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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Richard Holbrooke Dies; Keeping Them Honest: Tax Cut Deal
Aired December 13, 2010 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, HOST: Thanks, Larry. Thanks for watching everyone. Tonight breaking news, the death of America's top diplomatic troubleshooter. The remarkable career of Richard Holbrooke.
We'll talk to those who knew him well and Sanjay Gupta about what you know about the killer that cut him down and can strike just about anyone often without warning.
Also tonight, keeping them honest on the tax deal as lawmakers vote on the deal president Obama worked out with Republican leaders. How do the president's statements stand up to his campaign promises on taxes for the wealthy? We'll also look at how John McCain's thoughts on tax cuts for the wealthy seemed to have evolved.
And later, a picture-perfect honeymoon. A husband and wife go scuba diving in Australia, but something terrible happened underwater and only the husband returned alive. He served jail time in Australia for manslaughter. He's now back home in Alabama and on trial for murder. Did he do it? You can judge the evidence for yourself in tonight's "Crime and Punishment" report.
We begin though as always with breaking news. The death of Richard Holbrooke, America's special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, architect of the peace agreement that ended the Bosnian war and all-around troubleshooter.
President Obama tonight calling him one of the giants of foreign policy. Ambassador Holbrooke became ill on Friday in Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's office and died today in nearby George Washington University Hospital of a tear in a major artery leading from his heart. Surgery to fix it is not enough to save him.
He was 69 years old and the shock waves from his passing are traveling around the world as we speak. Joining us now "360" M.D. Sanjay Gupta, David Gergen and Paul Begala who worked with him and CNN's Jill Dougherty who covered his achievements and exploits, sometimes colorful, sometimes contentious never dull.
Paul, let's start with you. You knew Richard Holbrooke. You worked with him during the Clinton administration. What's his legacy?
PAUL BEGALA, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: What a towering figure, Anderson. As you said, he began his career in Vietnam where he worked then to try to bring peace to that war. In his career, in his life working to bring peace to Afghanistan, for the 40 years in between he seemed to be in the middle of every hot spot. A really towering figure.
It's kind of hard if you didn't know him to imagine. He was drawn into a business diplomacy that usually attracts bright, but sort of shy and retiring people and Dick was a larger than life figure in every sense of the word. I still haven't fully digested the shock of thinking about an American foreign policy without Richard Holbrooke.
COOPER: David, I know he was a friend of yours, not just a professional loss, but personal loss for you. He faced down Slobodan Milosevic and really brought peace to the Dayton Peace accords. What made him a good peace negotiator?
DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: He was very tough. President Obama said today at the State Department he was one tough son of a gun. That's right. He is a man if you were president and had to face somebody who was a criminal or one of the really bad guys out there, you'd call for Dick Holbrooke. That was especially true of the Clintons.
Bill and Hillary groomed him to be secretary of state. Some people thought he should have won the Nobel Peace prize for his work in Bosnia. Other people thought he should have been secretary of state. He never got there, but he was still willing to go out and do these really messy jobs.
COOPER: Thankless jobs.
GERGEN: Afghanistan, Pakistan, you were just saying before we went on air there was something in "The Washington Post" about his talking to a surgeon just before his last words, talking to a Pakistani surgeon and saying you've got to end this war in Afghanistan and that it was him.
He was -- I've never seen anybody who lived to be a diplomat. Everything else in life was waiting. He liked to be up on that wire really doing things for American foreign policy.
COOPER: Sanjay, I mean, this all happened suddenly. He had a promise I guess in the past. I guess he was in a meeting with Secretary Clinton and what exactly went wrong? A tear in the aorta, is that right?
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. I heard that he stood up and was able to walk out of the office, but what we now know somebody that has chest pain like that, you know you're going to think about the heart potentially being a problem here.
This is different. This is not a problem with the heart specifically. There's a major blood vessel that carries the blood away from the heart. It's called the aorta. As you might imagine blood is flowing very fast high pressure through that aorta.
And sometimes you can get a tear in one of the inner layers of the aorta and then blood sort of starts seeping into the wall of the aorta.
COOPER: Why does it tear?
GUPTA: Well, you know, it's unclear for sure. I mean, there are a couple of main risk factors. One is hypertension, high blood pressure and that high blood pressure over time can sort of erode the inner layer of the aorta.
Sometimes people may have a genetic predisposition because the tissue is not as strong as well in that area, but usually that hypertension is sort of the main culprit.
COOPER: Is it something that can be caught with an ultrasound or something like that?
GUPTA: It's a great question. Typically if someone has a true aortic dissection, the first time they have any problem unfortunately is something like this, when you get the dissection and you get the tear and they may not have ever had any problem with this in the past.
If they have what's known as an aneurysm, that's when the aorta starts to get big because those walls are weak and the aneurysm starts to get a little boggy. You can see that sometimes on a chest x-ray or CT scan but typically this is something just undetected, Anderson, until something tragic like this happens.
COOPER: He was a close friend and confidante to Secretary Of State Hillary Clinton. What does this mean moving forward in terms of the war in Afghanistan in terms of diplomacy of Pakistan?
JILL DOUGHERTY, FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: He was really the architect of that AFPAC strategy as it's called. You know, looking at the region, not just Afghanistan or Pakistan, but a combination. But you'd have to say that that policy really is already set.
And if you look at the last two years, I mean, he was out there in the wilds of Afghanistan and Pakistan meeting with the people in the field, talking with them and that's what's really going to be missed. I mean, the policy is one thing.
But the guy who could go out there, do the deals, sit across the table and really talk with people is gone. However, as he himself pointed out, this is a very different war. Maybe if there were negotiations with the Taliban, he could do it. But as he pointed out, there's no Slobodan Milosevic. There's no big leader. There are no armies. It's terrorists and that's a very different ball of wax.
GERGEN: There was also a very different side of Dick Holbrooke. He was tempestuous and larger than life as Paul just said. I think he was difficult to live with. His first two marriages ended in divorce. He had a couple of kids, sons, of whom he was very proud.
But in 1995, he married Connie Martin who had been married to Peter Jennings. That was one of the great romances in New York City especially in foreign policy circles. He told me on many occasions how devoted he was to her and how important he was to her life.
There was a soft side to Dick Holbrooke that Connie filled and I think a lot of people who knew them will remember them as that romantic couple.
COOPER: I want to play for our viewers something that President Obama said earlier.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Richard is relentless. He never stops. He never quits because he's always believed that if we stay focused, if we act on our mutual interests, that progress is possible. Wars can end. Peace can be forged. This is the conviction that an mates his work in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Paul, I mean certainly his career was not without bouts of turbulence even in this administration.
BEGALA: Absolutely. I see a lot of people use the phrase bull in a China shop. What I think was unique about Holbrooke is this. A lot of people in diplomacy particularly at his level are very bright and a few people are very tough, but it's never the same person.
Frankly, a lot of people who are not too bright, they tend to overcompensate by being too macho and too much swagger and maybe those overly bright have the paralysis of analysis and they never want to act.
Richard always was the toughest and the smartest guy in the room. I think that's why he was so successful. It would have been the highlight of anybody else's career, but we haven't mentioned in 1996 he brought peace in Cyprus between the Greeks and the Turks.
It could have been a war and it never was because of Richard Holbrooke. He brought peace to Bosnia. He relished having the hardest job in the whole world trying to fix this Afghan and Pakistan problems of the United States. I think if anybody ideally suited to is, it was that combination of absolute brilliance and really remarkable toughness.
COOPER: Sanjay, I never heard this medical condition before and you and I both have talked about heart stuff a lot because of commonly family histories here. Someone watching this now suddenly hears about tears in the aorta. What can they do or what should they know about it moving forward? If it's not something that initially shows up, you know, until it's too late.
GUPTA: Yes, here's the good news. First of all, it is still pretty rare. In the United States, for example, maybe around 2,000 cases of this sort of problem in a given year. That's rare in the scheme things.
Two things I would really say, Anderson, is that hypertension, high blood pressure. We talk about it all the time. This is one of the worst consequences of high blood pressure. Most people have high blood pressure will never have a problem like this. But if you do have it, it obviously needs to be controlled.
There are a couple of genetic syndromes as well, which cause the connective tissue within your blood vessels to become kind of flimsy and not so strong, Marfan's syndrome is one of those. You don't have to remember the name.
But the point is that if you have one of those types of problems, you may need to be screened for this sort of thing, you know, getting test to see if there is any problems with your aorta. But, you know, it is a difficult thing to screen for.
Again, most of those 2,000 people that I was just mentioning, the first time they ever know they have this sort of problem is when they have the actual dissection and this occurs.
GERGEN: He had actually had heart problems in the past and I think they were keeping a close eye on him.
GUPTA: Just to be clear, you know, heart issues are different. When people have blockages of the blood vessels going to the heart that is a much more common thing and you know, obviously people are much more well-versed on heart disease.
This is the major blood vessel leading away from the heart. John Ritter back in 2003 -- this was the same thing that he had and at first people thought it was a heart attack, but in fact it was this aortic dissection.
COOPER: Certainly our thoughts and prayers are with his family. David, appreciate you coming on. Paul Begala as well, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Jill Dougherty. Thanks. Let us know what you think. Live chat up and running right now at ac360.com
Up next, President Obama's tax deal with Republicans, how he changed his position to get it. How John McCain has done a 180 of his own on taxes, too and the chances the deal will go through after clearing a big hurdle today. We'll tell you about that.
Later the fallout from Bernie Madoff's Ponzi scheme, a really tragic horrific development over the weekend. Another life claimed, this time his son's.
COOPER: Tomorrow we may see a major development in the Senate on the tax deal that President Obama hammered out with Republicans. The Senate voting 83-15 to move the tax deal to a final vote President Obama spoke about a few hours ago.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: So I urge the House of Representatives to act quickly on this important matter because if there's one thing we can agree on, it's the urgent work of protecting middle class families, removing uncertainty for America's businesses and giving our economy a boost as we head into the new year.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Keeping them honest though you didn't hear him mention that other key part of the deal, extending the Bush cuts to the wealthiest Americans. It's something candidate Obama talked about a lot.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: I end the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans. It means letting the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans expire. Rolling back the Bush tax cuts to the top 1 percent. We have to roll back.
I'm going to roll back the Bush tax cuts for the very wealthiest Americans. For the wealthiest Americans. For the wealthiest Americans. For the wealthiest Americans. It is true that I want to roll back the Bush tax cuts on the very wealthiest Americans and go back to the rate that they paid under Bill Clinton.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: That was Mr. Obama on the campaign trail making a pledge he kept making well into the White House, but gave up on to cut the deal. Liberal Democrats now accuse him of caving and punting as House Democrat Anthony Wiener said on third down. What was interesting this weekend was John McCain latched on to some of those clips you just saw.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN, (R) ARIZONA: I guess it was my old beloved friend that said the politician's prayer is may the words I utter today be tender and sweet because tomorrow I may have to eat them. We're seeing clips all over the place. We can't extend these tax cuts for the rich. The rich people, you know, all of the clips we've seen of the president.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Now, we don't know if Senator McCain was simply offering the president some free political advice or taking a poke at him or something else. You can decide for yourself, but keeping him honest as well we did some checking and didn't take long to see Senator McCain also seems to have changed his position on taxes on the wealthy.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MCCAIN: I'm not sure we need to give two-thirds of that tax cut of that money to the wealthiest 10 percent of America.
I won't take every last had dime of the surplus and spin it on tax cuts that mostly benefit the wealthy.
I want to give working families a tax cut. I think that's very important. Governor Bush wants to take 38 percent of this surplus and give it to the wealthiest 1 percent of the Americans.
When you reach a certain level of comfort there's nothing wrong with paying somewhat more. I voted again the tax cut and voted against it because I didn't think there was sufficient relief for working Americans and I think events that have happened since then validated that vote.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: That was Senator McCain's standing position he held until 2004. He voted for the compromise today even though he disagreed with parts of it. The bottom line though neither he or President Obama have been perfectly consistent over the years on this.
The question is what happens next with the deal in the Senate and the House and in the election in 2012. Earlier I talked with Erick Erickson, editor-in- chief of RedState.com, Democratic strategist James Carville and Democratic pollster Cornell Belcher.
COOPER: James, what are the politics of this? Does the president get a boost from this compromise or since he campaigned on not extending the tax cut for the rich, does he get hurt?
JAMES CARVILLE, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, he campaigned on extending them for the middle class. I don't know. I think the Republicans may get hurt slightly. Elections have consequences and one of the consequences of this election if you're a rich person, you did very well.
I think they should make the argument that the Republicans are doubling down on failure. The Bush tax cuts did not work and why we continue with this policy I have no idea. That's the situation we're in now and the Democrats lost the election and they have to deal with that.
COOPER: Erick, you say conservatives should oppose the bill, but it's not a hell to die on. I believe was your quote. What' what do you mean.
ERICK ERICKSON, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, REDSTATE.COM: Right, well, the deal a lot of Republican think, a lot of conservatives think they could have gotten a better deal in January, but there's no guarantee. Did they want to take the gamble or not?
A lot of Republicans privately said they might be able to other than on the estate tax issue. The question is what House Democrats will do. Republicans didn't want to be seen as killing the deal. They would much prefer it if House Democrats would but it looks unlikely.
COOPER: Cornell, how do you see it?
CORNELL BELCHER, DEMOCRATIC POLLSTER: I have to tell you that Erick saying Republicans are complaining they didn't get a best deal is news to our liberal Democrats. It's really interesting. I think that the president has is slightly different -- I think James is absolutely right. House Democrats have to say this is doubling down on failure.
For my guy, the guy who I work for, I think for him when you listen to people out there in middle America talk about -- not understanding what all the fighting is about and saying why can't they all get in the room and work together, the president's imperative here was to finds bipartisanship.
To me for him to finds it to bring this up was really important for him to look like a leader and adult in the room with all the kids around and fighting.
COOPER: James, by setting this up that it comes up again in two years during a presidential race, isn't the president kinds of walking into a trap of basically letting this become a major issue during the presidential race?
CARVILLE: Well, no. A lot of provisions will come up within a year. It's the stuff that the rich people get that comes up within two years. The stuff that the working stiff gets is in a year. They get half a loaf here. Let's be careful there. I suspect that that was about all he could do because this makes the deficit numbers -- the ten-year projections look awful because the tax cuts are hideously expensive, something like $4 trillion over 10-year period.
Everybody comes and says we're going to do something about the deficit and then I'll make a deal. I'll give you everything if you want if you give half of what we want. They agree with that and that's where we are.
COOPER: Erick, do you have see this as something for the Obama administration good to have come up in two years?
ERICKSON: I see it as a great idea for Republicans particularly if everything goes to plan fighting over Obama care. That will come up as well in 2012. I'm sure by then it will be in the Supreme Court and have a decision in the election year 2012.
The tax cut issue in 2012. All these things -- I see this as helping Republicans. Democrats can quibble over it and say it's helping the rich, but fundamentally they make the argument every time and consistently lose on it.
CARVILLE: But it's not a quibble. It's a fact. It's a fact people don't like them and it's also a fact it didn't work.
ERICKSON: Jim, that's not true at all.
CARVILLE: They didn't work at all. There was no income -- ERICKSON: After the tax cuts were passed in 2002 and 2003 -- and remember we were in a recession when they were passed -- we had the lowest unemployment we've had in years, even lower than Bill Clinton had. We had a stock market higher than when Bill Clinton was president. They worked -- the bottom fell out when the Democrats came back in and uncertainty was introduced.
CARVILLE: Erick, come on, man.
ERICKSON: James, those are the numbers.
CARVILLE: Five years -- I'm sorry. You're going to say the stock market under Bush was better than the stock market under Clinton I'm going to fall right out the chair. The whole world --
ERICKSON: Those are the numbers, James.
CARVILLE: Take it back. You're not looking good. You're not going to look good when you compare the Clinton market with the Bush market.
ERICKSON: You always say how awful they were and didn't work but the fact is under George Bush after the tax cuts were passed we had ridiculously low unemployment. The unemployment didn't go back up until 2007.
CARVILLE: Let's look at income growth, stock market, deficit, everything and compare Clinton and Bush. In the entire eight years Bush was president created 1 million jobs. Please -- you got to deal with the facts.
ERICKSON: The fact is the unemployment rate under George Bush after 2003 was significantly low.
CARVILLE: OK. All right, the stock market was better under Bush. You're going to look like a fool, man. Don't do it.
ERICKSON: James, I could be wrong on the stock market, but I'm absolutely right on the unemployment.
CARVILLE: You couldn't be wrong on the stock market. You are wrong.
ERICKSON: You know I'm right on unemployment, James.
CARVILLE: Jobs created not close. Not close.
BELCHER: What's interesting is you're talking about Clinton/Bush and not Bush/Obama.
CARVILLE: Obama, the stock market is much better under Obama than bush, much better.
BELCHER: Here is what is really clear is that under Clinton, you did have a peace and prosperity that was broader to more Americans. Right now under George Bush -- sorry, but under George Bush you've got prosperity that was fairly concentrated on a very few individuals and this was part of the problem with the country right now. The middle class -- you're in a class warfare. You just don't know it yet. You better start shooting.
ERICKSON: I appreciate the two against one but the bush record speaks for itself. You are so interested in blaming Bush than now. The unemployment under Bush was a low number. You had massive amount of people employed.
BELCHER: I can't believe you're defending eight years of Bush.
ERICKSON: I mean, the fact that you have guys prefer to ignore it and ignore Obama's record as well.
CARVILLE: I can't -- it's breathtaking. We live on two different planets.
COOPER: James, the 2012 election, though, does it then become a referendum on health care reform and on tax cuts? I mean, is that -- are those the two central issues?
CARVILLE: You know, who knows. A lot can happen. I don't think -- I really think the election is about economic growth. I don't think it's about tax cuts people making over $250,000 a year, the tax on estate over $5 million a year. It may be that but I beg to differ.
I do not think it's going to be about that. The Republicans argue we need incremental small changes in health care that we have the best health -- deepest, best health care in the world. Democrats think otherwise.
I think that's something that we're going to have to slug it out on. It -- sometimes elections have to be about something. The Democrats lost this election. We'll see where it goes. The president has to make the case.
COOPER: We're going to leave it there. Cornell Belcher, James Carville, Erick Erickson. Thanks. You heard Erick and James going at it over the tax deal. The Bush and Clinton record on economy, job growth, economic growth and the stock market.
We wanted to check as many statements as we could. We try to check the factual accuracy bearing in minds external factors like the 9/11 attacks made a difference and timing played a big part as well regarding job growth and according to the nonpartisan website politifact. There was a net gain of just over a million jobs during the Bush administration and more than 22 million during the Clinton administration.
The way Erick was focusing on unemployment numbers -- percentage. As for growth rate according to the World Bank, it was 3.34 percent for 1992, 3.69 percent in 2000 and dipping below 2.5 percent in the Bush years. The economy grew 0.76 percent in his first year in office, peaked in 2005 at 3.65, then down to the low point in 2008 obviously with the economy shrinking about half percent. Stock market Dow Industrial rose about 7,000 points during the Clinton presidency, dropped 2,000 point during the course of the Bush years though again timing and 9/11 attacks also played a part.
Still ahead another tragedy related to Bernie Madoff. Madoff's son who turned in his father two years ago hanged himself in New York two years to the day his dad was arrested. Details on that coming up.
Also in crime and punishment, is he a grieving husband unjustly prosecuted for a second time or murderer who drowned his new bride while scuba diving on their honeymoon in Australia? The latest on this bizarre story ahead on the program.
COOPER: A story that's ruined thousands of lives took another sad turn this weekend when the oldest son of Bernie Madoff committed suicide. His name was Mark Madoff and hanged himself in his New York apartment two years the day that his dad was arrested on a largest Ponzi scheme in American history.
Bernie Madoff, you'll remember, swindled $50 billion from investors. Many of his victims were relatives, longtime family friends. There's been a lot of speculation about whether Madoff might actually attend his son's funeral. He's serving a life sentence in a North Carolina prison. Many -- actually, I think about a 150-year sentence. Joe Johns joins me now with the latest.
What do we know about how all this transpired -- transpired, Joe?
JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, it's pretty awful. Police said Mark Madoff hanged himself with a dog leash in his apartment in Soho. It was attached to a ceiling pipe. His 2-year-old son was in the apartment. Police said the boy wasn't hurt.
Authorities said, apparently, before committing suicide, Mark Madoff apparently sent an e-mail to his wife, who happened to be in Florida with their daughter, telling her to have someone check on their son. And so his father-in-law went to the apartment and found the body still hanging.
Mark Madoff's death, as you said, came on the two-year anniversary of when he and his brother told police Bernie Madoff had confessed to fraud, and actually, they're the ones who turned him in. Bernie Madoff, 71, 72 years old, serving a 130-year prison sentence.
COOPER: And Madoff -- Bernie Madoff is not going to be attending his son's funeral, right?
JOHNS: Right. There have been at least reports Bernie Madoff did not want to attend that funeral out of respect for his children and grandchildren. He apparently told somebody he was going to have a private ceremony in his prison in North Carolina.
But the truth is, there's no way of telling if the Federal Bureau of Prisons would even give him a furlough to get out, because he hadn't been in that long.
COOPER: We also know -- I mean, it was obviously -- Mark Madoff worked for his dad's firm but then turned in his father.
COOPER: Was he implicated in the fraud?
JOHNS: Well, there was an investigation, and they checked him out. And it's not clear at all that the investigation was over. But about the relationship, I mean, we know that it wasn't a good one.
For one thing, Mark Madoff worked at the firm, turned him in. He confessed. There are also reports he hadn't really had any contact with his parents since that day when all of this happened two years ago.
He still got sued, though, for -- through the bankruptcy trustee. And this was a guy who apparently was looking at Mark Madoff, saying, you know, this -- Mark Madoff is a guy who knew or should have known about the fraud even though Mark Madoff made it pretty clear that, in his view, or at least his assertions were that he didn't know about the fraud.
COOPER: And what happens in the Madoff case now? I mean, it goes on.
JOHNS: Yes. There's every indication it's going to go on. This bankruptcy trustee is very aggressive. He's filed a lot of lawsuits to try to recover money. One of those lawsuits actually names Mark Madoff.
"The Wall Street Journal" says the trustee claimed in a lawsuit that Mark improperly received something like $66.9 million through his father's investment company. His attorney has denied it and said that's an absurd claim, pretty much.
But the trustee is still going to try to get whatever money he can get for the people who were ripped off.
COOPER: And who else is -- I mean, there's a lot of folks getting sued. Who else is getting sued here?
JOHNS: You name it. There's family members, associates, accountants, banks. There's one Austrian banker. I mean, there's people all over the world who really have been sort of drawn into this as the bankruptcy trustee goes about the business of trying to recover the money from, basically, the largest fraudulent transaction scheme in history.
COOPER: Yes, I read in "The Times" over the weekend the that trustee may be able to get as much as 50 cents on the dollar for those folks -- for some of those folks who lost money, which is more than initially they had thought. But again, it all depends on how much they get from -- from the various lawsuits that he's filed. They filed an awful lot, as you said, Joe. Joe, appreciate it. Thanks.
Coming up in "Crime & Punishment," a man accused of killing his bride 11 days after their wedding while scuba diving on their honeymoon in Australia. He already served time in jail there. Now he's in jail in Alabama facing another trial for murder. Find out what the alleged motive was.
First Susan Hendricks joins us with a "360 Bulletin" -- Susan.
SUSAN HENDRICKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, a ruling on President Obama's health-care reform is expected to start a legal battle that could wind up in the Supreme Court.
A federal judge in Virginia today found a cornerstone of the reform package unconstitutional. The judge struck down the mandate that requires most Americans to buy health insurance by 2014. The Justice Department is expected to take the issue to a federal appeals court.
Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele has broken his silence and says he will, in fact, seek a second term. Steele made that announcement on a conference call with RNC members tonight.
And yes, those dreaded baggage fees the airlines are charging are earning them bags of cash. The Bureau of Transportation Statistics show airlines have made more than $2.5 billion so far on the baggage fees. That is up 22.5 percent since a year ago.
I couldn't believe they made that much when I read that this morning.
HENDRICKS: I know.
COOPER: Susan, thanks.
For tonight's "Shot," Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin showing his softer side in a video that's -- well, it's gone viral on YouTube. A shot at a children's charity dinner in St. Petersburg where he took the stage and sang Fat Domino's blueberry hill in English.
Is that "Blueberry Hill? That didn't sound like "Blueberry Hill." Does it? I don't know.
Anyway, apparently, actors Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell -- there he is; you saw him in the audience -- seem to be enjoying the rather odd show. He sounds like he's auto-tuned. I'm not sure.
Putin's singing pretty good. He does not hold a candle, though, to the former President Yeltsin kind of doing the chicken dance which lives on YouTube. Let's watch and enjoy.
Oop, that was it. All right. No more chicken dance. It wasn't really the chicken dance. Coming up later, New York Jets coach really tripping up. We'll show you what he did that punted him straight onto tonight's RidicuList.
And next, just a bizarre story. A man accused of killing his bride 11 days after their wedding. He -- he's waiting right now for a trial in Alabama. He's already spent time in jail in Australia. The wife died on their honeymoon in Australia while scuba diving. Did she drown or did he kill her for insurance money? We'll hear -- we'll hear the details ahead.
COOPER: Tonight in "Crime & Punishment, a man who's accused of killing his bride on their honeymoon is in jail in Alabama right now waiting for his trial. His name is Gabe Watson. He married his wife Tina in 2003 in Birmingham. Just 11 days later on their honeymoon in Australia, prosecutors say he killed her while they were scuba diving off the Great Barrier Reef.
Watson pleaded guilty in Australia to criminally negligent manslaughter. According to his attorneys, he did that only because he didn't rescue her and didn't do enough to save her. She drowned. Watson spent less than two years in jail in Australia, but back in Alabama he's facing murder and kidnapping charges. So seven years after the honeymoon trip, the story has just begun. Tom Foreman has the latest.
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): simply and brutally put, this is the story of two images. The first captured in this home video of Gabe Watson and his new bride Tina on their wedding day in Alabama in 2003.
The second, a week and a half later on their honeymoon at Australia's Great Barrier Reef. That's Tina on the ocean floor, minutes after beginning the dive of a lifetime, lying dead under 85 feet of water.
Now after years of legal wrangling, Gabe Watson is back home charged with murder, and Tina's parents are grimly awaiting trial.
TOMMY THOMAS, WIDOW'S FATHER: Until that day comes, until he actually faces the evidence for the first time in a criminal trial before a jury, there can be no rest or no peace for anyone in our family.
FOREMAN: Australian police who made this re-enactment video theorize this is what happened. Watson put his new wife in a bear hug, cut off her air supply, then watched her drown. Why? Alabama prosecutors say it was to collect a $200,000 life insurance policy, which they say he asked her to increase dramatically right before the wedding. She did not get around to it, they say But told him she had.
the story from Watson and his lawyers is, of course, quite different.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Gabe was upbeat. He was positive and optimistic.
FOREMAN: Watson told Australian investigators the couple found unexpectedly strong currents underwater. He had a problem with his equipment that separated them from other divers and then his wife, a novice, panicked.
He had much more experience and swam to help her. "Her hand hit my mask," he told police. "It knocked my mask sideways so I had to let go and kind of turn back so that I would have some space because at that point I didn't know if she was still flailing."
When he tried to return to her, he said she was sinking. "She was looking up, had both her arms out, you know, reached, stretched up, almost like looking at me."
I remember getting to the top yanking my mask off, spitting out my regulator and just yelling, "Tina's gone down."
(on camera) Watson pleaded guilty in Australia to manslaughter, saying he should have tried harder to save his bride. He was locked up a year and a half. His attorneys say that's enough suffering for a grieving husband, and they call the capital murder charges he now faces here nonsense.
(voice-over) But Alabama prosecutors insist Watson was plotting the murder even as he took his vows, and that's why they can bring charges, even though it happened in Australia. They say that he's told 16 different versions of what happened, that all the dive equipment was checked and found fine, that Tina had a full tank of air and her regulator in her mouth when she died. And if they prove all they say, he could spend the rest of his life in prison.
Tom Foreman, CNN.
COOPER: It's a really strange case. I talked about it earlier with legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin.
COOPER: How hard is it to prosecute a case like this when it's circumstantial evidence and it happened eight years ago?
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: In Australia.
COOPER: In Australia.
TOOBIN: It's a very difficult case to make for all sorts of reasons, including the issue of motive, which he's -- there was some insurance policy there, but it wasn't an enormous amount of money.
And mostly the technical aspect of the case. The physical evidence which involves the scuba equipment is very questionable in this case.
COOPER: Right. An Australian paper had come out with a story saying that Australian police made some mistakes early on in the investigation relating to the diving equipment.
TOOBIN: That's right. Because the central evidence in this case is basically what he did or didn't do with her diving equipment. Did he have pull it away from her? Did she just die the way people in scuba accidents sometimes die?
This is not only eight years ago. It's an investigation that took place eight years ago. And you've got the problems from then, which are incurable now.
COOPER: Had there not been disagreement about the death penalty, do you think this would be a death penalty case?
TOOBIN: Alabama is a state that really embraces the death penalty. This is a state where 50 people have been executed in the last few years. Given -- if you believe that this guy killed his wife intentionally on their honeymoon, it is certainly a case that Alabama would have sought the death penalty.
COOPER: Can they, even though they made this agreement or they agreed that it wouldn't be done, can they reverse that? I mean, can they go against it?
TOOBIN: Absolutely not. They cannot go back on this agreement. These sorts of arrangements are fairly common: extradition on the condition that you do not seek the death penalty. We are one of the very few developed countries that still has a death penalty.
There are a lot of countries that won't extradite people to the United States if we say we're going to use the death penalty. So it's the State Department, the U.S. State Department, not the Alabama government that monitors those sorts of agreements. There's no way they can go back on it.
COOPER: And obviously, there's no double jeopardy. They can retry this case, because it was in Australia. It doesn't...
TOOBIN: That's right. Double jeopardy is a lot less of a protection than people think. You remember the Rodney King case where you had a state prosecution...
TOOBIN: ... of the cops which failed and then you had a successful federal prosecution. When there are different jurisdictions you can almost always can get around the problem of double jeopardy.
COOPER: All right. Jeff Toobin, thanks. Strange case.
Straight ahead, still ahead tonight: Sarah Palin's visit to Haiti. Our Gary Tuchman is there and joins us tonight with details. And later, an NFL coach suspended for the rest of the season. His bad behavior also lands him on the RidicuList. We'll tell you what he did, ahead.
COOPER: You may have heard that Sarah Palin was in Haiti over the weekend. She arrived Saturday, visited some cholera clinics. She traveled with a relief group led by Billy Graham's son, Franklin Graham.
It is certainly a tense time in Haiti. Commercial flights were canceled last week because of civil unrest. Demonstrations broke out after disputed election results were announced. Gary Tuchman joins me now from Haiti -- Gary.
GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, when Sarah Palin was here this weekend, she didn't see the rain, but she did see the tears.
She talked to earthquake victims. She talked to cholera victims. The cholera epidemic is still raging here. She was a guest of Franklin Graham. Franklin Graham is the son of the Reverend Billy Graham. Franklin Graham is the president and CEO of Samaritan's Purse. It's a charity organization that does a lot of good work here.
For example, they built more than 10,000 shelters for earthquake victims.
It was a very unusual visit, because most of us didn't get to cover it. As a matter of fact we never got to see Sarah Palin with one Haitian because Sarah Palin and her people made the decision that not just CNN but the Associated Press, Haitian news organization, nobody could cover her visit except for the place where she works, the FOX News Channel, was with her the entire time.
And she's not officially running for president. She has every right to have anyone she wants to with her, but she is considered a VIP and traditionally disaster zones, news media worked with other. FOX News helps us. We help ABC. CBS helps the BBC. We help the VIPs -- help us and get the news out there for desperate people like the Haitian people here. But in this case, we do not cover it.
Now, we wanted to ask her why she didn't want the news media with her. She said she was having a news conference. And that was yesterday. We went the news conference, but it really wasn't a news conference, because as soon as we got there, Franklin Graham announced that Sarah Palin wasn't taking any questions. Therefore it's a statement, not a news conference.
Sarah Palin said she did not want to get political, and that's why she wasn't going to answer questions. So instead, she made a statement.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SARAH PALIN, FORMER GOVERNOR OF ALASKA (voice-over): Don't want Americans to forget the need that is here. More importantly, for Americans and people across the world to know what an individual can do to make a difference, to contribute, to kind of get out of your comfort zone and volunteer to help.
TUCHMAN: We still wanted to see if we could make it a semi-news conference, so I then tried to ask her at least one question.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PALIN: Thank you. You are -- you're doing God's work. Thank you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you, Governor. Thank you.
TUCHMAN: Could I ask you a question?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you.
PALIN: Much harsher than I had expected. The conditions are much rougher.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: How about the violence at the moment? I mean, in terms of political situation on the ground, is Port-au-Prince calm? What's happening?
TUCHMAN: Yes, last week was very rough, very violent, Anderson. It quieted down over the weekend while-- excuse me, while Sarah Palin was here. There was fear, though, a lot of rumors on the radio that it would pick up today, but it's been raining all day. This is nature's policeman. This keeps things quiet.
There's a lot of concern here, and we keep hearing a lot of things on the radio that things will pick up with the violence. And one of the reasons for the violence, remember this name: Sweet Mickey Martelly. He was the third-place finisher in the presidential race. The presidential race has a run-off on January 15. The first two finishers. Sweet Mickey ended up in the third place just by 5,000 votes.
A lot of his supporters feel that there was a lot of criminal action in this election campaign, a lot of fraudulent voting. Therefore, they think he should have been in second place. That's what started this all. So remember that name if this picks up again this week, the violence.
COOPER: Yes. I should point out I actually talked to the candidate, to Mr. Martelly on the phone on Friday. And he was saying that he's appealing to his supporters for calm. He does not want violence on the streets.
But, you know, folks have been demonstrating and sort of isolated pockets of violence. But folks have been demonstrating because they do feel that the elections have been stolen and that he was a very popular candidate.
Again, it remains to be seen what's going to happen in terms of whether there's a full recount, whether it's just a, you know, occasional recount of some of the votes. That's where the demonstrations really are kind of focused on. Gary, we're glad you're there. We'll continue to talk to you through the week.
Up next, we're throwing a penalty flag on the Jets football coach whose unsportsmanlike conduct was caught on camera. He's the latest addition to tonight's RidicuList, but first Susan Hendricks joins us again with a "360 Bulletin" -- Susan.
HENDRICKS: Anderson, Swedish authorities say the bomber who apparently killed himself in Stockholm Saturday was probably on his way to a more crowded location when his bomb went off prematurely.
The chief prosecutor in the case says it is likely the man will get confirmation through DNA testing and it's likely him. Authorities are also linking him to a nearby car blast. Two people were injured there.
The Calorie Commando is sent to jail. That is Juan Carlos Cruz, the former Food Network chef. He was sentenced to nine years behind bars for trying to hire two homeless men to kill his wife.
Julian Assange's lawyer says a secret grand jury is meeting in Virginia to consider criminal charges against the WikiLeaks founder. U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has said that he authorized significant actions related to investigating the release of diplomatic cables but hasn't elaborated what those actions are.
You know, it's not even winter yet, believe it or not, and winter weather advisories are in effect tonight for more than a half dozen states. Frigid temps stretch all the way to Florida, and that storm that hit the upper Midwest is taking aim now at the northeast. It's a mess there.
Meanwhile in Washington state, the concern is major flooding along rivers in nine counties. The culprit, rain, that has also triggered mud slides.
And is there more to Mona Lisa's stare than we can see? Well, art historians say with a microscope they have found the letters "L" and "V" carved into her right eye, presumably the initials of Leonardo da Vinci. The left eye is not as clear. This say it seems to have several letters and possibly some numbers. This is leading many to wonder if this is the true Da Vinci code. Hmm.
HENDRICKS: In unison, hmm.
COOPER: Yes. It's time to add another name to tonight's RidicuList. It's our nightly salute to those who cross the line.
The honor tonight goes to an NFL coach who was totally tripping last night, Sal Alosi of the New York Jets. Alosi is the team's strength coach. But thinking clearly is not one of his own strengths. Check this out: he actually stuck his knee out and tripped Miami player Nolan Carroll as he ran past him on the Jets sideline. Here's how it played out live.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Wow. This is just uncalled for in the NFL. Watch the knee here being stuck out on purpose to trip up Nolan Carroll. Not sure who that person is, but they should be ashamed of themselves for that type of action. That has no place in any athletic event.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Of course, the offending knee and the offender attached to it has since been identified as a fan of "Hard Knocks" on HBO. I don't know if you watch the show. I do. I've been watching the Jets a lot lately but this is one hard knock I never expected to see, although frankly we have seen unsportsmanlike behavior from coaches before.
Back in the '70s Ohio State coach Woody Hayes threw a punch at a player from Clemson before he was restrained by his only players. He was fired the next day and never coached again.
Sal Alosi says he's sorry, that he wasn't thinking when he tripped the Dolphins player, and that his actions were inexcusable and irresponsible. Also kind of naive. I mean, when you think about it, between all the cameras and the instant replays and the slow motion from every conceivable angle, did he really think he'd get away with it, that no one would notice?
The NFL has suspended Alosi for the rest of the season without pay. He'll also be fined $25,000. We're not sure which will be more painful for him: that or being added to tonight's RidicuList.
A lot more ahead at the top of the hour. His last words, reportedly: "You've got to stop this war in Afghanistan." The death and remarkable life of diplomat Richard Holbrooke.