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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees
Did Harsh Interrogation Techniques Work?; Accused Craigslist Killer Charged
Aired April 21, 2009 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Tonight: The craigslist killer, is this him?
Take a look, Philip Markoff, 22, medical student with a bright future ahead of him, apparently, no shadows in his past. He was engaged to be married. That's him with his fiancee right there.
Did this seemingly solid citizen hire this woman, 26-year-old Julissa Brisman, a craigslist masseuse, then bludgeon and shoot her to death in a ritzy Boston hotel room?
Today, Philip Markoff was in court, where a judge said there is sufficient evidence to hold him with no bail, chilling evidence, according to the prosecution, of the online trail he left and the brutal tools he used.
Also today, the beginnings of a theory of the case, an alleged motive emerging -- that and some late new developments, a lot to cover, which is why Randi Kaye is in Boston tonight -- Randi.
RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good evening, Anderson.
I just got off the telephone with one of Philip Markoff's neighbors. He told me that, late this evening, some people some people were escorted inside the apartment that Philip Markoff shared with his fiancee in Quincy, Massachusetts, and they were escorted by at least half-a-dozen police officers.
At first, he thought maybe it was the fiancee herself, but now it's unclear. Now, this neighbor told me that -- that the people stayed for about 20 minutes. The officers stayed there. And, again, this is the apartment that they shared.
We don't know why people would be there. We don't know what police may have been looking for. But this is how it's been all day, bits of information coming to us here in Boston, as we try to learn more about Philip Markoff.
KAYE (voice-over): At 22, Philip Markoff seemed to be on the right path. Tall and wholesome-looking, the aspiring doctor with the boyish grin was in medical school and engaged to be married.
Patrick Sullivan lives upstairs from Markoff in Quincy, Massachusetts. PATRICK SULLIVAN, NEIGHBOR OF PHILIP MARKOFF: My girlfriend actually rode the elevator a lot with him alone, which is kind of freaking her out now, because she thought he was kind of the all- American good-looking guy.
When she saw him on TV yesterday, she even remarked: "I can't believe it's him. I always thought he had such a great smile. And he was so nice to me."
KAYE: Sullivan says he never met Markoff's fiancee. The couple's wedding Web site says they met in an emergency room in Albany, New York, where Markoff attended Sunni college, and that he proposed to Megan McAllister during a horse-and-carriage ride.
Sounds romantic, but investigators say Markoff is a predator, leading a double life, studying medicine by day, attacking vulnerable women at gunpoint by night, women he allegedly met answering ads for erotic services on the classifieds Web site craigslist.
Markoff is charged with murder in one attack, kidnapping and armed robbery in another. In court today, Markoff was silent, but his lawyer told the Associated Press he's not guilty -- also in court, new details about the moments before the murder of Julissa Brisman.
JENNIFER HICKMAN, SUFFOLK COUNTY ASSISTANT DISTRICT ATTORNEY: This is the defendant, who on February -- April 14, 2009, bashed in the head of Julissa Brisman and shot her three times at close range.
KAYE: Markoff's own alleged online adventures may be what tripped him up. This surveillance tape from inside two Boston hotels was key.
But the real goods, detectives say, Markoff's own e-mail account, which he used to e-mail the murder victim. He had opened it the day before her killing.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They identified his Internet provider's address at that Quincy location where he lives. That linked him to that location. They began to put the house under surveillance. They see Philip Markoff. He matches the description quite remarkably.
KAYE: Police say a search of Markoff's apartment turned up a gun, restraints, and duct tape.
(on camera): Here on the campus of B.U.'s medical school, where Markoff was in his second year, a lot of students are wondering why someone who was training to save lives allegedly would have taken one.
JOHN TUCKER, STUDENT, BOSTON UNIVERSITY: This guy, like, on paper looks, sounds a lot like, you know, a lot of the people walking around the halls here. So, yes, I was pretty creeped out.
KAYE (voice-over): Via e-mail, Markoff's fiancee told ABC News, police have the wrong man. "Philip is a beautiful person inside and out and could not hurt a fly," and "they expect to share a wonderful, meaningful life together." For now, at least, that seems hard to imagine, with her fiance in shackles, answering to a murder charge.
COOPER: Randi, have you been able to get any information from officials on these early reports that -- that Markoff owed gambling debts and may even -- may even have been to the casinos around the time that one of the victims was murdered?
KAYE: Anderson, the district attorney won't even address the gambling question.
But his office has told CNN that, when Markoff was picked up, there was evidence to suggest he was heading to Foxwoods Casino in Connecticut. Also, ABC News is reporting tonight that Markoff gambled all night at that casino just two days after he allegedly murdered Julissa Brisman, and left that casino with more than $5,000 in winnings.
The network says he also gambled there after allegedly attacking the other woman at a Boston hotel, but, again, Anderson, no comment on the gambling from the district attorney.
COOPER: All right, allegations at this point.
Randi Kaye, appreciate it. Thanks.
We will have more throughout this hour, also more details online right now showing just how far Philip Markoff may have fallen, if the charges prove to be true. Go to AC360.com right now. You can see more of the Markoffs' wedding Web site, sweet when they launched it, bittersweet now, and downright chilling if Markoff, of course, turns out to be a murderer.
The story is giving a lot of new attention to craigslist, of course. Tens of millions of people use it, putting classified ads online. It's an online bulletin board that you can access from anywhere at any time.
Increasingly, though, authorities are treating craigslist as a kind of electronic crossroads for scams, illegal encounters and sometimes deadly violence.
Tonight, Erica Hill takes us -- shows us why in tonight's "Crime & Punishment" report.
ERICA HILL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Phil Markoff is only a suspect at this point. We don't know if he murdered the young woman he allegedly met on craigslist.
But a jury in Minnesota is certain Michael Anderson did, finding him guilty of killing Katherine Ann Olson after she answered his ad looking for a baby-sitter. GEORGE WEBER, RADIO NEWS ANCHOR: And I'm George Weber in the WABC newsroom.
HILL: And, in New York, radio news anchor George Weber was seeking a casual encounter on craigslist. Police say this teenager responded and stabbed Weber to death in his apartment. Police initially said the youth confessed to the attack, but he later pleaded not guilty.
Craigslist was started in 1995 as one man's hobby about happenings around town. Today, it's among the most popular Web sites on the Internet, with local classified in hundreds of cities around the world. It also boasts more than 50 million users each month, jobs, advice. And, yes, some even search for sex on craigslist. In fact, you can find just about anything here, including danger.
TRENCH REYNOLDS, EDITOR, CRAIGSCRIMELIST.ORG: There is a very good chance that you could end up either being robbed, assaulted, raped, or worse.
HILL: Blogger Trench Reynolds says he's monitored crimes on craigslist for years, and believes the site needs to do more to protect unsuspecting victims.
REYNOLDS: I have been being tracking these crimes since August of 2007, and -- and the amount of crimes that are going on, on craigslist is -- while it's not the majority of the users, I still think it's enough where it demands attention.
HILL: The sheriff of Cook County, Illinois, is suing craigslist for promoting prostitution.
THOMAS DART, COOK COUNTY, ILLINOIS, SHERIFF: Literally, since I became sheriff, we -- I have been fighting a battle with them. We, somewhat naively, I guess, at first, thought they were unaware of it and sent them letters, asking them to change.
KING: But the CEO of craigslist insists, criminal behavior is exceedingly rare, but also added this:
JIM BUCKMASTER, CEO, CRAIGSLIST: We're examining the way the site is set up, and see if there's some incremental new change that we can make that could make use of the site even safer for our users.
HILL: So, how can you be safe? Craigslist suggests the following tips when meeting someone for the first time: Insist on a public place, like a cafe. Tell a friend or family member where you're going. Take your cell phone, if you have one, and consider having a friend accompany you. Above all, trust your instincts.
Sound advice, but would it be enough to stop predators hunting for their prey?
Erica Hill, CNN, New York.
(END VIDEOTAPE) COOPER: Well, chances are, you or someone you know has logged on to craigslist to check the classified ads.
Here's some "Raw Data."
The site has posted -- postings where 570 cities, 50 countries around the world. More than 40 million new ads are posted each month, 40 million every month, for just about everything from jobs, housing, and, of course, erotic services.
Surprisingly, this big, popular business is actually run by a staff of just 28 people.
Well, let us know what you think of craigslist and the crime. Join the live chat happening now at AC360.com. Also, check out Erica Hill's live Webcasts during our breaks.
Up next, we have breaking news on President Obama and the president's decision to make the so-called torture memos public -- new pushback from Dick Cheney, and now late details from inside the intelligence community about whether these harsh interrogation techniques, or torture, actually worked.
Ari Fleischer, Paul Begala weigh in from opposite sides, so, you can make up your own mind whether President Obama has done the right thing.
Also tonight, the pirate who gave himself up, instead of facing a Navy SEAL's bullet, lands in a Manhattan courthouse, treating it kind of like a Hollywood debut, even though he could be facing a lifetime in prison. See what a judge decided about his fate. That's the perp walk right there.
And, later, she is already accused of brutalizing and murdering a little girl inside a church. There are new allegations tonight about another case, another child. We have details on this.
And another topless celebrity shot? Well, it's Barack Obama, the president, on the cover of a magazine shirtless. It's raising some eyebrows. We will explain -- ahead.
COOPER: Breaking news tonight about whether or not the harsh interrogation techniques used by the Bush administration actually worked, whether they actually brought about useful information, now, all of this occurring on a day that we have seen an apparent change of face by President Obama on torture and who, if anyone, is held accountable.
Now, he's been saying for a while now -- and his staffers even more so -- that those who water-boarded terror suspects would not face prosecution, talking about the CIA officers, and -- and that he wants to look forward, not back, on the subject. That's what the president's been saying. So, there's no change on the interrogators, the CIA agents, the officers. However, shortly after his chief of staff ruled out looking into former Bush administration officials, President Obama today appeared to rule it back in.
Former Vice President Cheney has launched a counterattack, pushing to release more documents that he says would show how useful these harsh tactics were.
Well, tonight, signs a top member of the Obama administration may agree.
For that, we turn to Ed Henry with -- with the breaking news.
Ed, what have you learned?
ED HENRY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, we're just getting this information, could be a major development, that, last Thursday, when the president released these so-called torture memos, his own director of national intelligence, Dennis Blair, released this two-page memo we have just gotten our hands on, in which, basically, he privately distributed to intelligence officials, in which he said these controversial tactics may have actually yielded some very important information that helped keep America safe.
He said in this two-page memo -- quote -- "High-value information came from interrogations in which those methods were used and provided a deeper understanding of the al Qaeda organization that was attacking this country."
Now, even more interesting, that paragraph I just read was not included in a one-page statement later on Thursday that the director put out to the public.
And, so, Republican officials who have provided this memo to me this evening, who are against President Obama's policies on this, of course, are basically saying they believe that the White House was not putting the whole story out to the public last Thursday.
I have just gotten some very strong pushback. I just got off the phone with Wendy Morigi. She is a spokeswoman for the director of national intelligence, Dennis Blair.
She said these were two completely different statements. There was nothing nefarious going on. She says that Director Blair does believe that high-value information was obtained from these interrogations, but he believes more damage was done to America by the fact that there was alleged torture going on, that, at the end of the day, the price the U.S. paid, in terms of image, in terms of recruitment, outweighed any benefits that may have come from these interrogations.
So, there you have it, both sides, a very interesting development, and this coming at the end of a day in which the president shifted the White House position on whether Bush officials should face criminal charges.
HENRY (voice-over): A dramatic reversal, the president now leaving the door open to his attorney general prosecuting former Bush Justice Department officials who crafted policies allowing alleged torture of terror suspects.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: With respect to those who formulated those legal decisions, I would say that that is going to be more of a decision for the attorney general, within the parameters of various laws. And I don't want to prejudge that.
HENRY: The president also suggested he would be willing to accept a 9/11-style commission to investigate Bush lawyers like John Yoo and Jay Bybee, who wrote the memos justifying enhanced interrogation techniques.
OBAMA: So, if and -- and when there needs to be a further accounting of what took place during this period, to the extent that there are independent participants who are above reproach and have credibility, that would probably be a more sensible approach to take.
HENRY: A sharp break from what his press secretary said 24 hours earlier, joining Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel in saying the president didn't want prosecutions.
(on camera): Why are they not being held accountable?
ROBERT GIBBS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Well, the president is focused on looking forward. That's why.
HENRY (voice-over): But, then, a Democrat, Senate Intelligence Chair Dianne Feinstein, urged the president not to jump to any conclusions. And the liberal group MoveOn.org circulated a petition demanding Attorney General Eric Holder appoint a special prosecutor.
(on camera): Is this an example of this White House giving in to pressure from the left?
GIBBS: I don't -- have not -- I doubt the president has been on MoveOn.org in the last 24 hours, so, no.
HENRY (voice-over): The president is also getting flak from the right, with former Vice President Dick Cheney charging, the White House is withholding other memos showing the controversial tactics helped stop terror attacks.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, FOX NEWS)
RICHARD B. CHENEY, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: They didn't put out the memos that didn't show the success of the effort. And there are reports that show specifically what we gained as a result of this activity. They have not been declassified.
(END VIDEO CLIP) HENRY: The White House sidestepped whether such memos exist, and said Cheney's request is a continuation of a long battle on substance.
GIBBS: That policy disagreement is whether or not you can uphold the values in which this country was founded at the same time that you protect the citizens that live in that country. The president of the United States and this administration believes that you can.
COOPER: Ed, it's an important piece you made in your piece, that -- that they sidestepped whether or not these techniques were effective.
Based on the breaking news that you were just reporting tonight, clearly, there seem to be some memos circulating that show that at least some of these techniques may have been effective.
All of it lends credence, I guess, to Vice President Cheney's suggestion of declassifying more of these documents. I mean, is -- is there any effort in the White House -- or any thought being given right now to declassifying? You know, why shouldn't the American people know whether or not this stuff worked, and -- and then decide whether or not it's still worthwhile?
HENRY: You're right. And that should probably be a part of the public record.
There's no doubt that the memo I just reported on from Admiral Blair is going to get picked up on by Republicans tomorrow. And they're going to say, look, Vice President Cheney is absolutely right. This prevented terror attacks.
We should be clear that Director Blair is not going as far as to say that it prevented terror attacks. Nonetheless, this suggests that maybe there are more people in the intelligence community who agree with Vice President Cheney on this.
And I can tell you, though, it doesn't look like the White House, anytime soon, is going to release any more memos, because, A, it might not help their point of view. But, B, they're also very happy, when you talk to administration advisers in private, to have a battle with Vice President Cheney drag out.
It's much better for them politically to be fighting with an unpopular former vice president than to be battling it out with fellow Democrats on the left upset who are upset with some of the president's policies.
COOPER: All right.
HENRY: So, they're more than happy to battle it out with Cheney.
COOPER: Politics rearing its ugly head. But it is important to point out that his intelligence chief is basically saying that it provided information about the structure of al Qaeda, not necessarily about some impending attack.
As I just said a moment ago, the -- the -- Admiral Blair is not going as far as Vice President Cheney and others in the Bush administration have previously said, in suggesting they believe, for example, that good intelligence gathered from the water-boarding prevented a terror attack on Los Angeles, for example.
The Obama administration has never agreed with that assessment. And Admiral Blair is not saying that in this memo -- an important distinction.
COOPER: All right, Ed, thanks. We will be no doubt talking about this a lot tomorrow.
Digging deeper now with former Clinton staff and CNN contributor Paul Begala, also former White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer.
We spoke late this afternoon, before these new developments came to light indicating that some of these harsh techniques may have yielded results.
COOPER: Ari, you said it's basically opening up a Pandora's box for the president, leaving -- leaving the door open to a possible prosecution.
How is that opening a Pandora's box?
ARI FLEISCHER, FORMER GEORGE W. BUSH WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Well, number one, we didn't release any Clinton memos. Clinton didn't release any previous President Bush top-secret memos.
The problem that I have with all of this is, now that the White House is doing this to its predecessor, what will future White Houses do, depending on how the world turns under Barack Obama? Something will go wrong during Barack Obama's presidency. Do you really want to be in a position where whoever follows him says, it was your fault; you must have done something; there's this top-secret memo we will find somewhere that makes you look or sound culpable?
COOPER: Paul, is this a slippery slope, a Pandora's box?
PAUL BEGALA, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, first up, the president was compelled to release them by a lawsuit, a lawsuit that his lawyers, the Justice Department and the White House counsel, decided they could not successfully defend.
We have a Freedom of Information Act. I know it's -- it's an adjustment, but we now have a White House that lives under the rule of law and obeys the laws. So, he released them because he was compelled to release them.
This is very different from the Bush administration, which selectively leaked national security information, top-secret information, in order to build what I think the record shows was a dishonest case for war, or, in the case of Valerie Wilson, to destroy the career of a covert CIA agent.
That's the politicization of intelligence information and -- and top-secret information. This was the president obeying the law.
COOPER: Ari, do you believe -- Vice President Cheney has expressed frustration, saying that -- that more memos should be released at this point, ones that showed -- he claims, showed success of some of these interrogation methods.
FLEISCHER: Well, number one, no top-secret documents ever need to be released under a lawsuit. The government has always fought that, always has means to fight that. In this case, they acquiesced to it. They certainly could have fought it.
But this is an opening, again, of the Pandora's box. Now the vice president is on high ground when he says, you partially released. You only told a part of the story. The rest of the story is, was the nation made, indeed, safer as a result of any of these techniques? Why didn't you tell that part of the story? You need to tell that.
President Obama is entirely within his rights not to pursue the Bush policies. But what was gained by releasing the Bush documents?
COOPER: Paul, what was gained?
BEGALA: What was gained was an insight into, really, the trampling of the American Constitution and treaties into which we have entered that have the force of law and that should have been legally binding, irrespective of political views of a White House.
COOPER: Ari, do you believe torture took place?
FLEISCHER: You know, I don't know what I think about water- boarding. I think water-boarding is pretty close to the line. But I'm not an expert in it, and I think, when it comes to that, you really can't go by what a layman has come to learn by reading newspapers.
COOPER: But, I mean, techniques that the Nazis used, stress positions, putting people in boxes...
FLEISCHER: You know, sleep deprivation -- sleep deprivation, I have no problem with. I think it's all is how it's conducted and to what extent things go.
But, if you read those documents, it was conducted with medical people being present to make certain that it didn't enter the area where you go from a harsh technique -- and I think it's appropriate to be harsh with people after September 11 who might be able to prevent the next attack. COOPER: The medical people, though, were there to see whether or not they died, or try to keep them alive, so they could...
FLEISCHER: No, no, it wasn't to see if they died. It was to prevent anything from going too far by error. That's why they were there.
COOPER: Paul, when -- when the president repeatedly said -- when President Bush repeatedly said, we do not torture, we do not torture -- and we have the tapes -- we can play them -- he said it multiple times -- was he lying?
COOPER: We will have the answer -- the answer to that question coming up next in part two of our interview.
Also tonight, eye-popping new revelations about the bank bailout, waste and fraud. It's your money, your future, and we have got new information you need to know.
Later, the strange and sad follow-up to "Slumdog Millionaire" -- two women, moms, fighting over one of the young stars and allegations the father tried to sell her to a wealthy family -- the alleged transaction, all of it caught on tape. We will have all the details ahead.
Plus, the beauty queen who stirred a storm when asked about same- sex marriage -- it stirred up another storm right after the pageant. Now she's speaking out again. We will hear what she has to say.
We will be right back.
COOPER: Recapping our breaking news, Ed Henry tonight learning about a memo from President Obama's director of national intelligence saying that some of the harsh interrogation techniques now banned by the White House were effective in yielding information about the structure of al Qaeda.
They do not, however, say they prevented terrorist attacks, as former Vice President Cheney is saying.
More on the subject from my interview with Ari Fleischer and Paul Begala, and their answer to the question, was President Bush lying when he repeatedly insisted the United States does not torture?
BEGALA: Yes, George W. Bush was lying when he said we don't torture. This is not a matter of subjective opinion. This is a matter of...
FLEISCHER: So, Paul, who would you -- so, who would you prosecute?
FLEISCHER: ... selective prosecution that Paul is after.
COOPER: Ari, was President Bush lying when he said, we do not torture?
FLEISCHER: No, I don't think he was lying.
COOPER: Was he telling the truth?
FLEISCHER: Yes. I think that it depends, again, on things that none of us were privy to, that none of us saw, that none of us know.
COOPER: If what they did was -- was right and -- and correct and legal, why did they destroy the evidence? Why did they destroy the videotapes?
COOPER: They destroyed the videotapes of two people being tortured, water-boarded, more than 100 times.
FLEISCHER: I think that's a fair question. And I think the CIA destroys a lot of things. They -- they typically like to destroy as much things as they can. That's a matter of procedure at the CIA, not only on this, but on a host of...
COOPER: Porter Goss, I think, head of the CIA, specifically did not want those tapes destroyed. And, yet, they were.
FLEISCHER: Well, and that's why I said I think that's a fair question. I think it's a matter of CIA routine procedure to destroy a lot of things. And, sometimes, they go too far, get themselves in trouble for it.
COOPER: If, in fact, it does work, does it matter, Paul?
COOPER: If the vice president is correct, and valuable information was obtained, does that justify it?
COOPER: Ari, if it works, do you think, then, it's justified?
FLEISCHER: No, I don't.
COOPER: Do you believe that it did work in this case, as the vice president has -- as Vice President Cheney has indicated?
FLEISCHER: No, again, Anderson, your premise is that it is torture. And I think the only people who can determine that are people from the Department of Justice.
COOPER: But it's interesting, though...
FLEISCHER: If it is torture, if it is torture...
COOPER: ... when the Khmer Rouge did it, when the Khmer Rouge did it at Tuol Sleng prison, and you can go there, and you can see the instruments they used to water-board people, I mean, we labeled it as torture.
FLEISCHER: And, Anderson, that's why I said the only people who are in a position to make an authoritative judgment on it should be career, independent-minded people at the Department of Justice, without anybody at the White House interfering or anybody else interfering.
And then, if they decide it was, then they have got a very careful decision to make about how far and extensive do you prosecute people. Is it the people who did it? Is it the Democrats and Republicans on Capitol Hill who were briefed on it and didn't object to it? And who in the administration would you have to apply that standard to?
This is where this whole thing can go.
But, going back to the memo, and going back to bipartisanship, you know, it's not just the Bush people who said it was wrong to release that memo. Bill Clinton's head of the CIA said it was wrong to release those memos, because you're teaching al Qaeda operatives exactly what our techniques are.
And why do we want anybody in al Qaeda to know what the limits of our techniques are, Paul?
BEGALA: The techniques that -- the techniques that we no longer use, the techniques that were in "The New York Review of Books" and half of the newspapers and magazines in North America, Ari. I mean, it is...
FLEISCHER: Paul, it was your administration's head of the CIA who objected to the release of those memos.
BEGALA: It doesn't -- it doesn't make...
FLEISCHER: It's a Clinton official who said that.
BEGALA: It doesn't make him right. Torture is always wrong, Ari. We executed...
FLEISCHER: I agree with you that torture is always wrong. BEGALA: Excuse me for talking while you're interrupting.
COOPER: Let Paul finish.
BEGALA: We -- our country executed Japanese soldiers who water- boarded American POWs. We executed them for the same crime that we are now committing ourselves. How do you defend that?
FLEISCHER: Well, again, Paul, I guess you already are the jury, the prosecutor, the judge, and a citizen all rolled into one. You have already pronounced judgment that it is a crime.
So, if it is a crime, my question goes back to. Which Democrat members of Congress who sat in on the briefings, were authorized, were told about it, while -- particularly at a time when the Democrats had the majority in the Senate, would you say need to be prosecuted, Paul?
BEGALA: Here's the thing. Ari, you think it's a political issue. And, so, you say, well, Democrats knew, or George Tenet said this, and he used to be a Democrat. And...
FLEISCHER: Because the only people you want to blame, Paul, are Republicans.
BEGALA: Again, excuse me for trying to make a point here.
FLEISCHER: That's why.
BEGALA: No, no, no.
FLEISCHER: The only people you want to blame are the Bush administration.
BEGALA: I just said a moment ago -- I just said a moment ago, if -- if George Tenet, who was head of the CIA when I was in the White House, if he says this, he's wrong, too.
COOPER: It's an extraordinarily serious subject, and I appreciate, both, the way you guys have talked about it tonight. Thank you very much.
COOPER: We're trying to present multiple sides on this, so you can make up your own mind at home, what you believe.
Check it out on our blog. Join the live chat happening now, right now, at AC360.com, a lot of people, different views, talking about it. Let us know what you think as well.
Also, you can also check out Erica Hill's live Webcasts during commercial breaks this evening. Coming up next on 360: new allegations against the Sunday school teacher accused of murder. Police say that Melissa Huckaby killed 8- year-old Sandra Cantu. But do authorities actually believe she abducted another child? We will have the latest on that investigation.
Also tonight, the bank bailouts -- is your money being looted? A new report blasts the rescue plan, says some of the taxpaying dollars may be stolen. We're talking about your money, your future. You need to know about this stuff.
And the Sunshine State overrun by snakes, big ones, pythons -- not -- not exactly overrun, but thousands of them are out there. They have been released by people who have them as pets. They have mated. There's predators just about everywhere. They're eating people's pets. We go on a ride with the python patrol ahead.
And, then, later, it's not the official presidential portrait, but a new magazine cover shot of a shirtless President Obama generating plenty of talk. We will show you the photo and the controversy -- ahead.
COOPER: In Washington today, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner was grilled by a panel overseeing the bank rescue program. Secretary Geithner conceded that the $700 billion rescue plan has had mixed success so far, even as he defended the program strenuously and promised the panel greater transparency.
Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TIMOTHY GEITHNER, TREASURY SECRETARY: I will commit to make sure that we have as effective a working relationship as possible so you have the information you need and an intensity of interaction with us to help you do your jobs. That is in our interest.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Meantime, a new report from the International Monetary Fund estimates that total losses at U.S. financial institutions could reach -- get this -- nearly $3 trillion.
That's not the only report with disturbing numbers in it. Again, we're talking about your money, your future. You need to know. Tom Foreman has more.
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program, TARP, is under attack. A stinging new report reveals that 20 criminal probes and six audits are under way to see if taxpayer money is being stolen or wasted in the bank bailout. Amid claims that TARP is inherently vulnerable to fraud. And Neil Barofsky, the special inspector general behind that report, says it's just the beginning.
NEIL BAROFSKY, TARP INSPECTOR GENERAL: We're going to mine data where we need to, to be able to find instances where institutions don't play by the rules, where they break from the rules and commit fraud.
FOREMAN: The targets of the investigations were not disclosed, but the report is renewing criticism that the financial systems that created the mess still haven't changed much.
Lynn Turner is a former chief accountant for the Securities and Exchange C Commission.
LYNN TURNER, FORMER SEC CHIEF ACCOUNTANT: And I think both the prior administration, the current administration are having a very difficult time understanding that they need to oversee these banks, rather than trying to bail them out and protect them all the time.
FOREMAN: It's just the latest report critical of Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner's plans. And Congress is asking tough questions.
REP. JEB HENSARLING (R), TEXAS: Who's next? The airline industry? The trucking industry?
FOREMAN: How come taxpayers don't yet know where all this money is going? And why don't regulators have more authority to control bailed-out banks?
GEITHNER: A lot of the trauma we faced in the course of the fall was a result of that basic failure. We still do not have that authority today.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not even as majority shareholders?
GEITHNER: No, but -- that imperative is getting better authority in places, the centerpiece of what the president is trying to, what Congress is trying to achieve now.
FOREMAN (on camera): Is all this a real problem for President Obama? Depends on your point of view. Supporters say he warned us all along fixing the economy would take time and there would be setbacks. Critics say he was warned about rushing in too quickly with too few safeguards, and both are right.
(voice-over) But these spring rumbles suggest bigger storms are brewing for the summer ahead.
Tom Foreman, CNN, Washington.
COOPER: Well, coming up next, "Slumdog" drama. Reports that a young star's father actually tried to sell her. Family literally fighting over the allegations. We've got both sides of the story.
And also, dangerous pythons on the loose in Florida. This one ate an entire alligator. I didn't even know that was possible. John Zarrella brings us up close with the problem.
And Miss California's comments on same-sex marriage. She says it cost her the crown. We'll let you hear and decide for yourself. We'll be right back.
COOPER: New details tonight in a shocking story about one of the youngest stars of "Slumdog Millionaire." The girl you see in this fashion show played a central role in the Oscar-winning film.
In recent days, reports have surfaced that the father of the child actor tried to sell her off for hundreds of thousands of dollars. The girl's father denies the charges, calling it all a lie. But police in India want to know if the accusations are true.
Sarah Seidner has the latest.
SARAH SEIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Call it "Slumdog: The Sequel." No dancing, no singing, just shouting and shoving. A mom and a stepmom and their little girl. This little girl: Latika in the film, 9-year-old Rubina Ali in real life. A girl we fell in love with on the silver screen and Oscars red carpet.
She and her friends won our hearts and made the makers of "Slumdog" a small fortune. The "Slumdog" actors were paid a fee, and a trust fund was set up. But did Rubina's dad try to make a buck himself? A British tabloid says he did.
This is video purportedly showing Rubina's father, Rafiq Qureshi, on the right, with a couple posing as wealthy Arabs. The father allegedly agreed to offer Rubina for adoption in exchange for nearly $300,000. But there's no sound on the tape, and Qureshi says he did no such thing.
RAFIQ QURESHI, FATHER OF RUBINA ALI (through translator): They said that the shaikh's wife wanted to take Rubina, but I said no. I can never give my child away.
SEIDNER: Rubina agreed.
RUBINA ALI, ACTRESS (through translator): I talked to them in the room. My dad said I could meet people if I want to, but I will never give my daughter away for any amount of money.
SEIDNER: Back to that fight. It was mom who complained to police after seeing the news reports. The stepmom took exception to the accusation.
The tabloids stand by its story. Authorities are on the case. Figuratively and literally, the blow-by-blow. And somewhere in this fight, in this slum, in the story, a little girl waits for the kind of Hollywood ending that lingers even after the lights come back up.
Sarah Seidner, CNN, New Delhi.
COOPER: Wow. So sad.
Just ahead, Florida's newest worst nightmare. They can grow to ten feet, 200 pounds. They swallow cats, alligators, even full-grown deer. We're talking about these pythons, tens of thousands of them apparently on the loose.
First, though, Erica Hill joins us with a "360 News & Business Bulletin" -- Erica.
ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR: Anderson, a Somali suspected in the hijacking of a U.S.-flagged cargo ship arrived in handcuffs and smiling in New York but broke down in court today after being charged with piracy, which carries a minimum sentence of life.
A federal judge ruled the young man can be tried as an adult. His parents, however, contend that he is a minor.
There are reports tonight a California woman charged with the rape and murder of 8-year-old Sandra Cantu is now being linked to the drugging of a 7-year-old girl who lives in the same mobile-home park. Melissa Huckaby, though, has not been charged in that drugging incident, which happened in January.
Stocks apparently liked what Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said on Capitol Hill, the Dow adding over 128 points. The NASDAQ and the S&P 500 also had gains.
And Miss California is standing by her comments about same-sex marriage, even if she feels she may have cost her the Miss USA crown. Carrie Prejean defending her answer on "The Today Show" this morning, saying she spoke from the heart when she answered this question to pageant judge and celebrity blogger Perez Hilton.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PEREZ HILTON, CELEBRITY BLOGGER: Vermont recently became the fourth state to legalize same-sex marriage. Do you think every state should follow suit? Why or why not?
CARRIE PREJEAN, MISS USA RUNNER-UP: Well, I think it's great that Americans are able to choose one or the other. We live in a land that you can choose same-sex marriage or opposite marriage.
And you know what? In my country and my family, I think that I believe that a marriage should be between a man and a woman. No offense to anybody out there. But that's how I was raised, and that's how I think that it should be between a man and a woman. Thank you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HILL: Prejean was crowned first runner-up, Anderson. She really, though, was winning the media war here because few people, I think, can name Miss USA who was actually Miss North Carolina.
COOPER: Miss who?
HILL: North Carolina, Kristen Dalton. Yes.
COOPER: There you go.
All right. Next on 360, Florida's big python problem. I didn't believe this story at first. The pets are now wild predators, slithering the streets of Miami and other cities, looking for anything to eat. Check out this close encounter with our own John Zarrella.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Oh, look at that. Wow! Look at that. Yes. Got a question for you. Now how do I get him off of me? Look at this. Thank you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: No one seemed to give him any answers, though. We're on the search with the python patrol. You have to see what these guys do to track down the snakes. Not easy.
Later, "Secrets to a Long Life." We already told you about sex and napping last night, how that may be a big factor. Tonight, we have an even bigger surprise to saying young.
And also, the story that's catching a lot of attention: President Obama caught on camera without his shirt. That was before he became president. So why is the picture now on a magazine cover, and what's been PhotoShopped? Tonight's "Shot."
COOPER: In Florida tonight, a very strange problem, one I initially did not actually believe was even true. Burmese pythons, enormous snakes that were -- they were bought originally as household pets, are apparently being abandoned by their owners and mating in the wild. And now thousands of these pythons are on the loose, traveling faster than you might think, swallowing household pets, wildlife, including even alligators.
John Zarrella went along with the team with the tough job of catching them. Here's his "360 Dispatch."
ZARRELLA: This 12-foot Burmese python is found holed up in a Miami neighborhood. It had just devoured a cat.
This ten-foot python was captured in a chicken coop. There's nothing scientists haven't found in their stomachs, even an alligator protruding from a python's belly.
ALISON HIGGINS, THE NATURE CONSERVANCY: We have found five-foot alligators. We have found a full-grown deer.
ZARRELLA: This mess got started, wildlife experts say, when python owners realized their pets had suddenly grown too big to handle and dumped them in the Everglades. Twenty years ago, there were none out here. Now there are an estimated 30,000, flourishing and breeding.
HIGGINS: A foot and a half is a hatchling. A six-footer is only one years old. And they're -- most of these that are on the move are within that one to two-year-old range. They're the expanders.
ZARRELLA: And experts say the pythons, which can grow to 200 pounds, are expanding outward from the glades in all directions. A handful have even been caught in the upper Florida Keys.
(on camera) So how are they getting here? The pythons can travel up to a mile and a half a day, and wildlife biologists say some of them may be swimming from the southern tip of the Everglades, across Florida Bay, here to Key Largo.
(voice-over) And once they're here, wildlife biologists are concerned they'll devour pets and endangered species, or worse, menace small children. The only way to stop their spread: catch them and kill them. To do that, the nature conservancy has been running classes for wildlife officers, police and park rangers...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's not fun, when he's facing me.
ZARRELLA: ... on how to do just that.
(on camera) You have a big python hook?
(voice-over) Pythons are nonvenomous, but as I found out when I took the training class, they have no problem coming after you.
The idea: get behind them, grab their tail, tire them out. Don't take your eyes off of them. Work your way to the business end, grab it. I handled the first two eight-footers alone but needed help with the 12-footer. As soon as I had him, he coiled.
(on camera) Oh, look at that. Wow! It's pretty powerful.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let him do it. As long as he doesn't get up around your neck.
ZARRELLA: Got a question for you. How do I get him off of me?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Very carefully.
ZARRELLA: Thank you.
(on camera) With no natural enemies keeping their population under control, the predators quickly moved to the top of the food chain. Bad news for their prey and the people of South Florida.
John Zarrella, CNN, Big Pine Key, Florida.
COOPER: That is unbelievable. Can you believe -- would you have done that report, Erica?
HILL: I don't know about that. I'm not really sure. Would you have done it?
COOPER: I actually used to collect snakes as a kid.
HILL: You did?
HILL: Well, this is going to work out really well. Because I actually have something for you here in the studio.
COOPER: Oh, no.
HILL: Because you know you do all these "Planet in Peril" reports? I want to make sure you're safe out there, Anderson Cooper. I want you to learn to do what John Zarrella mastered.
COOPER: Very nice. Wow, cool.
HILL: There you go.
COOPER: So is this a python, Burmese python?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is a bull python.
HILL: And that's -- this is the Colombia...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Red-tail boa.
HILL: Red-tail boa.
HILL: How about that?
COOPER: How did they -- one of the viewers on the blog was asking how they could possibly eat a deer. Is it true they unhinge their jaws?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They unhinge, it's double -- anywhere from double to triple their mouth size.
HILL: But even so, how big would be -- even if this python has grown to 20 feet, 200 pounds, I mean, how do they actually get their mouth around a deer? It's wild.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, usually, when they go for a smaller animal, they're using the head.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If it's smaller, and then it can expand as it goes down the whole body.
COOPER: So how old is this one?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This one's about -- about 4 or 5.
COOPER: Oh, really. So it's small.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's -- bull pythons are relatively small pythons.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They call them bull pythons, because they stay -- yes. This snake actually gets actually real big.
HILL: How big?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Twelve foot.
COOPER: That's amazing.
HILL: Maybe we should keep it here in the office.
COOPER: I don't think so.
That's cool. Thanks for bringing that in.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No problem.
HILL: Do you want to practice like John Zarrella did?
HILL: What if you're in the Everglades, Anderson?
COOPER: I mean, I -- can I hold him?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She's friendly enough.
HILL: See, and everybody was thinking you'd be totally creeped out...
COOPER: All right.
HILL: ... and that you wouldn't want to get near the snake.
COOPER: No one knew I actually...
HILL: Look at that. You learn something new about Anderson Cooper every day.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Don't worry. She's just tasting the air, tasting a lot of the smells around her.
COOPER: That's what the tongue is used for, for like smelling.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Exactly.
COOPER: Erica, would you like to hold him?
HILL: No, thank you.
COOPER: Really? You sure?
HILL: No, really. I'm sure.
COOPER: This is cool. All right. Well, thanks for coming in. Appreciate it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No problem.
COOPER: All right. Just ahead, "Secrets to a Long Life," probably not involving snakes. Start by staying away from pythons.
And get ready to reframe the way you think about aging. Coming up, we'll take you to a Greek island where 90 is the new 50, and living long is more than the rule than the exception.
Also, President Obama shirtless in Hawaii. That's where this shirt was taken. Now it's on a magazine cover. But something's different this time. What can it be? It's been PhotoShopped. We'll explain all the details that are raising some eyebrows. We'll be right back.
COOPER: Tonight we continue our week-long project, "Secrets to a Long Life." We were curious about why some live longer than others. And it's something explorer and writer Dan Buettner has investigated with astonishing results.
His team of researchers studied a corner of the world in Ikaria, Greece, where aging is an entirely different ball game than here in America. Their work is supported by the AARP and the National Geographic Society.
Erica Hill has more tonight on what they found.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) HILL: OK, Dan, I know you found a prime example of a long- living, vicarious Ikarian. This man is almost 100 years old.
DAN BUETTNER, AUTHOR, "BLUE ZONES": Yes. We're here in the most remote part of Ikaria right now, a place called Kakanagri (ph). You see right above me this incredibly harsh terrain. This is where the Ikarians hid out from pirates for more than a thousand years and developed their own special culture, their own lifestyle.
And here's where we met Costas, a 95-year-old Greek orthodox priest. And the guy was completely amazing. He still drives an ATV. And he showed me a little bit of his diet. He eats a plant-based diet, which explains some of his longevity, but he actually took me out just a few steps outside his door.
He walked me along about eight feet of road, and we found five longevity ingredients. And I can share a few of those with you. Right here, wild fennel, just growing wild. Tastes like anise. Turns out very high in polyphenols, very good for scrubbing arteries.
Olive leaves. There is an institute in Athens that actually has extracted a compound that repairs DNA, the fundamental mechanism of aging.
Down here we have chamomile. This is used to settle nerves, and it relieves stress. You know, of course, you can buy chamomile in grocery stores in America, but to get it fresh like this, it has more of the artery-scrubbing antioxidants than you do in a dry little bag.
Right over here. This little plant right here, they call this the longevity herb. They make a tea out of it. It is used for gout. It's rosemary. But actually, there are good studies that show that rosemary actually can help stave off Alzheimer's disease.
So fight here, five things, five feet.
HILL: All things that we can use. You mentioned he has -- he has a plant-based diet. I know it's sort of a modified Mediterranean diet. That has a lot to do with it.
But it's not just about what they eat. It is about what these folks do every day. So what makes Costas so special that he is living to 95 and riding an ATV all over the mountain?
BUETTNER: Costas is an active member of his community. He still gardens. He still goes down to the central square and interacts. He has a sense of purpose. We know people that have meaning in their lives live about seven years longer than people that who don't.
Also, because he's a religious man, we know he lives between 4 and 14 more years than people who don't have religion. And the way that's measured is showing up for religious service. We know people who show up to church or mosque or temple at least four times a month outlive their counterparts who don't.
HILL: All right. We're going to get some more specifics from you tomorrow. I believe we're going into the kitchen to figure out how to make all of these things work for us at home here in the states.
Dan, thanks. Looking forward to it.
BUETTNER: We'll make them taste good. See you tomorrow.
HILL: Looking forward to that. Now, it was something to the olive leaf. The olive oil that they actually eat in Ikaria, they make themselves. And it's really interesting on why it's so good for you. There's a great blog on that at the Web site.
Also on our Web site, there's that longevity calculator.
COOPER: I didn't do it yet.
HILL: You didn't do it yet?
COOPER: I was too scared to.
HILL: Anderson Cooper.
COOPER: Yes, I was too scared to.
HILL: It's not scary. It could be -- you know, I thought it was going to be terrible. I'm going to live till 93.
COOPER: I worked out twice today, so I ran.
HILL: Go again.
COOPER: So that way when I do take it, I can at least, you know, bump up my score a little bit.
HILL: That's right. Good for you. Also, on the Web site, I should point out, you can also -- you can skew the results. That's so fair.
HILL: But you know, you'll know that you lied.
Also on the Web site, you can you vote as to who you would like Dan and his team to investigate next. Some really interesting choices.
COOPER: All right. Cool. All right, Erica. Thanks. We'll look at that tomorrow.
Next, President Obama shirtless on the cover of a magazine. We'll show you the cover that has some eyebrows raising. It's our "Shot of the Day." It was actually PhotoShopped. We'll explain what was PhotoShopped.
And coming up at the top of the hour, medical student in court for murder and more, accused of being the Craigslist killer. We have new details into Philip Markoff's alleged double life.
COOPER: Hopefully, you're watching the live chat, Erica Hill's live Web cast during the breaks. We just had more with the snakes out here.
All right. So for tonight's "Shot," Erica, from commander in chief to pinup. Check out the latest edition of "The Washingtonian," the magazine. That's a shot of President Obama wearing shades but no shirt. The issue is new. The picture, as you may know, was not. It was actually taken last December when he was in Hawaii on vacation.
Talk about PhotoShopping. Look at it next to the original image. For reasons why we're not quite sure, the magazine changed the color of his shorts from blue to red. Maybe they pop out more, I guess, on the cover of the magazine. The president has been airbrushed and touched up.
I don't know if the magazine apologized to the president for that, but there you go.
HILL: I've got to wonder how the president feels about that.
COOPER: We think he's the first shirtless president to ever appear on the cover of a magazine.
HILL: On the cover. But not ever that we've seen shirtless.
COOPER: No, we have seen shirtless presidents before. In fact, there's Bill Clinton wearing trunks, a watch, and nothing else in the water.
HILL: Ah, yes.
COOPER: Then Ronald Reagan tossing a football on the beach for the...
HILL: There you go.
COOPER: The buffest of presidents -- apparently you have to go way back, Millard Fillmore. Do we have the Millard Fillmore?
HILL: Oh, yes. Look at that.
COOPER: That's not Millard Fillmore.
HILL: Boy, he was a catch, huh?
COOPER: I thought we actually did have a real picture of Millard Fillmore. No one showed me that.
HILL: Come on, now.
COOPER: Oh, well.
HILL: But I here the Millard Fillmore -- I mean, the guns on that president were just insane.
COOPER: All right. You can see all the most recent "Shots" on our Web site, AC360.com.
Coming up at the top of the hour, the alleged Craigslist killer in court. Late new developments in the case. What investigators say they now know about a possible motive.
Also the breaking news on the so-called torture memos. Be right back.
COOPER: Tonight, the Craigslist killer. Is this him? Take a look.
Philip Markoff, 22, a medical student, the bright future ahead of him, apparently no shadows in his past. He was engaged to be married, seen with his fiancee right there.
Did this seemingly solid citizen hire this woman, 26-year-old Julissa Brisman, a Craigslist masseuse, then bludgeon and shoot her to death in a ritzy Boston hotel room?