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AC 360 LATER

Nightmare Cruise Cover-Up?; Antibacterial Soap Harmful?; NSA Spying Ruled Unconstitutional; Court Rules in Favor of Polygamist Family; Feds Target Two Towns Run by Imprisoned Polygamist Leader

Aired December 16, 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: Good evening, everyone.

Tonight: what a court ruling against the NSA's massive intelligence collection program means to your policy and to possibly to leaker Edward Snowden's freedom.

Also, remember this, that ocean liner stranded at sea, power failing, toilets overflowing? Our exclusive investigation tonight reveals what the cruise line Carnival knew about major problems that turned one of their fun ships into a floating sewer.

And, later, two big medical stories. Dr. Sanjay Gupta is here to talk about the FDA's new demand to manufacturers prove that all that antibacterial soap you're using, prove that it actually works.

Also new questions tonight whether your multivitamins do you any good at all and whether you should continue to take them. About half of all Americans currently do.

We begin tonight with the court ruling that deals a body blow to the NSA mass surveillance program, once a top-secret program until Edward Snowden revealed it, a program that can collect phone records on each and every call that Americans make.

D.C. District Court Judge Richard Leon ruling the program likely violates Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable search and seizure. He writes -- quote -- "I cannot imagine a more indiscriminate and arbitrary invasion than this systematic and high- tech collection and retention of personal data on virtually every citizen for purposes of querying and analyzing it without prior judicial approval."

Judge Leon, a George W. Bush appointee, judicial appointee called the program -- quote -- "almost Orwellian" and says that founding father James Madison would be aghast at the scope of it.

All the same, he did hold off shutting the program down, giving the government six months for make a case for continuing it. The Justice Department had little reaction beyond saying they are studying the opinion and believe the program is in fact constitutional.

There is this from leaker Edward Snowden today, a statement -- quote -- "I acted on my belief that the NSA's mass surveillance programs would not withstand a constitutional challenge and that the American public deserved a chance to see these issues determined by open courts. Today," he goes on, "a secret program authorized by a secret court was when exposed to the light of day found to violate Americans' rights. It is the first of many."

As for Snowden, he's still in a world of trouble. He's still got a trunk load full of classified material he has yet to release. And in a report airing last night on "60 Minutes"', CBS News' John Miller asked the head of the task force investigating the leaks whether he would consider cutting a deal with Snowden to get it back.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN MILLER, CBS NEWS: He has said already, if I got amnesty, I would come back.

Given the potential damage to national security, what would your thought on making a deal be?

RICK LEDGETT, NATIONAL SECURITY AGENCY: So, my personal view, yes, it's worth having a conversation about. I would need assurances that the remainder of the data could be secured. And my bar for those assurances would be very high. It would be more than just an assertion on his part.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Well, the head of the NSA of course disagrees, says he wants Snowden prosecuted.

Investigative journalist Glenn Greenwald broke the story, has published all the big leaks so far. I spoke with him tonight, along with senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Jeff, a federal judge said that the NSA program almost certainly violates the Constitution. Does that vindicate what Edward Snowden did?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Well, I don't think so.

But one of the things people like me have been saying from the very beginning is what Snowden exposed has not been shown to be illegal. Today, a judge said it was illegal. So there's no question that today is a big victory for Glenn Greenwald and Snowden and all of their supporters.

COOPER: But, in your opinion, why doesn't it then justify what he did?

TOOBIN: Because he still took classified information and disclosed it in a completely illegal way that is requiring tens, if not hundreds of millions of dollars of work by the American government to redo, plus potentially exposed it to the Chinese and the Russians. So I don't support what Snowden did at all. I don't think this vindicates him, but it certainly comes a lot closer to vindicating him than any previous development has.

COOPER: Glenn, should this vindicate Edward Snowden in the eyes of those who still believe he's a traitor?

GLENN GREENWALD, "THE GUARDIAN": How could it not vindicate him?

Let's just use common sense for a minute. Here is an American citizen working inside of the government who discovers that the United States government is doing things without the knowledge of the American people that is so illegal, so against the core constitutional guarantees of the Constitution that a George Bush-appointed judge today said that it's not even a close call.

He said James Madison would be aghast if he knew that the U.S. government would be collecting extremely invasive data on every single American without any remote suspicion, let alone probable cause.

And I think it's not only the right, but the duty of an American citizen in Edward Snowden's situation to come forward at great risk to himself and inform his fellow citizens about what it is their government is doing in the dark that is illegal.

COOPER: Jeff, you still say it's wrong.

What should she have done? What should an American citizen do if they see something they believe is unconstitutional and they're inside the system?

TOOBIN: He can go to an inspector general. He can go to Congress. He can work through the established channels that every person who has access to classified information has.

It is simply not a tenable way to run a government if every -- of the hundreds of thousands of people who have security clearances suddenly decide that they don't like something and that they can then disclose it. Yes, it is true that one judge has vindicated Snowden's interpretation of the law.

This is far from the last word on this subject, and this is not the way the system is supposed to work.

COOPER: Glenn,can the system work this way if all government employees start just deciding to reveal things?

GREENWALD: All government employees don't.

We had this debate 50 years ago when Daniel Ellsberg did exactly what Mr. Snowden did. And Daniel Ellsberg has become Mr. Snowden's biggest supporter. And what Daniel Ellsberg has said is that when you find out about certain wrongdoing so egregious, then it's your duty, your ethical and moral duty as a citizen to tell your fellow citizens.

There is unfortunately no channel of a kind that Jeff is describing for someone in Mr. Snowden's position to come forward.

COOPER: Jeff, the oversight that you talk about, when you actually kind of bear down and look at it, the people in Congress who allegedly have oversight over the NSA and intelligence community, they really only know what they're informed about by the intelligence agencies.

It's not as if they have people inside the intelligence agencies monitoring what's going on.

TOOBIN: That's true, and all the more reason if there is someone who calls himself a whistle-blower, they should go to people like Ron Wyden, the senator from Oregon who has been so outspoken about this, they should go to the people who are trying to get the story out through legal means.

Giving the documents to Glenn Greenwald is not an orderly or fair or ultimately responsible way to run a government. It is simply untenable to have a system where Mr. Snowden, even if one court has said he's right, can force the government to spend hundreds of millions of dollars, can jeopardize individuals who are working on those systems. It's just not a way to run a government.

COOPER: Hey, Glenn, let me ask you.

(CROSSTALK)

GREENWALD: Anderson...

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: Go ahead. Go ahead. You can respond.

GREENWALD: I just want to say one thing. If you look at the stories, for example, over the last decade that are the most widely regarded in journalism, what it involves is people in the government discovering illegal behavior on the part of political officials done in secret, coming to journalists, who then report on it responsibly.

That's how we learned about the CIA black site that Dana Priest and "The Washington Post" exposed or the warrantless wiretapping program that "The New York Times" was able to talk about because someone in the Justice Department came to them or lots of different stories that Jeff's own magazine "The New Yorker" has published through Jane Mayer and Seymour Hersh, where people inside the government come to them and say, I have discovered these secret instances of wrongdoing. I trust you as a journalist to report it responsibly.

That is why we have a free press. That's very much part of the fabric of American democracy.

COOPER: Jeff, I'm assuming you take issue with the idea of the huge -- just the volume of information that Edward Snowden gave up.

TOOBIN: Yes. The difference between those situations is, you have investigative journalists seeking out individual facts and individual subjects, vs. disclosure of entire government programs, all the underlying documents, which jeopardize the investigation of terrorism, a word that has not yet come up in our conversation.

But it is worth mentioning that the reason for all this is not because the NSA is some inherently evil organization. There are real threats to the United States out there.

COOPER: Well, Glenn, let me ask you, an NSA official said that it would be a conversation worth having, the idea of perhaps giving amnesty to Edward Snowden. Other NSA officials -- in fact, the head of the NSA is clearly completely against that.

But one of the kind of conditions Rick Ledgett that it was worth about having this discussion about was about guarantees that other documents wouldn't be released. Is that something that Edward Snowden could even guarantee, given that you have possession and others have possession of these documents?

GREENWALD: If you go back and read an op-ed that Daniel Ellsberg wrote in "The Washington Post," what he essentially said three months ago was that Edward Snowden was right to flee the country because whistle-blowers don't get a free trial.

And what Edward Snowden has always said from the start is, if I could guaranteed fair treatment, that I would not be persecuted for the stories that I brought to light, I would love to return to the United States as part of an agreement with the Justice Department.

But in general, the U.S. government tends to be vindictive in these cases when it comes to people who have exposed their wrongdoing. U.S. political officials in the United States who break the Constitution or violate the Constitution, they get promotions. The people who expose it, like Mr. Snowden, get indictments.

And that's the real injustice that needs to be resolved before he can return.

COOPER: Glenn Greenwald, Jeff Toobin as well, thank you.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: You can follow me on Twitter @AndersonCooper. Let's talk about it. Tweet us using #AC360.

Coming up next, you might not want to book a cruise until you see our exclusive investigation, not just into went wrong about that Carnival Triumph last winter, but also what the cruise line knew about a fire hazard in ships across the Carnival fleet.

Also later tonight, a community pours out its heart for the 17- year-old who was badly wounded at that high school outside Denver.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) COOPER: Well, tonight, with millions of Americans planning a winter getaway at sea, a 360 exclusive investigation into what became known -- excuse me the language -- as the poop cruise.

More than 3,000 passengers stuck aboard the Carnival Triumph last February, drifting for days after a fire knocked out power -- you probably remember it -- no air-conditioning, no lights, not much food or water and no flushing toilets.

Well, now CNN has learned that the ship's crew set sail with only four of six generators operational, knowing that the company had an ongoing generator fire hazard, not just on that ship, but on ships across the fleet.

Investigative correspondent Drew Griffin tonight is "Keeping Them Honest."

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BETTINA RODRIGUEZ, PASSENGER: This is supposed to be the fun ship. And we were basically having to fend for ourselves.

DREW GRIFFIN, CNN INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Bettina Rodriguez and her daughter Isabel had planned this cruise for a half-a-year. They would sail on the Carnival Triumph and celebrate Isabel's birthday. It was the trip of a lifetime, until they awoke to a fire alarm, smoke in their hallway, then days and days of misery. Human waste was actually piling up just outside their door.

RODRIGUEZ: Just on our deck alone, there were the biohazard bags lined up across the floor. We're talking about raw sewage at just the end of our deck alone.

GRIFFIN (on camera): Really?

RODRIGUEZ: It was -- it was just repulsive?

GRIFFIN (voice-over): It was, according to Rodriguez, a nightmare, now made worse because of these. The cruise line's own reports, inspections and maintenance records detail the problem that had been developing on board the Carnival Triumph more than a year before Rodriguez and her daughter were on board.

Houston attorney Frank Spagnoletti obtained the documents in his lawsuit against Carnival.

FRANK SPAGNOLETTI, ATTORNEY: That ship never should have set sail in February. It was unseaworthy at the commencement of the voyage. These documents tell you that the company -- and I'm saying to you the corporation back in Miami -- had knowledge of the fact that this vessel had a propensity for fires, that there were things that could have been, should have been and weren't done in order to make sure that fires didn't take place.

GRIFFIN: The first trouble with Triumph, diesel generator number six, the one that ended up catching fire. Starting more than a year before the infamous cruise, diesel generator number six was overdue for maintenance, out of compliance with the safety laws of the sea known as SOLAS, according to the ship's own engineer.

Over and over again, Carnival's own maintenance reports say the same thing, diesel generator number six overdue for maintenance. And during that same time period, Carnival learned about another even more alarming safety problem in the engine room, fuel lines, a dangerous pattern of leaks that emerge on other Carnival cruise ships.

In fact, Carnival Costa Allegra caught fire because fuel leaked on to a hot spot and ignited. It would be the ultimate foreshadowing. Consider this. Carnival's own investigation shows the fire on board the Costa Allegra is believed to be caused by a fuel leak on one of the diesel generators, eerily similar to what would start the fire on board the Triumph one year later.

Carnival says it proactively began investigating, and found a big problem in a different type of fuel line. There had been nine -- that's right, nine incidents resulting in fuel leaks associated with flexible fuel lines in just two years. And on January 2, Carnival issues a compliance order, giving ships two months to address the problem, to insure a suitable spray shield is installed for all diesel engines using the flexible fuel lines.

Mark Jackson is Carnival's chief engineer.

MARK JACKSON, CARNIVAL CHIEF ENGINEER: After that internal study, the company came out with a new policy to, again, shield all of the flanges and the hoses that were below the deck plates.

GRIFFIN (on camera): But you didn't shield the hose that wound up causing this tragedy.

JACKSON: That hose was beneath the deck plates, and it was believed that the deck plates would act as that shield. In this case, it found that gap in the hose -- gap in the bilge plates and caused the fire.

SPAGNOLETTI: They began to start to try to put guards on these hoses because they were having problems with these hoses as a result of vibrations in these engines. And they knew that that was the problem, that they had the propensity for these hoses to break and cause spray on the hot spots on the engines.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): On February 7, with a diesel generator still in need of overhaul and fuel line shields on some, but not all of its flexible hoses, Triumph set sail from Galveston, Texas.

JACKSON: We were totally in compliance with all the rules and regulations. We had our regulating bodies on board the vessel less than two weeks prior that had certified the ship safe to sail. Obviously, you learn things on a situation, on incidents such as the Triumph.

GRIFFIN: Three days later, off the coast of Mexico, fire breaks out in diesel generator number six when fuel sprays from a flexible fuel line, a line that was less than six months old.

Passenger Joe Cayton now believe Carnival Triumph's crew set sail knowing the potential for fire was there.

JOE CAYTON, PASSENGER: My wife and I were on the ship together. We would have never gone on the ship if we would have known. It's just like getting on an appreciate knowing that one of the two engines doesn't work. We would have never got on the ship in that situation if they would have let us know that.

GRIFFIN: While the company insists that what happened on Carnival Triumph was just an accident, the company has dedicated $300 million in a fleet-wide safety upgrade, specifically focusing on detecting and preventing any potential fire hazards in its engine rooms. They also point to the passengers suing to read the fine print on their ticket, which says the cruise line never promised a safe trip.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: So, Drew obviously is joining us now.

So, you say that Carnival, at least for this lawsuit, is actually telling passengers we didn't promise you a safe trip?

GRIFFIN: Yes.

Anderson, what Carnival is saying, number one, this was an accident, not negligence on its part. But, secondly, yes, these passengers have no right to sue because Carnival's attorneys say when you buy your ticket, the ticket contract makes absolutely no guarantee for safe passage, a seaworthy vessel, adequate and wholesome food, and sanitary and safe living conditions.

Carnival, because of that, is trying to get the suit tossed. These passengers obviously want to challenge that in court. If they get their chance, it will be in February, when it's scheduled for trial.

COOPER: You certainly sure don't see that disclaimer on the commercial.

So, Carnival is saying they did nothing wrong, that its ship was seaworthy, but it also says it's going for major changes to make sure it never happens again.

GRIFFIN: Yes, major, like $300 million invested in Carnival ships alone, and much of that, Anderson, in fact almost all of it, dealing with making sure spraying fuel doesn't start a fire and disable the ship, all changes made after the Carnival Triumph's now infamous poop cruise, where spraying fuel caused a fire and disabled the ship -- Anderson.

COOPER: All right, Drew, appreciate the reporting. Thanks.

As always, you can find more on this story at CNN.com. Coming up next tonight, what the students who know and love her want you to know about their friend, Claire, who was so badly wounded in the country's latest school shooting.

And, later, she was once one of these women, what a former member of Utah FLDS sect, a woman forced into marriage, has to say about a judge's ruling that overturns key parts of the state's anti-polygamy law.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Late word tonight on the school shooting that leaves a young woman, Claire Davis, in a coma with a bullet wound to the head.

A lot of people are pulling for her. Our thoughts certainly and our primary focus are on her, not the young man who shot her. But there is news about him as well tonight, the local coroner ruling his death a suicide, his parents releasing a brief statement. We're not mentioning his name, obviously, because we don't believe in giving gunman the publicity.

"As parents," they write, "we loved our son dearly, and we're devastated by what happened Friday. We cannot begin to understand why he did what he did."

They also say they're praying for Claire Davis' full recovery.

As Ana Cabrera discovered, they're not the only ones.

She joins us now -- Ana.

ANA CABRERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good evening, Anderson.

Certainly, a lot of people are rallying around Claire Davis tonight, who remains in a coma, in critical condition. But she is stable, according to hospital officials. You can see where the community has come out to set up this -- this growing tribute to Claire.

And they have left beautiful messages. They have in fact written the words "Pray for Claire" using these white styrofoam cups here on the side of Arapahoe High School. They have left flowers and lit candles, hoping all this positive energy they're sending her way will give Claire strength.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CABRERA (voice-over): Seventeen-year-old Claire Davis, an innocent victim of an unthinkable crime, this Arapahoe High School warrior now facing the ultimate fight.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have faith. She's a fighter.

CABRERA: Three days after the shooting, Davis remains hospitalized with severe head trauma. A tribute outside the school is growing for the girl that friends describe as a great athlete and student who loves horses.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Claire was just that person that you could always go to for help. She always had a bright smile on her face and was always there for anyone.

CABRERA: Now Davis is the one in need. Her family is asking for privacy and prayers.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And we love her to death and we're all praying for her.

CABRERA: The community is responding, hundreds of students from high schools all across the area gathering for this vigil over the weekend.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For Claire.

CABRERA: Lifting candles to the sky, shining light during a very dark time.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: For Claire!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For Claire!

CABRERA: People on social media also are writing about her, total strangers flooding Facebook with well-wishes and encouragement, and on Twitter, a campaign to get One Direction, Davis' favorite band, to come visit, with hashtag #get1DtoClaire.

(on camera): Do you think Claire is feeling that love right now?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Most definitely. She knows we're all watching over her right now.

CABRERA (voice-over): Support is abundant, but so is the helpless feeling of wanting to do more for Davis, shot at point-blank range, all because she happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

(on camera): What are your prayers for Claire?

PARKER SEMIN, ALUMNUS: I just pray that she would see light of day again and then, best case scenario, she gets to walk with all of her friends and classmates in May.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: What is the latest on her condition, Ana?

CABRERA: Again, stable, but critical.

I spoke with a trauma expert today, Anderson, who tells me, without knowing the specifics of Claire's injury, a gunshot wound to the head is never good. And in best-case scenario, she has a very, very, very long road of rehabilitation ahead of her. I did also learn that the fact that she's now stable some 72 hours after the shooting, we're told that is a good sign in terms of survival, but, of course, quality of life is still another issue -- Anderson.

COOPER: And do we know anything more about the motive here? Did Claire know this shooter? Was this just random that he shot her?

CABRERA: So it seems.

We do know the motive, according to the sheriff, was revenge against a librarian, also the school's speech and debate coach. It just so happened Claire was sitting next to the entrance when the shooter walked into the school, and the sheriff telling us she was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time -- Anderson.

COOPER: Ana Cabrera, appreciate the update. Thanks.

(NEWS BREAK)

COOPER: Just ahead: A federal judge finds key parts of Utah's anti-polygamy law unconstitutional. FLDS leader Warren Jeffs once called Utah home. Now he's in prison for having sex with underage girls. I'm going to will speak with a former FLDS member who was forced into marriage about this latest ruling.

And, later, the FDA says that antibacterial soap may not do what you think it's doing, and could actually carry some health risks. We will try to sort out that, also the new news about multivitamins, three new studies saying they really aren't taking at all. We will talk to Dr. Sanjay Gupta about it all.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: In a 91-page decision, a federal judge in Utah struck down part of the state's law banning polygamy. It's a victory for the stars of the reality television show "Sister Wives" on TLC. Kody Brown and his four wives have 17 children between them. They're members of the Apostolic United Brethren Church, which is a fundamentalist offshoot of the Mormon Church.

The family filed a lawsuit, arguing that Utah's ban on cohabitation violated their rights to privacy and religious freedom. The judge in the case agreed, ruling that key parts of Utah's polygamy ban are unconstitutional. Bigamy will remain illegal under the ruling.

You'll remember Utah was once home to Warren Jeffs, leader of the FLDS, another polygamist sect that broke off from the Mormon Church. He was convicted in Texas of having sex with underaged girls. He's serving a life sentence.

Rebecca Musser, author of "The Witness Wore Red," was a witness for the prosecution of Jeffs. She was raised in the FLDS sect and forced into a polygamist marriage when she was just 19. She later escaped from the FLDS. Rebecca joins me now. Rebecca, what's your reaction to the court ruling?

REBECCA MUSSER, AUTHOR, "THE WITNESS WORE RED": I'm disappointed in the fact that people want to call this a First Amendment issue, but they are not talking about the real questions that need to be asked. And I think that it's an oversimplification of some very complex issues that open the door for a tremendous amount of abuse.

COOPER: So when you say "other issues," to you what are the key issues here?

MUSSER: Well, the key issue here, they are trying to say this is a religious freedom issue. But really, this comes down to the issue of consent for what kind of grooming happens in order to make these young girls think that his is OK, that this is something that they have to do in order to live in a way that they can gain their eternal salvation.

This is a behavior issue. A lot of people are saying, well, in the name of religious freedom, do we have the right to do these kinds of things? And it really comes down to, in the name of God, in the name of religion, are people allowed to violate the human rights of another human being? And I don't think any one of us really would agree with that.

COOPER: You know, obviously, the viewers don't realize, the suit was brought by the family on the TLC show, "Sister Wives," and the lawyer for the Brown family's arguing that this was a case about private relationships between consenting adults. You -- you said this is not a free choice at all here?

MUSSER: Well, they're saying this is a freedom of religion situation. But even on the "Sister Wives" show, they are very careful to keep their religion out of that. And the reason is because they don't want to reveal -- if they have that conversation, it would reveal the amount of grooming that happens from birth for these young girls to go into a situation that this is normal, this is right.

And pretty soon, you know, even for Kody Brown, at what point does he -- is he 85 years old, and he's looking at a 19-year-old girl saying, you know, "God might tell me to marry her, and that's my right." And it's something that she would need to do in order to gain her salvation. There's a tremendous amount of coercion, of grooming and absolute control that goes on. And they want to use the name of religious freedom to deflect conversation from what the real issues are here.

COOPER: It's interesting you use that term "grooming." So you're saying that young women who are brought up in these families are told from a very young age that, in order to attain salvation, in order to get to heaven, this is the kind of relationship you need to be in?

MUSSER: Well, they are definitely told that in the FLDS and the AUB, which is the same group that the "Sister Wives" are a part of, they were the same group up until the 1950s, and they broke away because of a power struggle, not because of the atrocities going on within the group.

And the girls are taught from birth that this is not only their right. It's something that they have to do in order to be more blessed of God. And it is part of their grooming process. And people need to look at what needs to happen in order for polygamy to be perpetuated. This is a systematic grooming of women and children to keep them uneducated. They don't talk to them about co-dependency. They don't talk to them about their personal rights. They are talking to them about what equality is. Because this system of life in polygamy is inherently unequal.

COOPER: So what do you want to see -- what do you want to see happen? What do you want the state of Utah to do?

MUSSER: I would like to see the state of Utah peel back the layers. Don't stop at saying whether or not this is a question of consent. We have to look at what has to be in place in order for that consent to be valid.

Do they have the perspective to be able to give the educated choice? And if polygamy is going to be decriminalized in Utah, they need to make sure that they are somehow educating these young girls about their human rights, about what is equality? What is co- dependency? Give them the education to make sure that they are not going into a system blindly.

I thought I was choosing. But really, everything I consented to was what I was told to consent to. And I just think that Utah needs to take a lot deeper look at this than they have in the past.

COOPER: Rebecca, it's a great discussion to have. I appreciate you being with us. Thank you.

MUSSER: Thank you.

COOPER: Well, we've been following, obviously, the story of Warren Jeffs for years, since he was a fugitive on the FBI's Most Wanted list. We've covered his trials, his convictions and his enduring influence on the small towns of Colorado City, Arizona, and Hilldale, Utah.

The loyalty of many of his followers remains unshaken. But not everybody is standing by Warren Jeffs. Tonight, Gary Tuchman has an exclusive look inside a massive estate that is a measure of how devoted some are to him and how far others have fallen from his flock.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is the 18- acre estate built for FLDS prophet Warren Jeffs and his scores of wives. If and when he ever got out of prison.

(on camera): So this is what would be Warren Jeffs' bedroom.

WILLIE JESSOP, FORMER FLDS MEMBER; This was Warren's room. And he has an attaching room here, and he had all this decorated and put together to the same level and the same construction that he raped the little girls in Texas, now serving the Texas sentence for.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): But the home built by followers who would do most anything for him no longer belongs to Jeffs. It's owned by this man, Willie Jessop, who used to be Warren Jeffs' bodyguard and a spokesman for the church. He's received it in a legal settlement after his home and business were robbed, allegedly by church followers.

And now he's helping the U.S. Justice Department in a lawsuit against the neighboring towns where Jeffs' church is headquartered, Colorado City, Arizona; and Hilldale, Utah.

JESSOP: There's never been a separation of church and state here. And I think it would be very disingenuous for anyone to ever allege that there's been a separation.

TUCHMAN: Jessop is giving information to the feds as they investigate charges that politicians and police in the towns intimidate and harass anyone who isn't a member of Jeffs' polygamist church. That they take orders only from Warren Jeffs.

(on camera): Even while he's in jail he's giving commands how to run this city?

JESSOP: Constantly.

TUCHMAN: And now CNN has obtained two letters written last summer by a former mayor of Colorado City, which could prove critical to the Justice Department's case.

The letters, sent by Mayor George Allred, which are now in custody of the Justice Department, were sent to Jeffs in his Texas prison cell. They are marked private. In one passage, the mayor, who has claimed along with other city leaders in the past that Warren Jeffs doesn't govern this town, asked Jeffs, "We have much litigation going on with people trying to take down the city. I would like to get the more sure word on the Lord on how far he wants us to go in all this arguing."

Another paragraph in the letter references the local police, known as the marshal's office. They, too, are all followers of Warren Jeffs and have been accused of punishing non-church members. Mayor Allred writes to Jeffs, "Jonathan R. has retired as police chief and Heleman B. is standing in as acting chief. If the Lord has someone he would like to have in that position, it would be very helpful to get his sure word on who he desires to occupy that position."

Sam Brower is a private investigator. He's been on the FLDS trail for years.

SAM BROWER, PRIVATE INVESTIGATOR: The two letters basically cinch the Department of Justice's case. They lock in the assertions in their lawsuit.

TUCHMAN (on camera): Have the mayors of these cities -- Hilldale, Utah; Colorado City, Arizona -- always been approved by the prophet?

JESSOP: They have. But if they ever fail the approval of the prophet, he immediately excommunicates them. That's why you have a whole stack of resignations on city hall.

TUCHMAN: Indeed, Mayor Allred resigned from office a few months ago after getting kicked out the church for some type of perceived unfaithfulness. It's commonly known in this community that many of the excommunicated seek repentance from afar, hoping to be allowed back in. And it's believed George Allred is doing just that.

(voice-over): Today's mayor of Colorado City is a man with the same last name, Joseph Allred, which is a common surname here.

(on camera): Hi, this is Gary Tuchman from CNN. Can I speak with the mayor please?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He is not here right now.

TUCHMAN: Every time I come here he's not here. Can you tell me when he will be here? Hello?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hello?

TUCHMAN: Mayor?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No. The mayor is not here right now.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): We then tried his house.

(on camera): Mayor Allred.

(voice-over): No answer there. We fared no better with the police.

(on camera): Can I just ask you something really quick, deputy?

(voice-over): This time or the many times we tried to get answers from them.

(on camera): Can I ask you a question, Officer? Can I ask you a question?

(voice-over): The attorney who represents Hilldale, Utah, tells CNN, as far as he's concerned, the letters have not been authenticated and the Justice Department's allegations are unfounded.

(on camera): Mr. Jeffs, should your followers still consider you a prophet?

JEFFS: Warren Jeff's followers remain, for the most part, fierely loyal. But there is increasing tension and confusion here.

(on camera): Do you still have faith in Warren Jeffs?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't know what's happening. (END VIDEOTAPE)

TUCHMAN: The longer Warren Jeffs remains in prison, the more bewildered MANY OF his followers get. There are members of the church who have left. Others are trying to leave. But thousands of them remain as dedicated as ever to their prophet and they couldn't care less about the justice department investigation -- Anderson.

COOPER: Fascinating. Gary, thanks very much.

Still ahead, new research suggesting that multivitamins which half of all Americans take may not actually do anything to help you stay healthy. Dr. Sanjay Gupta is going to join us for that.

Also, if $1 billion is on your Christmas list you may be in luck. We'll explain next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: We'll tell you how you can still have an igloo, even if you live in Southern California. "The RidicuList" is coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Tonight concerns and questions about two types of products that millions of Americans use every day to gain an edge in the battle to stay healthy. The FDA is proposing a new rule that will require companies that make antibacterial soaps and washes prove they work and are safe. The agency says there's no evidence right now that these products work any better than plain old soap and water. And on top of that, some of their ingredients might actually be harmful.

Also tonight, new questions about multivitamins and whether they have a benefit at all.

Chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta joins me now. All right. Let's start with the soap. There's no evidence they work better than regular soap and water, and they actually may be harmful?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, and first I should say I feel like I've been vindicated a little bit.

COOPER: I've heard you say this before.

GUPTA: We talk about this all the time. But you know, it's interesting. With regard to these anti-bacterial soaps, you're absolutely right. The FDA is basically saying prove it. They're saying, "Look, we're not saying for sure that they're not -- they don't have some benefit, but there really isn't enough evidence to say that they have any additional benefit over soap and water, and the potential harm is that they could cause something known as antibiotic resistance, you know, where you give too much of the antibiotics, try to kill too many of the bacteria, and the bad bacteria start to emerge. That's their concern. So what they're saying to the manufacturers is prove it. The manufacturers, for their part, they say, look, "We've been sending evidence in for the last several years. We think the case is made."

But the FDA is saying, "Not so fast here."

COOPER: So would you recommend people not buy antibacterial soap? And if so, what should they do to keep their hands clean? I think I know the answer, but -- but go ahead. I want to hear you say it again.

GUPTA: With regard to buying it, you know, I mean, again, these are -- this is a pretty significant statement. They're not saying the jury is completely decided on this. They're saying the case has not been made that anti-bacterial soap is any better, Anderson, than washing your hands with soap and water and singing "Happy Birthday" twice.

COOPER: Which I do now.

GUPTA: You do now, yes. And that's why you've been so healthy lately, I should point out, as well.

The other thing is you know, in hospitals and other places, I think even some places in CNN, they have the alcohol-based sanitizer.

COOPER: Right. Hand sanitizers. What about those?

GUPTA: Yes. So those are actually -- this was not part of this new -- this new comment by the FDA. Those still seem to have pretty good evidence. They should have greater than 60 percent alcohol content in them to be effective. Then they're pretty good at actually killing those bacteria.

COOPER: All right. Let's talk about the multivitamins. Because an editorial released today by "The Annals of Internal Medicine" says that the case is closed that, quote, "supplementing the diet of well- nourished adults with most mineral or vitamin supplements has no clear benefit and might even be harmful." So no benefit from taking multivitamins?

GUPTA: Yes. Look, this was a very strongly-worded editorial coming out of "The Annals of Internal Medicine." It's based on three very large studies. You know, one of the studies had over 450,000 participants. So this was a big study. And it's what's known as placebo controlled. They gave some people the multivitamin. They gave some people basically a sugar pill. And they compared them. They looked at rate of having significant heart disease or a second heart attack, rate of having cognitive memory problems.

And they found these multivitamins did not provide any benefit. In fact, the language here. Let me just read it to you real quick, because the editorial was so strongly worded. They said, "Most supplements do not prevent chronic disease or death. Their use is not justified, and they should be avoided." Pretty -- pretty strong language there, Anderson, from this particular editorial. COOPER: So is this different than somebody who is taking, you know, a specific vitamin because their doctor says, "Well, you're deficient in this vitamin?" That's different.

GUPTA: That is different, and they did leave an exception specifically for Vitamin D. And a lot of people pay attention to this, because a lot of people watching have probably gone to their doctor recently and been told their Vitamin D levels are low.

There is still some evidence that taking a Vitamin D supplement could be beneficial. But not for people who are otherwise well- nourished, have -- don't have Vitamin deficiencies. They just don't seem to benefit from a multivitamin.

COOPER: Interesting. All right, Sanjay. Good advice. Thank you very much. Fascinating stuff.

And it's amazing, because half of Americans take multivitamins. Let's get some of the latest on the other stories we're following. Susan Hendricks has another "360 Bulletin."

HENDRICKS: Anderson, the House Ethics Committee is investigating Florida Congressman Trey Radel over drug charges. Last month, Radel pleaded guilty to misdemeanor cocaine possession and announced he was taking a leave of absence and going to a drug treatment facility.

A former Army captain was sentenced to 28 years in prison for running a telemarketing charity scam that sold millions of dollars in donations for Navy veterans. Authorities say the charity raised about $100 million from 2000 to 2010 with little going to actually help vets.

And the Mega Millions jackpot is up to $586 million and could get bigger before tomorrow night's drawing. And if no one hits the jackpot by next week, it could reach $1 billion by Christmas.

COOPER: That's crazy.

HENDRICKS: Amazing.

COOPER: Wow, that is crazy. All right. Susan, we'll see you. Thanks very much.

"The RidicuList" is coming up next. We'll be right back.

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COOPER: Time now for "The RidicuList." And there's more snow in the forecast for parts of the Midwest and northeast tomorrow, after six to 16 inches fell over the weekend, which is great for some pre- Christmas sledding, and snowman building and the like in those parts of the country.

But even in Southern California, some people find creative ways to get their snow on. Take one couple in the city of Corona, where incidentally, the high was 84 degrees today. That is where Phil and Mary Leatherman built an igloo made out of gallon milk jugs. Lots of them.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MARY LEATHERMAN, CREATED IGLOO FROM MILK JUGS: We had our friends and family drink milk and save the bottles. And 1,700 bottles later we have an igloo.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: So now you know, it takes 1,700 gallons of milk to build a life-sized igloo. Look, I don't often get the opportunity to say this, but those are fine looking jugs.

Contrary to popular belief, constructing a -- what? Constructing a milk jug igloo isn't all fun and games. It takes some engineering skill, as well.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LEATHERMAN: It starts off the first row was 75 bottles. And we filled them with water to give it stability.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: I'm sorry. Stability is very important. Otherwise, your homemade igloo is prone to collapsing, and then you're up to your neck in jugs, and nobody wants that.

But now I'm curious. How long does it take to build?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LEATHERMAN: Total of 16 hours without building the arch, which we still have to do.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Probably about 150 more bottles and then we get the flocking machine out and flock the whole thing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: You have to allow ample time to flock the whole thing with your flocking machine. I've never actually heard of that contraption before, but apparently, a flocking machine is how one blahs fake snow onto various surfaces. Let's see a demonstration of a top-of-the-line flocking machine. Shall we?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're going to show you the versatility of the Snow Force machine anywhere from the light jobs to the heavy flock jobs.

Now let's turn this machine up. And really pull the plug on the cord here. Turn the water up. Full air, and full materials.

(END VIDEO CLIP) COOPER: That's the Snow Force flock machine from Purcell Manufacturing. Tell them Anderson sent you.

Anyway, the milk jug igloo is the centerpiece of the Leathermans' annual holiday party and toy drive. And before you know it, they'll be flocking around the Christmas tree and proving that, even if you live in Southern California, where there's a will, there's a way to build an igloo and have gallons of Christmas fun.

That's it for us. Thanks for watching. "THE 11TH HOUR" hosted by Don Lemon starts now.