Return to Transcripts main page
ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Chile Earthquake Aftermath; The Power of One Senator; Seaworld Safety Record Examined; Investigators Link Hamas Leader's Death to Israel; Obama Gets Health Checkup; Osmond Tragedy: Marie's Son Commits Suicide
Aired March 1, 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: Good evening, everyone.
Tonight: rescue relief work and riot control and a disaster that could have been so much worse. We're talking, of course, about Chile. And we will have the latest from on the ground there.
We're also going to show you exactly why it came through its quake better than Haiti, and also which American cities now face the greatest possibility of the big one -- scary stuff, but better to know than to not know.
Also, on the day a killer whale's trainer is laid to rest, this video of an earlier SeaWorld attack surfaced. The government investigated, predicted someone would get killed one day. But then that warning was edited out of the government's report. The question is, why? Was it pressure from SeaWorld? We're "Keeping Them Honest."
And Senator Jim Bunning gets angry at a simple question from CNN. Why did he alone stop a bill that expired today and lost hundreds of thousands their jobless benefits and health insurance? A simple question. We tried to get an answer. We will give you the answer tonight and the "Raw Politics."
But, first up, the quake and new video taken as it happened, the first clip posted on YouTube from inside a nightclub. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: And can you imagine being in a nightclub when a earthquake hits, 3:34 a.m. local time Saturday morning?
Elsewhere, someone had a video camera running at their home, more sound than picture. But the sound is chilling. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): Oh, my God.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): OK. OK. Take it easy. Look, look...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Dad! Dad!
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): Go cut the power.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Easy. Easy. Easy.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): Oh, my God.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): OK. OK. Take it easy. We are together here now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Scary stuff. Here's the latest: Heavy construction in Concepcion, which Chile's second largest city, but police, military, and government services are all functioning.
There have been outbreaks of looting, but merchants have now struck a deal with authorities, giving away food and other necessities to those in need. American and U.N. aid is on the way. Secretary of State Clinton is due in Chile tomorrow.
More than 700 bodies have been recovered so far, the majority in the town of Maule -- casualties, too, from the tsunami, and recriminations today, the Chilean defense minister blaming the navy for not issuing a warning.
But main focus right now tonight is the search for survivors.
Soledad O'Brien is on the ground in Concepcion and has our report.
SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): On the side of this building in Concepcion, you can see the numbers, one through 15, 15 floors toppled sideways into a heap of rubble. The numbers on the chart of these rescue workers even more grim -- 48 missing, and the count of the dead goes floor by floor.
(on camera): Of the 48 people who are inside, what's the likelihood they're alive?
GUSTAVO RUDOLPHY, CHILEAN FIREFIGHTER: I don't know. We're looking. There are some spaces there that perhaps we can find some -- some persons. But, in these floors down here, we -- I think there's not too much chance.
O'BRIEN: These Chilean rescue workers were heroes in Haiti just a few weeks ago, digging out survivors of that earthquake. Now they're in their homeland doing the same after an earthquake estimated to be 800 times more powerful.
Just a block away, crowds watch a massive fire spread out of control. It was set by looters. And local firefighters were running the search-and-rescue victims and couldn't attend to both. A drive down a Main Street becomes dangerous. Looters are breaking into open buildings, breaking into garages, in clear view of military guards.
The military said it had to take all groceries from the market to a distribution point. But, at this mall, they're way too late. There's nothing left to distribute and nothing left to take.
The water hoses were turned toward looters and people walking in and out of stores without resistance. I confronted two women carrying a bag full of goods and asked what they had taken and why. They ran off in plain view of the military, no explanation, no reason.
Across the street, a family sat outside defending their tiny store and home. They can't go inside because of the powerful aftershocks still shaking their vulnerable house. They're afraid of being outside, because people are trying to steal what little they have left.
JULIA MONTOYA, CHILEAN EARTHQUAKE SURVIVOR (through translator): We don't know what we're going to do. We're sitting out here, waiting for somebody to help us.
COOPER: Well, that was Soledad O'Brien reporting.
We were trying to establish a connection, a live connection, with Soledad and also with our Karl Penhaul, who is also on the ground. We have been having trouble establishing that connection. As you can imagine, it's difficult conditions. We will continue to try to do that.
But we want to show you why this wasn't even worse. Seven hundred killed is not hundreds of thousands, as in Haiti. Obviously, 700 is too many. But these pictures tell part of the reason why that difference in the destruction -- on the left, the kind of damage we saw all across Port-au-Prince, pancaked buildings -- on the right, what happened to most of the structures in the town of Concepcion, terrible damage, but survivable damage.
So, we wanted to know exactly what makes the difference between life and death in an earthquake.
Joe Johns found out.
JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The quake in Haiti was a 7.0, killing more than 200,000 people. The quake in Chile registered 8.8, as much as 800 times stronger -- the death toll, less than 1,000 so far. Why is that? Geography, for one thing. The Port-au-Prince quake was in shallow earth 15 miles from the city. The Chile quake was 30 miles off the coast, deep under water.
History is another factor. No one alive remembers the series of earthquakes that hit Haiti in the 1700s. But Chile's experience is much more recent, more than 28 quakes in the 20th century, including the most powerful earthquake ever recorded in 1960, all of which has led Chile to put in and adhere to strict building codes.
Chile learned its lessons the hard way, making engineering the biggest factor of all that sets Chile and Haiti apart.
ROGER BILHAM, PROFESSOR OF GEOLOGICAL SCIENCES, UNIVERSITY OF COLORADO: Despite the -- the -- the loss of life, this has to be regarded as a success story. The -- you have got to remember that 500,000 buildings are damaged, probably half of those irreparably. But we're looking at a kind of earthquake destruction that enables people to walk out of these damaged structures.
JOHNS: In precisely the same way that Chile's building codes were a success, Haiti was a dismal and deadly failure. In Port-au- Prince, we surveyed the damage with structural engineer Kit Miyamoto, who specializes in earthquakes.
KIT MIYAMOTO, STRUCTURAL AND EARTHQUAKE ENGINEER: You see the column. You see top of column. You see some rebar kind of sticking out through it?
JOHNS (on camera): Yes.
GRIFFITH: Doesn't have enough group, just does not have enough rebar. That's why it just collapsed like that. It's really brittle.
JOHNS (voice-over): Chile is one of the wealthiest and most transparent countries in South America. Haiti is the poorest and among the most corrupt in the Western Hemisphere. So, how does Haiti get the money and enforcement power to change the rules and build safe buildings?
MIYAMOTO: We know that this area is one of the highest-risk area in the whole world, a really dangerous area, and, still, the new construction do not have the use of the latest technology.
This is cost, we're talking about $20 billion, right, and, also 200,000 death. You can prepare for probably thousands of the cost and no death.
JOHNS (on camera): Who messed it up so bad in Haiti?
MIYAMOTO: We did, engineers.
JOHNS: By not doing the right things?
(CROSSTALK) MIYAMOTO: I did not -- I did not speak out loud enough. It's our responsibility. I have no doubt in my mind that we need to take responsibility. This is my screw-up. This -- this should not be happening again again. This should not be -- this story needs to be told.
JOHNS (voice-over): After so many deaths, engineering a safer future is a heavy burden.
Joe Johns, CNN, Washington.
COOPER: A quick reminder: The live chat is up and running right now at AC360.com. You can join that live chat.
We have established contact with Chile. And we're going to go back there in a moment. Soledad O'Brien and Karl Penhaul are standing by live for us.
Also, we're going to take a look at where the next big quake may hit, including two cities right here in America. A seismologist is with us for that.
And, later, killer whale attacks. The government investigates. Strong language, though, was taken out of their report. Why? Did SeaWorld lean on regulators? Tonight, we're "Keeping Them Honest."
COOPER: And take a look at the quake as it hit, the video from inside a disco in Chile -- more than 700 now dead across that country.
Soledad O'Brien is there for us, along with CNN's Karl Penhaul. We have established contact.
Soledad, what really strikes you from what you are seeing today?
O'BRIEN: The looting, I would have to say.
We were covering a big fire that was set, we were told by several sources, by looters, who, when they realized there was nothing else to steal out of the clothing store, then just set it on fire and hopped in their cars and took off.
And I -- I think we're seeing, you know, some 48 hours-plus past the quake hitting, really much more aggressive and angry looting than I have seen in -- in any post-disaster, including Katrina and the most recent earthquake in Haiti.
COOPER: Karl, how does this compare to what you saw on the ground in Haiti?
KARL PENHAUL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's certainly very difficult to compare with Haiti. These are very two difficult -- two very different earthquakes. The extent of the damage in Haiti, as you know, was absolutely devastating, here in Chile, far less.
That said, whenever it's human lives at stake, then one life is -- is -- has that impact. But what has struck me here, something that we didn't see in Haiti, was the fact that this earthquake went hand in hand with a tsunami. And, make no mistake about it, that has been the number-one cause for the loss of life here.
We were at a coastal village called Talcahuano today, and, there, a 70-ton fishing boat just high and dry on the Main Street there. It was washed ashore by a two-meter tsunami wave that came in just an hour after the earthquake -- Anderson.
COOPER: And -- and some people have blamed authorities, saying that there was not a warning of that tsunami in that town. Is that correct?
PENHAUL: That is correct. We have heard even from the Chilean defense ministry blaming the navy for not sharing its systems and its early warning saying that a tsunami may be on its way. And, in fact, residents in that town say that the navy and firefighters told them to go back home; there was no risk of a tsunami.
But they say that they learned from the 1960 earthquake and also the very fact that they're fishermen. They live by the sea. They headed for high ground. And, thankfully, in that particular town, not a single life was lost -- Anderson.
COOPER: And, Soledad, in terms of aid getting to those who need it, how is that going?
O'BRIEN: Yes, we spoke to a lot of people here who are very frustrated and very angry. There had been water stations set up, and there are clearly areas where they're distributing food, the military kind of taking lead on that.
But when you see people who own small businesses, and they have sort of blocked off their street, and they're holding their dogs and, in some cases, like, you know, sticks for weapons, saying, there is no presence here to protect us, so we're going to stand in front of our business and make sure the looters don't get us. They're very angry. They're very upset.
And they said it's, you know, (SPEAKING SPANISH), a lie that everything's very organized. It's a lie that things are going smoothly. It's not going smoothly.
And we were asked: Tell that story. It's not going smoothly. That's a lie.
COOPER: Soledad and Karl getting the word out, I appreciate it. Thank you.
We have seen two major earthquakes this year. Seismologists predict more likely -- we're -- we're likely to see more, if not shortly, than certainly within the near future. The question is where. Experts say five cities face the greatest risk, Jakarta, Indonesia, a country still recovering from the deadly quake and tsunami of 2004.
Seattle, big ones don't hit Seattle very often. But, if one does, neither it nor any of the nearby Pacific Northwest cities is as well-prepared as, say, San Francisco. Iran's capital, Tehran, is number three on the list, the entire country, frankly, vulnerable. More than 30,000 died when a quake hit the city of Bam in 2003.
Tokyo is number two on the list. They get plenty of quakes. They're prepared. But so many people living in so little space means casualties could be high. And number one on the danger list is Los Angeles, California. The last so-called big one hit the city in 1857. Seismologists say it gets one every 150 years, so it is due.
With us now is Arthur Lerner-Lam, associate director for seismology at Columbia University.
Let's start in Los Angeles. How prepared is that city?
DR. ARTHUR LERNER-LAM, ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR FOR SEISMOLOGY, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY: Well, Los Angeles is one of the best-prepared cities in the world, actually.
The earthquake probabilities, the occurrence is well-known. There are very, very strict building codes. And the emergency responders are very well-trained.
COOPER: The -- the way you -- you determine, though, I mean, you can't say, well, the next five years. You -- you guys do it in 30- year timeframes. Why is that?
LERNER-LAM: Well, 30 years is -- is sort of a time scale that people can understand in terms of their property. It's the length of a typical mortgage, for example.
But, really, from a physics point of view, we can't do much better than trying to forecast earthquakes on decade time scales.
COOPER: I read that -- that 80 percent of California's buildings, some that were built before 1971, which I think is when the last time there was a major earthquake and a lot of the building standards were changed. How big of a concern is that?
LERNER-LAM: Well, that's a big concern, not just in California, but worldwide.
Engineers, of course, know a lot more about earthquakes and the way to build strong buildings. But any building that's constructed prior to the imposition of building codes can be very weak.
LERNER-LAM: And that's a major concern.
COOPER: Let's move up to coast to -- to Seattle.
LERNER-LAM: Mm-hmm. COOPER: How is -- how is Seattle prepared, and what's the likelihood of something there?
LERNER-LAM: Well, the last major earthquake along the coast of Washington and Oregon occurred around 1700. And that was very large. It's very much like the earthquake that occurred in Chile. It produced a tsunami.
And, in recent years, Seattle has become more prepared for an event of that nature.
COOPER: And -- and this red line is -- is -- these are fault lines?
LERNER-LAM: Yes. This red line is a -- is a plate boundary. In fact, there are two plate boundaries here. This is a small plate that's moving below Washington and Oregon.
And it's moving along this trench. This is called a subduction zone. And it causes the volcanoes along -- in the cascade range, and it earthquakes along the coast.
COOPER: Now, this looks relatively far away from Seattle. I mean, should people take comfort in that, that it's not right there? Or does it...
COOPER: Does that not matter?
LERNER-LAM: It is relatively far away from Seattle, so there won't be that much shaking, perhaps, or the shaking will be somewhat attenuated. But the problem here might be a coastal tsunami, just like we saw in Chile.
COOPER: Let's go to Jakarta, Indonesia, a city -- a place -- the whole region is called the Ring of Fire. This is obviously where we saw the -- the tsunami a little bit further up north.
LERNER-LAM: Right. This is called -- this is part of what seismologists call the circum-seismic belt, or, more colloquially, the Ring of Fire.
COOPER: So, they have -- so, they have got a line running down right down...
LERNER-LAM: They have got a line running down the center of Sumatra. Here is Jakarta over here. This is the island of Java.
The earthquake in 2004 occurred right around up here. And this -- basically, this whole region has volcanoes. It has earthquakes. And we know that there have been large earthquakes in the past.
COOPER: How can you tell that a tsunami is the bigger threat than -- than the earthquake might be?
LERNER-LAM: Well, that's really rough. We know from past history that earthquakes along faults, such as off Indonesia, do cause tsunamis. But we have very little evidence of past damage. They don't occur very frequently.
But, generally speaking, a tsunami can be a very dangerous threat. The good thing about it, if there's a good thing, is that, often, it comes with a few hours warning.
COOPER: Tokyo and Tehran, the other cities on the list.
Professor, I appreciate you being with us.
LERNER-LAM: Of course.
COOPER: Thank you so much.
Straight ahead tonight,: the political power that we saw being played, I guess we should say, in Washington today -- one senator deciding to affect hundreds of thousands of lives. We will talk about that coming up.
And the latest on the killer whale -- the -- the trainer was buried today. We will take a look at that story ahead.
COOPER: In "Raw Politics" tonight: Senate Democrats are blasting Kentucky Republican Jim Bunning for blocking a bill that, among other things, would extend jobless benefits to more than a million out-of-work Americans.
The fireworks began last week, when Bunning said he couldn't approve the $10 billion bill because its cost wasn't offset by cuts in other programs. He said it was going to add to the deficit. He also complained that he was missing a college basketball game that he really, really wanted to see. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JIM BUNNING (R), KENTUCKY: I want to assure the people that have...
BUNNING: ... watched this thing until quarter to 12:00 -- and I have missed the Kentucky-South Carolina game that started at 9:00 -- and it's the only redeeming chance we had to beat South Carolina.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, it all came to a head today, when the effects of Bunning's moves began to be felt. Dana Bash tried to get some answers from senator today, but it didn't go so well.
DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Questions about why Jim Bunning is flocking money to keep some popular federal programs going did not sit well with the senator today.
SEN. JIM BUNNING (R), KENTUCKY: Excuse me.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... people who are unemployed?
BUNNING: I have to go to the floor.
BASH (on camera): Senator, can you just explain why you're holding this up? I'm sure you have an explanation.
BUNNING: Excuse me.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. Are you concerned about those that -- that -- that are going to lose their benefits?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Guess we have our answer.
BASH (voice-over): Bunning has been using the power of a single senator to hold up a $10 billion measure since last week. And, today, it had a real-world effect. Construction workers here started the morning on the job, rebuilding a bridge outside Washington. But, as the clock ticked toward noon, workers on this $36 million project were told to stop and leave, the site locked up.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Said to tell everybody to go home at 12:00. Tell everybody to go home.
BASH: The Department of Transportation says it furloughed 2,000 workers around the country because Congress failed to pass legislation to extend funding for the projects.
And the legislation Bunning is blocking also includes unemployment benefits for some 400,000 people, COBRA health subsidies for laid-off workers and small business loans. Bunning did go to the Senate floor to explain, saying he is for extending benefits, but he's taking a stand because he wants to pay for them, not add to the deficit.
BUNNING: If we can't find $10 billion to pay for something that we all support, we will never pay for anything on the floor of this U.S. Senate.
BASH: Bunning even formally offered a measure to pay for the benefits. Democrats objected.
SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV), MAJORITY LEADER: But where was my friend from Kentucky when we had two wars that were unpaid for during the Bush administration, tax cuts that cost more than a trillion dollars, unpaid for? Where was my friend and the Republicans' objecting to that?
BASH: And Democrats are also eager to point out Senator Bunning in the past has voted to extend expiring unemployment benefits without it being paid for, and it also at that point added to the deficit.
So, Anderson, you might add -- why the change? Well, that's one of many questions that we wanted to ask Senator Bunning today, if he would be willing to answer any.
COOPER: It's interesting, because, I mean, he gave his reasons. And you explained them very well. But, I mean, there are a lot of Republicans who do support expanding these benefits.
I mean, politically, it's a relatively popular move. Is he the only one who's against this?
BASH: He's the only one who has come out and formally opposed it. In fact, if not for Senator Bunning, as far as we know, this would be -- these extensions would have gone through. They would have been the law of the land. And you mentioned Republicans. You might ask where the other Republicans are. There is definitely a sound of silence from them.
They do scratch their heads and wonder why he chose this particular issue to take a stand on fiscal restraint, but the inside talk here is that Senator Bunning is a lone soldier. You can tell by...
BASH: ... his reaction there. He does not have a good relationship with his Republican leadership. The leader happens to be his fellow Kentucky Republican. And there's really nothing that they can do about this.
COOPER: All right.
Dana Bash, appreciate it. Interesting day.
We're following some other important stories.
Brianna Keilar joins us with a 360 bulletin -- Brianna.
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, parts of the west coast of France are under water, after deadly storms with hurricane-force winds killed at least 47 people. Hundreds had to be rescued from their rooftops. The winter storm battered at least five other countries as well, killing at least 11 outside of France.
A police officer in suburban Cleveland was struck by a car spinning out of control on an ice...
COOPER: Oh, my gosh. KEILAR: I know. It's amazing, the video here. This was on an icy highway, obviously. This accident was caught on tape by his dashboard cam.
The officer had stopped to help that motorist there moments before he was hit. He is reportedly in fair condition, but he does have several broken bones. I'm sure you're not surprised there.
And if you had to guess who had higher I.Q.s, would you say politically liberal atheists or religious conservatives? Well, according to a new study from the London School of Economics, the liberal atheists were more intelligent, scoring six to 11 points higher on I.Q. tests.
The study also found that monogamous men scored higher than men who are not monogamous.
And, finally, Anderson, quite a treat -- late word tonight that reality TV star Kate Gosselin will compete on "Dancing With the Stars"' new season.
COOPER: Oh, really? Do we really need to see this?
KEILAR: Yes, that's beginning later this month =.
So, you're not going to watch?
COOPER: Ay yi yi. No.
KEILAR: You're going to watch.
COOPER: No, I'm actually not.
COOPER: I can...
KEILAR: I am.
COOPER: I can assure you I'm not.
COOPER: I draw the line somewhere.
KEILAR: It's like a train wreck. You kind of got to watch it.
COOPER: Yes. No. I will leave that to others on this one. I -- I just -- yes, I don't get them.
Anyway, Brianna, thanks.
Coming up next: the president's checkup, his first one. Find out what the problem with his cholesterol is and why he still hasn't quit his 30-year smoking habit. We will tell you how he's trying to. See if that works -- more ahead.
And, later, video surfaces of another SeaWorld killer whale attacking a trainer. This incident prompted a state investigation and a scathing report with a warning that has now, interestingly, disappeared -- the story on that coming up. We're "Keeping Them Honest."
COOPER: In Chicago today, funeral for the Seaworld trainer who was fatally attacked by a killer whale. Hundreds gathered to remember Dawn Brancheau, killed last week when the 12,000-pound whale pulled her into -- into the water. A memorial service will be held in Orlando, as well.
Seaworld calls her death a tragic accident and says Tilikum, the whale that took her life, will continue to perform in its shows despite now having killed three people.
In San Diego another whale belonging to Seaworld severely injured a trainer in 2006, and a state safety group urged major changes to keep employees safe, then reversed its recommendations. A lot of people want to know why.
That's the question we're asking tonight. "Keeping Them Honest," here's Randi Kaye.
RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Look closely. This whale trainer is in the fight of his life. A tourist took this video in November of 2006 at Seaworld in San Diego. Veteran trainer Ken Peters gently rubbing a 5,000-pound killer whale, desperately trying to get the female orca to release his left foot from its jaws.
Just minutes before, during a trick, the whale trapped the trainer underwater for nearly one minute. He survived with some broken bones.
The attack prompted a major health and safety agency in California to release a scathing report of Seaworld and issue a stern warning. In 2006 OSHA investigators predicted a whale trainer would be killed by a whale at the San Diego park, concluding, quote, "Swimming with captive orcas is inherently dangerous. And if someone hasn't been killed already, it is only a matter of time."
Orca biologist Naomi Rose agrees with the findings.
NAOMI ROSE, ORCA BIOLOGIST: If they decide to act out, there will be nothing the trainer can do about it.
KAYE: Rose says since the 1970s at least two dozen people have been injured by killer whales, four killed.
In 2004, this trainer at Seaworld in San Antonio nearly drowned when the whale suddenly began diving over him during a show, repeatedly forcing him under water. He eventually made it to the side of the pool.
(on camera) Back to the OSHA report. It also found trainers, quote, "recognize this risk and train not for if an attack will happen but when."
Seaworld was furious and said the report was full of, quote, "inaccuracies and speculation." It convinced the agency to rewrite it without any predictions or warnings.
(voice-over) Remember OSHA's warning in the original report? "It's only a matter of time before a trainer is killed"? Gone. And the conclusion that trainers plan for when an attack will take place, not if? That's gone, too.
ROSE: They didn't want it to seem as if, you know, killer whales were inherently dangerous. They wanted it to seem as though working with killer whales in the water was inherently safe.
KAYE (on camera): "Keeping Them Honest," we called Seaworld to ask why it quashed the report. A spokesman told us the OSHA employee who did it was, quote, "uninformed and reckless."
When we asked OSHA why it agreed to rewrite the report, the agency told us it was inappropriate and speculative and that scientific analysis could not support the statements.
ROSE: It's unbelievable that a commercial corporation was able to influence what should have been an objective investigation by an agency whose sole function is to protect worker safety.
KAYE: WE counted. The original report was 18 pages. The revised report? Ten pages shorter. What was lost in the rewrite, orca biologist Naomi Rose warns, could have saved a life.
Randi Kaye, CNN, New York.
COOPER: My next guest was the first person to train a killer whale in captivity. That was back in the '60s, when Richard O'Barry was also the trainer of dolphins who played the role of Flipper in the classic TV series of the same name. Since then, he's waged a decades- long fight to rescue and release dolphins in captivity. He's also profiled in the award-winning documentary, "The Cove." Richard O'Barry, a marine mammal specialist at the Earth Island Institute, joins me now.
You heard Randi's report. You say that that's kind of par for the course for companies like Seaworld, which is -- you know, they're part of a billion-dollar industry, and you say that people don't understand the clout they have with government agencies, which are supposed to be overseeing them.
RICHARD O'BARRY, MARINE MAMMAL SPECIALIST: Exactly. You know, this is a multibillion-dollar industry and these incidents -- it was not an accident. It was calculated. You know, this... COOPER: What do you mean it was calculated?
O'BARRY: Well, it was a calculated risk that management was taking. They know that this killer whale killed two people already. And -- as a matter of fact...
COOPER: What do you think -- what do you think is wrong about having killer whales in these tanks? I mean, I know they -- you know, they're obviously wild animals. They live in pods with other family members. I mean, what's inherently, in your opinion, wrong about this?
O'BARRY: Well, there's a lot. First of all, habitat dictates behavior. Their behavior is so radically altered -- well, you know, if you go to the zoo and just take a good look at the snake exhibit, the snake is a small-brained creature, and it's given more consideration than the killer whales at Seaworld.
The snake has some rocks to hide under and some tree limbs and some grass, something natural. But if you go to the tank of Tilikum and put your head under water with a face mask and look around, you're going to see a bare, concrete box. Habitat dictates behavior. They're probably all crazy at this point.
COOPER: You think they've actually -- the whales have actually gone crazy?
O'BARRY: Yes. I think so. I think they're mentally unhealthy. How could they possibly survive that?
You know, on -- something that's not being talked about is on December 24, a Seaworld killer whale killed its trainer, and nobody's talking about that. That was in Tenerife in the Canary Islands. A 29-year-old trainer was killed, and you don't hear anybody talking about that. That just sort of fell through the slats.
COOPER: There's also, it seems like, because so many people want to swim with dolphins and stuff, there's this -- I mean, Seaworld is sort of the biggest, probably best organized, most well-run organization out there. But there's a lot of smaller ones that have smaller pools, don't have as much oversight, not just ones in, you know, in -- you know, in other countries but even in the United States.
O'BARRY: Yes. You can go to the Florida Keys here and find cages alongside the road. And people can get in and swim with these wild animals.
And incidentally, there are a lot of accidents -- not accidents. There are a lot of incidents with these swim-with-the-dolphin programs. And just like at Seaworld, when the trainers file a lawsuit, a lot of money exchanges hands, and they sign something, and you never hear about it.
COOPER: Richard -- sorry, you call Seaworld reprehensible. You say that they brainwash the public. We asked Seaworld for a response. We were told by their chief zoological officer, this guy named Brad Andrews, who said, and I quote, "Rick O'Barry's statements are baseless."
What do you think people have been brainwashed into believing, in your view?
O'BARRY: They're thinking that dolphins actually belong in a concrete box doing stupid tricks, and somehow this translates into education and research.
The fact is, we've had dolphins in captivity since 1938 when it started at St. Augustine, Florida, Marineland. And we should have learned by now that we're talking about a free-ranging sonic creature in a concrete box and that they don't belong there.
COOPER: The other criticism that Seaworld has said is that, and they're very emphatic in pointing out that you, yourself -- and I want to get this right -- were found to be in violation of the Marine Mammal Protection Act back in 1999 for releasing two dolphins who later died. How do you defend yourself against that?
O'BARRY: Well, you could read "To Free a Dolphin." You can find it online. It's about -- it's hard to capsulize that. No, they didn't die. They were set free. Two navy dolphins.
COOPER: And that's what you're saying should happen with all these animals, that they should eventually be rehabituated and sent back into the wild?
O'BARRY: No, I'm not saying that. I'm saying that every orca and every dolphin in a concrete box can be taken into a natural environment, like a large sea pen, for example, where they can experience the natural rhythms of the sea, the tides and currents and retired. And get involved in birth control.
There isn't any reason a dolphin should be born in a concrete box simply to do tricks for us. That does not translate into conservation.
COOPER: Rick O'Barry, I appreciate your time tonight. Thank you very much.
Let us know what you think at AC360.com. Join the live chat. It's happening now. Talk to viewers around the world.
Next on the program, is there a U.S. connection to the assassination of a Hamas leader? The new allegations in the hotel hit and questions about whether Israel was behind the murder. We also now know how the Hamas leader was -- was murdered. The autopsy was done. We'll tell you that. We'll look at security tapes, as well.
And later, Marie Osmond's heartbreak. Her son commits suicide. It's a leading cause of death among teens and young adults. We'll have the latest on that story ahead.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) COOPER: In "Crime & Punishment" tonight, a surprising new twist in the mysterious assassination of that top Hamas leader in that hotel in Dubai, including reports of a possible connection to the United States.
Now, take a look. The closed-circuit TV, the suspect and the hit squad, tracking their victim. The team was tracked from multiple camera angles. Dubai government officials say a small army of suspects was involved in the execution. Originally, they said just 11. Now, it's up to, like, 26. They also say the target was drugged and suffocated. They've done the autopsy and release the reports.
The Israeli intelligence agency Mossad stands accused of orchestrating the plot, one that continues to unfold in a lot of surprising directions. Tom Foreman brings us up to date.
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In the mysterious murder of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, sources close to the investigation tell CNN 27 suspects are now being scrutinized. Most, they say, carried European or Australian passports.
Sources in Dubai say two of them came to America following the killing. Evan Dennings with an Irish passport and Roy Alan Cannon with a British one. But one national security source here says there's no evidence that anyone with either of those names has entered the U.S. since the murder, just deepening the mystery.
Security cameras captured many of the suspects as police say they were closing in on the Hamas leader before he was found dead in his hotel room. But where are they now? The men at the airport, the woman at the check-in counter. The men with the tennis gear. Dubai police insist they are all in Israel, all linked to that country's secretive foreign intelligence unit, the Mossad.
"I am now 100 percent sure that the Mossad is behind the assassination," Dubai's police chief told CNN. "They planned the crime to look like a natural death. The Mossad needs to be ashamed of its actions."
Israeli defense minister Ehud Barak had nothing to say when questioned by CNN's Christiane Amanpour.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: What was going on?
EHUD BARAK, ISRAELI DEFENSE MINISTER: Christiane, you've known me -- known me long enough to assume that, when I tell you that I have nothing to say about this story, I have nothing to say and I will not say.
AMANPOUR: Would you deny it?
BARAK: I will not say anything.
FOREMAN: But Dubai police and sources close to them are saying plenty. The latest, Mabhouh was injected with a powerful muscle relaxant called succinylcholine. Then he was suffocated, after a struggle which Mabhouh's family was told left blood on his pillow.
(on camera) Police say some of Mabhouh's own medication was left nearby in an effort to confuse investigators. But it had nothing to do with his death. They also say they have collected DNA from the scene and that some of the suspects used their own real passports, not fake ones.
(voice-over) All of that could help authorities link the killers to the crime if they ever catch them, but the challenge is daunting, despite all of that videotape that purportedly shows the alleged hit squad closing in on its prey.
Tom Foreman, CNN, Washington.
COOPER: Such a fascinating story.
Still ahead tonight, you want to know how President Obama is trying to quit smoking? He took his first physical since taking office. We'll tell you some of the surprises it uncovered. And 360 M.D. Sanjay Gupta is going to join us to help us put it in perspective.
And the death of Marie Osmond's 18-year-old son has been ruled a suicide. It is the third leading cause of death for young adults. We'll talk to Dr. Drew Pinsky about depression and suicide, ahead.
COOPER: Up close tonight, the president's health. I wanted to show you some video. Something unusual happened today with President Obama. After giving a speech at the U.S. chamber of Commerce today, he broke from his motorcade and actually walked back from the White House, a very short walk just across Lafayette Park. But it kind of sent a signal, which -- because it came a day after his doctor advised him to lower his cholesterol.
Yesterday the president's first physical exam since taking office showed that his cholesterol level has spiked to borderline high. His body max index is 23.7, which is the upper end of normal for men. We also learned Mr. Obama still smokes. His doctor judged his overall health as excellent, but we wanted to kind of drill down on some of these numbers, and maybe a lot of folks at home can take away something from this.
Three-sixty M.D. Sanjay Gupta joins us now.
Sanjay, this body mass index, I don't understand what it is. BMI. His is -- the president's is considered just below overweight on the BMI scale. How is that possible? I mean, he looks incredibly thin.
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: First of all, when you're talking about body mass index, there's a somewhat complicated formula, looking at some -- some person's weight and their height and calculating this body mass index.
And you're absolutely right. I mean, there's standards for what is considered normal, what is considered overweight and obese. His was 23.7, I believe. Twenty five is considered overweight.
So you know, he is still considered healthy, and -- but as you point out, close to being overweight. But I will tell you, in order for him to actually go into the overweight category, he'd have to gain about 10 to 12 pounds. He weighs about 179 with his workout clothes and shoes on. So 10 to 12 pounds is still a fair amount of weight he'd have to gain to get to that overweight level. But again, this is one test among lots of different tests. That belly fat really much more of an important thing here.
COOPER: Someone offered me today to do the body mass index. I was like, no way. I just don't -- I don't buy the whole thing.
It was interesting, though, that he hasn't kicked the smoking habit. I asked him about that last year in my first interview with him in the Oval Office. Let's just quickly have a look at what he said back then. This was February '03 (ph).
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Have you had a cigarette since you've been to the White House?
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I haven't had one on these grounds. And I -- you know, sometimes it's hard, but you know, I'm sticking to -- sticking to it.
COOPER: You said on these grounds. I'll let you pass on that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: I gave him a pass on that one. But it's clear he was still smoking back then. He apparently uses a nicotine replacement therapy. What is that?
GUPTA: Well, there are several different nicotine replacement therapies that people often know. These are the patch or the gum. The idea is that you replace the nicotine, which is what somebody might be craving, and then you slowly wean it down over time. So the patch, you go to lower doses. The gum, you choose less often.
But we also heard, as you know, Anderson, that his aides carry around the nicotine gum with them, as well, because he often is craving the nicotine.
So you know, having a few cigarettes every now and then, I don't want to -- I don't want to trivialize this. That's still a significant issue -- a lot of people will focus in on that -- and could have an impact on his risk for cardiovascular disease and affect his cholesterol, all the other things that you've been talking about. COOPER: Well, that's the other thing, which is that he does have an excess of bad cholesterol. Explain to people the importance of that. I mean, there's good cholesterol which is the HDL. Bad is what, LDL?
GUPTA: That's right. So the LDL or low density lipoprotein, it's called, you know, his is considered borderline high for that. And the larger concern is that it has gone up. You want the LDL to go down and the HDL, which is the good cholesterol, to go up.
You know, he attributes it to a year of campaigning and a year of being president.
HDL, incidentally, Anderson, this is something that you and I have talked about in the past. HDL can really most effectively be raised by exercise, regular exercise.
It's also -- you know, they talked about his affinity for eating hamburgers and getting dessert. You know, it's funny. He works in the White House now. Has had access to a 24-hour chef.
A lot of the question is, what is he asking that chef to prepare for him? And again, according to the press secretary Robert Gibbs, he said he does -- he does like his burgers and his desserts. That's probably some piece of advice that he got from his doctor that he's got to cut back on that stuff.
COOPER: He could switch to turkey burgers or, like, you know, ostrich burgers or something.
GUPTA: Like you eat, I'm sure.
COOPER: Turkey burgers. Yes. All right. Sanjay, thanks.
GUPTA: All right. Thank you.
COOPER: Coming up next, a sad story. The tragic death of Marie Osmond's son. We'll talk to Dr. Drew Pinsky.
COOPER: Marie Osmond is speaking out about her son's suicide. His name is Michael. He jumped from his Los Angeles apartment Friday night. We have this picture from Michael and his mom from "The Insider." He reportedly left a suicide note. Michael was a student at the Fashion Institute of Design in Merchandising. He was just 18 years old.
In a statement Marie Osmond said, and I quote, "My family and I are devastated and in deep shock by the tragic loss of our dear Michael and ask that everyone respect our privacy during this difficult time."
This is a tragedy, obviously, that many American families have suffered through. Suicide is the third leading cause of death for young Americans. We wanted to dig deeper with Dr. Drew. He's -- Dr. Drew Pinsky. He's an addiction specialist and best-selling author.
Dr. Drew, thanks for being with us.
I lost a brother to suicide. This is something which I think a lot of people don't focus on, because it makes them very uncomfortable. There's obviously, you know -- whether it's for religious reasons or social reasons, people just find a hard time talking about this. And yet, it's, you know, third leading cause of death, I think, for kids 15 to 24.
DR. DREW PINSKY, ADDICTION SPECIALIST/AUTHOR: Right. Particularly young males, Anderson. And the fact is I think it is some sort of residual of the notion that mental health disorders of some sort of a weakness.
The fact is these are -- when depression gets so severe that somebody is contemplating suicide. It is a medical issue. And people need to recognize, if anyone out there is suffering depression or someone they love is, 20 percent of people with major depressive disorders will kill themselves.
COOPER: And yet, if you add something like drugs or alcohol into the mix, which is probably something that people who are depressed will sometimes use to maybe mask their symptoms or to deal with their depression, right?
PINSKY: That is absolutely true. Drugs and alcohol are a common concomitant with depression, and they make depression so much worse or they cause or bring on depression. So yes.
And if somebody does have addiction and depression, the addiction has to be treated first and thoroughly before the depression can really adequately be addressed.
COOPER: What are warning signs that parents out there or friends should look for?
PINSKY: Well, if you believe that somebody may be suicidal, if they have been giving away their things, if they begin contemplating or talking about suicide, if they're making a plan, if they have difficulty functioning, getting out of bed.
Even more mild disturbances like change in their sleep cycling, appetite disturbances, irritability, agitations, feeling of worthlessness or guilt, and this goes on more than a couple of weeks, that's all symptoms of somebody that needs medical attention.
COOPER: I'm told the rate of adolescent suicides has actually increased in recent years. And it's a tough story to report on because, in talking about it and reporting on television, that actually can sometimes, if it's not done properly, kind of bring it into people's lives who hadn't previously thought about it.
PINSKY: Unfortunately, there is some copycatting that goes on in adolescents. But young adolescent males have a particular capacity for completing suicide. In other words, they... COOPER: Women attempt it -- girls attempt it more often, but men tend to, when they do attempt it are actually more successful at it in terms of -- because they use more violent means.
PINSKY: Correct. And then also to -- if you or someone you know has experienced this, it's not your fault. The family tends to feel guilty and tends to second-guess themselves. This is a medical disorder that kills one out of five patients. You've got to deal with it that way. And if the outcome is bad, it's not because you could have done anything different. It is a serious and life-threatening medical disorder.
COOPER: And also, it seems in this country people don't take depression seriously enough. I mean, it's not something that people view -- go ahead.
PINSKY: You know that's -- Anderson, I think that's true of all mental health conditions. We have a very strange and sort of primitive way of looking at it, as though these are personal issues that have to be dealt with through being strong or gritting it out or moving through it. It's simply anathema to the fact.
The fact is, these things have treatment. There are diagnostic conditions. People need to reach out for help, and the outcomes can be significantly improved.
COOPER: Dr. Drew. Appreciate it. Thanks, Drew.
Coming up at the top of the hour, the latest from Chile. The search for survivors and how it looked and sounded as the tremors hit.