Return to Transcripts main page
ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Deficit Battle Heats Up; SeaWorld vs. Federal Investigators
Aired September 19, 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: It is 10:00 p.m. here on the East Coast.
"Keeping Them Honest" tonight: Here we go again, the president and Republicans drawing lines in the sand over the nation's deficit. It led to the nation's debt downgrade, lines that just over a month ago led to the nation's debt downgrade, lines that have approval ratings for both Congress and the president near record lows.
The latest showdown started today when President Obama unveiled his long awaited dead reduction plan. A roughly $3 trillion savings plan that would help pay for his jobs plan. The president is calling for some cuts to Medicare and Medicaid but nothing to Social Security.
Republicans say the changes to entitlement programs do not go far enough. Half of the money raised in the president's plan, about $1. 5, would come mainly from higher taxes on the wealthiest Americans. The proposal is being called the Buffett rule, a reference to Warren Buffett, chairman and chief executive of Berkshire Hathaway Investment Company, a billionaire who famously lives modestly in Omaha, Nebraska.
Buffett argues that the richest Americans aren't being taxed enough. Buffett says he pays a lower tax rate than his secretary. He wrote about it last month in a "New York Times" op-ed entitled "Stop Coddling the Super Rich."
Well, here's how strongly President Obama believes in his deficit reduction plan. He's vowing to veto any legislation that cuts Medicare and Medicaid and entitlements without raising taxes on the wealthy.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I will not support any plan that puts all the burden for closing our deficit on ordinary Americans. And I will veto any bill that changes benefits for those who rely on Medicare but does not raise serious revenues by asking the wealthiest Americans or biggest corporations to pay their fair share.
This is not class warfare. It's math.
(END OF VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, this is not class warfare, reference to the criticism that he had received from Republicans who were saying that it is exactly that, class warfare. They're also calling the president's tax proposal a cheap political gimmick. Pure political play, they say, as he runs for re-election and works to get more support from middle class voters.
Here's what House Speaker John Boehner said today about the president's plan.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Now the president wants to talk about increased taxes. Listen, I am for increased revenue to the federal government. We need revenue. But I want to get new revenue from putting Americans back to work again and back on the tax rolls.
(END OF VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Republicans say no tax increases on the wealthy. Well, the president is vowing a veto if certain conditions aren't met.
"Keeping Them Honest," that doesn't jibe with the message the president has been spreading since July about the nation's debt. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: During the debt ceiling debate, I had hoped to negotiate a compromise. That's what the American people are looking for, is some compromise. Maybe they'll get back to Washington ready to compromise. But it does require everybody being willing to make compromise. We need to reach a compromise. Common sense and compromise. A willingness to compromise. Trying to compromise. Compromise. Compromise. Compromise. Compromise. Compromise. Compromise. You've got to be willing to compromise.
(END OF VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: You got to be willing to compromise, said the president over and over. Clearly the White House doesn't feel that has been working, so today he tacked left most likely as an opening salvo for future negotiations with Republicans.
One thing is clear tonight, Americans are fed up. The latest approval rating for Congress is just 12 percent in the CBS/"New York Times" poll. Twelve percent.
Last month after lawmakers and the White House worked out a debt ceiling plan, a CNN/ORC poll found 77 percent of Americans felt elected officials acted like spoiled children. And you'll likely remember when the S&P downgraded America's credit rating last month they took issue with the fighting in Washington, saying, quote, "The political brinksmanship of recent months highlights what we see as America's governance and policy making becoming less stable, and less effective and less predictable than what we previously believed."
It went on to say, quote, "Our opinion is that elected officials remain wary of tackling the structural issues required to effectively address the rising U.S. public debt burden."
Let's talk about it now. Joining us now are chief White House correspondent Jessica Yellin who's down at the United Nations in New York where the president was earlier today.
So all that talk about compromise between -- from the president, why the shifted position now?
JESSICA YELLIN, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, after the debt deal failed, Anderson, the president and his aides became convinced that the Republicans are just determined to block him at every turn and deny him any victories. So this is a switch of gears and an effort to define what the president stands for heading into campaign 2012, to effectively define him and the Democrats as champions of the middle class against a Republican Party they seek to define as protectors of the wealthy.
And it does outline a set of principles that they'd like the super committee to go after, but really what you've seen is the beginning of the contours of campaign 2012, Anderson.
COOPER: So basically from the White House perspective, this works on two fronts. You set the terms of the debate that you hope to have and perhaps ultimately some sort of compromise, but it's basically setting your flag in the ground. And if that doesn't work, it makes the other side look as if they're not willing to compromise, not really willing to negotiate?
YELLIN: That's right. And the truth is, it also has the effect of -- to some extent -- curtailing what the super committee can do because a number of Republicans, top Republican sources I spoke with today said, look, the president's proposal is dead on arrival as far as we're concerned when it gets to Congress, but because he issued this veto threat it does limit what Congress can do.
Because think about it this way, if Republicans wanted to do all entitlement cuts with no tax increases, they're going to have to think again now because the president has issued this veto threat. The other piece of this is, think of all these Democrats who are complaining that the president seems so weak during debt negotiations offering Republicans just too much in the minds of Democrats.
This veto threat in the minds of many Democrats makes the president have something of a backbone in their view. So it does, as you say, work on multiple levels for the president, Anderson.
COOPER: Jessica, thanks for that.
Now to the "Raw Politics" of all this. Listen to what House Speaker Boehner had to say today. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BOEHNER: At a time when it's spending that's out of control, giving the federal government more money would be like giving a cocaine addict, all right, more cocaine. We've got to get spending out of control.
(END OF VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Giving a cocaine addict more cocaine, he said. President Obama and his fellow Democrats agree spending must get under control. But here's what Republicans don't acknowledge. Poll after poll shows most Americans approve of raising taxes on the wealthy as part of a package to lower the deficit.
What's more, the latest poll conducted by CBS and "New York Times" shows a majority, 74 percent, support tax increases alone or a mix of tax hikes on the wealthy and spending cuts to lower the deficit. Only 21 percent want spending cuts alone.
Earlier I talked about the fight ahead with CNN political analyst Roland Martin and Ari Fleischer, former White House press secretary to President George W. Bush. You can follow him on Twitter, @AriFleischer.
COOPER: Ari, every single poll shows that Americans overwhelmingly support increasing taxes on the wealthy. The latest CNN poll shows two out of three Americans approve of it. "The New York Times" poll, others. So are Republicans on the wrong side of this debate?
ARI FLEISCHER, FORMER GEORGE W. BUSH WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Well, I don't think it's that simple, Anderson. People always say make somebody else do it, I don't want to. But that's not how you build a strong nation and that's not what presidents should do.
You know I will give the president credit for at least putting something specific on the table. I think he's going to find that that's -- to some degree enhances his leverage in his hand. The problem is, it only really enhances it with the left of his party. I think you're going to even see in the Senate where a number of Democrats who are vulnerable, who are up for reelection they won't come anywhere close to supporting this proposal because it's radioactive down the center and that's a big problem.
COOPER: Well, Roland, I mean there are a lot of folks like Ari is saying this plan, as it is now, has no chance really of going anywhere. So is this just about politics?
ROLAND MARTIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: First of all, keep in mind, when the president sat there in the debt ceiling debate and proposed changes to Medicare and Social Security, Republicans shot that down. You had a president who was trying to offer a bipartisan approach. They said no.
In a Republican debate, they say if you could have 10 cuts to every one revenue increase, the candidate still said no, thanks. And so the president had to be aggressive with this action. And so it makes perfect sense. CNN's own polling shows more than 60 percent of the people agree with what he suggested. Also the same thing when they said, when it came to the Bush tax cuts, don't provide more tax cuts to the rich, 60 plus percent still with it.
So I disagree with Ari when he says it's not going to work in the center. The fact of the matter is, those are not just Democrats who are responding that way. It is also independents.
COOPER: Ari, you're shaking your head when he said it appeals to independents?
FLEISCHER: Yes. It certainly doesn't appeal to independents. And that's why so many Democrats in those tight races that I mentioned don't want to come anywhere close to supporting this.
In fact, Mark Penn, who is Hillary Clinton's pollster in the last election, he said on the record today, that Barack Obama is careening down the wrong path to reelection. He should be working as president, not a candidate. He should be claiming the vital center, not abandoning it.
MARTIN: Mark Penn, we saw how well he did in giving advice to Hillary Clinton in her race.
Look, you have Republicans who are in a position who constantly say no to everything. If you're going to achieve any kind of compromise in Washington, D. C. , you cannot have a GOP on one side saying no, we don't care, absolutely not. And so they want to shut off all options.
The president has made an effort, and he's been criticized by his own party for, yes, giving up too much as you alluded to in your opening question, and they still said no. And so he needs to be aggressive with it. And so we can't keep sitting here just somehow thinking, well, the Republicans will say we want everything that we want and refuse to give up anything. They have to show some willingness to compromise. Thus far they have shown none.
COOPER: I want -- I talked to Reince Priebus, the head of the RNC, just a short time ago today. I just want to play you something I asked him about.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REINCE PRIEBUS, REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: The president is carefully charting a course for his reelection campaign in 2012. I think -- I think you know it. I think a lot listeners know it that what he's doing is setting up our country for a classic game of class warfare.
(END OF VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: A lot of Republicans are using that term class warfare. How do you respond?
MARTIN: Poll driven word, that's a poll driven phrase, Anderson. That's all it is. And so when you hear them -- all of a sudden the president comes out, all of them are using the exact same phrase. That's exactly what it is. But you tell me this here. Last with the Census Bureau dropped the report of the 12 poorest states. Guess what? None of those are red states.
COOPER: All right, do you think this is class warfare by the president? Because the president will say, look, the Republicans have actually been waging class warfare, they're just on the side of the super-rich.
FLEISCHER: Sure, it's partially class warfare. I think it's partly also heartfelt Democratic ideology to raise taxes and slash the Pentagon as a way to solve problems. That's what this proposal really does. That's where it gets most of its, quote-unquote, deficit reduction or savings from.
But here are the numbers also and they're worth pointing out. The top 1 percent of this country makes more than $353,000 a year. They pay 19. 4 percent of all the -- they made 19. 4 percent of all the income in this country and pay 28. 1 percent of all the income taxes.
The tax burden has increasingly shifted into a smaller and smaller sliver of people who pay it. But 47 percent of the country pays zero income taxes at all. Both parties are culpable in getting people off the hook so nobody has an obligation anymore to pay income taxes in this country.
MARTIN: Ari, if you're sitting at home right now and you're a family of four, you're making $35,000 a year and you're sitting here watching Wall Street execs getting record bonuses after those very same people bailed them out, the last thing you want to do is sit here and hear you talk about, oh, you're not paying taxes.
They're paying sales tax, they're paying gasoline tax, they're numerous taxes every single day.
FLEISCHER: I think the fundamental problem here is it's a political proposal the president made today. And as you can see from how excited and happy Roland is, it will work on the liberal left.
FLEISCHER: But the president has got a problem about shoring up the center, independents. And that's where I think this -- this proposal of his is going to fall short both substantively and politically.
COOPER: We've got to leave it there. Ari Fleischer, Roland Martin. Thank you both.
COOPER: Hey, let us know what you think, we're on Facebook. Follow me on Twitter, @AndersonCooper. I will be tweeting tonight in this hour.
Up next, a CNN producer caught in the crossfire in Libya.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) IAN LEE, CNN PRODUCER: I have been shot.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Down, down, down.
(END OF VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: They drove to the hospital. What happened there is incredible. We'll show it to you, coming up.
Also ahead. "Up Close": SeaWorld vs. federal investigators in court today. Investigators say the park willfully put its whale trainers at risk. There was a hearing today. A judge will decide if that is true or not after the death of a SeaWorld trainer in front of a horrified crowd.
Let's also check in with our own Isha Sesay -- Isha.
ISHA SESAY, CNN ANCHOR: Anderson, 360 followed dramatic new video that showed the moments just before and after that deadly crash during an air race in Nevada. It happened so fast there was no time to get out of the way. The death toll has Risen. We'll have the latest. That's just ahead -- that and much more when 360 continues.
COOPER: It's been a month since anti-Gadhafi forces stormed Libya's capital, seized control and while dictator Gadhafi is nowhere to be found yet his loyalists are still fighting to defend his name. The very measures of success.
Now this story, as you know, is not commanding the headlines maybe it was in some places that it was just a couple of weeks ago but the fight is still on in a very big, sometimes terrifying way. People are still fighting, still dying. And reporters continue to put themes at risk.
If you want to know what this fight looks like, take a look at this extraordinary report from CNN's Phil Black.
PHIL BLACK, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Revolutionary fighters advancing through Sirte. A commander sees movement in the distance. He calls for one gunman to fire. The rest of the unit joins in, shooting wildly. They come under fire. An ambulance is hit by a rocket-propelled grenade. They and we are caught in the open.
(on camera): Taking a pot shot at something in the distance. The moment their fighters opened up, then there were some big returned fire.
(voice-over): CNN producer Ian Lee was hit. LEE: I have been shot.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Down, down, down. Get down. That's good. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everybody, quickly.
BLACK (on camera): Go, go, go.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now get down. Right side. Go right side of everything. Go, go, go. Go.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's it. The other way. The other way.
BLACK (voice-over): We start to check Ian's injury.
(on camera): It looks like there is still a piece of shrapnel inside. You can feel it?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, I can feel it when he was moving around, I can feel it inside.
BLACK (voice-over): At nearby field hospital medics help Ian. While dealing with their own grief.
(on camera): A colleague of these men was killed in the same attack just minutes away from where the RPG, we think, hit the ambulance that was near us.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is our colleague. This was a medic and his -- at the same his ambulance driver.
BLACK: What was his name?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Haled Sefati (ph).
BLACK: And how old was he?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Year-old, about 27, 28.
BLACK: Tell me about him.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Today morning, he woke up me in my bed in the hospital and said, we go to the front line. We are joking that ambulance, we are coming here. He is really happy. Suddenly he came to us. He's died. (INAUDIBLE)
BLACK (voice-over): This medic was there, too. He saw his friend die, but he must keep working.
Casualties keep coming. On this day alone, more than 20 revolutionary fighters are killed in the chaotic battle for Sirte.
COOPER: Incredible video. Phil Black joins us now from Tripoli.
Phil, we saw your producer Ian Lee injured with a piece of shrapnel. I assume he's doing OK now, yes?
BLACK: He is doing OK. And we brought him back to Tripoli, Anderson. He was evacuated to France. Doctors there were initially concerned because the piece of shrapnel was close to the bone, it was deep. But they have -- they have gone in and taken it out and he is now doing OK.
COOPER: It's amazing, this all began with one basically pot shot by a rebel fighter. What happened? I mean, how did this thing just suddenly flare up?
BLACK: It's an example, I guess, of how undisciplined these guys can be, but also the nature of the environment. Those pro-Gadhafi forces, as you saw, they're not giving up. They're taking advantage of this urban environment. They're concealed within buildings, and so they fire quickly with devastating effect like that, often using RPGs to cause real problem for the revolutionaries who as ever are not professional soldiers.
So they're not moving through these cities taking ground and holding on to it. Instead, they are rolling in, in their convoys, blasting away like that, taking casualties, but at the end of each day, they pull back to the outskirts of the city only to have to go in again the following morning and often fight for the same ground once more.
It is a cycle that's been going on for a few days now. It's a costly tactic. And it is not giving them a quick result -- Anderson.
COOPER: And in Sirte, is -- I mean is Gadhafi thought to be there or is he thought to be further south near the Nigerian border?
BLACK: It is not believed that he himself is there but given the way that these pro-Gadhafi fighters are fighting the commitment that they are showing, some of the radio intercept rebels claimed they have heard they believe there is a high profile former regime person within that city. They're not sure who it is. It could be one of his sons that's still fighting their way through to try to find out.
COOPER: Phil black, please be careful. Our best to your crew.
There's a lot of other news we're following tonight.
Isha Sesay joins us with the "360 Bulletin" -- Isha.
SESAY: Anderson, renewed hope tonight for peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians. Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu today appealed for direct peace talks with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
Earlier in the day Abbas told the U.N. secretary-general he still intends to submit a member application for the state of Palestine to the U.N. Security Council. Negotiations between the two sides broke down a year ago.
Authorities in Yemen cracked down on protesters in the capital Sanaa today. And today leaving more than two dozen dead. The United States and the United Nations offer an end to the escalating violence which Amnesty International says has left 200 people dead since February.
And a legal issue for the Obama administration. A federal appeals court ruled that the 17-year sentence give to a convicted terrorist Jose Padilla was too lenient. Padilla and two others were convicted in 2007 of conspiracy to murder U.S. citizens and are providing money to terror groups.
Authorities in Georgia have not yet decided whether to grant a clemency request for Troy Davis. He was convicted of killing a Savannah police officer in 1989. If the state of George does not intervene, Davis will be put to death by lethal injection by 7: 00 p. m. on Wednesday.
And a mea culpa from Netflix. The company's CEO apologized in a blog post for the way a recent price hikes were communicated and said no more increases are in the pipeline. The video rental company is clicking up a DVD by mail service from its Internet streaming service.
We shall see if that appeases everyone, Anderson.
COOPER: We shall see. Isha, thanks.
We want to take a minute now to just tell you about a project at the program that we're really excited about. Facebook and Time Warner Incorporated, our parent company, announced today the launch of the Stop Bullying, Speak Up social pledge app. It's an interactive app that lets educators, parents, students, everyone make a personal commitment to help stop bullying.
If you want to make a pledge you can find it on our Facebook page, Facebook.com/AC360. And join us for our special report "Bullying: It Stops Here" which starts on October 9.
Coming up tonight, a hearing in Florida over the death of that whale trainer who was pulled into the water, drowned by a killer whale. Should SeaWorld Orlando be charged in the death of Dawn Brancheau. A federal judge hears testimony today.
Also ahead a trial beginning in Connecticut in a horrifying home invasion that left a doctor's wife and two daughters dead. The doctor managed to escape. One man has already received the death sentence. You may remember those -- that trial. Now a second suspect is on trial.
COOPER: "Up Close" tonight: A hearing started in Florida over the death of a whale trainer at SeaWorld Orlando. Now in February 2010 you may remember this woman Dawn Brancheau was working on a platform next to the whale tank handling a whale named Tilikum in front of a live audience when the whale pulled her into the tank and killed her. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration investigated the incident, cited SeaWorld for three safety violations including one that accuses SeaWorld of exposing employees to hazardous conditions when working with killer whales.
SeaWorld has dismissed the allegations as unfounded and is contesting them. So both sides are pretty much now duking it out at this hearing, which is expected to last a week.
Randi Kaye tonight has more on the incident involving an animal that had killed before.
RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): You're looking at video of SeaWorld trainer Dawn Brancheau. A tourist taped this. It was just moments before the 12,000 pound killer whale called Tilikum took the veteran trainer into his mouth and dove under water.
Brancheau sways from side to side. He follows. She splashes him with buckets of water and feeds him fish. A reward for playing along. Then suddenly his behavior seemed to change.
The wife of the tourist who took this video described what happened on NBC.
SUE CONNELL, WITNESSED SEAWORLD ATTACK: He grabbed her by the head. In, you know, a very hard thrust, she went down. And I screamed and she screamed. And then I started yelling to the other trainer, because he wasn't looking. I said: "He just took her down. He took her down."
KAYE: Look closely at this video. You can see Brancheau's long ponytail swinging back and forth. But it may not have looked attractive to the six-ton killer whale until she got closer. The man who trained her says she made a fatal mistake.
THAD LUCINAK, FORMER TRAINER AT SEAWORLD: I think she made a mistake for allowing herself to be that close to his mouth and laying down. That's a pretty vulnerable position to be in with an animal like him. So I think -- I think even if Dawn was sitting here with me right now, she would tell you that that was a mistake that she made.
KAYE (on camera): Remember, Tillicum had killed before. In 1991, he and two other whales dragged a trainer who had fallen into their pool underwater at a park in British Columbia. Thad Lucinak says that's why SeaWorld was more cautious with him. Trainers were not allowed to swim with Tillicum.
LUCINAK: He's not used to people being in the water. He was laying there looking at her. She was rubbing him down. And all of a sudden, the ponytail was there.
KAYE (voice-over): On this video, you can see what he's talking about. Brancheau is on a shelf that slides out into the pool, laying in about four inches of water, right next to the 22-foot-long orca. LUCINAK: The ponytail drifted there. He probably grabbed it and then pulled her in. And then went, "Whoa, I've got her in the water."
KAYE (on camera): Lucinak, who has worked with whales for more than three decades, says he's convinced, at least in the beginning, that Tillicum had no idea he was doing anything wrong or hurting his trainer. He says Brancheau understandably panicked, and that trauma only got the killer whale even more excited.
(voice-over) The medical examiner said Dawn Brancheau likely died from multiple traumatic injuries and drowning.
LUCINAK: I constantly remind trainers never get comfortable, totally comfortable with the animals.
KAYE: He says there's a reason these whales are called killer whales. And what they may think is a game can be fatal.
Randi Kaye, CNN, Washington.
COOPER: Joining us now is David Kirby, the author of "Death at SeaWorld." Also with us is former SeaWorld trainer, Carol Ray.
So David, SeaWorld is fighting that, quote unquote, willful neglect violation that OSHA slapped them with. From everything -- from everything that you know, was there willful neglect? Should SeaWorld be held responsible?
DAVID KIRBY, AUTHOR, "DEATH AT SEAWORLD": I think OSHA has a pretty strong case here. It will be very interesting to see what SeaWorld says this week to defend themselves.
SeaWorld was obviously aware that this was a whale who had killed -- been involved in the deaths of two other people. And to allow Dawn to get in the water so close to the whale, as she did, I don't think it was her fault. SeaWorld let her do it.
I mean, let's face it: someone is at fault here, probably. You can't blame a killer whale for killing somebody. So it was either Dawn's fault or SeaWorld's fault. And contrary to what Mr. Lazernak (ph) has testified, I was in court all day today, and Kelly Flaherty Clark, the head of curating (ph) for animal training, said that Dawn followed protocol, that this was not Dawn's fault. Where does that leave us?
COOPER: Carol, what do you make of it? You used to train whales at SeaWorld. From everything you know about the incident, whose fault was it?
CAROL RAY, FORMER SEAWORLD TRAINER: Oh, gosh, that's a great question. And couldn't agree with David Kirby more when he talks about the fact that Dawn was doing something that trainers had been doing with Tillicum for quite a while. So she was not put in a position on that day that she hadn't been in several times before.
And if there was an issue with that, it should have been brought to her attention. She was a star trainer at SeaWorld. If it had been brought to her attention that she shouldn't be doing that, I'm sure that she wouldn't be doing that. So...
COOPER: Carol, should these -- should these animals, killer whales are so big in these tanks which basically they just go around in circles. Should they be in captivity like this? Should they be used in these kind of shows?
RAY: Gosh, you know, I think that the only thing we've learned from having these -- or one of the most important things we've learned from having these animals in captivity is they're not suitable to have in captivity.
And regardless, though, I think that, whichever way you go in terms of your thoughts on whether or not these animals should be used for exploitation and entertainment, the fact of the matter is, I don't think there is a safe way to have humans interacting in close proximity with these whales.
COOPER: David, do you agree with that?
KIRBY: I'm coming to that conclusion as I'm doing research on this book over the last year. And I've been to see killer whales in the wild. I've been on three different trips to the northwest. I've been up close with killer whales in the wild.
I spent all day yesterday at SeaWorld. I saw the Shamu show twice. It's a nice show. But there's just nothing to compare a captive killer whale with a wild killer whale. And anybody who has seen the two, I think, would agree with me.
And I think that these whales are so smart, so attached to their families, so wide-free-ranging and so acoustically oriented, that when they are kept contained and confined in the small concrete pool, it is stressful for them. And the scientists that I've interviewed have testified to that fact.
I also just want to say that the ponytail thing, I think that needs to be revisited. Because even if you look at that video, Anderson, it appears that Tillicum already has Dawn by the arm and is slowly moving her across the water. And of course, there were eyewitnesses who testified, such as Mrs. Connell. She said Tillicum grabbed Dawn by the head.
There were other eyewitnesses who said he grabbed her by the arm or the body. Now, two of those eyewitnesses were supposed to show up today in court, and they failed to appear.
COOPER: Carol, we got a hold of internal documents from SeaWorld describing each whale's history and his behavioral tendency. I want to show you part of Tillicum's profile. All it says about the incident that resulted in Dawn's death is 12 words. It says, "Grabbed ponytail, pulled in water, held trainer under water, carried/towed trainer." It doesn't even mention anything about the fact that this animal killed her. Does that surprise you?
RAY: Yes. It's very -- no, it's not surprising. It's ridiculous, but it's not surprising.
Unfortunately, I think those animal profiles that you see are sugarcoated. And given that information, that information is used to give to a trainer, to make a decision about what they're going to do in their interactions with a whale. And if that is all the information that they put in that document, how is a trainer to make an educated decision about what they want to do with a whale?
COOPER: And David, this is a huge business for them. This is not just a question of, well, we believe these whales should be seen by the public so the public can learn about them. I mean, this is a huge moneymaker for them, yes?
KIRBY: Absolutely, this is a multibillion-dollar business. And they say that the killer whales bring in roughly 70 percent or are responsible for 70 percent of the take at the gate and the merchandise.
That's why SeaWorld's fighting so hard. They want the whales back in the water.
KIRBY: And having seen shows with trainers in the water and out of the water, I can understand why.
I would also just like to say, a woman has died. She was somebody's wife. She was somebody's sister and daughter. And we can argue all the legal arguments and everything, but I don't think that that should be forgotten.
KIRBY: And it is a terrible tragedy. I can understand why they don't want to have this video released to the public.
And you mentioned what was in the trainer's report. If you read the autopsy or now some of the actual OSHA memo on the attack that have been released or leaked, it was a very brutal attack. It was purposeful. He continued to ram her after she was already lifeless.
KIRBY: This was not roughhousing. This was not just a game. In my opinion, this was a killing, a tragic one.
COOPER: And -- and someone else had died before already.
KIRBY: And it was preventable.
COOPER: Of course, a presentable one. I should say we invited -- we should say we invited SeaWorld on to -- to express their opinion. They chose not to. David Kirby, appreciate you being on.
Carol Ray, we'll continue to check in with you.
Coming up, another trial begins in that horrifying home invasion in Connecticut. Remember the one that destroyed a family, left a doctor's wife and two daughters dead. The doctor managed to escape, crawled to a neighbor's house. One man has already been convicted, sentenced to death. Now his alleged accomplice is on trial. We'll take you there.
Also, another confirmed death from that plane death at the Reno, Nevada, air race. We told you about it on Friday. We'll look at new video we just got of the crash. We'll have the latest.
COOPER: "Crime & Punishment" in Connecticut. The trial of a second defendant in a gruesome triple murder case began today. The case is heartbreaking, as heartbreaking as it is horrifying.
Joshua Komisarjevsky is accused of killing Jennifer Hawke-Petit and her two daughters, Hayley and Michaela, during a 2007 home invasion. You probably remember this crime. The suspect faces a possible death sentence. His co-defendant was sentenced to death last year.
Both men already had long criminal histories when their paths crossed.
Here again is Randi Kaye.
KAYE (voice-over): A hint of violence, a disturbing prediction of what might come buried in this letter from prison.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: "I need someone like you who knows a little about my past to keep me grounded in the future when my criminal demon starts to wander."
KAYE: Joshua Komisarjevsky, now accused of killing Jennifer Hawke-Petit and her two daughters, Hayley and Michaela, was worried about his criminal demon. Days after the attack, we interviewed this woman, who told us she was a close friend. She asked us not to show her face but shared the letter she says he sent her from prison years before.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: "Prison was a hard pill for me to swallow. There isn't a day that goes by that I don't get angry. There isn't a day that goes by that I don't feel the pain of being taken from my daughter."
KAYE: He writes about his dreams of becoming a real-estate developer.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: "My daughter needs me, and I can't accomplish my goals when I'm locked up."
KAYE: But now Komisarjevsky is back behind bars on charges including sexual assault and murder. Police say Komisarjevsky followed Mrs. Hawke-Petit and one of her daughters home from the grocery store in July 2007 and chose them as his next victims.
If that's true and these men did kill the three family members, it doesn't fit their M.O.
(on camera) Neither suspect has ever been arrested for murder before, though they are hardly strangers to crime. In fact, between the two of them, they've been arrested nearly 50 times.
On Hayes' rap sheet 27 arrests, including illegal possession of a firearm, burglary and forgery. Komisarjevsky's past is just as ugly: 20 arrests for burglary and larceny. Police say he sometimes used night vision goggles.
(voice-over) Both have served time in prison.
But it was here at the Stillman Halfway House in Hartford, Connecticut, where they first met. They were roommates for four months.
What might have driven them to sexually assault and strangle Jennifer Hawke-Petit and leave her two beautiful daughters to die in a fire they had set? Forensic psychiatrist Helen Morrison has studied cases like this.
HELEN MORRISON, FORENSIC PSYCHIATRIST: It appears that both of them were really consumed with rage at the unfairness of their lives, so to speak.
KAYE (on camera): Komisarjevsky was adopted as an infant. His grandfather was a leading Russian theatrical director and the son of a princess, his grandmother a well known modern dancer. A family friend told us his parents, born-again Christians, had trouble controlling him.
(voice-over) His friend told us that just five days before the murders, Komisarjevsky was distraught over a breakup.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He was really, really depressed.
KAYE: She said if he did kill Jennifer Hawke-Petit and her girls, something snapped.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He put the terror into these poor girls' hearts. He was a person that -- that they spent their last hours in fear for their lives. And he left them to burn.
KAYE: A senseless act not even a history of crime can explain.
Randi Kaye, CNN, New York.
(END VIDEOTAPE) COOPER: Such a horrific crime. Sunny Hostin, a former federal prosecutor, legal contributor for "In Session" on TruTV, joins me now.
Sunny, you were inside the courtroom. What was it like in there? What sort of state did Komisarjevsky appear to be in?
SUNNY HOSTIN, LEGAL CONTRIBUTOR, TRUTV'S "IN SESSION": He looks very different from the mug shot photo that most people have seen. He's much heavier now. He sort of has a buzz cut. He was very well dressed, Anderson. He had a suit. He had a tie. He was extremely engaged, looking at all the exhibits, speaking to his attorneys, looking at the jury. A very engaged Joshua Komisarjevsky, much different than what we saw with Steven Hayes.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, it's interesting, because Hayes, his defense basically tried to lay the blame on Komisarjevsky. Now they're doing the same thing. They've basically now just trying to blame Hayes. Is it any chance that's going to be more effective than it was the last time?
HOSTIN: You know, I have to tell you, I was very surprised in the courtroom when I saw the blame game being played out. You're right. They're saying that Komisarjevsky was not the ring leader, that, in fact, he had no intent to go in and murder these women. He only had the intent to go in and break in and steal.
I will tell you the jury is certainly listening. The prosecution didn't give an opening statement, which is a bit unusual. The defense opening statement wasn't long, but it was pretty effective in painting Joshua Komisarjevsky as an almost sympathetic character in the sense that they said he had sole custody of his little girl. He was working at the time and that he was really only interested in stealing. He certainly wasn't interested in murder.
So a very, very different picture of Komisarjevsky, Anderson, than I thought we were going to see, based on the evidence that came in during the Hayes trial.
COOPER: We're going to continue to follow this trial, because the crime was so, so disturbing. And it's important that we get justice for the victims. Sunny, appreciate you being with us. Thanks very much.
Just ahead tonight, dramatic new video of the deadly crash during an air race in Nevada. The moments just before the vintage plane plunged into a crowd, causing a lot of casualties, and the chaos that followed.
Also ahead tonight Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the former head of the IMF, breaking his silence about the sexual assault charges that cost him his job before they went dry. We'll be right back.
ISHA SESAY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Back to Anderson in a moment. First, a "360 Bulletin. New video shows the moments just before a race turned deadly at a popular air show in Nevada. In an instant, a vintage plane plunged into the crowd, turning it into a disaster scene. A tenth person has died from injuries. Nearly 70 others were hurt. Investigators are trying to determine what caused the crash.
In an interview on French television, Dominique Strauss-Kahn talked about the sexual assault charges that were dropped against him, saying he was guilty of, quote, "moral weakness" and called the incident involving a hotel maid an error and a mistake.
Tomorrow, the U.S. Defense Department will formally repeal the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy that required members of the military to stay quiet about his or her sexual orientation. The policy has been in place since 1993.
And five years after a school girl in Japan dropped a message in a bottle into the ocean it surfaced more than 4,000 miles away in Kauai, Hawaii. A Navy petty officer found it while cleaning up the beach.
Now back to Anderson.
COOPER: Up next, the man who caused me to, well, to giggle uncontrollably. He's not on the "RidicuList," but all you naysayers, including myself, get a plastic bottle and get ready to change your mind about Gerard Depardieu, next.
COOPER: Time now for the "RidicuList." And tonight we're adding all those naysayers who thought it was inappropriate for French actor Gerard Depardieu to pee on a plane. And yes, I admit, I was once among the naysayers. Nay-sprayers, if you will.
Because when the story leaked that Monsieur Depardieu relieved himself in the cabin in front of all the other passengers, I might put him on "The RidicuList." It was too good to resist, of course. The story was bursting with opportunities to combine word play and bathroom humor. So I basically gave Depardieu a 21-pun salute, the 16th of which led to what we now refer to around here as Giggle-gate.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Depardieu, I know you got it, but -- sorry. Sorry. This has actually never happened to me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: All right. Anyway, I got to the bottom of the story once and for all. On my new daytime talk show -- check your local listings -- I interviewed the Academy-Award-nominated urinator himself, and he explained what happened. Take a leak -- I mean...
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Why did you pee on the plane?
GERARD DEPARDIEU, ACTOR: You want to pee, you want to make a pee, and you have some -- and I said, "Please, madam, can I go to the toilet?"
She blocked the door with her foot, and she said, "No, go back to your place."
It's hurt me, you know? I'm not sick. I'm not a terrorist. I just want to pee. And she said no. And I have a friend who has a bottle, and he said, "Well, take the bottle."
So I took the bottle and I say, "I have my bottle and I pee." And it was so beautiful, you know.
COOPER: Did it overflow? I mean...
DEPARDIEU: The bottle is way too small. Way too small.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: I don't know if it's the accent or the self-deprecating sense of humor or what, but I kind of love this guy right now. Frankly, I think I was more embarrassed by the giggling than he was by peeing in public.
You know, look, when you've got to go you have to go, and sometimes you don't have access to a bathroom. Carpe pee-um.
So in honor of Gerard, and just in case, I gave everyone in the studio audience an empty bottle that day. Watch what happened next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: If you were able to ever come on this show, we'll have a water bottle here for you.
DEPARDIEU: This is not enough. Look at mine.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: I've seriously become a big fan. Which incidentally, is probably what they used to air out that plane.
I mean, this guy is one of France's most renowned actors, and he's just like, "Oh, well, c'est la pee." Can you imagine, let's say, Robert De Niro getting caught cutting the cheese on a helicopter or something and having such a great sense of humor about it? I think not.
Gerard sums it up like this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DEPARDIEU: I'm not a monster. I'm just a man who wants to pee.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Put that on a T-shirt: "I'm just a man who wants to pee."
Gerard, you just keep on doing that thing you Depardieu. Fly Continental all you want, because I'm now a believer.
And to all you nay-sprayers, if at some point in the future you should sprinkle whilst you tinkle, take a cue from Depardieu and laugh it off, or else you're in trouble on "The RidicuList."
That's it for 360. Thanks for watching. "JOHN KING USA" starts right now. I'll see you tomorrow.