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ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT
U.S. Official; Surprised By Speed Of Iraq Collapse; Terrorists Capture Three More Iraqi Towns; Report: The "Next Bin Laden" Was In U.S. Custody; Iraq Terror: Impact On Oil Prices; Bergdahl Back in the U.S., Has Not Talked to Family
Aired June 13, 2014 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: Next, Iraq under attack. Terrorists taking over major cities. Was the United States caught completely off-guard?
Plus, Sergeant Bergdahl back on American soil. Why hasn't he asked to see his family? Tonight an exclusive update from the man in charge of treating Bbergdahl. He'll be our exclusive guest.
And Chris Christie tries to move past bridge-gate. Let's go OUTFRONT.
Good evening, everyone. I'm Erin Burnett. OUTFRONT tonight, breaking news, U.S. officials admit to CNN, they were caught off-guard by how quickly the situation in Iraq has spiralled out of control. Sources telling our Kyra Phillips they were surprised at, quote, "The speed at which the situation continued to deteriorate over the past few days and the apparent ease at which the Iraqi security forces abandoned their units and positions.
Today militants took over three more towns after clashes with Iraqi security forces that lasted hours. So far the terror group, the Islamic state in Iraq and Syria, or is, has launched massive attacks on four major cities. They already control an additional three dozen smaller towns.
As you can see with all of the red dots and you can see over the border there in Syria as well. Today President Obama, of course, who withdrew American forces from Iraq warned of the consequences of doing nothing.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: This poses a danger to Iraq and its people, and given the nature of these terrorists, it could pose a threat eventually to American interests as well.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Already an American official tells CNN, the Pentagon is making arrangements to move the aircraft carrier, "George H.W. Bush" into the Persian Gulf. That would give President Obama the option of possible air strikes. The Iraqi government has asked for that assistance. Arwa Damon is in Erbil this evening. Arwa, how quickly are the militants advancing?
ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Very quickly. If we just look at what happened over the last four days, they've managed to bring the fight to about an hour's drive away from the Iraqi capital, capturing not just key territory, but also as Iraqi security forces abandoned their positions, getting their hands on U.S.-made Humvees, various other vehicles, not to mention heavy weaponry and ammunition -- Erin.
BURNETT: And why have they been able to advance so quickly, Arwa?
DAMON: Because they're not just fighting on their own. Alongside them are also various Sunni insurgent groups quite prominent during the U.S. occupation of Iraq as well as the Sunni tribes. Now they don't necessarily subscribe ISIS ideology. They don't want to see a caliphate set up in Iraq. But they do believe this is an existential battle between the Sunnis and the Shias, and they feel as if they have to take a stand against the predominantly Shia government in Baghdad -- Erin.
BURNETT: And Arwa, at this point, what is the view from where you are in terms of the vulnerability of Baghdad?
DAMON: There are a lot of great concerns, especially as we are seeing increasing calls by various Shia religious leaders to have volunteers join with the Iraqi security forces. And let's also remember at this stage that even as ISIS does advance towards the capital, within Baghdad in and of itself, there are a number of Sunni groups that for years now, since the U.S. basically left Iraq have, been carrying out various different attacks targeting the Iraqi security forces, targeting the Iraqi government. So the Sunni insurgency has been quite active all along. As one Iraqi politician told us earlier, this is a sheer and utter catastrophe for the future of this nation.
BURNETT: A catastrophe, a very incredible word to use. Thank you very much, Arwa Damon, who is on the ground there. Joining me now the former commander of U.S. Central Command, Admiral William Fallon and former NATO commander, Retired General Wesley Clark. Let me start with you. You heard Arwa using the word catastrophe in terms of how Iraqi security forces were describing the situation to her on the ground. How involved does the United States need to get?
GENERAL WESLEY CLARK (RETIRED), FORMER NATO COMMANDER: Well, I think we do need to be involved. But I also think that it's an opportunity to set the record straight, so to speak, and do the right things now in Iraq. So I would like to see us put joint command and control in there. I would like to see some Special Forces troops in. I would like to see AC-130 gunships and some unmanned aerial vehicles and some air cover.
And really work through the Special Forces command to augment and strengthen the Iraqi forces. At the same time, we should be working diplomatically with the government of Iraq. They can't continue business as usual. So they need to make a switch. They've been relying on Iran. They didn't want U.S. presence there. They need to belly-up to the bar now. They're going to be dependent on the United States. They're going to be an ally of the United States after this. They need to recognize it and sign up for it.
BURNETT: General Clark, when you say Special Forces, I mean, the president has been adamant about one thing, no boots on the ground. That I know is we can debate what term you would use. But how many Special Forces would you need? How many troops?
CLARK: Well, not very many, but they're not boots on the ground in the technical sense because boots on the ground means, you know, large unit, combat units. We're not talking about putting combat units. We're putting forward air controllers and people who can speak Arabic and get a realtime assessment. Otherwise, you can't target the air power.
BURNETT: Admiral Fallon, let me ask you. The president today did weigh in on the ground. He said something pretty important. I just want the play for you and then get your reaction. Here is the president.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Look, the United States has poured a lot of money into these Iraqi security forces and we devoted a lot of training to Iraqi security forces. The fact that they are not willing to stand and fight and defend their posts against admittedly hardened terrorists, but not terrorists who are overwhelming in numbers indicates that there is a problem with morale. There is a problem in terms of commitment.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Admiral, this is a really fundamental point. How is the United States just figuring this out now when the United States was responsible for training these forces?
ADMIRAL WILLIAM FALLON (RETIRED), FORMER COMMANDER, U.S. CENTER COMMANDER: I think it's good to recall that since we withdrew the last of our combat troops, the number of U.S. forces in the country has been very, very small. And in fact, nowhere near what the recommendation was in terms of being able to continue the training and advising that might have prevented this current situation. So for the last several years, we've had a very, very small team on the ground. And I believe most of those have been connected with logistics of the equipment that the Iraqis are buying from us, the F-16s and helicopters, so forth.
BURNETT: Admiral, is the president boxing himself into a corner when he is adamant about the fact that he is not going to send U.S. troops back into combat, but he is also saying these terrorists could pose a threat to American interests. Are those two things going to come into direct conflict?
FALLON: No, I don't think so. There is no appetite whatsoever that I've heard, certainly myself certainly wouldn't be inclined to put combat forces on the ground. General Clark indicated before Special Forces could help a lot. These guys could probably use some close air support. But I think there are a couple of fundamentals that need to be in place before any move is made. I think that's what is going on right now.
So the fundamentals would be are the Iraqis go to stand and fight somewhere, and is the prime minister going to direct them to do this? And is he himself going to reach out to embrace the Sunnis among others. And that's one of the underlying problems here that he has been too exclusive.
BURNETT: One of the big questions. General Clark, before we go, John McCain weighed in on this on CNN today. He said he would have the president fire the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Martin Dempsey and the national security adviser, Susan Rice, and then this is what John McCain would do after that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: I would dispatch General Petraeus on the next plane to Baghdad.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: What do you think, General?
CLARK: Well, I love John McCain. He is an old friend, and I have the greatest respect for John McCain, but I wouldn't follow that advice. I think what will Fallon just told you is sound. I think Prime Minister Maliki has to be more inclusive as a leader. He's got to bring the Sunnis back in. He has to exclude the Iranians. By the way, to look at this strategically, Erin, this is an emergency, but it's also an opportunity to demonstrate to Iran who is still the power in the region. And that's the United States. We should take that opportunity.
BURNETT: All right, there is a lot of people in the region I think who would like to see that too. Thanks very much to both of you.
OUTFRONT next, the leader of ISIS has been known as the next Bin Laden. Why didn't the U.S. see this coming? And there is something about his past that is going to stun you.
Plus, with the chaos in Iraq means for Americans. We're going to tell you what could happen to oil prices.
And Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl coming home. But why hasn't he reunited with his parents? Tonight exclusively OUTFRONT, the man in charge of the sergeant's recovery will be our guest.
BURNETT: Iraq in turmoil. Terrorists fighting for control of the country. The Islamic state in Iraq and Syria, it's called ISIS, it's a splinter group from al Qaeda, have seized parts of Iraq and are dangerously close to Baghdad. They sent out a list of rules for those under control, including women cannot cleave their homes unless absolutely necessary. Criminals will be crucified and thieves will face amputation.
OUTFRONT tonight former CIA analyst, Nada Bakos, and Richard Barrett, a former British intelligence officer who headed the U.N. monitoring team for al Qaeda and the Taliban. Richard, let me start with you. The leader of ISIS goes by the name Abu Bakr al Baghdadi, Abu Bakr of Baghdad. He is being called the world's most dangerous man.
But this is incredible. There are reports, we haven't confirmed them, but reports he was in American custody in an Iraqi facility from 2005 to 2009. So the United States knew about this guy. They had him in custody and then they released him.
RICHARD BARRETT, FORMER BRITISH INTELLIGENCE OFFICER: Well, to be fair, they did have him in custody during that period. But to be fair, he wasn't very prominent at that time. It's only since his release that he has come to lead ISIS and cause so much destruction.
BURNETT: So there is no way at this time that they would have known that this person was going to become so important?
BARRETT: That's right. But I think one thing worth mentioning about many of the other prisons in Iraq during that time, it gave people like al Baghdadi the chance to really network and meet a lot of people who were also extremists, other al Qaeda people, also people from the old Iraqi army under Saddam Hussein.
BURNETT: So you're saying that American custody itself may have been part of his radicalism?
BARRETT: I think it's a problem with prisons generally for both criminals and for extremists. It's a pretty good school for learning what to do next.
BURNETT: An interesting word to use, school. Some call Baghdadi the next Bin Laden. How powerful is he at this point and how big are his ambitions compared to those of Osama Bin Laden?
NADA BAKOS, FORMER CIA ANALYST: I think he is actually very different than Osama Bin Laden. He stems from Zarqawi's organization, which is a predecessor to ISIS, his current organization. And he adheres to largely his strategy, which is enacting Muslim on Muslim violence. And Zarqawi was doing this during the height of the civil war in 2005 and 2006, which actually caused a backlash against his organization. I don't see Baghdadi necessarily as aligned with an al Qaeda's ideology either. He was actually kicked out of their organization.
BURNETT: Richard, ISIS is a splinter group of al Qaeda, as Nada says. A lot of the fighters sort of could go either way there is a competition, but there are some similarities for some. Is ISIS the biggest threat right now?
BARRETT: Well, yes, and I would say it's the biggest terrorist group. One of the reasons it was kicked off al Qaeda because it was a threat to the leadership of al Qaeda, not because there was any disagreement over ideology.
BURNETT: It was a power struggle.
BARRETT: It was a power struggle, pure and simple.
BURNETT: Is there a concern this group could attack the United States? That's something President Obama said, that he thought the group could pose a threat. What do you think?
BAKOS: I don't think their current territorial control is indicative of whether or not they could attack the United States. I think they could evolve into that. And I think in large part, their strategy really is securing their current territory. And I think eventually because they do share an ideology, it's really the strategy that differs from al Qaeda. They would focus on the United States if they were to gain that access and power.
BURNETT: Richard, what is your view on that?
BARRETT: I think three scenarios in which ISIS might cause a terrorist attack in the United States. One is to try to deter the United States from take anything action in Iraq to support al Maliki. It might do something like that. I wouldn't say that that would work necessarily, but they might think it would work. The second is if a group of ISIS members came along to Al Baghdadi or other ISIS leaders and say look, we have a unit that could mount attack.
BURNETT: Get his blessing?
BARRETT: Against the United States interests, would you like us to do that? And the third is that al Qaeda, being challenged by is, might say, OK, the thing that we have to do is mount a big attack in the west to show that we're still operational and effective.
BURNETT: All right, thanks very much to both of you.
And still OUTFRONT, what a terrorist-controlled Iraq could mean for oil prices and prices at the pump. In the peak of the summer driving season, they've been surging.
Plus, outrage at General Motors. Two families each lost a child in a crash. They were both there in the same crash. The car company is only taking responsibility for one of those deaths.
And the money and power of real estate. Tonight we'll hear from man who plans to build the new biggest skyscraper in the world.
BURNETT: War in Iraq is hurting every single American already. Oil prices are up 4 percent this week. That is a nine-month high that you're looking at there, and that's going to trickle right through to what you're going to pay at the pump. Iraq is some of the largest oil reserves in the world, and it's been pumping out quite a bit of it recently. And that's our number tonight, 3.37 million that is how many barrels, according to the international energy agency that Iraq was producing per day last month. You heard me right, 3.37 million per day last month. Close to the record set back when everything was working in 1979.
Joining me now is Dan Dicker, an oil trader and president of Merck Block. Knows nor about this everyone. We have this map and in red we are looking at the area that ISIS controls in Iraq. This is Iraq proper. Red is the area they control. On top of that, we have super imposed oil derricks.
DANIEL DICKER, OIL TRACKER: Right.
BURNETT: Tell me what that means.
DICKER: First, we have to remember that what is being controlled by is right now is very much Sunni territory. And only 17 percent of Iraqi production comes from the north. The largest being in this area here, which is a little bit west of Mosul at the Kirkuk super field, there is 5 billion barrels of oil there. But that's under tremendous Kurdish control. And it's very difficult for the Sunnis to make progress with the people surrounding that area. So it doesn't seem that that Kirkuk super field is really at risk. Much of the production is here in the south.
BURNETT: Down in the south. That's Basra.
DICKER: That is height-controlled areas and, in fact, are not really at risk. So what has been happening in the oil market very much has been a sort of projection of risk into the future. Whether or not the trouble that is going on in the north will not only spread, but will stay like that very bad for several months and several years, and force the Iraqis to not increase production. Because it is in the increase of production that most of the global energy market was depending upon Iraq over the coming years, months and decades.
BURNETT: Nothing of a supporter until after the war and then all of the sudden obviously you're talking about 3.4 million barrels a day. A huge, huge support.
DICKER: It was an increase of production over the last two years that very much OPEC needs. And in fact, they were expecting that to in fact double over the next three or to five years.
BURNETT: So if there is -- there is obviously a short-term and a long-term. Long-term hugely important.
BURNETT: But in the short-term, as this plays out, you see prices go up several percentage points in just one week. What does that mean for prices when people are going on July 4th? That's what you're looking at.
DICKER: Iraq is part of the palette of geopolitical problems that we've seen extend over the past several years. In the oil market, Syria, Iran with the nuclear conflagration and their nuclear aspirations, obviously Libya. And these things have financially kind of drawn themselves into the oil market. Every time you see these forward ricks on supply hit the market, you'll see these tick up in prices.
So for people at the pumps, it's a bad scene, because there are no real reasons for oil to drop here. The risks continue to remain on the upside. Iraq is only one of several geopolitical issues that are out there. And in fact we're going to see higher prices at the pumps.
BURNETT: So prices are going to go up. There is no way even if you have a relief of the situation.
DICKER: You'll get minor relief, but this is only one of several issues on the horizon. And the demand/supply balance is so tight that even a half million barrels a day of supply that comes under pressure, it can mean 20 or 30 cents more per gallon at the pump.
BURNETT: Thank you very much, Dan.
OUTFRONT next, Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl back on American soil. Why hasn't he asked to see his family yet? An exclusive interview with the man treating him, OUTFRONT after this.
And the latest from General Motors' massive recall. The company has already taken responsibility for 13 deaths. But some families say they're being stonewalled and we have an incredible story for you tonight.
And Chris Christie like you have never seen him before.
BURNETT: New developments tonight about the health of Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl. Tonight he is said to be in stable condition at the Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio. He arrived overnight to begin the next phase of his reintegration process. Officials warning today that Bergdahl still has a very long road ahead of him after spending five years in captivity.
In a moment we're going to speak exclusively to one of the psychologists in charge of Bergdahl's treatment. But first, Ed Lavandera is OUTFRONT, outside the San Antonio medical Center with more.
ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Almost two weeks after his Taliban captors handed him over to a U.S. Special Forces team in Afghanistan, Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl set foot in the United States for the first time in five years.
In the middle of the night, he walked off a military plane surrounded by his medical and psychology team.
MAJ. GEN. JOSEPH P. DISALVO, COMMANDING GENERAL AT U.S. ARMY SOUTH: During his stay here, Sergeant Bergdahl will participate reintegration. A process that will aim to equip Sergeant Bergdahl with the necessary tools to regain appropriate levels of physical and emotional stability.
LAVANDERA: Military officials spearheading Bergdahl's reintegration process say the 28-year-old soldier is speaking English and starting to make the basic choices that he has been denied for so long, like picking what he wants to eat. Peanut butter sandwiches are a favorite.
But Bergdahl still has not chosen to speak with his parents. Bob and Jani Bergdahl have not made the trip to San Antonio yet to reunite with their son. Military officials say it's all up to Bowe Bergdahl to make the phone call.
COL. BRADLEY POPPEN, SERE PSYCHOLOGIST: Overall, though, it a returnee's choice to determine when, where and who they want to engage socially. And the family understands that process at this point in time.
LAVANDERA: Sergeant Bergdahl is still unaware of the controversy surrounding his capture and release. He is in a hospital style room with no television. And military officials say there is no timeline for when he'll be told about what's happened in the last five years.
POPPEN: As we give him a sense of control, we expose them more and more to events and environments around them. So, yes, at some point in time he will be exposed to the media inquiries to him, what is going on in the world. But again, in the past five years, he's had exposure. We want to titrate that to expose it to him.
LAVANDERA: In writings Bowe Bergdahl left before he was captured, he appears like a young man struggling at times to make sense of the world around him. "The Washington Post" reported that in a journal entry, Bowe wrote of himself, "A wolf, mutt, hound dog. I've been called these from my childhood. But what good am I? My existence is to exile, to live on the fringes of this world."
The medical team around Bowe Bergdahl says he is a unique case and has lots to overcome. There is no timeline for how long he'll be kept in San Antonio, or when he'll walk back out into everyday life.
BURNETT: I mean, I know you have been covering this story for many years. Have Bergdahl's parents said anything yet about his arrival in San Antonio, about their plans, when they'll see their son?
LAVANDERA: They have been extremely quiet. It was the day after the news broke that Bowe had been rescued, the last time they spoke was that Sunday afternoon in Boise, Idaho. They have laid very low since then. Military officials here in San Antonio say that they are trusting in this process.
But they did release a statement today asking news media to respect their privacy and saying that they would not make any announcements on their travel plans here to San Antonio.
But we talked to various people over the last couple of weeks in Hailey, Idaho, their hometown there, who say they have been waiting for this reunification process, and they're trusting in the process.
One interesting side note: a lot of people have been talking early on about Bob Bergdahl, Bowe's father, his beard and how he had grown out his hair and that sort of thing. Several people there in the town of Hailey had told me over the past couple days that Bob Bergdahl has completely shaved off his hair and beard. He looks exactly like Bowe now.
BURNETT: Oh, wow. Yes, that picture in solidarity with what experiences his son must have had. But --
BURNETT: Yes. All right. Well, thank you very much, Ed Lavandera.
Obviously, his parents, I don't know, seem to be preparing to see their son again. As Ed mentioned, there is a team of experts working with Bergdahl. And they include medical doctors and psychiatrists.
He is also working with lawyers, security, drivers, finance specialists, even a chaplain. Consider what he may have been going through for the past five years, being the in the dark, being in chains, not being able to see. We don't know the full (AUDIO GAP) scarring in any way.
OUTFRONT, Colonel Bradley Poppen, he's a survival of Asian resistance escape psychologist. He is one of the men in charge of Bergdahl's care.
Good to have you with us, Colonel. We appreciate your time.
Have you seen Bowe Bergdahl at this time? And can you tell us anything about that?
POPPEN: I'm sorry, you say that again, Erin? I couldn't quite get you.
BURNETT: That's OK. I was saying had you seen him yet? And could you tell us anything about what it was like?
POPPEN: No, ma'am, I have not seen him. I met him on the flight line, but I haven't had a chance to interact with Sergeant Bergdahl yet.
BURNETT: So, when you do, what is going to be your plan to try to help him? I mean, he spent five years in captivity. Obviously, we're hearing some of that time in a cage, not able to speak or write English. I mean, where do you begin?
POPPEN: Well, Erin, we're still trying to get the details on his capture experience. What we're trying to do right now is go through a lot of decompression, debriefing, to give him a chance to tell his story, to get back to a normal life, making choices on his own, to understanding that that he has ability to make those choices for his life as he moves forward. And another critical part of that is debriefing and really do a very
normal healthy storytelling. And we try to do that putting in a context of how he can assist our forces so they can learn to survive and endure captivity in a similar situation if it would happen for them.
BURNETT: And, you know, you have been part of treating other people who have gone through horrible things, those held by FARC in Columbia in 2008. They were treated at your facility for 10 days before they were released.
Some people might look at their experience and say wow, ten days is a very short period of time. Do you think in any way that this could be that short or are you thinking this is going to be something that will be a much longer process?
POPPEN: Erin, each captivity situation is different, just as reintegration event is different. And you're right. The FARC was held for five years, but they were held together, being able to talk with each other and communicate with each other.
For Sergeant Bergdahl, as far as we know, he is the only American held in captivity service member and was not afforded the chance to communicate with any other American service member. So, it's a variable timeline. But in the end, it's driven by his needs and what is best for him overall.
BURNETT: I know Bergdahl is not yet spoken to his parents. He has not yet asked to do so. Is that something that surprises you?
POPPEN: You know, again, every situation is different. We've had situations where people come out of captivity, and they're just not ready to engage with their families yet or the social life.
It's been five years for Sergeant Bergdahl he has been in captivity. A lot has changed in his life, in his mind. A lot has changed in his family's lives. And we need to give them all time to recognize how they can come together and be patiently waiting for each other.
BURNETT: And, Colonel, what is your biggest fear?
POPPEN: My biggest fear is that he won't be given enough time to make that adjustment to really understand the media sensation around him and really get the chance to understand that and make some solid, honest choices about that.
BURNETT: Colonel Poppen, thank you very much. We appreciate your taking the time. Colonel Poppen is going to be involved in the psychological care of Bowe Bergdahl.
I want to bring in Roy Hallums, an American contractor was kidnapped in Iraq in 2004. He spent nearly a full year in captivity, chains, darkness, very, very small space.
Roy, what you went through is horrific, and obviously you've been able to connect with some of what Bowe may have gone through. What do you think about this timeline? I mean, how long do you think it's going to take him?
I mean, you just heard the colonel there saying well, this is even worse in a sense than some of these situations because he hadn't had the chance during the five years to interact with anyone American.
ROY HALLUMS, AMERICAN HELD HOSTAGE IN IRAQ: Well, I think it's going to take, you know, a long time. I don't know exactly how long. I didn't have any other Americans with me. I had some Europeans and Iraqis with me. And they spoke a little bit of English. But we couldn't really talk because the gang would tell us they were going to kill us if they heard us talking.
And for me, it took about eight, nine months to get back to what I would consider normal and be able to make decisions on your own and feel normal again.
BURNETT: You said eight or nine months. Even now, 10 years later, do you still have moments?
HALLUMS: Yes. Well, I mean, I do from time to time. I was tied with these nylon zip ties 24 hours a day.
And the other day, one of my neighbors had bought some stuff at a home goods store and he was cutting zip ties off of his items, and they were just laying in the yard. And I was looking at them, and I thought, well, I'm having different experience with zip ties than he did. But it's not something I dwell on. From time to time I think of it, but not in a totally bad way.
BURNETT: Wow, but that's incredible. The small things that we all just take for granted. And that they can be so important for you.
Roy, thank you very much. Good to talk to you again.
Roy Hallums, as we said, was held captive in Iraq for nearly a full year.
Governor Chris Christie like you've never seen him before. I don't know. You may love it or you may loathe it, but believe me, you need to see it.
And how tall is too tall when it comes to skyscrapers? Oh, I went to the top of the very tallest in the world, and it turned out there had been an earthquake before. We'll be back.
BURNETT: General Motors announcing four more recalls including half a million Camaros for a problem similar to the flawed ignition switch in Cobalts. That has been tied to at least 13 deaths.
But what exactly counts as part of that tally?
Poppy Harlow has our story.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) POPPY HARLOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Natasha Weigel loved hockey, hoodies and poetry.
JAYME RIMER, MOTHER OF NATASHA WEIGEL: She would make me laugh. And we would dance around and sing.
HARLOW: She was just 18.
DOUG WEIGEL, FATHER OF NATASHA WEIGEL: We walked down the aisle to her funeral. An unfinished life. God needed a goalie.
HARLOW: Amy Rademaker was just 15. She adored movies, the color orange, and laughed like it was her job.
MARGIE BESKAU, MOTHER OF AMY RADEMAKER: She had a crazy laugh. Sounded like a cross between woody woodpecker and a chipmunk.
HARLOW: Two lives cut short on a chilly October night in 2006, on this Wisconsin road. Amy sitting in the front, Natasha in the back.
(on camera): Did speed cause this crash?
BILL TRAYNOR, WISCONSIN STATE PATROL: We do not feel speed was related to the crash.
TRAYNOR: Was not related to weather.
HARLOW: Alcohol involved?
HARLOW: Investigators say the 2005 Chevy Cobalt that Amy and Natasha were passengers in veered off the road here, then hit a telephone box before striking two trees. Amy died later that night in the hospital. Natasha held on for 11 days before dying. The driver miraculously survived, but with severe injuries.
(voice-over): No one in the car was wearing a seat belt, and the driver only had a learner's permit. Investigators can't say exactly what caused the crash, but say the key was found in the accessory position, shutting the engine off and preventing air bags from deploying.
(on camera): Should the air bags have deployed in a crash like this?
TRAYNOR: I would say yes.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: One of the engineers said it was the ignition switch from hell.
HARLOW: It's a deadly defect G.M. now admits it knew 10 years ago. Amy's mother got an e-mail from government regulators saying her daughter is counted among the 13 deaths G.M. says resulted from the ignition switch defect. (on camera): She is one of the 13?
HARLOW (voice-over): Jayme Rimer got a different e-mail about her only child.
JAYME RIMER: We understand that G.M. does not count your daughter's death in its list of 13 deaths.
HARLOW: Regulators say Natasha is not on gm's list. The automaker won't release those names, but only counts front seat deaths where air bags did not deploy, not back seat deaths or even side impact deaths.
DOUG WEIGEL: They want to actually differentiate between someone being in the back seat and the front seat of that car. I mean, that's ridiculous.
HARLOW: Ken Rimer drove 11 hours to get answers from G.M.
KEN RIMER: I'm here because these two girls can't be here.
HARLOW (on camera): Why are those that died in the back seat of a car that crashed because of the ignition switch defect not counted on the lists?
MARY BARRA, G.M. CEO: Our goal is to make sure everyone who was impacted by the ignition switch issue is appropriately compensated. You know, the list and the number that we have talked about is based on the information we have right now. And we don't, you know, indicate that we have all information.
HARLOW: To the parents of Natasha Weigel, are you saying that might change?
BARRA: Again, we don't know. Right now the information we have indicates the number of 13.
BESKAU: They died in the same car. She has just as gone as Amy.
HARLOW (voice-over): Both families have filed a wrongful death lawsuit against G.M. The company telling CNN it is "taking steps to treat these victims and their families with compassion, decency, and fairness. We made serious mistakes in the past, and as a result, we're making significant changes in our company to ensure they never happen again."
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She wanted to be a rock star was her small little goal in life.
HARLOW: Making it even harder to stomach for these families, G.M.'s own internal investigation shows gm had the collision report of the crash that killed Natasha and Amy, tying the ignition switch to the air bag failure in 2007. But none of the G.M. lawyers and engineers working on Cobalt matters recall being aware of this report until this year. JAYNE RIMER: I love her. I miss her, you know. She is in heaven,
and she is dancing. I just want you to acknowledge that my daughter died in your car.
HARLOW: Poppy Harlow, CNN, Hammond, Wisconsin.
BURNETT: And now, let's check in with Anderson with a look at what's coming up in a few minutes on "AC360" -- Anderson.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Erin, yes, we have much more on the breaking news tonight. The speed with which events are unfolding in issue.
Ahead my exclusive interview with an American contractor on the ground, who's been in an Iraqi military base, he says came under attack by Islamist jihadist. You're going to hear how he and other ex-military members took the arms that were left behind by other Iraqi forces to help protect the base before they could be airlifted to safety.
Also ahead, the terror tactics of ISIS, an organization so brutal even al Qaeda has in some ways disowned them. Mohammed Jamjoom has a report on the propaganda videos being made with recruiting tools, some with Hollywood style production and camera work.
Also tonight, here in the United States, Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling launching a full-court press against the NBA and other fellow owners, hiring teams of private investigators to dig up dirt on other owners. We'll talk with one of his lawyers about the strategy and how far Sterling is willing to go to keep control of the team. All that and more at the top of the hour, Erin.
BURNETT: All right, Anderson. We'll look forward to seeing you in just a few moments.
And now, the tallest building in the world. It's 2,716 people. It's called the Burj Khalifa. It dominates the skyline of Dubai. It is the skyline of Dubai. It's like a needle literally.
Just a few days ago, I was there when I met with Mohamed Alabbar. He's the man who owns that tower. He told me he is proud of the building. He calls it his girl.
And there is something incredibly feminine and dainty about this beautiful building. I don't know -- you know, I mean, it's strong, but dainty. Anyway, as the real estate market rebounds, he is already planning to build another tower. That's tonight's money and power.
BURNETT: People are talking again about is there a bubble in Dubai? Prices are up 60 percent. What do you say?
MOHAMED ALABBAR, CHAIRMAN OF EMAAR PROPERTIES: I say that of the six years, horrible years in California and here, and many other parts of the world, I think people are getting excited and the market is moving a little too fast for my comfort. But I see indication that it is coming back to quite a good balance, because six years is a long time.
So, I was worried about three months ago. I'm happier today because I see a bit of balance in the market.
BURNETT: So, you're not -- you're not -- I mean, you were worried a few months ago?
ALABBAR: I was worried. But keep in mind that we've got the banks who are really behaving very well. You've got the monetary authority of the central bank was also behaving very well with good rules. You've got government authorities that are watching the market and they put in the right tools when they think it's going a little too crazy.
We as developers, also we have learn and we made sure that we minimize our risk even was we do our business, even though we're very aggressive while we do it. So, I think all that helped.
But you can never stop human greed. People get excited, jump, and then I think they ought to relax a little bit now, a little bit relaxed.
BURNETT: When you look at your company, the largest real estate company in the region, and you know, it's not just the buildings, it's the malls, it's the hotels around the region. What is -- you tell me whether it's you're most optimistic or afraid. Which would you highlight?
ALABBAR: Well, I think the UAE market in general in Dubai is quite strong. I would rate Egypt as very strong market for it. We are 40 percent up in Egypt in the past three months.
BURNETT: Which would shock most of our viewers.
ALABBAR: It's real. We are large in Egypt and 40 percent up is big for us.
BURNETT: So you have this dream, I mean, as you say, this is your girl. She's personal. And now, you -- you're thinking maybe another one. It's like the decision to have another child. Are you ready yet?
ALABBAR: I'm ready. To be honest with you, I think that human beings are mesmerized with height in general, and that's if you look at the number of people that visit us on the observation deck, it's just staggering, staggering numbers. We are moving above 3 million people, our profit numbers are embarrassing. I want to share it with you. Waiting line, five days.
And again, you know, we have a lot of desert to look at.
So, we are not in New York. So, when you look, New York and London, it's very exciting to look. BURNETT: Thus, you want to give them something else to look at.
ALABBAR: Well, yes, of course.
BURNETT: All right. Next week, we're going to show you how they cool that building. Because, you know, when we were there, it was 120 degrees outside.
So, we're also going to show you how they use the wind in the elevators, you know, where my ears barely popped going up and down. And we'll tell you about the earthquake that struck a couple of days before our visit. That's our city of tomorrow next Thursday OUTFRONT. We're very excited about it.
And still to come, tonight's city of tomorrow, California in the grips of the worst drought in a century. San Diego's solution for $1 billion.
And Governor Chris Christie, we have been waiting all hour for this, Governor. We're going to show you something you've never seen before.
BURNETT: The drought ravaging California, possibly the worst in 100 years. But San Diego may have a solution, tapping into the ocean. More than 2/3 of the earth, of course, is covered in water. But a lot of that is salty, 96 and-a-half percent of that water is in the ocean.
So, is it worth it? Rachel Crane has the story.
RACHEL CRANE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: With California experiencing one of the worst droughts in the state's history, access to fresh water has never been more important or more difficult.
Here in Southern California, the largest desalination plant in the western hemisphere is being constructed. It will soon take water from the ocean and create 50 million gallons of fresh water a day.
BOB YAMADA: California's in a serious drought right now. And any new water supplies are important to the region.
PETER MACLAGGAN: We have $190 billion economy in this region that's dependent on water. And the question you need to consider is, what's the cost of not having enough water?
YAMADA: Unlike, let's say, a water that comes from rainfall or water that comes from snow pack, we're utilizing what essentially is the world's largest reservoir, the Pacific Ocean.
CRANE (voice-over): The Carlsbad desalination plant will cost approximately $1 billion. The fresh water will be pumped 10 miles under ground to a regional delivery system, providing water to an additional 300,000 San Diego County residents.
(on camera): Customers, they won't know whether they're drinking desalinated water or not.
YAMADA: That's right. It'll be part of the overall supply.
CRANE (voice-over): Through a process called reverse osmosis, the plant will convert every 2 gallons of sea water into 1 gallon of fresh water, filtering out 99.9 percent of the salt. The salt, or brine that's removed is discharged back into the ocean. The desalination process traditionally takes a lot of energy. A plant this size would normally use as much energy in a single day as 70 homes in a year. Officials at the Carlsbad plant say theirs will use 46 percent less energy.
The project is not without criticism. Environmentalists point out that desalination requires a lot of energy and brine discharge can negatively impact marine life.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're creating more marine wetlands in San Diego bay to create new habitat so fish can reproduce there. With respect to the brine discharge, we dilute the brine with sea water before it leaves the site.
CRANE: The plant is expected to be completed in 2016.
YAMADA: And everybody is extremely excited to see this project coming online and providing us with new water supply.
BURNETT: All right. What is the best way to weather a bridge controversy? Well, there is a person, thank God, to ask that question to. The Governor Chris Christie. Apparently, you just dance it off. They said I had to wait all day to watch it.
Oh. Well, there he is with Jimmy Fallon performing some moves for the segment, "The Evolution of Dad Dancing", including the dance, "This Bridge is Closed". Fallon took a little heat from the New Jersey governor for months of jokes about bridgegate.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JIMMY FALLON, COMEDIAN: I was in shock. I was in shock. I was in shock for a minute. I was excited, how rude people can be --
GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: What do you got to say?
FALLON: Very sorry. Very sorry. No, I just want to say, you know what --
CHRISTIE: I accept your apology.
FALLON: I know it's politics, but you have a family and --
CHRISTIE: Sure. Believe me. That wasn't nearly as bad as them watching me dance out there with you. I guarantee that. They're so much more humiliated by that because I actually did that.
FALLON: Yes. Yes, yes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: All right. He did do the dance, I wanted to see it again. I wouldn't be surprised if now there's another traffic jam, this one on YouTube. Probably the people in the jam, though, do not include the governor's children.
Happy Father's Day.
Anderson starts now.