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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Terror Suspects Arrested in U.S.; Outrage at U.N. Speeches; Bath-time Photos Not Child Porn; HIV Vaccine Offers Hope; Census Worker Death Mystery
Aired September 24, 2009 - 23:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: We'll have a lot more on Hugo Chavez and the dramatic day at the United Nations.
But we start with breaking news about your safety, two new arrests in two new separate alleged terror plots. An Illinois man is behind bars right now accused of trying to blow up a federal courthouse in Springfield. He actually went so far as to trigger what he thought would detonate a truck bomb.
This is the suspect. His name is Michael Finton. He's 29 years old. He's an American citizen. While in prison, he converted to Islam and now goes by the name Talib Islam.
He reportedly idolized John Walker Lindh, the young American captured fighting with the Taliban in Afghanistan. Investigators say that this guy Finton wanted to attend a training camp to become a Jihadist fighter.
Also in Texas tonight, another alleged bomber: a 19-year-old man is been charged with attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction to blow up this 60-story Dallas office tower. The suspect is a Jordanian citizen who is said to be in the U.S. illegally.
He has apparently been the focus of an undercover FBI investigation and was arrested today after placing a car in front of the office tower. He thought the car was filled with live explosives. It was filled with fakes. Again, it's important to note that authorities are saying these two cases are not related.
Jeanne Meserve joins me now from Denver with the breaking news. Jeanne, let's start with the Illinois case. What do we know?
JEANNE MESERVE, CNN HOMELANDS SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Michael Finton 29 years old from Decatur, Illinois. As you said a great admirer of John Walker Lindh, the American Taliban and he wanted to commit Jihad.
Yesterday he drove what he thought was a truck bomb up in front of the federal building and courthouse in Springfield, Illinois. He got into a car with someone he thought was a low-level al Qaeda operative. They drove away a few blocks. And then Finton allegedly, according to the government, tried to detonate this truck bomb.
But it didn't go off. The man next to him was not a low-level al Qaeda operative but an undercover FBI agent. And the truck bomb wasn't a bomb at all. It had been filled with inert substances by the FBI.
And so he was arrested and charged -- Anderson.
COOPER: So he actually -- how did he intend to detonate this device, do we know?
MESERVE: With a cell phone. He had a cell phone. He tried to set it off with that as you know a common triggering device.
COOPER: Amazing that he actually thought he was doing it.
What about the other case? What do we know?
MESERVE: Well, he's a 19-year-old by the name of Hosam Maher Hussein Smadi (ph). He is a Jordanian citizen in this country illegally. According to authorities, he told investigators that he came to this country for the express purpose of waging Jihad.
He, as you mentioned, targeted a 60-story tower in downtown Dallas. Today he took a car there thinking that it was a bomb, but it was, again, it was not. The FBI was on to him. They had put inert substances in what he thought was a car bomb.
Now you probably are asking, are these two cases related? A law enforcement source tells me that these two people were operating independently. They did not know about one another. Neither one had an affiliation with any international terrorist group.
But the stings were coordinated by the FBI. The law enforcement officials say this sting went down yesterday in Illinois. They kept it under wraps today until Smadi had been arrested because they didn't want Smadi to get wise to what they were doing and walk away before they sprung the trap -- Anderson.
COOPER: Amazing stuff.
Jeanne Meserve, we appreciate the breaking developments.
Also, a major development today in that other terrorism investigation we've been following. Today, a 24-year-old shuttle driver at the Denver airport was charged with conspiracy to use weapons of mass destruction.
His name is Najibullah Zazi. He is one of three people arrested in this alleged plot so far. Prosecutors say the Afghan immigrant plotted for more than a year in this country to set off homemade bombs in America.
They're still searching for others that they believe may be involved. That's the photo of him -- a still that we're about to show you -- CNN obtained a surveillance video, this is a still of it, this is an exclusive picture we're showing you allegedly showing Zazi buying hydrogen peroxide and other items that he allegedly wanted to use to make explosives. Now he was buying them, if you can believe it, at a beauty supply store in Aurora, Colorado.
Susan Candiotti has also obtained transaction records from those alleged purchases. She joins me now. Susan have we learned?
SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's exclusive video that we are seeing that purports to be this man, Najibullah Zazi, who is making two separate cash purchases of these items.
In the first one -- and its dated July 25th -- this matches up with information that we have from the government according to court records. He went into this beauty supply warehouse and according to people who work there and the CEO of the company, he purchased the first time six bottles of hydrogen peroxide -- a product that contains that material.
And he also bought some other items at the time. You can see he is wearing a baseball cap on backwards as he approaches and makes this cash transaction. He also purchased some hair rollers according to the cash receipts that we have seen that we believe to reflect this purchase.
He also buys hair rollers and a plastic shower cap and some brush on nail polish as well. And we're only seeing the still of this right now.
But we also show a second transaction that authorities say took place on 8/28. Again, we believe this to be the man in question. And we see him walking down the aisle with a grocery cart. And he leans down and he picks up a few what appear to be cases of, again, a hydrogen peroxide product. And he puts them in the shopping cart and then he pays for those.
In the first transaction, those bottles cost $2.99 each for a total of -- let's see $31.75...
COOPER: And Susan, authorities say he was making these purchases what -- over a course of time? That there were multiple purchases correct?
CANDIOTTI: Two purchases from this one location.
CANDIOTTI: And they said that these are ingredients that he would have been using according to the government to help make bombs if in fact that was his intent and that's what the government believes is what is happening.
COOPER: Ok, obviously we have trouble getting the video. But that was a still from the shot. It's the first time we've seen actual picture of this guy allegedly buying these materials.
Let's "Dig Deeper" now with national security correspondent, Peter Bergen; also former FBI special agent Don Clark.
Peter, three separate plots. What is going on here?
PETER BERGEN, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, I want to pick up on the hydrogen peroxide, Anderson, because this is incredibly important. Hydrogen peroxide bombs are a signature of somebody who is trained in an al Qaeda training camp on the Afghan-Pakistan border.
The government alleges that Zazi's admitted to attending such a training camp. The reason this is important is not that this guy is just buying household products, if he's got the right training, he can turn them into these into very effective bombs.
COOPER: We're now seeing the video up here for the first time -- we finally got the video cued up and rolling.
So you're saying this is a trade mark. This is something authorities know al Qaeda uses?
BERGEN: Absolutely. Go back to July 7th, 2005 bombings, Anderson that you covered. The biggest terrorist attack in British history killed 52 people, four suicide attackers. What were the bombs made of? They were made from hydrogen peroxide.
What you do, you do -- there are two approaches. You either buy common hydrogen peroxide in a beauty salon as this guy appears to be doing and you basically concentrate them to say somewhere between 20 and 40 percent hydrogen peroxide or you buy industrial strength hydrogen peroxide.
You use that as the building block for the bombs.
BERGEN: I've seen demonstrations of these kinds of bombs going off. They are -- it's like a bomb made from TNT. You know, it seems a pretty pedestrian thing to be buying these kinds of things. But you can make a very effective bomb from it.
COOPER: And this is the kind of stuff that's all over the Internet. This guy, though, allegedly went to other people for advice.
Authorities are still looking, Don, for others that they believe may be involved in his alleged plot.
DON CLARK, FORMER FBI SPECIAL AGENT: Yes. Of course, they are. And they're going to go into all of their sources and so forth to try find out because in that particular plot, you probably did have other people who were involved in.
COOPER: There were a group of Afghan -- there were a group of Afghan men who allegedly tried to rent a U-Haul truck in the New York region, I believe, on September 10th, a day before the anniversary.
CLARK: Yes. And, you know, investigators are going to be out there. I mean, let's keep in mind in 1993 with the World Trade Center. They rented those types of vans and so forth. So they'll be able to follow that trail.
And then they'll have sources out there as well, Anderson. And making sure that they can get all the information that they can to try to find these people and curtail their activities.
COOPER: Peter, let's move on to this other case -- this American who apparently, you know, looked up to John Walker Lindh who is in custody, the so-called American Taliban. He seemed to have been radicalized in prison. He converted to Islam in prison in the United States.
BERGEN: Yes. And we've seen that in other cases. I mean, you may remember Jose Padilla (ph) who was supposed to be thinking about detonating a radiological bomb in the United States, he wasn't yet convicted on that charge. But, you know, Hispanic American convert to Islam.
Richard Reid, the so-called shoe bomber who tried to blow up an American Airlines plot, a British citizen. Again radicalized in prison, this is not an uncommon story.
COOPER: The fact though, that this guy actually went through and you know, hit the detonation button. I mean used his cell phone to ignite what he thought was a truck bomb, I mean clearly he, according to authorities, if this is all true, seems very serious, Peter.
CLARK: Oh, there's no doubt that he's serious. And with these types of undercover operations, I think it's important to really make a note, to the public. Is that these undercover operations are very, very vital to us preventing ourselves from terrorist attacks.
I mean, had we have something like that during 1995 with Timothy McVeigh, perhaps that would not have happened. But by doing this and then show -- what really showed was the fact that this guy really intended to do so because he continued to carry it out.
COOPER: Peter, on the big picture, is there something changing here? Is there some sort of shift? I mean, is it just a coincidence that we're seeing these three things all at once? They're all separate, I'm not saying in any way that they are related.
But is something changing in the United States that this is going to become more and more common? We also saw the attacks on the military recruiters earlier this year.
BERGEN: Yes, I mean, Anderson I think if we'd had this conversation a year ago, we would have said the American-Muslim community basically has rejected the al Qaeda ideological virus, which isn't true. And we would have said most of these cases were, you know, aspirational and not operational.
But we have seen so many cases since then: the attack on the military recruiting center in Little Rock, Arkansas, which killed an American soldier; the Somalis from Minnesota going to fight in Somalia; the first American suicide attacker conducting a suicide operation in Somalia. The case in North Carolina where the allegation is they are planning to attack a marine base in Quantico, Virginia. I mean, the cases go on and on.
Suddenly, none of these cases are really related but they're a constellation of cases which taken together suggest that some of the kind of maybe self congratulation we had that this was not really such a problem as it is let's say in Britain, you know, maybe we need to re-examine that proposition.
COOPER: We're going to have to end it there. Peter Bergen and Don Clark, I appreciate your expertise, both of you. Thank you.
Curious to hear your thoughts at home: do you think something has changed that's leading more people to plot inside the United States? Join the live chat happening now at AC306.com. Let us know what you think.
Just ahead, a dramatic day at the U.N.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, PRIME MINISTER, ISRAEL: Who gave this Holocaust denier a hearing? I say on behalf of my people, the Jewish people and decent people everywhere, have you no shame? Have you no decency?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu blasting the U.N. for letting Iran's President and Holocaust denier inside the doors. The raw of rhetoric and "Raw Politics" ahead.
And later, imagine taking photos of your own kids in the bath, pictures like this and then getting accused of being a child pornographer when you try to have them developed. It happened to two parents at Wal-Mart and their lives were nearly destroyed.
Now they are suing Wal-Mart and police. Before you take another picture of your kid, you need to hear their story tonight.
COOPER: More high drama in the United Nations today. In a blistering speech, Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu took aim at Iran's President and chief Holocaust denier Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Now, he blasted Ahmadinejad for his anti-Semitic rants and urged the U.N. to prevent Tehran from acquiring nuclear weapons. And then he took aim at the U.N. itself for allowing Ahmadinejad insides its doors. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NETANYAHU: A mere six decades after the Holocaust, you give legitimacy to a man who denies the murder of six million Jews while promising to wipe out the State of Israel, the State of the Jews?
What a disgrace. What a mockery of the Charter of the United Nations.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Let's "Dig Deeper" on this, the "Raw Politics" with senior political analyst David Gergen and Reza Aslan, author of "How to Win a Cosmic War" and a contributor to the Daily Beast online.
David, what do you make of this? Did Benjamin Netanyahu kind of take the bait of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad? One can certainly understand his outrage. Ahmadinejad kind of brings up the Holocaust at a time when he wants to kind of divert attention from the illegitimate election that he himself just went through.
DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think that Prime Minister Netanyahu did bring moral clarity as he himself said to the question of the Holocaust -- Holocaust deniers and what Ahmadinejad represents. And for that I think that many people are glad he stood up to him.
At the same time, I think to say he has no place at the U.N. I think goes beyond what most observers from the past would say. The U.N., for better or worse, has -- it is a home to all nations. And, therefore, the heads of -- odious leaders have come to that platform in the past and we've seen clowns as we saw yesterday with Gadhafi at that podium.
COOPER: Well Reza, certainly Gadhafi did himself no favors, if he was trying to portray himself over the last three years as they changed leader as -- a different kind of leader than the guy we kind of all knew throughout the 80's and early 90's. He certainly did himself no favors yesterday.
What do you make about Netanyahu?
REZA ASLAN, AUTHOR, "HOW TO WIN A COSMIC WAR": Well, I think I agree with David. I think Netanyahu probably forgot what the purpose of the United Nations General Assembly was. I mean it's precisely to give a voice to all of these different leaders.
And, good, we would much rather have these guys on a podium speaking to the world body than in a situation in which they feel like they have to shout or make some sort of, you know, grand gesture in order to be heard.
But let's get something straight here. Netanyahu has never been a fan of the United Nations, on the contrary. I mean, he's always seen the U.N. as an enemy to Israel. And he's got a lot of arguments for that.
So when he talks about the U.N. being a mockery, being a disgrace, I think that goes beyond just his views on Ahmadinejad.
COOPER: David, President Obama has come under withering criticism from a lot of conservatives. I think former U.N. Ambassador Bolton called him an -- in all intents and purposes -- hopelessly naive both for his address. He did chair this meeting, the Security Council, one of the only few times the U.S. has done that, a U.S. president has done that.
Has anything actually come out of this for the U.S.?
GERGEN: It's too early to judge for certain where it's going. I am among those who worry whether he's tough enough and whether -- when he -- the ambivalence he's shown over Afghanistan and how to proceed there as well as withdrawing the missiles from eastern Europe, I think sent two signals that were terribly unfortunate.
I think the real test is going to come over to Iran with the U.N. and whether it's going to have sanctions and that is what Netanyahu is pointing toward today. And to go back to Netanyahu -- you see Israel has been treated unfairly repeatedly by the U.N. but he's -- Netanyahu is calling attention to the right issue. Iran is coming out just over the horizon.
And important talks starts next week and Anderson we'll have a much better sense of just how big a dilemma this is going to be for the world in coming weeks.
ASLAN: Well, the problem is that I think Israel and the United States have different priorities when it comes to Iran. Israel obviously wants the United States to deal first and foremost with Iran's nuclear program.
And certainly, that is a priority of the United States. But, frankly, it's not the number one priority for these talks. The fact is that all our foreign policy in the Middle East, whether we're talking about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict or bringing enough stability to Iraq to remove our troops or the help that we need in the surge in Afghanistan and to stem the tide of drugs there. We need Iran for all of these issues.
So I think that you're going to see the nuclear issue come up in these conversations. But once the door is closed, I think that Obama is going to be interested in what he thinks is a more urgent issue; and that's Iraq and Afghanistan.
GERGEN: I believe that the central purpose of what we're going to be focused on as an international community is whether the Iranians are willing to go freeze their nuclear weapons development. Otherwise sanctions, questions are going to be coming...
ASLAN: David? David, it's not a freeze of a nuclear weapons program. It's a freeze of uranium enrichment. Let's not conflate the two. These are two different issues.
GERGEN: They're not separate of their -- they're overlapping issues. They're not separate issues. Well, we can just leave it there for now.
COOPER: Yes, we've got to leave it there unfortunately. David Gergen and Reza Aslan, I appreciate your time guys. Thanks very much.
Reza blogged about Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, it's a fascinating piece. You can read it on AC360.com.
Still ahead, parents having their kids in the bath. They took some photographs. An Arizona couple took the family pictures to Wal-Mart to get developed. They ended up having their children taken away from them and being put on a list for sex offenders.
How could this happen? Could it happen you to? The parents join us to talk about their ordeal.
Also ahead, Senator John McCain weighs in on everything from the war in Afghanistan to what it's like inside Gadhafi's tent. The "360 Interview" coming up.
COOPER: Still ahead, sex tape or set up. What the State Department is saying about the U.S. diplomat accused of being caught on tape with a prostitute.
First, Erica Hill joins us with a "360 Bulletin" -- Erica.
ERICA HILL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And Anderson, I have some sad news report out of Buffalo tonight. Timothy Joseph Russert, the father of late Tim Russert has died. Affectionately known as "Big Russ," he was the subject of two of books written by his son. The Russert family says "Big Russ" died peacefully of natural causes. He was 85.
Led by President Obama, the U.N. Security Council today passing a resolution to reduce the nuclear threat. That resolution calls for tighter controls on nuclear materials to prevent them from being used for military purposes or from being stolen.
Mr. Obama today saying the world must stand together and demonstrate that international law is not an empty promise.
Meantime, the President and First Lady are now in Pittsburgh for the G-20 summit along with hundreds of protesters. The self-described anarchists clashing with police today were marching toward the convention center there. Police fired canisters of pepper spray and smoke to disperse the crowds.
And a man using a metal detector in a rural English field hits a jackpot. Talk about a gold mine, literally. Terry Herbert (ph) uncovered the largest Anglo-Saxon gold hoard ever found; 11 pounds of the stuff along with another 5.5 pounds of silver. Experts haven't yet said how much it's worth.
But when the loot is sold, Herbert apparently will split the money with the owner of the field.
HILL: Not bad for an afternoon.
COOPER: Not bad at all yes.
Up next this story you have to see to believe, the nightmare for one Arizona couple. Their kids were taken from their house. They were called sex offenders after family pictures were called child porn. With their names cleared, they are now speaking out and fighting back. You'll hear from the parents.
And later, an HIV vaccine shows promise and good news. Can it prevent the virus? Well, Dr. Sanjay Gupta will help us figure it all out.
We'll be right back.
COOPER: In tonight's "Uncovering America" report an Arizona family torn apart, turned upside down and nearly destroyed over some photos they took of their own children. A.J. and Lisa Demaree took what they thought were innocent normal snapshots of their daughters at bath time. Here's one of the pictures.
But to the Wal-Mart employee who processed the prints, they were something else. They saw this as child porn. The worker notified authorities who took a look at the pictures and labeled it child erotica and sex exploitation.
That's when the nightmare really began.
Investigators first raided their house, then they seized the couple's 18-month-old and three and 4-year-old daughters and put them in protective custody for a month. For that month, the parents couldn't see their own kids.
Eventually a judge ruled the pictures were not sexually explicit and that the parents were not child pornographers.
But the damage was done. By that time the parents' names were placed on a sex offender list and now the Demaree's are suing the city, the state, and Wal-Mart.
Joining me now is A.J. and Lisa Demaree and their family's attorney Richard Treon. A.J., we're showing four of the photos which you released. There's four others can you describe them?
A.J. DEMAREE: The four that were not released?
A.DEMAREE: Yes. There's a couple of photos where our daughters had just gotten out of the bathtub, that was the same time as those other ones that you were showing. And they put a towel down on the ground and they were laying on the ground wrestling around.
We thought it was cute. We ran and grabbed the camera; took a picture of them. It was two of them at a time -- at one time. And then the third one saw, you know, hey, they're getting attention, they're getting pictures. So she ran and jumps on them. And so the three of them are kind of laying on their stomachs, put their arms around each other and playing...
COOPER: And even the pictures that we're showing -- how was it that one police officer how did they describe these pictures that we're showing? A. DEMAREE: He described those photos as child erotica and child pornography.
COOPER: And Lisa, you got suspended from your job, is that right?
L. DEMAREE: That's correct. For a year.
COOPER: For an entire year?
L. DEMAREE: Yes.
COOPER: It is stunning, A.J., how long this whole thing went on for. I mean, as Lisa said, you kind of expect you can just, "Look, you know, here's our family. Our doors are open to you." You think this thing could kind go away in a couple of hours.
A. DEMAREE: Right. Right. That's kind of what we thought all along. And it's really -- I know the pictures have kind of dominated most of the news this past week. And obviously that's a huge part of it is the pictures and Wal-Mart. But it goes way beyond that.
There were three separate outside entities: the judge, an expert in the field and the guardian ad litem who is a lawyer that is assigned to represent our children. They all said these photos were innocent family photos. And, yet, the AGs office and the CPS and the Peoria Police Department continue to prosecute us for -- or persecute us, I'm sorry, for the next eight months.
COOPER: What's your warning to other folks out there?
A. DEMAREE: Our warning is, really, if you have, you know, bath time family photos, I would not take them to, you know, anyplace to get them processed because you never know what somebody's going to see in those photos.
There's no -- like, you know Wal-Mart -- there is no sign that says they're going to turn, you know, your photos over to the police if there is any nudity at all. And so you get shocked by it. You get completely surprised.
COOPER: I want to put up the statement from Wal-Mart. One of the reasons you're suing them is for failure to tell you about their policy which allows them to give pictures to the police.
And Wal-Mart says, quote, "We recognized that this is an emotional matter for everyone involved as well as a sensitive situation that we take seriously. Given state law, we believe our associates acted appropriately in notifying authorities who then made the decision whether to investigate."
Just a quick question for your attorney; Richard, clearly police and Wal-Mart have the best interests of kids at heart. What did they do that was so wrong?
RICHARD TREON, DEMAREES' ATTORNEY: The issue is, it starts back at the Wal-Mart's decision to process your photographs and not to warn you or tell you that, "We're going to act as a censor on your photographs. If we see any nudity, without getting your permission, we're going to call the cops and have the cops come and take these and you may be criminally prosecuted."
COOPER: Lisa and A.J., how are the kids doing? How are you all doing now?
L. DEMAREE: You know, right now with the filing of the lawsuit and the surge of the media, it's bringing about and stirring a lot of emotion in us again.
Our children are very aware of what's going on. Our oldest has some issues, some separation issues as does our youngest daughter.
But, you know, it's difficult. We have a very, very strong network of friends and family. We've got a tremendous amount of support. And we lean on them.
COOPER: Well, A.J. and Lisa, we'll continue to follow the case and appreciate your time tonight. Thank you.
A. DEMAREE: Thank you.
L. DEMAREE: Thank you.
TREON: Thank you.
COOPER: As we mentioned, the family is planning multiple lawsuits.
It's an unbelievable story for the parents, the kids, and for other people who may think twice about getting their pictures developed.
Let's dig deeper. Joining me now is senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin.
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: This just makes you want to scream, the whole thing.
COOPER: It does. It is understandable that the company, Wal-Mart and police who obviously want to be very careful about this kind of stuff; these horrible pictures do exist in the world. Where is the line drawn?
TOOBIN: Well, what makes this so frustrating is that each half step in the process is kind of comprehensible. Except the result was just madness. One where I disagree with the lawyer is that the idea that Wal-Mart should warn you that it's going to look at the photos. They always look at the photos.
And, in fact, I think it's a good thing. If a photo developer sees genuine child pornography you bet they should report it to authorities. When I was an assistant U.S. attorney, we had case that's came from photo developers. And they were real cases.
The problem here is the people both at Wal-Mart and at the Peoria Police Department seem to have perverted minds themselves to think that these photographs are anything other than ordinary family photos.
COOPER: Because once the judge actually saw it, the judge ruled, all right, these photos are totally normal...
TOOBIN: Wal-Mart is obligated to report child pornography. They made a mistake here but the obligation is a real one.
COOPER: So what's the lesson to parents as far as you're concerned?
TOOBIN: Gosh, the lesson I guess, if you can, is use a digital camera that you can put on your computer at home and not involve a company. But you know, I think the lesson is really more for Wal-Mart and for police departments just to know the difference between family photos that 90 percent of the families in America have and genuine child pornography.
COOPER: All right.
We'll continue to follow it. Jeff Toobin, I appreciate it. Thanks Jeff.
Still ahead, an HIV vaccine finally showing some success. It is the news -- good news raising hopes tonight. 360 MD Sanjay Gupta has details.
COOPER: Tonight, a potential breakthrough in the search for an HIV vaccine. For the first time a vaccine to prevent HIV has shown some success. Scientists say the results are modest but encouraging. In an area of research that hasn't had much to celebrate at all, that counts as extraordinary.
Chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta joins me for more on this HIV vaccine. Sanjay just how significant is this?
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, I think for a long time, Anderson, people in the scientific community thought that a vaccine simply wasn't in the cards. I mean, people have been toying around with this idea for a quarter century as you well know, Anderson.
And there have been two large vaccine trials in the past. One showed absolutely no benefit. The second one may have actually made things worse. They found people who received that vaccine may have been more likely to get the HIV infection. So obviously those were both abysmal failures.
So now you have proof of principle. You have proof that a vaccine could potentially hold an answer. It was modest in terms of benefits as you said but the proof of principle is there Anderson.
COOPER: It's actually a combination of two vaccines that, as you said, previously failed in trials?
GUPTA: Yes. And this may be a key ingredient here. You know, you have -- when you think about a vaccine, and we've talked about this with regard to other infections, Anderson, sometimes you get a vaccine it sort of teaches your body's immune system how to fight the infection should it ever present itself. And sometimes you get a booster shot as well.
Here you got six shots over a period of six months, four of the one type of vaccine and then two of another type of vaccine. And, you know, that may have played a role in all this. This but it was a very different sort of protocol than in the past.
COOPER: And there was -- what -- some 16,000 or so people in this trial? And what percentage of them remained HIV negative?
GUPTA: Well, 16,000, you're absolutely right. That is the largest incidentally clinical trial when it comes to HIV, so that was -- had the power in numbers to start with. Half of them got a placebo, no vaccine. Half got the vaccine.
And what they found, and the numbers -- you have to pay attention to them, keeping the context in place, is that 74 of the people who did not receive the vaccine over a period of time developed HIV. As compared to 51 people who developed HIV who received the vaccine.
These are all people, Anderson, who were considered high risk for various reasons. And so it was -- if you do the math, it was about a 31 percent reduction about, a third reduction in HIV cases because of the vaccine.
COOPER: So why is HIV such a difficult thing to figure out a vaccine for?
GUPTA: It is tricky. It is evasive. And more than anything, I think that this is a pathogen that mutates itself. Anderson, when you and I were in Africa, we talked about. Even back decades ago, there were more than one subtype of HIV. And what we now know is that the virus, the retro virus can mutate even after it infects somebody.
So you may create a perfect vaccine for somebody but the problem is by the time it's administered, by the time it starts to take effect, the virus that is out there spreading could actually mutate. And the vaccine has no effect.
COOPER: So it may not have the same effect for people in the United States that it did for people in Thailand?
GUPTA: That's absolutely right. You may have ultimately, if this starts moving forward, you may have a Thai HIV vaccine. You may have a North American HIV vaccine. Because we know the HIV virus -- retro virus -- is slightly different in different places around the world.
COOPER: And bottom line, will this become available to people soon or how does that work?
GUPTA: What they'd like to do is create a better vaccine. You know, some would say, look if, it has any effect at all, that's better than nothing. You have 33 million people living with HIV. Almost three million new cases a year. Maybe you could help.
But right now it's still very much in the clinical trials. And I think it will be years before it actually becomes available publicly.
COOPER: All right.
Dr. Sanjay Gupta thanks.
If you want some more perspective go, to ac360.com for some answers to frequently asked questions about HIV.
Coming up next, the "360 Interview:" John McCain speaking out on President Obama's message at the U.N., the war in Afghanistan and even what it's like inside Gadhafi's tent.
And also new information on Jaycee Dugard: held captive for 18 years. Her lawyer speaking out about Jaycee's mixed emotions now that she's free.
COOPER: For tonight's "360 Interview," Senator John McCain. If the election had gone his way last November, he, not president Obama would be here in New York this week addressing the U.N. meeting with world leaders and everyone would be parsing his sentences and handshakes.
Things didn't the work out that way, of course. And we wondered how President Obama's speech at the U.N. yesterday played to his former campaign opponent. President Obama setting a much different tone than his predecessor George W. Bush. That's where we began the exclusive interview tonight.
COOPER: Senator McCain, many conservatives have blasted President Obama over the last two days at the U.N. Former U.N. Ambassador Bolton said that the president's message, it was, quote, "extremely naive." Do you agree?
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Well, I would like to hear the president mention that American blood and treasure was expended on behalf of Muslims in operation Iraq -- Desert Storm. American -- same thing was in Kosovo and Bosnia. And we have made sacrifices that we also hope would be recognized by the Arab world in particular, but also the entire world.
COOEPR: Let's talk about Afghanistan. You support sending more troops. This counter insurgency strategy: clear, hold and build; clearly requires more troops. Anyone who goes there -- we saw that ourselves two weeks ago on the ground in Helmand Province with the Marines.
The question is, is that right strategy? In effect, there are a lot of people saying we're nation building in Afghanistan. And we're doing it with military personnel instead of civilians and on behalf of a government which is riddled corruption. MCCAIN: I think that what we are engaged in is a counterinsurgency, not counterterrorism operational plan. And once we make the areas secure, then the people are able to make progress economically, politically and every other way. But unless we do what we did in the surge in Iraq which is clear, hold and secure areas, then it's very difficult to defeat an insurgency.
COOPER: I want to read something to our viewers that you wrote which I thought was not only extremely well written but it's just extraordinarily touching. Something you wrote in a foreword to David Halberstam's book about Vietnam, "The Best and the Brightest."
You said and I quote, "It was a shameful thing to ask man to suffer and die, to persevere through God-awful afflictions and heartache, to endure the dehumanizing experiences that are unavoidable in combat for a cause that the country wouldn't support over time and that our leaders so wrongly believe could be achieved at a smaller cost than our enemy was prepared to make. No other national endeavor requires as much unshakeable resolve as war. If the nation and the government lack that resolve, it is criminal to expect men in the field to carry it alone."
Already, the nation it seems if, you look at polls, have turned against this war. If more troops are sent, won't that trend continue? Do you fear it will end up being once again, the incredible efforts of our troops in the field bearing this thing alone?
MCCAINE: I worry about that. I also know that this president is one of the most eloquent presidents in history of our country. I do know that when we started this surge in Iraq, Americans were weary there. And we were able to succeed.
Americans understandably are weary. I believe in a year to 18 months we can show them success. And I think if we can ask them for the patience during this tough period of time, but we also have to point out that we cannot allow Afghanistan to return to a base for the Taliban to which would then cause al Qaeda to be able to launch attacks on the United States of America.
COOPER: Do you think the Obama administration has the resolve that's needed in your opinion in Afghanistan?
MCCAIN: I have confidence that this president will do the right thing. He has not given me any reason not to believe that. And want to do everything I can to support him and -- but I understand how tough this decision is.
COOPER: I just want to end on a light note on a couple of quick lightning round questions if I could. I often do this with a lot of different people.
What did you think about Tom DeLay's dancing on "Dancing with the Stars"?
MCCAIN: I'm one of the few Americans that didn't see it. I spared myself. COOPER: I recommend you check it out on YouTube.
COOPER: What's it like in Moammar Gadhafi's tent?
MCCAIN: It's a -- well, should I say a bit bizarre.
COOPER: A bit bizarre. I appreciate you coming on the program. Thank you very much, senator.
MCCAIN: Thank you.
COOPER: I should point out I found that quote from Senator McCain in "The Best and Brightest" in a column by Bob Herbert in "The New York Times."
Tomorrow on 360, another big interview: I'll sit down with former President Bill Clinton to talk about the U.N. General Assembly, health care, the economy, his trip to North Korea and a whole lot and more on Afghanistan in our 360 Interview tomorrow night on the program.
Next, a mysterious death in Kentucky: census worker whose body was found tied to a tree. Was he murdered? Did he take his own life? What about reports that the word "FED" was scrawled across his chest?
The latest developments coming up.
And caught on tape, an American diplomat and a Russian prostitute: was it a setup, as the State Department says? We have the details.
COOPER: New details tonight about the mysterious death of a census worker whose body was found tied to a tree in Kentucky. The Associated Press is reporting that the word "Fed" was scrawled across his chest.
But was the census worker murdered or did he, perhaps, take his own life? There's been a lot of speculation, especially on the Internet and left-leaning talk shows, saying the man was targeted because he represented the federal government.
We're not interested in opinion, however. We just want to know the facts. What happened and why?
David Mattingly is working the story. He joins us live from Atlanta with the late developments -- David.
DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, state and federal investigators really aren't sure what they're dealing with right now. Twelve days ago they found the body of census worker Bill Sparkman. He had a rope around his neck, and it was tied to a tree limb in a remote area of a national forest. The Associated Press is also reporting that the word "Fed" was written on Sparkman's body.
But tonight none of our sources, neither state nor federal, are willing to confirm that. In fact, they're not willing to confirm that this was a murder at all.
Sources close to the investigation, in fact, tell us just this afternoon they were able to conclude that Sparkman died of asphyxiation. But when they found his body tied to that tree, his feet were on the ground. Not something you usually see in a murder case.
But it raises questions about a possible suicide. And that's something that can't be confirmed right now either.
COOPER: What is this area in Kentucky like? I mean, is there a history of anti-government activity there? I also understand there's also a problem with crystal meth in the area.
MATTINGLY: Law enforcement tells me they don't have a problem with anti-government activity there. But they say it is known for marijuana growing and methamphetamine production. This is a very remote hilly area of the national forest in a sparsely-populated section of eastern Kentucky.
COOPER: What's the Census Bureau saying about all this?
MATTINGLY: Well, they put -- the director of the Census Bureau sent out an e-mail to employees, saying that Sparkman was the victim of an apparent crime. That was several days ago. Now they're saying they're still waiting to find out from the FBI if there was any foul play involved. And they still have no information that this tragedy was related to Sparkman's job as a census taker.
COOPER: What about the possibility of suicide? Is there any evidence he was troubled or depressed?
MATTINGLY: I talked to friends of his. And they tell me, no, that he wasn't. Sparkman had also worked for years as a substitute teacher at an elementary school. He was liked by the students, always greeted people with a smile. He had undergone chemotherapy for non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and had apparently beat the disease. He told his friends that it was in remission, and he seemed, Anderson, like he was happy to be alive.
So not matter how this case turns out, it's going to be a terrible tragedy. And he will be missed.
COOPER: All right. We'll continue to follow this. Obviously, getting a lot of attention for a lot of political reasons and also just interest. We'll keep -- keep on top of it.
David Mattingly, thanks.
Let's get caught up on some of the other stories we're following. Erica Hill has the "360 Bulletin" -- Erica. HILL: Anderson, the lawyer for Jaycee Dugard says his client has mixed emotions about the arrest (ph) of her alleged captors. But realized, quote, "Some bad and terrible things" were done to her.
Police say Phillip and Nancy Garrido held Dugard captive for 18 years and that Mr. Garrido fathered her two children. The Garridos have pleaded not guilty.
A video posted on a Russian Web site allegedly shows a U.S. State Department employee having sex with a prostitute. Well, many say it's all part of a smear campaign. In fact, the State Department, a spokesman there, says Brendan Kyle Hatcher is the target of a doctored video. That video appearing on a site that diplomatic sources say has ties to Russia's security services.
Finally, a medal should go to this Indonesian woman. She gave birth to a 19 pound, 2 ounce baby boy.
HILL: Yes. Yes, indeed. He's the heaviest ever recorded in the country. He was born, thankfully, for all involved, by C-section. But apparently, he became so large because the mother had diabetes. Doctors say he is healthy with an equally healthy appetite to match and a loud cry, apparently because he's a big kid.
COOPER: Wow. We wish him all the best.
Erica, "The Shot" is next. They say a picture is worth a thousand words. So what is this one saying?
COOPER: What would Michelle Obama say if she saw it? That's "The Shot" tonight. We'll explain.
COOPER: Erica, time for "The Shot." President Obama may have a little explaining to do if the first lady sees this photo. Check it out. Do we have it?
HILL: There it is.
COOPER: The president earlier today, greeting a woman at the U.N. looks a lot like he's going for a kiss. Eyes closed.
HILL: Greeting, indeed.
COOPER: Exactly. We'll explain what's actually going on. Here's the video of the kiss, which shows it is much different. And, boom. See, there you go.
HILL: Not quite the same there, is it?
COOPER: Yes. HILL: Here it is in slow mo. Just in case...
COOPER: It's amazing when you see a still photo, how it appears one thing, and then the video shows something else. So there you go.
COOPER: Mr. President, if you need a copy of this sent to the White House, let us know; if you get in any trouble.
You can see all the most recent shots at our Web site, AC360.com. That does it for 360. Thanks for watching.
"LARRY KING" starts now. I'll see you tomorrow night.