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First U.S. Airstrikes On ISIS Near Baghdad; New Audio From a Convicted Terrorist Talking to Key ISIS Operative; Christians Currently Suffering Persecution in China

Aired September 15, 2014 - 19:00   ET


ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: OUTFRONT next, breaking news. The United States launching its first air strikes against ISIS near the capital of Iraq in Baghdad. A live report coming up.

Plus, new audio of a key ISIS operative speaking to a convicted terrorists about attacks on Americans. Hear that tape and the code words they used.

And Ray Rice wants his suspension overturned. This as outrage grows over star running back, Adrian Peterson. He's been charged with child abuse. So why is he playing this Sunday? Let's go OUTFRONT.

Good evening. I'm Erin Burnett. OUTFRONT tonight, the breaking news, the first American air strikes on ISIS near the Iraqi capital of Baghdad tonight. This as the United States is trying to build support for its war against ISIS.

But consider this, more than 40 countries have signed on to the coalition against ISIS. That's good news for the United States, right? Well, not so fast. So far, none are committing those all- important troops on the ground. That is the president's chief of staff says those ground troops are required.

Plus, ISIS says more Americans' lives are on the line tonight and the hunt is on for the man who has beheaded three western hostages. Our chief national security adviser, Jim Sciutto is in our Washington Bureau tonight.

Jim, first the breaking news. What can you tell us about these new air strikes near Baghdad?

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, I've spoken to a senior U.S. official a few moments ago. This is what I'm told. These strikes took place today southwest of the capital of Baghdad. This was in support of Iraqi forces that came under fire there.

So in effect they called in close air support from U.S. military aircraft and they came and answered that call. I'm told by this official that this is not the beginning of a big offensive near Baghdad, along the lines of what we saw, for instance, near the Mosul Dam.

This was specific to the events today and specific to that request to answer Iraqi troops in danger.

BURNETT: All right, so obviously the big question here, though, is on troops and the fact that the coalition is getting bigger and bigger, but yet no ground troops have been committed, which as we heard the chief of staff for the president of the United States said this weekend were required. No one else is stepping up yet.

SCIUTTO: No. When they do, it's interesting, Secretary Kerry said that he did have commitments, the U.S. did have commitments, for ground forces. So I spoke to the State Department today and I spoke to Pentagon officials.

They tell me that the ground forces he was speaking of are indigenous forces. So you are talking about Iraqi military, Kurdish, Peshmerga and trained Syrian rebels. Those are the ground forces that they're discussing.

It's not going to be a western nation, as we know, not the U.S. It won't be another Arab nation putting their troops in danger on the ground.

BURNETT: All right, and of course, the question will be whether the president can achieve the mission of destroying ISIS without more ground troops or without American ones. And what about who the U.S. is working with Jim. There's been a lot of back and forth. Will the U.S. be working directly with Syria or Iran?

SCIUTTO: Communicating but not cooperating. That's what we hear. On Iran, the secretary speaking today of back channel communications and surprisingly even on Syria, the way the secretary described it as there are ways in his words to communicate to avoid, again in his words, bad things happening in effect shooting at each other.

So that sort of communication, the very minimum. It's not like they're going to be sitting in a command center somewhere sharing intelligence, picking out targets, et cetera.

BURNETT: All right, thank you very much, Jim Sciutto. Tonight, another gruesome beheading captured on video by ISIS, this time a British aid worker slain by terrorists. Officials scouring this latest video for new clues about the terror group as others, American lives are now on the line. Brian Todd is OUTFRONT.


BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): He's a menacing figure, all too familiar to us now.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This British man has to pay the price.

AKI PERITZ, FORMER CIA OFFICER: This man has become the Bogeyman that scares the west.

TODD: Shortly before the execution of British hostage, David Haines, the ISIS militant in the video threatens Prime Minister David Cameron. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Your evil allies with America who continues to strike the Muslims of Iraq have most recently bombed the Haditha Dam will only accelerate more destruction.

TODD: Aki Peritz who examined every beheading video during the Iraq war for the CIA says there's a reason the militant calls Cameron's government the lap dog of the Americans.

PERITZ: The British government actually isn't carrying out these attacks against ISIS. It's the Americans. He's trying to really link the two together because those are who the hostages he has.

TODD: After Haines' execution, the militant threatens to kill British hostage, Allen Henning, the reference to the Haditha Dam bombing tells us when this video was made, within the past week.

As for where it was, ISIS is being more cagey. In the James Foley video, you can see structures in the background when Sotloff is displayed. In the Foley and Sotloff videos, specific topography is shown.

PERITZ: But in the Haines video, you can't actually see anything. All you see is sky and dirt.

TODD (on camera): Does it tell you they're trying to be more cautious?

PERITZ: Absolutely. They're trying to be much more cautious on where they are shooting these videos. They don't want to actually give away their position to American and British intelligence.

TODD (voice-over): CNN national security analyst, Peter Bergen, says British officials have told him Prime Minister Cameron knows this man's identity. But a British official told me they won't reveal it publicly. The official said that's for security and operational reasons.

MATTHEW LEVITT, WASHINGTON INSTITUTE FOR NEAR EAST POLICY: They're running operations right now not only to try and figure out where he is, but others who are working with him. They may be working with his family to try and lure him back home.


TODD: Could there be a rescue mission for Allen Henning? Britain's foreign secretary has tried to downplay that possibility, telling reporters about Henning, quote, "we don't know where he is" -- Erin.

BURNETT: Daniel Benjamin served as the State Department's top counterterrorism adviser during President Obama's first term. Steven Hadley served as national security adviser under President George W. Bush. He serves on the board of the defense contractor, Raytheon.

Steven, the beheading videos. They have moved the American public, almost every American is aware of them and perhaps because of those videos the public now supports military action in Iraq. Is the U.S. in danger of going to war over the videos?

STEPHEN HADLEY, FORMER NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER TO PRESIDENT BUSH: I don't think so. I think this issue has been brewing for a long time. For three years some of us have been saying the longer this goes the more people that die, the more extreme it will get, more destabilized the neighbors, the more it will unsettle and open the door for al Qaeda.

Regrettably that's what's happened. There has been a three-year debate about whether we should do more on Syria. The president is clearly agonized about it. He's now reached a decision and I support the decision he's made.

And I think the increase in the intelligence estimates of ISIS from 10,000 to 15,000 to maybe 20,000 to 30,000 fighters shows the urgency of getting on with the business of degrading this terrorist threat.

BURNETT: And Daniel, on this issue of the threat that ISIS truly poses to the United States, the Obama administration is making the case that ISIS is unprecedented. Here are some very, very high members of this administration.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's a dangerous, dangerous ideology of a brutality, barbaric nature that we've not seen before.

JOHN KERRY, SECRETARY OF STATE: ISIL is an animal unto itself.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: These terrorists are unique in their brutality.


BURNETT: Unique in their brutality. Dan, are they overselling the threat?

DANIEL BENJAMIN, FORMER STATE DEPARTMENT COUNTERTERRORISM ADVISER: Well, I think there was a lack of message discipline here. I don't think that this is the terrorist group to end all terrorist groups. They are extraordinarily brutal.

That's part of their way of advertising themselves in the way of drawing in recruits. And I think the president appropriately has kind of set some boundaries on what it is that will be said about ISIS.

I think that, you know, the American public as a result of some of those statements, but also an awful lot of really lurid commentary has gotten a mistaken view of what ISIS is.

There's no question it's a big regional threat. It's destabilizing. But it its threat to the U.S. at home is quite limited, as other --

BURNETT: So is a case for war being overstated and oversold? I mean, they're using words like brutality and barbaric to win over the public.

BENJAMIN: Well, the group clearly is brutal and barbaric and the atrocities it's committed speak for themselves. What bothers me is the extent to which the jump has been made that suggests this is a threat to the U.S. at home. That's not demonstrated yet. I think many intelligence analysts have made that clear.

BURNETT: That's interesting you say that's not demonstrated yet. Stephen, when President Bush made his case for war, he spoke about intelligence that Saddam Hussein was trying to buy uranium for nuclear weapons. That intelligence, of course, turned out to be wrong.

You've said you were to blame for it being included in the president's speech. You believe that war was justified regardless. But my question is, is the administration at risk of rushing before they have all the facts nailed down, before they can make the complete case about the ISIS threat?

HADLEY: No, I don't think so. I think they have a lot of facts about ISIS. I think what is unique about this organization is not just its brutality, but the fact we have an organization now that controls a large swath of territory bordering on sides of the border between Iraq and Syria that has now 20,000 to 30,000 fighters by the intelligence community estimates.

It is largely self-funded because it has oil that it can sell. It has banks it's been taken over. It's got an extortion ring and they are a threat to our interests. We've seen it's a threat to our citizens. Threats to some of our long-standing allies in the region.

And the problem when you have a group that controls territory is they have the stability and the sanctuary from which to plan terrorist attacks. What we know about these groups is that ultimately they get to the United States because it is the United States, as the president said, is the only country that can lead the coalition against them.

So I don't think this is premature at all. I think what the president is doing is something George Bush talked about, fighting the terrorists abroad so we don't have to fight them at home.

BURNETT: Which is a key argument. Daniel, General McChrystal obviously was one of the leaders against the counterinsurgency in Iraq. On Friday he told me that this threat of ISIS is as bad as anything he saw in Iraq. And he does think it's a threat to the United States. What case still needs to be made? What facts do you still need to say, they've got their ducks lined up, this is a real argument for war?

BENJAMIN: What I'm objecting to is some of the hysteria we've heard from Washington about sleeper cells honeycombing our cities, bombs that are going to destroy whole cities, an imminent terror threat at home. I think it's the right thing to take action, but I think we should understand what it is we're doing and we should be aware of the slippery slopes we may be getting onto.

BURNETT: All right, thanks so much to both of you. I appreciate your time tonight.

OUTFRONT next, breaking news, the FBI audio of a convicted terrorist using code words to plan attacks against Americans.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But look, I'm not getting. I need to let you go real quick.


BURNETT: More of our exclusive audio, next.

Plus, should Ray Rice get to play in the NFL again?

And Iraqi Christians have been viciously attacked by ISIS, but the exclusive video OUTFRONT tonight is not from Iraq. It was taken from the most brutal crackdown on Christians in decades. We have a full report.


BURNETT: Tonight, shocking new audio from a convicted terrorist talking to key ISIS operative. CNN has obtained tapes showing the secret ways that ISIS terrorists communicate with one another. They talk in code about planning attacks against America. Wait until you heard the code names that they used for tanks (ph). Deborah Feyerick is OUTFRONT.


DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The Boston man wanted for questioning in connection with ISIS and its grisly propaganda spoke frequently with friends about waging jihad against America and U.S. troops. (INAUDIBLE) and others often spoke in code according to court documents. Culinary school was code for training camps. Peanut butter and jelly code for jihad. Listen as (INAUDIBLE) talks to another English speaker of currently in Somalia who tells him to come fight.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, right now I'm in a culinary school and I just need peanut butter and jelly.

FEYERICK: The phone call recording were introduced at Mohammed (ph) terror trial. Others court record show a Pakistan was referred to as p-tan. Yemen was the YMCA and the FBI was referred to as Bob or Brian. Listen again to Mohammed (ph) asking his unidentified friend for an email address.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you have email or something you're checking or just the phone?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm not even on the Internet. Trust me. There's no way I'm going to be on the internet. So there's -- not that there isn't some here, but where I am now, no. FEYERICK: Prosecutors say both Mohammed (ph) and suspected ISIS

fighter Abu Samra (ph) traveled to Yemen together in 2004, initially telling U.S. authorities they were going to check out schools. Prosecutors say they were unable to find a training camp in Yemen. However, Abu Samra (ph) led to the traveled to Fallujah, in Iraq, in February 2004 during U.S. fighting there. Two years later, Abu Samar (ph) he was studying computer science at the University of Massachusetts in Boston when FBI agents questioned him about his travel. He left weeks later and fled to Syria. His buddy (INAUDIBLE) never traveled there, though his other friend encouraged him to wage jihad.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But look, I'm not gets antsy. I'm going to give you an advice and I have to let you go real quick. Come now.

FEYERICK: Deborah Feyerick, CNN, New York.


BURNETT: Incredible. Peanut butter and jelly referring to jihad.

OUTFRONT tonight, CNN terror analyst Paul Cruickshank.

You know, the conversations are chilling in part because they're completely unaccented. They're completely the sorts of tone that somebody might just have in a regular conversation. Yet they're talking about attacking Americans. What is the United States doing to track down people like that?

PAUL CRUICKSHANK, CNN TERROR ANALYST: Well, there's no higher priority for the Americans, for the United States counterterrorism serve services than tracking these Americans in Syria. They believe there are up to 100 of them, perhaps a dozen with ISIS. They're using all sorts of techniques, electronic eavesdropping, monitoring social media, working with the Turkish government as well because a lot of them go through Turkey. But I thought they have a lack of human intelligence in Syria and there is no government there really to work with. That is of course the Assad regime is the government at the moment.

BURNETT: Right. And such a lack of intelligence on the ground when they went to try to rescue the Americans they weren't there when they got there. Now, there have been cases where a westerner gets radicalized, turns to jihad and then becomes a double-agent. Comes back and works for intelligence agencies. You've just written a book called "agent storm." This is one of the most incredible story I have ever heard, about a man name Morgan Storm. He was a radical. He switched and he became one of the top agents essentially for the CIA, for the Brits. I mean, this an incredible story. Your documentary is airing tomorrow. I want to give you a chance to talk about it. But I want to play everybody a clip because this is so incredible.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For half a decade, he says he moved back and forth between two worlds and two identities. When one misplaced sentence could have cost him his life.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You don't know what angle he's playing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Traveling between atheism, hard-line Islam, English and Arabic.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In one minute he is 007, on the other side he is now part militant circle.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Between being an agent, the western intelligence and sworn member of al-Qaeda, Storm says he was a double-agent so trusted by al-Qaeda terror leaders, he even fixed one up with a blonde European wife.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A unique powerful weapon in the war on terror who says he got results.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have been responsible of 30 kills.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thirty terrorists killed.


BURNETT: I mean, his story is incredible. Even down to the point where he was really pout in a role of finding this wife. And on the other side, al-Awlaki was rusting him, trusted him completely.

CRUICKSHANK: And Al-Awlaki trusted him as American terrorist (INAUDIBLE), trusted him because he was friends with al-Awlaki. Originally this guy was deep inside al-Qaeda's world. Well, he was a true radical. Then he flipped and started working for the CIA, British intelligence, Danish intelligence. He was their most valuable agent in a period on to 911, Erin.

BURNETT: I mean, that is incredible. And what you learned about what was going on in Awlaki's head too is also very bizarre. I mean, he was thrilled when he got this hot blonde wife, right?

CRUICKSHANK: Yes. He wanted a convert, a European sister to marry her, his third wife, to share his life in the tribal areas of Yemen. As he was plotting the under wear bombing attack, he was also emailing more than this guy all about this blonde European wife that he wanted. Eventually that became a CIA honey pot trap operation where they wanted her to go in with a tracking device in her suitcase all the way into Yemen and that would be the way they would locate --

BURNETT: So he planted that, right? She wasn't even necessarily aware, right?

CRUICKSHANK: No, she wasn't aware. She was a radical.

BURNETT: She believed.

CRUICKSHANK: She wanted to marry al-Awlaki. He spotted her on a facebook fan page Awlaki. He met her in (INAUDIBLE). They set up this whole operations. She eventually goes to Yemen with a suitcase, with the tracking device. When she gets to the camp (ph) of Yemen, al-Qaeda tell her to repack the suitcase. She has to leave the suitcase there. So they don't managed to get ahold of al-Awlaki situation. Al-Awlaki then sends an email to storm saying she was better than expected. That mission failed but other missions in the documentary tomorrow night that followed on from that.

BURNETT: Wow. That's incredible. You sitting talking about, you know, sex with a blonde wife while he's planning the underwear attack. It is incredible. And this entire story defies belief. It's wonderful and it is going to be on CNN tomorrow "Double Agent, inside al-Qaeda for the CIA." It is tomorrow night, 9:00 eastern right here on CNN. And it is worth every minute with Paul Cruickshank.

ISIS first made global headlines in part for its aggressive targeting of Christians in Iraq. But right now at this moment, Iraq is not the only country where Christians are currently suffering persecution. Christians in China are facing the most brutal crackdown in decades from their own government.

Tonight, we have exclusive video OUTFRONT that shows police beating church members. David McKenzie has our report.


DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Extraordinary scenes of defiance in the middle of the night. A church congregation barricading themselves in from hundreds of riot police. It's happening in the (INAUDIBLE), known as Jerusalem of China where, for months, the government has demolished scores of churches and torn down hundreds of crosses.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): What the government here is doing is so barbaric. Today we've seen the fundamental symbol of our faith violated and it hurts us deep inside our hearts.

MCKENZIE: (INAUDIBLE) is a respected church leader in Wenzo (ph). He says the faithful now live in fear.

In this amateur video obtained by CNN and in the Salvation Church security camera footage, police brutally beat the faithful and drag them away. Still, Christians here aren't backing down.

For more than two months they've had people here day and night 24/7 guarding the gates of this church to stop the communist party from coming in and tearing down their cross.

I'm going to hold the cross in my arms and protect it, says this man. We didn't steal. We didn't rob. We didn't take drugs. What did we do?

Through sate media, local authorities say they are targeting all illegal structures. But party documents show that churches are a focus. Church leaders say their crime was to become too numerous, too intimidating for a party long suspicious of the faithful.

Recent research shows that there could soon be more Christians than communist party members, and in 15 years more Christians in China than anywhere else, facts disputed by the party.

(INAUDIBLE) says that Christians have no interest in politics, but he has a warning.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): The law enforcers are breaking the law themselves. If they keep doing things this way, there is a saying, those who play with fire will get burned.

MCKENZIE: After violent clashes, Salvation Church members push back the police, but they came back with reinforcements several weeks later and stripped the church of its cross. Still, the devout say they won't stop believing because their faith is too strong.


BURNETT: I mean, the video of that beating, David, just -- it is horrible to watch. And when you talk about the fear the government must have they could soon have more Christians and members of the communist party that's a stunning statistic. And in fact, they are so sensitive to the story in your reporting that the communist party has blocked out your reports on the story, right?

MCKENZIE: That's right, Erin. And they've been blocking the story out every time it airs. And I think the reason is because the communist party in China promotes this image of social harmony, religious freedoms and this story and those brutal images of Chinese police smacking those protesters, often peaceful protesters, in the head in one case just flies in the face of the image that the Chinese communist party wants to put out there.

And some disturbing news, the church where you saw that standoff between the churchgoers and the police, the pastor of that church, who are trying to organized people to save their cross, to save their congregation, he could now face ten years in detention here in China for rallying the faithful -- Erin.

BURNETT: Wow. David McKenzie, thank you very much. We continue to follow that story with that outstanding reporting.

And next, some say Ray Rice's suspension is too much. He is expected to appeal it. Could he be hearing the cheers again? The players association speaks out here.

And a woman whose story of abuse disturbingly echoes that of Janay Rice. How the Rice video prompted her to share her story. T


BURNETT: We are standing by for a decision that could pit Ray Rice against the NFL. The NFL, of course, banned him for knocking out his now-wife in a casino elevator. Rice and the players association could each appeal that suspension at any moment.

At issue is whether the league and its commissioner, Roger Goodell, punished Rice twice for the same incident. In a moment, you're going to hear from the president of the NFL players association, Eric Winston. He's with my in an exclusive interview to break his silence.

But, first, Miguel Marquez is OUTFRONT with more on Goodell's handling of this and other domestic abuse issues.


MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): "Goodell must go", that banner flying over four NFL games. The league's commissioner, Roger Goodell, in the spotlight and under pressure in the handling of the case of Ray Rice and now multiple scandals facing NFL players.

ESPN's Hannah Storm made an on-air impassioned plea, questions from her daughter.

HANNAH STORM, ESPN ANCHOR: Mom, why did he do that? Why is he in jail? Why didn't he get fired? And yesterday, why don't they even have control of their own players?

MARQUEZ: ESPN's Cris Carter even more to the point -- the boiling point.

CRIS CARTER, ESPN: Take them off the danggone field, because you know what? As a man, that's the only thing we really respect. We don't respect no women! We don't respect no kids! The only Roger needs to do, take them off the field.

MARQUEZ: Frustration with the national sports growing, the handling of the Ray Rice case first suspended two games, then indefinitely fired from the Ravens after that video came to light on TMZ Sports. Now, an outside investigation by former FBI director Robert Mueller into the NFL's handling of the entire matter. As he tries to repair the damage, Ray Rice made his first public appearance going back to the beginning, his high school alma mater New York's New Rochelle Huguenots.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We always support Ray, even though we don't support what his actions and what he did.

MARQUEZ: The damage to the NFL not limited only to Ray Rice. Vikings star Adrian Peterson reactivated today, sitting out a single game after being charged with child abuse. Disturbing pictures surfaced of his alleged spanking or abuse of his own 4-year-old son.

RICK SPIELMAN, VIKINGS GENERAL MANAGER: The photos are disturbing. I understand that. But we also think that it is right for him to go through the process legally.

MARQUEZ: And domestic violence on top of the Carolina Panthers agenda, too. Defensive end Greg Hardy deactivated right before Sunday's game, after appealing a guilty verdict of violence and threats with his former girlfriend, coach Ron Rivera says Hardy will be reactivated pending a jury trial.

RON RIVERA, CAROLINA PANTHERS HEAD COACH: I'm very proud of our team for dealing with the distraction that we had to deal with. I'm going to take football questions now, OK? Because if not, guys, I'm going to be done.

MARQUEZ: The NFL under major league scrutiny -- players, coaches and fans answering and considering questions rarely front and center.


MARQUEZ: Now, Ray Rice has until tomorrow end of day in order to file that appeal with the commissioners. It is expected that he will at some point tomorrow file that appeal. And when he does, it will kick off a whole other process now of hearings. Ray Rice will be able to bring individuals, to stand up for his side of it. The commissioner will do the same. And it is likely that the commissioner and the players union will appoint others to oversee that entire process -- Erin.

BURNETT: Thanks, Miguel.

And now I want to bring in president of the NFL Players Association, Eric Winston.

And, Eric, obviously you are a very central player in all of this. The Players Association has until tomorrow to appeal Rice's indefinite suspension. Should Ray Rice be allowed to play again?

ERIC WINSTON, PRESIDENT, NFL PLAYERS ASSOCIATION: I think so. I think that we're all entitled to a second chance. Obviously, he made a horrific mistake, and he's going to pay for it. He's already been disciplined once, actually been disciplined multiple times by the commissioner. And -- get to that later.

But I think he's got to concentrate on himself. I know he is. And getting right and understanding what his mistakes were. And he'll move down the road on that.

BURNETT: Let's talk about the punishments that have been dealt out. You know, at first, Roger Goodell issued a two-game suspension to Rice early on because of the incident. Was that fair and just, the two- game suspension?

WINSTON: Well, I don't think it's my role to decide whether that's a good suspension, that's a lenient or was it a hard suspension. That's not my role to play in this. My role to play as president of the union is to make sure that his due process rights are -- are adjudicated. That he's able to -- that he's able to understand his rights, understand what he has as far as being a member of the union.

I think, like I said, obviously, we don't condone what he did. We don't condone what happened. But at the same time, we have a role to play in that issue.

BURNETT: So a month after the league suspended Rice for two games, they increased the penalties, of course, as we're all aware for domestic violence. So, the first offense is now a six-game suspension; the second offense a lifetime ban from the league.

You know, you talk about everyone deserving second chances, and I think a lot of people in America feel that way in general about life. But in this situation, 150 million American fans are women. About 45 percent of the NFL fans are female.

Should there be any tolerance for abuse? Or is this a case where maybe it is a one strike, you're out?

WINSTON: I know what you're saying, and I understand because I hear it from women, I hear it from men. And you hear it from our players in the National Football League. They're not happy about this, either. This has obviously tarnished the league. And it reflects badly on the players.

Like I said, the vast, vast majority of our players are doing great things around this country in the cities they live in, helping -- whether it's helping children, helping communities, however they can to help out and take their role and to be a role model. But like I said, one is too many. But at the same time there are a lot of great guys in this league.

BURNETT: And I mean, in a sense, you did answer my question because you did say Ray Rice should be allowed to play again. So, that isn't a "one strike, you're out." That's -- you think he should be allowed to learn from his lesson.

But on this issue of NFL overall -- and this issue and Ray Rice has raised this to the national attention, right?

Four domestic assault cases at least are on the table right now. Ray Rice, obviously. Adrian Peterson, reinstated after not playing this week for injuring his son. Ray McDonald; he is still playing after he was arrested for domestic violence. Greg Hardy expected to play again after being sidelines just this past weekend because he was found guilty on a domestic violence charge.

These cases are all out there, and I've got to be honest with you -- if the Ray Rice case hadn't happened, it doesn't seem like frankly, the American public had noticed -- fair point, right? But it certainly doesn't seem like the Players Association or the leadership of NFL thought this was that serious of an issue.

WINSTON: I don't know if jumping to conclusions and jumping and saying, well, this guy should never play again or even though we don't know the fact of the case, let's pull him off the field and --

BURNETT: Well, some of these guys have been found guilty, let's just be clear. Have been found guilty. It's not as if the courts haven't found them guilty.

WINSTON: Exactly right. And I think -- and through the CBA, it allows -- listen, I'm not against discipline. Let's make that -- the P.A. is not against discipline. The only thing we want to make sure is that when our players get disciplined, that if they feel like they need to be appealed, that needs to be appealed for whatever reason, that they have the ability to do it.

Like I said, I'm not -- I'm not for anybody being able to play no matter what they did. I think it's an honor and privilege to play in this league. But at the same time, I am for their due process, and if they feel like they have something that needs to be heard, then we're going to help them with that.

BURNETT: You know, because you mentioned earlier the whole issue of role models. You know, I think we all know the NFL is incredibly powerful, which it is, around the world because it makes the money it makes. And it makes that because young children become fans of these teams, and they grow through that their whole lives. Young children are a big part of the NFL.

And clearly, some of these things that are happening is not something anyone would want to be a role model for children. So how do you balance that, that you want them to be role models but yet these things are happening and you don't support a zero-tolerance policy?

WINSTON: Obviously there is going be a lot of scrutiny placed on this, and it should be placed on this because I think it's definitely an important issue. Anything that we can do to help our membership, to help our players, to help the guys understand what they need to do to be those role models, what they need to do to be the men they need to be, that we're going to help them and we're going to do everything we can for them.

BURNETT: All right, quickly before we go, Roger Goodell: should he keep his job?

WINSTON: Obviously, there's an issue with player conduct, like you've been referring to. And maybe it's time to take that out of the commissioner's hands and put it into a neutral arbitration process where there can be a fair process for everybody involved. Maybe he can have a fair process where, like you said -- maybe it's a situation where he can discipline guys right out of the gate, maybe he can't. But I think that's something that needs to be explored and needs to be looked into.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Eric. Appreciate your time.

WINSTON: OK, thank you.

BURNETT: Look forward to your feedback on that interview.

OUTFRONT next, it sounds eerily like the Janay Rice story. A woman says her fiance punched her in an elevator and she went on to marry that abuser. Now, she's speaking out.

And we spend $50 billion on our pets, mostly the four-legged sort. But just how far would you go to save a beloved gold fish?


BURNETT: Tonight, the money and power of NFL. Research firm IEG estimates the NFL brings in more than a billion dollars a year in sponsorships, ads. Despite the league's scandals, no major sponsor has dropped its support. But some are coming under fire, like Cover Girl. Cover Girl is the beauty sponsor of the NFL. Some people are so upset with the NFL and Cover Girl, they're posting this image online.

This is the ad for Cover Girl's Baltimore Ravens make up look. The one the right, of course, has been PhotoShopped to give the model a black eye.

Cover Girl has recently taken down its NFL game face Web site. We've reached out to its parent company Procter and Gamble for a response, and sadly at this point we have not heard back.

But what's clear is the video showing Ray Rice punches now-wife Janay has sparked a pivotal moment for domestic violence in the United States. Janay Rice is one of 12 million victims of domestic abuse in the United States alone every year. And when that horrifying video surfaced last week, it triggered a lot of those people to seek help. Hotlines for battered women are ringing off hook. The video giving victims around the country the courage to come forward.

Sara Sidner is OUTFRONT.


SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The disturbing video of Ray Rice knocking out his then-fiancee is having a ripple effect on victims of domestic violence. Since the video was released, the National Domestic Abuse hotline has spiked. An 84 percent increase in calls. The Women's Transitional Living Center, a shelter for domestic abuse victims in Orange County, California, is just one center seeing an upswing in contact.

GIGI TSONTOS, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, WOMEN'S TRANSITIONAL LIVING CENTER: So, that first phone call, no matter what kind of violence you're experiencing is the most difficult one.

SIDNER: For domestic abuse victim, Karrina Zarate, the Rice video was a terrible reminder of what she's been trying to forget for years.

KARRINA ZARATE, DOMESTIC VIOLENCE VICTIM: One of the first times was in an elevator. So when I saw that video the other day of Ray Rice hitting his then-fiancee, if just brought back all those memories. I don't know why when that door closed, my boyfriend at the time, my ex- husband, thought that he could just push me against the wall and punch me in the face.

SIDNER: At the time, she did not file a police report. Instead of letting the Rice video simply send her back to a very dark place, the video prompted her to share her story on Facebook for the first time, hoping it would somehow help others.

ZARATE: Like it or not, I thought it would help. If it helps one to 10 to 100 women out there or more, then that's why I put it up there.

SIDNER: Like Janay Rice, Zarate went on to marry her then-boyfriend, even having three children with him. She says the abuse subsided, but then returned with a vengeance. Zarate said she stayed until the day she came home to find her husband's hand print on her little girl's face. However, police never charged him for child abuse.

ZARATE: When I came home and I saw a mark on my daughter's face, I immediately asked, I said, "What happened?" And he said, "She wouldn't stop screaming." And that was the moment I grabbed my camera and took a picture that will just always, always haunt me.

SIDNER: That day she says social media came to her rescue as her husband attacked her, trying to get her phone, she managed to send a tweet for help.

(on camera): What did you tweet at that moment that saved you?

ZARATE: The tweet that I sent out was, "Help, he's hitting me again." And that's all I sent.

And the people closest to me, one of my girlfriends, came to my house.

SIDNER (voice-over): Police arrived, Zarate filed a report and got a restraining order.

After eight months, Zarate agreed to lift the restraining order because her husband completed his court-ordered counseling. The state dropped the criminal battery charge and he pled guilty to a much lesser charge of disturbing the peace.

Zarate filed for divorce and is living happily with her children. Her husband has visitation rights.

But she knows how hard it is to make that first phone call for help. And she hopes that this terrible video will help other victims come forward and stop the abuse.


SIDNER: Just to give you some abuse of just how pervasive this problem is, the women's shelter we visited here in Orange County has about 100 beds, and they were all full. The director says that's the norm, filled with women and children trying to escape violence -- Erin.

BURNETT: Thank you so much, Sara.

Well, we have called and e-mailed Zarate's husband and attorney. CNN has not yet received a response.

Well, OUTFRONT next, Jeanne Moos on the depths one family went to, to keep their gold fish alive.


BURNETT: And now, let's check in with Anderson with a look at what's coming up on "AC360".

Hey, Anderson.


Yes, we're going to have more on the breaking news. New U.S. airstrikes on ISIS positions just outside Baghdad. Jim Sciutto has the details from Washington tonight. I'll also speak with retired Army Lieutenant General Mark Hertling, who commanded the U.S. forces in Iraq from 2007 to 2009. He says this mission is going to be extremely complicated, the mission against ISIS, he says, more difficult and more complicated than the war in Iraq ever was, also the war in Afghanistan.

Also, a woman's legal nightmare, it began when she got behind the wheel of her car, one of the 2.6 million that were recalled by GM for a problem that could make some of them dangerous and in some cases deadly. Candice Anderson connected to one of those deaths. Poppy Harlow has the report. That's all at the top of the hour, Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Anderson, look forward to seeing that in just a few moments.

Well, some people do just about anything for their dogs or cats. Most likely, you are among that number. But a goldfish? You got to see this.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Deceased goldfish get no respect.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is where they buried my brother.

LOUIS C.K., COMEDIAN: My daughter comes home, why did he die, dad? Come on. Why did he die? Because who gives a (EXPLETIVE DELETED)? That's the reason.

MOOS: But the owners of George the goldfish did give a (EXPLETIVE DELETED). Cared so much they paid for George to have surgery to remove this giant tumor from his head.

DR. TRISTAN RICH, OPERATED ON GEORGE THE GOLDFISH: The fish was having trouble eating, getting around, getting bullied by the other fish.

MOOS: Dr. Tristan Rich of the Lort Smith Animal Hospital in Melbourne, Australia performed the surgery. It took about 45 minutes. First, George was put in a bucket of water laced with an athletic. Then more anesthetic and water were trickled on the goldfish's gills to keep him sedated as the tumor was removed.

George's owners were given a choice, either operate or put the goldfish to sleep. They considered the 10-year-old fish a family pet.

PIP JOYCE, GEORGE'S OWNER: Just as important really if -- I mean, they bring a lot of pleasure these fish in this pond. I mean, they're beautiful to sit and watch.

MOOS: That's George back in his pond doing well after surgery. The vet says the tiny stitches didn't really take, so he had to seal George up with tissue glue.

(on camera): So, how much was the bill for goldfish surgery? The animal hospital says a couple of hundred bucks.

(voice-over): Of course, if the decision to operate had been left up to George --

UNIDENTIFIED CHARACTER: Stop this right now.

UNIDENTIFIED BOY: The fish is talking.

UNIDENTIFIED CHARACTER: But is he saying anything?

MOOS: George should be saying, thanks, even at age 10, he could live another 20-plus years. But folks do not try this at home, unless you want to practice on the kind of goldfish that feed you instead of you feeding them.

(on camera): Scalpel. Nurse, this isn't a scalpel.

(voice-over): Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.


BURNETT: That's a pretty awesome story. I'm not going to comment on what that tumor looked like because it was something edible.

We'll be right back.


BURNETT: Tomorrow night OUTFRONT, the man who changed the way we shop. PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel. We're going to ask him about competing with Apple, online security, and why he's paying people not to go to college. That's tomorrow night at 7:00.

Anderson is now.