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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
John McCain Facing Reelection Challenge; Professor Charged in University Murders
Aired February 15, 2010 - 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: Good evening.
Tonight: Did police miss a shooting years ago that allowed a university professor to allegedly kill again? We're "Keeping Them Honest," new details tonight about the university professor accused of gunning down three colleagues. It turns out she had once shot her brother and allegations of a possible bombing attempt on another colleague.
Also tonight, how is it that the leader of the Republican Party in 2008, John McCain, is facing a tough challenge not from a Democrat but from another Republican? The truth is, his story is repeated across the country -- Republicans getting hammered for not being Republican enough.
Plus, late word tonight about when a court may rule on the 10 American missionaries jailed in Haiti, that and disturbing revelations about their former legal adviser and how that may effect the case. We will talk with the wife of one of those missionaries.
First up tonight: new details in that University of Alabama shooting, a series of bizarre twists that left students and faculty members stunned. A day after a story arrested a biology professor named Amy Bishop -- that's her there -- in the killings of three colleagues, police in Massachusetts reveal that, in '86, she fatally shot her 18-year-old brother and police ruled his death an accident.
Now another surprising story. A Boston newspaper reports the bishop was also a suspect in the 1993 attempted mail bombing of a Harvard medical school professor.
So, did police make a series of past mistakes?
Joe Johns tonight is "Keeping Them Honest."
JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A distinguished Harvard-educated scientist reduced to this. Listen closely. You can hear accused shooter Amy Bishop Anderson responding to questions about the shooting.
QUESTION: Ma'am, do you having anything to say? Do you know about what happened?
AMY BISHOP ANDERSON, DEFENDANT: It didn't happen. There's no way.
QUESTION: What about the people who died?
BISHOP ANDERSON: There's no way. They're still alive.
JOHNS: In fact, three of the shoots victims survived the attack. Three others died. And Anderson, known on campus as Amy Bishop, is charged with capital murder.
Her case seems and sounds almost like an anomaly, because a woman killer with multiple victims is extremely rare.
JACK LEVIN, PROFESSOR OF SOCIOLOGY AND CRIMINOLOGY, NORTHEASTERN UNIVERSITY: Violence is a masculine pursuit in general, but when it comes to mass murders in the workplace, at schools, in the family, it's almost always a man. In fact, this is really a unique occurrence, where a woman on campus kills three people. We just never seen that before.
JOHNS: But, in this case, if the charges are true, it's likely to be less about gender and more about job loss. Her husband, Jim Anderson, told CNN she had been denied tenure at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, where she was working.
LEVIN: People do not understand tenure. You know, they think of it as some guarantee of a job for the rest of your life. But if you're denied tenure, you're fired. You're out of here, and, in this bad economy, you probably won't work again.
JOHNS: But, "Keeping Them Honest," new questions are now being raised about Amy Bishop and whether police in the past missed a potential crime.
In 1986, as a 19-year-old in the Boston area, she shot her brother to death. She was never charged. That shooting was deemed an accident. After this weekend's shooting, police in Boston went looking for the original police report on what happened and couldn't find it, which is pretty hard to explain right now. A search for the records is now under way to shed light on why she wasn't charged.
PAUL FRAZIER, BRAINTREE, MASSACHUSETTS, POLICE CHIEF: I can tell you it reflects poorly, I believe, on the department at that time.
JOHNS: And there's even more. "The Boston Globe" reported that in 1993 in Boston, Amy Bishop and her husband, Jim Anderson, were questioned by investigators after someone sent a pipe bomb that never injured anyone to a Harvard Medical School professor. Again, no charges were ever filed.
So, now the investigation is taking two tracks, finding out whether Amy Bishop actually is guilty of what looks like premeditated murder and finding out whether authorities missed a trail of warning signs dating back 24 years.
Joe Johns, CNN, Washington.
COOPER: Bizarre case, a lot of twists and turns.
Let's dig deeper with CNN legal analyst Lisa Bloom. Does gender play a role in how police interact with a suspect? Does -- does -- would police rule somebody out or are more likely to because they're a woman?
LISA BLOOM, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I think it does now, and I think it did in 1993. And I think it definitely did in 1986. Going back to the first incident, she said that was a 19-year-old girl. She said that it was an accident that she shot her brother, although now, when we look at it, it doesn't seem so accidental.
Multiple shots were fired in different parts of the house. Apparently, she went downstairs. That's where she shot him. The mother was also in the house at the time. Presumably, she spoke to the police. The police exonerated Amy, though. So, maybe they made the right determination at the time. Maybe it wasn't gender bias.
We just don't know. But, if it had been a 19-year-old boy, I think the investigation might have been more thorough.
COOPER: Bizarre, too -- or maybe not so bizarre, but that they cannot find the files for this.
COOPER: That does not speak well certainly for that police department.
BLOOM: Well, that's right. Well, look, they are 24-year-old files. And this was not a criminal case. She wasn't convicted. She wasn't even charged.
And so it's possible it's simple incompetence that the files have been lost and they haven't been retained. But it does look suspicious now, absolutely. Where is that file?
COOPER: It is rare. I mean, now, this current case, she's charged with shooting three people. That, I mean, does seem to be more kind of a workplace violence -- I mean, as the evidence shows at this point.
BLOOM: Right. I think so. I mean, she went postal. That's the phrase that we have coined of people going into their workplace after there's been an adverse employment action. They get very hostile and they shoot up the place.
The question really is, should the University of Alabama have done some more extensive screening? Should they have been aware of her past? But I don't think so. I don't see how they could have been, Anderson, since she wasn't convicted in either case. She wasn't even charged. She wasn't even arrested. She was simply investigated, and, ultimately, they found nothing.
COOPER: And because they found nothing, there wouldn't be background -- nothing would show up in a background check that the University of Alabama would have known about when they hired her, I suppose.
In most background checks, nothing is going to turn up if there's not even an arrest. You can get a very extensive background check. You can hire a private investigator to really look through everything in a person's life before they're hired. But that's unusual. I wouldn't expect a university to do that.
COOPER: And her comments that they're still alive, is that just...
BLOOM: Well, that shows me there may be some mental disorder here and perhaps...
COOPER: Or her wanting people to think there is.
BLOOM: That's true. That's possible as well.
We also know that she went to a shooting range in the days before the shooting. So does that show she was practicing, that she was intending to do this? That would tend to disprove some kind of insanity defense or mental incompetency defense, if she was planning it.
All right, Lisa Bloom, appreciate it. Lisa, thanks very much.
BLOOM: Thanks, Anderson.
COOPER: Let us know what you think about this. Join the live chat right now at AC360.com.
Up next: For months now, the Taliban has been massing in a town called Marjah in Afghanistan. Now American forces are attacking them. It may be the most important battle to date. We're going to tell you why and how the fight is going and bring you some breaking news about a top Taliban commander that may have been captured.
Also, for the first time anywhere, newly revealed footage of President Kennedy's fateful trip to Dallas. Does the video tell us anything new about what happened that day? You can see for yourself.
And the story a lot of folks are talking about. Can someone be too big to fly? Famous director Kevin Smith is not keeping quiet about getting bounced off a Southwest Airlines flight for his weight. He's tweeting. The airline is responding. The country is talking about it. So, are extra-large travelers getting a raw deal or demanding special privileges? The two sides square off tonight.
COOPER: Breaking news tonight: reports the Taliban's top military commander has been captured alive, word that Pakistani and American intelligence forces grabbed the guy who is reported to be second only to Mullah Omar, who leads the Taliban. They grabbed him several days ago in Karachi. The news is just breaking tonight, details being right now being reported by "The New York Times." We're going to have more on this story shortly.
But, first, we want to tell you about what's taking place, a major battle going on inside Afghanistan, the battle for a town called Marjah, U.S. Marines and Afghan forces up against the Taliban, commanders today claiming progress. And "The Times" is reporting a potential breakthrough, the tribal elders saying they're helping fight the Taliban.
Now, that's significant, because, if it's true, the Taliban have -- well, it would be a big influence, because the Taliban have turned Marjah basically into kind of a giant booby-trap. And the tribes, these tribal elders, may know where many of the bombs are buried. So, that could a turning point.
The very latest now from Tom Foreman at the war map -- Tom.
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Anderson.
As we speak tonight, the battlefield remains very fluid out here.
I'm going to fly into the area. Basically, what we know about it is this, as we fly into Marjah and take a look at this community of about 80,000 people. American troops and their allies, including, of course, Afghans, themselves, are making progress.
But as they have swept into this area, it has remained a very dangerous place to be. Here's what happened in the past few days of fighting. The Americans swept in from the southwest, down here, the Brits from the northeast up here, with Afghan forces alongside.
Others were inserted further into the town by helicopters at night and they spread out from that position. This is a sprawling area. And there are many different challenges they're facing here. One of them is right in this area. If we move in and take a look at a bridge going across part of one of the canals in town, many of these canals around. They're worried that many, if not all, of these bridges have been booby-trapped or mined. So, they're having to build their own bridges in many cases to cross all of these canals. And there are many of them.
Two, they're taking great pains to avoid too many civilian casualties. They know that could be a big deal. So, when they encounter a lot of rocket fire or gunfire, they can call in helicopter gunships to help them out, but they have to use this sparingly, because they don't want to alienate the local population with some overwhelming force.
And the third thing here, as always in situations like this, Anderson, they're just not really quite sure how many of the enemy they're facing here. It's an unknown quantity of opponents. They have a guess, but that's all they have right now, Anderson.
COOPER: Yes, Tom, I was there in September with Peter Bergen. And all the Marines talked about Marjah.
And it was basically kind of a no-go zone for the Marines. It was a place that the Marines would hit the Taliban in places and the Taliban would retreat to Marjah. So, they basically had a lot of time to mass there and prepare their defenses, right?
FOREMAN: Absolutely. This is like someone inviting you to fight in their neighborhood. It's a difficult thing.
Let's move in and show you some of the areas here. This is not like some other urban areas, where the buildings are all packed together. They're spread around in many areas like this, with a lot of farm fields in between and walls like this. You can see the shadows of them in many places.
Here's what we know about this, though. Because the Taliban has been there so long, they have mined many roads. They have booby- trapped many buildings. They have dug tunnels. They have hidden weapons. So, even when troops are advancing and they feel like they're having easier progress, they constantly have to be careful that they're not being lured into a trap of snipers, of IEDs, or some other attack they might not be ready for or expecting, Anderson. And that slows down their progress.
COOPER: And that's been the question, whether the Taliban would stand and fight or whether they would dissolve away, as they have so many times in the past.
The U.S. is making a lot of the fact that this has become a key center of operations for the Taliban.
FOREMAN: Yes, this is a spot that matters. They get opium money from here, and they base some operations out of this town.
But I say a spot because there are others. We can't forget the bigger picture here. If we simply widen out and take a look at this, remember, this part of the country, Helmand province, runs right down into Pakistan here. You have to wonder how many of these fighters have moved out here. The Taliban has proven to be a very adaptive group and wily group when they need to be, often going right over into Pakistan, where it has proven difficult to root them out -- Anderson.
All right, Tom, thanks for the details.
I want to bring in CNN national security analyst Peter Bergen, who is author of the book "The Oral History: The Osama bin Laden I Know," also, Robin Wright, a fellow at the U.S. Institute of Peace and author of "Dreams and Shadows: The Future of the Middle East." Peter, first, let's talk about this breaking news, "The New York Times" reporting that this guy named Mullah Baradar, who is basically the second in command, the military commander of the Taliban, second only to the leader of the Taliban, Mullah Omar, has actually been captured. This is a big deal.
PETER BERGEN, CNN TERRORISM ANALYST: A huge deal, arguably more important than Mullah Omar from a military point of view, because Mullah Omar really is more of a religious figure than an operational commander of the Taliban.
This guy also is the number two political figure in the Taliban. The fact that he was discovered in Karachi is very significant. Karachi is the largest city in Pakistan. It's a long way from where the war is being fought, indicates that the Pakistani intelligence services and CIA cooperating very closely on a very high-value target, suggesting that...
COOPER: Well, Peter, doesn't it also kind of give -- make -- give a lie to what the Pakistanis have been saying for ages now, which is that, look, the Taliban is operating in Afghanistan, they're not operating here in Pakistan?
If you have the number-two guy of the Afghan Taliban in Karachi, that certainly seems to indicate a heavy presence inside Pakistan itself.
Well, it's a good news/bad news story. The bad news is that these guys have been in Pakistan all along. The good news is that...
BERGEN: ... the politics are shifting around this issue in the last year or so, and the Pakistani government and military are basically -- they realize they created a Frankenstein monster that's begun to attack them and they're willing to not only move against the Pakistani Taliban, but with this news tonight, against the Afghan -- so-called Afghan Taliban, which is in fact headquartered in Pakistan.
COOPER: So, Robin, what do you make of this?
When -- when -- let's talk about what's going on in Marjah. When Peter and I were there in September, everyone said Marjah is going to be the big battle. And what -- what basically they were planning to do was go in and not leave like they have so often before in the past, but actually go in and stay and kind of bring in what they're calling a government in a box to basically try to take over operations and show the locals that the central Afghan government actually can function and care about them. It's kind of an ambitious plan.
ROBIN WRIGHT, FELLOW, U.S. INSTITUTE OF PEACE: It's an ambitious plan, but it's clearly the only way the United States will ever be able to find an exit strategy out of Afghanistan. This is the kind of plan that should have been tried a long time ago.
It's taken eight years to recognize that you need something beyond just the physical elimination of your military opposition. You have to create an alternative economically for the people on the ground, so that they support the national government. And so this is a beginning. This will be a very important test case to find out if the new U.S. strategy will work.
COOPER: And, Peter, how tough are the rules of engagement? We have heard complaints from some Marines about, look, you know, the idea here is protecting civilians. Civilians are actually the goal here, not so much the town, itself, or any amount of land. It's protecting civilians and showing that they're a priority.
And, yet, that also makes for -- I mean, it makes it difficult to fight, because inevitably, you know, there's going to be civilian casualties.
BERGEN: Well, there have been two the last year or so.
General McKiernan, before General McChrystal, and now General McChrystal, they keep tightening up the rules of engagement, making it harder and harder to call in airstrikes, which is absolutely imperative, because the issue that most angers Afghans is Afghan civilian casualties. It's just something that drives them ballistic.
And we have had, because of the lack of boots on the ground in Afghanistan, there's been an over-reliance on airstrikes. In fact, in Iraq, there were far fewer airstrikes than in Afghanistan, precisely because there was not enough boots on the ground. Now you have got more boots on the ground. You're actually less reliant on airstrikes.
COOPER: Robin, "The New York Times" is reporting that this Taliban military commander is basically being interrogated -- the interrogation is being led by Pakistanis, but also that U.S. officials are involved.
Obviously, you know, that raises issues of how this guy is going to be dealt with, because the U.S. now says they don't torture. Pakistan obviously has a history of being pretty tough with people they have in custody.
What kind of intelligence could this guy possibly give?
WRIGHT: Well, one of the important things to recognize, that, while he's a huge catch in terms of understanding the organization as it's in total, the Taliban is in many ways a decentralized force, and it's not necessarily that he is going to be involved in knowing what every single unit on the ground is doing.
The critical issue is how much will he talk and provide information on where other assets are, potentially where the Taliban in Pakistan are, and, of course, the United States would love to know where Osama bin Laden, himself, is.
BERGEN: Not to mention Mullah Omar. COOPER: Peter -- go ahead, Peter.
BERGEN: Not to mention Mullah Omar, who, after all, is one Mullah Baradar's boss, and would have a -- he might well know where Mullah Omar is.
These guys are in constant contact. Now, that kind of information is pretty perishable. "The Times" has sat on this issue since Thursday because of the issue of not letting this being -- being out there.
COOPER: Right. The White House asked them to not publish this story until word had kind of leaked out in the region. And "The New York Times" agreed to that, because they didn't want operational intelligence that they may get from this guy to be blown by this story getting out.
BERGEN: But, clearly, this guy, as Robin points out, he is not going to know -- the Taliban is a decentralized group.
But the Quetta Shura, which runs the southern Taliban, the one that's doing the operation in Marjah, the one that's in Helmand, the one that's in Kandahar in the south, is run by essentially Mullah Omar and this guy.
And, so, certainly, in terms of the information about the southern Afghanistan operations of the Taliban, this guy is potentially a gold mine. I suspect he's not being read his Miranda rights by these Pakistani people who are interrogating him.
COOPER: Yes, no doubt about that.
WRIGHT: And one of the big questions of course, is...
COOPER: Go ahead.
WRIGHT: One of the big questions, of course, is, what are they going to do with him? They can't take him to Guantanamo Bay. Are the Pakistanis going to prosecute him?
What do you do with this guy once you have finished with the interrogation?
COOPER: Robin, we have got to leave it there.
Robin Wright, Peter Bergen, thank you very much on the breaking news.
Just ahead tonight: why a brand-name Republican like John McCain in a Republican-leaning state in what seems to be a Republican year is facing jeopardy at the voting booth for -- get this -- not being Republican enough? Also tonight, director Kevin Smith bumped off a Southwest Airlines flight. They said he was too fat to fly in just one seat. It set off a big debate. We have got both sides. You can decide for yourself.
We will be right back.
COOPER: The latest on those 10 American missionaries in Haiti and the bizarre twist as their legal adviser is, himself, accused of running an international sex trafficking ring and crimes against kids. What does that mean for the detained Americans? We will talk to the wife of one of those detained missionaries ahead on the program.
But, first, we're following some other important stories.
Poppy Harlow joins us with a 360 bulletin -- Poppy.
POPPY HARLOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, yet another tragedy in Haiti. Four children died this morning, another child was injured when their classroom ceiling collapsed in the northern town of Cap-Haitien. A police official says a boulder fell on the schoolroom after heavy rains overnight.
And, in Vancouver, prayers and candles today at a memorial service for an Olympic luger. Nodar Kumaritashvili died on Friday when he crashed into a steel pole during a training run. His body is now on the way home to his hometown in the Republic of Georgia.
And tough words from Hillary Clinton about Iran at a meeting in Qatar. The secretary of state said she believes the Islamic republic is moving toward a military dictatorship. Clinton also urged countries around the world to unite to stop Iran's nuclear program.
And just in time for President's day, a replica of President Barack Obama, in wax, of all things, unveiled at Madame Tussaud's on the Las Vegas Strip.
The president in the flesh, Anderson, will be in Las Vegas later this week -- no word, yet, though, whether he will make an official visit to meet his alter ego.
Anderson, I don't know. Would you go see yourself in wax?
COOPER: I don't think -- no. I think I would melt. I would be, like, so pasty and pale-looking. I think it would be unpleasant.
HARLOW: Yes. You're looking a little tan. OK.
Well, it's time for our "Beat 360" winner. It's our daily challenge to viewers to show up our staffers by coming up with a better caption for the photo that we put on the blog every day. So, let's take a look at the picture -- the photo, an old English sheepdog sitting backstage during the first day of the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show held every year at Madison Square Garden in New York.
So, our staff winner tonight is Marshall. His caption: "Happening now, you're in THE SITUATION ROOM" -- Marshall I think implying that somehow the dog looks like Wolf Blitzer. I don't see any parallel.
COOPER: Wolf, send your criticism to Marshall.
Our viewer winner is Brian. His caption: "Please forgive my disheveled appearance. I got stuck next to @ThatKevinSmith on the plane getting here."
Hey, Brian. Yikes. Topical. Thanks very much. Your "Beat 360" T-shirt is on the way.
COOPER: Up next: what could be -- yes -- what could be a massive blow to Democrats and the president this fall -- why a popular Democratic senator decided to step down and why he's slamming his soon-to-be-former colleagues, and the shockwaves that decision is causing.
Also tonight, what new film footage of President Kennedy in Dallas shows about that fateful day. We will bring it to you for the first time.
COOPER: Well, talk about a shocker. A guy who is up double digits in a recent poll against his leading rival, with $13 million to spend on the campaign, in a state where he's well-liked and almost universally known, is calling it quits.
We're talking about Indiana's Democratic Senator Evan Bayh announcing today he's not seeking a third time. He went out slamming the lack of bipartisanship in Washington, says he loves working for the people of Indiana, but does not love Congress. The institution, he said, simply is not working.
Senator Bayh blames some of the growing partisanship on left-wing bloggers, but there's plenty of partisanship and acrimony all over the political map these days, as we all know.
All this week, we're going to be looking at conservative activists who are going after some big-name GOP politicians for not being conservative enough. It's part of our week long series "Not Republican Enough." We start with former Arizona Congressman J.D. Hayworth, who today launched a primary challenge to none other than Senator John McCain.
Randi Kaye has the story.
RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): J.D. Hayworth, a former-congressman-turned-radio-talk-show-host-turned-Senate- candidate, is the latest in a long line of Republicans painting his opponent as not Republican enough. His target, John McCain, a 24-year veteran of the Senate. His target? John McCain, a 24-year veteran of the Senate.
J.D. HAYWORTH (R), ARIZONA SENATORIAL CANDIDATE: We simply say, thank you for your service, John McCain, but three decades in Washington is long enough.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
KAYE: We came to Phoenix to tag along with Hayworth on his first full day of campaigning. Back in the car, he described the matchup.
HAYWORTH: This is a contest between a conservative who is consistent and a moderate who calls himself a maverick.
KAYE: Hayworth builds himself as a, quote, "consistent conservative," a stance that plays well these days around the country.
In Florida, former state lawmaker Marco Rubio, a conservative, is giving Governor Charlie Crist a run for his money. Senator Scott Brown played to the far right and to independents, which helped him get elected recently in Massachusetts. Both Brown and Tea Party favorite Sarah Palin, are stumping for McCain, who makes no apologies for his voting record.
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: I stood up for the surge when everybody said, "You're crazy," that it would be the end of my political ambitions.
KAYE (on camera): So does that make you Republican enough?
MCCAIN: Well, I think that certainly I've been conservative enough.
KAYE (voice-over): Hayworth argues McCain is playing to the right to hold onto his seat. He sees it as a, quote, "conservative transition."
(on camera) Would you say you've trickled over to the right to woo conservative voters?
MCCAIN: I've always been the same, and I will always be the same.
KAYE (voice-over): For fun, between campaign stops, we asked Hayworth to play a game of word association.
(on camera) Congress.
KAYE (voice-over): The candidates are slugging it out over your money. Both say the other voted for billions of dollars in earmarks.
MCCAIN: Republicans lost control of Congress in 2006 and 2008 because we let spending get completely out of control. J.D. Hayworth was part of that. I was not.
KAYE (on camera): Are you more fiscally conservative than Mr. Hayworth?
MCCAIN: Of course. Of course. I've never given an earmark.
KAYE (voice-over): Hayworth campaigned for McCain in the 2000 presidential race but says the McCain of 2010 is very different than the McCain of 2000.
The chairman of the Maricopa County Republican Party, a Hayworth supporter, takes the attack against McCain even further.
ROB HANEY, CHAIRMAN, MARICOPA COUNTY REPUBLICAN PARTY: I hardly think he's Republican. I think he actually belongs to the Democrat Party, to tell you the truth.
KAYE (on camera): The crowds here at J.D. Hayworth's events may not be huge, but in the crowd at every stop, Tea Partiers who say they want their country back. J.D. Hayworth is banking on them for their support.
Tea Partiers want smaller government, lower taxes, and more freedom. J.D. Hayworth says he can deliver that and much more.
Why are Tea Partiers key to a win for you?
HAYWORTH: Because they represent the awakened Americans. They're tired of just sitting in the living room shouting at the television set. Now they understand what is at stake for their future, for their children's future, and now you see awakened Americans becoming involved Americans.
KAYE (voice-over): A building intensity among conservative activists nationwide. A wave J.D. Hayworth hopes to ride from Arizona to Washington.
Randi Kaye, CNN, Phoenix.
COOPER: Well, by the way, Senator McCain's old sidekick, Joe the plumber, will not be campaigning for him this time around, telling a radio reporter over the weekend, and I quote, "He really screwed my life up."
David Gergen, senior political analyst, joins me now.
David, I'm not going to ask about the -- Joe the plumber. But we're going to talk about John McCain in a moment, who's obviously fighting hard to keep his Senate seat. But let's talk about Democrat Evan Bayh.
Were you surprised by his decision to drop out? Though there had been a lot of speculation about it in the last year. But by the decision, by the timing of it and also how he did it, what he said about Congress.
DAVID GERGEN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I was surprised by his decision to leave, Anderson. This is not routine. He's the 11th sitting senator. Five Democrats, six Republicans have said they're going to end their careers this -- with this term. So -- but this is much more than a routine announcement.
This was a young, bright shining star of the Democratic Party for a long time. Three times he was under some consideration for a vice- presidential spot. He was on the short list for Barack Obama.
But more than that he represented, I think, one of the leading lights among moderates in this Senate. When you talk about gridlock and Washington, he was one of the senators you could say, he's not part of the problem. He's part of the answer. And so when he leaves, it diminishes yet, once again, that center and makes it that much more difficult to break out of this gridlock that Paul Volcker on CNN this weekend called the worst he's ever seen in this lifetime.
So this is a blow, I think, to good governance as well as a blow to the Democratic Party.
COOPER: I want to play for our viewers some of what he had to say in dropping out.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. EVAN BAYH (D), ILLINOIS: There's much too much partisanship and not enough progress. Too much narrow ideology and not enough practical problem solving. Even at a time of enormous national challenge, the people's business is not getting done.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: I mean, I think most people would agree with that, whether you're on the left or the right or somewhere in the middle. What does this mean for President Obama? If you're sitting in the White House, this has got to be cause for big concern.
GERGEN: Well, it is cause for concern. Certainly, in that this is one more seat that is now very much in play this fall. And it's -- there is a growing possibility that goes beyond mathematics now that the Republicans could actually pull off a huge upset and take back the Senate. Still think it's unlikely. Still got to gain ten seats.
But this -- Indiana -- Charlie Cook, who is sort of the guru of thinking about these races, has moved Indiana, as a result of today, from leaning Democratic to leaning Republican. So that's a concern for President Obama.
The president has a serious interest in trying to put together bipartisan coalitions. Evan Bayh was one of the guys you could count on, especially on spending. Evan Bayh had become sort of an informal chairman, if you like, of a group of centrist Democrats in the Senate who were trying to work on the commission.
So I -- it should be noticed, Anderson, as well, that Evan Bayh had a voting record -- he had the highest record -- highest amount of opposition of any Democratic senator to President Obama. So in that sense, there may be a silver lining. But that also shows how far he thinks the president has veered left.
COOPER: And just briefly on John McCain.
GERGEN: Sure. He could be. You know, no one took Scott Brown seriously early on. Look, he came out of anywhere.
So -- but it's -- I think what's really interesting is Sarah Palin is not going on the side of the more conservative challenger but is endorsing John McCain. She's going to go out and campaign for him. Whereas in a place like Kentucky, she was campaigning -- she's campaigning for Rand Paul, who is the Tea Party candidate, and she's campaigning for Rick Perry in Texas, who is a more conservative candidate. She hasn't endorsed Rubio in Florida. But in most cases she's on the side of the more conservative.
Here, she's supporting her old running mate. And that could turn back the challenge coming from the far right.
COOPER: Right. We're actually going to talk to Rand Paul tomorrow and profile him. Obviously, he's the son of Ron Paul. Interesting discussion tomorrow on 360.
David, thanks. Join the live chat right now at AC360.com.
Just ahead, the man who passed himself off as a lawyer to American missionaries jailed in Haiti is himself charged with sex trafficking. The question: how much did the Americans know about him before they brought him on as an adviser? What do the charges against him mean for their case? We'll talk to the wife of one of the Americans being held.
Plus, a great weight debate. Are some people too fat to fly? Director Kevin Smith tweeting about getting kicked off a flight on Southwest Airlines. A lot of folks talking about it. We want to know what you think. Text your name and question to us at AC360 or 22360. As always, standard rates apply.
COOPER: An unexpected and bizarre turn of events for ten American missionaries still being held in a Haiti prison. A judge couldn't rule on their bail today because of quake-related power problems. The group faces charges of kidnapping and criminal association for trying to take 33 kids out of Haiti.
Tonight, however, it's not the plight of the jail missionaries that's in the spotlight. It's their lawyer that everybody seems to be talking about. His name is Jorge Puello. First of all, it turns out he's not a lawyer, and he's being accused of running an international sex trafficking ring that apparently lured women and girls from the Caribbean and Central America into prostitution with offering of modeling jobs.
An international arrest warrant has his name on it, a warrant that includes crimes against kids. Puello denies the charges, though he admits he lied about being a lawyer and about his identity.
All of this is a huge unwanted distraction for the jailed missionaries and, of course, for their families. Jim Allen is one of those detained Americans. His wife, Lisa, joins me now, along with Hiram Sasser, the director of litigation for the Liberty Institute.
I appreciate you both being with us.
Lisa, first of all, how are you doing? How are you holding up with all this?
LISA ALLEN, HUSBAND DETAINED IN HAITI: I'm just -- day-by-day, it's been -- it's been very -- it's been tough, and we're just ready to get him home.
COOPER: And you haven't been able to talk to him, though I understand you finally just were able to talk to him. What was that conversation like?
ALLEN: Well, it was great to hear his voice. But I have to say it was a very, very short conversation. But it was nice to be able to hear him. He sounded good, and he told me he was OK.
COOPER: I think it's important for a lot of folks to realize how your husband ended up going down there. Essentially, your husband knows a lot about construction and had seen -- knew what was going on in Haiti and just wanted to do something good. He didn't actually know Laura Silsby at all, did he?
ALLEN: No. He did not.
COOPER: So he basically is just part of a church group and just, I mean, wanted to do the right thing, and just went down there believing he was going to be involved in helping kids, right?
ALLEN: Well, he was going to help construct, repair, you know, whatever the need would be in that area. That's what he -- that's where he -- his talents come in.
COOPER: And Hiram, what are you hearing on the legal end about what's going on, on the ground?
HIRAM SASSER, DIRECTOR OF LITIGATION, LIBERTY INSTITUTE: Well, right now we're waiting on the prosecutor to get -- to get the power back on and be able to print his recommend so the judge -- you know, because last Thursday the evidence that the judge transmitted to the prosecutor clearly exonerated Jim Allen, and we're just waiting for his release.
COOPER: Right. And a Haitian government -- a Haitian official who was involved with the legal process there told me last week -- I think it was on Thursday night or Wednesday night, even -- he said he thought two of them would be released last week, and he thought six would be released this week. Obviously, Jim would have been one of those eight. But obviously, that hasn't happened.
SASSER: Yes. It's really unfortunate that this -- that this process is just dragging on and on. Now we're in a situation where we have an innocent American who's been cleared, and now he just -- he just needs to be able to come home to his family. And we're just hopeful that people can learn more at BringJimHome.com.
COOPER: Lisa, obviously the last thing you need or any one of these American families need is this Puello guy, who turns out to, apparently, according to international authorities, have a pretty shady background.
Did you ever talk to him? Or did you have a sense about -- did you have a sense about him when you heard that he had been hired by the church?
ALLEN: You know, I don't know him at all, and I had asked some questions. What do we know about him? And when I didn't get satisfactory answers, I decided to get Jim his own attorney. And it was last Tuesday when I talked to Jim that I told him that, that Gary Lissade was representing him.
COOPER: Well, it certainly seems the right choice you made.
Hiram, what comes next? I mean, basically, you guys are just waiting. Have you given thought to going down there? Would that just add -- make things more confusing?
SASSER: Well, the great thing is -- is that we have an excellent team of attorneys from Rumor Hill (ph) and here at the Liberty Institute, and also we have the former minister of justice, Gary Lissade. He's our attorney in Haiti. He's a fabulous attorney with a great reputation down there.
He really has just been working, working and working and working. Everything that needs to be done in order to be able to bring Jim home. I think Gary probably, the former minister of justice of Haiti, believes very strongly that Jim Allen has just got to be released and got to be released now.
COOPER: Well, Lisa, I know there are a lot of folks around the world praying for you and for Jim and wishing you well. We'll continue to follow. Lisa Allen, thank you for being with us. And Hiram Sasser, as well.
SASSER: Thank you, Anderson. We appreciate it.
COOPER: All right. Coming up next, a story that a lot of people have been focusing on today, certainly a lot of people talking about: whether some people are just too fat to fly or at least sit in one seat.
Southwest Airlines kicked a director named Kevin Smith off a flight this weekend, saying he was too big. Were they right or was that discrimination? We're going to hear from both sides of the debate ahead. You can text your name and question if you want to AC360 or 22360. And of course, standard rates apply. Be right back.
COOPER: Tonight Southwest Airlines is scrambling to make amends after booting film director Kevin Smith from his flight on Saturday. The reason, according to airline officials, was for the, quote, "safety and comfort of all customers."
Smith, who perhaps not coincidentally has a film coming out soon, admits that he usually buys two seats, but when he decided to go stand by -- stand by on an earlier flight, only one seat was available. Now, he says he could fasten his seat belt and lower his arm rest, but nevertheless he was forced to give up his seat.
He immediately turned to Twitter, blasting the airline. He said, "Dear Southwest Air, I know I'm fat." Smith then went on to ask if the captain was, quote, "really justified in throwing me off a flight in which I was already seated?"
Southwest has since apologized twice, even while defending its policy. The question, though, remains: can a person be too fat to fly?
Joining us now is Peggy Howell of the National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance, and Meme Roth, president of National Action Against Obesity. I appreciate both of you being with us.
Peggy, do you buy that this was for the, as the airline said, the safety and comfort of all customers? PEGGY HOWELL, NATIONAL ASSOCIATION TO ADVANCE FAT ACCEPTANCE: No, I'm sorry. I don't buy that. Kevin was already seated, arm rests down, seat belt fastened, which are the criteria that Southwest says a passenger must meet. And the ladies on each side of him were asked if they felt encroached upon or interfered with or inconvenienced, and they said no. So I don't know why he was removed.
COOPER: So -- so you're saying it's discrimination?
COOPER: Meme, what about that? Discrimination?
MEME ROTH, NATIONAL ACTION AGAINST OBESITY: You know, Southwest Airlines is a customer-centric airline. They have no upside in going after a famous director. I don't think there's any airline employee who ever wants to have that kind of conversation.
We have to trust the judgment of the professionals. If they observe anything that could compromise the safety of the passengers, they've got to act upon it. They have one priority: wheels up, wheels down, everybody's safe. And the reality is, if they saw something that wasn't safe, they had to take action.
Imagine if something had gone wrong. Imagine if they'd let him fly because they're a big fan of his, and something had gone right with his seat. It was not able to stay in it's locked and upright position. Because when someone's oversized, it has a tendency to press against that release.
Or if he blocked the row. Or if there was a part of him hanging out into the aisle. These are compromises to safety, and we would expect an airline to do something about it.
They gave him a $100 voucher. I've never been given a $100 voucher for fitting in my seat.
COOPER: This airline, this policy has been in place for 25 years. Just about all airlines have now a similar policy and, I mean, if -- if it bothers another passenger or has the potential to bother another passenger, whether -- I mean, if somebody is, you know, sitting next to -- I mean, if they asked -- you said they asked the people on either side of him, though I don't know if they did that in front of him and if people felt OK...
HOWELL: He reported it.
COOPER: He reported it.
COOPER: I mean, do you -- do you think it's -- I mean, it certainly could inconvenience another passenger if somebody is larger than their seat and encroaching on their seat, no?
HOWELL: I agree that that could inconvenience -- inconvenience other passengers, but in this case it was not inconveniencing anyone. They said it was not.
But, you know, Meme says he could be hanging out in the aisle. Since he's in the middle seat that's a little difficult to understand how he might be hanging out into the aisle.
ROTH: The airline -- the airline...
HOWELL: I didn't interrupt you. I would appreciate if you didn't interrupt me.
COOPER: Let her finish. Let her finish. Go ahead.
HOWELL: Thank you. Thank you very much.
I have a personal friend who was in a similar situation, and she bought the second -- was forced, pulled out of line, waiting to board, and forced to buy a second seat. She told them that she could get the arm rests down and her seat belt fastened, didn't need an extender and had never needed a seat -- an extra seat prior to that, but they forced her to.
Once everyone was boarded, then they came back and took her seat away from her and sold it to someone else. Now, that's not just discrimination, that's being bullied.
ROTH: Well, there's a couple things...
COOPER: Meme, the average -- Meme, the average coach seat, airlines seat, is only 17 inches, which, you know, I mean they're small for just about everybody. There's a Text 360 question we got from a viewer in Monroe County, Florida, who says, "Why don't airlines cater to people of larger weight? They accommodate the handicapped."
So there's some people who say, look, airlines should have some bigger seats set aside for people who are larger sized and charge more for them if necessary.
ROTH: What they're really expecting us to do is subsidize the lifestyle choices of those...
HOWELL: No, we're not.
ROTH: ... who habitually eat improperly.
HOWELL: No, we're not.
COOPER: Don't interrupt Meme now. Let Meme say her piece, and then -- we don't need to talk over each other.
Meme, go ahead.
ROTH: Kevin Smith is a talented comedic director and writer. He said just over a year ago that his weight gotten so out of control that he broke a toilet. You mentioned earlier, Anderson, that he regularly buys two seats.
In this situation, he tried to fly standby. He didn't buy the typical two seats because they weren't available.
We can't expect lifestyle choices to be subsidized by other passengers. We can't expect -- expect the safety of other passengers to be compromised as a result of lifestyle choices. He has a right to do whatever he wants. We can't be expected to subsidize those decisions.
COOPER: Peggy, go ahead.
HOWELL: Well, he said and was very clear about the fact that he can fit very easily into one seat and not violate any rules. His reason for buying -- his reason for buying a second seat was because he doesn't like a stranger being up next to him. In this particular case he wanted to get home earlier, so he was willing to cooperate with that and take only the one seat.
COOPER: Peggy, do you support the notion -- Peggy, do you support the notion of larger seats set aside by an airline that people would pay more for?
HOWELL: I absolutely do. And in fact, there is a designer of airline interiors and airline seats right now, an engineer who's working on -- has already...
COOPER: Obviously that's a money decision by the airlines.
HOWELL: Right, exactly.
ROTH: Meme, I want to give you just the final thought.
ROTH: Look, we can't expect ourselves to have to cover the costs of those who refuse to eat a healthful selection of foods. And that's what this is about. The guy doesn't eat healthfully. He admits to it. He wasn't able to buy two seats.
If you need to buy two seats -- if you need to use two seats, you need to buy two seats. That wasn't an accommodation the airline could make in this instance.
But Southwest always tries to do the right thing, as do all the airlines. I think it was, you know, a good move on their part to apologize. Kevin Smith wasn't having it, and he does have that movie coming out. I think that's a big part of this.
COOPER: Meme Roth, Peggy Howell, both, I appreciate your perspectives. Thank you very much.
Up next, new never-before-seen video of President John F. Kennedy in Dallas on the morning of his assassination.
Plus, a giant wave washing over spectators at a surf contest in California. We've seen this video a lot, but I've got to tell you, it's unbelievable. The story behind the pictures in a moment.
COOPER: Let's get a quick update on some of the other stories we're following. Poppy Harlow has a "360 Bulletin" -- Poppy.
POPPY HARLOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, astonishing new footage of John F. Kennedy surfaces after more than four decades. The never-before-seen film captures a smiling president and first lady as they arrived in Dallas on November 22, 1963, of course the day of his assassination. The footage was shot by a 15-year-old. It was made public today by a museum in Dallas.
And more bad news for Toyota. The company -- many complaints for that company about faulty vehicles. They are skyrocketing, those complaints, bringing the alleged death toll to 34 since 2000. Toyota has recalled 8.5 million vehicles over the past four months. The latest complaints, involving nine crashes and 13 deaths, have not yet been verified.
And French officials today issued an arrest warrant for U.S. cyclist Floyd Landis. You may recall, Landis was stripped of his Tour de France title in 19 -- in 2006, rather, under suspicion of doping. He's now accused of hacking an anti-doping lab's computer system to defend against those charges.
And a powerful and unexpected wave wiped out spectators at the Maverick surf competition in Half Moon Bay, California, over the weekend. Most escaped with minor injuries, but three fans were hospitalized with broken bones, Anderson. Amazing footage.
And you know what? The officials actually spend months looking for waves big enough for this competition. They didn't expect anything like this one, I bet.
COOPER: Yes, yes. Crazy pictures.
COOPER: What a surprise.
We go from a dangerous wave to a dangerous attack. Sort of. Here's tonight's "Shot." A pelican at an Australian zoo. That's right, dramatic animal video.
A pelican at an Australian zoo going after a reporter during a live weather newscast. This is like a live shot of Haiti.
HARLOW: Yes. Yes, amazing. You've seen a lot, Anderson. Have you ever seen something like that or been attacked by a pelican?
COOPER: No. Although frankly, the guy could have run away. I don't know about -- he was just kind of sitting there.
HARLOW: He kind of liked it. I really think he did. It gives you something to work up for, something to find -- find a pelican in the field one day, right?
COOPER: Yes, well, wow. Certainly seems rather excited. All right. There you go.
Poppy, thanks very much for being with us tonight.
We do have a lot more ahead at the top of the hour. Stay tuned. We'll be right back.