Return to Transcripts main page


U.S. Moving Military Assets To Iraq To Fight ISIS; Fugitive Terror Widow On New ISIS Video?; 20th Hijacker Says Saudi Royals Funded Al-Qaeda; Pilot: "Mayday, Mayday Engine Flameout"; 6 Killed When Train Hit SUV; WSJ Blasts Sen. Rand Paul For Vaccine Remarks; Armstrong Caught In A New Lie; Shooting At High School Basketball Game; Bobbi Kristina's Fight

Aired February 4, 2015 - 21:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, AC360 HOST: 9:00 p.m. here in New York and awful a lot news breaking and around the world. We're alive throughout this entire hour. First, late word out of Pentagon tonight, possibly related to the murder that Jordanian fighter pilot by ISIS. A U.S. official telling CNN's Barbara Star that the military has moved search and rescue personnel into Northern Iraq. Now this after news that the United Arab Emirates to dropout out collation air strikes against ISIS, out of concern they say for any of their pilot who might go down.

Breaking News as well involving a shadowing woman, the widow of Paris supermarket killer Amedy Coulibaly. She fled the city, turned up on surveillance video at the airport in Istanbul. That where there, she was tough have gone to Syria.

Well tonight there's a new video from ISIS featuring a woman who French authorities say may resemble the Paris terror widow. More on that from justice corresponded Pamela Brown who joins us now.

So this new ISIS video and we're just going to show a screen grab from -- where not going to show the video. What are your sources telling you, could this actually be her?

PAMELA BROWN, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, the source says telling us that French investigators are right now looking into that very possibility that the woman seen here wearing a camouflage (inaudible) seen in this latest ISIS video release by French. ISIS fighters could be Hayat Boumeddiene said to be France's most wanted woman for her knowledge of the Paris attacks as you mentioned.

But it's the lead, this is understanding note that Boumeddiene fled to Syria and link up with ISIS. And the believe among intelligence official is that ISIS would likely want to flaunt Boumeddiene in propaganda video and make it very clear that it's her, as you see that it's not case in this picture and we did our own very amateur analysis. And if you look closely at the picture side by side as we just saw there, right here the female fighter does not appear to look like Boumeddiene and some of the other (inaudible) that we look at, Anderson. So base on those features, it doesn't appear. But this is up to the French investigators to figure out. And of course they're much better equipped than we're to do that, Anderson.

COOPER: I mean there certainly no shortage of women from what we've heard going to fight or going to link up with ISIS.

BROWN: Yeah, that's right. It's not uncommon at all that there are these ISIS female fighters like the one in that picture. In fact I spoke about this issue with the head of the FBI's counter-terrorist in the division Michael Steinbach and he says that the recruitment of women by ISIS has been much more than we have ever seen by a foreign terrorist organization.

There has been a deliberate focus by ISIS leadership to recruit women, to be everything from a female fighter, to bride for ISIS militant. And he said that even though the number of American women wanting to join ISIS is a minority compared to the men, it's much higher than we have ever seen here in the U.S. And in many cases we've seen ISIS is pushing out of false narrative of what it's like in Syria in order to lure women to come over. When in reality we know a lot of them are raped, sold or even die on the battle field.

COOPER: Pamela Brown interesting development tonight. Thank you very much. Now Jordan and the latest there from Jomana Karadsheh. She joins us tonight from Amman.

In terms of what you're hearing about the Jordanian government possible plans to respond to the killing of their pilot, to increase air strikes, what are you hearing?

JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well Anderson, there were this indication that the Jordanians would wants to ramped up the military response when it comes to their retaliation against ISIS as they were saying. And official's sources are saying now that Jordan wants to increase the airstrikes that is carrying out as part of its coalition mission. Now the number of this airstrike is going to depend on a number of factors including weather and the location of these targets.

We have heard from the Jordanian government. Jordanian officials have said and promise an earthshaking response, we also heard King Abdullah. Today we iterate that message saying that their response is going to be harsh. And this is something many here in Jordan are telling us they want to see. This country, not everyone was really united, people had mix feelings about Jordan's participation in that coalition against ISIS. But today, Anderson, talking to people on the street more and more Jordanian seems to be rallying around the King, rallying around the government. And they want to see that harsh military response against ISIS that the government is promising.

COOPER: Are you also hearing a lot of support for the execution which took place two Jihadist, including that female -- would this female suicide bomber who try to take part in the 2005 attack in Amman?

KARADSHEH: We've heard this from a lot of people today their saying that this should be just the beginning of this revenge by the Jordanian government by the King here for the brutal killing of the pilot Muath al-Kaseasbeh, whom many Jordanian really felt like his killing with something personal for them. He was seen as a national hero. We also heard Jordanian telling us they want to see more execution of ISIS link prisoners. Of course as, you know, Jordan does has a number of Jihadist, a big number of Jihadist that are in Jordanian jail. Some of them are ISIS link, some of them al-Qaeda link.

Now it's not clear how many of them are on death row for terrorism charges. But really the feeling here is they want to see more this. And we heard from the father of the Jordanian pilot, Anderson, saying that these criminals are not -- he call them criminal saying that they do not compare to his son and that his revenge should be greater than the execution of prisoners.

COOPER: Jomana, I appreciate your reporting. Thank you. Tonight digging deeper now into what can be glimpse from the murder video about the state of ISIS, whether this is another sign of an organization on the rise or if in fact it signals maybe the organization just declining.

Joining us is Ali Soufan, former FBI counterterrorism, special agent and interrogator. You know this video I've been watch -- I stop watching this execution videos long time ago. But I watch this one because I mean this one is different in a lot of ways. Is it geared solely toward trying to get new recruits? Because everyone is talking about how this may have backfired, its ignited many people through out the muslin world against ISIS. But do they really care?

ALI SOUFAN, FORMER FBI SUPERVISORY SPECIAL AGENT: No, they don't. It is geared. This level of brutality is geared internally to the people that they still have in the organization. ISIS has been suffering all a lot of loses. They lost Kobani.

COOPER: Do you think they actually been hurt?

SOUFAN: Oh, yeah absolutely. They lost Kobani. They lost about 30 little towns around Kobani. A lot of the Jihadi's in Syria are actually joining al-Qaeda and most were affiliate.

COOPER: Rather than joining ISIS?

SOUFAN: Rather than joining ISIS.

COOPER: So recruiting is their number one priority?

SOUFAN: Recruiting is number one priority, they suffer a lot of loses not only in Syria but also in Iraq. In Iraq today we start seeing more tribes working with the government in fighting ISIS. They lost Diyala totally, so they don't have any control over it. They're having problems now in Anbar and so forth. So, they're suffering from a lot of province.

So what ISIS want, they want to take the brutality to a totally different level with a hope of short-term overreaction, with a hope of shock in off, because if they survive the shock and off that they can all these crazy Jihadi's around the world "We are in a fight against the crusade, we are in the fight against infidels and it is your religious duty to come and fight for the sake of the Islamic state and to the Islamic (inaudible).

COOPER: And to the more war leaders talking about ISIS the more war leaders make it a -- that it's an even playing field between ISIS, almost state actor. That plays into ISIS's hand, you're saying.

SOUFAN: It plays into ISIS's hand if we do that. But what we have been doing here, we're developing the strategy with the airstrikes, with finding people on the ground to have coalitions against ISIS, Sunni tribes in Iraq, Kurds in Syria, deferent affiliates of the Free Syrian Army and different opposition groups in Syria. When you're trying to -- when you're having that and these individuals and these groups start gaining the ground in Syria and in Iraq while the airstrikes is killing ISIS, killing their soldiers, killing their best leader without giving them the theater, without giving them the show, they're giving them -- the only thing that's happening is they're being killed in a battle where they can not show anything for it, to incite people and to recruit people.

But in the same time what they're focusing on, is focusing on giving the fighters that they have a sense of revenge. What they are focusing on is catering to the most radical elements of the group. What's focusing on is trying to have a short-term overreaction by the international community, so they can actually show case it, that the Islamic state and the Khilafah is under attack. The airstrikes, the sustained airstrikes, the long-term strategy in killing them with a thousand cut, in bleeding them to death is bothering the heck out of them.

COOPER: And that's what terrorism often tries to motivate, an overreaction.


COOPER: I mean it's a weapon of weak group. Their trying to poke to get an overreaction, which plays into their hands.

SOUFAN: And that's exactly what ISIS is trying to do now. They suffered a lot of loses in many different areas and they suffered a lot of lost especially with their topnotch fighters in Kobani. Kobani was standing ground and they lost.

COOPER: Even if ISIS is ultimately, you know, defeated and or number depleted, they become a relevant on the battle field. Another group can very easily just pop up.


COOPER: I mean this is a long-term -- people called the long war. This is a long-term ideological struggle.

SOUFAN: You're 100 percent right. And even if we get rid of ISIS, the people who are going to win are (inaudible). That people who're going to win are al-Qaeda affiliates. COOPER: Right.

SOUFAN: And they believe in the same ideological system as ISIS. We need better cooperation. And I cannot believe I'm saying that 15 years almost after 9/11. Not necessarily better cooperation within the agencies in the United States. But between the United States and our allies, for example that you have a lot of legal reasons that justify not sharing information about suspected foreign fighters and about suspected terrorist over there. So anyone can just take a ticket and come to the United States or travel internally inside Europe.

So this issue need to be dealt with. We need better information internationally to focus on this issue.

COOPER: Ali Soufan, always to good to have you on. Thank you.

SOUFAN: Thank you.

COOPER: Coming up next allegation that are true would change a lot about what we know about al-Qaeda's 9/11 plot. And who's specifically finance the group. The allegation comes from this man, one of the convicted plotters. The question is, can he actually be believed?


COOPER: Tonight new allegation about who bankrolled al-Qaeda? The names include some of the richest and most powerful people on earth, not to mention two men who's entire job it was to maintain friendly relations between their country, Saudi Arabia and Washington. The allegations though come with the big problem, namely, the source. Details now from Chief National Security Correspondent, Jim Sciutto.

JIM SCIUTTO: High level Saudi government support for al-Qaeda. Those are the new though uncorroborated allegation from convicted terrorist Zacarias Moussaoui who is serving a life sentence in Prison for his role in the 9/11 attacks. The allegations filed in U.S. district court is part of lawsuit against the Saudi government by the families of the victims of the attacks.

Moussaoui alleges he tasked by al-Qaeda was creating a digital database of al-Qaeda donors. Chosen he said, because of his education and ability to speak English. "Sheikh Osama wanted to keep a record who gives money, who contributes to the jihad," he said. Included among the donors, Moussaoui alleges are members of Saudi royal family including Prince Turki Al-Faisal and Prince Bandar bin Sultan both former ambassador to the U.S.

In addition Moussaoui says he served a messenger for bin Laden carrying letters between the al-Qaeda leader and members of the Saudi royal family including Prince Turki. The court filling includes statements by three members of the 9/11 commission former Secretary of the Navy John Lehman and former Senator Bob Graham and Bob Kerrey. Though they do not endorse this specific allegation, their statements argue that further investigation of Saudi government involvement is necessary. BOB KERREY FMR. U.S. SENATOR: I don't know for certain that there was involvement. I know for certain there's a plenty smoked gun line around the room and this happens to be the latest one. Both the Congress and the administration need to follow this up. This is an extraordinary interview, the content is important.

SCIUTTO: That assessment is however far from unanimous. Robert Jordan served as U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia from 2001 to 2003. He was directly involved in the investigation of the attacks.

ROBERT JORDAN, FMR U.S. AMBASSADOR TO SAUDI ARABIA: A lot of it was my own questioning. Are you sure and he made certain that none of the people we're dealing with now at the senior level had anything to do with this attack. That was routinely and universally given the information that they felt comfortable that at least to that senior level they hadn't.

SCIUTTO: Throughout they're been consistent question about Moussaoui health and his changing story. Including first plead in guilty to conspiring to kill Americans and then reversing himself. The 9/11 reports says the commission "Found no evidence to Saudi government as an institution or senior Saudi officials individually founded al- Qaeda".

Contacted by CNN for comment, the Saudi embassy and Washington says "There is no evidence to support Moussaoui's claim. The September 11th attack has been the most intensely investigated crime in history and the findings show no involvement by the Saudi government".

Beyond his alleged work on the donor database Moussaoui claims that he was involve in a series of plot against U.S. targets.

Specifically he says he was given explosive trading to attack the U.S. embassy in London with a truck bomb among other plots, he claimed.

I spoke with another member of the 9/11 commission Lee Hamilton and ask him about the line on the 9/11 reported exonerating Saudi Arabia. He told me that the commission never claimed to give the final word on Saudi involvement and that sentence was written in his words very carefully to allow for the remaining questions. Jim Sciutto, CNN Washington.

COOPER: Oh, it's a big question on how much (inaudible) to give what are obviously sensation allegations.

Joining us now, CNN National Security Analyst Peter Bergen. Peter, what do make of this new claims from Moussaoui. I mean you say don't buy it.

PETER BERGEN, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: I don't buy them probably because Moussaoui had a history of mental problems which are well documented. But secondly his claims don't make any sense. He is saying that Saudi government officials were funding al-Qaeda in the late 90s. Well, you know, already the Saudi government had pushed bin Laden out of Saudi Arabia in 1990. And bin Laden whole goal was overthrow the Saudi government. So why would Saudi government senior official be funding somebody who they know was trying to attack them? It doesn't make any sense, Anderson.

COOPER: You also know one of these prince's personally who Moussaoui alleges was his primarily point of contract. You said that also doesn't add up.

BERGEN: Yeah, I mean Prince Turki Al-Faisal is well known on Washington, he was the ambassador here and I met him socially on a few occasion. I mean the idea -- you went to, you know, boarding school in Lawrenceville New Jersey, you know, he's a friend of United States. The whole idea he'd be meeting with Moussaoui, that he'd be founding al-Qaeda, it doesn't pass smell test, Anderson. This is made up out of whole cloth.

COOPER: The claims though that Saudi Arabia was funding al-Qaeda is if (inaudible) that's been out there for years and 9/11 Commission reports said there was no evidence of it.

BERGEN: Yeah, I mean the 9/11, you know, there were 170,000 interviews in course of 9/11 investigation, over 500-600,000 lead were followed. This was the most intensely investigated crime in human history. And that we found no evidence. It's impossible to prove negatives but there's no evidence to the claims that Moussaoui is now making.

COOPER: Well also for a group which is against the regime in Saudi Arabia this would be part -- I mean it's one way for a guy who's going to be stuck on prison for the rest of his life to try to strike out of Saudi Arabia.

BERGEN: Yeah, or maybe get attention or it's hard to discern his motives but, you know, as being -- everybody who's reported on has story pointed out that his been diagnose with some psychotic issue. So, you know, I don't put any faith on what he said.

COOPER: Right, Peter Bergen, appreciate the update. Thanks. Just a head deadly plane crash in Taiwan all have been caught on terrifying piece of video. A mayday call just before the plane hit the bridge. Plunge into river killing at least 31 people. What we now know about those final moments, next.


COOPER: New analysis tonight, the plane crash that happened in the middle of the crowded city was captured on video. Take a look.

Taiwan TransAsia Flight 235 just moment after take off from Taipei Taiwan, the French and Italian made ATR 72 turboprop with 58 people onboard either gliding or falling from the sky narrowly missing block of apartment buildings before slicing to a bridge and then hitting the river. Part of the wing hit this car on the bridge. The driver amazingly survived the encounter.

Suddenly a lot of people who likely would have perish if the 20 engine turboprop had not hit the water. Thirty-one people are known to have died and a number remain missing right now. However rescuers did pull out 15 survivors. They also recovered the plane's flight data and (inaudible) voice recorders and each may have a lot to tell.

Their traffic control got a call from the plane shortly before the crash and some of the final words were "Mayday, mayday, engine flameout."

Late today a former Pilot of the same type of their airliner told us he thinks the plane was gliding, therefore, under control until the left wing dipped and the plane fell to earth.

In a short time ago, two other experts weighed in, CNN Aviation Correspondent Richard Quest and CNN Safety Analyst and Crash Investigator David Soucie.

All right, let's take a look here on the magic wall. Just walk us through the video of what is (inaudible) that we're seeing.

RICHARD QUEST, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT: Right, so there's two chart, two particular angles at the moment starting with close up and here you basically see the aircraft coming overhead. It's the dramatic turn if you like and crashing to the bridge.

But if you look at it from a slightly different angle, if you take this particular picture and you see something quite different -- you see something in a different angle, because here you see the plane, if you come straight and you'll the plane and that point is it's pretty straight and on a downward trajectory, but it is still moving with wings both leveled.

It's at this point that the left wing appears to stall and stall very badly and dramatically when there's very little height to the ground and that of course is that. Now, some would suggest it was the pilot trying to avoid this buildings, I think if you look quite clearly, this not the case.

It's an aircraft, it's in its extremist. It is going to faint down. The wing has stalled and it going straight into the water.

COOPER: And David Soucie, obviously it's too early to be sure but from the videos it turned toward the river. Do you think that was intentional?

DAVID SOUCIE, FAA ACCIDENT INVESTIGATOR AND INSPECTOR: You I think, Richard and I flown out to Taipei, I'm sure you have as well and you know that there's a lot of apartments there and you kind to follow the river out to protect from noise pollution over the apartments. So you follow the river just a little bit and you can see there too that as it clears those apartments and maybe a little bit of an optical illusion as it comes over the apartments but I believe that it was trying to make that left turn but I think importantly too, if you look about at that point in the video, you can see that that left prop, I don't think it's feathered.

It looks as though it might be feathered but I don't think it is. COOPER: When you say feathered what is that mean?

SOUCIE: It looks to me that it isn't. That means that the propellers supposed to automatically, when that engine stops producing thrust, the propellers supposed to automatically go from at angle like this to straight on, right with the airflow. That allows no resistance. No wind resistance.

However, if the autofeather switch which is the last you do before you take off, if that hasn't been turned to the on position then the engine fails and you basically have a 12 foot in diameter piece of wood out there that is just preventing the left wing from flying and I think that that might give us a clue there.

I'm anxious to see what the black boxes will tell us because that information is in the black box.

COOPER: But Richard, I mean, if a plane losses one engine, it should still be able to fly, shouldn't it be?

QUEST: Absolutely. And this is the (inaudible).

COOPER: Absolutely.

QUEST: This is the (inaudible) with this one because we know the plane took off, it got to about 1,300 feet. It's about five miles from the airfield and we got this mayday call, "Mayday, mayday, engine flameout."

Now, at that point, remember this is something pilots practice more than anything else, losing an engine on take off. It is the single most practiced thing, but then watch again the video here, this is what David Soucie is talking about.

The plane makes this approach. He is clearly gliding at this point, losing altitude on this turn. Was it deliberate or was it the result of aerodynamic forces? Was this propeller giving any form of lift or was it now as David Soucie just said, was it that big block that was basically killing the lift from the wing at the time?

COOPER: And David, I mean to Richard's point, what kind of training do pilots go through in terms of learning how to deal with the situation where plane losses an engine?

SOUCIE: It's very rigorous. In fact, there's been several accidents that I've looked at when they were practicing the engine off and the pilot didn't realize which engine. I remember this aircraft, the engines, although, they're on the wings they have a centerline of thrust.

So you lose one engine as long is it properly feathers then it's still going to be driving forward, just straight ahead forward so the pilot really has a hard time sometimes in this modern aircraft determining which engine failed.

So the process is to pull back the throttle in the engine that failed. I've done two accidents now in which they were practicing these things, they pull back the power in the wrong engine and then cause the aircraft -- of course, there are no passengers onboard, thankfully.

COOPER: Wow. It's just -- I mean it's unbelievable to see this (inaudible).

QUEST: I suppose that the final piece (inaudible), this is how every aircrafts comes out at the sky in an accident. The extraordinary part about it is that we're seeing it in real time. But never forget what you're looking at there, of course, is death.

COOPER: Tremendous loses. Richard Quest, I appreciate you're being with us, David Soucie as well. Thank you.

In the daylight today, the sheer violence of last night, deadly commuter train crash outside New York was unmistakable. And the wreckage a north bound express train hit an SUV on the tracks killing six people, injuring 15 others.

This was the scene last night at Valhalla. Tonight, eight people are still hospitalized, one in critical condition. And today workers removed the wreckage of that SUV. Investigators aren't sure why it stopped on the tracks as the train was approaching. This is one mystery in what likely to be lengthy investigation.

Tonight, there are also questions about the guidance the passengers got into moments after the crash as fire engulf the first car. You would think they maybe got a lot of instructions that, they didn't.

Rene Marsh joins me now.

What's the latest does -- where exactly does the investigation stand?

RENE MARSH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well at this point, Anderson, they've gone through the process of visually documenting the scene.

You mentioned that the wreckage from the SUV has been removed. The train has also been removed as well. You may some spars behind me from time to time. We know those crews are on the scene, they're trying to repair the track.

They now have recorders so the process is to interview people who were onboard, interview the train's crew. That could start happening as soon as tomorrow. They're going to be looking at the information coming from these train recorders, the event recorders onboard on train.

They'll be able to get information like how fast of the train traveling at that time, when -- were there breaks applied, where there any other mechanical issues going on with the train. They're also going to be focusing on the signals in this area.

As you know vehicles are allowed to cross over these tracks but only once the traffic signals give them the green light, give them the OK. There are recorders on those signals, so investigators are also analyzing that to see were those signals functioning properly.

Because tonight, at this hour, it remains a mystery, no one knows or understands why that SUV was stopped on the tracks, Anderson.

COOPER: And some of the victims, I mean I know they're still being treated. Is there any update on their condition?

MARSH: Right. Well the conditions they range from critical and some are in good condition. We know that the injuries range from laceration, burned, also contusions, those sort of thing.

Again, we have one person who is still in critical condition but there are some in better condition. Again, at this point we know that eight people remain in the hospital, Anderson.

COOPER: And I know some of those who died were burned beyond recognition at this point. It's just horrific. Rene Marsh, I appreciate the update.

Up next, politicians entering the vaccine debate when there really is not really debate to be had. Which will win science or doublespeak? Got to a boost shot, keeping them honest, next.


COOPER: Keeping them honest tonight, some surprising new shots in the war over something there wasn't even upper dispute not so long ago. And the shots in question follows this one, the one in Kentucky Center Rand Paul twitted yesterday of himself getting hepatitis booster.

A long with it, he tweeted, "Ironic, today I'm getting my boaster vaccine. Wonder how the liberal media will misreport this?"

Ironic, it wasn't the liberal media but the (inaudible) conservative Wall Street Journal editorial page and it needled him not for the vaccination he got yesterday but for his remarks about vaccinating kids.


RAND PAUL: I've heard of many tragic cases of walking, talking normal children who wound up with profound mental disorders after vaccines. I'm not arguing vaccines are a bad idea, I think they're a good thing, but I think the parent should have some input. The state...


PAUL: ... doesn't own your children. Parents own the children and it is an issue of freedom.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you Senator I did...


COOPER: Senator Paul subsequently denied he was suggesting a link between vaccines and mental disorders, telling the New York Times he only said, "I've heard of people who've had vaccines and they see a temporal association and they believe that." You can decide for yourself what to make it.

Now, the journal editorial board wasn't buying any of that. "Rand Paul," they wrote, "joined the vaccine follies Monday."

As for the freedom issue, there is this, they said, "He will have to avoid these libertarian dormitory passions if he wants to be a credible candidate."

Finally after slamming New Jersey Governor Chris Christie for his own statement about vaccinating kids and (inaudible) vaccine doubt (inaudible) Jenny McCarthy the editorial wraps with this, "The not-so- great measles vaccine debates of 2015 is one of those events that makes us wonder if there is such a thing as human progress"

Will leave the questions about the faith of humanity to the editorial pages. But what's clear for all of this is that for a few weeks some politicians who seems on presidential ambitions were quick to stick out physicians on childhood vaccination.

Now some of them are Senator Paul and Governor Christie included have been backing away from physicians, they held seemingly just a few hours before getting vaccinated on Twitter.

Democratic including likely Presidential Candidate Hillary Clinton have been pilling on. She recently tweeted, "The science is clear. The earth is round. The sky is blue. And hashtag, vaccines work, let's protect all our kids. Hashtag, grandmothers know best."

In 2008 she was not certain though telling an autism advocacy group, "We don't know what if any kind of link there is between vaccine and autism but we should find out." Well now we know the science is clear, at least it is an overwhelming number of experts in the field.

Let's get former Indiana Congressman Dan Burton who chaired plenty of hearing on vaccines and autism remains skeptic. I spoke to him earlier.

Congressman Burton, I appreciate you're being on the program. During your time in Congress you are very vocal about your belief that there is a link between vaccines given to kids and the alarming rise in autism rates. And I know you repeatedly said, you believe mercury vaccine is a contributing factor in autism, do you still believe that?

DAN BURTON, FORMER U.S. CONGRESSMAN: Well first of all, I am for vaccines -- vaccinations, so I think they're very important. The problem that we had and we had hearings for over three years, was we had scientist and doctors from around the world who said that mercury is toxic and it shouldn't be included in vaccinations.

And one of the reasons why we saw rise in autism from about 1 in 10,000 to 1 in about 80 is because mercury was gathering in a person's brain and children had these mercury toxicities in every shot they were getting. COOPER: But the type of mercury that you're talking about, I mean, thiomersal is the -- is what was use in vaccines and inside of that in to this thiomersal there's ethylmercury, that's been removed from vaccines, was removed from vaccines back in 2001 except for some trace amounts and there some in the inactive influenza of vaccine.

And it was only removed after abundance of caution. I mean there have been a number of studies proving thiomersal mercury had no risk to humans and vaccines.

BURTON: Well, it was removed primarily because we raise so much cane about it in my hearings.

COOPER: Right, but there was no scientific evidence for what you were saying.

BURTON: Oh yes, there was. You're incorrect. It was...

COOPER: Every step -- I mean can you tell me study because every study I've read and I've read many of them have said time and time again it's been proven there's been no correlation between...

BURTON: No, it is...

COOPER: ... the presence of thiomersal and autism.

BURTON: No disrespect is intended sir, but mercury is toxic to the human brain. And neurological problems have been caused by mercury and mercury should not be in vaccines.

My grandson got nine shots in one day, seven of which had mercury in it and he became autistic in a very short period of time. We had scientists from around the world. Now, I am for vaccination...

COOPER: Can you tell me the name of the any of these scientists who claimed this, because they go against to what every study -- I mean, the CDC says this, institutes of health, all the study say you're just wrong.

BURTON: Well I'll be very happy to provide those for you. I didn't bring them with me. But I can tell you, I was a chairman for six year. Three years we had these hearings and we did have those studies and there's no question that many scientists around the world believe that the mercury in vaccination is a contributing factor to neurology problems.

Now listen, I'm for vaccinations but we need to get the mercury out of all of them.

COOPER: Well are you against breastfeeding the child?

BURTON: No, of course not.

COOPER: OK, but you are aware that methylmercury is actually in breast milk that's given to children. And in fact, the presence -- if the child is only breastfeed, they get more methylmercury than they would ever gotten in any of the vaccines. You're aware of that, right?

BURTON: Let me just say I'm not an expert on breastfeeding...

COOPER: You are chairing for three years and nobody ever told that there is mercury in breast milk?

BURTON: We never talked about that. What we've talked about was the vaccinations.


BURTON: And mercury in vaccination should not be there for adults or children.

COOPER: Sir, you're aware that the kind of mercury that was in vaccines which is no longer there is different on the kind of mercury you got from fish, correct?

BURTON: Let me just tell you...

COOPER: Are you aware of that?

BURTON: ... if you'll do your research you'll find that any type of mercury injected in the human body can cause neurological problem.

COOPER: Do you what kind of mercury is in fish?

BURTON: What are you talking about?

COOPER: Well there's different kinds of mercury. There's methylmercury which found in fish, which in high concentrations is toxic to human beings.

BURTON: Right.

COOPER: That's not the mercury that was ever in vaccines. You are aware of that, correct?

BURTON: Well all I can tell you is that, if you'll talk to scientist around the world and look at the studies that we had before the committee, you'll find that they believe that mercury in vaccinations is a contributing factor to neurological problems including autism.

Now, we're for vaccinations...

COOPER: OK sir, I know, you've said that but in 2010 study by the CDC showed that there was no association between prenatal and infant exposure vaccines that contain thiomersal and increase risk for autism. In 2009, in time study show that immunization with thiomersal containing vaccines does not decrease neuropsychological performance later in childhood.

In 2006, the FDA concluded there was no association between thimerosal containing vaccines and autism after reviewing the evidence by the institute of medicine. I mean, the list goes on and on all the way back to 1999 when we were holding this study. The FDA declared the use of thimerosal in child in vaccines causes no harm. And even out of an abundance of caution. They removed it and the incidence of autism continued to rise.

BURTON: You're very bright young man but I don't where you get your information.

COOPER: Well it's called research. You can do it. I...

BURTON: Well I did research -- I did research for three years. Unfortunately, you haven't had the opportunity to research it for three years.

COOPER: All right.

BURTON: And I have...

COOPER: CDC -- there's a CDC. Well there is no convincing evidence of harm caused by the low doses of thimerosal in vaccines except for minor reactions like redness and swelling at the injection side.

I got a list of dozens of studies. I could spend a long time just reading them to you but I don't think it's going to make any difference.

I mean hundreds of thousands of kids have been tested.

BURTON: I will tell you this, you did not tell me you wanted me to bring all those studies but since you're so such an expert on this, I'll be very happy to provide you numerous studies...

COOPER: Right.

BURTON: ... that show that mercury is toxic and shouldn't be in vaccinations.

COOPER: Well listen, I appreciate your time and obviously this is a very personal issue for you and I. I'm sorry, I understand, you know, your passion about it and showing there are a lot of parents who agree with you, but just on a scientific basis you have to admit that the preponderance of evidence is not in your favor.

BURTON: I'd admire you. I watch you a lot on television but I think before you refer to the studies is being completely accurate. You'd better look at all those studies and not just the ones that we're submitted to you.

COOPER: Congressman, I appreciate your time. Thank you.

BURTON: Thank you.

COOPER: And Sanjay Gupta joins us now.

So Sanjay, you heard what former Congressman Burton had to say. What do you make of it? GUPTA: Well, yeah, I mean, you've brought a very important point and I think when it comes to thimerosal, first of all, in mercury containing preservative it's in vaccines to try and, you know, preserve the vaccines and increase the shelf life, keep it free of contamination.

It is a different type of mercury than the ones that typically raise concern. That is methylmercury as you've said. Thimerosal is broken down in the body to something know as ethylmercury.

And this is not one of the ones that, you know, when they talk about the acceptable safety limits, they are talking about methylmercury not ethylmercury. Aside from that, even if you still say, "Look, I'm concern about mercury no matter what shape or form it's in", now, there have been studies, long-term studies that have looked at people who have received the vaccine that contained thimerosal at one point and follow these people out for a long period of time. And they have found no association between those vaccines and autism.

COOPER: Right. And the studies -- I mean, from what I've read of them and I have spend the day doing this in many days before this, I mean, it involves tens of thousands, more 100,000 children in multiple studies, it's not a small sampling.

GUPTA: Its 1.2 million children in the what is known as a meta- analysis and that basically means that they took all these different studies. When you have studies, you have different types of studies. You will have they call prospective study, so you are following people going forward. You have retrospective studies, you follow people looking back in time. You have what are called case-control studies, so you compare a different groups of, you know, different groups of people. And then they look at all of that data and aggregate to try and draw these conclusions.

This was just -- this meta-analysis was just released December of last year and that's when they concluded and it was not equivocal. It wasn't sort of maybe not, they said there is no association to a significant degree. There is no association between autism and vaccines.

COOPER: Sanjay Gupta. I appreciate you being on. Thanks.

GUPTA: You got it. Thank you.

COOPER: We had to edit Congressman Burton's interview a couple of minute just for time. You can see the full interview if you want at

Up next, disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong caught and yet another lie. Police say he hit two parked cars with an SUV after a night of partying in Aspen, but agree to let his girlfriend take the blame to avoid national attention.

Hear the 911 call next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) COOPER: According to late information on gun fired at school in Frederick, Maryland just north of Washington. It happened just after 8 this evening during a junior varsity basketball at Frederick high school.

Spokesman telling us the two students were wounded. They were reportedly suffering non-life-threatening injuries, who are transported to an area hospital for treatment.

Everyone else is currently safe. The school was on lockdown as of few moments ago. No word yet from authorities on who may have done this or whether anyone is in custody. We will of course continue to monitor develop throughout the night out of Frederick. We'll bring you more information as it comes in.

Moving on, the cycle of lung continues for Lance Armstrong. He had his Tour De France titles of course taken away for doping. And now he's in danger winning world's greatest -- or not winning world's greatest boyfriend.

Apparently, Armstrong hit some cars while driving home from a party in later December but his girlfriend took the blame so it couldn't become a "national story."

Jean Casarez is here with the national story.


JEAN CASAREZ: It happened on a snowy night in Aspen, Colorado.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We just had a hit and run.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Two cars were hit. (Inaudible), there are -- maybe total.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The caller didn't know it at that time but he had just been a victim of Lance Armstrong.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What kind of vehicle left the scene?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't scene. We were inside and I just heard somebody moving outside and heard a crash.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And then (inaudible) two cars.

CASAREZ: Moments later, Armstrong's girlfriend, Anna Hansen, appeared at the crash site on foot telling the caller that she was Armstrong's wife.

Armstrong and their car were nowhere to be seen. She apologized, left her contact information and let the scene shortly before police arrived. According to this police report, the next morning, Hansen told police, "Lance had a little bit to drink, so I was driving." Aspen police got suspicious, Armstrong and his girlfriend attended a gay (inaudible), at this resort the night of the crash.

Police interviewed a valet who told them, "Armstrong entered the driver side and drove away." When they ask if Armstrong was intoxicated, the valet said, he "was not stumbling" but couldn't say if he have been drinking.

Hansen met with police again at a court house on New Year's Eve and she changed her story admitting that Armstrong was behind the wheel. When police asked her if Armstrong asked her to take the blame, she said, "No. That was a join decision." And went on say, "I just wanted to protect my family because I thought, gosh, Anna Hansen hit some cars, it's not going to show up in the papers but Lance Armstrong hit some cars, it's going to be a national story.

It is the latest cover up from a man whose name has become synonymous with lying. Allegations of doping swirled around Armstrong for years as he cruised to 7th Tour De France wins. He famously admitted two years of lying to Oprah Winfrey. OPRAH WINFREY: Yes or no. Did you ever take banned substances to enhance your cycling performance? LANCE ARMSTRONG: Yes. CASAREZ: Journalist Juliet Macur has been following Armstrong for years. JULIET MACUR: ... is the rules haven't applied to Lance Armstrong or he hasn't listen to the rules of many, many years and he still doesn't understand that that some people still have to follow the rules.

CASAREZ: As far as this latest incident, charges were dropped against Hansen after she admitted lying. But they were transferred to Armstrong.

He is doing court next month and if found guilty is not expected to serve any time.

Jean Casarez, CNN.


COOPER: Just ahead, the daughter of the late Whitney Houston continues fighting for her life in Atlanta Hospital. Update on her condition next.


COOPER: Bobbi Kristina Brown, a 21-yeard old daughter of the late Whitney Houston remains hospitalize tonight after being found unresponsive in a bathtub in her home last weekend.

An attorney for her father saying Bobby Brown says the events that led to her being hospitalize are being investigated.

Alina Machado joins me now from Atlanta. Do we know more about her condition?

ALINA MACHADO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, we know that Bobbi Kristina remains at Emory University Hospital. She was taken their yesterday. And we also know that her family is still by her side.

In fact, we know that Bobby Brown was seen walking into the hospital today. His mood as you could imagine was incredibly somber.

He did not answer any questions about Bobbi Kristina's condition, about how he was doing, about how the family was holding up during this very difficult time.

Now, at last check, according to a source close to the family, Bobbi Kristina Brown was on a ventilator and in intensive care. We still don't know though the details of her condition or even if doctors have tried again to try to test her brain function like they did earlier this week.

Remember that we know that they were trying to reduce the sedatives earlier this week to see the extent of her brain function and they had to stop that and doctors decided to keep her in coma for the time being, Anderson.

COOPER: And are police saying anything about the investigation into what happened?

MACHADO: Well at this point, police aren't saying much but we did hear today from an attorney representing a man named Maxwell Lomas. Lomas was in the house when Bobbi Kristina was found unresponsive Saturday morning.

His attorney met with police today for a couple of hours and he told us that his client did meet with investigators and has been talking to them as a witness. He also says that it was Lomas and not Nick Gordon who found Bobbi Kristina and called 911.

Gordon as you know is the man that Bobbi Kristina says that she married. She made these claims on social media. The Houston family and the Brown family both are disputing the claim that they are married, Anderson.

COOPER: All right. Alina Machado, I appreciate the update. Thanks very much. That's about wraps it up for us. Thanks very much for watching this special extended edition of AC360.

CNN Tonight with Don Lemon starts now.