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PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT
Kidnapped Boy Rescued; Trayvon Martin Case; Guns in America
Aired February 5, 2013 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
PIERS MORGAN, HOST: Tonight saving Ethan. Inside the dramatic rescue of the boy in the bunker.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have faith that he was going to come back.
MORGAN: Exclusive details on how he's doing on the eve of his sixth birthday.
Plus you've seen me do this. Has it changed my mind about guns? Tonight I'll go head-to-head with a man who says gun owners should stand their ground. Robert Zimmerman is the brother of the man who shot Trayvon Martin.
Also he helped save Gabby Giffords. What Daniel Hernandez thinks of guns in America.
DANIEL HERNANDEZ, HELPED SAVE GABBY GIFFORDS: Having more guns does not solve the problem.
MORGAN: And secrets of a church. My primetime exclusive with a woman who grew up a scientologist. How she says she escaped.
This is PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT.
MORGAN: Good evening. Gun advocates have been telling me for months now that I don't know what it's like to shoot a gun and that I therefore have no business expressing any opinion on guns.
I disagree with that premise. But as you may have seen on the show last night I now know exactly what it's like to shoot an AR-15 assault rifle.
And for that matter, a Browning M-2 machine gun.
Both of which astonishingly are completely legal. I can tell you that none of that has changed my opinion on guns. If anything, it's made it stronger. And tonight I'll be talking to people on all sides of this raging debate.
We begin with exclusive details on the extraordinary rescue of a nearly 6-year-old boy who was held hostage in a backyard bunker in Alabama. Since he's so young, we're just using his first name, Ethan. He was released from an Alabama hospital just a little while ago. And tonight the community is gathering to celebrate Ethan's birthday and to honor the life of the hero bus driver who gave his life to protect all the children.
CNN's Martin Savidge is on the scene with new details. And joining me exclusively is Cindy Steiner, one of Ethan's closest neighbors.
And, Martin, let me start with you. Some dramatic information coming out through the latter part of today involving various bombs that the now-deceased kidnapper had planted. What can you tell me about what we now know about this?
MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, it's a very chilling reminder, Piers, of just how dangerous this whole situation was, especially when this dramatic rescue was carried out by federal agents. How much danger they face and certainly how much danger 5- year-old Ethan faced because now authorities are saying that as they went through that bunker in the aftermath, they have found one explosive device inside of the bunker.
They have found a second explosive device that was located inside a PVC pipe which at one point was being used as a means to communicate. So quite shocking to realize that those two explosive devices were there as the authorities raid it.
MORGAN: And do we know exactly what triggered the final assault by the FBI? And there are reports that there was some kind of shoot- out with the kidnapper. Can you confirm that?
SAVIDGE: Right, yes. The FBI is confirming that. They described it as -- I believe the term they used is "firefight," which again is another terrifying aspect considering, you know, it's an extremely enclosed small space in which this is all happening. And there you've got a 5-year-old little boy.
But what we know is that the last 24 hours beginning on Sunday afternoon apparently the negotiations have been going back and forth between Dykes in his bunker and FBI authorities began to deteriorate. They felt that Dykes' demeanor was deteriorating. He was becoming less and less coherent. And they also at one point saw that he had a gun and was apparently using that gun, gesturing with that gun in a way that made them feel that the young boy was threatened.
That's was the line that had been crossed. That was when the team said had been rehearsing, the HRT, the hostage rescue team, decided they had to go. There was one, maybe two loud explosions. One of them apparently to blow the roof of that bunker, one or two agents immediately dropped inside. That's when the firefight reportedly broke out.
Dykes was shot several times, he died. And as we all know Ethan was unharmed, that he was rescued and he's been reunited with his family. MORGAN: Yes. Extraordinary operation and great credit to the FBI for their patience and for the brilliant way that they got this little boy out of there unscathed.
Martin, thank you very much for now.
I want to turn now to Cindy Steiner. She's a very close friend and neighbor of Ethan's mother and knows the family extremely well.
But before I talk to you, Cindy, I want to read a statement here from Ethan's mother. It's very moving. She's asked not be identified. But she said this, "For the first time in almost a week I woke up this morning to the most beautiful sight. My sweet boy. I can't describe how incredible it is to hold him again. Ethan is safe and back in my arms and I owe it all to some of the most compassionate people on earth. I will never be able to repay those who helped bring Ethan home."
You can only imagine how she's feeling. You know better than most, Cindy, because you've been with her for most of the week. How is Ethan? How is his mother?
CINDY STEINER, NEIGHBOR OF ETHAN, ALABAMA BOY HELD HOSTAGE: She is -- right now she's wonderful. Now I talked to her the day before yesterday, and she tell me that she was just about on her last -- she said she can't take it no more. But right now she's doing good.
MORGAN: And Ethan is 6 years old tomorrow. So it's going to be a pretty special birthday for him. Have you seen Ethan yet? Do you know how he is?
STEINER: No, I haven't seen him yet. Another good friend of both of ours, he has seen him and said he looks really good, he's laughing and joking, being Ethan.
MORGAN: The moment that you heard he was OK, where were you and how soon did you speak to Ethan's mother afterwards?
STEINER: I was actually working and was in Troy, Alabama. As soon as I heard about it, all I could do was break down and cry and say thank you, Jesus. By the time I got home, I was screaming. It was just -- it was just -- I didn't talk to her yesterday. So I'm sure hopefully tomorrow I'll be talking to her.
MORGAN: Well, it's a terrifying thing for everybody in the community. Clearly as more details emerge about this kidnapper, Jimmy Lee Dykes, the more sinister he seems. He seems to have been just this awful accident waiting to happen.
STEINER: Yes. Now my grandson, oldest grandson, was also on that bus. And they -- he told me that this man, Jimmy, had been on that road two or three times watching the school bus.
MORGAN: So you think he was plotting this all the time?
STEINER: I do. I do. And I had also heard -- I was at the Laundromat there in Midland City Sunday, and they had told us that Jimmy had been in there a couple of days earlier and had lost some money in one of the machines, and they said he went just absolutely berserk.
MORGAN: You said that Ethan's mother has obviously been finding this incredibly difficult, as any parent would. What have you been able to do in the last week to try and bring her any kind of comfort?
STEINER: We have prayed a lot together, we have talked, we have cried together, we've hugged. She's -- she's pretty strong herself. I mean, Ethan's done an awesome job, but I have to -- my hat goes off to her, too.
MORGAN: Well, it's an amazing, miraculous story. I'm so glad it's ended happily for Ethan and his mother and for you and for everyone in the community. You must all be absolutely ecstatic. And I thank you for joining me tonight.
STEINER: Thank you.
MORGAN: And I want to turn to the stand your ground shooting case that ignited a national debate. Today would have been Trayvon Martin's 18th birthday. He was, of course, the unarmed teenager who was shot last year in a confrontation with George Zimmerman.
Zimmerman was in court today where a judge tonight at his attorney's request to delay this summer's murder trial. And joining me now exclusively is George Zimmerman's brother Robert Zimmerman Jr.
Robert, welcome back.
ROBERT ZIMMERMAN JR., GEORGE ZIMMERMAN'S BROTHER: Thanks for having me again, Piers.
MORGAN: What is your reaction to what happened today?
ZIMMERMAN: I want to start tonight, Piers, by speaking if I can for a moment about the importance of the significance of this date. Today would have been Trayvon Martin's 18th birthday. I know that today, just as George's attorney expressed in court, Trayvon Martin's family has a very special burden to carry.
And I want them to know that that's not absent from our mind now, and it never has been, regardless of any circumstances that surrounded that night, February 26th. I know that today is an especially trying time for all of them. So I want to start out tonight by saying that. I also want to start out right away by letting the world know and America know that disparaging the memory of Trayvon Martin in any way, shape or form is unacceptable.
It's not unnecessary, it doesn't contribute in a positive way to the outcome of this case for justice and our family won't stand for it. But as for how I feel about court specifically, obviously, I would support Mark's arguments that he made in court. I agree with him wholeheartedly. I'm a little disappointed by what happened. But I know that -- (CROSSTALK)
MORGAN: Mark -- just to clarify. Right. Mark O'Mara is the attorney for your brother, just to clarify that.
ZIMMERMAN: Correct, yes. And I think he made very compelling arguments both in writing in his motion and today when he readdressed the court after Mr. Delarianda. But I think that Mark is going to turn every stone. We've always had confidence in him to zealously represent George's interest. And if trial will go forth June 10th as it's on the schedule now, then it will be a prepared attorney that represents my brother. We all want closure in this case, but we do want George to get a fair trial.
MORGAN: I mean, what it is going to be now clearly is a kind of national examination of the Stand Your Ground law. At least 19 states have a version of this. What is your view about the longevity of Stand Your Ground as a law in America in any state after this case?
ZIMMERMAN: I think that there's two things that come to mind immediately. Number one is I'm glad that it is brought to the forefront of people's minds. It's about half the country roughly that has these kinds of laws or laws similar. What makes Florida's special is that Florida exonerates you from civil liability when you're found to be exonerated from criminal prosecution or liability by a judge.
That means that if you are in a situation where a judge finds that you should not be tried by a jury because there's overwhelming evidence to support your innocence in a situation where you defended yourself, you're not dragged through the civil courts for years and years and years. The other thing is that I think that it should be in this gun debate very relevant to people who own guns or carry guns who might not have found themselves in George's situation to now have at the forefront of their minds the reality of what can happen when you are armed.
Whether your weapon is concealed or whether your weapon is carried openly like they are in open carry states, the reality is that we need to become more familiar with the laws that govern our states and how that varies from state to state and what could happen to us if we're in a similar situation.
MORGAN: I want the come back to you after the break. And we're going to talk about the gun proposals for gun control. I know you got strong views about this. You don't agree with most of it. And I want to find out why after the break.
MORGAN: And back with me now exclusively is Robert Zimmerman Jr., the brother of the man who shot Trayvon Martin.
So, Robert, let's talk about gun control. You've seen the president's measures that he wants to put forward, over 30 of them. You, I believe, object to any assault weapons ban. Explain to me why.
ZIMMERMAN: Piers, what I object to is the government doing -- enacting these bans and speaking to all of America, all 50 states as if some kind of broad brush measure is going to address every situation in every state. You've brought up Connecticut many times where assault rifles like an AR-15 were banned. The reality is criminals don't care about --
MORGAN: Well, they were and that's the point. AR-15s are not banned in Connecticut.
ZIMMERMAN: Well, criminals don't --
MORGAN: Even though Connecticut -- well, here's the point. Even though Connecticut has the fifth strongest gun control in America, the AR-15 was not banned. Now I want to show you a bit of footage from last night --
MORGAN: -- when I was in Texas of me firing an AR-15. Let's watch this.
MORGAN: Here's the thing. As I began to fire it, I thought, OK, well, this is the speed it fires. And then I got into the rhythm with the trigger, and suddenly I began pumping out these bullets at this extraordinary rate and power. And all I could think of -- I'll be honest with you, Robert -- was what on earth did those poor kids at Sandy Hook have to go through? They each was hit by three to 11 bullets.
And then I thought about the movie theater in Aurora where the -- the shooter there, Holmes, used an AR-15 with a 100-bullet magazine and unleashed it in under a minute. And I thought, what on earth are these weapons doing in civilian hands?
ZIMMERMAN: Yes, and that's --
MORGAN: And what is -- what is your answer?
ZIMMERMAN: Right. That's -- to your point, Piers, what you're saying in effect is that even though there's very restrictive gun laws, they don't matter in the hands of a madman. I mean, guns don't fire themselves. And unfortunately I think what we need to ban is turning a blind eye on the mental health crisis that we have in this country. That's what really needed to be banned.
Bans don't work. When I purchased my guns, I went in the state of Virginia, I was checked instantly as instant background checks are available in Virginia, and I was given a gun. And I've never thought in my mind I'm going to go solve my problem with a gun. I don't think you would. I would -- I would shoot a gun with you at any gun range --
MORGAN: Yes, but my -- but my point -- but my point is that you have so many of these flash points now in America. There's a story yesterday of a neighbor who shot down and killed two of his neighbors with a gun because their dog messed on his porch. And this is the kind of story that --
ZIMMERMAN: Yes -0
MORGAN: This is the kind of story that I see -- I follow this account on Twitter called @gundeaths. It reports every shooting in America.
ZIMMERMAN: Right. Right.
MORGAN: As it gets reported. It's terrifying. The kind of -- just the indiscriminate slaughter of Americans on a daily basis on average, 35 a day. Here's the thing I would put to you. You would accept, would you not, that if your brother had not gone out armed with a gun that day, and Trayvon Martin would be celebrating his 18th birthday today? He'd be alive.
ZIMMERMAN: No, I wouldn't accept that, Piers, because tense of millions of Americans own guns and many of them throughout America are required to conceal their weapons. So that means that when you have a concealed carry permit, if you don't live in an open carry state, for example, Florida is not an open carry state, you're required to conceal your gun. Now we're not going to have time in that segment to get into every --
MORGAN: Yes, but you're not required to carry one, are you? That's my point.
ZIMMERMAN: When you do carry a gun, you're required to conceal it.
MORGAN: Yes, but I understand that. Because chicken and the egg. My point is if George had not been carrying a gun that night, Trayvon Martin would be celebrating his 18th birthday with his family today. Trayvon Martin, to remind you, had simply gone up to the store to buy a packet of Skittles and then go back to see his dad.
Now my question to you again is, if your brother had not gone out with a gun that night, you must surely accept that Trayvon Martin would still be alive?
ZIMMERMAN: You know, there's no telling what would have happened. We don't know if we would have been commemorating shortly the one-year anniversary that George was another statistic, another person killed at the hands of his attacker. You know, you can only slam someone's head violently into the concrete so many times. You can only break someone's nose and sit on them for so long while they're screaming for help for over a minute before that person has to take some kind of action. (CROSSTALK)
MORGAN: Yes, but again you're slightly missing the point because of course it was your brother who was pursuing Trayvon. Right? So obviously Trayvon was trying just to go home to see his father. And the point I guess --
ZIMMERMAN: I think it's -- I think it's a shame that you repeat that and also Jonathan Capehart and other journalists like Charles Blow. They -- the narrative that you purport relies on this line of "was pursuing." And it is in fact not consistent with evidence that George was pursuing.
What is consistent and what you did the first time I was on your air was you cut off his phone call when he said, OK, we don't need you to do that, OK. What that means is when someone says, OK, he ran and I can't see him. That means that that person is gone from their sight. That means that the pursuit or alleged pursuit is over at that point and if you really want to --
MORGAN: Well, look -- look. Look.
MORGAN: Here's the thing, Robert, all this will emerge now in the trial. We know that. And I'm very aware it's a very complicated situation. But clearly we can only go on what we have heard in the public domain where your brother was clearly told to not follow and clearly ends up following. So we will --
ZIMMERMAN: No, that's not. That's absolutely -- that's a falsehood.
MORGAN: Well, I understand.
ZIMMERMAN: And it's absolutely not true.
ZIMMERMAN: You can --
MORGAN: I understand -- I understand --
ZIMMERMAN: What you should be -- understand and be apprised of are the actual facts.
MORGAN: I'm not taking --
ZIMMERMAN: So you're saying you understand that implies that you were there somehow.
MORGAN: Well --
ZIMMERMAN: And you're starting to sound like Toure when he came on to you and said --
MORGAN: With respect though --
ZIMMERMAN: You're apprised of the facts.
MORGAN: With respect though, but you weren't there either.
ZIMMERMAN: With respect, I'm sorry about -- I'm sorry about the delay. But what I've said is that after this --
MORGAN: But you weren't there either.
ZIMMERMAN: Has not contradicted the statements of George.
ZIMMERMAN: And not the statements he made to the police or the statements he made to his family.
MORGAN: Robert, Robert, Robert. You were not there either --
ZIMMERMAN: And it is -- it is --
MORGAN: Were you?
ZIMMERMAN: No, I wasn't there either.
ZIMMERMAN: But I know the person telling the story better than you do.
MORGAN: OK. OK. Well, you're putting your brother's side and I totally accept that's what a brother would do. But neither of us were there and we will find out hopefully at the end of his trial exactly what happened.
ZIMMERMAN: And that's precisely why it's irresponsible to assert that in fact the pursuit continued. That's precisely why.
MORGAN: Well -- I understand that. Of course, it's equally unfair of you to presume the opposite. So we both -- we both in the end will have a view about this, we will see what happens.
MORGAN: But I appreciate you coming on the show tonight.
ZIMMERMAN: Thanks for having me again, Piers.
MORGAN: It is a complicated case. And we now know there will be a court hearing in June. And hopefully we'll find out the answers.
I want to bring in now a man who knows the toll of gun violence in America. Daniel Hernandez is the former intern who helped to save the life of Gabby Giffords after she was shot in the head at a constituent event in 2011. He's also the author of an aptly named book "They Call Me A Hero."
Welcome back to you, Daniel.
HERNANDEZ: Thanks a lot for having me.
MORGAN: And you know I went to Texas yesterday, I fired some of these guns. I was frankly just staggered by the speed and power of these AR-15s and the ease with which I could fire one, having never used one before. The accuracy and so on. God forbid what would have happened if the shooter in your incident had been able to use one of those.
I think it would have been a mass slaughter of a much more devastating scale. And that's why I feel so strongly about it. What is your view?
HERNANDEZ: You know, for me, it was a really interesting situation two years ago being there when the young man used a semiautomatic Glock, but the problem was he used an extended magazine. And that was one of the things that was really the difference. Whereas he would have had to reload three separate times if he had a standard magazine with 10 clips, he had one.
And when he was stopped was when he was trying to reload and Pat Maisch, who is someone who's in her 60s, grabbed it and wouldn't let go. So --
MORGAN: But he could have had -- if he had an AR-15, 100 clips --
HERNANDEZ: A hundred clips in a magazine. And --
MORGAN: And if it didn't jam he could have blasted everybody.
HERNANDEZ: Blasted everyone. And that's I think the big issue. The easy accessibility of these weapons that are not fully automatic. They're semiautomatic. But as you saw when you were in Texas, a semiautomatic weapon is still pretty darn fast.
HERNANDEZ: And it can cause so much damage in such a small amount of time. I think the numbers we've gotten from Tucson were about 19 seconds. And that's how long it took for 30 people to be affected, six of them dying.
MORGAN: Well, in Aurora I think 70 people were hit in under 30 seconds.
MORGAN: I mean, absolutely incredible. And yet these are not deemed assault weapons by many people.
MORGAN: I think that's a fanciful and ridiculous thing to say because they most definitely are. In terms of the political debate because in the end this is what it's going to get down to. One of the politicians have to get a stomach for.
I don't know about you but I am concerned already it's being spun as there can be no ban on assault weapons because the Democrats in the Senate aren't going to wear it. Well, who are these people and why won't they wear this?
HERNANDEZ: You know, I think one of the things that happened that was really great was seeing Gabby last week at the Senate hearing and saying, we need you to be brave and we need you to be courageous because Americans are counting on you, but the problem has been we have Democrats in places like Arizona who are afraid to touch this issue because they're so petrified that if they come out and say, we want to have responsible and commonsense changes to gun safety laws, that they're going to be hammered back at home as being anti-gun.
You know, I come from Arizona. It's a place that has a shooting culture. I've gone hunting with my dad. I had my own weapon when I was younger. But it's a part of our culture that we don't like to talk about and we don't like to really take it head-on. And that's I think the serious conversation that needs to happen in D.C. now. And I'm hoping that with the new group that the congresswoman has started and with so many other groups like the Brady Campaign and the Mayors Against Illegal Guns working on this issue that we'll have more brave members of Congress and more brave senators saying, you know what, I'm not going to keep passing the buck and I'm going to take this issue head-on.
MORGAN: I completely agree.
Daniel, it was great to see you again. It's a fascinating book, "They Call Me A Hero." You were a hero. Quite remarkable what you did. Gabby is most certainly alive because of your actions that day. And continue to fight the good fight and to make your views well and truly known and loudly.
HERNANDEZ: Thanks so much for having me on.
MORGAN: Good to see you.
Coming up, the Church of Scientology and the woman who says that she knows all its secrets. Jenna Miscavige Hill joins me for her first primetime interview.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're young, you're old, you're powerful beyond measure and the fuel of that power is not magical mysticism, but knowledge. The things you see, the things you feel, the things you know to be true. Sure, some will doubt you. Let them. There to think for yourself, to look for yourself, to make up your own mind. It's in the eternal debate for answers, the one thing that's true is what's true for you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: That was a commercial that the Church of Scientology paid millions to run during the Super Bowl. It's a public relations push by the religion that counts as its followers Tom Cruise and John Travolta.
What is it like, though, inside scientology? And tonight a primetime exclusive with the niece of its leader, David Miscavige, Jenna Miscavige Hill is the author of "Beyond Belief: My Secret Life Inside Scientology and My Harrowing Escape." And she joins me now.
It's a fascinating story. I mean it's an extraordinary book. And --
JENNA MISCAVIGE HILL, AUTHOR, "BEYOND BELIEF: MY SECRET LIFE INSIDE SCIENTOLOGY": Thank you.
MORGAN: When you read it -- and you know, I will talk to you a bit later about whether there's any doubt in your mind that your recollection is correct because it's pretty shocking.
MORGAN: But taking it as read, it paints a very disturbing picture of what appears to be a very abusive religious style sect. Would you concur with that overview?
HILL: Yes, absolutely. Very much so.
MORGAN: You were effectively coerced into this as a young child. At the age of seven, you signed a billion year contract, which sounds ludicrous. What is that?
HILL: It's basically -- well, the contract is for the Scientology's clergy, which is called the C-Organization.
MORGAN: C-Organization, right? C-Organization, right? Known as C-Org?
HILL: Yes, yes.
MORGAN: This is like the higher executive level of Scientology, right?
HILL: Yes, it's scientology's most dedicated followers. It's run like a paramilitary organization. The people in the C-Org, they all sign billion year contracts. And they work seven days a week for little to no pay. And they live communally. And they're not allowed to have children.
MORGAN: The pictures that the Scientology sent us today of this -- they claim this was of the time when you were there. They all seem like pretty pictures of what looks like a nice little holiday camp. But what is the reality of this?
HILL: The reality is that like these pictures, like, you know, these are all rows that we dug, all plants that we planted. This horse corral, I raked every week. That's what we did.
MORGAN: You were a young child. You were like seven and then eight, nine. How long were you doing this for?
HILL: From when I was six until I was 12.
MORGAN: Would you call it child labor?
HILL: Absolutely, it was.
MORGAN: How many hours a day would you have to do this?
HILL: We did the labor for four hours a day every day, except on Saturdays we did it all day. And -- but in addition to the labor, we also had our own individual duties which we did for several hours a day.
MORGAN: How much of your parents were you allowed to see?
HILL: We saw our parents once a week. And it was overnight on Saturday and for a few hours on Sunday morning.
MORGAN: How did it feel to you at the time? Did it feel normal because you were around everybody else doing the same thing?
HILL: Yeah, I mean, it was normal. That's all that I knew. But I also felt like sad about it. But I felt like I wasn't normal for feeling that way.
MORGAN: Your parents eventually break out of the church, but you're left in there. How did that feel to you?
HILL: Well, at the time it was my decision to stay. You know, unfortunately, I hadn't seen my parents throughout so much of my life. I mean, from when I was 12 until I was 18, I saw my mom two times the entire time.
MORGAN: In six years?
HILL: Yes, yes. When I was a child. And so by the time they wanted to leave, I had sort of built my life around my friends. And I was brainwashed. You know, that's -- the church was my life. And I wanted to stay there.
MORGAN: Your uncle, David Miscavige, is the leader of the Church of Scientology. Did you have much to do with him during this period? HILL: I mean, I definitely saw him throughout. I had a closer relationship with his wife, my aunt Shelly. And I definitely spent many -- I definitely saw her far more than I saw my own mom.
MORGAN: Is he an evil man?
HILL: Yes. I mean, as you'll read in my book, like, he has both sides, though. You know, like when I was younger growing up, you know, you sort of see a different side of him. But then you see how things gradually change. And I don't know if that was the evolution of his personality or if it was how he, you know, talked to me as a child and then as I became an adult.
MORGAN: In terms of how the evilness, if you like, manifested itself, how would you articulate that?
HILL: I mean, as a child, you know, of course, the labor that we've already, you know, spoken about. But I would say the worst part of Scientology is that, you know, it's their doctrine or the highway. If you don't agree with Scientology teachings, you know, you either have a word that you don't understand or it's because you've done something bad, which is what is so ironic about that Super Bowl ad. It talks about how, you know, seekers of knowledge and think for yourself, but you can't think for yourself when you're there.
MORGAN: There's a fascinating part of this where you have Chinese lessons.
MORGAN: Which are not necessarily lessons in how to speak Chinese, but they're based on what L. Ron Hubbard, the founder of Scientology, discovered when he went to China. Tell me about that.
HILL: Yes. I mean, basically we were required to repeat quotes from L. Ron Hubbard's works in unison until we, you know -- and they would have a big piece of butcher paper and you would read from those, and then we had to learn it so well that we could do it without the paper there.
MORGAN: That was because he'd gone to China and he'd seen this happening in Chinese schools and liked the idea of it?
HILL: Right, yes. He thought that was an effective way of teaching, I guess. But essentially, you know, we were learning things and to learn them verbatim without actually examining the information.
MORGAN: Looking back, you must feel completely brainwashed?
HILL: When I look back, yes, definitely. I mean, I didn't even know what I liked or what kind of person I was. It was just -- I was just basically a robot of the church.
MORGAN: Let's take a break. Let's come back and talk about the celebrity aspect of this, because Tom Cruise, John Travolta and others have tried to make it sound like a really sexy thing to be part of. But there's clearly a sinister side to this. I want to know if the celebrities got treated differently to people like you.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TOM CRUISE, ACTOR: I think it's a privilege to call yourself a scientologist. It's something that you have to earn because Scientologist does -- he or she has the ability to create new and better realities and improve conditions.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: Tom Cruise praising the Church of Scientology. I'm back with my prime time exclusive with former member Jenna Miscavige Hill, daughter of leader David Miscavige. Let us read this statement from the Church of Scientology. It was quite lengthy.
"The church will not discuss private matters involving Ms. Hill, nor any of the efforts to exploit Mr. Miscavige's name. We note the recollections in Ms. Hill's book about her schooling are dramatically at odds with the recollections of 30 of her classmates. The church has long respected the family unit, while accommodating and helping those raising children. The church has not engaged in any activities that mistreat, neglect or force child to engage in manual labor.
"The church follows all laws with respect to children. Claims to the contrary are false."
So you're telling a bunch of lies, apparently.
HILL: Yes, I mean, of course those kids are going to say that. They're still in the church. That's all they've known. But it would be interesting to find out from the church how many of those kids actually have a high school diploma, how many of them have gone to college. I would be shocked if it was even more than 10 of the kids at the ranch. I would be shocked if it was 10 at all.
MORGAN: Do they let anybody go on the ranch, any outsiders?
HILL: I think that the church sold the property, so they no longer own it.
MORGAN: Presumably they have places like this elsewhere?
HILL: Yeah, but the church has a rule that C-Org members can't have children. So that the numbers of children that are there have gradually dwindled down.
MORGAN: Let's talk about the celebrity aspect of this. As I said, Tom Cruise, John Travolta and others have made efforts to make it all sound great, Scientology Church. What is your reaction to people like Tom Cruise when you hear him speak like that?
HILL: I mean, I think that either he does know what's going on and he's not talking about it or he is willfully ignorant about it. I mean, people who endorse an organization like this, I feel like they have a responsibility to know everything about it and know what they're endorsing.
MORGAN: And what is fascinating is your husband, Dallas, who you met when you were still in the church, he worked at the Scientology Celebrity Center in Los Angeles, and from what I can tell from the book, completely different environment to non-celebrity workplaces that the Scientology Church had. Tell me about the distinction.
HILL: I mean, obviously, the church itself is much nicer. It's a much more beautiful church. I mean, yes, celebrities have their own private entrances. You know, there's beautiful restaurants there. They have their own classrooms.
MORGAN: Any child labor?
HILL: Things like that you wouldn't run across there. Things like that are not dealt with at that church. So members from there who get in trouble, they get sent to another location to be dealt with. So they would never run into that sort of thing and be like, oh, what's happening there?
MORGAN: Do you think these celebrities are being duped?
HILL: I think that partially. And you know -- I mean, this information is out there. It's on the Internet. It's on TV. And so, you know, it is out there. So part of it, you know, must be some sort of willful ignorance.
MORGAN: At one stage the church tried to separate you and Dallas, your now husband, when they found out what was going on. And you felt suicidal. You actually were on the verge of committing suicide. Tell me about that.
HILL: Yeah, well, actually, they had hidden him away in a basement where they were trying to purge him of his evil intentions with their confessional, and wouldn't tell me where he is -- where he was. And I was looking for him desperately. And you know, finally I basically used the only leverage I had over them, which was their fear of bad publicity if I basically jumped out the window.
And it was the only thing that ever worked, you know? I found out where my husband -- or my now husband was. And so I mean, it was crazy, but --
MORGAN: You eventually got out of the church in 2005. You and Dallas are still together. You have a couple of children, I think?
HILL: Yes, yeah.
MORGAN: Clearly you've had a lot of vitriol from the Church of Scientology for being a whistle blower like this. The unique aspect of your testimony is that your uncle runs the church of Scientology. Have you had any direct feedback from him since you left?
HILL: No, he hasn't spoken to me since I left.
MORGAN: What about any of his immediate family? HILL: No, I mean -- well, I mean, my dad -- I mean, not the Scientology ones.
MORGAN: But you're still in touch with your parents.
HILL: Yes, yes.
MORGAN: Do they have any contact with him, with David Miscavige?
MORGAN: Nothing at all? A complete disconnect because they left the church, too.
HILL: Not since I left. Yeah.
MORGAN: So basically once you're out of the church, as far as he's concerned, that's it?
HILL: Yes. I mean, there was some contact with him while I was still in there, because they wanted to see me and that sort of thing. But since I left, there's not been any.
MORGAN: What should happen to the Church of Scientology?
HILL: I mean, it should be exposed for the organization that it is. It should not be allowed to do things that are illegal or abusive.
MORGAN: And to people who are watching this and saying, well, how do we know she's telling the truth, what do you say to them?
HILL: I mean, read my book. And again, I mean, obviously I couldn't have a tape recorder or take pictures of myself while I was doing manual labor. But there are things that would be more independent, like do any of the children there have high school diplomas? Have they moved on to college? Those sort of things that could actually be looked into.
MORGAN: And of course nobody would know better than your own husband, Dallas, who was in there with you or indeed your parents.
HILL: Yes, exactly.
MORGAN: Final question. Has it been hard to repair the relationship with your parents, given that it was almost nonexistent through all those young years?
HILL: I mean, I've definitely had questions about it and certain things that I didn't understand. But in the end, you know, I understand better than anyone what it's like to be brainwashed and controlled by the church. And you know, I mean, you can't change the past. The important thing is that both of my parents are amazing grandparents, and that's all I could ask for.
MORGAN: Jenna, it's a riveting book, I've got to say. "My Secret Life Inside Scientology, My Harrowing Escape, Beyond Belief," it is beyond belief in many parts. I'm glad you're out of it. And I think your evidence, as I would put it in this book, is very compelling. And it's down to the church to answer some pretty serious question, I think.
Thank you for coming in.
HILL: Thank you very much.
MORGAN: In the wake of Sandy Hook, should America's schools be protected by armed guards? I'll ask controversial education reformer Michelle Rhee.
MORGAN: The NRA wants armed guards in every school in America. Others think teachers should be allowed to carry a concealed weapon. Will it make America's kids safer? I can't think of a better person to ask than Michelle Rhee, who has had lots of to say about all forms of education. The former schools chancellor of Washington, D.C. is out with a new book, "Radical, Fighting To Put Students First."
Welcome to you.
MICHELLE RHEE, AUTHOR, "RADICAL, FIGHTING TO PUT STUDENTS FIRST": Thanks for having me.
MORGAN: Just off the top, let's discuss this issue of safety, because obviously if the kids aren't safe, the rest of it is kind of superfluous. What is your view about all the various views put forward about how to make kids safer in schools with the gun debate?
RHEE: Well, you're absolutely right, that it is of preeminent importance that we make sure that kids are in a safe and secure environment in our schools. We have to ensure that that's happening. I think part of the problem with the dialogue that's happening today is that it's very sort of polarized to these extreme, right?
So let's arm everyone, the teachers, the kids, you know, versus not. And I think that instead of sort of polarizing the debate, we have to have a very balanced conversation. Having armed people in schools doesn't necessarily mean that we're going to have better outcomes. In the Columbine tragedy, there were armed guards actually.
MORGAN: Virginia Tech had a lot of armed people around.
RHEE: That's right. And it didn't stop that from happening. So that's not going to solve all of our problems. And that's why --
MORGAN: Do you like the idea guns around children generally?
RHEE: Absolutely not.
MORGAN: So I interviewed -- I didn't interview them, actually. I met them, but it wasn't aired. It was two young female teachers in Texas, in Houston, both of whom wanted to have a concealed carry permit for themselves, because they felt they needed one for personal safety, but they hated the idea of any guns in the school.
MORGAN: They're in an elementary school.
RHEE: Well, you know, my organization, Students First, is not a gun control organization.
RHEE: But what I can say as a parent is that it does make me nervous. The idea of having guns in classrooms, where kids could potentially access them, is something we've really got to think about.
MORGAN: Let's turn to the book, "Radical, Fighting to Put Students First." I mean, it shouldn't be that radical, should it? But to many people, it is.
I got some statistics. I remember the opening of "Newsroom," the HBO drama series about cable news obviously. And there was Will McCavoy (ph), the anchor, reading of at a lecture of other students this sort of shocking statistics of where America is now in many places. This is based on a 2009 study, 25th in math, 17th in science, 14th in reading.
I mean, for the supposed great superpower of the world, these are shameful statistics. Ahead of the U.S. in almost every category, China, Korea, Japan, much of northern Europe. Something has to be done, doesn't it?
RHEE: Absolutely. In fact, it's not just China and Korea. We're 25th in math. And countries like Hungary and Slovakia are ahead of us. That is a significant problem. And I think that people are not realizing that we are falling further and further behind in this way. And so the fact that, for example, education wasn't a primary issue in the presidential debate I think is extraordinarily problematic.
Because I realize the focus is on the economy and jobs, but we're not going to regain our position in the global marketplace until we fix our public education.
MORGAN: Everything stems from education. And I hear the president talking about it as being a priority, but I don't see a lot of evidence of it being a priority.
RHEE: Well, it certainly wasn't in the presidential campaign. You did not hear the candidates really talking about the education policy issues. And I think that was problematic.
MORGAN: What do you want to see done? I mean, putting students first sounds a great idea until you have to somehow -- you've got 120,000 schools in America.
RHEE: Right. MORGAN: What are the overview bullet points you would like to see happen which could radically change America's education system to start making it more competitive?
RHEE: So there are three primary things that we focus on at Students First. The first one is making sure that there's a highly effective teacher in front of every child every single day. The second area is --
MORGAN: You got to pay them more to get that kind of teacher?
RHEE: Well, teachers don't go into the profession because of the money.
MORGAN: But I think too many of them may leave if they feel disincentivised, right?
RHEE: That is exactly right. Teachers today, even though they have one of the most important and hardest jobs in the country, do not feel recognized and rewarded for the work that they're doing every day. I was talking to my husband, who is a former basketball player, professional basketball player. And I said, you know, when you think about, it it's really crazy that we live in a society where basketball players get paid 12 million dollars a year for dribbling a basketball around the court. I don't really know --
MORGAN: And he was a good dribbler.
RHEE: He was. But he wasn't adding a whole lot of value to society. Meanwhile, we should be paying the highest performing teachers in this country 12 million dollars because they are impacting the future.
MORGAN: I totally agree with that. Second point?
RHEE: Second point is we have to empower parents with information and with choices, so that no family ever is in a situation where they feel like they're trapped in a failing school. And the third is we have to focus on where the dollars are being spent. We are spending more money per kid than almost any other country internationally. And yet our results have remained relatively stagnant.
MORGAN: So a lot of money is clearly being wasted.
MORGAN: It's got to be sorted out.
It's a great book, "Radical, Fighting to Put Students First." I couldn't wish for more. I've got four kids. I want them all to read it. There are teachers who ought to read it.
MORGAN: Nice to see you. RHEE: Thank you.
MORGAN: Michelle Rhee. Tomorrow, the man who predicted a landslide victory for Mitt Romney. Oops. Dick Morris has left Fox News and will sit down with me tomorrow night exclusively. I can't wait for this. We'll be right back.
MORGAN: Tomorrow night, Tyler Hamilton returns to talk about Lance Armstrong's big deadline this week. The shamed cyclist has till tomorrow to tell the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency about his drug taking. Armstrong, of course, talked to Oprah Winfrey but will he talk to them? We'll see what Tyler Hamilton has to say.
That's all for us tonight. "AC 360" Starts now.