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Authorities Investigate Attempted Bombing in Times Square; Assigning Blame for Oil Spill Disaster

Aired May 3, 2010 - 22:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Breaking news tonight: Late word on the search for an overseas connection to the attempted bombing in Times Square. Thousands may have seen something. Cameras may have caught something. We're live with what authorities are learning, what they're still looking for, and where the clues lead around the world tonight.

Also tonight, who is really taking responsibility for the Gulf oil spill? If it's BP, well, why is the company saying, "It's not our accident"? Why did it ask emergency volunteers to sign these waivers? Also, why is BP only on the hook for $75 billion in damages under a law that passed in 1990? The answer to that one is truly amazing. We're "Keeping Them Honest."

And, later, we confront a man, a convicted child molester who was kept in the priesthood for years by the Vatican, even though he had already been convicted. What's even more shocking, the man who hesitated to defrock him is now the pope.

We begin, though, with the breaking news on the Times Square car bomb, a bomb packed with propane tanks and gasoline, a bomb designed to kill. The White House calls it a terrorist act, the investigation moving quickly tonight.

You probably already heard the vehicle was bought on craigslist for cash. But we have learned tonight that there may be a possibly international connection with the plot.

Joe Johns joins us from Times Square with the very latest.

Joe, what are you hearing from federal investigators?

JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, sources have told CNN that the joint terrorism task force is looking into the possibility that this was more than just a lone wolf and that there is -- there is a connection to Pakistan.

We're also told authorities believe that this was an intended terrorist attack, and that the only reason the bomb did not go off right here in Times Square, because the people lacked the ability to detonate. Here's more of what we know.


ERIC HOLDER, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: I think there's no question that the people, the person who was behind that act intended to spread terror across New York. Had that -- had those devices been successful, we certainly could have seen a -- a substantial loss of life.

JOHNS (voice-over): On this video, an extremist Islamic group claimed responsibility for the attack. At first, authorities discounted the claim, because, in the past, this group, the Pakistani Taliban, has claimed responsibility for attacks it did not commit.

On another video, surveillance video released by police culled from among the cameras perched in Times Square, a guy walking down the street, stopping and taking his shirt off to reveal another under it. He looked around a little, right after 6:30 Saturday night, the time people started hearing popping sounds in a Nissan Pathfinder parked on the street.

(on camera): The camera picks the guy up right around here, at the entrance to Shubert Alley, as it's called. It's right across the street from the Marriott Marquis Hotel. The SUV was parked just about one block that way.

It's not at all clear why the authorities focused on this guy, but we do know there was something about his body language, his actions that makes them want to sit down and have a conversation with him.

(voice-over): The evidence left behind in the Nissan Pathfinder, by almost accounts, giving authorities a surprising amount of information to start with. Much of it would have gone up in smoke and flames if the bomb had gone off. But it did not. And now, everything from the gas containers and the propane barbecue tanks, to the locks intended as timers, and even the fireworks, the gun locker containing fertilizer found inside the car, along with the car itself, are being traced.

(on camera): This is where the SUV ended up, 45th and Broadway, right in front of the headquarters of Viacom, the media company. Since Saturday, the authorities have been tracing how the vehicle ended up right here. It turns out, three weeks ago, it sold on craigslist for about $1,800.

The buyer and the seller met at a shopping center in Connecticut. No papers were exchanged.

(voice-over): So much evidence from an exploded bomb, suggesting that the rudimentary device set to explode on Times Square was left by someone with limited knowledge of a deadly business. It's similar to a pair of unexploded bombs left by al Qaeda sympathizers in the U.K. three years ago.

JOHN PIKE, GLOBALSECURITY.ORG: The New York device looks an awful like some bombs that were found in London in the summer of 2007. The construction was the same, and the result was the same, namely that they didn't go off and were found before -- and were found shortly after they had been ignited.


COOPER: Joe, I actually just received some information that, apparently, authorities have now identified -- and this is just breaking now -- that authorities have identified who bought that SUV from the person on Craigslist. I know this is the first time you're also hearing this information, Joe.

As far as we know, I mean, that purchase -- that purchase was made in cash, and -- and was done relatively recently, just for $1,800. But, obviously, this would be a huge development in the investigation to know the identity of the person who bought the SUV.

JOHNS: Absolutely.

And it's pretty clear they have been trying to piece all of this together -- among the information we know they have been using, cell phone records, e-mails, domestic calls, as well as contacts overseas.

So, this has been quite a job for these investigators, and apparently moving quite rapidly, Anderson.


I mean, we have seen this one surveillance video. I know, obviously, a lot of stores have their own cameras and stuff. Have they been able to check all the surveillance video they want, or are they still looking? Do we know?

JOHNS: It's not clear. We -- we do know, in fact, that there's been a possibility of another surveillance video being released from down here. Quite frankly, it's very clear that there are a lot of cameras that you have to go through when you have an incident. And, certainly, one like this, they would be checking every one.

COOPER: Also, with so many tourists in Times Square taking pictures, that's obviously another avenue that they are pursuing.

Joe, we will continue to follow it up with you.

We're also learning new tonight that the -- the NYPD, the New York Police Department, is sending that Pathfinder and the bomb components to the FBI forensics lab in Quantico, Virginia.

National security analyst Peter Bergen has been talking to his sources. He joins us now.

So, Peter, a few hours ago, investigators were telling us they didn't have credible evidence of a Pakistan link. Now they're apparently considering it. How serious do you think they should take it?

I mean, who in Pakistan -- you know, people say the Pakistani Taliban. That basically is a group that -- with links to al Qaeda.

PETER BERGEN, CNN TERRORISM ANALYST: Right. And we have had three videos in the last 48 hours from the Pakistani Taliban, one not very credible taking credit for this failed attack, two which are much more credible, from the leader of the Pakistani Taliban saying that he's -- his group is going to attack the United States. Those claims of Pakistani Taliban trying to attack the United States are not entirely implausible, Anderson, and...

COOPER: Why do you say that? Because -- because of other attacks they have done?

BERGEN: Well, in January of 2008, the Pakistani Taliban, according to Spanish prosecutors and according to their own account, sent a group of suicide bombers to Barcelona in Spain. Those guys were arrested, and -- and they have gone into the Spanish prosecutorial -- prosecutorial system, but they have already done out- of-area or tried to do out-of-area operations in the West.

And, so, that -- that -- their claim of a desire to do something in the United States and even the possibility that they might do something is something that should be taken very seriously.

And, Anderson, the other thing about -- you know, the last -- almost everything that investigators say about these kinds of attacks or attempted attacks in the first 24 hours turns out to be wrong. In the Christmas Day attack, there was a lot of stuff coming out of the White House saying this guy was a lone wolf and all that.

And it was pretty obvious from -- right from the get-go that there was a conspiracy involved. When you have a car bomb attack or the kind of attempt as we saw here, that's not the act of a lone wolf. There's usually a driver. There's a -- there's a bombmaker. There's at least two other people involved.

And -- and, clearly, this is a larger conspiracy than just one guy. It does seem to have -- the universe of people who want to do this kind of attack is pretty small. I mean, right-wing terrorists want to attack American government buildings or abortion clinics. They don't just want to indiscriminately attack American sort of civilians walking around the street.

COOPER: Right.

BERGEN: And...

COOPER: This is certainly more of the profile of a -- obviously hitting the epicenter of one of the greatest cities in the world, you know, Times Square, where -- full of tourists. It's obviously -- it's terrorism. It's making a statement. It's theater.

BERGEN: Right.

And it's -- and it's utterly indiscriminate. And, of course, you know, we have had a case just in the last seven months of an Afghan American called Najibullah Zazi with two other confederates, residents of the United States, who were planning to attack not only Wall Street with homemade bombs, but also Times Square, by the account of their own, you know -- the court proceedings that -- that have put these guys in jail. They admitted to these things.

So, you know -- and, also, the distinction between al Qaeda and the Pakistani Taliban is not really that large. Ideologically and tactically, these groups are very similar. So, we have already seen these kinds of groups very recently try and do a similar kind of attack in the Times Square area.

COOPER: In terms of the device, though, that was used, I mean, authorities, early on, were saying, look, this is a pretty primitive device. The fertilizer that was in the vehicle was actually not explosive-grade fertilizer.

This -- you know, you see the timing device there. So, in terms of the expertise, it doesn't seem like they have -- whoever the group does not necessarily have that capability at this point.

BERGEN: Right. Well, it's an amateur thing unless it goes off.

COOPER: Right.

BERGEN: And, I mean, there are lots of ways for these bombs not to go off.

And, you know, the -- the fact is, is, if the -- if the bomb had -- you know, it was -- the materials were obviously designed to do a fairly large fire -- fireball. But making a fuel-air explosive, which was the intent here, is not that easy.

And, so, that does suggest that these guys may not have actually had training in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, but they may have been perhaps in contact with people in that -- in that region.

So, you know, they -- luckily, they -- you know, they -- they screwed it up this time. But, you know, one thing that we should be concerned about is, in the London and Glasgow attempts that were referenced in the Joe Johns piece, you know, there were two attacks -- or two -- two failed attacks which were in sequence, within 48 hours of each other.

And we don't know how large the -- you know, the conspiracy is here. But, you know, there may well be -- you know, some other part of this group, if there is one, may try a similar kind of attack in another American city.

COOPER: Right.

BERGEN: And that's what -- that's what federal agents are looking for in the next -- very much in the next 48 hours.

COOPER: And that was video from the Glasgow attack.

And, obviously, the latest breaking news that we received just moments ago, authorities apparently have identified who purchased the SUV. Obviously, that would be a major development in the case.

Peter, we will don't check in with you. Let us know what you think about all this. The live chat is up and running at

Up next: the oil spill. We're going to show you the latest on where it is. But we're also really going to drill down on who is going to pay. President Obama and politicians are saying, well, look, BP is going to foot the bill. You have probably heard that all day. But we're "Keeping Them Honest" tonight: how they are already, how BP already is trying to limit their liability on this thing.

Plus, the first time you will see it on television: A stunning letter from the Vatican signed by the future pope allowed a man already convicted of molestation to stay in the priesthood for years -- a 360 investigation coming up.

ANNOUNCER: Recently on 360: Michael Lewis, Dr. Phil, Demi Moore, Douglas Brinkley, Shakira.

You don't to have miss the "Big 360 Interviews." Set your DVR for A.C. 360.


COOPER: The oil spill now.

Engineers are planning a Hail Mary pass in the coming days to stop the oil that's pouring into the Gulf of Mexico, trying to lower a four-story dome over the ruptured wellhead. But they have never done it so deep or on such a large scale.

In the meantime, the oil keeps on gushing. Take a look at this animation showing the spill's progression since the BP-owned rig blew up off the Louisiana coast. You can see it grow, spread, and change shape as the wind and ocean currents move it around.

Right now, it's about the size of Delaware. And the fear, along with it making landfall, is that it may escape the Gulf and travel up the Eastern Seaboard.

Now, we're going to show you more of the spill in a moment and what's being done to try to stop it. But, first, we have got to talk about BP.

BP officials have been all over the airwaves today saying: We're -- we're all over this. We're going to pay for this.

But how much are they really willing to pay? Today, the CEO of BP, Tony Hayward, on ABC's "Good Morning America," was quick to point out, they shouldn't be blamed for this spill.


TONY HAYWARD, CEO, BP GROUP: This wasn't our accident. This was a drilling rig operated by another company. It was their people, their systems, their processes. We are responsible, not for the accident, but we are responsible for the oil and for dealing with it and cleaning the situation up.


COOPER: Well, "This wasn't our accident," he says, but they're going to clean it up anyway. He said that on all the networks today.

Now, President Obama and a lot of politicians have been saying BP is going to be paying the bill, no matter what. But come over to the wall and take a look at this.

It turns out, under the Oil Pollution Act of 1990, BP only has to pay $75 million worth of damages. Anything more comes out of a fund oil companies paid into over the years with an 8-cent-a-barrel tax, a tax they passed onto consumers.

OK, now, $75 million may seem like a lot, but take a look at this. This is basically $75 million. Now, BP raked in -- get this -- $5.6 billion in profit. And that's just for the last -- for the latest quarter. In other words, $75 million in damages, that's about 29 hours worth of BP profits.

Of course, the law also requires BP to pay for the cleanup, which could top $10 billion, but, again, that's only six months worth of profits. BP is not exactly going to go broke on this.

And this, just to drive the point home, pictures from the Exxon Valdez. Remember, the Exxon Valdez ruined a lot of lives back in 1989. A lot of industries didn't end up paying a penny in compensation. Exxon did not pay a penny in compensation, not one cent, until 19 years later.

And Exxon, which is now ExxonMobil, is now the biggest oil company on Earth. OK? Then take a look at this. This -- this is pretty unbelievable. This is something -- this is a waiver that BP lawyers have been handing out to fishermen and others volunteering to help lay out containment booms and otherwise help in the cleanup.

So, it says on this waiver, "In consideration of my participation in response activities, I hereby agree on behalf of myself and my representatives to hold harmless and indemnify the BP Exploration and Production Incorporated from all claims and damages that I and/or my representatives may have with regards to my participation in the spill response activities."

It's a lot of legalese, but, basically, BP was trying to get volunteers, the fishermen who were going to try to help clean up BP's mess, they were going to trying to get it so that they couldn't sue them if they got injured, they couldn't sue BP.

Well, once it got exposed, the company said, oh, look, this was a misstep, and they have now retracted the waivers. They're not going to make anyone try to sign these anymore.

But all this is making a lot of people very suspicious and very mad at BP.

Gary Tuchman tonight is continuing to keep them honest.


GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): On the Gulf Coast, BP is increasingly a dirty word.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was for the drilling, but, with all this, I don't know.

TUCHMAN: According to lawyers, hundreds of Louisiana residents ready to start cleanup work signed a BP document that was passed around, waiving any claims against the company if they were hurt while doing the work for BP.

Immediately, concerns were raised that BP was trying to buy people off.

Jim Klick is an attorney representing a group of fishermen.

JIM KLICK, ATTORNEY FOR FISHERMAN: We requested that these releases be removed and that they give us back all those releases, that this was outrageous.

TUCHMAN: And the company made a statement, "Any such documents will be rescinded and not binding on anyone signing same."

Meanwhile, other complaints about this petroleum giant.

Roxanna Borries and her husband own a marine construction company.

(on camera): Business is good?


TUCHMAN: What can this oil do to your business?

BORRIES: It could devastate us.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): So, her company, which does dredging, installs bulkheads, and builds mooring for boats, has made an offer to BP and to state officials. She will provide cranes, barges, tugboats and other boats to help in the battle to keep the oil away from shore.

(on camera): What is BP, what is the Coast Guard, what are the state authorities saying to you?

BORRIES: I can't get anybody to answer me.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): Roxanna Borries is incredulous that no one is calling her back. She also runs a large live bait operation that could offer sanctuary to sea animals, too.

BORRIES: It's very frustrating to know that you have means to help, and you feel absolutely helpless, because you cannot get any response from anybody. TUCHMAN: Time is undoubtedly running short.


COOPER: You know, Gary, it was pretty -- I was stunned when I -- when I read this waiver that the BP attorneys were trying to get fishermen to sign. These are fishermen who were volunteering to try to help clean up the mess created by BP's oil, and, basically, it would stop them from being able to -- you know, if they got injured while helping in the cleanup, it would stop them from being able to hold BP liable.

I guess BP has now walked back and said, oh, look, this was just a misstep. This was just kind of standard boilerplate we always hand out.

But, I mean, these -- these waivers were specifically written for this oil spill.

TUCHMAN: Well, it's an interesting scenario, because what we found out today was, in this statement by the BP bosses that was prepared by their lawyers, the bosses say they had no personal knowledge about this waiver.

They weren't denying the waiver existed and that people signed the waiver, but they were saying they had no personal knowledge. So, were there rogue employees, so to speak, handing these out? They did not say in their statement.

But what we do know at this point is that it's implicit in the statement by the BP bosses that they did not like this to begin with. Is that true? Well, we don't know the answer to that, for sure, Anderson.

COOPER: Yes. I mean, clearly, the idea that they have rogue attorneys who are writing legal documents, getting people to sign, specifically for this oil spill, without running it up the chain of command, seems hard to believe, at best.

That woman who couldn't get BP to call her back or respond, Roxanna, has she -- since that report, since you talked to her, has she been able to get in touch with them?

TUCHMAN: Well, we decided, Anderson, to take our CNN cell phones and try to use some of our influence to see if we could do anything. It's a good cause, after all.

We called BP. We called the bosses there. And they said oh, yes, we would love to have her help. Let's see what we can do, but call this guy because she's in charge of the ship program that uses boats and ships for help.

We have been trying to call him now for the last four or five hours, and his phone has just had a busy signal the whole time.

COOPER: All right. Well, all right. Gary, appreciate it. Thanks.

Up next: A Republican congressman says the spill will break up naturally. Rush Limbaugh says basically the same thing. We will talk to a Marine toxicologist to see whether that is, in fact, true.

Also, we will talk to historian Douglas Brinkley, who has some very sharp words about BP and the green image that it tries to present.


COOPER: Well, there's been some truly weird talk about the Gulf oil spill, and it's coming from both sides of the political spectrum.

Democratic Congressman Gene Taylor -- I think I misspoke a moment ago and said he was a Republican -- he's a Democrat -- Gene Taylor of Mississippi, who is just back from touring the slick, compared it to chocolate milk, saying it's kind of breaking up naturally, and said people shouldn't be scared.

Then there's Rush Limbaugh, who suggested the rig might have exploded, might be part of a plot by environmentalists to promote global warming legislation, and also said it will probably break up naturally.

Of course, there's BP, saying, this is not our accident. It's been trying to get volunteers to sign these waivers for claims against the company.

Joining me now is Riki Ott, who is a marine toxicologist with the Earth Island Institute, also presidential historian Douglas Brinkley -- Brinkley.

Riki, Rush Limbaugh and Gene Taylor say this is just going to break up naturally. A, is that true? And, B, does it mean we should just let nature take its course?

RIKI OTT, MARINE TOXICOLOGIST, EARTH ISLAND INSTITUTE: It's going to break up naturally. We're -- same as in Alaska.

We're going to probably wait 40 years or 50 years before it all breaks up naturally. So, it's a matter of rate. And what we're going to see here probably in Louisiana, with a little bit warmer temperature, maybe a little bit more rapid degradation, maybe a little less than 50 years, but who knows how much less.

COOPER: All right. So, leaving it to nature take its course clearly doesn't make any sense.

Now, Doug, BP, as we just talked about, was trying to get volunteers to sign this waiver. And now they're basically disavowing -- or the head of it is disavowing any knowledge of the waiver, saying it was just a misstep. But, clearly, this thing was written by attorneys specifically for this spill.


BRINKLEY: As soon as they're -- BP is getting called out on something, and then they backtrack.

It's been a mess. The disaster has been BP. And I think those two initials are the DDT of our area. When you think back in 1962, when Rachel Carson wrote "Silent Spring," a whole country woke up to what pesticides do to the environment. That's what this spill is doing to the Gulf. People are going to have to wake up anew. We're going to be looking at all of these shoddy kinds of laws and tricks that big oil has played in the Gulf of Mexico.

And BP has taken a hit for everybody now, but it's their third environmental disaster in the United States in the last five years. They had one in Texas City in '05. They had one up in the North Slope in Alaska in '06, and now this one.

So, for them to be acting not accountable, and putting that kind of waiver, having people sign them, all British Petroleum is doing is trying to skirt responsibility right now. And I think you're seeing a great company crumbling before our eyes.

COOPER: Riki, I mean, to say to volunteers, fishermen whose livelihoods are at stake, who are volunteering, at risk to themselves, to go out into the water and, you know, try to stop this thing from coming ashore, to say, sign this waiver because we don't want you to sue us, is pretty extraordinary.

Have you ever seen anything like it?

OTT: Exact same thing happened in the Exxon Valdez oil spill. Only, workers were paid workers, and they were offered another $600.50 to sign waivers of future health claims. And what the medical doctors...

COOPER: Wait. Wait. Wait a minute. Wait. Exxon was paying people to sign a waiver like this one saying they wouldn't sue in the future?

OTT: At the same time as they were paying them, Exxon was also telling workers, don't worry, this stuff is as safe as pancake syrup, and we have got vest monitoring patches on you, so we will monitor air quality, implying that, if the air quality was harmful, they would pull workers off the beach.

I uncover in courts records, 6,722 cleanup workers who reported upper respiratory illnesses and air quality monitoring data that shows off-the-chart overexposure, and nobody was pulled. The extra 50 cents, by the way, was so Exxon could track the workers when they filed their 1099 forms.

COOPER: Doug, do you buy -- when -- when politicians -- when President Obama says BP is going to pay for this thing in full, do you -- do you -- do you buy that?

BRINKLEY: No. The American people in the end are going to end up paying this immense bill.

Remember, this thing is still gushing. We have, the best-case scenario, another week. It could be a month, where the eco-disaster that is beholding us, the American people are going to have a wakeup.

I mentioned Rachel Carson. When Stewart Udall, who just died this year, our interior secretary, took over then in 1964 for Lyndon Johnson, they pushed through a Wilderness Act. They did clean and scenic rivers. We suddenly woke up to the fact that the Great Lakes were on fire, that chemicals were in them. That's what we're seeing happening to the Gulf of Mexico here.

It's a similar type of crisis. This will be seen in history, the BP spill, as a moment of galvanizing the green movement, climate, conservationists, all in an effort to try to curtail some of this offshore drilling and sloppy oil practices of big corporations.

COOPER: Doug, you wrote the definitive book on Hurricane Katrina, an oral history of what happened. A lot of folks, conservatives, are trying to say this is Barack Obama's Katrina. Is there any comparison?

BRINKLEY: There's no comparison whatsoever between them.

This was a corporate bungle -- it might be three or four corporations by the end of the day -- of a deadly magnitude. Katrina had an engineering failure, the levees in New Orleans, and this is also an engineering failure.

And there's a connection there. But the Obama administration has done nothing wrong. This has been British Petroleum not having a plan A or a plan B or plan C or plan D for coping with capping this. They are winging it. And they are winging it as we speak right now.

And you're going to be seeing more and more whistle-blower memos coming out about British Petroleum -- Bobby Kennedy Jr. was on "LARRY KING" starting it -- about what this company has been hiding and doing in the Gulf of Mexico over the past years.

COOPER: We are going to have to leave it there.

Riki, we will have you on again, Doug Brinkley as well. Thank you very much.

A story, unfortunately, we're going to be covering a long time, because this thing is not going away.

Still ahead: houses floating down the interstate. That's how bad those deadly storms in the Southeast have become. We will have the latest on that.

And later: Why didn't the Vatican remove this man from the priesthood? This guy, he admitted he had a history of molesting kids. He was convicted of molesting children. The paper trail leads directly to Cardinal Ratzinger, the man who is now the pope. What our investigation uncovered when we confront that former priest, when we continue.


COOPER: Well, it is still not clear when a major amount of oil from the Gulf will actually reach shore and where it's going to reach shore. The slick is actually smaller than it was last week. The most recent satellite images show it now covers about 2,000 square miles. Strong waves may have pushed some of the oil under water.

Tonight, the question is, where is all the oil headed?

Let's dig deeper now. Rob Marciano -- meteorologist Rob Marciano joins me from Gulfport, Mississippi.

Rob, you went up in a plane today, saw for yourself -- saw for yourself how this oil is spreading. What did it look like?

ROB MARCIANO, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Well, the first thing we saw, Anderson, when we took off were the expanse of sandy beaches that go unprotected. We did see a few containment booms on some of the barrier islands just south of Gulfport.

But we ran into oil about 30 miles south of the Mississippi coastline, the Chandelier Islands, barrier islands just east of New Orleans. And then we follow the trail farther south into the gulf, where ironically, a river of oil is surrounding a whole cluster of oil rigs. The oil rigs there were there to drill thousands of feet deep, trying to extract the oil. It's there floating around them in this bad action.

On a good note, we did fly over the Mississippi Delta. We did not see any oil along the shorelines of the Mississippi Delta. But when you looked south and east, the expanse all the way to the horizon before the bad weather turned us around, you could see the oil sheen and slick and heavy crude for as far as the eye could see.

COOPER: And the bad weather, I know, has broken up a lot of the containment devices that were put in place. Where is the oil heading? That's really the bottom line.

MARCIANO: Well, the past three days, it's been -- we've had that strong wind out of the south. And that is what got everybody so nervous, because that was moving the oil farther to the north.

Well, now, in the next couple of days, the winds are going to be light. So it's just going to be drifting around. I don't think it's going to make landfall, so to speak, over the next couple of days.

Beyond that it may be -- there's a chance it gets picked up by the loop current in the gulf, maybe even gets pulled around, you know, the southern tip of Florida. That's -- that's a long shot. But it's entirely possible.

Beyond the next two or three days, Anderson, it's really anybody's guess what's going to happen with that sheen of oil in the Gulf of Mexico. COOPER: Rob Marciano from Gulfport. Rob, thanks very much.

The ruptured well is dumping more than 200,000 gallons of oil a day into the Gulf of Mexico. Stopping that flow is more than daunting. It's really never been done before at this kind of depth.

Tom Foreman has been tracking the efforts to try to find a solution -- Tom.


This is our first best look at the best hope for stopping those fountains of oil gushing into the Gulf of Mexico. This is a giant device being constructed in Port Fouchard (ph), Louisiana.

Here's part of it down here. It's a big sort of a box like this, and then here is the other part of it up here, which sits on top. You can see it's a cone sort of like this. You put those two together, and you have, as I said, probably the best hope that we have right now for doing something about this.

And this is how it's going to work. It looks very much like I expected to, based on conversations I had with the scientists last week. Once it's assembled, this big box and cone, they will sort of sit together like this.

Now, what they're going to do with this is take it down into this area. This weighs about 100 tons, 40 feet tall and 50 feet -- 15 feet wide, about 40 feet tall. And this is, in effect, a giant underwater vacuum head.

Let's look down at this deep, dark area a mile down to see what it's dealing with. This is like the rig up 1,500 feet away from the well head. We put it in the back, small, because it's off in the distance. And we have three big leaks here. One near this thing here, which is supposed to be the blowout preventer. This thing has not worked. They have not been able to turn it on. So that's where the biggest leak is. And then they have two smaller ones.

Here's the idea. They bring this device in here, and they bring it down slowly, the idea being that, if they can, they will slowly bring it down above this well and completely cover over that spill.

Then, with this sitting up on top, they hook a pipe to the top -- it's obviously not to scale here because of the size of water. They then put the pipe at the top. It's -- already have one in place. And with that, they'll be able to run a hose in the top of this, and that hose will go up to the top and will feed into a barge and pump all of that oil and water out. That's the idea. The pressure of this oil naturally wants to rise to the surface, so they should be able to do it themselves.

But they can't just cap it off, because there's too much pressure. So what they want to do is put this in, imbed it in the gulf floor, anchor it there, and then let it siphon up to the barge to the surface, Anderson. COOPER: That's obviously difficult to do at that kind of depth. You're also dealing with, you know, submersible -- you know, I guess submarines, which were remote controlled. What about the other leaks? I mean, that's just for that one leak.

FOREMAN: That is just for that one. They're trying to build some smaller ones for the smaller leaks over here, but this is the big priority. Because they believe, if this works -- and you're right, it is going to be tricky, because you're a mile down. It's never been done this deep. That will stop 85 percent of the flow. That is the belief.

Naturally, as I said, oil wants to rise. They may need some pumps to help it along, but they think that basic chemistry will keep it flowing, and that will solve the problem. We'll just have to see, Anderson.

COOPER: Yes, it still could take -- my understanding was it still could take a week, and it's not a permanent fix. There's also a relief well they're drilling. What is that?

FOREMAN: Yes. That's a very good point, Anderson. Even if this does work. Let's say that all this is gone and this is busy down here, pumping this away, and somehow we've managed to contain these. You really haven't solved the problem. That's why they brought another rig in over here.

What this other rig is going to do is it's going to put another drilling line down here, and they are going to try to drill down here into the old well.

Now, the scientists I talked to about this said this is really like threading the needle from a mile away down here to interrupt this. But if they do it, then they have the capability of either tapping that well or putting concrete in here and basically cutting off all this oil altogether. That's a more permanent solution. This is just something to get by now. Maybe, maybe, maybe could be in place before the week is out. That would be a big step in the right direction, Anderson.

COOPER: Yes. I can hear you.

All right, Tom. Thanks. Appreciate it. Thanks for the explanation.

Coming up next, deadly storms flooding across the south has taken lives. It's submerged cars and homes and nearly everything it its path. We have an update.

And tonight, why was the future Pope Benedict reluctant to defrock a molester priest? The guy's already been convicted. He got several letters pleading for action over the course of years when he was a cardinal. So what was the delay? Well, we'll show you what we uncovered when we confront the former priest.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) COOPER: Following a number of stories tonight. Tom Foreman joins us again with a "360 News & Business Bulletin" -- Tom.

FOREMAN: Hey, Anderson.

Severe weather that's been pounding the southeast is now blamed for at least 27 deaths. In Tennessee, floodwaters are so powerful they lifted a mobile home from its foundation, sent it floating down Interstate 24.

Thousands in Nashville have taken refuge in emergency shelters after 13 inches of rain fell in the city in just two days.

Iran's president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, blasted the U.S. and Israel during a nuclear disarmament meeting at United Nations. Delegates from the U.S., the United Kingdom and France, as you can see, walked out as Ahmadinejad blamed the U.S. for the global nuclear arms race.

And the maker of several over-the-counter drugs, including Tylenol, Motrin and Benadryl, says it is taking corrective action after its U.S. plant voluntarily recalled 40 widely-used products for children and infants. It's the fourth recall in seven months for that company, a division of Johnson & Johnson -- Anderson.

COOPER: All right, Tom. Thanks.

Up next, a letter signed by Joseph Ratzinger, the man who's now the pope, delaying for years the removal of an American priest who had already been convicted of sexual abuse. We confront the former priest tonight.


GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I just want to ask you one question. One question. I just want to ask you one question, Mr. Kiesle.

(voice-over) I wanted to ask him if he was sorry for molesting children. And a second question, if I could. How he felt about the Vatican's delay in removing him from the priesthood. Kiesle opened his window, told me it was all a long time ago, and drove home.


COOPER: And later, Conan O'Brien, the former "Tonight Show" host, getting serious about his breakup with NBC and about his opinion of Jay Leno. His words coming up tonight.


COOPER: Protecting predator priests instead of their prey. That is at the center of the growing sex scandal rocking the Catholic Church. As we've been reporting, questions surrounded Pope Benedict XVI, who when he was cardinal, enforced the church's doctrine on faith and morals.

Well, tonight, an accusation from survivors of abuse in California that the future pope delayed the removal of a pedophile priest. And as you'll see if in our 360 investigation, the most damaging evidence may have been put in writing.

Here's Gary Tuchman with Tonight's "Crime & Punishment" report.


TUCHMAN (voice-over): The man in this car is a convicted child molester. He's also a former Catholic priest. He served time in prison. His abuses cost the church millions in settlement money to his many victims.

STEPHEN KIESLE, FORMER PRIEST: Obviously, I had an inclination to improper conduct with children.

FOREMAN: This is Stephen Kiesle, but this story is about the man who was asked to expel him and who resisted. The man who today leads the Catholic Church, Pope Benedict XVI.

In the 1970s, Kiesle was studying to be a priest at the seminary near San Jose. He took this picture of an 11-year-old boy named Bob Starbuddy (ph). Today, Starbuddy (ph) is 52, and he's received nearly $1 million from the diocese of Oakland, California after what he says were years of molestation by Father Steve, often at the seminary.

(on camera) What would you say to him if you saw him today?


FOREMAN: Kiesle testified in the deposition in 2005 when many victims sued him in civil court. This is what he said happened in the late '70s when he was a young priest.

KIESLE: I was accused of improperly touching six boys from the ages of, like, 13 and 15, and pleaded no contest.

FOREMAN: Kiesle was sentenced to probation. At the time, he also decided he no longer wanted to be a priest. The bishop of the Oakland diocese agreed.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Bishop, would you please state your full name for the record and spelling your last?


FOREMAN: Cummins said Kiesle needed to go, but once a priest, always a priest. Only the Vatican can defrock. So in 1981, Bishop Cummins wrote to the Vatican, stating Kiesle took, quote, "sexual liberties with at least six young men, ranging from 11 to 13 years of age during the period of November 1977 to May 1978." The bishop, who is now retired and didn't want to talk to CNN, went on, "It is our opinion that Father Stephen Kiesle be relieved of all of the obligations of the priesthood."

It was the first of a chain of letters: the bishop writing in English, letters back from the Vatican in Latin. It went on over four years, until finally a Vatican letter came saying Rome needed even more time because, "We deem it necessary to consider the good of the universal church."

(on camera) Keep in mind, at the time the letters were written to the Vatican, Stephen Kiesle wasn't claiming he was innocent. He had already been punished for his crimes against the children. So why wouldn't the Vatican remove him from the priesthood immediately?

We'd like to ask the man who signed the Vatican letter, but there may be no tougher interview in the world to get.

(voice-over) That's because the signature is from Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who was then the chief enforcer of church doctrine, but who is now Pope Benedict.

Rick Simmons is an attorney who has filed suits against the church.

RICK SIMMONS, ATTORNEY: It's clear that their first concern was the reputation of the church, that their overriding concern was "What will this do to us?"

FOREMAN: A lawyer for the Vatican would not go on camera but told CNN the bishops are responsible for keeping their priests out of trouble and that the Vatican had a policy of not defrocking young priests.

Attorney Jeffrey Lina (ph) added, "Could things have been done better? Probably. But you have to understand that back then people did not grasp the extent of this problem in Rome. The vast majority of these cases were not reported to Rome at all. They were handled locally."

But the bishop in Oakland persisted at the time. He was explicit in his fears about his problem priest. He wrote the future pope, "It is my conviction that there would be no scandal if this petition were granted, and there might be greater scandal if Father Kiesle were allowed to return to the act of ministry."

Mike Brown is the spokesman for the diocese of Oakland.

(on camera) Are you comfortable with the job that this diocese did to protect children?


TUCHMAN (voice-over): And yet Kiesle, who was still Father Kiesle, somehow was allowed to volunteer at the same church where he'd been an active priest. (on camera) Do we know for sure he didn't molest children when he was a volunteer (ph) at St. Joseph's?

BROWN: Well, we don't know for sure anything.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): A decade earlier, we know Father Kiesle was teaching a class at St. Joseph's. And these four women were in it. They each say they kept a secret for years, that Father Kiesle was also molesting them. They recently learned about the letters to then-Cardinal Ratzinger and are considering their own lawsuits.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm devastated by him. I can't believe that he would let that go and think, for the better of the church, let's no do this. What about the better of the kids?

FOREMAN: You must also hear this woman's story, who says she was molested. She is the daughter of Kiesle's current wife.

TERRI ROSSON, DAUGHTER OF KIESLE'S WIFE: He is just so sick, and I can't believe that I had to have him in my life all those years, knowing what he has done to everybody now.

FOREMAN: Finally, six years after the bishop first wrote, Cardinal Ratzinger's office removed Kiesle from the priesthood.

Then, after he was defrocked, Kiesle molested again. It was 1995. He victimized a girl. He recently got out of prison for that.

(on camera) Stephen Kiesle and his wife live in a gated community outside of San Francisco. When somebody like me shows up, the people at the gate say you can't come in unless you're invited. Kiesle is a registered sex offender who is protected, which is quite the irony, considering his sorry history of protecting others.

(voice-over) As it turns out, a resident invited us in, and that's why Stephen Kiesle was so surprised.

(on camera) I just want to ask you one question. One question. I just want to ask you one question, Mr. Kiesle.

(voice-over) I wanted to ask him if he was sorry for molesting children. And a second question, if I could. How he felt about the Vatican's delay in removing him from the priesthood. Kiesle opened his window, told me it was all a long time ago, and drove off.

Gary Tuchman, CNN, Walnut Creek, California.


COOPER: Shameless.

Up next, an update on the popular Washington, D.C., principal found murdered in his home. We'll tell you how police say he met his alleged killers.

And Conan O'Brien, talking about his exit from NBC, says he doesn't blame the network, but what he has to say about Jay Leno.


COOPER: Tom Foreman joins us again with a "360 Bulletin" -- Tom.

FOREMAN: Hey, Anderson.

Two 18-year-old men are charged with the murder of a popular Washington, D.C., principal who was found shot to death in his home last month. Police say Brian Betts met his alleged killers on a phone sex chat line. The mother of one of the suspects is charged with using Betts' stolen credit card.

South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford won't face criminal charges following an investigation into his travel and campaign expenses. That is the decision today from South Carolina's attorney general. Sanford's travel records came under scrutiny after he admitted an extramarital affair last June with a woman in Argentina.

And in his first television interview since leaving "The Tonight Show," comedian Conan O'Brien told "60 Minutes" how he feels about Jay Leno.


CONAN O'BRIEN, COMEDIAN: It's hard for me to get inside his head and argue his side of his whole thing. I -- here's what I can say. I'm happy with my decision. I sleep well at night, and I, you know, I hope he's happy with his decision.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you think that Jay lobbied for this?

O'BRIEN: I don't know, but what I know is what happened, which is that he went and took that show back.


FOREMAN: Serious talk there.

COOPER: It was interesting.

Tom, for tonight's "Shot," what a lucky dog. We found this clip on You have to watch it. Check out how close this dog got to a lightning strike.





COOPER: I'm not sure I buy that. Do you think that's true? Is that real? Can we see that again?

FOREMAN: I don't know about that one.

COOPER: I don't know.

FOREMAN: Do you think that's real?

COOPER: I don't know. You kind of see a bolt.

FOREMAN: You do sort of.

COOPER: Want to see it again? Let's see him go again.

I don't buy it.

FOREMAN: I don't buy that either. Plus, my dog would be over that fence...


FOREMAN: ... if a bolt went behind him like that.

COOPER: Yes. I don't buy it at all.

FOREMAN: Fun to look at, though.

COOPER: We'll see. Exactly.

Tom, thanks very much.

More ahead at the top of the hour. We're going to update you on the attempted bombing in Times Square. Breaking news on the investigation about a possible international connection. We'll be right back.