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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES

Former President Jimmy Carter: Racism Linked to Obama Criticism; Democratic Lawmakers Reprimand Republican Congressman Over Anti-Obama Outburst

Aired September 15, 2009 - 22:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Tonight, breaking news from New Haven, Connecticut, where, any minute now, we're expecting an announcement from police investigating the murder of Yale University grad student Annie Le, whose body was found stuffed into the wall of a building on the Yale campus.

Have police solved the crime? We may find out in a few moments.

We begin, however, tonight with other breaking news -- comments by a former president of the United States, comments sure to ignite a firestorm controversy -- former President Jimmy Carter talking about the kind of rhetoric being used against President Obama. Carter said that racism is behind much of the animosity against President Obama.

He made the comment during an interview NBC News' Brian Williams.

Watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "NBC NIGHTLY NEWS")

JIMMY CARTER, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: An overwhelming portion of the intensely demonstrated animosity toward President Obama is based on the fact that he is a black man, that he's African-American.

I live in the South, and I have seen the South come a long way. And I have seen the rest of the country that shared the South's attitude toward minority groups at that time, particularly African- Americans. That racism in connection still exists.

And I think it's bubbled up to the surface because of a belief among many white people, not just in the South, but around the country, that African-Americans are not qualified to lead this great country. It's an abominable circumstance and grieves me and concerns me very deeply.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: President Jimmy Carter saying that racism not only exists in America, but it's bubbled up because many white people believe an African-American president cannot lead the country.

With us now, Mark Williams, a chief organizer of the Tea Party Express. Also joining us tonight, CNN analyst Roland Martin. Mark, is racism a factor in these protests and the kind of anger that we have seen directed at the president, which is what President Jimmy Carter is saying?

MARK WILLIAMS, ORGANIZER, TEA PARTY EXPRESS: A tiny fringe.

And, you know, by now we're used to Jimmy Carter spouting stupid stuff that puts this country in a bad light.

What I would like to know from Jimmy Carter is, how do you explain the fact that President Obama is president and that his approval numbers are dropping through the floor? Did America wake up one day and decide that it's a racist country?

It's absurd. There's a fringe that says that. But, if you -- if you look out over the sea of signs at these tea parties, you will see a handful, a tiny handful, of anything that even -- even strikes of racism or even the color of the man's skin.

And -- and, of course, that's -- you know, you're going to get that. And I don't know how you -- short of repealing the First Amendment, how do shut -- how do you shut up a bigot?

COOPER: Roland Martin, what about that? Should Jimmy Carter have said this? Is he accurate? Is he right?

ROLAND MARTIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I believe that the president, the former president, is indeed accurate, because he is speaking to what is a strong perception out there, not just from African- Americans, but also from whites as well.

When you talk about a fringe -- Mark speaks of a fringe element. And when you have conservative radio talk show host Tammy Bruce, who calls the first lady trash, when you have Glenn Beck, who says he has a hatred of white people, when you have Sherri Goforth, who worked for the Tennessee GOP state senator, who sends an e-mail out depicting the president like a spook, does not apologize initially because of the racism e-mail, but she says, I sent you the wrong e-mail list, what you have here, you do have individuals who have a problem with this.

You have four -- according to reports, 400 percent increase on threats on the life of the president. What's the difference between him and the previous 43? It is certainly his skin color. I think we cannot deny the reality...

(CROSSTALK)

WILLIAMS: Well, there is another difference, Roland.

(CROSSTALK)

WILLIAMS: There's another big difference.

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: Let him finish. Then Mark can go. MARTIN: ... that race -- there are subtle elements of race. Everything is not so overt, so out there in terms of colored drinking signs and signs for white only, but you do have subtle instances of race that we cannot deny that exist every day in American society.

COOPER: Mark?

WILLIAMS: Well, given that I have been a radio talk show host for 30 years almost, to cite the hyperbole that we sometimes engage in to make our point, take it over the top, is kind of lowering yourself there, Roland, because...

(CROSSTALK)

MARTIN: Well, actually, I hosted a radio show...

(CROSSTALK)

WILLIAMS: ... you know, don't forget, we have an entertainment aspect to what we do.

(CROSSTALK)

MARTIN: ... Mark, and this is an example.

WILLIAMS: But -- but to say that any of that, with the exception, perhaps, of the spook comment, is race-based is to ignore the other major differences in this administration.

And that is this administration is doing everything it can to dig into the pockets of the working Americans, steal from them, and steal from future generations, while borrowing from the Chinese today, to undermine this country.

(CROSSTALK)

WILLIAMS: Why is he out there bowing to Saudi kings, apologizing for this country wherever he goes?

(CROSSTALK)

MARTIN: Here's the reality, Mark.

WILLIAMS: Obama, do not apologize for me.

MARTIN: Mark, Mark, Mark, Mark, here's the reality.

The fact of the matter is, if you look at the facts, the deficit increased in President Bush and President Clinton. That's a fact. But the point here is, we have to -- we cannot deny the reality. When you look at the -- the viciousness of parents, mostly white, objecting to the president speaking to...

(CROSSTALK)

WILLIAMS: You try to take children's futures away from them, and their parents are going to object, Roland. It's that simple.

(CROSSTALK)

MARTIN: Mark, Mark, Mark. Excuse me, Mark. Mark, Mark, Mark, Mark, one second.

(CROSSTALK)

MARTIN: When we have people who are objecting to the president...

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: Guys, guys, there is no point in talking over -- guys, really, there is no point in talking over each other. Viewers just turn it off.

So, Roland, finish your thought. Then Mark can talk.

MARTIN: When you have the viciousness of people objecting to the president speaking to schoolchildren, and then I look in Arlington, Texas, where they say, we're not going to show the kids, but we're going to bus to go see the former president talk about education as well, you cannot...

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: But, Roland, there are people who will say, well, look, in past years, and under President Bush, we saw people demonstrating, showing signs saying President Bush was a Nazi, saying he was a fascist. Why is this any different?

(CROSSTALK)

MARTIN: Because you also look at the level of criticism.

When you hear people say statements like, you know, I want to take my country back from this man, it's also how you're looking at it. When I look at Jimmy Carter, 85 years on this earth, he has seen things through his eyes as a white man from the South that, frankly, I cannot necessarily see.

He has a different point of view. The same thing, I may see something as a man and say, I don't see what the big deal is with that, but a woman may say, I have a different experience because I'm a woman.

COOPER: So, when you hear somebody -- Roland, when you hear somebody say, he is changing our country, I want to take my country back, you hear...

MARTIN: When I hear someone say, he's not one of us, when I hear them say, I want my country back from him, I'm saying, wait a minute. What do you mean from him? He's the president, elected by 50-plus-one percent of the country. We cannot deny those sole elements. Again, I think there is an effort to make him a delegitimate president. We cannot deny the subtle pieces there. And I think about John Murtha, when he was a congressman during the campaign when he spoke about the people from his district, the issue of race. People said, how dare he say that? He represented the district for 35 years.

WILLIAMS: Roland, I would like to ask you then what was -- what is racist about the boos and the catcalls I got every time I mentioned Nancy Pelosi or Harry Reid across country?

What was racist about my having a role in the unseating of conservative Republican white man John Doolittle, who was number two at the trough after Jack Murtha? What is racist about the vitriol directed at Barney Frank, the vitriol directed at Jack Murtha and the administration in general...

(CROSSTALK)

MARTIN: I'll tell you this, Mark.

WILLIAMS: If you think for one minute this tea party thing is about Obama, I have got news for you. This started during Bush.

(CROSSTALK)

WILLIAMS: And, as I have said repeatedly, President Bush planted the seeds, and all President Obama did was come along with a sack of fertilizer and a bottle of water to make it flourish, and then surround himself with these wack nuts, these czar nuts that he's got around him...

MARTIN: Mark, Mark, Mark, here's the difference, Mark.

WILLIAMS: ... who are bound and intent to do...

MARTIN: Mark...

WILLIAMS: ... what they can to disrespect the people who pay the bills.

MARTIN: Mark, here's the difference.

When I -- when we speak about these issues, it's amazing. When I begin to get the e-mails, Anderson, from people, all right, and we could be talking about the president picking who should win the Super Bowl. And, all of a sudden, race is injected. Race oftentimes is attached to this president, not just in terms of people out there speaking.

And when you begin to read blogs, and you begin to read comments...

(CROSSTALK)

WILLIAMS: Where did you see this? Where did you see this...

(CROSSTALK)

WILLIAMS: Mark, Mark, Mark, one second. Mark, one second.

I often -- I get tons of e-mail every day. I will respond to people and say, wait a minute, how did you jump to the issue of race? How did that even come into the conversation?

(CROSSTALK)

WILLIAMS: Roland, you're -- you're better than Al Sharpton or Jesse Jackson. You're engaging in...

MARTIN: I'm making a broader point.

(CROSSTALK)

MARTIN: Mark, excuse me.

I'm making a broader point. And that is, I'm not in denial about race in America. Just because we elected an African-American president does not somehow mean race simply left this country. We cannot ignore that.

What I'm saying is, we, as African-Americans, as whites, Hispanics, Asians, whatever, we have to be willing to call people out for what it is, and not ignore it, like you choose to do, Mark.

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: Mark, Mark, let me ask you, you said in the beginning of this that there is a small fringe element in some of these demonstrations...

WILLIAMS: Sure.

COOPER: ... a very small element, you said.

A lot -- as you know, a lot of play has been given in the media to some of the signs that people have held up. There is this witch doctor sign that -- that has gotten a lot of play. We're showing it right now.

Is that something, when you see, you think, OK, that is -- do you believe that is racist? And, if you do, is that something you would tell people in your movement who come to your rallies, look, don't be -- don't be bringing that sign?

MARTIN: Yes. Obviously, I would. And, yes, it is -- it detracts from the -- from the actual discussion. And it's engaging in the same kind of demagoguery that Roland is engaging in and that the others in the race-baiting business, who make their check off of -- off of perpetuating racism, like the Jacksons and the Sharptons do.

But the fact of the matter is, I'm also in the media. And I understand what makes a good picture, a TV picture. And those signs, face it, they make the camera, because they're unique. There -- you don't see picture after picture of little kids holding up signs saying, "President Obama, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, don't spend my future," because there are thousands of them.

MARTIN: But, Mark, have you come to them and say, take it down, that is not -- we do not want to have -- have you done that?

Have you called on your supporters and say, that is not allowed here; take that down?

MARTIN: I don't determine what people believe or feel or express, Roland.

MARTIN: No, no, no, answer the question, Mark. Have you done it? Have you done it?

WILLIAMS: Unlike you folks on the far left, I do not mandate to people what they should feel and believe.

(CROSSTALK)

WILLIAMS: I don't have to agree with people who say it. Why should I?

(CROSSTALK)

WILLIAMS: I'm supposed to find one guy in a crowd of 10,000 and say, hey, take that sign down? What does that make me? That makes me no better than the -- than the onerous, odiferous philosophies we're trying to fight.

(CROSSTALK)

MARTIN: Mark, the difference between me and you is, I'm willing to fight racism if it's coming from African-Americans or from whites or anybody else.

WILLIAMS: Well, the difference between me and you is, you make...

(CROSSTALK)

WILLIAMS: ... on perpetuating racism. I don't.

WILLIAMS: You, sir, are an apologist for them. And you allow them to move forward.

And that's the problem, Anderson.

COOPER: I want to give Mark the final thought.

WILLIAMS: Well, the difference between me and a lot of people is, there are people in the professional race-baiting business who make a good living off perpetuating racism.

I don't happen to be one of them. I'm an American. And what I see happening to my country scares me, because we are headed down a path that we have seen before in human history. And, if we go to the end, we know how this book ends.

COOPER: We're going to...

MARTIN: And I have seen racism before, as well. That scares me.

COOPER: Mark Williams, I appreciate your time on the program.

WILLIAMS: Thank you.

COOPER: Roland Martin, as well, thank you.

MARTIN: Thank you.

COOPER: Good discussion.

Let us know what you think about President Carter's comments, about the conversation you just heard. Is race a role in this, or is it inappropriate to bring race into it? Let us know what you think. Join the live chat happening now at AC360.com.

Up next, Paul Begala and Alex Castellanos react to some of Mark's comments from last night calling President Obama an Indonesian Muslim, among other things.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PAUL BEGALA, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Why won't you, Alex, stand up and say, look, it's wrong when this clown, Mr. Williams, says that the president is an Indonesian Muslim? Do you denounce that?

(CROSSTALK)

ALEX CASTELLANOS, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: You asked me to say something.

BEGALA: Do you -- do you endorse that, or do you -- do you denounce that?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: We will tell what you he says. Are people the fueling the tea party protests crossing a line, or are they expressing free speech?

Let us know what you think. Join the live chat at AC360.com.

Later, more breaking news: We're waiting for a press conference from police investigating the killing of Yale graduate student Annie Le. Is an arrest imminent? The breaking news, we're waiting for it.

We will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Quick recap of tonight's breaking news. In an interview that aired a short time ago, former President Jimmy Carter telling NBC News' Brian Williams that he believes racism is behind much of the animosity against President Obama. President Carter said this grieves him and concerns him deeply.

Now, to be sure, we have seen some intense expressions of anger and frustration directed at President Obama, including some of those protesters in Washington over the weekend. But ,today, House lawmakers were dealing with another expression of anger, today voting to formally reprimand Joe Wilson of South Carolina, who of course called the president a liar.

Was the message the House sent really worth the time and trouble today?

Joe Johns has the "Raw Politics."

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Please, what are they doing? What is going on here? The complex health care debate, Afghanistan, and the economy all ramped up to a fever pitch, and, yet, what are they focused on, on the floor of the House?

REP. STENY HOYER (D-MD), MAJORITY LEADER: What is at issue here is of importance to this House and to this country.

JOHNS: That's right. Today, they debated whether they should approve the mildest possible rebuke of South Carolina Republican Joe Wilson. He's the guy who launched out of obscurity with the two words he shouted at President Obama: "You lie."

REP. JOE WILSON (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: You lie!

(BOOING)

OBAMA: It's not true.

JOHNS: You know what happened next.

Under pressure from his own Republican leaders, Wilson apologized. Then he created a campaign video making him out to be a truth-telling crusader that brought him $1.5 million in contributions from people who support him and, presumably, what he said.

To be fair, his Democratic opponent also raised about that much.

(on camera): Which brings us to today and your tax dollars at work and the bold debate over whether Wilson should be punished. Congressional Democrats called for a so-called privileged resolution of disapproval, even though some Democrats admit, right now, the Congress has more than enough on its plate.

Don't you think this Joe Wilson resolution is a waste of time? Don't you guys have more important things to do?

REP. LUIS GUTIERREZ (D), ILLINOIS: You know, that's like they don't -- they don't call me and say, hey, Luis, what do you think?

(LAUGHTER)

GUTIERREZ: I say let him stew. He already made an incredible -- he embarrassed himself. He embarrassed the Congress of the United States and I think the nation with his outburst. And I -- I would just walk away. That's my own personal opinion. I would just walk away. We have important things to do.

JOHNS: So, Congress voted to punish Joe Wilson. Here's the deal on a privileged resolution of disapproval. Only three dozen members of the House have ever been sanctioned by a vote of the whole House, and this is the first time for yelling at the president. But it's totally tepid. It involves no fine, no reprimand, and no expulsion.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: So, Joe, why did the Democrats go through the exercise at the end of the day, if a lot of them didn't seem to want to?

JOHNS: Well, it's red meat for the party faithful, Anderson. Some Democrats are welcoming this drama, because their fund-raising went up, but, more importantly, it rallied and galvanized their base even.

COOPER: Politics, politics, politics.

Joe, thanks.

Congressman Wilson's outburst during President Obama's speech last week, has it become a lightning rod for both supporters and critics of the president?

Earlier, I talked to CNN political contributors Paul Begala and Alex Castellanos about the vote.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Alex, did Congress vote the right way?

CASTELLANOS: You know, I think -- I think, clearly, the congressman overstepped his bounds. He -- he could find another way to make his name world-famous, I think. He's learned that.

But, as -- this is just politics in Washington. The Democrats are having a hard time their party together on health care. And politics is better than policy here to hold them together. So -- so, this is not a vote that is -- that is going to do anything to fix the economy right now. This -- whether they voted the right way or not, this is a vote they didn't even need to take.

COOPER: Paul, was this a good use of Congress' time? I mean, this thing started hours ago. They have been debating it for hours.

BEGALA: You know, Speaker Pelosi said she didn't want to do this. She was not really for doing this, but I -- but I really felt like they had no choice.

You know, in a prior life, I worked for the then House majority leader. That place is steeped in tradition. It's not the worst thing that has ever happened. I'm not going to give lectures on civility to anybody, Anderson. I do not have clean hands, OK? I have said much worse things about other people. But I'm not a congressman interrupting an American president in the middle of a joint session address.

CASTELLANOS: Again, if saying -- characterizing your opponents, demeaning them by -- by using the "lie" word is an offense, then, clearly, we should censure the man who did it first on the floor of the House, and that would be Barack Obama, who, just before Joe Wilson said, that's a lie, speaking specifically about Republicans. So...

COOPER: Well, wait. He was talking about -- wait. He was talking about death panels, the allegation about death panels...

CASTELLANOS: And he was -- and he was...

COOPER: ... which was factually incorrect in a speech.

Are you equating that to some guy, a congressman yelling out at the president?

CASTELLANOS: Well, yelling out at the president is one thing. But being censured for -- for calling a president a liar, which has been what the Democrats have been saying for the past -- well, since this happened, let's -- let's make clear that the president, right after appealing to bipartisanship, stood up there and addressed his opponents, demeaned them as liars.

So, yes, that's something the president should not have done on the floor of the House either.

COOPER: Paul?

BEGALA: He -- he -- look, the president was simply stating in very blunt terms a fact. This is the problem.

CASTELLANOS: No.

BEGALA: Alex is entitled to his own opinion. He's not entitled to his own facts. There are no death panels.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: We're going to have more of Paul Begala and Alex Castellanos coming up.

You heard President Carter's comments about he believing racism is at the heart of much of the animosity toward President Bush. What do Paul and Alex say? We will talk about that.

Also, a former speechwriter for George W. Bush writes a tell-all book. Here's what he said the president about Sarah Palin, jokingly asking, what is she, the governor of Guam? That's nothing compared to what he apparently said about Hillary Clinton. We will have those details ahead.

And breaking news: new details in the investigation into the murder of Yale grad student Annie Le. We're expecting an announcement from New Haven police at any moment. We will bring it you to as it happens.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Recapping our breaking news tonight: We have all of course seen the protests and heard some of the harsh rhetoric against President Obama.

And now former President Jimmy Carter has told NBC News' Brian Williams that he believes racism is behind much of the animosity against President Obama.

Here is more of my interview with CNN political contributors Paul Begala and Alex Castellanos.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Paul, what do you make of this demonstration we saw this weekend and no doubt demonstrations we will see in -- in future weeks, the tea parties? Are Democrats kind of painting with a very broad brush all these demonstrators?

BEGALA: I hope not.

You know, dissent is always patriotic. I am pro-dissent. You know, I was part of that dissent when the president was in the other party. Now I think that kind of dissent, that kind of energy is wonderful.

But part of being part of a movement of opposition is having the courage to purge that movement of its crazies. I mean, you remember -- we're talking about Kanye West, but Kanye West a couple of years ago said, George W. Bush hates black people.

Donna Brazile, the vice chairman of the Democratic Party, and me and a bunch of other Democrats all said, no, no, that's wrong. It's wrong to accuse our president of being racist. We helped to put -- push that out of the movement that was opposing, in a responsible way, George W. Bush.

These tea-baggers -- I saw that clown you had on last night, this Mark Williams guy, who was calling President Obama an Indonesian Muslim and a welfare some -- thug, a welfare thug...

COOPER: Welfare thug.

BEGALA: Goodness gracious.

Now, you know, William F. Buckley pushed the crazies of the John Birch Society out of the Republican movement in the '50s. Somebody today in the 21st century has to do the same. There's a responsible dissent in the Republican movement, but it's being hijacked by a small number of lunatics who have taken over the asylum.

COOPER: Alex, is there more here, I mean, some sort of deeper opposition to President Obama? Because there were -- there were plenty of things that President Bush did in the latter years of his administration which -- which upset genuine conservatives, which, you know, busted the budget for -- for future years, or the deficit.

(CROSSTALK)

CASTELLANOS: If that's the case, then where was this -- this deep-seated, you know, subtext during the election, when all of America, a lot of America, was looking at Barack Obama as -- as a unifier? And, you know, we didn't see the divisions then. He was the same -- he was the same guy then.

(CROSSTALK)

CASTELLANOS: You know, race wasn't an issue then.

It's policy that has done this. And guess what? Maybe the Democrats have got it wrong. Maybe America doesn't want to be saddled with trillions of dollars of debt, doesn't want to move to the left, doesn't want to take over banks and auto companies. What if the Democrats are wrong?

BEGALA: We saw it in the campaign, Alex. I don't know what campaign you were covering. But it was at the Sarah Palin rallies, when she was saying that the president -- then Senator Obama -- pals around with terrorists, when people were screaming the most hateful things at those Palin rallies, when -- when a cameraman was -- was attacked at one of those rallies.

The country looked at it. They didn't like it, and they rejected it. And, so, this is what kind of puzzles me, is, why won't you, Alex, stand up and say, look, it's wrong when this clown, Mr. Williams, says that the president is an Indonesian Muslim who -- who turned into a welfare thug and is a racist in chief?

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: Just -- just -- let's stop there.

CASTELLANOS: Paul, most Republicans agree with you.

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: Do you denounce that?

CASTELLANOS: You asked me to say something.

BEGALA: Do you -- do you endorse that, or do you -- do you denounce that?

CASTELLANOS: Paul, you -- you asked me to say something. I will be happy to say it.

The thing about the birth certificate is ridiculous. Most mainstream Republicans think it's ridiculous. The only one in this debate that wasn't born in America was me.

(LAUGHTER)

CASTELLANOS: So, I don't know what -- the big issue here.

And, again, I think it's useful for the Democrats now to try to pull themselves together by looking at a -- at a small fringe element, you know, the protests -- fringe protests on the Republicans that we have, just like the Democrats have it when they say, you know, George Bush intentionally allowed the planes to fly into the -- 9/11, you know, when Democrats say weird things like that.

It serves a purpose politically. It unifies you against the opposition. Nothing unites the people of Earth like a threat from Mars.

BEGALA: Here's...

CASTELLANOS: But to say that this is mainstream stuff, I think Democrats are deluding themselves that there isn't a real mainstream mass movement against this horrible leftward tilt that is indebting the country for generations and for trillions of dollars.

This is a fiscal revolt. And it's going to have a big impact in 2010.

CASTELLANOS: Paul Begala, Alex Castellanos, thanks.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Coming up next on 360, breaking news: a police news conference that could offer new clues to the murder of the Yale graduate student Annie Le, whose body was found stuffed inside the wall of a campus research lab -- late details on the case, what the police are just announcing. We will tell you in a moment.

Also ahead, a bus engulfed in flames speeding down a highway -- we will tell where you this happened and what happened next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: We breaking news, a police news conference on the murder investigation of Yale student Annie Le. Her body was found stuff inside a wall at a campus medical research lab, the discovery made on what have been her -- the -- on her wedding day. She was just 24 years old.

Tom Foreman joins us live from New Haven, Connecticut.

Tom, what is the latest? What have police now announced?

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, the police have not made an arrest in this case.

However, they have taken a person into custody to question him more. His name is Raymond Clark. He's 24 years old, lives about 30 miles away from -- or 30 minutes away from here in an apartment complex in Middletown. He worked in the lab.

Police make a real point of saying he is not a suspect in this case. He is merely a person of interest at this point. And they want to know what else he may know about this. They went to a judge to get permission to take him in and question him about all this. They say that he has a lawyer and they won't talk about anything about what he has said.

But they said they have been aware of where he was all along. And he is, indeed, a person of interest.

Earlier today, they were out searching around the apartment where he's been. Witnesses out there -- we have some video of that -- witnesses out there said that they have been there for several days sort of swirling around, the police asking questions, talking to people who might know something about him.

However, the police went on to say they just want to know what he knows. They're still looking at many other potential suspects. So, they're making a real point of saying he's not a suspect.

They have over 700 hours of video they have looked at from these labs, Anderson, more than 150 pieces of evidence. And they say they still need to narrow down who their suspects are, and all of this is aimed at that goal, Anderson.

So they've been circumspect from the beginning. They are still being so. But nonetheless, they told us to stay around tonight for this important announcement. Clearly, it's a big change from earlier today, Anderson, when they were saying that -- they were giving a lot of indications that they had so much spread-out evidence and so many people to look at that it seemed almost like they weren't narrowing it down. But at least tonight they are using that language, saying they're getting to the point of trying to narrow this down. To how many, we don't know.

COOPER: Had they said, Tom, whether they know for a fact that this was an inside job? I mean, this is a young woman who worked in a lab, a lab that you needed I.D. to enter; was not just a building anybody could get into. And she was last seen on that video camera entering the building. That's the last time we know of anyone's seen her.

FOREMAN: Sure, Anderson. They have not said that they know this is an inside job. That's been the assumption of a lot of people here. But the police have been very careful to say, "No, we're not going to make that assumption, simply because the chief mentioned this a moment ago. They want to remain open to the possibility of who might be involved."

And I think an important note was raised earlier today, Anderson. There's a ton of DNA evidence -- a ton is too much. But a tremendous amount of DNA evidence they're dealing with here. And one of the other top-ranking police officers here told me, one of the problems is because this is an animal lab, there is a tremendous amount of DNA evidence from these mice that they experiment with there. So they collected a lot of things, and they have to have a lot of tests done. And that's going to take time.

This officer said earlier today is, "We have no intention of making an arrest and raising charges until we're confident that the DNA is going to back it up." Because they do not want to have the case foiled by pulling someone in and then having contradictory DNA evidence. They're trying to get all that cleared up.

So what we had tonight, Anderson, seems to be an important step in the process. But not the end and not necessarily a herald of the end coming, necessarily, soon -- Anderson.

COOPER: I know a lot of people on that campus were hoping that there was going to be some announcement tonight that somebody, a suspect was in custody. That was certainly not the case at this hour. Tom, appreciate the reporting.

We'll check in with Tom if there are any new developments during the course of this hour. Want to dig deeper right now, though, with criminal pathologist, Dr. Cyril Wecht and Jack Levin, criminologist at Northeastern University.

Professor Wecht, when you hear that, when we know that this young woman's body was basically stuffed into a wall, I imagine hastily, somewhat hastily, bloody clothes stuffed into a ceiling. It would sound like there would be at least a fair amount of possible evidence, possible DNA evidence.

CYRIL WECHT, CRIMINAL PATHOLOGIST: I'm certain there is. There's a principle known as Locard's Principle, a French criminologist of a century or so ago.

When you have this kind of a physical altercation, then you could be certain there's going to be a transfer of some forensic scientific evidence: hair, fiber, some kinds of trace evidence that they are working on.

And I understand, as has been pointed out, that it's necessary to do a thorough DNA analysis.

Keep in mind, historically, the New Haven police have been burned before. This case has been forgotten, but some years ago, a Yale co- ed who was brutally murdered. And they came out hastily, and they accused a young instructor, and they ruined his life to a great extent professionally and academically. And they've been sitting on it without the courage and the decency to withdraw and retract that. So that's on their mind. You can be sure. So they're taking their time.

They know who was there. They know all the people that were present that day. It's just a matter of time. And while they say that it's just a person of interest, and there's no arrest and so on, I frankly have a great deal of doubt. I think that this is an aperitif to a meal that's going to be served very soon.

COOPER: Professor Levin, it seems -- I mean, this may be a dumb question. But it seems and odd -- if you were premeditating, planning to kill somebody, a lab, a public lab on the campus of Yale University, it would seem to be an odd place to do it, or does this seem like a crime that was premeditated?

JACK LEVIN, CRIMINOLOGIST: Well, in my opinion, it looked like a crime of passion that was committed in the heat of the moment, spontaneously, impulsively, a case of manslaughter rather than first- degree or second-degree murder.

But at the same time, if this ever goes to court, the jury will see it as premeditated, because the killer stayed around and planned concealing the body. So when you see planning after the fact, then you also think of planning before the fact. But I don't think it's clear at all that that was the case.

COOPER: We've got to take a short break. We're going to have more with Dr. Wecht and Dr. Levin in a moment. We'll be right back.

Also, we have a lot more to talk about. The police searching the home of the man who kidnapped Jaycee Dugard for possible clues in the disappearance of two other girls. So a new search. Their parents want answers, of course. We've got the latest. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: We've got some breaking news. New Haven police have stormed the apartment of a person of interest in the murder of Yale grad student Annie Le. Police made the announcement moments ago.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There has not been an arrest in this case. However, this evening a judge did sign a search warrant for the residence at 40 Ferry Street, Apartment 1-A in Middletown. That's a residence of a Raymond Clark who is an employee at Yale University.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Joining us is criminal pathologist Dr. Cyril Wecht and Jack Levin, criminologist at Northeastern University.

Professor Wecht, why would authorities withhold autopsy results? What kind of information would they not want to get out at this point?

WECHT: They want to hear the story of the suspects. They want to hear what he has to say.

For example, he'll say, you know, "I really didn't do anything. We were just making out or so on, and she fainted and passed out, and I panicked" or whatever. They want to find out, was there any sexual activity. They want to find out exactly what he's going to say about all of the physical events in order to see what they can confront him with when they get the forensic scientific evidence. They have all the information from medical examiner. They don't have the DNA test results yet. But they've got basic things. Was she raped? Was there evidence of a sexual assault? They know that. Was she strangled? Was she beaten? Was her skull fractured? They know all that.

They want to hear from people that, whether it's Mr. Clark alone and others, what is the story? Because they want that hole to be dug before they tell him what really happened. And then he fits his story with his attorney into that scenario. That's why they're holding back.

COOPER: Jack, do you think Annie knew her killer?

LEVIN: I think almost definitely. You know, most homicides are committed over arguments. The perpetrator is very often someone that knows the victim very well. He's in the family, neighborhood, a co- worker.

This was an inside job, it seems to me, almost definitely. As you pointed out, Anderson, it was a secure building. You needed a key card to enter. But I think also this killer was familiar with the building. He knew where to conceal the body.

And unlike a stranger, unlike an outsider, this killer stayed around and took time and took a risk by waiting and finding the appropriate effective place to conceal the body. That doesn't happen in cases of robbery, where someone from outside comes into a building. They want to leave as soon as possible.

My guess is that the wedding cannot be ignored here. It seems to me it was going to happen just a few days after the death of Annie Le. And I wouldn't be surprised if we're seeing the work of someone who was obsessed with her and decided, "Look, if I can't have her, nobody can."

COOPER: Dr. Wecht, the fact that, as Jack pointed out, this -- whoever killed her knew where to put a body in a wall and also hide clothing in a ceiling.

WECHT: I think that this is quite correct. I would emphasize this point. There was no need -- in fact, it would have been unwise for whoever worked there or worked -- or studied there to have left there prematurely. I think that it would have been wise to remain there and to pursue a normal course of activity. And that would fit in very, very well with what Professor Levin has said, someone who knew her, someone who knew the building and so on. I think that -- I don't know if I'd go so far as to say this is tied to the wedding.

But I think that while this was a crime of passion in a sense that once you get involved and started in something like this, it continues on in frenzied fashion. But I don't know that it was planned or premeditated, except that he knew she was there. He knew what he was doing to the extent that the body could be hidden, the clothing could be hidden, and he would finish his workday or his research or study day and then leave, no hurry. Because if he left at 2 p.m., and you're not supposed to leave until 4, so he studies the whole day, then that's a pretty clear indication or strong suggestion that he was in a hurry to get out.

COOPER: And, of course, her body discovered on the day she was to have been married. It's just unthinkable. Jack Levin, Cyril Wecht, Dr. Cyril Wecht, appreciate your time. Thank you.

WECHT: Thank you.

COOPER: Coming up next, medical mistakes cost money. President Obama saying limiting malpractice suits can help fix health care. We're going to talk to top lawyers who say the president has it all wrong.

Also tonight, former President Bush unplugged. A speechwriter recalls Bush's opinions of then-Senator Barack Obama and why Sarah Palin wasn't ready for national office. What he said, ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: In California today, police searched the property of Jaycee Dugard's alleged abductor, looking for a possible link between the suspect and two other child kidnappings.

Dan Simon joins us now from Contra Costa, California.

Dan, what's the latest?

DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, well, when this case first broke last month, police said they were going to look at Phillip and Nancy Garrido as possible suspects in other high-profile crimes in this area.

But today police were back out at the house, looking for possible evidence that might tie the Garridos to a pair of kidnappings that happened roughly 20 years ago. Two cases in particular they're looking at, the first involving Ilene Misheloff, just 13 years old when she vanished while walking home from school.

The second case involving Michaela Garecht, who was nine years old when she was abducted outside of a supermarket. That case in particular has gotten a lot of attention, really for two reasons. First of all, when you look at Jaycee Dugard, who of course, was held captive for about 20 years, they say that she and Michaela Garecht looked similar in appearance when they were abducted. Also, about the same age. Dugard was 11, Garecht 9.

The second part of the story deals with this. When you look at a composite sketch of the suspect in the Garecht case, police say it bears a striking resemblance to Phillip Garrido back in the '70s and '80s when he wore his hair long.

So really that's what's going on here at the house. Police say they're going to be out here really for the rest of the week. And we're still trying to get word in terms of what evidence they may have seized, Anderson. COOPER: It is creepy when you see both the photos of the two young girls and also the suspect's sketch and what Phillip Garrido actually looked like. It's -- I got to say, it does look a lot -- very similar.

We'll continue to follow that. Dan Simon, appreciate it.

We're following several other stories, as well, tonight. Erica Hill has them in a "360 News & Business Bulletin" -- Erica.

ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR: Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke says the recession is very likely over. But there are challenges ahead including unemployment. Speaking to Washington insiders at the Brookings Institution today, he cautioned it is going to be a slow economic recovery.

A former speechwriter for President George W. Bush has written a tell-all book about his days in the White House, including President Bush's comments about other politicians.

Among the recollections from Matt Latimer, when it comes to Sarah Palin, he says, President Bush said, "I'm trying to remember if I've met her before. What is she, the governor of Guam?"

On Barack Obama, quote, "This is a dangerous world. This cat isn't remotely qualified to handle it. This guy has no clue. I promise you."

And on Hillary Clinton, "Wait until her fat keister is sitting at this desk."

Meantime, at the White House today, some rare comments on pop culture. President Obama offering a message for Kanye West after the rapper cut off country singer Taylor Swift during her acceptance speech at the MTV Video Music Awards Sunday night.

West stepped in to say Beyonce should have won for best video ever.

In an off-the-record comment during an interview with CNBC, President Obama had this to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I thought that was really inappropriate. You know? I mean, it's like she's getting an award. Why are you butting in? The young lady seems like a perfectly nice person. She's getting her award.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why did he do that?

OBAMA: He's a jackass.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HILL: May not have wanted everybody to hear it. But it seems a lot of people agree.

And our bizarre story of the night, Jessica Simpson's beloved dog, a Maltepoo named Daisy, snatched by a coyote right in front of her. She broke the news on Twitter, where else. She posted a photo, as well, offering a reward to anyone who can reunite her with her pooch.

That's awful, I have to say, to see a coyote come and take your dog.

COOPER: Yes, but -- it's terrible. But if a coyote takes your dog, what kind of -- I mean it's not as if -- why offer a reward?

HILL: I don't think the dog is coming back if a coyote took it.

COOPER: Yes.

HILL: I hate to tell you.

COOPER: Yes, it doesn't -- I mean, anyway.

HILL: A girl can dream.

COOPER: I'd hate to be the one to break that news.

HILL: I know.

COOPER: Coming up next in the program, the latest on the breaking news in the case of Annie Le.

Plus, doctors make deadly mistakes. We all know this. Tens of thousands of people are killed each year. We're going to take a look at who wins, who loses and who pays in medical malpractice cases. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: New pictures just in to CNN of the person of interest in the murder of Yale grad student Annie Le. His name is Raymond Clark. That's Raymond Clark being put into a vehicle. He's a medical lab technician. Police say he's not under arrest, and they are not calling him a suspect. Simply, they're saying he is a person of interest. And a search warrant was issued for his property. And there you see him being put into a vehicle.

Tonight, we also launch a series. We're doing a couple of pieces on this entire week. Medical malpractice: who wins, who loses and who pays?

Now, according to the Institute of Medicine, medical errors kill at least 44,000 Americans every year. That -- that means that medical mistakes are deadlier than breast cancer or AIDS or motor vehicle accidents.

Now, we should point out, doctors aren't the only ones who make medical mistakes. But when they do, what can you do about it? Most people would consider hiring an attorney and suing for malpractice.

But insurance companies say, "Hey, that is driving up prices."

In his big health-care address last week, President Obama called for a new look at how medical malpractice lawsuits are handled as a possible way of reducing health-care costs.

Over the next couple nights, we're going to do our best to try to cut through the noise and hold all sides accountable. Tonight, we hear from the lawyers. Here's Gary Tuchman.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A quick response from two of the nation's top trial attorneys. When I asked what's wrong with capping medical malpractice settlements. Do you think this is un-American when this happens?

TODD SMITH, ATTORNEY: It's unconstitutional. And I believe our Constitution is about the finest document, you know, we could possibly have.

TUCHMAN: Even more blunt, I asked if malpractice verdicts dramatically jack up our health-care costs?

TODD SMITH, TRIAL ATTORNEY: There's no empiric evidence anywhere that it's out of control.

TUCHMAN (on camera): Certainly a lot of allegations, right, from doctors and insurance companies and from Americans who come to these town-hall meetings. Do you think they're misled?

SMITH: Yes.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): Les Weisbrod and Todd Smith, both former presidents of the nation's largest trial lawyer association, say it's easy to scapegoat the lawyers.

SMITH: Nobody wants to be sued for anything. But that's the way our country works. I commit legal malpractice, I should be sued.

TUCHMAN: But they say punitive damage malpractice verdicts are actually much rarer than critics make them out to be. Weisbrod says he's been told he has won more such verdicts in the U.S. than any other plaintiff attorney. And it's not many.

WEISBROD: Over a 30-year period, that's like seven or eight. Which I think underscores how rare the award of punitive damages is.

TUCHMAN: But settlements before they get to the judge are quite common. Insurance companies pay them. And doctors complain that leads to higher malpractice premiums.

Many doctors try to make their care bulletproof by practicing defensive medicine, giving extra tests and treatments to protect themselves from liability. BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I don't believe malpractice reform is a silver bullet. But I talk to enough doctors to know that defensive medicine may be contributing to unnecessary costs.

SMITH: I think that Barack Obama needs to spend a little more time talking to victims of medical negligence and not just talking to all the doctors.

TUCHMAN: Thirty-five states do have some type of malpractice award cap. But these lawyers say the federal government should not follow that lead.

(on camera) So what's wrong with having an administrative court, with trained medical judicial professionals making these decisions?

SMITH: Well, there's a lot that's wrong with that. First of all, why are we having special courts for doctors as opposed to special courts for television reporters or for architects or engineers or lawyers? Our Constitution was not written with the idea that one group gets special treatment.

TUCHMAN: My orthopedist is a friend of mine. He takes care of my broken bones. I said what -- what one question would ask you these guys, if you could?

And he said, "You know, we practice medicine, there are occasionally bad outcomes, unfortunate outcomes: infections, stuff that you can't control. Can't you acknowledge that sometimes it's just something unfortunate happens and you shouldn't be suing doctors over it?"

WEISBROD: You only are compensated as a lawyer if you're successful. So why on earth would you want to take on a case that's meritless, spend money on it, and never get an outcome?

TUCHMAN: But aren't there lawyers who do that?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I really don't encounter that.

TUCHMAN: There are bad apples, aren't there?

SMITH: I think it's few and far between.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): So don't blame us say, these lawyers. Plus, they say, don't blame most doctors.

WEISBROD: One thing consistent about the doctors as a group, they've been duped by insurance companies for many, years, and they're not very good businessmen.

TUCHMAN: Bow these lawyers just hope President Obama believes what they believe.

Gary Tuchman, CNN, Chicago.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Tomorrow on 360, the other side. Doctors say the cost of medical malpractice and frivolous lawsuits are driving them out of business and driving up the cost of health care.

Up next, the breaking news. Former president, Jimmy Carter, saying he believes racism is behind the backlash against President Obama. We're going to hear his comments and from both sides of the debate coming up. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Tonight, breaking news from New Haven, Connecticut, where any minute now we are expecting an announcement from police investigating the murder of Yale University grad student Annie Le, whose body was found stuffed into the wall of a building on the Yale campus.

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