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Gunmen May Still Be Hiding In Mall; Five Americans Among 175 Wounded; Vow To "Finish And Punish" Mall Terrorists; A Scene Of Horror In Kenya Mall Attack; One Week For Congress To Reach A Budget Deal; FBI Investigating if Americans Involved; Official at Heart of IRS Scandal Resigns

Aired September 23, 2013 - 19:00   ET


ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: "OUTFRONT" next, terrorists slaughtering more than 60 people at a popular mall. Nearly 200 others are wounded, including Americans. We're going to talk to a woman tonight who was inside that mall during the siege. Some of the footage she has is incredible.

Plus a concert in Connecticut turns into a mass casualty event. Some teens are still in the hospital tonight and authorities are now blaming a powerful, new narcotic.

And 80 political prisoners have been released by Iran in a charm offensive. One, though, a former American Marine, remains behind bars. What is America doing to free him? An exclusive OUTFRONT report. Let's go OUTFRONT.

And good evening, everyone. I'm Erin Burnett. OUTFRONT tonight, terror at the mall, al Qaeda-linked militants holed up in an upscale mall in Kenya tonight. They slaughtered more than 60 people wounding nearly 200 others including five Americans. The horror began Saturday when extremists stormed the mall with guns and grenades, going store to store, shooting primarily we understand, non-Muslim men, women and children.

Kenyan authorities at this hour say that they have taken control of the shopping complex. There still may be several gunmen inside though, so the situation is still very unclear. There also could still be hostages inside. What we know right now though confirmed is this -- at least 62 people have lost their lives in this mass slaughter, citizens of Kenya, Great Britain, France and Canada among them.

And that number may keep going up as the mall gets cleared. Sixty five people remain missing. The Somali-based al Qaeda linked group, al Shabaab has claimed credit for the massacre. It's the deadliest terror in Kenya since al Qaeda blew up the American Embassy, a horrible act in which 213 people were murdered.

Now we're going to show you, tonight, how the attack unfolded so you really get a sense of the space and what happened and where and how they broke in. How terrorists took control of the mall. First though, senior international correspondent Arwa Damon is in Nairobi for us tonight live with the latest. And Arwa, Kenyan authorities say they have control of the mall. I know it's still a little bit unclear at this time, but do you have any idea how many hostages remain inside?

ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: No. We don't and in fact, the government has been very tight-lipped when it comes to the specifics about the fate of the hostages in the last 24 hours. Earlier in the day, there was an explosion. We then saw a massive plume of smoke that really covered the sky here for hours. There were sporadic bursts of gunfire.

Then the Kenyan government came out saying they had control over the mall. But there were an unknown number of gunmen that were possibly still inside and no clear indication as to what may have happened to the hostages. The location that we're at, we're right around the corner from where the mall is. There's a community center that's been set up as a makeshift triage center where people can come.

There have been volunteer groups here that have been trying to go in and gain access to clear out some of the bodies they believed to be inside, but they have not actually been able, they're telling us today, to access the building itself -- Erin.

BURNETT: Arwa, before we go, we've heard reports that terrorists were killing non-Muslims, letting Muslims go free. You know, I saw one report of -- they asked a man, are you Muslim he said yes. They said what about the mother, he said he didn't know and they shot him in the head. That was just a report that I saw somewhere. What can you tell us about the situation?

DAMON: Well, we actually met a couple earlier today who were in fact a husband and wife, our radio presenter team, and they were, of all things, hosting a cooking show for children on the rooftop of the mall. The husband was describing how the kids were very happily chopping up their vegetables, making their dishes when suddenly the attack happened. They tried to gather all the children into a corner.

He said that, then, the attackers deliberately threw a grenade at the location where they were taking cover. He stood up and began reciting prayers from the Koran. The attackers asked him if he was Muslim. He said yes, I am. They asked about his wife. He said yes, that's my wife. She was cradling their 8-month-old baby. She actually had a bullet graze her head. She and the child were drenched in blood and they managed to get away. And that's one of the horrific stories we're hearing from some of the survivors out there -- Erin.

BURNETT: All right, thank you very much. Arwa Damon as we said reporting live from Kenya tonight.

Our second story OUTFRONT is witnessing the massacre. Because earlier, AFP reporter, Nichole Sobecki came OUTFRONT, I talked to her. She actually was outside the mall, lives in the neighborhood. I mean, this was a Saturday, even if were you a journalist, a lot of people were just there in their personal lives. She heard the attack and then ran inside the mall as the attack was happening, and I asked her how she first managed to get in. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

NICHOLE SOBECKI, WITNESS TO MALL ATTACK (via telephone): From outside at first I assessed the situation, talked to some other journalists, talked to some of the medical professionals who were there running the ambulances and managed to figure out that there was probably a way in through third floor. I ran along and followed some security forces where they were beginning to sweep the mall on the third floor.

BURNETT: And Nichole, what was it like then? We're hearing they may have full control over the mall, but obviously, you know, it was days where there were still people who were hidden or who were held hostage. What was the scale of the mall as you saw it?

SOBECKI: Well, from my vantage point, when I first arrived, you could see on the second and first floor there were bodies of victims still lying there. It was unclear exactly how many victims there were and how many people were still in the mall. It seems as we swept through different shops and beauty parlors, casino, cinema, everywhere you looked, there were people hiding from the attackers.

People stuck in cinemas with you know, action movie posters surrounding them. It was a very surreal experience going through the mall that is not far from where I live that I've gone to just to pick up my groceries or meet a friend suddenly transformed into the scene of terror.

BURNETT: And Nichole, we just saw some of the video. We're looking at it now of the woman who climbed out through the air vent and there were people there trying to rescue her. It sort of conveys somehow the -- you know, people going about their daily lives and then this horrific act happening. Did you see people who were wounded or killed?

SOBECKI: Yes, looking from the third floor looking down and eventually later on during my time in the mall I was able to get down to the second and the ground floor. And there were bodies in cafe. People who have lunch with their friends who had their lives cut short far too quickly.


BURNETT: And that again was AFP reporter, Nichole Sobecki.

Our third OUTFRONT story is how the massacre actually unfolded. It's the big question I've had. I mean, obviously this was planned and well orchestrated, but it's a big mall, and being able to come in and take this over and hold people hostage for days on end, how does it happen in a popular fancy, upscale mall that was a popular destination for foreigners?

It was full on Saturday afternoon and Tom Foreman is OUTFRONT. So Tom, they break in there. This, then, evolved into a military style battle, right?

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It was unbelievable. This is where it all began in the Kenyan capital of Nairobi where this popular mall houses about 80 stores and restaurants. Now the attack started at about noon on Saturday. According to witnesses, a group of armed gunmen came in through the main entrance right down here and they began spreading out here on the ground nor, throwing grenades and firing shots and then moving up through the mall essentially turning the whole thing into their own type of fortress based on chaos largely.

So they took control of all of these floors. Witnesses described the gunmen going shop to shop, floor to floor searching for people who had hidden. By 1:00 p.m., the police had arrived in force and they were also inside the mall looking for the gunmen, for victims and for people who might be hiding. Army Special Forces soon joined the hunt and many witnesses described the scene, immense confusion. Hard to determine if there was any safe way out of all this or whether some of the gunmen were now possessing as civilians. That was one of the key problems here.

BURNETT: And one of the key problems that made it impossible for, well, I guess, for security forces or Kenyan military to attack them, right? I mean, how did final phase begin? And I say final phase obviously at this point knowing that there are still serious question marks about who is inside that mall right now.

FOREMAN: Yes. By 11:00 p.m. on Saturday night, the police were focusing much of their attention on the mall's supermarket. The police were focusing on the mall supermarket, right back here. They say the attackers had been pinned down and isolated. The terrorist group, Al Shabaab, which has laid claims of the attack, issued a statement of its own around that time on Twitter saying no, that's not the case.

They are still strong inside Westgate Mall and still holding their ground. So you're correct, Erin, it was developing to a military battle in there. So the final phase of it. Let's talk about what happened in the final phase. Sunday, around 2:30 in the morning, the government tweets, major operations are under way. It's not clear what that means.

But about three hours later, there's a follow up tweet from the government saying the gunmen still have hostages in several locations, although troops now control the top two floors of the mall. By noon it's clear that hundreds of hostages have been rescued. There are dozens of fatalities and the fight is still not over since sporadic gunfire persists.

Then this morning, Monday morning, a series of loud explosions, smoke goes up from the mall and soon there's a declaration that basically the government is controlling everything although there's still this unanswered question as they search for any other gunmen who may be hidden in there.

That's really how it happened, Erin, here in this storm of chaos and fear. They managed to inject so much confusion here. Even as the police hunted them, it was hard to know if they we were rooting them all out or if anybody could be safe until it was truly all over. BURNETT: All right, Tom Foreman, thank you very much. Certainly a level of sophistication and planning that nobody thought this group capable of.

Still to come, all right, the man of the hour, when I say man of the hour, that may mean you love the person or you actually despise him and think he's bringing down America. You're probably one camp one way or the other when it comes to Ted Cruz right now. Well, guess what, he just spoke to CNN a few minutes ago. Dana bash was the woman who had that conversation. She's going to be with us right after this.

Then huge news for Blackberry and for Apple, I mean, major news tonight. You're probably carrying one or the other of those, or could you be a Samsung guy, whatever, I'm just saying, big news coming up.

Plus the trial under way for the captain of the doomed cruise ship "Costa Concordia." He tried to blame someone today in court that story.

And what led the president to say this?


BURNETT: Our fourth story OUTFRONT, threatening to shutdown. So in just a week, the federal government is set to run out of money because Congress hasn't reached a deal. They could still do it, but I don't know, might be a loser's bet. Anyway, this week a House bill to fund the government, but defund Obamacare heads to the Senate.

It will not pass, but Senator Ted Cruz is not backing down. He wants to filibuster. He has become the man of the hour. Sometimes the man of the hour is a hero and sometimes the man of the hour is somebody who you want to kill and he is one of the other depending where you stand.

OUTFRONT tonight, Dana Bash. And Dana, he is that guy to everybody. You spoke to Senator Cruz. What did he tell you?

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. And what's so fascinating, Erin, is that he is that guy even among fellow Republicans. Some say that he is a fraud. That's a quote. And that he simply can't count the votes because this can't pass the Senate, they think.

On the other hand, he says that he is really a hero. And he is a hero to so many in the Tea Party movement who got him elected. And he says that's really what he's doing: he's trying to keep a campaign promise, one that he doesn't think enough people in Washington do, and that is to defund or get rid of Obamacare. And I asked him about that and the fact that he's not really making a lot of friends doing that.


SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: If you get outside of Washington, D.C., there is a frustration with Washington that is palpable. When you ask your constituents what are the problems you're facing, over and over again, the answer that comes back is Obamacare is killing jobs, is taking away my health insurance, is driving up my premiums, is causing small businesses to shrink, to go out of business. If we listen to the American people, that should be our priorities.


BASH: So certainly, Ted Cruz thinks he is on a crusade that is based in principle, regardless of where the votes are. And he is changing the way he's arguing this to fellow Republicans, Erin, and he's saying if you don't support this filibuster, you are effectively supporting the continuation of Obamacare.

But I've got to tell you, it's not even working with the top Republican in the Senate who is worried about his right flank, that's Mitch McConnell. He announced that he is not going to be with Ted Cruz. That does not bode well for Cruz's filibuster going his way.

BURNETT: So - all right. Dana Bash, thank you very much. This is going to be great drama. And a great get by Dana, talking to Ted Cruz, as we said, the man at the center of all of this.

And of course, after the shutdown comes the big story, which is actually the debt ceiling. If it doesn't get raised, it will be what one expert told me, quote, is "cataclysmic." And that will take a toll on something that matters to America. This: 770 days since this country lost its top credit rating. The U.S. will not get the credit rating back until Washington gets it together. Don't hold your breath. You'll die.

Our fifth story OUTFRONT. Money and power: smartphone wars. Apple announced it sold 9 million new iPhones over the weekend. That number includes the iPhone 5-S which is the more expensive phone with the fingerprint, which by the way apparently got hacked by Germans today in much the way Richard Quest predicted, using tape or something.

Then there's the 5C which comes in all the cool colors. And then there's my beloved. Today it announced it was going private. Being acquired for $4.7 billion. BlackBerry last week announced it sold only 3.7 million devices over an entire quarter. So, 9 million in a weekend for Apple, 3.7 million for BlackBerry.

Richard Quest, host of "QUEST MEANS BUSINESS" is here. All right. I was -


BURNETT: It's a big violin!

QUEST: It's a very small one.

BURNETT: All right, here's my question. I remember saying - last week, I was predicting Apple would sell 10 million phones. And I think they would have if there hadn't been a supply issue. They sell 9 million, though, right, well above any expectations. Stock goes up five percent; still down 30 percent over the past year, though. So, let's start with Apple first. Is this enough?

QUEST: Of course it's not! This is a blip. A good one, but they've still got to come up with the next thing and the next thing and the next thing. And as one CEO of a very good telecom company put it to me like this: If you look at Samsung, Samsung is nimble, faster, knows how it's going to change its phones 15 times before they come out. Apple probably knows what it's doing this year, next year and the year after.

And Apple still has to come up with the quantum leap, not the incremental change. IOS 7, I suffered the pains of it this weekend, but it's brilliant. It's what they needed to do. And they've done it very well. But it's incremental.

BURNETT: All right. Now what about BlackBerry? We all know it's been struggling. But a couple good things about it. One, Wall Street Journal cites a stat today: 38 percent market share among big companies, so they still have that. Because of the security. And in places like the Middle East, maybe because of government snooping, it's a very popular phone. So there are a couple of good things, but basically, the market share numbers are abysmal.

So, now it's going private. What's this going to do? I don't understand how this helps.

QUEST: First of all, somebody's prepared to pay $5 billion for this. It's got a lot of cash in the bank that it won't hopefully burn through. But $5 billion is a lot of money. Fairfax is the company, the Canadian company.

But really listen to what they say. The CEO of Fairfax says, "We can deliver immediate value to shareholders" - good news for them -- "with a focus on delivering superior and secure enterprise solutions." What does that mean? Superior and secure? It means it's not for every Tom, Dick and Harry

BURNETT: It means the government can't snoop on you if you work for a big company, and they want that.

QUEST: It means professionals. It means people who want to pay a little bit more to have the reliability. And that's their big problem recently. Has the reliability been there? And that's why Fairfax is paying this money.

Some people suggest they're doing it to break the thing up; I don't happen to think so. I think they're looking for this niche market of secure and superior. (INAUDIBLE) like yourself.

BURNETT: I have one, and I do love it, but we'll see.

QUEST: We all love it.

BURNETT: Yep. We do love it. All right. Thank you very much. Sometimes the best companies don't always win. All right. OUTFRONT next, more than 30 people died when the cruise ship Costa Concordia ran aground. And today, prosecutors say the captain abandoned ship and is guilty of manslaughter. But he spoke out, the Schettino, and guess who he blamed?

And then the woman at the center of the IRS targeting scandal abruptly retired today. The word, everyone, is retired. That might be a really great thing for her.


BURNETT: Our sixth story out front, the Costa Concordia blame game. The captain of the ship that slammed into the rocks off Italy's coast who you see there asked a panel of judges today for permission to now tour the now-righted ship. He says the deadly wreck was the fault of his crew. Just before the collision in which 32 people lost their lives, Captain Francesco Schettino insists that he quote, "asked the helmsman to turn the ship left. He made an error and did not, and turned hard to the right."

CNN legal analyst Danny Cevallos is OUTFRONT. Now, Danny , he's on trial obviously for abandoning ship. He's on trial for manslaughter. He was the captain. How likely is it that he will go to jail, whether or not the statement that he alleges is true?

DANNY CEVALLOS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, first he has to be convicted. And Italy has a very different procedure than we have in the United States. For example, he is not being tried by a jury of his peers. This is a justice or a judge that hears the evidence. And in most cases, you do not get a jury of your peers in Italy.

And the burden here is interesting. If they have to prove negligence -- because they have the same concept of negligence, although I'm sure it's different there. But if they have to prove negligence with all of these other people being implicated -- even though he is the captain and he has the con, as we say, and he has the liability, is he liable if there are at least several other factors? Because when we think of criminal liability, we think of a very high burden. And it's similarly quite high in Italy. If you have multiple different people --

BURNETT: So they have to prove that he and he alone. So if there is any doubt that other people turned the ship the wrong way or did something wrong, that would ameliorate --

CEVALLOS: Italy doesn't have beyond a reasonable doubt, but the judge must be internally convinced, whatever that means. So when you start implicating other individuals, it becomes more difficult to say this person was the most negligent or 90 percent negligent.

Consider this. When it comes to negligence, we have an ordinary idea of what negligence is when we drive a car or do ordinary things. But when it come does captaining a ship, that requires expert testimony. And we've heard expert testimony in this case.

So ultimately, it's going to be a specialized area that this judge has to make a determination about.

BURNETT: So the bottom line, in a word, he may not go to jail.

CEVALLOS: He may not. He may not.

BURNETT: All right. Well, thank you very much.

We look forward to your feedback on that if you think it's fair or not, given what you know about the Costa Concordia.

OUTFRONT next, Lois Lerner, the woman at the center of the IRS political targeting scandal. Remember her? She'd been sort of stepping aside. Well, anyway, she took the fifth rather than answer questions about whether or not the IRS singled out Tea Party groups for scrutiny.

Well, guess what? Today she retired. And the word that is so important is retired. Gloria Borger has the story next on how much money she is going to get.

And President Obama jokes that he is scared of Michelle. And he was caught on tape. We'll tell you why.

Plus, Molly, the drug celebrated by Miley Cyrus and other entertainers becoming more popular and more dangerous. Is the use of pot to blame? Dr. Drew breaks it down next.

And our "Shoutout" tonight: what a food fight.


BURNETT: Welcome back to the second half of OUTFRONT, on a Monday.

We begin with a possible hate crime. A Columbia University professor says about 15 young men called him a terrorist yelling "Get Osama", as they beat him near Central Park in New York City. The perpetrators are likely mistook Prabhjot Singh for a Muslim because he was wearing a turban and has a long beard. He is not, he is a Sikh.

The NYPD is investigating Singh's account as a hate crime. They have not identified any suspects, though. This comes just over a year after six Sikhs were killed in a shooting rampage in Oak Creek, Wisconsin.

Well, it turns out President Obama didn't quit smoking for his health. Although, you know (INAUDIBLE) why he quit, which we glad he did. But anyway, here he is today caught off mic talking with an official about his former bad habit.



MAINA KAI: Sometimes.

OBAMA: (INAUDIBLE). No, no, I haven't had a cigarette in probably six years. That's because I'm scared of my wife.


BURNETT: Hey, like I said. President Obama says he hasn't had a cigarette in probably six years, but is he crunching the numbers?

Back in December of 2010, the president's former spokesperson Robert Gibbs told CNN that the president had not seen him with a cigarette in nine months, the longest he'd seen him go without a smoke. Look, the bottom line is it's great if the president has kicked. But if Gibbs was right, the timing remains uncertain.

Well, Louisiana's Angola Prison, larger than the size of Manhattan, it is surrounded on three sides by the Mississippi River. And now all in, this ends up making one of the most difficult prisons from which to escape in the United States.

And yet, two inmates serving life sentences tried to make a run for it during yard time. They used gloves to scale a razor wire fence, according to our affiliate WBRZ. They actually then tried throwing off the K-9 unit by spraying pepper around the woods. They did, though, end up getting caught about a quarter mile from where they escaped, wearing the clothes on their back, and carrying 30 bags of peanuts. I don't know why, and I don't know how think got them.

The next time, the warden says they will get their exercise in a small cage.

Well, our seventh story OUTFRONT is the terror takedown just after 2:30 in the morning in Nairobi and just hours, Kenyan security forces are expected to again storm the upscale Westgate Mall in the last ditch effort to take out the remaining gunmen that they believe are still in there. There could still be hostages fighting for their lives as well.

Now, a huge question tonight is whether Americans were involved in the terror attack, according to the al Qaeda-linked terror group, al Shabaab, three Americans took part in the massacre. The United States government, though, has not confirmed this.

Our Martin Savidge is OUTFRONT tonight in Minneapolis. This is where al Shabaab has a history of recruiting Americans to terror.


MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): At the Abubaker mosque, (INAUDIBLE) at midday prayer, at this Minneapolis neighborhood, home to the nation's largest Somali-American population.

I asked the mosque leader if he's heard the alleged attacker names being circulated.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, I never heard about that.

SAVIDGE: Many here don't know if it's true. But they are worried it could be true. You see, it's happened before. Seventeen-year-old Burhan Hassan was A straight a student who wanted to be a doctor and disappeared in 2008. His mother at the time didn't want to be identified told CNN she had no idea where he'd gone. Until he called.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mom, I'm in Somalia. I'm OK.

SAVIDGE: But he wasn't OK. Hassan was fighting for the terrorist group al Shabaab. Not long after, she was told he was dead.


SAVIDGE: This weekend's terror rampage in Kenya has many wondering how long until those behind it comes to the U.S. Omar Jamal, a Somali diplomat, tells me al Shabaab is already here.

(on camera): How many people do you think have been taken from this community by recruiting?

OMAR JAMAL, SOMALI DIPLOMAT: About approximately 30 to 40. And that is the most often asked question. And I think nobody can nail down the exact figure.

SAVIDGE: Even as we sip coffee in middle America, he is sure the terrorists are recruiting nearby.

Hassan's uncle says teens here often raised in single parent homes with no hope, become perfect targets.

ABDIRIZAK BIHI, BURHAN HASSAN'S UNCLE: When you have young people, young boys, who have never seen their dad, who live in this poverty environment and need badly to find a role male model. And al Shabaab has become that father they never had.

SAVIDGE: Unless something's done, Jamal predicts one day, instead of leaving the U.S. to fight for al Shabaab, they will stay, he says, and fight here, explaining the logic this way.

JAMAL: It's just a fraction of a second. Where should I do that? Just as you said it, well, I'm in Minneapolis, what the heck. Why I'm not do it here (ph)?


SAVIDGE: You know, it would be very easy to listen to that last word there and think that this whole community here is somehow going to go al Shabaab's way.

I just had a fascinating conversation with the young people here in this park. They don't buy into al Shabaab. They don't buy into the logic, and they warn that in this community al Shabaab's not welcome.

So, what's interesting is that education works here. It is not a philosophy of terror that they support. It's America. It's freedom. It's everything that is the American ideal. So, it's refreshing to know that maybe al Shabaab isn't going to find a great deal of success here, Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Martin Savidge, thank you.

And our eighth story OUTFRONT: The IRS official at the heart of the Tea Party scandal retires. Tonight, the tax agency says Lois Lerner, who admitted that her department had targeted conservative groups applying for tax exempt status, is no longer with the agency. Now this had been in question, but she had been collecting a paycheck and other things.

And our political analyst Gloria Borger is OUTFRONT.

And, Gloria, I know, obviously, and the truth about the IRS, you did a whole lot of reporting on this.


BURNETT: So let me just ask you. This has been going on for a while. She's been defensive. She pled the Fifth.

Why today does she retire?

BORGER: Well, categorize this as under not a coincidence, Erin, because the resignation was received just after the IRS internal review board finished its review of the IRS controversy. And we've learned from our congressional sources that the board was really going to recommend that she'd be fired, based on what it called neglective duties.

So you have to presume that she was given a choice, either resign or be fired.

I should also add that here though that the review board didn't say that she willfully directed people to target conservative groups. What the review board is saying is that it was gross mismanagement or incompetence, and Republicans, of course, Erin, still say that she purposefully targeted these Republican groups.

We tried to contact her lawyer. And we haven't heard back.

BURNETT: All right. So, now, let me just ask you something because, you know, I've spent a lot of time covering the business world.

When you get fired, you lose things. You lose your pension, you lose your salary, you lose all these things. When someone gives you the option of retire or fire, and you take retire, that means you're going to get all of those things, which a lot of people find to be shocking and offensive.

Now, is she going to get to keep the money? And if so, what is she going to get?

BORGER: Well, you know, she -- first of all, she's been on paid leave since May, as you know. And we've been making a bunch of phone calls on this, and I've been talking to some Republicans in the Senate. One Senate aid in particular said to me, there's no reason to believe that she will not get her pension. And you see there that she's worked in government for quite a long time.

BURNETT: Thirty-four years.

BORGER: Yes, exactly. And there are some who say that even if she had been fired, she may have been able to get her pension, but definitely, since she's clearly resigned, it seems to me that she's going to get the money she's entitled to having worked for 30- something years. Some people would disagree with that.

But, you know, I will have to say her last salary job was $177,000 a year. So, she'll probably get quite a pension.

BURNETT: Yes. All right. Thank you very much. Gloria Borger.

Please let us know what you think about it, everyone.

And now, our ninth story out front, a lethal high. So a concert at a Connecticut amusement park turned into what police are now calling a mass casualty event this weekend. Saturday night, several partygoers collapsed from drug overdoses. Four people are still in the hospital tonight.

Now, authorities are blaming what's called 2C-P which is a powerful new synthetic drug that causes hallucinations, and Molly, which is a powdered form of ecstasy. Molly is the designer drug that's become increasingly popular with celebrities that's responsible for two deaths that we covered recently at the music festival called the electric zoo in New York.

What makes these the new party drugs?

I mean, I want to bring in Dr. Drew OUTFRONT, host of HLN's "Dr. Drew on Call".

Now, Dr. Drew, you know, you look at the emergency room related, you know, cases here with Molly, for example, more than doubled since 2005. Now you have this new drug that we're talking here about, 2C-P.

Is this just our perception that there's more of this going on? Or is it reality?

DR. DREW PINSKY, HLN HOST: Oh, no. There is more -- well, I can't say more drug use going on. But there's more drug use with molecules that are a problem.

For instance, I believe what's happening here is young people are believing the marketing of the people that distribute the drugs. What I mean to say is, for instance, Molly. Molly is straight old MDMA ecstasy.

We've always known that MDMA is a dangerous compound. It has long term effects. It has short term dangerous effects including death. And back when it was marketed as ecstasy, the young community began to think of it as something that was adulterated.

And as though the adulterated agent was what they had to watch out for, not the MDMA. And now that we have the pure MDMA in the form of Molly, we can go have at it.

Well, the fact is the dangerous compound is the MDMA. And at the same time, they're coming out with other designer type products, hallucinogenics, 2C-P, 2C-E, that have very similar effects to LSD. But really, we don't even know yet the long term consequences of these compounds.

BURNETT: And, you know, I was seeing today, there's some water, they're called "Molly water" or something, I guess people get thirsty when they're using it. I don't know. But there's -- you know, my point is, there's products out there and people who are perceived as hip members of pop culture -- Kanye West, (INAUDIBLE), Miley Cyrus -- who are talking about it, singing about it. Again, I'm talking about Molly in particular.

Is this why a lot of teenagers view it as acceptable? You know, or is it not fair to point the finger there?

PINSKY: No, I don't know that I would point the finger in any particular direction except to say that when we measure the perceived harm by a compound, we're starting to see amongst young people a sudden decline in the perception of harm from various substances. And when there's a drop in perception of harm, there's an increase in use.

And the really sad part about it is that they're trusting people who distribute the drugs for their source of information. And that's what's really getting people into trouble and ending up people in emergency rooms and death.

Make no mistake about it: the one common feature of hallucinogens in my experience, clinically, neurotoxic, long-term brain problem, memory problems, mood disturbances, even seizure disorders. MDMA, certainly hyperthermia and death. And again the same long term consequences.

BURNETT: Thanks very much to Dr. Drew.

Well, still to come, a former U.S. Marine held captive in Iran for more than two years. As the president of Iran comes to U.S., his family speaks out in an OUTFRONT exclusive.

Plus, a proposal that could change the way all of us vote.

And the shoot-out tonight is the food fight. This video shot inside a Texas Whataburger. The fight broke out after a high school football game. Fans of both teams were at the restaurant and let their anger out. It lasted only about 30 seconds, but true hell was wrought.

The students have apologized and Whataburger says they won't press charges, which is very nice of them, because the shout-out goes to the Whataburger employees who graciously closed the store for 30 minutes and cleaned up the mess which these teens should have done themselves.

We'll be back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BURNETT: Our tenth story OUTFRONT: tonight for the first time since taking office, Iran's new president, Hassan Rouhani, is in New York, that picture taken today. Here's for the U.N. General Assembly. He tweeted this picture of him with this ambassador to the United Nations.

There is a lot riding on this week's visit. Rouhani has signaled he's more willing to work with the West and his predecessor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

But does this talk of change add up?

Today, Tehran announced it's freed 80 political prisoners, out of what's estimated to be a couple of hundred.

One prisoner Iran did not release is former American marine Amir Hekmati. He's been behind bars for more than two years, accused of being a spy. Hekmati's father is dying of brain cancer. And he, along with the rest of Hekmati's family spoke to our Drew Griffin for an OUTFRONT exclusive.


DREW GRIFFIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Amir is as American as you can get. Born in Flagstaff, Arizona, raised in Flint, Michigan, graduates from high school, joins the marines, and becomes a rifleman serving in Iraq.

BEHNAZ HEKMATI, AMIR'S MOTHER: My kids, you know, they are born in the United States. They were born free, go where they want to go, say what they want to say. He was raised here in the United States.

GRIFFIN: He is also, as you can now tell, the son of Iranian immigrants who two years ago were told by Amir their son finally wanted to go to Iran, visit the relatives he had never seen, find his roots.

(on camera): So he was excited to go to Iran?

B. HEKMATI: Yes, very excited to go.


GRIFFIN (voice-over): Like all parents, but especially those raised in Iran, Behnaz and Ali, were more nervous than excited, and tried to explain to their American son the dangers of traveling in a country where no one is free.

B. HEKMATI: He said mom, I didn't do anything. I just want to go see, you know, Iran, my relatives, my grandmother. I'm not afraid of anything.

GRIFFIN: In late August of 2011, Amir Hekmati called his mom from Iran to say he was having the time of his life. And he was coming home. He told them he would leave two days after a final good-bye party his Iranian relatives were having on August 29th. That party came and went. Amir never showed.

The former U.S. marine had simply vanished. And for three months, no one in his family knew anything.


GRIFFIN: Then, a news report on Iranian state TV. Amir Hekmati, imprisoned and admitted he was a spy for the CIA.

B. HEKMATI: That day that we saw his face, and he was confessing -- this kind of big news. Like he is -- a CIA spy, and I said wow.

GRIFFIN (on camera): Do you have any idea why him?

ALI HEKMATI: We have some speculations. That -- somebody got jealous of him. And didn't like the idea that he lives in America, came up with some lies about him, called him a CIA spy.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): It has turned into a two-year ordeal. Amir Hekmati tried and sentenced to death, the death sentence overturned, 16 months in solitary confinement, a month-long hunger strike. His sister Sarah has struggled to get political support to intervene.

SARAH HEKMATI, AMIR'S SISTER: And we just hope that we are reaching the years, especially now with this new transition in government in Iran, the ears of the right people.

GRIFFIN: The new reportedly moderate president in Iran, Hassan Rouhani, just released 11 prisoners, and it was to the Hekmatis a sign of hope.

S. HEKMATI: I think my wish was praying and hoping that Amir's name was among the people on the list that were released.

GRIFFIN (on camera): And it wasn't?

S. HEKMATI: No, but we're not going to give up.

GRIFFIN: There was talk of other home, a rumored possible prisoner exchange.

Behind bars, Amir Hekmati just last month, managed to get this handwritten letter smuggled out to Secretary of State John Kerry, in it, Amir explicitly he explains he is not a spy, is not guilty of any crime, and was set up.

And this former marine says there should be no deal on his behalf. "While my family and myself have suffered greatly," he writes, "I will accept nothing but my unconditional release."

His parents just want him free. Behnaz Hekmati has this tearful plea to Iran's new president in Persian and English, parent to parent, she says, let my son come home.

B. HEKMATI: This has been more than two years. To just let Amir come home, and Amir didn't do any crime. He didn't do anything. Just let him come home. And make this family happy again.


BURNETT: Now, Drew, you said in your report, this is a former American marine, true American being held in Iran with new proof that he ahs done anything wrong, but I think a lot of people watching didn't know his story. I mean, his story was unknown to a lot of people.

I mean, is he getting any support in Washington, to try to put pressure on the Iranian government, maybe this only moment with this much leverage to try to free him?

GRIFFIN: Yes, they certainly think it is a crucial moment. Secretary of State John Kerry came out recently calling for the Iranians to release Hekmati and another American being held there, especially in Hekmati's case, saying, listen, the charges against him are completely false.

But the real support the Hekmati family is getting is in Congress. And it is bipartisan, Erin.

In fact, take a look, these are all members of Congress, Republicans and Democrats, pictured with this "Free Amir" bumper stickers. They are really demanding that Iran's new president release Amir Hekmati, our U.S. marine who is being held on charges that the courts in Iran even threw out.

So, there are currently no charges that he is being held under in Iran that we know of. So release the guy. Erin, maybe it will happen this week.

BURNETT: All right, well, we'll see. That would be obviously a huge development.

Thanks very much to Drew Griffin and of course to that emotional reporting which will be a part of that.

Next, new regulation could change the way Americans vote forever.


BURNETT: Do Americans care about politics? It sure seems like the answer is yes.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is the most important election of our lifetime.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is the most important election of our lifetime.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The most important of our life time.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is the most important election of our lifetime.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is extremely important that we get out and vote.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The right to vote is at the very foundation of our democracy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Your vote really matters.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Nobody should have to beg you to vote.


BURNETT: Americans sure love to talk about voting but they don't take action. In last year's presidential election, only 50 percent actually voted, and that was high. In this week, German elections voted to the amount of 70 percent, that is a low turnout for Germany.

Some countries do better, Australia, Belgium and Luxembourg all had 90 percent voter turnout. Why? Compulsory voting.

In those countries, if you don't vote, you break the law.

Now, in Australia, if you don't stop, you get a $20 fine. And you, what? The Aussies are cowed by that. Apparently, this small is enough to get them to the polls to do their civic duty.

But would it work in the U.S.? So, we look at every country with mandatory voting, and a lot of them, granted are not democracies, only a few had terrible turnouts. Those were Egypt, Mexico and Greece. And, obviously, in Egypt, your vote doesn't count, and in Greece, they don't give a hoot about authority.

So, is time for compulsory voting in America? Is this the regulation you can get behind? I mean, will the United States be like Australia or Greece?

Come on, America, you can do better than people who had their pools. Let us know on Twitter @ErinBurnett or @OutFrontCNN.

Anderson starts now.