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Fast and Furious Missteps; Interview With Utah Congressman Jason Chaffetz; Disastrous Foreign Trip for Romney?; The Battle for Aleppo; Colorado Shooting Victim Defies Odds

Aired July 31, 2012 - 22:00   ET


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

And we begin "Keeping Them Honest" with the people who are supposed to be keeping firearms out of the hands of criminals. We're talking about the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, the ATF.

Well, tonight, we're getting our first look at a report that says that several people from top to bottom at ATF failed to do their jobs in connection with the operation called Fast and Furious. That's the bottom line of a report by House and Senate Republicans. It contains new allegations as well that we will talk about. We have obtained a copy of it.

The bottom line -- and I quote -- "From the outset, the case was marred by missteps, poor judgments and an inherently reckless strategy."

That strategy, a new one, according to the report, was to go beyond simply seizing firearms purchased from Mexican drug cartels by so- called straw buyers throughout the Southwest. Instead, says the report, Fast and Furious was part of a plan to let those buyers and the guns walk, in hopes of identifying and busting entire gunrunning networks.

Instead, Fast and Furious guns began turning up at crime scenes in Mexico and here at home, including the killing of U.S. border agent Brian Terry in 2010 right before Christmas. According to the report, Agent Terry's death came at the end of a long chain of mistakes starting at gun shops.

Quoting now from the report, "The gun dealers were reassured that ATF was closely monitoring the transactions and interdicting the weapons. That was false." The report focuses sharply on this man, William Newell, former special agent in charge of the ATF's field office in Phoenix.

Republican investigators concluding that Agent Newell authorized and encouraged and endorsed Fast and Furious and let it continue long after ATF had the goods on the straw buyers. Quoting again from their report, "Bill Newell had the ability and the duty to end Operation Fast and Furious much sooner than it did." Instead, the report states, it ended as a reaction to a foreseeable tragedy. The report alleges that Agent Newell, despite prior warnings during the Bush administration about pushing the envelope, reverted in the words of the report to the use of risky gun-walking tactics. His boss, William McMahon, also comes in for congressional criticism. The report stating in McMahon's view, it was not his job to ask any questions about what was going on in the field.

His supervisor, Mark Chait, is slammed for playing -- quote -- "a surprisingly passive role" -- unquote -- and failing to provide oversight. And his boss, Deputy ATF Director William Hoover, is accused of dereliction of duty in the report because he ordered that Fast and Furious be shut down, but did not follow through.

Finally, the report blames then acting ATF Director Kenneth Melson for staying above the fray, instead of ending Fast and Furious sooner. Brian Terry's family certainly wishes he would have. I spoke recently with his cousin, Robert Heyer.


ROBERT HEYER, COUSIN OF MURDERED U.S. BORDER PATROL AGENT: This is about right and wrong. Operation Fast and Furious, everybody concurs, was a flawed operation in concept and execution. It was wrong.

It was a huge public safety concern and it remains a huge public safety concern. And just as Josephine said, our worst fear is to open up the paper or to read a news story where another Border Patrol agent has been killed or injured with an Operation Fast and Furious weapon.


COOPER: In addition to Brian Terry, two Fast and Furious guns were found at a crime scene in Mexico where a law enforcement official's brother was killed.

The congressional report alleges the ATF Phoenix office sought to hush up the Fast and Furious connection, cites e-mails from Agent Tonya English to Agent Hope MacAllister and their boss, David Voth -- quote -- "My thought," Agent English writes, "is not to release any information."

The following month when Brian Terry was killed, Voth e-mailed back: "Ugh, things will most likely get ugly." And it certainly has. Republicans have accused the Justice Department of stonewalling. Attorney General Holder has refused to turn over documents. The House cited him for contempt. William Newell denies there ever was a plan or tactic to walk guns. And a recent investigation by "Fortune" magazine concurs.

That report, though, is sharply disputed. As for today's report? Well, the Justice Department calls it a reiteration of distortions and debunked conspiracy theories that its co-author, Congressman Darrell Issa, has been advancing for the last year-and-a-half.

Joining us now, a member of Congressman Issa's House Oversight Committee, Utah Republican Jason Chaffetz. Congressman, thanks for being with us.

The five individuals this report claims are primarily responsible for the failures of "Fast and Furious." Was it more their actions and choices that led to the failures of the program, or a larger systematic problem within the ATF and the Department of Justice.

REP. JASON CHAFFETZ (R), UTAH: I think it's a larger, more systemic problem because part of what the report cites is the lack of communication between ATF, the DEA, the FBI and certainly the Department of Justice and also Homeland Security, because ICE was also heavily involved in this. So -- what we're doing is, this is the report, first report out of three. We're also looking at the Department of justice and how they acted and then certainly the cover- up that after we got this bogus letter of February 4, 2011 from the Department of Justice. So --


COOPER: The -- yes. But investigators are saying right now the investigation in this report is based on what they say this is the best information available as of now. Do you anticipate you'll ever know the full details of this operation?

CHAFFETZ: Well, remember, that the House held Attorney General Holder, the Department of Justice, in contempt. It wasn't about him personally.

It was the fact that there were 140,000 documents. We've received less than 7,000 of those documents. So we're here to not only investigate what happened in this botched plan but also to make sure that it never, ever happens again. And that's what we're trying to get to the bottom of, Anderson. That's why we issued this report.

COOPER: I want to read what the Justice Department said. They responded earlier this afternoon through their spokesperson, saying the report finally acknowledges what Attorney General Eric Holder has been saying, that flaws in the operations had their origins in the field in Arizona and occurred in part due to weak oversight by ATF leadership.

They went on to say that the report, and I quote, "Reiterates many of the distortions and now debunked conspiracy theories that Representative Issa has been advancing for year and a half including the fiction that the flawed tactics used in "Fast and Furious" were somehow the brainchild of the current administration as opposed to the reality that the pattern of flawed tactics dates back to 2006 and the prior administration."

Your response?

CHAFFETZ: Well, just because the Bush administration did it and did it poorly doesn't mean they have an excuse to continue to do it. That's part of our point here is, look, we've always wanted to get to the bottom of this no matter where it leads. Since -- so I think Chairman Issa has been doing a fabulous job in putting this together it. The department of justice, though, their fingerprints s are on this.

I mean one of the things that brother me personally is you have the acting director of the ATF, Kenneth Melson, in almost 2 1/2 years that he was there, he met with his boss, the attorney general, Attorney General Holder, one time. And so you look at this lack of leadership, this coordination, and it's above and beyond. Certainly there were flaws within the ATF. But you've got to look also at the Department of Justice and the interagency interactions or the lack of interaction that led to this flawed program.

COOPER: It is confusing, though, because in "Fortune" magazine last month, they reported that there was no top-down system wide directive to allow guns to walk across the border. That There was a dysfunctional work relationship at the ATF Arizona office and that Agent Dodson, the main whistle-blower in all this, is the only person who allowed guns to walk. How does that square with your understanding of what happened, the facts included in the report?

CHAFFETZ: No, listen, thank goodness that we had good front line people at the ATF actually be whistle-blowers and bring this all to our attention.

And what really created even more of a firestorm is when in February 4, 2011, the Department of Justice sent Congress, to specifically Senator Grassley, a letter denying that any of this is happening. And we knew because 10 months later they came back and had to deny that. And that's in part why you had this firestorm.

So there are a lot of dirty hands in this and it goes above and beyond just the ATF. But there's some fundamentally flawed actions here. But you can't ignore the senior people at the Department of Justice. People that were signing off, for instance, on wiretaps and other types of things. They clearly had to know or should have known that this was happening.

COOPER: Your report does, though, seem to support at least part of that fortune article. That the ATF felt hamstrung by prosecutors in Arizona in efforts to see criminal charges for illegal gun sales.

CHAFFETZ: Hey, look everybody wanted to go get the drug cartels. The problem is, they put this ridiculous plan together. Something was fundamentally flawed from the beginning. I mean just look at it on the surface. We knowingly gave the drug cartels nearly 2,000 weapons. Mostly AK-47s. And there didn't seem to be an adult in the room that said, do we really do that? Maybe this is a bad idea.

And it's just stunning that this is continued to allow to go on for so long with so many weapons, Anderson, that's what's so concerning.

COOPER: Yes. Representative, I appreciate you being on. Thank you so much.

CHAFFETZ: Hey, thanks, Anderson.

COOPER: Let us know what you think about this whole operation. We're on Facebook, obviously. follow me on Twitter right now @AndersonCooper.

"Raw Politics" ahead. Mitt Romney is back from his trip overseas. And those his supporters are hitting the highlights, what began with a gaffe ended with a verbal volcano.



QUESTION: We haven't had another chance to ask him questions.




COOPER: "Raw Politics" now.

And say you're a presidential candidate's press handler. Say your guy's been having a bad string of headlines on the road overseas. What's the last thing you do?

Well, take a look.


QUESTION: Governor Romney.

QUESTION: Governor Romney, can you discuss some of the mishaps on your trip?

QUESTION: Governor Romney, do you have a statement for the Palestinians?

QUESTION: What about your gaffes?

QUESTION: Governor Romney, do you feel that your gaffes have overshadowed your foreign trip?

GORKA: This is a holy site for the Polish people. Show some respect.

QUESTION: Governor Romney, just a few questions, sir.

GORKA: Show some respect, Jim.

QUESTION: We haven't had another chance to ask some questions.

GORKA: Kiss my (EXPLETIVE DELETED). This is a holy site for the Polish people. Show some respect.


COOPER: All right, that was the voice of the Romney press secretary, Rick Gorka, there managing to get the kissing part and the "show some respect" part into the same breath. Points to for he apologized afterwards. Now, you can certainly argue that shouting questions after a wreath laying at Warsaw's Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is less than dignified. You could also argue it's practically the only chance anyone's had anywhere during Mr. Romney's overseas trip or anything resembling a news conference.

But that's the way that Team Romney is having it and let's be honest here, they're hardly the first campaign from either party to avoid encounters with reporters.

CNN's Jim Acosta is traveling with Governor Romney who is now back on American soil. I spoke to him a short time ago.


COOPER: So, Jim, it's pretty unusual to have a press aide lash out like that at reporters. Walk us through exactly what happened?

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, we were watching Mitt Romney pay his tributes to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier here in Warsaw and watched him basically walk away from that site. Talking with the mayor of Warsaw. He was spending a few moments with her. And then moving towards his vehicle. And then at that point, we tried to -- you know, to the best of our ability, ask the candidate some questions.

He did not answer any questions. But his press aide did walk over and lash out at us, as you said. But basically, Anderson, these were sort of the general garden variety questions that you hear out on the campaign trail. Shouted questions happen back in the states and they happen out on this overseas trips.

There were some frustrations, I think, that might have led up to this. The Romney campaign was starting to gripe about the fact that the reporters in -- in their mind were starting to focus on some of these gaffes out here on this trip instead of what they thought was the substance of this trip.

COOPER: Well, I mean, I guess that gets to the larger point. Is this just -- you know, look, it's a grueling schedule. These folks are under a lot of pressure. Is this just a one-off, you know, a tired overworked campaign aide? Or is this something that -- is something else going on here? Is this something larger?

ACOSTA: You know, this stuff happens out on the campaign trail. As you know, Anderson, you're out with us from time to time. You know, candidates sometimes say things. You'll remember back in the 2000 campaign, President George W. Bush referred to a "New York Times" reporter as a major league A-hole. Over in the 2004 campaign, Teresa Heinz Kerry told a reporter to shove it.

So these sorts of things flare up from time to time. Nobody walked away with any hard feelings. We're big boys and girls. We can take it.

COOPER: Governor Romney has been criticized for being inaccessible to reporters. Is that really fair, though? I mean how much different than other presidential candidates is he in that regard? You traveled with candidate Obama, John Kerry. Were they really that much more accessible than Romney?

ACOSTA: No. This is -- this is the way campaigns are done now. The reporters are kept off to the side. Cordoned off from the public in many cases. And whether it's President Obama or John Kerry back in 2004, Mitt Romney in 2012, I mean what the public needs to know is that they almost have greater access to the candidates at some of these events than the reporters do. You'll notice, Anderson, when these campaign speeches wrap up, the music starts playing really loudly across an event site. In part, that is to keep everybody in the campaign spirit. But it's also to drown out our questions -- Anderson.

COOPER: All right. Jim Acosta, appreciate it. Jim, thanks.

Let's bring in the best political couple on television right now. Democrat James Carville, Republican Mary Matalin.

James, did Mitt Romney gain anything out of this foreign trip?


It wasn't a very good trip for him. And I think the frustration of the press guy in Poland -- that happened. I mean I have been in presidential campaigns before. Airplane hangar in New Hampshire in 1992. I just went berserk because we didn't have a good week. And when you don't have a good week, the candidate's unhappy and the press guy gets unhappy. And you scream at reporters. That's the nature of the beast. It's a long time between now and November.

COOPER: Mary, do you think Mitt Romney got anything out of this foreign trip?

MARY MATALIN, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Yes, I absolutely do. Because the speeches were great. The images were great. People are watching the Olympics but to the extent they're paying attention to his trip, the voters that matter, that are undecided, and there are only a handful, saw him standing with Lech Walesa, saw him standing with Bibi Netanyahu, saw him at the Western Wall.

Had a lot of very powerful images, and he always s-- he looks very presidential.

And an aide yelling at the press -- I'm sorry to have to say, I'm embarrassed to say, is not unusual. We both have been guilty of it. Both have almost been fired on multiple occasions. It just what happens. What's different now is there's video cameras on or cell phones on all the time.

COOPER: But Mary, what about --

MATALIN: We have video --

COOPER: There was a lot of coverage of gaffes that he made or criticisms by the British people about things he said about the Olympics. You know, there was controversy about things, about the Palestinians. You don't think that registers?

MATALIN: What he said about the Olympics was a mild version of what the headlines have been screaming. That the security was in shambles. He said it was disconcerting. I guess he spoke the truth, made us better. Ahmadinejad is complaining about his saying Israel has the right to defend itself. The Labor Party in London. So if you take the critics, I think he -- I'm going to say, again, I think it was fine. But my larger point is this.

Of the things that are relevant in the rhythm of the campaign with fewer than 100 days to go, the next pivot point, which they've lined up today and they've announced their campaign schedule to go to these swing states, announce his vice president, have a solid convention and keep doing what he's doing. This is not going to move the needle one way or the other.

COOPER: Well, James, with 100 days to go, did it make sense for him to go overseas?

CARVILLE: No. I don't think it'll do the trick. The visuals are good, he just opened his mouth. If they can figure out a way to take pictures and get him to shut up, he'd have a successful trip, but it doesn't work like that.

And Mitt Romney is a man who is convinced that the world and the country wants to know his opinion on every single thing. And you know, that's the commentators on cable television. That's not for presidential candidates. So he's got to learn to understand that there's some glory in an unspoken thought. And that would help him a lot.

COOPER: Were you two watching different TVs in your home? I mean, because you're both -- your perceptions of what occurred overseas are so completely radically different.

MATALIN: We only watch TV together when we're watching you, Anderson. Otherwise, we don't even sit together in a political conversation.

CARVILLE: The visuals were good. It's just -- if he can do it without talking. We agree on half of it. He had good visuals.

MATALIN: And James should know, he's a great visual until he opens his mouth. But he knows of what he speaks.

COOPER: Mary, did it -- did it take away from his economic argument? I mean was it -- you're saying it was important because he looks somehow presidential overseas?

MATALIN: I'm not saying that what he says matters.

And when he was in Poland talking about subsidiarity and solidarity and the real hope and change did take place with the free economy in Poland. And when -- when all the dust settles on the silly season stuff and people read the -- and critics honestly give a rigorous reading of the speeches that he gave, he gave a very powerful, very powerful remarks in Israel and in Poland.

Those are very important. I'm not just saying it's perception, it's reality. It's just images. I'm saying that to the extend the electorate, those who are undecided, are paying attention at this point in time, they're seeing these great images. Their speeches were solid as well. They will over time play out.

And you cannot -- it doesn't matter what he says. When the growth and numbers we got last week were 1. 5 percent. This economy gets worse and worse. And Obama does worse and worse. So this is a mandatory part for Romney to do what he did and he did a fine job.

COOPER: James, I want --


CARVILLE: Running for president is like flying an airplane. If you do 99 smart things and one stupid thing, it's the one stupid thing people remember. It's just the way it works. It's always been that way.

COOPER: I want to ask you about something, James, that Harry Reid said today. He's claiming a Bain investor whose identity he would not reveal, told him Romney didn't pay any taxes at all for a decade. To publicly make that claim based on a single anonymous source, I mean is the majority leader out of line there?

CARVILLE: I don't know.

But I think, look, there an op-ed piece by former tax policy, deputy secretary of treasury in "The New York Times" today, speculating all over the place that Romney used these offshore accounts in Bahamas or Switzerland or where it is to avoid paying several taxes on his -- on some of his retirement accounts, the kids' accounts or something like that.

Look, there's a way that Romney can show that Harry Reid is not telling the truth. Release the returns. You released them for John McCain. Can't see him why can't the American people see them?


MATALIN: Anderson, the -- it's one thing for a campaign hack to call ridiculously call the nominee for the Republican ticket a felon. It's quite another for the sitting Senate majority leader. Romney has put out his taxes. The years that he put it out for, he paid $6 million in taxes and he made $7 million in charitable contributions. If he puts out, as Cheney said, somewhere today, he put out two, they want four. You put out four, they want six.

This is a distraction. People do not care what Romney's doing with his money. He paid every legal tax. They care what Obama's doing with their money. And that's what this campaign is going to be about.

COOPER: James, do you think that this -- keeping mentioning this drumbeat by reporters and others on the taxes, do you think it is having an impact?

CARVILLE: Sure. It's already had one. I mean, and again, you've got a -- you've got a Republican expert, tax expert, speculating. When people don't know, they speculate. You know, you want to run for president, you got to do some things. And Romney wants everything on his terms. He wants to pontificate and render his opinion on everything in the world. But yet he says he doesn't want to do this.

Well, he should have known this before he ran. What did he think -- what did he think he was going to do? He goes over to Britain. He says something stupid. He can't just whack for it. The same thing. Makes some insensitive remark in the Middle East. You know, 20 percent of the people who live in Israel are Palestinian. He insulted a good 20 percent of the population there. And he wants to get mad at reporters for it. And he's got to, like, game up here. He's playing in the bigs here.

MATALIN: Can we just clarify that Mitt Romney said nothing to the reporters. An aide said something to the reporters. And I think that the media's held in lower esteem than the Congress. If you want that Jim Acosta set up, now which I have now seen four times, I don't know who the reporter was. It was unfortunate. Her juxtaposition with the microphone. That looked like screeching.

And he looked presidential, getting in the car, the aide looked calm and said what he said. That is not going to affect one person's vote. And I think a lot of Americans agree that the media does not cover -- and demonstrated on this by not covering his speeches and covering these whatever, these meaningless kind of saying security is disconcerting which it is. He spoke the truth everywhere he went.

CARVILLE: People shouldn't vote for the media. But they probably wouldn't if they had a chance to anyway.


COOPER: We'll leave it there. James Carville, Mary Matalin, I thank you both very much.

There is a lot happening tonight. Bashar al-Assad's forces and opposition fighters remain locked in battle in Syria's biggest city, Aleppo. The question is, will the regime lose its grip on the city?

Our Ivan Watson is on the ground. He joins us ahead.


COOPER: In Syria, a chilling firsthand look inside a prisoner of war camp run by opposition fighters.

Our Ivan Watson talked to some of the prisoners. We'll have more on that in a moment.

At least 49 people were killed across Syria today, according to opposition activists. The so-called Free Syrian Army is also making new claims tonight. This video purportedly shows its fighters attacking a police station in Aleppo. We can't verify the authenticity of the video. The so-called Free Syrian Army says they now control this building.

The video purportedly shows them taking control of the second police station. Again, we can't vouch for this either. The fighters allegedly called Bashar al-Assad's father the dog of the Arab nation.

Now, keep this in mind. Aleppo is Syria' New York, essentially, its biggest city. Until recently, three million people live there. Imagine attack helicopters firing missiles into Manhattan, battles raging in the streets, a mass exodus to escape the bullets and the shells.

We've seen that in Aleppo today.

Ivan Watson joins me.

Ivan, another day in the battle for Aleppo. What's the latest on the ground?

IVAN WATSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We heard the rebels were claiming to have captured one more police station in Aleppo, even as some of the rebel-held neighborhoods like Saluhadin (ph) were continuing to be shelled.

Of course, Syrian state-run TV had a completely contradictory version of the events. It announced that Syrian special forces had, in fact, liberated that police station. But didn't show any pictures to back up those claims.

COOPER: I mean, attacking police stations, military checkpoints. They've even gone after the military airport in Aleppo. Even how outgunned these rebels are, is it possible for them to actually gain control of Aleppo?

WATSON: The battle is still being fought. And they are completely outgunned. And one of these key neighborhoods, Saluhadin (ph), we've heard, is really encircled by the military, and people cannot get in or out of there.

So it is a grinding urban battle right now, with some siege-like conditions as the residents come out, saying that there's no electricity, there's no more bread, no water. And of course they're getting shelled and bombed from the sky and from artillery, as well.

But the rebels do seem to have courage and -- and fierce determination on their side. Perhaps something that may be lacking on the side of the military, which has seen massive defections over the course of the past 17 months.

COOPER: You've talked about the opposition being much more organized, even in the last couple of months. Do we know what kind of support they're getting from outside players, be it weapons, communications equipment, even advice on strategy?

WATSON: I've definitely seen boxes of ammunition that have come across the border from Turkey. And they're recently painted. They do not have distinguishable markings to identify where they would be from.

The ammunition that I've seen has been almost exclusively light weapon ammunition. Some mortar rounds. And a lot of RPG rounds, those cone- shaped RPGs, which have proven very effective at taking out Syrian government armored vehicles.

Beyond that, I have not seen heavier weaponry. One rebel commander said that he'd been given some kind of surface-to-air missile, but just one round of that missile. And as one rebel put it, "They're giving us just enough to keep this revolution alive. But not enough to give us a decisive victory."

COOPER: You gained access to a rebel prison where they're keeping Syrian government forces, prisoners, as well as members of the Shabiha (ph), this militia that's work with the regime. One alleged Shabiha (ph) member who had actually tattoos of the regime -- top regime leaders on his chest, it seemed like somebody had cut deep grooves over those pictures. Essentially what looked like some form of torture. How were these people being treated?

WATSON: In his case, the prison warden claims that the man had confessed to committing crimes and that he wanted to donate blood to the rebels. And thus, he cut himself to donate that blood. It's a pretty unbelievable explanation for how this man -- how his torso had been cut up that way.

The captors claimed that they treat their prisoners better than the Syrian government treats captives in government-run institutions. But I saw several men who had been beaten apparently in the eye so much that they could barely see through, these puffy, purple eyes.

And they brought out another guy to talk to me who was shaking, trembling, he was so afraid, as he spoke to me. And we heard him, as one of the captors suggested, "Hey, maybe he can lift his shirt to show he doesn't have any signs."

Well, then the guy whispered, the prisoner to the captor, "No, I do have marks." So there was ample evidence to suggest some of these prisoners had been subjected to abuse after they had been captured by the rebels.

COOPER: Ivan Watson, appreciate the reporting. Stay safe.


COOPER: Let's take a look at some of the other stories we're following. Isha's here with a "360 Bulletin" -- Isha.

ISHA SESAY, CNNI ANCHOR: Anderson, congressional leaders have reached a deal that will keep the government from shutting down before the upcoming presidential election. They announced a deal today on a bill to fund the federal government through March. The White House calls the agreement a welcome development. A United Airlines jet has dents and a gaping hole in it after an apparent collision with birds while the plane was landing in Denver. The plane was able to land safely and there were no injuries.

New Orleans police have issued an arrest warrant for Cuba Gooding Junior. The actor could face a misdemeanor battery charge. He's accused of pushing a female bartender in the city's famed French Quarter.

And swimmer Michael Phelps has broken the record for the most medals won at the Olympics. He has 19: 15 gold, 2 silver and 2 bronze -- Anderson.

COOPER: There's a lot more happening tonight, including an update on one of the Colorado shooting victims. She's 22 year old -- 22 years old. Her name is Petra Anderson. She's still in the hospital and is still beating the odds, leaving her doctors really amazed. Music is playing a role in her recovery. We're going to talk to Dr. Sanjay Gupta about how it can help with brain injuries and what's happening with her right now.


COOPER: Welcome back. A record drug bust. That's not the half of it. Wait till you see where the stuff was hidden, when we come back. We'll be right back.


COOPER: Tonight, a "360 Follow" about Petra Anderson, one of the Aurora (AUDIO GAP) -- tonight. To many people, that might not seem like something to celebrate, but 12 people were killed in the massacre, which gives some perspective. Petra easily could have died instantly. She took a gunshot to the brain.

In the days after the massacre, there was talk that an unusual brain malformation possibly allowed her to survive such an injury. Well, tonight there's no more talk of a malformation. Instead, Petra's doctors are crediting her survival to something equally inexplicable. Call it luck, a miracle, beating the odds. Call it what you will. It's the reason that Petra's on the road to recovery tonight. That's not the whole story or the only challenge ahead for her. Here's David Mattingly.


DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Hit by a shotgun blast, one pellet going through her brain. Petra Anderson is already walking, telling jokes and talking of going to grad school for a degree in music in the fall. Amazing. When even her doctor says it's a miracle she's alive.

Her family's expectations for recovery are high.

KIM ANDERSON, PETRA ANDERSON'S MOTHER: A hundred percent. I mean, honestly, 100 percent. She's just -- she's so amazing. She's so determined.

MATTINGLY: And that determination appears natural to a family that seemed to be faced with an impossible choice. This video appeared online less than two days after the Aurora, Colorado, shooting.

CHLOE ANDERSON, SISTER: My sister's hospital bills on top of that are making the financial reality look pretty daunting.

MATTINGLY: While the country was still in shock, Petra's sister, Chloe, launched a fundraising campaign and revealed her family's heartbreaking dilemma.

C. ANDERSON: So that's why we're reaching out to you, the people that have already asked us what you can do to help. So that we don't have to choose between my sister's care and my mother's treatment.

MATTINGLY: Petra's mother, Kim Anderson, was due to undergo expensive experimental treatment in hopes of stopping the cancer that has spread throughout her body. Giving into the cancer and devoting the time and the money she had left to Petra seemed the obvious choice.

K. ANDERSON: I was just thinking about -- how can I help Petra the most? What can I do that would help her the most?

MATTINGLY: But Petra wouldn't allow it. Luck was already on their side. The pellet that entered her brain crossed the part controlling speech, language and memory. Her doctors said, had the pellet wavered a millimeter in any direction, she would have likely died. Petra beat some astronomical , and she wanted her mother to do the same.

C. ANDERSON: And what happens happens. But...


C. ANDERSON: ... she needs her mom to be fighting so that she can fight. And I think you need her to be fighting so that you can fight. So...

K. ANDERSON: Yes, I do.

C. ANDERSON: So they're in this together, and they're going to pull each other through.

MATTINGLY: Petra's fight will be to return to her music: to start composing, and to pick up her violin, which has been silent since the shooting. Her therapy of choice has been to listen as her boyfriend plays his clarinet. Private concerts in her room keep her focused on healing.

C. ANDERSON: Her mind is the thing that she just loves to use. And it's slower, you know, and I know that's going to be really hard. It will be harder for her than if she had to learn to walk again.

MATTINGLY: Her mom's hardships would seem to compound the family stress. Instead, they see it as a challenge. K. ANDERSON: You can give the evil the last word. And the setbacks and the disasters. You can let them destroy you. Or you can take it back.

MATTINGLY: So Petra Anderson's family made a statement of defiance heard around the world.

C. ANDERSON: Thank you for standing with us and letting this joker know that he may have intended it as his story, but we're taking it back. Are you ready to believe?

MATTINGLY: And at a time of so much sadness, the answer to that question was a resounding yes. Thousands of people responded to the Andersons' call for action. They set a lofty goal of raising a quarter of a million dollars, enough to pay for their medical expenses, with enough left over for a sizable contribution to the families of other victims.

The response has been almost as surprising as Petra herself.

C. ANDERSON: She's inspired a lot of people in the last couple of weeks. Or couple days. I guess it's only been one week. She's inspired a lot of people in the last week.

MATTINGLY: And inspiration brings hope. Hope that Petra will one day soon pick up her violin and begin playing. And hope that her mother will now beat the odds, as well.

David Mattingly, CNN, Aurora, Colorado.


COOPER: We certainly wish Petra and her mother the best as they face the challenges ahead.

Joining me is CNN chief medical correspondent and practicing neurosurgeon, Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

So Sanjay, her doctor says it's amazing that she's even alive. Where exactly did the bullet enter her brain, and how did they get it out?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it is pretty remarkable. Let me show you if I can quickly. I brought a model of the skull here, Anderson. I don't know how well you can appreciate this.

But what they described first of all is a shotgun blast. But one particular pellet they talked about actually coming in through sort of the left side her nose into an area. You have some sinuses sort of in that area just above where the bullet would have the entered. And then it sort of passed all the way through the brain, sort of on the left side of the brain, and ended up in the back of the head somewhere over here.

So what's so remarkable is you have many blood vessels. You have obviously parts of the brain that control speech, control motor strength. It's unclear to us still exactly how much of that's going to be affected. But, you know, this was a -- it's really thread the needle here, so to speak, in terms of causing possible damage to some vital structures.

COOPER: You're talking about, I mean, a millimeter either way could be devastating.

GUPTA: Yes. So you know, when you think about these types of injuries, you think about a bullet going through the brain. And what you have to remember is that oftentimes ahead of the bullet you have sort of a blast wave. You may have heard this described, Anderson, when you've been covering wars. That blast wave sort of precedes the actual projectile. So in a way, it's sort of moving things out of the way as a result of that.

But, still, the bullet, if it had gone through a particular blood vessel there, and there are several that are large, that would have been a catastrophic injury. If it had been lower within the brain, it could have injured the brain stem. And that's a part of the brain that's responsible for one's ability to breathe on their own, control their heart rate. So that would have been devastating, as well.

COOPER: It's so incredible. Her mom says she's listening to classical music as part of her recovery. We've seen a lot of other cases -- Gabby Giffords comes to mind-- where music seems to aid a person's recovery. How does that work? How -- does it actually help heal the brain?

GUPTA: I find this really fascinating. And I think it does. And actually, I learned a little bit there as we were reporting on Gabby Giffords, because I spent time with the therapists who were treating her.

Music is one of the few things, Anderson, if you think about trying to sing a song, for example. There's several different parts of your brain that are immediately sort of harnessed. Just remembering the words, for example. Your speech. Your ability to say those words. That's the expression of that speech. Your ability to actually, now, carry a tune. That causes the sort of activity to cross over from the left side of the brain to the right side of the brain. To remember that tune and carry that tune. So music can be a remarkable thing.

Also, someone who is just learning to walk. If you find a song that has a particular cadence to it. I was doing "the saints come marching in" with this particular physical therapist. You can learn to sort of re-establish your rhythm. Standing up out of a chair or taking a few steps. So it can be quite remarkable in situations like this.

COOPER: That's so cool. Sanjay, thanks.

GUPTA: Thank you.

COOPER: We'll continue to follow her recovery and the recovery of other survivors, as well.

Ahead tonight, the world's largest blackout: 600 million people -- imagine that -- powerless and dealing with extreme heat, transportation shutdowns. We'll tell you where it's happening and cause when we continue.


COOPER: "The RidicuList" coming up. But first, Isha's here with a "360 Bulletin."

SESAY: Anderson, for a second time in two days, a large part of India suffered a massive power outage. This time 650 million people were affected, half the country's population. That's double the amount from Monday's blackout. Once again, thousands were stranded at train stations like this one. The problem: supply can't keep up with demand.

Australian police have seized more than half a billion dollars' worth of heroin and meth. The record haul was hidden in 100 terra cotta pots found in a shipment of 3,200 pots. The suspects are in custody.

And Anderson, supporters of California's Proposition 8 banning same- sex marriage in the state are asking the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn a lower court's ruling that found it unconstitutional. In the next few weeks, the justices are expected to decide whether to put the case on their docket. We will be watching closely.

COOPER: All right, Isha. Time for "The Shot." Tonight, a video of a prank that a husband played on his sleeping wife in the car. Take a look.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So there's a truck getting towed. And it looks like it's coming at us. And my wife's asleep so we're going to see if we can scare her.

Wake up, there's a truck coming!



COOPER: That's not funny. That's mean.

SESAY: It's kind of funny. A little bit funny.

COOPER: Man, that's terrible.



SESAY: Yes. Well, in the car, you shouldn't fall asleep.

COOPER: Jeanne Moos actually talked to the couple, I understand, after the video went viral. The woman said she made her husband sleep on the couch that night, didn't stay mad at him. Apparently, he plays pranks on her all the time. I hate pranks. Hate pranks.

SESAY: Just prepare yourself for when we go on our road trip.

COOPER: All right. I'll look forward to that. newIsha, thanks.

Coming up, what you see is not necessarily what you get at Newark Airport these days. Say hello to the customer service lady who's kind of a hologram, I guess. "The RidicuList" is next.


COOPER: Time now for "The RidicuList." And tonight we're adding all human, breathing real live people, because we are one step closer to obsolescence.

Ladies and gentlemen, meet Libby. She's a computerized hologram-like avatar that has just been installed at the Newark Airport. A virtual customer care representative who's there to answer all your questions and possibly creep you out upon your arrival.


LIBBY, HOLOGRAM: And welcome to Newark Liberty International Airport in Newark, New Jersey. If you wish to use a taxi, please see the Uniformed Taxi Dispenser outside door No. 8.


COOPER: She never stops smiling. Computer generated or not, I wonder how many minutes went by before someone tried to touch her inappropriately.

So here are a few of these hologram-y customer service reps that are starting to go up at airports. Their obvious benefit over sentient beings is that they don't take breaks, and they're always smiling.

Sure, it seems all cutting edge and innovative now, but just wait until that thing goes all HAL 9000 on everyone in Newark, sending everyone running for cover at the Cinnabon.

Either that or the artificial intelligence will kick in. She'll learn how to love and run away with an ATM, or a body scanner or something like that. Just ask the travelers at Newark who've seen her. They know there's just something a little off.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's a little bit freaky when you walk down there, because I think her body looks like it's not real but her head does.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think it's scary. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Its eyes follow you. I talk to her. I don't know. What she mean.


COOPER: He has no idea what's going on.

The point is we have to be very, very careful with this kind of hologram technology. We don't want it to fall into the wrong hands.


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: I want you to watch what we're about to do, because you've never seen anything like this on television.


BLITZER: A big round of applause. We did it.


COOPER: Yes. We did it indeed. That was big. That was election night 2008. Who can forget. I'm just glad I wasn't part of that.


COOPER: We're joined now via hologram with -- by, who is live in Grant Park. Let's see if we can beam him in now. There we go.


COOPER: Yes, still have no idea what it's all about. We've taken some ribbing over that one. I think Jimmy Kimmel summed it up pretty well at the White House Correspondents' Dinner this year.


JIMMY KIMMEL, LATE NIGHT HOST: Every election year CNN comes up with new and increasing amazing technology. They had the Magic Wall this year, they had the hologram four years ago. And yet, with all their technical wizardry, they still haven't figured out a way to make James Carville look less like a hairless boiled cat.


COOPER: I, for one, think they should make all the virtual customer service people at the airport look like James Carville. How much fun would that be? How much fun would it be to have computer-generated avatars of the Ragin' Cajun himself, telling you how to get to the Chili's in Terminal b? Now, that's what I call an idea that could really take off, at least on "The RidicuList."

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