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Chemical Weapons Used in Syria?; Campus Suicide Reveals Massacre Plans; Roommate of UCF Gunman Speaks Out

Aired March 19, 2013 - 20:00   ET



Good evening, everyone. Breaking news tonight, 10 years after we failed to find chemical weapons in Iraq, new reports the Bashar al- Assad is possibly using chemical weapons that we know he has right now in Syria.

Also tonight it could have been a massacre on a college campus. Tonight you're going to hear from the roommate of a would-be campus killer. He came face to face, eye to eye, with the rifle-wielding student. His own roommate and lived to tell about it. Possibly prevent the murder of other students. We're going to hear from one very brave and one lucky young man tonight.

Plus, Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, now she claimed that President Obama's wasting your money on his lavish lifestyle. But where exactly is she getting her information? Where are her facts? Well, we tracked her down today and asked her and wait until you see how she responded. "Keeping Them Honest."

We begin, though, with the breaking news, news that could, could just trigger military action by the United States in Syria. The news tonight, the possibility that the regime in Syria, which has already shown itself capable of doing almost anything to its own people, might be doing the one thing that triggers American military action. Might be, might be using chemical weapons.

Crossing a red line that President Obama himself laid down. If they have, they have used chemical weapons, that would leave the president with a major challenge as he heads tonight to Israel which shares a border with Syria.

This video taken just moments ago. Air Force One sitting on the tarmac ready to take off bringing the president to Israel.

Now the suggestion that chemical weapons might have been used came just a few hours ago today from Mike Rodgers, Republican chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, telling CNN's Wolf Blitzer there is, quote, "a high probability chemical weapons were used." He said a high probability.

Dianne Feinstein, the Democratic colleague, today said, quote, "The White House has to make some kind of decision on this."

Chief White House correspondent Jessica Yellin is already in Israel. She joins us now by phone.

So, Jessica, you have Senator Feinstein saying just a short time ago, quote, "I think the probabilities are very high that we're going into some very dark times. And I think the White House needs to be prepared."

The White House seems to be more cautious today. Where do they stand on all this?

JESSICA YELLIN, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (via phone): Anderson, White House officials say that they are still assessing reports that chemical weapons were used and -- so cautious is the right word. But we know that the president has said that the use of chemical weapons, as you say, is a red line. And he's gone further and said that if Assad crosses it there will be, quote, "consequences."

He has said, "You'll be held accountable." Today his chief of staff said on CNN that it would be a game changer if, in fact, chemical weapons were used. Now the president has not specified what he means exactly when he says Assad or his regime would be held accountable. There have been reports that the U.S. has developed a plan for direct action against Syria, but there's no indication the president would necessarily pursue it, and let's just be realistic.

It's hard to imagine that the U.S. would take any direct action against Syria when the president is visiting the neighborhood. As you point out, he arrives here in Israel in less than 24 hours -- Anderson.

COOPER: And Marine One has just landed at Andrews Air Force Base. There you see it happening. And again, the president will surely be getting on Air Force One, heading toward Israel.

Jessica, the president as you said is in the region. It does add pressure to the president's trip, particularly in Israel if, in fact, chemical weapons have been used in neighboring Syria.

YELLIN: Absolutely. Syria was always going to be a part of the discussion while he's here, but now it threatens to overshadow the other issues. Certainly it thrusts Syria front and center into the top of the agenda.

Israelis are focused on this because of the increasing desperation of the Assad regime has made them very aware of the fact that chemical weapons used is a threat to Israelis and their stability for a number of reasons, because it's so close, as you pointed out, share the border. The use of chemical weapons in Syria could threaten some Israelis. It also creates a refugee challenge because Israel would probably open its borders, bring in some refugees if they fled.

It's also a very real challenge for Jordan and that will be the president's next stop after he spends a couple of days here in Israel. Jordan has already taken in many thousands of Syrian refugees and would no doubt face the need to take in many more where chemical -- COOPER: Jessica, stick around as we continue to watch images of Marine One just having landed, the guards getting off and the president about to come out to get on Air Force One.

I want to bring in CNN contributors Bob Baer and Fran Townsend. Bob is a former CIA officer with deep experience in the region. Fran served as homeland security advisor to the Bush 43 administration. She currently sits on the CIA External Advisory Committee.

Fran, if we take Senator Feinstein at her word, that there's a, quote, "high probability" that these weapons have been used, that this is a, quote, "serious," and that it may well take some action, what does that action exactly look like? Because I mean a simple airstrike wouldn't be enough, would it?

FRANCES FRAGOS TOWNSEND, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CONTRIBUTOR (via phone): No, first, Anderson, Senator Feinstein, as you've said is chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee. She's not sort of guessing, right? We have to presume she's been briefed and there's a basis for her statement, so we ought to take pretty seriously. She also went on to say that the U.S. is working to verify that. But they'll be able to do that in pretty short order.

What that means, Anderson, is obviously you can't do what you did in Libya, which is just only airstrikes, using a coalition. You're going to need some forces on the ground. U.S. and our allies have been training forces just across the border in Jordan because we understood there are known to be about four dozen chemical weapon sites. And that underscores the magnitude of this problem.

The president presumably will want to put a coalition together. It will take a lot of people to be able to do this effectively. It will require -- air assets but it will also require ground forces.

COOPER: Bob, obviously, a lot of viewers -- when they hear the idea that there may be chemical weapons, A, obviously there's a lot of concern. But there's going to be a lot of skepticism based on what happened in Iraq.

How does anyone know that chemical weapons have actually been used? How is that verify 100 percent that they've been used?

ROBERT BAER, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, there are Western groups around Aleppo where these weapons were apparently used. And they'll be able to send evidence out in the next couple of days. This -- the traces of this on the skin will be obvious. Doctors will know what they're looking at. They'll figure out what kind it was. I think it was a fairly light chemical weapon, maybe chlorine.

Early reports are saying this. So I think we're going to know pretty sure in the next two or three days. We'll have people be taken out to Turkey and the rest of it. And I think Dianne Feinstein is absolutely right. If these weapons were used we've crossed the threshold. Syria is completely a mess now, chaotic. The resistance groups, the opposition are broken up into little pieces. You've al Qaeda there. We simply cannot let it happen that al Qaeda gets these weapons or that the regime turns them loose on their own cities. You know, something is going to happen very soon.

COOPER: Well, Bob, why can't you just bomb these sites?

BAER: Well, they're saying that they're in a -- you know, a dozen sites, but, you know, you cannot know for sure whether they've been dispersed and if you do bomb them, you run the risk of the Syrians escalating by, you know, bombing Israel, for instance. It's not beyond them.

As Dianne Feinstein said, these people are desperate. The regime -- more and more cities are falling and areas. And as we've said all along, they will use these things and something has to happen. You also have to look at Syria has become a proxy war for Iran, Russia, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Turkey. Everybody is pouring arms into the country.

You know, the situation cannot continue as it is without running into a catastrophe that would involve chemical weapons.

COOPER: And, Fran, as we see the president about to take off for Israel, what goes on in the White House in a situation like this, particularly when the president is heading to the region?

TOWNSEND: Well, Anderson, you can presume that the Secret Service would have naturally advised him that it was -- advised him not to go. Now I think if the president is getting on Air Force One he's doing exactly the right thing as a leader. But what you would have done was taken he and his entire detail through a chemical weapons drill.

What happens? They each carry little yellow packs that allow them several hours of air so that they could get to a safe and clean site. But you would have taken them while they are on the plane through a complete drill about what to expect and what the -- what the safety and decontamination procedures would be.

Certainly that's what I would have done when I was in the White House. And I presume that's what they're doing tonight on the plane.

COOPER: Bob, again, I just want to read to our viewers part of what Dianne Feinstein, she said, "And I think the probabilities are very high that we're going into some very dark times."

The Assad regime, though, is saying that the rebels are the ones who've used chemical weapons. The rebels are saying the Assad regime has used them. Each side, obviously, has an incentive to accuse the other of using these weapons. How do you prove who actually used them?

BAER: Well, that's the whole problem. The intelligence is just awful on Syria. We're not in touch with the groups that are fighting. We're in touch with the exiles, we're not in touch with the regime. Neither side can be blamed. But the point is that once the chemical weapons come out that's the beginning of the chaos and that's when there is no choice. Somebody has got -- you know, it doesn't matter what it is, put a blockade on the country.

Stop weapons from going in. Don't let the artillery be deployed. You can check this from the air. You can -- you can counter it. Anything to prevent, you know, especially sarin from being used would put this conflict in a whole another realm.

COOPER: Fran, the rebels say they don't have the capabilities of even using chemical weapons. Do you buy that?

TOWNSEND: I do buy that. But you -- you worry that if you put -- look, what you really worry about is the Assad regime loading these chemical weapons on to a missile. We've seen them recently bomb inside Lebanon. So you can understand all of the neighbors are rightly concerned that the regime itself has got the capability to load this on to a missile. No reason to think that the rebels do have that capability, but you worry about if they were inclined to try and use the chemical weapon that you put it with an explosive and you get some aerosolization of the weapon if you put it together with even a crude explosion. So there is less concern if it's the rebels and certainly more concern to the neighbors if it is the regime.

COOPER: And, Fran, can you just explain again -- I mean, why can't you just bomb these sites? I know there's multiple sites but would that actually destroy the -- the weapons? Or does it not -- I mean, why do you need boots on the ground? Actual troops on the ground?

TOWNSEND: Well, the concern, Anderson, as you talk to folks who've been involved in military planning is that an airstrike will actually -- the detonation itself will take the chemical weapon and raise it up into the -- into the air and allow it to spread. And it puts more Syrian civilian at risk. So what you want to do is minimize the potential for casualties and contamination.

So you're better off if there is the option to try and secure the site without using air assets, you want to do that. And I think that's why you've seen the training of military in Jordan and in the region.

COOPER: Yes. A very risky operation obviously.

Fran, appreciate your expertise. Bob Baer, as well, as we see the president about to take off for Israel.

Jessica Yellin is there. She'll be following our coverage and reporting for us from there.

Jessica, thank you.

Let us know what you think if the Syrian regime has used these weapons. The regime, what do you think the U.S. should do? Let's talk about it on Twitter during the commercial break @Andersoncooper. I'll be tweeting tonight.

Coming up next, new video of police rushing a campus, a campus that could easily become a vast killing ground.

Also a 360 exclusive, we're going to talk to the would be killer's roommate. He talks about how the first real eye-to-eye contact he made with his roommate might have been his last moment on earth. As he opens his door his roommate had a rifle staring right at him. Amazing how he survived. That's the man, the potential gunman who ended up killing himself.

Later spring may be coming. Winter is not going. We're going to show you who's getting hit right now and why there could be more to come. We'll be right back.


COOPER: Hey, welcome back. Tonight we're learning just how close the University of Central Florida came to a massacre. Today campus police released this video showing the moment they entered the dorm room where 30-year-old former student still living on campus had just committed suicide.

And once inside officers not only found his body. They also said they found an arsenal of guns, ammunition and explosives along with a chilling checklist suggesting that the guy was one step away from a rampage on a massive scale. The officers were there responding to a 911 call from his roommate who I spoke with just a short time ago today.

We're going to bring you that exclusive interview in a moment. But first Ed Lavandera takes a closer looks at exactly what happened there.


ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Just after midnight on Monday morning the fire alarm starts blaring inside this dormitory at the University of Central Florida campus. Arabo Babakhani calls 911 after he looks out of his bedroom to find his roommate pointing a gun right at him.

ARABO "BK" BABAKHANI, ROOMMATE OF UCF ATTACK PLOTTER: My roommate just pulled a fire alarm and he's got a gun out.

UNIDENTIFIED 911 DISPATCHER: All right. Where are you at?

BABAKHANI: I'm in the University of Central Florida in Orlando. The fire alarm went off. I opened the door to see what was going on and he's there with, like, some sort of, like, gun, like, large assault gun. I don't know if it's a real gun. I don't know what it is. But I just saw it and I slammed my door shut and locked it.

UNIDENTIFIED 911 DISPATCHER: All right. And are you in your room now? Secured in your room?

BABAKHANI: Yes, I'm -- yes, in the bathroom.

LAVANDERA: When campus police arrived at the scene they make their way to the gunman's dorm room. This might be disturbing for some to watch. But police find 30-year-old James Oliver Seevakumaran lying dead on the floor from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. They also found that he apparently was planning a massacre. Police say there were four homemade bombs inside a backpack, multiple firearms and hundreds of rounds of ammunition.

CHIEF RICHARD BEARY, UCF POLICE: I don't think you acquire 210 round magazines and numerous .22 capacity magazines and that you purchase a thousand rounds of ammunition and that you purchase the .45 ammunition. I don't think you just do that as a joke.

LAVANDERA: Investigators also say they found this writing on a piece of paper laying out a sort of timeline of what Seevakumaran planned to do. Scratching off items as he went down the list. The first item on his list was to go to this bar called the Mad Hatter across the street from the campus to first, quote, "get drunk. Then get equipped. Take a shower and shave up."

The note reads, "To put on YouTube" and instructions to pull the alarm and the last item read, "Good luck and give them hell."

BEARY: There is no motive. The notes, as I talked about yesterday, just lay out a timeline. And that timeline was go to Mad Hatter's, drink. And I will try to make that available as well. But there was no specific threat in it. There was nothing like that. So he just had the timeline.

And one of the interesting things that we did find going back over the evidence today is as he did each thing he actually scratched them off on the list. So that was -- and the list stopped with pull the fire alarm.

LAVANDERA: We don't know who he planned to target but investigators say he was acting as a lone wolf. Officials at University of Central Florida say they discovered these items that were ordered online and delivered to the campus but Seevakumaran never picked them up from the mail room.

BEARY: What was in the mail waiting for the deceased were two .22 round magazines that were designed for the GSG weapon that he had. There was also a Blackhawk tactical sling designed to fit that particular weapon. And there was also a training DVD on proper shooting and use of lasers.


COOPER: Well, Ed Lavandera is live on the UCF campus in Orlando.

Is the would-be killer's family saying anything tonight?

LAVANDERA: You know, this is what's kind of interesting, Anderson. Yesterday authorities here had described this would-be killer as a loner, someone who showed anti-social behavior. And his own parents put out a short statement this afternoon saying that they wanted to be left alone, did not want to answer any more questions from the media but simply described their son as a loner, a, quote, "loner," and someone who had showed no signs or had any history of violence at all. So it was interesting that his own parents called him a loner as well -- Anderson.

COOPER: Yes. Ed, I appreciate the reporting.

Now only on this program, on 360, the would-be killer's roommate, Arabo Babakhani, and campus reporter Christie Jauch join me.

BK, let me start with you. Can you try to take us through what happened? I mean, you heard the fire alarm go off, you started to leave your room then what happened?

BABAKHANI: Usually when the fire alarm goes off in my apartment it's just somebody burning something on the stove. So I just opened my door to see what was burning. But I didn't see any smoke or anything. I just saw my roommate, James, just standing in front of me, approximately like four feet in front of me with some sort of assault rifle.

And he had it pointed down at the ground but he just -- as soon as I opened the door he just made eye contact with me and just started raising it towards my head.

COOPER: When he made eye contact with you, I mean, what did he look like? What was his expression?

BABAKHANI: He just had a really cold, hard stare.

COOPER: So you guys weren't exactly friends?

BABAKHANI: No. I lived with him -- I moved into my apartment at the beginning of fall semester, fall of 2012. And you know, I've tried to get to know him and stuff. But, no, we're not friends. He's just very anti-social. He doesn't want to know me. He doesn't want to make friends. He just keeps to himself.

COOPER: So you opened your door and you see him standing there, the rifle was pointed down and he's -- he makes eye contact with you. Then what happened?

BABAKHANI: He instantly just raised his rifle at me. And before he could get it all the way up, I just -- I just slammed the door. I was -- I was not trying to -- I was not going to let him shoot me. I just slammed the door, locked it. And moved away from the door in case he -- in case he fired at the door.

I took some cover in my room so he wouldn't, like, be able to -- the bullets wouldn't be able to penetrate anything then I just called 911. And they pretty much handled it from there.

COOPER: We actually have the 911 tape. And you can hear the alarm going off as you're talking to the authorities. I just want to play that for our viewers.


BABAKHANI: My roommate just pulled the fire alarm and he's got a gun out.

UNIDENTIFIED 911 DISPATCHER: All right. Where are you at?

BABAKHANI: I'm in the University of Central Florida. Like the fire alarm went off. I opened the door to see what was going on. And he's there with like some sort of, like, a gun, like large assault gun. I don't know if it's a real gun. I don't know what it is. But I just saw it, I slammed my door shut and locked it.

UNIDENTIFIED 911 DISPATCHER: All right. And are you in your room now? Secured in your room?

BABAKHANI: Yes. Yes. I'm in the bathroom right now.



COOPER: I'm amazed how calm you sound. What was going through your mind? I mean, were you afraid he was going to, you know, shoot his way into the room?

BABAKHANI: Yes. That was -- that was one of my concerns. I wasn't -- I was definitely scared but I was -- scared but calm. I was just taking cover, like, in my room behind objects. Initially the chest of drawers and then later when I moved to the bathroom just behind the cabinet. Just so that if he did fire at the wall on the other side that he wouldn't be able to hit me. And that's part of the reason why I was able to, like, not panic so much.

COOPER: He actually wasn't enrolled in school for the semester because he failed to pay his tuition. Did he seem angry because of that? Have you talked to you about that at all?

BABAKHANI: I asked him like why he's not enrolled in classes and he said because he signed up too late or something which I knew that was a lie but I didn't really press him too much about it. I knew he was having money problems because of the whole process with him getting evicted from the apartment. And he was having trouble at work, too. I think his hours got cut recently. And we just -- he wasn't making a lot of money.

COOPER: Do you have any idea why he might have done this?

BABAKHANI: I think he was just in a corner. It just made for a very solitary person that -- I don't know. I guess he saw suicide as an easier way out than where he was at.

COOPER: Did you hear that gunshot?

BABAKHANI: Yes. I heard -- I didn't realize it was a gunshot at the time. Because I was in the bathroom and he was like two rooms over. There was a fire alarm going off. But I heard like one or two pops. And later I understood that that's -- that was the gunshot.

COOPER: Christie, I want to bring you in in here. You've been reporting this story on campus. What's the reaction on campus to all of this?

CHRISTIE JAUCH, REPORTER, UCF KNIGHTLY NEWS: You know, everybody is very flustered. No one knows what to think. You know, why he would do this type of thing. So everybody has just very happy that, you know, nobody was -- else with was hurt in this. It could have been a lot worse. Thank god for our hero.

COOPER: And folks on campus consider BK a hero because he was able to think straight and call the authorities.

JAUCH: Definitely. I have several friends in Tower One. So -- that were all there at the time who could have been hurt. You know, if it wasn't for BK calling 911 and, you know, getting the police there as quick as possible.

COOPER: Well, BK, it really is an extraordinary thing how calm you were able to remain. A lot of people would have not been able to do that. And thank you so much for talking to us. I'm sorry for what you've been through.

And Christie as well, thanks so much for being with us.

JAUCH: No problem.

BABAKHANI: Thank you, Anderson.

COOPER: Incredibly lucky young man.

Up next, on the eve of spring, queue the snow. A late winter storm has New England and the upper Midwest digging out again. We'll show you who got hit hardest and where the storm is heading.

Also ahead, Republican Congresswoman Michele Bachmann. She's saying President Obama is wasting your tax dollars on extravagant perks for his family and even his dog Beau. But she said some stuff in the past that really has no facts to back it up. So we wanted to ask where she got her fact this time. Well, guess what, we'll show you what happened when Dana Bash tracked her down. "Keeping Them Honest."


COOPER: Bizarre scene in court. A convicted school gunman not only shows no remorse for killing two classmates, he wears a T-shirt with the word "killer" written on it. And even that's not all. What he said to the grieving relatives of his victims. We'll tell you ahead on 360.


COOPER: Welcome back. Spring is just hours away in this half of the hemisphere, but winter apparently did not get that memo. This is how New England is welcoming spring, more snow and a lot of it.

A late winter storm forced another round of school closures. The Upper Midwest also got hit with another blast of winter. South isn't off the hook either in the severe weather department. Alison Kosik has the latest on the wild winter weather.


ALISON KOSIK, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The calendar says spring, but Mother Nature is playing by her own rules, dumping about a foot of snow in parts of New Hampshire on the last day of winter.

UNIDENTIFIED CHILD: It's kind of fun because then you can shovel and work out.

KOSIK: In Concord, it looked more like December than March.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's New England. This is what we get in New England. So I'm happy. I'm leaving to go skiing on Friday.

KOSIK: The deep snow across the northeast is taxing on snow plows and backs.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's very heavy. You know, underneath, especially when you get toward the street like a puddle of water underneath everything. So it's hard to throw it.

KOSIK: But late winter storms are not just affecting New England, extreme weather already packing a punch across the Midwest leaving travelers stranded with over 500 flight cancellations from Ohio to New York. Blizzard conditions in North Dakota Monday left cars stranded and overturned on highways.

Down south, parts of Mississippi pummeled by golf ball-sized hail shattering car windshields. In nearby Tennessee, a tornado touched down leaving signs of damage but no injuries. High winds in Georgia left similar scenes of destruction.

Not to be outdone folks in Alabama were cleaning up Tuesday after severe storms knocked down trees and overturned trucks leaving thousands without power, the wild weather leaving many longing for Mother Nature to catch up to the calendar.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's spring. It should be spring already.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I love the snow, but I'm a little done with it.


KOSIK: And for those who say they have had enough of this stuff, guess what. There is another storm expected next week that could make them nostalgic for this time last year when it was 81 degrees. Alison Kosik, CNN, Concord, New Hampshire.

COOPER: It's 81 degrees a year ago, amazing. More breaking news to tell you about, Isha has got that in the "360 Bulletin" -- Isha.

ISHA SESAY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, breaking news, election news to tell you about. CNN can now project that Elizabeth Colbert Busch, the sister of Stephen Colbert is the winner of the Democratic primary in the South Carolina first special congressional primary. There is no projection yet on the GOP side.

The Pakistani teenager shot in the head by the Taliban for promoting education for girls five months ago. She lives in England now. Today, she went back to school for the first time since the attack. Here's how she described her return to the classroom.


MALALA YOUSAFZAI, SURVIVED TALIBAN SHOOTING: I think it is the happiest moment that I'm going back to my school. Today, I have my books, my bag. I will learn. I will talk to my friends. I will talk to my teacher.


SESAY: An incredible young girl. An update on another recovery to tell you about, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said the Statue of Liberty will re-open to the public by the 4th of July. Lady Liberty has been closed to the public since October when it was damaged during Superstorm Sandy.

NASA and White House officials told a congressional committee that the nation's asteroid detection program is behind schedule and billions of dollars are needed to keep Americans safe from space threats like the meteor that exploded over Russia last month.

More than a thousand people were injured. Officials said the risk of a massive meteor slamming into earth any time soon is small, just one in 20,000. Here's the bad news, Anderson. At least 10,000 large space objects -- one official used the term "city killers" haven't been detected yet.

COOPER: Is it behind she-jool or schedule?

SESAY: It's behind she-jool. Trust me.

COOPER: Not behind schedule?

SESAY: No, no.

COOPER: Could it both behind schedule and she-jool?

SESAY: No, no. Trust me. It's she-jool.

COOPER: Smashing.

SESAY: Tally-ho.

COOPER: I'm going to have some "aluminium" soda cans now. Isha, thanks. See you again.

Up next, Michele Bachmann is back with some pretty outrageous claims about President Obama and how he is wasting your money on chefs and dog walkers, but the question is, are the accusations actually true? We're keeping them honest.

Also ahead, a killer's final insult, what a convicted school shooter wore to his sentencing and what he said to victim families that has them understandably outraged.


COOPER: It was supposed to be one of his biggest speeches of the year but then this happened. We'll show what the mayor of Kansas City did next when somebody bum rushed the stage ahead on 360.


COOPER: Welcome back. On this program, we try not to take political sides. We are not a Republican newscast or Democratic one, not conservative or liberal. We believe in facts. You can find that stuff on plenty of other cable networks.

We think when you're elected representatives, Republicans, Democrats or independents speak they should to the best of their ability speak the truth. If they don't, they should be held accountable.

Not for political views or governing philosophy but for making stuff up. Tonight, we are featuring Republican Congresswoman Michele Bachmann. Today, she raced literally raced away from our Dana bash who was trying to ask her questions about remarks that Bachmann herself made at the Conservative Political Action Conference over the weekend.

In those statements she slammed the White House reaction during the attack that killed four Americans in Libya last fall.


REPRESENTATIVE MICHELE BACHMANN (R), MINNESOTA: A war was raging in Benghazi for hours and all we know is that our president went AWOL while cries from American diplomats and soldiers went unanswered.


COOPER: Then she shifted to government spending specifically the White House budget.


BACHMANN: A new book is out talking about the perks and excess of the $1.4 billion a year presidency that we are paying for. This is a lifestyle that is one of excess. Now we find out that there are five chefs on Air Force One. There are two projectionists who operate the White House movie theatre.

They regularly sleep at the White House in order to be readily available in case the first family wants a really, really late show. And I don't mean to be petty here, but can't they just push the play button? We are also the ones who are paying for someone to walk the president's dog, paying for someone to walk the president's dog?


COOPER: Now a lot to talk about, keeping them honest. The Benghazi killings leave room for criticism. We have been very critical on this show looking at a lot of facts about that.

The claims, though, of $1.4 billion in White House perks and excess, they fail on the facts in simple fairness. Congresswoman Bachmann apparently got her information from a 131-page self-published book by a long-time Republican lobbyist.

The book provides no specific sourcing for the claims it makes. No sourcing. According to the "Washington Post," which dug into this the only scholarly work on the subject was published in 2010 by the left leaning Brookings Institution.

It found the Bush White House in 2008 cost about $1.6 billion to run. Nearly $1.1 billion of which went to the Secret Service and the White House chopper fleet, not perks. If Congresswoman Bachmann is right and that's a big if, the current occupants are actually $200 million cheaper.

As for the five chefs, five cooks would be more like it unlike on commercial flights the lion's share of meals on Air Force One are prepared fresh on board, 50 passengers, several meals on a long flight that is a lot of cooking.

As for the projectionists, nothing new there either. According to the White House Museum Jimmy Carter watched nearly 500 films while in office. And as for Beau, the dog, he has no designated walker, none.

The White House gardener actually walks the dog. It turns out the guy likes dogs and has walked presidential dogs for the last eight administrations. The notion that this is a uniquely extravagant president dies hard with Michele Bachmann.

Remember this is not the first time she's made detailed claims about presidential spending without facts to back them up. Here she is several years on this actual program.


BACHMANN: I think we know that just within a day or so the president of the United States will be taking a trip over to India that is expected to cost the taxpayers $200 million a day. He's taking 2,000 people with him. He'll be renting out over 870 rooms in India. These are five-star hotel rooms at the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel. This is the kind of over the top spending. It's a very small example, Anderson.

COOPER: The White House is saying the idea that this is a $200 million boondoggle is overstated, that the number is wildly inflated, those numbers.

BACHMANN: That may be what the White House is stating, but again we have never seen a trip at this level before, this level of excess.

COOPER: No one really knows the cost because for security reasons they don't disclose the cost so the idea that it's $200 million is simply made up.

BACHMANN: Well, these are the numbers that have been coming out in the press.


COOPER: These are the numbers that have been coming out in the press. For the record, as we discovered back then and reported the story originated in a report from the news agency press trust of India. So it's an Indian paper. Their source was a provincial government official who was unnamed.

One single unnamed source from an Indian provincial official, how that official would allegedly know how much the president of the United States and the U.S. government was spending -- I mean, it doesn't make sense.

Congresswoman Bachmann has made other claims that do not stand up as well. Namely that a top adviser to then Secretary of State Clinton may be under the sway of the Muslim Brotherhood, that allegation was found factually groundless, drew sharp criticism at the time from both sides of the aisle.

Republican colleagues including Senator John McCain called her out on it publically. We invited Congresswoman Bachmann to come on the program to talk about her latest allegations. Guess what, she declined. The invitation stands open n.

In the meantime, Dana Bash tried keeping them honest and she joins us now. So Dana, you really did have to literally chase the congresswoman down. What did she tell you?

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I should say, Anderson, the last time I ran after Michele Bachmann on one of those other issues that you list that I told you the bad news is she can walk very fast in heels. The good news is so can I.

But this time she was moving so fast, I have to tell you it tested my endurance. I told the congresswoman I wanted to talk about her speech at CPAC, about questionable accusations she made about the president's lavish lifestyle. Here's how it went.


BASH: I want to ask you is that you said -- you talked about the excesses that he's engaged in, the fact that he has a dog walker, which is not true.

BACHMANN: The big point of my speech was about Benghazi. This was an absolute disaster.

BASH: But you also made specific accusations about -- BACHMANN: The secretary of state --

BASH: -- the president spending money that other presidents also made.

BACHMANN: The real issue is there are four Americans that are dead. The secretary of state was not in conversation with the secretary of defense or with the chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

BASH: I think that's an important point.

BACHMANN: She was not there.

BASH: That's important but this is another --

BACHMANN: This is the president of the United States didn't care about those four Americans and they were killed. That's the point.

BASH: If you --

BACHMANN: We have to focus.

BASH: But if you want to focus then why did you bring up the other things.

BACHMANN: Dog handlers and there's four Americans killed?

BASH: But Congresswoman, you're the one who brought it up.

BACHMANN: These Americans.

BASH: You're the one who brought it up.


BASH: To be fair, Congresswoman Bachmann doesn't always answer my questions, but she does usually smile and is polite. This was a bit out of character for her.

COOPER: What's amazing about the quote is she tried to turn it against you as if, how dare you bring up a dog walker, something so petty when because of the horror of what happened in Benghazi.

She's the one who brought up the dog walker and the projectionists. She made the allegations and now she's saying when you ask her about it, she's trying to make you seem like an irresponsible reporter for daring to ask her about that.

BASH: Yes, she did. It takes a lot to make me speechless. I was speechless. That's not the response that I expected from her, but, you know, I have to tell you. I checked in with people who know how she operates, people who work with her on the inside.

They weren't surprised about this in the big picture for many reasons. Primarily the name of the game at the CPAC convention which draws conservative activists is to be provocative. She knew talking about presidential dog walkers, cooks, and projection operators would be memorable.

They admitted to me Bachmann's M.O. tends to be shoot first, ask questions later especially if she doesn't have people around her to advise her against muddying, which was a pretty strong speech and argument about Benghazi and presidential leadership.

COOPER: Also I should point out this network was the network that was blasted by the Obama administration for our early reporting on Benghazi and what we uncovered in the burned out wreckage in Benghazi.

So the idea that somehow we are not talking about Benghazi is absurd. We want to call out politicians when they say things that are untrue. With Congresswoman Bachmann it's a double edged sword. She fund raises off this stuff.

BASH: She does. Anderson, we can be transparent with viewers. We had a discussion about this. We know the more oxygen we give this, the more she'll raise money off of it. This is one example of a fund- raising notice she sends out. She's one of the most active fund raising e-mail lists of all members of Congress.

She sends out five alarm notices to supporters, sometimes more than one a day warning that they have to contribute or her campaign will fall under the weight of Democrats and the liberal media. This was on a different subject. I wouldn't be surprised if she uses this is report and another tomorrow. We're doing our job.

COOPER: And again, the invitation stands. She can just sit. She doesn't have to run. We'll talk seated.

BASH: How will I get my exercise, Anderson?

COOPER: That's true. Dana, thank you very much.

Coming up, a story that's really outrageous, this man killed three of his classmates and in today's sentencing he had a vulgar message for the victims' relatives in the room. He had the word killer on his t-shirt. That was just part of it.

Also, frightening for the mayor of Kansas City, he was in the middle of a major speech when this happened, a guy rushed the stage. He reacted to the intruder next on 360.


COOPER: A lot more happening tonight. Isha is back with the 360 News and Business Bulletin -- Isha.

SESAY: Anderson, a judge sentenced the Ohio teen who killed three classmates last year in a school shooting to life many prison without parole. T.J. Lane wore a white t-shirt in court with the word "killer" on it. When given an opportunity to speak, Lane delivered a profanity laced statement along with an obscene hand gesture.

Frightening moments for Kansas City Mayor Sly James as he delivered his state of the city address, a man stormed the stage and grabbed the mic. Security guards as you there tackled the intruder. Mayor James watched calmly before eventually returning to his speech.

And Anderson, ten dresses worn by the late Princess Diana hit the auction block. A blue dress worn to a 1985 White House gala where Diana danced with John Travolta brought in the most money -- more than $360,000. All together the dresses sold for $1.2 million.

So you didn't get me one of the Princess Diana dresses. You didn't bring me back a gift from Rome like you said you would.

COOPER: Did I say I would?

SESAY: You don't remember this?

COOPER: I was working around the clock, 24/7.

SESAY: OK, you, dog house.

COOPER: All right, Isha, thank you. I will check my she-jool. The "Ridiculist" is next.


COOPER: Time for the "Ridiculist." We are adding stow away roaches. That's right. Just when you thought it was safe to make the trip from Atlantic City to New York comes the story of a Greyhound bus infested with bugs. I wasn't actually there. Maybe infested is too strong a word.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When I say infested, I mean infested.


COOPER: OK, infested then. Here's what happened. According to passengers who spoke to our affiliate WABC, shortly after the trip began roaches began to show up pretty much everywhere.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sat down. Roaches started crawling on our clothes, falling out of the ceiling, everything.


COOPER: All right, we are already at the part of the trip where I would pull the emergency brake and call Wolf Blitzer to pick me up. Trust me, he's used to sketchy phone calls from Atlantic City. Unfortunately for passengers, things only got worse.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We thought it was one. It turned out to be a houseful of roaches. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was sitting in the back of the bus. I've seen people toward the front of the bus panicking and after a while the panic got to the back. We looked around and saw roaches crawling everywhere.


COOPER: All right, I'm about to throw up. You have no idea. I mean, roaches on a bus? Kardashians in an elevator, my list of fears is lengthy. I actually attempted to conquer my fear of roaches a few years ago as you can see in this old file footage. How I miss the days when my hair was more pepper than salt. Unfortunately, the roaches and I could not reach an agreement.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you willing to put your hand inside the container?

COOPER: Yes -- no. I don't think so.


COOPER: Yes. It didn't go well. I'm a mess when it comes to creepy crawly things. Do you know anyone who's afraid of a millipede? You do now.


COOPER: I'll touch it. I am not going to lift it up.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just stroke it.

COOPER: I don't like being afraid of anything.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Give it a hold.

COOPER: That's it. I'm done.


COOPER: I'm sorry. Millipedes are just gross. Keep them away from me. By the way, we don't have close-ups of the roaches from Atlantic City, but I'm guessing they look like this give or take a few poker chips. This is a bad idea but let's hear more about what happened on the roach bus.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The man had roaches on his coat. The lady had a roach on her hat. It was just terrible.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: People were in the aisles brushing roaches off of them.

(END VIDEO CLIP) COOPER: I can't. I mean, really. We should point out Greyhound says the driver pulled over and radioed for assistance. A new bus was dispatched to pick up the passengers who were given refunds. I think it's safe to say that Greyhound made the right move there because we all know how these situations tend to end up.


SAMUEL L. JACKSON, ACTOR: Enough is enough! I have had it with these (EXPLETIVE DELETED) snakes on this (EXPLETIVE DELETED) plane.


COOPER: It's a classic. So consider yourselves warned, stowaway roaches. You got off easy this time. Next time it could be a whole lot worse than getting squashed on the Ridiculist. That does it for us. We'll see you again one hour from now, at 10:00 p.m. Eastern. Another edition of "360." "PIERS MORGAN LIVE" starts right now.