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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Birther Bill; House Passes Budget Bill
Aired April 15, 2011 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: We begin tonight "Keeping Them Honest" with America's first birther bill. Arizona lawmakers passed it. The bill's sponsor freely admits he has doubts about President Obama's citizenship. And Donald Trump, who is perhaps the loudest voice right now on the birther bandwagon, well, he was talking loudly again tonight.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, CHAIRMAN & CEO, TRUMP HOTELS & CASINO RESORTS: He should provide his birth certificate and he should do it soon, because say what you want, I am getting more calls and more letters and more support. Look at my polls. They're through the roof.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Trump, by the way, has acquainted himself with the sponsor of this new bill in Arizona and you will hear from him, plenty from both men, in a moment.
First, though, the bill itself. Barring a veto by Governor Jan Brewer, it takes effect in time for the 2012 presidential campaign. That said, well, listen to the incumbent. He doesn't sound very worried.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I was born in Hawaii.
OBAMA: But I became a man here in Chicago.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: In fact, in this interview last night with ABC's George Stephanopoulos, Mr. Obama sounded distinctly like someone trying to turn the birther issue to his advantage.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: Over the last two-and-a-half years, there's been an effort to go at me in a way that is politically expedient in the short term for Republicans, but creates I think a problem for them when they want to actually run in a general election, where most people feel pretty confident the president was born where he says he was, in Hawaii. He doesn't have horns.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: So in that general election, this new Arizona law would require a presidential candidate to submit a certified copy of a long- form birth certificate. That includes at least the date and place of birth, as well as the names of the hospital and the doctor in attendance.
Now, before going any further, we want to show you something, right here, President Obama's birth certificate, that's the official Hawaii document, it's called a certificate of live birth. Other states call them certificates of birth or birth certificates. The original is on file in Honolulu.
Hawaii's current Democratic governor, and this is important, the state's former Republican governor, well, they both vouch for that document. It's good enough for them. Good enough for the State Department to issue the president a passport. It's the only kind of birth certificate copy they give out in Hawaii.
But because it lacks the doctor and the hospital names, it appears not to be good enough under Arizona's new law. Again the law would be in effect next year, but supporters say, supporters say it's not about Barack Obama. That's exactly what they said about a similar bill that failed to pass Arizona last year.
Anderson spoke back then with State Representative Cecil Ash. And at the beginning of the interview, Ash said he believed the president was in fact born in Hawaii, but listen. He quickly got more and more doubtful.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: So why vote for something which perpetuates these false Internet rumors?
CECIL ASH (R), ARIZONA STATE REPRESENTATIVE: Well, Anderson, I think there's been a lot of controversy over the issue. It's created a division among a lot of people in the United States. And, for better or worse, many people don't believe he is a U.S. citizen. They believe he has loyalties -- divided loyalties, I suppose you could say.
COOPER: Right, but those people are wrong. I mean, he is a U.S. citizen.
ASH: Well, you're telling me that he's wrong. I have never investigated that. If he is, then he has nothing to fear.
COOPER: But -- but, I mean, that -- the information is out there. It has been released. It has been shown. There are some people who don't believe it, but there are also some people who believe that the moon is made out of cheese. And you can say you have never investigated it, but I think you would probably say the moon is not made out of cheese.
ASH: Well, I certainly would.
But the reason I spoke up on this bill is simply because there is a lot of division in the country. And I believe this would put an end to any future controversy about a president's qualifications.
COOPER: You told our producer you voted for this because you get a lot of calls from constituents with questions based on things they have read on the Internet.
I mean, isn't it your job as a leader to actually lead, not to throw up your hands and say, well, who knows what's real or not on the Internet, to actually say, well, actually, you know, Hawaii has released this information, and it's factually correct?
ASH: Well, as I said, I haven't personally investigated that. But I -- I think that, if -- if...
COOPER: But, I mean, there's plenty of things you believe that you have not personally investigated.
ASH: That's true.
COOPER: Why, this, are you holding onto?
ASH: Well, what we're requiring here is for a -- a presidential candidate to demonstrate he is qualified.
And I don't think having any presidential candidate -- candidate show that he's qualified by demonstrating the requirements of the requirements, that there's any problem with that.
COOPER: You told my producer you thought the president spent a million dollars fighting the release of his birth certificate, and then that raised concerns for you.
ASH: That's what I have heard. As I said, it...
COOPER: Right. But that's not -- you know that's actually not true?
ASH: I -- I don't know that that's not true. As I said, I haven't studied it. You get a lot of information on the Internet. As you know, much of it is inaccurate.
This has not been a focus of my attention for the last two years. But I know it is a matter of -- of controversy for many people. And I looked at this as simply a -- a means to end that controversy.
COOPER: You -- you also said to our producer that the president identified himself as a foreigner on his college application.
COOPER: You know that's not true, right?
ASH: I didn't know that that was not true.
COOPER: That's a story that was put out on April Fool's Day. It's a fake AP news story.
ASH: Like I said, I -- I'm reluctant to read anything I read on the Internet, including the evidence about his birth certificate.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Arizona State Representative Cecil Ash, who doesn't believe what he reads on the Internet, except apparently birther conspiracy theories.
A year later, a bill has passed on a new wave of birther talk. The loudest talker right now, Donald Trump, who has been talking endlessly, including tonight in Florida.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Look, I feel strongly about the fact that Barack Obama should give his birth certificate, not a certificate of live birth, which is nothing, which is absolutely nothing.
It's too bad the titles are so close, because these guys on television, oh, but he's got a certificate of live birth. A certificate of live birth is a much, much lower standard than a birth certificate.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: In fact, as far as Hawaii is concerned and many other states and the U.S. State Department, that's not true.
Mr. Trump also claims to be pursuing his own inquiry on the president's pedigree. When asked tonight for a status report on the investigation, he said, it continues. When asked when we might expect to see the results, he said, and I quote, "some time."
Joining us now, Arizona State Represent Carl Seel, who was the sponsor of this new legislation.
And, Representative Seel, let me start straight up with this question. Why do you think we need this bill, and why now?
CARL SEEL (R), ARIZONA STATE REPRESENTATIVE: Well, thank you for having me on, by the way.
KING: You're welcome.
SEEL: Fundamentally, we have to enforce the Constitution, and oftentimes, what's not in the debate is the standard for a U.S. president. It's a higher standard than even the office I hold, that you must be a natural born U.S. citizen, not just a citizen. The State Department uses documents to determine citizenship for passports.
KING: So, do you believe that the current president -- I assume this wouldn't just come out of the blue, I just thought I would sponsor this law this week. Do you believe the current president of the United States, President Obama, is not a natural born citizen of the United States?
SEEL: I have question of it.
For example, the documents provided to the state of Arizona when Obama ran and provided -- the DNC provided their document to the state of Arizona certifying that's their candidate, interestingly enough, they omit a statement that says that their candidate, Barack Obama, meets the constitutional standard of natural born status.
And interestingly enough, our candidate, John McCain, the RNC submits a document that says specifically that John McCain does meet the constitutional standard. So I find that that's rather fascinating, that there's that discrepancy, and I have certified copies of those documents. That's not something floating around on the Internet.
KING: I don't have those in front of me, but I take you at your word.
SEEL: I do.
KING: I don't have those in front of me. I also have covered a lot of campaigns and I know that when staffers fill out forms, they often don't fill out the boxes correctly. I'm sure I have done that...
SEEL: No, this is not a boxes thing. This is a certified copy form. This is not a box checking thing.
KING: OK. So you do not believe the man who won the last election, and who is the current president of the United States, the commander in chief of U.S. troops overseas, you don't think he's qualified for the job?
SEEL: I -- what I believe is we're not altogether sure. When you spend what the resources that you do and when our candidate, John McCain, readily produces his documents and...
KING: Your candidate, John McCain, also said he thought this is a bogus argument, to fight the president on his views on spending, fight him on taxes, fight him on his views on national security, but this is a bogus argument, he says. SEEL: Well, I can appreciate that.
But at the end of the day, defending our Constitution and enforcing our Constitution is something we should always be doing.
KING: You have said and others who have gone down this road have said that you believe the president has spent millions of dollars fighting the release of his birth certificate. Do you believe that to be true?
SEEL: He is most certainly fighting the release of the certificate. What I find is also interesting, too...
KING: Do you think he's spent millions of dollars fighting it?
SEEL: I'm not exactly sure the actual dollar amount that he's spending doing that or the resources he's dedicating to that.
But clearly the state of Hawaii has two different types of documents, the certificate of live birth and a long-form birth certificate. And to date, as I understand it, Mr. Obama has not produced the long-form birth certificate, which includes additional information that Mr. Trump referenced.
KING: And you have said as part -- let me just quickly stop. Fact checking groups have looked into the spending of the money, by the way. And the president has spent a lot of money from his legal campaign funds, just like Senator McCain did, essentially on ballot access and challenges and some of it, yes, fighting some lawsuits, but we don't know anywhere near that entire number that get cited by many of his critics.
I want to move on, though. You have said in pushing this bill that the Democratic governor of Hawaii, Neil Abercrombie, has admitted he can't find the certificate, correct?
SEEL: My understanding is the state of Hawaii indicates that they are not able to produce the long-form birth certificate.
KING: But specifically the governor, do you believe he has said that?
SEEL: I believe that the state of Hawaii has indicated that they cannot produce the long-form birth certificate.
KING: In your state now, your Governor Brewer, has she given you assurances she will sign this into law?
SEEL: I believe that Governor Brewer will. As our former secretary of state, Governor Brewer readily enforced Prop 200, which required that anyone registering to vote must demonstrate that they're a U.S. citizen. So I believe based on her experience and willingness to enforce the law and stand fervently for that, I believe that she will sign this bill. KING: I went to Hawaii last year and I went to the hospital where Barack Obama was born, or in your view allegedly born, and you can go to the libraries and see the old yellow microfiche, the old yellow microfiche of the copies of the birth notices that the State Department says it sends to the newspapers and it lists the address of the building where his grandparents and his mother lived at the time. You think this is all a grand conspiracy theory?
SEEL: I think there are several questions. As mentioned earlier, Mr. Trump has several people on the ground investigating the situation and I imagine in the near future he will release his findings.
KING: And if Mr. Trump says he has found no evidence that the president is not a foreigner, not from the United States of America, if he can't prove that he's right, would you withdraw your bill?
SEEL: Well, it will already -- Mr. Obama -- this bill is not about Mr. Obama. He's drawn out the question, much like Megan's Law draws out a question. We in legislatures typically create laws when an issue comes up.
KING: He has drawn out...
KING: Has he drawn out the question or have people who want to question his legitimacy drawn out the question?
And let me ask it this way. Would we be having this conversation if Barack Obama were white or his middle name wasn't Hussein?
SEEL: You know, I take offense that you're trying to create a racial connection to it.
Dr. King, who was a Republican, felt that we should judge people by the content of their character and not the color of their skin. So, this is not about anything related to...
KING: But he was on the ballot last time, whether he's white or black or in between, he was on the ballot last time. The Republican Party, I'm assuring you, spent a lot of money trying to find things to disqualify Barack Obama on the issues legally or anything else.
This document right here, we have shown a copy on the screen, the certificate of live birth, the State Department takes it. It's just hard for people to believe after all the investigations by news organizations, all the investigations by the Republican Party, that this one won't go away.
SEEL: Well, the good news about my bill is in the absence of a long-form birth certificate, we're using the Department of Defense's standard to determine natural born status. And that's as an outgrowth of a U.S. Supreme Court case. So I expect the ACLU and groups like that to probably readily sue over this. But I think we're on excellent constitutional ground.
KING: All right, well, I'm not afraid tonight to say that I'm a bit skeptical, but Carl Seel, we do appreciate your time. We appreciate your perspective.
And you just mentioned the constitutionality. We have touched on it briefly.
Let's talk more about whether this bill, whatever you may think about it, does pass constitutional muster. For that let's bring in George Washington University Professor Jonathan Turley.
Simple question, Mr. Turley. Do you think the Supreme Court, if this piece of legislation were ever to get there, constitutional?
JONATHAN TURLEY, CONSTITUTIONAL ATTORNEY, GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY: I don't think it is. This is clearly a novel question. It hasn't been presented in the federal courts. There's arguments that can be made that Arizona is not imposing a new condition, but simply enforcing a condition in the Constitution.
But I think that it is fatally flawed. Most importantly, I think it violates Article 4, Section 1 of the Constitution, the full faith and credit clause. That's the clause in which states are obligated to recognize documents like birth certificates of other states.
Without that clause, everything would basically shut down in the United States. And here you have a state, Hawaii, that is saying this is it. We have certified. He was born here. And Arizona is simply saying we won't accept that. We want proof along these lines.
I think a federal court would have a real problem with that, because states could impose any number of such requirements. And there's also the problem of states creating a patchwork of systems of requirements on the presidential office. The Supreme Court previously rejected term limits for members of Congress, and that's not the identical case to be sure. But the Supreme Court distinguished between offices that are held by the people and offices that are determined by the states. And I think that the court would look askance at Arizona and other states grafting on these types of conditions.
KING: Play devil's advocate. If I were in Professor Turley's class and you were saying argue the other side, argue that this is a good law and a constitutional law, how would you make your case?
TURLEY: Well, in deference to Mr. Seel, I think that obviously Article 2 does require that you be a natural born citizen.
And I think what Arizona is likely to argue, and this is in many ways analogous to their immigration approach, is that we're not imposing anything new, we're not imposing a new condition to be satisfied. We're simply asking for authentication of a condition that is set by the Constitution. And there's some language that they can point to. I remember Justice Story made a statement about the right of states to require authentication, but he was actually making a broader point, that they have to recognize these documents.
But this is not a frivolous point. It's a point that has been long debated. But, by the way, what constitutes a natural born citizen has been the source of endless debate. It's a term that we received from our British cousins and it is by no means clear as to what is the absolutely limits of that definition.
KING: Let me ask lastly, the timing of this. This Arizona law, let's assume the governor signs it. We're in the middle of 2011 right now, in the first third of 2011 heading into the second quarter. If this is making its way through the courts, in the 2012 presidential campaign, whether you think it's a good idea or a bad idea -- I'm speaking more to the people at home more than you, Professor Turley -- is there a possibility that he could get thrown off a ballot in Arizona or somewhere else, the president of the United States, and we could be litigating this in the middle of a campaign?
TURLEY: I think it's doubtful, but I would say this is something that the Justice Department, the Obama White House have to take seriously. There's 13 states moving along or down this road.
I think part of the value for people pushing this is, frankly, the optics that President Obama is going to have to be seen in court fighting the requirement to produce a birth certificate. I think those optics are important here. And I think this is more politically than constitutionally driven. But I expect that as soon as this thing is signed, it is likely to see the inside of a courtroom. And I don't think it's going to receive that friendly of a reception from the federal court.
KING: We will keep an eye on it. Jonathan Turley, Professor Turley, always appreciate your insights. Thank you, sir.
And up next, money, politics and Medicare. The House Republicans pass a budget that radically, radically changes the way seniors would pay for health care. Good idea or bad? Good politics or bad? We will ask our great panel.
And later, some especially troubling breaking news from the battle for Libya. Reports now that Moammar Gadhafi is targeting civilians, his civilian population with bombs designed expressly to kill and maim people.
KING: "Raw Politics." "Raw Politics." The House today passed the Republican leadership's 2012 budget proposal. It's put together by Congressman Paul Ryan and sketches out upwards of $4 trillion in budget cuts over the next decade, replaces government Medicare payments with vouchers to buy private health insurance. Zero Democrats voted for it.
And President Obama seems eager to campaign against it. Here's what he said to a group of donors in Chicago last night about recent budget talks with the Republicans. What the president didn't know, that there was an open mike nearby.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
OBAMA: You want to repeal health care? Go at it. We'll have that debate. You're not going to be able to do that by nickel-and- diming me in the budget. You think we're stupid?
We're happy to have that debate. We will have the debate on the floor of the Senate or the floor of the House. Put it in a separate bill. We'll call it up. And if you think you can overturn my veto, try it.
But don't try to sneak this through.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
KING: That sound, by the way, courtesy of CBS Radio's Mark Knoller, one of the hardest working guys in the business.
Joining us now, senior political analyst David Gergen, Democratic strategist Maria Cardona, she is a former senior adviser to Hillary Clinton 2008 campaign, also former Bush speechwriter David Frum, editor of FrumForum.com.
David, I want to start with you. The president, no bombshells there about his negotiations with the Republicans, but it does give a tone, it does give a tone of the budget conversation. So the House has passed it, David, where do we go from here?
DAVID FRUM, FORMER SPEECHWRITER FOR FORMER PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: Well, I worry a lot that we're heading to a future of continuing conflict of two years of continuing resolutions of making it very difficult to get budgets passed and of near death experiences, like the one that is coming next month when it comes time to raise the debt ceiling.
Right now if you're somebody, you have the sovereign debt fund of Norway who holds $10 billion or $12 billion worth of U.S. debt and you're thinking about buying some more, you're wondering will the Americans be paying interest after May 15? That's kind of nervous making.
There are deals to be done here, and the less painfully we do them, the less heartache we give both Americans and creditors abroad.
KING: David Gergen, less heartache. David Frum is interested in less heartache. And I think that's a responsible position to take if we can strike responsible deals. Maybe we will get there. But at the beginning of this debate, where you have the president saying scathing things about Paul Ryan. Paul Ryan saying scathing things about the president of the United States. Those are the two top voices, if you will, in this debate. Is that just show for their own partisan constituencies at the moment or does it tell us something about the lack of trust, lack of relationships in Washington? DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: I think the distrust and the rifts are growing deeper. I agree with what David Frum just said.
And it's very much in the country's interest to reach some sort of compromise in the near term modest as it may be to help get us past this debt ceiling and get us continue spending for the government. But I think the real showdown is going to come in the 2012 elections and I think that big changes are going to come after that, if they indeed do come. What has happened, John, is two things that are significant.
The president is now off and running on his campaign and he's using very partisan rhetoric that is angering the Republicans, stirring up his base. At the same time the Republicans have done something very, very important today, and that is the Paul Ryan bill has now been enshrined by this vote in the House of Representatives as Republican orthodoxy.
It is now going to be I think the basis of the Republican campaign. I would imagine it would be in their platform and it's hard to see how a candidate for the Republican Party could now run away from the Ryan approach without splintering the party. So I think the Republican Party has now deepened its commitment to the Ryan plan, it's more than the Ryan plan, it's the Republican, and I think that's going to have real consequences in our politics.
KING: David Gergen makes a very important point. Only four Republicans voted against their party's budget. Many thought maybe more would split because they were nervous about Medicare in the next campaign.
Maria Cardona, to the Democrat in the group, the way Washington normally works is the Republicans have passed the budget, the House has passed a budget, now the Senate is supposed to pass one. One of the big questions in the Senate is what about all those Democrats who are up in 2012 who are vulnerable? Where do we go in the Senate proposal, can they actually pass a budget, something that did not happen in the Democratic Congress last year? What happens there especially on the big cutting issues of health care, Medicare?
MARIA CARDONA, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, I think absolutely they can pass a budget and I think what they can do clearly now is pass a budget, frankly very similar to what the president put forward that makes a very stark comparison to the priorities and to the interests of the Republican Party vs. what Democrats want to do.
What this now House Republican GOP budget makes clear to the American people is that they would rather protect millionaires and billionaires in this country with trillions of dollars in tax giveaways and tens of billions of more dollars in tax giveaways to the biggest corporations in this country, who by the way ExxonMobil made more than a quarter of trillion dollars in profits its last quarter, than to be able to give seniors the Medicare and Medicaid and to give children Head Start and to give working class and middle class families the support that they need in this recession. It's a stark contrast and I think Democrats are ready for that fight.
KING: There's a stark contrast, and I hope both parties are ready for the debate.
David Frum, to you first. Then I want to bring David Gergen on this point.
This could be a great educational debate for the country, or we can say, you know, you crazy liberals and you crazy conservatives and fight it out by pointing fingers at each other and using parties. But do you think there's any chance we will actually have a conversation should Medicare be a government program where you go in, you get your health care and the government pays for it or should it be, as Paul Ryan proposes, essentially a set piece of money? He doesn't like the term voucher, but essentially a voucher. You use that voucher to buy a private health insurance plan, and you better go out and find a good one, because unlike the government your coverage will be determined by that plan.
We could have a great debate here about the proper role and the reach of government, including in the health care debate. Will we get it? Or we will get partisan finger pointing?
FRUM: Well, I don't think we're going to get that debate.
And the Ryan plan actually doesn't really start that debate in the way you want to have it, because all of the things it does to Medicare, as opposed to Medicaid, happen 10 years from now. So the idea that today's 54-year-olds are going to turn 65 some day, get from the government less money than is needed to pay for health care like their elder brothers and sisters got and say, well, that's disappointing, but so Paul Ryan said 11 years ago, and the words of Paul Ryan are obviously binding forever, so I'm not going to join with my fellow 54-year-olds and press Congress to increase the voucher.
Of course that's what they will do. So it doesn't really help us. We need to solve this problem now and we need to deal with Medicare spending now. And that means that people who are over 65 are going to have to be in the game.
The key to survival for Republicans, and I endorse so much of what Paul Ryan wants to do. I think a 25 percent top rate of income tax is a great idea. You do the tax thing on the tax side and the medical thing on the medical side. You pay for your lower top rate by eliminating deductions and by raising excise taxes and raising energy taxes. And you deal with the health care problem as a separate problem.
As Bill Clinton showed and as George Bush knew, that when you allow those things to commingle, Republicans do not win. They win when those accounts are kept clearly separate. Tax reform is one thing, health care reform something else.
KING: So David Gergen, I'm going to give you the last word, but Maria Cardona first. Mr. Frum just laid out a case there. Maria, will you take him on that negotiation? Should Democrats say hey this guy Frum has got a pretty good idea, let's negotiate on those grounds or will we just fight this out and Democrat will try to take advantage? And Republicans had pretty gains among senior voters in 2010. Will this become payback in 2012?
CARDONA: Well, I think it depends on whether Republicans take David's advice, because what we have seen from this president is that he is willing to negotiate. He is willing to bring everybody to the table. In fact, in the last couple of negotiations, he's seen as the adult in the room.
Democrats have also been willing to negotiate. What we have seen the problem here is the GOP caucus and their Tea Party. The Tea Partiers are not willing to negotiate, they are not willing to compromise. They do not know how to govern. They're not going to let Boehner do any of that.
So I think it's on them the fact that we are not going to have this constructive debate that I do think the American people deserve.
KING: So, David Gergen, again, you get the last word here. And the question is leadership.
And I could frame it as a question of presidential leadership, but Maria makes an important point. There are two people who matter most here, the Democratic president of the United States and the Republican speaker of the United States, whose DNA, John Boehner's DNA is to be a legislator.
Does he have the freedom, or is Maria right, and is this a case where the president should again -- and you have been critical of him -- stay on the sidelines, let them fight it out for a while and come in at the end, or should he try to get in right now?
GERGEN: I think the president and John Boehner both need to be involved with this. I think we need a very intensive set of negotiations between now and the deadline on this debt ceiling. It's extremely important to the national financial security of this country that we get this resolved peacefully.
We could have a great debate, John. We should have a great debate. It's important. These are central issues. But the demagoguery we're seeing right now is intense.
You know, it was only a few months ago the Democrats were rightly screaming when Republicans said that Obama care was going to bring death panels, and the Democrats screamed that was unfair. Today we have Democrats talking about Paul Ryan and saying his plan, there are going to be deathtraps for seniors. And the Republicans are screaming, as they should, because that's such demagoguery.
And what we have -- I think what we're seeing -- we saw it in the first story of this show about the birthers, is there is a certain madness in the air right now. There's a certain -- there's a distemper in our politics that -- that is making this extremely difficult to reach what is critically important for the country.
KING: The more things change, the more they remain the same, I guess. We'll continue the conversation. David Frum, Maria Cordova, David Gergen, thanks for your help tonight.
Up next, breaking news on the battle for control of Libya. Evidence Moammar Gadhafi's forces are using cluster bombs on Misurata. Cluster bombs, nasty weapons. Most countries have outlawed them. Up next, we'll find out why.
And a bit later, we've seen undercover videotape of how some animals are treated by meat processors. Now there's a move by some of those companies to make those tapes illegal. What are they trying to hide or might they have a point? We're "Keeping Them Honest."
COOPER: Breaking news now out of Libya. The world has watched in horror as Moammar Gadhafi has used deadly force against people who have not -- not -- taken up arms against him. Now there are reports he's firing cluster bombs on residential areas in the city of Misurata. Cluster bombs are simply devastating. They can kill a lot of people quickly, which is why most nations have outlawed their use. In just a moment, we'll explain exactly how they work.
Today, the group Human Rights Watch released photographs -- you see them right there -- it says are remnants of cluster bombs that Gadhafi forces fired on Misurata Thursday night. The group says some of the bomb material landed near a Misurata hospital.
Tonight, the Gadhafi government denies using cluster bombs, but its tanks rolled through the streets of Misurata today, pounding rebels and civilians with artillery and heavy mortar fire.
A short time ago, I spoke to CNN's Frederick Pleitgen, who is in Tripoli and with retired major general James "Spider" Marks, the former commanding general of the U.S. Army intelligence center.
COOPER: Fred, we have confirmation today that cluster bombs, a nasty weapon, being used by the Gadhafi regime in Misurata. You asked the government spokesman about these attacks. What did they tell you?
FREDERICK PLEITGEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, I certainly did ask Moussa Ibrahim (ph), who is the spokesperson for the Libyan government, and he told me that these reports are absolutely untrue, that Libya is not using these weapons.
He also reiterated what he's been saying for a very long time, that the Libyan army apparently tries to do everything to prevent civilian casualties, and that it can't use these munitions, simply because the world is watching, he said. That's, of course, something that we've heard from the Libyan government before in other cases that has been seen later to be untrue.
KING: Certainly has been seen to be untrue. An excellent point there by Fred.
General Marks, help somebody out there watching who's not familiar with a cluster bomb, doesn't quite understand what it is and what it can do.
GEN. JAMES "SPIDER" MARKS, U.S. ARMY: Cluster bombs are designed primarily to be used against armored or tank mechanized formations. It's a number of bombs within a bomb. It can be delivered from the air. It can be delivered by artillery.
What happens if you have one explosion that then releases a number of sub-munitions from that. So it covers a very broad area, and it forces these mechanized formations to either go around, and it channelizes their activity away from where these cluster bombs are located. So it clearly is not a weapons system to be used in a built- up area, like cities and, clearly, it's against international law to use these things against civilians.
KING: You make that point about international law. A lot of nations have sworn these off completely. The United States does have some, though, in its military arsenal, right? Meant to be used against tanks?
MARKS: It is. Absolutely. And that's why the United States reserves the right to use those.
KING: And Fred, you've been in Misurata, and you have seen not only the siege in that city, but the tactics being used by the Gadhafi regime forces. Take us inside.
PLEITGEN: Yes, the tactics and especially the weapons that are used by the Gadhafi forces. I was in downtown Misurata and we actually had a good overview of the situation there. And we saw tanks inside the city center. We saw tanks firing inside the city center.
Also, there's some taller buildings inside Misurata with some snipers on it that we could actually see here at Kouli (ph) from our position. And then there's other sort of bigger caliber weapons that have we seen them fire inside the city, as well, things like mortars, things like artillery. And they're using them inside the city of Misurata.
But they're also using them to shell the port area of Misurata, which of course, makes it very, very difficult for any ships to try and come in there. And those are the only lifelines for that city. Both to get goods inside to keep the people there alive and also to get wounded people and civilians out of the city.
KING: And so General Marks, we've seen NATO having a bit of a family feud, a tug of war over strategy. Will the revelation that the Gadhafi regime is using cluster bombs -- again, they deny it, but we have evidence there are cluster bombs being used in Misurata -- how will that, if it will, intensify the urgency of NATO's discussions?
MARKS: It clearly needs to get NATO focused in on what are the full array of capabilities that they can bring to bear against Gadhafi?
Clearly, NATO forces have chosen a side here, and they are here to support the rebels. And Gadhafi has to go, irrespective right now of who's going to possibly replace him. So NATO really needs to ratchet it up based on this evidence that we see right now.
KING: And do you think -- the United States has stepped into a back seat role in this. Do you think there would be pressure on the United States to get more involved up front, and if Gadhafi's forces are using cluster bombs in a close-in, residential area, how do you take them out?
MARKS: You don't take them out with the rebel forces, first of all. They're not equipped to do it. And NATO from the air is not equipped to do it.
Clearly, this is an example of where boots on the ground are absolutely necessary to achieve an end state of protecting the civilians in Libya. And right now that's not only the table. It should be.
King: You say it should be. I can tell you at the White House they say it absolutely will not be. So they obviously will have a continued debate within the NATO alliance about this as these heinous weapons are used.
And to that point, Fred Pleitgen, yesterday you had President Obama, the French president Sarkozy, the British prime minister Cameron stressing Gadhafi must go. And they said NATO must stay until that comes about.
But there is no indication that the Libyan leader is feeling the pressure. In fact, he seems to be as defiant as ever.
PLEITGEN: Well, he certainly does. And the pictures that you're seeing on Libyan TV certainly seem to indicate that, as well. Of course, showing Gadhafi riding in an open vehicle riding around -- around Tripoli here, sort of out of the sunroof, pumping fists to his supporters there.
You later had Gadhafi's daughter who was on television, as well, there, giving a speech to supporters, saying it's absolutely not in the cards for Gadhafi to step down and it's even outrageous for people to think that he would step aside.
But certainly at this point in time, it doesn't look like there's any indication, even, that Gadhafi will be able to relinquish power or even give up some of his power.
KING: Fred Pleitgen in Tripoli. General Marks, thanks to you, as well. Take care, gentlemen.
MARKS: Thank you, John.
KING: Four journalists of "The New York times" experienced first hand the horror of what's happening in Libya. They were kidnapped in Ajdabiya last month and held for six days by Gadhafi's forces. Steve Farrell, Tyler Hicks, Lynsey Addario and Anthony Shadid were bound, beaten and repeatedly threatened with death.
In our next hour, Anderson has a special edition of 360. He speaks exclusively with the journalists who fully expected to die. Here's a preview.
ANTHONY SHADID, "NEW YORK TIMES": I don't know how my colleagues felt, but I remember it wasn't panic necessarily. It wasn't that kind of a desperation of flailing about, that you're about to be killed. It was almost that, you know, it's hard to describe other than calling it resignation or emptiness that, you know, that the moment's drawing near. And you're kind of waiting for it.
LYNSEY ADDARIO, "NEW YORK TIMES": There's nothing you can do. You can't -- you're literally captive, and you know that any move you make, they can shoot you. So it's almost easier to just not move and say, "OK, I might die right new." And you resign to the fact that this could be the end.
COOPER: It sounds stupid, but you see that moment in movies, the people lined up, put on the ground and then shot, and you always kind of think, why don't they run or do something? But...
ADDARIO: There's no point. I mean, what's the point? It will just be more violent. I mean, you know, I think your better chance is to just hope that they take pity on you for being so terrified. You know, I mean, I think we all just assumed we were about to die. And I mean, for me I just said OK. If this is the worst thing that's going to happen to us, I probably won't feel it, you know? I mean, it will probably be quick.
KING: Fascinating conversation. Don't miss "Captured in Libya," Anderson's exclusive interview with the former journalists from "The New York Times" in our next hour here on "360."
Coming up, though, farm animals horrifically abused. Their torture caught on tape. But now America's industrial farmers claim they are the real victims, and they're fighting back. Why videotaping animal cruelty could soon be a crime.
And tornadoes and heavy rain storms continue to pound the south. The latest on today's expensive damage when 360 comes back.
KING: Tonight, animal abuse on America's farms. You've seen the video, undercover exposes shot by animal rights groups. The images, like the ones we're about to show you, so graphic we have to warn you they might be difficult to watch.
In Ohio, for example, calves crammed into cages barely bigger than their bodies, some of them too weak to stand.
In Iowa, chickens thrown into bins so violently, workers say their legs and wings sometimes fall off in the process.
Over the past several years, hidden-camera investigations like these have led to massive recalls of contaminated eggs and meat, sometimes even criminal convictions of the workers responsible.
But now the industrial farmers, well, they're fighting back. They say these so-called whistleblowers are the real criminals. And with the support of lawmakers in Florida, Minnesota and Iowa, all big agricultural states, they're pushing to ban videos and photos taken without their permission.
Legislation in the works would also make it illegal to lie on a work application to get into these agricultural facilities.
"Keeping Them Honest," why doesn't big agriculture want you to see how it operates? In a statement to AC 360 today, the Iowa Poultry Association said, quote, "Our intent has ever been, nor will it ever be to stymie the reporting of true abuse or neglect." Instead, the association insists it is protecting the world food supply from extremists determined, it says, to end animal farming once and for all.
Just moments ago, I spoke with Jane Velez-Mitchell. She's the host of HLN's "ISSUES WITH JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL," and with CNN legal analyst Sunny Hostin for a closer look.
KING: Jane, to you first. Proponents of this Iowa legislation say, no, no, no, it's not about stopping whistleblowers from reporting abuses. It's about keeping people who misrepresent the true purpose of the farmers from getting hired and stopping them from using access to make videos which these proponents claim they end up using for fundraising purposes. You buy that?
JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL, HOST, HLN'S "ISSUES WITH JANE VELEZ- MITCHELL": That's absolute nonsense. The fact is we need to be asking what are these people trying to hide? Why are they so desperate to keep cameras out of these factory farms?
And I'll tell you why: because they don't want the American people to see what's really going on. It is America's secret shame.
Almost 10 billion farm animals raised and killed for food every year in horrific conditions. This is institutionalized torture and institutionalized sadism. John, it's so bad, you can't even show much video of it.
Most people have no idea. They think, "Oh, Babe's rolling in the hay somewhere in some barnyard." No, pigs are kept in gestation crates the size of their bodies, never able to turn around, even scratch themselves. They have intelligence comparable to dogs, and they become psychotic. Now, this is what they don't want you to see. What's really going on in these factory farms is a crime.
KING: And so Sunny, when you hear the passion like that, let's break down the legal arguments here. A long history in this country, going back more than a century, undercover investigations. Sunlight is the greatest disinfectant. A lot of these investigations reveal abuses in agriculture.
However, these farms also have private property rights, do they not? Is this constitutional?
SUNNY HOSTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, I think it probably isn't constitutional, actually. And I think the free speech of the American people to know what's going on, to talk about what's going on, is really, really implicated here.
Bottom line is there are laws against people editing inappropriately. There are laws against slander. There are laws against defamation. So the premise of this bill is that they're saying, "The reason we need it, John, is because people are editing things; people are lying." Well, there are laws about that.
So I think the very premise of these bills are really disingenuous. Why not then sort of up the ante for people that do do this sort of disingenuous editing? Instead of doing that, there's a lack of transparency here with this bill. They're saying even if what is being filmed is accurate, it would be illegal for doing it. That is troubling. It's troubling not only for whistleblowers; it's definitely troubling under the First Amendment. I have a real problem with what's going on here.
KING: So you're both very, very passionate about this, and that is obvious. Jane, let me play devil's advocate for a second. Don't the farms have rights here, including to protect themselves from potential fraud?
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Look, imagine if there was a nursing home and there was elderly abuse going on. Wouldn't you want to be able to get a hidden camera in there?
Imagine if there was a daycare center, and there was child abuse going on.
And remember, the USDA inspectors, they're falling down on the job here. The Hallmark slaughterhouse in 2008, it was the HSUS undercover cameras that found out that they were pushing downed cows with fork lifts to slaughter, in violation of the law, because downed cows have a higher likelihood of having disease, including Mad Cow Disease.
It wasn't the USDA inspectors who were standing right there who figured that out. That resulted in the largest beef recall in U.S. history for human health.
So animal cruelty and threats to human health, there are two things we have to think about here. We, the American people, deserve to know what's going on inside those factory farms. And shame on them for trying to keep us out.
KING: Well, that last point Jane makes on it is the case that Iowa State Senator Matt McCoy, a Democrat, makes. He says a bill like this could set a dangerous precedent. Does he have a point. Could it open the door to abuses we don't uncover that jeopardize food safety?
HOSTIN: I think there's no question, because we know as a result of these undercover investigations, as Jane just mentioned, certainly there have been food recalls. Certainly, there have been abuses of animal cruelty that have been uncovered. So I think there's no question that there is real value to these undercover investigations.
And again, the First Amendment certainly is implicated. Why not be good corporate citizens? Why don't the farmers want us to be there? Why not be transparent? When there is this lack of transparency, that is where the problems lie. That is, I think, the real crime here.
KING: Sunny Hostin, Jane Velez-Mitchell, thank you both.
KING: Still ahead, deadly storms tear across the south. At least ten people killed, major damage. It's not over yet.
Also ahead, a new twist in the search for a serial killer on Long Island, New York. A man makes a horrible call to the family of one of the victims -- get this -- from her own cell phone. That's next.
KING: Let's get the latest on some other stories we're tracking tonight with Joe Johns.
JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, John.
Tornado warnings and watches are blanketing the south tonight as powerful storms rip across Mississippi and Alabama and move into Georgia. States of emergency have been declared in Mississippi, Oklahoma, and Alabama, where at least one person has died. Nine other people were killed by storms in Arkansas and Oklahoma yesterday.
In New York, the mother of a woman found dead on Long Island says a man used her daughter's cell phone to make calls to the family, claiming he killed her. Melissa Barthelemy's body is one of eight settles of remains discovered on Long Island since December.
Japanese officials today ordered owners of the Fukushima Daiichi power plant to pay up to $12,000 to households disrupted by the nuclear accident. So far, more than 146,000 people have been directly affected by the disaster, putting initial payments at about $600 million.
And founders of the three largest online poker sites have been indicted on bank fraud and money laundering charges. The indictment alleges the offshore companies got around gambling laws by disguising payments to make it look like U.S. Residents were buying everything from jewelry to golf balls from fake online stores. John, it wasn't long ago that people in Washington were talking about legalizing online gambling.
I'm shocked they're trying to go around the rules. My goodness. Thanks, Joe.
Thanks, Joe, have a great weekend. And thank you for watching.
I'm John King. "A 360 Special: Captured in Libya," that's next.