Return to Transcripts main page
ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Posting Hate; Home Invasion Horror
Aired September 24, 2010 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Tonight: Can someone in a U.S. senator's office post a hate-filled death threat online and get away with it? It took amateurs just hours to trace the computer, so why is it taking folks in Congress days to find the computer user? We're "Keeping Them Honest."
Also tonight, a congressional candidate comes out with an over- the-top political ad about the proposed Islamic center near Ground Zero, using the term Muslim and terrorist interchangeably. Is she using Ground Zero to boost a trailing campaign? We are going to ask her tonight.
And the shocking new revelations in that Connecticut home invasion horror, family held hostage and assaulted and killed, all the while the alleged murderers were texting each other, talking about champing at the bit to do the crime. Tonight, you will see their texts and hear what happened in court today.
We begin, though, tonight "Keeping Them Honest" as we always do, with an Internet slur and death threat sent from the office of a U.S. senator. Our question tonight: Why is it taking so long to figure out who sent it?
The senator is Saxby Chambliss, Republican of Georgia. And his staff admits the threat came from someone in his office. His office condemns it and promises to hold the guilty party accountable. But it's been nearly four days since the threatening blog posting was made, four days. It took just a few hours to trace it to a computer at the senator's Atlanta-area office.
Now, only a limited number of people have access to that office and its computers, yet, so far, the senator and his staff remain silent on who was there and who the culprit likely was. They have turned the investigation over to others and are refusing to make any more comments.
Now, the posting was made on the day Senator Chambliss was voting on the military's don't ask, don't tell policy. Here's what the Internet posting said. It said, "All F...ts" -- we're not actually using the word -- you can figure it out for yourself -- "must die."
The name of the poster was Jimmy. Now, it was posted on a gay- oriented Web site called Joe.My.God. Now, you might say it takes a lot of time to track something like this, right? But the truth is, it doesn't. In fact, the Web site owner, Joseph Jervis, quickly asked his computer-savvy readers to trace the message. I just want to take you over to the wall here to show you how they did it, because, frankly, I didn't even know this was possible. Now, in leaving that threat, the person in the senator's office probably didn't know that the Web site recorded the I.P. address of his or her computer.
It turns out every computer on the Web has an I.P. address. They're unique, and just about anyone can trace them, if you go to a Web site like this one and plug in the I.P. address.
Now, in this case the I.P. address -- it's right up here -- it's 1 -- it was 156332072. That's the I.P. address of the computer that sent that message. Then, if you go to a Web site like this, and you hit -- you can run a trace on it.
Now, you go down here, it gives you the location where the computer is. This is from the organization the United States Senate. Gives you the longitude and latitude here. It also tells you what city and state -- Atlanta, Georgia.
Now, up here, you can see the spot on a Google map. Now, if we zoom in, right here, that's the -- that's the -- the office building used by Senator Chambliss. Now, take a look at what it looks like at ground level. We sent a crew there tonight hoping to talk to someone or at least be able to see how many people are inside using computers.
But it was after hours, and no one was there. Earlier, we called Senator Chambliss' office to arrange an interview, but we were turned down. We asked for information on the Atlanta office and staffing. The senator's people declined.
Now, on Wednesday, they released this statement -- quote -- "We have engaged the Senate Sergeant at Arms Office in an internal review. There has not been a determination as to who posted the comment. That part of the review is ongoing and is now in the hands of the Senate Sergeant at Arms."
We tried to get ahold, by the way, of the Senate Sergeant at Arms to fill us in how they work, what they're looking at, and how long these things generally take. We got no comment on all of that, even though -- even on broad questions about other completed investigations.
So, the question tonight is, why didn't the senator's chief of staff simply handle this in-house? They know all the people. They know who had access to that particular computer. They knew who was out of the office or on vacation when the message was sent.
And why, nearly four days after the initial posting, has no culprit been identified?
Joining me now is Representative Jared Polis. In addition to being a Democratic congressman from Colorado, he is also tech-savvy. In college, he co-founded an Internet access provider and went on to launch two successful online commerce operations. Also joining us, R. Clarke Cooper, executive director of the Log Cabin Republicans, a group that focuses on reaching out to conservatives about issues affecting gay and lesbian Americans.
So, Representative Polis, If this happened in your office, and you knew the exact time the comment was created and from which computer, how difficult would it be to ferret out who was responsible?
REP. JARED POLIS (D), COLORADO: It's extremely easy.
First of all, according to the Congressional staff director, there's seven people in that office, seven suspects. Secondly, we know which computer it came from. All you need to do is look at the browser history. And if one of them erased their browser history, boom, you have figured out who it is. It couldn't be easier. If they can't figure it out, I will go down there myself and do it for them.
A. COOPER: Clarke, what about that? Seven people in an office, it sounds like it would be pretty easy.
R. CLARKE COOPER, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, LOG CABIN REPUBLICANS: Sure.
I don't think there's any disagreement that the bigoted staffer should be fired. I'm not a forensics or a criminal investigator. And so it could be just as easy as that. I have talked to friends of mine who do I.T. And they said, yes, the I.P. part is easy. What's not easy are the keystrokes, who actually had their fingerprints on the keyboard.
But the bigoted staffer should be fired. And, as far as keeping them honest...
A. COOPER: But there's -- but there's got to be a limited number of people who actually have...
R. COOPER: Oh, sure.
A. COOPER: ... who can actually use a computer.
R. COOPER: Sure.
A. COOPER: I mean, most of the people might be able to use a computer, but there's got to be a very...
R. COOPER: Yes. And congressional offices -- I'm sure Congressman Polis could attest to this -- they're not State Department or Defense computers, where you have to -- you're in a SCIF, and you have to log off when you go to the bathroom.
They're pretty open environments. In fact, you have a fleet of interns coming in and out. I'm not defending the delay. I'm not defending the bigoted staffer. But it sounds like that they're wanting to get to the bottom of it.
And why aren't we talking about the Witt ruling tonight? Why aren't we talking about -- we have talked about don't ask, don't tell. Keeping them honest, why isn't President Obama firing his Department of Justice attorneys who are equating homosexuality to all kinds of things, like incest?
I mean, so, if we want to talk about firing people, I would like to see some Justice attorneys let go from their jobs right now.
A. COOPER: Representative Polis, do you think Senator Chambliss...
POLIS: Look, you want to talk about -- do you want to talk about -- you want to talk about don't...
A. COOPER: Sorry. Go ahead.
POLIS: Yes. You want to talk about don't ask, don't tell, again, 96 percent of the Democrats in the Senate, everyone except for two, voted for it. Zero percent of the Republicans voted for repealing don't ask, don't tell, despite the fact that 75 percent of the American people support it, according to a recent "USA Today" poll, and it's in the interests of securing our country.
A. COOPER: Guys, I...
POLIS: Look, this is an easy one to figure out.
R. COOPER: Congressman, I agree with you on the 75 percent. We -- I use -- that's data I use...
A. COOPER: You know, guys, I agree both of these stories are important. And we have covered don't ask, don't tell an awful lot.
But a death threat was sent from the office of a United States senator.
R. COOPER: Right, which was a no-go. That shouldn't happen.
A. COOPER: And that's what we're asking you about.
So, Representative Polis, do you think Senator Chambliss's office did the appropriate thing in referring the matter to the Sergeant at Arms?
POLIS: Yes, it's a strange thing to do.
I asked my chief of staff, I asked a couple former chiefs of staff what -- what they would do in that situation. The Sergeant at Arms Office protects us. So, when we receive a death threat, they -- they investigate it, in conjunction with local police.
They're not a body that looks at the behavior of the people that work for us. That's a very unusual thing for them to do. I don't think they're equipped to do that. That's what your chief of staff and your own hierarchy is responsible for.
In this case, the senator and their hierarchy -- and, ultimately, the senator is responsible for the behavior of the people that work for them -- should find out who did it and fire them. And the trail goes -- grows colder with time. It shouldn't take more than a day or two to figure it out, ask who did it.
And you know what? If people are lying about it, then it needs to end at a higher level, because somebody is responsible.
A. COOPER: Clarke, Chambliss has a they poor record on gay issues. Do you think that's involved here at all?
R. COOPER: I don't.
I will say, we have had an open-door policy with his professional staff in Washington. I have never engaged with his staff in the district office in Atlanta. But I do agree with Congressman Polis on, the buck stops with the member, regardless of what party or if they're in the House or the Senate.
So, as far as the ultimate decision, it's not the Senate Sergeant of Arms. It's not the chief of staff. The ultimate decision to fire this bigoted staffer will come from Senator Chambliss. And -- and I presume he will do the right thing.
A. COOPER: Congressman Polis, I appreciate your time, Clarke Cooper as well. Thanks, guys.
R. COOPER: Thank you. Let's talk about don't ask, don't repeal, the court case. Come on.
POLIS: Thank you.
A. COOPER: Join the live chat right now at AC360.com.
Just ahead: See what happens when a question -- when I question a candidate about some of the facts in her new campaign ad.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RENEE ELLMERS (R), NORTH CAROLINA CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: I guess what I could ask you is, are you anti-religion? Are you anti- Christian in your thinking?
COOPER: That is -- that is like -- that's like the lowest response I have ever heard from a candidate, I have got to tell you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, we will show you the ad and the interview in a moment.
Also tonight: another Democratic member of the Congressional Black Caucus caught giving scholarship money meant for needy kids to his relatives and the relatives of his staffers. He's suddenly more press-shy than Christine O'Donnell. We're demanding answers, "Keeping Them Honest."
We will be right back.
COOPER: Well, you will notice the public debate over the proposed Islamic center near Ground Zero has died down of late. It doesn't mean passions still aren't very strong on it.
But one candidate is hoping to keep the debate front and center. Her name is Renee Ellmers. And she's a Republican candidate for Congress, not in New York, but in North Carolina. It hasn't stopped her, though, from making the proposed mosque a centerpiece of her campaign. She has a new commercial out this week about the mosque controversy.
And listen very carefully to the language she uses, basically interchanging the word Muslim and the word terrorist.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, RENEE ELLMERS CAMPAIGN AD)
NARRATOR: After the Muslims conquered Jerusalem and Cordoba Constantinople, they built victory mosques. And now they want to build a mosque by Ground Zero.
Where does Bob Etheridge stand? He won't say, won't speak out, won't take a stand.
ELLMERS: The terrorists haven't won. And we should tell them in plain English, no, there will never be a mosque at Ground Zero.
I'm Renee Ellmers. And I approve this add.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, a spokesman for her Democratic opponent, Congressman Bob Etheridge, who is mentioned there, says the congressman never thought building the mosque so close to Ground Zero is a good idea.
The spokesman also added -- quote -- "Mrs. Ellmers is desecrating this hallowed ground with her obvious and offensive attempt to raise her profile."
I spoke with Renee Ellmers a short time ago.
COOPER: Ms. Ellmers, in your ad, you use the term Muslim and the term terrorist basically interchangeably. You say Muslims want to build a mosque at Ground Zero, the terrorists haven't won, and we should tell them in plain English, no, there will never be a mosque at Ground Zero. You're essentially equating Muslims with terrorists.
ELLMERS: Well, to be honest, I think that you could make that assumption, but, you know, that's -- that's not giving me the benefit of the doubt.
COOPER: But that's what you're saying in your speech.
COOPER: I mean, that's -- your words are very carefully selected.
ELLMERS: The words are carefully selected, but that is certainly not what I'm intending to say. I am not intending to say that all Muslims are terrorists.
Basically, what I am saying, sir, is that there were terrorists who attacked us. They were Islamic jihadists. And, as a result of that, we have seen the devastation on 9/11. And we are still living with that. And those poor families...
COOPER: But the people who are building the mosque -- but the people who are building the Islamic center are not terrorists. And in your final sentence...
ELLMERS: Do you know that, sir? Do you know that, sir? Because, you know, we don't even know who is -- who is the donors to that.
COOPER: Do you believe that the imam behind this, the imam whose the front of this...
ELLMERS: We don't know that.
COOPER: You think he may be a terrorist?
ELLMERS: Well, I don't know -- I don't know that much about the imam. I don't think any of us know that much about the imam.
COOPER: Wait. Wait. Wait.
COOPER: Wait a minute.
ELLMERS: And that is where the uncertainty...
ELLMERS: That is where the uncertainty is.
COOPER: But -- but have you done any research about him? Because the State Department sends him out and has sent him out for years to...
ELLMERS: Yes, sir, he -- you are correct. And those are some of the concerns that we have. Our -- our district...
COOPER: Wait a minute.
COOPER: So, you believe...
ELLMERS: ... our district, which...
COOPER: You may -- you believe he may be a terrorist?
ELLMERS: Sir, I don't know what his intentions are. I do not know that.
And that is my point. I am standing up for the people of District 2 in North Carolina who say that they are very concerned with the moral decline in this country and where our leaders are bringing us.
ELLMERS: And the -- and the person that I am running against, Congressman Bob Etheridge, has not taking a -- taken a stand on this.
Now, we have...
COOPER: Well, actually, that's not true. I'm sorry. That's not true.
ELLMERS: Well, no. Well...
COOPER: His campaign says...
COOPER: Well, stop. His campaign says he doesn't believe this mosque should be built.
ELLMERS: But that wasn't until as -- that was as a response of this commercial that we're running against him. He was silent on it. We have run four blogs.
COOPER: OK. So, now are you going to -- but -- but wait. Now you -- now -- but you just said he's not taken a stand on it. You know he has taken a stand on it.
ELLMERS: He's not taking a stand on it. Making a comment coming from his campaign, he has not been -- been seen saying these things. That was actually a comment that came from one of his campaign staffers.
COOPER: All right.
You also talk about victory mosques that Muslims built hundreds of years ago on the site of military conquests.
ELLMERS: Yes, sir.
COOPER: But don't all -- don't all religions do that? I mean, you're Catholic. Rome was conquered from the pagans and their altars destroyed so the Vatican could be built.
Christian conquistadors and Pilgrims to America all destroyed local religions and built their own houses of worship. Is the Vatican a victory church?
ELLMERS: No, that is the...
COOPER: It's not?
ELLMERS: You are -- you are incorrect in your statement, sir. That is not what has happened.
COOPER: Wait. Wait. So, wait. Just about every religion -- when a religion in the past used to conquer in a war, they wouldn't build a house of worship; the Catholic Church didn't build houses of worship on -- on the sites of other religions?
ELLMERS: Now, we all know about religion. I'm a Christian.
COOPER: Well, yes or no. I know you're a -- right.
ELLMERS: I am Catholic. Yes, I am.
No, you -- you are wrong in your assumptions.
COOPER: Wait. Wait. Wait. I'm wrong...
ELLMERS: And, you know, I guess -- I guess what I could ask you is, are you anti-religion? Are you anti-Christian in your thinking?
COOPER: That is -- that is like -- that's like the lowest response I have ever heard from a candidate, I have got to tell you. ELLMERS: Really? Really?
COOPER: Ma'am, so, tell me about the...
ELLMERS: I -- I really don't think that is.
COOPER: ... the history of Rome. Rome was not conquered from some -- from another group?
ELLMERS: Well, Rome -- Rome was a pagan nation before it was a Christian nation.
COOPER: Right. Right.
ELLMERS: What -- why -- I'm -- I'm...
COOPER: It was conquered by the pagans.
ELLMERS: I'm losing -- I am losing your point.
And the fact of the matter is, is, we are getting way off of the subject matter. The subject matter is...
COOPER: No, I'm asking about your commercial. I'm -- I'm asking about the accuracy of your commercial. You say these are victory mosques. Couldn't the same thing be said about every -- just about every religious body?
ELLMERS: I have history -- I -- I have history to back me up.
We are talking about the possibility of a mosque being built on Ground Zero.
COOPER: Well, actually, no.
ELLMERS: We are not talking about another Christian religion coming in and building a church.
COOPER: Right. As you -- actually, ma'am...
ELLMERS: In fact, if anything, there's a Greek Orthodox church that was destroyed at -- at that site that still hasn't been rebuilt.
COOPER: OK. You actually do know...
ELLMERS: We're not discussing that either.
COOPER: Again, you do know it's not on Ground Zero. It's two blocks away from Ground Zero. It's actually not just a mosque. It's an Islamic center. And it's actually being built on a Burlington Coat Factory. So, just for accuracy's sake, I just...
ELLMERS: Well, it was -- it was a Burlington Coat Factory. Yes, sir, I realize that. And I realize that it's two blocks from it.
ELLMERS: But we're talking about hallowed ground.
Is there -- is there a line of demarcation that indicates to us where some victims may have died and some may have not, and debris from that -- that terrible, awful disaster...
ELLMERS: ... that -- that -- that happened?
ELLMERS: We're all Americans. This is an American issue. And the people of District 2 in North Carolina are very concerned about it.
COOPER: Well, I appreciate...
ELLMERS: And that's why I'm speaking out on it.
COOPER: You also say on your Web site -- and I quote -- that the "Obama administration has been spending foreign aid money to build mosques in Muslim nations."
You -- you do know that's something, that that started under George Bush in 2001, and you do know that it's not...
ELLMERS: And -- that's fine. That -- that is -- that is fine.
COOPER: Right. And just for accuracy's -- and just for accuracy's sake -- because you don't mention this on your Web site -- this is actually outreach by the State Department to restore historic sites, including some mosques, but it also restores Christian sites and Buddhist sites.
And, actually, the mosques are of -- of a fraction of the overall spending. That's correct, right?
ELLMERS: Well, I'm not trying to make justifications for what they're spending it on.
COOPER: No, no, I mean, no, you brought this up, as if...
ELLMERS: The fact of the matter is, our -- our State Department is spending money building mosques around the world.
And we are at war right now in Afghanistan and Iraq, and there are radical Muslims who really want to do harm to us.
COOPER: Right. Do you know who...
ELLMERS: That is what the issue is.
COOPER: Do you know who...
ELLMERS: Now, we are not fighting radical Christians. We are fighting radical Muslims.
ELLMERS: And, as long as there are Americans who are dying, this is an issue.
COOPER: Do you know who we're supporting in -- in the war in Afghanistan? Do you know what government we're actually propping up? It's a Muslim government; you're aware of that?
ELLMERS: That is absolutely correct. And that is why it is so important that we do these things, for that very reason. You know, the...
COOPER: That we do what things? That we -- that we build mosques and support cultural ideas in other countries?
ELLMERS: That we help -- that we help those -- that we help those people around the world who are peaceful people.
COOPER: Your opponent's campaign says that, not only is your opponent against building the Islamic center, but they told Politico.com -- and I want you to be able to respond to their criticism -- they say: "Mrs. Ellmers is desecrating this hallowed ground with her obvious and offensive attempt to raise her profile. No further proof is needed that she will say anything to get elected."
ELLMERS: Well, there you go. When you don't have anything else to say and you don't have anything to stand on because of your voting record, you are going to lash out like that.
You know, calling us names and saying that we're terrible, awful people for -- for our way of thinking, all we're doing is reflecting what we have seen in the district and who -- and the people that I have talked with who are so concerned with where our country is going.
I am not running for a popularity contest in New York or D.C. or on television. I am running for the people of District 2, North Carolina, who are good, hardworking, Christian people, who just want to turn this country around.
COOPER: What about Muslims? Do you -- do you want their vote?
ELLMERS: Well, absolutely. I want everyone's vote. As a nurse, I have taken care of every race, creed, color, religion, everything. That's what I was trained to do, and to respect their traditions. And I will continue to do that as a congresswoman in Washington.
COOPER: Renee Ellmers, I appreciate your time. Thank you.
ELLMERS: Well, thank you. (END VIDEOTAPE)
COOPER: Well, I must say I have never had a candidate suggest I'm anti-religion because I question them about their religious claims in a commercial.
For the record, I'm not taking a position on whether this Islamic center should be built or not. I'm not taking a position for or against Ms. Ellmers. That's not my job. My job is to get facts and to point out factually incorrect statements.
So, after that interview, I wondered, was I completely wrong about the history of religious conquests hundreds of years ago? I can't believe we're debating this.
But we decided to invite in best-selling author Bruce Feiler, whose books include "America's Prophet" and "Walking the Bible," which was on the "New York Times" bestseller list for a year-and-a-half.
So, Bruce, you're a religious scholar. You have actually been to all the sites...
BRUCE FEILER, AUTHOR, "WALKING THE BIBLE": Yes.
COOPER: In Ms. Ellmers's ads. Are they victory mosques?
FEILER: Well, I have to say, as someone who writes about and has written four books about religion, this is the first time I can think that the history of religion has been brought into a campaign ad to begin with.
And like a lot of this hate-mongering, Anderson, there is a kernel of truth to it. And, as you said, when Muslims got to Jerusalem and to Cordoba and then to Constantinople, they, in fact, did build mosques.
I have never, in 15 years in writing about this, heard them called victory mosques. There's nothing in there to indicate any of that. But, as you have said, this is completely consistent with the history of religion. When King David conquered Jerusalem, his son, King Solomon, built the temple.
And then when -- as you also said, when Rome became Christian, they built -- they built Saint Peter's, one of the great churches ever built.
So, this is a completely consistent thing in history. And, more to the point, and kind of lost in this whole conversation, I think, is, there are 600,000 Muslims who live in and around New York City. And, in fact, there have been -- there are mosques in this area. There in fact was a Muslim prayer room in the World Trade Centers, to her reference about -- about the -- about the Trade Centers, so that the point is, it just is unusual and, frankly, a little frightening that a political candidate in North Carolina or my hometown of Savannah is going to comment on where Muslims in New York City can worship or not. COOPER: Well, is -- so, if -- if -- I mean, if you call a mosque a victory mosque, then, would you -- by that logic, would -- could you call the Vatican a victory church...
COOPER: ... or Saint Peter's a victory church, I mean, if you're going down that road?
FEILER: If you want to use that language. I don't think it's constructive language. And, as you rightly said also, when the -- when the Pilgrims got to Plymouth, the first thing they built, in fact, was a church.
But I think that we need to step back here and ask, why is that, several months into this, we are still talking about it? Part of it is sensitivity to 9/11. We just saw President Ahmadinejad yesterday suggest it might be an American plot. And the Americans and other people, rightly, walked out of the chamber, and President Obama denounced it today.
But I think there's a deeper question in America. And that is, is somehow what's going on with Muslims different? Are they going to be welcomed into this country, or do we need to treat them differently?
You mentioned "America's Prophet," a book I wrote about the role of the Bible in American history, which is just out this week. there's a chapter in there on George Whitefield. He's essentially the founder of evangelical Christianity.
And, in the 18th century, there were assassination attempts. Trash was thrown on him. He was kicked out of churches, pushed to the ends of the city. Yet, for what? For saying we should read the Bible directly and we should have a direct relationship with God.
So, this happened to evangelicals in the 18th century. They became mainstream, as we -- we see today. To Catholics in the 19th century, to Jews in the 20th century. What's going on with Muslims today is the same process.
And for people who think it's different today, in almost every way, it's very similar. And in the lifetimes of almost everybody watching us tonight, we have seen a wholesale relation of how Jews and Christians have related to one another. And that's going to happen with Muslims.
It's going to be messy. This is what coexistence is about. But there is every reason to believe that this is part of a larger narrative of Muslims being accepted in America.
COOPER: Bruce Feiler, appreciate your perspective. Thanks very much.
FEILER: My pleasure. COOPER: Up next: another congressman accused of taking donated money, perhaps -- well -- well, money from the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, and putting it in the pockets of their relatives. We have got the details.
Also, two murder suspects, can you believe, according to police, one -- one was talking about wanting a margarita before their alleged home invasion that ended in a triple homicide? We have got the shocking text messages between these two and the latest from a courtroom insider coming up in "Crime & Punishment."
COOPER: Well, a few weeks ago, you may remember we brought you a Democratic congresswoman, a member of the Congressional Black Caucus, from Texas who was caught giving scholarship money meant for needy kids to her own relatives and the relatives of her staffers.
Well, guess what? "Keeping Them Honest," it turns out another member of the Congressional Black Caucus was doing the same thing. Take a look. This is Georgia Democratic Congressman Sanford Bishop. He reportedly gave not one, not two, but seven scholarships to his stepdaughter and his wife's niece between 2003 and 2005.
According to various reports, when he was caught, Bishop repaid the CBC Foundation $6,350 to cover the cost of those scholarships. Well, now the Associated Press says four more questionable scholarships awarded by Bishop have surfaced.
The AP reports scholarship money went to a woman who worked for his wife, who is the Columbus, Georgia, Municipal Court clerk. That woman is now married to a staffer of the congressman. Two other students who got money were children of people who reportedly worked with Bishop's wife.
And another money winner was reportedly the niece of a staffer. They're not quite as bad as that Texas congresswoman, Eddie Bernice Johnson. "The Dallas Morning News" discovered she gave out 23 scholarships over five years to relatives and people who had connections to her staff.
Her explanation? Well, she claims she didn't know the rules of the scholarships and claimed she didn't know it was unethical to give charity money meant for needy kids to her family.
Here's what she told me.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. EDDIE BERNICE JOHNSON (D), TEXAS: I was not aware of the rules. The rules have been very ambiguous. There were some rules that had come out last year.
But, you know, I have acknowledged I made a mistake. I have tried to make everything whole. I have paid all the money out of my personal funds, and I'm ready to move on. COOPER: You say the rules were ambiguous prior to last year and that you didn't know what the rules were -- were.
We found the 2008 scholarship application. And, on it, it says -- quote -- "Employees and/or relatives of CBC members, CBC spouses, the CBC Foundation, the board of directors are ineligible for the scholarship program."
We also went back and found the 2006 guidelines from four years ago, and it says the exact same thing."Employees and/or relatives of CBC members, CBC spouses, CBC Foundation, board of directors are ineligible for the scholarship program."
That seems not ambiguous.
JOHNSON: I didn't realize they were even in print, as I indicated. I -- I don't have any reason not to tell the truth. I did not know they were in print.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Even if you hadn't seen the rules in print of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, most of us, I think, would know that it's not right to award your family instead of needy kids.
Congressman Bishop has refused to talk about the money he gave, though he claims the awards met the CBC rules. We'd certainly like to ask him how that is possible, but he refuses to comment.
The attorney for the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, which oversees these scholarships, they released a statement. It says in part, quote, "The scholarship fund was established to benefit disadvantaged needy students. It was always presumed that each member office local selection committee was genuinely concerned with providing opportunity and assistance to deserving young people in the congressional district, not family members."
We'll continue to follow this, because the more we scratch away at this, the more this whole thing stinks.
Plenty of other stories we're following right now. Randi Kaye has the "360 Bulletin" -- Randi.
RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, plenty to tell you about tonight.
President Obama is slamming Iranian leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for telling the U.N. General Assembly the U.S. was somehow behind the 9/11 attacks. The president tells BBC Persian the comments were offensive and hateful, particularly since Ahmadinejad made those claims so close to Ground Zero.
Meanwhile, Ahmadinejad met today in New York with Sarah Shourd, one of three American hikers facing charges of spying in Iran. Shourd was allowed to leave Iran on bail, but her fiance and a friend still remain in custody. Shourd called it a, quote, "good meeting," but no other details were given.
A judge is ordering the Air Force Reserve to reinstate a major booted out because of the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy. Margaret Witt sued after being discharged because of her relationship with another woman. The judge says her right to due process was violated.
And late word tonight, actress Lindsay Lohan, who was ordered back to jail today after a failing drug test, will now be allowed to post bail. It won't be cheap, though. The judge is setting that bail at $300,000, and Anderson, she must agree to wear an alcohol detection device, as well. So the saga continues.
Up next -- all right, Randi -- the latest on the deadly home invasion trial in Connecticut. Eerie text messages allegedly sent between the suspects just hours before that home invasion attack on the family.
And a CNN investigation. What did Pope Benedict know about the sex abuse scandal in the Catholic Church when he was still Cardinal Ratzinger and at the time, head of a powerful office at the Vatican? Part of our special report, coming up.
COOPER: "Crime & Punishment" tonight, just a bizarre twist today in the deadly home-invasion trial in Connecticut. Steven Hayes is on trial, one of two men accused of murdering Jennifer Hawke-Petit and her two daughters in 2007.
A lawyer for the second suspect, a guy named Joshua Komisarjevsky, who's going to be tried separately, later on, held a news conference to correct what he called a misimpression of the Petit family. He said that the youngest daughter had not been raped but was sexually assaulted. We'll have more on that in a moment.
You'll recall the chilling video of Jennifer Hawke-Petit withdrawing $15,000 from a bank at the demand of her captors just before her murder. Police have testified that Hayes took her to the bank while his accused accomplice held her family hostage. Hawke- Petit hoped the money would buy her freedom. It was not to be.
Yesterday authorities released surveillance video from a gas station where one of the suspects allegedly purchased $10 worth of gas that would be used to burn down the Petits' home. When she got back from withdrawing money from the bank, Jennifer Hawke-Petit was sexually assaulted and strangled. Her daughters were tied to beds and died in the fire that was then set.
Dr. William Petit was seriously injured but survived the attack.
Now, there's also been testimony from police about cell-phone text messages that the suspects allegedly sent each other just a few hours before the home invasion. Take a look.
At 7:45 p.m., Hayes texted, "I'm champing at the bit to get started. Need a margarita soon." 8:45, Hayes says, "We still on?
One minute later, Komisarjevsky says, "Yes."
At 8:48, just three minutes later, Hayes says, "Soon?"
8:51 Komisarjevsky says, "I'm putting the kid to bed. Hold your horses."
9:20 Hayes says, "Dude, the horses want to get loose LOL," text speak for laugh out loud.
Sunny Hostin was in the courtroom today. She's a legal contributor for "In Session," our sister network, TruTV.
This -- I mean, this case has really struck a chord. I mean, everyone wants to feel safe in their home. To think these people would be in somebody's home like this. What is it like sitting in the courtroom every single day and just hearing this stuff? It is -- we're not giving the most gruesome details, because it's just frankly sickening.
SUNNY HOSTIN, LEGAL CONTRIBUTOR, TRUTV'S "IN SESSION": It really has been difficult. I've tried child sex crimes, and I've sat in on many, many, many, dozens of cases. And it has even been difficult for me.
The feeling in the courtroom, the tension, it's palpable. And I was seated today directly across from the Petit family, directly across from the Hawke family. And some of the testimony today brought them to tears. It really has been a very difficult time.
And I have to tell you, Anderson, every day I think the prosecution is almost over here, this is going to be an easier day for this family, and it has gotten worse and worse and worse.
COOPER: You look at these pictures of the Petits, who you know, are no longer living, the mom and two daughters.
So this attorney for the other guy comes out today. I can't believe -- I mean, he comes out saying basically, my client is being mischaracterized. And again, I don't want to go into the details even of what he said, because it's so disturbing, but he essentially says what his client allegedly did to this little girl, 11-year-old girl wasn't quite as bad. But what he described him as doing is horrific.
HOSTIN: It was horrific. And you're right. We can't even talk about it, really, on air because it was so graphic. And I was shocked. When I heard it, my jaw dropped. We were outside of the courthouse.
COOPER: Does he think that's going to help?
HOSTIN: He said he offered that piece of information for solace, to give the family some solace. And I will say that the Petits then, at the end of today's hearing also gave sort of a press conference, and said they were outraged, outraged. And they reminded everyone that there's a gag order in this case and that that attorney broke that gag order and perhaps could be found in contempt.
COOPER: Do we know -- we're seeing the video now of Mrs. Petit at the bank, withdrawing the $15,000. Her family is being held hostage at home. Do we know the timeline? How long were these people allegedly in the house? Because those text messages were sent at night. Obviously, this bank must have been during the morning.
HOSTIN: Yes. Well, what's most disturbing about this is they broke into the home about 3 a.m. in the morning. And the fire was set about 9:40 a.m., so they were there for over six hours, terrorizing this family, beating Dr. Petit, you know, allegedly raping both Mrs. Hawke-Petit and 11-year-old Michaela Petit and setting the house on fire.
This was a crime of just -- it was an atrocious, heinous crime. And that's why it's a death penalty case, because of that.
COOPER: And the kids, we believe, died of smoke inhalation.
HOSTIN: Well, I will say today a fire investigator testified. And he testified about pour pattern and about the fact that an accelerant was used that consumed the home in flames.
And he testified, Anderson, that there was gasoline poured around the beds and also on top of the girls. And I think when people heard that today it really, really struck a chord in the courtroom. I mean, I was in the press section, and there were reporters gasping. And Mr. Petit -- Dr. Petit's sister was brought to tears. I mean, it really has been just horrific.
COOPER: Monday court is closed. Tuesday the defense plans to present evidence. Do we know where they're going?
HOSTIN: I have no idea. And we were actually shocked when the judge said that the defense plans to put on a case on Tuesday, starting Tuesday. I can only imagine that the defense will be "My client is bad, but the other guy is worse." That's all I think...
COOPER: So this guy Hayes is basically going to say he wasn't the brains behind the whole operation?
HOSTIN: That's all they can do, I would think. I mean, I don't really think this is a question of whether or not he's guilty. I really think it's a question of whether or not he'll be put to death.
COOPER: Sunny, I appreciate it. Can't imagine what it's like covering this every day, but I really appreciate you telling us what you saw today.
Up next, more legal trouble for mega church pastor Eddie Long. We talked about him last night. Last night, he was accused by three young men into having sex with him. Now there's a fourth. He denies all the charges. Tonight, he's facing yet another, fourth lawsuit. Plus, what Pope Benedict knew when he was a cardinal about a priest who molested boys. What could he -- what could he have done about it but chose not to do? A preview of a special investigation by 360's Gary Tuchman coming up.
COOPER: This weekend our Gary Tuchman has a remarkable investigation airing into the Catholic Church sex abuse scandal and, in particular, what then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who's now the pope, obviously, knew about it. I want to show you just some of what Gary uncovered about one particular priest who was convicted of molestation, put in jail, but even so, Cardinal Ratzinger refused to allow him to be defrocked. Here's why.
GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: In 1989, Bishop Daniel Ryan drove about 45 minutes north of his diocese office in Springfield, Illinois, to the town of Lincoln. He came here to Lincoln to visit one of his priests, a priest who was living here in a prison.
(voice-over) In 1985, Father Alvin Campbell pleaded guilty to multiple charges of sexual assault on boys as young as 11 years old. He was sentenced to 14 years in prison.
Matt McCormick was one of the children Campbell abused.
MATT MCCORMICK, ABUSED BY PRIEST: I don't come by the school, and I don't come by the church.
TUCHMAN: Starting in seventh grade, Campbell molested McCormick in the church's school, the rectory, and even here.
(on camera) This is the confessional you were in?
MCCORMICK: This is the confessional, and he would sit there.
TUCHMAN (voice-over): Campbell was sent to prison, but he was still a priest. That's why Bishop Ryan had come to visit him, to try to convince him to voluntarily leave the priesthood. Campbell refused.
So Ryan turned to Rome for help. He sent copies of Campbell's indictments, spelling out in graphic detail what Campbell had done to his victims and asking Joseph Ratzinger to defrock him.
Ratzinger's answer? No. "The petition in question cannot be admitted in as much as it lacks the request of Father Campbell himself, which is called for by the current norms."
(on camera) Incredibly, what Cardinal Ratzinger was saying was that he could not agree to defrock a priest, even a convicted child molester, without that priest's permission.
(voice-over) Monsignor Charles Scicluna, the Vatican's prosecutor, worked with the pope for years on sex abuse cases. When he sat down with me at the Vatican, it was his first-ever television interview on the pope's record.
(on camera) Monsignor, do you see, though, how it sounds so ridiculous: "Under our canon law, unless he requests it, we can't defrock him."
MSGR. CHARLES SCICLUNA, CONGREGATION FOR THE DOCTRINE OF THE FAITH: It would sound ridiculous if you forget the next paragraph that says there is a way of reducing him to the lay state, and it is by church trial.
TUCHMAN (voice-over): Ratzinger's letter does say the bishop can avoid responsibility for keeping Campbell by putting him through a church trial. But again, that would take years. And Campbell had already been convicted in a criminal trial.
Scicluna admits the process needed changing.
SCICLUNA: I think that these cases, certainly, thought Cardinal Ratzinger, his collaborators, that something needed to be done. And something has been done. Today canon law has a different scenario, that this thing would not happen under today's canon law. And that is also the merit of Cardinal Ratzinger, who is Pope Benedict XVI today.
TUCHMAN: Campbell would finally be defrocked three years later, after he eventually agreed to request it himself.
After bouts with depression, alcohol and drugs, McCormick today is happily married with a daughter.
BETH MCCORMICK, WIFE: Give Mom a kiss.
TUCHMAN: And a wife who gave up on the church.
B. MCCORMICK: We've both converted to Lutheranism because of this. I personally -- I don't have faith in the Catholic Church whatsoever. At all.
COOPER: So Gary, has the pope ever personally apologized for what he knew back then?
TUCHMAN: The pope has apologized on behalf of the church, and that's significant. He's the first pontiff to ever do so. But he's never personally apologized.
As a matter of fact, he's never said he knows anything about what happened in the past. But the documents that we have, Anderson, indicate the Holy Father knew quite a bit.
COOPER: And why are you doing this report now? It's airing tomorrow. What's significant about the timing?
TUCHMAN: There's two reasons. No. 1, one of the victims in this hour documentary has actually sued the pope, and that's the first time that's happened.
Secondly, these documents. We just got these documents a short time ago. They were in secret Vatican safes, literally, for 30 years. They were subpoenaed. We got them. And that's what shows the proof.
COOPER: Gary Tuchman, it looks like a fascinating report on what the pope knew about the sexual abuse crisis in the church. This Saturday and Sunday, 8 p.m. Eastern here on CNN. Don't forget to watch for it this weekend.
Up next, new allegations against that mega pastor, Eddie long. A fourth man has now come forward, saying that Long also coerced him into sex when he was a teenager. The pastor, who has also been well known for his opposition to same-sex marriage and homosexuality, has denied all the allegations. We'll have the details ahead.
Also tonight, the "Shot." Stephen Colbert making his truthiness or talking about truthiness, I guess, to Capitol Hill.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHEN COLBERT, HOST, COMEDY CENTRAL'S "COLBERT REPORT": If we can put a man on the moon, why can't we make the earth waist high? Come on! Where...
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Following a number of other stories right now. Let's check in with Randi Kaye and another "360 News & Business Bulletin" -- Randi.
KAYE: Anderson, let's start in Georgia. The news gets worse for Pastor Eddie Long. A fourth lawsuit has now been filed against him. This one alleges that Long, who is a bishop at a mega church in Atlanta, coerced a 17-year-old boy to have sex with him while on a trip to Africa back in 2005.
In a statement today, Long again denied the accusations. He will speak to his congregation about the lawsuits on Sunday, he says.
A brazen bank robbery near Miami. Police say robbers invaded a teller's home, strapped an explosive device to his body, took him to his bank branch, and forced him inside to demand money. The robbers got away with an undisclosed amount of money. The device was safely deactivated. The teller is being questioned by police.
A banner day on Wall Street today. The Dow shot up nearly 200 points, closing at 10,086 -- 860. Analysts say investors were cheered on by better-than-expected news on orders for durable goods.
And finally, Halloween is a little more than a month away. The National Retail Federation predicts Americans will spend nearly $6 billion on candy.
KAYE: Six billion dollars on candy, decorations and costumes for all the ghosts and goblins. Six billion dollars.
COOPER: And tens of millions more on dental bills later on.
KAYE: Yes. That's for sure.
COOPER: I should know. I know what I speak.
All right, Randi. Tonight's "Shot," comedian Stephen Colbert facing what is probably one of his tougher audiences. He was in Congress today. The host of "The Colbert Report" was an unlikely star in a House subcommittee hearing on the plight of migrant farm workers.
He stayed in character nearly the entire time. And his testimony had a bunch of folks laughing, but a lot of people also complain that it was nothing more than a stunt and it wasted the time of lawmakers at taxpayer expense. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COLBERT: As we've heard this morning, America's farms are presently far too dependent on immigrant labor to pick our fruits and vegetables. Now, the obvious answer is for all of to us stop eating fruits and vegetables. And if you look at the recent obesity statistics, you'll see many Americans have already started.
Unfortunately, my gastroenterologist, Dr. Eichler (ph), has informed me in no uncertain terms that they are a necessary source of roughage. As evidence, I would like to submit a video of my colonoscopy into the congressional record.
I started my work day with reconceived notions of migrant labor. But after working with these men and women, picking beans, packing corn for hours on end, side by side in the unforgiving sun, I have to say -- and I do mean this sincerely -- please don't make me do this again. It is really, really hard.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Yes. A lot of folks on the Capitol did not seem to be laughing.
KAYE: Yes, that was -- that was some strange testimony. But I guess he worked at this farm in August, picking corn and vegetables, so...
COOPER: Yes. For a TV bit. But he was actually invited by one of the members to speak.
We do have a second bonus "Shot" tonight. It's Friday, so why not? This is a "Shot." We found two kids dancing to Justin Bieber get upstaged by their dad. We found this on TodaysBigThing.com. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(MUSIC) (END VIDEO CLIP)
KAYE: Oh, my.
COOPER: Yes. For a while I wasn't sure if they even knew the dad was behind them there.
KAYE: I don't know if they even knew he was back there.
COOPER: Yes. I think the dad has seen too many old, like, Peter Allen routines. You know?
KAYE: He can move, though, man. Look at that.
COOPER: Yes. It's like the ghost of Peter Allen, standing behind those two kids. All right.
KAYE: And they just keep going.
COOPER: Yes. Well, what else are you going to do if your dad is doing that? Can you imagine how embarrassed? I used to go to church with my dad, and he would sing. And I was, like, mortified to hear him sing.
Randi, hope you have a great weekend.
KAYE: You, too.
COOPER: And everyone else.
First up at the top of the hour, somebody in the -- in this senator's office sent a hate-filled death threat to a Web site. The message was quickly traced to a computer at the senator's office. So why is it taking so long to find out who sent it? We're "Keeping Them Honest."