Return to Transcripts main page


The Shooting Death of Former NFL Star Will Smith; CIA Director Says Agency will Not Use Torture; Former Abu Ghraib Interrogator Condemns Torture; Bryan Adams Cancels Mississippi Concert Over New Law; Gloria Vanderbilt, Anderson Cooper Release New Memoir. Aired 4:30-5p ET

Aired April 11, 2016 - 16:30   ET




JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: And we're back with today's national lead, the shooting death of former NFL star Will Smith.

At first, it seemed to be another tragic example of road rage, but now we're learning more about the story, and it's getting complicated. It all started with Smith having dinner with his wife and friends Saturday night in New Orleans. Police say, after leaving the restaurant, the Super Bowl champion exchanged words with a driver who had rear-ended his SUV.

Smith was shot and killed, his wife also shot, but she survived. Now it turns out, however, that the man charged in Smith's murder, Cardell Hayes, is linked to someone else with Smith at that dinner.

Let's bring in Jean Casarez.

Jean, what is this link between the suspect and the other person with Smith at dinner?

JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's a heck of a coincidence, if that's what it is, because one of the friends of Will Smith at dinner that night is a former New Orleans police officer by the name of Billy Ceravolo.

And what Billy Ceravolo's connection to the now defendant in this case was, it was alleged that he was one of the policemen that actually shot his father back in 2005.


CASAREZ (voice-over): Today, fans in New Orleans paid tribute to former Saints football player Will Smith, gunned down after having dinner with his wife and friends Saturday in the French Quarter. He was shot minutes after the couple drove away from the restaurant where this last photo was taken.


Just 10 blocks away, the driver of a Hummer SUV allegedly rear-ended Smith's Mercedes, causing it to go into the car in front of them.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I heard kind of some arguing and like some screaming.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Some guy with his shirt off kind of running around, looked pretty frantic. Sort of looked like things were escalating.

MICHAEL HARRISON, NEW ORLEANS POLICE CHIEF: At some point, the driver of the Hummer, later identified as Cardell Hayes, and Smith exchanged words. Shortly afterwards, Hayes produced a handgun and opened fire on Smith and his wife.

CASAREZ: Hayes was arrested when police arrived. Smith was pronounced dead at the scene, His wife, Racquel, rushed to the hospital with shots to her leg.

And then a strange twist, one police say they are considering in their investigation. The accused shooter's father, Anthony Hayes, was shot to death by New Orleans police officers in 2005. One of the officers involved was at dinner with the former NFL player Saturday night and is in this photo.

Now retired, Billy Ceravolo was one of the accused in a 2006 civil suit brought by Hayes for unlawful and excessive force in shooting his father at least nine times. The suit was settled. Hayes' attorney says his client didn't even know the former football star.

JOHN FULLER, ATTORNEY FOR CARDELL HAYES: Not only did my client call 911, but my client secured a witness who was about to leave the scene, and my client waited for law enforcement to arrive.

CASAREZ: Smith was the 18th pick in the 2004 NFL draft. He played his entire career 10 seasons with the Saints. He was part of the team in 2010 when they won the Super Bowl. He had already been selected to be inducted this year in the New Orleans Saints Hall of Fame.

KEN TRAHAN, NEW ORLEANS SAINTS HALL OF FAME: He was a model teammate and he'd do whatever it took for a team to be successful, so this is a real tragedy.


CASAREZ: And the defendant in this case, Cardell Hayes, is on a $1 million bond. His attorney says that he was not the aggressor after the car accident on Saturday night. And, Jake, second-degree murder in Louisiana, if you're convicted, it's life in prison and it's day for day. No chance of parole.

TAPPER: Jean Casarez, thank you so much for that.

An alarming announcement today from U.S. public health officials about the Zika virus. They now warn that its impacts will likely be -- quote -- "scarier than we thought" and that a potential vaccine will not be ready until September at the earliest.


REAR ADM. DR. ANNE SCHUCHAT, CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL AND PREVENTION: We continue to be learning pretty much every day, and most of what we're learning is not reassuring.


TAPPER: According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the types of mosquitoes carrying the virus have now appeared in about 30 states in this country and more cases are expected this summer.

The Zika virus has been linked to serious birth defects, including blindness and unusually small brains in infants. Last week, the White House announced plans to divert more than $500 million previously allocated to the fight against Ebola to combat the spread of Zika. That would be on top of the nearly $2 billion in emergency funding President Obama has requested from Congress, which has so far been denied.

He questioned and interrogated prisoners at one of the most infamous prisons in the world, so what does he think about the head of the CIA saying that the agency will not use enhanced interrogation techniques, AKA torture, even if the next president orders it? We will find out next. [



TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.

Making headlines in our world lead today, CIA Director John Brennan announcing that the agency will not use enhanced interrogation techniques ever again, even if a future president orders them to do so.


JOHN BRENNAN, CIA DIRECTOR: I would not agree to having any CIA officer carrying out water-boarding.


TAPPER: Brennan made those comments in an interview with NBC's Richard Engel.

The two leading Republican presidential candidates have not only defended water-boarding, but said they would consider bringing it back. The practice is considered torture under international law.

President Obama banned the practice after taking office.

Joining me now to discuss this all is Eric Fair. He's an Army veteran who worked as an interrogator for the contracting firm CACI at the infamous Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq where many detainees were abused and tortured. Fair witnessed and employed several aggressive techniques, including sleep deprivation, stress positions, and isolation.

He's out with a new memoir called "Consequences," which documents his time in Iraq.

Eric Fair, thanks so much for joining us. We appreciate it.


TAPPER: So, what is your reaction to CIA Director Brennan's comments?

FAIR: Well, I think it's certainly admirable. And I suspect the director would not be speaking without presidential authority, so I think it also indicates that President Obama supports this as well.

But it's also an indication that there's a -- a door remains wide open for these type of practices. We have had CIA directors in the past who have endorsed these things and we have had administrations who have endorsed these practices.

And while I'm no political pundit, it does appear that there's a possibility in the next year or two that we're back to a commander in chief who would endorse these tactics. So, while it's an admirable statement, for sure, I think it's a stronger indicator that there is still some concern that we could easily go back down this path.

TAPPER: Well, as you alluded, let's take a listen to what Donald Trump and Senator Ted Cruz have said about the practice of water- boarding.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I would bring back waterboarding and I'd bring back a hell of a lot worse than waterboarding.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Senator Cruz, is waterboarding torture?

SENATOR TED CRUZ (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, under the definition of torture, no, it's not. Under the law torture is excruciating pain that is equivalent to losing organs and system.


TAPPER: Now, you write in your book you never actually waterboarded anybody, but you did other very awful things.


TAPPER: What's your response?

FAIR: I want to be careful about suggesting that there's some difference from waterboarding to some of the things that I did. I think all of it -- all of it is torture.

And certainly my reaction today to those types of statements is a certain degree of sadness. But I also recognize that I've been in that position where I understand how frightening the world can be and how tempting it can be to lash out in that way and essentially support torture.

What you don't show in that clip is what Marco Rubio went on to say when asked that same question and he suggested that he simply would not tell his enemies what he was going to do and he would hide that.

I think that's exactly wrong. I think that indicates the problem that we have is that we should absolutely be broadcasting how it is that we treat our prisoners of war. We should have no shame in those things.

It should be no secret. We should recognize that while we can certainly be aggressive on the battlefield, we cannot be aggressive with prisoners of war.

Once they're in our care and once we have them contained, we need to treat them humanely. These are the simple values that we find as things in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. As Americans, we need to follow those values.

TAPPER: Eric, proponents of the enhanced interrogation program say flat out that it worked in terms of giving valuable intelligence. You give some examples of where it appears to have gotten some more aggressive -- gotten some more aggressive prisoners that it was effective, but you also say it doesn't matter if it works.

Now, as a moral imperative I understand what you're saying, but to a lot of people out there, including some people watching right now, they might think if it stops a future attack, they don't care about your opinion on the morality of it.

FAIR: Sure. And that's why I do understand those who continue to support those practices. It is frightening and it is tempting to think that we can simply force a prisoner of war to tell us exactly what he or she knows and that we should go to any length.

But I do -- I do have to return to what I said before. None of that, none of that should matter. That's not -- that's not the country that we are. That's not -- those are not the values upon which we are based.

I've been in Abu Ghraib and I've been in Fallujah and I have used these practices and I recognized immediately that it's an assault on another human's well-being. There has certainly been consequences for me as well there should be.

But I recognize that the consequences for the men that we interrogated and that we tortured in those places will stay with them forever and there will continue to be consequences down the line for those actions.

TAPPER: Do you ever think you're going to be able to come to grips with what you did? FAIR: I'm not sure that that necessarily matters. You know, I've said before that torture in a way is essentially inserting part of my will into somebody else's will to sort of violate their person.

And I think the price that I pay is that a certain part of me is gone. I inserted it in those people. But the price that the people pay who were in those interrogation booths is to essentially carry that voice and that experience with them for the rest of their life.

That is not something that we want to ask other interrogators to do. My son is 8 years old. The wars in the Middle East, be it Syria, Iraq, will likely unfortunately still be going on in ten years when he's of military age and the likelihood that he decides to join the military is strong. I don't want -- I do not want this door open when he decides to serve.

TAPPER: The book is called "Consequence." Eric Fair, thank you so much. Thank you for your service and thanks for your candor.

FAIR: Thank you.

First it was the boss, now another rocker is cancelling his concert because of a state's religious freedom law. Will other entertainers follow suit? Coming up.



TAPPER: Yes, welcome back. Our Money Lead now, Brian Adams, the latest celebrity to protest what critics call anti-LGBT legislation. The Canadian singer songwriter cancelling a concert in Mississippi planned for Thursday.

That's because the governor just signed a law protecting those who refuse services to others because they believe same-sex marriage or premarital sex are sins. Critics say that the law discriminates against LGBT groups.

Last week, Bruce Springsteen cancelled a show in North Carolina to protest a new law in that state that brings forward the same issues of religious liberty versus the right of Americans to not be discriminated against.

The Pop Culture Lead now, she was born into a life of fame and fortune. Gloria Vanderbilt is dubbed the poor its rich girl during the 1930s custody battle over her and her family money before taking on a career as an artist, model and fashion designer.

But her son, CNN's Anderson Cooper, recently realized there was a lot he did not know about his mother so he launched a year-long correspondence with her. It's all chronicled in the Lead Read.

"The Rainbow Comes and Goes, A Mother and Son on Life, Love and Loss," as well as in the HBO documentary, "Nothing Left Unsaid." Earlier, I got a chance to speak with Anderson about the memoir.


TAPPER: Anderson, thanks so much for joining me.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST, "AC 360": Thanks for doing this.

TAPPER: Congratulations on the book.

COOPER: Thanks.

[16:55:03]TAPPER: The book is called "The Rainbow Comes and Goes" and that title in itself really captures your mom and you and your different views --


TAPPER: -- of good things happening in life.

COOPER: My mom often quotes it to me. For her it's this optimistic phrase of the rainbow comes and goes. She believes the next great love or adventure is right around the corner even at age 92. I see it as it's going to go away. Maybe it will come back, but how do you know you'll be there when it comes back?

She's this incredible optimist. I'm a total catastrophist. I like to plan for the next terrible life situation that will occur in my opinion.

TAPPER: It's really a very candid book. I opened it with a little skepticism but it is very, very candid. The book obviously is because of your mom's advancing age. She's 92.

COOPER: She turned 92, yes.

TAPPER: And you write about one time you were about to leave on a work trip and you say when she picked up the phone, immediately I knew something was wrong. Her breath was short, she could barely speak. I wish I could tell you I cancelled my trip and rushed to her side, but I didn't. I'm not sure she could be very ill. Do you think you would handle that differently today?

COOPER: I don't know. We have a really interesting relationship and it's closer than ever before. But that was when she was -- right before she turned 91 and she ended up going to the hospital.

And I didn't even know about it until I got back from this work assignment. And I realized just how kind of bifurcated in some ways our relationship was and that's what spurred this.

I think it would change. I know I'm much more in tuned to what's going on in her life. She wouldn't tell me if something is wrong, but I would definitely act on it, I would think, in a much more aggressive way.

TAPPER: I have to say as a colleague and friend of yours, I understand you a little better -- a lot better really after having read the book. You write about the moment when your mother told you your father died. You were 10 years old.

Quote, "I think back to the person I was 8 and 9, the boy who had a mother, father, brother, and nanny he loved. I think back to that person and know I am a fraction of what I was once was. As much as I want to break out and laugh the way I did, I can't not fully, not with the abandon a child with a father once knew."

That is a devastating paragraph about the impact of your father's death on you.

COOPER: You know, Mary Gordon, a great writer, wrote about fatherless girls, but I think it applies for fatherless boys as well. I realize it applies to me as well. I think if you lose, at least in my case losing a dad when I was 10, I think the person I was before that was much different.

Much more interesting and outgoing. Not just because I was a little kid and I wish I had some of that. I wish I had some of that optimism and I didn't have that sense that nothing is sense. That's why I hate the word closure. It's one of those words people in TV use a lot.

TAPPER: What's the Faulkner quote that you have in the book?

COOPER: The past isn't dead, it's not even past. And that's very true. It's all still there. Particularly with a loss. I'm really shaped by the early losses that I've had and I wish that wasn't the case. I wish it was closed but it's not. Life goes on and -- but it's definitely the pain is still there.

TAPPER: It's an intense book and beautifully written. One thing I have wondered about is this book is so much about you as the child of your father, the child of your mother. Do you ever think about being a parent?

COOPER: Well, my mom brings it up quite often as most mothers do, particularly lately. I do.

TAPPER: I think you'd be pretty good at it.

COOPER: I love kids and I'm a lot like my dad and he was a great, great father. And so I really -- you know, I have nieces and nephews and I love being around them. If I'm at a party and there's kids, I generally think they're the most interesting people in the room and genuinely like to talk to them.

So yes, most of my life I've really thought I would have kids. Lately I've been thinking I don't know. I'm also a lot like my mom and both of us had this drive that makes having the house and white picket fence kind of difficult.

As much as I want that, at the same time there's a reason I do what I do and there's a reason I work as hard as I do and it's not necessarily compatible with having kids. So I don't know, I wrestle with it, to be honest.

TAPPER: It's a wonderful book, people should read it. Thanks for talking to us.

COOPER: Appreciate it.


TAPPER: The book again is "The Rainbow Comes And Goes, A Mother And Son On Life, Love And Loss." That's it for THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper turning you over to one Mr. Wolf Blitzer in "THE SITUATION ROOM." Thanks for watching.