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Violence in the Middle East

Aired September 14, 2012 - 20:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Erin, thanks. Good evening everyone.

We end the week with anti-American flames ignited by a rouge anti-Muslim videos still raging across the parts of the Arab world. New embassies have been attacked. Symbols of American burned. The Muslim day of prayer turned into another night of rage.

We begin, though, tonight not with the turmoil but a quiet reminder of the human cost. Today, at Fort Andrews, just outside the Washington, the remains of the four Americans killed in Libya came home.


COOPER: Seven marines carrying each casket from an air force c- 17 transport bringing them to an hangar filled not just with leaders, not just commanders and dignitaries but comrades, and colleagues, family and friends. The killings in Benghazi of ambassador Christopher Stevens, foreign service officer Sean Smith and former Navy Seals Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods has become part of a political battle back home. There was not even a hint of that here of course.

Among those in attendance, Colin Powell, secretary of state during the last administration, current secretary of states for the president, secretary of state Hillary Clinton saying the four lives lost were lived in service to their country and are in her words at the heart of what makes America great and good. President Obama vowed to bring their killers to justice and not strength from commitments around the world.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The United States of America will never retreat from the world. We will never stop working for the dignity and freedom that every person deserves, whatever their creed, whatever their faith. That's the essence of American leadership. That's the spirit that sets us apart from other nations. This was their work in Benghazi and this is the work we will carry on.


COOPER: President Obama today talking of the mission that so many Americans do and what four American died doing. We put them front and center tonight. Ambassador Christopher Stevens, Sean Smith, Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods.

Joining me on the phone is Ambassador Stevens' stepfather, Robert Commanday.

Mr. Commanday, I am so sorry for your loss and please extend our condolences to your entire family. What do you want people to know about your stepson?

ROBERT COMMANDAY, AMBASSADOR STEVENS' STEPFATHER (via phone): Well, I think what you learn today, it tells me what his legacy was at the Anderson air force base when the caskets were brought back, 800 members of the state department were there and the president for the first time he spoke at one of these ceremonial dignified transfers and Secretary Clinton spoke and they all expressed the understanding that Chris's commitment to Libya and to the country has left a legacy that will live after him.

So, this is what I'd like people to know, that he was beloved by his colleagues in the state department and from the people of Libya. The Libya ambassador came and spoke to us, came and spoke to us, and so did Barack Obama, was very kind. And all of this was representing the feeling of the government toward this wonderful son of ours. And I think it speaks for itself.

COOPER: He probably could have had a cushy posting, he probably could have had at this point in his career a much safer posting, yet he seemed like the kind of ambassador who really wanted to be out there with people, out there on the streets with his sleeves rolled up.

COMMANDAY: Yes, he -- but he loved Libya, as unbeautiful as it is. And the ambassador expressed his deep affection for Chris and the messages we've got from Libya and the sign from the streets of counter protests proclaiming Chris Stevens with Libya. And that to me says it all.

COOPER: There's been such obviously an outpouring of thoughts and prayers for your family and reflections upon him. I talked to senator McCain about your stepson earlier. We heard obviously from Secretary Clinton and obviously comments from President Obama.

There's also been an outpouring among people on the streets of Libya. There have been demonstrations in support of the United States and apologizing. When you saw those pictures, how does that make you feel?

COMMANDAY: Well, it heartens me that it confirms how affectionate the people were and grateful that they worked so hard for their liberation and that to me is what he represented.

COOPER: I can't imagine what this day has been like for you. And I appreciate you taking the time to talk to us and let us know a little bit more about your stepson. Thank you.

COMMANDAY: Our hearts are filled with gratitude and grief. Thank you, sir. COOPER: Thank you.

Sadly, there's more turmoil today and more American lives in jeopardy.

Friday, the Muslim day of prayer was anything but tranquil. Violence erupting for a fourth stray day in Egypt, Yemen, Gaza and Syria. Protesters as far away as Afghanistan and in Tunisia, birth place of the Arab Spring. At least three people have been killed in clashes between rioters and security forces in and around the U.S. embassy. Some managed to get into the complex, tearing down American flags, raising their own. The ambassador and the staff though, are reported to be safe under protection of Marines in Tunisians Anti- terrorist groups.

In Libya meantime, four suspects are now in custody in connection with Tuesday's killings. For the latest on the chaos, the investigation and any possible warning signs of trouble before the attacks, we turn to Arwa Damon, who has in Benghazi, Libya for us. She has got new and disturbing information that may help explain the deadly outcome. And also Ben Wedeman who is in Cairo. You can here demonstration behind him. And in Washington, CNN national security contributor, Fran Townsend. She's a member of the CIA external advisory committee. Last month Fran visited Libya with his employer, Nicki Andrews and Forbes (ph).

Arwa, let's start with you in Benghazi, Libya. You went to the scene at the U.S. consulate. You're also getting reports about a possible leak of information to the terrorists, the militants that carried out this attack. What have you learned?

ARWA DAMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We are hearing details now about a second attack that took place at a different location. This is coming from the spokesman of one of the battalions here that is part of the February 17th brigade. This is a brigade, according to this spokesman, that actually helped evacuate personnel from the location of the consulate to what was supposed to have been a safe house.

But a few hours after all of this took place, in the early hours of the morning, a unit of security personnel arrived at the Benghazi airport from Tripoli. These were Americans tasked with evacuating. We are being told those who were hiding out at the safe house.

As the convoy was approaching the safe house, they came under yet another intense, but very short lived attack and this is where many questions are being asked as to was somehow -- was there some sort of infiltration that took place? How did the attackers know to them strike at the second location?

But when these individuals arrived to this second location, this apparent safe house, they are being told that they found around of 30 plus personnel that needed to be evacuated along with three of the four bodies, the body of the ambassador was of course later found at this hospital. But a lot of questions, Anderson, as we are trying to really piece together how it is that this happened, but also how is it going to be prevented in the future. COOPER: Yes. And Arwa, one of the questions I have is I mean, it sounds like this was a fight that went on for some time or attack that went on some time. Where were local Libyan security forces, either government forces. Are we keep hearing about so many militias around and if, you know, there's good feeling toward the U.S., why weren't other militias responding to an attack on the U.S. consulate? Do we know any of those answers?

DAMON: We know some of them. Others we're still trying to dig for. What we have heard is that the deputy minister of interior, who is effectively responsible for the eastern portion of the country, actually called his specific forces away from the location of the consulate as the attack was taking place because they quite simply were unable to put up a fight.

What we are also being told that it is elements from the 17th of February brigade that did in fact try to help defend the location of the consulate. Neither was saying, they were the one, but we are being told eventually helped evacuate the personnel from that location. But there are a lot of questions for the Libyan government at this point in time because there are a number of armed militias around. There are a number of militias who do support the United States, along with those as very evident who do not. These extremist militias out there are very intense on sabotaging its nation and its movement down the direction that the revolution intended it to be set on.

COOPER: Ben, there have been protests in Cairo and throughout different parts of Egypt. What is the latest? What are you hearing? What are you seeing?

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, right below us right now, the protesters seem to re-taken the streets right next to the American embassy. And the areas really thick with tear gas. Earlier in the day, the Egyptian security forces set up a concrete barrier right about a hundred yards from the American embassy, which stopped the protestors from getting much closer, but that hasn't really stopped the clashes which have been going on all day long here. The security forces keeping the protestors away from the embassy but not really able to push the protestors far away. Every time they push forward, the protestors push back and it's really been like that all day long -- Anderson.

COOPER: And, Ben, are these kind of the young men you were talking about last night who, you know, were kind of off in that protest? Who is it now that's protesting?

WEDEMAN: Same young men, most of these young men don't appear to be members of any of the main political parties, like the Muslim brotherhood or (INAUDIBLE) parties. Many of them are I think what are called ultras, which are basically football hooligans who very much get off on this. They really just high on adrenaline in these clashes with the police.

When you speak to them, they will say the reason they're protesting is they want to see the American ambassador, the Israeli ambassador expelled from the country. They want to see an end to relations between the United States and Egypt as a result of this you tube video that of course is at the center of this controversy, but they don't seem to have much in the way of any political ideas other than those very sort of crude anti-American sentiment.

COOPER: They have retaken that street, Ben. I'm going to let you go so can you get off that balcony and let you get back inside. Appreciate Ben., you being with us.

Fran, there have been questions about intelligence that could have prevented this attack in Libya. You've been working your security forces. What you have been able to find out?

FRAN TOWNSEND, CNN INTERNATIONAL SECURITY CONTRIBUTOR: You know, Anderson, American intelligence officials will say to you that until very recently the focus of the Libyan government and Libyan security forces have been anti-Gadhafi loyalists. And remember, right after the immediate aftermath of the tragedy on September 11th and the killing of ambassador Stevens, we did hear there was concern by Libyan officials about anti-Gadhafi -- pro-Gadhafi loyalists.

Now, they said around the end of August, and when I was there, Anderson, on a business trip, everyone I spoke, to Libyan and American officials, all talked about their growing concern about extremists in Darna, a city to the east of Benghazi where they believe extremists Islamists were gaining strength and they were heavily armed.

Unfortunately, it turns out that that was a valid concern. I never have gotten the sense that they had any idea that there was such an immediate and specific threat against the consulate. In fact, they suggested my going to visit that consulate.

COOPER: And despite protests, Fran, on this through the Middle East today, you say some people in the administration may be breathing a sigh of relief. Why?

TOWNSEND: Well, security officials across the U.S. government, what you are seeing now in Egypt, what we saw in Tunisia, I think they were prepared for the worst. That is the protests worldwide would all take on that sort very violent, extreme threat to the embassies and posts. I think there was some sense of relief. They were glad they were prepared, but they didn't see that widespread violence that we're now, as we saw in Tunisia and we are now seeing more in Egypt.

COOPER: Fran, I appreciate, you working your sources. Arwa Damon as well in Benghazi. Please be careful and Ben Wedeman as well.

We are on facebook. Follow us there and on twitter as well @andersoncooper tonight.

When we come back, new allegations being leveled at the Obama administration including the shock of the scenes like this wouldn't be happening if Mitt Romney was president. We'll tell how said that. "Keeping Them Honest."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) COOPER: As we've mentioned, the American embassies and other symbols of America tonight still under attack tonight around the Arab world. The bodies of four Americans killed in Libya returning home today to their families.

There's also a presidential campaign going on, of course, and a pretty bold statement from the Romney campaign, if Mitt Romney were president, this simply would not be happening. Romney's senior policy adviser, his senior foreign policy aide Richard Williamson telling "the Washington Post" quote "there's a pretty compelling story that if you had a president Romney, you'd be in a different situation." He went on to say "for the first time since Jimmy Carter, we have had an American ambassador assassinated."

His word essentially laying the murder of ambassador Chris Stevens at the feet of Obama administration policies. He also told the post quote "respect for America has gone down. There's not a sense of American resolve that we can't even protect sovereign property."

Now, you can agree or disagree with that general notion and that's what elections are for. But the facts do not support that claim. That expressions or perception of American resolve can prevent attacks either brought here at home. Violence has struck both Democratic and Republican administrations against embassies and warships, American hotels abroad and of course on 9/11.

So, because Mr. Williamson is making some pretty bold claims, we invited him to the program to provide backup these assertions to provide some proof. The Romney campaign initially told us, he would be on the program and later said he was not available. The invitation, of course, stance.

In any case, it turns out the narrative of the Romney campaign's pushing about the violence in the Middle East, is not the only that's raising eyebrows, his running mate Paul Ryan speaking today at the Values Voters Summit.


REP. PAUL RYAN (R), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Look across that region today. What do we see? The slaughter of brave dissidents in Syria, mobs storming American embassies and consulates. Iran four years closer to gaining a nuclear weapon. Israel, our best ally in the region treated with indifference bordering on contempt by the Obama administration.


COOPER: On that last suggestion, now that White House has been snubbing Israel is getting a lot of play on the stump and in Republican circles.


REP. MICHELE BACHMANN (R), MINNESOTA: President Obama needs to get his priorities straight. What he needs to do is cancels his interview with David Letterman, cancel his meeting with Beyonce, cancel his meeting with Jay-Z and instead agree to meet with the prime minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu.

DAN SENOR, ROMNEY CAMPAIGN FOREIGN AFFAIRS ADVISER: Our allies in Israel feel they can't rely on us. You saw the flair-up between the prime minister of Israel and the president.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: The latest showdown between the president and the prime minister of Israel.

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I can't ever imagine if the prime minister of Israel ever asked to be with me, I can't imagine saying no. They are our friends. They are our closest allies in the Middle East.


COOPER: So, the narrative is clear, President Obama supposedly refusing Israeli's Benjamin Netanyahu's request to meet with him in New York about the nuclear situation in Iran. And now, Netanyahu attends the U.N. general assembly later this month.

Now, that charge was attributed in a report by the Reuters wire service to an Israeli official who declined to be identified. The national Security Council spokesman not only denied that such a request was made, he said that the two leaders wouldn't even be in New York on the same day but that the president and prime minister are in frequent contact. The White House also said emphatically this week that Netanyahu never requested a meeting with the president in Washington.

So the story and the narrative are not proven. But as is often the case these days, the whole thing has taken on a life of its own and is getting big play in the blogs as peers well as back in Israel.

In addition, this is part and parcel of a campaign theme that includes as you'll remember Governor Romney attacking President Obama Tuesday night and the following morning saying the administration's first response of Ambassador Stevens' killing was to sympathize with the attackers. In fact, the message was condemned that offensive anti-Muslim video was put out by the U.S. embassy in Egypt was not in any way seen or approved by the White House, according to all reports. There is no evidence that it was. And went out trying to diffuse tension hours before the first attack took place.

Joining us now for all the raw politics, foreign policy by Paul Begala as the senior adviser of the leading pro-Obama super PAC and Republican strategist, Rich Galen.

So Rich, you wrote that that President Obama's foreign policy is to blame President George W. Bush, saying that it's time for Obama to quote, "man up, take responsibility" for his administration's failures. Do you believe that President Obama somehow failed in Libya, that the attacks there and protests in Cairo could have been prevented? RICH GALEN, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: No, not at all. I went back and read the Cairo speech from 2009. And I think - and then, when we got into the Arab spring, it was not a Republican, it was a Democrat, somebody an unidentified adviser to the president who called it leading from behind.

And what I said in the column was that the president's foreign policy and the president's domestic policies approximately are the same, blame George W. And I think that's true.

COOPER: And Rich, as you heard Ambassador Williamson said. He is a senior Romney adviser, he said if Governor Romney had been president, we'd be in a different situation.

GALEN: Well, you know, you can't rewind the clock, you don't know that's the case. But I think what he was -- I've been with Rich Williamson overseas. We were in Afghanistan together for a brief period. He is not a neo-con. And I think what he was saying or at least attempt to say was that that in the Arab world, especially in the people that are leading these charges, any sign of weakness is they see as a power vacuum and they are more than happy to rush into it, whether or not a Romney administration would have stopped this, who knows. But I think that's what he was trying to say.

COOPER: Paul, Republicans have long said President Obama shown weak leadership abroad. Today, a number of them are suggesting that he basically invited the attacks. And our embassies be attacks came on the 9/11 anniversary. Intelligence officials did send a general warning about the anti-Muslim movement at the embassy in Cairo 48 hours before the attack. A, what do you make of the Republican criticism and should U.S. officials have anticipated done more to prepare?

PAUL BEGALA, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Let me start with me. We always want to do more. We have to do more to protect the embassies and those great people who serve there. And it is heart breaking to watch that footage from joint air base, Anderson. And so, I would certainly never say that our government did everything we can do to protect our own in harm's way. So, that may be a valid criticism.

I haven't heard yet any fact-based criticism that we didn't do enough. But that's very different from the more generalized attack they're making which is, it's of course, it's wrong in the facts and it is also wrong in the politics.

Let me be just being honest. The Republican didn't nominate Mitt Romney because of his foreign policy expertise. If they wanted a foreign policy expert, they could have nominated Jon Huntsman or gone back to John McCain. I mean, there are a lot of very strong Republicans on foreign policy.

They hired Mitt Romney to run for president on the economy. And every day he's off and attacking and looking political and partisan about national security is a bad day for Mitt Romney. I do note in our latest CNN opinion poll President Obama has jumped out to a 12- point lead on who do you prefer on foreign policy. And that was before the latest inflammations, in the uprisings in the Middle East so that may change things. But this is not the turf that Governor Romney should be running on. I hate to give him free advice but it is the economy, governor.

COOPER: It is interesting who are some, the disagreement on whether or not President Obama refused a meeting with Prime Minister Netanyahu, it has taken on a life of its own. You have a national security spokesman saying, no meeting was requested so no meeting was denied, that they're not going to be at the U.N. at the same time, do you buy that?

GALEN: Well, it certainly took a couple of days for them to come around to that finally somebody that was supposed to know being able to say no meeting was ever suggested.

But, look, these two guys don't like each other very much. I mean, it goes back to the vice president's visit to Israel way back in the beginning of the administration when he was unhappily surprised by the announcement when he was there, this is vice president Biden that the Israelis were expanding their settlement. That was countered by when Netanyahu was here, sort of being forced to sit in the assistant principal's office at the White House for a couple of hours to stew while the president went off and did other things.

Before we get off this, I want to say that I watched the president at joint base Andrews this afternoon. He was the president, he was our president and he was my president and I thought he did a wonderful job.

COOPER: Rich, do you buy, though, this argument that Paul Ryan is making that Obama has snubbed Israel, that he's basically -- it sounds as if, if you listen to Paul Ryan, that the U.S. has been treating Israel terribly under the Obama administration.

GALEN: Well, I think the Israelis are -- first of all, their antennae are way up because of Iran and they're very, very fearful of Iran getting a bomb. They won't let that happen. I think we can agree on that. That's number one.

Number two, I also think from my friends in Israel that they sense that President Obama sort of in an effort to be part of the European club where Israel is held, as Churchill used to say, limited high regard, that he wants to so that he is much more even handed when it comes to the Middle East and as far as Israel is concerned, they don't need no even handed, they need allies.

COOPER: Paul, what about this? I mean, there have been a number of dust-ups with the conservative leadership in Israel. I mean, when you hear Paul Ryan's description of how Obama has treated Israel, what do you think?

BEGALA: Well, I think that Congressman Ryan has succeeded in destroying so far in his campaign in destroying his reputation as a truth teller. I never thought it was deserved. But you know, all the best people would stroke their chins and say Paul Ryan is a truth teller.

So today, he launches this really comic, faux Harry Chested (ph), I guess if there was a chest hair toupee, that's what Ryan would be wearing. Nonsense. Attacking the president on Israel. I took a look what Ehud Barak say, Ehud Barak of course is the defense minister in the state of Israel, and the highest, most highly, most decorated soldier in the history of defense forces. He is their Eddie Murphy and Eisenhower rolled into one.

Here is what Ehud Barak says about President Obama. This administration under President Obama, Mr. Barak said, is doing in regard to our security more than anything that I can remember in the past. Ehud Barak served as prime minister under other president. He has been a leader of Israeli defense forces. He said this president has done more than anyone else on security, intelligence and in defense of the state of Israel. I would say, with all due respect to brigadier general Ryan and his, you know, five minute marathon claims, this is another whopper from Paul Ryan.

COOPER: Paul Begala, I appreciate it. Rich Galen, as well.

All this week we've been talking about voters' top five economic concerns and now the president and Mitt Romney plan to address them.

Up next, the number one economic issue that is keeping people up at night.


COOPER: A Kentucky teen-ager faces the boys who sexually assault on her and the justice system, she says, failed her. While the victim herself was threatens with possible jail time and the perpetrators who offered a deal of community service when "360" continues.


COOPER: We've been counting down to the top five economic issues that keep voters up at night and talking about what President Obama and Mitt Romney plan to do about those issues.

We poll registered voters to find out their biggest economic worries. Housing costs were number five, taxes four, Medicare/Social Security concerns were number three, last night, we talked about number two, the federal deficit.

And the top economic concern according to our poll, unemployment, with an 8.1 percent unemployment rate, 12.5 million people are out of work. It's the number one economic issue keeping people up at night.

We spoke with the president of a group in Connecticut who sees on a daily basis the toll of being out of work long term takes on people. Here's what he told us.


JOSEPH CARBONE, CEO, "THE WORKPLACE, INC.": What keeps me up at night is the thought that Americans who are victims of the great recession will lose their job, will lose any opportunity to come back to the workforce and will be deprived of hope and opportunity in their lives.

It's taken its toll on every sector of our economy and our employment structure. This has been a mean creature. It's not just taken folks out of those sectors and made them unemployable. It has put roadblocks into their finding any way to their returning to that sector or into to another.

What platform to employment, my program has tried to do is open doors that simply give them a chance. It doesn't guarantee them anything.

But it says if you come to the job and you can convince that employer give me a chance, can I do it as well as anybody else, we're finding an incredibly high rates of success.

Here are the folks who are the next cohort or platform to employment.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I've been unemployed for about two and a half years.

CARBONE: How many jobs would you say that you applied for?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I lost count, just so many. Just apply, apply, apply and over the years I've gotten just a couple of interviews.

CARBONE: So how long you have been out?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I've been out now almost three years.

CARBONE: So there were no collecting unemployment benefits at this point?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is a chance to get a new approach because I don't know where to go from here.

CARBONE: In this economy, we can't get you a job unless you can help to make that happen. You got to work harder than you ever imagined. Failure is not an option. All they hear about is a world turning against them.

If you deal with the self-confidence issue and simultaneously deal with the emotional issues, the end result incredibly is a high rate of success of bringing people to employment so that the employer eventually makes the hire.

They are not folks that prefer to be unemployed. They're not lazy. They are people who truly are the victims of this extraordinary economic change.


COOPER: Joining me now, chief national correspondent John King, Jim Acosta who has been traveling with the Romney campaign and Dan Lothian who has been traveling with the president.

So John, no president since the Second World War has been re- elected with unemployment this high. The Obama campaign says what matters is the direction the jobless rate is heading whether it's rising or falling.

Grading them by either metric though, how much of a problem does the president face right now?

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, by the numbers and by history, this is the president's biggest filterability heading into the election. You mentioned in history, no president since Franklin Roosevelt elected with an unemployment so high.

You also mentioned last month's unemployment rate 8.1 percent. The rate down a bit, but the rate did not drop because of a robust economy. The rate dropped because nearly 400,000 people gave up. They left the job market. Only 96,000 jobs created last month. That's an anemic number as you head closer and closer to the election.

Now as you look at this number here, the president is trying to make the case, especially in the heartland case in the Midwest that made in America is coming back, 15,000 manufacturing jobs lost just last month, nearly 600,000 manufacturing jobs lost in the Obama presidency. So that's one way to look at it.

The president makes the case as you just noted that things are getting better, is the rate going down? Well, the rate actually is pretty static from when he took office to where we are today, but the president can make the case, he inherited a recession and a ditch. It did go over 10 percent at one point.

So it is better now than at the high point of the Obama presidency if voters will take it that way. One key point though we should make, remember, those are national numbers, we elect presidents state by state.

In some of the key battleground states, the news is better, in others, it is worse. Let's go through some of them. In Colorado, the rate is up quite a bit since President Obama took office. Same thing in Nevada, up at 12 percent now, that's the highest state in the country.

It's also up in the state of North Carolina. Mitt Romney needs that to win, but importantly it is down in Iowa, down in Ohio, those key Midwestern battleground states.

Here's another way to look at it. I'm going to pull out to the map here. If you take a look here, now if your state is green, that's good news. You see, unemployment's going down in Ohio, down in Iowa, down a bit in Virginia, all key battlegrounds. But if your state is yellow, that's bad news. Nevada, a big battleground state, you see it there. Also you see North Carolina sort of bleak on that front, Colorado.

So if you look at the map this way, some states the president can make the case things are better. In others, it's a much tougher sell.

COOPER: Well, Jim, we've seen the trouble that Romney has had in some swing states like Ohio where he is holding events to highlight how badly the economy is doing while the states of Republican governors are talking about how well things are going.

In a sense, those are the only states that matter to either campaign right now. As we've seen their economies are actually doing better than the rest of the country. How does the Romney campaign deal with that?

JIM ACOSTA, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it is a problem for the Romney campaign. You heard some of these Republican governors like John Kasich touting their state economies at the Republican convention just a short while ago.

But what the Romney campaign says is that it's because of these Republican governors that these states are doing well and the numbers that the Romney campaign keeps coming back to. They keep going back to the numbers that say more than 40 months of unemployment over 8 percent.

And 23 million people that they say are out of work are struggling to find employment. They say those are the numbers that matter. Just the other day, Anderson, the fed decided to pass another round of quantitative easing and the Romney campaign pointed to that and said this is because the Obama economy is not doing well.

COOPER: Dan, if the president was to win re-election, it would be historic -- it would be the first really. The economy is still struggling, the fed has made a move, but it's unlikely to make much of a difference before Election Day. This is an uphill fight for the Obama campaign historically, isn't it?

DAN LOTHIAN, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: It really is an uphill fight, but then the argument that they're making is that things would be much better if Republicans weren't standing in the way and you hear this from the president and top aides.

They point to the fact that the president submitted his jobs bill, yet it sits there in Congress, they haven't moved on it yet. He said if they passed this jobs bill, a million more jobs would be created.

In addition to that, I go back to the trend line that they keep pointing to. Yes, things still are tough out there when it comes to the economy, but they say the economy is adding jobs so they're not subtracting at all.

The jobs are not being added the way that some of the economists had expected that there would be bigger numbers, but they point to the fact that jobs are being added, not subtracted and that's the message they're telling the voters out there.

COOPER: All right, we'll see who voters believe. Dan, Jim, John, thanks.

We're following other stories tonight. Susan Hendricks joins us with the "360 Bulletin."

SUSAN HENDRICKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, there's just no end to the ongoing violence in Syria. Opponents of the Assad regime say that security forces killed at least 100 people across the country today. Now many of those deaths occurred in key cities of Damascus and Aleppo.

Bomb threat forced evacuations today both in the University of Texas at Austin and North Dakota State University in Fargo. Both campuses were later declared safe.

And Neil Armstrong, the first person to ever walk the moon, was buried today at sea in the Atlantic Ocean following a ceremony aboard the "USS Philippine Sea." Armstrong was a true hero to many Americans. He died last month at the age of 82 -- Anderson.

COOPER: Susan, thanks.

Coming up, "Crime and Punishment," a shocking case from Louisville, Kentucky. A 16-year-old girl sexually assaulted by two boys who also took explicit pictures of her and showed them around. The deal the boys got offered? Fifty hours of volunteer work. The latest in the case and the victim speaks out about her search for justice.


COOPER: At first, Prince Harry, now Kate Middleton, a French magazine publishes topless photos of the Duchess of Cambridge and feels the wrath of the British royal family ahead.


COOPER: In "Crime and Punishment" tonight, a teen-age girl was in court in Louisville, Kentucky today. She addressed the two boys who assaulted her and the justice system that she says failed her.

Savannah Dietrich was assaulted while she was unconscious. The juveniles admitted to what they did and were offered a plea deal that she says was too lenient. They were offered community service.

Meanwhile, Dietrich herself was threatened with possible jail time for tweeting the names of the boys who assaulted her. It's a case with a lot of twists and turns and at the center, a victim who refuses to stay silent. Gary Tuchman has her story.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It happened inside this modest home in Louisville, Kentucky. Savannah Detrick was 16 at the time when her life took a detour.

She had been drinking heavily with a group of friends and passed out and two 16-year-old boys who were with her took advantage.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I woke up and my underwear was off and my bra was shifted.

TUCHMAN: Savannah knew something happened to her in the kitchen, but didn't find out exactly what until four months later when she learned from friends the boys had a camera that night.

SAVANNAH DIETRICH, VICTIM: When I was passed out, they took off my clothes and my bra and they took pictures and then they took off my underwear and took pictures of them penetrating me with their fingers.

TUCHMAN: The pictures would prove to be damning. The 16-year- old boys went to court accused of felony sexual assault. The attorneys for one of the boys argued the records in this juvenile case must stay secret, but the judge disagreed and released these transcripts.

In them, the boys admit the allegations. Boy number one saying "we put our fingers in her because we thought it would be funny." He also said, after a couple of minutes, I guess she just went to sleep so we carried her upstairs and accidentally dropped her.

Boy number two was asked if he, too, sexually assaulted the girl. He said yes and added she was fine with it. She was fine? Said the detective interviewing him, how do you know she was fine, said the detective?

I mean, she could have definitely been like stop, don't do this and we would have stopped, but she didn't. Both boys pleaded guilty, but then a stunning turn of events, the prosecutor offered the boys a plea bargain. A deal Savannah and her parents said they did not agree to.

(on camera): The proposed sentence, just 50 hours of volunteer work and if they complete a diverse program, the charges will be wiped clean from their records when they are 19-1/2. That's the proposal for the sexual assault of an unconscious girl.

(voice-over): Thomas Clay is Savannah's personal attorney.

THOMAS CLAY, SAVANNAH'S DIETRICH'S ATTORNEY: It's highly unprecedented that you will have sexual conviction of this type expunged from your record.

TUCHMAN: Savannah says the prosecutor in this case told her this --

DIETRICH: Jail time is just really not possible at all. It's like out of the question. Jail is for like real rapists and murderers and robbers.

TUCHMAN (on camera): He said real rapists?


TUCHMAN (voice-over): Savannah's lawyer says the prosecutor said even more to her.

CLAY: He filed an affidavit in which he launched a virulent attack on Savannah Dietrich's character and credibility. He accused her of being a liar.

He called her delusional and made several other derogatory comments about Savannah Dietrich, which to me indicates a personal hostility on his part against Savannah.

TUCHMAN (on camera): I mean, he's the prosecutor who is supposed to be prosecuting the criminals, not prosecuting the victim.

CLAY: That's kind of a role reversal here. We have things upside down.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): We received a copy of the affidavit and indeed the prosecutor slammed the victim. Perhaps, he says, she is not so much trying to intentionally mislead and deceive this court.

But rather the delusional assertions are merely the byproduct of what she would like to believe happened. Also in the affidavit, he denied making the real rapist comment.

Savannah was enraged. She decided to go on Twitter and identify the two boys.

TUCHMAN (on camera): What did you say?

DIETRICH: I said (inaudible) sexually assaulted me (inaudible).

TUCHMAN (voice-over): Savannah Dietrich was charged with contempt of court for outing the two juveniles. She faced the possibility of six months behind bars.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Certainly doesn't seem like justice.

TUCHMAN: Emily Farrar-Crockett is a juvenile public defender who was called down to represent her on the charge.

EMILY FARRAR-CROCKETT, JUVENILE PUBLIC DEFENDER: I certainly believe the victim has the right to say the names of their attackers and that there is nothing in our law anywhere that prevents them from doing so.

TUCHMAN: Ultimately, the boys' attorneys decided they did not want to go forward with a contempt charge. The lawyers did not want to make any on-camera comments to us.

But one of them said on the phone, the boys' lives has been ruined and he's received death threats. There's no twist to the story.

(on camera): The two boys who pleaded guilty both went to this school. Trinity is one of the most prestigious private high schools in the Louisville, Kentucky area. It has thousands of loyal and devoted alumni. One of them is the prosecutor.

(voice-over): Paul Richwalski, the prosecutor is also a prominent donor to the school.

(on camera): So you're thinking that his connection to this high school might have had something to do with this decision to make this plea bargain so lenient?

CLAY: There's certainly circumstantial evidence that indicates his Trinity connection was a factor in the lenient treatment according to these two young men, yes.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): The prosecutor would not talk to us. His boss though had this to say.

MICHAEL O'CONNELL, JEFFERSON COUNTY, KY COUNTY ATTORNEY: We could talk about where everybody went to high school and every criminal proceeding or every involvement in Louisville, Kentucky and you probably find the same argument somewhere along the road.

TUCHMAN: The judge is now deciding whether to accept the plea bargain. In court together, the boys and Savannah Dietrich.

DIETRICH: They had to wait until my eyes were closed and do this to me. But now they have to look in my eyes and see the full extent of what they've done, the damage they've caused.


COOPER: Gary Tuchman joins me now from Louisville where Savannah Dietrich was in court today. So I understand the sentencing hearing just ended? What happened, Gary?

TUCHMAN: Six-hour court hearing, Anderson, and Savannah Dietrich feels vindicated tonight because the judge made the decision that the plea bargain was not appropriate and she made a decision to modify it.

And now these two boys will not get their records wiped clean at the age of 19-1/2 instead the felony sexual assault will become a misdemeanor if they behave well when they're 21 years old and then five years after that, when they're 26, they can then apply to get their record expunged.

In addition to that, the 50 hours of volunteer work will have to be with a women's charity that's what the judge said and one thing Savannah wanted that wasn't part of the plea bargain, she wanted the names of all the people who saw her picture.

The judge ruled that has to be done. She has to receive the names of everyone who looked at her picture on the cell phone. Savannah's eyes, Anderson, did meet the boy's eyes. She made a statement in court. She looked right at the boys and said you've ruined my life.

And something I've never seen before in a courtroom, she addressed the prosecutor. She said "you re-victimized me" and she attacked the prosecutor. The prosecutor sat there quietly.

We talked to the prosecutor's boss later and asked about that statement and he said I don't comment about personnel matters. But either way these boys' plea bargain has been changed much stricter now.

COOPER: Did these young men, these juveniles, did they apologize to her?

TUCHMAN: Here was another unusual part of the court day is that there were two lawyers, one lawyer for each boy. They read apologies on behalf of the boys.

But if these boys read their own apologies, it would have meant something. Savannah said it would have meant something to her a great deal if they read their own apologies.

Instead the lawyers read about it and meant nothing to her. It's a fact that if the boys read a heart-felt apology, it could have changed the judge's mind, too, but they didn't. Their lawyers read the apologies.

COOPER: All right, Gary, appreciate the reporting. Thanks very much.

There is word tonight that a tentative deal has been reached in the Chicago teachers strike. Could students be back in the classroom on Monday? That's next.


COOPER: We are following a number of other stories as well. Susan Hendricks joins us with the "360 News and Business Bulletin" -- Susan.

HENDRICKS: Hi, Anderson. In Chicago, school and union officials say they have reached a tentative agreement to end the five-day old teachers strike. Chicago's school board president says students should be back in school on Monday.

The royal family is threatening legal action against a French magazine that published topless photos of Kate Middleton. Now the photos appear to have been taken with a long lens as the Duchess of Cambridge was sunbathing at a private villa in the south of France.

The first batch of Apple's new iPhone 5 sold out within an hour. The online store opened at midnight Pacific Time then was almost instantly swamped with pre-orders. Apple shares, by the way, hit an all-time high nearly $700. Anderson, back to you.

COOPER: Susan, thanks very much. We'll be right back.


COOPER: As we close tonight's program, a look once again at the four Americans returning home, four Americans killed in the attacks in Benghazi, Libya, returning home earlier today at Andrews Air Force base.