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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES

Syrian Crisis; Boston Investigation

Aired April 29, 2013 - 22:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Hey. Welcome , everyone. This is a special edition of 360. I'm Anderson Cooper.

All week long this week, we're going to be trying something a little different. I will be joined throughout the week and throughout the hour at this table by chief international correspondent Christiane Amanpour, senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin, and Amy Holmes, anchor for The Blaze TV.

And every night a different guest is going to join us, someone with a perspective that we think will make the conversation that much more interesting. We will tell you who tonight's guest is in just a few minutes. They will join.

And you can join the conversation as well by tweeting with hashtag AC360.

Tonight, everything we know about the marathon bombing plot that we didn't know this morning. There is plenty to tell you about. Also, growing calls for American intervention to stop the slaughter in Syria, but also the growing fear we will end up helping extremists in the process.

And the sports story that is much bigger than the basketball court, bigger than the league. The NBA's Jason Collins becoming the first athlete in American big league sports to announce he is gay.

Let's get started with the Boston Marathon bombing developments and there are many. The big headline out of there tonight, female DNA was found on one of the bomb parts. We don't yet know who it came from. That is significant. It's very easy when you hear female DNA to think this is the wife's DNA. And authorities did actually take DNA evidence from the home of the wife today, from her parents' home, but no linkage. And it could mean really anything that they found female DNA.

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's exactly right.

And of course reporters outside that house in Rhode Island waiting all day seeing these huge bags of DNA, literally labeled.

(CROSSTALK)

AMANPOUR: It's almost like done for the press, done for the photo-op. COOPER: Right.

AMANPOUR: Clearly, they have been waiting and watching and wondering whether it was just these two boys who came up with this plot or was it somebody else? And you can see the FBI and all the other investigators trying to figure out were they helped in Russia, in Dagestan or wherever? Were they helped by someone else here? That's really what we all want to know, isn't it?

COOPER: Do you feel like the Russians have been as cooperative as they should have both now and also prior the this? Because they did give the FBI we now know and the CIA information about Tamerlan Tsarnaev, about their suspicions of him, but, at the time, they didn't tell, basically, their sources' methods. They didn't tell how they got that information, that it was from sort of wiretap or phone conversation they overheard.

AMY HOLMES, "REAL NEWS": Right, indeed, the reporting right now is that the Russians did not share that, nor did they surveil Tamerlan when he went to Dagestan, which is known as a hotbed of radical jihadist opposition to the Russian government.

I still see some buck passing going on here. It's not up to the Russians to protect American national security. It's up to our intelligence forces. So, Jake Tapper, who I know we're going to be talking to later, his reporting says that it is very unusual for Russian authorities to contact U.S. authorities. So why didn't we take those contacts more seriously?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: I would just like to, if not rush to the defense of the FBI, I think it's very important to find out how big a universe of people we're talking about. How many people...

(CROSSTALK)

TOOBIN: On the watch list.

COOPER: Reportedly, it's in the hundreds of thousands.

TOOBIN: In the hundreds of thousands.

(CROSSTALK)

TOOBIN: It's all very obvious in retrospect, but these are people who have devoted their lives to counter terrorism. They have to prioritize.

They have to say these are truly suspicious people.

HOLMES: But we had a second flagging to the CIA by Russian authorities.

AMANPOUR: I so agree with you, Amy. Look, we have been living in a hyper-security environment since 9/11. We have so much security. Everything we as private citizens do is practically surveyed when going through the airport, wherever you might want to go -- not to follow up on this. The day after this bombing, Anderson, we all got on the Internet, we all checked YouTube, Facebook, all the rest, we all saw all of this incriminating evidence. What, they didn't carry on?

COOPER: John Miller on CBS was saying, formerly with the FBI, was saying the FBI has basically a 90-day window to investigate and if they don't find stuff, they legally -- they have to shut down the investigation.

AMANPOUR: If the Russians told them and it's post-9/11 and they have reasons to believe that there was somebody who was radicalized, the Russians, what every one might think -- and I do think there's a lot of blame passing and buck passing right now between both the Russians and the United States law enforcement, but they really do know Chechnya, Dagestan and they know these people who are on these watch lists.

The one thing they do know is that kind of stuff.

COOPER: And they just killed a couple of guys just over the weekend in an operation against extremists, they said.

TOOBIN: I think it's also important to emphasize how early we are in this investigation. We're still in April. We're still in the month this took place.

One thing you know they will do look at their cell phones, look at their social media, find out who they have been in touch with and track all of that down. You can't possibly do all of that in two weeks. And that's all it's been.

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: We all live in a cable news world. We all want this stuff to happen...

(CROSSTALK)

HOLMES: But on the brothers, they were flagged in 2011 and then, as we said, again to the CIA. And then I heard Janet Napolitano in her congressional testimony saying, well, the Department of Homeland Security knew that he had left, but we didn't know that he had come back, that is that stovepiping problem all over again.

COOPER: Let's bring in Jake Tapper just for some more information. He's in Boston tonight. He's been working his sources all day and all weekend. Jake, what are you hearing? What's the latest?

JAKE TAPPER, CNN CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Well, you touched on some of the information, the idea that the female DNA was found on a component of the bomb and as has been discussed on your panel that doesn't necessarily mean anything, although of course law enforcement did seem to take a DNA sample from Katherine Russell, the widow of Tamerlan Tsarnaev.

It's possible that the female DNA whether it belongs to Katherine or the daughter or someone else was attached to an ingredient in the bomb before the bomb was made.

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: Right.

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: They saying that could be a hair from a store clerk who sold one of the ingredients. We just don't know at this point.

TAPPER: Right, and they're just chasing every lead.

Obviously one of the things that investigators are very, very focused on, according to intelligence sources, is examining the components of the bomb, trying to figure out where the ingredients came from and also trying to figure out whether this bomb was, although I wouldn't call it crude, but a cruder model like the kind that the ingredients and the instructions for which are given in that al Qaeda-related magazine, "Inspire," or if it was a more advanced type.

Investigators are still trying to get to the bottom of whether or not the two Tsarnaev brothers were alone, or whether or not there was a bomb maker or whether not there was training that went on when the older brother went to Dagestan.

Just to offer one note on the conversation you were having earlier, about the stovepiping, whether or not there was enough information sharing going on, we had on my show, "THE LEAD," the other day a man named Thomas McNamara. He had a job. It's basically in charge of information sharing. It was a job created in 2004 post- 9/11, one of the many reforms, in charge of making sure all the agencies shared information.

He did not think everything had worked the way it was supposed to. He thought that the FBI still seemed to be holding onto their information too tightly, as had been the case pre-911. And he also is very concerned because the FSB, that's the Russian intelligence, not only did they go to the FBI, they also went to the CIA in 2011. There was a lot of concern there by Ambassador McNamara, Anderson.

COOPER: I talked to Congressman Peter King earlier today who is upset. He said based on the information he has that the FBI wasn't sharing any intelligence about Tamerlan Tsarnaev with the Boston Police Department.

The Boston Police Department is obviously not as big as the New York Police Department, they don't have as good counterterrorism as the New York City police do, but you would think that would be information that local police in Boston would have been able to use or at least utilize in some capacity.

(CROSSTALK)

TOOBIN: But wait a second. The brothers didn't even live in Boston. Why would they share that information?

(CROSSTALK)

TOOBIN: They lived in Cambridge.

AMANPOUR: Well, that's the greater Boston area.

TOOBIN: But that's an entirely separate police department.

COOPER: Really?

TOOBIN: Yes.

That's why this stuff gets so complicated. Cambridge is an entirely different city.

(CROSSTALK)

AMANPOUR: Wouldn't the Boston police have tipped off the Cambridge police?

(CROSSTALK)

HOLMES: In defense of the FBI, what we do know is that the Boston field office of the FBI was alerted to this.

But, Jeffrey, I have a question about the DNA and collecting this from Katherine Russell. From what I read, it took days of negotiation for the FBI to get that DNA evidence from her. Is there a benign reason for that? It would seem a lot of people would say take a pint of my blood.

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: And her lawyer, by the way, days ago was saying she's doing everything she can to cooperate, which doesn't mean she's actually cooperating. She's just...

(CROSSTALK)

TOOBIN: And, ultimately, she could be subpoenaed and she would have to produce the DNA.

So the question is, why did it take so long for her to do it voluntarily? I don't know what's going on in her head. I mean, remember, this is a woman who, I assume, is either implicated or totally shocked and distraught. Her husband is dead. Her brother-in- law is dead. She's a very notorious figure. I don't know what's going through her head.

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: One of the couple gets to go to Russia for six months and abandon the wife with a newborn baby and no discernible income? I don't understand that conversation.

HOLMES: Well, the big question, where did they get the money to carry this out?

COOPER: You're all married. How would that conversation go with your spouse?

(CROSSTALK)

AMANPOUR: The stories about Tamerlan is that he became very Muslim man, very I'm the boss, you do what I say.

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: We have got to take a quick break. Everyone, stick around. We will have more on the Boston bombing and the criticism that we have been talking about coming out of Washington now about the investigation. Is it fair? Should they have picked up on red flags? We will be pulling up our fifth chair with one of my favorite bloggers when our special edition of 360 continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Welcome back to this special edition of A.C. 360.

That's a live shot of Sydney Harbor, where it is just past 12:00 in the afternoon, beautiful day there.

Joined again by Christiane Amanpour, Jeff Toobin, Amy Holmes. And now we're filling in the fifth chair, and tonight, we're pleased to have Andrew Sullivan, founder editor of The Dish. You can find it at AndrewSullivan.com. I read it several times a day. It's one of my favorite blogs.

We want to pick up the conversation about the Boston bombing.

First of all, you're joining the conversation. Do you feel red flags were missed? Or do you think it is Monday morning quarterbacking?

ANDREW SULLIVAN, ANDREWSULLIVAN.COM: I think it's Monday morning quarterbacking myself.

Obviously, they did have some idea, but I don't think we have, as yet, any firm evidence to any ties to any terrorists network. We don't have any solid evidence that it wasn't self-motivated.

COOPER: Although every explosive expert I have talked to and former CIA people who made explosives, Bob Baer, said that it's not as easy to say to just do this off the Internet.

AMANPOUR: It's not as easy doesn't mean to say from organized from abroad or some terrorist organization.

SULLIVAN: And three people were killed. I'm not minimizing it, but there are God knows how many people die every day of street violence in this country. And I do think, frankly, obsessing about this particular incident kind of helps terror.

COOPER: How so?

SULLIVAN: I don't think we should shut down an entire American city because two losers have a couple of pressure cooker bombs.

(CROSSTALK)

AMANPOUR: A lot of people were quite disturbed.

SULLIVAN: I think a little stoicism is in order.

I grew up in a country, England, where bombs went off all of the time as I grew up. And Margaret Thatcher, her own hotel was bombed. Her own cabinet was dragged out of the rubble. What does she do? She got up the next morning and gave a speech at the convention. Now, she's Margaret Thatcher. So, she's got cojones. But, nonetheless...

(CROSSTALK)

SULLIVAN: Metaphorically.

(CROSSTALK)

(LAUGHTER)

COOPER: I remember being in Israel a couple years ago, and there was a suspected package on a street, bomb squad showed up, they exploded the device, everybody applaud and just moved about their day.

(CROSSTALK)

TOOBIN: Andrew, I think you wrote about this. One of the bombs in a restaurant in Israel and the restaurant was opened the next day.

(CROSSTALK)

TOOBIN: Life goes on.

SULLIVAN: They put the entire city of Boston on lockdown, martial law, basically.

They didn't find the guy that way. They only found the guy when they lifted the martial law and a due walked out in his yard and checked his boat. I think it was a fantastic and enormous overreaction. And I think we should let this take its course and find out exactly what happened and stop obsessing about it. The only way to defeat terror is to look it in the eye and get bored by it. It's the only way to actually defeat it. It's the only thing they're afraid of is our ignoring that.

(CROSSTALK)

TOOBIN: Wait a second. Isn't that a little pat. That's not the only way.

(CROSSTALK)

SULLIVAN: How many people were killed in Boston that day by gunfire or over that previous week?

(CROSSTALK)

HOLMES: These two gentlemen were on their way to New York City.

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: I mean, that's very sketchy evidence. That's based on the carjacking, alleged carjacking victim, and, also, their interpretation of this guy's comments.

HOLMES: But they didn't suicide bomb themselves. They planted the bomb so that they could live for another day. That would suggest of course, we would want to apprehend these two people. We already know that they are capable of tremendous and malicious, deviant violence. I take the terrorist threat seriously. I guess I do.

SULLIVAN: Look, no one is in favor of killing people.

But three casualties, three actual fatalities from a huge terror incident is not a huge terror incident in global terms at all. The same day, 65 people were killed in Iraq by a single bomb. That's terrorism, OK?

(CROSSTALK)

AMANPOUR: Because we did grow up in England, you had the IRA. And in France, in Paris, they have all these groups. All over. Germany in the '80s and '70s. It was over the place. I absolutely understand what you're saying.

I do, however, am still obsessed in our what I said hyper- security conscious world. I cannot believe that this guy was on a CIA watch list. I cannot believe it. And he slipped through the cracks. And anybody -- how come when we do Googling or this-or-that-ing and, you know, if we do like a suspicious word or whatever, you can latch onto it?

These guys had terrorists and jihadi videos -- or at least Tamerlan did -- on his Facebook page. How come it didn't trigger anybody's follow-up?

SULLIVAN: Because we happen to live in a free country.

AMANPOUR: Yes.

(CROSSTALK)

AMANPOUR: That's fine.

SULLIVAN: Still, even if you're on a list, if there's no evidence against you, if you can't actually...

AMANPOUR: The FBI had been told about him really.

SULLIVAN: But again if there's no evidence to go on, we still live in a free country. They have rights not to be arrested.

And what I find amazing about them is they just went home afterwards. What was that?

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: ... went back to classes, working out.

(CROSSTALK)

TOOBIN: That's why I don't think we are going to find an extremely sophisticated conspiracy, because this was a pretty bumbling operation.

Now, I don't mean to minimize the damage they did. But they obviously had no escape plan.

(CROSSTALK)

TOOBIN: He went back to UMass Dartmouth.

COOPER: In a second, I want to bring in Dana Bash, who is down in D.C., because there's obviously now a lot of politics swirling around this.

But we're hearing already from Peter King, from a lot of mostly Republican politicians, saying that the Miranda rights should not have been read when they did, that the judge stepped in and stopped the interrogation too son. The investigation only went on for 16 to 18 hours.

(CROSSTALK)

TOOBIN: I think that's nonsense. I think the FBI and the Justice Department behaved entirely appropriately.

COOPER: There has to be a certain timely...

(CROSSTALK)

TOOBIN: Right. The Supreme Court has never set a specific limit for this public safety exception.

But it has to be about public safety. At the very time that they were saying that there was the public safety exception, the authorities were saying go back to work, everything is fine.

(CROSSTALK)

TOOBIN: There's no public safety problem. So, you can't really have it both ways. And 16 to 18 hours of interrogation is not a short interrogation.

They did a lot of questioning of this guy, and then they gave him the Miranda warnings. It seems entirely appropriate to me.

SULLIVAN: We still do live in an almost free country. That is what is supposed to happen.

COOPER: He is an American citizen.

SULLIVAN: He is an American citizen captured on American soil.

The comparison is American citizen Jose Padilla, who was seized by the Bush administration and tortured brutally for a year-and-a-half until he was incapable of even thinking straight. That's the alternative. That's what we lived under when we stopped being a democracy and a free country for a period of time under the last administration.

At least that's not happening.

COOPER: Is that really to say we stopped being a democracy and a free country?

SULLIVAN: Yes.

(CROSSTALK)

SULLIVAN: When a citizen is able to be seized by the government with no charges and tortured for months on end, that's not a free country. He's a citizen.

COOPER: Dana Bash, I want to bring you in here in Washington, D.C.

What are you hearing now from folks on Capitol Hill?

DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It is unbelievable how quickly this has become partisan, probably not surprising.

But it really has fallen, this whole question -- you are were just talking about it -- of reading Miranda rights on partisan lines. Democrats have come out and said right away this is the right thing to do. As you all have saying, this is a free country and this is the way a free society should go.

And Republicans, even those who were very reluctant to get political on this issue for a while, are being much more aggressive saying this is the wrong thing to do. And I'm not talking about Republicans who are briefed on intelligence and have information, inside information about how the investigation is going -- are not happy at all about these Miranda rights.

But one thing that I want to say about this stovepiping issue, that's another thing that has become completely partisan. I talked to Dianne Feinstein, the chairman of the Intelligence Committee. She said, I don't believe there's stovepiping going on. And the exact opposite you're hearing from Republicans. It's sad, probably not surprising, but it is unbelievable how quickly it's happened. SULLIVAN: What's staggering to me is the Republican right are forever telling us that the Constitution is their sacred text that they will never get rid of.

It's not a debatable question whether this guy could be held as an enemy combatant. It is against the Constitution of the United States to do that. I just can't understand what has happened to conservatism -- maybe you can help me -- that if they want to rip the Constitution up at the slightest hint of terrorism.

HOLMES: But something that concerns me is once again the right hand not knowing what the left hand is doing, that apparently the FBI as they were conducting this interrogation were completely surprised to have the judge walk in to read those Miranda rights.

COOPER: But then there's contradictory on that.

(CROSSTALK)

SULLIVAN: But tell me why you aren't defending the constitution, Amy.

HOLMES: I am defending the Constitution.

Jeffrey, I have a question for you, as a lawyer. My understanding is that in fact detained suspects don't have a right to have the Miranda rights read to them. They have those Miranda rights and then they can choose to exercise them. I know it's a little bit of parsing here, but our authorities allowed to terrorize suspects because of this public danger exception. And it's just surprising to me that at the table that no one seems to be concerned that a captured terrorist while his brother was killed in a shoot-out would be a public danger.

TOOBIN: Well, I am very concerned.

He was interrogated. He was interrogated for 16 or 18 hours.

(CROSSTALK)

HOLMES: ... is enough and meanwhile, he's saying that, oh, no, no, we didn't work with anybody? We still haven't even gone through all of his e-mails, his computer records. We don't know the truth of his statements.

TOOBIN: But that's not a full-fledged interrogation. It's quite clear you can't do a wall-to-wall interrogation of someone who has not received their Miranda warnings. That is just not something...

HOLMES: You can't use the information gleaned in that interrogation in a criminal prosecution.

TOOBIN: Well, that's all Miranda does anyway.

Miranda -- this is I think where a lot of confusion is that if you get -- if you make statements that are without your Miranda warnings, the government can use those to investigate other people. They can follow leads. But they just can't use it in a case against you.

(CROSSTALK)

HOLMES: Correct. So then what is the objection then to the interrogation that gets information from a witness who is claiming that they had no contact whatsoever, when we haven't done a thorough investigation of just how deep this goes between him and his brother?

TOOBIN: The objection is that the rule since 1966 has been that if you are arrested, you get Miranda warnings, period, end of story. Now, this public safety exception came up in 1984 and has been expanded by the Obama administration.

But the rule is Miranda. There are a few very small exceptions, but...

HOLMES: And you don't regard this case as an exception?

TOOBIN: No. Well, it was an exception, but 16 to 18 hours was plenty.

COOPER: We have got to take a break.

You can join the conversation. Just tweet using hashtag AC360.

Next, allegations of chemical attacks in Syria ratcheting up calls for some kind of U.S. action. But what, if anything, can the U.S. really do? We will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Hey. Welcome back. You're looking at a live shot of the Hong Kong skyline 10:27 a.m. in the morning there, just a new is beginning.

Over the weekend, congressional Republicans, including Senator John McCain, turned up the pressure on President Obama to intervene in Syria's civil war and give more help to the Syrian rebels -- all that after, last week, the White House said that Bashar al-Assad has probably used chemical weapons in the conflict, though they said it was a small amount, and again they don't have definitive evidence on that.

But it does seem to contradict what President Obama said earlier about a red line that the regime couldn't cross.

AMANPOUR: Well, I keep feeling I have seen this movie before. I have been there before in Bosnia. And I really do liken Syria to Bosnia, not Libya and all the other. It's Bosnia again, because in Bosnia, the United States, the rest of the international community did not want to accept that there was an ethnic cleansing or genocide going on.

All sides were equally guilty. It took a final massacre to bring the United States and the world in, not boots on the ground, by the way, but bombing the Serbian positions.

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: Was it Srebrenica?

AMANPOUR: It was Srebrenica, exactly, which has been tried and they have been charged with genocide, the culprits.

Here, 70,000 casualties, two years later and the president laid down not just his red line, but the international community's red line. Weapons of mass destruction are not something the president doesn't like. It is a violation of the laws of war. It's a crime that the world has to deal with.

And now they're saying that they have been used there. And I have interviewed -- and I was been doing this for weeks and months. And this week, we have had two eyewitnesses, basically, inside Syria who have told us about what they saw, about five of these attacks over the last several months, urine samples, blood samples.

(CROSSTALK)

TOOBIN: So, what -- thus what?

AMANPOUR: First of all, you have to establish that it happened.

(CROSSTALK)

AMANPOUR: We're not even talking about action.

SULLIVAN: They're fighting back.

AMANPOUR: We're not even talking about action.

Right now, we're having the international community who is somehow reluctant to admit that one of the highest crimes under international law is being committed. And there's proof. And we were told by the doctors on the ground -- they're Syrian-Americans -- that they have taken this to U.S. officials.

(CROSSTALK)

SULLIVAN: It's all well to stand there and...

AMANPOUR: This is what they're saying, Andrew, that they don't want boots on the ground. You know the United States doesn't want boots on the ground.

People in the United States justifiably do not want any more wars in the Middle East.

(CROSSTALK)

SULLIVAN: So you want to arm the al-Nusra brigades.

AMANPOUR: No. No, Andrew. (CROSSTALK)

SULLIVAN: ... al Qaeda?

AMANPOUR: No, it doesn't have to be al Qaeda. Why would you say that to me? I want to arm al Qaeda?

SULLIVAN: I'm just...

(CROSSTALK)

AMANPOUR: No, that's a straw man. You're saying, it's all or nothing. It's evil or it's, we can't do it.

There are others. There are others who have been put up and stood up by the United States, the Syrian opposition council, the Syrian forces. There are --

COOPER: Although a lot of folks on the ground say the most powerful is the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) report, which is now...

AMANPOUR: It's a very professional fighting force, you're right. And it has now taken on that ideology. However, it is not to say that all the rebels are like that. And the sad thing here is...

SULLIVAN: How do you do some and not the others?

AMANPOUR: You ask General Petraeus or...

COOPER: Let me bring in -- let me bring in.

SULLIVAN: ... civil war, there right now.

AMANPOUR: That's true. That's absolutely true. People have come out of there. People -- the United States has come out of there...

COOPER: Let me bring in -- let me bring in some specifics on that.

AMANPOUR: Yes, it's a problem. You can't say that the WMD failure in the Iraq War, which was all about is there or isn't there, can be the litmus test for here where it's already being used. It is being used.

SULLIVAN: The litmus test is do you go into a country which is split along sectarian lines in which every party is armed. And, somehow, manage to bring peace without becoming essentially trapped in a quagmire.

AMANPOUR: You don't have to go...

SULLIVAN: You're going from Boston to Syria in between Iraq because they're not the same.

COOPER: Let me bring in... AMANPOUR: There's a no-fly zone that's been established, and you can arm the rebels.

COOPER: I do want to bring in our guest, who's been a passionate advocate for greater action, let's stop the slaughter, 2008 Republican presidential candidate, Arizona Senator John McCain.

Senator McCain, thanks for being with us. You and I have talked about this a lot. To Andrew Sullivan's question, what do you do? What does -- how do you do something?

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA (via phone): First of all, you don't put boots on the ground, nor does -- nor do any of us. I would like to point out, Mr. Sullivan, with respect to two years ago, those who were against intervention said all kinds of bad things would happen if we intervene. All of those things have happened because we didn't intervene.

And to turn a blind eye to the slaughter of 70,000 more people, missing a million, Lebanon and Jordan being overwhelmed with refugees while we stand by and watch is an offense against everything America stands for and believes in.

General Mattis testified that we could take out -- that we could take out the Syrian air on the ground with cruise missiles and we could depend on a safe area with Patriots missiles and other capabilities. We give them a safe area, we let them have a Benghazi where they can organize, train and equip, get the weapons to the right people, and lead the people of Syria out of this terrible situation.

And by the way, the president, Bashar Assad, used the president's red line as a green light. A green light to murder, to rape, to kill, to use Scud missiles against his own people. And I do think, as Christiane said, there is a comparison between the situation in Bosnia.

And finally, on a national security standpoint, General Mattis said that it would be the greatest blow to Iran in 25 years if Bashar Assad fell, and right now, it's destabilizing Lebanon, Jordan, threats -- greater threats to the existence of Israel. There's no doubt about it.

SULLIVAN: It's so funny, senator, to say that this might help Tehran. That's exactly the argument they used in favor of the Iraq War. Have you learned...

(CROSSTALK)

SULLIVAN: ... Syria?

MCCAIN: That wasn't the argument. It was that there were weapons of mass destruction. So don't distort history, again. It was because of weapons of mass destruction, not because of Iran.

And we're not going in there because of Iran.

SULLIVAN: But to defect (ph) Iran. And to bolster Iraq against it was part of our (UNINTELLIGIBLE). I heard many people say it.

MCCAIN: It may have been -- it may have been a part of it. The argument giving the American people -- albeit it was a false one -- was weapons of mass instruction.

SULLIVAN: ... weapons of mass destruction in...

MCCAIN: The fact is that the -- that the Syrians, now, are probably using them. There's no reason why Bashar Assad wouldn't, based on everything else. And if you're obviously -- you're willing to stand by and watch these people flood out and be massacred and murdered and the United States is helpless to do anything, that's your -- that's your viewpoint.

(CROSSTALK)

MCCAIN: I can guarantee you -- I can guarantee you that the Syrians will not forget we didn't help them.

SULLIVAN: What Syrians?

MCCAIN: See these children? She said, "See these children? These children will take revenge on those who didn't help."

HOLMES: Senator McCain, this is Amy Holmes here. And I think we all share the horror at these atrocities of Bashar al-Assad.

MCCAIN: We should do something about it.

HOLMES: Here's the question I have. The Pentagon in December told the Obama administration that it would take 75,000 boots on the ground, troops, to secure those chemical weapons sites. Now I understand that we need to do that, in terms of U.S. national security, but how do we both not put boots on the ground and secure those chemical weapons? It seems to be a position that is contradictory.

MCCAIN: I think it has to be an international effort. I do not know if -- it's one thing to have people -- and, by the way, 75,000 is a gross exaggeration, as the Pentagon has a tendency to do. But...

SULLIVAN: Just as they did with Iraq, right?

MCCAIN: ... thing about you, Andrew, is you don't let people finish speaking.

SULLIVAN: I just keep hearing the same things you said about Iraq.

(CROSSTALK)

MCCAIN: You know, if you keep interrupting -- you know, sort of typical rudeness is what we are experiencing here. I'm not interrupting Mr. Sullivan. The fact is that General Mattis and Admiral Stedrita (ph) said that we can go in there and we -- excuse me, we can use cruise missiles, we can use the Patriots. Obviously, this chemical weapons cache is a very, very serious issue and one that we'd have to address from an international viewpoint. Otherwise, we will see these weapons in other parts of the Middle East or the world.

COOPER: Senator McCain, what about the al-Nusra Front aligned with al-Qaeda in Iraq? So those who say pouring weapons into Syria, no matter who you're giving them to, we don't know where they could end up. And if the al-Nusra Front is one of those stronger rebel groups in there, how do you not end up bolstering them?

MCCAIN: I think if you have the Syrian National Council government there in Syria, they could coordinate with the people that we want to have the weapons. There are about 100,000 who are fighting. About 60,000 of them are al-Nusra. The fact is, though, al-Nusra are the bravest and the most effective. And we know that.

But the only way you can ensure that we can get those weapons to the right people is to have a government right there on the ground. And by the way, incredibly, speaking of our military, General Denson (ph) said that a year ago he wanted to arm the resistance. But, now, we don't know who to get it to. Isn't that an admit -- admission of colossal failure of American policy?

AMANPOUR: It is really extraordinary, Senator. And all of us here to think that we're here two years into this. I remember President Clinton, former President Clinton a year ago saying, you know, "If it's left, the bad actors will step in, and they will fill the vacuum."

And the reason people like al-Nusra are getting weapons is because they're getting it from all sorts of nefarious sources. There is an arms embargo on Syria right now. Do you know what that means? Just like it did in Bosnia, the established military, in other words Assad's forces, have the arms. The moderates, who the U.S. is trying to back, don't have the arms and are not allowed to save themselves. So they're here, tied with their hands tied behind their backs, while...

SULLIVAN: Why isn't it over? Why isn't it over?

AMANPOUR: Because it's a stalemate.

(CROSSTALK)

SULLIVAN: Because they've got arms.

AMANPOUR: Not many of them. Not enough. They just haven't.

MCCAIN: And incredibly, they say they're able to get -- they say they're able to get the humanitarian aid to the right people. But they can't get the arms to the right people. Is that -- is there any logic to that?

COOPER: We've got to leave it there. Senator, appreciate you calling into us. It's good to have you on the show, as always. Thank you.

MCCAIN: Thank you. It's a pleasure.

COOPER: I remember you challenging then-President Clinton on the...

(CROSSTALK)

AMANPOUR: I did. But this is one thing that cannot be allowed to stand, Anderson. Let me tell you something. It's genocide. It's weapons of mass destruction. It's not a little argument.

SULLIVAN: Do you think the United States might address its own problems first? Before it starts meddling into a war?

AMANPOUR: I absolutely agree with you. I absolutely agree with you. It's not that, Andrew. It's not that. Do you remember in 1980s, Iraq invaded Iran, and they used chemical weapons on Iran. The west, which had supplied those, by the way, then looked away. Never did a thing. What did Iraq do? What did Saddam Hussein do? He had a green light. You know what he then did? He then put tons of those same chemical weapons on his own people.

SULLIVAN: Did you live through the Iraq War?

AMANPOUR: No, the Iran-Iraq War. On the ground. Were you there?

(CROSSTALK)

AMANPOUR: I was on the ground.

SULLIVAN: I'm just saying to you, you act like Senator McCain, like the Iraq War never happened. Never existed. But exactly the same arguments that you're making tonight that were made before then.

AMANPOUR: That's not true.

SULLIVAN: I made them myself. I learned my lesson.

AMANPOUR: No, Andrew, you are wrong. The argument that the United States made for Iraq was, No. 1, weapons of mass destruction that didn't exist. But, furthermore, they had a huge invasion plan. This is not at all like that. This is not about putting boots on the ground. This is not like that.

SULLIVAN: You want a safe area for the al Qaeda, right?

AMANPOUR: Do you really want to keep putting it that way?

SULLIVAN: Yes.

AMANPOUR: How about a safe area, which worked -- OK, OK.

SULLIVAN: Why wouldn't they do a safe area?

AMANPOUR: Maybe they will. So will all the others.

SULLIVAN: So we're now creating a safe haven for al Qaeda in Syria?

AMANPOUR: Let me just explain something. They're already there. They're the ones who are able to fight.

SULLIVAN: So let them fight each other.

COOPER: We've got -- we've got to go.

AMANPOUR: It was a safe area that the United States put up over Iraq that is the biggest success in Iraq since 1991. They put up a safe area over the Kurds. Who are the most successful people in Iran? With a democracy, with a functioning economy? The Kurds.

HOLMES: ... geographic...

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: We'll continue this on commercial break and on Twitter. A lot more to talk about here. A very big day, not just for pro- sports, but for society at large. The nation's first male professional athlete comes out, says simply he is gay. We've got two big gays at the table here. We'll talk about that ahead. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Welcome back, the conversation continues. We're still arguing over the last segment. But first, Isha's here with a quick look at some of the other stories making news tonight -- Isha.

ISHA SESAY, HLN ANCHOR: Anderson, police are searching for suspects in the sudden death of an 8-year-old girl in her Northern California home over the weekend. Police say Leila Fowler and her brother were home alone Saturday when he saw an intruder leaving the house and found his sister stabbed to death. Detectives are now tracking down dozens of leads they're getting from a tip line.

A former Mississippi martial arts instructor is accused of sending ricin-laced letters to President Obama, a U.S. senator and a judge. James Dutschke is being held without bond. He was arrested Saturday, a few days after charges were dropped against the first suspect in the case. The first suspect said he was framed and identified Dutschke as a potential culprit.

The S&P 500 closes at a record high with technology stocks fuelling the rally. The index finished the day at 1,594.

And from La Paz, Mexico, amazing video shot by a Florida couple on vacation. Twenty killer whales followed their sea diving boat, jumping and playing in the boat's wake for about an hour. Anderson, some pictures there to make you hop, skip and jump joy.

COOPER: Yes. And they need a bigger boat, as I said earlier.

SESAY: You're such a...

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: Little "Jaws" reference. A little Roy Scheider. What ever happened to Roy Scheider?

TOOBIN: Died.

COOPER: Did he die?

TOOBIN: Yes.

HOLMES: Very tan (ph).

COOPER: He was so good, remember? He was everywhere.

TOOBIN: He was in every movie.

COOPER: All right. Some are equating what Jason Collins of the NBA did today with Jackie Robinson blazing the trail for African- Americans in baseball. Collins became the first openly-gay male pro athlete actively on a team. We'll talk about it.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Welcome back. Some headlines from around the country, including that last one, the sports page of the "Washington Post" where Jason Collins played last season for the Washington Wizards.

Today, he came out in an essay for "Sports Illustrated." He's the first openly gay athlete currently playing a major American pro sport. He's been getting a lot of support all day from fellow athletes, former coaches, president of the United States, President Obama, and the first lady.

A short time ago, Collins tweeted his reaction to the response today, saying, "All the support I have received today is truly inspirational. I knew that I was choosing the road less traveled, but I'm not walking it alone." That was Jason Collins, tweeting earlier today.

Andrew Sullivan, your reaction. You were writing about this a lot.

SULLIVAN: Yes. I -- it's a wonderful thing. I mean, it's wonderful for, I think, three reasons. One, he gets -- a human being gets his life back. He can actually have a relationship, a home, a base from which he can launch and advance his own career.

Secondly, he's African-American. And he made a point of saying that. And, in terms of shifting cultural attitudes, that is a wonderful and positive thing to do.

And, thirdly, he's still going to play, which means he's going to have to play...

COOPER: He's a free agent, so he could very easily...

TOOBIN: His career is sort of hanging -- I mean, before all this, his career was hanging in the balance. I mean...

COOPER: He's older, sort of on the downward...

TOOBIN: Yes. He's old by basketball standards. And he's -- he's not a star. But he's not...

(CROSSTALK)

HOLMES: ... an active player.

SULLIVAN: But it's -- it's not an occasion for him to quit.

COOPER: Correct.

SULLIVAN: It's an occasion for him to continue, and it's an occasion for him, maybe, to actually go into that arena and deal with homophobia on a mass level. I mean, people do that all the time. And I think -- I think that's a...

COOPER: It sounds like he was living a life where he didn't have a relationship. Now, he was talking about going home and, like, being there with his dog, because he was afraid of other people finding it out.

AMANPOUR: I spoke to the great Billie Jean King today and...

TOOBIN: I'm glad you mentioned -- I was going to mention her first. Because I love Billie Jean King.

AMANPOUR: Well, she's fantastic. But you know, she said to me, "I'm thrilled, and I'm so thrilled that he wasn't outed and he did it on his own terms." Because for her, of course, she was outed and then, of course, she confirmed it. That was back in 1981. What was that, 30 years ago or so? And she said, "I'm really thrilled about this."

And, again, from England, we had Gareth Thomas, the rugby player, who came out on his own, as well, when he came out.

COOPER: Is he still playing?

AMANPOUR: Is he still playing? I don't think so.

SULLIVAN: No.

COOPER: No, he's retired. Yes.

TOOBIN: I was thinking, as well, of Martina Navratilova, who did come out.

AMANPOUR: Same year.

TOOBIN: Same year, but also at a time when it was a lot more perilous than it is today.

SULLIVAN: Yes. A lot more. TOOBIN: I -- I think the greatest thing about today's story may be, ultimately, that it's not that big a story. That...

SULLIVAN: Well, it is a big story. It led -- it led...

TOOBIN: Every evening newscast -- It is a big story. But in terms of will he face a backlash, will there be people outraged, will he get booed in stadiums, will he have problems with teammates? My guess is no. I mean, I think the country has changed.

HOLMES: I think that's a really interesting point. That the story is not being met with controversy, but rather with applause for this young man to be so courageous. And although his career may be in decline...

COOPER: Did you read Twitter today?

HOLMES: I don't read Twitter at all, to tell you the truth.

COOPER: There's a lot of praise (ph), but of course, there's also those people who are saying, A, "Why is it that gay people are always throwing this in our face," which is, you know, to me, an argument which doesn't hold much water. But also saying that why are we even talking about this? This is nobody's business.

(CROSSTALK)

AMANPOUR: ... as somebody greater than I said, standing tall for justice.

SULLIVAN: This is all about masculinity. I'll get in trouble for saying this, but -- but for some reason, lesbians in sport are somehow slightly more acceptable than...

AMANPOUR: Well, that's what Martina said, actually.

SULLIVAN: Well, it's true.

AMANPOUR: A lot of women had to prove that they -- you know, they weren't.

SULLIVAN: And we're a team sport.

COOPER: Apparently, on the basketball court, is a really tough player on the basketball court. And that's one of the things...

SULLIVAN: This is about challenging the notion that being a gay man is not being a man. Right? This dude, what else can we say about him?

HOLMES: Seven foot, 255 pounds.

SULLIVAN: He's a big guy and a tough player. And that, itself, even in this day and age, a lot of people have not really grappled about that. COOPER: That's the thing that outrageous me still, is that you go see movies -- and you and I talked about this last year. There was a movie that, in the preview, they made a joke about, like, "Oh, that's so gay." And you go now -- yes, you can go to movies and people still use the "F" word in movies as a joke. And it's -- if they use any other kind of slur, based on race or anything else, it would be completely unacceptable. But this is still kind of acceptable.

That Rutgers...

AMANPOUR: They say that about women, too.

COOPER: That Rutgers coach was using, you know, anti-gay slurs all the time. And -- and nobody did anything about it until the video emerged.

SULLIVAN: I'm not sensitive about that, to be honest with you, Anderson.

COOPER: Really?

SULLIVAN: Yes, because I'm not so sure "that's so gay" means really homosexual anymore.

TOOBIN: Oh, come on. Andrew, that's terrible. You've got to be kidding me.

SULLIVAN: It means that's so lame. That's what it means.

COOPER: OK, why does it mean lame?

HOLMES: Yes. Why would sexuality...

COOPER: Why is gay lame?

SULLIVAN: There's a connection there. But people are using these terms without actually...

COOPER: I didn't think you would say that. Really?

TOOBIN: Andrew, come on.

SULLIVAN: I don't have a problem.

COOPER: Would you say, "That's so Jewish?"

TOOBIN: People calling that -- or it's like...

COOPER: Or "that's so Irish of you?"

SULLIVAN: Yes. If I got drunk one night, someone might say that to me. And look, it would be a stereotype. Yes.

COOPER: Yes. It would be...

(CROSSTALK)

SULLIVAN: Do I give a damn? No.

TOOBIN: What's that? You're...

COOPER: But it's easy for you -- there -- because there are kids in schools who are, you know, getting bullied and stuff. And these terms -- and teachers aren't saying anything about people using those terms.

And people -- you go to the movies -- did you ever go to an Eddie Murphy concert? I remember going in the '80s -- you know, not to the concert but watching them on HBO. And the slurs he was throwing around about gay people, you know, made you want to, like, slink out -- out of the theater.

SULLIVAN: I would say I'd rather...

(CROSSTALK)

AMANPOUR: ... our business, Anderson.

COOPER: Well, I think traditionally -- I think it's a strange thing. And look, I'm not one to tell people when to come out, because I was certainly later.

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: But I do think, if you -- for me, a lot of it had to do, in my own mind, with traveling to dangerous places and also not wanting to be the story. I didn't want to -- I didn't want to arrive at some place, be embedded with the military, and have it be an issue that prevented me from telling the story. The only thing I cared about was telling the stories, until that wasn't...

AMANPOUR: Which actually...

SULLIVAN: I think that what he's doing, like, this positive reinforcement of gay people in the public square, is much more effective on combating this than in policing people's speech.

TOOBIN: I don't think it's an either-or situation.

SULLIVAN: Well, I think there are tendencies sometimes to emphasize one rather than the other, to provide excuses for gay people not to come out, and to empower the stigma against us in a way that doesn't need to be.

HOLMES: I think he's doing it in a modern way where he's saying he doesn't want either his race or his sexual orientation to define him. He wants to just keep moving forward.

SULLIVAN: And he expressed it "I'm black and I'm gay." The other thing you can say about him was he's a beautiful writer.

COOPER: We've got to leave it there. We'll be right back. We've got more ahead.

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: Welcome back. Andrew Sullivan, how is the Web site doing? Because you did this sort of...

SULLIVAN: It's a crazy thing.

COOPER: Yes.

SULLIVAN: It's doing great. We're actually profitable in our first year.

COOPER: So people can now -- you can still click and read the Web site?

SULLIVAN: Posted there. But if you want to subscribe, it's $1.99 a month, $9.99 a year. And it's ad-free. The corporation for...

TOOBIN: Wait a second, what's the URL?

SULLIVAN: AndrewSullivan.com.

TOOBIN: Come on. Haven't you heard anything? Say it over and over again.

COOPER: Andrew, great to have you on. Appreciate it.

Thank you very much, Jeff Toobin and...

HOLMES: Amy.

COOPER: Yes. No, Amy, I know. I was just taking a breath.

Thank you for watching. Amy is on "TheBlaze TV"?

HOLMES: Yes, I am.

COOPER: All right. Joining us every night this week at 10. We'll be experimenting with this little round table thing, if you like. And also, regular "AC 360" is at 8 p.m. Thanks for joining us. Bye-bye.