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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
FBI Analyzing Alleged New Audio of Brown Shooting; Police Controversies Caught on Dashcam; Should all Police Cars have Dashcams?; American Jihadi Killed in Syria; U.S. Journalist Freed in Syria; Mother of Freed Journalist Speaks Out; Obama Approves Recon Flight on ISIS in Syria; Can ISIS be Stopped?; 120 Healthcare Worker Dead from Ebola
Aired August 26, 2014 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, AC360 HOST: Now, as you know, there was no Dashcams so investigators can't see what happened but perhaps, they can hear what happened. The FBI is analyzing the alleged audio recording of the shooting which someone who lives near by says he just happened to capture wall video chatting. Ted Rowlands has more.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's this critical moment caught on audio tape and it could be a key piece of evidence as investigators work to determine exactly what happen between Michael Brown and Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson. The shots can be heard in the background of an online video chat.
PAUL GINSBERG, FORENSIC AUDIO EXPERTS: It's electronic. It's objective. It doesn't take sides.
ROWLANDS: Forensic audio expert Paul Ginsberg analyzed the nine second clip and creative a wave form graphic highlighting the gunshots. He count's a total of 10 shots within approximate three second pause after the six shot. Take another listen.
The three second pause could be very significance.
GINSBERG: It could be depending upon what the witnesses say they saw and what's in the police report.
ROWLANDS: Several of the witnesses do mentioned a pause.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They shot him and he fell. He put his arm up to let them know he was complying and that he was unarmed and they shot him twice more.
DORIAN JOHNSON, MICHAEL BROWN'S FRIEND: And he put his hands in the air and he started to get down but the officer still approach with his weapons drawn and he fire several more shots.
ROWLANDS: An independent autopsy determine that Michael Brown was shot at least six times all to the front of his body. The other four shots heard on the recording could have missed.
The man who inadvertently recorded this audio wants to remain anonymous. He lives in one of these apartment buildings which as you could see is very close to where Michael Brown was shot and killed.
LOPA BLUMENTHAL, ATTORNEY: He was in his apartment, he was talking to a friend on a video chats. He heard loud noises and at the moment -- at the time, he didn't even realize the import of what he was hearing until afterwards.
ROWLANDS: The recording could prove critical. Should this go to trial, a tool both the prosecution and the defense could use to bolster their case.
GINSBERG: This has a bearing on really everything else. This is a piece of the puzzle that has to fit.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: And Ted Rowlands joins now live from Ferguson. Our investigator are saying anything publicly about this argue?
ROWLANDS: No. They're not Anderson. The attorney that's representing the man that recorded this audios has said that her client has met with the FBI, has been interviewed by the FBI and the FBI has a copy of this audio and is presumably analyzing it, looking for anything significant.
COOPER: All right. Ted, appreciate it. Joining my now live, our CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin and Sunny Hostin, both former federal prosecutors and Frank Piazza, an audio forensic expert. I appreciate all of you being with this. Jeffrey I haven't talk to you. What do you make of this tape? How significant you think it is?
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Well, I think it's certainly good for the investigation that exist. I mean assuming that it's authentic and I think besides point that way, it is an objective piece of evidence that will guide the investigators and, you know, help them figure out what happen. I don't think it really -- I think both sides could use it on. I don't think it proves guilt, proves innocence. It's a piece of the puzzle.
The defense, if there is a defense. Well, Officer Wilson could say, look it shows he was pausing and yet Mike Brown keep coming. The prosecution could say, it shows that he kept firing even after he had hit him a couple of times which shows, you know, his aggressive attitude. I think it's an important piece of the puzzle but I don't think it seals anything.
COOPER: Sunny, you -- assuming this is a legitimate tape and again, it's being analyze by the FBI. You believe the pause is significant...
SUNNY HOSTIN CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I do.
COOPER: ... because it backs up the eyewitness. HOSTIN: I do because I think eyewitness testimony alone is troubling because there has been some inconsistencies that I think they've been made too much up. But I think, when you hear the pause and so many of the eyewitness just say he stop shooting, Mike turned around, put his hands up and then the officer continue to shoot. That I think is very powerful collaborative evidence and that's the type of evidence the prosecutors look for.
COOPER: Frank, how does the FBI go about authenticating this? Is there a lot of data that comes along with the tape like this?
FRANK PIAZZA AUDIO FORENSIC EXPERTS: Well, you know, first thing the FBI is going to need to do is get a hold of the original recording and if this was done with some sort of video chat then they have to have access to that account, the person who was speaking the male voice, you know, he has to be able to enable them to get that exact original copy and I'm curious to know about the other side also who was part of that video chat, let's get a copy of that.
That at least get a start to knowing we have the original recording as opposed to something that's possibly have been passed around at this point right now.
COOPER: Is it possible that there is more on that tape that we don't hear just in the playing of it that there's maybe -- I mean is there any way to kind of analyze background more? You see that in movies a lot.
PIAZZA: Yeah. You can. There's been a big discussion about the pause in the tape. You know, well I'd be curious to know if I had an opportunity to enhance it and analyze it to see maybe if there's something buried in there. You know, what's interesting, -- again, I haven't heard the recording fully examine but those gunshots are pretty loud which tells me that the microphone have the ability to pick up other things that might be outside that building. I don't know that but I'd like to have the opportunity to bring that out.
COOPER: Let's play it again.
TOOBIN: I've to say I don't think that pause sounds so long. I mean there definitely is a pause.
HOSTIN: Three seconds.
TOOBIN: But three seconds, you know, in the calm reflection sitting here weeks later.
COOPER: (inaudible) in the heat of the moment, three seconds quite wide.
TOOBIN: Right and, you know, in a life for that situation, adrenaline flowing on all sides. You know, I'm not sure ultimately a jury will find that pause all that significant. I mean it doesn't mean Officer Wilson is guilty of crime or not. I'm just not true that pause is all that significant.
HOSTIN: I disagree because I've had cases where there have been police in (inaudible) shootings but shooting and we know that the shootings occur very, very quickly. It's usually rapid fire and the three second pause with the trained officer who was trained to asses threats, who was trained to de-escalate force, who was trained on the continuum of force requirement. I think a three second, if you have an expert to testify about that three second pause I think it actually can be quite strong.
COOPER: Frank, how long does examining a tape? The authentication process and really trying to get everything you can from the tape, how long is that takes? Is it a long process?
PIAZZA: It is. It's long and then you would think, OK. So we're listening to what a 15 second clip approximately. There are many areas in that recording that you have to pay attention to, one being the male voice that you hear, another being the gunshots, another being the environment where the microphone is actually making the recording. You have to confirm that all of those are continuous and kind of a linear, kind of way. That's part of ...
COOPER: So make sure there's not any edits in it.
PIAZZA: Absolutely correct.
COOPER: And that's something you can determine?
PIAZZA: Usually the answer is yes. There are signatures especially in visual recordings, recordings that are made with an AC current in the room. I know this is, you know, a little geeky but there are things there that you can identify. There are signatures whether or not this has or not, I don't know. But also as a digital file, there is meditated too that goes with it. For example, the time and date stamp. There are ways to know that if this video chat software whatever it was, you know, is reliable and has consistency...
COOPER: So it would have the time and date. So they could theoretically find out what time exactly this was recorded and compare that to the -- what would the known time of the shooting.
PIAZZA: Oh, sure. It would definitely be time stamped. That's my opinion.
TOOBIN: And, you know, what -- somewhat of what Frank is saying is the reason I think the October deadline that the prosecuting attorney has said...
COOPER: For the grand jury.
TOOBIN: ... for the grand jury. I think that's optimistic.
TOOBIN: Yeah. Absolutely. You know, this is complicated and this is just one part of the investigation. It's not the ballistics. It's not any DNA that might be found on the gun. Far better I think take another month.
COOPER: We don't even know if they have found all the bullets. I mean we don't know...
HOSTIN: I'm sure they have. But I've got to disagree with you because this is not a who done it case. This is not a complex case. I think certainly the audio tape adds a wrinkle but let's face it and you know this Jeff, prosecutors don't want to put on a lot of evidence in the grand jury because that evidence can be use at trial and so typically you streamline your case, it's very easy to get an indictment, especially the shooting case.
TOOBIN: But the prosecutor has said, "We will put every piece of evidence in the grand jury."
HOSTIN: And that is very unusual...
TOOBIN: Which it is unusual but that's what he said and there's going to be a lot of evidence.
HOSTIN: That's why I think this is very troubling. It is not the norm in my experience and I again, think that it is very surprising that he chose to go the grand jury route, chose not to recuse himself and have a special prosecutor and chose not to just bring this, charge this case, bring it in front of the judge and let the judge decide.
COOPER: He doesn't say that ultimately all the evidence presented will come out.
TOOBIN: Right and that's a lot of evidence and it's going to take some time and I think October is not going to happen.
HOSTIN: And that's bizarre. Prosecutors never do that.
COOPER: Sunny, thank you. Jeff thanks. Frank Piazza, thanks very much.
PIAZZA: Thank you.
COOPER: A really fascinating stuff. Just ahead, there may not be so many questions about exactly what happen to Michael Brown if the whole incident was recorded by dashboard camera which it wasn't. We'll take a look at some cases where dash cams have cleared police of wrong, doing or caught them using excessive force, next.
COOPER: Well, some have said that the shooting of Michael Brown wouldn't be so controversial if it was recorded on dashboard camera and we -- more importantly investigators could see what happen just by looking at the tape. Would it help to have Dashcams on all police cars across the country? We'll have that discussion in a moment but first, even during incidents were Dashcams have been involved still not always an open and solve case. Randi Kaye reports. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: 12:30 a.m. in DeLand, Florida, police are chasing suspect Marlon Brown. His final moments alive, recorded on the officer's Dashcam video.
A Volusia County Sheriff's deputy tried to stop Brown earlier for not wearing his sit belt. From there, DeLand Police Officer James Harris and another officer picked up the pursuit. Each in their own patrol car, they spot Brown down there at intersection. They tail him all the way here until he makes the left on South Delaware Avenue. It's a dead end.
Brown, suddenly takes off running. Officer Harris still in his car continues the chase, a warning. What happens next is hard to watch. One final glance toward the on coming police car and Brown disappears the beneath them.
The 38 year old father of two is dead. Take another look. Did the officer's car run Brown down or did he slipped and fall first? The medical examiner rolled the death accidental after not finding any skull or pelvic fractures to suggest he was struck by the car. The DME said Brown slipped and fell before the care reached him. The officer was fired but the grand Jury chose not to indict him for vehicular man slug.
In Green Bay, Wisconsin Officer Derek Wicklund was accused of using excessive force during an arrest which was caught on Dashcam. The video shows Wicklund tackling the man then hitting him twice before finally cuffing him. It might look bad but in internal investigation clear the officer, saying he followed department policy and procedures. But Dashcam video doesn't always favor police.
Last year, while vacationing in Northern New Mexico, a mother and her five children were pulled over for speeding. When the officer and the woman begin to struggle, her 14 year old son rushes the officer, the woman jumps back in the driver sit but before she can pull away, the officer uses his baton to break the van's window. When the minivan does take off, another officer back up, opens fire on the minivan. Remember, it's full of children.
After a high speed chase through wrong way traffic, the mother and her 14 year old son are arrested, charged with fleeing police, child abuse and battering. And this time, the officer who fired three gun shots at the minivan was terminated for violating the department's policy regarding the use of deadly force. Randi Kaye, CNN, New York.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: That's unbelievable video. Joining me now live is Law Professor Neil Richards at Washington University in Saint Louis and CNN legal analyst and Criminal Defense Attorney Mark Geragos.
So Mark, as I said earlier some people that if Officer Darren Wilson wore a camera or had a Dashcam, investigators would have a much clearer picture into what happened when Mike Brown was shot. Do you agree with that?
MARK GERAGOS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, I don't disagree with that in the sense that I've always wondered the payouts in some of these cases when the jury verdict can be astronomical and the amount of money that you would potentially save if the officers were actually acting appropriately and you had a camera and whether it's a Dashcam or now they have the body cams, you know, basically a GoPro. I would think he would want that.
I just don't see any down side to it. What is a harm in having a camera there that will substantiate what you claim happened if you are the officer and if you were a citizen, wouldn't you want the camera there so that it's not going to be a situation where the officer is always believed over you because that's kind of the fear that you have as a lawyer is any time there isn't a camera there or there isn't an independent witness, so it's the officer's...
GERAGOS: ... word versus your word. Anybody who's gone to traffic court knows how that turns out.
COOPER: Mr. Richard, I mean what do you think about that? I mean I know you think cameras can be useful but they're not a quick fixed.
NEIL RICHARDS, LAW PROFESSOR, WASHINGTON: Right. It might be boring to say but it depends how the cameras are installed, how they are wired. I mean, if the police have the ability to turn off the cameras when unfavorable things are going on that we have a problem. If the police get better at playing for the cameras than the suspects, that's the problem.
These things are complex technologies and I think as you've seen over the past 20 minutes even when you have video or when you have audio, it could be very difficult even to interpret it.
COOPER: So Mr. Richards, you could see a case where officers begin to play knowing that the cameras are recording.
RICHARDS: Absolutely. I mean you guys are in front of cameras everyday, I presume you get better at working in front of the camera. The police, when the cameras are on are going to be, you know, under surveillance the whole time and they will get better doing it. But also I think when the police are being watch maybe they're going to start worrying more but how they're going to appear to investigators or the lawyers or internal affairs. You know, it can be a distraction as well.
There was a story from the LAPD over the summer. The LAPD had a high rate of accidents on their wireless transmitters for the Dashboard cameras, I think like 50 percent because the police didn't like being watch. It's not to say we should monitor the police. We just need to be careful the way we do that. Under the circumstances, we do it and the way we build these technologies.
COOPER: Mark, there is a study of a police who are in California. They found that the first year after cameras were introduced, the use of force by officers fell 60 percent and citizen's complaints against police dropped 88 percent.
GERAGOS: It's exactly right. And the professor's point as well made in the sense that yes, they will tailor their activity and they'll tailor how they act because they're on camera. I certainly don't think that's a bad thing. And God knows in that one tape you played was that bashing in the window of the minivan filled with kids and then another one shooting at it. Apparently in some cases nothing will stop an officer from acting like the village idiot.
So I don't see -- I really don't see any downside to it.
And yes, the LAPD does have this disturbing habit unfortunately if there is going down at inappropriate times. I wonder why that happens.
COOPER: Professor, do you think it's only a matter of time before every police department that can afford it certainly is equipped with a camera?
RICHARDS: I think its something that we're going to see but I think it's important to ask when we deploy these technologies, how is it going to happen. Do the police have it pause book? Do they have a delete function? Can they edit? How long is it stored? What is the access? When is it deleted and under what circumstance? When can CNN get access to the tapes?
You know, I think though that we have to be careful about it because, you know, we've seen with what's been happening in Ferguson, you know, quite close to my house. The police have been deploying all sorts of technologies that turn out to have not been such a good idea in plain sight.
COOPER: You know, Richards and Mark Geragos, guys thanks very much. Interesting discussions. You can always find out more of the story at cnn.com.
Just ahead tonight, another young American has died in Syria -- have been killed in Syria fighting for ISIS. The same terror group that beheaded American Journalist, James Foley about the latest and who this guy was and how we ended up in the battlefield in Syria.
COOPER: Tonight another grieve reminder of why U.S. officials consider ISIS such a threat. A 33-year old American with ties to Minnesota and California, he was killed in Syria over the weekend while fighting for ISIS.
He was a convert to Islam. He's not the first American to travel to Syria to fight with ISIS. Our Chief National Security Correspondent Jim Sciutto has more.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JIM SCIUTTO, CNN's CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: He is an American with an all American name, Douglas McArthur McCain. But this 33-year old man from San Diego went to fight and die in Syria for ISIS, a terror group U.S. officials now called the gravest of threats. It was after all an ISIS fighter who beheaded American journalist James Foley just last week.
McCain's family tells CNN they were notified by the State Department Monday that he was killed over the weekend. His uncle Kenneth told me, "We are devastated and we are just as surprise as the country is."
McCain was raised Christian but converted to Islam several years ago. Police in Minnesota tells CNN that McCain had past running with the law, charged in 2003 with position of marijuana and driving on a suspended license.
Several months ago, he told family members he was traveling to Turkey. That was the last he saw him. McCain is not the first American to die fighting as a Jihadi in Syria.
Moner Mohammad Abusalha was killed in May, detonating a truck bomb near a Syrian military base. In a (inaudible) video, he's seen tearing up his U.S. passport and urging others to join the fight.
MONER MOHAMMAD ABUSALHA: You think that you have won, you have never won. You'll never defeat Islam.
SCIUTTO: Abusalha was fighting for Al-Nusra an Al-Qaeda tied terror group.
McCain is the first American known who have been killed fighting for ISIS, a group so brutal. It was expelled by Al-Qaeda.
Today, U.S. officials believe more than a hundred Americans are fighting as Jihadis in Syria and more than of a thousands Westerners.
U.S. official tells CNN that McCain was on a terror watch lists. And the State Department says they are doing their best to track others.
JEN PSAKI, STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESPERSON: We've increased our capacity we've increased our tracking, we've increased our coordination but clearly this is a threat that we take seriously enough to put it at the front center of our agenda.
SCIUTTO: The fear now is when return home. They may bring Jihad with them.
Jim Sciutto, CNN New York.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Joining me now is Senior White House Correspondent Jim Acosta. So the White House this evening understand -- they confirmed they're aware of this guy, is that correct?
JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESONDENT: Right. That's right. The National Security Council spokesman went over at the White House Anderson, Caitlin Hayden point out us even earlier this evening saying that the U.S. was aware of Douglas McCain being in Syria.
Other U.S. official tells us Anderson that they were aware of his travels to Syria and that he was on a watch lists. He was being watched and they were on guard, according to one U.S. official I talked to, looking him for a potential return, of Douglas McArthur McCain back to the United States.
So they were watching and were keeping an eye on him and they were obviously concern because of what he was up to over there, what he might be planning to do when he got back to the United States. And this really goes to the issue that I've been hearing from White House officials over the last couple of days Anderson. Westerners with passports are traveling from the United States and the west to ISIS battlefield and then back again to potentially (inaudible) on the home front.
And now at this point, White House officials say they don't believe ISIS is planning any sort of attack on the U.S. homeland but that is a potential danger. They don't see it as a 9/11 danger at this point but it's a reason why they are concern about this threat.
COOPER: Did the President give any indication today of how involved he's willing to allow the U.S. to become in the fight against to ISIS particularly in Syria?
ACOSTA: Yeah. You heard the President say earlier today Anderson in that speech he gave to the American Legion down in Charlotte that the U.S. is going to pursue ISIS, that justice will be done when it comes to the killing of American journalist James Foley. Vengeance will happen, that the president basically said. That was an indication that the U.S. will go wherever the U.S. needs to go, a border list mission to avenge Foley's killing.
At the same time, the President was very careful to say, no boots on the ground in Iraq had talked to administration officials who have said, make no mistake, no boots on the ground in Syria. And so the president is carefully reviewing his options when it comes to this potential, you know, decision to make airstrikes or to conduct airstrikes over in Syria.
But again, White House officials stress they are just not at that decision point yet.
COOPER: It's really interesting Jim, because I remember, you know, when the president announced 500 military advisers going to Iraq weeks ago you pressed him about mission creep, that never would say, well there's not going to be any mission creep, well then it became -- well we're doing airstrikes in order to protect American personnel that we've just sent into Iraq and also to protect religious minorities.
And now it's -- well, now we're going to have airstrikes against ISIS not only in Iraq but also in Syria. I mean...
ACOSTA: Right. COOPER: ... is -- does anyone throw around that term mission creep anymore because it seems like this is kind of the definition mission creep. Right or wrong?
ACOSTA: Right. I think the only people who weren't calling it mission creep Anderson, are the people here at the White House quite frankly. I mean, what happened earlier this year when you heard the president tell the New Yorker that he didn't consider ISIS or Jihadis like ISIS to be the Los Angeles Lakers that they were part of a GV Team, you know, clearly the White House and the administration had been caught off-guard by the ISIS threat.
It has turned into a cancer as the president has called it. And so now the president has to go about and this may be really the last thing foreign policy challenge of the remainder of his term, that is to go after ISIS and to take it out. And if he doesn't, you know, this is going to be a problem for the next administration and that is why I think you're seeing law-makers up on Capitol Hill, mainly on the Republican side but I think you'll start seeing on the Democratic side, a call for the President to layout a comprehensive strategy for taking care of ISIS, is something the President has not done at this point, Anderson.
COOPER: All right. Jim Acosta, I appreciate it from the White House.
Just ahead, the mother of the American journalist Peter Theo Curtis describes what it was like for her to hear her son's voice for the first time in nearly two years after he was just freed by his captors in Syria, days after we learned that James Foley was killed.
COOPER: Welcome back. Just five days after we learned the American journalist James Foley was beheaded by ISIS, another American journalist, Peter Theo Curtis, he goes by Theo was freed by his captors in Syria.
His family like the Foleys never lose hope that they would see him again.
In a moment you're going to hear from his mom. First though Miguel Marquez has more on all that they had been through.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Peter Theo Curtis, nearly two year held prisoner in Syria, today free. A mother's relief plain as the smile on her face.
So you're happy that he's out?
Captured late 2012 by Al Qaeda affiliated Al-Nusra Front as Syria's civil war raged. Writing under name Theo Padnos, he covered the horrors of Syria often critical often critical of the Assad regime, Al Nusra's enemy. It made little difference. For nearly a year family, friends, has no idea where he was or what happened to him. KIRK KARDASHIAN, PETER THEO CURTIS'S FRIEND: I don't remember exactly how I discovered that he was being held. I think at first, it was just the disappearance and then the information slowly came out that he was being held.
MARQUEZ: Others found out after Matthew Schrier, held captive with Curtis managed to escape in 2013, the story of their treatment, terrifying to hear.
MATHEW SCHRIER, HELD CAPTIVE WITH CURTIS: All day long you're hearing people get tortured. All day long you just hear wak, wak, wak (ph), that he if he can't wak (ph) and they're screaming and yelling.
MARQUEZ: Curtis's family now gathering at his mother's Cambridge Massachusetts home. The news from Theo so far, positive.
VIVA HARDIGG, CURTIS'S COUSIN: We've heard that he's health appears good. So that was very encouraging.
MARQUEZ: But videos of Curtis in captivity released over the last few months showed him in an agitated state.
PETER THEO CURTIS, JOURNALIST: My name is Peter Theo Curtis. I'm a journalist in the city of Boston Massachusetts.
MARQUEZ: Then a week ago, everything changed. The shocking public killing of journalist James Foley by ISIS an Al-Nusra Front rival may have pushed the government of Qatar to step up negotiations for Curtis's release. No word on whether a ransom was paid.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: After Foley, the Qataris probably moved very fast. They wanted to show a victory. They needed too, because if it goes really bad, Syria and Iraq that Qataris do not want to be blame for this.
MARQUEZ: Now, his family, his friends prepare for Curtis's return. One of his favorite things, road bicycling.
KARDASHIAN: I can't wait for us to go out on a bike ride in Vermont.
MARQUEZ: On a very long bike ride I take it.
KARDASHIAN: Yeah, maybe...
MARQUEZ: He has already had a hell of a ride. Miguel Marquez, CNN, New York.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: For nearly two years, Nancy Curtis's his mom didn't know where her son was or she'd never see him again.
Tonight she's getting ready to welcoming him home. I spoke to her earlier.
Nancy, first of all just, congratulations. I'm so happy for you. Can you take me back to that moment when you first learn that your son had been freed?
NANCY CURTIZ, MOTEHR OF PETER THEO CURTIS: I got a call from the FBI agent who's been working with this the whole time.
She flew -- she flew to the Middle East and she called me and said I'm standing on the Golan Heights with your son by my side. And he wants to talk to you but he needs sometime to compose himself.
You know, that was all she needed to say. I know that he was healthy and safe and it was a huge relief.
COOPER: Did you know that moment was coming? Did you know that this was in the works?
CURTIS: Yes. I knew that the agent had gone to the Middle East about a week previously. So, we had been waiting for that call but, you know, it was like a very, very long wait.
COOPER: What is that moment like? I mean, after waiting and, you know, so many ups and downs and not hearing for so long.
CURTIS: This is been a very a long -- very, very long road and you learn together with a panic which is how I felt initially. (inaudible) terror is what -- again, when I realize that he had disappeared.
And then, you know, you get -- you slowly come to terms to the fact that he's gone, he's in danger. It was a relief to know after nine months, we heard that he was alive. And then, you know, we have so many people working on the case and we have such support from so many terrific people, that, you know, you learn this just take each hour as it comes and you cannot live in anguish for years on end.
COOPER: You spoken to your son now?
N. CURTIS: Yeah. He did call me later that afternoon after he got Tel Aviv and he was very, very excited. I think he -- I think it's been obviously tremendously stressful for him and so to have that fear and anxiety suddenly, you know, taken away it just...
COOPER: It's going to be...
N. CURTIS: ... outburst of emotion from him.
COOPER: It's going to be so real for him to suddenly be, I guess in a hotel room in Tel Aviv. What did he say to you?
N. CURTIS: He said, "Oh mom they're being so nice to me. And they put me in this beautiful hotel and I'm drinking a beer." He sounded over the top, excited.
COOPER: Do you know when you expect him to be back?
N. CURTIS: At least he can be back today or tomorrow.
COOPER: Wow that quick? N. CURTIS: Yeah.
COOPER: Do you have something planned? How do you even prepare for something like that?
N. CURTIS: You -- just like everything else. Take it as it comes, I think that he's going to be exhausted after a long trip. I'm can tell you I'm exhausted and I think that we'll just be really quite for a while.
COOPER: So the deal that the deal that freed Theo, it was done by the Government of Qatar and as my understand that the U.S. ambassador to the UN puts you in touch with them. Were you -- was that a good moment for you when you made that contact or did you feel like you did -- did you have a sense that that would lead to something?
N. CURTIS: I knew that the United States Government was not going to pay a ransom and did not want anybody to pay a ransom but we were hopeful what connection to Qatar would be productive but we didn't know. It's certainly we're very gracious and tremendously helpful. But, you know, you have to give credit to all the people that I don't know about in the United States Government who's been working on this hard for two years.
COOPER: I understand you have made a contact with Jim Foley's family. Have you...
N. CURTIS: Yes. Really, I met Diane Foley and we have become good friends and we have supported one another. Needless to say I am devastated by Jim's death. That certainly some presenting emotion that I have about Theo.
COOPER: So even in this time of happiness, there is also that sense of sadness?
N. CURTIS: These people are like family to me, you know, I mean, I didn't know Jim but I think he sound -- it sounds as if he and Theo and a lot in common. And I know the Foley family. They're wonderful people and I've met the families of the other Americans who were help hostage and I can't tell you how terrible I feel about that.
So, I'm relieved about Theo. I'm glad that his coming home but my emotions are very muted (ph).
COOPER: Well, Nancy I'm glad you're through it and continue to think about all those others who were being held. Thank you so much for talking to us.
N. CURTIS: All right. Thank you very much.
COOPER: Well just ahead, can the US actually stop Isis? We'll digging into that, next.
COOPER: As we've been reporting tonight, an American has died fighting for Isis in Syria. Now this comes as President Obama authorizes U.S. reconnaissance flights over Syria in preparation for possible airstrikes against ISIS fighters in the country. U.S. has already launched airstrikes against ISIS targets in Northern Iraq. The terror group aims to create an Islamic state across Sunni areas of Iraq and Syria.
Now the question is can they actually be stopped and what's going to take? Joining me tonight from Erbil, Iraq, Mr. Dexter Filkins, of The New Yorker. Dexter, do you believe this is the start of a much wider war that the conflict in Iraq and Syria that is not going to be contained?
DEXTER FILKINS, THE NEW YORKER: Well I think the war here is definitely spreading. But I think the question, you know, the question about American involvement and how deep that is going to be, you know, that's kind of depend on how big this war gets I think is whether say, the Obama administration decides to do airstrikes, airstrikes of some sort in Syria, which I think they're considering now.
COOPER: Do you see, though, other regional actors getting involved as well?
FILKINS: Well, I mean, they've been involved, you know, I mean, the Syrian Civil War is more than three years old now. Everybody in the region has been arming everybody else, you know, what the Iranians and Russians had been arming the Assad regime.
The Qataris were arming ISIS and Al-Qaeda and the other groups. United States is involved, the Turks are involved, the Saudis are involved. So everybody is in, you know, I think that now it's the question of just how deeply does every get in.
COOPER: I've heard you said that the choice is both in Syria and Iraq for the U.S., they're all bad but there are no good choices.
FILKINS: The U.S. so far, the airstrikes that President Obama has ordered, they've all been pretty limited in their targets. They're basically to stop the advance of ISIS. They haven't done strikes yet. They haven't decided whether to degrade, really degrade the war making capacity of ISIS.
COOPER: Last week the Chairman of the joint chiefs said that ISIS will only truly be defeated when disenfranchise Sunnis rejected ISIS, the ones 20 million of them will live between Damascus and Baghdad start to actually turn on Isis. Do you see any sign of that happening because the U.S. isn't there to pay them, to help them to make that turn like we did before?
FILKINS: That's exactly what happens during the American war here in 2006-2007. The Sunnis who, you know, had formed the backbone of the insurgency against the United States, turned to the United States and said, "Can you help us with Al-Qaeda, we're sick of them." It's not going to happen this time around? Men, I don't know. I'm pretty skeptical myself. I, you know, the Americans are not on the grounds, you know, so they
condole a lot of money but what ultimately, you know, you need somebody with firepower and discipline to take on ISIS.
COOPER: Is ISIS really that different from other Jihadis groups in your opinion?
FILKINS: Well I think they're certainly different in their level of, you know, psychosis and their viciousness but they know what they're doing. I mean, they are very good and now of course as they have expanded and as they rolled into Iraq, you know, they've got money, they've got American weapons, they've got humvees, they've got everything they need right now.
They may be unbeatable here on the ground and I think -- I was in Washington recently and an administration official said to me, "The only thing that can stop Isis is American air power." And that may be true and I think that's why right now in the White House they're having some pretty serious discussions about this.
COOPER: Does -- I mean, its one thing for ISIS to take territory and they have obviously done a very good job with that. It's another thing for them to actually rule that territory. Is that something they've shown any capabilities of doing without turning people against them?
FILKINS: They've shown themselves to be very smart and they're very capable but they're also -- they're nuts, you know, these are really -- these are crazy people. And can crazy people collect taxes, they do collect taxes. But can they run electricity? And can they run the sewers? Can they run the school? I don't think so. So I think that is one of the big weaknesses of ISIS right now, is that they can't govern.
COOPER: Do you believe they are psychopaths. A lot of these guys were psychopaths in ISIS?
FILKINS: A group like ISIS is a magnet for people who love to kill and they may have genuine grievances, you know, the Sunnis and the Syria certainly do have genuine grievances. But, you know, a lot of these guys, my god, there's hundreds of guys. For example, there's hundreds of guys from the United Kingdom, from the UK who were fighting here and these are, you know, there's a full of people as the guy demonstrated in the video the other day who killed the American hostage.
You know, they love this. This is what they love to do. So yes, it's full of crazy people, it is.
COOPER: All right, Dexter Filkins, I appreciate you being with us Dexter. Thanks.
FILKINS: Thank you very much.
COOPER: Up next, startling emission from the Director of the CDC on the challenge of fighting Ebola in one west to African neighborhood where tens of thousands of people right are forced to be quarantined.
COOPER: "It's worst than we thought", that's an alarming message about Ebola from Fr. Thomas Frieden, the director from CDC. More than 1,400 people have died so far from the virus across West Africa and in Liberia which is the hardest hit nation. An entire neighborhood in the capital is quarantine. World Health Organization announced today that an unprecedented number of healthcare workers, 120, have died in the outbreak so far.
Twice that number have been infected, I spoke to Dr. Sanjay Gupta.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: This is an unprecedented number of healthcare workers who have become ill with this virus. Do we know why so many? Is it just the scope of the outbreak?
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: I think a lot of it is the scope. But, you know, what's interesting is that the healthcare workers are always the first people to get sick.
GUPTA: Because they don't know at the time that they're dealing with Ebola. So at the beginning when outbreak you always have a lot of healthcare workers. But think about this as several simultaneous outbreaks, to get somebody for example appearing in Nigeria. The first people they cared for him, they didn't suspect that he had Ebola and I think several -- I think five, maybe seven healthcare workers got sick within a short time after caring for him.
So a lot of it is just not knowing where these sporadic out breaks are coming. But, you know, you have 240 infected healthcare workers, 120 of them have died. So...
GUPTA: ... I mean, this is --it's they -- I mean they are literally risking their lives to do this work.
COOPER: And continuing to do it even though they know the odds, you know, of what they're facing. At the facility you were at, did you have the feeling that everybody was well training? Everybody knew the protocol?
GUPTA: We were with the doctors of our boarders, MSF and, you know, they're very well trained. I was with particular doctor who had been in previous Ebola outbreak, so there's almost the feeling of exactly how we get dressed, how we put this protective gear on, to see how he's doing out there and that's -- the goal is to protect every inch of your skin, nothing showing.
But then there's also little things, when you come out your kind of blinded a little bit, right? So you have to have a buddy sort of behind you helping you to put your gown on and then they'll also take it off, you're being sprayed down, you got to make sure for example now that this hand is bare you don't actually touch it against a part of your suit because that could be a potential contamination. So you...
COOPER: Just something little like that, brushing your hand against the sleeve.
GUPTA: You know Anderson this are the thing about Ebola, when they say it's so infectious even some on your skin, even if the skin doesn't appear broken could be a treat because we all have breaks in our skin even if we don't realize that there's little tiny breaks I our skin. There was one day one of the doctors showed me something that I could barely see just underneath this finger and he said, "I've been grounded. I can't go in until that is completely healed up."
So, they are careful but, you know, they're running out of resources. We're hearing stories about people reusing gowns, things -- some of those protective gear. They're just -- that just increases the risk for error each time you do something like that.
COOPER: I saw the director of the CDC is on the ground in Liberia and he reported seeing bodies lying out on the streets.
GUPTA: It's, you know...
COOPER: Which terrifying for just, I mean, not only as a tragic it's terrifying for the spread of the disease.
GUPTA: Yes, I mean, that was some of the strongest language I think I've heard from Dr. Frieden. He basically said, "We are no where near controlling this thing. We haven't gotten to the point where we can even say that we've made significant progress." And corpses lying in the street is of significant concern with Ebola because the virus can still spread through a body that is deceased.
A lot of bacterial and other viral diseases once the body dies, the virus essentially will die pretty quickly after. With Ebola it can live longer.
COOPER: And that's one of the ways it spreads is people handling a dead body in cultural practices.
GUPTA: They wrap the body for a few days as you know before they will actually do a burial and during that time there's a lot of lying on of hands on the body and that's what they belief. In Liberia as you may know that they had a public doctrinal that the bodies had to be cremated.
GUPTA: And just culturally that was such a shock.
COOPER: Sanjay thanks.
GUPTA: Got it. Thank you. COOPER: Well that does it for us. Thank for watching. CNN Tonight, starts now.