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President Obama on Immigration Fight; Border Crisis Conspiracy?; From Guatemala to Mexico to the U.S.; Arrivals and Departures of Immigrants; Israeli Airstrikes Pounded Hamas Targets in Gaza; Former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin Sentenced to 10 Years in Prison; Georgia Hot Car Death; Internet Postings

Aired July 9, 2014 - 20:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening. Thanks for joining us tonight.

Breaking news from President Obama on immigration and we'll take you for the first time to a spot on Mexico's southern border so you can see all those kids -- how all those kids are getting here.

Also, tonight, detectives in the Cooper Harris murder case wire up the car, trying to recreate what that toddler went through before he died. That and new revelations from his father's online life tonight.

Plus his city weathered Katrina and even weathered him. Mayor, crook and convict, Ray Nagin, he now learns how long he'll serve his time in prison.

We begin tonight with breaking news. President Obama in Texas, the state with the longest southern border, addressing the biggest problem there in years. The flood of unaccompanied kids into this country. Kids mainly from Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador, driven out by violence, lured away by human smugglers with empty promises arriving by the hundreds in the United States every day.

Tonight in Austin, Texas, after an airport meeting that almost did not happen because of politics, the president met with Texas Governor Rick Perry. He called the meeting constructive, says he's interested in solving the problems, not in photo-ops. He expressed frustration, however, at the politics surrounding this and lawmakers who he believes, fairly or not, have been putting politics first.

He also had a clear warning for anyone thinking of sending their kids north.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: While we intend to do the right thing by these children, their parents need to know that this is an incredibly dangerous situation, and it is unlikely that their children will be able to stay, and I've asked parents across Central America not to put their children in harm's way in this fashion.

Now right now, there are more Border Patrol agents and surveillance resources on the ground than at any time in our history, and we deport almost 400,000 migrants each year. But as soon as it became that this year's migration to the border was different than in past years, and I directed FEMA to coordinate the response to the border, members of my Cabinet and my staff have made multiple trips to facilities there.

And we're also addressing the root of the problem. I sent Vice President Biden and Secretary Kerry and Secretary Johnson to meet with Central American leaders, as well as working with our international partners to go after smugglers who are putting their kids' lives at risk.

The challenge is, is Congress prepared to act to put the resources in place to get this done? Another way of putting it, and I said this directly to the governor, is, are folks more interested in politics or are they more interested in solving the problem?

If they're interested in solving the problem, then this can be solved. If the preference is for politics, then it won't be solved.


COOPER: Well, that's not all he said nor all that being said about what he said.

Covering it all for us tonight, Michelle Kosinski at the White House and chief congressional correspondent Dana Bash.

So, Michelle, the president had some pretty strong words, we just heard some of that, for Congress, specifically House Republicans.

MICHELLE KOSINSKI, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Right, he also said it's time for them to rediscover negotiation and compromise and it's not really compromising when you won't give on certain topics and the president even threw out there a compromise of his own. He said that Governor Rick Perry and others are asking for National Guard troops immediately to be stationed at the border and help in the process of helping these children and the president hasn't done that yet but he said OK, well, I could do that if you guys will agree to pass this supplemental request for nearly $4 billion -- Anderson.

COOPER: It's interesting, though, I mean, the president talked about a lot of his officials visiting the border many times. The president himself not visiting the border, that's drawn a lot of attention. Many in his own party were calling for him to go down there. He was asked about it during the press conference, I want to play his response.


OBAMA: This isn't theater. This is a problem. I'm not interested in photo-ops, I'm interested in solving a problem.


COOPER: I mean, you could say, though, it's not just a photo-op, that he could have made a strong statement on the border. KOSINSKI: Right. Yes, this has been a weird situation from almost

whatever angle you look at it and it's almost gotten to the point that now, you think, well, if the president does go down to the border after all this daily pressure from Republicans and even some Democrats, then it looks like he's just bowing to the pressure.

It might also be, according to some analysts, that maybe he doesn't want this to look like as big a problem it is. But if he calls that a photo op and theater, when he goes to visit victims of a tornado or a mudslide, is he saying that that's just a photo op and just theater?

So the White House is aware that it doesn't look good even to many Democrats but are they going to go down there? We don't know at this point -- Anderson.

COOPER: Dana, to the point of immigration reform and the supplemental bill, which the president was pushing today, partisan politics are a very real issue obviously in Washington. The president addressed that, as well, today. I want to play that.


OBAMA: I think it's fair to say that these days in Washington, everybody is always concerned about everything falling victim to the partisan politics. You know, if I sponsored a bill declaring an apple pie American, it might fall victim to partisan politics. I get that.


COOPER: There is partisan politics, though, Dana, being played on both sides around this issue. I mean, Republicans say look, what about repealing the law or changing the law that was passed in 2008 that is permitting this special treatment of kids not from Mexico, but kids from other parts of -- from parts of Central America. For Democrats, that's no go for a lot of reasons.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's exactly right. On that, I think, too, to be fair, that's actually probably more of a substantive difference than political difference, but -- of course, Anderson, I mean, nobody in this town could say with a straight face that there aren't politics involved in this.

In general when you talk about immigration and right now when you look at the calendar, we are July of 2014 in midterm election year and in an election where Republicans are very much focused on their base. And any Republican who has run over the past seven or eight years knows that their base really doesn't want them to do anything except talk very loudly about securing the border.

So of course, he's right, you know, if apple pie as American were attached to border security, he might have a better -- better chance.

COOPER: Well, also, Dana, with the crisis unfolding bringing the lack of immigration reform back to the forefront, do you think Congress might have more of an appetite to pass legislation? I mean, Congressman Cantor losing, you know, many thought immigration reform was dead. Could this crisis resurrect it or is that a no go?

BASH: Before this midterm election, November 2014, no go. It's just not going to happen and let me tell you why, you know, when the president talks about the politics here, he is right to really far extend in this sense. There are a number of Republicans who want to do immigration reform but agree tactically that the speaker should not do it now because, again, this is an election, midterm election where they want to fire up their base and this would simply divide them.

Instead they said, well, you know what, let's wait until after this election and focus on a very different electorate which the National Republican Party. The question now if -- whether this has gotten so calcified, if even that is going to happen before the end of the president's term.

COOPER: Dana, appreciate it. Michelle Kosinski, as well. Stay with us Dana, we're going to come back to you shortly.

We're certainly hearing a lot from the president and others tonight, loud impatience with the politics surrounding the entire issue, significantly complicating not just his efforts but any efforts from either party to figure out what to do.

Take today's meeting, until he changed his mind late today, Texas Governor Rick Perry didn't even want to be caught on camera out on the tarmac shaking the president's hand. Didn't want to do what Republican Chris Christie did or Republican Arizona Governor Jan Brewer then Republican Governor Charlie Crist.

They took heat from their party and the climate has gotten even more partisan, even hasher since then which may explain recent remarks about the immigration crisis from Governor Perry that are raising eyebrows because in addition to being factually unfounded, they are pure partisan red meat. They're also not entirely in character for the governor who after all runs a state full of immigrants, legal and otherwise.

Now listen to Governor Perry at a Republican primary debate just a couple of years ago talking about educating undocumented immigrants.


GOV. RICK PERRY (R), TEXAS: But if you say that we should not educate children who have come into our state for no other reason than they have been brought there by no fault of their own, I don't think you have a heart. We need to be educating these children because they will become a drag on our society.


COOPER: Well, he quickly recanted that, by the way. Even so, the Rick Perry of 2011 never went as far as Rick Perry has gone these days on immigration or the Obama administration. Here is what he said last month about the current crisis.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) PERRY: You either have an incredible inept administration or they're in on this somehow. I mean, I hate to be conspiratorial but, I mean, how do you move that many people from Central America across Mexico and then into the United States without there being a fairly coordinated effort?


COOPER: Now that's basically the classic "I'm not saying anything, I'm just saying strategy."

"Keeping Them Honest," though, the governor doesn't offer up any facts to back up his coordinated effort claim. Earlier that day, though, he did, however, make this factual claim.


PERRY: We have record-high numbers other than Mexicans being apprehended at the border. These are people that are coming from states like Syria that have substantial connections back to terrorist regimes and terrorist operations. So we're seeing record high, historic high numbers of these individuals being apprehended.


COOPER: Wow, so extraordinary claims that require extraordinary evidence, right?

Well, we called the governor's office, they couldn't even provide us ordinary evidence for that one. In fact, they didn't provide anything at all. The non-partisan fact-checkers of PolitiFact, though, did give that one their lowest rating, "Pants on Fire." State officials could offer no facts to back up the claim.

The governor's office at one point referred reporters to a spokesman for the State Department of Public Safety. He also could offer no specifics. And while it's true the number of non-Mexicans detained at the border has soared, those tens of thousands are Central Americans. Immigration authorities telling PolitiFact that last year they detained two Nigerians, three Pakistanis, one Egyptian and no Syrians.

Governor Perry, though, he's not only Texas lawmaker making these kind of claims.


REP. LOUIE GOHMERT (R), TEXAS: I talked to a retired FBI agent who said that one of the things they were looking at is terrorist cells overseas who had figured out how to game our system and it appeared they would have young women who became pregnant, would get them into the United States to have a baby, they wouldn't even have to pay anything for the baby, and then they would return back where they could be raised and coddled as future terrorists.

And then one day 20, 30 years down the road they could be sent in to help destroy our way of life because they figured out how stupid we are being in this country.


COOPER: That's Louie Gohmert back in June of 2010 on the House floor, talking about terror babies.

Congressman Gohmert had absolutely no facts to back that up because there are no facts to back it up, not then and not two months later when he came on the program.


GOHMERT: You're going to keep me honest? You tell the world that you got an FBI statement, you bring on a retired FBI former supervisor, and he says we were not aware of any credible report that this was going on?

I brought it to the attention of America for this reason. It was -- I'm a former judge. I know --


COOPER: Did you bring it to the attention of the FBI? Did you call the FBI? That's my question.

GOHMERT: He first brought it to my attention on the -- she brought it to my attention on an airplane having flown together and she brought that to my attention. That's why I was talking to the retired FBI agent about it. And so having talked to him, no, I didn't talk to them because the point is when we did the research, we found the hole existed. Now if you want --


COOPER: Wait, what research -- what research? Could you tell us about the research?

GOHMERT: You're attacking the messenger. Anderson, you're better than this. You used to be good. You used to find that there was a problem and you would go after it.


COOPER: I used to be good. By the way, he's never talked about this again, nor has anyone ever offered any evidence of this and the FBI says this just never happened but he talked about it on the House floor, anyway.

Governor Perry, we should say, is no Louie Gohmert. We should add there are many ways to criticize the president's handling of immigration -- the immigration mess that do not involve terror babies or Syrian sleepers or presidential plots to unleash a human flood that so that mainly seems to be damaging this administration.

Now joining us, Jorge Ramos, anchor of Univision's "America with Jorge Ramos," also back with us chief congressional correspondent, Dana Bash. Let's also bring in senior political analyst David Gergen.

Dana, you've been following Governor Perry's presidential ambitions. Many saying he's all but certain to run in 2016. Is that what's driving much of this?

BASH: Well, I talked to a lot of people close to Governor Perry. They insists it's not what's driving him, this whole focus, because it is a very real crisis in his state and he is the sitting governor. However, it is a happy political event. That sounds horrible to say and crass but let's just -- this is the reality.

It may be beneficial is a better way to say it because remember, and you played it, in 2012 the last time he ran, he really hurt himself with the Republican base when he said that those who don't support in- state tuition for the children of illegal immigrants don't have a heart. That is -- was absolutely the thing those close to him tell me that hurt him the most with Republican based voters, so this gives him an opportunity to get right with the Republican base and to hit the their chief opponent, President Obama.

COOPER: Jorge, how do you think this is being seen by Hispanic voters, this crisis in particular?

JORGE RAMOS, UNIVISION ANCHOR, AMERICA WITH JORGE RAMOS: I really can't believe that we're basing our immigration policy on mass deportations. I thought that was resolved when Mitt Romney suggested self-deportation and killed off the election. And now I'm hearing President Barack Obama and Governor Perry and Democrats and Republicans agreeing on mass deportations.

When we're talking about these children, I think we have to talk about humanitarian crisis and we have to treat these children as children. We have to treat them as if they are our own children.

Finally, I think President Barack Obama said the most likely these children will be deported, well, the facts are different. If you talk about the 24,000 children that came to this country last year, the majority of them are staying here for a very simple reason, one or two of their parents are still here.

COOPER: Jorge, though, there are plenty of viewers who are going to be hearing that and say well, look, doesn't that -- won't that encourage even more, another wave of kids to come, more and more children to keep coming?

RAMOS: Yes, it's true, absolutely, but the fact is that they have been talking about what is pushing them away from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. And we know and we've known for decades, it's nothing new, that it has to do with poverty, has to do with unemployment, has to do with gangs.

That hasn't changed, Anderson. You know that. That hasn't changed in decades. What's new, is that there is a new law in 2008 and what's new is the perception that if you come here and that if children can cross the border, that they won't be deported. COOPER: David, certainly the president of the United States is

agreeing with Jorge, is saying he's tossing this to Congress saying pass supplemental, that way change will happen.

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: He is. And the president very carefully, very low-key statement tonight in which he treated this, didn't ever mention the word emergency or crisis. He's trying to take the heat out of this story, I think, in some ways. He clearly does not want to have mass deportation and wants to put the blame on Congress. But -- and I agree with Jorge.

Listen, the children are central to what we now do but the fact is, the reason we have this massive number of children arriving, we've got a humanitarian crisis is because they do think it's a permissive sieve policy and to invite more parents to send their children, 13, 12, 10- year-old kids unaccompanied on a 2,000-mile journey, a harrowing 2,000-mile journey, 45 days in which they can get raped, molested, they may die, seems to me is not in the best interest of the children.

What we ought to be doing is treat the ones who've gotten here with as much care and compassion as we can. Maybe we need to find homes for them in some placed. But we've got to work with people on the ground back in these three countries. The three most silent countries or the most violent countries in the world so that they can -- children can live peacefully in their own countries.

COOPER: David, the fact that the president --


RAMOS: David, I --

COOPER: Go ahead, Jorge.

RAMOS: Yes, I'm sorry, Anderson, but I completely agree with you, David, but the fact is that it is very risky, of course, for them to come here but they know it's a dry feet, wet feet policy that we have now with Central American children. They know that. And if you are in Central America, if your family is making $5,000 a year or if a gang member threatened you, to kill you or your family if you don't give them $1,000 or if you don't join the gangs, and then you have the reward of coming to the United States, you're going to be coming.

Again, it's a tragedy but the fact is that this is happening simply because in Washington no one is doing absolutely nothing about immigration reform. These are the consequences. We have to pay for those consequences and that's what we're seeing right now at the border.

BASH: But one thing is, I will add to that, Jorge, you talked about the 2008 law, that is being hotly, hotly debated right now on Capitol Hill and there is really no clear end in sight to that because you have some people mostly Democrats who don't want to change that law for the reasons that, Jorge, you just gave, that they believe that the Central American countries are so -- are so horrible that the children especially who make it here should get the right to a hearing and shouldn't automatically be sent back like the children from Mexico and Canada, which actually, obviously matters less and then you have mostly Republican whose are saying they are not going to support any kind of funding to fix this problem.

If they don't have policy changes and number one in those policy changes is to change that 2008 law to put that revolving door back there so that the children who are coming from Central American countries are sent back immediately so they don't have the incentive to cross the border the way they do now.

COOPER: David, was it even a mistake for the president no to visit the border?

GERGEN: I think it was a mistake. I think it signals to the Central American country, both about compassion but about the fact that the United States really discourages people from coming.

I think it would have been -- it would have been a wonderful platform for him to broadcast to the world, just as, you know, we had a Kennedy who went to the wall in Berlin and Reagan went to the wall. I think -- I think the responsibility of a president is to take the moral high ground and do it from a really important platform and that's at the border.

COOPER: We got to leave it there. Jorge Ramos, David Gergen, and Dana Bash, thank you so much.

A quick reminder. Set your DVR so you watch 360 whenever you'd like.

Coming up next, more on the human factor behind this wave of immigrants. A rare look at a spot on Mexico's border. Mexico's border is Guatemala, where coming north can be as simple as taking a zip line or a rope ferry across a river. You're looking at live pictures there.

Also ahead, rockets fired by Hamas reaching deep into Israel, as airstrikes pound the Gaza Strip. New signs tonight that an Israeli ground offensive could come soon. We're there on the ground when we continue.


COOPER: Hey, welcome back. We talked at the top of the broadcast about how politically contentious anything involving immigration has become. More so even during the 2012 presidential campaign. We talked about the politics of it and the wild claims surrounding it, the scare tactics, hyperbole, but also the real policy failures in dealing with it.

At the end of the day, though, this is a profoundly human story that begins for many in some of Central America's poorest and most violent countries that moves north from crossing points along Mexico's southern border to border towns in this country.

We are in both places tonight starting with Gary Tuchman who's live on the Mexico-Guatemala border -- Gary. GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, when people cross

from Mexico into the United States, they have to do it clandestinely, it's potentially dangerous and expensive. They hire coyotes that costs hundreds of thousands of dollars. But right now I'm in Guatemala. This is a river that separate Guatemala from Mexico across the lake and these are rafts that you see in the river.

All you need here, it's not expensive. All you need here is a little more than a buck to get on the raft. It's easy and it's open. This is the Suchiate River which separates Mexico from Guatemala. Right now we're in Guatemala, the western most port of the country, across the river, the southernmost part of Mexico and you could see throughout this river there are rafts of people who are trying to get across the border and they're doing it very easily. This is very unlike the border going to the United States where you have to be secretive about it.

I want to give you a look here to give you an idea of how open this is. There are police here. There are police all over here and no one minds that people are going across the river from here in Guatemala into Mexico.

You can see this family of three, a mother, a father, and their little boy. They told me a short time ago they're getting ready to go on this raft. The rafts are made with these huge inner tubes and they're getting ready to go across from here in Guatemala into Mexico. They are hoping also to get into the United States.

This river is active from sunrise to sunset and in addition to all the police being here not caring that people are crossing from here in Guatemala to Mexico, what's really amazing is about a mile in this direction is the official border station. The official border station is right down there. So even though the Border Patrol people from Guatemala and Mexico work over there, they don't seem to care either. This is a very active business. And the going rate right now for crossing is the equivalent of a $1.30.

And this is the family we just met, a little child and his parents, the man in the red shirt with the stick is the pilot of this raft. This guy that just got the $1.30. Typically what happens they will go to the other side, they will go into Mexico. There are taxis and vans and also bicycle taxis on the other side which will take them in a lot of cases to a nearby city in Mexico called Tapachula. In Tapachula they'll stay in shelters and then try to figure out where to go from there. But it is a long way from Tapachula, Mexico, the southern part of Mexico right here to the United States. It could take them weeks to get there, if they get there successfully and that's an open question.

The police are not only friendly here, they're actually encouraging us to go for a ride on one of the rafts, they're saying, yes, go into Mexico, so we are. And this is our skipper.

Your name, sir?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Paluco (ph). TUCHMAN: This is Paluco. We paid him $1.30 already to go on the raft

with him.

Paluco, is this a fun job?


TUCHMAN: Fun? Easy?


TUCHMAN: You like taking people into Mexico?


TUCHMAN: OK. People leave Guatemala, come with Paluco, he takes them to Mexico and then if they succeed, they end up in the United States but if you do this in the Rio Grande in Texas, you're going to be in a lot of trouble. You can't do it in front of cops. But here with Paluco, you can do it in front of everybody.

Paluco is now taking us into Mexico but unlike most of the people on the river, we're going to head back into Guatemala and spend the next couple of hours watching people continue to cross this river heading north.


COOPER: I mean, it's amazing just in this leg, Gary, how easy it is.

Are people on the rafts you talked to, are they worried about what's ahead of them? I mean, you've seen, you know, kids riding on the top of trains. It's incredibly dangerous, a lot can happen to these kids along the way.

TUCHMAN: Hey, we've been here for a couple of hours, Anderson. This young lady right here, she is about to head to Mexico. She wants to eventually meet her family in the United States. She's a little shy right now.

People we've been talking to aren't scared. They are a bit apprehensive, they're anxious, they're nervous, they're excited, but everyone we talked to knows someone who successfully made it to the United States and says they have a better life there and that's why they want to do it, too.

One more thing I want to tell you, Anderson, just to make clear, the coyotes who take you from Mexico to the United States charge hundreds of dollars, sometimes thousands of dollars but here that doesn't happen. And you can cross for free in some spots, you can walk across some of the water so shallow, but right here, literally is $1.30. That's all it takes to get into Mexico and start your journey to the United States.

COOPER: Wow. Gary, appreciate that. Thanks very much. From that border, migrants make their way north through Mexico into

Texas. Now many families are caught, some turn themselves in. After processing the overburdened system in so many words hand them off to others with a few pieces of paper, including one requiring that they go before a court that will almost certainly send them back home.

Rosa Flores picks the story in McAllen, Texas.


ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): After traveling hundreds of miles, these Central American families find a glimmer of hope at a temporary shelter at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in McAllen, Texas.

Most are fleeing violence and poverty in their home countries, arriving exhausted with nothing but the clothing on their backs, laceless shoes and a manila folder handed to them by immigration officials with documents in English. They say they don't understand.

Daisy Villanueva says she traveled with her 2-year-old son Stanley by foot and by bus from her home country of Honduras, nearly 1500 miles until she made it to America. Then turned herself into immigration authorities. Few meals along the way, the fear and trauma still clear on this family's face. She didn't leave anyone behind, but hopes to reunite with her husband in North Carolina.

Not the case for Sergio Volanos (ph). He left a wife and two children in Guatemala, making the dangerous journey with his 9-year-old son Vidal who was anxious to change his dirty clothing and sit down to eat a meal.

Sergio says he crossed the border and turned himself into immigration, spent three days with his son in a detention center, was assigned a court date to face an immigration judge and was set free at a bus station. That's how thousands of people end up in temporary shelters like this one.

(on camera): This facility sees between 150 and 180 people a day. Take a look around. It's a quick stop. They get fresh clothing, a blanket for the road and shoes and snacks for their bus ride and if there is time, they get a quick shower.

(voice-over): Sister Norma Pimentel established this temporary shelter a month ago and has already served more than 3,000 people.

SISTER NORMA PIMENTEL, CATHOLIC CENTER OF RIO GRANDE VALLEY: They may be stripped of everything but one thing they have is their faith. I think this is a beautiful encounter of faith alive, you know, amongst our people.

FLORES: It's the common story here. She says she wants to protect her son from the constant sound of gunshots from her neighborhood and dead bodies on the streets. For Sergio, he says he's escaping the extreme poverty in Guatemala where he had trouble putting food on the table working in agriculture. As he and his son boarded a bus to reunite with family in California, it was left up to them to honor the immigration court date in that paperwork in the manila folder. Sergio wouldn't say if they plan to show up for the court hearing.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Rosa Flores joins us now. It is confusing what happens to these immigrants after they are apprehended. After they are processed, they are allowed to go free as we saw with that family until they are actually scheduled to go to this court hearing, right?

FLORES: You're absolutely right, and that's the crazy part when you really think about it. Here is how this goes down, so a person gets detained here in the Rio Grande River that you see behind me and they do get processed by immigration. After that, after the fingerprinting and the immigration decides they can either wait for their court hearing while they are detained or they are set free. Everyone, Anderson, that we met today was set free. They left on a bus and reuniting with their families.

COOPER: And the unaccompanied kids, they are processed differently?

FLORES: They are. Other federal agencies are involved so yes, they get detained on the Rio Grande River like you see here, but then Health and Human Services gets involved so they get a child wellness exam. They get help because their case is looked at on a case by case basis and one of the key things is, one of the goals is to reunite them with families while they go through the immigration process.

And we understand that about 85 percent of these unaccompanied children are reunited with their families while they wait for the immigration process to go through. And I can tell you from sources that I've been talking to, they tell us that it will take about a year and a half for these children to get processed because it just takes that long to go through the immigration court process in the U.S.

COOPER: All right, Rosa Flores, appreciate the update. Thanks very much.

Up next, former New Orleans mayor, Ray Nagin, remember him? He's going to prison. Found out today he's going to prison for ten years for corruption. Why the punishment does not fit the crime. Drew Griffin is on the case.

Also Israel and Hamas, each pounding targets and a new warning from a leading Israeli this could escalate even more very soon.


COOPER: More threats Israel is on the verge of an all-out ground offense at the Gaza strip. Israel pounded Gaza with more air strikes today, killing at least 19 people, at least 61 Palestinians including women and children have been killed since airstrikes began on Monday. More than 550 have been wounded, that according to Palestinian officials and medical sources. At the same time militants in Gaza are firing wave after wave of rockets deep inside Israel. Seventy two missiles hit Israel today according to the military, some fired in the city where Israel has a nuclear reactor. It wasn't hit or damaged.

Israel has troops in place at the border of Gaza. The military has been authorized to call up 40,000 troops if needed. In a tweet today Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the operation will be expanded and will continue until the firing at our community stops and quiet is restored.

Israeli President Shimon Peres told CNN in an exclusive interview that a ground offensive may happen, quote, "quite soon." Our Ben Wedeman joins me now from Gaza City. So Israel is stepping up in Gaza today. What is the latest there tonight?

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It's quiet at the moment, Anderson. It's 3:30 in the morning, but about 15 minutes ago, we heard what sounded like naval bombardment on to targets within Gaza City. The evening was fairly bloody for other parts of the Gaza strip to the south of here, a family home was hit, seven people killed. Children among them.

And another place in the same town, a cafe, outdoor cafe where people apparently were watching the World Cup being played, that got hit, as well. Conformation that five people were killed there. We have seen fairly steady strikes on Gaza today, Anderson, and what we're not seeing, however, is people on the street unlike yesterday it appears most people want to stay inside, stay out of harm's way -- Anderson.

COOPER: Ben, Israeli troops have mobilized along the border, right?

WEDEMAN: To a certain extent, as you mentioned, the cabinet has authorized the call up of as many as 40,000 troops, but that number doesn't appear to have actually been mobilized and deployed along the Gaza border. So preparations are being made, the language as we heard from the prime minister and president points in the direction of an escalation, however.

COOPER: You can hear the call in the background. How much support does Hamas have in Gaza now?

WEDEMAN: Not an awful lot. A lot of people simply see this current flare up as a disruption. Life is already difficult enough when the rockets start to fly and Israel strikes back, it makes life harder for many. As the death toll rises and our numbers point to more than 70 dead at this point since the beginning of this offensive, people, the anger starts to take the edge of the resentment against Hamas and people start to talk for the need for revenge. Hamas still isn't popular in Gaza, but the anger against Israel is rising here -- Anderson?

COOPER: Thanks very much. Be careful. There is more we're following tonight. Susan Hendricks has 360 Bulletin and she has breaking news out of Tennessee. SUSAN HENDRICKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Anderson, a manhunt is now underway for a suspect wanted for a shooting at a National Guard armory in Western Tennessee. It's near the town of Lyndon. Investigators are saying one person was seriously injured. We're following that story.

Also, a military source says Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl is just about done with his final phase of reintegration and is expected soon to be assigned to a new Army unit. He was health captive by the Taliban for five years before being set free in May.

Talk about a wedding crasher, imagine this, this Canada couple did say calm. Her photographer was excited and dreamed of a day like this and says they were never in any danger.

COOPER: The photos -- that doesn't look real but that's incredible.

HENDRICKS: Doesn't. Photographer loved it.

COOPER: All right, pretty amazing. Susan, thanks very much.

Up next, former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin after Katrina, Americans took him and his city to heart. Now authorities are taking him to prison. The sentence in the incredible story behind it coming up.

Plus, online postings believed to be by Justin Harris are raising questions in the wake of his toddler's death in a hot car.

Also, we have new details about the re-enactment authorities staged in the parking lot where Cooper Harris died.



COOPER: Excuse me, Senator, sorry to interrupt, I haven't heard that because for the last four days I've been seeing dead bodies in the streets here in Mississippi and to listen to politicians thanking each other and complimenting each other, you know, I got to tell you, there are a lot of people here who are very upset and very angry and very frustrated and when they hear politicians thanking one another, it just, you know, cuts them the wrong way right now.

Because literally, there was a body on the streets of this town yesterday being eaten by rats because this woman had been laying in the street for 48 hours and there is not enough facilities to take her up.


COOPER: Ray Nagin was the mayor of New Orleans back then. It turns out he was cashing in as mayor during his two terms in office. Nagin accepted hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes and kickbacks, some from those who wanted hurricane recovery work. He got cash for his family business and free trips. Today, he learned his punishment. His next trip will be to federal prison for ten years. Drew Griffin reports.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What the state was doing, I don't freaking know, but I tell you I am mad.

DREW GRIFFIN, CNN SENIOR INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): As a politician, Ray Nagin always attracted attention as here in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, but now he's facing a very different kind of attention, the New Orleans mayor-elected as a reformer vowing to sweep corruption from the city left a federal courthouse today a convicted felon, sentenced to ten years in prison.

Prosecutors in this federal corporation probe say Nagin accepted hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes, kickbacks and even free granite for his family business, a mayor on the tape almost from when he took office.

MATT CONAN, ASSISTANT U.S. ATTORNEY: What Ray Nagin did was sell his office over and over and over again.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That's a lie. We refute that lie.

CONAN: The damage inflicted upon this community to include, you, Ma'am, to include you.

GRIFFIN: Even for a city accustomed to public corruption, it is a remarkable fall from grace and ends an era most in New Orleans would like to forget. Elected in 2002, his terms in office would be defined by three years later when Hurricane Katrina barrelled down on a city that sits below sea level.

A lack of hurricane preparations, inadequate evacuations and a police force in shambles left the city and its mayor literally pleading for help. Nagin angrily speaking out on New Orleans radio blasting then President George Bush for the federal government's lack of response.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Don't tell me 40,000 people are coming here. They not here. It's too dog gone late. Get off your behind and let's do something and let's fix the biggest crisis in the history of this country.

GRIFFIN: As the city recovered, Nagin kept talking suggesting God was using hurricanes to punish America for invading Iraq and said this about possible attempts to remove New Orleans mostly black population from the rebuilt future.

RAY NAGIN, FORMER NEW ORLEANS MAYOR: This city will be chocolate at the end of the day. Icing on the cake. This city will be a majority African-American city.

GRIFFIN: It was racially divisive but not enough to stop Nagin from being re-elected and according to prosecutors the rebuilding of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina would only make the New Orleans mayor more powerful in asking for kickbacks and bribes. He continues to profess his innocence but on September 8th, Nagin reports to a Louisiana Federal Prison to begin serving a ten-year sentence.


COOPER: Drew Griffin joins us from Atlanta. Nagin faces ten years but really in a lot of ways that's getting off easy.

GRIFFIN: It is, Anderson. Prosecutors wanted 15 and he could have gotten 20. Only in New Orleans the judge decides on the lesser sentence because Mayor Nagin got the short end of the stick. His share of the profits from this ring is a lot less the judge argues than the people doing the bribing so she gave him a lighter sentence. He's appealing but prosecutors may appeal the light sentence.

COOPER: Amazing. Drew Griffin, thank you very much.

Just ahead, internet postings about fatherhood and babies believed to be by Justin Harris. They seem like they could have been written by two different people and raise the question how did he really feel about being a father? Details ahead.


COOPER: Crime and punishment tonight, we have details about a re- enactment of the authorities in Georgia stage in the very same parking lot were 22-month-old Cooper Harris took his last breaths. It's the latest in the investigation that is moving ahead as Justin Harris, Cooper's father sits in jail without bond.

Harris is charged with murder and child cruelty after leaving his son in the hot car for seven hours. He says it was a terrible accident. Martin Savidge has more now on the re-enactment plus new details about Justin Harris that have surfaced online.


MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Internet postings believed to be by Justin Ross Harris seemed to depict two different people. For instance, last year on what looks to be his Reddit account, Harris talks about his new job and new baby in glowing terms. I am now in my dream job, have a beautiful six month old son and love going to work every day. I couldn't be happier.

Contrast that with this tweet allegedly from Ross Harris to a friend seven months later, new invention snooze button on babies. Of course, amusements of a sleep-deprived parent are nothing unusual, but given the question of him murdering his son gives it new meaning.

Meanwhile, in a suburban Atlanta parking lot, it was disturbing deja vu. In this footage recorded by WAGA, investigators scientifically re-enact the conditions that led to 22-month-old Cooper Harris's death using the same silver SUV, the same child seat in which the toddler died, parked in the same space outside Justin Harris' office.

Detectives could be seen wiring up instruments inside the vehicle and taking readings outside, seemingly coinciding with key moments in the case. The dad maintains he forgot to drop his son off at daycare that day on June 18th, instead leaving him strapped in his car seat for about seven hours before discovering his lifeless body after leaving work.

CNN meteorologist, Chad Myers, says weather-wise the day Cooper died matched almost exactly to the test day.

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Cloud cover, big puffy cumulous clouds coming and going, yesterday and June 18th were about as close as you can get.

SAVIDGE: Using their own measurements of temperatures recorded around the area that day, CNN's experts say the interior of the car where Cooper sat trapped could have reached close to 140 degrees.


COOPER: It's hard to imagine. Martin joins us now from Murrieta, Georgia. You've learned about another alleged social media posting from the dad that could be crucial if the case goes to trial.

SAVIDGE: Yes, has to do with this hearing. This was something brought up in the courtroom last week. It seemed to be a surprise to investigators when the defense attorney asked did you know Justin Ross Harris is deaf in one ear? Well, it turns out according to this web site, this posting that was put up again to Reddit allegedly by Harris.

It says that he was apparently lost his hearing in the right ear as a result of fireworks going off. It actually required surgeries to repair and he is still deaf in the right ear. That right ear would have been closest to his child that was in the car seat, you can bet that will come up greatly at trial.

COOPER: Interesting. Martin Savidge, appreciate it. We'll be right back.


COOPER: Welcome back, because of the breaking news today, President Obama's remarks on the immigration crisis, we ran out of time for "The Ridiculist." We'll have it again tomorrow night, no doubt. Also a quick reminder we're in Central America on the route north that many immigrants are taking, our Gary Tuchman is traveling along with them and will continue to bring you scenes from that journey on the program tomorrow night, as well.

We'll see you again at 11:00 Eastern Time for another edition of 360 tonight. "ANTHONY BOURDAIN PARTS UNKNOWN" starts now.