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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES

Myth and Reality: The Tillman Story; Trading Punches; Right to Religion; Stop Snitchin'

Aired April 24, 2007 - 23:00   ET

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


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Remember Private Jessica Lynch? Well she was the young soldier taken prisoner then rescued in the early days of the war in Iraq. You may remember this video. You may also remember the story of her capture, how she fired until her ammo ran out, then was shot and stabbed by her captors. Turned out it was just a story. And today on Capitol Hill she said so and accused the Pentagon of cooking it up.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JESSICA LYNCH, FORMER POW: At my parents' home in Wirt County, West Virginia, it was under staged by media, all repeating the story of the little girl Rambo from the hills of West Virginia who went down fighting. It was not true. I have repeatedly said, when asked, that if the stories about me helped inspire our troops and rally a nation, then perhaps there was some good.

However, I'm still confused as to why they chose to lie and tried to make me a legend when the real heroes of my fellow soldiers that day were legendary.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Private Lynch, setting the record straight. She's lucky enough to be able to do it in person. Army Ranger Pat Tillman, killed by friendly fire in Afghanistan, is not.

Today his brother and his buddy spoke for him. Details on that from CNN's Jamie McIntyre.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN SENIOR PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The congressional hearing featured a video replay of the big lie, the phony account of Pat Tillman's heroism given at his memorial service.

SENIOR CHIEF STEPHEN WHITE, U.S. NAVY: Pat sacrificed himself so his brothers could live.

I'm the guy that told America how he died, basically, at that memorial, and it was incorrect.

MCINTYRE: That Navy SEAL says he relied on Tillman's largely fictitious Silver Star citation, which said Tillman died engaging the enemy, instead of from friendly fire. No one admits writing the inflated account, but this is what really happened to Pat Tillman. Tillman's platoon was on a mission in eastern Afghanistan, along the Pakistan border. His platoon was trying to flush out enemy Taliban or al Qaeda fighters.

CNN took these Army topographic maps of the location where Pat Tillman was killed and independently created the first detailed television animation of what happened to Tillman and the Army Rangers that day.

The platoon's problems began with a broken down humvee which had to be towed by a local truck and was slowing the platoon.

The platoon was split into two groups on orders of a commander at a base far away, according to Army documents. The split was ordered over the objections of the platoon leader. There was a concern back at the base that the broken humvee was causing unacceptable delays to the mission.

CNN Military Analyst Retired Brigadier General David Grange has commanded rangers himself and also lost a soldier to friendly fire.

GEN. DAVID L. GRANGE, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Here you had the senior guy on the ground saying I don't want to split my force. Someone that's not there on the ground, but in a radio in a tactical operation center saying, split it. You know, do you take the word of the guy on the ground or not? You know, usually the guy on the ground knows what's going on.

MCINTYRE: Corporal Tillman was with the first group that pressed on, moving safely through a deep canyon and arriving at a small village.

The second group with the humvee in tow included Tillman's younger brother, Kevin, who also enlisted with Pat after September 11th.

That second convoy, led by the truck towing the broken humvee, followed a different route, but found the terrain too rugged. So they backtracked and followed the first group deep into the narrow canyon.

Though they were just a half hour back, the first group was unaware the second group was coming up behind them. In the canyon, the second group was ambushed from above by enemy fighters.

GRANGE: There was confusion in the force. People were scared. Very restricted terrain. Sun's going down. A lot of shadows. So the light is not dark enough to use night vision goggles, but it's in between.

MCINTYRE: To add to the confusion, in the deep canyon the two groups lost radio contact. But Pat Tillman's group heard the gunfire back in the canyon and turned back to help.

Tillman, as described in his silver star citation, showed great courage under fire in leading a small rifle team, including an Afghan soldier, to the top of the ridge to engage the enemy. Down below, a humvee armed with a .50 caliber machine gun and four soldiers with other weapons, pulled out from behind the truck and broken humvee. As they emerged from the canyon, the soldiers in the vehicle were firing with an abandoned that one Army investigator would later say demonstrated gross negligence.

The soldiers would later say they thought the enemy was all around them. As they fired in all directions, they began hitting U.S. troops.

Down in the village the platoon leader was hit in the face and another soldier shot in the leg.

From Tillman's position up on the ridge came anguished cries of alarm.

First, the friendly Afghan soldier was shot and killed by the soldiers in the Ranger vehicle. The soldier standing alongside Tillman described what he witnessed in a sworn statement.

A vehicle with a .50 cal. rolled into our site and started to unload on top of us. Tillman and I were yelling, stop, stop, friendlies, friendlies, cease-fire! But they couldn't hear us.

But now, testifying at the Congressional hearing, that same Ranger, who was with Tillman when he was killed, says his firsthand account was changed and that he was ordered to keep quiet, not even to tell Tillman's brother, Kevin, a fellow Ranger, the truth.

SPECIALIST BRYAN O'NEAL, U.S. ARMY RANGER: I wanted right off the bat to let the family know what had happened, especially Kevin, because I worked with him in the platoon and I knew that him and the family both needed or all need to know what had happened. And I was quite appalled that when we were -- I was able -- actually able to speak with Kevin, I was ordered not to tell him what happened, sir.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You were ordered not to tell them?

O'NEAL: Roger that, sir.

MCINTYRE: Kevin Tillman, who served with Pat in Afghanistan, believes the worst, that it was deliberate deception, with a crass P.R. motive.

KEVIN TILLMAN, PAT TILLMAN'S BROTHER: And we believe the strategy had the intended effect, it shifted the focus from the grotesque torture at Abu Ghraib and a downward spiral of an illegal act of aggression to a great American who died a hero's death.

MARY TILLMAN, PAT TILLMAN'S MOTHER: Our family will never be satisfied. We'll never have Pat back. But what is so outrageous is this isn't about Pat. This is about what they did to Pat and what they did to a nation.

REP. HENRY WAXMAN (D), GOVERNMENT OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: What we have is a very clear, deliberate abuse intentionally done. Why is it so hard to find out who did it? Why is it so hard to find out who's responsible and to hold them accountable, Mr. Gimble?

THOMAS GIMBLE, ACTING DOD INSPECTOR GENERAL: We believe that we did find out who's accountable. It's going to be up to the Army to determine what to do with it.

MCINTYRE (on camera): What the Army has done is fault nine officers, including four generals, but none face criminal charges. And what four separate investigations have failed to answer is the key question -- who started the lie? And why?

Jamie McIntyre, CNN, the Pentagon.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Well, also on Capitol Hill today, the vice president versus the Senate majority leader. The topic was Iraq. The tone was anything but peaceful. Raw material for tonight's edition of "Raw Politics."

CNN's Tom Foreman has more.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Anderson, be careful what you ask for. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid says the war is lost unless the president comes up with a new plan. So, the new plan -- attack Reid.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The American people did not vote for failure. That is precisely what the Democratic leadership's bill would guarantee.

DICK CHENEY, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And the timetable legislation that he is now pursuing would guarantee defeat.

FOREMAN: The vice president threw that punch outside the Senate where Reid normally stands. Insiders note, taking a man's microphone in this town is a low blow, so the Dems are hitting back.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The president sends out his attack dog, often that's also known as Dick Cheney.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, Mr. President, I have a message for you -- the only thing that's emboldening the enemy is your failed policy.

FOREMAN: Before the showdown, the V.P. was in and out of the hospital again for a checkup on that clot in his leg.

Congressman Dennis Kucinich has a prescription -- impeachment.

CONGRESSMAN DENNIS KUCINICH (D), OHIO: The vice president actively and systematically sought to deceive the citizens and the Congress of the United States.

FOREMAN: But capitol wisdom says the impeachment plan, like Kucinich's presidential campaign, is going nowhere. The White House staff was caught off guard by news of new probe of Presidential Adviser Karl Rove. According to sources, the Republican-led office of special counsel will see if Rove illegally used tax money to promote Republican campaigns.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We'll be fair. We'll be impartial. And we'll be thorough.

FOREMAN: And remember Hillary Clinton down in Selma?

REP. HILLARY CLINTON (D), NEW YORK: I don't feel no ways tired.

FOREMAN: No ways? No way! Well, she's once again comparing herself to a black leader. This time, saying she'll fight for the White House like Harriet Tubman fought for freedom. I don't know.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(on camera): African-American voters still generally like her, but there are rumblings that with Barack Obama in the race, some support among black leaders in New York is crumbling.

That's "Raw Politics" -- Anderson.

COOPER: Tom, thanks.

Up next, faith under fire. Faith that is hiding in plain sight.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER (voice-over): The battle over burying warriors and what some call a symbol of witchcraft.

ROBERTA STEWART, WIDOW OF WICCAN SOLDIER: If I was a witch, I wouldn't have had to spend 14 months fighting the government. I would have been able to cast a spell to complete this issue.

COOPER: The issue? This symbol. Question: What do you know about the Wiccan religion? We'll take you inside, ahead on 360.

He says the message is killing our kids. He says don't blame the messenger. Russell Simmons, Geoffrey Canada, two passionate voices, one vital issue. Your decision, when 360 continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER (on camera): That is video of a Wiccan ceremony. It's a faith that's been tied to a battle for nearly a decade. It's finally ended with the U.S. government backing down.

The Bush administration has agreed to allow the symbol of the Wiccan religion to be displayed on gravestones in military cemeteries.

The Pentagon estimates there are more than 1,800 Wiccans serving in the military.

The question is, why have they waited so long for the religious freedom other veterans enjoy?

With the debate, here's CNN's Randi Kaye.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): September 25th, two years ago, Sergeant Patrick Stewart was killed in action. His Chinook helicopter shot down in Afghanistan. But long after he was buried, the Nevada National Guard member's gravesite is still without a marker -- just a rock and some small American flags.

ROBERTA STEWART, WIDOW OF WICCAN SOLDIER: Every time I pass it, I just -- it breaks my heart to know that my husband is a blank spot.

KAYE: A blank spot, Stewart's widow, Roberta, says because of the stigma attached to their religion. She and her husband practiced Wicca a pre-Christian religion wrongly criticized as being associated with devil worship.

Some of its followers engage in rituals like chanting in the nude.

STEWART: I feel I was totally discriminated against.

KAYE (on camera): Even thought Sgt. Stewart faithfully served his country and died doing it, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs refused to allow his family and nearly a dozen others to express their faith in a military cemetery.

Until this week, when a settlement was reached, the Wiccan pentacle was not one of the 38 religious symbols approved by the V.A. and provided by the military.

(voice-over): Could it be because most Americans view Wiccans as witches?

STEWART: If I was a witch, I wouldn't have had to spend 14 months fighting the government. I would have been able to cast a spell to complete this issue.

KAYE: The stigma reaches all the way to the White House.

In 1999, then-Texas Governor George W. Bush said this to ABC in response to the military allowing Wicca soldiers to worship.

BUSH: I don't think witchcraft is a religion. I would hope the military officials would take a second look at the decision they made.

KAYE: Wiccan High Priestess Selena Fox is seeing more people in their late teens to early 30s practicing Wicca.

SELENA FOX, WICCAN HIGH PRIESTESS: And harm none, do what you will, is our golden rule. We seek to do no harm to others and to live in harmony. We do not worship the devil. We do not practice evil. We are law-abiding, nature-loving people. KAYE: Fox admits some Wiccans do view themselves as witches, but don't practice black magic. As she tells it, Wicca has its roots in old Europe, but has reemerged as an environmental religion. The five points on the Wiccan pentacle -- earth, water, air, fire and spirit.

FOX: We see ourselves living in community with other life forms.

KAYE: Wiccans don't pray to a god in the traditional sense, but to a great oneness, and see themselves as part of the circle of nature. When they die, they believe their souls return to spirit, then to life in another form. If that's true, when Sergeant Patrick returns, he may find the religious freedom he'd been fighting for.

STEWART: My husband was a military man and to have the country deny him the rights that he went and fought for and died for has been a tremendous burden on my family and it just breaks my heart.

KAYE: And the Wiccan pentacle in place of this old rock.

Randi Kaye, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Interesting story.

Just ahead on 360, new concerns tonight that the chemical caused the pet food scare, that chemical could be in the food you eat. We're going to have the latest on the investigation.

But first, a crime committed. A lot of witnesses at the scene, perhaps as many as 25, but no one says a word and the criminal gets away. Why? The answer may be in the music your kids are listening to, next on 360.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: That was the crime scene in February of 2006 outside a sound stage in Brooklyn, where 29-year-old Israel Ramirez was gunned down. He was working as a bodyguard for rap music star Busta Rhymes. And police say more than two dozen people may have witnessed his murder, including Busta Rhymes, but no one, not a single person has come forward, including Busta Rhymes.

It is a code of silence that's become the norm in many inner cities where the message to stop snitchin' is a powerful one.

The message is fuelled by rap and hip-hop music. It is promoted by major corporations. And -- who want their artists to maintain street cred.

In a moment, we're going to hear from some major voices on the issue. But first, part of my report for "CBS News's 60 Minutes."

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GEOFFREY CANADA, PRESIDENT & CEO, HARLEM CHILDREN'S ZONE, INC.: When I was growing up, kids used to talk about snitching. It never extended, as a cultural norm, outside of the gangsters. It was not for regular citizens. It is now a cultural norm that is being preached in poor communities.

COOPER (voice-over): Geoffrey Canada is a nationally recognized educator and anti-violence advocate who has been working with children in Harlem for more than 20 years.

CANADA: People are walking around with shirts. People are going out making -- making music. People are saying things that, if you're a snitch, it's like being an Uncle Tom was when I was growing up. It's like, you can't be a black person if you have a set of values that say, I will not watch crime happen in my community without getting involved to stop it.

COOPER: Rap Star Cameron Giles, known as Cam'ron or Killa Cam, got shot in both arms in 2005. The shooting occurred in front of members of Cam'ron's entourage, but to this day, neither they, nor he, have cooperated with police.

(on camera): Is there any situation where you think it's OK to talk to the police?

CAMERON GILES, RAPPER: Yes, definitely. Say, hello. How you feel? Everything all right? Period.

COOPER: That's it?

GILES: There's nothing really anything to talk about with the police. I mean, for what?

COOPER: If there is a serial killer living next door to you, though, and you know that person is, you know, killing people, would you be a snitch if you called police and told them?

GILES: If I knew the serial killer was living next door to me?

COOPER: Yes.

GILES: No, I wouldn't -- I wouldn't call and tell anybody on him, but I would probably move. But I'm not going to call and be like, you know, the serial killer is in 4-E.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Well, as you just heard, Geoffrey Canada is passionate about this issue. He wants to find a way to break the hole that the "Stop Snitchin'" movement has over inner city youth.

I talked to him again earlier today.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Let's talk about snitching. This notion that if you -- I mean, it used to be a snitch was a criminal who was ratting out another criminal to get a lesser sentence. It's now no longer that. CANADA: Yes, it's become -- what snitching now means is that any citizen -- you don't have to be involved in it. You could be a straight person, obey the law every day, love your family, love your country, go to church. If you see a crime, and you decide you're going to report that crime, then you're a snitch.

And they are trying to turn this into a cultural norm. Now, I've had people -- this is one area I have had people come back to me and say, come on, Geoff, you know, snitching was always bad in the black community. That is not true. That is not true.

There was a certain level of order that always existed in the black community and people were always prepared to go and work with the police to keep our communities organized.

What you allow to have happen when you eliminate any connection between the community and the police force, you allow criminals to literally get away with murder. You allow people to come into communities, kill other black people -- these are black men killing other black men, and mo one says anything. And you know what happens? That it means that you killed my friend, so now I'm not going to get any justice, so I have come kill you. Then your friends have to come kill me. Then my brother -- and it just goes on and on and on. That's the pathway to destruction.

COOPER: But there are those who say, and I heard Russell Simmons say it on a show, that, you look, there's always been distrust of the police and that this idea of don't be a snitch comes from that distrust of the police. That when you have a heavy police presence, when you have what is perceived to be injustice and an unequal police response against African-Americans, you're going to have people not want to cooperate with the police.

CANADA: Here's the contradiction in this, as African-Americans, we know when we have a problem that needs to be dealt with. There are people who are perfectly prepared to go on and take on the police, challenge them to lead marches and demonstrations so that we can try and get justice for African-American people.

This issue of snitching has come straight from the penitentiary. This is really about sanctioning criminal behavior. This is not political. If I see you murder somebody, if I know that you have raped somebody, that I am not going to call anyone and I'm going to let you get away with that so that my community continues to become a place that's infested with crime and criminal behavior.

That was never part of the original, I think, contract we had as African-Americans growing up in our community.

COOPER: And that's what it is...

(CROSSTALK)

CANADA: This is new.

COOPER: Are you worried talking about this? CANADA: I have...

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: Are you worried about being labeled a snitch?

CANADA: I have been cautious about what I've said. I have decided that, whatever risk is involved in this, it's worth taking. I'm not going to be silly about it. A lot of people have been very worried about the fact that I've been vocal and have said something about this -- my family, my son, my people that I work with. But am I worried? Yes, I'm worried. Am I worried to the point that I think you can be silent? No, I'm not that worried.

COOPER: So how do you change it?

CANADA: Part of the challenge is all of us in positions of leadership have to say there's a line. This is part of what the problem is, Anderson. I know a bunch of middle class African- Americans. We've worked hard, we've played by the rules, we're raising children and guess what's happening to our children? They're buying into this whole theory that they ought to be like the rappers. They want to be gangsters. So I have kids who have never been hungry, who have always have had clothes. And what do they want to do? They want to go out and get involved in selling drugs and they think that has something to do with being black. This image is pounded into their head day after day, year after year, that this is what black people do and they don't hear any of the other kinds of things. And I think that's the music industry's fault.

COOPER: You have no doubt this is killing young black...

(CROSSTALK)

CANADA: I have no doubt in my mind. I have no doubt in my mind that it is setting the cultural context for murder. That if you tell a kid that look, take his life, get a gun, use the gun, kill that guy, go and shoot him. You say it over and over. There are kids who -- not every kid. They're going to say, oh, Geoff, you're saying this is the reason there is homicide in the black community. It is not the only reason, but it is certainly setting the cultural context for murder in our communities.

And that's not the role the artists have played in the African- American community. They have always taken us to the light. When you go through history of our people, you go through slavery, what kept the people moving? The music. You go through the Civil Rights struggle, everybody knew the songs -- we shall overcome. Everybody would sing it. Music helped us. James Brown, say it loud, I'm black and I'm proud. They helped black people figure out how to navigate what was a very treacherous place in America for them.

This is the first time the music is sending us into the darkness. It's actually saying, do this and go to jail. Do this and die. Do this and kill. That's the message. That's a bad message for people. COOPER: And if there was a -- if it was discovered that there was a white guy in a Ku Klux Klan robe -- this is something you said to me before and it sort of opened my mind to a lot of things. If there was a guy in a Ku Klux Klan robe pulling the levers on this, singing this stuff, he wouldn't be allowed on the airwaves.

CANADA: He wouldn't be allowed on the airwaves. I would tell you right now, I'd have marches on Washington. I'd have millions of people coming out. You'd see a reinvigoration of the NAACP, of the Urban League. Everybody would be saying, oh, we've got to stop these white people from saying these horrible things about black people.

And yet, here we are, these are black people saying exactly the same things, without the robes, and people somehow give them a pass and they worry that oh you're beating up on them.

First of all, I want to remind people of a couple of things. A lot of these people, they're millionaires. They're no longer in any hood at all. They are not rapping about something they've been through. They're saying anything they need to say to make money. And they'll say anything. And they'll say something bad or they'll say something good, depending on who's paying them.

The question is, who is paying them? And why are they being paid to say things which we know are destroying black kids? All right? And if that stops, if the pay master quits paying them to say these things, they will stop. You will see this thing will just change overnight. It will go back underground, where it was and kids who really want to go underground will find it and the rest of my kids can grow up in a cultural community where music takes them back to the light.

COOPER: People who defend this kind of particular music, sort of the gangster music, the gangster rap -- Russell Simmons will say look, these guys are poets. These are artists. And what they are -- they are singing and they are talking about what they have seen on the streets. And they are -- they are reflecting the kind of misogynistic and violent society that we live in.

CANADA: Young people will tell you, if you're not prepared to write the most violent, the most misogynistic, the most horrible kinds of rhymes and scenarios, you are not going to get air play.

And if I got 100,000 young black kids around this country who aren't studying in school because they think they're going to make it as a rapper and they think the only way they can do it is rapping about the worst of the world, then that's what you're going to end up.

Every now and then one of them are going to make it. You're going to get this great genius, but it's all going to have these horrible messages. And that's what's going on.

COOPER: So someone listening at home who wants to do something -- because there are a lot of people out there who want to do something and feel like they don't know where to even start. What do you recommend? CANADA: I recommend that first, they get some of the music and listen to it. And then don't write the artist. Don't write the label that you see because the label are not the owners. See who owns that label. All of these labels are owned by big corporations. When you begin to write the chair of those boards, then suddenly you're going to see that a lot more people are going to be interested in cleaning up this business.

COOPER: Geoffrey Canada, appreciate you joining us, thanks.

CANADA: Thanks a lot.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: And if you want take his advice and listen to the music, you don't actually even have to go out and buy this music. You could go on to a Web site, onto Google, type in an artist's name, say, 50 Cent, type in the world "lyrics," all of the lyrics will pop up. You can read what your kids are listening to.

Up next, a much different take, hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons on "Stop Snitchin'" and graphic rap lyrics.

Also tonight, first it was pets, and now it's pigs, farms are being quarantined. And now the food that we all eat is getting tested. Should we be worried? We're "Keeping Them Honest" when 360 continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: You may not have heard the term "Stop Snitchin'" before tonight, but there's a good chance that your kids have. It is a message sung by rappers, promoted by big corporations and they're making a lot of money off of it. Earlier we heard Geoffrey Canada offer a powerful indictment of the message and the rappers who push it and the companies who promote. He says the message is turning inner city communities over to criminals. It is killing kids. And criminals are literally getting away with murder.

We have a different view now from hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons. He is also the author of "Do You!: 12 Laws to Access the Power in You to Achieve Happiness and Success." A brand new book. He has proposed banning three words: the N-word, ho and bitch, from rap songs played on radio and TV, not from all rap songs, just from the so-called clean versions of songs. He still, however, defends the right of artists to express themselves even if the images are harsh.

We spoke earlier tonight.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RUSSELL SIMMONS, CHMN., HIP-HOP SUMMIT ACTION NETWORK: The important thing we have to recognize is that truth that comes out of their mouths is so -- is so biting sometimes. People are offended. But the truth is we are a misogynistic society. Every time we turn on "Cops," somebody is beating their wife. We don't talk about it in great detail.

So when you hear the words out of a rapper's mouth, suddenly now you recognize misogyny or that we're racist? Or -- rappers are almost never racist -- but -- or that we're homophobic or that we're violent?

The rappers can't be possibly as violent as some of the choices we all support. We're fearful and we support -- the unconscious, we are also, about the people -- we keep talking about the 3,000 people in such a sad event. But why not talk about the 3,000 Africans who died in the last few hours, preventable deaths?

There's a lack of consciousness on the part of all the rigid, smart people, the sophisticates who sit by while we bomb innocent people, they sit by while they're misogynistic. They sit by while poverty is on the rise, dramatic not only in this country but worldwide. And we're abusive of Mother Earth and everything on it. Sometimes the poets bring it to our attention.

COOPER: Right, but the last time -- I haven't heard 50 Cent speak about the environment or sing about the environment or sing about what's going on in Africa. I just looked at his lyrics today and every other word is -- are all these unspeakable words. And you can say he's...

SIMMONS: It's like a battlefield. Some of the artists, Alicia Keys...

COOPER: Wait a minute. He lives in New Jersey. He lives in New Jersey in a gated community. That's a battlefield?

SIMMONS: 50 Cent is still a product of that environment. He has just escaped. And he has not...

COOPER: But you know what? We all are a product of where we came from, and we evolve.

SIMMONS: Let me say this to you, Alicia Keys is a product of that same environment.

COOPER: Right, and...

SIMMONS: She's a hip-hop artist with a great program in Africa. Jay-Z is bringing water to people in Africa. Ludacris has the Ludacris Foundation. Chingy for Change, the Shawn Carter Foundation. P. Diddy has Daddy....

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: ... on Thanksgiving. Is it enough?

SIMMONS: I have five charities that work out of my office.

COOPER: OK, but...

SIMMONS: I'm making a point about hip-hop. It's a diverse group of messages. Some of those messages make you uncomfortable. COOPER: I just had Geoffrey Canada on, who's a very well- respected African-American educator, runs the Children's Zone in Harlem. And he says, look, this is basically -- these are lies.

SIMMONS: They're blaming the messenger for the message. They're trying to break the mirror for what it's reflecting. They're reflecting on a truth in our community. We have a problem...

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: You're saying -- you're saying that the artists simply are reflecting the reality of the streets?

SIMMONS: It's not always that simple. Sometimes it's complex. But they're artists. They've always been under attack, from the history of -- not only America. Not only in the jazz -- I remember when Run-DMC couldn't come to town without making the cover of the paper.

COOPER: Right. But Run-DMC wouldn't get a contract today because...

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: ... the language he was using isn't rough enough. The stuff he was singing about...

SIMMONS: That's not true at all. That is not true.

COOPER: He's mild by comparison to what the stuff has been saying about...

SIMMONS: The top 10 rap records of the year, most are dance records. Eight of the 10, I would guess, are dance records. There's a diverse group of messages and we could -- and it's true that, I think, when they told you also that people are pushing them for dirt, it's not true. Rappers say what they want to say. And that's a fact. And I've been in the record business my whole life, and we want them to say what they want to say because honesty and authenticity sells.

COOPER: I've had people directly in these meetings who have told me off the record that they are encouraged to get into feuds and fights with each other. They're encouraged to call each other snitches because it builds up street cred and it sells records.

SIMMONS: I have street cred. I saw your "60 Minutes" piece.

COOPER: Right.

SIMMONS: And Cam'ron said that he wouldn't tell on a cop. He said it was a code of the street.

COOPER: He said he wouldn't tell about a serial killer living next door to him.

SIMMONS: He was making a point. I think he had been pushed in a corner. He was making a point about not telling -- talking to the police and I think that's sad, I think what the -- I have a program in Detroit where the police and community talk a lot, you know. There's a program that promotes dialogue that's critical. And I think that the lack of dialogue -- and you look at people who live in poverty and tremendous struggle. And they feel like the police are an occupying force.

And I told Commissioner Kelly a few weeks ago, he should take that program and bring it to New York, because it's very successful. And when you live in such poverty, those people seeing the police seem like they're holding the system up and the system is holding you down.

COOPER: Do you believe someone who witnesses a crime, comes forward and tells police what they saw, do you believe they're a snitch?

SIMMONS: I'm a snitch instantly. If I see a crime, I'm telling instantly. So -- and I tell people every day, and I tell rappers every day, if you don't tell, you're an idiot. That's my opinion, but they have a right to have their opinion.

COOPER: We're going to leave it there. Russell Simmons, thanks.

SIMMONS: Thank you.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: A study by the National Center for Victims of Crimes asked more than 600 teens and young adults in Massachusetts about witness intimidation. Here is the "Raw Data," 39 percent of those interview had witnessed a beating, 20 percent had seen a shooting, half of those who witnessed or experienced any type of gang-related crime never reported it.

This story has ignited a wildfire on the blog. Here's a sample of some of your thoughts.

Cynthia in Covington, Georgia, writes: "I think it is totally ridiculous that these people won't help the police. But they are the ones who have to live in the violence and crime, so be it." She continues: "When are these fans going to realize that these rappers care nothing for them, they just want their money? While these people are living in crime-infested areas, the rappers are going home to their mansions and gated communities. It's time for these people to wake up."

On the other hand, there's this from Christina in Chicago: "OK. I can't believe I'm defending rap music, but it's a free country. It's up to the parental unit to protect kids from bad influences. We can't just keep legislating against stuff or we'll end up in a socialist system."

This from Em in Toronto: "Unless you're in that kind of situation, it would be hard to know if you tell the police what you saw. If there is implied retribution in the killing, I'm not sure you'd want to speak up. Fear and intimidation are serious motivation unless you know the truth in your heart. The excuse, though, that it's to protect record sales is bunk and makes me involuntarily roll my eyes."

I just got -- we are getting a lot of e-mails right now. I just got one from Cheryl (ph) in North Carolina. She writes: "Thank you for uncovering the poison that has been steadily leaking out of the black community. A great deal of the hip-hop these days is killing us. Don't believe Russell Simmons. I speak for many families struggling to hang on to our teens, struggling to teach our boys it's great to be smart. They should value women, that having a child within marriage and taking care of your family is what really makes you a man. Teaching our girls that they are valuable and they are worth waiting for, they are princesses. A great majority of rap messages are destroying our children, even our black middle class children are struggling. Many young boys from the suburbs are ending up in jail trying to be considered real black men."

As always, we welcome your input. Just go to cnn.com/360blog. Follow the link and weigh in. We're going to continue on this story, the "Stop Snitchin'" crisis with more tomorrow.

What got us focused on this is an incident involving the rap star Busta Rhymes. His bodyguard, Israel Ramirez, a young man, 29 years old, raised in many ways, mentored by Geoffrey Canada, was shot to death in front of Busta Rhymes and according to police, at least 20, 25 other people, none of them have ever come forward. Tomorrow we'll talk to his girlfriend about what "Stop Snitchin'" really means.

Up next, there is new information in the Virginia Tech shootings about whether there was a connection between Cho and any of his victims.

COOPER: Plus, why the pet food scare has the FDA testing the food that all of us eat, when "360" continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Some photographs from the funeral of Mary Read. She was laid to rest in Virginia today. The 19-year-old one of 32 victims of the Virginia Tech massacre. Tonight a state police spokesman tells CNN that investigators have so far been unable to find any evidence linking gunman Cho Seung-Hui to any of the victims.

Ever since the shooting we have heard a lot about mental illness, and specifically the term imminent danger. A judge ruled that Cho posed an imminent danger to himself. We all know that by now. And we all know that he went back to campus. We wanted to know why and what might now be done to change the laws.

Tonight CNN's Drew Griffin investigates.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DREW GRIFFIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Clearly Seung-Hui Cho was dangerous and according to some, it was also easy to see Cho was mentally disturbed. MARY ZDANOWICZ, TREATMENT ADVOCACY CTR.: The experts seem to think that, yes, he had schizophrenia.

GRIFFIN: Mary Zdanowicz is executive director of the Treatment Advocacy Center. Virginia is one of only a handful of states that sets the bar high for involuntarily forcing someone into treatment. Only people who are deemed an imminent danger to themselves or others can be forced to get help.

It was December of 2005 when Cho first came in contact with this system after a friend told police he might be suicidal. Cho was ordered to temporary detention, the next day, a judge ruled him mentally ill, an imminent danger to himself.

Facing involuntary commitment and a record, Cho agreed to be taken to a mental health facility for further evaluation. That is where the case ends. There is no record of any follow-up treatments.

ZDANOWICZ: You don't just let them walk out the door.

GRIFFIN: But Zdanowicz says that's exactly what the state of Virginia did.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When do we force someone against their will and say, it's in society's best interest to step in?

GRIFFIN: Virginia has been looking at how best to handle the potentially dangerous mentally ill for past six months, long before the massacre at Virginia Tech.

GRIFFIN: Today, Virginia's leading mental health experts met in Charlottesville to continue to discuss if Virginia should change its law and make it easier to force the mentally ill into treatment.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The petitioner says I've had enough of this, I'm leaving, case over.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's an abuse of power, and that's...

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And that's what we're talking about.

GRIFFIN: In Cho's case, the decisions were left up to him. We'll never know what may or may not have happened if he had been forced into treatment.

ZDANOWICZ: No, it doesn't appear that he had any awareness that he had a mental illness. He believed the delusions. He believed that he had a mission.

GRIFFIN: In essence, Virginia allows people who can't think right to think for themselves.

ZDANOWICZ: So why would he go to a psychiatrist for an evaluation? That's the problem with these illnesses is it affects a person's ability to even recognize there's something wrong with them.

GRIFFIN: Mike Allen is an advocate for the mentally ill. He fears backlash and knee-jerk reactions to the Virginia Tech massacre.

MIKE ALLEN, MENTAL HEALTH RIGHTS ADVOCATE: Would we then go through the records of every Virginian who had ever been to a doctor concerned about anxiety or depression and we will lock them up? It's simply inconsistent with the American way.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Drew, they've been at this for six months now. When do they plan on making a decision?

GRIFFIN: They don't want to rush it, Anderson. Recommendation is not until the fall. They're aiming for the 2008 legislative session next year before there's any changes to Virginia state's dealing with these mental illnesses and people like Cho who clearly needed some help.

COOPER: And if there was a law forcing people into treatment, wouldn't that have caught Cho before the shooting?

GRIFFIN: You know, it would have got him into the system and they would have had held onto him, Anderson. I think the most you can say is, it would have been somebody's responsibility at the state level or the mental health level to at least find out what happened to the guy, not just let him walk back on to campus or walk back into the public without actually finding out if he needed treatment or if he even got any treatment. And that is where the slip-up came.

COOPER: Drew Griffin, appreciate the reporting. Thanks.

There are new concerns tonight about the pet food scare and just how widespread it has become. The FDA will now be testing the food that all of us eat. That story when 360 continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Well, tonight it is clear that the nationwide pet food scare may be a far bigger nightmare than anyone imagined. As Congress held a hearing on the scandal, the FDA made a chilling announcement, the same chemical that was found in tainted pet food may have spread much further into the food chain, into livestock feed, and even more troubling, products that humans eat every day.

CNN's Joe Johns tonight is "Keeping Them Honest."

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): From protein shakes and energy bars to pizza dough, bread, cereals, pastas, vegetarian foods made to taste like meat, even baby formula, the FDA this week will begin random testing of imported ingredients that go into certain foods, mainly grain-based products that boost protein content. The imported ingredients the FDA will be checking out include wheat gluten, corn gluten, cornmeal, soy protein and rice protein concentrate. It's all because of worries that chemicals that caused the pet food scare could have also entered the human food chain. The suspicion is that suppliers in China slipped the chemical melamine into grain-based products destined for the U.S. because that makes it appear there is more protein than there really is and that makes it worth more.

In other words, there are some people, including the CEO of one of the companies that bought contaminated product from China that ended up in pet food, who think it all started with a little scam.

PAUL HENDERSON, MENU FOODS: This would allow them to cheat buyers. And if it were not for the previously unknown toxicity of melamine in cats and dog, the scam would have worked. It appears likely that the public, Menu, and other pet food manufacturers were the victims of a fraud.

JOHNS (on camera): So what's to stop what happened with the pet food from happening to the human food? To be clear the FDA says there's no evidence that any human foods are contaminated. And that it's just taking a proactive step. Actually, there's no evidence melamine even makes humans sick. But whether the chemical could have entered the human food chain is an open question.

(voice-over): In fact, authorities in six states are looking into whether hog farms and in one case a poultry farm got melamine contaminated feed for thousands of animals which could have potentially been passed through to humans. Farms in California, North Carolina, and South Carolina have hogs that have tested positive for melamine.

And farms in New York, Ohio and Utah are awaiting test results. All of the farms have been quarantined. The poultry farm in question is in Missouri, the FDA said. In terms of volume, it's a tiny amount of the livestock and poultry produced in the United States. But the common factor is that all of the farms on the list may have been on the receiving end of grain-based feed products that came here from two suppliers in China.

In Washington, even before all of this came out, a food watchdog group was calling for a ban on grain products from China.

CAROLINE SMITH DE WAAL, CTR. FOR SCIENCE IN THE PUBLIC INTEREST: A ban on Chinese grains would be a signal to the public that the FDA was willing to take strong action.

JOHNS: The Chinese company that was first identified as the supplier has denied that and has said it was only a middleman. The State Department says, the Chinese government has now agreed to allow FDA inspectors to visit the country and try to unravel the mystery.

Joe Johns, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE) COOPER: Well, still to come tonight, chaos at a prison. Inmates riot as flames erupt. We'll tell you how it ended next on 360.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Erica Hill joins us now with a 360 bulletin -- Erica.

ERIC HILL, CNN ANCHOR: Anderson, a wild two hours today as riots broke out in a medium security prison in New Castle, Indiana. The city's entire police force was activated as prisoners went out of control. Fires erupted in a courtyard. Two staff members were injured. Police say the prison though is now secure. None of its 1,600-plus inmates escaped.

In Moscow, tears for a former leader. Today thousands of mourners paid their final respects to Boris Yeltsin. Yeltsin died yesterday of heart failure at the age of 76. Former presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton will be part of a U.S. delegation attending tomorrow's funeral and burial.

In Colorado, don't tell them it's spring. A severe storm has dumped up to 16 inches of snow on parts of the Colorado foothills. The same storm system hit the plains with flooding rains, hail, even some tornadoes.

And in Washington, cute is going to rule for just a while longer. The Chinese government has given the National Zoo permission to keep its popular panda cub Tai Shan for two more years. Under the original panda loan agreement, the National Zoo was supposed to return Tai Shan sometime after his 2nd birthday, which is in July. But now he gets to stay with his parents at least until 2009.

And, Anderson, because I know you're a huge panda fan, I know you're super excited about that.

COOPER: Yes. I like that there's such a thing as a panda loan agreement -- you know, that the lawyers drew up the panda loan agreement.

HILL: It's nice, isn't it?

COOPER: Yes.

HILL: Well, then you have to worry about custody battles later on.

COOPER: Sure, yes. Does the panda have a lawyer of their own to represent their interests?

HILL: That's an excellent question, I'll look into that. I'll get back to you tomorrow.

COOPER: OK. You do that. Erica, thanks. Don't miss the day's headlines with the 360 daily podcast. You don't need an iPod. You can watch it on your computer, cnn.com/ac360podcast. Or go to the iTunes store and get it there. And a reminder, be sure to catch "AMERICAN MORNING," the most news in the morning tomorrow, 6:00 a.m. Eastern. Larry King is next. I'll see you tomorrow night.

TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.voxant.com

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