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New Developments in Penn State Scandal; Republican Race Heating Up

Aired December 12, 2011 - 22:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: It's 10:00 here in the East Coast.

There are new developments in the Penn State child sex abuse scandal. The hearing for the former football coach at the center of it is set for tomorrow. Preparations for a media frenzy began just a couple hours ago, closing down streets, roping off sidewalks, getting ready for what is going to be the first step in maybe the biggest criminal proceeding seen in this small town in Pennsylvania in decades.

We're going to have the latest on that in a minute.

But we begin tonight "Keeping Them Honest" with yet more evidence of the cozy web of friendships, professional relationships and old- school ties that may have kept a serial child molester out of prison, on the streets and close to kids.

If the charges -- and I say if the charges -- against Jerry Sandusky are true, and that will be for a jury to decide, he likely had a powerful network of enablers or at the very least countless people who had powerful interests in not believing the allegations against him.

And yes, tonight that circle grew. Take a look. This is the former home of Thomas Harmon, retired Penn State chief of police. He was living there in 1998. And 1998, remember that year. Today we've learned his neighbor back then, just three-door down, was, you guessed it, in the blue house, Jerry Sandusky. That's Jerry Sandusky's house there.

Not only were they neighbors, not only did their kids play and ride bikes together, they worship at the same church. This one, called the St. Paul's United Methodist. Neighbors and fellow church members back in 1998 which is when the mother of an 11-year-old boy went to the university police with a sexual abuse complaint against Coach Sandusky.

Now according to a grand jury report she said it happened on campus at a practice facility. Sandusky allegedly touching the boy inappropriately in the shower. The investigation included officers listening in on phone calls of the mother confronting Sandusky. According to the grand jury report, Sandusky replied, "I was wrong, I wish I could get forgiveness. I know I won't get it from you, I wish I were dead." Despite that, when the local DA declined to press charges, Chief Harmon closed the case. And according to the grand jury report Jerry Sandusky continued to bring kids on campus and allegedly continued molesting them for years after that.

As for the details of why he closed the case, his department isn't releasing them. In fact the entire university is exempt from Pennsylvania's Open Records Law. But former Chief Harmon, not -- he's not the only one with prior connections to Sandusky. There's the judge, allegedly -- Leslie Dutchcot, who released Sandusky on unsecured bail. She donated to and volunteered for Sandusky's Second Mile children's charity. She's no longer handling any Sandusky- related proceedings, we should point out.

There's Wendell Courtney, Penn State's legal counsel who also served as Second Mile's lawyer. There's fired head coach Joe Paterno who was grooming Sandusky to succeed him who claims he wasn't even told at the time that his right-hand man was being investigated. Wasn't told even though Penn State Athletic Director Tim Curley, his boss, perhaps in name only, was brought into the loop.

Plenty of people who are in a position to stop a child molester if that is in fact what Jerry Sandusky was. But given the opportunity, none of them did.

Then there's assistant coach Mike McQueary, now on leave. There are new developments tonight, important developments concerning him. His story apparently shifting yet again. You'll recall he told the grand jury he witnessed Jerry Sandusky raping a boy in the Athletic Building showers back in 2002.

According to the grand jury report, he first called his dad, then Joe Paterno, then later talked to Tim Curley and Gary Schultz. A few weeks ago he took issue with that account. In an e-mail obtained by Allentown's "Morning Call" he claimed -- quote -- "I did stop it. Not physically but made sure it was stopped when I left that locker room."

Now, according to CNN contributor Sara Ganim, yet another version of his story is emerging. Writing to "Harrisburg Patriot News," she quotes a source with knowledge to what a family friend told the grand jury. This friend, she reports, sat with and listened to McQueary as he recounted what he had just seen in the locker room.

Again, according to the Sara Ganim's reporting, the friend told grand jurors that McQueary did not, in fact, witness the rape itself. Instead of any rape -- instead the friend says McQueary told him he heard sex sounds and the shower running.

Then according to his account, a young boy stuck his head around the corner of the shower stall and looked right at McQueary as an adult arm reached around his waist and pulled him back in. Seconds later, according to this account, McQueary saw Sandusky wrapped in a towel leaving.

Joining us now, senior legal analyst, Jeffrey Toobin, also Sunny Hostin of our -- of "In Session" on sister network truTV, and criminal defense attorney Mark Geragos who is here in New York.

Jeff Toobin, the fact that now there is this basically third version of what McQueary may have seen, why are there all these conflicting stories if this was testimony that was given to the grand jury?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Well, people tell conflicting stories. And remember, McQueary has been vilified for not having taken more steps to stop this rape or to report it, so it would not be surprising if in recounting it subsequently he describes his role in a somewhat more heroic way.

So I am not at all -- and it is also true just in the nature of criminal investigations when people tell their stories multiple times they tell it in different ways. It's always a problem for prosecutors. It's not necessarily an insurmountable problem, but clearly McQueary is going to be a difficult witness for the prosecution. Maybe still believable, but he's going to be a witness with problems.

COOPER: Because, Mark, if he said one thing to police in 2010 but said another thing back in -- you know, in 2002 to this guy who heard his story the first time, that would seem to be a big inconsistency.

MARK GERAGOS, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: It's a huge inconsistency, and that's part of the problem with the way this thing has been presented so far. They did the summary of the grand jury testimony. They didn't put out what was actually said. The prosecutors did that.

There's a whole lot of stuff we don't know about. It's one of the reasons I have kind of railed against this, saying well, there's all kinds of evidence or there is an evidence. Until tomorrow we haven't seen anything. We don't know anything that's been cross- examined yet.

But I will tell you if he's told one story that is dramatically different, if you say on one hand I saw a sex act, on the other hand, I saw somebody who peeked their head out and I saw an adult arm, you couldn't get more diametrically opposed and that's a major problem.

COOPER: And a major problem not just in the -- whatever evidence there may be against Sandusky but also two other people have been arrested. Penn State officials basically because of -- allegedly what McQueary informed them of. But in fact if he did not inform them that he saw a sex act with just a more general vague thing, then it seems like the charges against them could be tossed out.

SUNNY HOSTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Look, I don't think that what he's saying is that inconsistent. I don't think we're hearing all these different versions. I think we're hearing a lot of pieces of the entire puzzle.

I think what we need to look at is what he told the grand jury. That is what he told under oath and that's what --

COOPER: But we don't really know --


TOOBIN: We don't know.

HOSTIN: We have a summary -- we have a summary of what he said.

GERAGOS: And I will give you this. I would agree -- well, the summary is by a prosecutor. That's -- you know, you can take that and 25 cents and buy a cup of coffee.

COOPER: If the summary was so -- if the summary was so accurate we would have heard this alternate version that apparently somebody also testified to the grand jury about.


GERAGOS: This person conveniently left out.

HOSTIN: But the point is --

GERAGOS: Which is exactly what you normally have and what the prosecutors do.

HOSTIN: We're going to hear tomorrow -- we're going to hear tomorrow, and the bottom line is, this is why witnesses of sex crimes don't want to come forward because they become vilified, because they're scrutinized and Mike McQueary is just as much a victim by his --

GERAGOS: But wait a second. Wait a second. Why are you a victim --


GERAGOS: Why are you a victim --

HOSTIN: He is, he is.

GERAGOS: if you said on one hand --

HOSTIN: And he's been vilified.

GERAGOS: I saw a sex act and somebody's been arrested and two guys, as Anderson say, have also been arrested for not reporting that.

HOSTIN: He said he saw something and he heard something.

GERAGOS: What if he didn't see it?

HOSTIN: He saw something and he heard something.

GERAGOS: What if it turns out he didn't.

TOOBIN: I don't see how McQueary --

HOSTIN: What about the other 10 kids?

TOOBIN: I don't see how McQueary is a victim at all. Here is a grown man who is seeing at least very clear evidence if not actual evidence of a sex -- of a child being raped and all he does is tell his daddy. I mean, I have no sympathy --

HOSTIN: He did even more than that.

COOPER: But now it sounds like maybe all he heard was slapping sounds and, you know, which he interpreted as one thing and didn't actually see anything but just saw this boy peek his head around.

TOOBIN: You know what? Do more. This is too serious to -- you know, to say, well, I will talk to my dad. I mean, you know, err on the side of protecting children.

HOSTIN: But he didn't only do that. That's not fair.

GERAGOS: I don't understand --

TOOBIN: He did what?

HOSTIN: He didn't only do that. He did speak to Joe Paterno.

GERAGOS: We don't know what he did.

HOSTIN: He did -- he did do more.

COOPER: But the version that this other person has now -- that's been revealed, this other person testified in the grand jury is actually much closer and would jibe with what Sandusky has been saying, that they were -- whatever, you know, this ridiculous term horseplaying.

TOOBIN: Playing.

GERAGOS: Horseplay, right.

COOPER: Whether or not, I mean, set aside is it appropriate at all for a grown adult to be horseplaying with a naked child in the shower, obviously not, but Sandusky is saying, well, there was horseplayed, this kid was playing around in the shower, he's turning all the showers on, running around, that could jive with what this other person is saying McQueary told him.

TOOBIN: What makes this particularly problematic for the prosecution is that for this incident, as far as I'm aware, the prosecution doesn't know who the boy is. Obviously, the most important testimony in this case would be the victim, the alleged victim. Apparently we don't know who the alleged victim is here. In the other incidents the alleged victims will testify and you don't need a McQueary. You don't need another eyewitness.

HOSTIN: Right.

COOPER: And tomorrow the -- the alleged victims are actually going to be there.

TOOBIN: Absolutely.

COOPER: All of them? TOOBIN: Yes, if they --


HOSTIN: Yes. Ten of them. And that's extraordinary.

TOOBIN: I don't see they're going to all do it in one day.

HOSTIN: I agree.

TOOBIN: It's going to be -- yes, it's hard to put 10 witnesses on particularly about a complicated, embarrassing, awkward set of facts. I would imagine this would go several days if -- you know, if there really are --

COOPER: So Mark, what would happen? Also there's the testimony tomorrow and whether it goes a couple of days or not, what happens then?

GERAGOS: Well, the -- look, the judge is going to decide whether or not there's enough evidence to send this thing for trial. That's a probable cause proceeding. At least in California I always joke if my client is breathing, he's going to get past that and they're going to hold him to answer for a probable cause proceeding.

So nobody expect anything dramatic where this thing is going to completely unravel and it's going to get dismissed. I think what will happen -- I mean, I think frankly it's a lot more damaging or potentially damaging for the prosecution in terms of locking in testimony and then having at least the cross-examination if it turns out that a lot of the things that have been said that are out there in the ether aren't true, the prosecutor is going to start back pedaling. I have seen that happen before. And that can be --

COOPER: And this is why, again, and we've said this before on the show, lawyers say do not talk to the media.

TOOBIN: Do not talk to the media.

HOSTIN: Right.

COOPER: Do not do interviews because it puts alternate versions or versions out there that can then come back on cross-examination.

TOOBIN: But even witnesses who are trying in good faith to tell the truth tell things different ways. Their memory changes, they're nervous. So every time you tell a story, you risk opening yourself up to cross-examination. And that's why prosecutors always say keep your mouth shut.

HOSTIN: But I think we can't underestimate the fact that 10 young men are going to -- going public at a public hearing to talk about something that young men and young women never want to talk about, child sex abuse. And I think when you look at this case in its entirety --

COOPER: But we don't know whether they're going to --


HOSTIN: You forget about McQueary.

GERAGOS: We don't know -- number one, what they're going to say. We don't know, number two --

HOSTIN: They're going to say that they were sexually abused by Jerry Sandusky.

GERAGOS: No, no, no.


HOSTIN: That's what they're going to say.

GERAGOS: We also don't know --

COOPER: That's not true. Because in fact Sandusky's attorney has come out and said actually the versions of several of these boys -- you know they have had cordial relationships with Sandusky and actually back up Sandusky. So we actually have no idea, other than what's been in -- and as Mark keeps pointing out -- this grand jury -- not even testimony.


HOSTIN: They wouldn't be called by the prosecution unless they were going to talk about child sex abuse.

GERAGOS: No. That's not true.

HOSTIN: That's the bottom line.

GERAGOS: I'm telling you, you'd be very surprised tomorrow.

HOSTIN: Well, let's -- well, let's see, Mark. Let's see.

GERAGOS: You're going to be very surprised.

HOSTIN: Let's see.

COOPER: OK. Interesting discussion. Appreciate it.

Nice to have you here, Mark -- Mark Geragos, Sunny Hostin, Jeff Toobin.

Let us know what you think. We're on Facebook. On Google+, add us to your circles, follow me on Twitter @AndersonCooper. I will be tweeting tonight as well.

Coming up, Newt Gingrich, even Mitt Romney now says he is the front-runner, but do his claims always fit the truth? We're "Keeping Them Honest" along with the other candidates and President Obama as well. James Carville and Rich Galen are here.

Also, later, the clearest signs yet of the brutality in Syria. Gunshots at a funeral. The family burying their son. You saw where he died on Friday. The same regime that murdered their child apparently seemed to open fire on them today -- details ahead.


COOPER: A lot of big developments to talk about in the presidential campaign tonight. It is getting really interesting. There's some several rough moments today for Mitt Romney who is now admitting he's no longer the GOP front-runner.

First, a quick "Keeping Them Honest" check on some of the things that politicians say that often sound like facts but simply aren't. Two examples from the GOP debate in Des Moines over the weekend. Two claims that came up -- came up wanting when we put them to the test. Here's the first. Newt Gingrich responded to an allegation from Michele Bachmann that he and Mitt Romney one favored the cap and trade as a way of reducing carbon emissions.


NEWT GINGRICH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: In a lot of what you say just isn't true. Period. I have never -- I opposed cap and trade, I testified against it the same day that Al Gore testified for it. I helped defeat it in the Senate through American Solutions. It is simply untrue.


COOPER: "Keeping Them Honest," that is simply untrue. Whatever you think of cap and trade, it began as a conservative initiative as way of letting market forces lower the cost of cutting emissions. In 2007 here's what Gingrich said on PBS' "Frontline."

He said -- quote -- "I think if you have mandatory carbon caps combined with the trading system much like we did with sulfur and if you have a tax incentive program for investing in the solutions, that's there's a package that's very, very good." He adds, and frankly, "It's something I would strongly support."

And there's more. The nonpartisan turned up congressional testimony from just two years ago in which the former speaker said he would still support cap and trade for major polluters, if accompanied by incentives for nuclear power and so- called clean coal.

Also in the debate, there was this from Mitt Romney.


MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Let's not forget, only one president has ever cut Medicare for seniors in this country and it's Barack Obama. We're going to remind him of that time and time again.


COOPER: Well, "Keeping Them Honest," that's not true either. Again, according to, the 1997 Balanced Budget Act which was passed with bipartisan support and was signed by President Clinton called for $112 billion in cuts over a number of years. Recently National Public Radio spoke with Joe Antos, the health care economist for the conservative American Enterprise Institute. When it comes to Medicare he said -- quote -- "We've had a series of cuts year after year, decade after decade."

So Governor Romney's statement also fails to fit -- fall -- excuse me, fails to fit the facts. That's the Republican side.

The president, for his part, recently talked to "60 Minutes." And that interview aired last night. Listen to what he said about what he thinks Republicans have been up to lately.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think that when I came into office in 2008, it was my firm belief that at such an important moment in our history there was no reason why Democrats and Republicans couldn't put some of the old ideological baggage aside and focus on common sense, what works, practical solutions to the tough problems we were facing.

And I think the Republicans made a different calculation, which was, you know what? We really screwed up the economy. Obama seems popular. Our best bet is to stand on the sidelines because we think the economy is going to get worse and at some point just blame him.


COOPER: Well, now that's a popular talking point for Democrats these days, but it's a pretty loaded charge. It implies that Republicans are happy to take this country's economy to its knees so they can take the White House in November.

Again, a popular talking point, but not -- no facts presented to back it up.

Let's dig deeper now with Democratic strategist James Carville and GOP strategist Rich Galen who served as press secretary when Newt Gingrich was speaker of the House.

So, James, what do you make of what came out of the debate on Sunday? I mean, Newt Gingrich has to know he's a Republican front- runner. He's going to be under a lot more scrutiny. He's got a record of supporting cap and trade. And for him to claim otherwise doesn't seem like a very astute political move.

JAMES CARVILLE, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I guess it isn't. But you know the fact that once you say something like that and have a huge audience for that thing, it was over seven million people, and then you try to clean it up after that, it's sort of lost interest and you know who knows. But I doubt if he's going to suffer very much for saying something which was obviously untrue and, as you pointed out, it was a conservative idea, the idea of Milton Friedman who's a conservative -- you know, icon, if you will.

And so, you know, just like the individual mandate was a conservative idea. So I'm a little flummoxed why he wouldn't want to embrace it but it becomes toxic over that. So he just balked faced out and out and denied something that he had clearly done.

COOPER: James, do you actually think Newt Gingrich will be the nominee?

CARVILLE: You know I have never thought so before. I'm shaken a little bit. But I think -- I think he's getting ready to have a very rough couple of weeks. I think the Republican establishment, whatever that is, a lot of people in the Republican Party are very concerned about this. And I think today we saw a taste of what's coming. I think more and more is going to come. And it's going to be a pretty rough couple of weeks here.

COOPER: Rich, two new polls today show Newt Gingrich still in the lead in Iowa, but with the lead seemingly slipping. You used to work for Gingrich, do you think he's going to end up winning the nomination?

RICH GALEN, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: I do not think so. And let me correct one thing. It sounds like a small thing but in Washington it's a big thing. I was the -- I was the press secretary to Newt when he was whip. Tony Blankley was press secretary when he was speaker.

COOPER: OK. I'm sorry about that.

GALEN: But the -- but the bigger -- from a tactical standpoint, James and Anderson, the Republican rules this year are everything will be proportional, all of the caucuses and primaries will be proportional for January, February, March. Winner-take-all primaries cannot begin before April 1.

That almost guarantees, and by design, that this will probably be a long slog. And I just -- as we're speaking here tonight, I don't think Newt has the underpinning, the money or the organization to be able to go five or six months all the way into California and New Jersey on June 5.

CARVILLE: Anderson, just to echo what Rich was saying, there's also some evidence at least in the Gallup Poll that his national numbers are starting to slip. And once these things -- you know if this is real, I don't know. The evidence is not overwhelming.

But if the evidence continues and they keep coming at him hard, once you get -- once you start slipping, it's a pretty slippery slope out there.

COOPER: I want -- GALEN: Yes. Let me just say this. Six weeks ago Herman Cain was leading the polls, and now he's gone. So six weeks down the road, who knows?

COOPER: That's what I just find so fascinating about every presidential race. You know, just that it is a marathon. And somebody is up and seems like the rising star, and then a few weeks later, it's like, who were they? Who was that person?

I want to play another moment from the debate on Saturday night when Mitt Romney offered Rick Perry a $10,000 bet. Some people kind of raised a lot of eyebrows saying that, you know, he's offering such a big bet, maybe it shows how -- rich Romney is, you know, or out of touch he is with kind of ordinary Americans. Let's take a look.


GOV. RICK PERRY (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You were for individual mandates, my friend.

ROMNEY: You know what? You've raised that before, Rick. And --

PERRY: It was true then. It's true now.

ROMNEY: No, no. Rick, I will tell you what -- 10,000 bucks? $10,000 bet?

PERRY: I'm not in the betting business. But I...



COOPER: Did that strike you as an odd moment, James?

CARVILLE: You know, what struck me as Romney has all these debates, I don't know how many have been, eight, nine of them? In every debate he holds his cool and everybody comes out and says the same thing, that -- that, you know, Romney was the guy who really could speak better. He was knowledgeable and everything. And for the rest of whatever, he's going to be remembered as this moment in this debate.

And it's kind of odd, but, when you're in his position, you're judged by your worst moment. And that clearly was one that he'd give more than $10,000 to take it back, I guarantee you that.



GALEN: Yes, 50 bucks to the Boys and Girls Club would have been a much better bet. But I think --

CARVILLE: Yes. GALEN: I think Romney has got a bigger -- a bigger problem. He has allowed Republicans or at least the narrative, as we like to say these days, to be well, Newt is doing so well because people think he'll do better debating Obama.

I think what the Romney people have to do, James, is to get that changed to forget who's going to be the better debater, what I need you to think about as you go into the -- your high school cafeteria or into the polling place, is I need you to think about who do you trust more sitting behind that desk in that office in that building 15 blocks from where I'm sitting.

CARVILLE: Yes, Romney is off his game.

And it -- I agree with Rich, in that it's under his skin, and his attacks have changed and his message -- he's gotten way away from any kind of message. It was kind of an economic message for a long time. And they have got some smart guys over there. And you know -- but they have got some real, real challenges. And their biggest challenge is, you know, these conservatives in combination don't like him, don't trust Romney. And it's -- it's just daunting to sit there in a campaign and see that your number just never moves.

I -- you know you have sympathy for the guys on the other side sometimes, the consultants, not so much the candidates. I kind of feel sorry for these guys. Nothing they do worked very well for them.

COOPER: There was --

GALEN: I think Romney's best ally in Iowa is Ron Paul.

COOPER: How so?

GALEN: I think he's going to do very, very well. And to the extent that the debate helped Perry and Michele Bachmann, that tends to defuse the vote that was otherwise going to Gingrich. Romney will get his -- whatever it is, 27, 28 percent of the moderates in Iowa and the rest of it, maybe more, diffused, especially led by Ron Paul. I think he may surprise us all.

CARVILLE: Before I came on air, Anderson, I watched a Ron Paul negative on Newt Gingrich. I'm not exactly an altar boy when it comes to this kind of stuff, but that was just blistering a negative as I have ever seen in my life. I don't know who's doing his television, but I mean, it was a well-done blistering negative.

I mean, it -- going on and on and on how effective it is. I would like to see -- I would like to see that in a focus group. You know there's a lot of charges in one ad But it was well produced.

COOPER: Interesting. James Carville, rich Galen, thanks very much. We'll continue to watch.

Next, violent repression in Syria. A scene that may in the crosshairs of a shot. Security forces recently the crackdown in the city of Homs is imminent. Also, more than a year after their son took his own life, Tyler Clementi's parents are speaking about their struggle to come to terms with the loss and how they feel about the upcoming trial. The young man accused of driving Tyler to suicide.


COOPER: In Homs, Syria, a massacre could very well be under way right now. The signs have been there for days. The city surrounded by tanks and trenches, water, electricity and communications are cut off. Food supplies reportedly running low.

The opposition says residents were ordered to stop their protest of Bashar al-Assad's regime by Monday night. It is now after 3: 00 a. m. Tuesday local time. We of course don't know exactly what's happening in Homs or anywhere else in the country for that matter because the Syria regime will not let us in, won't give us visas, let us see for ourselves. Won't let international observers in either.

They have promised otherwise too many times now to count. But those promises like so much coming from this regime are lies. Activists say security forces killed 21 people across the country today. Fierce fighting reported in a number of cities. The U.N. High Commission for Human Rights now says more than 5,000 people have been killed since the uprising began, 5,000 people.

Ten-year-old Maher al-Husseini was one of those 5,000. We told you his story Friday night. He was killed by a sniper's bullet in his own home. The video is still hard to watch. You see the bullet hole. A man points to a pool of blood close by. He then follows the blood trail down the stairs.

He continues on, saying things like: "We're not safe. This government is murderous. It's killing people. It's killing its own people."

And, finally, at the bottom of the stairs, we come upon * UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He then follows the blood trail down the stairs. He continues on saying things like, "We're not safe, this government is murderous. It's killing people, it's killing its own people." And finally, at the bottom of the stairs we come upon Maher's (ph) body.

Unbelievably, over the weekend it only got worse for Maher's family. They found this video, his family and friends carrying the body to the grave. Watch what happens next.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (speaking foreign language)


COOPER: That is exactly what you think it is. The funeral procession itself coming under fire. Al Assad's security forces are known to target cemeteries and funerals. And you can see how these men are risking their lives just to bury this little boy, bury him with a little bit of dignity, more dignity than he had in death.

As I mentioned, Bashar al Assad won't let foreign journalists into the country, so we have to rely on amateur videos like this, and firsthand accounts from Syrians who risk their lives to tell what is happening there on a daily basis. It's nearly impossible to make contact with anyone in a city under siege. But earlier, I was able to speak to a medical students in Homs. To protect his identity, we're only using his nickname, Abu Rami.


COOPER: They Syrian government warned people in Homes to stop protests and hand in by weapons tonight or face attack by government forces. Have they made good on these threats? What is happening there?

ABU RAMI, SYRIAN (via phone): Until this moment there are 12 people who are killed, including two children -- one 4 years and the other 14 years. And then a crime happened today. The security forces and the militia army, they killed an entire family here. It's a very hard situation here to describe it to you. There are many wounded people. There are many casualties. It is difficult to rescue these injured.

COOPER: You have some medical training. You have been treating people. What kind of injuries have you seen? What kind of wounds are you seeing?

ABU RAMI: Some cases the body were -- some organs of the body were cutting off and we couldn't make anything to make this blood stop shedding. And the bullet in straight in the head and in the neck. They are shooting directly to gain killing access. This very hard to rescue this action.

COOPER: It must be very difficult to not have blood, to not have equipment to save these people's lives. What do they say to you when they are dying?

ABU RAMI: It's very hard to explain. You know, in some cases many, many people they died between my hands. And when they say to you when they are almost died they say, "Oh, please, please help me. If he were a father," he said to me, "Please take care of my children, take care of my family." If he was a son, they say to me, "Please take care of my parents."

And when their family comes and see what's going on, they don't say anything. They full of encourage and they will continue this way, that they are choose by going everywhere and calling for their freedom, calling for to end this dictatorial president. Here in Syria, we are suffering from this regime every day.

COOPER: Abu Rami, stay safe, thank you. ABU RAMI: Thank you.


COOPER: It's early morning right now in Homs, Tuesday morning. We don't know exactly what is happening now.

Let's check the latest on some other stories we're following. Tom Foreman joins us with a "360 News & Business Bulletin" -- Tom.


We begin with the transfer of U.S. troops out of Iraq. Today President Obama and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki declared the war formally over, with U.S. occupation ending on December 31. Mr. Obama says the goal for Iraq is long-term success.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This is a season of homecomings, and military families across America are being reunited for the holidays. In the coming days, the last American soldiers will cross the border out of Iraq with honor and with their heads held high. After nearly nine years, our war in Iraq ends this month.


FOREMAN: On Wall Street, investors' hopes of a possible solution to the Euro Zone crisis are fading. The Dow fell 163 points. E.U. leaders agreed to a deal in principle Friday, but concrete action is still months away.

Plus Intel announced it will miss sales forecasts this quarter due to a hard-drive shortage caused by Thailand's floods.

The owner of the New Jersey Nets is taking on Vladimir Putin, not on the basketball court, but in next year's presidential elections. According to "Forbes," Mikhail Prokhorov is Russia's third richest man, so he can afford it.

And hockey fans are generally usually used to seeing hats or occasionally squids, if you're a Red Wings fan, thrown out onto the ice during games. But look at this. At New York's Utica College, the teddy bears were flying on Saturday night. Fans tossed more than 4,500 stuffed animals out there to give to needy kids.

Nice stuff, Anderson.

COOPER: That's cool. Tom, thanks.

Time for "The Shot." When you're stressed out, running around in your home, looking for your coat, a little humor can definitely help. Look what we found on YouTube. A 4-year-old girl did her best to cheer up her dad with a little prank. Watch.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (screams) I am sorry, daddy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's OK, honey. You scared the bejesus right out of me.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm just going to jump out and scare him.


COOPER: There you go, Tom, scaring her father.

FOREMAN: There you go. We dads need that now and then.

COOPER: Yes. Tom, thanks very much.

A lot more ahead, serious stuff ahead. Coming up, a primetime exclusive. Tyler Clementi's parents speak out for the first time since their son killed himself after his college roommate allegedly recorded him with a Web cam, kissing another man. Tyler's parents tell CNN's Jason Carroll whether that roommate has apologized to them and if they're ready for the upcoming trial.

Also ahead, there may be criminal charges filed after a brawl at a college basketball game over the weekend. The latest on that coming up.


COOPER: "Up Close" tonight, a primetime exclusive: Tyler Clementi's parents speak out for the first time since their son committed suicide more than a year ago.

Tyler, you'll remember, was just 18 years old, a student at Rutgers University when his roommate allegedly used a Web cam to stream video of him in a sexual encounter with another man. After that incident, Tyler jumped from a bridge.

The roommate, Dharun Ravi, last week rejected a plea deal that would have kept him out of jail. Instead he'll go to trial in February, charged with 15 counts, including hate crimes.

Since that day more than a year ago Tyler's parents, Joe and Jane, have stayed silent while they mourn for their son. Now, in this primetime exclusive, they explain why it has just been too hard to talk, why they're talking now, and what they hope happens next.

Here's CNN's Jason Carroll.


JASON CARROLL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is how Tyler Clementi's parents want to remember their son, doing what he loved best, playing the violin.

JOE CLEMENTI, FATHER: We'll never hear Tyler play live violin again. We don't want any parent to have to suffer the kind of pain and devastation that we've gone through for the last 15 months.

JANE CLEMENTI, MOTHER: It's a never-ending process. And it kind of ebbs and flows almost like an ocean. It comes and goes, and it's very overwhelming at times.

CARROLL: Their son Tyler was an 18-year-old promising Rutgers University student. He committed suicide, jumping off the George Washington Bridge, on September 22 of last year, after his roommate, Dharun Ravi, allegedly used a Web cam to record Clementi kissing another man.

His parents won't talk about it, but prosecutors say Clementi was still trying to come to terms with his sexuality and was driven to kill himself over fear of being outed on the Internet.

JANE CLEMENTI: I don't understand how somebody could be so cruel or so mean. You're in a new community, you're trying to make friends, and for whatever reason, someone feels that they need to be better than someone else.

CARROLL: Clementi's last message, written on Facebook, "Jumping off the GW. Sorry."

JOE CLEMENTI: It was unbelievable to read it. I mean, for a long time, I didn't believe it. I didn't think that he had done that. I thought maybe was kidnapped or he had run away. You know, all of those things. And when they found his body, then I was forced to accept the fact.

JANE CLEMENTI: I have gone over it many, many times in my head. And I really cannot come up with a -- I guess because there is no good reason for what Tyler did. It was something he did do, and it's something that cannot be changed.

CARROLL: Now the legal battle over who, if anyone, is responsible for Clementi's death.

Ravi's former friend, Molly Wei, charged with invasion of privacy for allegedly allowing her computer to be used to record Clementi, struck a deal with prosecutors and will testify against Ravi.

Ravi, Clementi's former roommate, now 19 years old, faces 15 counts, including bias intimidation. The former Rutgers computer student once wrote about Clementi on the Web writing, saying, quote, "What if I catch him with a dude?"

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This plea bargain represents the maximum you're exposed to, if you accept it.

CARROLL: Clementi's parents watched in a New Jersey courtroom as Ravi declined a plea deal, one where he could have potentially avoided jail time, in exchange for community service.

STEVEN ALTMAN, RAVI'S ATTORNEY: You want to know why he rejected the plea. Simple answer, simple principle of law, simple principle of life. He's innocent. He's not guilty. JOE CLEMENTI: I mean, this has been their consistent position all along. And we weren't surprised. And we're prepared for the trial.

CARROLL (on camera): Do you have faith that you will receive the type of justice that you're looking for?

JOE CLEMENTI: Well, I've said from the beginning that what we want is justice. We want accountability. And I have faith in the court system in the state of New Jersey.

JANE CLEMENTI: We don't see it here and now, we will ultimately see that justice.

This is the violin.

CARROLL (voice-over): Clementi's room at his parents' Ridgewood, New Jersey, home is still very much like it was when he left it more than a year ago.

(on camera) Do you come into this room very often?

JANE CLEMENTI: At times. I come and sit, but it usually makes me very sad. So I don't always.

CARROLL (voice-over): Clementi's death has brought new attention to the issue of gay teens and bullying, the family receiving support from around the country. But even with all the support, there is still the pain of loss, one made worse, the Clementis say, by not having, at the very least, an apology from their son's former roommate.

JANE CLEMENTI: I think it probably would help with the process of healing. I think I can work through it without it, but it certainly would make things easier.

JOE CLEMENTI: I would characterize it as I'm heartbroken. I'm heartbroken at what happened, and about the loss of my son. And how it happened. Breaks my heart.


COOPER: So difficult for those parents. Jason Carroll -- that was Jason Carroll reporting.

The Clementi family has started a not-for-profit organization working to prevent teen suicide and implement anti-bullying programs, and promote civility and peace. For more information, go to the or our Web site, We'll have a link to it. Again, that's the or

Still ahead, a bench-clearing basketball brawl. It's now national television. Now the college athletes involved may face criminal charges. We'll explain ahead.

Also, dozens of Occupy protesters are arrested as they try to shut down ports on the West Coast.

And if you think some of the holiday cards you get are strange, wait till you see the one that made it onto our "RidicuList."


FOREMAN: I'm Tom Foreman with a "360 News Bulletin."

A music industry executive who was shot on Friday in downtown Hollywood has died. John Atterberry was wounded in a rampage along Simpson Boulevard. The 26-year-old gunman fired repeatedly at cars, apparently at random. It was caught on an amateur video.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's a madman in the streets. Oh, my God, are you all right?


FOREMAN: He was shot by police, and he died later. No word yet on a possible motive.

On the Virginia Tech campus, the funeral for 39-year-old Derek Crouse was today near where he was gunned down last week. The police officer's 22-year-old shooter killed himself a short while later. Governor Bob McDonald spoke at the service, calling Crouse, a U.S. Army veteran, a lifelong public servant.

Three members of Florida A&M University's marching band were charged today with hazing a freshman band member. According to arrest affidavits, the alleged victim suffered a cracked femur, deep bone bruising and blood clots after being repeatedly beaten in November. That's the same month that drum major Robert Champion died in a separate alleged hazing-related incident.

Saturday's all-out bloody brawl between college basketball rivals Xavier and Cincinnati could end up in court. An Ohio prosecutor said today he'll decide if criminal charges are appropriate for all those involved. Eight students have already been suspended from both teams.

Four of the Cincinnati players apologized today in public to their fans. One broke down. Their coach, visibly angry, said he will not tolerate this type of behavior.


NICK CRONIN, CINCINNATI HEAD COACH: If my players don't act the right way, they will never play another game at Cincinnati. Right now, I just told my guys, I will decide -- I need to meet with my A.D. and my president, and I'm going to decide who's on the team going forward. That's what the University of Cincinnati's about, period. I told them the way I feel -- I've never been this embarrassed. I'm hoping President Williams doesn't ask me to resign after that.

(END VIDEO CLIP) FOREMAN: Police arrested dozens of protesters who tried to shut down ports in several cities today, many of them along the West Coast. The protests were tied to the nationwide Occupy movement. Port officials say shutting down their facilities only hurts port workers.

And if you missed it live last night, meet the CNN Hero of the Year.


COOPER: The 2011 CNN Hero of the Year is Robin Lim.


FOREMAN: Robin Lim was awarded the honor at an all-star tribute hosted by Anderson. Lim has helped thousands of poor Indonesian women have a healthy pregnancy and birth through her free health clinics all across Indonesia.

That is the latest news. Now back to Anderson.

COOPER: "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" tonight at 11 p.m. Let's check in with Erin. What's up?


Well, we have an exclusive conversation with Vice President Dick Cheney. And everything on the table. One of the things we talked about was that top-secret drone missing in Iran. He says that President Obama had a few specific options that he opted not to take. We're going to talk about that.

Also, he weighs in on Hillary Clinton, and I think you'll be pretty interested to see what he has to say about her. And Newt Gingrich, a man he's known since 1978. He says do not underestimate Newt.

All that and a lot more. We talk Syria coming up at the top of the hour with Vice President Dick Cheney.

Back to you, Anderson.

COOPER: Erin, thanks.

Coming up, a mayor's Christmas card turns heads and, well, gets on "The RidicuList." We'll be right back.


COOPER: Time for the "RidicuList." Tonight we're adding what I like to call a very taxidermy Christmas and a scrappy New Year. The mayor of San Juan, Puerto Rico, has chosen quite an unusual backdrop for his Christmas card this year. Take a look.

Someone sent this to the Web site, tough I find it t o be less awkward than awesome. This Christmas card has it all. It's got the mayor. It's got a smiling family, has pretty snowflakes and, of course, the time-honored holiday scene of a leopard attacking an antelope. Merry Christmas, everybody. Hope you like severed jugular veins.

This is not the only unique holiday card we've ever seen from a politician. Certainly not. Take a look at Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez's card from back in 2009, and yes, it's signed by both the congresswoman and her cat, Gretzky. Meow. Sadly, the next year, the cat was gone but the memories live on forever, especially on the congresswoman's 2010 Christmas card. It was a tribute to Gretzky, 1991 so 2010.

A lot of people like to include their pets in their holiday cards. Here's a season's greeting that NBC News correspondent Mara Skia -- excuse me -- Mara Schiavocampo sent to one of our producers, David Puente. Now, I don't know what I like better: the dog peeing on the fallen Christmas tree or the other dog eating a present.

So that part is pretty creative. But still, now might be a good time to remind you that it's very important to look at your Christmas card photos very closely before you send them out. Elaine from "Seinfeld" had to learn that one the hard way.


JERRY SEINFELD, COMEDIAN: Did you look at this picture carefully?


SEINFELD: Because I'm not sure, and correct me if I'm wrong, but I think I see a nipple.


SEINFELD: Here, take a look. What is that?



COOPER: So when it comes to celebrity Christmas cards, you can always count on the Kardashians. On her blog -- oh, yes, she has a blog -- Khloe writes that Christmas has always been a big deal in the family and that they always go all out. Like this one, Kris Jenner, Kris Kringle, the matching neckties, the headbands. Oh, it's all there. It's all there.

Or how about the Kardashians' "Easy Rider" Christmas card from days of yore? You can almost smell the leather.

And as long as we're going way, way back, this isn't a card, but it's a very festive photo of a very young Justin Timberlake, complete with garland around his neck, a jacket that shines brighter than the moon on new-fallen snow, and a Christmas gift in a box that he's holding somewhat higher than he did many years later for his "SNL" video with Andy Samburg.


JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE, SINGER (singing): A girl like you needs something real. I'm going to get you something from the heart. Something special, girl. It's a (EXPLETIVE DELETED) in a box. It's a (EXPLETIVE DELETED) in a box, babe. It's a (EXPLETIVE DELETED) in a box. A (EXPLETIVE DELETED) in a box, love.


COOPER: I think he's funny.

Speaking about videos, can we talk about my favorite one of the year? It's the honey badger. Let's watch just a little bit of it, shall we?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The honey badger has been referred to by the Guinness Book of World Records as the most fearless animal in the animal kingdom. It really doesn't get (EXPLETIVE DELETED). If it's hungry, it's hungry. What's that in its mouth? Oh, it's got a cobra. Oh, it runs backwards.

Now watch this. Look, a snake's up in the tree. Honey badger don't care. Honey badger don't give a (EXPLETIVE DELETED). It just takes what it wants.


COOPER: It goes on and on like that. So -- I know it's old, but you know, I just saw it.

So in honor of the San Juan mayor's wildlife-inspired Christmas card, I now present my Christmas card for this year. This is going out to everyone on my list, and by that I mean "The RidicuList."

Hey, that's it for us. Thanks for watching. "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts now.