Skip to main content


Return to Transcripts main page


Dramatic Day in Saddam Trial; High School Football Player Goes to Court; Flood of Hurricane Katrina E-Mails Made Public; New Trend in Teen Parties; New Biography of John Belushi Offers Fresh Perspective

Aired December 6, 2005 - 23:00   ET


ANNOUNCER: A secret witness testifies, saying she was tortured and sexually assaulted by Saddam's henchmen. Tonight, we take you inside the dramatic day in court.
A high school football player kicks an opponent while he's down and he's suspended from his team's championship game. Why a hard hit on the field is headed to the highest court in the state.

And, what would you pay for a party for you child? How does $200,000 sound? Tonight, parties for privileged kids. What you've never seen before.

From across the U.S. and around the world, this is ANDERSON COOPER 360. Live from the CNN studios in New York, here's Anderson Cooper.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: And good evening. Thanks for joining us. First, let's get you up to speed with the latest headlines at this moment. In Baghdad, U.S. military officials now say the two suicide bombers who attacked a police academy today were men, not women, as reported earlier. At least three dozen police officers and students were killed in the attack. More than 70 others were wounded.

In Florida, stinging defeat for federal prosecutors. A five- month trial and nearly two weeks of deliberations, and a jury has now acquitted a former college professor of charges he supported a terrorist group in the Middle East. Jurors found Sami Al-Arian not guilty of eight counts against him and deadlocked on nine others. The Justice Department said it hasn't decided whether to retry him as a co-defendant on the deadlocked charges.

In Iran, it is still not clear if anyone on the ground died today in a crash that killed all 94 people aboard a military transport plane. The pilot reported difficulties. He was returning to base when the C130 clipped a 10-story building and crashed just south of Tehran.

In Washington, a special House committee heard emotional testimony today from black survivors of Hurricane Katrina. Of five evacuees who spoke, all but one said that racism was a factor in the slow response to the disaster. Some of the survivors likened themselves to victims of genocide and the holocaust.

While their faces were hidden, their voices disguised, but what they said today could not have been any more clear. To these witnesses, Iraq under Saddam Hussein was a living hell, a place where citizens were rounded up. Women were beaten and electrocuted. Children simply disappeared and were later found dead. Their testimony was heard today in a nine-hour courtroom session in Baghdad, which also included some pointed complaints from the former dictator himself. CNN Senior International Correspondent Nic Robertson was there. He joins us now -- Nic.

NIC ROBERTSON, SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, this was a day when Saddam Hussein at times seemed to be challenging the judge and at times really didn't seem to know where he was going. The judge gave him plenty of time to stand up and speak, plenty of rope, if you will, to hang himself. The biggest outburst coming at the end.

But perhaps the best indication, Saddam Hussein -- watching him come into the courtroom. You can see each time and through the day that he was looking a little more tired, a little more tired. And when he last came in after last recess, looking very tired. And when he stood up to challenge the judge at the end, saying, I don't want to go for another day. I want a break tomorrow. Because the judge was saying Wednesday we're going to hear the last two witnesses. And he said, I've been in the same shirt and the same underwear for three days. I don't want to be in the court tomorrow.

He said essentially, I'm not going to come if there isn't justice. You can all go to hell. You're all American agents, is what he said to the judge. But it was an indication Saddam really sort of getting rattled, sort of unraveling a little bit, if you will -- Anderson.

COOPER: Unraveled indeed. When does court begin again? I mean, it's a couple hours from now, right?

ROBERTSON: Couple of hours. Could be about four hours. Typically 11:00 o'clock. Two witnesses today, it probably could be done fairly early. The last witness yesterday really didn't have a whole lot to say and finally the judge kept telling him, get back on the Dujail story, the issue we're here for in the court, not events that happened before that. So it could go quite quickly. But as we've seen, again, anything can happen. And it's an Iraqi court -- Anderson.

COOPER: And we'll see if Saddam Hussein actually shows up today, as he's threatened not to. Nic Robertson, thanks very much.

Of course, we haven't heard a lot about Saddam Hussein, but this trial is not just about him. There are seven other men sitting in the docks for the former Iraqi leader. Here's a look at some of them.


COOPER: We've all seen the pictures from the courtroom. We thought you might want to know who Saddam's other co-defendants are. Some aren't well-known, but they all allegedly played a role in a massacre in a town called Dujail. (voice-over): First of all, this guy right here, he's Awad Hamed Al-Bander. He's the one who's looking over at Saddam right there. He's the one who issued death sentences against 143 residents of the town of Dujail, after an attempt to assassinate Saddam back in 1982.

Now back here, the guy in the red, who's kind of also looking at Saddam. You notice how everyone is always looking at Saddam? This is Saddam's half brother, Barzan Ibrahim Al-Tikiriti. He's pretty quiet in this picture, but he's prone to shouting in the courtroom. He was Iraq's intelligence chief. He also managed Saddam's Geneva bank accounts for several years.

Now this guy back here, who actually looks like he's asleep in this, but I don't' think he is. He's Taha Yassin Ramadan. He was once a bank clerk, who became Iraq's vice president. So, upward mobility there. He was also known as Saddam's enforcer, punishing anyone who was thought to be disloyal.

There are also a couple of local Baath party officials from Dujail, facing trial with Saddam, including this guy right here. He's Mizher Rawed. This guy laughing back here is Ali Daeem Ali. This guy right here, you can't see -- he's blocked by Saddam's elbow, is Abdullah Ruaid. And this guy back here, if you notice him, is Mohammed Ali and he's actually -- he looks like he's snoring right here. We'll say Z right here for sleeping. He looks like he's asleep in court. Not a good idea.

(on camera): All eight men stand accused of crimes against humanity for the massacre in Dujail. If found guilty, they could face death by hanging.


COOPER: We'll see if Saddam Hussein actually does show up tomorrow in court.

Back home, the story of Hurricane Katrina is being written in so many ways, including a flood of e-mails between state, local and federal authorities in Louisiana. They speak of chaos, infighting, and a lot of frustration. Governor Kathleen Blanco made them public the other day. More than 100,000 pages worth.

John King, our chief national correspondent, has been making his way through them, joins us again tonight. John, what are you finding?

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, more proof of that chaos; and in this case, chaos that affected the effort to get thousands -- thousands of people desperate, needing food, needing water and needing help getting out of New Orleans. Confusion that slowed that. I want to show you some e-mails from some of the governor's top staff.

This is the issue, is buses. It's two days after Katrina hit. On August 31, a top aide to the governor, Ty Brommel, writes this e- mail, saying rural peoples -- rural aid essentially. First thing on our list is buses. While we get buses we can inventory. Buses are needed ASAP. And he urges people to reach out to church organizations, universities, schools, anybody who might have buses.

But then just two and a half hours later, the same gentleman sends out an e-mail in giant letters, saying, NO MORE CALLS FOR BUSES. He's been told by other aides to the governor, they don't need these buses. Again, this is August 31, two days after the storm hit. Thousands of people desperate for transportation.

The very next morning, on September 1, another e-mail from the same gentleman, I want anyone who has a bus to be contacted. We need them now. Coordinate with the staff.

What the governor's staff is saying now is that they were told that the federal government was sending in enough buses, so they essentially stopped the effort to round up buses at the state level. Again, at this moment, Anderson, thousands of people were waiting for help, stranded in New Orleans.

Another example -- we talked a bit last night about how image conscious the governor's staff was and her friends were at this time of crisis. This is from September 2, just a few days after the storm, an e-mail written to one of those top aides by Liz Mangum. Liz Mangum is a lobbyist who once ran one of Governor Blanco's campaigns. Her campaign for lieutenant governor, she writes this. Hey this is my political coming out. Please put KBB -- those are the governor's initials -- Please put KBB in casual clothes, a baseball cap, etc... she needs to visit a shelter in prime time and talk tough, but hug on some folks and be sensitive. She looks tired, but too comfy in her suit. Just some thoughts to try to help. In fact, please put the secretaries in caps and jeans... I don't care if they're out in the field or not...they should look like they are. That again, from an outside consultant to the governor.

Other examples, Anderson, the governor's daughters who live out of state. Among those in the days after, sending their mother e-mails saying we're praying for you, Mom, anything we can do to help.

An almost eerie e-mail from the night before the storm, the governor's own handwritten note. She was at a briefing about the weather, told that this could be a Cat 5 when it hit shore. In her own handwriting, she rights, topping levees can happen.

COOPER: John, it is unbelievable to see those e-mails, especially the first ones about the buses. I mean, you look at the date on that, that was Wednesday. I mean, this storm hit Monday morning. We know already there were no buses to evacuate people outside of the city of New Orleans. They knew 100,000 people didn't have access to cars. They didn't have buses lined up. They didn't have bus drivers lined up. The fact that Wednesday they are still sending out e-mails saying, you know, we need to get buses and then a couple hours later, saying oh no, we don't need any buses. And then the next day they're saying oh yes, we do need buses. It boggles the mind.

KING: It does. And remember, all the finger pointing at the federal government and the federal response, everyone acknowledges, was deficient to say the least. But all the finger pointing -- one of the questions that will now be asked is if you had all these buses, even if you thought FEMA had buses, even if you thought the military was coming in to help, why would you send them away? Why not have extras? Why would you say no? Because based on these documents, that will certainly be one of the questions asked.

COOPER: Well, and we also know, I mean, not to harp on -- just something I continue to harp on, but we also know that on Saturday Amtrak called up the mayor's office in New Orleans, called, talked to their Head of Emergency Preparations Matthews, and offered a 1,000- seat train to get out of New Orleans, for people to get out of New Orleans, a 1,000-seat train. That train left empty because Amtrak was told, no, we don't need that train.

You know, it is fascinating -- how many of these e-mails have you gone through? I mean, there's hundreds of thousands of pages and stuff.

KING: We are making process. A small team of us who are treading through them, and we've gone through several thousand pages. I can't give you a hard count right now. I do want to share one more example with you if you have a second. Mike Brown, of course, was the head of FEMA. He was quite controversial. He was recalled from New Orleans, and then later he left the agency, he was pushed out of the agency.

It was a very interesting e-mail from an aide to the governor on that fateful day, September 9. That was the day Mike Brown was told to come back to Washington, because the president was so disappointed in his performance. And the governor called Andy Carr, the White House Chief of Staff, and here's what she said, I think he's terrific. I didn't have a problem with Mike Brown, but you know the hounds were barking. I just want to call to say thanks to the President for Allen. That is Thad Allen, the Coast Guard vice admiral, who took over the emergency response effort.

Now the governor would say she is being polite, saying I had no problem with Mike Brown. But you can bet, Anderson, anyone running against her in a future campaign, will use that line against her.

COOPER: Well, from one hound to another, John King, thanks very much. And, you know, we'll continue reading these e-mails, because it's just amazing to see the inner-workings of this -- and maybe workings isn't the right word because clearly, a lot of it wasn't working. John King, appreciate it. Keep on the e-mails.

A heartbreaking story ahead tonight -- about a call for help to 911 that just wasn't taken seriously. Two days later, the woman who should have been helped, well, she was found murdered. We'll have that story and you'll hear the tapes yourself.

Also ahead, a coach, father and his football playing son versus the Supreme Court of the State of Oklahoma. An interesting scrimmage with a lot at stake. There's a tape involved. Well, it all boils down to what you see on the tape. We'll show it to you and you can judge for yourself.

Across America and around the world, this is 360.


COOPER: So we did a special a while back about 911 operators and the extraordinarily difficult task they have. Most of the time they do the work incredibly well and lives are saved literally every hour. But sometimes the system doesn't work. There are unanswered calls, responses come too late or mistakes cost people their lives.

Well, this is a story of a cry for help that simply was not taken seriously enough. CNN's Sean Callebs investigates.


SEAN CALLEBS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It was summer 2001. Instead of blowing snow, heat was coming off the asphalt parking lot. Pizza Delivery Man John Chauvin called the Aurora, Colorado police emergency line, believing he was witnessing a carjacking.

DISPATCHER: Aurora 911 is this an emergency?

JOHN CHAUVIN: I believe it is.

DISPATCHER: What's going on?

CHAUVIN: This black guy jumps into this Asian lady's care like she was squealing away from her, and then he parked it in the parking lot still...he's still in the car with her.

CALLEBS: The young woman was 21-year old Lee To Win (ph). Friends and family former fiance, Omar Green, was a threat. Win's mother, Susan DuVall also called 911 after her daughter's co-worker at a salon called and said Green had worked himself into Win's car. This is the response DuVall got.

DISPATCHER: I talked to people there, she was not fighting, she was not screaming, she didn't ask for help, nothing.

SUSAN DUVALL: Right, we don't know where... he has a weapon or what.

DISPATCHER: Is he known to carry a weapon?

DUVALL: I don't know him as to, no, I don't... I just know you know threatening things that he's trying to do to her.

DISPATCHER: I mean, a lot of times they end up making back of together. They end up making up.

DUVALL: Right, well that's not this case.

DISPATCHER: OK, well we don't' know because we haven't talked to her...

DUVALL: I just would like to record it, because I know she fears for her life from him.

CALLEBS: Try as they would, the two callers could not get the dispatcher to accept the sense of urgency, even dismissing attempts to describe what kind of car was involved.

CHAUVIN: OK, would you like the car description?

DISPATCHER: Well, they're -- they're really not, I mean they're not fighting, they're not yelling, they're, they're nothing.

CHAUVIN: He jumped through her window while she was squealing away.

DISPATCHER: OK, well you think they should be fighting or something. I mean, I can have the officers check the area.


DISPATCHER: But that's about -- I mean she'd be fighting or screaming or something if she needed help.

CALLEBS: It turns out Win (ph) had good reason to live in fear. Police found her body two days later. And the ex-fiance, Green, was convicted of the murder.

DUVALL: I knew it was serious. I needed to give her the main concern of this call. Her life was in danger.

CALLEBS: Authorities say the dispatcher, Jeanette Price, was reprimanded. DuVall filed a lawsuit, not against the City of Aurora -- Colorado law prohibits citizens from suing cities. Instead, DuVall's attorneys are going after the dispatcher, saying Price's response allowed Omar Green to kill.

GREGORY GOLD, DUVALL'S ATTORNEY: He's in the car. The tires are screeching. And it's not property. This is humanity that we're dealing with. How much more of an emergency do you want before you send the police when a human's being attacked by another human inside of a vehicle?

CALLEBS: Aurora city attorneys are representing Price and admit her actions were negligent, but stop there. And here's why that's so important. To win the case, DuVall's legal team must prove Price disregarded the emergency calls in a willful and wanton way, disregarding any concern for safety. A big part of the case will be Price's own words.

DISPATCHER: OK, I'll have them check on it but normally if they need help they're going to yell or scream or fight or something.


DISPATCHER: So they may have just been playing around.

CHAUVIN: No, I don't think so. She's...

DISPATCHER: OK, I'll have them check the area, OK?

CHAUVIN: Thank you.


CALLEBS: According to the lawsuit, Price willfully and wantonly failed to send police on an emergency run. The Aurora city attorney says emergency call takers have to make critical judgments under very tight timelines in order to respond, and quote, "Ms. Price utilized her professional judgment and training in an effort to ascertain what would be an appropriate response."

Sean Callebs, CNN, Denver.


COOPER: A horrible story.

Let's check quickly in with Sophia Choi, from "HEADLINE NEWS," for the latest headlines. Hi Sophia.


Well, here you see a lucky man. This unnamed Marine was plucked unharmed, out of the water, four hours after bailing out of his harrier jet, which went down in the Atlantic on a routine training mission off North Carolina. Coast Guard rescuers report the pilot had nothing worse than mild hypothermia, that and yes, a very close call.

Well, 1000 Oaks, California, the man who's legal work was figured prominently in the film, "Erin Brokovich," died today after a lengthy illness. Ed Nazari (ph) was 73.

An anonymous online bidder has committed to pay $609 for a funyun -- that's an onion-flavored snack food. Evidently, shaped like the Virgin Mary and the baby Jesus. The relic was found under his car seat by a man who says he believes it helped him get through law school, pass the bar and land his dream job. And apparently, Anderson, funyuns aren't just lucky, they're also long-lasting.

COOPER: Hmm, I was trying to tilt my head to see that there. All right, Sophia, thanks very much.

An 11-year old Massachusetts girl is on life support. The state and her stepfather are at odds over what to do next. That's the girl. It's a fight for a young girl's life -- or is it? Or is it a plan to avoid a murder charge?

Also, after a fight breaks out, an entire high school football season is forced to take a timeout. A key player's suspension could end his team's playoff hopes. The right call or an overreaction? And why it's all headed to Supreme Court.

You're watching 360.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) COOPER: In Massachusetts, whether or not the state Supreme Court rules that a young girl should be taken off life support, her life is in so many words over. Whatever else happens, her stepmother and grandmother are already dead and her stepfather is suspected of horrible abuse. No happy ending here no matter what, only this -- the possibility of justice, finally, being done.

CNN's Brian Todd investigates.


BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Jason Strickland is fighting desperately to keep his stepdaughter alive and has taken her case to the Massachusetts Supreme Court.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The question is whether or not and how an 11- year old child will die. And there's no question that withdrawing a feeding tube and withdrawing water, you're going to have an awful death by starvation.

TODD: Strickland's attorneys say he has no ulterior motive, but a source close to the case tells CNN if Strickland's stepdaughter, 11- year old Haley Putri (ph), is taken off life support, Strickland could be charged with her murder.

According to a police report relayed to CNN by officials at the District Court in Westfield, Massachusetts, police believe Strickland and his wife, Haley Putri's adoptive stepmother, Holly Strickland, delivered the blows that put Haley in a vegetative state. Police say Haley was the victim of an ongoing pattern of abuse, and that when she was admitted to a western Massachusetts hospital back in September, her injuries included cuts, burns, shearing of her brain-stem and a subdural hematoma, a clot in the brain caused by a severe blow to the head.

Massachusetts Department of Social Services now has temporary custody of Haley and wants to take her off life support. A juvenile court agreed, but Jason Strickland's attorneys are now fighting that ruling.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Strickland, as the stepfather, has information about the child's upbringing, her religious faith, the fact that she received the religious sacraments, and none of that was included in the hearing.

TODD: Meanwhile, police have booked Jason Strickland on five counts of assault and battery. He has yet to be formally charged and has maintained his innocence. The stepmother, Holly Strickland, was found dead, along with her grandmother, some days after Haley Putri (ph) was admitted to the hospital. CNN is told the deaths are being investigated as a possible murder/suicide. Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.


COOPER: A poor little girl. One kid punts, the other is kicked. Why is only one of them being punished? It started as a fight on a football field. We'll show you why it's not a fight being waged before a state's highest court. We'll have that story.

Also tonight, can you imagine spending $200,000 for your child's birthday party? How about $10 million? Some of the amounts these parents are spending on their kids is simply ridiculous -- had nothing to do with football, by the way. They're hiring Ashanti and Aerosmith to come play at a Sweet 16. What are these parents thinking? Next, on 360.


COOPER: A high school football fight is now being fought in court. It is a bizarre story out of Oklahoma. We'll bring it to you in a moment.

First, here's what's happening in this moment.

The trial of Saddam Hussein continues in a few hours in Baghdad. it is unclear the former dictator is even going to show up, though. Earlier he lashed out at the proceedings, saying, quote, "I will not be in a court without justice. Go to hell, all you agents of America."

Meanwhile, the war over Iraq is picking up steam. Howard Dean says the U.S. is making the same mistakes it made during Vietnam and that the idea of winning is just plain wrong. President Bush responded, saying, quote, "I know we're going to win and that we have a strategy that will win." Tomorrow, he unveils more of that strategy.

And in Iraq, insurgents launch a coordinated attack at a Baghdad police academy. Two suicide bombers there killed at least 36 people. More than 70 others were injured.

Now that story out of Oklahoma. What if your child wasn't allowed to do the one thing that he's great at? The one thing that makes him a star in school? Well, if you're the father of an Oklahoma teen, you'd take a stand. For him, that meant taking a stand in court. and what started out as a game, has turned into much, much more. CNN's Ed Lavandera takes a look.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tucker Brown is rolling out.

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It happened in a stadium but this isn't about football, it's about life and playing by the rules. It was almost time to celebrate a playoff victory for the Shawnee High School football team.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just about stealing a victory...

LAVANDERA: But first, this scuffle. Was this a minor infraction as some say. Did you miss it? Look again. Watch how quarterback Tucker Brown takes a knee and is roughly tackled by a high flying linebacker. Brown kicks back and is then pushed by another player.

If you were the referee, what would be your call? The referee at the game ejected Brown and the player who pushed him. They've been suspended for two games. For Tucker Brown, that might end his chance a leading his team to a state championship. Danny Rennels is responsible for handing out the punishment.

DANNY RENNELS, SECONDARY SCHOOLS REFEREE ASSOC.: The young man did what he did. He violated the rule and consequently there are punishments that go along with that violation. And our rule is the two-game suspension.

BILLY BROWN, SHAWNEE HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL COACH: You know, you talk about a kid who has prepared his whole life to playing a game of this magnitude, in the semifinals game. And because a guy come an attacks him, he retaliates, and it was a -- you've seen the kick, it wasn't a malicious, I'm going to kill you kind of kick, it was a reaction. For him to lose all that he's worked for his whole life because of that? Yeah, I think there is something wrong with the rule.

LAVANDERA: That's the Shawnee High School football coach. He's also Tucker's father. Coach Brown also complains that a player on the other team, Jermaine Holmes threw a punch on the previous play, but wasn't punished the way his son was.

An attorney has volunteered to try to get Brown's two-game suspension delayed until next season. The case now sits before Oklahoma Supreme Court.

(on camera): This sit he rule book, which states, that a student who engages in flagrant or unsportsmanlike-like conduct consisting of fighting will be suspended for the next two regularly scheduled games. This fight boils down to what your definition of the word "regular" is.

(voice-over): Rules officials say regularly is clearly defined several sentences later, where the book says the rule applies to regular season and playoff games, but Brown's attorney argues that line refers to a different rule and says Brown should be suspended only for regular season games.

TERRY WEST, BROWN'S ATTORNEY: Of course, this was a playoff game we were in and the next two games were playoff games, so we feel he shouldn't be suspended now. Should be suspended next year.

LAVANDERA: The playoffs are on hold while the state supreme court decides whether to let Tucker Brown back on the field this season.

So the people who could be deciding the fate of Shawnee High School's next football game won't be wearing zebra stripes, they'll be wearing robes.

Ed Lavandera, CNN, Dallas.


COOPER: So the question is who is playing by the rules here and who is not. For answers I talked to CNN Legal Analyst Jeffrey Toobin and the Ethics Guy Bruce Weinstein, author of "Life Principles: Feeling Good by Doing Good". Bruce Weinstein joined me earlier.


COOPER: So, Bruce, a lot of people say well this guy, Tucker Brown, broke the rules, he kicked a player, why shouldn't he be suspended?

BRUCE WEINSTEIN, THE ETHICS GUY: Actions have consequences and in fact, he should be suspended because there is one thing to say, the letter of the law, might allow him to play in the playoffs, but the spirit of the law clearly suggests that when you engage in unsportsmanlike conduct, as he did, he should be punished. That would be the just outcome in this case.

COOPER: But the father is saying this law is not being applied equally, that this guy Holmes, committed a foul and nothing happened to him.

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SR. LEGAL ANALYST: This is exactly the kind of thing that happens in football, basketball games all the time. The retaliation gets punished when the initial offense sometimes doesn't get punished. And you know what? Suck it up, you gotta deal with it. That's exactly what happens in sports.

COOPER: Is that a legal term, by the way?

TOOBIN: Suck it up -- yeah, I was in the Supreme Court today, in fact, and Chief Justice Roberts was saying -- no! It' is not exactly a technical legal term. But it's true. This is a classic sports problem. And it is a classic kind of dispute that needs to be settled on the field, not in a courtroom.

COOPER: But these things are increasingly being settled in the courtroom.

TOOBIN: Well, I mean, welcome to America. I mean, that is -- you know, that is an unfortunate tendency. And you know, how -- look, my kid plays soccer, my daughter plays field hockey. I know the passions involved here. But you know, you just have got to keep it on the field, not in the --

COOPER: But, Bruce, what do you say to the father? Shouldn't all these things be judged equally? If somebody has assaulted you on the field? The father says, look, it wasn't the right thing to do, but you have to pay attention to that initial assault.

WEINSTEIN: Well, the ironic thing is that a just outcome in this case would be for Tucker Brown, as well as the other kids involved in the milieu to be punished. Because all three were engaged in unsportsmanlike conduct.

TOOBIN: But only one of them is in the state championship, so it is irrelevant about the others.

WEINSTEIN: That's a technicality.

TOOBIN: Not to him.

WEINSTEIN: Well, but from an ethical perspective, if you engage in unsportsmanlike conduct by retaliating, by punching, you don't return aggression with aggression, on the field or off.

COOPER: So, solely from an ethical perspective, you cannot take into account the actions that preceded the kick?

WEINSTEIN: Well, no, because it is unethical, it is wrong, and it is unsportsmanlike to kick, to retaliate, to punch, your fellow player. That is simply bad sportsmanlike behavior. And if you do that and you know that you're going to be punished for it, you have to -- as Jeff says -- suck it up and accept the consequences.

COOPER: Are you surprised that the Oklahoma state supreme court is hearing this case?

TOOBIN: Well, not really, because my sense is I think they're going to send a message that we don't want to do this anymore. We want to keep this out of the courts and this case is a good vehicle for saying, look, you know, Mr. Brown, I'm sorry about your problem. I'm sorry about your son, but we have to leave this to the, you know, high school sports authorities, not to the state courts.

COOPER: What do you think? You think that's going to happen?

TOOBIN: I would be shocked if they reinstated the case.

WEINSTEIN: Well, in fact, in Texas there is a mediating body that is in between the high school athletics level and the court level, that looks at these kinds of cases and that would be the best option.

COOPER: And the father says, pointed that out, and said look that is what we should have here. I feel strongly about this case. That has not happened here.

TOOBIN: Why should you have this gigantic structure of appeals boards and mediating levels? You know what? That's part of sports. The ref makes a call. Tough luck. Don't make a federal case out of it.

WEINSTEIN: Well, in fact, I grew up in Texas, and I know that, perhaps like some of your viewers do not, that football, in particular and sports in general, in Texas and Oklahoma and the South, is close to a spiritual experience. There is something that goes beyond just normal game-like behavior. And football is imbued with almost a religious quality and it is really --

TOOBIN: All the more reason to keep it out of the courts.

WEINSTEIN: Well, yes, that would be the best outcome of this case. Absolutely, yes.

TOOBIN: I mean, that's -- that's, you know the ref is the pope.


TOOBIN: You know, the end of the story.


COOPER: Coming up next on 360, for some parents the watch word seems to be party till you drop a bundle. A big bundle, parents spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on their kids' sweet-sixteen parties. Is it really a good idea? Couldn't the money be spent some better way? We'll take a look at what these parents are up to.

And one of America's greatest party animals, a new look back at John Belushi tells us what made him such a force of nature and what may have lead to his desperate end.


COOPER: So if you want to see your favorite celebrity you don't have to go to a movie or a concert these days. They may be showing up at a kids party near you. More and more families are paying mega bucks, and I mean, mega-mega bucks, to bring some star studded names to their children's galas. All that's needed is a checkbook and a hefty balance in the bank.

Question is, is it really money well spent? CNN's Jason Carroll has more on some extreme entertaining.


JASON CARROLL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): It's a whole new venue for old school rockers like Aerosmith and A list R&B talent like Ashanti. And it's all been created by parents willing to spend whatever it takes to make their child's party un-top-able.

ASHANTI: You're a great kid. And be nice to Mommy tonight if things aren't perfect.

CARROLL: Why shouldn't she be nice? Amber Ritenger's (ph) parents flew Ashanti and rapper Ja Rule (ph) to perform at their 13- year-old daughter's half a million dollar party.

JA RULE: I'm really only here like to scare away the little boys.

CARROLL: MTV help set the trend ...


CARROLL: ... building a reality series, "My Super Sweet 16", showcasing extravagant teen parties. Then BRAVO got into the act with its own reality series, "Party/Party".

ANDREW COHEN, BRAVO, V.P. PRODUCTION & PROGRAMMING: I think kids today are taking a cue from the culture around them. And they're seeing a lot of Hollywood and access and celebrity on TV and they want to be a part of it.

CARROLL: "Party/Party" profiles 16 families profiling, you guessed it, parties. One episode features the Schwartzs.

CAROL-ANN ROSS, ANNABEL'S MOTHER: You know, in the long run, I think both of us would agree that it has been an amazingly bonding experience for us. It's been actually fantastic.

You need to do an envelope for him.

CARROLL: That's the long run, but in the short term planning Annabel's coming of age celebration, her Bat Mitzvah, hasn't been easy even for Carol-Ann Schwartz, who happens to be a professional party planner.

ROSS: I'm just busy in a meeting.

CARROLL: She says her daughter has been her toughest client.

ROSS: Very demanding, very frustrating, impossible.

ANNABEL SCHWARTZ, $200,000 BAT MITZVAH: I'm her daughter, I'm supposed to be.

CARROLL: Annabel's plan, transform Manhattan's swanky Hammerstein Ballroom into a night club.

SCHWARTZ: It has been quite hard because she is my mother. She's not my employee.


SCHWARTZ: So, it's not like I can just say, go do this or that. You know, I have to like give her a little bit of respect, a little.

CARROLL: Respect comes at a high price. The cost for Annabel's bash? $200,000.

ROSS: It's a god-awful amount of money to spend. It is a lifetime of memories, I hope.

CARROLL: Annabel's 17-year-old sister doesn't understand the need for it all.

KATHERINE-ANNE SCHWARTZ, ANNABEL'S SISTER: I've never been really a part of like this huge deal kind of thing.

CARROLL: That includes the drama over wardrobe.

ROSS: This is mom's dress.

K. SCHWARTZ: You're kidding?

CARROLL (on camera): That's great.

ROSS: What do you mean, I'm kidding?

K. SCHWARTZ: You're not wearing that shirt.

ROSS: I certainly am.

K. SCHWARTZ: No, you're not.

ROSS: Why?

K. SCHWARTZ: You're not.

ROSS: Why not?


ROSS: I think my outfit is terribly appropriate.


K. SCHWARTZ: There you go. Terribly appropriate.

CARROLL (voice over): Much less drama surrounding Annabel's dress.

A. SCHWARTZ: This is the party dress. I have another dress, but it's not here. It's with my stylist.

CARROLL: Stylist? At 12? That's just the beginning. And 200,000 grand also gets you a hip-hop dance ensemble, a singing drag queen, neon rollerbladers, a black light club section, for Annabel and a ton of hugs and kisses from grateful kids and adults lucky enough to be invited.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is the most beautiful exquisite, nicest party I've been to.

A. SCHWARTZ: Everyone told me it was an amazing party. I just -- I was so happy that everyone came over and said, I had such a great time at your party.

CARROLL: The party turns out to be a hit, but some psychologists say the real cost might be measured in more than money.

KENNETH CONDRELL, CHILD PSYCHOLOGIST: I think its wonderful to celebrate, but when you go to such extravagant means, it's a false value about what life is all about.

CARROLL (on camera): Was it all worth it?

ROSS: Yes, it was totally worth it. Yes. I'd do it again next week.

CARROLL: Maybe not next week, but Annabel's Sweet Sixteen, is just four years away.

A. SCHWARTZ: I don't think it will be as good as my Bat Mitzvah, not will except my wedding (INAUDIBLE), which you are going to have a lot of fun doing.

CARROLL: Thirteen going on $200,000. Jason Carroll, CNN, New York.


COOPER: Man, let's put all that cash in perspective for a moment. The extravagant parties, of course, are only for the rich, since the median household income last year, before taxes, was $44,389. And they're dropping $200,000 for a party.

Sophia Choi from Headline News joins us for the other stories we're following right now.

Hey, Sophia.


A Maryland arsonist gets nearly 20 years in prison. In September Patrick Walsh was found guilty of master-minding an arson spree last year that destroyed or damaged dozens of homes under construction outside of Washington. He got the maximum sentence today. Two others involved in the crime were also sent to prison, but for less time.

In Cardiness (ph), Cuba, a party of Elian Gonzales. President Fidel Castro was on hand to mark the boy's 12th birthday. It's been six years since the international custody battle over Elian, who had been found off the coast of Florida, but ended up with is father in Cuba.

Castro today said that battle sparked Cuba's return to the roots of its socialist revolution.

In New Orleans, a village for musicians, today, jazz artist Branford Marsalis (ph), along with Habitat For Humanity, unveiled a plan to build a community within New Orleans for blues and jazz artists who fled the city because of Hurricane Katrina. Fellow New Orleans native Harry Connick, Jr., is also backing the plan, which would initially offer 100 housing units around a study and performing center.

And in Chestnut Hill Township, Pennsylvania, a black bear chooses to hibernate under a porch. Folks in the community had suspected a bear was around after trash cans were tampered with, but it wasn't found until Sunday when two children came across it. Wildlife officers are planning to relocate that bear now.

I guess, Anderson, it's a good thing that bear didn't wake up grumpy, huh?

COOPER: Certainly is. Sophia, thanks.

CHOI: Yeah.

COOPER: Coming up, John Belushi, he'd be 56 years old today. Tonight 23 years after he died, who was the real John Belushi. We're going to hear from his widow, Judith, and his friend and partner, Dan Aykroyd.

From New York, just up the street from SNL, this is 360.







COOPER: When John Belushi made that movie Bob Woodward was the pre-eminent investigative reporter of his time, perhaps of all time. We'll tell you Mr. Woodward no longer enjoys the newly universal acclaim he once did. He's under fire for his role in the Valerie Plame affair. But long before that he took a series of hits for "Wired", his book about the life and death of John Belushi. Now, with the publication of a new biography, co-written by Mr. Belushi's widow, Judith, those hits are coming again.


COOPER (voice over): At 30 John Belushi was a household name. He was a star on "Saturday Night Live".

JOHN BELUSHI: Look, cheeseburger, cheeseburger, cheeseburger...

COOPER: Then, the number one late-night television show in the country. And he had a major hit with "Animal House", then the highest grossing comedy film.

But behind the camera, behind the fame, Belushi's life was spinning out of control. For years he'd struggled with addiction to booze, to coke, he couldn't kick the habit, despite the best efforts of his wife, Judy and his best friend, Dan Aykroyd.

DAN AYKROYD, ACTOR, BELUSHI FRIEND: Addictions are really strange, strange, thing. One, you can have it for cigarettes.


AYKROYD: You can have for, you know. And John just, you know he had --

KING: What was his addiction?

AYKROYD: It was for cocaine. Yeah, he liked to blow and we flushed a lot of it down the toilet.

COOPER: Belushi could always find more drugs. In Los Angeles, early one March morning, in 1982, his body was discovered in a bungalow at the Chateau Marmon.

DAYRL GATES, CHIEF, LAPD: It clearly looked like an overdose and it was our -- the investigator's judgment that overdoes appeared to be cocaine and probably injected.

COOPER: He was killed by a lethal dose of heroin and cocaine, a speed ball. The fatal speed ball was injected by Cathy Smith, an LA hanger on. Smith served three years in prison for manslaughter and drug offenses, after she sold her story to the tabloids.

Bob Woodward chronicled Belushi's descent into the world of drugs in 1984 in "Wired", a book which angered many of Belushi's friends and family.

JUDITH BELUSHI PISANO, JOHN BELUSHI'S WIDOW: It wasn't really a portrait of John. It was a portrait of a drug addict. I think he showed how -- what someone goes through. But it really wasn't about John. When I read it, it felt like someone else.

BOB WOODWARD, AUTHOR, "WIRED": I think these cries of protest and distress are coming from the people who realize they could have saved him. They probably had, over the course of the last seven or eight years of Belushi's life, 10,000 opportunities to intervene in a dramatic way and handcuff him, get him committed, get some sort of professional assistance for him, that might have saved his life.

COOPER: But was the book accurate? In one section Woodward recounts a fight director John Landis had with Belushi, when he discovered him high on a movie set.

Woodward writes, quote, "Landis made a tight fist, reeled back, and his John square in the face. John didn't get up and at first he didn't move. Then he lowered his head and burst into tears. 'I'm so ashamed. So, so ashamed.' He rose, trembling, and threw his arms around Landis. 'Please understand.'

Landis, however, denies the punch ever happened. Saying, quote, "The interesting thing is that passage in the book is incredibly detailed. The only two people in that trailer were me and John. John is dead. And I never told that story to Bob Woodward."

COOPER: Woodward declined our request for comment, but did say this, in 1984.

WOODWARD: I obviously think it is not a sensational portrait. It is a realistic one, it's a truthful one. It was honestly done. Unfortunately, he died at the end. It's got a -- not a very happy ending.

COOPER: Belushi's life did have many happy moments, however. And his widow has just published a new book. "Belushi: An Intimate Look At the Life of A Remarkable Man; A comic genius who deserves to be remembered for more than just the way he died."


COOPER: I spoke with Belushi's widow, Judith Belushi Pisano and Dan Aykroyd earlier.


COOPER: Why did you want to write a book about Belushi now?

JUDITH BELUSHI PISANO, JOHN BELUSHI'S WIDOW: Well, it wasn't so much as I planned to do it now, as that I had started working with these -- on an oral biography of John that I was videoing, the year after he died. Then I turned 50 -- which is a couple of years ago now -- I got to this point where I was thinking, you know, I just wanted to look at what I needed to get out of -- you know, off my -- the baggage out of the way.

COOPER: Right.

PISANO: And I had all these tapes still. And I got -- it was the Rugged Land Press and they hooked me up with Tanner Colby, my co- writer. And when he started looking at the transcripts from these tapes, he just said, these are such great stories and we can put them together and make them work as a biography.

COOPER: I got the sense there was also desire to give a full portrait of John Belushi's life.

PISANO: Definitely. Yes.

COOPER: Not just -- I mean, I had read the Woodward book years ago, because I'm a big fan of Belushi's. And I mean that seemed a very narrow view.


COOPER: To say the least.



COOPER: Yeah, it was -- it focused on the worst parts of addiction, rather than what made him so remarkable.

PISANO: Yes, I did. I just wanted to -- I felt I owed it to the people who had taken the time to talk to Woodward, and his family, and to the fans. To get something out there that would really represent him.

COOPER: Did he know how funny he was? I mean, did he know, how talented he was?

AYKROYD: I think so, because, you know, he realized this is what I know how to do. This is the only thing that I can do and these are the skills that I have and this is what I want to do. I think he had a -- he had a pretty fair assess of his own gift, yeah.

PISANO: He knew he could either move furniture or be an actor.

COOPER: You know, often, I think when someone dies it is hard to look at -- especially if it ended in a terrible way, in a tragic way -- it is hard to look at their life without looking at that. How do you look at that now?

PISANO: I think doing the book I could really encapsulate it and see, that even though it ended tragically that is -- it does bring a weight to it that it wouldn't had, had he kicked drugs and moved on. He did die from drugs. And that's, you know, in that regard it is a cautionary tale. But when I look at his life I can see that he really had a good life and that he did so much. And he really had a lot of goals and he reached a lot of them.

COOPER: Dan, what do you think this book does that he Woodward book didn't?

AYKROYD: It's a portrait of a typical American alpha male from Illinois. And his --

COOPER: He was an alpha male, yeah.

AYKROYD: Yeah. And his sweetheart and eventually his wife and their relationship. It's a reflection of a multiplicity of friends who worked with him and family insights as well.

COOPER: Do you feel that the portrait that was out there was unfair?

AYKROYD: Well, it was from one angle and yeah, it dismissed all the creative joy of John's life and the success that we had and the hard work that went into it. And it just went right to the death and the drug story, really.


COOPER: That, of course, was Dan Aykroyd and John's widow, Judith.

More of 360 in a moment. Stay with us.


COOPER: Thanks for watching 360. Larry King is next.


© 2007 Cable News Network.
A Time Warner Company. All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines. Contact us. Site Map.
Offsite Icon External sites open in new window; not endorsed by
Pipeline Icon Pay service with live and archived video. Learn more
Radio News Icon Download audio news  |  RSS Feed Add RSS headlines