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The North Korean Crisis

Aired April 11, 2013 - 20:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, everyone. Tonight, breaking news. It could be a game changer only this is no game. A new intelligence report suggesting that North Korea could already be able to put a nuclear warhead on a ballistic missile.

The question is how solid is this assessment? And we have experts tonight, officials, serious skeptics and diplomats all weighing in.

Also tonight, we're going to take a look at the brutal weather hammering the middle of the country right now and the south and still on the move. We'll get a live update on who needs to watch out next.

And later, a 360 exclusive. Two American kids kidnapped, spirited out of the country, taken to Egypt. That happened nearly 12 years ago. They've been there ever since. The boys' father hasn't seen them in all that time. We've tracked down the kids and tonight you'll meet the boys' father who is desperate to get them back and why he hasn't been able to in the past 12 years.

We begin with the breaking news. A line from a U.S. intelligence report that was mistakenly declassified. If accurate, and that's being called into question right now, but if accurate, it dramatically changes what we know about North Korea's nuclear capability.

For years, we've known that Pyongyang has nuclear devices and ballistic missiles. They have tested both and now show signs of preparing to test more. But until today, we believed that North Korea did not have the technology to make warheads small and light enough to actually fit on a missile.

Well now a Defense Intelligence agency report challenges that assumption. Today, that mistakenly declassified line from the DIA's Dynamic Threat Assessment 8099 was revealed by Colorado Congressman Doug Lamborn, questioning Joint Chiefs chairman, Martin Dempsey. Watch.


REP. DOUG LAMBORN (R), COLORADO: Quoting from the unclassified portion, which I believe has not yet been made public, they say, quote, "DIA assesses with moderate confidence the North currently has nuclear weapons capable of delivery by ballistic missiles, however, the reliability will be low."

General, do -- would you agree with that assessment by DIA?

GEN. MARTIN DEMPSEY, JOINT CHIEFS CHAIRMAN: You know, Congressman, with the number of caveats you put on the front end of this, I'm not going -- I can't touch that one because I'm not sure now -- it hasn't been released. Some of it's classified. Some of it's unclassified. Let me take that one for the record.


COOPER: Well, we should note the assessment is being greeted with deep skepticism.

Barbara Starr is at the Pentagon with details on the report and the caveats. Kyung Lah is in Seoul. Retired Army Major General James "Spider" Marks is an expert on military intelligence, weapons of mass destruction, he joins us. And we're going to talk to the congressman who you just heard from in just a few moments.

Barbara, let me start with you. The portion of the DIA report that the congressman read today, many people understandably alarmed by it. What are you hearing about it, the validity of the information?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, what he read was accurate, Anderson. That is what the DIA has said, no question about it. But what's the DIA really talking about here? Why should all of us be so concerned?

What they're saying is that North Korea has made significant progress in nuclear weapons. This is broad scale, this is not a nuclear warhead. That's what the Pentagon came back and talked about just later today.

The Pentagon says we're not talking about a nuclear warhead fine- tuned, miniaturized, highly machine technical warhead that can be put on the front end of a missile and delivered to a target overseas, perhaps the United States.

We're talking about nuclear weapons, a much broader category, basically a nuclear device, a nuclear bomb. But I think most Americans will feel that is small comfort that North Korea really has made much more progress down this road than any of us imagined -- Anderson.

COOPER: There's a lot of people who hear this and remember what the DIA said about, you know, Saddam's nuclear capabilities, weapons of mass destruction, and are very skeptical about what the DIA might say. But you're saying that the Pentagon, while they're saying this hasn't been tested and they're saying this is not a nuclear warhead, they are saying that it's correct that they can put some sort of nuclear device on to a missile?

STARR: What they are saying essentially is that they -- the North Koreans are working towards that goal. The Pentagon officially says they haven't fully tested and developed one, but the Pentagon isn't saying they're not doing it and I think that's really the key here. The Pentagon is sort of parsing this, officially saying not fully tested, not fully developed, but people behind the scenes will tell you straight out that that is the North Korean goal and they're making progress on it.

And one of the real questions is how are they doing it. Who is helping them. Well, you know, a lot of rumors go through the intelligence community all the time, that the Iranians are helping them. This is highly technical work, very doubtful they're doing it all by themselves. They're getting help from somewhere and they are making progress, and I think that's really the key.

People can differ over when it might happen, when they could really hit a target with any kind of reliability, but that's their goal. That's what they're working towards. I don't think there's a lot of disagreement about that.

COOPER: General Marks, what do you make of this information? Because I'm still a little confused. It's not a warhead but it could be a nuclear device that they put on some sort of a missile.

GEN. JAMES "SPIDER" MARKS, U.S. ARMY (RET.): Right. The assessment is that there are probably eight bombs that they -- that they have and potentially materials for 12. The key is, has that been able to be linked up with a missile, has it been weaponized so they can launch it? Bear in mind they have not demonstrated the missile technology to deliver anything, whether it's a conventional warhead or it's a dummy or whether it's nuclear, to anything closer to the United States than maybe the western portions of Alaska.

Still, that's egregious and that's a threat and it's dangerous. Their missile technology, we have a pretty good sense of how that has evolved. We can collect that intelligence through technical means pretty well. The problem is, it's very difficult to do exactly what Barbara described without being able to penetrate, get into the facilities, look at what the nuclear development looks like.

And as you've suggested, you know, Anderson, we have been down this road very specifically in our run-up to our operations in Iraq. We didn't have human intelligence on the ground in order to walk into these facilities that were acknowledged to have weapons of mass destruction. We have the similar situation here.

COOPER: Well, I mean, are we talking about not being able to reach the United States, but still, I mean, a device then theoretically could reach South Korea pretty easily, no?

MARKS: Well, no, it could. They've got the missile technology, they could launch missiles with no warning that would touch South Korea and could possibly even reach Japan. That's always been a major concern and where we are right now is -- is this nuclear capability already been weaponized.

Is it available and can it be launched? And because DIA cannot say with certainty but with some degree of moderate confidence, and that means we have drawn some conclusions and made some assessments, and we have to be cautious. Because if we're not cautious, we're going to lose the ability to collect and continue to try to go after this target.

COOPER: Yes, according to the administration, this was mistakenly declassified and disclosed today by Congressman Lamborn. How big a deal, General Marks, is that? Because it obviously didn't go through the usual intelligence channels.

MARKS: Well, it's an extremely big deal to the Defense Intelligence Agency, the DNI, General Jim Clapper. They have to go back and make sure that they are looking at exactly what the congressman released. And certainly there are some private communications. So the classified intelligence may be out there. The conversations that have to follow might only prevent something else coming out. It's not going to be able to mitigate that.

COOPER: Right. We have the congressman joining us, Congressman Lamborn is here.

Congressman, I appreciate you joining us. Can you tell us how this came about? I mean, why you chose to share that information today, and what you hope to accomplish?

LAMBORN: And I did act properly in that this was declassified. Whether it's a mistake or not, I can't answer that. But this is -- given the seriousness of the threat, Anderson, this is something that I think people do need to know about. And when you combine that with the fact that our vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff has said that North Korean missiles probably can reach the United States, that's a direct quote, and you put all that together, that is a serious issue that we need to deal with.

And I think, Anderson, we are dealing properly in the short term. We've beefed up the Aegis missile destroyers around Japan. They already had some there. And we have some intercontinental ballistic missile interceptors in Alaska and California, about 30. That's excellent.

But going forward, I need to make sure and I'm concerned that we're not going to get the funding from this administration that we should long term to protect our country like we should.

COOPER: There's a classified context around that mistakenly unclassified sentence which you read today. Do you know what that classified context is?

LAMBORN: I have not read the entire seven-page report. I'm in the process of getting my hands on that. But I did read and asked their assessment of the unclassified portion.

COOPER: So did you have any concerns because you didn't know the context of the full report about releasing that one sentence? Because it's obviously, you know, gotten a lot of attention.

LAMBORN: Anderson, I think that the conclusion is pretty clear and speaks for itself. And I did ask both Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and Chairman Martin Dempsey, Joint Chiefs of Staff, their response. So they had a chance to clarify anything that needed to be clarified, if that was their desire.

COOPER: Right. And he clearly -- Dempsey clearly didn't want to even address it because of concerns he had. Did you confirm it all with the DIA, that it was OK to release this information? Did you confirm that the information was in fact unclassified?

LAMBORN: Anderson, we double and triple-checked to make sure that what was divulged in open forum was declassified.

COOPER: Our reporter Kyung Lah is standing by in South Korea.

Kyung, has there been any reaction to this news from the South Koreans?

KYUNG LAH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, this is certainly making headlines here, because this is a threat that South Korea has lived with for some time, because North Korea is just one hour away. This warhead, though, specifically pointing to America, they believe the technology is working towards hitting America.

But here's where it's making a bit of news here in South Korea. This is moving the ball, moving the ball because South Koreans believe that the only way to stop North Korea, and this is a growing sentiment here on the peninsula, is for South Korea to have its own nuclear capability. Two recent national polls showed 60 to 70 percent of South Koreans want that capability. It doesn't have it right now.

And here's the global concern. If South Korea then arms itself with nuclear weapons, you're looking at a potential regional arms race. Japan wanting in, China escalating. So that's the big concern here in South Korea right now.

COOPER: Congressman, so is your understanding of this that the DIA believes that the North Koreans could launch some sort of a weapon against a South Korea that has a nuclear device on it? They could currently do that?

LAMBORN: Anderson --

COOPER: It wouldn't be accurate but they could do it?

LAMBORN: Yes. Yes, the reliability is low. They could launch but who knows where it would end up exactly. They have, according to DIA, and I'm just repeating what they have said, there is some confidence that they can put the nuclear weapon on a missile and make it deliverable, and that is something that we've suspected, but this puts it out there in black and white.

COOPER: All right. Congressman Lamborn, appreciate you being on. General James "Spider" Marks, Barbara Starr, Kyung Lah.

Let us know what you think about this. Follow me on Twitter @Andersoncooper.

We have more on the breaking news coming up. We're going to dig into how to defuse this crisis. I'm joined by Christiane Amanpour who spent time obviously in the North. And former presidential candidate Jon Huntsman who served as ambassador to a key player in the diplomatic game, China. We'll get his perspective on all of this.

Later, they call them mass games. You'll hear from a documentary filmmaker who got unprecedented access to them, inside North Korea. They are actually mass indoctrinations, tens of thousands of North Koreans who take part and the millions who watch.


COOPER: Welcome back. Our breaking news tonight, North Korea could have nuclear devices small enough to put on a ballistic missile or ballistic missiles that could then be fired into, say, South Korea or in the region. That's from a new assessment by the Defense Intelligence Agency.

Now, the conclusion, though, comes with a string of caveats. According to that assessment, the resulting missile might be unreliable. It hasn't been tested. That and the authors say there's only moderate confidence in the overall conclusion.

More now on how to unravel the crisis now with chief international correspondent Christiane Amanpour and Jon Huntsman, former presidential candidate and ambassador to China during the first Obama administration.

Governor Huntsman, some pretty startling news from this DIA report. Clearly the administration kind of trying to walk it back somewhat. How concerned should we be? What do you make of this?

JON HUNTSMAN (R), FORMER GOVERNOR OF UTAH: Well, the intelligence community is paid to do the analysis and to forecast our future. And I think it's right for the DIA to be getting this kind of information out, because I think it serves a couple of useful purposes. Number one, it allows us to understand more and more that the capabilities of the North are improving. You know, you blow off three bombs, you send an ICBM satellite shot into space, you're getting better at your strategic capabilities.

But I think, number two, Anderson, is it really gives a clarion call to the Chinese government that we've got to start coordinating better than ever before, that our interests increasingly are aligned in terms of keeping northeast Asia viable as a center for economic growth and vibrancy. We have probably soon to be two-thirds of our trade that goes right through the east China sea and across the Pacific Ocean and northeast Asia is soon to be 20 percent of the world's GDP so aside from the strategic picture, the economics of the region are extremely important going forward.

COOPER: I mean, clearly see this as an opportunity to reach out to China but how much impact does China -- can they really have on North Korea?

HUNTSMAN: Well, my guess, having some experience here, is that they're delivering some pretty hard-hitting messages behind closed doors. They're the only outside source that North Korea will listen to. They do have leverage because of the support that they give to the Pyongyang regime.

But it's also true that China has been lied to and they've been cheated, and their level of trust is probably very fragile at this point. So you look at our shared opportunities or at least our shared interests economically and strategically in the region, the prospects of a diminished economic picture because of the saber rattling by the North, the talk of nuclear program development, if even highly unrealistic at this point in South Korea and possibly even Japan.

I think China is very much incentivized to do the right thing, to deliver those hard-hitting messages behind closed doors.

COOPER: Christiane, what was your take on this DIA report?

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's quite extraordinary and it came out sort of as an aside, if you like.

COOPER: Right.

AMANPOUR: At the end of lengthy testimony on Capitol Hill.

COOPER: Clearly a mistake that it was put out there.

AMANPOUR: I don't know. That part of it was declassified, unclassified, so that particular snippet that came out, and the congressman asked the chairman of the Joint Chiefs, General Dempsey, and I thought what was really interesting was that General Dempsey said that he hadn't even seen that report. So to me, that says, you know, how valid and how real is it if the chairman of the Joint Chiefs hasn't even seen it yet.

Plus, Anderson, as you know, it flies in the face of everything that all the other intelligence people have been telling us, the U.S. administration, both military and civilian, and all the independent scientists. I had a really in-depth interview with Siegfried Hecker, who is this incredible American scientist, former, you know, head of the Los Alamos National Laboratory, been to North Korea a million times. Been into the -- you know, the nuclear plants.

He does not believe that they have the capacity yet to put any kind of worthwhile nuclear warhead on to a missile.

COOPER: Somebody watching this tonight, Governor Huntsman, do you believe that North Korea has the capability now of launching a nuclear device?

HUNTSMAN: What we do know is that they've had three nuclear tests and in each case, the yield seems to improve. What we do know is that they have centrifuges spinning, that is producing a highly enriched product for them so they have a raw material out of which to make a weapon.

What we do know is that they've gone from short range to medium range to now more of an -- of ICBM, Intercontinental Ballistic Missile, for a, quote, unquote, "satellite test" recently. So this speaks to improved capabilities, which needs to be, I think, a warning sign to everybody, not just in northeast Asia, but increasingly to those strategic regions of the United States that increasingly could fall into a danger zone, Hawaii, where the Pacific Command is located, and Alaska, for example.

And we have a major military presence now in Guam to say nothing of some territories in the region. So all of this needs to be factored into our ongoing strategy that is deployed first and foremost with our allies, Japan and South Korea, and second of all, in our ongoing trust building with China.

And in deepening and expanding our discussions with them about how to handle North Korea, because traditionally, they've been very, very reluctant to engage. There is no plan by which you deescalate something after tensions get out of control. There has been no real conversation about what you do about a failed nation state, and all of this to North Korea is increasingly real when this kind of thing plays out.

So let it be a clarion call to not only our allies, but to China and the United States as well, that we need to start drilling down a little bit in terms of better understanding the capabilities and what to do about it.

COOPER: What about the intelligence, Christiane? It doesn't seem like -- I mean, in terms of technical signals intelligence, it seems like we have capabilities against North Korea but in terms of human intelligence, trying to understand actually what they are thinking, that seems very difficult.

AMANPOUR: I think this whole week has also shown the imperfect technical intelligence as well. Look, we know some stuff but not all stuff. We have been told all week for the last eight days that it could happen now, now, now, now, that it's one, that it's two, that it's medium, that it's short. What is it and when will it happen, will it happen. Unless you know this gentleman, Kim Jong-Un.

COOPER: Right.

AMANPOUR: Ad what he wants, it's going to be guessing.

COOPER: And, Governor Huntsman, you recently referred to him, I think, as a crazy man. You said you don't know what he's capable of doing. That's obviously part of what's so alarming. But -- I mean, is he crazy or crazy like a fox? I mean, is he a rational actor?

HUNTSMAN: Well, what we're seeing, I mean, this is essentially music that we've heard before. And that is the manipulation of public opinion not only in northeast Asia but indeed, Anderson, around the world. And the cycles always sort of end the same. And that is they get paid off. They get a seat at the negotiating table or they get cash and -- or raw materials.

What we don't know about this last round, and Christiane is right on the money, is the cycle appears to be the same, but it's under the command and control of a new untested leader, 29 years old. Nobody knows a thing about him. And he's been very untested in terms of how you then deescalate a situation like this.

You can pretty much predict what his father Kim Jong-Il would have done but in this case, it's a big question mark --

COOPER: Right.

HUNTSMAN: -- so while it's music we've heard before, we need to pay attention to that one unknown.

COOPER: Christiane Amanpour, Governor Huntsman, thank you so much.

HUNTSMAN: Thanks, Anderson.

COOPER: Well, just ahead, inside North Korea's propaganda machine. We're going to talk with a documentary filmmaker who got unprecedented access to an elaborate exercise in mass indoctrination. You've all seen these kind of images. We're going to tell you what the real reason behind the myths.

Also ahead tonight, deadly weather that's not over yet. We'll show you the damage and where the storms are headed next.


COOPER: Welcome back. Our breaking news tonight, the Defense Intelligence Agency concluding with, quote, "moderate confidence," those words, their words, that North Korea now has nuclear weapons small enough to fit on a missile. The assessment is that reliability would be low, reliability of the missile. Certainly though another chill for countries in the region.

However, as bad as maybe to live next door to North Korea, it's far, far worse to live inside. As we have been reporting, it's a prison state, obviously, and a propaganda state that lies to its people and the world.

So starting tonight we're going to be showing you some of the most egregious, bogus, divorced from reality examples of their propaganda.

Take a look at what ran on North Korea's evening news just today.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Our destiny, your future. We are fully devoted to Kim Jong-Un. For our entire life, we are fully devoted. Forever we will follow you.


COOPER: That's their news program. Now every year or so, that cult of personality you saw explodes in a colossal pageant. Called the mass games, more than 100,000 athletes and performers come together to celebrate their dictator and essentially become even more indoctrinated into following him. A filmmaker named Daniel Gordon exposes the message behind the spectacle in his documentary, "A State of Mind." Here's a sample.


DANIEL GORDON, DIRECTOR, "A STATE OF MIND": Each of the 6,000 performers is synchronized to the group. Each group to its chapter and each chapter to the whole. Everyone will act as one, an embodiment of the Juche, philosophy of self-reliance.

The performance is entitled "Army First Career," and will last for 45 minutes. Kim Jong-Il is unable to attend.


COOPER: It's really incredible. A moment there from the documentary "State of Mind." Joining us tonight, documentary filmmaker, Daniel Gordon.

Daniel, it's so fascinating to see these huge sort of public events, these collective events, this propaganda. For the outsider looking at it, it looks like this incredible spectacle but -- and as propaganda, but, I mean, I guess for the people who have grown up there, Daniel, this is really all they've known. This seems normal to them.

GORDON: That's exactly the right word. It's totally normal. And really, what I found when I was there was that it's not just normal. All the mass games are entirely for internal consumption. They're not there to impress us as westerners or outsiders. They're entirely there to impress on the population. As propaganda. And they use the word propaganda themselves, what it is to be a team, what it is to unite behind the leader. It's all purely for internal consumption.

COOPER: Yes. I want to play another clip from your documentary "State of Mind" that kind of gets to that point. Let's take a look.


GORDON: Up to 80,000 gymnasts are used in the floor display. The participants know that the slightest individual mistake on their part could damage the group's performance. They therefore surrender to the group and in this way, the performers become ideologically prepared, thus becoming true communists.


COOPER: So it's not really entertainment for the people in the stadium because everybody is involved, everybody has a role to play in this. There's a real message behind it.

GORDON: Yes, and in fact, although that was obviously my voice in the narration, the words themselves were taken from the North Koreans, and actually Kim Jong-Il wrote a book on how to participate in the mass games. He writes obviously or wrote on every possible subject matter in North Korea, and those were his words as well. The whole message is, you know, one person making a mistake, one person stepping out of line ruins the performance.

You take that away from a mass games performance and into daily life, and then you get the message of the party. And really, what a lot of people watching, they obviously have been watching these games since they were born. Quite a lot of them have participated at some point in their life.

If they haven't, a member of their family has. Everyone is very intimately involved. And because so many performances go on, there's work units from across the country that make a pilgrimage.

You know, for want of a better word to Pyongyang to see some of the main sites, to see the great achievements of the party, you know, given to them and that basically again is purely for internal consumption.

COOPER: The propaganda machine, I heard you say just walking down the street, wherever you go, propaganda is everywhere.

GORDON: It is. It is. I thought that that was -- we see propaganda as a bad thing and they see propaganda as absolutely essential to get across the party message. I remember when we first filmed and one of the big reactions from a lot of western broadcasters when we brought back some footage, it was the first time a western film crew had been allowed into a house to film daily life.

Everywhere we went there was television in the room and a lot of broadcasters, American and British, were saying obviously this is impossible, they can't possibly afford a television. And it was actually, there's only North Korean state propaganda TV on.

Everyone is given a television because it gets the party message across. It's a very, very different way of looking at television and entertainment. There was only one channel at the time and it was only broadcasting five hours a day, and it broadcast the party message. You can't get away from that in North Korea.

COOPER: It's a fascinating view of North Korea. Daniel, appreciate it. Daniel Gordon, thanks.

GORDON: Thank you.

COOPER: Well, here in the U.S., monster tornadoes across the south, at least one person dead, dozens of homes destroyed, a nasty storm system that is still on the move. We'll tell you if you're in the path to where it's headed.

Also tonight, a 360 exclusive, an American father's two young sons, they were kidnapped, hustled out of the country to Egypt. That was 12 years ago. Twelve years later, his nightmare continues and so does billions of U.S. aid to Egypt. Drew Griffin investigates.


COOPER: A line of deadly storms is moving across the southeast and leaving a trail of damage in its wake. It's the same system that brought ice and snow to the Midwest. Over the last 24 hours, powerful tornadoes across the Midwest and south have killed at least one person.

Governor of Arkansas has declared 15 counties disaster areas. Look at that damage right there. A state of emergency was declared in Missouri as well. Thousands are without power in Alabama.

A twister that touched down in Kemper County, Mississippi was at least a half mile wide with winds topping 150 miles an hour, that county and one other also under a state of emergency tonight. With more, here's Randi Kaye.


RANDI KAYE, CNN INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Today in Mississippi, extreme weather, barreling its way across the southeast, killing at least one person and leaving several severely injured as this tornado touches down.

The storm system carving a path of destruction that stretches from the Dakotas in the north to Texas in the south. In Missouri, buildings demolished, roofs ripped off, houses nearly cut in half. Residents describe an apocalyptic scene.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Literally, I was like this in my window looking at trees in the air.

KAYE: A tornado Wednesday night spread mayhem through this suburb of St. Louis.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You could just see the wind and feel it coming. I shut the door and started walking this way and I got about, right about where he is now and everything just went and it threw me in there to the kitchen against that wall.

KAYE: Governor Jay Nixon declared a state of emergency in Missouri after this monster springtime storm pummeled St. Louis and other parts of the state. During this storm, lightning ominously strikes the iconic St. Louis arch.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I feel very blessed, very lucky to be alive.

KAYE: In Arkansas, at least one tornado touched down, destroying this church along with dozens of homes. This truck was on the road when the storm hit.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All of a sudden you couldn't see nothing and then all of a sudden, I just started spinning out of control for a long time. Then all of a sudden, it just stopped and then you know, only thing I could do was pray and ask the Lord, you know, to not let me die. KAYE: Amazingly, no one in Missouri or Arkansas believed to have been killed or seriously injured. Further north, in South Dakota, the monster storm brought ice and snow, snapping trees and downing power lines.

In Sioux Falls, tens of thousands remain without power as crews work to restore it. Tonight, the storm pushes farther into the southeast, raising the specter of more tornadoes and extreme weather to come. Randi Kaye, CNN.


COOPER: Just terrible. As Randi said, the storm system still has juice. So where exactly is it headed? Chad Myers joins me now. Chad, what's the latest on the areas that might be hit by tornadoes tonight?

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Heading into the northern suburbs of Atlanta, Atlanta proper, all the way down to Macon and for that matter, right on down to the Gulf of Mexico into Florida. It's hard to show you the radar because the lightning, so many strikes, tens of thousands of strikes per hour, being plotted on top of that radar.

So it just continues tonight for Atlanta, Georgia, on up even toward the northeast, into Gainesville. I can't believe there's not a tornado on this storm north of Alpharetta. I'm sure there's damage, whether it's straight line wind damage or tops of trees coming off.

Tell you what. There is a big storm there in the northern suburbs of Atlanta, Georgia right now, still moving toward Cumming, Georgia, Montgomery, big storm to the south. You see the line with thousands of lightning strikes down to Pensacola.

It continues for tonight. It will continue all night long and at the watch boxes you see here continue to indicate the presence of spin possibility until 4:00 in the morning for many of these counties, including South Carolina, North Carolina and Georgia.

That's what a tornado watch means, is that things can happen. When we say warning, things are happening and only extreme Northern Georgia do we have one warning. That storm was on the ground for a very long time, all the way from Alabama all the way up to North Georgia.

We will obviously have pictures of damage in the morning. We obviously had some pictures of damage earlier today. Those pictures you see there, it was a half mile wide tornado between Mississippi and Alabama, right through here, about 12 hours ago when I first arrived here at the station. It was a very rough morning.

COOPER: Incredible. Chad, appreciate the update. Thanks very much.

A 360 exclusive, two young American boys kidnapped taken to Egypt nearly 12 years ago. Their father is still fighting to get them back. The U.S. is still giving billions in aid to Cairo and saying there's not much they can do to help this dad.

Also ahead, the latest in another kidnapping case where Chase and Cole Hakken are tonight after a risky boat ride to Cuba.


COOPER: Tonight, a 360 exclusive, an American dad's nearly 12 year battle to get his sons back. Imagine that. Michael Shannon knows exactly where his boys are. His ex-wife fled with them to Egypt in 2001.

Adam, his son, was just 4 then. Jason was a toddler. Shannon hasn't seen them since then. They're grown up without him. What his ex-wife did is illegal, criminal and civil courts ruled in Shannon's favor, but the rulings carry no weight in Egypt.

And that's where this story gets really complicated. It is a kidnapping case caught up in layers of international politics and all this time, the U.S. government has been giving Cairo billions of dollars in aid.

Investigative correspondent Drew Griffin has been digging into this story. His hour-long report airs tomorrow at 10 p.m. Eastern, but here's a preview.


DREW GRIFFIN, CNN INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): On August 22nd, 2001, two weeks before the horrors of 9/11, Michael Shannon sent his two sons off to New York with their mother for what he thought would be a weekend visit. It would be the last time he saw either one of them.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They were out of the country before we even knew they were gone.

GRIFFIN: On Sunday night, August 26th, when his sons were not back, he drove to his ex-wife's apartment and his life suddenly changed.

(on camera): What was that day like when you pulled up?

FATHER MICHAEL SHANNON, FATHER OF ADAM AND JASON SHANNON: I went to the apartment to pick them up. It was like it was ransacked. I went to the property manager, what happened. He said there was a truck out here with international moving company. I finally got a hold of them, Sunday afternoon I called the Baltimore County Police and I just knew what had happened. See the picture above the bed?

GRIFFIN (voice-over): It was his worst fear. His ex-wife, who had been accused of assault, ordered to attend alcohol and drug treatment and had lost custody of 4-year-old Adam, had escaped aided by her wealthy Egyptian mother. She had taken his sons to a country where U.S. citizens have few rights in custody battles, Egypt. Confirmation would come on the most unlikely of days. SHANNON: I received a call from Adam right after 9/11 and he said I'm not in America anymore. I'm not in American anymore. I'm not even in New York because he thought New York was a separate country. He was only 4 years old at the time. He says when are you and pop-pop coming to get me? And I said as soon as we can.

GRIFFIN: Thomas Fleckenstein, the state's attorney in Maryland, says the facts would later reveal Adam and Jason's grandmother was the co-conspirator of an international kidnapping weeks in the works.

THOMAS FLECKENSTEIN, DEPUTY MARYLAND STATE ATTORNEY: She came from her home country of Egypt, she came here. She participated in the planning of the removal of the children from Maryland. She participated in the story that was told to the father. It was well planned. It was well planned.

GRIFFIN: It had to be. Michael Shannon held the passports for both of his boys in a safe at home. He had legal custody of Adam and Jason wasn't allowed to leave Maryland without the father's consent. But there was a loophole.

Early in 2001, one parent could simply call the State Department and report a child's passport lost, apply for a new one and it was granted. That is exactly what had happened. The Egypt air tickets were purchased in New York by a relative.

The family arranged for an international moving company to empty the apartment where she was living. That was nearly 12 years ago. Michael Shannon has not laid eyes on his sons, not even in a photograph, since 2001.

(on camera): You've seen no photos.

SHANNON: Nothing. The State Department won't get any because they say the family won't allow it, it's intrusive. I've asked for welfare and multiple wellness checks, and the embassy writes letters to the family and the family simply refuses them.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): In a letter from the Nirmin Kalitha's sister, Michael Shannon was told to give up. Force and bad tactics will only serve to put you farthest away from your objective, she writes. The children need to be with their mother.

This, she says, is Islamic law. Finally, this was written. Please do not worry about them. You should be happy for them. If you're wondering just how two American boys could literally be kidnapped, taken away from their father in the U.S., taken to Egypt and kept there for 12 years, you're not alone.

Michael Shannon hired the lawyer who arguably knows more about international child abduction than anyone in the country, Attorney Steven Cullen.

STEPHEN CULLEN, MICHAEL SHANNON'S ATTORNEY: These are American boys, American citizens, they're not entitled to be Egyptian citizens and they have been held in a foreign country for 12 years, and the government unfortunately has done nothing about it.

GRIFFIN: Michael Shannon turned to an Egyptian court for help, hiring an Egyptian attorney to help enforce U.S. custody rights. The case was filed in 2002. It was postponed two years for translation until December 30th of 2004.

Then there was another two-year postponement until February of 2006 then nothing. Despite sending billions of dollars in aid to Egypt year after year, year after year, Shannon has gotten almost no help from the State Department in trying to get his sons back.

When we asked Susan Jacobs, the State Department's special ambassador on children's affairs, about the case, we were surprised to find out Michael Shannon is not alone.

(on camera): In this specific case, Michael Shannon has not even seen a photograph of his children in 12 years.

SUSAN JACOBS, U.S. AMBASSADOR/ADVISOR ON CHILDREN'S ISSUES: I mean, and this is true in other of the 22 cases. I'm not going to speak about a specific case, but all of these cases are very sad, horrible cases where one of the parents has been deprived of their children for long periods of time.

GRIFFIN: Is there no way we can't say to Egypt you want $3 billion a year for your military, give us back these 22 kids that are American citizens.

JACOBS: Well, I would argue that we have a very complex relationship with Egypt that goes beyond military aid. We are trying to work with Egypt's government as they transition to democracy to encourage all kinds of new practices, but I don't think we're going to just say, you know, we're through with you if you don't do this one thing.


GRIFFIN: Anderson, Michael Shannon says he's been hearing excuses for one reason or another since 2001. His boys, who were 4 years old and 10 months old when they were taken are now 12 and 16. He's literally lost their entire childhood and he has no idea if he'll ever be with them again.

COOPER: It's so horrific for a parent. It's stunning that the State Department just can't do anything.

GRIFFIN: Ambassador Jacobs says because Egypt, like many Arab and Muslim countries, hasn't signed on to the Hague Convention, there's really little the U.S. can do. That is somewhat hard to believe, as we asked her given the amount of financial aid and military support that the U.S. has sent to Egypt during these past 12 years.

It is chaotic in Egypt now, but you know, during the Hosni Mubarak reign, Shannon also got little help. He says because this family are not only wealthy, but were tied in with the Mubarak regime and therefore, untouchable.

COOPER: What do you find when you went to Cairo in search of these boys?

GRIFFIN: We actually found the boys themselves and while we were still in Cairo, we sent Michael Shannon images of his boys, his boys that he hasn't seen in 12 years. Take a look.


GRIFFIN: Listen, I want you to do something. You've got a computer in front of you. I want you to open up that computer and I want you to hit play.

SHANNON: I see it and I'm looking at a young man with a black tie.

GRIFFIN: Does he look familiar?

SHANNON: No. Are you serious? Are you talking about the man with the tie?

GRIFFIN: Yes. We believe that first boy who looks like a man now is Adam, and the second is Jason, your son, Jason.

SHANNON: It could be him. It could be. Yes, it could be him.

GRIFFIN: Looks like a man.

SHANNON: Yes. I spent the last 11 years with an image of a 5- year-old in my mind.


GRIFFIN: Anderson, tomorrow night, the emotional moment when Michael Shannon sees his sons for the first time since they disappeared and from their mother, we have an exclusive interview on why she took them and why she will never give them back.

COOPER: It's incredible that he wasn't even able to recognize his own sons, and he thought it was a man, and it's his 16-year-old son. Drew, see you tomorrow night.

Drew's full report, "Kidnapped to Egypt, A Father's Nightmare" airs tomorrow at 10 p.m. Eastern. I hope you join me for that.

Up next tonight, two little boys home safely from Cuba. What they thought of their dangerous trip and what's in store for their parents who kidnapped them, coming up.

Watch carefully behind this fisherman. That is believed to be a 10-foot tiger shark. More on the amazing video ahead.


COOPER: Let's get the latest on some of the other stories we're following. Isha is here with the 360 News and Business Bulletin -- Isha.

ISHA SESAY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, police are releasing new information about the man who held four firefighters hostage in his home north of Atlanta. Police say, Loren Holman Brown was suffering from financial problems and a debilitating medical condition.

Brown held the firefighters hostage after they came to respond to his complaints of chest pain. During the standoff, he demanded his cable and electricity be restored to his foreclosed home. Brown died in the shootout when police stormed the house.

Two boys are back with their grandparents in Florida after their parents allegedly abducted them and took them on a boat to Cuba after losing their parental rights. The grandmother says the boys, aged 2 and 4, were treated well on the trip and just think they were on an adventure. Their parents are jailed without bond charged with kidnapping.

A record high for the Dow for a third straight day, the Dow was up 63 points to close at 14,865. The S&P 500 was at an all-time high for the second day in a row, closing at 1593.

Check this out. A close encounter with a shark caught on tape. Yes, a fisherman in Hawaii was reeling in tuna when a shark, you see it there, jumped out of the water, bumped his kayak and grabbed the fish. A marine biologist says he thinks it was a 10-foot tiger shark weighing between 400 and 500 pounds.

COOPER: He's going to need a bigger boat.

SESAY: But he stayed out there after that encounter.

COOPER: Did he really? I would have started paddling to shore after that. All right, Isha, thanks.

That does it for us. See you again one hour from now, another edition of 360 at 10:00 p.m. Eastern. "PIERS MORGAN LIVE" starts now.