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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Autism-Vaccine Myth; Investigating the Biggie Smalls Murder
Aired January 6, 2011 - 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: Hey. Welcome to 360. Thanks for joining us.
Tonight, the war heats up over child vaccines and autism. First, a discredited doctor had his research declared a fraud. Then, last night on this program, he claims he's the victim of a smear campaign over his autism research.
Now you're going to hear from the investigative reporter he says is smearing him, the man he calls a hit man sent in to destroy him, Brian Deer answering the allegations point by point, "Keeping Them Honest."
We're also "Keeping Them Honest" at the Pentagon, where, for years, they have had a list of some 5,200 alleged child pornography customers who might work for the Department of Defense. So, why, according to a U.S. senator, did they only check 3,500 or so names and prosecute only a handful of them before shutting down the investigation?
And later: the murder of Biggie Smalls, a very public killing, a very cold case, but now new word of new leads. The case could be heating up. Tonight, we will look at the investigation with our special guest, John Walsh of "America's Most Wanted."
We begin, though, as always, "Keeping Them Honest."
Tonight, the emotional and bitter debate over childhood vaccines and autism is louder than ever, if that's even possible. Tonight, supporters of Andrew Wakefield, a discredited doctor who's now accused of outright fraud by "The British Medical Journal," "BMJ," are standing by their man. To them, he remains a hero and a victim.
Wakefield is the lead author of the 1998 study that triggered a worldwide scare over childhood vaccines. It suggested vaccines given to kids may cause autism. His study, which looked at just 12 children, has been discredited. And last year, "The Lancet," the journal that originally published it back in 1998, they retracted the study over concerns about its methods and ethics, as well as financial conflicts of the interests -- on interests on the part of Wakefield.
Months later, Wakefield actually lost his license. It was taken away, his medical license, in the U.K. And now an award-winning investigative journalist, Brian Deer, has uncovered evidence he says proves Wakefield deliberately faked his study. Deer lays out his case in a series of articles that began running last in the "BMJ" last night. In a moment, you are going to hear directly from Mr. Deer. He will respond to attacks that Andrew Wakefield made last night in an exclusive right here on 360.
Things got pretty heated. He denied point-blank every accusation laid out by Mr. Deer. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANDREW WAKEFIELD, AUTHORED RETRACTED AUTISM STUDY: He is a hit man. He's been brought in to take me down.
COOPER: Wait a minute, sir. Let me just stop you right there.
COOPER: You say he's a hit man and he's been brought in by "they." Who is "they"? Who is he a hit man for?
WAKEFIELD: Who brought this man in? Who is paying this man? I don't know.
COOPER: You're basically saying this is a -- some sort of conspiracy against you. Is that -- is that your argument?
WAKEFIELD: Conspiracy is your word.
What this is, is a ruthless, pragmatic attempt to crush any investigation...
WAKEFIELD: Because the truth is in that book.
COOPER: However, I have read Brian Deer's report, which is incredibly extensive. Sir, I'm not here to let you pitch your book. I'm here to have you answer questions.
WAKEFIELD: If you read the record that I have set out in the book, you will see the truth. You will see a detailed...
COOPER: But, sir, if you're lying, then your book is also a lie. If your study is a lie, your book is a lie.
WAKEFIELD: The book is not a lie.
I suggest you do your investigation properly before making such allegations.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, we believe in facts here at 360, so, today, we followed up on some of the claims that Mr. Wakefield made last night. If we got something wrong, we would want to set the record straight, obviously.
One point Wakefield was adamant about was that other researchers have reproduced his study's findings.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: You have been offered the chance to replicate your study, and you have never taken -- taken anybody up on that. You have had plenty of opportunity to replicate your study.
WAKEFIELD: You just accused me of giving you a falsehood. I'm telling you that this work has been replicated in five countries around the world.
COOPER: Then why has it been completely discredited by -- by -- by public health officials around the world?
WAKEFIELD: I suggest you do your investigation properly before making such allegations.
OK, if you look up the name Gonzalez, if you look up the name Balzola and Krigsman, you will see that the work has been replicated independently by other doctors around the world. They fail to mention that in these allegations. And Deer has failed to mention that at any time. Is that honest?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, today, we tracked down three of those studies and spoke to experts about all five that Wakefield kept citing.
And what we found is, they're basically beside the point. They looked at gastrointestinal problems in children with autism, and nothing else. Like Wakefield, they found an association between gastrointestinal problems and autism, but they say nothing at all about a connection between autism and vaccines. So his suggestion of any such link remains his alone.
Now, a lot of parents have stopped vaccinating their kids because of Mr. Wakefield's study. There have been deadly outbreaks of infectious diseases like measles and whooping cough as a result.
I asked Wakefield about that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Sir, what's also growing in number is the number of children who have died because they haven't been vaccinated. Do you feel any sense of responsibility for that?
WAKEFIELD: I have never said not vaccinate. I have offered, I have suggested that children have the option of single vaccines.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Now, what he means by that is giving kids separate vaccines for measles, mumps and rubella, rather than a three-in-one combination vaccine.
Parents in the U.S. can choose which type their kids get. We checked out the rest of his claim. And it's true. We found no instance of him saying do not vaccinate, period.
In 2003, Wakefield told "The Sunday Herald" newspaper: "I think parents are well-informed. They are not inherently anti-vaccine, nor are we. We have advocated throughout that children continued to be protected, but, in the light of this evidence, there's a question mark. And while that question mark exist, parents must have the choice over how they protect their children."
That's what he said. But, at the same time, Wakefield is the undisputed champion of the anti-vaccination movement. And the people in this movement commonly cite his research as the reason for not vaccinating their kids.
Wakefield has never stood up to put a stop to this movement. In fact, the forward of his book, the book he kept trying to promote last night, is written by Jenny McCarthy, a vocal autism activist who believes her son's autism was caused by vaccines.
She writes: "Unfortunately, it appears that a product intended for good, vaccines, also has a dark side, which is the ability to do harm in certain children. This ability to do harm has unfortunately increased quite a bit in the last few decades because children today receive so many more shots than when -- than when most parents were kids."
McCarthy also writes that Andrew Wakefield -- quote -- "listened to parents who reported two things: Their children with autism were suffering from severe bowel pain, and the children regressed into autism after vaccination. He listened. He studied. And they published what he learned."
So, even if Wakefield hasn't said do not vaccinate in so many words, he has certainly fueled the fear and distrust of vaccines. Wakefield's publisher released a statement today on his behalf, and its headline reads -- quote -- "Vaccines Continue to Ruin Some Children's Lives While Mainstream Medical Community and Big Drug Companies Refuse to Respond to the Series Medical Concerns of Worried Parents."
The release goes on to say: "Yesterday, 'The British Medical Journal' published an article deeming the research printed over a decade ago by Dr. Andrew Wakefield suggesting a connection between autism and vaccines fraudulent. Wakefield stands strong in asserting that the allegations of 'BMJ' journalist Brian Deer are entirely false."
So, the release itself describes Wakefield's research as -- quote -- "suggesting a connection between autism and vaccines."
And that's exactly why his study, which the "BMJ" now says is flat-out fraudulent, has become such a powerful piece of the autism- vaccine controversy.
Want to show you something else. This is from the study itself, the one that's been debunked. It's a table listing autism diagnoses in one column and then the vaccines the kids in the study received. The table also shows when the kids got the vaccines.
To an average parent, with no scientific background, that would look pretty scary, if it were true. You can see how many parents desperate for an answer might latch on to that data.
But, after seven years of investigating, Brian Deer says he's proved the data was faked. Here's what told me about when we talked earlier.
COOPER: Brian, overall, Wakefield is denying all of -- all of the -- the evidence that you have put forward in -- in this -- in this "British Medical Journal" report. What do you make of his -- his -- his defense?
BRIAN DEER, INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALIST, "THE SUNDAY TIMES OF LONDON": Well, two things.
One, what else can he do, where else can he go but to deny it, and to make up even more tall stories about me, suggesting that somehow I'm in cahoots with the drug industry or governments or whoever else. He's been at that one for years.
Secondly, these revelations are not just my revelations. They have been checked, exhaustively, by editors of "The British Medical Journal," who have peer-reviewed it, who have gone back into the data individually and checked back and forth to have been sure that what I have said is accurate. So, it's not just me.
So, I think it's just the -- the last gasps of a desperate man, really.
COOPER: I want to go over some specific things, because I think it's important to be very specific with these allegations and with his response.
I asked Andrew Wakefield last night to respond to your report and the -- the "British Medical Journal" report, which calls his study -- quote -- "an elaborate fraud."
Here's what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) WAKEFIELD: I have read his multiple allegations on many occasions.
He is a hit man. He's been brought in to take me down because they are very, very concerned about the adverse reactions to vaccines that are occurring in children.
COOPER: Wait a minute, sir. Let me just stop you right there.
COOPER: You say he's a hit man and he's been brought in by "they." Who is "they"? Who is he a hit man for?
COOPER: This is an independent journalist who's won many awards.
WAKEFIELD: Yes, he's...
WAKEFIELD: And he's -- you know, who brought this man in? Who is paying this man? I don't know. But I do know for sure that he's not a journalist like you are.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Wakefield went on to claim later in the interview that you're being paid by the Association of British Pharmaceutical Industries.
DEER: No, I'm not. I have been paid by "The Sunday Times of London."
COOPER: Have you ever been paid by -- by -- by them?
DEER: Never, never once. I can't even remember the last time I ever spoke to them.
I think I did have a -- I did have an interview with some people who did some work for them several years ago. That's about the closest I have ever got to the pharmaceutical industry.
In fact, one of the awards I received, the citation was that I was probably the only journalist in Britain who investigates the drug industry. So, I don't think that one goes very far.
COOPER: What initially sparked your interest in investigating Wakefield?
DEER: Well, it was just an absolute routine assignment.
There was a television program that had been paid for by American interest to be broadcast in the U.K., and I was just assigned to do a -- do a piece on it. And it started out like that.
And we asked Dr. Wakefield for an interview. And, almost immediately, within a matter of hours, complaints were being made against me to my editors by Dr. Wakefield's personal publicist.
COOPER: When was that that you started doing these investigations?
DEER: Oh, this was in October, November 2003...
COOPER: OK, because...
DEER: ... a long time ago now.
COOPER: ... as you know, James Murdoch, the owner of -- of your employer, "The London Times," joined the board of GlaxoSmithKline, which is a manufacturer of MMR. He joined that board in 2009.
COOPER: Some people have brought that up as a -- as a conflict of interest.
DEER: No, it's absurd, absolutely absurd.
In fact, it's interesting that, in the last 24 hours, the only American network to have shown no interest whatsoever in the "BMJ"'s revelations has been the FOX network...
COOPER: I asked Wake...
DEER: The only -- they're the only people.
COOPER: I asked Wakefield to respond to your reporting that -- that -- that states that medical records of all of the 12 cases that he initially cited in his "Lancet" paper back in 1998, that -- that none of them were accurate, fully accurate.
I want to you listen to what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WAKEFIELD: That is false. He has not interviewed the parents. That is absolutely not true.
COOPER: So, you're saying the parents -- no parents say that what -- that what you have said about their children's medical histories is false?
WAKEFIELD: No, they don't. What I have said and what has been reported in that paper by me and my colleagues is exactly what we saw.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Did you speak to any of the parents from the 12 cases?
DEER: I personally interviewed one, two, three families of the 12. Somebody else -- two others were interviewed on my behalf by other journalists. So, that's five of the 12.
Oh, no, actually, I interview -- and I have had conversations with another, so quite a substantial number...
COOPER: So, you're basically saying he falsified or -- or got wrong all of the medical history, one way or another?
DEER: I -- I -- I showed the "Lancet" paper that Wakefield published to a father of a child in California who is child number 11 of this series of 12, and he looked at the paper, and he just looked at what it said about his own child, and he said, "That's not true." And that was one of the parents of one of these children in the paper.
But I think Dr. Wakefield has a -- has a solution here. These revelations have been published in the U.K. jurisdiction, which is the most onerous libel jurisdiction in the world. Dr. Wakefield should sue, because, if what Dr. Wakefield is saying is true, then he would have an easy case for libel against "The British Medical Journal," against "The Sunday Times of London," against me personally.
If what he is saying is true, then he must be the victim of the most sustained campaign of malicious libel that has ever been inflicted on any individual in history.
COOPER: And that's what he's saying he is.
DEER: Well, you know, he has a remedy, doesn't he?
But the reason he doesn't take this remedy -- in fact, he tried to take this remedy once before, when the doctors' Medical Protection Society was funding him to sue me, sue the television company, sue "The Sunday Times." And what happened at the end? He discontinued his action, and he sent me a check. I actually received a check from his lawyers to pay my legal costs.
Dr. Wakefield has a remedy. The trouble is, he can't take that remedy, because he's a fraudster. And, after all these years, he's finally been nailed. We have been able to, over the years, produce the evidence that he was being paid by lawyers. We were able to show that he received three-quarters-of-a-million U.S. dollars.
Next week, we're going to itemize in "The BMJ" his business interests and the extraordinary sums of money he intended to make from his own vaccine, from diagnostic kits, and from all kinds of other weird products he was going to sell off the back of his scare.
Dr. Wakefield did this for the money. And, finally, he's been nailed as a cheat and a fraudster, and not just in a sort of academic vanity sense, but in an area of where children's lives have been put at risk, and, even more importantly, in a funny way, where parents of children with autism have been left to blame themselves, thinking it was their own fault for vaccinating their child that their child has gone on to develop autism.
These are forgotten victims of Dr. Wakefield, and these are people ultimately that Dr. Wakefield preys upon.
COOPER: You know, it's interesting, because I have gotten a lot of e-mails from parents who don't -- who still believe in Wakefield or believe the research, and are angry at -- at, you know, our reporting on this, angry, certainly, at your reporting on this. I'm sure you have heard from them many times over the years.
DEER: Oh, yes.
COOPER: And it is heartbreaking, because there is no answer for what is causing autism. And, clearly, there have been problems with vaccines in the past.
What do you -- what do you tell parents? What do you say to them?
DEER: Well, I say to -- I say to parents when I talk to them -- and, you know, you discuss these things with them, and I will tell you, the killer question to ask these parents, if you get an even conversation with them, is to say, do you blame yourself?
And they do. And I have had parents absolutely break down in tears, blaming themselves, thinking it was their fault for vaccinating their child.
Now, what Dr. Wakefield is able to do is to take that energy of guilt and self-blame, which is quite understandable, but is quite wrong, take that, exploit it, turn it into money, turn it into a business. And that's what he's done. And he's having a wonderful time in Jamaica. I saw you interviewed him in Jamaica. Very nice.
COOPER: Wakefield claims that -- that his findings have been independently replicated. Is that true?
DEER: That's completely false.
COOPER: I mean, he said they have been replicated in five countries around the world. That was news to me.
DEER: Completely false. That's absolutely, completely false. What he does is what he's been doing in front of these parents over many years. He takes tangential pieces of research that don't really relate to what he's saying and represent them as somehow endorsing what he said.
One of the papers in fact which he cites absolutely, explicitly denies that anything like what he suggests has been found.
COOPER: He -- he also...
DEER: He just makes it up.
COOPER: He also claims that -- that he wasn't making a connection between vaccines and -- and -- and autism, that -- that it was parents who -- who started making that, that the purpose of the study wasn't to look at possible associations between MMR vaccinations and autism, but that association came from parents.
DEER: No, he just makes it up.
Those parents were selected by him and the lawyer and the campaign groups -- actually, a campaign group organized by a mother who doesn't have a child with autism, does have a grievously disabled child who I saw in a CNN bulletin just 10 minutes ago.
These people together selected a group of parents who blamed MMR and brought them to the hospital for them to make that allegation. That's one of the key ways in which this research was rigged. He knew who these parents were. He would telephone them at their homes, invite them to the hospital, bring them in and get them to make the allegations to other doctors.
COOPER: What has angered you most or surprised you most in the years now since 2003 that you have been looking into and investigating this?
DEER: What has angered or surprised me most?
I think what has angered me most is the -- is the distraction away from the real needs of children with developmental disorders and the real needs of families who are looking after them, because, very often, the families of children, particularly the ones that Wakefield preys on, are people who are just desperate for answers.
Some of them are financially quite challenged as well. Many of them are -- are -- are terrified about what's going to happen to their children in the future. And it's really shocked me that somebody would really prey upon the vulnerable.
It's almost as though, if you're vulnerable, you get picked on. It's almost as -- it's almost an animal thing that -- that people prey on these -- these really unfortunate families who have got a -- who have got issues.
And I -- I just think it's a shame that the energy that has gone into this anti-vaccine campaign hasn't gone into a campaign for better services for people with disabilities, more research to get to the bottom of these kind of problems. I think it's a great tragedy, great diversion of resources.
COOPER: Brian Deer, I appreciate your reporting and I appreciate you talking about it. Thank you.
DEER: Thank you.
COOPER: He said a great diversion of resources for a mysterious and terrifying threat and one that is growing.
I want to show you the numbers that explain the fear. According to the Centers for Disease Control, on average, an estimated one in 110 kids in the United States have an autism spectrum disorder. That's just under 1 percent, according to the most recent data from 2006.
The number of cases has been growing since 2002. There's no doubt about it. Now, the rate varies among states, and it's important to point out that autism spectrum disorder includes a -- a range of developmental disabilities,with the most severe being autism.
There have also been changes in how diagnoses are made. And that may explain some of the increase, but not all of it, according to experts. Something else you should know, boys are four to five times more likely than girls to develop an autism spectrum disorder.
And while there's no known cause yet, clues are emerging. It's estimated that about 10 percent of kids with autism spectrum disorders have a genetic and neurologic or metabolic disorder, such as fragile X or Down syndrome.
Autism spectrum disorder is obviously an incredibly heartbreaking diagnosis for parents. It's also extremely costly for both the families and the health care system. According to a recent study, the estimated lifetime cost to care for someone with an autism spectrum disorder is $3.2 million.
Let us know what you think. Join the live chat right now at AC360.com.
We will continue to follow the controversy.
Up next: the child pornography downloaders who might still be working for the U.S. government, even for the U.S. military. Four years after a sting operation turned up 5,200 potential military suspects, 1,700 got no investigation, according to a U.S. senator. The question is what happened back then and what's being done now to fix it. We're "Keeping Them Honest."
And later, a big scare for anyone who remembers the anthrax letters of the Unabomber: suspicious packages, one addressed to Maryland's governor, smoking and burning, bomb squads mobilized, buildings locked down today. We have the latest. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
COOPER: "Keeping Them Honest" tonight: potentially hundreds of military employees and contractors who may have bought child pornography online, but haven't been prosecuted or even in some cases investigated.
That's right. You heard me, child pornography -- as many as 1,700 names, according to a U.S. senator, on a list of 5,200 from an Internet sting operation overlooked the first time around four years ago. Only now are they supposedly getting a second look, and only after pressure from investigative reporters and the U.S. senator you're about to hear from, Republican Charles Grassley.
The Pentagon porn story began in 2006. An Immigration and Customs Enforcement child pornography sting operation called Project Flicker produced payment records of about 5,200 people, many of whom provided Army or fleet zip codes or military e-mail addresses.
Subsequently, the Pentagon's investigative branch, DCIS, began going through the ICE list to identify who actually was a DOD employee or a contractor. The investigation, however, only ran for eight months, and only cross-checked some 3,500 names for Pentagon ties, according to a senator.
According to DCIS documents revealed in a Freedom of Information Act request, out of that 3,500, investigators uncovered 264 employees or contractors, including staffers for the secretary of defense and contractors at the NSA. Nine people had top security clearances.
But only about 20 percent of those 264 people were completely investigated. Fewer still were prosecuted, and about eight months -- after about eight months, the entire probe was halted. It left about 1,700 names totally unchecked, 1,700 alleged kiddie porn customers, an unknown number of whom may still work in some capacity for the Defense Department.
Late last summer, after investigations by "The Boston Globe" and Yahoo! News revealed the figures, a Pentagon spokesman promised to reopen the investigation, conceding that DCIS had stopped due to lack of resources. DCIS says it is now revisiting all 5,200 names, telling Senator's Grassley staff they have now identified 302 employees or staffers.
The Pentagon's I.G. telling us -- and I quote -- "Any suggestion that the DOD Office of Inspector General or its criminal investigative arm, the DCIS, is not taking Operation Flicker and the issue of child pornography seriously is in error."
But Senator Grassley says he is still not getting the cooperation he needs from the Pentagon.
I spoke to him earlier.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) COOPER: Senator Grassley, you were told that 5,200 Defense Department employees had allegedly purchased child porn. And yet you're saying only 3,500 of those names were cross-checked by a Defense investigator to see if they were really DOD personnel. That's mind-boggling. Why weren't all of them cross-checked?
SEN. CHARLES GRASSLEY (R), IOWA: Well, we don't have an answer to that question, but it's quite obvious that the other 1,700 should have been cross-checked. And that's one of the answers to my questions that I want answered.
And the implication of our question is, they ought to be cross- checked. We ought to find out, because we're talking about not just general pornography here. We're talking about child pornography. And child pornography, taking that down, is a crime. And, also, it's -- there's an added factor here, considering the fact that there's a lot of security information, national security information that the world shouldn't know, that a lot of times foreign operatives will use this sort of criminal activity to blackmail, to get information.
So, there's a lot of things that are involved because it's a Defense Department issue, as opposed to any other department of government.
COOPER: Right. Sir, I mean, if your numbers are correct, 1,700 people out there who allegedly purchased child porn, we don't know if they were ever cross-checked or investigated, right?
GRASSLEY: That's true.
And there's been some other names, in the hundreds, where there's -- the names have actually been given out that we don't know what's going to be done about them. Now, there's some reason to believe that the -- it's a criminal act.
The -- it's been so far since this happened, that they could be stale. Maybe you can't have criminal prosecution. But we would be looking at administrative action to be taken against these people, and I want to know who they are and what administrative action is being taken.
COOPER: Yes, because, I mean, what's even more startling is that, of the 302 people confirmed as DOD personnel or contractors, only 70 of them were actually investigated. I mean, how is it possible that -- that all of them weren't investigated?
Well, here's, I think, the thing that overrides everything you just asked, and that is, we asked criminal investigators in the division of defense that does that the extent to which supervisors of these people knew that this was going, and the -- and the criminal investigators couldn't even answer that question for us when we had a briefing from them.
COOPER: So, wait a minute. So, you're saying we don't even know if the supervisors of these people were told that their -- their, you know, employees may have downloaded child porn?
GRASSLEY: That's the question that my staff asked of the criminal investigators, and they could not answer the question whether or not supervisors had been informed of this.
And if the supervisors don't know about it, you know, it's a bad environment, that things like this can happen in the first place, and, worse, that it's a criminal act when things are downloaded.
COOPER: Until you started raising this issue, I mean, this investigation was closed by the Defense Department. They had only investigated it for about eight months. Do you think the Pentagon just didn't take this seriously?
GRASSLEY: Well, it's quite obvious that they didn't take it seriously, because it wasn't only that I was asking the questions. It wasn't until it started getting questions from people like you who are journalists that -- that this got their attention and we got any consideration and reopening of this in the -- in the first place.
COOPER: One of your staffers told us that getting information from the Defense Department on this has been like pulling teeth. Is that how you would describe it?
GRASSLEY: Oh, I have been involved in oversight of the Defense Department for almost all the years I have been in the United States Senate. And it's very difficult to get answers from a lot of bureaucracies, but it's quite more difficult in the Defense Department.
COOPER: Senator Grassley, I appreciate your time. We will continue to follow this. Thank you.
GRASSLEY: OK. Thank you very much.
COOPER: Well, up next tonight: the security scare that kept a lot of emergency workers busy today, everyone on edge. Two incendiary packages sent to government offices -- tonight, the details and the aftershocks.
And later: the cold case murders of Biggie Small and -- Biggie Smalls and Tupac Shakur, new developments, actually, in one of those cases. We will tell you which one.
Our special series "Notorious Cold Cases" is just ahead, with special guest John Walsh of "America's Most Wanted."
COOPER: Time now for our special series, 360's most notorious cases. Tonight, the murder of two pop icons: Tupac Shakur and Biggie Smalls. Nearly 15 years later, though, still no answers. But there may be a new break in one of the cases. We'll tell you what that's about. First, Joe Johns has a "360 Bulletin" -- Joe.
JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, incendiary devices were mailed to two government buildings in Maryland in packages that looked like books. Two state employees' fingers got burned when they opened the packages, one addressed to the governor and one to the Maryland Department of Transportation.
The buildings were evacuated after the packages set off a flash of fire and smoke when opened. The devices will be sent to an FBI lab.
A woman was arrested at the Detroit Metropolitan Airport, allegedly having swallowed balloons filled with 91 pellets of heroin, about 2 1/2 pounds of the drug. A customs agent flagged the Nigerian citizen, and she admitted she was carrying drugs.
As New York City braces for more snow, Mayor Mike Bloomberg has announced that some plows will be fitted with GPS systems to better track their location and progress. He said the systems will go on some plows in Brooklyn and Queens where heavy snow just a few weeks ago left many people snowbound.
And a new study suggests when women cry, men get turned off. The study is in today's issue of "Science" magazine. It found that the smell of a woman's tears can dramatically reduce men's testosterone levels.
I thought guys just didn't know what to do.
COOPER: Joe, thanks.
Time for "The Shot" tonight. We wanted to bring you a cute dog and a cute cat, out of fairness to cat and dog lovers, of course, but our team of attorneys said no to the cat. I have no idea why. It's complicated, I'm told, so instead just the cute dog. We find on the Web site I Am Bored, so just in time for the next big snow storm, I give you the dog sled.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK, you let the dog go. The dog.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: I love that the guy loves him some alpine sledding. You should see him do the biathlon, I'm told.
Back to the serious stuff ahead, our series on the most notorious cold cases. Tonight, the killing of Biggie Smalls. There haven't been a lot of answers about the murder of the gangsta rap icon, but some new leads in the case, we're told. We'll explain that ahead.
And did you see the reading of the Constitution at the House of Representatives today? Something that one person did in that room landed them on our "RidicuList" tonight. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
COOPER: Time now for our continuing series looking into the most notorious cold cases in history. Tonight, one that's literally notorious, the murder of Notorious BIG, also known as Biggie Smalls, and the also unsolved murder of Tupac Shakur, two icons of rap.
More than a decade after their very public deaths, the cases are still cold, but there could be a break in one of them, we're told. A law-enforcement source telling CNN that Biggie's case has been, quote, "reinvigorated" because of new information. The source would not get any more specific than that.
But there's word that a task force is actively pursuing leads in what is now a 13-year-old unsolved case. Biggie Smalls' death and Tupac Shakur's death have been the subject of all kinds of speculation but not a lot of clear answers. Ted Rowlands tonight investigates.
TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Las Vegas, September 7, 1996. Mike Tyson is fighting Bruce Sheldon at the MGM Grand Hotel. Multi-platinum rap artist Tupac Shakur is there to watch Tyson, his friend.
After the fight, Shakur rode with his boss, Suge Knight, CEO of Death Row Records, to a party just off the Las Vegas strip. Their security team went in separate cars.
Knight was behind the wheel, Shakur in the front passenger seat when witnesses say a white Cadillac pulled up next to them at the intersection of Flamingo and Koval. Witnesses then say a gunman in the Cadillac extended his arm out of the backseat window and fired a semi-automatic pistol at Shakur from close range.
(on camera) After the shooting the white Cadillac made a right- hand turn here on Koval, speeding away. Suge Knight, with Tupac bleeding in the front seat, made a u-turn on Flamingo and started driving back towards the Strip.
Two police officers who were on duty heard the gun shots, but when they responded, they followed Suge Knight and Tupac, which allowed the white Cadillac to get away.
(voice-over) There were several possible motives for the murder. Three hours before the shooting, this MGM Casino surveillance video shows Shakur, Suge Knight and their entourage attacking Orlando Anderson, L.A. area gang member. Many believe that Anderson, seen here after the beating, and his friends shot Shakur in retaliation.
CNN asked Anderson about the accusation.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Were you involved in any way in the death of Tupac Shakur?
ORLANDO ANDERSON, L.A. AREA GANG MEMBER: No, I was not involved. ROWLANDS: Anderson was shot and killed months later in a gang- related shooting.
Another theory focused on the gangster world that Tupac sang about. Many believe the murder was part of an East Coast/West Coast rap war and the dispute between Shakur and this man, a one-time friend named Christopher Wallace.
Made famous with his hits like "Big Papa," Wallace, a New York rapper, was known as Biggie Smalls, or Notorious BIG.
There had been an ongoing public feud between Biggie's record label, Bad Boy Entertainment, run by Sean "Puffy" Combs, and L.A.'s Death Row Records, run by Suge Knight, which represented Tupac.
Six months after Tupac's shooting, Biggie Smalls came to California to promote an upcoming album. During an interview with San Francisco radio station KYLD, Smalls denied any involvement in Tupac's death and seemed to want to put any rap war to rest.
CHRISTOPHER "BIGGIE SMALLS" WALLACE, RAP ARTIST: I'm just getting over, you know what I'm saying, this whole situation with this East Coast/West Coast thing, you know. And they're going through their things, we're going through our things. It's just game over, you know what I'm saying? I'm trying to, like, basically squash it.
ROWLANDS: Four days later, on March 9, 1997, Biggie Smalls was shot and killed in Los Angeles. Smalls was leaving a music industry party. He was shot at a busy intersection while riding in the passenger seat of this Suburban.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They heard the shot and everyone started running.
ROWLANDS: The shooting was eerily similar to Tupac's six months earlier.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Given the fact that they were both gangster rap artists, naturally our people will be contacting the Las Vegas authorities to see if there's any connection in the two.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Where this blue vehicle is where Biggie's Suburban was. He was stopped just like this vehicle right here.
ROWLANDS: Former LAPD Detective Russell Poole was one of those assigned to the Biggie Smalls case.
Witnesses say the gunman looked like this. He was alone, drove up next to Smalls and shot him at close range. Poole is convinced that Suge Knight ordered Biggie Smalls' murder, even though Knight was behind bars at the time. He also believes that off-duty LAPD officers who were working for Knight's Death Row Records helped plan the murder.
RUSSELL POOLE, RETIRED LAPD DETECTIVE: Suge Knight ordered the hit. Reggie Wright Jr., the head of security for Rightway Security and Death Row, organized the personnel to plan the hit. And I believe police officers were a big part of the hit.
ROWLANDS: Poole says he believes Suge Knight also had Tupac Shakur killed because the rapper was planning to leave Knight's Death Row Records.
Poole says he retired early from the LAPD out of frustration because of this case, saying the department didn't allow him to pursue leads that involved other cops.
POOLE: I think I was getting too close to the truth. I think they feared that the truth would be a scandal.
ROWLANDS: Poole later assisted Biggie Smalls' mother in a lawsuit claiming L.A. police covered up officers' involvement in the shooting.
Bernard Parks was the chief of police when Poole was investigating. He's now an L.A. city councilman. He tells CNN Poole's accusations are, quote, "absurd," saying, quote, "We would have never ignored a lead that could have helped us solve that murder."
We couldn't get Suge Knight to sit down for an interview, but he has told CNN he had nothing to do with either murder.
Reggie Wright Jr. did agree to appear on camera. He was Death Row Records' head of security, who says he ran the company while Suge Knight was in prison.
(on camera) Did you have anything to do with Tupac's murder?
REGGIE WRIGHT JR., FORMER HEAD OF SECURITY, DEATH ROW RECORDS: No, sir.
ROWLANDS: Or Biggie's?
WRIGHT: No, sir.
ROWLANDS (voice-over): Wright says he believes that Tupac was simply killed in retaliation for the casino fight, and Suge Knight whom he says he no longer talks to, was not involved.
WRIGHT: I know that he 100 percent had nothing to do with the murder of Tupac Shakur.
ROWLANDS (on camera): Suge?
WRIGHT: Suge Knight. Biggie Smalls, I honestly do not know.
ROWLANDS: Both the Los Angeles and Las Vegas Police Departments say the investigations into the shootings of Tupac Shakur and Biggie Smalls are ongoing.
Ted Rowlands, CNN, Los Angeles.
(END VIDEOTAPE) COOPER: Earlier, I spoke with "America's Most Wanted" host John Walsh about how two icons in the music industry could be murdered in plain sight and we still don't really know what happened.
COOPER: With the killing of Tupac Shakur and also Notorious BIG, there are clearly people out there who witnessed this, who witnessed both of these killings, and yet have not come forward, have not said anything.
JOHN WALSH, HOST, "AMERICA'S MOST WANTED": You know what bothers me is this B.S. thing, the stop snitching, where some of these rappers say, you know, "Don't tell, don't cooperate with police. We'll retaliate."
I remember going to Boston and doing a case where there was a gang banger in jail, and his defense attorney got the witness list. And he had one of the witnesses killed in South Boston from jail, so they couldn't testify against him. Then came the "stop snitching" T- shirts and all this crap.
It could be your neighbor. It could -- I don't care where you live. Yes, if you're afraid of retaliation, but if you witnessed a murder or you know something about it, then do the right thing. You can remain anonymous. You can be protected. God forbid it's your brother that's the next victim or your father or your cousin or your daughter or your wife.
They know exactly. People know exactly who killed Biggie. Tupac was shot right after Mike Tyson fight on tape.
COOPER: On a busy street in Vegas.
WALSH: I mean, it's a very high-profile case.
COOPER: Just think, there were people. I mean, in Tupac's -- Tupac Shakur's case, there were people sitting right next to him. And, you know, in Biggie Smalls' case, there were people who witnessed this.
COOPER: And these are people who claimed to be his friends. They were people who, you know, made money off him, made money from him, and yet refused to say anything, because they're afraid -- maybe they're afraid for their own life. But I don't even give them that much credit. They're just afraid of being seen as being a snitch, which is just absurd.
WALSH: It takes a lot of courage to do the right thing. Being a snitch is easy. Then you're a coward. Then you're an accessory to the murder; you're an accessory to the crime. You're just a coward. You're a chicken.
But it takes a lot of guts to say, "I know who did that. This is the person. This is what happened." You can remain anonymous.
I understand -- I understand the fear. Yes, there's retaliation. I don't understand this fake gangster attitude. You know, I've been on the streets. Most of the people in those areas where these gangsters operate, they're terrified. They're good people. They're trapped there by poverty. They would do the right thing.
COOPER: It used to be the definition of a snitch was somebody who gave -- gave up information about one of their cohorts in crime in order to get a lesser sentence. Now the definition has expanded to anybody who talks to police. And that's just -- that's unacceptable because society cannot function unless people report what they see and are good citizens.
WALSH: "America's Most Wanted" is the testimony to good people doing the right thing. We've caught 1,200 guys out there. I believe you save lives.
If you know who slit the throat of a little girl 20 years ago, ten years ago, a week ago, you could save the life of the next girl by having the guts to say, "I think it is my creepy cousin," or "I think I know who that is." Think about that.
COOPER: Do you have any insights? I mean, you've done Tupac Shakur's killing. Do you have any insights on who killed them? Or why?
WALSH: You know, all this East/West rivalry between the different hip-hop factions and the gangster thug stuff, I really believe that maybe people that were with Tupac or people that were with Biggie didn't see who the shooter was, didn't see who drove by and did the shootings, didn't see who shot Tupac, but somebody knows. Somebody helped orchestrate that B.S. gangster crap, and they've literally gotten away with murder.
I do believe that somebody is going to man up at some point in their life and say, "This isn't right." Biggie had friends, relatives. He had a mother, people that loved him. Tupac had lots of people. He has surviving children. They need justice. And you're just a coward if you don't man up and say, "I think I know who did it. This is who it is. This is what happened. I don't want to leave my name. Get you back on track. You can break this case."
COOPER: Tomorrow we continue the series the most notorious cold cases, revisiting the JonBenet Ramsey case, the murder of a 6-year-old girl on Christmas 14 years ago. Took over the headlines. Even though the case is cold, the story is not. Just a few months ago, there were new reports about police contacting JonBenet's older brother. We're reopening the cold case on JonBenet Ramsey tomorrow on 360.
Up next tonight, first it was birds falling from the sky, now 2 million fish wash up on a shore in Maryland. What caused this latest mass kill? Details on that ahead.
Plus, see what happened today that interrupted the reading of the Constitution that also made it to tonight's "RidicuList."
COOPER: "The RidicuList" coming up, but first let's check in with Joe Johns for the "360 News & Business Bulletin" -- Joe.
JOHNS: Anderson, more than 1,000 U.S. Marines will soon be heading to Afghanistan. They'll help with security efforts in the southern part of the country. A U.S. military official says they'll be on the ground for only a few months.
In Maryland, about 2 million fish were found dead in the Chesapeake Bay. State environmental officials say the water likely got too cold. This fish kill comes just days after 100,000 fish died in northwest Arkansas. Authorities suspect disease was to blame there.
Holiday sales chilled last month after a surge in November. Target posted a gain of just .9 percent. That's way off the estimated gain of 4 percent. Gap, Wet Seal and others also had weak sales. The declines are linked to deep discounting and surging online sales.
And check this out. High-tech super yacht. On board you'll find the world's most exclusive iPad app that will allow to you control everything from the temperature inside the cabins to even the captain's steering wheel.
Rapper P. Diddy, his girlfriend and their children are currently the ship's passengers. The mogul and everyone else got complimentary iPads when they came on board. The price tag for just one week on the ship, $850,000.
COOPER: Sounds like a lot of money.
COOPER: For one week?
JOHNS: I know. I wonder if he put it on a credit card. That's incredible.
COOPER: Yes. All right, Joe. Thanks.
Time for "The RidicuList." We should put maybe that boat on "The RidicuList." Tonight, the honor goes to someone we're calling simply the interrupter, which by the way, would be a great title for a comic book about the world's worst super hero.
So did you hear about this? This morning, members of the House of Representatives took turns reading the U.S. Constitution. Everything was going OK, even if it wasn't the most riveting event ever broadcast.
Then something happened during the reading of Article 2, section one, the part that says who is eligible to become president. The part about being a natural-born citizen. Watch. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. FRANK PALLONE (D), NEW JERSEY: No person except a natural- born citizen or a citizen of the United States at the time of the adoption of this Constitution shall be eligible to be the office of president. Neither shall...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Except Obama. Except Obama. Help us, Jesus.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The chair would remind persons in the gallery -- the chair would remind all persons in the gallery that they're here as guests of the House and that any manifestation of approval or disapproval of the proceedings is in violation of the rules of the House.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: So, yes, a heckler in the visitor gallery. An apparent birther started shouting, and then the gavel came down to drown her out.
Let's just set aside for a moment the absolute absurd idea that President Obama was not born in Hawaii. He was. The evidence proves it. I know, I know. It isn't like congressmen themselves have set the greatest example when it comes to lessons about heckling.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The reforms I'm proposing would not apply to those who are here illegally.
REP. JOE WILSON (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: You lie.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Representative Joe Wilson apologized for that. And I guess we should also be glad that today's interrupter didn't actually get on the House floor and grab the mike, a la Kanye West at the VMAs.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KANYE WEST, SINGER: You know, Taylor, I'm really happy for you. I'm going to let you finish. But Beyonce had one of the best videos of al time. One of the best videos of all time.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: I still like watching that.
The point here is there's a time and a place. There's a time and a place to express your opinion, no matter how outlandish they may be. But the interruption of the House today as a political statement, as a protest is about effective as yelling "Free Bird" at a rock concert. Yes, sure, you might get a few chuckles but a lot more eye rolls, and the band's going to keep on playing. The interrupter was reportedly arrested for disturbing the order of the House, and members finished their reading of the Constitution. And so we, the people, in order to form a more perfect "RidicuList," do hereby induct tonight the interrupter.
That's our report tonight. Thanks for watching. "PARKER SPITZER" is next. I'll see you tomorrow night at 9 Eastern and at 10.