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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Missouri's Governor Activates National Guard; Bill Cosby Maintains His Silence; Dr. Salia Died of Ebola at Nebraska Medical Center; St. Joseph Indian School Using False Stories to Fundraise; Remembering Peter Kassig
Aired November 17, 2014 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Hey, good evening. Thanks for joining us.
There's a lot going on tonight including a 360 exclusive investigation reveals about yet another charity competing for your sympathy and your dollars.
We begin, though, with breaking news out of Ferguson, Missouri, with a grand jury on the brink of whether to indict Ferguson Officer Michael Wilson in the killing Michael Brown. Missouri's governor Jay Nixon has activated the National Guard.
In addition, we're just now learning that the FBI has issued a bulletin to law enforcement nationwide to be on alert for possible violence when the decision actually comes down. And as if people in the Ferguson area aren't already divided enough, there is also digesting a new batch of information about what exactly happened during the brief and now hotly contested incident. We'll learn all of it tonight from our Sara Sidner.
SARA SIDNER, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): On a day protesters marched to the St. Louis county prosecutor's office building, Missouri's governor declared a state of emergency in preparation for whatever may come when the grand jury releases its decision on whether or not to indict Officer Darren Wilson in the killing of unarmed teen Michael Brown. The St. Louis mayor welcomed the decision.
MAYOR FRANCIS SLAY, ST. LOUIS, MISSOURI: I agree with the governor's decision. And this is why, first of all, we don't know what's going to happen or when it's going to happen or, you know, what the decision is going to be or what the reaction is going to be. I think we need to make sure that we are prepared for whatever may happen.
SIDNER: But the governor's actions had angered some protesters who say their demonstrations have been peaceful for weeks and his decision is premature.
The decision comes after these images of Officer Darren Wilson were released this weekend. The surveillance tapes released to the St. Louis post dispatch show Wilson entering and leaving the police station after the August 9th shooting. Though the images aren't crystal clear, Wilson does not appear to have any major wounds to his face, as initially reported to a source speaking on behalf of Wilson to a local radio station. The police department later said Wilson had no major facial injuries, but had slight swelling.
Also released to the post dispatch, police radio traffic that details the final moments before and after the shooting of Brown. They reveal a better timeline, but sources say when Wilson initially told Brown to get out of the middle of the street, he did not know Brown was the suspect in a theft of cigars. But the audio seems to reveal moments later he realized Brown and his friend fit the description given by this dispatcher.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's with another male, he's got a red cardinals a hat, white t-shirt, yellow sock and khaki shorts. He is walking up --
SIDNER: Wilson is soon heard saying this and going after Brown his and friend.
OFFICER DARREN WILSON, MISSOURI POLICE: 21. Put me in Canfiled with two. And send me another car.
SIDNER: A confrontation then ensues at the car. Forensic evidence reveal in the autopsy later shows two shots were fired inside the car, then more shots rang out, killing Brown.
But you would never know that from the police radio traffic released by the department. All you can hear after the shooting is this, a woman wailing and another officer calling for backup.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Frank 25.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get us several more units over here. There's going to be a problem.
COOPER: Sara Sidner joins us from Ferguson.
We are not hearing any dispatch audio of Office Wilson saying shots have been fired. What's the explanation on that?
SIDNER: You know, we haven't gotten an official from the police department on exactly why we are not hearing that. Whether or not they gave us the entire tapes or whether or not because of the struggle at the car perhaps something happened with the radio. We just don't know the answer to that. We do not have an official answer to that.
But Anderson, I do want to mention something that's just come down from the governor's office. He spoke to reporters on the phone just a few moments ago and said that when this grand jury decision does come down, the Ferguson police department will not be front and center. They will not be in control here. It will be the St. Louis county police department, which has pretty much taken over all the protest duties as well as the Missouri highway patrol -- Anderson.
COOPER: And Sara, do we know how many National Guard personnel there are going to be and how they're going to be deployed? Because before when they were called out, they were limited to being around a command post. They weren't out on the streets. They weren't actually all that visible.
SIDNER: You know, it is a really good question, Anderson. And basically, what we've been hearing from the governor and from the mayor of St. Louis, is that the National Guard will sort of be in the background. Those who will be front and center will be the police departments, three departments, who have all come together in a conglomerate to sort of take care of whatever the needs are of the community both here in Ferguson and around the St. Louis area, that the National Guard will sort of be in the background to assist. And, if need be, they'll start to come forward. But really, it will be police who are taking the initial steps to try to keep calm here.
COOPER: Also, Sara, do we know have they practiced crowd control at all? Because obviously, we all saw the initial -- you know, it was a variety of different law enforcement agencies early on. The previous protests, and there were a number of officers pointing, you know, shotguns, rifles at unarmed protester, and peaceful protester, and that certainly didn't help matters.
SIDNER: Yes, they've been roundly criticized for how the they've responded initially when we are talking about early August 9th, 10th, 11th, and 12th and through then.
Yes, I have seen and have been here two months now and have seen a marked difference in the way St. Louis county police department has treated the protests. And by the way, they've been protesting every single day for more than a hundred days now, definitely a difference.
The St. Louis county police department has said that, yes, they have made some changes. So have other departments. Learn from some of those earlier mistakes that were made that did, in many people's minds, help make the situation worse, not better -- Anderson.
COOPER: All right, Sara Sidner, appreciate the reporting.
There's late word as well tonight about just how far officials went at the time to keep images of protesters off the air waves. We've got an access to FAA audio tape suggesting that local authority sought those temporary flight restrictions, banning helicopters from the area back in August, not for public safety, but to keep news choppers away.
I want to talk about it certainly with our legal analyst and former federal prosecutor both Jeffrey Toobin and Sunny Hostin, also attorney Gail Gear who has worked for decades defending police officers accused of wrongdoing.
Sunny, let me start with you. The governor, basically activating the National Guard, now you have this FBI bulletin. What do you make of all these developments? SUNNY HOSTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: You know, I think to Sara's point,
the protests have been going on for more than 100 days. And those protests have been or demonstration, I like to call them, have been peaceful. And so, I think there has been a real change in how the St. Louis county police department is handling this.
Governor Nixon now calling out the National Guard seems to me to be an escalation of this military style approach that didn't work in first place.
COOPER: You actually think it's a provocation.
HOSTIN: I do. And so, I'm surprised that he did that. I understand needing to be prepared, but you've got three police departments that are prepared and that have, in a sense, gotten to know this community, gotten to know the protester, and so why escalate it. And a lot of people, at least on twitter, and just all over in passing are saying that must mean that he knows that there isn't going to be an indictment here. And I think there could be something to that.
COOPER: Gayle, when you hear that argument being made, what do you think?
GAYLE GEAR, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Our thoughts are really for all the people who are concerned about what happened there. And I think everyone needs to practice something that's difficult for us today and that is patience. This is a process.
So, as we go through the next few days, I think we all going to learn ways in which to deal with each other and to deal with, really, quite a difficult problem, and that is, when these events occurred, we must exercise patience and let the process continue.
COOPER: But Gayle, to those -- specifically, Gayle, to those who say that, you know, the governor coming forward, activating the National Guard at this stage, the FBI putting out this bulletin, do you believe it's a wise, practical maneuver at this point?
GEAR: Well, quite frankly, their job is to make sure the public is protected. They have information that perhaps you and I do not have. And with that information, what they're trying to do, I would assume and expect, that is to protect the public at large and to make sure that those who wish to protest have the ability to do so.
COOPER: Jeff, in terms of the video of Officer Wilson leaving the police station, does it -- I mean, does it make any difference at all to the fact that -- you know, to some, they look that video, grainy, as it is, you can't frankly see much of his face, doesn't appear to have a serious injury on the video. Does it tell you anything about how the altercation could have gone down.
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: You know, it is one piece. But there are so many pieces here. And, frankly, there is so much we still don't know. There's so much evidence we have not seen. Sure, it is one part of the mosaic, but it's just a small part. And I wouldn't draw any conclusions one way or the other about it. COOPER: It is remarkable, Sunny, for all the discussion about this,
when you realize the whole incident took maybe 90 seconds. And again, I mean, for you know, Police officers have an extraordinarily tough job. In 90 seconds for all this to have transpired, whatever you think of this, whoever's side you want to be on, if you want to view it as taking sides, it's a very quick, quick interaction.
HOSTIN: And they usually are. Police shootings are usually very, very quickly. All shootings are usually pretty quick.
I think, though, it cuts both ways, right? On the one hand, people are going to say well, this happened so quickly that officer Wilson really had to go with what he thought at the moment.
And so, of course, if he felt threatened because of whatever happened at the car, then perhaps his actions were appropriate or justified. I think on the flip side, people are going to say that this is a police officer trained to have to be able to make these snap judgments, to be able to make these quick decisions and we now know that Michael Brown, it was broad daylight, unarmed with shorts and a t-shirt. That reaction, shooting someone seven times, is that really justifiable?
So, I think actually, I'm going to disagree with Jeff. I think the video is important. Because when this stuff first came up, we know that officer Wilson said that he feared for his life, right, because of this tussle. And early reports, people were saying that he had a significant injury to his eye. Now we're hearing what may be not so, so how did this end up with someone being shot seven times?
COOPER: Jeff, go ahead.
TOOBIN: Well, I mean, I actually going to disagree with Sunny about something else. I actually think 90 seconds is a pretty long time. You know, look at your watch some time at 90 seconds. I mean, we all work in television. We know 90 seconds can take up a lot of time. Think how long that is. Think how much time you can spend thinking about whether to shoot someone in 90 seconds. I mean, that does give Officer Wilson a considerable amount of time to reflect about what he's doing.
So you know, if this had been a 10-second or 5-second incident, which is entirely normal for a police shooting, then, you know, maybe you could say it was a snap judgment. I actually think 90 seconds is a lot of time.
COOPER: But Jeff, we don't know how long the alleged tussle at the vehicle and witnesses said there was some sort of tussle at the vehicle. We don't know how long that went on, for how much time that ate up. So we don't really know the breakdown exactly of, you know, if you break this down into elements of the initial interaction, the words that were exchanged, the tussle at the vehicle and then the, you know, the walking away or running away, whatever exactly happened that ended up with Michael Brown being killed.
TOOBIN: Right. But the core of Officer Wilson's claim is that Michael Brown rushed at him and he had to shoot because this big guy was coming at him. Actually, 90 seconds gives you a considerable amount of time to reflect on a situation. So I actually think the fact that it's 90 seconds hurts officer Wilson's case rather than helps him.
COOPER: Gayle, what do you think?
GEAR: Well, I think just listening to the exchange, we can quickly see why people get confused in trying to make a judgment on this. We do not know enough. And here we have people speculating that were not walking in the shoes of either Michael Brown or Officer Wilson.
And so, here we have people, who without information, speculating on what was going through the mind of either of these people particularly in this case Michael Brown -- officer Wilson as he had to make that split second decision. And I think because we don't have that and because we live in the world really of twitter and facebook and everything has to come to conclusion quickly, we want either the right or the wrong side.
So I'm not in disagreement -- I'm not in agreement with anyone making a snap decision. I'm going to go back to this. We have some mighty good coaches across the country. We have particularly one good coach in Alabama that says, process, be patient. And I would ask those who protests and express their views, those who come to a snap judgment and speculate, I would ask them to respect the process. We have a grand jury, a process. If it should go with an indictment.
HOSTIN: That's been three months. That's a pretty long process. That's a lot of time.
COOPER: Jeff, final thought.
HOSTIN: We've been pretty patient.
TOOBIN: Yes, I mean, yes, there's a process, but if there's no indictment, the process is over. And then it is entirely appropriate to make judgments about whether that was a good process or not. So yes, process is good, but you know, when they're over, it's appropriate to evaluate.
COOPER: Gayle Gear --
GEAR: You must respect a grand jury. That's our government.
COOPER: Gayle gear, appreciate you are being on. Jeff Toobin and Sunny Hostin as well.
GEAR: Another country does it differently.
COOPER: Quick reminder. Make sure you set your DVR so you can watch "360" whenever you want.
Up next, the growing number of sex abuse allegations against Bill Cosby, more women now speaking out. Details on that.
And later, would you write a check to save an abused, abandoned child? Most people would say yes. This school raised millions of dollars from people who did just that. But there's one problem. The school's abused, abandoned fund-raising poster child, he does not exist. And that's not all we discovered. We're Keeping Them Honest.
COOPER: And tonight, Bill Cosby is maintaining his silence even after more women are speaking out accusing him of sexually assaulting them. He's not been charged with any crime. We want to make that very clear. The 77-year-old actor and comedian has built his career on wholesome image, getting laughs and restricted geo-rated jokes and winning legions of fans. He was head the Huxtable clan on the Cosby show, of course.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Daddy, he's coming to pick me up in five minutes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Maybe best known for that sitcom, but creatively, Mr. Cosby has been prolific, writing books, doing stand-ups, making recordings. He's received multiple Emmys and any other act lace (ph) including the presidential Medal of Freedom. His public image, though, is once again under attack.
Gary Tuchman reports.
GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The details of what comedy icon, Bill Cosby, allegedly did to numerous women are graphic and disturbing.
Barbara Bowman alleges she was raped by Cosby when she was a teenaged actress.
BARBARA BOWMAN, ACCUSING BILL COSBY OF RAPE: It was a very controlling and manipulative environment. It was very controlled, very isolated and there were twisted things.
TUCHMAN: Bowman said today nobody believed her a quarter century ago when Cosby drugged and sexually assaulted her on a number of occasions.
BOWMAN: He was Dr. Huxtable. He was America's dad. Everybody loved him. I loved him. I wanted him to be my dad. And nobody would believe me. And I just -- I was so broken down at that point and it had gone through so much of having this -- my mind completely manipulated.
TUCHMAN: Another woman who spoke years ago has now written an essay.
Joan Tarshis saying, I was sickened by what was happening to me and shocked that this man I idolized was now raping me. Of course I told no one. Bowman and Tarshis are two of at least 13 women who have come forward with similar allegations since 2004. When a woman who worked for Temple University, Andrea Constand, accused Cosby of drugging and fondling her. She settled out of court in 2006. But not before another woman, Tamara Green came forward with similar allegations. She spoke on the "Today" show in 2005 claiming Cosby gave her pill she thought were cold medication.
TAMARA, BILL COSBY'S ACCUSER: I actually told him that he would have to kill me, that if he didn't kill me and he tried to rape me, it was going to go very badly. And I was furious and I'm throwing things around. So he, you know, I guess it was inconvenient at that point. I had not been crushed successfully into submission.
TUCHMAN: Bill Cosby has never been charged. And his attorneys have always denied these allegations.
The latest statement reading, over the last several weeks decade-old discredited allegations against Mr. Cosby have resurfaced. The fact that they are being repeated does not make them true. This weekend Cosby and his wife were on NPR being interviewed about her decision to donate some of their art to the Smithsonian.
Host Scott Simon brought up the controversy.
SCOTT SIMON, NOF HOST: This question gives me no pleasure, Mr. Cosby, but there have been serious allegations raised about you in recent days. You're shaking your head no. I'm in the news business. I have to ask the question. Do you have any response to those charges? Shaking your head no. There are people who love you who might like to hear from you about this. I wanted to give you the chance. All right.
TUCHMAN: NBC, which was the home of the Cosby show has been developing a new sitcom with him. Despite calls to pull the project, is network is not yet saying what it plans to do with the show, which NBC has hoped would be as successful as the last Cosby show.
Gary Tuchman, CNN. (END VIDEOTAPE)
COOPER: I want to bring in our legal anal analyst, criminal defense attorney Mark Geragos, who has obviously defended a lot celebrity clients and back with us, former federal prosecutor Sunny Hostin who has prosecuted a good number of sex crimes.
Mark, as I said, you defend a lot of high-profile people. What do you make of all this?
MARK GERAGOS, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, the -- probably most disturbing thing I think has to be the numbers. When you have a similar story told by a number of people, that's what makes it incredibly resonates and why there's so much attention focused to it. Having been on both sides of this, we say there's a presumption of innocence. But I will say when you hear these stories and you hear people talk about being drugged and things the of ha nature, it's very disturbing. COOPER: The silence, Mark, or the non-response, I mean, if you're an
attorney representing someone who is accused of that, is that the best defense in a situation like this?
COOPER: Because I mean, if you say something, you're adding fuel to it, no?
GERAGOS: Well, yes. One of the things that I always laugh about when you have crisis managers is you always say you got to get out there, you got to get out there. Sometimes silence is important or the best way to approach something. But understand in this case they had to walk back also the statement and specifically say that the woman that he had settled with over the weekend, he was not implying anything and the statement was released did not imply anything.
He may be locked up in a settlement agreement whereby that's the reason that provoked the walking back of one of his statements today. And that is troubling also, I think, because if you are innocent, why are you entering into one of these agreements that has you not being able to say anything or denigrate anybody?
COOPER: Sunny, as we said, no charges were ever filed.
COOPER: He hasn't been convicted of anything.
COOPER: Could a criminal case be revisited? Is there a statute of limitation.
HOSTIN: I don't think so. I think the statute of limitations has run on all of this. I don't think these women can bring civil charges, but I think that's what gives the story so much credibility. I mean, we're talking about four women that we know of that have come forward with really nothing to gain. We know about Barbara Bowman, Joan Tarshis, Andrea Constand who settled the case with him and Tamara Green. And in all, it is 13 women. I mean, those numbers, as mark said, are really, really striking. And again, what do they have to gain, Anderson, except for people attacking them which is what we've heard overwhelmingly.
COOPER: But I mean, look, you're a former federal prosecutor, you know people -- again, I'm not taking a position on this. But you know people, you know, with the celebrity people come forward and say all sorts of things.
HOSTIN: And I agree. I think there's always that celebrity piece. And a lot of people don't believe that someone as beloved as Bill Cosby could do something like this. But 13 women who don't know each other are all saying pretty much the same thing. I was drugged, I was raped, I woke up and I can't believe this happened to me and no one believed me. And I've got to tell you, as a prosecutor, that's the kind of case
that you do take because it's almost the Sandusky syndrome. One person may make up a story, two people, but the numbers, the more accusations, the more likely the charges are accurate.
COOPER: Mark, do you think that's true?
GERAGOS: Well, there is something to it. I've been on both sides of this. And you know, some of those women in their descriptions is hauntingly familiar of what Kesh Sha (ph) says happened in the lawsuit that we filed against Dr. Luke, another self-styled doctor who is not really an MD. And when you hear these certain things that and I've defended cases where federal prosecutors have put people on that have given that almost identical story where they've said, you know, I was given a drug, I woke up in the morning, I was naked, I hurt, and it's a disturbing and I think in some ways it resonates. I mean, there is something to it.
HOSTIN: They're very brave to come forward with nothing, nothing to gain.
COOPER: Sunny, appreciate it. Mark Geragos as well.
As you pointed, one of Bill Cosby's accusers Joan Tarshis, who Gary just talked about in his piece, she is going to talk to Don Lemon tonight on CNN at 10:00 p.m. eastern.
As always, you can find out a whole lot more on this story and many others at CNN.com.
Just ahead, in this hour, we're on for two hours tonight. A Sierra Leone surgeon critically ill with Ebola died after flying to Nebraska for treatment. The hospital who saved to other Ebola could not save him. We are going to take a look at his case. And should he have been flown to the United States?
Also tonight, fundraising letters that aren't completely honest. A school admitting it wrote about fake students, some in the name of fake students. The student didn't even exist in order to make money. Get your money. We're Keeping Them Honest.
COOPER: Dr. Martin Salia, a surgeon who contracted Ebola in Sierra Leone was being treated at the University of Nebraska. He died early this morning.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. DAN JOHNSON, UNIV. OF NEBRASKA MEDICAL CENTER: Despite the amazing care of our nurses and respiratory therapists, he progressed to the point of cardiac arrest and we weren't able to get him through this.
(END VIDEO CLIP) COOPER: Dr. Salia's condition was extremely critical according to his doctors when he arrived late Saturday afternoon. His kidneys had shut down, he was unresponsive, they said he needed a ventilator to breathe. He was given two experimental treatments including the drug ZMapp, supportive care that his described as aggressive. Two other Ebola patients treated at the University of Nebraska survived. Dr. Salia and Thomas Duncan are the only Ebola patients who have died in the United States. Our chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta joins me now.
So, Sanjay, by all account, by the time Dr. Salia arrived in Nebraska, he was already critically ill. Was he too sick for the treatments and the supportive care to work?
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, there have been a couple of important lessons to that very question, Anderson, and that is that even when people are quite sick doing more aggressive measures such as doing dialysis, putting someone on a breathing machine, they've had success with that, for example at Emory, they've talked about being aggressive. So, the idea that was he too sick to actually get this treatment? I don't think so. That's part of the reason I think he was coming here. We also know that he was able to essentially walk on the plane when he was leaving West Africa. So that is - if he had a significant decline over a short period of time, you'd still want to try everything you could to try and to save him.
COOPER: The dose he received of ZMapp, I thought the supply had been exhausted or at least when you and I were in Dallas covering the situation in Dallas I guess more than a month ago, the government said it had been exhausted. Has it been replenished?
GUPTA: No, it doesn't sound like it's been replenished. The confusion is this, Anderson, that there were some doses given out to a few hospitals prior. So this wasn't anything recent, but there were some dozes -this sounds like a dose that was sitting in a hospital that had not yet been used and was sent to Nebraska at the request of the physicians over there. So it wasn't any new dose that had been manufactured, just one that hadn't been used yet.
COOPER: Was that a doze, do we know if it was sent from Africa or was it a dose elsewhere in the United States?
GUPTA: What it sounds like it was a dose sitting in a hospital here in the United States and then sent to Nebraska at their request. We've called the company, talked to the company, they, again, re- emphasized they haven't replenished the supply, so to speak, but that was what they think most likely happened.
COOPER: It's also confusing because there're reports that the first tests for Ebola with the doctor came back negative.
GUPTA: This is confusing as well. And, you know, I'm not exactly sure. We tried to really drill down and figure out what likely happened there. It's possible the test just was - the test did not accurately diagnose him. But the other thing that comes up often, Anderson is that the way the test works is you're basically trying to find the virus in the blood stream. If someone doesn't have enough virus in their blood stream, the likelihood of the test coming back positive goes down significantly. But as we've talked about you become sick as the virus increases in your blood and the bodily fluids. So when someone is sick, if they get a test, it should come back positive. What we don't know is was he sick, was he just concerned, what sort of state was he in when he had that first test performed.
COOPER: All right. Dr. Sanjay Gupta. Sanjay, thank you.
GUPTA: You got it, Anderson, thank you.
COOPER: Up next, a private school that's raking in tens of millions of dollars, money that it solicits with stories of fake students that some Native Americans are calling deeply offensive. We'll keep them honest tonight.
COOPER: Keeping them honest tonight, new questionable fundraising, now this time from a private school seeking your hard-earned money. There's actually a pretty good chance that you've seen their pleas for money land at your doorstep in one of their mailers. They send out a ton of mailers, mailers like this, and like this one. Maybe you've seen them in your mail. They send out millions of these. Ever since we started reporting on charities seeking donations we've been hearing about this charity called St. Joseph Indian School in South Dakota, particularly because the children who go there sound so sad, beaten by their fathers, thrown out by their mothers, young Native Americans on the brink who are saved by this small school. All, of course, told through poignant letters seeking your help for the school. Letters like this one.
Take a look. Here is St. Joseph's, that's a real boarding school for Native American kids affiliated with the branch of the Catholic Church. It sits on the banks of Missouri River in Chamberlain, South Dakota. And as we found, it looks pretty nice. Well, it ought to. Last year alone donors sent this school $51 million. Now, it turns out the school sends out 30 million mailings every single year and it's collected a fortune using these stories about the Native American kids who go there. Senior investigative correspondent Drew Griffin and senior producer David Fitzpatrick traveled to the school to track down the truth behind those stories. It's kind of a shocker.
Here's Drew's report.
DREW GRIFFIN, CNN SENIOR INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: The pleas for help from St. Joseph Indian School, 30 million pieces of mail a year, arrive with dream catchers, note pads, return address labels, but at the heart are the very personal letters testimonials written by Native American children who need your help like other kids here, Josh writes, in what seems to be a child's handwriting, "My home on the reservation isn't a safe place for me to be. My dad sometimes drinks and hits me. My mom didn't want me anymore. She chose drugs over me." Josh, pictured here, thanks the would-be donor for keeping him and others safe so we don't have to live like this anymore.
It's a letter designed to tug at your heartstrings, to get you to open up your pocketbook and send a check to this school. The problem is it's also not entirely true. Josh Littlebear is not a real person. That picture you see in the corner, that's not Josh Littlebear. The school admits they do push the edge on their marketing, enough to take in $51 million last year.
In a letter to CNN, the school's marketing director admitted there is no Josh Littlebear. He's fictitious. But the school insists Josh's letter is a true story of the very real and challenging situations that far too many children face. Yet, what the Better Business Bureau calls misleading pleas continue. Just this month the school's Christmas packet is arriving. Complete with the touching story of an eight-year-old Native American girl named Emily High Elk. And yes, the school concedes, she's not a real child either. Jona Ohm, the school's communication director and Mike Terrell, the president of the school agreed to meet us in the lobby of the school's museum. Obviously you're running a pretty nice place here. And the basic question that we have is why -- why do you go through these 30 million mailings a year, why do you have these sob stories? There was a pause. Mike Tyrell, the president of the school, agreed to meet us in the lobby of the school's museum.
(on camera): Obviously, you are running a pretty nice place here. And the basic question that we have is why - why did you go through this 30 million mailings a year? Why do you have this substories?
(voice over): There was a pause, Mike Tyrell wiped his shoes, then the communications director Jona Ohm told us this.
JONA OHM, ST. JOSEPH'S INDIAN SCHOOL COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: Just to be clear, you don't have permission to record us in any way, shape or form.
GRIFFIN (on camera): OK.
(voice over): After asking us to turn off our camera, we were given a tour of the campus, the school officials promised to meet us the next day, but the next day on advice from an attorney the school declined any further comment.
30 minutes north of St. Joseph's Indian School is a real Indian reservation. Leonard Pease is the tribal vice chairman of the Crow Creek Sioux. He's among many here angry at how St. Joe's, a school run by non-Indians, is raising a fortune off of racial stereotypes with lines like "my dad sometimes drinks and hits me, and my mom chose drugs over me."
(on camera): So, what do you think about that?
LEONARD PEASE, VICE CHAIRMAN, CROW CREEK SIOUX: I think it's awful BS.
GRIFFIN: It's all BS?
PEASE: First of all, I don't know who Josh Llittlebear is and there ain't no Josh Littlebears around here. And I knew this was going on for a long time. That's how they get their money. And to me, they make the Indians look bad.
GRIFFIN (voice over): 23-year-old Joel Bishop is the youngest member of the Crow Creek Tribal Council.
JOEL BISHOP, COUNCIL MEMBER, CROW CREEK SIOUX: They brought in $51 million last year. Well, I'm sure maybe a lot of that money is being used for Native American kids, but they need to tell the right story and, I don't know, making up names and using these kind of stereotypes on children, you know, that's just -- I don't know, it blows my mind.
GRIFFIN: The fact is the money is being used for the right reasons. At least as far as CNN was allowed to see. The 200 Native American children are going to this boarding school. They seem happy, well fed and housed, but in the long run, actual Native Americans question if the school's fake pleas built on stereotypes are actually helping Native Americans or making them look like pathetic charity cases. Michael Roberts, who runs a multi-tribal foundation called First Nation, has a name for misleading pleas like this -- poverty porn.
MICHAEL ROBERTS, FIRST NATIONS DEVELOPMENT: To treat them, you know, as less than people, as the savages they hope to portray them I think is a very dangerous thing. And not very - I think not very nice.
GRIFFIN: Though many have complained to CNN about these mailings and fictitious pleas for help, they appear to work. St. Joseph's Indian School continues to rake in a small fortune in donations.
COOPER: So the school actually sent out a mailer saying kids could possibly freeze because of heating bills. Is that actually true, can the school not pay its heating bills?
GRIFFIN: That plea which was pointed out by the Better Business Bureau asked for this urgent assistance, Anderson, to keep our Lakota students warm. It came the same year the school had $64 million in unrestricted assets. There was never an urgent need. Last year alone as we've reported, this school brought in $51 million paid its fundraiser about half that and still recorded assets of $122 million. This is a real money maker.
COOPER: So, they paid their fundraiser about half the money, it's about half the money that's being donated goes to a fundraiser. Why do they need to stretch the truth, though?
GRIFFIN: That's the big question. The president told us off camera that it was a good question we were asking, admitting that they're pushing the edge on their pleas, but this is why they do it. They do it because gullible donors who don't check out the charity watch dog ratings give money and give lots of it. We've been hearing about St. Joe's for years, Anderson. We finally went out there to check it out. You know, people still give money. They get these fake made in China dream catchers, and they think they're helping these Indian kids and the kids are all fake in these letters.
COOPER: It's always fascinating to - I mean if a charity was legitimate, they'd want coverage, they'd want people to bring their cameras in and they would want to show you their good works. And want to talk to you on camera. It always raises my suspicion when suddenly they're like oh, no cameras, get out of here. We don't want to talk to you. All right, Drew, I appreciate the reporting. We'll keep - next, and only on "360," remember Peter Kassig, the Iraq war veteran murdered by ISIS. He could have washed his hands of the people in the Middle East, but he returned instead to bind up their wounds. A close friends describes the difference that he made.
COOPER: Tonight remembering a remarkable young man who saw the very best in a tough part of the world and sadly fell victim to the worst in it. Peter Kassig went to the Middle East as Army ranger, originally to fight. He returned as an aid worker to heal, providing medical assistance to the victims of the civil war in Syria. 13 months ago at a Syrian checkpoint he was taken from the ambulance that he himself was driving and fell into the hands of ISIS. At one point his cellmates reportedly including American journalist Steven Sotloff and James Foley and the British aid workers David Haines and Alan Henning who were all beheaded one by one starting in August. The atrocities captured on video and sent, of course, around the world. Yesterday, another video surfaced and it was Peter's. President Obama quickly calling his murder an act of pure evil. Today, the parents, Paula and Ed Kassig spoke about the death of their son who converted to Islam while he was in captivity. They talked about his mission in life.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ED KASSIG, FATHER OF PETER KASSIG: Greater love hath no man than this than to lay down his life for another. A while ago we were informed that our beloved son Abdel Rahman, no longer walks this earth. Our hearts still heavy, are held up by the love and support that have poured into our lives these last few days.
PAULA KASSIC, MOTHER OF PETER KASSIG: Our hearts are battered, but they will mend. The world is broken, but it will be healed in the end. And good will prevail as the one god of many names will prevail.
COOPER: There are obviously many complexities surrounding such a strong, simple notion. There are clues in the gruesome video, signs of yet more Western faces among the murderers and questions about how to respond. And frustration, of course, with the largest struggle against Islamic extremism. A columnist for "The New York Times" today likening it to in his words a never ending whack-a-mole horror show." We'll get into that tonight, but we're focusing primarily on who Peter Kassig was, starting with what he told CNN'S Arwa Damon at a hospital in Lebanon two years ago. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PETER KASSIG: We each get one life, and that's it. You get one shot at this. We don't get any do-overs. You know, and like for me it was time to put up or shut up. The way I saw it, I didn't have a choice. You know, this is what I was put here to do. I guess I'm just a hopeless romantic and I'm an idealist and I believe in hopeless causes. We have to think about the reasons why as a country we choose to help certain people or not others. We have to think about why we just chop the Middle East up to like this complex enigma that we'll just never understand because they're so different from us. But at the end of the day like, they're really not.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Not so different, for better and sadly for worse. Sulome Anderson was a friend of Peter's. She is the reporter in Lebanon and child of the conflict there. For the first seven years of her life, her father Terry Anderson was held hostage by Shia militants. She joins us tonight.
What do you want people to know about Peter? What kind of a guy was he?
SULOME ANDERSON, FRIEND OF PETER KASSIG: He wasn't like anyone I've ever known. I mean, he did things that he had no reason to do. Because he felt like he should do them.
COOPER: You met him what - like two years ago. How did you meet?
SULOME ANDERSON: We met through a mutual friend of ours. You know, it was sort of a chance encounter. We just sat around, you know, talking and discussing our work, but I think the thing about Pete is that he just had this enormous energy and it just captivated you immediately.
COOPER: What do you think it was that drove him to go to the places he went to? As you said, he didn't have to. I mean he wasn't from there, he wasn't born there, he was putting himself in harm's way for people in many cases he didn't know.
SULOME ANDERSON: I think part of it was that he had served in Iraq. I think he - there was a large part of him that was critical of U.S. policy in the Middle East. And he felt as though he needed to -- I wouldn't say make up for it, but he needed to contribute something positive to the region. He felt deeply that one person could make a difference. And he felt it was his responsibility to try and alleviate the suffering of the people in Syria.
COOPER: You also refer to him by his Muslim name.
SULOME ANDERSON: Yeah.
COOPER: Explain that. Why?
SULOME ANDERSON: When I wrote about him, I did use Abdel-Rahman, because at the time, we learned that he had converted. I know that Pete always felt an incredible connection to that region and to the Islamic faith. And it just felt like the right thing to do, but when I talk about him in our conversation, I use Pete because he'll always be Pete to me.
COOPER: Is there one particular memory you're going to kind of always hold on to or is there one particular moment you instantly think of when you think of him?
SULOME ANDERSON: Just one night we were just driving around Beirut and talking about life and his family and, you know, his childhood and his work always, he always talked about his work, and it was just this moment where I was alone with him in a way, which we're usually surrounded by the rest of our friends. And this was just some time that I had just with him. And it was -- it's always going to be really special to me.
COOPER: The injustice of how his life ended compared to how he lived his life and all the things he did in his life and to have it end, you know like this is just -- it's just horrific. I mean, it's just awful. Is there anything else you want people to know about him?
SULOME ANDERSON: I just want people to know that he's -- he was a whole person. He wasn't just, you know, one aspect of a person. He was funny, he was complicated, he was troubled, he was heroic and brave and all these things at once. And I just want people to remember him as a person and not this image that we've seen of him on the television.
COOPER: You want people to remember how he lived his life, not how it ended.
SULOME ANDERSON: I wish I could share my knowledge of him, the time I've had with him, I wish everybody could have experienced that time with him because he's somebody that I will never forget, and he's somebody who's changed my life.
COOPER: Sulome, thank you very much.
SULOME ANDERSON: Thank you.
COOPER: Ahead in the next live hour of "360," we have breaking news, Missouri's governor declaring a state of emergency ahead of the grand jury decision in Ferguson. Exclusive new details on the national security machinery that's gearing up for any trouble ahead in Ferguson. We'll take you there, next.