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Family in Mourning after Las Vegas Shooting; Children in Limbo; Political Earthquake in Virginia; Influx of Immigration from Central America in Arizona; Iraqi Government Asking U.S. for Airstrikes to Defeat al Qaeda; Controversial Rescue of Bowe Bergdahl; Texas Senate Initiative for Gay People Therapy Program

Aired June 11, 2014 - 20:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening. Tonight a view inside this Wal-Mart where the Las Vegas shooting rampage ended and a hero fell. There are new details about what happened on this tape. Different from what we thought we knew.

And later this is staggering, hundreds of unaccompanied children, kids entirely on their own coming into Texas across the border with Mexico. Now every month or every week, but every single day, huge numbers of children. It's like nothing they've ever seen before. And you'll see it for yourself. Tonight our Gary Tuchman is on the border.

We begin, though, in Las Vegas where that husband and wife pair of anti-government killers thought they were starting a revolution. What they did was kill two police officers and one civilian before barricading themselves inside a local Wal-Mart. Their end was captured by store security cameras. The video made public just today.

Kyung Lah reports.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're looking at the killer, looks like they're shooting at each other.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They're looking like -- looks like they're shooting at each other.

KYUNG LAH, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In the chaotic final moments in the shootout between the killers and the police, officers thought the wife, seen here, raising and pointing her handgun at her husband, fired the shot that killed him, seen here at the top. But forensic and autopsy results show police had by now already fired what would be the fatal bullet. Both are wounded and bleeding.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's knocked down.

LAH: We're stopping the video as the wife turns the gun on herself.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Female just shot herself in the head. ASST. SHERIFF KEVIN MCMAHILL, LAS VEGAS: The reason that you're not

seeing the video prior to this or subsequent to this is because it is very graphic.

LAH: Investigators release this video saying it gives a window into the brutality of the killers. Minutes earlier they had murdered Joseph Wilcox who had tried to stop the Millers with his concealed handgun inside a Wal-Mart. At a nearby pizza shop, the couple had ambushed Las Vegas officers, Igor Soldo and Alyn Beck. On their bodies placing a swastika and draping them with a flag used by anti- government groups.

The grief, palpable among officers pausing on bended knee at the growing memorial outside the pizza shop. Many neighbors knew the fallen men. Some were ticketed. Some like Angela Austin, just saw the officers' walking the neighborhood constantly.

ANGELA AUSTIN, NEIGHBOR: When I first found this out, I was really upset. You know? And I feel my deepest sympathy goes out to their families.

LAH: Officer Alyn Beck, age 41, leaves behind a wife and three young children. Officer Igor Soldo, age 31, a new baby and a wife.


COOPER: So horrible.

Kyung joins us now from Las Vegas.

I understand he's learning tonight that police actually went to couple's apartment just four months ago.

LAH: You're right. What they did was something that was sparked by a phone call by the male suspect to Indiana DMV. Indiana is his home state. He called saying allegedly that he would shoot anyone who tried to take his license from him, a license that was suspended. So that raised a red flag here in Las Vegas. Highly trained officers from the Counterterrorism Division of the Las Vegas Police Department went to see him, three of them. And they say that in that contact, he appeared normal and that he was not an eminent threat -- Anderson.

COOPER: Kyung, thanks very much, appreciate the update.

Joseph Wilcox, as Kyung mentioned, was at the Wal-Mart. He was there with a long-time friend. They heard the killers come in. They saw people fleeing. Mr. Wilcox had a chance to do the same. He could have escaped, but he chose to stay and confront the danger. He had a concealed weapon, police say.

I recently talked about that decision and the kind of man Joseph Wilcox was with his mother Debra Wilcox and his sister CJ Foster.


COOPER: Debbie, I'm so sorry for your loss and I appreciate you taking the time to be here. Tell me about your son. What was he like?

DEBRA WILCOX, MOTHER OF SHOOTING VICTIM JOSEPH WILCOX: He was your average, normal kid. I can call him a kid, I keep forgetting he was a 31-year-old grown man. He liked going to the movies with his sister CJ. He loves to go four-wheeling with his sister CJ Foster. He loved helping people, which is what got him into this. He helped his grandparents all the time. Just a good kid.

COOPER: CJ, what do you want people to know about your brother?

CJ POSTER, SISTER OF SHOOTING VICTIM JOSEPH WILCOX: He was a protector. I mean, he was one of the people I trusted most. I spent most of my life around him really. We used to go to the movies and we geek out all the time over Marvel movies and he used to show me trailers of movies coming out and I'd start freaking out. And he would say, CJ, would you quit that or get out of my room or something.

He was just a great guy. I loved his sense of humor. I loved going on late-night drives with him. You know, he was a good guy.

COOPER: And I know -- I mean, as you know, he's being hailed a hero for trying to stop the shooters. Was that the type of guy? Someone who would go out of his way to help others?

WILCOX: Yes, yes, I was telling someone else earlier today, he went to the store one night to pick up a soda or something, I don't know, and he walked out and some -- I don't know if they were homeless, I don't know who it was, but someone asked if he had any money. Now I think he had only $12 or $14 in his account, went back in the store, bought something else, got a $10, came out and handed it to the guy.

When he got home and it was late because his hours of sleeping and being awake were messed up, walked in, and asked -- went and got a soda, by the way, there was a homeless guy, so I gave him some money. How much? $10. Joseph, you only had $14 in your account. Mom, I don't know what needed. You gave him -- I gave him $10.

And then he just continued on to his room. It didn't matter. He figured he didn't -- that the guy was homeless. He needed something and he had a home. So yes, just didn't matter to him. I just want everybody to know, yes, he was my hero. I wish he was here today and I want to thank everybody out there for everything they are saying and doing for him because he deserves this. Thank you all.

COOPER: A friend who was with him believes that because of what your son did it probably stopped the shooters from maybe going after other people.

WILCOX: I've been told that by several people. I believe that, too. I truly believe if he didn't get their attention, and unfortunately the woman that shot him, their attention would have been on to something else. I've been told that by many people that because of him, he stopped a lot of other people from dying. I'm grateful for that, I am. He did a heroic thing, but I just wish I could bring him back home. COOPER: CJ, if you can't answer, it's absolutely fine. Have the

police told you exactly what happened or have they not really figured it all out?

FOSTER: I think we've gotten a few phone calls from the police, but so far, I just get online and read stuff and I probably shouldn't, but there's several different stories that she just came up behind him and shot him when he wasn't looking. There's just -- I don't know what to believe.

COOPER: Debbie, did you know that your son carried a concealed weapon with him?

WILCOX: Yes. He had the gun for quite awhile. He went and got his CCW. Once he got that -- yes, most of the time he had his gun on him. Most of the time. There was -- it got to the point sometimes he walked out the door he just didn't have it. It used to be he carried it on him all the times. But then he got to a point that, you know, 10 out of 100 times he carried it and the other times he didn't.

This date why he took it, I don't know because he was supposed to be doing is returning a modem, going to get it (INAUDIBLE), he's supposed to get this brother, coming back and going swimming.

COOPER: It's an extraordinary thing that he did. And -- I mean, he just sounds like somebody who'd reached out to other people throughout his life.

And Debbie and CJ, I'm just -- I'm so sorry for your loss. But I do appreciate you telling me about him.

WILCOX: Thank you.

COOPER: I wish you both peace in the days ahead.

FOSTER: Thank you.

WILCOX: I'm wishing that, too. I just don't know where I'm going to find it.

COOPER: Yes. Well, there's a lot of people thinking about you and praying for you and thinking about him as well. So Debbie and CJ, thank you so much.

FOSTER: Thank you.

WILCOX: Thank you.

COOPER: A family in mourning.

A family just outside Portland, Oregon, has the same kind of challenge ahead of them. Coming to terms because, well, closure is such a silly word. It's a word that -- it's a TV word. It doesn't really exist with this kind of death with the random and senseless killing of someone they loved deeply. Emilio Hoffman was just 14 years old, a high school freshman, when a

15-year-old classmate shot and killed him yesterday morning. A close friend tells our local affiliate KGW how special he was. She says he was a soccer star and much more. Warmhearted, honest, smart and funny. Some of the hardest days of my life, she say, and he would make me smile.

Last night at the Seattle Mariners game, and Safeco Field was silent for a moment as the team and the fans paid tribute to Emilio and to Paul Lee who was killed by a gunman at Seattle Pacific University just a few days earlier.

Tonight we honor them both as well.

Back in Portland, people are also recognizing a teacher and coach named Todd Rispler. He was shot and wounded by the gunman but managed to make it to the main office and sound the alarm which saved vital minutes and probably a lot of young lives.

Police who got there quickly say the killer was armed an AR-15 rifle, a handgun, a knife and nine clips with ammunition. He brought the weapons from home. Authorities said they've been secured but he managed to get them anyway. Bottom line, this could have been so much worse if that teacher hadn't done what he did.

A lot more happening tonight. And a quick reminder. Make sure you set your DVR so you can watch 360 whenever you want.

Coming up next, how a political David, David Brat, managed to unseat a GOP goliath, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor. What it says about the direction Republicans are taking and whether the country will agree this November. Politics just got a lot more interesting.

And later the new flood of illegal immigration that may have factored into the race, but it's truly important for another reason. All the unaccompanied children who have been making the journey showing up on the border, crossing over every single day. What becomes of them, the answer so far, well, I'll tell you that ahead.


COOPER: Aftershocks tonight and the political earthquake that toppled House Majority Leader Eric Cantor. And as you know, he was primaried last night, big time, beaten by a college professor, relatively unknown, certainly in the national stage named Dave Brat. A man who said that he himself was surprised at winning, that he couldn't even believe he won until he saw the results.

Mr. Brat today had a bit of a rough introduction to the national stage. He did an interview and when he was asked if he supported an increase in the minimum wage, he said, quote, "I don't have a well- crafted response on that one." And that was the last interview he gave today.

For his part, Leader Eric Cantor who only 24 hours earlier had been the second most powerful Republican in the House thanked his staff and colleagues then announced he's giving up his leadership position.


REP. ERIC CANTOR (R-VA), OUTGOING MAJORITY LEADER: Now while I intend to serve out my term as a member in Congress, effective July 31st I will be stepping down as majority leader. It is with great humility that I do so knowing the tremendous honor it has been to hold this position.


COOPER: Which of course leaves a political vacuum. Along with his defeat. It sends a message that other Republicans and the Tea Party. It could also speak volumes about who prevails in November.

Cover all of this starting with our Dana Bash.


DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Losing in an upset and a landslide against an unknown from your own party must be hard to wrap your mind around when you're House majority leader.

(On camera): Did you kind of look at the mirror before you went to sleep last night and said, how did I let this happen?

CANTOR: No, because I really do believe that we did everything we could and I -- you know, again, I just came up short and the voters elected another candidate.

BASH (voice-over): The question is, how did Eric Cantor come up so short? This rally earlier this month for Cantor's opponent David Brat is part of the answer.

LAURA INGRAHAM, CONSERVATIVE RADIO HOST: Instead of sending five Taliban MVPs over there, he could have just traded one Eric Cantor.

BASH: Conservative radio host Laura Ingraham made defeating Cantor a personal mission and other influential voices from the right joined in activating the grassroots, hitting Cantor for his support for legal status for illegal immigrant children.

GLENN BECK, CONSERVATIVE RADIO HOST: If Eric Cantor gets in and is reelected, we are going to have amnesty. Do you believe that?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't believe it. I know it as a fact.

BASH: Threat an unknown economics professor and first-time politician with a staff of just two helped his own cause the old fashioned way -- retail politics.

DAVID BRAT (R), VIRGINIA CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: Eric Cantor is trying to buy this election with corporate cash from Los Angeles and New York. He's acting as a conservative in public while working behind the scenes to deliver open borders for large corporations. BASH: In fact Cantor did have massive amounts of campaign cash, $5

million compared to Brat's $200,000. But money doesn't always buy enthusiasm, especially the way Cantor spent his money. $168,000 at high-end steak houses. Almost Brat's entire war chest. And there were signs of trouble brewing for Cantor.

CANTOR: When I sit here and I listen to Mr. Brat speak, I hear the inaccuracies. My family is here.


CANTOR: Listen. We are about a country of free speech so decency is also important.

BASH: This was Cantor just one month ago, heckled at a grassroots activists at a local party convention. Cantor and his team did take notice more aggressively going after Brat with TV ads.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Brat is running for Congress as a Republican.

BASH: In hindsight many GOP sources tell CNN that backfired, elevating Brat and firing up his supporters. In fact, Brat may have been helped most by Cantor himself, who as House majority leader was seen more on a national stage than in his Virginia district. Even on Election Day, where was Cantor? Not in his district campaigning, he was in the capital lunching with Congressman Rodney Davis.

(On camera): Were you surprised that he was having lunch here at the capital on primary day in his district?

REP. RODNEY DAVIS (R), IDAHO: I was not surprised that Eric Cantor was here working with us. Working to make sure he was doing the job we elected him to do as majority leader and that's the same old Cantor that sacrificed so much for everyone else and unfortunately he sacrificed -- he sacrificed time at home.


COOPER: And Dana joins us now from Capitol Hill.

So you asked Mr. Cantor that very question today whether he spent too much time in the capital and not enough at home. What did he say?

BASH: He said that he went home to his suburban Richmond district every week and that he felt that he did tend to his constituents back home. But maybe a part of the problem that people might not realize is that only 12 percent of the electorate voted in this Republican primary. And clearly those people, the majority, that majority, didn't want Eric Cantor back.

COOPER: Yes. No doubt about that. Dana, thanks very much.

It bears repeating what happened last night simply has no precedence. What it does have a whole lot implication beyond the question of who succeeds him in the leadership. Let's talk about it all with Newt Gingrich, former House speaker and former presidential candidate, and current co-host of CNN's "CROSSFIRE."

Also CNN political commentator and GOP strategist Ana Navarro. Right now she's a fellow at Harvard University's Institute of Politics. And chief national correspondent John King.

So, Mr. Speaker, we've now heard from Congress Cantor. He says he didn't ignore his district. He says he was balanced between representing his constituent and being in the leadership and that he always put his district first. You know that balance well. What do you make of that explanation?

NEWT GINGRICH, CO-HOST, CNN'S CROSSFIRE: Well, look, the guy is in shock. His pollster told him he was going to win by 34 points. He goes into election night totally confident. He outspent his opponent 25 to 1. His campaign spent almost as much money on steak houses as his opponent's entire campaign, and boom, he loses by a decisive margin. I mean, I think anything he says today he did do the right thing stepping down as majority leader, but then he says you're looking at a person who's in a state of shock.

And, you know, you can't blame him. He'd like to believe everything he said. Clearly the people of Richmond thought they did not have his attention and clearly they sent a signal that they wanted somebody who would be more aggressive and who would fight more than they thought he was fighting.

COOPER: John King, as you looked at the numbers, I mean, does that -- is there more clarity at this point? I mean, you know, Cantor -- did he pay enough attention to his district? Was it big television ads backfiring that elevated an unknown opponent? I mean, what was it?

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, there are people who think that his TV ads did elevate the name identification of his opponent. Number one. Number two, Anderson, if he had turned out as many votes as he had turned out two years ago at his primary, he would be the winner. Maybe in a close election. But he would have been the winner.

His people saw -- no motivation to turn out and the people who didn't want him in office they did see motivation to turn out. To his point that he thought he was very connected to his district, even if he was going home a lot, he clearly wasn't listening because he was perceived by voters back home and his challenger was encouraged by some talk radio voices. They said Eric Cantor is spending too much time with lobbyists, too much time thinking about being speaker and having even higher ambition and too much time protecting Wall Street and not worrying about the district.

If he were going home, he must not have been listening because if he was listening and he was a good politician, he would have picked that up sooner.

COOPER: Ana, how much stock do you put in the argument that Cantor's openness to immigration reform is what lost him the race?

ANA NAVARRO, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, you know, I think immigration did play a role, but it's not the way that the media, most of the media, is reading it. I don't think it's his openness to immigration. Because I will tell you that people who are on the immigration advocacy side of that issue are also frustrated with him and have thought him to be an obstacle and not to be a great leader on the issue.

So you are really mishandling an issue, Anderson, when you manage to irritate and get both sides mad at you. And that's what's happened with Eric Cantor and immigration. If you take a look at what Lindsey Graham did in South Carolina, Lindsey Graham was the author, one of the co-authors, a gang of eight member in the Senate, yet he went to South Carolina, he explained it to his constituency. He sold it. He explained why he was backing it. He never ran from his record. He ran on his record.

You cannot say the same thing about Eric Cantor. So I do think immigration played a role, but not because he was open to it, but because people didn't understand where he stood or why he stood where he didn't stand.

COOPER: You know, Mr. Speaker, I think Ana raised an interesting point. You mentioned it last night, did -- whatever your position you have to be able to go back to your district and explain it to people there.

GINGRICH: Yes, and you can't just go home and lecture them. You actually have to go to home and have a genuine conversation. I do think that the results of the last week were, for example, over the weekend 700 children crossed the American border, everything the president has said about controlling the border is totally not true. And I do think for a lot of people who are conservative, this is a big issue of watching the American border be totally porous and watching thousands and thousands of people continue to pour into the U.S.

I wouldn't underestimate how big a deal border security is and how much harder that makes for those of us who do believe you've got to eventually have immigration reform to even start the conversation.

COOPER: And, I mean, is this a sign the Republican Party, though, is moving rightward? I mean, if Eric Cantor is not conservative enough for the Republican Party and at least in his state?

NAVARRO: I don't think it was an issue about whether he was conservative enough or not. I really think this came down to Eric Cantor. It wasn't the Tea Party that toppled Eric Cantor. It wasn't immigration that toppled Eric Cantor. It was Eric Cantor being out of touch with his district. He may have thought he had the correct balance of being in his district, but if his constituents and voters don't feel that way, then he's got a real big problem on his hands.

COOPER: John King, what does this mean for Republicans for -- at least in the next couple of weeks?

KING: Yes, Eric Cantor lost more than Mr. Brat won this race. But the result is you will get a Republican leadership that moves more to the right or moves more to being opposition conservatives as opposed to governing conservatives. We don't know who the majority leader would be. They scheduled the election relatively quickly. That's the establishment trying to help. The card number three, Kevin McCarthy of California, but the Tea Party forces are saying they don't want anybody in the existing leadership to get that important majority leader job.

And the speaker knows how this thing plays out. It gets unpredictable. You have about a dozen people looking at it, three or four will probably win in the end, and this will change America. This is -- you only have 60,000 votes in one district but this will change America for the next several months and potentially for a generation because some new face is likely to emerge in the Republican Party.

And the next generation, the next speaker of the House could emerge from this election and the message at the moment is whether they're over reading it or not, the message at the moment is, don't be nice to President Obama. Don't be nice to Wall Street. Don't do anything big in Washington right now. Perhaps that's an overread, but that's what Republicans think today is the message of Mr. Cantor's defeat.

COOPER: Ana Navarro, thanks very much. Speaker Gingrich, John King, thanks.

Well, up next, no matter what you think about illegal immigration, there is a new surge of undocumented kids, children coming across the border traveling on their own. The question is what happens to them when they get here.

Gary Tuchman shows us from border.

Plus Iraqi insurgents take control of the second major city in Iraq. Government forces abandoned the city. Half a million people have fled the fighting. The question is, is Iraq on the brink again and could Baghdad itself fall?


COOPER: David Brat, the underfunded Tea Party favorite who clabbered Congressman Eric Cantor in Virginia's Republican primary last night, said the voters' concerns about immigration helps him beat the well- financed incumbent. Cantor supported legislation to allow young illegal immigrants to become citizens eventually. Brat painted him as soft on immigration.

And however you feel about the issue, it is a fact that illegal border crossings are surging. The White House is calling it a humanitarian crisis right here in the United States. It's not a term you hear very often.

More than a thousand undocumented people are crossing the Texas border every day, a thousand. And up to 400 of them are children traveling without a parent. It's an astounding number, far bigger than in past years. A wave of young boys and girls that's really overwhelming the holding facility where they're taken.

Tonight we're not going to focus on the politics, we're going to focus on the children, and why they make the journey and what happens when they get here.

Gary Tuchman is on the border.


GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): They came without their parents. Children from Honduras traveling into Guatemala to Mexico, crossing the Rio Grande and just now arriving in Texas.

This girl says she made the dangerous journey because she wants to see her parents in Austin. Another child saying that the journey was frightening.

Unaccompanied children crossing the Mexican border isn't new. What's different now, though, is that the numbers have dramatically increased and almost all of them are coming not from Mexico, but from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador.

CHRIS CABRERA, NATIONAL BORDER PATROL COUNCIL UNION LEADER: They know that once they get to the station we're going to give them paperwork and they're going to be able to be set free into the United States.

TUCHMAN: But it's a bit more complicated than that. Each child's family background in the U.S. is investigated before they can be set free. So what's being done is the hundreds and hundreds of children who have arrived since Memorial Day are being transported to the U.S. border patrol station in Nogales Arizona where they are temporarily living. This picture from a local radio station shows many children sleeping with thermal blankets and many of them are then being transported to military facilities in California, Texas and Oklahoma while their family ties get examined.

White House senior administration officials say they are working as efficiently and as effectively as possible, but what happens when they find out a child has no family here in the United States? Will that child stay here? Will the child be sent back? At this point, it's not clear.

Officially removal proceedings are initiated for all of the children. But when minors come from countries not contiguous to the U.S., the law does not allow expedited returns to where they came from.

CABRERA: We are seeing people in the hundreds turn themselves in daily.

TUCHMAN: Also arriving across the border in huge numbers, mothers and their small children. Ruth Gonzales is from Guatemala. She left her country on her daughter Aurary's (ph) first birthday on May 30th arriving in Arizona 11 days later. She gave her life savings to a coyote (ph) to make the journey.

(on camera): (SPEAKING SPANISH) How much money did you pay?


TUCHMAN: $6,000.

(voice over): Mothers with their children are treated differently than unaccompanied children. Than many other mothers who also took -- and hiked through the desert for days, are dropped off by the border patrol at the Tucson, Arizona Greyhound station and surprisingly to many are told they can travel to their family members and stay in the U.S. for now provided they register after they arrive where their families are. These mothers had never left Guatemala before. They don't speak English and now they are navigating multiday bus trips to various points of the U.S. with almost no idea what direction they are traveling and how far they are traveling in a nation that's far larger than many of them knew. Ruth is going to Washington, D.C. to be with her brother. She left her parents behind. She says her baby has been vomiting.

(on camera): (SPEAKING SPANISH): Hard to smile?


(voice over): She says it's very much difficult to smile and she's very sad. So why has she done this? Well, all the immigrants we talked to say the same thing. They say they are scared to stay in their home countries.

(on camera): (SPEAKING SPANISH)


(voice over): A lot of violence and Ruth says she doesn't want her daughter growing up with the violence. The U.S. government doesn't give them any necessities when they are dropped off at the bus station. Charity groups are there to offer that assistance.


TUCHMAN: Ruth declared she's happy to be here. And then the Greyhound bus arrives. The first stop will be El Paso, then there will be two more stops. And after 80 hours of traveling, she and her baby will be in Washington. Living with her brother in limbo in America.


COOPER: Gary Tuchman joins us now from Arizona tonight along the U.S. Mexico border. So we actually just got some new pictures from the customs and border patrol facility in south Texas. You can see young kids there crowded and sleeping on the floor. Is there any indication this influx is going to slow down?

TUCHMAN: No indication whatsoever. There's momentum that is feeding upon itself. There's a perception in Central America that for children and mothers with children who come to this country it will be much easier to stay in this country and that perception is accurate. What happened in Central America over the last couple of week when they hear that children have gotten to this country safely or are away from the violence, then they send other children to come here. So, we do anticipate that this wall will see a lot of people going around it, over it, through it, tonight, tomorrow and for an unknown number of days to come.

COOPER: Pardon me, this is a new influx, this huge number. So, this is a relatively new perception -- I mean kind of they believe that something has changed or that this administration is somehow made it a lot easier for children to stay here, correct?

TUCHMAN: I think it's a perfect storm, Anderson. You have a dramatic uptick in violence in those three nations over the last couple of months. A lot of it is attributed to gang violence that's going on. So you have parents to say we have got to get our kids out of here. They know it's easier for kids to stay in this country when they got here, and we have seen this before. In 1994, exactly 20 years ago, the Cuban rafters, coming in the hundreds. They ended up staying in Guantanamo, that's where they put the Cuban rafters before Guantanamo was Guantanamo and you had terrorists there, you had innocent Cubans trying for a better life here. And you had a situation where the government didn't know what to do with them. And now you have it again. You could have a situation where you don't have enough room for all the children who are coming to this country.

COOPER: The numbers are huge. Gary Tuchman, I appreciate it, thanks.

And next, Iraq out of control, violence is going - took over major cities. The fighting forcing hundreds of thousands of people from their homes. Even some Iraqi security forces were just throwing down their guns, throwing down their weapons, taking off their uniforms and trying to get out.

Plus tonight, new information about when Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl could be heading back to the United States.


COOPER: There's breaking news on Iraq. Stunning news. The willingness of the government there to accept new American airstrikes there. The reason militants right now are on the march. They are battling for control the city of Tikrit, it's a day after taking over Mosul. Half a million people have fled the fighting, according to International Migration Group, which is also reporting civilian casualties with hospitals being rendered inaccessible because of the fighting. CNN chief national security correspondent Jim Sciutto is breaking the story on the possibility of air strikes with this report.


JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This is Iraq 11 years after the U.S. invasion, 3 years after the U.S. withdrawal and now in a state of crisis. After capturing Mosul, Iraq's second largest city, Islamic militants are boldly pushing on. Taking over Saddam Hussein's hometown of Tikrit, the oil refining town of Biji and nearing the capital of Baghdad. Iraqi security forces following years of training and billions of dollars in weaponry from the U.S. have melted away leaving check points unmanned and stripping themselves of their uniforms. The American-supplied Humvees claimed militant websites now in the hands of al Qaeda-tied terrorists.

Today Iraq's foreign minister said his country's very survival is at stake.

HOSHYAR ZEBARI, IRAQ'S FOREIGN MINISTER: I hope this incident really will lead all Iraqi leaders to come together to face this city as mortal threat to the country.

SCIUTTO: U.S. officials say there are early signs of Iraqi Kurds coming together with government forces to respond to the attacks and today National Security Adviser Susan Rice said the U.S. will provide support under its strategic framework agreement with Iraq.


COOPER: Jim joins us now. I mean the speed at which these insurgent groups, these Sunni groups, the jihadists have moved through northern Iraq, it's just really stunning. Could Baghdad itself fall?

SCIUTTO: Well, listen, you know that Iraq is going to focus its security forces on preventing just that, but Mosul had its own impressive and sizable security force, that melted away. And now you have two other major cities falling as well. I am told that the Iraqis have signaled a willingness to allow the U.S. to conduct air strikes. They help push back this advance. It doesn't mean U.S. is going to do it. They are considering a number of kinetic options, we are told, and, of course, air strikes will bring their own danger of civilian casualties, et cetera. And remember, Anderson, what happened when air strikes were under consideration in Syria, the administration did not proceed with that. But what we do know this is a signal of how serious and how concerned the Iraqis are that they would signal a willingness to that kind of reaction from the U.S.

COOPER: Also, I mean a lot of this has got to fall at the feet of the prime minister of Maliki or the leader there, Maliki. I mean he could have reached out to other groups, to Sunni groups. He really hasn't done that.

SCIUTTO: No question. This has been a tremendous -- I talked to officials about Iraq all the time, a tremendous political failure in Iraq, in addition to security failure. The Shiite leader, he's not done a good job of bringing in the Sunnis, the Kurds into a government sharing the oil revenue, et cetera. That's a failure. And because of that it's made it difficult to build this national army that is truly national that can respond to a crisis like this.

COOPER: Yeah, Jim Sciutto, it's unbelievable developments. Thanks very much. Just get the latest and other stories we're following, Susan Hendricks has the latest.

SUSAN HENDRICKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, a senior U.S. official tells CNN that Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl could be transferred to the United States "very soon." Meanwhile, journal entries that Bergdahl wrote before his capture by the Taliban have been quoted in "The Washington Post." In the entries, Bergdahl makes many references to dreams of walking away to China into the mountains, into "The artist painted world." The journals were sent to a friend who said she gave them to "The Post" because she's concern about Bergdahl being portrayed as a deserter, not the sensitive vulnerable young man she knew. And Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel was on Capitol Hill today defending the deal that freed Bergdahl.


CHUCK HAGEL, U.S. SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: America does not leave its soldiers behind. We made the right decision. And we did it for the right reasons. To bring home one of our own people.


HENDRICKS: Also today the FBI is joining the investigation into the Veterans Affairs department over long and sometimes fatal wait times for vets getting medical care. Meanwhile, the Senate today passing a bill aimed at sweeping changes to the VA. Among them creating 26 new medical facilities and letting vets go to private doctors. And send their bills to the VA.

And Shelly Sterling is asking the court to uphold her deal to sell the L.A. Clippers despite her strange husband Donald Sterling's objections to that. A lawyer for Shelly Sterling says there could be a hearing in a week or two. Anderson.

COOPER: All right. Thanks very much, Susan.

Just ahead, why the Texas Republican Party has endorsed a controversial so-called treatment known as reparative therapy that supposedly can turn gay people straight. Most of the doctors say it doesn't work. It can be harmful to talk to a lawmaker who supports it.


COOPER: Story tonight from the intersection of politics and human lives. Texas Republicans recently endorsed a therapy that purports to turn gay people straight. It's known as reparative or gay conversion therapy. Keep in mind, there's really no scientific evidence it works and plenty of reason to believe that it's actually harmful, particularly for minors. New Jersey and California have banned it for minors. In fact, the Texas GOP has now gone in the opposite direction adding language supporting it to their party platform. The Texas state representative Bryan Hughes voted for that change. I spoke to him earlier.

Representative Hughes, why do you think it was necessary to put something in the state party platform advocating so called reparative therapy for gay people? Why is that on the Republican Party platform?

BRYAN HUGHES, (R) TEXAS STATE HOUSE: The language is in the platform because we want to make sure that people have rights. And we heard from people that wanted access to that kind of counselling, that kind of therapy, and so we believe in free speech and free choice. And so it's important in Texas if people want that kind of help, they can get it. It's not being forced on anyone, but for folks who want it, it should be available.

COOPER: But is that under threat? I mean was that really even a question? I know in New Jersey and California, it's still allowed. I know a lot of people in Texas kind of have been indicating that it's been banned, but you know that's not true.

HUGHES: Well, I have learned that there were concerns from California and New Jersey and maybe other states that it could be limited or taken away in some cases. And so, the platform begins in Texas at the precinct level. And in this case, a neighbor of one of our delegates had been through this therapy, it was helpful to him and he was concerned it might be taken away. He approached her and she took the process to the county and the state level and that's how it became part of the platform. This is about giving people choices. If they want this, it should be available to them.

COOPER: Even if the vast majority of medical associations say that actually this form of counselling or alleged therapy is actually can be harmful to kids? There's a task force in the American Psychological Association that said that efforts to change sexual orientation are unlikely to be successful, but involve a risk of harm. The American Psychiatric Association basically says the same thing. That a potential risks of depression, anxiety, self-destructive behavior. Do you really think that kids should be subjected to that based on what maybe their parents want?

HUGHES: From what I have read, there's medical literature on both sides of the issue.


COOPER: There's really not. There's really not. It's not -- this is really just not accurate to say that, you know, doctors are evenly divided. I'm going to give you a list. The American Academy of Pediatrics, The American Counselling Association, American Psychiatric Association, American Psychological Association, the American School Counselors Association, the National Association of School Psychologists, National Association of Social Workers, I mean that's they represent half a million mental health professionals. They all say this is not a mental disorder, it's not something that needs to be cured.

HUGHES: Well, there are members of those groups who feel differently. Some testified before the committee, some have testified in other places. People testified before the platform committee at our convention both pro and con.

COOPER: That's actually not true, though.

HUGHES: Individuals, also professional therapists.

COOPER: That's actually not true. You know that it's actually not true.

HUGHES: I beg your pardon? COOPER: That's actually not true. I know people testified for it in front of the platform, but according to a number of gay groups there, who weren't allowed to have booths where the platform was, they weren't allowed to argue against it because of a parliamentary procedure. Debate was closed before they had a chance to voice their opposition to it. And maybe too late to put your vote. You're aware of that, right?

HUGHES: I think we're conflating the process. In the platform committee, there was testimony on the issue. When the Bill -- who opposed war.

COOPER: Testified, you know.

HUGHES: I don't know. I wasn't there. But let me be clear. In the committee there was testimony when the platform came to the floor, there were a number of amendments to be offered. I had some on some fiscal matters and other things. And those did not get debated because folks wanted to close debate and go home. But there was plenty of discussion on both sides of this issue.

COOPER: I want to play a clip of an interview I did last year with a man named Alan Chambers who's head of a group "Exodus International." You probably know about them. They were the oldest, probably the most well-known so-called ex-gay group. He since apologized for advocating (INAUDIBLE) therapy. I just want to play you what he said.


ALAN CHAMBERS, FMR. HEAD OF EXODUS INTERNATIONAL: I believe that that causes all sorts of trauma. And I know that there are people who have taken their life because they felt so ashamed of who they are. Felt like God couldn't love them, as they are and that's something that will haunt me until the day I die.

COOPER: Do you now believe that it's possible to change your sexual orientation?

CHAMBERS: No, I don't.


COOPER: This guy ran like the biggest ex-gay group for years and years. Does that concern you again that your party is now backing a form of therapy which basically every major medical organization says doesn't work, can be harmful and which many of the people who have been through it say it just doesn't work and it's bad for kids.

HUGHES: Well, I have heard of him and I don't know a lot of details about the situation, but we heard testimony and we've also read reports from other expert who say it's helpful for some of their patients. I want to take exception to something he said. No one is saying that god doesn't love people as they are. I mean there's nothing in the platform about that. No one is trying to take that position. Every one of us makes mistakes, makes decisions we're not proud of. God loves each one of us and he offers a way for us to deal with sin and with bad choices. But I do strongly disagree what he said about God loving, not loving people.

That's just the morale.

COOPER: The fact that you view being gay as -- or you characterize it as a mistake or something that, you know, should be changed really kind of maybe says more about your position than what your words actually said.

HUGHES: I was speaking about every one of us, whatever we do, whatever choices we make.

COOPER: Over the years, this party platform has actually had a lot of language which is very anti-gay. In fact, up until this year, the platform said homosexuality tears at the fabric of society. That's a platform I assume you supported, correct?

HUGHES: Boy, as we discussed, there was a debate on these issues at the convention. Some folks wanted stronger language. Some folks wanted different language.

COOPER: But in the past, that language was ...


COOPER: So, you supported that, correct?

HUGHES: Oh, absolutely.

COOPER: You believe that homosexuality tears at the fabric of society?

HUGHES: I have voted for that platform in the past. I believe that god has created us to work in a certain way. And when we deviate from that in any area, there are consequences. It doesn't mean he doesn't love us, It doesn't mean we can't love him, we can't be saved, but if you're asking for my personal opinion, I don't believe that's God's best for the way we should live. I'm not speaking for the Republican Party. I'm giving you my opinion.

COOPER: Representative Hughes, I appreciate your time. Thank you, sir.

HUGHES: Thanks for having me. I appreciate it.

COOPER: Coming up, the ridiculist is next.


COOPER: Time now for "The Ridiculist." And if you're a word nerd in general, or wheel watch in particular, you know that the wheel of the ever-powerful, wheel of fortune can be a mercurial companion. The wheel takes contestants on a dizzying journey from bankruptcy to fortune and back again. But sometimes the wheel is given respite from his diabolical task, and this is called a tossup. The letters appear on the board in quick succession. As if by magic, and whenever a touch -- they reveal themselves one by one to spell out, for example, a song lyric.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Surf clay where we go.



COOPER: Yeah, who could forget the number one hit from the summer of 1963, Jenn and Dean's "Surf Clay Where We Go."



COOPER: Now, I know what you're thinking, "Surf Clay Where We Go" wasn't the greatest guess in the history of "Wheel of Fortune." Clearly, it's "Surf City, Here We are Come." But it's hard being under that kind of a pressure and song lyrics do have a -- I don't know, a tendency to trip people up.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have "The Wine" by Johnny Cash?

SAJAK: That is not correct. I'm sorry.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Heat out on the highway.

SAJAK: No. Everybody else?


COOPER: See, I happen to think Johnny Cash could have made "I Have the Wine" work. It's not just songs that are tricky business when it comes to the wheel, of course.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'd like to solve.

SAJAK: All right.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Playing a practical move.



SAJAK: That'd be a good idea, yeah.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mythological hero Achilles.

SAJAK: We can't accept that.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A handle on the dishes.

SAJAK: No. Paul (ph)?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'd like to solve.

SAJAK: Go ahead?

UNIDENTIFIE MALE: On the spot dicespin (ph)?



COOPER: Playing a practical move? I still haven't recovered from that one. Much like an on-the-spot dicespin, "Wheel of Fortune" has a huge component of chance. Sometimes you draw a blank; sometimes a blank draws you. I'm not even sure what that means. Just watch these.


SAJAK: C'mon Vanna, get out of there.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Country roads take me home.

SAJAK: That's right!

Thing is the category. You have ten seconds. Talk it out, you're a good player, you never know. Good luck.


SAJAK: What?


SAJAK: I am very impressed.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It is a prize puzzle.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I've got a good feeling about this.

SAJAK: That's right.



COOPER: Always good to go out on a high note on the "Ridiculist". That does it for us. We'll see you again at 11:00 p.m. Eastern for another edition of 360. "ANTHONY BOURDAIN: PARTS UNKNOWN" starts now.