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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES

Political Profiteers; Alleged Arizona's Shooter State of Mind; Hopeful Medical Signs for Gabrielle Giffords; Shocker in Michael Jackson Doctor Case; Interview With Dr. Phil

Aired January 11, 2011 - 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: And welcome to the 10:00 edition of 360. Thanks for watching.

Tonight: the political profiteers, left and right, who are using the tragedy in Tucson to raise money. We're "Keeping Them Honest," even though the real problem tonight isn't honesty. It's decency.

Also tonight: the suspected gunman's state of mind -- new evidence that something actually could have been done to get Jared Loughner psychiatric help. We will tell you about the warning signs and ways people might have intervened. We will talk to Jeffrey Toobin, plus a local mental health expert, and Dr. Phil McGraw, and others.

Also, hopeful signs today that Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords is getting better. We have the latest from her doctors about the progress she's making and newly shared pictures from her hospital room of the congresswoman and her husband.

There's other news tonight as well, a total surprise in the Michael Jackson hearing, a key prosecution witness stumbling, does a complete 180. The question now, will it add up to reasonable doubt in the manslaughter case against Jackson's doctor? Will jurors believe it was in fact suicide?

We begin tonight, though, "Keeping Them Honest," though, as I said before, this isn't about honesty, so much as it is common decency.

Tonight, a politician and a political group trying to profit off the tragedy in Tucson. Now, I'm not talking about the politicians and pundits who have been pointing fingers at one another the last several days. I'm talking about actual people trying to make real money over this tragedy, trying to cash in before the sadness fades or the tempers cool.

So, who would do such a thing? Well, so far, we have found two very different actors in this tawdry tale, in one corner, the Tea Party Express, and in another corner, independent Senator Bernie Sanders.

This is an e-mail that the Tea Party Express sent out yesterday, just 48 hours after the tragedy. The headline reads: "Tea Party Won't Be Silenced Following Arizona Shooting." It's a diatribe against literal -- liberal political figures and media bias in a perceived attack against the Tea Party, saying the Tea Party had nothing to do with the shooting.

Now, it would be perfectly reasonable if they'd stopped there. It's understandable they would have been upset by some of the comments made over the last several days. But the real purpose of the e-mail becomes clear at end. It's about raising money. They get you all riled up and wanting to do something, and, lo and behold, on the e- mail, there's a handy button you can click to make an online contribution.

No one has even been buried yet, and they are raising bucks. By the way, we got another e-mail from them today saying the first e-mail worked really well. They say they're on their way to making this the biggest day for contributions for the group.

Congratulations, I guess.

Over on the other side of the political aisle, there's money to be made as well. Today, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders decided it was time to write a letter to his constituents.

Here's the first paragraph: "Given the recent tragedy in Arizona, as well as the start of the new Congress, I wanted to take this opportunity to share a few words with political friends in Vermont and throughout the country. I also want to thank the very many supporters who have begun contributing online to my 2012 reelection campaign. Your financial support now and in the future is much appreciated."

And again, right there, he provides a button to click to contribute. At least the Tea Party Express put their donation link at the bottom of the e-mail. Sanders has his pitch in the first paragraph.

If he had really just wanted to write a letter to constituents about the tragedy, that would have been just fine. But mixing it with a grab for cash, come on. He's raising money for his reelection. It's not money for a memorial fund, not for a mental health foundation, not even to send flowers -- one more reason tonight to shed a tear for Tucson.

Before we go on, I want to show you some pictures we just got in from Congresswoman Giffords' office. They were taken in her hospital room Sunday, her husband, astronaut -- astronaut Mark Kelly , holding her hand. He's been doing a lot of that, we're told, as you can imagine. Medical science has yet to come up with anything better.

Meantime, there's growing evidence about mental instability on the part of Jared Loughner and growing signs that something, something might have been done to prevent Saturday's attack, if someone had decided to do it or even known what to do.

Now, we should point out right here at the top that Jared Loughner has neither been diagnosed with any mental illness, nor convicted of any crime. We should also say that mental illness doesn't equal violence. And the times when it does, it's frequently suicidal, not homicidal violence.

However, it's becoming abundantly clear, for whatever reason, some people were more than just wary of Jared Loughner.

From "The Washington Post," an e-mail college classmate Lynda Sorenson wrote to friends -- and I quote -- "We have mentally unstable person in the class that scares the living crap out of me," she wrote. "He is one of those whose picture you see on the news after he has come in to class with an automatic weapon," she went on to say.

Then there's this from staff and faculty at Pima Community College. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BEN MCGAHEE, FORMER MATH INSTRUCTOR OF JARED LEE LOUGHNER: This guy was mentally disturbed. He was very isolated. I was scared of what he could do. I wasn't scared of him physically, but I was scared of him bringing a weapon to class.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: That's one of his teachers.

In fact, starting in February last year, Loughner's erratic behavior led to five confrontations with campus police, not -- not city police, campus police.

By September 29, he was suspended, and police, campus police, delivered a letter to him at his parents' home. Then, on the 7th of October, a follow-up telling Loughner he may only return after obtaining a mental health clearance, showing his presence at the college would not endanger himself or others. He never returned.

As for the school -- as far as the school was concerned, they had done their jobs. They had protected their students. But what about the community beyond the campus?

You see, Arizona actually has a law that a lot of other states don't have that might have made it possible for the school to do something. Under Arizona law, the college could have called a 24-hour government-run mental health hot line with their concerns.

In fact, in Arizona, any person who knew Jared Loughner and had concerns about him could have petitioned a court to get him a psychiatric evaluation. The law's almost unique. Only a handful of other states use it. Most states require that a person poses an immediate danger to himself or others before he can be involuntarily treated.

In Arizona, the hurdle is far lower. The law only requires that a person be judged persistently or acutely disabled or as gravely disabled. Under that standard, Jared Loughner might have gotten seen, might have gotten evaluated, might have gotten treated, might have been prevented at least from buying a gun. At this point, there's no evidence anyone petitioned a court, not his parents, not his classmates, not the campus police or school administration. Again, we don't know if he was getting private counseling, but, so far, there's no evidence of that.

Joining us now is forensic psychiatrist Helen Morrison, senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin, and Drew Griffin of the CNN Special Investigations Unit.

Drew, you talked to the school administrators. They felt their main responsibility was just protecting kids on campus. Do we know, did they make any effort to contact anybody with their concerns outside the campus?

DREW GRIFFIN, CNN INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: Just the parents. That was their main concern, to bring the parents in, to let them know the situation, to let them know they thought their son needed mental evaluation before he could return back to class.

But, again, they were following their code, and basically kicking him off campus because he was violating the code of conduct that the school had. They weren't really concerned that he was a threat, per se. They were concerned that he was becoming a real disruptive person inside classrooms and making it impossible for other students to learn.

COOPER: Jeff, in so many...

GRIFFIN: Well, I can -- well, I can tell you, they -- go ahead.

COOPER: Sorry.

Jeff, in so many other -- other cases, we have heard of, you know, parents who have kids who are schizophrenic or have some sort of mental instability and have said, look, unless I can prove to authorities that my child is going to -- you know, in imminent harm to himself or to someone else, no one else -- no one will help me. No one will get involved.

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: That's right.

And what makes this Arizona law so unusual is that there was an outlet. There was an opportunity to go forward and get him evaluated, even without a crime having taken place. But I had never heard of this law. I don't think most people in Arizona had heard about the law. I have never heard -- I haven't heard that the people at the -- at Pima Community College knew about it.

So, it's one thing for the law to exist, but it's another for people to take advantage of it. Obviously, no one did. It's a tragic fact.

COOPER: And we don't know -- there have been a lot of budget cuts in Arizona. A number of the rolls, the mental health rolls, have actually been cut. So, folks who are already in the pipeline, a lot of them have been cut from the system. We don't know what kind of an impact, if anything, that's had.

TOOBIN: That's right.

And what makes all of this so important is that, if you are in the mental health system, you are supposed to then go into the database that prevents you from buying a gun. But Arizona has been more lax than many states in getting people into the database, the so- called NICS system, N-I-C-S.

The fact that he was not in the database only reflects the fact that he had not been arrested. He was not in the system. But, even if he had been, it's not clear that Arizona would have put him on the prohibited list.

COOPER: Dr. Morrison, you study killers. You have talked to a lot of them. You've studied a lot of them over the years. Does Loughner fit a -- kind of a profile?

DR. HELEN MORRISON, FORENSIC PSYCHIATRIST: He fits a profile of a mass murderer, which is essentially an individual who sees themselves as somehow being a victim of other individuals who -- either by rejection or by diminishing them in some way.

You know, this individual started to show difficulties in high school, between his sophomore and junior year. It was only until recently when he complained that the congresswoman had demeaned him by not answering a question that he had. And you talk about a trigger, it doesn't have to be an external trigger. It can be something that builds and builds, until the individual feels that they are righteous in destroying the object that they have so much hatred for, and they have no regard for the collateral damage that happens.

COOPER: Dr. Morrison, though, I mean, I don't want to paint with a broad brush people with mental illnesses or mental instabilities. The vast majority of people who have some sort of mental illness will not resort to violence. What makes the difference between someone who does and someone who doesn't? Is it drug use? Is it -- what is it?

MORRISON: It tends to be something that's internal, again. It doesn't have to be precipitated by drug use at all.

I mean, if he failed a drug test because of some marijuana or something that was in his system, that certainly isn't sufficient to cause this type of a violent response. But it seems to -- again, to have been a building-up of this paranoia that he had that he was somehow being victimized by the office, by the congresswoman, and he was going to have his revenge. This man knew exactly what he was doing.

COOPER: Jeff Toobin, obviously, I guess some folks would look at an insanity defense. He's got now this high-profile public defender, kind of a roving public defender.

MORRISON: Right.

COOPER: Is the insanity defense easy to make? TOOBIN: Very, very hard. Most people who use it fail.

But there have been high-profile successes. Most famously, John Hinckley, who tried to assassinate President Reagan in 1981, was found not guilty by reason of insanity. In response to that, Congress tightened the law. And, remember, Loughner is likely to face both federal and state charges, so he would have to win twice...

COOPER: And, Dr...

TOOBIN: ... which seems extremely unlikely...

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: Dr. Morrison, you can be schizophrenic or have some sort of mental illness, and yet not be insane.

MORRISON: Absolutely.

I mean, the -- the -- the things that they need to prove and to show is that he was quite capable of planning, he was quite capable of waiting, he was quite capable of having every step that he needed in order to accomplish. So, whether he was psychotic or schizophrenic or whatever absolutely doesn't explain and excuse him for his actions.

COOPER: Yes, no doubt about that.

Dr. Morrison, appreciate it, Jeff, Jeff Toobin, as well.

Drew Griffin, we will talk to you throughout this hour.

Let us know what you think, live chat right up and running at AC360.com.

Up next: Jared -- Jared Loughner's parents finally make an appearance. We're actually seeing them for the first time, just some new video we just got in. I haven't actually even gotten a glimpse of it. We will show you how neighbors show Jared Loughner and his family as well.

We will also talk to Dr. Phil McGraw about the challenges of treating mental illness and identifying people with mental illnesses who may present some form of a threat to themselves or to others -- dispelling a lot of myths, raising some tough questions, when we continue.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: We just got some video in to show you, Jared Loughner's parents leaving their home tonight. This is the first we have actually seen of them.

That's actually somebody helping Mrs. Loughner into the car. You don't really get a look at her. She's going into the car. And then Mr. Loughner is there with a dog.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sir? Mr. Loughner, just a comment?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: First I'm seeing of it as well. Clearly, they don't want to make any comments. Their faces are covered. They said nothing to the camera crew.

Instead, earlier today, they issued a statement, though. They said -- and I quote -- "There are no words that can possibly express how we feel."

They went on to say, "We wish that there were, so we could make you feel better." It continues: "We don't understand why this happened. It may not make any difference, but we wish that we could change the heinous events of Saturday. We care very deeply about the victims and their families. We are so very sorry for their loss."

Randi Kaye tonight takes a look at what the neighbors knew about the Loughners, about their apparently troubled son, and a strange shrine in the family's backyard.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Here in this Tucson neighborhood, it's easy to spot Jared Lee Loughner's home. It's the one with dozens of media camped out front.

This is the most activity neighbors have ever seen here. They tell us that the Loughners keep to themselves. They even built a wall around their backyard.

(voice-over): This man lived next door to the family for 30 years.

GEORGE GAYAN, NEIGHBOR OF THE LOUGHNERS: They have got a wall in the backyard. People put walls up for privacy. So, I don't get a ladder and peek over the wall.

KAYE: We couldn't get near the house or the backyard, but these photos appeared in "The New York Daily News." They show a tarp hanging in the yard and a makeshift shrine behind the house where Jared Loughner lived with his parents at the time of the shooting, a skull surrounded by rotten oranges, candles and a bag of potting soil.

It's not clear who put this up or even if it's still there.

(on camera): Neighbors told us they had never heard of that strange backyard altar before, but several say they had noticed a change in Jared Lee Loughner's appearance. They say he had shaved his head in recent months and started wearing more and more black.

(voice-over): Stephen Woods has lived next door to the Loughners for seven years.

(on camera): What made you think that Jared Loughner looked lonely? Describe him, if you can.

STEPHEN WOODS, NEIGHBOR OF THE LOUGHNERS: Well, he always wore a hoodie, you know, with the hood over, his earbuds in his ears, dark clothing. Just the demeanor of him, when you see him walking down the street just seems kind of like to himself and wanted to be by himself and wanted to be left alone.

KAYE: Have you ever had any contact with Jared Loughner?

WOODS: No, my son has tried to, you know, say hi to him or -- or, you know, say, hey, what's up or -- and he came to -- he has blinders on. He just keeps on walking.

KAYE (voice-over): Woods told me he was there when police arrived Saturday to tell Randy and Amy Loughner their son had been arrested in the shooting of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and 19 others.

WOODS: The father and mother drove up in the truck, and I pointed them out to the police and said, well, you know, there he is right there.

And they evidently informed them at that time, because his -- you know, his head -- his hand went on his head. He seemed very upset. His wife was crying. And so I assume that's when they told them.

KAYE (on camera): Can you show me what his reaction was?

WOODS: He was just like, "No," shaking his head, and, "No."

KAYE (voice-over): Woods says the suspect's father told the neighbor who lives here right across the street that he didn't know what to do because his son was -- quote -- "out of control." That same neighbor was at the Loughners' home Monday night. They had asked him to bring them their mail.

WAYNE SMITH, NEIGHBOR OF LOUGHNERS: Oh, he was crying. It was obvious.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can you tell me what other sense you got from them when you spoke to them on the phone?

SMITH: When he called over to the house just now? That he needed help. And it was a loud, "Help me."

He said, "I know everything," and started crying.

She's in bed, and she's just broke-down, just a nervous wreck. And he's in there crying.

He can't get out three words without crying.

KAYE: Today, we tried to speak with Wayne Smith, but his wife told us to get of the property...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You need to get off of our property. KAYE: ... then called sheriff's deputies to protect them from the media.

Then, Mr. Smith's wife hung "no trespassing" signs. As reporters waited patiently for the suspect's parents to come outside and make a statement, someone, possibly a friend, placed a card and a rose on Jared Loughner's car in the driveway, a warm gesture toward a man neighbors now believe is a cold-blooded killer.

Randi Kaye, CNN, Tucson, Arizona.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Well, the fact is, there's still so much we don't know about -- about Loughner, about his family, about how they handled their son, whether, after he was kicked out of the community college, they got counseling for him.

But, even with counseling, it's very difficult for anyone to predict violence accurately. I talked about it earlier with Dr. Phil McGraw.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: You know, Dr. Phil, it seems there were plenty of people who crossed paths with the alleged shooter and -- and were alarmed enough to -- by his behavior to raise some red flags, people at the school, people in the neighborhood. Do you think that everything that could have been done was done in this case?

DR. PHIL MCGRAW, HOST, "DR. PHIL": Well, Anderson, this is a real problem.

And let me kind of describe for you what the problem is. Even if he had encountered professionals, psychologists or psychiatrists, even people that were trained to look for erratic behavior or different types of pathology, the problem is, we have a hard time predicting when someone is going to go off and do something like this.

For example, you know, there might be 1,000 people that would do exactly what this person had done, rambling e-mails, erratic behavior observed by others in a classroom, showing disturbed thought through psychotic processes, things of this nature, that never do anything violent. They never aggress against anyone.

So, it's very difficult to say which one is going to be the one that actually does something like that. So, when you look at it after the fact, it's -- it's -- you look at it and say, wow, look at all these things we know. Classmates were saying he was scaring them and disturbing them. He was writing things on the Internet. He was really being critical of the government.

But so many people do that and never do anything. So, it's difficult to actually predict it.

COOPER: It's also difficult -- I mean, we have heard so many cases -- and, again, we don't know the details of this guy's family, what his parents did or did not do, if anything.

But, you know, we have heard so many cases in the past of -- of parents who knew there was a problem, wanted to get help for -- for their kid, and yet didn't have the resources to get help privately. There weren't the public resources available for them.

Or, unless the -- the person actually was deemed a threat or made some specific threat or acted -- or acted out violently, there was really nothing that the -- anybody else could force them to -- to do in terms of getting treatment.

MCGRAW: Well, that's a real problem.

And a lot of people think that the bar is too high. But what you're talking about here, Anderson, is depriving someone of their liberty in America because you are concerned about their thought process or their emotionality.

Now, when you're in a parent situation, once a child becomes 18, you can't compel them getting help. You can't compel them getting therapy. So, what you have to do is go to the sheriff and -- and try to do something system-wise that would take them off the street. And that's a very steep hill to climb.

COOPER: Yes. It's difficult for family members to -- to do that, to get law enforcement involved. There's the famous case, you know, of the Unabomber, Ted Kaczynski, turned in by his own brother.

What do you -- what kind of responsibility do families have if they know that someone, you know, is having problems, potentially dangerous in their midst?

MCGRAW: Well, I think you do have a responsibility at that point. I mean, the parents probably know and have better -- know their child and have better access than anyone.

And if you're in a situation where they are showing behavior that is suggestive, they're making threats, they have weapons, they're starting to do dangerous sort of things, I think we do need to reach out and get some help.

Now, maybe you call the authorities; maybe you call a trusted friend; maybe you talk to someone at the church; you call a psychologist, or a counselor. But, sometimes, you -- there comes a point when you say, I'm in over my head; I need to reach out and get some help here.

And I think, furthermore, people need to understand that there are community mental health centers that work with people based on their ability to pay. So, you don't have to be able to go hire a psychologist or a psychiatrist if you don't have insurance. There are usually state and county organizations and agencies that will provide some type of help.

COOPER: And -- and it's worth noting it's important not to demonize someone with a mental illness, schizophrenia or something because, as you said, the statistics show the majority of them do not end up acting out violently.

The -- you know, I guess one of the big problems, too, is, if somebody is severely mentally ill, they often don't see themselves or thinking of themselves as mentally ill. They don't want to stay on medication.

Can you convince someone like that? Or -- or -- I mean, at that -- it's a -- it's a hard thing to do.

MCGRAW: It is very difficult, because, the more you get out of touch with reality, the more you have breaks with reality and live in a fantasy world, which is one of the criteria we use for defining psychosis, the less insight that person's going to have.

Their ability to step back, look at themselves and say, wow, I am truly out of control here and I need some help, is -- is very poor.

COOPER: So, I mean, when you see an incident like this, what's -- I mean, what do you take away from it? What's the lesson?

MCGRAW: Well, it's very frustrating to me, as -- as a mental health professional, that we don't have a better ability to predict this kind of thing.

And, you know, I hear a lot of theories out there, that this was political activism or whatever. To me, from everything I can gather, my personal opinion is, this was a mental illness-driven aggressive attack. And I think it is so tragically terrible that this happened to these innocent people.

And I also have great compassion for the families of those injured. And I worry about the parents of -- of -- of the suspect here, because this has got to be devastating to them as well.

COOPER: Yes. I talked to the parents of Christina, the 9-year- old girl who was killed. I talked to them last night. And, I mean, their strength is just amazing, to even be able to talk. And I think they wanted to talk because they want people to know who their daughter was, the kind of little girl she was, what her hopes were, what her future looked like, just so we all get a sense of the great loss that they're feeling.

Dr. Phil McGraw, good to have you on. Thank you, Phil.

MCGRAW: Thank you, Anderson.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Well, still ahead tonight: remembering the victims. And we will look at Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, her condition, holding her own, according to doctors.

The photo you see there on the right just released of her husband holding her hand in the hospital, it's released by the congresswoman's office. I don't want you to think we're invading anyone's privacy by showing such an intimate shot. That's released by their office. 360 M.D. Sanjay Gupta joins me next to talk about her condition.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Well, good news to tell you about, more encouraging news from doctors today at the University Medical Center in Tucson, where the shooting victims are being treated. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. PETER RHEE, MEDICAL DIRECTOR, UNIVERSITY MEDICAL CENTER TRAUMA CENTER: We're currently at six patients still remaining in the hospital, one in critical condition, three in serious condition, and two in fair condition.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Obviously, the critically ill patient is Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, shot in the head point-blank range. The bullet went through her brain from back to front. The fact she is alive is really remarkable.

Today, the hospital's chief neurosurgeon had new details.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. G. MICHAEL LEMOLE JR., CHIEF OF NEUROSURGERY, UNIVERSITY MEDICAL CENTER: I'm happy to say that she's holding her own. Her status is the same as it was yesterday. She's still following those simple commands.

We have been able to back off on some of that sedation. And, in fact, she's able to generate her own breaths. She's breathing on her own. In fact, the only reason we keep that breathing tube in is to protect her airway so that she doesn't have complications like pneumonia.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: We also heard today from Bill Hileman, whose wife Susie was shot multiple times as she waited to meet Representative Giffords. She brought 9-year-old Christina Taylor Green, the youngest victim, with her to the event. The Hilemans and Green are friends and neighbors. Mr. Hileman recalled how the outing came to be.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILL HILEMAN, WIFE WOUNDED IN TUCSON SHOOTING: When Christina was elected to her student council and started to express interest in government and the notion of helping people, my wife had been a social worker in New York in Chicago. And Susie started looking for an event that she could share, as they had done any number of things.

And Gabby's event made all kinds of sense, both from my wife's personal political preferences, as well as the fact it was a magnificent chance to provide a positive public female role model for little Christina.

Susie and Christina were holding hands in line waiting to shake Gabby's hand. I hear her in her semi-conscious ramblings screaming out, "Christina, Christina, let's get out of here, let's get out of here." And she keeps talking about the holding of hands and then the realization that she was on the ground and the bleeding was profuse.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Unbelievable. Christina, a little girl, 9-year-old girl who was fascinated by government, fascinated by politics, the presidential election, wanted to get involved at age 9.

Mr. Hileman went on to say the first thing his wife asked when her breathing tube was removed late Saturday was, "What about Christina?" He said he told her the truth right then and there that she had died but doesn't know how much she's actually absorbed because of all the medication she's been given.

Susie Hileman has a fractured hip, faces a long recovery on top of dealing, obviously, with the toll of what happened. Her husband also talked about Christina's parents, John and Roxanna Green.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HILEMAN: The Greens very much remain in our prayers every minute. They are dear, sweet friends of ours who have been, from the get-go, trying their best to take care of Susie, despite the loss that they personally suffered.

The graciousness that that couple has shown, given the tragedy that they've experienced, is unlike anything I've ever experienced. And beyond the safety of my wife and those of the other victims, I most pray for John and Roxanna Green.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: I think we can al echo that sentiment.

I talked with the Greens last night. If you watched the program, their strength is just incredibly remarkable. They're going to bury their daughter on Thursday.

Three sixty M.D., practicing neurosurgeon Sanjay Gupta joins us now.

Sanjay, some major progress to report today, some good news for Representative Giffords. The fact these breathing a little bit on her own and is -- I mean, does that mean she's progressing more quickly than doctors would expect with this kind of injury? What can we read into that?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's so variable, you know, how patients progress after something like this, but that they progress at all, I think, is something that doctors are looking for. That every single day there's some sort of movement in the forward direction.

I will say that, you know, with regard to the breathing machine specifically, it sounds like, you know, if she's actually not dependent on the breathing machine at all at this point. They could take the tube out. They just want to make sure she's awake enough, that she doesn't accidentally aspirate something into her lungs and that could potentially set her up for pneumonia. So my guess is the breathing tube will probably come out over the next few days, as well.

COOPER: And doctors have repeatedly said this is the most dangerous time. We talked about this, I think, a little bit before. Is that because this is the point at which the swelling of her head reaches its greatest point?

GUPTA: Yes. That's exactly right. I mean, you can sort of chart that, you know, based on patients who have had similar injuries. And around the 72-hour mark or so is when you sort of have the maximal swelling. So if it hasn't gotten -- become bad or caused problems up to this point, you start to breathe a little bit of a sigh of relief, saying probably that's not going to be a problem. I think they'll still monitor for the next few days, but that was -- that was a big crucial hurdle for them.

COOPER: You know, they thought and said al along and we've been reporting. In fact, I just said a few minutes ago that the bullet went from back to front. Now they're saying it went from front to back. I hadn't heard that until just now. You've written papers about this. How difficult is it to assess which direction the bullet traveled?

GUPTA: This will surprise people, but it can actually be quite challenging. I mean, if someone is shot, you know, where the -- where the gunpowder from the blast actually create -- you can see that gunpowder on someone's skin, then you obviously know that that's probably the entry point.

But if you have a certain types of bullet, for example, fully jacketed bullets that aren't going to cause a lot of -- they won't do that sort of explosion effect inside, it can be difficult to say exactly what is entry, what is exit. The exit wound is sometimes a little bit bigger than the entrance wound. And also looking at the bone fragments from the skull at the entry site, you'll see those bone fragments sort of pushing toward the brain; at the exit you'll see the fragments not pushing toward the brain, pushing outside.

But despite all that, it can be challenging. And I have to tell you having done these operations, it doesn't really matter to the doctors who are doing the surgery. They need to do the job, which is to decompress the brain, stop the bleeding, and where the bullet entered or exited is sort of a secondary issue for them.

COOPER: It's actually -- because I talked to somebody, a witness yesterday who actually -- a medical personnel who helped on the scene who said that he thought he had seen the shooting and thought he had seen the guy shooting from the rear. Anyway, I guess we'll learn more as the investigation continues. Some of the doctors have actually been training overseas in Iraq or Afghanistan, and have expertise and kind of, you know, large triage situations. That can only help in a situation where you suddenly have a large number of incoming wounded and -- with serious injuries.

GUPTA: Yes. You know, and one of the -- one of the big sort of things that was learned and has been learned from war zone situations, and Dr. Reed talked about this -- I saw this in Iraq myself. But, you know, if someone has a significant brain injury, the goal, the primary goal is to get pressure off of the brain. That's the No. 1 thing you have to do.

And what the doctors in these war zones have started doing was just simply removing lots of bone so that the brain has a place to swell. We've talked about this. Obviously, the congresswoman had this done. And some of that has been directly learned from war-zone situations.

That type of operation has been performed for a long time. It was typically done for people who had strokes, and the brain sort of started to swell after a stroke. But after gunshot wounds, after these sorts of injuries, it's becoming more commonplace as a result of those lessons learned on the battlefield.

COOPER: Amazing. Sanjay, thanks. Appreciate the expertise.

So often in a tragedy like this, all the attention is on the killer, and we've said this before. We said this last night, but people often remember the name of killers for years but rarely the name of victims. And that should not happen, especially not this time.

Drew Griffin has more on the six people whose lives were cut short on Saturday who you should know about.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Please join me in a solemn moment of silence.

(MUSIC)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords is recovering this evening from surgery.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: May God watch over those that have left us. May God watch over the families and the friends that are suffering today.

DREW GRIFFIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): As Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords continues to fight for her life, supporters outside the hospital have come together to pray for her recovery. And remember those who lost their lives.

The youngest victim, a 9-year-old little brown-eyed girl. Christina Taylor Green was born on September the 11th, 2001. For her family, a glimmer of joy on a day of unspeakable sorrow. ROXANNA GREEN, CHRISTINA'S MOTHER: She was a great friend, a great sister, a great daughter. I was so proud of her. And I just want everyone to know, and I feel a lot of people that know us and knew Christina Taylor that, you know, we got robbed. She got robbed of a beautiful life that she could have had.

GRIFFIN: Christina loved animals, dreamed of some day becoming a veterinarian. She'd just been chosen for student council at her elementary school. The 9-year-old was excited to meet her congresswoman, Gabrielle Giffords, but that moment never came.

JOHN GREEN, CHRISTINA'S DAD: There's going to be a lot of those kind of moments that -- I had one this morning, just waking up. And she -- she comes up and says, "Daddy, it's time to get up." And she didn't do that this morning.

GRIFFIN: A family who will always remember their bubbly little girl with an easy smile.

Thirty-year-old Gabriel Zimmerman rarely stood still. An avid runner who had twice hiked across the Grand Canyon, he was Congresswoman Giffords' community outreach director.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He was an old soul in a young man's body who was a real special treasure for Tucson.

GRIFFIN: Zimmerman had worked with troubled children at a treatment facility before joining Giffords' staff in 2006. It was here he developed a passion for public service.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There were always people who were half joking, half seriously chiding him about when he was going to run for some kind of office. He seemed to almost have that calling.

GRIFFIN: But first he and fiance Kelly O'Brien were planning a wedding. Everything was in front of him. A bright and promising future. Cut short.

JOHN ROLL, DISTRICT JUDGE: My name is John Roll. I'm a district judge in Arizona.

GRIFFIN: Sixty-three-year-old chief federal judge John Roll spent that fateful morning attending mass. In Arizona he was known to be fair and fearless. He once received death threats over a civil rights case filed by illegal immigrants against a rancher.

Judge Roll had stopped by the "Congress on your Corner" event to support his friend Gabrielle Giffords. The father of three was gunned down. A respected voice now silenced.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everyone loved and respected him. In his chambers he dealt with a lot of people on a daily basis, and he treated everyone with the highest level of courtesy and respect. And he will be sorely missed.

GRIFFIN: Dorwin and Mavy Stoddard knew each other as children. After both were widowed, they reunited, fell in love and married.

REV. MICHAEL NOWAK, MOUNTAIN AVENUE CHURCH OF CHRIST: They were inseparable. You saw one, you knew the other one wasn't far behind.

GRIFFIN: In what can only be described as an unselfish act of love, 76-year-old Dorwin Stoddard shielded his wife during the shooting. Mavy was shot, but she survived. Her husband died.

NOWAK: That will be a whole new life for her. So I'm afraid that it will hit her harder down the road.

GRIFFIN: The life they shared together for nearly 15 years was filled with compassion and caring. They delivered food to those in need and were devoted to their church.

NOWAK: There are no streets named after them. There's no monuments to them. But their impact in the community of Tucson will last a lifetime.

GRIFFIN: The shooting also took the lives of two other women. Dorothy Morris had married her high-school sweetheart, George, a former pilot. Her husband was wounded in the shooting that took her life.

Phyllis Schneck, a gifted cook and quilter, also died that day. Her daughter remembers.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What will you miss most about your mother?

B.J. OFFUTT, PHYLLIS SCHNECK'S DAUGHTER: Everything. Everything.

GRIFFIN: A day that began with a community drawn together ended with a community shattered, left to remember a day of tragedy and loss.

Drew Griffin, CNN.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: So many lives lost and lives forever changed.

Up next, an exclusive. We're going to talk to Congresswoman Giffords' chief of staff. I'm told she just spent time tonight with the congresswoman and has the latest on her condition ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: A 360 exclusive now, just moments ago, Gabrielle Giffords' chief of staff left the congresswoman's bedside. Pia Carusone joins us now.

Pia, how is the congresswoman doing? What can you tell us?

PIA CARUSONE, CHIEF OF STAFF FOR GABRIELLE GIFFORDS: I mean, you know, she's doing remarkably well, given -- given the situation. As the doctors have said, you know, all -- the reason in the world to be optimistic, but it's a critical situation.

COOPER: What is -- obviously, you've spent a lot of time at the hospital. I mean, what's the scene like there? I mean, I don't want to pry, so you just tell me what you think is appropriate for people to know.

CARUSONE: Well, I mean, you know, the family's very strong, very supportive. You know, she's a young, healthy person who is not only physically strong but mentally resilient and, you know, they're rising to the occasion. They've got a long road ahead of them, not just the physical recovery, but the tragedy that this community is having to absorb is -- it's monumental, and it's going to be, you know, it's going to be a difficult thing to get through. But they will.

COOPER: Our thoughts are obviously with the family of Gabe Zimmerman, as well, who was a member of your staff who was killed. He was engaged to be married, correct?

CARUSONE: Yes, he was.

COOPER: What do you want...

CARUSONE: He...

COOPER: What was he like?

CARUSONE: Gabe, he -- you know, you guys are reporting it accurately. Gabe was a remarkable person. You know, he was 30 years old, had a whole life ahead of him, and loved doing what he did. He thought that serving the community was just the best job in the world. He came to work every day with a smile on his face, loved helping people, really truly felt the satisfaction from that.

It's just -- it's tragic. I mean, any death is. Obviously, there's been deaths and injuries in this community that are affecting these families. It's awful. You know, my staff is experiencing this up close with the loss of Gabe and the injuries of Pam and Ron. And I can't say enough about how difficult this has been for us.

And you know, the outpouring of support from Tucson and Arizona and all around the country is certainly helping as much as it can in this situation.

COOPER: Well, Pia, I appreciate you stopping to talk to us. I know it's been, obviously, just a nightmare for you all the last couple days, so I'll let you go. But I appreciate it, and please give our best to the congresswoman's family and all those you talk to on your staff. Thank you.

CARUSONE: I will. Thanks, Anderson.

COOPER: Want to bring you up to date on some of the other stories that we're following tonight. Joe Johns joins us with a "360 News & Business Bulletin" -- Joe.

JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, a report to the president from the commission on the BP oil spill is warning that another devastating spill could happen unless the government takes drastic steps. The report calls for more research, funding and oversight and suggests raising fines on oil companies and charging them for leases to drill off the coastline.

At least ten people have died in flash flooding in Australia. A wall of water crashed into a town 80 miles west of Brisbane. More than 24 hours later, 90 people remained missing, and flood alerts are still in effect with more than 6,500 homes at risk.

The wait is almost over. Verizon, the largest cell carrier in the country, is finally getting the iPhone. It will be available February 10, with preorders for Verizon customers starting a week before.

In the Michael Jackson criminal case, a judge has ruled there is sufficient evidence to try Dr. Conrad Murray for involuntary manslaughter, this despite a bombshell in today's hearing. The prosecution's expert witness admitted he made a math mistake when calculating how much Propofol was found in the pop star's stomach contents. That forced the prosecution to admit for the first time that Jackson may have self-administered the fatal does of anesthetic that killed him. The judge stripped Murray of his medical license until the trial is over.

At least 30 states are under a winter storm watch or warning today as the storm that has turned the South into a sheet of ice barrels up the eastern seaboard. The storm threatens to dump double- digit snowfalls in New York and Boston. And here's how snowy the country is right now. Florida is the only state in the lower 48 with no snow.

Boy, New York's gotten slammed, too, Anderson.

COOPER: Yes, I hear it's snowing quite a bit right now. We'll see if we all can get home tonight. Joe, thanks.

Ahead, people are still searching for a reason why birds have been falling from the sky all over the world. We'll tell you why one woman's reason has landed her on tonight's "RidicuList."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Time for tonight's "RidicuList." Tonight we're adding a new name. It's a name you probably haven't heard before, a woman named Cindy Jacobs. She says all those birds in Arkansas may have died because of the repeal of -- wait for it -- "Don't Ask, Don't Tell."

That's right. Gays serving openly in the military somehow equals massive avian fatalities. Now following the logic there? Maybe that's because, unlike Cindy Jacobs, you're not a self-proclaimed, quote, unquote, "respected prophet." That's what she calls herself, and she set to travel the world, spreading her message. Lucky for us, in the midst of all that traveling, Jacobs does have time to make some videos. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CINDY JACOBS, CLAIMS BIRD DEATHS CAUSED BY DON'T ASK, DON'T TELL REPEAL: It could be because we have said it's OK for people who commit these kind of acts to be recognized, you know, in our military for the first time in our history. There is a potential that there is something that actually happened in the land, where 100,000 drum fish died, and also where these birds just fell out of the air.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Now, there have been all kinds of theories about what killed those 5,000 birds in Arkansas. People have talked about the end of the world, UFOs, the government, you name it. Scientists -- if you want to listen to those crack pots -- have said it was probably a loud noise that started the birds and sent them flying into buildings. But, you know, a noise doesn't have to be loud, necessarily, to be startling. Take this, for instance.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JACOBS: According to biblical principles, a marriage is between a man and a woman. So we have to say, what happens when a nation makes a decision that is against God's principles? Well, often what happens is that nature itself will begin to talk to us.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: So nature itself will begin to talk to us. OK. I'm actually all for that. Sounds kind of fun. But when nature does begin to talk to us, let's hope it's more like from the movie "Babe."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is ridiculous, mom.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Nonsense. It's only your first try. But you're treating them like equals. They're sheep. They're inferior.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, they're not.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: You tell them, Babe.

As for Cindy Jacobs, well, she says she's a prophet, so I'm sure she won't mind ministering to the flock on the "RidicuList."

That's our report tonight. Thanks for watching. "PARKER SPITZER" is next. I'll see you tomorrow night at 9 Eastern.