Return to Transcripts main page
ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Monster Storm Targets Northeast; President Obama Claims Climate Change Victory
Aired December 18, 2009 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ERICA HILL CNN ANCHOR: Tonight, breaking news: a monster storm that is due to slam the Northeast with close to two feet of snow and blizzard conditions in some areas. And, technically, it isn't even winter yet. Just ahead, where that severe weather is now and where it is headed.
Also tonight, President Obama racing back from Copenhagen to beat the worst of the storm and claiming victory on climate change. It was a day of high drama, and it did produce a final agreement. But is it as big a deal as the president says? The "Raw Politics" ahead.
And later, "Uncovering America": the story that really got our staff talking about our own beloved pets. Shadow the dog was deeply loved. Shadow was also shot to death when he strayed into a yard. His owners say Shadow was more than just a best friend; he was family. And now a court will decide just how much Shadow's love was worth.
But, first up tonight, that major storm bearing down on the Northeast, as President Obama heads home from Copenhagen. We have a live picture of that home right there. You can see the White House, snowflakes swirling in front. The president is in the air right now, due to land early tomorrow morning. Washington's airports have already begun canceling commercial flights.
We also have a live shot for you of the Charlottesville, Virginia, airport, the capital and surrounding areas bracing at this point for -- get this -- up to 20 inches of snow. Virginia's governor has declared a state of emergency in anticipation of that mess ahead.
And police there say falling snow has in fact already caused hundreds of accidents. Here in New York, we are bracing for our fair share of the white stuff tomorrow.
Meteorologist Chad Myers is tracking the storm for everyone tonight and joins us now.
CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Hi, Erica.
We will just get right to the numbers here, because I think that's probably the most important thing we do. D.C., you're going to get 18 to 28 inches of snow. And the difference is between 18 and 28, you either stay in for two days or three, I guess.
Baltimore, you're probably somewhere in the neighborhood of 20. We will go 15 to 25, because there are just going to be pockets where the snow isn't quite as deep. But when it gets fluffed and when it gets blown around, because there is going to be wind with this, too, we're going to see drifts over three to five feet.
Philadelphia, 15 to 20. And there you go for New York City, only -- only five to eight for you. I guess that's something good. The air dries out as it tries to get to New York City, and so we don't get a lot in Boston. We don't get a lot comparatively, compared to what we're seeing in some spots here.
And you don't think it can happen. Look at this already, Boone, North Carolina, at 16 inches of snow. Here is Richmond. Here's the airport there, already about five inches of ground out near Short Pump. And then here is the nation's capital. You can see the spotlights out toward the Capitol dome, and then there is a shot you had, and you can see the size of these snowflakes. They are just huge.
The only good news is -- I know it's terrible news for travelers, but this is happening on a Saturday, because tomorrow -- if tomorrow was a Monday or Tuesday, it could very well be chaos. Even though it's already going to be some chaos, at least it's better on the weekend, I guess.
HILL: Maybe just a little bit better, although as we were learning earlier, it is a pretty busy travel weekend.
We mentioned that the president was leaving Copenhagen to try to beat the storm back to Washington. We already saw some snowflakes. Will he make it in time to land?
MYERS: He will land, I believe. Probably about four hours away. It takes longer to get from Copenhagen back to D.C. compared to going the other way, because you're flying against the jet stream. So, it's going to take him probably eight hours in the air, which is somewhere between 1:30 and 2:00. And Andrews is still the best choice, although there are other choices. And it could land in Dover.
It could land anywhere, essentially, if that was a secured airport, if they don't have the equipment out there, or if Andrews just turns in to be too slippery, many other places. He will certainly get on the ground. We do know that he will not take Marine One to the White House, because the ceiling is too low and the snow too thick. So, he will be taking a motorcade.
HILL: Yes, not a lot of visibility for that.
HILL: All right, Chad, thanks.
MYERS: You're welcome.
HILL: Well, as Chad was just talking about, on his way back to Washington, of course, after a frenzied day of basically shuttle diplomacy at the U.N. climate talks in Copenhagen.
In fact, the president was on the ground for less than 24 hours, and every little minute there counted. Mr. Obama actually met twice with China's leader. China of course has been criticized for holding up the talks.
Just before the private meeting began, U.S. reporters actually blocked from entering the room by a crush of Chinese press and security. White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs tried to get them in. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERT GIBBS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Hold on. Hold on. I have got to get my American guys in, because everybody else got in.
GIBBS: Our guys get in.
GIBBS: No, no, those guys didn't get in. Those guys need to get in.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, no, no.
GIBBS: No, no, no. All right? My guys get in, just like yours guys got in. This is a joint meeting. My guys get in or we are leaving the meeting.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But there is already American press...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... already.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No. No, I did not get in.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I did not get in.
GIBBS: This guy did not get in. This guy did not get in. This guy did not get in. Come on.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HILL: So, after all of that, it turns out only one American photographer was allowed in the room. No reporters from the U.S. were given access. Meantime, the president at day's end claiming victory today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Today, we have made meaningful and unprecedented -- made a meaningful and unprecedented breakthrough here in Copenhagen.
For the first time in history, all major economies have come together to accept their responsibility to take action to confront the threat of climate change.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HILL: Now, the deal he's talking about is actually limited to five countries, the U.S., China, Brazil, India, and South Africa. President Obama acknowledging the 11th-hour agreement is not perfect. In fact, a lot of people already calling it a lot worse than that.
Ed Henry is here now with the "Raw Politics."
So, Ed, what are the main points of this nonbinding agreement?
ED HENRY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Erica, the key is that, as you mentioned, the president tried to make every minute count here. He was supposed to be only on the ground for nine hours. He added six more to go through these negotiations. And the most important part is there is a goal that is set in here where the leaders said that they will keep the increase in the planet's temperature to no more than two degrees Celsius over the next decade.
But what you have to know is, that's just a goal. There is really no enforcement mechanism there. There's no legal binding target for carbon emission cuts to make sure they actually reach that goal. They talked about seeking a treaty with some teeth by December of 2010. But it's unclear whether they will really reach that.
Now, where the president did succeed, perhaps a bit more, is over Chinese objections he got some more accountability, transparency for the U.S. to look and make sure, do some inspections, make sure that China is actually living up to some of these commitments that they make.
But, again, we have to see how that is enforced in the days ahead, and that's why a slew of environmental groups, normally friends of President Obama, are coming out tonight and really ripping this deal. Greenpeace was particularly tough, saying it's not fair, not ambitious, not binding, and also adding that of all the crises in the world right now, the leadership crisis may be the worst of all. Ouch. Pretty tough coming from the president's friend there, Erica.
HILL: Yes, ouch, indeed, not so friendly.
I understand, Ed, you're actually getting some new details about how the president was able to help bring this together. Is that a report on maybe some more leadership?
HENRY: Yes, well, it's interesting. We are getting some new information from U.S. officials.
About 4:00 p.m. Local time here -- we're six hours ahead of you there on the East Coast -- really, these talks were going nowhere, and we're told that the president reached out to some of his aides and said, look, let's reach out to the Chinese premier and try to get one more meeting.
So, White House aides started calling around to the Chinese delegation, and they found that most of the Chinese staff was already at the airport, getting ready to head back to China. The Chinese premier was at his hotel. It almost sounded like maybe like a scene from "Planes, Trains and Automobiles," as they tried to get the Chinese delegation back here to the hall in Copenhagen.
Meanwhile, the president asked for a separate meeting with the leaders of Brazil, South Africa, and India. They found out the Indian prime minister, he was at the airport already. They were trying to get him back here.
So, the president ended up getting this meeting with the Chinese premier. And, as he went -- you saw some of those pictures of the president trying to get in with the U.S. press. When he went there to meet with the Chinese premier, it turned out the Chinese premiere was already meeting with the Indian delegation and the Brazilians, et cetera.
So, instead, they had a big meeting of the minds, all of these countries. And that's where the president sealed the deal. So, it's kind of interesting that it almost all fell apart. They literally had to call people back from the airport, Erica.
HILL: Wild. And they weren't trying to beat a snowstorm there.
HILL: Ed Henry, live for us, thanks.
A day of high drama and high stakes, as Ed just laid out there for us.
We want to bring in now senior political analyst David Gergen for a 360 insider briefing.
David, we have heard so much since the president came out and said this. He's calling this an unprecedented breakthrough, this agreement. But we know it's nonbinding, so is the president actually overselling this deal?
DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: He is and he isn't.
You know, some of his language, unprecedented, major breakthrough, I think that's way overblown, and then later on in his press conference, he got much more realistic. And I think a very tired president was saying, we know we have got a long way to go.
Look, in fairness, Erica, had it not been for President Obama's leadership, I think it's clear that there would have been a complete collapse in these talks. So, give him credit for that. I think we also have to wait, as Ed Henry suggested, to know more about the details of exactly how this would -- will work.
Having said that, this clearly falls way short of expectations only a year or two ago. Let's remember, Copenhagen was intended to be a place where a treaty was agreed to that would be legally binding right away. Then, as they got closer, they said, no, no, no, we're not going to make that.
Let's go ahead and get a political arrangement or political deal that will be operational, and, within a year, we will have a legally binding treaty for the world.
Now, today, they didn't come up with a deal, and they have said they're no longer setting 2010 as an absolute last deadline for getting a treaty. They're saying it's going to happen some time in the future.
The emission cuts are disappointing to the both developed and developing nations. The verification is in question. And the amount of money to the developing nations is in question.
I think the bigger question, as President Obama comes home, is there enough here for the United States Senate to believe it should go ahead and pass a bill that the House passed and send it to the president? I must tell you, at this point, it's hard to see how the Senate will feel it has enough assurances of things happening in China and India, for example, to impose due costs on American companies, when they're not sure whether those same costs will actually be imposed on Chinese and India companies.
And, therefore, I think the chance of getting it through the Senate are very problematic now.
HILL: We're going to continue to talk about this in just a little bit. David, stay with us.
We would also like to know what you think about the climate agreement. You can join the live chat happening now at AC360.com.
David Gergen is sticking around to join our panel coming up. We're going to dig deeper not only on this climate deal and the impact here at home. We will also take a look at the health care battle. It is truly down to the wire at this point.
Also ahead this hour, a Mexican drug lord is killed. But instead of law enforcement celebrating, they may actually be bracing for a backlash. Michael Ware, just back from the front lines in Mexico's drug war, will weigh in.
And a bit later, a former senior employee of self-help salesman James Arthur Ray has more to say about what she saw at that deadly sweat lodge ceremony in Arizona -- her story when 360 continues.
HILL: And those are live pictures for you out of Charlottesville, Virginia, where, as you can see, the snow is starting to pile up. And if you like metaphors, the major storm bearing down on Washington tonight happens to be a pretty good one. Someone giving the thumbs-up there.
A reminder of the health care mess President Obama is returning from Copenhagen, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid now talking about possibly unveiling a revised bill over the weekend, although, frankly, it's still not clear if he actually has the votes he needs.
Before the break, you heard President Obama call the agreement reached in Copenhagen an unprecedented breakthrough. He spoke after hours of old-school hands-on diplomacy.
And take a look at this. President Obama earlier today in Copenhagen in a meeting he wasn't invited to, just barged in to help move things along. And there was plenty at stake here for him. Did he actually pull out a big enough victory? Is it really a victory at all?
David Gergen joining me again, along with Huffington Post contributor Tanya Acker and "Washington Post" Michael Gerson, who was also a speechwriter for former President George W. Bush.
Good to have all of you with us.
Michael, as we take a look at this, with the president coming home with this agreement, not as hard-hitting as some folks would have liked, plenty of criticism, frankly, already out there. But is this a victory, small though it may be, for the president at this hour?
MICHAEL GERSON, FORMER SPEECHWRITER FOR PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: Well, it's better than a collapse in the process.
It was essentially an agreement to continue the process. The Chinese made a concession on something that wasn't very costly for them, which was transparency. It didn't make much of a concession on the thing that was actually costly, which was real reductions in emissions.
My concern here is that the president made a very large expenditure of presidential standing and prestige for a fairly small diplomatic result. It's the kind of thing -- and I have seen many of them -- that the secretary of state normally does, not the president of the United States.
HILL: Tanya, when you look at this, a lot of people looking at it today and saying, you know what, it was a little something though, and something is better than nothing, which sounds a lot like the refrain we have been hearing when it comes to health care.
Is that really -- is that really the best thing for this administration right now, to have that something is better than nothing, especially for the Democrats tied to this administration who are facing reelection?
TANYA ACKER, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, I think the part of governing is realizing when you have to make certain compromises.
I mean, I would agree with David and Michael to a certain extent. I think that this deal is not the deal that people wanted a year ago. It's not -- it didn't live up to those expectations, but it is -- it does do something. It is part of a process.
And if you look at how these talks completely collapsed and the high drama that marked them throughout their course, with the developing nations walking out, the fact that folks came back to the table, the fact that China did make, I think, what -- I would disagree with Michael a bit. I think it is a fairly significant concession.
Whereas previously they said that any verification mechanism would impinge on their sovereignty, now they're agreeing at least to that. So, I think that we're moving in the right direction. Does it go as far as people would have liked? No. But it's certainly a step in that -- it's certainly some movement.
HILL: Go ahead, David. I see you want to jump in there.
GERGEN: I just don't see the evidence that this is the kind of serious verification measure that Hillary Clinton was talking about a couple of days ago.
Yes, it allows -- they publish some results and that kind of thing. But if you're going to set up a serious cap and trade system, which is the heart and soul of whether Obama proposal is for this country, I don't know how you run a cap and trade system in China or in India based on this kind of very inadequate sort of understanding of what exactly is going on at the grouped level in those countries.
HILL: I want to put this aside for a minute now, because health care is such an important issue at home as well, and, as we know, this could really be a make-or-break weekend for the health care bill.
There was a really interesting moment, though -- and, David, I want you to weigh in on this -- on the Senate floor yesterday. Senator Al Franken was presiding. Senator Joe Lieberman had the floor. He wanted a little bit more time. And then here is what happened. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. AL FRANKEN (D), MINNESOTA: The senator has spoken for 10 minutes.
SEN. JOSEPH LIEBERMAN (I), CONNECTICUT: I wonder if I could ask for unanimous consent for just an additional moment.
FRANKEN: In my capacity as senator from Minnesota, I object.
LIEBERMAN: Really? OK. I don't take it personally.
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: I just saw -- I have been around here 20-some years, the first time I have ever seen a member denied an extra minute or two to finish his remarks. And I must say that I don't know what's happening here in this body, but I think it's wrong.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HILL: Now, Senator Franken's office had said, look, he was just adhering to these strict time limits imposed by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.
But, David, when you see that, how does it come across to you? What's really going on there?
GERGEN: Well, certainly, Joe Lieberman was surprised. He understood that it appeared to be a breach of traditional etiquette. And his friend John McCain sprang to his defense.
And it looked like it might well be personal. You know, Al Franken's office, Harry Reid's office have both said it wasn't intended that way. So, on that basis, I sort of think that it's a minor thing and it's time to move on.
I think the bigger question, can they get Ben Nelson as the 60th senator? And there does seem to be a little progress on that front, Erica, that may lead to some sort of agreement over the weekend.
HILL: And there has also been some talk that in the past -- I believe it was possibly 2002 -- Senator McCain may have done the same thing.
You mentioned that crucial vote of Senator Ben Nelson. And it seems we can't -- well, I know we can't talk about the possible passage of any bill without talking about the importance of Senator Nelson.
Michael, as we look at him, there are also a couple other votes in play, as we know, Senator Lieberman, but also Olympia Snowe. Any indication that she may support this?
GERSON: So far, Olympia Snowe has made the statement that she doesn't really like the by-Christmas deadline. There is a lot concern among, you know, moderates about the process right now, which seems to be, make this huge decision with no text of a bill in just a few, you know, days of debate, you know, according to an artificial deadline.
That doesn't seem like the most serious and rational way to approach this. And Snowe has made that kind of statement. There was a lot of assumption that maybe she might go the direction that Lieberman goes, that she might take that lead. But I'm not sure. I think that they're going to have to get Nelson, and it's going to be a tough job.
HILL: And, Tanya, when you look at that deadline, Democrats really -- I mean, we saw the tensions alone in the Senate between Senators Franken and Lieberman and McCain yesterday.
And there is so much pressure to get this passed with that deadline there. Are you worried at all? I mean, is this really going to happen, and is it going to be a smart bill to push it through this way?
ACKER: Look, I certainly hope that it happens.
But, you know, in terms of the deadline, we have to remember, they have been at this for a very long time. And the folks on the other side of the aisle, the GOP, they have done nothing but obstruct this process.
I mean, I find it so interesting that the folks who are harping about big government are also collecting their government paychecks, but then impeding governmental work. So, if we don't have is a deadline, if don't really try to get something very hard-hitting done within a very discreet time period, this thing is just going to drag on.
And people are getting tired of simply waiting and seeing all this blathering going on without any results. I think people want results.
HILL: Maybe -- maybe they will all get snowed in this weekend, and then will have to come to some sort of a compromise. Thanks.
HILL: Tanya Acker, Michael Gerson, David Gergen, thank you.
GERSON: Thank you.
GERGEN: Thank you.
HILL: And, of course, speaking of getting snowed in, we are tracking that storm aimed at Washington, and, frankly, far beyond. It is breaking news tonight, as we follow it for you. You're looking at live pictures now from Dulles Airport, of course just outside Washington.
The latest forecast for you is coming up. Meteorologist Chad Myers has a very busy night ahead of him.
Plus, just how much is your dog's love worth? One family whose beloved pet was shot to death now taking that question to the state's highest court.
HILL: We want to get you back now to our breaking news on that monster winter storm barreling up the Atlantic Coast. It is causing a massive mess, due to bury the Northeast in up to two feet of snow. And you know that affects people across the country, because we're talking about airports and all kinds of other things.
Meteorologist Chad Myers joining us again from the Severe Weather Center.
Chad, what's the latest?
MYERS: It's truly an amazing storm, considering the size of the snowfall output. I mean, all the way from Philadelphia down through Baltimore and Dover and D.C., and back over to Charlottesville, all those places will have almost 20 inches of snow. It is just so amazing to see a storm like this, and the reason why, a couple of things.
The ocean is still very warm. And you go, well, what does the ocean have to do with it? This is D.C. The wind is from the east. That wind is being picked up -- that wind is picking up moisture off the ocean, and it's throwing it back on land. And that's the added moisture that we're going to get to get these incredible snow totals.
Let's get to WJLA right here. Here's Dulles Airport. I know that loop around Dulles very well. And there you see people dropping people off. I don't think anybody is getting in or out of there for a while. Roanoke, we know that has closed.
Here is Charlottesville. What a great shot, WVIR, our affiliate there, just good stuff. I mean, there's at least eight inches of snow on the ground already in Charlottesville, and it really has only just begun, as the song goes.
There is the snow getting up almost to Philadelphia. It's taking a long time to move to the north, because the air is dry. The snow was falling through and into the dryer air, and it's evaporating, or subliming, on the way down, and not getting there until the airport -- until the air saturates.
So, here we go, another thing to watch right here, this is called dry slotting. This dry slot, this dry air is wrapping in behind it and will eventually cut off the snow to spots here across southern Virginia. This dry air will not get to D.C., will not get to Philadelphia, and it will not get all the way up into New York City.
That's something completely different. Here are the numbers, as I believe them. Believe this first number as what you should expect. Look at that number when you look outside and go, oh, man, we really got it.
So, D.C., 18 is a good number. But some people could get 28.
MYERS: I don't know the difference, because if you're shoveling 18, you're still shoveling 28, or you're stuck inside for a couple days.
I have seen iReports. Go to CNNiReport.com. You will see pictures of grocery store shelves with no bread, no milk. It's basically...
(LAUGHTER) MYERS: The whole stores are ghost towns. There's just nothing left on those store shelves in D.C.
HILL: The bread, the milk, anything they can get, they're taking it.
MYERS: It's all gone.
HILL: Chad, thanks.
MYERS: You're welcome.
HILL: Don't forget the hot chocolate. That's the important one.
Want to get you the latest now on some of the other important stories we're following tonight.
Tom Foreman joining us with a 360 business news bulletin.
Tom, hopefully, you're not getting snowed in there yet.
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Not yet. We will see how it goes, Erica.
A leading al Qaeda operative in Yemen is dead, Mohammed Saleh Mohammed Ali Al-Kazemi killed in an airstrike by Yemeni forces on what has been described as an al Qaeda training camp. Local media reports, scores of other suspected terrorists also died in that attack.
A staggering rise in autism reported today -- federal health officials say one in every 110 children had autism in 2006. That's a 57 percent increase over 2002. It's not known whether that's due to more kids developing autism or changes in diagnostic procedures.
How is this for deep sea fireworks? You're looking at a volcano in the Pacific caught on film by a robot sub. Scientists hope the footage will help them understand more about how the Earth's shifting tectonic plates cause events such as earthquakes.
And did you hear about the credit card company that charges 79.9 percent interest? No joke, almost 80 percent. First Premier Bank is doing it in advance of expected profit losses from a new law coming in February. That law? Well, it's intended to curb abuses by credit card companies.
HILL: Please tell me no one is signing up for that.
FOREMAN: No, nobody as far as we know.
And, you know, Erica, Charlie Gibson signed off from "ABC World News" anchor desk for the last time tonight, after nearly 35 years with the network.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "WORLD NEWS") CHARLES GIBSON, HOST, "WORLD NEWS": It has been a privilege and an honor to be here, working with reporters, producers and staff, for whom I have unbounded respect. This is, for them, as it has been for me, as it was for Frank Reynolds, as it was for Peter Jennings, a labor of love.
I thank you for investing trust in us each evening -- trust that we will give you as objective and honest a look at the day's news as we possibly can.
Objectivity is not universally in favor in our business these days, but it is critically important. It is what we strive for each night. It is my hope that is what you have looked for and that is what you have found when you have come to ABC's "World News."
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FOREMAN: I will tell you, Erica, I worked with Charlie for 10 years. Anderson worked with Charlie. And the respect for this man is enormous in this business. He's a good guy, a great newsman, and a big loss to us all.
Charlie, glad to see you heading off to hopefully more relaxing times.
HILL: Yes, exactly.
FOREMAN: But we will miss you an awful lot.
HILL: Quite a guy.
All right, Tom, thanks.
Just ahead: A shoot-out on Mexico's streets leaves a notorious drug lord dead. Is this really a victory in the fight against cartels, or could it actually lead to more violence? We will have the latest for you in "The War Next Door."
Plus, more fallout for Tiger Woods, yet another sponsor backing away -- those details also ahead.
HILL: The drug war next door could -- that the fear following the death of a major cartel leader.
HILL: The ruthless drug lord gunned down in this shootout between police and cartel members. His name: Arturo Beltran Leyva. Mexican President Felipe Calderon said killing was a heavy blow against one of the most dangerous criminal organizations in Mexico.
But it could also unleash a power struggle between rival cartels, one that could, in fact, lead to more bloodshed?
Michael Ware just returned from the front lines in Mexico. He joins us, along with Robert Strang, who's a security expert and former special agent for the DEA.
Good to have both of you with us. We should point out that it's not just President Calderon who's saying this is a huge heavy blow. The acting administrator for the DEA also said...
MICHAEL WARE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's correct.
HILL: ... this is a heavy blow. So, is it a heavy blow, Michael, to the cartels, or is this going to incite for violence?
WARE: Well, we'll have to wait and see. This is certainly a body blow to the general dynamics of the cartel, to lose one of their leadership, and someone so senior, obviously has a disrupting effect. But what are the ripples going to be? Will there be a smooth transition of power within the cartel? Will others come and try to feed off the carcass? Will there be internal disputes within the cartel? We just don't know which way it will go yet?
HILL: So, do you see this then as sort of being the first major one to fall in what could be in fact a line of the heads of these cartels being brought down?
ROBERT STRANG, FORMER DEA AGENT: I do. President Calderon said three years ago when he came into office, "I'm going to work with the United States. I'm going to do the best I can to stop this $20 billion industry." And 14,000 deaths in the last three years, he says, "What am I going to do to stop it?"
This is the first major victory he's had. He's on his way to do -- what Colombia did to those cartels, he's going to do the major cartels in Mexico.
HILL: You said repeatedly, Michael, that it's Mexican blood paying for this insatiable American appetite for illegal drugs.
WARE: That's right. Well, this is the -- you know, it's the moral compass. I mean, all of this death is stemming from a struggle for the right to supply America's elicit demand for drugs. So if you can have this Mexican blood on your hands, then you're a better or worse person than I.
But also, let's not forget the penetration of American soil. If you want to be purely self interested about this, there are hundreds upon hundreds of active cartel members in America, and literally hundreds of American cities. And they don't muck around. I mean, we're not talking LA. street gangs here. We're talking L.A. street gangs on steroids, and...
STRANG: Right. Well, look. Last year, there were hundreds of arrests made by the Justice Department and DEA in the United States. We're having a lot of crossfire, kidnappings, crime in cities like Phoenix and Atlanta and San Diego that are directly affected by what's happening in Mexico.
These cartels, the billion-dollar salesmen down there, there are CEOs running it, need the people up here to get the job done. It's one big organization.
So, look, we've got to get to the drugs before they get to our kids in our country. There is bloodshed. Let -- let us protect our own kids in our own country. Let us work with Mexico. This is a country that's right across our border. We cannot allow this to continue.
WARE: My final point would be, after we took down the Medellin and the Cali cartels, power shifts to the Mexicans, we now target the Mexicans -- well, there's $20 billion up for grabs every year. That profit incentive is going to see this industry evolve and evolve and evolve.
WARE: Ultimately, every time we try to find a way to stop it, it's like -- it's like an insurgency.
STRANG: Well, do we give up and just let the drugs come to our kids?
WARE: We have to decrease the demand.
STRANG: We do. It's a three-legged stool. You have to hit the treatment, enforcement, and also the education of the kids.
HILL: And you hit them all with the exact same intensity?
STRANG: Right. You do.
HILL: You do?
STRANG: You do. And that's -- everybody agrees, after year after year, keep hitting these cartels in Mexico, keep education our kids to programs like DARE in the United States, keep putting funding into treatment centers so people that have a problem can get better. This is how we're defeating the problem. This is how we're trying to make it better for the kids in our country.
WARE: But just say no is not going to work ultimately, is it? I mean, is this a case like prohibition? I mean, so we can eventually face facts.
STRANG: Yes. Well, the facts are that we can't have methamphetamine legal in our country. The facts are that heroin and cocaine are killing too many people. The facts are, that we cannot allow this to continue, and we have to put up the good fight, which we're doing. WARE: But where do we find the few good men left to train, you know what I mean?
STRANG: Well, they're there. And not everybody is corrupt.
STRANG: We've got a good president in Mexico. He's working with us. We're working with him. We're on the right track here.
HILL: On the right track is still a very long road ahead.
HILL: Michael Ware...
HILL: Good to have both of you with us. Thanks.
HILL: So, we want to know what you think. You can join the live chat happening now at AC360.com.
Up next, the inside story of a controversial self-help guru. We have been following it very closely for you. James Arthur Ray led a sweat lodge ceremony that left three people dead. Tonight, one of his former person shares how he used snakes to break down his followers.
And a bit later, a dog lover's battle. Their pet is now gone. But should they be compensated for that loss? A landmark court case is coming up.
HILL: Tonight, there is new information on James Arthur Ray. Ray, who you see right here, sells himself as a visionary, who can change and improve lives. That, of course, did the not happen at the sweat lodge ceremony in Arizona earlier this year, where three of his followers died.
Investigators have told CNN it will now be January at the earliest.
Ray, meantime faces the possibility of serious charges.
Gary Tuchman interviewed a former high-level employee of Ray's who was with him on the day of that sweat lodge tragedy. She told Gary -- what she told Gary, rather, was eye-opening -- Gary.
GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Erica.
Melinda Martin was Ray's event coordinator. She took a leave of absence after the sweat lodge tragedy and was told her position was being eliminated a couple of weeks later. She was concerned she might be indicted with Ray as one of his employees, but says she has been assured by investigators she won't be, although she believes other employees will.
She talked to us about things she told investigators, which included her trying to save lives and her allegation that Ray did nothing.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TUCHMAN: So you're giving mouth-to-mouth resuscitation to people and the event is still going on?
MELINDA MARTIN, FMR. JAMES RAY EMPLOYEE: Yes, I was giving mouth-to-mouth to Kirby Brown.
TUCHMAN: One of the victims of the sweat lodge who died?
TUCHMAN: But meanwhile, this is still going on while you're saving people's lives?
MARTIN: Yes. From every -- from every time the flap would open, people would come out, people would just be all over the ground.
TUCHMAN: But didn't it strike you as bizarre that the event was still going on? Didn't you yell "stop the event" or have someone go in? Or, I mean, what was going on in your mind?
MARTIN: Well, I was very visibly upset. I'm one of these type of people that you can see what I'm thinking, and because I showed this look concern on my face, one of dream team members came to me...
TUCHMAN: That's one of his volunteers?
MARTIN: Yes. One of his volunteers came to me and said, "Melinda, you need to get that look off your face, you're scaring everybody and they're going to think this isn't normal."
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HILL: I can't imagine why they would think that wasn't normal, Gary.
TUCHMAN: I know. I know.
HILL: You reported last week, too, about another seminar, a tragic story, a woman who committed suicide there while participating in an event. Followers were supposed to pretend they were homeless.
What exactly were the purposes of all of these activities that Ray has done?
TUCHMAN: Erica, Melinda was a good person to ask this question to because she was one of Ray's top officials, so we asked her about some of the unusual events and what Ray says he was trying to accomplish.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARTIN: We had aquariums full of snakes, and you had to reach your hand into an aquarium full of snakes slithering around and reach in and find a key and pull up the key.
TUCHMAN: And what if a snake decided he didn't like you?
MARTIN: Well, it has to be mind over matter. You have to work through the snakes and get that key. So, luckily, we had no snake bites.
The intention of these events is to get people to have breakdowns. And they're trying to get people to drum up their stuff. And so if you have any hidden sadness or anger or, you know, James tries to bring it out in you. So she might have experienced some, you know, horrible sadness over being homeless, or who knows what was in her mind.
But in order to have a breakthrough, you must first have a breakdown. And that's what he tries to accomplish during these activities.
TUCHMAN: I mean, I'm no expert on this, but that doesn't sound like that would be a good thing to do to everybody.
MARTIN: No. I mean, some people -- it's not -- it's not a good idea. Nobody knows what's in somebody's mind and in their heart, and so he put them in a position where people -- he was really, really messing with people's heads.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TUCHMAN: And James Ray has not talked to us since the sweat lodge tragedy, but spokespeople for his company tell us, there is, quote, "no evidence whatsoever that Mr. Ray or James Ray International contributed to or could have prevented Ms. Conaway's tragic suicide." Regarding the sweat lodge, they say, "Mr. Ray and his staff members acted immediately when learning sweat lodge participants had become seriously ill."
Now, Melinda Martin says she acted immediately and strongly disputes the suggestion James Ray did anything to help -- Erica.
HILL: Great reporting as always, Gary. Gets more and more disturbing with each detail you uncover. Thanks.
HILL: Just ahead on 360: A story every pet lover needs to hear.
Is your dog a personal property, or a pet, a member of the family? It may seem like a silly question for you, but for one court and for one couple, it is a very important question. In fact, we'll tell you why this legal case now has so much at stake. Also ahead: wrongly convicted. He spent 35 years in prison for a crime he didn't commit. So what ultimately set him free and who's the real culprit -- the latest is just ahead on 360.
HILL: For millions of Americans, dogs are much more than a best friend. They are part of the family. When it comes to the law, though, many states treat them more as property than as pets.
Tonight, one couple is hoping to change that. They were the parents of Shadow, a mixed breed dog who was shot to death by a neighbor after wandering on to his land. The owners were devastated. They sued the neighbor for emotional distress.
A court threw that lawsuit out, saying, "Look, you can grieve over your dog, but you can't collect damages for that loss like you would with a child." The couple appealed. The case is now before Vermont's highest court.
And full disclosure here: many of us at 360 are not only dog lovers, we are dog parents, we're still going to cover this story objectively, though, and fairly. That goes for our legal analysts as well.
Joining us: Lisa Bloom and a photo of her dogs, Fallon (ph) and Soda. Also with us, Jeffrey Toobin, who brought his dog Thunder into the studio tonight, who has just been an angel since he arrived. And, of course, you maybe familiar with my beloved dog Jake. I think we have a picture of him on vacation on the beach somewhere.
There is the J-man, relaxing with a nice bowl of water.
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SR. LEGAL ANALYST: The J-man.
HILL: During our discussion, we are actually going to put up some photos as well of some other dogs who are part of the 360 staff family here. No cats tonight, it's not because we don't love cats, it's just that this is a story about dogs. So, with that in mind...
TOOBIN: There are totally separate legal issues involving cats.
HILL: There are. My dog and cat get along, I'd like to point out.
But when we look at this -- I mean, this is actually a serious case -- and, Jeff, I'll start with you. I mean, we are -- as we mentioned -- we are all dog lovers here.
HILL: We're dog parents, not owners, we're parents. But really, can you equate the loss of a pet with the loss of, say, a child? TOOBIN: Well, no. But another way of looking at it is, is the loss of a pet the same as the loss of lawn furniture? Because if he had gone on to this family's property and broken their furniture up, that's exactly the same legal rules as apply to a dog, and that seems a little restrictive, to me, in terms of the emotional connection we all have with our dogs.
HILL: But how do you put -- Lisa, how do you put a price, then, on that emotional connection? I mean, really, how do you put a price on the loss any person, and especially we're talking about a dog?
LISA BLOOM, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, that's something the courts have to grapple with every day. If you lose a beloved family member, the court has to put a value on it. In this case, the plaintiff had only asked for an additional $6,000. I think that's pretty reasonable.
And, look, they will come into court and testify about the emotional connection they had with Shadow -- the nurturing, the comforting, the loyalty that their dog displayed with them. That's why most of us feel connected to our dogs is because we have those kinds of intangible qualities.
And look at -- look at these dogs, they're so cute as I'm talking, I can hardly think straight.
HILL: They are pretty sweet.
BLOOM: I mean, look, it's not like as Jeffrey says, to think to them as objects, and the law in furniture and bicycles, and the law needs to catch up with the way millions of pet owners feel.
HILL: We should point out, too, in this case, the man whose property was -- who shot at the dogs said, "Look, I didn't do it intentionally. I didn't mean to kill the dog."
He did plead guilty to a misdemeanor of animal cruelty. He had -- I believe he had community service. That's the word. He paid a fine. He was on probation for a year.
So, some of that has happened. They're asking for additional damages.
TOOBIN: Right. Most importantly, he was criminally prosecuted.
HILL: Right. So what are the chances, though, for this couple of their case, because now it's at the Supreme Court level in Vermont?
TOOBIN: I think it's a pretty good case, because, you know, courts are always concerned about precedents that will open the door to a million lawsuits. But I don't think this will open the door to a million lawsuits. And the lawyer for the defendant here has suggested, well, you know, do we want to have a separate law for cats and pet iguanas and pet cows or whatever? HILL: Chickens? One of our producers had a pet chicken.
TOOBIN: Had a pet chicken. That's, I think, totally irrelevant. If it there is that kind of affection for a different kind of pet, then maybe we'll have to deal with that.
HILL: A separate case.
TOOBIN: But most people don't have that kind of love for their pet iguana. Not that I mean to diminish.
HILL: No, you're not -- no, I understand.
But, Lisa, realistically, if this were to pass, Jeffrey brings up an interesting point, I mean, people could look at this and say, "Look, it's not just about dogs." Does this open a can of worms, or is this an important change in the law that people need to recognize?
BLOOM: Well, I wouldn't call it a can of worms. I would call it moving in the direction towards protection of animals and away from animal cruelty. And we have seen changes in other areas of the law. For example, here in California, protecting factory farm animals from certain kinds of cruelty. So, we are moving toward society that, I think, is more respectful and humane towards animals and this would be part of that.
TOOBIN: Can of worms?
BLOOM: Yes, I know.
TOOBIN: Do you can of worms? I mean, the worms are not part of this story.
HILL: I wasn't suggesting that you eat the worms. I wasn't suggesting any cruelty toward the worms. Oh!
BLOOM: Who is a good boy?
HILL: We need to see Thunder again.
HILL: I'm getting in trouble.
TOOBIN: Oh, he's lying down.
HILL: Oh, Thunder is relaxing. It's Lisa's dog, again.
HILL: Well, Thunder can stick around for a while.
BLOOM: Erica, can I just say one thing quickly? I mean, think about it, you know, my rescue dog Soda cost me $10 at the animal shelter. You mean to tell me if somebody shot and killed my dog, I would only be entitled to the $10 in damages? I think most people think that's absolutely wrong. And that's what this case is about.
HILL: And we will see what they -- I, frankly, we're going to be watching it very closely. And this picture is very sweet, Lisa.
TOOBIN: That's a horrifying thought, only $10. Really, I think that Lisa makes a very good point there.
HILL: Jeff Toobin...
BLOOM: Yes, who's a good boy?
HILL: Soda, Thunder and all the dogs of 360, special Sammy who I think got a lot of air time and the J-man. Thank you.
HILL: Up next: tough times for Tiger Woods. Another sponsor is backing away from the superstar. That's ahead.
Plus, take a look at this man we're about to show you. Free after 35 years in prison for crime he didn't commit. Those details just ahead.
HILL: Want to felt get you caught up on a number of other important stories happening at this hour.
Tom Foreman back now for the 360 Bulletin.
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Erica.
Freedom and fortune come to a man in prison for 35 years for a crime he did not commit. James Bain free after DNA testing proved he was not the man who raped a Florida boy in 1974. Under state law, Bain can collect $50,000 for every year behind bars, a total of $1.75 million.
Another blow to Tiger Woods. Swiss watch TAG Heuer says it will downscale its use of the golfer's image and ads for the foreseeable future. The company is latest of Woods' sponsors to back away since he admitted extramarital transgressions.
A major step toward legalizing same-sex marriage here in the nation's capital today. D.C. mayor Adrian Fenty signed a bill to that affect, passed by the city council Tuesday. The measure now goes to Congress, which has final say over D.C. laws, and where it is likely to be approved.
And heading into the Christmas, New Year's holidays, some scientific guidance on hangovers. Researchers have discovered that clear drinks, vodka and the like, are less punishing the day after than dark spirits like bourbon.
HILL: You know, I've heard that for a long time.
FOREMAN: Have you?
HILL: That's like -- that's like -- yes, that's like the important things you learn in college like liquor or beer, you're in the clear. Beer before liquor gets sick quicker, Tom.
FOREMAN: Is that it? Is that one of those things you pick in beer pong, is that what you have that way?
HILL: We played a lot of beer pong at B.U. But, you know, I heard it around, not that I know anything about it.
FOREMAN: I wish that you'd been studying, Erica.
HILL: Right, right. Speaking of studying. We were studying all of the pictures of the pets that were coming in from the staffers today. I know you have a very nice, a very sweet dog, been on the show before.
FOREMAN: Lovely dog.
HILL: Thank you. But it's not just about dogs, of course. People have all kinds of pets. And we thought a nice complement to our display would make a lovely shot of the day in this case, different species of pet altogether. We'd like you to meet this one from the family album at home video of another staffer.
Oh, yes, dramatic video it is -- 360 senior producer Eva Nordstrom, there's her niece and nephew entertaining, perhaps being entertained by the Nordstrom pet chicken.
HILL: I know you're thinking it doesn't really look like a chicken, it's actually a bird known as a silky rooster, quite the head of hair there, feathers, whatever they maybe be.
HILL: And in this video, silky finding a nice perch on a lap of Eva's husband, Brian. Silky apparently -- there you go.
FOREMAN: That's morning.
HILL: It shows out appreciation by letting out a hardy cock-a- doodle-doo every now and then. Very easy to love a chicken apparently.
FOREMAN: That's a beautiful-looking animal there. HILL: It is. I've never seen anything like that.
FOREMAN: And oddly enough, my nickname in college was the "Silky Rooster."
HILL: Was that one with clear liquor or bourbon? Never mind, don't answer.
FOREMAN: I'm always studying.
HILL: Tom, thanks. Have a great weekend. Drive carefully tonight in that snow.
More breaking news ahead on 360: We'll have the latest on the major winter storm which is slamming the northeast at this hour. Just how bad it will be, where it's headed next, and why it could affect the entire country.