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Dems to Go It Alone on Health Care?; Jackson Doctor Speaks Out; Battle for Afghanistan; Crime Scene Fraud?

Aired August 18, 2009 - 23:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Tonight, breaking news that could change everything in the White House battle for health care reform. Call it the nuclear option, after negotiating with the Republicans and conservative Democrats and seemingly themselves over parts of a plan CNN has learned that the administration could be getting closer to a very big change. Namely: crafting a health care bill and try to ram it through the Senate even if it passes by only a single vote.

Now, this comes of course, after taking it on the chin at town halls. Sometimes over things not even part of any plan. This weekend the White House seemed to back away from the so-called public option, a government provided insurance alternative.

Today, the White House says nothing has changed; they still want that public option. But now it seems they may be considering some tough moves to make that happen.

Ed Henry has got solid sourcing in the White House and Capitol Hill, so does Dana Bash. First Ed with what his sources are telling him. Ed, what did you learn?

ED HENRY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well Anderson, the key is that there is no final decision. But top Democrats close to the White House are saying they are now actively considering the possibility of sort of doing a "go it alone" strategy.

It's a budget maneuver, very obscure, known as reconciliation, where they would only need a simple majority, get 51 votes instead of 60 votes to push through health reform.

Republicans would scream that this is a power grab, it's an underhanded move. But White House officials privately already laying the groundwork by saying, look, we've been working with Republicans for months. If they don't get something done in the next few weeks, we're going to have to take drastic measures.

And in fact, as one top adviser to the president put it to me, if we have to push it through this way no one is going to remember how messy it is. What they'll remember at the end of the day is that we got health care reform done. And this adviser said, quote, "A win is a win."

And that's what people are going to remember, it'll be messy, but if they have to do it they're not ready to pull the trigger yet but if they have to do it, they think people will forget about the process and remember the substance -- Anderson. COOPER: Ed, do we know what that means for instance the public option? Is this a way of guaranteeing that?

HENRY: This makes it more likely that there would be a public option but does not guarantee it. Because it obviously, if the Democrats don't need to win over as many conservative Democrats in the Senate for example and don't need to win over any moderate Republicans, let alone conservative Republicans, it would definitely mean it's more likely there would be a public option.

But everything is on the table and potentially off the table right now. There's a lot of horse trading going on and nothing is guaranteed -- Anderson.

COOPER: Dana Bash joins us also on the phone. Dana, what are you hearing from your sources on the Hill about moving forward without Republicans?

DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (via telephone): Well, what I'm hearing -- what I've been hearing for the past couple of days certainly jives with what Ed is saying. And that is from administration and Hill sources on the Democratic side that they are saying that they believe more and more that Republicans, the lead Republicans negotiating who have been negotiating for months are not serious and they are not as serious as they were about really having a robust bipartisan deal.

That is because of comments they say that Chuck Grassley, the lead Republican has made over the past couple of days suggesting that he's not really in negotiations he is just in talks. And comments saying that if he can't get more than four Republicans it's going to be tough. That plus comments from another Senate Republican today, just today Anderson, Jon Kyl, the number two Republican ripping the idea of any kind of health care reform at all.

So all those taken together Democrats say that is a signal that they're probably going to have to do this with Democrats alone. Now, Republicans are saying that Democrats are using that as an excuse but maybe Republicans are giving them one to try to push forward on this without them.

COOPER: You know, Ed Henry, if this is true and this is seriously under consideration it seems a far cry from just what we were hearing over the weekend from the White House, from Kathleen Sebelius, from the President himself, from Robert Gibbs where they were talking about the public option just being one of several things and the key thing is competition and choice.

To go from that to suddenly moving forward just ramming this thing through it seems like all day today they have been saying nothing is changing and nothing has changed. It seems like a lot has changed.

HENRY: Well, you're right. Here is the reason why they are not -- that's the exact reason why they're not pulling the trigger tonight on this. Is because over the weekend it was all about trying to -- the President showing flexibility on Saturday night on that Town Hall but saying, maybe there won't be a public option.

Kathleen Sebelius on John King's "STATE OF THE UNION" on Sunday also leaving the door open to no public option. Although, she didn't close the door either, she left that door open. That was all about trying to bring in Kent Conrad, bringing in a conservative Democrat like Ben Nelson in the Senate, show some flexibility.

And that's why -- you're right, if they ram this through with this procedural motion that will close that door and conservative Democrats will be potentially angry. So what this is all about this weekend was showing flexibility, giving conservative Democrats and moderate Republicans a couple more weeks, until the end of this recess.

The key time frame will be mid September when Congress comes back. They're going to let it go until then. But if there's no movement by then that's when they would pull the trigger -- Anderson.

BASH: And Anderson, it really is curious because I mean it was very interesting. Just today Senator Chuck Grassley, again, he's the lead Republican who has been trying to -- he has been in that room trying to negotiate something. He revealed that in a private meeting with the President he's the one who suggested that the President should make public that he could go for a bill that doesn't have the government-run health care option.

So you have so much of this maneuvering going on and it would seem on the one hand as if somebody like Chuck Grassley, that Republican, could stay onboard because of what the President said. But just like Ed is saying -- I mean, the key here that we have to remember is it's not just about Republicans.

It is the question about what you do to these conservative Democrats. There are so many of them and many more than I think people realize. Members of the President's own party who don't necessarily agree with the core approach of the public option.

And those are the -- that is the tough part for the White House right now.

COOPER: All right, it could get rough. Dana Bash, Ed Henry, I appreciate the reporting thanks.

More now on the "Raw Politics" with political contributor and GOP consultant, Alex Castellanos, who we should mention has been a key figure in the opposition to the White House reform effort. Also, Roy Sekoff, the founding editor of the "Huffington Post."

Roy, what do you make of this? Is this wise for the White House to choose this option?

ROY SEKOFF, FOUNDING EDITOR, HUFFINGTONPOST.COM: Well, it's actually very good news, Anderson, because the only thing that they've been consistent with, is their inconsistency. As they were reporting, it's Sebelius, she's walking back the things she said this weekend. And this has been going on for months. Remember back in July when Obama was in Russia, Rahm Emanuel first floated the trial balloon of "no public option" and then Obama had to walk it back all they from Russia, which is pretty. And Sarah Palin could see it from her porch.

So this is actually I think very good news because this is what people have been waiting for, at least progressives have been waiting for is the President to make a strong move and say this is what I'm for. I'm drawing a line in the sand and there will not be a legislation that I will sign if it doesn't have a public option, the right to negotiate, prevention.

You know really clear signal. And I think this is what we're finally seeing.

COOPER: Alex, this is something President Bush did on several things. Is this wise for President Obama to do?

ALEX CASTELLANOS, GOP STRATEGIST: Well, it still doesn't solve his political problem. He may have drawn a line in the sand but sand shifts. They misplayed their hand politically here. You don't give up your big negotiating chip before you get to the negotiating table.

And that's what Secretary Sebelius did this week saying that they might be willing to give up the public plan. The left wing of the Democratic Party went up in flames. And the worst thing that an incumbent president can have running for reelection is a primary from the wing, a loss of support of enthusiasm.

So Barack Obama here I think is trying to recoup his political chips. We'll have to wait and see if this really means he is not willing to throw the public plan -- the government-run -- plan under the bus.

Remember the problem here is not Republicans. He has 60 votes in the Senate. And now he is saying that the government-run plan is so unpopular, that hey, I'll take 50 votes and I'll give some Democrats cover. A lot of Democrats are going to have tough political races in 2010.

Barack Obama won't be on the ballot but this health plan will be.

SEKOFF: Anderson...

COOPER: Roy, for progressives, is the public option clearly not something that can be negotiated away?

SEKOFF: Yes. I mean, there is no real reform without the public option. And I think what the Democrats are saying is that Alex is right. This could be a losing issue in 2010 if they let it get whittled down to the point when it's reform only in name, right?

And at that point it won't work because it won't work without real reform and then the Republicans will turn around and use it as a cudgel in 2010 and 2012 and saying, "You see, your government can't do anything right." So I think this is a real key issue. And Alex is right. The base is in danger.

There was a story in the "New York Times," if you saw that the grassroots people are not rising up -- Obama's vaunted Grassroots efforts is not rising up on this issue is because they've been so unclear about it.

I mean, people are not going to leave their houses to go knock on the door to pitch something that they're not clear what it is. And I think that's been the problem.

CASTELLANOS: Anderson this is a very different Obama than we saw in the campaign. The Obama of the campaign is there is no red America, no blue America, no Republican, no Democrat. There's one America.

Tonight if what we're hearing is correct, if he does say we're going to cling to the public plan and government plan no matter what, he is saying look, blue America wins. And that's "I'm the President of that America." This government-run plan doesn't have the support in the middle.

That's why he is losing Democrat supports in the Senate and is thinking of trying to jam this through quickly with 50 votes.

COOPER: Roy, do you think this is really something that they would go ahead with or do you think they're maybe just trying to float this idea to put pressure on everyone to come to some sort of agreement?

SEKOFF: Yes, I think that has to be part of it.

If you remember, just today Gibbs said that they hadn't decided whether they were going to stop negotiating with the Republicans. This is after -- as Dana was saying -- all of the signals were sent.

We had Kyl saying that he wasn't going to whip up any votes and Grassley saying that he might even be able to support the thing that he was negotiating for.

So all the signals were there and yet they were saying they weren't sure yet. So my question would be when would they be sure? When the support of the American people dropped to 29 percent? So I think this is something that they are putting out there maybe as a threat that they could pull back. And I think it's a smart move.

COOPER: We're going to leave there -- Alex, go ahead.

CASTELLANOS: Anderson a lot of Democrats I think around the town were saying, if we're not going to get a government-run plan -- the holy grail of a Democratic Party -- then why did Barack Obama burn-up 20 points of political capital? Why did he spend six months, why did he see as favorable a job ratings drop from the 70s to the 50? We could have done these six months ago. So I think, he's got to get those chips back on his side of the table. And if he needs them at the end then, we'll see. I think it's still in play.

COOPER: All right, in play, we'll see. Roy Sekoff, I appreciate it and Alex Castellanos as well.

SEKOFF: See you.

COOPER: A lot more happening tonight on health care and more including Michael Jackson's doctor speaking out for the first time. And Randi Kaye joins us with a quick preview.

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A lot going on on this front Anderson. It has been nearly two months since Michael Jackson died and for the first time tonight, his personal physician who was at his house when he suffered cardiac arrest is talking.

It was not an interview, but a taped video statement released on the Internet. We'll play that video for you in just a few minutes. And you can judge for yourself what you think of Dr. Murray's statements that he quote, "told the truth."

Remember now, he is the central figure in an investigation that is focused on manslaughter and a killer cocktail of drugs.

Also new tonight, Michael Jackson will finally be laid to rest. We'll give you the details on when and where.

COOPER: All right, Randi, thanks.

As always there is more online at You can join the live chat and talk to other viewers around the world and in the United State right now underway.

Up next, back to health care. 360 MD Sanjay Gupta taking the questions that you've been sending in to our site.

And later, new evidence concerning who may have ordered these Ninja clad assassins to kill Byrd and Melanie Billings. Or were they just robbers? But one of their 13 children saw that terrible evening. We'll talk to the local sheriff who's got plenty to say.

We'll be right back.


COOPER: We began the hour with the breaking news on health care reform where the White House could be getting ready to stop trying to win Republicans or even some conservative Democrats and instead push it through the Senate with 51 votes.

So let's turn now to 360 MD Sanjay Gupta. He's been gathering your questions about health care reform at It has been a busy day no doubt.

Sanjay, our first question is from Shatika (ph), who asks what would the potential public option actually cover?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know when cover your primary care, your emergency care. There would be several levels of care, Shatika as well. You'd have a basic plan, an enhanced plan, a premium plan, a premium plus plan all of these at different rates, different premiums.

I think what's also important -- and this might be to your point, Shatika -- not everyone would be eligible to be covered under the public option. So imagine the situations like this. You're uninsured. You go to this thing called an exchange, a health exchange and you look at all the different options over there including a public option.

Unless you -- if you don't have access to private insurance or Medicare or Medicaid, you might qualify for the public option. But you also can't have premiums that are less than 11 percent of your total income as well -- that's a lot of numbers to throw at you. Just keep in mind that not everyone is going to qualify for the public option.

COOPER: So the next question is from Janet. She wants to know how does the plan focus on prevention?

GUPTA: Well, this is a great question and something we've been hearing almost since the beginning of these discussions about health care reform. And some of the specifics are there's the Senate Finance Committee which says it's going to give some funding to the states to try and come up with some innovative programs for health and wellness.

The House committee says they're going to come up with some national strategies to make us a healthier country overall.

A lot of people say look, it makes a lot of sense to keep someone from getting sick in the first place. So it might mean for a woman out there who has diabetes, she might be able to get blood sugar checks in her home as opposed to coming to the E.R. with blood sugars that are out of control.

Other people will say look, it's very hard to legislate good behavior. There are people who have fantastic insurance or access to everything in the world and they're still not very good at taking care of themselves. So how exactly it'll play out a little bit harder to tell.

COOPER: Yes, it's very hard indeed. A question from Dottie, and she writes and asks, how will the reform effect those on Medicare and Medicaid?

GUPTA: These are great questions I have to say. Dottie, first of all, what we're hearing from the White House, from the President specifically is that there should be no impact on the overall services provided by Medicare or Medicaid.

Having said that you also hear the hundreds of billions of dollars of wasteful spending of Medicare will be eliminated. Now, what people are worried about and what a lot of the noise is about sort of cutting through that is that if you're cutting money from Medicare at the same time that a population is getting older, how is that all going to work out? Are you going to be able to still be able to cover everyone on Medicare the way that it's covered now?

And Anderson, you and I have talked about this, but fewer than 10 percent of people in Medicare say that they have had a bad experience with Medicare. And most of the people are generally satisfied with the way things are now.

Two more points. It's likely that under the health care reform that we're hearing about Medicare and Medicaid would likely get bigger. Medicare may allow people between the ages of 55 and 64 to buy in at full cost and Medicaid may raise the income level at which you qualify for Medicaid. So possibly expansion of both those governmental programs as well.

COOPER: All right, Sanjay, I appreciate it. Thanks.

A lot more ahead, including the local sheriff on new evidence on the murder of Byrd and Melanie Billings.

And later, more on the Jackson case: details on the burial, a new lawsuit, and his doctor speaking out for the first time.


DR. CONDRAD MURRAY, MICHAEL JACKSON'S PHYSICIAN: Please, don't worry. As long as I keep God in my heart and you in my life, I will be fine.



COOPER: Tonight we are hearing a new voice in the Michael Jackson story. For the first time, the singer's doctor Conrad Murray is speaking out in a YouTube video. We're going to tell you what he's saying coming up.

But first Erica Hill has a "360 Bulletin" -- Erica.

ERICA HILL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, conservative columnist and former CNN "CROSSFIRE" co-host, Robert Novak is being remembered tonight as a Washington institution and a staunch ideologue who embraced the nickname "The Prince of Darkness." He died today after a yearlong battle with brain cancer. Bob Novak was 78.

A new U.S. intelligence report describes how Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is moving to silence his critics by shutting down privately owned media outlets.

Now, the report points to the recent closure of nearly three dozen privately-owned radio stations and a proposed law to punish so- called media crimes. Venezuela's government says the radio station shut downs and the media crimes law are not related.

For the first time ever, the U.S. Army planning to require its more than one million soldiers take intensive training in emotional resiliency; translation here, they are getting help dealing with stress. According to a news reports the program is meant to improve combat performance and also stem the mental health problems plaguing about a fifth of troops returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.

The first hurricane of the 2009 Atlantic season, Bill, is now a major category three storm, packing sustained winds near 125 miles per hour. The good news here though, forecasters say that storm, Anderson, poses no danger to the United States.

COOPER: That is good news, indeed. The season has begun.

All right, ahead on 360, junk science. Is it putting innocent people in prison and letting criminals go free? Tonight a "CSI Reality Check."

And more from Dr. Conrad Murray that Jackson physician, telling his side of the story in a videotaped message and insisting the "truth will prevail."


COOPER: We are fast approaching perhaps the most dangerous moment in Afghanistan since American forces first went in; more than 60,000 Americans in harm's way two days from a presidential election with the Taliban going all out to try to make it a blood bath.

They hit a western convoy in the main road out of the capital of Kabul, killing at least eight and wounding more than 50. Among the dead, one soldier, two Afghans working for the U.N.

Also today, a rocket attack on Kabul's presidential palace. No injuries reported on that but two American troops were killed in eastern Afghanistan and three Afghans blown-up at a checkpoint.

And remember those purple fingers that Iraqi voters got? Well, in Afghanistan they are planning to do the same. And the Taliban -- they are now threatening to chop those fingers off. High stakes all around.

Joining us: national security analyst Peter Bergen, who spent a lot of time in the region; and Michael Ware as well, two veterans of the conflict.

Peter, in these latest attacks the Taliban has already made it clear they're going to interfere with the election. How effective have they been? Do you think can they be?

PETER BERGEN, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, unfortunately they're somewhat effective. I mean, up to around 10 percent of the polling places probably aren't going to open because of Taliban intimidation. And I think these kinds of attacks -- I was just in Afghanistan talking to folks there and a lot of people advising their families particularly if they live outside Kabul not to vote because they are concerned that either on the way to the polling station or coming out of there that they'll be subject to attacks by the Taliban.

COOPER: Michael, the fact that they did a rocket attack on the presidential palace, what does that say?

MICHAEL WARE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think it's symbolic more than anything. It wasn't effective. We've seen attacks in the capital of Kabul before. In fact on that same Jalalabad road I've witnessed a suicide attack on an ISAF convoy. So to some degree it's not new but it's timely.

It's a reminder. The Taliban is using the power of perception to intimidate voters. I don't believe their power to effectively stop the elections exists. But can they disrupt, can they spoil in certain areas? Can they cast a pall over it? That is possible.

COOPER: Peter, how does the battle -- where Marines are now fighting, how is that going?

BERGEN: Well, I think, according to the spokesmen for the Marines in the south the battle is -- they haven't necessarily encountered a large numbers of the Taliban. I mean, the Taliban had plenty of notice to leave. There have been spots where there has been pretty intense fighting. But we've seen the Taliban mounting attacks in the north.

So clearly the Taliban have a strategy if they know that there's going to be large attacks by U.S. forces in the south they're going to try and mount other attacks both in the north and now as we've seen in the capital.

COOPER: From your perspective, Michael, how do you see the battle?

WARE: Well, I think the battle has only just begun. If you look at the map of where the Marines and the Brits are targeting, that's Helmand province. That's part of the heartland but only part of the heartland.

COOPER: But basically the Taliban has faded away in a lot of these areas?

WARE: As they did against the Russians as any guerilla force does, it's classic insurgent tactics. If you face overwhelming forces, you pull back the fight to wait for another day.

COOPER: And the fact that the border in Pakistan is so porous it makes that all the easier?

WARE: Absolutely. I mean their lines of communication, their supply lines in and out of Pakistan remain intact. And just in that one province alone, Helmand, 4,000 Marines have gone in. Butt they're not even halfway through the province yet certainly in terms of the Taliban concentration.

There is a long way to go if anyone thinks that we can take Helmand province.

COOPER: Peter, do we know, I mean, is Karzai expected to win this election?

BERGEN: Well, yes because he may lose the first round. He has to get 50 percent in which case he goes to the run-off and he will almost certainly win the second round. But he could even win the first round, Anderson.

I would predict that that's quite possible. In the most recent poll he was getting 44 percent. He needs 50 percent. He's allowed the return of a war lord, by the name of Dostum, an Uzbek warlord who controls about 10 percent of the vote. And he's cast in his lot with Karzai and that might well put him over the 50 percent mark in which case it's only one round.

COOPER: And Michael what does a Karzai victory mean for America?

WARE: Well, for America this is a very complicated election. Obviously, Karzai has been an ally of America. He's relied on America but he has failed to deliver for America. I mean, his government by definition of any Afghan government is a hodgepodge of war lords with an administration riddled with corruption.

The fact that he needs Dostum to push him over the line, Dostum is currently being investigated by the Obama administration for potential crimes against humanity.

COOPER: Right, there's allegations that they were -- took part in mass executions of Taliban prisoners.

WARE: All the Taliban during the U.S. invasion. But that is the nature of Afghan politics. But I would tell you that this is an election where U.S. strategic interests have very little to gain but are risking a lot or could have a lot to lose.

COOPER: Peter, how -- I mean, can one put a timetable on this war in Afghanistan?

BERGEN: Well Anderson, I think there's a political timetable in the United States and other NATO countries which is probably about a year. Which is -- if there isn't sort of progress being made already 54 percent of Americans think the war was a mistake according to a recent poll by CNN. That number went up from 42 percent a few months ago and it was only nine percent in 2002.

So the American public is getting increasingly skeptical. 51 House Democrats voted against funding for the war back in May. You know the Republicans are certainly going to make an issue of this if progress isn't happening and as the midterm elections in 2010 gear up.

So I think the political timeline is about a year. To get Afghanistan on the track to stability and relative prosperity, that's going to take longer than a year.

COOPER: All right, long indeed. Peter Bergen, I appreciate it. Michael Ware thanks very much as always.

A lot more to learn at, including Peter Bergen's dispatch on the Taliban titled "Hardly Winning."

New information raises so many new questions. Join the live chat right now at

We'll have the latest on the Michael Jackson story. His doctor, Conrad Murray, speaking out for the first time. Why now and why on YouTube? You can guess that.

Also, junk science in court; convicting innocent people. CSI is a fantasy, reality? A lot of these things are not precise and downright phony.

Tonight, a man who spent half his life in prison because of shoddy crime scene practices and it could happen to you.

We'll be right back.


COOPER: Tonight the doctor at the center of Michael Jackson's death investigation is speaking out on camera for the first time telling, he says, the truth about what happened. Well, telling very little about it.

Dr. Conrad Murray was Jackson's primary physician. He is now the subject of a possible manslaughter case and allegedly gave Jackson a powerful anesthetic within the last 24 hours of his life.

Murray has obviously kept a very low profile since Jackson's death. Today that changed.

Randi Kaye has an "Up Close" look.


KAYE (voice-over): It may be just 60 seconds long, but that's long enough for Michael Jackson's doctor to say he told the truth.

DR. CONRAD MURRAY, MICHAEL JACKSON'S PHYSICIAN: I have done all I could do. I told the truth and I have faith the truth will prevail.

KAYE: Dr. Murray has been interviewed twice by investigators. But this is the first time since his star patient died back in June that he is speaking out publicly.

The doctor was at Jackson's Beverly Hills mansion when he stopped breathing. He's at the center of the investigation into the star's death. His lawyer's office says he is, quote, "under siege with threats and has a body guard 24/7." MURRAY: Because of all that is going on, I'm afraid to return phone calls or use my e-mail. Therefore, I recorded this video to let all of you know that I have been receiving your messages.

KAYE: A source with knowledge of the investigation told CNN that Dr. Murray gave Jackson the powerful sedative Diprivan, also known as Propofol, within 24 hours of his death. That anesthetic which investigators believe killed him is not supposed to be used outside a hospital setting.

There is no mention of Michael Jackson or his treatment on the video.

(on camera): A spokeswoman for Dr. Murray's lawyer says the video was recorded last week inside a Houston home. Dr. Murray did not write it but it was his idea to record it. She told me that Dr. Murray's lawyer gets 20 to 30 calls a day from patients, even strangers asking him to tell Dr. Murray they love him and are praying for him.

(voice-over): Dr. Murray's clinics in Houston and Las Vegas have been searched by federal drug agents. His Vegas home was also searched.

MURRAY: Your messages give me strength and courage and keep me going. They mean the world to me. Please, don't worry. As long as I keep God in my heart and you in my life, I will be fine.

KAYE: But there is more. Dr. Murray may also be the target of a wrongful death lawsuit brought by the Jackson family. The family's lawyer said the idea has been, quote, "floated" and that Dr. Murray and even Jackson's tour promoter, AEG, could be named.

Dr. Murray's lawyer's spokeswoman said, "We are asking people to reserve their judgment until we have definite ruling on what killed Michael Jackson."

At AEG a spokesman told me he was not aware of any lawsuit.

Dr. Murray was not an AEG employee but was hand-picked by Jackson to treat him on tour. He was to be paid $150,000 a month; money from the tour's budget that had been advanced to Jackson. The singer died before Dr. Murray ever saw a penny.


COOPER: Randi joins us now.

I guess him going on YouTube is a way to get his voice out there without actually being asked any questions.

KAYE: Right. This was really for his supporters and his former patients because now his clinics are at least temporarily closed.

But they're really -- his team, his lawyer and the team behind him right now, is trying to show his softer side. They have told me over the months since Jackson's death that they have been trying to find a way to get him out there and show another side of him instead of him being painted as this monster.

COOPER: But without anyone asking him tough questions because he can give his side across without...

KAYE: Right. Clearly he is using a teleprompter.

But what's interesting here is he didn't apologize. He certainly didn't admit to any wrongdoing. In fact, he said he's told the truth, probably to investigators although he didn't really finish that sentence.

We've seen this before. His star patient did this. Michael Jackson came out at the height of the child molestation and used the Internet and put out this video. We've seen it with other celebrities.

This is one way of reaching people...

COOPER: I'm not sure how many favors he did for himself there. It wasn't -- I'm not sure how effective his communication skills are.

KAYE: I'm not sure either. We'll find that out, I guess, in the days and weeks ahead.

COOPER: New burial plans. I was stunned. I thought Michael Jackson had been buried somewhere. He hasn't been buried.

KAYE: You and a bunch of people. And it turns out that the family has now confirmed he hasn't been buried yet. The plan is to bury him a week from Saturday, August 29th. That actually would have been his 51st birthday.

It'll be a very private ceremony; just the family and very close friends. It will be at Forest Lawn at Glendale.

COOPER: And about 100 helicopters.

KAYE: Exactly. And media trucks. This cemetery is about 15 minutes from the Forest Lawn Hollywood Hills where he has been until now. There are a lot of celebrities there.

And that's one reason why he may be buried there because the cemetery is very used to media and used to having a lot of celebrities there including Humphrey Bogart, Sammy Davis Jr., Clark Cable, Jimmy Stewart, Walt Disney is buried there. It's really a bit of a Hollywood tourist trap.

Pope John Paul II visited there when he was in Los Angeles years ago. Ronald Reagan got married there. 60,000 people got married there.

So it is quite an attraction. I'm sure people will be looking to try and find where Michael Jackson is buried.

COOPER: All right. Randi, appreciate it. Thanks for staying on top of it.

Coming up next on 360, the danger of DNA: forensic science put this guy behind bars even though he was apparently innocent. How could it happen? We'll show you.

Also, we are live with Dr. Sanjay Gupta as he takes us inside a crime lab for a behind the scenes look at the reality of CSI.


COOPER: Tonight a stunning new development in forensic science, and it could be a major setback for prosecutors and police. Researchers in Israel today said they were able to engineer DNA, basically fabricating the building blocks of a person's genetic code, and placing the fake sample at a crime scene. Now if true, it could be a remarkable development. It's also a troubling one.

DNA has been used to exonerate hundreds of people who were wrongly convicted. Tonight, as we begin a series of reports on forensic science -- junk science often -- we have a story of how it put an apparently innocent man behind bars for decades and how a crime lab in Texas was allegedly responsible.

Gary Tuchman has more in tonight's "Crime & Punishment" report.


GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is Ernest Sonnier's first moment of freedom after spending half his life as a prisoner.

(on camera): How old are you, Ernest?


TUCHMAN: How old were you when you went to prison?

SONNIER: Twenty-three.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): Behind bars since 1986 for a kidnapping and rape.

(on camera): Are you angry, Ernest?

SONNIER: I'm angry, but I'm not -- you know, I forgive, though. I forgive, but I won't forget.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): Sonnier is angry because he's always said he was innocent. And once DNA testing became possible, he wanted authorities to examine the genetic evidence.

Now, all this time later, they agree. The DNA indicates Sonnier did not commit this crime. You've heard this type of story before.

But here's a twist. Sonnier is now the sixth prisoner freed following accusations of shoddy work from the same laboratory run by the Houston police.

BARRY SCHECK, INNOCENCE PROJECT: The Houston Police Department crime lab is Ground Zero for everything that has gone wrong with crime labs in the criminal justice system.

TUCHMAN: Barry Scheck is the co-director of the Innocence Project, which works to exonerate wrongly convicted people. The group took on Sonnier's case.

SCHECK: There were numerous instances where crime-lab analysts misreported their results or hid exculpatory results. And the whole laboratory was willfully mismanaged.

TUCHMAN: Add to that a leaky laboratory roof and a tropical storm that flooded the lab in 2002, and you see why some of the work that comes from this lab earned the label junk science.

PATRICIA LYKOS, HARRIS COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY: The past problems that they had, I think, were unconscionable.

TUCHMAN: Patricia Lykos is the local district attorney, just taking office this past January. She wants a physician-operated county lab to take over duties of the troubled city police lab.

LYKOS: It is absolutely vital that we have an independent crime lab.

TUCHMAN: The victim in this case was kidnapped at an old gas station, which used to operate on this Houston corner. The victim identified Sonnier, and jurors were told his hair was found in the vehicle.

But now the DNA shows it definitely was not his hair. Incredibly, the DNA indicates two other men committed the crime. And authorities know who they are: felons who are no longer behind bars.

(on camera): Junk science not only wrecks the life of someone like Ernest Sonnier, but it harms us, the public. That's because the person or persons who kidnapped the victim from this lot nearly a quarter century ago have never been held accountable.

So will authorities reopen the case and prosecute? The answer is no, because the statute of limitations has expired.

How does it make you feel that the two people who the DNA implicates in this particular case can't be prosecuted?

LYKOS: Because of the statute of limitations. It makes me sick.

TUCHMAN: What is that?

SONNIER: It's a monitor.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): For now, Sonnier wears that monitor so his whereabouts can be tracked. He still hasn't officially been exonerated. Because he had a criminal record prior to this arrest, the D.A. says more investigation is necessary before he's officially cleared. But...

LYKOS: If what exists now had existed when Mr. Sonnier was tried, he never would have been indicted for that offense.

TUCHMAN: But the same DNA evidence that has led to his release has been available for a long time. Why was it never looked at over the years?

LYKOS: Because there was no mechanism for it.

TUCHMAN: But now there is a mechanism. Every conviction reached using DNA evidence is now being reviewed in Houston's Harris County; hundreds of cases. The wrongly convicted will go free. The correctly convicted will stay where they belong.

Gary Tuchman, CNN, Houston.


COOPER: So scary.

So how does this happen? And do juries in the criminal justice system put too much faith in forensic science? Let's get some CSI facts from 360 MD Sanjay Gupta. He joins us now.

How accurate is DNA testing? We had Jeffrey Toobin on, who said it's basically the gold standard.

GUPTA: It is. And if you have a complete DNA sample, the chance of it being inaccurate is about one in 10 trillion. And so there's almost six billion people on the planet, so it is the gold standard.

There are problems, though. If it is improperly collected, if it is old, if it has somehow been contaminated at any point along the process, it really throws everything into question. So there are lots of different steps to make it accurate. So if you can dot all those "I's," cross all those "T's," it would be a good -- very good sample.

COOPER: But I mean, this person we're talking about was convicted in part because of hairs found on the victim. It turns out they weren't his -- his hairs and that was proven by later DNA testing.

GUPTA: Yes. That's pretty remarkable.

You know, I was at a lab like this today, looking specifically at hair samples. In fact, as part of this, Anderson, I had my own hair tested, trying to figure out could they make a correlation between hair from different parts of my head. And in fact, it was actually more difficult for them than I would have thought. They needed lots of hair, for example, to do it, first of all.

And second of all, hair can be different in different parts of your head and they can have different amounts of pigment. So it's really hardly ever used in isolation. And it sounds like from Gary's piece, maybe it was in this case, but it really shouldn't be. It should be used as part of a broader investigation, so using in other evidence at the scene and obviously, if you have DNA to try to use that.

COOPER: I mean, it seems like some of these labs are under tremendous pressure and frankly just aren't up to the job or don't have enough resources or shoddy equipment or shoddy facilities.

GUPTA: You know, I was talking to some of the investigators today, about 100 investigators. They handle each about 600 cases a year. And each case is day and days of work. So you know, I can just tell from a sort of macro standpoint that there is a lot of work for any particular investigator.

But what I did sense, talking to these investigators was that there are specific pieces of data, whether it be hair or fiber analysis, looking at ballistics or gunpowder or even DNA, that unless they're positive, at least in the lab that I visited, they're not going to put that forward.

So it's hard to get irrefutable evidence. Again, Anderson, besides the first question you asked, with the complete DNA sample.

COOPER: And we're learning ballistics testing is not as accurate as a lot of people have been led to believe over the years; bite mark testing, the same kind of time. You're putting together this piece for tomorrow night on crime labs. You're going to show us how they work, what they're up against.

GUPTA: Yes, you know, and it was really interesting for me, because I haven't seen some of this before, Anderson.

You mentioned ballistics, so how does that work exactly? We had someone actually fire the gun for us, look at the bullets, trying to figure out, what are those fingerprints, if you will, inside the barrel of a gun. How does that work?

We looked at hair and fiber analysis under the microscope. I'm going to show you exactly how they figure out what's known and what's unknown and try and correlate those things.

But again, finally, as you mentioned, DNA analysis. It is the gold standard, but where can it go wrong? We go in the lab and really see that firsthand.

COOPER: All right. Cool. We look forward to it.

Sanjay Gupta, doctor. Thanks. Tomorrow.

If you want a 360 alert on stories we're covering -- and well, frankly, who doesn't -- we can help you out. It's easy; just text "alert" to 22360. And remember standard messaging rates apply.

Up next, speaking out, the Bollywood star who's upset with how he was treated here in the U.S. What he went through sparked massive protests in India, his fans taking to the streets, outraged at America. What this is all about, coming up. And having trouble parallel parking? Wait until you see what this kid can do. It's tonight's "Shot." We'll be right back.


COOPER: Coming up, kids behind the wheel driving with gusto. Well, until in one case the police intervened. That's tonight's Shot."

But first, Erica Hill joins us with a "360 News & Business Bulletin" -- Erica.

HILL: Anderson, some good news for a change from Detroit. We'll stick with cars for a minute. GM bringing back hundreds of assembly line workers to make some 60,000 more vehicles. Most of these are fuel-efficient cars. Demand there driven by the "Cash for Clunkers" program. That and other news helping to fuel a rally today on Wall Street.

A "360" follow for you. There are new details tonight in the Florida murders of Melanie and Byrd Billings. New court documents reveal the alleged mastermind said he was hired by car dealers to, quote, "whack" Byrd Billings. And one of the couple's 13 children, a 10-year-old with special needs, actually saw his father murdered.

Now, we did have the local sheriff booked for a live interview on this tonight. Unfortunately, technical difficulties got in the way. But we will continue to follow the story for you.

The University of Pittsburgh saying "no thanks" to a gunman's blood money. George Sodini is the fitness club killer, you may recall. Well, he left his alma mater nearly a quarter million dollars. The university, though, today releasing a statement saying the money should benefit his 12 victims and their families instead.

And an Indian movie star stopped at Newark Airport says he'll be making fewer visits to this country because of it. Officials say they stopped Shah Rukh Khan for routine questioning. That incident happened last Friday. It kicked off protests and a political uproar back in India. He has since asked people to sort of, you know, lay low and calm down, because it really wasn't that bad. The questioning was a little humiliating, but wants people to back off. But again, he may make fewer trips here...

COOPER: The irony is he was here to promote a movie he's made about racial profiling of Muslims after -- in the wake of 9/11.

HILL: Yes.

COOPER: And he gets detained for, like, more than an hour, I think, at the airport.

HILL: It was, yes.

COOPER: All right. Time for our "Beat 360" winners, our daily challenge to viewers, a chance to come up with a caption better than the one we can come up with for a photo that we put on the blog every day.

So tonight's picture -- oops, dropped something -- Vice President Biden and Secretary of State Clinton listen as President Obama meets with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in the Oval Office.

Our staff winner tonight, Rick. His caption: "I would have put the desk over there, the lamp over there, the mini bar here."

COOPER: Not sure which one of those was thinking that. Probably both.

HILL: Could be both.

COOPER: Our viewer is Billy from West Virginia. His caption: "Hello, Awkward, I'd like to introduce you to my friend, Uncomfortable."

Bill, your "Beat 360" T-shirt is on the way. By the way, someone stopped me today and asked me how they can get a "Beat 360" T-shirt.

HILL: And you told them all they have to do is win.


HILL: "Beat 360."

COOPER: They're like, "No really, how do I get one?" I was like, you really have to win. It's the only way to do it.

HILL: What did they think, just because you're Anderson Cooper and it's your show, you can pull strings?

COOPER: And then I said, "I don't even have one." And they said, "Right." And it's true. I don't. Anyway...

HILL: That's just because you don't want one.

COOPER: No, I'd love to have one. I'm just not clever enough.

HILL: There's going to be one on your desk when you get here tomorrow morning. You mark my words, Cooper.

COOPER: Just ahead on 360, a pint-sized driver who can parallel park a car like no one's business. Tonight's "Shot" just might put your parking skills to shame. We'll be right back.


COOPER: Erica, for "The Shot" we found another kid in a car, this time on the Web site We don't know exactly how old he is or where he's from. The video pretty much tells the story. Take a look.



HILL: I love it.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you take a picture of it?



HILL: Look at...

COOPER: I know. I like that.

HILL: Yes.

COOPER: I wish I could do that well.

HILL: You know, that reminds me of -- remember the kid, oh, maybe a month ago...


HILL: ... who went for a joyride, 7 years old?

COOPER: Oh, yes, yes, yes.

HILL: Yes. This little guy, I think, is him.

COOPER: I never saw this, actually.

HILL: Maybe you were away.

So a little kid in Utah led police on a car chase. It turned out he just didn't want to go to church, so he took the car and hit the road.

COOPER: Wait. Someone was videotaping him while he was driving?

HILL: I think this is a different one. I don't think this is the one that we were actually...

COOPER: Yes, this is not...

HILL: ... planning to play.


HILL: That looks like a totally different video.

COOPER: That is not the kid who was fleeing from police.

HILL: That looks like this child is being encouraged by some older members of his family to drive. COOPER: Yes.

HILL: And we don't endorse that here on AC 360.

COOPER: We certainly don't. We don't approve of that.

HILL: If you're taking the car to get away from Sunday school, that's a totally different story. But if your mom is in the car, not cool.

COOPER: I have no idea what that video is about, but enjoy. You can interpret it as you will. I like also how everybody was digitized in that video.

HILL: Just in case no one can be incriminated.

COOPER: Why show it at all? Let's show this one again, shall we?

HILL: Yes. Show us how it's done.

COOPER: There you go. My favorite is still the kid coming home from the dentist, high as a kite. Remember that one?

HILL: Oh, yes. His poor dad took some flak for that.

COOPER: I know he did. But, you know, the kid -- anyway, you can see...

HILL: Apparently the kid is fine.

COOPER: Yes, he's fine. And the dentist lost his license.

That does it for 360. Thanks for watching.

"LARRY KING" starts now.

I'll see you tomorrow might.