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PIERS MORGAN LIVE
A Strike on Syria?; Interview with Tavis Smiley; Interview with Star Jones
Aired August 28, 2013 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
PIERS MORGAN, CNN HOST: This is Piers Morgan Live, welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. Tonight, can anything stop a strike on Syria? President Obama laying out the case tonight. Listen to what he told the "PBS NewsHour."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UINITED STATES: I have no interest in any kind of open-ended conflict in Syria, but we do have to make sure that when countries break international norms on weapons like chemical weapons that could threaten us, that they are held accountable.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: So, is it just a matter of time and can this country afford to intervene in Syria? Plus the jury calls for the Fort Hood shooter to give a death penalty by killing 13 people. I'll talk exclusively to the staff sergeant, who says Nidal Hasan looked him in the eye and then shot him seven times. Also to Tavis Smiley, who says that if Martin Luther King were alive today, he might have strong words of criticism for President Obama. And you heard Laura DiMaggio tell me this last night about Hannah Anderson.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LAURA DIMAGGIO: I remember very vividly telling my brother she's trouble. She's going to -- she's -- I said you need to watch out for that one. She's trouble.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: It was an extraordinary encounter, tonight I will go ask Star Jones what she thought of that and much more. Plus Mom versus Miley, the blogger who warns her daughter, let Miley Cyrus be a lesson to you. We'll find more about that a little later in the show.
I will begin that calls tonight with our big story, the deepening crisis in Syria and what the White House intends to do about it. Fred Pleitgen is live for us in Damascus tonight, one of the only western reporters based in Syria. Fred, mounting tension, both Syria and indeed around the world, as everyone braces itself for what is now seem as an inevitable military strike, how to describe the atmosphere right there in Damascus? FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well it's actually an eerie atmosphere at this hour right now. One of the interesting things that we've been hearing from reports, we haven't able to confirm yet is that apparently the Syrian military has started drawing down at staff and many of it's key buildings. For instance the head of the Air Force, the head of the army as well. And the other thing is that apparently, they've also moved some of the artillery that's in the mountains around Damascus away from there to try and get away from those American air strikes.
The U.N. ambassador of Syria to the United Nations was asked about that today. He wouldn't confirm or deny that but the interesting thing for us tonight, Piers is that it is a very, very quiet in Damascus that you're hearing a lot less artillery than you would normally. That doesn't confirm or deny that but it does show that perhaps there is some sort of movement and that certainly the regime is taking the way and the pacings are going right now very, very seriously.
MORGAN: And the logic of all this movement is that the strike when it comes it's expected to be very precise and targeting military installations and bases and so on not chemical weapons, ammunitions, docks, because they could if they were hit become huge environmental catastrophes.
PLEITGEN: Yes, they certainly would. I mean that's one of the things that we've been hearing internationally but also here in Syria that if these chemical weapons depots were to be hid then obviously that chemical gas would be released and that could cause an environmental disaster and of course, burn and kill a lot of people as well.
However, the Syrian government of course, for his part, is saying that whatever the US does, whatever air strike happens it will only kill civilians, it's a very dangerous thing. And they also of course warned of a destabilization of this entire region especially of this country right here. One of the things that the information minister here told me when I did an interview with him is that he said that effectively the US would become the Air Force of Al-Qaeda because we know that there are a lot of Al-Qaeda affiliated groups in the north of Syria but also in the Damascus suburbs that is there line. The US of course says, "This is about chemical weapons and chemical weapons only", Piers.
MORGAN: Fred, you've been doing some terrific reporting there, it's a dangerous situation so stay safe and sure we'll talk again tomorrow. Thank you very much.
Now, I'll bring in Reza Aslan, the author of "Zealot, the Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth", Christiane Amanpour, CNN's Chief International Correspondence, Fran Townsend, CNN's National Security Analyst and a member of both the DHS and CIA External Advisory Board and Major General James 'Spider' Marks, CNN Military Analyst and former Commanding General of the US Army Intelligence Center.
Christiane, let me start with you. You are a long-standing expert on this region. This is just a complete mess, isn't it? Whichever way you look at it. There's no easy solution to this.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, look it has been left for so long and the United States, Britain, France, nobody now wants to get involved if they ever did in trying to topple Saddam who's a rather Bashar Assad of course Saddam Hussein was the last one who used chemical weapons with impunity and up until now so is Bashar Assad.
But nobody is getting into the business now wanting to topple him even though the strategic rationale has all along been, "He must go." So this if it happens and everybody thinks it will happen is that bound to me in the President's words a limited strike to punish Bashar Assad and to try to prevent him from using chemical weapons again.
Now, he has done according to the UK about 10 times and you remember in the spring there was a big incident when several hundred people were killed and nothing was done to hold them accountable.
At that time, we were told by the Free Syrian Army commander, "Please, please do something enact your red line otherwise it's going to happen again," and sure enough it did and that was last week with much more catastrophic consequences.
So now, the west certainly the United States is being forced to respond because it has drawn this red line and as we all know chemical weapons, weapons of mass destruction are banned by international law and are a war crime.
So this is where we are right now, but there's no big strategy beyond limited punitive strike. So this war is going to continue even if there are strikes against this particular action.
MORGAN: Fran Townsend I want to play you another clip from President Obama's interview today which he outlines his logic about what is going here.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: We want the Assad regime to understand that by using chemical weapons on large scale against your own people, against women, against infants, against children that you are not only breaking international norms and standards of decency, but you're also creating a situation where US national interests are affected and that needs to be stopped.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: Now what was fascinating to me Fran, was that he used the word norms not law and John Kerry did the same. They're all assiduously avoiding saying that what Assad is doing is a breach of law because actually technically it may not be.
FRAN TOWNSEND, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL ANALYST: Well, that's right. What they're talking about are disagreements on non-proliferation and the non-use of chemical weapon. But there were two other pretty interesting things the President said in that clip, Piers. Look we have -- the President has come under criticism as Christiane points out there have been prior chemical attack. She points to 10 identified by the UK, Dexter Filkins was on CNN last night talking about 35 prior to this large-scale incident.
So the key here is then -- that we wondered why the President, what was the red line? What was the definition? Well, he defined that tonight for the first time by saying, "It was the large-scale use against civilian populations. That is red line and that's what's been crossed." He also went on to make the case that this is -- and sort of and this and there is the problem of an attack on US national interest.
What does he mean by that? Well, we have key allies, Jordan, Lebanon, Israel in the region who could be affected and what's not mentioned in that clip but which certainly applies to you as interest being at risk are US diplomatic post diplomats and our military forces in the region. Let's remember just last week, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Martin Dempsey opened up a command post in Jordan, a joint coordination center in Amman, Jordan.
And so we have forces at risk if there's a chemical attack or a chemical release in the region.
MORGAN: And let me turn to you now General Spider Marks, from a military perspective, the one thing I do know and my brothers are British army colonel. He served in Afghanistan, Iraq and other places. So I have a bit of understanding about this. They always want to have a clear mission. They want to understand what the beginning, middle, and end game are supposed to be and they will fight according to that requirement.
Yet again here as with Iraq and Afghanistan, it seems messy, unfocused and as Christiane said, "Is it regime change? What he was supposed to be now they're reigning back from that. It may be targeted but not a chemical weapons depots, but maybe a military target may already be moving and what's the end game from a military point of view, how do you assess this?
MAJ. GEN. JAMES "SPIDER" MARKS: Well, Piers, first of all, thank your brother for his service and we appreciate what he's doing. It's not well-defined and the President has not cleared this up by his interview today. What's not said is very significant. The President has not established a strategy in terms, he hasn't given his intent. He hasn't been able to draw a picture of what he has looking to achieve at the end of this very tactical engagement.
In other words, he's got a very clear picture of what he wants to try to achieve tactically. He wants to punish Assad for the use of chemical weapons. He's de-coupled that. In other words, he hasn't said a thing about what the regime is going to do going forward and in fact, I'd argue that the President wants to knock Assad down, but not knock him out. He would abhor the fact that Assad might be killed, might disappear and now we have this large vacuum and we have no ability to then control activities on the ground and have chemical weapons potentially get into the hands of Hezbollah and the other Al- Qaeda affiliates that are in the region. It's very, very dangerous. That's what the President has not said that's most troubling.
MORGAN: Reza Aslan, let's turn to the civil war in Syria which is almost a separate issue now and certainly in terms of what the President Obama has said today about his intentions has to deal with a chemical weapons attack and perhaps humanitarian issues not the civil war itself, should America, should the UN, should international community generally be getting involved at all in the Civil War in Syria, and can you divorce do you think the two things.
REZA ASLAN, AUTHOR: Well, I think President Obama wants to do that which is why he is talking about such a limited aerial strike which of course is going to do nothing to actually tip the balance of power in this conflict that's been raging for more than two years that's led to more than a 100,000 death so far. But there is a way to do this. I mean actually a more sustained aerial bombardment against the Syrian air force against its commanding control centers, but most importantly against its airfield.
We have to remember that Syria is getting a daily supply of weapons and ammunitions from Iran and from Russia. There are only a few air spaces left that these ships -- that these planes can land in and there is a way to degrade that possibility by bombing those air spaces, by bombing those capabilities but it seems that that's far. That's something that the President does not seriously considering.
So, if this is just a punitive strike on the President's part then it -- I don't think it's going to make much of a difference one way or another.
MORGAN: And Christiane, in terms of the timing of any strike, are there any seen development today in Britain who's always been a key ally course to the Americans on issues like this and military actions like this where David Cameron the Prime Minister was staring defeat in the face on a vote on this and is now going for a second vote next Tuesday, does that mean we are unlikely to see any action even from the United States before that vote is taken place?
AMANPOUR: That's all pretty hard to say whether the United States will wait for Britain or not. Britain also said that it will not take any direct military action unless and until the UN investigating team comes out with this report. So, that was a sort of a left turn today because as you already said, it was a lot of hard charging from the Prime Minister's office, from the Secretary of State, the Foreign Secretary William Hague's office today and then it all sort of melted away by the evening when the UN resolution, the draft that they presented was also battled away.
So, it really depends, it's, you know, the United States doesn't want to do it alone, we were told the United States wouldn't do it alone. So, all of this remains to be seen they obviously always is wrinkled, I'm in France where the French President has said his country stands ready to punish those who've used these chemicals weapons.
So, we're not sure exactly right now what the coalition would like. What we are sure of is that it's almost 99.99 percent sure that they'll be no UN approval of this, no UN resolution. So it would have to be a sort of end run to get some kind of consensus among NATO countries, already we know that the Arab League which the US would also like to have onboard has agreed that chemical weapons have been used and that it is the Assad regime but it's very weary of any strikes.
So, this is a difficult moment. Of course, Israel right next door to Syria they do want to see Assad's capability degraded and they believe that that actually should happen although they also think that the strike option is going to be a limited one according to what President Obama has said publicly.
MORGAN: Christiane Amanpour, thank you very much. Reza Aslan and Fran Townsend and Major James 'Spider' Marks. Thank you all very much indeed.
Coming next, the man whose testimony help convict the Fort Hood shorter. Staff Sergeant Alonzo Lunsford, in dramatic quorum compensation when he came face to face with the man who tried to kill him. That's exclusive after this break.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KEELY VANACKER: This has been a very long and exhausting process. We are tired, we are hurt, but we are resolved, justice has been served.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: Today, administrative jury recommended that Major Nidal Hasan be put to death with the shooting rampage that kills 13 people and wounded 32 at Fort Hood in 2009.
One of those wounded was Staff Sergeant Alonzo Lunsford. Hasan shot him not once, not twice, but seven times at point blank range. Sergeant Lunsford came face to face with his attacker again and he testified against Hasan a few weeks ago and he joins me now for exclusive interview. Welcome to you.
Again, we spoke very movingly a few weeks ago. How do you feel it all went to be? Do you feel justice has been done? Are you happy with what has happened?
STAFF SGT. ALONZO LUNSFORD: Well, partially, I'm happy that he is receiving the death sentence. However, looking at the history of individuals that received the disciplines (ph) of the military, the last time I saw who was put death was in 1961. So I definitely do not want him to just sit and wait and die of old age. I think that now is the time that we really need to go ahead and finish the process and actually put him to death.
MORGAN: Although, in an odd way, that may be what he wants. His whole behavioral pattern throughout this trial defending himself and then playing games and everything else seem to be geared to one thing to get the death penalty and wanting to be killed. Is it not a better punishment perhaps that he does sit there thinking about what he did for the rest of his natural life?
LUNSFORD: Well, no, because when you look at it, I mean, even though he wanted to be put to death, he want to be death in the blaze of glory in battle. And you can tell by his actions throughout the trial that he is not going to receive that luxury. And what we have to prove as a nation and as a government that we will not allow terrorist to flourish within our uniformed services. That's why he deserves to be put to death.
However, now, if he does not get be put to death and he is serving life or on death row then instead of isolating him, than maybe even put him in general population that things with the (inaudible) remain.
MORGAN: You knew him well. You were in charge of the soldier readiness at Fort Hood on the day of the attack at the combat medic. He shot you seven times, I mean it's miraculous that you survived this. What was the moment like for you when you turned and realized this man that you thought you knew so well had turned rouge enemy?
LUNSFORD: Well, it was shocking and actually one of the safest places where you can be in our country is on a military base. And so for him to perform what actually he did that day and first thing that came into all of our minds were how we were going to eliminate the threat. He used the element of surprise and after I got hit the first time, all the light flash in front of my face and so it came to a point where I had to make a decision. Was I going to die or was I going to get up and fight so I chose and get up and fight.
MORGAN: What are the long-standing injuries that you've suffered from this?
LUNSFORD: One of the most important was is post-traumatic stress disorder. And with post-traumatic stress disorder, I am no longer the same person that I was prior to firing in November, 2009 and in the aftermath it's that I am a different person to my family and to other individuals that were closed to me.
MORGAN: In what way?
LUNSFORD: Well, my kids cannot come up behind me and just say, "Dad, I love you," without announcing themselves. I won't go in to a Wal-Mart on a Saturday by myself. You know, when I go late at night when it's not that crowded and the other thing is that I have constant nightmare so there are times where I'm sleeping and I'm having nightmare and my wife tries to console me I will physically kick her out of the bed or I will fight back.
So my love ones have to be cognizant on how they approach me or I'm always in a high state of alertness where before I go to bed, when I go to bed. I control the perimeter of my home and I'm always looking for the threat is going to occur because I was caught by surprise so that would never happen to me again. MORGAN: The FBI released extraordinary e-mails between Hasan and Anwar al-Awlaki. The very first e-mail showed Hasan asking al-Awlaki whether Islamic law would permit the killing of American soldiers. When you read this and you saw this obvious link between him and these Islamic terrorists, did you think that people dropped ball here? They should have identified the threat from Hasan earlier?
LUNSFORD: Absolutely because there were other signs they were prevalent with major signs activity while he was stationed at Walter Reed, but there are again because he was the first man, an Easterner to go though their program it was kind of like a hands-off approach. And so he basically play the race car and so I said, "Well, OK well we go ahead and give him pass." One of the biggest mistakes that they made was they transfer one problem in issue to another base in hopes that those issues will be resolved but end result, 14 dead, 32 wounded.
MORGAN: What are your feelings towards him? I mean there was a threat last time we spoke that he may interrogate you on the stand? He might get a chance to cross-examine you which you fear may trigger more trauma understandably that didn't have. It must have been a relief to you but what are your feelings to him as a human being to human being?
LUNSFORD: Well, he's a failure. And he allowed himself to be coerced to believe teachings of the Koran that were not true. Everything that he stating that he believes is not supported by anything that is written in the Koran and then by him wanting to be (inaudible) obviously this is where this highly educated man has not been using common sense. He does not or has not looked at the true definition of a (inaudible) and what if -- had given the opportunity what I want to say to him face to face was you failed on your mission and they chose one of the weakest people to perform a mission and for you to fire seven shots at an individual and that person is still living that say it, but at the end of the day I get a chance to get about this chair to walk out of this room something he cannot do.
I get a chance to lay down and make me sit (ph) with my wife so when he acts on what is in him and I don't have to live a life and dreams of receiving 40 virgins.
MORGAN: Staff Sergeant Lunsford it's inspiring to talk to you. You're true American hero. And thank you for your service and for your actions that day which almost certainly stopped him killing a little more people and it's an awful, awful episode in the history of America and its military, but I salute you for your actions.
LUNSFORD: Thank you.
MORGAN: Coming next Tavis Smiley tells me what he thinks the true message of Martin Luther King is being tragically ignored and why if Dr. King were alive today he might ask some tough questions for President Obama.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: Because they marched, doors of opportunity and education swung open so their daughters and sons could finally imagine a life for themselves beyond washing somebody else's laundry or shining somebody else's shoes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: President Obama speaking to them at the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.'s I have A Dream Speech. The President said the same civil rights leader's words belong to the ages half a century later. How much has changed and how much more of this needs to be done.
In the Chair tonight, Tavis Smiley, PBS broadcaster and best selling author. Tavis great to see you
TAVIS SMILEY, PBS BROADCASTER: Good to see you, Piers.
MORGAN: Everybody else is looking at what happens today feeling very moved and saying there is the dream right there. Barack Obama, President of United States speaking on the 50th anniversary, what more do you need to see that equality and civil rights have marched to Washington and America?
SMILEY: It was a great day. There's no doubt about it. One cannot -- one can be there watching on television certainly as an African- American, I'd be proud and not inhale this historic moment. So, it was a great day. No doubt about it.
MORGAN: Well (ph) it's a good thought, Tavis.
SMILEY: But Dr. King in his life talked about the triple threat, the three evils of racism, poverty, and militarism. And I said the other that if you're not going to talk about racism, poverty, and militarism, then why stand where Martin stood if you're trying to do justice to his legacy
Today, we had references -- subtle references to racism, an acknowledgment finally of poverty, but deafening silence on militarism.
Now with Syria looming as the backdrop, as you talked about earlier tonight I didn't expect this president or any president anybody who's the head of the American empire to talk about militarism. But you're not doing justice to the life and legacy of Dr. King if you dance around racism, poverty, and militarism.
MORGAN: Why do you think President Obama is weary of going there?
SMILEY: That's a question you'd have to ask him. As far as I'm concerned I've said many times to you, racism is still the most intractable issue in this country. This country is 3 percent richer than we were 50 years ago and yet there are more Americans in poverty than ever before. The numbers are of black folk in poverty are off the charts, underemployment, unemployment for African-Americans the numbers are ridiculously high.
Poverty is threatening our very democracy. It is now a matter of national security. So how it is we think we can avoid talking about poverty and focus our attention on the middle class misses the point. The new poor are the former middle class and with regard to racism as I said. We live in those multicultural, to multiracial, multiethnic America ever but racism in this country is still real. And I thought watching the President today, I thought watching him that when he finishes this speech he's going back to the White House and he asked to make a decision about Syria.
And so I asked myself, are we going to honor Dr. King today in Washington with our words and then dishonor him tomorrow or in the days to come in Syria with our deeds. It's a serious ...
MORGAN: Let me ask you on that point, what would Martin Luther King have said if he had seen the video images we saw this week of 1,000 maybe 2,000 innocent women, children in Syria being slaughtered by chemical weapons. Would he not have understood that it's incumbent on any American president, any world leader of a decent civilized country to at least care enough to want to try and do something to prevent more of that happening?
SMILEY: No doubt about it. His heart would bleed but he would say the same thing in 2013 that he said in 1963. Clearly the President spoke to our hopes today but there are also hostilities and there are hostilities in 1963 when Dr. King saw those girls in the 16th Street Baptist church just 21 days after the march on Washington. He had to give the eulogy for those four girls. The only time he's recorded as crying in public. He had to deal with terrorism, domestic terrorism of Goodman, and Schwerner, and Chaney and black people being lynched every single day and I hate when people try to compare the assault on humanity.
What King witnessed in his lifetime was as bad as anything as we are witnessing today. And yet, he stood at Riverside Church a year to the day before he died and said that the US was the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today. He lived five years after that march. The black elite turned against him. Roy Wilkins at NAACP, Whitney Young at the Urban League the record is clear . Cole Roland (ph), the black journalists of his era. They turned on Martin. Lyndon Johnson disinvites him to the White House. 72 percent of the American people had turned against him, in the last Harris poll. Almost 57 percent of his own people, black people had turned against him. He couldn't be -- he couldn't get it...
MORGAN: So Tavis, I get all of this.
MORGAN: But I come back to the same question.
MORGAN: So what do you do about it? You have the first African- American president ... SMILEY: Right.
MORGAN: ... in this country. He's being faced with a genocidal ...
SMILEY: It's a tough decision....
MORGAN: ... a monster in Syria. What do you do? Is the answer nothing? I don't believe that the sensible answer can be, "We turn our backs."
SMILEY: And the answer is never. The answer is never at nothing. You had a wonderful conversation tonight at the top of this show. And there were more questions I think raised today than answers given with this interview on my network PBS. And I don't want to repeat what your guest said earlier tonight but we can't go on alone. There is no UN mandate, we don't know -- we want to get in, we don't know how are we going to get out, we want to punish somebody, what's the long-term objective, all the stuff that you talked earlier tonight to your guest about. These are questions that have to be asked.
If Martin King was here today, he'd still be saying that non- violence is the answer, that love is the only weapon that turn an enemy into a friend. And somehow we think that love is a joke. Love is a real thing. And love just means that everybody is worthy just because. Not because of where you've been to school, who your mama is, who your daddy is. You're worthy just because you are somebody's child, you're somebody's kid and Dr. King would say those too in United States and Vietnam, the napalm (ph) using Vietnam that's what made this hard to believe. He couldn't talk about the children in this country and ignore what has happened to the children in Vietnam. But he still say it that non-violence is the answer.
MORGAN: Can we agree on one thing. I saw Oprah Winfrey in Washington, Tiger Woods is back, number one golfer in the world and a sport there was a sport where black people weren't even allowed to play and I say with caddying. If you take in its totality, yes, the dream has not been fulfilled completely but can we agree that we're a lot farther to the dream? Perhaps, that even Martin Luther King would have ever hoped of in the '60s.
SMILEY: In same ways yes, in some ways no. I can't tell you the number of times I dreamed about what it would be like on my PBS show to interview Dr. King. He could have imagined that I'd be sitting on front of television every night...
SMILEY: ... with a chance to talk to him. So, I se that in my own life. You don't have to mention all for others to me. I see it in my own life.
MORGAN: Give us a few example being in my point.
SMILEY: Oh, good. I'll take your point. But -- and I'm going to be snotty (ph) about that. I take your point. But here's the thing, individual African-Americans have done well. And the problem is that too many of us who have done well have abandoned those who are not doing so well.
It's not just a race question in this country. There's a class question even in my own community. And we cannot abandon those who are being left behind. The reality is that there are more black folk in poverty now than there were in 1963. There are more black folk unemployed now that there was in 1963. And so, these are shoes are real. So, while some of us are doing well, Oprah, and Barack Obama, and Tiger Woods, they are not the standard.
MORGAN: Travis Smiley, I could talk you all night as always I believe and come back soon.
SMILEY: Thank you, Piers.
MORGAN: Great to talk to you.
SMILEY: Appreciate that.
MORGAN: James DiMaggio's sister Lora, a lot of shocking things to tell me about her brother and Hannah Anderson. Star Jones has a lot to say about what she said. That's coming next. That's coming next.
MORGAN: Lora DiMaggio's exclusive interview with me last night continues to make headlines. She's the sister of course of James DiMaggio, allegedly kidnapped Hannah Anderson, murdered her brother and mother who was defending her brother and at the same time taking a shot at Hannah. A lot of people talking including Star Jones, my guest to night, attorney and national spokesperson of the National Association of Professional Women.
Star, what comes to you of that interview in a moment? I want to hear your first reaction though to what Tavis Smiley was saying there because you or I believe you were in Washington last night part of all the Martin Luther King celebrations with some family members. Do you agree with him in his premise that although there are been some great breakout moments for African-Americans in America whether it's Oprah, whether it's President Obama, whether it's Tiger Woods or yourself or him that actually it masks a much wider problem which has not been rectified.
STAR JONES, ATTORNEY: I think it would be naive of me to think that just because a few of us of African-American have succeeded in ways that probably did not meet -- didn't -- our ancestors didn't even conceive of or think of.
Yes, you're right. I went to Washington yesterday to join with group of people at a reception and honor the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington. I took my 95-year old African-American grandmother with me or she will be 95 at the end of the week. She would correct me. And Grandma Pauline (ph) had lived through 17 presidents -- Jim Crow, (inaudible) she was born in the south, separate bathroom, separate water fountain, separate movie theaters, raised nine daughters and 16 grandchildren and I can't even tell you how many great grandchildren.
So, she would say that what she has seen in her lifetime has changed so drastically that it makes her head spin some time. But, yes, just because there is a black man in the White House with a beautiful brown family. We can't get lulled into complacency into thinking that we have overcome or that the dream has been realized. A number of us have succeeded that I do agree with Travis with his one premise that not enough of us reach back.
However, the great divide right now that in my opinion blocks the dream from being realized is this tremendous economic divide.
JONES: And the economic divide would be the African-American community and Caucasian community or the majority of Americans is one that until we get that under some control unemployment rates have to not be at the level they are in the African-American community then you're going to see the dream continue to be denied but I don't want to take away from the successes that we have achieved in the last, my granny would say 95 years.
I looked at some photographs today that she showed me my -- I am literally five generations from slavery. As I sit on this television tonight, my grandmother's grandmother we have a photograph of. And she was the last woman that we can actually pinpoint that was born before the freedom. And her great, great granddaughter has achieved to the point where I sit on CNN, the world's news network, and have a conversation with one of their anchors. I've achieved a law degree, my aunts are all college educated. We're at the point where, yes, we have, yes we have. We have actually realized the dream. The point is there are so many other African-American families who have not realized the dream. And we have to take some responsibility for that ourselves but the huge responsibilities still lays in the fact that there's disparity amongst this country economically and until we fixed it the dream will continue to be delayed.
MORGAN: Beautifully put Star Jones, I don't even going to try and debate that with you. I couldn't have said it better myself and certainly not with the conviction that you brought.
Let's take a break. We'll come back and a quick hit on Hannah Anderson after the break. And then we'll get into Miley Cyrus' twerking.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
DIMAGGIO: In my heart of hearts, I think that Hannah perhaps got herself into a situation that she couldn't get herself out of, and I do believe that my brother gave his life to protect her.
(END VIDEO CLIP) MORGAN: Although many extraordinary moments, my interview last night with Lora DiMaggio. Star Jones what do you make here of what she had to say?
JONES: Denial is not just a river in Egypt, I guess. I mean honestly to hear someone say that the perpetrator of such a horrific crime had given his life in order to save the person that he kidnapped.
I think this just really shows when someone has made up in their mind that their family member is the victim in a situation when they were so obviously the perpetrator, then they're going to state with emphaticness that they are being victimized. And I have to tell you I haven't tried a number of cases where the defendant's family blamed everybody from the FBI to the CIA, the police officers on the beat to the prosecutor who was prosecuting the case, that's just not something that I'm surprise about.
I want this young woman to go on with her life to put this man completely out of her mind and let him remain in the ground in which he remains cold.
MORGAN: Well, let me come off the fence of it Star it was (inaudible) when you just...
MORGAN: ... (inaudible) play like that.
OK, let's turn and see with something light. Let's go to Miley Cyrus...
MORGAN: ... and twerking. First of all can you twerk or not, Star?
JONES: First of all that's an impolite question, because a grown adult women should to be twerking unless she is dancing in the bush in Africa or performing on a stage like she's Beyonce. I have the blond hair but I'm not, so no.
MORGAN: Well, should you have to come out of retirement in the twerking fun, I'm your man, OK? Anyway, let's bring in the blogger who thinks that Miley Cyrus is a terrible example for girls everywhere an open lesson to have daughter. Kimberly Keller, is it going viral? Kimberly calls Miley, "desperate." Kimberly also advised to fight or die trying to keep her child from becoming another Miley.
And Kimberly Keller joins me exclusively now.
Welcome to you Kimberly. Why do you feel so enraged by what I thought is a bit of fun from Miley Cyrus?
KIMBERLY KELLER, BLOGGER: You know, it was fun for adults and if it's an all-adult venue with all-adults watching, then, hey, bonus, you know. Yes, it's fun but this was an event my children, my 13-year old daughter was waiting to see One Direction and Harry Styles and Taylor Swift and Selena Gomez and it happened in a venue where children were going to see it.
And now, that's the thing that got me. And, you know, as a parent watching this, I know that kids mimic. And, you know, I don't want to chaperone any junior high dances in the next month or so because there's going to be kids twerking and, you know, getting foam fingers, twerking each other and stuff.
MORGAN: So I'm going to say -- hey, let me jump in, let me jump in. If this had been the junior high prom or whatever it is, I'd understand why you're so intense. But the VMA's? I mean, every year, somebody takes their kids off and cause you some outrage. Shouldn't you, as a responsible parent, stop your children watching this if you felt so delicate about it?
KELLER: Absolutely. And here's the deal, Piers, my kids didn't watch the VMA's. They recorded it Saturday night -- or I'm sorry -- Sunday nigh because they had to go to school Monday.
The rule in the house is that Mama controls the DVR and Mama fast forwards. They had One Direction, the VMA is wanted -- were promoting One Direction. What's the fan base of One Direction, its girls 8 to 14 or 15?
MORGAN: That's a good point, that's a good point.
KELLER: So, you know, and, Taylor Swift. And, you know, it's -- I want my daughter to be able to enjoy the music that she likes and to be able to see One Direction without having to see that. And Miley Cyrus.
MORGAN: OK, Kimberly. I get your point. I'm going to have to leave it over here. I'm going to get Star Jones and get her reaction to this.
Now, Star. A little people do share this view that it was a bit inappropriate, the event. I must admit, I can't get too overexcited. Miley is -- she's not 14, she's 20 years old. She's trying to express herself in a new way. And honestly, this whole thing about twerking being a new dance, as I said last night, I've been going to the Caribbean for 25 years
This is what they do in the Caribbean, night after night, in every club up and down Barbados, Guyana, Jamaica, Trinidad, this is not new. It's a form of dancing that's been going over decades.
JONES: Miley was tacky. I mean, just to be very clear on this. Piers, I'm sorry. I mean she's a 20-year-old but the behavior was a tacky behavior. But it was not illegal. It was not immoral. And it's not that big of a deal, the fact that we should still be talking about it almost a week later.
This -- What worries me more than anything is that a young 20- year-old woman thinks that she has to do all of that to, quote, "Be seen." I don't think she has to do all of that to be seen. She wants to convince America that Hannah Montana is dead and gone. Well, guess what, we now know it. We get you.
When you tell us who you are, we now learn to believe what you're saying. I think that the mother is right and that she does control the television. But she's wrong in thinking that this was the Kid's Choice Awards. If it were the Kid's Choice Awards and the new -- and One Direction, New Direction, No Addition, whoever the heck they are, if they were the one that were going to be headlining, you know, I'm old so I'm just letting you know.
MORGAN: You now One Direction of they're part of the British invasion.
JONES: OK, bless your heart. I'm happy for you, OK? But I turned on the television in order to see Kanye. I wanted to see what he was going to be talking about.
But the point is a young woman thinks that she has to be so sexual in order to get attention -- I'm sorry.
MORGAN: Here is my point to you. Here is my point to you. If this was Rihanna or Madonna, God, I don't want to think of Madonna doing it at 55. But if it was Madonna, it was Rihanna, if it was Beyonce, it was Lady Gaga, who was actually doing it the same night...
JONES: It was.
MORGAN: ... none of this would bat an eye. No one cares about her. It's because Miley has to still be Hannah Montana. And I say, why, why can't she grow up and be a bit naughty like Lady Gaga, like Rihanna, who we revere and say are so wonderfully expressive and creative?
JONES: The point of -- the problem is that parents have started to allow, or have, for several years now, allowed televisions, celebrities, reality stars, to be the influencers in their children's lives.
So, when you turn on the television and you see one of your so- called influences doing something out of the norm from what your personal moral values and core values are in your family, then you're going to be upset about it. That's the point. If this young woman has decided that I'm 20 years old and I'm going to have fun and have a good time and do what the heck I want to, then that's what she should be able to do. But you as a parent then turn to your kids and say, "We're not going to have that in my house."
MORGAN: OK, OK.
JONES: Which is what this parent did.
MORGAN: OK, well, Miley if you are watching, I'm sure you're actually an avid viewer. Come on, come on twerk on my show any time Miley.
JONES: And you know that was tacky.
MORGAN: And bring your daddy 'cause he failed on me yesterday.
JONES: And you know that was tacky. That was very tacky, Piers.
MORGAN: No. Maybe I got a little tacky in me. We should all have a little tacky in this. It makes the world go round. Oh, Star I want to cut it off there for one specific reason before we go. I want to wish Grandma Pauline (ph) a very happy 95th birthday on -- when is it, what day?
JONES: We're having the big 95th birthday party on Saturday for 200 people.
MORGAN: Well, happy birthday to Grandma Pauline (ph) what a wonderful lady she sounds. My grandmother is 80 -- 95 too and she is wonderful too. So happy birthday to her and Star thank you very much indeed.
JONES: Thank you.
MORGAN: We'll be right back.
MORGAN: And that's all for us tonight. Anderson Cooper starts right now.