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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Killings at the Canal: The Army Tapes; Oprah Winfrey Calls It Quits; Interview With Michigan Congressman Pete Hoekstra
Aired November 19, 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: After more than two decades on the air and almost too many awards to count, Oprah Winfrey today left many speechless. She is stepping down, giving up her talk popular daytime talk show. We will tell what you is behind the sudden announcement and what comes next for Oprah. Ryan Seacrest is with us weighing in also on Oprah's impact.
And, later, our investigation continues into the "Killings at the Canal: The Army Tapes." Three decorated sergeants convicted of murdering four detainees in their custody. A fellow soldier turned them in. He talks tonight only to CNN about why he did it. And you can judge for yourself if he's a hero or if he betrayed his band of brothers.
First up, though, tonight "Keeping Them Honest": the accused Fort Hood killer Major Nidal Hasan and a 360 exclusive. We now know from former co-workers and documents that Major Hasan seems to have developed into a personally troubled and radical Islamic extremist while serving as a military psychiatrist. That's what come out since the November 5 shootings.
Today, as the Senate Homeland Security Committee opened its own investigation into the rampage, Defense Secretary Robert Gates announced a broad review of military policies and the events leading up to the massacre.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERT GATES, U.S. SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: I have ordered a 45-day review with three areas of emphasis, first, to find possible gaps or deficiencies in Defense Department programs, processes and procedures for identifying service members who could potentially pose credible threats to others.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Now, here's where it gets very interesting. That probe is expected to look at procedures, as he said, for flagging and treating military personnel who exhibit possible radical beliefs. Secretary Gates promised full and open disclosure about the findings.
But, "Keeping Them Honest," you're about to meet a woman who says she's already helped write a report on these very things more than a year ago, at the military's request. So, essentially, the defense secretary said today, we're going to look into something that they have apparently already looked into. Was there a report ignored?
CNN has confirmed that Shannen Rossmiller, an independent cyberterrorism analyst, was contacted by the Defense Department by e- mail and asked to contribute to a report called "The Radicalization of Members Within DOD," a report she says was completed in April of 2008.
Rossmiller says the objective was to provide a tool for military supervisors to recognize Muslim service members with radical tendencies. She says the intel community at the Pentagon received the report, which was initially unclassified, but apparently no longer is.
Now, Ms. Rossmiller joins me now, along with Congressman Pete Hoekstra of Michigan. He's the ranking Republican on the House Intelligence Committee.
Shannen, I know it's apparently now classified. What can you tell us, as much as can you, about this report that you contributed to?
SHANNEN ROSSMILLER, INDEPENDENT CYBERTERRORISM ANALYST: Well, the -- the specific part of the report that I contributed and consulted on involved a case out of Washington State, the National Guardsman, Ryan Anderson, who had been convicted of trying to defect to al Qaeda, to join their ranks and provide -- he ended providing classified and sensitive material that would have allowed 16 crew members within his tank command to be killed.
And, so, my interest and my focus was all the different identifying criteria that were used as a part of his radicalization process, and how that factored into what he did and what we could gather from that in hindsight to prevent something like what happened at Fort Hood from happening.
COOPER: So, essentially, it was sort of a road map for what went wrong with that guy and -- and signs that other commanders should watch out for?
ROSSMILLER: That's correct. That's my understanding, yes.
COOPER: And who was the report written for? And -- and do you know who saw it, or should have seen it?
ROSSMILLER: Well, OK, the report was written from the military perspective. It was entitled "Radicalization of Members of the DOD."
And what it was for was for them to have tools to look within their ranks to spot different criteria that showed signs and red flags of radicalization, and how to spot those, identify them, and then, from there, be able to head the problem off, and so we, you know, could avoid anything from materializing threat-related, again, like what we saw with Fort Hood.
COOPER: And who was it sent to?
ROSSMILLER: It's my understanding that -- I don't know personally who -- everybody it was sent to, but it's my understanding the report was sent to defense -- intelligence officials within the defense community, as well as the greater intelligence community.
COOPER: And, as you learn more about Major Hasan and what some are seeing as red flags of his behavior, I mean, the contact with this radical imam, the proselytizing, does he fit the pattern of the people the report warned against?
ROSSMILLER: You know, absolutely.
In fact, what was chilling for me was how strikingly similar the same criteria that I know was available about Anderson before my involvement with him, which became a part of the investigation, we saw, that -- we're seeing that, all those things come out with Major Hasan. And it's really disturbing to think that, on such a great level of what we have seen in this -- these red flags that are being reported, that this actually happened and went with no action for so long.
Frankly, the Defense Department report was intended to prevent something like this. And it's -- it's just astonishing that this even had to happen, after something like that has been prepared as a useful tool.
COOPER: Congressman Hoekstra, you're the ranking member of the -- Congressman Hoekstra you're the ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee. What do you make of Shannen's story and the other information that's since come out?
REP. PETE HOEKSTRA (R), MICHIGAN: Well, I think Shannen's story is probably very accurate.
One of the things that's really struck me, Anderson, over the last few days, as we have talked about this, really since the -- since the incident two weeks ago, is that people are saying that, wow, this is brand-new.
But, you know, in my travels in talking with counterterrorism experts around the world, especially in Europe, this whole process of radicalization has gone through a much more in-depth study, a much more professional rigor than I think what we have seen in the United States.
And we could have learned a lot from our allies in Europe. You know, after the killing of Theo van Gogh in the Netherlands, the Dutch initiated a real in-depth study of the whole radicalization process. We could have learned from them. And it looks like we didn't.
COOPER: You know, one of the thing the New York Police Department has done in recent years is send police officers overseas after major terrorist incidents -- I know they sent people to Mumbai after the attacks there -- so that the New York City Police Department could learn from how police forces have dealt with other terrorist incidents.
It doesn't -- maybe that is something that the U.S. military should have been doing, if they haven't been doing that. HOEKSTRA: Well, it's not only the U.S. military. It's also the intelligence community, so that we can get a thorough understanding. This radicalization process is a very, very complicated process. Not everybody fits into a nice box.
We heard that, after the Fort Hood shootings, well, they said, well, there's no indication that there were -- that there were any co- conspirators or that he was directed by someone overseas. I think Shannen would probably agree. That doesn't necessarily mean they can't be a radical jihadist.
There are a whole range of individuals who go through different radicalization processes. And they may act out different. Some of them may be in contact with al Qaeda. Some may not. It doesn't mean that they -- that they are outside of the box of radical Islam. They very much can be inside of that box.
COOPER: You know, Congressman, last night, Sarah Palin suggested that part of the blame for the Fort Hood tragedy lies with those who may have been too politically correct to, in her words, profile the suspect.
Do you support some form of profiling? And how do you walk that line between paying attention to warning signs, but not putting all Muslims serving in the military under a cloud of suspicion?
ROSSMILLER: Well, I think what you need to do here again, Anderson, is you need to understand the phenomenon.
I think the political correctness here is not about profiling. It is a reluctance to acknowledge that this problem actually exists, to confront it, and ultimately then to defeat it. I think that we can study this problem. We can understand the process of radicalization, so that we are in a better position to identify the signals, the red flags, when they occur.
If we ignore the problem and just say, well, we're going to profile based on, you know, looks or ethnicity or religion, that's where you get into a problem, because you haven't done the in-depth research. We need to do the in-depth research into the radicalization process, do the appropriate training.
Then we can have a better likelihood that we can keep America safe. I don't think we have done, because we're not sure exactly how to go about it. Our allies have done a lot of this good hard work.
COOPER: Shannen, I mean, I guess our enemies would like to do nothing more than for the U.S. military to try to eliminate all Muslims from their ranks. That would kind of prove their point.
I mean, ideally, having Muslim soldiers, Muslim officers in our ranks is a force multiplier. They, you know, can speak another language, can add cultural benefits, you know, understanding to people who -- in countries where we're serving overseas.
ROSSMILLER: Yes. No, I would agree, to the extent that, you know, you're not going to eliminate it fully, but the one point I would disagree with is that, you know, our terrorist enemies wouldn't necessarily want all the Muslims out of our military, because, frankly, there has been penetration. There is penetration.
And, you know, this isn't the topic for tonight, but it's an ongoing process. And, so, you know, there's value from their perspective in having these people inside.
But, at the same time, the point you make about having learned from our, you know, European allies, and even tapping on the resources from within good-natured -- you know, the good-natured side of the Muslim community that is within the military, it can be done. It should be done.
And -- but as soon as, like, what the congressman was talking about, putting it in a box, you can't do that. We're talking about, you know, different cultures that have -- where we have a real lack of understanding.
And we -- we look at it from a certain perspective that just doesn't jibe.
ROSSMILLER: And, so, until we have that understanding on a broader scale, this is going to continue. And -- but the point is, is, it doesn't have to.
COOPER: And there are warning signs that...
ROSSMILLER: Profiling, we do by our subconscious nature anyway. It's just -- that's the way it is. But if there's cause to profile...
ROSSMILLER: ... we need to do it.
COOPER: Looking out for those warning signs, as you have been doing in that report.
Shannen Rossmiller, we will continue to follow it and try to figure out what happened to your report.
Congressman Peter Hoekstra, we appreciate your time tonight as well. Thank you, sir.
HOEKSTRA: Thank you.
COOPER: A lot more ahead. You can join the live chat at -- now under way. Tell us -- let us know what you think about this at AC360.com.
Just ahead now: Oprah's stunning announcement, the decision she has made regarding her show and how it may change the landscape of TV. Ryan Seacrest joins us for that.
And later on 360, our special investigation, "Killings at the Canal: The Army Tapes" -- tonight, now only on CNN, you are going to hear from the soldier who broke ranks to reveal the secret that put three decorated sergeants behind bars, men he had served with. Is he a hero for blowing the whistle on murder or a villain for turning in his fellow soldiers? You can decide for yourself.
COOPER: After more than two decades and too many big interviews to count, Oprah Winfrey is pulling the plug on her talk show. She will make the big announcement tomorrow. We learned about it late today -- she is going to make the announcement before her live studio audience in Chicago.
Now, "The Oprah Winfrey Show," it has been the highest rated talk show for 23 consecutive seasons, according to Oprah.com. It is been seen by an estimated 42 million viewers a week in the United States. It's broadcast in 145 countries.
Ryan Seacrest is going to join us in a moment for more on Oprah's decision and what is behind it.
But, first, Tom Foreman has an "Up Close" look at Oprah's remarkable run.
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The show became an institution...
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE OPRAH WINFREY SHOW")
OPRAH WINFREY, HOST, "THE OPRAH WINFREY SHOW": I'm Oprah Winfrey. And welcome to the very first national "Oprah Winfrey Show."
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FOREMAN: ... and its host one of the world's most influential people.
What began on local TV in Chicago grew into a media empire, a phenomenon of empowerment, entertainment and a whole lot more. For the last 23 years, Oprah Winfrey has made news, made history, and presided over some of the most famous moments ever broadcast.
It's impossible to list them all here, but we have chosen a few that have made a lasting impression, like this one, her 1993 interview with Michael Jackson at his Neverland Ranch. She said it was like meeting the Wizard of Oz.
WINFREY: This is the most exciting interview I had ever done and certainly was going to be the most watched interview I had ever done. FOREMAN: Oprah's encounter with Jackson friend Elizabeth Taylor did not fare as well. Oprah called it one of her worst interviews. Right before it began, Oprah said the legendary actress asked her not to bring up any of her relationships. Stars flocked to Oprah to talk, to plug their movies, and, in Tom Cruise's case, to get weird.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE OPRAH WINFREY SHOW")
WINFREY: I have never seen you like this.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FOREMAN: That's the couch-jumping incident from 2005. Cruise went overboard expressing his love for then girlfriend Katie Holmes. It's a clip that has been seen countless times.
And so has this one...
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE OPRAH WINFREY SHOW")
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
WINFREY: You get a car! You get a car!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FOREMAN: ... the start of season 19, when, to the surprise of everyone, Oprah handed out presents to her audience members, each one of them, the keys to their very own new car.
As we have seen, she can be incredibly generous and profoundly moving, breaking down on camera. Oprah is a self-made success story. "Forbes" ranks her among the wealthiest people on the planet and says she is worth $2.5 billion.
According to "Forbes," her shows air in 135 countries and are seen by nearly 50 million viewers a week. She's also donated $40 million to create two girls schools in South Africa. And dozens of other schools, through her Angel Network, have been built around the world. The network has also helped build or restore hundreds of homes, in the wake of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
She also shared personal battles, especially with her weight. In 1988, she wheeled out 67 pounds of fat. That's how much weight she lost back then. Many women followed her lead and went on diets. Since then, she's continued struggling, and it's always center stage.
There are a lot of firsts for Oprah -- 1996, "Deep End of the Ocean" was chosen as her first book club choice. Her book club has motivated millions of people to read since and helped sell millions of books.
It's also given us another memorable moment, when she confronted author James Frey after recommending his book "A Million Little Pieces," a memoir filled with fiction. From the big hair, to the big interviews, to the big heart, to the big difference she has made in so many people's lives, and now Oprah is saying goodbye.
In an interview with "60 Minutes" back when it all started, Oprah said, what matters isn't longevity.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "60 MINUTES")
WINFREY: It will do well.
MIKE WALLACE, "60 MINUTES": And if it doesn't?
WINFREY: And, if it doesn't, I will still do well. I will do well, because I'm not defined by a show. You know, I think we are defined by the way we treat ourselves and the way we treat other people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FOREMAN: Tom Foreman, CNN, Washington.
COOPER: Well, Oprah has a deal with Discovery for her own network, which is scheduled now to launch in January of 2011, the Oprah Winfrey Network, or OWN. It's going to run old episodes of "Oprah," or at least have the right to. It's not clear if she's going to have her own talk show on that network.
Joining us on the phone "American Idol" host, radio host, E! News and major media mogul himself Ryan Seacrest.
Ryan, thanks for calling in.
What kind of impact do you think Oprah Winfrey has had on that show?
RYAN SEACREST, HOST, "AMERICAN IDOL": Massive. I mean, this is really big news. She hinted that the show was going to end a while back. But for so many people, every day, they had an appointment, and still do have an appointment, with Oprah. That's the audience.
Then, for other people in media and entertainment, politicians, they would set an appointment with Oprah to go and talk about things that they wouldn't talk about anywhere else. And she had the ability to cover all issues, all topics, all guests, from the fun to the serious.
And I -- I really like how she can put it into our words, our terms, and help us understand it. And, as you saw in that taped piece, you know, guests would come on and do things they wouldn't do anywhere else.
So, I feel like, if -- if I'm guessing, she probably had to make up her mind that she was going to stop the show. And then you have to figure out, because she does have that empire, she has got to sit down and probably figure out, when is the best time? And I think that all the little pieces probably lined up for fall 2011.
COOPER: Her show -- the final shows are going to be two years away. Put on -- I mean, you produce television shows. You know this business probably as well or better than just about anybody.
Explain a little bit, if you can, what -- what -- the choice that she had. I mean, she could have kept the show in syndication as it currently is, and used that as a platform that was widely seen to market things that were going to be on her new network, on Discovery, on this OWN network, on the Oprah Winfrey Network. And a lot of people in the business thought maybe she would keep this widely seen platform, because it would be a vehicle for which she could promote stuff on the OWN network.
SEACREST: Well, there's no doubt that having a daily platform, talking to that many people in that number of countries, is extremely valuable.
That's how she's been able, to a degree, to build Dr. Oz, and Nate Berkus, and Dr. Phil. She anointed those people and built those businesses out of her platform. She is going to be on the air for a little while longer. You have got 2011. September 9, I think, is the big day.
But you start thinking about launching a new network. She took one of her head executives and put her in charge of the creative at OWN. I would imagine that she probably wants a little bit of flexibility when she launches that new network.
I doubt she will go do a talk show every day. I do think -- my guess is she will probably appear quite a bit. And she will do what it takes to get it off and running. If anybody can get a network up and going and running, it's Oprah Winfrey.
I mean, I admire what she's been able to accomplish. As you said in that tape piece, she is self-made. She's been on the air every day for 25 years when this comes up. And she's run an entire organization and media empire each and every year, growing and growing and growing.
COOPER: So, you don't think she will have her own talk show on the OWN network, because it would be compared to what she has now?
SEACREST: I think she will do what it takes probably to launch that network and make sure that it's got a big future.
I'm guessing, after 25 years of doing a daily day and date talk show, it's probably not at the top of her list to go commit to do that again. I mean, I don't know. I haven't spoken to her about it. But I'm just trying to jump into the psyche on it.
And my thinking is, she probably wants a little bit more flexibility in her life.
COOPER: Ryan, I appreciate you calling in. I will be on your radio show in the morning. I will see you then.
SEACREST: Anderson Cooper live nationwide tomorrow "On-Air with Ryan Seacrest."
COOPER: All right, thanks, Ryan.
Still ahead, our special 360 investigation: "Killings at the Canal: The Army Tapes." We have been looking at this all week, three decorated sergeants convicted of murder on the battlefield. You are going to meet the one soldier who revealed their secret. You are going to listen to his explanation. And then I want you to try to decide for yourself. What would you have done? Did this guy do the right thing in turning over his fellow soldiers? What were his true motives?
You can text your questions and thoughts to AC360, or 22360. Standard rates apply, of course.
Also coming up: the mammogram mess continuing. Now that panel that created all that confusion earlier this week with new mammography guidelines, now they're trying to clear things up. We will tell you what they now say ahead.
COOPER: Hey, we're back.
Let's get the latest on some other important stories we're following. Erica Hill is not feeling well tonight. Tom Foreman is sitting in, joins us with a 360 news and business bulletin -- Tom.
FOREMAN: Hi, Anderson.
New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin says he hopes a federal court ruling that blames the Army Corps of Engineers for the catastrophic flooding during Hurricane Katrina will -- quote -- "open the floodgates for more lawsuits."
Yesterday, a federal judge ruled that the Corps' shoddy oversight of a little-used shipping channel southeast of the city caused much of the flooding of Saint Bernard Parish and the Lower Ninth Ward. The judge awarded $720,000 to four homeowners and one business.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai is promising to get tough on corruption and boost his security forces, so that foreign troops can start going home. Karzai was sworn in for his second term as president today. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who attended the inauguration, says she is encouraged by Karzai's pledge.
AOL plans to cut one-third of its work force, after its spinoff from Time Warner is completed. That's about 2,300 jobs. Time Warner, which is the parent company of CNN, plans to spin off AOL by December 9.
And more bad news about movie popcorn -- a new study by the enter for Science in the Public Interest reveals just how bad it really is for you. A medium popcorn and soda combo at Regal, the country's largest movie chain, has 1,610 calories...
COOPER: Oh, my God. Yikes.
FOREMAN: ... and 60 grams of saturated fat. That is the equivalent of three McDonald's quarter-pounders and 12 pats of butter, which is what I had for lunch today.
COOPER: Ay yi yi.
FOREMAN: And Candy isn't much better. An 8-ounce bag of Reese's Pieces has 35 grams of saturated fat, 1,160 calories, which is about the same as a T-bone steak and a baked potato with butter.
COOPER: That is so depressing.
FOREMAN: Now every movie is a horror movie.
COOPER: Well, because I like nothing more in the movies than having the popcorn and the chocolate mixed together at once, so that's like...
FOREMAN: I thought the popcorn was kind of OK.
COOPER: They should have air popped popcorn. I don't know why they don't.
FOREMAN: I don't know what they're going to do. Maybe we can start that.
COOPER: All right.
COOPER: All right, Tom, thanks very much.
Coming up next on 360: the latest on the special investigation we have been doing all week, "Killings at the Canal: The Army Tapes."
Four Iraqi detainees were shot dead. Three soldiers were convicted of murder. They're serving jail time right now. And one former sergeant's testimony against them -- did he do the right thing? What would you do in his situation? Hear from him and decide for yourself.
You can text your questions and thoughts to AC360, or 22360. And standard rates apply.
Also tonight, a trial that is dividing a town and the tape that may reveal what happened between an African-American woman and the police officers she's accused of assaulting. We will show you the tape ahead.
COOPER: Tonight: a soldier-turned-witness breaking his silence and revealing the secret that would lead to murder charges against three Army sergeants.
But did he do it to see justice served or out of self-interest? We are going to let you decide in an exclusive interview you will only see here. It goes to the heart of our continuing report into the execution--style shooting deaths of four Iraqi detainees in Baghdad.
Now, the defendants, decorated servicemen, have all been found guilty of the crime. And what their fellow soldier said may have sealed their fate.
Here's Abbie Boudreau of our special investigations unit with "Killings at the Canal: The Army Tapes."
ABBIE BOUDREAU, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): You are watching a murder confession. This is the story of how, after nine months of silence, a dark secret came to light.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When you shot the guy in front of you, where did you shoot him?
SGT. MICHAEL LEAHY, U.S. ARMY: It was in the back of the head, center of the back of the head.
BOUDREAU: Slowly, the facts would begin to emerge. Thirteen soldiers were on the mission that day. They had taken four Iraqi men into custody and brought them to this canal. In time, investigators would learn three of the soldiers, three sergeants, killed them. This is Sergeant Michael Leahy.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And all four of them are still standing up at this point?
LEAHY: Before we shot them?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right.
Were they standing up or were they on their knees?
LEAHY: To my best...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because other guys were saying they were on their knees.
LEAHY: To my best recollection, they were standing up, but they could have been on their knees.
BOUDREAU: It happened at this canal in Baghdad in March 2007. But what exactly happened? And why? All 13 soldiers would be questioned. This soldier never charged. But all would be pushed to break down the bond of this band of brothers to get to the truth.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're in the United States Army. You're a colonel. They want -- they want the truth, you know? And no band of brothers loyalty, although I know you all shared a lot of rough days down there together, can keep you from telling the truth now that you're being questioned about it.
BOUDREAU: This man, Jess Cunningham, was also there. He was the first to reveal the secret.
JESS CUNNINGHAM, FORMER ARMY SERGEANT: I did the right thing. And I'm not going to hide behind excuses. I'm not going to hid behind false brotherhood.
BOUDREAU: But the former sergeant did not speak up for nine months.
(on camera) Why didn't you report it right away?
BOUDREAU: Fear of what?
CUNNINGHAM: Retaliation. Fear of being alone. Fear of being the only one that had a problem with it. Fear of so many things could have happened to me.
BOUDREAU (voice-over): Cunningham insists he finally spoke up because it is the right thing to do. And in time, that would lead to First Sergeant John Hadley, the sergeant in charge that day. Earlier this year Hadley was convicted of premeditated murder and conspiracy to commit premeditated murder.
This man, David Court, is Hadley's attorney.
DAVID COURT, JOHN HADLEY'S ATTORNEY: Sergeant Cunningham did not come forward for any altruistic move. He only mentioned this because he thought it would get him less punishment. He didn't do it because he thought, "I've got to blow the whistle."
BOUDREAU: Remember, Cunningham waited nine months before coming forward. He was out of Iraq and back on his base in Germany. Cunningham was facing disciplinary charges for assaulting Sergeant Michael Leahy and for being disrespectful to another officer. That's when he told his own lawyer about the killings at the canal.
(on camera) You can see why some people might say the only reason you came forward was because you didn't want to get yourself in trouble. You wanted to get out of that situation.
CUNNINGHAM: No. That's not the case. I don't really care what other people think about me. I don't worry. I'm not going to lose any sleep. I did the right thing. I did the right thing that day.
COURT: Sergeant Cunningham is making himself look better than he was. It's a common human trait. But I'm not going to let it affect the image of John Hadley. Because John Hadley did not force anyone to go to the canal.
BOUDREAU: So what are the facts? What was the motive? Only weeks before the incident, their unit, Alpha Company, lost two soldiers. One died when an IED exploded; a sniper killed the other. Cunningham says the losses devastated First Sergeant John Hadley, who led the men that night.
(voice-over) Hadley believed the rules for detaining suspects were flawed. He feared the Iraqis they'd taken into custody would be released, only to return and try to kill U.S. soldiers.
CUNNINGHAM: I believe he knew right from wrong. And I have no respect for him.
BOUDREAU (on camera): You don't have respect for him?
CUNNINGHAM: No. I don't.
BOUDREAU (voice-over): Cunningham is no longer in the Army. He received immunity for testifying.
COURT: I would -- if I were Sergeant Cunningham, not be comfortable in a combat environment.
BOUDREAU (on camera): Why do you say that?
COURT: I'd be worried that, having broken the band of brothers band, something might happen to me.
BOUDREAU (voice-over): As the investigation unfolded, interrogators prepared for a public relations nightmare.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have a hell of a lot of pretty damn concerned high-level people way the hell above my pay grade that are grabbing their ankles and bracing for what's bound to be an ugly damn mess if this becomes a big drawn out, public night fight.
COOPER: Abbie, how was Jess Cunningham treated after he came forward?
BOUDREAU: Anderson, he has not been treated that well. I mean, he's been called a rat. He's been called a snitch, a pariah. He's been threatened. His property has been vandalized.
But despite all of that, he decided to come forward to tell his story, because he wanted to defend his decision. He says he can sleep at night. He also says his family supports him, and that's what matters most to him.
COOPER: And in your piece coming up, he said he wasn't going to behind what he called a false brotherhood. Obviously, a lot of other soldiers see this very differently.
BOUDREAU: You're absolutely right. All the other soldiers that we talked to say this band of brotherhood is incredibly important and that trust on the battlefield is what matters most. That's why, when Jess Cunningham came forward, they felt betrayed. They felt he broke that trust -- Anderson.
COOPER: We're going to have more with Abbie in a moment. "Killings at the Canal" continues after the break. We're going to take a closer look at the soldier's testimony. We'll talk with military experts, as well. If you have a question for them, text them to AC360 or 22360. Standard rates apply.
Later tonight, new breast cancer confusion. Now, that task force that just a couple days ago said most women in their 40s should not get routine mammograms, now they're saying that's not exactly what they meant. 360 M.D. Sanjay Gupta is going to help us try to sort it all out.
COOPER: We're back with our continuing 360 special investigation, "Killings at the Canal: The Army Tapes."
Now before the break, we showed you our exclusive interview with a former Army sergeant who broke nine months of silence, told investigators that three fellow soldiers murdered four Iraqi detainees in Baghdad. He said he revealed the truth because he could no longer hide behind the excuses or to hid behind what he called a false brotherhood.
Well, he wasn't a trigger man, in exchange for his testimony, he was given immunity. And the three Americans he implicated were all convicted and are now serving long sentences.
We're "Digging Deeper." With me again, special investigations unit correspondent Abbie Boudreau. Also with us is Pete Hegseth, an Army captain and Iraq war veteran; and Eugene Fidell, a military law attorney and the president of the National Institute of Military Justice.
Pete, this notion of the band of brothers is extraordinarily important to a lot of folks I've talked to who've served, the idea of not going against your unit. We just heard this soldier call it a false brotherhood. What did you think when you heard that?
PETE HEGSETH, IRAQ WAR VETERAN: Well, the false brotherhood I think he's referring to is this idea of keeping secret criminal activity that went -- that happened on the battlefield. We've all done bad things in our lives, things where we feel guilty about and don't want to hide.
And I don't think it's a false brotherhood to come out and tell the truth about a war crime that was committed on the battlefield.
But a true band-of-brother ethos does very much exist. You go out, the man on your right and the man on your left, you are there for them, to protect them and support them and fight alongside them. Warriors have this band of brothers. Loyalty is an absolute bond that is needed. But I don't -- I don't think it's accurate to say that that band of brothers needs to extend to covering up war crimes that happen.
COOPER: So you can understand why this soldier came forward, reported the crime?
HEGSETH: Yes, I can. I mean it's weighing on his conscience. He doesn't think it's -- he thinks it's below the -- sort of that way that America fights its wars. And it's a difficult thing.
But the other soldiers in that unit, if they're in a tough area, they captured insurgents. They know they're bad guys. They're worried they're going to be released. They took justice into their own hands. They see it a different way. I just think in this instance, he took it on his conscience to do the right thing.
COOPER: Professor Fidell, do soldiers have a moral, if not legal obligation to report crimes even if it ends up sending their fellow brother to jail?
FIDELL: It depends on the crime. Obviously trivial things observed by people at the bottom end of the official hierarchy, they may not have an obligation to report. But where you're talking about war crimes, there is a department of defense directive on this subject that requires people to report war crimes and requires the United States government to investigate them.
COOPER: Abby, we have a text 360 question from teddy in Colorado. He asks, is there any possible way these soldiers can get out before their sentences are over?
BOUDREAU: Well, it is possible. Because all three cases are under appeal right now. John Hadley, he's eligible for parole in 10 years. And the other two soldiers are eligible in about seven. So it's possible. But it's a long road ahead.
COOPER: Pete, when you heard this soldier who came forward say that he was worried for his own safety if he came forward while he was still in country in Iraq, does that -- I mean can you understand why he would be worried? Do you think it's valid.
HEGSETH: I mean I think it's fear of just -- I think it probably is valid. I don't know, you know, if that particular unit and the interpersonalship that's existed. But, you know, it is fearful to step out alone and make an accusation and talk about something you saw, especially when you're maybe indicting particular superiors.
So he is in a difficult situation. The burden of proof is on him to demonstrate that what happened is indeed the truth. But, you know, it's also -- they lost men. They're in a difficult area. It's a hostile area. These men that were killed were likely insurgents who tried to kill them only minutes before. So he feels a level of guilt for even stepping out and doing it. You can understand where he's coming from. It doesn't change the fact that ultimately, you know, these insurgents should have been captured and not necessarily killed. COOPER: Yes. They'd lost two soldiers in the unit to snipers and, I think, IED is in the weeks before this incident which maybe was playing part of -- or at least what was in the mind on that day.
HEGSETH: Absolutely. Absolutely.
COOPER: Professor, we talked a lot this week about the rules the Army had in place during the war that made it difficult to keep insurgents locked up. Other soldiers from this unit said that if the Iraqi men were not killed, if they had been handed over, they would have just been released and free to continue attacking American soldiers, continue to attack Iraqis. Is that a valid argument?
FIDELL: Absolutely not. That suggests really insubordinate attitude. You can't have just as the Army is not a debating society. It's not also a Democratic institution where everybody gets to make its own decision as to what's operationally required. That kind of thinking, I think, is deeply wrong.
HEGSETH: Anderson, I completely disagree with that. Absolutely, having served on the ground and detained insurgents, the rules put on top of our infantrymen are very intricate. We're asking these guys to essentially be "CSI Iraq," gather evidence on the objective, sworn statements from Iraqis, indicting local nationals. It becomes very difficult to hold insurgents.
So what happens is the Iraqi catch and release program comes into full effect. You capture bad guys. You detain them. They go throughout system and had a two weeks later they're back on the battlefield taking the fight back to those same, very same people.
So you can these sergeants and others on the ground, saying the reason we need to get rid of these guys is because, if we capture them, we don't have enough proof to put them away. They're going to be back on these same streets, killing more of our men.
Doesn't -- doesn't excuse what happened. But you can understand the mindset of if they capture these guys and go into the system they're going to have to fight the insurgency two or three times over again.
COOPER: What you're saying is that's an argument for changing the ground rules in terms of what evidence is needed or how evidence is gathered against detainees. It's not an excuse for murder.
HEGSETH: It's not an excuse for murder at all. But of the 87,000 in the article on your Web site detainees in this war that we've captured, 77,000 have been released. And we want to impose a law and order in Iraq.
But at the same time, if we're catching insurgents and requiring sworn statements from local nationals, Iraqis who are afraid to step out and help, then it's difficult to hold people in prisons. They're released, and then our soldiers are fighting them once again.
So I think if you're fighting a war, you've got to have an ability to hold your enemies at bay.
COOPER: It's got to be incredibly frustrating for those on the ground to see people they've brought over have been released back out. We've got to leave it there. Pete Hegseth, I appreciate your time. Eugene Fidell, as well. And Abbie Boudreau, as well, great reporting. We'll continue this tomorrow.
Our investigation continues tomorrow with an exclusive interview with a general who oversees detainee operations in Iraq. "Killings at the Canal: The Army Tapes," tomorrow night, 10 p.m. Eastern.
This weekend, watch "Killings at the Canal," the documentary, Saturday and Sunday at 8 p.m., 11 p.m. Eastern. All the reports from all this week. We put them together for a conclusive look at this incident.
Coming up next, though, tonight: prison time for cutting in line? What really happened inside a Missouri Wal-Mart. We're going to show you newly-released surveillance footage to see if it lends any evidence to exactly what happened.
Also, mammogram controversy. New guidelines from a government panel that have confused a lot of people. It certainly confused me. That group is now issuing a clarification. What they're saying now. Dr. Sanjay Gupta is here to try to sort it out and give you advice about what you should do. We'll be right back.
COOPER: For the first time we've actually seeing what happened inside a Missouri Wal-Mart start that could send a school teacher with no criminal record to prison for 15 years.
The part of the story that everyone agrees on is Heather Ellis switched checkout lines. She says some white patrons shoved and hurled racial slurs at her when she did. Witnesses and police say she was the belligerent one. So what really happened?
Well, today surveillance tapes from the store were shown in court. The prosecution rested a short time ago. Gary Tuchman has the latest in tonight's "Crime & Punishment" report.
GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Watch this surveillance video outside a Wal-Mart store in Kennett, Missouri. The person highlighted is a 21-year-old woman, and prosecutors say she is kicking a police officer. One of two cops they say she assaulted.
This is the same woman today, three years later, Heather Ellis, an African-American. The cops she's accused of hitting and kicking are white. Her supporters say she was actually assaulted by the cops. But if that happened, it's not seen on the video supplied by Wal-Mart.
Her arrest has stirred up a racial hornets' nest in this tiny town. It all started in the store. The video shows Heather Ellis's hand moving another customer's items back on the belt four times. Ellis says she wanted to check her items out, adding her cousin saved her spot. But many witnesses have testified she was cutting in line and was profane and rude.
Kay McDaniel was managing the store that night.
KAY MCDANIEL, FORMER ASSISTANT MANAGER, WAL-MART: I treated her just like I would you or anybody else.
TUCHMAN: McDaniel took the stand in this trial, which could lead up to 15 years in prison for Heather Ellis. The Wal-Mart manager testified she told Ellis to stop saying the "F" word and to stop yelling and disturbing the customers. And then she told the jury this.
MCDANIEL: She looked at me, and she told me that I wasn't anything but a stupid white, uneducated Wal-Mart employee. And she called Betsy an old gray-headed lady, the cashier. And that's when I said, "Wait just" -- I said, "Just a minute." I said, "You don't know me and I don't know you."
TUCHMAN: Five police officers were involved in the arrest. One of them was Albert Fisher, who testified, "She told me I was a stupid mother blanker." He added, "She let me know I didn't know who I was blanking with." And then he says, when he asked her name, she said, "My name is Donna blanking Duck." When she said, "If you try to arrest me, I'll kick your blanking blank," according to the cop, he arrested her. And he testified the fight was on.
He claims he was kicked many times as they brought her to the squad car, even before this point in the video. A second cop testified and said she hit him in the mouth.
But Heather Ellis' defense attorney is fighting back ferociously. Jurors now know that prosecution witnesses had pretrial meetings with the prosecutor. Ellis' defense attorney hinted they could have conveniently matched their stories because they were together during those meetings.
And he wonders why the police did not independently investigate the surveillance tape, which he says left out many of the key moments of the encounter.
What's notable about this trial so far is there has been no mention of racism by either side inside the courtroom.
COOPER: So, Gary, she faced the possibility of, like, 15 years in jail on these assault charges. Is there any other evidence the assaults, like pictures of the police officers injuries?
TUCHMAN: Yes. Other than the police testimony and that short piece of video, there are no photos of the police-reported injuries. The police -- both policemen say they did not take pictures because they considered the injuries too minor. Tomorrow, Anderson, is expected to be the day that this case goes to the jury. The big question right now, will Heather Ellis take the stand? Will she testified in her own defense? She doesn't have to under the law. We asked her lawyer if she will take the stand. Her lawyer told me, "I'm not telling you." He obviously wants the drama to be played out in court, not on CNN.
COOPER: Yes, yes. All right.
Coming up next, mammogram confusion. Gary, thanks. We'll talk to you tomorrow. Mammogram confusion. A government panel that just issued new guidelines is speaking out again, trying to clarify what they said. If you're as confused as many women we've spoken to, stick around. Dr. Sanjay Gupta is on next to try to make sense of it all.
COOPER: After they recommended most women in their 40s not get routine mammograms, the government task force is clarifying its position. They told "the Wall Street journal" that think never meant to convey that women in their 40s shouldn't get mammograms; nor did they mean to discourage women from doing self-breast exams.
So exactly what did they mean? Three sixty M.D. Sanjay Gupta is here to now anything new in their clarification?
SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, I really don't think how. We talked with the D. Pitivi (ph), as well. The "Wall Street Journal" talked -- and we talked to earlier in the work, to ask that very question signs, "the Wall Street Journal." We asked that very question: "What exactly did you mean by the recommendations? And it's really the same thing, I think, for all intents and these purposes.
She's saying that "We're not recommending routine mammograms." But she's saying that you can talk to your doctor ahead of time so you get counseled as to, you know, what the risks and benefits are. The way things stand right now, a woman might get a letter in the mail around age 40 saying go get your mammogram. They're saying you should talk to your doctor first. So this isn't a departure at all from what the recommendation said.
COOPER: They say now, quote, "They could have been more clear."
COOPER: But the clarification seems to make it even more confusing. I mean, bottom line, someone watching tonight is 40 years old, you would recommend they get a mammogram?
GUPTA: I absolutely would. Starting at age 40 and then getting it every year after that.
You know, here's the thing that was confusing to me, Anderson. They say that go talk to your doctor ahead of time. I'm not sure what doctors are supposed to tell the patients. One thing I think is worth pointing out again, you and I talked about this before, but 75 percent of women, roughly, who get breast cancer never have a risk factor and have no family history. Think about that for a second. A woman comes from -- yes 75 percent, even 90 percent in some age groups.
So a woman comes into my office and says, "Should I get a mammogram or not? I have no risk factors. I don't have a family history." When I tell her that, look, three quarters of women or so don't have a family history or any kind of a risk factor, they go on to develop breast cancer. What is the message I'm sending to them? The messages is they should get a mammogram.
And that's, I think, what's so troublesome about this. Because there are a lot of women who are sort of on the fence anyways about getting mammograms. I think what's happened this week may give them more reason not to get the mammogram.
COOPER: Right. Right. So you're saying bottom line, 40, get a mammogram.
GUPTA: Forty. Every year after that get a mammogram. Yes.
COOPER: All right, Sanjay. Thanks.
GUPTA: I hope that is clearer after -- yes.
COOPER: Yes, I think -- I think it is 40, get a mammogram. Tom has the -- Tom Foreman is here with tonight's "Shot" -- Tom.
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm going to handle "The Shot" tonight because, well, it involves you.
You see, Stephen King, the grandmaster of horror, has a new book out -- maybe you've heard about it -- called "Under the Dome." And in it, some of the characters spend time watching CNN. So we thought it would be -- have a little fun here and have the crew offer a dramatic reading of the relevant passages. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: On the TV, helicopters are landing behind Anderson Cooper, blowing his groovy white hair and nearly drowning his voice.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Wolf Blitzer took Anderson cooper's place. Rose (ph) had a crush on Blitzer and would not allow the TV to be turned onto anything other than "THE SITUATION ROOM" on weekday afternoons. She called him, "My Wolfie."
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just then the CNN breaking news logo came on the TV. Rose (ph) expected either Anderson Cooper or her beloved Wolfie. Both were now based in Castle Rock (ph), but it was Barbara Starr, the network's Pentagon correspondent.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Wow. It's like product placement. Who knew?
FOREMAN: I like that. Wolfie. Yes.
COOPER: I appreciate it. I understand Stephen King, I remember reading an interview with him once where he says he watches Robin Meade a lot. He likes Robin Meade in the morning. So yes.
COOPER: Yes. That's what I remember reading.
Submit your "Shot" suggestions at AC360.com. Thank you very much, Mr. King.
Next on the program, Oprah stepping down, giving up her popular daytime talk show. Why now? What's next? Look at that. Ryan Seacrest joins us to talk about it. Be right back.