Return to Transcripts main page
ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
War on Women?; Syrian Crackdown Grows; Diplomatic Crisis in China
Aired May 3, 2012 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: It's 10:00 here on the East Coast.
We begin tonight "Keeping Them Honest," with what the White House and some Democrats on Capitol Hill and MoveOn.org continue to insist, that House Republicans want to keep student loan rates low by waging war on women's health.
Now, before you attack me, saying I'm a Republican mouthpiece or anti-women, I'm not talking about past Republican efforts that have been portrayed by Democrats as hurting women. That's not what we're discussing. I'm simply focusing right now tonight on the effort by Republicans to offset the cost of keeping student loan rates low by cutting health care prevention funding.
The truth is, Republicans only grudgingly voted to extend low rates and only by paying for it by eliminating money to fund preventative health care. That's absolutely true. You can agree with them or not. That's not what I'm arguing. But they're cutting prevention funding for everyone, not just for women. Those are facts. We've reported on this before.
But it didn't stop the group MoveOn.org today from taking out this full-page ad on Politico -- quote -- "Republicans Must Think We're Stupid" is how it's titled. It goes on to say, they, meaning Republicans, will -- quote -- "only keep rates low if they cut funding for women's health."
It closes with a call to -- quote -- "Keep Stafford loan rates low and do it in a way that doesn't try to pit students against women."
"Keeping Them Honest," though, it doesn't. What the House bill does do is zero out a billion-dollar portion of the new health care law devoted to preventative medicine, money for smoking prevention, HIV screening, nutrition programs, hospital infection control, immunization, money to hire doctors and fight obesity, but nothing in the fund for things like mammograms, Pap smears, prenatal care, any other specific women's health issues, with the exception of about $7 million for breast-feeding.
Now, the Obama administration wants to include breast and cervical cancer programs in next year's prevention funding. It would be substantial, $260 million, but so far it's only a proposal. And make no mistake, though. Eliminating all funding for preventative care, as House Republicans want, would have a big impact, but it's an impact on men, women and children. But that's not the issue.
That's not how MoveOn.org is framing it and Democrats.
The issue is claims like these.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The way to pay for this assistance for students is not to shut down health for the women of this country.
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D), MINORITY LEADER: A continuation of their assault on women's health.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Pile-on on that assault on women's health care.
PELOSI: Continuing their all-out assault on women's health.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Attack women's health and children's health.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They now are attacking women's health.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's interesting that the fund they keep going back to particularly benefits the reproductive health care, child bearing health care, preventive health care that is so necessary to women.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: By the way, this is a fund that Democrats voted to cut earlier this year.
"Keeping Them Honest," even as Democrats have been pursuing this line of attack, they have also been moving the goalpost. The spokesman for House Minority Leader Pelosi now saying that 60 percent of the billion-dollar fund goes to women and children. Not women. Women and children. That's a huge difference.
The spokesman also said -- quote -- "I think we're on solid ground here." But both FactCheck.org and the "Washington Post's" own fact checker disagree. The "Post" awarding the claim two out of four Pinocchios. I talked about it earlier tonight with MoveOn.org's Justin Ruben.
COOPER: So, Justin, the funding that the Republicans want to cut is actually not specific to women's health. It's funding for a lot of different services as you know. Tobacco prevention, HIV screening, nutrition programs, immunizations, hiring more doctors, and these are services that benefit men, women, and children.
So how can you say the Republicans are pitting students against women here, that they're targeting women's health?
JUSTIN RUBEN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, MOVEON.ORG: Sure. Well, first of all, the background here that folks should know is that you have student loan rates that are going to double on July 1.
It's a huge problem for students that are already groaning under the weight of all these loans. And you know -- and Republicans are under a lot of pressure for blocking efforts to fix that. And then their latest game has been to turn around and say we're going to cut these health care programs, which predominantly -- basically a big fund for health care programs predominantly benefits women. And --
COOPER: That's not true.
RUBEN: Well, no, that -- it is true actually.
COOPER: How can you say that? We're -- how can you say that?
RUBEN: Well, there's -- so there's two things. First of all, 60 percent of the funding overall goes to basically programs that benefit women and their children. And then you have --
COOPER: Wait a minute. So children. Now you're including children in on this. But I mean, you can't say that 60 percent of the funding goes for women and children. It's not broken down like that. Most of the funding actually goes for hiring doctors and anti-smoking efforts and anti-obesity efforts.
RUBEN: So basically what's happened is, Republicans have cut funding for health care programs. The president says, OK, I'm going to use this fund to pay for essential cervical and breast cancer screening programs in the -- in the 2013 budget. Republicans then respond by saying, well, we're going to cut that whole fund, including the funding for those programs.
COOPER: It's funding for obesity, it's funding for HIV, it's funding for a lot of things. You cannot factually say -- FactCheck.org says you -- agrees. You cannot say this is funding specifically for women or overwhelmingly for women. In fact, when the Democrats agreed to cut billions of dollars from this a couple of months ago, MoveOn.org didn't say the Democrats are targeting women's health. It's only now that it fits your agenda that you're saying this is about women's health.
RUBEN: Yes, Anderson, I think that's just not true.
COOPER: President Obama himself agreed to take money out. His budget, in fact, for 2013 specifies taking billions of dollars out for this. But you don't say he's targeting women, do you? I haven't heard MoveOn.org say President Obama is targeting women's health, that the Democrats are targeting women's health five months ago. Now it's Republicans targeting women's health because they are wanting to do it.
RUBEN: You know, the fact is you have -- we have millions of --
COOPER: So when --
RUBEN: -- MoveOn members who benefit from programs --
COOPER: So when President Obama --
RUBEN: Rely on these programs -- COOPER: Wanted to --
RUBEN: We fight president -- we've fought President Obama all the time.
COOPER: So -- so where's your ad for -- where's your ad saying President Obama is targeting women?
RUBEN: We've run ads against President Obama. But the fact is if you want to look at who is consistently targeting women, who is -- you know, who's the party that's trying to eliminate funding for Planned Parenthood, who is the party that has consistently been trying to cut funding for cervical cancer and Pap smears? That's the Republicans.
And we're going to call that out. And of course they're going to try to dodge and get away from that. But the fact is, it's true. There are over $200 million of 2013 funding that they are zeroing out.
COOPER: And Obama's 2013 budget when --
RUBEN: And the bottom line is this is -- we shouldn't be having this conversation. Why are we having a conversation -- look, you have student loan rates --
COOPER: Because my job is to report on facts. Not to meet your agenda. And when President Obama suggests in his 2012 budget cutting billions of dollars from this, I don't see a MoveOn.org ad saying President Obama is attacking women. You only seem to be targeting Republicans because that meets your political agenda.
RUBEN: I just -- I just don't think that's true. I mean, look --
COOPER: So when President Obama wants to cut money from this, that's not targeting women?
RUBEN: President Obama wants to -- look, was it a problem --
COOPER: Yes or no? Does that target women when President Obama wants to take billions of dollars out of this?
RUBEN: When President Obama is taking billions of dollars out of this, that's wrong and will have a disproportionate effect on women.
COOPER: So he's targeting women.
RUBEN: I don't think it's fair to say President Obama is waging a war on women. Of course not, because he --
COOPER: But Republicans are?
RUBEN: Because -- COOPER: In this case.
RUBEN: Yes. Look, you have a bill in -- you have a bill in Virginia that --
COOPER: I'm not talking about other -- I'm talking about specifically on the --
RUBEN: Look, this -- I feel like this isn't rocket science. You have a billion dollars of funding. Overall, most of that is going to programs that are women-specific. But they disproportionally benefit women. Much of it --
COOPER: Well, you're saying because they also benefit children --
COOPER: They benefit everybody. I'm not -- I'm not arguing for cutting this program. It benefits everybody. It --
RUBEN: But if you actually look -- I mean, if you actually look at -- if you actually look at this --
RUBEN: The majority of the people who benefit from these programs are women.
COOPER: Well, FactCheck --
RUBEN: And then you have hundreds of millions --
COOPER: FactCheck.org says that's not true. It says you can't say that. I mean, that --
RUBEN: No, I think --
COOPER: You look at the line out of the specific, hiring of doctors, anti-obesity, HIV --
RUBEN: But if you take the obesity program, for example, because you have more women of child bearing age that are obese, in fact, disproportionately that funding goes to women. And the fact that it doesn't have women --
COOPER: Well, it's actually -- actually what it is --
RUBEN: It doesn't mean it's not going to affect women --
COOPER: What it is is it mostly goes to community grants to do things, environmental things like walking paths which benefit everybody. To say that a walking path benefits women more than men, again it doesn't seem -- I understand your argument. RUBEN: I think this is -- I just think this is -- we're splitting hairs here. You have -- you have a program that disproportionately benefits women, hundreds of millions of dollars that funding specifically earmarked for vital things like cervical cancer and breast cancer screenings. And then you know, this is part and partial of what Republicans have been doing all year.
And so that -- they're going to say, well, this is again, this isn't part of our war on women. It's just an attack on health care generally. I mean, come on. There's a way to pay for these student loans. And not -- and makes the rate doesn't double. And that's to ask millionaires and billionaires to pay their fair share. And not to go after health care funding --
COOPER: That's a separate discussion. And I understand your position.
RUBEN: But it's part of --
COOPER: I understand argument. I appreciate it, Justin. Thank you.
RUBEN: Thanks for having me.
COOPER: Let's dig deeper now on the political impact of this debate with GOP strategist Ari Fleischer and Democratic strategist Hilary Rosen.
Hilary, I mean, do you think it's accurate for MoveOn.org and other Democrats on Capitol Hill, even the White House, to be saying this specifically, this idea of, you know, the student loan bill, by offsetting it by -- eliminating the preventative health services is an -- is part of an attack on women specifically?
HILARY ROSEN, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: No, you know, I looked at FactCheck.org. I think they are right. But you know I sympathize with MoveOn.org because it is extremely hard to get into a discussion about how the Republican are -- Republicans are screwing up priorities in the budget these days and taking programs for the -- from the needy to serve other programs of the needy.
If you've decided that student loans is something that we ought to do to help, then don't do what you did two weeks ago which is pass $45 billion worth of tax cuts for the wealthy. Fund student loans.
COOPER: But does it help their argument --
ROSEN: Don't take out from the health grant.
COOPER: But to your point, does it help their argument, though, to be stretching the facts on this particular brand? I mean, aren't there -- there's plenty of things they can argue about if they want to argue about assault on women's health or war on women or whatever. This particular one, it just doesn't seem to hold water.
ROSEN: You know, the preventative health fund is a discretionary fund. So in many regard -- in many instances, it's kind of up to the secretary for the programs that it will fund. And President Obama and the House Democrats are hoping they'll fund certain things and they're hoping that those will be programs for women in preventative health, whether it's obesity or other things.
But again, like OK, you're right. You've got them on the specific language. But that doesn't mean that that's like the end of the debate. The worthy debate here, I think, is how are Republicans choosing their priorities? They are not choosing the right priorities.
COOPER: Ari, is it -- is it fair for when the Democrats voted to -- earlier this year -- in order to extend the payroll tax cuts to take money from this preventive health care fund and when President Obama's 2013 budget talks about taking money from this preventive health care fund, no one seems to be arguing that they are attacking women. But when Republicans are trying to do it, it's -- they're attacking women.
ARI FLEISCHER, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Yes, good for you, Anderson. I mean, this is a total case of being absolute double standard by the Democrats on this issue. President Obama proposed a $4 billion 10- year cut in this very same program. And in February when they passed the payroll tax at the House, they actually had bipartisan support. Many Democrats voted to cut this very program.
You know, the bigger problem here, Anderson, is when people say you can't cut anything and they then turn it into one of this manufactured war against women, war against children, this is why the government is so big, spends so much, and we have trillion-dollar deficits as far as the eye can see.
You know, Hilary decried the Republican budget. Fact of the matter, there are no budgets in Washington. The Senate hasn't passed a budget in three years. The House is at least trying. And President Obama has given up on even trying to bring the parties together to achieve any type of consensus this year because it's an election year, so he won't even try.
You know, Washington --
ROSEN: That's not true.
FLEISCHER: -- is broken and this is one of the biggest reasons why. It's picking these fights over issues, war on women, war on children, when people are just trying to make rational decisions in Washington. And on the student loan program itself, Anderson, I just got to say, I don't know why the federal government is in the student loan business to begin with. This is something the private sector should be in. The government nationalized student loans. And they have no business --
(CROSSTALK) ROSEN: You know the private sector was in the business and they ripped off students and charged them usury rates, and people , you know, had the federal government come in for very good reason to regulate an out-of-control, greedy business. So, but let's go back to the issue that Ari raised.
FLEISCHER: They didn't regulate it. They took it over.
ROSEN: Let's go back to the issue that Ari raised, which is, you know, where is the federal budget and where are -- how are these priorities being set? Because the truth is that actually federal spending is down. And when we -- when we look at the overall increase in jobs, and -- they are increasing in the private sector, not in the public sector.
So what we have is a necessary choice about priorities to make. And when the Republicans push tax cuts instead of helping needy folks in the preventative health or food stamps or in day care, just the very things that they're going to be voting on, on Monday.
On Monday, the House Budget Committee is going to be voting on a $300 billion bill which will give tax cuts again to people earning over $1 million and cut food stamps and cut day care and cut education support. You know, this is about priorities. This is not about a bloated budget. If this were about a bloated budget, they wouldn't give tax cuts because tax cuts cost money.
FLEISCHER: You know, Anderson, MoveOn.org got two Pinocchios for their ad. Hilary just gets four.
ROSEN: No -- no.
FLEISCHER: She said that federal spending is down?
ROSEN: What I said is actually true.
FLEISCHER: The fact of the matter is -- the fact of the matter spending was $2.7 trillion in 2007. And now it's $3.5 trillion.
ROSEN: That's --
FLEISCHER: Revenues are almost at $2.7 rate. Federal spending just keeps skyrocketing. And the reason that the percentage is down is because the economy under President Obama is so weak. Of course as the percentage has come down the economy is not doing well. The government is going broke, the taxpayers are going broke, our children are going broke --
ROSEN: Then stop giving money to rich people, Ari.
FLEISCHER: Children can't jobs when they get out of college.
ROSEN: Stop giving the money away then.
FLEISCHER: That's the fundamental problem. And there haven't been any tax cuts passed. So I don't know why Hilary is saying give it away. President Obama is the one who extended the tax cuts for all Americans, not just one bracket. All Americans.
ROSEN: They haven't been passed.
FLEISCHER: And that's the problem. The government spends so much. We're all in deficits, we're all debt, we're all going broke.
COOPER: Hilary, just very briefly. Final.
ROSEN: Yes, Ari is filibustering the discussion here. But the fact is that Republican plans and Mitt Romney's plan is to increase tax cuts to give more money away. If Republicans were really worried about the federal budget, then they would not do that. They would focus on pure spending cuts. But that's not their agenda. Their agenda is to eliminate federal programs for the needy while they give their friends a tax cut.
FLEISCHER: It's called trying to achieve growth which is something we have not had for three years.
COOPER: Hilary Rosen, Ari Fleischer, appreciate it.
Let us know what you think.
ROSEN: Twenty-three straight months of jobs.
COOPER: We're on Facebook. Google+. Follow me on Twitter @AndersonCooper. I will be tweeting tonight. Let me know what you think about this.
Also tonight, the showdown with China over this man, a dissident, blind dissident who escaped house arrest, took refuge in the U.S. embassy, left the embassy, says he was forced out, now says he wants to get out of China entirely.
The question tonight, what is really going on and is the Obama administration hanging him out to dry? Mitt Romney certainly thinks so.
We're going to talk to Nick Kristof of "The New York Times," David Gergen as well. And we'll get the latest from Beijing next.
COOPER: Tonight on 360 "World View": the very high stakes drama of Chinese human rights activist Chen Guangcheng.
Now, today, Chen actually made a direct appeal to the U.S. Congress talking by speakerphone to lawmakers during a congressional hearing. A translator delivered his message in English.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) CHEN GUANGCHENG, CHINESE DISSIDENT (through translator): I want to meet with the Secretary Clinton. I hope I can get more help from her. I also want to thank her face to face. So the thing I most concerned right now is the safety of my mother, my brothers, and I really want to know what's going on with them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: We're going to put on the left-hand side of our screen a look at our signal in -- being broadcast in China. Last night when we broadcast this story in China, we were taken off the air on CNN International. Just a clear example of censorship by the Chinese regime.
We're going to see and while we give you this report we'll be monitoring to see if we're taken off the air yet again in China.
Chen also said that he hopes U.S. lawmakers will help ensure the legal rights of his relatives and he wants his freedom of travel guaranteed. The 40-year-old blind activist is staying at a Beijing hospital after leaving the U.S. embassy yesterday under a deal negotiated by U.S. and Chinese officials.
You'll remember he took refuge at the embassy just days before Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was due to arrive in Beijing for scheduled trade talks. Now the timing was awkward. The situation has only gotten more complicated just in the last 24 hours. The State Department said that Chen left the embassy willingly and never told them he wanted to leave China. But Chen says he was pressured to leave the embassy, fears for his family's safety, and hopes to get on a plane with Secretary Clinton when she leaves.
Today at a press briefing, State Department's spokesman Mark Toner was asked what U.S. officials plan to do.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARK TONER, STATE DEPARTMENT DEPUTY SPOKESMAN: We're not sure, in fact, what his intentions are or what his goals are now that he's had a change of heart.
QUESTION: I think he's made it pretty clear what his goals are. He said that he wants Secretary Clinton to take him back on a plane with her.
TONER: It's clear that he's had a change of heart.
QUESTION: I think that there's no doubt what -- it's clear.
TONER: It's clear he's had a change of heart. We're having conversations with him, but I'm not going to prejudge those conversations and I'm certainly not going to speculate from this podium. Again, in Washington on how this -- on any possible outcome.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, as said, this is a high-stakes issue for China and the U.S.
During our report last night on Chen, as I mentioned, Chinese state television blacked out our signal. It was restored after our report ended. That's last night's program shot on the TV in our Beijing bureau. You can see it go from black back to the program once our report on the story ended.
As we mentioned, we're going to keep a picture from CNN China in the bottom of the screen. We think it's worth noting especially since this is World Press Freedom Day.
CNN's Stan Grant joins me now.
Stan, you spoke to Chen -- and it just went to black as you saw so we have just now been censored in China.
You spoke to Chen again today. What did he tell you, Stan?
STAN GRANT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, he's very resolute, Anderson. There is one message here. And that is he wants to get out of China. There's no debate about that. There's no doubt about that. There's no confusion about that. He has said that time and time again.
When we first spoke to him at 3: 00 a. m. on Thursday morning, through us he made an appeal direct to President Obama. Please, Mr. President, get me and my family out of this country and to the United States. He has reiterated that time and time again. He's in fear for his life. When he met his wife, his wife told him how she had been tied to the chair and beaten with sticks for two days after guards discovered that he'd fled from house detention.
There is no doubt about what he wants. Is he going to achieve it? That's going to be the big question here. He's appealing directly to Hillary Clinton. He wants to meet with the secretary of state face to face. He's appealed to President Obama. As of right now, though, he is in the hands of the government that has jailed him in the past, hold him under house arrest, and considers him an enemy of the state.
COOPER: So he's still in the hospital right now?
GRANT: He's in the hospital and surrounded by guards. First of all, his health is not good. Over the past 18 months of being under house arrest, he says he's been beaten repeatedly. He has not had full medical treatment that he's required. Friends talk about internal bleeding. He damaged his leg in that extraordinary getaway. So he needs medical treatment, but he's also under guard in there.
He can't move around. There's a very strong presence outside. Yesterday there was an extraordinary image, two extraordinary images. The first is of a supporter of Chen's who came to speak out in front of cameras. He was dragged away forcibly. That shows the guards there don't care what the rest of the world see.
The other extraordinary image, a very senior official from the U.S. embassy standing outside the hospital because he couldn't get in -- Anderson.
COOPER: He also spoke to the U.S. ambassador to China, Gary Locke. Did he leave the door open to the U.S. further helping Chen out? Is the U.S. now trying to negotiate on his behalf? GRANT: Absolutely. He maintains throughout that Chen has said to him explicitly, time and time again, I want to stay in China. I want to fight for freedom in this country. And I want to leave the embassy and be reunited with my family. He did that and you saw the images. He was smiling, he was hugging officials when they took him to the hospital. But everything changed after he went to the hospital. Then he said, no, I don't trust the Chinese government. Threats have been made. We need to get out of here.
I put that to Ambassador Locke. He said they're going to continue to talk, to leave the door open, to try to negotiate something, albeit when they can, they should get to see him face to face. But here's the problem. To actually get asylum, he needs to be on U.S. ground. That could be the embassy itself. Ironically the very embassy that Chen walked away from 24 hours ago -- Anderson.
COOPER: All right. Stan, appreciate it. Be careful, Stan.
It's already Friday in China on the screen there. You can see we're still blacked out being censored right now in China. The screen just went to black as soon as Stan began his -- his live report.
Secretary Clinton's visit ends in just a matter of hours. She heads to Bangladesh on Saturday. I spoke earlier to Nick Kristof of the "New York Times" and CNN senior political analyst David Gergen about this.
COOPER: David, you said the honor of the United States is at stake with its handling of Mr. Chen.
DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, the United States has long been one of the foremost advocates for human rights in the world. We've stood up on those issues with regard to the Soviet Union. We stood up with regard to China. We tried to do that with Tiananmen Square, and of course, the United States relationships were taking place with China in a very broad array of issues.
But this one is so simple and straightforward. It is about the life of a hero who is blind, who escaped from Chinese authorities. And I think most Americans would say when he comes into the U.S. embassy, his protection is a matter of national honor for us.
COOPER: And Nick, you believe if he had disappeared again, so to speak, the Obama administration will be humiliated?
NICHOLAS KRISTOF, COLUMNIST, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": Absolutely. Yes, I mean, they -- Obama administration had them under their protection and he left. They extracted some promises from the Chinese Foreign Ministry, which is sort of a more dovish element of the Chinese government. Now he's in the hands of the security forces. And --
COOPER: What do you -- I mean, do you think the U.S. was -- is being up front when they say that Chen changed his mind?
KRISTOF: Yes, as far as I can tell, that is indeed what happened. Jerry Cohen, a lawyer who was really brought in by Chen Guangcheng, confirms that account. And indeed today Chen Guangcheng really seemed to confirm that. He said that he left voluntarily. He thanked the embassy for its support. I think that he did indeed leave voluntarily. I think that then he got really shaken up when he talked to his wife and talked to his lawyer.
COOPER: David, I mean, a lot of analysts said the U.S. and China are on a collision course for conflict. I mean, what is the potential fallout here?
GERGEN: The fallout can be very significant. I think we all remember in Tiananmen Square, that young man who stood up to a tank and had the symbolic value that was enormous. The symbolic impact of that was enormous for the American people. And Tiananmen Square -- this is not Tiananmen Square but it could very much damage relations.
But it's again -- it's a question of -- I think Nick Kristof is absolutely right. We're going to be humiliated if we lose this guy.
Let me just say, Anderson, Kurt Campbell, who was sent there by the State Department, assistant secretary of state. I know Kurt a long time. He's a very tough, very competent person. I would trust him to handle something like this. I do think somehow signals got mixed up or something like that because Chen also had assurances, he says, that Americans would be in the hospital. And he would have Americans there with him. And right now, there are no Americans with him by all our reports.
COOPER: Right. He said suddenly he looked around and realized that there weren't any left/
How -- he --
COOPER: Nick, he has said he would like to leave on Secretary Clinton's plane with his family. How is that -- would that even be possible?
KRISTOF: I don't think there's any chance that the Chinese are going to allow him to leave on Secretary Clinton's plane because that would a loss of face for them. I think there is indeed some real possibility that they would allow him to leave as a student to study at New York University. From their point of view, he's a huge headache. And their experience has been that when you get dissidents out of the country, then that tends to move them out of the picture a little bit, as long as they let his family go with him but keep his mother in Guangdong Province there as something of a hostage. COOPER: As leverage.
KRISTOF: As leverage. I think that that conceivably is a deal that could be worked out.
COOPER: David, obviously Mitt Romney weighed in on that story. I want to play some of that for our viewers.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The reports are, if they are accurate, that our administration willingly or unwillingly communicated to Chen explicit threat to his family. And also probably sped up or may have sped up the process of his decision to leave the embassy.
If these reports are true, this is a dark day for freedom and it's a day of shame for the Obama administration.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Do you think this is something that resonates with voters or will resonate?
GERGEN: Absolutely. This can come out two ways. If he stays in China under the custody of the Chinese and his future is in very much in doubt, I think it's going to be -- it will be a political blow for the Obama administration. If he comes out, they will get a lot of credit for that.
It's so interesting how just two days ago, as you know, the president had almost what was a triumph by going to Afghanistan and on the anniversary, and now it's so flipped. So that suddenly he's on the knife edge of a very difficult problem that could hurt him politically. It's not easy being president, it goes with the job, but I think he has to find an answer to this. I think it's very important for the president to find a way to have Mr. Chen and his family come out safely.
COOPER: Nick Kristof, appreciate it. David Gergen, thanks.
KRISTOF: Thank you.
COOPER: As we mentioned, it is World Press Freedom Day. To mark it, CNN teamed up with Reporters without Borders and asked students to submit videos explaining why press freedom is important. You can watch the winning submission on CNN. com.
Tonight: The Syrian regime's bloody campaign to repress anti- government protesters, it's spread to a university. At least seven people were reportedly killed -- details ahead.
COOPER: Welcome back to our continuing coverage. We've been told that we have just been put back on the air in China, no longer being censored, since we've moved on from that report about the Chinese activist, Chen.
Still to come tonight, big development in a story we've been following on this program. A grand jury makes a decision in the case of a police who shot and killed a retired veteran.
Audio and videotapes of the incident have just been released. We'll play them for you. You can decide for yourself what happened.
First, Isha is here with a "360 Bulletin" -- Isha.
ISHA SESAY, CNNI ANCHOR: Anderson, security forces in Syria stormed a university early this morning. Government opponents say it's an attempt to clamp down on growing student dissent. At least seven people were killed. Anti-al-Assad protests have been popped up on university campuses across Syria.
In a "360 Follow," today a Florida court denied a new trial for Marissa Alexander. She faces 20 years in prison for conviction of assault with a deadly weapon. She claimed self-defense on the Florida "stand your ground" law when her abusive husband came after her. The court did not agree.
More than 100 former football players, such as Chris Doleman, Jamal Alexander, and O.J. Santiago, are suing the NFL, claiming the league downplayed the dangers of concussions and brain injuries. The NFL claims the allegations have no merit.
And Anderson, look at this. Lucky for this little boy that the lion was behind protective glass, given what the child was wearing, as you can see clearly. Maybe the lion at the zoo in Oregon mistook him for a baby zebra. Maybe. I'm not sure. I mean, look at that.
COOPER: Wow, that's amazing.
Well, thank goodness for glass. Isha, thanks.
Tonight a grand jury's controversial decision not to indict the police officer who shot and killed an elderly retired Marine. We have audio and video of the incident. You can decide for yourself what you think if the police acted appropriately when they went to the man's door.
COOPER: The death of a New York area retired Marine. Kenneth Chamberlain, Sr. He was shot and killed by police. A grand jury in suburban White Plains decided not to indict the officer who killed him. Tonight, you'll be able to hear Chamberlain and see what they saw as the incident unfolded, unraveled. We have videotape recorded by police Taser guns and Mr. Chamberlain's medical alert pendant.
Now, this all happened last November. Mr. Chamberlain, who had a history of heart trouble, signaled the medical alert system, which called police. But when officers arrived at his door, he made it clear he didn't want them coming in.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KENNETH CHAMBERLAIN, KILLED BY POLICE: I'm OK.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I need to see that you're OK and we'll go.
CHAMBERLAIN: You leave.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can't leave. You called.
CHAMBERLAIN: I'm OK.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right. I need to see you.
CHAMBERLAIN: I'm OK.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: He said that again over and over several more minutes of tape, that he just wants police to go away. His son says Mr. Chamberlain feared for his life. When he finally opened the door a crack, police officers say he was holding a knife.
They burst in, Tasered the 68-year-old man, fired nonlethal bean bags at him. And then Officer Anthony Corelli shot and killed him.
Today the grand jury declined to indict him. We're going to talk to Kenneth Chamberlain, Jr., his son shortly. First, Soledad O'Brien with more on the tapes, the time line and the grand jury's decision -- Soledad.
SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Well, the White Plains district attorney said this entire incident was tragic from all sides, and I think that's fair to say. I've seen Mr. Chamberlain's medical records. Ken Chamberlain is a man who couldn't even walk up a flight of stairs without having respiratory issues, and that's why he wore that pendant around his neck, in case he needed medical attention.
It went off on November 19. An ambulance was dispatched. A security camera captured the police arriving there. And Kenneth Chamberlain is called by the medical alert company, who talks to him over a speakerphone. And you can hear him telling them he's OK, he wants the police to go away.
At one point, he even says, "They're going to kill me or beat me up." At another point on that audio, you hear the medical alert dispatcher calling the police to tell them he doesn't need them anymore. She also tells Mr. Chamberlain that they're not going to go away unless he talks to them.
Now, I want to show you some video that was shot from a camera that's mounted on the Taser gun. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. What are we going to do now?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, that ain't happening.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Open the door just to check you out. I'm not going to leave.
CHAMBERLAIN: I'm OK. I'm fine.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, but I'm not a doctor.
CHAMBERLAIN: I am fine.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, I'm not going to do that.
CHAMBERLAIN: Leave. I'm fine.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: So how long does this go on for?
O'BRIEN: It goes on for about 20 minutes. And you can hear he's getting -- Mr. Chamberlain is getting agitated. The police, though, are actually not that agitated, but you hear him refusing very firmly, "Go away." You can hear Kenneth Chamberlain talking at the same time to the life alert people on the videotape. You see the police trying to force their way in, as well.
And you see that Mr. Chamberlain has some kind of metal object that he brandishes through the doorway. By now it's partly open. Police say that was a butcher knife. Let's take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHAMBERLAIN: They're getting ready to come in.
Shoot me. Go on. Shoot me. Shoot me. Go on. (EXPLETIVE DELETED) Shoot me. Shoot me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Did the police, I mean, have reason to believe he was dangerous?
O'BRIEN: I think that question is best answered by going a little bit forward to the end of the tape. At the end of the tape they fired the Taser gun. And you can see Mr. Chamberlain standing there.
And this is the portion of the tape that's going to, I think, cause a lot of discussion. We're going to take a look at the end of the tape one more time. And in slow motion, you can see he's standing there. He's half dressed. Remember it's 5 a.m. in the morning. You can see that only one arm is down by his side. He's yelling, "Shoot me" in this portion of the video. He's already been Tasered. He's not coming at them, but he's also -- he's not backing down. He's getting more and more agitated.
The police are actually, while they're calm, they have now shot the bean bags at him. They're Tasering him. The Taser rolls the videotape, and eventually the videotape ends. The Taser is shut off, and that is when Officer Corelli actually shoots him twice.
COOPER: I know you've got a lot more on this story tomorrow morning on "STARTING POINT."
Joining me now, only on 360, Randolph McLaughlin, attorney for Kenneth Chamberlain Jr. Also, Mr. Chamberlain joins us by phone.
Kenneth, you feel that justice was not done today. Why?
KENNETH CHAMBERLAIN JR., SON OF MARINE KILLED BY POLICE (via phone): Well, viewing the audio and the video, it's very clear that there was misconduct at minimal. Even if they don't want to say something was criminally done, there's still some sort of misconduct.
COOPER: Misconduct how?
CHAMBERLAIN JR.: Well, just using expletives which you guys haven't played on there. Using the "N" word. Those things right there, right from the very beginning, just simply tells you that that was just inappropriate of the police officers from the very beginning. And then they knocked down the door, and they just immediately fired a Taser at my father. Why? He told you he was OK and the police go away. The door was cracked. You saw he was OK. So there was no reason for you to enter his home.
COOPER: You say your father was not a threat to the police, but instead feared for his life.
CHAMBERLAIN JR.: Yes. That's correct. And at that time in the morning, someone banging on your door, demanding entry into your home, of course he feared for his life. He was 68 years old. He suffered from a heart condition. And why would the police fire a Taser at someone who has a heart condition?
COOPER: We should point out the police and the D.A. have confirmed that the "N" word was used. We got this tape so late, and it's long. We have not had the chance to actually isolate that portion of it. But there is confirmation that that was used.
Randy, what do you make of the grand jury's decision?
RANDOLPH MCLAUGHLIN, ATTORNEY FOR KENNETH CHAMBERLAIN JR.: I think it's easier to indict a vigilante in Florida than it is to indict a cop in New York. This is a tragedy from start to finish.
Mr. Chamberlain was in his home at 5 a.m., committing no crimes, threatening no one. The clip that you're showing us, that clip comes at the end of almost an hour and a half of confrontation where they're yelling at him, they're saying things to him, they're taunting him, they're mocking him. And this was an individual, when you believe the police reports, they believed he might have been emotionally disturbed. Well, they did absolutely nothing to calm him down and everything to agitate him.
At no point in this entire confrontation does Mr. Chamberlain ever leave his apartment. I've looked at the police records, and the final incident shows that two police officers, at least, entered Mr. Chamberlain's apartment after this video went off.
So he presented a threat to no one in his apartment. It's just like Trayvon Martin, where Zimmerman is following him around and putting the young man in fear of his life. Mr. Chamberlain was in fear for his life and legitimately so.
COOPER: Mr. McLaughlin, I appreciate you being on. Mr. Chamberlain, our condolences on your loss. I'm so sorry for your loss, and I appreciate you being with us.
Let's dig deeper now into what, if any, obligations police had to go into that apartment and to leave, if asked. Joining me now is legal contributor Paul Callan. He's also a former New York City homicide prosecutor with extensive experience presenting cases to grand juries.
If a life alert has been signaled, do -- are the police under some obligation to make sure that he's OK?
PAUL CALLAN, CNN LEGAL CONTRIBUTOR: Well, most prosecutors would you tell you that this is a gray area as to whether the police can proceed to force their way into a home.
We hear a lot about the castle doctrine, and you need a warrant, usually, to enter somebody's home.
The police here, though, will say they were confronted with a mentally disturbed person who they subsequently find out is armed with a knife, and that they had an obligation to enter to make sure he wasn't going to hurt himself. I'm sure that was the claim they probably made in front of the grand jury.
COOPER: Could there also had been a case had they left, had they just said -- taken his word for it that he was OK, and then he -- it turns out he had a heart attack or something, that they would have then been somehow liable if -- or held responsible by his family if, you know, they said, "Look, the police were at his door. They didn't bother to actually check on him. They left"?
CALLAN: Well, I have no doubt that was something they worried about. Obviously, if he has a history of mental illness, and I don't know anything about his medical background, but -- and he hurt himself, he stabbed himself, they certainly would be subject to great criticism. So the police were in a terrible position here in trying to decide what to do.
However, the one thing that troubles me, looking at it, is you did have Mr. Chamberlain's own family members apparently standing outside the door. So it's not like they were not accompanied by family members who were in a position to say to them, "Don't worry about it. Back off." COOPER: Also, they were using the "N" word, if -- according to Mr. Chamberlain's family attorney. The police were taunting him, kind of mocking him. That doesn't seem to be the right way to deal with a disturbed person.
CALLAN: No, and if that happened, it made the situation much worse. And it seems to me it would put the police in a position where they would be criticized for handling this situation wrongly.
But of course, what happens here, and now this apparently goes on over an extensive period of time, there are different snapshots we have to look at. One is did they have the right to enter at all? Maybe they didn't.
But once they're inside, you have an entirely new situation now. If he attacked them with a knife after being hit with a Taser and with other benign objects, then maybe they had the right to act in self- defense. We don't know, because we don't know what the testimony before the grand jury was. That's all secret in New York.
COOPER: Paul Callan, appreciate you being on. We'll continue to follow this.
Coming up, 175 pages of letters written by Osama bin Laden just released. They show plans for attacks, also some habits bin Laden had in his day-to-day life. Details ahead.
SESAY: I'm Isha Sesay with a "360 News & Business Bulletin."
A new glimpse into Osama bin Laden's plans revealed in letters he wrote that have just been released. The letters were among documents seized in the raid on the bin Laden compound.
They show he wanted another major terrorist attack in the United States and ordered that units be established in Afghanistan and Pakistan to target planes carrying President Obama or General David Petraeus.
The letters also include some odd tidbits like the fact that bin Laden was using Just for Men hair dye and taking Viagra.
The death of former NFL linebacker Junior Seau has been confirmed as a suicide. The San Diego County medical examiner's office says Seau died yesterday from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the chest. He was 43.
Spirit Airlines is raising the fee for carry-on bags to $100, the highest in the country. The airline now charges $45. The price goes up in November. The new $100 fee will apply to carry-ons registered at the gate. If you pay at the kiosk, it will be $50.
And keep your eye on the sky this weekend. The biggest full moon of the year will be this Saturday night -- Anderson.
COOPER: Isha, thanks.
Coming up, Rush Limbaugh attacks me for going to the gym. "The RidicuList" is next.
COOPER: Time now for "The RidicuList." And tonight, we are adding -- I don't know if you heard of this person before -- Rush Limbaugh.
Now, Rush Limbaugh is a broadcaster of the highest caliber, known for taking a carefully measured, well-thought-out approach to each topic he tackles. His show is really the last bastion of calm, erudite reasoning, and he clearly has a noble desire to elevate the national discourse to a place of respect, civility, and above all, minding one's own beeswax.
So I was slightly alarmed to find out that he said this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: In prime time, CNN was down to a two-year low. And that's what the silver fox -- Anderson Cooper, is his name. Silver fox. Anderson Cooper.
I swear, that guy is reported more in gossip columns to be at the gym or that bar or restaurant than he is in the studio. I hear more stuff about Anderson Cooper at a bar or in a gym or in a health club than they do about what he's doing in the studio.
And CNN probably thinks that's great. "Yes, that'll help the demo. Anderson out there doing all this stuff. People will be curious and tune in to watch." It isn't working.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, I don't know if you've noticed, but he spoke for quite a while there and didn't call me a slut even one time. Now, I don't have my Rush-to-English dictionary handy, but I'm pretty sure that means we're best friends now.
So he was talking about CNN's ratings and, yes, ratings go up and down. Ratings go up and down. But can we just play that part again where he's supposedly reading about me in all these gossip columns?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LIMBAUGH: I swear, that guy is reported more in gossip columns to be at the gym or that bar or restaurant than he is in the studio.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: So first of all, is there a place called That Bar? I don't even know where that is.
But look, I have no control over what some gossip columnists write about me, but I can tell you that I count on one hand the number of bars I've been to the last year.
I think Rush Limbaugh is very talented at what he does. I've never tried to pick a fight with this guy. I really have no interest in doing that now.
But because I'm sure Mr. Limbaugh cares about accuracy, I just want to point out to him I have three jobs. And those jobs, they do kind of keep me busy. I work some long hours. I'm not complaining; I love it. But the idea that I'm hanging out in bars and health clubs is sadly not true. I actually eat breakfast, lunch and dinner in my office.
The funny thing is I had no idea that Rush Limbaugh was such an avid gossip enthusiastic. Now, I don't believe what I read in gossip pages. Apparently, Mr. Limbaugh does. I've heard an awful lot about him over the years. But I have no idea what's true and what's not, and I wouldn't spread gossip on my show about him.
Clearly, Mr. Limbaugh loves him some gossip columns. Who knew?
I will grant the following point, though, and I agree that this is some fantastically juicy gossip, so listen close. Stop the presses. I do go to the gym.
I'm concerned about heart disease. I've raised money to fight heart disease. My dad died of it. And, yes, I try to take care of myself.
Mr. Limbaugh, I can only hope that you are taking care of yourself, as well. You should try the gym from time to time. It really is something that you can incorporate into your life pretty seamlessly. You don't have to forego other interests, for instance. As a matter of fact, most gyms now have TVs. You can prop up reading material on the cardio equipment so you put like, I don't know, "The National Enquirer" right there on the elliptical, crank up the volume on "Access Hollywood," and get your research done at the same time you're improving your big heart.
Hey, that's it for us. Thanks for watching.
"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts now.