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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Arizona's New Controversy; Oil Spill Gulf Coast Catastrophe; Sebastian Junger's "War"; A Cop's Story Questioned; Saving Computers and the Planet
Aired May 12, 2010 - 23:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Tonight, the newest Arizona uproar, this time, over what school kids are learning: allegations that Latino pupils are being taught to resent other races and even to want to overthrow the U.S. government. Does it sound absurd? Well, state legislators say the threat is real enough to pass a new law against it.
The question is do they have a shred of evidence? We're "Keeping Them Honest."
Also tonight for the first time in your face pictures what a 5,000-barrel-a-day oil spill looks like. What BP is trying now to stop it and why some are calling their backup plan actually plugging the leak with golf balls and other junk, worse than a bad joke?
Also tonight: a crime story that isn't what it seemed. The police sergeant shot on patrol. He blamed a black man in a black neighborhood but he was lying. The truth was something else entirely and now the punishment is much less than anyone expected. "Crime and Punishment" tonight.
First up though, "Keeping Them Honest." Politicians in Arizona now targeting ethnic studies classes in schools. First it was that make President Obama show his birth certificate bill which failed and then the law giving police broad discretion to stop suspected illegal immigrants that passed, and now House Bill 2281, this is a copy of it right here.
Arizona's Governor Jan Brewer signed it very quietly late yesterday. I want to show you some of what this new law says over here on the wall. As I said it's HB-2281. "It bars any school district or charter school from including in its curriculum any courses or classes that, one, promote the overthrow of the United States government, promote resentment toward a race or class of people, or designed primarily for pupils of a particular ethnic group or advocate ethnic solidarity instead of the treatment of pupils as individuals."
Now, certainly the first two seem pretty straightforward, right? I mean, who wants a class that teaches kids to overthrow the United States government or resent a race or group of people? But is design a class for kids of a particular ethnic group wrong? Is advocating ethnic pride or solidarity wrong?
Well, Arizona's superintendent of public education Tom Horne, this man right here, says the bill was aimed at Tucson's Chicano or Mexican-American studies program, which he says, is teaching kids that they are victims, and that they should be quote, "angry and rise up." He says these teachings are quote, "destructive, ethnic chauvinism."
The Tucson school board president says the program does none of that and none of what the bill actually outlaws. Superintendent Horne is actually going to join us in just a moment and so will Georgetown University sociologist Michael Eric Dyson.
Before that though, the fact is that whatever you think of this law and the new immigration law, Arizona's paying a price for their recent laws. Just today the Los Angeles City Council passed a boycott resolution barring L.A. from doing business with Arizona until the immigration law is repealed, a law, the resolution calls racial profiling.
Arizona's governor now strongly disagrees. California's governor meantime, kind of taking a swipe over at Arizona today. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER (R), CALIFORNIA: I was able to go and give a commencement speech in Arizona, but with my accent I was worried they're going to deport me back to Austria. So I canceled that idea right away.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: All right let's "Dig Deeper" now in this fight over ethnic studies with Tom Horne whom we mentioned ago -- a moment ago, also sociologist Michael Eric Dyson who teaches a course on race and ethnicity at Georgetown University.
I appreciate both of you being with us. Tom, why shouldn't black literature, Chicano literature, specific courses designed to introduce kids to other point of views be taught?
TOM HORNE, ARIZONA SUPERINTENDENT OF PUBLIC INSTRUCTION: Well, the standards that we promulgate require that all social studies classes teach different cultures. We want all kids to be exposed to a lot of different cultures but what I'm opposed is dividing kids up so they have Raza studies for the Chicano kids. Raza means the race in Spanish. African-American studies for the African-American kids, Asian studies for the Asian kids.
COOPER: But what's wrong with that? If an African-American kid who wants a class that has a focus on African-American studies, what's wrong with that?
HORNE: What's wrong with it is that it divides students up by race. And I believe that one of the principal ideas of the American public school system is, we bring kids together and we teach them to treat each others as individuals. What matters about a person is, what does he know, what can he do, what's his character or hers, not what race was he born into.
And one of our important functions is to teach kids, teach kids from different backgrounds, to treat each other as individuals, and not to -- not to infuse them with ethnic chauvinism about a particular race. And teach them narrowly just about the background and culture of the race they happened to have been born into, but to teach them about all different cultures and different races and different traditions, and not divide them up by race. That -- I think that's really backwards.
COOPER: Michael, you have taught a course like this at Georgetown. Mr. Horne is basically saying, look, these classes are teaching these kids that they had been oppressed and that it creates anger and hatred, he said.
MICHAEL ERIC DYSON, PROFESSOR, GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY: Well, it's ironic to me. First of all, Mr. Horne doesn't see the contradiction in terms, because he has targeted this law towards Chicano studies. So, he's targeted a special racial subgroup, an ethnic group within the large panoply of American identities for this program.
Number two, what's interesting is that ethnic studies are rife in American history. But the ethnicities happen to be Polish, Irish, Italian; they happen to white, European, western and eastern European identities that are the basis of ethnic identity and what constitutes American history.
If there was an integration of Chicano studies, of African- American studies, of Latino studies, of gay and lesbian studies into the broader curriculum, there would be no need to have these sub groupings and these sub cultural attention paid to these particular formations.
Thirdly, I teach classes all the time at Georgetown and before that at Penn and at DePaul University, and most of my students happened to be non -- people who are not -- students of color. So, they happened to be African-American, but they also happen to be Latino, Asian-Americans and white Americans.
I think that white Americans benefit from Chicano studies. I think that white Americans benefit from Latino studies. I think that white Americans benefit from African-American studies.
And, finally, if we are talking about American history and being -- shying away from the history of oppression, we're not talking about American history. I live in Washington, D.C. right next door, the governor of Virginia failed to mention that slavery was a critical part of the Civil War.
This is why we need these area studies, to remind us the true history of America. And I think that Mr. Horne would agree that, when we tell the truth about American history the blood, the glory, the -- the hardships and all of that needs to be told, along with the great celebration of American democracy.
COOPER: Mr. Horne, a lot to respond to. I've got to take a quick break.
Gentlemen, just stay with us. We're going to continue the conversation on the other side of the break.
A reminder: the live chat is up and running right now at AC360.com. Join in on the conversation.
Also ahead tonight: with Afghanistan's President in Washington and suddenly the Obama White House saying talk of dissension with Afghanistan is overblown, "The Big 360 Interview," Sebastian Junger, who -- the author who spent many months at one of the deadliest combat outposts in the country. He has a new book about the war called "War." We'll ask him, simply, if it can be won.
Also, new images of the Gulf oil gusher and your suggestions about how to stop it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
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COOPER: The Republican Party today chose Tampa-Saint Petersburg, Florida, for its 2012 presidential convention, over Salt Lake City and Phoenix -- RNC Chairman Michael Steele denying that Arizona's new immigration law played a part in the decision.
Other organizations, though, making it very plain, citing the new law, the climate they say it creates, and taking business elsewhere; an African-American fraternity convention in July, an arts society conference next spring. All in all, according to the Arizona Hotel and Lodging Association, 23 meetings worth about $10 million worth in business have so far been canceled because of the immigration law. And now this curriculum law.
Let's "Dig Deeper": back now with Tom Horne, Arizona's Superintendent of Public Instruction, and Sociologist Michael Eric Dyson.
Tom, you said that Chicano studies is teaching kids they have been oppressed, and it makes them angry and unruly. Hasn't there been a history of oppression, though, that ethnic groups in this country and shouldn't kids learn that?
HORNE: Well, let me say that I didn't say that. I was quoting a former teacher who said that. We have testimony from a number of teachers and former teachers about the radical separatist agenda that the Raza studies program has. (CROSSTALK)
COOPER: You did say -- you did say that, actually, in your -- in your arguments that you published as an open letter to the people of Tucson.
HORNE: Yes, I was quoting a teacher. So, it wasn't from -- I wasn't just asserting it. We had quotations from a witness that that --
COOPER: But -- but you believe that. Why do you believe that?
I mean, shouldn't -- shouldn't -- if there has been a history of oppression, which most people would say there has, why shouldn't that be taught?
HORNE: The -- the textbook that they use called "The Pedagogy of the oppressed" by Paulo Freire, who is a well-known Brazilian communist, I've read the book. The sources are Marx, Engels, Lenin, Che Guevara, the philosophers who influenced them.
And these kids' parents and grandparents came to this country, most of them legally, because this is the land of opportunity. And they trust their children to our schools. And we should be teaching these kids that this is the land of opportunity, and if they work hard, they can achieve their dreams, and not teach them that they're oppressed.
In fact, one of the girls from the -- they sent up some of the kids from the program --
COOPER: So, is there no racism today? I mean, is there -- and is that something that should not be discussed?
HORNE: That's not the predominant atmosphere of America. America's a land of opportunity. And we should be teaching the kids that this is a land of opportunity and not teach them the downer that they're oppressed and they can't get anywhere. They should be angry against their government. They should be angry against the country.
There's what the teachers are saying their observation is that has been going on in this Raza studies program. In fact, I brought in a picture that you might want to show that shows the revolutionary garb that they wore when they protested against my law with masks, sunglasses, berets, brown shirts.
This is a revolutionary program which is an absolute abuse of taxpayer money to do that --
COOPER: Michael --
HORNE: -- in the public schools. And we had -- there was a girl -- they sent up a bunch of students to testify at the legislature. And a girl was testifying. A state senator said, couldn't you learn these things in other courses?
And she said, no, before I took this course, I didn't realize I was oppressed. Now that I took the course, I realized that I'm oppressed.
COOPER: Michael, what about that?
DYSON: Well, this is ludicrous.
Paulo Freire, the correct pronunciation of the Brazilian philosopher, talked about the pedagogy of the oppressed, learning of people who have been oppressed. You could talk about Michel Foucault, who is a Frenchman. You could talk about Jacques Derrida.
There are many people who talk about oppression and the release from oppression and how we gain relief from it.
In fact, Anderson, the history of America is to seek relief from the oppression of the British so we could establish this country. So, we are teaching relief from oppression when we talk about the relief from the British.
But, more -- more specifically, this is ludicrous to assume that the entire history and culture of a people can be reduced to responses to white supremacy, social injustice and inequality. The reality is, we have fought those battles, but we have made America better.
When Martin Luther King Jr. marched, that should be taught, not simply to African-American people, but to Americans, because he fought against the principles and practices of prejudice, so that the ideals of democracy could become real.
Cesar Chavez when he fought for the workers' rights there in California, needs to be -- that story needs to be told, so that Americans can understand that they were histories of people who oppressed these people.
COOPER: But, Michael, when -- when -- when people see that picture of, you know, kids dressed up in khaki garb, that's going to concern some people. Why -- why --
DYSON: Well, I -- I understand that. I don't -- I don't mind people being critical of certain aspects. But that's just like saying the TEA Party Movement that is out now that has racist and vitriolic portrayals of Senator Obama -- of President Obama, should be wiped out altogether.
And I'm sure that many people say, no, there are legitimate points to be made, but those racist elements must be dealt with. I don't think that -- I understand why it would be problematic, but radical separatism has been practiced by American government, practices in terms of legal segregation.
COOPER: So --
DYSON: The most radically separatist organization in this country has been the American government. So, now we want to not deny the legitimacy of telling people the truth. We want to say, bring the truth in the open, so we can understand the greatness of this country.
But we can't do so by pretending that the ugliness did not exist.
COOPER: So, Tom, what about that?
COOPER: I mean are you throwing the baby out with the bathwater? Or why not just try to change the curriculum?
HORNE: You know what? I was on that march on Washington in 19 -- summer of 1963 -- I had just graduated from high school -- where Martin Luther King gave his famous speech, saying, we should be judged by the quality of our character, and not the color of our skin.
And that has been my most fundamental belief my entire life, that we are individuals. We are not exemplars of the race we were born into. And this philosophy that's preached by this program in Tucson and by your other guest, that's a race-obsessed philosophy and it's a downer philosophy. Teach people that they're oppressed.
DYSON: Well, look --
HORNE: -- make them angry.
DYSON: You know what? Well, he's the reality --
HORNE: Make it so that they don't -- they don't have hope for their future.
DYSON: Let me jump in, let me jump in too.
HORNE: This is not the way to teach kids.
DYSON: Let me jump in, too.
I'm saying that it's not about -- you -- you keep saying downer. Look, it's a downer that people are oppressed, it's a downer that people are depressed. It's a downer that people suffer injustice.
HORNE: That's not what you should be teaching them.
DYSON: But -- hold on. But the thing is, if we don't deal with the downers, we can't deal with what's up. We have got to deal with --
HORNE: There are --
DYSON: How many stories have we told about Benjamin Franklin? How many stories have we told about Aaron Burr? How many stories have we told about the founding fathers and brothers?
And then let's tell the truth about Thomas Jefferson, a great American. He wrote the -- the declaration -- I mean the declaration of independence, but he also -- one of the authors -- but he was also a slaveholder.
Let's tell the truth about the downer to Sally Hemmings (ph) and then we can tell the full truth about Thomas Jefferson and the full arc of democracy.
This kind of ostrich approach, where we deny the legitimacy --
COOPER: Ok. I want Tom to be able to --
DYSON: -- of people --
DYSON: -- first we oppressed them. Didn't we get mad if they say they were oppressed? And then when they say they are part of American history, we deny them. This is a central part of American history that we need to know.
COOPER: Let's let Tom respond. I want you to be able to respond.
HORNE: Let's teach American history to all of the kids. And we can show both sides of issues when we teach history to all the kids.
But don't divide them by race and teach the black kids black history, the Chicano kids Chicano history, the Asian kids Asian history. They should all be exposed to all the history.
HORNE: And it's a race-obsessed philosophy that should be kept out of our schools that kids should be put in courses where they only learn about the history of the race they happened to have been born into. That is the wrong philosophy for the American public schools.
DYSON: No. No. If you have been -- if you have been demoralized and degraded, and your history has not been taught, why should we have to have a special class for Chicano studies? Why doesn't the larger curriculum --
HORNE: We don't have to.
DYSON: Let me tell you -- deal with the -- deal with the profound and sophisticated contributions of Chicano people to American society. Once that happens --
HORNE: We have that in our standards.
DYSON: Wait a minute. Let me finish --
HORNE: We have that in our standards. All the kids have to learn that.
DYSON: Once that happens -- once that happens, then, when we integrate the full arc of the contributions of demoralized and degraded peoples into the curriculum, then we won't need that curriculum. Until that time --
COOPER: Tom, I've got to jump in here. Tom, let me ask you, a lot of your critics say, look, this is about politics. You want to run for attorney general. You're running for attorney general. Your term is up as superintendent. Is that true; you're running for attorney general?
HORNE: Yes, I am running for attorney general. I have served eight years as superintendent of schools, and that's all that's allowed.
COOPER: So, to your critics who say this is about politics, you're basically trying to appeal to potential voters out there?
HORNE: I have been fighting for this law for four years. And this is among my most deeply held beliefs.
I mentioned to you being on the march on Washington, where Martin Luther King gave his speech. I have -- believe very deeply that people are individuals. They are not exemplars of the race they were born into and this race-obsessed philosophy that your other guest is expounding --
DYSON: Sir --
HORNE: -- and what's going on in Tucson is wrong for the American public schools.
DYSON: It's not race-obsessed.
First of all, you repeated that same statement earlier, so it's a great line. But the reality is, Martin Luther King Jr. Said, the whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundation of this nation until the negro -- and we can add others -- are granted his full citizenship rights.
He talked about the bitter legacy of white supremacy, before he began to talk about that dream. And then he said that, in America, it's an ideal toward which we should strive, but in the meantime, we should adjust to the reality that we have some negative realities that we should adjust to, and that we should address.
DYSON: And I think that Martin Luther King Jr. cannot be used to justify xenophobic and racist passions that are dressed up as desires to reform the curriculum.
HORNE: Well, I would say the xenophobia and the racism is on your side. Martin Luther King --
DYSON: Not at all; I don't want to keep anybody out. I don't want to keep anybody out. I want to include all people.
HORNE: Martin Luther --
DYSON: Arizona has been deeply, profoundly racist and xenophobic.
HORNE: No, you want to divide kids by race. You want to divide kids by race. Martin Luther King --
DYSON: No, I want -- I want white kids to learn about Chicano people. I want white kids to learn about African-American people.
HORNE: Martin Luther King -- Martin Luther King inspired us all by saying that we should be judged by the content of our character and not the color of our skin.
DYSON: The night before he died --
HORNE: And that's what we should be teaching in our public schools.
DYSON: Martin Luther King, Jr. said, America, all I ask you is to be true to what you said on paper.
HORNE: Treat people as individuals.
COOPER: Wait. One at a time, because both at a time, no one's going to listen. Michael, finish up.
DYSON: -- the African-American people and others. Now you must raise them up.
Martin Luther King Jr. cannot be taken out of context. And you can't use one speech, as if you froze him in 1963, without seeing what he said in 1968, where he was bitterly opposed to the practices of most of what America was doing in the name of freedom and democracy.
That's the tradition I think that the people in -- who support Chicano studies in Arizona are carrying forward.
COOPER: Tom, I want you to be able to respond. Then we got to go.
HORNE: Ok. It is not out of context to say that he's inspired us all with the idea that we are to be judged as individuals, what can we do, what is our character, not what race do we happen to have been born into.
Don't divide kids by race. Don't propagandize kids that they are oppressed, and that they have no future, and they should be angry at this country.
COOPER: But anyone can take -- Tom, anyone can take these classes, right?
HORNE: Teach them that this is the land of opportunity -- teach them that this is the land of opportunity, where, if they work hard, they can achieve their dreams and teach them American history.
COOPER: Tom, anyone -- just for accuracy's sake, anyone can take these classes?
HORNE: Anyone can take the classes.
HORNE: But they're designed primarily for the race, either the --
COOPER: Tom Horne --
HORNE: -- African-American --
COOPER: Got to leave it --
HORNE: -- the Chicano --
COOPER: Tom Horne, Michael Eric Dyson --
HORNE: -- the Asian, or the Indians.
COOPER: Guys, I appreciate your time. Good discussion.
DYSON: Thank you.
COOPER: Let's look at this new video released today by BP showing the leak blasting oil into the Gulf of Mexico.
The truth is BP really has no idea how to stop this anytime soon. They're planning to shove golf balls and rubber into the valve to try to plug the leak. It seems pretty far-fetched.
We asked viewers if they have any better ideas. We'll tell you what some of them came up with.
We'll also talk with Congressman Ed Markey, who has blasted BP for their lack of planning.
And, later, he spent months at one of the most violent outposts in Afghanistan, author, filmmaker Sebastian Junger on what he saw, what he sees for the war ahead -- "The Big 360 Interview" tonight.
COOPER: Well, 23 days after the explosion that caused the Gulf oil spill, BP released video today, finally giving the world its first look at the leaking well a mile underwater.
Take a look. That's what 210,000 gallons per day looks like. I'll say it again: 210,000 gallons per day. Efforts to stop the spill with a four-story-tall containment dome that failed last weekend.
Since then, BP, which owns the well, has offered a bunch of ideas for stopping the leak. But, frankly, they all seem kind of half- baked, the most surprising, something they are calling the junk shot, which involves shooting old golf balls, tires, rubber, cement into the leak.
We're talking about golf balls and tires. So, that got us thinking, if that's best BP can do, maybe you can do better.
So, we posed the question on our blog. Here's what some of you came up with, some solutions.
Gayle in Malden, Massachusetts wrote: "How about using feathers? If the oil sticks to birds enough to smother them, then I would assume it acts like hair and will hold on to oil. Are there any down or feather companies that could be contacted for tons of feathers?"
Gayle, it's a good thought, actually. And, as you're going to hear in a moment, they actually are going to try to use hair to soap up the oil on the surface.
Mary from Philadelphia says: "I suggest creating, in essence, giant robotic pliers that would squeeze the pipe closed. This should stop or at least slow the leak while a relief well is created." That's actually sort of what they had already that didn't work.
And Cathy wondered: "What about the Shamwow? Doesn't that absorb everything?"
Seriously, if the junk shot is an option, why not the Shamwow? -- though I'm not sure that the Shamwow guy is really ready to do that. I think he had ran into some problems a while back.
Anyway, we found this video online showing how a hay soaks up oil that's been added to a pan of water, so well maybe hay might -- look. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's pretty (INAUDIBLE)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What kind of grass?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hay grass, just regular hay, in other words, hay that farmers can use --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ok.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- farmers have, you know, that we can use.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ok.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Don't pay any attention to what's on the edge of the bowl. (INAUDIBLE) now look at this water. Look at this water behind it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Wow.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Maybe one that -- maybe someone should show BP the video.
Its top executives were back on Capitol Hill today, along with officials from two other companies involved in the spill.
Congressman Ed Markey of Massachusetts pressed hard on all the companies. I talked to him earlier.
COOPER: Congressman, BP is now talking about shoving a bunch of rope and rubber and cement and golf balls into a valve to try to plug the leak.
I mean, it would be -- it sounds almost like a joke, but it's obviously deadly serious. It kind of makes one think, do these guys have any idea, really, what to do?
REP. EDWARD MARKEY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: I think they're making it up as they go along. I think that most people believe that this is a very sophisticated industry, with a very deft command of technology.
But, in fact, as they think about old rubber tires and golf balls to be shot down into this leak, we realize that we're really not talking about MIT here. We're really talking about the PGA.
I mean, they're doing things that you would think someone out in the backyard would be thinking of doing, not an industry with the level of revenues and research capacity, which obviously has not resulted in a system of safety being put in place which can guarantee that this leak can be shut down.
COOPER: Yes, I read something -- you said something like, you know, you expect it to be like the Apollo project, but it's more like "Project Runway."
MARKEY: It is more like "Project Runway." They -- they -- they are now taking nylon stockings and beginning to fill them with hair as a way of sopping up the oil out in the Gulf. And I think most people would have thought, at this late date, that it would be more like the Apollo project, that it -- that it wouldn't be nylons and hair.
And -- and I think it's very discouraging, obviously, for the people who live down in the Gulf, but it's dismaying, I think, to every American to think that this is the level of response to such a catastrophic event that the oil industry can provide.
COOPER: How much of this was a failure of -- of oversight on the part of government officials?
MARKEY: I think that there was an assumption that an accident could not happen. I think that BP kept saying, don't worry; an accident cannot happen.
And, in this instance, boosterism led to complacency, and complacency led to a disaster.
COOPER: And clearly, yesterday, we saw in testimony, I mean, they're all pointing fingers at each other, BP at TransOcean, TransOcean at Halliburton, Halliburton back at TransOcean, then TransOcean back at BP.
Do you believe what these guys say? I mean, were you satisfied with the testimony yesterday? Did they seem apologetic enough? Did they seem humble at all to you?
MARKEY: I did not detect the level of humility which I think they should have. And they're each saying the same thing in terms of who is ultimately culpable for this historic mess.
COOPER: But, I mean, what happens now? I mean, when do you think this oil's going to stop -- stop leaking? Can anybody say -- say at this point?
MARKEY: No one has any idea when the -- this leak is going to ultimately be plugged. If the golf balls don't work, if the rubber tires don't work, if this new top hat which they're trying to lower down into the ocean doesn't work, it will be months before a new drill can reach this pipe and cut it off. But that's months from now, if none of these interim, temporary emergency measures continue to fail.
COOPER: It's stunning and just incredibly, incredibly -- well, it's incredibly stunning.
Congressman Markey, I appreciate your time tonight. Thank you.
MARKEY: Thank you, sir. Thank you for having me on.
COOPER: Still ahead, "The Big 360 Interview" author and journalist Sebastian Junger has written a new book about the war in Afghanistan where he found another kind of perfect storm.
COOPER: Coming up, Sebastian Junger on the reality of war in Afghanistan. The author/journalist followed a single platoon in one of Afghanistan's most dangerous outposts. Tonight he's "The Big 360 Interview."
First, Joe Johns has "360 News & Business Bulletin" -- Joe.
JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, a 10-year-old Dutch boy is the sole survivor of a plane crash today that killed 103 people in Tripoli. The Libyan jetliner crashed minutes before landing after a seven-hour flight from Johannesburg. The boy is recuperating after surgery for multiple fractures in both legs.
Wal-Mart today pledged $2 billion to food banks to fight hunger in the U.S. Government reports show nearly 15 percent of all families lacked adequate nutrition in 2008, the highest level in more than ten years.
South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford today confirmed reports he spent last weekend in Florida with his Argentine lover. While he didn't mention the woman by name, Sanford admitted he was trying to rekindle that love affair that wrecked his marriage and nearly cost him his office.
The affair was discovered last June when Sanford disappeared for a weekend, telling staff he was hiking the Appalachian Trail. So now I guess it's all out in the open.
COOPER: The old hiking the Appalachian Trail.
COOPER: Joe, thanks.
Still ahead "The Big 360 Interview." I'll go talk to author Sebastian -- and journalist Sebastian Junger about the month he spent in Afghanistan for a new book.
Plus, a cop is shot, but his story about the attack unravels, and an ugly truth comes to light.
COOPER: Well, meeting in Washington today President Obama and Afghan President Hamid Karzai played down reports of tensions between them, to say the least. Mr. Obama's said he's confident his administration will meet its self-imposed deadline to start withdrawing troops from Afghanistan in July of 2011. But he also said the U.S. is committed to Afghanistan for the long haul.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We are not, suddenly, as of July 2011, finished with Afghanistan. In fact, to the contrary, part of what I've tried to emphasize to President Karzai and the Afghan people but also to the American people, is this a long-term partnership.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Among American opposition to the war now, in its ninth year has fallen since 2009. Americans are now basically split on the issue, with about half in favor and half opposed.
Author and journalist Sebastian Junger has watched the war play out up close. In his new book "War", he describes a single platoon's tour of duty in one of the most dangerous regions in the country; spent months with them. I talked recently with Sebastian Junger for tonight's "Big 360 Interview."
COOPER: You spent a lot of time in war zones over many years. What was so unique about this place in the Korengal Valley that you knew you wanted to write a book about it?
SEBASTIAN JUNGER, AUTHOR, "WAR": This was the first time I did it with one unit. I was with 30 men, one platoon. I did five trips, five one-month trips over the course of a year, and I really became sort of accepted into this platoon.
I was at this outpost called Restrepo, named after the platoon medic, and it was very remote up on this ridge. It was attacked constantly. There were days where -- when I was there, there were four or five firefights in one day. I think the unit went through something like 500 firefights in the year that they were there.
It was very remote. Airpower was 45 minutes away. The nearest base was two hours away by foot. You were on your own out there.
COOPER: Some of the men there would -- I mean, sleep with their rifles. They'd sleep with their boots on. The threat of attack was that constant. JUNGER: There were times when guys slept with their boots on. They always had their rifles near them. Everyone was ready to go literally within 30 seconds. But everyone out there knew that getting overrun and everyone killed at a small base was an absolute possibility. And so everyone slept -- no one slept very well.
COOPER: We were in a Marine patrol base called Jaker in Helmand Province last September, and that was small but, I mean, nothing compared to the base where you were at, the outpost you were at. And I don't think a lot of people understand just the conditions that our troops are dealing with on a daily basis, particularly in an outpost like the one you were at.
JUNGER: There was no running water. There was no cooked food. There was no Internet. There was no phone. The men would go a month at a time without bathing. They would wear their uniforms until they literally fell off their bodies. Then they would burn them and put on new uniforms.
Once a month they got to go down to the main base and call their girlfriend and take a shower and have a hot meal. And they'd go back up. And they did this for a year.
COOPER: One of the chapters in your book is called "Love", and I mean, you're really writing about the bond between -- between brothers out in the field.
JUNGER: A lot of these guys came back from Restrepo, and it was a terrible place, right? And they all missed it. And I think one of the things they missed, it's not the tarantulas and the heat and the fleas and the -- it's not even the adrenaline of combat. I think what they miss is being necessary to other people, and that really is kind of intoxicating. And that's essentially what my book is about.
COOPER: There's also something very -- I mean, obviously real about what is happening when you're in a -- in an environment like that. I mean it's life and death. It's all stripped away. Everything is stripped away. And it seems like, for a lot of troops, a lot of people who've been over there, when you come back, regular life is much more complicated.
JUNGER: There aren't as many absolutes in civilian life. Like, if you don't tie your shoes you might trip. Big deal. No one -- that doesn't matter, right?
Up there I saw a private accost another private, say, "Man tie your shoes. If we get hit right now and you trip, I'm going to -- I could get killed. So tie your damn shoes."
So when these guys come back from that, they cannot tie their shoes. Nothing has consequences.
COOPER: How is killing more complicated than -- than we think?
JUNGER: I think there's a moral revulsion of killing in humans. I mean, this is just my opinion. That gets suspended when your friends are getting killed; and when they killed enemy fighters they would cheer. And I asked about that, because it seemed like kind of an ugly sentiment. Like I understood the need to kill but not the need to cheer.
And this guy said to me, "Listen, that guy that we killed an hour ago in the firefight, that's one guy who's not going to kill my best friend out here, and so that's what I'm cheering. I'm cheering that one of us is going to live, not that he died."
And when you put it like that, suddenly you understand this dynamic that keeps war going, because of course, the other side's doing the same thing.
COOPER: You focus on one -- one guy in particular, a guy named Brendan. Why him? What was it about him that drew you?
JUNGER: Brendan O'Byrne. He was -- he was a really good soldier. And he was also -- he had a pretty troubled background as a kid. The Army kind of straightened him out, kind of saved him. And he was a very, very good soldier.
He thought about, like, the right and wrong of the war, what it means to kill people, what it means to love people, like he really thought about those things. I had these really -- very -- very lengthy, profound conversations with him about what it means to go to war, to be at war, to be in combat.
He was also the only guy in the platoon who got out of the Army.
COOPER: What was that transition like for him getting out?
JUNGER: It was terrifically hard for him. I mean, they came back -- the unit came back to Vicenza, Italy, where they were based. And suddenly you have -- you have -- you know, officers behind desks who have never been in combat, who are ordering -- ordering these guys around who fought for a year. And they absolutely hated that.
And that triggered a real crisis in Brendan. He felt that the -- that their efforts were not honored with -- even within the military on the base, that they were getting ordered around and by the -- by these very petty rules.
And so he really went into some very self-destructive behavior. And I think he was -- I mean he's ok now, but for about a year I would say he was probably in more danger to himself at home than he was in the Korengal Valley.
COOPER: What you saw in the Korengal Valley, did it change the way you looked at the war in Afghanistan?
JUNGER: That's a complicated question. I mean, I was not prepared for the amount of combat that I was going to see. I was not prepared for that. I didn't know that that was happening in Afghanistan.
COOPER: Right and most places you go, they say, "Look it's not as kinetic" -- that's word they tend to use. "It's not as kinetic as you think it's going to be." But there it was.
JUNGER: There it was. A fifth of all the combat in all of Afghanistan was taking place in the six-mile-lone Korengal Valley -- one-fifth. Amazing.
But it did -- you know, the last time -- the last time I'd been in Afghanistan was '05. Before that it was 2001 when the U.S. toppled the Taliban.
And I remember walking down the street in Kabul, getting hugged by Afghans because I was American. That's changed. That goodwill has really diminished, and the war has gone on too long. Too many mistakes were made. And the Afghans are now, I think, souring a little bit. And that -- so I've seen that transition -- and that's a very, very painful thing for me.
COOPER: The mission has changed under General Stanley McChrystal. It's much more about protecting population centers; therefore, the importance of the Korengal Valley has changed, because it's a pretty remote area. The U.S. has actually pulled out of that -- of the outpost that you were in.
JUNGER: The pullout was emotionally very complicated for the soldiers. It was very painful. I mean, they don't want any more Americans to die there. Almost 50 Americans died in the Korengal. It was also very painful for them to watch the video online on YouTube of Restrepo being destroyed by American explosives.
Brendan O'Byrne, he said, look, to some of his friends -- he said, "Look, it's a base. It's a military base. We all knew eventually the U.S. Army is going to pull out of there. What we did up there was for each other. We fought and we risked our lives, and some of us died out there for each other. And you can't take that away. You can't erase that."
In every war, and this one included, there are nameless hilltops that don't have any obvious strategic value. And soldiers wind up fighting for those places, and not even knowing why they're fighting for this little hilltop.
And what they do emotionally -- at least the guys that I was with -- was they say to themselves, "Maybe this hilltop didn't mean anything before we got here, but we spent a year of our lives fighting for this. Our brothers died for this place. And now it has meaning. We gave it meaning."
COOPER: Sebastian thanks. The book is "War." Thanks very much.
JUNGER: Thank you.
COOPER: Interesting discussion. You can join the live chat happening now at AC360.com.
Still ahead a massive manhunt in Philadelphia after a cop is shot but the suspect never found. And investigators say they now know why. Randi Kaye has the real story in tonight's "Crime & Punishment" report.
COOPER: Tonight in "Crime & Punishment", the shame of a veteran Philadelphia police officer who'd claimed he'd been shot, but when the clues didn't add up, the case got really ugly.
Here's Randi Kaye.
RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It was 4:00 in the morning when Philadelphia when the radio call came in: cop shot. A white police sergeant said he'd been shot by a black man. Officers responded in force. An all-out search of the African-American neighborhood in Philadelphia's 19th Precinct, where Sergeant Robert Ralston said it all went down.
(on camera): The sergeant told the story this way. He'd come across two black men along the railroad tracks on the morning of April 5. One ran away, he said. The other pointed a silver revolver at his head. He knocked it away, he said, but it fired anyway. And the bullet grazed his left shoulder. He also said he fired one shot but wasn't sure if he'd struck the suspect.
(voice-over): Police gave thanks their man had survived. Tragedy averted, they said. The white cop described the shooter this way: dark skin, braided hair, and a tattoo next to his eye. But police never found the black shooter or anyone matching that description. And now more than a month later, we know why.
The real story: the two black men the cop said he encountered never existed. Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey says Sergeant Ralston made the whole thing up.
CHARLES RAMSEY, PHILADELPHIA POLICE COMMISSIONER: It was clear to us soon after it took place that this simply was just not true. Just the evidence just didn't support the story he was giving.
KAYE: But wait. What about the sergeant's shoulder wound? The commissioner says Sergeant Ralston actually shot himself, which may be why, he said, he got off one shot at the suspect. An explanation as to why his gun had been fired.
RAMSEY: A test was run on his shirt. The powder on the shirt matched the same kind of ammunition we use in the department.
KAYE: That's right. The gunpowder on the sergeant's shirt was the same kind his own weapon used.
And there's more. The angle at which the bullet struck him didn't square with his story either, says the commissioner.
We tried to ask Sergeant Ralston to explain, but outside his home, he dodged our cameras and ducked inside.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can you tell us why you did that, sir?
KAYE: Neighbors called the sergeant's actions a sad statement.
BRAWLY JOSEPH, NEIGHBOR: I can't believe he would really do something like that. That's really uncalled for. He -- ever since I've been living here, he's really been, like, antisocial around this area.
KAYE (on camera): What's still unclear is why Sergeant Ralston, a 21-year veteran of the force, would make up such a wild tale. Only after hours of interrogation, police said, did he finally admit he shot himself on purpose. The police commissioner says he may have done it for a job transfer or maybe for attention but that the sergeant didn't give a reason.
(voice-over): The police commissioner calls this a, quote, "terrible and embarrassing chapter in the department's history."
RAMSEY: The fact that he stated that two African-Americans were involved in this, again, just I think, inflames tensions in our community, something that we certainly do not need.
KAYE: Sergeant Ralston has been suspended with pay. The commissioner says he will be fired. He was given immunity in exchange for his confession so he doesn't face criminal charges. But he'll have to pay for the massive manhunt to find his phantom suspects. Cops are still adding up the cost.
The days of calling Sergeant Robert Ralston a hero and crediting his quick actions for saving his own life, long gone.
Randi Kaye, CNN, New York.
COOPER: Up next, "One Simple Thing": to save computers and help planet earth. A look at one teen's mission, when we continue.
COOPER: Have you ever thought about how many computers you'll use over your lifetime? More to the point, have you thought about the toll all those computers will take on the planet once you toss them out?
The teen you're about to meet has thought a lot about this and he's come up with a solution. Here's Stephanie Elam with tonight's "One Simple Thing" report.
STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Sixteen-year-old Alex Lin likes to go for impact. Besides the rigors of AP classes and competitive sports, the high school senior has made helping others while also protecting the environment an important part of his schedule.
ALEXANDER LIN, WIN FOUNDER: When you're throwing out hundreds of thousands of tons of computers it all adds up. And especially back when everybody was using CRT monitors. Each of those big monitors had between four and eight pounds of lead. Add that up and that a lot of lead going into our land fills, going to our ground and going under water.
ELAM: Driven to find creative solutions for his community's problems, Alex began WIN, Westerly Innovations Network with a galvanized group of peers.
JEFF BRODIE, WIN TEAM MEMBER: It takes a good amount of time. You really have to be dedicated to doing something this big.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I love helping people. I love that that's what we do.
ELAM: Working with his hometown of Westerly, Rhode Island, he set up a place to recycle old computers and monitors.
LIN: If we use it, we'll take it in so we can refurbish it. If not, we'll bring it to the transportation (ph) to recycle it. Most of the computers have gone to students here in Westerly locally. Also we have a separate section of the computers we refurbished which have gone overseas to community centers.
ELAM: To places in Kenya, Cameroon, the Philippines, Mexico and Sri Lanka, where the computer center was named after the WIN Team.
LIN: That was one of the more awesome parts of our project, let's say, when we found out there is a place pretty literally half away cross the world that was actually named after our project.
ELAM: But WIN wanted to do more, so they introduced an ordinance to ban the dumping of electronics in Westerly.
LIN: Eventually, we did get the law passed statewide. We can hopefully get this out to around the entire nation to where there are these systems in place to properly dispose of electronics, just like there are systems to dispose of aluminum, paper, and plastics.
ELAM: As Alex heads to Stanford University in the fall, he says he'll keep solving problems.
LIN: I'll find something new or some other way to make myself active and have lasting impact. But definitely something like this, maybe not exactly this.
ELAM: Stephanie Elam, CNN, Westerly, Rhode Island.
COOPER: Hey, that does it for 360. Thanks for watching.
"LARRY KING" starts now. I'll see you tomorrow night.