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ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT
Up to 10,000 Militant Fighters Now In Iraq, Syria; Kerry: "Words Are Cheap" But Promising; Will Thad Cochran Win Mississippi Primary?; Bill Clinton Comes To Hillary's Defense; Flight 370 Radar Data May Have Been Wrong
Aired June 24, 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, American officials now telling CNN up to 10,000 militant fighters are in the country across the border in Syria.
Plus Bill Clinton riding to Hillary's rescue, but did he just make things a whole lot worse?
And World Cup soccer player takes a bite, literally, out of the competition and it's not the first time he's done it. Talk about a fetish. Let's go OUTFRONT.
Good evening, everyone. I'm Erin Burnett. OUTFRONT tonight, the fight to save Iraq. Ninety American military advisers have just arrived in Iraq just as U.S. officials say there are now 10,000 terrorist militant fighters in the country and across the border in Syria. That may not sound like a lot, but they're doing a lot of damage. The militant group, ISIS continuing a deadly march through Iraq taking over towns and cities.
These are new pictures posted on a Twitter account associated with ISIS. They allegedly are taken in the northern province of Nineveh. We haven't been able to confirm the authenticity. These are the pictures they're posting, with launching rockets, men lined up before they were shot and executed.
As you can see from behind and much closer to Baghdad, the video that we're going to show you here posted on YouTube. Again, we haven't been able to independently confirm this either, but this is what it supposedly shows, Iraqi security forces allegedly fighting ISIS rebels in Fallujah.
The Iraqi army displaying rebels killed on the hood of a Humvee as atrocities obviously mount on both sides. This comes from the United States top diplomat right now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN KERRY, SECRETARY OF STATE: Words are cheap. I'm not taking anything I hear to the bank and saying, wow, it's going to be solved.
(END VIDEO CLIP) BURNETT: We'll have much more from our interview. Jim Sciutto sat down with Secretary of State John Kerry in just a moment. But we begin with our Pentagon correspondent, Barbara Starr. Barbara, I know you're getting more information from the U.S. military about how many ISIS fighters there are. I guess that crucial question of what's a lot, what's an intimidating number and what's a rag tag not large number?
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, the latest estimate, Erin, is that there's about 10,000 members of ISIS spread out between Syria and Iraq, 7,000 in Syria, maybe 3,000 in Iraq and about maybe 3,000 to 5,000 foreign fighters, nobody is really sure. You know, as far as intimidation, there's a couple of crucial, crucial centers of gravity here.
One is Baghdad. That's the main reason U.S. military advisers are going to start their work around the Baghdad area. They want to find out if ISIS has the capability to move into Baghdad and make a run for that city. That is something the U.S. Could most likely not let stand.
You can't let Baghdad fall, you can't let run for the Jordanian border. Those are two crucial must haves. So it may be a matter again not so much of the sheer numbers on the ground, but ISIS' capability. It is now functioning as a military force with organization and that makes them even more dangerous.
What does the U.S. have in hand? Well, you only have to look in the Persian Gulf, there are seven Navy warships in the gulf, about a thousand marines, dozens of war planes and helicopters on standby. Look, if the president were to order air strikes to counter ISIS, the U.S. military could carry them out.
Maybe one of the most interesting things something else the military's doing right now. They're flying 30 missions a day armed over Iraq to collect more intelligence, more information. That's 30 U.S. aircraft flying over Iraq every day collecting intelligence. Erin, we haven't seen that since 2011 when U.S. troops left.
BURNETT: Interesting comparison there, Barbara Starr, thank you very much. As Barbara said we haven't seen that since U.S. troops left. But of course, the president remains firm that he'll only be putting in these 300 people who are not classified as, quote, unquote, "Boots on the ground."
Secretary of State John Kerry just wrapped up a visit to Iraq, went in for the day, out of the night, back to the day, pushing for the Iraqi government to act. Jim Sciutto sat down with the secretary in the northern city of Irbil.
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The Iraqi military battled ISIS in Fallujah today as the country's air force targeted militants claiming control over a key oil refinery. It was against this violent backdrop that Secretary of State John Kerry traveled to northern Iraq to press Iraq's divided leaders to join together or lose any chance of defeating ISIS and saving their country.
(on camera): In your time here, have you seen any hard evidence of any of the parties involved willing to make compromises?
KERRY: Words are cheap. I fully -- I'm not taking anything I hear to the bank and saying, wow, it's going to be solved, but I'm hearing things that indicate to me that if they follow through on the things they are saying, there is a capacity to have a new government, there could be a unity government.
SCIUTTO: Twelve days ago, June 12th, the president said that my team is working around the clock on options to respond. During that 12 days since, ISIS has captured an additional 11 cities and towns. Hasn't the delay in the administration's response strengthened ISIS during that time?
KERRY: I think the real question, Jim, is not sort of what happened in those days, the question is what can happen going forward to have a strategy that's really going to work.
SCIUTTO: ISIS has rapidly grown in strength and numbers since the start of the civil war in neighboring Syria. Something Kerry acknowledged, though he rejected the idea that America's failure to intervene militarily in Syria helped spark the crisis in Iraq. Kerry had pushed for air strikes on Syria, but President Obama ultimately decided against action.
KERRY: The reason that the decision to strike Syria didn't happen was because we ultimately came up with a better solution after the president made his decision to strike.
SCIUTTO: On chemical weapons, but that hasn't --
KERRY: But the purpose of the strike was to send a message to Assad, don't use chemical weapons. Not a strike that was calculated to end the regime or get involved in the war directly. It was to end the use of chemical weapons. We found a better solution. We got all of the chemical weapons out.
SCIUTTO: But ISIS has only grown as a threat during that time period.
KERRY: You're absolutely correct. ISIS has grown as a threat because countless numbers of Jihadists are flocking to Syria to oppose Assad.
SCIUTTO: As in Syria spending these last few days with Secretary Kerry, I did not get a sense that he or the administration is champing at the bit to use military action in Iraq. The focus remains very much on a political agreement. That said, they are far from certain that Iraqi leaders will deliver that political agreement.
Secretary Kerry said repeatedly the number one driver towards political compromise is the dire situation in Iraq, but even with that they're not certain, the next two weeks are key. He'll be watching, we'll be watching.
BURNETT: All right, Jim Sciutto, thank you very much. Joining me OUTFRONT now, CNN military analyst, Retired Colonel Peter Mansoor. He was serving under General Petraeus during the surge in Iraq.
Colonel, Barbara Starr, you know, reported something really important here on ISIS said that U.S. Officials now say ISIS is functioning, to quote them, "an increasingly capable military force."
That happened really quickly. The U.S. government went knowing nothing about this group, not talking about it, not mentioning it so saying they're incredibly militarily capable in just days. How could they have missed on something that's such a significant threat?
COL. PETER MANSOOR (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: It shows that they lack sources inside Syria. Look, ISIS has been inside Syria for years, regenerating its combat power. It's only in the recent days and weeks when it came across the border in Iraq that we're able to see how effective it's become as a military force. I think what it shows is that our sources inside Syria are lacking and we have a dearth of information on what's going on in that country.
BURNETT: When you look at the space you're talking about in the Middle East, when you look at Syria and you look at Iraq, you're talking about an incredibly large swath of space for 10,000 fighters to be controlling. Is 10,000 fighters something that surprises you that it is so few and makes it easy to defeat or is that number big enough to be a real threat?
MANSOOR: Well, 10,000 committed fighters is a real threat, but not necessarily enough to take Baghdad. But enough to take the areas of Iraq in the north and the west that they have seized. Now whether they can hold it remains to be seen, but they're getting support from the locals and the former Iraqi army as well. So they have a lot of support from locals on the ground, which is enabling them to control the territory that they've taken already.
BURNETT: And Jim Sciutto asked Secretary Kerry about one of these crucial issues, which is how quickly suddenly ISIS went from not being a threat to being a threat. I hear your point that it's came out of Syria and the U.S. has poor intelligence there. He asked the secretary, look, the administration has not responded militarily to this threat, that you agreed with, not put boots on the ground. Has ISIS strengthened in just the past 12 days as the U.S. government has known about it and done nothing, the secretary dodged the question, what do you think?
MANSOOR: I will make two points. In the last 12 days even if we had wanted to strike ISIS, could we have done so effectively? The answer is no. We didn't have the targeting infrastructure on the ground. We didn't have aircraft within reach. We don't really know what to hit. Strikes right now could do more damage than good if you hit civilian targets and so forth, you could actually increase support for ISIS on the ground.
The second point is the one that Secretary Kerry did make, and that is that it's this very crisis that's creating the conditions for Baghdad. If you ease the crisis with air strikes or some other form of military action, you could take the pressure off the Iraqi leaders to form a government that would be effective going forward.
BURNETT: Colonel, last night on this program, former intelligence operative who obviously a lot of experience in the Middle East said that he was very concerned about the risk to the United States, that if ISIS were able to consolidate control, that they'd then be dreaming of Chicago, Boston or New York.
Vice President Cheney, obviously crucial architect of the original Iraq war was on a radio show today, the "Hugh Hewitt Show." And the host there asked him whether the United States would get through this decade without a massive attack on the homeland. Dick Cheney responded -- I want to read his words directly. I think there will be another attack. The next time it's likely to be far deadlier than the last one. I'm saying it would go far beyond box cutters. What do you think?
MANSOOR: I think it's pure speculation. After 9/11 everyone thought there would be another terrorist attack on the United States within a decade. And it hasn't happened. Because our defenses have improved. We've been on the offensive overseas and creating problems for jihadists in their sanctuaries and a little bit of luck and that always helps.
But going forward, it's pure speculation to say that there's going to be an attack on the scale of 9/11 or greater. We don't know is the fact and we just need to continue to do what we're doing in terms of defending the homeland and pursuing the terrorists overseas and having good intelligence on the threats to the United States as they emerge.
BURNETT: All right, Colonel, thank you very much. Always good to see you.
OUTFRONT next, the nastiest political race in America down to the wire in a run off tonight. We'll go live to Mississippi just as the polls are closing. A new lead in the search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. A big development of some data we'd heard about that is completely bogus.
And -- well, the most goals scored in the World Cup is decades. Is this ball the reason?
BURNETT: Breaking news. A major primary election night in America. At this moment polls are closing across the country. But the first set at 7:00. We are going to have many more closing at 8:00. There's one particularly nasty race we've been following closely on this show.
It's in Mississippi. A Tea Party favorite is challenging a longtime senator. Mississippi, one of seven states from the east coast all the way to lesser mountains all the way out in Utah are voting tonight.
And joining me now is John King. John, you know this better than anybody on the planet. These
obviously are crucial primaries and midterms. What are the biggest ones tonight?
JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: One of the things we're looking for, Erin, and it is good to see you, is whether after Eric Cantor lost his primary, the House majority leader last week, is there any more great Tea Party energy, Tea Party upsets out there.
You mentioned the Mississippi race. That is a classic establishment versus the Tea Party race. So this is the second and final round in the race -- Thad Cochran on your left, Chris McDaniel on your right.
Cochran is the 36 years senate incumbent, Chris McDaniel running against him saying he's been in Washington too long. He is a big spending Republican, a pork barrel guy. And Chris McDaniel, makes the case he is not critical enough, he says, of Senator Cochran against President Obama.
Thad Cochran, on the other hand, is saying look around Mississippi, look at all the money I've brought home, look at the naval shipyards, look at the courthouses, look at the highways. He's actually campaigning on his experience and his ability to bring the pork home.
Interesting to watch here, Erin, do the Tea Party voters turn out again? The primary was just three weeks ago and Senator Cochran has been trying to get African-Americans, mostly Democrats, to come vote in this runoff to help him. We will watch that one as it plays out.
Another race with a Tea Party edge to it is in Oklahoma. Tom Coburn is retiring a bit early because he's battling cancer. Two conservatives in this race, James Langford is a Congressman, , T.W. Shannon on the right there, is the former speaker of the House. These guys are both conservatives. Make no mistake about it, either one of them would the Republican base would be relatively happy with the November.
But the Tea Party forces have gone with speaker Shannon. If he were to win this nomination, then win in November, that would make two African-American Republicans in the Senate. Cory Booker of New Jersey is the Democratic African-American senator.
One more, Erin, close to where you are out in Harlem tonight, Charlie Rangel, he has been in the Congress for 44 years, a longtime Democrat. He's had some ethics questions in recent years. He said either way this would be his class campaign. The question is you see the gentleman on the left, the state senator, Adriano Espaillat. Rangel beat him by just 1,100 votes last time. This is the test whether Rangel can hang on this time. It is also a test of demographics. Most Americans think of Harlem as the center of African-American business and culture in the United States. Well, guess what, it is now plurality Latino, while there are new younger white voters have moved into that district as well. We'll watch tonight, Erin, to see if Charlie Rangel can hang on one more time.
BURNETT: That is going to be a fascinating one. And also, as you said, the possibility that you have two African-American Republicans in the Senate to one Democrat, I think that's something that would shock a lot of people and not something that Democrats usually talk about.
Thanks very much to John King.
And now Dana Bash is in Jackson, Mississippi, with much more on that contentious race John King was just talking about.
DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It may be a Republican runoff between GOP incumbent Senator Thad Cochran and Tea Party challenger Chris McDaniel, but to these Democrats allowed by law to vote, party doesn't matter.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I voted for Thad Cochran.
BASH: Have you ever voted in a Republican primary before?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have not.
BASH: Who did you vote for?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thad Cochran.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm a life-ling Democrats, race Democrat.
BASH: So, why do you like Thad Cochran so much?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know, he's tested. And I just like what he's done for this state.
BASH: This is all part of a concerted effort by establishment Republicans to beat back the Tea Party. A pro-Cochran super PAC spending big bucks to get out democratic votes for Cochran, especially African-Americans.
SEN. THAD COCHRAN (R), MISSISSIPPI: I'm really committed to trying to represent the views and interests of all of the people of Mississippi.
BASH: But Republicans nationwide see this not just about Mississippi. It is this year's last big national fight for heart and soul of the GOP.
How much do you feel pressure personally about that?
COCHRAN: Well, I feel that a vote for me is a vote for experienced representation in Washington.
BASH: Nervous national Republicans from around the country are all in for Cochran. John McCain was a closer.
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: Thad Cochran, a good, decent, honorable servant.
BASH: The chamber of commerce with a Hail Mary TV ad with former star quarterback, a Mississippi native, Brett Farve.
BRETT FARVE, FORMER MISSISSIPPI QUARTERBACK: I urge you to stay with a proven and respected leader, Thad Cochran.
BASH: But they're up against genuine anti-Washington sentiment fueled by a candidate who can articulate grassroots frustration.
CHRIS MCDANIEL (R), MISSISSIPPI SENATORIAL CANDIDATE: Senator Cochran has been the local (ph) Republican for years. He's confirming that now by his outreach. He has abandoned conservatives in this state.
BASH: National Tea Party groups already invested millions in McDaniel as their hope of defeating a senate GOP incumbent. They have re- double efforts, even sending in game show host Chuck Woolery.
This has been the nastiest GOP battle in the country. A conservative blogger arrested for breaking into Cochran's ailing wife's nursing home and briefly posting a picture.
And this week Cochran's daughter Kate wrote a facebook rant against McDaniel declining his quote "lack of wisdom." He relies solely on Jesus, the constitution and common sense," end quote.
McDaniel's campaign then put a post on his facebook page and with Kate Cochran's quote and the hashtag, thank you, Kate, and who's your daddy.
BURNETT: That's pretty interesting thing, as you were saying, but I'm thinking that would have been manna to his ears.
What are you hearing about turnouts? Because I know a lot of it will come down to that.
BASH: You know, anecdotally turnout seems to be up across the state. Usually in a runoff, turnout is very much down for a primary never mind a general election. But that does not seem to be the case here.
For example, Erin, most of the morning I was at a precinct which is in a predominantly African-American community and already I just called to check in before coming on, voter turnout is triple, triple what it was on primary day three weeks ago. So that would be good news for the Cochran campaign because those are the almost exclusively Cochran voters, the question is whether or not that, too, is happening with McDaniel voters who are enthusiastic before and even more so now.
BURNETT: This is going to be one of the most impressive races just to watch and see what happens tonight.
All right, well, Dana Bash, thank you very much. And of course, those polls are closing in just a few moments time. We are going to keep you posted on the breaking news as we get a decision there in terms of McDaniel versus Cochran.
But we have breaking news already on this primary night because polls have already closed in a special election in Florida to fill the seat of Congressman Trey Radel. He stepped down after pleading guilty to cocaine possession. Those polls just closed 20 minutes ago. But we are able to project Tea Party backed Republican Curt Clawson will win his seat. Clawson received major endorsements from Sarah Palin and Rand Paul. He will serve out the remainder of Radel's term but will have to actually seek reelection in November.
And still to come, Bill Clinton steps up today to his wife's defense, but did he cause a bigger problem?
Plus, an American kidnapped by pirates lived to tell his story only to OUTFRONT.
And the bite that shocked soccer fans around the world. Our Jeanne Moos sinks her teeth into this story.
BURNETT: Bill Clinton defending Hillary against accusations she's out of touch after her comments that the family was, quote, "dead broke" when they left the White House in 2001.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It is factually true that we were several million dollars in debt. Everybody now assumes that what happened in the intervening years was automatic. I'm shocked that it's happened. I'm shocked that people still want me to come give talks.
She's not out of touch. And she advocated and worked as a senator for things that were good for ordinary people. And before that, all her life, and the people asking her questions should put this into some sort of context.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Joining me now, Margaret Hoover, John Avlon and Peter Beinart.
OK, great to have all of you with us.
So John, Bill says Hillary is not out of touch.
JOHN AVLON, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. Well, there's a reason Obama called him the secretary of explaining stuff, although, he did say so. He's really good at putting things in context. And here he is, you know, standing up for his wife, putting her life in comments and her comments in context. And they always sound reasonable when they come from bubba.
BURNETT: I mean, quite smarter. Bill Clinton pointed out they were several million dollars in debt, it is a fact. Whoever, you know, leaving the White House at a young age, it was pretty clear that wouldn't remain the case. We all know he is now estimated to be worth $100 million. Here is what Bill Clinton said, though, is the real issue today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLINTON: I think I had the lowest net worth of any American president in the 20th century when I took office. But I still could have been tone deaf. And, you know, now I don't and we've got a good life. And I'm grateful for it. But I feel we go to our local grocery store on the weekend. We talk to people in our town. We know what's going on.
The real issue is, if you've been fortunate enough to be successful, are you now out of touch and insensitive to the agonizing struggles other people are facing?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Fair point, Margaret, that he makes. However --
MARGARET HOOVER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: How agonizing are the struggles of the folks in Scarsdale at the local grocery store he's going to?
BURNETT: Which would be, I'm sure, like a Whole Foods on steroids or something?
HOOVER: Well, I mean, he is one of the wealthiest neighborhoods in the country.
But to his point, income inequality is going to be one of the major things in 2016. It is a very fair point. What he didn't get to and what is yet to be decided and seen is how team Clinton or how Hillary Clinton is going to handle this major issue. Is she going to be DLC (ph) Bill Clinton, is she going to serve take a middle road and suggest that, yes, you can be wealthy and in touch or is she is going to go to try to get the Obama coalition? Is she going to do what you see the far left doing these days? I'm sure Peter will comment which is Bill de Blasio, Elizabeth Warren, tax -- the way to solve income inequality, is it tax the rich and spend it on program, social programs. It is essentially new deal liberalism, but re-bounced for a new age.
PETER BEINART, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS: Right. But --
BURNETT: Well, it is an easy way to get votes, too, Peter.
BEINART: Right. But the things she is going for is she doesn't have right now. Looks like a significant Democratic primary. The people who are really wealthy is when you can match up their personal wealth with their policy and say, as Barack Obama did about Mitt Romney, he's personally out of touch because he hangs out with rich people and his policies are going to benefit the rich.
Now, if Elizabeth Warren ran against Hillary Clinton from the left of the Democratic Party, she would say exactly that. It could hurt her. But in a general election with a Republican candidate who is not likely to be able to argue that their policies are better for the poor than Hillary Clinton's, I don't think it's as much of a liability. MARGARETH HOOVER, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: But that is the question, is
does she turn out the Obama coalition? Is the Obama coalition is the new Democratic coalition? Does it turn out for Hillary? Does she get the millenniums? Does she get all the African-American? Does she get the left Democratic base?
BEINART: She's Republicans.
BEINART: How do you always do it?
BURNETT: So you know she makes these comments, you know, including when she tries to say, you know, look, you know, whoa is me. We pay -- I worked hard to get this money. And they did, but we paid our taxes and other really rich people don't -- which is a really strange thing to say when you're worth $100 million.
But Bill Clinton goes out and has said things in the past that have hurt her this time around. This is what he said his role is going to be in 2016.
Oh, sorry. I'm going to read it. All right. "I'm a bit player." I wanted to hear him say, "I'm a bit player."
Anyway, "I'm a bit player. Whatever she wants to do is fine with me."
OK, Peter, here's the thing, whatever you want to say about Bill Clinton, he's not a bit player.
BEINART: No, if you read the books written about the 2008 presidential campaign, what becomes entirely clear is he's an extremely good surrogate for her because he can always get on TV and he's a very gifted explainer. But he's totally uncontrollable.
I don't believe that Hillary's people put him out to do that. What you say in the 2008 campaign was he freelanced all the time.
BURNETT: I like that word, freelanced, sometimes to her deep peril.
BEINART: Sometimes it worked. Sometimes it really hurt like when he got into tussles over race, when he said that Barack Obama had won like Jesse Jackson in South Carolina. But there is no one more powerful to tell him not to do it.
BURNETT: All right. Now, I've got to squeeze one other story here. Have you seen this video yet? Viewers have you seen this video yet? This happened today.
(VIDEO CLIP PLAYS)
BURNETT: It looks like my son when he's not feeling very well.
Nancy Pelosi is singing wholeheartedly, the rest of them look at best incredibly awkward and at worst terribly constipated.
BURNETT: I'm sorry. Longtime political commentator Ron Fournier tweeted the video. "I've watched killers being executed by the state of Arkansas. They look happier."
AVLON: McConnell in particular, you can tell he's trying to -- he doesn't really know the words. There's this -- you want the symbolism of brotherhood, but, boy, he ain't feeling it.
BURNETT: They're sitting there swaying, they don't know the words.
BEINART: Unfortunate this is happening the same day they're sending out poll watchers in Mississippi in order to try to intimidate black people trying to vote.
BURNETT: Yes -- on this day, yes.
AVLON: That is the urgency, right? Fifty years after Freedom Summer, 51 years after Medgar Evers is killed, we've got a racially charged election in Mississippi. So, it's a reminder that these issues are still urgent. The fact that our Senate leaders can't remember the words to "We Shall Overcome", that's awkward and embarrassing, but it's not urgent as the reality check --
HOOVER: But thanks for reinforcing the negative stereotype on Republicans, guys. One more time.
BEINART: They don't know the words. That's their fault.
BURNETT: Thanks to all.
Well, a new search area and some major league faulty data. All right. I'm talking about Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. So, tonight, has been nearly four months since the plane disappeared. And now, we're about to find out that Australia will start hunting in a new place. And there are new reports that officials are relying on faulty radar data.
So, remember how Malaysian radar showed the missing plane dramatically changed altitudes. They said it went up to 45,000 feet, and then down as low as 4,000 feet? Remember those reports? Well, apparently, they were dead wrong.
According to "The New York Times", the plane remained in controlled flight flying steadily for hours after it lost contact.
OUTFRONT tonight, CNN aviation analyst Miles O'Brien.
Miles, that's a dramatically different scenario, not just in terms of how far the plane could have gone but in terms of what might have happened in that cockpit.
MILES O'BRIEN, CNN AVIATION ANALYST: Yes, it is, Erin. And here we are four months later, as you point out, and this is just now coming to light? Now, we've been talking for a long time about how inaccurate these military radar altitude reports could be even under the best circumstances. U.S. radar finely calibrated, finely tuned, the best in the world still has plus or minus 3,000, 4,000 feet on a good day.
So, the Malaysian radar that we don't even know what the maintenance records are, what the circumstances were, all kinds of altitude assumptions were built into that. Why investigators spent a lot of time considering that, we don't know.
But all this goes back to what we've been saying all along, if they just lay their cards on the table a little bit, the public might help them out a little bit, as they have here in identifying this southern arc.
BURNETT: If the plane was at a steady altitude, let's assume that ends up being the case, wouldn't that have changed how much farther it could have flown, right, if you're not using that fuel to go up and down at the beginning, would that impact search area?
O'BRIEN: Yes, generally speaking, the higher you go, the more range you have. So, we know it was flying in the south. We know where that last ping was and that identifies an arc. And we know it was in the air for 7 1/2 hours because I presume that last ping was right before it went down.
So, that's a fair amount of information, but that still only gets you to about a 24,000 square mile swath of ocean. What happened was, if you will recall, they were headed in that direction, then they heard those pings which we now know were an errant ping or pings from something else. And that area of the ocean has been searched. There's no wreckage there. It's been such a slow motion thing. Why is this taking so long?
BURNETT: Well, and talk about the Malaysian authorities, right? They publicly denied another news report. There was another news report recently saying the pilot's been identified as the prime suspect. Reports that at the center of this continue to surface again and again.
Do you think they have more information than they're letting on?
O'BRIEN: Oh, I'm sure they have more information than they're letting on. That's been the story of this story. There's been all kinds of information they haven't laid out on the table.
And, you know, this is a case where you have a potential criminal investigation where it's hard to fault investigators from holding back information. But the fact is, I don't see anything new in these reports which are second and third hand anyway.
BURNETT: All right. Miles, thank you very much.
O'BRIEN: You're welcome.
BURNETT: And still to come, a soccer player makes a real impression on the competition with his teeth. What a delicious bite. Jeanne Moos has the story.
And an American held weeks by pirates is finally freed, but is the ransom paid for that now funding terror?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CAPTAIN WREN THOMAS, HELD CAPTIVE BY PIRATES: My chief officer, he was screaming, we have to get to the engine room. They're on board, they're on board.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Stunning new reports of Boko Haram terrorists attacked a village in northeastern Nigeria. They set the entire village on fire, killed 30 men and took 60 women and girls as captives. Officials say this includes several children between the ages of 3 and 12. This is the same terrorist group that kidnapped 300 school girls over two months ago.
The #bringbackourgirls was so hot around the world. People have given up. But you know what? More than 200 of those girls are still missing. They haven't been found, they haven't been returned.
And now, there's concerns about where this group is getting all of their money.
CNN talks to an American kidnapped by pirates and held hostage for weeks. He was freed in exchange for ransom cash. But here's the question, did that cash going -- end up going to fund terrorists?
Kyung Lah is OUTFRONT.
THOMAS: My chief officer was screaming we have to get to the engine room. They're on board, they're on board.
KYUNG LAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Nigerian pirates armed and gunning for American captain, Wren Thomas.
(on camera): How many pirates?
LAH: Were they all armed?
LAH: What were they armed with?
LAH (voice-over): Aboard his boat the Sea Retriever, just off the coast of Nigeria, ferrying supplies to local oil operations. It was 3:00 in the morning, October 23rd of last year. Thomas was running for his life.
THOMAS: It was my chief officer. And he was pulling on me, screaming at me that the pirates were on board, that we needed to get down to the safe room.
LAH: The safe room, a tank room behind the engine room with the watertight door. Thomas, one other American crew member and nearly all their Nigerian crew made it inside. The pirates had pulled up in a small power boat next to Thomas' ship and simply climbed aboard.
With no armed guards to stop them, the pirates fanned out through the ship finally cornering Thomas and his crew inside the hot tank room for six excruciating hours.
THOMAS: They kept the hole big enough that they stuck a barrel of one of their guns in there and started shooting.
LAH (on camera): They started firing.
THOMAS: They started firing rounds in there.
LAH (voice-over): A life or death moment Thomas had predicted.
Thomas worked for Edison Chouest Offshore, a contractor that supplies and supports a multimillion dollar Chevron oil operation off the coast of Nigeria. Months before, he had e-mailed the operations coordinator of Edison Chouest, writing that he was feeling threatened by his own crew. He added, "I am also asking to not return to Nigeria."
THOMAS: They knew there were security issues. They knew about all the threats.
LAH (on camera): They told you that things would improve.
LAH (voice-over): But the problems never stopped. Edison Chouest did not reply to CNN's requests for comment.
On the fateful trip, dock workers announced over a two-way radio where the ship was going, a major security breach.
THOMAS: The pirates told me they knew where we was going. They knew my cargo. They knew my position. They knew what track I was taking.
LAH: He was taken captive beginning 18 days of hell in the Nigerian jungle and swamps for Thomas and the one other American crew member. Barely any sleep and barely any food. A package of ramen noodles on days the pirates fed them.
(on camera): Did you think you were going to die?
THOMAS: I knew I was going to die. We knew it every day, every night. LAH (voice-over): The pirates wanted $2 million for their American
captives. Thomas believes the ransom paid was far less, though CNN cannot confirm who paid the ransom or who received it.
But the captain says the FBI told him the terrorist group Boko Haram profits from these kidnappings. The same Boko Haram which in April kidnapped nearly 300 Nigerian girls and has unleashed devastating bomb attacks in the region.
THOMAS: It makes me angry knowing that, yes, that my kidnapping helped somebody, the ransom helped somebody, knowing that this money's going somewhere bad.
LAH: The FBI would not comment, but experts say while Somali pirates have been weakened, the number of piracy incidents off the coast of Nigeria is only on the increase.
YAN ST. PIERRE, CEO, MODERN SECURITY CONSULTING GROUP: Essentially Boko Haram getting funding through piracy for services they provide at one point or another to the pirate groups, that could have been smuggling, that could have been personnel, weapons.
LAH: Even though the pirates released him, Captain Thomas is still not free.
THOMAS: It's ruined me. My wife wants the man back that she lost when I went over there the last time. And I'll never come back. I'm still in Nigeria.
LAH: Kyung Lah, CNN, Houston.
BURNETT: We'll continue to cover the story, of who is funding terror groups around the world.
Still to come, a World Cup soccer player gets a taste of victory and of his opponent. Sweaty, bloody, salty, juicy. Jeanne Moos is coming up.
BURNETT: One of the biggest falls from grace in sports history.
New England Patriot player Aaron Hernandez accused of shooting and killing two men, one of them apparently bumped into him in a dance floor caused the athlete to spill his drink and then allegedly he murdered him.
The former football star is also been charged with first degree and the shooting death of Odin Lloyd, a semi-pro football player. He made an appearance in court today.
And tonight, Susan Candiotti takes a closer look at this story and CNN's special, "Downward Spinal: Inside the Case Against Aaron Hernandez." And, Susan, I mean, this is pretty incredible. You know, he's kind of a super star and then this fell apart and, you know, allegations of gangs and multiple murders.
What did you learn about Aaron Hernandez?
SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: You know what? I have covered a lot of murder investigations over the years but compared to all of those, Aaron Hernandez' case is filled with twists and turns.
This is a fascinating guy. I mean, he has a dazzling smile, he's charismatic but he's hiding a dark side from hanging out in part with the wrong crowd but more troubling sources say, doing a lot of pot and even used angel dust, fueling paranoia that prosecutors believe is behind a pattern of behavior that led to murder over something as trivial as a spilled drink.
What we also learned new surprising details about how he is spending his time in jail and wait until you hear what he's reading.
CANDIOTTI (voice-over): The fallen football star spends his days waiting alone in a 7 by 10 foot cell.
Trying to keep him in line is Sheriff Thomas Hodgson.
SHERIFF THOMAS HODGSON: I talked to him at length. There is a warmth within this person.
CANDIOTTI (on camera): What went wrong?
HODGSON: Learned behaviors and the environment people grow up in have an incredible influence on who we become.
CANDIOTTI (voice-over): Sheriff Thomas Hodgson believes in modifying behavior behind bars. He says inmate number 174954 is reading the Bible.
And another book he suggested.
HODGSON: I got him reading "Tuesdays with Morrie".
CANDIOTTI: It examines how to create a centered meaningful book.
HODGSON: He was clearly moved by the book. He called his mother and told her she need to read it.
CANDIOTTI: The sheriff tells Hernandez to find his center by turning to his childhood anchor, his late dad.
HODGSON: You've never able to get back to the place you feel comfortable and safe and that's only going to happen if you go back and talk to your father. Go back to your cell and talk to your father.
CANDIOTTI (on camera): What did he think of that advice?
HODGSON: When I see him every so often, did you do what I asked you? No, but I'm getting there. I think at this point, he's got a picture that he didn't have before. His dad's picture.
CANDIOTTI: A photograph of his late father in his cell.
CANDIOTTI: And in our special report, you'll also hear more about what happened before and after the murder of Odin Lloyd from his friends and an exclusive interview with a former Patriot who weighs in on his old teammate.
This is some interesting stuff. I mean, the guy is a study in contrast.
BURNETT: Oh, yes, it sounds fascinating.
All right. Well, I can't wait to see that, of course, tonight, "Downward Spiral: Inside the Case Against Aaron Hernandez" premiers tonight on CNN at 9:00 Eastern.
Still OUTFRONT, a World Cup star just too hungry for a win. I guess, you know, I mean, they tell them they can't do all kinds of things, got to starve so maybe you have to eat somebody. Jeanne Moos is next with the bite felt around the world.
BURNETT: An exciting day at the World Cup. Uruguay beating Italy by the skin of its teeth, for real.
For more, here's Jeanne Moos.
JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's called the world cup but maybe it should be the world plate if players are going to eat each other.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Delicious controversy at the World Cup and by delicious -- I mean, it must taste good or why would this guy keep biting people?
MOOS: Uraguay's Luis Suarez appeared to sink his teeth into an Italian opponent in blue.
LUIS SUAREZ, URUGUAY: I just collided with his shoulder. They're just casual incidents that happen during a soccer game.
MOOS: He did it discreetly, not the way vampire Tom Cruz bared his fangs when he pounced on Brad Pitt.
After the apparent fight, Suarez grabbed his teeth, Giorgio Chiellini bared his shoulder, showing off the bite mark. The referees didn't call any penalty.
Megastar Suarez has been in trouble for biting opponents twice before.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Amongst the top five players on the planet, yet, he can't get into his head this is a game played with your feet, not with your mouth.
MOOS: Of course, if anyone knows what is it's like to be chewed on, it's Evander Holyfield who had a bit of his ear chomped off by Mike Tyson. Even missing part of his ear, Holyfield heard about the soccer bite and tweeted out, "I guess any part of the body is up for eating."
Suarez can expect the return of all those Internet jokes he was the butt of the last two times he got nabbed biting. "If you can't beat them, just eat them." In this case, Suarez's team Uruguay beat Italy by one goal.
He should get ready to see himself plastered on "Jaws" posters. McDonald's of Uruguay got into the act, tweeting to Suarez, "If you feel hungry, come take a bite of a Big Mac."
We haven't had such a prominent man bites man story since boy bit boy back in the 2007 viral video sensation, "Charlie bit me."
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ouch, Charlie! Ouch! Charlie, that really hurt!
MOOS: We have some advice from the World Cup fan for this big fish of the soccer world.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Biting should only happen in the bedroom.
MOOS: Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.
BURNETT: And there was advice we didn't need.
All right. Unfortunately, we ran out of time to tell you about this. This is the Brazuca. This is World Cup had more goals in World Cups in decades. Is this ball the reason? That is tomorrow night. We will show.
Anderson is next.