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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Should Guantanamo Be Closed?; Boston Bombing Investigation
Aired May 2, 2013 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Hey, welcome, this is a special live edition of 360. I'm Anderson Cooper.
At the table, tonight, as always this week, chief international correspondent Christiane Amanpour, senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin, and Amy Holmes, anchor for The Blaze TV. We have also got a special guest joining us shortly, the fifth chair. He will joining us in just a few minutes.
You can join the conversation as well by tweeting with us hashtag AC360.
Tonight, a lot to cover, what we just have learned about how much worse the Boston bombings could have been, what the surviving suspects said about when they were originally planning to attack and how that attack could have killed a lot more people.
Later, a conversation we started last night we're going to continue tonight, the hunger strike and forced feeding at America's Guantanamo Bay prison. Gitmo's former chief prosecutor is going to join the later.
Also, later, P.R. disasters abound. The dashboard cam of Reese Witherspoon's arrest is out. We will show it to you and contemplate why saying you're about to find out who I am doesn't really play -- doesn't play very well with law enforcement. Some of the other things she said as she acknowledges was pretty out there. Anyway, you will see all that.
Before we get to any of it, though, there's a lot to get to.
I want to quickly go to Newbury Park, California, about an hour north of Los Angeles, where firefighters have a monster fire on their hands, for a while surrounded our correspondent Paul Vercammen.
Take a look at what happened earlier.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right here, in Newbury Park, this is one of the leading edges on the fire, one of the main hot spots. They have trying to drop water via helicopter on this area.
But as you can, it's so smoky, it's almost impossible to get a good look at where the fire is burning. I can tell you right now it's burning all up there along that ridge, threatening all these houses in this neighborhood. But the smoke is just absolutely horrific. And the heat, the heat is tremendous right now, the firefighters really up against it.
You can see just where it's burning. It's encircling this entire neighborhood. And these people are right now trying to evacuate.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: It's crazy how thick that fire was.
Paul Vercammen joins us now.
Paul, it's amazing how fast this fire is spreading, as we're going to look at some of the images we have seen throughout the last couple hours. Give us a sense of the scope of this fire.
VERCAMMEN: Well, the scope is enormous, Anderson.
It's over miles and miles and miles. And it's burning on several flanks. But for the first time since this fire started, we're hearing the word containment. And as I kind of pull out here, you can see that smoke in the distance. Well, there's a lot of white in there, which means they're getting water and steam on it.
And now Ventura County Fire Department tells me they now have -- it's not astronomical -- but they have 10 percent containment. And that wasn't happening earlier, talking about the scope of the fire, so that plume is miles away, and then right behind us here, we understand these firefighters may even spend the night.
They defended this neighborhood expertly. You will recall those water drops were absolutely perfect. They got in there with chain saws to cut down trees that could be a problem, hoses. So, they built a line around this upscale neighborhood in Newbury Park and did their job. And so far, from what we understand, yes, there might have been some houses slightly scorched. But we have not had any houses destroyed in this massive fire.
They gave, by the way, Anderson, the last update at 6,500 acres. Now, that stayed at 6,500 acres for a long time. This might sound a little inside baseball, but when firefighters are out in a blaze like this, fighting it on many fronts, they're not getting reports back from the individual battalion chiefs on these acres. So, they often don't update them, because the pure focus is on fighting the blaze, and not providing the media with acreage numbers.
COOPER: Yes. Well, the fight has definitely been joined, about 600 firefighters, I think Paul said at the last time.
Paul, appreciate your reporting. Be careful out there, you and your team, as well as all those firefighters.
Now to Boston. The surviving bomber telling investigators that he and his brother were planning a Fourth of July attack originally using suicide bombs, instead of backpacks on the sidewalk.
I want to go right to Susan Candiotti for that and more breaking details.
Susan, what have you learned?
SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, this is coming to us from a law enforcement official with knowledge of the investigation.
And it gives new meaning to the term homemade bomb. Suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev tells investigators the bombs were put together complete with volatile powder and shrapnel, including BBs, right there in suspect Tamerlan's apartment -- that's the older brother -- where he lived with his wife and child.
Now, Tamerlan's younger brother, Dzhokhar, told the FBI this during his initial investigation, that the bombs were ready to go earlier than expected. Originally, they were planning to make the attack on the Fourth of July and make it a suicide attack during a huge day of celebrations in Boston, we all know famous for its annual open air concert with the Boston Pops and fireworks.
Instead, they chose the Boston Marathon. And according to Dzhokhar -- and this is really amazing -- that decision was made within a few days of the marathon. It sounds like a last-minute decision if you believe Dzhokhar -- Anderson.
COOPER: And all of this information, just to be clear, this is a source you have, allegedly Dzhokhar telling authorities this.
This is not him recently telling them. This is from the first day or two after he was arrested, when he was still in the hospital. Is that correct?
CANDIOTTI: That's exactly right, when they were going in under that safety exemption, right.
What do you make of this?
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it just goes to the point that I really hope that one day we hear the story of these two boys.
I hope we hear all of Dzhokhar's story, because, clearly, this domestic terrorism, all law enforcement people say, is the biggest threat in the United States right now, bigger than overseas terrorism. So we have really got to get to the bottom of this. And it's incredible to think that they just were able to turn it on, turn it off, decide what to do.
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Also, color me a little skeptical about that they were really going to commit suicide here.
TOOBIN: I have no doubt that he may have said that, but here's a guy who, the day after the suicide, is back at his dorm.
COOPER: Smoking pot.
TOOBIN: Smoking pot, going to parties, didn't look like someone who was that emotionally engaged in the process.
COOPER: But to Christiane's point, do you think -- they could take death penalty off the table in order to get him to talk?
That's what Judy Clarke does.
TOOBIN: Judy Clarke, the new -- the defense attorney, makes a deal that is -- that gives the government something of value, if the government is interested.
Now, the government may say, look, given the magnitude of this crime, given that he's the only defendant, given that we don't really need that much, we have his cell phone records, we have his computer, he has nothing of value. We just want to try him.
AMY HOLMES, "REAL NEWS": But I think Sandy -- Susan's, rather, report suggest that the authorities know a lot more than we do.
COOPER: They do have the laptop computer. We know that now.
HOLMES: Yes, but the bomb was built in the apartment where the wife and child were living. That would suggest then that Katherine Russell, maybe we don't have the full story from her yet.
And, if you remember, very early on, we were told that the younger brother said, no on else knows about this. This was just me and my brother.
HOLMES: And now it looks like maybe it's getting wider and wider.
COOPER: How do you build a bomb in an apartment and not have the wife know about it in this tiny apartment?
TOOBIN: Yes, this is not a seven-room Upper West Side, Manhattan, apartment.
HOLMES: ... yelling down the stairs, honey, what are you doing down there? TOOBIN: Yes. This is a small apartment.
COOPER: I want to bring in former CIA officer Bob Baer, who knows firsthand what is involved in bomb-making. he has had a lot of experience in this.
Bob, thanks for joining us.
You, all along, have been very skeptical that the idea that these two built this device by themselves. Does anything you have heard tonight from Susan's reporting that Dzhokhar is saying they built this bomb in the house and just -- and moved up the timetable of the attack because they finished it earlier than they thought they would, does that change your mind at all?
BOB BAER, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Anderson, that could be consistent. It could be correct.
But there's two things I would like to say. One is al Qaeda has a standard procedure for its operative. When they're caught, they're to say they did it on their own, they did it at home, they took the design off the Internet, that there was no direction. And that's been in place for the last four or five years.
We don't know that that hasn't happened in this situation. And, number two, I have seen nothing out there to explain how these two young men were able to change the design from the "Inspire" manual, because it was changed. There were a couple complicated additions added to it on the surface and the rest of it.
This isn't something that they would know how to do. Why did they vary the design? I still think that Tamerlan got some sort of instruction in Chechnya or Dagestan, but that's just a hypothesis. But, yes, they could do it in the apartment. I doubt these Kazakhs were truly involved in the plot. Maybe the wife was. Kazakhs are so rarely drawn into these things, that they were probably unwitting conspirators in this.
TOOBIN: Bob, given what we have seen of the apparent lack of sophistication at least of the day-to-day life of these two brothers, don't you think, by looking at their cell phones, by looking at their computers, we will know who they're in contact with? There are not going to be some secret compartments. They're going to have talked to people on the phone, right?
BAER: Oh, absolutely.
I think once they go through all the phone records, Instagram, and the rest of it, and their chats and -- that if there was a U.S. network, it will quickly come to light. They weren't sophisticated enough to hide this completely. There will be some trace of it.
The problem is going to be is what happened in Dagestan, what sort of direction he had. And that would have been face to face. TOOBIN: Right.
BAER: And not even the Russians necessarily will be able to get at that. And there will always be a question mark.
I still have my suspicions, but I would -- that someone sat him down and showed him how to make the harder parts of this bomb.
COOPER: Also interesting, I saw the "New York Times" report that -- based on a source they have, that the brother said they were watching videos by Anwar al-Awlaki.
AMANPOUR: Yes, again.
COOPER: It's interesting how this guy who's been killed by the U.S., how he sort of has infused a lot of different attacks.
AMANPOUR: Yes, and, again, if that's the case, having learned all of this online.
They apparently didn't meet Anwar al-Awlaki. Of course, he's been dead for a while, but even before, had they been germinating this for a long time. And, again, these are not bumbling idiots. They put a bomb at the biggest sporting event in Boston and killed three people and injured 200. They are not bumbling idiots. And I think that this is...
BAER: I second that. I second that. You don't do two bombs in a crowded area with all those cell phones command-detonated without some instruction. It's impossible.
COOPER: But, Bob, if Russian authorities were surveilling them, as we understand based on reporting that they were, at least they were for a time, though apparently they lost them after the other boxer was killed -- the boxer from Canada who became a jihadist in Dagestan was killed. They lost Tamerlan.
If there was surveillance going on, wouldn't it -- unless they were incompetent, unless nothing happened, wouldn't the Russians have some idea of what Tamerlan was doing all that time? How good is their surveillance?
BAER: Well, it's very good, but the question is did they have 24-hour surveillance on them? They just may have been looking at their contacts. It may have been sporadic. It may have been listening to phones.
This is the provinces. They're not as good as guys in Moscow.
BAER: And they do lose people. And it takes -- to conduct surveillance, it could take years to really run down all of the contacts. And it's a lot harder than you think.
And the Russian system is not entirely efficient. COOPER: Yes.
BAER: And they -- he did slip away. He didn't get his passport at the end. They may have missed his contacts with Salafi groups in Dagestan.
COOPER: Christiane, you have...
One of the things I guess when we keep talking about Dagestan, it's interesting, but actually al Qaeda does tend to claim these things. And these people out-and-out disowned them and said, we have no fight with the United States. I know we're still waiting to see what links will be proved or not.
But, again, Bob, you're former CIA. I'm sure many people have asked you this, but I still want to know how come a Tamerlan Tsarnaev, whom the Russians have tipped off, who the FBI has interviewed, who's on a CIA watch list, who has very, very incriminating YouTube pages and Facebook Russian pages, why was U.S. law enforcement not more after this guy?
BAER: Well, it's stovepiping. The fact that Immigration didn't inform the joint terrorism task force in Boston about this, about the return, it doesn't -- the system doesn't work.
AMANPOUR: Because this is the most terrifying thing of all of this.
TOOBIN: And we had an enormous bill and spent multiple billions of dollars to prove...
HOLMES: The Patriot Act, for goodness' sakes.
TOOBIN: Well, but even other than the Patriot Act, the idea of creating a National Intelligence Office, the whole purpose was to...
AMANPOUR: ... our military intelligence complex right now?
HOLMES: But I'm still so struck by the Kazakh students and the U.S. students...
COOPER: Driving around with a license plate that said terrorist one, what an idiot.
HOLMES: And that they would interpret what seemed to me be rather cryptic text messages to be directions to go and...
COOPER: Right, come over and take anything you want.
HOLMES: Right, turned out to be to take the laptop, take the bomb-making material.
AMANPOUR: And one thing that Rudolph Giuliani said last night that I actually found interesting and instructive was, he said that..
COOPER: There was only one?
AMANPOUR: Yes, because we can argue everything he said on Gitmo.
But, on this, he is a former U.S. attorney. And he said that these Kazakhs also, they're in deep trouble. They did not tip off law enforcement.
COOPER: Right. Sean Collier, the police officer, MIT police officer, could be alive if they had tipped off...
AMANPOUR: If they didn't tip them -- yes.
COOPER: Bob Baer, good to have you calling in. Thank you.
We have got to take a break.
Up next, the former chief prosecutor at Guantanamo Bay on the hunger strikes and the forced feedings going on there. He's done a complete 180 on Gitmo.
Also in the fifth chair, former top presidential adviser and staunch defender of the need for Gitmo staying open.
As we have been doing all week, very compelling conversation next.
COOPER: Looking at a live shot early morning in Amman, Jordan, looking at the citadel there.
Welcome to our viewers in Amman, watching around the world and here in the United States on CNN. Safe to say no single story has generated the kind of heat on this program than what's going on right now at Guantanamo Bay detention facility, inmates on a hunger strike right now, medical officers force-feeding some of them.
Now, whatever you think of the place or the people initiative, what is happening there raises a lot of questions.
Back with our panel.
In the fifth chair tonight, someone who was present at the creation of Gitmo detention center, former George W. Bush Press Secretary Ari Fleischer.
Good to have you here.
You say Gitmo should remain open. And what do you think about the force-feeding?
ARI FLEISCHER, FORMER GEORGE W. BUSH WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Well, one, I say I would love to be able to close it. I think all of want it closed. The problem is, how do you accomplish that?
And that's what we have run into. Somebody I know very well is in charge of trying to negotiate with other nations for them to take the Gitmo prisoners, one of the best diplomats we have. He worked in the Bush administration, worked previously. He's a career Foreign Service officer. He works for President Obama now, trying to find places. No one wants them.
AMANPOUR: Well, except the Yemenis do want them back now, particularly those 56 of the 86 who have been cleared to go.
FLEISCHER: That's right. There's a certain number that Yemen wants.
AMANPOUR: The Yemeni president does want them back.
HOLMES: But do we trust sending them to Yemen, a country that is practically a failed state?
AMANPOUR: Well, no.
FLEISCHER: There have been people who were released to Yemen who returned to the battlefield.
COOPER: There was also a huge jail break in Yemen.
AMANPOUR: Again, Senator Feinstein, who is the head of the Senate Intelligence Committee, specifically addressed this issue that, yes, after the underwear bomber, she and others in Congress suggested to President Obama that they do not allow people to go back to Yemen.
But now she wants to reconsider that. The president of Yemen, who is a strong U.S. ally and a strong fighter against al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, wants these people to come back. And the momentum is building now.
FLEISCHER: Christiane, you're talking about half the population. There still is a remaining population. You have got 80 people.
AMANPOUR: ... 86.
AMANPOUR: But 56 of them...
FLEISCHER: But there's another 80 who would still be at Guantanamo.
FLEISCHER: And no one knows what to do with them.
AMANPOUR: But you start the process on the 86 who have been cleared.
FLEISCHER: But of those who are still there, this is why we need Guantanamo, because we're not ready to deal with that.
FLEISCHER: The fact of matter if we did try to bring them to trial in the American court system, because they're terrorists, because there's not exactly a crime scene with yellow tape around it and people with gloves walking a crime scene, chances are they're going to get off on a technicality in an American court. So, then do we just release them?
COOPER: One at a time. One at a time.
TOOBIN: The trials -- the trials in American courtrooms of terrorists, people accused of terrorism, have been 100 successful.
HOLMES: Ahmed Ghailani was a complete debacle. He was acquitted on over 280 charges.
COOPER: You know what? Let's bring in someone actually who was very involved in this, retired Air Force Colonel Morris Davis. In September of 2005 -- actually, can you move out of the way? Sorry.
COOPER: In 2005, he was the chief officer prosecutor at Guantanamo's Office of Military Commissions. He resigned in protest two years later.
Colonel Morris Davis, good to have you on the program.
You have done a 180. And you resigned really in protest. Why? What kind of impact do you think Gitmo staying open is having right now?
MORRIS DAVIS, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: I just don't see any upside to it.
As the president laid out on Tuesday, it costs a fortune. It strains our credibility around the world. As Jeff can tell you, the law that has come out of Guantanamo, Hamdan, Boumediene, Rasul, has all been adverse to the U.S. There's just no upside to keeping it open, other than right-wing talking points to say that the president is going to be weak on terrorism.
COOPER: So, what will you do with the people who are there?
DAVIS: Well, I think one way is to end the hunger strike is to land a plane at Guantanamo, put the 56 Yemenis on it, and fly them home.
And I think if the detainees saw that there was some forward progress, the hunger strike would be over. And you would end this having to force-feed people or let them die. For the others, I think we have got to make a decision. As the president said on Tuesday, leaving people in jail forever without trial is just fundamentally wrong, and it's got to stop.
So, we need to act like Americans again. We used to be the land of the free and the home of the brave. And we have been the constrained and the cowardly for the last 11 years. So, we either release them and send them home, or we give them a trial.
AMANPOUR: Colonel, for all of those who are wondering about what do you do with the rest, OK, you're talking about the 56 Yemenis. You have got in total 86 people who have been cleared for transfer. But what about the others? I have talked to many defense lawyers who say, look, the reason they can't be processed is because there's no evidences that has been put against them. They can't go to trial. They're in this like legal limbo. And some of them are really accidental prisoners. These people have been bought off and sort of ticked off for various bribes.
Yes, it's true, Amy.
HOLMES: ... 2009 did a review of the Gitmo detainees at that point, 240 people. And almost all of them were connected to either al Qaeda or Taliban.
COOPER: What do you think should happen to those people?
DAVIS: Well, I think what we ought to do is, there's a group of the 86 that have been cleared for transfer.
And these are people -- I don't think the American public understands that these are people that the FBI, CIA, Department of Justice, Department of Defense said we're not going to charge with a crime, they're not an imminent threat, and we don't want to keep them. And we're spending $800,000 a year per person to keep them at Guantanamo.
This would qualify for the Golden Fleece Award back in the old days. So, we get rid of those, send them home. There's a group of about 30 the administration wants to prosecute. And that's really a forum choice. And I think the forum ought to be federal court, where, as Jeff said, we have been extraordinarily successful. It's been fast. been severe sentences, where at Guantanamo, in 11 year , we have had seven convictions.
Six of the seven are now free men back in their home country. And six of the seven, their convictions have been overturned on appeal. Then there that group of 50 indefinite detainees that we hold them because we argue that we're at war. We have the right to detain them. But when we bring the troops out of Afghanistan next year, that legal basis goes away. So we need to thinking about how to solve this.
FLEISCHER: But that's the key issue. For those 50, what do we do?
And this is where I think the president has to be consistent. If he really thinks it's in the America's interest to close Guantanamo, then close it. Bring them to court. Bring whatever evidence we have.
FLEISCHER: Take them to court, military or civilian. (CROSSTALK)
FLEISCHER: And the president, then, should take a stand. And if they're found not guilty, let them go on the streets. If they're found guilty, fine.
But chances are most of those 50 will not be found guilty. And then the only consistent thing is to do is either leave Guantanamo open and keep them there or acknowledge they're going to be freed and walking the streets.
COOPER: What do you do about forced feeding? What do you do about this hunger strike right now?
TOOBIN: Let's ask Colonel Davis.
What is the more humane thing to do? Do you force-feed someone or let them die of starvation?
DAVIS: Yes, it's really a damned if you do, damned if you don't.
TOOBIN: Well, that's what I asked you.
TOOBIN: Because I don't know.
DAVIS: I think the way to do it is to solve the hunger strike. I think if you began sending some people home that have been cleared, it would show there's some light at the end of the tunnel. I mean, that's what the detainees have done. They have given up.
HOLMES: But the point is that the 86 who have been cleared, there are no countries that will take them.
AMANPOUR: Well, that's not true.
HOLMES: ... is no solution. Bermuda took the Chinese Uighurs. Bermuda won't take these people.
AMANPOUR: Oh, come on.
COOPER: You're saying Yemen is not a solution?
HOLMES: NO, I don't think that Yemen is a secure enough country that we could trust that these people being taken by the Yemenis...
AMANPOUR: The Senate Intelligence Committee does.
AMANPOUR: No, that's even not true, either. I have done the homework on that.
Our good friend Peter Bergen, let's give him a shout-out, "Manhunt," his documentary, on HBO tonight, has written copious articles, has made all sorts and so many others have as well of comparisons of recidivism -- recidivism in various years. It's basically at best or at worst about 6 percent right now. That's one in 17.
HOLMES: ... is reported by "The Washington Post."
COOPER: Beyond sending them away in order to kind of end this logjam, this hunger strike, is force-feeding, is that humane, or is it more human to let them -- to people go on hunger strikes?
FLEISCHER: Well, I think there's merit to what the colonel said about, if progress is made, that people see that there is a way that they will eventually be released or dealt with, it might deal with the hunger strike.
COOPER: ... that hopelessness.
FLEISCHER: You do want to have -- every prison has to be humanitarian. And if there is that solution, I would be for it.
FLEISCHER: But wait a minute, wait a minute.
I want to broaden this for a second about why we have Guantanamo in the first place.
AMANPOUR: No, we have it because of your administration. FLEISCHER: We have it because these people did not even follow the law of war, let alone the rule of war.
It's not a question of whether or not we should be trying people in civil court, million commissions, both which are legal and within the Constitution, congressionally passed. These people didn't even wear a military uniform. They engaged in battle against America as terrorists, a violation of the laws of war. That's why Guantanamo got invented.
TOOBIN: This country fought Adolf Hitler. And I don't really believe that the -- that Osama bin Laden and his group are worse or more dangerous than Adolf Hitler. And we managed to defeat Adolf Hitler by following the rule of law.
FLEISCHER: They followed the law of war. They wore uniforms and they fought us on battlefields. These people are fundamentally, totally by design different. And they need to be treated in a different extrajudicial system.
TOOBIN: I don't before that for a...
AMANPOUR: You wanted to have this whole thing about enemy combatants.
The roughty-toughty Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld decided no Geneva Conventions.
AMANPOUR: Let's just put these guys in there.
FLEISCHER: No, they were treated in accordance with the Geneva Conventions, even though they did not qualify because they didn't wear uniforms.
FLEISCHER: The law is the law. It ought to be followed.
AMANPOUR: No, it's violation of international law.
FLEISCHER: It's not.
AMANPOUR: And do you know what? Force-feeding is also a violation of international medical ethics. (CROSSTALK)
HOLMES: Christiane, in the short term, then, if you oppose the force-feeding, and we're not closing Gitmo in the next week, and yet they could die of starvation in the next week, what do you think is the solution?
AMANPOUR: I think the solution is written in many, many instances. There are ways to get rid of these people.
You have just discovered, discussed some of them here. Try them in proper courts, if you can. The problem, of course, is also that Gitmo was set up so you could enhancely interrogate these people. And a lot of that evidence, you can't use, you can't use it in courts.
AMANPOUR: But, look, there are those who have been accused who have been gone through the court system and have been convicted and have been sentenced to life imprisonment. I don't know why people don't have faith in the American people and a justice and a jury system.
HOLMES: But it's not a right-wing talking point when President Obama himself hasn't released these people. President Obama himself...
AMANPOUR: And I agree with you. He should have done...
TOOBIN: It's not just that Obama decided not to do it.
HOLMES: Nor has he put them on trial in military tribunals.
AMANPOUR: Because everybody jumps up and down and gets hysterical about it.
TOOBIN: What happened was, when he said he was going to bring Khalid Sheikh Mohammed here to Manhattan to try the case, Congress passed a law that said he couldn't close Guantanamo. So he doesn't have that option available to him.
TOOBIN: Absolutely. That doesn't mean it was right.
COOPER: We have got to end it.
AMANPOUR: It's just not American. COOPER: Colonel Morris Davis, it's good to have your voice in this debate. I appreciate you being on the program. Thank you.
DAVIS: Thank you.
COOPER: Coming up, the latest U.S. citizen to held captive by North Korea, he's been sentenced 15 years hard labor in a labor camp. We will talk with Laura Ling, who you will remember was held for almost five months in the North unless President Clinton secured her release. She will join the panel next.
COOPER: Looking at a live shot: morning in Istanbul. It's about half past 5. That's the Blue Mosque in Istanbul. Back in a moment. Ari Fleischer is in the fifth chair. You can join the conversation by tweeting us, #AC360. We'll be right back.
COOPER: Seoul, South Korea, almost noon. Welcome to our viewers there and around the world.
The United States is now demanding the release of an American citizen who's been sentenced to 15 years hard labor in a North Korean prison camp. Kenneth Bae is his name. He was found guilty of hostile acts against the state. We don't know specifically what he did to upset the North Korean government. He was arrested in November after arriving in North Korea as a tourist. He was actually taking -- he's a tour guide bringing Chinese businessmen to a special economic zone up in the north.
But I mean, for the U.S. government, it obviously presents some challenges. What do you do? I mean, you get, I guess, a former president to go over there and try to...
FLEISCHER: These are the worst type of headaches for the presidents. You have to protect your people. You have to do something for Americans.
On the other hand, why any American is going into North Korea in the first place is a terrible judgment mistake. It puts us, as Americans, in a bad spot.
But the most important thing for this administration is work back channels, work former officials to get him out. Do not negotiate with North Korea. This is a lesson the Obama administration, to its credit, has learned, watching the Clinton and the Bush administrations. Negotiating with North Korea never leads to anything good for the west or for America.
AMANPOUR: So do you mean on the hostage or in general?
FLEISCHER: In general. On the hostage, as well. That's why I said...
COOPER: You believe in this.
FLEISCHER: But I think North Korea, all they do is lie, and they get well-rewarded for it.
AMANPOUR: Well, look, I mean, you know, we talked about Gitmo, brought to us by the Bush administration. We have, you know, one of the first foreign policy themes that the Bush administration did, was kind of torpedo the sunshine policy and end all of that sort of effort there. And what happened?
FLEISCHER: You're ignoring the fact that North Korea lied to the Clinton administration and produced nuclear weapons...
AMANPOUR: Well, no, no, no. I'm going to get there. Under the '94 agreed framework, there was an amazing move forward. And everybody who was concerned with that said that, there was an agreement by the North Koreans to stop with their plutonium. They could have made 100 bombs. They didn't. Yes, they cheated a bit...
FLEISCHER: Just cheated making nuclear weapons.
AMANPOUR: ... but all the experts say that was manageable -- no, no, no. They were still in the NPT. Until President Bush...
COOPER: So you're saying -- you're saying diplomacy.
AMANPOUR: ... the NPT. They kicked out the IAEA and they started nuclear testing. That is the time line.
FLEISCHER: Do you claim George Bush, North Korea violating its word to Bill Clinton by developing nuclear weapons?
AMANPOUR: No, no. I'm merely saying -- I'm merely -- I'm merely saying that that is the time line of what happened. And there are experts who say actually, they got a lot more out of the framework then they will admit.
TOOBIN: But Ari, if you don't negotiate -- if you don't negotiate, what do you do? Just pretend they don't exist?
FLEISCHER: Let North Korea bluster. And you let them make all their threats. And you don't reward them by giving them more energy and more food.
TOOBIN: And so if they keep making more nuclear bombs?
FLEISCHER: We're not going to stop them making nuclear bombs by negotiating.
AMANPOUR: Maybe they did.
FLEISCHER: It was through President Clinton's negotiations, when North Korea lied to President Clinton.
AMANPOUR: They could have 100. They have...
FLEISCHER: President Bush's negotiation, where North Korea lied to President Bush. And now, to President Obama's credit, he's not going to negotiate. There will be no one to lie to.
COOPER: Let me -- let me bring in Laura Ling, who along with Euna Lee, was held captive by the North Korean regime for nearly five months until former President Clinton secured their release.
Laura, it's great to have you on the program. Can you describe -- I mean, this guy, Kenneth Bae, now has been held, has been sentenced to 15 years. You were also sentence to a lengthy time. Thankfully, that didn't actually occur. What was it like being held captive in North Korea?
LAURA LING, JOURNALIST HELD CAPTIVE BY NORTH KOREA (via phone): Well, it was -- it was the most terrifying kind of life. This is a man who was feeding the poor (ph) inside North Korea, as he had done so previously. He'd been there previously at a number of occasions. But one moment, his family believes that he is doing his job. And the next moment they have no contact with him, and they don't know if they will, you know, see him ever again. He is isolated in the most isolated country in the world with very -- almost no contact with anybody.
I -- I believe he's been able to have contact with the British ambassador. Those visit are extremely brief. And they are meant to be of a consular nature. So, you know, the ambassador will ask about his health and well-being, but there's very little else said. I'm sure he feels extremely helpless.
COOPER: By the way, the graphic said you were held for five years. It was five months before former President Clinton went over there.
But I mean, how do you get through those days when -- I mean, did you -- did you have contact with your family? I talked to Kenneth Bae's sister. They've only gotten one phone call in all this six- month period. This just happened a couple days ago. I mean, how do you get through those moment where -- I mean, I spent three days in, you know, lock-up in Iran. And it was the scariest three days of my life. Five months, I can't imagine being in prison in North Korea.
LING: It really -- I mean, fortunately, we were treated humanely, and our conditions were decent. That was after a pretty violent beating, an initial beating when we were taken into the country. I was grateful for our treatment after that, when we were treated humanely.
Every second of the day is a struggle to get through. We were -- I was allowed a total of four phone calls to my family. But that's more than the Bae family has had. And -- but aside from that. And they were very short calls. I was allowed some letters, and that was a huge comfort. And that was really the only thing that kept me going during that time, were the letters I was sent. I don't know if he's been allowed letters, but I could -- I think I sent a series of one batch of letters out to my family through my colleagues, but that was it.
HOLMES: Jeff, I want to address the question you were asking about diplomacy. It's not the only avenue. It doesn't just lead through a former president genuflecting at the seat of Kim Jung-un.
I think we're missing also China, and the pressure that China can be exerting in this instance. North Korea depends on China hugely in -- for its imports for its food, for example.
So my question is, do we have -- can we do that route in order to try to create this -- and I have to disagree. I think it's a brave person that goes into North Korea and tries to shed light on the terrible conditions there and help those poor North Koreans who are suffering under this tyrannical regime.
FLEISCHER: Well, everybody's tried to use China as leverage. And tried to have China be helpful. And China, in a kidnapping case like this, is helpful behind the scenes. But in terms of the bigger picture, China is playing a double game. China talks as if they want to help...
HUGHES: Which is always -- that's one of the complications of diplomacy.
FLEISCHER: ... but they really don't want to help. They don't mind what's going on in the peninsula.
TOOBIN: For those of us who are not experts, why does China want North Korea to be such a nightmare? Why do the Chinese...
FLEISCHER: They fear a bigger nightmare, and their bigger nightmare is reunification. They do not want the South and the North to combine, because they know if they did, they would really be the South. They would be a reunited South Korea -- a reunited Korea, which would be capitalistic with the American influence and the American troops on the border of China. That's China's buffer.
AMANPOUR: They have also worries...
FLEISCHER: A crazy buffer.
AMANPOUR: ... yes, about the collapse and whatever that might do to them not just reunified but also, they're worried that, if that does happen, that the USA will be on their doorstep, as well. So I think that's one thing.
But I do think, look, it was under President Bush. Actually, there was process. There was in 2008. There was the whole agreement with the North Koreans, Kim Jong-Il, was they'd dismantle Yongbyon. And things were going well for a while.
And now we're back in a terrible state again. And the thing is, it's not going to go away. And actually, it looks like Secretary of State Kerry who went over to South Korea after that last, you know, what was it, three or four weeks ago. There was a huge eruption, and he was threatening to do missiles and this and that.
And they said, well, you know, maybe we will have talks. The question is I don't think you can get over this but just sanctions and anger, because it hasn't worked. And just the way you dealt with, you know, Soviet Union, there are ways of dealing with these issues.
COOPER: Got to wrap this up. Final thoughts.
FLEISCHER: Well, I think the solution, frankly, is for no more western energy aid or food aid. Let China have to worry about North Korea. Let them collapse on their own. They eventually will.
COOPER: Laura Ling, it's great to have you on the program. Thank you so much for joining us.
Just ahead, some P.R. disasters almost call out for rubber necking. You've got Reese Witherspoon's bizarre arrest. You've got the situation in Bangladesh, which raises all sorts of questions to U.S. manufacturers. There's also Mountain Dew just made one of the, probably, worst commercials ever. We'll talk about it all ahead. P.R. disasters ahead.
COOPER: And welcome back. A couple P.R. disasters this week to tell you about, some involving pretty heavy stuff. Hundreds of people losing their lives in Bangladesh in a factory fire. About 400 people. The numbers keep rising. Mountain Dew pulling back several racially- loaded commercials. One professor called it -- in fact, this commercial that was made by a rapper for Mountain Dew, the most racist commercial ever made by a U.S. corporation. Also, Reese Witherspoon's disorderly conduct arrest. Video now has just been released by TMZ of the dashcam -- dashcam, this as she's trying to repair her reputation. Take a look at how the arrest went down. It's kind of extraordinary.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ma'am, what did I just tell you today?
REESE WITHERSPOON, ACTRESS: I'd like to know what's going on.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's under arrest. If you don't get back...
WITHERSPOON: I am a U.S. citizen. I am allowed to stand on American ground and ask any question I want to ask.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Go ahead. Come on.
WITHERSPOON: You better not arrest me. Are you kidding me? I'm an American citizen.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Stop! I told you to get into that car and stay in there, didn't I?
WITHERSPOON: This is beyond. This is beyond.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You fight with me, I promise you.
WITHERSPOON: This is harassment. You are harassing me as an American citizen. I have done nothing against the law.
JIM TOTH, WITHERSPOON'S HUSBAND: Reese, can you please?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, you have. You didn't obey.
WITHERSPOON: I have to obey your order?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, you do.
WITHERSPOON: I do not.
WITHERSPOON: Absolutely nothing.
TOTH: Reese, relax.
WITHERSPOON: I'm now being arrested and handcuffed?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
WITHERSPOON: Do you know my name, sir?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Don't need to know.
WITHERSPOON: You don't need to know my name?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not quite yet.
WITHERSPOON: Oh, really? OK. You're about to find out who I am.
TOOBIN: She was right about that.
COOPER: Not to anybody out there who's well-know. Never, ever, ever say, "Do you know who I am?"
TOOBIN: It's disturbing that someone who was in "Legally Blonde" didn't know -- didn't know that American citizens do get arrested. "How can you arrest me? I'm an American citizen." No, like, it happens.
COOPER: But legally, you can be arrested for not paying -- for disobeying a police officer's instructions.
TOOBIN: Yes. I have to say, I thought it was a little harsh, perhaps, to arrest, based on what I saw. But certainly, it was within the officer's rights. And she, I did think -- I think she made a bad situation worse. (CROSSTALK)
HOLMES: How did that video from the police cam get out? Get public?
COOPER: On a more serious note, I mean, you do crisis P.R. How -- when something like this happens, or I mean, ever more serious, you have this Bangladesh horrific, horrific fire in Bangladesh. A building collapsed, 400 people killed?
AMANPOUR: More than 400 people have been killed. This happened about a week ago, and they're still -- still trying to recover and rescue. I mean, not so much...
COOPER: Do a lot of U.S. corporations have clothing made in Bangladesh?
AMANPOUR: Really bad. It's really bad.
COOPER: How do you go about trying to fix it?
FLEISCHER: Separate the two, first of all. They're totally different.
In the case of Reese, what she did and she did the very next day was actually give a very human and genuine apology. And I think you just have to look at her and say, "Do I believe her? Or is she acting or not?" And I believe her.
COOPER: She was good on "Good Morning America" today. She was also like, "Look, I have a police officer in my family. I was just saying ridiculous things." You know, she said she was sorry.
FLEISCHER: And I thought that was forthright. And that's the only thing, from a crisis P.R. point of view, you can do. And it has to be in media.
COOPER: So apologize.
FLEISCHER: Own it, acknowledge what you did was wrong. Apologize. But you don't need a crisis rep to do that. It had to be heartfelt.
COOPER: It's so interesting how politicians rarely say, "I'm sorry, I made a mistake." I mean, it feels like in the political world, oftentimes, they're loathe to say -- you know, they say they misspoke. They're rarely just say, "You know what? I said something really bad, and I'm sorry."
AMANPOUR: The minister of Bangladesh today -- and this is a big deal. Because there are huge bribes being paid left and right.
COOPER: Right. AMANPOUR: These people who are connected with the party. Ten percent of the parliament there are also business owners. People looked the other way. This factory was basically a land grab by a well-connected guy that built more floors. Everybody looked aside.
COOPER: It was inspected the day before, and...
AMANPOUR: Yes, and there were huge cracks. But also, it goes to the heart of the fact that there's no organized labor there. All of us in the West, we like really cheap fashion. And this is what's happening.
TOOBIN: We all shop at Wal-Mart, or many of us do, and you can buy a pair of shorts for 5 bucks, and their slogan is "Always Low Prices." Why are they always low prices?
AMANPOUR: Because these people get paid nothing.
TOOBIN: Exactly. And -- but will American consumers care?
AMANPOUR: Disney has now stopped getting their stuff from there. The E.U. is threatening sanctions. Canada is, too. All the big, you know, garment retailers are...
COOPER: It's not just Bangladesh. It's Pakistan...
AMANPOUR: You know what they get paid? They get paid $37 a month. The pope, in his speech yesterday, called that slave labor. Thirty-seven dollars a month. And that's the cost of a...
FLEISCHER: Sweat shops and issues like this have been going on for quite a while. What's fascinating to see is whether or not, as more and more things like this come to life, economic standards start to rise around the world or whether the horror (ph) rises.
This has to be the hope of capitalism. That you cannot have three pockets, bastions where work rules, labor rules, environmental rules are just not followed. Because we follow them in the west in the United States.
AMANPOUR: Right. You're right. And the west needs to help them.
AMANPOUR: The west has to help them. And they need the investment, and that's what's so sad. The west also now has -- one thing she said is the west has to help. They've got to help.
COOPER: On this Mountain Dew, I just want to show people this commercial. Because it is -- it's stunning that a major American company allowed this commercial to be aired. Let's take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right, man. We've got them all lined up. Nail this little sucker. Come on. Which one is he? Point to him.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's me. You should have gave me some more. I'm nasty.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't think I can do this.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just point to him.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Better not snitch on a player.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's wearing a doo-rag.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Snitches get stitches, boo.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Come on. It's the one with the four legs.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You just need to catch me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TOOBIN: I mean, you know, this is an interesting question. Is it more racist or is it more bigoted against women? I mean, this is the...
COOPER: And plus the whole thing...
TOOBIN: It's like you can't decide which is more horrible.
COOPER: Snitches get stitches, which I mean, the fact that people do not talk to police about what crimes they see is -- it's the bane of police existence.
TOOBIN: A beat-up woman?
HOLMES: I do have a perspective on this. I think it's racist. Insofar as hip-hop culture glorifies vulgarity, violence...
COOPER: This was made by a rapper.
HOLMES: By a rapper, by a hip-hop artist himself. I watched it. It's actually a follow-on to a previous commercial, where that woman is a waitress who gets beat up by this goat, and now she's there to try...
AMANPOUR: I object to the racism and sexism (ph), as well.
HOLMES: I object -- I object that the director, the person who created this...
FLEISCHER: Well, first of all, I think Pepsi handled it properly. Pepsi came out immediately and took responsibility, even though it was done by a subsidiary. What you really have here is the clash between those people that are trying to be edgy through social media and through things that are supposed to go viral, and mainstream corporate America . This was done at the subsidiary level, to be edgy by design. Frankly, I don't get it. I don't see how it sells a thing.
COOPER: Yes. Well, we've got to leave it right there. We're going to have more ahead. We'll be right back.
COOPER: Beautiful shot there. Sunset in Seattle, Washington. Coming up on 8 p.m. there. Thanks very much to Christiane Amanpour, Jeff Toobin, Amy Holmes, Ari Fleischer. Great to have you on.
Thanks very much for watching, everyone. Bye, bye.