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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees

Anna Nicole Smith; Friendly Fire Fallout; Cult of Death

Aired March 26, 2007 - 23:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Ordinary people, intelligent people, drawn first into a cult, then brainwashed into mass suicide. The worst case ever on American soil.
Tonight, one man who survived. A new understanding of how mind control cults operate. That story is coming up tonight.

But we begin with the hour with what killed Anna Nicole Smith. Ever since she was found not breathing in a hotel suite in south Florida, the questions and conspiracy theories multiplied.

Well, today Joshua Perper, the Broward County Medical Examiner issued his report. No sign of foul play, every sign that Anna Nicole Smith was a walking pharmacy. Nine drugs, including a powerful medicine first used to drug unsuspecting customers at old time saloons.

Here's how the Broward County medical examiner's office says her final days unfolded.


COOPER: Monday, February 5th, Smith, her partner Howard K. Stern, and a friend who is also a psychiatrist, flew from the Bahamas to Florida. According to the medical examiner's report Smith felt well during the flight. But in the limo ride to the Hard Rock hotel and casino, she complained she had the chills.

Then, around 7:30 p.m., her temperature rose to 105 degrees. Her friends wanted to take her to the E.R., but she refused. Smith was then given Tamiflu antibiotics and put in an ice bath to lower her temperature to 97 degrees. She was begin cough syrup, but threw up. And then she was given two tablespoons of chloral hydrate, a sleeping medication. She then went to bed.

Tuesday, February 6th, Smith complained she was tired. In the afternoon she did not feel well and was sweating a lot, but her temperature didn't climb above 100 degrees. That evening she asked for more chloral hydrate and slept just one to two hours. Later she asked for and was begin klonopin, which is used to relieve anxiety, along with soma, which is a muscle relaxer, plus valium and Topomax. And before going to bed, she took another dose of chloral hydrate to help her sleep.

Wednesday, February 7th, according to the medical examiner, Smith felt better, but was tired. She was able to eat breakfast and lunch. And in afternoon she was found naked, sitting in an empty bathtub. She then had dinner, but was upset her friend and psychiatrist had left for California. Later she took another dose of chloral hydrate and went to bed, but reportedly didn't sleep well.

On Thursday, February 8th, the day she died, according to the medical examiner's office, around noon, Howard K. Stern left to arrange the purchase of a boat. Then between 12:30 and 1:00 p.m. the wife of Smith's bodyguard, who was a nurse, checked on Smith, noticed she was blue. She didn't call the paramedics; she immediately called her husband to tell him of the situation and started CPR. Up to an hour and 10 minutes later, around 1:40, when the bodyguard returned to the hotel, he called for an ambulance. CPR continued en route to the hospital. And Anna Nicole Smith was pronounced dead in the E.R. at 2:49 p.m.


She was just 39 years old. She left behind a legal mess. There's some questions about the paternity of her child, custody of her daughter, as well as a potentially massive inheritance. There's that and there's everything else the medical examiner's report leaves unanswered.

More on that now from CNN's Susan Candiotti.


SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A fundamental issue remains the sheer volume of prescription drugs in her possession. How did she get them?

The medical examiner says most of them came from doctors in California and the Bahamas. All legal, all beneficial, as long as they are taken correctly.

Yet the California medical board has said it's investigating Dr. Sandip Kapur (ph), Anna Nicole Smith's Los Angeles-based doctor.

He prescribed methadone while she was pregnant and defends his treatment of her as being, quote, "sound."

Medical examiner raised another question, one many people have asked recently. Since it was clear Anna Nicole Smith frequently was high on something, shouldn't someone have said, stop, enough?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's no question that friends and people who love a person have a moral duty to give proper advice. But they cannot force the advice.

CANDIOTTI: Lawyers for Smith's partner, Howard Stern, today said he and others begged Smith to go to a hospital, but claimed she refused because she didn't want to create a media frenzy.

The medical examiner tells CNN that decision may have cost Smith her life. The medical examiner also says that when Smith was discovered not breathing in her hotel room on the morning of February 8th, it took one hour and 10 minutes for anyone to call 911. That delay apparently came when a nurse and bodyguard tried CPR on their own. But was it reasonable?

Doctor Perper told CNN, people panic. But there is an odd contradiction in the official accounts. A police spokesman says the delay was at most about 40 minutes, not more than an hour.

LILLY ANN SANCHEZ, HOWARD K. STERN'S LAWYER: Clearly, any delay in getting medical attention to her is of a concern. However, we can't speak to that because, as you all know, Mr. Stern had left.

CANDIOTTI: Smith's partner, Howard K. Stern, was nearby in the Ft. Lauderdale area, shopping for a boat.

Other unanswered questions -- how much will Smith's estate eventually be worth? The courts could award millions of dollars from her late husband's estate. Who will inherit?

Stern is the executor of her will, but he is not named as a beneficiary. An estate battle won't surprise anyone.

Smith's daughter Dannielynn may grow up to be a wealthy girl, but who is her father? Possible candidates include Stern and Smith's ex- boyfriend, Larry Birkhead.

DNA tests are being conducted at a lab in Ohio, and results could be available as early as next week.

One final question -- since there are no criminal charges, and the police case is closed, what are the chances someone could bring a civil negligence suit? And against whom?

Remote, says one lawyer, mostly because Smith, herself, appears to have accidentally caused her own death.

JEFFREY WEIMER, ATTORNEY: I don't think that there will be a suit. I don't think anyone has any standing whatsoever. But you know, these days, lawsuits are brought for all sorts of meaningless reasons and there's always lawyers who will do it.

CANDIOTTI (on camera): Questions also linger about the death of Anna Nicole Smith's son, Daniel, in her hospital room three days after Dannielynn was born. An inquest is scheduled to begin tomorrow morning in the Bahamas.

Susan Candiotti, CNN, Ft. Lauderdale.


COOPER: Well, Susan reported Anna Nicole was prescribed methadone during her pregnancy and showed small amounts of it in her system in the postmortem, but not enough to contribute to her death.

I asked Harvey Levin about that. He's the managing editor of

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) COOPER: You know, Harvey, I guess a lot of people had thought that there would be methadone in -- directly related to this overdose. It said that there wasn't -- she hadn't taken it that day, though there was several days before. What surprised you most in this report?

HARVEY LEVIN, MANAGING EDITOR, TMZ.COM: I mean, what I found stunning, Anderson, is that there were numerous doctors, not just prescribing various medicines to Anna Nicole Smith, but prescribing it to aliases of Anna Nicole Smith, prescribing it to third persons, knowing that it was intended for Anna Nicole Smith. And all these doctors are doing this and one doesn't know what the other is doing. This seemed like a fatal and inevitable conclusion to what seemed to be some really bad medical practices here.

COOPER: And unclear at this point whether she was deceptive to the doctors, whether she was sort of doctor shopping, not telling one what the other was prescribing or if these were just some sort of like, you know, L.A. doctors who will prescribe whatever for enough money and if the person's famous?

LEVIN: Yes, but you know, I got tell you, it was hardly a secret that Anna Nicole Smith had a problem with drugs. I mean people were talking about that for years.

She was taking methadone. She was pregnant. She was on all sorts of medications. And you know, why is it that she's getting prescribed methadone using an alias? Why is it that people are prescribing to third persons when they know it's intended for Anna Nicole Smith?

It just -- it just -- the doctor even said he was -- Dr. Perper even said he was surprised by all of this.

COOPER: It does raise those questions, just as it does about the doctors, about what kind of people did this woman surround herself with if clearly they seemed to know she's taking all this different medication and probably has been on and off for a long period of time. It just doesn't reflect well on anyone in her life.

LEVIN: She was a walking pharmacy. And everybody around her knew it. I mean, that's why Larry Birkhead ended his relationship with her, because she wouldn't stop taking methadone when she was pregnant. That's why -- one of the reasons she moved to the Bahamas, because she knew that she was going to have problems with custody given what was going on and Birkhead's displeasure.

I mean, Howard K. Stern was around her, there was a doctor who was around her in the Bahamas. I mean, you saw her on a videotape painted like a clown, completely of it, eight months pregnant. So this was not a secret to anybody. And it's really one of those shame on you situations.

COOPER: She also reportedly had an infection, possibly from using a non-sterilized needle -- injections, I guess, into her buttocks. Do we know, was she giving herself those injections? Was there a doctor giving her those? Do we know?

LEVIN: What's interesting about this one, Anderson, is the infection was in her left buttock. She's right-handed. She was right-handed. So it's almost playing a game of injectable twister. So who was it that actually administered that injection? We don't know and probably never will.

COOPER: One mystery cleared up today. We're still waiting to learn, obviously, who the father of Smith's baby girl is. What is the latest on that? To be honest, I have not been following this case.

LEVIN: The DNA sample is done by now. And it's scheduled to be unveiled in court on April 3rd, which is next week. However, if Howard K. Stern does appeal the DNA order, it will be sealed until the appeal runs its course. Now I don't think he's filed that appeal yet, Anderson. And at a point, he either has to fish or cut bait. So it's possible that we may know what that DNA test shows early next week.

COOPER: And I -- clearly, a lot of people are watching this stuff. What about the investigation into Daniel's death? Where does that stand?

LEVIN: Well, that's a big deal and the inquest starts tomorrow in the Bahamas, where various witnesses are going to testify, you know, about the circumstances surrounding his death.

I think that's a really interesting one, Anderson, because Daniel had methadone in his system. And a methadone cocktail killed him. The question, how the heck did this kid get methadone? There was none on his person, you know, after he died. And if you're coming to the Bahamas for two weeks or three weeks and you're hooked on methadone, you would think you'd bring a stash with you. So how is it that he had one dosage in him and that was it? There are going to be a lot of witnesses talking about that tomorrow.

COOPER: Harvey Levin, appreciate it. Thanks, Harvey.

LEVIN: See you, Anderson.


COOPER: Coming up, we're going to talk to Forensic Pathologist Cyril Wecht, who performed an autopsy on Anna Nicole Smith's son, Daniel. He weighs in next, along with "Court TV's" Lisa Bloom.

Plus, a story that captured our attention when it happened, still 10 years later. Take a look.


COOPER (voice-over): The Heaven's Gate mass suicide. Purple shroud, black Nikes, bunk beds. Thirty-nine people died, one survived.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Of course, I knew from the odor was what was happening. COOPER: What he saw that day and why he still believes, 10 years later.

Also tonight, it was friendly fire. But was it a crime? New information about what killed NFL player turned Army Ranger Pat Tillman, ahead on 360.



COOPER (on camera): Well, as we learn today, Anna Nicole Smith died of a lethal overdose. So did her son Daniel.

Forensic Pathologist Cyril Wecht performed an autopsy on Daniel. I spoke to him and Court TV Anchor Lisa Bloom earlier.


COOPER: Dr. Wecht, this woman was on at one -- basically nine prescription drugs. Does this surprise you? I mean, that she was taking so many?

CYRIL WECHT, FORENSIC PATHOLOGIST: Yes, so many. I'm not surprised that she was taking several because I knew something about her drug history and her drug abuse.

But remember this, most of the drugs, all of the drugs, are at therapeutic, even low therapeutic level. The only drug that is at a significantly high level is chloral hydrate. It was a fairly high level, but not enough to have killed her by itself. All of the other drugs, even though therapeutic levels added on were enough to tilt the scales.

COOPER: Lisa, legally, I mean are there any consequences for the people around Smith, her friends, Howard K. Stern, and certainly the doctors, doctor and/or doctors who prescribed her all these medications?

LISA BLOOM, "COURT TV" ANCHOR: That's the question that jumps out of the report, Anderson. It's in the passive tense. She was given.

And the report almost looks like it's covering for the medical professionals who were giving her at least some of this medication, because we know some of it was done by a hypodermic needle her buttock and she had an infection there.

So there was a nurse with her on the day that she died. There was a psychiatrist/friend that was with her on the day before she died. How many doctors are prescribing how many medications? Did they know about all of the other medications that she was taking? That we don't know yet at this point. But there could very well be at minimum civil liability for some of these medical professionals.

COOPER: If she hadn't been taking this chloral hydrate to help her sleep at night, or to get her to sleep at night, would she have died? I mean...


WECHT: No, oh no, of course not. Of course not.

COOPER: It was basically all boiled down to chloral hydrate...


WECHT: Chloral hydrate...


COOPER: In conjunction with all these other medications?

WECHT: ... is the principal offender. It is a perfectly legitimate, albeit quite infrequently, rarely used sedative nowadays. Nothing wrong with chloral hydrate, but she did use too much.

COOPER: One more medical question, Dr. Wecht. In terms of methadone, it's a treatment for people who are getting off heroin addiction, they take methadone to stop the addiction to heroin.

WECHT: Yes, and some people are addicted to methadone and some people take it for pain. I have no knowledge that she was in severe pain.

COOPER: So some people just take it for pain?

WECHT: And it can be prescribed straight on to use it for pain. I'm not suggesting for one moment that methadone was properly used, but I'm saying it had nothing to do with her death at this time.

COOPER: OK, and finally, Lisa, in terms of the legal case, does this close at least a chapter in terms of Anna Nicole Smith's death?

SMITH: Well, it closes one. There's a lot that are still open. It does look like Howard K. Stern does not have to worry about any criminal implications from Anna Nicole's death. However, there's an inquest into Daniel's death, which begins tomorrow. There's the custody dispute which still rages on. And there are questions surrounding a number of doctors, including an investigation into at least one of Anna Nicole's doctors. All of that remains open -- Anderson.

COOPER: And Lisa, in terms of the custody dispute, there has been DNA taken from Dannielynn?


COOPER: There has been DNA taken from Birkhead.

BLOOM: Right.

COOPER: That's enough to figure out who is the biological father, correct? BLOOM: Well, if Birkhead is the father, that's enough. If Howard K. Stern is the father, that's not enough. Or if it's some other man, it's not enough. Howard Stern has not given a DNA sample as far as I know as of this moment, he has not been order to.

COOPER: And in terms of Bahamian law, though, even if Larry Birkhead is determined to be the biological father, that does not necessarily mean he would automatically get custody?

BLOOM: That is the key point. Right. There's paternity and there's custody. He would be the father biologically, but Bahamian law doesn't look at it the way we do. Biology is not everything in the Bahamas.

COOPER: Appreciate both of your expertise.

Lisa, thanks very much.

Dr. Wecht, thank you.

WECHT: Thank you. Thank you.


COOPER: Well, just ahead tonight, another long-awaited report. This one on the death of former NFL player Pat Tillman, who died in Afghanistan. Why nine army officers, including a three-star general, are facing possible punishment tonight.

Plus, U.S. soldiers accused of being traitors. See where they're going to start a new life, when 360 continues.


COOPER: Pat Tillman gave up an NFL career and a multimillion dollar contract to serve in the Army after September 11. Two years later, he was dead, killed in a firefight on the Afghan/Pakistan border. It has taken nearly three years and five investigations to try to set the record straight on how Pat Tillman died and whether there was a cover-up.

Two new reports were released today, and tonight nine high- ranking Army officers are in the hot seat.

CNN's Jamie McIntyre, tonight, keeping them honest.


JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): After three botched probes into the 2004 death of former NFL player turned Army Ranger Pat Tillman, the Army now says it's got it right.

GEN. RICHARD CODY, ARMY VICE CHIEF OF STAFF: In April 2004, the Army broke faith with the Tillman family in how Pat Tillman's death was reported and briefed to him. For that, I am truly sorry, both as a general and as an Army father. MCINTYRE: This reenactment, shot by Army criminal investigators, shows the exact hill in remote eastern Afghanistan where Corporal Tillman was killed by automatic weapons fire from fellow rangers who mistook him and his Afghan guide for enemy ambushers.

The glare from the sun made it difficult to see. And the lack of radio contact sealed Tillman's fate.

He threw a smoke grenade to signal he was an American, but was mortally wounded seconds later.

The investigators concluded the soldier who fell the national hero made a tragic, but honest mistake.

BRIG. GEN. RODNEY JOHNSON, U.S. ARMY CRIMINAL INVESTIGATION COMMAND: He was not negligent in engaging Corporal Tillman's position. A reasonable soldier would have concluded he was under fire and acted as he did.

MCINTYRE: As for what happened after Tillman died, the Pentagon inspector general's report was scathing, labeling all three previous Army investigations deficient and blaming nine officers, including four generals, who could all face discipline.

Brigadier General Gary Jones, now retired, who did the last investigation, failed to pursue obvious inconsistencies, including why Tillman's uniform was burned, and why his silver star citation was part fact, part fiction.

Then Major General, now Lieutenant General Stanley McChrystal was faulted for submitting an inaccurate silver star recommendation and failing to speak up when it was clear Tillman's death by friendly fire would make him ineligible for the award.

Then Colonel, now Brigadier General James Nixon was found to bare the primary responsibility for the failure to correct the record at the outset because he decided to wait until investigations were through, in violation of Army regulations.

But the sharpest criticism was reserved for Lieutenant General Phillip Kensinger, now retired, accused of misleading investigators about what he knew at time of Tillman's memorial service.

(on camera): So he said at that point, he didn't know that patricide was a likely cause -- a likely reason for the death and that he didn't find out until afterwards, and you didn't find that credible?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We didn't find that credible. We found evidence that he knew in the April timeframe.

MCINTYRE: Well that sounds like lying?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And the Army will look at that and will make a determination. MCINTYRE: The fate of the four generals and five lower ranking officers now rests in the hands of a four-star general who will decide what punishment, if any, is warranted.

Tillman's family will keep his posthumous silver star, but the accompanying citation will be changed to reflect something that's been missing for nearly three years, the truth.

Jamie McIntyre, CNN, the Pentagon.


COOPER: It sure does sound like a lie. For Pat Tillman's family the story is not over. A short time ago they released this statement. "The briefing we just received was unsatisfactory," they said. "The characterization of criminal negligence, professional misconduct, battlefield incompetence, concealment and destruction of evidence, deliberate deception and conspiracy to deceive are not missteps. These actions are malfeasance." Their battle continues.

Up next, the sole survivor of the Heaven's Gate cult suicide.

And later, this...


COOPER (voice-over): Military deserter. They witnessed the war and decided never to go back.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What drew the line for me was one mission in particular where I had witnessed some innocent civilian shot in front of me.

COOPER: Now they can't go home, but there is one town that's welcoming deserters with open arms. We'll take you there.

Also, Simon says.

SIMON COWELL, "AMERICAN IDOL": I was once offered money to judge somebody in bed, yes, a couple.

COOPER: They wanted you to watch them in bed?


COOPER: And critique them?


COOPER: Find out what Simon Cowell ended up doing and how a man who can barely carry a tune has become one of today's most successful music executives, ahead on 360.


(COMMERCIAL BREAK) COOPER (on camera): It is hard to forget those images -- the Nike sneakers, the purple shrouds over the faces.

We first learned of Heaven's Gate 10 years ago today. Do you remember that? Thirty-nine members of the cult committed suicide in the belief that their souls would travel on a spaceship to what they described as the level above human. It remains the largest mass suicide in American history. There was, however, one survivor. And to this day, he is still a true believer.

CNN's Dan Simon reports.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. I need to report an anonymous tip. Who did I talk to?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. This is regarding what?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is regarding a mass suicide. And I can give you the address.

DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The address seemed the unlikeliest of places, a mansion in a quiet, affluent suburb of San Diego.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have a gagging reflex, the smell. So I wanted to take care of that. So I put cologne on my shirt and put my shirt over my nose.

SIMON: Rio DeAngelo (ph) was the first one to discover the bodies and called 911. Twenty-one women and 18 men had taken their own lives.

SIMON (on camera): It must have been a lot to take in?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was a lot to take in. It was disturbing because I'm yelling for people to see if they're still alive and I'm also saying good-bye as I walked through.

SIMON (voice-over): It may have been a shock, but DiAngelo had an idea of what to expect. He had been one of them. In his earlier life, Rio DiAngelo had been Richard Ford. After going through a divorce he felt lost and was looking for a spiritual path.

DIANGELO: They intrigued me in a way that was like nothing else.

SIMON: They called themselves Heaven's Gate, a cult started in the '70s by a man named Marshall Applewhite, who later called himself Do.

MARSHALL APPLEWHITE, HEAVEN'S GATE LEADER: Let me say that our mission here at this time is about to come to a close. SIMON: Do told his followers the Earth is simply a garden to grow souls. And he could teach them how by following his strict regimen. All aspects of life were regulated, including what books they could read and what TV shows they could watch.

Once the soul is developed, it's time to exit. To outsiders, that meant committing suicide. But to them, it meant moving on to a more developed kingdom, a spaceship or UFO, he told the group, would pick up their souls and take them to again their new lives. This is what their new life form would resemble.

APPLEWHITE: It is suicide to not leave. It is to take life to leave this body behind.

SIMON: DiAngelo bought into the man and his teachings. But after three years, he felt something pull him away. He felt there were more things he needed to accomplish. He now believes it was to share his experiences with Heaven's Gate and let people know the truth about its leader.

DIANGELO: I can say, with absolute undeniable certainty that Do was a second coming of Jesus and I know it's true.

SIMON: Do instructed the group to look for a sign. It came to them in the night sky. 1997 was the year the Hale-Bopp comet. In late March of that year as the comment grew brighter, Do became convinced the comet was the sign to shed their bodies and exit Earth. Members taped farewell messages. No one appeared the least apprehensive.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is -- I mean, this is the answer to everything.

SIMON: For them, "exiting their vehicles," as they called it, meant graduation. They bought graduation outfits, black pants and shirts. Each adorned with a Heaven's Gate patch.

(on camera): So how do 39 people kill themselves? Well, they created a poison using pudding and applesauce, they laced it with vodka and a drug called phenobarbital, a barbiturate fatal in large doses. They took the poison in shifts and went to sleep, never to wake up.

(voice-over): The next day Rio DiAngelo received a FedEx package with videotapes and a letter saying, quote: "You should be aware that we have exited our vehicles just as we entered them."

(on camera): Did you think they would have the nerve or the guts to go through with it?

DIANGELO: I knew that they would do what they fell was best for them and that's what they did.

SIMON (voice-over): DiAngelo thought authorities should be notified, but first he needed to confirmation. He drove to the mansion from where he was living in Los Angeles. A back door had purposely been left unlocked.

DIANGELO: So I walk up into the living area -- the living room, and that's when I start to notice the mattresses with people lying on them with the purple shroud and, of course, I knew from the odor what was happening.

SIMON: DiAngelo filmed what he saw. The uniformity, eerie and striking. They were all in identical positions, face-up, on a mattress. Everyone wearing their black outfit, Nike shoes. And most covered with purple shrouds. In the master bedroom alone, there was Do, the leader. The story became a media firestorm. Rio DiAngelo became famous, appearing on the cover of Newsweek.

A decade later he's still a believer even though Heaven's Gate is no longer around. He says his friends' deaths were not suicides, because their souls live on at the next level. He understands what they did but has no plans to take his own life.

DIANGELO: They all knew what they were doing. They all felt very happy about what they did. And they knew where they were going and they knew who their guide and teacher was.

SIMON: Dan Simon, CNN, Los Angeles.


COOPER: Well, there's really no telling how many cults there are were in America today. They're different in many ways. But in controlling people's lives they follow a very similar and tragic pattern. Steven Alan Hassan is a cult counselor and mind control expert. He helps families rescue loved ones trapped in a world they cannot get out of. I spoke to him earlier.


COOPER: Steve if what makes a cull a cult is the element of mind control, it's interesting that this guy DiAngelo 10 years after Heaven's Gate, most of the members committed suicide, he still appears to be a true believer.

STEVEN ALAN HASSAN, CULT COUNSELOR, MIND CONTROL EXPERT: Yes, I've experienced in the 30 years that I've been counseling people involved with destructive cults that the dissociative disorder that is created by mind control can last for decades after. And I just hope that this gentleman gets some counseling.

COOPER: What do you think appeal of Heaven's Gate was?

HASSAN: I think there was a lot of deep UFO-ology that was appealed to, the people who grew up on "Star Trek," for example. My understanding is that Bonnie Nettles and Herff Applewhite were very hypnotic personalities, if you saw the exit video that Applewhite left, he was calling himself Do. He had those very wide saucer eyes and was talking about how the world was going to be destroyed and everyone needed to be evacuated. But I'd say my experience is that many intelligent, educated people are recruited into a wide variety of different cults, Heaven's Gate was definitely one of the more fringe type appeal groups.

COOPER: Yes. Who is the sort of the perfect candidate for a cult?

HASSAN: Someone who is going through a transitional period in their life, death of a loved one, major illness, divorce, moving away to a new city, state or country. Someone who is off-balance, someone who is ignorant about manipulation and deception and mind control techniques. But also someone who is very smart, very achieving, wanting to make themselves better, or wanting to make the world better, or wanting to develop themselves spiritually, but basically not high on street smarts, Anderson.

COOPER: Does it require a charismatic leader?

HASSAN: A lot of destructive cults have a charismatic figure at the top, but not all destructive cults have that feature. They may be an ideological cult, for example. But the key point is what I refer to as by control of behavior, control of information, control of thoughts and control of emotions.

So if anyone find themselves involved with a group where they're being told they shouldn't talk to ex-members or they shouldn't talk to critics or they shouldn't talk to cult experts or they're being told not talk to family members and friends who are raising questions or they can't take some time away to have a vacation and reflect on things, it should raise red flags.

COOPER: It's interesting, though, because, I mean, you look at a Heaven's Gate and you know, these are, you know, I guess, intelligent people. I mean, they're people who, you know have jobs, have families, have -- are clearly interested, you know, surf the Web or work as Web designers. It's interesting that they can allow themselves or choose to enter into this kind of thing.

HASSAN: Well, I beg to differ on the point about choosing because I believe there needs to be informed consent in order to have a real choice. And I believe that what these groups are doing is a variety of deception, as well as manipulation and influence processes.

COOPER: It's a fascinating subject. Steve, appreciate you coming on. Thanks so much.

HASSAN: My pleasure.


COOPER: Just ahead tonight on 360, a haven for war deserters just north of the border. Hundreds of Americans call it home, including young soldiers who fled from the war in Iraq.

Plus, you've heard from Simon Cowell tonight. Now you'll hear from his competition. A contest for jailhouse rockers. We'll show you how the contestants handle the judges' feedback next on "360."


COOPER: We all know the stories about Vietnam War-era deserters who fled to Canada. But less well-known are the members of today's armed forces who are refusing to serve in Iraq. Many have fled to the same town in Canada where they're being welcomed with open arms.

CNN's Thelma Gutierrez reports.


THELMA GUTIERREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Nestled in the shadow of the Selkirk Mountains is the town of Nelson British Columbia. You could call it a peace town, a region hundreds of American expatriates call home.

(on camera): Nelson is a town of 9,200 people, some residents claim per capita, there are more U.S. war resisters living in this area than in other city in Canada.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A lot of the guys I know have really never been public with it.

GUTIERREZ: Why is that?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I just think they just want to live their lives and forget about it, really.

KYLE SNYDER, ARMY DESERTER: I joined when I was 19...

GUTIERREZ (on camera): Many war veterans have fled to Nelson to get away from it all, men like 59-year-old Doug Stamp (ph), a Vietnam vet, and 23-year-old Kyle Snyder, who are fought in Iraq and deserted. It's a world away from the wars they're trying to forget.

SNYDER: I sat back, I put my weapon down beside me, and then, ba, ba, ba, ba, ba, real quick, very, very loud, I could just remember the look on the man's face.

GUTIERREZ: Snyder grew up in foster care, moving from home to home in Colorado. He says he joined the Army when he was 19 for health benefits and college money, then went to Iraq.

SNYDER: I was a .50 cal. machine gunner and I was an escort for very high-ranking officials. What drew the line for me was one mission in particular where I had witnessed an innocent civilian shot in front of me.

GUTIERREZ: Shot by a U.S. soldier, he claims. Snyder says he filed a formal complaint. He says no disciplinary action was taken. The Army concluded the shooting was justified because the soldier felt threatened.

SNYDER: I was first angry at that. And then I became angry at the fact that there was no repercussion. This -- there was nothing done to prevent this from happening again.

GUTIERREZ: Snyder was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. He says he was granted leave while serving in Mosul, Iraq, but he deserted and fled straight to Canada.

SNYDER: I made my decision off of the things that I personally witnessed in Iraq. I didn't just wake up one morning and say, I'm going to leave my country, I'm going to leave my friends behind, I'm going to leave everything that I know and everything that I love and built my entire life on, nobody does that.

GUTIERREZ: In Nelson, Snyder learned he wasn't alone. Artist Ernest Heckanen (ph) came to Nelson from Washington State in the '60s to avoid serving in Vietnam. Teacher Irene Mauch (ph) from New York followed her boyfriend here when she was 21. Ryan Johnson volunteers with the War Resisters Campaign in Canada, a group that helps resisters settle in Canada and gain required refugee status and work permits.

He came from a farm community in central California and says he went AWOL just five hours before he was supposed to deploy to Iraq.

RYAN JOHNSON, ARMY JOHNSON: My family has a strong military background, so that part of the family doesn't agree with my decision to come here and haven't spoken to me since I've been to Canada.

GUTIERREZ: But in Nelson, these expatriates say they feel welcome.

SNYDER: I can walk around shops here and, you know, I see "war resisters welcome here" signs. I see community getting involved and getting together. High schoolers come up and say, what can I do to support the anti-war movement?

GUTIERREZ: All part of a long relationship going back to the 1800s.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The entire fabric of who we are as a community is about peace.

GUTIERREZ: From Russian pacifists to anti-war Quakers who settled the valley, to draft dodgers during the Vietnam era, and now Americans fleeing the Iraq War.

SNYDER: I saw an innocent man that was shot.

ISAAC ROMANO, CANADIAN WAR RESISTERS CAMPAIGN: The opportunity for Vietnam veterans and current deserters and war resisters to begin to share their stories, I think, is really critical. I think that there's some opportunity with these stories to help Americans really reflect on both wars.

GUTIERREZ: Kyle says, leaving Iraq was the hardest thing he has ever done. He has been called a traitor, he's wanted on desertion charges, and he can no longer go home. But like other war opponents here, Kyle says, for now, this is home. Thelma Gutierrez, CNN, Nelson, British Columbia.


COOPER: Well, more than 5,000 soldiers have deserted the Army in the past two years. Here's the raw data. According to new revised figures from the Army, close to 3,200 active duty soldiers deserted last year, that is up from more than 2,500 in 2005. The numbers, however, pale in comparison with the more than 33,000 soldiers who deserted the Army in 1971 during the Vietnam War.

Coming up next on 360, Simon says, "American Idol's" judge and co-creator tells us why he's worth more than Bruce Springsteen. Also tonight, "Inmate Idle," the jailbirds have -- well, they have finished singing. We have the winner of this captive contest when "360" continues.


COOPER: Well, Vietnam is now the latest country to buy the rights to the "Idol" franchise. The show is going to be titled "Vietnam Idol," of course, and it is going to make Simon Cowell even richer. In front of the camera, Simon is the judge who once called a contestant "the worst singer in the world." When I interviewed him for "60 Minutes," however, I learned a few new things about him, including one performance he wished he had judged. Listen.


COOPER (voice-over): Cowell has gotten used to private planes and constant attention. Wherever he goes he attracts a crowd. And apparently it's not just singers who want Cowell's critique.

(on camera): I read some story that people come up to you and ask you to criticize them.

SIMON COWELL, CREATOR & JUDGE, "AMERICAN IDOL": I was once offered money to judge somebody in bed, yes, a couple.

COOPER: They wanted you to watch them in bed?


COOPER: And critique them?


COOPER: While they were making love?

COWELL: Yes. And I stupidly turned it down.


COOPER: How much was the offer?

COWELL: About a hundred grand. And I should have taken the money, because it would be a much more interesting story now, other than, I didn't.


COOPER: Well, this may be a surprise to Simon, but a new "Idle" contestant was just declared a winner, win or lose, the singers all share one thing in common, a jail cell.

CNN's Gary Tuchman reports.


GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Talk about a captive audience. This jailhouse, or jail yard, to be precise, and "American Idol"-type competition to help increase inmate self-esteem. This contest at the Maricopa County, Arizona, lockup is billed as "Inmate Idle," spelled I-D-L-E.

Six inmates in the finals, their musical choices running the gamut, the inmates singing like canaries. "Friends in Low Places," sung by a man with a sense of irony, Gary Fisher (ph), behind bars for auto theft and aggravated DUI. The judges, an Elvis impersonator, the real rock legend Alice Cooper, and the country sheriff, Joe Arpaio


TUCHMAN: The contestants work their fellow inmates into a frenzy because the winner's jail section would share the first prize. More on that shortly after we show you the man who won. Corey Brothers, serving time for violating probation. His version of "My Girl" brought down the house.

ALICE COOPER, MUSICIAN: And I'm from Detroit, you know? So that's Motown. I know my Motown.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Your winner, Mr. Corey.

TUCHMAN: The 36-year-old is the "Inmate Idle." He went back inside to get ready to share first prize with his section.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let me get the cuffs off him so we can (INAUDIBLE).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The winner of the very first pioneering, groundbreaking, "Inmate Idle," contestant winner, Corey Brothers.

TUCHMAN: The prize...


TUCHMAN: ... food from Pizza Hut and McDonald's.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, man, it's wonderful. It's actually warm.

TUCHMAN: Corey Brothers is the jail hero. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm proud to be a part of it. Everybody that participated, thanks for your support, for the final six, we all won.

TUCHMAN: A rather modest "Inmate Idle."

Gary Tuchman, CNN, Atlanta.


COOPER: See how Simon would judge some of those performances. Simon Cowell is very much "On the Radar" tonight, getting a ton of responses on the blog.

Debbie in Denham Springs, Louisiana, writes: "How can you be anything but honest in the industry? If you don't have talent, you need to know, isn't that why you're there?"

Manu in New York put it plainly: "Don't like him. Won't like him. Ever."

And Kelly in Toronto writes: "'American Idol' is my second- favorite show, my first is AC360, of course.

Aw, Kelly, thanks.

And if you've got something to say, good, bad, or otherwise, just head over to blog, goodness, and let us have it.

Up next on 360, we're going to take a walk down the virtual red carpet for the first annual YouTube Awards. The winners and losers, next.


COOPER: Erica Hill joins us with a 360 bulletin -- Erica.

HILL: Anderson, it's being hailed a new era of politics in Northern Ireland, the major Protestant and Catholic parties have reached a deal to form a power-sharing government to end three decades of sectarian conflict. Today's breakthrough followed the first face- to-face talks between the Protestant Unionist Party, and Catholic Sinn Fein. British Prime Minister Tony Blair praised the meeting as a very important day for the people of Northern Ireland.

Police are now investigating the deaths of five people found in a home just outside of Washington, D.C. Police in Frederick, Maryland, found four children and one man dead inside the home this afternoon. The man is believed to be the children's father. Police are now looking for the mother.

Capitol Police say an aide to Senator Jim Webb is facing charges now for entering a Senate office building with a loaded pistol -- Webb's pistol. The Virginia Democrat's office is calling the incident an oversight and says the aide is a former Marine and a trusted employee of the senator. And, the envelope please, perhaps a little drum roll, the first ever YouTube Awards presented today. Among the winners, the video series "Ask a Ninja" and OK Go's treadmill choreographed music video. I love that one personally. And just like the Oscars, there was an upset, Anderson. YouTube star lonelygirl did not win.


HILL: Well, I mean it was kind of a sham. She wasn't really lonelygirl, remember?

COOPER: I don't remember.

HILL: Well, she did this whole thing where she was lonelygirl I think on like a MySpace page or something and then it got put on YouTube. And everyone thought she was this girl who had no friends. But it was just an excuse...

COOPER: Huh? Wait, I fell asleep. I fell asleep like a minute ago.


HILL: So the treadmill video, that was really cool. Yes.

COOPER: Yes. OK. No, it was.

HILL: I tried it at the gym and I fell.


COOPER: Erica, thanks.

HILL: See you later.

COOPER: Tomorrow -- she's a good sport. Tomorrow on "AMERICAN MORNING," spring is in the air, literally.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The stuffy head, get a headache. The runny nose, the itchy eyes, they just swell up.


COOPER: Ah yes, so how do you know whether you're are dealing with a cold or allergies? That is a good question. I've got a little cold right now. Find out tomorrow on "AMERICAN MORNING" beginning at 6:00 a.m.

And we want you to help us "Keep Them Honest." If there is a wrong that needs to be made right in your community, go online, tell us about it,