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Misogyny, Mental Illness and the Santa Barbara Shooter; President Obama in Afghanistan

Aired May 27, 2014 - 12:00   ET


MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN HOST: LEGAL VIEW with Ashleigh Banfield starts now.

ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, CNN HOST: The rejection, the jealousy and the rage behind the UC Santa Barbara massacre. There is new insight into what drove that killer. As a community gathers to mourn and the families of the dead students make their final arrangements.

Also this hour, the long awaited flight 370 satellite data. It is finally out for all to see today. But what exactly are we learning from it? And by the way what is missing from a very long and complicated mathematical mix?

And if the NSA isn't nosy enough, just wait until you hear all the personal details that so-called data brokers know and sell about you. The data fight front and center today on Capitol Hill.

Hello, everyone, I'm Ashleigh Banfield. It is Tuesday, May 27th. Welcome to LEGAL VIEW. It is a day of mourning for UC Santa Barbara today, as the community tries to pick up the pieces, after yet another mass killing. Families of the six victims who were killed are torn apart. Don't forget, there were so many others as well who were injured. The father of Veronica Weiss, who was killed outside a sorority house, says he cannot believe how his family has now joined the ranks of so many others killed by a deranged gunman.


BOB WEISS, FATHER OF VERONICA WEISS: This is something I don't have any experiences close to this in my life. When somebody close to you dies, reach out to survivors, because even though it feels awkward and you don't have anything to say, every little word, every little sentence on Facebook, it all means something. It means -- you're not alone.

BANFIELD: And while he may be in shock, the father of Christopher Martinez, who was killed at a deli, well, he was far more outraged. He had this powerful message.


RICHARD MARTINEZ, FATHER OF CHRISTOPHER MARTINEZ: I can't tell you how angry I am. It's just awful. And no parent should have to go through this. No parent. To have a kid die because -- in this kind of a situation, what has changed? Have we learned nothing? These things are going to continue until somebody does something. So where the hell is the leadership? Where the hell is these people we elect to Congress and we spend so much money on? These people are getting rich sitting in Congress.

And what do they do? They don't take care of our kids. My kid died because nobody responded to what occurred at Sandy Hook. Those parents lost little kids. It's bad enough that I lost my 20-year-old. But I had 20 years with my son. That's all I'll ever have. But those people lost their children at 6 and 7 years old. How do you think they feel? Who's talking to them is now? Who's doing anything to them now? Who is standing up for those kids who died back then? In an elementary school. Why wasn't something done? It's outrageous.


BANFIELD: It is so hard to hear that. That much pain, that much anger and that question, why didn't anyone do something? It's being asked in many different ways today as well. Could this attack have been prevented? Because sheriff deputies did visit the killer, Elliot Rodger, less than a month ago. After someone from a mental health agency contacted them. Even his family noticed his videos online, talking about suicide and killing people. And made a notification. But when the deputy showed up, Rodgers said it was all a misunderstanding. The officers said he seemed timid, polite, very articulate, and not violent. Nothing was a red flag to them, so they left.

Here is what's really tough to stomach, Rodger wrote in his manifesto about what he was thinking as the cops were right there at his door. And I'm going to quote him. I had the striking and devastating fear that someone had somehow discovered what I was planning to do, and reported me for it. If that was the case, the police would have searched my room, found all of my guns and weapons, along with my writings about what I planned to do with them. I would have been this thrown in jail, denied the chance to exact revenge on my enemies. I can't imagine a hell darker than that.

I'm joined now by psychologist, J. Buzz Von Ornsteiner. CNN legal analyst, Paul Callan, and CNN commentator Mel Robbins. Mel and Paul first to you. It's so upsetting to see the writings. As he looked those officers in the eye and smooth talked his way out of them just reaching that threshold and taking a look around. Paul, what stopped them from taking a look around? even if it would have only taken five more minutes out of their day?

PAUL CALLAN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: In retrospect, it's so disturbing because we know what ultimately happened. But picture these police officers. They're coming into a situation where they don't have a search warrant, so they're not allowed to search his apartment without his permission. He hasn't given permission to do the search. Nor have they inquired. And they also don't know about his hundred thousand pages of twisted bizarre writings. Had they had a little bit of knowledge of what he was posting on the Internet, maybe they would have been more suspicious and sought to search. But he would have said no, is my bet, he wouldn't have let them search.

BANFIELD: Hindsight is 20/20. Great point. So, Mel, it's a mental health professional is calling the police, doesn't that give them probable cause for a warrant? Shouldn't it be automatic?

MEL ROBBINS, CNN COMMENTATOR AND LEGAL ANALYST: No. This is the problem. You watch that heartbreaking father saying what everybody in the wake of these senseless mass shootings says, why is nothing done. I'm going to tell you what the problem is. The problem is that in 23 states, there is a legal definition for when you can commit somebody. They have to be an imminent danger that they're going to harm themselves or harm somebody else.

So when you take a cunning psychopath, like this kid, who's got major plans and can snap in and out of his rage, he has spent a lifetime, it sounds like, conning the adults as he's building up his rage. And unless, unless the police see or unless somebody else, a mental health care professional sees he's an immediate threat to himself, he can't do anything. And that's the problem.

BANFIELD: So I want to shift the focus a little bit on to that father. It breaks my heart every time I see him speak. He said something very articulate about how he will be viewed by those who want to politicize his message. Every time there's a shooting, it becomes politicized. Those who are pro-gun, those who are anti-gun. He spoke to that specifically. And I want you to comment after. Have a listen.


MARTINEZ: I can anticipate that the NRA and some of the gun people are going to be saying it's the rants of a grieving father, he's just emotional and we shouldn't be listening to him. But in fairness to me, I think I can be both emotional and rationale at the same time.


BANFIELD: Okay. Emotional and rational at the same time. Form what I understand this man is an attorney, this man is just days after losing his one and only son. Emotional, rational, can he be?

J. BUZZ VON ORNSTEINER, PSYCHOLOGIST: Oh yes. When we're trying to make sense of the senseless, and trying to fathom how this could happen, and we're trying to focus on how this could have been avoided, I work with many, many parents who feel that same rage, that same anger, that same helplessness, because they're trying to seek some kind of control, and they're trying to see how this could have been avoided.

What we're talking about, if we could only take that anger and that rage and fill it with avocation and advocate for that son or daughter before this happens. To really seek treatment and not seek treatment where they're going behind closed doors with a psychologist, or they're going behind closed doors with a social worker.

The family needs to be involved. The family needs to be part of that treatment. The family needs to be integrated with their son or daughter who clearly is going through some kind of turbulence, either emotional situations within their brain, has a personality disorder, has anger issues, but is in isolation. They're in isolation. And any of us in isolation, when we're left alone, our thoughts do become skewed. We need to interact. We need to be part of this living breathing world.

BANFIELD: I feel as though that is not going to be the last time we see that sound bite. I think there will be many who seize on it for their purposes, whether for or against, for that very reason. Stand by, all of you if you will for a moment. Buzz, Mel and Paul thank you. We're going to talk a little more about this in a moment. Specifically, the notion that some people are calling this terrorism. Want you to think about that.

In the meantime, I have got some other news that just in and it is critical to American foreign policy and security. The president of the United States making a lot of headlines lately. A weekend surprise visit to Bagram air base in Afghanistan where he spoke and shook the hand of every troop there. Today, he's planning to make an announcement that he wants to keep thousands of U.S. troops in Afghanistan after the official end of the war.

That was supposed to come at the end of this year. Perhaps no big surprise, it was the bulk of the troops he'd always wanted to see go and some holdovers for security that could have stayed. Our senior White House correspondent Jim Acosta joins me now with the details. Jim, I listened to him speaking to the troops at Bagram. I listened to him elude to this. But he is not the only part of this equation. There is an Afghan leader incoming, whoever he may be, that has to weigh in on this as well. So just give me the context, if you would.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right. And Ashleigh, we should point out, the president will be in the rose garden at 2:45 this afternoon. He will say once again the U.S. combat mission in Afghanistan is coming to an end at the close of 2014. But in 2015, this is the news here Ashleigh, the president is going to announce the actual troop numbers that we are going to be seeing in Afghanistan come next year.

What the president is going to say, according to a senior administration official, is that the U.S. will keep 9, 800 U.S. forces, personnel, in Afghanistan, through the first half of 2015, and then cut that number in half by the end of 2015 and then, get this, Ashleigh, by the end of 2016, the president is going to announce, the White House is saying, that basically the U.S. force size in Afghanistan will be reduced to the level of embassy protection and the forces that exist at the Bagram air base.

And so this is really putting a full stop to the war in Afghanistan by the end of 2016. And that 9, 800 force size that the president is going to lay out this afternoon, this is basically what U.S. military commanders have been calling for as a bare minimum. So at least the president is going to give them that. Now, you mentioned what the Afghans are going to do about this. The two presidential candidates in Afghanistan indicated they will sign a bilateral security agreement.

That is critical, because the U.S., the president has said he will not keep U.S. forces in Afghanistan, there will be a full withdrawal from Afghanistan at the end of 2014 absent the signing of that bilateral security agreement. The current president, Hamid Karzai, has said no, he's not going to sign it, but the U.S. is saying, the White house is saying, look these two presidential candidates who would take over for Karzai, they're indicating they will sign that agreement. We're going to get actual numbers from the president as to what will happen in that country post-2014 after this very long war in Afghanistan.

BANFIELD: Perhaps some big lessons, Jim, learned from three-plus decades ago when there was a withdrawal that perhaps left a big old mess behind. So it will be interesting to see. Thank you for that, Jim getting some breaking news on the air for us from the White House.

Coming up, I want to go back to that story we were just discussing. The mad man, Elliott Rodger, on the mission for revenge. So the question remains, was this an act of weakness by a severely mentally disturbed individual or should his killing spree be labeled as something very different, like terrorism against women? Think about that over the break. We'll talk about it next.


BANFIELD: A mass murder in California was a lot of things, like heinous and despicable, tragic, devastating. but was it this next thing? Was it terrorism?

CNN's political commentator Sandy Kohn says it was in fact just that, and I'm going to read specifically from her piece today.

"If the Santa Barbara shooter had been Muslim, and left the same sorts of video screeds and more, our government and media would undoubtedly be labeling this incident as terrorism.

"Just as an Islamic fundamentalist terrorist sets out to kill American infidels simply because they are "American infidels," the Santa Barbara shooter set out to kill women simply because they were women.

"You tell me the difference."

That's Sally Kohn writing today, and guess who's here live to talk about that? On the right of your screen, Sally, J. Buzz Von Ornsteiner's with us again, and Mel Robbins is back, as well, political commentator and legal analyst, as well.

So, Sally, usually, I get where you're thinking, and you make a very cogent argument in your piece, but typically terror involves organized groups, and this is one crazy you-know-what.

SALLY KOHN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: So two points to that. First all, it doesn't mean he's not crazy, and I would argue, I argue in the piece, that anyone who resorts to the mass killing of human beings in order to further a political ideology is by definition crazy. In every terrorist incident in the United States abroad we can think of, undoubtedly we can find people who would sympathize with those viewpoints but do not resort to bombs and guns and mass shootings and mass killings. I think anyone who does this is crazy.

Now, some people who are crazy, who commit mass violence, also have a political ideology. I think in this case, in particular, to think that misogyny, that the extreme hatred of women, as a group, is not a political ideology, is not only wrong, right, but it excuses the larger dangers of misogyny in our culture.

And, by the way, he was part of organized groups. He was participating in online hate groups about -- misogynistic hate groups, so I think it's worth talking about this.

BANFIELD: There's the argument, groups, plural. I want to read a couple things. He wrote over 100 pages. A lot of it had to do with women. I'm going to read this one about the perfect guy.

He said, "I'm the perfect guy, and yet you throw yourselves at these obnoxious men instead of me." He's talking about the women. But he's referring to the men as obnoxious. I'm a supreme gentlemen, and all of you men are living a better life than me. All of you sexually active men, I hate you. All you popular kids, you've never accented me and now you will pay for it."

Mel, this sounds as though, while he hated women, he had a lot of hate to go around.

MEL ROBBINS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR AND LEGAL ANALYST: Yeah, I think that his political ideology was "my life sucks and you are all responsible for that." And my concern, although I think you're right, there's obviously always -- it's an important topic to talk about, misogyny in the United States, in particular, and how it impacts women.

But if you do it here, you're missing the bigger point, which is this is a guy that is the classic profile of a mass shooter, mass killer, in the United States, isolated male with a history of mental illness who takes his rage out on the people that he blames for his problems.

And that is the cause of this, not terrorism.

KOHN: First of all, can I just say, though, Hitler didn't like gay people either. That didn't diminish his anti-Semitism, right?

BANFIELD: Or his terror --

KOHN: Islamist extremists often kill other Muslims, and in some cases, resent other Muslims who are not joining their cause. So I don't think we need to draw that distinction.

BANFIELD: I'm looking to the spot in your piece that refers to the Southern Poverty Law Center tracking misogyny, tracking subversive groups that are all hell-bent on the end of women. Not sure how that works for civilization, but after the break, Buzz, I'd like it if you could weigh in on this notion, what you saw in these words -- you read it through a different prism than we do with your training -- if you see everybody angry at everybody and deflecting the blame for his ailments, or if this is somebody that does speak to a larger group that's out there that should be treated, as Sally says, as a group that treats women and thus is terroristic.

Back with that in just a moment.


BANFIELD: Welcome back. Today, we're digging deeper into all of the storylines that are coming out of the mass killing in California.

It did bring up a discussion on mental illness, and, boy, did it. Also brought up a discussion on guns, terror, freedom, Second Amendment, you name it, and, if there's any way, once again, we're asking the question, to stop something like this from happening again. I feel like a broken record.

I'm joined, again, by Sally Kohn, psychologist Dr. Buzz Von Ornsteiner, and CNN commentator Mel Robbins.

Before the break, Dr. Buzz, I asked you to weigh in on what you saw in that 137-page manifesto -- I saw the ravings of a madman. I'm sure you saw much, much more -- and if it comports with what Sally says.

He follows the veins and the streams that are already out there in society of a lot of people who have misogynistic tendencies.

DR. J. BUZZ VON ORNSTEINER, PSYCHOLOGIST: Yes. No, if I could just speculate for a moment, if he was schizophrenic, if he was bipolar and going through a manic phase, he's in isolation.

None of us do well in isolation, but you have these thoughts and you have these feelings. Is it from his culture? Is it from society? Is it from organized groups? Is it from the Internet?

All those things you would take in with the package of how you would try to assess this individual.

So it's all good stuff if you can get it, if people are honest, if parents are forthcoming, if the individual is forthcoming, if the individual truly wants treatment and they don't want to just go back to their room or they just want to go back to their apartment and they want to stay planted in their hatred.

When people are in isolation and they have this hatred, generally, it's pervasive. It can be towards certain groups, certainly. It's very premised. He couldn't get girls, so I hate all women. I can't get this, so I hate all of them.

ROBBINS: I can't stand my roommate who plays video games, so I'm going to stab all three of them.

ORNSTEINER: It's true, who --

BANFIELD: -- very clear to the viewers that this was not just a shooting. It was a tragic shooting without question. It was a stabbing and it was an assault with a vehicle. There were many forms of aggression that this young man --

ORNSTEINER: Planned and --

KOHN: Look, I think that there's -- obviously in my piece I'm not making a prosecutorial argument. I'm making a political argument.

BANFIELD: What's the benefit? Why does this matter?

KOHN: First of all, why as a society, when in the daily lives of 51 percent of our population, the reality of misogyny is far more threatening and real and violent and ugly in all of its forms, date rape and domestic violence and massive inequality than Islamic terrorism ever could be.

But we politicize Islamic terrorism, right? We start wars based on it. We fundraise for political campaigns off of it. We bloat military budgets. But we don't talk about misogyny, number one.

Number two, when these things happen, there tends to be this desire to want to focus on the individual, to make these sort of aberrations, and instead, we should talk about the social structures that make this happen, access to guns and misogyny and all of these trends.

ROBBINS: You can't just take cultural hatred towards women and direct it at this kid and say a kid that's been in therapy since he was 8- years-old, whose parents knew that he was a problem, who was medicated, according to his own statement, for something that they use to treat people with hallucinations, that somehow the cultural hatred of women is playing a very significant role.

It might be, but I think if you focus on the individual -- see, the problem here is that families --

KOHN: But you can't prevent the next individual, whereas you can do something about misogyny. You can do something about access to guns.

ROBBINS: However, parents can be --

ORNSTEINER: Yes, intervention.

ROBBINS: Parents are shy about getting fully involved in the therapy. Here you go, kiddo, go talk to the therapist, instead of going, hey, we all need to be involved.

ORNSTEINER: It's stigmatized, still.

KOHN: Shooting after shooting in our society, and by the way, a school shooting --

ROBBINS: All of them male.

KOHN: Women in school -- all the shooters are male --

ROBBINS: -- all of them with mental illness, all of them with parents that are upset --

KOHN: And women are twice as likely to be the victims of school shootings as men.


KOHN: And look, to say this is all, that this rise we have, in general, not to mention this incident, is not based on the parents should have done something better or the psychiatrists should have done something better, and to isolate it into this sort of individual responsibility as opposed to we as a society have to take some responsibility --

ORNSTEINER: Great, great. I'm with you, absolutely.

BANFIELD: You guys are amazing. I was a viewer right now, watching the three of you. That was remarkable.

And I do believe, listening to all three of you making such salient points, there is a little bit of everything that you all said that's at play here, and there's a lot of lessons to be learned from this awful tragedy.

And I'm sorry there are those out there who have had to bear the brunt of the pain in order for the rest of us to maybe get a clue. I don't know what get a clue means in terms of what's going to be done.

But thank you for your thoughts and thank you for your wisdom on this and your perspective. And great writing, all of you.

Coming up, another thing that we just can't seem to figure out, it vanished into thin air, and now we have more evidence to support why officials are searching in the southern Indian Ocean.

The only thing is, there are a few key things left out, a look at the search for missing MH-370.

Also, whether your shopping and your browsing and your posting on social media Web sites leaves a trail behind that even you don't understand the depths of, it is a trail of data that's being bought and sold.

And, let me tell you, when you find out how much out there is being sold about you, you may be even more shocked than you thought.

But there could be a way out, and it might be coming soon. The news is next.