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Whitney Houston Remembered; Syria's Crackdown Continues

Aired February 16, 2012 - 22:00   ET


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

And we begin our special coverage with the death of Whitney Houston tonight with new developments. A source giving CNN the latest on toxicology testing say investigators had put a rush on it, also telling us that all the pills and medicine bottles found in her hotel room are undergoing basic testing right now. At this point, the source tells us no determination has been made about the contents, but so far nothing appears criminal.

This means we may get results sooner than the six to eight weeks, some had said even just days ago. That same source is downplaying a speculation report that family members have been told that a drug and alcohol combination led to Houston's death.

The fact is we simply won't know until complete toxicology reports come in. As I said that may now happen sooner rather than later.

We're also learning more about who will be speaking and singing at the funeral on Saturday. And we'll have a live report from outside the church shortly with more on that. We confirmed that her ex- husband Bobby Brown will be attending but also that he plans to perform just a few hours later at a casino in Connecticut.

Dr. Drew Pinsky joins us shortly with more on the possible drug angle. Also, Houston's former voice coach. But first, Jason Carroll outside the New Hope Baptist Church in Newark, New Jersey, with more late details.

Jason, I understand there's some new information about who's going to be at the funeral on Saturday. What do you know?

JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I can tell you a little earlier, Anderson, I spoke to a woman by the name of Kim Burrell. Now that may not be familiar to some people. But to those in the gospel community, it is a person who was very well known. She was friends with Whitney Houston for 13 years. They were extremely close. And she told me that she will be performing at the funeral on Saturday.

The song is going to be called "I Believe in You and Me." It was a song that Whitney loved. It was chosen by her family. And I asked Kim Burrell what will be in her mind when she -- when she sings that song on Saturday?


KIM BURRELL, WHITNEY HOUSTON'S FRIEND: I feel strong because I have to represent what I know she would want me to say and feel and make the people there feel. Whitney was a caring and loving person. And in that regard, I will make sure that my delivery will be some form of strength, especially with her daughter there and her mother there. And we all share a very special relationship. And I want to make sure that I'm strong enough to build them up as well.


CARROLL: Some of the other names that we'll be hearing about on Saturday, Alicia Keys confirmed late this evening that she will be performing, Anderson, as well as people like Aretha Franklin. Stevie Wonder will be performing as well. Kevin Costner, her co-star from "The Bodyguard." He will be speaking at the funeral service on Saturday. In addition to that, Roberta Flack will be showing up. A long list of entertainers who will be coming out to pay their respects -- Anderson.

COOPER: And as we mentioned earlier, Bobby Brown will be there. There had been some reports early that he actually has been asked not to attend. And clearly, that's not the case.

CARROLL: True. What we are hearing from Bobby Brown's people is that he will be here. You know obviously there were some early reports because of the tumultuous relationship that he shared with Whitney Houston, whether or not he will be here, he will be here. He will be attending. But as you also know, he's a member of the group New Edition. They are out on tour.

And what we are hearing is that after he attends the funeral service here on Saturday, he'll go back out on stage Saturday night. And the reason for that is because, according to a spokesperson, being on stage, Anderson, is how he finds -- deals -- it's his version of therapy and how he's dealing with this significant loss in his life.

COOPER: What does it seem like outside of the church? I mean, are people there? I remember when her body was brought back, crowds had gathered. Are people already there or is it not -- not yet?

CARROLL: Anderson, they have been coming and going all day long and into the night. It's been very sad. I mean, as you stand here in front of the church, you can hear echoes of the church choir practicing. People driving by, rolling down their windows, playing Whitney Houston songs.

And here at the New Hope Baptist Church, people are still bringing by cards and letters. And you know this is really the time to do it. Because as you know, because of security, when the funeral happens here on Saturday, there'll be -- the closest anyone from the public will be able to come here is two blocks away. So people are really using this time now to come down and pay their respects.

COOPER: Jason, I appreciate the updates. Thanks. Among the many remarkable talents we'll be seeing on Saturday, two have spoken out about the strain that Whitney was under, no longer able to perform the way she once could.

Aretha Franklin tells "People" magazine -- quote -- "I recall her 2010 European tour, still exciting but," she adds, "unable to sing what she wanted to. Had to be disheartening. Yet she stood night after night and endured unappreciated audiences with the heart of a champion."

Kim Burrell who you just heard from a moment ago remembers that tour, remembers the call for help.


BURRELL: One of the main reasons I went to Germany was because of all of the energy that people in their opinions of her voice and her life and her stardom, and was starting to get to her. Everybody has an opinion. With a life that big, you're going to get a lot of opinions. And some of them were just way too forward in that territory.

And so she put a call into me and said, sis, I think I need you out here for a few days just to come and pray with me and be with me. I said sure.


COOPER: Joining me now is Gary Catona who is Whitney Houston's vocal coach off and on since 2004. He was planning on working with her this year.

I understand you met Whitney Houston back in 2004 after being introduced by Stevie Wonder and began working with her. What kind of a shape was her voice in back then?

GARY CATONA, WHITNEY HOUSTON'S VOCAL COACH: When I went to see her in Atlanta her voice was in horrible condition. I mean, her speaking voice and her singing voice were both hoarse. She had about one audible tone in her lower register. I was horrified. I had this image of her being young, beautiful lady with this incredible voice. And here she is sitting in front of me with no voice whatsoever.

COOPER: And how does that happen? I mean, obviously her battles with drugs were very public. Is it from that?

CATONA: Well, when you think about it, Anderson, you know, if you're a singer, your body is an instrument and you have to take care of it. And whatever lifestyle choices she'd made obviously had a negative effect on her voice.

COOPER: Were there actual -- I mean, I just interviewed Adele who had a -- you know, a polyp in her throat, that it hemorrhaged. It -- was there actual structural issues or was it just a toll that abuse had taken? CATONA: Well, I think it was generally abuse. But, you know, her voice began recovering very quickly from vocal exercising. So that told me a great deal. A lot of her injury was superficial or else her voice would not have returned strictly as it did. And every lesson that we had, her voice got better and better each time.

COOPER: For an artist known for her voice as the voice, I mean, to not be able to use that instrument in the way that she once could, what was that like for her?

CATONA: You have to realize, Anderson, a singer is this very special kind of musician. You know, you are your voice. It's a part of your personality, it's a part of your emotions, it's a part of your spirituality. And to have that taken away from you is a very profound psychological experience. In her case, she was aware of who she was. She was one of the most brilliant singers of all time. And she knew that. And she knew that she has carried the tradition on her shoulder. And not having that voice at her disposal, I think it reeked havoc on her psychologically.

COOPER: I heard you said that she valued that voice above everything else, above fame and above money?

CATONA: That's correct. She was a pure artist. She was not an entertainer. Like other people. She was an artist. Her life is based upon her voice. She had a remarkable voice, it could do anything, she could sing with incredible excitement, it could be very beautiful and very seductive. She had -- she had the whole thing. A very high level of emotional content as well. She was her voice, and without her voice, she had -- she didn't have much of a life.

COOPER: What we heard, you know, the kind of the impromptu final performance that she gave on Thursday night, just singing a few lines from a -- from a gospel song, where a friend of hers is on a stage, when you heard that, I mean, could her voice have come back?

CATONA: I'm very confident after working with her over the course of a couple of years, maybe four or five years, that her voice could have come back. I got her voice back probably 75 percent by the time she did her record. And that's not working with her on a daily basis. If I had been with her for three or four months in a row, I think I could have gotten 95 percent of her voice back.

COOPER: What was your impression of the folks she surrounded herself with? What was your vantage point inside when you work with her?

CATONA: Well, the problem is that she was a very powerful person, very charismatic, and very confident. She was an alpha female. And she was more powerful than people that are around her. So she made it very difficult for people to control her. She's smart, she's beautiful and she's brilliantly gifted. So how do you control somebody like that?

Everybody around her had very good intentions. They wanted her to get better, they wanted her to sing again. But it could only go so far. Because she has a very domineering personality. With me, it was different because I was her teacher and she was able to put her ego aside and to become a real student when we were together giving her voice lessons.

COOPER: But with other folks, if she wanted something, and she wanted it, they didn't have the power to stop her?

CATONA: That's correct. It was virtually impossible to stop her. She was a very, very aggressive, powerful person. A lovely person, very warm and affectionate and caring person. But at the same time, she's very demanding. And if you don't do what she wanted, she got very upset.

COOPER: I mean, it's such a loss. And you know that better than anyone from having worked with her voice.

Gary, I appreciate you being on tonight, thank you.

CATONA: My pleasure.

COOPER: Well, let us know what you think. We're on Facebook, Google+. Add us to your circles. You can follow me on Twitter @AndersonCooper. I will be tweeting tonight, as our special coverage continues in the death of Whitney Houston.

Up next, we'll talk to Dr. Drew Pinsky about the psychological effects that a talent like hers experiences when that talent, when that voice begins to fade.

Also more on the dangers of mixing drugs and alcohol especially the kind of anti-anxiety drug Houston reportedly was taking or at least was found in her room that frankly a lot of Americans take. We will find out more about it.

And later, a remarkable trip back to Whitney Houston's childhood, to the neighborhood that nurtured her, watched her shine, and has tears in its eyes tonight.


COOPER: Well, as much as everybody wants to remember Whitney Houston for just her incredible voice, the life she led sadly makes that very difficult if not impossible. Investigators as we speak are screening her blood, testing her pill bottles, and questioning her doctors and pharmacists. They put a rush on it according to one source CNN believes to be reliable.

With that as the backdrop, we're joined again -- once again by addiction specialist Dr. Drew Pinsky, host of "Dr. Drew" on HLN.

So we heard earlier from Whitney Houston's voice coach just a minute ago about how important music was to her and how basically her lifestyle choices had led to the condition of her voice when he first started working with her. She was a smoker. Clearly she battled drugs for many years.

Why would a talent, you know, who depends on her voice allow that one instrument to be damaged in that way? DR. DREW PINSKY, HLN HOST: Well, there's a couple of things I want to say about that interview. One is that the fact that you would even call what Whitney was doing a lifestyle choice belies a grave misunderstanding about what was going on with Whitney Houston.

Whitney Houston had addiction.

COOPER: And that's not a choice.

PINSKY: Addiction is not a -- it's not a choice. If they had choice, believe me, they would choose not to use the drugs. But they lose their choice once they throw the switch on that disease.

The other thing, he was describing how powerful she was, that is Whitney the using addict. Not just powerful, grandiose, aggressive, demanding. That's how addicts are. That's how addicts get their way. That's why people around addicts have such difficulty getting to contain them. If you look at the 2009 interview, the Oprah interview that Whitney did, there you would see the sober Whitney who was quiet and lovely. And the gorgeous woman we all have come to expect.

But when using, you see all these stories of this terrible behavior. And unfortunately, when you have someone like that, everybody must be unified in getting them to treatment. They must be in absolutely show of force at all times. Any crack in that wall, they will get through and continue to use.

COOPER: But, you know, I think there are a lot of people out there who -- when you hear you say that an addict doesn't have a choice is going to say well, look, there is personal responsibility. And, you know, some people are able to stop and doesn't -- the fact that some addicts are able to stop show that it is a matter of willpower or control.

PINSKY: What -- they are able to stop. They are able to follow directions in treatment. And what they are taught is that willpower will not help you. Your will is broken in this disease. The drives easily overwhelm will. They hurt their family, they hurt their job, they hurt their voice in this case.

Of course they would choose not to do this if they had a choice. And this is a brain disorder where choice is no longer operating. That's the nature of the condition. Now it's a spectrum disease in milder cases where people earlier in the disease, sure, choice enters into it. People stop and start. But once they become chronic, have had multiple treatments, that's a situation where they can only choose one thing which is treatment and in-treatment. She was abstinence, otherwise, they really do lose their choices.

COOPER: A source has told CNN that Xanax was found in Whitney Houston's hotel room. Investigators don't know if she'd taken the medication on the day she died. At this point we don't have the toxicology reports. We talked a lot yesterday about how dangerous it is to mix legal prescription drug, something like a sleeping pill like Ambien, perhaps with alcohol. But Xanax is so widely prescribed, so widely used, what sort of risks are associated with that? PINSKY: Well, Xanax, these are excellent medications. You've mentioned Ambien, I believe now, Anderson, four times, you mentioned Ambien, we have to talk after the show about that.


PINSKY: I'm just saying, I'm just saying. And now when you travel to other countries, I'm going to be very nervous.



PINSKY: Sure you don't take your chardonnay at the same time.

COOPER: It's long plane flights. That's when I occasionally will take an Ambien.

PINSKY: I understand. Just avoid the alcohol.



PINSKY: I'm just saying. But that is the issue, is that doctors, of course, warn their patients about not operating vehicles and not to use these things with alcohol. But they forget to really emphasize how potentially dangerous it is particularly for people with addictive drive. They're just using a little more than they should. They're drinking a little more than they should. And sometimes that combination is enough to really tip things into trouble.

When I first heard that this happened to her, though, the usual combination in my world that leads to demise like this is an opiate or benzodiazepine and alcohol. So I wouldn't be surprised if we find that particular combination.

COOPER: And when -- I'm sorry, when you say an opiate and a benzodiazepine, what does that mean?

PINSKY: So that -- a benzodiazepine, you mentioned the Xanax and the Ambien and with -- I have heard reports of lorazepam and diazepam, Valium, being found in her house -- in her hotel room as well. And those are all benzodiazepines and --


COOPER: And what do they -- those are all --

PINSKY: She should not be taking those.

COOPER: Those are all --

PINSKY: Anti-anxiety.

COOPER: OK. PINSKY: Anti-anxiety, sleeping, very addictive, not to be exposed to addicts. And certainly that -- the combination, as Sanjay and I talked about last night, never would you give all three of those to anybody in any circumstance.

COOPER: So if you're an addict, you not should be on something like Xanax because of its possibility for addiction?

PINSKY: In my opinion, only under, only under extreme circumstances and only for a very short period of time. And again to have all there of those, there's just simply no excuse for that. That's just impossible. If one doctor prescribed all three of those, I don't know what to say.

COOPER: Right.

PINSKY: But then the opiate and opioid you asked about that as well, which is the analgesic pain medication which is, you know, something she had said she had a problem with. On that same Oprah interview, she talked about that.

COOPER: Right.

PINSKY: And that is something that when you are in relapse, you're usually heading towards what your drug of choice is. And opiates are the king of all.

COOPER: Dr. Drew, appreciate it. We'll continue to follow it. Thank you.

Whitney Houston's remarkable talent earned her the nickname the voice. In an interview with Diane Sawyer in 2002 Houston talked about what she realized what her voice could make people feel. Take a look.


WHITNEY HOUSTON, SINGER: You know what I used to do, Diane? I would close my eyes like this. I would sing. I was so excited when I sing. When I would open my eyes, the people would be what call holy ghost fired out. They would be in such spirit of praise. I think I knew then it was an infectious thing that God had given me.


COOPER: It was at a young age that that gift was even apparent. Here is a young Whitney Houston singing in church in the 1980s.


COOPER: Same church Whitney Houston is going to come home to on Saturday. The people in Houston's hometown remember a talented young girl, athletic, fun.

Gary Tuchman talks to people who knew and love Whitney Houston as a child.


GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Franklin Elementary School in East Orange, New Jersey, where Whitney Houston went to school from first to fifth grade.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Good afternoon. Whitney Houston Academy. Mrs. Patrick speaking. May I help you?

TUCHMAN: But in 1997, it was renamed the Whitney E. Houston Academy of Creative and Performing Arts. The principal was Henry Hamilton. The same man who was principal when Whitney was there as a little girl.

HENRY HAMILTON, PRINCIPAL, WHITNEY E. HOUSTON ACADEMY: Was I proud of her? You better believe it. Yes, I was.

TUCHMAN: This is the enrollment document from Whitney Houston's days at the school. It shows she entered in 1969 and went on to middle school in 1974. In the principals office, pictures of him with Whitney. And lots of other pictures of Whitney after she became famous.

HAMILTON: She was a beautiful little girl, very quiet. Was not a talkative person. But she was well respected. Never came to my office for discipline problems. Well behaved.

TUCHMAN: Raymond Sheppard used to teach at the school. He reminisces about when Whitney, the niece of Dionne Warwick, and the god-daughter of Aretha Franklin, was about to make it big.

RAYMOND SHEPPARD, FORMER TEACHER: When she was leaving to go to California to be with Dionne Warwick, her aunt, she came to a local store we all used to be in. And the owner, John, said I'm so glad to see you going. I hope you -- I wish you the best. And he gave her a $100 bill. And he said here, this is to help you on your way.

TUCHMAN (on camera): The Houston family home was the center of activity in the summertime because it was the only house in the area that a built-in swimming pool. So young Whitney had a lot of friends who came over.

(voice-over): Erica Taylor, the same age as Whitney, was one of those friends.

ERICA TAYLOR, CHILDHOOD FRIEND: We talked about boys and what we did over -- what we're doing this summer and how it was just fun to be in a pool.

TUCHMAN: And after they would be done swimming in the pool behind the house, they would all watch Whitney hit tennis balls against a wall.

(on camera): How come none of you would play tennis with her?

TAYLOR: We'd rather talk to her. We wanted to know, like, me and my girlfriend was talking about this the other day. And we were actually asking each other, like, remember when she would play tennis and we would just ask, like, how was it to meet Michael Jackson because of her Aunt Dionne. And because of --

TUCHMAN: Because of Dionne Warwick.


TUCHMAN: You knew she -- you knew she has celebrity connections.

TAYLOR: Right. Right.

TUCHMAN: And so she was just a kid then.

TAYLOR: But she still has -- she still knew to people -- her aunt was still Dionne, her godmother was Aretha, so she would meet the stars when we were kids.

TUCHMAN (voice over): Many who knew Whitney realized her voice was special from her early days singing at church. But some remember her belting out tunes even earlier.

DR. ALEASE GRIFFITH, RETIRED EAST ORANGE PRINCIPAL: The first time I met Whitney, she was, and we called her Nippy back then. She was about 5 years old.

TUCHMAN: Alease Griffith is a retired principal from another East Orange elementary school but was a friend who attended a Houston family Christmas party more than 40 years ago.

GRIFFITH: One of the backrooms, Nippy was -- had her cousins surrounded by her and she jumped up on the coffee table and started singing.

TUCHMAN: Back at the Whitney Houston Academy, in room 109, one of Whitney's classrooms --

(on camera): Is Whitney Houston your hero?


TUCHMAN (voice-over): The pride from current students is unmistakable.

CIARA ALLEN, STUDENT, WHITNEY E. HOUSTON ACADEMY: With all of her accomplishments I think -- I know that I want to be just like her when I grow up.

HAMILTON: They tell me I'm the father of all the youngsters here. And I take that role. Take that role.

TUCHMAN (on camera): So you do consider her a daughter?

HAMILTON: I consider her a daughter. You better believe it. A daughter forever. I lost a daughter.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): Gary Tuchman, CNN, East Orange, New Jersey.


COOPER: One quick programming note, CNN is going to have complete coverage of the funeral on Saturday. Piers Morgan, Soledad O'Brien, Don Lemon on CNN and, "Whitney Houston: Her Life, Her Music," starting at 11:00 a.m. Eastern Time.

Coming up, once upon a time, Mitt Romney said, let Detroit go bankrupt. Is his opinion about bailing out the auto industry shifting? We're "Keeping Them Honest." We'll tell you what he's saying now.

Also ahead, Syria's ambassadors to the U.N. lashes out, saying there's no civil war in his country, no armed conflict. Pictures tell a different story, as do the people inside Syria.

We're going to hear from an activist who has become the voice of the opposition and our own Arwa Damon, who's on the ground in Homs.


COOPER: "Keeping Them Honest" now on Mitt Romney's shifting position on bailing out Chrysler and General Motors and his evolving explanations as to what those positions really were.

GM today announced a record annual profit. Big profits at Chrysler as well. Michigan's primary is obviously coming up. Governor Romney is behind in the polls. The auto bailouts are popular in the state and the state's economy has been growing since the bailouts happened. This puts Governor Romney in an awkward position because 3.5 years ago, he wrote an opinion piece in the "New York Times" titled let Detroit go bankrupt, though he said he did not write that title.

Here's how the article began -- quote -- "If General Motors, Ford and Chrysler get the bailout, that they chief executive asked for yesterday, you can kiss the American automotive industry good-bye. It won't go overnight but its demise will be virtually guaranteed."

That's Mitt Romney in November of 2008 arguing that GM and Chrysler should file for bankruptcy and restructure with private money. Detroit, he said, needs a turnaround, not a check. Now to his credit, he's been very consistent about that over the years. Watch.


MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Throwing money at the auto industry is not going to help it long term. If you just write a check that you're going to see these companies go out of business ultimately, what you can't do is just send a big check. Billions and billions of dollars was written to bail out the industry.

The government was willing to write checks and bail them out. The bailout program wasted a lot of money. The government wrote those checks, wasted money. Wrote checks to the auto industry. I wouldn't have just written checks. I said don't write checks. Don't just write them checks. Don't write them a check.


COOPER: "Keeping Him Honest," though, just a few months before he wrote that piece in the "New York Times" back when he was running in the 2008 Michigan primary, he seems to be singing a very different tune about help from Washington.


ROMNEY: And we better fix Michigan and get Michigan on track. And anybody who comes in here, Republican or Democrat, and says they want to help Michigan say, where have you been?


COOPER: The same day speaking outside of a GM plant that had just laid off 200 workers, he went further. The question he said is where is Washington? He went on -- quote -- "Are we going to let the entire automobile industry domestic manufactured automotive industry, disappear and just say well, that was tough, it's just the way it is."

An unnamed spokesman tells Bloomberg News that Mr. Romney wasn't talking about bailing out Detroit. At minimum, though, he seems to be arguing for more Washington involvement back when it could win him votes before arguing against government involvement once he was out of that race and in a whole new one.

This story and others may be having an effect on voters. A new "Detroit News" poll out today shows Rick Santorum leading Romney 34 percent to 30 percent among likely Republican primary voters. That's within the margin of error. Gingrich gets 12 percent, Ron Paul 9, 12 percent undecided, now, this in a state that Mitt Romney won in 2008.

Let's talk about the "Raw Politics," Kevin Madden is a Republican strategist and former spokesman for Governor Romney's 2008 presidential campaign. And Paul Begala is a Democratic strategist and CNN political contributor.

Paul, is Governor Romney shifting on this?

PAUL BEGALA, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: You know, Joe Louis, great Detroit, he once said about Billy Conn, who was a fast fighter -- he said, he can run, but he can't hide.

The record is there. With those few exceptions of when he was pandering to Detroiters four years ago, and maybe now, Governor Romney has had a consistent position, right? He opposed what the president did to save the American auto industry. He opposed it. He predicted, as you saw in that op-ed, that if we did what the president called for, it would destroy the auto industry. It didn't. It saved it. We have record profits. Taxpayers have been paid back.

And by the way, this from a guy, here's the real vulnerability. When he ran Bain and Company, he took a $10 million bailout from the FDIC for Bain and Company. When Bain bought Steel Dynamics, a company that it owned, it got $37 million in government subsidies. So he's been the recipient of lots of government subsidies as a businessman. But he opposed them at the most critical time in Detroit, and I think it's going to hurt him enormously.

COOPER: Kevin, what about that? In 2008, I mean, he did write that if the auto industry got bailed out, the country could, quote, "kiss it good-bye."

MADDEN: Well, look, I think if you take Governor Romney's opinion pieces that he's written over the years and take a speech he gave to the Detroit Economic Club during the campaign, I think it's been very consistent. It's consistent with what both parties have said about the American auto industry, that it's an important part of the American economy and that action has to be taken in order to help it continue to thrive in this country.

And so I think the -- where the parties disagree and maybe some of the candidates disagree aren't some of the specific prescriptions but that everybody does believe that restructuring had to take place. And they think everybody believed they'll have to do more to meet a lot of the global demands.

COOPER: If there's record profits, you know, just announced today, which is terrible timing for Governor Romney, I mean, if he opposed those bailouts, isn't that...

MADDEN: I would disagree that that's terrible timing. I think anybody agrees that an important part of our economy -- and I think Governor Romney would believe this -- an important part of our economy showing profit is a good sign.

There may be differences of -- on the policy specifics as it relates to this particular public policy issue. But -- but everybody does agree that it's important to have a thriving, burgeoning American auto industry.


BEGALA: We have that auto industry today, because President Obama stood up and took the risk. Governor Romney opposed it.

This is important. Governor Romney is running. He's not running on his foreign policy expertise. And you know, he's running on his expertise as a businessman. And he stood up as a businessman and said this is a bad deal. You saw it. I've got it right here. He said let Detroit go bankrupt.

The president did not listen to him. It's the biggest business decision I think a president has made since Truman tried to seize the steel mills in 1952. President Obama was right. Detroit's engines are now revving, as Clint Eastwood said in that great Super Bowl. And Mitt Romney was wrong. When you're the business guy running and you're wrong about the biggest business decision the president's made in a half century, you kind of lose a lot of your rationale for your candidacy.

COOPER: Kevin?

MADDEN: Well, I think, look -- he's running as a businessman. I think that has to do with what he believes is right for the country and what's right to fight the private sector. To help create jobs in this country. I also think when he talks about this issue, he remembers he's a native son of Michigan. He understands the importance of the industry.

COOPER: But was he wrong in the ad?

MADDEN: Well, I think the op-ed, I think rather than looking past the headline, I think you look at a lot of the prescriptions that he believes were important for -- to help the industry. I think it's something that people throughout the industry and on both sides of the political aisle, I believe, is important.

COOPER: Does he still believe you can kiss this industry good- bye? Because he said that will happen.

MADDEN: Well, I think that that was put in the context of the different prescriptions that people had at the time when the industry was going through the course of considerations of what had to be taken in the face of a political crisis.

COOPER: Paul, Kevin, I appreciate you both being on.

MADDEN: Thank you.

COOPER: Still ahead, does this look like an armed conflict to you? Despite videos like this one, an eyewitness account from CNN's Arwa Damon, we're going to hear from her in a moment. Syria's ambassador to the U.N. actually said there's nothing of the sort happening in this country. Keeping Them Honest.

Also ahead, the man who tried to hide a bomb in his underwear faced the music today in court. He tried to blow up a plane, failed. We'll tell you how much time he's going to serve.


COOPER: "Keeping Them Honest," in Syria tonight, there is more blood in the streets. Almost 12 months of slaughter and it's only getting worse.

Syria's ambassador, however, to the U.N. says there's no killing, no violence to be concerned about. When CNN's Richard Roth asked him about a ceasefire to allow women and children and the wounded to leave the besieged city of Homes, here's what he said.

Quote, "Ceasefire? We're not in a civil war. We're not in an armed conflict." Those are the words of the Syrian ambassador, Bashar al-Jafar (ph). Shortly after the U.N. General Assembly passed a nonbinding resolution endorsing the Arab League plan for Syria's president, Bashar al-Assad, to step down. Again, the resolution is non-binding and doesn't authorize any kind of aggressive action to stop the slaughter of civilians. In other words, it really won't make a difference.

"Keeping Them Honest," despite what Syria's ambassador says, here's the reality on the ground. Today Syrian forces shelled the city of Homs for the 13th straight day. We know that because CNN's Arwa Damon is in Homs. She snuck in there.

That said, CNN cannot independently verify the videos we're showing you right now, because Syria's severely restricted access. This video shows Babar Ahmar (ph) a neighborhood that's been heavily hit. Attacks have been escalating over there for the last ten days.

No armed conflict again, the U.N. ambassador says. Sure doesn't look like that.

This video is also from Homs, apparently a rocket fired by government forces hit the building. Again, we can't independently verify.

The Syrian military continues to support Assad, doing his bidding and doing his killing, tanks fill the street in Homs. No need for a ceasefire, says the U.N. ambassador.

It's not just Homs. This video purports to show soldiers shooting at residential buildings in another city, Latakia. We'll let you decide if it looks like an armed conflict to you. Or this.

The U.S. embassy in Damascus posted a satellite image on Facebook today of an oil pipeline fire in Homs yesterday. Today, at least 70 people were killed across Syria, according to one activist groups. Several local journalists were arrested, as well.

At a Senate hearing, the U.S. director of national intelligence, James Clapper, gave his blunt take on Syria. President Assad, he said, will not step down or stop the killing, short of a coup.

CNN's Arwa Damon reached Homs yesterday, where people were asking her when the international community will step in to stop the killing. Today, Arwa took shelter with 300 people in a bunker. Here's what she told me earlier.


ARWA DAMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, we were with a bunch of people that have effectively been forced out of their homes because of the intensity of the shelling. Around 351 of them were living inside this bunker.

And they were just pulling us in every single direction, quite simply because they all had a story of a loved one who had died, of horrors that they'd witnessed, of the sheer fear that they felt that forced them out of their homes. And many of them actually had their houses directly hit in the shelling. The conditions that these people are living in, I mean, they hardly have any proper food. They have a bit of bread, some rice. And those kinds of things at best have to be smuggled in. Of course there's no medicine. Children are getting sick. It's just incredibly difficult to put into words exactly what people here are going through.

COOPER: Do the bombings continue? I mean, does the mortar fire continue?

DAMON: Yes. It does. It most certainly does. The shelling continues. There's machine gunfire that you hear pretty much throughout the day. People are telling us that it's not -- it hasn't been as intense over the last two days as it was in the initial ten days of this most recent crackdown. But that doesn't mean that it's any less terrifying.

And then, of course, you have the constant threat of these government sniper positions on various rooftops. And the activists that we move around with effectively have them mentally mapped out in their minds to be able to get around.

COOPER: How does this compare? I mean, you've worked in Iraq; you've worked all over in combat zones around the world. How does this compare?

DAMON: The sheer scale of what they are going through, the scope of it, the magnitude. What people are pointing out, too, is that this was the government doing it to their own people. Iraq was a military occupation. But what activists are telling us is this is their own government doing this to its own people.

COOPER: Arwa, continue to be careful. Thank you.

DAMON: Thanks.


COOPER: Arwa Damon in Homs tonight.

People are dying every day in Syria. That hasn't stopped some brave Syrians from braving their lives to bear witness to the violence. You might remember Danny. He's been on the program before, reporting what he's seen firsthand.

We're not using his full name for his own protection. He's in many ways become the voice and the face of the opposition. He insists on showing his face. He's no longer in Syria. He left the country for his own safety. Here's a look at some of what he saw before he left.


DANNY, MEMBER OF RESISTANCE IN SYRIA: This is one that has been hit. This is one of about 50 or 100 of them. We're expecting they are going to attack Homs. Even in their houses, people aren't safe anymore.

They're on the roof.

February the 5. On the roof.

As you can see, look at all the people living down here. These are civilians running away from their government. All we are asking for is help. We want to get rid of this regime. It's killing us. These are civilian bodies. This is in the army. This is one of the houses. Look at these children. This is how the regime is treating our children.

Look over there, another rocket landed at a civilian's house. This has been going on all day long. Why isn't anyone helping us? Where's the humanity in the world? Where's the freaking U.N.?


COOPER: CNN's Nick Paton Walsh recently talked to Danny in an undisclosed location. He's no longer there. Here's what he told Nick.


NICK PATON WALSH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: If you had to describe a scene from Homs to somebody who's never been there that explains what you've been going through, what would you say?

"DANNY": What they have to -- have to see is the children getting killed. Not just the children, the -- when someone dies and they get used to it. One of my friends, when his father got killed -- that was two weeks ago, I hugged him. And he cried a little bit. He kept going for like an hour, an hour and a half. He was asking for a pen.

So, I caught him and said, "Why do you want a pen?"

He said I want to write on my dad's body on the sheet. I don't want to lose him in the bodies. People are getting used to that kind of bodies in the street.

WALSH: What thoughts or what memory keeps you up at night?

DANNY: I've seen lots. You cannot imagine. To tell you what I've seen, it would take me hours. What about the little kid that has got no jaw left and he's still alive? What about the kid that's lost his two legs and he's still alive? What about the kid that's lost his arms? My friend is paralyzed now. My friend has lost his arm, his left arm. My friend has lost an eyeball. My friend has got hit by a sniper in his mouth, went out here, lost all his teeth.

These are all people scarred for life. See, I'd rather get killed than be scarred like that. That's what people are scared about now. They aren't scared about dying. We would die for our country. It doesn't matter. But that's different than losing a piece of your body. WALSH: It's possible Barack Obama will hear what you're saying. If you could appeal directly to him, what would you say?

DANNY: Well, I'm begging him to help us. Military forces or by weapons or by no-fly zone. We want help. We can't stay like this. Bashar al-Assad will kill millions. He has no problem. This can't be solved peacefully.

WALSH: As this conflict drags on perhaps for more months, is it possible that radicals could hijack your movement?

DANNY: Listen, this revolution is for the Syrian people. It's not for the Arab and Muslim Brothers. It's not for anybody. It's for the same people, Christians, Muslims, Kurds. It's for everybody. The Syrian people. We started it. We will end it.

People are saying it's an Islamic movement. It's all Muslims. No, it isn't. It's all guys like me, 17- and 18-year-old people going out and doing demonstrations.

WALSH: How do you think history will judge the diplomacy of the past two months?

DANNY: For the last few months? It's a crime against humanitarian. This is all Russia's fault. They've got Syrian blood on their hands. This is all their fault.

The last time the U.N. did nothing, they gave the green light and OK for Bashar al-Assad to kill more. It was the first time that he used rocket launchers, after the U.N. He felt safe. They gave him the OK.

WALSH: Why don't you think they want to intervene? What's stopping them?

DANNY: They think our blood is just like water. They want to trade our blood with something.


COOPER: Still ahead, fighter jets intercept a plane carrying drugs flying in restricted air space during the president's trip to California. Details on that.

And dramatic demonstration shows what could have happened on Christmas day of 2009 if the so-called underwear bomber blew up his device in that commercial airliner. Today he was sentenced for his crime. We'll tell you how long he's going to be away for.


HENDRICKS: Back to Anderson in a moment. First, a "360 News Bulletin."

The man nicknamed "the underwear bomber" has been sentenced to life in prison. Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the 25-year-old Nigerian, tried to blow up a Detroit-bound commercial airliner on Christmas Day in 2009. The explosive device was hidden in his underwear. Two hundred and eighty-nine people were on board that flight.

Two fighter jets intercepted a small plane that flew into restricted air space over Los Angeles today. The airspace was restricted because President Obama is on the West Coast. The plane was turned over to local authorities, who say they found what appears to be marijuana on board.

Some very sad news to tell you about. The death of "New York Times" correspondent Anthony Shadid. He was reporting in eastern Syria. He had been there a week when he apparently suffered a fatal asthma attack.

Photographer Tyler Hicks, a friend and colleague, literally carried his body out of the country across the Turkish border. The two had faced death last year when they and others were kidnapped and beaten by Libyan thugs. A short time later they talked about that experience with Anderson. It turned into a conversation about bearing witness when no one else will.


ANTHONY SHADID, "NEW YORK TIMES" CORRESPONDENT: I think there are some stories that are work taking risks for. I think back to the decisions I've had to make over the years. Staying in Baghdad in 2003, covering the war in Lebanon in 2006, Ramallah in 2002. These stories, I think, you do have that sense that -- it is a little bit of a cliche, but there is some meaning to it. That, you know, unless you're there, that no one is going to know about it. Unless you're there trying to bring meaning to it, to bring a certain depth to it, it won't be done otherwise.


HENDRICKS: Anthony Shadid, last spring. That was his mission. Bringing meaning to his readers, whether it was covering the uprising in Egypt, despite pressure from the police not to, or reporting from the West Bank, where he was shot and wounded.

Wherever he went, he wrote what he saw with clarity and sensitivity. But that was a given. He also saw what others missed and made us look when we would have rather looked away.

Anthony Shadid had a wife and two children. He was just 43.


COOPER: Time now for "The RidicuList," and tonight I've got good news for the Republican presidential candidates, because contrary to some reports, the Megadeth presidential endorsement, well, it's still up for grabs.

That's right: there was a story floating around yesterday that the heavy metal icons had already chosen their favorite among the GOP hopefuls. Reports said that Megadeth frontman Dave Mustaine had endorsed Rick Santorum.

But Mustaine, who as metal aficionados will recall was also in Metallica, says that is not quite true. In a statement today, Mustaine says, and I quote, "Contrary to how some people have interpreted my words, I've not endorsed any presidential candidate. I hope to see a Republican in the White House. I've seen good qualities in all the candidates but by no means have made my choice yet."

OK, duly noted. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the Megadeth oeuvre, may I present the thrash metal masterpiece -- thrasher-piece, if you will -- "Peace Sells."


DAVID MUSTAINE, LEAD SINGER (singing): We need a president of the United States of America. I'll tell you something. It's still, we the people, right?


COOPER: Now I know it's something -- I'm sorry -- did that get caught on camera.? I know what some of you were thinking. Why would Dave Mustaine of Megadeth endorse any candidate? As it turns out, he's spoken about politics quite a bit.


MUSTAINE: You see people and you think, he's so red. He's got to have a ponytail and a goatee and stuff like that. He doesn't. He's very beautiful. He could be in this room right now.


COOPER: I'm sorry, am I bad? He was actually Dave Mustaine talking about the devil. This is the one where he's talking about politics.


MUSTAINE: The devil's tri-tone is made of up these three notes. And this note here drops down one, so it goes -- so listen to the difference. It's just sounds evil, doesn't it?


COOPER: Again, apologize. That was actually him showing us the devils tri-tone. I'm sorry. That's just too "Spinal Tap" for words.


CHRISTOPHER GUEST, ACTOR: It's part of a trilogy, really, a musical trilogy I'm doing in D-minor, which I always find is really the saddest of all keys. I don't know why, but it makes people weep instantly.

(END VIDEO CLIP) COOPER: Saddest of all keys.

So I guess we'll just have to wait for Megadeth's official endorsement. But it's still pretty early in this presidential campaign. There hasn't been any really comprehensive exit polling at Slayer concerts yet. Anthrax, certainly, they have yet to weigh in.

Lemmy from Motorhead hasn't endorsed anyone yet, but I always thought of him as kind of a Ron Paul guy.


LEMMY KILMISTER, LEAD SINGER, MOTORHEAD: Most expression would be like this. But then I do it; it sounds quite different.


COOPER: Just a taste of a brilliant documentary called "Lemmy."

Look, everyone is entitled to an opinion, political and otherwise, and I'm not here telling anybody which candidates they should support, much like -- much less what the most demonic guitar chord is. They're both very personal decisions.

Personally I just cannot wait to see how the Republican candidates start courting the head-banger votes, now that we know a lot of endorsements are not yet set in stone or, more appropriately, set in rock.

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