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Officials Investigate Cause of Deadly Plane Crash; Zawahiri Releases Videotape; Interview With Jerry Falwell, Al Sharpton

Aired November 29, 2004 - 19:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, HOST: Good evening from New York. I'm Anderson Cooper.
Officials zero in on what caused a fiery plane crash.

360 starts now.

Tragedy in the Rockies. Authorities say NBC executive Dick Ebersol's son is likely dead. Tonight, new details about why the private plane crashed and burned.

A videotape from Osama bin Laden's doctor of death. What's behind this latest message?

A 911 outrage. Two emergency workers snorting cocaine, drinking, and dancing on the job. How could this happen?

The Supreme Court takes a pass. So what happens now to gay marriage in Massachusetts? Reverends Jerry Falwell and Al Sharpton weigh in.

And our special series, Conspiracy Theories: Truth or Paranoia? Tonight, Roswell, UFOs, and renewed calls to find out what really happened in the Nevada desert.

ANNOUNCER: Live from the CNN Broadcast Center in New York, this is ANDERSON COOPER 360.

COOPER: And a good evening to you.

All day long, investigators have been trying to determine what went so very wrong so very quickly on that runway in Colorado. Today, we learned the private plane carrying one of the best-known men in broadcasting and his two sons were not de-iced, was not de-iced before takeoff.

NBC Sports executive Dick Ebersol and one of his sons are still believed to be in the hospital right now, as is the plane's flight attendant. Two crew members are dead, and today a Colorado coroner announced it's likely Ebersol's 14-year-old son is also dead as well. He is, though, listed as still missing.

Sean Callebs is at scene of the crash.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) SEAN CALLEBS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A fiery crash that NBC Sports chief Dick Ebersol and his oldest son walked away from. But this real-life drama didn't have a feel-good ending. The pilot and co-pilot of the chartered jet are dead, and Ebersol's 14-year-old son, known as Teddy, was apparently jettisoned from the aircraft during the crash. Hours of searching in the snowy terrain turned up no sign of the teen.

MATT EILTS, MONTROSE COUNTY CHIEF DEPUTY CORONER: We have done a complete, thorough search of the area surrounding the crash site now looking for the potential of an ejection. We have been unsuccessful in finding anybody. We believe at this time that the boy has probably perished within the crash.

CALLEBS: An eyewitness says the Canadian-built Challenger 600 jet first lurched to the right during takeoff, then back toward the center before crashing through a fence, across a road, and into a field.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You could definitely smell fuel. There was small flames starting to -- out of front and back of the airplane both, there were small flames starting to rise. And you could tell it was just a matter of time before, you know, that thing went into a big inferno of flame.

CALLEBS: At the time of the crash, it was cold, blustery, and snowing. But the airport's fixed-based operators responsible for fueling and some maintenance of the planes say the pilots never asked to have the aircraft de-iced.

SCOTT BROWNLEE, MONTROSE AIRPORT MANAGER: That's up to the individual airlines as to whether they de-ice or not. And in the case of a corporate airplane, it's the pilot in command's decision.


CALLEBS: Well, live in Montrose now, and a decision by another pilot, this one in the U.K., not to de-ice was blamed for another fatal crash involving the Canada Air Challenger, this accident, back in January of 2002. It was the last fatal incident of this make of aircraft which, Anderson, is generally considered to have a very solid safety record.

Now, we could know more about this in just an hour. We just (UNINTELLIGIBLE) now that the National Transportation Safety Board plans to hold a news conference out here, bring us up to date on their latest information, Anderson.

COOPER: Sean, thanks for that. Of course, if there is any new information, we'll pass that along to you at home.

You know, cable news has a way of making a small story seem much bigger than it is. Problems end up seeming worse than they really are. It's easy to lose perspective. We hear about small plane crashes an awful lot, especially those involving celebrities.

But are small planes any less safe than larger ones? Tonight, we put that in perspective.


COOPER (voice-over): The pictures are frightening, the 18-seat airplane carrying NBC Sports chairman Dick Ebersol and two of his sons, slid off a runway in Colorado. The cockpit burst into flames.

It's not surprising that the rich and famous would seek out the convenience of private planes, or that, when those planes crash, it captures national attention.

Like the October crash that killed 10 friends and family members of Rick Hendrick (ph), owner of the NASCAR company Hendrick Motor Sports. The pilot missed his approach on landing.

The 2002 crash that killed Senator Paul Wellstone in snowy northern Minnesota. The 2001 crash that killed singer Aliya. The plane was overload. And maybe the most memorable, the 1999 crash that killed John F. Kennedy, Jr., his wife, and her sister. The cause, pilot error. Golfer Payne Stewart, singer John Denver both killed in private plane crashes with different causes.

So are small aircraft as safe in the skies as jumbo jets? It may surprise you to hear that the answer is yes.

TONY VELOCCI, EDITOR IN CHIEF, "AVIATION WEEK AND SPACE TECHNOLOGY": In 2003, the fatality rate among corporate aircraft, corporate jets, all right, was 0.12 accidents, (UNINTELLIGIBLE), excuse me, fatalities per 100,000 flight hours. In commercial aviation, it was something like 0.11.

COOPER: And no matter the size, the planes are subject to the same safety rules. Despite snow and freezing temperature, the plane carrying Dick Ebersol and his sons wasn't de-iced before takeoff, and it didn't have to be. But then, neither do jumbo jets.

VELOCCI: The final decision is the crew's.

COOPER: One difference, smaller planes often use smaller airports that may not have the same sophisticated weather, communications, and navigational abilities as larger ones, just one thing the experts say passengers should consider before takeoff.

VELOCCI: My advice to people who are inclined to use private aviation is to stick with well-known, reputable operators who are going to exercise the best judgment when it comes to flying these aircraft.


COOPER: Well, we turn now from tragedy to terror. It seems al Qaeda is figuring this country could use what they call advice. A videotaped message from Ayman al-Zawahiri, Osama bin Laden's right- hand man, was recorded before the presidential election and offers the familiar refrain of threats. But whenever these men, these men who are in hiding, these men who kill thousands of innocents, do emerge, we think it's worth listening to see what, if anything, we can learn about the threat we all face.

CNN national security correspondent David Ensor has details on the message from Zawahiri.


DAVID ENSOR, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): On a tape delivered to Al Jazeera television, apparently made before the November 2 U.S. election, al Qaeda's number-two man offers what he calls final advice to America.


AYMAN AL-ZAWAHIRI, DEPUTY LEADER, AL QAEDA (through translator): We are telling the American nation, elect whoever you want, Bush, Kerry, or even Satan himself. We do not care. What's important to us is to cleanse our land from the aggressors and fight everyone who invades our land and violates our sacred symbols and steals our wealth.


ENSOR: Similar in tone to Osama bin Laden's last tape, which was delivered to al Jazeera just before the presidential election, the message speaks to Americans, telling them the U.S. must change its policies towards the Muslim world.

PETER BERGEN, CNN TERRORISM ANALYST: Seems to me it's quite possible these tapes were made at the same time. They both talk about the election as if they don't know the outcome. We don't care if Bush or Kerry wins. They're probably likely either together or traveling, or know where each other are, is. Why not make both of these tapes at the same time?

ENSOR: Last week, Pakistan announced it would withdraw federal troops from southern Waziristan, the tribal province bordering Afghanistan, where many experts say Zawahiri and bin Laden were last believed to be hiding.

(on camera): By Bergen's count, this is the 28th tape released by bin Laden or al-Zawahiri since the attacks of September 11. Less than half of those tapes have been followed by subsequent attacks. They seem in part to be designed to warn the world that al Qaeda is still in the game.

David Ensor, CNN, Washington.


COOPER: Well, the deadline for national elections in Iraq is approaching quickly, though a peaceful democracy there seems very far off, to say the least. Insurgents are still striking hard, and, as we speak, coalition forces are hunting them down and north and just south of Baghdad.

Today a car bomb exploded outside an Iraqi police station near the city of Ramadi, killing at least six people, wounding eight others. The bombing happened about a half hour after a U.S. patrol struck an improvised explosive device in northwestern Baghdad. That killed two soldiers.

Meanwhile, a British newspaper has obtained this amateur video, apparently taken by insurgents, as they carried out attacks on U.S. forces.

"TIME" magazine reporter Michael Ware is very familiar with these images and these kind of tactics. He was the, he was with coalition forces in Falluja when they retook the city. Michael Ware is back in the U.S. temporarily, and he joins me now.

Michael, it's good to see you here.

MICHAEL WARE, "TIME" MAGAZINE: Pleasure, Anderson.

COOPER: You've been in Iraq now for some two years or so. The big complaint here is that the images we see don't tell the whole story. Is it worse or is it better, do you think, than what people here see on TV?

WARE: Well, clearly it's very difficult for me to tell you whether it's worse than what you're consuming here, because I'm not privy to that. But what I can tell you is that I suspect it's very much worse than what you hear. I mean, I see very little positives right now. Certainly, my life and the life of the Iraqis that I deal with has shrunk. It's become far more dire. Our day-to-day existence is nightmarish.

COOPER: Well, what's amazing is, even in the city of Baghdad, you say, I mean, there are now whole areas which are under insurgent or foreign fighter control.

WARE: Yes, this has been brewing for a long time. And, in fact, Zarqawi himself, his organization, which has recently re-merged with al Qaeda, they physically control parts of the city, entire quarters. Most prominent is known as Haifa Street. This is an area of intense (UNINTELLIGIBLE)...

COOPER: That's near the U.S. embassy.

WARE: ... near the essential complexes. That's right. And it's directly across the river from the embassy. And it's within mortar range. They are free to lob mortars and rockets on the U.S. embassy compound in the green zone, and U.S. forces can do very little about it. Zarqawi owns this piece of turf.

COOPER: How important is Zarqawi now to the insurgency?

WARE: Well, he's pivotal in many, many ways. Certainly if he was to be taken out, this would be a enormous disruption to the insurgency. It wouldn't end it, however. But I can tell you now, he's the focal point, and he's the man who has benefited most from the war in Iraq.

I mean, prior to the invasion, he was a marginal character in the jihadi milieu. Well, we've turned him into the star. And in a broader sense, we are the midwives to the next generation of al Qaeda. After Afghanistan, they lacked the platform to (UNINTELLIGIBLE)...

COOPER: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) but didn't we have an option, though, in turning him into a star? I mean, you know, if he's the guy heading a lot of these attacks, was there any other way?

WARE: Well, I guess it's how you handled the invasion and its immediate aftermath. Certainly I know that many of the intelligence agencies, including the CIA, were seeking a different route to Baghdad. They were preferring a coup d'etat. Essentially the concept was, cut off the head and leave the body intact, and then remove the cancers as you go.

Why, opening up the free-for-all that we have, we have laid clear a very fertile ground for al Qaeda.

COOPER: And that's what it is, it's a free-for-all.

WARE: Absolutely. They dictate the momentum of battle now, and they're dictating the space. I mean, I'll give you a very narrow window through my prism. I used to be able to travel the entire country relatively freely, always inherent with risk, but I could go anywhere I wanted.

More recently, after April, my movement was restricted to Baghdad itself. Now, if I step outside my compound, there are kidnap teams literally circling. A journalist was kidnapped 300 meters outside our gate. And while we stay inside, they're dropping now mortars on us at whim.

COOPER: Remarkable. Michael Ware, I really appreciate you stopping by. Your reporting has been fantastic. Thank you very much.

WARE: My pleasure, thank you, Anderson.


WARE: All right, thank you.

COOPER: Well, here at home, a Black Hawk down, and seven U.S. soldiers are dead. That's what's happening cross-country. Let's take a look.

It happened in Bruceville Eddy (ph), Texas. A Fort Hood chopper went down in heavy fog after hitting support wires on a TV station's transmission tower. The station's general manager says the tower's warning lights stopped working last week after strong storms. He says the FAA was notified.

Bethesda, Maryland, now, a parking garage under construction collapses. There it is. One worker was killed, several others injured on the site of the National Institutes of Health. Investigators believe a beam slipped, causing the garage to collapse.

Fort Lauderdale, Florida, now, the youngest person in modern U.S. history to be sentenced to life in prison is allowed to live with his mom again. The judge has ruled 17-year-old Lionel Tate can leave his guardian's home because they felt visits from probation officers were too stressful. Nearly four years ago, Tate was convicted of killing a playmate while imitating wrestling moves he'd seen on TV. But after a new trial, he was set free on probation.

Badeville (ph), North Carolina, now, Michael Jordan's older brother is headed for Iraq. Command Sergeant Major James Jordan has asked to delay his mandatory retirement so he can complete the year- long deployment with his brigade. The 47-year-old hits his year 30- mark in April.

In L.A., bundles of joy for Julia Roberts, one month early. The actress gave birth to twins over the weekend, a girl and a boy named Hazel and Phineas, perhaps from "A Separate Peace," we're not sure.

And that's a quick look at stories cross-country tonight.

360 next, you call 911, you know, expecting help, but as we're going to tell you in a moment, some emergency workers were allegedly sniffing coke, drinking, and doing God knows what else, all caught on tape. You really got to see this tape to believe it. We'll show it to you ahead.

Plus, the Supreme Court rules same-sex marriage stands in Massachusetts. Has justice been served? Covering all the angles, Jerry Falwell and Al Sharpton, two perspectives, join us tonight.

Also ahead, aliens, UFOs, and Roswell, New Mexico, a story that will not go away. Why are some people now asking for the investigation to be reopened? (UNINTELLIGIBLE) New Mexico's governor. That's part of our special Conspiracy Theories: Truth or paranoia?

All that ahead. First, let's take a look at your picks, the most popular stories on right now.


COOPER: Today, California's highest court rejected Scott Peterson's appeal for a new jury and a change in venue for the penalty phase of the trial. Frankly, it's really not a big surprise. Tomorrow morning, the court reconvenes in Redwood City to determine his fate. The same six men and six women who found him guilty of murdering his wife and unborn son will decide what happens next.

Now, the state wants him to die, and they're using some new, never-before-seen picture of Laci Peterson to remind jurors why.

CNN's Ted Rowlands has the pictures and the story.


TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Prosecutors are expected to show childhood photos of Laci Peterson as they try to convince jurors that Scott Peterson should be put to death. The photos are a part of a video presentation of the Laci Peterson memorial service held in Modesto after her death.

The video, which was seen last week by the judge, is expected to include a tribute set to the song "Brown-Eyed Girl," which many of the thousands that attended the service clapped along with.

Prosecution witnesses are expected to include Laci Peterson's family members and close friends. The same jury that found Peterson of first- and second-degree murder will decide his fate, either the death penalty or life in prison without parole.

Scott Peterson had no criminal record, which his lawyers are expected to highlight. They will also remind the jury that prosecutors never found a crime scene or a murder weapon and that a circumstantial conviction doesn't deserve death.

They're also expected to have an expert witness detail the horrors of prison life, hoping that jurors who believe Scott Peterson killed his wife will choose a life sentence over death.

Ted Rowlands, CNN, San Francisco.


COOPER: Ukraine's outgoing president says a new election may be the only way to solve the country's political crisis. That tops our look at what's happening around the world in the uplink. Let's take a look.

In Kiev, thousands of people still rallying outside Ukraine's supreme court as its justices consider whether last week's election was a fraud. Election officials have declared Ukraine's prime minister the winner, but the opposition candidate says the vote was rigged.

Ukraine TV now is showing this video as an example of fraud, reportedly, a support of the opposition candidate getting beaten up. Just one of many incidences that's being reported.

Tehran, Iran, now, students protest the U.S.-led war in Iraq. Flags were burned. Familiar sight, certainly, in Tehran, outside the British embassy. Rocks were thrown, breaking some windows. Police used tear gas to break up the crowd.

Northern Japan, now, a powerful morning jolt. Take a look. Seven-point-one quake hit quake hit before dawn. It explains why no one was at this office shaking along with the books. Luckily, no deaths were reported. Thirteen people, however, were injured.

King Island, Australia, and Maria Island, Tasmania, heartbreak on the shoreline. Hate to see this. More than 100 beached whales and dolphins have died. Scientists say a predator, such as killer whale or maybe even colder water temperatures, could have driven the animals to their deaths. And that is the end of tonight's uplink.

360 next, drinks, drugs, and 911. A firefighter and a dispatcher allegedly partying on the job, all of it caught on tape. We'll show you the video that busted them.

Also tonight, botox under investigation. That's right, botox. Did the popular cosmetic drug make four people seriously ill? And if it did, why? We have the latest in a case that spans two states.

And a little later, the Supreme Court lets same-sex marriage stand. They choose not to address it. The Reverends Jerry Falwell and Al Sharpton go head to head coming up.

Also tonight, the 360 challenge. How closely have you been following today's news? We'll put you to the test.

We'll be right back.


COOPER: Well, want to tell you about two people caught on tape. They're accused of snorting cocaine, drinking, and dancing. Now, they weren't college kids. It wasn't a party. They were apparently working, and their job was at a 911 call center in Lawrence, Massachusetts.

CNN's Dan Lothian has the tape.


DAN LOTHIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In black and white, the surveillance video shows a firefighter and dispatcher in the 911 control center drinking what appears to be beer, and more than a dozen times, snorting what officials allege is cocaine.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's quite a bit of drugs at the location.

LOTHIAN: Firefighter Ysidro Cordero (ph) and dispatcher Judy Britto (ph) work for the city of Lawrence north of Boston. Acting on a tip that they and other nonemployee friends often partied while working in the fire department's control room, authorities installed a hidden camera two weeks ago on the overnight shift. Stunned and angered by what he saw, the city's mayor fired both workers.

MAYOR MICHAEL SULLIVAN, LAWRENCE, MASSACHUSETTS: We don't tolerate any inappropriate actions at work, especially when you're taking emergency phone calls.

ENSOR: The mayor says during 14-hour shift, Cordero and Britto handled serious calls, like a car collision and a building fire, without any apparent problems. But he's concerned about what may have gone unnoticed in the past.

(on camera): The now-former city employees could not be reached for comment, but the police department and the mayor say Cordero admitted to taking drugs and drinking on the job when confronted with the tape. Britto, they say, continued to deny any wrongdoing.

(voice-over): An investigation has been launched, but the police department doesn't anticipate any charges.

POLICE CHIEF JOHN ROMERO, LAWRENCE, MASSACHUSETTS: In the absence of having the physical evidence, you wouldn't be able to bring a criminal prosecution forward on that particular incident.

ENSOR: Hit by the scandal, the city of Lawrence is now trying to reassure residents that they can still have confidence when calling 911, despite what they see in black and white.

Dan Lothian, CNN, Boston.


COOPER: Unbelievable.

Well, mobbed by the media. In New York today, you'd think the tall man wearing dark sunglasses was an actor. In reality, Robert Chambers is a killer, the infamous preppie killer who strangled a well-to-do teenaged girl in Central Park in 1996. He was released from prison last year, but Chambers is now back in the headlines and back in court to face some new trouble.

CNN's Adaora Udoji reports.


ADAORA UDOJI, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Surrounded by reporters, Robert Chambers, the so-called preppie killer, headed to court today, his past, though, not far behind. Chambers became a household name in 1986 after 18-year-old Jennifer Levin's strangled body was found in Central Park. The tabloids seized on his claim the wealthy and popular prep student died accidentally during rough sex.


ROBERT CHAMBERS: Jennifer's looking down on this now at the circus arena, looking and wondering why it all happened. And I don't know. I never wished any of this to happen. I never wanted any of this to happen.


UDOJI (on camera): His troubles didn't end there. After pleading guilty to manslaughter, New York prison officials say Chambers was denied parole five times, and served the 15-year maximum because of consistent discipline problems, including drugs, assaulting staff, and handling weapons.

(voice-over): A year and a half after his release, he now faces misdemeanor charges. Prosecutors say he was driving without a license and had cocaine and heroin in the car. Chambers had nothing to say publicly, but his lawyer did. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My colleague and I, Rob Dunn (ph), believe there was some grandstanding by the district attorney, which is not unusual.

UDOJI: The lawyers would not comment on the drug charge. They would say he's been working hard in the retail industry.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He has been working six days a week, not really getting home until 8:00 p.m. in the evening. And he's trying again to become a productive member of society, and doing the best he can.

UDOJI: If convicted, Chambers could spend a year in jail.

Adaora Udoji, CNN, New York.


COOPER: The Supreme Court takes a pass. So what happens now to gay marriage in Massachusetts? Reverends Jerry Falwell and Al Sharpton weigh in.

And our special series, Conspiracy Theories: Truth or Paranoia? Tonight, Roswell, UFOs, and renewed calls to find out what really happened in the Nevada desert.

360 continues.


COOPER: 360 next, UFOS and Roswell, New Mexico, it's the epicenter for alien conspiracy theorists and there are a lot of them. Is it a big cover-up or a big hoax. Taking a closer look.

But first top stories in "The Reset."

In Washington, President Bush has picked a Cuban born American to be the next commerce secretary. Carlos Gutierrez is the CEO of breakfast maker Kellogg. If confirmed by the Senate, he has replaced out going secretary, Don Evans.

Also in D.C., the Supreme Court is hearing debate over the use of medical marijuana. Eleven states have passed medicinal marijuana laws since 1996, and the high court is questioning whether those laws are being abused by people who are not sick. The justices plan to rule on the matter before next summer.

In Santa Maria, California, a judge in the Michael Jackson case refused to order mental tests for Jackson's accuser. Jackson is charged, of course, with child molestation, defense wanted to conduct its own mental exams on the accuser and his family so that it could effectively cross-examine a psychiatrist who previously interviewed the family. No dice though.

Across the country now, schools becoming less violent. And some good news here. The government says violent crime against students fell nearly 50 percent between 1992 and 2002. In 2002 there were 24 violent crimes for every 1,000 student.

At White House, Christmas time is definitely here. Today, there you see the horse drawn wagon brought in an 18 1/2-Foot Christmas tree to the president's home. First lady, Laura Bush, says the White House decorating will be finished by Wednesday just in time for the season's first party.

That's tonight's "Reset." We'll see if we get invited.

Tonight we begin a special series on conspiracy theories. Now, Americans can't get enough of them. Later in the week we're going to look at why that may be. But tonight we start by relooking at a story that fascinate people for decades.

In July 1947 an object crashed in the Roswell desert. The government said it was a weather balloon, but witnesses claim it was something extraterrestrial.

And according to a recent Zogby poll, 33 percent of Americans believe the witnesses and say that government officials covering up a spaceship crash and now a powerful politician has said all the facts should be known.

CNN's Gary Tuchman examines the case in the first part of a special series called conspiracy theories, truth or paranoia.


GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): During a lightning storm after the sun went down, something crash landed near Roswell, New Mexico.

(on camera): Is there any doubt in your mind what happened is a spacecraft from somewhere else outside of earth crashed in New Mexico?


TUCHMAN (voice-over): Julie Schuster is the director of the UFO Research Center in Roswell, where many believe Washington has covered up an alien visit.

SHUSTER: The government likes to have power, and that's a secret to keep from the masses.

TUCHMAN: This is the area where the incident happened. High plains northwest of Roswell where a rancher found unusual metal debris buried in a trench hundred was feet long 57-years-ago. And he also had another noteworthy observation, he said he saw little bodies, too.

That rancher was Mac Brazel who died in 1963. Two of his grandchildren are Jim Brazel and Faun Fritz.

FAUN FRITZ, MAC BRAZEL'S GRANDDAUGHTER: I said grandpa was there any people, did you see people. And he said sweetie, he said, they were just poor little creatures. TUCHMAN: The grandchildren say Mac Brazel was forced to close his mouth under threat his family would be harmed. Frank Kauffman worked at the Roswell army airfield and said he saw UFO wreckage, a few years before he died, he declared.

FRANK KAUFMANN, EYEWITNESS: We took an oath of secrecy. We took an oath in 1947.

TUCHMAN: A half century after the Roswell incident. The Pentagon issued the Roswell report case closed. Saying what witness saw was a top secret project to pick up sounds of Soviet nuclear tests.

COL. JOHN HAYNES, U.S. AIR FORCE: And when you put all that stuff together and you spin it, you find that it fits perfectly with many of the occurrences in Roswell during that era.

TUCHMAN: But with worldwide claims of UFOs numbers in the tens of thousands in recent decades, there are many who still have question, including New Mexico's Governor Bill Richardson who tells CNN he is seeking a full disclosure of any and all materials relating to the incident at Roswell, New Mexico.

He and many other people aren't so sure Roswell is a case closed.

Gary Tuchman, CNN, Roswell, New Mexico.


COOPER: Well, as always on 360, we like to look at all sides of an issue. And there are plenty of differing opinions about UFO's in Roswell.

Joining me now from Los Angeles is Michael Shermer, author of several books on pseudoscience and publisher of "Skeptic Magazine." You can probably guess where he stands on the UFO matter.

And in Ceder Rapids, Iowa is Kevin Randle, a researcher and believer in UFOs, who has written several books on them as well.

Both of you, we appreciate joining us, gentlemen.

Mr. Randle, let me start off with you. What do you really think happened in Roswell, New Mexico that night in 1947?

KEVIN RANDLE, UFO RESEARCHER: I think the evidence is persuasive. What happened is a crash of an alien spacecraft.

COOPER: Why New Mexico of all places?

RANDLE: In 1947 New Mexico was the place where the research was being done, atomic testing was going on over at White Sands. There was missile launches going there, and if I'm an alien space creature, the one thing I want to see is, what these creatures on Earth can do to endanger me. And that would be a place I'd go first to look.

COOPER: All right. Mr. Shermer, in your opinion, is there any credible physical evidence?

Is there anything from the crash site proving that something happened in Roswell that defies conventional explanation?

MICHAEL SHERMER, PUBLISHER, "SKEPTIC" MAGAZINE: Well, Anderson, I need to previse my remarks by noting that, there are no conspiracies, there is no cover-up, there was no crash and the government never lies.

COOPER: Yes, OK. I don't think anyone believes you. But hold on.

RANDLE: I have to throw in with him on that.

SHERMER: Even that as a pop culture icon shows how deeply embedded this who mythology has become. Nothing happened at Roswell outside of the typical cold war secrets of testing technology.

COOPER: But, you don't buy the weather balloon story.

SHERMER: Well, it wasn't a weather balloon. We now know it was a high altitude surveillance balloon meant to monitor Soviet upper atmosphere testing of nuclear explosions.

RANDLE: Actually what it was, was in fact, a weather balloon.

COOPER: Why do you say that?

RANDLE: It was a series of weather balloons, Project Mogul, the top secret project to look at this sort of thing. But it was designed out of weather balloons. There was nothing extraordinary about them. It was weather balloon is something people there should have known.

SHERMER: And the debris found was aluminum foil, scotch tape and basil wood. So either star ships are made out of really cheap material or in fact, that's all it was, was these modified weather balloons...

COOPER: Mr. Randle, is that true?

RANDLE: No, that's not true. What the descriptions of the material was a foil that they described like aluminum foil, but when you wad it in a ball it will unfold itself. They talked about...

SHERMER: But even in your own book, you have a picture of the famous debris being held up, it Looks exactly like aluminum foil.

RANDLE: That debris -- that picture taken at General Ramey's office. We publish in the Roswell encyclopedia, was part of a Roswell target from a weather balloon, there's no doubt about that. General Dubose who was there at the time, says the weather balloon was brought in as a substitute for the real debris. Here's the man who was the chief of staff of the 8th Air Force at the time, telling us that the debris was substituted to get the reporters off General Ramey's back.

COOPER: So, Mr. Randle, why would, in your opinion, the U.S. Government lie about this and continue to try cover it up more than 50 years later?

RANDLE: I think, back in 1947 it makes perfect sense, simply because we come out of a very disastrous war. If this craft is something extraterrestrial, and we can understand the secrets, then suddenly we take a step beyond our competitors in the world at time, the Soviet Union. We have the technology.

SHERMER: What I would like to know is, in 1967 pro-Ufologist named Ted Bleaker published a book about the amazing sightings of 1947, in which he said there were 853 unusual UFO sightings in June and July, not one of them was Roswell. Nothing happened in Roswell until 1980. The mythology began with the publication of tabloid articles...

COOPER: What is it that makes in your opinion -- what is it in your opinion that makes the conspiracy fall apart.

SHERMER: ... documentaries and books. It's a mythology that began in the 1980s with rise of science fiction culture, not in 1947.

RANDLE: Actually in 1947, all the newspapers, including the "New York Times", the "Los Angeles Times" carried stories about the crash at Roswell.

The first indications were from the newspapers, that a flying saucer had been captured in the Roswell region. Within hours, General Ramey and we talked about General Dubose, telling us this is a cover story put out within hours. They said, no, no, it's a weather balloon...

COOPER: So, Mr. Shermer, why didn't they put out this press release right away?

SHERMER: Well, we have to remember, of course, when I said government never lies. Well, of course governments lie about national security things. There was a bit of confusion, there was a bit of deception, yes. But in the interest of national security. Why would they lie about something silly like aliens? I mean, this would be a big boost to science budgeting. In fact, the whole idea of government cover-up still going on today is ridiculous prima facie, because that is exactly what somebody like NASA would love to be able to present to the American public and more importantly Congress, that look, we have the things and we need funding to find out more about it.

COOPER: We're going to have to leave it there, and I know you guys could obviously go on with this probably all night long. No one will probably get -- have their opinions made up one way or another, but we appreciate you joining us, Kevin Randle and Michael Shermer, interesting subject. Thanks very much.

We're going to explore conspiracy theories all this week on 360. Tomorrow, who really killed Martin Luther King Jr.? Small-time crook James Earl Ray was convicted as the lone murderer, but some people have reason to believe others were involved. We'll take a look at the evidence as we know it. On Wednesday, the 1996 crash of TWA flight 800. Still a lot of theories about this. Did a fuel tank spark cause the plane to explode, or was it shot down, as some are saying?

On Thursday, the origin of HIV, why some people say the U.S. government is behind it all. We'll take a look at the facts.

And on Friday, the conspiracy of the year, was this month's presidential election stolen? A lot of e-mails on that, of course.

360 next, Jerry Falwell and Al Sharpton. Their take on the Supreme Court's decision to let gay marriage stand in Massachusetts. We're covering both sides of the debate. Back in a moment.

Plus, a Botox investigation, four people hospitalized. What went wrong?

Also ahead tonight, much lighter subject -- leaping lizards, Godzilla middle-aged, he may want some of that Botox soon. We'll take that to "The Nth Degree."

And in a moment, today's 360 challenge. How closely have you been following today's news? Find out next.


COOPER: Time now for the 360 challenge. Be the first to answer all three questions correctly, we'll send you a 360 shirt.

Number one, which Osama bin Laden associate released a tape today or aired the tape today vowing to fight the U.S.?

Number two, where did a rancher find what was believed to be wreckage from a UFO in 1947?

And finally, actress Julia Roberts has named her newborn twins Hazel and what? Give you a hint: It's a boy. Take the challenge. Log on to, click on the answer link. Answer first, you'll get the shirt. Find out Friday's challenge winner and tonight's answers, coming up later.


COOPER: A setback today for opponents of gay marriage in Massachusetts. The U.S. Supreme Court has refused to hear an appeal aimed at overturning the state's same-sex marriage law. It's the only state that allows it. That means in Massachusetts, gay couples will likely be able to marry until at least 2006, when voters may have the chance to amend the state's constitution to ban gay marriage but allow civil unions.

Across the country on Election Day earlier this month, 11 states passed anti-gay marriage initiatives, and groups on both sides of the debate are saying the fight is far from over.

Joining us tonight from Lynchburg, Virginia, is the Reverend Jerry Falwell, chancellor of Liberty University. And in New York, former Democratic presidential candidate, the Reverend Al Sharpton.

Gentlemen, appreciate both of you joining us.

Reverend Falwell, let me start off with you. You have said that when we violate the word of God, you said, quote, "we bring the judgment of God upon the culture." Is God going to punish the people of Massachusetts for allowing gay marriages?

REV. JERRY FALWELL, CHANCELLOR, LIBERTY UNIVERSITY: I can only say that Sodom and Gomorra, the story in the Bible, is very real. And Al Sharpton and I are both preachers of the Gospel, we know that account. I do believe the family -- the family has always been for 6,000 years of recorded history one man married to one woman. And the fact that the Supreme Court refused to hear the case today is just increased evidence that we desperately need the federal marriage amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which will forever put out of reach of any court or legislature the definition of the family as one man, one woman.

COOPER: But there are repercussions -- are there repercussions for the people of Massachusetts, for allowing gay marriage in their state?

FALWELL: Well, I think this, that the spiritually unhealthy legalization of a reality, a man married to a man, a woman married to a woman, cannot help but to leave a very bad role model for the children of Massachusetts and...

COOPER: But you don't think God is going to punish them?

FALWELL: Well, I think that that is punishment, when you hurt your children and lead bad role models and lead kids into immorality.

COOPER: Reverend Sharpton, Reverend Falwell said that it makes it all the more important to have a federal marriage amendment. Elizabeth Birch, former head of the Human Rights Campaign, said a couple of months ago this past election, she said, quote, the issue of gay marriage, was quote, "being used as a cheap political shot to really ignite the right wing, all of Jerry Falwell's followers in an election year." Do you believe it was just a cheap political stunt? I mean, do you think President Bush is going to push to get a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage?

REV. AL SHARPTON (D), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I absolutely think it was a cheap political stunt, because first of all, President Bush was running for presidency in the executive branch of government, who has little or nothing to do with how marriages are decided, or even determined in this country. So I think he got a lot of Americans off what he, as president, is ordained to do or is supposed to do, and got them arguing about something that really doesn't fall under his influence. He can take a position, but it really has nothing to do with being president.

So in that context, I certainly agree with her.

I also think it's very interesting that this court, that is very conservative -- in many ways have ruled in ways that we didn't agree, including giving Bush the election in 2000, are the ones that said we're not going to interfere in this matter.

I think marriage is a two-pronged thing. We have marriage based on the church and the church has the right to take that position. But you have marriage based on law, and based on law, I think that we do not have the right to tell people that they have to conduct their lives in the way we may believe according to our religion or according to our own sense of values. People have the right, if they're consenting adults, to make decisions even if we believe they're sinful.

COOPER: Reverend Falwell, you in the past of course have equated homosexuality to smoking crack or bestiality. And I understand why you oppose marriage on religious grounds for gays. I guess I'm less clear on your stance on civil -- civil unions. You know, there are a lot of financial legal benefits that heterosexual families get that homosexual ones don't. Is that fair?

FALWELL: Well, back to what my friend Al just said a moment ago. If what he said is so, then we have no right to outlaw polygamy or bestiality or any kind of diverse family form, if in fact the government cannot state what a family is. But you're asking me what now?

COOPER: Well, you just did it there, you equated again homosexuality with bestiality. You didn't make the smoking crack comment.

FALWELL: Well, I think homosexuality can be equated with adultery among heterosexuals. All sex outside of the marriage bond between a man and a woman in scripture -- and I'm a Christian who takes the Bible seriously...

COOPER: But my question is about civil unions.

FALWELL: ... it's a sin, it's wrong. Civil union...

SHARPTON: So can we have a constitutional amendment on adultery?

FALWELL: Well, civil union, whether you call it civil union or call it marriage, if a man is living in a marriage bond with a man or a woman with a woman, or a man with somebody else's wife, or a woman with somebody else's husband, all of that is immorality according to the Bible that Al Sharpton and I both preach.


SHARPTON: But let me say this: There's a lot in that Bible. Are you saying that we ought to have a constitutional amendment on adultery? Should we have a constitutional amendment on more than one marriage? Should we have a constitutional amendment on lying about weapons in Iraq? I mean, let's read the whole Bible, Reverend. Why are we going to take one part of the Bible and make that a constitutional law, and reject the rest of the Bible?

FALWELL: Well, I for one, wish that there were no adultery. I've never maintained that we should invade bedrooms.

SHARPTON: That wasn't the question.

FALWELL: But when you talk about marriage, it's like abortion is a life issue and marriage is a family issue. And those are the two fundamental basic doctrines of a civilized culture. We must give right to life to all, unborn and born, and we must guarantee that a family is forever protected as one man and one woman.

COOPER: But there are a lot of gay families out there, Reverend Falwell, there are a lot of gay families out there. I think there are like a million kids being raised by gay parents who say that if you want to protect families, you know, civil unions will give inheritance rights, will give Social Security, survivor benefits rights to...

FALWELL: Anderson, that's all a red herring. If you want to leave something to your cat, you can do that in your will...

COOPER: It's not a red herring. That's simply not true. It's not true. You know you pay taxes...

FALWELL: Are you telling me that two men living together cannot make a will out, each of them...

COOPER: They can, but they don't have the same survivor benefits and health insurance benefits in many state, in your state. They get taxed more heavily than a straight married couple does.

FALWELL: That's a different subject. We're talking about economically rewarding this behavior. I don't think we should -- while we should not jail adulterers, neither should we financially reward them...

SHARPTON: The fundamental question is...

FALWELL: ...homosexual practices, neither should we reward them financially...

SHARPTON: Can we get to the fundamental question? The fundamental question is whether we are going to say that this society should define marriage based on our belief in the Bible. We now openly say this should be a theocracy. Our concept as Christians that I may agree with you as a Christian but that we have the right to make that constitutional law and the fact that others agree with us, they must live under the law and the definition as we said it. I think that is undemocratic and un-Christian. Jesus didn't force people to live under what we wanted, he gave them the options.

FALWELL: We have had no problem in American history making theft illegal and the Scripture says thou shall not steal. Or making murder illegal. The Bible says thou shall not kill. The fact is that all of regulated society is based on the legislation of morality by consensus.

SHARPTON: But not based on one religion or one denomination's beliefs. Most everyone agrees that stealing is wrong, Reverend. Everyone grease that murder is wrong, Reverend. But everyone doesn't define marriage the way you define it.

FALWELL: Yes, they do. Muslims, Christians, Jews, Hindus, all the major religions, all the major cultures for 6,000 years have defined the family as a man married to a woman.


SHARPTON: Then according to your view if one is an atheist, one should not have the right to the church?

FALWELL: You're a preacher of the gospel and you're my friend but I cannot see how allow the Democrats to pervert your theology.

SHARPTON: I will preach to atheists. I will preach to agnostics. I will not force people to turn around and convert. That is not what God called us to do. He called us to preach, he didn't call us to make people turn around.

FALWELL: Nobody's talking about conversion. You're changing the subject. Get back to the book and start preaching the book.

SHARPTON: I preach the book and the book said love you.

COOPER: Reverend Falwell, Reverend Al Sharpton, thank you very much for joining. An interesting discussion, we'll have more 360 coming up right now.


COOPER: Reverends Falwell and Sharpton obviously had a lot to say so we ran out of time for the Nth tonight and the story on Botox. We'll try to bring that to you tomorrow.

Tomorrow also on 360 our special conspiracy theories package continues. Who really killed Martin Luther King Jr. We'll look at that. I'm Anderson Cooper. Up next, "PAULA ZAHN NOW."


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