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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES

U.S. May take Unilateral Action Against Syria; U.S. Officials: Syrian Regime Disclosed Making Preps For Chemical Attack; Nearly 9 Million Americans Using Prescription Sleeping Pills; Baffling Unknowns In Hannah Anderson Kidnapping

Aired August 29, 2013 - 20:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Jessica, thanks very much.

Good evening, everyone.

We begin tonight with breaking news. Action tonight by America's key ally, Great Britain, slamming the brakes on any immediate military action against Syria, unless President Obama wants to go at it alone -- which the White House is signaling he might. Parliament in England this evening weighing a resolution that would have OK the use of force -- weighing it and finding it wasn't enough.

Here's the key moment as the measure failed loudly in the House of Commons.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN BERCOW, BRITISH HOUSE OF COMMONS SPEAKER: Order. Order. Order.

Mr. McNeil, you're like an exploded volcano. You've erupted. Calm yourself, man. The ayes to the right, 272. The nos to the left, 285. So the nos have it. The nos have it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Moments after the vote, Prime Minister David Cameron assured members he would not exercise what is known as the royal prerogative to go to war without parliamentary approval.

DAVID CAMERON, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER, CONSERVATIVE PARTY LEADER: I strongly believe in the need for a tough response to the use of chemical weapons, but I also believe in respecting the will of this House of Commons.

It is very clear tonight that while the House has not passed a motion, it is clear to me that the British parliament, reflecting the views of the British people, does not want to see British military action. I get that, and the government will act accordingly.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Voted down the measure, by the way, despite a report from Britain's Joint Intelligence Committee calling it, quote, "highly likely that the Syrian regime used chemical weapons last week outside Damascus."

The U.S. Intelligence Committee is expected to release its own report to the public sometime tomorrow. Now we got a hint tonight of what the administration knows. Senior U.S. officials telling CNN's Elise Labott intelligence reveals senior members of the Assad regime preparing for a massive chemical attack and discussing it afterwards.

Those intercepted conversations included -- or include regime members acknowledging the attack was getting a great deal of attention, discussing the wisdom of lying low for awhile and foregoing such massive chemical attacks in the near future.

Now on the ground meantime U.N. inspectors kept up their work today. Their boss, Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon saying he expects them to leave Syria by Saturday morning.

In New York, members of the U.N. Security Council gathered behind closed doors, the meeting called by Syria's close ally and arms supply to Russia, which is expected to veto any resolution approving the use of force which leaves the White House in a lonely place.

Top administration officials working the phones again today, talking to key lawmakers. A senior official telling CNN's Jim Acosta unilateral action may be necessary. Now just yesterday, the president made the case that curbing Syria's use of chemical weapons is in America's national interest.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, what's happened has been heartbreaking. But when you start talking about chemical weapons in a country that has the largest stockpile of chemical weapons in the world, where over time their control over chemical weapons may erode, where they are allied to known terrorist organizations that in the past have targeted the United States, then there is a prospect, a possibility in which chemical weapons that can have devastating effects could be directed at us. And we want to make sure that that does not happen.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Well, to that end, as we said, senior officials have been reaching out to lawmakers. A short time ago they wrapped up a conference call.

More now from Dana Bash who joins us now.

So this conference call between the White House and members of Congress, what do you know about it?

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I just talked to a lawmaker who was on that call and it lasted for more than an hour, close to an hour and a half, and the gist of the administration's message was what we've heard publicly. That they believe that Assad's regime did use chemical weapons. That was the main message.

They insisted that no decision has been made with regard to military action. There is no timetable on what or when that would be, but I'm also told, even though there were 20 to 25 people of both parties on this call with administration officials, we're talking about the secretaries of State and Defense and others, it wasn't antagonistic.

I'm told it was a good discussion. They listened to everybody's opinions, the opinions as I'm sure as you -- you would suspect were varied, but no one actually said don't do it. And one of the questions that I had is, what the effect of that vote in parliament in Great Britain would have been on members of Congress.

And the answer that Obama officials gave is that the U.S. is going to do what it needs to do, and another country will not dictate what the U.S. does. So no one I'm told from the administration conceded that the U.S. would ultimately have to go without Great Britain, but they made very clear that it's not up to Great Britain what the U.S. decides needs to be done with regard to national security interests.

The other thing I can tell you, though, is that this was a non- secure phone call. Members of Congress, senators were in their districts and states, some of them on cell phones, so they couldn't do this on a secure line. So I'm told that there were some answers that they simply couldn't give because much of this is still classified.

COOPER: And Congress isn't scheduled to come back for another two weeks. Is there any chance they'll come back and early vote on Syria like their British counterparts did? Didn't seem like it.

BASH: Very unlikely. I mean, first of all, look what happened in Great Britain, Anderson. I was told even before that happened that one of the reasons why even Republicans who run the House don't want to call the House back is because they don't want to have that kind of result.

For the most part, even though they are not happy necessarily with the way the president is or isn't making his case publicly they generally support the idea of making sure that Syria doesn't have chemical weapon. Perhaps using some surgical military strikes. So they wouldn't want to put the U.S. in a position of having an authorization vote even just a resolution that went down that would embarrass the president and the United States.

And one more thing I can tell you is that as we're talking I got an e-mail from Senator Bob Corker, who not only was on this call tonight but also had a classified briefing earlier today. He was sort of circumspect before. He said that he now -- seeing what he saw with regard to intelligence -- feels that he would support surgical military strikes against Syria.

COOPER: All right. Dana, thanks for reporting.

Joining us now Fouad Ajami, senior fellow at the Sanford University's Hoover Institution, national security analyst Fran Townsend, who currently sits on the Homeland Security and the CIA External Advisory Boards, and Christopher Dickey, Middle East editor for "Newsweek" and "The Daily Beast," and chief national correspondent John King.

Fouad, we heard the president yesterday saying the national security is at stake when you a country with a huge stockpile of chemical weapons like this. But if this strike isn't designed to change the calculus on the ground, isn't designed to actually strike at those chemical sites, what does it to do protect national security?

FOUAD AJAMI, SR. FELLOW, STANFORD UNIVERSITY'S HOOVER INSTITUTION: Well, Anderson, the president is doing it because he said he would. I mean, this is a very, very reluctant leader. This is not a war leader. He's not eager to go to war. He put his fate in the hands of Bashar al-Assad. That's the dilemma of Barack Obama.

COOPER: You're saying he put his fate by saying a year ago this red line --

AJAMI: Absolutely. Not only that, he made this crisis. He made the world we're in now, Barack Obama. He refused to back the Syrian rebellion, he refused to arm the Syrian rebellion, he overrode four of his top advisors in 2012 who said let's arm the rebellion. A while ago he refused to give weapons again that he promised.

So there were many, many options, all the good options were on the front end. He has very, very tight options now and he will do this very, very unhappily. And in my opinion it will not be convincing. It's not somehow or another he will alter the logic of the situation on the ground with some pinpricks.

I've written a piece, which I sent to you, in "Bloomberg" which basically said, either destroy the regime or hold your fire. If you're not going to destroy the regime, there really isn't that much use for, you know, just simply a short force.

Christopher, What do you think?

CHRISTOPHER DICKEY, MIDDLE EAST EDITOR, NEWSWEEK/THE DAILY BEAST: Destroy the regime? Like we destroyed Saddam Hussein's regime which is something that Fouad advocated? Then get involved on the ground, occupy the country, spend $2.5 billion a week, kill 100,000 people.

COOPER: Not really.

DICKEY: I don't think that's a particularly good idea and I don't think President Obama thinks it's a good idea and I don't think the American people thinks it's a good idea.

COOPER: What about this idea of this limited strike? This shot across the bow?

DICKEY: On the point, I agree with Fouad completely. Either do something that really has an effect on the ground or don't do this. Don't have a limited strike. This idea of punitive limited strikes is something that's been used by the Reagan administration, by George H.W. Bush, by the Clinton administration. They almost never work and they're almost always counterproductive.

You wind up rattling the cage of what's already a caged animal, an angry animal, and you wind up with more terrorism, you wind up with more action on the ground.

I think another point that Fouad made that's very important is that Bashar al-Assad probably feels he's in control of this situation. I don't think we can dismiss the possibility that he carried out this chemical attack not in spite of the American warnings but because of the American warnings knowing that the response was going to be very limited and that by his terms, the American image would be one of inadequacy.

COOPER: It's interesting, you look at that vote in England, and you look at everybody the way everybody is looking at Syria. It's impossible to escape the specter of Iraq. I mean, everybody seems to be looking at this through the lens of Iraq or through the lens of whatever -- I mean, the Russia looks at it through Chechnya.

AJAMI: Well, you're exactly right. I mean, Iraq -- the shadow of Iraq hangs over this but, you know, I think everybody has overused Iraq as the precedent. There are many other precedents. I'll give you one precedent which Barack Obama could opt for and in a way it would see us through a proper conclusion, a good conclusion.

Look at Kosovo in 1999. It was waged by a dove. I mean, Bill Clinton has never been viewed as a warrior. Bill Clinton and Tony Blair went and still go down Milosevic. We bombed Serbia for 78 days. We destroyed the Serbian war machine and we saved the Kosovars without any American losses.

There are many other models. Everybody jumps at the Iraq as the only template. There are other templates. It's the only template. Iraq looms large. It looms large in Barack Obama's mind.

COOPER: Christopher, you don't buy that the Kosovo --

DICKEY: You know, I was on the ground for most of those templates that you're discussing. I was in Belgrade, I was in Pristina during the Kosovo war. And it was a very different kind of situation.

First of all, can you imagine this administration or any administration now mustering support for 78 days of bombing, 38,000 bombings sorties? I don't think so. Also, Syria clearly is not Serbia. Syria is not Kosovo. And all that was following on what had happened in 1995 when you had the Croatians roll against the Serbian army with American backing. We don't have any -- the equivalent of the Croatian army. Maybe if Turkey wants to invade, we could support it.

COOPER: That's unlikely, as well.

DICKEY: But I don't think that's likely. COOPER: John King, what are you hearing about the impact of this vote in England?

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Obviously it's very discouraging. I use the word certainly discouraging to come from a senior U.S. official I was communicating with just a short time ago.

Oddly, though, the impact of this, Anderson, could be, emphasis on could be, to accelerate the timetable. Remember the conversations we've been having in recent days. The Prime Minister Cameron said he would try to help the president here. But he needed the United Nations. Again part of the Iraq hangover or Iraq legacy. He needed a vote in the United Nations.

Now that the Brits are essentially off the table, the prime minister said right now he can't participate, a second U.S. official told me it is possible now because they don't -- the Obama administration has no expectations for anything to happen productively in the United Nations, it is possible the timetable could be accelerated and the one thing to watch for from administration's concern is getting the U.N. weapons inspectors out and they are due to leave Saturday.

COOPER: Fran, so they leave Saturday. Do you think that -- there are some -- I mean, England earlier was talking about waiting for an actual U.N. report. Do you see the U.S. actually waiting for that?

FRANCES FRAGOS TOWNSEND, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CONTRIBUTOR: No.

COOPER: Do you see action as inevitable by the U.S.?

TOWNSEND: I do see action is inevitable. But I will say, I mean, I share the concern, as you know, about this sort of limited one-off strike not having any real strategic effect and we don't understand what the president's strategic objectives are.

I will tell you I think we have to act not just because his credibility is at stake but because of the threat of the use of chemical weapons. All these other countries, the Arab League, Great Britain, many of our allies have condemned the use of chemical weapons, but not done anything about it.

This is a message that's not only being heard by Bashar al-Assad in Syria but in Iran and in other places around the world. And so it really -- there is strategic geopolitical importance to what weight do we put on the use of these chemical weapons against civilian population.

COOPER: But do you -- I mean, Christopher, do buy this national security argument? Because again if it is a national --

DICKEY: I don't -- I can't make the connection. I was listening to the president just now and listening to him yesterday. I don't see how you go from the kind of threat that he's talking about to the United States, to a limited strike having any impact on that. I mean, if it's not targeting the weapons, and probably it's wise not to, then what's it going to do?

COOPER: I get making the argument of this -- a horrible, horrific humanitarian situation we've watched the slaughter of innocents for a long time. Here we have a moral obligation to act. I get making that argument. The national security argument, do you buy it?

TOWNSEND: I buy that we cannot permit the use of chemical weapons. This is about -- what the president was saying on PBS I do agree with. This is about there are things that we should be roundly against and be clear about that they're --

COOPER: But why chemical weapons? I mean, 100,000 people have been slaughtered, children have been tortured for two years, peaceful demonstrators in the beginning were ruthlessly crushed. Why is the line chemical weapons?

I mean, Fouad, does that make sense?

AJAMI: This is -- I mean, this is one -- if you look at this conflict and you say, why did we draw this particular red line? I'll tell you what would have been a more legitimate red line. The red line would be the use of air power against civilian population. Air power. This man has had his own air force, his own air force shell and destroy Aleppo. Shell and destroy Homs. And nothing was said.

You can look at Bashar's logic. Look in the bunker where Bashar lives. He has done -- he has broken every code in the world and no one did anything to him. So chemical weapons, I mean, it's just -- there have been so many breaches of the peace in the case of Bashar al-Assad and I would have drawn my line on the use of air power. That would have been a much more convincing case.

TOWNSEND: Anderson, I think that's right. I mean, this is not where I would -- I would have intervened much sooner in the humanitarian crisis, but I do think that chemical weapons and the use of chemical weapons has got to be a place where the world does not want to see that proliferation.

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: We got to take -- go ahead.

DICKEY: OK. But the specific problem is -- he talks is terrorist getting chemical weapons and nothing we are about to do would prevent that from happening.

TOWNSEND: And that's why I think it eliminates tactical --

COOPER: And also, I mean, there are -- you know, there are al Qaeda linked groups, al Qaeda inspired groups on the other side who if the regime falls then there is concern.

We'll talk about that. We've got to take a quick break.

Later on, what can American forces actually do to Syria. What can Syrian forces do in return. We'll talk to military experts.

Let us know what you think, follow me on Twitter @andersoncooper.

And later a wakeup call on sleeping pills? What you don't know about them is enough to keep anyone up at night. Dr. Sanjay Gupta with some important new information. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Welcome back. Breaking news tonight. A major setback for American efforts to win support for military action against Syria. Britain's House of Commons tonight rejecting a use of force measure and the White House again signaling it might take action unilaterally.

Back with our panel, Fouad Ajami, Fran Townsend, Christopher Dickey and John King.

There is this real concern, Christopher, we were talking about this right before the break, about, say, the regime does fall and you then have some rebel groups, the Al Nusra Front, other al Qaeda inspired groups and what they may do a slaughter that could occur against the Alawites, against Christians who have been supportive of the regime.

DICKEY: Well, look, I mean, first of all, the Al Nusfra Front is intimately tied to the al Qaeda presence in Iraq as well.

COOPER: Right.

DICKEY: And is part of the international al Qaeda presence. I mean --

COOPER: And they're some of the most effective fighters as well on the ground.

DICKEY: Sure. But Bin Laden tried for years, either to cook up his own chemical weapons or to find them someplace else. Now there is the potential for them all to be delivered in -- a number of them to be delivered into the hands of really bad guys who are opposing the regime of Assad.

So it is a real mess. What I don't see -- we don't want to beat this to death, but what I don't see is how anything we're talking about doing limits that possibility and if in fact if we move to bring down Assad you might increase the possibility that al Qaeda would get these kinds of weapons.

COOPER: Fouad, do you buy that?

AJAMI: I don't. I'll tell you why. I think a population that rose under such an incredibly awesome tyranny -- I mean, the tyranny of the Assads, and the terror that that country lived under, the people rose in rebellion against that kind of regime. That they are going to bark at their freedom and give it to some guys from Libya or some guys from Marseilles who came and they only came because the great powers didn't come. I mean, this whole idea about, you know, Nusra Front came to Syria. The Nusra Front came to Syria because nobody else came to Syria because the powers didn't come to Syria.

I have faith in the Syrian people. I have faith in the Free Syrian Army. I have faith in the Syrian center. We have already witnessed that in many towns where the Nusra Front has power, people have risen against them. Syrians have demonstrated against the Nusra Front. So we have to have courage.

If you want to do war, we have to have faith in yourself, you have to have faith in other people. I have faith in the Syrians I know that they don't want to live under the tyranny of al Qaeda or the Nusra Front. And if we don't believe that then we shouldn't even do any of this.

TOWNSEND: Well, and what Fouad is saying is exactly right. I mean, I don't worry nearly as much about al Qaeda as I do about Hezbollah. Hezbollah is a far greater presence there. Far greater allying with both the Quds force --

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: Right. And they're fighting on the side of the regime.

TOWNSEND: That's right. They are pro-regime force entirely bankrolled by the government of Iran, and have enjoyed safe havens in Syria for decades and so the weapons -- chemical weapons falling into their hands is a real risk.

Now when you talk about a limited tactical strike and will it have any effect, what I worry about is the use it or lose it syndrome. So if you're Bashar al-Assad and if you feel only more cornered by even a limited strike, perhaps you launch what chemical weapons you've got against the population because you're afraid that there will be further bombings.

I mean, you have to -- and I'm sure military planners are looking at that possibility but that's a real risk, and so this notion of a limited -- if you're going to go in, you better go in with a full comprehensive strategy. I'm not advocating boots on the ground but there can be an air campaign taking out integrated air defense, taking out the air power that's been used against the Syrian --

COOPER: But, you know, I mean, a lot of people just hearing you talk throughout the United States and poll will show this are just thinking this just sounds like Iraq, the U.S. now yet again, you know, at a time when we're trying to get out of Afghanistan, when we're seeing Iraq already now starting to blow up, literally, you know, every day with car bombs again, although nobody is really paying much attention to it.

John King, I mean, in -- where is the calculus for the White House in this? I mean, are they looking at this in sort of a wider geopolitical conflict? Is that the calculation? And I mean --

(CROSSTALK)

Go ahead.

KING: I think the conversation you're having with very smart people right now underscores the problem of the administration, the challenge for the administration right now. If this happens, and we assume it will, and if it goes well, whatever well, however we define well, we'll forget about it. But at the moment, there's a great deal of confusion. This is one of the most confused messed-up neighborhoods in the world and there is no clarity of what the U.S. position is right now.

And even on this phone call tonight with members of Congress, the frustration after -- yes, it was not a classified call, is that the administration cannot clearly explain what is the goal of the military strikes, what do they want Syria to look like the day after, the week after, and the month after they do this?

And that's the challenge for the administration because of all the complexities you're talking about, and the communications up to this point from the administration have frankly been very confusing. You have State Department people saying one thing, Pentagon people saying another, people at the White House saying something else.

And so, again, that will all be forgotten if it goes well. But if it does not go well, imagine that you're having this conversation. This was the president who made his name in national politics saying he was going to get us out of the Middle East, that he was not going to act unilaterally. That he was going to reestablish U.S. credibility among all these Arab nations.

At the moment, and I think your guest would agree with me, one of the challenges for the president and one of the reasons people think we're past the point of no return is that he believes and he's being told his very credibility is at stake now if he does nothing.

COOPER: You don't -- put much stock into this credibility, are you?

DICKEY: Anderson, Anderson, if making war gives you credibility as a president, then we would have to say George W. Bush has more credibility than just about any president in history. I don't think most Americans feel that way, frankly, because I think that they feel that we got into a very bad war in Iraq that paid very few returns for the American people, and, you know, Fouad says if you want to make war, you have to do this.

But the American people don't want to make war, Fouad. They don't want to do it.

AJAMI: Forgive me, it's part of -- and I think you've said Iraq too many times but nevertheless --

DICKEY: I think we were in Iraq too long.

(CROSSTALK) AJAMI: I think part of the job description of a leader is to explain to a public, a reluctant public -- the public is reluctant about all wars, all wars, but the job description of a leader, we elect a president who will explain to the American public what the stakes for them are in a world where chemical weapons and mass murder in a country on the Mediterranean, land like Syria, that this goes on for three years and we pay it no attention. It's part of the job description to explain to --

(CROSSTALK)

DICKEY: If you don't have a force on the ground --

AJAMI: To explain to reluctant people --

DICKEY: If you don't have a force on the ground that can take over, then what do you accomplish with even a much more significant operation against --

COOPER: Fouad, final thought and we got to go.

AJAMI: I think -- I think we've already talked about this. I think that there were many, many good choices on the front end of this and Barack Obama did not make those choices.

COOPER: Fouad, appreciate you being on. Christopher Dickey, as well. Fran Townsend, John King, thanks for the reporting.

Coming up, Assad's firepower. We'll take a look at what the United States has to consider when it comes to the military capabilities of the Syrian regime. Exactly what do they have on the ground there. I'll talk to Major General Spider Marks and Naval analyst Christopher Harmer coming up next.

And later, when was the last time you actually had a good night's sleep. A new CDC study says almost nine million of us in the United States are taking prescription sleeping pills. I'll talk it over with Dr. Sanjay Gupta ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Breaking news tonight on what the Obama administration knows about the chemical weapons attack that has the United States considering military action in Syria, an attack the regime has blamed on the opposition.

A senior U.S. official tells CNN that intercepted conversations reveal senior members of the Assad regime preparing for a massive chemical attack and discussing it afterwards saying it was getting a lot of attention and would be wise to lie low for a while. Intelligence also showed increased shelling in the area outside Damascus after the attack. Now the question becomes what are the Syrian regime's military capabilities right now and what does the United States have to consider in making the decision about whether to launch a strike. Joining me now is retired Army Major General James "Spider" Marks. He is a CNN military analyst and Christopher Harmer, a senior naval analyst at the Institute for the Study of War. General, let's start with you. We know what the U.S. has in terms of capabilities, five destroyers in the Mediterranean and other assets in the region. What do we know about Assad's capabilities at this point?

MAJOR GENERAL JAMES "SPIDER" MARKS, U.S. ARMY (RETIRED): Assad's military is still very capable. The Syrian army, let's be frank, has a very short track record in terms of military successes. They have not been successful for years in terms of their application of force in the region. Clearly, since the insurgency has been in place they have achieved a good deal of success. We thought Assad was losing momentum and in fact, we thought he was a dead man walking about a year ago.

He has since reinforced his position and he has gained some incredible strength. So Assad has capabilities and a lot of that is very kinetic. He also has Hezbollah on his side, which is part of his force not fully integrated, but fully apart of the fighting force on the ground now. So it's a capable military. It has not been completely degraded. His air force is in place and has a navy. He's got conventional forces and not demonstrated hesitation in terms of using it.

COOPER: General, in terms of chemical weapons, is it true you can't strike the sites because that could detonate the weapons themselves?

MARKS: Without getting into a full explanation, you could strike the sites and you can destroy them, and you can minimize the downwind hazard that would ensue. So there is a way to do that to control it. All the discussions so far have been we intend not to do that, but what the intent is to strike Assad's ability to deliver the chemical ammunitions. In terms of a military imperative, there doesn't seem to be one relative to the issue of chemical weapons.

COOPER: So Chris, we hear a lot of bluster from Russia and Iran, specifically the head of Iran's Revolutionary Guard Council warning of quote, "the imminent destruction of Israel" is a lot of that tough talk from Russian, Iran, is it tough talk or is there a real concern?

CHRISTOPHER HARMER, SENIOR NAVAL ANALYST, INSTITUTE FOR THE STUDY OF WAR: At this point, I would say there is a very real concern, but we have to look at the history how they project force. Overwhelmingly that is through surrogate forces such as Hezbollah. Right now Hezbollah is completely task saturated. On the one hand they have significant forces engage in Syria, on behalf of the Assad regime and on the other hand they are completely busy in Lebanon defending themselves from car bombs from activists reacting to the Hezbollah presence in Syria.

So I just don't think the Hezbollah right now has sufficient bandwidth to engage against either the U.S. or Israel. It is a consideration we need to take into our calculations, but it's not something that should deter us from acting in strategic interests. COOPER: General, there is a lot of talk about this being cruise missile strikes not wanting to have U.S. planes, you know, over the skies of Syria, U.S. pilots at risk, how capable are the anti-aircraft capabilities of the Syrian regime, do we know?

MARKS: They do have an integrated air defense capability, but the launching of cruise missiles will be able to penetrate that not easily, but it will be done and the United States will make an effort to blind and attack those integrated air defense systems as a top priority on that target list that will be in place. I think the bottom line is if we launch cruise missiles, they will strike. They will hit their intended targets. That's only the start of what could be a nasty engagement that we get drawn into in levels and in locations and to a degree that the president indicated he wants to avoid.

COOPER: Chris, to the U.S. capabilities, you were a targeter in charge of strike planning. You were in charge of targeting cruise missiles. What kind of damage can missiles like this do and not do?

HARMER: What's important to keep in mind, Anderson, that when you're talking about Tomahawk cruise missiles, very accurate missile that's effective against a range of targets. It's not effective against specific targets. General Marks previously alluded to the fact that we do have tactics and procedures for attacking chemical weapons in storage. Tomahawk missile is not best for that. It would be for the Syrian air force, control towers, radars, fuel bunkers, runways, anything like that the Tomahawk would be good for.

For a chemical weapons depot, not so much. One item I want to point out regarding the integrated air defense system of Syria, it is somewhat credible but it is old and it's manned by men that do not have the same level of training or spare part support that we would have. The last point I would like to make is the Syrian Air Force cannot defend against multiple attacks from the Israeli air force. If they can successfully attack targets in Syria, my expectations the U.S. Navy and Air Force can, as well.

COOPER: All right, Christopher Harmer, good advice and information. General Marks as well, thanks very much.

Up next, a reality check on sleeping pills, important information you need to know. A new study is out. Dr. Sanjay Gupta joins me ahead.

Also investigators say that Hannah Anderson kidnapping case is cut and dry. The teenager's great aunt isn't so sure. What she told our Drew Griffin ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Well, Americans relying on prescription sleeping pills more than ever. A five-year government study found that nearly 9 million American adults use prescription sleeping pills or sedatives. That's not all. Experts believe there are millions more who use over the counter sleep aids. The study doesn't say if that's good or bad, but it says many of us are using drugs to help us sleep.

Our chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta joins me now. Sanjay, 9 million Americans using sleeping pills, I was surprised, that's a huge number.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: It is a huge number and more people are turning to sleeping pills than ever before and it's been going on for some time, Anderson. I mean, people are turning to these pills more than they have in years past and often times turning to them very early on. So, you know, as quickly after they develop sleep problems going to the sleeping pills earlier than they had before.

COOPER: And the study found that certain groups of people, women, older individuals, they are taking sleep aids more than others.

GUPTA: It will surprise a lot of people, the most common group of people were actually people in their 80s. So older people, they were typically more likely to be women versus men, and more highly educated so you have highly-educated older women that fit the most common category of using the sleep aid.

COOPER: I thought middle-aged TV anchors would probably be in the highest category, actually. It's interesting --

GUPTA: Some that I know are --

COOPER: Yes, I know, sadly. The same study suggests a lot more people trying non-prescription remedies, does that concern you?

GUPTA: Well, you know, I think there is good options out there for people who don't want to go straight to a prescription medication. The problem is the potency can vary in some of these medications. It can linger into the next day quite a bit. You can have significant daytime sleepiness.

COOPER: Is it the same sleep? Is the sleep you get after taking an Ambien or something, the same as regular sleep?

GUPTA: It doesn't appear to be. It's sort of deep sleep that you get -- the amount of time you spend in the deep sleep may be reduced in response to some sleep aids. You may still wake up thinking, wow, I just slept a very good night and I think it can be very helpful for people having trouble sleeping. But overall, you may not have gotten the same amount of deep sleep and may have drowsiness and may need to -- people will take the sleeping pills over and over again. Really, they are not designed to be taken more for than -- you know, several, maybe a few weeks at most in a row. After that it may not offer as much benefit, maybe even harm.

COOPER: It doesn't come without risk. We talk about Ambien or I take it after a glass of wine. You see on no uncertain terms that's a big mistake.

GUPTA: I was pretty hard on you, wasn't I?

COOPER: I still do it.

GUPTA: You still do it?

COOPER: Every now and then.

GUPTA: Only because I care, Anderson. The way these drugs work is depress your central nervous system, slow it down. By itself it can be effective as a sleep aid. Once you layer other things, in this case alcohol or something else, you get an exponential effect here. When you go to sleep, eventually, your drive to breathe may be impaired and can cause real problems. By the way, people on Ambien, you can have complex disorders. You hear about sleep driving for example, people sleep text. You sleep text. You sent me some crazy texts --

COOPER: No, I didn't.

GUPTA: I imagine you were on Ambien at the time.

COOPER: That's not true.

GUPTA: It can have strange effects and that's part of the reason the FDA and others are looking into it.

COOPER: I'll lay off the wine and the Ambien. Sanjay, thanks very much.

GUPTA: You got it.

COOPER: Just ahead tonight, why would Hanna Anderson's kidnapper, James DiMaggio, destroy a family he was once so close to? Hannah's great aunt is speaking out about what Hannah's mother told her days before she was murdered.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: A 360 follow up, nearly three weeks after Hannah Anderson was rescued from the Idaho wilderness, there is no clear answer why James DiMaggio, a long time family friend, did what investigators say he did. The tragedy spun out half a dozen theories, one of the most stunning came from DiMaggio's sister, Lora, who told Piers Morgan, it's possible her brother was a victim. Here is what she said about Hannah Anderson.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LORA DIMAGGIO, SISTER OF JAMES DIMAGGIO: I remember very vividly telling my brother she's -- she's trouble. She's going to -- she's -- I said you need to watch out for that one. She's trouble.

PIERS MORGAN, HOST, CNN'S "PIERS MORGAN LIVE": If as you believe she was trouble, then it may well be that your brother became infatuated with her, with this young woman --

DIMAGGIO: I know that, you know, Jim did express at that time that she stated she was, you know, very upset with her mother. She blamed her mother for her father moving to Tennessee. In my heart of hearts, I think that Hannah perhaps got herself into a situation that she couldn't get herself out of, and I do believe that my brother gave his life to protect her.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Gave his life to protect her. A lot of people obviously found those remarks incredibly offensive. Hannah Anderson is a 16- year-old girl that lost her mother and brother. We don't know what she endured before the rescue. CNN's Drew Griffin has the latest.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DREW GRIFFIN, CNN INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Hannah Anderson arrived at the memorial service for her mother and brother seemingly in an upbeat mood. Family members say it's a facade. They tell CNN she is confused not sure how to act in the face of terrible tragedy. But according to even those in her own family, there are many unanswered questions, why did a long-time family friend named Jim DiMaggio kill Hannah Anderson's mother Christina and Hannah's 8-year-old brother Ethan.

What led DiMaggio, as authorities believe, to leave behind timers that would set his California dessert cabin ablaze with the two murder victims inside and a question just as mysterious and far more delicate for members of Hannah Anderson's own family, why did DiMaggio allow Hannah to survive and in fact, kidnap her on a 1,000 mile journey to Idaho?

DAVID BRAUN, CHRISTINA ANDERSON'S UNCLE: There are some thinking along that line that maybe this man was terribly infatuated or more with Hannah, and it looks like it was very premeditated in my view.

GRIFFIN: In fact, there is more evidence DiMaggio may have been infatuated with a 16-year-old girl who grew up calling him Uncle Jim. Hanna Anderson's friend Marissa Chavez recalled a car ride with Uncle Jim and an awkward admission.

MARISSA CHAVEZ, FRIEND OF HANNAH ANDERSON: He said don't think I'm weird or creepy Uncle Jim, I just want you to know that if you were my age, I would date you.

HANNAH ANDERSON, KIDNAPPING SURVIVOR: In the beginning, I was a victim, but now knowing everyone out there is helping me, I consider myself a survivor, instead.

GRIFFIN: Hannah Anderson's brief comments on the NBC "Today Show" confirmed what little police have said. Hannah Anderson is a victim.

SHERIFF BILL GORE, SAN DIEGO COUNTY, CALIFORNIA: I want to emphasize that during the law enforcement interviews with Hannah, it became very clear to us, very clear, that she is a victim in every sense of the word in this horrific crime. From the time of her abduction, to her recovery in Idaho by the FBI's hostage rescue team, she was under extreme, extreme duress. GRIFFIN: Two weeks after making that statement, nothing has changed here at the sheriff's department. Their investigation has found Hannah Anderson was nothing more than a victim in this case, pure and simple. Jim DiMaggio was the perpetrator and he is dead. The case closed. It is cut and dry.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: For them it's cut and dry --

GRIFFIN: Jennifer Willis is the late Christina Anderson's aunt born three years apart, more like sisters.

JENNIFER WILLIS, CHRISTINA ANDERSON'S AUNT: I just get a feeling it's not as cut and dry as it seems. I get this feeling I don't know how he could have done something like that to his friends. I don't feel at ease about it at all. It's not cut and dry.

GRIFFIN: For years, Jim DiMaggio was the family friend. The cabin DiMaggio owned an hour outside of San Diego was the Anderson family get away, but Willis says in the past year family dynamics changed. Christina and Brett Anderson, Hannah's parents had separated. Brett Anderson moved to Tennessee. Then according to Jennifer Willis, DiMaggio began to face financial troubles that eventually led to foreclosure on the cabin they all loved. Jennifer talked to Christina just days before her murder.

WILLIS: She came to me and said he's having a hard time. He's losing his house. She's short on money. He doesn't know what to do. He's depressed and went there to be by his side one last time. That's the kind of person she was. Dropped everything and went there for him.

GRIFFIN: That's apparently when DiMaggio snapped. Christina and Ethan's bodies, or what was left of them, were found in this burned down cabin. Court document showed Ethan's body so badly charred an autopsy couldn't determine the exact cause of death. Christina Anderson has been hit in the head, wrap in a tarp and left to burn leaving a host of unanswered questions including why.

WILLIS: Beside the fact for him, he's sick, he's a monster. He did what he did, why did it have to happen to them?

GRIFFIN (on camera): Why did it have to happen to Tina and Ethan and not to Hannah?

WILLIS: Right.

GRIFFIN: I mean, I hate to ask these questions almost because we're dealing with a teenager, but was there any relationship between her and Jim DiMaggio?

WILLIS: None that I'm aware of, none that anyone was aware of. I would never have imagined anything like that with her.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): Amidst all the turmoil, Hannah Anderson's family is trying to determine what happens next. The teenager is dealing with the loss of her mother and brother, and the sudden return of her biological father, a man who returned from Tennessee hiring a publicist for his book and movie deals and telling Hannah's extended family his daughter will live with him. Through that same publicist Brett Anderson turned down CNN's request for an interview.

WILLIS: Hannah is back, safe and OK and from there I think it should be left alone.

GRIFFIN: Relatives say Hannah will return to high school here in the next few days and try to live, quote, "as normal life as possible."

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Drew, there are a lot of unanswered questions, especially about the families on both sides. The sheriff's office basically stopped talking, right?

GRIFFIN: That's right. They really have not released anything in the past week. The only thing that is left to learn here, Anderson, is the toxicology report on Jim DiMaggio. Is there anything in his system that could explain why he did what he did? Those results should be back within a couple weeks and maybe, maybe released -- Anderson.

COOPER: For the connection between DiMaggio and Hannah Anderson as well as any motive, police are still investigating, correct?

GRIFFIN: They are and what is taking place is they are wrapping up reports. That doesn't mean those reports will be released. I talked to the Sheriff's Department today, they believe the case is wrapped up. Jim DiMaggio killed two people, kidnapped a third, died in a police confrontation. That's the end of the story according to police. California law does not require investigative reports, which is being put together now to be released and they most likely won't be.

As far as Hannah Anderson is concerned, I talked to the sheriff this past Sunday night, most of that conversation was off the record but he did say this, this girl is a minor. Her privacy is protected, and it will be protected by his office even if that means not sharing information with members of Jim DiMaggio's family or even Hannah's family -- Anderson.

COOPER: Drew Griffin, appreciate it. Thanks. We wish her the best certainly. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: We ran out of time for "The Ridiculist." That does it for us. We'll be back in an hour from now, another edition of 360. "PIERS MORGAN LIVE" starts now.