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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
WHO: Cell Phones Might Cause Cancer; Congressman Twitter Scandal; Boy Brutally Killed by Syrian Authorities; Casey Anthony Murder Trial; Dining for a Purpose
Aired May 31, 2011 - 23:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening everyone.
We begin tonight "Keeping Them Honest" on a story that we've been out in front of from the beginning; vital news to anyone in these days for practically everyone who uses a cell phone.
Today, a World Health Organization panel took a fresh look at the medical research and concluded that cell phones are quote, "possibly carcinogenic" -- in simple English, they might cause cancer -- and putting the gadget most Americans carry and many of us practically live on into the same category as car exhaust and dry cleaning chemicals and the pesticide DDT.
The WHO report comes just days after our own 360 MD, Sanjay Gupta investigated serious questions about the current research on cell phones and cancer. Now here's a portion of Sanjay's report, which aired as recently as last night, foreshadowing today's stunning 180 from the WHO on cell phone safety.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): If you've ever put a cell phone to your ear, you should listen to what neurosurgeon Dr. Keith Black has to say.
DR. KEITH BLACK, NEUROSURGEON: There's no way to say that cell phone use is safe. I think that the public has a right to know that there could be a potential risk. The public generally assumes that if one is selling something on the market that we have had assurances that that device is safe.
GUPTA: To be clear, Dr. Black's message is at odds with headlines from the largest international study on cell phones and cancer. Their conclusion, little or no evidence cell phones are associated with brain tumors.
But if you look just one layer deeper into the appendix of that same study and you'll see something unsettling. It turns out participants in the study who use a cell phone for ten years or more had doubled the rate of brain glioma, a type of tumor.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: And that's precisely what triggered today's warning, a closer look at the existing studies. For example last year, Interphone, a 13-country study, found no overall higher risk of brain tumors but did find that people who used a cell phone for ten years or more had double the rate of a cancer called glioma, which is one of the most aggressive forms of brain cancer.
Other studies have been more reassuring. Some though, have caused new reasons for concern. Earlier this year, researchers using real time brain scans showed that less than an hour of cell phone use can increase brain activity in the area closest to the phone antenna.
It's important to point out that cell phone radiation is measured on the assumption that you don't -- and I repeat do not -- hold the phone right up to your ear. But who does -- who -- who does it that way? Phone makers recommend a half an inch or more.
For years, I, like most of you have probably pressed the phone against your ear. Well it turns out even the manufacturers of the phone recommend you don't do that. The studies are confusing and none is done using precisely the same way. So it's hard to draw conclusions.
And then there's this, make of it what you will, our medical producer Danielle Dellorto spoke recently to a researcher, Dr. Henry Lay of the University of Washington. Like the WHO, he's been reviewing cell phone studies. What he found is that in the studies not funded by the cell phone industry, 67 percent reported negative health effects like fertility problems, cancers and certain cognitive problems. But in studies that were funded by the cell phone industry, just 28 percent did.
Again, that's according to a respected long-time researcher on radiation and its effects on people. But like just about anything to do with the alleged cell phone cancer link, you can't draw any firm conclusions from that, just like the WHO couldn't draw a firm cancer connection from the studies they looked at.
They could only look for possibilities and reasons for concern. That's why the cell phone industry trade groups say the reports does not mean cell phones cause cancer, but "Keeping Them Honest" the report does say, "They might."
I sat down earlier tonight with 360 MD, Sanjay Gupta to put this all in perspective.
COOPER: So Sanjay, the World Health Organization has always assured consumers that cell phone radiation had no adverse health effects. Today it seems quite a different message that they're sending.
GUPTA: It very much does. And this is happening even as speak. What they're saying is that cell phone use and these electromagnetic waves that we've been talking about for some time now are -- they're going to classify that as a possible carcinogen.
Carcinogen means cancer-causing agent. So this is very different than what we've been hearing from the World Health Organization for some time. Where they said there just wasn't enough evidence.
Look, this is 31 scientists representing many different countries. They -- the lead on this was a -- is an epidemiologist and scientists out of the University of Southern California. They looked at existing studies, Anderson. Many of the ones that you and I have talked about, this wasn't new research.
They looked at the existing studies, including the very large Interphone studies and after lots of deliberation over more than a week's worth, they came to this conclusion, a possible carcinogen is how -- is how they're labeling it.
COOPER: What is a carcinogen? I mean other carcinogens are lead and chloroform, but the cell phone industry is coming out and saying and they are dismissing this -- this news, saying that coffee is also listed in this group.
GUPTA: Well, the way that they classify these things, they say there are things that are definite carcinogens you might guess, like for example tobacco, there are things that are probable carcinogens. This they're calling a possible carcinogen. And you're right, lead is in that category, chloroform is in that category. Gasoline exhaust is in that category.
With regard to coffee, I saw that, as well. You know there's over 200 things that are in this category. But coffee, they say, there was some concern that there might be an increase in bladder cancer as a result of coffee consumption, high coffee consumption.
But you're getting a little bit of an idea of the imperfections of the science here. You know, they can draw a cause and effect relationship. They're not saying that they've done that by any means.
But they are saying looking at all the relevant, existing studies, they are changing their stance. The World Health Organization is changing their stance and saying this is not something that we're going to say has absolutely no evidence, no merit whatsoever. We're saying this is a possible carcinogen and merits more study.
COOPER: So the U.S. government is also very firm in saying that they believe there's insufficient evidence to prove that cell phone radiation --
COOPER: -- poses a health risk. Do you think the WHO decision may now alter that that U.S. policy?
GUPTA: I think they might, Anderson. This is going to very interesting for us to watch. You know, we talk about the fact that the FCC says look, there's absolutely no risk, you don't even need to do anything extra to protect yourself, which we reported on a couple weeks ago. You know, the World Health Organization is a very legitimate body of scientists. Again, they represent scientists from all over the world. They all have -- you know, they all have a lot of legitimacy in this world, so I think it will be interesting how to see the FCC reacts to this and other organizations for that matter.
Again, they're not saying there's a cause-and-effect relationship here, but they're saying now that you know, this whole idea that it's possible but there's no evidence whatsoever, we're not saying that either. So this is a step in another direction for them.
COOPER: And it sounds like the bottom line here today is something that you've been reporting on this program for several weeks now that cell phones may -- the radiation may cause cancer. So what are -- what are the best ways to limit exposure?
GUPTA: Well, that's the interesting thing about this. There's so many things that we talk about on that list that you mention, they're more unavoidable. There aren't many things you can do to mitigate your risk. With this, what they say even in the -- in the pamphlets that come with cell phones, they say you should not hold a cell phone right next to your ear. They say you should be at least half inch to an inch away.
You could use an ear piece or wire your piece in this case is what I use. I think that by simply doing that, the amount of radiation drops off significantly the further and further away it is from your head.
We are talking about the brain here. Glioma is the concern, a type of brain cancer as well an acoustic neuroma, these are the things that they are most concerned about here. Move that cell phone away from your ear, use an ear piece like this, and you can greatly mitigate your risk.
COOPER: And I think that's really important. And when you told me that when we did this story I guess it was a week or two ago, I bought an ear piece and I've been using it since. Or I've been trying to text a lot and keeping the phone away from my body and not in my pocket like I normally would.
COOPER: But I don't think most people know that. I mean everybody you see on the street, they have the phone pressed up against their head and that's how I've been using it frankly for years.
GUPTA: Most people do. And I think that what's so interesting about this, Anderson, is we're seeing this sort of unfold real time. And we've -- we've talked about this a couple times over the last couple of weeks.
This World Health Organization decision, I don't think anybody knew exactly what they were going to say before we heard the announcement this afternoon. So this is unfolding. And I think as more and more people sort of learn about this. Again, the message is absolutely not saying don't use your cell phone. People are going to use their cell phone. The message is that there -- there's a possibility of a risk here and it's an easy one to address. Most people can address this pretty easily. And especially children, who likely will be using a cell phone for the rest of their lives, should think about this even more so.
COOPER: And studies have not been done on the effects of cell phone on children, right?
GUPTA: There have not, which I think is surprising. I mean a lot -- a lot of the concern is that the skin is thinner, the scalp, the bone is thinner. Could the effect be greater as a result?
COOPER: All right, so get an earphone if you can. Use that. Keep the cell phone at least --
GUPTA: Get you an ear piece, yes.
COOPER: -- keep the cell phone away from your body and away from your ear. Even if you don't have an ear phone, an ear piece, just keep it away if you're listening in our show. Sanjay, I appreciate it.
GUPTA: Thanks very much.
COOPER: Thanks very much.
GUPTA: You got it, Anderson. Thank you.
COOPER: All right, let us know what you think about it, we're on Facebook of course, or follow me on Twitter @AndersonCooper. I'll be tweeting some tonight.
Still ahead, we've seen a lot about rage or shocking images from Syria, but this is perhaps the worst. A 13-year-old boy reportedly tortured and murdered by the regime. His name is Hamza. His death has sparked renewed outrage across Syria. I know it's hard to take but we feel we owe it to this little boy to bear witness to what has happened to him. We'll talk with a human rights activist hiding in Syria right now.
Also, the revealing photographs sent from Congressman Anthony Weiner's Twitter account to a 21-year-old college student. He says he was hacked but he's now refusing to answer more questions and had a very heated exchange with our reporter today. We'll show you all of it but here's just a short part.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ANTHONY WEINER (D), NEW YORK: I'm going to have to ask that we follow some rules here and one of those is going to be, you ask questions, I do the answers. Does that seem reasonable?
DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I would love to get an answer.
WEINER: That would be reasonable, you do the question. That would be reasonable right, you do the questions. I do the answer and this jackass interrupts me?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: He was talking about our producer actually. More of that exchange ahead.
Isha Sesay is following other stories for us tonight -- Isha.
ISHA SESAY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, an incredibly dramatic day in the Casey Anthony trial. Cindy Anthony, Casey's mom, broke down on the stand. She practically collapsed. She had to ask the judge for a break.
Coming up, the 911 recording that made her fall apart.
COOPER: Tonight, the questions Democratic Congressman Anthony Weiner is refusing to answer about a lewd photograph sent from his Twitter account to a 21-year-old college student.
Conservative blogger, Andrew Breitbart broke the story on Friday. And the next day Weiner's office released this statement saying the Congressman's Twitter had been hacked; that he was a victim of a prank. Over the weekend, Weiner himself tweeted this --
"TiVo shot, FB hacked. Is my blender going to attack me next?"
The New York Congressman seemed to be making light of the situation but now he's hired a lawyer. His office said in a statement, "We've retained counsel to explore the proper next steps and to advise us on what civil or criminal actions should be taken. This was a prank. We are loath to treat it as more, but we are relying on professional advice."
Let's bring you up to speed on the details, the college student the lewd tweet was addressed to is Jeanette Cordova who in the past tweeted this, "I wonder what my boyfriend @RepWeiner is up to. In a statement to the "New York Daily News" Cordova admitted she's a fan of the Congressman and said Weiner began following her on Twitter a month or so ago.
But as for him being her boyfriend, not so much. According to her statement, which also said, "I have never met Congressman Weiner, though I am a fan. Contrary to the impression that I apparently gave him my tweet, I am not his girlfriend nor am I the wife, girlfriend or mistress of Barack Obama, Ray Allen or Cristiano Ronaldo, despite the fact that I have made similar assertions about them via Twitter." All right, so she says she wasn't being literal.
Still you can understand why reporters would want some answers from the Congressman himself. Today in a meeting he'd agreed to Weiner wasn't giving any answers.
Listen to this. It goes on for a while but it's interesting.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DANA BASH, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: You say that you were hacked, which is potentially a crime. So why haven't you asked the Capitol Police for any law enforcement to investigate?
WEINER: Look, this was a prank that I have now been talking about for a couple of days. I am not going to allow it to decide what I talk about for the next week or the next two weeks.
And so I'm not going to be giving you anything more about that today. I think I have been pretty responsive to you in the past.
BASH: But -- but with respect, you're here, which we -- which we appreciate, but you're not answering the questions.
Can you just say why you haven't asked law enforcement to investigate what you are alleging is a crime?
WEINER: You -- you know, Dana, if I was giving a speech to 45,000 people and someone in the back of the room threw a pie or yelled out an insult, would I spend the next two hours responding to that?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is --
WEINER: I would get back --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This --
WEINER: I would get back --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is not that situation.
WEINER: I would get back --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is not that situation, though. You --
WEINER: I would --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- you were --
WEINER: I would get back -- well, why don't you do it?
Do you want to do the briefing?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You were -- you said --
WEINER: Do you want to do the briefing, sir?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- from your Twitter account --
WEINER: Sir --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- that lewd picture was sent to a --
WEINER: Sir --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- a college student.
WEINER: Sir --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Answer the question.
Was it from you or not?
WEINER: Sir -- permit me -- permit me -- do you guys want me to finish my answer?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, this question -- this answer.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you send it or not?
WEINER: If I were giving a speech to 45,000 people and someone in the back threw a pie or yelled out an insult, I would not spend the next two hours of my speech responding to that pie or that insult. I would return to the things that I want to talk about to the audience that I wanted to talk to --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All you have to do is say no --
WEINER: -- and that is what I intend to do at this point.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All you have to do is say no to the question --
BASH: Can I -- let me -- let me try -- let me try this question.
The woman who allegedly got this Tweet or it was directed to, this 21- year-old college student in Seattle, she released a statement to the New York "Daily News" yesterday saying that you follow her on Twitter.
Is that true? Did you follow her on Twitter? And, if so, how did you find her and what was the reason?
WEINER: You know, I have, I think, said this a couple of ways and I'll say it again. I am not going to permit myself to be distracted by this issue any longer. You are free --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All you have to do is say no to that question --
WEINER: You are free -- you're very good at --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you're not following her on Twitter -- WEINER: Well --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- say no to the question.
WEINER: -- why don't you -- why don't you let me do the answers and you do the questions.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As soon as --
BASH: Congressman -- Congressman, you understand -- you understand that the -- what's going on here, the frustration. We appreciate you coming out here talking to us. You're smiling. You're -- you're cooperating. And that gives, you know, good optics. But you're not answering the question.
So can you answer --
WEINER: This is now --
BASH: -- even the most basic question.
WEINER: This is now day --
BASH: But you're saying the same thing over and over again --
WEINER: This is now day --
BASH: -- but you're not answering the question.
WEINER: -- this is now day three. You have statements that my office has put out --
BASH: But they don't answer the question.
WEINER: There are statements that I have had my office put out. And there are going to be people who are going to want -- look, this is the tactic. The guy in the back of the room who's throwing the pie or yelling out the insult wants that to be the conversation. I am --
BASH: But you were the one who --
WEINER: Dana, let me --
BASH: -- you were hacked.
WEINER: -- let me --
BASH: That you were hacked.
WEINER: Dana --
BASH: And that's -- and that's a criminal -- a potential crime.
WEINER: Dana -- Dana, let me -- I'm going to have to ask that we follow some rules here. And one of those will be you ask questions. I do the answers. Does that seem reasonable?
BASH: I would love to get an answer.
WEINER: That -- that --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A direct answer.
WEINER: That would be reasonable, you do the questions, I do the answers and this jackass interrupts me, how about that as a -- as the new -- the new rule of the game?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Congressman --
WEINER: Let -- let me --
WEINER: Let me just --
WEINER: Let me just --
BASH: Go ahead.
WEINER: Let me -- let me just -- just give you the answer. The objective of the person who is doing the mischief is to try to distract me from what I'm doing.
So for the last couple of days that has happened, I have made a decision I'm not going to let it happen today. I'm not going to let it happen tomorrow.
BASH: If this is the non-story that you -- that you say this is and a distraction --
WEINER: I didn't characterize --
BASH: Then you --
WEINER: I characterized it as a distraction.
WEINER: You -- I will --
BASH: Do you think that this --
WEINER: -- I will leave it to you to make the decision whether --
BASH: If you think this is just a distraction, you're a sophisticated guy. Why not just answer the questions and then you'll be done with it?
WEINER: I have been doing that for several days. Now, I choose --
BASH: (INAUDIBLE) didn't ask --
WEINER: -- now I choose --
BASH: -- so many questions that you didn't answer.
WEINER: -- now I choose -- I have been -- there are people here who apparently haven't read the statements. I assume that you have. So all I can tell you is this, that this is --
WEINER: -- this is akin, this is akin to someone deciding on day three or day four they want to continue talking about something that I consider a distraction and mimic the decision on how I'm going to deal with this. And the decision that I have made is I'm not going to permit it to distract me. I'm not going to permit it to -- to -- to continue on for three, four, five or six more days.
If that's not satisfactory to you, I apologize. But I think that what people really want to talk about are things like the debt limit vote tonight or things like -- like the -- the oppressive disparity between the very well-to-do in this country and people that don't have as much. Or the fact that it's more and more difficult being in the middle class in this country. That's what I'm here to work on.
Thank you, guys.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Senior congressional Dana Bash, who you saw in that interview, joins me now; along with senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin.
So Dana, what -- what questions has he not answered?
BASH: All of the ones you just heard -- heard me asking, Ted Barrett and others.
That -- this is that it's -- just, it's what is so weird about this, Anderson. It is so plausible that Anthony Weiner's Twitter account was hacked. It really is. I mean from the experts we have talked to it's very, very easy to do.
So the fact that he just won't answer some basic questions, just even say point-blank that it wasn't him, is -- was very weird.
BASH: -- over and over.
COOPER: So he has not said, he has not said that's not a picture of -- of my private parts? BASH: No. And earlier today, he actually came out and was very gracious and answered reporters' questions earlier in the day as well.
He was asked that question point-blank: is the picture of you? And he gave a similar answer to the one he gave over and over in the clip you just saw.
COOPER: And he wouldn't even say whether or not he was following this -- following her on Twitter, right?
BASH: Would not say -- no, she, the woman we're talking about, this 21-year-old college student, who was the recipient, the alleged recipient of this tweet, she actually said in her statement to "The New York Daily News" -- you showed part of it at the top of the program -- that Anthony Weiner was following her on Twitter.
So that's one of the questions you heard us try to ask. Is that true, and, if so, why would you were following her? Who knows? Maybe she sent some funny tweets. We all follow people for different reasons. He wouldn't answer that question. He kept talking about the 45,000 people in the room.
COOPER: Jeff, why would he secure an attorney? I mean I get why he would secure an attorney, obviously, but why wouldn't he contact the Capitol Police if, in fact, this was a hack?
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: I mean I can actually understand that.
First of all, hiring an attorney is of no significance, I think.
TOOBIN: He might be hiring an attorney to see it he wants to sue someone -- or -- it doesn't mean he did anything wrong that he hired an attorney.
The weird thing about this story is that he started out being very open and treating it as a joke. And now in this sort of hilarious interview with Dana and Ted Barrett, he's acting like a perp. I mean he's acting like someone who has something to hide which, of course, extends -- extends the story and suggests he had something to hide.
In his defense, I think we do need to point out that the person behind this is Andrew Breitbart, who has made a practice of targeting Democrats -- Shirley Sherrod most notoriously of all. And his stories tend to fall apart on close inspection.
Here, unfortunately or fortunately, depending how -- your perspective, Weiner doesn't really seem to be ending the story. He seems to be extending it.
COOPER: And Dana, I mean even though just one tweet, if he called the Capitol Police or his office did and asked them to look into it they would do that, right?
BASH: Absolutely. That is absolutely the protocol here on Capitol Hill.
I talked to law enforcement sources, who are very familiar with the protocol here, and they said that if -- it would not be unusual for a member of Congress -- this isn't just an average person -- it's a member of Congress who felt that their account was hacked. If they called the Capitol Police and said, please look into this, I want to know who did this, they would do it.
And I should also note that a spokesman for the FBI, who would also be a potential place that would investigate -- it's a member of Congress -- they also said that Congressman Weiner has not called to ask for an investigation at all, which is -- as you saw in the questioning, we were asking that.
Well, if you're saying that you were hacked why not get to the bottom of who did it?
So, he says that it was a prank and he wants to leave it alone and he wants to move on. But that -- it was just a little odd that he wouldn't answer that question.
TOOBIN: It's also far from clear that, even if he was hacked, there was a crime committed here.
I mean as far as I'm aware, there's never been a criminal prosecution based on impersonating -- impersonating someone on Twitter. And if Weiner actually sent this lewd photo, I don't think that's a crime either. I mean it's probably bad taste. It certainly was an obscene photo.
But I just don't think there is a -- this is really a law enforcement matter. It's really a political matter. And he's handling it how he's handling it.
BASH: It is.
COOPER: And Dana, do you get the sense -- do you get the sense that his strategy is just kind of waiting this out and that -- thinking it will just go away?
BASH: Absolutely. That's what it seems to be.
And he's very cognizant of, as I said, the optics of this story. Earlier today, he actually came out to the cameras, talked to another one of our producers, and was answering some questions. And he walked away and she started to ask another follow-up question. And he came back and he actually said, I want to come back because I don't want you to have a shot of me walking away from the camera.
And today, he came -- he came over to us and to other reporters, very carefully doing so. He even went to his office and put on a tie. He doesn't want to look like he's running away from this. He is absolutely coming and talking to us.
It's just that what he's saying is not answering some -- some basic questions about what all went down, and as you have both pointed out, raising more questions by doing that.
COOPER: Dana Bash, I appreciate it today; Jeff -- Jeff Toobin as well. Thanks very much.
Up next: Syrians rallying around a 13-year-old boy and against the brutal regime that they believed tortured him to death. And it's not just Syrians -- tough talk from Secretary of State Clinton about this boy, what happened to him. We'll talk with Razan Zaytouni, a woman who is in hiding right now in Syria.
Later: a searing day in the Casey Anthony murder trial; Casey's mom, Caylee's grandmother, breaking down on the stand. Nancy Grace and defense attorney Mark Geragos join me with two very different perspectives on the case.
COOPER: "Keeping Them Honest" tonight, more evidence that Syria's dictatorship is abducting, torturing and murdering its own children. Children like Hamza Ali al-Khateeb, 13 years old, taken by security forces at a protest rally last month. Now his family had no word for a month about their little boy. Imagine that -- the government taking your child and for a month you not having any information about him.
Then the government returned Hamza to his family. They returned him dead. The terribly mutilated body was given to the family last week.
Now, we're going to show you some pictures; we're blurring them but they're definitely difficult to look at. So I want to give you a warning right now. It's hard to watch but we think it's important to know what happened to this little boy and what is no doubt happening to others in custody right now.
This is how Hamza's body came home, multiple gunshot wounds, cigarette burns covering his body, his genitals mutilated. A pathologist who did the autopsy saying that what you see is simply the result of the body decomposing. It's not. It just isn't.
Today, Hamza's ordeal drew sharp words from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILLARY CLINTON, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: I too was very concerned by the reports about the young boy. In fact, I think what that symbolizes for many Syrians is the total collapse of any effort by the Syrian government to work with and listen to their own people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: According to reports, this little boy's kneecaps were shattered, his penis was cut off. Their own people are saying, "Enough," risking their own lives to do it because they say Hamza is not the only child tortured and killed then returned to his family. The aim: apparently to terrorize.
The same thing happened to an 18-year-old with learning disabilities. This is the Assad regime's MO. We have seen this time and time again.
Today, the dictator Bashar al-Assad declared an amnesty for protesters -- that's what their government is calling it -- an amnesty. But the amnesty is really no definition of amnesty you or I would ever use or understand. Amnesty for them is you get life at hard labor instead of death.
He also recently said that security forces have made some mistakes handling the uprising. Well, none of this is a mistake. Nor is keeping CNN and other media out of the country just a mistake -- it's part of a plan.
For weeks though, activist Razan Zaytouni has been our window into Syria. She's neither afraid to use her real name or to speak out even though she is in constant danger.
COOPER: Razan, when you saw the video of little Hamza's body, were you as shocked as the rest of the world is shocked or is this what you've come to expect from the Assad regime?
RAZAN ZAYTOUNI, HUMAN RIGHTS ACTIVIST: I should separate between as an activist and I've been working as a human rights activist for the last ten years, I wasn't shocked. We've heard a lot of stories like this.
As a human being for sure nobody can look at such a picture and such a crime committed for such children and not be shocked.
COOPER: It doesn't make any sense, though. Why would a regime do this to a 13-year-old child?
ZAYTOUNI: Such things have always happened in Syria. But nobody wanted to believe it at that time. Human rights organizations have always talked about tragic crimes, about also torture, even for children. I remember many, many other stories like this during last year. Not even during the last decades -- even before. But at that time, the world didn't want to hear and didn't want to see anything.
Anyway, by practicing this awful torture against the prisoners they want to send messages to the whole Syrians, that this is what you will have when you continue your protest and your movement.
It's a strong message. They want everybody to get scared about continuing.
COOPER: Today President Assad, the dictator in Syria, announced that he's granting what he calls amnesty to protesters accused of committing crimes. That's been the headline around the world that Assad is offering amnesty. But when you look at the definition of what he's calling amnesty, it's not amnesty as everybody else and the rest of the world knows it.
He's basically just reducing punishment. Instead of getting the death penalty, you get a life sentence at a labor camp. I mean does anybody believe that in Syria when they hear that he's offering amnesty?
ZAYTOUNI: First of all, our prisoners are not criminals and we refuse to use the word "amnesty". We are not criminals to have amnesty from anybody. The regime who should ask for an amnesty from its own people for the crimes it committed against them during the last two months, this is from one side.
From another side, yes, they might release some prisoners just because of all the pressure now on the regime from the street and from the international society. But what for if they will arrest more and more people tomorrow. Only two hours after the decree was issued, dozens of youth, of young people got arrested in the al-Midan (ph) in Damascus today after they participated in peaceful protests there.
So it means nothing if they will continue to arrest more people.
COOPER: Razan Zaytouni, stay strong. Thank you for being us.
COOPER: Tonight on "Crime and Punishment": high drama in the Casey Anthony murder trial. The trial started just last week in Orlando, Florida. 25-year-old Casey, as you know, is charged with first-degree murder in the death of her 2-year-old daughter Caylee back in 2008.
From the opening statement, it's been pretty much bombshell after bombshell, starting with the defense's statement that Caylee wasn't murdered but instead accidentally drowned in the family's pool and both Casey and her father covered it up.
Today Casey's mother, Cindy Anthony, was on the stand sobbing as jurors heard a 911 call she made after Casey admitted to her that she hadn't seen 2-year-old Caylee in 31 days.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CINDY ANTHONY, CASEY ANTHONY'S MOTHER: We're talking about a 3-year- old little girl.
911 OPERATOR: 4937 what?
ANTHONY: H-o-p-e S-p-r-i-n-g Drive Orlando. My daughter finally admitted that the baby (INAUDIBLE)
I need to find her.
911 OPERATOR: Your daughter admitted that the baby is where?
ANTHONY: That the babysitter took her a month ago; that my daughter has been looking for her. I told you my daughter was missing for a month. I just found her today but I can't find my granddaughter. And she just admitted to me that she's been trying to find her, herself. (END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, there have been a lot of lies in this case, a lot of dramatic moments that's had incredible twists around turns from the very beginning.
Tom Foreman tonight reports.
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In the Florida courtroom where Casey Anthony's life is at stake, an electric moment. Her lawyer describes her father, George Anthony, finding his 2-year-old granddaughter, Caylee, drowned in a swimming pool.
JOSE BAEZ, CASEY ANTHONY'S DEFENSE ATTORNEY: She immediately grabbed Caylee and began to cry and cry and cry. And shortly thereafter, George began to yell at her, "Look what you've done. Your mother will never forgive you and you will go to jail for child neglect for the rest of your freaking life."
FOREMAN: The defense says it was the culmination of a lifetime of sexual abuse and secrets.
BAEZ: And it all began when Casey was 8 years old and her father came into her room and began to touch her inappropriately.
FOREMAN: That's the reason, they say, Casey Anthony joined in a cover up.
BAEZ: This is not a murder case. This is not a manslaughter case. This is a tragic accident that happened to some very disturbed people.
FOREMAN: But the prosecution and even Casey Anthony's own parents say it's just not true. No accidental drowning, no cover up, no sexual abuse.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Have you ever sexually molested your daughter, Casey Anthony?
GEORGE ANTHONY, FATHER OF CASEY ANTHONY: No, sir.
FOREMAN: Prosecutors paint the accused woman as a cunning, self- centered killer, who suffocated her child with chloroform and duct tape, stuffed her into a laundry bag and dumped her in a swamp. Then went on a month long spree of partying, drinking, even entering a hot body contest at a nightclub while her family wondered where the little girl had gone.
LINDA DRANE-BURDICK, PROSECUTOR: No one else lied to their friends, to their family, to investigators. No one else benefitted from the death of Caylee Marie Anthony. Caylee's death allowed Casey Anthony to live the good life, at least for those 31 days.
FOREMAN: The challenge for the defense is making sense of Casey Anthony's own behavior. Prosecutors say her computer was used for Google searches on chloroform, neck breaking and shovels. They say she concocted an elaborate story about how the girl was with a nanny, giving a name, talking about when she would see the child -- all, according to prosecutors, a fabrication.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did she ever seem sad that she did not see her?
ROY "CLINT" HOUSE, WITNESS: Her demeanor never changed. She was the same person.
FOREMAN: Taped conversations with family members are also in evidence -- this one with her brother.
CASEY ANTHONY, ACCUSED OF KILLING DAUGHTER: There's nothing to find out. There's absolutely nothing to find out. If I knew where Caylee was, do you think any of this would be happening? No.
FOREMAN: This one with her mother.
CINDY ANTHONY: If anything happened to Caylee, Casey, I'll die. Do you understand? I'll die if anything happened to my baby.
CASEY ANTHONY: Oh, my God, calling you guys, a waste -- huge waste.
FOREMAN: And then there is this.
G. ANTHONY: I got within three feet of my daughter's car, and the worst odor that you could possibly smell in this world. And I've smelled that odor before. It smelled like a decomposed body.
FOREMAN: Some witnesses describe a different person, a caring mother close to her child.
MALLORY PARKER, LEE ANTHONY'S FIANCE: It was amazing. Casey and Caylee had a very special bond.
FOREMAN: But which version of Casey Anthony the jurors buy will determine her fate.
Tom Foreman, CNN.
COOPER: Well, HLN's Nancy Grace has been following this case from the beginning. I spoke to her earlier, along with criminal defense attorney Mark Geragos.
COOPER: Nancy, the prosecution doesn't have a motive, and they don't have a cause of death. Aren't those the kind of two biggest problems that they're facing?
NANCY GRACE, HLN HOST: Well, Anderson, as you well know, the state doesn't have to prove motive at all. How are we, the state, supposed to crawl into somebody's mind, especially a defendant on trial for murder, and to determine what they're thinking? But as a practical reason, they do need to show that to the jury.
However, I think they are showing motive, Anderson. By all the problems tot mom had finding babysitters, she couldn't pay for them. The resentment between her and her parents was mounting when they couldn't take care of Caylee every night. And it got to the point where the prosecution will allege her babysitter was home-made chloroform.
COOPER: Mark, to you, is the lack of motive, is the lack of -- particularly maybe even more important, the cause of death a big problem for the prosecution?
MARK GERAGOS, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: I think the cause of death is potentially fatal for the prosecution. But in terms of the motive, when Nancy says you can't crawl into the mind, the prosecution has to crawl into the mind. In order to do a murder prosecution, you have to have malice, and malice is what is the defendant's state of mind. So that's exactly what you're focused on.
You have to, number one, prove a manner and cause of death, or at least if you can't do that, you've got to give the jury some kind of a credible story as to what happened. So this is -- you know, the prosecution has an uphill battle, I think; other than the fact that they're going to resort to what I affectionately call the character assassination evidence.
COOPER: Nancy, are they assassinating her character? It seems like the defense is kind of doing that to her parents.
GRACE: Yes, Anderson, they are. As a matter of fact in the last hours, tot mom's mother Cindy Anthony has been on the stand doubled over in tears as she was cross-examined by the defense. And interestingly, Anderson, her own daughter, tot mom, looked on as if she didn't even know who Cindy Anthony was, completely stone-faced.
And in response to Mr. Geragos, anyone that's been watching the testimony and been in the courtroom knows the state has already established motive and certainly a jury is not going to give a gold star to a defendant that manages to hide a 2-year-old's body until it rots and decomposes beyond a determination of cause of death.
Believe me, tot mom has told so many lies the cause of death is going to pale in comparison to the rest of the testimony.
COOPER: Mark, when you have a client who has told numerous fabrications to law enforcement and led law enforcement on -- I mean literally led them to an office building she no longer worked in, claiming she was working there, isn't her credibility a huge problem for her defense?
GERAGOS: Of course. I mean credibility is something that's going to always be a problem for any defendant, because that's what prosecutors do. Prosecutors lay out the defendant. They try to get a jury to believe that somebody who lies, therefore you're going to make the leap to therefore they're a murderer. When Nancy says motive has already been proven, I would challenge that. First, Nancy's argument is that they don't need to prove a motive, and now it's abundant that they prove the motive because she couldn't get a babysitter. The fact remains that the prosecution, if the jury is focused on the evidence, has to show how did she die or give us a credible explanation as to how she died and the manner of death and the cause of death. That's criminal law 101.
I understand that if you don't like the person, the easy way out of this is to demonize the defendant. I mean that's nothing new. But by demonizing the defendant, that's not supposed to supply any kind of evidence or lack of evidence that you've got if you're the prosecutor.
GRACE: Anderson, I hardly think that tot mom's own computer searches back in March when Caylee goes missing in June for: how do you make homemade chloroform, how do you make weapons out of household items, how do you break someone's neck. These are her computer searches. And then chloroform turns up in toxic levels in her trunk. Chloroform is found at the scene where the dead body is.
That's hardly character assassination -- that is hard evidence, Anderson.
COOPER: Mark, is that hard evidence?
GERAGOS: Well, look, all of these things that are supposedly out there, until they get into a courtroom and you see them in a courtroom; you understand what it is, until they've been cross- examined. I don't think -- I don't buy any of it until you see it and the jury is not going to buy any of it until they see it.
GRACE: Well, nobody is trying to sell it to you, Geragos.
GERAGOS: Look, nobody is trying to -- all they're trying to do, and when Nancy starts calling her tot mom and starts making fun of her and starts doing all the others, it's just part of the demonization of the defendant.
COOPER: Nancy, the defense attorney has been questioning Casey Anthony's father, George Anthony very aggressively -- the allegation -- making allegations against him that he basically abused Casey Anthony. Why would that play into this case?
GRACE: I think the defense would have had a very good opportunity, Anderson, if they had stuck with a straight accidental defense. If tot mom said she drowned on my watch, it was my fault and then I panicked. I didn't want to tell my mother and I set it up to look like a murder. As crazy as that may sound to the jury, that's what I did. I think she would have had an actual shot at a lesser included offense, like voluntary manslaughter.
But Anderson, by claiming the reason I didn't tell anybody was because my father and brother molested me and then you put George Anthony on the stand and he's extremely credible and believable, you've got to decide who you believe, tot mom or George Anthony. That's what it's going to boil down to. COOPER: Mark Geragos, Nancy Grace, thank you very much.
COOPER: Up next, "Building up America". We'll take you inside no ordinary restaurant where feeding the hungry is taken to a new level.
COOPER: Here's something you don't hear very often, a non-profit restaurant. That's exactly what you're going to find in Charlotte, North Carolina where diners help strangers in need and in turn help their community thrive.
Here's Tom Foreman with tonight's "Building up America" report.
FOREMAN: In busy downtown Charlotte, by lunchtime folks had built up an appetite so at the King's Kitchen Restaurant, that's when the real building begins because Chef Jim Noble's goal every day is to help his diners help their community.
CHEF JIM NOBLE, KING'S KITCHEN: And I think everybody wants to help. They just don't know how.
FOREMAN: Noble is one of the state's most renowned chefs and deeply religious. So he opened the King's Kitchen a year and a half ago as a non-profit restaurant. The money made here goes to programs that feed the poor throughout the community. Last year, $50,000.
Mindful of recessionary pitfalls that could derail this effort the chef started by raising enough donations to open without any loans.
NOBLE: This is not the best time in the world to get in debt in a restaurant, you know. So -- so we wanted to do this debt-free.
Number five. And what does that say?
FOREMAN: The restaurant also offers job training for jobless people, folks such as Philip Lewis who joined the program less than two months ago when he heard about it at church.
PHILIP LEWIS: I've got more than I've asked for here. Faith, finances, everything I needed this place has given me. It's a life- changing place. No matter where you are in your life and it brings something positive to it that wasn't there before. FOREMAN: Sure, this non-profit restaurant competes with Chef Noble's for-profit places but he has faith there is room for all.
NOBLE: Sometimes in life you have to make a distinction between success and significance.
FOREMAN: And for him, the significance lies in knowing every plate that goes out of the kitchen here means poor people are being fed all over town. Tom Foreman, CNN, Charlotte, North Carolina.
COOPER: It's a great project. We'll be right back.
COOPER: Time for our "Beat 360" winners. Our daily challenge to viewers; a chance to show up our staffers by coming up with a better caption for the photo we put on the blog every day.
Tonight's photo, former Republican vice presidential candidate and Alaska governor Sarah Palin and her family in the Pentagon parking lot as Palin prepares to take part in the Rolling Thunder motorcycle ride over the weekend. The staff winner tonight is Ben, his caption, "Henry Winkler a.k.a. "The Fonz" explains to Sarah Palin why he'd be a great running mate."
Viewer winner is Stephanie. Her caption, "The 'fire in my belly' is really just indigestion from lunch at the biker bar." Stephanie congratulations. Your "Beat 360 T-shirt" is on the way.
That does it for 360. Thanks for watching.
"PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT" starts now.
I'll see you tomorrow.