Return to Transcripts main page
ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Airliner Vanishes Over Atlantic Ocean; Abortion Provider Gunned Down
Aired June 1, 2009 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Tonight, breaking news: American spy satellites now directing their view onto the South Atlantic, looking not for threats to the country, but signs of what became of 228 men, women and children on board a passenger jet, two Americans included among the missing.
We have just learned they are Michael and Anne Harris. He worked as a geologist for an American oil exploration company. They had been living since last summer in Rio de Janeiro. That is where the plane departed from, where Air France Flight 447, that plane right there, departed last night from Rio, then vanished, likely crashed into the Atlantic about three hours en route to Paris.
No distress call from the Airbus 300, only signs of rough weather and warning signals from the plane's computer. Whatever happened, there's late word that rescuers will not be anywhere near the suspected crash site until Wednesday.
Brian Todd is working the breaking story for us tonight. He has the news -- Brian.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, it's going to be a daunting task just to find the rough area where this plane has gone down, because it's such a massive area that they have to search.
It is called the Intertropical Convergence Zone. It's essentially where the North Atlantic meets South Atlantic off the coast of Brazil there, a little bit north of that peninsula you see there.
The -- this is a zone where the -- the trade winds from the Northern Hemisphere and Southern -- Southern Hemisphere meet. And what that -- why that is significant here is because it -- it spawns thunderstorms, the kinds -- the kinds of thunderstorms that are rarely seen anywhere else in the world.
Experts have told us this is where hurricanes start. This is where a lot of horrible weather systems begin. And there was turbulence in the area. There could very well have been a massive thunderstorm in that area, which could have spawned a lightning strike, or several, that could have affected this plane and how it went down.
Now, what experts are telling us is that lightning strikes are very common, that every aircraft usually gets one at least once a year, that it is not an event that would bring down a plane. Essentially, they say that lightning goes essentially through the plane. It -- it goes in like a wingtip or -- or part of a tail and goes out the other side, and it is not usually a catastrophic event.
But, in one case, you could conceivably have something that could affect the electrical system of the plane. And they said that this could have been an electrical malfunction. And that is because this is a fly-by-wire system in the Airbus 330, this kind of plane that has gone down.
It is essentially a system where the cockpit sends signals to computers, then through wires to things like the flaps and the rudders. And that could have complete -- completely broken down here. Lightning could have gotten into the plane. The energy could have essentially disabled the electrical system of this plane. And it could have provoked some kind of catastrophic failure.
But experts will say that that could be just one possibility here. It could be a cascade of events, either as a result of that kind of thing or leading to that, that could have brought this plane down -- Anderson.
COOPER: All right, Brian, we're going to have more later on in the program as develops warranted.
Brian, thanks very much.
We have new developments tonight in a murder that is also an act of domestic terrorism, the murder of Wichita, Kansas, abortion provider Dr. George Tiller, gunned down yesterday in church in front of his wife.
U.S. marshals are now protecting some clinics nationwide on orders of Attorney General Eric Holder. And all across the country tonight, there are candlelight vigils. You're looking at pictures of a gathering in Washington across the street from the White House.
President Obama has condemned the killing, while acknowledging how profoundly Americans differ on abortion.
On the other end of the spectrum, anti-abortion activist Randall Terry condemning the killing, but saying Dr. Tiller was -- and I quote -- "a mass murderer who reaped what he sowed."
And this from a close acquaintance of the suspect: "He" -- meaning Dr. Tiller -- "was a rat. And he needed to be killed."
More on the suspect shortly.
First, Gary Tuchman on the victim and the dangerous life he chose.
Gary joins us now at the crime scene in Wichita -- Gary.
GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, tonight, it's very quiet outside this beautiful Lutheran church here in Wichita, Kansas. But, exactly 36 hours ago in this very spot, there was much chaos, confusion, and terror. Dr. George Tiller was standing inside the church just behind those doors. A gunman walked in, fired one shot at him, killing him.
Eyewitnesses say the gunman then came out of the building, walked into the parking lot, got into his vehicle and drove off.
Later in the afternoon yesterday, police captured a suspect. His name is Scott Roeder. He will be charged with murder. He's expected to be in court for his first appearance as early as tomorrow.
But, for Dr. Tiller, who had many narrow escapes over the years, he wasn't able to do the same this time.
TUCHMAN (voice-over): George Tiller was a doctor. He was also a warrior. He had been shot once before, had been threatened countless times, had his clinic bombed. He rarely did TV interviews. He was vehement in 1991.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, 1991)
DR. GEORGE TILLER, ABORTION PROVIDER: I have a right to go to work. What I am doing is legal. What I am doing is moral. What I am doing is ethical. And you're not going to run me out of town.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TUCHMAN: Out of necessity, the abortion provider had elaborate personal security, but not when he went to church.
DAN MONNAT, TILLER FAMILY SPOKESMAN AND ATTORNEY: I couldn't believe that someone in Kansas would assassinate Dr. Tiller for the things that he believed in.
TUCHMAN: Dan Monnat was a close friend and also Dr. Tiller's attorney, and he's stunned.
(on camera): Do you think Dr. Tiller was scared?
MONNAT: If Dr. Tiller was scared, I never saw it for a moment. I saw his fear for his patients. I saw his fear for his family. I never saw him flinch about himself.
TUCHMAN (voice-over): In 1991, five years after a pipe bomb exploded outside his clinic -- no one was inside -- thousands of protesters converged at Tiller's office for seven weeks of demonstrations. More than 2,500 people were arrested. Two years later, Tiller was shot in both arms while driving out of the clinic parking lot.
MONNAT: But, despite all that, he refused to yield women's rights to scare tactics. TUCHMAN: Instead of running, Tiller dug in. Security is elaborate at the clinic, a moat, tall fences. It was like working under siege.
(on camera): Dr. Tiller's office here in Wichita looks like the fortified building and the bunkers I have seen in Iraq and Afghanistan, because, in essence, his office has become a bunker. There are no windows whatsoever. It looks like a military installation, "no trespassing" signs throughout the property, cameras, like this one, keeping an eye on the steady stream of protesters who have come here through the years.
And what kind of things do the protesters do? Well, it gives you an idea right here. If you look at the curb, one protester recently wrote "babies killed here" in chalk, and the message continues on the curb down the street.
Randall Terry is the founder of the anti-abortion group Operation Rescue.
RANDALL TERRY, FOUNDER, OPERATION RESCUE: The thought of him leaving this life with blood on his hands for having killed so many thousands of children, and not having been prepared to meet his maker, is a dreadful, terrifying thought.
TUCHMAN: Dr. Tiller's friends do their best to ignore the words of people like Randall Terry.
NICKI GAMBLE, ABORTION-RIGHTS ACTIVIST: Underneath all of these individual actions, there is a conversation and a dialogue that goes on about abortion that hasn't been very health -- healthy or respectful, because I worry that that's another potential killer on the prowl.
TUCHMAN: In Dr. Tiller's hometown, there are many people horrified about what happened.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't believe in abortions, but I don't think nobody has the right to take a life.
TUCHMAN: Though not everyone agrees.
(on camera): How do you feel about what happened to Dr. Tiller?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think he got what he deserved. I really do.
TUCHMAN (voice-over): And, at least for now, Dr. Tiller's clinic is closed.
COOPER: So, what is going to happen to that clinic? Are there other doctors who work there who -- who perform abortions?
TUCHMAN: Well, Anderson, Dr. Tiller was the owner of the practice. He would make the decisions.
But there are other doctors who work there, other staff members. We have talked to friends of Dr. Tiller, also abortion rights activists, who say it's incomprehensible that this practice would not stay open.
COOPER: All right, Gary Tuchman on that -- thanks very much, Gary.
Dr. Tiller practiced at one of just three clinics in the entire country that offered late-term abortions, a procedure rarely done, but highly controversial. His clinic and others, as Gary just mentioned, looks -- well, looks more like Fort Knox right there in Gary's piece.
In a moment, we're going to talk to another doctor who performs abortions, because we want to find out what it's like operating under constant threat. His name is Dr. Warren Hern. He runs the Boulder Abortion Clinic in Boulder, Colorado. That's him, not ashamed of the name.
He does, however, take extreme precautions. They had a shooting there in the 1980s. Now there's bulletproof glass on the windows. He doesn't want the windows, shown out of security concerns, nor could we show you -- show you the four-doors you need to go through in order just to get inside the building. Dr. Hern comes in a different way.
He told our producer he's lived for the last 35 years expected to be shot either outside the clinic, at home, or elsewhere because of what he does.
He joins us now.
Dr. Hern, I guess the obvious question, if you -- if you worry about being shot and expect being shot any day at work, at home or elsewhere, why do you continue to do what you do?
DR. WARREN HERN, DIRECTOR, BOULDER ABORTION CLINIC: Well, first of all, thank you for inviting me. It's a very important question. I have thought about it a lot.
HERN: I have to say that it really comes down to the fact that, at one point, I decided that performing abortions was the most important thing I could do in medicine, and that I do it because it matters.
And it matters for the health of the woman, for the health of her family, for health of our society, and now it matters for freedom, because Ronald Reagan tried to make abortion a political crime against the state.
And we have had -- while the -- Dr. Tiller was a very good friend of mine, a wonderful man, a very courageous and dedicated physician. And his -- his -- his assassination is a terrible, terrible, unspeakable loss for his family and friends.
COOPER: When -- when you heard he had been shot, did -- did -- did you...
HERN: But I think that the -- but I think the important point I would like to make is that the assassination of Dr. Tiller was not the act of a lone, deranged gunman acting alone.
This is the result of 35 years of anti-abortion harassment, and terrorism, and hate speech, and rhetoric, and harsh names, and exploitation of the -- of the abortion issue as a political issue to get power. And this is the inevitable result of this kind of hateful behavior by the anti-abortion movement.
COOPER: You're painting with a very broad brush, though, the anti-abortion movement. There are many in the movement who today say they -- they abhor what the suspect did.
That's hypocritical nonsense. These people got exactly what they wanted. They have been trying to get the doctors killed. They have celebrated the -- the assassinations of the doctors. They make shrines of it. The assassins are natural heroes in that group. And you heard one guy say that Dr. Tiller -- he thought Dr. Tiller got what he deserved.
Unfortunately, there are a lot of people that think that. Women -- Abortion is -- is an essential component of women's health care in this country. And it's essential to their health.
And the president of the United States needs to get up and say that before a national television audience, needs to tell them the anti -- that we will not...
COOPER: Well, let me...
HERN: ... tolerate anti-abortion violence and -- and harassment and terrorism. And we need to...
COOPER: Let me -- let me ask you about that, because -- because Barack Obama, then I think candidate Obama, in the past has said that he has problems with -- with late-term abortions. And -- and many people who are pro-choice, you know, even have problems with it. Some critics say that many of these operations are elective.
Why do you defend that procedure? Why do you perform that procedure?
HERN: Well, in the first place, the correct phrase is late abortion. There are term deliveries and there are late abortions.
The many women who come for late abortions, in fact, have desperate circumstances with a desired pregnancy. They want to have a baby, not an abortion, but the -- the -- the pregnancy is fatally or -- or catastrophically complicated by medical problems. And it's the best thing for the woman to end the pregnancy. It's a matter of saving her life.
COOPER: And -- and...
HERN: And nobody is able to make that decision except the woman, in consultation with her physician.
COOPER: I want to ask you something that is often cited and used by those arguing against that procedure.
They say that there was a Dr. Haskell who once gave an interview who said that 80 percent of the late abortions that he performed were elective.
Do you see a lot of women electing, not for out of, you know, genetic problems with -- with their -- their -- their fetus, but because of -- of other reasons; they just decide late in the term -- late in the pregnancy they don't want to have a baby?
HERN: Well, in the first place, I can't speak for Dr. Haskell. He can speak for himself.
But I think that what I see is an incredibly complicated situation. These are very difficult and painful decisions for the women. And they're under tremendous stress. And, many times, these pregnancies are threats to their lives.
And I think that even people that have all the information have a difficult time making a decision about this. So, the thing is that nobody is better prepared to make this decision than the woman, in consultation with her physician.
And people need to back off and understand that this is a -- first of all, having safe abortions available is a major public health issue. And we have solved it in the 20th century. We're going backwards now, and that this is a major medical problem for women.
And a -- pregnancy is not a benign condition. Women die from being pregnant.
COOPER: When -- when you heard...
HERN: And the -- and, many times, a late abortion is a life- saving procedure.
COOPER: When you heard, finally, that Dr. Tiller was killed, what -- what first went through your mind?
HERN: I was -- I was horrified.
COOPER: I mean, he had been shot in both arms before.
HERN: I was horrified.
Dr. Tiller is a very good friend of mine. I have known him for 35 years. We worked together. We spoke together. We have spoken together on platforms, in -- and medical meetings across the world. He's a very kind and generous physician and a wonderful person. And we -- we had a very close friendship.
And his wife called me to tell me about this, and she was just devastated. And I was profoundly sad.
COOPER: Are you scared, appearing on television?
HERN: Well, look, I'm -- I'm speaking to you -- and I appreciate your interest in this subject -- because I feel that, in a free society, it's what we have to do.
We need to talk about issues, and not use bombs and bullets. And we need to use language that is respectful, instead of the hateful hate language of the anti-abortion movement, which is often used by legitimate so-called journalists, like William Saletan, Ellen Goodman, and Chris Matthews.
COOPER: We're going to leave it there.
Dr. Warren Hern, I appreciate your perspective. I appropriate you being on the program. Thank you.
COOPER: Thank you.
Let us know what you think, obviously, a lot of people on different sides of this issue -- issue. Join the live chat happening right now at AC360.com.
Up next: the suspected killer and his chilling past, one that included a bust for carrying explosives.
Later: The camera caught a pharmacist shooting a robber. The question tonight, was it self-defense or vigilante murder when he put a bullet in his head? How about after the guy came back moments later and shot him five more times? We have got the facts. You can decide for yourself.
And later, former Vice President Dick Cheney, is it possible that he's more progressive on gay marriage than President Barack Obama? Well, perhaps. We will tell you what it is he said. We will talk about it with blogger and author Andrew Sullivan -- tonight on 360.
COOPER: Police in Wichita have a man in custody tonight, Scott Roeder. He is being held on assault and suspicion of first-degree murder. He has a long involvement with radical abortion-rights opponents. He also has a criminal past, having been arrested 14 years ago with a carload of explosives and other tools of terrorism.
So, why didn't he do time?
Tonight, Randi Kaye is "Keeping Them Honest."
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A significant threat to safety of the community -- that's how a judge described Scott Roeder more than a decade ago, long before he was ever suspected in the assassination of a Kansas abortion doctor.
It was 1996. Roeder's car had been stopped in Topeka. Authorities said they found inside bomb-making equipment, a military rifle, ammunition, and a gas mask.
(on camera): So, "Keeping Them Honest," why was this guy on the street? He pleaded not guilty and was sentenced to two years probation for criminal use of explosives. But his lawyer argued on appeal his car had been illegally searched, and won. In 1999, the case was dismissed, Roeder a free man.
(voice-over): His ex-wife did not want to show her face, but says she remembers his plans.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was to blow up an abortion clinic.
KAYE: Today, the 51-year-old Roeder is being held on suspicion of first-degree murder and aggravated assault.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He was determined that -- that -- that, if the abortion doctor killed the baby, then he didn't have any right to live either.
KAYE: This anti-abortion activist has known Roeder for more than a decade.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Anybody that's concerned about the innocent lives of -- innocent lives of innocent children probably has the capability of doing something like this. It was not murder. It was not assassination. It -- it was the best thing that could have happened for George Tiller, and it's the best thing that could have happened for those babies that were scheduled to be murdered at his hand.
KAYE: Anthony Leak (ph) says Roeder has been protesting abortion clinics for years. Still, he says he's gentle, kind and happy-go- lucky, also a religious man.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He was a confessing Christian. And he always had his Bible, and -- which wasn't uncommon. He -- he professed faith in Jesus Christ.
KAYE: Roeder was arrested about three hours after the shooting while driving this Ford Taurus.
(on camera): If he did kill Dr. Tiller, could authorities have seen this coming? A couple of years ago, a man calling himself by that name posted messages on the Web site of the anti-abortion group Operation Rescue.
One about Dr. Tiller read, "He needs to be stopped before he and those who protect him bring judgment upon our nation." Another posting refers to Tiller's clinic as a death camp.
(voice-over): He was also believed to be a member of the now- defunct Montana Freemen, an extreme Christian anti-government group.
In a statement, the suspect's family told "The Topeka Capital- Journal," he "suffered from mental illness" at various times in his life. They never saw him as a "person capable of or willing to take another person's life."
But a different picture may be emerging -- that of a cold-blooded assassin, haunted by hatred for a doctor, maybe even bold enough to kill him inside his church.
Randi Kaye, CNN, New York.
COOPER: Well, coming up tonight, you're going to meet a woman who fears for her life from radicals in the anti-abortion movement. She gets death threats because of the hardest decision she says she's ever made, to end her pregnancy late, instead of giving birth to a baby with fatal birth defects.
Also tonight, what happens when lightning hits an airliner? The breaking news tonight, the search under way for Air France Flight 447. Could lightning have brought down that plane? We're going to talk to a pilot, an aviation expert. We will have the latest on that search.
And later, why Andrew Sullivan, who's got nothing kind to say about Dick Cheney usually, now has something kind to say about Dick Cheney.
We will be right back.
COOPER: Well, the killing of Dr. George Tiller, a leading abortion provider, is a story about numbers, the people behind them, and the excruciating decision some of them face.
According to the CDC, more than 800,000 abortions were performed in 2005, which is the most recent reporting year. Just a fraction, 1.3 percent, or about 8,400 of those abortions, occurred at 21 weeks or more of pregnancy.
Thirteen years ago, Lynda Waddington, a wife, a mother, and a Sunday school teacher, was expecting her second child. Twenty weeks into her pregnancy, she learned the fetus she was carrying had a profound birth defect. The fetus' brain and skull were missing. Multiple doctors told her the baby had no chance of surviving outside her body. She had an abortion.
Lynda Waddington joins me now on the phone for an exclusive interview.
Lynda, first of all, what's your reaction to the -- the murder of Dr. Tiller?
LYNDA WADDINGTON, HAD A LATE-TERM ABORTION: My gut reaction is just sadness.
To think that someone who had helped me in such a horrible time in my life, an event that most likely saved my own life, could be gunned down and killed for that is just surreal and profound.
COOPER: And the reason we're talking to you on the phone is, you didn't want to appear on camera. You're allowing us to use your name, but you're fearful about appearing on camera.
Why? Have you received threats in the past?
WADDINGTON: Correct. I have -- nothing recently, but emotions are running very high, I think, on both ends of the spectrum, after Dr. Tiller's death. And I have young children at home.
COOPER: The -- as you know, the -- the argument against, you know, late abortions is that it's tantamount to murder of a fetus that could be viable outside the womb.
You say it's clearly just not that simple. Explain.
WADDINGTON: Well, I think those who are anti-abortion have been very successful in painting a picture of who I am and who other women are who have late abortions.
And it kind of ticks me off, because it's not accurate. I mean, supposedly, I'm just a person who woke up one day and had a back pain or a leg cramp and decided to have an abortion.
And that definitely wasn't the case. This was a pregnancy that was planned, a pregnancy that was wanted and loved. And it was tantamount to having a loved one on life support and making that decision whether to end the life support or not.
COOPER: You wrote a letter last summer to then candidate Barack Obama. And you took issue with his position on late-term abortions, which -- which, at that time, he said that states should be able to restrict or -- or prohibit those -- those procedures, as long as there's an exception for the health of the mother.
Why do you think he's wrong? I mean, why -- why should it be more than just the health of the mother?
WADDINGTON: No, I -- I don't think that statement is necessarily wrong, in as much as I wonder who gets to decide what those health concerns are.
I mean, there are some people who believe that pregnancy, if God wills it, should be a death sentence for women. There are other people who believe that terminal defects, like I experienced, should be allowable to terminate a pregnancy.
But there are other people, you know, who want to cut that line off at depression, women who are suicidal. I don't think that's a decision government should ever be making, ever.
COOPER: That is the argument you hear probably most often from even some people who support abortions in general, that -- that, if it's just the mental health of the mother, the depression of the mother, then that's not a legitimate enough reason.
Do you -- and you say, that's -- that's not true; that's inappropriate.
WADDINGTON: I do believe that's inappropriate. I think that's a decision that the mother and the doctor and the family should be able to make on their own.
We wouldn't look at someone suffering from cancer and say that you're too depressed to make your decisions regarding your family and your life. Why do we put that on women?
COOPER: We're going to have to leave it there.
Lynda Waddington, appreciate you being on the program tonight by phone. And thank you very much for speaking with us.
WADDINGTON: Thank you for having me.
COOPER: We should point out we posted Lynda's open letter to then candidate Barack Obama on our Web site. You can read it at AC360.com.
And a lot of people adding in on the Web site right now at the -- join the live chat. Let us know what you think.
The breaking news next in the big mystery we're following tonight -- what happened to Flight 447, lost at sea? We will have the latest on the search for the plane, the passengers and answers.
Did lightning actually cause the catastrophe? That picture is just incredible. That's not the plane, but that's what it looks like when lightning strikes an aircraft, just unbelievable. We will tell you the effects lightning can have on a plane. We will have new details also on the timeline of the final hours of the plane, what we now know.
Also ahead tonight, a story that you're probably going to be talking about, videotape of an alleged robber shot dead by a pharmacist. The pharmacist is now charged with murder. The question is, did he go too far, or should he be hailed as a hero? You can decide for yourself after seeing the tape.
And then, the deer, the dash-cam, and the amazing close call for one police officer. Take a look at that.
We will be right back.
COOPER: We want to update you now on our breaking news, the search for Air France Flight 447 and the search for answers.
Exactly what happened to the jet over the Atlantic? Sadly, at this point, we don't know. This is a picture of the missing airliner. It's an Airbus 330. It left from Rio de Janeiro, carried 228 people on board, including, now we know, two Americans, Michael Harris and his wife, Anne. That's them there. He worked as a geologist for an American oil exploration company. And they had been living in Rio de Janeiro.
They were bound for Paris. The plane left last night at about 7:30 p.m. Eastern time. It was supposed to be a 10-hour flight. Around four hours after takeoff, something went wrong.
We know Flight 447 encountered a violent band of thunderstorms in an area that's prone for unstable weather. The Brazilian air force says the plane was traveling at an altitude of 35,000 feet at the speed of 521 miles per hour when it simply vanished from radar.
Now, the last known contact was about 10:33 p.m. Eastern Time. The jet experienced heavy turbulence, sent out several automatic messages, reporting several pieces of aircraft equipment, where falls were broken down.
Now, there was also some reports that Flight 447 was struck by lightning. This is video of a different plane, but experts say it is extremely rare for a strike to actually cause a crash. It looks incredibly dramatic in these pictures right here, but planes actually can adjust to it.
So what exactly do we think at this point went wrong? With us now is aviation expert John Hansman.
John, according to the Aviation Safety Network, there's only been one other fatal accident for this type of plane. Nothing of this magnitude. What do you think happened?
JOHN HANSMAN, AVIATION EXPERT: Well, obviously, we don't know at this point. We're trying to piece together the information that we have.
As you said, we know that the airplane went through some thunderstorms about 15 minutes before they got the reports of the equipment failure on board. So that there's some possibility there's a link to the storms. There's also a possibility...
COOPER: What -- what can a storm do to a plane?
HANSMAN: Well, there are a couple things that you worry about with thunderstorms. One is just the severe turbulence you can get in thunderstorms. So that could have caused something to break inside the airplane or some structural problem.
In those photographs you saw of lightning strikes are dramatic. The airplanes are designed so that the electricity actually flows through the outside of the airplane, and it shouldn't hurt the electronics inside, although there's some possibility you could have gotten a voltage surge and wiped out some of the computers.
This airplane is a fly-by-wire airplane, so it actually flies on computers. So that if you had a massive electrical problem...
COOPER: So fly-by-wire, I'm sorry, what does that mean? It means, like, automatic pilot?
HANSMAN: It means that the pilot's controls are not directly connected to the aircraft controls. It actually just sends a signal to the computer, and the computers on board actually drive the flight controls.
There's multiple computers, so there's a lot of redundancy, but if you had a massive failure on the aircraft, that could be a problem. And then there's also possibility of things like hail in the storms.
COOPER: A plane flying -- flying at this altitude -- I mean, 35,000 feet, I guess, was the last known altitude, I mean, I don't want to be maudlin, but the chances of it landing safely in the ocean are minimal.
HANSMAN: Well, again, it depends on what the problem was. You know, if you had engine failures and you ran the airplane out of gas and still had good control of the airplane, there's a reasonable chance you could land it in the ocean, although at night in, you know, in heavy seas, it's tough.
So that would be a problem. But again, we don't know exactly what happened to the airplane. It appears that it was relatively quick. Otherwise the crew would have been able to get on the high- frequency radio and give out a mayday call.
COOPER: Well, also, I mean, why -- don't planes have some sort of signal device or homing device? Why do we not know where this plane is?
HANSMAN: So there are actually two types of homing devices. There are what we call emergency locator transmitters. They broadcast radio signals, but that only works if the airplane's above the water.
The black boxes on the airplane actually send out acoustic or sonar pinging signals. But they can only be heard if you're actually relatively close to the airplane underwater. So it's out in a big ocean right now, so until we get some localization, we won't know.
COOPER: All right. Professor John Hansman, appreciate your expertise. Thanks, Professor.
Coming up, a young robbery expert shot, killed by the pharmacist he allegedly tried to rob. Some are calling the pharmacist a hero. Others, he's a cold-blooded murderer. All of it caught on tape. You can see the tape, decide for yourself.
First Erica Hill has a "360 News & Business Bulletin" -- Erica.
ERICA HILL, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: Anderson, General Motors today officially filing for bankruptcy protection. The car giant will receive another $30 billion in federal aid. And in return, taxpayers will have a 60 percent stake in the company.
GM said it will close 14 more plants and also is looking to shed 21,000 additional jobs and 2,600 dealers.
Another example of domestic terrorism today, another assassination. In Little Rock, Arkansas, 21-year-old Hakim Mujahid Muhammad formerly known as Carlos Bledsoe, he's charged with acts of terrorism and capital murder in the shooting of two U.S. soldiers outside a recruiting center. One of the victims died. Authorities believe the alleged shooter acted on his own.
And in Indianola, Iowa, a near miss on a busy thoroughfare. You don't see that one every day. Probably the cop not expecting a deer to leap over his hood, because who would ever expect that to happen? A surveillance camera was rolling, though. Luckily no damage to the deer or the car.
COOPER: How do they know there was no damage to the deer?
HILL: The deer ran off, I guess.
HILL: So he didn't stop.
COOPER: All right. Maybe he was arrested later for questioning.
If you have thoughts on any of the stories that we're covering tonight, join our live chat happening now at AC360.com. A lot of people talking on the blog about the story so far tonight.
Just ahead, Obama versus Cheney round two. Author, blogger Andrew Sullivan joins us to tackle the intriguing question: is former vice president, Dick Cheney more progressive than President Obama on the issue of same-sex marriage?
Also ahead tonight, caught on tape, an attempted robbery turned deadly. Was it self-defense or murder? Did a pharmacist facing two armed teens go too far? You can see the tape and decide.
Plus, some extraordinary pictures of a legend in the making. Never-before-seen photographs of Marilyn Monroe, taken 59 years ago when she was just 24. We'll be right back.
COOPER: In a statement today, President Obama recognized June as Gay Pride Month and listed the measures he supports to give equal rights to gay Americans. Marriage was not among them.
Despite Mr. Obama's written statement of support today, many gay and lesbian activists are angered by the president's lack of action on a number of issues important to them. Meantime, former vice president, Dick Cheney, was out on the speaking circuit again and had this to say about same-sex marriage. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DICK CHENEY, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Freedom means freedom for everyone. And as many of you know, one of my daughters is gay. And it's something that -- that we've lived with for a long time in our family.
I think people ought to be free to enter into any kind of union they wish, any kind of arrangement they wish. The question of whether or not there ought to be a federal statute that governs this, I don't support.
I do believe that, historically, the way marriage has been regulated is at the state level. This has always been a state issue. And I think that's the way it ought to be handled today. That is, on a state-by-state basis. Different states will make different decisions. But I don't have any problem with that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: To some, including Andrew Sullivan, author, blogger and senior editor for "The Atlantic," Mr. Cheney's words actually sounded more progressive that the president's.
Andrew Sullivan joins me now.
Is he more progressive on gay marriage than the president?
ANDREW SULLIVAN, SENIOR EDITOR, "THE ATLANTIC": I probably wouldn't go that far. I mean, actions speak louder than words. And this man was part of an administration that really tried to pass a constitutional amendment to ban all marriages. And he did nothing to prevent that happening. He's never...
COOPER: He's more vocal now than he was then.
SULLIVAN: He's not really vocal. He's asked a question and he answers it. He's never done anything serious to promote the rights of his daughter. And he's never made any argument to a group that could possibly be affected by this. He didn't use the word "marriage," if you notice, in that -- in that clip. And he's never used the word "marriage."
I mean, he keep -- his own daughter is in a state, Virginia, which has the most draconian measures preventing her and her spouse from having a family unit protected under law.
OBAMA: Well, what about President Obama? Today he issues this thing. He says, "I've joined efforts. The United Nations should decriminalize homosexuality around the world. Here at home, continue to support measures to bring the full spectrum of equal rights to LGBT Americans." He goes on to enlist -- you know, enacting hate crimes, supporting civil unions and federal rights for couples, outlawing discrimination in the workplace, ensuring adoption rights, and ending the existing "don't ask, don't tell." Has Obama actually done anything?
SULLIVAN: No. This is -- this is his campaign platform.
COOPER: This is it right here.
SULLIVAN: He's reiterating it. Like, how many months? Five, six months we're into his administration.
Look, they say they're working on it. They say they're working hard to talk to the military, the top brass, to get this military ban ended. They say...
COOPER: But all the indications from the top brass is that this thing is not going to happen, or it's not going to happen any time soon and that it's on back channels.
And even something -- to me, it seems, when you look what's passed in the waning days of the Bush administration, which was a reversal of this ban on HIV-positive visitors to the United States, I don't think a lot of Americans don't realize that if you're HIV positive, technically you can't visit the United States.
SULLIVAN: No, you can't. Actually, 60 Canadians who were coming to an AIDS conference this week had to turn back at the border, because HIV is actually a bar to entering the United States. If you're honest about it. Of course, most people don't talk about it. Only the openly HIV-positive people, the honest people, that are targeted.
COOPER: But Congress overturned that, but the Obama administration has not done anything that anybody can see to actually enact that. And all it would take is HHS, health and human services, doing it.
SULLIVAN: Yes. And it's extremely frustrating. They tell me that they are doing it, that it is a slow, bureaucratic process, that it is going through the process. But it's bewildering to see President Obama commanding a government that is discriminating against people with HIV, that's throwing very qualified people out of the military...
COOPER: We had Dan Choi on here, Arab linguist, West Point graduate. Talk about that a little bit.
SULLIVAN: President Obama was not elected to throw that guy out of the army. I mean, he just wasn't. I mean, that entire movement behind Obama was to say this kind of stuff...
COOPER: So how angry -- how angry are you at Obama?
SULLIVAN: Well... COOPER: I mean, you wrote this -- you wrote this blog based on saying the fierce urgency of whenever...
COOPER: ... mocking him for his, you know, use of Martin Luther King's statement, the fierce urgency of now.
COOPER: And comparing him to the Clintons who you are incredibly critical of, you know, as I won't even read what you wrote about them.
SULLIVAN: Look. The truth is, this is a civil rights movement. And the president is not living up to his promises, and he is ducking the core civil rights challenge of his time. I don't think he wants to...
COOPER: Has he said anything about gay marriage?
SULLIVAN: Nothing, as far as I can tell. I am told, and he insists that he's genuine about this. And I think one has to take him at his word. And I think after six months we are very impatient and disillusioned by this guy, but we haven't given up entirely, and I hope he does it on a whole range of issues.
But we haven't even had hate crime. We haven't had employment discrimination. He won't talk about it. We also need the Congress, frankly, Anderson. We need people -- the Democrats in the Congress also need to stand up.
COOPER: But isn't this basically the oldest trick in the book? I mean, you say the stuff when you're running, and then when -- you know, it's never convenient time to do this kind of stuff.
I mean, if the president believes in this stuff and maybe, you know, if he doesn't believe in it, then -- then his actions make sense. But if he believes in it, it seems odd...
SULLIVAN: It does seem odd. And look, remember, we are at war, you know? We need these soldiers. I mean, the idea that this is -- this is a hard time to do it. No, this is the time we should keep all the military that we have, the able military to fight this war. This is actually an emergency to keep these soldiers rather than throwing them out.
It's also just insane that we should be stigmatizing people with HIV, the only western country to be doing this, something that was Jesse Helms' legacy. Barack Obama does not want to be enforcing the legacy of Jesse Helms, and I think they're moving to get rid of it.
But I have to say so far, not so great. We have to wait and see and hold their feet to the fire on this.
COOPER: All right. Andrew Sullivan, good to have you on.
SULLIVAN: Thank you, Anderson.
COOPER: Coming up next, the robbery and a shooting caught on tape. A pharmacist opens fire on robbers. The question is, was it murder or self-defense? We've got the details, the video. You can decide for yourself.
And the world was rooting for Susan Boyle. Andrew Sullivan was all verklempt, but her talent show loss has led -- you were verklempt about her. We have the video. You wrote about that on your blog.
She's in bad shape now, apparently in a clinic. Clinics? I don't know. Anyway, we have a report she had a meltdown. We'll try to find out what -- exactly what happened. We'll be right back.
COOPER: So is it murder or self-defense? Tonight the shooting death of a young robbery suspect is raising those questions. The entire incident was captured on surveillance tape. And we warn you: some of the video is graphic.
This happened last month. Two teens enter a pharmacy in Oklahoma City. One appears to point a gun at the employees. You see it there. The pharmacist, who's at the back of the store, takes out his gun, shoots one of the suspects in the head and chases the other out the door.
Now, the pharmacist then returns, goes behind the counter, grabs a second gun, then approaches the injured teen -- he's going to get the second gun right now -- approaches the injured teen, shoots him five more times in the abdomen, killing 16-year-old Antoine Parker.
The pharmacist, Jerome Ersland, said the robbers tried to shoot him first and acted to protect himself and others. The D.A. said that Ersland went too far in the threat -- to end the threat and charged him with first-degree murder. Now Ersland's free on $100,000 bail.
The question is what do you think? Should the pharmacist be charged with murder or did he do the right thing?
With us now is Kevin Calvey, the attorney and a former Oklahoma state representative. Also with us, CNN legal analyst Lisa Bloom. Good to have you both with us.
Kevin, NAACP called this, quote, "an execution-style murder." You say that's not the case. Why?
KEVIN CALVEY, ATTORNEY: No, it's not at all that way. In order for him to be convicted of first-degree murder, the prosecutor has to prove beyond reasonable doubt that he did not have any reasonable fear for his life. There's not very much time in this whole scenario.
He's basically in a combat-type situation. And given all those circumstances, I don't see where there's a case for first-degree murder.
And our prosecutor's a very good man. And -- but he's in a very difficult situation in deciding how to proceed on this case.
COOPER: Lisa, do you buy that? I mean, he went back, got another gun, came back, shot the guy five times in the abdomen. He says the guy was talking and he feared for his life still.
LISA BLOOM, ANCHOR, IN SESSION: Technically, he can be charged with first-degree murder, because that's killing with premeditation. And premeditation can be formed in an instant under the law. The few moments it takes to get the gun, go back around.
COOPER: Let's take a look while Lisa's talking.
BLOOM: Sure. And the few minutes it goes to go back behind the counter, get the gun, come around the counter again, point the gun at a man who's down and incapacitated, shooting and killing him, that can be premeditated murder.
But let's get realistic. There is not a jury in this country that's going to convict this man of first-degree murder when he's the victim of an armed robbery. He's in the heat of the moment. He's obviously in great fear when he goes and gets the gun. And to expect him to make those split-second calls -- he's down, incapacitated, I'm probably safe now -- I think that's just too much to ask.
COOPER: Kevin, you wrote a law in Oklahoma called Stand Your Ground. What exactly is it, and does it apply in this case?
CALVEY: Well, the Stand Your Ground law does two things. One, it basically codifies the longstanding law of self-defense. And then it added additional rights of self-defense in your own home or car.
In this situation, it's basically the standard law of self- defense that's existed for decades.
And it's important to remember that who are the evildoers here, and who is the victim? The evildoers are these robbers, and the victim is Mr. Ersland, the pharmacist. And given all those circumstances, here's a guy who minds his own business just at work. And as a result of a situation that lasted entirely less than a minute, he's now on trial for first-degree murder. That's pretty tough to ask.
COOPER: How divisive, Kevin, has this case become? I mean, the pharmacist is white. The two would-be robbers are African-American, the judge in the case, African-American. Reports are she has received some death threats over her handling of the case. I mean, is this thing tearing community apart?
CALVEY: No, I wouldn't say so at all. I think the large majority of people here don't believe that the pharmacist should be convicted of first-degree murder. I don't see any chance that he's going to be convicted of first-degree murder.
You know, there's been talk of charging him with some lesser offense. I think that would even be dicey at this point. COOPER: Lisa, the 14-year-old, who also tried to rob the store and two adults, I guess, who masterminded this thing, they've also been charged with murder.
BLOOM: Right. Because they conspired together to commit a violent crime, and a death occurred as a result of that. Even a death to one of their own party, that can be felony murder. So they can all be charged with that.
And you know, look, the pharmacist can't be expected, I think, to make these split-second decisions. Yes, the gunman is the one who ran out. The one who stayed did not have a gun.
But he had his back turned to these two during the significant part of this. I mean, to ask him to keep all of that straight, to keep track during this violent confrontation I think is too much. I don't think a jury would expect that of him.
COOPER: Seems you both agree on that. Kevin Calvey, Lisa Bloom, appreciate you both being with us. Thanks.
CALVEY: Thank you.
COOPER: Coming up next, violent crime in American. Information that might surprise you. Murder rate's actually down. Your safety may depend on where you live. We'll explain that ahead.
Also Nancy Reagan speaking out about the new White House. Find out what advice she gave Michelle Obama and why she says President Obama, quote, "missed an opportunity."
And a unique perspective on the murder of Dr. Tiller. We'll talk to an abortion provider, Dr. Tiller's friend, who fears he could be the next victim.
COOPER: Coming, never before seen photos of Marilyn Monroe. Today would have been her 83rd birthday. Imagine that.
First Erica Hill has a "360 Bulletin" -- Erica.
HILL: Anderson, the FBI says violent crime dropped 2.5 percent in 2008 compared to 2007. Now, that includes an overall 4.4 percent decline in murders.
But the news was not all good. In cities with fewer than 10,000 residents, murders climbed 5.5 percent.
Nancy Reagan is speaking out in a rare new interview. The former first lady telling "Vanity Fair" magazine her advice to Michelle Obama when they spoke was to hold more state dinners. They had a 45-minute phone call.
She also says President Obama missed an opportunity by not inviting her to the ceremony, announcing the reversal of Bush policy on embryonic stem-cell research.
And after coming in second in the "Britain's Got Talent" competition over the weekend, British media now reporting singing sensation Susan Boyle had a meltdown and has been admitted to a medical clinic.
The show's producers will only say she is exhausted and emotionally drained and that her doctor supports her decision for a few days of R&R.
COOPER: Poor Susan Boyle.
HILL: Quite a journey for Susan Boyle.
COOPER: Yes. Can you imagine?
HILL: No, I can't.
COOPER: I actually can't either.
Well, a star in the making, Marilyn Monroe before she was famous, never-before-seen photographs coming up next. Tonight's "Shot."
And at the top of the hour, the accused killer of an abortion doctor. Details on the suspect's life and the chilling messages he may have sent to the victim. We'll also hear from people who believe he did the right thing, when 360 continues.
COOPER: All right, Erica, time for tonight's "Shot." How is this for a photo shoot. Never-before-seen pictures of Marilyn Monroe published today by "Life" magazine on what would have been her 83rd birthday. I had no idea. That's crazy.
The photographer was Ed Clark. He took these shots in Griffin Park in Los Angeles back in August of 1950. She was just 24 years old. She was really only starting to make a name for herself on the big screen at the time of these photographs.
Within the next decade, of course, she became larger than life, famous the world over, and she died of an overdose in 1962. She was just 36 years old when she died.
HILL: You know, there's -- there's an article on CNN.com that talks about these pictures. And Life.com staff members apparently say there are 50 million pictures in the "Life" archives, which date back to the '50s. Who knows what else may be in there? They're slowly transferring it.
COOPER: Fifty million?
COOPER: Wow! That's cool. You can see all the most recent "Shots" and see these pictures, all the most recent shots, on our Web site. And also tonight's "Beat 360," which we didn't have time for on the program tonight, at AC360.com.
Coming up at the top of the hour, the search for a French airliner with Americans on board that went down over the south Atlantic. We'll be right back.
COOPER: Breaking news. American spy satellites now directing their view onto the south Atlantic, looking not for threats to the country but signs of what became of 228 men, women and children on board a passenger jet.
Two Americans included among the missing. We have just learned they are Michael and Anne Harris. He worked as a geologist for an American oil exploration company. They've been living last summer in Rio de Janeiro. That is where the plane departed from, where Air France Flight 447, that plane right there, departed last night from Rio, then vanished, likely crashed into the Atlantic about three hours en route to Paris.
No distress call from the Airbus 330. Only signs of rough weather and warning signals from the plane's computer. Whatever happened, there's late word that rescuers will not be anywhere near the suspected crash site until Wednesday.
Brian Todd is working the breaking story for us tonight. He has the news -- Brian.