Return to Transcripts main page
ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Al Qaeda Comeback; Pizza Bomber Case; Massive Manhunt: Officers Down; Gun Law Battle; The Blame Game; TB Fallout;
Aired July 11, 2007 - 23:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR: The man in charge of protecting you and me says he's got a gut feeling about an attack this summer.
Tonight, we will have a gut check.
Also tonight, one of the strangest and sickest crimes in memory that ended with a ticking human time bomb going off. Now, indictments and revelations even stranger and more convoluted than anyone could imagine.
Later on, what the cameras saw -- one man's tragedy, another man's bravery, and all the lives they touched. Everything changed in a single terrifying instant.
We begin, though, tonight in another familiar and frightening spot. With growing signals from the government that al Qaeda is gearing up for a major attack, what's more, that it may have regained the capacity for pulling one off.
CNN has learned that a new intelligence threat assessment will likely take center stage tomorrow at a White House meeting. It suggests that al Qaeda has rebuilt its operational capability to a level not seen since the war on terror began.
No comment from the Department of Homeland Security, but the first sign of all the concern came on Tuesday, when DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff told the "Chicago Tribune" he had a gut feeling about a terror attack this summer.
Today, he told our Kelli Arena more.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHAEL CHERTOFF, HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: I do think, as we come into the summer season, there is increased risk of something happening. We saw last summer in August attacks directed at airliners. And, so, without suggesting in the slightest that there's specific threat information, I do think that it's a good time to take a deep breath and stay sharp.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERTS: So, with all of that on the table, we're joined now by CNN Terrorism Analyst Peter Bergen, and Jeff Beatty. He's now a security consultant, formerly of the CIA, the FBI, and the Army's Delta Force. Peter Bergen, this idea that al Qaeda is at its strongest point since the war on terror began, how strong exactly is that?
PETER BERGEN, CNN TERRORISM ANALYST: Well, I mean, I think there are several pieces of evidence for al Qaeda regrouping.
The London attack of July 7, 2005, killed 52 people, was an al Qaeda operation. The -- what Michael Chertoff just referred to, this attempt to bring down 10 American airliners with liquid explosives in 2006, that was also an al Qaeda operation. Al Qaeda is certainly influencing what's going on in Afghanistan with the rapidly rising number of suicide attacks and IED attacks.
Al Qaeda has regrouped from the tribal areas between Afghanistan and Pakistan. It has a strong presence in Iraq. Other groups are joining. For instance, GSPC, which is a major Algerian terrorist group, recently announced that it's part of al Qaeda. So, there are lots of indicators that al Qaeda is regrouping.
The question is, can it attack the United States? I'm quite skeptical about that right now. Yes, there is this, you know, pattern of summer attacks, but there's no specific information, as Michael Chertoff said, about a particular attack at the locations, identities of attackers. I'm skeptical that there are al Qaeda sleeper cells in this country.
When we have been attacked by jihadist terrorists in the past, it's usually been -- it's always been people coming in from outside, whether it was 9/11 or -- or other attacks.
ROBERTS: Jeff, let me play just a little bit more of that interview that Michael Chertoff did with Kelli Arena and then ask you about a particular point here.
Take a quick listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHERTOFF: You look at the increased number of public statements by the leadership of al Qaeda, you look at their history of summer attacks, you look at the fact that, over the past months, as the director of national intelligence has said, they have been doing additional training in certain parts of Pakistan, where they are able to operate more or less freely.
When you add those things together, I think we need to be mindful of a need for increased vigilance.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERTS: Jeff, Michael Chertoff has got a reputation as a pretty circumspect guy. The fact that he is saying this summer we're at an increased likelihood for attack, should that be reason for concern?
JEFF BEATTY, FORMER DELTA FORCE COMMANDER: Well, I think it should. And al Qaeda certainly wants to demonstrate that they are an effective -- effective force, and effective enemy against us. It has been six years since they have been able to press home an attack. That's not particularly effective for an organization that has declared war on us.
But I think there's something else in what the secretary said, John, that's very, very interesting to me. And that is, he's talked about these areas that these people are operating in, in Pakistan with relative freedom. Now, to me, that is absolutely unacceptable.
When the president comes out and says that we will follow terrorists to the ends of the earth, they can run, but they cannot hide from us, and then we have reports recently of Secretary Rumsfeld calling off an operation to go in after al Qaeda leaders in Pakistan, it starts to make the president's words ring hollow.
And you cannot win this war on terror on defense. You have to win it on offense. And we have to willing to conduct those operations to go wherever on the planet we need to go to take out the al Qaeda leadership. And I think we have not done enough of that. And I hope we will start seeing more of that.
ROBERTS: Peter Bergen, when you look at all of the money spent, all of the time invested, all of the lives that have been lost in this war on terror, and al Qaeda seems to be gaining strength worldwide and does not seem to have diminished its strength in Iraq, is this a signal that the war on terror is being lost?
BERGEN: Well, it's certainly not being won.
I mean, a colleague and myself at NYU, we looked at the question of what is the effect of the Iraq war on the -- on jihadist terrorism? And we found a sevenfold increase as a result of the invasion of Iraq in -- compared to the period between September 11 and -- and the invasion of March of 2003.
Now, of course, a lot of that is happening in Iraq. A lot of it is happening -- a lot of the violence is happening in Afghanistan. Some of it is happening in the Arab world. Some of it is also happening in Europe. And, of course, with the recent attempted attacks in London and Glasgow, clearly a reaction to the Iraq war, one of the leading -- one of the leading leaders of that an Iraqi himself.
So, you know, I think, if you took away the Iraq war from this whole question, I think we would be -- actually, we would have been -- you know, we would be safer. Al Qaeda has taken -- it was sort of a lifeboat into which they jumped, this Iraq war.
BERGEN: And they have been able to exploit it.
ROBERTS: Go ahead, Jeff. You wanted to jump in there.
BEATTY: Well, I was going to add to -- I think Peter makes a good point.
But there's a -- take that point a little bit farther. The consequences of being in Iraq, not favorable. He cites the sevenfold increase. But I think that, were we to not exit Iraq with some sort of favorable outcome for the United States, then we're looking at an even more severe situation, an even worse situation.
And that really brings into focus the need for the United States to forge a favorable outcome in Iraq so that we can reduce this multiplying factor of recruitment that they would be able to have if they could point to a victory. And they really can't beat us, but we can give the game to them.
ROBERTS: Peter, just close us off here.
Ayman al-Zawahiri put out another video yesterday, suggesting that Muslims should go out there and wage holy war against Pakistan. We know that Musharraf is under some pressure. Is this -- I mean, could -- how much more trouble could this create for him?
BERGEN: Well, I mean, one of the most reliable guides to what the jihadist terrorists will do is what Osama bin Laden or Ayman al- Zawahiri tells them to do.
And, so, when he calls for attacks in Pakistan, there will undoubtedly be these attacks. In fact, we have already seen some suicide operations as a direct result of this operation that happened in Islamabad against the Red Mosque, this militant mosque in Islamabad. So, I take those statements at face value. And I think there will be reactions to them.
ROBERTS: Peter Bergen, our CNN terrorism analyst, and Jeff Beatty, with TotalSecurity.US, thanks for being with us. Appreciate seeing both of you gentlemen.
ROBERTS: And that's not the only problem headlined tonight.
An interim report to Congress now expected from the White House as early as tomorrow paints a very mixed picture of progress in Iraq since the so-called troop surge began. One senior official tells CNN to expect satisfactory grades for the Iraqi government on the military side, but failing marks on political reform.
Here at home, prosecutors say the bizarre case of the so-called Erie, Pennsylvania, pizza bomber is solved. Today, they laid out a detailed, twisted plot that seems to be straight out of Hollywood.
But the family of the dead deliveryman isn't buying a word of it.
CNN's Rick Sanchez has the report and the image that you will instantly remember.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) RICK SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Cross-legged, handcuffed, he yells, I don't have a lot of time. The reason? He's moments away from death.
The pizza deliveryman with a bomb locked around his neck pleads for help.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRIAN WELLS, KILLED IN BOMB EXPLOSION: Why is there nobody trying to come get this thing off of me?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SANCHEZ: Why is no one coming to get this thing off of me?
Brian Wells tells a story of how he was forced to rob the PNC Bank in Erie, Pennsylvania, by someone who turned him into a human grenade.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
B. WELLS: He pulled a key out and started a timer. I heard the thing ticking when he did it. It's going to go off.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SANCHEZ: Minutes later, it did. Wells died instantly.
The big question, was Wells a victim or participant?
Today, a stunning announcement. Prosecutors say he was both.
MARY BETH BUCHANAN, U.S. ATTORNEY: Our investigation has led to the belief that Brian became involved in a limited role with a group of individuals s who planned to rob the PNC Bank.
SANCHEZ: Marjorie Diehl-Armstrong and Kenneth Barnes, both indicted on charges that could keep them in prison for life.
MARK POTTER, ATF: Death was just another byproduct of an evil scheme.
SANCHEZ (on camera): But was Wells in on that evil scheme that ended up killing him? Prosecutors say he was, at least during the early planning stages of the bank robbery.
A source with knowledge of the investigation tells CNN that Wells helped plot the heist, believing that he was going to be wearing a fake bomb. They say he was even told what to say if he was caught.
BUCHANAN: That three black men had held him down and -- and put this bomb around his neck.
SANCHEZ (voice-over): But, at the 11th hour, they say, Wells had second thoughts.
BUCHANAN: We have reason to believe that, at some point, right before the bomb was fastened to his neck, that -- that he was coerced.
SANCHEZ: Just before the robbery, a very real bomb was slapped around his neck.
Wells' family says, none of that is true; Wells was an innocent victim.
JOHN WELLS, BRIAN WELLS' BROTHER: They grabbed him at gunpoint. If you're a co-conspirator, you don't shoot at your co-conspirators.
J. WELLS: And if you're a co-conspirator, you don't put a bomb on yourself.
SANCHEZ: With his emotions raw, John Wells lashes out at investigators.
J. WELLS: When you have a bomb locked to your neck and the federal authorities chop your head off to get the bomb off, there was no way Brian put that on himself. Nineteen hours after the bomb had gone off, the federal authorities chopped his head off to get that collar off.
SANCHEZ: Still, many questions remain. And Brian Wells is the only person who could have answered them.
Rick Sanchez, CNN, Atlanta.
ROBERTS: Jen Mobilia reports for Erie affiliate WSEE. And she joins us now.
Jen, how -- just how surprising is it that Brian Wells has been named as -- as an accomplice in this whole case?
JEN MOBILIA, WSEE REPORTER: Well, I think a lot of us were surprised.
I mean, for the past four years, we have been portraying him as a victim, because we thought that he was a victim. Who would knowingly strap a bomb that's about to explode around their neck? So, yes, definitely very surprising news today.
ROBERTS: How much or what evidence is there that he was involved?
MOBILIA: Well, prosecutors are not releasing that information yet. They say that that will all come out during the trial. So, right now, we really don't have any hard evidence to go on.
ROBERTS: Right. I mean, if Wells was part of this -- this is something that a lot of people can't connect the dots on -- if Wells was a part of this, why would he put a live bomb around his neck, knowing that it could and eventually did kill him?
MOBILIA: I think the only person that could really answer that question is Brian Wells. I mean, we really do not know that.
ROBERTS: You know, his -- his brother John was really adamant today that he had nothing to do with this.
Let's take quick look at another piece of sound, another statement that he made today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
J. WELLS: Those four officers that day, in my opinion, they're all cowards and should be fired. But the Pennsylvania Police Department gave them honors for their outstanding bravery for that day. And not one of them had the intelligence to call the bomb squad.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERTS: So, Jen, what was the reaction among the public to how the police dealt with this?
MOBILIA: I think the public thought that, you know, they were treating someone who was a criminal all through this. So, I mean, the public seemed to be pleased up until now. And I think that, just like all of us in the media, they're just as shocked to hear that Brian may have been a part of this scheme.
Now, something else that's very interesting, I actually stood with one of Brian's brothers, one of his sisters, and his mother during that news conference. I was the only reporter that stood with the family. And, all through the news conference, every time Mary Beth Buchanan would say something, his sister would say: Liar. He's a victim. He's not a criminal. He's a victim. And she kept saying, "Liar." They truly still believe that he is innocent. And they kept saying, he doesn't know any of these people that have been involved with this case or any of the people of interest. So, they are very shocked, and they say they are going to fight for his innocence to the very end.
His sister told me today that she's going to write a book on this, and the book is going to give a lot of details that might not come out in the hearing.
ROBERTS: Truly a bizarre case that took another startling twist today.
Jen Mobilia from WSEE, thanks very much.
Straight ahead tonight, a police shootout, heartbeat by heartbeat.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERTS (voice-over): The seconds of terror, the lives changed forever, one cop a hero, his partner near death. Shootout in Brooklyn, as a camera watches it all unfold.
Also, a congressman from California's spending on a park in Washington.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It is kind of hard to believe.
ROBERTS: Was he just looking out for his adopted hometown or the value of his home nearby? We're "Keeping them Honest," next on 360.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERTS (on camera): With the housing boom cooling, it is understandable for homeowners to do everything they can to keep their property values up. Some are renovating. Others are landscaping. The question tonight, though, is a U.S. congressman doing a little landscaping at your expense?
CNN's Drew Griffin is "Keeping them Honest."
DREW GRIFFIN, CNN INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): As parks go, there's not much to it. So, why is it getting $500,000 of your federal tax money?
Let's face it. Five hundred thousand is a tiny blip on the bloated congressional earmark budget, except for one tiny detail some congressional watchdog groups found troubling. And maybe you will, too. The tiny earmark for this tiny Metro Station park on Capitol Hill is being requested by a Republican whose district is 2,600 miles away. Why does California Congressman Jerry Lewis want $500,000 to upgrade a park in Washington, D.C.?
RYAN ALEXANDER, TAXPAYERS FOR COMMON SENSE: It is kind of hard to believe.
GRIFFIN: "Keeping them Honest," we decided to find out why. The neighborhood, once run down, is now thriving. And, according to Lobbyist Tip Tipton, who lives, works, and is helping redevelop the Barracks Row area, Congress is finally paying attention to its own backyard.
TIP TIPTON, CAPITOL HILL LOBBYIST: Yes, and there are a lot of Congressmen who do various things for the district. You know that the district -- they are responsible for the District of Columbia.
GRIFFIN (on camera): So, it could be that the California Congressman is just interested in this neighborhood. Or it could be because he actually owns this $943,000 house, just three long blocks from where that Metro Station is. (voice-over): Of course we wanted to ask the Congressman himself if the congressional investment in the park might just increase the value of the house he lives in. We went to his office, called on the phone, and were told Jerry Lewis wasn't granting any interviews on the subject.
(on camera): I wonder if he's home.
Hey, Congressman Lewis, Drew Griffin with CNN. How are you?
(voice-over): To my surprise, the Congressman and his dog answered. And he was none too happy about it.
Representative Lewis scolded me, saying it was ridiculous, stupid for me even to consider that his request last week had anything to do with his house.
I asked again for an on-camera interview to explain his actions. He again said no, told me to listen to his House floor speech, and then shut the door, opened it again, and shut it again.
Last week, while defending his far-from-the-home-district-but- close-to-his-town-home earmark, Representative Lewis told his colleagues this.
REP. JERRY LEWIS (R), CALIFORNIA: And, over a number of years, with help on both sides of the aisle, the Congress has reestablished Barracks Row as a phenomenal spot on Capitol Hill. I mean, today, its commercial value has skyrocketed. It's having a phenomenal impact in the community.
GRIFFIN: He never mentioned he lives there. And neither did the Democrat shepherding the bill, who actually praised Lewis for his selfless request.
REP. JOSE SERRANO (D), NEW YORK: Here, he takes time, and, if I may say, dollars he probably could have asked for his own district, to make sure that something in the nation's capital happens, and happens properly.
GRIFFIN: Jose Serrano, Democrat of New York, too refused to respond to our interview requests.
Ryan Alexander, head of the government watchdog group Taxpayers For Common Sense, says, now that members of Congress have to own up to their earmarks, they are facing unprecedented scrutiny.
ALEXANDER: What people on the Hill may think of us business as usual and not something people will be upset about is something that the -- you know, the public wants to be able to see. And it might upset them.
GRIFFIN: And here's another thing that might upset them. Lewis and all other House members now have to sign a document stating they have no direct financial interest in the earmarks they're requesting. Here's the one he signed, with no mention of the house he lives in just blocks away.
Drew Griffin, CNN, Washington.
ROBERTS: "Keeping them Honest" tonight.
And, tomorrow on "AMERICAN MORNING," we go in-depth on the case of a Chicago reporter who was fired after a rival news station aired video of her in a bathing suit at the home of a man whose wife's disappearance she was covering. Journalistic ethics under fire -- how far is too far when chasing a story?
Also tomorrow, Kiran Chetry meets a man who flew his lawn chair -- that's right, his lawn chair -- nearly 200 miles across Oregon -- the only thing holding him up, about 100 helium balloons attached to the chair. Find out what drove him to such -- to complete such a wacky stunt, and not just for the first time either.
Wake up to the most news in the morning, beginning at 6:00 a.m., Eastern, right here on CNN.
Up next, "Raw Politics" and the growing pressure from Republicans on President Bush to end the war in Iraq.
Also, how a fierce gun battle on the streets of New York came to pass. Two officers, three suspects, and 10 seconds that changed all of their lives.
ROBERTS: Certainly a positive outlook. Yong (ph) from Atlanta votes for U2's "Beautiful Day" as our 360 political theme song.
Have your own suggestion? Send it to us at CNN.com/360.
On Capitol Hill, it's not the music that matters, it's the muscle. And right now Democrats are flexing it. But they're still having a lot of trouble.
CNN's Tom Foreman has got that and more in tonight's "Raw Politics."
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Another Republican Senator has joined with Democrats to demand a change in Iraq, Olympia Snowe of Maine. So, why can't Democrats force a war-ending bill onto the president's desk?
(on camera): The raw reality, they can get it approved in the House. In the Senate, however, the Republicans have 49 seats, the Democrats, 51, and that is just not enough, even if the Democrats are all united behind a pullout deadline. Under Senate rules, they need 60 votes to defeat a Republican filibuster, which would kill any bill. And while plenty of Republican Senators are saying the plan for Iraq must change, only three so far say they will vote for a Democratic plan.
(voice-over): Private plans -- Newt Gingrich appeared in a concert with a fellow he could face in the Republican primary, Fred -- I'm Not a Candidate Yet -- Thompson. Then, he was off to promote Alzheimer's research with Democrat Hillary Clinton. Still, the Newtster says, he will decide if he's running in the fall, no sooner.
NEWT GINGRICH, FORMER SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: We don't need a year-and-a-half-long campaign. It is insane to think that we need a year-and-a-half with this kind of politics.
FOREMAN: Some Democratic contenders are going to the first-ever candidates forum on gay issues next month. Bill Richardson, though, is taking heat from gay Latinos for using a Spanish word for homosexuals on radio a year ago, a word many find insulting.
He says, hey, I thought it just meant gays.
And the beer that made Milwaukee flame us. Suds makers are turning up the heat on Wisconsin lawmakers with a kind of Tea Party protest, spraying beer into the river. They're unhappy about proposed changes to rules that govern brew pubs.
(on camera): Although, admittedly, it's hard to be taken seriously when your protest looks like a frat party -- John.
ROBERTS: Thank you, Tom. And you will get plenty of "Raw Politics" later on this month, when Anderson hosts the CNN/YouTube debates. The Democrats square off on July the 23rd from Charleston, South Carolina; the Republicans, on September the 17th in California.
You can learn more about the debates and how to submit your questions at YouTube.com/debates.
One more political note tonight, former First Lady Lady Bird Johnson has lied died. When Lyndon Johnson was just starting his political career, Lady Bird helped bankroll her husband's campaign. During his presidency, she was a champion of education, parks and highway beautification.
As for that name, a childhood nurse gave it to her. She said that little Claudia Alta, her name, was pretty as a lady bird. And the name stuck.
Lady Bird Johnson was 94.
More of 360 straight ahead, including a shootout caught on camera and rocking New York City.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ROBERTS (voice-over): The seconds of terror, the lives changed forever, one cop a hero, his partner near death, shootout in Brooklyn, as a camera watches it all unfold.
Plus, he says/she says/TB says.
ANDREW SPEAKER, TUBERCULOSIS PATIENT: Don't expect me to trust that they're looking out for my best interests.
DR. JULIE GERBERDING, DIRECTOR, CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL AND PREVENTION: We made a mistake in providing that benefit of the doubt.
ROBERTS: Traveling with a deadly strain of tuberculosis, irresponsible? Or did the government get it wrong? Both sides speaking out. Are both sides spinning?
You decide, ahead on 360.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERTS (on camera): Two police officers were shot after pulling over a stolen SUV. Tonight, one of those officers is near death; the other, on life support.
The cold-blooded crime was actually caught on tape. It shows, in black and white, how every traffic stop is filled with grays for cops who can never be sure who they've stopped and whether they're armed.
As you're about to see, things can turn in an instant.
Here's CNN's Jason Carroll.
JASON CARROLL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's quarter after two in the morning. A surveillance camera trained on a Brooklyn street corner. Two police officers, Herman Yan and Russell Timoshenko, approach an SUV they thought was stolen.
COMMISSIONER RAY KELLY, NYPD: This is the great unknown. You just don't know what's in the car. You don't know what the situation is.
CARROLL: Police commissioner Ray Kelly walks us through what happened next. After these men, seen here in a fast food restaurant, allegedly drove the stolen SUV to that lonely Brooklyn corner.
KELLY: The red rights are flashing. Both officers get out of the car, just as we train them to do. They get out there, actually walking parallel. They have their hands on their weapons.
CARROLL: What happened occurred so fast Kelly says Officer Timoshenko had no time to react. KELLY: Someone reaches out from the passenger side of the car and shoots him twice in the face. He goes down immediately. He's shot within five seconds of when he leaves the car.
CARROLL: In just seconds, Officer Yan's defensive training kicked in.
KELLY: Nine seconds of leaving the car, Officer Yan is returning fire.
CARROLL (on camera): Is that what we're seeing happening here?
KELLY: That's what we see here. The officer is -- has a two- handed hold on his weapon, which is what we teach, and he is returning fire.
CARROLL (voice-over): Yan fired 14 times. The gunman shot him in his left arm and chest as they sped away. Yan's bulletproof vest saved his life.
Moments later, detectives respond to his call for help. Timoshenko is rushed to a hospital. It all goes down in just 47 seconds.
KELLY: I think people can -- can relate to this. The officers had no chance to defend themselves. They just -- you know, cold- blooded attack. I think that's really gotten into the -- into the hearts of New Yorkers.
CARROLL: It's easy to understand why. Both Timoshenko and Yan are the sons of immigrants -- one Russian, the other Chinese. In a city built by immigrants, support for the officers is strong.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You have left a New York City police officer struggling every minute for his life. You have maimed another police officer. You have left families in tatters.
CARROLL: Tonight, two suspects are in custody. Lee Woods was arraigned today on charges including attempted murder. Dexter Bostic was captured this evening in eastern Pennsylvania. A third suspect, Robert Ellis, is still on the run.
Officer Yan is being hailed as a hero. And Officer Timoshenko remains in the hospital, clinging to life.
Jason Carroll, CNN, New York.
ROBERTS: While that manhunt was underway yesterday, New York's Mayor Michael Bloomberg joined other mayors in Washington, where they urged Congress to repeal a law that they say makes it harder to trace illegal firearms.
Here's what Mayor Bloomberg had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAYOR MICHAEL BLOOMBERG, NEW YORK CITY: The Tiahrt Amendment is the most anti-cop, soft on crime law Congress has passed in years. It prevents the police officers from tracking the illegal gun trade and locking up those who engage in it.
Can you imagine if Congress put the came constraints on police who investigate illegal drug sales? No one would stand for it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERTS: That amendment, the Tiahrt Amendment, that Bloomberg wants repealed, bans federal officials from releasing information about gun ownership to the public.
Its supporters say the ban protects undercover cops and, if repealed, could jeopardize criminal investigations. A vote is scheduled for this week.
CNN's Senior Legal Analyst Jeffrey Toobin joins me now.
Which argument is right? Does it restrict it, or does it just keep it in the realm of federal law enforcement?
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: It depends on your perspective. I mean, Bloomberg and the other mayors say, look, this data exists. The government has data on gun -- gun buyers. Let's use it. Let's trace where illegal guns come from. The Tiahrt -- Congressman Tiahrt from Kansas and the many supporters of the amendment say, look, these are legal gun buyers. They deserve privacy. We don't want this data used by plaintiffs' lawyers to go suing gun manufacturers. So let's keep it secret.
ROBERTS: And does it really restrict city law enforcement agencies from finding out this information?
TOOBIN: It restricts them from finding out most of the information. They can find out, if they give good reason, data in their own district. New York could find out what's going on with gun purchases in New York.
But that's not what they really care about. What Mayor Bloomberg and Commissioner Kelly care about is finding out where the illegal guns come from in Georgia, in Virginia, in Florida, where a lot of the guns used in crimes in New York are.
ROBERTS: Now, this bill was partially written by the National Rifle Association, which had this to say about this idea of repealing it. Said, quote, "Congress always intended to keep this information confidential and to allow its use only for legitimate law enforcement purposes."
Is that an accurate argument?
TOOBIN: Well, you know, I mean, the NRA has tremendous support in Congress. And one of the things that's always so amazing about this debate, it's like there are two countries here.
You have people in cities who view guns as something that only cops and criminals have. Here in New York, it's like, why would anyone want a gun?
In the rest of the country, guns are part of growing up. Guns are used and owned by people legally all the time.
So the perspectives are completely different. And the two, you know, red and blue, just don't speak to each other on this issue.
ROBERTS: Jeff, how relevant is this argument to the shooting in New York? They've got one person in custody. They have three weapons. Would -- would a search of the database tracing these guns help them in this investigation at all?
TOOBIN: It certainly wouldn't have stopped the crime in the first place, but the question that the New York cops are always asking is we need to stop the guns from getting here in the first place. They want to stop the guns at the source, mostly you know, in the states where it's a lot easier to buy guns.
So they say, why not give us all the tools?
The -- Tiahrt and his allies say, you know, that is too attenuated. There are too many people's privacy is going to be violated in the bargain.
ROBERTS: With so many guns in this country, is it possible to stop the flow of illegal weapons into a place like New York City?
TOOBIN: You know, you probably could, some. You could cut it back some. I mean, if you really stopped the handful of gun dealers who really give a lot -- sell a lot of the guns that wind up here, you could cut back on it. You could certainly cut back on it.
I mean, New York has cut crime tremendously. I mean, there were fewer murders in New York City than there were in any state since -- any year since 1963. So you know, yes, you can make some progress.
ROBERTS: Interesting battle on Capitol Hill. A group wants it repealed; another group is trying to tighten it up even more.
TOOBIN: The NRA always wins.
ROBERTS: Jeffrey Toobin, thanks very much.
Coming up next, he caused an international health scare. But was Andrew Speaker careless or did the CDC make a big mistake? We'll hear from both sides, next.
ROBERTS: By now, the name Andrew Speaker is familiar. That's video of him testifying at a Senate hearing last month from his Denver hospital room by speakerphone. The Atlanta attorney set off a global health scare by traveling overseas on commercial aircraft, knowing that he had a deadly form of tuberculosis. He says that he was never told not to travel to Europe for his wedding.
Officials at the Centers for Disease Control say otherwise. They placed Speaker under federal quarantine when he returned home. The story has become a complicated case of who said what and when.
Now, another twist. New testing by the CDC and the hospital where Speaker is being treated shows that he is actually infected with multiple drug resistant tuberculosis, not extensively drug resistant. Despite how it sounds, it's a more treatable form of the disease.
Speaker now says that the CDC owes him an apology. We're going to hear from him in just a moment.
But first, Anderson's interview with Dr. Julie Gerberding, the head of the CDC.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Dr. Gerberding, how do you explain the fact that your testing first showed that Andrew Speaker had extremely drug-resistant tuberculosis, but subsequent tests now show has a more treatable form of the disease?
DR. JULIE GERBERDING, DIRECTOR, CDC: You know, we've done a number of tests in a variety of labs. All of the labs agree that he has drug resistant tuberculosis.
But the test on one of the specimens, in fact, the only specimen that was obtained from a broncoscopy, also shows that there is resistance to an additional three drugs.
Now, one explanation for this is that there's a population of bacteria mixed in the sample that are especially resistant, but they are minor species, and so the other samples aren't really revealing them.
COOPER: We talked to numerous experts, all of whom said that it would be extremely rare to have multiple types of TB in one sample. They said, in fact, it would be the first time that's ever happened in a person who didn't have AIDS.
GERBERDING: Well, actually, that's probably not exactly true, that there are many examples of infectious diseases where there is a mixed expression of resistance.
The problem here is confounded by the fact that we're using such old-fashioned tests for drug susceptibility testing in TB. And I think we would all look forward to the day where we have the kind of modern tests that we do for regular bacteria. It would take a lot of this uncertainty out of the equation.
COOPER: So it's possible you made a mistake? GERBERDING: There's always a possibility of a mistake in any of the laboratories.
The important thing is it doesn't matter in terms of the public health action. MDR-TB is very serious. The WHO is very clear that people with that bacteria must not fly until their cultures are negative. All of his cultures have been positive.
COOPER: Andrew Speaker is basically blasting the CDC, saying you guys overreacted and saying that he deserves an apology and that other people deserve an apology. Do you think you have anything to apologize for?
GERBERDING: No, I -- I can't comment on how the patient is characterizing the CDC or any other aspect of his care. What I do know is that the people that I've interacted with, the physicians who provided care for him at the county and the local hospital, the scientists at CDC, the person who contacted him about the need for the federal isolation, these are some of the most dedicated and professional people I've ever worked with. I know everyone had the best interest of the patient at heart.
But at CDC, job one is protecting people's health. And we had to take the steps we did because what we knew at the time we were making decisions indicated to us that people were at risk and we had to take responsible action to protect them
COOPER: What seems little in doubt is after you guys got this diagnosis for XDR, for the extremely drug resistant form, a diagnosis which turns out not to be the case or, at least, it seems not to be the case at this point.
You did tell him, turn yourself in to Italian health authorities. Don't get on a plane, you know. You will be a threat to others. But he chose to do that.
Do you feel he was being -- I mean, can you characterize his actions? How -- was he -- was he being sneaky? Was he trying to sneak into the United States by going to Canada?
GERBERDING: I can't speculate about what motives prompted his travel at that particular point in time. But I'm confident that he was advised not to travel and that he was given information about the importance of having a medical evaluation.
Keep in mind that some time had gone by from his original diagnosis to the time that we were able to reconnect with him in Italy. And things change in tuberculosis, especially when it's not being treated. So we really did need him to seek medical attention at that point in time.
COOPER: What would the CDC do differently next time a situation like this comes up?
GERBERDING: You know, we're still doing a lot of review and looking at, in particular, how we could have learned about the patient faster.
But I -- I have to say that many of us here, like myself, are physicians, and we -- we treat patients with a great deal of respect. And we give them the benefit of the doubt. And I think in this case we made a mistake in providing that benefit of the doubt.
COOPER: Dr. Gerberding, we appreciate your time. It's a difficult case. Thank you.
GERBERDING: Thank you.
ROBERTS: Andrew Speaker has spent the last six weeks at that hospital in Denver in isolation. Tonight, his odds of being cured are much better than anyone thought a week ago.
He's happy about that, but he also thinks that the CDC made mistakes, and he is not OK with that. That's where Anderson's interview begins.
COOPER: Andrew, we asked Dr. Gerberding a short time ago if she felt any mistakes were made, if she felt she should apologize to you. Clearly, she doesn't think the CDC has anything to apologize about.
In your mind, what was their mistake?
ANDREW SPEAKER, TUBERCULOSIS PATIENT: When I sat down on May 10, after everyone had had a chance to confer about the fact I had MDR-TB and that I was leaving on a trip to go get married, they still sat me down and instead -- and they didn't tell me that I needed to be quarantined. Instead, they sat me down and they reassured my family and my loved ones that I was not contagious. There was no need for me to be sequestered, and I was not a threat to anyone.
So their biggest mistake isn't the fact that they misdiagnosed my condition and that there was lab error. It's quite simply that there are half a million cases of MDR in the world, new cases every year. And they apparently don't have any sort of a plan for what to do when someone shows up with MDR.
COOPER: The CDC says that they finally -- when they got in touch with you in Rome and their test result had come back as XDR, this extreme or much more dangerous form of tuberculosis, and they told you that you basically needed to show up at a hospital in Italy or get a private jet going back to the United States -- a great cost -- that you basically skipped town. I mean, the criticism is that you knowingly endangered other people by getting on that plane.
SPEAKER: We didn't think that anything they were telling us conveyed that we were a threat to anyone. It was simply that my prognosis and my road to treatment had gotten more difficult. We -- we obeyed everything they said up to that point.
COOPER: Do you feel any regret for getting on that flight from Europe to Canada?
SPEAKER: I think the big mistake is they apparently had no idea what to do when someone had MDR-TB. They knew I had it before I left. They knew, you know, late April that I was going on this trip. And yet no one ever told me that I was a danger to my family or that I need to be in isolation or that I was a threat to anyone.
COOPER: Three of the passengers from the flight from Prague to Montreal are now suing you. How concerned are you about that and the idea there may be other lawsuits out there?
SPEAKER: Anderson, I'm -- I'm sure there are going to be other lawsuits out there. Right now, I'm worried about what -- you know, am I going to get home? Am I going to be alive a year from now?
Just getting on a good drug test -- you know, a good drug regimen, that's -- you know, seeing my daughter. Those are -- if anything, you learn to appreciate life a little more when something like this happens. Being able to sit outside without a mask on and talk to your wife.
So I've got a lot of basic wake up and just enjoy my life type activities to do before I focus on lawsuit.
COOPER: It's -- it's a big step just to get outside, I'm sure, for you, Andrew.
Andrew, we appreciate your time. Andrew and Sarah, thank you very much.
SPEAKER: Thank you very much, Anderson.
ROBERTS: And coming up on AC 360, the sinning Senator, the hooker, and the "Hustler" magazine connection.
Also tonight, these stories.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERTS (voice-over): From pizza delivery man to bank robber to bombing casualty. Was he a murder victim? A failed accomplice? Or something else? A mystery for years, now some answers.
The seconds of terror. The lives changed forever. One cop a hero, his partner near death. Shootout in Brooklyn as a camera watches it all unfold, next hour on 360.
ROBERTS: The "Shot of the Day" is coming right up. It looks like the days of cute Knut are over. Done. No more. This bear is facing a different future.
First up, Tom Foreman joins us again, this time with a "360 Bulletin."
TOM FOREMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hey, John. How are you doing tonight?
The military officer overseeing the case against a Marine charged with murder is recommending the charges now be dropped. Lance Corporal Justin Sharratt is one of eight Marines accused of killing civilians in Haditha, Iraq, in November 2005.
In his report, the officer said Sharratt's actions followed the rules of engagement and use of force. It's now up to a commander to decide if Sharratt will face a court-martial.
President Bush has ordered his former White House Counsel Harriet Miers to defy a congressional subpoena and not appear before a House committee tomorrow investigating the firings of eight federal prosecutors.
The White House says she's immune from testifying, citing executive privilege.
But former White House Political Director Sarah Taylor ended up testifying on Capitol Hill today. She revealed little, though she did say she believed no one at the White House committed any wrongdoing.
"Hustler" magazine is claiming credit for exposing Senator David Vitter's connection to the alleged D.C. Madam. Earlier this week, Vitter admitted his phone number appeared in an escort service's phone records.
"Hustler" says a journalist passed the information on to the magazine, which called Vitter's office for a response, leading to that confession.
And a new twist in the pants suit. You know the man who sued, asking for $54 million because a drycleaner lost his pants? Well, the judge threw the case out. Now the plaintiff is appealing the decision, saying the court doesn't understand what satisfaction guarantied means.
ROBERTS: I guess losing once wasn't enough for him.
FOREMAN: This guy just won't let it go. Heaven knows where this is going to wind up.
ROBERTS: Back in the courts perhaps.
Hey, Tom, check out the "Shot of the Day" here. Remember Knut the polar bear?
FOREMAN: Of course I remember Knut.
ROBERTS: Drawing a big crowd at the Berlin Zoon? Well, it turns out that Knut is no longer as "knut" as he once was. He's growing so fast that apparently, it's too dangerous to have these daily shows with his keepers at the zoo. The zoo also thinks that it's time that Knut started playing with the other bears.
FOREMAN: Did you say Knut? He's no longer so Knut?
ROBERTS: Knut is no longer as "knut" as he used to be.
FOREMAN: You know that a polar bear is the only bear on earth that primarily eats meat.
ROBERTS: And what color is its fur?
FOREMAN: It's clear. It's clear.
ROBERTS: You've been reading up.
FOREMAN: It reflects white light.
ROBERTS: Tom Foreman, "National Geographic" magazine reader.
FOREMAN: Send your questions, I'll answer them.
ROBERTS: All right.
And we want you to send us your "Shot" ideas. If you see some amazing video, tell us about it at CNN.com/360. We'll put your best clips on the program.
Up next, your feedback. A check of the 360 blog. It's what's "On the Rader," when 360 continues.
ROBERTS: Now, a look at what's "On the Radar" on the 360 blog. Some feedback on Drew Griffin's "Keeping them Honest" report tonight on California Congressman Jerry Lewis. Lewis is asking for $500,000 for a park not in his home district, but in Washington, D.C., just blocks from his home there.
Lorie Ann in Buellton, California, writes: Good job as usual. But I must admit I sometimes wonder when and if honesty will ever come back. You can't keep people honest who have not incentive to do the right thing. Exposure and shame are tools, but it seems sad that we've all come to that. So I'm afraid that piggy projects will keep coming to a neighborhood near all of us.
Sean in Kenmore, New York, says: If it smells like a horse and looks like a horse and you hear hoofbeats, don't try to tell me it's a zebra. My backyard is my own little park -- can Representative Lewis earmark a little piece of the pie for me?
And Judy in Brooklyn, New York, says: Way to go Drew! I love the "Keeping them Honest" segments on 360 and it is my hope that the 360 crew will keep shining the light on our elected officials who lack integrity.
Judy, don't worry. The 360 staff will be keeping everyone honest. Go to CNN.com/360 to weigh in on any story that you see here on 360. We welcome your thoughts.
And that's it for this edition of 360. For Anderson Cooper, I'm John Roberts. I'll be up early with Kiran Chetry for "AMERICAN MORNING," as always, 6:00 to 9:00 Eastern.
For our international viewers, "CNN TODAY" is next. Here in the states, "LARRY KING" is coming right up.
TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.voxant.com