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Epic Storm Hammering Northern California; The Killing That Devastated A Small Town in Mississippi; 3.5 Hours for Congress to Pass $1.1 Trillion Spending Bill; Texas Woman Freed of Charges over Death of Her Boyfriend in Faulty GM's Car; Finding the Biggest T-Rex Skeleton

Aired December 11, 2014 - 20:00   ET


JOHN BERMAN, CNN HOST: Good evening. John Berman sitting in for Anderson.

And we begin with simply epic weather now hammering northern California, a storm that so far has dumped more than a foot of rain on some places. Brought snow and hurricane force winds to others and sent the bays spilling right into a good chunk of what in better conditions is nearly the city by the bay.

Nearly a quarter of a million homes are now without power. National weather service broadcasting warning every 15 minutes telling drivers in flood zones, turn around. Don't drown.

Flash flood advisory are now up until, at least, tomorrow. In short, it is a dangerous mess.

Dan Simon is there for us.


DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's the worst weather to hit northern California in years. Pounding rain causing some streets to flood and rivers to rise. This grocery store parking lot turned into a lake with winds at or near hurricane strength, the storm also knocked down stores of trees including and this 80-foot Cyprus tree that hind the boy out of school playground in Santa Cruz. Firefighters freed the 11-year-old who had only minor injuries.

The wind also is shaking area bridges make driving hazardous. And the same conditions knocking out power to more than 225,000 people and businesses including this restaurant in downtown San Francisco that cannot open.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, you cannot. Cannot see it's a safety issue, so certain corners are blocked off and somebody follows us, so we can't do that.

SIMON: At the San Francisco international airport, at least 240 flights cancelled. Perry service also halted for many routes today that this writer was able to make his daily commute to the city. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was pretty bumpy. We got -- I swear, we had

it, we were airborne going up and down and everybody was in great hysterics and laughing, but it was no normal ferry ride today.

SIMON: To the northeast, it began snowing in the sierra Nevada near Lake Tahoe where two to three feet of snow is anticipated. A wind gust clocking in at 175 miles per hour, the same storm system hitting Washington state a day earlier. The rising tide eroding beaches and destroying at least two houses.

Back here in California, the miserable conditions come with one positive side effect, the state in the middle of a record three year drought can use all the moisture it can get.

What do you make of all this rain?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We need it, but I wish it would come more evenly spread out instead of all in one night. Just got to roll with the punches. It will be fine.


BERMAN: Months and months worst in one night.

Dan Simon joining us from San Francisco.

Dan, what's it like right now? What's in store for tonight?

SIMON: Hey, John. It's still coming down pretty hard and it is expected to be this way throughout the night with conditions slowly improving tomorrow as the storm pushes south. You're going to start seeing some moisture in the Los Angeles area, so they're in for a drenching.

The key for this area is clearing the roadways and getting the power restored. Utility crews are going to be working around the clock to try to make that happen. The bottom line, though, is it could be a couple of days before things return back to normal here, John.

BERMAN: Alright, what a mess, but worth it for the rain. Dan Simon, thank you so much.

Now something almost never happens. The CIA director holding a news conference taking questions from reporters. He took questions whether he answered them, we leave it to you to decide.

The CIA is not as you might imagine a full disclosure kind of place. Not even on CIA practices against terror detainees can change that. However, that report put out by committee Democrats, it has shaken the agency and moved director John Brennan to speak out. Today from headquarters in Lankily, not far from the inscription it reads and you shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free. He laid out a very carefully worded, very tightly edited and sometimes contradictory version of the truth as he sees it.

The details now from Barbara Starr. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In a 45 minute long press conference, CIA director John Brennan never used the word torture to describe interrogation practices.

JOHN BRENNAN, CIA DIRECTOR: As I said, in some instances, I considered them a quant and I leave to those how they might want to label those activities.

STARR: In an extraordinary mood, Brenan spoke to reporters defending his agency, reminding everyone of the difficult challenges after 9/11.

BRENNAN: In (INAUDIBLE), we pledge to come together as one and to do what we could to prevent Osama bin Laden and his killing machine from ever carrying out another attack.

STARR: It led to so-called enhanced interrogation techniques against CIA detainees. Water boarding, being put in stress positions, deprived of sleep, chained to walls. Brennan admitted mistakes were made by some, but never said the so-called enhanced interrogation program was a mistake overall.

BRENNAN: I cannot say with certainty whether or not individuals acted with complete honesty. When I look at what went on at the time, there are clearly the questions about why certain techniques we used.

STARR: And in the hunt for Osama bin Laden, did enhanced interrogation actually result in intelligent critical to finding him?

BRENNAN: I am not going to attribute that to the use of the EITs just going to state as a matter of fact the information they provided was used.

STARR: As Brennan spoke at CIA headquarters, Senate intelligence committee chair Dianne Feinstein tweets storm CIA helps keep our nation safe, strong, torture does not. Brennan said there's no proof enhanced interrogation was the reason detainees offered up useful intelligence.

BRENNAN: The cause and effect relationship between the use of EITs and useful information subsequently provided by the detainee is, in my view, unknowable.

STARR: Feinstein on twitter, CIA says un-noble if we could have gotten the Intel other ways. Studies show it is knowable. CIA had info before torture.


BERMAN: Barbara Starr joins us now with more.

Barbara, this really was extraordinary. You just don't see, generally speaking, CIA directors taking questions in a news conference like this. So the question is, why did he do it? Who's the audience here because generally speaking, they don't have to reach out for public opinion.

BRENNAN: I think that Brennan was extraordinarily frustrated. When you talk to CIA people, John, over the last couple of days, they are just beside themselves. Their feeling is that everyone has listened to the Senate report, to Senator Feinstein and nobody has really listened to them, that they had been very precise, that they have been very detailed.

You know, Brennan has said, no cause and effect unknowable whether these techniques specifically led to detainees to offer up useful intelligence but useful intelligence, they did offer up.

So, you know, everybody has got their own position. This, I think, was Brennan's chance on behalf of the White House. Make no mistake, to go out there and speak to the world and especially to speak to intelligence services around the world that are watching this.

BERMAN: And to me, it felt like he was speaking to his very own intelligence service, that as much as any audience, it was the audience inside the CIA he wanted to reach out to and almost bolster them around.

STARR: Well, I think that's right and make no mistake behind the scenes, he has spoken to his agency staff, his agency team privately about all of this. We know that. They have really been reaching out trying to build moral.

There's a lot of young people at the agency, young intelligence professionals who obviously had no part in this several years ago who they worry are just, you know, not happy about this. And it will be hard to recruit if people see this kind of activity and don't feel that it's the right way to go.

So there's some long-term strategic issues here. The potential for real damage to the intelligence community in the future going ahead, but how extraordinary?

Here's the real nugget for everybody. We asked the CIA, is this press conference unprecedented? Has any director ever done this before? They went back through the archives and they could not find a record of anybody doing this before but said they couldn't be sure.

BERMAN: Yes. It's classified, the answer to that question.

Barbara Starr, thanks so much. Appreciate it.

We want to get reaction now from two former CIA officers, Glenn Carle and Gary Berntsen. Gary led the CIA team that first track Osama bin Laden in late 2001.

He has written about it. The book is titled "Jaw breaker, the attack on bin Laden and Al-Qaeda." And Glen Carle is the author of "the Interrogator, an education."

So Glenn, he had very nuanced answer when it came to the effectiveness of the enhanced interrogation techniques. He said it is unknowable whether or not they led to developing any actionable intelligence. He said it's unknowable. He did say that some of the people who did -- who were put under those techniques ultimately did provide intelligence, but he said you simply can't know because if it was because of the techniques used. Do you agree?

GLENN CARLE, AUTHOR, THE INTERROGATOR, AN EDUCATION: John was very careful and quite nuanced. And what he said was the information from detainees was useful and they were, these detainees, also subjected to enhanced interrogation techniques.

The meaning of his words is that the information, which he confirms elsewhere in his comments, in which the report is devastatingly clear about, is that the information that was useful that was obtained, was obtained by acceptable measures and the information that was obtained through enhanced interrogation techniques was not reliable, as John said.

It is a true statement that the detainees provided useful information, period. These detainees, same detainees, were subject to enhanced interrogation. He clearly makes the distinction between the two. Although, he is quite careful and not to states the fact that we torture, that you have the director to say that. He said so in other words and he has made the distinction clear that the information obtained that was useful didn't come from enhanced interrogation.

BERMAN: Gary, you think otherwise. You think enhanced interrogation is effective, correct?

GARY BERNTSEN, FORMER CIA OFFICER: I think it's -- as I've stated before, there's two things here. There's coercion that can be use in interrogation and there is the moral issue of whether you should be doing it or not. And I've seen countries or enemies of ours using coercive against us very effectively to destroy networks, uncovering people that we were working against them. And I've seen allies using coercion, you know, that have supported us in operations.

You know, whether the U.S. program was managed properly or not. That's a separate issue. But sadly, coercion does work if used properly. Imagine this now. Someone use coercion and you think maybe someone is throwing you information is bad, with the Internet, someone can check those questions, there is answer immediately. It's frightening.

You know, the key here is don't get captured if you're a terrorist operative or intelligence operative because the combination of coercion and access to the Internet makes your life pretty horrible.

BERMAN: You're using the word coercion. You're not using the word torture. He didn't use the word torture.

BERNTSEN: Let me just say this. And look, allies of ours have used coercion in the sense they're not torturing people, but they're threatening them. I mean, it's not nice what they've done. But the reality is -- and I've seen torture used against sources of ours, people that work for us in the hostile governments and it worked frighteningly well.

BERMAN: So you say torture works. You say enhanced interrogation works.


BERMAN: If that's the case and if director Brennan knows what you know, why not just say it? Why not come out in this new conference, when you go in public and all that and just say it.

BERNTSEN: The president in this administration, look. Authoritarian governments have used coercive methods to stay in power for many, many years. And it's a horrible, monstrous thing, OK? Who doesn't think that Stalin didn't use torture and terror to stay in power? Please, find somebody who doesn't think he did that.

CARLE: That has nothing to do with obtaining useful intelligence. The 20 cases cited by the Bush administration and the CIA for years is the triumphs of enhanced interrogation that broke up plots and so on, have all been shown as was known, frankly, at the time in house and heatedly argued about to be spurious and not true.

And that John has said, I have the highest respect for John, I worked with John closely in testimony or statement, I just recall just now and before, that it doesn't work and aside for him being immoral and illegal, it's ineffective.

BERMAN: If that's the case, the report also shows, the 6,000 pages also suggest that people inside the CIA were providing misinformation to people in the administration. Gary, everyone out now on honesty on your mind?

BERNTSEN: I just don't think the people are being honest about this. A lot of people don't want to see enhanced interrogation techniques used under any circumstances other than a claim it doesn't work, it doesn't work.

Sadly, I believe that force can work, not against everybody, but it does works in certain times. And the fact is I don't think people are being honest about that. The issue of whether it's should be done is a separate issue. That's a moral issue. And being in that situation, we don't want to use, I don't want to see the United States using terror or torture, but I do also believe that we need to address the fact that, what are we going to do one day when we got somebody comes in here with a bio-weapon for the first time we face nuclear terrorism attack and we got a prisoner, what are we going to do? You know, read him his Miranda rights or use the army field manual? It's not going to be enough.

BERMAN: All right, Glenn Carle, Gary Berntsen, I do appreciate the discussion. Thanks so much.

BERNTSEN: It is a pleasure.

CARLE: Thank you.

BERMAN: As always, a quick reminder. Make sure to set your DVR so you watch 360 whenever you would like. We have much more ahead tonight. Next, our Martin Savidge is searching for leads to finding really only

question in a horrific killing of a young Mississippi woman who managed to whisper something to police before she died. Something that remain as mysterious tonight as her murder.

And we will bring you more with the northern California with the rain keeps on falling and the water keeps on rising.


BERMAN: Crime and punishment now, only in this case, we can sadly, we can only report on the crime part so far. The killing that has simply devastated a small town in Mississippi. The victim? A young local woman last seen on Saturday in an area gas station, an hour and a half later, she was found badly burned dying. And ever since, each day has brought new and shocking developments.

Let's get the latest tonight from Martin Savidge.


MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Along a quiet road in rural Mississippi, investigators way deep into the brush and use dogs looking for anything out of the ordinary. It's the second time they've done this along Herron Road, the road where 19-year-old Jessica Chambers was attacked and burned alive.

Police tape churned up a large pine tree scorch high into its branches mark the place where the teen and her car were found. It's a murder that is both horrified and mystified this small town.

JOHN CHAMPION, DISTRICT ATTORNEY, PANOLA COUNTY: I think that one of the biggest fears is dying in a fire.

SAVIDGE: But at their first news conference, authorities gave little indication they were close to finding who is responsible.

CHAMPION: We're currently following up leads in the case. There have been no arrests made at this point. Nor do I anticipate any in the immediate future at this point.

SAVIDGE: The former high school cheerleader was found barely alive Saturday night after their family say someone may have struck her in the head, doused her and her car with flammable liquid, igniting it and leaving here burned over 98 percent of her body.

She managed to whisper something to first responders before she died, something she was trying to name her killer, but investigators won't say. Samples of the car's interior have been sent to the bureau of alcohol, tobacco and firearms to determine what kind of accelerant may have been used. Meanwhile, in this town of 500 where everyone knows everyone, Chambers' death is personal.

SHERIFF DENNIS DARBY, PANOLA COUNTY POLICE: We are going to stay here until we find out who did it. SAVIDGE: But at the local gas station where the 19-year-old was seen

filling up and buying cigarettes just 90 minutes before she was set on fire, residents and employees wouldn't talk to me on camera admitting they're scared, fearing the killer is likely local, someone they know, and someone who knows them.


BERMAN: Martin Savidge joins us now from Batesville in Mississippi.

And Martin, what a tragedy. What a mystery. I imagine piecing together the last few hours of Jessica's life will be crucial here. Any progress there?

SAVIDGE: Yes, it is absolutely crucial and that's really where the officers have been focused in their investigation. We learned something today talking to the manager of the gas station. He actually interacted with Jessica on that night. He talked to her many times before, it's a local hangout. He said there was something different about her that night. Call it a sixth sense, it kind of habit. But noted something else. Normally when she fills up, she buys like three bucks, four bucks worth of gas, never really any not much more than that. That night, she spent $14. She brought five gallons worth of gas. She apparently was going to go somewhere. The question is where and why?

BERMAN: Interesting. In a town this small, I imagine, you know, everyone knows everyone, must have an idea or some notion of what happened. How do they separate the rumors from the facts here?

SAVIDGE: Well, you know, this is really one of the weird things that's going on in this community. And this is one of the things that was actually brought up at the press conference by the authorities. It is a small town. Typical of small towns, people talk. People say things. Nobody is saying anything here. And that goes to the level of fear. I really have to underscore that. People here, especially women, are frightened and no one is going to get any rest until they determine who did this and have them in custody -- John.

BERMAN: Understandable.

Martin Savidge for us in Mississippi, thanks so much.

As always, you can find a whole lot more on this and many other stories at Just ahead for us, another Bill Cosby accuser has come forward. What fame model Beverly Johnson alleges he did to her in the mid-1980s.


BERMAN: All right, breaking news on a familiar if on welcome drama on Capitol Hill. Congress now has around three-and-a-half hours to pass a $1.1. trillion spending bill and possibly, theoretically avoid a government shutdown. The deadline is midnight. It resides all dated House leaders who are having trouble getting the votes that they need. The White House says that President Obama who supports the bill is working the phones tonight personally calling Democrats to secure votes.

We've been here before in a way although there are new twists to what's going on right now. Our chief congressional correspondent Dana Bash joins me now with the latest.

And Dana, you know, a few days ago, it looked like there was a deal here. There were bipartisan negotiators who has come up with a plan, they thought they had the votes. Now we're sitting here at 8:30 eastern time. What happened?

DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, there is a deal. The problem is that those on either side of both parties are kind of falling off a bit by bit. What's happening right now at this late hour is, in this room behind me, there is a meeting among house Republican leaders trying to figure out if this large deal, this $1.2 trillion bill to keep the government running through next year can be salvaged. And the way that they are going to decide that, this is the irony of all ironies, is try to figure out whether Democrats can get their coalition together.

The White House chief of staff in a pretty dramatic way came up here to Capitol Hill just about an hour ago, met with House Democrats because they are the ones giving the White House and Republican leaders the biggest problem because they are concerned about some of the extraneous things that are in this bill that they think are unfair to taxpayers and unfair when it comes to helping the wealthy.

BERMAN: The signs here, Dana, are a little bit bizarre. You basically has tea party Republicans, liberal Democrats, Elizabeth Warren on one side and also by the way Nancy Pelosi is not exactly helping the White House. Yet, the White House and the Republican leadership on the other side.

BASH: You remember that Seinfeld bizarre world? That's really what this feels like. Because you do have the White House at odds with the Democratic leader in the House, Nancy Pelosi, the two sides who have worked arm in arm for years and years. There's a big divide over whether or not this large bill is the right way to go.

The biggest issue that forms that divide and that joins liberal Democrats and tea party conservatives is the issue of Wall Street. And whether or not there should be a rollback of one reform in here, which they say is bad for consumers, good for banks and that's why it shouldn't be in here. And that, there are couple of other things, that's the biggest thing that is hurting us right now.

And what you have is the White House saying don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good. Let's get our priorities out because this is a Democrats' last chance to do it before Republicans take control. And they do have a lot of things in here that they believe is right and that was the White House chief of staff's message. But I was told by many Democrats, it might not have been enough.

BERMAN: Dana, quickly, if they don't reach the deal, though, will there be a shutdown or there tampering measure that can take place? BASH: They have a back-up planned, they hope to pass if they can't do

this big bill, to pass a short-term, a spending bill to keep the government running and probably will do it tonight in the House, send it over to the Senate. So, we should probably breathe a sigh of relief that nobody is going to let the government shutdown. You hear that from conservatives and liberals.

BERMAN: Small blessings, Dana Bash, thank you so much, great to see you tonight.

For latest and other stories we are following, Susan Hendricks has a "360 Bulletin."

SUSAN HENDRICKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: John, outside Congress now on the Capitol steps today, dozens of congressional staff members staged a walkout in support of the families of Michael Brown and Eric Garner. They raised their hands in the gesture that has become a symbol of the protest against police violence. And in New York at the Staten Island corner where Eric Garner collapsed, his daughter Erica staged a die-in in memory of her father. It is the eighth day of protest since the grand jury decided to not indict the officer who used a chokehold on Garner.

And an hour-long standup on the California highway ended when SWAT teams arrested a father who was being sought in an amber alert. Four of his children where in the car. They were not harmed, but moments ago we learned authorities found the body of their mother in the trunk of another car.

And another Bill Cosby accuser has come forward. Model Beverly Johnson says the comedian drugged her in the mid -80s at his Brownstone. She makes the allegation in an essay in "Vanity Fair" magazine. CNN has reached out to Bill Cosby's attorney and no word back yet.

And a time capsule from 1795 was removed from the cornerstone of the Massachusetts State House. It is believed to have been buried by patriots Paul Revere and Samuel Adams. Its contents are expected to be revealed next week. The concern, John, is the condition, of course of the contents.

BERMAN: I'm sure it's doing well. Boston strong.

(LAUGHTER): Susan Hendricks, thanks so much.


BERMAN: Just ahead for us, at "360 Follow". A Texas court clears a young woman's name ruling that GM's defective ignition switch is to blame for her boyfriend's death a decade ago. This is a remarkable story. Stay with us.


BERMAN: Tonight a "360 Follow" that we are very happy to bring you. Recently, we told you the story of Candice Anderson, a young woman from Texas who was been racked with guilt for the past decade believing she was responsible for her boyfriend's death in 2004. He was killed when her car crashed into a tree. Miss Anderson ended up pleading guilty to criminal negligent homicide making her a convicted felon. This year though, GM recalled Miss Anderson's car and millions more for an ignition switch defect that so far has been tied to 38 deaths with the number expected to rise. It came out that GM knew about the defect years earlier when Anderson was pleading guilty but didn't tell her. Now, after our first report, a judge agreed to hear her appeal and now her conviction has been overturned, her record cleared. Poppy Harlow has the latest.



CANDICE ANDERSON: I do. I feel like a big weight has been lifted off me. I can walk to tell it.

HARLOW (voice over): After a decade of agony, Candice Anderson is finally free.

(on camera): People in this town called you a murderer for a decade.

ANDERSON: Mm-hmm. It's a hard thing to get past.

HARLOW (voice over): Free from living a nightmare.

ANDERSON: I feel like I was robbed from a part of my life, in ten year - and ten years is a decade. It's a long time. I feel robbed of part of my youth, where things were supposed to be fun and making memories, you know, having a good friend to share it with. I just feel like I was robbed of that.

HARLOW: It started with a fatal car crash. Candice was behind the wheel when her brand new Saturn Ion slammed into a tree on this East Texas country road in 2004.

ANDERSON: This one right here.

HARLOW (on camera): This is the tree you hit.

(voice over): Her boyfriend Michael Erickson was in the passenger seat. He was Candice's first love.

ANDERSON: I was through the windshield on the head of the car and then his face was face down in my lap.

HARLOW (voice over): The father of two young girls, Michael was instantly killed. Candice still bears the scars of that day. Her liver lacerated and nearly all of her ribs broken.

(on camera): Do you ever have moments when you think, why did I survive?

ANDERSON: Oh, yeah. I felt that way the whole ten years. HARLOW (voice over): The police report says neither Candice nor

Michael was wearing a seat belt. The airbags did not deploy. After the crash, Xanax was found in Candice's system. She was not prescribed the drug but said she took one pill the night before.

ANDERSON: Do I think I was intoxicated that day? No, I wasn't intoxicated.

HARLOW: But she was indicted on a felony charge of intoxication manslaughter. She pleaded guilty to criminal negligent homicide and was sentenced to five years-probation and fine. She lived each day as a felon.

(on camera): You could have gone to jail for 20 years.

ANDERSON: I don't think about that all the time. I really do.

HARLOW (voice over): But there is now proof that for a decade, General Motors knew about a deadly defect in Candice's car and millions more, but kept it a secret. Faulty ignition switches causing the engine to stop suddenly while driving disabling the air bags and as Candice was prosecuted, GM did nothing to help her. In fact, in 2007, the same year Candice pleaded guilty, GM did their own internal investigation of her crash calling it unusual and noted the airbags should have deployed.

ANDERSON: I'm fighting for my justice. I want vindication. I want them to say, you know, I want people to know that it was the car and it wasn't me.

HARLOW: In this courthouse, the same one where she pleaded guilty to criminal negligent homicide, Candice Anderson, finally got her justice. The judge placing the blame squarely on General Motors.

Writing in the court opinion, "While Miss Anderson pled guilty to a crime for which she was not at fault, GM had evidence that would have demonstrated her actual innocence and identified the true culprit and cause of the accident, General Motors." Candice's conviction overturned, she is now acquitted of any fault in the crash that killed Michael.

(on camera): What would Michael say?

ANDERSON: I pictured him rooting us, you know, in the courtroom and just, you know, it's a good feeling to think that he's, you know, had a lot to do with this.

(voice over): GM would not comment on the judge's opinion but for the first time in this letter to Candice's attorney, General Motors admits it may be to blame, writing "GM has determined that the crash involving Miss Anderson is one, in which the recall condition may have caused or contributed to the frontal air bag non-deployment in the accident."

(on camera): Is it enough? ANDERSON: No, I don't think it's enough. You know, I think they

should have been there that day to support me, to put in some words before the judge also. I really do.

HARLOW: Have you directly, Candice, heard from General Motors?

ANDERSON: Never. And at this point, at this point I don't think I ever will.

HARLOW (voice over): So why didn't GM reach out to Candice Anderson when it investigated her crash years ago? We asked GM CEO Mary Barra.

(on camera): Why didn't GM ever reached out to here?

MARY BARRA, GM CEO: She looked at - Valukas reports documents that there were - there were opportunities where in this specific situation, a series of mistakes were made over a long period of time and that's why we've taken some of the extraordinary steps.

HARLOW: Do you think, looking back, do you think someone at GM should have, when they saw this happen and there was an internal investigation, reached out to Candice Anderson?

BARRA: Again, Poppy as you look across this, we have - you know, making the right changes that we need to make with the learnings that we've had from the Valukas report, we are working to make sure we're the industry leaders in safety as we've moved forward and we've taken steps to do the right thing.

HARLOW (voice over): GM is fixing its defective cars and has apologized to victims and their families.

BARRA: I am deeply sorry.

HARLOW (on camera): When you come back to the crash site now being vindicated, knowing this wasn't your fault, what do you think?

ANDERSON: The guilt is definitely lifted. But what happened in the tragedy, of course, it's still there. The pain is still real.

HARLOW (voice over): And nothing will bring Michael back. For the past ten years, Michael's mother, Rhonda, couldn't bring herself to lay a headstone for her son. Now she finally has.

RHONDA ERICSON, SON KILLED IN 2004 SATURN ION COLLISION: It was like the story of David and Goliath where we took a little slingshot and we threw a rock at a giant and we won. That's how I felt. That it was all worth it. And we weren't scared and we stood up and we got what we wanted.

HARLOW (on camera): Vindication.


HARLOW (voice over): Their fight may be over but the Department of Justice investigation into General Motors continues. ANDERSON: There's someone within General Motors that should be held


HARLOW (on camera): Are you saying that you think individuals at General Motors should stand trial?

ANDERSON: Yeah. I do. They didn't have a problem sitting by while I was charged. Convicted.


BERMAN: What a story. Poppy Harlow joins us right now. And Poppy, this is really unbelievable. Given all of this, is Candice going to sue General Motors?

HARLOW: She's not. And that is one of the hardest decisions of her life, John. She can't. Candice and Rhonda, Michael's mother, accepted their kept in money, a payment from GM's victim compensation fund but in order for them to do that, they have to give up their right to ever sue General Motors over this crash in the future. And I asked Candice about that, I said how hard was that for you and she said it was gut-wrenching, but I had to move on. It's been a decade. She has a 4 year old and a 6-year-old girl and she wants to move on. She's going to use the money to get through nursing school and for her kids. But yeah, she will never be able to sue General Motors over this, but she does now have her entire life in front of her.

BERMAN: I am sure speaking to you helped in that process of moving on. Poppy Harlow, thank you so much. Great work.

HARLOW: Thanks.

BERMAN: Just ahead for us, the discovery of the largest and most complete t-rex skeleton ever found and the battle over it. A really great preview of CNN film "Dinosaur 13" next.


BERMAN: Tonight, CNN films presents the incredible story of and the discovery of and a fight over the largest and most complete t-rex skeleton ever found. The dinosaur that would be named Sue is now on display at a Chicago museum. It was found in 1990 preserved for 67 million years in what is now South Dakota and two years later, the FBI and the National Guard seized the skeleton, setting off a battle over Sue that has documented in tonight's film, "Dinosaur 13." In a moment, I'm going to speak with the paleontologist whose team made the discovery. He's also in a clip from the film.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We crawl up on the cliff face and I see three articulated vertebrae and from that point on, I'm absolutely certain this is going to be the best thing we've ever found and it's going to be a complete t-rex.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He called up and said, Neil, I need you to bring a lot of plaster, two by fours. It took me a day to get everything ready, and I came up, and I got up there with all these materials and he took me over to this big cliff and he said, take a look. And I looked at it and I looked at him and I said, is that t-rex? He said, yes. And I think it's all here.


BERMAN: Joining me are Peter Larson, the paleontologist whose team found the t-rex and his ex-wife, Kristin Donnan. Together, they wrote a book about this experience.

So, Peter, it's been 20 years since that moment. But it's still got to be emotional to see that.

PETER LARSON, PALEONTOLOGIST: It was, you know, truly the high point of my life being part of that team that dug up this wonderful dinosaur. I mean it's the biggest, and best and most complete t-rex that's ever been found. What could be better than that?

BERMAN: It's amazing. And there's really so much drama involved in all this. And you know, since that time 20 years ago, you lost control of Sue. A lot happened in your life. You ended up in prison on unrelated charge and, you know, after all of that, Sue is gone, Sue is in the museum now. Do you think it's worth it?

LARSON: Oh, yeah. I do get -- I have visitation rights. I get to go see Sue. The field museum has been just awesome in allowing me access for my scientific research. And so, and I guess I wouldn't -- there's very little that I would ever -- could have done differently. I mean, you know, what maybe one thing as I could have waited to pay the landowner until after the specimen was out of the ground but that's hindsight.

BERMAN: Because a lot does happen here. There's a lot of twists and turns and look back and say, no real regrets. Do you really feel that way?

LARSON: Oh yeah, I mean I probably would have done eve

BERMAN: Wow, fascinating. So, Kristin, you've been with him through this whole thing. It sounds like the understatement of the century.


BERMAN: But how has this changed your life?

KRISTIN DONNAN, AUTHOR, "REX APPEAL": It changes anyone to have that sort of amazing horrifying thing happen. And then beyond that, it changes anyone to be around someone like Pete. He is this - naturally, positive attitude is real and watching him go through this, being there throughout the whole story is inspiring to everyone who gets to know him.

BERMAN: Is it a story about discovery or about loss?

DONNAN: It's a story about change. And it's a story about understanding the complexities of life and what draws people to things and what causes them to fight for things and what's really important.

BERMAN: You, what do you want people to take away from this? Is it the idea of change?

DONNAN: I think it's the idea of doing what you love, not giving up on your dreams. Knowing that no matter what's going on, you have hope.

BERMAN: But it does come at a cost. There's a cost here. That's what's so remarkable about this story.

DONNAN: There is a cost. And that's why when you pick what you're doing, you have to really want to do it and you have to know, what are the risks I'm taking, what's it worth to me and what am I willing to put out there and to the world? It only counts if it's hard.

BERMAN: And this was hard. Peter, you're still out there searching for dinosaurs.


BERMAN: Do you think that it's possible, every time you look around a bend, every time you know, you dust off an area, do you think that maybe there's the next sue?

LARSON: Well, since Sue, we've collected nine more t-rex specimens. None as complete as Sue, but there's a chance. It's a really slim chance because Sue is such an awesome dinosaur and, you know, by far the most complete. So, it's, you know, there's a chance we might find another Sue.

BERMAN: You said something interesting before. What you said it was the high point of your life, the most important moment of your life. Again, such a wonderful moment, but is it odd, all these years later to be able to say the best moment was 20 years ago? What do you look forward to?

LARSON: Well, the moment continues. I mean, you know, every time I get to go see her, every time I'm looking at these other specimens, all of that comes back and when people see the movie, they'll see the wonderful people that surrounded us in Hill City and tried to help and did everything they could. And the kids and all that they gave to try to keep that dinosaur in Hill City. All of that is a part of my life and it's a part of my life that I cherish. You know, it really made the human being that I am today and, but it's not ending. It's still continuing.

BERMAN: It is a remarkable, remarkable story and a remarkable film. Peter Larson, Kristin Donnan, thank you so much. I appreciate it.

DONNAN: Thank you for having us.

LARSON: Thank you so much.

BERMAN: And please, do stay tuned to the top of the hour for CNN films "Dinosaur 13." That's 9:00 p.m. Eastern right here on CNN. Also tonight, the House is about to vote on a bill to keep the government operating. We're going to have a live update next.


BERMAN: Deadline is midnight tonight on a bill to avoid a government shutdown. The House vote, we just learned is minutes away. As for everything leading up to those crucial minutes, what a long strange trip it's been. Let's get back quickly now to chief congressional correspondent Dana Bash. Dana, they will vote.

DANA BASH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They will vote three hours now until the government runs out of money and House Republicans just came out of the meeting that we talked about earlier this hour. It determined to actually put this large 1.1 trillion dollar bill to keep the government running on the floor even though it is really unclear whether or not they have the votes to do it. They're going to roll the dice. Now they are - do have a bit of bravado, these Republicans, think - they think it can happen. But this is going to be a true cliff hanger. Not the government shutting down, that won't happen, but this particular bill cliff hanger.

BERMAN: All right, a nail biter. You have to stay tuned to CNN to find out the result of this vote. Which we'll begin in just a little bit in the House of Representatives. Dana Bash, thank you so much, I appreciate you bringing this news. We'll check back in a little bit.

That does it for us this evening. Thanks for watching CNN. You are looking at a live shot at the Capitol where they'll vote soon on the government spending bill. Meanwhile, CNN films "DINOSAUR 13" starts right now.