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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Terror Suspects Arrested in United States; Interview With Arizona Senator John McCain
Aired September 24, 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: We will have a lot more on Hugo Chavez and the dramatic day at the United Nations.
But we start about breaking news about your safety: two new arrests in two new separate alleged terror plots. An Illinois man is behind bars right now, accused of trying to blow up a federal courthouse in Springfield. He actually went so far as to trigger what he thought would detonate a truck bomb. This is the suspect.
His name is Michael Finton. He's 29 years old. He's an American citizen. While in prison, he converted to Islam and now goes by the name Talib Islam. He reportedly idolized John Walker Lindh, the young American captured fighting with the Taliban in Afghanistan.
Investigators say that this guy Finton wanted to attend a training camp to become a jihadist fighter.
Also, in Texas tonight, another alleged bomber -- a 19-year-old man has been charged with attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction to blow up this 60-story Dallas office tower. The suspect is a Jordanian citizen who is said to be in the U.S. illegally. He has apparently been the focus of an undercover FBI investigation and was arrested today, after placing a car in front of the office tower.
He thought the car was filled with live explosives. It was filled with fakes. Again, it is important to note that authorities are saying these two cases are not related.
Jeanne Meserve joins me now from Denver with the breaking news.
Jeanne, let's start with the Illinois case. What do we know?
JEANNE MESERVE, CNN HOMELAND SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Michael Finton, 29 years old, from Decatur, Illinois, as you said, a great admirer of John Walker Lindh, the American Taliban, and he wanted to commit jihad.
Yesterday, he drove what he thought was a truck bomb up in front of the federal building and courthouse in Springfield, Illinois. He got into a car with someone he thought was a low-level al Qaeda operative. They drove away a few blocks. And then Finton allegedly, according to the government, tried to detonate this truck bomb.
But it didn't go off. The man next to him was not a low-level al Qaeda operative, but an undercover FBI agent. And the truck bomb wasn't a bomb at all. It had been filled with inert substances by the FBI. And so he was arrested and charged -- Anderson.
COOPER: So he actually -- how did he attempt to detonate this device? Do we know?
MESERVE: With a cell phone. He had a cell phone. He tried to set it off with that, as you know, a common triggering device.
COOPER: Amazing that he actually thought he was doing it.
What about the other case? What do we know?
MESERVE: Well, he's a 19-year-old by the name of Hosam Maher Husein Smadi. He is a Jordanian citizen in this country illegally -- illegally.
According to authorities, he told investigators that he came to this country for the express purpose of waging jihad. He, as you mentioned, targeted a 60 -- 60-story tower in downtown Dallas. Today, he took a car there thinking that it was a bomb. But it was -- again, it was not.
The FBI was on to him. They had put inert substances in what he thought was a car bomb. Now, you probably are asking, are these two cases related? A law enforcement source tells me that these two people were operating independently. They did not know about one another. Neither one had an affiliation with any international terrorist group.
But the stings were coordinated by the FBI. The law enforcement official says that the sting went down yesterday in Illinois. They kept it under wraps today until Smadi had been arrested, because they didn't want Smadi to get wise to what they were doing and walk away before they had sprung the trap -- Anderson.
COOPER: Amazing stuff. Jeanne Meserve, appreciate the breaking developments.
Also, a major development today in that other terrorism investigation we have been following -- today, a 24-year-old shuttle driver at the Denver Airport was charged with conspiracy to use weapons of mass destruction. His name is Najibullah Zazi. He is one of three people arrested in this alleged plot so far.
Prosecutors say the Afghan immigrant plotted for more than a year in this country to set off homemade bombs in America. They're still searching for others who they believe may be involved.
That is the photo of him, a still that we're about to show you. CNN has obtained a surveillance video. This is a still of it. This is an exclusive picture we're showing you allegedly showing Zazi buying hydrogen peroxide and other items that he allegedly wanted to use to make explosives.
Now, he was buying them, if you can believe it, at a beauty supply store in Aurora, Colorado.
Susan Candiotti has also obtained transaction records from those alleged purchases.
She joins me now.
Susan, what we have learned?
SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's exclusive video that we're seeing that purports to be this man, Najibullah Zazi, who is making two separate cash purchases of these items.
In the first one -- and it's dated July 25 -- this matches up with information that we have from the government, according to court records -- he went into this beauty supply warehouse, and, according to people who work there and the CEO of the company, he purchased, the first time, six bottles of hydrogen peroxide, a product that contains that material.
And he also bought some other items at the time. You can see he is wearing a baseball cap on backwards as he approaches and makes this cash transaction. He also purchased some hair rollers, according to the cash receipts that we have seen that we believe to reflect this purchase.
He also buys hair rollers and a plastic shower cap and some brush-on nail polish as well. And we're only seeing the still of this right now. But we also show a second transaction that authorities say took place on 8/28. Again, we believe this to be the man in question.
And we see him walking down an aisle with a grocery cart. And he leans down and he picks up a few what appear to be cases of, again, a hydrogen peroxide product. And he puts them in the shopping cart and then he pays for those. In the first transaction, those bottles cost $2.99 each for a total of, let's see, $31.75.
COOPER: And, Susan, authorities say he was making these purchases, what, over a course of time, that there were multiple purchases, correct?
CANDIOTTI: Two purchases from this one location.
CANDIOTTI: And they said that they -- these are ingredients that he would have been using, according to the government, to help make bombs, if in fact that was his intent, and that's what the government believes is what is happening.
COOPER: OK. Obviously, we had trouble getting the video. But that was a still from the shot. It's the first time we have seen an actual picture of this guy allegedly buying these materials.
Let's dig deeper now with national security correspondent Peter Bergen, also former FBI Special Agent Don Clark.
Peter, three separate plots. What is going on here?
PETER BERGEN, CNN TERRORISM ANALYST: Well, I want to pick up on the hydrogen peroxide, Anderson, because this is incredibly important.
Hydrogen peroxide bombs are a signature of somebody who is trained in an al Qaeda training camp on the Afghan-Pakistan border. The government alleges that's Zazi has admitted to attending such a training camp. The reason this is important is not that this guy is just buying, you know, household products.
He can turn -- if he's got the right training, he can turn them into -- these into very effective bombs.
COOPER: We're now seeing the video, Peter, for the first time. We have finally got the video cued up and rolling.
So, you're saying this -- this is a trademark, this is something authorities know al Qaeda uses?
Go balk back to the July 7, 2005, bombings, Anderson, that you covered, the biggest terrorist attack in British history, killed 52 people, four suicide attackers. What were the bombs made of? They were made from hydrogen peroxide.
What you do, you -- you do -- there are two approaches. You either buy common hydrogen peroxide in a beauty salon, as this guy appears to be doing, and you basically concentrate them to, say, somewhere between 20 and 40 percent hydrogen peroxide, or you buy industrial-strength hydrogen peroxide. You use that as the building block for the bombs.
BERGEN: I have seen demonstrations of these kinds of bombs going off. They are incredibly -- it's like a bomb made from TNT. It -- it -- you know, it seems a pretty pedestrian thing, to be buying this kind of thing. But you can make a very effective bomb from it.
COOPER: And this is the kind of stuff, it's all over the Internet. This guy, though, allegedly went to other people for advice.
Authorities are still looking, Don, for others that they believe may be involved in his alleged plot.
DON CLARK, FORMER FBI INVESTIGATOR: Yes, of course they are. And they're going to go into all of their sources and so forth to try find out, because, in that particular plot, you probably did have other people who were involved in.
CLARK: ... intelligence.
COOPER: There were a group of Afghan -- there were -- there were a group of Afghan who allegedly tried to rent a U-Haul truck in the New York region, I believe, on September 10, a day before the anniversary.
And, you know, investigators are going to be out there. I mean, let's keep in mind 1993, with the World Trade Center, rented those types of vans and so forth. So, they will be able to follow that trail. And then they will have sources out there as well, Anderson, and making sure that they can get all the information that they can to try to find these people and curtail their activities.
COOPER: Peter, let's move on to this other case, this American who apparently, you know, looked up to John Walker Lindh, who is in custody, the so-called American Taliban. He seemed to have been radicalized in prison. He -- he converted to Islam in prison in the United States.
BERGEN: Yes. And we have seen that in other cases.
I mean, you may remember Jose Padilla, who was supposed to be thinking about detonating a radiological bomb in the United States, wasn't actually convicted on that charge, but, you know, a Hispanic American convert to Islam, Richard Reid, the so-called shoe bomber, who tried to blow up -- an American Airlines plot, a British citizen, again, radicalized in prison. This is not an uncommon story.
COOPER: The fact, though, that this guy actually went through and, you know, hit the detonation button, I mean, used his cell phone to ignite what he thought was a truck bomb, I mean, he -- clearly, he, according to authorities, if this is all true, seems very serious, Peter.
CLARK: Oh, there's no doubt that he's serious.
CLARK: And with these types of undercover operations, I think it's important to really make a note to -- to the public, is these undercover operations are very, very vital to us preventing ourselves from terrorist attacks.
I mean, had we had something like that in 1995 with Timothy McVeigh, perhaps that would -- would not have happened. But, by doing this, and then show -- what really showed was the fact that this guy really intended to do so, because he continued to carry it out.
COOPER: Peter, on -- on the big picture, is -- is there something changing here? Is there some sort of shift? I mean, is it just a coincidence that we're seeing these three things all at once? They're all separate. I'm saying in any way that they are related.
But is something changing in the United States, that this is going to become more and more common? We also saw the attacks on the military recruiters earlier this year.
BERGEN: Yes. I mean, Anderson, I think, if we had this conversation a year ago, we would have said the American-Muslim community basically has rejected the al Qaeda ideological virus, which isn't true, and we would have said most of these cases were, you know, aspirational, not operational.
But we have seen so many cases since then, the attack on the military recruiting center in Little Rock, Arkansas, which killed an American soldier, the Somalis from Minnesota going to fight in Somalia, the first American suicide attacker conducting a suicide operation in Somalia, the case in North Carolina where the allegation is they were planning to attack a Marine base in Quantico, Virginia.
I mean, the cases go on and on. Suddenly -- none of these cases are really related, but there are a constellation of cases which, taken together, suggest that some of the kind of maybe self- congratulation we had that this was not really such a problem as it is, let's say, in Britain, you know, maybe we need to reexamine that proposition.
COOPER: We're going to have to end it there.
Peter Bergen, Don Clark, appreciate you expertise, both of you. Thank you.
COOPER: Curious to hear your thoughts at home. Do you think something changed that's leading more people to plot inside the United States?
Join the live chat happening now at AC360.com. Let us know what you think.
Just ahead, a dramatic day at the U.N.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: ... who gave this Holocaust denier a hearing, I say, on behalf of my people, the Jewish people, and decent people everywhere, have you no shame? Have you no decency?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Israel's prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, blasting the U.N. for letting Iran's president and Holocaust denier inside the doors -- the raw rhetoric and "Raw Politics" ahead.
And, later, imagine taking photos of your own kids in the bath, pictures like these, and then getting accused of being a child pornographer when you try to have them developed. It's happened to two parents and Wal-Mart, and their lives were nearly destroyed. Now they're suing Wal-Mart and police. Before you take another picture of your kid, you need to hear their story tonight.
COOPER: More high drama at the United Nations today. In a blistering speech, Israel's prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, took aim at Iran's president and chief Holocaust denier, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Now, he blasted Ahmadinejad for his anti-Semitic rants and urged the U.N. to prevent Tehran from acquiring nuclear weapons.
And then he took aim at the U.N. itself for allowing Ahmadinejad inside its doors.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NETANYAHU: A mere six decades after the Holocaust, you give legitimacy to a man who denies the murder of six million Jews while promising to wipe out the state of Israel, the state of the Jews?
What a disgrace. What a mockery of the charter of the United Nations.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Let's dig deeper on this, the "Raw Politics," with senior political analyst David Gergen, and Reza Aslan, author of "How to Win a Cosmic War" and a contributor to The Daily Beast online.
David, what do you make of this? Did -- did Benjamin Netanyahu kind of take the bait of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad? One can certainly understand his outrage. Ahmadinejad kind of brings up the Holocaust at a time when he wants to -- to kind of divert attention from the illegitimate election that he himself just went through.
DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think that Prime Minister Netanyahu did bring moral clarity, as he himself said, to the question of the Holocaust and the Holocaust deniers and what Ahmadinejad represents. And, you know, for that, I think that many people are glad he stood up to him.
At the same time, I think he has no place at the U.N., I think, goes beyond what most observers from the past would say. The U.N., for better or worse, has -- you know, it is a home to all nations. And, therefore, the heads of -- odious leaders have come to that platform in the past, and we have seen clowns, as we saw yesterday with Moammar Gadhafi at that podium.
It's sort of the price we pay, you know, for having an international body. And I think most Americans, while there are divisions in this country, would say, on the whole, it's important to have a body like this, as -- as unpleasant and odious as some of the people are who come there.
COOPER: Well, Reza, certainly, Gadhafi did himself no favors, if he was trying to portray himself over the last three years as a changed leader, as a different kind of leader than the guy we kind of all knew throughout the '80s and early '90s. He certainly did himself no favors yesterday. What do you make about Netanyahu? REZA ASLAN, AUTHOR, "HOW TO WIN A COSMIC WAR: GOD, GLOBALIZATION, AND THE END OF THE WAR ON TERROR": Well, I think I agree with David. I think Netanyahu probably forgot what the purpose of the United Nations General Assembly was. I mean, it's precisely to give a voice to all of these different leaders.
And good. You know, we would much rather have these guys on a podium speaking to the world body than in a situation in which they feel like they have to shout or make some sort of, you know, grand gesture in order to be heard.
But let's get something straight here. Netanyahu has never been a fan of the United Nations. On the contrary, I mean, he's always seen the U.N. as an enemy to Israel. And he's got a lot of arguments for that.
So, when he talks about the U.N. being a mockery, being a disgrace, I think that goes beyond just his views on Ahmadinejad.
COOPER: David, President Obama has come under withering criticism from a lot of conservatives. I think former U.N. Ambassador Bolton called him, in all intents and purposes, hopelessly naive, both for his address.
He did chair this -- this meeting of the Security Council, one of the only few times the U.S. has done that, a U.S. president has done that. Has anything actually come out of this for the U.S.?
GERGEN: Listen, I think that President Obama is bringing a very different approach to international affairs than President Bush did.
It's too early to judge for certain where it's going. I'm among those who worry whether he's tough enough and whether, you know, when he -- the -- the -- the ambivalence he's shown over Afghanistan and how to proceed there, as well as the withdrawing of missiles from Eastern Europe, I think, sent two signals that were terribly unfortunate.
Having said that, we do -- the world is looking for a different type of leadership. The world applauds -- much of the world applauds President Obama. I -- and I think he needs to be given a chance. Let's see.
Today, he was the first American president to ever sit as chair of the Security Council. He got a resolution through unanimously in the Security Council. It doesn't have much teeth to it, but could lay the groundwork for being tougher against Iran.
I think the real test is going to come over to Iran with the U.N. and whether it's going to have sanctions. And that is what Netanyahu was pointing toward today.
And to go back it Netanyahu, Israel has been treated unfairly repeatedly by the U.N. But he's -- Netanyahu is calling attention to the right issue. Iran is coming up just over the horizon. Important talks start next week, Anderson. We will have a much better sense of just how big a dilemma this is going to be for the world in coming weeks.
COOPER: Reza, how big a dilemma do you think Iran is going to be?
ASLAN: Well, the problem is that I think Israel and the United States have different priorities when it comes to Iran.
Israel obviously wants the United States to deal first and foremost with Iran's nuclear program. And, certainly, that is a priority of the United States. But, frankly, it's not the number-one priority for these talks.
The fact is, is that all our foreign policy in the Middle East, whether we're talking about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, or bringing enough stability to Iraq to remove our troops, or the help that we need in the -- in the surge in Afghanistan and to stem the tide of drugs there, we need Iran for all of these issues.
So, I think that you're going to see the nuclear issue come up in these conversations. But, once the door is closed, I think that Obama is going to be interested in what he thinks is a more urgent issue. And that's Iraq and Afghanistan.
GERGEN: I -- I believe that the central purpose of what we're going to be focused on as an international community is whether the Iranians are willing to go freeze their -- their nuclear weapons development.
ASLAN: David, it's not a freeze -- it's not a freeze of a nuclear weapons program. It's a freeze of uranium enrichment. Let's not conflate the two. These are two different issues.
GERGEN: They're not separate -- they're overlapping issues. They're not separate issues. You know, to -- to -- well, we can -- we can -- let's leave it there for now.
COOPER: Yes. We have got to leave it there, unfortunately.
David Gergen, Reza Aslan, appreciate your time, guys. Thanks very much.
Reza blogged about Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. It's a fascinating piece. You can read it on AC360.com.
Still ahead: Parents having their kids in the bath, they took some photographs. An Arizona couple took the family pictures to Wal- Mart to get developed. They ended up having their children taken away from them and being put on a list for sex offenders. How could this happen? Could it happen you to? The parents join us to talk about their ordeal.
Also ahead, Senator John McCain weighs in on everything from the war in Afghanistan to what it's like inside Gadhafi's tents -- a 360 interview coming up.
COOPER: Still ahead: sex tape or setup? What the State Department is saying about the U.S. diplomat accused of being caught on tape with a prostitute. First, Erica Hill joins us with a 360 bulletin -- Erica.
ERICA HILL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And, Anderson, we have some sad news to report out of Buffalo tonight.
Timothy Joseph Russert, the father of late Tim Russert, has died. Affectionately known as Big Russ, he was the subject two books written by his son. The Russert family says Big Russ died peacefully of natural causes. He was 85.
Led by President Obama, the U.N. Security Council today passing a resolution to reduce the nuclear threat. That resolution calls for tighter controls on nuclear materials to prevent them from being used for military purposes or from being stolen -- Mr. Obama today saying the world must stand together and demonstrate that international law is not an empty promise.
Meantime, the president and first lady are now in Pittsburgh for the G20 summit, along with hundreds of protesters -- the self- described anarchists clashing with police today while marching toward the convention center there. Police fired canisters of pepper spray and smoke to disperse the crowds.
And a man using a metal detector in a rural English field hits a jackpot. Talk about a gold mine, literally. Terry Herbert uncovered the largest Anglo-Saxon gold hoard ever found, 11 pounds of the stuff, along with another 5.5 pounds of silver. Experts haven't yet said how much it's worth. But, when the loot is sold, Herbert apparently will split the money with the owner of the field.
HILL: Not bad for an afternoon, huh?
COOPER: Not bad at all, yes.
Up next, this is a story you have to see to believe -- the nightmare for one Arizona couple. Their kids were taken from their house. They were called sex offenders after family pictures were called child porn. With their names cleared, they're now speaking out and fighting back. You will hear from the parents.
And, later, an HIV vaccine shows promise, some good news. Can it prevent the virus? Well, Dr. Sanjay Gupta will help us figure it all out.
We will be right back.
COOPER: In tonight's "Uncovering America" report: an Arizona family torn apart, turned upside down, and nearly destroyed over some photos they took of their own children.
A.J. and Lisa Demaree took what they thought were innocent normal snapshots of their daughters at bath time. Here's one of the pictures. But, to the Wal-Mart employee who processed the prints, they were something else. They saw this as child porn.
The worker notified authorities, who took a look at the pictures and labeled it child erotica and sex exploitation. That's when the nightmare really began. Investigators first raided their house. Then they seized the couple's 18-month-old and 3- and 4-year-old daughters, and put them in protective custody for a month.
For that month, the parents couldn't see their own kids. Eventually, a judge ruled the pictures were not sexually explicit and that the parents were not child pornographers. But the damage was done.
By that time, the parents' names were placed on a sex offender list. And now the Demarees are suing the city, state, and Wal-Mart.
Joining me now is A.J. and Lisa Demaree, and their family's attorney, Richard Treon.
A.J., we're showing four of the photos which you released. There's four others. Can you describe them?
A.J. DEMAREE, PARENT SUING WAL-MART: The four that were not released?
A. DEMAREE: Yes. There's a couple of photos where our daughters had just got out of the bathtub. It was the same time as those other ones that you -- that you were showing.
And they put a towel down on the ground, and they were laying on the ground, wrestling around. We thought it was cute. We ran and grabbed the camera, took a picture of them. It was two of them at a time -- at one time. And then the third one saw, you know, hey, they're getting attention, they're getting pictures. So, she ran and jumped on them.
And, so, they're -- the three of them are kind of laying on their stomachs with their arms around each other and playing, and -- and...
COOPER: And even the pictures -- the pictures that we're showing, how was it that -- one police officer, how did they describe these pictures that we're showing?
A. DEMAREE: They -- he described those photos as child erotica and child pornography.
COOPER: And, Lisa, you got suspended from your job; is that right?
LISA DEMAREE, PARENT SUING WAL-MART: That's correct, for a year.
COOPER: For an entire year?
L. DEMAREE: Yes.
COOPER: It is stunning, A.J., how long this went on for.
I mean, as -- as Lisa said, you kind of expect, you can just say, well, look, you know, here's our family. Here -- our doors are open to you.
You would think this thing could kind of go away in a -- in a couple hours.
A. DEMAREE: Right. Right. That's kind of what -- what we thought all along. And it's really -- I know the pictures have kind of dominated most of the news this past week. And obviously, that's a huge part of it is the pictures and Wal-Mart. But it goes way beyond that.
There were three separate outside entities: the judge, an expert in the field and the guardian ad litem, who is a lawyer that is assigned to represent our children. They all said these photos were innocent family photos.
And, yet, the A.G.'s office and the CPS and the Peoria Police Department continued to prosecute us for -- or persecute us, I'm sorry, for the next eight months.
COOPER: What's your warning to other folks out there?
A. DEMAREE: Our warning is, really, if you have, you know, bath- time family photos, I would not take them to, you know, anyplace to get them processed. Because you never know what somebody's going to see in those photos. There's no, like, you know Wal-Mart, there is no sign that says they're going to turn, you know, your photos over to the police if there's any nudity at all. And so you get shocked by it. You get completely surprised.
COOPER: I want to put up the statement from Wal-Mart. Because one of the reasons you're suing them is for failure to tell you about their policy, which allows them to give pictures to police. And Wal- Mart says, quote, "We recognize that this is an emotional matter for everyone involved, as well as a sensitive situation that we take seriously. Given state law, we believe our associates acted appropriately in notifying authorities, who then made the decision whether to investigate." Just a quick question for your attorney, Richard. Clearly, police and Wal-Mart, you know, have the best interests of the kids at heart. What did they do that was so wrong?
TREON: The issue is, it starts back at the -- Wal-Mart's decision to process your photographs and not to warn you or tell you that "we're going to act as a censor on your photographs. If we see any nudity, without getting your permission, we're going to call the cops and have the cops come and take these, and you may be criminally prosecuted."
COOPER: Lisa and A.J., how are the kids doing? How are you all doing now?
L. DEMAREE: You know, right now with the filing of the lawsuit and the surge of the media, it's bringing about and stirring a lot of emotion in us again.
Our children are very aware of what's going on. Our oldest has some issues, some separation issues, as does our youngest daughter. But, you know, it's difficult. We have a very, very strong network of friends and family. We've got a tremendous amount of support. And we lean on them.
COOPER: Well, A.J. and Lisa, we'll continue to follow the case and appreciate your time tonight. Thank you.
A. DEMAREE: Thank you.
L. DEMAREE: Thank you.
COOPER: As we mentioned, the family is planning multiple lawsuits. It's an unbelievable story for the parents, the kids, and for other people who may think twice about getting their pictures developed.
Let's dig deeper. Joining me now, senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin.
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Just makes you want to scream, the whole thing.
COOPER: It does. I mean, it's understandable that a company, Wal-Mart and police, who obviously want to be very careful about this -- this kind of stuff. These horrible pictures do exist in the world. Where is the line drawn?
TOOBIN: Well, what makes this so frustrating is that each half step in the process is kind of comprehensible.
TOOBIN: Except the result was just madness.
One where -- where I disagree with the lawyer is that -- the idea that Wal-Mart should warn that you it's going to look at the photos. They always look at the photos. And, in fact, I think it's a good thing. If a photo developer sees genuine child pornography, you bet they should report it to authorities. When I was an assistant U.S. Attorney, we had cases that came from photo developers, and they were real cases.
The problem here is the people, both at Wal-Mart and at the Peoria Police Department seem to have perverted minds themselves, to think that these photographs are anything other than ordinary family photos.
COOPER: Once the judge actually saw it, the judge ruled, all right, these photos are totally normal.
Lisa actually had a warning for all parents out there. I just want to play what she said at a press conference.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
L. DEMAREE: Analyze how much control the state has and that they can pull any one of your children out of your home right now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Is she right?
TOOBIN: She is right. Because once you get involved in a subject like child pornography, the bureaucracy takes over. And governments have procedures. And the procedure is, if there's an accusation of child pornography, you don't wait for a conviction. You get the kids out of there, because it's potentially so dangerous.
The problem is the original designation of these photos as child porn. But once a judge or once the process designates them as child porn, the kids have to go.
COOPER: And the kids were away from the home for an entire month. She was suspended from her job. She worked with kids for a year. And was put on a sex offender list, which thankfully now, they've been taken off. But you can understand why they would want to sue.
TOOBIN: You can certainly see why they want to sue. But I think they are likely to have trouble in both of those lawsuits, because Wal-Mart is obligated to report child pornography. They made a mistake here. But the obligation is real.
COOPER: So what's -- what's the lesson to parents, as far as you're concerned?
TOOBIN: Gosh, I mean, you know, the lesson, I guess, if you can, is use a digital camera that you can put on your computer at home and not involve a company.
But I think the lesson is really more, for Wal-Mart and for police departments, is to, you know, know the difference between family photos that 90 percent of the families in America have and genuine child pornography.
COOPER: All right. We'll continue to follow it. Jeff Toobin, appreciate it. Thanks, Jeff.
So what do you think? Let us know? Would you think twice before you send your pictures to a developer? Join the live chat happening now at AC360.com.
Also still ahead, an HIV vaccine finally showing some success. It is the news, good news raising hopes tonight. Three-sixty M.D. Sanjay Gupta has details.
Plus, the investigation into the mysterious death of a census worker found hanging from a tree. The question tonight, was it suicide or murder or what -- something else? We'll be right back.
COOPER: Tonight, a potential breakthrough in the search for an HIV vaccine. For the first time a vaccine to prevent HIV has shown some success. Scientists say the results are modest but encouraging. In an area of research that hasn't had much to celebrate at all, that counts as extraordinary.
Chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta joins me now for more on this HIV vaccine.
Sanjay, just how significant is this?
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, I think for a long time, Anderson, people in the scientific community thought that a vaccine simply wasn't in the cards. And people have been toying around with this idea for a quarter of a century, as you well know, Anderson.
And there have been two large vaccine trials in the past. One showed absolutely no benefit. The second one may have actually made things worse. They found people who received that vaccine may have been more likely to get the HIV infection. So obviously, those were both abysmal failures.
So now you have proof of principle. You have proof that a vaccine could potentially hold an answer. It was modest in terms of benefit, as you said. But the proof of principle is there, Anderson.
COOPER: But it's actually a combination of two vaccines that, as you said, previously failed in trials?
GUPTA: Yeah. And this may be a key -- a key ingredient here. You know, you have that -- when you think about a vaccine, and we've talked about this with regard to other infections, Anderson. Sometimes you get a vaccine it sort of teaches your body's immune system how to fight the infection, should it ever present itself. And sometimes you get a booster shot, as well.
Here you got six shots over a period of six months, four of the one type of vaccine and then two of another type of vaccine. And, you know, that may have played a role in all this. But it was a very different sort of protocol than in the past.
COOPER: And it was, what, some 16,000 or so people in this trial? And what percentage of them remained HIV negative?
GUPTA: Well, and 16,000, you're absolutely right. That's the largest, incidentally, clinical trial when it comes to HIV. So that was -- had the power in numbers to start with. Half of them got a placebo, no vaccine. Half got the vaccine.
And what they found, and the numbers -- you know, you've got to pay attention to them, keeping the context in place -- is that 74 of the people did not receive the vaccine over a period of time, developed HIV, as compared to 51 people who developed HIV who received the vaccine. These were all people, Anderson, who were considered high risk for various reasons.
And so it was -- if you do the math, it was about a 31 percent reduction, about a third reduction in HIV cases because of the vaccine.
COOPER: So why is HIV such a difficult thing to figure out a vaccine for?
GUPTA: It is tricky. It is evasive. And more than anything, I think that this is a -- this is a pathogen, a retrovirus that mutates itself.
Anderson, when you and I were in Africa, we talked about this. Even back, you know, decades ago, there were more than one subtype of HIV. And what we now know is that the virus, the retrovirus can mutate even after it infects somebody. So you may create a perfect vaccine for somebody, but the problem is by the time it's administered, by the time it starts to take effect, the virus that's out there spreading could actually mutate. And then the vaccine has no effect.
COOPER: So it may not have the same effect for people in the United States that it did for those in Thailand?
GUPTA: That's absolutely right. And you may have, ultimately, if this starts moving forward, you may have a Thai HIV vaccine. You may have a North American HIV vaccine. Because we know the HIV virus, retrovirus, is slightly different in different places around the world.
COOPER: And bottom line, will this become available to people soon, or how does that work?
GUPTA: What they'd like to do is create a better vaccine. You know, some would say, look if, it does -- has any effect at all, that's better than nothing. You have 33 million people living with HIV, almost three million new cases a year. Maybe you could help.
But right now, it's still very much in the clinical trials. And I think it will at least be years before it actually becomes available publicly.
COOPER: All right. Dr. Sanjay Gupta, thanks.
If you want some more perspective, go to AC360.com for some answers to frequently asked questions about HIV.
Coming up next, the 360 interview, John McCain speaking out on President Obama's message at the U.N., the war in Afghanistan and even what it's like inside Gadhafi's tent.
And also, new information on Jaycee Dugard, held captive for 18 years. Her lawyer speaking out about Jaycee's mixed emotions now that she is free.
COOPER: Tonight's "360" interview, Senator John McCain. If the election had gone his way last November, he, not President Obama, would be here in New York this week, addressing the U.N., meeting with world leaders, and everybody would be parsing his sentences and handshakes.
Things didn't work out that way, of course, and we wondered how President Obama's speech at the U.N. yesterday played to his former campaign opponent. President Obama setting a much different tone than his predecessor, George W. Bush. That's where we began the exclusive interview tonight.
COOPER: Senator McCain, many conservatives have blasted President Obama over the last two days at the U.N. Former U.N. Ambassador Bolton said of the president's message, it was, quote, "extremely naive." Do you agree?
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: Well, I would like to hear the president mention that American blood and treasure was expended on behalf of Muslims in operation Iraq -- Desert Storm. American -- the same thing was in Kosovo and Bosnia. And we have made sacrifices that we also hope would be recognized by the Arab world in particular but also the entire world.
COOPER: Let's talk about Afghanistan. You support sending more troops. This counterinsurgency strategy, clear, hold and build, clearly requires more troops. Anyone who goes there, we saw that ourselves two weeks ago on the ground in the Helmand province with the Marines.
But the question is, is that the right strategy? In effect, there are a lot of people say we are nation building in Afghanistan. And we're doing it with military personnel instead of civilians and on behalf of a government which is riddled with corruption.
MCCAIN: I think that what we're engaged in is a counterinsurgency, not counterterrorism operational plan. And once we make the areas secure, then the people are able to make progress economically, politically and every other way.
But unless we do what we did in the surge in Iraq, which is clear, hold and secure areas, then it's very difficult to defeat an insurgency.
COOPER: I want to read something to our viewers that you wrote, which I thought was not only extremely well-written, but it was extraordinarily touching. It's something you wrote in a forward to Dave Halberstam's book about Vietnam, "The Best and the Brightest."
You said, and I quote, "It was a shameful thing to ask men to suffer and die, to persevere through God-awful afflictions and heartache, to endure the dehumanizing experiences that are unavoidable in combat, for a cause that the country wouldn't support over time and that our leaders so wrongly believed could be achieved at a smaller cost than our enemy was prepared to make. No other national endeavor requires as much unshakable resolve as war. If the nation and the government lack that resolve, it is criminal to expect men in the field to carry it alone."
I mean, already, the nation, it seems, if you look at polls, have turned against this war. If more troops are sent, won't that trend continue? And do you fear it will end up being, once again, you know, the incredible efforts of our troops in the field bearing this thing alone?
MCCAIN: I worry about that.
I also know that this president is one of the most eloquent presidents in the history of our country. I do know that, when we started this surge in Iraq, Americans were weary there and we were able to succeed.
Americans understandably are weary. I believe in a year to 18 months, we can show them success. And I think, if we can ask them for the patience during this tough period of time.
But we also have to point out that we cannot allow Afghanistan to return to a base for the Taliban, to which would then cause al Qaeda to be able to launch attacks on the United States of America.
COOPER: Do you think the Obama administration has the resolve that's needed, in your opinion, in Afghanistan?
MCCAIN: I have confidence that this president will do the right thing. And he has not given me any reason why -- not to believe that. And I want to do everything I can to support him and -- but I understand how tough this decision is.
COOPER: I just want to end on kind of a light note, on a couple quick lightning-round questions, if I could. I often do this with a lot of different people.
What did you think about Tom DeLay's dancing on "Dancing with the Stars"?
MCCAIN: I'm one of the few Americans that didn't see it. I spared myself.
COOPER: I recommend -- I recommend you check it out on YouTube.
COOPER: What's it like in Moammar Gadhafi's tent?
MCCAIN: It's a -- well, shall I say, a bit bizarre.
COOPER: A bit bizarre.
All right. I appreciate you coming on the program. Thank you very much, Senator.
MCCAIN: Thank you.
COOPER: I should point out I found that -- that quote from Senator McCain in "The Best and the Brightest" by -- in a column by Bob Herbert in "The New York Times."
Tomorrow on 360, another big interview. I'll sit down with former president, Bill Clinton, talk about the U.N. General Assembly, health care, the economy, his trip to North Korea, and a whole lot. More with Afghanistan. A 360 interview, tomorrow night on the program.
Next, a mysterious death in Kentucky. A census worker whose body was found tied to a tree. Was he murdered? Did he take his own life? What about reports that word "Fed" was scrawled across his chest? The latest developments, coming up.
And caught on tape, an American diplomat and a Russian prostitute. Was it a setup, as the State Department says? We have the details.
COOPER: New details tonight about the mysterious death of a census worker whose body was found tied to a tree in Kentucky. The Associated Press is reporting that the word "Fed" was scrawled across his chest. But was the census worker murdered or did he, perhaps, take his own life? There's been a lot of speculation, especially on the Internet and on left-leaning talk shows, saying the man was targeted because he represented the federal government.
We're not interested in opinion, however. We just want to know the facts. What happened and why?
David Mattingly is working the story. He joins us live from Atlanta with the late developments -- David.
DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, state and federal investigators really aren't sure what they're dealing with right now. Twelve days ago they found the body of census worker Bill Sparkman. He had a rope around his neck, and it was tied to a tree limb in a remote area of a national forest. The Associated Press is also reporting that the word "Fed" was written on Sparkman's body.
But tonight none of our sources, neither state nor federal, are willing to confirm that. In fact, they're not willing to confirm that this was a murder at all.
Sources close to the investigation, in fact, tell us just this afternoon they were able to conclude that Sparkman died of asphyxiation. But when they found his body tied to that tree, his feet were on the ground. Not something you usually see in a murder case. But it raises questions about a possible suicide. And that's something that can't be confirmed right now either.
COOPER: What is this area in Kentucky like? I mean, is there a history of anti-government activity there? I also understand there's also a problem with crystal meth in the area.
MATTINGLY: Well, law enforcement tells me they don't have a problem with anti-government activity there. But they say it is known for marijuana growing and methamphetamine production. This is a very remote hilly area of the national forest in a sparsely-populated section of eastern Kentucky.
COOPER: What's the Census Bureau saying about all this?
MATTINGLY: Well, they put -- the director of the Census Bureau sent out an e-mail to employees, saying that Sparkman was the victim of an apparent crime. That was several days ago. Now they're saying they're still waiting to find out from the FBI if there was any foul play involved. And they still have no information that this tragedy was related to Sparkman's job as a census taker.
COOPER: What about the possibility of suicide? Is there any evidence he was troubled or depressed?
MATTINGLY: I talked to friends of his. And they tell me, no, that he wasn't. Sparkman had also worked for years as a substitute teacher at an elementary school. He was liked by the students, always greeted people with a smile. He had undergone chemotherapy for Non- Hodgkin's Lymphoma and had apparently beat the disease. He told his friends that it was in remission, and he seemed, Anderson, like he was happy to be alive.
So not matter how this case turns out, it's going to be a terrible tragedy. And he will be missed.
COOPER: All right. We'll continue to follow this. Obviously, getting a lot of attention for a lot of political reasons and also just interest. We'll keep -- keep on top of it.
David Mattingly, thanks.
Let's get caught up on some of the other stories we're following. Erica Hill has the "360 Bulletin" -- Erica.
ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR: Anderson, the lawyer for Jaycee Dugard says his client has mixed emotions about the arrest of her alleged captors. But realized, quote, "Some bad and terrible things" were done to her.
Police say Philip and Nancy Garrido held Dugard captive for 18 years and that Mr. Garrido fathered her two children. The Garridos have pleaded not guilty.
A video posted on a Russian Web site allegedly shows a U.S. State Department employee having sex with a prostitute. Well, many say it's all part of a smear campaign. In fact, the State Department, a spokesman there, says Brendan Kyle Hatcher is the target of a doctored video. That video appearing on a site that diplomatic sources say has ties to Russia's security services.
Finally, a medal should go to this Indonesian woman. She gave birth to a 19 pound, 2 ounce baby boy.
HILL: Yes. Yes, indeed. He's the heaviest ever recorded in the country. He was born, thankfully, for all involved, by C-section. But apparently, he became so large because the mother had diabetes. Doctors say he is healthy with an equally healthy appetite to match and a loud cry, apparently. Because he's a big kid.
COOPER: Wow. We wish them all the best.
Erica, "The Shot" is next. They say a picture is worth 1,000 words. So what is this one saying?
COOPER: What would Michelle Obama say if she saw it? That's "The Shot" tonight. We'll explain.
And at the top of the hour, breaking news: two terror plots foiled, both targeting buildings and people in the United States. The latest details, coming up.
COOPER: Erica, time for "The Shot." President Obama may have a little explaining to do when the first lady sees this photo. Check it out. Do we have it?
HILL: There it is.
COOPER: The president earlier today, greeting a woman at the U.N. Looks a lot like he's going for a kiss. Eyes closed.
HILL: Greeting, indeed.
COOPER: Exactly. We'll explain what's actually going on. Here's the video of the kiss, which shows it is much different. And, boom. See, there you go.
HILL: Not quite the same there, is it?
HILL: Here it is in slow mo. Just in case...
COOPER: It's amazing when you see a still photo, how it appears one thing, and then the video shows something else. So there you go.
COOPER: Mr. President, if you need a copy of this sent to the White House, let us know. If you think you have big trouble.
You can see all the most recent shots on our Web site, AC360.com.
Ahead at the top of the hour, major late development in the terrorism investigation that has led to three arrests so far. Exclusive surveillance video, allegedly showing one of the suspects buying hydrogen peroxide from a beauty supply store in Colorado. That, plus two unrelated alleged terror arrests today.