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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Republican Congressman Under Fire Over Abortion Comments; Libya Investigation Continues; Electoral Math
Aired October 19, 2012 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: It's 10:00 p.m. here on the East Coast.
We begin "Keeping Them Honest" with breaking news about who knew what and when they knew it in connection with the attack that killed four Americans in Benghazi, including America's ambassador to Libya. The timeline is crucial, both as a simple matter of fact and because it's a political bone of contention.
Tonight, there are key new pieces of it. 360 has learned that even as the country was waking up to the fact that four Americans were dead, including U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens, top White House officials were in frequent contact with senior intelligence officials, multiple conversations and possibly we're told tonight at least one secure video conference involving the CIA director, David Petraeus, the White House national security adviser, Thomas Donilon, and perhaps the secretary of state, Hillary Clinton.
Now, we don't know yet what was said or whether those discussions covered raw intelligence from Libya pointing to terrorist involvement. We have been reporting such early indications existed, and tonight, the Associated Press says some of it was coming from the CIA station chief on the ground.
Whether or how it was distributed, we just don't know yet. Late today, though, Mike Rogers, the Republican chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, had this to say to CNN's Wolf Blitzer.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. MIKE ROGERS (R-MI), CHAIR, HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: I want to say that we the committee were in possession of information that, provided by the intelligence community, that pretty much said this was a military style attack within less than 24 hours.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Presumably, the White House also had that information, so why then on September 15 did the United Nations ambassador, Susan Rice, describe the attack this way?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SUSAN RICE, UNITED STATES AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS: It's important to know that there's an FBI investigation that has begun and will take some time to be completed. That will tell us with certainty what transpired, but our current best assessment based on the information that we have at present is that in fact, what this began as was a spontaneous, not a premeditated response to what had transpired in Cairo.
In Cairo, as you know, a few hours earlier, there was a violent protest that was undertaken in reaction to this very offensive video that was disseminated.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: The spontaneous and not premeditated is the important part. That was four days after raw intelligence was available contradicting that and three days after the intelligence community may have apprised both lawmakers and the White House that such intelligence, preliminary though it may have been, in fact existed.
So why then did Susan Rice say that? An intelligence official tells us she was working off a set of CIA talking points. Several senior administration officials tell CNN Ambassador Rice's use of the word spontaneous came directly from an assessment provide to Congress and was not edited by the White House.
But "Keeping Them Honest" the White House had been in frequent contact with the CIA days before that, and the CIA reportedly had at least raw intelligence casting doubt on the idea this attack was spontaneous.
However, the intelligence official who told us about the talking points says it took days to reconcile contradictory information surrounding the attack. So is this a case of the CIA covering its backside or as many Republicans allege the White House initially choosing a more politically palatable narrative that downplayed terrorism?
Former homeland security adviser Fran Townsend joins us shortly with her take and so does former CIA officer Bob Baer.
First, though, quickly, another development and a big one. It comes just days before President Obama and Mitt Romney debate foreign policy. Today, in "The New York Times," a sharp counterpoint to a promise the president made in the last debate.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We are going to find out who did this and we are going to hunt them down because one of the things I have said throughout my presidency is when folks mess with Americans, we go after them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Well, today, "The New York Times"' David Kirkpatrick reports on a meeting he had with a key suspect in the attack. He reportedly means the group that is widely suspected in the Benghazi assault. That meeting took place not in a jail cell, not in secret, but on a hotel patio.
Joining me now, David Kirkpatrick, Bob Baer on the phone, Fran Townsend. Fran, as we often remind folks, now serves on the CIA External Advisory Committee and recently visited Libya with her employer, MacAndrews & Forbes.
Fran, every White House relies on information from the intelligence community, getting the experts to help with what to say publicly. You also say there are times when mistakes happen, but you say you don't think this is a mistake. You think they knew more than they were publicly letting on.
FRANCES TOWNSEND, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CONTRIBUTOR: John, look, what we know is in that first 24 hours as Americans were waking to this tragic news, that senior intelligence officials were in hourly contact updating the White House.
As you pointed out, we don't know what was said in those conversations, but I can tell you from having lived through these crises, you're getting a constant feed of what the intelligence community understands about what is currently going on and what has happened on the ground.
They will caveat the information because, of course, in the fog of battle, in those first hours, there will be all sorts of conflicting information, some of it which will turn out not to have been true, but you're going to get the whole feed, because of course you're responsible for advising the president.
And the fact is when the president comes out the next day and says in the Rose Garden, makes an oblique reference to terrorism and that terrorism acts will not go unanswered, clearly they understand that there's conflicting information out there and they don't want the president to be wrong, and so he uses this language. He doesn't call it an act of terror but he uses language relating to terrorism because the White House clearly understands in that 24 hours that there is conflicting information.
KING: But we have news now that it was the CIA station chief in Libya who compiled intelligence reports indicating these attacks were not spontaneous but they were launched by militants and the station chief, as we're told, sent that information to Washington.
We don't know exactly who received it. Would that not be passed on? Would General Petraeus at the CIA keep that until he got a triple source, second source?
TOWNSEND: No. He wouldn't hold it. In fact, it would be -- in every crisis that I have been involved in managing, the CIA director who I would call myself, who would call and brief the president, would pass on exactly what he had as he developed it.
He may caveat it. He may say this is not as reliable, and he may say we haven't confirmed it, but the CIA would not hold it back. They would tell the president and the White House what they had and what degree of confidence they had in it at that time as it was developing. KING: Bob, as a former CIA officer, you understand how the system works, when it works well and when it doesn't work so well. You say it's not entirely surprising the White House, if -- it did not receive this information?
ROBERT BAER, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, John, what usually happens in a situation like this is the chief of station in a place like Tripoli will be sending in what's called situation reports, and as the crisis picks up or gets worse, he will be sending them in every hour.
As Fran said, they will be conflicting, it will be raw information, but apparently this happened in Tripoli. These things are sent back to Langley and distributed around the United States government, including the United Nations, to Susan Rice, to the White House.
There's not a chance that the CIA would withhold this information from the White House or probably the United Nations, our office in the United Nations, either. It's just the way it works. It's a system. It's almost mechanical. It's hard to short-circuit.
In addition, the CIA director would be calling the White House in videoconferences, calling the National Security Council. I have never seen an attack on the United States that was not immediately reported to the White House.
KING: But you say it's amateur hour to allow Ambassador Rice to be sent out with the limited information and to say what she said. Why?
BAER: Well, somebody dropped the ball. I mean, the sit-reps, the situation reports, should have been going to her office in New York. She should have been stopped from taking, you know, saying what she did. It's a true blunder in a case like this, as we have seen.
You know, who did not get her the paper? If she did get the paper and still went out on the talk shows and said it was a demonstration, then she should lose her job.
KING: David, you're right there on the ground in Benghazi. As we get a bit more information about who knew what, when, as you talk to your sources, what's your take on all of this?
DAVID KIRKPATRICK, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": For sure, it was strange that a few days after the attack, Ambassador Rice still was talking about a peaceful protest when we journalists without the resources of the CIA were able to find out from witnesses and embassy guards, Libyan guards, it was absolutely no peaceful protest.
But at the same time, keep in mind that it's very hard to figure out who is and who is not a militant around here. There's a lot of, lot of people running around with guns and all kinds of ideologies and it is entirely possible to have a spontaneous attack that could be called terrorism and could also be called spontaneous. So some of this debate feels a little bit like a false dichotomy when you're here on the ground in Benghazi.
KING: David, I want to turn to this remarkable story you broke today. You actually sat down for two hours with one of the men who possibly could be a ringleader in the attacks on the U.S. mission. The president says we will hunt this person down or these people down and find them. Was it hard to find him?
KIRKPATRICK: No, it was not.
His name was mentioned in our paper and in "The Wall Street Journal" earlier this week. And when a Libyan intermediary called him on our behalf, he was eager to talk and set up a meeting. So he met us at a hotel. He had walked by a bunch of other journalists who didn't recognize him and we all sat together on the patio.
You're right. He is at the very least a key witness. He acknowledged being on the scene, even if he didn't say he participated in the attacks. Many witnesses have described him as one of the people commanding fighters inside the attack, and it's puzzling to see how much at large and at ease he is around Benghazi.
KING: You say puzzling. Not interviewed by any Libyan security officials, not interviewed by anyone in the United States?
KIRKPATRICK: No. I believe he's been interviewed by me and also by Reuters.
KING: Bob Baer, does it surprise you, so long after these attacks, that a reporter can sit down, sipping a drink in a hotel, and have a conversation with this man and no one from either the Libyan government or the United States government has talked to him?
BAER: Well, it does surprise me in the sense I had no idea that Libya was such in a chaotic situation where there's absolutely no central authority.
This man should have been brought in within the first 24 hours, interviewed, either found guilty or innocent, let go or whatever, but the fact that journalists can get to him first tells me the situation is fairly hopeless there, that we will ever get to the bottom of the murder of the ambassador and the attack on our consulate there. It is truly, truly chaotic there, and it's absolutely right that it's the militias that run the country and we don't know what their ideology is.
It could have been multiple militias that attacked the U.S. Consulate there. We just may not know for years.
KING: Fran, what do your intelligence sources tell you about Abu Khattala? Was he involved in the attack, do they believe?
TOWNSEND: You know, I think the fact that he is from Derna, he's a sort of known extremist in terms of his ideology, it would not be surprising. And I will tell you, John, in answer to the question you put to Bob about are we surprised, we should be disappointed, but not surprised. It was journalists who found ambassador Stevens' journal because neither Libyan officials nor American officials had gotten to that consulate. Time and again -- it took the FBI three weeks to get to the consulate itself to do a forensic investigation.
The investigation of this on both the American and the Libyan side has been absolutely and completely incompetent. The notion that a journalist could find this guy and sit down with him and do an interview before investigators should not surprise us. Disappointing, yes. Surprising, no.
KING: As we get more information, it sadly raises more and alarming questions.
Fran Townsend, Bob Baer, David Kirkpatrick, thanks so much.
Now for how this is playing out politically, Paul Begala, senior adviser to the leading pro-Obama super PAC, and Ari Fleischer, who is an occasional unpaid adviser to the Romney campaign.
So Paul, the attack on the Benghazi consulate was a big flash point in the last debate. I know you think it's time for these guys to move on, Afghanistan, for example. But given the expanded congressional investigations, a lot of questions about the administration's handling, how much Benghazi do you think will be in the next debate?
PAUL BEGALA, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I do think, John, it's a certainty.
It is, I will say, an important issue to investigate. The administration's investigating, Congress is investigating. That's good. That's professionals doing their job. They happen to be professional politicians, too, but that is the job of the Congress of the United States and also the Pickering investigation that the administration has sponsored.
The hard thing for both of these guys is I think they made important mistakes on this issue. The administration clearly did not have all the facts when they started saying that they had all the facts, and so the initial stories they say were overtaken by events. That's a problem.
Governor Romney, on the other hand, also didn't have all the facts and he issued a statement right when the attacks were happening that struck a lot of people, even Republicans, as very, very political. So both of these guys have a vulnerability on it. They will each try to exploit it.
It's certain to come up, but, frankly, there's tens of thousands of Americans still in harm's way fighting the longest war of American history and I hope we have a thorough discussion about Afghanistan, because that actually I think, the real flash point and maybe the biggest divide between the two candidates. KING: Ari, draw the lines as you see them. Governor Romney is the challenger. He has to step across the commander in chief threshold, if you will, on a number of issues. How much time does he want to spend around the world and how much does he want to try to narrow in to get some advantage out of Benghazi?
ARI FLEISCHER, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, it's not to get advantage out of Benghazi, John. But the fact of the matter is, Benghazi was the first successful terrorist attack on our country since September 11, 2001.
And we as a country have an obligation to figure out how and why it happened. After all, our embassies and our consulates around the world are built like forts. They're built like forts because we know that they're targets. How in the case of Benghazi was America struck? There were security failures, there were blunders made. Who, why, how, all of this is vital to making sure we learn so it doesn't happen again.
Now, in the handling of it and the explanation for it, this administration was terribly ham-handed. It really looked to me as if for political reasons they did not want to indicate that America had been struck by terrorism. They wanted to downplay it. They wanted to attribute it to a YouTube video.
That way, politically, the president could continue to score points off of his successful killing of bin Laden and the suggestion he's kept us safe from terrorism. So it's a serious legitimate governing issue. It ought to come up. It's part of what commander in chiefs do to keep us safe.
KING: Paul, this debate on national security and foreign policy will be in Florida, a key swing state. It will be in Boca, a place where you find a lot of Jewish voters who care a great deal about the relationship with Israel, U.S. support for Israel.
The president has talked to Prime Minister Netanyahu by phone. He has tried to downplay Governor Romney's suggestion that there's distance, that he's throwing him under the bus. If Governor Romney turns and says, well, Mr. President, when you're in New York, why did you go on "The View" and not meet with Prime Minister Netanyahu, how does the president respond?
BEGALA: I think he goes through how many times he has met with him and when he's spoken to him on the phone. We do have this new contraption thanks to Alexander Graham Bell where he can talk to the Israeli prime minister at any time.
Then I think he will pivot to what's really been noteworthy, that the Israeli military and intelligence leaders have been so vocal. I can't remember them being this vocal about America's leadership and they have said, especially defense Minister Ehud Barak, a former prime minister, opposite party of Prime Minister Netanyahu, but in a coalition government with him, and the most highly decorated soldier in the history of the Israeli Defense Forces -- Ehud Barak has said he's never had better, stronger military and intelligence cooperation from the United States than he's had under the Obama administration.
KING: When the issue comes up, Ari, Governor Romney obviously can be thinking if I can swing a couple hundred, couple thousand Jewish votes in Florida, maybe that makes the difference.
So where is the line between trying to play that up and the risk of looking like someone who may be, to borrow a term that was used against your former boss, too cowboy diplomacy, if you will, when the nation's pretty tired about wars?
FLEISCHER: Well, it's not a question of cowboy diplomacy or any other kind of diplomacy. It's a question about is America moving away from a friend, Israel, to establish neutrality.
I say good try, Paul, but the fact of the matter is this is an administration that has a serious Israel problem. There is an Israel gap. And Barack Obama has brought it on. He brought it on from the very beginning with the administration in his Cairo speech, when he acquitted the founding of Israel with -- because of the Holocaust -- with the suffering of the Palestinians.
He brought it on when he talked about condemning Israel for building houses and he brought it on himself when he talked about returning to the 1967 borders with land swaps, brand-new terminology that previous presidents deliberately avoided because they knew it was so provocative.
And finally he brought it on when he said in regard to the French president, who said, Netanyahu was a liar. The president said I have to deal with him every day in exasperation. This administration, this president are deliberately weak on Israel. And Florida in particular and Ohio, it will be a significant issue in the Jewish community. You already see the signs of weakness that the president has there.
KING: Ari Fleischer, Paul Begala, a little preview of what I suspect will be a very feisty Monday night debate. Gentlemen, thank you.
BEGALA: Thanks, John.
KING: Let us know what you think. Follow us on Twitter @AC360.
Up next, some new polling. I will crunch the numbers on what's becoming a very hotly contested electoral map.
KING: In just a few days, President Obama and Mitt Romney will debate foreign affairs. Politics though being local, not global, they will be aiming for impact right here on the electoral map.
We have some late polling to show you tonight, including a new CNN/ORC poll in Florida that shows a statistical dead heat, 49 percent support for the Republican challenger, 48 percent for the Democratic incumbent. Let's switch maps and take a closer look. First inside Florida, what's driving our new poll numbers? Number one, Governor Romney and President Obama have what we will call a generational gap. Look at this, among voters under the age of 50, the president wins by 20 points. Among those 50 and older, a big lead for the Republican ticket, 13 points. An indication there all those attacks on the Republicans on Medicare and Social Security not working as well as the Obama campaign might hope.
A generational gap, also an income divide. Among those making less than $50,000 a year, a big win for if president. Among those making $50,000 or more, a big win for Governor Romney and Paul Ryan on the Republican side. Why is this still so close? In part because close elections are won among independent voters, and in the suburbs, a dead heat among independents and a dead heat among suburban voters.
Still, though, most people believe that is advantage Romney because in our poll two months ago, Governor Romney was down four points, plus one now. It's a five-point swing. That's encouraging news for Governor Romney. Discouraging news for him though in two Midwestern battlegrounds.
Let's start in the state Iowa. A new NBC/"Wall Street Journal"/Marist poll, this taken completely after the second presidential debate, look at that, an eight-point lead for the president in battleground Iowa, troubling in a state Mitt Romney very much needs to win as he tries to reach a path to 270.
And in Paul Ryan's home state of Wisconsin, another state Governor Romney hopes to keep in his basket, six points for the president there. Same poll, NBC/"Wall Street Journal"/Marist poll, six points for the president.
How does this all play out? Some encouraging news for Governor Romney in Florida. Let's say hypothetically that one is trending his way and Democrats don't dispute that. If we give that hypothetically to Governor Romney -- North Carolina as well, most Democrats think is starting to trend out of their reach. well, just those two states, that would get Romney to parity, 237 to 235.
Takes 270 to win. However, if those numbers in Iowa and Wisconsin hold, and the president keeps those in the blue column like they were in 2008, the president would take the lead at 253-235. What does that mean? Battleground Ohio right in the middle would be the biggest remaining battleground and if the president won those 18 electoral votes, it would put him over the top.
So that is where essentially after that first debate -- after that third debate, excuse me, heading into the final two weeks, battleground Ohio, the biggest prize, still some others as these guys duke it out. That's the big picture.
More now on the pieces of it. Jim Acosta with the Romney campaign in Daytona Beach, Florida, chief White House correspondent Jessica Yellin and our senior political analyst, David Gergen. Jessica, let's start there in the Midwest, Iowa, Wisconsin. The president also has a small but a stubbornly consistent lead from the Romney campaign's perspective in Ohio. How much of the Midwest at the heart of the Obama path to 270?
JESSICA YELLIN, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, they are relying on it pretty confidently, John. They feel good about those states. They think because the unemployment picture is improving there, in many of those states, it's actually lower than when the president came into office, because the auto bailout worked for so many of the voters in Ohio.
Also, you can look at Michigan but even -- especially in Ohio, and because he has an advantage if you look at the latest polling in Iowa and Wisconsin among women voters in particular, they feel strong that the president has a good shot there and it's part of his firewall against some of these other potential losses in the states you were looking at earlier, for example, Florida and North Carolina.
KING: So, Jim, Jess uses the term firewall. What's the feeling inside the Romney campaign? They have to feel a little better about Florida, but what about those Midwest battleground numbers?
JIM ACOSTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, I have to tell you that the Romney campaign does feel like it accomplished one mission at that first debate. The governor did present himself in their view as an acceptable alternative to the president, but they have a saying inside the Romney campaign. They don't get too high with the polls are good, they don't get too low when the polls are not so good.
I did talk to a senior Romney adviser earlier today about some of these bizarre scenarios where perhaps the president might win the Electoral College, but lose the popular vote and vice versa, even that 269-260 electoral vote tie scenario. They said it's too early for all of that. They're still looking to win. And, yes, they do know that those Midwestern states, John, are a concern. They are going to be getting out there it looks like in the middle of next week, that that's on the itinerary as well are many other battleground states at this point.
But keep in mind, if this does become a nail-biter, one thing that should be mentioned, you recall the name Ben Ginsberg. He was a fixture during the Bush campaign in 2000, was a top lawyer for that campaign during the Florida recount. John, he is a top lawyer with the Romney campaign heading into the final stretch.
KING: Oh, my. We're talking lawyers already, 18 days out.
David Gergen, you have seen plenty of tight races. Governor Romney's campaigning late into the night. That tells you the urgency they apply to this. But when you look at the map right now, 18 days out, fast forward. What are we going to be doing on November 6?
DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: We're going to be up late, I think. Certainly we will have to wait for the Midwest to come in, it looks like such an important battleground. We know two things right now, that I think are very, very important. And that is the two debates have changed the campaign. They have made Governor Romney much, much more competitive. Before the first debate he was down on an average of two-and-a-half points in Florida. He's now up, you look at the average of the polls, he's up two in Florida and that's after both debates.
But even so, in many of these Midwestern states, even though the two debates have helped Mitt Romney, he still is a little behind and I think the president remains the favorite and we are starting to look at how important the ground game is and we know that the Obama team is extraordinarily well-organized.
KING: The ground game is important and, Jess, it's also you're running out of time to decide whether you're going to change your ads, whether you will start a new message. What's the latest from the president?
YELLIN: Well, the president, someone on his team seems to be getting paid by the one-liner. The president has unleashed his latest and he's accusing Romney of -- quote -- "Romnesia," so it's the newest way he's expressing his sense that the governor is changing positions, forgetting what he used to say and moving to soften his position and moving to the center.
And the joke he's using is that he has Romnesia, but it's covered by Obamacare. It's a preexisting condition. Ba-dum-bum.
KING: We will test -- ba-dum-bum, right. We will test the exit polls to see if that one works.
Jim, Governor Romney also's got a fresh attack, though, right?
ACOSTA: That's right, he does. He's been saying this, his running mate Paul Ryan has been saying this over the last couple of days, and that while the Obama campaign, the president might say Mitt Romney doesn't have a core, they say he doesn't have a plan, that he hasn't laid out an agenda for the next four years and they say that is a big contrast with what they're proposing right now.
And, John, I did get a response from the Romney campaign to this claim of Romnesia. They say the president is waging a small-minded campaign, sort of like harping on Big Bird and binders, and they see Romnesia as sort of fitting into that same binder, if you will.
Now, the Obama campaign as Jessica has been talking about, they also say that the president will be getting to his next four-year agenda and that we will be hearing that in the coming days. We reported this earlier today about what the Romney campaign was saying. We heard from the Obama campaign saying, don't worry, it's coming.
KING: We would hope that both of them get to the bigger issues, as opposed to the snappy one-liners.
David Gergen, set the stakes. One last debate. Will it be a game changer? GERGEN: I doubt it will be a game changer. I think on this one, the president does enter as the favorite. After all, foreign policy has been his strong suit. It's in his wheelhouse, and Mitt Romney has been clumsy at times in discussing foreign policy.
If Romney can come through with simply a tie, he should leave the evening happy because then he can go on, but if the president wins -- and he could win big in this kind of thing -- he's got a story to tell about bin Laden, of course -- then I think -- I think there are a number -- there are like three big things happening between now and the election. There's the debate, we have one more economic number and then we have the big get-out-the-vote effort. Right now, I think the president has a slight upper hand going into the debate, but we will see.
KING: Jim Acosta, Jessica Yellin, David Gergen, thanks so much.
Congressman Joe Walsh of Illinois under fire tonight for saying that abortion, get this, is never necessary to save the health or life of the mother. Leading OB-GYNs say he's wrong. Just ahead, a congresswoman for whom this issue hits close to home speaks out.
KING: Did the Boy Scouts of America keep the names of known child molesters hidden from police? We've got the documents they didn't want you to see ahead, ahead on 360.
KING: Tonight the uproar over what congressman Joe Walsh of Illinois said in his final head-to-head debate with his opponent, an Iraq war veteran Tammy Duckworth. When asked to clarify his position on abortion, the congressman said he was pro-life without exception. Then he went on to say abortion is never necessary to save the life or health of the mother.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JOE WALSH (R), ILLINOIS: There's no such exception as life of the mother, and as far as health of the mother, same thing. With advances in science and technology, there's -- health of the mother has been -- has become a tool for abortions any time under any reason.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Now, Congressman Walsh is not a medical doctor. Today, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists called his comments inaccurate. They released a statement saying, "Abortions are necessary in a number of circumstances to save the life of a woman or to preserve her health." They also said that more than 600 women in the United States die each year from pregnancy and childbirth related reasons, despite medical advances. Ectopic pregnancy and preeclampsia are among the life-threatening conditions a pregnant woman can develop. We asked Congressman Walsh to come on the program tonight, but our interviews requests weren't answered. The invitation, Congressman, still stands.
His comments have outraged many, including Democratic Congresswoman Jackie Speier of California. Last year, on the House floor, after New Jersey Republican Chris Smith graphically described the process of an abortion, she talked about her own abortion.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JACKIE SPEIER (D), CALIFORNIA: I had a procedure at 17 weeks, pregnant with a child that had moved from the vagina [SIC] into the cervix. And that procedure that you just talked about was a procedure that I endured. I lost a baby.
But for you to stand on this floor and to suggest, as you have, that somehow this is a procedure that is either welcomed or done cavalierly or done without any thought is preposterous.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: I spoke to Congresswoman Speier a short time ago.
KING: Congresswoman, let's get to Congressman Walsh's statement that, with advances in medical care, there's no such exception, should be no such exception when it comes to the life of the mother. You would say what?
SPEIER: I would tell him that women oftentimes find themselves in complications with pregnancy. It happens very frequently. Many times it can be addressed with bed rest. Sometimes it cannot, and it is in those situations, where infection becomes very highly probable, that women are at risk of losing their lives.
KING: Now, the congressman did qualify his position a bit today. He cited ectopic pregnancies and other, quote, "rare health issues" as the only instance which he says the mother and the baby would die if the fetus isn't aborted. Does that make any more sense to you?
SPEIER: No, it doesn't make any more sense to me. It's not rare. What is rare? I mean, women, maternal mortality in this country is 50th in the world. So we have more [SIC] women dying in pregnancy than 49 other countries. So we don't necessarily do a very good job of protecting the pregnant woman as much as we should.
And furthermore, there are severe risks associated with pregnancy. Many of them can be accommodated through rest and through medication, but sometimes they cannot. So it's not rare. Rare is one or two. We're talking about thousands.
KING: Well, the congressman, I'm going to use the word "rare" again -- forgive me, I know you dispute it. But he said these cases are, quote, "extremely rare" and unfortunately, he says, used by militant pro-choice movement to justify every single abortion. What do you make of that?
SPEIER: I think Mr. Walsh is -- is clueless. I absolutely think he's clueless.
And that's kind of surprising, considering he's been the father of a number of children. I mean, I've had many pregnancies. I have had miscarriages. I've had first trimester abortions. That's what a D&C is, when you miscarry. I've had second trimester abortions. That's what happened when I lost the fetus at 17 weeks. It had -- there were substantial complications to that pregnancy, and I was at risk.
I guess I'm frustrated by the fact that there are some members of the Congress that can't -- can't use science and medicine to make their statements. I mean, they make utterly false statements and say it as if it's fact when they're totally false.
KING: He says his opponent is raising this issue because Democrats can't run on the economy. Is there any legitimacy in that?
SPEIER: She's raising the issue because he made the most ridiculous statement in a debate, and of course, she's going to call him on it.
KING: How much do you see this playing nationally? Congressman Walsh, is he a mainstream Republican or is he an outlier. If you listen, for example, to Governor Romney and the campaign, he's made clear that he supports exceptions for rape, incest and the life of the mother.
SPEIER: I'd like to believe that Republicans and Democrats recognize that a pregnant woman at risk should have the opportunity to discuss with her physician whether or not to terminate a pregnancy, and that government has no business involving themselves in that decision.
KING: Congresswoman Jackie Speier, appreciate your time tonight.
SPEIER: My pleasure.
KING: Coming up, explosive claims that more than 1,000 Boy Scout leaders and volunteers banned for sexual or inappropriate contact with boys over a span of two decades. Was there a cover up?
Gary Tuchman goes looking for answers at the group's headquarters. We're "Keeping Them Honest," next.
KING: A 52-foot tall cowboy with a 75 gallon hat goes up in flames. The big state of Texas is mourning a big landmark tonight. What happened to Big Tex, when 360 continues?
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) KING: Tonight, "Keeping Them Honest," with a very disturbing question. Did the Boy Scouts cover up years of child molestation? An avalanche of documents has been released detailing over 1,200 scout leaders and volunteers over two decades who were banned after being accused of inappropriate conduct with boys. One attorney representing some of the allegedly abused former scouts says the documents show that hundreds, if not thousands, of unidentified men who should be registered as sex offenders are now roaming free in society.
The Boy Scouts organization disputes that the documents are secret files of hidden abuse by pedophiles. But when our Gary Tuchman went to find out more, he was met with something less than a welcome mat. Here's Gary's investigation.
GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Inside the national headquarters of the Boy Scouts of America, the Scout Oath is prominently displayed. Its final words? "Keep myself physically strong, mentally awake and morally straight."
Tragically, that "morally straight" part has been a significant challenge over the years for many men who supervised scouts. Challenges that have been meticulously tracked for decades in something Boy Scout leaders themselves dub the perversion files, secret records kept by the people who run the Boy Scouts of America.
Some of the secrets inside those perversion files are now finally being made public, thanks to lawyers who sued the scouts on behalf of boys who were allegedly molested.
Paul Mones won a lawsuit in Portland, Oregon.
PAUL MONES, ATTORNEY: It is remarkable that such a massive database of knowledge could be collected for well over a half a century and it would take a lawsuit against the Boy Scouts to bring to the light of day this information.
So in essence, here was basically an encyclopedia of destruction of the lives of these boys.
TUCHMAN: Here is that encyclopedia. It includes the names of 1,247 men and is also known as the confidential file or the ineligible volunteer list. The scouts banned these men from the organization but all too often, never told the police.
A case in point, 1983. A scout executive writing to the national office that "We need to place our assistant scout master on the confidential file for sexually molesting two scouts on a troop campout November 11 through 13, 1983."
The national office then placed the man on the confidential file and sent a letter saying, "We assume the assistant scout master is not to be prosecuted by the parents for this incident. If any charges are to be filed, please keep us informed." Police were told nothing.
As far as we know, this man has been free to do whatever he wants with children in the years since.
Another attorney who has worked to bring the list to light says the Boy Scouts of America's primary concern was not for the victims but to keep the information from the public.
TIM KOSNOFF, ATTORNEY: There were files that showed that molesters, even after they were removed, were easily able to defeat the file system by maybe changing a middle initial or a birth date and then sneaking back in.
TUCHMAN: Like this case, 1965, a letter to scout headquarters: "The assistant scout master whose troop met at a church has definitely admitted being guilty to several acts of perversion. The minister of the church is doing his best to protect Boy Scouting, and keep this incident as quiet as possible. But of course, if the parents do file charges, then, of course, it will come out in the open."
But it did not come out in the open. And in 1978, 13 years after he went on the perversion list, here is his Boy Scout I.D. Card, which showed the perpetrator again signed up to be an assistant scout master before being kicked out again.
These files contain names from 1965 to 1985. Some files from other years have been released, but nothing over the last two decades.
(on camera) Officials with the Boy Scouts of America, based here in Irving, Texas, decided they would do an on-camera interview with CNN, but only under one condition, that they select the interviewer. They didn't want me to do it.
Of course, CNN policy is we decide who conducts our interviews.
(voice-over) So I came to Texas anyway to see if the president of the scouts would talk to me.
(on camera) Hello, how are you today?
(voice-over) The lobby receptionist sent us next door to the National Boy Scouts Museum, where I was met by a public relations man for the scouts, Ed Stewart.
(on camera) I'm Gary Tuchman. CNN. The Boy Scouts said they would do an interview with CNN, but they wanted to pick the reporter. We don't pick the scout masters for the Boy Scouts. You guys don't pick the reporters for CNN. So the question is, will you still do the interview with us?
ED STEWART, PUBLIC RELATIONS: Well, let me go -- I'll see if I can grab Darren, to see if well...
TUCHMAN: Darren is the guy who approved the interview.
STEWART: He's got (UNINTELLIGIBLE), OK?
TUCHMAN: Yes. OK. (voice-over) When the P.R. Man came back, he said the Boy Scout president still did not want to talk to me, but he did decide to talk to local broadcasters in Dallas. This is what the president told our affiliate, WFAA.
WAYNE PERRY, PRESIDENT, BOY SCOUTS OF AMERICA: There's no question that there are times in the past -- these go back to 40, 50 years old -- where we did not do the job that we should have, and for that and for people hurt, and for that, we're profoundly sorry.
MONES: These child molesters in the scouts didn't molest one kid. We would find often in these files that numbers of kids were molested. Seven or eight kids were molested. In the case in Portland, Oregon, 17 of the approximately 30 kids in the troop were victims of sexual molestation.
TUCHMAN: Boy Scout officials claim they've kept the list secret to protect victims. They do say they now require computer background checks of workers. And they mandate suspected child abuse be reported to police. But they still maintain a list of deviant scouting leaders. The list from the most recent years is still secret, and the scouts are fighting in court to keep it that way.
KING: Gary Tuchman joins us now. And Gary, let's start where you left off. After all this, why are the scouts still fighting to keep this most recent list secret?
TUCHMAN: Well, John, that's the first question I would have liked to ask the president. Historically, the scouts have said keeping these lists secret protects the victims, but child abuse experts and advocates almost unanimously tell us that is totally not true, that that's a red herring, that's disingenuous, it's to protect the organization.
And the shame about this, John, is the Boy Scouts is an amazing organizations -- amazing organization. Millions of boys over the years, over the decades, have prospered and thrived, including me. I was a Boy Scout, too.
And what this organization is realizing, or what they should realize, is that by protecting the bad people, they impugn the good people, because there's no list. Everyone is saying was it my scout leader like this? So for these good people -- that's the majority, the vast majority of the scout leaders -- it's impugning them by not having the list out there of the bad people.
KING: Excellent point and excellent reporting. Gary, thanks.
Up next, more on the exclusive report we brought to you last night with the so-called Internet troll who moderated the online forum called Jailbait. Is he sorry for all the creepy things he did on Reddit? Our Drew Griffin's exclusive ahead.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) KING: Tonight, a "AC 360 Follow." More on our exclusive interviews with one of the Internet's devious characters, a so-called troll who took great pleasure in offending people.
On the Web site Reddit, under the screen name Violentacrez, he created a forum called Jailbait, posting pictures of young girls without their knowledge or permission, ostensibly for men to look at. Violentacrez was infamous on Reddit, moderating many other offensive forums: jokes about rape, pictures of dead children, intrusive photos of women in public, you name it.
He did this all under the veil of anonymity, hiding behind a screen name until he was outed by the Web site Gawker last week. Soon after, Michael Brutsch was fired from his real-life job.
Last night we showed you much of Drew Griffin's exclusive interview with Brutsch, and it got an enormous response online. Tonight, here's more of what he had to say.
DREW GRIFFIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Do you think it's unfair that we know who you are now?
MICHAEL BRUTSCH, OUTED AS INTERNET TROLL: Not really. I don't think so. Obviously, I would, you know, rather that it weren't, but I can say in the long run that it's all my fault. I take 100 percent responsibility for everything I've done. And I don't, you know, I don't blame the people, whoever they are, who outed me. You know, that's -- it was probably bound to happen at some point anyway.
GRIFFIN: This is like a really bad tattoo, huh? You're never going to get rid of this.
BRUTSCH: I'm going to regret this for the rest of my life, however long that may be.
GRIFFIN: Michael, what would you say to the guy, gal, anonymous person, out there now who sees "Violentacrez is taken down, I've got an in"?
BRUTSCH: To the person who thinks they can be the next Violentacrez, I would hope that, should they try, the people of Reddit that manage it, that own it, that administer it, would step up and would finally put a stop to this kind of crap.
I -- I take full responsibility for my actions, but obviously, if I hadn't been allowed, you know, to run wild, I wouldn't have. And others are going to do it.
KING: A lot more we're following tonight. Deborah Feyerick joins us with a "360 News & Business Bulletin" -- Deb.
DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, John. Hi, everyone.
Well, a top Lebanese intelligence official known to oppose the Syrian regime was targeted and killed today in a car bombing in Beirut. At least two others were killed in the attack. That's according to local news reports. Hours later, there were reports of unrest in other areas of Lebanon.
Lance Armstrong received a standing ovation when he spoke tonight at the 15th anniversary celebration for his Livestrong charity. He told the crowd it has been a difficult week. Due to his doping scandal, Armstrong stepped down as chairman of the organization this week. The seven-time Tour de France winner, who never failed a drug test, has denied the doping allegations.
Well, it was the worst day on Wall Street since June. The Dow fell 205 points, amid weak earnings reports from companies including McDonald's and General Electric.
And a sad day for the Texas State Fair. A fire destroyed its long-time icon, Big Tex. The 52-foot fiberglass cowboy with a 75- gallon hat was a symbol of the fair for 60 years.
We'll be right back.
KING: That does it for this edition of 360. Thanks for watching. "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts now.