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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES

Las Vegas Shooting Rampage; Shooting Suspects in a "Revolution" Rampage; Exercise in Empathy; Closed-Door House Meeting on Swap For Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl; House Committee Grills VA Officials Others About Long Waits For Care; Police: Truck Driver Charged in Tracy Morgan Crash Didn't Sleep for 24 Hours Before Accident

Aired June 9, 2014 - 20:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening. We begin tonight with breaking news in the rampage in Las Vegas. Two police officers and one civilian shot death by a husband and wife couple who'd long talked about hating the government, had written about it online, and supported anti-government organizations. Sunday they turned their words into violence before taking their own lives.

Now, ordinarily, particularly in school shootings, we neither show the faces nor show the faces of killers like these, because we think it's more important that history remember the names and lives of the victims and survivors. However, in this case, it's important to focus on the perpetrators. Police are still searching for more information about them and what drove them and may be part of a larger pattern.

With that in mind, the breaking news videotape of the husband at the recent government standoff with rancher Cliven Bundy voicing his views and a warning.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JERAD MILLER, LAS VEGAS RAMPAGE KILLER: I feel sorry for any federal agent that want to come in here and try to push us around or anything like that. I really don't want violence toward them but if they're going to come, bring violence to us, well, if that's the language they want to speak, we'll learn it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Cliven Bundy's son says the couple was actually asked to leave the ranch because of their radical beliefs. Today local authorities revealed minute-by-minute details of the rampage.

Kyung Lah has that and one neighbor's regret that she did not do more.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KELLEY FIELDER, NEIGHBOR: I have five deaths on my shoulders. I should have called the cops.

KYUNG LAH, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: But Kelley Fielder didn't. The couple had been living with her for the last two weeks saying they were preparing for something against the government.

FIELDER: It was Thursday morning and it's 5:45 in the morning. And he said that the revolution had begun. He said, I got to do what I got to do. They had, I mean, a cart full of just ammunition, ammunition, guns, everything.

LAH (on camera): Were they carrying them? Can you describe?

FIELDER: They were carrying them because they said that they were going underground.

LAH (voice-over): Where the couple was going is here. Cici's Pizza. Las Vegas Police Officers Igor Soldo and Alyn Beck were eating lunch.

MILLER: Crawling, groveling on their hands and knees. Give me permission to do this. Give me permission to do that.

LAH: Police say Jerad Miller who ranted on home video about his disgust with the government and his wife Amanda didn't know the officers they targeted. They shot 31-year-old Officer Soldo in the back of the head killing him instantly. Partner Alyn Beck, age 41, was shot in the throat but still managed to fire back before they shot him again. The couple then pulled the officers' bodies out of the booth.

KEVIN MCMAHILL, ASSISTANT SHERIFF, CLARK COUNTY, NEVADA: Where they placed a gas-in flag, which says, "Don't tread on me," yellow flag on the body of Officer Beck. They also threw a swastika on top of his body.

LAH: Kelley Fielder knows exactly what the police are talking about.

FIELDER: He's got the "no tread on me" flags. That's what put on that cop. And, yes, that swastika pins and he said, every -- this is his exact words. Every popo he cleans he's going to put a swastika on him.

LAH: The couple did put a swastika on their victims and pinned a note on Officer Soldo declaring, "This is the beginning of the revolution," before moving to the packed Wal-Mart across the street.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Two people locked in, we're shooting up in the ceiling, and to tell everyone to get out of the store, get out of the store. And we want a war.

LAH: Customer Joseph Wilcox did not run. He was carrying a concealed weapon and heroically confronted the male gunman, but Wilcox did not see the wife and police say she shot and killed him. Police arrived and exchanged gunfire with the couple before the wife wounded shot her husband. Then shot herself.

DREW FLORY, NEIGHBOR: It was pretty much always talking about how much, you know, you know, the government has changed the United States of America.

LAH: Many who live in the same apartment complex heard the radical views shared openly. On social media, they talk about their love for each other and a picture from Facebook shows the couple's affection for the Joker from the "Batman" series. Kelley Fielder says looking back, the red flags are obvious. She wishes she had done something.

FIELDER: I am so, so, so sorry to everybody that -- I'm sorry.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Kyung joins us now from Las Vegas. So the fact that she witnessed what seemed to be a lot of red flags, what's the Las Vegas Police Department saying about that?

LAH: Well, they actually addressed this in their news conference and you could hear how frustrated they were because there were so many red flags and no one said anything. They say they have a campaign, it's called the "See Something, Do Something." They are urging people, wherever you are, if you see something, don't hesitate to call your local police because the citizenry is the best eyes and ears for this, Anderson. It's always 20/20 hindsight, we know, but if you can, try to say something before anything happens -- Anderson.

COOPER: Well, Kyung, it seems like she saw an awful lot that she could have said something.

Kyung, thanks very much.

In addition to hearing what she heard from the Millers, Kelley Fielder also was holding a box of documents for them. Presumably not knowing the contents, suggesting they were planning a larger attack. That's according to local paper "The Las Vegas Review Journal". It's reporting that the documents which the police have confiscated included detailed plans to take over a courthouse and kill public officials.

In a moment, where their goals and views fit into a bigger picture, but first what we're learning about the three lives they took.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're a community in tears here. I will tell you these were wonderful officers.

COOPER (voice-over): A community in tears over the deaths of two of their own. Police officers who were just out to grab some lunch.

Officer Alyn Beck joined the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police in August of 2001. His friends say he was a good person whose goal was to help people.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Alan was a wonderful person. He was the best of people. He was always about service. He was the funnest guy. He was -- you think of some people who are good in eulogy only, and Alyn was the absolute opposite of that. Alyn is easy to eulogize because that's all he was, was good.

COOPER: Officer Beck was married and leaves behind three children. He was just 41 years old.

Alyn's partner, Officer Igor Soldo joined the force in 2006. He attended high school in Lincoln, Nebraska, and previously worked as a corrections officer before joining the force. Described by family as a good father and a great man, Soldo leaves behind a wife and a baby.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Imagine young people and a family finding out your husband and wife has gone off to work and that's it. Fine. Innocent because we have got the sick, sick cowardly people out there that just decide to express themselves all the time with bullets and we see it repeatedly across this country.

COOPER: Joseph Wilcox was shopping at Wal-Mart. Police say he had a concealed weapon and tried to confront one of the gunmen. He was shot and killed. His friend was with him when it happened and says he believed Wilcox prevented the killers from targeting other victims.

JEREMY TANNER, VICTIM'S FRIEND: I wanted to tell him, you know, don't do this. Come with me. But I also felt that he's possibly going to be saving some lives and it all happened so quick. I think before I could get any words out I heard gunshots and I just wanted to get out.

COOPER: Joseph Wilcox was 31.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: We want to dig deeper now into the violent ideology that seems to have fueled the killers and also appears to have motivated the assault last week on a courthouse in Georgia.

Joining us is Mark Potok of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Also Arno Michaelis, a former racist skinhead leader and author of "My Life After Hate."

Mark, let me start with you. You say that in terms of who these people were, what they believe, that their connection to the Bundy ranch is for you the most telling aspect in all of this. Can you explain that?

MARK POTOK, SENIOR FELLOW, SOUTHERN POVERTY LAW CENTER: Yes. I think so. And I say that because the Bundy ranch standoff and its outcome which was that the federal government retreated in the face of armed threats from militia men and the Bundy family and so on was seen as a spectacular victory by literally thousands, probably tens of thousands or even more Americans in the militia movement.

They felt the government had backed down, that they had shown the world who was right in this standoff. And that they had essentially won the first battle in a war. So while I certainly can't prove this definitively, it seems very likely that the Millers felt that the war had begun, the first battle had been a great and successful one. And now was the time to strike.

You know, it really is remarkable that they're now these reports of them talking over a courthouse and so on because we did see that very same situation in Atlanta on Friday of last week when another gunman also from the Patriot Movement apparently tried to do very same thing.

COOPER: Arno, do you agree with what Mark is saying here is that anti-government rhetoric of Bundy and his supporters, what they promoted, was essential -- an essential ingredient in this attack?

ARNO MICHAELIS, FORMER RACIST SKINHEAD: Yes. Absolutely. Basically what we're talking about is the cultivation of fear. You need to have an environment of constant fear to drive people to the point where they commit an atrocity like what happened in Las Vegas or like what happened in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, on August 5th, 2012. If you look at any mass shooting, any kind of violence, this narrative of fear of the government being out to get us, of black people, Jewish people, gay people, it's always this us versus them narrative and it's always rooted in a very deep fear.

COOPER: Mark, I mean, the Bundy family has said that, look, these people were asked to leave the ranch. They're essentially distancing themselves from these people.

POTOK: Well, look, I mean, I'm certainly not trying to say the Bundys have responsibility in this. I don't think that. The Bundys did, however, help to create a situation in which hundreds of armed militiamen felt just fine about training scoped semiautomatic weapons at the heads of law enforcement officials. It was an amazing confrontation and at the end of the day what was it really about? It was not about protecting the Constitution.

As the Bundys claimed it was about protecting Bundy's theft of a million dollars from the American people. So no. You know? I'm not blaming them but the confrontation that they created by calling in the militias, by essentially welcoming people armed to the teeth to confront federal law enforcement agents I think really did create what is seen as a kind of victory on the part of the militia movement and arguably is helping to lead to things like this latest outrage.

COOPER: Mark, obviously, your group tracks these sorts of things. I mean, have you seen a rise in this kind of -- certainly the rhetoric, this kind of attack?

POTOK: We have seen a rise both in this kind of rhetoric and this kind of attack, and in particular, since Barack Obama appeared on the national political scene in the fall of 2008 when, of course, he was running for president. It began almost immediately. Before Obama even left Denver where he was nominated by the Democratic National Convention in August of 2008, there was already a skinhead plot to murder him.

And from that point, they just proliferated. I think Arno is absolutely right about the kind of generation, the production of fear, the Patriot Movement, they're not the only ones. Many of the Tea Parties, the NRA and others just can't stop talking about how they believe that Obama is about to seize the weapons of all Americans. That Obama is about to unconstitutionally somehow seize a third term.

There's really an immense amount of fear-mongering and that kind of propaganda, that kind of talk has real consequences in the real world and I feel that that's what we've just seen in Las Vegas, not to mention Atlanta.

COOPER: So, Arno, how does one combat this? How does one -- I mean, what can be learned from this?

MICHAELIS: Well, essentially, this is absolutely an issue of responsibility and I believe -- I love you, Mark, it's great to be on media with you again. I'm going to disagree with you by saying that Bundy is as responsible for this as we all are responsible for this. We're all responsible for this huge, magnificent echo chamber that we exist in with media and information being so ubiquitous nowadays.

Whatever we put out into that is going to reflect in one way or another. Now if Cliven Bundy or anyone else is constantly saying like Mark pointed out, Obama is coming to take your guns, the government is coming to get you, that contributes to the environment that Jerad and Amanda Miller came from. So it -- they are responsible in that sense and we are all responsible and I find that to be good news because I believe that the best way to counter that kind of fear is to first of all have a deep confidence that this existence we all share as human beings is a basically good experience.

No matter how dismal things may seem, no matter what kind of atrocities happen, human beings are capable of needing compassion and giving compassion to each other. This has been true throughout human history, it's the reason why we're still here. No matter how horrible things have gotten throughout slavery and genocide, there has been an equal if not greater response of compassion so that response is really where the salvation lies.

COOPER: Mark, though, in terms of kind of just logistics, though, without, you know, an online presence to track, how does one go about -- how does the government go about stopping this sort of thing? I mean, because there are a lot of groups out there who are probably watching this and saying look, this is one of those --

(CROSSTALK)

POTOK: Look, I don't think it's easy to stop this.

COOPER: There are a lot of groups out there right now who, you know, conspiracy theorists who probably believe there's some sort of false flag operation. You know, I hear from these looneys all the time.

POTOK: Yes. They're already saying that very thing. That's a false flag operation. Harry Reid carried this out. You know? Harry Reid who, of course, described Cliven Bundy as a domestic terrorist and so on.

Look. I mean I think these things are incredibly difficult to stop. I think as your introductory segment really showed pretty clearly, about the only place this could have been stopped was with the woman who had actually heard them discuss at home their plans. They were going underground and so on. The revolution had started.

You know, I looked at a lot of postings by the Millers and particular Jerad Miller and he did have some cryptic last words on Saturday, the day before the shooting began, but I don't think it's anything that could have tipped law enforcement to -- you know, he said sort of a dawn of a new day. You know, was wondering whether it's going to be worth the sacrifice. But it never gets into any detail and I think the sad reality is there are tens of thousands of people who believe things just like the Millers believed and some percentage of those people are going to act on those beliefs.

I'd like to add one point to what Arno said which I think he made a good point, which is that, you know, it's not only the Bundys or the militia movement. It is the politicians in the ostensible political mainstream who aided and abetted the Bundys and people like them. The governor of Nevada. The congressman who came out and said Bundy's a great guy fighting to defend the Constitution.

That was never true. But these politicians were perfectly willing to pander to the right-wing elements of the base and they were sorry in the end.

COOPER: Mark, I appreciate you being on. Mark Potok and Arno Michaelis, as well, thanks very much.

The killing seems primarily driven by ideology unlike so many others where the shooter has a long history of mental illness. The shooter last week in Seattle says he heard voices in his head, so do many, many others who never hurt anyone including a remarkable researcher clinician who you're going to meet after the break. She's been living with the voices for much of her life with schizophrenia and she had designed an exercise in empathy which I recently tried.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Just go here.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: The challenge then 45 minutes trying to think, talk and deal with others while hearing voices in your head. The results of my interview with a woman who created the test is next.

A quick reminder. Make sure you set your DVR so you can watch 360 whenever you'd like.

Later, more breaking news on Bowe Bergdahl. What we're learning from a closed door briefing just wrapping up on the capitol.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: This next story, a really eye-opening experience for me was motivated by yet another shooting, the one last week at Seattle Pacific University. Unlike this latest one in Las Vegas, the Seattle incident doesn't appear to have been politically motivated. Instead like so many other mass shootings, there's a mental health component to it.

Court records show the alleged gunman was battling psychiatric issues and says he heard the voice of one of the Columbine killers in his head. A number of mental illnesses including schizophrenia can cause auditory hallucinations. It's important to know that only a small number of people who hear voices do any kind of violent activity.

Pat Deegan, who you're going to meet in a moment, is a clinical psychologist, an innovator in the field of behavioral health recovery. She also happens to have been diagnosed with schizophrenia. She's designed and experiment to help other people understand what she and others live with every day. For three quarters of an hour, you listen to voices through headphones, while trying to do everything from puzzles to simply interacting with people on the street.

Here's my experience and a warning you might find some of the voices unsettling.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Going to put these earphones in, trying to do a series of tests. OK. So I'm now hearing sort of whispers and voices in my head and the first test is number puzzles.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Listen. You suck and they know it. Can't you get this right?

COOPER: OK. So I did this test for three minutes and I did not get a single one. It's very hard to -- it's hard to concentrate when -- if it's like music or something constant, it's easy but people talking to you is very difficult. So now I'm going to be asked a series of questions by our producer Susan and these are basically a series of questions that a person would be asked and they were being admitted to a hospital.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can you tell me what day it is?

COOPER: Yes. It's Sunday, June -- I don't know. What's the date? The 7th?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So I'm going to say five numbers and I want you to repeat them back to me after I'm done.

COOPER: OK.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Five, 23, 67, two, 76.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You're almost there.

COOPER: Five, 23, 67, something, 76.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Enough meat.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm going to say five words. You don't have to repeat them. But just listen to them.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You'll be me.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Cat. Book.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: New to me.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Cigar.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'll make it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Damage and rain.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Make you OK.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can you name the last four presidents of the United States?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK for you to be --

COOPER: Barack Obama, George Bush.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Lend me your ear. Here. Right here.

COOPER: Bill Clinton. George Bush.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So those five words I said before, can you remember any of them?

COOPER: No. It's hard when -- because sometimes the voices are like whispering. And sometimes they're aggressive and sometimes they're kind of comforting and, again, with people kind of talking to you all the time, it's --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's OK.

COOPER: It's hard.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Don't worry. Now or later. Don't worry.

COOPER: So I'm going to try to make a boat, origami following these instructions.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It will be OK. Near, near. Get near. Shut up. Shut up.

COOPER: I want to talk back to the voices now but it's really -- it's really distracting.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Not do it. Do not touch that. Stop. Eyes down. You suck. What are you looking at? This is easy. You want to touch that?

COOPER: I can't do this.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hand down. Keep your eyes down. Just do it. Just do it. Just do it. No. Filthy mind. Leave it alone.

COOPER: It's also frustrating because they're telling me I can't do it and I'm -- so I didn't do a very good job with the boat but it's just -- it's really hard to focus when kind of people are whispering to you and talking to you. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Just come clear. Come near to me. Come near

for help.

COOPER: Hey. Do you have -- do you have yesterday's paper? Yesterday's "The New York Times"? No? OK. I'll just get today's. It's really -- it's incredibly distracting on the street having somebody talking in your head and it makes you feel completely isolated from everyone else around you. You don't want to engage a conversation with other people, you're kind of finding yourself wanting to engage in conversation with the voices in the head.

And they're negative and talking to you and everything they're saying relates to things you're actually doing. They're criticizing things you're doing. It's like somebody's -- like you have a chorus watching you and commenting on what you're doing and you can't help but -- I mean I literally find myself wanting to kind of respond to them, kind of tell them to be quiet and it's incredibly unpleasant.

This is a very, very unpleasant experiment. It's really -- I mean, it's eye-opening because it kind of really shows you what it's -- what other people must be going through who deal with this on a regular basis. But also, like I cannot wait to take these headphones off because it's -- it's really depressing. It's very -- it's very negative. It makes you feel very, very negative. Yes. It's very creepy. I want it to stop.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Eyes down. Back up. Stand up now. I'll cut you off. I've cut 20, 30, 40. Stand up now. Walk away.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You're OK.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Walk now.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Pass. On to pacify. All the way to make it home.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: That's very upsetting. Pat Deegan designed that experiment. Again, she was trying to get people to understand what people with schizophrenia or other -- some other mental illnesses go through on a daily basis hearing these kind of voices all the time.

She -- Pat was diagnosed with schizophrenia as a teenager after being urged to enter a halfway house and for all intents and purposes retire from life. She decided instead to become a clinical psychologist and change the mental health system.

Pat Deegan joins us tonight.

So how did you come up with this idea for kind of helping people understand what people who are experiencing schizophrenia are going through? PAT DEEGAN, CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGIST: Well, I began to realize that on a

lot of college campuses when they were training rehabilitation students to understand, for instance, the experience of having a mobility impairment that they actually have students go in a wheelchair and try to navigate campus.

And I said I really want to convey to students and professionals what the experience of hearing these distressing voices is like but I wanted it to be more than sort of a trippy experience that people would just sort of kick back and say this is so weird. I wanted people to have to encounter some of the challenges that those of us -- we have psychiatric disorders are challenged with in just moving through a regular day.

COOPER: It was incredibly isolating. I mean, to be out on the street and having these voices talking to me often saying very negative things, negative things about what I was doing and what I was thinking, about how I should act, it made me feel incredibly isolated from other people and even to the point where I wanted to talk back to the voices. Even though, I mean, I obviously knew, you know, they were just voices on an iPod.

DEEGAN: Well, everyone reacts really differently and it's interesting that your reaction was to want to talk back to them. Some people want to cower and avoid them. But I do think it is an isolating experience because you do have a sense that others are not having the same experience or sharing the same sort of auditory experience that you're having, and so I think what a lot of us do is tend to walk around and feel very alone with it and then it gets reinforced by society's stigma of it.

COOPER: So how does one deal with it? I mean, I cannot imagine dealing with this -- I mean, I did it for 45 minutes. I cannot imagine dealing with this for an entire day let alone years of one's life.

DEEGAN: I think there are many ways that people deal with it. But I'll ask you, what did you do to manage when you first were having this experience?

COOPER: I -- I mean, I kind of -- I kept looking at the clock thinking, OK, there's only three more minutes of this test that I have to do because I couldn't really function. I couldn't -- I mean, I'm not great with numbers but I could not come with any -- I couldn't do anything on the numbers test, even -- and just walking down the street was just -- it was just so isolating and interacting with other people was so difficult because you have other people in your head commenting on things, like don't look up, look down, and different people commenting to me. It was just -- I don't know how I would deal with it.

DEEGAN: Well, you were dealing with it and that's the point, and then when we have the experience of first starting to hear voices, we deal with it, as well. So one of the things that you did is say, hey, this is a phase, this will be over, and you can get through anything if you know it has an end in sight. So that was one, for instance coping strategy that you did use.

I think in the beginning, people are easily overwhelmed by the experience. Actually, engulfed by it, because the nature of the voices is all powerful, all knowing, all seeing but over time I think people come up with rather ingenious ways of beginning to manage these distressing voices. One of which that's very popular among people is listening to headphones and being able to distract yourself with music.

COOPER: Well, it's really -- it's a pleasure having you here. Thank you so much.

DEEGAN: You're welcome.

COOPER: Up next, breaking news, a closed door briefing on the swap for Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, plus the threats against his parents and very different portrait that are emerging of the young soldier. Question is which is the accurate one?

Also tonight, the latest on comedian, Tracy Morgan's prognosis and the new details about the accident that left him in critical condition and killed his friend.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Breaking news tonight on Capitol Hill where House lawmakers just wrapped up a closed door briefing on the controversial prisoner swap that freed U.S. soldier, Bowe Bergdahl in exchange for five Taliban detainees at Guantanamo Bay. We'll have more that in a moment.

But first the latest on the man at the center of the story. Tonight, Bowe Bergdahl is still recovering at a U.S. military hospital in Germany. A senior U.S. official told CNN that Bergdahl who is promoted to sergeant during his captivity wants to be recognised by his old rank, private first class.

More than a week after his release by the Taliban, he's still has not talked to his parents. According to reports, he is not emotionally ready. Here's what Bergdahl's mom said two days after he was freed.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JANI BERGDAHL, BOWE BERGDAHL'S MOTHER: I'm so looking forward to seeing your face after these last five and a half years. Long, long years. And to giving you a great big bear hug and holding you in my arms again, never wanting to let you go. Five years is a seemingly endlessly long time, but you've made it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Well, the Bergdahls have not spoken publicly since that news conference. Now the FBI is investigating threats the parents have received in the e-mails as two very different versions of their son blurring the story even further. Here's Jim Sciutto.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): To date, military doctors at Landstuhl say his health is improving, but in the days since his dramatic release from the Taliban, the Pentagon, fellow soldiers and Afghans have presented two vastly contradictory portraits of Bowe Bergdahl. Deserter or good soldier?

The first dispute arises from the circumstances of his disappearance. A military investigation found he wandered off base more than once. Still, Afghan witnesses told CNN that the morning he was taken he was forcibly abducted, beaten as he resisted. While some of his platoon mates alleged he may have been trying to contact the Taliban.

EVAN BUETOW, BERGDAHL'S FORMER TEAM LEADER: I heard it straight from the interpreter lips hearing it over the radio and at this point, this is kind of snowballing out of the control a little bit. There's a lot more to the story than just a soldier walking away.

SCIUTTO: Where troops killed during the search for him, in the massive manhunt that ensued after he went missing, fellow soldiers say six troops were killed. Pentagon says there is no such evidence. And then there is his behavior during captivity, collaborator or survivor?

Military officials tell CNN he attempted escape more than once, was held in a cage and physically abused. A Taliban source told CNN he sometimes played soccer with his captors, was allowed to celebrate Christmas and Easter and even chose his own food, but U.S. officials have not been able to confirm this account.

DAVID ROHDE, KIDNAPPED BY TALIBAN AND HELD PRISONER IN PAKISTAN: You want to humanize yourself so the guards start to trust you so when they stop watching you so closely, you can try to escape.

SCIUTTO: A friend of the Bergdahl family and former Marine is pleading for time.

MATTHEW HOH, FORMER MARINE CORPS CAPTAIN: I'm concerned about is that all the facts aren't out and rush to condemn him.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Jim Sciutto joins us now from Washington. You talk about how he got along with the Taliban according to one Afghan story, he mentioned he may have played soccer with them. Obviously we don't know why he would have done that if he in fact did it. It is important for hostage to humanize themselves to their captors, as every kidnap victim I've talked to have said that.

SCIUTTO: No question. It's one of the first pieces of advice I've gotten before I travel to Iraq or Afghanistan, places where there is a danger of hostage taking. I'm sure you got the same advice, and this is about establishing a connection. It could be simple, making eye contact, knowing each other's names and the point of that is not to become their friends, but it's to survive.

Because if you are humanized, you are the theory goes more likely to be treated humanely, and frankly, less likely to be killed. Not full proof, but it's a survival tactic. David Rohde told the story of how his translator played soccer with their captors. That helped build trust. The captors let him out of the compound occasionally.

And the knowledge that he gained getting out of the compound helped that translator help David Rohde escape because they knew the path out and they knew the way to get to a Pakistani military post and how they survived so those little victories along the way can mean the difference between survival and not surviving.

COOPER: Still a lot to learn. Jim Sciutto, appreciate it. President Obama as you know didn't consult Congress before approving the prisoner swap that freed Bergdahl. In tonight's briefing top White House deputies tonight tried to convince lawmakers they made the right call.

Our chief congressional correspondent, Dana Bash, joins us now. So a lot of members of the House were angry. They weren't given advance notice of the exchange. It sounds like they're not leaving this briefing tonight any happier.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Not at all. In fact, in many cases, less satisfied than when they went into this briefing primarily because one thing they were told is 80 to 90 members of the administration knew about this plan beforehand. How many members of Congress knew it was going to happen? Well, none.

What they don't know and they asked these briefers I'm told on both sides of the aisle is who are these people? What part of the administration were they? How much detail did they know? Did they know just the specific parts perhaps they had to execute or the whole of the swap? Those are questions that the administration says that they're going to get back to these lawmakers on.

COOPER: Do we know, I mean, why the members were told that they weren't given advance notice?

BASH: Leaks. Point blank. Just like senators were told last week, House members were told tonight that they were worried that members of Congress were going to leak the information and that if that happened, there was a chance that Bergdahl would be killed. Now, that is not sitting well, not just with Republicans, Anderson, but Democrats as well.

Saying, you know, that's just not fair because many of the leaks that you've seen on national security haven't come from Congress in recent years. They have come from members of the administration so they are not buying it here in a bipartisan way.

COOPER: There also clearly would be questions remaining about the term of the exchange. It seem as if lawmakers feel anymore assured that these Taliban commanders won't return to the battlefield?

BASH: Again, no, not at all. There were lots of questions I'm told asked behind closed doors about whether there was any assurance beyond what we know publicly that they would be kept off the battlefield for lack of a better way to say it and that was not given to them at all. No assurance. The only thing that they were told is that they do feel that because U.S. troops, the war is winding down.

U.S. troops won't be in Afghanistan. There were be less of a threat to which I asked one of the lawmakers I was talking to afterwards, well, did anybody ask about 9/11? Because, of course, the threat was not to U.S. troops or any U.S. personnel there. It was here in the U.S. homeland and I'm told one lawmaker did ask that and wasn't given a straight answer.

But one other thing I should underscore on the question of what they were told today, apparently according to people in both parties after the meeting, the -- a lot of what was told to them was not classified. Primarily because, again, they don't trust members of Congress.

COOPER: All right, Dana, appreciate it. Thanks very much.

Still ahead, new information on the VA scandal, why are more than 63,000 veterans still waiting for care? Drew Griffin tonight keeping them honest.

Plus we know about the driver charged in the deadly crash that left actor, Tracy Morgan, seriously injured, killed another man. New details on how Morgan is doing tonight.

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COOPER: More breaking news tonight on Capitol Hill. Right now, members of the House Veterans Affairs Committee are grilling VA officials and other witnesses about why so many sick veterans have been forced to wait so long to get the care they need, some of them dying before they ever saw a doctor. The VA inspector general says his agency is now reviewing 69 facilities. As you know, the scandal has already cost former VA secretary Eric Shinseki his job.

Keeping them honest thought, CNN's Drew Griffin has been reporting on the delays in health care for sick vets since last year and the information he uncovered sparked government investigations and multiple congressional hearings. Tonight, tonight's hearing comes on the wake of the new report on the delays.

Earlier today, the VA released its internal audit showing just how widespread these problems are and Drew joins me now. So let's talk about the hearing still going on. What are we learning from it tonight?

DREW GRIFFIN, CNN SENIOR INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: Well, the big number is one you reported, Anderson. That this continue to grow in size, 69 different VA facilities are now being investigated by the inspector general. And tonight, he, the acting inspector general, his name is Richard Griffin said that, listen, we are uncovering evidence that supervisors were directing the manipulation of this wait time data. It's happened at many, many different facilities.

So it seems like I would say this cover-up is growing within the VA and the numbers are completely unreliable as to how long veterans have been waiting, how many have been waiting on secret lists and how many aren't getting cared for at all.

COOPER: They did release the audit of the hospitals and the large outpatient clinics, right?

DRIFFIN: Yes. The numbers are huge, 57,000 veterans across this country have been waiting more than 90 days to get care that they need, 57,000.

COOPER: Incredible.

GRIFFIN: Another 64,000, Anderson, are not on any list. These are people who have signed up for the VA's health care within the last ten years and they haven't had an appointment. The chairman, Chairman Jeff Miller, tonight said those are 64,000 vets who's fallen through the cracks. It is just crazy.

And the VA is also reporting that it is finding evidence of wrongdoing by its own employees, finding that pressures -- I'm going to read it from the report. Pressures were placed on schedulers to utilize unofficial lists or engage in inappropriate practices in order to make waiting times appear more favorable.

More favorable, Anderson, to get bonuses and when we talk about unofficial lists we're talking about secret lists. That's what those are.

COOPER: I mean, 64,000 people, that's a huge crack to fall through. Not just a little -- is this a criminal investigation at this point?

GRIFFIN: You know, everybody is dancing around this. The inspector general tonight says, the troubles at the VA will end when senior leadership, senior management is either fired or prosecuted. We know that the inspector general has handed over a lot of information to the Department of Justice. Richard Griffin said just a few moments ago that he believes criminal activity did take place but, you know, where is the investigator? Where's the investigation that's going to lead to that? We don't know yet.

COOPER: Is the Department of Justice saying anything, will they be involved?

GRIFFIN: Not quiet yet. They're monitoring the situation. They're cooperating with the VA's inspector general. But Eric Holder apparently not ready to say there's a criminal investigation.

COOPER: Wow.

GRIFFIN: This despite the fact that 21 senators, bipartisan, sent a letter to him really demanding that a criminal investigation be taken.

COOPER: Yes. It's unbelievable. Drew, appreciate you staying on it. Thanks.

There's a lot more happening tonight. Pamela Brown has a 360 News and Business Bulletin -- Pamela. PAMELA BROWN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, the Pakistani Taliban has claimed responsibility for a siege on Karachi's airport. Officials say 29 people were killed including 10 militants. Rescuers are still trying to reach cargo workers trapped inside a cold storage facility.

Five relatives of those aboard missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 appeared in a new video on indigogo.com where they seek $5 million in donations. Organizers say the money will be used for private investigation and offered as a reward for information on what happened to the plane three months ago.

And Hillary Clinton tells ABC News, she and her husband, former President Bill Clinton were dead broke and facing massive legal bills when they left the White House in 2000. They paid off those bills in four years and now the Clintons rake in millions each year in speaking fees -- Anderson.

COOPER: All right, Pamela, thanks very much for that.

Up next, what police say the truck driver charged in the crash that critically injured actor, Tracy Morgan, did not do the day before the deadly wreck?

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COOPER: Police say the truck driver that caused the New Jersey turnpike crash that left comedian, Tracy Morgan, in critical condition and his friend dead had not slept in more than 24 hours. The truck driver is charged with vehicular homicide and assault by auto. Morgan's publicist said he's showing signs of improvement. The star suffered several broken bones. He is expected to be hospitalized for weeks. Randi Kaye has more on the accident.

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RANDI KAYE, CNN INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Around 1:00 a.m. Saturday on the New Jersey turnpike, a tractor trailer driver doesn't see the slow-moving cars in front of him in time. He swerved to avoid them, police say, but it's too late. The truck driver strikes a Mercedes limo van from behind and causing it to spin then overturn.

SGT. GREGORY WILLIAMS, NEW JERSEY STATE POLICE (via telephone): Six- vehicle accident, two tractor trailers involved. Comedian actor, Tracy Morgan was involved.

KAYE: Actor and comedian, Tracy Morgan, was inside the van with the others. On their way back from a show on his "Turn It Funny Tour" at the Dover Downs Hotel and Casino in Delaware.

This video from TMZ shows Morgan being pulled from the limo, critically injured. The group was heading north on the turnpike in Mercer County when the accident happened. Limo van passenger, James McNair, a friend of Morgan's and fellow comedian was killed in the crash. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Devastated. We're devastated. James, I love you.

KAYE: The driver of the limo shared the horrifying moments by phone with ABC.

TYRONE GALE, LIMO DRIVER (via telephone): I climbed around and heard Tracy screaming for help, but I couldn't reach him and pull him. I don't know if we flipped several times, one time.

KAYE (on camera): State police say there's no indication alcohol played a role though it seems lack of sleep did. The 35-year-old Kevin Roper of Jonesboro, Georgia, who is driving that tractor trailer truck for Walmart told police he had been awake a full 24 hours leading up to that crash.

SUNNY HOSTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: That really is breaking federal law. They must sleep and not work. So the suggestion that he may have been awake for 24 hours, a full day, is very, very troubling.

KAYE (voice-over): The truck driver turned himself in Saturday. He was released on $50,000 bail, charged with vehicular homicide and assault by auto. He has yet to enter a plea. Walmart released a statement, which reads in part, "The facts are continuing to unfold. If it's determined that our truck caused the accident, Walmart will take full responsibility."

Meanwhile, Morgan, a father of four, is dealing with a series of injuries, a broken nose, broken ribs, a broken leg and femur. He had surgery on his leg over the weekend. His publicist says he's still in critical condition but he's improving. His fiancee is at his side. Best known for his roles on "Saturday Night Live," and NBC's "30 Rock" --

TRACY MORGAN, COMEDIAN: I Google myself all the time.

KAYE: Morgan is good at making people laugh. These photos posted just before the crash show Morgan smiling wide before the crowd. After his stand-up routine. Never imagining he'd have so little to smile about soon after. Randi Kaye, CNN, New York.

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COOPER: Big fan of his. We wish him the best. We'll right back with another live hour of AC360. Stay with us.

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