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Zimmerman Apologizes; Violence Continues in Syria

Aired April 20, 2012 - 22:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, everyone. It's 10:00 here on the East Coast.

And we begin as always tonight "Keeping Them Honest" with the Trayvon Martin case, a story that so far has left nearly everything, every key moment open to interpretation. That did not change much today. But it was a pretty dramatic and stunning day in court today, George Zimmerman actually taking the stand. For the first time since he shot and killed Trayvon Martin, he spoke publicly about what happened that night talking directly to Martin's parents.


GEORGE ZIMMERMAN, DEFENDANT: I wanted to say I am sorry for the loss of your son. I did not know how old he was. I thought he was a little younger than I am. And I did not know if he was armed or not.


COOPER: That expression of regret as you will see did not move Trayvon Martin's family. It did, however, as you will also see tonight inject high drama into a bond hearing that many thought would be routine.

It was not. Zimmerman's apology was only part of the reason why. Today's hearing also exposed some of the strengths and many court watchers believe weaknesses of the prosecution's case. For example, an investigator for the special prosecutor today admitted that he does not know one way or another who threw the first punch, Martin or Zimmerman, even though the second degree murder charge would indicate the state might have some evidence Zimmerman was the aggressor.

Now, additionally he admitted that there was no evidence so far to conflict with Zimmerman's claim that he was attacked by Martin while walking back to his truck. Yet he also testified that the state has evidence raising doubts about other parts of Zimmerman's story including his claim that Trayvon Martin was slamming his head against the ground shortly before he pulled the trigger.

But you add up all the testimony today and you're left once again believing that this tragedy is like one of those inkblot pictures. A Rorschach test. The evidence, at least what we know of it so far does and there's a lot we don't know does not seem to favor any single interpretation.

For instance, there's the video of Zimmerman in police custody the night of the killing. An officer appears to touch him and then wipes his hand. Was it blood? If so, how badly was Zimmerman hurt? Just seconds before, he's seen jumping handcuffed yet unassisted from a police cruiser and then walking smoothly it appears through the station.

Martin supporters call it inconsistent with someone who minutes before according to his statement was being beaten so badly he feared for his life. Yet that same tape also appears to show some kind of injury on the back of Zimmerman's head. What do you see there? Then there's George Zimmerman's call to police.


911 OPERATOR: Are you following him?


911 OPERATOR: OK. We don't need you to do that.



COOPER: The prosecution contends that Zimmerman kept following Martin. Testimony from Martin's girlfriend who was on the phone with him at the time, apparently until the scuffle began seems to bear that out.

Yet Zimmerman claims he lost Martin and was heading back to his truck when Martin beat him to the ground. Today the prosecution admitted they have got no evidence to disprove that. Just some of the pieces that don't add up at least not yet to one clear picture of what happened that night.

About the only clarity today came in the bail amount, $150,000, and the conditions of George Zimmerman's release.

Plenty though to talk about.

First, David Mattingly, who was at the hearing.


DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Everyone expected revelations. Both sides walked into court anticipating new evidence from prosecutors arguing to keep George Zimmerman in jail. No one expected this.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My client wants to make a statement to the court, Your Honor.

MATTINGLY: Wearing a suit and shackles, George Zimmerman shuffled to the witness stand and spoke directly to the parents of Trayvon Martin who were seated in the audience just a few feet away.

G. ZIMMERMAN: I wanted to say I am sorry for the loss of your son. I did not know how old he was. I thought he was a little younger than I am. And I did not know if he was armed or not.

MATTINGLY: But immediately the prosecutor attacked Zimmerman questioning his timing and motivation.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's really addressed to the family and where the media happens to be, correct, Mr. Zimmerman?

G. ZIMMERMAN: No. To the mother and the father.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And tell me, after you committed this crime and you spoke to police, did you ever make that statement to the police, sir? That you were sorry for what you would done or their loss?

G. ZIMMERMAN: No, sir.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You never stated that, did you?

G. ZIMMERMAN: I don't remember what I said. I believe I did say that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You told that to the police?

G. ZIMMERMAN: In one of the statements I said that I felt sorry for the family.


G. ZIMMERMAN: Yes, sir.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So that would be recorded because all those conversations were recorded, right?

G. ZIMMERMAN: Yes, sir.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. And you're sure you said that?

G. ZIMMERMAN: I'm fairly certain.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why did you wait so long to tell Mr. Martin and the victim's mother, the father and mother, why did you wait so long to tell them?

G. ZIMMERMAN: I was told not to communicate with them.

MATTINGLY: The surprise testimony almost overshadowed a stellar day for George Zimmerman's defense. An investigator for the state couldn't answer basic but critical questions. Who threw the first punch?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you know who started the fight?



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you have any evidence that supports who may have started the fight?


MATTINGLY: And did forensic analysis of the recordings determine who is that yelling for help on the 911 calls?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is that part of your investigation?

GILBREATH: Yes, it is.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And has that given you any insight to the extent you're aware of it as to the voice?


MATTINGLY: Fearing for their safety, Zimmerman's family testified by telephone. His father talked about his son's injuries.

ROBERT ZIMMERMAN, FATHER: His face was swollen quite a bit. He had a protective cover over his nose. His lip was swollen and cut. And there were two vertical gashes on the back of his head.

MATTINGLY: His mother talked about Zimmerman's work mentoring African-American children in unsafe neighborhoods.

GLADYS ZIMMERMAN, MOTHER OF GEORGE ZIMMERMAN: But I had told my son please don't go. It's too dangerous. And he said, mom, if I don't go, they don't have nobody.

MATTINGLY: And we heard for the first time from Zimmerman's wife, a student, unemployed and worried about safety.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Have you reported that to the police?

S. ZIMMERMAN: No, I haven't.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Have you reported that to my boss, Ms. Corey, or the state attorney's office so that somebody can investigate?

S. ZIMMERMAN: No, sir.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you keep those threats?

S. ZIMMERMAN: I'm sorry?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you keep that hate mail?


MATTINGLY: The state asked for a million dollar bond. In the end the judge ordered Zimmerman released on a bond of $150,000.

(on camera): And safety remains the overriding concern about George Zimmerman's release from jail. How is he going to escape all this scrutiny and slip back into hiding that he emerged from to turn himself in -- Anderson.


COOPER: David Mattingly, thanks very much. It was really a stunning day in court.

Just ahead our legal panel weighs in on what we learned today. Sunny Hostin, Mark NeJame, and Mark Geragos join us.

But first Martin family attorney Benjamin Crump joins us now live.

Mr. Crump, as you just heard, today was the first time Trayvon's parents as we all know saw George Zimmerman face to face. What was their reaction not just to seeing him but to hearing him talk and that apology?


To be within feet of the killer of your child, it was very emotional. In fact, Mr. Martin wept continuously throughout the hearing. And it was something different because normally he would be the person comforting Sybrina, Trayvon's mother. But this hearing, he was crying and she was comforting him telling him that we have to stay strong.

The apology was very self-serving in their opinion. They did not feel it was sincere at all.

COOPER: Because he had not apologized previously?

CRUMP: Not only had he not apologized previously in 50 days. It's only he wanted to apologize when he was arrested.

And it was one of those situations he had ulterior motives, we believe. It was a situation -- you know, the real George Zimmerman Web site, the Web site that he said he authored, that he was in complete control of, that everything that was important, everything that was relevant that he was -- about this matter he was going to put out there.

Yet in that whole Web site, he never says I'm sorry for taking Trayvon Martin's life. He never shows remorse until he gets in the courtroom. And whether he can go free is riding on it, he says, I'm sorry. It's really interesting. He takes the stand and he's supposed to address the court and he underhandedly tries to put this apology out there to the family. It was one of those things that they really, really thought was very insincere.

COOPER: I hear what you're saying. (CROSSTALK)

COOPER: But, as you know, a lot of times in these kind of situations an attorney talking to George Zimmerman might say and he himself said he was told not to say anything. Not to apologize. Attorneys often say you cannot say anything. Don't say you're sorry because it could be somehow used against you later on.

Are you saying there was a way he could have said I'm sorry that would not have been used against him later on?

CRUMP: Absolutely.

He wasn't following his lawyers' advice before. You heard his former attorneys say he started his own Web site. He was doing what he wanted to do. If he really wanted to say I'm sorry, he could have said I'm sorry on that Web site. He could have left voice messages with his friends when he told them to stay strong for George and this kind of stuff.

He never showed any remorse, Anderson. It's only when it was self-serving today. And Sybrina and Tracy saw right through it. It was hard for them because they kept watching the killer of their son. It was emotional.


COOPER: Let me just ask you..


COOPER: I'm sorry. Let me just ask you. We heard from the special prosecutor what they said on the stand today that they basically -- a lot of court observers felt maybe their case is kind of weak, that they couldn't say for sure who threw the first punch. Does that concern you?

CRUMP: Well, Anderson, we believe that Angela Corey has told us over and over they would not have charged him with second degree murder if they did not feel they could get a conviction.

We believe this was a bond hearing and they didn't want to show their hand. So they were not going to show all the evidence.

COOPER: I see.

CRUMP: But one thing that is real interesting was he took the stand, but yet for some reason the court did not let the state get into his credibility, didn't let them ask him questions. He voluntarily took the stand to make this self-serving apology, but yet he was protected when the state got up and tried to attack his credibility because when you are the defendant, the state can always attack your credibility.

Your credibility is always at issue. And so that was -- that was puzzling why they couldn't inquire of him since he gave up his right against self-recrimination.

COOPER: By getting on -- Benjamin Crump, I appreciate you being on. Thank you.

Let us know what you think at home. We're on Facebook, Google+. Follow me on Twitter @AndersonCooper.

If you watched today's proceedings, tweet me tonight. Let me know what you thought.

We will have more on this. We will show you some of the key moments from today. Question, was it a better day for the defense than the prosecution? Mark Geragos and others, our legal panel weigh in, in just a moment.


COOPER: Self-defense second degree murder or something else? George Zimmerman's story points one way that prosecutor's charging documents points the other. Some say the prosecution's performance in today's bond hearing muddies the water at best and the worst weaken their case. Zimmerman, himself, providing a lot of the drama today apologizing on the stand to the Martin family. And then explaining why he waited so long. Listen.


G. ZIMMERMAN: I felt sorry that they lost their child, yes.

BERNIE DE LA RIONDA, ASSISTANT STATE ATTORNEY: And so you told detectives that you wanted them to convey that to the parents?

G. ZIMMERMAN: I don't know that they were detectives or not.

RIONDA: Officers, I apologize.

G. ZIMMERMAN: I didn't know if they were going to convey it or not. I just made the statement.

RIONDA: OK. And then you said that you called them up or left a message for them to tell them that.

G. ZIMMERMAN: No, sir.

RIONDA: Why did you wait 50 days to tell them, that is the parents?

G. ZIMMERMAN: I don't understand the question, sir.

RIONDA: Why did you wait so long to tell Mr. Martin and the victim's mother, the father and mother. Why did you wait so long to tell them?

G. ZIMMERMAN: I was told not to communicate with them.

(END VIDEO CLIP) COOPER: Let's talk about it today. A big hearing. Lots to talk about. Legal analyst, Mark NeJame, Sunny Hostin is - Mark is Florida defense attorney. She is a former federal prosecutor, also criminal defense attorney. Mark Geragos joins me here in New York.

How do you think the prosecution did? Because we heard from one of the detectives he couldn't say for sure who threw the first punch. Were you surprised though?

MARK GERAGOS, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: I thought it was abysmal.

COOPER: Abysmal.

GERAGOS: You're right. It was an abysmal performance by the prosecution today. If that's all they have, I have said it before on your show. I don't see him getting past immunity here.

COOPER: Benjamin Crump said maybe they didn't want to show their hand. They didn't want to show all they had.

GERAGOS: You know, I guess the best -- that's a nice spin to put on it. But frankly, if that's all they have and everybody was expecting there must be more, there must be more because this probable cause affidavit was so thin. If this is all they have, I don't see how this gets past immunity here.

COOPER: Sunny, do you agree?

SUNNY HOSTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: No. I don't agree. And I'm sorry I'm not in New York today to disagree with Mark in person and in technical. But the bottom line is, this, you know, was a bond hearing, a motion made by the defense. The prosecution relied on the affidavit for probable cause. They weren't going to tip their hand today. They were going to rely on that affidavit.

GERAGOS: I will ask you one thing. You're going to tell me --

HOSTIN: Mark, you know that.

GERAGOS: You are going to tell me based on that affidavit you ever thought you were going to keep him in? Everybody - you know, there was a lot of people yesterday -- all of the prosecution people were all over the air waves saying he's not going to get bond. There's a presumption, blah, blah, blah.

HOSTIN: Not me though. Not me.

GERAGOS: Explain that to me.

HOSTIN: Absolutely.


COOPER: Don't talk all over each other. Sunny, answer. And Mark calls oppression. HOSTIN: The standard is so very high for the prosecution in terms of a bond hearing in Florida. It's beyond, beyond a reasonable doubt. So, I always suspect it that George Zimmerman was going to get some sort of bond package.

COOPER: Mark NeJame, the $150,000 that's well within the realm of where it should be? That's - you weren't surprised by that.

MARK NEJAME, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: well, I was predicting that it would be about $100,000. That's the normal round. I would say though that I disagree with Mark. He classified this as an abysmal hearing. I think he's being very generous.

I think the fact of the matter is that it really didn't even rise to that level. The reality of it is they win ahead and secured by being unprepared by their own admission that they did not have any proof whatsoever of who initiated this or how the encounter occurred. There's no opportunity for them to come back and say they're wrong when they swore to that. They swore to that under oath. That's all the evidence they had.


COOPER: So, when Benjamin Crump says they didn't want to show their hand and talk about all the evidence they had, you say, that you don't think that's true?

NEJAME: Well, as to these two key points, of course it's not true. Because you take the stand and you get asked under oath, what else do you have to establish this or that which is essential elements of this case and they say don't have anything else. They don't have anything else. That was said under oath. They can't come back and claim otherwise.

GERAGOS: Give Mark credit. He sworn in to slammed the prosecutors harder than I was. And he has the practice now.

COOPER: Mark Geragos though, in Zimmerman on the 911 tape, and a lot of people focused on this today. On the 911 tape, says to the operator that he appears to be in his teens, I believe, is what he says. In his late teens. On the stand, Zimmerman today said he thought Trayvon Martin was just a few years younger than him. He is in his late 20's.

Let's play what he said on the stand today.


G. ZIMMERMAN: I wanted to say I am sorry for the loss of your son. I did not know how old he was. I thought he was a little bit younger than I am. I did not know if he was armed or not.

911 OPERATOR: How old would you say he was?

G. ZIMMERMAN: He's got a button on his shirt. Late teens.

911 OPERATOR: Late teens. OK.


COOPER: So he now seems to be suggesting something else that he thought he was older and I guess, therefore somehow more threatening. Is that a lie? Is that a mistake? What is that?

GERAGOS: Innocent miss recollection is what they normally call it. But frankly, you did a better job there of cross examination than was done at the hearing today. So, that's what I'm saying.

If you watch that, I'm being charitable, I guess if you listen to the other Mark and say -- by saying it's abysmal. I watched that. I don't see how they get past an immunity hearing.

COOPER: Sunny. Is there instance, defense attorney also pressed the prosecution's investigator on a probable cause affidavit particularly why he used the word profile. I just want to play that clip.


MARK O'MARA, ATTORNEY FOR GEORGE ZIMMERMAN: Did you consider it to be a consider type of profiling?


O'MARA: Then why'd you use the word profiling rather than noticed, observed, saw, or anything besides the very precise word profiled. And by the way, was that your word? Did you come up with that word?

GILBREATH: I don't recall. This was a collaborative answer. Excuse me. A collaborative document.

O'MARA: When you swore that to be true, what did you mean that to indicate?

GILBREATH: That Zimmerman saw Martin, formed an idea in his head, and contacted the Sanford police department. With no facts.


COOPER: Sunny, obviously profiled is a loaded term. Was it smart for the defense attorney to cast down on that?

HOSTIN: You know, I thought Mark O'Mara did a wonderful job today. Of course, I thought the prosecution actually did a good job as well. But that is a charged term, profiling. I thought the --

GERAGOS: We've got two attorneys. One says it's abysmal and another says it's worse than that. How can you say they did a good job?

HOSTIN: I do think they did a good job. This was a bond hearing. They relied on the affidavit of probable cause. This wasn't a full blown trial. This wasn't an immunity hearing. The prosecution did what they need to do. And they always do this type of --

GERAGOS: they have got the detective now under oath on the stand saying he has no idea about two of the crucial areas. And you're telling me that's a great performance? That that's something -- they're going to get that transcript. They're going to use that at the immunity hearing.

COOPER: We've got to leave it there.

NEJAME: Goes a step further.

COOPER: Well, Mark NeJame, go ahead then we go.

NEJAME: Very briefly. Sunny, you couldn't be more incorrect. The standard here was --

HOSTIN: Incorrect how?

NEJAME: Hold on, please. Was evidence and presumption great? So the state knew they had a burden of establishing. They asked for no bond. They knew this was going to be subject to attack.

HOSTIN: This was --

NEJAME: Hold on. They left it wide open. It was more than a bond hearing. They should have been prepared.

HOSTIN: More than a bond hearing? It's a bond hearing.

COOPER: I got to go. No one hears talk ever. I got to go.

Sunny Hostin, thank you. Thank you, Mark NeJame. And thank you, Mark Geragos. Good to have you here.

Also tonight, big question about the U.N. observers who are supposed to be monitoring a cease-fire in Syria.

First off, there's no cease-fire. Second, the SUV in the video, you are looking at practically the entire U.N. monitoring force right there.

"Keeping Them Honest" -- ahead.


COOPER: Well, "Keeping them Honest" tonight: How many people do you suppose you'd need to monitor a cease-fire in a country the size of Syria?

Now, before answering, consider this. Here in New York there are 34,500 uniform members of the New York police department, 34,000 police officers policing eight million people and no one is waging war.

Also, consider it takes four on ice officials to keep the piece such as it is at a hockey game. So, how many observers does the U.N. have on the ground tonight in Syria country of nearly 23 million people? Six. Not 6,000. Not 600. Six people. Two more than at tonight's Stanley cup playoffs. And here is what they're up against.


COOPER: That is Homs today. That is shelling. One shell landing followed by a bracketing shot. Then in a few seconds you'll see a third shell landing between the first two. Heavy artillery, the kind only the Syrian military has. The Assad regime promised last Thursday not to use it. Promised to fire on neighborhood. Promised to pull tanks and troops and snipers out of cities. I don't know how many times I repeat this every night, they haven't done any of that.

The opposition says at least 57 people died today in Syria. We can't confirm that number. That's nearly ten times the number of U.N. observers currently on the ground. Ten times the number of dead versus U.N. peace keepers.

Now, in fairness with U. N. , the six monitors are only an advance team. Next week there could be 30, 30. Here's the reaction to that number earlier this week from the activist known as Zaidoun.


ZAIDOUN, ACTIVIST: Thirty? They are stupid. We need 30 observers for one neighborhood only.

COOPER: What do you hope happening? What do you hope the international community does?

ZAIDOUN: The international community should send 3,000 observers. And believe me, the regime will fall the same day. The regime would be toppled the same day. Because, we will have people rushing to the streets for demonstrations.

We are poor people. We want this regime to go peacefully but we need the help. We need the help of the rest of the world. Don't tell me you couldn't have sent us more than 30 observers. Thirty? These are good to maybe vigilant an examination. Not observe an army of half a million people just firing all types of arms against civilians, against unarmed civilians.


COOPER: Thirty observers expected.

Now, the U.N. secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, wants to eventually increase that number to 300 eventually. But again, there are only 30 expected and only six on the ground now. And none has even set foot in Homs.

But even if all six, all 30 or 300 monitors did make to it Homs, look at the size of the territory they would be covering. As you can see, the rooftops go on for miles. It's the third largest city in Syria, Homs is. More than three quarters of a million people live there or did before the shelling. Three hundred monitors in a city that size is the same as just 3400 cops patrolling New York. Not the 34,000 that do.

And Remember, Homs isn't the only city in Syria. Now, Syria has 23 million people, 71,000 square miles. One monitor for every 238 square miles, one for every 75,000 people. That's assuming all 300 monitors eventually go in.

Once again, there are six there now. One for every four million Syrians. One for every 12,000 square miles in territory.

For perspective, the U.N. force that went to Bosnia in 1992, total more than 40, 000. It was full on peace keeping force, not just monitors. There were 38,000 troops, but, again, only six unarmed individuals right now in Syria.

Yet, as this video from Wednesday in Damascus shows, the cease- fire violations are, sadly, so common, even a handful of U.N. officials can still manage to stumble on to one.

As always, we can't independently verify the video you're seeing. Perhaps one day the United Nations can. Now earlier tonight, I spoke with longtime U.N. advisor George Lopez and Stanford University's Fouad Ajami. I started by asking Professor Ajami whether such a small numbers of monitors could accomplish anything.


FOUAD AJAMI, STANFORD UNIVERSITY: Well, I think we know the answer to this question. This peacekeeping mission is doomed. As the other, the one that was headed by the lieutenant John Dhabi (ph) from the Sudan was doomed.

This rebellion will go on, and the regime's killings will go on. And I think both protagonists -- the regime and its opponents -- know that this ceasefire and this Kofi Annan mission and this effort by the U.N., by the Arab leaders for not.

COOPER: George, you wrote that this peacekeeping mission as limited as it is, is quote, "a lousy choice, but it's our only choice." Why do you say it's our only choice?

GEORGE LOPEZ, U.N. ADVISOR: Yes. Well, first of all, because they're the option on the ground that's most immediate. However ineffective they are, they are a U.N. presence that wasn't there two weeks ago.

Secondly, I think that those who reject this immediately are really waiting patiently, it seems, for a military intervention that's not going to really -- really materialize.

And I think what we can do is to use this as a kind of sharp wedge, as dull as it may be at the start, to begin to allow other kinds of things to happen.

I think you may see what the greater rejection of the ceasefire monitors are there, the greater harassment by the regime, there's some neighbors who begin to stiffen their back a bit. There's more discussion of sanctions being leveed than ever before.

And I know that's an uphill climb for the U.S. to persuade the Russians. But it may be in the cards in the next couple of weeks.

COOPER: Fouad, what about that idea of this paying off, somehow, three months down the road?

AJAMI: Well, three months is a long time when you look at the killing rates by the Bashar Assad regime. When you're talking about 50 people being killed a day, 60 people being killed a day, you can crunch the numbers. And I think more patience will not yield anything. I think we understand what the stakes are; we understand what this confrontation is all about.

And people who think that somehow or another these monitors are going to be a wedge, and that they will create a status quo that Bashar Assad didn't expect. The two protagonists -- I repeat this -- the regime and the opposition, know that they're in this fight to the finish. And they know that the presence of outsiders is really marginal.

COOPER: If you're discounting the idea of peacekeepers, 250 peacekeepers, what do you want to see happen? Arming opposition? Air strikes? What do you want to see?

AJAMI: Well, absolutely, because in fact, here's an episode that is very interesting. At some point the Libyans, the Libyan revolutionists who are now in power basically said, "Look, we have crates of weapons we want to send to the Syrians. And we want to help these Syrians with these crates of weapons, because this is really a confrontation, a military confrontation when all is said and done."

And the United States, the United States, we have to record that, basically, you know, gave an advice and a ruling and gave a judgment against that kind of gift.

And then we talk about an arms embargo. What do we mean by an arms embargo? The regime has arms. It has helicopter gunships. It has all the things that armies have. It's the people of Syria who are unarmed.

And there are all kind of options. Safe zones within Syria. There's lots of things that could be done. But I think this peacekeeping mission is just, in my opinion, another -- it's a false detour.

COOPER: So George, why not a safe zone? Why not arm the opposition? John McCain has talked about international air strikes.

LOPEZ: Sure. I think that there was a way in which international air strikes two or three months ago, as tanks were moving to Homs, might have been an option, might have created an opportunity for the military itself to rethink its loyalty.

But we're at a position of mid-April right now. And in mid- April, the air-strike option is much more difficult. Not only because of Syrian mounted defenses but because we've embarked on a path in which there has been arming of the opposition. And we know the differential in fire power.

The Annan plan gives us opportunity next week to talk seriously about the creation of the humanitarian corridor. I fully expect, as our good counterpart would argue, that Assad may reject that. Well, Assad, let him reject this next week and let's see what the attitude of the Russians are and others who counseled him in private to accept this.

I think, unfortunately, the bulk of the activity falls to the diplomatic in the next three to four weeks. And while none of us, none of us at all, are advocating patience or a likelihood that Assad will welcome and embrace this plan, what it does is continued rejection creates an opportunity diplomatically for the Security Council to get a little bit more spine and take the kind of more deliberative Chapter 7 action that will impose the sanctions and impose the likelihood of the use of force. And work in a way in which the Arab League and neighbors can accept it.

A unilateral initiative by the United States militarily will create me problems and lead to more killing of Syrians than any other option we have available now.

COOPER: Fouad Ajami, George Lopez, I appreciate your perspectives. Thank you.

LOPEZ: Thank you.


COOPER: Well, there's more news tonight. The search for Etan Patz. We're going to tell you who investigators questioned and why they think a cement basement is so important. Possible breaks in the case after 33 years, next.


COOPER: "Crime & Punishment tonight, investigators here in New York have zeroed in on a basement looking for remains of 6-year-old Etan Patz, who disappeared more than 30 years ago.

Authorities have questioned a 75-year-old man named Athneil Miller. He's the carpenter who had a workshop in the space that's now being searched and was apparently seen with Patz the day before he disappeared.

A source familiar with the investigation says that Miller gave Patz a dollar that day. It's important to know Miller has not been charged with a crime.

Susan Candiotti joins us now with the very latest from the scene. What have you learned today, Susan?

SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, even more, Anderson, about that retired carpenter. According to a law enforcement source, while police were questioning him, the man suddenly blurted out, Mr. Miller, quoting here, "What if the body was moved?" Now, that sounded a lot of alarms.

We've also learned that a fresh concrete floor was poured in that basement back in 1979. That's the same year that Etan disappeared.

Now, Mr. Miller has not been arrested. And his lawyer told us today that his client is fully cooperating with the FBI and that Mr. Miller has nothing to do with the boy's disappearance. And his daughter is telling us the very same thing.

We have also learned that the FBI has been questioning lately other people besides Mr. Miller. And so this investigation is certainly far from over.

Meantime, chunks of concrete have been coming out of the basement. The FBI tells me they have been digging about six feet below that basement floor into the soil, looking for any signs, Anderson, that that soil has been moved over the years.

The question is really this. How did a little boy in such a big city disappear? Now, as it turns out, it may have all played out in just a few city blocks.


CANDIOTTI (voice-over): May 25, 1979. It's a Friday, and 6- year-old Etan Patz is upstairs in his family's third-floor apartment, getting ready for school.

(on camera) He comes straight out this door, all decked out in a corduroy jacket, pants, and a kid's pilot hat. He can't wait to get to school. For the first time, Etan's mom and dad are allowing him to walk two blocks down the street this way to get to his school bus stop all by himself.

LISA COHEN, AUTHOR: It was the Friday before Memorial Day weekend, and this was going to be one of his last opportunities. They finally relented and said he could go.

CANDIOTTI: It's just after 8 a.m. According to author Lisa Cohen, Etan's mom kisses him good-bye and watches him walk toward the bus stop. Everything seems fine, so his mother runs back upstairs to take care of her 2-year-old son.

This is the corner where Etan was heading to meet the bus. We're just two blocks away from their apartment. I can still see it from here. But Etan never made it. At the end of the school day, when he didn't come home, his mom calls police.

COHEN: By that time, several hours had passed before anyone had any idea that there was something wrong. Those are crucial hours for an investigation.

CANDIOTTI (voice-over): Etan's dad, frantic, starts grabbing photos of his son to show to people in the neighborhood. Investigators interview the parents and start canvassing the area for the youngster.

(on camera) See that traffic light? That's the bus stop. And right here we are just a block away. This is where the FBI is now digging up that basement, a basement where a carpenter used to have a workshop way back when, more than 30 years ago. Police did search that basement, but they did not dig it up.

Now the FBI is trying to figure out whether the key to Etan's disappearance was right here all along.


COOPER: It's stunning to think there could be a new development.

I'm joined now on the phone by forensic scientist Lawrence Kobilinsky from the John Jay College of Criminal Justice. Also by Mary Ellen O'Toole, former FBI special agent, and Lisa Cohen we saw in Susan's report. She's the author of "After Etan: The Missing Child Case that Held America Captive."

You spoke, Lisa, to Etan's father today and also yesterday. Have you talked to them about this man, Athneil Miller? Would they be surprised if he was the suspect?

COHEN: They are being very closed-mouth about the recent developments, because the FBI has asked them not to talk to anybody about it.

They knew him. The family knew him. And Etan knew him. He -- they were pals. And they actually would spend some time together. He was a carpenter and a handyman, and sometimes Etan would help him do some of his jobs.

COOPER: But even in the beginning, was he kind of on a list of people -- the police were looking at?

COHEN: Yes. He was on a list for many years, off and on, off and on. And they talked to him. They interviewed him at the beginning of the investigation in 1979. And I know that they searched every house, every basement, every rooftop in a four-block radius for -- you know, and then beyond eventually. At least once, if not more than once.

COOPER: So in all likelihood, they had been in this basement before?

COHEN: In all likelihood.

COOPER: Dr. Kobilinsky, forensic science obviously is leaps and bounds ahead of where it was in the 1970s. How is that going to help the investigation? And these cadaver dogs. Could it be -- a dog could be responding to a variety of different kinds of scents, correct? It doesn't have to be necessarily human.

DR. LAWRENCE KOBILINSKY, FORENSIC EXPERT (via phone): Absolutely. Good point, Anderson. I think modern technology allows the FBI and NYPD to use ground penetrating radar to help them in their search.

This is a technology where you are sending microwave radiation into the ground, picking up any solid structures or voids in the ground. You get a reflection back. It appears on a monitor. And now you know where to search. It penetrates concrete. But I think removing the concrete makes it easier.

Now, the cadaver dogs tells them another story. Yes, they sense some of the chemicals that are produced after decomposition. There are over 400 such chemicals. The -- some of these chemicals are very pungent. But after 33 years, you're left perhaps with small numbers of molecules in that area.

Dogs being as keen, they have this sensitivity of smell that we can't even imagine. If you can concentrate the few molecules and the dogs are permitted to investigate, they will alert if they sense the smell.

But you're right. Will they differentiate between human remains or animal remains or other organic decaying material? That's the question. How reliable are these dogs?

I would say they're great for investigation. They may help the police search certain parts of that vast area. There's over 800 square feet that they have to look at on the ground. Not to mention the walls. They've got to go into the walls. But they certainly will get some help by the alerts of these cadaver dogs.

COOPER: Right.

KOBILINSKY: Are they totally reliable? I don't think so.

COOPER: Mary Ellen, in cases like this, I mean, I know statistically it's usually somebody the family knows. But I guess because at this point nothing is known, police have to look -- continue to look at all options.

MARY ELLEN O'TOOLE, FORMER FBI SPECIAL AGENT: Well, they have to look at all options. But I think people need to understand the definition of a total stranger versus someone who may be familiar with Etan and knew his schedule, knew he would be walking to school, probably escorted. But that morning he was alone. So I think that that's the first circle that investigators are looking at.

COOPER: So the chance that this is like a snatch and grab of somebody who had no connection to him, didn't -- it was -- just happened to be on the street when he was there, driving by in a car, that's, you're saying, unlikely?

O'TOOLE: I think that's very unlikely. And I think there's a certain amount of familiarity not just with Etan but also with the area and the time of day. And they were comfortable there. So I think that's why people didn't see any kind of commotion.

COOPER: It makes it all the worse to think it could be somebody that they knew or had contact with. I mean, again, it's such a haunting case.

We've got to leave it there. Lawrence Kobilinsky, Mary Ellen O'Toole, thank you very much.

More news -- more fallout tonight on the Secret Service prostitution scandal. President Obama gets an update. That's next.


SUSAN HENDRICKS, CNN ANCHOR: Back to Anderson in just a moment. First, a "360 News & Business Bulletin."

Three more Secret Service members have resigned in the prostitution scandal, and a 12th member is now implicated. Also, President Obama was briefed on the investigation today by the director of the Secret Service.

Pakistani officials say there are no survivors from the plane crash near the Islamabad Airport earlier today. At least 127 people were on board when the airliner went down just before landing. The flight data recorder has been recovered.

Two years ago today, BP's Deepwater Horizon rig exploded in the Gulf of Mexico, killing 11 workers. More than 200 million gallons of crude oil spilled into the Gulf. This week BP settled a class-action lawsuit and will pay nearly $8 billion to businesses and residents in the Gulf region.

And a Great White Shark killed a young man who was body boarding off the coast of Capetown, South Africa. The 16-foot-long shark bit off one of the man's legs. His friend tried to save him. The beach where this has occurred is now closed.

Anderson, back to you.

COOPER: Susan, thanks very much.

Coming up, I'm going to be on "Jeopardy" again. I'm hoping the third time's the charm, and I'm really hoping the pressure doesn't make me crack. "The RidicuList" is next.


COOPER: Time now for "The RidicuList." And tonight the answer is "Jeopardy." The question, what is pressure?

Yes, I've agreed to put myself through the sleepless panic of being on "Jeopardy" for a third time. It's taping this weekend as part of "Jeopardy's" Power Players Week, and it airs in May.

This time around, I'm up against Tom Friedman of "The New York Times" and NBC Capitol Hill correspondent Kelly O'Donnell.

Now, according to a poll on "Jeopardy's" Facebook page, 53 percent of people think I'm going to win this thing. And look, I appreciate the vote of confidence, but clearly those who voted for me must have seen the first time I was on "Jeopardy." I remember it well.



COOPER: Who is Maria Callas?

TREBEK: Correct.

COOPER: What is Germany?

TREBEK: West Germany, correct.

COOPER: Who is Archie Bunker?

TREBEK: He's the one.

Canada is right.

COOPER: That's it?

TREBEK: That's it.

Yes, indeed.

You're the leader and the winner today.


COOPER: Yes. I'll pretty much say it. I pretty much cleaned the floor with Maria Bartiromo and Kweisi Mfume. And oh, how I reveled in being a "Jeopardy" champion. That is, until the second time I was on "Jeopardy," when I totally got "Chonged" by Cheech Marin.


TREBEK: Cheech?

CHEECH MARIN, COMEDIAN/ACTOR: What is pillow talk?

TREBEK: Right. Cheech?

MARIN: What is Never-neverland.

TREBEK: Yes. Cheech.

MARIN: What is Camelot?

TREBEK: Yes. Cheech.

MARIN: What is a baster?

TREBEK: Yes. You're the winner today.

(END VIDEO CLIP) COOPER: Cheech, what's this? Cheech, yes. Cheech. Yes, good job, Cheech.

Yes. I got annihilated by Cheech Marin. So what? Good times.

So I've been gathering some tips in anticipation of my third appearance. "Jeopardy" champion king -- by the way, on Cheech Marin, I thought his synapses would have been slow by now. I mean, I've watched those movies of his. I know what he was doing for years. But he's quick. He's quick. He's not only quick in the mind, he's quick on the buzzer. And as anybody will tell you, it's all about the buzzer.

Anyway. "Jeopardy" champion Ken Jennings gave me this advice on Twitter yesterday. Quote, "Never tell a cat story during the interview segment." Duly noted, Ken. I'm also thinking about employing Cheech's buzzer strategy.


COOPER: Yes, I was doing the thumb. I peeked at you, and I think you were doing the index finger. That's right.

MARIN: I learned that from a track coach when I was in high school with a stopwatch timer. It's a much faster reflex with the index finger.


COOPER: I can only say that I hope Tom Friedman and Kelly O'Donnell are not watching this right now. I'm going to try this.

This is serious business, people. It's all about the buzzer. As we all know from "SNL," it's not like "Celebrity Jeopardy" is easier or anything.


WILL FERRELL, FORMER CAST MEMBER, NBC'S "SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE": Let's just get this over with. Here are the categories. They are "Potent Potables," "Countries between Mexico and Canada," "Members of Simon and Garfunkel," "I Have a Chardonnay." If you choose this category, you automatically get the points, and I get to have a glass of wine.


COOPER: So I think my plan is just get into the rhythm of the buzzer and try to keep calm. Surely, I can stay calm.


COOPER: Who's afraid of Virginia -- oh, what is "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?"


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What is "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof"?

TREBEK: Anderson, don't beat up on yourself.


COOPER: I take this thing very seriously.

I just hope that I don't completely choke. In other words, no matter what happens, I don't want to pull a Blitzer.



WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: What is fettuccine?



BLITZER: What is Jerusalem?



BLITZER: What is a defendant?



BLITZER: Annotated (ph).



BLITZER: What is a crash?



COOPER: Wolf, oi, yi, yi. Wolf. Oh, Wolf. That was negative $4,600 you see before you. Not such a great situation in that room.

Listen, I know I shouldn't judge, I shouldn't make fun. That could be me tomorrow. It's happened to me before. You can watch how it all turns out, "Jeopardy" Power Players Week, May 14 to May 18.


COOPER: It's all for a good cause. That sound means we're out of time.

Listen, Friedman, O'Donnell, you better look out, because I'm about to go all Cheech on your Chong.

That does it for us. Thanks for watching. Have a great weekend. "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts now.