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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Air France Jet Wreckage Found; Domestic Terror?
Aired June 2, 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 and news you will only see here: late new developments in the disappearance of Air France Flight 447, where the wreckage was found and what the location may say about the jet's final minutes.
Also tonight, the alleged killer of an abortion provider learns if he will face the death penalty if convicted.
And we have a 360 exclusive, a first interview -- his ex-wife tells us what makes Scott Roeder tick. I will talk with her live in just a moment.
Plus, the heart-wrenching experience of a woman's whose baby who could not survive outside the womb, yet she chose not to have an abortion. Last night, you heard from a woman who did the opposite. Because it's never an easy decision, because we always try to bring you both sides, she's our 360 interview tonight.
And, later, what may be the first successful Islamist attack in America since 9/11, the killing of a -- one -- of one soldier, the wounding of another. Could this be a sign of domestic terror to come? We will talk with Peter Bergen about that.
We begin, though, with the breaking news, the wreckage on Air France Flight 447 found, the fate of three Americans and 225 others sadly now certain, clues to how it happened possibly within reach tonight.
Tom Foreman has late-breaking details. He joins us now.
Tom, what have we learned?
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Anderson.
There really is a lot of news breaking on this, this evening. It is important and sad news. Families and friends of those on board the Air France flight are now getting official word tonight that the plane was, in fact, lost at sea. And we're getting more news about who was on board when this happened.
Among the apparent victims was a member of Brazil's former royal family, a doctor who once was a dancer in the Riverdance show, and an American geologist and his wife.
We are also learning tonight that an armada of recovery ships and airplanes is converging as we speak on that stretch of ocean where authorities now say they have found the wreckage of the plane. There's been no sign of any survivor.
But U.S., French and Brazilian military planes are rushing to the scene to begin aerial sonar sweeps, even overnight, we are told, in hopes of picking up the sounds of the plane's electronic locators on the ocean floor.
France has also dispatched a scientific vessel with a deep diving submarine, if they can pick up that pinging noise from the ocean floor -- Anderson.
COOPER: And, Tom, there's still such this mystery about what might have happened to -- to make the plane go down.
Is there any new information?
FOREMAN: Well, there are a lot of theories, Anderson, but that's about it. Much of the focus is still on the weather and the idea that, somehow, this just plane slammed into a monster storm.
They're trying to take all that apart as they figure out what's happening here. These are very, very popular planes. So, they want to find out what went wrong.
And this is new. Brazilian authorities and Air France now say automated computers on the plane sent a series of messages for about four minutes before it crashed, communicating with a land computer, indicating that a variety of systems were failing, including the one that controls cabin pressure.
There was, however, no conversation with the pilots during all of this. While they work on figuring out what happened and finding some answers, Brazil has called for a time of national mourning. And, in Paris, there will be a memorial service at Notre Dame Cathedral tomorrow -- Anderson.
COOPER: Incredible. With all our technology, still, this mystery remains of what happened and exactly where this plane is.
Tom, appreciate the update.
We're going to continue to update you throughout this hour. We will have another report later on in the program.
Now the new facts about the killing of an abortion provider and the accused gunman, Scott Roeder, and what he will be facing if he's convicted of gunning down Dr. George Tiller in that Wichita, Kansas, church.
Mr. Roeder appeared in court today by video hookup -- that's him there -- where he found out today whether he will be facing the death sentence if guilty.
Gary Tuchman was there as well. He's been doing a lot of digging, as well. He joins us now.
Gary, what -- what happened in court today? GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, if you would have wandered into this courtroom today by accident, you might have thought you were looking at a guy who was facing a parking ticket.
Scott Roeder was cool, calm, collected, blase. He was leafing through legal papers on the closed-circuit video feed in his maroon jail shirt. It appears he was not aware that he had been charged officially with murder. And -- big news -- the district attorney announced he will not face the death penalty if convicted.
Under Kansas law, there have to be special circumstances for the death penalty. You have to kill a child, kill a police officer, kill more than one person. In this case, the district attorney says, if he's convicted of first-degree murder, he will face the possibility of life in prison.
But Scott Roeder talked a little bit during this five-minute hearing. And it was basically housekeeping measures. He asked about the attorney, the public defender, he's supposed to get.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you have any questions about any of those things I have just gone over with you?
SCOTT ROEDER, DEFENDANT: Well, I guess if there are legal -- oh, no. Of the things that you just went over? No.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right. Thank you. That's all I need from you. Thank you.
S. ROEDER: OK.
Oh, what would the name of the court-appointed attorney be, please?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TUCHMAN: Well, the judge told him that, within 48 hours, he will have his court-appointed attorney in time for the arraignment, where he will make his official plea two weeks from today -- Anderson.
COOPER: Have we heard more or learned more about Scott Roeder?
People who know him and people know him well say he got very shaky over the last couple of decades. We spent part of the day talking to a very nice woman today by the name of Lindsey Roeder. She has that last name because she used to be married to him. She was married to him for 10 years.
He's been divorced for 13 years -- said she got very worried and scared about him over the years. He changed dramatically. She got very paranoid about him, because he got very paranoid. He became very anti-government. And she's been divorced from him for 13 years.
We also got our hands on some legal papers in which Scott Roeder wanted more visitation time with a little girl he said he fathered five years ago. Well, the mother of this little girl went back to the court and said she did not want Roeder near this child because Roeder was schizophrenic, she said, and was not taking his medication.
And she was afraid that Roeder would kidnap this little girl. Now, this raises the issue of the possibility of an insanity defense in this case. And we asked the district attorney about that today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NOLA FOULSTON, WICHITA, KANSAS, DISTRICT ATTORNEY: ... prepared for any inevitability that might occur in cases.
We have prosecuted cases throughout the years that may have included mental defenses, alibis, and other defenses. And I believe our responsibility is to be prepared to address any of those issues that may come up during the course of trial.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: And, Gary, have we heard anything more from Dr. Tiller's family today? There were questions yesterday about whether his practice is going to continue. Any answers on that?
TUCHMAN: Yes, Dr. Tiller's family is telling us today that, right now, no decisions have been made, no final decisions, about when or if the clinic will reopen. We have also been told by the family that Dr. Tiller will be laid to rest this Saturday -- Anderson.
COOPER: All right, Gary, appreciate that.
Tonight, you are going to hear from many different voices in this story and the larger debate about abortion, especially third-trimester abortions.
We work hard not to take sides on this program. I'm not trying to tell you my opinion. I'm trying to discover facts with you and look at things from multiple angles, so you can decide for yourself.
In a moment, we will talk with a doctor who plans to carry on with Tiller's work and another woman who has had to make the toughest choice most women will ever have to make.
Last night, it was a woman who chose an abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy -- tonight, someone who chose otherwise, even though her child had no hope to survive.
First, though, a 360 exclusive -- suspect Scott Roeder ex-wife, Lindsey, joins us now.
Lindsey, I appreciate you being with us. You said you were shocked and mortified to hear that your ex- husband was charged with Dr. Tiller's murder, but you weren't surprised. Why?
LINDSEY ROEDER, EX-WIFE OF DEFENDANT SCOTT ROEDER: Well, it was -- it was quite a startling thing to open the door to the ATF and have them tell me that.
But, over the years, he was so anti-abortion, and so -- so anti- abortion and anti-government and anti-tax, and he was so supportive of -- of -- of other people who had killed abortionists or killed clinic workers, that I knew how he felt about that Dr. Tiller or any other abortion doctor shouldn't be allowed to live.
COOPER: And -- and, when you see the mug shot that we're showing now, or you see the video of him in court today, is that the man you knew?
L. ROEDER: No, that's not the man I married. That's not the man I married. It's the man I divorced, but it's not the man I married. It's not...
COOPER: And -- and when did he start to change, and how did he start to change?
L. ROEDER: Well, we were married in 1986.
And the first few years were fine. It was about 1991, '92 when he basically couldn't cope with everyday life, when he couldn't make ends meet, he couldn't pay the bills, and didn't know why he couldn't do that.
And someone told him that, if he didn't pay his federal taxes, if those taxes were left in his check, he could make ends meet. And then he started investigating that. And someone told him that it wasn't ratified properly in the Constitution, that it was illegal.
And he went from there, and got into the anti-government, got into the militia, got into the Freemen. And, along those lines, anti- abortion issues came up. And he started becoming very religious, in a sense that he -- he finally -- he was reading the Bible. But, then, after we were divorced, it -- his religion really took on a whole new right wing of itself.
COOPER: And you just heard in this last report there's another woman who said he was schizophrenic and didn't want him near her daughter.
Do you think he has mental problems?
L. ROEDER: Yes. I -- I think he has -- there's mental illness there.
When he was 19 or 20, he was diagnosed at that time with possible schizophrenia. I don't think he's schizophrenic. I think he's obsessive. I think he's bipolar. I know that, in '94, he -- '95, I think it was -- he became very upset and depressed one Sunday afternoon. It was when we were separated. It was before we were divorced, but separated.
And he was actually talking about ending his life. Someone he knew was going to get an abortion that was coincidentally that day. He had tried to talk her out of it. I don't know what became of that.
But I had to call his family in from out of town to come get him and put him in a hospital. But he refused treatment.
COOPER: And he -- you said that, on -- on this Friday, he had paid a surprise visit to your son. He didn't spend a lot of time with your son over the years.
L. ROEDER: No.
COOPER: Your son's over the age of 18 now. What -- what -- what seemed off about him then?
L. ROEDER: Well, the fact that it was on a Friday, that my son was going to go with him on a Friday was unusual. But I thought it showed signs of hope that he was becoming more realistic. He normally didn't go out on a Friday night with -- with our son, because it's the beginning of his Sabbath.
And he would -- from sundown Fridays to Saturday. So, Friday evening, he wouldn't normally go out. But he was very insistent that they go out, that they go to a movie. And my son didn't think much about that.
COOPER: You think -- you think he was wanting to -- you think now he was just wanting to spend time because...
L. ROEDER: He wanted to spend time with him.
COOPER: ... he -- he knew what he was going to do?
L. ROEDER: He ended up going to a movie, taking -- taking him out -- taking my son out to dinner, wanting to go with him and get ice cream.
He wanted to go take him to his friend -- my son's friend's house and visit with him, spending way more time than he ever would on a -- on a usual visit. And, looking back on it, yes, I think it was his goodbye visit. He wanted to spend as much time with him.
COOPER: How is -- how is your son doing now? I mean, how are you doing?
L. ROEDER: We're devastated. Our hearts go out to the Tiller family. No one -- no one should be shot. No one should be shot in their church.
And my son has gone through every emotion humanly possible in the last 24, 48 hours, from anger, to rage, to humiliation, to guilt, the guilt of: "Could I have seen it Friday night? Could I have done something?"
His views are as polar opposite from his dad's as you can get. He doesn't...
COOPER: Well, I...
L. ROEDER: He doesn't agree with -- he doesn't agree with his father's views. He's not -- he doesn't -- he didn't agree with Dr. Tiller's late-term abortions either, but you don't -- you don't shoot someone in the head for it. You let the -- the legal system handle it.
COOPER: Well, Lindsey, I know it's hard for you to talk, and -- but I know it was important for you to. And I appreciate you coming on tonight. Thank you very much.
L. ROEDER: Certainly.
COOPER: I wish you strength in the days and week ahead, and strength to your son as well.
L. ROEDER: Thank you very much for the chance.
COOPER: All right.
Well, as always, you can let us know what you think. Obviously, this is a controversial issue. Join the live chat happening now at AC360.com. Talk to other viewers watching right next -- right now.
Coming up next: two more views, one from the doctor who may continue Dr. Tiller's practice, and also a woman who made the toughest decision not to have an abortion. We will talk with her in a moment.
Later, searching for what turned an American into an accused Muslim extremist and, authorities say, the perpetrator of the first successful act of Islamist terror on American soil since 9/11.
Plus, a heartwarming homecoming for former first lady Nancy Reagan, visiting the White House, and her moments with President Obama -- all happened today. We will show you that and more -- tonight on 360.
We will be right back.
COOPER: Well, we're talking about abortion and the controversy surrounding it and the deadly violence that sometimes follows.
Dr. Tiller performed third-trimester abortions, which are both exceedingly rare, less than 2 percent of all abortions, and permitted under certain circumstances. They're the heart-wrenching decisions, the hard cases.
But it should be mentioned that abortion providers who never do a single third-trimester procedure have been no safer than those who do.
Joining us now, Dr. Leroy Carhart, who may end up carrying on Tiller's practice in some shape or form.
Doctor, you knew Dr. Tiller. Your thoughts on -- upon hearing of his assassination.
DR. LEROY CARHART, FRIEND OF DR. GEORGE TILLER: Just what a horrific and terrible loss to that -- to my -- you know, to everyone, to the women of this country, to my -- to my family, to his family, to his grandchildren, to his patients, just to the world.
George was an unbelievable...
CARHART: Go ahead.
Why do you want to continue this procedure? Why do you think this particular procedure is important, because, as you know, less than 10 doctors in the United States perform abortions in the third trimester?
COOPER: I think that number is probably correct, yes.
And I think that, for the women that need abortion -- you know, Dr. Tiller believed and taught that abortion, you know, it's not a cerebral matter. It's not a reproductive issue. Abortion is a matter of the heart. And, if you don't understand the woman's heart, you don't understand anything at all about abortion. It doesn't make sense.
I think you have to understand, for that woman that needs to choose abortion in the third trimester, for whatever her reasons are, the option has to be available. There's no time that abortion is not hundreds of times safer than delivery in normal, routine delivery settings.
Why -- why should anyone be forced to go through, continue a pregnancy for even another day, or another week, or another two or three months, if the pregnancy cannot survive?
COOPER: You -- you told our producer that your practice often turns people away who don't meet the criteria for an abortion after 24 weeks of pregnancy.
What -- what is that criteria, though? Why would you turn somebody away?
CARHART: We -- I -- you know, we turn people away at any gestation if we feel that they haven't thought the matter through completely, if they have not explored all their options, if they -- if there are other things they can do.
We just offer them some time to think, some time. And I don't know that we force them out of the office. But, by the time we're through talking, they agree that they need to go home and think farther. And many of them don't come back.
COOPER: We -- we had a woman on the program last night who had had a -- an abortion, I think, of about 20 or 21 weeks into her pregnancy, severe genetic defect. Her -- her baby had no brain. And she chose to end the pregnancy.
The argument in support of late-term abortions usually centers on things like that, the health of the mother, the health of the fetus.
I want to ask you, though, about this "Washington Post" article that, in 1996, suggested evidence to the contrary about many of the people who get these third-trimester abortions.
And I want to read you what, "The Washington Post," said. They wrote: "It is possible -- and maybe even likely -- that the majority of these abortions are performed on normal fetuses, not on fetuses suffering genetic or developmental abnormalities. Instead, the typical patients tend to be young, low-income women, often poorly educated or naive, whose reasons for waiting so long to end their pregnancies are rarely medical."
Do you think that's true?
CARHART: I can assure you that none of those patients were present at Dr. Tiller's clinic.
COOPER: And in your own practice as well?
CARHART: And none of them were present at my clinic.
Absolutely, none of them were present.
COOPER: So, you believe, and you're saying firmly, that -- that all the people you perform this third-trimester abortion on have some medical reason or -- whether it's health of the mother, the condition of the fetus; is that correct?
CARHART: I believe, yes, that everyone met the -- I think our moral standard. I think -- you know, I think abortion is a moral issue. I think it is a religiously viable issue that -- that both God and whatever you believe in plays a role in the decision when you make abortion.
Many faiths agree with the principles that if -- you know, a woman carrying a term to pregnancy -- I'm sorry -- a woman carrying a pregnancy to term faces the chance of death in this country anywhere from 15 to 20 out of 100,000. That number is minuscule in abortion practice, even in the third trimester in this country. We come nowhere close to that.
I don't think that -- I can't conceive that you would suggest a woman go through that much of a greater risk to have a child that can't survive than you would to have her allow her to terminate the pregnancy.
COOPER: And -- and, finally, I'm not going to ask you about your own personal security needs and requirements, but do you fear for your life?
CARHART: I think everyone -- well, first of all, in America, if -- if Marine recruiters can't work in safety in the -- in the South, then everybody in America needs to fear for their lives, as long as our society tolerates terrorism.
COOPER: Well, Dr. Leroy Carhart, I appreciate your perspective and appreciate you being on tonight with us. Thank you.
CARHART: Thank you.
COOPER: Now this 360 interview and another perspective.
Diane Elder chose not to have an abortion, even though, medically and legally, she had every right to. She joins us now.
Diane, thanks so much for being with us.
You actually sent me an e-mail earlier today because of -- of an interview you read that we had on last night. We had a woman on who, in the 20 -- 20th or 21st week, chose to have a late-term abortion, because her baby had a severe -- severe genetic defect.
You had a similar situation. You made a different choice. Why?
DIANE ELDER, CHOSE NOT TO HAVE LATE-TERM ABORTION: Because I wanted my baby to have a natural death. I did not want my child to die at my hand. She...
COOPER: What did your baby have?
ELDER: My baby had a syndrome called Trisomy 18, which is a very severe chromosomal abnormality that is incompatible with life. That's what -- that's the phrase doctors used to me.
COOPER: And you found this out what -- at what stage of the pregnancy?
ELDER: I was somewhere in the fifth month of pregnancy.
COOPER: And, obviously, I mean, it's devastating news.
ELDER: It was devastating.
I found out on Mother's Day. And all I can remember is collapsing to the floor, because I had been trying for this baby for a very long time. So, it felt like a cruel -- almost a cruel joke to me that this happened.
And, so, I -- I went forward with the pregnancy another four months, probably the most difficult four months of my life. We were prepared for basically a -- a monster, because we were told she was going to not have a brain, and she was going to have possibly cleft palate, club feet.
And she was born with all those things. She was born missing part of her brain. She had one club foot, one rocker-bottom foot. She had just everything that goes along with that condition, which is -- is bad. But we were very taken aback when we found that, when she was placed in our arms, we were happy.
We were -- we were incredibly happy. My husband was with me. A lot of family and friends showed up right after the birth. She was passed around from arm to -- from arms to arms. I told the hospital I did not want any extraordinary measures taken, because I wanted what happened to her to be natural.
I didn't want to try to -- to force her to stay alive with needles and tubes, if that would cause her pain and just prolong a very difficult life. But I didn't want to kill her either. So, I just decided to completely turn myself over to nature and let it take its course.
And the resolution was really a very good resolution. She -- she never suffered.
COOPER: How long did she live?
ELDER: Twelve hours. The nurse woke me up at 5:00 a.m. and said: "Diane, I think you might want to get up now. The baby's having trouble breathing, and this might be her time."
And she put Angela (ph) into my arms.
COOPER: You named her?
ELDER: Yes, Angela -- Angela Diane Elder.
And Angela looked funny, because she was able to make eye contact with me, and it seemed as though she were looking into my eyes. I could hear her breath becoming more and more shallow, sort of a rattling breath.
And then she took two large breaths, and then a very large breath, literally sat up, and then fell back, and she was gone. And it was a very difficult moment, even at this time.
COOPER: Do you -- do you regret it, looking back on it, or...
ELDER: Not in one -- not one minute of it. She died peacefully, with no pain.
The suffering was hours. For two weeks, of course, at least two weeks, really a whole year, we were in mourning for her, as you would grieve over any loved one who dies. That's a normal part of life. You can't get away from the fact that -- that people die and people get sick, and they die. And -- but we felt very clean when it was over, and -- and as though the situation was -- there was closure. There was a resolution.
COOPER: Obviously, other women, other families in that situation make different choices.
COOPER: Do you believe that -- that women should have the right to make that choice?
ELDER: When a baby is a fully formed, living baby, I don't think that, really, we have ever had the choice to -- to take a life at that stage. I think that that's a -- that's a fully formed baby.
I mean, I think you had some of the pictures up there. And you saw her. She's a fully formed baby. She was born early, by the way. She came out at eight months.
COOPER: And, when you heard about Dr. Tiller's death, your thought?
ELDER: Oh, I think that was awful. No one has the right to do that, particularly not someone who considers themselves to be an advocate for life. How can they take another life? It's inexcusable.
COOPER: Well, I -- I appreciate you coming on and talking about this. I know it's not easy. And I appreciate you writing the e-mail to me and -- and that we were able to have you on today. Thank you very much.
ELDER: Thank you so much.
COOPER: Thanks. Thanks for your strength.
ELDER: All right.
COOPER: We're going to have a lot more just ahead tonight.
We're going to tell you what is waiting for President Obama when he touches down in the Middle East. He has a big speech tomorrow. We will preview that.
Also, more on our breaking story, the tragic discovery of the wreckage of the downed French airliner and what it tells investigators.
And the guy who scaled the New York Times Building, remember him? Well, Spider-Man is at it again. You will find out where he climbed and what happened when he did.
We will be right back.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) COOPER: Troubling questions tonight about the Muslim convert accused of executing one U.S. soldier and wounding another at a military recruiting center in Arkansas.
How did a young man from Memphis, Tennessee, end up in some of the world's hotbeds of terrorism? We have details on that ahead.
But, first, Randi Kaye has a 360 news and business bulletin.
Randi, what's happening?
RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, President Obama is on his way to the Middle East, with the goal of repairing the image of the U.S. in the region -- his first stop, Saudi Arabia, then on to Egypt Thursday, where he will give a major speech to the Muslim world.
A glimmer of good news for automakers: Americans bought more cars in May than any month this year. Sales of Ford's Fusion jumped 9 percent, helping push Ford's market share to its highest level in three years.
Still, compared to a year ago, overall auto sales were down 34 percent.
KAYE: President Obama's Supreme Court nominee, Judge Sonia Sotomayor, made her Senate debut today, shuttling between private meetings with key senators and posing for some photographs.
Meantime, Republicans said they would prefer holding hearings on her nomination in September. President Obama was hoping for a summertime confirmation.
In Sydney, Australia, the French skyscraper climber known as Spider-Man -- his real name, Alain Robert -- scaled a 41-story building today with his bare hands. Police were waiting below and arrested him when he climbed on down.
Amazing sight to see.
COOPER: Yes, it's incredible. To do with bare hands, and no backup in case he falls, it's crazy.
KAYE: Amazing. And to know that you're just going to get caught...
KAYE: ... they're waiting for you on the ground, I mean, is it really worth it? I guess so.
COOPER: I -- yes. I know. And he's got a family. He's got a kid, I think. Anyway...
COOPER: All right. Just ahead, more on the breaking news that we are following.
KAYE: Young Spidey.
COOPER: Yes, exactly.
COOPER: More on the breaking news we're following tonight: a major breakthrough in the search for that missing Air France Airbus that vanished over the Atlantic, pieces of the plane spotted today -- what the debris may tell us about the final moments of the deadly flight. But I have got to tell you, a lot of details, we don't know. We will tell you what we do know coming up.
Also, the portrait that is emerging of a Muslim convert from Memphis, Tennessee, now charged with executing a U.S. soldier outside a military recruiting office. Why did this guy travel to Yemen and other hotbeds of terrorism? And did he act alone? Could there be more people like him out there? We'll take a look at that.
Plus, Bo, the first dog, faces the cameras and takes some questions. Does he like the attention? He seems kind of a natural there for the cameras. We'll let you be the judge. We'll be right back.
COOPER: More now on the breaking news that we are following tonight about this plane, the four-year-old Air France Airbus that vanished Sunday night over the Atlantic during severe weather.
Flight 447, as you know, was en route from Paris from Rio, carrying 228 people including three Americans. All aboard are now feared dead. It is the worst disaster in the airline's history, and the race is on to find out why the plane went down.
Today Brazilian military pilots, they saw debris from the jetliner on the water. It was a crucial discovery and an incredibly challenging investigation. Tom Foreman tonight has the details.
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Anderson, this is the time line of a mystery. The plane takes off at 7:19 in the evening. Within 30 minutes, it hits bad weather. But it keeps traveling at about 500 miles an hour on toward Paris on this route.
And it reports no other problems until four hours after takeoff, about here, when an automated radio signal indicates an electrical problem. And then nothing.
Rescuers begin scouring the flight path that they describe as three times as large as Europe. But right now it's all focused right here. This is where Brazilian air force officials say that debris was found. An airplane seat, oil, kerosene, a life vest, all quite close to the plane's estimated position when that radio call went out.
And that's both good and bad for investigators, because this is right along what's called the mid-Atlantic ridge, which is an underwater mountain range. That means that, in the shallowest area, this may only be about a mile and a quarter deep. In the deepest area, it could be as much as two miles deep.
Now, that's something to be reckoned with. It could be a lot deeper, but still, that's about the range short by quarter mile of where the "Titanic" was found.
Look at this. This plane is only about a quarter as big as the "Titanic" if it stayed in one piece. So in coming days, look for this to happen. You'll see recovery teams dropping sonar beacons into the water all around here, listening for pinging coming from a locator located on the plane.
This device is hooked to the cockpit voice recorder and to the data recorder, which takes in hundreds of readings from the plane every moment while it's in flight. If they find them among all these rocks and hills, the folks at the Woodsville (ph) Oceanographic Institute say they could drop a deep-sea guiding vessel in and pluck those boxes from the ocean floor quite easily.
But the clock is ticking, because the locator beacon sending out these signals will only work for 30 days -- Anderson.
COOPER: The clock is ticking.
Three Americans, as we mentioned, were on board Flight 447. And if you want to read more about them, about their lives, who they were, you can go to our Web site, AC360.com. We have more information there. You can also, of course, join the live chat happening now and share your thoughts on some of the stories we've been covering tonight.
Coming up next, an alleged killer's past. Accused of gunning down a soldier in Little Rock and wanting to murder many, many more. Tonight, we'll look at his ties to nations steeped in terror. He denies the charges. All the details ahead.
COOPER: Tonight a Muslim convert from Memphis, Tennessee, is charged with capital murder, accused of gunning down one soldier, wounding another at a military recruiting center in Little Rock, Arkansas.
Now, this is the suspect. He was in court today. His name is Abdul Hakim -- Abdulhakim Mujahid Muhammad. There are reports the alleged killer traveled overseas to known hot beds of extremist activity, like Yemen, where he reportedly was arrested and jailed.
Now, David Mattingly has been working the story. He joins us from Little Rock -- David.
DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, it is a baffling odyssey that investigators are trying to piece together tonight. How does a Tennessee teenager convert to Islam and then set out on a journey that takes him to an al Qaeda hotbed like Yemen, only to end up here in Little Rock, Arkansas, involved in what police are calling a very serious crime.
MATTINGLY (voice-over): Here's what we know: 23-year-old Abdulhakim Bledsoe, formerly of Tennessee, stands accused of killing an American soldier on American soil. He told police he would have killed more if he had the chance, according to court documents.
SCOTT DUNCAN, PULASKI COUNTY DEPUTY PROSECUTOR: He stated that he was a practicing Muslim, mad at the United States military because of what they had done to Muslims in the past.
MATTINGLY: Bledsoe is accused in a drive-by shooting at this Little Rock Army recruiting office, wielding an assault rifle to kill one young soldier and wounding another.
Court documents say he told police he was moved to kill after watching a video on subversive activities. His attorney declined comment.
A federal law enforcement source tells CNN Bledsoe had already caught the attention of the FBI after an unexplained trip to Yemen, an al Qaeda hub and a magnet for Muslim extremists. Experts say that raises red flags.
DAVEED GARTENSTEIN-ROSS, COUNTERTERRORISM EXPERT: He could have sought training in weapons or other sorts of military tactics. A second thing that he could have done is linked up with established terrorist groups.
MATTINGLY: Police found three weapons, including an assault rifle in his car and believe Bledsoe acted independently. Just days before the Little Rock shooting, the suspect was working out of his hotel and a family business, driving tourists around in a sightseeing van.
A neighbor says he had lived in this apartment just two months. She says his only visitors were his parents.
JACOLYN DILLARD, LITTLE ROCK NEIGHBOR: He -- he wasn't loud, you know, like a normal 20-something-year-old.
MATTINGLY: Back in Memphis, where he grew up as Carlos Bledsoe, a former neighbor remembers an easygoing, all-American type.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He seemed like he was a good kid, you know. He was a happy-go-lucky kid. You'd see him and he spoke to you and waved at you.
MATTINGLY: And that is the missing piece of the puzzle, Anderson. What happened to that kid?
Bledsoe appeared in court today, and he pleaded not guilty.
COOPER: Fascinating. David, appreciate it.
How much of a threat, though, is homegrown terrorism right here in America? We want to talk to Peter Bergen about that, a man who's literally been face to face with the world's worst terrorist, Osama bin Laden.
Also tonight, a "360 Follow." A cop beats up a bartender. It's caught on tape. Tonight we'll tell you what happened to that officer. We'll be right back.
COOPER: So the man who opened fire at a military recruiting center in Little Rock yesterday was, officials say, on a mission to murder as many soldiers as he could. Armed with a couple weapons, the 24-year-old recent convert to Islam allegedly gunned down one private and also injured another. The question is why.
Officials say that this man was upset over the way he believes the U.S. treated Muslims and angry about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. But there's more. As we told you before the break, investigators are taking a very close look at his trip to Yemen, a country with deep ties to al Qaeda.
The question is, of course, did he act alone? Was he part of some broader terror plot? Was he recruited into radical Islam and, if so, are there others like him here in the U.S. waiting to strike?
A lot of questions tonight. Let's try to get answers. National security analyst Peter Bergen joins us now. He calls the shooting an act of Islamist terrorism on American soil. He joins us now to talk about -- about this case.
Peter, do you think it's overblown? I mean, you have this case. You have the case in New York of several people accused of wanting to bomb a synagogue and actually trying to actually carry that out. Do you think there is a movement of radicalized Muslims here in the U.S.?
PETER BERGEN, CNN TERRORISM ANALYST: I don't think there's a movement of radicalized Muslims here in the U.S. Certainly, the case in Little Rock is serious. It's sort of the exception that proves the rule.
This guy had weapons. He succeeded in his attack. He killed people. He seemed to be motivated by sort of Islamist ideas.
The case in New York you mentioned, I mean, these guys were buying -- thought they were going to buy a surface-to-air missile in the Bronx. That, to me, doesn't suggest a very kind of smart bunch of people. You know, it's very improbable that you'd actually be able to buy a surface-to-air missile in the Bronx.
So, you know, the cases that we see, many of them are informant driven. I'm not saying they're not worth pursuing, but they're not necessarily very serious terrorists involved. The case in Little Rock -- go ahead.
COOPER: It's interesting, though, that this guy went from Memphis, ended up in Yemen. We've also had cases now, I think, in Minneapolis of a number of Somali teenagers who basically disappeared from their mosques. Their parents didn't know they were leaving. And they wind up in Somalia fighting for this hardcore Islamist group who's trying to take over.
BERGEN: Indeed. And, in fact, one of those Somali kids from Minneapolis actually conducted a suicide operation in Somalia. So that's, you know, pretty hardcore. So yes, these cases do exist.
Are they part of a wider movement? I'm quite skeptical.
You know, you mentioned the reported trip that Muhammad, the Little Rock shooter took to Yemen. Interestingly, John Walker Lindh, the American Taliban, sort of got radicalized on a trip to Yemen.
So we still don't know a lot about this case. But this trip to Yemen might have been the moment where he turned from somebody who was a sort of committed Muslim to actually meeting people who might have been given him the kind of training he then used in the United States. That's an open question, but it's a reasonable hypothesis to be thinking about right now.
COOPER: What do you think -- I mean, did the FBI, do you think, drop the ball? If they were alerted to him being arrested in Yemen, and then he comes back, do you think he was being watched?
BERGEN: Well, the FBI released a statement tonight saying almost nothing about the case, which is not untypical. I mean, they -- there have been reports that they were tracking this guy. Obviously, if that is the case, they dropped the ball, because this guy, they're supposed to arrest people before they do the damage, not afterwards.
COOPER: How are most people radicalized? I mean, the cases you've studied, whether it's Europe -- I guess you don't hear about it too much here in the United States -- but how does is that process usually work? Is it through a mosque? Is it through going to a country like Yemen?
BERGEN: Well, I think the first step is sort of moral outrage. Often it's watching a videotape or watching something on the Internet and sort of increasing your sense of moral outrage.
Certainly, if you do it -- to make a step like go to a foreign country, you know, that takes you into a whole another range of possibilities. I mean, the first step, though, is -- it's not always a mosque. It could be sitting around, you know, watching Jihadi videos at home. But the most important step is, in my view, to go and get, you know, training or go to a war zone, like these kids that went to Somalia. That's what turns you into, sort of -- from somebody who's just angry into somebody who can actually turn that anger into real violence and make it -- make an effort -- make it a fact.
COOPER: As we said, this man denies the charges against him. We'll continue to follow it. Peter Bergen. Appreciate it, Peter. Thanks very much.
If you want to take -- read a fascinating account of how one American was recruited into radical Islam, you can check out our blog at AC360.com. It's an interesting read, tonight.
Also tomorrow on 360, breaking their silence. The families of two American journalists being held in North Korea, arrested in North Korea, are speaking out, pleading for their release. North Korea says Laura Ling and Euna Lee are spies.
I spoke to Laura's husband, Iain Clayton, who read a letter she wrote to him from prison. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
IAIN CLAYTON, HUSBAND OF LAURA LING: This is actually a letter from her she sent that got through, in her handwriting. So I'll read this little bit right at sort of the end.
It says, "The reality is, the goodwill of the U.S. government to help, help us return home. Otherwise, we may find ourselves here for a very long time. Please don't let them forget about us. I love you so much, sweetheart. Be strong for me, OK? Thinking about you endlessly. Love, Laura."
That's my name. It's her handwriting. I started to write, as well.
COOPER: And this is the only letter you've gotten from her?
LING: This is the only letter that I've got from her so far.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: He's only been able to talk to his wife once in the last three months that she has been held. Both of the American journalists who have been arrested in North Korea being put on trial tomorrow. We'll have a full report tomorrow on "360."
Still ahead this evening, remember this video showing an off-duty police officer beating up a female bartender who was basically half his size? He went ballistic when he wouldn't serve her another drink. Coming up, the verdict in his trial.
Plus, what brought former first lady Nancy Reagan to the White House today? All the details on that, coming up. Right back.
COOPER: Coming up, the wife of former Illinois governor, Rod Blagojevich, now a reality show star. And trust me, it's not all it's cracked up to be. That's coming up. But first, Randi Kaye joins us with a "360 Bulletin" -- Randi.
RANDI KAYE, CNN ANCHOR: Anderson, we start off with a "360 Follow." A Chicago judge has found a suspended police officer guilty of aggravated battery in the videotaped beating of a female bartender after she refused to serve him more drinks. You may remember this video back from 2007. The woman was punched and kicked.
Anthony Abbate admits he was drunk at the time. His possible sentence ranges from probation to as much as five years in prison.
With Nancy Reagan by his side, President Obama signed a bill today creating the Ronald Reagan Centennial Commission. The panel will be responsible for the various celebrations in 2011 marking the 100th anniversary of the late president's birth.
And later in the day, Bo, the first dog -- he needs no introduction -- took questions from reporters as the president left for Cairo. It looks like, of course, he loved all that attention. He's the only one who can steal the spotlight from President Obama, it seems.
COOPER: That's great. You see that? He's got the camerawoman's -- the cover for her microphone. Ripping it apart.
HILL: You know, they always go for that. Kids and dogs. They always grab that little fuzzy microphone.
COOPER: I guess so, yes.
HILL: Got away about with it there.
COOPER: Yes. Coming up, "The Shot" is next. Rod Blagojevich's wife eats a spider on national TV. The whole family must be proud. And the disgraced ex-governor couldn't actually be happier about what she did and why. It's tonight's "Shot." Actually, I bet he is proud.
And at the top of the hour, in court in Kansas, the man accused of killing an abortion provider. Tonight his ex-wife speaks to us exclusively about her former husband, now charged with murdering a doctor. We'll have the latest when we continue.
COOPER: Randi, for tonight's "Shot," a proud moment for Mr. and Mrs. Blagojevich. The former governor wasn't allowed to fly down to Costa Rica to appear on NBC's "I'm a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here." So in his place, his wife, Patti. Here's how she kept the couple classy: by eating a tarantula in a disgusting showdown with Mr. La Bamba himself, Lou Diamond Phillips.
KAYE: Oh! COOPER: The actor out-grossed Mrs. Blagojevich. First, he devoured the spider before she could. There it is.
But don't despair, Patti. Watching from home, the impeached Blago himself, and in a radio interview, he said he was moved by his wife's tarantula-eating efforts. Like we said, stay classy, San Diego.
KAYE: That -- that is hard to watch.
COOPER: Yes, yes. Well, I've been watching it all day.
COOPER: You can see all the most recent "Shots" at AC360.com.
And before we go, Randi, and I know you believe this, as well, I just want to express the single regret that I've got that I'm standing here in the sunset in Los Angeles. I mean, we should all be so lucky. But I'm sorry that I'm not back in New York right now, because I cannot say good-bye and good luck in person to a really outstanding member of our team.
Producer and graphics whiz Julia Weinberg is leaving us to get her MBA. Fortunately, she's just going uptown to Columbia University.
Julia, you've been a remarkable member of our team. Thank you so much for all you've done. And I know I got to say good-bye to you yesterday, but I just wanted to thank you publicly on the air. You've been really, really wonderful to work with. And once you get an MBA, you can start a company, and we'll all work for you.
Coming up at the top of the hour, what makes alleged abortion doctor assassin Scott Roeder tick? His ex-wife faces the camera for the first time, only on "360" next.