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Goldman Sachs Accused of Fraud; National Day of Prayer Unconstitutional?

Aired April 16, 2010 - 22:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Tonight: Wall Street powerhouse Goldman Sachs accused of fraud, suspected of lying to the people who trusted it.

The government says Goldman defrauded investors, concealing the truth about the value of those subprime mortgages that many believe triggered the economic collapse. We're "Keeping Them Honest" tonight.

Also tonight, at the volcano. Gary Tuchman is in Iceland, where ash continues to rise into the air, causing chaos in the sky, thousands of flights still canceled, airports closed. Gary will have a live 360 dispatch head.

And Jack Kevorkian, the man called Dr. Death, is out of jail, off parole, and freely speaking out about what he did and about what he says other doctors should do.


JACK KEVORKIAN, ASSISTED SUICIDE ADVOCATE: I didn't do it to end a life. I did it to end the suffering the patient's going through. The patient's obviously suffering. What's a doctor supposed to do, turn his back? If he is -- if he's a coward, he is.


COOPER: Part two of the "Big 360 Interview" tonight with Dr. Kevorkian.

But, first up, "Keeping Them Honest" on Wall Street.

Many Americans have long believed that Wall Street -- and I'm talking about the big firms, those bankers who make millions in bonuses -- basically do what they want to get rich, no matter how, no matter who's hurt, and only rarely are they ever held accountable.

Well, today, Goldman Sachs, which had profits $13.4 billion last year, and, for the most part, has escaped blame for the meltdown, was accused of fraud. I want to point out they have only been accused at this point. The SEC says the firm knowingly sold toxic bonds to investors, bonds which would become nearly worthless within a year.

According to the SEC, the bonds that Goldman sold to investors were picked mainly by a hedge fund, a hedge fund that was also betting the subprime mortgage market would collapse. The SEC says Goldman never told the investors about the deal with the hedge fund. And, in the end, investors were wiped out, losing $1 billion.

The hedge fund, however, pocketed $1 billion in profits, and Goldman picked up millions in fees.

The transactions they're talking are confusing. So, I want to bring in our own Ali Velshi right now to help explain more -- Ali.

ALI VELSHI, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, you're right, it is confusing.

Let me try and give you a little more light on this one. The hedge fund that you're talking about at a company Paulson and Company -- no relation to the former treasury secretary -- let's just replace Goldman Sachs and these bonds. Let's treat Goldman Sachs as if it were an antique car dealer, an exotic car dealer, and they're selling '57 Chevys, all right?

So, they have got these two '57 Chevy in the shop on the left and right. They are what you would expect from '57 Chevys. They have got a few dings on them. Some of the parts are really good. Some are not.

Now, let's just say that this Paulson and Company, this hedge fund company we're talking about, walks into that dealership and says, I will take this car as long as you take all the bad parts out of it, put it in the other car, and take all the good parts out of the other car and put it in this one.

So, now what happens is, you have got one of these two '57 Chevys that's got great parts in it, and it's all shiny and new. The other one's battered up, and it's got bad parts in it, OK?

Let's move forward. Now the dealership, Goldman Sachs, as we're calling it -- and this is all what's alleged. Nothing's been proven. This is what the SEC says. Basically, the dealership has sold that one shiny new car. They take the other car with all the bad parts in it, and they shine it up. They make it look like the same car, and they sell it as if it's a good car that's likely to work with a normal amount of good and bad parts in it.

That is what the SEC alleges happened, that -- that -- that, basically, they took this pile of bad stuff and sold it to investors as if it was a -- a stable investment that might have gone up or might have gone down, knowing full well that it was not going to appreciate in value and that someone had done something to that pile of stuff to make it lack value.

And that's basically what the allegation is, that Goldman sold unworthy stuff to people who were buying it as if it was a normal investment. And it is those residential mortgage-backed securities, those bonds, that you're talking about.

COOPER: And, for all these accusations, the money they're accused of making is $15 million, which...

VELSHI: Very little, very little. COOPER: ... for Goldman Sachs, isn't a lot of money for a transaction.

VELSHI: I would guess they make more out of their vending machines. That's exactly the point.

Did they -- the question here is, did Goldman knowingly sell a bad investment to its unsuspecting investors, without saying, someone is betting against this investment actively, so it is likely to lose value? That's what the question is.

COOPER: All right, Ali, appreciate it. Thanks very much.


COOPER: In a statement today, Goldman Sachs called the SEC allegations completely unfounded.

My next guest believes Goldman rigged the market to get rich. Matt Taibbi is the national affairs editor for "Rolling Stone." He wrote a scathing article on the company. He joins us, along with legal analyst Sunny Hostin.

Thanks for being with us, both of you.

Matt, you have accused Goldman Sachs of a lot of shady behavior, but you say that what they're accused of right now is even worse than you thought.

MATT TAIBBI, NATIONAL AFFAIRS EDITOR, "ROLLING STONE": Yes, back in the summer, I wrote an article. And, basically, what I wrote is, I said that Goldman was betting against its clients.

And, at the time, all I really knew is that, at a certain point in time, the Goldman was short the housing market. They were short mortgage-backed securities. At the same time, they were selling these same sorts of instruments to their clients.

This is actually a step worse than that. The allegation here is that they got together with this guy Paulson and they conspired to basically make a giant ball of crap that they could sell to their investors. This is -- this is actually making a bad investment that you can bet against, and then unloading it on your -- on your clients.

COOPER: What's interesting, too, Matt, is, I mean, what shocks people on -- on -- you know, about this, it's one thing people, kind of think, OK, you know, doing things which hurt Americans in general, but for a Wall Street firms to actually even hurt their own investors, by people on Wall Street, that's seen as doubly -- doubly bad, as if hurting Americans isn't bad enough.

TAIBBI: Well, yes. That -- that's why this is going to be incredibly damaging to Goldman Sachs.

It's one thing to have some left-leaning commentators picking on them for being unethical or even to be accused of bilking the government out of billions, which they, of course, did in the bailout.

This is an entirely different ball game. This is -- this is robbing from your own clients. And, on Wall Street, that's -- it doesn't get any worse than that. This is -- this is direct -- going to directly affect our bottom line and their relationships with all of their -- their customers.

COOPER: It does seem, Sunny, if it hurts American taxpayers, that's one thing, but -- but, you know, they're hurting their investors, so people on doubly -- you know, people on Wall Street are doubly upset. Does the SEC have a strong case here?

SUNNY HOSTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, I have got to tell you, I read the complaint, Anderson, and it looks very beefy. It does look like they have a very strong case.

If they have evidence to support all the allegations that are in that complaint, I would say that this is really going to be a horse race here. I mean, and, typically, you know, the SEC really blew it with the Madoff investigation. They dropped the ball there.

And I think they have a chip on their shoulder. It really -- the commission has something to prove here. And by alleging that the golden boys of Wall Street engaged in this type of fraud, that is very, very significant.

COOPER: Matt, let me -- let me play devil's advocate here. If they only made $15 million off this transaction, Goldman, why would they take such a risk, assuming these allegations are true, when -- right now they're just allegations -- but why would they take such a risk for $15 million? I mean, that's a lot for any citizen, but, on Wall Street, for Goldman Sachs, you know, for the money they make, that's not that much.

TAIBBI: Well, we don't know the entire story here.

I have also heard versions of the story where Goldman was also short some of these instruments. So, we don't know how much they're making out of it as well. The $15 million figure that you're quoting is just the fees they made off the transaction. So, we don't know what Goldman's actual interest was in this deal. So, that -- that remains to be seen.

COOPER: Sunny, is it possible they could say, well, look, this is just the trader who was involved in this, the one employee whose name is on the e-mails who sent the e-mails about this, and we didn't know; the higher-ups will say they didn't know?

HOSTIN: Well, absolutely.

And, typically, in these kinds of cases, that employee is generally fired. And I have been looking into it. And, apparently, the employee has not been fired yet. But I have to tell you, Goldman did release a statement today saying that they also lost $90 million.

And they made very good points in their statement. And, so, you know, they're obviously going to defend this pretty vigorously.

COOPER: Matt Taibbi, it's a fascinating case.

Sunny Hostin.

We appreciate you both being on. Thank you.

TAIBBI: Thanks.


COOPER: Let us know what you think. Join the live chat right now at You can talk to viewers watching around America and around the world right now.

Coming up next: the ash cloud that is causing worldwide chaos. This stuff is unbelievable. Thousands of flights have been canceled, airports shut down, a lot of travelers caught in limbo. This erupting volcano in Iceland is the cause. Gary Tuchman is there. We will talk to him coming up. He's on the ground.

And how dangerous is that ash? We are going to show you one passenger jet's close call decades ago. First, the smoke filled with -- the -- the cabin. Then came the flames. The engines caught on fire -- incredible story of survival ahead.

And what you don't know about Jack Kevorkian, the doctor who helped more than 130 people die. He's not sure of the exact number. He joins us for the "Big 360 Interview" -- a pretty fascinating, candid conversation with the man at the center of this life-and-death issue.


COOPER: A fiery volcano continues to cause air travel chaos across much of Europe tonight. The eruptions have created a massive amount of smoke and ash that airplanes cannot fly through. We are going to tell you what -- what can happen to planes if they attempt to fly through the danger zone. We are going to take you inside a dangerous flight decades ago.

But, today, across much of Europe, some 16,000 flights were grounded in nearly 20 countries. Can you imagine the chaos that's -- that's caused?

Back in Iceland, close to the volcano, residents are on edge.

Gary Tuchman is there with a 360 dispatch.


GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Olafur Eggertsson is a farmer. His family has owned this farm on the southern coast of Iceland for 104 years. And that's why this is a very traumatizing time -- getting closer and closer to his land as the wind has shifted, a huge plume of ash billowing larger and larger from the newly active volcano that looms over his farm.

The eruption took place under a glacier, causing the water from that glacier to flood much of his farm.

OLAFUR EGGERTSSON, ICELANDIC FARMER (through translator): I was really scared. I was shocked afterwards. I was standing here and watched the water come.

TUCHMAN: Olafur's family is feverishly building a dike, in case more floodwaters pour down the mountain. But it's the approaching volcanic ash, which can destroy homes, that is really frightening him and so many others in this part of Iceland, a town called Hvolsvollur, a little over an hour's drive from the capital, Reykjavik.

People are sealing their windows and doors, in hopes the ash doesn't ruin their homes. Deputy Kristin Thordardottir is with the local police department.

How scary is this for the community, the eruption of this volcano?

KRISTIN THORDARDOTTIR, POLICE OFFICER: Well, I -- it's pretty serious, because it's mostly because the properties of people and their life's work are being -- possibly being destroyed.

TUCHMAN (on camera): The last time this particular volcano erupted was in 1821, almost 190 years ago. And those eruptions lasted for about two years. People are sure hoping it doesn't last that long this time.

But what's happened from this volcano, because it erupted underneath a glacier, it flooded these fields. And now you're seeing all this muck, this mud, these rocks, these ice balls. But, so far, the damage has been limited to the flooding, some buckled roads. There have been no fatalities, no injuries, and the people of Iceland consider themselves, so far, very lucky.

(voice-over): Because the last eruption of this volcano was almost 190 years ago, his Olafur's family hasn't dealt with something like this. He just doesn't know what to expect.

EGGERTSSON (through translator): I don't know. You don't know. There's no way to know.

TUCHMAN: What he does know is that this weekend will be tense.


COOPER: So, Gary, what do experts say, I mean, about how long this -- this huge plume, cloud of ash is going to be there and cause a -- cause a threat?

TUCHMAN: These experts know a lot, Anderson, but they don't know enough to tell us how long will it last.

Usually, when there are volcanoes here in Iceland -- and there are regularly volcanoes in Iceland -- they don't last very long. But like we just told you, this particular volcano, back in 1821, lasted two years. That would be big trouble.

And Icelanders, when they study their history, they know about what happened in 18th century. Nine thousand people, a quarter of the population of this country, were killed during a volcano back then.

Now, they do not expect fatalities during this, but they certainly expect the possibility of house and property damage.

COOPER: Yes, and that country has already been hard-hit economically. It's the worst thing that could possibly happen, and also causing problems for all of Europe.

Gary, appreciate it. Thanks.

Now a look at the danger the volcanic ash poses for airplanes. Boeing tells us, in the past 30 years, more than 90 jet-powered commercial airplanes have encountered clouds of volcanic ash and suffered damage as a result.

Tonight, we have the frightening story of one flight.

"Up Close," Randi Kaye with the nightmare at 37,000 feet.


RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This documentary from National Geographic recreates the terrifying, but true ordeal of a British Airways jet caught in a cloud of volcanic ash.

June 24, 1982, Flight 9 from London to Australia, the radar says expect a smooth flight. But, suddenly, inside, there's reason to panic.

BETTY TOOTELL FERGUSON, PASSENGER ON BRITISH AIRWAYS FLIGHT 9: I noticed that thick smoke was pouring into the cabin through the vents above the windows.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The acrid smoke was at the back of your throat, up your nose, in your eyes.

KAYE: They are 37,000 feet above the Indian Ocean when the engines ignite.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Dad, the engine's on fire!

TOOTELL FERGUSON: There were huge flames coming out of the back of the engines, 20, some people said 40, feet long.

KAYE: In about a minute-and-a-half, all four of the Boeing 747's engines fail.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Engine failure, number four.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Fire action, number four.

ERIC MOODY, CAPTAIN, BRITISH AIRWAYS FLIGHT 9: None of us believed it was happening.

KAYE (on camera): What Captain Moody doesn't realize is that he's actually flying through volcanic ash from Mount Galunggung in Indonesia. The ash, made up of tiny bits of glass, is drawn into the engine. It melts and gloms on to the engine parts, instead of passing through, choking the engine to death.

(voice-over): The Boeing 747 is dropping from the night sky, heading straight for the Indian Ocean. They are about six miles up, about a half-hour from crashing into the sea.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Mayday, mayday, mayday, Speedbird 9. We have lost all four engines.

KAYE: Captain Moody warns the nearly 250 passengers to prepare for an emergency landing.

MOODY: I said: "Good evening again, ladies and gentlemen. And this is your captain speaking. All four engines -- we have a small problem in that all four engines have failed. We're doing our utmost to keep -- to get them going. I trust you're not in too much distress."

KAYE: Passengers begin to accept they may not survive.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Ma, in trouble. Plane going down.

CHARLES CAPEWELL, PASSENGER ON BRITISH AIRWAYS FLIGHT 9: "Will do best for the boys. We love you. Sorry. Pa."

KAYE (on camera): The jet sails through the sky like a glider. Still unaware of the ash, the crew glides low enough to escape it.

Captain Moody considers landing in the ocean. But, then, at 13,000 feet, the crew gets all four engines started again. They had had a chance to cool, and the ash had broken away.

(voice-over): One quickly fails again. Still, he lands British Airways Flight 9 safely in Jakarta, Indonesia.

Almost 27 years later after his heroic flight, Captain Eric Moody, now retired, tells us, it's smart to keep airplanes away from volcanic ash. He wouldn't want to fly through it again.

Randi Kaye, CNN, New York.


COOPER: I love how understated the British pilot was. "We have a small problem. Four of our engines, all of them, have gone out."

It's amazing they got through it.

Check out for everything you need to know about the air travels delays. That's where you will find the list of all the countries affected.

Up next: the "Raw Politics" of prayer, a court decision on the National Day of Prayer. A judge says it's unconstitutional, and this year's observance could be one of the last ones. Christopher Hitchens and Tony Perkins join me ahead tonight.

Also, one of -- one-on-one with Jack Kevorkian, tonight's "Big 360 Interview," part two. He admits to helping more than 130 people die to help end their suffering.


COOPER: Did you ever -- I mean, do you have nightmares about it? Did you ever feel...

KEVORKIAN: No, no. I don't think a doctor should have a nightmare about any medical procedure, or else he's not a doctor.



COOPER: Tonight, in "Raw Politics": A federal judge in Wisconsin has ruled the annual National Day of Prayer is unconstitutional. The judge said the observance, which began more than half-a-century ago, violates the First Amendment, which bans a law respecting an establishment of religion -- of religion.

Judge Barbara Crabb said the National Day of Prayer -- quote -- "goes beyond mere acknowledgment of religion, because its sole purpose is to encourage all citizens to engage in prayer, an inherently religious exercise that serves no secular function in this context."

Now, the White House still plans to recognize this year's Day of Prayer on May 6, but, if the judge's ruling stands, it could be the last one.

Joining me now, "Vanity Fair" contributing editor Christopher Hitchens, author of "God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything," and Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council and author of "Personal Faith, Public Policy."

Christopher, the Obama administration wants the National Day of Prayer upheld. The Justice Department is apparently looking into options for appeal. Tony Perkins' group is -- is calling for the judge's impeachment.

Why should this be unconstitutional? It's totally optional. No one is forced to pray.

CHRISTOPHER HITCHENS, CONTRIBUTING EDITOR, "VANITY FAIR": No. But that's why the government shouldn't have a -- a word to say about it.

That's why it can't be a National Day of Prayer that has any government sponsorship. It's as plain as anything could be. The First Amendment is written with admirable clarity. You know, Congress shall make no law respecting any establishment of religion.

I look out at my window in Washington, I can see I don't know how many churches. Everyone can go to them all the time. If you're a Muslim, you're supposed to pray five times a day. Just bother me with it, and don't ask for the government to endorse it, OK?

COOPER: Tony, the federal judge in Wisconsin says -- and I quote -- "I understand that many may disagree with that conclusion and some may even view it as a criticism of prayer or those who pray. That is unfortunate. A determination that the government may not endorse a religious message is not a determination that the message is -- itself is harmful, unimportant or undeserving of dissemination."

Why are you calling for her impeachment?

TONY PERKINS, PRESIDENT, FAMILY RESEARCH COUNCIL: Well, first of all, I mean, there's two problems here.

One, I think this is a case of judicial activism, but also a -- a choice -- a case of judicial arrogance and ignorance. I mean, first off, this is a -- a district court. District courts are not to set judicial precedent. They're to yield to appellate court precedent or to the Supreme Court precedent.

And -- and, clearly, this has been a practice since the very first president of the United States, dating back to George Washington. So, clearly, there's a pattern here. There's a history. And she cites the Lemon test, which is a test that was first adopted in the 1970s regarding school and coercion.

There's no coercion here. People have an opportunity to participate in the National Day of Prayer or not. This is clearly...

COOPER: But is it really the government's role to -- to be declaring this? I mean, people can pray, as Christopher said, all the time.

PERKINS: Well, I mean, the government has done it from the very beginning.


PERKINS: Well, I think there's actually a secular purpose here. And that's why I think it goes all the way back to the founders, even some that Chris has written about, such as Madison, who later -- some later writings described him as not being supportive of these calls for prayer.

But I think there is a secular purpose because it unites the nation, especially in times of trouble, times of economic downturn, times of war. This has been a practice for presidents since the very beginning of the country.

HITCHENS: Would it unite -- would it unite -- would it unite the nation if it was a day of Hindu prayer that was called for or Muslim prayer or Jewish prayer? PERKINS: Well, but, see, Christopher...


COOPER: Let Christopher finish.

HITCHENS: By the way, please do...


HITCHENS: By all means, call me Christopher, if only because it is my name.

I thought you were a foe of big government. It's a perfectly plain principle. This is not just government intruding where it doesn't belong, but it also is establishing -- you know what Day of Prayer this is. This is a Day of Prayer for Christians.

PERKINS: Well, it goes all the way back...


HITCHENS: The intent is to import the -- the idea is to import, surreptitiously, to smuggle through customs, the idea that this is a Christian nation, which is a part of your own agenda, is it not?

PERKINS: Christopher, this goes all the way back, as I mentioned, to George Washington.

In fact, the day after both chambers of Congress adopted the First Amendment, before sending it to the people, they called for a Day of Prayer. They called upon George Washington to declare a Day of Prayer and Thanksgiving.

I mean, and it has -- it has clearly been, from the founders, an orientation toward the Christian faith. That's why, today, we still have about 80 percent of the American people identify themselves as Christian.


HITCHENS: That's nothing -- even if that was true, it would be a tyranny of the majority in this case. As you know, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison -- Thomas Jefferson and James Madison...

PERKINS: I don't get it, how one judge...

HITCHENS: Well, we're talking about the principle. I don't care which judge it is. Whatever judge said this wasn't constitutional would be correct. Let's not -- I don't care which part of Wisconsin she's from.

PERKINS: See, I don't see how one district judge -- how one district judge...

HITCHENS: Well, you're -- then you're changing the subject. You're changing the subject.

PERKINS: .... has somehow had greater wisdom than any president who has led this country in its over 230 years.


HITCHENS: James Madison -- James Madison...


HITCHENS: James Madison, who is author of the -- James Madison, who, with Thomas Jefferson, was the author of the original Virginia statute on religious freedom that became the First Amendment, was against even having chaplains in Congress or the armed forces. And he refused to call for...


PERKINS: No, no, no. That was when he wrote -- that -- that was -- that -- no, no, no. Christopher, you know that that was discovered in writings 100 years after he died, which was totally inconsistent with the positions he took when he...

HITCHENS: What difference does that make? What difference does that make?

PERKINS: Well, it's totally inconsistent.


PERKINS: It's totally inconsistent.


PERKINS: If you will let me finish, I will answer your question.

COOPER: Let me try to jump in here.


PERKINS: It's totally inconsistent.


COOPER: Tony, to Christopher's point about the federal...

PERKINS: Christopher, can I finish?

COOPER: Let me ask you about Christopher's point earlier about the federal government involvement in this, I mean, because a lot of people who don't want the federal government involved in many aspects of their lives seem to be arguing in favor of this notion of the federal government having this National Day of Prayer.


COOPER: Is there a -- I mean, is there a certain hypocrisy there or double standard?

PERKINS: Well, what's next? No -- no. I mean, there's no -- no one is being compelled to pray. No one is being -- the government's not demanding...


PERKINS: What happened yesterday was the government compelling you to pay taxes.

Calling the nation to set aside a day of prayer, voluntarily, is not compelling anyone to do anything.

HITCHENS: Actually, you should know sir...

PERKINS: I mean, that's what this is about.

HITCHENS: You should know that it's Congress that has the power of the purse, not government.

I'm sorry to have to keep telling you things that you...


PERKINS: Well, and Congress is the one who...


HITCHENS: ... you ought already to know. It's Congress that has the power of the purse.


PERKINS: ... beginning in 19...


HITCHENS: Can you tell me when this day of -- can you tell me where this National Day of Prayer originated, what date? Can you, in fact?

PERKINS: As it is -- as it is now?


PERKINS: In 1988 is when Congress set a date.


PERKINS: But it goes back, in terms of having national days of prayer, to George Washington. And every president since -- almost every president since has declared national days of prayer.

And, as I said, James Madison himself did that.

(CROSSTALK) COOPER: Christopher, why do you think -- why do you think the Obama administration is behind it?


HITCHENS: No, James Madison -- James Madison was very...

Well, the Obama administration is afraid of being accused by people like your guest of being socialist and secular. It's the same reason why James Madison and Thomas Jefferson and Thomas Paine and many others were forced -- and Benjamin Franklin...


PERKINS: Well, that's because that's where the -- where the vast majority of the American people have always been.


HITCHENS: I'm very sorry to say, sir, that people of the stature even of Benjamin Franklin, as well as Mr. Paine and Mr. Madison and Mr. Jefferson, were very -- had to be very careful to keep their opinions to themselves, because your equivalents in those days threatened them with persecution if they were honest about the fact that they were not Christian.

COOPER: Tony, I want to give you the final thought, because we're out of time.

PERKINS: Persecution meant being voted out of office.

HITCHENS: You can be proud of this great tradition of intolerance.

PERKINS: No, and, look -- look, this is a case of -- this is a case of judicial arrogance and ignorance.

This is a state-level -- a district-level court judge who -- who thinks they know better than the 230-plus years of history in this country and is setting precedent. And Congress should look into whether or not this judge should be impeached.

COOPER: Tony Perkins, Christopher Hitchens...

HITCHENS: There you are: perfect intolerance.

COOPER: ... I appreciate both of you being on. Thank you, gentlemen.

Coming up: sitting down with Dr. Kevorkian -- Jack Kevorkian out of jail, off parole, freely talking, not apologizing.


COOPER: But a lot of people, as you know say, I mean, say, look, you're playing God, that shouldn't it be... (CROSSTALK)

KEVORKIAN: Well, isn't the doctor who takes a leg off playing God?

COOPER: You're saying doctors play God all the time.

KEVORKIAN: Sure. Any time you interfere with a natural process, you're playing God.


COOPER: Former President Bill Clinton speaking out about why he worries about President Obama's safety.


COOPER: American Amanda Knox is in an Italian prison, facing 26 years for the murder of her roommate, but it could get worse for her. Why prosecutors want to increase her sentence. That's coming up.

First Joe Johns has a "360 News & Business Bulletin" -- Joe.

JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, a new development from Haiti. Last night we reported charges had been dropped against nine of ten Americans arrested in Haiti earlier this year. Now Haiti's top prosecutor is denying those kidnapping charges have been dropped. He says they will stand until a judge decides whether to proceed to trial. The tenth American missionary, Laura Silsby, remains in a Haitian jail.

Former president, Bill Clinton, said antigovernment rhetoric can lead to violence, like it did 15 years ago this month with the Oklahoma City bombing. He told Wolf Blitzer that anger directed toward President Obama is potentially dangerous.


BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: He symbolizes the loss of control, of predictability, of certainty, of clarity that a lot of people need for their psychic well-being. And I worry about it.

Look, he's well protected by the Secret Service. They're terrific. And the president, I can tell you, I've never met a president -- and look, George W. Bush had some threats against him and people who strongly disagreed with his policy.


JOHNS: Mr. Clinton says he sees parallels between the mood of the country today and at the time of the Oklahoma City attack.

Toyota is recalling about 600,000 Sienna minivans due to corrosion problems on spare tire cables. The automaker says the recall affects 1998 through 2010 models sold in the U.S. that have been operated in cold weather climates.

And we've all seen pictures of Marilyn Monroe. But what about X- rays? Images of the star's chest and pelvis will be up for auction, along with other memorabilia in Las Vegas.

COOPER: Ay, yi, yi.

JOHNS: I know. In June. Also on the block, a couch from her psychiatrist's office. And you know, people will actually spend a lot of money for those things. And we won't even be that surprised.

COOPER: Well, also, like, what medical personnel actually, you know, sold those things originally.

JOHNS: Exactly.

COOPER: I don't know. Coming up next on 360, Amanda Knox, convicted of murder in Italy, as you know. Tonight, a new development in the case. We'll tell you ahead.

And later, Dr. Jack Kevorkian, part two of the "Big 360 Interview." We talk about life and death and faith.


COOPER: Are you a religious man?


COOPER: Do you believe in God?

KEVORKIAN: I don't know. Is there a God? Look, I'm a scientist. A doctor is always a scientist.


COOPER: More from my interview with Dr. Kevorkian after the break.


COOPER: More of my conversation with Jack Kevorkian. By his own admission, he's helped more than 130 people die. He says he didn't end their lives. Kevorkian said it was to end their suffering.

After eight years and three months in prison, two years on parole, he's now a free man, and he remains as polarizing as ever.

His life is now the subject of a fascinating upcoming HBO film called "You Don't Know Jack," directed by Barry Levinson. I've seen it. No matter what side you are on this issue, it is a really remarkable film. We'll talk to the stars and the director of the film in a moment.

But first, more of one on one with Dr. Kevorkian.


COOPER: How many people, in total, did you help die?


COOPER: Around...

KEVORKIAN: A little more than 130.

COOPER: You're not sure of the exact number?

KEVORKIAN: Well, I was helped by a colleague, a psychiatrist who joined me near the end. The only doctor who offered to join me.

COOPER: And the first time you did it, who was the first?

KEVORKIAN: Janet Adkins was the first.

COOPER: And that was in a van?

KEVORKIAN: In a van.

COOPER: Why in a van?

KEVORKIAN: I couldn't find a place. I tried nursing homes, churches.

COOPER: You didn't want to do it at your apartment?

KEVORKIAN: Hospitals, clinics. No, because the police would -- would raid the apartment, clean it out. And I didn't want to involve anybody else in it, like the landlord.

COOPER: I mean, what is that like, to end somebody's life in a van?

KEVORKIAN: Well, you're only -- you're not ending their life. I didn't do it to end the life. I did it to end the suffering the patient is going through. The patient is obviously suffering. What's a doctor supposed to do, turn his back? If he's a coward he is.

COOPER: But a lot of doctors do that.

KEVORKIAN: Well, they're cowards. Doctors are cowards. You know that. They won't take anything that's going to hurt their income or their reputation. Anything that's going to possible -- any legal thing that's going to possibly be damaging.

COOPER: Do you think still about the people, I mean about the 130 or so people?

KEVORKIAN: Once in a while we do. In fact, we get -- you develop families. And we, for a few years there, four or five years, we had annual meetings of family relatives.

COOPER: Relatives of people you've helped.

KEVORKIAN: Of people I've helped. Obviously, they didn't think I committed a crime.

COOPER: I mean, do you have nightmares about it? Do you ever feel...

KEVORKIAN: No. I don't think a doctor should have a nightmare about any medical procedure or else he's not a doctor.

COOPER: Did you find it sad?

KEVORKIAN: Well, of course. You don't like to end a life. But a doctor, if somebody has got a cancer of the bone, of the hip, you don't take their leg off at the joint, the hip joint because you want to do it. I says, "I want to take that leg off. I can't wait to take that leg off." No. The leg has to come off to help save the patient's life. Unfortunately, it entails the loss of a leg.

COOPER: But a lot of people, as you know, I mean, say look, you're playing God. That you're...

KEVORKIAN: Isn't the doctor who takes a leg off playing God?

COOPER: You're saying doctors play God all the time?

KEVORKIAN: Of course. Anytime you interfere with a natural process, you're playing God. God determines what happens naturally.

That means that, when a person is ill, he shouldn't go to a doctor, because he's asking for interference with God's will. But of course, patients can't think that way. They want to live as long as possible and not suffer. So, they call a doctor to help them end the suffering.

COOPER: Are you a religious man?


COOPER: Do you believe in God?

KEVORKIAN: I don't know. Is there a God? Look, I'm a scientist. A doctor is always a scientist.

COOPER: You were in prison when Terri Schiavo was in the headlines.

KEVORKIAN: That's right. That's right.

COOPER: Do you think -- what did you think?

KEVORKIAN: They called me for my opinion.

COOPER: What did you think? KEVORKIAN: Well, of course, it's wrong. What counts is not her husband's opinion, not her brother's opinion. Her opinion. And she's expressed it to all of them very plainly.

COOPER: So you didn't -- so you thought what happened to her was wrong?

KEVORKIAN: Well, they forced -- what they -- look, is it humane to cause a human's death with starvation and thirst?

COOPER: When you hear Sarah Palin talk about death panels in health-care reform...

KEVORKIAN: Fear-mongering, because they oppose it. She's religious, no doubt about it.


KEVORKIAN: All the Catholic priests are not against this. But they keep quiet. Fear keeps control.

COOPER: You're off parole now, right?

KEVORKIAN: Yes. I had only two years after I got out of prison.

COOPER: So you're a free man?


COOPER: Would you do it, again? Would you help somebody...

KEVORKIAN: Under certain circumstances, yes. As long as I know they're not going to throw me in jail again, and prison, yes, I would do it again.

COOPER: And you've had people approach you for help?

KEVORKIAN: They've approached me. I got letters from them when I was in prison. They wanted help. They wanted advice how to do it. I couldn't do that in prison.

COOPER: Can you -- can you give advice to people now?

KEVORKIAN: Not in parole. It stopped it. With parole ending, I can give any advice I want.

COOPER: So now you could give advice?

KEVORKIAN: Absolutely. I can -- notice I'm talking very freely about it.

COOPER: And are you in touch with people who want to end their lives?

KEVORKIAN: Not right now. No. They all assume, like the judge says, you have now been stopped. But she was wrong. I haven't.

COOPER: You haven't been stopped?

KEVORKIAN: No. Of course not. I still push for this issue. And when the chance comes, I'll do it the way it should be done.


COOPER: Dr. Jack Kevorkian. A reminder: you can join the live chat happening now at

Coming up, the "Big 360 Interview," Dr. Death, Kevorkian, the focus of the new HBO movie. We'll talk to some of the stars of the film, Susan Sarandon, John Goodman; also the director, Barry Levinson; and more with Dr. Kevorkian. Susan Sarandon talking about life and death decisions.


SUSAN SARANDON, ACTRESS: I've been with people who doctors have upped their morphine at the end, you know. That happens all the time. Nobody really talks about it, but that happens. They say at a certain point, OK, this is the choice.


COOPER: We'll have more with them ahead.

Plus, a new twist in the case against American Amanda Knox, who was found guilty of killing her roommate in Italy.


COOPER: Before the break, Dr. Jack Kevorkian told me physicians who don't help terminally ill patients die are, in his words, cowards. He's also revealed he participated in more than 130 assisted suicides.

Kevorkian's not backing down from what he did. He said now that he's out of prison and not on parole, he said no one can stop him from legally doing it again if -- if the law changes. HBO has turned his life into a film, "You Don't Know Jack." It airs on April 24. Al Pacino plays Kevorkian. The movie also stars COOPER: You're off parole now, right?

KEVORKIAN: Yes. I had only two years after I got out of prison.

COOPER: So you're a free man?


COOPER: Would you do it, again? Would you help somebody...

KEVORKIAN: Under certain circumstances, yes. As long as I know they're not going to throw me in jail again, and prison, yes, I would do it again.

COOPER: And you've had people approach you for help?

KEVORKIAN: They've approached me. I got letters from them when I was in prison. They wanted help. They wanted advice how to do it. I couldn't do that in prison.

COOPER: Can you give advice to people now?

KEVORKIAN: Not in parole. It stopped it. With parole ending, I can give any advice I want.

COOPER: So now you could give advice?

KEVORKIAN: Absolutely. Notice I'm talking very freely about it.

COOPER: And are you in touch with people who want to end their lives?

KEVORKIAN: Not right now. No. They all assume, like the judge says, you have now been stopped. But she was wrong. I haven't.

COOPER: You haven't been stopped?

KEVORKIAN: No. Of course not. I still push for this issue. And when the chance comes, I'll do it the way it should be done.

COOPER: What do you mean? You will help someone else end their life?

KEVORKIAN: Because you have it in three states so far.

COOPER: Oregon, Washington.

KEVORKIAN: It's not done right. That's not a medical service. A doctor can't be involved. Illegal. AMA says, "You will lose your license." Scares the hell out of them.

COOPER: So will you build another machine?

KEVORKIAN: I don't need a machine. A doctor can do the injecting. The machine was just to avoid being charged with having committed the crime.

COOPER: But you don't have access to the pharmaceuticals anymore, do you?

KEVORKIAN: Not yet. But if it were legal, in other words, if the law stepped out of the picture, if religion stopped pushing this opposition, then we could do it like a regular medical procedure, which it should be.


COOPER: Tomorrow night, we're going to have more with Dr. Kevorkian and talk with the stars of the film, the director of the film about Dr. Kevorkian. Susan Sarandon, John Goodman and director Barry Levinson join me tomorrow night.

Here's a preview.

. They and Dr. Kevorkian joined me earlier.


COOPER: Barry, why did you want to make a film about Dr. Kevorkian?

BARRY LEVINSON, DIRECTOR: The character, first and foremost. When I read the draft that was sent to me, I thought the character was interesting, the characters around it. His core group was very interesting.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I mean, what did you learn about what he had done?

LEVINSON: Well, I think it's more complicated than what I saw, because I only saw the snippets of it. In other words, to watch that ten-year period from the time he began until the time he was sent to prison, is an amazing journey of a man, you know, coming up against the system and ultimately a man that could not be intimidated in that way, in a sense, as Jack has said, that he knew eventually he would be imprisoned.

COOPER: Was prison hard for you?

KEVORKIAN: No. When you're not a criminal, it's easy.

COOPER: You were in solitary confinement for a time.

KEVORKIAN: Just for protection. For about, oh, maybe four or five months, something like that. I got one hour a day free out to make phone calls or walk the yard. The other 23 hours I was in a cell.

COOPER: So there was never a moment of doubt for you?


COOPER: Even in the eight years you were in prison, eight years and three months?

KEVORKIAN: How can there be a doubt about your duty as a physician? There's no doubt. I knew exactly what was going to happen and what I was doing. You're taking a risk because you're breaking the law that's based on religion, which makes it doubly hard. And -- and you're going to get punished.

COOPER: Susan, you play a woman from the Hemlock Society who supports him in his work.

SUSAN SARANDON, ACTRESS: And becomes a good friend. And I was really lucky because the niece of the actual woman was very helpful to me to explain kind of the inner workings of her and any kind of character exaggerations or whatever in the script we corrected.

And I think what's really amazing is the courage of the people, for me, you know, watching the videos and understanding, because you don't want to think that far ahead. You know, I've been with people who doctors have upped their morphine at the end, you know. That happens all the time. Nobody really talks about it, but that happens. They say at a certain point, OK, we're going to -- this is the choice.


AL PACINO, ACTOR: I could carry that for you.

SARANDON: That would have been nice, Dr. Kevorkian, but it's a little late now, don't you think? And it's Mrs.



PACINO: Oh. Good. So you -- you know who I am?

SARANDON: Who do I look like, June Cleaver? What can I do for you?

PACINO: Well, I have my first patient. What I don't have...

SARANDON: Is a place.


SARANDON: And you'd like to use my home.

PACINO: Well, no. I thought you'd know a place. But I could use your home. That would be just fine. Sure.

SARANDON: Well, if you're going to come to my home, you're going to have to dress more cheerfully.


COOPER: John, in the movie, you play basically kind of a guy who's an assistant...

JOHN GOODMAN, ACTOR: He's Jimmy Olson.

COOPER: Jimmy Olson. Who's really essential in the work in order -- getting him the supplies that he needs for the work.

GOODMAN: Yes. They find out where he was operating, and then they start cutting my character off of the gas that he needs.


GOODMAN: You can't be cutting corners anymore. This isn't the old days. We're not winging it anymore. Jack, the next time it doesn't feel right, call it off. PACINO: These are my decisions to make. Mine alone.

GOODMAN: Yes, sir, Kemosabi.


COOPER: What did you think of Kevorkian before you got involved?

GOODMAN: Well, just surface, fascinating topic. Not to reduce his life to a topic, but it's a fascinating issue. When they sent it to me, I said yes, please, I'm very curious about this.

COOPER: If you got to that point in life, is that something you would want?

GOODMAN: I want it now.

SARANDON: I want it for you, too, now.

COOPER: You mean right now?

GOODMAN: Yes, sure. It Depends. It depends on how painful everything was. You never know. You never know.

COOPER: You want to know the option is out there.


COOPER: What do you think of the movie that was made? Is it accurate?

KEVORKIAN: Almost embarrassed to think of what I thought before it was done.

COOPER: Oh, yes?

KEVORKIAN: Yes, it's much better than I thought.

COOPER: You were worried about what it would be like?

KEVORKIAN: Not really worried but I just -- it can't be done. You can't get this message in one movie, you have two hours, covering 130 cases of a big issue. It can't be done. I was proved wrong.


COOPER: Well, you can judge for yourself. It's a fascinating film, an HBO film "You Don't Know Jack" premieres Saturday, April 24, 9 p.m. Eastern.

Up next, new development in the Amanda Knox case, the American exchange student in an Italian prison right now for killing her roommate. Prosecutors, well, they want to extend her sentence. We'll explain ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) COOPER: Yesterday we reported that President Barack Obama was moving to end discrimination in hospitalization visitation rights for same-sex couples. He told the Department of Health and Human Services to direct hospitals to allow patients to designate who can visit them and to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation.

Janis Lengbend (ph), who yesterday received a call from the president himself, joined us on the program and told us she was not permitted to see her partner before she died at Jackson Memorial Hospital in Florida. The hospital contacted us, and they told us they didn't discriminate and provided a copy of a letter they say was sent to President Obama, telling him this, as well.

There are other stories we're following tonight. Joe Johns is back with the "360 Bulletin."

JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, federal safety inspectors have found more than 60 serious safety violations at mines operated by Massey Energy Operations since 29 miners died at the company's Upper Big Branch Mine in West Virginia 11 days ago. Officials believe explosive gas and coal dust may be to blame for the worst U.S. mining disaster in 40 years.

Amanda Knox could be looking at a longer prison stay in Italy. She was sentenced last year to 25 years in prison in the 2007 murder of her roommate, Meredith Kircher. A prosecutor says that's too lenient. He filed an appeal for life in prison.

And could paddling be coming to schools near you? It's been almost a year since a school district in Temple, Texas, reintroduced corporal punishment. While it's controversial, the school board president says the discipline problem is much better, even though only one student has received the punishment. That's old-fashioned stuff there.

COOPER: Sure is. All right. So for tonight's "Shot," we've got some classic Willie Nelson, country music legend. As you know, he was on "LARRY KING LIVE" tonight and admitted to smoking pot. It made headlines. But then things kind of got weird. Watch.


LARRY KING, HOST, "LARRY KING LIVE": Did you smoke today?


KING: Did you smoke pot today? Today. This day?


KING: You did? Before you came in here?


KING (singing): Never saw the sun shining so bright. A memory of love. Sweet refrain. (speaking) Love you, Willie.


JOHNS: Next they'll be pulling out the junk food.

COOPER: Yes. We reedited that, I will admit. But I kind of like it. Can we watch that again? Do we have time? Let's watch it again.


LARRY KING, HOST, "LARRY KING LIVE": Did you smoke today?


KING: Did you smoke pot today? Today. This day?


KING: You did? Before you came in here?


KING (singing): Never saw the sun shining so bright. A memory of love. Sweet refrain.

(speaking) Love you, Willie.

NELSON: Love you, too.


JOHNS: That's kind of extraordinary. It's a long pause.

COOPER: Well, we reedited it. It didn't actually happen. We made that up. We edited all the pauses together.

JOHNS: Oh, I got it.

COOPER: Yes. I love that you believed it, Joe, too.

JOHNS: I know, I totally fell for it. The giggles.

COOPER: Well, some people out there don't believe it. Yes, we reedited it. He wasn't that stoned that he was, like, totally silent and then singing.

JOHNS: Hilarious.

COOPER: There you go.

JOHNS: It worked.

COOPER: It worked. I'm glad it worked. Yes.

Joe, thanks very much for being around this week. I appreciate all the reporting.

And everyone, have a great weekend. I'll see you on Monday. At the top of the hour, Goldman Sachs accused of fraud. We'll be right back.