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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Iran Supporting Syria?; Politics of Gas Prices
Aired March 9, 2012 - 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: It's 10:00 here on the East Coast. Good evening everyone.
We begin tonight with breaking news: new word from senior U.S. intelligence officials that Syria's dictator, Bashar al Assad, still has solid support within his inner circle, that he is in charge, in control, and is going to, in their words, fight very hard.
In other words, expect the slaughter that took at least 85 lives today alone, according to activists and thousands in the last year, to continue.
In addition, those same sources outlined the help Assad is getting from Iran, both in weapons and computer expertise to root out opposition, in other words, help in targeting its own people.
Barbara Starr broke the story. She is at the Pentagon tonight. Also, with us tonight, former CIA officer and TIME.com intelligence columnist Robert Baer, and Fouad Ajami, senior fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution.
Barbara, even though we have words they have more defections from the Syrian army, you're hearing that Bashar Al-Assad has a firm grip on power in Syria.
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, Anderson. I spoke with three separate senior intelligence officials. The assessment is all in agreement. Assad remains in control, in charge, commanding his forces. There is no break, they believe in the inner circle around him. You see these defections. You see some generals fling. But this is not his critical inner circle.
They have closed ranks, they have determined to fight, they have talked themselves into it. One of the officials says that they are fighting an insurgency and they believe right now they will win. And sadly, Anderson, the opposition remains fractured and unable to really mount an effective counter offensive according to these officials.
COOPER: Does this surprise you here?
FOUAD AJAMI, PROFESSOR OF MIDDLE EASTERN STUDIES, JOHNS HOPKINS SCHOOL OF ADVANCED INTERNATIONAL STUDIES: Not really.
But I'm not really sure about the quality of the American intelligence around Syria. And when we say that the inner circle around him is still tight and the inner circle is reliable. Who's the inner circle? Is it his brother, his brother Maher, his brother-in- law, Shawkat? Yes, that inner circle is going to be with him throughout. They will flee with him. They will fight with him and most likely they will die with him when it comes to it. He's had a good month. He's had a good month, Bashar al Assad. He looked at the democracies. He looked at the comfort in Tunis, the friends of Syria, nothing came out of it. He hears what the American officials are saying. He hears General Dempsey saying their defense system in Syria is robust. He hears secretary of state Clinton rebuking the Syrian people and questioning their commitment to them, I think they tried the things hey, you know, this has been a good run.
COOPER: And in Homs now, basically they won. I mean, they were able to decimate the Baba Amr and move in with their forces. Do you feel that the Assad regime believes the worst has passed?
AJAMI: I think so. If you really want to read their mind. I mean, their minds must be. We have taken the worst that our enemies can give us. And now they look and see what the international community has sent their way, the Arab league and the United Nations has sent their way, none other than former secretary, chairman of the U.N., Kofi Annan. Kofi Annan has been a friend of dictators throughout. I mean, there is something he says which is very remarkable as he prepared for his mission.
He says we have to be careful we don't introduce a medicine that's worst than the disease. We don't have to go very far in the region to find an example of what I'm talking about, meaning Iraq. So this is the envoy, already saying that no rescue is coming for the Syrian people.
COOPER: Bob Baer, you say the Syrian military is basically built not to fight foreign wars but to put down uprisings like this.
ROBERT BAER, INTELLIGENCE ANALYST, TIME.COM: Put down suppression, put down mainly coup d'etats.
When I was in Syria, I was there in the coup d'etat in the '80s and the only tanks you came out in the street were the tanks came out by the alley whites with minority regime which Bashar is part of. The father huff is Al-Assad made sure that every single officer in control of every key unit was an alley white.
He could be a captain and he could overrule a colonel in the same units, making sure those tanks stay with the regime. The same goes for the air force, the same goes for the helicopters and I don't think we're going to see any units, cohesive units defecting to the rebels. And this is why it is going to go on for so long. And another thing, Anderson, is that the Arabs are not helping all that much. I mean, these people really do need weapons. They do need supplies and they're holding back on it so far.
COOPER: Barbara, what are U.S. intelligence officials telling you about this report that Iran is giving Syria throughout the uprising. Obviously they have a very good track record of suppressing their own people or they are giving them the tool to do that in Syria? STARR: Well, you know, Anderson. The word you just used tools about is exactly the right one, though, don't even think about the weapons just yet. Think about the computer tools that Iran is giving to Syria. The very same things they use to suppress their own people in Tehran and on the streets of Iran.
The Web searching, the social media tracking tools, all these high tack computer tools now coming from Iran into the Syrian regime so they can track down the people making these you tube videos, putting out these social media messages and broadcasts that the world has been looking at for so many weeks now. That's part of what Iran is giving them.
They are also giving them small arms. Syria is also now flying, we are told, UAVs, the unmanned drones, some coming from Iran in the past to fly over Syrian cities and towns and look for the opposition so they can better target, they are now targeting. We know this from the imagery we saw today, mosques, hospitals even playgrounds where they believe the so-called opponents of the regime are hiding out. And, of course, they wind up killing men, women and children, civilians on the streets of Syria. What it will take to change it remains to be seen. The U.S. military, very hard to go in there and do strikes on the military.
COOPER: Fouad, Iranians is committed to Syria until the end.
AJAMI: Of course. Of course. And this is -- the Iranians understand that there's a fight over the region as a whole and they understand that the center of that fight is none other than Syria. They know they're committed to this fight and they know their access to the Mediterranean, and their access to Beirut, their access to Hezbollah which is really center of the Iranian regime. It's dependent on a very friendly regime. And Damascus, they will fight for this regime. The Russians will fight for the Syrian regime.
The question is as Bob said, there it is. Will the Arabs finance, if you will, these rebellions? Will the Americans come to the rescue of this rebellion? And I think the Syrian people are discovering they dwell alone in the world. Nothing really has come their way. No break has come their way.
COOPER: Bob, do you think that the Syrians are probably believing that the worst for the regime has passed, that they kind of dodged any bullet that will be coming and convey they can cling to power?
BAER: I think, it's the chances are good, in a rebellion like this, you don't want to make a firm prediction but they are doing a lot better than they are. The alley whites that I talked to in the regime are very confident. That they are going to survive this. And they support Bashar al Assad, they may not like him, but they think he's weak. But they think he is going to win at the end. And they have to stick with him.
COOPER: And they don't care about the economy being destroyed or whatever, that doesn't matter. ? BAER: They don't care about that. They only care about clinging to power and they're never going to give up.
COOPER: Bob Baer, appreciate your expertise. Fouad Ajami as well. Barbara Starr, your reporting. Thank you so much. Let us know you what you think. We are on Facebook, Google+. Follow me on Twitter right now @AndersonCooper.
Up next, claims that some of the Republican challengers are making about President Obama's handling of the economy and promises they are making about things like bringing back cheap gasoline.
We're "Keeping Them Honest" on that.
And later, it's been a year after Japan's nuclear disaster. We have got under cover video from inside the crippled power station, amazing stuff revealing who is doing the risky clean up and also why the man who made the video says the company is lying, those are his words, about the real danger proposed by the plant.
COOPER: "Keeping Them Honest" now on campaign statements the Republican challengers are making about the state of the economy that don't really stand up to the facts, which is not to say that the economy is in great shape. It's a very mixed picture, to say the least.
New numbers out today show employers adding 227,000 jobs last month and 1.7 million since the recession officially ended back in mid 2009. Take a look at the change in mid 2008 and 2009 when the economy was bleeding almost a million jobs a month. You can see the progress since then, though to many it doesn't feel like it.
At the same time, the jobless rate after declining from a peak at ten percent, now remains stuck at 8.3 percent because more people entered the work force. So, it's anything but morning in America, and there's plenty for the Republican candidates to challenge President Obama on without trying to twist the facts or may claims that simply cannot be supported by fact.
Mitt Romney who's made his business experience and the economy two pillars of his campaign, today had no direct comment on the jobs report. But in talking about the economy, he's often slamming Obama for something it turns out the president never actually said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Don't forget back in January when the president had just been reelected or elected for the first time. He said that if we let him borrow $787 billion he would hold unemployment below 8 percent. The 8 percent number was a frightening number. And it has not been below 8 percent ever since.
(END VIDEO CLIP) COOPER: Well, "Keeping Them Honest," President Obama has never said that, never made that comment. But he's been repeated so many times including by Governor Romney, that a lot of people think it's true.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROMNEY: Three years ago, a newly elected President Obama told American that if Congress approved his plan to borrow nearly a trillion dollars, he would hold unemployment below 8 percent, below 8 percent, below 8 percent, below 8 percent, 8 percent.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, "Keeping Them Honest," the "Washington Post" fact- checked this in detail. They discovered that the 8 percent number came from a report done three weeks before President Obama took the oath of office. A preliminary assessment by two of his economic advisers. It did predict that a $775 billion stimulus, might hold unemployment to 8 percent. But this was only in an early assessment, not a hard and fast prediction. And certainly, not a presidential promise.
The bottom line, Mr. Obama never said it. And then there's Newt Gingrich who put out a statement today on the jobless numbers. He acknowledge the improvement and quickly pivoted to a promise of $2.50 a gallon gasoline, a pledge he makes almost daily now on the campaign trail.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NEWT GINGRICH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I am suggesting to you that somewhere around $2 to $2.50 the oil companies make enough money to develop enough oil supplies that we are independent and we keep the price down to a level you can afford.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: But "Keeping Them Honest" though, he's appealing as it sound, it's simply a promise that no candidate or president of either party, President Obama included has ever been able to keep.
That said, as we mentioned at the top, there's plenty to hold the president accountable for without resorting to stretching the truth. The jobless picture is improving, but it's hardly good.
Let's talk about raw politics. I talked about it tonight with the liberal economist and former labor secretary, Robert Reich. He's at University of California Barkley. He is the author of "After shock, the next economy in America's future." Also, GOP's strategist, Rich Galen.
COOPER: Mr. Secretary, adding new jobs is obviously a good thing, there are still millions of people out of work, the president is certainly not out of the woods, right?
ROBERT REICH, FORMER LABOR SECRETARY: No, there's still a long way to go, Anderson. There's been about $10 billion jobs either lost since the beginning of the recession or that should have been made up given the growth of the population. So, there is a very way long to go even if the job market continued to do this well for the next, for the next five years, we would still just about get back to where we were before the recession started.
COOPER: And Rich, rather than addressing today's job numbers, Romney makes the argument that President Obama vowed to keep the unemployment rate below 8 percent which isn't even true. But if he's going to run on his ability to turn the economy around, he has got to come up with something more than that, doesn't he?
RICH GALEN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think what he said a week and a half ago was a better argument. And that was that, you know, the unemployment numbers are good numbers. You can't root for higher unemployment.
But that if Romney would say, look, I mean, people -- the unemployment might go down faster, people -- if jobs would be created faster, if government -- if businesses had more confidence in what was over the horizon. Every time they hear the kind of class warfare card being played by the administration, it stops them cold in their tracks, wait another month, or wait another month.
So I think Romney has a good case to make that American business needs stability and needs kind of optimism. But talking about what somebody said, you know, nobody's going to want to go back to what Romney said, you know, back when he was Massachusetts governor either.
COOPER: Mr. Secretary, Newt Gingrich, he responded to today's numbers by again touting his ability to get gas back down to $2. 50 which by all accounts no president really has the ability to do.
REICH: No. No president has figured out how to do that because the price of gas is largely set by international markets, oil markets, some speculators. No. There's nothing that the president can do in the short-term about gas prices but it looks as though consumers really have not been terribly bothered by gas prices, Anderson.
Consumer spending has been increasing at a moderate level. Inventories are being rebuilt by manufacturers and by wholesalers. A lot of that economic activity is translated into relatively healthy, slow, but relatively healthy job numbers.
COOPER: Rich, where former speaker Gingrich's spokesperson, when you hear him say he can get gas prices down to $2. 50 go you buy that?
GALEN: No. But it's something that he's been running on even when he wasn't running, drill here, drill now. There are things we can do to put downward pressure on gas prices, but to say that you can reduce them by a buck and a half any time in the near term just doesn't make any sense. But going back to what the secretary was talking about, there are a lot of things that are just out of a president's control, this president or anybody else, international oil numbers are one. You know, the European economy is not within the purview of the president of the United States. He's wholly dependent on Angela Merkel to keep that going. There are a lot of things that can go wrong and because the president happens to be the president, it will fall to him.
But I think that given what he has got going for him, from a Republican standpoint, if he would just -- if the president would just turn his attention to helping businesses understand that they can now begin to make longer range plans, I think that would go longer to helping the economy speed up, tick up a little bit more.
COOPER: Mr. Secretary, I'm curious. You were active in Massachusetts politics when Romney was governor. You ran the Democratic primary. You know his ability to harness a specific message. Is Romney still a candidate that President Obama should fear most?
REICH: Well, I would have said yes four or five months ago, Anderson,. I'm less certain of that right now. I mean, Romney certainly has more appeal to independents and centrists than, say, Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich.
But the economy, when the economy was so clearly bad, when jobs were not being create, when people were so worried about jobs, having somebody like Mitt Romney who could come in and say, well, I was a business person. I know how to create jobs. I have created them before, was more of a challenge it seems to me than Mitt Romney might be right be right now. Most people do believe and they see the evidence that jobs are coming back.
COOPER: Secretary Reich, appreciate your time. Rich Galen, thank you.
GALEN: You bet.
REICH: Thank you.
COOPER: Coming up, a really interesting report. A year after Japan's nuclear disaster, a writer went undercover inside the plant in Fukushima and found out why workers are risking their lives still. He says that the workers speak out for themselves, they'll be fired.
Also ahead: a chapter in American history -- it's hard to believe -- sterilizing people against their will. It happened to tens of thousands of Americans. California was the worst offender, but is the state now doing anything at all to even acknowledge that?
We're "Keeping Them Honest."
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) COOPER: It's hard to believe this Sunday marks one year since a 9.0-magnitude earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster changed everything in Japan.
A year later, the pictures from the tsunami are still hard to comprehend, still horrifying, the numbers staggering, nearly 16,000 dead, and more than 3,300 still listed as missing, damage in the hundreds of billions of dollars.
Here's just a small part of the devastation we saw when we were in Japan this time last year.
COOPER (voice-over): Last week, there were some 20 homes in this area, now there are none.
The house you're seeing here, he says, wasn't here before, it was swept here by the wave. The houses that were here, were completely washed away.
Osumu Takada (ph) says only one of his neighbors bodies has been found. He's not sure how many more may have died.
There is no contact, he says, there are no phones, no Internet. The people in the neighborhood, they haven't been back, those that died might be right over here under the water, under the wreckage.
Other than the sound of choppers, there's mostly silence, sometimes you hear a bird. Or something rustling in the wind, but the silence always returns.
In the wreckage you mind all manner of things, children's dolls, empty shoes, wedding photos covered in mud.
As we left, a squad of Japanese soldiers arrived to do a cursory search. They go by smell, moving fast. There are just too much grounds to cover, too many more neighborhoods to search.
COOPER: On top, the earthquake and the tsunami, Japan is still grasping with the nuclear disaster, as serious as true noble. The disaster could take up to 40 years to be completely under control.
Now, the meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant left an exclusion zone, extending for miles, mandatory evacuations homes, farms abandoned, animals left behind.
There was concern about the workers at the plant, the radiation levels they were being exposed to and whether Tokyo electric power company was being forthright about the dangers the workers were actually facing.
Well, a year later, radiation is still leaking, and they are still cleanup work going at the plant, but not by nuclear engineers. To find out what's really going on, who the workers are and why they're risking their health, a writer went under cover with a hidden camera.
Kyung Lah reports.
KYUNG LAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Inside a nuclear disaster.
These are the nameless men tasked with cleaning up the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant. Nearly one year ago, this was the site of a triple meltdown, a force so powerful, radiation still leaks today. A 12-mile radius around the plant remains a nuclear wasteland, and yet these workers operate around the clock, trying to radiation and nuclear fuel amid the melted steel of the blown reactor buildings.
Author Tomohiko Suzuki wanted to know more about these men who risk their lives for so little in return. So he disguised himself as a fellow contract laborer. He's looking into a small video camera...
(on camera): This is the lens.
(voice-over) ... disguised as a wristwatch. For six weeks, he captured images of daily life as a day hire. He came within feet of the crippled rectors. You can see the gaping holes left when nuclear fuel exploded through the walls. He drove past tanks holding contaminated water.
Today 6,000 gallons of emergency water is still being sprayed into the reactor buildings so the melted nuclear fuel doesn't overheat and spiral out of control again.
Suzuki documented what he saw and the workers he met in the recently published book.
What is the primary message of your book?
"Stop lying," he says.
What is this lie that you're talking about?
"There's no way you won't be radioactively contaminated if you work at the nuclear clear plant," Suzuki says. The Tokyo Electric Company, or TEPCO, tells CNN it has nothing to say about Suzuki's book. But the company maintains worker safety is a high priority and protection from radiation exposure has improved since the early days of the disaster.
But they do not dispute the scientific fact. This job puts workers at risk and it is that fact, Suzuki says, that explains why the men he met at Fukushima are average people not nuclear engineers.
(on camera): We know little about the workers cleaning up the Fukushima nuclear plant. Many we have tried to interviews say that they are worried they will lose their jobs if they will talk. Suzuki says he has heard that again and again, a fear that if the workers tell the public what it's like to work inside the plant, they will be fired.
(voice-over): CNN was part of a recent media tour of the Fukushima nuclear plants where TEPCO hand selected workers for reporters to interview. Sotoshi Tarumi (ph) is a contracted Toshiba worker for the nuclear plant.
(on camera): You're a young man. You're 33 years old. Why have continued to work here?
"This accident happened at any plant," he says. "It's my mission to keep working here."
That sort of hero narrative is what TEPCO wants the public to hear, says Suzuki, not the real story.
(on camera): Why are people working here?
(voice-over): "For the money," he says. "They're not worried about the health risks decades down the line. Today's bread, tomorrow's meal, rent for next month, that's what they worried about."
Kyung Lah, CNN, Tokyo.
COOPER: Fascinating to get a look inside.
We talked a lot with Michael Friedlander in the days and months after the disaster in Japan. He is the former senior operator of three power plants. He joins us live in New York.
Are these -- is this much more stable than it was a year ago?
MICHAEL FRIEDLANDER, FORMER NUCLEAR PLANT OPERATOR: Anderson, there's really two issues here.
Number one, the reactor plant themselves, as you have heard me say, they are as stable today as they were last April. They continue to be on feet and glee crosses for the pumping water in, water is draining out the bottom, they sucked it out, it goes into these tanks, and they continue injecting it. But --
COOPER: So, when you say they are as stable mean, they're not very stable?
FRIEDLANDER: It's a -- without splitting hairs, the situation is that the residual energy inside the reactor is quite low. So, as long as they can continue pumping the water into the reactors, they like to grow any other issues is quite -- .
COOPER: But the water itself --
FRIEDLANDER: The water itself is the issue. Because essentially they're not processing the water. The water is basically being collected. It's going into these massive tank farms.
COOPER: Right. We saw some videos of these tanks. They're just -- they are basically just holding radioactive water?
And what we worry about is that you can see that those are not seismically qualified tanks. What happens if we have another earthquake?
They're -- they're certainly not protected from missiles. So what happens if a typhoon comes through, because we're getting ready to enter typhoon season again? We were lucky last year. There was only one near-miss with a typhoon. But we may not be that lucky this year.
COOPER: So ultimately, what are they going to do with that water? I mean, do they dump it in the ocean?
FRIEDLANDER: There's only one answer, and it's going to have to be they clean it up as best they can, which is quite clean, but there are radioactive elements that cannot be removed by conventional means. And so at the end of the day, once it's been as cleaned as it can get, it has to be released into the environment, dumped into the ocean or the atmosphere. That is the only way to process it.
COOPER: Is that a danger?
FRIEDLANDER: When it's done in a controlled manner, where you're monitoring it, the rates are controlled, we know what's going in there, we can assess wind conditions and currents and things like that, it can be managed, and it can be managed quite safely. This is, in fact, the issue, because if they would start doing that and it can be managed, that's not an issue. But what happens if we have an earthquake in this country or if we have millions of gallons of water...
COOPER: The government of Japan declared the reactors in cold shutdown a couple months ago. A, is that true. And B, do you agree with that writer who said they need to stop the lies? Are there lies?
FRIEDLANDER: I'm not there. So I don't have first-hand knowledge. I get my news the same place you do.
What I think is going on, let me answer the first question, in terms of the plants being in cold shutdown. Cold shutdown is a very technical definition in nuclear reactor plants. And technically, they meet the definition of cold shutdown.
The problem is, is that cold shutdown implies that the facility is in a stable condition and that the equipment and pumps and control room is being manned and that you're in a situation where if there's an upset situation, you're in a situation where you can manage it.
COOPER: And that's not the case?
FRIEDLANDER: That's certainly not the case. And so to call this cold shutdown, is really not appropriate. They should not be using that terminology.
Is the government lying? Again, I get my news the same place you do. I think that a strong case could be made that they're stretching the truth.
COOPER: There have been a lot of reports of low-level radiation on the ground. How big a concern is that in surrounding areas?
FRIEDLANDER: You know, Sanjay Gupta has indicated previously that there's a gap between what we know and what worries us, and that is absolutely the case.
Low-level radiation, chronic exposure to low-level radiation has been studied ridiculously, millions and millions of dollars over the last 60 years, since we've been implementing the nuclear technology. And the reality of it is, is all of the studies have been done globally basically lead us to inconclusive results. We can't say that it's safe. We can't say that it's not safe. We just don't know. Because the studies basically don't give us any hard conclusions.
COOPER: And this could go on for a long time?
FRIEDLANDER: This is going to go on for decades. And so -- so we're in a situation where we don't really know what the chronic affects of exposure to low level radiation are.
COOPER: Michael Friedlander, appreciate you being in. Thank you very much.
Still ahead, part two of our investigation to get answers that this man deserves. The state of California forcibly sterilized him when he was just 14 years old. He's now 82 years old. He's battling cancer, and he's still waiting for the state of California to make amends. We're "Keeping Them Honest."
Also ahead, the documentary, "Kony 2012," it has exploded on the Internet, more than 10 million hits. The mission is to capture the Ugandan warlord, Joseph Kony, who has alluded arrest for 25 years. Coming up, one of the few western journalists who's actually ever been face to face with Kony describes what he's really like.
COOPER: "Keeping Them Honest" report: last night we told you about one man's dying wish. And the trouble he's had getting anyone with the power to help him to listen.
He's asking the state of California to make amends for a wrong that can really never be made right. He was sterilized against his will, something that seems unthinkable today, but it went on for decades in more than half the states in America, and eugenics had plenty of powerful supporters in the country.
The sheer numbers of forced sterilizations, California led the nation by far, but it hasn't paid a single penny to compensate any of the victims.
"Keeping Them Honest," Elizabeth Cohen went looking for answers. Here's part two of her report.
ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (VOICE-OVER): Charlie Follett was 14 years old when he had a vasectomy. If you think that sounds more than just a little young for the procedure, you'd be right. He got it because the state of California forced him to.
CHARLIE FOLLETT, VICTIM, FORCED STERILIZATION: First they shot me with some kind of medicine, supposed to deaden the nerve, and then the next thing I heard was snip, snip and that was it.
COHEN: Follett was one of 20,000 Californians who were sterilized against their will back in the heyday of the state's eugenics program in the 1930s and '40s. The goal: weed out the so- call feeble-minded to create a more desirable population. Follett was chosen back then simply because he lived in a state-run home.
Now 82, Follett wants compensation for what the state did to him.
The governor of the state of North Carolina proposed paying its eugenics victims $50,000. But so far, California's offered nothing more than this: a statement issued back in 2003, saying in part, "It was a sad and regrettable chapter in the state's history, and it is one that must never be repeated again."
"Keeping Them Honest," I went to California to get some answers from the state's leaders.
(on camera) We have been calling and e-mailing your office for a long time now.
(voice-over) Governor Edmond Brown wouldn't talk to us but did send a statement regretting the harm done to victims. We asked again about his policy on reparations. His office told us we have nothing more to add.
We sought out another politician we'd been trying to contact, assembly speaker John Perez.
(ON CAMERA) Can we speak to him?
JOHN VIGNA, SPOKESMAN FOR ASSEMBLY SPEAKER JOHN PEREZ: He's actually tied up in meetings right now.
COHEN (voice-over): His spokesman, John Vigna.
VIGNA: This is an issue I personally am just learning about. I'm looking into it. COHEN: Senate Majority Leader Ellen Corbin wouldn't speak to us either. Her spokesman, Andrew Lamar.
(on camera) Andy, why hasn't anything happened since then?
ANDREW LAMAR, SPOKESMAN, MAJORITY LEADER ELLEN CORBIN: That's a good question.
COHEN (voice-over): Follett now has lung cancer and just celebrated his birthday in the hospital. He said he'd use any money he got to buy a place of his own and live out his last few years independently. Tragically aware that California's eugenics policy worked exactly as intended, he has no children.
FOLLETT: It really teed me off, because (UNINTELLIGIBLE) my life's gone now.
COHEN (on camera): There will be no more Folletts.
FOLLETT: If I die tomorrow, everything has died.
COHEN: Whether he and other victims will get justice or just die away is up to politicians in California.
COOPER: Elizabeth, what's so incredible is I think you said last night about 60,000 people were forcibly sterilized in the United States over the years in different states. Why do you think that California politicians are so unwilling to talk to you?
COHEN: Anderson, I think there are a couple of reasons. First, I'm not sure how familiar the legislators are with the history, with what actually happened.
Second of all, you have a, you know, severe budgetary problems in California. So the thought of actually having to pay people more money is probably not a -- something that would be very popular right now.
But I think really the main reason might be is that politicians respond to pressure. And there's no cohesive organized movement on behalf of these victims. You know, many of them are very, very old, and there's a certain shame and stigma to talking about something so private.
COOPER: The other incredible thing which I didn't know until I heard your report last night is that Nazi Germany actually admired the U.S. program and learned from it.
COHEN: That's right. In the 1930s, the Nazis took notice of what they were doing in California, saw how successful they were -- their numbers were really amazing -- and they actually -- the Nazis approached California's leaders and said, "Hey, can you help us? We have some questions for you." And the California eugenics leaders sent the Nazis information, books and articles and charts to help them out. And it was a very cordial correspondence between the Nazis and the California eugenics...
COOPER: Incredible. What's next for that man, Charlie? Charlie Follett.
COHEN: Charlie Follett just got discharged from the hospital where you see him now. And so he's doing better, but he still has lung cancer. He is an -- you know, an older gentleman, and I think he's sort of feeling, what does he do next? He's already tried to contact the governor, the attorney general, the state assemblywoman, and I think he really feels that he doesn't quite know what to do next, what his next step would be.
COOPER: And he's on his own, because the state of California made it impossible for him to have a family. It's incredible.
COHEN: That's right. He doesn't have a family.
COOPER: Elizabeth Cohen, appreciate it. Thanks.
Up next, if Joseph Kony was not the most wanted man in the world, he may be now. The video "Kony 2012" got more than 50 million YouTube views this week alone. We're going to talk to one of the few western journalists who's actually met the Ugandan warlord face-to-face.
Also ahead tonight, it's incredible. Passengers restrain a flight attendant after she makes frightening announcements over the plane's intercom, including, quote, screaming, "I'm not responsible if this plane crashes."
And a so-called soccer mom madam speaks out in an exclusive interview. Hear what she has to say.
COOPER: More tonight on "Kony 2012," the documentary about Ugandan warlord Joseph Kony that has gone viral. It's now more than 70 million views. Here's just some of it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For 26 years, Kony has been kidnapping children into his rebel group, the LRA, turning the girls into sex slaves and the boys into child soldiers. He makes them mutilate people's faces, and he forces them to kill their own parents.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: A former child soldier named Jacob appears in the film. His brother was killed by Kony's forces, and Jacob witnessed the murder.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He told me more about his brother and what he would say to him if he were still alive.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I love you, but now I miss you, so it is better when we meet. We are not going to meet, but we may meet in heaven. So it is better. You see? It will start something, because if I saw my brother once again, I don't...
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Joseph Kony tops the International Criminal Court's most wanted list. The filmmakers, a nonprofit group called Invisible Children, are calling for his arrest by the end of 2012. They're asking people to put up yard signs and posters, to wear bracelets, write their lawmakers. They want everyone to know who Kony is.
Arresting Kony, though is not going to be easy. He's eluded capture for years now.
Matthew Green of "Financial Times" is one of the few western journalists who's actually been face-to-face with Joseph Kony. He's also the author of "The Wizard of the Nile: The Hunt for Africa's Most Wanted." I talked to him earlier.
COOPER: Matthew, Kony has now become the Internet's most hated man in a matter of days from this video. You actually went on a quest to find him. What was that like?
MATTHEW GREEN, "FINANCIAL TIMES": It was an incredible journey. Took practically months to track this guy down. He very rarely appears out of his jungle hideout. And it was only after a long and very protracted journey that I was actually able to catch up with him in a clearing in eastern Congo.
I mean, it was a remarkable scene to see him finally emerge out of the bush, dressed in a white suit, and flanked by a kind of phalanx of child soldiers, carrying rifles and sort of flopping along in their Wellington boots. So it was really a remarkable scene.
COOPER: What was he like?
GREEN: Well, the amazing thing was, is that this man is an almost mythical figure in northern Uganda. He's a man who inspires terror in the entire community. He takes orders from a holy spirit.
Yet when he appeared in person, he almost seems more frightened of us than we were of him. He came forward and presented himself to his visitors, and he said in an almost quavering voice, "I'm a man. I'm a human being. I'm Joseph Kony." As if to say that this was really him, that he wasn't some mythical figure, that he was, in fact, just an ordinary person.
COOPER: Did he seem rational to you? I mean, many of his methods seem -- I mean, they're certainly extreme and horrific. Did he seem like a rational person?
GREEN: Well, that's right. It was very difficult to tell. I've spent a lot of time talking to abductees who escaped from his ranks who would talk about a man whose personality would change in a heartbeat. He'd go from being kind and almost joking with his abducted children, to suddenly turning into a raging, terrifying figure.
But we saw a different side of him. When he first appeared, emerging into this clearing out of his kingdom, if you will, in the forest, he looked genuinely worried.
But then I had the chance to see him a few days later, addressing elders from his native northern Uganda, and he cut an incredibly captivating, confident, powerful figure, speaking with an almost musical voice. It was clear that his audience were hanging on his every world.
So we did get a glimpse of that charisma which is part of the reason that his rebel movement has survived for as long as it has.
COOPER: That goes to my next question. How is it possible that he has been able to survive out there for more than 25 years?
GREEN: Well, that's right. It's bizarre to think that one man leading this organization kind of evaded pursuit or evaded capture for such a long time.
But of course, the story of the Lord's Resistance Army is a long and complicated one. It's not a simple story.
But part of it is, of course, this man's incredibly magnetic, powerful personality. His methods are brutal. He doesn't hesitate to order his abductees to commit terrible atrocities.
Yet many of them come back with an almost -- a sense of awe for this man, a sense of fear, and a sense that he really does have some sort of mystical power, some sort of presence that makes him very difficult to resist.
COOPER: Matthew Green. Appreciate it, Matthew. Thank you.
COOPER: One final note: some have criticized the Invisible Children, the group that made "Kony 2012," for simplifying the story of Uganda's conflict. Critics also raised questions about the nonprofit group's finances.
Invisible Children has responded to the criticism on its Web site. It's also posted the financial statements going back to 2006. You can find all that at InvisibleChildren.com.
Deborah Feyerick joins us now with a "360 News & Business Bulletin" -- Deborah. DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, police have identified the gunman who opened fire in a Pittsburgh psychiatric hospital. Thirty-year-old John Shick killed a hospital employee and wounded seven others yesterday before he was shot dead by officers. Five of the wounded are still hospitalized. Still no motive for the shootings.
A lot of commotion aboard a flight preparing to take off this morning in Dallas. A flight attendant got on a jet intercom and repeatedly ranted to passengers that she was not responsible for the safety of the plane. She was wrestled to the floor by crew and passengers, and then the plane returned to the gate.
The woman alleged to be the Manhattan madam is speaking out from behind bars. Prosecutors accused Anna Gristina of running a brothel that caters to extremely wealthy clients. She tells "The New York Post" she was grilled repeatedly by prosecutors who demanded she spill the beans on powerful New Yorkers.
And the Illinois house that be -- that was used in the popular movie "Home Alone," it sold for nearly $1.6 million. But Anderson, the buyer got a great deal. When the first house went on the market last year, it was listed for almost 2.5 million -- Anderson.
COOPER: Take a look at "The Shot," Deborah. Tonight, the story of a great escape. A baby learns early in life the adage, if at first you don't succeed, try, try again. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: The parents wondered how he kept getting out of his crib, so they put a camera on his dresser, and...
FEYERICK: You know, it makes perfect sense. Now I think what they should do is put padding on the back wall and probably a stuffed cushion on the floor.
No one was hurt. I can't believe that little kid, the way he went over there. He got up and did it again.
COOPER: I know. It's incredible.
Deborah, thanks very much. Have a great weekend.
Coming up, how many bikinis does it take to get into "The Guinness Book of World Records"? "The RidicuList" is next.
COOPER: Time now for "The RidicuList." And tonight, we're adding Australia. That's right. Australia thought it was just so cool back in October when it set the Guinness record for world's largest bikini parade. The 357 women taking part down under. Australia believed it's thong and winding road to victory would certainly hold for years to come.
But perhaps Australia never heard of a little thing we like to call spring break, Panama City, Florida. That's right: I'm happy to report that this week the United States broke the record in the highly coveted bikini parade category.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Four hundred and 50 people took part and set the new Guinness world record for Panama City Beach, USA.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: USA, USA! That was Guinness -- a guy from Guinness, Philip Robertson. I don't know why I did that.
You don't just -- you don't often hear about Guinness on spring break, but it's not like there's a Bud Light Book of World Records, so they had to make do.
The Guinness people were out in full force, making sure everything was on the up and up. It was all very official there. Interestingly, it also marked the first time the phrase "bikini inspector" has been used literally since the days of "Kids in the Hall."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I inspect bikinis. It's my job. I don't know why anyone would pretend to be a bikini inspector. It's a menial job. You've got to take a bus there every day. There's an hour right there. You work in a dank factory. You've got inspect four or 5,000 units. Your eyes start to go buggy and squinty.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: So as is often the case on spring break, the Panama City bikini parade was all about patriotism.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: USA, USA!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: USA, USA!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: USA, USA!
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is the most exciting day of my life. Like, tears were coming out of my eyes. I'm so proud of the United States.
(END VIDEO CLIP) COOPER: USA, yes! Woo! No. 1!
All right. Been a long week.
There are two pieces to this story, really. There's the patriotism and then there's the undeniable historical importance of the event.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Put your hands up in the air. You're part of history right now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: What? I didn't hear a word they said. That's right. The bikini parade is just the latest in a long, proud tradition of women getting together to march for a cause. It's not unlike the many women's suffragette parades in the early 1900s. The only real difference, I'm not 100 percent sure about this, but there might have been just a touch more "wooing" at the bikini parade.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Woo! It's been a very long week. Did I mention that?
As spring break events go, I've got to say: this one is pretty much girls gone wild. There are much, much worse things that can happen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KRISTEN WIIG, CAST MEMBER, NBC'S "SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE": Last year in the grill, they had great shower heads on the beach that shot rum in your mouth. It was awesome.
MAYA RUDOLPH, FORMER CAST MEMBER, NBC'S "SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE": Last year, my friend went to this little island off the coast of Haiti because the place had an all-you-can-suck beer hose.
WIIG: Did she like it?
RUDOLPH: I don't know. They can't find her.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: So tonight, let us lift our voices into a rousing chorus, echoing a resounding "woo," for the title of World's Largest Bikini Parade belongs to the U.S., and here it should remain for all time, or until Australia can round up 94 more women in bikinis.
OK. That's it for us. Thanks for watching. "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts now.