Return to Transcripts main page


Pentagon to Open Combat Roles to Women; Benghazi Hearings, Political Theater?; Face of "Lennay Kekua" Speaks Out

Aired January 23, 2013 - 20:00   ET



Good evening, everyone. There's breaking news tonight. No shortage of compelling stories. There's the unwitting, unknowing face of a hoax. Her image stolen used in a stranger's con game college football has ever seen. We'll talk to Diane O'Meara and what it was like to have no connection at all to Manti Te'o yet be known by million as his fictitious girlfriend.

Later inside scientology. My interview with a man who's uncovered details that no one else has and can back it back with reporting like no one else can.

First, though, we begin with breaking news. A military story that could also seriously alter the political battlefield perhaps for decades to come. CNN has learned that tomorrow Defense Secretary Leon Panetta will open the door to women serving in combat units. Now it won't happen all at once. There'll be certain limitations. But for the first time in the long history of America's armed forces, a very big door will now be opening.

The decision comes with plenty of women already fighting and dying overseas, it's important to mention. At least 130 women have been killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. More than 800 wounded.

In a moment we'll talk to a congresswoman and Iraq war veteran, Tammy Duckworth. We'll also explore what could be seismic partisan political consequences. We start, though, at the Pentagon with our Chris Lawrence.

This is pretty ground breaking stuff after women flying helicopters, handling bomb -- bomb sniffing dogs, being combat medics, getting assigned to submarines. This is really the last great barrier to come down, right?

CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Yes, you're exactly right, Anderson. I mean, you're talking about Army infantry, Marine recon units, even potentially special operations forces. This was sort of the big glass ceiling that had not been broken yet.

You mentioned those other ones. The Army recently opened up special ops aviation that women could be pilots and crew members on aviation flights for special operations forces. But this potentially opens up nearly a quarter of a million jobs to women in the military. COOPER: What's the timeline on this? I mean, it doesn't happen all at once.

LAWRENCE: No. It's not like tomorrow all of these jobs are going to open all at once. Some will open fairly quickly. The easiest ones to integrate where you've got a lot of women already sort of attached or working at a -- at a battalion level. Those could be open in six to eight months. But some of the tougher ones, the special operations forces, certain elite infantry units, those may take years.

And what the Pentagon has got to do now is the individual commands have to start to assess when they may be able to make this change and that really is the big catch there, Anderson. That these commands can go through and look and say, at some point, we don't think we can feasibly integrate women without losing combat readiness. They can then go back to the secretary of Defense and ask for an exception to the rule, so ultimately down the road this may not apply to every single job in the military. And it's something that Leon Panetta's successor is going to have to make big decisions about going down the road.

COOPER: So for some of these, would there be different physical standards? Would it all be the same physical standards? How would that work?

LAWRENCE: All that's got to get worked out individually so the Marines will have to look at every job, every combat unit and decide how they want to implement it. If you look at how the Navy did submarines, what they did was they took a small group of women when they were still at the naval academy, brought them in as candidates. Those women trained for a couple of years and just last year and last few months you started to see the first female submarine officers get on board their subs.

After they get integrated, then the Navy is going to bring in some enlisted women behind them and I'm told that's how they may work some of the process with certain elite units.

COOPER: All right. Chris Lawrence, thanks.


COOPER: Joining me now, chief national correspondent, John King, CNN political contributor and Republican consultant, Margaret Hoover, also wounded Iraq war veteran and Illinois Democratic congresswoman, Tammy Duckworth.

So, Congressman, as a veteran, how do you feel when you heard about today's announcement?

REP. TAMMY DUCKWORTH (D), ILLINOIS: I was so pleased because I think it's a great step forward for our military and our nation. You know, this opens up a whole new population of Americans who want to serve and who want to defend this nation who now will be able to do it in combat armed jobs. COOPER: John King, how much of this is about politics?

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think first and foremost it's something the president believes in, Anderson. But if you attach it to some other things he has said he believes in and will push for in his second term, look what we've heard in just the last 48, 72 hours. Women in combat. Ground breaking language in his inaugural address on gay rights. More talk in his inaugural address about equal pay for women. The return of climate change and immigration to his agenda, and gun control.

Take all those issues, what do they have in common? Two things. They fit the demographics of the Obama coalition. How did he win? With college educated women. With younger voters. With nonwhite voters.

So he's embracing, if you will, not only the politics but the policy priorities of his coalition. What else do they have in common? They put pressure like a sharp thumb on some key points in a Republican coalition that this White House frankly thinks is aging, is increasingly white and is fractured.

COOPER: And you're saying, you think there's no doubt that that is part of this equation?

KING: Without a doubt. If you heard Speaker John Boehner just the other day after the inaugural address, he says the president is trying to annihilate the Republican Party. Now that's a strong word. But does this president see an opportunity? I'd be interested in the congresswoman's perspective. If you can't find many Democrats who think that President Obama worries about the Democratic Party, 10, 15, 20 years down the road.

But you will find a lot of Democrats who say, if you can turn the Obama coalition into a Democratic coalition, then Democrats will have built in on the national stage pretty much what Ronald Reagan had for 20 years and Republican Party had after Ronald Reagan on the national stage.

But this coalition, if he can transfer it over, it spells a lot of trouble for the Republicans.

COOPER: Congresswoman -- Congresswoman, what do you think about what John King is just saying?

DUCKWORTH: Well, you know, I -- I don't -- I'm not privy to the president's processes and how he came up with the decision. All I can tell you is that women have been fighting and dying and bleeding for this nation in combat -- in combat roles in Iraq and Afghanistan. They may not have had those jobs specifically other than aviation, my branch of service, but they've been fighting in combat and they've been engaged in combat action.

And I think that the last 10 years of women serving in combat has finally pushed us to this point where, you know, the Pentagon has finally realized look, you know, women have served ably and it's time that we open up these fields.

COOPER: But you are a politician and you know politics. Do you think the president is trying to kind of box Republicans into a corner?

DUCKWORTH: I don't know what the president is trying to do. All I can tell you is that I've certainly, as a politician, supported this throughout my political career but even beforehand. This is something I've been supporting all along even when people were saying, well, women aren't capable of doing it. Yes, they are. They are capable of defending our country just as well as men are.

COOPER: I know you don't want to say what do you think is in the president's mind but from a political standpoint, does this box Republicans into a corner or make it difficult for Republicans?

DUCKWORTH: You know, I think that Republicans are going to -- anyone who would oppose this would have to answer to their constituency as to why they think that women aren't capable of doing their jobs. I think that America's sons and daughters both want to fight -- both want to defend this country and I think that what women have done in Iraq and Afghanistan, our military women, has proven that they are fully capable of doing this.

COOPER: Margaret Hoover, Republican, what do you think?

MARGARET HOOVER, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: I think -- I would encourage Republicans here to not be reactionary and to not take the political bait. The truth is it's exactly what Representative Duckworth said. Women have been fighting in combat roles. I mean there have been -- not only have they been fighting in combat roles in the sense that they are taking action direct combat and seeing engagement, seeing action.

There are also some rules like the Female Marine Engagement Troops in Afghanistan, jobs female Marines are doing that male Marines simply can't do. And they are seeing conflict, they're seeing action as well. So to be reactionary would just be to defy the facts on the ground.

COOPER: But also just from a political standpoint, to John King's point, I mean, do you think this is a -- is politics involved here? That this is shoring up liberal coalition and also boxing Republicans in?

HOOVER: Look, I think it's a perfect marriage of the reality of where the military is going and the coalition the president is trying to coalesce. And so it makes perfect sense for him to do this and Republicans shouldn't be reactionary about it. They should -- the thing that Republicans should care most about is what is going to keep the military the most effective and superior fighting force in the world. And if opening up to women and frankly just sort of being realistic, women already are seeing combat, they should be --

COOPER: Do you agree with John Boehner that Barack Obama is trying to annihilate the Republican Party? HOOVER: I think that he sees a splintered Republican Party and he's going for the jugular and any politician in that position would.

COOPER: So you think it's a smart move?

HOOVER: I mean -- it's certainly savvy. The Republican Party is in a bit of disarray right now. We certainly don't have the upper hand. The president does. So he's being wise tactically.

COOPER: John, I mean, is part of this payback for those comments that McConnell made about, you know, his top job being to make sure that the president wasn't re-elected?

KING: Well, I think part of it is -- you could look at it that way. I'm sure if you asked the president about this he would say that he believes these things. I'm actually told after his inaugural address, his former chief of staff now Chicago mayor, Rahm Emanuel, asked him where did that come from, why did you decide to give that speech, again, with all those points we've talked about.

And I'm told the president looked at him and said, you know, I just decided to say some things that I really believe in. He's a second-term president. He doesn't have to run for re-election. We can talk about these policies. You know, the president didn't do these things. He didn't do women in combat. He didn't lift a finger on climate change. He didn't push hard on immigration. He didn't do gun control in his first term.

So he's a second-term president who doesn't have to face the voters and these are things he wants to bring front and center. How much will he follow-up? We will see. But they do believe in the White House, Anderson.

Pick up a Census report. Look at the demographics of this country and how they're changing. Look at the Obama coalition from the last two elections. They believe if they can cement the loyalty of those voters in and part of cementing the loyalty of voters is acting on the issues they most care about -- younger voters care about climate change, a lot of voters do. But these are issues that fit the Obama coalition. If they can cement that in on a national scale, the Republicans are in trouble.

COOPER: And, Margaret, you would agree that the president believes this. It's not just politics. It's -- I mean, he believes in all these things.

HOOVER: Yes. Yes, I think so. I think he's sincere. I think he's earnest. I don't -- I don't think -- I don't think there's anything insincere about saying Seneca Falls, Selma and Stonewall. I think that's consistent with what he stood for and it's also very politically convenient.

COOPER: Fascinating days.

Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth, appreciate you being with us.

Margaret Hoover, John King, as well, thanks.

Well, let us know what you think. We're talking about it on Twitter right now @AndersonCooper.

Ahead tonight, her face belonged to Manti Te'o. She was the image of the perfect girlfriend. His fictitious girlfriend we now know. We're going to talk to the real woman whose stolen image stole his heart allegedly.

And next on a much serious note, the murder of four Americans in Libya and Secretary of State Clinton's fiery day on Capitol Hill.


HILLARY CLINTON, SECRETARY OF STATE: With all due respect, the fact is we had four dead Americans.


CLINTON: Was it because of a protest or was it because guys out for a walk one night who decided they'd go kill some Americans. What difference at this point does it make? It is our job to figure out what happened and do everything we can to prevent it from ever happening again, Senator.



COOPER: "Keeping Them Honest" tonight, Hillary Clinton's long awaited accountability moment in the murder of four Americans in Libya. These four Americans, Ambassador Christopher Steven, Glen Doherty, Tyrone Woods and Sean Smith. Their names bear repeating. Their sacrifice deserves honest answers and meaningful action, not political posturing and some evasive answers.

So "Keeping Them Honest," are we getting honest answers to truly relevant questions and are those security problems that caused four Americans their lives actually being addressed?

Last month a State Department Accountability Review Board identified systematic shortcomings and failures of leadership prior to the killings. Secretary Clinton says she takes full responsibility. Today on Capitol Hill lawmakers demanded accountability.


REP. MATT SALMON (R), ARIZONA: I am troubled by what seems to be this administration's pattern of misleading the American people and failing to hold decision makers accountable.

CLINTON: Chris Stevens, who probably knew more about Libya than anybody else in our government, did not see a direct threat of an attack of this nature and scale despite the overall trend of security problems that we faced, and I have to add neither did the intelligence community. REP. MICHAEL MCCAUL (R), TEXAS: An emergency meeting was held and a cable set out on August 16th by the ambassador himself warning what could happen and this cable went unnoticed by your office.

SEN. BARBARA BOXER (D), CALIFORNIA: It does cost money to pay for embassy security.

CLINTON: Since 2007, the department has consistently requested greater funding for embassy construction and diplomatic security, with the exception of 2010, Congress has consistently enacted less than requested.

JOHNSON: We were misled that there were supposedly protests and that something sprang out of that --

CLINTON: With all due respect, the fact is we had four dead Americans.

JOHNSON: I understand.

CLINTON: Was it because of a protest or was it because of guys out for a walk one night who decided they'd go kill some Americans? What difference at this point does it make? It is our job to figure out what happened and do everything we can to prevent it from ever happening again, Senator.

SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: Had I been president at the time and I found that you did not read the cables from Benghazi, you did not read the cables from Ambassador Stevens, I would have relieved you of your post. I think it's inexcusable.

REP. JEFF DUNCAN (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: You let the consulate become a death trap. And that's national security malpractice.

CLINTON: I have great confidence that the Accountability Review Board did the job they were asked to do, made the recommendations that they thought were based on evidence, not on emotion.


COOPER: So there's no shortage of heat today as you just saw. But "Keeping Them Honest," was there actually light?

With us tonight is chief Washington correspondent Jake Tapper and former Bush homeland security adviser, Fran Townsend. Fran serves on the CIA's External Advisory Board. She spent time with Ambassador Stevens back in August visiting Libya with her employer MacAndrews & Forbes.

So, Jake, I mean, this kind of hearings, it's very frustrating to watch them. I mean, it just seems like it ends up being a lot of posturing and grandstanding. What exactly did we learn today that we didn't know already?

JAKE TAPPER, CNN CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Well, certainly there were a lot of questions that went unanswered and certain there were a lot of questions that were buried in paragraphs of speeches that the members of Congress gave that allowed Secretary Clinton to not answer them.

There are a few things that we learned today. One, I think I have never heard the State Department officially confirm that weapons being used in Algeria in that crisis came from Libya. That was long reported that it was suspected but it had not been said by the secretary of state before.

In terms of the politics of this, I think we learned that this remains a big issue among Republican rank-and-file, that Benghazi will continue to be an issue but that Republicans still have yet to find a way to pin down any of the Obama administration officials for any tangible wrongdoings.

COOPER: Fran, do you think it was kind of a waste of time?

FRAN TOWNSEND, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CONTRIBUTOR: I do think it was a waste of time. And it was unfortunate, Anderson. You know, you've had on family members on your program and I imagine myself as a family member if I'd lost somebody watching this.

Look, it was a waste of time to ask Secretary Clinton about the talking points given to Ambassador Susan Rice.

COOPER: And that's what they -- they seemed to spend an awful lot of time on talking points given to Susan Rice.

TOWNSEND: Right. And yet when -- when Secretary Clinton loses her temper in the Senate hearing and says, what difference does it make whether this was -- resulted from a protest or some guys who just went out for a walk and decided to kill Americans, the right comeback to that was, it does matter. If you're telling me you want to solve the problem, you have to understand what caused it.

COOPER: Let's play that moment where she got mad at Senator Johnson.


JOHNSON: Again, we were misled that there were supposedly protests and then something sprang out of that, an assault sprang out of that. And that was easily --


JOHNSON: -- ascertained that that was not the fact.

CLINTON: But -- but you know --

JOHNSON: And the American people could have known that within days and they didn't know that.

CLINTON: With all due respect, the fact is we had four dead Americans.

JOHNSON: I understand.

CLINTON: Was it because of a protest or was it because of guys out for a walk one night who decided they'd go kill some Americans. What difference at this point does it make? It is our job to figure out what happened and do everything we can to prevent it from ever happening again, Senator.


COOPER: You were saying, Fran, it does make a difference.

TOWNSEND: It does make a difference. Of course. Because -- and she alludes to that at the very end of her answer there. You've got -- in order to fix it, you have to understand where it came from. By the way, they didn't spend a whole lot of time asking her about the several attempts to attack that consulate and the attack on the British ambassador in Benghazi prior to the 9/11 attack on our consulate.

There were a series of things that they wanted to get to the substance of this and she took responsibility, but if you wanted to hold her accountable, you needed to really organize yourself to ask substantive questions and they didn't do that.

COOPER: Did it seem like they had done their homework?

TOWNSEND: Well, I'll tell you, so here's another -- Secretary Clinton said she did not read all the cables that we're talking about the security situation.

COOPER: Right.

TOWNSEND: Not one senator, not one member of Congress asked her, did she get what's called a Roger Channel Cable from Ambassador Stevens. That is, there is a special channel in which an ambassador posted overseas can communicate directly with the secretary of state on particularly sensitive matters. We don't know the answer to that question because, of course, nobody asked her that.

My point is that members of Congress were so busy posturing they had an opportunity to really ask her difficult questions and get straight answers and they didn't do that.

COOPER: Do we know if those cables were sent, Roger Channel Cables? We don't know?

TOWNSEND: We don't know know. But that -- my point, Anderson, is members of Congress were so busy posturing they had an opportunity to really ask her difficult questions and get straight answers and they didn't do that.

COOPER: Jake, where do you think this leaves Secretary Clinton in terms of, you know, her legacy? Does it -- does it have an impact on any career she may have in 2016 in terms of, you know, running for president? Did it do damage today to her? TAPPER: I think that the quote of hers that you just played, "What difference does it make at this point?", is ready for a campaign commercial whether it's from the Biden for President campaign or the Christie for President campaign, I don't know. But I think that that will be used against her and certainly it comes across as more glib than I think if she could go back and revise and extend those remarks she would have them as Fran just alluded to.

COOPER: Is it fair, Fran, to attack Secretary Clinton, the administration, for not having brought some of these people to justice already? I mean, does it -- I mean, the flip side of that is these things take time. Do you think it's too much time?

TOWNSEND: Well, they do take time. And, you know, Secretary Clinton was asked, she did mention FBI director Bob Mueller was in Libya last week. The investigation is ongoing. Didn't say much other than we're working with the Tunisian government. You know, one suspect was released by the --


COOPER: Right. They say he's under observation but still.

TOWNSEND: Right. And that they weren't ready to bring charges yet. But you know, Anderson, here's the problem. The bad guys understand just this. They're watching. There hasn't been anybody brought to justice. They understand very well the environment they are operating in. Security services have melted away after the Arab spring. Borders are easy to cross. Weapons are easily assessable. The bad guys have an advantage.

And the longer this takes for us to bring an investigation to a conclusion and hold people accountable suggests to the bad guys that they have a free operating environment and Americans are at risk throughout that region.

COOPER: Interesting. Fran, appreciate it. Jake Tapper, thanks so much.

TAPPER: Thank you.

COOPER: The story we're covering tonight, Diane O'Meara learned from a reporter that she was the face of Manti Te'o's fake girlfriend. Her stolen image is at the center of this entire hoax, a hoax that changed the way some people see the star linebacker. She joins me live just ahead.

And later, celebrities and scientology. A controversial new book explores the church's interest in Hollywood. The author, Lawrence Wright, one of Pulitzer Prize for "The Looming Tower," his book about 9/11 and al Qaeda. He joins me about his new book on scientology next.


COOPER: Welcome back. Well, 2013 has barely begun. So it's possible a more bizarre story could come along. But the Manti Te'o fake dead girlfriend hoax has set the bar pretty high. We now know that Lennay Kekua, who is supposedly the love of Te'o's life, and died too young losing her battle to leukemia on the same day that Te'o lost his grandmother. We now know none of that was not true.

Deadspin broke the story, exposed the scam. But a lot of questions remain, and tonight the star Notre Dame linebacker is finally talking. His full interview with ABC's Katie Couric airs tomorrow.

In clips, though, released today by "Good Morning America" Te'o admits to lying to the media after learning that his alleged girlfriend's death was a hoax. He also defends his lies. Listen.


KATIE COURIC, ABC NEWS: You stuck to the script. And you knew that something was amiss, Manti.



TE'O: Well, anybody who puts yourself in my situation. Katie, put yourself in my situation. This girl who I committed myself to died on September 12th. Now I get a phone call on December 6th saying that she's alive and then I'm going to be put on national TV two days later, and they'll ask me about the same question, what would you do?


COOPER: Well, Te'o is not the only one speaking out tonight. As bizarre as this whole story is for everyone else, for Diane O'Meara, It is beyond surreal. Her photograph was used to create an online identify for Lennay Kekua, who again never existed. And both Te'o and O'Meara have said this California man, Ronaiah Tuiasosopo, masterminded the hoax. They've said he's apologized to them. He's not talking publicly.

Diane O'Meara joins us now.

Thanks very much for being here. I mean, first of all, how are you holding up in all this? This has got to be bizarre.

DIANE O'MEARA, IDENTITY STOLEN IN MANTI TE'O HOAX: Right. It's hard. I mean, I try not to think too much about it because it's very twisted and very disturbing and at this point trying to go day by day.

COOPER: So you know Ronaiah Tuiasosopo?

O'MEARA: Right. He was a classmate of mine in high school.

COOPER: In high school. And had you been -- and how long ago was that?

O'MEARA: I graduated in 2007. So. COOPER: OK. Have you been in touch with him over the years?

O'MEARA: No. He never contacted me up until this past December. I never saw him.

COOPER: So that first photograph, how did he get that photograph? Where did he take that from?

O'MEARA: Right. He contacted me through multiple messages on Facebook, relaying that he and his cousin had been in a traumatic car accident and my attorney, Mr. Donahue, he brought these papers today but he basically said that he's creating a slide show for his cousin who is waiting for his brain surgery and to help him out if I could send a photo of myself.

You know, and ironically now thinking back, I thought to myself, what's the difference between me taking a photo, holding up a sign, versus him just taking a photo from my Facebook profile? And it went as far as him sending a photo of his cousin --

COOPER: So -- and that -- this is the photo that he asked you to hold up a sign.

O'MEARA: Right.

COOPER: And we now know that what was written on the sign related to the alleged dead girlfriend's Twitter page.

O'MEARA: Right, which I had obviously no idea at the time. I was told that this was more of a hash tag throughout the photo slide show and everybody else participating in the slide show was holding that sign.

COOPER: And there was another picture of you that -- did he take that from your Facebook page?

O'MEARA: Right. Every other photo was taken from my Facebook profile or my old MySpace or mutual friends' Facebook profiles.

COOPER: What is -- to your memory, what is Ronaiah Tuiasosopo like?

O'MEARA: He always seemed, you know, upbeat guy. Always smiling. Very religious. He --

COOPER: Were you close friends at all or?

O'MEARA: No. I mean, I spoke with him probably two, three times in high school.


O'MEARA: And as I mentioned since then never heard from him, never hung out with him, you know. And even when he was contacting me on Facebook, I was very hesitant to respond back but his urgency and his persistence was, you know, unavoidable. COOPER: And has he -- he's now apologized to you?

O'MEARA: Right. You know, through the first couple of weeks of January he was still reaching out to me asking for more content, for more photos, for more videos, even as far as for me to send a video saying, good luck on the 7th, which now obviously relates to the championship game that was on the 7th. And obviously I didn't give that content or any other photos or anything like that.

COOPER: Right.

O'MEARA: But when he found out that this was all coming to surface through the Deadspin article and everyone was kind of catching on, he reached out to me a day or two days before the story broke and relayed to me that he, in fact, was stalking my profile for five years. Taking my photos and he created this --

COOPER: For five years he was doing this?

O'MEARA: He created this identity that was not me. It was this Lennay Kekua with my face on it.

COOPER: How does that feel emotionally?

O'MEARA: It's unnerving. It's very frustrating. Even still when I see the photos and when I see how they've been exposed all over the media, it's hard. I mean, the fact is this doesn't just happen to me. You know, granted this is a very unique situation that involves mass media but this happens every day.

COOPER: It happens to people all the time, yes.

O'MEARA: Yes, which is the most devastating thing.

COOPER: Yes, we've got digital dashboard question from Facebook. Robert asks if Manti to call you now to tell you how embarrassed he is about the situation, would you speak with him?

O'MEARA: You know, I don't know. I think I would just ask Manti directly if I had a chance to speak to him, I would directly ask him were you involved, I mean, as anybody else, I'm searching for answers as well.

COOPER: Do you think he might be?

O'MEARA: I'm not one to say because this is so confusing and twisted and I don't see the real motive behind this. I mean, this seems like it was carefully executed and planned over a course of two years.

COOPER: Do you now change your Facebook settings? I mean, do you --

O'MEARA: That's the thing. I was doing everything I could to protect myself. My Facebook was private. You know, I was very careful about going through each and every time line post when it switched to time line and changing all of the settings making sure I knew what post was there and who was seeing it. Clearly that's not enough nowadays.

COOPER: What's your message to other young women out there? I interviewed other young women that this happened to.

O'MEARA: Right. That's the scary thing. We hear about these cases of identity being stolen in this extremely vulnerable way and nobody is doing anything about it. We keep going along hoping, wishing that I hope that doesn't happen to me. I hope that's not my daughter.

I hope that's not my friend or my girlfriend, we just kind of hope. It's not enough. It's unsatisfactory. We have literally no protection against the advancements of internet and social media.

COOPER: Listen, I'm sorry you have experienced this. I appreciate you talking about it. Thank you very much, Diane O'Meara.

Coming up, another story about the church of scientology. Celebrities like Tom Cruz are the focus of a new book on scientology. It takes a very hard look at the church's founder and interest in recruiting celebrities. The church is slamming the book saying it's full of inaccuracies. The author is Pulitzer Prize winning author Lawrence Wright who will joins me ahead.

Later, the bitter cold turning buildings like this one in Chicago into ice castles. Take a look at that. It's just crazy. Is it a case of winter being winter or something else going on? Some answers ahead.


COOPER: Swift and furious is a fair way to describe the church of scientology's response to a new book by author Lawrence Wright. The book is called, "Going Clear Scientology Hollywood & the Prison of Belief."

As the title suggests, it focuses on scientology's founder and its interest in recruiting celebrities. It also explores allegations of abuse. It's already in its second printing. This isn't, of course, the first time an author, journalist or former scientologist has turned a lens on the church.

And it's also not the first time the scientology has tried to discredit the results and threatened legal action. We have felt those tactics first hand here on this program when we've reported on the church of scientology.

In a moment, you will hear from author, Lawrence Wright, the author of "Going Clear." But first, some background on how he got here.


COOPER (voice-over): The Church of Scientology was founded by a science fiction writer named L. Ron Hubbard in 1954. Its stated goals to help people, quote, "live in a civilization without insanity, without criminals and without war where the able can prosper and honest beings can have rights."

Members paid to take courses designed to help them work through issues of their past and reach a higher state of consciousness. To understand what's holding them back, church members are tested with a device called an e-meter that is used to monitor their feelings and reactions.

Elron Hubbard died in 1986 and since then this man, David Miscavage, has been the leader. He, like Hubbard before him, oversees a religious order inside the church. An order that is responsible for church management called the "Sea Organization."

Members of "Sea Org" sometimes wear naval style uniforms and dedicate their life to the church promises to remain in the church for reincarnated lives to come. The Church of Scientology says it's opened some 170 churches around the globe and claims 10 million members worldwide, 6 million.

In the U.S. in 2009, then church Spokesman Tommy Davis put it this way.

TOMMY DAVIS, SCIENTOLOGY SPOKESMAN: David Miscavage is responsible for the current renaissance that the church is experiencing and the fact the church has doubled in size in the last five years and has flourished under his leadership.

COOPER: The American religious identification survey, however, cites much lower numbers. According to its survey, the number of self described practicing scientologist in the U.S. actually dropped from 55,000 to 25,000 in the years from 2001 to 2008.

The church is a famously vocal critic of psychiatry opposing what it calls brutal and inhumane psychiatric treatments. But for most this is how the public identifies with scientology through high profile believers.

The church reaches out to well known performers and caters to their need with a celebrity center in Hollywood. Percy Ali, John Travolta are long time scientologists as is Tom Cruise.

TOM CRUISE, ACTOR: When you drive past an accident, it's not like anyone else. As you drive past you know you have to do something about it because you're the only one that can help.

COOPER: Cruise is so close to the church leader that he asked him to be best man at his wedding. Here's Cruise praising David Miscavage at scientology event in 2007.

CRUISE: We are lucky to have you. Thank you very much.

COOPER: In 2010, we met with many former members including Tom Cruise's former counselor or auditor who says that everything is not as it seems within the church leadership. Marty Rathbun who used to work directly under David Miscavage says there's been a culture of violence within the leadership of the church. A culture encouraged by Miscavage himself.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He treats his subordinates in all of international management like slaves in a slave camp and beats them down.

COOPER: It's a claim the church vigorously denies. They say that Rathbun is a liar and out to destroy the church. The church spokesman in 2009, Tommy Davis says, yes, there was violence in the church, but he blames Marty Rathbun for it and others making allegations against David Miscavage.

DAVIS: The allegations are untrue. There is nothing of the sort as they are describing.

COOPER (on camera): David has never kicked somebody? Never punched somebody?

DAVIS: Never, never, never, absolutely not.

COOPER (voice-over): As CNN was preparing our 2010 report, the church provided us with large stacks of affidavits from current and former church members even ex-wives that remain in the leadership of the church. Some interviewed with us to defend the church saying former husbands and co-workers are liars.

JENNY LINSON, SEA ORGANIZATION MEMBER: I never saw one scratch. I never saw one bruise. I never saw one black eye, nothing. Nor did he complain about anything personally.

COOPER: Now Pulitzer Prize winning author Lawrence Wright has written a book titled "Going Clear Scientology Hollywood & the Prison of Belief." He details the church's creation by its founder L. Ron Hubbard and explores these allegations of abuse. Allegations the church continues to strongly deny and they created a web site to refute the book chapter by chapter.


COOPER: We're making the Church of Scientology's response available on To find it, put the words scientology in the search field in the upper right hand corner. "Going Clear" is based on extensive interviews with former and current church members. Lawrence Wright talked to hundreds of people. I spoke to him earlier.


COOPER: So why did you decide to write about scientology?

LAWRENCE WRIGHT, AUTHOR, "GOING CLEAR SCIENTOLOGY, HOLLYWOOD & THE PRISON OF BELIEF": I was interested in why people believe one thing and do another especially in this country where you can believe anything you want. That's not true in a lot of places in the world. We have a supermarket of religious beliefs. So why would you choose scientology? Perhaps the most stigmatized religion in this country.

COOPER: What do you think it does for people? That's the thing I can't get to the bottom of. What does it give people?

WRIGHT: At the beginning level when you go in and get auditing, which is their form of therapy, a lot of people feel like they are helped. That's what draws people in. They ask what is ruing your life? What is your ruin? If you say, well, it's my relationship or my profession or something. They say we have something that can help you. And sometimes that's true.

COOPER: Is recruiting celebrities -- they have this celebrity center in Hollywood. Was that a conscious effort by the church and is that for PR reasons?

WRIGHT: Absolutely. These are product endorsements. The Church of Scientology was created in Los Angeles. The celebrity center in Hollywood, all of it with the design to take over the entertainment industry, you know, there were people that they were actively recruiting. They were always looking for that figure that would be a prominent member of the entertainment industry.

COOPER: A lot of people focus on the origin myth of scientology or the origin story and people make fun of it. My belief is every religion has an origin story. I never focused too much on that. I find the structure of the church interesting though. Is there any other church that you know of that is structured like it in terms of paying to kind of move up through the hierarchy of the church.

WRIGHT: Nothing like that comes to mind. It's very expensive. If you want to climb -- if you walk into the door of scientology today and you go all of the way to the top of the pyramid, half a million dollars or more just for -- you get the course work but then you're continually asked for money.

COOPER: The church is obviously very upset about the book. They say Mr. Wright showed the church he has no interest in the facts only lies and exaggerations being fed to him by angry, bitter sources with agendas based on hatred and revenge. The result is a biased work more fiction than fact. I should say they basically said the same thing about our reporting. They published an entire magazine devoted kind of attacking us and CNN and myself.

WRIGHT: I got one in the "New Yorker" as well. I want to just say about that disclaimer from the church. First of all, you can only talk to the people that will talk to you. I asked repeatedly to talk to upper level executives and the opportunity was foreclosed to me.

I spoke to more than 250 people, the majority of them current or former scientologists. It's not just a small group of people. We're talking about more than 150 people. Their stories are very damning, very similar in nature.

COOPER: There are a lot of people who were formerly in upper echelons of the church that talk about a culture of violence that they participated in. Some admit they engaged in violent acts, but also point to the leader of the church as someone that would leap across desks and hit people.

WRIGHT: It sounds bizarre. I had 12 people tell me that they had personally been beaten up by David and more than 20 witnesses to such events and these accounts are very similar, the hair trigger response. A sudden jumping up and strangling people, beating people out of the blue, no idea what they've done and often times after that they are sent off to one of the re-education camps, sometimes for years.

COOPER: We heard Tom Cruise saying that he drives by an accident and he knows that he's the only one or scientologists are the only one that can really help. What is that idea that somehow a scientologist can help with a road accident?

WRIGHT: It's a laying on of hands. There's a contact assist. I was talking to josh about this. He once witnessed John Travolta helping Marlon Brando who had stopped to help a motorist on the side of the road and cut his leg. They all show up at a dinner party and he's telling this story and using this dead-on Brando accident.

Travolta said I have gone up to a higher level in the church and I think I can help you. If you have powers, John so he reached over and put his hand on Brando's leg and he said it was eerie almost a physical charge between the two of them and Brando said, you know what?

I do feel better. Who is to say? In Brando's mind, maybe he was making Travolta feel OK about himself or maybe there was some sort of effect. Essentially it's a mystical idea that you can lay on hands and you can make someone feel better.

COOPER: The church cites huge membership, millions and millions of people. Other sources say that the number is actually much smaller in the tens of thousands, 25,000, 35,000, 45,000. Is membership in decline?

WRIGHT: Yes. It's hemorrhaging members.


WRIGHT: Part of is people are becoming aware of what's going on inside the church. Moreover, the secret doctrines of the church it kept secret for years are now all over the internet. They are ridiculed on South Park. Everyone kind of knows what the secrets are inside scientology and you don't have to pay a half million dollars to learn them.

COOPER: Fascinating book. Thank you so much, Lawrence.

WRIGHT: Always a pleasure.


COOPER: Still ahead, the family of NFL star Junior Sao suing claiming the brain injury he got playing pro-football caused his suicide. Could their lawsuit actually be a game changer? Also ahead, it's cold out there. It's much colder than normal, much of the country, can you say 33 below? It's not over yet. We'll explain why.


COOPER: Welcome back. A blast of arctic air has people shivering in most of the country. When you hear temperatures of 33 below in North Dakota and ice accumulation in the forecast for south of Georgia, it's not a typical winter. Randy Kaye reports.


RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Bundle up. It's cold out there.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's cold. You can't feel your fingers at the end of the day.

KAYE: From New York to North Dakota, folks are getting hit with subfreezing temperatures that could last through the week. And that wind, it's biting. Just ask this Iowa ice fisherman.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The wind is ripping. It makes it ten times worse than it should be.

KAYE: In Fargo, North Dakota, where they are used to the cold, reporters seem surprised by it. This guy showed off a once wet t- shirt now frozen.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Makes a sound like a drum. That's how cold it is.

KAYE: And how about this? Hammering a nail into wood with a frozen banana. Just east of there in Ottawa, Canada, this man used the cold to show off for the kids.

DOUG O'BYRN, MINNESOTA CONSTRUCTION WORKER: It's been tough to handle, but then I just realize that we live in Minnesota. We signed up for this. We knew what we were going to get.

KAYE: In Chicago, firefighters had to brave the cold to battle the heat. Bone chilling temperatures made fighting this massive five- alarm warehouse fire nearly impossible. Water froze on their uniforms. By the time it was under control, the building was covered in a thick layer of ice.

MIKE LOPEZ, CHICAGO RESIDENT: It was pretty intense. Then this morning I came and I look and it's like an ice castle.

KAYE: With plunging temperatures comes snow. In upstate New York, the town of Ripley got 24.8 inches over two days. It isn't any better elsewhere on the east coast. The airport in Erie, Pennsylvania, saw 16.3 inches of snowfall Monday, the snowiest day there since November 29th, 1979. In Washington, D.C., wind chills were in the single digits, but Bangor, Maine, may be seeing the worst of it, a drop in temperature of 75 degrees following record highs on Monday.

COLLEEN ISAAC, CHICAGO COMMUNTER: It's like needles sticking in your face. It's not pleasant.

KAYE: Not pleasant and not warming up any time soon. Randy Kaye, CNN, Atlanta.


COOPER: Brutal. Let's get caught up on other stories we're following. Here's Isha with the "360 Bulletin" -- Isha.

ISHA SESAY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, the family of former linebacker Junior Seau is suing the NFL and the helmet maker accusing them of wrongful death. They claim his suicide last May was from a brain disease caused by violent hits he endured playing football.>

The FAA says it's trying to figure out the cause of the electrical problems that have grounded Boeing 787 Dreamliner fleet around the world. The shutdown came last week after battery caught on fire in Boston and another incident in Japan.

And an inaugural official who asked not to be identified says Beyonce lip-synched the national anthem at President Obama's public swearing in on Monday. The official says she didn't have time to rehearse the night before and decided to record her performance. There has been no comment from Beyonce.

COOPER: The Marine band also had pre-recorded music. They were faking it as well I guess.

SESAY: Everybody was faking it allegedly.

COOPER: I don't care. Beyonce is great.

SESAY: She'll be at the super bowl February 3rd. Get your leotard on.


SESAY: When she does "Single Ladies." OK, whatever.

COOPER: Digging yourself deeper there, Isha. Coming up, a puppy's life is saved. You won't believe how next on "Ridiculist."


COOPER: Time now for the "Ridiculist." Tonight, we're adding traditional veterinary medicine as we know it because as it turns out all you really need is you have a sick puppy is a nice big bottle of booze. Allow me to explain.

This is Cleo, a 9-week old puppy who became very ill after licking radiator fluid off a spare car parch in a garage in Australia. Anyway, Cleo started acting kind of, well, drunk.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She was giving us a scare because they couldn't stand straight. She would fall over.


COOPER: So Cleo's owner rushed her to the vet who said she was a few hours away from kidney failure, the treatment, vodka.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Flushing her with vodka to make her better.


COOPER: That's right. The vet put Cleo on a vodka drift through the nose and into her stomach more than a third of a bottle of vodka to counteract the effects of the antifreeze.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There are toxins in there that are harmful to the kidneys. We give them alcohol to try to mop up those toxins.


COOPER: I'm not really much of a drinker but a third of a bottle of vodka seems like a lot for a puppy. Let's put that in human terms.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If we put it in human terms for me it would be the equivalent of having seven or eight shots every four hours.


COOPER: Seven or eight shots every four hours. Now remind any never to go drinking with this Australian veterinarian. So believe it or not, little Cleo is not the only vodka guzzling party animal to cross my path recently. On my daytime talk show, Lisa, the "Real Housewives of Beverly Hills," told me about taking her dog to a show and watch what happens live.


COOPER: Ziggy was slurping on an ice cube from a vodka tonic. Did he pass out after that?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was trying to wake him up after that. He was so chilled he would just fall asleep.

COOPER: He looks a little hangover.

(END VIDEO CLIP) COOPER: More of a social drinker. Whereas Cleo drank for medicinal purposes only, proving once again that when you are feeling rough after a hard night of drinking radiator fluid and/or hanging out with Andy Cohen sometimes the only thing that helps is a little hair of the dog. Please people do not try that at home. Again, do not give your dog alcohol.

We'll see you again one hour from now. Another edition of 360 at 10:00 p.m. Eastern. "PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT" starts right now.