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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees
Hostage Hero Home; "Torture Memo" Backlash; Bullying and Suicide; Twitter Showdown
Aired April 17, 2009 - 23:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Tonight breaking news: from pirate hostage to chicken pot pie. Captain Richard Phillips is home. He stepped off a plane in Burlington, Vermont; a returning hero and a humble one.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CAPT. RICHARD PHILLIPS, RESCUED FROM PIRATES: I'm a just bit part in this story. I'm a small part. I'm a seaman doing the best he can like all the other seamen out there.
The first of the people I want to thank are the SEALs. They're the superheroes, they're the titans. They're impossible men doing an impossible job. And they did the impossible with me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Impossible meaning three shots from the deck of a Navy destroyer, three pirates through a window and a lifeboat bobbing on the waves. Three shots making it possible for Captain Phillips to walk off that plane into the arms of his family then on to a reunion dinner and his favorite dish, as we mentioned, chicken pot pie.
Tonight he'll sleep in his own bed in Underhill, Vermont. Deb Feyerick joins us now with the latest from the Captain's hometown -- Deborah.
DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, there Anderson, you know when you saw the family running across the tarmac and up into that plane, you've really got a sense of just how excited they were. They couldn't wait any longer for him to get off of the plane.
But when he did, he had a smile on his face. He's just a little confused when seeing all that media there just waiting for him. There were some people who came out, applause went up, a handful, he smiled, he thanked them. And then after a few private moments, he came out and spoke to us.
PHILLIPS: I just have a few things to say. I don't have much. I just want to thank you for your prayers and support, my family while I was gone. I really appreciate that. I wasn't here to do it.
If you see the military, you thank them for me.
If you're in the airport or having -- a restaurant, down the street, thank them. They're doing an impossible job. I would not be here without them. I'm not a hero. It just -- it just floors me about the -- everything I've read and shown, the support that you've done.
Also, I want to thank my crew. We did it. I told you it wasn't going to be if, it's going to be when. And we did what we trained to do. We're just seamen. We do the best with what we've got. And my crew did an excellent job. And I'm so proud of them that they're all home, and they are with their loved ones.
I'm not the hero. The military is the hero. Thank them. Thank you.
Indescribable. Indescribable. Once again, I'm not a hero, the military is. Thank them whenever you see them. The military did it. Thank you. God bless America.
FEYERICK: Now, Anderson, you can see he really didn't talk a lot about his ordeal at sea in the lifeboat there. He was there for five days with four pirates. And then one of those pirates gave up to the Navy. And so when the Navy SEALs came, they fired three shots, took out those other three pirates.
He did appear to have some marks on his wrist. Remember, when the Navy SEALs found him, he was tied up. He had attempted to escape, but then the pirates got him back on board that ship.
But still, he came home a hero, took no credit for it, and now he's just enjoying a quiet evening in this quiet village of Vermont -- Anderson.
COOPER: Yes, it's got to be quite a change from what he has experienced over the last week or so. Amazing.
A quick "360 Follow" now on the one pirate who surrendered. As Deborah mentioned, no one is welcoming him home not yet and maybe not ever. He's being held aboard a Navy tender awaiting transfer initially to an American base in the area where he'll later be handed over to the Justice Department and will likely stand trial right here in New York City.
And our rejoicing over Captain Phillips and the others rescued, it's important to remember right now back in Somalia, pirates continue to hold more than 200 other people captive. Not only that, they're also vowing revenge on the United States.
David McKenzie has more on that angle from Mombasa, Kenya -- David.
DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Anderson. Off the coast of Somalia right now, there are about a dozen ships off the Coast of Somalia with more than 200 people held hostage. While the story of Captain Phillips and his heroic crew was a good one and it ended well for everyone concerned except, obviously, the pirates, the situation for those seamen right now tonight off this coastline is very serious.
Those ships are being taken. And in just this week, even after the actions of those Navy Seals, four ships have been taken off the Coast of Somalia. And off the Coast of Yemen, there were two ships that were cargo carriers and two fishing ships.
So people who understand the issue of piracy and who track this Anderson, know that though the French and American navies have taken a more aggressive stance, it's unlikely just because of the sheer amount of money pirates can make, that they will stop taking on ships any time soon -- Anderson.
COOPER: So are the French and American navies still out there in those waters to protect ships? Or did they -- did they -- there were three U.S. ships at one point. Are they still there?
MCKENZIE: There are plenty of ships out there, Anderson. And yes, the French and American Navy are still there. It wasn't just the Bainbridge and some of the other ships we talked about in the story that are there from the American Navy. It's called CTF-150; it's the task force that was specially set up to fight piracy. It's based in Bahrain in the Middle East and they have a rotating head of that task force and it's a multi-national coalition, a true coalition.
And so basically those ships are patrolling all the time. They have a couple issues that work against them. One is the size of that stretch of ocean over 300 square -- well, it's massive, basically. The Coast of Somalia stretches all the way up from Kenya and across down past Yemen and into the Middle East.
So in the Gulf of Aden, they've managed to stop some of those piracy attacks. But when they concentrate on that area, Anderson, the ships and the pirates just move to a different area. So it's like a cat and mouse game out at sea.
So the difficulty is with those navies still there, they might occasionally come across a ship that's being attacked. But generally what happens is they're so far away from that ship when it's being attacked, even if a distress signal comes up, there's nothing really they can do in the short term.
And the general policy is once a cargo ship is taken by pirates, it is more than four or five pirates only. It's a whole host of them on those ships. The navies won't go after those pirates. Because it's just too dangerous, they might harm the hostages.
COOPER: Yes, well no doubt, we'll be continuing to cover this in the weeks ahead.
David McKenzie reporting for us in the middle of the night from Mombasa, Kenya. David thank you. Let us know what you think of the pirate threat and what American forces are doing to meet it. Join the live chat happening now at AC360.com. I'm about to join on myself and check out Erica Hill's live Web cast during the breaks tonight.
We have more breaking news tonight. Though, we are live with President Obama at a summit where nearly a decade-long chill between the U.S. and Cuba could finally be unfreezing. And we'll show you a photo from the summit that is raising some eyebrows tonight: the President meeting Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez.
Also ahead tonight, see how the country stops for a moment to remember a young man with so much to look forward to. This 11-year-old boy, a victim of bullying. Kids called him gay. He hung himself. Today would have been his 12th birthday. What can be done to make sure that other kids don't end up the same way? His mom joins us live.
Then Melissa Huckaby, there she is right there, accused of brutalizing and murdering little Sandra Cantu. Tonight, hear what her ex-husband says about her state of mind.
COOPER: More breaking news tonight from President Obama's current trip to Latin America. Including a photo that is raising eyebrows tonight. It was just released a short time ago, President Obama shaking hands with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez who once called President Bush the devil. Mr. Obama promised to talk with America's adversaries and enemies. Now he is.
More on that shortly.
But that's not the only news coming out of this trip to the Summit of the Americas. Tonight, he may be on the verge of rewriting nearly 50 years of official U.S. policy toward Cuba.
President Obama says the U.S. seeks a new beginning with the communist island. He's already lifted travel restrictions for Cuban-Americans. He's prepared to hold open discussions with President Raul Castro.
Suzanne Malveaux is traveling with President and she joins us with the Breaking News from the Port of Spain, Trinidad. Suzanne, what message did President deliver directly to Cuba this evening?
SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, what he said was there's not going to be a junior partner and a senior partner. This is a time for reengaging Cuba as well as the rest of Latin America.
Simply saying that yes, he is going to take up the offer from Raul Castro for talks with that country, but they're not going to be unconditional, that it is not just about talking. He wants to see action when it comes to human rights and democracy. And this is just a little bit about what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm prepared to have my administration engage with the Cuban government on a wide range of issues: from drugs, migration and economic issues, to human rights, free speech and Democratic reform.
Now, let me be clear, I'm not interested in talking just for the sake of talking. But I do believe that we can move U.S.-Cuban relations in a new direction.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MALVEAUX: One of the things, Anderson, that really caught the White House's attention was when Castro actually said that we admit it -- that we've made mistakes. We've done some things wrong. We're just human beings.
We heard from Robert Gibbs, Press Secretary, saying, look, we want to know exactly what he means by that because this really is seen as an opening here possibly encouraging them for certain reforms, governmental reforms and that is something that they believe could be -- could be a beginning, Anderson.
COOPER: Suzanne, I want to just show our viewers again this photo that was released a short time ago, President Obama meeting with Hugo Chavez, shaking hands there, both seem to be smiling. What do we know about this? What exactly went on?
MALVEAUX: Well, we've been talking to Venezuelan and White House officials about this. And what we're told is that this was kind of a meet and greet through a line when President Obama walked over to Chavez personally to go over and to offer his hand, to shake his hand.
Then we're told by Venezuelan officials, the White House officials dispute is this, Chavez says with this same hand, I greeted President Bush. And then he says, I want to be your friend. Really kind of extraordinary when you think about it.
We are told that Obama thanked him and then walked away here. Obviously, a warm greeting between these two and this is from a man who essentially said that President Bush was the devil.
So obviously White House officials are looking at this. Venezuelan officials as well, releasing that photo, thinking at least this is a good beginning, a good start, but it's far from certain whether or not he's going to back it up with some actions, but certainly as a significant symbolic gesture -- Anderson.
COOPER: Well, interesting Suzanne Malveaux I appreciate it.
Tonight, we're going to take a serious look at bullying. Take a look at this little boy, Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover, he was taunted, to a tragic end, called gay and called feminine by kids at his school. We're going to talk with Carl's mom coming up.
And people are asking was President Obama right to release memos detailing former U.S. torture techniques? Now, some say those details should have been kept secret. Others disagree. We'll let you decide and we'll give you the facts.
And a story a lot of people still talking about, Susan Boyle singing long before she became a star. Will she soon record an album of her own? We've actually got one of her older recordings long before this hit.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SUSAN BOYLE, "BRITAIN'S GOT TALENT" CONTESTANT: How the tigers come at night.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, backlash tonight: new pushback to President Obama's release of legal memos from the Bush Justice Department. In almost clinical and often legally hair-splitting detail, they layout practices like water boarding, how to do it, how long U.S. officials could do it and what else they could do instead of or in addition to it, and yet still according to the lawyers fall within legal good graces.
Now, some of the other tactics approved include, depriving someone of asleep for days on end, also putting a prisoner in a tiny box and terrorizing him with insects. That's a variation by the way of how Winston Smith was torturing in George Orwell's "1984" they used rats though.
Those who wanted to keep the memo secret have a variety of reasons.
Tom Foreman has got their arguments and the other side so you can make up your own mind. That in the "Raw Politics."
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The release of the details on how top terror suspects were pressured by interrogators and which techniques are now forbidden is provoking sharp reactions from some in the intelligence community.
In "The Wall Street Journal," former CIA Director Michael Hayden and former Attorney General Michael Mukasey say, "Fully half of the government's knowledge about the structure and activities of Al Qaeda came from those interrogations. Terrorists are now aware of the absolute limit of what the U.S. government could do to extract information from them."
President Bush's Homeland Security Adviser, now CNN consultant, Fran Townsend.
FRAN TOWNSEND, FORMER PRESIDENT BUSH HOMELAND SECURITY ADVISER: To release them and to subject these people, these career professionals, to sort of public humiliation in a program and then the potential of a congressional investigation really will make our intelligence community risk averse. FOREMAN: But longstanding critics of tactics described in the memos, water boarding to create the sensation of drowning, sleep deprivation for up to 11 straight days, locking prisoners in cramped spaces, disagree.
Retired Army General James Cullen, now a human rights activist.
BRIG. GEN. JAMES P. CULLEN, HUMAN RIGHTS FIRST: I think that argument is really a lot of nonsense. Our enemies already know what the techniques are, because we have carried out these techniques on the enemy.
SEN.PATRICK LEAHY, (D) JUDICIARY COMMITTEE CHAIR.: How can anyone suggest...
FOREMAN: Just last month, the Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee laid the groundwork for rolling out the memo.
LEAHY: In order to restore our moral leadership, we must acknowledge what was done in our name.
FOREMAN: And even some who say intelligence work will suffer agree. David Rivkin served in the Bush administration and is now with the Counsel on Foreign Relations, a nonpartisan research group.
DAVID RIVKIN, BAKER HOSTETLER LAW FIRM: Enough criticism has been launched against the use of these techniques combined with a lot of misinformation about how they actually worked. Frankly continuing to use them was not a viable option.
FOREMAN: Still, the debate rages. Some saying, the President just went too far in exposing our intelligence-gathering techniques and others saying until someone is prosecuted, he did not go far enough.
Tom Foreman, CNN, Washington.
COOPER: One other point to consider, whether or not the enemy knew that the U.S. used these tactics. They date back to the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany, so there's nothing novel about them. President Obama says they won't be used anymore.
Let's talk more about this. Senior political analyst, David Gergen joins us now and Mark Danner, an author of Torture and Truth and contributor to The New York Review of Books.
Mark, in terms of what we now know about what went on over the last eight or so years under the Bush administration, there had been a lot of thought earlier that this was just the act of several kind of rogue officers or untrained people. That clearly is not the case, right?
MARK DANNER, AUTHOR, "TORTURE AND TRUTH": I think it's been clear for several years that this was the policy of the U.S. government. In the wake of Abu Ghraib in the spring of 2004, an enormous rush of memos came into public possession from the Department of Defense, Department of Justice and others that showed these things were contemplated at the highest levels of government and approved in the Department of Justice.
COOPER: And Mark is there any evidence that these methods actually worked? I mean, Dick Cheney says, without a doubt, they stopped attacks on the United States.
Other than him and a handful of other people, is there any actual evidence?
DANNER: I'd say the answer to that is no. There's no actual evidence in the public realm that they actually worked. We hear repeatedly officials who are associated with these techniques from the former vice President on down, making extravagant claims that they protected the country.
But when you ask them for evidence, they say, "I'm sorry, that's at a high level of classification." This allows them to argue repeatedly that these things were necessary. And further, that President Obama, in renouncing these techniques, has left the country vulnerable.
So this is very much a current political debate. It's not simply about what was done and what we've now renounced. It's about keeping the country safe right now. It's at the heart of our politics of national security.
COOPER: David, an op-ed in today's Wall Street Journal by a former CIA Director, Michael Hayden, and former Attorney General Michael Mukasey said, that the release of the opinions was quote, "unsound" and quote, "Its effect will be to invite the kind of institutional timidity and fear of incrimination that weakened intelligence gathering in the past and that we came sorely to regret on September 11th 2001."
Do you buy that?
DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: No, I don't and I don't think there's any evidence to support that. But Anderson, I want to say a couple of things. This was a very, very set of close calls for President Obama.
David Axelrod today said the President, is in the White House, a political adviser to the President, said it took President Obama about a month to sort this out. And he clearly had conflicting views.
So I think these are close calls. I think he felt, all evidence supports the idea, that he felt it was more important to publish than to not publish to help clear the United States' name, to help restore America's respect within the world.
At the same time, he made a very, very calibrated decision; we're not going to prosecute those people in the CIA who undertook this. And I think he showed some respect for the argument that Mr. Hayden and Mr. Mukasey made today in The Wall Street Journal.
That, in fact, there may have been some benefit to the United States from these interrogation techniques. And very importantly, when we sort of take this broad brush and sort of paint this as sort of villainous, that, in fact, the number of people who were interrogated with these harsh and, I think, torturous techniques was fairly limited.
It was of the thousands of people who were captured it was about some 30 or 35 whom these techniques were used. And they make the argument -- and I don't know why we should question them -- that about half of what we know about Al Qaeda came out of those interrogation techniques.
COOPER: Well, Mark, let me ask you about that. Because I think I've read a figure about 65,000 people were rounded up at one time or another in Iraq or in Afghanistan.
It seems that in the light of day, a lot of the people who were rounded up were just kind of -- there wasn't much investigation done. They were handed over by Northern Alliance troops or others in the case in Afghanistan. And a bunch of people ended up getting killed in U.S. custody.
Do we know how many people died in U.S. custody? I've read reports of more than 100 or about 100 or maybe about a quarter of those were being investigated as actual homicides.
DANNER: I think the rough figure is slightly more than 100 and 30, 29 or 30 were actually investigated as homicides. I think you're quite right, that the interrogation -- the general interrogation program after 9/11 was a complete disaster.
And it worked against what was supposed to be its ultimate goal, which is finding intelligence that would help protect the country.
I have to take strong issue with what David Gergen said a moment ago, that President Obama, in making public these documents, in some way nodded toward the argument that these techniques were helpful to national security.
I should point out that on his first full day in office he signed executive orders renouncing in the strongest terms the use of these techniques. He closed the black sites. He declared that he would close Guantanamo.
This is very odd behavior for a newly-elected President who is trying to protect the country and who believes that torture, according to David Gergen, is useful. He clearly doesn't believe that.
I understand that there were politics within the administration. Obviously the CIA now is his CIA. He can't go around denouncing it. Nonetheless, he made these memos public, and these memos confirm, in minute terms, what the International Committee of the Red Cross report told us when it was made public a couple of weeks ago.
American citizens can look at the memos. They can look at the ICRC report on the New York Review Web site. They can see for themselves what was done. This in effect, these memos came out of the Justice Department. They confirm, in detail, what exactly was done, the torture that was applied.
And I have to make one other point. David Gergen and I are both old enough to remember the Church Committee. What we have here is a haunting, in a sense, from the Church Committee. The Church Committee made deniability impossible. It made it necessary for the President actually to sign findings for covert action.
When President Bush came to the CIA after 9/11 and said we want to use these harsh techniques, the CIA, remembering the Church Committee of the '70s, said you know what? If you want us to do this, you're going to have to make it legal. We need a document that will show us it's legal.
And we are now at that point. We're looking at legal documents that purport to make what is plainly illegal legal. And they make -- supposedly make legal activities carried out over years...
DANNER: ...that plainly were illegal. And this is the new deniability, and something has to be done about it, I'm afraid.
COOPER: We're out of time, but I wanted David, the chance to respond -- David?
GERGEN: Well, I just want to say briefly, I think Mark Danner made a useful correction. I think I went too far in saying that somehow President Obama directly approved or said that yes, this was useful.
I do think, though, that when the former director of the CIA and the former head of the FBI say we got some helpful information out of this, it -- it underscores Obama's -- President Obama's restraint and how he has treated this. He's been very careful about it, and very importantly, he said we're not going to prosecute people who are going to -- who acted in the CIA according to these rules.
And I also think, Anderson, there's a temptation here to sort of lump Abu Ghraib, which was clear violations of the rules by a lot of other people with these more limited CIA techniques.
I just think that the conversations in this area have gotten so broad brush that it sort of paints a sort of villainous picture of the agency which I don't think -- I don't think is really fair to a lot of the people who were trying very hard, as Mark Danner himself said, to figure out what was legal in these very, very difficult circumstances.
DANNER: It's now -- I must say that what is described in these memos and in the Red Cross report is worse than Abu Ghraib because it was...
COOPER: And it does seem that there was movement between what happened in Bagram to then what happened at Abu Ghraib and also what happened at Guantanamo to Abu Ghraib. And they do seem to have some similarities, no?
DANNER: There's no question about that.
DANNER: We have a full record of it. People should read what was done.
DANNER: I think what was done in these reports as described was worse because high officials signed off on it.
COOPER: We've got to go. But Mark Danner has written extensively about this great article in The New York Review, books, you should read. David Gergen, thank you as well.
And also if you'd like to know more about Mark's take on what, if anything, the U.S. gained by these things like water boarding and the like, you can find it by going to AC360.com.
Up next, what would drive an 11-year-old boy to take his own life? This is his picture, Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover. His mom says he was bullied to death. His classmates taunted him, called him gay, said he was feminine.
Racial taunts are no longer accepted in schools in America, but why are taunts based on perceived sexual orientation? Carl would have turned 12 today. His mom is here tonight.
And new developments in the case of the woman accused of murdering 8- year-old Sandra Cantu. Melissa Huckaby's ex-husband is speaking out tonight about her state of mind.
And a twitter showdown we told you about last night. Tonight, who won, CNN versus Ashton Kutcher in the battle to reach a million twitter followers for charity?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ASHTON KUTCHER, ACTOR: There are a million people that need to be thanked for this and I am not one of them because I'm not following me. I'm following you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, a grief-stricken mother and many others across the nation today observed a day of silence, a day meant to call attention to lesbian and gay name-calling and harassment in schools.
The mother mourned her son, Carl Walker-Hoover, who would have turned 12 years old today had it not been for the constant teasing his family says he endured at his school in Springfield, Massachusetts; bullying with tragic consequences. Is there anything the school should have and could have done to stop the daily torments to protect him?
Randi Kaye talked to the Springfield School Board Chairman and to Carl's mom in this "Uncovering America" report.
RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): By all accounts Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover was a good kid. A boy scout who went to Church every Sunday with his mother and prayed every morning before school.
The sixth grader started at the New Leadership Charter School in Springfield, Massachusetts, last September where his mom says he was bullied daily.
SIRDEANER WALKER, CARL'S MOTHER: Some people may say he was flamboyant. He was very dramatic.
KAYE: Sirdeaner Walker says she never asked her son if he was gay, but she says students called him gay and feminine and told him, "You act gay." The school's Chairman of the Board.
Would that be tolerated at your school?
PETER DABOUL, SCHOOL CHAIRMAN: That's bullying, that's harassing. No.
KAYE (on camera): So how was it able to go on for eight months or so?
DABOUL: Well, unless you expel every student every time they do something wrong, it's a matter of working at it.
KAYE (voice over): The Chairman says parents and students sign a contract that prohibits abuse among students. But when Carl's mother says she told the principal her son was bullied in the bathroom...
WALKER: She said, we can't patrol the bathrooms.
KAYE (on camera): My question to you is, why not?
DABOUL: Could be a privacy issue. I really don't know.
KAYE (voice over): Eight months into the school year, the taunting finally became too much. Monday night last week while his mother cooked dinner downstairs, Carl wrapped an electrical cord around his neck upstairs.
When he didn't come down for dinner, his mother headed to his room. She found Carl in the landing outside his third floor bedroom. He had hanged himself. He was just 11.
(on camera) What happened? You called 911?
WALKER: We called 911. My daughter actually got me a knife, and I actually cut the extension cords myself to let him down. KAYE (voice over): Mrs. Walker says just hours before Carl took his life a female student had threatened to beat him up and kill him.
(on camera) The school's chairman told me administrators were well aware Carl was being bullied.
He says the sixth grader met with the school's psychologist almost every day but would not share any of the details of what was discussed because, he says, it was confidential.
The school is investigating if policy was followed. Do you feel the school did everything it could have done to protect this 11-year-old boy?
DABOUL: I'm not sitting here telling you we're perfect. As best I can tell right now, it looks as if we followed policy and procedure as we should have.
KAYE: So many of our viewers are asking, how could this happen? So how did this happen?
DABOUL: It's a tragedy with Carl because he was such a beautiful young kid. But how, why it happened, you know, I don't have an answer for that.
WALKER: I just wanted you to know...
KAYE: In this sympathy card from Carl's school, an apology from a student.
WALKER: I'm so sorry for making fun of Carl because he couldn't do push-ups.
CHILDREN: Happy birthday to you...
KAYE: Today would have been Carl's 12th birthday. On this national day of silence aimed at stopping anti-gay harassment in schools, a memorial for the boy with the big smile who wanted to be President so he could change the world.
Randi Kaye, CNN, Springfield, Massachusetts.
COOPER: We're joined now by Carl's mother, Sirdeaner Walker and Mel White, a minister who's gay and the founder of Soulforce.
Sirdeaner, you celebrated you're son's 12th birthday today. He died last week when he was just 11. How are you doing? How did you get through today?
WALKER: Well first of all, I have my strong faith in God that has supported me, my Church, my family, just the whole Springfield community. They've really supported myself and my children. And that's how we're holding up today.
COOPER: What do you want parents out there and kids out there who may tease others in school to know? I mean, what is your message to them?
WALKER: My first message to parents, they need to be fully engaged into their schools, into the learning process, their child's learning process. They need to be involved in PTOs. They need to go to the school functions that the schools have. They need to go to parent/teacher conferences.
COOPER: And you did all that, though. I mean you went...
WALKER: Yes, I did.
COOPER: ...everyone apparently in that school knew your name knew who you were, and yet...
WALKER: That's correct...
COOPER: ...your son was still teased.
WALKER: That's correct. When he first brought this to my attention, you know, I immediately contacted the school. And the school's response was that he had never told them about it.
So then I immediately told Carl that he needs to tell the school, you know, that this is happening, which he did. And then they wanted names. And at the time Carl was afraid to name the children because he said that they would call him a rat, a snitch or a tattletale.
And eventually if they were punished, then they would probably retaliate against him. So that's why he was afraid to do that.
COOPER: Sirdeaner, do you think if kids had been calling Carl racial epithets, racial slang, that they would have been punished more severely than, you know, calling him anti-gay rhetoric?
WALKER: I definitely think they would have been punished more severely. Unfortunately, the school is probably, I'd say, 90 percent African-American and mostly African-American students. So that wasn't something that, you know...
COOPER: Would have happened.
WALKER: ...would have been tolerated.
COOPER: Mel, you know, when you hear Carl's story, I mean, what goes through your mind?
MEL WHITE, FOUNDER OF SOULFORCE, INC.: Well, it makes me sick. We've buried so many young gay guys, they're seven times more likely to commit suicide or attempt it.
And kids who are in non-accepting homes are nine -- nine percent more, could kill themselves. And it's just -- I've buried so many of them Anderson, that I can't stand it.
WALKER: Could I say something, please?
COOPER: Sure, of course.
WALKER: First of all, you know, with all due respect, Carl was not gay. He didn't have any quote, unquote, "gay tendencies." He was just a young 11-year-old boy.
WALKER: Who was full of life, who loved life, who was the type of kid that would give his teacher a hug, you know, upon seeing her, greeting her in the morning.
So people -- other children took that as me being that, you know, he wasn't tough. But, you know, he was never, you know, he never expressed any kind of tendencies towards being gay towards me.
COOPER: And I mean, he was 11 years old.
WALKER: He was 11 years old.
WALKER: He was just in the beginning of his life. He was a boy scout. You know, he played in Christmas plays at our Church. He was very involved in the community.
COOPER: It's one of the things, Sirdeaner, that seems so disturbing about this is that whether it's accurate or not...
COOPER: ...just the perception of...
COOPER: ...somebody being, you know, too feminine or whatever it may be...
COOPER: ...is enough to have people use those terms.
WALKER: Well, the overall issue is the issue of safety because Carl was very concerned with a young girl that was in his class, and she was being teased because of her weight.
And he told me, he said, "Mommy, she's such a nice girl."
WALKER: "But they tease her every day because of her weight." So it was whatever the children would find to pick on you, whether you were too skinny or too big or if you acted gay or, you know, if whatever -- whatever it was that they could use to make you feel uncomfortable, that's what they would do.
COOPER: Yes, Mel, what do you think can be done? WHITE: Well, one of the things, we have to realize why the hostile climate for people who are perceived as gay or for people who are, that it's just not those kids who are bashing.
When you think about what religion is teaching now about homosexuality, when you hear the Pope say these gross things, intrinsically evil, objectively disordered, when you see Protestant leaders not ordaining and marrying, the word trickles down. It becomes fag when they get into school.
But what has to happen is the church needs to change and say God created you gay or God created you as a human being and loves you exactly as you are.
That message needs to come down from the church so that it'll filter down through congregations and the churches and to individual teachers and finally to the kids.
COOPER: Sirdeaner, what do you want people to know about your son, to remember about Carl?
WALKER: Carl was a wonderful boy. He was full of life. He loved life. He was looking forward to his birthday. He was looking forward to his summer camp that he went to that was sponsored by the black men of greater Springfield with the help of Springfield College.
I wanted to respond to what your guest had said. Everything starts at the home. Parents need to teach their children that it's not acceptable to call other children names whatever those names may be.
And when we talk about God, God is love. That's what God stands for. You know? We're supposed to be accepting of that person. Our neighbor. But, you know, if you don't, as a parent, teach your child to be accepting of people, then they can go into schools.
And if they're bigger -- my son was 5'1", he was about 90 pounds. He wasn't a very big kid, you know, and he always had a smile on his face. Every picture that you've seen of him, he's always smiling.
So he wasn't really kind of like a tough kid, even though he played football, he played basketball, and he played soccer. He was a fun- loving kid, like a jokester. But...
COOPER: Well, seeing you at the event today and celebrating his birthday, so many people, their thoughts and their prayers are with you and your family.
Sirdeaner Walker, we appreciate you being with us and Mel White as well.
I know you drove a long way just to be on the program tonight. We do appreciate that. Thank you very much.
Let us know what you think can be done about bullying. Join the live chat happening now at AC360.com. Check out Erica Hill's live Web cast during our breaks as well. Coming up on the program next, speaking out, the ex-husband of the woman accused of killing 8-year-old Sandra Cantu. Divorced from Melissa Huckaby, he's talking about her bouts of depression and her mental health.
And tonight, Susan Boyle is back and showing a whole new side of her, plus, a rare earlier recording and talk of a music deal, all coming up ahead.
ERICA HILL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And we begin with a major turnabout from the Bush administration. The EPA concluding greenhouse gases that cause global warming constitute a danger to public health. That finding could lead to new regulations.
Citigroup says it posted its first profit in more than a year. The announcement surprising Wall Street which had expected more sharp losses for the banking giant; the company reported a net income of $1.6 billion during the first quarter of this year.
The ex-husband of the woman accused of murdering 8-year-old Sandra Cantu says he was in shock and complete disbelief when he learned of the charges against his ex-wife, Melissa. John Huckaby though, told ABC's "Good Morning America" he thought she had psychological problems.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you believe that she struggled with emotional issues?
JOHN HUCKABY, ACCUSED KILLER'S EX-HUSBAND: I do believe the emotional issues came into play quite often in her lifetime.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What kind of mental -- emotional issues?
HUCKABY: She did suffer from depression. She did have issues with her self-persona, who she saw herself as.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HILL: And there's a brewing mystery in the world of college fund- raising. Nine schools have received gifts totaling more than $45 million, but it's not clear whether the gifts came from an individual or organization.
And all the schools have to agree not to try to seek out the donor's identity.
COOPER: Was it you?
HILL: I -- no comment.
COOPER: Yes. Coming up, Susan Boyle, a sudden superstar. You're going to see her like you've never seen her before at home and "Up Close." And plus, hear a performance from before she was famous.
And the great twitter showdown, Ashton Kutcher versus CNN. See how it all went down.
And later, a hero's emotional homecoming, Captain Phillips reunited with his family, speaking out for the first time. We'll be right back.
COOPER: While Susan Boyle continues to move up the YouTube hit meter since the video of her audition made it to the Internet, millions of people have watched it and the numbers keep going higher and higher.
Let's listen to some of the song that made her famous.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SUSAN BOYLE, "BRITAIN'S GOT TALENT" CONTESTANT: I was young and unafraid when dreams were made and used and wasted...
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Tonight, a new side of Ms. Boyle. She's cracking jokes, having some fun at her fame and seemingly embracing her newfound stardom. The latest on what she told us and what we've learned about her.
Atika Shubert reports.
ATIKA SHUBERT, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): It's been nearly a week since Susan Boyle took the world by storm. And this shy retiring woman has finally become comfortable in what is now a starring role.
Revealing this much of herself has always been difficult for Susan. In fact, this is my interview with her just yesterday.
BOYLE: Nothing personal. I'm not answering personal -- no personal things. I'm not going to answer that.
SHUBERT: Today, a complete 180. Susan's now opening up about her family and the inspiration of preparing.
(on camera) I mean, you come across very confident when you sing. You know? Do you think that's why you have that confidence? And that's why you have that confidence?
BOYLE: I guess -- I guess my parents. You know? With me. You know?
SHUBERT: Yes. It seems like that you have sort of joy of singing.
BOYLE: Of course. It's in the blood. It is in everybody's blood, the ability to make people happy. That sounds corny.
These are my sisters.
SHUBERT (voice over): She shows us family photos, she's kept buried beneath her fan mail and portraits painted by her late mother including one of herself as a baby.
BOYLE: It was some family, it was a nice family.
BOYLE: A warm and friendly family. I'm blessed to have a good family.
SHUBERT: But this woman who's never been kissed is revealing a bold and saucy side, funny and endearing.
BOYLE: And just down a little bit in the hill and by the river of -- you know? Stuff like that. I'm tickling on him -- and nobody -- my mouth is -- I'm sick -- what have you done to me, what have you done to me?
SHUBERT: What's been done? Susan Boyle has become a star and is now loving it.
Atika Shubert, CNN, Blackburn Village near Scotland.
COOPER: There you go.
Join the live chat happening now at AC360.com. And check out Erica Hill's live Web cast during our breaks tonight.
We challenged you to sign-up to CNN's Twitter accounts, Cnnbrk and beat Ashton Kutcher with one million followers. This is how it ended. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KUTCHER: Yes. Whoo
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Yes. We'll show you how the whole CNN-Kutcher showdown started and the fighting words that Ashton, I guess, had for me on Oprah today.
And at the top of the hour, Captain Richard Phillips amazing story of homecoming, after being rescued from pirates and what he had to say when he stepped off that plane.
COOPER: Well, it was almost -- almost too close to call or twitter for that matter by little more than a hair. Ashton Kutcher ding dong ditched us last night ringing up a victory in the Twitter battle of all time with a million hits from fellow twitters and Kutcher's win came just a half hour before we broke our own million hit threshold for CNN.
But there's much more to the story like how the effort could help slow the spread of a killer disease around the world. And Larry King's initial challenge to the now king of Twitter, "CNN will bury you."
Here's how Ashton explained his victory over CNN to Larry King.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KUTCHER: We now live in an age for media that a single voice can have as much power and relevance on the web, that is, as an entire media network. And I think that to me that was shocking.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Erica Hill joins us again with the "360 Follow."
HILL: It started innocently enough. Ashton Kutcher, star of "That '70s Show" "Punked" and of course husband to Demi noticed his Twitter following was huge, large enough to rival the number of followers for CNN's "Breaking News" Twitter feeds. That discovery led to this.
KUTCHER: If I beat the CNN to a million followers, I will literally go and ding dong ditch Ted Turner's house.
HILL: CNN doesn't take a challenge lying down, we called in the King.
LARRY KING, TWITTERING TITAN: Kutcher you're playing out of your field. You're in another time zone. This isn't going to work. CNN will bury you.
HILL: Soon, this was much more than a threat of ding dong ditch. It had become the great twitter battle.
And the payoff was more serious. If Kutcher won, he'd donate 10,000 mosquito nets to "Malaria No More." CNN pledged to match those 10,000 nets, no matter the outcome.
COOPER: We are like 14,000 away from winning this twitter thing to get a million; 14,000 people. We could do that in the next five minutes, can't we? Let's try it.
KUTCHER: Anderson Cooper was going off about how CNN has to win this thing and deploying the troops across television. So we decided to go it live on the Web.
HILL: Team A plus K that would be Kutcher's twitter handle, also sends some reinforcements out to pound the pavement.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALES: Hey CNN, hey Larry, we saw you got on twitter, too bad's Ashton's going to beat you... HILL: At 2:13 eastern Friday morning A plus K saw his one millionth followers sign on.
This being breaking news, Cnnbrk followers also got the message and hit the seven figure milestone ourselves a mere 29 minutes later. Also calls for celebration and maybe a friendly reminder to the man some have taken to calling the "King of Twitter."
JONATHAN KLEIN, PRESIDENT, CNN U.S.: There is only one King and that is Larry King weeknights at 9:00 on CNN.
HILL: And always on twitter, at kingsthings.
HILL: I have to say the other big winner out of all of this has really been Jack Gray.
HILL: Our own Jack Gray, who apparently has now gotten a marriage proposal out of twitter.
COOPER: Oh really?
HILL: He's following -- he's totally creeped up and Soleil Moon Frye good buddy of Ashton Kutcher...
HILL: ...apparently responded to one of his tweets.
HILL: The old Punky Brewster. If you don't remember her.
COOPER: The old Punky Brewter, she's not old.
HILL: Well, I meant that she was the former...
COOPER: Yes, I know, I know what's her name.
HILL: I'm sorry, yes.
COOPER: Can we see that -- the dancing video, I like the way we still use that dancing video.
HILL: Look. When I'm thinking of celebration...
COOPER: This is -- how old is this now?
HILL: This is what -- well, when you were at seven in the old studio.
COOPER: Right, yes, yes. I mean, this is ancient.
HILL: Impressive. COOPER: It's like four years ago.
HILL: I love it.
COOPER: It's never green though...
HILL: And it never gets old.
HILL: I do want to mention too really quickly...
HILL: ...that there is more information about malaria and how you can help with a good cause and celebrate everything that's been done to help with the mosquito nets. A lot of great things including a blog from Scott Casey, CEO of Malaria No More at AC360.com.
COOPER: Ok, AC360.com.
HILL: The only place to go.
COOPER: Hey, that does it for 360. Thanks for watching. Have a great weekend.
"LARRY KING" starts now. I'll see you Monday.