Return to Transcripts main page

Campbell Brown

Officials Investigate Pentagon Shooting; Anti-Government Violence on the Rise?

Aired March 05, 2010 - 20:00   ET


JESSICA YELLIN, CNN ANCHOR: Hi, everybody. Campbell Brown is off tonight. I'm Jessica Yellin.

New and disturbing news about the man who shot two police officers outside the Pentagon last night. That tops our "Mash-Up." We're watching it all, so you don't have to.

The Pentagon shooter had a long history of mental problems, according to authorities in his home state of California. Now, court records show John Patrick Bedell suffered from bipolar disorder. He is believed to be the same man who repeatedly posted a anti-government rants online.


BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Bedell's own Internet postings indicate a deep-seated mistrust of the government.

JOHN PATRICK BEDELL, KILLED AT PENTAGON: As the power of the government increases through encroachments on private property, the moral values of individuals and communities are increasingly attacked.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And he was apparently consumed by a get-rich- quick scheme which he advertised on YouTube.

BEDELL: Hi. I'm happy to have the opportunity to talk with you today about information currency..

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And by conspiracy theories. One of his blogs suggested the government was behind the 9/11 attacks.

STARR: It was essentially a suicide mission, one his parents and police said today was fueled by mental illness and marijuana. Bedell was once considered a brilliant engineering student at San Jose State University.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Pentagon, police and the FBI are convinced tonight that Bedell acted alone, and there is no indication that this act was an act of terrorism.


YELLIN: The two officers wounded in last night's shooting have been released from the hospital. In Iraq, voters are choosing this weekend among 6,200 candidates running for parliament. It's the first nationwide election in the country in five years, and it's literally a matter of life and death.

A dozen people have already been killed in insurgent attacks tied to the vote.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: From these elections, Iraqis want the same things they wanted five years ago, things they say the current government failed to deliver, basic services, jobs, and security, all problems the next government will inherit, along with many more.

Among those who may be picked to find solutions to those problems is Ayad Allawi, a former prime minister and secular Shia whose coalition includes powerful Sunni parties. They are now challenging the Shia parties in power. Experts say sectarian divisions have paralyzed parliament and rendered it unable to pass critical legislation. And that stalemate could impact security in Iraq.

And with U.S. forces scheduled to be out of Iraq by the end of next year, American troops may not be around to play peacemaker between Iraq's warring factions, Sunnis, Shias, Kurds, who must take on the current challenges.


YELLIN: A nighttime curfew is in effect in cities this weekend and civilians will not be allowed to carry weapons on those days.

Another day, another resignation from Congress. This time, it's Representative Eric Massa, a first-term New York Democrat who says he's stepping down.


BLITZER: We learned today he will resign on Monday amid an ethics investigation that's now under way. All this isn't making the lives of Democratic leaders any easier.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Democratic Congressman Eric Massa announcing he is quitting Congress as he comes under investigation for sexually harassing two male aides.

REP. ERIC MASSA (D), NEW YORK: Now, do I use salty language? Yes. And I have tried to do better.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who famously promised to drain the ethics swamp in Congress, didn't seem to want to wade into the Massa situation.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: You know what? This is rumor city. Every single day, there are rumors. I have a job to do.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Earlier in the week, it was Charlie Rangel.

REP. CHARLES RANGEL (D-NY), House Ways and Means Committee Chairman: I have this morning sent a letter to Speaker Pelosi asking her to grant me a leave of absence.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The powerful chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee was forced to resign amidst allegations of unpaid taxes, illegal gifts and shady corruption.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: The Democrats are in a bad spot when they're reduced to arguing that our corruption is not as bad as their corruption.


YELLIN: And since last October, 15 Democrats have either left the House or announced they're not running for reelection.

On unemployment now, the news is not exactly what most people would call good, more like not as bad as it could be. Yes, unemployment held steady at 9.7 percent, but we still lost 36,000 jobs last month.


BLITZER: President Obama is trying to put the best spin possible on new unemployment numbers. Here's what he said while visiting a small business in Virginia.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This is actually better than expected, considering the severe storms all along the East Coast. The measures that we're taking to turn our economy around are having some impact.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Manufacturing has come back to life and exports are booming. Even things you might not expect to matter are pointing to recovery. Americans feel free enough again to spend at casinos, even to dry-clean their clothes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For the sixth straight month now, we have seen strong growth in temporary hires, a sign businesses need more workers.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But some fear the temp jobs are coming at the expense of permanent hiring, as employers wait to see if the economic recovery is real.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They would rather bring somebody in on contract or on temporary basis than to go through the entire layoff process all over again.


YELLIN: Economists say the pace of job loss has slowed to nearly the lowest level since the recession began in December 2007. Now to a home video that's nothing short of a miracle, Jaycee Dugard speaking out for the first time since the end of her 18-year kidnapping ordeal. Phillip and Nancy Garrido, her abductors, are awaiting trial. Meanwhile, Jaycee is making a new life with her family. Here they are from "Good Morning America."


TERRY PROBYN, MOTHER OF JAYCEE LEE DUGARD: On behalf of my daughters, Jaycee and Shayna, and my two awesome granddaughters, we would like to thank you for all the love and support you have shown us these past few months.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Terry Probyn, mother of Jaycee Dugard, making a heartfelt plea to supporters.

PROBYN: It is my desire to share our miracle with the world, but it must be done on our terms. What my family needs is privacy during our the healing process.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Progress has been meaningful. Jaycee has gotten a driver's license, and though basically self-educated all these years, she's completing her GED and is hoping to attend college.

The highlight of the tape is when Jaycee Dugard, the woman who was silenced for so long, speaks for itself and shows, not only is she alive, but that she is a survivor.


YELLIN: Wow. Jaycee and her family are living in seclusion in California.

And, finally, the "Punchline" tonight courtesy of Jimmy Fallon explaining the intricacies of the latest extreme sport.


JIMMY FALLON, HOST, "LATE NIGHT WITH JIMMY FALLON": There's a new trend in skydiving called skyaking. You ever heard of that? Yes, it's where people jump out of planes in a kayak, or as Southwest would call it, a connecting flight.



YELLIN: Is that real, skyaking? That was Jimmy Fallon and that's the "Mash-Up."

Well, first, it was the IRS building attack in Texas, now the shoot-out near the Pentagon. Should we all be worrying about more anti-government violence in the nation? We have some answers for you just ahead.


YELLIN: For the second time in a month, anti-government rage has turned deadly. A few weeks ago, a Texas man irate over taxes flew his plane into an IRS building in Austin, killing an IRS employee and himself.

Today, a California sheriff said a man who shot and wounded two police officers outside the Pentagon last night had a history of mental health problems. John Patrick Bedell also appears to have posted anti-government tirades on the Internet.

So, with me tonight, former FBI Assistant Director Thomas Fuentes, who is also a CNN contributor, and Daily Beast columnist John Avlon, the author of "Wingnuts: How the Lunatic Fringe is Hijacking America."

Thank you both for being here.

And, John, let me start with you. There was a report released this week from the Southern Poverty Law Center detailing what they call an increase, a dramatic increase in militia and so-called patriot groups during the first year of the Obama administration, the IRS building attack, the Pentagon. Are we seeing a trend?

JOHN AVLON, AUTHOR, "WINGNUTS: HOW THE LUNATIC FRINGE IS HIJACKING AMERICA": This is just the latest elements of this growth.

They have tracked -- the Southern Poverty Law Center has tracked the growth of 42 militia movements last year to over 127 this year, so we have seen a massive growth in the first year of Obama. And these two attacks, the IRS attack and this, can be seen as part of a massive effort, even -- beginning last year, the death toll started to increase, three Pittsburgh police officers shot and killed in April, two Florida sheriff's deputies.

What is important about this case to remember is a few things. One, this guy is obviously very mentally disturbed.

YELLIN: Right.

AVLON: And, second of all, he is not affiliated in any formal way with right-wing militia movements. He appears to be just someone who has really internalized a lot of conspiracy theories, the 9/11 truth movement who believes the buildings were demolished from the inside.

YELLIN: Operating on his own.

AVLON: That's exactly right. So, this guy doesn't seem representative of the right wing, as much as the fright wing of American politics.

YELLIN: The fright wing. We will come back to that.

Tom, I would like to ask you, because you have this FBI background, does it matter to the FBI whether a person like the Pentagon shooter is part of a larger movement? How would they investigate that sort of thing?

TOM FUENTES, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Yes, Jessica, of course it matters.

If there's others out there, it's the best way to predict that there will be additional attacks is to identify anybody that -- an individual like this might be involved in. If he's acting completely alone, has mental health problems, maybe is watching some of the broadcasts of other killers on TV and becoming inspired as a result of that, that's one thing and it's very dangerous.

But obviously it's a much greater danger factor if there's conspiracies out there, if there are groups out there, and this is something the FBI and other law enforcement agencies would be very closely following.

YELLIN: At this time, they will be investigating that, is your prediction right now?

FUENTES: Well, they are investigating that very extensively right now.

And I just spoke with an official at FBI headquarters a few minutes ago who stated that, 24 hours after the incident, there is still no other co-conspirator identified with this attack.

YELLIN: OK. Good to know.

John, you have argued that it would be a mistake to categorize people involved in anti-government groups as part of a right-wing fringe movement or a right-wing movement at all. Explain why.

AVLON: Not uniformly. In this case, very clearly, this guy's writing shows much more anger at Bush and Cheney, for example, than President Obama. He doesn't seem to be suffering from Obama derangement syndrome as much as Bush derangement syndrome.

But there is a constant anti-government tone throughout his writings, again, the 9/11 conspiracy theories. He writes about JFK conspiracy theories. And there's a whole murky world on the Internet that has emerged of these conspiracy entrepreneurs, who are kind of stirring the crazy pot every day. And the problem is, sometimes, they hit on people who are very unstable.

YELLIN: Let me put to Tom, too.

Tom, is there another reason why we might see the rise of extremist anti-government groups right now, other than a reaction to President Obama? Is there anything else happening that would explain that to you?

FUENTES: Well, I think the copycat aspect of it. If one shooter commits an act and gets worldwide fame as a result of it, it can inspire others to do the same thing, and possibly for the same reason.

But if you have delusional people out there who think the government is out to get them or other groups are out to get them, and they're already very mentally disturbed, and yet they have access to weapons, we're a free society, they're not institutionalized for any length of time, so we have a lot of dangerous people roaming the streets freely, carrying weapons.

And it's kind of like trying to predict an earthquake. You know it's going to happen. You know there's a fault line, but you don't know when the crack is going to occur.

YELLIN: Thank you so much, Tom Foreman, John Avlon for being here, scary, but glad the FBI is keeping an eye on it.

All right, this week, massive crowds turned out around the country to protest deep cuts in public education. Up next, we will take you to a California school where the situation is so dire, the principal says he's losing half his staff every year.


YELLIN: Across the country this week, thousands of angry protesters took to the streets to rail against public school cuts and tuition hikes. Tensions have really boiled over in California. The state is facing a $20 billion shortfall and has severely cut all levels of education spending.

As our Ted Rowlands reports, nowhere are those cuts being felt more than at one Los Angeles school.


TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Markham Middle School sits across the street from a housing project in Watts. Children here have to deal with days like this. Two suspected gunmen police were chasing from the neighborhood might be hiding at the school, so the campus goes on lockdown for two hours, as officers with guns drawn go room to room.

All of this is happening while we're at Markham doing a story on how California's budget mess is hitting this school harder than most. As dramatic as the lockdown is, the everyday problems inside the classrooms here are much more serious.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're going to continue the notes from yesterday.

ROWLANDS: Thirteen-year-old Sharail Reed says she likes her eighth-grade history teacher, Mr. Minning (ph), but isn't sure how long he will be around. Mr. Minning is the 10th person to teach this class since school started in September, 10 teachers in six months. Many of them weren't there long enough to even learn the children's names.

(on camera): Do you feel like you're learning anything in that class?

SHARAIL REED, STUDENT: I feel like we learn some things, but we go over the same things over and over. I learn something, then I learn it again, and I fully understand it because somebody comes the next day and teaches it over.

ROWLANDS: The reason Sharail is on her 10th teacher stems back to last year, when the eighth-grade history teacher lost his job because of budget cuts. This school has been hit incredibly hard. In fact, 50 percent of the teachers at this school last year lost their jobs.

(voice-over): Teachers at Markham are younger than at other schools and layoffs are done by seniority. Principal Timothy Sullivan says replacing the teachers who were laid off, the ones who actually wanted to be here, is near impossible.

TIMOTHY SULLIVAN, PRINCIPAL, MARKHAM MIDDLE SCHOOL: I'm going to lose 50 percent of my staff every year. And there's nothing the union can do about it. There's nothing the district can do about it. There's nothing the state can do about it, unless they change the funding formula.

ROWLANDS: Sullivan says the formula of laying off teachers by seniority may seem fair to teachers, but it's killing his school.

English teacher Nick Malvoin was laid off and had to come back as a permanent substitute for himself.

NICK MALVOIN, TEACHER: We see a lot of young people who want to come to schools like Markham and communities like Watts, and we're actively not letting them. So, I think that we do need to change the system.

ROWLANDS: The ACLU and others have filed a lawsuit to ask the courts to change the system before the next round of expected layoffs.

CATHERINE LHAMON, PUBLIC COUNSEL LAW CENTER: The kind of decimation of school sites that we saw last year and that we may see again this year is absolutely, categorically unacceptable, and it's a direct result of a broken school finance and governance system in the state that needs to be fixed.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Good morning, Sharail.

ROWLANDS: Sharail, who gets straight A's, says she wants to be a lawyer someday.

REED: And I'm in eighth grade. So, you have to start early. You have to start focusing and learning all that you need to learn and getting good grades and doing what you're supposed to do.

ROWLANDS: She also deserves a legitimate opportunity to succeed, and that includes a school with teachers who want to be there and are able to stay.

Ted Rowlands, CNN, Los Angeles.

(END VIDEOTAPE) YELLIN: Well, last night, we reported on student protests that took place in California yesterday. Students rallied across the state in Los Angeles, San Diego, and Oakland, just to name a few cities.

There were also demonstrations in Berkeley. In showing video of the day's events, we inadvertently showed file tape of a protest at Berkeley from last year. We regret the error.

And still ahead tonight: the problem of holding trials for accused terrorists. Is the Obama administration about to change plans again?


YELLIN: New developments tonight in the long-delayed terror trial of the alleged 9/11 mastermind, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.

White House officials tell CNN he may face a military tribunal after all. Just last November, recall, Attorney General Eric Holder announced the trial would be in New York City and in a civilian court. so, what triggered the flip-flop?

That's a question for CNN's senior legal analyst, Jeff Toobin, and "TIME" magazine editor at large Mark Halperin, who is in Austin.

Thanks, gentlemen, for joining us.

Jeff, let's start with you. Please, lay this out. Military tribunals have jurors, have an advocate representing the defendant, have evidence. In what way is it different from a federal case, from a federal trial, and why the controversy?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Well, the difference is in part the location. They can be held on military bases. They don't have to be held in a civilian jurisdiction, big issue when security is important.

Also, the jurors in a military tribunal are military people, not civilians. And there are evidence differences. And it is somewhat easier to get a conviction in a military tribunal under the rules that have been set up.

YELLIN: But the president has said, look, this isn't -- we want to uphold the rule of law.

So, how would a military tribunal not be upholding the rule of law by some people's definition?

TOOBIN: Well, because no one has had a military tribunal in a serious case in decades. No one knows precisely how the system would work.

YELLIN: It's the unknown.

TOOBIN: It's the unknown. And, also, President Obama in the campaign often and early, through much of his presidency, has said, look, we're capable of treating these criminals like any other criminals, not setting up a special system for them.

YELLIN: In a civilian court.

TOOBIN: And they -- Holder announced that it was going to be in a civilian courtroom, but all hell broke loose in New York.

YELLIN: Well, let's talk to Mark about the politics of this flip-flop.

Mark, just going back in 2006, Senator Obama voted against the law establishing military tribunals. In 2008, candidate Obama called them a flawed military commission. And then he said that they shouldn't be used for Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.

So, how much of a hit will he have politically for this flip- flop?

MARK HALPERIN, SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST, "TIME": You can't overstate, Jessica, the political significance and peril here, not just for Barack Obama, but for the Democratic Party.

This comes at a bad time. He needs all of his political focus on health care. The reason this is so sensitive is, any time there is a debate in this country between balancing national security and our tradition of civil liberties, the country tends to lean I think primarily towards national security, particularly after 9/11.

It takes a lot of political capital and a lot of explanation to convince the country, you know what, security can be maintained, and we need to be true to our traditions. That's where the heart and the head of Barack Obama has been, as you said, throughout his time in national life.

The challenge for him if he does make this change is how he appeases the people on the left. And I'm not even sure he will appease the people on the right. He could find himself once again, as he does so often these days, in no-man's land, in the middle, with people angry at him on both sides.

YELLIN: Well, let me ask you, Mark, what is the backstory? Why did they ultimately make this change? Or they haven't quite made it, but it's...



HALPERIN: They haven't made it yet, but, if they do, it's I think clearly because of the political pressure, not just from Republicans in Washington, who have said that this shows the president's weak on national security, but local officials, this NIMBY problem of Mayor Bloomberg in New York and other local officials saying we don't want the trials held in civilian courts in our city, in our state.

It's a lot of political pressure. And a lot of Democrats, who again care about just the pure politics of it, see in public opinion polls, the results of the Massachusetts election, where these issues of how to deal with terror was part of Scott Brown's victory, they see political peril there, and they're pressuring the president to say, don't put the Democratic Party on the side of seeming weak on national security in the face of some of these defendants and some of these alleged terrorists.


TOOBIN: Well, the opposition to civilian trials is so great and so widespread now, there is a real possibility that, if the president says, we're going to do it anyway in a civilian court, Congress could simply pass a law denying funding for it, which would extend the controversy.

And there is no place to put a civilian trial now, whereas a military tribunal could be put on a military base. Norfolk, Virginia, is one possibility. That would really be very secure.

YELLIN: Or Gitmo, keeping them at Guantanamo Bay.


TOOBIN: That, I don't think they're...

YELLIN: Really?

TOOBIN: They can do a different military location. To do it in Gitmo would be, symbolically, so much a repudiation, that I don't think that is going to happen.

YELLIN: They couldn't do it, politically. OK.

HALPERIN: Jessica, you already heard, even before a decision was made, people on the left saying, this shows the president is weak and can be rolled on security.

So, if he does switch -- Jeff is right, the politics is going to force a switch, but there's going to be a big backlash on the other side.

YELLIN: It's a great discussion.

I wish we had more time. Guys, thanks for being with us, Mark Halperin, Jeffrey Toobin.

Coming up next: Tasers, they are used all over the country to stop criminals in their tracks. Could they be doing permanent damage? One man says yes. And he's filing suit. That's ahead.


YELLIN: They're a routine part of law enforcement, the taser weapon. Officially it's not a gun. It's called an electronic control device and it's not even regulated as a firearm. Taser International says more than 1.8 million people have been tasered, but the weapon itself is now coming under serious scrutiny. Here's Dan Simon of CNN's special investigations unit.


DAN SIMON, CNN SPECIAL INVESTIGATIONS UNIT CORRESPONDENT (voice- over): We met Steve Butler on a Tuesday afternoon, not usually an important detail.

(on camera): Do you know what day of the week it is?


SIMON: I can tell you today is Tuesday.

BUTLER: Tuesday. OK.

SIMON: This is 2010.

(voice-over): Doctors say Butler has almost no short-term memory.

(on camera): Who's the president?

BUTLER: Obama? Barack Obama?

SIMON: That's right. Who was president before Barack Obama?

BUTLER: I don't know, Kennedy?

SIMON (voice-over): It wasn't always like this until October 7, 2006. That's when Butler took a bus ride through Watsonville in northern California.

(on camera): The ride was anything but smooth. When the bus pulled into the station, the cops were called. According to police, Butler was drunk and belligerent and refused to get off. He even challenged the responding officer to a fight.

(voice-over): And that's when it happened. That much he knows.

BUTLER: It had to be something for me to get tased, so I got tased. I don't know why. And it's, I guess, it's messed up my memory.

SIMON: To bring Butler under control, the police officer indeed fired his taser, striking him in the chest.

(on camera): This here is taser's consumer version that you can buy at any number of stores. The company says it utilizes the same technology in the weapons used by police. It works by pointing a laser beam which is embedded in the taser at the target, then pulling the trigger.

(voice-over): According to the police report, three separate jolts of electricity went through Butler's body. When it was all over, he was in full cardiac arrest, not breathing. Paramedics revived Butler, but his brain was deprived of oxygen, leaving him permanently disabled. His brother now takes care of him.

DAVID BUTLER, VICTIM'S BROTHER: Once a moment is gone, it's gone. He can't remember any good times, you know, birthday parties, Christmas, any event.

SIMON: Steve Butler and his family filed a lawsuit not against the police, but against the maker of the weapon, Taser International. It's the first time the company has been listed as the sole defendant in an injury case.

(on camera): Can a taser cause cardiac arrest?

JOHN BURTON, BUTLER FAMILY ATTORNEY: Oh, absolutely, no question about it.

SIMON: Why do you say that?

BURTON: Because it's happened to a number of people and these cases are very clearly documented.

SIMON (voice-over): Attorney John Burton says he has data showing that tasers, when fired at the chest, can cause fatal heart injuries. And he says the company has known about it for several years.

(on camera): How long has taser known that these weapons can cause cardiac arrest?

BURTON: Well, we can prove that they must have known by early 2006, but we suspect that they had all the necessary data in 2005 since they were funding the study.

SIMON (voice-over): This is the study he believes proves his case. Published in early 2006, the study funded by Taser focused on taser pigs with a conclusions, quote, "generalized to humans." The authors wrote that being tasered is unlikely to cause cardiac arrest, but recommended taser darts not be fired near the chest to quote, "greatly reduce any concern for induction of ventricular arrthymias." In plain English, says heart expert Dr. Douglas Zipes, who is being paid to testify against taser, it means there is concern about tasers causing cardiac arrest in some cases.

DR. DOUGLAS ZIPES, CARDIOLOGIST: I think taser has been disingenuous and certainly up to 2006, the case we're talking about, taser said in their educational materials that there was no cardiac risk whatsoever, that taser could not produce a heart problem. There was no long-lasting effect from taser.

SIMON: A taser spokesman e mailed CNN saying it would not comment on any ongoing litigation. But in a court filing seeking to dismiss the suit, the firm said the taser devices, quote, "are repeatedly proven safe through testing, including on human volunteers in controlled medically approved studies." And there's no evidence tasering of people induces cardiac arrest. But the company has significantly changed its recommendations for how tasers should be used. (on camera): Taser put out a directive last year telling the tens of thousands of police officers who used the device to no longer aim for the chest area. Instead they should go for the back, the legs or the lower pelvis. But cops, they're not trained to do that. They're trained to go for the biggest target area: the chest.


SIMON (voice-over): Even taser supporters who say any death by taser is rare realize officers nationwide will now have to change their thinking.

CHIEF GEORGE GASCON, SAN FRANCISCO POLICE: With a firearm, we teach their people to shoot center mass. We want to shoot the largest portion of the body --


GASCON: The center mass. It's the torso area. It's this area right here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So their instinct is to go for center mass, and then all of a sudden when they pull the taser, they have to recalibrate their thinking instantly.

GASCON: Well, my source of instinct is it's a training process that we have been trained to do so. With a taser, we're obviously going to have different training protocols.

SIMON: As for Steve Butler, greeting the mailman now is a highlight of his day.

BUTLER: What's up? How are we doing?


SIMON: He doesn't dispute that he was drunk, but he blames taser for what happened to him. He says he's not frustrated or even angry, just resigned trying to spend the rest of his life trying to remember what happened.

Dan Simon, CNN, Watsonville, California.


YELLIN: San Francisco's police chief, who you saw there in Dan Simon's report, now says he's given up on the idea of arming officers with stun guns. On Wednesday, the city's police commission voted 4-3 against drafting a policy for their use.

And after CNN first reported this story, Taser International, which had previously declined all comment, sent us what it called a fact sheet about the Steven Butler case. The company said the 2006 taser study we quoted produced no cardiac arrests in animals. While the company says cardiac arrests in people are rare, taser insists it does not claim a zero possibility of cardiac arrest. Taser also claimed that Steven Butler had a preexisting heart condition and that his blood alcohol level made him vulnerable to cardiac arrest. Butler's medical and legal teams told CNN he had no documented heart problems and that alcohol levels played no role in his cardiac arrest.

Next, when the U.S. sends people to take care of disaster victims, are we also exporting our own fears and emotional hang-ups? In a minute, we'll meet a man who complains that we're making the rest of the world crazy like us.


YELLIN: Just think about the disease as we in the media make famous. Anxiety, sex addiction, food fear. The list could go on and on. Well, now, one man claims we're exporting our fears and anxieties to other countries when we send in trauma counselors to help victims of catastrophes, for example. Are we making them crazy like us?

Ethan waters wrote the book on this. It's called "Crazy Like Us" and Ethan joins me now.

Thanks for being with me. A fascinating topic. Let me ask you straight up, the U.S. exports a lot, bad movies, McDonald's, but you say we export mental illnesses. If something like anorexia is hardly contagious, how could you claim we export it?

ETHAN WATTERS, AUTHOR, "CRAZY LIKE US": Well, there is a contagious aspect to these diseases. You know, we tell the rest of the world how to think about these diseases, how to categorize them, how to treat them, how to use drugs to treat them, and in the process because culture and mental illness are actually connected, it matters a great deal how you think about a mental illness in terms of how you end up expressing it. So in the process of teaching the rest of the world to think like us, we're actually homogenizing the symptom pool by which people express their internal distress.

YELLIN: OK, so let's get specific. You said that the U.S. has helped the increase of anorexia in Hong Kong, and a post-traumatic stress disorder in Sri Lanka. Explain specifically how the U.S. is responsible for those diseases there.

WATTERS: Well, it's very clear that psychological stress after a trauma like a tsunami is universal. But then culture comes in and it tells you how it is going to be shaped. What you expect to happen next will matter a great deal in what symptoms you express. So when we rush into another culture after a tsunami or now in Haiti, with a checklist to say these are the symptoms you should be looking for and these are the ways you should be healing, we're actually oftentimes shaping the experience of those people who are suffering at the same time we think they're treating them.

YELLIN: So you're saying that's when mental -- when mental illness experts went to Sri Lanka after the tsunami, they brought their ideas of PTSD have brought that there.

WATTERS: Exactly.

YELLIN: How could we in the U.S. have helped the growth of anorexia in China?

WATTERS: Well, that happened after a single death in 1994. Anorexia was really nonexistent there before in the late '80s, early '90s. And then one woman died on the downtown street and the media in Hong Kong had to explain what had happened to that woman. And basically that moment they imported the western notion of this disease.

This was into a very nervous time in Hong Kong's history. Lots of things were changing. This was after Tiananmen Square and before the handover to British rule, and into that moment in time came this notion that eating disorders were in the symptom pool at that time. And it was after that the publicity around that one death that you suddenly saw the rise of anorexia. So it's very easy to understand that it could come in diet trends or exercise fads, but it also comes -- you know, it can also go across cultures on the ideas that surround these illnesses themselves.

YELLIN: You said something fascinating in an article I read, that the U.S. trauma counselors rush into countries sometimes without good intentions -- with good intentions but without taking the local culture into consideration, and you made the parallel to if Shamans came in after Katrina, if they came to New Orleans and spread their thinking, we would think that's very odd.

WATTERS: That's right. If you turn the scenario around, what if after 9/11 or Katrina, suddenly on the plane the next day came the Shamans from Mozambique to help people, you know, sever their relationships with their dead relatives or something like that, it would seem culturally insensitive and strange, especially these people didn't speak the language or know anything about us. But we think because our ideas, we think of them all as scientific, as modern, that it makes perfect sense for us to do the opposite. And in fact, things like PTSD, and things like depression and anxiety are very much shaped by cultural understandings here in the West. They are to an extent culture bound and they do not make very much sense when they get taken to another place, especially on 10 days' notice into a disaster zone.

YELLIN: Clearly, though, there is some benefit to taking trained professionals to these areas for help, so what's the solution?

WATTERS: Well, I think the solution is not to redraw cultural boundaries. I mean, globalization is an unstoppable force. These ideas are going across cultures. But I think we can hope that the ideas about mental health and mental healing can actually go both ways because other cultures have a great deal to tell us about the nature of the human mind and the nature of mental health, and hopefully that we won't erase the differences that are out there before we have a chance to learn from those illnesses.

YELLIN: All right. All right. Fascinating topic. Ethan Watters, thanks so much for joining us.

WATTERS: Thank you.

YELLIN: And coming up, the envelope, please, and maybe a little sunshine, too. Right now, tents are covering the famous red carpet the stars are going to be walking on Sunday night. Yes, it's supposed to rain this weekend. Will all those fancy gowns and tuxes get wet? Will Brad and Angelina bump into Jen on the red carpet? Oh, also, yes, who will win? We're going to handicap the Oscars up next.


YELLIN: For the first time in decades, the Oscars have 10 nominees for best picture. What's up with that? We'll have a special preview coming up, but first, more must-see news happening right now.

Randi Kaye is here with today's "Download." Hey, Randi.

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, there. How are you?

General Motors is offering 661 of its dealers a chance to stay in business. When it was in bankruptcy last May, GM said it needed to close 2,000 dealerships nationwide by this coming October. About half of them appealed, and today GM has been calling the lucky 661 an offering and a stay of execution.

The Department of Homeland Security is starting to deploy full body imaging scanners at 11 more airports across the country. The first of the new units are being installed today at Boston's Logan Airport and are scheduled to be operational on Monday. Chicago's O'Hare, LAX, San Diego and Charlotte are among the airports that will have the scanners by the end of the summer.

Police say the burial of a dead dog could have meant the dog owner's own funeral. A Georgia man was digging a grave in his backyard when the shovel hit a metal object which he tossed aside. Well, it turned out to be a live hand grenade. He realized what it was when he was filling in the hole and called 911. No one knows how it got there.

And finally, is there such a thing as a skinny shark? Well, yes. When its jaws then opened, a couple of divers found the shark lying on the bottom of the sea off West Palm Beach, Florida. You see it there. That's the emaciated shark. It had a large plastic ring around its neck which apparently prevented it from eating. One diver came up from behind, grabbed the ring and removed it. Both divers got away safely.


KAYE: That must be one hungry shark.

YELLIN: Right? Are you one of these people like that swimming with sharks?


YELLIN: I could never --

KAYE: That's a shark who diet though. I see that -- it could be the future. YELLIN: It looks like it --

KAYE: Yes.

YELLIN: Maybe that --

KAYE: The next big diet.

YELLIN: OK. Thanks, Randi.

KAYE: Sure.

YELLIN: All right. "LARRY KING LIVE" starts in just a few minutes. And coming up next, the Oscars predictions in a couple of minutes.


YELLIN: Sunday night is Oscar night with 10 -- yes, 10 nominees for best picture. Who will win? Who should win? Who's even seen all 10? Not me.

Now joining us, Sharon Waxman of and Michael Yo from "E! News."

Thanks to both of you for being here. I'm sure you've seen all 10 of the movies, but Michael, let's start with you. Why 10 nominees for best picture? Why are they keeping speeches shorter? What's the story this year?

MICHAEL YO, "E! News": The 10 nominations because they just felt like more movies should be brought up to the forefront. As far as why the 10 nominations, that's the reason for that. But what I do like about this year's show, which is awesome, Adam Shenkman(ph), what he's doing is, they did a research study and they show that people don't identify with them going through their laundry list of thank yous. What people identify is what personal stories, what personal experience -- tell me how you're feeling right now. So they're going to have a thank you cam in the back so you won't be doing that long list of thank yous. And on stage they're asking the winners to be more personal. So I'm excited about that. I think that's a great change for the show.

YELLIN: Wow. So they've already advised them on what their speeches should be like. That's a lot of pressure.

Sharon, let me --

SHARON WAXMAN, THEWRAP.COM: They actually -- they actually do that every year.

YELLIN: Really?

WAXMAN: They beg them, beg them, beg them --

YELLIN: Before the -- WAXMAN: Not to thank their agents. Oh, yes. They've had that cam which is going online for people who can't get enough thank yous. You can watch it online. But on camera --

YELLIN: So they know they should be doing that.

WAXMAN: Yes, they do. Every year the same speech and every year somebody pulls out the A-list of agents, managers and publicists.

YELLIN: OK, Sharon, let me talk about the movie that's getting the most buzz right now or some of the most buzz. It's Kathryn Bigelow's film "The Hurt Locker."


YELLIN: There is some controversy because in the last week or so, some members of the military have said it's not fully accurate. Isn't this what happens with every movie? We know it's a movie. It's not supposed to be a documentary.

WAXMAN: This is not meant to be a documentary, and what usually happens is when you have a front-runner, which "The Hurt Locker" has been because it's just gotten every award practically through the season, it does attract controversy. So it's not only attracted controversy over whether it's an accurate depiction of the lives of armed -- our soldiers in Iraq but also has attracted a federal lawsuit by the real sergeant on whom Jeremy Renner's character was based.


YO: But I will tell you this.

WAXMAN: And he's saying -- yes, so that's --

YELLIN: But Michael, how does that compare in stack against the fact that Kathryn Bigelow, the director, would be the first woman to win in this category and there seems to be a real desire for a woman to win?

YO: No. Anybody that upsets Kathryn, I think, is a huge upset. For her to be the first director, first woman director, female director to win an Oscar is absolutely huge, and if anybody else -- besides, you know, James Cameron, of course, is in it. If he won or anybody in that category were to beat her, I think it would really take away from the night. But the big controversy that I think will take "The Hurt Locker" out of the running for best picture is the controversy of the producer writing e-mails to the Academy asking people basically to vote for them, saying we're not "Avatar." We're the small movie. So I think that's going to hurt "The Hurt Locker" because if they did win, the next day it's scandal. Oh, the e-mails are the reason is why they won. So I think the Academy is going to stay away from that and that's why I think it will go to "Avatar."

YELLIN: The other drama there, of course, is she, Kathryn Bigelow is the ex-wife of James Cameron who's up for "Avatar." But we'll skip that one. It's just a little intrigue. Let's get to your picks because I know amazingly, you both picked the same folks to win in the same category. So let me start with you, Michael. Who's your pick, who's also Sharon's, for best actress?

YO: Best actress, Sandra Bullock. I mean she was amazing in "The Blind Side." You know, with all due respect to Meryl Streep, I mean I know the industry loves her, but I think it's Sandra's year. She actually took off three to four years not to make a movie because she wanted quality.

YELLIN: OK. We got to keep it moving.

YO: And I think she came with it.

YELLIN: Let me ask you, Sharon, best actor. One sentence on why, who and why.

WAXMAN: Oh, Jeff Bridges. Everybody loves him in the Academy. Don't forget this is high school. This is -- you know, you vote for your friends. You vote for the most popular guy. Jeff Bridges gave a fantastic performance as kind of a washed-out alcoholic, country singer in "Crazy Heart" and just sort of came from behind in the last minute. And people would love --

YELLIN: Michael, best picture, which and why?

YO: Avatar, because I think "The Hurt Locker" hurt its chances with the producer. That's why "Avatar."

YELLIN: OK. And we know you both --

WAXMAN: I still think it's a split. I mean, it could go either way. I think absolutely it could still go either way.

YELLIN: OK. And you're both for Kathryn Bigelow for best director because you think she's the best or because you think she's going to win?

YO: I personally think she's going to win because of the night. I think it would take a lot away if she didn't win.

YELLIN: All right.

WAXMAN: All of the indications are, given all the previous that she won the DGA, the Directors Guild, she's going to win. People want to see her win.

YO: Absolutely

YELLIN: OK, Sharon, I've got one other question, which is, I know that in the gift bags -- we're not going to go through everything that's in it -- but the nominees get an African safari with a personal chef and a trip to Monte Carlo in the gift bags among everything else? Do you have to pick the African safari or the trip to Monte Carlo? Or you get both? WAXMAN: I haven't gone all through the gift bags this year, but you probably get both. I think if you're -- yes, if you're a nominee, generally, anybody who wants anything that's in the gift bag, take like to say yes.

YELLIN: OK. Thanks so much.

To the people who need free stuff, they get the most.

YO: Yes.

YELLIN: Thanks to both of you for being with us.

WAXMAN: Correct.

YELLIN: And we are going to all be watching that, of course, on Sunday night.

And our "SHOWBIZ TONIGHT" host A.J. Hammer and Brooke Anderson will be live from the red carpet on CNN. As if you need a reminder, that's Sunday night, 7:00 p.m. Eastern for "SHOWBIZ TONIGHT" "Road to Gold." Live coverage continues at 11:00 p.m. Eastern on HLN.

That's all for now. Thanks for joining us.

"LARRY KING LIVE" starts right now.