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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Who's Blocking 9/11 Health Care Bill?; Author of Pedophilia Guide Arrested
Aired December 21, 2010 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening again, Dr. Sanjay Gupta here in New York. Anderson's got the night off.
Tonight: The lawmaker known as Dr. No, Senator Tom Coburn, he may end up single-handedly saying no to thousands of 9/11 first- responders. He says a bill to help them pay their medical bills is being rushed. Critics say it's had plenty of time and it's the senator who's trying to run out the clock. We have got the facts, "Keeping Them Honest."
Also tonight: The author of that how-to guide for pedophiles, he's in jail tonight. But, before he went in, he spoke out, denying the charges, defending the book, and declaring his right to publish it. But it's what else he said that's going to make a parent's blood run a little cold, as you will hear for yourself.
And, later, "Crime & Punishment": a toddler's tragic death. Investigators fail to find a culprit, but then, years later, the cold case finally heats up, and justice is served.
We begin, though, as we always do, "Keeping Them Honest" on something, as Anderson has said many times, we never thought we'd have to be keeping anyone honest about: providing medical care for 9/11 first-responders.
Tonight, a senator -- and a medical doctor, I should point out -- Republican Tom Coburn of Oklahoma is threatening to block legislation to pay for it, to vote, likely tomorrow, against moving it on to a final vote, and, if that passes, to use Senate rules to drag out debate until the session is over.
Now, today, some of the estimated 36,000 police officers, firefighters and others now suffering from 9/11-related illnesses came to Washington and demanded action from the White House and from Congress, especially, though, from Senate Republicans, and Senator Coburn by name.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN FEAL, FOUNDER, FEALGOOD FOUNDATION: Where's his heart? Because it's not in the right place. These men and women behind me have gone eight Christmases suffering, without any help from the federal government. So, I question his heart. This man's a doctor. He took an oath to help people. He shouldn't be a senator and he shouldn't be a doctor if he's going to go out there and attack this bill. A doctor who's against helping people that are sick, figure that out.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GUPTA: That's John Feal there. He runs an advocacy group for 9/11 heroes.
Now, on 9/11, he, John, joined the army of demolition workers who rushed to Ground Zero, clearing wreckage, trying to locate survivors and remains. On the 17th of September, he lost his left foot when a steel beam crushed it.
Now, he, like many other volunteers, did not qualify for the original 9/11 relief fund. Some didn't quality for workman's comp. Others who got workman's comp can no longer afford the co-pays.
The current bill is designed to make up for that, but Senator Coburn objects to the way it's being funded and the way he claims his fellow lawmakers are trying to force it through.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "AMERICA'S NEWSROOM")
SEN. TOM COBURN (R), OKLAHOMA: This bill hasn't even been through a committee. We haven't had the debate in our committee on this bill to know if it is the best thing to do.
We haven't had the testimony to know whether -- this is a bill that's been drawn up and forced through Congress at the end of the year on a basis to solve a problem that we didn't have time to solve, and we didn't get done.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GUPTA: Senator Coburn there, Dr. Coburn, on FOX News.
His office today putting out a list of objections to the bill. And that was one of them, that it's a rush job.
But, "Keeping Them Honest," it didn't take much digging to find that there were committee hearings on this issue, in fact, back in June.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. TOM HARKIN (D), IOWA: The Senate Committee of Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions will please come to order.
I welcome everyone to this important hearing. Nine years ago this September, we all remember that day and we all remember exactly where we were and what we were doing when that happened.
(END VIDEO CLIP) GUPTA: That's Tom Harkin, chairman of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions. That's called the HELP Committee.
And if you go to Senator Coburn's own Web site, you will see right there on the same page about Senator Coburn that among his committee assignments are -- now, you guessed it -- the HELP Committee. The thing is, he missed the hearings. A staffer said that he had a scheduling conflict. And, besides, the staffer said, there wasn't enough debate or changes made.
And, yes, this latest version of the legislation has changed somewhat since those hearings, but mainly to trim the price tag and make other tweaks to seemingly accommodate Republican concerns to try and win their support.
We did try to get Senator Coburn to come on the program tonight, no luck. Earlier today, his spokesman put out the following statement: "Dr. Coburn is continuing to work with the sponsors of the 9/11 bill to find a way to help those who need our aid without creating new burdens for other Americans."
The statement goes on to say this: "He's disappointed the majority waited until the last minute to try to pass this bill, but hopes an agreement can be reached in some way. That's spokesman John Hart.
Sounds reasonable. But later in the day, one of our producers called back and got a couple of comments we wanted to share with you, because they seem to differ in the spirit from that original statement.
First of all -- quote -- "Senator Coburn is still going to force an extended debate." In other words, even if Democrats and Republicans get the 60 votes needed tomorrow to move the bill forward, Dr. Coburn is still going to exercise his privilege, even if he's the only one doing it, to drag out the process.
And remember this. The first part of that earlier statement about working with sponsors of the bill? Well, judging from what his spokesman told our producer, Senator Coburn is willing to let this session of Congress end without passing a bill at all -- quote -- "The clock is not on their side right now. The clock is on our side."
So, is that simply a statement of political reality or an admission that running out the clock has always been the senator's strategy? You decide.
Senator Coburn says he's standing on principle, even if he has to stand alone.
And, today, New York Senator Chuck Schumer acknowledged that Senator Coburn could do just that, while at the same time practically begging him not to.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEN. CHARLES SCHUMER (D), NEW YORK: I would plead with my colleague from Oklahoma, Tom Coburn. He's a friend. He's a good man. He is very meticulous about legislation.
Please don't stop this bill. We all know what it is and what it stands for. And we all know, if it doesn't happen now, it is very unlikely to ever happen again.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GUPTA: That's Senator Schumer today trying diplomacy.
Now, earlier this year, his congressional counterpart, Anthony Weiner, a lot more blunt about all the political game-playing surrounding the 9/11 bill in Washington.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The gentleman is recognized.
REP. ANTHONY WEINER (D), NEW YORK: Great courage to wait until all members have already spoken and then stand up and wrap your arms around procedure.
We see it in the United States Senate every single day where members say, we want amendments, we want debate, we want an amendment, but we're still a no.
And then we stand up and say, oh, if only we had a different process, we'd vote yes.
You vote yes if you believe yes! You vote in favor of something if you believe it is the right thing! If you believe it is the wrong thing, you vote no!
We are following a procedure.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Will the gentleman yield?
WEINER: I will not yield to the gentleman. And the gentleman will observe regular order!
WEINER: The gentleman will observe regular order!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (OFF-MIKE) not in order.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That is correct.
WEINER: The gentleman thinks, if he gets up and yells, he's going to intimidate people into believing he is right. He is wrong! The gentleman is wrong!
The gentleman is providing cover for his colleagues, rather than doing the right thing! It's Republicans wrapping their arms around Republicans, rather than doing the right thing on behalf of the heroes!
It is a shame, a shame!
If you believe this is a bad idea, to provide health care, then vote no! But don't give me the cowardly view that, oh, if it was a different procedure -- the gentleman will observe regular order and sit down!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (OFF-MIKE)
WEINER: I will not!
The gentleman will sit! The gentleman is correct in sitting!
I will not...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The gentleman will suspend.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The gentleman will suspend.
WEINER: I will not stand here and...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The gentleman is recognized.
WEINER: ... and listen to my colleagues say, oh, if only I had a different procedure that allows us to stall, stall, stall, and then vote no.
Instead of standing up and defending your colleagues and voting no on this humane bill, you should urge them to vote yes, something the gentleman has not done!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
Obviously, a lot to talk about. We're going to try to keep the volume town ourselves with Steve Kornacki of Salon.com and also Dana Loesch, editor of BigJournalism.com and host of Saint Louis radio station KFTK 97.1 FM.
Boy, some obviously impassioned discussion.
I think Dana is going to be joining us by phone, Steve. But let me start with you.
One of the big things we keep hearing about is this is being rushed, that it's sort of being dealt with at the 11th hour. Is there some validity to those arguments?
STEVE KORNACKI, SALON.COM: Well, it is sort of being rushed right now, but let's not forget that this bill actually came up a few weeks ago in the Senate, and this could have been dealt with at a time when there was more time to have a debate, more time to discuss, more time to have all of this procedure that -- that Coburn is talking about right now.
The Republicans all stood together and filibustered it a few weeks ago. Their -- their -- you know, you know, the grounds that they provided at that time were, you know, we're not going to take action on any bit of legislation until we address the Bush tax cuts. So, they basically said that this lame-duck session, all of it, is sort of subservient to getting a deal on the tax cuts.
Now, a deal on tax cuts was reached, and then Democrats began sort of ticking through the rest of the items they wanted to address, whether that was the repeal of don't ask, don't tell, the spending bill, the DREAM Act, which went down over the weekend.
GUPTA: ... yesterday, yes.
KORNACKI: And here you are now with a bill that -- now, the stakes are really high, obviously. It's very important in terms of health care for these workers, but when you look at the -- the budgetary impact, when you look at the money that is actually involved, in the scope of the entire federal budget, in the scope of all of the money that's spent every year, this is now down to about $6 billion.
So, it's small in a way. The price tag is awfully small. Now, so when you leave it to the last minute like this, a small amount of the calculation is, you know, it's a big impact, but it's a small price tag.
GUPTA: So, now you just will be able to get it through given the small price tag.
GUPTA: I think, Dana, are you -- are you on the phone with us, Dana? OK.
DANA LOESCH, EDITOR, BIGJOURNALISM.COM: I am.
GUPTA: Dana, you -- you -- I think you heard most of what we were just talking about there.
I mean, what do you think overall of Senator Coburn's strategy? I mean, there have been changes to this bill, changes to the funding, changes to the price tag. It's not perfect, as most bills aren't, but are those flaws worth killing it for? LOESCH: Well, and I think it's -- it's -- it's perfectly -- I think what Coburn's doing is, he's being legitimate in his hesitancy, believe there is not a single person to whom I have spoken, nor I myself, concerning perspective on this, believe that this -- that the people who committed heroic acts on 9/11 and that were there, our first-responders, no one in their right mind believes that they shouldn't have help with dealing with what was the worst terrorist attack, worst at on our country's soil.
LOESCH: But the thing is, is that, even though it is the -- it's a great cause, the right cause, that doesn't mean -- and I think that the people who are going to be helped from this, they deserve a little bit more than having a piece of slipshod legislation be thrown in.
And one of the biggest concerns that I know Coburn has, as well as a lot of other Republicans, is that this remains unfunded. They have no idea how they're going to fund this. And my -- my bet is -- or my suggestion, rather, is...
LOESCH: ... let's find something to cut immediately, so that, A, we can make sure these people get the help they deserve, and, B, let's make sure that the people who have been injured and are dealing with bad health issues and are dealing with bills, make sure that they can get funded, and that what they're receiving doesn't get looted by people who are committing fraud.
And we saw such a precedent already go down this month with the passing of the second Pigford settlement, because there's a ton of fraud in that. So, I think those concerns are legitimate. And no one's arguing that this shouldn't be done. They're just saying, you know what? Let's make sure that these people get the help that they need...
LOESCH: ... and that it's done the right way.
GUPTA: And -- and -- and, Steve, I mean, obviously, we are talking about health here. So, waiting can be problematic. People are waiting right now. Dana called it slipshod legislation.
It's been through committee. I mean, what -- what -- is it something -- again, the same question -- is enemy -- is the perfect the enemy of the good here in terms of getting something done?
Well, I think, on the issue of Tom Coburn and his motives, I think it's fair to say, I mean, he's -- he's been consistent in this regard. Just about every piece of legislation that comes before the Senate, no matter how big or how small the price tag, he does ask questions like this. GUPTA: Mm-hmm.
KORNACKI: He does, you know, talk about using his power to delay things, so he's being consistent in that regard.
But what I think is the most revealing thing on this is, if you look outside of the Senate, you have Republican voices, you have conservative voices now, like Mike Huckabee, Rudy Giuliani, you know, a host on the FOX News Channel who is now basically devoting a segment to this every night, who have really embraced this, the idea of passing this bill, as a real cause.
This is not a typical sort of left/right, Democrat/Republican divide. You know, a lot of Democrats are upset that Barack Obama really hasn't been front and center on that. And I think one of the reasons is the Democrats were -- in the Senate were able to cut a deal with just about all of the Republicans to bring the price tag down to $6 billion -- it was $7.5 billion -- to change the way it's funded.
KORNACKI: And the Republicans basically said they're OK with it.
GUPTA: And they get a lot of support.
KORNACKI: So, this really is down to -- this really is down to Tom Coburn and maybe a couple sympathizers in the Senate...
KORNACKI: ... vs. the Republicans and the Democrats.
GUPTA: Dana, is Senator Coburn, do you think, getting a lot of calls from his Republican colleagues in the Senate, you know, trying to persuade him?
LOESCH: Well, you know, I think that he probably is at this point, but he's also probably getting calls of support from people saying, look, we understand what your strategy is in this, because there is nothing that is more dangerous I think with passing this legislation than passing something where we have no idea where the money's coming from.
And, again, just there's -- there's several concerns that I think are really valid here. And I understand where Giuliani and I understand where Huckabee are both coming from as well. And I also understand that Democrats were even struggling to get a lot of their own in line behind this piece of legislation.
I think it was just January 28 of this year that the president, he made a remark to the New York delegation saying that he wasn't exactly on board with the funding of this thing. So there was a lot of discussion on the left, as well as a lot of discussion on the right.
But the bottom line is, there's some -- I can think of at least six things that we can cut right now and get this thing moving and get it passed and also make sure that there are safeguards...
LOESCH: ... in place to make sure that people who need help with -- with health, need help with medical bills can get that, without it being looted.
GUPTA: Any possibility of them coming back after Christmas, Steve, do you think?
KORNACKI: Well, the real question right now is, let's say that this passes the Senate tomorrow. Let's Coburn relents and it passes the Senate.
There's a question right now -- forget about after Christmas -- right now -- if there are going to be enough people left on the House side in Washington tomorrow who can vote on it then. The House leader says they're ready to vote on it. They had a vote tonight -- 80 people had already left town. Let's see where we stand 24 hours from now.
GUPTA: ... until Christmas, for sure.
Steve Kornacki, Dana Loesch, thanks so much for joining us.
I want to hear from you as well at home, what you think. Join the live chat now under way at AC360.com.
Up next: the author of a guide for pedophiles speaking out. Did he ever practice what he wrote? You are going to hear his answer and the rest of his very, very explicit news conference.
Also tonight: a grandmother's quest to finally get justice in the death of her granddaughter, after the story that authorities initially told her just didn't add up.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It just didn't make sense that she would fall and, from that short fall, that she would be in such critical condition.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GUPTA: A "Keeping Them Honest" update now on a story we have been following from the beginning.
When a book called a "Pedophile's Guide to Love and Pleasure" surfaced on Amazon, we tried to get Amazon to explain why it was selling it, even though they have a policy against selling pornography or what it calls extremely disturbing materials. Well, tonight the author, Philip Greaves, is now in jail in Polk County, Florida. He was extradited today from Pueblo, Colorado, to face obscenity charges after he allegedly sold a copy of his book to undercover deputies.
Now, before being processed, he spoke to reporters. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
QUESTION: Have you ever practiced what you write?
PHILIP GREAVES, AUTHOR, "THE PEDOPHILE'S GUIDE TO LOVE AND PLEASURE: A CHILD LOVER'S CODE OF CONDUCT": No.
QUESTION: Have you ever practiced your writings?
QUESTION: Do you feel like you broke the law, Mr. Greaves?
GREAVES: I do not feel that way.
QUESTION: Last month, you told a reporter that you think it's OK to kiss, fondle, touch, lick children. That doesn't disturb you on any level?
GREAVES: Not really, if you consider the fact that uncles and aunts and grandmothers and grandparents do all of those things all of the time, except for the fondling part.
QUESTION: Have you ever done that to a child?
GREAVES: No, I don't have any children, and I don't keep children around my house.
QUESTION: Do you consider yourself a pedophile?
GREAVES: No, I most certainly do not. I only have sex with grownups.
QUESTION: Do you think this is entrapment?
GREAVES: I think this is entrapment, absolutely, yes.
QUESTION: Have you ever touched a child inappropriately?
GREAVES: Inappropriately? I don't think so, no. QUESTION: Have you ever touched a child period sexually?
GREAVES: Sexually, no.
QUESTION: What kind of conduct do you think is appropriate between adults and children...
GREAVES: (INAUDIBLE) relationships? Mostly just playing around, hanging out. Whatever the child tolerates is not my business.
QUESTION: When you say tolerates, what do you mean by that?
QUESTION: How do you know if they're welcoming it?
GREAVES: Children usually protest when they don't like something, unless they're afraid to.
QUESTION: Have you ever had a child protest something that you have done to them?
GREAVES: No, never.
QUESTION: So, what experience are you basing these comments on?
GREAVES: Like I said, my youthful -- grow up because -- once I got into adolescence, I suppose you could have identified me as an adolescent pedophile. But since I stopped doing that, I'm also showing that people can reform.
QUESTION: Do you expect you're going to have to remain in jail while this case plays itself out?
GREAVES: Probably, but I hope not.
QUESTION: Do you think you will make bond? Can you make bond?
GREAVES: I cannot make bond. I'm actually quite poor.
QUESTION: You don't believe that raping a child is acceptable, correct?
QUESTION: All right. Yet, in your book, you talk about fantasizing in using children, again in great details. That seems to be...
GREAVES: That's not rape. That's not rape. It's fantasy. There's a difference. And it's essential to the reformation of pedophiles, I think.
QUESTION: Those stories aren't -- those are just made-up stories?
They're semi-true. I have picked up little pieces here and there from the Internet and put them together, then rewrote them to give a -- what I thought was an accurate view of some people.
QUESTION: But not of personal experiences?
GREAVES: Not of personal experiences, no.
QUESTION: Mr. Greaves...
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GUPTA: Philip Greaves today.
His book is no longer available online on Amazon, in part, I will tell you, because 360 was out front on this story, trying to hold Amazon accountable for selling it and others similar material.
Now, and we're going to be following this story as it develops for sure, but, "Keeping Them Honest," it's something our viewers now demand of us on every story. They want to see accountability. They want to see action and results, just like when we learned about a top Michigan law enforcement official who was pursuing a one-man vendetta of sorts against a local student leader, Chris Armstrong, who happened to be gay.
Here's the story from beginning to end of Anderson's encounter with Andrew Shirvell, who was then a state assistant attorney general. Shirvell even went so far as to set up a Web site targeting Armstrong with messages of hate.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, SEPTEMBER 26, 2010)
ANDERSON COOPER,CNN ANCHOR: Andrew, I want to go over some of the stuff that you have on your blog. There's a picture of Chris Armstrong with a Nazi swastika near his face. There's another with the words "racist, elitist liar" scrawled on his face. You accuse him at one point of being Satan's representative on the student assembly.
I have got to ask you, you're a state official. This is a college student. What are you doing?
ANDREW SHIRVELL, MICHIGAN ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL: Well, Anderson, basically, if you have been involved in political campaigns before, you know all sorts of stuff happens, and this is just another tactic bringing awareness to what Chris really stands for.
COOPER: This is not some national figure. This is a guy who's running a student council.
SHIRVELL: Well -- well, Anderson, as a private citizen, and as a University of Michigan alum, I care, because this is my university.
Well, like I said, this is a political campaign. This is nothing personal against Chris. I don't know Chris.
COOPER: What do you mean it's nothing personal? You're outside his house. You're videotaping his house. You're shouting him down at public events. You're calling him Satan's representative on the student council. You're attacking his -- his parents, his friends' parents. I mean, you can't say it's not personal.
SHIRVELL: We're quibbling over tactics. We're not quibbling over substance. The substance of the matter is, Anderson, Chris Armstrong is a radical homosexual activist who got elected partly funded by the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund to promote a very deeply radical agenda at the University of Michigan. And he wants to do that by...
COOPER: His biggest -- his biggest issues were extending the hours at the cafeteria and lowering tuition, as well as some gender housing issues.
SHIRVELL: No, that's not correct. No, that's not correct, Anderson.
His biggest issue is gender-neutral housing. What we're talking about is anybody, any -- any man or woman wanting to choose to live together. That's a radical redefinition of gender norms.
COOPER: It appears, though, that you're obsessed with this young gay man. I mean, I have read all your blog postings. You're -- you're like perusing his Facebook, his friends' Facebook pages. You're -- you're making completely unwarranted accusations, unproven accusations, based on what you're gleaning from his Facebook pages.
Your boss, the attorney general of Michigan, Mike Cox, put out a statement saying that while he recognizes your right to express your opinions, your -- quote -- "immaturity and lack of judgment outside the office are clear."
Do you worry at all that your boss thinks you're immature and -- and lack judgment?
SHIRVELL: Anderson, I agreed to do this interview by stating that I wouldn't make any comments regarding my employment.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, SEPTEMBER 29, 2010)
COOPER: We have received, I mean, a ton of e-mail from people asking us...
MIKE COX, MICHIGAN ATTORNEY GENERAL: Right. COOPER: ... why Andrew Shirvell still has a job as an assistant attorney general in your office. And, you know, free speech is critical, but he appears...
COOPER: ... to be targeting a college student. And I know you have said that -- that this guy's views don't reflect your views or those of your office, but...
COOPER: ... why is he still employed?
COX: Well, for a number of reasons.
Here in America, we have this thing called the First Amendment, which allows people to express what they think and -- and -- and engage in political and social speech.
COOPER: Isn't Mr. Shirvell detracting from your agency's effective operation? I mean, why would any gay person feel confident that he or she would -- would be represented by -- by this man as an attorney, or, frankly, you know, they would start to have perhaps doubt about your office's ability to do that?
COX: Well, I think that's quite a stretch.
First and foremost, Mr. Shirvell, his job is, he helps preserve state criminal convictions when they're challenged in federal court. He does that well from 8:30 to 5:00, very well. Him blogging, it's not impacting the mission of the office.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, OCTOBER 6, 2010)
COOPER: Why are you speaking out now? I mean, you have been silent for a long time on this. And, obviously, you know, you have filed for an order of personal protection. That's still ongoing. Maybe you're contemplating a legal action. I'm not sure. But -- but why speak out now?
CHRIS ARMSTRONG, STUDENT ASSEMBLY PRESIDENT, UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN: I think, as I kind of mentioned, it's really been a personal issue in a lot of ways. You know, I have dealt with it.
Given what's happened in the past week, and given the suicides that have happened in the past, like, few weeks, it's been -- it's been -- I think it's hard not to say something. And...
COOPER: That's really what's motivating you to speak out now, the -- the suicides we have all been witnessing and reporting on?
ARMSTRONG: Mm-hmm. Right.
Yes. And I think -- like, I -- honestly, I didn't really ask to be put in this position in a lot of ways. And I didn't really...
COOPER: In just about all ways, you didn't ask to be put in this position.
But, you know, I felt that, like, seeing these kids, you know, like, feel they need to take their life, it's important to understand that things can get better, and it's important to know that you can reach out in your community. You can reach out to friends, and they can support you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, NOVEMBER 8, 2010)
COOPER: We begin, as always, "Keeping Them Honest" with a stunning development in one of the strangest stories we have ever covered.
Today, this man, Andrew Shirvell, was fired from his job. He was an assistant attorney general of Michigan and was fired after months of leading a one-man crusade online and in person against a college student. Andrew Shirvell was fired for conduct unbecoming a state employee.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GUPTA: Just an unbelievable story. And that was Anderson obviously "Keeping Them Honest."
We're going to keep going here -- up next, the latest on Broadway Spider-Man, tragic story today. An actor took a terrible fall on stage last night.
Also, later, "Crime & Punishment": a very cold case finally solved 10 years after a toddler's tragic death. Now answers are finally found, and justice is finally done.
GUPTA: Just ahead, we have got "Crime & Punishment," how a persistent investigator finally got justice for a toddler years after her death.
First, though, Randi Kaye joins with us a 360 bulletin -- Randi.
RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Sanjay, new information tonight that the South Korean army will hold its largest ever live-fire drill on Thursday in an area near North Korea. The show of force comes in the wake of North Korea's attack on one of South Korea's islands last month.
Word that al Qaeda considered trying to poison America's food supply -- the plan would have targeted salad bars and buffets at hotels and restaurants. Federal officials got word of the threat months ago, but today they downplayed its seriousness. However, they did meet with industry officials to confirm that the food supply is safe.
A brief bomb scare today in Rome -- a package containing wires was found under a seat on a train, but police say the device could not have exploded. No one has claimed responsibility for the incident.
Congress has passed a major new food safety bill. It's a response to the deadly outbreaks of food-borne illnesses for the pats few years and gives the FDA the direct power to recall food suspected of being contaminated.
An actor in the Broadway spectacular "Spider-Man Turn Off the Dark" is hospitalized in serious condition tonight. He fell more than 20 feet off a platform during last night's preview -- there it is right there -- bringing the performance to a halt.
Tonight's performance and tomorrow's matinee have been canceled. "Spider-Man" is Broadway's most expensive musical ever and has been plagued by problems and cast injuries, Sanjay.
GUPTA: Yes, scary. I mean, you see him being carted off there in a neck brace. We hear he's still in serious condition. So certainly, if we hear anything more, we'll bring it to you.
Time now, Randi, stick around for tonight's "Shot," a new chapter in the career of a modern-day renaissance man. We are talking, of course, about Shaquille O'Neal. He's had a spectacular career at the NBA, playing for a variety of teams including the Lakers, the Heat and now the Boston Celtics. But did you know that Shaq is also trained and worked as a reserve police officer in Miami and Los Angeles? He's also a thespian, with some roles in a couple of movies, including "Kazaam," where he played a genie. No shocker if you haven't heard of that one. But now there's this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Maestro Shamrock.
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GUPTA: Maestro Shaquille O'Neal made his debut last night as guest conductor for the Boston Pops during their annual holiday concert at Symphony Hall, dressed in traditional black tie and tails. He said conducting musicians is hard work, Randi, and that afterwards his arms were pretty tired.
KAYE: Yes. Tired. I mean, what, he scores like, what, 30 points a game and he's tired from that? That thing is like a toothpick.
GUPTA: I know. That baton you can barely see it in his hands. Maybe it will help him with his -- with his foul shots. KAYE: He did have some fun, though. He really played to the audience. He seemed like he was having a good time.
GUPTA: Quite the renaissance man.
Randi, just ahead. As you know, a fascinating "Crime & Punishment" report. A former Marine is in prison for the -- long ago for the death of a child because of an intrepid investigator who brought fresh eyes to this case.
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JULIE HANEY, COLD CASE INVESTIGATOR: When I first read this case, I had a -- I had a strong feeling that he was responsible for killing Cassie. The question was exactly what did he do. And to this day we don't know exactly what he did.
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GUPTA: An amazing report there.
Also ahead, how the results of the midterm election shaped this year's coming to an end. We'll look back at the major stories of 2010.
GUPTA: In "Crime & Punishment" tonight, justice for a toddler. I want to show you her picture. This is Cassie Castens. It will be ten years next month since she died. I imagine it's a tough time of year for her family. Cassie's mom left her with someone she trusted. While she was gone, Cassie suffered a severe head injury.
I can tell you as a doctor, but more importantly as a father of three young girls, this story really got to me when I first heard about it. How Cassie got those fatal head injuries remained a mystery for years. But to some in Cassie's family, the facts didn't quite add up. Turns out they were right.
Here's Randi Kaye.
KAYE (voice-over): In the morning of January 18, 2001, the only person at home with Cassie was her mother's boyfriend, former Marine, William Veach. Just before 10 a.m., Veach called 911.
By the time paramedics arrived, Cassie, just 17 months, was unconscious. Doctors described her brain as JELL-O. There was severe hemorrhaging, lots of blood. Doctors immediately suspected shaken baby syndrome.
But when police questioned Veach, seen here in this interrogation video, he denied harming the toddler. Veach told police Cassie was in her highchair eating Cheerios. When he turned his back to answer the phone, he said he heard a thud. WILLIAM VEACH, SUSPECT: There's two thumps. The first one I can only assume was the kitchen table.
KAYE: Veach said Cassie fell out of her highchair, but Cassie's highchair was just 30 inches from the ground. Just 2 1/2 feet.
LINDA CASTENS, CASSIE'S GRANDDAUGHTER: It just didn't make sense that she would fall, and from that short fall, that she would be in such critical condition.
KAYE: Doctors couldn't save her. Fifteen days after she was rushed to the hospital, the little girl with the sparkling blue eyes and blond pigtails was dead.
(on camera) The medical examiner ruled Cassie had died of blunt force head injuries but couldn't say for sure how it happened or if a crime had been committed. So prosecutors in Yuma County, Arizona, chose not to charge Veach because of lack of evidence.
The file on Cassie was officially closed in 2003. Veach was a free man.
(voice-over) Fast forward a few years to February 2006, when Cassie's case landed on the desk of Julie Haney, a cold case investigator for NCIS, the Naval Criminal Investigative Service. Because Veach was a Marine, a case file had been created years earlier.
HANEY: Common sense and 24 years of doing this told me that it didn't add up.
KAYE: Haney started to piece together what happened. For inspiration, she posted this picture at her desk.
HANEY: It just kind of reminds me of what -- why I'm here. What -- you know, who I'm working for.
KAYE: Julie Haney turned the case file inside out, starting with Veach's interrogation video.
HANEY: Watching his video I got the sense that -- that those were crocodile tears. Those were not for Cassie; those were for him.
KAYE: Haney found the biggest problem with the case was the early diagnosis of shaken baby syndrome. From day one she said that threw the case off course. Her own investigation found Cassie hadn't been shaken at all. She'd been slammed.
HANEY: I think William lost control and, in a moment of rage, he -- he killed Cassie. He struck her with some very hard object, or took her and used her as some kind of a weapon and struck her into a very hard object like the corner of my desk here or a wall, something very, very hard. Because it bashed the left -- the right side of her brain in.
KAYE (on camera): Haney had Cassie's X-rays and autopsy slides re-examined at the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology in Washington, D.C., where military pathologists caught something doctors missed all those years ago.
HANEY: The trauma was limited to the right side of her head. If you're shaken, you have trauma to your whole brain. You don't have trauma only on one side. So they had the wrong theory of what happened the whole time.
KAYE: Haney's new evidence convinced the attorney general to prosecute Veach. On January 17, 2008, almost seven years from the day Cassie was injured, Veach was charged with first-degree murder and child abuse. He maintained his innocence, but when the state offered him a deal to plead guilty to a lesser charge, he jumped on it and pleaded guilty to manslaughter.
VEACH: I should have taken care -- I should have taken better care of you that day.
KAYE (voice-over): Veach never shared the details of how Cassie died. In court he left her family and Julie Haney waiting for a confession they would never hear. The judge sentenced him to ten years.
From prison, Veach told us by phone the case was a witch hunt. He insisted he never harmed Cassie.
VEACH: I did not do anything wrong. I did not hurt that little girl. I never put my hands on her. And they never could prove that I did.
KAYE: After Veach was sentenced, Cassie's grandmother went to her grave with a message.
CASTENS: I told Cassie when we got back that we'd finally put him away, and not to be afraid anymore.
KAYE: Cassie would have turned 11 this year. Julie Haney still looks at her picture. She'll never forget the little girl, who after so many years, finally got justice.
GUPTA: Such a cute little girl, Randi. Tough story to hear.
So he got ten years in prison. He pleaded to this lesser charge, thought he could get between three and 12 1/2 years. They gave him almost the maximum amount. Was he surprised by that?
KAYE: He was. He told us by phone from prison he was actually shocked, because he thought pleading to the lesser charge, to manslaughter, he only admitted thoughtlessness, he never actually admitted harming Cassie or killing Cassie, but he thought that he would get maybe closer to the three years, but he got the ten years.
He also told us by phone that he thought this was a witch hunt. He said this was just another notch in the belt for Julie Haney, the investigator. He thought it was all about ego, that she tampered with evidence. She, of course, told us that she didn't.
And one thing that we did ask him was to tell us what happened that day. Again, that morning. And he told us the same story that he's been telling everyone for ten years, that she was in her highchair eating her Cheerios. He went to get the phone, and he heard a thud.
GUPTA: You'd think that sometimes being able to diagnose this level of head injury and what caused it would be easier, but sometimes it can be challenging. Sounds like it was here.
KAYE: It was because initially they thought it was shaken baby, and because this NCIS investigator, Julie Haney, had federal dollars and military experts at her disposal, she was able to have them look at the slides again at the autopsy.
And they realized they put it together that the injury was just on one side. These military pathologists said the injury was just on one side of the brain, which told them, of course, that it wasn't shaken baby. And then she took that to the attorney general again.
GUPTA: Significant blow to the head. Well, at least justice served many, many years later. Randi, thanks so much for that report.
The volcano that no one could pronounce that caused flights worldwide to be grounded and some of the other top stories from 2010. It's part of our "All the Best and All the Worst" series. That's ahead.
And also, Julian Assange has been making news this year, too, but what has he done to end up as the latest addition to our RidicuList? We'll tell you.
GUPTA: In ten days we're going to bid good-bye to 2010, so tonight we want to look at some of the stories that helped define the year. Back in April, a volcano erupted in Iceland, sending tons of ash into the sky, but the winds in Northern Europe pushed that ash down to the rest of the continent, forcing the cancellation of tens of thousands of flights, and also stranding countless passengers.
In mid-March, President Obama signed the health-care bill into law, despite some pretty fierce opposition from Republicans.
In September, Lady Gaga outdid herself at the MTV Music Awards, sporting her meat dress. She won Video of the Year for "Bad Romance."
And no one can forget the impact of the midterm elections this year, especially Congressman John Boehner. He'll become speaker of the House when Republicans take over the chamber in January.
And a royal wedding is in the works. Last month Britain's Prince William announced his engagement to his girlfriend, Kate Middleton.
Those are some of the big stories but not the biggest. Tom Foreman looks back in "All the Best and All the Worst of 2010." It's our 360's year-end special. Here's a glimpse of it.
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The world of big news gave us the best real reality show of the year, the nearly 2 1/2- month saga of the trapped Chilean miners.
SUNNY HOSTIN, TRUTV: I love that story. I mean, who knew that the Chilean miners were so hot?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: America, we need to learn from these guys. These guys are motivators.
JULIE CHEN, HOST, CBS'S "THE TALK": The Chilean miner story was, hands down, the best story of the year.
JULIA REED, "NEWSWEEK": Somebody compared it to the moon launch, and it really was kind of like that.
FOREMAN: Their journey to and from the underworld was riveting. Their story, inspiring. Their return to the land of the living, full of happy endings even Hollywood can't top.
JACK GRAY, CNN PRODUCER: I was utterly shocked that everything worked out. And by the way, they had a live feed via fiber optic cable from down in the mine? What the hell was that?
KATHLEEN PARKER, CO-HOST, CNN'S "PARKER SPITZER": Was that unbelievable? Oh, my gosh. I was stunned. Chile. Go Chile.
CHEN: Then they come out alive and only to be greeted by wives and mistresses.
RICH EISEN, NFL NETWORK: Some of them probably wanted to go back in the ground once their wives got a hold of them. I'm so happy you're alive, but now I've got to meet your groomare (ph) right here? What the heck?
FOREMAN: Best use of his time underground, Edison Pena, who worked out in the cramped quarters beneath the earth, then came out to run the New York City Marathon.
CHEN: This guy, how much training could you have done?
BARATUNDE THURSTON, "THE ONION": As if he hadn't overcome enough human struggles and demonstrated the power of the human spirit enough by surviving all those weeks underground, I thought that was a really, really, really beautiful thing.
FOREMAN: Worst winter weather. The blizzards that had folks in the Washington, D.C., area running for cover faster than a sex scandal. Forty inches of snow, no flights, no open roads, no power for hundreds of thousands. Good times.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The snowstorm was insane.
PETE DOMINICK, COMEDIAN: The newspapers had a really fun time trying to name the blizzard. Snowpocalypse.
PARKER: I've never actually live in a place that had that much snow before. That was a new experience for me, because I'm a southern girl.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Really? I have no -- I have absolutely no memory of any snow this year whatsoever.
FOREMAN: No wonder. He was in Haiti for the worst big story of the year: the earthquake that left nearly a quarter million people dead, a million homeless and countless sorrows.
COOPER: Every reporter I know who was down there and every cameraman, producer who spent time in Iraq and Afghanistan, they all, I think we all agree Haiti was the worst thing any of us have ever seen.
DOMINICK: Haiti, earthquakes, cholera, mudslides, it made the book of Revelations look like "Good Night, Moon."
GRAY: Haiti was on so many challenges before the earthquake hit.
FOREMAN: Worst follow-up: the snails pace of relief that trickled in all year, despite worldwide promises of quick and steady aid.
THURSTON: It's not just a bad news story. A bad policy story on top of a bad news story.
REED: And there's got to be a better way to survive, to provide longer term aid to places like Haiti.
FOREMAN: Worst domestic story, give it to the Gulf. The explosion that took 11 lives and produced the oil spill that just kept on spilling.
DOMINICK: The Gulf oil spill was quite possibly one of the most depressing events, certainly, of my lifetime. Watching this oil on a live feed just gush and gush and gush.
HOSTIN: And nothing was working, and it was gushing and gushing and gushing. It was shocking that we couldn't plug a hole.
THURSTON: The Gulf oil spill was one of those -- one of those reminders that decisions have consequences.
REED: I don't think people who weren't there, not on the ground, really realize how it was like the Keystone Kops bumbling around down there on the coastline.
PARKER: Well, clearly, we should have called Chile in. We just didn't realize it. FOREMAN: Worst math: BP's original estimate that only 1,000 barrels a day were going into the water.
COOPER: Meanwhile, you have independent scientists who look at it for a few hours and say there's 70,000 barrels of oil pouring out of that thing.
EISEN: It was sort of like the Iran hostage situation. We couldn't do anything about it, and it made us feel impotent. It made us feel captive.
ELIOT SPITZER, CO-HOST, "PARKER SPITZER": And, of course, you have this big rich company that's still doing extremely well. CEOs who appear not to kind of get what's going on. The government fails to respond.
FOREMAN: Worst initial response, the official one from BP and the White House, too.
HOSTIN: And to say that we have been involved from day one, I mean, what was the involvement?
SPITZER: It was sort of the perfect "here's what's wrong with everything these days," and it just kind of leaves you exhausted.
EISEN: And finally it's capped, and who's talking about it any more? As if there's no problem? Economically, ecologically, environmentally in that area?
GUPTA: You can see much more of Tom Foreman's "All the Best, All the Worst of 2010." It's part of CNN's New Year's -- New Year's Eve coverage. Anderson and Kathy Griffin, incidentally, are together yet again this year for New Year's Eve live, counting it down to 2011.
Also, the winter weather is hitting many parts of the country pretty hard. You're looking at pictures now from Nevada. There's a state of emergency in Clark County. We're going to have some details on that ahead.
And also WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has caused a stir with making private information public, but it's what he doesn't want the public to know that's going to put him on our RidicuList.
GUPTA: Still ahead, the irony of it all. Why WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has landed on the RidicuList. But first Randi Kaye is back with "360 News & Business Bulletin" -- Randi.
KAYE: Sanjay, the 2010 census shows a population in this country of nearly 309 million people. The Census Bureau reports that the south and the west saw double-digit growth in population. The fastest growing state in the nation is Nevada. And speaking of Nevada, Clark County in the southern part of that state is under an emergency declaration tonight due to severe flooding. The National Weather Service says that the winter storms battering parts of the southwest will stick around for the next few days.
A modest day on Wall Street. The Dow rose 55 points, but today's gains have now pushed the Dow and the S&P to their highest levels in more than two years. The NASDAQ is at its highest point in three years.
And a lunar eclipse was visible across North America overnight, in case you happened to catch it, provided the skies were clear. It lasted about 3 1/2 hours. During a lunar eclipse, the earth lines up, which means the sun and the moon blocking the sun's rays and casting its shadow on the moon. Our staffers, Chuck and Sam, got these great shots for us.
KAYE: Aren't those amazing?
GUPTA: Really amazing. Thank you for getting those.
Do you know this isn't going to occur again until 2094 on this particular day, a winter solstice?
KAYE: That makes me think I should have stayed up to watch it.
GUPTA: Right. I'm not sure we'll be around for that one.
KAYE: I don't know about that. You're the doctor, you tell me.
GUPTA: I'm going to try as hard as I can. You'll be right there with me.
All right, Randi. Time now to add another name to the RidicuList. Tonight's addition, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. He's, of course, the guy who reset the bar for leaking classified information. Forget Deep Throat. This guy is more like the Grand Canyon. WikiLeaks gushes secrets. Remember the rogue wave in the movie "The Perfect Storm?" Now, that's Assange's style.
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GUPTA: WikiLeaks has set off perfect storms across the globe by releasing tidal waves of secrets. But that's not why Julian Assange is on the RidicuList. He's on it because, while he can clearly dish it out, he apparently can't take it. He's furious at the British newspaper "The Guardian" for publishing what he claims was leaked information about him. That's right. The founder of the Web site whose sole mission is to publish leaks is furious about an alleged leak. Assange claims "The Guardian" revealed confidential information about rape accusations against him in Sweden.
Now, we already know that this is a touchy subject for Assange. When CNN's Atika Shubert asked him about those allegations in a recent interview, he walked out. The interview was over.
OK, fine. Look. We get it. You don't want to talk about the possible criminal charges against you. Maybe your lawyers said not to, makes sense. But crying foul over an alleged leak when you are in the business of leaking other people's secrets? Seems like you're asking for some grief.
Kind of like when the Detroit auto executives testified before Congress when they were begging for those bailouts. They were crying poverty publicly, but then it came out that they'd flown in on their private jets. That didn't square so well in the court of public opinion.
And Mr. Assange, neither does your selective endorsement of leaks. It's pretty basic. If you're going to be a champion of leaks, the rogue wave of transparency, you should prepare to get some water thrown on you every once in a while. And it might feel a lot like being in the perfect storm.
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GUPTA: Or to put it another way, remember Farkus, the neighborhood bully in "A Christmas Story"? He was great at tormenting his victims.
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ZACK WARD, ACTOR: What, are you going to cry now? Come on. Cry baby, cry for me. Come on, cry.
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GUPTA: But remember what happens when the tables are turned and Ralphie finds his mojo.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey! Hey! Ah! Get him! (END VIDEO CLIP)
GUPTA: Yes. That's Farkus the bully you hear bawling there. And to us he sounds a lot like Julian Assange, whose tears landed him a place on our RidicuList.
A lot more ahead at the top of the hour, starting with the senator and the M.D. they call Dr. No, who's vowing to single-handedly block a bill to help 9/11 first responders pay medical expenses. We're "Keeping Them Honest."