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British Terror Plot Foiled; Putting 'Sicko' Under the Microscope

Aired June 29, 2007 - 22:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Larry, a famous doctor of people, of politics, not medicine, said it best. Pat Moynihan said, everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts.
So, tonight, we're putting "Sicko"'s take on America's health system to the test, seeing if the facts support Michael Moore's view of what's wrong and how to fix it.

We begin, however, with a manhunt that's going on right now, as we speak, and the search still under way for more of what nearly detonated today in the heart of London. Two cars rigged to kill hundreds of people came within a cell phone call, or perhaps even less, of going off. That is one of the cars.

Authorities discovered that first car bomb early this morning outside a nightclub in London's Haymarket district, not far from Piccadilly Circus. They found the second parked car nearby, but didn't know it was also rigged, not until hours after they towed it to a lot just off Hyde Park. That's the second car there.

Now, all of London is on edge, of course. And all of Great Britain is on alert for a pair of would-be bombers who may have been caught on camera.

The latest now from CNN's Nic Robertson.


NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice- over): the photograph that tells it all: London's lucky escape, a car bomb outside a popular nightclub near Piccadilly Circus that failed to go off.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What's clear is that a potentially viable explosive device was discovered in the early hours of this morning, that, had it detonated, could have caused considerable loss of life.

ROBERTSON: A light-colored green Mercedes discovered almost by chance -- an surveillance crew at the nightclub for a sick patron spotted smoke in the vehicle and called police, as much as 25 gallons of gasoline and five butane tanks discovered.

PETER CLARKE, DEPUTY ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER, SCOTLAND YARD: In the car, they found significant quantities of petrol, together with a number of gas cylinders. There were also a large number of nails in the vehicle. ROBERTSON: And it wasn't to be the only device. At about the same time, another Mercedes, parked illegally about a quarter-mile away, was towed to an impound lot. Twelve hours later, workers reported smelling gas, it, too, discovered to be a potentially deadly car bomb.

CLARKE: The vehicle was found to contain very similar materials to those that have been found in the first car in Haymarket earlier today. There was a considerable amount of fuel and gas canisters. As in the first vehicle, there was also a substantial quantity of nails. These vehicles are clearly linked.

ROBERTSON: Police likely have leads on the two would-be car bombers from the thousands of closed-circuit security cameras in London, although they warn, forensic evidence from the bomb evidence may take some time to figure out.

Britain is already on the second highest threat level, severe, meaning terrorists, most likely al Qaeda, are ready, willing and able to attack, a stiff test for Britain's new prime minister, Gordon Brown, just two days on the job.

GORDON BROWN, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: The first duty of a government is the security of the people. And, as the police and security services have said on so many occasions, we face a serious and continued security threat to our country.

ROBERTSON: A threat that appears to be growing in scale and in danger, car bombs just like those used to such deadly effect in Iraq now on the streets of Britain's capital.


COOPER: And, Nic, really, this is the first time we have seen car bombs on London's streets, correct?

ROBERTSON: Certainly being used in this way, and in this decade.

The IRA -- had put into effect a number of different types of bombs. They used truck bombs and other vehicle bombs in the past, but, certainly, in the recent -- with this current terror threat, the very first time.

COOPER: Let's bring in CNN terrorism analyst Peter Bergen, along with Brian Jenkins of the RAND Corporation.

Appreciate all of you being with us.

Peter, does this sound like a terrorist plot directed or inspired by al Qaeda?


You know, Jacqui Smith, the incoming home secretary, said there were links to international terrorism. And she was talking about this earlier today. I don't know if she has information that was yet not publicly available or she was just speculating.

But, clearly, the fact you have two car bombs and a mass-casualty attack being planned, one outside a nightclub, very similar to a plan that was averted in 2004, when British police broke up a cell of people who were planning to attack one of London's major nightclubs, and also reminiscent of a plot, the so-called gas limos project, which another London al Qaeda member suggested to -- internally within al Qaeda, to use limousines packed with gas and propane to blow up as car bombs, just as we see with this plan today in London.

COOPER: And, Brian Jenkins, reminiscent of the -- the successful, I should say, Bali bombing, which occurred at a nightclub, killing tourists from around the world.

How concerned should British authorities be that there might be other car bombs positioned in London, ready to be detonated?

BRIAN JENKINS, SENIOR ADVISER, RAND CORPORATION: Well, I think there's always a presumption, whenever a bomb is found like this, that -- that there may be other devices.

It has been one of the characteristics of recent terrorist attacks that these are multiple, simultaneous attacks. So, therefore, there is an you are urgent search, I suspect, that is on right now to look for the possibility of other devices.

COOPER: Peter, stick around, Professor Jenkins, as well.

I want to get your take on what Joe Johns looked into today. We asked him to grade our government's progress in taking care of what they say is the first priority, providing for the common defense, keeping us safe.

We're "Keeping Them Honest."


JOE JOHNS, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's been nearly six years since the 9/11 attacks, six years without another attack on U.S. soil. "Keeping Them Honest," there's one more important date coming up, the three-year anniversary of the September 11 Commission's 41 recommendations to make America safer.

But here's the problem: After all this time, after all the lip- flapping in Washington, furious lobbying and emotional pleas from the families of the 9/11 victims, only about half of those recommendations have been implemented.

Clark Kent Ervin is the former inspector general for the Department of Homeland Security.

CLARK KENT ERVIN, CNN SECURITY ANALYST: Well, we have blown it, largely. There are many parts of the 9/11 Commission report's recommendations that we have not yet implemented, all these many years after 9/11. For example, we are still not allocating 100 percent of admittedly scarce counterterrorism dollars on the basis of risk. We still allocate some percentage of those funds to cities and states that are less at risk than what we all know are top terror targets, like New York City, like Washington, D.C. There's no excuse for that in the post-9/11 world.

JOHNS: Other important provisions not fully implemented include better communications for first-responders, better screening of cargo coming into the country, better countermeasures against proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

In the last election, Democrats said, passing all the recommendations was their number-one priority.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: First, we said we were going to make America safer by passing the 9/11 Commission recommendations.

JOHNS: That's what they said, but what did they do?

(on camera): The House did pass a bill, but it's gone nowhere, tied up in knots. And even more telling is that the Congress has also pretty much ignored one of the most important and difficult recommendations of all, which was to reform itself when it comes to oversight and intelligence matters.

(voice-over): But here's the really bad news. What was planned in London really wasn't addressed by the 9/11 Commission report, because experts say it's impossible to prevent.

The idea of a car bomb set to go off on a crowded street is what they call in homeland security parlance a soft-target situation. And it takes a little bit of luck to stop it, which is what happened in London.

THOMAS SANDERSON, FELLOW AND DEPUTY DIRECTOR OF THE TRANSNATIONAL THREATS PROGRAM, CENTER FOR STRATEGIC AND INTERNATIONAL STUDIES: What you have to rely on is the vigilance of the population, the good work of the police and intelligence, to prevent this from happening. But, nonetheless, if you want to carry out a crude attack with a simple car bomb or the use of a sidearm or an automatic, semiautomatic, weapon, that's relatively easy to do.

JOHNS: There's not much you can do about a suicide bomb, but that's no excuse for not doing the things you can do to make America safer.

Joe Johns, CNN, Washington.


COOPER: Back now by -- with Nic Robertson, Peter Bergen, and Brian Jenkins.

Brian, they can't stop car bombs in Baghdad. They found these two in London today. How tough is it to defend against suicide attacks or car bombs?

JENKINS: It doesn't even have to be against suicide attacks. That's not a prerequisite for effectiveness on the terrorists' part.

The problem is protecting public places. Public places are hard to protect, because they are public places. And we can erect perimeters of security around shopping malls, theaters, nightclubs. But the fact is that that has very little net security benefit, because the bomber in that case can simply take the bomb over to the next target that is not protected.

We will never run out of public places for bombers to hit. So, the issue becomes not a matter of physical protection, but a matter of better intelligence in stopping these things before they come up to that point.

COOPER: Nic, do authorities now, at this point, know why these bombs failed to detonate?

ROBERTSON: They don't.

There is an indication, perhaps, some security experts are saying, the fact that the ambulance men first realized that the Mercedes had explosives, and it was because it was full of gas, and, perhaps, that -- the speculation is, because the bomb had failed to detonate properly, perhaps only some of it had gone off, that leading to the gas, that leading to the reason why the person inside the vehicle fled.

But, no, it's not clear at this stage. In fact, we only learned of how the bombers failed two summers ago, the 7/21 bombers failed two summers ago, in their court hearing. So, it could take a year, a year-and-a-half, even, before we may found out those details -- Anderson.

COOPER: Peter, let's talk about that, the summer bombings two years ago on the subway and on the bus. What do we now know about those attackers? Were they homegrown terrorists? Or how -- how much sort of international linkages or connections did they have?

BERGEN: Well, you know, Anderson, you were there in London after those attacks.

And, initially, the government and the media, I think, interpreted it really as a bunch of homegrown people who got radicalized in Britain. And that was only, it turned out, part of the story. It became clearer over time that two of the lead suicide attackers had actually trained with al Qaeda in Pakistan. They made suicide videos with al Qaeda's video production arm. It was an al Qaeda-directed operation through and through.

And, then, you mentioned, also, that there was another planned attack on July 21, sort of a copycat operation. Again, it was seen sort of as homegrown. Now it's come out more recently in the trial that at least one of them had got training in Pakistan. It doesn't seem to have been an al Qaeda-directed operation, but it does seem to have had international links back to Pakistan, which we don't know what -- you know, today, the events of today, we're not -- there are a lot of things we don't know.

But, I mean, one thing British authorities surely are going to be looking at, when they find these suspects, are links to Pakistan, where so many British terrorists have gone for training over the past several years.

COOPER: Nic, why does Islamic extremism seem, at least on the face of it, more prevalent in London and Great Britain than in other Western countries, and certainly here in America?

ROBERTSON: You know, there was an interesting analysis by somebody who studied the London -- one of the London bombers in their community in the North of England.

And the analysis was that this -- that the younger generation had sort of fractured with the older generation. The older generation hadn't assimilated into British culture. The younger generation had tended to drift away from the parents' values of marrying with cousins, staying in the family.

They had drifted towards Islamic extremism. Some people had fostered those views and beliefs within the community. But this gap had opened up, not because of what was happening around them in Britain. They were antagonized by what they saw the British government and the American government doing in Iraq, doing in Afghanistan.

But, essentially, the roots of the problems came within their own community, i.e, separating from the values of their parents. And that allowed them, then, to drift off towards this Islamic extremism, Anderson.

COOPER: Brian, these devices were described as pretty crude construction, propane tanks, gasoline, nails, cell phones.

Why those materials?

JENKINS: Well, it's interesting in this particular case, if that list of materials is indeed -- turns out to be correct, the absence of explosives.

All of those items that were used in -- in the devices as described can be easily purchased, with little risk of discovery or arousing suspicion, on the part of the bombmaker, as opposed to attempting to steal explosives or fabricate explosives from chemicals, the sale of which might be monitored.

So, that suggests that it's a lower-risk operation. What is interesting is that the -- those who broadcast this al Qaeda ideology have had a measure of success in creating an army of believers. But it has proved a lot more difficult for them to field an army of effective bombers. Their ability to incite, fortunately, exceeds their ability to instruct.

COOPER: Fortunately, indeed.

Brian Jenkins, appreciate your expertise, Peter Bergen, as well.

And, Nic Robertson, thanks for the reporting.

Again, there are reports that police may have crystal-clear images of these would-be bombers. And, as we have already mentioned, there's a good reason why. Here's the "Raw Data" on London's network of security cameras.

It is the largest closed-circuit television system of any city in the world. It dates all the way back to 1953. There are believed to be more than 500,000 surveillance cameras throughout the capital, so many that the average person is captured on tape -- get this -- 300 times per day

Coming up this week: an inside look at the extremism taking hold in Britain from "CNN: SPECIAL INVESTIGATIONS UNIT."

CNN's Christiane Amanpour uncovers a surprising new breeding ground for terror in "The War Within," tomorrow and Sunday at 8:00 p.m. Eastern.

Now some of the other stories making headlines tonight.

Erica Hill joins us with a 360 bulletin -- Erica.

ERICA HILL, HEADLINE NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, we start with a fierce and deadly battle in Iraq: five U.S. soldiers killed in an attack that began with what is described as a very large IED blast. That explosion was followed by a firestorm of rocket-propelled grenades and small-arms fire.

The ambush brings the U.S. military death toll in Iraq this month to 99.

No relief in sight for parts of flood-soaked Texas and Oklahoma, and even more rain is forecast for areas where rivers and lakes are already swollen way beyond their limit. In Texas, the storm is being blamed for 11 deaths. And thousands of people have been forced from their homes by more than two weeks of record rainfall.

And an update for you -- last night, in our "What Were They Thinking?" segment, we told you about an Amtrak crew kicking a Saint Louis man off a train at a remote rail crossing in Arizona. Amtrak says 65-year-old Roosevelt Sims appeared to be drunk and was unruly. His family, though, says Sims was likely in diabetic shock.

Well, last night, he was found safe. He was walking along a road just a couple of miles from where he was escorted off the train, apparently barefoot and dehydrated. But, luckily, he was found -- Anderson.

COOPER: Thank goodness on that. Just unbelievable.

HILL: It is really wild, which brings us to -- we're going to move on now to tonight's "What Were They Thinking?" which is a little more lighthearted and really, I know, very close to your heart.

The lines, the crowds, it was all happening down the block from you, my friend -- that's right -- across the country, even, iPhone fever. People...

COOPER: Ay, yay, yay.

HILL: I know. They're not taking your advice.

COOPER: I'm sick of it already. I'm sick of it already.

HILL: They're not waiting.


HILL: Yes, waiting for the smaller iPhone. Instead, it is pandemonium, camping out for days, the phones selling out in minutes.

One customer...

COOPER: It's iPhone-monium is what it is.

HILL: It's -- oh, it is.


HILL: Nice. That's good.


HILL: Get this. One customer outside one of the New York stores called it a -- quote -- "liminal experience" -- liminal.


HILL: I have no idea what that means, at all.

And he didn't stick around to translate, because, apparently, then, the guy said: Oh, got to go. I don't want to get robbed.

Maybe you should have thought about that before you shelled out 600 bucks for a phone.

COOPER: Oh. Ouch.

HILL: I know. That's a lot of money for a cell phone.

COOPER: It's -- oh, you're so -- so 2.0.

HILL: I'm cheap. I'm cheap.

COOPER: If you think it's a cell phone. It's a multi...


HILL: Oh, I'm sorry. You're right. It's a multimedia device... (CROSSTALK)

COOPER: Yes. Yes.

HILL: ... that just can save the world.

COOPER: I'm sticking with my fancy new BlackBerry here.

HILL: I still have BlackBerry...


COOPER: Did you get my photo? I took a photo of you last night, and I sent it to you. Did you get it?


HILL: I finally got it, yes.

COOPER: I'm going to take another one very quickly.

HILL: All right.

COOPER: OK. There we go. Click. OK.

Thanks, Erica.

HILL: I will look for it in my in-box.

COOPER: So, what were they thinking?

When we come back: a deadly serious version of the question: What are they thinking? We're talking about the terror that's breeding in the West. What turns your neighbor into a killer?


COOPER (voice-over): The homegrown terror.

DAN RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Do you love Osama bin Laden?

ABU ABDULLAH, BRITISH RESIDENT: I love him more than myself.

COOPER: Meet a man who recruited his countrymen for jihad. He calls it his duty to kill, and says no one, man, woman, or child, is safe.

Also tonight: Forget votes. The candidates are really after your cash. See who is the new king, or queen, of cold campaign cash in "Raw 360 Politics" tonight.



COOPER: There it is, a Mercedes transformed into a ticking time bomb, one of the two booby-trapped cars found in the heart of London.

Now, if those cars had exploded, if they bombs had exploded, one British subject we spoke to might have rejoiced. His name is Abu Abdullah, a convert to Islam. He preaches hatred for the West and admiration for Osama bin Laden.

CNN's Dan Rivers sat down with Abu Abdullah last August. Just days later, he was arrested and jailed under the U.K.'s terror laws. Officials would not tell us why. tonight, he is still behind bars.

Here is the chilling interview.


DAN RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: What was your reaction, for example, on September the 11th?

ABDULLAH: Every sincere Muslim was pleased, because America deserved -- deserved a punch in the nose, you know? As many...


RIVERS: Three thousand people died that day.

ABDULLAH: Three thousand people was like a drop in the ocean, compared to the millions of Muslims that have been killed.

RIVERS (voice-over): Abu Abdullah calls himself a cleric, but his extremist views may be repugnant to the vast majority of Muslims, in fact, anyone who believes in God.

One of the most outspoken Muslims in Britain, he's an associate of convicted terrorist Abu Hamza, who is serving seven years in prison for inciting racial hatred and soliciting murder, and is wanted in the United States for trying to establish terror camps in Oregon.

ABDULLAH: My honorable sheik, Osama bin Laden, and Sheik Ayman al-Zawahri, I love these people dearly, for the sake of Allah. I couldn't express how much I love these people.

RIVERS (on camera): You love Osama bin Laden?

ABDULLAH: Oh, yes. I love him more than myself.

RIVERS (voice-over): Abdullah tries to use the Koran to justify terror.

ABDULLAH: The Muslims that have the -- obviously want to take up arms against the West. It's their Islamic right to do so. Islam is a peaceful religion, but, at the same time, Islam is allowed to defend itself.

RIVERS (on camera): It's allowed to defend itself, you would say. Is it allowed to attack the West?

ABDULLAH: Absolutely. If this person is killed by the West, then we have our rights to take it out on the West, those -- mainly the army, the British or the American army, government buildings, where they legislate from, banks.

RIVERS: So, they're fair game?

ABDULLAH: Well, it's absolutely -- of course it's fair game for the -- the Muslim.

RIVERS: So, Tony Blair is a legitimate target? George Bush is a legitimate target?

ABDULLAH: Absolutely, absolutely, yes.

RIVERS: Do you think that America and Britain will be subjected to further attacks?

ABDULLAH: They should be.

RIVERS: A lot of people will be horrified by what you're saying, that they think that you are bringing nothing but chaos and death and destruction and misery.

ABDULLAH: Well, I'm not here to please the West or to please people's understandings. My people are being killed, all over the world in many, many countries.

RIVERS: But that doesn't justify...

ABDULLAH: It's not stopping.

RIVERS: ... killing other people.

ABDULLAH: It does justify it. Of course it justifies it. When is it going to stop?

You people need to know, we're not going to take it anymore. You want to know why Muslims in this country are understanding what they understand? They're sick of the West. They're sick of the -- I owe this country nothing.

RIVERS (voice-over): And this from a man born and brought up in the United Kingdom, who only converted to Islam later in life.

(on camera): But do you think God really wants Muslims to go out and kill innocent people, in the name of...


ABDULLAH: God doesn't instruct Muslims to go out and kill innocent people.

RIVERS: That's what you're advocating.

ABDULLAH: No, no, no, that's what you're saying. That's the terminology you're using and the words that you're actually using.

RIVERS: Well, let's clarify this. Are you...


ABDULLAH: We call it self-defense.

The difference between me and you is faith. The difference between me and you is trying to enjoin the right and forbid the evil. The difference between me and you, I live for the sake of God, and you live for the sake of the devil.

RIVERS (voice-over): Dan Rivers, CNN, London.


COOPER: Coming up on 360: Michael Moore's new movie: the fact check.


COOPER (voice-over): His movie "Sicko" and his health care diagnosis.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He played fast and loose with the facts.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Michael Moore was spot on.

MICHAEL MOORE, DOCUMENTARY FILMMAKER: The facts, I think, support what I believe.

COOPER: We're putting him to the test, Michael Moore, "Sicko," and the facts. "We're Keeping Them Honest" -- next.

Also tonight: Forget votes. The candidates are really after your cash. See who is the new king, or queen, of cold campaign cash in "Raw 360 Politics" tonight.






COOPER: Ah, kicking it old school. That's, of course, the Beastie Boys' rap classic "You Gotta Fight for Your Right to Party."

And that is our...


COOPER: Our crew was very inspired by that. They dance. They sing. They do it all. We keep getting great suggestions for our campaign coverage theme music. That was one of the suggestions we received. We're not sure it's going to work it out. The contest lasts for a couple more weeks. So, keep sending in the suggestions. If you have got a song idea for what our campaign theme song should be, log on to Let us know.

As for tonight's "Raw Politics," no Beastie Boys, but plenty of rage from the voters and money for the candidates.

Here's CNN's "Raw" -- Tom Foreman.


TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, the Democrats are in charge of Congress now, but, this weekend, they're getting a hard kick in the "Raw Politics" pants.

(voice-over): The Democrats won big last fall, snatching control of the House and Senate, all smiles and promises.

PELOSI: The campaign is over. Democrats are ready to lead.


FOREMAN: But our latest numbers show, almost half of all Americans now disapprove of the job the Democrats are doing. Top Dems say, yes, but it's still the Republicans' fault.

SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV), MAJORITY LEADER: Let's be realistic about this. The war in Iraq is dragging down people's confidence in what's going on in this country.

FOREMAN: To be sure, the polls shows voters aren't happy with the Dems, but still like the Republicans even less.

Smiling for dollars -- the second-quarter of fund-raising ends this weekend for presidential candidates. For Republicans, Mitt Romney and Rudy Giuliani should be in the big money, and, for the Dems, Hillary Clinton says she's raised $27 million, and Barack Obama could show about the same, all in the past three months.

A little raw perspective, though: That's well below what "Evan Almighty" made in the past three days.

Disappearing Republicans at the Magic Kingdom -- the nation's largest organization for Latino officials is holding a convention there and meeting with Democratic presidential hopefuls. What about the Republican chat? Canceled. Only Duncan Hunter said he would show. The Republicans face a conflict with another event in Iowa this weekend, but Florida is where they have still got strong Latino support. So, this could hurt.

And remember the president's disappearing watch? Some thought Albanians had stolen it. It turns out, he put it into his pocket. One of our viewers wants to know, is this common? The answer is yes. (on camera): Politicians often pull off their jewelry in big crowds, so they don't get snagged on a button, or maybe just so you don't feel them dipping into your pocket.

That's "Raw Politics" -- Anderson.


COOPER: Oh, you cynic, Tom.

Starting next month, presidential candidates are going to have to answer your questions at the CNN/YouTube debates. Democrats are going to face off on July 23. Republicans debate on September 17.

Remember, all the questions come from you at home. You've just got to make a video under 30 seconds. Submit your questions at -- just go to and just follow the link there to submit your video questions. Just go to

One other quick programming note. On Monday, we head to the front lines of the immigration battle of the U.S.-Mexico border for a reality check. Congress has long been promising to, of course, secure the borders. We're "Keeping Them Honest". One example, a collection of high-tech sensors along the Texas border. We're going to look at, really, whether they work or not.

Here's a preview.


RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Four a.m., a sensor is triggered again and again and again. Twenty, maybe 30 people just illegally crossed and walked right over a buried sensor.

But the truth is, sensors only detect. They don't catch. Now border agents have to go get them.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They'll have vehicles come by and just stop by a gate. And all of a sudden, 20, 30 people are jumping in.

KAYE: We wait as agents track footprints and try to close in. At 6 a.m., agents move in. They briefly spot their targets, but in the tall weeds, they lose them. Whoever they were, all 20 or 30, outmaneuvered the U.S. Border Patrol and slipped into the darkness.


COOPER: You can see all of Randi Kaye's report and much more on Monday in 360's special report, "24 Hours on the Border: Living the Battle".

We've got some sad news to report. Longtime movie critic Joel Siegel died today after a long battle with cancer. He was 63.

Some of us here at 360 had the privilege of working with Joel at ABC News, where he reviewed films for "Good Morning America". He held that job for more than 25 years and was still working as recently as two weeks ago.

He's survived by his wife and young son and by many, many who knew him and loved him.

Just ahead, a fight against the health care industry. Michael Moore's new and -- no surprise -- controversial documentary, "Sicko", opens nationwide. Tonight, we're "Keeping Him Honest", checking the facts on his film. 360 next.



MICHAEL MOORE, FILMMAKER: We have a tragedy taking place every year now. Eighteen thousand people a year now, these are the official statistics; 18,000 people a year die in this country for no other reason other than the fact that they don't have a health insurance card. That's six 9/11s every single year.


COOPER: That was Michael Moore earlier on "LARRY KING LIVE". His new movie, "Sicko" opened nationwide today, and as you may have already heard, it is a scathing indictment of the U.S. health care system, starring American citizens and their medical horror stories.

Moore, of course, is known for his controversial style of filmmaking. Some have questioned the facts in his films. So tonight, we thought we'd ask CNN chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta to do a fact check.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's not on, right?



DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: "Sicko" throws some hard punches at the United States health care system, and it seems just about everyone has something to say.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He played fast and loose with the facts.


MOORE: The facts, I think, support what I believe.

GUPTA: And Moore presents a lot of facts throughout the movie. But do they all check out? "Keeping Them Honest", we did some digging, and we started with the biggy.

The United States slipped to No. 37 in the world's health care systems. It's true. Thirty-seven is the ranking, according to the World Health Organization's latest data on 191 countries. It's based on general health level, patient satisfaction, access and how it's paid for.

France tops the list. Italy and Spain make it into the top ten. The United Kingdom is 18.

MOORE: Hello?

GUPTA: Moore brings a group of patients, including 9/11 workers, to Cuba and marvels at their free treatment and quality of care. But hold on: that WHO list puts Cuba's health care system even lower than the United States, coming in at No. 39.

Moore asserts that the American health care system spends $7,000 per person on health, whereas Cuba spends $25 per person. Not true, but not too far off. The United States spends $6,096 a year per person, versus $229 per person in Cuba.

And astronomically more money doesn't mean far better outcomes. In fact, Americans live just a little bit longer than Cubans on average.

So Americans do pay more, but the United States also ranks highest in patient satisfaction. And Americans have shorter wait times than everyone but Germans when seeking non-emergency elective procedures like hip replacement, cataract surgery or knee repair.

That's not something you'll see in "Sicko", as Americans tell their tales of lack of coverage and suffocating red tape. It's true that the United States is the only country in the western world without free universal access to health care.

But you won't find medical utopia elsewhere. The film is filled with content Canadians and Brits sitting in waiting rooms, confident care will come. But in Canada, you can be waiting for a long time. A survey of six industrialized nations found that only Canada was worse than the United States when it came to waiting for a doctor's appointment for a medical problem.

PAUL KECKLEY, DELOITE HEALTH CARE ANALYST: That's the reality of those systems. There are quotas; there are planned wait times.

The concept that care is free in France and Canada and Cuba, and it's not. Those citizens pay for health services out of taxes. And as a proportion of their household income, it's a significant number.

GUPTA: It's true that the French pay higher taxes, and so does nearly every country ahead of the United States on that list. But even higher taxes don't give all the coverage everyone wants.

KECKLEY: Fifteen to 20 percent of the population will purchase services outside the system of care run by the government.

GUPTA: So there's no perfect system anywhere. But no matter how much more you fudge the facts, and he did fudge some facts, there's one everyone agrees on. The system here should be far better. (END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Far better indeed. It's numbers like these, released days ago by the Centers for Disease Control that are fueling calls for change.

Nearly 44 million Americans, almost 15 percent of us, did not have health insurance in 2006. The percentage varied widely by state, nearly 8 percent in Michigan, Michael Moore's home state, to nearly 24 percent in Texas, President Bush's home state.

Moore's solution, as you just heard, is to give all Americans free universal coverage. He paints insurance companies as the villains. As you might imagine, they see it far differently.

Joining me now is Karen Ignagni, the president of America's Health Insurance Plans.

Karen, thank you very much for being with us. I want to play a clip from the film "Sicko". Just take a look.


MOORE (voice-over): Laura Burnham (ph) was in a 45-mile-an-hour head-on collision that knocked her out cold. Paramedics got her out of the car and into an ambulance for a trip to the hospital.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I get a bill from my insurance company, telling me that the ambulance ride was not going to be paid for, because it wasn't pre-approved. I don't know exactly when I was supposed to pre-approve it, you know? Like after I gained consciousness in the car, before I got in the ambulance, or I should have grabbed my cell phone off of the street and called while I was in the ambulance. I mean, it was just crazy.


COOPER: You represent insurance companies. How do you explain a situation like that?

KAREN IGNAGNI, PRESIDENT, AMERICA'S HEALTH INSURANCE PLAN: I think, Anderson, there are only two possible explanations. One, straightforwardly, it was a mistake.

Two, this was an auto accident. I've been in an auto accident, and I know my health insurer was the second payer, not the first. So in this case, maybe the health insurer actually was saying that it was the auto insurer's responsibility.

But I think the point of this movie is that Michael Moore is right -- and I watched the interview on "LARRY KING" -- that it's time for our nation to confront the fact that we have 46 million people without health insurance. He's right about that.

He's not right about the prescription, but he is -- he's right about what the need to move forward is. COOPER: Let's listen to some of what he said to Larry earlier tonight.


MOORE: The insurance company is the one deciding whether or not the doctor can perform a procedure or a treatment on a patient. I mean, just think about that. You go to see a doctor, the doctor says, "I think you need this particular operation."

But the doctor just can't order the operation or send you to a specialist. He has to call someone sitting in a cubicle, maybe a thousand miles away, who can then give permission.

And as you see in my film, the doctors who work with the insurance companies, they get bonuses for denying the most number of claims.


COOPER: Over the past ten years, Karen, health care premiums have grown at four times the rate of wages and inflation, and insurance company profits have nearly tripled. You know, let's be honest. Insurance companies are for-profit businesses, and the way they maximize profits is by minimizing payments. Isn't that correct?

IGNAGNI: I saw that clip, and in fact, there's another side to this story, which the point has been made by Larry King and others, that Mr. Moore never endeavored to see the other side of the story.

First, Anderson, these are tragic cases. Anyone with -- any human would say that. But now I think it's important, if we're going to be moving toward a solution, to find out is this a situation where there was a mistake? Is it a situation where the health plan, in fact, was interpreting the contract that the employer purchased, which is the case in the case that you just asked me about?

Or is it an experimental process or procedure that employers simply don't cover? It's important to get the answers to those questions, because it will guide how we proceed with health care reform.

COOPER: But you know, just about everybody listening to this who's dealt with insurance companies on medical issues is not going to really buy that, you know, these mistakes happen or -- I mean, we have seen plenty of cases.

There's people interviewed in this Hill. We've seen testimony on Capitol Hill. There have been peer-reviewed journals. You know, I mean, insurance companies have people whose job is to retroactively look at big claims that have been paid out for any evidence that there might be some preexisting condition so they can, you know, deny the claim.

Again, the bottom line is profit for these companies. IGNAGNI: The case you're talking about is more than 15 years old, No. 1. We made some very different decisions 15 years ago than we make today. Our industry led the fight for independent external review, because we wanted to give people a sense of peace of mind that, in fact, they could have another -- a second opinion if they didn't agree with the decision. It's a very important difference.

COOPER: But it is -- just so we're clear, you know, there are all these commercials from insurers about how they want to help people, and clearly, I'm sure there are good people who do want to help people. But again, the bottom line is profit and maximizing profit.

IGNAGNI: In every doctor's office, in every hospital, in every health plan, yes, it's true, in all of those situations. No margin, no mission. If you're not in the black, then you can't do your job.

The individuals that we cover, 250 million of them, expect to have their health care coverage. We saw eight to ten stories featured in the film, and in fact, there was no attempt to get the other side of the story.

And I know for a fact, because many of these cases are eight to ten to 15 years old, there is another side of the story. In many of these cases featured in the film, it was simply a case where the health plan was interpreting was this coverage purchased by the employer?

Now, we can have a debate about whether employers purchase enough coverage. We can definitely talk about that. And what society's obligation ought to be. But that's a very different discussion.

If we're going to figure out where we go with the health insurance crisis in this country, the 46 million people who don't have coverage, we have to answer those questions very straightforwardly.

COOPER: We like to get all sides and let people represent themselves.

IGNAGNI: Thank you.

COOPER: Karen Ignagni, appreciate you representing your side. Thank you.

Just ahead tonight on 360, the man behind the movie. The story not a lot of people know. We're going to take a closer look at Michael Moore and how he became the man he is now.

Plus, "The Shot of the Day". What the heck do you call a horse with stripes? Well, sort of. We'll explain when 360 continues.


COOPER: Michael Moore's new movie, "Sicko", opened nationwide today. And like all his other movies, it takes aim at a very large target, this time the U.S. health care system. To his fans, Moore, now 53, is a tireless crusader for the little guy. To his critics, he's a distorter of facts who used cheap stunts to make oversimplified points.

He first made headlines nearly 20 years ago with "Roger and Me", and his path from the Midwest to Middle Age has been anything but mellow.

Here's CNN's Tom Foreman.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What's your reason for seeing Roger Smith?

MOORE: We're doing -- we're making a film.

FOREMAN: He seemed almost charming back then: a crusader with a beer gut and a baseball cap, on a mission to save the dying town where he was born.

MOORE: You know, we're out to, you know, stick up for the little guy.

FOREMAN: Gritty Flint, Michigan, where Michael Moore's father worked the General Motors assembly line. When the plant started laying off workers, Moore embarked on a cinematic odyssey to get some answers from GM's chairman.

The fact is, Moore didn't actually grow up in Flint but in the neighboring middle class town of Davidson. From there, he went to the University of Michigan, but he dropped out.

For a time, he worked for Ralph Nader.

Eventually, he put all of his money into his first documentary, "Roger and Me". It was a breakout hit of 1989. The next year, Moore married Kathleen Glynn, a graphic artist. And before too long, the mild-mannered populist became a full-time provocateur.

MOORE: We need you to ask the questions, demand the evidence.

FOREMAN: A longtime NRA member, Moore took on gun violence in the Oscar-winning "Bowling for Columbine".

MOORE: Here's my first question. Do you think it's a little dangerous handing out guns in a bank?

FOREMAN: Provocative but just a warm-up. "Fahrenheit 9/11", a blistering critique of the Bush administration's case for war, highest grossing documentary of all time, pulling in more than $200 million worldwide. The film that turned Moore into an icon of the left.

MOORE: You're supposed to be able to believe the president. You're supposed to.

FOREMAN: Moore got a seat of honor at the 2004 Democratic National Convention, right next to Jimmy and Roslyn Carter.

MOORE: He said to me, "I can't think of anyone I would rather have sit with me tonight than you."

FOREMAN (on camera): Are you ready to go to the Republican convention?

MOORE: I already have my credentials for the Republican convention, and so do my 25 bodyguards.

FOREMAN (voice-over): The reception there, not as warm.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: A disingenuous filmmaker who would have us believe...

FOREMAN: Now he's at it again. Each documentary, a happening. Same cap, new cause.

Tom Foreman, CNN, Washington.


COOPER: Well, straight ahead tonight, the terror plot in London and questions about whether we're doing enough to stop the terror attacks in this country. Billions are being spent, but where is the money going and what's really being done? We're "Keeping Them Honest". That's coming up.


COOPER: Earlier in the program tonight, we showed you this map of Iraq. Let's put the map up there. There's Iraq, clearly marked. There's Baghdad. The country, though, to the left, that's not Afghanistan. You know it, I know it, we know it, but we made a mistake. It is Syria. It's an inexcusable mistake, and I'm sorry. It won't happen again.

Let's check in now with Erica Hill. We've got "The Shot" tonight. It's coming up in just a minute. Take a look at this shot. A freak of nature or science or good breeding? Is it a zorse? Well, we'll try to figure that out.

First, Erica Hill joins us with the "360 Bulletin".

ERICA HILL, HEADLINE NEWS ANCHOR: Anderson, today it's an about- face by the Supreme Court. The justices have now agreed to hear appeals from two detainees at Guantanamo Bay. The court had rejected their petitions back in April. At issue here, the rights of the detainees to contest their imprisonment.

I actually (ph) have a related CNN/Opinion Research poll to tell you about. It is a virtual tie. Forty-six to 45 on the question of whether the U.S. should continue to operate that military prison at Gitmo.

A second raid to report at the office of a doctor who treated wrestler Chris Benoit. And this time federal drug agents smashing through the front door with a battering ram, reportedly following up on a raid two days ago. Investigators also looking into whether steroids might have played a role in last weekend's double murder- suicide at Benoit's home.

As we take a look ahead at the wildfire that is blazing near Lake Tahoe in California, crews now predicting they could have that blaze fully contained by Tuesday. Earlier today, it was about 70 percent contained, and they had it surrounded.

Since Sunday, 3,100 acres have burned, more than 250 buildings destroyed.

And you are looking inside what authorities are calling a drug smuggling tunnel found running under the U.S.-Mexico border. About as long as a football field but only three feet in diameter.

The entrance was first discovered inside a home in Nogales, Arizona. But the other end was in an apartment in Nogales, Mexico, Anderson.

It's just amazing to me how they can dig these tunnels.

COOPER: Yes, I mean, the one I was in was 2,400 feet to San Diego. You know, it was huge. It must have taken weeks and weeks.

HILL: It blows my mind.

COOPER: Yes. Erica, remind our viewers that, on Monday, we've got an immigration special coming up on 360, "Living the Battle: 24 Hours on the Border". We're going to be live from Texas on the border for that. He'll be joining us.

Right now, let's take a gander at today's "Shot". Shall we, Erica?

HILL: Let's do that.

COOPER: It's out of Germany where there's apparently major identity confusion in the animal kingdom.

HILL: Whoa!

COOPER: Zookeepers there are looking for a boyfriend for a female cross between a horse and a zebra. Crazy.

HILL: I mean, look at the markings.

COOPER: I think this is a hoax, frankly.

HILL: You know what it looks like? It looks like one of those kid's books where you know, you have like, oh, the butt of a cow and the head of a pig.

COOPER: It's a zebra; it's a horse. Do you call it a zorse?

HILL: Or a hebra?

COOPER: Or a hebra. That's another one.

HILL: That's right.

COOPER: Yes, it's...

HILL: I call it wacky.

COOPER: Oh, yes? Yes, I don't know what Charles Darwin would make of all this.

HILL: Rolling over in his grave.

COOPER: Yes. If he was even right. Yes, because we're not sure of that.

HILL: There is that discussion. But that's for another show.

COOPER: Yes. Where have we seen this before? Hmm.

HILL: Hmm.

COOPER: Oh, yes, the mighty liger.

HILL: The liger.

COOPER: Remember the liger?

HILL: Liger.

COOPER: Is it a lion? Is it a tiger? What would Napoleon Dynamite say? He would say it's a liger.

HILL: Personally, he'd say liger. Yes.

COOPER: We want you to send us your "Shot" ideas. If you see some amazing video, some remarkable animals, tell us about it at We'll put some of your best clips on the air.


Just ahead, the latest on what could have been a horrific terror attack in London. Plus, we'll take a look at how prepared we are here in America. "Keeping Them Honest" on homeland security when 360 continues.