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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees

Fort Hood Massacre: Missed Warning Signs?; Could Abortion Sink Health Care Reform?; A Priest's Secret Son

Aired November 12, 2009 - 22:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Tonight, "Keeping Them Honest": the Fort Hood shooting suspect and more missed warning signs. Over the last two years, Major Nidal Hasan's superiors were reportedly concerned he might be psychotic. So, why didn't they take stronger action? Why some who knew him say political correctness played a role.

Also tonight, "Up Close": a secret exposed. The Catholic Church paid child support to a woman, but only if she kept silent about the child she conceived with a popular priest. Twenty-two years later, her son is dying. And she is now talking. What does the church have to say about the deal that protected the priest? Find out ahead.

And, later, Sarah Palin in her own words -- what she told Oprah today about Katie Couric and what she wrote in her new book that has the McCain camp firing back.

First up tonight, the Fort Hood shooting case. The suspect, Major Nidal Hasan, an Army psychiatrist, was charged today with 13 counts of premeditated murder. He could face the death penalty if convicted. The charges were filed in military court, but, tonight, there are new questions about why the military didn't do more after serious red flags were raised about Major Hasan.

The problems date back to at least 2007. And some of Hasan's former classmates believe his faith and political correctness actually protected the troubled officer from closer scrutiny.

Brian Todd tonight is "Keeping Them Honest."


BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A former colleague of Nidal Hasan's during his medical training tells CNN, Hasan's contemporaries had widespread concerns about his competence as a psychiatrist.

Former colleagues, who did not want to be identified because of the ongoing investigation, say they thought Hasan's presentations were not academically rigorous. And one said -- quote -- "No one in class would have ever referred a patient to him."

Earlier this week, Hasan's supervisor at Fort Hood was asked about reports of problems.

COLONEL KIMBERLY KESLING, DEPUTY COMMANDER OF CLINICAL SERVICES, DARNALL ARMY MEDICAL CENTER: His evaluation reports said that he had had some difficulties in his residency fitting into his residency. And, so, we worked very hard to integrate him into our practice and integrate him into our organization. And he -- he adapted very well and was doing a really good job for us.

TODD: But Hasan's former colleagues tell us of Hasan talking about the persecution of Muslims, justifying suicide bombings during presentations in class, and saying his allegiance was to the Koran, not the Constitution.

NPR reports, Hasan's superiors had a series of meetings in 2008 and 2009 discussing whether Hasan was psychotic. But they didn't find clear evidence he was unstable. Why wasn't he disciplined or at the very least counseled? At least two of Hasan's former classmates believe they know Hasan's superiors were reluctant to discipline him because they didn't want to alienate a Muslim soldier.

While this was their strong belief, they didn't provide evidence of that.

A retired military lawyer familiar with such investigations says political correctness does factor in these situations.

THOMAS KENNIFF, FORMER ARMY JAG OFFICE ATTORNEY: In a post-9/11 world, there are a lot of forces in the military that may be very hesitant to give the appearance that they are singling out Muslim soldiers, even when that individual Muslim soldier may be making statements that are looked at as very incendiary and very questionable.

TODD: Defense Department officials wouldn't comment on that. And there's no specific information that Hasan's superiors didn't address his presentations with him or that they avoided doing so because he's Muslim. Given these patterns, should someone have intervened with Nidal Hasan?

General Russel Honore, who was not involved in Hasan's career, makes this point.

LIEUTENANT GENERAL RUSSEL HONORE (RET.), CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Something was missed in this major's tone, his demeanor, and the things that have been reported that he has said, that we could have possibly done more to help him before he got that far.

TODD (on camera): The former colleague I spoke with says he's beating himself up these days over that same question, asking himself repeatedly if he could have done something. He says he doesn't think he could have -- Anderson.


COOPER: Brian, thanks.

President Obama said today he has ordered a review of intelligence related to the shooting and Hasan. Around the same time Hasan's colleagues at Walter Reed were raising red flags to their superiors, terrorism investigators were looking into e-mails Hasan sent to a radical Islamic cleric overseas.

Let's dig deeper with former military prosecutor Thomas Kenniff, who just -- you just saw in Brian's report.

What do you make of this, some people saying political correctness may have played a role in why people didn't kind of voice their -- their -- you know, make more of the red flags that had been raised?

KENNIFF: Well, look, you know, Anderson, within the last 10, 20 years, the Army has vigorously pursued equal opportunity complaints.

And it's not just based on religion. It's based -- it can based on sex, race, ethnicity and so forth -- much to its credit. But, you know, if you're an officer and you're moving up the ranks of the chain of command in the military, the quickest way to sabotage your career could be to subject yourself to an equal opportunity complaint.

So, you know, let's say, hypothetically, that you're a mid-level to upper-level officer, and you're sitting in that briefing room at Walter Reed while Major Hasan is giving that PowerPoint presentation...

COOPER: Right.

KENNIFF: ... and making these sort of outlandish remarks.

You have to stop and question yourself and ask yourself: Hey, I do want to come forward with this, and risk my own career, that -- you know, even assuming that the higher-ups do investigate it, what if that investigation leads nowhere, and just says, well, hey, you know, he was out there and he was expressing his own First Amendment rights to free speech and rights...

COOPER: Right.

KENNIFF: ... rights to religion?

Well, if you're left holding the bag, and then you're you're -- allowing yourself to be followed with this reputation as sort of being bigoted or sort of showing racial intolerance...

COOPER: Right.

KENNIFF: ... then that is going to be absolutely detrimental to your Army career.

COOPER: It's interesting, because it is a fine line. I mean, people -- the term political correctness comes with a lot of baggage. But one wants a military in which there are strict rules about, you know, how one interacts with -- with fellow colleagues, and not, you know -- I mean, there's a good side to political correctness as well for -- for anybody who's a minority or anybody who has maybe different in the military.

And, yet, it can also go too far. KENNIFF: Yes. There's a wonderful side to it.

And, look, you know, in a lot of ways, the military has been on the forefront of civil rights in this issue. I mean, African- Americans served admirably in the U.S. Army during the Civil War. During the 1940s and 1950s, the military really integrated well before the rest of society.

COOPER: Right.

KENNIFF: And that was a very courageous move, because the military has always been a heavily Southern Army. So, at the time when, you know, areas of the south had Jim Crow laws and so forth, it was a desegregated military. So, there's no question that, you know, political correctness can be a very good thing.

COOPER: You also say that maybe the -- the fact that this guy was an M.D., which is kind of a rarefied world within the military, that might have played a role as well.

KENNIFF: Right, because, look, you know, first of all, doctors, M.D.s are treated very well in the military. And, you know, I think there may have been a reaction among his colleagues of, look, you know, yes, this guy has some outlandish views and maybe he's off the reservation a little bit with his political and religious beliefs, but he's a psychiatrist.

You know, other than writing prescriptions, he probably doesn't have a lot of weapons in his arsenal. So, you know, we will just let him continue to operate, and, as long as he's kept within the Medical Corps, he probably can't do much damage.

COOPER: All right.

Well, again, still a lot we don't know.

Thomas Kenniff, appreciate you being on. Thanks...


KENNIFF: Thanks for having me, Anderson.

COOPER: We're curious what you think about these new developments in the Fort Hood shooting. Join the live chat, which is under way now, at

Ahead tonight in this hour: new outrage in the health care debate over an abortion amendment that would affect the public option. Could it sink health care reform overall? Debates within the Democratic Party about this.

We want to hear from you on all sides. Text your questions and thoughts to AC360, or 22360. And, remember, standard rates apply.

Later: a long-kept secret revealed. The Catholic Church paid child support to a woman who had a son with a priest, but only if she kept the secret. The priest kept his career. Now their son is dying, and the woman is speaking out. Gary Tuchman is "Keeping Them Honest."


COOPER: Well, the health care reform battle has taken a sharp turn, with abortion now threatening to overshadow everything else at stake. After a bitter debate, the House added tough restrictions on abortion to its version of the health care reform bill. It allowed them to pass it.

Now the Senate is preparing to possibly do the same. And that is causing major divisions among Democrats.

Tom Foreman has the "Raw Politics."


TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In the growing church-state war over abortion in the health bill, one target is Massachusetts Congressman Patrick Kennedy. He's Catholic. And a Rhode Island bishop is suggesting that, because he did not go along with the church anti-abortion effort in the health care reform bill, he should leave the faith.


THOMAS TOBIN, BISHOP OF PROVIDENCE, RHODE ISLAND: If you freely choose to be a Catholic, it means that you believe certain things, you do certain things. If you cannot do all that in conscience, then you should perhaps feel free to go somewhere else.


FOREMAN: At issue is a few pages in the massive bill, the Stupak-Pitts amendment, which bans almost all abortion coverage for women who would enroll in the proposed public option.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is a bipartisan amendment.

FOREMAN: In the House, groups against abortion rights threatened to bring the whole bill down if the amendment was not approved. Many lawmakers fought back, saying it would impose new abortion limits. But the majority swallowed hard and passed it anyway to keep the overall bill alive.



CECILE RICHARDS, PRESIDENT, PLANNED PARENTHOOD: Am I happy with that bill? Absolutely not.

FOREMAN: Now Planned Parenthood and others are scrambling to make sure the idea is dropped in the Senate.

RICHARDS: In the end, we would be very hard-pressed to support any bill that had the Stupak amendment in it, because I think it's bad for American women.

FOREMAN (on camera): But those who want abortion coverage kept out of the health care bill are still pushing hard, too, calling on church groups and especially Catholics to lean on senators, a quarter of whom are Catholic themselves -- Anderson.


COOPER: Tom, thanks.

Well, the abortion issue of course raises the political stakes of the health care debate even higher. President Obama, of course, promised to support abortion rights during the campaign. So did many lawmakers.

Let's talk strategy in a "Strategy Session" with senior political correspondent Candy Crowley in Washington and CNN senior political analyst David Gergen in Boston.

David, I want to read part of an op-ed in today's "New York Times" by two prominent pro-choice activists. They write -- and I quote -- "The Democratic majority has abandoned its platform and subordinated women's health to short-term political success. In doing so, these so-called friends of women's rights have arguably done more to undermine reproductive rights than some of abortion's staunchest foes."

So, did Democrats back themselves into a corner by supporting this amendment?


And it was -- it's been a very difficult choice for Nancy Pelosi to allow this. But they -- Democrats who -- some Democrats who are pro-choice allowed this to happen because they thought it was the price of getting a health care bill. And they hope to come back and correct it.

But we now have two things that are going on. There's a building firestorm among pro-choice groups about this amendment, enough so, so that if -- if a final bill comes out of conference and goes back to the House of Representatives without this kind of language in it, there is a danger that health care could go down.

Women's groups also feel very strongly that, as in the past, when there have been conflicts over women's rights vs. other preferences, that women often come last and that men push it. On this bill, only two Democratic women voted for the Stupak amendment. There are some 61 Democratic women in the House of Representatives. The rest voted against it.

COOPER: And, Candy, now, the Senate, are they likely to have similar language?

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. They're working -- whenever they tell you they're working on the language, that means they have a problem.

And, in fact, that's what they will tell you when it comes to this abortion issue, because they have Democrats that have said flat- out, "No way am I going to support a bill" -- Ben Nelson one of them -- "am I going to support a bill that does not have this restrictive abortion language in it that the House bill has."

It's not as -- doesn't cut as cleanly in the Senate side, simply because you do have some pro-choice Republicans. So, you know, here's -- I just think that it's important, even though the process may be boring, to point out that a lot of this had to do with the fact that the Democrats want to just keep the train rolling.

This would not be the first bill that goes into a conference committee and come out completely different. So, that's -- really was the strategy on the Democratic side in the House. I suspect it will be the strategy on the Democratic side in the Senate.

But it's also made a little more interesting, because Senator Reid, who, of course, is the -- the leader in the Senate and the Democratic leader, is anti-abortion, except with exceptions for life and rape and incest. So, he, of course, is on the anti-abortion side.

So, that will make it an interesting dynamic, because he's the guy trying to figure out the language.

COOPER: Yes, David, we have got a text 360 question from a viewer.

The question is, "Are the new rules about funding for abortion procedures any different than the current rules?"

Congressman Bart Stupak, the Democrat who actually co-sponsored the amendment, says that pro-choice activists are -- quote -- "distorting the hell out of it."

Is there a clear answer here?

GERGEN: It -- it -- this is very complex, Anderson. It's hard to know.

I started thinking -- I started out by thinking that Congressman Stupak was right; it didn't change anything. The more I have looked at it, the more I am persuaded that the number of women who will have access to abortion insurance will be much less under the Stupak amendment than if there were no such amendment in there.

I might also just add, as a political note of irony, Anderson, the -- in order to build a Democratic majority, it was Rahm Emanuel in the House of Representatives who went out and recruited a lot of Democrats to run for office for moral conservative districts.

And the only way he could get people who could win was to recruit pro-life Democrats. And it's those pro-life Democrats who are now coming back to bedevil the party. COOPER: Candy, are Republicans seeing this as an issue which could bring down this whole -- I mean, the whole idea of health care reform?

CROWLEY: I think the political reality remains at this moment that the Democrats, one way or the other, are going to go ahead and pass this, because you're already hearing something that David alluded to earlier from the Democrats, which is, there are these issues, and then there is the overriding need to pass some form of health care reform.

In some ways, it's a game of chicken between Democrats who really would abandon health care bill if it did or did not contain the abortion language. So, that has to be -- you know, that's what they do head counts for. So, it has definitely caused tension and definitely will continue to.

But, in the end, there are many Democrats who look at this issue, understand that it's important, but believe that the overriding important thing is to get some health care insurance...

COOPER: Right.

CROWLEY: ... a health care reform passed through to try to cover people that don't have any kind of health care reform at all, much less coverage for an abortion.

COOPER: Well, it's going to be contentious.

Candy, appreciate it -- Candy Crowley, David Gergen as well.

Ahead on the program tonight: Sarah Palin making the book rounds. In an interview she taped with Oprah today, she talks about her infamous interview with Katie Couric and a lot more -- Sarah Palin going rogue in her own words coming up.

And later: new numbers showing swine flu has killed nearly four times more Americans than previously thought, including more than 500 kids -- details ahead.


COOPER: We're following breaking news out of Pakistan.

Erica Hill has details in a 360 bulletin -- Erica.

ERICA HILL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, at least seven people are dead, 30 others wounded, after a car bomb explosion in Peshawar, Pakistan. The attack occurred outside of Pakistan's intelligence office. We will continue to follow any developments for you there.

Meantime, here in the U.S., the swine flu epidemic, we're told, has killed now more Americans than previously thought. The Centers for Disease Control now says nearly 3,900 people, including 540 children, have died from the H1N1 virus. Millions are still trying to get vaccinated, but many having trouble finding the vaccine. And supermodel Cindy Crawford and her husband the latest targets of an alleged extortion scheme. Court documents filed today say an acquaintance of the couple's former nanny threatened to sell an unflattering photo of their daughter. And the little girl was 7 years old -- Anderson.

COOPER: Yes, creepy.

Next on the program: uncovering a priest's secret, the truth he kept hidden and the money paid by the church officials to keep it that way.

And, later, Sarah Palin and Oprah Winfrey, we will show you some of the interview. We will also tell you about her new war of words with Senator John McCain's campaign -- coming up.


COOPER: "Up Close" tonight: a story about faith, family, and the extreme lengths Catholic Church officials have gone to keep a priest's secret from ever coming to light.

As you will, the secret is that the priest has a son. The child's mother says church officials agreed to pay child support if she kept quiet. But, when he became sick, she claims they largely abandoned them.

Gary Tuchman reports.


GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This photo doesn't nearly tell the whole story. This priest not only baptized this baby, but he is also the baby's father, and that fact will be kept secret for 22 years.

It was a secret forged in a legal agreement between church officials and the mother. Her name is Pat Bond.

(on camera): So, they told you, if you sign this, you couldn't ever -- could not ever talk about it?


TUCHMAN (voice-over): In the agreement, Henry Willenborg, a Franciscan priest, declared he is the baby's father. And, in exchange for her silence, the agreement promises the Franciscans would quietly pay financial support for her son.

(on camera): Confidential?

BOND: Correct.

TUCHMAN: Secret?

BOND: Yes. Oh, yes. Oh, yes. TUCHMAN (voice-over): Pat says, at the time, she was very vulnerable. She had left her husband for the priest, was under psychological care and had considered suicide. She says she was intimidated by church negotiators and that she had poor legal advice. But she saw no other way to support her son.

His father, the priest, had no intention of leaving the priesthood, even though she says they continued their relationship.

(on camera): Patricia Bond was a very devoted Catholic. She loved her church. And, as it turns out, she loved her priest. This is the church in Quincy, Illinois, where her son, Nathan, was baptized by Father Willenborg.

And right across the street from the church, this green house, this is where she used to live. She says Willenborg would celebrate mass during the day and often come here to sleep with her during the night.

(voice-over): The secret relationship would end after five years. Nathan was a toddler. Pat worried about how to care for him. She felt the church agreement she signed was not enough, but she kept her silence.

Her son, Nathan, grew up, smart, athletic, popular. But, three years ago, he was diagnosed with brain cancer.

(on camera): What's the prognosis now?

BOND: I'm losing my son.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): Doctors say Nathan may only have weeks to live. The church has paid for some medical care. But Pat had to fly him to New York this summer for late-stage cancer treatment. They had to stay for weeks.

BOND: And I begged -- and I am saying that I begged the church, please, send us help.

TUCHMAN: The Franciscans gave her $1,000. But it was only a tiny fraction of the cost. Pat says she pleaded for more, saying church officials had a moral obligation.

(on camera): And what did the church say?

BOND: They said, no, we are not Nathan's biological father. We have no legal obligation to your son.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): Franciscan Provincial Minister Father William Spencer would not go on camera, but, in a letter to CNN, he says, "Our payments have exceeded legal requirements."

He also writes: "When the mother made requests on multiple occasions, we made further payments for the child's support, education, health care." In total, the Franciscans tell CNN, Pat Bond received about $233,000 over the last 22 years. But, doing the math, that averages less than $11,000 a year.

(on camera): The Franciscans' insistence that they have been generous over the years with Pat Bond seems to miss the larger point. And that is, why was such an agreement signed in the first place? In the Catholic religion, priests are not allowed to have children. So, why didn't the Franciscans say to Father Willenborg: "Listen, you have had a child. You can no longer be a priest. So, take care of your child. Take care of the woman you had the child with"?

And why, pray tell, was this agreement confidential?

(voice-over): We wanted to ask these questions to the man who made that decision, who was the lead negotiator 22 years ago. Pat Bond says she didn't know what became of him, but she remembers his name.

BOND: Father Bob Karris.

TUCHMAN: And this is:


TUCHMAN: We found him at Saint Bonaventure University in New York State, where he is a renowned scholar.


COOPER: Well, up next: what Gary discovered when he met with the man who negotiated that agreement. The mother of the child wants answers -- part two of Gary's report ahead on 360.

And, later, Sarah Palin in her own words -- what she told Oprah Winfrey today about her interview with Katie Couric and about a possible peace treaty with Levi Johnston.


COOPER: Before the break, we told you about how officials in the Catholic Church paid a woman child support but only if she kept quiet about the son she had with the priest. The child is now very ill, and he mom says church officials have betrayed their promise to them. They say they did not. We'll have more on that in a moment.

But first, Gary Tuchman continues his report, beginning with the search for the priest with the secret. Watch.


TUCHMAN (voice-over): Father Robert Karris is the priest who represented the Franciscans 20 years ago when they offered Pat Bond a legal agreement. In exchange for her silence, they would pay to support the boy she had with Franciscan priest, Father Henry Willenburg. Instead of seriously punishing Father Henry, Karris says they sent him to a treatment center and, ultimately, he was back in the church community.

As for Nathan, Father Henry's son...

REV. ROBERT KARRIS, FORMER FRANCISCAN PROVINCIAL MINISTER: We are doing and are committed to continue to do what is best for Nathan, the son of our brother.

TUCHMAN (on camera): Do you think you should have said to Father Henry, "We don't really want you in the church anymore. You've had a child. Get a job. Take care of this woman and take care of your child. That's the best thing for Nathan. Not the church sending money. You taking care of him?"

Don't you think that would have been the right thing to do?

KARRIS: Well, there are broken families. There are families which...

TUCHMAN: But the church has no business of being ethical and humane. Wouldn't that have been the best thing for Nathan, for Father Henry to take care of his son?

KARRIS: It would have been the best thing. But that's not the reality.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): Barbara Blaine is the founder of SNAP. The group helps women who have had sexual relationships with priests. She says that the same pattern, for the truly faithful a priest has an exalted position. Victims are vulnerable because they offer unconditional trust.

BARBARA BLAINE, SURVIVORS NETWORK OF THOSE ABUSED BY PRIESTS: The church here is trying to protect themselves. And we believe that keeping secrets is what has enabled the abuse to go on for so long.

TUCHMAN (on camera): And you had discussions with your colleagues. Protecting the church was part of the reason you wanted to have this confidential agreement. Right?

KARRIS: That is part of the reason, yes.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): But he also says protecting Pat Bond and Nathan was another part.

(on camera) Was the church concerned about your son?

PAT BOND, HAD SON WITH PRIEST: Oh, no. No. Never, ever, not now, not then, not ever, no. They were concerned about getting us out of their life. And I guarantee you the day my son goes, the church will rejoice because he's...

TUCHMAN: Because he's what?

BOND: Because he's gone. TUCHMAN (voice-over): But Nathan is still fighting. He has a remarkable attitude.

NATHAN HALBACH, SON OF PRIEST: I just live my life as happy as I can during this time. And just have all the fun I have before that horrible stuff happens.

TUCHMAN: He hasn't seen his dad for many years.

So where is Father Henry? For the last four years he'd been a priest in this Ashland, Wisconsin, church, where he was extremely popular. His boss, this man, a bishop.


TUCHMAN: But the bishop has not punished Father Willenburg for fathering Nathan. He has taken action against him for another reason. Only last month the bishop suspended the father because of new allegations, that when he was having an affair with Pat Bond, he was also having relations with another woman while she was under 18.

(on camera) Because of the allegation that he had an affair with a minor, you decided you needed to suspend him?


TUCHMAN: And was there any other reason you suspended him?

CHRISTENSEN: No. That would be it.

TUCHMAN: The bishop says Father Henry denies any improper relationship with that woman when she was a minor. With the suspension, he's no longer at the church. No one seems to be able to tell us where he is.

We went to the Franciscan offices in St. Louis where he used to live.

(on camera) Is Father Willenburg here?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: As far as I've known, I have not seen him at all.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): But we had his cell phone number, and he did answer.

(on camera) The reason I'm calling you is we're doing a story about -- he hung up on me.

(voice-over) "The New York Times" did get a comment from him, Willenburg telling the paper, "We've been very caring, very supportive, very generous over these 20-something years. It's very tragic what's going on with Nathan."

(on camera) After Father Willenburg hung up on me, I called him back again, got his voice mail and left my phone number. I also left my phone number with one of his assistants inside the church. But he's chosen to remain silent with me. Silence from Henry Willenburg is painfully familiar to his son.

How do you feel about him right now?

HALBACH: It's -- it's hard. He's never really been around. He's popped up here and there throughout my life. But I've never, never gotten the full respect and love out of him that I always wanted.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): And now this painful discussion: what happens when Nathan dies? How to pay for his funeral?

BOND: They're question is having a staff, a visitation necessary?

TUCHMAN: But after we interviewed her, lawyers for the Franciscans wrote this. It says, "We will cover 100 percent of the expenses of Nathan's interment and monument/memorial expenses." And, they add, "Please advise if there is any additional assistance that the Franciscans can provide to Nathan at this time."

She hopes it means the Franciscans will pay for a part-time nurse at home for Nathan, because recently Pat learned she may not be able to take care of everything herself.

BOND: In June I was diagnosed with carcinogenic (ph) cancer.

TUCHMAN: But for now, she says, she must focus on her son. They've decided he will die at home.

Gary Tuchman, CNN, O'Fallon, Missouri.


COOPER: A lot of unanswered questions. We're digging deeper now. With us is William Donohue, president of the Catholic League, and Barbara Blaine, who you saw in Gary's report. She's the founder of the Survivors' Network for those Abused by Priests or SNAP is -- by the acronym.

Bill, what do you make of this? You say actually church officials were too generous in this case. How so?

WILLIAM DONOHUE, PRESIDENT, CATHOLIC LEAGUE: They were unwittingly generous, and they proved to be enablers. They helped out a troubled priest, who they should have held out a big stop sign to very early on. But with their delinquent decision making, they didn't.

And then they dealt with a troubled woman. We're not dealing here with Santa Claus and Snow white. We're dealing with a man and a woman who had a consensual affair. There are no victims here in that sense. But we're dealing with a church which is torn between the idea of moral standards and forgiveness and redemption. I understand the conflict. But at some point when the person is engaged in this serial (ph), one affair after another, they should have had the decency to call the priest in and say, "You can't go by your celibacy vow. We're going to help you, and we're going to help you reintegrate into society."

COOPER: It sounds like you're blaming the woman, in part, and -- when, in fact, I mean...

DONOHUE: She's not an innocent soul in this, no. She took the money for years.

COOPER: But can any relationship between a priest and a parishioner be consensual?

DONOHUE: Why shouldn't it be? I mean, why couldn't there be? I mean, after all, he didn't force it; there's no rape here. You can say it's illicit. I would say it's illicit. I'd say it was unethical what the priest did. But this woman is not Snow White here. She knew exactly what she's doing, and she...

BLAINE: That is so wrong, and that is so naive.

COOPER: Barbara?

BLAINE: That is so wrong. Here -- the relationship between a priest and a congregant is sacred. And there -- it's a power imbalance. The priest is in a position of power and authority. It's not unlike a doctor-patient or therapist-client relationship. Those are forbidden and illegal in every state.

And in many states, it's illegal for a cleric, a priest or a minister, to have sexual relations with a minister [SIC].

We have to understand that it's not as though -- that Pat met this man, Father Willenburg, at some bar or something. She met him looking for spiritual counseling when she was extremely vulnerable and wounded on a retreat weekend. So to say that this is not a power imbalance and that Pat is not a victim is totally wrong here.

And what we have is basically the church officials covering up for a predator. When, in fact, I agree with Mr. Donahue that those -- that the predator should have been removed from the priesthood a long time ago.

But let's not continue to blame victims.

COOPER: Shouldn't -- I mean, shouldn't this guy, this priest have, you know, stepped down, gotten a job and cared for his son? I mean, here's a man who...

DONAHUE: Yes, absolutely.

COOPER: Why should he be in a position where he's -- he's still counseling people?

DONAHUE: The church blew it. And -- the church blew it. And they had a guy now by the name of David Letterman over there who was involved in sexual harassment. And CBS did nothing about it. Look, this is not -- this is an anomaly. This is an anecdote...

BLAINE: But, David...

DONAHUE: Excuse me, miss. We're acting like as if this is some type of norm or something.

COOPER: Whoa, but...

DONAHUE: This is a strange case.

COOPER: But wait a minute. The church has a long record of moving priests who have been dealing -- have been having improper...

DONAHUE: As did Orthodox Jews and the public school teachers. We're learning more and more about it. There's a lot of dirt to go around. I find it interesting when the Catholic Church's dirty laundry, seems like the whole world wants to get a chunk of it.

BLAINE: You know, this is not about -- first of all, let's look at the fact that the Catholic Church officials have a different moral position in our world than someone like David Letterman or CBS.

And -- and the bottom line is that, for decades, these church officials have -- have sought secrecy from the victim and from the boy. They have been callous in -- in giving the bear minimum while, in fact, they themselves live in luxury and have every possible medical care for them.

They have the best education. They have beautiful retreat centers in luxury places all over the globe. And they go on retreats. And they have the time and wherewithal to do that.

Pat struggled to put nickels together to try to make ends meet to care for Nate. And she's done a beautiful job. Our hats go off to -- to Nate, because at this point in time in his life, the last thing on earth he needs to be doing is to care about someone else. And that's what he did today.

COOPER: It just seems stunning, Bill, that a priest who, you know, is counseling other people in their marriages and stuff has basically abandoned the little boy. Whether the church has fulfilled any responsibilities to the child or not is separate. But this guy hasn't even seen this kid in years.

DONAHUE: No. He's despicable. All right? He's delinquent.

And I guess my point is, you know, if the point is that we have a troubled guy here who took advantage of a situation -- but I will not buy the business of the one more victimized woman who didn't know what she was doing. But we do have a lousy situation here. What's the bottom line to be drawn from this? He didn't need to be treated. He was -- he had a natural influence over women. He needed to be counseled and told, "If you can't abide by your vow of celibacy, get out."

We have imams and we have rabbis and we have ministers who can't abide by their marital vow, and they cheat on their spouse. What are we going to do about that? And I think what's driving this is, is celibacy the question? Let's have an honest discussion about what's really driving it.

BLAINE: And let's be clear that Father Willenburg was using his position of power and authority and actually involved with three women at one time that Pat knew about.

And the bottom line is that today Nate has spoken out because he cares and wants to help other kids who were fathered by priests. And I think he is to be commended. And we are extremely grateful to Pat.

And now more than ever, anyone else who has information about Father Willenburg or any other predator should come forward and report the information you have. Father Willenburg might be in jail if we did that.

COOPER: But we certainly wish Nathan the best. And he's -- he seems like a great young man. And we certainly wish him well.

Barbara Blaine, appreciate you being on. And William Donohue, as well. Thank you very much. Appreciate it. It's a tough subject.

Up next, Sarah Palin in her own words. She goes one-on-one with Oprah Winfrey and tells all about that infamous Katie Couric interview during the campaign and whether she's inviting Levi Johnson, the father of her grandchild, to Thanksgiving dinner. I'm not holding my breath.

Also ahead, another interview you don't want to miss. Erica and I talk trash, among other things, with none other than Oscar the grouch. We'll be right back.


COOPER: Sarah Palin's new book is out next Tuesday. And her media blitz, promoting "Going Rogue," is already in full swing. And with it, a new dust-up with her former running mate.

According to the A.P., her book, "Going Rogue," alleges that the McCain team billed her for half a million dollars after the election, demanding she pay up for money spent during the vetting of her as the candidate.

Well, today McCain former adviser shot back, calling Palin's allegation, quote, "100 percent untrue." The adviser says the bills were, in fact, from her personal attorney who was representing Palin on a slew of cases. Palin taped an interview with Oprah Winfrey yesterday. It airs on Monday. We got an early look at their conversation, and it is worth a listen.

Former vice-presidential Candidate talked to Oprah about that infamous interview with Katie Couric, the one where the then-governor of Alaska rambled about foreign policy and had a hard time identifying what magazines or newspapers she read. Take a look.


KATIE COURIC, CBS NEWS ANCHOR: What specifically, I'm curious, that you...?

SARAH PALIN, AUTHOR, "GOING ROGUE": All of them, any of them that have been in front of me over all these years. I have a vast variety of sources where we get our news. Alaska isn't a foreign country.


COOPER: Oprah asked Palin about the Katie Couric encounter. Watch.


OPRAH WINFREY, TALK SHOW HOST: Did you think that was a seminal, defining moment for you? That interview?

PALIN: I did not. And neither did the campaign. In fact, that is why segment two and three and four and maybe five were scheduled. The campaign said, "Right on. Good, you're showing independence. This is what America needs to see. And it was a good interview."

And of course, I'm thinking, "If you thought that was a good interview, I don't know what a bad interview was." Because I knew it wasn't a good interview.


COOPER: Palin also talked about Levi Johnson, the father of her grandson, the former boyfriend of her daughter and soon-to-be "Playgirl" centerfold. The two have been slamming each other in public about their personal battle. It's been very ugly. Here's what Levi told "The Early Show" about their bitter war of words.


LEVI JOHNSTON, FATHER OF PALIN'S GRANDCHILD: They threw me out during the -- that came out that Sarah didn't really like me. I knew Todd didn't like me. I mean, so they were kind of training (ph) me, at the same time back stabbing me, you know, just putting on a front to make -- to make Sarah look good at the convention and everything else. And so I really don't care anymore.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you hurt by all this? JOHNSTON: I was, yes. Now it's just kind of like all right, well -- now it's my turn.


COOPER: Oh, Levi.

So Oprah asked Palin about Levi. And as you'll see, her answer may suggest a kind of olive branch, maybe. Here's what she said.


WINFREY: So one final question about Levi. Will he be invited to Thanksgiving dinner?

PALIN: You know, that's a great question. And -- you know, it's lovely to think that he would ever even consider such a thing.

Because, of course you want -- he is a part of the family. You want to bring him in the fold and kind of under your wing. And he needs that, too, Oprah. I think he needs to know that he is loved. And he has the most beautiful child.

And this can all work out for good. It really can. We don't have to keep going down this road of controversy and drama all the time. We're not really into the drama. We don't really like that. we're more productive. We have other things to concentrate on and do, including...

WINFREY: Does that mean, yes, he is coming or no, he's not?


COOPER: Stay tuned. As we said, it's only the beginning of the book tour. You can bet there's going to be more.

Meantime, let's get the latest on some other important stories we're following. Erica Hill has a "360 News and Business Bulletin" -- Erica.

ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR: Anderson, balloon boy's parents officially charged today for the hoax that captivated a nation. Richard Heene -- first, let's start with Richard. Richard Heene facing a felony charge of attempting to influence a public servant.

His wife Mayumi charged with false reporting to authorities. That is a misdemeanor. They're both expected to plea guilty.

Now, the deal, Anderson, will also keep Mayumi Heene in the U.S., because she's a Japanese citizen, and a felony conviction would have meant deportation.

Another 360 follow for you on stolen valor and the California man pretending to be a decorated Marine officer. Steve Burton pleading not guilty today to the unauthorized wearing of military medals. His trial is set for January. New rules to protect you from overdraft fees. The Federal Reserve will prohibit banks from automatically enrolling you in overdraft protection programs. You know, the ones that charge rather hefty penalties when your account is overdrawn? They let you do the charges anyway? Well now you'll actually have the choice to opt in. That new rule takes effect in July.

And check out this tantrum. The coach of the Louisiana Ice Gators, an independent ice hockey team, just getting going there. Also happens to be the owner and general manager of the team. Not sure if that's what motivated the team, but they did rally back from a 5-1 deficit. Not quite enough to win, though. They still lost that.

COOPER: He's like, all right. Come on, guys. Let's do it.

HILL: Yes, yes.

COOPER: Time now for our "Beat 360" winner. It's our daily challenge for viewers to come up with a caption better than the one we can come up with for a photo that we put on the blog every day.

So tonight's photo, the Jonas Brothers and Andrea Goush (ph) of Spain's Disney Channel -- not sure I pronounced her name right -- stand on the pitch during a visit to Madrid's premier soccer stadium.

Our staff winner tonight is Steve. His caption: "We could have won if Miley Cyrus hadn't gotten that red card."

HILL: I like it.


COOPER: The viewer winner is Brad from Wilberham (ph), Massachusetts. His caption: "Never having a real childhood, the Jonas Brothers contemplate this round sphere before them and wonder what it could possibly be."


HILL: Quite clever, Brad.

COOPER: Congratulations. Your "Beat 360" T-shirt is on the way. I like that one.

Up next, celebrating 40 years of "Sesame Street" with a visit from none other than Oscar the Grouch. And he's grouchy.


COOPER: What is Elmo like to work with?



SPINNEY: Yes. I find him truly annoying.


COOPER: Elmo annoying? More from Oscar's trip to 360 coming up.



COOPER: Tonight, we welcome a very special guest to 360. He loves children and he loves trash. Although he may be grumpy at times, he's always lovable. Oscar the Grouch is with us to celebrate the 40th anniversary of "Sesame Street."

Oscar, welcome.

SPINNEY: No, never welcome a grouch.



COOPER: How do you -- how do you say hello to a grouch?

SPINNEY: You say, "Beat it."

HILL: Well, beat it, Oscar.

COOPER: This is Erica Hill.

SPINNEY: Hey, I'm in love.

HILL: I love you, too, Oscar. This is going to work out very well.


COOPER: It's the 40th anniversary of "Sesame Street." You know, I actually visited "Sesame Street" when I was a kid. And somehow I have aged dramatically and yet you seem to retain a youthful glow.

SPINNEY: Well, yes, it's the fine habit of good food, good eating.

COOPER: Good eating. That's good to know.

HILL: Do you get all the good food from the trash can? Or...

SPINNEY: No, I actually like some things that grow naturally, you know, for instance, I enjoy some asparagus with sardines and cold gravy.

COOPER: Ew, gross.

HILL: That sounds look a lovely combination.

SPINNEY: Am I making your mouth water?

COOPER: So any big events happening over on "Sesame Street"?

SPINNEY: Well, you know, we're going healthy. Healthy and green.

COOPER: Going green? Well, you've been going green for a while now.

SPINNEY: I have. Yes, I'm -- it's been noted that I used to be orange. And that's true. Actually if, I took a bath, I'd still be orange.

COOPER: Really?

SPINNEY: But this is moss.


COOPER: Do you watch a lot of news, Oscar?

SPINNEY: I try not to.

COOPER: You try not to. Why?

SPINNEY: Well...

HILL: Even though you've got your own news network?

SPINNEY: Yes, well, I have to report a lot of the news. But it's mostly of interest to grouches.

COOPER: Right. You have other correspondents. You have Walter McCranky.

SPINNEY: Yes, I do.

COOPER: And Dan Rather Not.

SPINNEY: Dan Rather Not. Yes. Every time I send him on assignment, he says, "I'd rather not."

COOPER: Yes, he's very difficult to work with.

SPINNEY: Yes, he is.

COOPER: I've worked with him. It was -- it was tough. Do you use a BlackBerry at all?

SPINNEY: No, I have -- I have a blueberry.

COOPER: You have a blueberry? You like the blueberry better?

HILL: Is it one you found on the street?

SPINNEY: It doesn't work anymore. HILL: So you weren't just born a grouch. You really had to cultivate it.

SPINNEY: Well, it does run in the genes. But my mother and father are both extreme grouches.

HILL: Do you have any brothers or sisters?

SPINNEY: Well, I have my cousin, George, Smiling George. But every family has got a -- a black sheep.

COOPER: All right. Oscar, every night on this program Erica and I do something called "The Shot," which is a funny piece of video or something which people would enjoy. So is it all right if you do "The Shot" with us tonight?

SPINNEY: Yes, I can give it a shot.

HILL: He's quick.

COOPER: All right. So here's the video. A New Jersey man didn't know it, but when he threw out the trash, he actually threw out his wife's wedding and engagement rings. The couple's been married for a long time, 55 years. Even before "Sesame Street" was on the air.

So he talked to a sanitation worker and with their help began digging through lots of trash. They carried away ten tons of trash, to be exact.

HILL: Wow.

COOPER: Look at that. And guess what? After -- after sifting through all the garbage, he found the rings. And his wife is happy to have them back.


HILL: Is that like your dream to get to sift through that much garbage? Ten tons. Can you imagine the treasures in there?

SPINNEY: That lucky guy, having a chance to go through ten tons of trash and getting a reward at the end. His wife will speak to him again.

HILL: Exactly.

COOPER: Well, Oscar, thank you so much for being with us. And congratulations on the 40th anniversary of "Sesame Street."

SPINNEY: All right. Well, I'll accept that. I want to say you to, Coop and you, Erica, have a rotten day.

HILL: Thanks, Oscar. We appreciate it.

(END VIDEOTAPE) COOPER: I like him when he's grouchy.

HILL: Yes.


HILL: He was actually -- he was mildly grouchy. I thought he'd be a little grouchier.

COOPER: Well, I think he was sleeping. Because you know, it's late in the night for him.

HILL: It is. It is a little late for him. He does a morning show.

COOPER: He does have a morning show. He's got to get up early.

I didn't realize that Oscar is actually 43 years old.

HILL: Forty-three and, as he mentioned, too, was originally orange. But he's covered in moss now.

COOPER: For the first year he was orange. And then technically, he still is orange; he's just covered with moss. I did not know.

HILL: Fun facts.

COOPER: Ahead at the top of the hour, "Keeping Them Honest." The Fort Hood shooting suspect and more missed warning signs. We'll be right back.