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Ex-Defense Secretary Slams Obama; Deep Freeze Blamed For 16 Deaths; Passengers of JetBlue stranded for 17 hours; Daisy Coleman in Critical Condition; Creigh Deeds Focuses on Mental Health; Dems Win First Partisan Showdown of 2014; Alleged Rape Victim In Hospital After Suicide Attempt

Aired January 7, 2014 - 19:00   ET



DON LEMON, CNN GUEST ANCHOR: Good evening. I'm Don Lemon in for Erin Burnett. Tonight, the president, quote, "doesn't believe in his own strategy." That's one part of a scathing new critique of President Obama from a former member of his own cabinet. In a new memoire, former Defense Secretary Bob Gates slams the president's leadership and commitment to the war in Afghanistan. We're just getting the details tonight about what's in this bomb shell of a book.

Jim Sciutto in Washington with the excerpts and man, they are unbelievable saying everything that the president doesn't believe in his own strategy. That sometimes he did not give the administration, quote, "information about strategies" for military in war because he says the White House and the administration did not know what to do with it. Here's Jim Sciutto's report.


JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In his new book titled "Duty, Memories of A Secretary At War", the former defense secretary delivers an unfiltered sometimes scathing critique of the White House. On Afghanistan, "The New York Times" and "Washington Post" report Gates writes it by early 2010, he had concluded the president, quote, "doesn't believe in his own strategy and doesn't consider the war to be his. For him, it's all about getting out."

The papers report that Gates, who served under both Presidents Bush and Obama, grew concern about the president changing course and the president was, quote "skeptical if not outright convinced it would fail." Gates also says he, quote, "never doubted Obama's support for the troops, only his support for their mission."

The book is not set for release until January 14th, but late today both papers published detailed stories about its content. Gates is especially hard on Obama's advisers the papers report calling Vice President Joe Biden, quote, "a man of integrity," but arguing, quote, "he has been wrong on nearly every major foreign policy and national security issue over the past four decades." At times Gates is more flattering of Obama, praising him for making decisions, quote, "opposed by political advisers or that would be unpopular with fellow Democrats." That's something Gates hinted applied to the president's war-making decisions to CNN's John King in 2012.

BOB GATES, FORMER DEFENSE SECRETAR: I think the reality is that there's an acknowledgement on people's part around the world that this president is willing to use military force when our needs require it.

SCIUTTO: He called the president's decision to launch the raid that killed Osama Bin Laden despite Gate's own doubts, quote, "one of the most courageous decisions I had ever witnessed in the White House." On his former colleague, Hillary Clinton, Gates makes a potentially damaging charge to a 2016 potential run saying, quote, "Hillary told the president that the her opposition to the 2007 surge in Iraq had been political because she was facing Obama in the Iowa primary.


SCIUTTO: The White House is pushing back hard particularly at one of the charges in the book. This from a spokesperson for the National Security Council on the record saying that the president disagrees with Secretary Gates' assessment from his leadership to the efforts to end the war in Iraq.

Joe Biden has been one of the leading statesmen in his time and has helped advanced America's leadership in the world. President Obama relies on his good council every day. We have heard some pushback from inside the Pentagon.

A senior U.S. military official telling our own Barbara Starr reaction with dismay in the Pentagon saying that if Secretary Gates has been in uniform and he believed that his advisers were deficient, he would have had done the obligation to resign. You're getting pushback now from some of Gates own colleagues.

LEMON: Controversial is an understatement. Jim Sciutto, thank you very much for that. Joining me now is CNN chief political analyst, Gloria Borger and CNN political commentators, Paul Begala and David Frum. I have so many questions for all of you.

But David, I'll start with you. Bob Gates worked for every president since Nixon with the exception of President Clinton. He served under both Democrats and Republicans. He knows what he's doing. The question is, why?

DAVID FRUM, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Why does he share his views at the end of his career?

LEMON: Yes, why is he releasing this now?

FRUM: Well, people do tend to share their views. They are free to speak. They have messages that they want people to hear. I think his message on Afghanistan is especially important because remember the Afghanistan surge was the signature Barack Obama foreign policy of 2008. He campaigned on it.

The Bush administration was careful about overinvesting in Afghanistan and Candidate Obama slammed the Bush administration for that, promised deployment of troops to Afghanistan. Some wondered if that was a way looking strong on defense or did he really mean it. And now it looks like the answer is it was a cynical politics. He didn't really mean it.

LEMON: But wouldn't it have been more effective to do it at the time, better for the American people, better for the administration, better for him, better for everyone all around instead of at the end of his career. He said he sat there in meetings seething sometimes and it took everything not to get up from the table or not to give people in the room a piece of his mind.

FRUM: People argued for policy in administrations and lose then fights and then afterwards maybe this should be a universal rule that nobody does it. But people do it now. That's a convention that people come out and say here's what I thought at the time. Now I'm free to speak about the fights I won and the fights I lost.

LEMON: All right, Paul, you know, were you surprised to see this kind of criticism of a sitting president from a former member of his cabinet. He says he was talking about "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," and then other things that the president did. I thought that the agreements with the Obama White House were good for only as long as they were politically convenient. That's a pretty big statement.

PAUL BEGALA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It is. Bob Gates was a terrific career. I can't wait to read this book. I would really rather these types of books come after the president's term is over. I do think when you serve a president you do owe him or one day we hope the highest duty of loyalty, which is to speak your mind while you're there.

Not when you're gone and this guy did great service to our country. I don't want to run him down. I don't know him personally, but I'm a real admirer of his. I think in the reviews of the book, several people including "The New York Times" reviewer suggested that he's working through some emotional scars of his own.

He went through hell helping lead our country through very difficult wars. I'm very glad that the president expressed skepticism and doubt about his own war policy. That's what I want. I want my commander- in-chief to have a lot of skepticism and doubt about what's going on in a war instead of just blindly and pig headedly sending more soldiers into combat.

LEMON: Gloria, did I hear you nodding in agreement or see you nodding in agreement?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, I do agree with Paul. I think it's probably better, but probably not as marketable if you wait until after a president is out of office. But in reading what I've read of this book, and again, I obviously haven't read the whole thing, but I read excerpts of it and the pieces about it. The thing that strikes me is that Bob Gates was the secretary of defense who says that he didn't mind that policy was being driven by White House and this is known to be a very controlling White House. They said that's OK. The policy was driven by the White House. But what seemed to have really annoyed him time and time again was the suspicion of the military that he said ran rampant within the White House.

And so here's a man clearly defending his commanders, a great belief in the people who work for him at the Department of Defense and he believes that they were being treated badly and that they were greeted always with a kind of skepticism, which as Paul points out, is sometimes very healthy, but I think Gates is saying sort of went beyond the pale. So I think what you're seeing is somebody who has a lot of emotion about the way his people were treated.

LEMON: He talks about going up against -- exactly what you're talking about. One point they had disagreement, don't give the White House staff and national security staff too much information on the military options. They don't understand it. That's not good for national security, Gloria.

BORGER: Well, it may not be, but it was a reality. I recall during the whole run up to the surge that the president had these meetings and meetings and meetings, which Gates describes as very frustrating. And I think you saw this kind of conflict play out. There's always a conflict between the military and the political people. We understand that. But I think the basis of it is that he didn't feel that there was a kind of a mutual respect that are trying to make decisions in the best interest of the American public.

LEMON: Also talking about Hillary Clinton and the president saying, listen, I didn't like the surge in 2007 and doing this in front of Bob Gates because I was going to face you in a primary in Iowa, which was very interesting. Bob Gates saying I was shocked that they did that in front of me. More to talk about. Thank you, guys. We appreciate it. That's it for now.

Still to come, tens of millions of Americans enduring major delays on roads and runways tonight. Freezing temperatures reported in all 50 states.

Plus a story we have been following for months takes a tragic turn. A girl who says she was raped, bullied and forced out of her town attempts suicide. And a former Miss Venezuela gunned down in the middle of a street.


LEMON: Now to the deep freeze. Not a single state in the U.S. escaping this brutal cold. Below freezing temperatures reported in all 50 states shattering at least 45 cold weather records. The arctic chill is also being blamed on at least 16 deaths and with relief still a day away, tens of millions of Americans will have to endure even more delays on the roadways, runways and the rails. Ted Rowlands live in Chicago with more on the bone-chilling weather for us. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Stuck in the snow on a train after more than 14 hours Amtrak passengers, many who started their journey in California, finally arrived in Chicago. Not by train, but by bus.

JEANETTE FLOID, AMTRAK PASSENGER: I can't feel my butt because it's not there anymore. Just sitting for literally 26 hours is awful.

ROWLANDS: More than 500 people on three trains were stranded overnight because of blowing snow and ice. They were fed and kept warm, but --

DONNIE LATUCH, AMTRAK PASSENGER: Three hundred people on a train, everybody using the same facilities and stuff. So, yes, it gets a little gross.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The worst part was not really knowing when we were going to get here.

ROWLANDS: The same scenario continues to play out in airports according to More than three flights were canceled today, including a third of the flights here at Chicago's O'Hare.

Across the country, stranded passengers are sleeping on cots waiting to find out when they can finally get home. This guy spent two days stuck at New York's LaGuardia trying to get to Chicago.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My flight got canceled twice and I was not even informed.

ROWLANDS: On the road things were just as bad in many areas. In Illinois hundreds of people stranded in vehicles had to be rescued. Some freeways including a portion of interstate 65 in Indiana were completely closed for hours because of unsafe conditions.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The main roads are great. The back roads are still slippery. I have my baby in the back. I'm trying to go slow.


ROWLANDS: And Don, things are getting much better around the Midwest here in Chicago. We're into the single digits and quite frankly feels pretty balmy.


Thank you very much for that, Ted. You're getting use to it. That's what that means.

And now, to an update on a story we have been following for you on OUTFRONT. And it is sad news regarding Daisy Coleman, the young woman from Maryville, Missouri who was raped two years ago by popular school football player. Coleman, according to her mother has been hospitalized after trying to kill herself. Remember, Coleman's story made national headlines last year after it was revealed chargers against the older boy from a prominent political family were quickly dropped.

Kyung Lah has more on what may have led to this young woman's attempted suicide. And we want to warn you, some of the images you are about to see may be offensive.


KYUNG LAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It was a united rallying cry, supporters clutching daisies and chanting at the town square in Maryville, Missouri for Daisy Coleman. But as the media spotlight deemed, bullying intensified for the teenage rape victim. Daisy's mother tells CNN her daughter tried to kill herself after cyber bullies attacked her on facebook. The 16-year-old is now in the hospital. Her distraught mother says she's not sure if she's going to make it.

Last fall, Daisy told CNN that bullying has been a constant struggle.

DAISY COLEMAN, ALLEGED RAPE VICTIM: You hear it so often that you're all these different things and you start to believe it. And I really did start to hate myself.

LAH: This traces back to what Daisy Coleman says happened two years ago. Just 14 at the time, she had a 13-year-old friend, Page Parkhurst, say they were raped by two high school boys after a night of drinking. Charges against the boys were dismissed. The local prosecutors saying Daisy refused to testify.

But Daisy's family calls that a lie saying the real reason is political power. One of the accused Matt Barnett, his grandfather is a former state representative. Daisy and her family were run out of Maryville, a stark example, they say, of victim blaming.

Online activist group, anonymous, picked up the girl's cause and the insuring social media frenzy helped reopen the case led by a new special prosecutor. Daisy's cousin said the review of the case, finally, brought her hope.

HEATHER MOELLER, DAISY COLEMAN'S COUSIN: I know that she's been so much happier just in the past week knowing that people really believe her and are supporting her.

LAH: Daisy told OUTFRONT that she was ready to move forward in the new case.

ERIN BURNETT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Are you feeling now better about yourself? More ready to fight this? Are you ready to testify and are you ready for what this will mean?

COLEMAN: I have developed a lot thicker of a skin, so I do believe I am ready. LAH: That was last fall. Last week friends posted these gruesome images on a facebook page saying they came from the second young victim, Page Parkhurst. Someone broke into her parent's car and left behind mutilated rabbits. Page, who has remained in Maryville, has said her recovery has been a struggle.

PAGE PARKHURST, ALLEGED RAPE VICTIM: I had started having a lot of night terrors, nightmares.

LAH: The special prosecutor says a final report in the girl's case is nearly done. Daisy Coleman's mother hope it is it will bring the family justice and that her daughter will survive to hear it.

For OUTFRONT, Kyung Lah, CNN.


LEMON: And still to come, a shocking story out of North Carolina, just 70 seconds after a police officer arrived on the scene a teen was shot and killed.

Plus Dennis Rodman explodes during an interview with CNN. What did Chris Cuomo ask the former NBA star that made him say this.


DENNIS RODMAN, FORMER NBA PLAYER; No, no, no, I'm saying to you, look at these guys. Look at them. What the hell are you thinking. I'm standing here, look at these guys, look at them.



LEMON: Grab your popcorn because this is an unbelievable one.

Dennis Rodman currently on his fourth visit to North Korea, angrily defending his trip this morning in an interview with CNN's Chris Cuomo. Tomorrow, Rodman and six others NBA veterans will play in an exhibition game to celebrate the 31st birthday of North Korean leader, Kim Jong-Un. A trip that both the NBA and U.S. state department have openly denounced.

Here is part of Rodman's interview on CNN's "New Day."


RODMAN: No one ever, ever asked anyone in the world why we have Olympics and we have struggles around the world. But when the Olympics are around, there's no problems. It's all about the game. People who love to do one thing, sports.


RODMAN: This is what we are trying to do. CUOMO: Dennis, I agree. Sports is so powerful. The Olympics are powerful. The men that you have around you are great ambassador for the game and for the country they represent, but you also know you don't go and celebrate countries that are offensive to human rights. They get excluded from the Olympics.

CHARLES SMITH, FORMER NBA PLAYER: You can continue to talk about the different activities that take place here. We have activities that take -- there are activities that take place all over the world. We are using basketball as a bridge for cultural exchange. And that's all about communication. We're not -- again, we are not here to deal with the politics.

CUOMO: Dennis, let me end on this. You do have a relationship with this man. You said it many times. We have seen it demonstrated for whatever reason. Are you going to take an opportunity, if you get it, to speak up for the family of Kenneth Bae and to say let us know why this man is being held, that this is wrong, that he is sick. If you can help, Dennis, will you take the opportunity?

RODMAN: The one thing about politics, Kenneth Bae did one thing, if you understand -- I got to go. If you understand what Kenneth Bae did, do you understand what he did?

CUOMO: What did he do? You tell me.

RODMAN: You tell me why is he held captive?

CUOMO: They haven't released any charges.

RODMAN: Let me do this. I would love to speak on this.

CUOMO: Go ahead.

RODMAN: You know, you have ten guys here, ten guys here that have left their families, left their families to help had this country in a sports venture. Got ten guys, all these guys here, does anyone understand that?

CUOMO: We do. And we appreciate that and we wish them well.

RODMAN: Look at these guys. Look at them.

CUOMO: Yes, but Dennis, don't put it on them. Don't use them as an excuse for the behavior you're putting on yourself.

RODMAN: They came here.

CUOMO: You just basically were saying Kenneth Bae did something wrong. We don't even know what the charges are. Don't use these guys as a shield for you, Dennis.

SMITH: Listen.

RODMAN: I have no shield. Let me do this. I will tell you one thing. People around the world, around the world I'm going to do one thing. You hide behind a microphone right now. We are the guys here doing one thing. We have to go back to America and take the abuse. Do you have to take the abuse that we're going to take? You sir, let me, are you going to that I can that (INAUDIBLE)? Guess what, one day, one day this door is going to open.


LEMON: Still to come, questions swirling around the shooting death of a teen in North Carolina. Did a police officer shoot to kill just 70 seconds after arriving on the scene?

Plus a disturbing video posted online by a police union. Did they cross the line by showing this video to the public?



LEMON: Welcome back to the second half of OUTFRONT.

Virginia State Senator Creigh Deeds is introducing new mental health legislation. He's trying to prevent tragedies like the one he experienced seven weeks ago when he was stabbed multiple times by his own son who later killed himself. The night before the attack, his son Gus was evaluated by mental health professionals but no psychiatric bed was available and he couldn't be held under emergency custody for more than six hours. So he was released.

Legislation would create a psychiatric bed registry and expand time limits for holding the mentally ill.

A car ride gone terribly wrong. Former Miss Venezuela, 29 year old Monica Spear, and her estranged husband, were shot dead in what appears to be a highway robbery in central Venezuela. Their car broke down and were on the side of the road when they were attacked by armed robbers. Their 5-year-old daughter was shot in the leg and survived the attack. Officials tell CNN they have five people who are being interrogated and Spear was crowned Miss Venezuela in 2004 and lived in Miami.

A disappointing development for Lindsey Vonn to tell you about. Just 31 days before the Winter Olympics in Sochi, the defending women's downhill skiing champion announced on Facebook she will not compete. She seemed to be making a comeback after having ACL surgery on her right knee about a year ago, but she aggravated the injury back in November.

Von says the, quote, "reality has sunk in that my knee is just too unstable to compete at this level" and says she is, again, quote, "devastated". She will have surgery soon to prep for a run at the world championships in Vail.

A narrow but significant victory for Democrats in Washington today in a political fight they hope will set the tone for this midterm election year. But the showdown over extending long-term unemployment benefits to 1.3 million Americans is far from over.

Brianna Keilar is at the White House for you.


BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): President Obama pressured Congress to extend long-term unemployment benefits for 1.3 million Americans.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This is not an abstraction, these are not statistics. These are your neighbors, your friends, your family members. It could at some point be any of us.

KEILAR: From the East Room of the White House with the background of unemployed Americans, Obama rejected the Republican argument that unemployment benefits take away motivation to work.

OBAMA: I can't name a time when I met an American who would rather have an unemployment check than the pride of having a job.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: On this vote, the yeas are 60, the nays are 37.

KEILAR: Earlier, the Senate voted to take up a bill that would restart the long-term benefits, which expired at the New Year. Six Republicans joined 52 Democrats and two independents.

In the House, where Republicans are in the majority, they are demanding the 6.4 billion cost be paid for, offset with cuts to other government. Programs. Democrats in the White House oppose offsets and Republicans say it's all about politics in a midterm election year.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MINORITY LEADER: I have to admit I'm a little surprised at the fervor with which the majority is dedicated to reviving the expired emergency unemployment benefits after they ignored the issue all of last year.

KEILAR (on camera): Why not try to find the middle ground on a pay- for, a middle ground that has been found before.

JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: On a relatively rare number of occasions, what I would say is that the ideological fight if there would be one is around horse trading over what are essentially emergency benefits for families in need.


KEILAR (voice-over): Katherine Hackett wrote to the president last month after she was laid off in July from her job as a nursing home administrator.

HACKETT: I was blindsided.

KEILAR: Next month, she's scheduled to shift to long-term unemployment and if Congress fails to act, she will lose the weekly check that is keeping her afloat as she searches for a job.

HACKETT: I'm spending $42 a week on food which isn't a lot, but I'm also keeping my house at 58 degrees and wearing a hat and coat just because oil is really expensive. I don't buy anything.


KEILAR: And Katherine Hackett made a very compelling case for unemployment benefits here today all the White House.

Don, we should tell you that for the first time today, Harry Reid, the top Democrat in the Senate, is indicating that he may be open to offsetting the costs, which is a demand of House Republicans. He said, and this would be a shift, he said that while he's personally opposed to an offset if Republicans come to him with a plan, he will take it to Senate Democrats for a look.

LEMON: All right. Thank you very much. Brianna Keilar, at the White House for us tonight.

Justified force or murder. Tonight, the parents of a North Carolina teen demanding answers after a police officer tased, shot and killed their son right in front of them. The family of Keith Vidal who suffers from schizophrenia called for help after the 18-year-old had been behaving erratically, but 70 seconds after the officer arrived, the teen was dead.

David Mattingly has the story.


DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): He was a skinny and obviously talented teen when he pounded out hard rock rhythms at his drum set. But family members say the 18-year-old Keith Vidal also struggled with schizophrenia and Sunday he became too much for his parents to handle alone.

CALLER: Could you send an officer over here? We have a son that has schizophrenia and he's not doing very good. We've got to get him someplace.

MATTINGLY: That was Vidal stepfather calling 911. He told the dispatcher this had happened before and all they wanted was help getting him to treatment.

CALLER: He wants to fight his mother. He's got a screwdriver. He's just -- you know, he's not doing good. He's scared to death of him.

MATTINGLY: Two officers from two different departments responded and family members say everything seemed under control. Officers calmly talked with their son. He wasn't violent.

That's when a third officer showed up and ordered him to shoot him with stun guns. Seconds later, that same officer shot and killed him.

MARK WILSEY, VICTIM'S STEPFATHER: They murdered our son, for no reason.

MATTINGLY: A family friend shared details with CNN iReport, describing how the 5 foot three, 100-pound teen fell when he was stunned. How two officers then jumped on top of him and while they held him down, the third officer who ordered the stun guns then shot Keith in the chest and killed him.

MARY WILSEY, VICTIM'S MOTHER: You see this kid? This is my son. This is my flesh and blood that they murdered.

MATTINGLY: The teen's family and friends angrily demand action against the officer. The district attorney promises to go wherever the truth leads.

MARY WILSEY: This was uncalled for. And this is not how mental health patients should be treated.

MATTINGLY: An iReporter described Keith Vidal as a very passionate kid who loved music and basketball more than anything on this earth. His performances on YouTube and smiling selfies all just memories now of a life abruptly ended.


LEMON: David Mattingly joins us now.

David, what's the status right now on the three officers who were involved in this incident?

MATTINGLY: Well, these three officers all came from different departments. One was a county deputy, and two are from local police departments. So far, the deputy and one of the police officers have been cleared of not violating any sort of procedure or law by their respective departments. One other officer has been placed on administrative leave and his attorney is saying that once the state has finished with its investigation, then everyone will find out that all of these officers were acting appropriately -- Don.

LEMON: David Mattingly -- thank you, David.

Still to come, the money and power behind one of TV's most popular comedy shows.

Plus, did police cross the line by using this controversial video?



LEMON: Let's check in right now with Anderson Cooper with a look at what's ahead on "360".

Hi, Anderson.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Hey, Don. You covered the incoherent Dennis Rodman rant. We're going to talk with the sister of the American being held in North Korea, Kenneth Bae, who Rodman talked about and seemed to blame for his troubles. Also, our "360" week-long series "Gone to Pot", continues with the other side of the legalization argument. Gary Tuchman goes to a treatment centers speaking with people who said they are addicted to marijuana. Dr. Drew Pinsky also joins us, so does a neuroscientist who says that all drugs, all of them should be decriminalized.

And a remarkable heist that changed history. Five burglars admitting now to a brazen break-in 40 years ago, stealing files from an FBI office to expose domestic spying that the FBI was doing. They're coming out of the shadows tonight. Those stories and tonight's Ridiculist all at the top of the hour -- Don.

LEMON: You can't get enough of Dennis Rodman on that interview. Unbelievable, Andersons. We will be watching. Thank you.

A continuing cycle of violence and thuggery. That's how the police association in Omaha, Nebraska describes the video. The video shows a boy in diapers is being told to repeat profanities and sexual comments by the adults who were taping.

The union says it posted the video to educate the public about the culture they are dealing with in Omaha. But critics say posting the video goes too far. We have blurred the toddler's identity and censored the bad language, but I want to warn our viewers the video is still disturbing.

CNN's Casey Wian OUTFRONT with this story.


CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The video shows a young child, perhaps 2 or 3 years old and a disturbing profane war of words with at least three adults. They seem irritated over a fallen chair.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You throwing a fit right now little (EXPLETIVE DELETED).



WIAN: The child then flips his middle finger at the camera.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (EXPLETIVE DELETED) you too. WIAN: The toddler whose face was shown in the original video but CNN has obscured exchanges at least 35 swear words with the adults in the 1 minute 23 second video.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's why you can't fight. You a bitch. Bitch.

WIAN: They discuss sexual matters, even apparent gang affiliations.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So what hood you from blood?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Say (EXPLETIVE DELETED), I'm from a deuce nine (EXPLETIVE DELETED). What hood you from?






UNIDENTIFIED KID: You a ho bitch.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What's up then?

WIAN: The video was posted on the Web site of the Omaha, Nebraska Police Officers Association, who says, "We have an obligation to share it to continue to educate the law-abiding public about the terrible cycle of violence and thuggery that some innocent children find themselves helplessly trapped in."

SGT. JOHN WELLS, PRESIDENT, OMAHA POLICE OFFICERS ASSOCIATION: When you see a child being treated like this who can't really defend themselves, an innocent child, unfortunately, though, it's something that as police officers, we see that is all too common.

WIAN: Commenters on the police union's Web site objected to what some saw as racial overtones in posting the video.

WELLS: This behavior is going to lead this child down a path that's completely unhealthy. It has nothing to do with race or ethnicity.

Omaha's chief of police released a statement saying the department has no control over the content of the police union's Web site. And the chief strongly disagrees with any postings that may cause a divide in our community.

Casey Wian, CNN, Los Angeles.


LEMON: Joining me now, CNN political commentator Marc Lamont Hill and talk radio host Mel Robbins. She's also a former public defender.

I can barely watch that. It's unbelievable.

MARC LAMONT HILL, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It's tough to watch. I mean, again, no law was probably broken in that video, but it still -- it almost looks like child abuse.

LEMON: Yes, that's what I wanted to ask -- listen, they said that this is an example of the thug cycle in Omaha that kids are trapped in. What do you say?

HILL: First of all, that's clearly an awful thing that just happened. It's irresponsible. It's bad parenting. It's bad uncling, whatever you want to call it, whoever who was on that video.

I'm not sure that I like the way it's framed. And I don't necessarily want to see that video posted on the Internet because I think it sends the wrong message about young, black boys. I think it criminalizes that toddler. That I don't like.

Again, we all agree that's an awful thing that happened, but I'm not sure that posting it is the right thing to do.

LEMON: They probably -- they could have blurred the kid's identity. But, listen, you don't like that they called it thug culture.


LEMON: And again, and the video, Mark, though, he says -- say I want to say I'm thugging in my diaper.

HILL: I think the way they say thug culture is a racial overtone to that. It sort of prepares the public to imagine this young boy --


HILL: As soon as I finish the thought, on someone who isn't even ready for elementary school yet, to frame him as a thug I think is very dangerous and just as irresponsible as the people in the video. Again, not defending the behavior on the video, but the way they are responding to it, not OK.

LEMON: Go ahead, Mel.

HILL: Well, I'm glad. Hi, Mark. Hi, Don.

I'm glad -- first of all, that we all agree that this is absolutely deplorable. I think the point that the police are trying to make is that unfortunately, this is something that they see a fair amount of.

Now, here's the thing that I think everybody is missing that's important about this story. It's not the police that originally posted this. The relatives of this kid took the video. LEMON: And they thought it was funny.

HILL: The relative who calls this kid his nephew posted it because he thought it was great. It wasn't until the police then repost something that was already out in the public that everybody gets up in arms.

I want to remind everybody this kid was called the "N" word more than 10 times in 84 seconds. That is abuse. I wish they could find a law to arrest these people.

And to me, when I hear the word "thug", particularly as a former criminal defense attorney, the word "thug" means a violent ruffian or an assassin, and those come in all shapes and sizes. They come in Latino gangs, they come in Irish gangs, they come in Italian gangs.

And what the police are dealing with here is not a color problem. It is a violence problem.

LEMON: It's also a culture of violence. I don't mean just among African-Americans. It happens among many races. But this particular case it happens to be black. And they are glorifying thug culture saying thug in your diaper. Do this --

HILL: Again, it's disgusting. And again, when the kid posted -- when the uncle posted it, I found that disturbing too. I didn't just find disturbing when the police did it. But it takes a whole new life when the state does it.

LEMON: OK, standby. Let's look a little more at this video.





UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You throwing a fit right now little (EXPLETIVE DELETED).




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's why you can't fight. You a bitch.


LEMON: OK. So, Mel, here's -- I checked with a clinical psychologist about this. Here's what he says. The child's mind is being destroyed by adults in this video and they have exploited him by posting it online. They are saying both sides are at fault here.

But again, you do point out that the relatives posted it first. I wondered if this was some sort of mental abuse for this child, or a psychological abuse, even though police didn't think that anything was happening here. As a former prosecutor, what do you make of it?

ROBBINS: Well, you know, Don, here's the thing. Garbage in, garbage out. And I agree 100 percent with Jeff. The truth is that everybody watching at home who's sick to their stomach right now and who feels for this poor child that's growing up in an environment where the adults around them are acting in a way that's abusive, you know, the thing that I say to myself is that we have an obligation, I believe as a society, to put politics and political correctness aside and do the right thing on behalf of the kids.

HILL: But I don't think it's the right thing, though. My concern is putting the image on the face of a toddler across the world on the screen. It's irresponsible.

ROBBINS: You know what? The uncle already did it.


HILL: But why are we defending -- we've already agreed that the uncle was irresponsible and abusive. Why would we expect the police to commit the same behavior?


ROBBINS: The great thing is maybe somebody will help with the kid.

HILL: Right, exactly.

LEMON: I think we should focus in this in a different way, because that's what we do as journalists. I think that's what the police are trying to do if the video is out there, is to bring light to something that is happening. If you could help this one little boy, just this one little boy, what is wrong with putting a video up that's already out there? And shouldn't we be focusing --

HILL: It's not helping the boy.

LEMON: -- for any race --

HILL: But here's the problem -- it overstates the problem, first of all. Yes, there's a violence problem in Omaha. Yes, there's a violence problem around the country.

LEMON: You think overstates -- you don't think that that happens? Similar things like that happen in many homes?

HILL: I don't think this is normal. I don't think the average family --

LEMON: No, not the average family. But you don't think that happens -- HILL: Even the average person surrounded by violence.


ROBBINS: But, Marc, what is the down side of this video being out in the public and having people concerned about this child and having people wake up to the fact that when you speak to a child in such an abusive manner, it's going to have a negative impact.

HILL: Do you think this is a common occurrence even in places where there's high levels of violence?


LEMON: Yes, I do.


LEMON: I hear people talking to their children like that all the time.

HILL: Like that? Really?

LEMON: Yes, absolutely.

HILL: You think people walk around to kid in diapers --


LEMON: I hear people talking to their kids like that all the time, calling them little N words.


LEMON: I walk the streets of New York City. I hear it all the time.

HILL: I find that hard to believe. Yes, people use foul language. Yes, people use the N word.

But what we saw in that video was a whole other level. And that's not normal. The problem is we live in a world where little black boys are already seen as violent. Already seen as dangerous.

LEMON: It's not about little black boys. It's about all kids.


LEMON: This happens in all parts of society. All cultures.

HILL: How come the example is always black, Don?

LEMON: The example is not always black. What you're trying to say that this kid isn't black?

(CROSSTALK) HILL: I'm saying the kid is black. And this is dangerous to call a toddler a thug in training which is essentially what they've done. That's what I'm saying the problem is.

Yes, what happened on the video is a problem. We all agree on that.

LEMON: No, the family called him a thug in training. They're saying say I'm thugging in my diapers. That's what his family is saying.

HILL: Police say the thug cycle continues.

LEMON: The police are calling him exactly what the family is calling him.


HILL: The boy this big, how can you say he's going to be a thug? He's this big.

LEMON: We aren't saying that. The family is saying that.


HILL: Marc, use your common sense for crying out loud.

HILL: I'm using common sense. Not as condescending as you are. Go ahead.

ROBBINS: What's going to happen to this kid two years from now when you roll him into kindergarten and all he's been is around adults that are dropping the N word, teaching him to flip off, talking about sexual actions with him.

So, now, all of a sudden, the kindergarten teacher is going to have to figure out how to socialize him in a way that's respectable? That's not fair. It's not fair to this kid.

HILL: You're disputing an argument I'm not making. I'm not saying this kidneys a good situation. We all agree he's not. One, this is not the norm.

ROBBINS: What's wrong with putting the video out there? What's wrong with it?

HILL: One, because you --

ROBBINS: Why? What's wrong?

HILL: You don't see anything irresponsible about putting the face of a toddler on the internet and calling him in the cycle of thuggery?


HILL: Come on. It's irresponsible, it's dangerous.

ROBBINS: I don't. HILL: Even the police department doesn't stand behind it.

ROBBINS: I think the kid is a victim.

LEMON: It's irresponsible for the family first of all for the actions to have happened, for the family to have done it, for the family to have put the kid in that position.

HILL: Agreed.

LEMON: That's irresponsible. If the family had not put it out there it may be different. I may feel differently about the police putting it out there.

Now, I do feel once the police put it out there again, they could have covered the kid's face. They did not have to identify and show the child there.

But still, I don't see anything wrong with this. I think this video and other videos like it, regardless of the kid's race, that should be brought to light. That's what we do.

We're supposed to be helping kids as adults, not teaching them to go into a cycle of whatever you want to call it.

HILL: Helping this kid is a good idea. From what we understand, they've contacted Child Protective Services to see if this child in particular can be helped. I think that's awesome.

But to put essentially an anonymous kid out there, not the public is going to save this kid. Instead, they're going to see him and other small black boys like thugs. That's what I'm worried about. I don't see any redemptive value in putting a video like this out here.

ROBBINS: Can I -- well, try this on. So, for folks that may have any experience, or may not overheard people, you know, in their neighborhood or on the street, or at the mall, or whatever, talking to kids like this, I think it's a very powerful and eye-opening example of just how profound of an impact the adults that are raising a kid can have.

And I think that that is a very positive thing in fact. In fact, it does the opposite, Marc, in some regards. That maybe instead of looking at young black men as thugs, maybe some people will say, whether it's a thug that's of one color or a different color or this color, they'll say shoot, maybe --

LEMON: And I want to reiterate. This just happens to be one of a little black kid. But you have not seen white families or Hispanic families or talking to kids like that? Get your, you know what, out of here? Didn't I tell you to shut your damn mouth you little a hole?

HILL: That's different than what we see here. Kid being prepared for gang life.

LEMON: It's the same sort of behavior. It's the same sort of behavior. That's all I'm saying. It doesn't matter the color or race of the kid.

HILL: I don't see a white kid in something like that. I don't see anybody like that.

LEMON: All right. Thanks to both of you. We'll be right back.


LEMON: Went a little long in that last segment. I suppose to have this tonight. But tomorrow night, on OUTFRONT, we'll bring it to you. A black comedian who auditioned and joined "Saturday Night Live", she joins me tomorrow and does a pretty good impression of one of our regulars right here on CNN.

Find out who it is. I'm Don Lemon. Thank you so much for watching.

"AC360" starts right now.