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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Unrest Grows in Syria; Congress to Vote on Libya Mission
Aired June 20, 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: Good everything, everyone.
Breaking news tonight: late word, new word that Syria is getting help killing its own people. Crackdowns like this on protesters are made possible in part by the rising involvement of Iran in Syria. Iran is helping, according to U.S. officials, by training the killers, sending personnel, keeping weapons flowing into Syria, even supplying riot gear.
One official telling us some of the evidence is coming from American electronic eavesdropping. That same official saying that Iran is also supporting other potential leaders in Syria, in case dictator Bashar Assad is toppled from power. Assad spoke today in Damascus, but for anyone who still hoped he might change direction, he quickly made it clear he had nothing to offer but the same promises of reform he's been making and breaking for years.
What's more, he blamed the chaos on foreign agitators and what he described as a virtual army of rampaging criminals. He said there are about 64,000 dangerous fugitives in Syria. Imagine, he said, what damage could be caused if a few thousands wanted to carry weapons and engage in sabotage.
So, let's just look at that statement. "Keeping Them Honest," Syria is a police state and it has been for decades. The idea that 64,000 anti-government thugs have been wandering the streets for years leading up to this is simply impossible to believe. And, of course, Assad offered no evidence.
The notion that is what is happening now is because thousands of Syrians were somehow able to get weapons and launch attacks is not only unproven. It's totally contradicted by every piece of video we have seen for months. We have seen government tanks. We have seen soldiers and security officials shoot at unarmed protesters.
Take a look at these protesters trying to cross a street cornered by gunfire. Look, you see flags, you see fear, you see courage, perhaps, but not a single firearm, as people just try to cross the street.
You see people like this gunned down in the middle of the street while fellow protesters duck sniper bullets and desperately try to pull a person to safety. The scene continued on and on, until finally people on the other side of the street emerged from the doorway and helped. So, these are the people that Assad is calling armed thugs. They're not firing back at the snipers. They're pulling this person inside with what looks like a rope or a cable wire of some kind, no weapons, no arms in sight. We have seen some slingshots, some rocks being thrown by protesters, some armed with sticks even. A few may have some guns, but tens of thousands of armed gang members? There's simply no evidence.
We have seen evidence of torture, however, and murder from the regime. There's a 13-year-old boy named Hamza reportedly mutilated and tortured, his body broken, sent back to his family as a warning to others. As for the foreign agitators, conspirators, religious fanatics and other enemies that Assad pointed to, do these look like them?
Across Syria, thousands did turn out today after Assad spoke to loudly, but peacefully, call for him to go. And as for weapons, they each had two, shoes, dangerous only in their cultural power in the Arab world to inflict shame.
I spoke a few moments ago about the crackdown in Syria and Iran's support of it with Professor Fouad Ajami of the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies and the Hoover Institution, also with national security contributor Frances Townsend, currently a member of the Department of Homeland Security and CIA External Advisory Committee.
COOPER: So, Fouad, the fact that Iran is aiding the regime of Bashar al-Assad, not really a surprise, I suppose, but really confirmation of just the nature of this regime.
FOUAD AJAMI, PROFESSOR OF MIDDLE EASTERN STUDIES, JOHNS HOPKINS SCHOOL OF ADVANCED INTERNATIONAL STUDIES: Well, this is it. This is the radical access in the region. It is Iran. It has this access. It's Damascus. It rides with Iran, and that it's Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in the Palestinian territories. This is the gang.
COOPER: And, Fran, what do we know about the type of Iran's influence within Syria?
FRANCES TOWNSEND, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CONTRIBUTOR: Well, it has gone on for decades.
There's a close personal relationship between Bashar al-Assad and Ahmadinejad, but the two countries -- Iran has been shipping weapons into Syria, supporting Hezbollah with money and arms for decades and threatening Israel. So, this is not a surprise. This is -- this is the patron to whom Syria looks to when they need this kind of support. And obviously now they're getting it.
COOPER: And for a regime which claims that they're just going after armed thugs, I mean, Iran -- the lesson from Iran is, they go after their own people. They go after peaceful protesters. Syria -- clearly, Syria is doing the same thing. AJAMI: Well, clearly. The Syrians can be inspired by what the Iranians did in the summer of 2009. The Iranians faced a revolution of their own, a popular revolution, a bourgeois movement, a middle class movement. They crushed it and never looked back.
COOPER: Why do you think Assad continues -- he's now made this speech. You have the speech multiple times.
AJAMI: Yes. Yes.
COOPER: He's making the same vague promises about reforms that he made back in 2000, when he came into power.
AJAMI: Well, I think, look, Bashar al-Assad came out now to speak to his people after 50 days. And it is a remarkable speech. Finally, he got a chance to use his medical training. He actually equates the dangers that Syria now faces to germs.
And he says what you need to do now is, the body needs to build immunity. This is the solution he had. And then he offers his people -- as he hunts them down, as he sends his helicopter gunships after them, as he kills them, as he sends thousands across the border to Turkey, he then speaks to them of election and speaks to them of reform.
And they answered him in the only language that he understands, with more of the same demonstration, with more of the same unrest.
COOPER: And, Fran, the idea that, you know, he's claiming there are tens of thousands of germ, of armed gangs, groups, and that -- this is what we have heard from them for months now, blaming these armed gangs.
Syria is a police state. The idea that there are tens of thousands of armed thug gangs who aren't affiliated with the government who are against the government is just absurd.
TOWNSEND: It is absurd. And, look, Anderson, he -- Bashar al- Assad lacks absolute credibility, not only around the world and with the international community, but with his own people.
If there was an ounce of honesty or integrity to the speech, it would have begun by saying, I'm going to pull back the Syrian military forces who are at the moment slaughtering the Syrian people and I'm going to investigate the sort of abuses that the military has visited upon the Syrian people.
But he can't do that because, of course, he's ordered those abuses, and so this is -- this is just further evidence. It is sort of delusional, if you ask me. He makes this statement, but it's clear -- it clearly lacks any truth or sincerity.
COOPER: Fouad, you talked about the Arab silence on Friday.
AJAMI: Yes. Yes. COOPER: We have now heard from the Arab League. And they have basically said that the U.N. shouldn't get involved, that outside powers shouldn't be getting involved in the internal affairs of Syria.
AJAMI: Surprise, surprise.
In fact, this is the consistent position of the Arab League. The tyrants don't like to -- they don't like intervene with other tyrants. In fact, the exception to the rule was the fact that the Arab League ganged up on Moammar Gadhafi, and it did so because he's a brigand. It did so because he had really insulted every player in the region.
With the Syrian regime, it's very different. And I think Bashar must be really feeling all right on some level. And I'll tell you how. He now knows or suspects that there will be no Security Council resolution against him. He understands fully now that there is no Arab position against him. And he understands it's his killer brigades, his army against unarmed people.
And when he says to the refugees in Turkey, come home, there will be no revenge against you, no one really believes him.
COOPER: So what happens? He can just continue to do this?
AJAMI: Well, I think this is really for the long haul. This is not really the end of this confrontation. The people of Syria are done with this man, but they can't overthrow him. This man wishes to frighten the Syrian people into submission, and they will not submit to his tyranny.
So I think this is really kind of a drawn-out confrontation. The Syrian economy is in ruins. And I think the international community, if there is seriousness, perhaps there should be sanctions that really bite, not sanctions against Syria, but sanctions against the regime's sources of money, oil and natural gas, to really hurt the Assads themselves, to hurt the ruling gang.
COOPER: Fran, it does seem like it can go on and on like this for a long time. He can't stop the protests because the people are brave and are -- have tossed aside their fear. And, yet, they're not powerful enough to overthrow him at this point.
TOWNSEND: No, that's right.
And I will tell you, having seen a series of increasingly harsh sanctions put against Syria and individual members of the regime, that doesn't seem to be enough in and of itself to push him, push the regime over the edge and topple it. And so with the Arab -- other Arab countries being silent, the international community, especially NATO being tied down now in Libya, one can foresee this going on for protract -- continuing for a protracted period of time.
And what that means, Anderson, regrettably, is going to be more deaths of Syrian people.
COOPER: More murders. Fran Townsend, thank you.
Fouad Ajami, thank you.
AJAMI: Thank you very much.
COOPER: Let us know what you think. We're on Facebook. Follow me on Twitter @AndersonCooper. I will be tweeting, if I can.
Up next: one congressman's interesting theory about why President Obama got the country involved in Syria. He claims a slip of the tongue by Mr. Obama is perhaps a clue to his motives. You can hear for yourself and decide for yourself ahead.
Plus: why the judge in the Casey Anthony trial is so upset with both sides, he gave them all a time-out, essentially, pulling the plug on proceedings today. And what about the so-called surprise witness? New developments there as well -- "Crime & Punishment" tonight.
COOPER: New action in the works in Congress aimed at curbing America's involvement in Libya. GOP sources say that House Republican leaders will likely hold votes to limit funding for the operation.
There is, in fact, bipartisan dissatisfaction with President Obama's decision not to seek authorization from Congress under the War Powers Resolution. We're going to talk about that in a moment, but there was an interesting moment in the debate on the floor of the House in the middle of discussion on the War Powers Act.
Congressman Louie Gohmert, a Republican of Texas, took to the floor and accused the Obama administration of helping those who want to destroy America.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. LOUIE GOHMERT (R), TEXAS: I know the president made the mistake one day of saying that he had visited all 57 states. And I'm well aware that there are not 57 states in this country, although there are 57 members of OIC, the Islamic states in the world.
Perhaps there was some confusion whether he had been to all 57 Islamic states, as opposed to all 50 U.S. states. But, nonetheless, we have an obligation to the 50 American states, not the 57 Muslim Islamic states, that our oath we took is in this body in this House.
And it's to the people of America. And it's not to the Muslim Brotherhood, who may very well take over Egypt, and once they do, they are bent upon setting up a caliphate around the world, including the United States. And this administration will have been complicit in helping people who want to destroy our country out of the ignorance to think, if you help your enemies, they're going to like you better.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, Congressman Gohmert's implication is, insinuation is that, when Mr. Obama mentioned the 57 states, he somehow let a pro- Islam agenda slip.
So, just before we go any further, here's what the congressman was referring to, something that then candidate Obama said back in 2008.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Over the last 15 months, we have traveled to every corner of the United States. I have now been in 57 states, I think, one left to go, one left to go. Alaska and Hawaii, I wasn't allowed to go to, even though I wanted to visit, but my staff wouldn't justify it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Anyway, that's a very tired candidate Obama in the middle of a campaign swing. Earlier, he had misspoken about something else.
And, later, while trying to explain his misstatements, he started rambling until an aide cut him off and sent reporters away -- reports at the time saying Mr. Obama was tired from nonstop campaigning.
Congressman Gohmert seems to believe the candidate was slipping in references 57 Islamic states in the world. You can decide for yourself whether you think that's true.
Congressman Gohmert is not new to exotic theories, you might say. You might remember the terror baby conspiracy he announced on the House floor last year.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOHMERT: I talked to a retired FBI agent who said that one of the things they were looking at were terrorist cells overseas who had figured out how to game our system, and it appeared they would have young women who became pregnant, would get them into the United States to have a baby.
They wouldn't even have to pay anything for the baby. And then they would return back where they could be raised and coddled as future terrorists. And then, one day, 20, 30 years down the road, they could be sent in to help destroy our way of life, because they have figured out how stupid we're being in this country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, "Keeping Them Honest" we confronted the congressman back then about his terror baby theory, but he offered no proof, no evidence and he could not identify his source.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) COOPER: So, before going on the House floor and spreading this story, did you -- did you call the FBI?
GOHMERT: You are going to keep me honest? You tell the world that you got an FBI statement. You bring on a retired FBI former supervisor, and he says, we were not aware of any credible report that this was going on?
I brought it to the attention of America for this reason. It was -- I'm a former judge, and I know...
COOPER: Did you bring it to the attention of the FBI? Did you call the FBI? That's my question.
GOHMERT: She first brought in my attention on an -- she brought it to my attention on an airplane, having flown together, and she brought that to my attention.
That's why I was talking to the retired FBI agent about it. And, so, having talked to him, no, I didn't talk to them, because the point is, when we did the research, we found the hole existed.
COOPER: What research? Could you tell us about the research?
GOHMERT: ... you are attacking the messenger. Anderson, you are better than this. You used to be good. You used to find that there was a problem, and you would go after it.
COOPER: Sir, I am just asking you for evidence of something you said on the floor of the House.
GOHMERT: And, sure, I speak with a Southern accent.
I did. And you listen. This is a problem. If you had spent as much time looking into the problem as you have been trying to come after me and belittle me this week, you would have found out that there are people in the world...
COOPER: Sir, do you want to offer any evidence? I'm giving you an opportunity to say what research and evidence you have. You've offered none, other than yelling.
GOHMERT: Do you ever look at your Web site? Do you ever look at your Web site? Do you?
COOPER: The FBI says this is just not happening. You are just spreading scare stories. This is completely about politics.
GOHMERT: It is happening. It is happening.
COOPER: Where? Give me some evidence. Tell me one person, one terror baby that's been born. Can you tell me?
GOHMERT: The explosions will not happen for 10, 15, 20 years, and then you will be one of those blips. I'm not comparable to Winston Churchill, but the detractors like you are comparable to his detractors.
GOHMERT: He tried to tell people these things were going on.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Bottom line, no evidence. And the FBI said it wasn't happening.
Back the, he did come on the program, which we appreciated. He declined our invitation tonight.
So, the story tonight that we want to look at, as strange as Congressman Gohmert's theory may be, is, there is a serious discussion about the War Powers Resolution.
Want to bring in Dana Bash and also our David Gergen, senior political analyst.
Dana, whatever the argument Gohmert was trying to make here, there's a real issue, a real debate over this War Powers Resolution. What's the latest in terms of the votes in the House, the votes on Capitol Hill about this?
DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, House GOP sources, Anderson, tell us that they will try to limit U.S. involvement in the Libya mission by using Congress' power to limit the funding for it, probably, we're told according to Republican leadership sources, something this week.
Leadership -- the House Republican leadership hadn't settled on a strategy yet. But we're told to look for a vote or a series of votes on Thursday. And one example, one potential option, I'm told, is to say no funding may be used for ground troops in Libya. Well, Anderson, anyone watching who knows about the Libyan mission will say, wait a minute, there aren't any ground troops in Libyan.
But Republican sources say that that would be one way to prevent things from escalating there and also -- this is key -- provide a way for lawmakers to really channel their frustration with the way the president has handled this, not coming to Congress for authorization, for example.
And, actually, Republican leaders are looking for a middle ground here. They're worried about growing support in both parties to completely cut off funding and force the U.S. to abandon the mission. So they're looking for a way around that for a restive caucus to vote for something.
COOPER: David, why is the Obama administration so resistant to go to Congress and try to just get authorization for the action?
DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think for a couple of reasons. They honestly don't think they're involved in -- quote -- "hostilities."
Now, the rest of the world thinks that when the drones, American drones hit, those are hostilities. But they don't. And if they went and asked for authorization, they think they would be asking for authorization for the non-event, in effect.
But, beyond that, they don't know how many votes they're going to get against them. And what I'm surprised about, Anderson, I must tell you, is that the War Powers Act was passed during the middle of the Vietnam War back in 1973. President Nixon was in office. And it was a way to sort of curtail the power of the presidency.
President Nixon and almost every president I can remember since then has argued that the War Powers Act is unconstitutional. Along comes President Obama and says, oh, it -- it applies, all right. It's very constitutional. We just don't fit it.
And, like, everybody is like, what? What are you -- why don't you just sort of make the argument about presidential power? I don't think anybody understands it.
COOPER: It's interesting, Dana, because you have some of the most -- strongest opposition to the president on this coming from Democrat Dennis Kucinich and some of the strongest support for the president on this coming from Republican John McCain.
BASH: It's not breaking down along party lines at all, Anderson. It's fascinating. Both parties in both chambers of Congress are really split on how to handle this.
But in the House, there does seem to be a growing number of Democrats -- mostly Republicans -- who are really fed up. Many were already angry that the president didn't come to Congress for authorization they think that he needs under the War Powers Act. But GOP leadership sources, Anderson, tell me that that got inflamed big- time over the weekend.
There was a "New York Times" report that lawyers at the Pentagon and the Justice Department argued that the president did need congressional approval for Libya, and the president overruled them. That is making people even more angry and eager to have some kind of vote this week. COOPER: And there was a letter -- I want to get this right -- it was addressed to House Republicans from 39 conservative foreign policy experts, former government officials, people like Paul Wolfowitz, James Woolsey, Karl Rove.
I want to read some of what they said. They said: "The problem is not that the president has done too much, however, but that he's done too little to achieve the goal of removing Gadhafi from power. The United States should be leading this effort, not trailing behind our adversaries."
David, how do you think this resolves?
GERGEN: I -- well, Anderson, there is a split in the Republican Party now that is very, very unusual between the war hawks, the neoconservatives, if you would like to call them that -- and many of them signed that letter.
The same people who really wanted to go to war in Iraq and wanted to go to war in Afghanistan now are making the argument we shouldn't pull out precipitously from Libya. I happen to agree with them.
But, be that as it may -- and so we have the war hawks continuing. But there's a new wing in the Republican Party that is sort of neo-isolationist. And Mitt Romney, of all people, the front- runner, is leading it, saying not only we should get out of Afghanistan as fast as we can.
There's a war weariness in the land, after 10 years. And the president is having more and more trouble holding together any kind of coalition to continue on in Iraq in some fashion, to figure out how to do this troop withdrawal in Afghanistan, and to hold on in Libya.
He would be far better to knock off Gadhafi quickly. And I think he has got a speech I think Wednesday now, this Wednesday, just before the House votes, on his Afghan plans. That is going to be a big speech, important one to watch.
David Gergen, Dana Bash, appreciate it. Thanks very much.
Coming up: more fallout from the government's controversial gun trafficking operation. We told you about it on Friday. It's being blamed for the death of a Border Patrol agent. We're getting word that the acting director of the ATF could be close to stepping down over the scandal. No one so far has taken responsibility for this thing -- details next.
And later: The judge in the Casey Anthony case slamming the brakes on today's proceedings, giving attorneys on both sides a scolding. We will get the latest from Gary Tuchman in Orlando and examine the latest evidence from this weekend.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) COOPER: Coming up: The judge in the Casey Anthony trial abruptly ends the day in court before it even starts and gives the attorneys a good scolding. We will have all the details in a moment.
But, first, Joe Johns is here with a 360 news and business bulletin -- Joe.
JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, at least 44 people died in a plane crash in Russia. Russian officials say the twin-engine jetliner took off from Moscow and crashed into a highway near an airport about 600 miles north. Rescue workers and investigators are on the scene.
A statement from Anthony Weiner's office says his resignation in the wake of his photo scandal will be official tomorrow, when his resignation letter will be read in the House of Representatives.
Kenneth Melson, the acting director of the ATF, is expected to resign in the next day or two, amid controversy over Operation Fast and Furious. That's according to two senior federal law enforcement sources. The controversial Mexican gun trafficking operation let weapons slip into the wrong hands and led to the death of a Border Patrol agent.
And a victory for Wal-Mart -- the Supreme Court ruled today that plaintiffs in a discrimination case against female employees didn't show justification for class action status.
People are saying tonight that case was just to big too succeed, Anderson.
Time now for the "Shot." And, tonight, we have a cautionary tale about siblings rivalry among pets. We found this on YouTube. Somebody posted a video of a bird and a turtle, seemed to be getting along hanging out there on the counter. But, apparently, let's watch what happens.
For whatever reason, the bird has an issue with the turtle, and, boom, right into the trash can.
COOPER: A little kick, and so long turtle. A little kick there. Let's see it again, shall we?
COOPER: I love how the bird is like checking it out to make sure he got rid of it. All right, that's tonight's "Shot."
Up next, the serious stuff -- the judge in the Casey Anthony trial making it clear he's had enough. He gave lawyers on both sides a time-out today, scolding them and adjourning court before the jury was even seated. We will show you watch ticked him off ahead. We will also take a look at some of the latest evidence that emerged over the weekend.
Plus: an online dating service dumping 30,000 new members. And they don't even try to let them down gently. For that, they score a spot on the "RidicuList" tonight.
COOPER: "Crime & Punishment" tonight, the Casey Anthony trial. The lawyer for Vasco Thompson, the man the defense said that had received phone calls from George Anthony, says that Casey Anthony's defense lawyer will depose his client later this week.
In a big surprise for the prosecution, Thompson's name was added to the defense witness list last week. The defense wants to ask him about calls it said were made from his cell phone number to Casey Anthony's father the day before the 2-year-old Caylee Anthony was reported missing.
Mr. Thompson says he's never met George Anthony and didn't even have the cell-phone number in question in 2008 when Caylee disappeared.
No word yet on whether Judge Belvin Perry will allow Mr. Thompson to testify, but one thing is extremely clear. Judge Perry is -- today was losing patience. Today he gave attorneys on both sides a scolding and a time-out. Day 23 of the trial ended before the jury even had a chance to sit down today. Here's Gary Tuchman.
GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Casey Anthony arrived in court, ready for a full day of testimony, ready to hear witnesses called by her attorney in an effort to help her case, but it was not to be.
BELVIN PERRY, JUDGE: Enough is enough.
TUCHMAN: Because the judge is angry. He thinks the attorneys are playing games.
PERRY: It is quite evident that there is a friction between attorneys.
TUCHMAN: Judge Belvin Perry gave a piece of his mind to all the lawyers today, making it clear both sides need to disclose the opinions of their expert witnesses to avoid ambushes. He specifically told Casey Anthony's attorneys that, if they continue to produce surprise testimony, he could be compelled to limit what the witnesses will be allowed to say.
PERRY: This court does not make threats. This court simply applies the rules.
TUCHMAN: The defense problems percolated on Saturday when Dr. William Rodriguez took the stand.
WILLIAM RODRIGUEZ, FORENSIC ANTHROPOLOGIST: I'm a forensic anthropologist.
TUCHMAN: He was prepared to tell the jury he doubts the prosecution theory that duct tape found on Caylee's skull was used to suffocate the little girl. But his testimony was postponed, because some of his opinions were not known by the prosecution. However, the prosecutor did know what this expert witness would say.
CHENEY MASON, CASEY ANTHONY ATTORNEY: How many times you've testified as an expert witness?
DR. WERNER SPITZ, FORENSIC PATHOLOGIST: Probably around 300 times, maybe somewhat more. I testified probably around 30 times on the average, a year.
TUCHMAN: Dr. Warner Spitz has been a forensic psychologist for more than a half century. He also doubted that duct tape was used to suffocate Caylee.
MASON: Is it your opinion, sir, that the tape was not put on the face before decomposition?
SPITZ: No, it was not. I think that the duct tape was a later -- late event, not an earlier event.
MASON: After decomposition?
SPITZ: After decomposition.
TUCHMAN (on camera): A critical question that still remains: why would duct tape be on Caylee's skull if not to harm her? The defense claims she died in an accident in a swimming pool drowning. There's little doubt jurors will want answers to that.
(voice-over) But those answers did not come on this day. Testimony was delayed because of the judge's unhappiness with the attorneys.
PERRY: I'm going to ask both sides to turn around and look at that clock back there and tell me what time it is. Mr. Ashton?
JEFF ASHTON, PROSECUTOR: 9:25, sir.
PERRY: And Mr. Baez?
JOSE BAEZ, CASEY ANTHONY ATTORNEY: 9:26.
TUCHMAN: The prosecutor said 9:25. The defense said 9:26.
PERRY: That shows that the two of you will never agree on anything and will never interpret anything the same way.
TUCHMAN: Court was abruptly ended for the day, with the judge warning all the lawyers to be prepared to follow the rules when they return on Tuesday.
COOPER: So Gary, the defense began their case just on Thursday. How has the jury been reacting so far?
TUCHMAN: Anderson, at best it's a wash for Casey Anthony. At worst it's damaging. Damaging because of two things. One, withering cross-examination and also because of what the jury hadn't heard.
The defense gave itself an extra burden with these very dramatic opening statements in which Jose Baez, the attorney said, yes, Caylee Anthony drowned in a swimming pool; it was an accident. The reason that Casey Anthony said nothing for 31 days and lied about it is because she lived in a crazy house with lots of secrets because she was molested.
Well, the jury hadn't heard anything about that. Put yourself in the jury's shoes. They come out, they hear the most dramatic words of the trial so far, the defense opening statement, and they've heard nothing about it.
Now, from trials I've covered over the years, you usually hear defense attorneys, if they have good, solid evidence of something very dramatic and very important, they bring it up first because then they get the jury on their side.
So far they may have that evidence -- we don't know for sure, we can't say they do or they don't -- but so far they haven't presented that evidence.
One thing that's very important. The defense will tell you, "Hey, we don't have to prove anything. It's the prosecution that has to prove she's guilty beyond a reasonable doubt." But it's human nature. This jury wants to know if those facts are true.
COOPER: And if course, the question is, will Casey Anthony testify in our own defense?
TUCHMAN: Right. We are told that that decision has not been made yet, so there's a lot of suspense about that.
COOPER: Gary, appreciate that. As Gary reported, the defense put a forensic pathologist on the stand back on Saturday to accuse the prosecution's theory that duct tape was used to kill Caylee Anthony. So our question was did his testimony actually damage the state's case?
I spoke earlier to Dr. Michael Hunter, a forensic pathologist and chief medical examiner in Panama City, Florida.
COOPER: So Dr. Hunter, a defense witness, a forensic pathologist, has undermined a key part of the prosecution's case, that Caylee died, in part, from the duct tape placed around her nose and mouth, saying that he believed the duct tape had been applied long after the body had decomposed, because there was no DNA material found on the duct tape itself. Does that -- does he have a point?
DR. MICHAEL HUNTER, FORENSIC PATHOLOGIST: You know , Anderson, I don't think so. I think the best you can do is say that the duct tape wasn't placed after the remains became skeletal. I think the duct tape could have been placed prior to death, after death, even long after death. But certainly not to the stage where the remains are skeletal. Things like that. So the lack -- an the lack of DNA, it really does not cause a problem for me in this issue.
COOPER: Because, why? You could make an argument that, what, water or the elements kind of washed away DNA that might have been on there?
HUNTER: DNA is something that is, in and of itself, relatively fragile, nuclear DNA. It will fragment with the decomposition process. So the inability to actually get a good specimen of DNA from that type of material doesn't really surprise me in the least.
COOPER: Does it surprise you that there is DNA from one of the lab technicians found?
HUNTER: You know, Anderson, no. And I think the defense's strategy is to poke holes in a lot of the testimony that's already come forward from the prosecution side.
DNA is -- the DNA testing that's done in these laboratories is so extraordinarily sensitive that just by being in the vicinity of where the testing is, you may actually contaminate a specimen. And these labs take, like, huge precautions to try to make sure that doesn't happen. But it does. And so it doesn't surprise me there either.
COOPER: I don't quite understand it. I mean, if, according to this pathologist, if the duct tape was placed after the body was decomposing, I don't know why anyone would do that.
HUNTER: You know, I think we got into this a little bit were. You know, I can see, because of the position where the tape is around the remains in the area of the face, that a reasonable explanation is that that is the actual mechanism of a homicide. Obstruction of the airway of the nose and the mouth.
But you may use duct tape for a variety of reasons post-mortem for deceased individuals. It aids, possibly, in moving a deceased individual from one place to another. And like I said before, there may be fluid which comes from those areas very early on following death. You could simply apply the material over those areas just to stem that flow. So I can see reasons why you would have that post- mortem.
COOPER: The pathologist described Caylee's autopsy as shoddy. That was the word he used, "shoddy," because the medical examiner failed to open up Caylee's skull. Do you agree?
HUNTER: You know, I don't think you can look at the autopsy in its entirety and use that type of strong language, "shoddy."
Now, would I uncap the top of the skull, examine the inner portion? I think, yes. I think it's somewhat of a mistake to not do that. But keep in mind that Dr. G in this case, worked hand in hand with the forensic anthropologists to examine the skeletal remains. I mean, that is a very high standard of examination.
But one thing you don't want to do is not complete an examination, not allow the defense to say, "OK, if you didn't do this, what else did you not do in this particular case?"
COOPER: The defense witness also testified that there wasn't enough evidence to determine Caylee's manner of death directly, contradicting the medical examiner, who determined that she died due to homicide.
HUNTER: Right. Well, go back to the prosecution's witness, Dr. G. She basically took all of the information that she had available to her, the scene, the circumstances surrounding the death, the body itself. And she used those as building blocks to form an opinion as far as manner of death -- homicide.
And I absolutely agree with her on that account. I think you can come to that reasonable conclusion, you know, to what the standard requires, beyond a reasonable doubt, homicide.
What's much more difficult, I think, is to determine exactly what was the cause of Caylee's death. That, to me, it's a lot harder to get to that point of beyond a reasonable doubt with the asphyxiation question.
COOPER: Dr. Hunter, appreciate your expertise. Thanks.
HUNTER: Sure, sure.
COOPER: Well, for a perspective on today's developments in the trial, I also talked earlier to DePaw University law professor Andrea Lyons. She's Casey Anthony's former lead defense attorney and author of "Angel of Death Row." And veteran prosecutor, Paul Henderson.
COOPER: Andrea, Judge Perry seemed to kind of reach a breaking point today. Is his frustration with the prosecution and defense understandable?
ANDREA LYONS, FORMER CASEY ANTHONY ATTORNEY: Well, I think it's understandable. And there's a lot of pressure on a judge in a trial, especially a trial under this much scrutiny, with this many complex issues and -- and complex scientific issues. You know, it's hard to maintain your cool, however well-intentioned Judge Perry may be to try to stay neutral and to not get upset. It's kind of hard not to.
COOPER: Well, you said in this kind of tension between lawyers is pretty normal for a high-stake case like this?
PAUL HENDERSON, PROSECUTOR: It absolutely is. I mean, when you're in trial and the evidence is coming in piece by piece as a prosecutor and a defense attorney, you know the weight of every single piece of evidence that comes in, the weight of the testimony that's coming in. And it's an intense situation. You're paying attention and listening to arguments, waiting to object and jump up. And you've got to keep in mind that the jury is there.
There's a lot of pressure, especially on a case like this where, you know, outside of that courtroom, you've got people lining up and sleeping just to get into the courtroom.
COOPER: Andrea, what does that say about the defense that, you know, they named this guy, Vasco Thompson, before they, I guess, had been unable to reach him because he refused to talk to their investigator when he showed up. But now he's come forward and said, "Well, look, I have no connection with George Anthony whatsoever."
LYON: I -- that's what he's saying now. The -- as far as I understand it and, of course, as you know I've been out of the case for a year -- but as I understand it, there's a large number of a significant number, at least, of phone calls between Mr. Anthony and this gentleman. So...
COOPER: Well, but he's saying that he didn't have the -- he's saying he didn't have that phone number until after the date of those calls.
LYON: Right. That's what he's saying. And perhaps that's correct. I really have no way of knowing. I just don't know.
COOPER: But Paul, clearly the defense is just trying to kind of raise as many possibilities to bring about some sort of reasonable doubt in the mind of some of these people on the jury?
I mean, and so if there are phone calls with somebody who in the past has been convicted of kidnapping as a defense attorney, wouldn't you want to kind of bring that in and, maybe, raise the possibility that this person might be involved somehow?
HENDERSON: Yes, if I were a defense attorney, I would bring in everybody. If I had a dancing monkey I'd try and bring that into the courtroom. But as a prosecutor, looking at that case, my argument to the jury would be what does this have to do with anything?
Unless the defense can make a tie to that child or to the evidence that's associated with that child's death...
HENDERSON: ... you know, it's not relevant. It's not going to matter, and it ends up being a red herring.
COOPER: Andrea, do you think the defense now, having brought up the whole idea that George -- the allegation that Anthony had sexually abused Casey, do they have to follow that up?
LYON: There's a price you pay for either side, prosecution or defense, if you make a promise in your opening statement or in voir dire or some other place and you don't keep the promise. I mean, you pay a price for that.
The other side will certainly talk about that you said you were going to prove certain things and you didn't prove certain things. I've certainly done that to prosecutors. I'm betting Paul has done it to defense lawyers. I mean, that's -- that would be fair game.
That being said, of course, the burden of proof is on the prosecution, not on the defense.
HENDERSON: If the defense raised things, if they felt that they didn't close the loop on or there was evidence that was expected that didn't necessarily come in.
HENDERSON: And you do want to stay away from the bright line of shifting the burden of proof.
COOPER: Andrea, in a case where you have, you know, dueling medical experts were, for instance, we just had the defense witness...
LYONS: And had the venerable Dr. Spitz.
COOPER: Right. Dr. Spitz blasting the medical examiner who performed Caylee's autopsy, saying the work was shoddy. We just talked to a forensic pathologist who said he didn't think it was shoddy. How does the jury decide? I mean, is it just a case of which medical expert they decide to trust more?
LYONS: Well, that's -- to some degree that's the case. But, no, Dr. Spitz is one of the five medical examiners who literally wrote the book that everybody relies on. He's a very, very respectable man. And I think his word will carry some weight with the jury.
But what they're going to do, I think, or at least I would think that the defense hopes they would do, is they would look at what Dr. Spitz had to say and, you know, the problems with the tape that we talked about before, the lack of DNA, et cetera, et cetera, and say maybe it makes more sense. In fact, the remains were moved. And if that's the case, of course, the suppositions of the prosecution regarding the tape as being a murder weapon are -- are in serious trouble.
COOPER: We'll leave it there. Paul Henderson, appreciate it.
Andrea Lyon, thanks so much.
HENDERSON: Thank you.
LYON: Good to talk to you.
Well, ahead on the program tonight, breaking news. New word that Iran is helping in Syria's brutal crackdown on its own citizens.
Plus, on "The RidicuList" coming up in just a moment, an online dating Web site just dumped 30,000 people from its service. You'll never guess why. We'll explain on the RidicuList.
COOPER: Time now for "The RidicuList," and tonight we're adding an online dating site called BeautifulPeople.com. The reason? Well, because they nearly let tens of thousands of ugly people slip through the cracks and become members. I know, scary, right?
See, BeautifulPeople.com is a dating site where members rate your picture, and you can only join if you're deemed hot enough. It's like a wet T-shirt contest or a beauty pageant but without all the pesky talent competitions and boring interviews.
The site operators now say that last month, the site was attacked by a computer virus -- which I don't really believe, but anyway, that's what they say -- and they say about 30,000 new members were approved. But according to the beautiful people who run the site, the new members were not beautiful. And so the site has taken swift action and has dumped them.
A managing director told "The Guardian," quote, "We have to stick to our founding principals of only accepting beautiful people. We can't just sweep 30,000 ugly people under the rug." He is so right, and brave for sticking to his founding principles.
After all, it's called BeautifulPeople.com, not "Beautiful People Plus 30,000 Fuglies Sneaking Out from Under the Carpet" dot com.
But how did they realize there was a virus, you may ask. Quote, "We got suspicious when tens of thousands of new members were accepted over a six-week period, many of whom were no oil painting." What a charmer.
Let's take a look at the front page of BeautifulPeople.com, because well, that's as far as we can get without trying to get a membership and we certainly don't want to try to do that.
You can tell just by looking at this whether you're a good candidate. You just have to ask yourself a couple questions: For instance, do snakes routinely coil themselves around your leg and try to suck out your beauty with their fangs? Do you ever throw up your arms wide open in an attempt to hug your own beauty while on your tippy toes?
And are you friends, perhaps, with a lion? If the answer is no, you're not one of the beautiful people. Don't waste their time. The guy behind BeautifulPeople.com has enough ugly people to deal with as it is.
Here's what he told CNN's --CNN Money's Poppy Harlow last summer.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GREG HODGE, BEAUTIFULPEOPLE.COM: We've had over 5.8 million people rejected around the world.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: All right. Button up your shirt. Five point eight million. That's enough ugly to wrap around the earth more than 200 times. Gross.
Plus, then, there are the 30,000 who just got dumped and the 5,000 who got taken off the site after it looked like they put on a few pounds over the holidays last year. Look, the truth hurts, and as we all know, that's what beautiful people really care about most: the truth.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HODGE: What Beautiful People does do is it gives an accurate representation of what society's idea of beauty is through a peer selection community.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Dude, seriously, button up your shirt. What better way to meet the man or woman of your dreams than by a peer selection community. Look maybe some of wart-covered troglodytes over on eHarmony wants something deeper, but beautiful people know what matters is only skin deep. If you must know something about what the person is like beyond how hot they are, they pay lip service to that, too.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HODGE: Then there's various tools in the site to find the character behind this beautiful exterior.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: I don't buy the accent either. I'll tell you about those tools. Believe me, I'm sure this site is juts crawling with tools. They've got so many tools on the site it's like a hardware store, except not a ugly hardware store. It's more like a very pretty tool emporium. Let's go back to the toolmaster.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HODGE: If you go back to the dawn of man and the dawn of man we've always worshipped beauty. And what was synonymous with good looks was health. Now, men would find attractive in women, clear skin, good curves, something that if they passed on their genetic donation, it would go to fruition.
(END VIDEO CLIP) COOPER: Yes, the dawn of man. I'm sure that was top of that priority, hunting down beauty.
If they passed their genetic donation it would go to fruition. Who cares about grammar? Let's yap at more hotties. Let's look at that lady with the lion again. Beautiful. The lion ain't half bad either.
See, he might actually have a short at membership on the site, but the rest of us just have to settle for the peer selection community on 'The RidicuList."
We'll be right back.
COOPER: Breaking news tonight. Late word, new word, that Syria is getting help killing its own people. Crackdowns like this on protesters are made possible in part by the rising involvement of Iran in Syria. Iran is helping, according to U.S. officials by training killers, sending personnel, keeping weapons flowing into Syria, even supplying riot gear. One official telling us some of the evidence is coming from American electronic eavesdropping.
That same official saying that Iran is also supporting other potential leaders in Syria in case dictator Bashar Assad is toppled from power.