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Beating Down Democracy; Tax Cut Battle Continues

Aired December 20, 2011 - 22:00   ET


DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN ANCHOR: It's 10:00 p.m. here on the East Coast.

We begin tonight "Keeping Them Honest," as we always do, with the protest that is being called perhaps the most significant of its kind in its country in nearly 100 years. And when you see what triggered it, you will understand.

This is how it started, just outside Tahrir Square in Cairo, a wall of police charging at protesters. Now, keep in mind as you're watching this, this isn't video taken back during the demonstrations in the spring that toppled the old regime. It's from this weekend.

This is what the new regime is doing. And what happened next sent the Egyptian women in the streets again in a protest not seen in a very long time. It's also sending shockwaves across Egypt and the entire world.

Now, fair warning, what the camera caught, what the women are protesting, well, it's hard to watch. And there's also no sound, which perhaps is just as well because the images speak for themselves. Watch.

We don't know what ultimately became of this woman except that she suffered serious cuts and serious bruises. But we do know this, she's not the only one. And yet "Keeping Them Honest," until tonight the generals in charge of Egypt these days were insisting that what you just saw was only an isolated incident.


GEN. ADEL EMARA, SUPREME COUNCIL OF ARMED FORCES (through translator): Here I want to mention a very important point. The armed forces and police have pledged not to use violence against protesters physically or even verbally.


GUPTA: Now, do these troops look like they have taken some sort of pledge of nonviolence against protesters? I mean, does beating the daylights out of defenseless people qualify as nonviolence?

It's been going on for days, riot police for all intents and purposes engaged in rioting of their own. And yet "Keeping Them Honest," we will speak with "The New York Times"' David Kirkpatrick, who reports that no one in the military has been publicly investigated or charged in connection with any sort of misconduct.

In a statement today, the military Supreme Council said it had already taken -- quote -- "all of the legal action to hold whoever is responsible accountable."

As we show you these picture consider the rest of the statement. The Supreme Council quote says "reassures its respect and appreciation for Egyptian women and their right in protesting and their active positive participation in political life."

The council also finally said it acknowledges and regrets that violations, that's pleural, took place over the last several days.

Activist Mona Seif already knew all of that. In fact, she's been seeing it firsthand. And we spoke earlier tonight.


GUPTA: Mona, this brutal video, it's hard to watch, a woman being severely beaten and dragged through the streets. People have seen it all around the world now, as you probably know. You say that Egyptian authorities are specifically targeting women. Is that right?

MONA SEIF, ACTIVIST: Yes. I'm saying that in the current clashes it seems to be part of their tactics that they are specifically targeting women, they are specifically beating up women, and harassing them and sexually assaulting them to threaten them and I think also to send the signal that there are no more red line for them.

What we would have thought are things they would never dare to commit are things they are now doing publicly in the middle of the street with all cameras directed at them. I think this is just a sign that it's open war between us and them.

GUPTA: They're not even trying to hide it, you're saying. I mean, you -- we see this incident here. We're watching it right now on the monitors on TV, but, I mean, is that an isolated thing? Or are you seeing that off-camera as well? Is this happening more and more?

SEIF: I'm saying that what you are seeing right now has happened in the past three or four days to more than one girl.

On the 16th, there was more than nine girls detained by the army -- actually more than 20 girls detained by the army. Nine of them were hospitalized, detained for over a night in the cabinet building and they were then referred to hospital because of the wounds and because of the bruises they suffered from the assault they endured because of our army.

So I'm saying that this is not an isolated incident. This seems to be a conscious decision to target female protesters and to make them reconsider joining the street protests again.

GUPTA: The video again is hard to watch, people literally stomping their boots on people's bodies. Up until yesterday, as you know, military authorities were claiming they haven't used violence against the Egyptian people. You can decide for yourself watching the video.

But today, Mona, they did issue an apology and said they will investigate these incidents. What do you make of that? Do you trust that they're going to do this?

SEIF: No, of course, an apology -- a written apology is nothing. We have -- we have hundreds of detainees that are facing trial right now, are facing prosecution right now.

All of them are tortured. The majority of them are minors and they were all tortured. We have officially 13 martyrs so far. We have tens and hundreds of wounded. We have -- the girl you just seen is not the single case. There's another one, an older woman who interferes and tries to protect another girl and she's currently in the hospital with a hemorrhage and a broken skull.

So we are talking about a horrible, horrible sequence of time against all sorts of ages and gender of revolutionaries and Egyptian citizens, and definitely an apology on the TV and on Facebook is not enough.

GUPTA: Mona, thanks so much. I know you told me earlier you're in a safe place. I hope you continue to be safe. Thanks so much for joining us.

SEIF: Thank you.


GUPTA: And with us now in Cairo David Kirkpatrick of "The New York Times" and in New York Professor Fouad Ajami, senior fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution.

Welcome back.

David, again, I think a lot of people have seen this video of a woman being brutalized, undressed partially. It was stunning to see. What's been the reaction where you are inside Egypt?

DAVID KIRKPATRICK, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": You know, I think that video may have been viewed more often in the United States than it has been in Egypt.

It's been widely shown on the independent satellite television here, television networks here, and they have proliferated since Mubarak left, but a lot of Egyptians get their news from state television, government television, which have been telling a very different story, really portraying the protesters as paid thugs out to take down the Egyptian government, Egyptian buildings and assaulting Egyptian soldiers.

So it came as something of a surprise tonight when so many Egyptian women took to the street over this -- over this image and over this story, thousands, maybe even 10,000 women carrying this picture of the woman who we don't know her name, so people here just call her the blue bra girl marching through the streets.

It's been really a galvanizing moment I think for a lot of Egyptian women.

GUPTA: Yes. And we're looking at some of those images now, David, as you're talking.

Fouad, Secretary Clinton said this today: "This systematic degradation of Egyptian women dishonors the revolution." She said women were being targeted. Based on what you're hearing and learning, is that true, do you believe? Are women specifically being targeted there?

FOUAD AJAMI, PROFESSOR OF MIDDLE EASTERN STUDIES, JOHNS HOPKINS SCHOOL OF ADVANCED INTERNATIONAL STUDIES: I think they are being targeted and I think what it tells us, what we are witnessing really is a mix of class and sexual violence, because, remember, these recruits, these people you are watching -- and you described it right, Sanjay, when you said it's the riot police having a riot of their own, when they're charging these protesters.

These recruits, these security forces, they come from the poorest strata of Egyptian society. And to them the protesters are prissy, the protesters are educated, the protesters are paid agents by foreign powers, unnamed foreign powers.

So what you are witnessing is both, if you will, an animus toward women and an animus toward the protesters and an animus of these young recruits who are poor, who are very poorly paid, very poorly trained. And I think it's a reckoning time for Field Marshal Tantawi, the great Oz who is hiding behind the curtain. He must come out and own up to this violence.

GUPTA: Professor, some of this is just disheartening to hear especially after all we saw this spring.

There seemed to be this hope at that time that the revolts of the Arab spring would hold governments more accountable, but also broaden social reforms. Is that goal realistic with all that we're seeing now?

AJAMI: Well, these were 18 magical days. I think we all remember them, Sanjay, the 18 days in Liberation Square, in Tahrir Square.

And I think in a way still the promise of this Arab spring, of this Arab awakening is alive. We're not really witnessing, by the way, the violence of the Arab spring. We're witnessing the violence of the security forces, trained, nurtured by the Mubarak regime, by Field Marshal Tantawi.

So when people look at these events now, they say democracy is failing, this liberty, the new liberty's failing. No, it's actually the instruments of the repression of the old regime that are failing.

GUPTA: David, I mean, as you hear all of that, and you put together the events of the last couple of days, we heard a general of the ruling military council at first denying there was any violence against protesters, today, that same general expressing great regret for attacks on women, promising to punish assailants.

Did today's march make a difference? Is this some indication that change is possible?

KIRKPATRICK: Well, I think it is.

Whenever you see -- in a world of martial law, whenever you see the ruling military council bend the way they did tonight, and cough up that apology while the women were still in the street, you know they have got some kind of power.

And I have to say over these last few weeks, we have seen the military council increasingly move to try to carve out for itself permanent political powers and autonomy in the coming Egyptian constitution. They want to hold on to power, perhaps behind a civilian mask.

And for a while, I thought that was -- they were going to get away with it. It's been a violent few weeks here, but it's really also made me question whether the Egyptian people are willing to go along with that.

I think what we're seeing is a very meaningful resistance to that plan, and a really strong back and forth between the military council that doesn't really want to go so fast and a lot of Egyptians who are just as eager for democracy as they seemed to be in February.

GUPTA: And Professor Ajami, does the United States, do you believe, have a role here, given the extent of the violence that we're witnessing here?

AJAMI: Well, we have a role. We're invested in the Egyptians, in Egypt, we're invested in the Egyptian regime, we're invested in the officer class who run this country, because you do have an officer class. They're really kind of a ruling caste.

And they wish to -- as David Kirkpatrick says, they're not really willing to relinquish power. We do have ties to officers. We subsidize this officer corps. There is $1.3 billion American aid billed to the officer corps. We have enormous leverage. And we are implicated in some of this, I think. I think we should speak out, as the secretary of state, our secretary of state has spoken out. It's the proper thing to do.

GUPTA: Yes, I mean, you're hearing a lot of people speaking out, but still what happens next remains to be seen. There's elections coming up in just about a month from now. We will keep on top of that.

Professor Ajami, as always, thank you.

AJAMI: Thank you.

GUPTA: David Kirkpatrick, please stay safe out there as well.

And at home, let us know what you any. We're on Facebook, we're on Google+. You can also follow me on Twitter at @SanjayGuptaCNN. I will be tweeting throughout the night.

Up next: House Republicans block tax cuts, and not only is the president upset at this move. So is John McCain. We will explain what happened, and what it means for your paycheck, also, what some Republicans think it might mean for the overall GOP brand.

Also, later, something fascinating, our series on junk science in court and the potentially innocent people who could be doing time because of it.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Based on the evidence that was heard in this trial, are you comfortable saying that Mr. Hornek (ph) is guilty of murder?



GUPTA: We got that coming up.

First, though, let's check in with Isha Sesay -- Isha.

ISHA SESAY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Sanjay, I'm not going to sing it because frankly there's nothing festive about it, but the weather outside really is frightful. In fact, it's beyond that. Try dangerous, even deadly. We will show you where this massive winter storm is hitting and where it's heading -- that and much more when 360 continues.


GUPTA: "Raw Politics" now: your money, and how partisan politics could take some of that money literally right out of your pocket just as those Christmas bills start arriving.

Today, House Republicans refused to sign off on a deal to extend the payroll tax cut that 160 million Americans had been getting this year. They rejected compromise legislation that passed the Senate with overwhelming support from both parties. Then they called for new talks between the House and the Senate. And then they called it a day.


REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: We have done our work for the American people. Now it's up to the people and Democrats in the Senate to do their job as well.


GUPTA: Earlier, President Obama lashed out.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I saw today that one of the House Republicans referred to what they're doing as -- quote -- "high-stakes poker." He's right about the stakes, but this is not poker. This is not a game.


GUPTA: The stakes, to be clear, are about $1,000 for the average taxpayer. The political stakes in an election year could be significant.

We will explore the split this issue seems to be opening between moderate and Tea Party Republicans in just a moment.

But, first, Dana Bash is at the Capitol. She's reporting on this all day.

You have talked to lawmakers about all of this. What is the latest you're hearing?

DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The latest, Sanjay, is this is an honest to goodness standoff.

Look, I have been covering Congress for more years than I would like to count, and generally when you have these kind of stalemates, even in the past year, when they have been really tough, you still had some quiet conversations about potential compromise going on. I don't hear any of that right now.

What makes this standoff really different and really interesting is that everybody, Sanjay -- it's important to underscore, everybody wants a one-year payroll tax extension, the president, Senate Democrats, House Democrats, Republicans. The issue has been how to pay for it. It costs about $120 billion.

That's why the Senate passed the two-month extension to sort of patch that up while they can work on the long term, Republicans as well, but that is something that House Republicans simply say, it's not good enough. That's why they're stuck here.

GUPTA: And are they concerned, as far as you can tell, the members of Congress, the Republicans in particular, about simply getting blamed if the tax cut expires?

BASH: You wouldn't know this from the public bravado, frankly, from Republicans and Democrats, but in talking to members in both parties, particularly Republicans, Sanjay, in the hallways today, there is concern.

There's no question about it, especially those who have been around here for a long time, even some of the new members who really want to make a stand on things like this. They're saying they are concerned. This is something that's different. This is a pocketbook issue. It really -- as you mentioned at the top of the show, the segment, really affects people's pocketbooks.

People making $50,000 a year, they will see $1,000 sliced out of their paycheck. That really makes a difference.

GUPTA: Especially this time of year. Dana Bash, thanks so much. Great reporting.

To that point, there is some new CNN/ORC polling that is out today suggesting the tax battle is hurting Republicans and helping the president. Take a look at this. By a 50-31 percent margin, people say they have more confidence in Mr. Obama than in congressional Republicans to handle the major issues facing the country.

The survey also shows Mr. Obama's job approval at 49 percent, which is up five points from last month. The disapproval number, 48 percent, is down six points. To be clear, they're not exactly stellar numbers going into a reelection campaign, not by any means.

But it is something to ask our political panel about, former George W. Bush press secretary Ari Fleischer. You can follow him on Twitter @AriFleischer. And also Democratic strategist Paul Begala.

Good evening, gentlemen. Thanks for joining us.

Paul, let me start with you. December 20, five days before Christmas, are you surprised at the way this is all playing out, this payroll tax cut debate?

PAUL BEGALA, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I think we have seen this coming all year. Sanjay, if you go back to the spring, the Republicans were flirting with a government shutdown. They wanted to shut down the government.

And then in the summer they flirted with defaulting on the national debt, something we hadn't done in 2,000 -- 200 years. And now in the winter they apparently want to kill the president's middle- class tax cut to force a tax increase on 160 million middle-class Americans.

Forgive me if I see a pattern here. I think that there's pretty good evidence now that the Republicans seem to be willing to tank the economy in order to hurt the president politically. And, of course, you tank the economy by hurting the middle class. I don't think it's going to work. I don't think it's good politics or good economics, but I think that's what they're doing.

GUPTA: Ari, I can't imagine you agree with all of that.

But before you respond, I want to play a clip of how Senator John McCain characterized the fight over the payroll tax extension today on "THE SITUATION ROOM WITH WOLF BLITZER." Take a listen.


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: It is harming the Republican Party. It is harming the view, if it's possible anymore, of the American people about Congress.


GUPTA: So do you agree with that assessment, Ari?

ARI FLEISCHER, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I disagree with John McCain and Paul Begala.

Look, the Senate has turned into a killing ground of all good things in Washington, D.C. They haven't passed a budget in two years and now instead of doing what has always been done, passing tax cuts that last a year, which is the way tax cuts work, they pass something that has never happened before, a two-month tax cut, which makes no sense. Why? Because the Senate couldn't figure out how to pass anything more meaningful, so they did what they always do.

They rubbed each other's backs, did something meaningless, and called it a day and the Senate left town. So now the House has called the Senate's bluff. Nobody likes to see this type of dispute happening in Washington, D.C., but the fact of the matter is, from a pure policy point of view, what the House passed is far superior to what the Senate has done, much more serious, much more substantive.

Politically risky, yes, but it is the sounder, better approach of the two approaches.

GUPTA: Isn't it significant to you, though, Ari, that in the Senate, we're talking about a vote 89-10, both parties agreeing or at least voting on this particular proposal in the affirmative 89-10? Isn't that significant in terms of...


FLEISCHER: No. It's exactly the sign of what's wrong with the Senate. They couldn't get their act together to pass anything meaningful that lasted a year.

So what they did was they said, we give up, throw our hands in the air. Let's get together, and pass a bad policy and they all got together to pass a two-month extension. This is meaningless. We will be right back two months later into the same fight, the same argument, while the House has actually passed something meaningful.

The other thing here, too, is the Senate's walked away from the table. Always when there's a disagreement between the House and the Senate on how to pass legislation, which is typical, and it happens in every Congress, no matter who controls it, they meet in what is called a conference committee to work things out. The Senate's refused to meet in a conference committee and Barack Obama won't even call the Democrats to meet in a conference committee.

This in is an abdication of duty by the Senate so they can stick to something that a "I will your back, you rub mine" bad policy.

GUPTA: A lot of people have various sort of opinions on what's going on here and what's driving it. Paul Begala, I want to play another clip. This is what Obama strategist David Axelrod told FOX News.


DAVID AXELROD, SENIOR OBAMA CAMPAIGN STRATEGIST: You have to wonder whether some folks over there think somehow screwing up the economy, throwing a wrench in the works is a good political strategy for them, that somehow if they can slow the recovery down, if they can -- if they can cost a half-million or delay half-a-million or a million jobs, that that will hurt the president.


GUPTA: Do you think, do you agree, Paul, this is an intentional Republican strategy to try and hurt the president?

BEGALA: Well, if we look at what they do, I think the answer has to be yes, if you look at what they have said. It been their stated policy for quite some time.

The Senate minority leader, the Republican leader in the Senate, Mitch McConnell, he said -- and let me get him exactly right -- his exact words were "The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president," the single most important.

When Speaker Boehner was told that his economic ideas would cause layoff, he said -- and I quote -- "So be it."

A dozen or more prominent Republicans wrote a letter to Ben Bernanke, the chairman of the Federal Reserve, essentially threatening him if he stimulated the economy. The letter said that they didn't want him to do anything more to stimulate the economy.

So it just -- and I could go on and on. Of course, they're pope and prophet and Buddha, Rush Limbaugh, began this presidency saying he hopes President Obama fails. So forgive me if I look at this economic sabotage that the Republicans have been committing now for quite some time and think that maybe they have a strategy here.

FLEISCHER: Sanjay, if you really want to do something foolish to hurt the economy, pass a two-month tax cut. A two-month tax cut is bad economics, bad planning, bad policy, bad for decision-making.

It's economically meaningless. And that's what the Senate has decided to get together and do. And that's why House Republicans are on much higher substantive ground. They're trying to pass a one-year tax cut for $1,000. What the Senate passed is about a $150 to a $175 tax cut. That's nothing. That won't stimulate anything.

The only thing that stimulates is the Senate getting out of town.

GUPTA: So what happens? You have got 11 days left before the end of the year, Paul. How do you think this plays out?

BEGALA: Honestly, I have no idea, because...


GUPTA: I don't think I have ever heard you say that.

BEGALA: I know, because I'm trying to read the minds of people who the only thing I can see is that they're trying to hurt the president, trying to hurt the economy, trying to hurt the middle class.

In my lifetime, Republicans have never opposed a tax cut, one for five minutes or for 50 years. They're opposing this one because President Obama put it into law. By the way, last year about this time they cut what I thought was a terrible deal on the budget and I was very frustrated with President Obama because it cut taxes for rich guys like Fleischer for two years, but for working people, only for one. Why?

The Republicans wouldn't agree to a two-year tax cut for the middle class because they don't want to stimulate the middle class, they don't want to help the middle class and help the economy in an election year. Why else cut taxes for rich people for two years and working people just for one? That's their only strategy here is to tank the economy.


GUPTA: Ari, I know you have got something.

FLEISCHER: Barack Obama got everything he asked for. He wanted a one-year tax cut. He told us it was a one-time deal, a one-time tax holiday. And he said it would be good for the economy, which obviously it wasn't. And now he's come back and he's changed his language and he said this is all about fairness. That's the other factor of this.


FLEISCHER: This tax cut was supposed to come and go and now we're going to be into this debate every two months.

GUPTA: I wish we had more time, obviously, a lot of strong opinions on this. We will stay on top of it, though, at least until the end of the year. Hopefully, something happens.

Paul Begala, Ari Fleischer, thank so much, guys.

BEGALA: Thanks, Sanjay.

GUPTA: And next on 360, a massive, deadly winter storm is hammering parts of the Central United States. We're going to tell you what's happening with it and where it's headed next.

Plus, violence taking more lives on the streets of Syria, dozens of protesters reportedly killed today by police and soldiers. And any fan of "CSI" has heard of blood spatter, the kind of forensic evidence that always convicts the television criminal. But, in real life, it's not always so reliable.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm troubled by the results in this case. I'm troubled that this was the only testimony that resulted in this conviction.


GUPTA: We will have the story of one man who says that science sent him to prison for a crime he didn't commit. We will explain when 360 continues.

GUPTA: A deadly blast of winter weather is pummeling the Southern Rockies and Central Plains tonight. The storm's already being blamed for six deaths as it stretches from southeast Colorado to northern Texas -- 10-foot high snowdrifts, winds of up to 50 miles an hour, frigid temperatures, they are all part of this monster storm.

Got any holiday travel in the area? Well, that's pretty much at a standstill.

CNN meteorologist Karen Maginnis joins us now from the Weather Center in Atlanta with the very latest.

Karen, it seems like a huge storm. You saw some of the images there, blizzard conditions spanning from Colorado to Kansas. How is the storm looking now?

KAREN MAGINNIS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: This was a very fast-moving system, and it has really raced all the way from the Four Corners region. And now it's plowing on into the central Mississippi River valley. It's taking with it a lot of that moisture, and it's getting modified quite a bit.

We're starting to see some of the thunderstorms erupt across the leading edge of the system. This is called the warm sector. On the northern edge of this, that's where we've seen the snowfall. But it really has moderated quite a bit.

You're taking a look at some of the pictures, images coming out of Kansas right around Hayes, Kansas, along Interstate 70 going into and out of Colorado along Interstate 25, as well, and through Wyoming. Very difficult travel here, where we did see some blizzard conditions. Some instances winds were gusting as high as 80 miles an hour. Visibility was poorly reduced to, in some cases, near zero.

Now, I know for the holiday shoppers and the travelers, it isn't just being on the interstate. It's folks who are trying to get to these airports. Some of them are smaller airports like the Yellowstone, Cody, Wyoming airport. Some of the airports in Colorado, like Grand Junction and Denver. Some of these airports could be impacted over the next several days primarily due to rainfall. GUPTA: It's cooling down a little bit, or improving, I should say, a little bit. Any idea how long it's expected to last and where the storm might go from here?

MAGINNIS: Well, it's holding together. But as I mentioned, as it makes its way further towards the east, it's moderating a bit. So what we've seen lately have been thunderstorms. And they erupted over Louisiana into Quincy, Louisiana. They had a tornado there, and it was described as an EG-1, which is low on the Fujita scale, the enhanced Fujita scale. It blew the roof off of this hospital.

They did have patients in there. The roof landed on top of the cars. No one was injured. There was quite a bit of damage. The patients that in the hospital, Sanjay, they were moved to another facility and are being taken care of.

GUPTA: Imagine being in a hospital when the roof literally blows off. Glad to hear that no one was injured. Karen, thanks so much for keeping on top of that.

There's a lot more happening tonight, as well. Isha Sesay join us now with a "360 Bulletin" -- Isha.

ISHA SESAY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Sanjay, another bloody day on the streets of Syria. Government opposition groups say dozens of protesters were shot to death by Syrian troops and police. The same groups called Monday the deadliest day of the recent anti-government protests, with between 100 and 110 people killed.

Former North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il's body went on display in the capital city of Pyongyang. Among the mourners, Kim's son and chosen successor, Kim Jong-Un. Both the U.S. and South Korea sent messages of condolence to the people of North Korea.

CNN host Piers Morgan testified today in a British inquiry into phone hacking by tabloid journalists. Morgan appeared by video link and denied ordering phone hacking when he was editor of Rupert Murdoch's "News of the World" or the "Daily Mirror" newspaper. "The News of the World" shut down after it was discovered the paper had hacked into the voice mails of a murdered teenager.

And Sanjay, NASA scientists are celebrating the discovery of two new planets. The planets, named Kepler 20-E and Kepler 20-F, mark the first discovery of planets close to Earth in terms of size.

But Sanjay, I hate to break it to you: don't plan any trips. Scientists say the planets are too close to their suns and too hot for human habitation.

GUPTA: It's fascinating. I know. It's so fascinating. They come up with the strangest names. But I heard about 800 degrees on these planets. But it's the first time we found planets that are so close in size to Earth. Absolutely fascinating stuff.

Stick around with us. Coming up in "Crime & Punishment" tonight, a fascinating story about our new series on forensic science. There's a man in Texas who was convicted of killing his wife. The testimony that put him in prison was about blood spatter at the scene. Just how reliable is that sort of evidence? We're going to take a close look at the case and also why some people are suggesting Junk Science could have put an innocent man behind bars.

Also ahead a "360 Follow." Twelve charged with federal crimes in Ohio, related to a string of attacks on Amish people in which their beards and hair were forcibly cut off. We've got the latest. That's coming up.


GUPTA: In "Crime & Punishment" tonight, we begin a new series called "Junk Science." Now, if you've ever seen "CSI" or a host of other detective shows, you might know a little bit about blood spatter. The science behind the patterns that blood makes during a shooting or stabbing is incredibly interesting. The question is, just how reliable is it?

There's a new report by the National Academy of Sciences back in 2009 says when it comes to blood spatter analysis, too much is left open to interpretation. And while it's a valid investigative took, it shouldn't be the only thing that determines what happened at a crime scene.

But in the case that we're looking at tonight, it was exactly what convinced a jury to find a man guilty of murder, a man who insists he's innocent. Gary Tuchman has the story.


GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Warren Horinek is in a Texas prison, locked up since 1996 after being convicted of murdering his wife Bonnie by putting a .38 special to her chest and firing.

(on camera) Did you shoot your wife?


TUCHMAN (voice-over): Horinek, a former cop, claims that fewer than 30 minutes after he and his wife returned to their Fort Worth home after a night where they both got drunk at a bar, she committed suicide.

(on camera) Why would your wife shoot herself?

HORINEK: I don't know. I didn't see it coming.

TUCHMAN: Total surprise to you?

HORINEK: It was a total surprise.

TUCHMAN: Prisons are full of people who believe they're innocent, including Warren Horinek. But what's much different about his situation is that the prosecutor who was assigned to deal with this case also thinks Warren Horinek is innocent.

(voice-over) So the prosecutor refused to prosecute, and the case only went to trial because Texas law allows private attorneys to pursue prosecutions. And Bonnie Horinek's parents wanted it pursued. One of the Fort Worth crime scene investigators on the scene that night also believes the case should not have been prosecuted.

JIM VARNON, RETIRED FORT WORTH CRIME SCENE INVESTIGATOR: There's no question in my mind, Bonnie Horinek took her own life that night.

TUCHMAN: And then there is this man, who is the technical administrative director of the county medical examiner's office.

(on camera) Based on the evidence that was heard in this trial, are you comfortable saying that Mr. Horinek is guilty of murder?


TUCHMAN (voice-over): Criticism is being aimed at this man, the star witness in the trial, Tom Bevel, an expert in blood spatter evidence.

TOM BEVEL, EXPERT, BLOOD SPATTER EVIDENCE: Ultimately I offered my opinion, truthfully and honestly.

TUCHMAN: Bevel was paid to testify by the private attorneys who were appointed by a judge to prosecute the case. He analyzed the bloody T-shirt worn by Warren Horinek that night, and in a report declared the blood spatter to the left side of the T-shirt is from back spatter caused by the discharge of a weapon.

During an appellate hearing after the trial, the foreman of the jury said Bevel's testimony is what convinced the jury Horinek was in the room at the time of the shooting, which Horinek had denied.

BEVEL: He's got blood on his T-shirt. He's got blood on his knees where he's been kneeling in blood.

TUCHMAN: Critics say he made a mistake.

VARNON: That same pattern of blood on Mr. Horinek's T-shirt was caused by Mr. Horinek administering CPR to his dying wife.

SINGER: Having listened to the 911 tape, everything that I see, particularly on his shirt and on his person, is entirely consistent with his performing CPR on her.

TUCHMAN: This is Warren talking on that 911 tape.

HORINEK: Are you there?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What's the problem, sir?

HORINEK: My wife just shot herself. Get over here now.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're on our way sir. TUCHMAN: The dispatcher tells Horinek to begin CPR. His wife, who was a Fort Worth attorney, could be heard moaning. She was still alive.

Horinek does have a shady past. He admits once firing a gun in his bedroom while his wife was sleeping, and he had a serious drinking problem, which led to him quitting his job as a cop.

(on camera) Is there a chance that maybe you shot her and you just don't remember it?

HORINEK: No, not at all.

TUCHMAN: How do you know?

HORINEK: I wasn't that incapacitated.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): This forensic scientist at Syracuse University also believes Horinek.

ANITA ZANNIN, BLOOD SPATTER PROFESSOR: If the blood spatter didn't occur from the gunshots, then it would follow that he didn't shoot her.

TUCHMAN: Anita conducted a test similar to what she's doing for us right now. She's one of several expert who reviewed the case after former crime scene investigator Varnon brought it to their attention.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is a pig heart. This is human blood.

TUCHMAN: In addition to that pig heart and blood, a deer sternum was added. So was latex material to simulate a woman's body, and clothing similar to what Bonnie Horn had on that night. The idea: to see what happens to the white T-shirt of this firearms expert when he fires the .38 special into the same spot on the chest where Bonnie Horinek was shot.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We don't have any actual blood spatter. We have some of the tissue that was on top of the deer sternum, which is more than we even got during the first...

TUCHMAN (on camera): Is that blood spatter?

ZANNIN: Let me take a look at your shirt. No, these are all pieces of tissue.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): Anita believes the blood came from the CPR.

ZANNIN: I'm troubled that -- that this was the only testimony that resulted in this conviction.

TUCHMAN: In a 2009 report about forensic evidence, the National Academy of Sciences said, "Uncertainties associated with bloodstained pattern analysis are enormous."

Still, Tom Bevel is undeterred.

(on camera) Is it possible that all that blood spatter on the left side of his T-shirt came from him performing the CPR and her bleeding on him through breathing?

Again, the best explanation, in my opinion, is that it came from back spatter. Could any of that, a speck or two, possibly be from something like CPR?

TUCHMAN: My question is, could all of it have been from the CPR?

BEVEL: In my opinion, no, sir.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): Tom Bevel remains a sought-after blood pattern expert in criminal trials for prosecutors and for defense attorneys. Warren Horinek still has 15 years left in his sentence.

(on camera) If Tom Bevel was in this room with you, what would you say to him?

HORINEK: Why don't you correct your mistakes?

TUCHMAN (voice-over): Despite that opinion, and the support he's gotten, Warren Horinek's efforts to be paroled or to get a new trial have failed.

Gary Tuchman, CNN, Fort Worth, Texas.


GUPTA: It's just a fascinating story with lots of questions still. Earlier I spoke about this case with CNN senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin and also a forensic scientist, Larry Kobilinsky, who's a professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice.


GUPTA: Dr. Kobilinsky, let me start with this. You know, this whole series was borne from this 2009 National Academy of Science report that essentially called for a complete overhaul of forensic science practices. I'm sure you saw the report. I wonder what you made of it. Essentially seemed to conclude that forensic science had a junk science quality about it.

LARRY KOBILINSKY, FORENSIC SCIENTIST: Well, Sanjay, the fact is we're living in an era of DNA technology, and that is considered the gold standard for forensic evidence. And what's happened in that people are now comparing all of the other kinds of science within forensics to DNA, and it just doesn't live up to that same standard.

The purpose of this report is to generate more funding to do more research, to make sure that any kind of evidence that gets to the court is reliable evidence.

GUPTA: And it seem like DNA has raises the bar. Jeff, you heard the story, I'm sure, with Mr. Warren Horinek. I mean, given the discrepancies with blood spatter analysis, as a starting point, should blood spatter evidence ever be relied on solely to determine guilt or innocence?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: If it's in the only evidence, I can't think of a good reason. As Dr. K said, DNA really showed what science can do in a courtroom. But in the process, it showed how bad so many of the other so-called scientific tests are.

DNA can tell you within a percentage certainty that there is a match between, you know, the test sample and the scene -- the test at a crime scene. None of these other technologies have that kind of validation studies behind it. And without those validation studies, you have an enormous possibility of misleading jurors about how good this science is because mostly it's not very good.

GUPTA: I mean, Dr. K., if I may call you that as well as Jeff did.


GUPTA: So they felt the blood spatter could have been from a gunshot wound or from CPR. I mean, that sounds like a pretty inexact sort of thing. Is it an exact science to look at blood spatter? Both the former crime scene investigator and the M.E. Director disagreed with the blood spatter findings, yet, Horinek's imprisoned for 30 years.

KOBILINSKY: Well, oddly enough, blood spatter analysis is actually based on the laws of physics. We're looking at the size of the droplets and the symmetry of these droplets and then trying to develop an understanding of how these droplets got on the surface to which they were observed. And so the question is not whether the evidence is lying. Physical evidence doesn't lie.

GUPTA: Right.

KOBILINSKY: It's a matter of the interpretation. Has the analyst interpreted properly? I think gunshot residue, for example, leaves a very fine mist. Very teeny particles that don't travel very far whereas in CPR, of course, because blood is being pushed out of a small space, it does form a mist, as well. So, you can be very easily fooled by the pattern.

And so the testimony has to be very conservative in what it says. In that case I would say that blood spatter evidence is fine.

GUPTA: And, Jeff, I think as you allowed to, you would like to have all kinds of evidence. From a legal standpoint, can we still rely on this type of blood spatter analysis?

TOOBIN: Boy, I'm awfully skeptical. I don't know if I want to make a categorical statement that you can never rely on it.

But your jurors have all watched "CSI." You know, people in this business, in the criminal justice business, talk about the "CSI" effect. And they say jurors want to see these scientific tests. And it's good, because science is often reliable. But the problem is after watching "CSI," they think it's all as good as DNA, and it's not all as good as DNA.

GUPTA; I've got to ask you, Doctor Kobilinsky, "CSI," you can add "Dexter" to the list. "Bones" to the list, as well. I mean, what do you think of those shows as a forensic scientist? What do you think it does it to the whole system?

KOBILINSKY: Well, it's been terrific for us at universities and colleges, because there's a lot of interest on the part of students in our programs.

On the other hand, if you're talking about jurors that have watched these kinds of programs, they certainly have high expectations and hold the prosecutors to those high standards. A prosecutor that goes in without an analysis of physical evidence is going to lose his case.

GUPTA: Dr. Lawrence Kobilinsky, thanks so much.

Jeff Toobin, as well, thank you.


GUPTA: Up next, a "360 Follow": new charges in that string of Amish beard attacks. Samuel Mullet and 11 other members of his breakaway sect, including two women, are now indicted in the bizarre crime spree.


GUPTA: A "360 News & Business Bulletin," the "360 Follow." The Justice Department has announced 12 Ohio residents have been charged with federal crimes in a string of Amish beard-cutting attacks. In the Amish religion, the way men wear their beards is a symbol of their faith.

Zachary Tomaselli, the third man to allege that former Syracuse basketball coach Bernie Fine molested him, has pleaded guilty to charges he sexually abused a teenage boy. Tomaselli faces up to 3 years and 3 months in a Maine prison.

Signs of strength in the housing market helped spark a surge on Wall Street today. The Dow gained 337 points. The S&P rose 36, and the NASDAQ added 80 points.

And a woman in a Florida helped a girl reunite with her dog. KFHB reports the dog was picked up as a stray in Tampa after a visit with relatives. A microchip helped animal services identify the dog, and a good Samaritan used her sky miles to escort the dog back to Kansas City, Missouri, and to her the 14-year-old owner, Abbie -- Sanjay.

GUPTA: Isha, thanks.

Our top ten "RidicuList" countdown of 2011 continues. And tonight, it is No. 9, not a cat that looks awfully familiar. That's next.


GUPTA: Counting down the top ten "RidicuLists" of 2011, based on your votes. Tonight, we've got No. 9. A cat that looks a lot like someone we know. Here's Anderson.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Time for "The RidicuList." And tonight we're adding this cat, who apparently thinks he looks like me. We saw this -- it does look like me. We saw this on a blog called It's part of the popular ICanHasCheezburger Web site. And yes, I'm now going after defenseless animals on "The RidicuList." Consider yourself on notice, Bo Obama.

Back with you, cat with a lot of nerve. I don't know who you are or where you're from, where you were heretofore unaware of my steely, blue eyes, but you and I have nothing in common. I mean, yes, I once peed on the floor. But who hasn't in Wolf Blitzer's billiard room?

I get that you want to make a name for yourself. My, my. Isn't it convenient, interesting timing, what with the ramp-up in publicity for my upcoming daytime talk show -- check your local listings or go to And along you come, cat, with your white hair and aloof facial expression. Nice try.

We're nothing alike. Just ask my staff. They'll tell you I'm not at all aloof on the days that I allow them to make eye contact.

And by the way, cat, don't think that I don't know that there's a whole group of you wannabes out there. You're getting a lot of coverage,, "The New York Daily News." Well done, cat. But spread the word to all your friends I'm on to your scam.

I spotted this alpaca who, like Rihanna, knows there's sex in the air but doesn't care, because she loves the smell of it. And let's be honest, that alpaca, it looks like it might be a bit of a freak in the barn, if you know what I'm saying.

Then there's that horse, you know the one I mean, the one who looks like actor and noted Donald Trump political supporter Gary Busey. You might be interested to know, cat, that Mr. Busey was nominated for an Academy Award in the late '70s and, well, more recently was on a reality show with Star Jones and that naked guy from "Survivor."

Not everyone looks scary, though. Here's "Modern Family's" Eric Stonestreet. Frankly, I think he and that dog should be doing those depressing ASPCA commercials. Watch out, Sarah McLaughlin. Your days making us feeling guilty might be numbered.

But I digress, cat. You see, the reason that I'm on to your scam is that, well, I've seen it right here on CNN. Perhaps the most famous animal celebrity combination -- sorry. Let's see that again. It makes me giggle every time. The most famous animal celebrity combination of them all, Larry King and this monkey. "Curious George, you're on with Bill Maher. What's your question? The monkey for the hour."

A more uncanny resemblance I have not seen. I don't know who's who, left or right. I don't know.

Speaking of 9 p.m. host on CNN, there's Piers Morgan who resembles, well, never mind.

You know, cat, I don't know what you say. If I haven't gone through -- I don't know what to say. If I haven't gotten through to you now, all I can say is watch your step. You and your posse don't want to anger me and for sure don't want to anger Wilford Brimley. In the meantime, enjoy your first of nine lives on :The RidicuList."


GUPTA: And Anderson will be back tomorrow night, as well, with No. 8 on the "RidicuList" countdown.

That does it for this edition of "360." Thanks for watching.