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House Votes To Arm Syrian Rebels; New U.S. Airstrikes On ISIS; President Barack Obama Insists There Will Be No American Boots on the Ground to Fight ISIS; Massive Manhunt Under Way in Eastern Pennsylvania; Interview with Peter King; Interview with Tom McClintock

Aired September 17, 2014 - 19:00   ET


ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: OUTFRONT next, breaking news, the House votes to arm Syrian rebels as ISIS releases a new video warning President Obama tonight that's OUTFRONT.

Plus, 13 years after 9/11, U.S. officials warn that commercial flights are a major target for terrorists as ISIS urges lone wolves to bomb Times Square and Las Vegas.

And a massive manhunt at this hour in Pennsylvania. Troopers looking for an armed and extremely dangerous man who is described as a delusional survivalist. Let's go OUTFRONT.

Good evening. I'm Erin Burnett. OUTFRONT tonight, breaking news, the United States House of Representatives votes to arm Syrian rebels. U.S. fighter drones and jets are launching new airstrikes against ISIS targets in Iraq today.

And also tonight despite the president's insistence that there will be no U.S. boots on the ground in this war, he said that there are things only America can do.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: When the world is threatened, when the world needs help, it calls on America. Even the countries that complain about America, when they need, who do they call? They call us.


BURNETT: Plus, this looks like a Hollywood trailer. Slickly put together. ISIS calls it the quote/unquote, "flames of war." It is the terror group's newest video threatening to blow up the White House and kill U.S. troops.

All of this as the administration continues to try to explain why the president and his top general are saying different things about the war. Chief national security correspondent, Jim Sciutto is OUTFRONT.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): At Central Command today, the headquarters for all U.S. military operations against ISIS, President Obama reiterated his now familiar promise. No U.S. ground troops.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: I want to be clear. The American forces that have been deployed to Iraq do not and will not have a combat mission.

SCIUTTO: Today's pledge triggered by his commanders repeated comments just a day ago that in fact there were several circumstances under which the U.S. may need ground forces.

GENERAL MARTIN DEMPSEY, CHAIRMAN, JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF: If we reach a point where I believe our advisers should accompany Iraq troops on attacks against specific ISIL targets, I'll recommend that to the president.

SCIUTTO: Administration officials insist vehemently there is no daylight between the statements. Still the comments alarmed and confused many, including some of the president's fellow Democrats.

REPRESENTATIVE NANCY PELOSI (D), HOUSE MINORITY LEADER: I will not vote for combat troops to engage in war. We are not there to support combat troops in any of these engagements.

SCIUTTO: Today the president's own former defense secretary, Robert Gates, said on CBS that mission creep is inevitable.

ROBERT GATES, FORMER DEFENSE SECRETARY: So there will be boots on ground if there is to be any hope of success in the strategy. And I think that by continuing to repeat that, the president in a fact traps himself.

SCIUTTO: A blistering editorial in "The New York Times" went further, arguing, quote, "Even though General Dempsey's remarks were conditional, the Obama administration has turned on a dime in record time and opened the door to deeper and more costly American involvement.

Today, 1,700 U.S. troops are now in Iraq. At the peak of the Iraq war, there were nearly 100 times that.

NICHOLAS BURNS, FORMER STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: I assume what the president means no ground forces in Iraq, he means no organized division or core of the type that we did deploy to Iraq in 2003. This is a different American military operation, primarily an air campaign. But it has to be assisted by some people on the ground, Special Forces trainers, that kind of thing.


SCIUTTO: In the president's comments today and Secretary Kerry's comments today, clearly the administration is making a distinction now between a combat mission and being in combat. They say U.S. troops will not have a combat mission. They will not be kicking down doors and taking up firing

positions, but they may very well find themselves in combat on the frontlines as White House spokesman, Josh Earnest said.

Now as someone who has reported on combat before in Iraq and Afghanistan. If you are in combat, regardless of what your role, you are certainly facing danger.

Now if that is a violation of the spirit of the president's pledge not to have ground troops, that is for others to decide. But clearly, Erin, today, even within his own party and even lawmakers in his own party were demanding clarification.

BURNETT: All right, Jim Sciutto, thank you very much. It's going to be a tough question, of course, to destroy ISIS. If you need ground troops to do it, as this administration has says, no one else offers them as they have not. Who then will do it?

Now to that new ISIS video produced as a Hollywood trailer called, quote, "flames of war." Tom Foreman is OUTFRONT.


TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The video is slick, fast and precisely the kind of packaging we've come to expect from ISIS. About a minute long, it suggest the terrorist group would ravage U.S. ground troops.

But key scenes like this one showing an explosion and this one showing fighters at a corner, are repeated as if the filmmakers have limited clips and time and again walls of fire are visually imposed upon images of Americans.

That is a message to analysts like Frank Sulla who studies propaganda at George Washington University.

FRANK CILLUTTO, HOMELAND SECURITY POLICY INSTITUTE: They are trying to project a power that they arguably do not have.

FOREMAN: Without underplaying the real threat, that is likely true. The ISIS army pushes shocking videos of beheadings and videos like this one showing a Syrian jet they claim to have shot down. But that does not mean they could handle a head on battle with coalition forces. So what is the goal?

CILLUTTO: One, try to recruit and radicalize others to their aberrant cause, notably westerners. It is also intended to signal fear the audience, in this case the United States. And it is also being used to fundraise and try to incite some of our own home-grown jihadist threats.

FOREMAN (on camera): And there is one other big goal in releasing such as this, getting people to share it on the Internet, spreading the message to audiences far beyond the reach of ISIS.

(voice-over): In military terms that process is a force multiplier, transforming what could be a cheap movie made by one person with a laptop into something much more menacing. Tom Foreman, CNN, Washington.


BURNETT: Joining me now is Republican Congressman Tom McClintock along with Van Jones, a co-host of CNN's "Crossfire." He also worked in the Obama administration.

Congressman, you saw this latest video that they are calling "flames of war." Recent polling shows 94 percent of Americans say they know about the beheadings and that is because of the ISIS videos. So are videos like this pushing the United States toward a war and perhaps putting U.S. lives at risk.

REPRESENTATIVE TOM MCCLINTOCK (R), CALIFORNIA: If we've learned everything over the past few years, is that if we put our young people in harm's way, we owe it to them to back them with the full might and fury, resources and commitment of the country.

And I don't see the consensus there either throughout the country or within the administration to sustain what would be required for a war of that magnitude. I think the president is right to order a select air attacks where we have resistance forces that are in direct confrontation with the Islamic state where we can turn the tide of battle, we can and should.

But I think that anything further than that, we have got to do a very serious gut check as a nation and as a government as to whether we are willing to put the resources behind what would be necessary to provide the support to our troops that we have denied them these past 13 years.

BURNETT: And of course this is the big question about ground troops. But Van, you know, when the president has been making his argument to tell the nation that this is a threat and that the United States needs to do something about it.

He has been doing so in language that he is eerily familiar to President George W. Bush in the run up to his war against al Qaeda. Let me play it for you.


PRESIDENT OBAMA: The United States of America will continue to do what we must do to protect our people.

FORMER PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: All nations should know that America will do what is necessary to ensure our nation's security.


BUSH: The face of terror is not the true faith of Islam.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: It will take time to eradicate a cancer like ISIL.

BUSH: Americans should now expect one battle, but a lengthy campaign.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: If you threaten America, you will find no safe haven.

BUSH: These enemies view the entire world as the battlefield and we must pursue them wherever they are.


BURNETT: That is eerie, Van.

VAN JONES, CNN HOST, "CROSSFIRE": Sure, but that's also about where the similarities end. This is a very different situation. Before you had Iraq as a stable dictatorship with no weapons of mass destruction. No role in 9/11 and we went in with ground troops.

This is a different situation 13 years later. It is an unstable country. It's absolutely being overrun by terrorists. You have something even worse than al Qaeda there.

And the president saying no ground troops. I think that is important. And also I think it is important to realize that today was a historic day. Congress acted normally. There was bipartisan support for the president, bipartisan opposition to the president, and we are actually now functioning like a normal democracy.

We don't have lock step opposition to everything the president does and this partisan gridlock. That is important. Another thing that is important that we haven't talked about, 50 countries are standing with the president and the United States against these butchers. That is also important deal.

The reason I think people are concerned, though, is when you start talking about training folks on the ground in Syria. There is concern there may be blow back, who are these people. That is a real concern, but we are making progress as a country.

BURNETT: All right, and I want to talk about that. There were people who voted against arming the Syrian rebels today on both the Republican and Democratic side.

Congressman, you were one of them. You voted against arming the Syrian rebels as Van is talking about today's vote. And I want to ask you, though, because it's not just the president who says that arming the Syrian rebels is the right thing.

I had General Stanley McChrystal on the show. He obviously led the counter insurgency in Iraq and I asked him whether he think the U.S. should arm the Syrian rebels.

And I wanted to play to you his answer because he didn't try to sugar coat it, but he said, yes.


GENERAL STANLEY MCCHRYSTAL, U.S. ARMY (RETIRED): I think it's a necessary move.

BURNETT: Even if those weapons end up in the arms of a group that want to use them against the United States?

MCCHRYSTAL: I think it is. I think clearly some of those will, but I think you must take that risk because look at the alternative of not doing that, you leave a vacuum and you leave them in a position where they won't be major players.


BURNETT: Congressman, why is the general wrong? Why is the president wrong?

MCCLINTOCK: I think it will come back and bite us. The Free Syrian Army that we are now arming is a marriage of convenience among various Islamic factions that have a long history of collaborating with the Islamic state.

Furthermore their central mission is not to destroy the Islamic state, their central mission is to destroy the government of Syria, which despite the despotism, is actively engaged in attacking the Islamic state.

I think we're making the same mistake that George W. Bush made in attacking Iraq as Van Jones mentioned. As despicable a dictator Saddam Hussein was, he was not responsible for anything that happened on 9/11. He was not harboring weapons of mass destruction.

And when we went in there and destabilized, we created the vacuum. I think that arming the Syrian rebels has exactly the same potential. I think that those American arms could very easily be turned against the Syrian government.

Which would actually work to the Islamic state's benefit or could be turned directly over to the Islamic state as we watch the carefully vetted Iraq army do just a few weeks ago with American arms. That is why the Islamic state is armed to the teeth with American equipment.

BURNETT: Well, they do of course reportedly have very significant American weapons. Thanks to both of you.

And OUTFRONT next, America's top military leader said half of Iraqi troops are not fit to take on ISIS. So how can they lead the ground war and make it possible for the United States not to be involved?

And a massive manhunt, the search on for a dangerous sniper, a survivalist and sharp shooter. They say he is delusional. It's a bizarre story that's next.

Plus a new terror threat to commercial flights. It is not just ISIS that U.S. intelligence is worried about.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BURNETT: The president insists there will be no American boots on the ground to fight against ISIS. But what about the Iraqi troops he is relying on to do the job instead. Well, the chairman of the joint chiefs Mark Dempsey told the "Associated Press" today that only half of the 50 Iraqi army brigades are capable. Dempsey said that the other half contain too much sectarian division. So when you do that math you end up with perhaps zero.

Anna Coren had been embedded with troops fighting against ISIS in Northern Iraq. She joins me now from Erbil, Iraq. And Anna, what you can tell us specifically about the Iraq forces?

ANNA COREN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Erin, we've been embedding with the Peshmerga, the Kurd forces up here in northern Iraq. But I can tell you that the Iraqi security forces, they are the ones that deserted many of the towns and cities when ISIS made their advance back in June.

You know, General Dempsey is saying that half of the brigades were incapable of partnering with the United States to push back ISIS is extremely alarming, but not surprising. You know, this was a force that was a sectarian military with a sectarian leadership governed by the former prime minister Nouri al-Maliki. He excluded the Sunni officers from the military and created the sectarian military.

So that is why General Dempsey is saying that half of the military is too heavily weighted, Shiite, rendering them really to be ineffective as far as being this unifying force. So that, of course, is the concern here.

Also, you know, partially rebuilding the other half of the military. You know, the United States has invested so much money into Iraq and training, equipping the military. Well it was that military that left the city of Mosul, Tikrik, Fallujah, Kirkuk, you know, they ran when ISIS was approaching and left all of the equipment that the Americans have given them. So that certainly is the problem, Erin, when it comes to the Iraqi forces.

As far as the Peshmerga go, the Kurdish forces here in northern Iraq was embedded with them over the last couple of weeks. They are far more of a unified force but they will tell us quite frankly, they need help. They need weapons. They need arms. They need, you know, ammunition. They need intelligence and they need training. So when we sat down with the Kurdish president Massoud Barzani a few days ago, he actually told us, Erin, that he would welcome foreign forces on the ground to help his troops here in northern Iraq.

BURNETT: All right. Anna Coren, thank you very much.

Of course, none of those foreign troops have been announced from anybody.

I want to bring in our military analyst, lieutenant colonel Rick Francona.

Colonel, you just heard Anna reporting about the Iraqi troops. Of course, General Dempsey saying half of them are not capable, the other half are fighting themselves. She is talking about how they fled. They left their weapons. ISIS got those weapons. Is there anything realistic about this, this hope that Iraqi troops are going to fight this battle?

LT. COL. RICK FRANCONA, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Well hopefully with the Americans there now, we've had several months working with them. They can change the leadership. It was the leadership that failed. The troops can fight if they were led properly. They were not properly. The leadership left and the troops just fled with them.

BURNETT: So do you think this is possible? I mean, there is a lot that needs to be done. But this is actually possible. They are not capable.

FRANCONA: Look at the numbers. I mean, 26 brigades is almost 80,000 troops to fight 30,000 ISIS at their best. So if we can get those mobilized and get the 100,000 Kurds who we know are well led and now being well equipped because the foreign equipment is flowing directly to the Kurds, there is a chance to turn Iraq around on the ground. That's not the problem. The problem will be later in Syria.

BURNETT: The problem will be later. OK. But I think this is a crucial point you are making. You are talking about 80,000 men and even if -- even the majority of them -- I mean, a lot of them were running, I mean, that was in the report. She said running from Mosul and I understand your point that that is a leadership issue. But I'm back to the point of whether you actually think that they can win this on their own.


BURNETT: Without ground troops. Because you know, John Kerry been out there trying to get ground troops from other countries that are not Iraqi. But he's gotten nowhere.

FRANCONA: But the force model player here is American air power, American intelligence, American advice, American logistics support. So that is going to turn the tide. And we are already starting to see it. They stopped the advance. ISIS is not longer making advances in Iraq. ISIS is actually being stopped and rolled back. And they are going to start in that south, just southwest of Baghdad where you saw those initial U.S. airstrikes going in there. That was the leading edge of the ISIS advance. That has stopped and are rolling back and we saw this at the Iraqi army now moving into three other cities up alone in the Tigris valley. So that is how they are going to turn this. And eventually they will get the upper hand and with American air power, they will turn this back.

BURNETT: All right, thank you very much. Colonel Francona.

And tonight, a massive manhunt under way in eastern Pennsylvania. This is for a man, police say, is extremely dangerous and armed. Eric Matthew Frein is wanted for gunning two states trooper, killing one and seriously wounding another.

Rosa Flores has a bizarre new details about the man, police say, may be on the hunt for more police officers to kill.


ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): By air and land, the hunt is on for suspected cop killer Eric Matthew Frein. Police say the 31-year-old survivalist seen in these newly released photos is no longer the clean-cut looking man he appeared to be for years.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He currently has his head shaved on both sides and long hair on top and it is wider than a Mohawk on top.

FLORES: A change investigators say Frein made in preparation for the shooting.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Frein belonged to a military simulation unit based in eastern Pennsylvania in which participants assume the role of shoulders in eastern European countries. In his current frame of mind, Frein now appears have assumes to have developed that role in real life.

FLORES: It all began late Friday night. Police say Frein waited in the woods outside Blooming gross state police barracks, firing four shots, killing corporal Byron Dixon and seriously injuring trooper Alex Douglas.

Three days after the shooting, police find a clue about two miles from the scene from a man walking his dog who saw a jeep partially submerged in a small body of water.

The reservoir where the suspect's jeep was found was just beyond these woods. The owner of this property allowed us in. but the access came with a warning. A warning we also received from state police. Don't meander in the woods, because armed search teams are everywhere.

Inside the car, his driver's license, military gear and shell casings matching the evidence left at the crime scene.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In the event you are listening to this broadcast on a portable radio, Eric, we are coming for you. It is only a matter of time before we bring you to justice for committing this cowardly attack.

FLORES: Hundreds of officers have joined the search. Frein's family told investigators two guns are missing from the home, including an AK-47.

Former Pennsylvania law enforcement officer Joe Peters?

JOE PETERS, FORMER PENNSYLVANIA LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICER: We have a suspect in this case who is anti-government, he is a hunter, he is a woodsman and he is alleged to be a survivalist. That is a deadly cocktail.

FLORES: Local schools are closed and Frein's face is on fliers all over town as the community lives in fear.


FLORES: And here we are five days after that shooting. Hundreds of clues have come in. No sign of this man yet. The D.A. making one thing very clear, if you help or harbor this man you will be prosecuted.

And Erin, about this community living in fear, we do hear tonight that they are in solidarity. You will see blue lights both inside and outside of homes in honor of the trooper who died -- Erin.

BURNETT: Rosa Flores, thank you.

And in OUTFRONT next, the Minnesota Vikings do an about face. Adrian Peterson side lines. Did they do the right thing?

At the top, U.S. counterterrorism official warns today the commercial flights are a top target.

And as Scotland prepares to vote for independence, well, we have a bizarre take on this. Something that Scottish banned in the U.S.


BURNETT: Tonight a new terror threat to commercial flights and it is not just ISIS that U.S. intelligence is worried about. Deborah Fayerick is OUTFRONT.


DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): With ISIS propaganda out of Syria and Iraq, juiced up on steroids, the over running threat to America, U.S. officials say, is two-folds (ph). Home grown violent extremists, the so-called lone wolves, and planes, a favorite terror target because of the economic impact.

(INAUDIBLE) NYPD is intelligence analyst division.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is sort of a flair for the dramatic and there is nothing more dramatic than an exploding airlines and I think that is one of the reasons they've continued to aim for that target.

FEYERICK: Experts believe bomb makers now in Syria have been training jihadis from the west in part to attack jetliners.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It operates the most sophisticated propaganda machine of any terrorists organization.

FEYERICK: Today, the head of the national counterterrorism center testified the immediate threat to the U.S., lone wolves.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What really worries American counterterrorism officials is that ISIS will prioritized launching attacks against the United States and train Western recruits in bomb-making and send them back.

DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Unlike a sophisticated 9/11 attack where hijackers learned how to fly planes, officials say simpler attacks are the real threat, appealing to extremists who need virtually no training and little money, to spread chaos with homemade explosives pieced together from store bought items.

The Boston marathon bombers used pressure from a pressure cooker they learned to make online.

The 2009 subway plotter also made his own explosive device, as did the foiled 2010 Times Square car bomber.

With the specter of ISIS in Iraq and Syria, and the arrest of a Rochester, New York man accused of want to be ISIS fighters, the NYPD step up security Wednesday on mass transits and places like Times Square to provide peace of mind.

BILL BRATTON, NYPD COMMISSIONER: The reality of the emergence of the new potential threats out of particularly the Syrian conflict is something we cannot ignore.

FEYERICK: The FBI has arrested a half dozen people allegedly trying to travel from the U.S. to Syria to fight with various jihadi groups. Jihadi online magazine and blogs repeatedly making clear -- New York, Washington, Houston, Chicago and Atlanta and other American cities remain prime extremist targets.


ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: And, Deb, you have a picture -- pages of one of the notebooks. This is really organized, put in a spiral notebook.

FEYERICK: What's amazing is that this is their online magazine. You can see how well done it is. I mean, it almost looks like a female jihadi put this out. This is a kind of thing you'd have in a year book, but so interesting is they keep coming back to the same attacks. They keep coming back to these pipe bombs, the car bombs, the pressure cooker bombs. So, it's like they're getting more creative in their attacks.

What they are doing is they're trying to again indoctrinate young jihadist to say, do a pipe, do a car, do a -- you know, and so, that's what they're really doing. And as you recall Paul Cruickshank say, right now in the United States, it's isolated people, independent people who maybe disenfranchised, maybe extremists. The real fear is if ISIS lets out sort of a -- mobilizes an army to say we want all of you lone wolves to act and act now. That is an even greater game- changer.

BURNETT: All right. Deborah Feyerick, thank you very much.

And OUTFRONT tonight, a member of the Homeland Security Committee, Republican Congressman Peter King from New York.

Congressman, you just heard Deb's report. I know National Counterterrorism Director Matthew Olsen said today, terrorists are targeting flights that Americans fly.

What have you learned about this threat?

REP. PETER KING (R), NEW YORK: Well, it was no doubt the threat is there. ISIS is coming at us from -- well, attempt to come at us from many directions and they have assets that al Qaeda did not have. Al Qaeda really had just a small number of people who are capable of coming into the United States. ISIS has thousands that can come to the United States. Al Qaeda did not have a large amount of money. The entire 9/11 operation cost several hundred thousand dollars. ISIS is raising $1 million to $3 million every day. They rob banks with upwards to $100 million.

So, they are also training people in Syria as far as you said, with pipe devices, pipe bombs, IEDs, various types of explosives.

So, all of that, whether it's commercial airline, whether it's coming back to a major city or subway center, we have to constantly be on guard against ISIS. It is a real threat.

BURNETT: And there is a new post on the message board about ISIS. Urging sympathizers to attack tourist hotspots. They include Times Square, New York City, or Deb reporting, they've increased security there today in response today.

You've been briefed. How worried are officials about attacks in the United States?

KING: They are concerned. And I think it's been somewhat misleading when we see people saying there is no direct threat against the United States from ISIS. Well, that's technically true. But it's also true on September 10th, 2001, there was no direct threat against the United States from al Qaeda.

But the fact is ISIS has the intent. They have the means. They have the personnel, they have the capability. So we have to assume that it is only a matter of time. And we have to constantly be on our guard.

So, this to me is a very, very real threat, especially considering the numbers and the deadliness and considering the literally on the-the- ground training that their members are getting in Syria.

BURNETT: We have seen two Americans beheaded on video by ISIS in Syria. Today, when Secretary Kerry testified, he was asked about how many American hostages are being held by ISIS or militant groups right now. He responded, somewhere three or four, I don't want to get into that.

Can you tell us more about -- that number is higher than we had been told before.

KING: I can't comment on that at all, Erin. I can't go near that, I'm sorry.

BURNETT: But there are Americans?

KING: I can't comment. I can't comment.

BURNETT: I understand it's a sensitive issue. We have, of course, reported that there are Americans. That, of course, is more than we had been aware of. Thank you very much, Congressman.

KING: Erin, thank you.

BURNETT: OUTFRONT next, breaking news. Police questioning another NFL player about domestic.

Plus, a billionaire OUTFRONT who says college is for dunces. Don't bother wasting your money or your time.


BURNETT: Tonight, the NFL's money and power slipping away as the outrage builds over the league's handling of domestic assault cases.

The source tells CNN Arizona Cardinals running back Jonathan Dwyer is being questioned about allegations of domestic violence by police, and this comes on the same day two other placers were sidelines. The Carolina Panthers announcing Greg Hardy won't play, while he awaits on a domestic violence charge. And Minnesota Vikings banning their best running back Adrian Peterson while he deals with allegations he beat his son. I should not, by the way, even though he is side lines, he still being paid for not playing at $700,000 a week.

Ted Rowlands is OUTFRONT in Minnesota.

Ted, that's a pretty stunning number. Still being paid $700,000 a week?

TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Still being paid but not part of the team, Erin. In fact he has been put on the sideline until his legal troubles iron themselves out one way or another and the Minnesota Vikings went back and forth on this issue and then today, they decided that, indeed, he will not play.


ROWLANDS (voice-over): In an about-face, the Minnesota Vikings have now decided that Adrian Peterson should stay away from football, with pay, while the legal process runs its course.

ZYGI WILF, OWNER/CHAIRMAN, MINNESOTA VIKINGS: We made a mistake. And we needed to get this right.

ROWLANDS: On Monday, the team was adamant that even given photos showing injuries to Peterson's 4-year-old son, the star running back should play this weekend.

RICK SPIELMAN, EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT & GENERAL MANAGER, MINNESOTA VIKINGS: This is disciplining a child, and whether it's an abusive situation or not, or whether he went too far or not disciplining, we feel very strongly that that is the court's decision to make. ROWLANDS: The team claims the change from playing to being sidelined

indefinitely came from the Vikings, not the embattled NFL league office and commissioner Roger Goodell, who ultimately did have to approve the move.

Peterson faces a child abuse charge for allegedly using a tree branch to discipline his 4-year-old son in May of this year. According to court documents, the beating left scars and bruises on the boy's legs, buttocks and genitals.

Many of Peterson's teammates think he should be on the field.

CAPTAIN MUNNERLYN, MINNESOTA VIKINGS: I support Adrian, man. And in everything he did. I didn't seeing no wrong with it. That's me personally.

ROWLANDS (on camera): Is that the feeling in the locker room? Are there are a lot of guys, they are looking at this saying, I don't see what's wrong with it?

MUNNERLYN: You know, I don't know about the other guys. I can't speak about other guys, but me personally, you know, like I said, growing up, my mom she disciplined me the same way. And I say, you know, it got me to this point now and I'm in the NFL.

ROWLANDS (voice-over): Vikings fans are split.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All he did was disciplined his child. It ain't got nothing to do being in an arena in his life like that. That man needs his private life.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't think he should be playing?

ROWLANDS (on camera): Why?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't think he makes a very good representation for the Vikings or for football in general.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That is how he makes the money to support his child. It is not like he doesn't love his child.

ROWLANDS: Sponsors including Radisson and Wheaties and now Nike has suspended ties with Peterson. Nike has removed Peterson's jersey from its retail stores in Minneapolis releasing a statement, saying in part, Nike in no way condones child abuse or domestic violence of any kind.

Meanwhile, the mother of the 4-year-old alleged victim is lashing out at the media, through an attorney statement, saying in part my client is hurt and outraged that the press would publish throughout the world pictures of their minor son.


ROWLANDS: And, Erin, Adrian Peterson's mother is also speaking out for the first time tonight, supporting her son, saying in part in an interview, "When you whip those you love, it's not about abuse, but love. You want to make them understand that they did wrong."


ROWLANDS: Ted Rowlands, thank you very much.

And just moments ago, President Obama joined a picnic for members of Congress. He exited the Oval Office, didn't have a jacket, jogged over to the stage. Here's what we just got in.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I want to start off by saying thank you to House members, Republican and Democrat, who came together today to pass an important component on our strategy for dealing with this terrible terrorist organization known as ISIL. And I want to in particular thank Speaker Boehner and Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi for showing us that when it America's national security, America is united.


BURNETT: Now, that vote did pass. But the vote was not united. The vote to arm Syrian rebels passed 273 to 156.

Well, next, a historic vote on Scottish independence tomorrow. We'll show you why -- oh, exactly, why this is so relevant.

Plus, a billionaire and Stanford grad. So why is he saying college is for dunces?


BURNETT: PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel is worth billions of dollars, thanks to getting in early to companies like Facebook. He went to Stanford law. So, you think you'd encourage others to follow in his footsteps.

But actually, no, he's actually paying people not to go to college. He thinks it's that worthless. His fellowship pays followers $100,000 to go do their own thing, start a business, anything, but go to college.

I spoke to him and ask him why college isn't for everyone.


PETER THIEL, PAYPAL CO-FOUNDER: Look, we are in a really odd places in society, where everyone is told to go to the same list of short colleges, and if you don't go and get a degree from them, you're in tremendous trouble. You know, you go to Yale or you go to jail. That's -- I don't think that's a good way for our society to be functioning and we want to be having a lot of different options for people. Things gotten way too tracked. There is way too much student debt that's being amassed. And so --

BURNETT: You actually make the case that if you're going to the bottom, where was it that you draw the line, 50, 100 colleges or something like that. But the debt that you amass is not worth it, in terms of the benefit you get at getting that degree.

THIEL: The bottom two-thirds, two-three quarters of the colleges, not worth it.

BURNETT: Two-thirds to three quarters not worth it.

THIEL: Not worth it.

And your diploma is a dunce hat in disguise. So, I think there are sort of a lot of aspects of it that really needs to be rethinking hard. If I had to do it over again, I would probably still go to Stanford. But one thing I would do differently is I ask a lot of more questions why I was doing it.

BURNETT: So, the former treasury secretary and president of Harvard, Larry Summers, said that your fellowship is the single most, misdirected bit of philanthropy in this decade. He's never one who minced words. What do you think of that?

THIEL: Well, he -- you know, he's obviously somewhat biased in talking about his book. I would argue when we have a trillion dollars of student debt that's been amassed in this country, you got to ask what that's paid for. One thing that's paid for is a trillion dollars worth of lies they're told about how great the education that people have gotten.

It's true that you will do better if you go to Harvard and get a Harvard degree. But it's not because of anything you learned, it's because you have the grades to get into Harvard, and because you were selected, and you have the signaling (ph). It's not because of anything you actually learned.

It was about the learning. And this is the thing I pushed back to Larry Summers on. Very straightforward thing Harvard should do, you just expand the enrollment. If you're doing a great job of teaching people, why limit it to 1,600 a year, why not 20,000, why not do 100,000, or maybe double it to 3,000?

BURNETT: I mean, it's interesting point, if they want to fulfill the mission they often speak so much about, which is reducing income inequality and providing opportunity for all, which those institutions, those of higher learning say that they're about, by definition they shouldn't expand the enrollment.

THIEL: That's the advertising. The reality is that it's more like a night club with a velvet rope this is a winner take all tournament.

So, the packaging the institutions have I think is very different from the reality. The costs have gone up like 400 percent after inflation since 1980. It's gone up faster than anything else has. And these colleges were able to do it for $10,000 in same dollars in 1980. It's $50,000 now. And it's just a bloated bureaucracy. It's sort of various edifices complexes where they built too many buildings.

BURNETT: Edifices complexes. I like that one. Yes.

THIEL: And all sorts of crazy things like that these institutions (ph) have.

BURNETT: All right. Peter Thiel, thank you so much.

THIEL: Erin, thanks for having me.


BURNETT: In a matter of hours, the duchess of Cambridge, Duchess Kate, could lose a third of her future kingdom, that's because royalty doesn't mean power in the U.K. It is the people of Scotland who have all the power tonight. In just hours, they will go to the polls and decide whether to stay or go. They are choosing whether Scotland will once again, after 300 years, be an independent country.

The polls are too close to call. But Prime Minister David Cameron had a warning for those Scots who are sick of London's rule.


DAVID CAMERON, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: We must be very clear, there is no going back. There is no rerun. This is a once-and-for-all decision. If Scotland votes yes, the U.K. will split and we will go our separate ways forever.


BURNETT: Sounds like a parent talking to toddler.

Prime Minister, we believe the Scots are aware of that. As an American with Scottish descent, I wonder if it's comments like the prime minister's that make the Scots want to go their own way.

Anyway, I recently filmed in Scotland, and of course, tested scotch whiskey, which is Scotland's second biggest export, and eat haggish. Which brings me to tonight's number, 1971. That is the year the United States stopped importing Scottish haggish, because the USDA decided to ban the consumption of lungs. Shockingly, sheep lungs are one of the more appetizing haggish ingredients. You can look them all up yourself.

So, here's to Scotland, some great New York City haggish.

We will be right back with more on a pretty strange story, disturbing story about hairy stomach and smelly feet. Welcome to the American skies. That's Jeanne Moos, next.


BURNETT: Have you been the victim of a flying faux pas? A neighboring passenger who thinks it's OK to clip their toenails? And that's probably one of the best things.

Here's Jeanne Moos. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Passengers, prepare for shaming especially if you're not in the upright position and your feet are on your tray table.

(on camera): Yikes!

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's so yikes. It's so beyond yikes.

MOOS (voice-over): Former flight attendant Shawn Katlin (ph) created a Facebook page passenger shaming, showcasing photos of passengers behaving badly, leaving dirty diapers in seat pockets and going shirtless. How far we've flown from the elegant old days --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The travail has been taken out of travel.

MOOS: Instead of pearls, check out the altitude of these shorts.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's getting worse by the minute.

MOOS: Her personal pet peeve?


MOOS: Except they don't. Sure it's funny when John Candy does it in the movie.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, my dogs are barking today.

MOOS: But who wants to let barking dogs lie when they intrude from another row?

(on camera): We recommend keeping your feet covered and your hands exposed.

(voice-over): How gross is it to see a guy sleeping with his hands shut down his -- avert your eyes.

But Shawn Katlin (ph) has seen passenger do worse.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He caught his hair on fire in the lavatory while he was smoking crack.

MOOS (on camera): And whatever you do, do not get nailed using clippers.

(voice-over): Why don't you just skip the in-flight manicure? No one wants to see you caring for your feet at 30,000 feet.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There was one man treating his warts with Compound W.

MOOS: Shawn Katlin quit her flight attendant job a year ago to become a nurse practitioner. She'll see plenty of naked men in nursing. But somehow looking at this? UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I can't.

MOOS: Seems worse, a passenger using a pillow case to cover his eyes while uncovering the rest.


MOOS: Sure, let's fly, but don't leave behind your boxers, your dentures, your toenails or your wig.

Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.


BURNETT: People are disgusting. I mean, that is just so utterly foul and disgusting, and look at how impolite that flight attendant to say, the gentlemen who was treating his warts with wart powder on the plane. That is no gentleman.

Thanks so much for watching.

Anderson, who is a gentleman, he would never do such foul thing on the plane, starts now.