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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Vaccine Fact Versus Fiction; Bachmann on Offense; Why Al Qaeda Attacked the U.S.
Aired September 13, 2011 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: John, thanks very much.
Good evening, everyone. We begin tonight "Keeping Them Honest" in one of the most contentious issues that came up in the CNN/Tea Party Republican debate. An issue that had all the makings of a political firestorm. Kids, sexually transmitted disease, the government telling parents how they should protect their kids.
The issue, of course, is Texas Governor Rick Perry's 2007 executive order requiring girls to get vaccinated against human papilloma virus, HPV, a virus that can cause cervical cancer. That executive order, by the way, never saw the light of day.
Perry signed the order in February 2007. Two months later the state legislature overturned it and Perry didn't veto it so it died on the vine, so to speak.
Despite that fact in the debate Michele Bachmann essentially tried to paint Rick Perry as someone who wanted innocent little girls to be held down by the arm of big government and forcibly stuck with needles in their arms.
And now after the debate she's even trying to raise fears that the HPV vaccine can cause mental retardation. Something that she has repeated on television at least twice already. That is, by all accounts, just flat-out wrong.
More on that in a moment, but first let's take a look at Bachmann and Perry going head-to-head in last night's debate.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. MICHELE BACHMANN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm a mom of three children, and to have innocent little 12-year-old girls be forced to have a government injection through an executive order is just flat-out wrong. That should never be done.
That's a violation of a liberty interest. That's -- little girls who have a negative reaction to this potentially dangerous drug don't get a mulligan. They don't get a do-over. The parents don't get a do-over.
GOV. RICK PERRY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And at the end of the day, this was about trying to stop a cancer and giving the parental option to opt out of that. And at the end of the day -- you may criticize me about the way that I went about it, but at the end of the day, I am always going to err on the side of life. And that's what this was really all about for me.
BACHMANN: I just wanted to add that we cannot forget that in the midst of this executive order, there was a big drug company that made millions of dollars because of this mandate. We can't -- we can't deny that. What I'm saying is that it's wrong for a drug company because the governor's former chief of staff was the chief lobbyist for this drug company.
The drug company gave thousands of dollars in political donations to the governor. And this is just flat-out wrong. The question is, is it about life or was it about millions of dollars and potentially billions for a drug company?
PERRY: The company was Merck, and it was a $5,000 contribution that I had received from them. I raised about $30 million. And if you're saying that I can be bought for $5,000 I'm offended.
BACHMANN: I'm offended for all the little girls and the parents that didn't have a choice. That's what I'm offended for.
(END OF VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: A lot to pick on -- pick apart right there. A lot to talk about, but right now let's just focus on Bachmann's argument against the government forcing kids, innocent little 12-year-old girls, as she said, to get tin injections.
"Keeping Them Honest," a vast majority of states including Bachmann's home state of Minnesota also require that kids get vaccinate against Hepatitis B, which like HPV can be sexually transmitted. That's according to the Immunization Action Coalition.
Now Bachmann doesn't seem to have a problem with that form of mandated vaccination for kids. But if that can be written off as grandstanding perhaps during a presidential debate, which she's doing now to add fuel to the fire to keep the story going, well, it can only be characterized as irresponsible.
Because now she's suggesting that the HPV vaccine is dangerous, dangerous in ways that the research just does not show, according to the CDC.
Here's what Bachmann said on the "Today" show.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BACHMANN: Well, I will tell you that I had a mother last night come up to me here in Tampa, Florida, after the debate. She told me her little daughter took that -- took that vaccine, that injection, and she suffered from mental retardation thereafter.
It can have very dangerous side effects. The mother was crying when she came up to me last night. I didn't know who she was before the debate. This is the very real concern. And people have to draw their own conclusions.
(END OF VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, we asked Congresswoman Bachmann to come on tonight to talk about that accusation but she declined.
Dr. Jennifer Berman did not decline. She's a urologist and expert on women's sexual health issues. She joins us now.
Dr. Berman, I mean, put aside the idea that Miss Bachmann is now basically just recounting allegedly what somebody randomly said to her in a crowd who she had never met before, doesn't really know anything about, and doesn't know anything about now, and using that as evidence for something very serious, what do you make of the claim, the medical claim that the HPV vaccination could cause someone to become mentally disabled? Is there any truth to that?
DR. JENNIFER BERMAN, UROLOGIST AND SEXUAL HEALTH EXPERT: You know I'll start by saying that of all of the side effects and risks, mental impairment or mental retardation was not one of them. So that up.
However, that said, I can see or one can see how to the lay public or a lay person a misconception that mental impairment or mental changes or a mental sort of event can occur after a vaccine because it's been reported with other vaccines. The problem is not with this vaccine, that is not a potential risk or side effect that's been reported.
COOPER: So the CDC has approved two different HPV vaccines. Are there any significant risks or what are the risks of taking either of them?
BERMAN: The risks, actually, are really quite minor and benign being redness, normal allergic reactions that are associated with regular vaccines. Fever, swelling. Severe anaphylaxis has been reported. But by the way, of all the deaths in the placebo arm and the drug arm, none of them were directly linked to drug. So the side effects are mostly sort of inflammation reactions rather than mental impairment.
COOPER: And so when it comes to weighing the risks versus the benefits of the HPV vaccine, what should people know?
BERMAN: The important thing to know is that this vaccine does prevent cervical cancer and cervical cancer is extremely common. It is sexually transmitted. That's what makes this so highly charged. It's not like meningitis or whooping cough which, by the way, you know, our children are required to be vaccinated prior to entering school.
So, you know, this is a vaccine that prevents cervical cancer and it's transmitted via sexual contact. So it's -- I think in my personal opinion, it should be something that we option for our children but, you know, I'll leave that up to debate.
COOPER: Dr. Jennifer Berman, appreciate your expertise. Thank you.
BERMAN: Thank you.
COOPER: That's the medical side of things. Now to the more political.
During the debate Bachmann questioned Perry's ties to Merck, the company that makes the vaccine. She pointed out that Perry's former chief of staff was a Merck lobbyist and that Merck made political donations to Perry. Here's how he responded.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PERRY: The company was Merck, and it was a $5,000 contribution that I had received from them. I raise about $30 million, and if you're saying that I can be bought for $5,000, I'm offended.
(END OF VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, let's keep him honest, too. The $5,000 figure is a bit misleading. While it's true that Merck donated $5,000 to Perry in 2006, altogether the company has donated more than $28,000 to his campaign over the past 10 years, more than $20,000 of that was in the years before he signed the HPV executive order.
So joining us now, CNN contributor Erick Erickson, editor in chief for redstate.com, CNN political analyst Roland Martin, and CNN chief political analyst, Gloria Borger.
Erick, do you think Michele Bachmann went too far with this last night?
ERICK ERICKSON, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: You know I thought she scored sizable points against Rick Perry last night. Had she stopped there, I think she probably would have been OK. But to go on to the mental retardation issues today not knowing the woman was I think probably the quickest implosion of a candidate since the Dean scream back in 2004.
But what's more, Anderson, we learned at redstate.com today that Michele Bachmann was in the Minnesota legislature and they did basically on the similar grounds of HPV, they did the Hepatitis B vaccine. And not only did they not include a parental opt-out, they didn't include an opt-in. It was mandatory for children without parental consent.
We can't find a record that shows that Michele Bachmann either sponsored, drafted, submitted or otherwise wrote legislation to try to include a parental opt-in or a parental opt-out. So it kind of makes her argument that this is a liberty issue in Texas a little bit moot when she had an opportunity in the Minnesota legislature to fix the Hep-B vaccine issue and she'd never even attempted it.
COOPER: So that's interesting, Erick. So you're saying that -- I mean her -- one of her -- really, her argument last night, putting aside the mental disability issue which she suddenly brought up today, but her argument last night was saying that the states should not be mandating, forcing parents to have these vaccinations for their little girls.
You're saying basically she did not object or you couldn't find any records of her objecting to the state doing that with Hepatitis B in Minnesota?
ERICKSON: Right. And to be fair, the law had originated before she got into the legislature, but there's no record of her attempting to fix the opt-in or opt-out provisions in Minnesota regarding vaccinations.
COOPER: All right. Gloria, on the "Today" show she did bring up allegedly what some unidentified woman allegedly said to her about her daughter becoming mentally disabled. She used the word "retardation" and then immediately says that people will have to draw their own conclusions.
I mean just as a responsible government official, I mean, shouldn't no government official just be saying, well, somebody in a crowd told me --
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Right.
COOPER: -- you'll have to make your own conclusions about this person that I don't know and I can't tell you any more information about, and I will never see them again?
BORGER: Absolutely, Anderson. And if you were running her campaign, you would probably have pulled her aside after that and said, what did you -- what did you just say? You know when you're a presidential candidate, it's very different from running for Congress.
You have to be able to back up whatever you say. She was clearly loaded for bear when she attacked him on the crony capitalism issue, on the campaign contributions. And she knew what she was saying. That was clearly vetted by some folks on her staff and it could even have been more money, but the point is on this, you can't say somebody in the audience just told me something, and by the way, draw your own conclusions.
You're a presidential candidate. You have to tell people why you believe something, and you have to be able to back it up. So I think in terms of her credibility, she hurt her own case.
COOPER: Roland, what do you make of her attacks on Perry? Were they -- were they responsible? Were they effective?
ROLAND S. MARTIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: First of all, her attacks on Perry were on the mark. She is trying to keep herself in the upper tier status. But this is the problem that Congresswoman Bachmann has always had. The truth somehow is kryptonite for her.
Here she is, a successful night, going on the offensive, pushing him in a corner. The problem is, I think what she wanted was for us to come back the next day, break down his record, break down Merck, the chief of staff, break down these things, but guess what? We're now challenging her credibility as opposed to his credibility.
This is what she always does. Remember the whole deal about the $200 million and President Obama going overseas? And she's like, well, I kind of read it somewhere she said on your show.
MARTIN: This is the problem. You have to stay on point, and so you can't be making these rookie mistakes because now her -- she is now the subject of our investigation and the point that Erick made shows that, wait a minute, you have no leg to stand on, so Perry gets to sit back and say, guess what? I'm all good, you had a shot, now you messed yourself up.
BORGER: You know she just stepped on her own story. And that's a real problem because she had a story.
COOPER: Erick, Perry was pretty dismissive about --
ERICKSON: Yes, and you know --
COOPER: Go ahead. Sorry. Go ahead, Erick.
ERICKSON: Well, it falls very flat with the argument she was making. And by the way, the other problem with her argument is that it sounds very much completely anti-vaccine, which is a crazy argument in this nation to be having that, we shouldn't be giving people vaccines as well.
And the way she's mumbled the message here on whether she means HPV or vaccines in general, I think she needs to clarify. But her argument was on liberty and we can't have the government forcing people to do this.
ERICKSON: Well, here was a situation she could have fixed and she didn't. And that's just completely steps on her own message.
COOPER: Erick, I do want to push back, though, on this Perry thing. I mean he was pretty -- Perry was pretty dismissed about this crony capitalism claims. He played down just $5,000 contributions. But Merck has actually given him a lot more. They'd given him $28,000. He had this former aide who went to work for Merck, who's now running the big Perry super PAC.
I mean that kind of coziness does raise all sorts of questions and justifiably so.
ERICKSON: Yes, it does raise questions. It raises questions there for a lot of politicians, not just Rick Perry, across the board. I mean look at General Electric's relationship with Barack Obama and campaign donation there. I mean what's good for the goose is good for the gander.
And it happens when corporations can give donations at the state level even more so than at the federal level. That being said, there was a good bit of time between some of the sizeable Merck contributions and this happening in 2007. It wasn't just Texas that did it. It was a number of states including here in Georgia, they tried to do it.
And it went no matter. And in fact, to Michele Bachmann's overarching point that people had their kids had this happen, she cannot identify because it's impossible to identify a single child in Texas who had the HPV vaccine because of what Rick Perry did. They don't exist --
MARTIN: But Anderson --
ERICKSON: -- because the order never went into effect.
MARTIN: But Anderson, she was on the mark there because the "Houston Chronicle" and the "San Antonio Express News" have done a number of stories over the past six months talking about Governor Rick Perry and his relationship with donors getting business with the state.
And so I think that's what Bachmann was trying to sort of plant, so for us in the media to come back the next day and begin to talk about those stories. But again by her making these claims on the "Today" show, talking with John King last night in the debate, we're now focused on her truthfulness. And he stood up there and saying, yes, I did get campaign contributions.
BORGER: But here's -- but here's the lesson for Governor Perry in all of this, that when you're running for president and you've been governor for a decade, you're going to get attacked. The questions of access and crony capitalism and all the rest.
ERICKSON: Right. Absolutely.
BORGER: And he needed to be better prepared for that charge than he was, because he seemed to me to be pretty rattled by it.
BORGER: And essentially prepared on the argument of whether -- of the mandate question.
BORGER: But not prepared on the challenge to his record which he is now going to get over and over again.
COOPER: Gloria Borger, Eric Erickson, Roland Martin --
ERICKSON: Three more debates.
COOPER: Three more debates. Yes. A lot more ahead, no doubt.
Let us know what you think on Facebook. Follow me on Twitter @Andersoncooper. I'll be tweeting tonight.
Coming up, another heated exchange at the debate over who was responsible for the September 11th terrorist attacks, or why they attacked.
I spoke with Thomas Friedman of the "New York Times" about that coming up in a moment. He's always interesting to talk to. Very thoughtful.
I also got his take on the brutality of the Syrian regime. Why he calls the regime "The Sopranos" without the charm. That's next.
Also ahead "Crime and Punishment." The man being held in connection with the disappearance of American Robyn Gardner in Aruba gets a big name lawyer. You'll definitely recognize the name of his last client. We'll tell you what he had to do in a recent big case.
And Isha Sesay is back following some other stories tonight.
ISHA SESAY, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks, Anderson.
The story behind this incredible video. Eyewitnesses rushing to the aid of a stranger. Saving the life of a motorcyclist pinned underneath a car. We'll talk to someone who was actually there.
That and more when 360 continues.
COOPER: A closer look tonight at the fiery exchange from the CNN/Tea Party Republican debate over the September 11th terror attacks.
Rick Santorum squared off with Ron Paul calling him irresponsible for suggesting that it was the United States's own actions that brought on the attacks from al Qaeda. Or at least Perry -- Paul was saying that's what al Qaeda would write about, saying that's justifying their actions.
I spoke with Tom Friedman of "The New York Times." He's also author of the book -- the book "That Used to Be Us: How America Fell Behind in the World It Invented and How We Can Come Back."
We're going to hear from Tom in just a moment, but first, let's take a look at the exchange from last night.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) RICK SANTORUM (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We are not being attacked and we were not attacked because of our actions. We were attacked, as Newt talked about, because we have a -- we have a civilization that is antithetical to the civilization of the jihadists.
And they want to kill us because of who we are and what we stand for, and we stand for American exceptionalism. We stand for freedom and opportunity for everybody around the world, and I am not ashamed to do that.
REP. RON PAUL (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: As long as this country follows that idea, we're going to be under a lot of -- a lot of danger. This whole idea that the whole Muslim world is responsible for this and they're attacking us because we're free and prosperous, that is just not true.
Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda have been explicit. They have been explicit and they wrote and said that we attacked -- we attacked America because you had bases on our holy land in Saudi Arabia, you do not give Palestinians a fair treatment, and you have been bombing --
(END OF VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: He clearly wasn't popular there. He went on to say that's what al Qaeda is saying about the Palestinians.
Do you think he's right?
THOMAS FRIEDMAN, NEW YORK TIMES: Well, you know, I think there's two things I would say in reaction to that clip, Anderson. One is a Republican campaign primary debate is probably not the best forum to have a serious discussion about al Qaeda. That's number one.
Number two, you know, why al Qaeda attacked us, you know, is a complicated thing. My own feeling is that what that was all part of was a civil war within Islam. It was a struggle for power, first of all, within Saudi Arabia between bin Laden and the ruling family.
And then a broader power struggle in the region about what should be the course, the path of the Islamic future. Should it be one that embraces modernity or one that really tries to, you know, enter the 21st century by returning to a puritanical Islam.
COOPER: Let's talk a little bit about what's going on -- in throughout the Middle East. I mean in Egypt, in the last seven months, 12,000 Egyptian civilians have been arrested by the military, brought before tribunals. They have no due process. The ruling military is now widening the scope. A state of emergency. There's clashes between the military and protesters. You saw the -- the Israeli embassy coming under attack. They broke down the barricade, the diplomats have now left.
Is the Egyptian transition -- I mean, is there a transition to democracy in Egypt? Is it in trouble?
FRIEDMAN: You know I go back to think something we talked about very early after Tahrir Square. And that is that stability has left the building when it comes to Egypt and all of these Arab countries. Stability has left the building.
The question is, what kind of instability are we going to have? Is it going to be the kind of rocky road with a positive slope that leads Egypt to the kind of transition we saw in Indonesia or South Africa, a democratic transition? But a bumpy road. Or will it be a slow descent the other way?
You know I'm still hopeful that it can have a positive slope, but what you're seeing in Egypt and all of these countries is these regimes that were there allowed no civil society, no institutions to be built. It was all just a top-down monologue. And now that you've removed iron fists from the top, there is so little there to hold these societies together.
COOPER: That is one of the fascinating things and terrible things about dictatorships is that they do destroy all other institutions or render them incapable of really functioning because they want to stay in power and they don't want any potential threats out there.
FRIEDMAN: And so what they did in all of these countries, there is basically the regime and when it cracked, the elevator went right to the mosque. There was nothing else there. And so I think in Egypt when they do have parliamentary elections which I hope they do, they are planning to, you'll see the Islamists and Muslim Brotherhood do well.
I would bet four years from now if that thing has a positive slope, they'll do less well.
COOPER: One of the stories that we try to focus along on this program and have been over the last five months is what's happening in Syria. According to the U.N., at least 2600 people have been killed in Syria since the uprisings began in March.
You say in countries like Syria, the governments operate by what you call the Hama rules. Explain what you mean by that.
FRIEDMAN: Well, you know, Hama was a Syrian town that back in 1981 the current president's father, Hafez al-Assad, put down a rebellion by basically leveling part of the town killing somewhere -- estimated between 10,000 and 20,000 people. Hama rules are the rules of these regimes and Hama rules are no rules at all.
COOPER: What's also so infuriating to me is just the lies that they continue to spew. And, you know, they had these slick suited diplomats. I interviewed the Syrian ambassador to the United Nations on this program a couple of weeks ago. I mean he was just saying things which are just categorically not true, which are obviously not true, things which he knew we knew were not true, and yet they emerged from his mouth. And -- I don't know. I mean other than saying he's lying, I'm not sure what one can really do about it. But just the brazenness of the lies is extraordinary to me. They say that these are armed groups, these are terrorists, that there -- you know, 64,000 or tens of thousands of gangsters that have all of a sudden popped up in Syria against the government, that the media has free rein, they can go wherever they want.
I mean these -- there's just no evidence of any of this.
FRIEDMAN: These are "The Sopranos" without the charm, you know, without any charm. And they're so used to telling lies and getting away -- and they're so used to telling lies and getting away with it, they really wouldn't know the truth if it was sitting in their lap.
COOPER: It seems as though -- I mean I think I sometimes look in the eyes of these people and I'm trying to see, do they actually believe the words that are emerging from their mouth?
I mean you've dealt with these people more than I have. I mean when they're -- do they believe it, do you think?
FRIEDMAN: You know they don't believe it at all. But they have to pretend that they believe it because the minute they stop believing it, the whole thing starts to unravel. And these regimes, we've seen this time and again now with all the Arab Spring regimes. They look solid until they crack. And when they go, they go quickly.
COOPER: Tom Friedman, thank you very much.
FRIEDMAN: A real pleasure.
COOPER: Still ahead, stunning new developments in the case of the American tourist missing in Aruba. And tonight a surprising new connection to the very high profile murder case, the Casey Anthony case.
Also a witness betrayed. A family terrified. How the U.S. Justice Department has bungled prosecution of this man. An alleged human trafficker from Albania. And how it's put the family of the star witness in grave danger. Disturbing report when 360 continues.
COOPER: Still to come on the program, the incredible scene in Utah. A group of strangers banding together to save a wounded man trapped underneath a car. A burning car and motorcycle. I talked to the police officer who was at the scene.
First, let's check on the other stories Isha Sesay is following the "360 Bulletin" -- Isha.
SESAY: Anderson, Americans targeted by suicide bombers in Afghanistan. The Taliban today claimed responsibility for deadly attacks on the U.S. embassy and NATO headquarters in Kabul. At least three Afghan police officers and one civilian were killed. New hope today for two American hikers jailed on spying charges in Iran. Iran's president says the men could be freed in a couple of days in exchange for $1 million. Arrested in 2009, Shane Bauer and Joshua Fattal were sentenced last month to eight years in prison.
In Aruba, an explosive new twist in the case of missing American tourist Robyn Gardner. Jose Baez, the man who helped Casey Anthony win an acquittal on first-degree murder charges confirmed today that he'll be defending prime suspect Gary Giordano. A 50-year-old American who was traveling with Gardner, Giordano was jailed shortly after her disappearance on August 2nd.
And George and Cindy Anthony say they still have questions about granddaughter Caylee's death, but are certain their daughter Casey lied repeatedly about Caylee's disappearance.
In their first interview since Anthony was acquitted in July, the couple today told Dr. Phil McGraw that their daughter wasn't honest about the whereabouts of the missing 2-year-old. George Anthony also rejected Casey's explanation for the toddler's death.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you believe she drowned?
GEORGE ANTHONY, CASEY ANTHONY'S FATHER: See, I don't want to believe that. I can't understand how she could drown and all of a sudden end up at the end of our street. I can't understand that. My mind can't go in that direction.
If there was an accident or something happened, why couldn't Casey turn to us, even turn to her brother? Why, why, why? That's a question I've asked myself hundreds of times.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SESAY: Anderson, the Anthonys' interview continues on the Dr. Phil program tomorrow.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Time for the "Shot." Tonight, we've got glow in the dark cats. That's right. Check this out. Researchers from the Mayo Clinic are using fluorescent kitties to track the effects of the gene therapy one designed to combat HIV.
They actually bred the kitten to inserting modified genes into their mother's eggs including one from a jellyfish. That's what give the cats their eerie green glow. Apparently the glow that helps them see how the genes have changed and unfortunately can only be seen under a special blue light or maybe fortunately. I'm not sure I want to see kitties like that.
SESAY: I'd be really hacked off if I came back in another life and as a cat that glowed in the dark. I don't know about you.
COOPER: Isha, we'll check in with you a little bit later on. Up next, an Albanian government claims the federal government reneged on a deal to protect him and his family after he agreed to testify against a fellow Albanian accused of a crime. Now he fears for his family's safety if they're deported.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What do you think could happen to your wife and son if they go back to Albania?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They're going to be killed.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Also ahead, the amazing story in Utah, total strangers using combined strength to save a man seriously injured in an accident underneath a burning car.
COOPER: The Justice Department is accused of reneging on a deal to offer help and green cards to a family of Albanian immigrants that may be putting some members of the family in danger.
A man named Edmond Demiraj says that a decade ago federal prosecutors promised to protect him and his family in exchange for his testimony against a fellow Albanian immigrant who was accused of criminal activity in Texas.
The case never went to trial. We're going to explain why in a moment. But the bottom line of the story is this, the government wants to now deport his wife and teenage son back to Albania claiming they don't qualify for asylum.
Prosecutors even acknowledged in court papers that they could be harmed in Albania, but they're still moving ahead with deportation proceedings. The story is complicated. It's a puzzle. Gary Tuchman tries to put the pieces for us together.
GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The school day has just ended. And the Demirajs are relaxing on the porch of a suburban Houston home with their three children. It's an idyllic setting. The family even has a Shetland pony in the yard. One might assume the Demirajs are living a happy life, but they're not. They believe they're in grave danger.
RODINA DEMIRAJ, MOTHER: We're both in depression like trying to do our stuff, like our things, but it's really hard.
TUCHMAN: That's because the U.S. government wants this mother and her 19-year-old son deported back to their native Albania.
DEMIRAJ: How can they separate families? And how can they send like half of the family over there when they know that it's a danger? TUCHMAN: This is who keeps them up at night. His name is Bill Badini, an Albanian national. He was arrested in the U.S. a decade ago charged with human trafficking. Edmund Demiraj who was in the U.S. illegally worked for Badini as a painter.
A government prosecutor offered a deal if Demiraj would testify against his former boss.
(on camera): So they said we will protect you and give a green card if you help us?
EDMUND DEMIRAJ, Father: Yes, sir.
TUCHMAN: And you said?
DEMIRAJ: I said I'm willing to work with the U.S. government whatever they need from me.
TUCHMAN (voice-over): In court, Badini entered a not guilty plea, but before the court could start he jumped bail and fled home to Albania. With Badini gone, Demiraj says the U.S. reneged on his deal.
He was deported back to Albania in the middle of the night without a chance to call his family and Bill Badini was there waiting for him with a gun in his hand.
DEMIRAJ: He pointed the gun straight to here. After that, he grabbed me again and the gun was right here. He shot me.
TUCHMAN: This is what Demiraj's abdomen looked like after he was shot. He left Albania and through Mexico found his way back to the U.S. He asked for asylum and requested the U.S. honor the promise of protection from Badini's associates whom he says remain in Texas.
Immigration officials are allowing him to stay while his case is reviewed along with his two younger children who could stay because they were born in the U.S., but not his 19-year-old son nor his wife, Rodina.
Even though a Justice Department lawyer has said in court that if she goes to Albania, there's a possibility that Mrs. Demiraj will be prosecuted, but the lawyer said she hasn't met her legal burden when it comes to asylum.
(on camera): What do you think could happen to your wife and son if they go back to Albania?
DEMIRAJ: They're going to be killed. They are going to be killed.
TUCHMAN (voice-over): Now the Demiraj's attorneys are asking the U.S. Supreme Court to step in.
JOSHUA ROSENKRANZ, FAMILY'S ATTORNEY: This is just such a shameful display of how the U.S. government will use people who they need to keep us safe and then cavalierly discard them when they no longer need these people.
TUCHMAN (on camera): If U.S. government attorneys acknowledge that Edmund's wife, Rodina, could be harmed in Albania, why would they fight so hard to send her and her son back? It's perplexing and, frankly, seems inhumane and makes you wonder if there's more to the story.
(voice-over): If there is, the U.S. Department of Justice isn't saying. Officials don't deny they offered the Demirajs green cards if Edmund cooperated in the prosecution of Badini. They don't doubt that Badini shot him.
But all the Justice Department will tell us is that it is not aware of any promises of physical protection ever made to Mr. Demiraj or his family.
The assistant U.S. attorney who cut the green card deal with Demiraj had no comment to CNN. She's now in private practice and has been nominated for a federal judgeship.
(on camera): Will you ever allow your wife and son to go back to Albania?
DEMIRAJ: I will not.
TUCHMAN: There's no way you can do that, right?
DEMIRAJ: That is no. I don't know what I have to do, but I'm not going to let him go.
TUCHMAN: Gary Tuchman, CNN, Houston.
COOPER: It's pretty remarkable case. Senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin is here. Does this happen a lot? The government just basically makes deals with people and then if the trial doesn't go forward just cuts them loose?
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: No, usually if someone pleads guilty as a result of someone's cooperation they honor the deal because they forced them to plead guilty.
Here, the defendant disappeared, which is through no fault of this guy. And frankly, Anderson, usually I can articulate both sides of a legal argument. This is so outrageous on the part of the government. I'm really sort of baffled with what's gone on.
COOPER: Is it possible as Gary said maybe there's more going on that the government's not saying, but --
TOOBIN: But the judges don't know that. I mean, the judges only know the record before them. I've looked at the record. There's no secret in the record. I guess, the best you can do to defend the government's conduct is that they say, look, we protect people from prosecution if they are a member of a religion, if they have political views that are being oppressed.
Here the danger is only to an individual family. It's not part of a larger political prosecution. Now, of course, that doesn't take into consideration that a promise was made to this family.
COOPER: Right. And this guy's fulfilled his end of the deal by agreeing to testify against this person who apparently seems very dangerous.
TOOBIN: It seems very dangerous? He shot this guy, which you would say is pretty dangerous.
TOOBIN: We can't prove it, but you got to put this also in a larger political context. The Obama administration wants to look tough on immigration. You saw the debate last night. Everybody wants to be, you know, deport people. But once you start looking at the facts of a lot of these cases, it becomes very hard.
COOPER: But you know what, we also want and all Americans want people to come forward and testify about what they have seen in criminal cases. So doing this to somebody who has agreed to come forward, it kind of makes you not want to be able to trust the government in any kind of a deal.
TOOBIN: That's what really makes no sense.
COOPER: A huge problem.
TOOBIN: When I was a federal prosecutor and I know it continues today. The people who cooperate get unbelievable deals. Sammy "The Bull" Gravano killed 19 people and he got just a couple years in jail because he cooperated against John Gotti. I mean, people get great deals. The government usually honors it and that's what makes this --
COOPER: Even noncriminal. People who have witnessed a crime, police are always saying, look, please come forward. People aren't coming forward and crimes aren't being solved because witnesses are too afraid to come forward. Now the police are saying, we'll protect you or even we'll help you, why believe them?
TOOBIN: That's why this is baffling. You know, usually the Supreme Court doesn't take a case just to undo an individual injustice. They're looking for larger principles of law.
Even people on the government side, former government officials have gotten involved in this case or are part of the petition to get the Supreme Court to take tertiary in the case. I wouldn't be surprised to see the Supreme Court step in. This seems wrong at so many levels.
COOPER: And during a war, we help those in foreign countries who have helped us or worked as interpreters or ideally that's the idea or who have worked for U.S. interests overseas. You don't leave those people behind if the war goes bad, all those people left behind in Vietnam, this seems kind of similar.
TOOBIN: Translators in Iraq.
COOPER: Right. Translators in Iraq.
TOOBIN: This is exactly why we want to make a public statement, cooperate with the U.S. government, be an informant if you know about a crime and we'll stand by you. Terrible example here.
COOPER: What's next for that kid?
TOOBIN: Well, what's next is the Supreme Court has to decide whether they'll review the case.
COOPER: It goes that high up?
TOOBIN: It's already at the circuit court of appeals. There is -- I believe they filed a petition for certiorari. If they haven't they're going to and we'll see where they take it.
COOPER: Jeff Toobin, appreciate it. Thanks very much.
Up next, the video tells the whole story, most of it. Total strangers risking their own safety to save a man trapped underneath a car all working together to pull this guy out. We're going to talk to first officer who arrived on the scene.
Also Jon Huntsman one of the candidates running for the Republican presidential nomination, last night, he took part in the Tea Party debate. Tonight, we'll tell you why something he said ends up on the "Ridiculist."
COOPER: This next story is incredible even if you've seen the video, it is worth watching again. A car and a motorcycle collided yesterday in Logan, Utah near Utah State University. The bike burst into flames.
Bystanders rushed over, realized the driver of the motorcycle was pinned underneath the car. So they tried to lift it, but it was too heavy. That's when more people including construction workers, students with backpacks ran to help the others.
A dozen or more people succeed in lifting up one side of the car, pulling the young man to safety. Let's listen to part of the call made to 911.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED CALLER: It looked like someone may be under the vehicle. Cars are burning. You better send somebody. I think I'm going to back up. The motorcycle is spitting out fire and I don't know if it's going to explode or not.
UNIDENTIFIED CALLER: The motorcycle is on fire, car starting on fire right now. That's going to go right now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: The driver of that motorcycle, 21 years old. He underwent surgery. He's reported to be in stable condition. It's a real testament to strangers helping others in need and the power of working together.
The Logan police have called on the good Samaritans to come forward. Joining us on the phone is Sergeant Jason Olsen, the first officer to respond the scene.
Sergeant, you were the first police officer on the scene. What did you see when you first got there?
SGT. JASON OLSEN, LOGAL POLICE DEPT. (via telephone): I saw that the motorcycle and the vehicle were fully involved with fire and citizens were starting to get closer to the scene to investigate.
COOPER: I want to play for our viewers a close-up version of the rescue part of the video. As the motorcyclist is pulled out, you actually see the flames start to creep up his foot. How close -- was there a chance this thing could have blown up? It seems like it.
OLSEN: Well, not only blown up, I mean, people when they think of a car blowing up, they're thinking about the gas tank. But there are other things that go on fire. The first is the tire.
With all that compressed air and everything, melting rubber won't take much to blow through it. When that blows, that blows debris all over the place. Not only a gas explosion.
We had the possibility of the gas tank going on the car that was fully involved. But other things, other explosions and other debris could have happened.
COOPER: I had viewers send me tweets about this video and asking why the young man who was pulled out, why he was pulled out so far, then people stepped back. Was that concern over the flames or not wanting to move his body too much because you don't want to move around an injured person?
OLSEN: You know, that's exactly right. I was concerned about the people being that close to the fire. We were very grateful for their help, but once he was out from underneath the vehicle, I didn't want him drag any further from necessary because it was obvious he was really beat up.
COOPER: There's always concern over internal injuries or other injuries, head injuries if you're moving around a person. We understand you're now trying to identify the good Samaritans in the video. Why?
OLSEN: I'm sorry. Can you say that one more time?
COOPER: Sure. I understand you're now trying to identify the good Samaritans in the video. What do you want to --
OLSEN: There's a lot of media interest in that. We've had an officer working all day to try and get some of the citizens to come forward.
COOPER: Have you seen -- it must be nice as a police officer to see folks pitching in like this and working together.
OLSEN: Well, it certainly was for us at the scene on this occasion because, as a general rule, we try to keep the public out and -- for their own safety. We try to -- as the police we try to manage the scene. That's our priority.
In this particular instance, right when I arrive, I'm motioning to another officer to get me a jack up there because I thought that was the only way.
But it was only seconds that the citizens started to organize and, as I looked over, they were taking matters into their own hands. It appeared to me like it was going to work, so I thought, let's just do it.
COOPER: Yes, and the young man is OK at this point and in stable condition?
OLSEN: That's the latest we've heard. Stable but critical.
COOPER: Sergeant Olsen, I appreciate you talking with us tonight. That's just remarkable this video and again, so nice to see people working together on something like this. Sergeant Olsen, appreciate your time and your service. Thank you.
OLSEN: Thank you.
COOPER: Coming up next, the sound of silence. A presidential candidate's joke kind of fell flat. Try to give him some advice on the "Ridiculist."
COOPER: Time now for the "Ridiculist." Tonight, we're adding whoever writes Republican presidential candidate Jon Huntsman's jokes. Unfortunately, I think it's him. Of course, he's running for president, not mayor of giggles.
In any case, Mr. Huntsman who's slogan who is apparently two shows on Sunday and don't forget to tip your waiter. He tried to zing Mitt Romney with a Nirvana joke at last night's CNN Tea Party debate.
His logic obviously being if there's any political demographic who's going to appreciate early '90s alternative rock references, yes, it's conservative Republicans.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JON HUNTSMAN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: To hear these two go at it over here is almost incredible. You've got Governor Romney who called it a fraud in his book "No Apology." I don't know if this was written by Kurt Cobain or not.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: First of all, the name of the Nirvana song is "All Apologies" not "No Apologies." I'm told we actually have another feed of Mr. Huntsman's zinger. This time reaction from viewers around the country. Let's take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HUNTSMAN: To hear these two go at it over here, it's almost incredible. You have got Governor Romney who called it a fraud in his book "No Apology." I don't know if that was written by Kurt Cobain or not.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Obviously, we added in the crickets. I'm sure you realized this by now, Governor Huntsman, but if you were intent on going the Nirvana route, the least you could have done was get advice from Courtney Love. I mean, not only is he Kurt Cobain's widow, the lady knows how to work the room.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COURTNEY LOVE: I look at audiences and I like what I see. When I say (inaudible) you, they say it in a loving manner and they say (inaudible) right back.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Charming. But if you want to know my advice, perhaps over coffee on a rainy night, I would say forget about the Nirvana jokes. If it's laughs you're looking for, take a lesson from all the forgotten 2000 presidential candidate Gary Bauer and go big.
See? He fell, but it's funny because he got back up. Let's be honest, the Gary Bauer move, total rip-off of scarlet takes a tumble.
She was OK, too, trust me. I know well the story of Scarlet takes a tumble. If you can translate Youtube hits into votes, you will win in a landslide.
No, Governor Huntsman, that's not a Stevie Nicks' reference. But look, I get it, sir, maybe you knew Scarlet takes a tumble or Gary Bauer takes a tumble, that's fine.
But you actually were on to something, lightening up the mood can be crucial for a president. Don't just take my word for it. That Boris Yeltsin, the Rodney Dangerfield of Russia. Unfortunately, he's passed away, no longer available for a bilateral comedy summit.
But never fear, I'm sure whoever writes Jon Huntsman's jokes will come up with something for the next Tea Party event. Maybe a knee slap about Alison Change or maybe the work of Ronald Reagan reference into some sound guarding lyrics. Until then no worries just relax and take a deep breath because it smells like teen spirit on the "Ridiculist."
That does it for 360. We'll see you again at 10 p.m. Eastern. Thanks for watching. "PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT" starts now.