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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Rehab Racket; NSA Surveillance; Interview With Michigan Congressman Justin Amash
Aired July 31, 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: Tonight, "Keeping Them Honest, "Rehab Racket," clinic operators billing taxpayers, billing you for a bundle, in some cases for patients who don't even exist. Officials now finally going on record.
Also tonight, does the NSA have your number and Web history and e-mails just a keystroke away? New reporting says yes and reveals the classified software they use to access that and more. We're joined by a lawmaker as part of a bipartisan effort to rein in the agency.
And later is there a bellyache in this bag? Health officials say they traced an ugly stomach bug is linked to contaminated bags of salad. The question is, why aren't they saying which brand to avoid so you don't get sick? We will investigate that.
We begin though tonight "Keeping Them Honest" and getting results and our series "Rehab Racket." We have been telling you all this week what a yearlong investigation with the Center for Investigative Reporting reveals about a program that's costing all of us money, big money. Our investigation documents how California's federally funded Medicaid system, Medi-Cal, paid out $94 million, again, that's your money, in the past two years to drug clinics that have shown signs of deception or questionable billing practices.
Among the apparent scams, billing Medi-Cal for phony patients, for drug treatments never provided or treatments the patients didn't even need, in one alleged case because the patient was dead. It's truly staggering stuff.
For weeks, our investigative correspondent Drew Griffin tried to get answers from officials but no one would talk on camera. Instead, they couldn't get away from the camera fast enough. Two weeks before this investigation began airing, state officials announced action and last week finally agreed to sit down and talk. You might ask though especially after seeing tonight's final installment what took them so long and whether their promises to get tough actually add up.
Drew Griffin tonight, "Keeping Them Honest."
DREW GRIFFIN, CNN INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): George Ilouno shouldn't even be in California's drug rehab business.
(on camera): You seem to be at the center of fraud allegations here.
GEORGE ILOUNO, G.B. MEDICAL: No, no, no.
GRIFFIN (voice-over): He's been banned from billing Medicaid since 2002, but it hasn't stopped him from billing the state of California.
Tim Ejindu is accused of fraudulent practices at his drug rehab clinic, but it hasn't stopped him from billing the state of California, either.
(on camera): Mr. Ejindu?
TIM EJINDU, CLINIC DIRECTOR: Yes?
GRIFFIN: Drew Griffin with CNN.
EJINDU: And who are you?
GRIFFIN: I just told you. My name is Drew Griffin with CNN.
GRIFFIN: Wait a minute, now. Your former employees say that you are billing for county services you aren't providing, sir.
And then there's this man, Alexander Ferdman, convicted for running an organized crime ring in Texas that ripped off insurance companies. It hasn't stopped him from coming to California, setting up a drug rehab clinic and billing taxpayers even though felons are barred from running drug Medi-Cal centers.
GRIFFIN: Mr. Ferdman, how can a guy with a record like you be operating a drug rehab clinic here in California? You have been convicted of a major insurance car crash scheme in Texas?
ALEXANDER FERDMAN, FORMER CONVICTED FELON: I was convicted, but it's not what it seems.
GRIFFIN (voice-over): In the last two fiscal years, taxpayers spent nearly $186 million supposedly treating drug and alcohol abuse patients in California.
Our investigation with the Center for Investigative Reporting found half of that money, or about $94 million, has gone to clinics that have shown questionable billing practices or signs of fraud.
Joy Jarfors, former drug Medi-Cal supervisor, says she complained to the state for years about all the obvious fraud.
(on camera): We found billing records for people in jail. One person dead. People who said they didn't need this kind of treatment.
Clinics closed on a certain day billing for that certain day. None of this surprises you?
JOY JARFORS, FORMER MANAGER, CALIFORNIA DEPARTMENT OF ALCOHOL AND DRUG PROGRAMS: Not at all. We found all of those things.
GRIFFIN (voice-over): For more than a month, CNN is asking for an explanation for the state of California and for more than a month, we have gotten nowhere.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I believe the on-camera interview was declined.
GRIFFIN (on camera): Can I ask you -- from you, why?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That wasn't my decision.
GRIFFIN (voice-over): State health officials in one Sacramento building after another refused to be questioned, including Toby Douglas, who oversees drug medical.
(on camera): Will you make sure to provide a response as why this widespread fraud is allowed to continue?
(voice-over): Finally, after weeks of calling the state's secretary of health and human services, Diana Dooley, and getting no for an answer, we decided to ask for a response in person.
(on camera): Secretary Dooley, hi, Drew Griffin with CNN.
DIANA DOOLEY, CALIFORNIA SECRETARY OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES: How do you do?
GRIFFIN: We have been trying to reach you and talk about the widespread fraud that's in the Medi-Cal drug rehab business, but we're told that neither you nor the program director nor anybody at the state of California will talk to us about it.
(voice-over): In an uncomfortable moment, the secretary at first refused to speak.
(on camera): Secretary, do you know Alex Ferdman, a convicted felon who apparently runs one of these clinics and has been billing the state of California for several years despite the fact there have been complaints registered with the department about him? He's convicted of a major insurance fraud in the state of Texas, but for somehow was able to get certified and has been billing.
I'm just wondering if there is anybody in the state of California that is concerned about this fraud.
(voice-over): Then finally answered a question.
DOOLEY: The state of California takes fraud very seriously and there are many investigations that are under way. The allegations, all allegations are given full and fair consideration. And you have caught me running because I'm late for a meeting that I'm chairing. GRIFFIN (on camera): I wonder if you would just do one thing and maybe ask Toby Douglas to sit down and talk to us and explain to us some of these questions.
DOOLEY: And if you want to give us a little bit of time...
GRIFFIN: We have been giving you about a couple months.
DOOLEY: We have a budget that we're just completing and we have many priorities on our time. Information has been provided, answers have been provided. We have a very...
GRIFFIN: I understand.
DOOLEY: We have a very extensive fraud and investigation unit in Medi-Cal that's one of the best in the country.
GRIFFIN: Let me ask you two quick questions.
DOOLEY: No, that's all I have to say.
GRIFFIN: Are you concerned that there is massive fraud because that's what we're finding out and, number two, as secretary of health, could you have Toby Douglas just sit down and talk to us about our specific questions?
DOOLEY: Excuse me.
GRIFFIN (voice-over): But that is hardly the end of the story.
DOOLEY: Would you get security?
GRIFFIN: Our confrontational exchange with California's secretary of health and human services may, in fact, may have been the trigger for a mayor statewide crackdown.
One month later, nearly to the day, the state sent out this news release -- 16 drug Medi-Cal centers are under investigation and temporarily suspended. Just this week, California announced that figure has now jumped to 29 rehab centers, and last week, California relented to CNN's interview request.
Chief Deputy Director of Health Care Services Karen Johnson tried to explain why it has taken so long.
KAREN JOHNSON, CALIFORNIA CHIEF DEPUTY DIRECTOR OF HEALTH CARE SERVICES: We are going to review all of the drug Medi-Cal providers in the state of California. We are also going to require that they re-enroll in our program so that they become recertified.
GRIFFIN (on camera): Based on that answer, I think it's fair to say that the oversight by the state of California up until now has been seriously lacking. Agree? JOHNSON: I wouldn't say that's not a fair characterization. Any complaints that were referred to the Department of Justice and to the Department of Health Care Services was investigated.
There are other complaints. Those complaints were investigated. That is going to be part of the ongoing active investigation, and as I mentioned, we are looking at all of the cases and what is emerging is a much larger, bigger picture that we need to address.
GRIFFIN: A bigger picture of fraud?
JOHNSON: A bigger picture of problems.
GRIFFIN: And only now two weeks before these two national news organizations are about to release a major study of what we found was extensive fraud is the state of California doing this extensive review. Coincidence?
JOHNSON: It's not a fair characterization. We have been investigating all along.
GRIFFIN: My question is, why has it taken the state so long to catch up to this?
JOHNSON: Look, there are bad people who want to scam this program, and we are going to do everything possible to investigate and deploy the necessary resources to improve and enhance our enforcement effort.
GRIFFIN: So you feel the state of California has done enough?
JOHNSON: Obviously, what has happened and what we see clearly, there is more that needs to be done.
COOPER: And Drew Griffin joins us now.
I got to say this is awesome reporting. I mean, that the fact that these state officials won't give you any interviews for weeks and weeks and weeks...
COOPER: ... and then are running into the ladies room to run away from you without even answering any questions is just stunning to me. And it seems like they are trying to have it both ways. On the one hand, they're saying we have been investigating this stuff all along and at the same time all of a sudden they just happened to announce this huge review in the wake of your reporting.
GRIFFIN: Yes, I think it's pretty obvious.
Just before air we found out that now 36 of these clinics have been referred to for the California Department of Justice for possible prosecution. The clinics are being shut down. Alexander Ferdman, the man that we showed in the piece, his clinic shut down last week. George Ilouno's clinic voluntarily shut down a month ago.
But you're right. They do want it both ways. We're on top of it, and yet we're doing this big overhaul and review of the situation.
COOPER: And we're working on our budget so we can't bother to talk to you.
GRIFFIN: The problem is, they did know and that's the crux of what you have been seeing if you have been watching the last several nights, and they knew the fraud was going on. They had records of it. Their own investigators found it and little to nothing was done until now.
COOPER: And now, at least to you, California officials are saying the fraud is going to end or at least...
GRIFFIN: You know, we will see, right? What they are saying is they will review all clinics, recertify all the clinics. That should at least get away the felons who are running the clinics.
COOPER: Felons running these clinics...
GRIFFIN: But who will oversee to see the clinics are closed on Wednesdays, but they're billing on Wednesdays? The clinics are treating people that don't exist or are dead. We don't know the specifics of what their overhaul will look like. The state auditor, the state senator that was on your air last night calling for an independent audit, I think he's on to something, because these agencies have been the overseers and have done a terrible job.
COOPER: The last three nights, I just -- every night I think it can't get any worse or more incredible, but your reporting has been great.
Thank you so much, Drew Griffin, and just "Keeping Them Honest."
We will continue to follow this. Quick reminder, you can make a difference. If you have a tip for Drew on this or any story, you can let him know by going to CNN.com/investigate.
And let us know what you think right now. Follow me on Twitter at Anderson Cooper. I have been tweeting about it tonight.
Coming up next tonight, NSA leaker Edward Snowden's dad and a lawmaker battling to curb the National Security Agency on new revelations of how easily the NSA can access your online data, classified software that makes it as simple as point and click basically.
And later tonight, O.J. Simpson learns if he's getting parole, but there's also a very big catch. We will explain why in this case parole does not mean freedom. We will be right back.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) COOPER: Welcome back.
New claims tonight how much even low-level government employees and contractors can find out about you with just a few computer keystrokes.
They're the latest revelations from NSA leaker Edward Snowden. And whether it's top intelligence officials in Washington or the director of the National Security Agency at a programmers convention in Las Vegas, people are feeling the heat.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm saying I don't trust you. You lied to Congress. Why would we believe you're not lying to us right now?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: He said he hasn't lied to Congress.
Meantime, as the Senate Judiciary Committee held hearings, the office of the director of intelligence released a batch of classified documents on its domestic intelligence gathering operations, material that was not scheduled for declassification until the year 2038. They included a 2011 Justice Department briefing paper describing two now familiar NSA programs for logging phone and e-mail data.
It says -- quote -- "Only a tiny fraction of such records are ever viewed by NSA intelligence analysts." But the new information from Edward Snowden shows accessing such information is available to a very wide range of NSA analysts and is simple and easy to get.
Detailed extensively in Britain's "Guardian" newspaper, the program is called XKeyscore, and NSA analysts requires no prior authorization from any court for using it to conduct searches on Americans. They only have to fill in a box stating there is some kind of foreign connection. In audition, the article details how XKeyscore searches not just e-mail subject lines and addresses, but also the body of the message itself, also social media activity and Web browsing history.
The NSA maintains that access to XKeyscore and other search tools is limited.
Count Michigan Republican Congressman Justin Amash a skeptic. He tried and nearly succeeded last week in passing legislation to rein in the NSA and is now backing a bipartisan effort to try again.
Congressman, this program revealed in "The Guardian" today, XKeyscore, how concerned should people be about it?
REP. JUSTIN AMASH (R), MICHIGAN: Very concerned.
We are going to have a classified breaching tomorrow with Keith Alexander and I intend to ask some questions. One of the things that we don't know is, where is the content coming from? There is a whole array of content coming in, whether it be e-mails or other Internet information and I would like to know and my colleagues would like to know where this data is coming from.
COOPER: Did you know about this beforehand? Because what the people in the intelligence community always says is, look, there is congressional oversight, but my understanding is there is only congressional oversight what the NSA happens to tell you about.
AMASH: Yes, we have these briefings and is it possible in some document somewhere when they hand you 200 pages and tell you, you can only look at it in a room that there's some line about this program? It's possible. I don't know.
The problem we have when we go to these briefings is we have to ask exactly the right question to get the right answer. If we don't ask the precise question, we don't get an answer.
COOPER: Well, even when the director of national intelligence, James Clapper, testified before -- you know, testified on Capitol Hill recently, he was asked point blank by Ron Wyden, whether or not they collect data on American citizens, and Clapper said no, not wittingly and then he sort of later on said, well, the definition of collecting is different than the common definition.
Did he lie, in your opinion?
AMASH: Yes, he did lie. He lied to Congress. He lied to the American people. I have called for him to step down, and I think he should face the same consequences any American would face who came to Congress and gave false testimony or did so in a court proceeding and any ordinary American might be facing prison time for that. So we have to be treating government officials the same way we treat anyone else.
COOPER: We have had a number of intelligence officials over the last couple months or weeks certainly saying, well, you know, some of these programs, these collecting of metadata, collecting of phone calls or phone numbers, it's stopped dozens of terrorist attacks.
Now Senator Patrick Leahy came forward and said maybe it stopped or was involved in one, but when you actually start to look at the details of how these programs were used, it has not stopped nearly the number that some intelligence officials have been claiming.
AMASH: Yes, and they have been -- there are many of them who have been very careful to say under this program and other programs we have stopped 54 terrorist attacks.
There are some members of Congress who have not been very careful and I think have bordered on giving false testimony to the American people, and we should take a close look at that, but, yes, I think those who are careful and cautious about what they say realize that it's not this particular collection of phone records, mass collection of phone records that is doing the work here.
COOPER: I spoke to Glenn Greenwald on this program last night. He pointed out people within the government, high-level officials leak classified information all the time if it suits their political interests or, you know, whatever interests they may have and nothing seems to happen to them, and yet, people with no status, no political connections like Bradley Manning or Edward Snowden or even lower-level officials, they leak classified information and get hit with the full brunt of the U.S. justice system, particularly under the Obama administration.
I'm certainly not condoning the breaking of any law, but is the system unfair here?
AMASH: I think the system is unfair. We need a better way for those who want to blow the whistle on the government to do so.
There was a lot of talk that Edward Snowden could go to, for example, a member of Congress and tell them about the program, that it wasn't being applied in what he thought was a constitutional manner. That's just not true. Edward Snowden couldn't come to me or most members of Congress and talk about it. He had to go to his superiors and he might be able to talk to some people on the Intelligence Committee.
They don't have a lot of avenues and if you look at some of the Intelligence Committee members, it's pretty staffed in favor of people who support these programs, with the exception of a few people like Senator Wyden and Senator Udall and some others.
COOPER: Congressman Amash, I appreciate your time. Thank you.
AMASH: Thanks so much, Anderson.
COOPER: Let's dig deeper now with Edward Snowden's father, Lon, also Lon Snowden's attorney, constitutional lawyer and former Reagan Justice Department official Bruce Fein.
Good to have you on the program again.
Lon, what is your reaction to this newly published information from "The Guardian" based on intelligence your son gave them, that there is a program that essentially allows the NSA to access anything a typical user does on the Internet?
LON SNOWDEN, FATHER OF EDWARD SNOWDEN: I find it shocking. It's simply a matter of more truth coming forward. I have only been able to scan the new information, but I'm very interested in seeing the two Intelligence Committees now, specifically Mike Rogers, the chairman in the House, and Dianne Feinstein, what they are going to there to say. Is there going to be more misdirection?
We talk about James Clapper but I think the leadership of the two Intelligence Committees at this point is quite suspect. Congressman Amash I believe alluded to it when he talked about how people answer questions. Well, much of how you answer questions is framed by what questions are asked. So I would say that Mike Rogers, Dutch Ruppersberger, Peter King, Dianne Feinstein and some of the (INAUDIBLE) members, to be quite honest, and those leaders who put them there really need to take a hard look at that leadership. I believe it's deficient. In my prior career, when you have problems with oversight and there is a loss of confidence, you change the leadership. I believe it's time for that.
BRUCE FEIN, ATTORNEY FOR LON SNOWDEN: I also would volunteer, it shows that sunshine is the best disinfectant, exactly why Edward Snowden's revelations were so critical to the functioning of democracy.
And one of the things that was very apparent when we attended the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing today conducted by Senator Pat Leahy that everyone was eager to discuss ways to reform and to curtail the programs that Edward Snowden revealed, but it was like his name was taboo. No one could utter Edward Snowden's name because he showed that they had been derelict in not disclosing and conducting the oversight he did single-handedly 29 years old.
COOPER: Lon, I think a lot of people don't realize. You talked about your prior career. You had a career in the Coast Guard, as I understand it. Do you believe when you hear intelligence officials say these programs, some of the programs that your son revealed, that they stopped dozens, more than 50 or were involved with the prevention of more than 50 terrorist attacks, do you believe that?
SNOWDEN: No. I think you have to focus on the language.
I believe anyone in government who is trying to preserve a program or gain support for a program, you will use the strongest possible language, and when we originally heard language from I believe General Alexander giving testimony as he was questioned by the House Intelligence Committee, the language they used was -- quote -- "potential terrorist events" -- end quote.
That gets extrapolated in the media to thwarted 50 terrorist attacks but I would be very interested in seeing the actual number of prosecutions and more details on that. But the bottom line is if you have to say 50 potential events, that's not very strong language. And but certainly again, I believe we need a strong intelligence community and they do good work and also a strong conventional defense.
But it's a matter of priority and I really believe if we pull this thread, we will find there's a bigger issue here. The issue is money and power. There are many corporations who benefit from these programs as well as employees, I should say appointed officials within the intelligence community who bounce back and forth between government and corporate service and it's a cash cow, to be quite frank.
We have other, I believe, issues that politicians are ignoring because there is concern about votes. Again, I will go back to the southern border. Certain politicians do not want to talk about security there. I would love to hear from some of our particularly retired who have no fear of blowback -- retired Border Patrol officials talking about just how secure that southern border is.
FEIN: If I can interject, also, Anderson, one other deficiency in that number is it doesn't state whatever was foiled couldn't have been foiled with measured consistent with the Patriot Act Section 215 and the Fourth Amendment. Just to say we foiled something doesn't mean you had to go to that kind of dragnet surveillance in order to discover what need to be discovered.
In fact, the testimony today was there is only a tiny, tiny fraction of really billions if not trillions of data gathered on Americans that ever is viewed as relevant. And really do you need to gather all that information? They started to ask maybe that's not what we need to do. We need to have a conversation. Of course, none of them said the reason why you're thinking about this is Edward Snowden.
COOPER: I want to ask you, Lon, there are a couple things you said recently I think to "The Washington Post" I just want to try to get some more clarification on.
You said the FBI asked you to travel to Moscow to see your son awhile back. What -- you know, what did they expect you to do or hope you to do, and is that something you would still like to do at some point, go there?
SNOWDEN: I'm glad you asked that. I can't give you a date. It was some time ago and they called and they asked if I would be willing to get on a flight and go to Moscow to see my son. And I was at home, and it was a complete surprise.
I had no attorney at the time. I had done nothing wrong and I was adamant that I would not have an attorney. And I thought about it and I wanted to say yes. And then I asked, are you sure my son is in Moscow? They said, well, no. I said, wait, I'm not going to get on a flight and go to Moscow and sit on the tarmac to be an emotional tool for you to use against him.
I want to first be able to speak to my son. So, can you establish communications? Initially, they told me, well, I'm not sure I can. I thought, I have buddies who could set up communications anyplace on the planet, you know, all of the military services within a very short period of time. So that was the prerequisite. I said if you can set up communications and I can speak to my son and I believe there is value, I would like to go.
The positive thing that came out of that is, after I hung up, I thought maybe I should have legal counsel if I'm going to get on an airplane and possibly go to Moscow. That is what led me through a trusted adviser to Bruce Fein and other attorneys and that was a critical milestone for me, and I'm thankful for that.
We tried to work with the FBI to set up communications. One of our requirements was going to be that attorney-client privilege was respected. I wanted to establish that for my son if he was going to be coming back to U.S. soil, and that's on the advice of Bruce, which was wise counsel that I would not have considered. But from there -- I don't want to get into specifics, but it just went downhill. At this point, I have no desire to get on an aircraft with the FBI to fly to Moscow because I have lost faith in the overarching organization, the Justice Department that again they are operating in good faith.
COOPER: You would actually tell your son -- my understanding from what you said last week on this program, you would actually tell your son it's probably a good idea to stay in Russia, you would say. Is that true?
SNOWDEN: No question.
Again, it's an evolution for me of watching, again, so many congressmen -- again these folks on the intel committees, what I have seen from them and other comments from, again, the attorney general, the secretary of state at this point, absolutely I feel that it's in my son's best interest both for his personal safety and finding justice and which I hope he will be able to return to the United States and answer for this and the truth be told.
In this climate I don't believe that's possible, so, yes, I think Russia is the best place for him. I think that's where he -- Russia, I believe, has the strength and conviction to protect my son at this point.
COOPER: Actually, Bruce, before you jump in, because I know you were about to jump in, but I just want to ask you one other question that I want you both to respond to.
Since last we talked, Bradley Manning was convicted of leaking classified material, though he was acquitted of the most serious charge of aiding the enemy. Still is facing a maximum 136 years in prison.
Lon, let's start with you. Does that give you pause just in terms of what it could mean for your son?
SNOWDEN: Certainly it has implications. But Bradley Manning was really a member of the military, as I was for most of my life. Subject to the uniform code of military justice. Tried in a military court. But certainly I know how he was treated. And ultimately, it's the government at the highest levels that was responsible for that.
So at this point, I'm really concerned about my son's safety. I'm not even thinking about what would happen in terms of the trial. That's why we have attorneys of Bruce and access to many others, and we're just not at that point now. I'm concerned about my son's immediate safety, security and health.
COOPER: Bruce, go ahead.
FEIN: Yes, I think you can distinguish Edward Snowden's case from Bradley Manning's with regard to the substance of what he disclosed. It would be a violation of the First Amendment under my view for the government to punish the disclosure of wrongful government action. We have a right to petition for redress of grievances under the First Amendment.
I did want to volunteer that last evening I did have an opportunity to speak with Anatoly Duchera (ph), which is Edward Snowden's attorney in Russia, and we had a pleasant conversation. And he did reassure me that Edward is in good health, and there may be a time where it would be constructive to try to meet and that -- and see whether there can't be common ground that everyone agrees would advance the interest of the United States, Mr. Snowden, Lon, his father and the interest of Russia in trying to resolve this in a way that honors due process and the highest principles of families and civilization.
COOPER: Bruce Fein, good to have you on.
Lon Snowden, as well, thank you very much.
For more on the story, obviously, go to CNN.com.
Just ahead, breaking news tonight about Ariel Castro's sentencing hearing. What we've learned about who may speak tomorrow in court. It will surprise you.
Also, O.J. Simpson wins parole, but not his freedom. Not yet, anyway. Our legal team, Jeffrey Toobin and Mark Geragos, will explain how that can be, ahead.
COOPER: Breaking news tonight out of Cleveland on the eve of Ariel Castro's sentencing hearing. As you know, he pleaded guilty last week to more than 900 counts in a plea deal that took the death penalty off the table. He's expected to speak tomorrow in court.
CNN's Pam Brown joins with new information about tomorrow's hearing.
So what can we expect tomorrow? What's going to happen?
PAM BROWN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, certainly a dramatic proceeding tomorrow. We're going to see some of the evidence taken from Ariel Castro's home, some pictures, witness testimony.
And we're hearing from sources, Anderson, that one of the three victims will actually be making an impact statement tomorrow. And we're hearing from sources that that will likely be Michelle Knight. Of course, that could change between now and then. She could change her mind. But as of now, we're hearing that Michelle Knight will be making an impact statement either through video or in the courtroom with Ariel Castro sitting there.
This might actually surprise some people because, according to sources and police reports, Michelle Knight experienced the worst abuse over the last ten years. But this could be therapeutic and empowering for her, Anderson, according to psychologists.
And also, she's been showing her gratitude. She wrote a thank- you letter to Cleveland police who have been helping her. They posted this on their Facebook page earlier today. In the letter Michelle Knight says, "You don't know how much I appreciate all your time and work collecting cards and gifts from people for me and the other girls. I am overwhelmed by the amount of thoughts, love and prayers expressed by complete strangers. It is comforting. Life is tough but I'm tougher. Just when the caterpillar thought the world was over, she became the butterfly. Thanks. God bless you, Michelle Knight."
Anderson, we expect to hear the same tone from her, the same showing of gratitude tomorrow if she does end up making that impact statement.
COOPER: And is Ariel Castro actually speaking tomorrow?
BROWN: His attorney is saying yes, and he's saying that he's expected to be apologetic. It really could be the first time we see Ariel Castro being remorseful.
I did speak to someone who is close to Ariel Castro today, and she says that he will be explaining a lot tomorrow. That we could see another side of Ariel Castro that he's not the monster everyone thinks he is. So we'll have to wait and see what he says.
COOPER: Well, that would be quite a statement if he's able to convince anybody of that. Pam Brown, appreciate it. Thanks very much.
Coming up, O.J. Simpson learns whether or not he's been granted parole. There's a twist to that.
And later, health officials say a bagged salad mix has made hundreds of people sick. The question is, why aren't they saying exactly which brand is the culprit? We're going to hear from Dr. Sanjay Gupta coming up.
COOPER: O.J. Simpson is granted parole, but not his freedom. We'll tell you why, ahead.
COOPER: Well, today O.J. Simpson was granted parole in his armed robbery case, but it's not like he's getting out of prison any time soon. Simpson has been behind bars for nearly five years and will have to stay for at least four more years because he's only been granted parole on some charges and is serving consecutive sentences.
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O.J. SIMPSON, GRANTED PAROLE: They told me what was expected of me here, and I gave them my word that I would try to be or would be the best prisoner they've ever had here, and I think for the most part I've kept my word on that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Joining me now is CNN senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin and criminal defense attorney Mark Geragos.
Jeff, you say at least for this case, O.J. Simpson really shouldn't have been convicted on this.
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Well, you know, if there's any justice, O.J. Simpson should be in prison for life for killing Ron Goldman and -- and Nicole Brown.
COOPER: His wife.
TOOBIN: But he got acquitted, for better or worse, and this case is ridiculous. I mean, he -- he's accused of trying to steal his own stuff.
TOOBIN: And someone else had a gun, and he's accused of knowing about the guy having the gun. The guy with the gun is already out of prison. O.J. didn't have a gun. It's just the most ridiculous form of payback, and it's a bogus case.
COOPER: So you have no doubt that payback was involved here?
TOOBIN: Absolutely. I mean, it was involved in the decision to charge him, in the jury's decision to convict him, in the length of the sentence. I mean, it couldn't have happened to a nicer guy as far as I'm concerned. But this is just an unjust situation.
COOPER: Mark, I want to play one more clip from O.J.'s parole hearing last week. Let's listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SIMPSON: I knew both of these guys who had my stuff. I was a little upset with them, and I think I wasn't as civil as I should have been. I brought some guys with me who I didn't really know and one I didn't trust, and that's on me.
For that, I've been here for five years, and all I can do about it since I've been here is be as respectful and as straightforward as I could be with the staff here at Lovelock and do my time as best as I can do it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Mark, do you agree with Jeff that this was basically payback?
MARK GERAGOS, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Yes, this was a prosecution by proxy and -- or prosecutorial payback. The -- this case normally would have been what's called a D.A. reject, which is when the cops take it to a prosecutor. They would have rejected this case and said this is a civil matter.
If you believe him, and I think he made a pretty compelling statement, not in this parole hearing today but in the motion for this habeas motion earlier, that he had consulted with Yale. And Yale, his then lawyer had told him, you know, as long as you didn't use force then that was OK to go do, it really is an outrageous sentence.
I agree also with Jeff's -- shock, oh, shock -- that it couldn't have happened to a nicer guy. But the fact is, is that we have a system, and just because the prosecutors didn't get a conviction in L.A. doesn't mean that the prosecutors in Nevada are supposed to pay him back because it didn't work in Los Angeles.
I mean, when you think about the amount of time he got on this case and the fact that he's actually done five years, and, you know, the news today is doing four more years on this case, I mean, I've had clients who have shot and killed people who have done less time.
TOOBIN: Think about it: Nine years for having a screaming fight in a hotel room over property that might well have been his? I mean, it's just an outrageous, outrageous case.
Again, I have no sympathy for this guy, but if you want to just look at it as the criminal justice system in action, I mean, it's just wrong.
COOPER: And yet, Mark, he's not going to get -- he's not going to get freedom right now because these were consecutive, correct?
GERAGOS: Correct, and it's not going to happen on this proceeding. It very well could happen...
COOPER: He's fighting for a new trial?
GERAGOS: Right. Right, he's fighting for the new trial. It could very well happen on the new trial proceeding. So this is important for him legally because if he wins the new trial, he could arguably say at that point, make a bail application and get released on bail pending the trial.
So this is significant for him. It's a big win for him, although, as Jeff says, it doesn't do much. He's still got -- still facing four in these proceedings.
COOPER: All right. Jeff Toobin, Mark Geragos. Guys, thanks very much.
A research scientist accused of killing his wife with cyanide enters a plea. That's next.
COOPER: Hundreds battling nasty stomach bug and officials won't tell everything they know. I'll ask Dr. Sanjay Gupta why. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
COOPER: Welcome back. You probably heard about the nasty stomach bug that sickened more than 400 people across 15 states. Tonight health officials believe they know the source, bad salad contaminated with a parasite. They figured out what made so many people sick, but it's what they aren't saying that got our attention. Officials aren't naming the specific brand of salad linked to the outbreaks. This is the first thing people obviously want to know so they can avoid getting sick.
Our chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, joins us now. It would seem to me that the name of this contaminated salad is something that consumers would need to know. Why aren't they releasing it?
SANJAY GUPTA, HLN CORRESPONDENT: Walking around the building this day that is what everyone is asking.
COOPER: Literally talking around the building today, that's what everyone's been asking. Exactly.
GUPTA: I think there's a couple things going on here. One is not very simple, and that is that they don't know yet. This is a more complicated sort of investigation than people realize, in part because this is mixed salad. You have salad. You have iceberg, romaine, carrots, and red cabbage. They may have come from different places. They were sold in grocery stores but also in restaurants which means that they could have gotten some of these various components from different places and then combined them. And that's part of the issue, I think, that's going on here.
Also, you have this notion that these illnesses started to happen in mid-June. So whatever it was, it's probably -- that was a perishable item so it's probably off the shelves by now so it may not make a difference to release a brand. You're not going to throw anything away.
COOPER: Do they know how the parasite got into the salad?
GUPTA: They're sort of working with two main theories. First of all, they think it happened before it got into the bag. That's an important thing. They don't think it was a contamination from the bags, for example.
So it's either really the irrigation water, for the vegetables themselves. Or during this prewashing process. These are called prewashed. They wash them once, then they put them in the bag. At one of those two steps.
Now, if it is the irrigation water, that poses a potential concern, because then it becomes -- is it still irrigating and contaminating more vegetables?
COOPER: Right. Can people still get sick or do you think it's off the shelves?
GUPTA: I think that, for this particular episode, this particular outbreak, it is now off the shelves. Again, starting in mid-June, it would, just because of the nature of the food supply, it would be out of the grocery stores and out of people's refrigerators by now. If it's not out of your refrigerator, it probably should be, given it's been over a month and a half.
One thing I will stay, though, is that it can take a long time to get sick after you get this parasite in your body. It can take weeks. So it is possible we might still see some new cases of this. But it's probably still related to the initial outbreak.
COOPER: We've got a digital dashboard question from a viewer on Twitter. They ask, "Could the ability of these parasites to make people ill have been eliminated or minimized if consumers had washed the contents first?"
GUPTA: That's a good question. I think it's hard to wash these parasites completely off the vegetables. Presumably they were prewashed. Now, if that wasn't contaminated water, that should have done the job, but obviously it didn't here completely.
One thing I will say is you can wash these vegetables again, but the biggest concern is cross-contamination from your kitchen. So you literally have to hold them under the faucet, not put them in the sink or anything; hold them under the facet, let the water run over it and then dry the vegetables, as well. Because you can develop a residue as part of the washing process that you almost literally need to clean off. It sounds like a lot of work to do, but that's what is necessary for this parasite.
COOPER: Sanjay, thanks.
GUPTA: You bet. Thank you.
COOPER: Cyclospora, I think is the name of the parasite. I think Dr. Gupta neglected to mention that.
Let's get caught up on some other the stories we're following. Isha joins us with a "360 News & Business Bulletin" -- Isha.
Anderson, a "360 follow." The University of Pittsburgh research professor accused of killing his physician wife with cyanide pleaded not guilty today.
Robert Ferrante was extradited from West Virginia where he was arrested after a nationwide manhunt. Autumn Klein died in April. She was the former head of women's neurology at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.
The USA Department calls it a despicable PR stunt. Syria's President Assad is joining Instagram. The pictures posted show him and his wife meeting officials, visiting Syrians in the hospital, and attending political rallies. There are no pictures of Syria's bloody civil war.
And in Seattle, an extraordinary sight. A seal gave birth at a marina right on the dock. The harbor master said momma and her pup stayed on dry ground for a couple of hours before diving back into the water -- Anderson.
COOPER: Isha, we'll be right back.
COOPER: Ran out of time for the "RidicuList." That does it for us. Thanks for watching. "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts now.