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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Fiscal Cliff Compromise?; Syria Loads Chemical Weapons into Bombs
Aired December 5, 2012 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Hey, good evening, everyone. Erin, thanks.
We begin tonight with breaking news on the looming fiscal cliff and signs of a potential, a potential fall, a little bit. For the past few nights we've been telling you about the frustrating lack of progress toward a deal to avert the automatic tax hikes and spending cuts that kick in less than four weeks from now.
Poll after poll shows that you, the American people, want compromise but there weren't many signs that was going to happen. Nothing was getting done.
In a CNN/ORC poll taken a few weeks ago 67 percent said Washington officials who behave like spoiled children in the fiscal cliff discussions. Only 28 percent said they behave like responsible adults.
Well, tonight, there are signs that maybe, just maybe, some responsible adult behavior may prevail. That a compromise might actually be reached.
Joining me now live is senior congressional correspondent Dana Bash, chief White House correspondent Jessica Yellin, and CNN senior political analyst David Gergen.
So, Jessica Yellin, what's the latest? What are you hearing?
JESSICA YELLIN, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Anderson. Well, they are a long way from a deal. But late today Speaker Boehner and President Obama did speak to one another on the phone. Now this is an important development because it's the first time they've talked in a week about the fiscal cliff. I am told, though, that there was no real progress in negotiations. In this sense there was no breakthrough on that central point of tax rates.
As you know, President Obama insists there is no deal unless the GOP agrees to raise rates on the top 2 percent of earners. The GOP says that is a non-starter and the two men have not moved from that basic position.
Now all of this comes at the same time that Treasury Secretary Geithner also said for the first time that the administration would be willing to go over the fiscal cliff in the GOP does not agree to raise those rates. This was Treasury Secretary Geithner earlier today on CNBC.
COOPER: Dana, I mean, it's a sign of --
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Is the administration prepared to go over the fiscal cliff?
TIMOTHY GEITHNER, TREASURY SECRETARY: Absolutely. Yes, again, we see there's no prospect to an agreement that doesn't involve those rates going up on the top 2 percent of the wealthiest Americans. Remember it's only 2 percent. And remember all of those Americans, too, get a tax cut under that framework, on the first $250,000 of their income. So in some sense it's a tax cut for all Americans.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
YELLIN: Bottom line, Anderson, more talking today but we're still at stalemate.
COOPER: Yes, I mean, it's a sign, Jessica and Dana, of just how lack -- how little progress there's been that a phone call is big news between these two.
Dana, and were also hearing some hints of some movements among Senate Republicans -- Tom Coburn, Susan Collins, Olympia Snowe. What are you hearing? How significant is it?
DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's significant for a couple of reasons. One is, you're right, that these altogether three Republicans in different ways suggested that they would be OK with what most Republicans are saying that they're not OK with, which is raising tax rates for the wealthy. As Tom Coburn is probably the most significant because he is the most fiscally -- or just conservative in general, not just fiscally. The fact that he broke with his party.
The others have sort of gone along with this in some ways, shape or form in the past. But I think it's significant because the way these things kind of tend to go is that there is a little bit of a crack and then that tends to send other cracks into the -- into what is now a solid opposition of Republicans still raising rates on the wealthy. So we'll see how that goes.
However, I think it's really important to underscore that we're talking about Senate Republicans and the key thing that we have to watch is House Republicans. Because if something can't get through the house, which has still has a very big majority of Republicans then it can't get through Congress. So those are the class of Republicans we really need to watch.
COOPER: David Gergen, what do you make of this situation? I mean do you think we're any closer to a deal?
DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: I think we might be, Anderson. I think listen, the political theater of all of this certainly suggests we're a long, long way from there. When Erskine Bowles says there's only one in three chance we're going to be successful in avoiding the fiscal cliff, you have to pay attention. When Geithner and other Democrats are saying we're willing to go over the cliff, and that's a growing sentiment within the party, you have to think wow, this is really going to happen.
But if you look at the underlying conversation between them on the substance of it, here we have a Republican Party that for 22 years has uniformly opposed tax increase as now John Boehner has said not only we're putting the $800 billion on the table but we're going to aim it at the rich. And the rich are the ones who are going to pay. That's what he said today.
And yesterday President Obama said something that's very, very important. He offered the outlines of a deal that might work with the Republicans. And that's something we talked about on your show a couple of nights ago, Anderson. And that is, raise the rates now and then engage in the conversations next year on tax deductions and loopholes. And that's called sort of -- that's called base broadening. And base broadening in the past has been attached to lowering the rates. Lowering the rates.
That's what happened back in 1986 with tax reforms. So what the president is saying is, there is a way possibly we could raise the rates temporarily but through further reform that you guys are saying you're interested in. We could lower them back down again next year.
COOPER: David, you've been pretty critical of the president and fellow Democrats. I mean, do you still think they're over playing their hand here?
GERGEN: I think that there are people around the president who are more interested or at least have a strong interest in using this as a way to humiliate Republicans, as a way to really push them to the brink. As opposed to negotiating. I think we'll have to wait and see how it plays out. I do think, Anderson, that what we've seen with second-term presidents in the past and the great scholar Richard Neustadt wrote about this a long time ago.
There is a danger in second terms of hubris, of excessive pride in the White House. I think we're seeing some hints to that. But I think it's unfair to totally label it that way. Let's see this play out a little more.
I believe they have enough to go into private negotiations right now. If both sides continue to refuse, I do think it's the president's responsibility. He is the leader of all the people. And I think people -- I think the country is getting tired of watching the two sides say, you go first, no, no, no, you go first, and sort of They need to get off of that, sit down and get something worked out.
COOPER: And, Jessica, from the White House's perspective, though, I guess they feel they were burned before that and they're trying a different strategy this time. Is that right?
YELLIN: True. You remember last summer during the debt talks, the president was accused of negotiating -- putting his compromised position on the table first, of selling out Democrats, of negotiating against himself and so he is doing the opposite this time, doing exactly what he was criticized for not doing last time. And he's being slammed for it as well. So White House officials shrugged their shoulders every time you go to them asking if they're engaging in overreach.
One of the reasons, Anderson, that they say they are not negotiating with the Republicans on the rest of the issues. Why won't they just put this question of tax rates aside and then discuss everything else and come back with tax rats. They say it's because everything else is easy. They've gone through all of this when -- during the debt talk discussions and they know how this will get one. It can be done very quickly.
The one issue for them is this tax rates, and so they say if the Republicans break on that, when they break on it, they believe they will, then everything else gets done very quickly. Of course the Republicans see it differently.
I'll just add, Anderson, quickly on that point David Gergen just made, the White House explicitly came out today saying, point blank, they do want a two-step process for tax reform, raise the rates on the top 2 percent to '98 -- to the Clinton levels now and let next year be a time for negotiating rates for the future and maybe everybody could lower the rates for everyone during that time.
COOPER: Dana, I mean, how much of this you think is just, you know, public posturing and kind of bloviating on partisan cable channels? Because it does seem like there is a lot of that going on.
BASH: Of course. I mean so much of this is public posturing and bloviating. But I think that the difference between what we are seeing now and what we've seen in the past high-stakes negotiations like this is you have the public posturing, the bloviating and then you have the private OK, guys, let's roll up our sleeves and like really talk about what's going on.
By all accounts that's not happening right now.
BASH: I mean, just like you said, the fact that it's news that the president and the speaker had their first phone conversations which got nowhere in a week is really amazing and it speaks to the lack of the real conversations going on behind the scenes.
But I will say, you know, back to what David and Jessica were saying, David particularly about the fact that questions about whether the White House and the Democrats in general are overreaching, look, when Timothy Geithner says today that he's willing to go over the cliff, he's saying it because yes, it's posturing, but he's also saying it because he means it. And Democrats here have been telling us this for a long time, for months and months and months, before this was even post to the front burner, this issue. They say they realize that they have the leverage because at the end of the day, Republicans don't agree to anything, old tax rates are going to go up and they firmly believe Republicans are going to get blamed. It was very obvious, listening to the speaker today, I was at that press conference talking to him, that they understand that they're losing the message war on that -- on this. That's why he made a point to say it's not that we're not for giving -- raising taxes on the wealthy, it's just the difference over rates.
COOPER: You know, David, it's so interesting how things have changed. I spoke with George Mitchell last night on the program and I was about to speak with Senator Trent Lott. Both have written an op- ed, and in talking to them it's like talking to adults because they're talking about, you know, the way it was even five or six years ago where people actually, you know, had meetings with each other on opposite sides, and you know knew each other and didn't just kind of disappear to their -- to their opposite corners and fly away to their home districts. They actually compromise.
It does -- it's amazing to me how much things have changed just in the last couple of years.
GERGEN: It's true, Anderson. It's traumatic. You know, it -- and I think there is a lot of blame to go around here. I don't want to try to push it one way or the other. But seeing Bob Dole on the floor of the -- yesterday of the Congress, on the disability question and remember how Bob Dole and George Mitchell, how much they respected each other, how much they worked together, how much they both wanted to negotiate.
There was a sense in the Senate, especially, but even in the House some years ago that the purpose of being there was to make progress for the country. And yes, you've made your arguments loud and clear. But at the end of the day you sat down and negotiate it out because that's what the country needed. And now there's this -- there's this willingness to keep trying to pin the political blame on the other side, keep trying to push the other side, making sure that they get the blame if this thing goes down. Rather than sort of saying, how do we make sure we don't go down?
COOPER: Yes. David, we'll leave it there.
Dana Bash, Jessica Yellin, appreciate your reporting tonight.
So signs there could be progress but far from a done deal. As we mentioned the treasury secretary said today the Obama administration is absolutely willing to go over the fiscal cliff if Republicans don't agree to raising taxes on the rich.
All this week, we've been focusing on what it is about this Congress and this administration that makes it seem like compromise is a dirty word. Certainly the extremes in the party that seem to view it that way.
We've been talking, as I mentioned, with past congressional leaders who sat down at the negotiating table facing sharp differences with the other political party in the past. And still managing to come out with a deal.
Today I spoke -- a short while ago with the former Senate majority leader, Trent Lott, author of "Herding Cats: A Life in Politics."
Listen to him.
COOPER: Senator Lott, you and Senator Mitchell, who we spoke with yesterday on the program, both wrote op-eds diagnosing dysfunction in Washington right now and offering some solutions. You said one solution was for Congress to start holding routine committee hearings, marking up bills, voting on legislation. I think most Americans would agree with that, but be surprised to hear that -- I mean, that's their job.
I think most of us, you know, would assume isn't that their job description?
TRENT LOTT (R), FORMER SENATE MAJORITY LEADER: Well, they've slowly slipped away from that over the last four years, I guess. Particularly the last two years. The Senate hasn't passed a budget resolution in several years now. They don't do their appropriations bills before the end of the fiscal year. Not even the end of the calendar year. They haven't had a traditional conference between the House and Senate in at least a year.
COOPER: I mean, I don't want to sound hysterical, but that just sounds crazy to me.
LOTT: It does to me, too. And frankly, it's one of the simple things that they can do that would be a solution to the gridlock and the partisanship we have now. I think if they would go back to the old way of getting things done, carefully and systematically, would really help them.
COOPER: And I mean, here we are -- to your point, here we are at the edge of a fiscal cliff and Congress is still taking three-day weekends and planning on a holiday break.
LOTT: You know, I did an interview last night, the moderator of a panel I was on with Mark Shields, and he asked me, if you could just recommend one thing other than going back to what we call regular order, what would it be? And my recommendation to the Congress and to the president would be, quit campaigning, quit having press conferences, sit down at a round table and negotiate a deal.
There's a little bit of a revisionist history where we talk about how it was so good in the old days. It was tough then, too. But we got it done. And one of the way we did it we quit running around, talking at each other, and sat down and talked with each other.
COOPER: Your op-ed, the headline was "Washington Lost It's Love of the Deal." And it really does seem like that, that deal making, that compromise, even just talking to each other like civilize human beings, doesn't seem like that's happening at all.
LOTT: It's not happening. And you know, Anderson, I was always a conservative Republican and I had very strong beliefs about certain things we should or should not do. But also thought that I was sent to Washington by the people of my state not to make a statement but to make a difference and try to get a result.
When you're dealing with 100 United States senators, let alone 435 House members, you're not going to get it all the way you want it. The president is going to have to give some, the president is going to show leadership, the leaders in the Congress have to step up.
Now it's kind of dangerous because the - you know, the extremes in both parties, they're not looking for compromise, they're looking for a win on their point of view. But you have to be prepared to give some, you have to be prepared to push to get something done. And if you do that, if you make up your mind I'm going to get this done, you will.
COOPER: And when you were leaving the Senate, I mean, you spoke to Senator Daschle all the time.
LOTT: I had a red phone on my desk. Sometimes the problems in Washington or in the Congress and in the administration, the staff people, so I had a red phone where when I picked up that phone it rang only one place. On Tom Daschle's desk. And he picked it up, I knew I was talking to Tom Daschle, not his staff, not my staff. Sometimes he and I act the lead when our conferences were not ready to move.
I remember one time I called him. I stepped down from a conference meeting, and I said, Tom, you know we need to do this. I'm having problems. He said, I am, too. I said, let's do it. He said, let's go out. See you on the floor. We went up on the floor of the -- the Senate, we called the bill up, and we passed it by sundown.
You've got to do that every now and then. Eve though you might get your little flak from some of the people within your conference. It's called leadership, Anderson.
COOPER: So what for you, do you think, was the moment that this changed? That compromise became a dirty word?
LOTT: You know --
COOPER: I mean, Democrats point to the Tea Party and say --
LOTT: Well, look, I used to get --
COOPER: On the right that's it. Republicans will say on the left there are extremes as well.
LOTT: Yes. Yes. There are extremes on both sides. And I used to get hammered for being -- I was accused of being a compromiser or a dealmaker. I didn't know those were dirty words. But it didn't just happen overnight. It wasn't an event. It's been evolutionary thing, Anderson. A lot of things contributed to it. Tom Daschle, my good friend, that was the Democratic leader when I was the majority leader for the Republicans, says, the biggest problem is the airplane. Because members -- you know, they don't bring their families up here anymore. They come in here on a Monday night or a Tuesday morning, and all they want to know is what can I leave Thursday.
You can't legislate in 48 hours a week. You can legislate when you're in session two weeks and off a week, or on three weeks or off a week. The schedules don't match. So number one, it's part of the times we're in. When I came up here, we didn't cell phones, fax machines, you know, computers.
LOTT: And so we spent time together. We knew each other. We like each other. Across party lines. That doesn't happen now. Members run away now. Part of it is, frankly, Anderson, 24/7 news, you make a mistake in this city now and you're toast for days.
LOTT: And so it is all of the above. But it can change, Anderson, once people make up their mind look, we are going to start doing things a little differently. We are going to go back and do some of the things that worked.
Part of it is generational perhaps, and maybe with the next generation, it'll be different.
COOPER: Well, I would just say on a personal note, I wouldn't sell yourself short. It's good to have people there who know how to -- how to compromise, who know how to get things done and who have experience there. So it's good to talk to you.
LOTT: It's nice to talk to you, Anderson.
COOPER: It's good to talk to you, Senator. Thank you.
LOTT: OK. Appreciate it.
COOPER: Well, let us know what you think about this. Follow me on Twitter @AndersonCooper, I'm tweeting about this already tonight.
We also have more breaking news ahead. A startling report from NBC tonight. The Syrian military loading chemical weapons into bombs and are waiting orders from President Assad to use them. That's the concern among U.S. officials. The belief that's happened. We'll talk it over with Fran Townsend, Bob Baer, and Barbara Starr, next.
COOPER: Welcome back. We've got important breaking news to tell you about right now. NBC News is reporting that U.S. officials say their worst fears have been confirmed that the Syrian military has loaded chemical weapons inside bombs. NBC says those same officials say that Bashar al-Assad's forces are now awaiting final order to use those loaded missiles against Syria's own people.
This video, posted online which we should say we can't independently verify, purports to show Syrian missiles that have been modified to carry chemical and biological weapons. Now obviously this is a sobering development, a situation that seems to be getting worse, you know, by the day.
Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr joins me now, along with CNN contributor and former CIA officer, Bob Baer, and on the phone, CNN national security contributor, Fran Townsend.
Barbara, I know you're working to confirm this NBC report, how much would this development change the situation? I mean, if the U.S. military is going to act to prevent Assad from gassing his own people, it would seem if they loaded this up into weapons, the time do it would be at hand.
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, right now, I can tell you, Anderson, if this turns out to be true, even if not, the U.S. military, the CIA in a full blown effort to collect every piece of intelligence they can about what is going on with the chemical weapons and develop a targeting strategy, if it were to come to that. So what are we talking about here, Anderson. They have to put together targeting options for the president. That involves the latest intelligence.
Where are the chemical weapons in Syria? What would you do to attack them? What kind of U.S. bomber aircraft would you use? Do you know precisely where they are? How will you get that bomber aircraft past Syrian air defenses? And I think it's very safe to assume the neighboring countries, Israel, Turkey, Jordan, their intelligence services also working this problem around the clock.
There is a lot we know, there is growing concern by the hour in the region. Because, if the Syrians use these kind of weapons against their own people, catastrophic. But if it -- they also use them, these weapons, the plume clouds, if you will, can cross borders. Terrorists could get ahold of this kind of material if it's now out of secure locations and take it across borders into Israel, Jordan or Turkey. It just doesn't get more serious than this.
COOPER: Bob, you've obviously been looking to how catastrophic these weapons can be.
ROBERT BAER, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Anderson, look at it this way. A 122-millimeter artillery rounds with mixed sarin, landing in the middle of a city will immediately kill 18,000 to 20,000 people. And that's in the first seconds.
COOPER: One round?
BAER: One round. And the dispersion on that could be -- depends on the wind, but you could take out, let's say, a city like Homs. You could take out a third of the city in the first couple of hours.
Anderson, this is a highly toxic liquid. It's a persistent agent. Absolutely completely deadly. And keep in mind that if in fact they mixed the sarin, it's a binary agent, it doesn't do you any good to bomb these sites because it'll just disperse the chemicals all around. And if they're sitting in cities or near cities, it will have the same amount of damage.
So we are faced with a terrible dilemma. And of course, if you take one of these rounds and put it on artillery, you could fire it into anywhere you want. Into Israel, for instance. And considering that al Qaeda is on the ground in Syria, there's all sorts of disaster scenarios. They're remote, but there's still a possibility.
COOPER: Yes. I know -- I -- let's -- you know, we don't want to speculate too much. This is an NBC report that they have been loaded into bombs. We haven't been able to independently confirm it at this point.
Fran, from your experience in the White House, what kind of planning goes on at a point like this? I mean are the president's military advisers presenting him with options? And to Bob's point, if you strike these targets from the air, it doesn't help. It can disperse something like sarin.
FRANCES FRAGOS TOWNSEND, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CONTRIBUTOR: That's right, Anderson. And so senior military officers have confirmed to me what they told us months ago and that is this sort of confusion (INAUDIBLE), the planning for how do you secure what may be as many as four dozen chemical weapons sites? What does that take? What sort of coordination with our military allies and NATO would take? What about the neighbors and what will they contribute?
There's been a good deal of military planning, training and coordination that's gone on over the last six to 12 months for this. Now that's all in preparation for exactly what Barbara and Bob are telling us now. That is, now you have to understand given the current intelligence, and there is a real priority on collecting current, real-time intelligence, to understand now how do you take those plans that have been working and address immediate threats, and that's the challenge.
You bet here that the president's military advisers, along with the national (INAUDIBLE) staff, are working to present some options.
COOPER: Bob, I think back to, like, you know, my entry-level political science classes in college, when we talk about the rational actor model. And assuming that Bashar al-Assad is a rational actor and, you know, even if he thinks he may lose and may need a place to go some day like Russia or be able to, you know, live in exile somewhere. Just rationally speaking, it would not make sense for him to use these weapons, would it?
BAER: Well, we have to look at the generals around him. It's -- he's not alone in this. He's not a single man making these decisions. There are a group of Alawite generals. They're from his own promotion which are controlling this war. They are not being offered a way out. You know, and the way they look at it -- I have spent a lot of time with these people, they're virtually a cult. They think their survival is at stake.
And even if the United States were to enter, you know, in any sort of -- you know, the going and get the weapons, that would be a better option for them than to losing to the rebels who they consider terrorists, fundamentalist, whatever you want, and their chances are dimming by the day and they're very desperate and they are this closed in mentality and it's unpredictable exactly what they're going to do right now.
COOPER: And to Barbara, I guess to Bob's earlier point, even if these weapons are not used, if the chemicals are mixed and loaded into delivery devices, that's a concern because as Bob said, there's al Qaeda groups on the ground, there are jihadist groups on the ground. And if the control over these weapons then is lost who knows where they could end up.
What's the U.S. military posture in the region in terms of aircraft carrier, fighter jets, the ability for the U.S. to actually project power into this?
STARR: Well, the U.S. does have an aircraft carrier last time we checked nearby in the Red Sea. Pardon me, amphibious warships with Marines on board in the Red Sea. They could move north. There are aircraft throughout the Persian Gulf region. Fighters and bombers, there are aircraft carriers in the North Arabian Sea on station for missions over Afghanistan.
All of these things could be brought to bear. But I think what the U.S. is hoping at this point is that very rapidly somehow they can mobilize support amongst the neighboring countries to get Assad to back away from this. But Bob's point is absolutely key. Assad could go into asylum tomorrow, the crisis would not end. If you do not have an orderly transition of power, if you have no assurance and on who's in charge in Syria the day after Assad leaves this problem of security of the chemical weapons perhaps becomes even more dire.
COOPER: Yes, it's sobering stuff and especially Bob's assessment of the power of just one shell in a -- in a city like Homs.
Bob, I appreciate you being on. Barbara Starr, Fran Townsend, we'll continue to follow it as well.
Up next, while lawmakers have been battling over the fiscal cliff crisis, they did manage to find time to vote on a treaty that would have protected disable people around the world. It's modeled on the Americans with Disabilities Act, but 38 Republican senators blocked it with their votes. You might ask why would they do that? Well, we'll tell you ahead.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) COOPER: An arrest in the death of a New York man who was pushed off the tracks and killed by a subway. Tonight on 360, I'm going to talk with another man who jumped on to the tracks once and saved a man's life three years ago. He says all the criticism for those who didn't help this time is misguided. You're going to hear why coming up.
COOPER: Back to Capitol Hill, this time, "Keeping Them Honest," not to try to take sides or pulling for Democrats or Republicans, there are other cable channels for that. Our focus tonight is reporting, focusing on facts and trying to expose hypocrisy where we find it.
Yesterday, the Senate blocked a U.N. treaty aimed at protecting the rights of disabled people around the world. One hundred twenty five countries have ratified it. It's modeled on the American with Disabilities Act, which the U.S. passed 22 years ago.
But 38 U.S. Republican senators voted against the U.N. treaty leaving it five votes short of ratification. Not even a rare visit by former republican Senator Bob Dole just before the vote made a difference.
He is 89 now, appeared frail in his wheelchair and Dole who, as you know, is disabled from war injuries. He came to the chamber to show his support for the treaty. Rick Santorum, the former senator, Republican presidential candidate, led the charge against the treaty.
He and some other Republicans warned that it would jeopardize U.S. sovereignty and personal freedoms. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RICK SANTORUM, FORMER U.S. SENATOR: The problem is there is a provision in this international law, which we would be adopting if the Senate ratifies this, which puts the state in the position of determining what is in the best interest of a disabled child.
SENATOR MICHAEL LEE (R), UTAH: I simply cannot support a treaty that threatens the right of parents to raise their children with the constant looming threat of state interference.
SENATOR JIM INHOFE (R), OKLAHOMA: The treaty could be used to interfere with the ability of parents with disabled children to decide what action is in the best interest of their children.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: That all sounds very alarming, but keeping them honest, it's just not true. The treaty does create a committee that can issue non-binding recommendations on how nations can do better on disability rights, but it doesn't and I repeat does not require any changes to existing state and federal laws. In July, former Republican Attorney General Dick Thornburg testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee saying that the treaty's provisions and I quote, "protect U.S. sovereignty and recognize the convention as a non-discrimination instrument similar to our own Americans with disabilities act."
In other words, the U.N. treaty can't force the U.S. to do in anything, nothing all, but that fact didn't stop Rick Santorum whose 4-year-old daughter is disabled from pushing his own storyline and frankly twisting the facts along the way. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SANTORUM: This is a direct assault on us and our family to hand over to the state to ability to make medical determinations and see what is in the best interest of the child and not look at the wonderful gift that every child is.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: After the treaty was voted one, John Kerry, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and an advocate of the treaty said and I quote, "This is one of the saddest days that I have seen in almost 28 years in the Senate. It needs to be a wakeup call about a broken institution that's letting down the American people. We need to fix this place." Well today, he addressed Mr. Santorum's claims.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SENATOR JOHN KERRY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: I have great respect for both Rick and his wife, Karen, and their daughter and their family. He is a strong family man. But, he either simply hasn't read the treaty or doesn't understand it or was not factual in what he said.
Because the United Nations has absolutely zero, I mean, zero ability to order or to tell or to even, they can suggest, but they have no legal capacity to tell the United States to do anything under this treaty, nothing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, tonight many disability rights advocates are saying that politics trump the welfare of the disabled everywhere. The seven-term Democratic Congressman Jim Langevin of Rhode Island is among the many supporters of the U.N. Treaty. He is the first quadriplegic person to serve in the U.S. House.
Before yesterday's voting talked with former Senator Bob Dole in the Senate Chamber. The congressman joins me now. You voted for this treaty. You joined Senator McCain and Kerry earlier this week calling for its ratification. Why do you think it is so important?
REPRESENTATIVE JIM LANGEVIN (D), RHODE ISLAND: First of all, Anderson, thank you for having me on the program. Thank you for paying attention to this very important issue. This issue is important not just for people here at the United States, but most especially for people around the world who don't yet enjoy the protections that disable people like myself enjoy here in the United States because of the American Disabilities Act.
That law has really transformed the lives of people with disabilities and I can speak to that first hand. I was injured in 1980 and I became paralyzed after a gun accident. I know what the world was like both before and after the ADA. I can tell you it is remarkably different
It is a shame that the Senate couldn't pass that measure yesterday, but I want to thank Senator Kerry and Senator McCain, Senator Harkin for their extraordinary leadership in everything they did to get up to this point, the bipartisan support of the 61 senators who did vote in favor of it.
COOPER: But I mean, some people look at the ADA, the Americans with Disabilities Act and they say if the U.S. has what's considered by many would be the gold standard of legislation in this area. Why do we even need a treaty from the U.N.?
LANGEVIN: Because we are in many ways endorsing the work of the U.N. in trying to spread that message of equality and protection of the rights of people with disabilities around the world. And how can we in a sense show leadership in this are if we are not able to and willing to join with other nations around the world who have supported this treaty?
COOPER: So for those who say this violates U.S. sovereignty because they argue could somehow force changes in U.S. law. Is that even possible? I don't see how that is possible.
LANGEVIN: Not even possible, not even possible. In fact, the Senate, advice and consent made it very clear, that it does not trump U.S. law. In fact, there is a U.S. Supreme Court decision I believe it was in 2004 that said such statements by the senate are positive.
It would give no standing to any one in U.S. courts and does not trump the constitution or any U.S. law. In many ways, it is a standard that we want other nations to aspire to if you will. We are setting the standard with the passage of the Americas Disabilities Act.
But it makes the treaty have -- making the rights of people with disabilities even more relevant and more clear by endorsing a treaty that is designed to give the same protections around the world that we enjoy here in the United States.
COOPER: So, in fact, the whole idea of it is directed toward other countries around the world as opposed to the United States. There are obviously quite a few lawmakers who are opposed to anything related to the United Nations, suspicious of the U.N. Do you think that is part of what this opposition to this treaty is about?
LANGEVIN: I think very clearly what this is about. There are some lawmakers unfortunately and very conservative elements of the Republican Party who have made a decision that any U.N. treaty is not good for the United States. That they don't want to see us signing onto any U.N. Treaty and it's unfortunate.
They are using false arguments, red herrings if you will, to try to scare people or block any kind of endorsement or ratification of a treaty of this nature and to really is a shame that those individuals who -- of that philosophy are using the disabilities law as a way to block a treaty and hurt people if you will around the world that are disabled.
Including people in war torn countries that have received their disability because of war injuries and now they are going to not be able to enjoy the same protection that is we enjoy around the United States. By the way, we heard from individuals here, war veterans who are concerned when they travel around the world.
They may not enjoy the same civil rights protections that the ADA guarantees here. It's another reason why we want others to follow our lead if you will and aspire to pass ADA-type law in their countries. How can we show leadership if we do not sign onto that U.N. Treaty on the conventional rights of person with disability.
So many people work so hard to see that convention document written and approved. Some of the disabilities rights advocates, some of the real heroes in the disabilities movement here in the United States endorsed that treaty. And you have Senator Santorum or others who say this isn't going to be good for disabled people who are they?
COOPER: Yes, well, Congressman, I appreciate your time tonight. Again, we're not reporting on this based on politics. We are just looking at facts here and the facts that were being used against this were just incorrectly used. They just weren't true. Congressman, appreciate your time tonight.
No end to the violent protests. In Egypt tonight, President Mohamed Morsy is preparing to address his country. The latest on that coming right up.
COOPER: Police announce an arrest in the deadly subway altercation in New York City. Up next, you're going to hear from a man who risked his own life to save a man who fell onto the subway tracks a few years ago. The question is, would you be able to do the same thing? We'll be right back.
COOPER: Police in New York announcing an arrest in a crime that has really shocked the city and much of the country. The 30-year-old Naim Davis is now facing murder charges for shoving another man in front of an oncoming train.
The arrest is doing little to quite questions about why those in the station didn't try to do more or do anything to help lift him off the tracks. A freelance photographer on the scene shot this photo for the "New York Post." That's the cover showed the victim after it was too late to get out of the train's way. The photographer said he was trying to use his flash to alert the train's driver while others ran for station workers.
But another photo from the "New York Post" shows the man on the tracks with the subway not insight perhaps giving bystanders enough time to help. Our next guest says he understand what's going through a lot of people's minds in a moment like that.
In 2009, Chad Lindsey jumped onto the New York City subway tracks and rescued a man who passed out and fell off the platform. He joins me now. Chad, thanks for being here. What you did was amazing. There has been a lot of criticism of not only the photographer, but other people who are on the platform. You say that's misguided, why?
CHAD LINDSEY, 2009 NYC SUBWAY HERO: Well, because they weren't there. You know, I think, we do a lot of quarterbacking from the couch. We don't know what happened. That is a still shot. You know, how do you know how far away he was? How do you know how -- and also people have different reflexes and you don't know what they are until they are tested.
COOPER: I found that in war zones. You don't know how they are going to react. Some people you think are going to rise to the occasion, do not and some people who you think are going to shirk away, do rise to the occasion.
LINDSEY: I'm a trained dancer and actor, when someone falls, I catch them. He's a trained photographer. You know, so you don't know what -- you do what your muscles are trained to do. That may sound like an excuse and maybe it is, but it is not our job to judge his actions. It's our job to control our own, you know --
COOPER: You also say that the track is deeper than a lot of people think and it's not so easy. It's just like --
LINDSEY: You know, it is deeper than it looks and there is the edge that has been cut away. There is nothing to brace against, which I didn't know until I tried to press myself up out of there. It is dirty and slippery and greasy.
COOPER: You were also sort of confident in your own knowledge of the subway tracks because I mean, you knew where the third rail is. Like I ride the subway every day, I don't think I know where the third rail is.
LINDSEY: I'm a bit of a train guy so I know how they are built and what it looks like in where things go. Although I learned something new today because of this, which is that if you run to the end of the track, there are ladders, which I guess I've seen, just never thought of it.
But if you run in the direction -- run away from the train, that there is a ladder at the end, which is helpful I think although there are lots of things that can go wrong there too. So ultimately train safety is your best bet.
COOPER: There is another photo of when Mr. Hunt fell on the tracks. It doesn't look like the train is that close. It seems like there may have been time to help.
LINDSEY: And if that is the case then we have something else here, Mr. Anderson Cooper, which is we need to decide as Americans, as human beings whether we are going to be in a moment or we're going to take a picture of it.
And again, this is not to throw blame back on the photographer, but there were lots of people on that platform and there were lots of people on the platform when I was in the same situation. And a lot of them backed up against the wall or ran for the station door.
Our culture is obsessed with proving we were there so I'm going to post this on Facebook and I'm going to put this --
COOPER: I think that's more true than ever. I think you raise a really important point, which is there is this whole instant desire. Rather to have a real experience or be in the moment, people want to document it, take a picture of it and post it later. I think we see that in a lot of different cases. We have to go. We run on short time, but I really appreciate you being with us.
LINDSEY: My pleasure.
COOPER: Amazing what you did years ago, thank you so much.
All right, up next find out why a radio station is apologizing after an incident linked to Prince William's wife, Kate. We'll be right back.
COOPER: There's a lot more happening tonight. Deborah Feyerick joins us for the 360 "News and Business Bulletin" -- Deborah.
DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, there, Anderson. Well, lots of chaos in Cairo protests continues outside the presidential palace. The Health Ministry reports at least four deaths more than 270 injuries.
Sometime in the next few hours, President Mohamed Morsy is expected to address the nation. Demonstrators are upset with his assumption of sweeping powers last month.
Here at home, massive job cuts as Citigroup 11,000 jobs will be eliminated in an effort to trim cost. Citi will also consolidate or close 84 bank branches in the U.S. and other countries.
And an Australian radio station has apologized after making a prank call to the hospital where Prince William's pregnant wife, Katherine, is being treated for acute morning sickness. Two deejays eventually got through to Kate's private nurse after claiming to be Queen Elizabeth and Prince Charles. Take a listen. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED OPERATOR: Hello, good morning. King Edward VII.
RADIO DJ 1: Hello there. Could I please speak to Kate, please? My granddaughter.
UNIDENTIFIED OPERATOR: Yes, just hold on Ma'am.
RADIO DJ 1: Thank you.
RADIO DJ 2: Are they putting us through?
RADIO DJ 1: Yes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FEYERICK: So not only was it a total invasion of privacy, it was also breach of security. What was the poor nurse supposed to do? Ask the queen for some sort of identification or proof that it wasn't she?
COOPER: I have to say it was the worst British accent I have ever heard and anyone who thinks that's the queen is just ridiculous. Deb, thanks very much. Coming up, respected elder pushes for fiscal responsibility by dancing with the guy dressed up like a giant can of soda. The "Ridiculist" is next.
COOPER: Time now for the "Ridiculist." And tonight, I'm proud to present to you a very important message from the steaming former senator from Wyoming, Mr. Alan Simpson. Now this requires your full attention. It's a message from one of the country's most highly respected elder statesman directed to the youth of America.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FORMER SENATOR ALAN SIMPSON: Stop Instagraming your breakfast and tweeting your first world problems and getting on YouTube so you can sing Gangnam style.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Normally, I would say that when former Senator Alan Simpson does it, it probably means that Gangnam style has officially jumped the shark. But I think the dancing can of soda next to him kind of saves it. It adds a kind of a fresh twist and there's more.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SIMPSON: Start using those precious social media skills to go out and sign people up on this baby. These old coots will clean out the treasury before you get there.
(END VIDEO CLIP) COOPER: So it's a video for a group called, "The Can Kicks Back," a nonpartisan campaign by young people to fix the national debt. I think they are totally onto something with this video. I feel like anytime you get to your Alan Simpson say these old coots and talk about Instagramming your breakfast.
It not only screams fiscal responsibility. It also could be used in peace talks and quite possibly could cure the common cold. Unless you think I'm exaggerating, just take a look at how the video ends.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SIMPSON: I have a dumb knee and then the horse back. Ride the cowboy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: It is video Prozac. You are welcome. You know, it is too bad the House of Representatives went home for a break because I think that video is just what Washington needs to crack the whole fiscal cliff wide open. All I'm saying is I think it really has the power to bring people together Simpson style.
That does it for us. We'll see you again for another edition of "360" at 10:00 p.m. Eastern. "PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT" starts now.