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Birthers and President Obama; Pres. Obama's New Court Pick; American al Qaeda; Zero Tolerance Makes Zero Sense

Aired May 10, 2010 - 23:00   ET



ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Tonight, the birthers are not going away. Not the Army doctor who is disobeying orders because he doubts the President's citizenship and not the state legislators who are trying to pass laws to prove it. So the question tonight is why do they believe the President isn't American? What is different about this President? "Keeping Them Honest" I'll ask the Army doctor who is now facing court-martial.

Also tonight, President Obama's Supreme Court pick, a top legal scholar but no experience as a judge. Conservative commentators are already picking her apart. But is she likely to pass without any problems? Top court watcher, Jeffrey Toobin joins us.

And later, "Crime and Punishment": a story you're not going to believe this. Burglary caught on camera. The victims? Some of Hollywood's biggest names: Orlando Bloom, even Lindsay Lohan. Some of the alleged crooks: well, teenagers and among them a reality show wannabe; a bizarre tale that could only happen in Hollywood.

But first up tonight, "Keeping Them Honest". The birther movement: despite being largely disproven by the facts, it is back and in fact never really went away. Arizona legislators recently tried and failed to pass a measure there demanding the President produces birth certificate if he runs for re-election. In a five other states right now, there is similar legislation pending.

Let me show you over here at the wall, some of the legislation in at least one state. This is from New Hampshire. This is the New Hampshire House Bill 1245, it says, "Names of the candidates shall not appear on the candidate unless the Secretary of State has received certified copies of the birth certificates of the candidates."

Now, according to a recent "Washington Post"/ABC News poll, take a look at this; 20 percent or one in five surveyed either say for sure or would say if he had to choose that President Obama was born elsewhere.

And now the birther movement is coalescing around this man right here. Lieutenant Colonel Terrence Lakin, he's a decorated Army doctor. An 18-year veteran facing court-martial for disobeying orders to ship out for another tour of duty in Afghanistan.

Now, he says the orders are illegal because he claims that President Obama, the commander-in-chief, has not proven that he was born in this country. Now on Friday, we invited Lieutenant Colonel Lakin to be on the broadcast. We thought it would be interesting to hear his perspective. His attorney insisted on joining him. We agreed.

His attorney, by the way, is being paid for by this organization. A group called The American Patriot Foundation. This is their Web site. You can see right here, it's interesting. They're actually asking for donations for the legal defense fund for Lieutenant Colonel Lakin. Over here you can see that they say they think that this thing is going cost more than $500,000. It seems pretty pricey.

But they're basically fundraising off him. Now, as I mentioned, Lakin faces court-martial for knowingly disobeying the lawful orders of his superiors and now supporters hope that during the trial, Lakin's attorneys will be able to subpoena the White House for the President's birth certificate.

The President is not mentioned in the charges, however, against Lakin. And according to a number of experts in military justice, he's not even really relevant to the case. So under military law, the prosecution will likely only have to show that the chain of command is legitimate. Not the commander-in-chief. Meaning Lieutenant Colonel Lakin stands a good chance of conviction and dismissal from the service.

We wanted to hear from Lakin himself but as you'll see in our interview from Friday, he is a man of few words.


COOPER: Colonel, you say you were refusing your orders because, quote, "There was significant evidence or unanswered speculation that Mr. Obama is not eligible to be president." You said that in a note to General Casey. Now, ignoring the idea that you actually cited speculation as the justification for your decision, but to say there is significant evidence that the President was not born in America is just false.

I mean, you're an honorable guy. You've served your country incredibly well. You're a doctor. Do you honestly believe President Obama was not born in Hawaii?

PAUL JENSEN, ATTORNEY FOR LT. COL. TERRENCE LAKIN: Well, Anderson, let me answer as his lawyer --

COOPER: Well, no, no, no. Wait a second, Paul, this is a doctor. Wait excuse me, this is a doctor, this is a man who has served his country for 18 years. I think he can answer a question by himself.

JENSEN: I think that the lawyer should protect the client from incriminating himself. You say it's false. You're not prosecuting this case.

COOPER: Ok, Lieutenant Colonel, if you call up the State of Hawaii and you ask for a birth certificate, you're sent a certificate of live birth. That is the official document and the President has --

JENSON: That's not correct. That is absolutely not correct.

COOPER: And the President -- the President has released that certificate of live birth. There it is. Two newspapers in 1961 had birth announcements provided by the State of Hawaii Health Department. The Republican Governor of Hawaii sent someone to personally view the birth certificate at the Department of Health and says it's there.

JENSEN: You know, that's not --

COOPER: Again can the Colonel not talk for himself? The guy is an adult.

JENSEN: You said that that's a birth certificate, Mr. Cooper. Now, you want to tell the truth to your viewers --

COOPER: According to the State of Hawaii --

JENSEN: That is not -- that's an abstract.

COOPER: Ok, according to the State of Hawaii the certificate of live birth -- and I'm quoting from the State of Hawaii Health Department -- the certificate of live birth is the standard form acceptable by federal agencies.

So are you saying, Colonel -- you're not actually saying anything but I would appreciate it if you actually would and not hide behind your attorney -- are you actually saying that all soldiers who currently serve who are from Hawaii should be suspect because that's what they provide?

LT. COLONEL TERRENCE LAKIN, ARMY MEDICAL DOCTOR: This is a constitutional matter. And the truth matters and --

COOPER: Well -- and answers matter. Can you answer my question? Should all soldiers who are from Hawaii and who have given certificates of live birth as their proof of citizenship, should they all be suspect now?

LAKIN: This isn't a matter about all soldiers. This is the matter about --

COOPER: Well, you're saying --

LAKIN: -- the positions that are require -- that require a natural born citizen.

COOPER: You've taken countless orders in your -- in your laudable service over the years. Have you ever asked for any superior's birth certificate?

JENSEN: You know, that really is -- begs the question.

COOPER: No, no, sir. Please, let your client answer. You served under General Casey. Where was he born? JENSEN: I'm the lawyer and I'm going to tell you, Mr. Cooper, the issue wasn't about where General Casey was born where Mr. --

COOPER: Well, he doesn't know. Because you've never asked the question because you just assumed that they're Americans.

JENSEN: That's not the issue. He doesn't have to be a natural born citizen to be the Chief of Staff of the Army.

COOPER: Actually, to serve in the United States Army, according to your own documents, citizenship papers have to be brought to bear.

JENSEN: That's not the issue. To serve as President of the United States --

COOPER: Yes, in your own letter.

JENSEN: Mr. Cooper, please.

COOPER: Colonel in your own letter to General Casey, you have said that you had to provide your birth certificate.

JENSEN: Mr. Cooper you didn't have to do this, let us answer. Are you afraid of letting me answer?

COOPER: No. I would like your client to answer.

JENSEN: The issue under the United States Constitution is whether the President is eligible to hold the Office. That determine -- is determined by whether he's 35 years old and a natural born citizen. Those are not requirements for the Chief of Staff for the Army, sir.

And what Colonel Lakin has said, is that there's mounting evidence that he is not, and the original birth certificate has not been released.

COOPER: Right ok, but again there's not mounting evidence and he has taken --

JENSEN: Well, so you say.

COOPER: -- excuse me, let me respond. He has taken orders for years from people, probably thousands of orders, countless orders. He has never questioned the legitimacy of the people he's taken orders from. General Casey, but he doesn't know where General Casey is from. For all he knows, General Casey could be a foreign born, not an American citizen.

JENSEN: Mr. Cooper, if you've done your research, you know that in the State of Hawaii, there's a statute that allows anyone born outside the State of Hawaii including in a foreign country, to obtain a Hawaiian birth certificate at any age by going back and filling out a form.

COOPER: Right. And if you had done your research, you would know that, on the certificate of live birth, it would indicate that the person was born in another country. It would say they were born in another country. It would not --

JENSEN: That's not correct. That's not correct.

COOPER: Well, that is correct. That is a fact.

JENSEN: I beg your pardon.

Under Hawaiian statute 338-17.8, there's nothing that says that in the statute.


JENSEN: You point it out to me if I'm wrong.

COOPER: So -- in your complaint to General Casey, Colonel, you say, quote, that you're not seeking any "grandstanding or publicity for this action".

How can you seriously say that? I mean, you -- you put out a YouTube video with your -- you're talking, frankly, more than you've talked here tonight. You have this group paying all your legal fees, The American Patriot Foundation Legal Defense Fund. They have provided the attorney who's sitting next to you. And they are fund- raising based on you. They're raising money using you.

LAKIN: I attempted all avenues I could over a year ago.

I have -- I submitted an Article 138, which is the only way that I could research how to -- how to address this issue, asking and begging my leadership for guidance in how to -- how to address this issue. And the answers that I got were not forthcoming.

JENSEN: Now, Mr. -- Mr. Cooper, you --

COOPER: Lieutenant Colonel, let me --


JENSEN: The standard is not satisfying you.

COOPER: Lieutenant Colonel you seem like really an honorable man --

JENSEN: The standard is satisfying the Constitution.


COOPER: Sir, let me -- excuse me. I'm addressing your client.

Lieutenant Colonel, you seem like an incredibly honorable man who's obviously served his country. You're a doctor. You're an educated man.

Why is it this issue? I mean, of all the orders you've taken, of all the people you've served under, why this, why now? What is it that -- that has got you so, you know, sticking on this issue?

LAKIN: It's a fundamental of the Constitution, and my oath of office is to the Constitution. And I believe we need truth on this matter.

COOPER: But -- but, I mean, what's wrong with a certificate of live birth, in your opinion? What's wrong -- I mean, how do you explain a newspaper in -- two newspapers in 1961 announcing the birth of Barack Obama in Hawaii, which is not something his parents did or his grandparents did? Those are based on health records sent by the Health Department, as it does for every person born in Hawaii. And -- and everyone gets a newspaper announcement.

JENSEN: Mr. Cooper, that's simply not correct.

And the -- and the issue is, instead, why hasn't the President released the original birth certificate, if one exists? This could be over tonight -- tonight. Release the birth certificate, if it exists, signed by the doctor in 1961.


JENSEN: It's in the State of Hawaii's records, if it was in existence.

COOPER: All right. I'm just going to read you a quote from Janice Okubo from the Department of Health: "Our certificate of live birth is the standard form, which was modeled after national standards that are acceptable by federal agencies and organizations."

JENSEN: But it is not the only form. It is not the only form.

COOPER: The Governor of Hawaii, a Republican, has said -- and I quote -- "I had my health doctor, who is a physician by background, go personally view the birth certificate in the birth records of the Department of Health, and we issued a news release."

JENSEN: And she is not going to be testifying at the court- martial.

COOPER: Lieutenant Colonel --

JENSEN: This is a criminal case. The President should release the original birth certificate, and this will be over tonight.

These other documents and testimony are not admissible and will not be admitted in court. The issue is --

COOPER: Paul Jensen, I appreciate you being on the program tonight. Lieutenant Colonel Terrence Lakin, I appreciate it, as well. Thank you, sir.

JENSEN: Thank you.


COOPER: Well, let us know what you think about that. You can join the live chat at

We're going to continue the conversation on birthers and also President Obama's Supreme Court nominee with blogger Erick Erickson, Roland Martin, and Jeffrey Toobin. Join us for that.

Later, it starts like the all-American story, until the all- American boy joins al Qaeda -- how it happened. And why are more Americans becoming radicalized?


ANNOUNCER: Recently on 360: Bill Maher, Demi Moore, Dr. Phil, Michael Lewis, Douglas Brinkley, Shakira, and Faith Hill and Tim McGraw.

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COOPER: We're talking about the birthers, who have not gone away, despite an awful lot of evidence from nonpartisan sources that there is simply nothing to the story, no "there" there.

We also want to talk about Elena Kagan, President Obama's nominee for the Supreme Court. She's the Solicitor General.

So, joining me now to discuss the "Raw Politics" of both: CNN contributors Erick Erickson of; and Roland Martin, definitely not of; also senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin.

So, Roland, if there is -- just to play devil's advocate here on the birther argument, if there is a hard copy long-form birth certificate in the Records Department of Hawaii that the -- the Governor, the Republican Governor of Hawaii has said she sent her physician to see, why not release that?

ROLAND MARTIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Because they still won't be satisfied. We heard the same birther --


COOPER: They say they will be. They say, look, we see that, and -- and this thing goes away.


MARTIN: You know what? But actually, they haven't been, because, in the last year-and-a-half, I have heard birthers say, oh, they fabricated the long-form. They fabricated the live birth certificate. I mean, these folks will not believe anything. And, so, all you're simply doing is lending legitimacy to their nonsense.

COOPER: It is interesting, Erick. And you're a conservative, but you actually come out pretty strongly against the birthers. ERICK ERICKSON, EDITOR IN CHIEF, REDSTATE.COM: Right.

COOPER: You say they don't represent the movement.

I have got -- received a lot of e-mails, vitriolic e-mails over the last couple days from birthers.

ERICKSON: It should be both.

COOPER: Yes -- well, who basically are -- seem to kind of change the game mid-stride. I mean, they say, well, look, even if there is a birth certificate, because Barack Obama had a father born in Kenya, and has therefore only had one parent who is an American, under this philosopher who the founding fathers listened to -- that's not the definition of a natural-born citizen --


COOPER: -- whereas, in truth, anybody who is born in America, even if their parents aren't citizens, is a citizen.

ERICKSON: Right. You know, John McCain, who wasn't born in this country, but born of two American citizens, is an American citizen. Mitt Romney's father had the same issue and he was an American citizen.

These people are masters of moving the goalposts. If Jesus Christ were to come back tomorrow surrounded by angels and say that Barack Obama is a citizen, they would say, it's probably the Anti- Christ. Let's stick around and wait for the real Jesus to come.

COOPER: So -- so, what do you think is behind -- I mean, what is behind the belief? What is -- what is the motivation?

ERICKSON: You know, there are some people, I think, who just can't fathom some things in life. Life has dealt them a raw turn or something. And so, they come up with elaborate conspiracy theories.

We see this across American politics, regardless of ideology. And I think this is one of those cases.

COOPER: Jeff, what are the odds of Lieutenant Colonel Lakin actually getting anywhere with his defense?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Remember the old Elvis Costello song "Less Than Zero"? I would say that's what his chances are here in this -- in this whole enterprise. I mean, look --

COOPER: And, I mean, I -- it is sad. I mean, this is a guy who has given 18 years of service, you know, apparently served honorably, was a doctor, and then seems to be tossing out his career for this. I mean, there are principled stands you can take. This doesn't seem to be one of them.

TOOBIN: You know, in your interview, you kept saying what an honorable man he is. You know, as they say at the Supreme Court, I think I dissent.


TOOBIN: These people are bigots. They're racists. They're freaks. They're lunatics. These are not rational players in American politics. These people are not part of the American political system.

And I think any effort to mollify them will simply lead to more questions. For example, let's just mention that the Honolulu newspaper announced his birth the day after he was born.

COOPER: Two of them did, actually, yes.

TOOBIN: Two of them did. So, was that planted years later, so he could run for president? I mean, let's not just -- let's not dignify these with any --

ERICKSON: They actually have a theory on that one.

TOOBIN: Oh, what's the theory on that one?

ERICKSON: Well, that he was actually born in Kenya and, due to the time change, that it was actually put in the newspaper the day he was born. But that's actually -- legitimately, that is their argument.


ERICKSON: You can't rationalize with these people.

COOPER: All right. Let's turn --

MARTIN: That's right. You can't.

COOPER: -- to something that's going to have more impact on more people's lives, Elena Kagan nominated to the Supreme Court.

Roland, are you disappointed with President Obama's pick? Because some on the left are saying that she is, in some ways, too conservative.

MARTIN: Well, and what you find here is, is that Republicans -- any time there is a Republican president, they are going to appoint a strong conservative. Yet, Democrats always seem to be afraid of appointing a strong liberal, so they would rather appoint someone who is a centrist, who can sort of work both sides, if you will.

And, so, I have talked to --


COOPER: But, Roland, I mean, conservatives are saying, look, she is a strong liberal; she's an activist, you know --

(CROSSTALK) MARTIN: Well, I -- well, first -- well, first of all, they'll call Arlen Specter a strong liberal, even though he was one of theirs. But the point there is --

ERICKSON: He is still a liberal.

MARTIN: -- many folks -- you're hearing on the left who are saying, she is not as strong a liberal as they would have liked to.

But, again, she is in an -- she is in an interesting spot here, because Republicans are saying, well, we like her. Let's hear more from her. The left is saying, well, we don't -- quite sure, but we also like her.

And, so, for the President, they're, frankly, in a very good position, because you really don't have any hardened voices on either side.

COOPER: Erick, there's a lot of hardened voices certainly on radio, on conservative radio, talking about her. What's your take on her?

ERICKSON: Well, you know, she -- she did write her thesis in college on socialism and how she lamented the death of the activist left and hoped it would come back, and wrote in the '80s that she was of the left.

But, you know, I'm a little disappointed that Barack Obama didn't pick someone who wore a bow tie. With John Paul Stevens gone, it's the last of the bow ties on the Supreme Court.

But, bigger -- and I think this is going to be her Achilles' heel. With John Paul Stevens retiring and Elena -- the Elena Kagan pick, there are no more members of the Supreme Court who are veterans of the U.S. military, which I think could turn into a big deal, particularly given some of the issues that may come up in the next few years with the Supreme Court. You may --


ERICKSON: -- conservatives play that.

COOPER: Well, of course, questions about her take on "don't ask, don't tell" and also recruiting at Harvard.

TOOBIN: Correct.

COOPER: Jeff, you know her personally. Tell me about her.

TOOBIN: We're law school classmates.

I think you saw a good -- a good example of Elena Kagan in action today. She is self-confident. She's funny. She is very intelligent and gets along with people. I think one of the reasons she got ahead of the other candidates is that she has a reputation of bringing people of diverse political viewpoints together. Over 10, 20, 30 years on the Supreme Court, that's going to be a very important skill. Not so much now, because I think most of the justices there are very set in their ways. But you can be influential.


COOPER: But the knock on her, though, Jeff, as you know, is that there's not a big paper trail on her, which probably would help her in the confirmation process, but that she hasn't really had to make decisions, that she hasn't been a judge, and, so, therefore she's been able to kind of do what, frankly, then Senator, or even before, Barack Obama did, of kind of walk a middle road.

TOOBIN: Well, and I think she is very much an Obama Democrat. She is no radical. She is in the center of the party.

But I think we have to remember the history here. In 1954, when the Supreme Court decided Brown v. Board of Education, eight of the nine justices had never been judges before. Earl Warren was Governor of California. Hugo Black was a Senator. People had different backgrounds.

Only in 2005 did all nine justices become former federal appeals court judges. Obama believes in diversity in all things, including background.

COOPER: Do you think -- did you think she will get the nomination -- I mean, do you think she will get it?

TOOBIN: You know, when you hear Orrin Hatch, Jon Kyl, Jeff Sessions, prominent Republicans today, almost endorsing her, but certainly not coming out against her, that was a very possible -- positive sign for her nomination.

MARTIN: Hey and Anderson, isn't it fortunate also -- Erick talked about the bow tie of John Paul Stevens.

We now -- if she is confirmed, you will have basically an Ivy League Supreme Court, folks who all went to Yale, Harvard, Princeton, or whatever.

ERICKSON: You will.

MARTIN: And, so, you know, Stevens went to the University of Chicago and law school at Northwestern. And so it would be nice, frankly, to have points of views who didn't simply go to these East Coast schools -- that -- that, frankly, doesn't represent the same views of other folks across the country.

So, it would be great to see people from different parts of America, versus Ivy League institutions.

TOOBIN: That's a weird -- that's a weird fact. Roland is exactly right about this, seven products of Harvard Law School -- six of Harvard Law School, six -- three of Yale, that's just not right. COOPER: You it isn't --


TOOBIN: It's no reason to vote against her, but it's just odd.


ERICKSON: Anderson, one more quick point, after this weekend in Utah, seeing incumbent Senator Bob Bennett defeated, let's not underestimate the willingness of some of the long-term Republicans to actually fight, if only because they're now scared of their base.

COOPER: Interesting.

All right, we've got to leave it there. Erick Erickson, Roland Martin, Jeffrey Toobin, thanks very much.

MARTIN: Thank you.

COOPER: Up next: We have not forgotten the Gulf Coast -- why BP's plan for stopping the oil leak failed, what they are trying next, why a lot of people have very little faith in the effort. Historian and BP critic Douglas Brinkley joins us ahead.


COOPER: The environmental catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico getting worse. More than three million gallons of oil have poured into the waters since an oil rig exploded back on April 20th.

Now, BP, who leased and operated the rig, said today it has spent $350 million so far in cleanup and other costs tied to the spill. Again and again, engineers have tried to shut off the gushing oil. Nothing has worked. The latest attempt on Friday, they lowered that giant four-story container over the leak to try to cap it, but ice- like crystals apparently doomed the effort.

Tom Foreman joins us to explain that and the next plans to contain the oil disaster.

Tom, what do you know?

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Anderson, remember, this is happening in a very deep, dark and cold place, well below freezing, depending on how you look at it under this pressure.

So, tiny crystals of ice and gas called methane hydrate have been rising with the oil all along since the spill began. And here's what happened. When this dome was dropped, these tiny crystals started clinging to each other and to the sides of the dome inside. And, gradually, they just built up so much that they clogged the entire nozzle here, so that the oil could not be funneled out to the surface.

So, the question, obviously, that you would ask is, what are they? Well, this is what they are. A thousand feet or more beneath the ocean's surface, molecules of water freeze like little cages -- that's them out in red -- around each molecule of methane, creating this weird sort of slush called fire ice.

And why do they call it that? Well, because, look. You actually can set this ablaze. The gas burns as the ice melts and releases it. That, Anderson, is the culprit that's stopping up this funnel from stopping this leak in the bottom of the ocean.

COOPER: So, I understand they -- they have considered using a smaller dome. How would that be any better?

FOREMAN: Well, that's an interesting question, Anderson. The reason it would be better, perhaps, a researcher from the Colorado Schools of Mines tells me, it might allow them to focus a heat source right around here to prevent those crystals from connecting and clogging the spout.

But fire ice is really a tricky thing. Vast beds of this stuff on the ocean floor can become highly volatile if either the pressure or the temperature equation is upset, reverting to pure gas all at once, and erupting up toward the surface.

That means, for instance, if you had a ship right up here, you could have the gas coming up like this. And if it went to the top and was ignited, you could have a massive explosion up here.

But there's another possibility, and that could even be worse. This is one of the theories of what happened in the original rig explosion if they had a methane explosion like this. But, just as bad, the surface could also become, as this gas was released, an unstable mass of water mixed with bubbles of gas.

And it could become so unstable -- no kidding -- that a ship like this could simply be unable to float and be swallowed by the sea. Some scientists genuinely think this could be an explanation for those supposedly mysterious ship disappearance -- disappearances in the Bermuda Triangle -- Anderson.

COOPER: So, there is another option we're hearing about called a junk shot. What is that?

FOREMAN: Yes, the junk shot is the last possible option we're talking about here.

To put it in really simple terms, what they're talking about doing is injecting some shredded rope, rubber, and other material into piping all around the wellhead at the bottom down there, hoping to just dam it up. It's possible that the oil is coming out underneath that water -- with more than 2,000 pounds of pressure, enough to lift a Mini Cooper. So putting a cork into that could be very tough -- Anderson.

COOPER: All right, Tom, appreciate it.

The oil slick has wiped out huge chunks of the Gulf Coast fishing industry. It's threatening a hundred miles -- hundreds of miles of beaches, marshlands and wildlife sanctuaries.

Douglas Brinkley is not only a presidential historian. He's also passionate about the environment. One of his many books is about President Roosevelt's creating the national parks and wildlife refuges. Now -- he is right now writing a book about saving Alaska's wilderness, where BP wants to drill.

I want to "Dig Deeper" with Douglas Brinkley.

Doug, I know you -- you continue to follow this story closely, as we do. Were you surprised at all that the containment dome didn't work?


In fact, even on your show last week, I said that BP is winging it. What their plan really is to drill a relief well. They're saying it could take three months. People I talk to in the oil industry, top people in the oil industry, say it could take as long as five months to do it.

So, what they're trying now is anything to just try something. You just gave the junk shot. They're calling it now, you know, the top hat or the little hat. And they're throwing all these terms as a deflection from their culpability in -- in their lax environmental standards they had, which has led to this worst environmental disaster in American history.

COOPER: And I want to give our viewers just some context, kind of a look at just how big a spill we're talking about. This is what it would look like if the spill area was over Manhattan. And then we also have what it would look like if it was over San Francisco.

The head of BP told NPR today that it could be weeks if not months before the well is shut. So even now, knowing what we know, we really have no idea how bad this is going to get.

BRINKLEY: No. And Tony Hayward, the CEO, who you just mentioned of BP has been disingenuous from day one. I'm going to be stunned if he survives --

COOPER: You think he should step down.

BRINKLEY: I do think he should step down. I think it's been a -- he has not treated the public properly. Just the dropping of dispersants on the Gulf of Mexico, dumping of chemicals nonstop; how would they like it if it was dumped outside of London or Kent where he lives.

There has been no sensitivity to the matter at all. It is constantly moving the marker one step forward and hoping that the media and the American people will somehow get bored with this. We can't get bored when the oil spill is continuing. And there is no real plan to cap this thing except drill a relief well.

The rest of them are Hail Mary passes. Let's hope one works but it is all very much a long shot.

COOPER: It is interesting though. I mean, you know, David Axelrod today told Wolf Blitzer that the President is still open to expanding offshore oil drilling. Did that surprise you.

BRINKLEY: It did surprise me. And we'll see how that plays out. I think we need something like 9/11 commission right now. We need a BP spill commission.

Watch the clips tomorrow of what's going to go on, on capitol hill. Then the third thing to watch is the finger pointing going on between Halliburton, TransOcean, BP. They're each blaming each other.

Bottom line, BP is responsible; they chose the drill. They chose how to drill the well. And I don't think that they've been a good corporate citizen. Not just for offshore oil but for any corporation. A company that powerful to be constantly offering misinformation to the American people that they have, I think it's been very sorry for a company like that to be behaving the way they have.

COOPER: All right. Doug Brinkley, I appreciate your time.


COOPER: Thanks.

Coming up, from an altar boy to an American al Qaeda; a young man from suburban New York who became a terrorist. This is an astonishing story, a cautionary tale -- ahead.


COOPER: Still ahead, a young American's disturbing journey from all-American altar boy to al Qaeda. Where did the path to an alleged plot to blow up New York's Penn Station begin? That story is ahead.

But first, an update on some of the other stories we're following. Joe Johns has a "360 News & Business Bulletin" -- Joe.

JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, stocks soared today. The Dow shot up 405 points after European officials approved a nearly $1 trillion rescue plan to keep Greece and other troubled nations solvent. The NASDAQ rallied 109 points, the S&P 49 points.

A severe weather system spawned multiple tornadoes over the Central Plains Monday night, killing at least three people and injuring dozens. In Norman, Oklahoma, that twister overturned cars, downed trees, blew apart several mobile homes. Nearly 28,000 homes are without power in the metropolitan Oklahoma City area alone.

A Canadian man says all he got from Delta after the airline lost his dog Paco is an apology and a $200 flight credit. Paco's owner says he put his pet in a carrier with two locks for a flight from Mexico City to Detroit. The dog never arrived. The airline says Paco escaped in his carrier and ran away.

And isn't that awful? I mean, that's the worst possible situation there. Your poor dog disappears on you.

COOPER: Yikes.

All right. Ahead on 360, remembering the one and only Lena Horne. From her voice and beauty to how she championed civil rights, we'll look back on her extraordinary life. That is coming up.


COOPER: We all know that the alleged Times Square bomber was born in Pakistan but became an American citizen. But increasingly, it seems more Americans are becoming radicalized.

That brings us to our "360 Special Investigation" tonight, about how an all-American kid became an al Qaeda terrorist. Now, he was born in the suburbs of New York. And as you'll see tonight, this former altar boy planned an attack on U.S. soil that could have caused massive casualties.

And until now his story has never been reported. The attacks on the U.S. he helped al Qaeda plan have never been disclosed.

CNN international correspondent Nic Robertson spent months working on the report. Here's the first part of his special investigation.


NIC ROBERTSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is Penn Station in the heart of New York. At peak rush more than 60,000 people churn through here every hour -- 60,000 every hour.

For al Qaeda, Penn Station and the potential for a mass killing is a prized but daunting target. But then it seemed they got lucky.

That's when this man, a young American, who grew up only 50 miles from here, made his way to Pakistan to offer his help. He is Bryant Neal Vinas, and this is how a quiet, studious middle-class kid suddenly transformed into a dangerous enemy of the state.

MITCH SILBER, NYPD: Bryant Neal Vinas is almost a poster child for the process, the unremarkable nature of the people who might go through this process, and the danger that presents.

ROBERTSON (on camera): I've spent the better part of a year here in the U.S. and in Europe, unraveling how and why Bryant Neal Vinas went from Catholic to Muslim, from U.S. Army recruit to jihadist, from Long Island to Lahore.

(voice-over): Bryant grew up on this street in a middle-class neighborhood on Long Island. His parents are Latino immigrants. Neither would go on camera with CNN, but a neighbor, Rita Desroches, says as a boy Bryant was like part of her family.

RITA DESROCHES, NEIGHBOR: Very sweet little guy. He could come here any time, and he was welcome to be here. ROBERTSON: Rita's son, Carvin, knew him best.

CARVIN DESROCHES, CHILDHOOD FRIEND: When we were younger, we used to go in the pool a lot. He was respectful. He would make sure that he wouldn't break any sort of rules in the house.

ROBERTSON (on camera): There was nothing remarkable about Bryant's early childhood. His teachers remember him as being a good student, quiet and shy. He loved baseball and swimming.

On Sundays, he was an altar boy. His father, devoutly Catholic. But when he was 14 years old, it all came crashing down.

(voice-over): Bryant's world, shattered by his father leaving his mother. His mother talked about it off camera with CNN terrorism analyst Paul Cruickshank.

PAUL CRUICKSHANK, CNN TERRORISM ANALYST: There were tears and temper tantrums. Bryant started quarrelling with his sister, being disrespectful towards his mother. He refused to accept his parents' separation.

ROBERTSON: Soon, Bryant left his mother's home. The boy was adrift. He stayed with the Desroches a few weeks until he went to live with his father. It was about that time Bryant made a new best friend, Alex Acevado.

(on camera) Where did you meet him?

ALEX ACEVADO, FRIEND: I met him in high school, Longwood High School. From there we just hanged out. We clicked, you know, like regular buddies.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): Although they were best buddies, they were different. Alex liked partying. Bryant was clean cut.

ACEVADO: Never had a beer with him. Nothing. He was a straight edge. He was passionate about school. He did his homework on time. He liked school. He liked going to school. He wanted to finish school and go to college.

ROBERTSON (on camera): He sounds like a regular middle-class kid.

ACEVADO: Yes, he is. He's just dedicated. He's very dedicated. And he's focused. Very focused. To me he's very goal oriented.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): Bryant was 18 on September 11, 2001, 9/11. The terrorist act inspired one of Bryant's friends to join the Marines. Another one joined the Army. And two joined the Coast Guard. Bryant wanted in, too.

(on camera): What was he talking to you about, what he wanted to do with his life?

ACEVADO: He just said he wanted to go into the military you know, and just come out and just live happy.

ROBERTSON: And join the Army.

ACEVADO: And join the Army.

ROBERTSON: Did he say why he wanted to join the Army?

ACEVADO: No, not at all. He just felt proud. He wanted to just join the Army.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): In March 2002, Bryant enlists. According to military records CNN obtained, he signed up for the infantry but after three weeks is discharged. Bryant's family says he was discharged due to his asthma.

ACEVADO: He said it was too difficult on him.

ROBERTSON (on camera): Boot camp.

ACEVADO: Yes. Too difficult, he said.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): Bryant was 19, aimless, alienated from his parents.

ACEVADO: So the relationship between him and his family was just -- they just crumbled. They shattered in pieces. And he started a new life with his friends.

ROBERTSON: Bryant was drawn to Alex's brother Victor, an aspiring pro boxer and a new convert to Islam.

ACEVADO: He asked, "What is the Koran?" And my brother explained to him what it was, and he handed him the Koran.

ROBERTSON (on camera): And how long did it take him to read it?

ACEVADO: Not long. Because he took every minute, every second reading that book.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): It's as if he's been searching for a new identity. And now it's taking shape. But it would soon jag wildly in another direction.

Of course, no one could have guessed Bryant's journey would lead him to Afghanistan and a plan to help al Qaeda strike back home in New York.


COOPER: That's tomorrow, part two of "American al Qaeda: The Path to Jihad against America".

Now in his early 20s, Bryant Neal Vinas' views grow increasingly radical and in time it would lead him to al Qaeda and the plot to strike here in the heart of New York. That is tomorrow on 360.

You can join the live chat. Let us know what you think at

Up next, from the classroom to prison in a single day: what one student faced and why one lawmaker is working to change it. "Perry's Principles" when we continue.


COOPER: Last October, a Georgia teen threw his books in a bag, a bag he used a few days earlier to go fishing. It turned out the bag had a fishing knife in it and when the knife fell out at school he soon found himself in prison. He had broken Georgia's zero tolerance weapons policy, a policy one state senator says makes zero sense.

Education contributor, Steve Perry, has more in tonight's edition of "Perry's Principles".


ELI MOHONE, ARRESTED UNDER GEORGIA POLICY: I get to school and it was like a regular day. I went to reading and, I don't know, one of my friends told me is that yours? When I looked down, there was a knife on the ground and it was mine.

STEVE PERRY, CNN EDUCATION CONTRIBUTOR: Following school policy, Eli says he voluntarily turned his own knife in to school administration. What happened next is troubling.

AIMEE HENSLER, ELI MOHONE'S MOTHER: 8:34, I received a call saying, "Momma, the bag you gave me had a knife in it." It was a bag that he had taken fishing two weeks prior. And I didn't look in it because we were so rushed. And it had fallen out in school.

MOHONE: I had to sneak into the bathroom to call her because usually when they find something like this they send them to jail and the parents don't know about it.

PERRY: Eli Mohone, a middle schooler, a good kid, from a small town, who had never been in trouble with the law became a victim of Georgia's zero tolerance weapons policy.

HENSLER: I get a phone call at 2:00 -- it was right before 2:00 from the resource officer telling me that I could either bring my son in or they could come and get him. He was being charged with a felony for having a knife that was 2 1/2 inches on school property. It was basically like standing outside your body watching as it's going on.

I mean I never imagined seeing him handcuffed and put in the back of a police car.

PERRY: In one day, Eli went from first period to prison.

MOHONE: All the way out there, I was just crying, horrified.

HENSLER: Basically we taught him to lie instead of do the right thing. I mean that's what our system taught me. PERRY: Amy Hensler was told that her son would stay in prison from Thursday through the weekend. With no money to hire a lawyer, Amy contacted state's senator Emanuel Jones, a man she met briefly while waitressing at a local restaurant.

EMANUEL JONES, GEORGIA STATE SENATE: When I got a call from his mother, this kid was already in prison. I immediately called and started dialoguing with all of the state (INAUDIBLE). I mentioned I spoke with the principal at school who said this shouldn't have happened.

Immediately I started getting the sheriff department and I called -- eventually I ended up calling the DA.

PERRY: Originally created to protect students from violence inside school, the zero tolerance policy doesn't allow schools to make individual decisions based on context or intent.

JONES: When a kid is expelled, that's the action that the school takes. When a kid is arrested, it is based on the criminal code in the state of Georgia. Based on the criminal code, what is considered a weapon, anything over 2 1/2 inches is considered a weapon for a knife.

PERRY: So a fingernail file could be -- or a toe nail clipper.

JONES: That's correct.

PERRY: What was the reaction that you received from the community for your actions to support this young man?

JONES: Well, the legislation -- the reaction I got is very, very favorable from the community leaders, from teacher associations, from superintendents associations. School board members even called and said, senator, we need to change the law.

PERRY: Jones pre-filed legislation in November of 2009 to remove the zero from zero tolerance. The Georgia house and senate approved the bill. It awaits the governor's signature.

The new law gives more latitude to schools and the legal system. Although this amendment legislation won't help Eli, it will make sure other kids aren't unfairly punished for accidentally having a weapon in school.

JONES: I made a promise to Miss Hensler. I said I'm going to work with you. I'm going to make sure that this never, ever happens to another kid in the state of Georgia again.

PERRY: Thanks to Senator Jones, the system now rewards those who do what's right.


COOPER: So, Steve, what are this week's principles? PERRY: Well, we want to know how is it that we get kids to do the right thing. And the principle is that we have to give them the opportunity to learn from their mistakes. The problem here is that in Georgia we weren't giving children the opportunity to learn from their mistakes. We were, in fact, teaching them to lie.

COOPER: Were certain demographics affected more by the zero tolerance policy than others?

PERRY: Absolutely. Seventy percent of the suspensions in the state of Georgia are African-American males.

COOPER: Steve Perry. Appreciate it Steve. Thanks.

PERRY: Thank you.

Coming up, "Playboy" is rolling out a new Web site, one they call safe for work. So what exactly are they going to show? And will that really fly with your boss? More on that ahead.

And also Betty White has been on TV for more than 60 years. She knocked it out of the park on "Saturday Night Live" this weekend. We'll show you some of her performance, ahead.


COOPER: All right. Let's get a quick update on some of the other stories we're following. Joe Johns back with a "360 Bulletin" -- Joe.

JOHNS: Anderson, legendary singer, danger, actress and civil rights activist Lena Horne has died. She joined MGM studios in 1942, becoming the first African-American to sign a long-term movie contract with a major Hollywood studio. "Stormy Weather" became her signature song.

Lena Horne was 92.

Tim McGraw and Faith Hill, seen here with Anderson in Nashville last Thursday, are uniting with other country stars to assist the victims of the devastating floods that killed dozens in Kentucky, Mississippi, and Tennessee. The benefit will be held June 22 at Nashville's Bridgestone Arena.

And reading "Playboy" on your office computer without getting into trouble; how's that going to happen? The men's entertainment Web site is rolling out a work-friendly site that targets office workers who browse the Internet. It won't feature any nudity, though. And I wonder if they're going to edit out the raunchy jokes, Anderson?

COOPER: We'll see about that.

All right, Joe.

For tonight's "Shot," it got kind of raunchy this weekend. Betty White was on "Saturday Night Live," and she was amazing. She was really good. The whole -- actually, it was a great episode. I just want to show you some of the stuff she said in her monologue.


BETTY WHITE, ACTRESS: People say, "But Betty, Facebook is a great way to connect with old friends." Well, at my age if I want to connect with old friends, I need a Ouija board.

Needless to say, we didn't have Facebook when I was growing up. We had phone books. But you wouldn't waste an afternoon on it.

Yes, we had poking, but it wasn't something you did on a computer. It was something you did on a hay ride, under a blanket. Oh, sorry.


COOPER: She just gets better and better. She's got a great sense of timing.

Do you know that, according to IMDB, she first appeared on film in 1945?


COOPER: She's won six Emmys over a 65-year career in entertainment. So congratulations.

JOHNS: She's a legend.


JOHNS: Amazing.

COOPER: She seems like a really nice lady. I've never met her, but she seems great.

Hey that's it for 360. Thanks for watching.

"LARRY KING" starts right now.