Return to Transcripts main page
ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT
Vote Fails, Homeland Security Runs Out of Money in Hours; Classmates Shocked Jihadi John Joined ISIS; Police: Professor of Missing Teen Was an Al-Qaeda Agent; Leading Vladimir Putin Critic Shot Dead in Moscow
Aired February 27, 2015 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: OUTFRONT next, breaking news. The White House, the House votes no on funding Homeland Security. Not the White House, they wanted the bill. Unless a last minute deal is reached the agency on the front lines and the war on terror will be shut down at midnight. A crucial countdown tonight.
And more breaking news, one of leading critics of Russian President Vladimir Putin shot dead on a Moscow street blocks from the Kremlin. Who did it?
And my guest tonight Star Trek George Takei on the death of his longtime friend actor Leonard Nimoy. Let's go OUTFRONT.
And good evening. I'm Erin Burnett. OUTFRONT tonight, we begin with breaking news. The House fails to keep Homeland Security going. That's a big headline tonight. In just a few hours at midnight, the Department of Homeland Security will shut down, that is unless Congressional leaders find a last minute compromise as the seconds and minutes tick away on this Friday night. In a surprise twist today Congress voted down a bill to fund the department for the next three weeks. People thought this bill was going to pass, everyone. This is a real surprise. House Democrats defeated the bill in a risky move. They want to force a vote on a Senate approved version that would fund the Department for, wow, a whole year. Unless the compromise is reach by midnight, the federal agency at the forefront at the battle against domestic terrorism which is charged with protecting America's borders and airports will go into what's being called a partial shutdown. Thousands of workers will be furloughed. Others forced to work without pay.
Dana Bash is on Capitol Hill tonight. Dana, you know, when I saw that vote going and you see those numbers in the screen, I had a flash back to the financial crisis when we thought something was going to pass, it didn't. The markets went and free fall. This was a big deal that this did not pass. What happens now?
DANA BASH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, first, let me first explain what happened in order to maybe answer what happens now. What happened was the republican leadership thought that they were going to get enough votes because they have such a big majority. They really do. But instead, 52 republicans said no, we're not going to do this. For the most part, the reason why they voted no is because they didn't want to be seen as voting for anything that doesn't also block the President's immigration plan. Even though it was just a three-week stopgap, it would not have touched the immigration plan. On the flip side, the democrats, so you would think, okay, they would vote for this. The President said he would sign it. They all voted no in protest. I shouldn't say all. Most of them voted no in protest because they're trying force the Republicans' hand. They want the House Republicans leadership to bring up what the Senate voted on earlier today, which is a full funding bill to continue until the end of the fiscal year.
So, we're in a very high stakes game of chicken here. And down the hall you have the House speaker huddling with his members trying to figure out what plan B is. So, to answer your question we're not exactly sure what plan B is. They're trying to figure out what they can do to get enough votes to pass something. All we know was that talking to republican leadership aids and senior members, they keep walking by here saying, we're not going to let the department shut down. We're going to figure out a way around it. Perhaps it's a seven-day stopgap just to continue funding for seven days and that way they can bring enough conservatives back on and say, look, this is really short term while we try to work on your priorities. But at tend of the day, even when they do that, I think the big trouble for Boehner, John Boehner the House Speaker is he knows how this movie ends. They are not the votes even though they have republican control to cancel out the President's executive order.
BURNETT: Right. There aren't the votes on the immigration. But also this raises questions about John Boehner that he couldn't get this done. He couldn't get everyone in line. He didn't get the bill right. I mean, what does this mean for John Boehner's job, Dana?
BASH: You know, he has had so much trouble with his caucus for years since he took the gavel and became speaker. We've seen this movie before in various forms for so many years about ObamaCare, not immigration. Trying to sort of, you know, convince his rank and file to stick with him on that issue. It's certainly not good, but I think the reality is that we have to keep in mind and certainly what I keep being reminded from top republicans here is that you can't replace someone with no one. And he is clearly has some trouble but not enough trouble, probably to be deposed because somebody has to be speaker. And at this point it doesn't look like there's anyone else who would get the votes to do that.
BURNETT: All right. Dana Bash, thank you very much. And as the seconds tick by here on this crucial situation.
Pamela Brown is OUTFRONT also in Washington. And so Pamela, if they went ahead with this shut down, by the way an agency that didn't exist before George W. Bush created it, what actually would happen immediately?
PAMELA BROWN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: So, the Department of Homeland Security, Erin says that it will have a significant impact and what we know of the immediate impact is the training of new hires. So, the DHS run federal law enforcement academy which trains ICE agents CBP and ATF would have to send home trainees beginning this weekend. It's important to note that vital functions will still be performed no matter what happens in the near future but 30,000 employees would be furloughed including 5500 TSA employees according to a homeland security official we spoke to today. And many of the agencies including TSA and the U.S. coastguard won't get biweekly paychecks. So, 200,000 essential employees will work without pay if this funding doesn't come through soon. And so, that's a lot of people. And again, 30,000 will be furloughed, Erin. So, DHS is saying this will have a big impact on its employees even if -- functions will continue to be performed -- Erin.
BURNETT: All right, Pamela, thank you very much reporting from Washington on this breaking story.
OUTFRONT now, Congressman Adam Schiff, the top democrat on the House Intelligence Committee. All right, Congressman you voted no. Obviously, there were some republicans that voted no. But it was the overwhelming number of democrats as Dana of course is reporting. The Department of Homeland Security could run out of money in less than five hours from now. Are you ready to take the blame for that?
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D), RANKING MEMBER, HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: No, of course not. I voted no because we've been exactly in the same space we are tonight only three weeks from now. Look, we knew we were going to be here three weeks ago, we knew we're going to be here three months ago. And the majority has got to make a decision to govern and that doesn't mean going from shut down to shut down to shut down. So, I think we're going to be back later tonight and vote on the Senate bill, it's the only solution that really makes sense. If they do another seven days or six days or five weeks, they can't avoid the problem they have. And the problem they have is a big group of their members, if they don't get what they want are prepared to just shut down the works. And that's a terrible way to govern.
BURNETT: So, are you going to vote against anything that isn't a year extension though? Because as Dana was just saying, these other solutions could be seven days or something like that. I guess to be consistent you'd have to vote no on all of it, wouldn't you?
SCHIFF: I don't intend to vote on anything that doesn't get us a long term fix.
SCHIFF: And that is, keep this department running for the next nine months. You know, if they came back and they said, look, we're ready to take at the Senate bill, but we can't do this by midnight. We'd like to pass something that gives us day to take up the Senate bill, that would be one thing. But if we're just going to be back here again in seven days or three weeks, that just makes no sense at all.
BURNETT: So, I get your point, right? That you want it done longer. But President Obama was with you on that point. Right? He wasn't thrilled this was such a short period of time just be in couple months, but he said he would sign the bill even despite that. So, are you concerned you're hurting your party by going against the President? By really splitting with the President on this? SCHIFF: No, I don't think so. And I think the overwhelming
majority of democrats, as we've seen really in the votes, both in House and Senate, they don't want this to be a recurrence. And I think if we could petulate here and we go to another three week extension and then another three week extension we're basically setting a precedent where we're going to be running the government in three-week increments. In particular we're talking about Homeland Security that has, you know, very real, immediate security needs that has to maintain for the country. That's the worst form of governance possible.
BURNETT: So, do you think republicans will change their minds? I mean, it sort of seems like this is a game of chicken. Right? Because John Boehner doesn't have the votes to get something long term. And you won't vote for anything short term. So, you know, within that, I see a path to destruction.
SCHIFF: Erin, you know, I think we seen this movie before as Dana was saying. And the way the movie has played out in the past is the speaker has to put forward these votes to placate the Tea Party members of his conference. And when they fail as the one did today he's going to go back to his conference and say, look, we can't just keep doing this. I gave you a shot. I gave you the chance to deliver the vote, you couldn't do it and now we have to do something sensible. This is killing us as a party. So, I think that's where we're going to end up. I hope it's going to be where we end up. Because not a week goes by when we're not making arrests it seems like with people who are threatening this country as we saw in New York recently. And this is just no way to run a government and certainly not way to run the government's agency that defends the country against terrorism threats.
BURNETT: All right. Congressman Schiff, thanks very much.
SCHIFF: Thanks, Erin.
BURNETT: You have a long night ahead of you. And OUTFRONT next, new details about the terrorist called Jihadi John including his Alma Matter. Is the University of Westminster, a breeding ground for Islamic extremist?
Plus, at least four teens have gun missing, the fear is they're on their way to join ISIS. So, here is a really important question, were they actually radicalized by a college professor?
And breaking news tonight, one of Vladimir Putin's harshest critics, a former deputy prime minister killed in a drive by shooting in the center of Moscow blocks from the Kremlin. A stunning picture with that body lying there on the street. Who did it? We'll be back.
BURNETT: Tonight, we're learning much more about the man believed to be the brutal ISIS executioner Jihadi John. His name is Mohammed Emwazi and people who know him say they are shocked to discover that he is the man in those horrific ISIS beheading videos. Isa Soares Is OUTFRONT from London.
ISA SOARES, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): One of the world's most wanted terrorists now has name to go with the face that has terrorized so many. Mohammed Emwazi. Kuwaiti born, British bred. To the people who lived in his neighborhood, news that he's Jihadi John came as a shock.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: I know dad, I know mom, I know his brother and sister. It's not Jihad.
SOARES: Those who knew him and the family describe him as a quiet young man.
SHARAFT ULLAH, NEIGHBOR: He was local guy. Very polite guy. We see him all the time to come to pray to our mosque. And I saw these things yesterday and I was surprised.
SOARES: His grades allow him to enroll in the University of Westminster for a degree in computer programming. At the campus where he studied fellow programming students tell me, they are shocked.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Someone that -- a full degree, they can change their mind about what they do with their life. It just goes to show that people do change.
SOARES: The University of Westminster is one of several UK universities that have been accused by some analysts in British media alike of creating conditions that allow radicals to openly engage with students.
(on camera): Just this week, the University of Westminster, the Islamic society had invited a controversial Muslim cleric to talk. That has now been postponed due to, quote, "increased sensitivities."
(voice-over): Of course many say that the role of universities is to engage students in open debate over controversial issues. What the university tells CNN, quote, "condemns the promotion of radicalization, terrorism and violence and then adds with other universities in London, we are working together to implement the government's prevent strategy to tackle extremism."
RUPERT SUTTON, RESEARCH FELLOW, THE HENRY JACKSON SOCIETY: There's been several cases of individuals at UK University being involved in terrorism and being convicted of terrorist defenses. The University of Westminster for example that the former Islamic society president was convicted of a terrorist defense back in 2006. The former head of the Islamic Society University college of London later tried to blow up an airline in Detroit. And so, there are several examples of this.
SOARES: And now it seems there is another. This time by the name of Mohammed Emwazi.
So, Erin, the questions being asked tonight right here in London, was it, when, at what point was this eloquent, middle class, educated graduate from the university just behind me, at what point was he radicalized. According to cage this is a Muslim led human rights organizations and he's been in contact with, he was radicalized because of the way security services here dealt with him. He felt, he said he felt imprisoned. He said, he felt too much pressure. He felt trapped, harassed targeted and intimidated. That's what he told them. But many officials have been freaking to, just do not buy that, Erin. They say that before he even went to Tanzania in 2009 on this supposed safari he had already been radicalized. Whether this was in Northwest London he lived by many of the North London boys that people had connection with, or here on the university, those are the questions the authorities will no doubt be looking at tonight -- Erin.
BURNETT: Well, they certainly will. Isa, thank you very much for that report. And you know, Isa is talking about this happening at a college, at university. There are serious and disturbing new details tonight emerging about a teacher who taught at least one of the four teenagers who may have tried to join ISIS flying to Turkey. Now, that teacher was actually once accused of being an al Qaeda terrorist.
Paula Newton is OUTFRONT in Montreal with the new details on these teens and a teacher with possible radical ties.
PAULA NEWTON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Smart, kind and normal. That's how many are describing 18-year-old Shyma Sinusi (ph). A bright young student now missing in the Middle East and possibly on her way to join ISIS in Syria.
At the Montreal High School she once attended. Students say she was well liked and social. Andy Xalo, she was his tutor a couple of years ago.
NEWTON (on camera): What was your impression of her when she was tutoring you?
ANDY XALO, STUDENT TUTORED BY ONE OF MISSING TEENS: I just thought she was really smart. She's a normal girl.
NEWTON: And did you get the impression then that she was very religious?
XALO: No, not really. It was just like normal talk.
NEWTON (voice-over): Normal talk. That's how it seemed to those who knew Shyma until she went missing earlier this year. One of at least four, possibly more young people from Montreal whose families fear they have been lured into joining ISIS.
(on camera): Students here told me they were quite shocked and only learned the news this morning as it spread through a social media circle here at school.
(voice-over): Three of the missing teens attended this community college across town and at least one attended classes taught by Adil Charkaoui, a Muslim preacher who has been accused by the college of spreading hate speech in the classroom he used for teaching Arabic and the Koran. Charkaoui is known to security officials. In 2003, police alleged he was an al Qaeda sleeper agent who received training in Afghanistan. He spent six years being watched by Canadian authorities but in 2009, courts determined he was not a security threat. Charkaoui says he only met one of the missing students on a couple of occasions and he says, he is just trying to integrate young Muslims, not radicalize them.
ADIL CHARKAOUI, INSTRUCTOR WHO TAUGHT ONE OF MISSING TEENS: We are facing three major problems. Drug, gangs and (INAUDIBLE) this is the main problems. And until now we don't have one case of radicalization. Somebody wants to go to other countries to join terrorist group.
NEWTON: Still Charkaoui and his classes has been suspended from campus while police try to determine what could have lead these teens to possibly join ISIS.
BURNETT: I mean, Paula, this is pretty amazing. So, the teacher says that he didn't have anything to do with it. All right. I mean, who know if that's the case. But if it is the case, who does he say radicalized these kids?
NEWTON: Well, he's pointing of course to a lot of the social media that we've heard about and that incredible campaign. But he says that the seeds of it are sown through Islamaphobia and he talks a lot about security agencies. I mean, he has an ax to grind with this. The fact that the security agencies are spying on mosques, are spying on organization like this. And this further alienates people and convinces them that in one shape, form or another that they have to take action. And you know what's so striking here Erin, it is too similar from what we hear from some of the community people coming out of London as well where Jihadi John was. And the fact that that is what leads to the radicalization. You know, no one is buying it Erin and saying what needs to happen is there just needs to be more engagement with these young people at an early age and definitely for the families to come forward as soon as possible -- Erin.
BURNETT: All right, Paula, thank you very much.
I want to bring in Tim Clemente now, retired FBI counterterror agent. So, Paula are talking about the police allege the teacher of one of the teens was an al Qaeda sleeper agent. Teacher denies it. Teacher said, blames Islamaphobia impart. But obviously one of these students is missing, maybe trying to join ISIS. Do you think it's a coincidence?
TIM CLEMENTE, FORMER FBI COUNTERTERROR AGENT: No, I don't think it's a coincident. I think obviously he's trying to justify everything. And profiling it's known as an injustice collector. That's what this guy is doing. He's trying to make -- same thing that we heard Jihadi John using the excuse that he was being bothered by security services. He's being bothered by security services, as of this professor, because of what he's spouting off to his students. And obviously it has some effect because if these individuals were radicalized by this teacher or maybe he referred them to websites, maybe he referred them to books. But he's playing the victim card here rather than the opposite.
BURNETT: You're talking about students here. In this case these teens also well educated. Jihadi John we've now learn, went to university, degree in computer programming. The people who live near him described him as well-off, well educated. You know, lately when people talked about ISIS, they've said, well, ISIS is different from even some of al-Qaeda. ISIS is, people who are lack economic opportunity. They have nothing else going for them so they go join ISIS. That's not what we're seeing in these cases, right?
CLEMENTE: No, it's not, Erin. And it's not the norm. Start at the top. Osama bin Laden, one of the wealthiest families in Saudi Arabia.
CLEMENTE: Ayman al-Zawahiri, he's number two, was a doctor in Egypt. All the way down. You work your way through the ranks. They're not radicalized because of poverty. That doesn't mean that poor people can't be radicalized, of course they can. But they're radicalized because of shame and guilt for the way they are either leaving this seventh century version of Islam and returning to a modern civilization and then they're guilted back into that or they're just living a western life trying to enjoy life and acclimating to a new home and then radical strength take them out of that and say, look, you've left all the Muslim world behind. They're being persecuted over there and your living this life over here with the devil that persecutes Muslims.
BURNETT: So, look, I know people get upset when there's profiling of any kind, but to the extent that intelligent services try to profile to identifying needles and haystacks, how are they supposed to do that when you're now saying, well, it's not coming from a single place. It's not coming from a single country, it's not coming from a single socioeconomic group. How do you find them?
CLEMENTE: Well, like I've said before many times, Erin on your show that it's not really the responsibility of FBI or any security service to do this. This needs to be done by the people around them. You heard the individuals that attended the mosque where Jihadi John was. And they talked about, well, he seemed like a normal guy.
CLEMENTE: Somebody knows he's not just normal. The Tsarnaev brothers whether the older Tsarnaev's wife or other family members, relative, friends, somebody knows they're being radicalized. And those people need to be held accountable when family members or friends that they know well radicalize to the point of turning to violence and the people around them do nothing.
BURNETT: All right. Tim, thank you very much. It's a good point. And of course as Tim points out, you always hear from the people how nice and gentle and wonderful. You hear it in everything. The Jihad case, when you hear about murders. You never hear anyone say I saw it coming.
OUTFRONT next, breaking news, one of Vladimir Putin's most vocal critics shot in the back and killed in the center of Moscow when you're looking at the domes of the Kremlin right behind him. Who did it? It's a brazen act.
Plus, an OUTFRONT exclusive. A U.S. Special Forces are training troops to fight terrorists. We have an inside look at this fight coming up.
And on a lighter note, Jimmy knows with the answer of the viral question of the day. Because there is an answer, everybody. And I'm sorry, a lot of you are wrong. White and gold or black and blue and what your answer says about you.
BURNETT: Breaking news. One of Russian President Vladimir Putin's top critics murdered just blocks from the Kremlin. Disturbing images show prominent Russian opposition leader Boris Nemtsov after he was shot and killed by an unknown assailant apparently shot in the back under that body bag. When that shot pins-up, you see the domes of a Kremlin. This according to Russia state news agency. Nemtsov was Russia's deputy prime minister under President Boris Yeltsin in the late 1990s. He had been arrested several times for speaking out against the Russian government. Tonight President Obama speaking out condemning the brutal murder. The White House calling for the Russian government to conduct a prompt and impartial investigation.
Fred Pleitgen is OUTFRONT from Moscow. Fred, obviously there are many who will look at that word impartial and roll their eyes. What are you hearing about the shooting?
FRED PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, that it was certainly and absolutely brazen attack, Erin. It didn't only happen right close to the Kremlin. It also happened in an area that's highly frequented by people at that point in time. It's a bridge that actually leads away from the Kremlin to the other side of the main river here in Moscow. And what we've heard from authorities that apparently this happened very late in the evening, rather 11:40 p.m. local time and it appears to have all the hall marks of a targeted killing. The police say that Nemtsov was shot a several times in the back. They say, the found six shell casings on the scene and they believe that the assailant then fled in a white car. There certainly is at this point a manhunt under way here in Moscow searching for the possible assailants. Stopping white cars all over the place here in the city.
We also know from authorities that there was a second person who was walking with Nemtsov. They describe this as a woman who had recently come here to visit him from Ukraine. She's apparently also being questioned as a witness.
And Vladimir Putin has come forward and has ordered the security institutions here of this country to move forward with an investigation as fast as possible, Erin.
BURNETT: And what are people saying about? You're talking about a manhunt, that they are moving forward with an investigation. Does anyone believe that such an investigation would be above board, impartial?
PLEITGEN: Well, not really. You have to take in light of the fact that Boris Nemtsov certainly was a man who feared for his life here in this country. In fact, he gave an interview just a couple of days ago where he was asked whether or not he was afraid of Vladimir Putin, that Vladimir Putin might try to kill him. And he said certainly.
That's no way to suggest that might have been what happened but this is man who has spoken out against the government in the past, who's been arrested for several times for doing that, who recently spoke out against the actions of the Russian government as it pertains to the Sochi Olympics, talking of corruption there. And most importantly, Erin, spoke out against the conflict in Ukraine.
One of the interesting things about this point in time and this happening in this point in time, is that in about 24 hours time, there was supposed to be a large opposition rally in Moscow where Boris Nemtsov was supposed to be, that was targeted against Russia's policies in eastern Ukraine.
So, there will be a lot of people who are questioning this. But again, at this point in time, the investigation is still in its early stages, Erin.
All right. Fred, thank you very much reporting live from Moscow tonight.
And our chief national security correspondent Jim Sciutto is OUTFRONT in Washington.
And, Jim, our Anthony Bourdain, and yes, everyone, you heard me right, Anthony Bourdain, you know, was in Russia, interviewed Nemtsov. Obviously, they were talking about food in part.
And I want to play a portion of this episode because Anthony asked him about this exact issue. And here's what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANTHONY BOURDAIN, PARTS UNKNOWN: So, we were supposed to be dining at another restaurant this evening. When they heard you would be joining me, we were uninvited. Should I be concerned about having dinner with you?
BORIS NEMTSOV, RUSSIAN OPPOSITION LEADER: This is a country of corruption. And if you have business, you are in a very unsafe situation. Everybody can press you and destroy your business. That's it. This is the system.
BOURDAIN: Critics of government, critics of Putin, bad things seem to happen to them.
NEMTSOV: Yes, unfortunately, existing powers represent let I say Russia of 19th century, not of 21st.
BOURDAIN: Critics of Putin, beware. Oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky accused Putin of corruption and wound up spending ten years in prison and labor camps.
Alexander Litvinenko accused state security services of organizing a coup to put Putin in power. He was poisoned by a lethal dose of radioactive polonium.
And Viktor Yushchenko, the former Ukraine president, poisoned, disfigured and nearly killed by a toxic dose of dioxin.
I'm not saying official Russian bodies had anything to do with it, but it's mighty suspicious.
I don't think you need to be a conspiracy theorist to say, whoever did this very much wanted everyone to know who done it. Everybody understands.
NEMTSOV: Yes, of course.
BOURDAIN: And everybody is meant to understand.
NEMTSOV: Yes, everybody understands. Everybody understands everything in this country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: I mean, Jim, that is a pretty incredible thing. Anthony had that conversation with him and talked about being disinvited from restaurant and the fear of worrying about what you actually have to eat.
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Nemtsov feared for his life. He gave an interview two weeks ago that said he feared for his life from Vladimir Putin.
And if you look at the track record, as Anthony was detailing there of past critics or opposition leaders in this country, it is not good. Khodorkovsky, 10 years in prison, he's now in exile. A younger opposition leader Alexei Navalny, he's in jail.
Alexander Litvinenko, who was a critic of the Putin regime, he was poisoned with radioactive polonium on the streets of London. I covered this story in a hotel just a half a block from the U.S. embassy. British authorities I talked to at the time called it the first radiological terror attack because that radiation was traced all around the city. One of the suspects in that case, the suspected killers, is now the vice speaker of the Russian Duma.
What does that tell you about what is rewarded in Russia?
Gary Kasparov, famous chess champion, also a Russian opposition figure, he's run for office there. I covered him on campaign in Russia. He came out with statement tonight. He said in his words it does not matter if Putin gave the order for this. He talks about the climate in Russia, and he said that in Russia today, bloodshed is the prerequisite for loyalty, so that people might be inclined to do this kind of thing, take out someone like Boris Nemtsov, because they would believe they would be rewarded whether or not there was an official order.
I mean, this is real collapse of civil society in Russia that's taken place over ten years. And keep in mind, this is not just an internal problem, Erin, because Russia and the West are going head to head now in Ukraine over this.
And just one final detail, if I could share it.
SCIUTTO: One of Nemtsov's colleagues says that he was working on a paper detailing Russian forces in eastern Ukraine. So, he was going in a very sensitivity bone in Russia and it shows possibly how that is punished.
BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Jim Sciutto.
And I think Jim driving him that this is the stuff that you think of as what you read in the thriller, as a stuff of fiction. This is reality.
OUTFRONT tonight, the former president of Georgia, Mikheil Saakashvili.
Good to have you with me, Mr. President.
I know that you knew Boris Nemtsov. You knew him well. As a matter of fact, you saw him a week ago. You dined with him. You're having glass of wine together and you talked about this issue of poison.
MIKHEIL SAAKASHVILI, FORMER PRESIDENT OF GEORGIA: Yes, actually, I mentioned it. I'm really shocked because we had lunch with him together last week. And I asked whether he was scared to go back to Russia. He told me, well, he shouldn't be scared of the arrest because Putin would not arrest former high level government officials. But then I mentioned the glass of red wine might -- have been more dangerous than the arrest. He seemed to agree.
And indeed, I'm not surprised at all, unfortunately, that he was killed. I'm surprised he wasn't killed until now, because the whole climate -- you are dealing with a mafia state run by fox (ph). And the whole climate existing makes it impossible for people to walk around freely and to walk around in life unfortunately.
BURNETT: Is there any question in your mind about who did this? I mean, Vladimir Putin has come out, right, formally condemning the murders, saying there's going to be an investigation, saying it was a contract killing, implying obviously done by someone else.
Who do you think is responsible?
SAAKASHVILI: Look, we discuss with Boris because he came here, he was -- he wanted to meet me because he was preparing his position on Ukraine. And he wanted to reach out to the Russian public and tell them the truth about what has happening in Ukraine. He was telling me about some Russians that were doing this job together with him.
You know, I'm head of the council for Ukraine's president. So, if he was interested in the position of Ukraine government, and need more information about what was really happening. And then, actually, he was also looking forward to the march that they were holding basically tomorrow, and he was very upbeat about this march.
Now, whether -- I cannot blame anybody concretely. But one thing is very clear, the climate of intimidation, fear, these violence, this correspondence just spoke about the fact that killers are being promoted in Russia, nobody was punished for Yushchenko, you know, this guy Litvinenko was promoted to become a high level parliamentary official in Russia.
There is this climate where these kinds of things are made possible. That's what mafia state is all about. You reward your hit man. You make this atmosphere, intimidation as your main weapon. That's unfortunately what's happening inside Russia and also is projected outside Russia.
BURNETT: All right. Well, President Saakashvili, thank you very much. Pretty incredible when you tell that story, that chilling moment with a glass of wine.
SAAKASHVILI: I'm really shocked, I'm really shocked and my condolences to all progressive Russians, because look what they have done to this great country of Russia, with very well-educated people and unfortunately to put into misery. It reminds of Milosevic and I think Putin came with violence, rules with violence, and will end doing violence in the end.
But the world should be careful. All of us should be very careful with this out there, and be also react to what's happened.
BURNETT: All right. Mikheil Saakashvili, thank you very much, the former president of Georgia.
And OUTFRONT next, U.S. Special Forces been training soldiers to fight the world's most brutal terrorists. Well, guess what, we have exclusive access to one country's military forces as they are taking up arms. That exclusive is next.
And Leonard Nimoy, the beloved actor whose portrayal of "Star Trek's" Spock inspired generations of fans, died today. His friend of 50 years, actor George Takei, is OUTFRONT.
BURNETT: As U.S. Special Forces are training troops to fight Islamic radicals, we have exclusive access as one country's military is taking the fight to the terrorists.
Arwa Damon is OUTFRONT.
ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The weather conditions have resulted in poor visibility, forcing the helicopters to fly quite low.
We'll be passing over Cameroon, as we head towards one of Chad's frontlines with Boko Haram in Nigeria.
(voice-over): We're with one of the region's most feared military forces and also apparently one of the most effective. Some say heavy-handed.
After coming under attack by Boko Haram in neighboring Cameroon, this Chadian unit gave chase, following the militants right across the border, into northern Nigeria.
We were invited along with the Chadian top brass. The convoy to the front is massive, heavily armed, packed with jubilant troops.
(on camera): This was one of Boko Haram positions as the soldiers were just going, as we were driving by.
(voice-over): Chad's well-equipped and battle-hardened army joined the fight in January, helping Nigeria reclaimed a chunk of northern territory.
We passed through the abandoned town of Gambaro (ph). It was firmly under Boko Haram's control until the Chadians arrived just a few weeks ago.
(on camera): The area we're heading to, soldiers are saying on Tuesday, is where they were attacked.
(voice-over): We see a handful of women as the convoy speeds past. The remains of motorcycles often used by Boko Haram.
We can't see what the Chadians are shooting at.
Then, the distinct hissing of bullets close by. Our vehicle moves forward past a body they tell us is that of a Boko militant who had been shooting at our convoy. We don't see a weapon. Soldiers say they grabbed it.
Chad claims they have killed 200 Boko Haram militants here this past week. We see about half a dozen bodies left to rot.
The Chadian soldiers find a child. They want him to tell where the Boko fighters had fled to. Perhaps 7 or 8 years old, he seemed terrified and confused.
The soldiers view any survivors here with suspicion.
ARWA: Erin, the war against is murky and very dirty. U.S. Special Forces currently on the ground in Africa, part of the annual exercise, training up amongst others Chadian and Nigerian troops, key for the United States, according to one Special Forces operator we spoke to, is containing and defeating the threat before it reaches America -- Erin.
BURNETT: All right. Arwa, thank you very much. Incredible report from Arwa there.
And OUTFRONT next, the death of an American icon, Leonard Nimoy. Ahead, I'm going to talk to his longtime friend and colleague, George Takei.
And Jeanne Moos on the most tweeted stories of the week, llamas on the loose, the dress of many colors. What happens when they collide?
BURNETT: The Vulcan salute, live long and prosper. It's a phrase made famous by Leonard Nimoy who played Spock in the original television and movie series "Star Trek". The actor and director died today. He was 83 years old.
His longtime friend and costar George Takei joins me OUTFRONT tonight.
George, thank you so much for being with me.
And I know you and I were talking in the commercial about what a friend he was to you, how he came to your big documentary debut last summer even though he was ill. President Obama talked about him, calling him a friend, saying long before being nerdy was cool, there was Leonard Nimoy, cool, logical, big eared and levelheaded. I love Spock.
NASA put out a statement saying that your friend inspired generations of scientists and astronauts.
What do you remember the most about him?
GEORGE TAKEI, ACTOR: He was a brilliantly innovative actor but he also worked collaboratively. He recognized the important contributions made by everybody. And I think that's what made him a good director as well. Since we had been working together for a long time, as a director, he could speak to us in shorthand. So his many, many gifts included his ability to work with many people.
BURNETT: Which is not always common. I mean, it's a rare gift when people truly have that. TAKEI: Indeed, it is.
BURNETT: And his character on "Star Trek", it showed no emotion because he was a Vulcan. That was the character, he played it well. But, obviously, you knew him differently. You knew him as a man, you knew his heart and soul.
What was he really like?
TAKEI: He was a great friend, very supportive. He played Dysart in "Equus" on Broadway. And I did the same role in Los Angeles at East West Players.
He came down to see me in it.
TAKEI: And it was a little daunting to know he was in the audience because he was so brilliant in it on Broadway. So, when he came backstage, I said to him, well, how did I do? And he smiled that wry smile of his and said, "You are better." Now, obviously, that was his very charming way of avoiding the question.
But he had that kind of wit about him to the situation.
BURNETT: And kindness.
And you talk about how he greeted people with the Spock phrase, live long and prosper. He took that to heart?
TAKEI: He did. So much -- for example, the Vulcan greeting was something he introduced. It comes from his Jewish faith. It's a part of --
BURNETT: You're so good at doing it. I have to train my fingers to be able to do it.
BURNETT: All right. Well, George, thank you so much for coming on for remembering your friend.
TAKEI: Thank you for remembering him. He was a great guy.
BURNETT: All right. Good to have you with us and thank you.
And OUTFRONT next, everyone has been asking what color is the dress. Well, guess what? There is an answer and you are either right or you are wrong. You'll find out what you are after this.
BURNETT: A nation divided over this picture. Some see a white and gold dress. Others see a black and blue dress. What do you see? OK. Well, what do you -- are we just seeing what we want to see,
is it a figment of your imagination?
Here's Jeanne Moos.
JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Would somebody please put this dress back in the closet?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Blue and back.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tan and white.
CROWD: Blue and black.
MOOS: Well, I saw white and gold, and anyone who says differently is nuts.
Not since the Monica Lewinsky scandal has there been such a frenzy over a blue dress. Or you maybe see it as gold.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And crazy. I love it, but I hate it, you know?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's a conspiracy by the white and gold people to make the blue and blacks look crazy.
MOOS: How can people look at the exact same photo and see different colors? Better ask an imminent ophthalmologist.
DR. JULIA HALLER, OPHTHALMOLOGIST-IN-CHIEF, WILLS EYE HOSPITAL: People who spent their lives studying this tell me that they know they exist, but in the 30 or 40 years in their careers, they've never seen a single picture bring out the difference like this one is.
Taylor Swift tweeted, "I'm confused and scared. PS, it's obviously blue and black."
Speaker of the House Boehner concurred on #thedress.
HALLER: All our perceptions are colored by quirkiness of our wirings.
MOOS: Dr. Julia Haller says individuals differ in how we perceive color and there's something about the lighting, the angle and the digital quality of this image that makes our brain susceptible to processing it by adding or subtracting white light.
Does anybody get this?
MICHELLE BESTOCK, FASHION DIRECTOR, ROMAN ORIGINALS: I can officially said the color is royal blue with black trimming. MOOS: The company that sells the dress for 77 bucks said sales
of this particular design are up 850 percent. Then they start making it in white and gold.
HALLER: If I could find a dress that changed colors for different people, I would buy it.
MOOS: But in this case, it's the image, not the dress that changes color. For some, it changes right before their eyes.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Now the black is gold. I know I'm old, but I'm not dead yet.
MOOS: You're confident that you understand this?
HALLER: Well --
MOOS: While scientists grapple, Legos made their own version of the dress, and those runaway llamas that captured America's heart were soon wearing black and blue and white and gold.
This is like the Mona Lisa of ophthalmology.
MOOS: Jeanne Moos, CNN --
HALLER: Leonardo would have loved this.
MOOS: -- New York.
BURNETT: I knew she could get the llamas in there. I saw it as gold and white, then I saw it black and blue, and now, I can see it as both. So, I think I'm truly certifiably insane.
Thanks for joining us. Be sure to set your DVR to watch OUTFRONT anytime.
Anderson starts now.