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Veterans Dying While Waiting; Sources: Militant Fighters Believed To Be ISIS Regain Control Of Iraq's Biggest Oil Refinery; Hillary Clinton Struggles In Answering Questions About Her Personal Wealth

Aired June 23, 2014 - 20:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Hey, good evening. Thanks for joining us.

The question is how many Americans who risk their lives for this country have died waiting for care at the VA?

Tonight only on this program a whistleblower tells us why she believes the answer still allude us. She's alleging a cover-up beyond the one that we've already reported on, beyond the one you already know about and stranger than any you could imagine. Bringing dead people on paper at least back to life.

We're "Keeping Them Honest" tonight.

Also ahead in the hour, breaking news and growing trouble for so many Americans who fought and failed. Sources telling us fighters believed to be ISIS retaking a key oil refinery in the north, the largest in the north, in Iraq.

Is there a way in Iraq for 300 American advisers, a few shaky allies and one secretary of state to take on those rampaging extremists?

Some new ideas tonight.

And later Hillary Clinton says that voters don't see her and her husband as part of the wealth problem because they're not like the really well-off. Critics say that's rich and so the Clintons are very rich. We got the facts so you can decide who's right, who's wrong and who's really out of touch.

We begin, though, tonight with new trouble for the nation's biggest health care system, the VA. Now it goes beyond a new and deeply critical report that's out today. This is reporting you'll only see here.

It goes beyond what whistleblowers have told a congressional committee which is hearing testimony again this evening. It's a product of the surge of wounded warriors who gave so much in Iraq, Afghanistan and before that in Vietnam.

And we'll have more on that shortly and whether anything can be accomplished by sending American advisers back into Iraq. But first, the human consequences back home of that flood of combat

veterans. People asking for nothing more than timely access to the medical care their country -- all of us -- promised them. And as our Drew Griffin reports on this program, and reports that he first filed, many spent months waiting for it. Now some died waiting. And certain VA officials have been covering up the problem.

Now we've learned that another cover-up may be underway at the Phoenix Veterans' Administration Hospital. This time, a deliberate attempt to try to hide just how many of our veterans died while waiting for care by trying to pretend on paper that those dead veterans are actually still alive.

It's a shocking allegation. It comes from the scheduling clerk who, for the better part of a year, says she was ordered to keep a secret waiting list in her desk drawer.

Pauline DeWenter has never spoken publicly about any of it until now.

Senior investigative correspondent Drew Griffin tonight has the exclusive interview.


DREW GRIFFIN, CNN INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Pauline DeWenter, a scheduling clerk at Phoenix VA is coming forward because she believes she knows something that is frankly unthinkable. That is saying something considering the shameful facts of what we already know happened at this VA.

She says someone now is trying to hide the number of U.S. veterans who died here waiting for care. In seven cases so far, where she has determined a veteran on a waiting list was in fact deceased, she says, someone above her has changed the record back, the veteran suddenly listed as alive.

(On camera): Somebody is going on that electronic wait list and where people are -- identified as being dead, somebody is changing that and saying, no, they're not dead.


GRIFFIN: To hide the fact people died on that list?

DEWENTER: That's my belief.

GRIFFIN: What would be the other -- any other purpose?

DEWENTER: There wouldn't be any other purpose.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): Why? DeWenter says the numbers of dead in this VA wait list scandal may be even bigger than first reported. And someone she says is trying to cover up the record.

(On camera): And that has been happening fairly recently?


GRIFFIN: That is a cover-up.


GRIFFIN: Did you feel that the investigators are on to that?


GRIFFIN: Because you told them?

DEWENTER: I have surrendered evidence, yes.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): If there ever was a doubt there was a secret waiting list at the Phoenix VA, DeWenter says she is here to lay those doubts to rest. Beginning early last year, she says she was told by managers to take requests for new appointments from veterans seeking care and hide them.

(On camera): What happened to those people?

DEWENTER: They went into a desk drawer.

GRIFFIN: So if you called for a new appointment thinking you were being placed on the electronic wait list, you were actually being placed on a piece of paper in somebody's desk drawer?

DEWENTER: Correct.

GRIFFIN: Is that the secret list?

DEWENTER: Yes. That would be the secret list.

GRIFFIN: And there is no doubt in your mind that was a secret list?

DEWENTER: No doubt.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): The secret list began in early 2013, she says, because of a waiting list for treatment here that was simply getting out of hand. 1700 veterans were on it. DeWenter says you couldn't get an appointment for at least nine months. And with 40 patients coming in each day, the list and the waits were growing longer. That was a problem. Because nationwide the VA had set a goal, every patient had to be seen within 14 days.

The solution at the Phoenix VA, according to DeWenter and others inside this hospital, keep one list that lied, showing veterans were getting appointments and another list, a secret list, that tallied the true and shameful backlog.

(On camera): So as long as the secret list kept growing the goal was being met.

DEWENTER: Mm-hmm. Yes.

GRIFFIN: That's terrible. DEWENTER: It is beyond horrible.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): There simply were not enough doctors, not enough appointments to handle new patients, backlogged patients and yes, very sick patients. DeWenter, a scheduling clerk, was making life-and-death decisions.

DEWENTER: And that really overtook even the wait list because now I have a consult where veterans are very sick. So I have to ease up on the -- on the wait lists. It just sounds so wrong to say but -- I worked these scheduled appointments so at least I felt the sickest of the sick were being treated.

GRIFFIN (on camera): And you're making basically those triage decisions?


GRIFFIN: So you're bumping one veteran for the other based on who is the sickest?


GRIFFIN (voice-over): The stress she says was unbearable. Then came the call she had to make in early December. She finally had found an appointment available for a Navy veteran who had come to the VA months earlier, urinating blood.

DEWENTER: So I called the family and that's when I found out that he was dead.

GRIFFIN: DeWenter would not tell us the patient's name, but it matches this story, reported on CNN early this spring. Sally and Teddy Barnes told us then that their father, a Navy veteran named Thomas Breen, died in November of 2013 after repeatedly being denied care at the Phoenix VA.

SALLY BARNES-BREEN, DAUGHTER-IN-LAW OF DECEASED VETERAN: They call me December 6th. He's dead already.

GRIFFIN (on camera): They called you and said?

BARNES-BREEN: I said, "What is this regarding?" She goes, "We have a primary for him." I said, "Really? You're a little too late, sweetheart."

DEWENTER: One case a family member said you're too late, sweetheart, he's dead you. You guys killed him. And I apologized.

They have no quarrel about telling you how they died and if they screamed. And this particular veteran was screaming, "Please, do whatever you can. Don't let the VA do this to another patient or another veteran. We do not deserve this type of treatment."

GRIFFIN: A family member was telling you this? DEWENTER: The family member was telling me this. And I promised her

I would do everything mine power to never have this happen to another veteran again. And that's when Dr. Foote and I really started connecting about what was happening.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): In December of last year, DeWenter and a VA physician, named Dr. Sam Foote, told everything to the VA's Office of the Inspector General.

DEWENTER: I thought that was a saving grace. I thought OK, this is it. This is going to be all over. You know? That wasn't. And we were waiting and waiting and waiting and waiting.

GRIFFIN (on camera): And nothing happened?

DEWENTER: Nothing happened. Nothing. We didn't hear any note, we didn't hear anything. The leadership was telling us, oh, we passed everything, we're not doing anything wrong. We're not doing anything wrong? And people are still dying. We were giving up hope. And that's when Dr. Foote finally decided that we need to contact the media and we need help with this.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): DeWenter says until now she was simply too scared to come forward. The truth is, she is scared.

DEWENTER: My life will change after this comes out. I will have people at work who are not going to like me because of what I have done. And I have other people at work who say thank you for doing what you have done.


COOPER: Drew, I mean, she's scared and she's incredibly brave to come forward. The most startling allegation in this report is that until very recently someone has still been trying to hide the actual number of vets who have died.

Did you get any response from the VA that could explain that?

GRIFFIN: Not, not really, Anderson. We asked and got a rather bland out, generic response. It just says that the new acting secretary at the VA is saying, "We must work together to fix the unacceptable systemic problems in accessing VA health care." And that the VA is taking action to accelerate access to care and reach out to veterans to get them off these wait lists and clinics.

But you're right, I mean, this is a cover-up that's going on in real time. This is since the scandal broke, what Pauline DeWenter is alleging, is somebody is still trying to cover up just how bad things are there.

COOPER: And the idea that she is being called in to make life-and- death decisions is just insane. This wasn't the only bad news coming out about the VA today. A scathing new independent report is exposing some of the worst horror stories yet. GRIFFIN: Yes, the Office of Special Counsel, Anderson, this is a

group of government prosecutors. They work for the government. They protect and investigate claims being made by whistleblowers like Pauline DeWenter. This agency released a letter today to the White House which is really unreal. It details how the VA has ignored, egregious examples of poor patients care for veterans.

In one case, a veteran kept in a mental facility for eight years before ever being evaluated by a psychiatrist. The Office of the Special Counsel says it's routine for the VA to ignore critical reports and also routine for the VA to not acknowledge that these delays in care, poor care, even abusive care, actually harm the veterans.

It just keeps getting worse the more we know, Anderson.

COOPER: I mean, kept in a mental hospital for eight years. That's unbelievable.


COOPER: Drew, as always, great work. Thanks very much.

A reaction to Drew's reporting now Republican Congressman Jeff Miller who chairs the House Committee on Veterans Affairs. Here's what he told me earlier this evening when he saw the report.


REP. JEFF MILLER (R), CHAIRMAN, HOUSE VETERANS AFFAIRS COMMITTEE: For somebody like this whistleblower to have been forced to make decisions that only medical providers should be making, to triage patients as to whether or not they should be put in a drawer is just certainly unconscionable. But even more so for the very people that were supervising the people making the decisions to continue to get promotions, bonuses and to fight and to call these folks disgruntled employees, this is beyond the pale.


COOPER: We're going to have more on my conversation with Chairman Miller in the next hour of 360. We're live in the 9:00 p.m. hour as well.

A quick reminder, make sure you set your DVRs so you can watch 360 whenever you want.

Ahead tonight, fighters believed to be part of ISIS taking more strategic territory, boosting pressure on Baghdad. The question is, is that where the focus should be? We'll look at some of the unorthodox methods America may be -- may have to employ to answer the threat that have little to do with actually defending real estate.

Later the social media front in this war. You're going to hear from a former jihadist, a former Islamic extremist about fighting this online call to battle. The call being answered by young Muslims in the West. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Breaking news out of Iraq tonight, militants believed to be ISIS-Sunni extremist fighters taking yet more territory. Regaining control of that big refinery in Baiji, taking air base in Tal Afar, and gaining ground in parts of the Kurdish north.

Arwa Damon witnessed the fighting there.


ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The battle lines drawn but for over a week not crossed. Then came the ISIS assault. "They came at us from three directions," Colonel Ahmed tells us. "The battle lasted for six hours." In the distance, an Iraqi military vehicle commandeered by ISIS.

(On camera): The intersection at this combat outpost, its protecting, is incredibly strategic. Saddam Hussein's hometown of Tikrit in that direction, to the north, the oil-rich city of Kirkuk, Sunni (INAUDIBLE) and Iraqi Kurdistan to the east and then to the south. A two-hour drive, a straight shot to the capital.


COOPER: Also, in that capital today, Secretary of State Kerry meeting top leaders promising help if Iraqis help themselves.


JOHN KERRY, SECRETARY OF STATE: The support will be intense, sustained, and if Iraq's leaders take the necessary steps to bring the country together, it will be effective. It will allow Iraqi forces to confront ISIL more effectively and in a way that respects Iraq's sovereignty while also respecting America's and the region's vital interests.


COOPER: Now key, U.S. condition beginning the process of forming a new government by the 1st of July. A key request that Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki rise above sectarian motivation, something he's yet to do, rarely has ever done, even now with insurgents at the door.

Nic Robertson tonight joins us from Baghdad, Arwa Damon is in the north in Erbil.

Arwa, ISIS continue to gain ground. What's the latest on their advance?

DAMON: Well, the most strategic gains they managed to make, Anderson, has been the capturing of the Iraqi border post along the border with Syria. What this means is that ISIS now controls massive swaths of territory inside Iraq directly linked to the territory that it controls inside Syria. Giving it utter freedom of movement whether it comes to weaponry, military armor, and personnel. This is a key strategic route that they now control through Anbar

Province, down the Euphrates River Valley that gives them direct access to the western outskirts of the capital Baghdad -- Anderson.

COOPER: And, Nic, with Maliki telling Secretary Kerry he's going to form a new government by July 1st, is there any indication at least in the short term that that will actually change the situation on the ground?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: There really isn't, Anderson. This is -- it's actually a process that begins on July 1st. Thirty days after that process begins to nominate a president, and then another 15 days to nominate a prime minister, that key contested positions. And then another 30 days by the constitution to have a government form.

We're talking about 2 1/2 months. And the real immediate threat is ISIS fighters digging in and getting stronger and being harder to dislodge as well as the Iraqi army not being ready to take them on. So the process we are talking about, it's not one that really seems to be designed to actually deal with that real immediate threat that is right now -- Anderson.

COOPER: Arwa, in terms of military folks that you are talking about, and you're talking -- I mean, you're on the Kurdish side there up in the north. How much support is there for the idea of American advisers coming?

DAMON: Well, it really depends on who you are talking to. There is a lot of wariness when it comes to U.S. involvement just because we're Americans. The Kurds are very critical of the Iraqi Security Forces and in the words of the governor of the province of Kirkuk he put it quite simply. The Americans trained a checkpoint army. They are great at setting up checkpoints and creating traffic jams, but clearly are incapable of stopping the kind of offensive that ISIS and the various Sunni insurgents have lodged.

Speaking with Sunni leadership and they will tell you that America needs to be very careful when it comes to Iraq and learn from the lessons of its deadly era that it spent here and realize that if it is going to get involved in Iraq it also needs to reach out to the Sunni tribes. The Sunni tribes, however, will not turn on ISIS until they say Maliki is out of power.

COOPER: And, Nic, in the -- in Baghdad over the weekend, we saw this huge show of force. This huge basically a parade by the militia linked to Muqtada al-Sadr, the Shia cleric in Sadr City in Baghdad. I know you covered this. How are these militias going to actually be used? I mean, with so much territory being lost, why are they parading around the streets? I mean, shouldn't they actually be doing something?

ROBERTSON: Yes, it's kind of a double message there. I mean part of the message was from Muqtada al-Sadr to Nuri al-Maliki it's time for you to go. The other message was for ISIS fighter, you know, if you come near us, near our shrines, we're going to -- we're going to take you on. So it's the kind of a double message. The message from the top religious cleric in the country is we don't want militias. We want everyone fighting in the army.

But as we all know, the army here has completely failed to fight in a cohesive way. How are they going to graft on militias like this in a cohesive way? The real issue is that these militias could be unleashed if sectarian violence kicks off. And that's a real danger, that's a real concern in this city that's getting increasingly worried.

ISIS now made those advances in Anbar, almost at the doors of the city if you will. On the western side of Baghdad, we hear reports of government offices being closed, emptied of documents. There is over this weekend a bigger concern than there was last week, for example, Anderson.

COOPER: All right. Nic Robertson, Arwa Damon, thank you very much. Stay safe.

Digging deeper now with our news contributor, counterterrorism analyst Philip Mudd. He's a long serving veteran of the FBI and CIA, he served as deputy director of the counterterrorism center. Also military analyst and retired Amy major general, James "Spider" Marks.

Philip, let me start with you. You say the focus should be -- for the U.S. should be less on, sort of getting back territory and more on leadership positions in ISIS and whether or not they have safe havens.

PHILIP MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: I think that's true. Look, I followed these guys for 25 years at CIA. You follow them in Somalia and Yemen, you start to learn lessons. If you're in Baghdad, you've got to worry about geography. They're coming over to barricades. If you're in Boston or New York or Chicago, two things you'd be thinking about if you're in my old position.

First is, when the battle lines start to stabilize, real serious terror leaders start to say, I've got a bigger vision of this revolution. And that is, as Osama bin Laden did, this revolution has how to go to the head of the state. That's Washington, that's New York, that's London. They --

COOPER: So not just a caliphate but international.

MUDD: That's correct. That's correct. So the second issue if they get the stability of that space for a terror organization is really you need visionary leaders to look at an 18-year-old Saudi or Yemeni or Somali kid in the Trenton and say, your target is not just a local police station or Nuri al-Maliki. Your target is overseas. That takes people who are very rare in the terror world. So if you get those over time, safe haven and leaders who can execute sophisticated operations, game on. We're in trouble. We don't have it yet. But potentially in the future.

COOPER: General Marks, talking about leaders who can execute operations, I mean U.S. officials say that five of Iraqi army's 14 divisions are combat ineffective. I mean, that is -- that's shocking. Why are they so bad?

MAJ. GEN. JAMES "SPIDER" MARKS, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Well, it's not too shocking when we've seen the developments over the course of the last month and a half or so. The complete collapse of a number of units that have been in contact with ISIS.

COOPER: But is that just poor leadership?

MARKS: And --


COOPER: I mean, corruption among the leadership?

MARKS: What has happened, Anderson, you're on it. It starts and it finishes with leadership. Absolutely. What this has become is the ISF has essentially become a Shia militia. It's been politicized completely. Sunni leader, current leaders have been moved aside. Maliki has put his cronies.

And it isn't necessarily just simply a matter of character and competence. And that's what all organizations strive for. What we have with the ISF is you've got a whole host of character issues. You've got the wrong people in the wrong locations for the wrong reasons, albeit, Maliki would say for all the right reasons.

And I would argue that within the ISF, they probably have a number of fighters and a number of very good leaders at significant positions. But you end up with five out of 14 completely combat ineffective.

The reason that we are there is so that we can give Maliki some time. As Phil indicated, the broader concern is not only the caliphate, it is the immediate concern that Baghdad might fall. Maliki is in exile and Iran becomes the big winner here, and we've got to really work very diligently on that not happening.

COOPER: And for those who aren't (INAUDIBLE) on acronyms ISF is the Iraqi Security Forces. The forces of the government, of Nuri al- Maliki.

Phil, the -- I mean, how much of the focus should be on these foreign fighters? Americans, British, French, others who have come to fight with ISIS or ISIL in Syria, now in Iraq.

MUDD: I think the focus should be significant. Look, if you're sitting in the chair I sat in at the agency, you're not worried about some Iraqi kid showing up to explode a car bomb in Times Square. You're worried about these foreign kids who are inspired to go overseas, maybe via video that they've seen.

I used to talk to some of these kids. They're very -- 17-year-old who sees a video of a child killed in Baghdad. Very emotionally involved.

COOPER: Right.

MUDD: What you've got to do is look for the slivers of these organizations, organizations like ISIS, the organization we used to follow Al-Shabaab in Somalia, for example.


COOPER: And the first American suicide bomber was for Al-Shabaab in Somalia.

MUDD: That's correct. And we saw an American suicide bomber in Syria.

COOPER: Right.

MUDD: Typically in these organizations the lion's share of the group is focused on local targets. They've got to defend themselves. That's a day-to-day job. You see a sliver, though, that has a revolutionary ideology that says hey, the rest of the guys can fight for Baghdad, we're going to fight to spread this battle overseas.

You've got to collect intelligence on those guys because they're going to be training kids from Minneapolis or New York. And to my mind that's part of what these 300 Americans are going to be doing there. Trying to figure out if there is a foreign fighter faction we've got to go after.

COOPER: Interesting. Philip Mudd, good to have you on.

MARKS: Hey, Anderson, can I --

COOPER: Yes, General Marks, go ahead.

MARKS: If I can pile on to what Phil just said. Clearly there's a layering effect to our intelligence community. And what Phil is describing is the much broader picture that we need to be very mindful of.


MARKS: What happens in the case that Phil just described is it gets accelerated to the left real quickly if we cannot help Maliki solve this immediate problem that he is faced with.

COOPER: General Marks, good to have you on and Phil Mudd again. Thanks.

Up next, the reach and hold that ISIS is trying to gain over those young people that we've just been talking about. Americans, Brits, French people, who've gone to fight there. A former jihadist, a former extremist is on the program tonight and gives his take on the group's slick recruitment effort, which are frankly like music videos in some cases. There are huge production values.

Also tonight, Hillary Clinton saying she and former President Bill Clinton are not like the truly well-off. We're going to take you inside Clinton Incorporated, you can judge for yourself.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) COOPER: We have been talking tonight about the notion that Iraq today is more than a ground war. It's really a battle for influence on ordinary Iraqis in the cities that fall and perhaps even more importantly appealing for the help of would be Jihadists in the west.

Now ISIS recently put out a recruiting video featuring a number of British subjects who are joining the battle. It's part of a social media or major social media campaign of tweets and Facebook postings. The fear is it may be working.

Maajid Nawas now fights such efforts. He is a former Jihadist himself and author of the book "Radical: My Journey Out of Islamistic Extremism." A lot of people would be shocked when they see this video slickly produced by ISIS, targeting and geared towards westerners trying to encourage Americans, Brits, French, and other westerners to join is forces to hear these guys speaking English with a British accent.

It obviously doesn't surprise you. You know about all this firsthand, but, what draws some of these guys to this cause, to leave their life in England or America, and go there.

MAAJID NAWAZ, AUTHOR, "RADICAL MY JOURNEY OUT OF ISLAMISTIC EXTREMISM": I think we have to look at a combination of a perception of grievance, grievance to the wider world, foreign policy, to their place in their societies in which they were born, identity, links into it as well. But we also have to consider ideology because ultimately it is the ideological world view that allows them to redefine themselves from being British South Asians to being people that feel they have more in common with Arabs in Syria and Iraq than they do with either South Asia, the country of their parents' origin or Britain the country of their birth.

That sort of shifting identity comes down to ideological reasons. They have adopted -- they've adopted a new sense of belonging to a people, they define is their own, they call it the global Oma and they define that Oma or Muslim nation, as a political entity rather than just a religious identity.

COOPER: It is fascinating to see, their use of technology. I mean, the Taliban when they were in control they didn't want anybody taking pictures of them. They said it went against, the Koran. Now you have basically music videos being made by these terror groups.

NAWAZ: Anderson, we are way behind. They are far superior and advanced than we are when it comes to new media technologies, social media, when it comes to video production qualities, and in disseminating their propaganda over the internet. It is very attractive for angry, young Muslims when they see these sorts of videos and they here language that resonates with them.

You know, it is no easy thing to have up to 400 to 500 British citizens up and leave. That is something, which means that there must be a milleau, an atmosphere that these people are moving in that allows them to sort of subscribe to this world view and the propaganda, social media that they're using makes that a very attractive option for them.

COOPER: When a group like ISIS talks about a caliphate, wanting to create a caliphate, can you explain to viewers what exactly that means, what exactly that looks like because it's something that, you know, it crosses numerous borders. It's not about forming a part of Iraq?

NAWAZ: No, absolutely. The Islamists, and in this case, Jihadists, terrorists don't believe in national borders. The video that you refer to earlier by these British citizens, in fact, they explicitly said that in their video. They said, we don't believe in borders. We are in Iraq. We are in Syria. We're in Jordan. We are soon going to be fighting in Jordan.

In fact, ISIS has just declared a chapter in Jordan. Islamists and Jihadists terrorists do not believe in arrangement. They don't believe in the League of Nations and they don't believe in the United Nations. They have defined the Islamic community, the Oma as a political block, not just a religious block. They have defined it as a political identity.

They believe in forcibly uniting, if it is, by sort of, means of diplomacy or war, all Muslims across the world, in the case of Jihadist terrorists from a Sunni background that would, of course, exclude the Shiites of Iran and the Shiites of Baghdad and Maliki's government. They believe in uniting all the Sunni Muslims in one Pan- Islamist super state that has an active war policy, expansionist policy.

The last example that we had of that in the world, sadly, unfortunately was the Nazi state of Germany. That's by and large what modern day Islamism has been inspired by. It is very unfortunate because it bears very little resemblance to traditional Islamic faith practice.

COOPER: Maajid, it's good to have you on again. Thank you so much.

NAWAZ: Absolute pleasure. Thank you, Anderson.

COOPER: We have a lot of news ahead, but I just want to take a moment to remember a friend, a man I came to know on this broadcast that we all did here, a man we all came to like enormously, Fouad Ajami. He was a man of tremendous grace and kindness, scholar of the Middle East who is eloquence was without parallel. His opinions, though sometimes controversial, came from a place of compassion and caring for those whose voices were not being heard.

Those forced to live under despot's cruel rule. Fouad Ajami was born in Southern Lebanon, and in his 68 years, he traveled far and he saw much. We traveled together two years ago to a Syrian refugee camp in Turkey. We sat in tents talking with Syrians who had fled their homes and were trying to come to grips with their new lives, trying to make sense of events beyond their control.

Fouad may have helped them to do that. He helped me do that and maybe you as well. Tonight our thoughts go to his family and friends, and all of us here shall miss him very much. Word came that he died yesterday at the age of 68.


COOPER: Welcome back to politics, tonight, Hillary Clinton's book tour hit another bump over the weekend. In an interview with "The Guardian," she was asked if her personal wealth would hurt her credibility with voters on issues like income and equality if she decides to run for president.

Her answer, quote, "They don't see me as part of the problem because we pay ordinary income tax unlike a lot of people who are truly well off, not to name names, and we've avenue done it through dint of hard work." Clinton's critics say it is more evidence she is out of touch. Recently, she downplayed her net worth in an interview with ABC's Diane Sawyer.


HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: You have no reason to remember, but we came out of the White House not only dead broke but in debt. We had no money when we got there and we struggled to, piece together the resources for mortgages for houses, for Chelsea's education, you know it was not easy.


COOPER: Well, it is true the Clintons were deeply in debt when they left the White House. It's also true, of course, that they have amassed what most Americans would consider a fortune since then, no doubt. We know this because the financial disclosures Mrs. Clinton filed as a public servant.


COOPER (voice-over): Bill and Hillary Clinton left the White House in 2001 with millions in debt from years of protracted legal battles. But that didn't last long. In their first year out, the couple managed to pull in more than $12 million and in just over 13 years, Clinton Inc. has amassed a fortune widely valued at more than $100 million. So how have they become so wealthy? Largely by turning the Clinton name into a lucrative brand with books and countless speeches.

BILL CLINTON, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: I think this is worth everybody here thinking about.

COOPER: President Clinton is mostly responsible for their sizable wealth, since 2001, he hit the speaking circuit harder than most. Sometimes commanding fees in excess of $750,000 per speech. A look at tax returns from 2001 to 2012, the last year they were made publicly available, shows the president raking in more than $100 million over the 12 year period on speeches alone. He shows no signs of slowing down. In 2013, was his most lucrative year yet.

UNIDENTIFIED ANNOUNCER: Please join me and give a big NADA welcome to our keynote speaker today, Hillary Clinton. COOPER: Hillary Clinton for her part hasn't wasted any time capitalizing on her stature since leaving public office. Charging on average $200,000 per speech, reportedly take in more than $5 million in less than two years. Bestselling memoirs have also contributed. Combined book advances reaching into the tens of millions of dollars. Hillary Clinton's multiple books brought in reportedly $20 million, while the president's generated upwards of $30 million.

In his other business ventures and investments have added to their wealth like advising long-time friend and donor, Ron Burkel and consulting for consumer database company, Info USA. They have multiple homes. A primary residence in New York bought for $1.7 million, and a Washington, D.C. home as well, purchased for $2.85 million.

And it seems the Clinton name carries clout for daughter, Chelsea as well. Among other income streams, she is reportedly making $600,000 a year as a contributor for NBC News.


COOPER: Well, joining me now is senior political analyst and former presidential adviser, David Gergen, and also political analyst and senior political writer of "," Maggie Habberman.

David, Hillary Clinton's latest comments this weekend, I mean, for someone who has been campaigning so long, who has been in the political game so long, are these rookie mistakes or people overstating this?

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: They're not rookie, but they may be rust. Listen, Anderson, I think most Americans do not begrudge the Clintons any fair amount of money. They know he was governor making $35,000 a year.

COOPER: Anybody running for president has a lot of money.

GERGEN: Absolutely. He spent most of his life in public service. What was left out of the piece was the Clinton Foundation and all the good works they're doing around the world. I also think that what she said, to the guardian was true and that is she seemed to be referring to the Romneys. The Clintons have been paying taxes at the rate double of that of the Romneys.

But you know, sometimes in politics, just because something is true does not mean you should say it. I think what happened here was that she stepped in it again. She is rusty and she has a thing, Maggie you, know about her, most of her life, because her husband earned so little. She was the one that had to be the breadwinner.

And worried about where is the money going to come from? How are we going to be secure? So I think that has been very much on her mind for a long, long time. It comes of in these ways that seem to most Americans to be insensitive and tone deaf.

COOPER: Do you think it is tone deaf? MAGGIE HABERMAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I do. It's coming from a place of defensiveness. That's what the dread broke comment is about. She is very angry about the legal bills and source of the legal bills, which are from Myriad Republican investigations at the time. She doesn't like to talk about it, which is why she didn't say it in those context.

But one time the dead broke thing that is a gaffe. Another time, a collection of these becomes a recurring theme and a problem. She can't keep making comments like this. I would say another problem with it, not just the part about truly well off, which is generally what people seized on.

But the thing which she said people don't think we're part of the problem. A lot of progressives think she is part of the problem in terms of proximity to Wall Street. I wouldn't saying that at all. She should make it about the voters, which is generally what her husband has done.

GERGEN: I totally agree with it because I do think there is an issue here that when she has been interviewed. She talked mostly about Hillary Clinton and she hasn't talked much about the American people, voters, how it is to be middle-class. She spent most of her life fighting on issues for the middle-class. Not as if she doesn't care.

COOPER: Why do you think -- do you think she feels she has to redefine herself in some way or?

GERGEN: I don't know. She is out doing a book tour. It's a book about her. So, inevitably questions are about her. She hasn't flipped the questions in a way that would say, look, we have made money. Let me tell you what the real issue I am fighting for.

COOPER: To David's point, most Americans if you said, if she says, rightly says, look, we worked really hard and we are blessed in this country to have the opportunity to make a lot of money and, you know thank God for that.

HABERMAN: Part of the problem, I think that she said that's the dint of hard work, which is true. There is no question that they have both worked very hard, but they've been very fortunate in terms of opportunities they've had. You heard Joe Biden today at a Working Families Summit, address this issue really in the way, I think Hillary Clinton should have been addressing it, and probably her supporters wish she had, which was she said, I am really lucky.

I'm really lucky. I'm not going to pretend I am not really lucky. I'm not going to pretend I have more than I have and I'm not going to pretend that I have less and there is something about sort of owning it and being honest about it. She could say, her husband has done this. Say in the past, making a ton of money, I'm getting taxed for it. She sort of went that way.

But she tried to make it as David said about Mitt Romney. That's what the reference was to. The issue with Mitt Romney in 2012 wasn't the caricature of a guy out of touch. It was that Democrats really lampooned him as some body that got there by a rigged system. This was what the private equity attacks were all about. She is trying to say we are not like that. We are paying full income tax, but it gets totally lost.

GERGEN: Two things, Maggie, curious how you feel about this. That I was very concerned about in the Clinton camp. The Obama people started taking shots at her in "The Washington Post." That was uncalled for, but when one of them was asked anonymously what should Democrats' reaction be to what Hillary is saying, he said panic. That was not helpful.

But the other thing is, if you look at the totality of this, this book tour has become a lost opportunity for her in many ways. This was going to be a rollout really was going to bolster her. And now, you know, people are asking questions.

COOPER: We got to leave it there. Maggie, great to have you on and David Gergen as always. Thanks very much. Let's get the latest on the other stories we are following. Susan Hendricks is here with the 360 Bulletin -- Susan.

SUSAN HENDRICKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, an Egyptian court has convicted three Al-Jazeera English journalists, of aiding the Muslim Brotherhood by spreading false news. Two of the journalists face seven years in prison. The third got ten years. The extra three years for apparently possessing a single bullet. Now this case has sparked worldwide condemnation. The three men have denied the charges since they were arrested and held six months ago.

In Texas, Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl is now getting care at an outpatient facility as he recovers from being held captive by the Taliban for five years. The army says Bergdahl will be expose to more people and they will gradually increase his social interactions.

And off the coast of Southern New Jersey, a group of fishermen came face to face with this, a great white shark, and caught it, Anderson, all on video. The shark was circling the boat for 20 minutes and swam away.

COOPER: Amazing. All right, Susan, thanks very much.

"The Ridiculist" is coming up next. Also we are live in our next hour. Stick around.


COOPER: Time for "The Ridiculist" and tonight, we are adding self- proclaimed owl whisperer. Now you may have heard of this guy. His name is Colton Wright. He is from Fort Worth, Texas, like Susan Boil and the dramatic chipmunk, before him, he is now a YouTube sensation.

Here is what happened, Colton says his cat brought an owl into his house. That is right, an owl. Colton, clearly an expert bird handler, calmly took care of the situation.



COOPER: All right, I am going to go out on a limb and say that maybe, maybe Colton is not the guy you want to be around should you ever run into a grizzly bear. Also the owl, you may notice, Colton addressed as "Mr. Owl" seemed to be fine. How exactly Colton's cat brought him into the house, remains unclear, perhaps he offered him a cocktail.

Colton says the shrieking. Lasted for 40 minutes as Mr. Owl refused to leave. Eventually Colton, now, MacGyver of Fort Worth decided the key to his problem was not an owl wrangler, but an ordinary household item.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is OK. OK. OK. OK. It's OK. Please don't give me that look.


COOPER: I love that look the owl is giving him. Who knew an owl segment was going to need so many bleeps. I didn't. Colton used the owl whisperer dust broom in his attempt. Watch out charming elderly couple in Swiffer ads nationwide, your 15 minutes are over. Everything is coming up Colton.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Please don't fly. Don't give me that look, God, you have got to fly. God he is going to fly.


COOPER: Can we just show the owl again, please? There tip is. I love the look the owl is giving him. Now I know owls always look kind of unimpressed. This one looks really, really unimpressed. Like bordering on -- WTF. Anyway, I cannot handle the tension anymore. This is too nerve-racking. This owl meant business. He was in it to win it. The world cup of owl standoffs.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, don't fly. Don't -- fly. Yes! Yes!


COOPER: Bleep, yes, Colton. Bleep, yes, indeed. Hopefully the owl is OK. Not too banged up from the cat. As for Colton, the owl whisperer, hats off to a peaceful, enjoy your bleeping perch on "The Ridiculist." Another hour of 360 after the break. Stick around.


COOPER: Good evening. Thanks for joining us. The question for the second hour of 360. How many Americans who risked their lives for this country died waiting for care at the VA? Tonight, you will hear from a whistleblower who tells us why she believes the answer still allude us. She is alleging a cover-up beyond the one we reported on and stranger than any you could imagine, bringing dead vets on paper at least back to life on keeping them honest tonight.