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Terror Plot Foiled; Interview With Congressman Peter King

Aired May 7, 2012 - 22:00   ET


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

And we begin tonight with breaking news. U.S. officials say they have foiled a terrorist plot to blow up an airliner. They're not saying where or when it happened. But here's what we do know. According to the FBI, an improvised explosive device was seized and FBI analysts are examining it. Now, officials say the device was meant for use by a suicide bomber.

They say it's a non-metallic explosive similar to the one the underwear bomber used in his failed attempt to blow up a Detroit-bound airliner in 2009, similar, but not the same. Officials also say the plot has the hallmarks in al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. And President Obama was briefed about the threat in April.

Congressman Peter King is chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee. He's been briefed on the details of the plot and just joins us right now on the phone.

Congressman King, what's the latest that you can tell us?

REP. PETER KING (R-NY), HOMELAND SECURITY COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: Anderson, see, I discussed this with Secretary Napolitano and also John Brennan, the president's homeland security adviser.

Basically, as you said, this is a non-metallic device. It was intended to be put on an American-bound airline. It never made it to the airline. It's right now, as you said, being tested and analyzed by the FBI. Obviously, a concern would be that being non-metallic as to whether or not this could evade security in our airports.

So that's a real concern. Also, this is an ongoing operation. This particular part of it occurred about some time last month, some time in April. But it's not over as far as the operation itself, which is why you're seeing very few details being given out.

COOPER: And, obviously, the questions, use your judgment as what you can say or will say. Is it known who made this bomb? Bomb-makers tend to have a certain signature. There are certain bomb-makers particularly in Yemen who are well-known. Is it known who made this?

KING: There are two things I can say.

One is that the person who had the bomb, exact language I was told is that we no longer have to be concerned about him, number one. And number two, you saw there was an attack on a AQAP leader in Yemen over the weekend. And that is related to this whole operation. But other than that, I really can't go.

COOPER: There's a type of explosive, PETN, which is what was used I believe in the attempted underwear bombing of that plane in Detroit. Is it similar to PETN?

KING: That, I can't go into. All I can say is, it's non- metallic and the FBI bomb experts are analyzing it right now. And this is -- again, this was something very much cause for concern.

And it's probably, Anderson, one of the most tightly held operations I have seen. I can tell you myself and no other member of Congress knew anything about this, including me, until this afternoon. And that's unusual. It also appears somehow this was leaked, because I don't know what your sources are telling you, but if you were going around this afternoon, very few people knew anything about it, even those in prominent positions, people in the intelligence community.

And it seems as if the administration was playing catchup with it this afternoon as far as getting everything out. And I can tell you that I have spoken to other congressional leaders and people in position who almost are briefed, and they knew nothing about it until this afternoon either.

So something with the timing here, it raises some questions.

COOPER: What do you mean? Raises what questions, do you think?

KING: Well, as why it came out this afternoon, and such a tightly held operation, if it was leaked, how was it leaked and why was it leaked?

Again, I have been involved in a number of these and I have seen and observed a number of these tightly held operations before. I never saw one that was so closely held and then seem to be come out all at once.

And the administration this afternoon and top people in the various intelligence agencies were really not in any kind of a position to talk about it. They seemed taken somewhat by surprise. And also from talking to other key Democrats and Republicans in Congress, they felt they were caught totally off guard today. And that's unusual.

Even with the bin Laden killing, there were members of Congress who were briefed before it happened.

COOPER: So, do you think there was some political reason for if it was in fact leaked out and if it was leaked by someone in the administration, there's some political reason for that?

KING: Anderson, I really don't want to get into as far as administration as to who did it or whatever. It could have be any -- it could have been just somebody who had knowledge of what was happening. COOPER: OK.

KING: I'm not trying to bring politics into this at all. I was just saying that whether it's somebody in the intelligence community or whatever, I think it's important, if it was a leak, we find out who did it, because there's such sensitive information here. And we had sensitive sources to get it from.

It's risky if something like that is leaked out in an unplanned way, and that seems to be what happened here. I could be wrong. But from the key people I have spoken to this afternoon, they seem to have that impression too.

COOPER: Are you pleased with the intelligence that you have heard so far in terms of how this person, how this device was apparently apprehended? I mean, does it tell you that things are -- that there's a good safety net out there?

KING: Yes. There's two things.

The short thing, one is outstanding work. Our intelligence agencies and the laser defense we have set up after 9/11, this -- from all I have seen, this operated at 1000 percent. And everyone involved in it deserves tremendous credit. This was a key victory for us.

It also reminds us, though, that this war's not going to end in Afghanistan. This is -- al Qaeda has metastasized and morphed, and they are constantly attempting to find new ways at get at us. And they have very skilled scientists and other people with advanced degrees who are working on a regular basis to try to get ahead of us.

Every time we think we have them, they come up with something new. And they don't stop. And if this had been a success -- well, I'll tell you this. I was talking to someone today who was very much involved in it saying if this had happened prior to 9/11, there's no doubt at all this would have been a success. We would have had hundreds of Americans killed.

COOPER: And again I don't want to say anything inappropriate, but if this is a non-metallic device, as you have said, our -- I mean, metal detectors at airports from my understanding cannot detect this, correct?

KING: I don't want to get into that, other than to say that TSA would be putting in various components to try to stop it. But that's again what the bomb experts are looking at right now.

COOPER: All right, Congressman Peter King, I appreciate you joining us. Thank you very joining us.

KING: Thank you, Anderson.

Joining me now is CNN's Nic Robertson, also national security contributor Fran Townsend, who has been working her sources. Former FBI Assistant Director Tom Fuentes joins us as well, and Bob Baer, intelligence columnist for and a former CIA officer. Fran, what's the latest you're hearing from your sources?

FRANCES TOWNSEND, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CONTRIBUTOR: Well, you were asking, Anderson, about the bomb-maker. What was said to me by a source in Washington who's got firsthand knowledge was that, look, this had marked similarities to the al-Asiri bombs, that is the underwear bomb, the cartridge bomb.

And, as you said, these bomb-makers have a signature. And so while there are marked similarities, there are some differences. So it shows that their ability to adapt to our screening measures...

COOPER: They're a learning enemy.

TOWNSEND: That's exactly right.

And so you can't -- to Congressman King's point, you count them out. Even though they haven't been successful, they haven't successfully pulled one off, they're clearly determined and they're clearly adaptive.

COOPER: And when you hear Congressman King saying he'd been told that the person who was going to deliver this device or had this device is no longer a threat, to me, that says they're dead or captured.

TOWNSEND: Correct. And the same thing was said to me. And that was exactly -- I said, well, there's only two possibilities.

COOPER: Right.

Bob, you said this is about as high-tech as would-be terrorists get. Does their sophistication on this worry you?


What they're using normally on these things is chemical initiators. And that, you just take a syringe and you inject one chemical into another and it sort of builds. And what you're doing is you're bypassing any sort of metal. It can be done in a plastic container or a glass container. And then it will go to a high explosive, which can cut a hole in the skin of an airplane.

And, Anderson, as you said, sometimes it's PETN. There are other explosives. And there is no metal in it. That makes it very difficult for TSA to catch one of these things because they have to run them through a chemical analysis, like a neutron detector.

And so this is why there's been such a tight hold on this. People don't want to talk about the technology and the fact that they're improving their technology. And I think these guys are very, very good. I have seen these airplane bombs back in the '80s. They bypassed airport security then.

And if they continue to adapt, I think we should consider this is a very real threat to our aviation. COOPER: Nic Robertson looked into PETN and -- which is the name that is being used in this, even though it may be different than PETN. It is non-metallic. And PETN was the explosive used by the so-called underwear bomber.

I want to show you what Nic discovered about what PETN is capable of. Take a look at this clip.



NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice- over): Explosive expert Sydney Alford showed me the power of a tiny amount of PETN.

ALFORD: This really is a messy powder.

ROBERTSON: Then he agreed to replicate a series power printer bombs revealing how they evaded detection.

ALFORD: And this is PETN. If that went off now, I would be instantly killed and bits of me will go around the room.

ROBERTSON: Out in a field, Alford places the bomb on an aluminum sheet simulating the skin of an aircraft.

ALFORD: Three, two, one.

That is where the table was standing, and you can see the blast effect. If that had been part of an airplane's fuselage, then heaven help the airplane. It would have been a terminal event, I am afraid.


COOPER: Nic, how does somebody -- how -- I don't want to say anything appropriate, but is it easy for people to get PETN or make PETN?

ROBERTSON: One of the things al Qaeda in Yemen, al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula has been boasting about in the "Inspire" magazine, al Qaeda's glossy magazines, the how to do you magazines, how to sort of make your bombs magazines, if you will, they printed a couple of those "Inspire" magazines last week.

And they were boasting there about the fact that they have taken control of territory inside Yemen and they have taken control of laboratories there that they say they have upgraded, which has given them access to the chemicals and the space, because they have taken territory there. So they have the laboratories, the chemicals, the space and the technical know-how to do it.

So really what their advantage is, is they have everything they need to build these devices. Their problem is, is getting these devices out of Yemen, because a counterterrorism effort is focusing on containing them in Yemen and then exporting them to a position where they can then go on board aircraft flying to the United States.

So they have a lot of the necessary components and know-how at their disposal in a place where in a relatively relaxed environment, they can work on these devices.

COOPER: Tom, you were at the FBI for a long time. What are the questions U.S. intelligence wants to try to understand now about this device, about the people behind it?

TOM FUENTES, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I think the main thing is, who made it. Is it a Asiri-made device? Which he favors the use of PETN. How was it going to be detonated?

As Bob mentioned, if you're using plastic syringes to detonate it on an aircraft, chances are it's not going to be detected before you get on the aircraft. Is this similar to the plot using 80 grams of PETN in the printer that was being shipped to the United States, to Chicago that was discovered in London?

And in that case, that particular printer had gone through all types of screening, machines, and other devices. The Saudi Arabian intelligence service provided detailed information to go to look at that particular package. The British authorities used dogs, and the dogs sniffed that package and couldn't detect 80 grams of PETN a mere few inches from their noses.

So materials like that are very easily concealed, very hard to detect. And depending on how they're packaged and how they're going to be carried poses the terrific threat to everybody.

COOPER: I got to say, Tom, it's scary listening to you. And I don't like to -- there's not much that makes me scared. And I don't like to kind of promote things that make other people scared. But the idea that those bombs in the printers went through so many multiple screenings and, I mean, dogs and devices, and yet were still able to get through, is there technology in the pipeline that can detect this stuff?

FUENTES: Well, I'm not sure about the technology. Many people make so many claims.

You talk to the company owners of companies using these dogs and they brag about the high percentage that they can detect. And then the reality, then they miss it. That particular package in London that was going to be shipped to a Jewish center in Chicago, Illinois, would have made it. If it wasn't for the specific information, it had already gone through two or three screenings to get to London.

And it was one airplane away probably from being shipped to the United States and successfully arriving. So, other than the intelligence that interrupted that plot, the technology did not intercede to make us safer in that case. And we don't know what was -- all the details about this particularly device to know if it's any better.

COOPER: So, Bob, is this just a matter of time before something like this gets through?

BAER: I'm afraid so. This could all die down of its own accord. But with the technology, Asiri, and there's a couple Palestinians down in Yemen helping them improve it, I think the risk goes up.

And this is the second one that's been carried on by a passenger. It was meant to be carried on by a passenger. And I think one day it will -- they will get through.

COOPER: Fran, do you agree with that?

TOWNSEND: Yes, I do. The one thing we should say to give some people some sense of comfort, in the United States, you often know you get swabbed, your hands get swabbed.

COOPER: Right.

TOWNSEND: And that's meant to detect explosive traces. And it's the sort of thing that you hope would pick up if someone had been handling this sort of a device, because, remember, this was not meant to be a body cavity device. This was meant to be an external device. And so you hope things like that. But those aren't -- you don't have those around the world.

COOPER: It's very random.

TOWNSEND: Right. That's exactly right. And so what you have got to hope is a proliferation of those kinds of machines and that kind of screening, which reduces the chances that this is successful.

COOPER: Wow. Troubling development today, but good it was caught. Fran, appreciate it. Bob Baer, I thank you. Nic Robertson, Tom Fuentes, appreciate all of your expertise.

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

Coming up, the White House today is insisting that Vice President Joe Biden's comments about same-sex marriage are not a departure from what President Obama has said in the past. But what the president has said in the past sure sounds a lot different than what Biden is saying now. We're "Keeping Them Honest" next.


COOPER: "Keeping Them Honest" tonight: With the insistence from the White House that Vice President Joe Biden's comments about same- sex marriage aren't all that different from President Obama's stance on the issue.

On "Meet the Press," Biden said that more and more Americans were starting to understand that gay marriage comes down to this. Who do you love and will you be loyal to the person you love? Sounds like the strongest endorsement for gay marriage yet from the highest- ranking administration official so far.

When asked flat out if that means he's now comfortable with same- sex marriage, here's how Mr. Biden answered.


JOSEPH BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I am vice president of the United States of America. The president sets the policy. I am absolutely comfortable with the fact that men marrying men, women marrying women and heterosexual men and women are entitled to the same exact rights, all the civil rights, all the civil liberties.


COOPER: The White House insists what he said was not a departure from President Obama's position. They say he didn't say anything the president hasn't said before.

Senior Obama campaign adviser David Axelrod tweeted this -- quote -- "What V.P. said, that all married couples should have exactly the same legal rights, is precisely POTUS' position."

"Keeping Them Honest," though, the president's position on gay marriage is anything but precise. Mr. Biden said he's comfortable with the fact same-sex couples are entitled to all the same exact rights, all of the civil rights, all the civil liberties.

But that's not currently the case, even in states where same-sex marriage is allowed, and it's certainly not President Obama's position. There's no federal recognition of same-sex marriage. Therefore, same-sex couples don't share all the rights heterosexual couples do.

For instance, if one member of a same-sex couple is from a foreign country, the federal immigration department service doesn't allow that person to get a green card if they marry -- if they marry. A heterosexual couple would have that right. Now, Biden did not say directly that the federal government should recognize same-sex marriage. He could have been misspeaking or not fully informed on the issue.

Mr. Obama talks about work to be done about his position -- quote -- "evolving over the past few years."


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Whether gays and lesbians should be able to get married, I have spoken about this recently. As I have said, my feelings about this are constantly evolving. I struggle with this.

QUESTION: You have said your position is evolving. You said you're struggling with it. What more do you need to know?

OBAMA: Well, you know, I probably won't make news right now, George. But I think that there's no doubt that, as I see friends, families, children of gay couples who are thriving, that has an impact on how I think about these issues. JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Again, what I know is what his position was during the campaign and what it is now. You know, he's been very clear about it. He was very clear in the campaign. He's very clear about the fact that his position, that he's -- that it's evolving. The president said that he was evolving.


COOPER: So did Mr. Biden's view of same-sex marriage just evolve farther and faster than the president's? When Biden was asked whether the president would support same-sex marriage in his second term, he said he didn't know the answer to that.

Recent polling shows about half of Americans favor legalized same-sex marriage. And there's a push for some Democrats -- among some Democrats, including Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, to make support for it part of the platform of this summer's Democratic Convention.

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney today said he doesn't have any update on the president's personal views on same-sex marriage.

CNN's Jessica Yellin pressed Carney on why the president won't be more direct on the issue.


JESSICA YELLIN, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Will he or won't he support gay marriage in his second term?

CARNEY: The president was asked this and said that his views on -- his personal views on this were evolving.

YELLIN: "Everybody deserves to be able to live and love as they see fit. I don't have to tell the people in this room we've got a ways to go in the struggle."

What is he referring to if not gay marriage?

CARNEY: Well, I think you have heard him say, and those in the administration like myself who speak for him, that he strongly opposes efforts to restrict rights, to repeal rights for same-sex couples.

YELLIN: So can you explain then clearly what -- how Vice President Biden, who said there is a consensus building toward gay marriage in this nation, and then came out yesterday saying he is absolutely comfortable with men marrying men and women marrying women, having equal rights, is not an endorsement of gay marriage?

CARNEY: Well, look, I think the vice president expressed his personal views. He also said he was evolving on the issue.

I think the description...

YELLIN: When? When did he say that?


QUESTION: He did not say that, Jay.

CARNEY: He did.


QUESTION: No, his spokesperson said that afterwards.

CARNEY: OK. Let me -- let me just be clear, though. The vice president, what he said about the protection of rights of citizens is completely consistent with the president's position on this issue.


COOPER: Now, is that really the case?

Joining me now to get into the "Raw Politics," chief White House correspondent Jessica Yellin and Richard Socarides, former Clinton White House senior adviser on same-sex civil rights issues.

Jessica, was this Joe Biden just kind of just speaking out of term, as Joe Biden sometimes does? Or do you think this is some part of a calculated effort on the part of the administration to kind of have it both ways?

YELLIN: No, this was not a calculated rollout by the White House, if that's what you're asking, Anderson. There's no way they wanted this today.

The campaign was intending to have today focused on their new ad campaign framing the election. But this was a mess of the White House's own making, because the bottom line is the president has this convoluted position on gay marriage, where, as you showed, he has in a sense taken a position where he says to gay families when he's talking at fund-raisers, he will say things that indicate to them that he seems to be for possibly gay marriage in a second term.

He will say something like there's much more work to be done when it comes to loving couples having more rights. And when I talk to gay donors, many of whom give millions of dollars to the president's campaign, they uniformly say he will be for gay marriage in a second term, but he will not come out and say that publicly. So they are inevitably going to get caught up in this kind of craziness here at the White House when they're being so vague.

So, in a sense, he is trying to have it both ways. But it's not a deliberate effort today. This was a mess for the White House -- Anderson.

COOPER: Richard, the president seems to believe this is a states issue. Vice President Biden, according to Axelrod, is on the same page with the president. But Vice President Biden is saying that gay couples should have the same rights as heterosexual couples in marriage. But if it's a states' right issue, the federal government still doesn't recognize those marriages and therefore on immigration issues and other federal issues, they don't have the same rights.

RICHARD SOCARIDES, PRESIDENT, EQUALITY MATTERS: Yes. I don't think that's currently the president's position, although as Jessica said, it's very hard to discern exactly where the president is. He's kind of got this neither yes nor neither no position.

I think that a awhile back, when he talked about the rights of states to decide for themselves, I think he was speaking about the New York situation last summer and others. But this is an issue that we're having a national discussion on. And the president needs to articulate a leadership position. This issue's not going to go away, especially now after Vice President Biden's very candid and, quite frankly, welcome remarks.

COOPER: Well, Richard, do you think he's trying to have it both ways? That he's basically after the election going to speak out in support of same-sex marriage?

SOCARIDES: Well, I think that he's gotten some bad political advice, quite frankly.

I think that some of his political advisers have somehow determined that between now and the election, if he kind of be a neutral on this, that it might be advantageous for him. But I think that not only they are wrong in terms of the electoral map, but I think that they're wrong because I think people want their president to lead on important issues like equality.

COOPER: Jessica, doesn't this sort of for the president play into the criticism he got after talking to the former Russian president where he talked about, you know, he said he'd have more flexibility after the election?

YELLIN: Well, arguably yes, that you could think he doesn't speak his mind fully.

But the truth is when you look at some of the polling data, Anderson, there is a cold, hard political reality, which is there are certain key groups that don't support gay marriage. While a majority of Americans do, by small majorities, African-Americans, voters over 50, and non-college voters do not support gay marriage.

And in a razor-thin election, where every single vote counts, those are groups that the campaign might be loathe to alienate. And it is possible that this is a decision they have made that they just don't want to take a risk in coming out on this issue now. And if he's reelected he could come out on it afterwards and they might have decided no harm done in making that choice.

COOPER: Richard Socarides...


COOPER: Go ahead.

SOCARIDES: I think Jessica's exactly right. I think she summed it up very well.

But the point is that, you know, a majority of Americans now support this and nobody who supports -- who doesn't support the president is going to vote against him because of his stance on gay rights. This president has been a terrific president on gay rights. And this one issue is not going to change anybody's vote. And we already know what the president stands for.

COOPER: Richard Socarides, Richard, won't it -- it could -- you know, for those who are opposed to same-sex marriage, it could mobilize them and make them more motivated to vote against the president.

SOCARIDES: You know, I think that if you make electoral and campaign decisions based upon who's going to be mobilized on the other side, I just think this whole political calculation is way too cute.

This is an issue that we're having a national debate on. The president can't say I haven't made up my mind. What is he going to say? I haven't made up my mind? He's shown such great leadership on so many other issues, including other gay rights issues. I think he's going to have to say something about this.


Richard Socarides, appreciate you being on, Jessica Yellin, as well.

On the eve of North Carolina's primaries, a neurosurgeon who is running for Congress isn't backing down from his birther comments. He is convinced President Obama's birth certificate is a forgery, despite the facts -- my interview with him next.


COOPER: Most of the country, including top Republicans, thought the birther issue was dead. But in North Carolina, on the eve of its primaries, the issue is once again very much alive.

Long after the matter was put to rest by the facts, several Republican congressional candidates are still questioning President Obama's birthplace.

In North Carolina's Ninth District race, for example, Jim Pendergraph has said he has, quote, "reason to be suspicious" about whether President Obama was born in the United States. He also said, quote, "Generally, where -- when there's smoke there's got to be fire somewhere."

In the state's Eighth District, Richard Hudson who's considered a leading candidate to unseat the current Democratic congressman, told a Tea Party group, quote, "There's no question President Obama's hiding something on his citizenship." He's been backing off that comment in recent days.

But one of his opponents, Dr. John Whitley, a neurosurgeon, isn't backing down at all. He's called President Obama's birth certificate a, quote, "a poorly reproduced forgery."

How does he know this? He compared it to the Hawaiian birth certificate of one of his staffers. He also said, quote, "There's a tremendous amount of smoke here. In fact, it's called a smoke screen."

Now, I could go through all the evidence on President Obama's birth certificate point by point, but this has been done already so many times before. Nevertheless, I wanted to talk to Dr. Whitley to see how a doctor, a man of science, could continue to make completely disproving claims about President Obama's citizenship. I spoke to Dr. Whitley earlier.


COOPER: Dr. Whitley, you say that you and your people have confirmed that President Obama's birth certificate, the one that was released in 2011, was forged. You claim you've confirmed this on your own.

How do you do that? Are you a trained expert in historical legal documents of Hawaii?

DR. JOHN WHITLEY, NEUROSURGEON: No, I'm not. No. What we did was we took a bona fide original birth certificate from Hawaii. And we subjected it to the same scrutiny that the document experts hired by Sheriff Arpaio did. And we came up, essentially, with the same results that they did. We were just reproducing what his experts came up with with their evaluation.

COOPER: You say he hired -- first of all, you say Sheriff Arpaio hired experts. He hired nobody. He had -- he had volunteers who were some former investigators, a volunteer posse, allegedly working on this. So do you know by name his document experts?

WHITLEY: No, I do not.

COOPER: So you don't know that he actually had document experts?

WHITLEY: I would think that Sheriff Arpaio, who is a great American, as far as I'm concerned, he would not ask someone to review a document that he did not feel they were expert and qualified to render opinion, whether they charge for it. In fact the fact that they did not charge for it, from what you're saying, I believe gives more credence to their results.

COOPER: What document experts examined the certificate of live birth of the employee who works for you that you believe is a bona fide Hawaii birth certificate?

WHITLEY: The individual who has the birth certificate, who is a medical expert in terms of the type of specialty that he's in which is nuclear medicine. He's not a document expert...

COOPER: You're saying somebody who works with you, who you -- who has a bona fide Hawaiian birth certificate. How do you know it's a bona fide Hawaiian birth certificate?

WHITLEY: I have seen it. I have it. I have ran my fingers across the seal. I have looked at it.

COOPER: So you're seeing seals can't be forged. I'm curious. You don't believe President Obama's birth certificate but because you raised your fingers on a raised seal on a document, you believe it's real?

WHITLEY: I believe that the birth certificate of the individual who works for me is an accurate, original birth certificate.

COOPER: But you've had no experts examine it. But you've just taken this on faith, because you've your fingers along the raised seal?

WHITLEY: Well, I've at it and held it in my hand. I take it on faith that this is...

COOPER: So you know that -- you know that nonpartisan organizations have also looked at the certificate of live birth that President Obama's campaign released in 2008. They ran their fingers along this raised seal, as well, and have declared that a legitimate document.

You also know that there were -- that the former health director in the state of Hawaii has testified and given an affidavit that she examined President Obama's birth certificate in the records and that it's legitimate and that the Republican governor of Hawaii has verified that, as well.

WHITLEY: Well, I think there's a lot of subjectivity to that. I'm not exactly convinced that is the case. If the original...

COOPER: So it's part of some conspiracy from the governor of Hawaii, the health director of Hawaii,, and nonpartisan organizations that have examined that, as well as the state registrar, who has confirmed the 2011 document that was released is the actual birth certificate? They're all in some grand conspiracy?

WHITLEY: I'm not sure -- I'm not sure that we -- well, I'm just saying I don't think the document that the White House recently released as a long form of his birth certificate is an actual, legitimate copy of the original birth certificate.

COOPER: But, sir, you know it was verified by the state registrar. So the state registrar of Hawaii, you're saying, is also in on this?

WHITLEY: I'm saying that there's a lot of questions that still lend itself to this birth certificate, which is taking us away from really the important issues that we need to be discussing. COOPER: Well, sir, you're the one who brought -- you're the one who brought these issues up. You have a few thousand dollars in your bank account. Isn't this just a desperate attempt to appeal to some folks who may come out and vote tomorrow?

Isn't this some sort of desperate -- I mean, you're a doctor. You're a smart guy. There's no evidence this is a fake document. Why should anyone believe that the document that the document -- that some person you know who says they're from Hawaii, why should anybody believe that's real?

WHITLEY: Well, this document is here and available for anyone who would like to come and personally look at it, touch it, feel it, feel their -- feel the seal on the document. They can do that. We cannot do that with the current document out there about President Obama.

COOPER: Have you run your fingers along President Bush's seal on his birth certificate? I mean, have you raised any objections? Have you looked at his birth certificate?

WHITLEY: No, I have not.

WHITLEY: No. So it's only this president who you believe you need to examine personally his birth certificate. Have you flown to Hawaii? Have you made any effort to contact the White House and ask for it?

WHITLEY: No, I have not.


COOPER: Dr. John Whitley, who's running tomorrow in the election and wants to be a congressman from the Eighth Congressional District in North Carolina. The primary, as I said, is tomorrow.

Coming up, big questions tonight about big money raised for disabled veterans. "Keeping Them Honest," we're going to close look at what one charity did with millions of dollars, more than $50 million, in fact, and why the donations never made it to those who need it.


COOPER: Coming up, will a school bake sale be a thing of the past? Say it ain't so. "The RidicuList" coming up on "360."


COOPER: Another "Keeping Them Honest" report. When you open your heart and a wallet to help a charity, how do you know your money will be put to good use?

There are a lot of new questions tonight about millions of dollars donated in hopes of helping America's disabled veterans. The charity that collected all that cash is under scrutiny, because there's no sign of the money helping the men and women who have sacrificed so much to keep all of us safe.

Here's Drew Griffin of CNN's investigations unit.


DREW GRIFFIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Mary Alice Dick, a retired English professor, is pretty charitable, especially to groups for disabled veterans. So it didn't surprise her when she opened her mailbox one day and found this.

(on camera) With your husband's name on them?


GRIFFIN: In the fundraising industry, they're called guilt packages. And when this one arrived, a big calculator and a calendar book with her husband's name on them, Mary Alice felt the guilty tug to make that donation.

DICK: And see. It started with Disabled American Veterans. How many people are going to look at it and think that they are the same organization?

GRIFFIN (on camera): And they're not?


GRIFFIN (voice-over): In fact, the gifts were not from the well- known and respected Disabled American Veterans but from a newer, much smaller charity, the Disabled Veterans National Foundation.

Something didn't smell right, so this retired English teacher did some research and found that the DVNF gets an "F" from a charity watchdog group.

According to its tax filings, raising nearly $56 million in donations for veterans in the past three years, but according to the records CNN found, none of that 56 million has gone to direct services for veterans.

DICK: Making lots of money off of it. I mean, when you're talking about millions of dollars that people are doing by grabbing money from people who don't have it.

GRIFFIN (on camera): Who believe, out of the goodness of their own heart, that they are giving money to the troops.

DICK: A worthy cause.

GRIFFIN: The purpose is to try to explain to me why these numbers don't add up.

(voice-over) CNN has been trying to reach the Disabled Veterans National Foundation off and on for nearly two years. A public relations man did return our phone call outside the group's Washington, D.C., headquarters in 2010. But the manager refused to talk.

And despite e-mails and more phone calls, our repeated requests for interviews were all denied.

DANIEL BOROCHOFF, CHARITYWATCH.ORG: Up to $2 billion is raised in the name of veterans in this country, and it's so sad that a great deal of us waste -- hundreds of millions of dollars of our charitable dollars intended to help veterans is being squandered and wasted by opportunists and individuals and companies that seek it -- see it as a profit-making opportunity.

GRIFFIN: Daniel Borochoff runs a charity watch dog group out of Chicago. He grades charities on just how much good and bad they do with your donations.

Veterans and military charities are some of the worst, he says. And that includes the Disabled Veterans National Foundation, which he gives an "F," because hardly any of the donations make it to the people the group is fund raising for.

So back to that 56 million the group has raised. If it hasn't gone to direct contributions to veterans, where exactly did it go?

(on camera) As far as we can tell, up to the tenth floor of this Manhattan office building to a company called Quadriga Arts, a company that specializes in fund-raising. And as far as we can tell, Quadriga Arts knows a lot about fund raising -- for itself.

(voice-over) Quadriga is a private company which, according to its Web site, raises money for more than 500 charities and nonprofits worldwide.

In an e-mail to CNN, a company spokesman said it, quote, "does not discuss specific client relationships." But that spokesman did say Quadriga "at times chooses to invest money in partnerships with non-profit organizations."

To date, Quadriga told CNN it's actually "lost 7 million investing in veteran nonprofit organizations."

That may be true, but in the case of the Disabled Veterans National Foundation, according to tax documents, not only did all the nearly $56 million in cash donations go to fundraising costs, but the DVNF still owes its foundation another $5 million.

It sounds like backward math. DVNF is reporting on its tax returns that it is costing more than a dollar to raise a dollar, despite the fact that it's fundraising contract with Quadriga says it "wins its fair share of business, because it is a low-cost provider in the nonprofit marketplace."

BOROCHOFF: It's like printing money. I mean, they just print these solicitations. They send them out to millions of people. They don't care -- they don't care about -- you know, the percentage return. All they care about is how much money they get from it.


COOPER: Drew, this is unbelievable. How does this charity get away with this? How can they take in all this money and not give any of it to the people they say they're collecting it for?

GRIFFIN: That's the answer we've been searching for, Anderson. According to the IRS, this is a registered charitable foundation. It does get a lot of warnings, "F" grades from the organizations that monitor these charities, but there doesn't seem to be anything in place that says you can't do this.

And there may be a little loophole. The DVNF does actually give away some stuff, Anderson. It's just stuff like coconut M&Ms.

COOPER: We actually have some of these -- these M&Ms right here. Why on earth did this charity send candy?

GRIFFIN: Well, we found out it's one of these tricks of the trades. The Disabled Veterans National Foundation does give away stuff. Donated stuff. Junk maybe. Leftover stuff that the actual veterans assistance groups are telling us they don't need.

Want an example? How about one group got hundreds of chef's coats, men's football pants. And thousands and thousands, Anderson, of those bags of coconut M&Ms.

COOPER: It's incredible. Drew Griffin, appreciate the reporting. Thank you.

We're going to continue to look into this tomorrow night. Because it raises so many questions, and people need to know about this organization. You can see part two of Drew's report tomorrow night.

Coming up in this night, though, we have the latest in the murder of -- the murder of Churchill Downs. Kentucky police are keeping quiet on the autopsy results. We're going to tell you what they're waiting for before releasing the cause of death. We'll tell you.


SUSAN HENDRICKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Susan Hendricks with a "360 News & Business Bulletin."

Authorities in Kentucky are keeping the autopsy results of Adan Fabian Perez under wraps. He is the horse groomer found dead on the grounds of Churchill Downs the day after the Kentucky Derby. Police say they will only release the cause of death when they finish their investigation or the killer is arrested.

Jurors in the John Edwards trial heard from one of his closest campaign advisers. Peter Scher testified about urging Edwards to stay away from Rielle Hunter before the two began their affair. John Edwards is accused of using campaign cash to cover up their relationship. And election results in France and Greece have an impact on markets here in the U.S. Fears about the future of austerity plans across Europe caused stocks to slide this morning but recovered ground before the close of trading.

And Prince Harry is in Washington, D.C., tonight all decked out for an event honoring his humanitarian efforts and his work with veterans. Harry is a captain and pilot in Britain's army air corps.

Anderson, back to you.

COOPER: Susan, thanks.

Coming up, school bake sales on the chopping block? "The RidicuList" is next.


COOPER: Time now for "The RidicuList." And tonight we're adding the bake sale ban in Massachusetts. That's right. Moms and Dads, hide your banana bread. Put away the coffee cake. Don't think about the Boston cream pie. Bake sales, the tastiest of community fundraisers, are soon to be a thing of the past.

According to "The Boston Herald," as part of a new effort to curb obesity, Massachusetts officials are cracking down on the kinds of food that can be sold in public schools.

So let's stop right there, because before you tweet me or write me a letter, unless it's written in cream-cheese frosting, I'm not that interested. I want to go on record as saying I'm anti-obesity. I get it: it is a major problem. I think school lunches should be healthy. And I totally support getting junk food out of vending machines, just as long as they're not the CNN vending machines.

And look, I have credibility on this issue. It's not like the table outside my office was filled with cupcakes today. OK. The table outside my office was filled with cupcakes today.

But seriously, I love healthy food.


COOPER: Spinach? All right.



COOPER: Now, clearly, I enjoyed the first time I had spinach. And yes, I always eat my vegetables in front of a studio audience.

But here's the thing: according to "The Herald," some parents in Massachusetts are concerned that healthy bake sales won't raise crucial money for school trips and activities. Because you know, brownies taste amazing, and spinach -- spinach tastes like Wolf Blitzer's beard dipped in a salad.

But like I said, I get it. Young people need to eat healthy and lay off the junk food. It's a big problem. In fact, in my old-school mind, this is still what they do in their free time.



CHRIS FARLEY, FORMER CAST MEMBER, NBC'S "SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE": If you love them so much, why don't you marry them? Can I have some?

SPADE: Sure, Cindy. Go ahead.

FARLEY: God, these are good.


SPADE: I thought you were trying to lose weight.

FARLEY: Lay off me, I'm starving!


COOPER: That's a classic.

So yes, good people of Massachusetts, birthplace of the American Revolution and Dunkin Donuts, keep the school lunches healthy. I support you all the way. But no more bake sales? It really needs some sugar coating. I'm going to -- I guess I'll just wash it down on "The RidicuList."

OK. That does it for us. Thanks for watching. "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts now.