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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Terror Plot Foiled; Interview With Dr. Phil
Aired October 29, 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: Thanks for watching, everyone.
Tonight: exclusive new information about the two packages at the center of today's terror scare. They were packing a truly devastating punch. We have just learned new information they were a lot more powerful than previously thought. The question right now is, are there more of them? The search is on for more than a dozen other suspicious parcels.
As I said, we're learning more this hour about the two discovered devices addressed to American targets, possibly by al Qaeda, much more powerful than we first thought -- new details about the bomb material, the global intelligence that went into stopping them, and what the senders might have been trying to pull off.
Also tonight, we're going to show you how the White House handled the crisis minute by minute from the inside.
And later, Dr. Phil fires back, not pulling any punches about Clint McCance, the Arkansas school official who posted vicious anti- gay slurs on his Facebook page about bullying victims. Mr. McCance resigned on this program last night, apologized, but wait until you hear what Dr. Phil thinks of that apology -- some very tough words from him tonight.
We begin, though, with the breaking news, new information only on 360 about that pair of bombs. And, according to our sources, we have just learned they were very powerful bombs. Authorities are right now searching for more than a dozen more packages that might also contain explosives.
It is a drama still unfolding as we speak. It all began with these chilling words.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I want to briefly update the American people on a credible terrorist threat against our country, and the actions that we're taking with our friends and our partners to respond to it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: A credible threat still ongoing.
The two packages containing powerful explosives were sent from Yemen addressed to synagogues in Chicago, now, one stopped, as you probably know, before it could be loaded onto a FedEx freighter jet in Dubai. The other was nabbed at a UPS depot in Great Britain.
More packages being sought for inspection. Authorities searched cargo planes in Newark, New Jersey, as well as Philadelphia. At New York's Kennedy Airport, this Emirates 777 got a fighter jet escort on approach, then, on the tarmac, a thorough examination, the response apparently prompted by a tip from Saudi intelligence, officials saying they suspect al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, the group behind the alleged underwear bomber's attempt to take down a U.S.-bound airliner just last Christmas.
Now, so, there's a lot to cover tonight.
We begin, though, with Nic Robertson and this new information he's just uncovered about the potential power of these bombs.
Nic, what have you learned?
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, we're learning from sources close to the investigation that the amount of explosives used here were multiple times more than the amounts used by the underpants bomber, or attempted to be used by the underpants bomber, when he tried to down that flight over Detroit on Christmas Day.
It is the same type of explosives, PETN. It is a white powder. It's very easy to transport. We also understand from this source that it appears as if this -- this device was designed to be detonated by a cell phone.
Just to give you an idea about PETN, about six grams of it fills the end of my pen. That's enough to blow a hole through an aircraft fuselage, not clear what the target was here. The underpants bomber had 80 grams of that explosives, about three ounces. We're being told now by sources close to the investigation that these devices had multiple times more than those 80 grams. That is enough to cause a very, very big explosion -- Anderson.
COOPER: The -- the pictures that we were just showing before the explosion pictures, which was a test of what -- the power of just a small amount of these explosives on a plane, we showed basically tone -- like a cartridge, it looked like, for a Xerox machine.
What -- what was that? That's basically the device that was found? Can you describe it, Nic?
ROBERTSON: As best we understand, there have been -- described as having wires come out of it. One of the devices was described as a printer. That was the one found in Dubai. The other found in Britain has been described as a toner cartridge for a printer that appeared to have a circuit board from a cell phone attached to it.
This cell phone apparently would have been used to trigger another small amount of explosives that would have then detonated the PETN. PETN is a kind of substance that you can put in your pocket and walk around with it. And that's what would make it so good for terrorists in this case to put in a package and send halfway around the world, because it's not going to be bumped and not -- and made to explode.
It's only going to explode when that cell phone receives a call, triggers the detonating explosives, triggers all that PETN.
COOPER: Apparently, it's not an explosive that can actually just be lit with a match. You actually need some sort of an agent or a detonation device.
I want to -- Nic, stay with us.
I want to bring in Jeanne Meserve to talk about the intelligence angle.
Jeanne, how did officials first learn about this plot?
JEANNE MESERVE, CNN HOMELAND SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, White House officials are saying they heard about it from the Saudis. The Saudis passed on intelligence that these packages were on their way from Yemen to these destinations in Chicago.
The Saudis even provided, sources say, the tracking numbers. That is why they were able to find them so quickly and -- and keep them from entering the U.S., the one in Dubai, and the other in the U.K. Now, the Saudis, of course, have their own issues with extremism in Yemen. They share a very long border. And, of course, al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula did try to stage an attack against the head of counterterrorism for Saudi Arabia. So, they have their own reasons for keeping a very close eye on that group.
Nothing definitive from the U.S. yet about whether AQAP is in fact the group responsible, but that is the strong suspicion at this point in time -- Anderson.
COOPER: OK, Jeanne, also stay with us. I want to bring in also national security contributor, former Bush Homeland Security Adviser Fran Townsend, also national security analyst Peter Bergen, and former FBI Assistant Director Tom Fuentes.
Fran, how possible is it -- I mean, how is it possible to ship an explosive through UPS or -- or FedEx? I would have thought anything going through those companies would be screened immediately.
FRANCES TOWNSEND, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CONTRIBUTOR: Well, and -- and that's the big vulnerability that this points out.
I mean, it's interesting. Anwar al-Awlaki, who is an American- born cleric in Yemen, understands...
COOPER: Who the U.S. tried to kill and... TOWNSEND: That's right.
COOPER: ... and closely missed killing him.
TOWNSEND: That's right, and who was behind -- who -- who was in communications with the Fort Hood shooter, the Christmas Day attempted bomber.
He has a very strong roll. He understands our vulnerabilities. And so you can imagine that he understands we're not doing 100 percent of cargo screening. And we -- we believe that the U.S. intelligence community, sources tell us, were worried about this, the shipping using cargo for explosives.
They were watching this before they got the tip from the Saudis. The tip from the Saudis comes in, and, as the president said in his statement, convinced them of the imminence of an attack, of the threat, which is the tracking numbers, which is why they focused on those two packages. And so they were looking at this. So...
COOPER: You would think, though, of...
COOPER: ... any place in the world, if you're going to have a screening machine, like, the FedEx office and the UPS office in Yemen would -- would...
TOWNSEND: Or Pakistan.
COOPER: Right -- or DHL office, would probably be a good place to put a screening machine.
TOWNSEND: No, and -- and they're going to have to explain this, and they're going to have to close that gap.
COOPER: Jeanne, is there a chance that -- that some of the suspect packages that are unaccounted for right now are already here in the U.S.?
I mean, we -- we say there's maybe 12 unaccounted-for packages. What does that actually mean? Are these known to be suspicious? Were these given also by the Saudis? What do we know?
MESERVE: No. What law enforcement sources tells me is that there is no intelligence about any other packages. They only had the intelligence on the two that have been found.
But out of an abundance of caution, they want to look at other things coming into the country from Yemen. They have found some that they knew were coming in. They have looked at them. They have not, to our knowledge, found anything that represents any kind of a threat. But they're going to continue to look at any packages they can find that come in from that country. And, so, I have been led to believe that we may see again what we saw today, that is, jets carrying cargo getting some special scrutiny as they try and track down packages from that country to see what they may contain.
COOPER: Nic, do we know if these devices that we're looking at right now, were they operational? I mean, could they have been detonated had they actually reached their -- their targets? Because,again, this is not something you can just -- I think it was Richard Reid who tried to light this stuff on fire. You can't do that.
You need -- and I think the -- the Christmas Day bomber, by my recollection, had a syringe filled with a solution that I think he was hoping would create a reaction to -- to cause an explosion. That didn't work out. Could these ones, do we know, have been detonated?
ROBERTSON: That's what the sources are telling us. These were viable devices, devices that could have gone off.
Again, you're right. We have had the -- there have been the failures in the past because they weren't able to detonate. But all the components were there. This is what the sources are telling us, all the components. The cell phone to trigger it, the additional amount of explosives that would have then triggered the main amount of explosives, it was all there, Anderson.
COOPER: And we're going to show you again just the -- the power even a small amount of these explosives can have on an airplane, some of the tests that have already been done.
Peter Bergen, it -- you know, one could look at this and say that -- that we're fighting a very -- a learning enemy. We're -- you know, that -- that Richard Reid tried to light this stuff with -- with matches that didn't work. The next guy tried to do it with a syringe with solution. And now we have something that has -- have detonators.
I mean, how smart is the -- the al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, this group in Yemen?
PETER BERGEN, CNN TERRORISM ANALYST: Well, so far, not smart enough, because it's actually a record of failure. They failed to kill the senior Saudi counterterrorism official that they first tried a PETN bomb on. They failed to bomb up 253. And it looks so far like they have failed with this plot.
They of course are a learning organization, as you say. And the bombmaker is still out there, which is quite worrisome. It's not so much the other devices that I'm concerned about which may be out there. It's the fact that this guy is going to continue doing this for the foreseeable future, unless he's captured or killed, and, clearly, he has some capabilities.
PETN, by the way, Anderson, is very rarely used by terrorists. It's a particularly -- and the fact that this guy is able to build bombs that can get on to planes without being detected speaks for itself. That's...
COOPER: Do we know if it's the manufacturer -- I mean, if it's the same person? I mean, a lot -- you know, people say some bombmakers have signatures. Do we know, is it the same person making all these different devices?
BERGEN: My intuition is that it is the same bombmaker. He may be training others.
Jane Harman was on earlier today, the congresswoman from California who is one of the committees that is briefed. And she actually mentioned that, in her briefings, they have identified this bombmaker as the same guy who did these other attempts. So, I think it's reasonable to assume that it is one person.
COOPER: Tom, is this -- possible that this was some sort of a dry run? I mean, what would argue against that is that this seemed to, you know, be operational, have a detonation, and could have worked. What do you make of it?
TOM FUENTES, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Yes, I agree, Anderson.
A dry run means you're just testing the system. And, in this case, if they actually sent that quantity of PETN with the intention of detonating it, that's not a dry run; that's an attack.
COOPER: And, Tom, do you think it's also the same bombmaker?
FUENTES: I don't know. I don't -- I don't -- we don't have enough details right now about the signature of how it was wired, what the components were.
COOPER: How complex are these devices, though?
FUENTES: Well, they don't have to be that complex. But, normally, what happens is that bombmakers are not chefs. They're not creative.
If you make your first bomb and -- and live to tell about it and have all your fingers and toes, you don't deviate from that recipe or methodology. And that's how these bomb schools can be identified down the road, because the students follow the exact same procedures to try to survive it, unless they're suicide bombers, and they want somebody else to die.
So, normally, the devices can be compared. But, in this case, you have one device in Dubai and one device in London. And the packages that have been checked in the U.S. have come back negative.
COOPER: All right, we're going to have a lot more about -- about this, what we know, and also what's going on in Yemen and how it could become a failed state, like -- like a Somalia, like Afghanistan back 10, 11 years ago.
Everybody, stick around.
When we come back, we will take you also inside the White House from the moment they learned of the plot. We will talk to Ed Henry.
Let us know what you think. The live chat is up and running at AC360.com.
And, later, Dr. Phil McGraw, he joins us, not mincing words about what he thinks of Clint McCance's and resignation last night on this program, after posting those hate-filled messages on Facebook.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. PHIL MCGRAW, HOST, "DR. PHIL": You know, when he says, I -- I -- I enjoy the fact that they die from AIDS, I will only wear purple if -- if they all commit suicide, I mean, come on. You -- you don't say that and then come back on and say, well, I used strong words, and I have apologized for that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Still covering the breaking news, the search for more packages after authorities found two filled with explosives and electronics, operational, ready to go, and far more powerful than we had previously thought. They were addressed to synagogues in Chicago.
CNN, as we said, has learned some exclusive new information. The devices were many times more powerful than the bomb intended to take down Delta Flight 253 last year, and, as Tom Fuentes said a moment ago, not a dry run, an attempted attack, the packages originating in Yemen.
The White House saying they suspect al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. We got our first inkling of searches early this morning. And things went from the abundance-of-caution stage to credible threat when the president spoke this afternoon.
The president, though, actually learned of the threat, we're told, late last night.
Ed Henry has the inside account.
ED HENRY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It was a swift response, starting at 10:35 p.m. Thursday night, when the president's homeland security adviser, John Brennan, started briefing him about two suspicious packages bound for synagogues in Chicago.
At the president's direction, Brennan worked straight through the night, holding at least seven conference calls and meetings with no less than a dozen federal agencies, from 11:00 p.m. to 10:00 a.m. Brennan also dialed up officials from Britain, where one of the packages was found, and Yemen, where the packages originated and is the home base of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. In the afternoon, the White House released an official photo of the president being briefed by Brennan and others, and then sent Mr. Obama himself out to the cameras to reveal the most important detail of all.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: An initial examination of those packages has determined that they do apparently contain explosive material.
HENRY: The flurry of activity a sharp contrast to last December, during the president's vacation in Hawaii. On Christmas Day, underwear bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab tried to bring down a Northwest Airlines jet bound for Detroit.
Mr. Obama waited three days before publicly commenting on Abdulmutallab, who also had ties to al Qaeda from the Arabian Peninsula in Yemen. White House aides denied the swift response this time had anything to do with politics and trying to project strength just days before that big midterm election.
ROBERT GIBBS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I think that's largely put to rest any speculation that may be out there after the testing the president talked about that showed apparent explosives in those devices.
As John said, counterterrorism officials at all levels of our government quickly went into action in order to take the steps necessary to protect the American people.
HENRY: Instead, the motivating factor for all of the action, senior officials say, is the fact there may be up to 13 more suspicious packages still in the system, packages they're desperately trying to run down.
COOPER: Ed joins us now, along with Fran Townsend, Peter Bergen, Tom Fuentes, and Nic Robertson.
Ed, the targets of these packages, as we said, were Jewish synagogues in Chicago, obviously the president's hometown. He's supposed to travel there tomorrow, just days before the midterm elections. Do White House think this -- I mean, this plot was in way meant to send a message to the president?
HENRY: They say they have no direct evidence that there was, but, as I think Peter and others have been noting, these al Qaeda officials are fully aware of the political situation. They know where the president hails from. These could be signals they're sending. We just don't know for sure.
But I can tell you, from the White House standpoint, they say they're not going to give in and change any of their travel plans, because, in addition to traveling to Chicago, the president's also, in the morning, going to be in Philadelphia at a big rally. That was also one of the cities that had a high state of alert because of the packages heading there.
COOPER: Tom, UPS, FedEx, DHL all say they are suspending package delivery from Yemen. That would be obviously seem to be an obvious first step to do. What else can you do?
FUENTES: Well, you know, that's the first step for now, but how long do you keep that ban in effect? And do you essentially isolate Yemen from being able to send anything worldwide through the shipping process?
And I would like to add that the idea of mailing an explosive device is something we have seen in this country before. Back in the '90s, the FBI arrested Ted Kaczynski, the Unabomber, who handmade a number of explosive devices, packaged them, sent them by U.S. mail, and the recipients were killed or seriously wounded when they opened the package at their homes or offices. So -- so, we have seen the use of shipping, whether it's the Postal Service or these commercial shipping companies, to send devices in the past.
COOPER: Nic, the devices that we're looking at, you said they have got cell phones, so would somebody have had to call to actually detonate at a -- at a -- at a given time?
ROBERTSON: That appears to be the case, and it gives the bombers a chance until the package has arrived in a certain location or is being used by a certain person or at a certain time.
So, that -- that appears to be the intent here. It makes it quite sophisticated, because, obviously, whoever is going to trigger it doesn't actually need to be standing anywhere near it. So, what we saw with the underpants bomber, a suicide mission, this is al Qaeda, apparently, and this is not a suicide mission. Again, this is a little bit of a new step for them as well, Anderson.
COOPER: Fran, you have been to Yemen. It's clearly emerging as a major hot spot. I think Petraeus has been there numerous times. A number of U.S. officials, high-level U.S. officials, have been there. The government is cooperating, trying to attack insurgents in their own country, but they're not having much success with it, right?
TOWNSEND: No, that's right, Anderson. And this has been going on for the last eight years. I mean, when I was in the White House, I traveled there. John Brennan's been there four times in the last two years. And that's an indication of the seriousness that they take this threat from.
But this is also a country where their service had prisoners escape from a prison that was guarded at the time going back several years. And so their capability is spotty. In addition to that, they have political unrest. There's this al-Houthi tribe up in the north that the government is fighting. There are separatists in the south and bread riots. It's very poor.
And so it's a very unstable political situation in which you're trying to get President Saleh to focus on the problem we care the most about, which is terrorism.
COOPER: And Yemen is also where the USS Cole was bombed as well.
TOWNSEND: That's right. That's exactly right, in 2000, in October of 2000, and killing 17 U.S. sailors.
This has been an ongoing issue...
TOWNSEND: ... that multiple administrations have tried to address.
COOPER: Peter, how much -- I mean, Fran had mentioned this -- this cleric, this American. He's an American citizen who's really become the focus of a lot of attention, both among jihadists and also obviously U.S. officials, who are interested in killing him. What do we know about him, and how elusive is he?
BERGEN: Well, according to Mike Leiter, who is the head of the National Counterterrorism Center, he said in -- at a conference that Fran and I were at in Aspen that this guy had an operational role in the 253 attempt to bring down that flight over Detroit.
And that was kind of surprising, I think, to a lot of us, because we thought of this guy as more a clerical figure, somebody who was offering advice about suicide attacks to people like Major Nidal Hasan, but not somebody who was actually a hands-on operator.
And now he is the first American citizen where, apparently, essentially, he's been -- you know, there's a sanction to -- to target him for assassination, which is a very controversial thing in this -- in this country. It's one thing to have foreigners on, you know, assassination lists, but it's another thing to have an American citizen.
And, in fact, his father is filing a lawsuit with the ACLU to try and reverse this or get some more transparency on this. We will see if that has any success.
COOPER: Wait. His -- his -- the father of this cleric is suing the United States to not kill his son?
BERGEN: Yes. The ACLU is, I think, doing the lawsuit, and the father is involved with the ACLU to get the lawsuit moving forward.
COOPER: Tom, the -- the -- the plane, the Emirates plane today that was escorted by two fighter jets, does that make sense? I mean, is that for show, or is there real operational reason for doing that?
FUENTES: You know, frankly, Anderson, it makes no sense to me. I think, when you have suspicions about an aircraft coming into the largest city in the United States, and you think there might be something bad on that plane, make it land as soon as possible. Order it down in a remote area, and not let it land in New York City.
We had that case a couple months ago, where the individual made threats on an aircraft on a flight from Paris to Atlanta. That plane was landed in Bangor, Maine, immediately, to keep that from going any further in U.S. airspace and to get the passengers off of that flight as soon as possible for their own safety.
What those fighter jets could have done, I don't understand, and even, if they would have had to do the worst thing possible, which is actually shoot down the airliner, would you want that aircraft coming down on the citizens of New York City? So, to me, it makes no sense.
COOPER: We will leave it there.
Ed Henry, Peter Bergen, Tom Fuentes, Fran Townsend, Nic Robertson, all of you, thank you. Appreciate it.
Still ahead: Dr. Phil McGraw has some pretty harsh words for Clint McCance, who apologized last night on this program for his ugly words about gay kids who have killed themselves.
First, as we count down to Election Day, Joe Johns has a 360 "Raw Politics" roundup -- Joe.
JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, a Las Vegas TV station is banned from covering Sharron Angle's election night party on Tuesday as punishment.
Apparently, the Republican Senate candidate in Nevada got annoyed when a reporter for station KLAS tried to ask her questions today about national issues. Angle said, she will answer them when she's elected. She initially banned a second station as well, but that issue was resolved. All through her campaign, Angle has dodged reporters' questions.
In Delaware, a new poll shows Republican Senate candidate Christine O'Donnell gaining ground. The Monmouth University poll conducted this week shows O'Donnell only 10 points behind Democrat Chris Coons. Two weeks ago, Monmouth had her down by 15 points. Other polls, however, show her far behind Coons.
With reports that Bill Clinton and other Democrats may have encouraged Kendrick Meek to drop out of the Florida Senate race and endorse Charlie Crist, the independent, the message to many is that they fear Democratic losses will cost the party the Senate. As part of the deal, Crist was expected to vote with Democrats if elected. But Clinton denies asking Meek to drop out of the race.
The owner of an Ohio McDonald's has apologized to his employees for alleged voter intimidation. The Huffington Post reports that, in a notice to his workers, he said that, unless Republicans are elected Tuesday, raises and benefits may be cut. The owner called his action an error in judgment.
And final preparations are under way on the National Mall for tomorrow's Rally to Restore Sanity and the March to Keep Fear Alive. Those events will be hosted by Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert of Comedy Central and are expected to draw thousands of fans.
Quite a day tomorrow, we think, here in Washington, Anderson.
COOPER: It will be interesting to watch.
Next on 360: Dr. Phil McGraw weighing in on what Arkansas school official Clint McCance said exclusively on -- on -- on this program last night about his anti-gay rant on Facebook.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MCGRAW: I don't think he was even close to being sincere about this. This is the biggest non-apology -- non-apology apology I have heard.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Dr. Phil joins us in a moment to talk about Clint McCance, the Arkansas school-board official who shocked the nation when his anti-gay Facebook postings were made public, postings filled with slurs directed at gay kids who committed suicide.
Mr. McCance was under intense pressure after officials across Arkansas condemned what he said. He appeared exclusively on our program last night and announced he would be resigning his position as vice president of the local school board.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Are you going to resign from the school board?
CLINT MCCANCE, POSTED ANTI-GAY RANT ON FACEBOOK: I am going to resign from the school board. It is to -- to help my community, to help my school. I don't want them to receive bad press or have a distraction because of some ignorant comments that I made. If they decide later, you know, a year, five years, ten years from now to vote me back in, if my constituents want that, then I'll run again.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Mr. McCance's original Facebook rant was written, because he was apparently mad about a recent nationwide call by activists to wear the color purple in support of gay kids.
"Seriously," he wrote on Facebook, "they want me to wear purple because five queers committed suicide. The only way I'm wearing it for them is if they all commit suicide. I can't believe the people of this world have gotten this stupid." He went on to write, "It pisses me off that we make special purple fag day for them. I like that fags can't procreate. I like the fact that they often give each other AIDS and die." Mr. McCance reached out to us yesterday, saying he felt badly about what he'd written. Here's some more of what he said on the program last night.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MCCANCE: I used some really strong language that -- and it wasn't correct. And it was -- it was too emotional. I don't -- you know, I'm a -- I've got two children myself, and I love them dearly. I've got a wife I love dearly. You know, I don't agree with bullying in any shape, form or fashion. I don't agree with it for any children.
And you know, the words I used were unfortunate, and they're -- you know, I should have picked different ones. But it can't be taken back, and all I can do now is extend my apologies for my poor -- my poor speech.
COOPER: What do you feel like you're apologizing for exactly?
MCCANCE: It was over the top, Anderson. It was -- I just went too far with it. You know, I -- I don't really believe anyone should commit suicide. I don't feel that way.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, we heard from a lot of viewers today who felt Mr. McCance was sincere. We also heard from a lot of viewers who felt he was mainly sorry about getting caught but hadn't really changed his views.
A short time ago, I talked with Dr. Phil McGraw about what he thought about the apology and, as always, he didn't mince any words.
COOPER: Dr. Phil, do you think Clint McCance was genuine in his words and his words of contrition?
DR. PHIL MCGRAW, TALK SHOW HOST: Anderson, I don't think he was even close to being sincere about this. This is the biggest non- apology -- non-apology apology I've heard. He did not apologize for what he said. He didn't apologize for the message that this gives to children, to kids, to parents out there. What he apologized for was saying that suicide was the only out, and that he's sorry that he said that. I mean...
COOPER: He said the words he used were strong words. And he wasn't really talking about the meaning behind the words. He was just saying the words were perhaps too strong.
MCGRAW: What he could have stepped up and said that he was sorry that he sent this message. He was sorry that he used these slurs, these defamatory labels that these kids did not deserve that. These five kids or any other kids.
I mean, this went beyond just opinion. So it has to go to a very strong apology, if you're going to try to balance the process here.
You know, when he says, "I -- I enjoy the fact that they die from AIDS. I'll only wear purple if they all commit suicide," I mean, come on. You don't say that and then come back on and say, "Well, I used strong words, and I apologize for that."
COOPER: He clearly doesn't like gay people for whatever reasons or homosexuality. I think he alluded to religious beliefs. And obviously people are free to believe whatever they want to believe and speak however they want to speak.
You know, it was interesting, though. It doesn't seem any of his core beliefs have changed at all. It's just -- I mean, he certainly seems sorry that this thing has blown up to the degree that it has had, and he seems to kind of want to get it over with.
MCGRAW: Well, Anderson, I've not met this man, I'm glad to say, and I don't care to meet him, frankly.
But the truth is, when you -- so I can't diagnose him. But one of the things that we see in my profession is, when you're dealing with an antisocial personality, sociopaths or psychopaths, the only remorse that those type people ever feel is when they get caught. They're sorry that they got caught. They're sorry that they brought heat onto themselves.
Is he that personality or not? I don't know. But I certainly see his apology as suggesting that he's sorry that all of this came to light. He's sorry that somebody called him on it.
COOPER: There will still be people who don't like gay people, and have equal rights for gay people and, you know, no bullying.
MCGRAW: Well, I think there can be, but look, first off, let's take a look at what happened here. Because this isn't just somebody with a different opinion. This is somebody that went on the attack. This is somebody that says, "Look, if you want me to wear purple, then they all need to kill themselves." That is an aggressive -- that's not just having an opinion that differs. That's an attack mentality. That's going onto a public platform in an elected position and saying those hurtful, mean, ugly sort of things. That is ridiculous.
I'm wearing everything I own purple today to counterbalance what this guy is saying. And I do so, and I do so proudly. You cannot tell me that this guy doesn't know better than this.
And my concern is that, because this is getting so much attention -- and I think it needs to be -- but the down side of it is that gay, lesbian, transgender or questioning youth right now can say, "See? That's how they really feel." And we drive them further back from feeling comfortable with who they are and taking a position to own that and claim that. And that's the problem with this guy.
And as you know, it's -- it's -- I'll misquote it, but it's been said that all that's necessary for evil to prevail is for good men to do nothing. And that can happen. I mean, educators across the country need to step up and not just say they don't endorse this but say they do accept children from all walks of life, all sexual orientations. I mean, people need to be affirmative in saying what their position is so these children feel safe.
COOPER: Well, Dr. Phil had a lot more to say about why Clint McCance's apology fell short and the hurt that his Facebook posting is still causing families who lost kids to suicide. That's ahead.
And later, an update on the tragic death of Rutgers college student Tyler Clementi, who killed himself after two dorm mates streamed a video of him with another man in his dorm room. The two students charged in the case made more news today. We'll tell you why.
COOPER: Talking with Dr. Phil McGraw tonight about what Clint McCance said last night on our program. McCance told us he would resign as vice president of the local school board after posting anti- gay rants on his Facebook page. He also said that he felt terribly about what he'd written.
Now, a lot of people we heard from thought he was very sincere. A lot of other people, including Dr. Phil, disagreed and thought he hadn't changed his views at all.
Mr. McCance alluded to his religious beliefs in last night's interview. I asked Dr. Phil about that.
MCGRAW: I consider myself to be a Christian. I have a very personal relationship with Jesus Christ. And I see absolutely no conflict whatsoever between the God and religion that I know and accepting and embracing people from all different walks of life and orientations, including gay, lesbian, transgender and questioning youth.
I mean, are you kidding me? Are we saying that that's -- that's who our religion wants us to be, is judgmental and insensitive and attacking of other people?
If -- if you don't believe that it is the best position to take, then you can believe that. But you don't have to attack and send out these vile messages of hatred, wishing death upon people. Are you kidding? That's beyond any belief system, and I think anybody in this country could embrace.
COOPER: There were two things he said last night that a lot of people commented on that I want to play for our viewers, because it kind of goes to moving forward from here and maybe his mind frame moving forward from here.
Originally on his Facebook posting, he wrote about his own kids. He said, "I would disown my kids if they were gay. They will not be welcome in my home or in my vicinity. I will absolutely run them off. Of course, my kids will know better. My kids will have solid Christian beliefs. See it infects everyone."
I asked him about that last night. Here's what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Is that something you really believe, that if -- because that's something, also, a lot of people commented on, that if one of your kids felt they were gay, that you would run them off. Is that true?
MCCANCE: You know, I don't know what I would do yet. I am a -- you know, time will tell.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: It was an interesting reaction. I mean, clearly, he's very conflicted on this issue and has strong beliefs on it. But it's got to be disheartening for -- you know, for kids out there to hear, you know, from a parent that they might disown their own children.
MCGRAW: That's the problem. If kids look at this, and they generalize this to all adults, all school administrators or all parents, then this is going to push them further and further back, make -- set them up to feel shame and guilt and a disconnect.
And that's -- I'm sorry to hear him say that. I really am. I'm sorry for his children to hear him say that.
And I hope that parents that are watching us right now would sit down with their kids, whether they think that maybe they are or are not gay or lesbian, they would sit down with them and say, "Look, let's talk about this. Because I want you to know that, as my child, I love you unconditionally. I love you, no matter what you say, no matter what you do, and your friends are the same way."
Being gay or being lesbian is not a choice. I mean, that is simply an outdated mentality that is just not the case. And I think that parents need to apprise themselves of these things and have an affirmative conversation with their children so they know that home and family is a soft place to fall.
COOPER: I also -- you know, one of the things he had said on that Facebook page, sort of the language he used, using slurs, "fags" and "queers," words I would not even normally say but I'm only saying because I think they're very germane to this story and the specific language that he used. I asked him about the offensive language. Let's listen to what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Obviously, gay people have a right to live their lives without being bullied or without being attacked or called, you know, fag and queer. Moving forward, are you going to use those words in the future?
MCCANCE: That's in -- that's in the future. I would hope not. You know, I've -- I've learned a very valuable lesson over the last week, and No. 1 on the suicide issue. You know, my core beliefs don't change as far as, you know, my -- what I read in the Bible and what I read to be true.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: You know, a lot of viewers -- I got e-mails from a lot of viewers on this interview. And a lot of them said, "Look, he's not even willing to say he's not going to use those words moving forward."
MCGRAW: Well, here's the thing that bothers me so much about that, and that's what I mean. This isn't really an apology.
And I guess on the one hand, you have to give him credit for the fact that I think he's being honest about that. I don't think his core values have changed at all. And he said, you know, "I don't know. I've said it in the past." And so I guess he's saying, "I might do it in the future. We'll have to see."
What breaks my heart is you think about Asher and Seth and Tyler and others. And they're being bullied in death. I mean, they're being derogated in death. They're being defamed in death. I mean, it's not enough that their family has this pain visited on them, but think about these -- these young men and women have taken their own lives, and still it doesn't stop. Still, they're being put down and derogated even in death, and that is absurd.
And anybody that endorses that, and certainly anybody that endorses it in the name of Christianity is just misguided.
COOPER: Dr. Phil, appreciate your time. Thank you, sir.
MCGRAW: Anderson, thank you for doing this.
COOPER: David and Amy Truong could not agree more with Dr. Phil. Their son, Asher Brown, was 13 years old when he put a gun to his head, pulled the trigger after what his parents said was years of bullying. This just happened a couple weeks ago. Asher was found in the bottom of a bedroom closet.
He's one of the kids whom Mr. McCance was referring to when he used anti-gay slurs. They were on the program last night, reacting to Mr. McCance's statement. We checked in with them last night. Here's what Amy told us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AMY TRUONG, SON COMMITTED SUICIDE: One of the things that I would like to -- to mention in regard to the feeling that came from those words, he dehumanized our children. He made a point of disparaging them in death in the same way that they were hurt in life, and added insult to injury.
This has been one of the most horrific things anyone could possibly imagine, losing a child to this bullying and in this manner, them taking their own life.
And for someone who has no idea of the facts or anything related to these children's individual stories, to slander them further, and especially a school board member, this proves the culture that we, David and I, and the other families, are trying to change within the public school system, that this does not continue.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: David and Amy Truong.
Up next, an update to the story about Tyler Clementi, the Rutgers freshman who took his own life after the video was streamed of him online with another guy. The two students charged in the case made more news today. We'll tell you why.
Also, a jury giving its recommended sentence for the man convicted of killing a Florida couple after he and a group of men dressed as ninjas -- you see some of them there in the surveillance camera from the home -- invaded the couple's home.
COOPER: Let's get a quick look at some more headlines. Joe Johns is back with a "360 News & Business Bulletin" -- Joe.
JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, a Florida jury just took an -- over an hour to recommend a death sentence for Leonard Gonzalez Jr. a day after he was convicted for the execution-style murder of a Pensacola couple. Gonzalez led a group of masked men dressed as ninjas into the home. A judge will have the final word on his sentence December 9.
Two Rutgers University students accused of streaming video online of fellow freshman Tyler Clementi have an -- having an intimate encounter with another man have withdrawn from the school. That's according to "The Daily Record," a local newspaper. Clementi killed himself by jumping off the George Washington Bridge.
An Indonesian volcano erupted six times today, with one of the blasts sending people into the streets running for safe ground. This comes just days after an eruption killed 36 people. An official said those living within six miles of Mt. Merapi may have to be relocated.
And climbers tackling the world's largest peak may now surf the Internet, send e-mails and make computer phone and video calls instead of relying on expensive and spotty satellite service. A company has installed 3G antenna on Mt. Everest. It hasn't tested the services but they say it should work in theory. And as we know, 3G should work in theory.
COOPER: Yes. No dropped calls, I'm sure. Joe, tonight, should help everyone get into the Halloween spirit. Check out some of the ladies of TV who dressed up for the holiday. There was a them: basically, they're Lady Gaga or Snooki this year.
The first, our old buddy, Erica Hill, "The Early Show," former member of 360. She dressed up as Lady Gaga at the MTV Video Music Awards. She wore a meat dress, although apparently, Erica's was plastic. But we can't really see it up close in that photo. Wish we had a closer photo.
At "The Today Show," Meredith Vieira was also dressed up as Lady Gaga, performing "Bad Romance" with backup dancers. No beef dress for her.
Ellen DeGeneres dressed up as Snooki's hair-do. Very original.
And over at "Regis & Kelly," where they do Halloween as nobody else does, Kelly Ripa went full Snooki. The real Snooki is actually next to her on the end. Yes, Kelly looks amazing as Snooki.
And Regis Philbin looks like one of the guys from "Jersey Shore." We're not sure exactly which one he was trying to be, but maybe The Situation. I don't know. Or Frankie.
JOHNS: So what are you going to be, Anderson?
COOPER: You know, I'm going to take a nap. We're actually working Sunday night. We're doing election coverage.
JOHNS: Oh, that's right.
COOPER: So I don't think we're going to be wearing a lot of costumes, although you know, you never know with Blitzer. You never know what he's going to do.
JOHNS: It could happen. I'd love to see him dress up. That would be a lot of fun.
COOPER: Maybe I'll go as Blitzer this year.
Joe, have a -- have a great weekend, Joe. I'll see you next week.
A lot more at the top of the hour. Very serious stuff. New word about just how deadly powerful the two explosive packages were that triggered today's terror alert. We'll be right back.