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"Nuclear Option" Hypocrisy In Washington; 14-Year-old Indicted In High School Murder Case; Racism Allegations At San Jose State; FCC May Allow Cell Phone Calls On Planes; Interview with RNC Chairman Reince Priebus; Interview with Blackwater's Erik Prince

Aired November 21, 2013 - 19:00   ET


ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: And good evening, everyone.

OUTFRONT next: Dropping the bomb. Senate Democrats blow up a 40- year-old law. But is it hypocrisy everywhere?

Plus, a hate crime at an American college. Three white students tonight accused of treating their black roommate like a slave. We have that story.

And the founder of Blackwater's shocking Benghazi claim. It is shocking and it is OUTFRONT.

Let's go OUTFRONT.


BURNETT: Good evening, everyone. I'm Erin Burnett.

OUTFRONT tonight: Dropping the bomb. You can put whatever word you want before "bomb" but this was a bomb. It was an historic day in Washington. Senate Democrats hit the red button, the nuclear button here. Just like that, they changed an almost 40-year-old Senate rule. The Republicans went on the war path and Dana Bash begins our coverage OUTFRONT from Capitol Hill.


DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's a historic change Democrats say will help fix a broken system.

SENATOR HARRY REID, MAJORITY LEADER: It is time to change the senate before this institution becomes obsolete.

BASH: And Republicans argue will make Washington gridlock worse.

SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: Puts a chill on the entire United States Senate.

BASH: Senate Democrats voted to lower the threshold to break a filibuster from 60 votes to 51 votes. It strips the minority's party ability to block a president's nominees. It is called the nuclear option for good reason. A few years ago even Democratic Leader Harry Reid said he would not do it, saying it would be --

REID: A black chapter in the history of the Senate.

BASH: So what about now?

(on camera): So why isn't this a black chapter in the Senate.

REID: Things have changed dramatically since 2005, dramatically. For the flat, the last four and a half years, they have done everything they can to deny the fact that Obama was elected and then re-elected.

BASH (voice-over): Translation, GOP obstruction is unprecedented. To back that up, Democrats point to statistics from the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service. In the history of the country there have been 168 filibusters of presidential nominees. About half, 82, happened during the Obama administration.

SENATOR LAMAR ALEXANDER (R), TENNESSEE: In summary, this is a power grab.

BASH: Angry Republicans don't necessarily dispute Democrats' statistics about nominees they have blocked instead they point to how many judges they have confirmed, 215 and rejected five. The president who opposed to their tag particular as a senator changed his tune.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: The vote today I think is an indication that a majority of senators believe as I believe that enough is enough.

BASH: When it comes to the fight that Democrats call the last straw over vacancies in the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, the Republican leader argues, Democrats are manufacturing a crisis to distract from the Obamacare debacle.

SENATOR MITCH MCCONNELL (R), MINORITY LEADER: A fake fight over judges that are not even need.


BASH: Democrats say that they get that this landmark change that they pushed through in the rules of the Senate benefits them now that they're in the majority, but could really hurt them the day that they become the minority party in the Senate. But they say it is a risk that they really have to take in order to change what they call continued obstructionism -- Erin.

BURNETT: All right, Dana, thank you very much. And an important point there that Dana makes. OUTFRONT now, former Clinton adviser, Paul Begala and radio talk show host, Michael Medved, I'm really forward to this conversation. Let me start with what Dana just said. Why would you do this because at the very least it comes back to bite you in the proverbial tail when the other party comes back into power.

PAUL BEGALA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It is a great point. Why are they doing it? People generally don't act again their own self-interests and senators know, they know, and I was on the Hill today. I met with Senator Reid. They know the Republicans one day will take office again.

Here is the thing. It has been so abused, the filibuster. It can be a very good thing. It compels bipartisanship. It does enhance the rights of minorities in the Senate. But it's been so abuse, they just can't take it anymore and they're willing, they know they are handing a weapon to the majority even when the other side is the majority.

But that's how it's gotten. The statistic Dana cited, it is unbelievable. It is true that in 2005, you saw him. Harry Reid and Barack Obama, by the way, you can find that tape of Senator Obama saying --

BURNETT: I'm going to play it in a second.

BEGALA: That's what has changed. They've taken a tool that I think in our history has at times been very useful, at times very abused. They've abused it in an everyday fashion so we can't even run the government and that's one of the reasons Congress' approval rating is 9 percent so you have to break the gridlock. I think they did the right thing.

BURNETT: And Michael, what do you make about that point? Paul is being very rational here because he is pointing out, if half of the filibusters in American history have happened during the Obama administration. That is pretty awful. That would seem to justify a nuclear option like this.

MICHAEL MEDVED, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: OK, but it is a distorted statistic and actually if you take a look at Politifact, they will point out there were ten different Bush administration appellate court judges who were filibustered by Democrats and as a matter of fact, they had a longer time waiting on average to get an up and down vote for Bush judges than Obama has.

The 2.6 percent, that is the number of the total appointments of 1,584 appointments by the Obama administration that were up for Senate confirmation, 97.4 percent have been approved. They are taking office today. There are only four who were voted down. There are 38 that withdrew because they were opposed. This is not obstructionist. This is a divide government right now.

And this is terribly destructive. What strikes me is why it was that Senator McCain couldn't get any Democratic support for his attempt to get another gang of 14, to come to a reasonable agreement. To say OK, we'll let a few of these nominations that are contested come up for votes, but let's preserve the rules of the Senate. The fact that that didn't happen this time, that to me is a tragedy and a failure for both parties.

BURNETT: Which may be absolutely true, although I have to say all of this group of, fill in the blanks, right, when it comes to the budget or it comes to anything else, I mean, you can forgive people for being skeptical since everyone of them has failed. That doesn't mean should you keep trying. Paul, what about this point that both of you have acknowledged. Democrats felt very different when they were in the minority. You mentioned President Obama being one of the people who spoke out. Let me play him along with others.


REID: Some in this chamber want to throw out 214 years of Senate history in the quest for absolute power.

SENATOR BARACK OBAMA (D), ILLINOIS: If they choose to change the rules and put an end to Democratic debate, then fighting and the bitterness and the gridlock will only get worse.

SENATOR HILLARY CLINTON (D), NEW YORK: If you can't get 60 votes for a nominee, maybe you should think about who you're sending to us to be confirmed.

SENATOR JOE BIDEN (D), DELAWARE: This nuclear option is ultimately an example of the arrogance of power and I pray God when the Democrats take back control, we don't make the kind of naked power grab you are doing.


BURNETT: I love Joe Biden because somehow he always says it like it is, Paul. That right there, it does make today look like the ultimate hypocrisy.

BEGALA: Well, if today was the first day of Barack Obama's term. These folks, I've talk to Senator Reid about this. They did not want to do this. Harry Reid, he worked his way through law school as a cop in the capitol building. He spent 30 years of his life in that institution. He reveres that institution. He used to say this all the time when people would say to reform the filibuster.

He would say we have to change the culture. Well, the culture has changed for the worse, not the better. A lot of these Republican senators would probably like to vote for the qualified nominees. They can't do it because they're so cowed by the Tea Party you can hear them moo. So there was no choice here.

BURNETT: So you think this justifies the hypocrisy for real?

BEGALA: It is not hip hypocrisy.

MEDVED: Paul, I think you are a reasonable guy. Could you name for me who are the major appointments that were blocked for purely political reasons because they haven't been there. Sonja Sotomayor confirmed with Republican support. Elaina Kagan to the Supreme Court of the United States confirmed with Republican support. And again, the record is very clear. There have been only 42 of more than 1,500 overall appointees that failed to get confirmed by the Senate.

This is a red herring and I do believe what Senator McConnell said today is absolutely correct. This is an attempt to change the subject from the disastrous roll out of Obamacare. What has plunged Democratic approval ratings to new lows. It won't help gridlock. It will make grid lock that much worse and I think it is a dark day for the Senate.

BEGALA: First off, Mel Watt is a highly qualified ten-year member of the House Committee on --

MEDVED: I would agree.

BEGALA: They're blocking him for political reasons. One of the things that I think pushed this over the edge is that Mitch McConnell has publicly said if and when the Republicans take control of the Senate, they will repeal the filibuster. Senator McConnell has said that and I think Democrats take him at his word.

BURNETT: I like how it comes back to bite you in the proverbial tail. They'll pay the price on both sides for this one. Thanks very much to both of you.

Still to come, the Republicans plan to kill Obamacare revealed. We have a copy of the 18-page play book. It is very fancy, all kinds of color, and all sorts of allegations. We'll tell what is inside the chair of the Republican National Committee will respond.

Plus, breaking news in the case of a 24-year-old teacher found murdered behind her school. You remember this horrific case, one of her students, a 14-year-old indicted. We have breaking news on that tonight.

And an entirely new island formed off the coast of Japan, amazing images that we will show you OUTFRONT.


BURNETT: Our second story OUTFRONT, breaking news in the case of the teen accused of killing his teacher with a box cutter. A Massachusetts grand jury has just indicted 14-year-old Phillip Chism of murder, aggravated rape and armed robbery. Chism accused of killing his 24-year-old math teacher, Colleen Ritzer and then dumping her body behind the school.

Don Lemon was up in Massachusetts where this happened covering it and he is OUTFRONT tonight with the latest. This story captured the country's attention just because of the bizarre, horrific nature of it. Remind us what happened and what we're learning tonight.

DON LEMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It gets more horrific if that can even happen. What we're learning, I'll tell you what happened. On October 22nd, he was in school, according to people who were there. He wasn't paying attention in class. And so Miss Ritzer kept him after school to make sure to try to help him, and then apparently she had to go to the bathroom. The faculty bathroom was locked. She goes into the second floor student bathroom. He follows her in and that's when prosecutors say he killed her.

That's when they believe he killed her. But they're saying tonight that he raped her and they're charging her with aggravated rape. That is a new development in this case. They're saying it is aggravated because they believe that she suffered really almost mortal bodily, serious injuries during that rape or they charged with that that happens in the commission of another crime, which is in the process of being murdered.

So this is a felony charge as well. He is being charged as a juvenile with that charge. They're trying to -- prosecutors are trying to charge him as an adult. Also charged with robbery, they had the box cutter. They believe he stole her iPhone, her credit cards and her underwear and then he change clothes and then he went about town as you and I reporting to the movies then he went to eat as if nothing happened.

BURNETT: It is so gruesome and horrific to imagine. What is her family saying tonight?

LEMON: I remember going, you know when you have to go knock on someone's door because you have to, right? I wanted to find out what services and how they were feeling and I wanted to respect them. I knocked on the door. They were a very nice family and them we appreciate you coming over. We're going on release some information soon and they said but aware holding up.

That's the only time I've heard them speak. They released a statement saying we are devastated and heart broken by the details of the horrific circumstances surrounding the death of our beautiful daughter and sister, Colleen. As a family we continue to mourn her passing and ask that the media almost our privacy during this very difficult time. And that's the statement, but can you imagine having to deal with --

BURNETT: It is incredible how gracious they've been. You can't imagine what that would ever be like.

LEMON: So it gets more horrific as we say. Now there's rape involved and there is also robbery as well.

BURNETT: All right, well, thank you very much, Don. We appreciate it.

Our third story OUTFRONT is racism at San Jose State University. Three white students charged with a hate crime after horrific allegations from their African-American roommate. Here's what prosecutors are saying happened. They are saying the three defendants tried to put a bike lock around the neck of the 17-year-old freshman and then told him they lost the keys.

They taunted almost by calling him 3/5s. Students know that's a way the American government used to count black people and they decorated the college dorm sweep they shared with the confederate flag, Nazi symbols and other racial epithets.

OUTFRONT tonight, Santa Clara District Attorney Jeff Rosen. Mr. Rosen, this is a -- this is a bizarre story. I can't believe we're actually talking about this happening in 2013 in the United States of America. This sounds like this is something that would have happened in the 1960s during the civil rights struggles or perhaps even a century before. What else can you tell us happened?

JEFF ROSEN, SANTA CLARA COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY: First of all, I agree with you. I can't believe that in the year 2013, we're talking about an African-American student being treated this way who had his residence, the dorm room after all was his residence, turned into this horrible atmosphere of hate where he was subjected to these horrible slurs and then physically assaulted as a result of them.

So we're taking this case very seriously in the District Attorney's Office. We've charged the three young men involved with battery as well as a hate crime allegation to represent that a substantial factor in their actions was motivated by the fact that this young man was African-American.

BURNETT: How long did this go on before anyone found out about it? And was it, you're talking about three students here that are being charged. What about anyone else? Did anyone else know, anyone in any position of authority that could have done something?

ROSEN: Sadly, this went on first of all for several weeks. For actually two to three months. There were other people that knew about this. There were eight men, eight young men that were living in this four-bedroom dormitory suite that shared a common area so three of these men will be charged with crimes. The other four were aware of this and were not upstanders. Did not stand up and do what's right here. And that allowed this conduct to continue.

In fact, the victim's parents, when they came to visit him once in early October, they saw the confederate flag themselves saw the n- word scrawled on a dry erase board and they will the young man in the dorm room, this is not acceptable. You need to stop doing this. And instead of doing that, the young men wrote a threatening note to the victim in the case saying you know, you've been invited to join our group and if you don't do it, bad things are going to happen to you.

BURNETT: So there is one report that at least one of the defendants, one of the people you've charged downplayed it and said it was just jokes and pranks. Thing that might sound horrible to other people but if you're on the inside, it is somehow going to be acceptable. Is it in any way possible from what you understand that that could have been the case when you look at the young man who was targeted here?

ROSEN: Absolutely not. The young man who was targeted here and who on a number of occasions was barricaded in his room on one occasion, the three men wrestled him to the ground and put a bike lock around his neck, and on another occasion tried to do it again. And the young man was able to fight them off. The young man, the victim in this case was terrorized.

It was difficult for him to study. He locked his door at night because he was afraid they would come in and hurt him. He tried to spend as little time as possible in the dorm room. He told them not to do this to them. He told them not to call him this offensive nickname, the three fifths so instead they started calling him fraction. BURNETT: On that note, thank you very much. Appreciate you are taking the time. We look forward to feedback from all of you on that story, from three fifths to fraction.

Still to come, a dangerous takeoff caught on tape. A giant cargo plane forced to use runway that's half a mile too short.

Plus a surprising announcement from the FCC, the one I've been waiting for it feels like my whole life. What passengers could soon do during a flight?


BURNETT: Our fourth story OUTFRONT is money and power. The FCC considering doing something absolutely incredible, letting passengers use their cell phones on planes. Now this is either hell to you or heaven. You can make calls and send texts when your plane is above 10,000 feet. Richard Quest is that host --

RICHARD QUEST, HOST, CNNI'S "QUEST MEANS BUSINESS": You have to forgive me. I said that there would only be three of them. Look, I'm on the plane!

BURNETT: This is why some people will say it's hell.

QUEST: But it's coming. The FCC --

BURNETT: They say it is safe.

QUEST: We know it's safe. Of that there's no doubt.

BURNETT: There are people who say it will interfere with the plane and make it crash.

QUEST: No, no, no. There is an antenna in the roof of the aircraft, several of them and that stops the cell signal from become too powerful. Your cell phone latches on to that and it is perfectly safe. It was done in Europe for a while. They've got clients all over the place who are doing it. This is not a technology issue. This is a sociological issue.

BURNETT: Which brings me to the point because on Emirates, an example here. You sometimes hear people on the phone talking about completely irrelevant silly things and there is nowhere to go. You have to listen to the whole conversation and it's awful. But I want cell phones on the plane. How do I prevent that?

QUEST: There is a difference between connectivity and telephoning. What you want is the former and what there maybe is the latter. People who are really against this are the flight attendants. They're ones who have to argue, to be referees with passengers who say they're too much noise.

BURNETT: Passengers will get in fights about this. No question about it.

QUEST: Tonight's OUTFRONT vote, @richardquest, yes or no to cell phones on planes.

BURNETT: I'm wondering how this will go. I'm dying for this.

QUEST: You're a hypocrite.

BURNETT: I am a hypocrite because I do relish the fact nobody can reach me. You can all go to hell, all right.

QUEST: So I said to her, there is no way I'm going to do this. It is clearly going to be -- I'm on the phone. Can't you see?

BURNETT: That's it. Goodbye to Richard. Anyway, go to @richardquest, please and vote. Let us know yes or no to cell phones on planes.

Still to come, a risky takeoff, a giant cargo plane 747 lands on a runway. I don't know how it did that with no clue the runway was half a mile too short and then it couldn't take off. We are going to show you the video.

Plus, a sneak peek at the Republicans' play book. I've got the GOP's 18-page guide that explains how they'll kill Obamacare. We are going to put their feet to the fire.

And Vice President Joe Biden, red faced at a sandwich shop today. The second most powerful man in the United States did not bring enough money to pay the check.


BURNETT: Welcome back to the second half of OUTFRONT.

Elaborate precautions taken at a Wichita, Kansas airport today. This is all because of a huge cargo plane which landed at the wrong airport. And the pilot, this is what really amazes me about this. The cargo Boeing 747, people, going to a major American military base, the pilot did not even know he landed in the wrong place.


CONTROLLER: Giant 4241 heavy, confirm you know which airport you are at?

PILOT: Well, we think we have a pretty good pulse.

CONTROLLER: Giant 4241 heavy, roger, you -- it appears you are at Jabara.

PILOT: Say again?

CONTROLLER: Giant 4241 heavy, we saw the plane on the radar and it appears you are at Jabara airport.

PILOT: Say the name of it again?



BURNETT: That pilot was lucky. It seems that 747 didn't have a whole lot of weight in it. Because he handled on a runway that was half a mile too short accommodate a 747. No joke. The plane then had to take off to get the nearby airport that he thought he was landing at in the first place.

Because of this runway problem, the takeoff attempt was risky, roads were closed. People were told to stay away. The plane did take off and it landed without incident where I was should have been in the first place. But authorities are investigating just how this could have happened and how those pilots obviously, apparently, did not know where they landed.

Well, Democrats go from nuclear bomb to gut bomb. After a morning at the White House, Vice President Joe Biden treated some colleagues to Capriotti's, which is a Delaware- based sub chain or a hoagie chain, as they call them there, that opened up shop in downtown Washington today.

Here's the thing: it seems that Joe Biden, the second most powerful man in the country, didn't have the money.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Fifty-six twenty-five.

JOSEPH BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: All right, man. Randy, you got $10? I got $50.

No, no. I'm not taking that.


BIDEN: I've been going to Capriotti's in Union Street for the last 40 years. I have paid every time I've gone. No time to change it. In Delaware, you pay.


BURNETT: Well, it also seems Delawareans like getting a head start on Thanksgiving. Calories and all, the vice president's favorite sub is apparently called the Bobby, turkey, cranberry sauce and stuffing, which according to, I guess you know where they're coming from, packs 992 calories. That's all right. It is Thanksgiving.

Anyway, our fifth story OUTFRONT: the Republican attack plan revealed. So, there is an 18-page guide to killing Obamacare, talking points, messaging tip and fact sheets, mapping out the GOP strategy. I've got it. It's very fancy. All kinds of colors, very well put together.

Brianna Keilar got a copy of the playbook and she's OUTFRONT.


BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice- over): A how-to guide for turning the troubled health care website into a political weapon. CNN obtained House Republicans playbook for their party's detailed plan of attack.

Glossy ads and suggested talking points with one focus: what Republicans see as Democrats' chief vulnerability.

REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: You know the president promised the American people that if you like your health care plan, you can keep it. But for Richard in Springfield, Ohio, a town in my district, that's not true.

KEILAR: The playbook advises Republicans to tell their constituents fewer people will get covered, premiums are increasing, millions of Americans will lose the plan they have and like. Members are already doing just that.

BOEHNER: Every day, we hear heart-wrenching stories from Americans who are getting letters about their health care plans being canceled.

REP. ERIC CANTOR (R-VA), MAJORITY LEADER: Young adults are now witnessing the increase in health care costs.

REP. MARSHA BLACKBURN (R), TENNESSEE: It is taking away our health care plans.

KEILAR: If frustrating Democrats and President Obama is their aim, Republicans are succeeding.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: One of the problems we've had is one side of Capitol Hill is invested in failure.

KEILAR (on camera): The real measure for President Obama is his administration's own goal, that the Web site should be operating smoothly for the vast majority of Americans by the end of the month. Something White House spokesman Josh Earnest says they are still on track to accomplish -- Erin.


BURNETT: Reince Priebus is the chairman of the Republican National Committee, joining me now.

Good to have you with us, Chairman.

Here's the playbook. I'm holding it up. You just heard some of your party's talking points. One of them was that fewer people are getting covered.

And when I was through talking points, the playbook, it says, that the administration promised as many as 30 million people would get insurance through Obamacare and now, they're only promising 7 million people actually getting the coverage.

So I talked to Jason Fermin, the chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, today and I asked him about that specific talking point. And he said, look, that 30 million target is over time. The 7 million is by the end of next year. These numbers are apples and oranges.

That talking point doesn't add up. What do you say, Chairman?

REINCE PRIEBUS, CHAIRMAN, REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE: Well, look. They're doing what I think as political strategists have to do. They have to start lowering expectations and very quickly.

We know what they're doing. But it is not going on change the narrative, Erin. The president made very specific promises as to access, as to doctors, as to affordability. And none of that is coming true.

Now, I know it's early. But the diagnosis doesn't look good in the future either. And so, you know, we're talking about this every day, and as far as I'm concerned, if it's Obamacare, they're losing and we're winning.

BURNETT: But that's an interesting narrative there, sort of the winning and losing. The White House did formally respond today to this playbook. Spokesman Eric Schultz weighed, issuing a statements that reads, "For the past five years, Republicans have been obsessed with sabotaging Obamacare, they tried to block it, they tried repeal it, overturn it, they shut down the government over it. Their 18-page playbook, a partisan attacks is 18 pages longer than their health care plan."

And the president has said this about his health care plan.


OBAMA: I've said many times, I am willing to work with anyone on any idea to make this the law perform even better.


BURNETT: This is the question, isn't it? You talk about your winning and their losing, isn't the whole point that you would want to fix this bill? Maybe it's not good. But make it better, instead of killing it?

PRIEBUS: Well, that's what Upton and Ron Johnson and all the rest of the Republicans tried to do the other day, Erin. And they're not going to take it up in the Senate. And yes, you're right. We've been obsessed with Obamacare because it stinks, because people don't want it.

And so, why wouldn't we be obsessed over killing off something that the American people don't like, that's costing them more money. They're losing their insurance. Of course, I think we should be proud to be obsessed to get rid of Obamacare. As far as the president listening to all of these ideas -- Erin, come on. He didn't listen to our ideas on Christmas Eve about junk lawsuits and pooling resources and open pricing that would drive down prices and allow more access.

He didn't listen to anything. They drove through Obamacare. They did it without us. And now, we're seeing what a mess it is.

So, yes, we're obsessed because it's horrible.

BURNETT: All right. You're obsessed. But again I ask the question on this, is that Schultz had a point, right? Your 18 pages of attacks on Obamacare is 18 pages longer than the GOP health care plan. Where is the alternative?

PRIEBUS: Listen. I think it should be 1,800 pages. Eighteen is too little for how bad this thing is.

And we've -- but come on. We've had hundreds of bills and proposals. But there are many simple things that we've proposed.

And I just outlined them so I won't take up your time on the air with this, but clearly we've never tried open pricing in this country. We've never seen what would happen if we had open pricing. We've never allowed individuals and small businesses to pool their resources together to have more accessibility, lower prices.

And we've talked about junk lawsuits for how many years in this country. And we have proposed it and proposed it.

BURNETT: Tort reform, yes.

PRIEBUS: No one on the Democratic side took it up.

Yes, I mean, so come on. These are things that we've been proposing for years but they don't want to work with us. So guess what? We're going to put -- we're going to tattoo Obamacare their foreheads and we'll beat them with it next year. And we're going to do it.

BURNETT: One person that is supposedly on your side on this, is New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. Yet, I say supposedly on your side because he is certainly, at this point, he is perceived as the front-runner for the 2016 Republican nomination, everyone talking about.

Here's what he said today.


GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: 2016 is a long way away. And I'm two weeks out of a campaign. I'm not, you know, looking to start speculating about other campaigns already. We've got 2014 to deal with. That's what we're going to deal with.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BURNETT: So, that's how he talks. But, of course, his new job as the chairman of Republican Governors Association, as you know chairman, is going to be traveling the primary campaign trail and he's going to get to do it the next year right, putting him in the cat bird seat.

But I asked another Republican 2016 hopeful Senator Rand Paul about Christie this week on the show. He told me Christie is, quote, "not fiscally conservative due to his decision to accept the expansion of Medicaid in his state to accept that under Obamacare."

Is Senator Paul right? Is Chris Christie going to be shunned by people like you because he has he embraced Obamacare?

PRIEBUS: Listen, Erin, you're very good. And I know you want to get me in the middle of this. I'm not going to. You know, I'm the chairman of the party. I'm for all of them.

I'm for Rand and I'm for Governor Christie. And all these governors have to make different decisions based on their own states. But that's the point.

I mean, federalism is an important constitutional principle. And when you allow the Tenth Amendment to work, each state can make their own decisions.

So, clearly, I think we've got a lot of good conservative Republicans running. I think we're going to have a great bench and I think that's a big difference between us and the Democratic Party. They've got one person which is, you know, somebody that has been around for a long time. And I think we need somebody fresh and new running this country.

BURNETT: All right. Thanks very much to Reince Priebus.

And, taxpayers, take notice. You're about to sell the rest of your stake in General Motors. Currently, you own a lot of GM. You may not be aware of it. But taxpayers bailed GM out in 2009. By the end of this year, though, the Treasury will sell its final 31 million shares of the automaker.

Good news, right? Hmm.

OK, that brings me to tonight's number: $10 billion. That's how much money we the taxpayers are slated to lose on the General Motors bailout.

For a while someone held out hope that this would end better. Here's former Obama advisor David Axelrod OUTFRONT on this show in March of 2012.


DAVID AXELROD, 2012 OBAMA CAMPAIGN SENIOR STRATEGIST: I think we will recover the money that the Obama administration invested in the auto industry and I think it was well worth it. (END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: Unfortunately, some may think that is not true. To date, the government is down about 22 percent on its auto industry investments during the bailout. So, you may ask, how does General Motors taxpayer tab compare to other bailouts? All right. So we lost money on GM, lost money on autos. But when it comes to the banks, the government has made roughly $28 billion. That is a gain of 11 percent for taxpayers.

Still to come, a brand new island created off the coast of Japan. We're going to show you the amazing images next.

Plus, the shocking claim by Erik Prince. The founder of Blackwater claims that ambassador Chris Stevens would have lived if Blackwater had been in Benghazi.


BURNETT: And we're back with our "Outer Circle".

And tonight, to Japan we go, where a volcano eruption has created a totally new island. I asked Pauline Chiou about this new patch of territory.


PAULINE CHIOU, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Erin, a volcanic eruption has given birth to a new island off the coast Japan. The Japanese coast guard reported seeing thick black smoke and rocks spewing from the volcano. The new island is about 200 meters in diameter. It is the newest in a chain of islands running along the seismically active ring of fire.

But there is no guarantee it will stay there. In the past, islands formed like this have been known to disappear as soon as they saw daylight. The new land is about 1,000 kilometers south of Tokyo -- Erin.


BURNETT: Thanks very much to you, Pauline.

And I want to check in with Anderson with a look at what's coming up on "AC360". Hey, Anderson.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Hey, that's cool. A new island.


COOPER: All right. Tonight, an exclusive ahead on the program. Was it accident or murder? With 36 surveillance cameras around a high school in Georgia where their son was found dead inside a rolled up gym mat, the parents of Kendrick Johnson have been trying to get that question answered. They believe it was murder. The question is, does the surveillance tape provide answers? In our two-part investigation tonight, with asked an ex-FBI instructor to go over the hours and hours of tape with CNN's Victor Blackwell. He will tell you what he found.

Also ahead tonight, the story behind these images. Jackie Kennedy in the pink suit with the that I will box hat. You know what happened on November 22nd, 1963, of course. What you may not know is what happened to that famous outfit, where it is and why it is locked away and will be for a long time to come.

Those stories and tonight's "Ridiculist" and a whole lot more at the top of the hour -- Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Anderson, we're looking forward to seeing that in just a few moments.

And now, our sixth story OUTFRONT: America's longest war not ending. American forces were scheduled to leave Afghanistan by the end of the year. But a new deal with the Afghan government could keep American fighters in that country for another decade or even longer.

And the people fighting that war, right now, according to the Congressional Research Service, and I looked that up yesterday, 20 percent of those in combat are private contractors. It's a new era in American warfare and the man who started it is Erik Prince, the founder of Blackwater, a name now synonymous with controversy in the war on terror.

Prince has just released his own account of what happened in Blackwater, "Civilian Warriors: The Inside Story of Blackwater and the Unsung of the War on Terror".

I talk to him about al Qaeda, Benghazi and the business of war.


BURNETT: If Blackwater was still operating like it was when you founded it, right, if things hadn't happened the way they happened --


BURNETT: -- working with the CIA, with the DOD, would things be different for America overseas?

PRINCE: Well, I'm pretty confident that if we'd been working in Benghazi, the U.S. ambassador would still be alive. You know, doing almost 100,000 missions between Iraq and Afghanistan, no one under our care ever killed or injured. I think we could have kept him alive as well.

BURNETT: How come? I mean, that was known as a CEO outpost, right? I mean, there were supposedly guys who are very well-trained.

PRINCE: Well, the ambassador was killed at a consulate, at a State Department facility. And, you know, there is more and more evidence coming out today that the security officers they had didn't fight, I guess, as they are trained or supposed to. The locals turned and fled. And DS agents that were, were quickly overwhelmed.

BURNETT: Right. I mean, they were few former SEALs, contractors who tried to rush in and try to do everything they could.

PRINCE: Yes. I mean, thank goodness, just to give color on that, the former SEAL contractors that there for the agency at the annex violated their superior's instructions and went to the consulate and thank goodness they did that, because they ended up --

BURNETT: Ty Woods and Glen Doherty, they lost their lives.

PRINCE: Exactly. The lost -- if they've been in active duty, I think they would have been awarded with the Medal of Honor. They performed so far and above and beyond a call of duty. They are brave men and they saved a lot of Americans that day.

BURNETT: There are reports, constantly, you've heard them, I've heard them, about the weakening and splintering of al Qaeda. The president obviously has repeatedly in some form or another said something like al Qaeda is on the run. Right? He said it before Benghazi and he said after.

Do you believe that?

PRINCE: It's changed. It's morphed. I would say it's more like metastasized. It's certainly into smaller cells. They don't have the, I guess, a central headquarters located in Pakistan like they used or in Afghanistan after 9/11, but certainly, there is anywhere where groups of five, eight, ten can get together. They can plan and conduct terror operations.

So, it's -- it's not something really for large standing armies to go after. This really becomes more intelligence and small special operations war.

BURNETT: Some people, they look at you and say, all right, this guy's career has been about fighting. It's been about training. But it's about doing them for money, which makes some feel uncomfortable when they talk about the security of the United States, the patriotism of that.

So, let me just put it directly, are you fighting for the United States or are you a mercenary that fights for the highest bidder.

PRINCE: Well, you know, there's an interesting exchange that went on between General Westmoreland and Milton Friedman in the early '70s, at the time the U.S. was going to an all volunteer force. And Westmoreland was complaining how he didn't want to lead an Army of mercenaries. That's how he described the U.S. Army because they were going to be volunteers and paid instead of being drafted. \ And Milton Friedman's response was, well, sir, if you're leading an Army of mercenaries and I'm served by a mercenary lawyer, and a mercenary butcher and a mercenary barber. And that was the last the general talked of mercenaries. So, you know, an American working for America certainly by even the Oxford definition doesn't mean mercenary. You know, we pay people, and if they're not paid, it's not a voluntary program, well, it's coercion and you're a slave.

And if people want to trash the idea of a mercenary, they need to start bulldozing some monuments in Washington. Across the street from White House is the Lafayette Park. Lafayette, von Steuben, Rochambeau, (INAUDIBLE). I think there's (INAUDIBLE) bridge in New York.

These are professional military officers, contractors, mercenaries, if you will, that came and built the Continental Army and fought side by side with American patriots in the war of independence.

BURNETT: So, what does the word patriot mean to you now?

PRINCE: Someone who answers the call of their country when they're needed.

BURNETT: Speaking of that, is Edward Snowden a patriot?

PRINCE: I don't know if I'd call him a patriot. I think it was a public service, at least, to raise the issue of what I believe is real government overreach and real lack of oversight by the intelligence committees to really pay attention as to how far and how easily the government collects all this information on individual Americans.

And, again, you have to be careful of not trading liberty for the illusion of security.

BURNETT: So, when we hear, as we hear, as you know from so many people that he had cost American lives now and he will in the future, that he is jeopardizing programs that keep America safe, whether what the NSA is doing or who it's listening to. Do you believe in that or is that again, just hyperbole?

PRINCE: I have pretty healthy does of skepticism when it comes to those claims.


BURNETT: We'll have much more of that interview coming up.

But, of course, let us know what you think about Erik Prince's point of view, especially about what he said about Benghazi.

OUTFRONT next, from prison bars to tech stars, a new wave of tech startups is emerging from, the prison?


BURNETT: From prison bars to tech stars, men serving sentences for offenses ranging from carjacking to murder are launching successful tech startups and they're doing it from one of the toughest prison in the United States.

CNN's Laurie Segall is OUTFRONT with tonight's "I.D.E.A."


LAURIE SEGALL, CNNMONEY TECH CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is San Quentin State Prison. Behind bars: murderers, thieves. And here's one that might surprise -- aspiring entrepreneurs.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My name is Jorge Heredia (ph), and I am the founder and CEO of Funky Union.

SEGALL: Welcome to the Last Mile.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So, same question.

SEGALL: That's Chris, a long with his wife Bev, he had the idea to start a program to do what many tech entrepreneurs do, solve a problem.

BEVERLY PARENTI, CO-FOUNDER, THE LAST MILE: In California, we spend more for prison than for higher education.

SEGALL: More than 60 percent of California prisoners released end up back behind bars within three years, one reason, they can't just find work.

So, like many others in the Bay Area, these inmates are becoming tech entrepreneurs.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm insanely passionate about technology.

SEGALL: They study social media, technology and entrepreneurship.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What he's talking about in his book --

SEGALL: Behind bars, they are learning to build modern day businesses, like (INAUDIBLE) tech incubator and they pitch their product.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can subscribe to our premium service.

SEGALL: Not just to Chris and Bev but venture capitalists.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think Silicon Valley is the ideal place because this is the place where people succeed or fail and start all over again.

FLOYD HALL, INMATE, SAN QUENTIN: If I can conquer eight years of incarceration, I think that I can definitely become an entrepreneur.

SEGALL: There's roof. That's Kenyatta Leal.

KENYATTA LEAL, FORMER INMATE, SAN QUENTIN: I was sentenced 25 to life back in 1994. Motorola just came up with the flip flown. SEGALL: His involvement in The Last Mile landed him a job at Rocket Space, a co-working office for tech start ups. We sat down with Kenyatta and two former inmates. All of them have coveted jobs in technology.

(on camera): Can prisoners make good entrepreneurs?

JAMES HOUSTON, FORMER INMATE, SAN QUENTIN: None of us started getting in trouble because we weren't conforming, we thought outside the box.

SEGALL (voice-over): Prison may be an unlikely place for startups to emerge, but behind bars, the same rules apply.

JAMES CAVITT, FORMER SAN QUENTIN INMATE, ENTREPRNEUR: To go and want to be an entrepreneur, you have to be resilient. That's one thing prison does teach you is how to be resilient, and to try to win against all odds.

SEGALL: For OUTFRONT, Laurie Segall, San Quentin.


BURNETT: Thanks so much to all of you for watching. Have a great night. See you tomorrow.

"AC360" starts now.