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Will Israel Attack Iran?; Swing State Showdown

Aired February 2, 2012 - 22:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, everyone. It is 10:00 here on the East Coast.

And we begin tonight with breaking news on the growing likelihood -- that's the exact quote -- growing likelihood that Israel is going to hit Iran's nuclear program and hit it soon, possibly within months -- a top source telling CNN that Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has come to just that conclusion, that there's a growing likelihood of an Israeli strike.

Now, this first surfaced in a column by the "Washington Post's" David Ignatius. The news is breaking on a day Israel's defense minister warned that Iran, which is building nuclear facilities deep under ground, may be close to rendering an airstrike too difficult to work.

In other words, a window of opportunity may be closing, and Israeli forces could take action before it does.

Also today, a senior Israeli official telling "The New York Times" that the Iranian Revolutionary Guards have been working on missiles that could reach the continental United States from Iran, ICBMs. And this week also saw congressional testimony that Iran may answer growing American pressure on it with terror attacks on American soil.

Now remember, too, this confrontation is playing out between U.S. war ships and Iranian gun boats in the Strait of Hormuz. A key oil transit route which Iran is threatening to close. It's also playing out on the diplomatic front with sanctions. The question tonight, though, will Israel give sanctions time to bite, and what will America do if Israel decides to act.

The implications in a moment. Also remember, there have been a number of Iranian nuclear scientists who have been assassinated in Tehran by unknown assailants.

First, the very latest from Chris Lawrence at the Pentagon.

Chris, what other details are your sources telling about this apparent growing likelihood of a Israeli strike on Iran?

CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, they're saying that basically a number of intelligence factors all sort of came together that led Secretary Panetta to conclude that Israel could strike in, say, April, May, or even June. He also says that basically the thinking is that Israel has concluded that Iran has already made the jump and is thought to be pursuing the bomb.

He also caveated all this by saying Israel does have a history of making some very provocative statements like this in order to sort of push the West, push the U.S. into taking tougher action against Iran.

COOPER: How would a military strike actually work, and how effective could it actually be to stop them from making a bomb?

LAWRENCE: Yes, I talked to a couple of sources on this tonight. And they say basically, it would involve the Israeli fighter jets either going through Saudi Arabia, trying to thread that needle between Syria and Turkey's air space, or just crossing over Iraq to deliver their payload. But some of the sources I spoke with were skeptical because they said when this has worked, it's been done in a very concentrated area.

That's not like Iran's program. Iran's facilities are spread out over a very wide area. He also said there are probably given the time line that Iran has been working on this, a lot of facilities that neither the U.S. or Israel knows about, and he said the biggest part of the problem could be that although you could knock out the facilities, you don't take their know-how. In other words, Iran has the knowledge of how to enrich uranium. You don't take that away.

COOPER: Yes, which is probably one of the ideas, if in fact Israel or the U.S. or some other country is involved in the assassination of these scientists, that might be part of that idea.

LAWRENCE: Exactly.

COOPER: Chris Lawrence, appreciate.


COOPER: Thanks to CNN's Barbara Starr also for her reporting off the camera on this.

Let us dig deeper, though, with CNN national security analyst Fran Townsend. She's also a member of the CIA External Advisory Committee.

Fran, we should point out, along with more than 100 members of Congress and other former senior U.S. national security officials, has publicly advocated the U.S. take the Iran opposition group, MEK, off the U.S. State Department's list of terror groups, just as the European Union has already done.

Also joining us, TIME. com intelligence columnist and former CIA officer, Bob Baer, and on the phone, retired Army brigadier general, David Grange.

So what do you make of this report that Secretary Panetta basically tipping Israeli's hand like this? Why would this be leaked?

FRANCES TOWNSEND, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CONTRIBUTOR: Well, you know, it's odd, Anderson. And this is one of the series. We talked last night. Leon Panetta has been out there talking about the drawing down of troops in Afghanistan. His views of Pakistan's counterterrorism relationship with us. All of this seemingly off message.

I mean, he's in a position to know. He's met with the Israelis. We know that there's robust intelligence exchanged. Most of which there's agreement on. There seems to be some conflict between the American and Israeli view about the ability of Iran and the intention of Iran to deliver a payload, that is the missile part of it. The delivery system. And so --

COOPER: Right. And that he was saying on "60 Minutes" that he thinks the actual development of a bomb could be a year or so off, but then the development of a missile that could actually deliver it could be another year.

TOWNSEND: That's right. That's right, and so when he describes that window, you understand why now he's talking about this three or four months, May, June, or July. The interesting thing, Anderson, is if he understands that from the Israelis, why would he signal that? Because of course he'll make it much more difficult for the Israelis if that's what they intend to do.

The answer to that may in fact be that it's a brushback pitch. It's a signal to the Israelis about just how strongly we don't want them to do this and pull us in with them.

COOPER: A brushback pitch.


COOPER: So what? That's leaking something --

TOWNSEND: Well, it's making a public statement so the Israelis know very clearly, we're not just saying privately to them, we don't want them to do a bombing mission in Iran. We're saying, we're committing this publicly and we're making it much more difficult for them to do something we don't want them --

COOPER: How have I never heard that phrase? I like it. It's interesting.

Bob, what would an Israeli strike on Iran, I mean, mean for the United States?

ROBERT BAER, FORMER CIA OFFICER: I think it'd be a significant blowback. The Iranians could count on them hitting us in Iraq, hitting our embassy there, probably in Bahrain where we've got the fleet, and I think undoubtedly inside the borders of this country.

COOPER: You think they would strike back at the United States?

BAER: Absolutely. This attack -- this attempted attack on the Saudi ambassador in Washington at the Cafe Milano was real. There was somebody in Iran that was sponsoring this, whether it was the supreme leader or somebody else, it doesn't matter. But you have a regime that is determined to fight back, and one way to do it is turn the sleeper cells in this country or hit the United States where it can, and that would include airliners anywhere.

You know, a regime like this on the defensive does take actions, which I think are irrational, but they will do it.

COOPER: General Grange, what's your assessment of Secretary Panetta indicating the Israelis have a plan in the works to attack Iran? I mean, how complex an operation is this?

BRIG. GEN. DAVID GRANGE, U.S ARMY (RET.): Well, there's no doubt that Israel has a plan, just like no doubt that we have a plan. And keep in mind that there's two different perspectives. I agree with what was stated so far that, one, there's some disinformation possibly being put out, either to dissuade Iran or to try to keep tabs on Israel.

And I do believe that whatever happens will be tremendous blowback, either through Hezbollah and the Quds Force and others that -- Republican Guards that Iran has, but there is plans in combat and more, there's always windows of opportunity. And I'm sure Israel is looking at a window of opportunity, if that is the fact, as would be prudent to do so. And their perspective on the threat is different than the U.S. perspective because of where they're located.

And just like -- they're an ally of ours. So what's going to involve the U.S. in some extent whether we like it or not if it happens. It's the same -- it's the same thing if you took Iraq. Iraq is an ally now, so if the United States is in some type of obligation to support allies in some way. So it does put us in a predicament, and I'm sure it's a concern to the Department of Defense and the nation.

COOPER: Fran, do you agree with Bob that an Israeli attack on Iran would mean Iranian attacks on U.S. interests?

TOWNSEND: I absolutely believe that they will try that. And the question is, do they have -- if they have got the sleeper cells and the capability here inside the United States, they'll use it. We've seen them use proxies around the world, in Buenos Aires, against Israeli targets and Jewish targets.

This is what they do. It's a very militarily capable organization, Hezbollah. They are financially supported and armed by Iran. And so it's a capability they have for just this sort of a circumstance where they can strike back at a state power asymmetrically.

COOPER: Bob, I guess, you know, the question for a lot of people is, is it a good idea or not? I mean, clearly many Israelis believe Iran to be an existential threat.

BAER: Well, I think they're looking at the fact that Iran is probably, you know, heading towards some sort of chaos and some sort of group that's more radical than the one that's in power now could take over. So they're looking at possibilities, and the truth is that they can be hit with missiles right now. And if they get the weapon, and they're looking at this entirely differently.

We're getting out of two wars, but right now they're saying, you know, you've left us in the lurch. We've got a dangerous Iran. We can't predict it. And even getting the knowledge is enough to scare the Israelis. And they have a completely different mentality from ours.

COOPER: And General Grange, though, how effective can an attack be? I mean, Israel hit Iraqi nuclear site 30 years ago, but the Iranian sites are very different than that Iraqi site.

GRANGE: Absolutely.

I mean, that was a single target and you have multiple targets in the very defense systems you have. The timing between them launching retaliatory strikes, as you hit targets, bunker penetration type technology, it's very difficult. I'm not sure Israel has all the capability to do it themselves holistically. They can do, I think, segregated targeting. I'm not sure they can -- and I don't know the answer to this, but this is just my assessment.

I do believe that they can -- they can hurt Iran badly. I just to like to make one other comment if you don't mind. And that is about the Iraq -- the missiles that Iran has. When we went into Iraq, in Desert Storm, to hunt scuds that were falling into Israel, you had to understand the mentality of the Israelis because of that -- those actions. It didn't have to destroy a lot. It was the psychological impact.

If they believed that Iran has the ranges, and they do, a Shahab type missiles and that, to be fired in Israel, you have to look at the Israeli perspective on preempting that to happen. And so they're very concerned about this. If you're in Israel, which you have been, Anderson, you understand that they have no strategic depth, and they feel that they're up against a wall. And so this is a -- this is a likely occurrence if the intelligence or any other kind of threat shows that they may -- that Iran may take some action. I think they will strike.

COOPER: So if General Grange is right, Fran, and they can't hit as wide a number of targets as they would like, is that something the U.S. then gets involved with as well in terms of striking Iran?

TOWNSEND: Well, it becomes -- here's the other thing that we haven't talked about. If you want to choke us, if you want to retaliate against the United States because you've been hit by Israel, the vulnerability is to our allies in the region. Saudi Arabia has got 60 percent of the world's oil reserves, mostly along their eastern border which is right up against -- up against the Persian Gulf.

They can for sure hit there. And if they want to really hurt us, take out Saudi's oil supply. I mean, -- or the Emiratis who have -- and Qataris with natural gas. There are things they can do not very close to home that will have a huge economic and policy impact and political impact here in the United States. And so I think that you have to understand the Israelis do have -- I agree with General Grange, a very different perspective. COOPER: Sure.

TOWNSEND: They do look to us for munitions, adequate military support, but there's almost no way if there's a military action taken by Israel that the U.S. does not in some way get pulled into it.

COOPER: It's fascinating stuff.

Bob Baer, appreciate your time. Fran Townsend, General Grange as well.

A lot of concern over this. We'll continue to follow this.

Let us know what you think. We're on Facebook, Google+. Add us to your circles. Follow me on Twitter @AndersonCooper. I will be tweeting tonight. I already tweeted a question. Do you think it's right for Israel, prudent for them to do this? Let us know what you think on Twitter.

Up next, "Raw Politics" -- remember the prediction President Obama made about the consequence of not fixing the economy in his first term? It's been improving, but there's a new possibility that the jobless number will be terrible around Election Day. We got that and other new signs it could be trouble for the president. We'll talk about that.

Later, yet another shocking development in a Mississippi pardon case. This time, it's a man who got pardoned even though he's a repeat drunk driver. Authorities say he killed an 18-year-old girl. So how did he get pardoned? We're investigating.


COOPER: "Raw Politics" now: a reality check for the White House or anyone who thinks that just because Republicans are attacking each other now, President Obama will have an easy time in November. New projections on the how the economy might be doing when voters make their choice. Only exactly three years ago, President Obama was talking to NBC's Matt Lauer about exactly that. Listen.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Look, I'm at the start of my administration. One nice thing about the situation I find myself in is that I will be held accountable. I have got four years. And --

MATT LAUER, NBC NEWS: You're going to know quickly how people feel about what's happening.

OBAMA: That's exactly right. And you know, a year from now I think people are going to see that we're starting to make some progress, but there's still going to be some pain out there. If I don't have this done in three years, then there's going to be a one- term proposition.


COOPER: Well, tonight there's new cause for concern for the Obama campaign. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office now estimating that the nation's jobless rate which now stands at 8. 5 percent will rise to 8. 9 percent during the fall. You will recall the economy has been adding new jobs at a pretty steady rate since President Obama was elected, a steady but slow rate.

The point is not being lost for Mr. Obama's most likely opponent. Listen.


MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Three years ago this week, a newly elected President Obama faced the American people and he said, look, if I can't turn this economy around in three years, I will be looking at a one-term proposition, and we're here to collect.


COOPER: Well, in addition to the new CBO projections, there's fresh polling data showing President Obama trailing Governor Romney in key swing states."Politico" puts it all together in a piece titled "Why Obama Should Be Worried." I talked about it tonight with "Politico's" Jonathan Martin, chief political correspondent Candy Crowley, and Obama 2012 pollster Cornell Belcher.


COOPER: Jonathan, how much trouble do you think the president is in right now?

JONATHAN MARTIN, POLITICO: Look, I think the president is going to face a serious challenge this fall because of two important factors. Number one, the economy is not where they want it to be, and not where they need it to be for him to get re-elected. And secondly, it looks increasingly like they're going to face Mitt Romney who is a Republican who any Democrat privately will tell you is going to be the hardest one for them to beat because he's got a less controversial background than some of the other Republicans that are running right now.

So I think those two things almost insure that this fall is going to be very, very competitive, Anderson.

COOPER: Cornell, the CBO predictions about unemployment are right and the economy starts to slide or even if it doesn't and people just worry that it might, isn't that a pretty tough hurdle for any sitting president to clear?

CORNELL BELCHER, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, certainly it is, I mean, but the CBO's numbers sort of talking about what might happen in a quarter. I'm not sure if we don't -- we don't take more drastic action, action that the president has been trying. But look, I think the American people know that this is a recession that the president inherited. You know it took them eight years to tear down the peace and prosperity that Bill Clinton had built up, and we're not going to get out of this in two years.

And they want to see that the president is steering the ship in the right direction. Look, when he put his hand in that bible, you know, for inauguration day we were losing 700,000 jobs a month. We've now, since his programs have been put in place, we've now seen, you know, positive growth in jobs.

So we are beginning to move in the right direction. Is it enough? No it's not enough, but in the end, you know, it's going to be between whether or not they trust President Barack Obama, the middle class trust President Obama to look out for their interests or they trust Mitt Romney, more so than it is going to be about the unemployment number.

COOPER: Candy, I mean, do you think the president can continue to use that argument that this is something I inherited?

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: No, and I actually don't think he probably will. I think you heard from Cornell, though, where they're going on this. They understand that they cannot sell the economy being in a good place. So they have to sell number one trajectory and that is, we're moving in the right direction. They want to talk about where it's moving, you know, where it's been and where it is now.

But if I were to look at something I thought would be an indicator as to how much trouble he's going to be in, I would watch Consumer Confidence Index. I mean, that to me and not to those inside the White House, I had a talk with somebody, a senior in the White House, who said, you know, we have to get people to feel as though -- if they don't have a job, to feel as though the hope of a job is there.

And the other thing you heard Cornell say was the comparison, the administration, the re-elect committee does not want to talk about the economy and what it looks like. They want to talk about what the other guy might do to the economy.

MARTIN: Right. Right.

CROWLEY: They want this head on head with Mitt Romney, not about the president's record.

COOPER: Jonathan, do you agree with that?

MARTIN: Right. Absolutely. Look, this is sort of an age-old question. The challenger wants to say that this is going to be a referendum on the incumbent and the incumbent says, oh no, this is going to be a choice. Well, it depends on the election, but there's no question that this time around, you're going to have Republican challenger running, they're trying to portray it as a referendum on the incumbent, and of course President Obama saying don't compare me to the Almighty, compare me to the alternative, which is an old Kevin White saying -- who is the late mayor of Boston.

And I think that's going to be the message that you hear from this White House is, things are getting better, A., which is the trajectory that Candy mentioned, but, B., and more explicitly is, look at my opponent, look at his flaws, look at his background. He doesn't appreciate what the middle class is going through right because of both his business background and also because of his personal wealth.

That's going to be the tough, aggressive, sharp, not-so-hope-and- changing message from President Obama this fall.

COOPER: Cornell, as a --

BELCHER: And they have helped us, by the way, with that -- with that over the last couple of months.

COOPER: Cornell, as -- as a pollster, I mean, if the election were held today, though, the president would be in big trouble in some swing states that he easily won the last time around, no?

BELCHER: Well, yes, but the election isn't held today. I mean, you can go back to -- look at CNN's own polling going into I think January of '04. Kerry had, I think, a plus five or six advantage over Bush. But these elections aren't held today. I mean, the president hasn't even sort of really officially launched his campaign.

We haven't spent, you know, millions and millions of dollars contrasting it. You know the difference is, you know, the Republicans are out there every day attacking the president and spending millions and millions of dollars in battleground states sort of taking forth their message. We haven't begun to sort of unfold our campaign and the dynamics of this, sort of back and forth between whether it'd be Newt or whether it'd be Romney. We haven't yet sort of pulled out that contrast to start the campaign.

You know, battleground polls right now are historically really bad predictors of what's going to happen because we haven't really begun to sort of even campaign.

COOPER: Cornell Belcher, appreciate it. Candy Crowley and Jonathan Martin, thanks.

Well, still ahead, new outrage over pardons granted by former Mississippi governor, Haley Barbour. A teenage girl died in a car crash. This car crash. The driver who slammed into her was pardoned even though the deadly crash marked his fourth drunk driving arrest. How is it possible he got a pardon? We're investigating.

Also a 360 follow-up, Drew Griffin has uncovered more cheating among doctors trying to pass their crucial board examines. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. JAMES BORGSTEDE, PRESIDENT-ELECT, AMERICAN BOARD OF RADIOLOGY: And I think that if you went to any high school student right now and you said to them, if you memorize the exam, and you in effect re-created an exam, was that cheating or was it not? The answer would be it was cheating.



COOPER: "Keeping Them Honest" tonight: There are new questions we'd like to ask former Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour, but he's not talking to us.

We made more calls today trying to reach him, his staff won't say where he is. We want to ask him about charges of political favoritism, stemming from the pardons that he gave about 200 people on his way out of office.

And we've been covering this story since it started, and a lot of focus has been on these four men, four convicted murderers that Governor Barbour pardoned. They all worked at the mansion under a Trustees program that's now suspended.

Barbour suggested that these convicted murderers committed -- quote -- "crimes of passion," and that experts say such killers are the least likely to re-offend. We've shown you that he's wrong on both counts, we can't find experts who actually claim that.

David Gatlin, for instance, shot and killed his estranged wife Tammy while she held their infant son in her arms. He also badly wounded Tammy's friend Randy Walker.

Here's what Walker told me just last night when I asked him if he thought it was a crime of passion.


RANDY WALKER, VICTIM: Absolutely not. I mean, you know, if he's that a little bit further back on the timeline, three or four days before David came, he actually told a girlfriend that he was involved with in Georgia that he was coming to do this very thing. You know, and if you look at his statement, his own words at the time that he wrote his confession out, you know, he pretty much point blank says, it's premeditated.

I mean, a crime of passion for me is if you come home -- if a spouse comes home early from lunch or from a business trip unexpected, and you walk in and catch them, you know, in bed with somebody, and you beat them to death with a lamp on the side of the bed. You know, Haley Barbour, his definition in line of crime of passion, they're not even in the same dictionary.

(END VIDEO CLIP) COOPER: Well, a parole board recommended by the way that Gatlin not go free but the governor disregarded the recommendation. When Walker got word of Gatlin's pardon it was a complete shock.


WALKER: Saturday, about 10: 00, I get a phone call from the lady at the Corrections Department, the victims coordinator, and said that he had been unconditionally pardoned and he would be released Sunday. So, you know, I get this letter, and not even 24 hours later, I get a phone call saying, you know, the worst possible thing has happened. And I didn't get to say anything, I didn't get to plead my case about anything. My rights have been violated.


COOPER: Randy Walker now says he fears for his life. He's not the only victim who feels violated. As we said, the governor granted about 200 pardons. Here is Ed Lavandera.


ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): There's a reason the man in the red shirt, Harry Bostick, look familiar to Sergeant Hildon Sessums. This was the second time the Oxford, Mississippi, police officer had arrested Bostick for driving drunk.


There was an open bottle of wine in the front seat with him. There was an open bottle of champagne in the front seat with him. He had , an open bottle of champagne in the seat with him. He had a large cup that was full of red wine.

LAVANDERA: Police found he was driving the twice the legal limit of alcohol. This was Bostick's third drunk driving arrest in a year.

You know you 're not supposed to be driving.

LAVANDERA: Bostick pled guilty to the felony charge, was sentenced to a year of house arrest and of four years in an alcohol abuse program.

SESSUMS: Right before I put the cuffs on him, he said, don't do this to me. And my comment to that usually is, you did it to yourself.

LAVANDERA: A year after that arrest, Harry Bostick applied for a pardon from Governor Haley Barbour.

This former IRS investigator had high-profile friends write letters asking the governor to pardon Bostick. Friends wrote that Bostick's life fell into a "destructive course" after the tragic death of his teenage son in a house fire and a divorce from his wife.

A federal prosecutor wrote, "Harry no longer drinks alcohol and can now be a positive factor in many lives."

Another friend wrote Bostick had "turned his life around."

The Mississippi Parole Board, in a 3-to-2 vote, recommended Bostick get a pardon. Governor Barbour agreed.

HALEY BARBOUR (R), FORMER GOVERNOR OF MISSISSIPPI: The power of pardon in the state is to give people a second chance who have repented, been rehabilitated and redeemed themselves.

LAVANDERA (on camera): Charity was quite the artist. This is a gift she gave you?

LINDA SMITH, VICTIM'S MOTHER: And this is how she signed it

LAVANDERA: Signed it with her handprint.

(voice-over) But don't tell Linda Smith that Harry Bostick has been rehabilitated. Just seven days after he was recommended for a pardon, Smith's 18-year-old daughter, Charity, was killed along this highway in a violent car crash. The driver of the car was Harry Bostick.

SMITH: She should still be here with me. She should still be here with me. This should not have happened.

LAVANDERA (on camera): The sun had just set on an October night, and Charity was driving down this gravel road. She had come into this neighborhood to pick up her sister and take her to dinner. They were excited. They hadn't seen each other in quite some time.

Mississippi authorities say in the meantime, Harry Bostick was driving this way, back toward Oxford, driving, they say, under the influence again.

Charity pulled out into the highway to make a left-hand turn. Bostick slammed right into the side of her.

(voice-over) Charity was killed. Her sister survived. Bostick was sent to a jail in Oxford for violating his previous DUI sentence, while prosecutors tried to figure out what to charge him with.

Harry Bostick's attorney never returned our repeated calls. We tried to find Bostick at his home. He didn't answer. And we called him.

(on camera) Leave a voice mail.

(voice-over) But while Bostick waited in jail, Haley Barbour pardoned him. Bostick was free. How did that happen?

It turns out the governor's office and parole board never did a last-minute check of Bostick's record. Both say they had no idea Bostick had been arrested a fourth time for drunk driving. A baffling stroke of luck for Harry Bostick, and Linda Smith worries her daughter has been forgotten in all of this. (on camera) You feel like they didn't -- they didn't about Charity, they didn't know what had happened to her?

SMITH: Yes. Surely, they didn't know about her. Why would they do it if they knew about her? She was a person. She wasn't just a name on a piece of paper. She was a person.

LAVANDERA (voice-over): Charity Smith was saving money to go to college, dreaming of getting a business degree. A young girl with big dreams and an artist's heart.

(on camera) This is the one that kind of stands out to me.


LAVANDERA (voice-over): Mourned by a mother with a broken heart.


COOPER: Ed, has anyone from Barbour's office explained how they would grant a pardon to somebody who was in jail for killing somebody else? I mean, did they just not even know -- they didn't know that?

LAVANDERA: The governor's -- in a statement we got from the governor, a spokesperson late today, they said that the governor was unaware of what had been going on. We tried...

COOPER: Did the governor say he's sorry? Has anyone -- has anyone at the office said they were sorry? Has anyone called up that grieving mother who can't even speak because she's so heartbroken? Has anyone apologized to her?

LAVANDERA: No, she hasn't gotten any -- any kind of calls like that, any kind of information, as we -- as you heard her say. And she told us she kind of feels like her daughter's been forgotten in all of this.

COOPER: So I just -- I just -- I want to understand this. He had -- he had fancy friends or influential friends write him letters, saying he should be pardoned. And then, as he's awaiting that pardon and finally gets that pardon from the governor, he kills her daughter? He kills this woman's daughter in another drunk-driving incident?

LAVANDERA: Right, and just to be clear, the circumstances as to who's at fault in that accident is still under investigation. But at the end of the day, it won't really matter, because it sounds like the Mississippi authorities are convinced that he was driving under the influence. So all of that kind of stands.

But exactly, he was sitting in jail, awaiting what was going to happen with that charge when all of this came down. And that's where we're at now.

LAVANDERA: It's unbelievable. I mean, it's just incredible. Ed Lavandera. And again, we keep reaching out to Governor Barbour to explain this. There's a lot of questions. He needs explaining and needs some answers to, and he won't appear on the show. So if anybody else gets him on their show, we should ask them about this -- this poor dead girl and the grieving mother, and if he feels bad about it, and if he'd apologize to her.

Ed, thanks.

Still ahead, a "360 Follow-up." A few weeks ago, we told you about doctors training to become radiologists, cheating to pass exams. Turns out they're not the only ones. Drew Griffin is back with a new investigation.

Also ahead, at least 900 people injured in new violence in Egypt. We're going to get the latest from Bed Wedeman in Cairo.


COOPER: Tonight, a "360 Follow-up." A few weeks back, we told you about doctors who train to become radiologists, one of the top- paying medical specialties, but cheat to pass the exams that are supposed to guarantee they've mastered this critical area of expertise.

Turns out those aspiring radiologists are not the only ones cheating to become board certified. The field of dermatology, another top-paying medical specialty, well, they say it has a problem, as well. Here's what Drew Griffin found out.


DREW GRIFFIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): They're called recalls, years of written exam questions and answers, compiled and shared among radiology residents. Dr. Gary Becker is executive director on the American Board of Radiology, or ABR.

DR. GARY BECKER, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, AMERICAN BOARD OF RADIOLOGY: I would tell you it's cheating. It's a violation of the policy.

GRIFFIN: In the wake of our story, the chorus in the medical community is growing. Plain and simple, recalls should not be used. The American Board of Medical Specialties, which oversees 24 boards, including radiology, is condemning the practice in a statement on its Web site. "It should be made abundantly clear that recalling and sharing test questions from exams violates exam security, professional ethics and patient trust."

(on camera) But our investigation has now uncovered another form of cheating among residents. CNN has confirmed the American Board of Dermatology is concerned about the use of what the board calls airplane notes: exam questions remembered, then written down by residents on their flights home after the exam, to be shared later with other residents.

(voice-over) Residents say it's an open secret that's been going on for years. One resident, in an anonymous e-mail to the board, wrote immediately after the test, "A feverish and collective effort is made by examinees from many programs to reproduce on paper as many questions as they can verbatim. These are even professionally bound at Kinko's at times."

And now the Dermatology Board has issued warnings that "cheating violates our professionalism and ethical standards." Dr. Antoinette Hood, the board's executive director, tells CNN, "We really try to do something to prevent it from happening."

And it's not just radiology and dermatology cracking down. The American Board of Internal Medicine suspended 139 doctors in 2010 for sharing or soliciting confidential copyrighted questions that were part of the exam used to certify doctors. As we discovered, it's a problem that's also been going on in radiology for years.

BECKER: We're doing the very best we can to protect the integrity of our exams, because that's the best way to be sure that that piece of paper on the wall means what it's intended to mean.

GRIFFIN: About half of the questions on the annual radiology exam have been recycled from a large pool of old test questions. For the first time in more than ten years, the group is revamping its exam, beginning next year.

But apparently, many radiologists feel using the recalls isn't cheating at all. In hundreds of postings online in response to our story, they say it's outrageous to be labeled as cheaters, especially since the written exams are only part of what's required to be certified.

The American College of Radiology, which does not administer the exams, also chimed in, saying in a statement, "The most troubling aspect of this report is the implication that all radiologists who pass these examinations are cheaters. The allegation of cheating smears the entire specialty with a broad and unjustified brush."

The group says radiologists must undergo years of rigorous training besides taking that written exam.

Dr. James Borgstede, the American Board of Radiology's president elect, says just because the recalls have been around a long time, does not make it OK for radiologists to cheat to pass a test.

DR. JAMES BORGSTEDE, PRESIDENT-ELECT, AMERICAN BOARD OF RADIOLOGY: I think if you went to any high school student right now and you said to them, if you memorize the exam and you, in effect, re- created an exam, was that cheating or was it not? The answer would be it was cheating.


COOPER: What's the American Board of Radiology done in the wake of your story?

GRIFFIN: Well, they've had this redo of the test under way, Anderson. They're going to make a more secure test from now on. They hope it's going to start next year.

But they've also taken a lot of heat from doctors. And they had to basically issue an apology on their Web site about this story. Let me read you what it says. It says, "The ABR regrets anyone's impression of radiologists may have been diminished by this report and expresses concern for any distress caused by CNN's report." The board went on to say that it acknowledged radiologists are well trained and qualified, even though they may have cheated.

COOPER: The bigger question, I guess: is this happening in other medical fields requiring board certification, like the use of airplane notes in dermatology?

GRIFFIN: yes, and according to the Dermatology's Board executive director, it is. It's flat-out cheating, Anderson. At least that's what she told us over the phone.

But these boards are really nervous after our story. The dermatology board's executive director, Antoinette Hood, she canceled our interview, has stopped answering our phone calls and e-mails. And I can tell you, there are a lot of conversations going on in the medical community, centered around the value of these board certification exams which in some cases appear to be exercises in memorizing these cheat sheets.

COOPER: Right. They're saying in response, well, you know, these folks have lots of years of training. If that's true, why do they need these cheat sheets to pass these exams? I mean, that doesn't make any sense. Drew, appreciate you keeping an eye on it. Thanks. Drew Griffin tonight.

Coming up, a year after the Egypt revolution, deadly violence in the streets. We have a live update from Bed Wedeman.


COOPER: In Egypt the revolution is on the ropes, drowning in blood. A year ago Egyptians electrified the world when they rose up and took down a dictator. There was a lot of hope for the future.

A year later, here's what the future has become. Take a look at Egypt now.


COOPER (voice-over): Tear gas, fires, protests in the streets of Cairo. At least 900 people injured in the new violence. Nine hundred people. This is the soccer riot in Port Said that touched off the latest round of protests. Seventy-nine people died while many witnesses say police simply looked on and did nothing to stop it or take steps to prevent it in the first place. Some protesters believe authorities actually encouraged the violence.

Tonight there are new demands on Egypt's military-led government to make reforms, improve security. Bed Wedeman now joins us from Cairo with more. What's the latest on what you're seeing and hearing, Ben?

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, now we're seeing that they are dead from these clashes, two dead in Suez and we're getting unconfirmed reports of two dead in the crisis in Cairo.

What we've seen is that hundreds of these demonstrators, many of them fans of the football team from Cairo that was involved in that involved in those -- in that violence in Port Said, trying to get to the interior ministry, many of them, as you said, accusing the interior ministry and its security forces of either doing nothing to prevent the violence or some are even saying that they encouraged it and facilitated the fans from Port Said to attack the fans from Cairo.

And those clashes are ongoing as we speak. And it is almost 4 a.m. in morning here, Anderson.

COOPER: So Ben, just explain, I mean, what the fight at the soccer stadium was about and why would police encourage one team's fans to attack the fans from Cairo? What do they have against those people?

WEDEMAN: It's a bit -- little bit of inside baseball or football, you could say, Anderson.

The fans who went from Cairo to Port Said are the fans of the Athlete (ph) Club of Cairo. That's the Goliath of Egyptian soccer. And traditionally, these fans, a small group of them known as the Ultras, have fought the police for years, in football clashes, or rather soccer clashes. But increasingly since the revolution, they've become politicized, and they have led some of the demonstrators in their clashes with the police in November and December.

And so there's a lot of bad blood between the fans of this club, the Athlete (ph) Club, and the police. And many of these fans are now telling us that they believe that the violence that was unleashed upon them in Port Said was the revenge of the Egyptian police for all of the trouble that they have caused to the police over these years. So it starts -- it seems to have a political veneer to what is otherwise simply a soccer rivalry.

COOPER: Ben Wedeman. Stay safe, Ben. Appreciate the reporting. Thank you.

Let's check some other stories we're following. Isha is back with a "360 News & Business Bulletin" -- Isha.

ISHA SESAY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, the heat is on Attorney General Eric Holder again today over the so-called Fast and Furious gun running operation that allowed weapons to fall into the hands of criminals. Two of the missing weapons were found at a site where a Border Patrol agent, Brian Terry, was killed in 2010.

At the House committee hearing, Congresswoman Ann Marie Buerkle, who has called for Holder to resign, pressured him to take responsibility, and he seemed to take offense.


REP. ANN MARIE BUERKLE (R), NEW YORK: How many more Border Patrol agencies would have had to die as a part of Operation Fast and Furious for you to take responsibility?

ERIC HOLDER, ATTORNEY GENERAL: As a member of Congress, I mean, really? Is that the way in which you want to be seen, you want to be known?

You know, I should be held accountable for certainly my role and whatever I did or didn't do in connection with the supervision of Fast and Furious. But I'm attorney general of the United States, and I should also be held accountable and perhaps even given some credit -- imagine that -- given some credit for some things that the Justice Department has done under my leadership.


SESAY: The Senate has passed a bill on insider trader by members of Congress. The legislation makes it clear that it's illegal for lawmakers to use information they learn on the job to buy or sell stock. The House is expected to vote in coming weeks.

And the graffiti artist who painted murals on the walls of Facebook's first offices is about to get very rich. The "New York Times" reports seven years ago, David Cohen (ph) decided to be paid in shares instead of cash. Those shares are expected to be worth more than $200 million when Facebook stock trades publicly.

Now back to Anderson.

COOPER: Programming note. Tomorrow on "STARTING POINT," what's at stake in Friday's job's reports, and a preview of some of the hottest Super Bowl ads. That's tomorrow, "STARTING POINT WITH SOLEDAD O'BRIEN," 7 to 9 a.m. Eastern.

Coming up, a Groundhog Day scandal. "The RidicuList" is next.


COOPER: Now time for "The RidicuList." Tonight we're adding dueling groundhogs. That's right, Groundhog Day, big event in Western Pennsylvania, as you know, where crowds gather in the pre-sunrise cold to wait the appearance of the world's most famous groundhog. There are early-morning fireworks, dancing, revelry, maybe a little drinking. We don't know for sure. Going out on a limb with that one.

The point is, it's a day that draws, I don't know, rodent enthusiasts from near and far.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What brings you all the way up here to Punxsutawney this time of year? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey, man. We got to rock 'n roll with Phil.


COOPER: How'd you like that assignment?

The spectators don't actually get to rock 'n' roll with Punxsutawney Phil. The guys with the top hats are the ones who get the real access every year. They yank that poor guy out of the stump with a lot of pomp and circumstance.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Phil proclaimed, "As I look at the crowd on Gobblers Knob, many shadows do I see. Six more weeks of winter it must be."


COOPER: Gobblers Knob?

There you go. The groundhog has spoken. But wait. Punxsutawney Phil not the only groundhog in town, and others disagree with his forecast. In Wisconsin, Jimmy the Groundhog predicted an early spring -- doesn't have quite the same ring to it -- as did General Beauregard Lee in Georgia. Now there you go.

Staten Island Chuck didn't see his shadow either. Staten Island Chuck, really? And don't even get me started on Connecticut Chuckles. He said winter is cancelled entirely. Not since "how much wood could a woodchuck chuck" has there been such confusion surrounding whistle pigs. Oh, yes. Groundhogs, they're also called whistle pigs. Also, land beavers. Thanks, Wikipedia.

So with all these contradictory groundhog predictions, what are we supposed to believe? I'd be inclined to go with Punxsutawney Phil, but I think we should ask an expert, like human meteorologist Rob Marciano.


ROB MARCIANO, CNN METEOROLOGIST: If you believe a rodent, then you know, I've something else to sell you. I listened to closely to those top hatters, and they said it's not necessarily whether we see the shadow. It's if the rodent sees the shadow. And he talked to the main guy there.


COOPER: Gobblers Knob. This is actually another time-honored early February tradition where meteorologists start to emulate Bill Murray in the movie "Groundhog Day."


BILL MURRAY, ACTOR: Once again, the eyes of the nation have turned here to this tiny village in western Pennsylvania, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. This is pitiful. A thousand people freezing their butts off, waiting to worship a rat.

This is one time where television really fails to capture the true excitement of a large squirrel predicting the weather.


COOPER: Meteorologists of America, take heart. Maybe nobody puts on top hats and drinks predawn whisky every time you do your job, but we do realize you're more qualified than the groundhogs. In fact, after this confusion, I think next year we should ditch the groundhogs entirely and go with an animal that can pull it together and present a unified perspective.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What's that in its mouth? It's got a cobra. Oh, it runs backwards. Now watch this. Look, the 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: Honey badger don't care if it's an early spring or not. Honey badger will look for his shadow when he's good and darn ready. And then finally make his prediction for six more weeks of "RidicuList."

That's it for us. "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts now.