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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Is Congress Broken?; Hamas Leader Assassinated; Interview With Bill Maher
Aired February 16, 2010 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Tonight: the growing call to throw them all out and the growing exodus, lawmakers leaving on their own, sick of the fighting, the partisanship, all of it. Is Congress broken? And, if it is, how do you fix it? The "Raw Politics" of it. We will have more with Bill Maher, also Congressman Ron Paul and his son running for Senate, Dr. Rand Paul.
Also tonight, you will watch a man pursued and stalked by a team of international assassins. The man is also a killer. He ends up dead. There's a global manhunt for the hit squad. It's not a movie we're talking about, real life. You will watch it unfold as surveillance cameras recorded it. Really never seen anything like it.
And, later, what do you do when your adopted child threatens to kill you? Coping with the danger and the heartache of a child who badly needs parenting, but may be too dangerous to raise.
First up tonight: the anger at Washington and the people trying to tap into it? Republican Party Chairman Michael Steele today sitting down with several dozen Tea Partiers. After the meeting, when reporters asked if they were now loyal Republicans, the Tea Partiers shouted no.
A lot of discontent out there. People can't stand Congress. Even congresspeople can't stand Congress.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. EVAN BAYH (D), INDIANA: I believe that you can make a contribution, a major contribution, to society in many ways other than just being in the United States Congress. If Congress is the only way to make a contribution, God help us.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, Democratic Senator Evan Bayh this morning, who says Congress is broken, out of control. Partisanship is why, he says. John Breaux, a former colleague, agrees. The political center in the country is growing, he says, but the center in Congress is getting smaller and Americans are losing patience.
Bill Maher comments in a moment.
But Tom Foreman has the "Raw Politics."
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, 34 percent of voters think current members of Congress deserve to be reelected -- 63 percent say, throw the bums out. These are the worst numbers we have seen since we started measuring in the early '90s, and both parties appear to be in equally deep trouble.
(voice-over): The top Democrat calls for cooperation, saying, voters will tolerate nothing less.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: They're tired of the partisanship and the shouting and the pettiness. They know we can't afford it.
FOREMAN: The Republicans say the same.
GOV. BOB MCDONNELL (R), VIRGINIA: We want results, not rhetoric. We want cooperation, not partisanship.
FOREMAN: And, yet, both parties have failed repeatedly to reach such an accord. The past year saw a steady stream of party-line votes, with almost no Democrats or Republicans crossing over in the name of compromise.
The Democrats fought off Republican filibusters 39 times with cloture votes, more than in the 1950s and '60s combined, while bitter fighting between and within the parties crippled health care and banking reform and spurred sharp complaints about even programs that passed, like the stimulus plan.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This government is out of control.
FOREMAN: No wonder retiring Indiana Senator Evan Bayh says:
BAYH: Even at a time of enormous national challenge, the people's business is not getting done.
FOREMAN: That theme is being echoed by many departing politicians amid soaring unemployment, a lingering housing crisis and gridlock, gridlock, gridlock. Political analysts predict it could all produce a great many more upsets, like the one that gave the late Democratic Senator Ted Kennedy's seat to a Republican.
SEN. SCOTT BROWN (R), MASSACHUSETTS: What happened here in Massachusetts can happen all over America.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
FOREMAN (on camera): After trailing a very long time, the Republicans now have a statistically insignificant lead over the Democrats in who voters want in Congress. But that is cold comfort in a winter of great discontent -- Anderson.
COOPER: Tom, thanks very much. We are going to take -- get Bill Maher's take on this shortly, but, first, the view of congressman Ron Paul and his son Rand Paul, who is running for the Republican nomination to replace the retiring Kentucky Senator Jim Bunning. He's running against the GOP establishment as a staunch conservative and proud Tea Party member.
We spoke with him tonight, along with his dad, Ron Paul. Here he is.
COOPER: Congressman Paul, do you agree with Senator Evan Bayh, who basically said yesterday that things are so polarized in Congress, that the people's business isn't getting done?
REP. RON PAUL (R), TEXAS: Well, the people's business isn't getting done, but I'm not so sure that we are on the right tune about where the arguments are. I don't think it's because people don't compromise enough. I think it's because they compromise too much, and they don't -- we don't have enough people standing on principle.
For instance, they compromise on the welfare state. They compromise on the warfare state. They compromise on endorsing the monetary system. So, I think we have way too much compromise, and we need to define what we believe in. We either believe in welfarism and socialism and big government, or we believe in liberty and limited government and in the Constitution.
COOPER: Well, Dr. Paul, do you agree with that? And, if you do, isn't compromise essential for actual governance?
RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY SENATORIAL CANDIDATE: Well, I don't think it's necessarily compromise that's the problem.
What I see when I go around the country and around the state to these tea parties is that people want, on both sides, not to just be spending money wantonly, like they are in Washington.
I hear equal criticism. They are worried about the debt, but they say it's on both sides of the aisle, Republican and Democrat. We talk in my race about West Virginia, paving every inch of it based on Senator Byrd's seniority. But we also talk about the fact that Republicans from Alaska have been earmarking and paving a lot of things up there, too.
So, the problems, the Tea Party movement, we see it is as on both sides of the aisle, but not a lack of compromise, just sort of a lack of anyone standing up for the taxpayer.
COOPER: But, Dr. Paul, the criticism, as you know, of the Tea Party movement is that, you know, it's one thing to argue something in order to get a candidate in or to protest, but to actually govern requires a different set of -- I mean, requires compromise.
You don't believe that's true?
RAND PAUL: Well, I think the problem is, we are compromising, but we compromise for more spending usually.
For example, 32 states have a rule that says they have to balance their budget by law. I run on the platform that says federal government should be no different. And when I say that at a tea party, it brings down the house. They want their government to balance their budget.
They see our future and our kids' future being destroyed by debt. And, so, that's not Republican and Democrats compromising to spend half as much money. It's that we need new rules. So, I talk about term limits, and I talk about balancing the budget by law. And that's not necessarily a compromise. That's pushing them all in a big direction towards much more frugality.
COOPER: Dr. Paul, you have been endorsed now by -- by Sarah Palin. She's also endorsed Senator John McCain in what could be a tough battle for his reelection. Is John McCain your kind of Republican?
RAND PAUL: Well, I think there are some things that John McCain does that I like. I mean, he has been one of the Republicans who will vote against some of the procurements, even in the military budget, when he sees waste in the military budget. He and I agree on everything? No, I didn't agree with McCain/Feingold.
Do he and I agree on a lot -- on everything? No. I didn't agree with McCain-Feingold. In fact, I liked seeing the Supreme Court overturn McCain-Feingold, because I thought it restricted freedom of speech. So, there won't be everything we agree on, but there are some things that I can agree on with John McCain.
COOPER: I know you have said Sarah Palin is the biggest endorsement any Republican could get right now. Do you think she would make a good president -- president, Doctor?
RAND PAUL: Well, I think what she has is something that you can't buy. I mean, she has likability. She's very likable. And I think she will have to, like I have to and like every other person, is run the gauntlet.
COOPER: The question, though, is, do you think she would make a good president?
RAND PAUL: Yes, I think Sarah Palin could be a great president.
But I think what will happen is -- what happens is the vigorous process of the primaries. And, you know, she hasn't said yet whether she will do it or not. But, you know, she's made some, I think, very astute and smart political moves. She's come out and supported me, of course, which I think is a great move.
But I think she's supporting people who are running against the establishment. And this motivates those in the Tea Party who want not just someone to endorse whoever the party favorite is, but someone who will shake up the system. COOPER: And, Congressman, the Republican establishment in Kentucky has not really endorsed your son, has not gotten behind him. Why is that?
RON PAUL: Oh, I don't -- I don't know, but the Republican establishment never endorsed me either.
But, after I would win primaries, I was quite willing to work with them and vote for their leadership and do what I needed to do to be part of the party. And I think Rand is in a similar situation like that. They're not running to bail him out and support him. Washington, D.C., hasn't rushed to help him.
But, in this day and age, that's a -- that's a badge of honor, let me tell you. It really is.
COOPER: Congressman, do you guys agree on everything?
RON PAUL: Well, I -- I doubt that.
RON PAUL: I would say -- you know, we have five children. And I would say Rand -- Rand is probably the one that challenged me the most.
COOPER: Can you envision a time when Senator Paul, if you become Senator Paul, and Congressman Paul are at odds?
RAND PAUL: Possibly.
When I was home at Thanksgiving, the whole debate was whether they were going to let me sit at the -- you know, still sit at the main table this time, because we were having some disagreements.
RAND PAUL: Bush, in the end, they did let me eat Thanksgiving at the main table.
So, you know, my dad and I -- I like to use the word that I'm a constitutional conservative. My dad likes to call himself and has been called a champion of the Constitution. And I think that's where there's a great deal of similarity.
There will be some differences of opinion, because a lot of us support the Constitution, and we don't always interpret it the same way.
COOPER: Congressman Ron Paul and Rand Paul, candidate for U.S. Senate, thanks for your time today.
RAND PAUL: Thank you, Anderson.
RON PAUL: Thank you.
COOPER: Well, let us know what you think. You can join the live chat right now at AC360.com.
Up next: Bill Maher. He's, well, a little upset, but he's also very funny on the subject about partisanship. And, well, you will hear from him ahead.
And, later, the amazing story behind the videotape allegedly showing international assassins stalking their prey.
COOPER: So, people aren't exactly in love with Washington or Congress these days. And part of that is simply because we're digging out of a recession and the mood of the country is grim. But there's a lot more to it than that.
Let's dig deeper now with Bill Maher, host of "Real Time" and the HBO session "Bill Maher... But I'm Not Wrong."
We spoke earlier tonight.
COOPER: Senator Bayh, he says things are so polarized that Congress isn't working and the people's business isn't getting done. Do you buy his reason for leaving?
BILL MAHER, HOST, "REAL TIME WITH BILL MAHER": He wasn't working. He's the problem with Congress.
COOPER: How so?
MAHER: That made me laugh.
Well, because he isn't a centrist. People -- you guys in the media have to stop calling people like that a centrist. He's a corporatist, OK? And that's the main problem with Congress. You know, his wife is on the board of WellPoint, one of the big health insurance companies.
COOPER: So, you don't buy his...
MAHER: So, I'm not surprised that he was against the public option.
So, when he says Congress isn't working, that's why Congress isn't working, because he's the guy on the Democratic side who always sides with the Republicans to stop all legislation. That's why the Senate is where legislation goes to die.
COOPER: Do you think things are too polarized? MAHER: They're not polarized enough. We don't have a progressive party in this country. This is the problem, is that you have corporatist Democrats, like Evan Bayh, who act just like the people on the other side of the aisle.
COOPER: Do you think he will become a lobbyist?
MAHER: It won't be really changing jobs, just offices.
COOPER: What is Barack Obama doing wrong? I mean, you were a big supporter of his.
And I still have the situation in perspective.
MAHER: You know, it would be a lot worse, I think, if the election had gone the other way.
COOPER: You compared him to Lindsay Lohan.
MAHER: Yes. I can't remember why, but you are correct.
COOPER: The line -- I think the line was -- and I'm going to get it wrong, so I hesitate to even say it -- but something -- it was like...
COOPER: ... we read a lot about them, but still wondering what they are actually doing.
MAHER: Yes. You are young, skinny and in a hurry, but what are you going to do? We're both getting the line wrong, but I know what you mean. Yes.
COOPER: Do you believe what he says? I mean, he says a lot. Do you...
MAHER: Yes. If only he knew someone in a position of power, because he's got a great list of things he wants to accomplish.
COOPER: He doesn't...
(CROSSTALK) MAHER: No, he just thinks that this -- he still is -- he makes the mistake that every Democrat makes. He's really, you know -- I think he's going to have a learning curve, as all presidents do.
But he sure didn't have a great freshman year. And he makes that mistake of alienating his base, not playing to the base, trying to get the other people.
COOPER: So, he's too quick to compromise?
MAHER: Right. You know, he's trying to solve this with a kiss. It's not going to happen that way.
Obama was talking the other day about, well, you know, I would rather be a one-term president who got things done than a lame two- term.
Well, then get something done. You can only talk about being this bold one-term president if you are being bold. He's not being bold.
COOPER: You say, though, that there's not enough partisanship, but you have the Tea Party movement, which you have been very critical of. They are certainly partisan.
MAHER: Well, they are great for comedy.
They are a joke, to me, because they're supposedly harking back to the days of the founding fathers and what this country was about. That's not what they're about. They basically side with the Republicans. Who is more corporatist than the Republicans? They are against corporate power, but they are on the side of people like Sarah Palin?
COOPER: They say they're not about parties, that they are about people, that they are about -- they focus...
MAHER: But who did they -- they elected Scott Brown. Wasn't that the first scalp they got, Ted Kennedy? They got his seat. They put Scott Brown in there. Scott Brown signs -- when he signs an autograph, he puts on it 41, because he's the 41st senator. In other words, he can block all legislation.
So, he's going to stop health care reform. And he's going to stop cap-and-trade, and all these things that would actually help people, these -- the populist causes. But that's supposedly a virtue, that he's 41, and he's going to stop that?
COOPER: Who do you blame for what's happened to health care reform?
MAHER: Well, I -- I mean, I blame a lot of people, I mean, certainly, the people who were in the pockets of the insurance industries and the drug companies and all the corporate powers that have blocked this and who don't want this to go through, because the main problem with health care is insurance companies, this giant cash- sucking middleman that we don't need in the middle of it.
But, of course, I also blame the Democrats for not being able to sell this. There's an awful lot of good things in this Senate bill that's already been passed, covers 30 million more people, Medicare solvent until 2026, you know, you can't throw somebody off because preexisting conditions.
You know, it's not that there's not stuff to sell. It's just that the Democrats can't sell it. They are terrible salesmen, and they back off of everything. All you have to do is scream a little and they give up on it.
COOPER: Bill Maher, thanks.
MAHER: Thank you, Anderson. Pleasure.
COOPER: Well, just ahead tonight: the unexpected question that got the best answer today from Secretary of State Clinton -- the question: What would you do if Sarah Palin were elected president?
Later, your chance to pick the best in show. Take a look at some of our staffers' dogs, in honor of that other dog show going on at Madison Square Garden tonight. Pick the best 360 dog by going to AC360dog -- I mean dot-com. Ba-dum-bum.
A lot more ahead.
COOPER: Astonishing video released today showing hotel guests going about their business. The business is of assassination. We're going to show you who the target and the suspects are ahead on 360, but, first, some of the other important stories we're following.
Poppy Harlow has a 360 bulletin.
POPPY HARLOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, more questions about a killing 23 years ago involving Amy Bishop, an Alabama professor accused of murdering three colleagues last week.
Bishop killed her 18-year-old brother with a shotgun back in 1986. It was ruled an accident. But, today, the retired police chief who was in charge of the initial investigation in Braintree, Massachusetts, called the state police report of the incident deficient. He first read that report just two days ago.
And a boost for nuclear power today during a visit to a job training site in Maryland -- President Obama announced more than $8 billion in loan guarantees for two nuclear reactors that will be built in Georgia.
And laughter set off by a student's question at a town hall meet with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Saudi Arabia.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Does the prospect of Sarah Palin one day becoming president maybe terrify you?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And, if so, would you consider immigrating to Canada or possibly even Russia in the -- the event of this happening?
HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: Well, the short answer is, no, I will not be immigrating. I will be visiting, as often as I can.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARLOW: Well-played, Madam Secretary.
I think -- remember Alec Baldwin years ago saying he would move to Canada if President Bush was elected?
COOPER: Oh, did he really?
HARLOW: I think he was elected -- he was elected twice, and he never moved. I don't think so. We will see.
COOPER: No, that's true.
COOPER: Poppy, thanks.
Straight ahead tonight: things that normally take place in shadows. I don't know if you've seen this video. It's just incredible. Take a look. Authorities say it shows global assassination teams closing in on their victim who himself was a very dangerous man, a killer himself. They ultimately did kill him. We will show you how it all went down, caught on tape.
And, later, what to do about very dangerous adopted kids. This is just a tragic story, parents who adopted kids internationally. Then, we're going to show you a place that takes them when it becomes too dangerous for parents.
We will be right back.
COOPER: Tonight, an international murder mystery tailor-made for the movie, basically. As you're going to see, though, this is no movie. Authorities in Dubai issued an international arrest warrant for 11 suspects in last month's slaying of a top Hamas official. Now, according to police, the alleged assassins, 10 men and one women, arrived in Dubai the day before the killing. Five of them carried out the crime, while the other six served as lookouts. Their every move was caught on security cameras.
It's fascinating footage. The question, of course, is, who are the alleged killers and who ordered the hit?
Paula Hancocks investigates.
PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Minute by minute, this is the lead-up to the Dubai assassination of one of the founding members of Hamas, all captured on security cameras and released by the emirate's police, 10 men and one woman, the alleged hit squad.
Some check into the Al Bustan Rotana Hotel and await their target. This is Mahmoud al-Mabhouh arriving at the hotel, where he would be killed just hours later.
After checking in, the man Israeli security sources accuse of being a key link between Iran, Hezbollah and Hamas was followed by two alleged killers dressed in tennis gear holding tennis rackets. The police say they were checking the number of his room. Then they booked the room directly across the corridor.
Leaving the hotel for a couple of hours, al-Mabhouh was again tracked by different teams. Police believe the killers entered his room at 8:00 p.m. using an electronic device to gain entry.
Al-Mabhouh entered his room at 8:25 p.m. His body was not discovered until the next morning. Police say he appears to have suffered electric shocks and may have been suffocated.
These are the suspects, all caught on camera, sparking an international manhunt. Six were on British passports. Three carried Irish passports, one French and one German, say Dubai police, but Irish and British police have said the names and passport numbers of their alleged nationals are fake. The other countries are checking.
At least four Israelis say they have the same names as the suspects. They deny any involvement and say they are shocked their names have been used.
The question remains, who ordered the hit? Hamas and al- Mabhouh's family in Gaza are convinced Israel's intelligence agency, Mossad, is behind the assassination. Dubai police told the family there were signs of five or six electric shocks on his legs, behind his ears, on his genitals, and over his heart. Blood on a pillow also led police to believe he was suffocated.
Israeli sources say al-Mabhouh was smuggling arms to Gaza, so an arms dealer has many enemies. Dubai's police chief says whoever is responsible will be brought to justice.
He says, "If a state starts acting like gangsters, their leaders will be treated like gangsters, and they will be brought to justice, whoever and wherever they are."
But even with extensive security footage and photos of 11 of the alleged hit squad, so far, no one has been arrested. And their real identities may never be known.
Paula Hancocks, CNN, Jerusalem.
COOPER: It's a fascinating case.
Gary Berntsen is a former officer and longtime operative at the CIA. He joins us by the phone.
Gary what do you make of this, I mean, 11 assassins, fake wigs, beards, dressed up as tennis players. Does this surprise you?
GARY BERNTSEN, AUTHOR, "HUMAN INTELLIGENCE, COUNTERTERRORISM AND NATIONAL LEADERSHIP: A PRACTICAL GUIDE": Well, it's not that surprising.
A Chechen was assassinated out in Dubai on the 28th of March, 2009, just, you know, some months back. Dubai is a place where a lot of bad customers, you know, they travel in and out of there to do business, to do their business with Iran, with other countries, and with other terrorist groups.
So, when they enter a place like Dubai, they are vulnerable. And, in this particular case, this leading member of Hamas, who has been conducting operations against the Israelis, you know, found himself victim to the -- the very crafty practices.
COOPER: Are there a lot of countries that have the capabilities of doing this? I mean, obviously, you know, Israel is being suspected in this, obviously, you know, other developed countries. I mean, in terms of faking passports, the kind of expertise that is required to set up an operation like this, are there a lot of different people -- countries that could actually do it?
BERNTSEN: There are a lot of countries that can do this. There's a lot of private organizations that can do these types of things.
When we entered Kabul in 2001, we found that the Taliban themselves had been doing, you know, photo substitution on passports. They had been doing this. It's not that complicated. It doesn't necessarily have to be the Israeli government. There could be individual Israelis, groups of businessmen that decided they have had it with Hamas and they are going to do this.
You know, it doesn't necessarily have to be Israeli security services. We have had cases where Americans decided to go off and participate in operations as mercenaries. I don't see why, you know, you -- you wouldn't see individual businessmen doing the same thing.
COOPER: Were you surprised that this Hamas guy did not have security with him? And also, I mean, the fact that they must have had some sort of advance knowledge of the fact that he was going to check into this hotel and his general schedule in terms of, you know, when he would be leaving or that he would be leaving the room?
BERNTSEN: Well, clearly, he got sloppy, and surely, they must have had people in contact with him. They had somebody that could actually put him on the dime, put him in place so that whoever was going to kill him would know where he was at the moment he was going to be there. It's not that complicated to do.
It's with -- the question is whether the government or the organization that wanted to do it had the will to do it. Assassinating somebody like that is not that difficult. It's a matter of will.
COOPER: But now the Dubai government has -- has publicized the suspects' identities. It's -- do you -- were you surprised that they came forward in such a public way?
BERNTSEN: Yes. I think -- well, clearly, they're embarrassed. This is the second assassination in about eight months there. They don't -- this is not good for business for the government of Dubai. That's why they would have done it. And it's, you know, they are trying to, of course, you know, brush back the individuals that are doing this type of activity. They don't want to see it anymore.
But you know, it's -- what's done is done. And, you know, the cat is out of the bag. The Dubai -- the problem you have in Dubai is they're allowing such a large volume of people to come in and out of there. They're not checking people very well, whether they be terrorists or those pursuing terrorists. So, you know, these guys are vulnerable on the ground there.
COOPER: Yes, I mean, Dubai is a city where everybody seems to be from somewhere else. You know, everybody comes there for one reason or another.
Hamas is obviously claiming Israel is behind it. Israel has not confirmed or denied these accusations. I mean, to you does this bear the hallmark of a Masood operation?
BERNTSEN: Well, could be. Could be. But there was no -- there was no specific tradecraft revealed there that indicates that, that it could have been them or could have been someone else. But, you know, likely, given the information that's been presented, that they would be the most likely culprits, but they won't, you know, admit it either way.
COOPER: Does this kind of stuff, when you talk about the Chechen, but does this happen a lot more than we realize? I mean, a lot more than it's ever publicized?
BERNTSEN: Well, yes. Back in the 1990s, the late '80s, early '90s, there were a large number of people that were assassinated out in Dubai. Most of them were Iranian expatriates. Some of them were U.S. citizens or U.S. green-card holders that were murdered by the Iranian Islamic regime in Dubai.
COOPER: There -- there were also a couple of folks, I think, if memory serves me correctly, in the '70s killed in, like, London by Soviet intelligence. Right? Like, wasn't there like somebody killed with an umbrella that was tipped with poison?
BERNTSEN: That was a KGB operation where they used resin in an umbrella, stuck the guy in the leg and, of course, killed him in the hospital several days later.
But the killings that were taking place in Dubai specifically were during the early '90s. The Iranian Revolutionary Guard, core of ministry intelligence and security.
The Iranians are probably the largest group or state sponsors of assassinations. And they've assassinated people in Thailand. You know, they've worked with groups, different, you know, groups or branches of Hezbollah to kill Saudi diplomats, to do all sorts of stuff like that. And the Iranians were the big culprits in this.
What the Israelis would call this is preventive defense.
COOPER: Gary Berntsen. Appreciate your expertise. Thanks, Gary.
BERNTSEN: You're welcome. Bye-bye.
COOPER: You can join the live chat right now at AC360.com. Tell us what you think about this fascinating video.
Just ahead, adoptive parents who fear for their lives and the troubled kids who threaten them. Can a ranch in Montana help these kids control their rage and ultimately return to the families who promised to raise them? We're going to take you up close. A really sad story, but an important one to see.
Plus the Westminster has their big dog show. We have our own ten contenders. We're going to show you their face. They belong to our 360 staffers. Who should be our best in show? Go to AC360.com to vote. May the best dog win.
COOPER: Up close tonight, a story full of heartache, guilt and danger. What happens when you adopt a child that turns out to be too dangerous to raise? Not a hypothetical question unfortunately. We're talking about adoptive parents who adopted sons and daughters have threatened to kill them or burn down the house or harm a sibling. It doesn't happen often, but when it does, it raises some serious questions. What would you do if you were that parent?
A ranch in Montana is offering some of these families hope. But as Gary Tuchman found out, there are no guarantees of a happy ending. Here's his report.
GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Eleven-year-old Alec is a precocious, intelligent child. But he's said and done things that have greatly frightened his parents.
(on camera) Did you threaten to hurt them?
ALEC COLE, ADOPTED BOY: Yes, like...
TUCHMAN: What did you say to them?
A. COLE: One of the things like, "I'm going to kill you. I'm going to punch you."
TUCHMAN (voice-over): Beth and Bill Cole are Alec's mom and dad.
BETH COLE, MOTHER: I adore him. I love him. I just want him to have a good future. Just as normal as can be.
TUCHMAN: This is from a videotape Alec's parents gave us. They took this video because psychologists, psychiatrists and social workers didn't necessarily believe or understand what Alec has done.
And now his pained parents have taken drastic measures. Alec is no longer living with them in Florida. He lives in Montana on a ranch for deeply-troubled adopted children.
A. COLE: I freaked out, like almost like every day.
TUCHMAN: Alec's parents adopted him from an orphanage in the former Soviet republic of Belarus when he was a toddler. They also adopted their daughter Lauren from the same country, who was having a much easier time in his home.
A. COLE: It's like any other orphanage, basically.
TUCHMAN (on camera): I understand completely.
A. COLE: Very poor.
TUCHMAN: I understand.
(voice-over) Alec lives on what is known as the Ranch for Kids with a grandmother who has raised Russian orphans of her own, Joyce Sterkle.
JOYCE STERKLE, RANCH FOR KIDS: The purpose is to assist parents and children in reuniting with each other if they've had difficulty because of attachment issues or fetal alcohol spectrum disorder.
TUCHMAN: Like many of the 25 children at the Ranch for Kids, Alec has dramatic mood swings. At the worst, he's violent and threatening.
(on camera) What has he said to you in terms of threats?
BETH COLE: The worst is that he's going to kill us. Kill all of us, burn down the house.
BILL COLE, FATHER: He's talked about wanting to blow up the house, wanting to burn down the house, wanting to get a knife to stab us with, and we -- it seems silly, but we took the stuff to hide the knives and the kitchen knives in the house and put them up to where he couldn't get to them.
TUCHMAN: Your parents have told the people here that you once said, "I'll get a gun and shoot you in the neck, then in the heart." Did you say that to them?
A. COLE: Yes.
TUCHMAN: How come?
A. COLE: Because I just get mad.
TUCHMAN: Do you remember what else you've said to them that may be mean?
A. COLE: I'm going to stab them.
A. COLE: I'll stab them.
TUCHMAN: You want to stab them? How does that make you feel when you say those things?
A. COLE: Sad.
TUCHMAN: I understand. Because they love you so much, right? You know what? They love you, and that's the most important thing. And you love them, right?
(voice-over) Parents send their children here for about $3,500 a month, because they usually don't know what else to do.
STERKLE: All of our kids, they've been to the psychiatrist. They've been to the psychologist. They've been to the therapist. They've been medicated.
TUCHMAN (on camera): So you're saying the people that have the expertise haven't done anything for them?
STERKLE: In many cases. I'm not saying all, but in many cases, those modalities failed.
TUCHMAN (voice-over): They get love here, but sometimes it's tough love. There's a lot of snow to shovel, chores to do. They go to school, where in addition to the three "R's," there's lessons in human relations. A. COLE: I am sad because I have been mean and treated my family. I feel sorry for the way I've treated people in the past. The end.
TUCHMAN (on camera): It sounds like a feel-good story. It is. And it isn't. That's because the endings are not always happy ones. Sometimes these children don't improve enough to go back home. Other times, the parents just don't want them back.
(voice-over) But most of the parents are desperate for their kids to get better and come home.
Christopher was adopted from China when he was a toddler.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't know where (UNINTELLIGIBLE).
TUCHMAN: His mother and sister, also adopted in China, live in Florida. Anneke Napp says she loves her son very much, but...
ANNEKE NAPP, CHRISTOPHER'S MOM: He would hit me. He would kick me. He would throw things at me. He would throw things at her.
TUCHMAN (on camera): Would he say threatening things to you?
TUCHMAN: Like what?
NAPP: Like -- that he was going to hurt me. That he was going to kill me.
TUCHMAN (voice-over): And now she says she has made a painful decision, mainly because she fears for her daughter's well-being.
NAPP: I've decided not to bring him home.
TUCHMAN (on camera): Ever?
(voice-over) While we were at the ranch, Joyce Sterkle broke the news to Christopher.
STERKLE: So she's kind of talking about maybe she thinks you would be happier if you got a second chance in a new family.
TUCHMAN: Christopher was told another family in Washington state is interested in adopting him.
NAPP: You have to make a decision of what's best for everybody. And I believe that this is also best for Christopher.
TUCHMAN: Alec's parents have a much different outlook.
(on camera) Is there any chance that you would realize that maybe he would be too dangerous to be back in your family setting and that you would send him to a foster home or maybe get another family to adopt him? BILL COLE: No, not at all.
TUCHMAN: Not a chance at all?
BETH COLE: No. He's our son.
TUCHMAN: So what do you want to do when you grow up?
A. COLE: I really want to, like, discover new places in the world. Discover new land.
TUCHMAN: You want to be an explorer?
A. COLE: Yes, I want to have like my own country that I own. Like...
TUCHMAN: We'll call it Alec Land.
A. COLE: I'm not sure about that. I may name it related to Florida because that's my home, like, place.
TUCHMAN (voice-over): Back at his home-like place, they hope and pray he'll be well enough to some day come back.
Gary Tuchman, CNN, Eureka, Montana.
COOPER: Such an impossible situation. Gary blogged about covering the Ranch for Kids story. You can read his post at AC360.com.
And coming up next, we're going to talk to a pediatrician who's one of the world's leading experts on international adoptions about the medical problems that some former orphans face.
And the end of the search for a hiker who fell into a crater on Mount St. Helen's, coming up.
COOPER: Let's dig deeper into troubled adoptions. Before the break, Gary Tuchman took us to a ranch in Montana that tries to help adopted kids who are too troubled, too dangerous to raise.
It's a risk families take whenever they adopt, of course. But it's a risk that Dr. Jane Aronson is well aware of. She's a pediatrician, CEO, and founder of Worldwide Orphans Foundation.
I just want to be clear. This is pretty rare. I mean, I don't want to dissuade somebody from an international adoption. It's pretty rare, this kind of thing happening, right?
DR. JANE ARONSON, FOUNDER, WORLDWIDE ORPHANS FOUNDATION: Absolutely. Reactive attachment disorder is exceedingly rare. Although attachment disorder, different kinds of attachment issues for children who have been adopted from abroad, are pretty common.
COOPER: What is reactive attachment disorder?
ARONSON: Reactive attachment disorder is a rare and very serious disorder of a proportion, I can say that it is an intense disorientation to intimacy. So the child cannot bond or connect to anyone and often becomes incredibly violent and can threaten the lives of animals in the home or people in the home.
COOPER: And is that generally in kids who spent more time in an institution?
ARONSON: The hypothesis is that the longer a child spends in an institution, the more risk there is for them to have reactive attachment disorder.
But I want to also educate the public about the fact that there are many children who don't spend an inordinate amount of time in institutions who end up with attachment disorder, particularly RAD, likely because they have early damage to their brain during infancy due to exposure to alcohol, malnourishment, smoking, drugs, environmental toxins and infections. So it's...
COOPER: So there's an actual physical damage?
ARONSON: There's actual organic and physical damage that now has been -- it has been studied by neuroscientists, who really have analyzed and looked at the brain using CAT scans, MRIs, PET scans, et cetera, and have shown that children can have damage to their brain early on and not have sustained long periods of institutionalization.
COOPER: So what can a parent do in a case like this? The ranch that Gary talked about costs, like, $3,500 a month. Obviously, a lot of money for a lot of folks.
ARONSON: I don't think -- I don't think that most kids with reactive attachment disorder end up in Ranch for Kids, by the way. I think lots of kids undergo an array of treatments. There are many therapeutic modalities that can be used for kids with attachment disorder. There are family therapy situations. There's individual therapy. Play therapy. There are medications, behavioral management. Therapeutic environments in schools, group work, sports, music, arts. There's a lot of different approaches to reactive attachment disorder.
And it isn't necessarily necessary for children to go to a Ranch for Kids. Although it is a great option if it's something the families can afford to do.
COOPER: Is it -- is that common that somebody who's gone through the process of adopting decides to then give back the child?
ARONSON: The concept you're talking about is disruption or disillusionment. And the range of statistics on this are very, very wide. I mean, you know, if you look at Barth and Barry's (ph) data, you'll see that maybe about 10 percent of adoptions will end up with disruption or disillusionment.
And I think that it's really important for everyone to understand that it's a -- it's rare for disruption to occur for adopted children, both domestically and internationally, by the way.
We have to also bring in that people do disrupt adoptions domestically. But it is last ditch. I mean, it's really at the end, when people have tried many different things to try to help themselves and their families and their children, that they end up disrupting.
One more point I want to bring up, though, is that often it's not discussed from the beginning. And it's really important that families understand that that's not something we want to happen, but it's important if families are thinking about ending the adoption or not finalizing their adoption, they need to be able to have an open channel to talk with social workers and psychologists about their feelings, because that's when the danger occurs.
And that danger is post-adoption depression and post-adoption actual attachment disorder for the parents. Many parents actually have attachment disorder themselves, because they don't willingly accept the child's problems when they're first adopted. And then they become depressed, and they actually aid and abet attachment issues for the child.
COOPER: Wow. It's -- I mean, it's got to be devastating for everybody involved to dissolve an adoption after it's gone through the process.
Dr. Aronson, I appreciate you being on. Thanks so much.
ARONSON: You're very welcome.
COOPER: Coming up next, the end to the search for a hiker who fell into a crater of a volcano.
Plus, dramatic video of a landslide forced hundreds of people from their homes.
And something to make you smile before maybe heading off to bed. The announcement of the winner of the 360 "Best in Show" contest in honor of the Westminster Dog Show. See if your favorite dog is our top dog, next.
COOPER: All right. Let's check some of the other stories we're following. Poppy Harlow has a "360 Bulletin" -- Poppy.
POPPY HARLOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, a tragic story. A climber who fell into a crater of Mount St. Helen's volcano on Monday is now dead. The body of 52-year-old Joseph Bohlig was recovered today and flown to Carson, Washington, for an autopsy. Rescuers had been trying to reach Bohlig since yesterday when he fell and slid 1,500 feet into that crater. And a massive mud slide in southern Italy sends residents running, literally, for their lives. Some 200 people were forced to flee their town Monday after a hillside collapsed in the Calabria region of Italy. No deaths, though, have been reported.
Meantime, Toyota's troubles continue. The government today turned the heat up on its investigation of the carmaker, ordering Toyota to produce documents showing when and how it learned of the defects in roughly 6 million U.S. vehicles that have been recalled.
And what a rally. On Wall Street today, stocks soared as better- than-expected earnings reports boosted investor confidence. The Dow finished up nearly 170 points. The NASDAQ and the S&P 500 also posted solid gains.
And a week after New Orleans celebrated its first Super Bowl win, Mardi Gras -- you see it right there -- in full swing. Despite the chilly weather in New Orleans, revelers filled the streets of the French Quarter, enjoying the floats, the beads, the jazz and all that drinking that Fat Tuesday brings.
It is, Anderson, a city that just lets the good times roll, right?
COOPER: Certainly is.
Poppy, tonight's "Shot" is -- well, it's gone to the dogs.
HARLOW: Love this one.
COOPER: Twenty-five-hundred dogs competing at Madison Square Garden tonight for the coveted title of best in show, the Westminster Kennel Club dog show. The competition is tough. We can't show you the winner this year unless we want to get sued.
But here at 360, we decided to hold our own dog show and make you the judges. Now, all day you've been voting for the top dog among these ten contenders who belong to our staff. My dog's not on there. There's Nola and Star, Sugar, Guapo and Maddy, also Emma, Romeo, Sammy, Buddy and Bruiser.
And, all right, time for the winners, Poppy. The winners are...
HARLOW: Here woo go.
COOPER: Second runner-up -- exactly. Second runner up is Buddy.
COOPER: He belongs to our talented associate producer Devna (ph).
COOPER: Sugar. She belongs to our executive administrative assistant Joey (ph). Aw.
And the 360 "Best in Show" -- and the drum roll, please -- Nola. Tom Foreman's dog.
HARLOW: How fitting, Nola. With all the partying in New Orleans right now.
HARLOW: My dog didn't make -- Anderson, my dog didn't even make the top three.
COOPER: No, that's sad.
HARLOW: Can you guess which one it is?
COOPER: No. Which one is your dog?
HARLOW: Bruiser, the bulldog.
HARLOW: Bruiser runs my life. It's OK, though.
COOPER: There's Bruiser. All right.
HARLOW: There's Bruiser.
COOPER: Poppy, thanks very much. And Bruiser, thank you.
We've got more at the top of the hour. We'll be right back.
COOPER: Tonight, the growing call to throw them all out and the growing exodus. Lawmakers leaving on their own, sick of the fighting, the partisanship, all of it. Is Congress broken? And if it is, how do you fix it? The "Raw Politics" tonight. We'll have more with Bill Maher. Also Congressman Ron Paul and his son running for Senate, Dr. Rand Paul.
Also tonight, you'll watch a man pursued and stalked by a team of international assassins. The man is also a killer. He ends up dead. There's a global hunt for the hit squad. It's not a movie we're talking about. Real life. You'll watch it unfold. The surveillance cameras recorded it. Really never seen anything like it.
And later, what do you do when your adopted child threatens to kill you? Coping with the danger and the heartache of a child who badly needs parenting but may be too dangerous to raise.
First up tonight, the anger in Washington and the people trying to tap into it. Republican Party chairman Michael Steele today sitting down with several dozen Tea Partiers. After the meeting, when reporters asked if they were now loyal Republicans, the Tea Partiers shouted "No." A lot of discontent out there. People who can't stand Congress. Even Congress people who can't stand Congress.