its chemical weapons out of U.S.'s eyes.

And what could be the most significant gesture in more than three decades, the new president of Iran also tweeted today that he, quote, "has not ruled out" the possibility of meeting with President Obama at the U.N. General Assembly next week adding, quote, "everything is possible in the world of politics."

Everything and nothing perhaps.

CNN's Jim Sciutto is OUTFRONT tonight with the latest.

And, Jim, you know, in "The Washington Post" op-ed that I just referenced, Rouhani, you know, said he wants to get involved in the talks between the Syrian government and the opposition. I'm just curious, we hear about this man, he's a reformer. Others say, no, he's a wolf's in sheep's clothing. He's just saying all these nice things.

What do you think? How significant is all this talk?

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, I've been to Iran a number of times. I always thought the term reformer is overused in Iran. In general, it's just different shades of hard liners there. I mean, this is a regime that's intent on its own survival.

That said, there are different approaches. And this is as you said unprecedented outreach. I've spoken to a number of people and they call it the most significant outreach since the 1979 revolution -- and because it is quite broad. You have this invitation to the U.S. president to meet at the U.N. G.A. next would week. You have an outreach to Jews after years of his predecessor maligning Jews and talking about pushing Israel into the ocean, et cetera.

And now, you have this editorial where Syria is offering to broker a peace agreement in Syria -- Iran is offering to broker that agreement, potentially significant because Iran is Syria's main backer. And by doing that, it would to be, in effect, recognizing the Syrian opposition is legitimate. That said, I can't imagine Syria opposition wanting Iran to be an unbiased broker.

But still taken together, you have a very different approach to the outside world. And U.S. officials that I've spoken to are at least intrigued by this, but they have been down this path before and they want to see action in addition to the words.

BURNETT: Intrigued. And, of course, it's interesting. I hear from Israeli sources and also from Arab sources, they actually agree many of them. They don't trust what he says. This is a man who previously used a period of peace with the West on the nuclear issue as a time to later brag. That's when he made the most progress on the nuclear program. You know, this is coming at a time when there are reports that senior military officials in Iran said if the U.S. does anything in Syria, attack the American embassy in Iraq.

Now, if other countries said that, the United States might be at war. But they're not in this case. I mean, so, this is what's happening with Iran, on the one hand. On the other hand, people are talking about talks.

SCIUTTO: No question. And remember, terrorism has always been a tool of Iran's foreign policy, particularly through a terrorist group like Hezbollah and will likely remain so, Iran behind some of the attacks on U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, we know that, based on tracing the sources of some of the more dangerous IEDs there.

I think, when you look at this, though, the one reason why it's credible that Iran is reaching now and wants a different interaction with the West, particularly the U.S., is that these that it has been suffering under as a result of its nuclear program for a number of years, they've gotten a lot tighter, are truly crippling the economy. It's very painful. And that leads to questions in this regime about its own survival. And this is what Dr. Rouhani has said, that he was elected in the most recent presidential election to help lessen some of the effects of those sanctions.

So, it doesn't have to be a change of heart. It doesn't have to be that the Iranians have suddenly found God on this and became warm and fuzzy. It could be that very, you know, practical issue of survival in light of very severe sanctions which the people won't tolerate.

Remember, Iran is looking at countries all of its neighbors, these regimes, its old friends are falling due to popular uprisings. And you have to think that they're thinking in the back of their mind that could be us next.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Jim Sciutto.

Still OUTFRONT: Senator John McCain blasts Russian President Vladimir Putin today. But is Putin a monster of America's making?

Then, 40 years after the disappearance of six people, police find the bodies submerged in cars at the bottom of a nearby lake. We've been showing you those cars getting lifted out of the lake. So, why aren't they sure they found the right people?

And floods take 80 lives, hundreds more are missing. We're going to go to the scene.


BURNETT: And we're back with tonight's outer circle. We go to Mexico tonight where at least 97 are dead, dozens missing, 40,000 tourists stranded after two major storms hit the country's West Coast. The Mexican president is calling the damage catastrophic. And Shasta Darlington is following the story and I asked her about it.


SHASTA DARLINGTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Erin, just take a look around me. Here in Brinamento (ph), the streets are still flooded, people are literally shoveling mud out of their homes. Many of them lost the few belongings that they had.

At the same time, the air force is airlifting supplies in communities totally cut off and thousands of tourists are just trying to get out of what should be a tropical paradise, Erin.


BURNETT: Thanks to Shasta.

Now, our eighth story OUTFRONT: six bodies discovered in a pair of cars after decades underwater. In the same lake, forensic investigators coming to a trove of evidence discovered by accident this week in that lake in western Oklahoma. Well, they already have some clues. Confirming the identities of the bodies and how they got there is actually going to be incredibly time-consuming and difficult.

Ed Lavandera has been on the scene from the beginning and he's OUTFRONT.


ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This was Jimmy Williams standing next to his bright blue 1969 Camaro bought six days before he disappeared 43 years ago, a sweet driving muscle car that would be the envy of any teenaged boy.

This is what Oklahoma investigators believe that car looks like now. A corroded jelly-like carcass found sitting at the bottom of Foss Lake in western Oklahoma. It was one of two cars found there this week containing the remains of six bodies. When Williams and two other teenage friends disappeared in 1970, his family spread missing posters all over their hometown, of Sayre, Oklahoma, offering at $500 reward.

The teenagers were believed to either be on their way to a football game or on a hunting expedition. No one really knows. But we did see investigators uncover two corroded rifles from the car.

(on camera): Investigators say they have not ruled out foul play yet, but they suspect that these six victims accidentally drowned, that the cars rolled back into the water and the victims were trapped inside.

(voice-over): The cars were discovered by a team of divers with the Oklahoma Highway Patrol.

Darrell Splawn and his colleagues were testing new sonar equipment.

DARRELL SPLAWN, OKLAHOMA HIGHWAY PATROL: You can't see anything. It's too murky.

LAVANDERA: It wasn't until the cars were pulled out of the water that the gruesome and mysterious discovery was made.

SPLAWN: But then when we brought them up on shore, that was whenever the doors opened and you can see the skeletal remains.


LAVANDERA (on camera): That's your grandfather?


LAVANDERA (voice-over): John Alba Porter (ph) is believed to be one of the victims in the second car. He and two friends were last seen driving a 1950s Chevy when they disappeared in 1969, a year before the teenagers went missing. This could be what that car looks like now.

His granddaughter Debbie McManaman says her family used to look out on to this water and wonder.

DEBBIE MCMANAMAN, MISSING MAN'S GRANDDAUGHTER: We'd always -- maybe grandpa is in the lake, you know, maybe he had an accident.

LAVANDERA (on camera): You used to say that?

MCMANAMAN: Yes. Yes, even since I've been married and an adult, we would come up here, you know, maybe grandpa's in the lake, you know? Maybe that's where he's at.

LAVANDERA (voice-over): A random thought that may turn out to be oddly prophetic.

Ed Lavandera, CNN, Foss Lake, Oklahoma.


BURNETT: Lawrence Kobilinsky is a forensic scientist with the John Jay College of Criminal Justice.

And, Dr. Kobilinsky, you know, here is the thing that sort of shocked me. You know, we can identified King Tut, King Richard III was under a parking lot in Britain and they were able to identify them and they're saying they can't identify these bodies that are just a few decades old.

How come?

LAWRENCE KOBILINSKY, FORENSIC SCIENTIST: Well, I think they can identify these bodies. There are things that anthropologists can do just to assemble the mixture of bones answer separate them out into the individuals. They can tell the ethnicity, the gender, the height.

BURNETT: Why is it going to take so long when it was so quick, for example, recently with Richard III?

KOBILINSKY: Well, there's no soft tissue, first of all.

BURNETT: Meaning skin?

KOBILINSKY: The skin, there's no skin, no muscle. The only thing you've got is skeletal remains.

And the only way to identify them is either through dental records or X-rays if there were fractures, for example, but then you'd have to get those records. Other than that, you're down to DNA. And the way we do bones is through mitochondrial DNA.

We have relatives, these are not -- we're not looking to identify these out of the universe of people. We've got it narrowed down to six possible people. So through DNA, we should be able to do that. It may take some time.

BURNETT: Interesting. But you're saying it really is that there's often --

KOBILINSKY: Advanced decomposition.

BURNETT: -- skin, muscle left on very, very old skeletons. Obviously not in this case because of the water.

KOBILINSKY: Most of the time we're talking about mitochondrial DNA out of bone.


KOBILINSKY: Very seldom you have nuclear DNA, which gives you much kind of different identification statistics.

BURNETT: Now, we've also been hearing, our Ed Lavandera's been reporting rifles, wallets, purse coming to the surface now which is eerie and bizarre after all this time. But that would be crucial in this particular case, right?

KOBILINSKY: Absolutely. I mean, it's not just the skeletal remains but anything else in and around the car. Finding a wallet, finding a shoe. For example, you find the shoe, it's got a certain size and then you can then say -- well, perhaps this size nine fits this skeleton.

BURNETT: And a shoe could last that long in water.

KOBILINSKY: Absolutely. And, you know, if you find the evidence of guns, for example, that would be consistent with the teenagers that were out to go shooting. BURNETT: All right. Well, thank you very much, Dr. Kobilinsky, sort of just fascinating, a mystery like this in one lake and six people and then there's how it's tied together. Thank you.

KOBILINSKY: It's a mystery. Thank you.

BURNETT: All right. It's time for tonight's OUTFRONT "Outtake."

So, today, John McCain slammed Russian President Vladimir Putin, and you know, a week ago, Putin wrote that op-ed in "The New York Times" where he said America was not exceptional. Today, John McCain fired back in an op-ed piece on the Russian news site Pravda.

Senator McCain says Putin, quote, "rules by using weaknesses, by corruption, repression and violence. He rules for himself not for you," talking to the Russian people.

It's the latest sign that U.S. lawmakers now consider Russia and Putin a real threat. Do you remember a year ago when Mitt Romney was mocked for saying Russia was America's, quote, "biggest geopolitical foe"? But now more and more U.S. lawmakers agree.

Here's Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer.


SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D), NEW YORK: And as long as Prime Minister Putin acts like a bully, we have only one choice to stand up to him and show him that bullies pay a price.


BURNETT: This is exactly the kind of talk Putin wants. The Russian president works very hard to create a cult of personality where he's strong, powerful and important and op-eds like John McCain's, what Chuck Schumer said play into that, because the more America says Putin is relevant and dangerous, the more the rest of the world sees him as relevant and dangerous.

If you don't believe it, Putin will tell you so himself, because when Mitt Romney called Russia a threat a year ago, Putin thanked Romney, actually, saying, quote, "I'm grateful to Romney for formulating his stance so clearly."

Vladimir Putin wants to be seen as important and U.S. lawmakers might be the greatest promoters, because a new poll that just came out shows 50 percent of Americans now see Russia as an enemy. That is up from just 20 percent in 2006.

Still OUTFRONT, eHarmony says it can help you fall in love with your job.


BURNETT: Betting on love. After watching his online dating company struggle against increased competition, Neil Warren came out of retirement with an idea to revive eHarmony. He also says if you like it, it'll change the world.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I pronounce you husband and wife.

BURNETT (voice-over): Thirteen years ago, the world was introduced to the perfect couple, eHarmony met the Internet. Together, they ignited a cultural phenomenon. The company proudly takes credit for 500,000 weddings and counting.



BURNETT: Dr. Neil Warren started eHarmony when he was almost 70 years old. He was a psychologist counseling on happy married couples when a friend made a suggestion.

(on camera): So, where did the original idea come from?

DR. NEIL WARREN, FOUNDER, CEO, EHARMONY: Well, it came from a man by the name of Pete Hart who was the CEO of MasterCard. And he said to me one day, you know, something has to be done to help marriage in America because so many marriages are dying.

I said, I know. I said I think I presided over the funerals of more marriages than anybody in America because I'm so old.

And he said, well, he said, I think the only way we're going to do it is on the Internet.

BURNETT (voice-over): EHarmony is one of the most recognized online dating brands in the $2 billion a year U.S. dating industry. And happily ever after may not be an exaggeration. An eHarmony study found only 1 in 20 of eHarmony marriages end in divorce.

But with rising competition from companies like, Warren admits his company lost its way. In the last three years, new memberships, retention rates and time spent on the site were all down.

Warren has been looking for ways to resuscitate eHarmony by doing more with the company than finding love. He's expanding to help people find friends, giving tips on how to be better parents, even helping people find the right job.

(on camera): You're taking that on. How so?

WARREN: We can use the algorithms that we've learned how to develop to make sure that a person gets into the job that would be a good job for them. And the way you do that, you've got to get to know the person. But you've also got to get to know the culture of the place where they're working.

BURNETT (voice-over): It's ambitious, maybe even a little intrusive. An idea that Warren doesn't seem to shy away from.

WARREN: We're not into it for business anymore. We're into it to change the world.


BURNETT: Let us know if you use the site for finding a new job or for finding friends or whether you think it's way too intrusive.

Thanks as always for joining us. We appreciate it. We'll see you back here same time tomorrow.

"ANDERSON COOPER 360" starts right now.