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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Immigration Uproar in Virginia; Killer's Chilling 911 Call Released; Hitchens, God and Cancer; Naomi Campbell Testifies before The Hague; Fighting for Exceptional Kids
Aired August 5, 2010 - 22:59 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Thanks for joining us.
A new battleground in the fight over immigration tops the hour. Virginia, far from the border, but on the front lines tonight, after the death of a nun, allegedly at the hands of a drunk-driving illegal immigrant.
Her death prompting Virginia's attorney general, Ken Cuccinelli, to endorse the kind of police doing immigration checks they're doing in Arizona. His critics say, his latest proposal is more about headlines and politics than fixing the problem. We'll ask him directly, "Raw Politics."
Also tonight: the killer's call. After taking eight lives at his workplace, the Connecticut gunman called 911. We have the tapes tonight. What he said and what he did will take your breath away.
And later: the model, the dictator and diamonds -- supermodel Naomi Campbell, if you can believe it, testifying at a war crimes trial about diamonds she allegedly got from a dictator whose hands, like those stones, are covered in the blood of innocent victims.
And bestselling author Christopher Hitchens, his first television interview since being diagnosed with a tough form of cancer two months ago. Has his battle with disease altered his atheism? And what does he think about those who say they are praying for him? It's a fascinating discussion and it's the "Big 360 Interview" tonight.
We begin, as always, though, "Keeping Them Honest" with a new chapter in the battle over illegal immigration. This time, the battleground is not Arizona. It's Virginia.
That's right, Virginia, home, by some estimates, to as many as 300,000 illegal immigrants. Over the weekend, police say a car driven by an illegal immigrant crossed the median in a Virginia suburb of Washington, D.C. hitting a car carrying three nuns. One of the nuns, Sister Denise Mosier, died. She was 66 years old.
The illegal immigrant, Carlos Martinelly Montano, is being charged with drunk driving, involuntary manslaughter and driving on a revoked license. But people rightly point out that he never should have been in that car, on that road, or frankly, in this country to begin with. In fact, he had been in the custody of immigration authorities, but released.
This week, the attorney general of Virginia, Ken Cuccinelli, issued a legal opinion authorizing police to check the immigration status of anyone stopped for any reason, in essence, authorizing Virginia law enforcement to do what Arizona officers do in places like Maricopa County.
He got a lot of headlines for the ruling, but "Keeping Them Honest," was he taking credit for something that really was already on the books? According to the head of the Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police -- quote -- "We already knew that."
And according to a spokesman for Virginia Governor Robert McDonnell, the opinion echoes a 2007 opinion the governor issued when he was attorney general.
So "Keeping Them Honest" tonight, what is new? We're going to ask him in just a moment.
But, first, Joe Johns on that crash that put Virginia's immigration battle onto the national stage.
JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Local officials are calling it the tragedy that should have been avoided.
(on camera): It happened just up the road here early Sunday morning. Police say Carlos Martinelly Montano slammed into the car carrying the three nuns, who were on their way to a retreat at a local monastery. Denise Mosier was killed instantly. The other two sisters were taken to a local hospital.
Authorities said Montano had been drinking and they charged him with involuntary manslaughter.
(voice-over): Just one day after the accident, the Virginia attorney general, a Republican, issued a legal opinion authorizing Virginia police officers to check the immigration status of anyone they stop or arrest, similar to what Arizona wants to do.
And now the Republican governor is pursuing a deal with the federal government that would allow Virginia State Troopers to enforce immigration law. What's got some Virginia officials so angry is the fact that Montano, a Bolivian native who has been in the U.S. illegally for most of his life, had been convicted twice for driving under the influence, twice for speeding, and once for public drunkenness.
The local law enforcement had turned him over to the feds two years ago. Removal proceedings were initiated in 2008, but the feds still set Montano free until he had his day in court. COREY STEWART, CHAIRMAN, PRINCE WILLIAM COUNTY BOARD OF SUPERVISORS: Well, we were absolutely appalled and disgusted, but frankly not surprised. We knew that Immigration and Customs officials were releasing illegal aliens who we had handed to them on a silver platter who had criminal records, that they were releasing these dangerous individuals back into our community.
JOHNS: And it's not just the local officials who were up in arms. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano hit the roof when she heard about it. And with her department claiming it has reformed immigration enforcement and deported record numbers of illegal immigrants, Napolitano was asking the accountability questions.
JANET NAPOLITANO, U.S. HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: Why is it that this individual was still out driving? He was in removal proceedings. Why were the removal proceedings taking so long? I do not, obviously, as of today, have the results of that, but I will get them.
JOHNS: Off the record, federal sources say it's pretty clear what happened. The deportation process is so backlogged and overwhelmed that Montano had essentially been allowed to stay on the streets for two whole years, waiting in line to be sent out of the country.
The sisters who lost Denise Mosier last Sunday are more appalled at the political controversy than angry at Montano, saying: "The Benedictine Sisters are dismayed and saddened that this tragedy has been politicized and become an apparent forum for the illegal immigration agenda."
Montano's lawyers could not be reached for comment on the charges, but Montano's deportation now looks like a moot issue. The county prosecutor predicts he'll spend a lot more time in jail before he ever sees his home country of Bolivia again.
Joe Johns, CNN, Washington.
COOPER: Well, that's the backdrop.
Joining us now is Ken Cuccinelli, attorney general for the Commonwealth of Virginia.
Thanks very much for being with us, Mr. Attorney General.
What do you say to those -- to those sisters who say that this is being used basically just for political gain?
KENNETH CUCCINELLI (R), VIRGINIA ATTORNEY GENERAL: Well, it's certainly not being used for political gain. It's a tragedy.
And it's happened before in Virginia, Virginia Beach most notably. It -- it really is just one example of the failure of the federal government to move these people out.
I'm glad that Secretary Napolitano is looking closely at why this person, who was in their custody, was not processed through or at least held. Obviously, it had terrible consequences here.
But there's no politicization here. This is just facing up to facts.
COOPER: But is there anything --
CUCCINELLI: -- and dealing with them as best we can at the state level.
COOPER: Is there anything new, though, in what you came out to say this week? I mean, you're basically saying that police can -- can ask --
CUCCINELLI: You mean the opinion --
CUCCINELLI: -- the legal opinion?
COOPER: Yes, that -- yes, the legal opinion --
COOPER: -- that police can ask people about their immigration status. A number of police officials in your commonwealth basically say, well, look, we already do that. We can do that.
CUCCINELLI: Right. I don't think there's anything new.
We were stunned at what an explosion it caused. We were stating the law that's already understood to exist. Now, law enforcement folks knew this. But the opinion --
COOPER: But why did you need then to come out and then have a press conference and come out and say -- and make a big pronouncement? A lot of people kind of thought, oh, well, it may be something new.
CUCCINELLI: Whoa, whoa, whoa. I didn't -- oh, no, no, no. I didn't have a press conference over this. We just issued an opinion.
And I am required to issue those opinions when they're requested by legislators. Now, while law enforcement knew how this worked, legislators don't know how it works. Our local governments don't know how it works.
And, frankly, most people don't know that a law enforcement officer can walk up to anybody and ask them virtually anything. But that doesn't obligate the individual to answer anything.
And the inquiry that I answered and gave a legal opinion on is whether or not law enforcement may inquire about immigration status, and they may in consensual encounters and when there's a traffic stop or a criminal stop that's legitimate, in any of those circumstances.
So, no, I agree with you. There wasn't anything new there. And, frankly, we were stunned at the explosive reaction to it.
Obviously, with Arizona happening last week, and then very shortly after my opinion came out, the tragedy in Prince William County, where I live.
And, for the record, I think I heard you misstate that. My opinion was out before the tragic accident happened in Prince William County.
COOPER: OK. I appreciate that clarification.
So, in terms of what your police can do in that state -- I'm sorry -- in the commonwealth --
COOPER: -- any -- even a consensual stop -- so, somebody doesn't have to be -- just for clarification, somebody doesn't have to have run a red light. It could just be a police officer going up and talking to somebody. Is that correct? And, then, in the course of that, they're free to ask?
CUCCINELLI: Yes. Let's be real clear. Yes. Let's be clear, though. They can't just pull them over to talk to them. If they're walking down the street and the police officer is walking down the street, they can engage anyone in conversation.
If there's a stop, a legitimate traffic stop, or a criminal stop for an investigative purpose, another purpose, the Constitution, as interpreted by the Supreme Court, says that, as long as they don't unreasonably extend that custodial questioning, they can ask questions about anything, just like in a consensual encounter.
COOPER: And given the past history, in the '60s, in the Commonwealth of Virginia, which you have talked about very openly --
COOPER: -- how concerned are you, though, about --
COOPER: -- about racial profiling, about leaving this kind of, you know, casual conversation to -- to leaving it up to abuse?
CUCCINELLI: Look, Virginia, given our history, is extremely sensitive to racial profiling. We have not had any problem with this, even as some of our localities -- you had Corey Stewart on earlier of Prince William County -- almost 3,000 people have been deported with the help of Prince William County in the last three or four years just in one county.
That's how many illegals were there. And we haven't had any problems with profiling -- none, zero complaints that I'm aware of, that's the legitimate ones.
COOPER: Given that -- given that your -- your statement basically talked about what already exists, are you -- is the --
COOPER: -- and you're not really adding anything new to the debate.
COOPER: Are you then satisfied with the level --
COOPER: -- of effort against illegal immigrants in the Commonwealth of Virginia?
CUCCINELLI: Not exactly. I -- you know, but we're taking incremental steps to ratchet it up slowly, very slowly. And there are other things I would like to see us do.
COOPER: What would you like to see?
CUCCINELLI: So, no is the answer to that.
But -- well, I would like to see our -- see us investigating whether E-Verify is effective and operates without many errors. I would like to see more of our localities voluntarily using 287(G) authority, which is a memorandum of understanding with ICE, so that their local folks are trained, like Prince William County's, so we can start deportation processes locally --
COOPER: Why haven't more --
CUCCINELLI: -- rather than waiting for the feds to do that.
COOPER: -- why haven't more municipalities taken -- taken the feds up on that? Is it concern over limited resources, concern over racial profiling?
CUCCINELLI: Yes. Yes.
No, the primary concern is one over resources. Others -- there's more than one, but that's the main one, especially in a budget- constrained era.
And I'll tell you that all we can do is identify them, just like in the Montano case. The feds still have to take them. Ultimately, the feds are the place we go to find out if these individuals are illegal, and they're ultimately responsible for processing them out.
The states do not say that we can do that. We don't allege to have any authority in that area. The localities don't. They're the bottleneck, is still the federal government, as it has been for years.
So, even if more localities were doing this, we may know who more illegals are, but it isn't going to do any good, if the federal government isn't willing to step up to the plate and perform its obligations and deport folks who are illegally here.
COOPER: Attorney General Cuccinelli, I appreciate you coming on. Thank you.
CUCCINELLI: My pleasure.
COOPER: Well, up next, an opposing view, Congressman Luis Gutierrez, who wrote a scathing critique of the current voices in Arizona and Washington. He joins us.
And you can join us. Log on to the live chat right now AC360.com.
Also ahead tonight: the man who went on that shooting rampage in Connecticut, his own words. With the gun still in his hand, he called 911.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
OMAR THORNTON, GUNMAN: Is this 911?
911 OPERATOR: Yes, can I help you?
THORNTON: This is Omar Thornton, the shooter over in Manchester.
911 OPERATOR: Yes. Where are you, sir?
THORNTON: I'm in the building.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
COOPER: Later, super model Naomi Campbell in court, only this time, as a witness for the prosecution. We'll show you just why she was so jittery about testifying.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NAOMI CAMPBELL, SUPERMODEL: I didn't really want to be here, so I was made to be here. So, obviously, I'm just like, wanting to get this over with and get on with my life. This is a big inconvenience for me.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And you said you didn't want to be here. Why didn't you want to be here?
CAMPBELL: Because I really don't want anything to do with this and I care about the protection of my family. And, as I said on television before, I didn't want to have anything to do with this.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, there are growing calls this week from the leading Senate Republicans for hearings about fighting illegal immigration by amending the Constitution, the 14th Amendment. Critics say it's hardly a realistic answer, because amendments takes years to ratify and a two-thirds vote in both Houses of Congress -- the accusation that lawmakers are pushing to change the 14th Amendment simply are not serious.
Our next guest wrote a piece to that effect in "The Huffington Post."
Democratic Congressman Luis Gutierrez of Illinois joins me now.
Congressman, you heard the attorney general from the Commonwealth of Virginia. Do you think their support -- their -- their methods are valid, that police can just go up and ask people about their immigration status?
REP. LUIS GUTIERREZ (D), ILLINOIS: Well, I think we know who they're going to ask about their immigration status, and I think that's the danger.
And the attorney general probably should be very, very clear about just how it is that they go about and do that.
Now, Anderson, if the new policy in the state of Virginia is to ask everyone that is stopped -- for any criminal behavior or what appears to be criminal behavior, I don't have a problem with that, quite honestly, if that's what Virginians elect their attorney general to do and want their police departments to do. But I don't think that that's going to be the practical solution.
Look, the fact is, Anderson, that this gentleman was released under the George Bush administration. He was arrested before for drunken driving. I want people like this immigrant from Bolivia gone, gone from our streets, gone from our nation. He abused his stay here in this country. No one wants him here.
So, that's really not the argument.
The fact is, at the height of the George Bush administration, which is his last year of his presidency, they deported 370,000 people, approximately. That was the highest number in three decades, ok?
And in order to get to those 370,000, they had to basically go to 7-Elevens and ask everybody early in the morning if they had papers, and the racial profiling -- this has been very well documented, not criminal elements, but just going out there and picking people up off the street.
Now, this administration of Obama is on record to exceed that number, over 400,000. So, what it tells you is that you can do a lot of enforcement, but your capacity has already been well-extended.
So, I think what we should do is stop looking at kind of these diversions, these distractions, about what should be a genuine discussion that we should have in this country, and come up with some good public policy --
COOPER: Well, the people --
GUTIERREZ: -- that will give us a solution to the problem.
COOPER: Well, people in the states like Arizona say that's exactly what they want, that they're -- they don't want to be the ones bearing the burden of this, that they want basically you and everyone else in Washington to -- to be taking up your responsibilities and actually coming up with some sort of realistic solution here.
GUTIERREZ: Sure. And -- and I cannot agree with them more.
I think that the federal government has not lived up to its standard of -- of applying the immigration and fixing our immigration. We should fix our immigration system.
But, I mean, as you said earlier, Anderson, come on. Now we're going to demonize children in the wombs of -- of their mothers?
COOPER: You actually say --
GUTIERREZ: We are going to change the Constitution of the United States of America?
COOPER: You kind of -- are challenging those -- those Republicans who are talking about holding hearings on the 14th Amendment. You say, go ahead, hold the hearings.
GUTIERREZ: You know, when I wrote that article and -- and published it yesterday in The Huffington Post, it was a challenge.
And here is why. Because, Anderson, when you listen to them, I think the American people are going to say, God, you know something? Attacking children unborn, especially from those who today are all -- really, really upset that in California, they reversed that the same-sex marriage, and that now that they found that to be unconstitutional and discriminatory, these are the people that are for the sanctity of marriage.
COOPER: But -- but, look --
GUTIERREZ: These are the people that are for the sanctity of life.
And, yet, they're going to attack an unborn child and say --
COOPER: Wait but it's --
GUTIERREZ: -- if that child is born, we will get rid of it from this country immediately.
COOPER: It's not fair to say -- it's not fair to say they're attacking unborn children. I mean, what they're saying is that we are providing an incentive for people to come to the United States and have a child, because, automatically, that child will be born an American citizen.
Isn't that providing an incentive for people?
GUTIERREZ: Good. Yes, but, Anderson, where is the proof that anyone is coming to this country? Do you see? We have already established that it is a problem; that people are coming here with the sole express purpose of having a child.
Now, the Congress of the United States has dictated and has reaffirmed on almost every appropriation bill, every housing bill, every bill that comes out that undocumented workers, those that they deem to be illegally in this country cannot benefit from one government program.
Anderson, you remember when the President of the United States gave it a second try, a successful try, to reform our health care system, and he said on the floor of the House that undocumented -- illegals he called them -- could never benefit from this health care.
And, indeed, in the health care proposal, in our -- it says that they can't benefit.
So, what is the benefit, Anderson? The benefit is none. The fact is that they can't. And, Anderson, again, you see how we're having this conversation? We're having a diversion. We're having a distraction.
Here is what I would like to say. You want to end illegal immigration? Leave -- leave the mothers that haven't had their children alone. You're the ones that say to us that you're for the sanctity of marriage. You're the ones that say to us that you're pro- life.
GUTIERREZ: You're the ones that say, let's care for the unborn.
And, yet, the consequence of that action, Anderson, is to -- those mothers won't go and seek medical attention if they think they're going to be deported. What, are we going to put immigration agents in the maternity wards across the country?
That's -- look, Anderson, here's why I say it's a distraction. Because, even if we changed and meddled with the Constitution, which you so clearly stated isn't going to -- can't be done -- it would take 10 years to change the Constitution. By that time, we should have fixed this problem.
But let's say we did. Look, it won't put one more cent in someone's 401(k), so that they can have --
GUTIERREZ: It won't -- it won't -- it won't stop the foreclosures. It won't get you a job. It won't get you off the unemployment.
COOPER: You're saying it's about --
GUTIERREZ: It won't reduce -- not having children, it won't reduce crime.
GUTIERREZ: Let's -- let's deal with -- let's get that Social Security card, so that it's biometric, so you can't get a job without it.
COOPER: I've got to leave it there.
GUTIERREZ: Let's put employers in jail. Let's -- let's do the things that really are going to change our immigration system. And let's allow, Anderson, that the undocumented, let's register them with the government, so we know who the good and the bad ones are, and we can keep the good ones and get rid of the bad ones.
COOPER: Congressman -- I appreciate your time. Congressman Gutierrez thanks very much.
GUTIERREZ: Thank you.
COOPER: Up next: the voice of a killer, the chilling 911 call made by a man moments after he murdered eight of his co-workers in Connecticut. He dialed 911. Listen.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
THORNTON: They treat me bad over here and treat all other black employees bad over here, too. So, I had to take it into my own hands and handle the problem. I wish I could have got more of the people.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
COOPER: Also ahead, the "Big 360 Interview" with bestselling author Christopher Hitchens. He wrote: "God Is Not Great." But now he is facing a life-and-death battle with cancer. Has it changed his views on religion?
COOPER: Tonight: the taped confession of the gunman who went on a shooting rampage in Connecticut.
Omar Thornton -- that was his name -- he had just killed eight people at a beverage distributor on Tuesday. And, in a moment, he would commit suicide.
But, first, he -- he picked up his -- his phone and dialed 911. And, in a very calm voice, he talked about the terror he had just caused, the lives he took, and why he did it. Throughout it all, Thornton insists that he is the victim. It also becomes clear that he has no remorse at all.
Listen to the tape.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
THORNTON: This is Omar Thornton, the -- the shooter over in Manchester.
911 OPERATOR: Yes. Where are you, sir?
THORNTON: I'm in the building.
You probably want to know the reason why I shot this place up. This place right here is a racist place.
911 OPERATOR: Yes, I understand that.
THORNTON: They treat me bad over here and treat all other black employees bad over here, too. So I just take it to my own hands and handle the problem. I wish I could have got more of the people.
911 OPERATOR: Now, you're going to make the troopers and the people come in and catch you? You're not going to surrender yourself?
THORNTON: Well, I guess -- I guess maybe I will surrender. No. They can come and get me. Have them come get me.
911 OPERATOR: Yes, we wouldn't want to do it like that, Omar.
THORNTON: Yes. 911 OPERATOR: You know, it's already been a bad enough scene here this morning. We want you to relax.
THORNTON: I'm relaxed. I'm calmed down.
911 OPERATOR: Yes, we don't want any more -- any more people, you know, to lose their life here.
THORNTON: I'm not going to kill nobody else.
911 OPERATOR: Ok.
THORNTON: I'm not coming out. I'm not coming out. I'm not coming out. They have to find me, probably (INAUDIBLE) some dogs or whatever. I don't know what they do. Anyway --
911 OPERATOR: How much ammunition do you have with you?
THORNTON: I got -- I got a lot of shots left.
911 OPERATOR: What's that?
THORNTON: It's all right. I guess (INAUDIBLE) I have to take care of business.
Tell my people I love them.
911 OPERATOR: Yes.
THORNTON: And I got to go now.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
COOPER: Joe Johns, just a creepy story, unbelievable, that he actually called 911, Joe.
I know you're following a number of other stories for us on the "360 Bulletin." What have you got?
JOHNS: Yes, that's very chilling, Anderson.
Well, Anderson, the news of the evening, of course, is that a Grammy-winning hip-hop star wants to be president. Wyclef Jean, who lives in America, but was born in Haiti, wants to be Haiti's next leader.
Word leaked out over the last few hours, but, tonight, from Port-au-Prince, he officially announced his candidacy in an exclusive interview on CNN's "LARRY KING LIVE."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WYCLEF JEAN, HAITIAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Yes, this is my first time announcing it live that, today, I went in and I signed, and I am running to be the president of Haiti.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JOHNS: The Senate today confirmed Elena Kagan as the newest Supreme Court Justice by a vote of 63-37. She'll be the third woman on the court, only the fourth female justice ever. Kagan will be sworn in on Saturday.
And only one day after a federal judge struck down California's Proposition 8, opponents of same-sex marriage filed notice that they will appeal the judge's ruling. And that was no surprise there. They made their way to the courthouse right quick.
COOPER: Yes, no doubt about that.
Up next, tonight's "Big 360 Interview" -- Christopher Hitchens, one of the most provocative voices on atheism, but this polarizing writer is now potentially facing his own mortality. Has illness changed his positions on life, death and God? We'll talk to him.
Also, supermodel Naomi Campbell on the witness stand -- if you can believe it -- at a war crimes trial. And she seemed annoyed about the whole thing that it was interfering with her life.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CAMPBELL: When I was sleeping, I had a knock at my door. And I opened my door and two men where there, and gave me a pouch and said, "A gift for you."
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Find out what the case is all about -- just ahead.
COOPER: Christopher Hitchens is known for his intelligence and his combative wit. He spent a career as a social critic and a writer not afraid to take on anyone or anything. Hitchens has a devoted following as well as a long list of his own critics. He is an atheist without apology.
But two months ago he discovered he has esophageal cancer, and many were wondering if that diagnosis may have changed his belief in God or in prayer. He was diagnosed just recently, as I said. But he has a new book out, "Hitch 22" and frankly, the diagnosis just came as it hit the best seller list.
It is a memoir. It is a fascinating read. I had a chance to talk to him earlier today.
COOPER: When did you realize something was wrong? CHRISTOPHER HITCHENS, CRITIC/WRITER: It was in the middle of my tour for my memoir, my "Hitch 22" and I was feeling a bit ropey but I wrote it down to overwork. And I rather enjoyed the feeling of burning the candle at both ends and living a 36-hour day.
But it abruptly was brought in on me that that was an illusion. There was a morning I couldn't get out of bed. There was -- something was obviously wrong with my heart and my lungs. This was in New York.
COOPER: You felt it as soon as you woke up?
HITCHENS: Oh, yes. I couldn't move, really. This is not -- there's an expression about I woke up feeling like death. I've had that. This was not like that.
COOPER: You've had some rough mornings?
HITCHENS: This was like that. And I thought, "Maybe I'm dying."
COOPER: And when you found out what kind of cancer it was, it's the same sort of cancer your father had?
HITCHENS: One of the first things that I thought was, that's what killed the old man.
COOPER: My dad died of a heart attack when he was 50, and I really don't want to die of a heart attack.
COOPER: Like, for some odd reason the idea of dying -- it's not even the age thing but having that, for some reason -- so did that cross your mind?
HITCHENS: You don't feel any familial piety about the disease that killed your father. And then the second thought was (INAUDIBLE), it was self-centered. I thought he lived to be 79. I'm 61.
COOPER: So that question, "why me," came across your mind?
HITCHENS: Well, you can't avoid the question, however stoic you are. You can only bat it away as a silly one. I mean, millions of people die every day. Everyone has got to go some time.
I came by this particular tumor honestly. If you smoke, which I did for many years, very heavily, with occasional interruptions, and if you -- if you use alcohol, you make yourself a candidate for it in your 60s.
COOPER: And you said to me you burned the candle at both ends. You think --
HITCHENS: And it gave a lovely light.
COOPER: It gave a lovely light. But you think part of the way you lived is responsible for this? HITCHENS: Well, it would be very idle to deny it. And I might as well say to anyone who might be watching, if you can hold it down on the smokes and the cocktails, you might be well advised to do so.
COOPER: That's probably the subtlest anti-smoking message I've ever heard.
HITCHENS: Well, the other ones tend to be rather strident.
COOPER: That's true.
HITCHENS: And, for that reason, easy to ignore.
COOPER: Yes. So, you are hopeful?
HITCHENS: Well, I'm not fatalistic. I'm not resigned. But I'm realistic, too. The statistics in my case are very poor. Not many people come through esophageal cancer and live to talk about it, or not for long.
COOPER: I know you know that there are people praying for you. There are prayer groups, actually. And you talked about that a little bit. What do you think about that, the fact that people are praying for you?
HITCHENS: There are people who are praying for me to suffer and die. They have lavish Web sites relishing my --
HITCHENS: Oh, yes. And then there are people, much more numerous, I must say, and nicer, who are praying either that I get better or that I redeem myself, that I make peace with the Almighty; that my soul gets saved, even if my wretched carcass does not. And some pray for both.
And, in fact, the 20th of September has been designated Everyone Pray for Hitchens Day on one Web site in case you want to mark your calendar for that. I shall not be taking part in that.
COOPER: So you don't pray at all?
HITCHENS: No, no. That's all (INAUDIBLE) -- I don't think that souls or bodies can be changed by incantation or anything else, by the way.
COOPER: So do you tell people not to do it?
HITCHENS: No. I say if it makes you feel better, then you have my blessing.
COOPER: It's interesting hearing you talk about it. It's -- I mean obviously, you are an intellectual and you seem to be dealing with it in an intellectual way.
Does that -- does that make sense? You seem to be look at this, trying to look at this as rationally as possible. What about the emotional side?
HITCHENS: Well, let's say as objectively as possible.
HITCHENS: Yes. And to my slight surprise -- because I'm not by any means tear-proof, I haven't wept at any point yet. Maybe that's to come. But I've become moist when I think about my children, for whom it's a nasty shock.
COOPER: Part of the book that really resonated with me is you write -- it's in the first chapter -- you write about your mom, who committed suicide.
I had a brother who committed suicide, as well. And it certainly -- it's something that, unless you've sort of had it touchdown in your life, it's -- one doesn't really sort of realize the impact it can have.
What -- what kind of an impact did it have on -- on you?
HITCHENS: My mother took her own life in a suicide pact with a lover after the failure of her marriage to my father when she was still quite young. And I was terribly upset at the thought that someone as vivacious as her would or could ever get to a point where she would think there was no point in any further life.
And that was succeeded by the feeling that I, who was very close to her, should have been able to give her some such reason. And I think I describe -- I know I do in the book, the awful discovery I made in the hotel in Athens where she took her life.
Of course, this was the old days of switchboards. I went through all the records. She made several efforts to call my number in London and I had never been at home.
And I've -- I've never been able to lose the feeling that she was probably calling in the hope of finding a hand to hold of some sort to cling to and that, if she'd heard my voice, because I was the one who could always make her laugh -- in fact, I could invariably make her laugh, however blue she was -- then I could have saved her. So as a result, I've never had what we like to call closure. It made it open --
COOPER: I think that word "closure," though, is such a ridiculous word. I mean --
HITCHENS: So glad to hear you say that.
COOPER: Every time I hear it, I feel it's -- people speak it who have not lost anyone and don't understand that there is no such thing as --
HITCHENS: There is no such thing, A; and B, it wouldn't be worth having if it were available because all it would mean is that some quite important part of you had gone numb. Oh, how nice. I don't feel anything about her anymore. No.
COOPER: In terms of what lies ahead, I mean, how is -- actually, I want to read something else that you wrote in -- and we sort of talked about a little bit. But I just thought it was really a great sentence.
You said, "I had been in denial for some time, not only burning the candle at both ends and finding that it often gives a lovely light, but for precisely that reason, I can't see myself smiting my brow with shock or hearing myself whining about how it's all so unfair. I've been taunting the reaper into taking a free scythe in my direction. I've now succumbed to something so predictable and banal that it bores even me. Rage would be beside the point for the same reason."
Do you find this boring in a way?
HITCHENS: Yes, if that -- if I was honest, I think that's what will kill me.
COOPER: The mundane?
HITCHENS: Yes, having to sit through chemotherapy, for example, is almost a Zen experience of boredom. You can't do much except read. You don't feel great and you're watching poison go into your arm.
People saying you should be struggling, battling cancer. You're not battling. You couldn't be living a more passive moment than that. You feel as if you're drowning in powerlessness.
COOPER: In a moment of doubt, isn't there -- I don't know. I find it -- I just find it fascinating that, even when you're alone and, you know, no one else is watching, that there might be a moment where you, you know, want to hedge your bets.
HITCHENS: If that comes, it will be when I'm very ill, when I'm half demented, either by drugs or pain where I wouldn't have control over what I say.
I mention this in case you ever hear a rumor later on because these things happen, and the faithful love to spread these rumors. On his death bed he finally -- I can't say that the entity that by then wouldn't be me wouldn't do such a pathetic thing, but I can tell you that not while I'm lucid, no. I could be quite sure of that.
COOPER: So if there is some story that on your death bed --
HITCHENS: Don't believe it.
COOPER: Don't believe it?
HITCHENS: Don't credit it, no.
COOPER: Christopher Hitchens. You can see more of my interview with him on our Web site at AC360.com.
Still ahead, just an unbelievable story: the super model, the dictator and the blood diamonds. Naomi Campbell, the one who, you know, throws cell phones at her employees, well, she testified at the Hague about the gift she received in the middle of the night apparently from former Liberian president Charles Taylor.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When you opened up this pouch, what did you discover?
NAOMI CAMPBELL, MODEL: I saw a few stones in there.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And?
CAMPBELL: And they were very small, dirty-looking stones.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Up close tonight, Naomi Campbell. She's been in the spotlight since she was on the cover of "Elle" magazine at 15. Twenty-five years later, the supermodel, who's been arrested a couple times herself, is now a key witness in a war crimes trial at The Hague.
The defendant is former Liberian president, Charles Taylor. Prosecutors say he sent her one of the blood diamonds or a couple of diamonds that funded death and despair.
Phil Black reports.
CAMPBELL: I don't remember the --
PHIL BLACK, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Naomi Campbell was a reluctant witness.
CAMPBELL: Well, I didn't really want to be here so I was made to be here. So, obviously, I'm just like wanting to get this over with and get on with my life. This is a big inconvenience for me.
BLACK: She had been called before the special court for Sierra Leone to explain what happened during and after this get- together 13 years ago.
In the middle is the host, then South African President Nelson Mandela. That's music producer Quincy Jones, actress Mia Farrow, and Pakistani cricketer and politician Imran Khan were also there.
Campbell is standing next to the man now facing 11 charges for war crimes and crimes against humanity, former Liberian president, Charles Taylor. Campbell says she sat next to Mandela and didn't talk directly to Taylor.
CAMPBELL: When I'm in Mr. Mandela's presence, Mr. Mandela is my focus.
BLACK: Campbell says she went to bed and was woken in the night.
CAMPBELL: While I was sleeping, I had a knock at my door. And I opened my door, and two men were there and gave me a pouch and said, "A gift for you."
BLACK (on camera): Naomi Campbell told the court she didn't open the gift until morning, when she saw some small, dirty-looking stones. She didn't know they were diamonds, because they're usually shiny and come in a box.
She says her breakfast companions, her agent, Carol White (ph), and the actress Mia Farrow first said they must be diamonds. And they must be from Charles Taylor.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What did you think?
CAMPBELL: I assumed it was.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why?
CAMPBELL: I don't know. I don't know anything about Charles Taylor, never heard of him before, never heard of the country Liberia before. I never heard of the term "blood diamonds" before.
BLACK (voice-over): Charles Taylor watched quietly, but Campbell's evidence didn't satisfy the prosecutor, who had called her as a witness.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Isn't it correct that your account today is not entirely truthful, because of your fear of Charles Taylor?
CAMPBELL: No, that's not correct.
BLACK: And Campbell's version will be challenged further when her former agent, Carol White, gives evidence. She's already told prosecutors Campbell flirted with Taylor over dinner, knew the diamonds were coming, and was disappointed by the way they looked.
Phil Black, CNN, The Hague.
COOPER: Well, Naomi Campbell is getting detention. This case is not about her. It's about the former Liberian war lord who's now on trial.
Tim Heatherton (ph) was the cameraman for the documentary "Liberia, An Uncivil War," the filmmaker and contributing photographer of "Vanity Fair" joins me now.
Tim, I digress for a moment. The fact that Naomi Campbell is testifying that it's a big inconvenience for her is so moronic and offensive a statement. I'm not surprised it came out of her mouth, given what I've been told about her by other people, but that she so readily admits it and admits she never heard of what a blood diamond was. If it's a true statement, she's a bigger fool than I thought.
TIM HEATHERTON, FILMMAKER: Well, I think there's a lot of people in this world that don't understand, you know, what was happening in West Africa. But then again, there's lots of people in West Africa who are inconvenienced by Charles Taylor who, you know, and his proxy forces that killed and murdered, you know, thousands of people in countries like Sierra Leone and Liberia.
COOPER: Well, I mean, what's so offensive about it is she has the opportunity to link Charles Taylor directly to blood diamonds and either she's lying on the stand or, you know, is telling the truth but that it's an inconvenience, I mean, this is something of importance to hundreds of thousands of people, many of whom -- people who lost their lives. I mean, this is -- this is serious stuff.
Explain a little bit about -- I mean, you met Charles Taylor, you knew him. Does it make sense that he would have blood diamonds?
HEATHERTON: Well, Anderson, actually, I never met Charles Taylor. But I was subject to an execution ordered by him when I lived with the rebels during the 2003 civil war.
COOPER: Wait, he ordered your execution?
HEATHERTON: Well, I was with another camera -- myself and James Brabison (ph), and we were subject to an execution order for reporting from rebel lines.
But, you know, I have followed the case closely. And I worked on the panel of experts of the Liberia sanctions committee in 2006 and '07. So these are kind of things that I followed.
But we must remember that Charles Taylor is on trial for crimes that he's associated with in Sierra Leone, not Liberia, and he stands accused of 11 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity. And what the prosecutors are trying to do is they're trying to show that Taylor had links to diamonds. That the rebel group in Sierra Leone that they say Taylor was backing, they were extracting diamonds.
This is an opportunity to put that on the forefront here. Naomi Campbell in South Africa with Charles Taylor, you know, and being associated with the idea that she received diamonds from Taylor.
COOPER: Because Charles Taylor is saying that he never had anything to do with diamonds or blood diamonds, never had them in his possession. For those who don't know -- I mean, I assume Naomi Campbell knows everything about diamonds, given she's in the fashion industry. But for those who don't know what blood diamonds are, explain the importance of them.
HEATHERTON: Well, you know, Taylor, as a rebel leader and later as president was you know -- used resources to fund his wars. So, diamonds, timber in Liberia -- I'm speaking to you from Detroit, where the Model T Ford used rubber from Liberia. So the west has always been complicit in the wars in Sierra Leone, the resource wars. And people like Taylor use resources like diamonds to buy weapons, to fund wars, to enrich themselves.
And so this is what this trial is really centered on at the moment.
COOPER: How important is this trial in terms of sending a message to other dictators in Africa, to others who have -- I mean, there are other Charles Taylors out there.
HEATHERTON: Well, you know, Taylor is the first sitting head of state to be indicted in a kind of war crimes trial like this. You know, he was arrested when he was an exile in Nigeria. He was taken to The Hague. He's under this Sierra Leone special court law.
But, you know, it's the first time that a sitting head of state has been indicted, is being tried now. And there are people like Omar Bashir (ph) of Sudan who are also going to be -- also, you know, have been indicted. So this is really a precedent case, and the world's eyes are on it.
COOPER: Tim Heatherton. I appreciate you coming on, Tim. Good to see you. Thank you.
HEATHERTON: Thanks, Anderson.
COOPER: Still ahead: one mom's fight to empower other parents to help kids with special needs. Her battleground? New Orleans Public Schools.
COOPER: Tonight, changing lives one child at a time: that's the mission for one New Orleans' mom. She's been fighting for the rights of special needs' kids for decades. She's doing it in the public schools and by reaching out to parents.
CNN Education contributor, Steve Perry has her story in "Perry's Principles."
STEVE PERRY, CNN EDUCATION CONTRIBUTOR (voice-over): When Karran Harper Royal's oldest son, Chris, started kindergarten 20 years ago she got an earful from teachers who did not understand his behavior was masking ADHD. KARRAN HARPER ROYAL, PARENT ADVOCATE: He's always getting put out of class, he's getting punished, having to write lines, having to stand on the wall at lunchtime. They're getting all these negative messages.
At some point, you know, that kid is going to explode.
PERRY (on camera): How much of that is just boy?
HARPER ROYAL: The thing is, you see the other boys in school who are just being boys.
PERRY: Ok, all right.
HARPER ROYAL: Then you see your child is way off the chart. He was very good in reading, but the writing tasks were very, very difficult for him. Homework took five hours. Third grade homework should not take five hours.
PERRY (voice-over): Things got so bad the New Orleans mom felt she had to take drastic action.
(on camera): You were at the point where you thought you had to quit your job?
HARPER ROYAL: To be there.
HARPER ROYAL: Yes.
PERRY: Your plan is to quit your job to go into the school with your child?
HARPER ROYAL: I went to the -- I was at school every day. They ended up making me a substitute teacher.
PERRY: Come on.
HARPER ROYAL: No, seriously.
PERRY (voice-over): Excessive testing showed CHRIS had ADHD and a high IQ, which meant he was both learning disabled and gifted. Armed with this diagnosis, Karran made it her mission to get him the classroom resources he needed.
HARPER ROYAL: I started going to school board meetings. I prepared some documents to show them what I needed -- the trouble I had in getting services for my son.
PERRY (on camera): They must have loved you.
HARPER ROYAL: Oh, they have come to love me. They have come to love me.
PERRY (voice-over): She spent over a decade teaching other parents of special needs children how to navigate the system.
HARPER ROYAL: I usually give them some hand-outs, pamphlets. We help them understand what the law says that the school district is required to provide. And we do workshops to help them understand behavior. Make yourself an expert on what's going on with your child and work with the school.
The school doesn't have all the answers. But you have to make sure that you're communicating with the school. The reason I help parents now is because I didn't have anybody there to help me.
PERRY: How is Chris doing now?
HARPER ROYAL: Chris is a phenomenal musician. He graduated from the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts along with his regular high school; got a four-year scholarship to Berkeley College of Music.
He works here in New Orleans now as a professional musician. He's very good at what he does.
PERRY: And he's happy?
HARPER ROYAL: He's living the life he wants to live. He's happy.
PERRY: Parents need to educate themselves to the specific issues that their child faces, whether they be academic, emotional or physical. That's a 504. In addition to that, they also need to educate themselves to what specific strategies have been used to successfully address these issues.
And finally, we as schools have a responsibility, a legal obligation to make sure children with special needs are met. Parents should educate themselves to specifically what it is that we, as schools, have to do in order to serve their children.
COOPER: Steve thanks very much. Quite a mom, indeed.
That does it 360. Thanks for watching.
"Larry King" starts now.
I'll see you tomorrow night.