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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES

Michael Jackson's Death a Homicide?; Government Launches CIA Interrogation Probe

Aired August 24, 2009 - 22:00   ET

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


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Tonight, breaking news -- preliminary word from the Los Angeles coroner on what killed Michael Jackson.

The Associated Press is also quoting a law enforcement official who says the coroner is ruling Jackson's death a homicide, death at the hand of another person.

Jackson's personal physician, Dr. Conrad Murray, the likely candidate, is yet to be charged with anything. Tonight, nearly two months to the day since his death, we now know the fatal medical and pharmaceutical chain of events, four drugs administered to help Jackson sleep, the mildest of which can kill in large doses. The strongest, propofol, is potentially deadly, even in smaller amounts, if given improperly.

Combined and given without proper attention, especially outside a hospital setting, you have got the makings of a tragedy and perhaps a crime.

Randi Kaye has the breaking news.

Randi, the coroner's finding came out in court documents for a Houston's search warrant. And in the affidavit, Dr. Murray admits giving Jackson propofol. But that's not the only drug. What have you learned about what else he was given in the hours before he died?

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We have learned quite a bit, Anderson.

The key thing, though, that we have learned tonight is that lethal levels of propofol killed Michael Jackson. The coroner's preliminary report is telling us so. Dr. Murray thought that Michael Jackson was addicted to the drug. He suffered terrible sleep insomnia for about six weeks, according to Dr. Murray.

He was apparently trying to wean him off it. He had been giving him 50 milligrams of this drug. And in the hours before his death, it appears that Dr. Murray gave Michael Jackson what -- what amounts really to a cocktail of drugs, even though the coroner is now saying that it was this lethal dose of propofol which ultimately killed him.

But here's -- here's the timeline -- 1:30 a.m., he gave him 10 milligrams of Valium -- 2:00 a.m., he injected him with the anti- anxiety drug Ativan -- 3:00 a.m., he gave him Versed through an I.V. That's also an anti-anxiety medication. It's also used to actually put someone to sleep before surgery.

Then, at 5:00 a.m., more Ativan, two milligrams, 7:30 a.m., more Versed, another two milligrams through an I.V. And, then, at 10:40 a.m., the propofol, 25 milligrams.

Now, this is key, since he called 911 about 12:20 in the afternoon, Dr. Murray did, so just about two hours after he gave Michael Jackson that propofol.

COOPER: And what about Murray's actions the day Jackson collapsed? Have you learned anything more about where he was actually when the singer stopped breathing?

KAYE: We have been trying to figure that out for a couple of months now. And, for the first time, we're really getting a true sense of the timeline here.

Dr. Murray says that he gave Michael Jackson the 25 milligrams of the propofol at 10:40 a.m. He said he finally went to sleep, according to this affidavit. He watched him for about 10 minutes. And then he left the room to use the bathroom. He said he was gone for about two minutes, maximum, according to the documents.

And, when he came back, Michael Jackson wasn't breathing. Now, the time stamp that he put on that moment -- and, according to the affidavit I have -- says that it was about 11:00 a.m. But detectives looked at Dr. Murray's cell phone records, Anderson, and they show that he made three separate calls lasting about 47 minutes before he called 911.

Who was he calling? And why didn't he use the cell phone to call 911 right away? The detective who signed the affidavit said Dr. Murray did not mention these calls when he was questioned by police. So, that could prove to be a very critical 47 minutes of phone calls. If the affidavit is correct and if Michael Jackson stopped breathing at 11:00 a.m., investigators, of course, Anderson, will want to know why 911 wasn't called until 12:20, and who Dr. Murray may have been talking to in all of that time on the telephone.

COOPER: So, what does this -- all this mean for Dr. Murray?

I mean, he's obviously been the target of this investigation, some media reporting the investigation is now a homicide investigation. Do we know where things stand?

KAYE: Yes. The -- the AP, the Associated Press, is reporting a single source from law enforcement telling them the case has now been ruled a homicide.

But -- but the LAPD, the Los Angeles Police Department, said that information didn't come from them. We also checked with the coroner's office, and they said no comment. So, they're not saying it isn't true. They're just not confirming it.

But we want to point out that the coroner's definition of a homicide can mean many different things. It can mean first-degree murder, reckless manslaughter, negligent homicide. It all depends. So, the affidavit we got today does say that investigators have found evidence of manslaughter, which we know they were looking for at Dr. Conrad Murray's clinic.

But we also know from the district attorney here in L.A. that they have not received the case yet to even consider charges. And that's how the process works. The LAPD gives them the case to determine what, if any, charges will be filed. And that hasn't even happened yet.

Dr. Murray's attorney has read the affidavit, we know. And he released a statement, actually, Anderson, just a short time ago, late tonight, calling much of the search warrant affidavit police theory. That's his quote. He said the timeline reported by law enforcement was not obtained through interviews with Dr. Murray, as was implied by the affidavit.

Dr. Murray simply never told investigators that he found Michael Jackson at 11:00 a.m. not breathing. The statement says he also never said that he waited a mere 10 minutes before leaving to make several phone calls. In fact, Dr. Murray never said that he left Michael Jackson's room to make phone calls at all.

The statement also said that they will address the report and the cause of death when the coroner officially releases the report. This was the preliminary report. We're still waiting on the final report.

COOPER: So, is the family responding to -- to all of this?

KAYE: They are.

Through the family's attorney, they have released a statement as well. And I can share that with you. It says: "The Jackson family has full confidence in the legal process and commends the ongoing efforts of the L.A. County coroner, the L.A. district attorney, and the L.A. Police Department. The family looks forward to the day that justice can be served."

COOPER: Randi, I just want to go back to something, just to clarify. The -- the attorney for Murray is saying that Dr. Murray never told police that he left to go to the bathroom and never told police that he made these other phone calls; is that correct?

KAYE: Right. And this is a signed affidavit that we have from the Houston Police Department, which conducted a search of Dr. Murray's clinic. They also -- authorities also interviewed Dr. Murray twice.

And according to this affidavit, that is what Dr. Murray told them. But now you have his lawyer coming out tonight saying that's not the case at all.

COOPER: All right. Obviously, some -- something needs to be clarified there.

Randi, appreciate the reporting. So we're talking about four drugs, all of which can amplify the effects of the other, all of which can slow down the central nervous system. There's that and also the timeline. Just about all of the above raises medical and a lot of legal questions.

Here to address them all is addiction specialist Dr. Drew Pinsky, senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin, and Dr. Panchali Dhar, anesthesiologist at New York Presbyterian Hospital Weill-Cornell Medical Center here in Manhattan. She's also written the guidebook "Before the Scalpel: What Everyone Should Know about Anesthesia."

Dr. Drew, if you look at the drugs that Dr. Murray allegedly gave Jackson, does there seem to be any medical reason that he would need all of these?

And I just want to show our viewers against this list, Valium at 1:30 a.m., Ativan, anti-anxiety drug, at 2:00 a.m., Versed, a sedative, at 3:00 a.m., Ativan again. Then you have Versed again at 7:30. Then you have propofol.

What do you make of that?

DR. DREW PINSKY, AUTHOR, "CRACKED: PUTTING BROKEN LIVES TOGETHER AGAIN": I don't make that he's treating insomnia. That's for sure.

There's simply no rational basis for this combination for the treatment of insomnia. There's no protocol on earth that would include these substances. However, what I also draw from this is that he probably was tolerant and potentially even addicted to these substances and maybe in withdraw, which is why he could tolerate doses that literally would take down an elephant.

COOPER: Take down an elephant? I mean, we're -- we're talking doses that large?

PINSKY: Yes.

I mean, Anderson, last time I was with you, I -- I kidded with you being a lightweight. I mean, these are -- these are truly massive doses of medication. To give two milligrams of Ativan to a man that weighs under 150 pounds on two separate occasions, the average person, that would stop them to sleep for the rest of the day, no problem. It would stop them in their tracks.

To add Versed, add propofol, now you have got dangerous and incredible concentrations of medication.

COOPER: Before we get to our other panelists, we're going to take a short break.

You can also join the conversation online at AC360.com.

Later, see for yourself just how potent a drug propofol is, and why it's so dangerous outside a hospital setting. 360 M.D. Sanjay Gupta takes us inside an O.R., where you will get the demonstration of the drug and see how quickly it stops a patient's breathing. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Ten, nine, eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two, one.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Also tonight, what a newly released report says CIA interrogators did to terror suspects, including threatening their children, mock executions, and more. Was it torture? Or is investigating it politically motivated? And what does the -- what's the White House doing about it tonight? Find out later.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Bad now with breaking news, word from the L.A. coroner that Michael -- that they have concluded that Michael Jackson had killer levels of the powerful anesthetic propofol, or Diprivan, in his system when he died, now, propofol and apparently three other drugs his doctor says he gave him that morning, drugs that can also slow breathing and heart rate.

The AP also ruling that that the coroner will rule Jackson's death a homicide.

We're back now with our panel, Drew Pinsky, Jeffrey Toobin, and anesthesiologist Dr. Panchali Dhar.

Dr. Dhar has actually -- you brought vials of propofol with you, which is...

DR. PANCHALI DHAR, THE NEW YORK PRESBYTERIAN HOSPITAL AT WEILL- CORNELL SCHOOL OF MEDICINE: That's right.

COOPER: And you see, it's -- it's this milky substance, which is why people call it milk of amnesia.

DHAR: Milk of amnesia. It comes in different sizes. It's the same concentration.

So, what the doctor has to do, an anesthesiologist has to do, is draw it up in a syringe, such as this. So, when we talk about dosages, like 50 milligrams, 25 milligrams, what does that really mean? Well, once you draw it up, each line is 10 milligrams. So, 25 milligrams would be very little. It would be two-and-a-half lines.

COOPER: So, you don't actually believe 25 milligrams is what was given?

DHAR: It has to be more than that. I mean, you know, 25 milligrams, on top of the Valium, the Ativan, and the other...

COOPER: Versed.

(CROSSTALK) DHAR: ... Versed -- and, supposedly, he was also addicted to narcotics, which could have accumulated in the system -- that could tip him over.

But 25 milligrams usually wears off within two minutes or so. But you have to be monitored.

COOPER: But the very idea of giving outside a hospital setting in conditions like this, you find...

DHAR: Absolutely.

COOPER: ... absurd.

DHAR: I doubt that Dr. Murray had available EKG, blood pressure monitors, oxygen monitors. We don't turn our backs on the patients when we give this drug. So...

COOPER: You wouldn't leave the room, even to go to the bathroom for two minutes?

DHAR: Never. We don't even turn our bodies around. We're watching the patient intensely while we're giving propofol anesthesia.

So, I would imagine that, if he gave him another higher dose, it would definitely have stopped his breathing. And perhaps the 25 milligrams could've, because the other drugs accumulated in his system. But I -- I would imagine he gave him a little bit more than that.

COOPER: Jeff, from a legal point, a homicide, that -- does that mean -- what does that mean legally? I mean, is it -- would -- could Dr. Murray then be charged with, what, manslaughter, murder?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR ANALYST: It -- it means, legally, taking the life of another. It means Michael Jackson did not die of natural causes. It means he was not a suicide. It means the government has concluded that someone else killed him.

There are a wide variety of charges within homicide. Intentional homicide, you can get the death penalty for. Negligent homicide is a much less serious crime. It's an unintentional negligent killing. Certainly, he seems to be in that end -- end of the spectrum. No one seems to suggest that Conrad Murray intentionally killed Michael Jackson.

COOPER: But -- but by doing something which, medically, is unsound, he could be charged with, what, second-degree murder?

TOOBIN: No. It would -- it would be -- it would be some version of manslaughter, an unintentional killing. But you can still go to prison for several years.

Keep in mind, though, that these sorts of medical situations, it's very rare that they give rise to criminal charges. Malpractice suits, yes. Losing your medical license, yes. But an actual criminal case resulting in jail sentence? Very unusual.

COOPER: Dr. Drew, you treat medical addicts all the time. Dr. -- Dr. Murray told detectives he began to try to wean Michael Jackson off drugs and was administering less propofol than he would normally administer.

Does his explanation make any sense?

PINSKY: Right.

Well, it -- it makes sense. However, it's sort of misguided. If he had made a diagnosis of a...

COOPER: I mean, is this the way to treat addiction?

PINSKY: No. That's the point. If he made a diagnosis of addiction, he should have bringing in -- he should have been bringing in an addiction team who has expertise in dealing with these things.

For instance, you would never give Ativan, Ativan, lorazepam, to an addict in an uncontrolled situation. It's just -- it's just out of the question. And, clearly, he had been receiving medicines like this for quite some time.

He had Klonopin, Restoril, Valium, multiple benzodiazepines in oral form at his bedside. So, there was something really very wrong already that Dr. Murray may have come to terms with, but didn't properly refer to the people that could really manage this sort of thing.

COOPER: Can someone, Dr. Drew, function when they're taking this amount of medication? I mean, you heard people he worked with said, oh, he was -- he was at the top of his form, which I find hard -- hard to believe, frankly. And you hear, you know, everyone said, oh, he was the greatest father around. But, I mean, if you're taking this level of drugs, how -- how -- how competent can you be?

PINSKY: Well, you're certainly not emotionally available. You don't make a good parent, but you can seem OK. People get very tolerant of these substances. And it's hard to identify that they're intoxicated.

COOPER: Dr. Dhar, do you think -- I mean, should a cardiologist be, at any point, administering this kind of a drug?

DHAR: No. There's no way that Conrad Murray had the training to give this drug.

And just the fact that he's giving small dosages, 50 milligrams, 25 milligrams, is indicating that he doesn't know how to use the drug. This usually is given as an intravenous infusion, meaning you have to put an I.V. in. And it's continuously infused over periods of time to keep someone asleep.

So, 25 milligrams would wear off in a few minutes. And he would wake up again. Then you would have to give another 25 milligrams and another 25 milligrams. And there's some evidence that there was an I.V. pole in the house. So, perhaps these were given as I.V. infusions.

COOPER: Does it strike you as inappropriate for a -- I mean, it seems like -- and this can be for you or for Dr. Drew -- for a doctor to -- it seems like Michael Jackson was demanding this drug from -- from -- from this doctor, who was in a very compromised position, who had financial trouble, who was being paid $150,000 a month.

DHAR: We really have to question his clinical judgment at that point.

I mean, at this point, when you're not trained to use a drug, you don't know how to use it, you're not a specialist in a certain field, he has no business giving drugs like this.

COOPER: Dr. -- Dr. Drew, does this happen in L.A. all the time, with celebrities being able to kind of boss around their doctors who are in financial trouble?

PINSKY: This happens all the time with people who have a lot of money and a lot of power. They -- they feel the need to have special care. They don't accept the standard of care. They find physicians that collude with them, people who like to bask in the glow of celebrity, for instance.

And, thereby, they end up getting substandard care, rather than what is the best care, which is standard care. This is a classic example of that, where there's an adulteration of the patient-doctor relationship, where money and power has gotten in the way of it, and affected someone's judgment. And here now, the outcome is a dead patient.

COOPER: Dr. Pinsky, Dr. Dhar, appreciate you on the program.

DHAR: Thank you.

COOPER: And, Jeff, as well, thank you very much.

Coming up, we have more of our breaking news next, including a visit to the O.R. Dr. Sanjay Gupta actually takes us into an O.R., shows how propofol works and why, as Dr. Dhar said, you simply don't leave the room after administering it.

Later, a sharp new warning -- the first official word of just how bad the H1N1 swine flu could be this fall. It's coming back. Tens of thousands of otherwise healthy young Americans could die.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Our breaking news on what authorities suspect killed Michael Jackson continues to look at the powerful anesthetic at the center of the criminal investigation.

This is what the drug looks like. It's called propofol. Now, court documents released today reveal that the Los Angeles coroner said the singer had lethal levels of propofol in his blood when he died. Now, remember, it was being given to Jackson in his home.

Even in a hospital setting, where it's given thousands of times a day, propofol has to be carefully monitored, as you're about to see.

Chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta went inside one operating room to watch the drug being given properly and all the safety measures involved. And watch how quickly it can stop a patient's breathing. Watch.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GUPTA: So, we are here inside the operating room with Dr. Gershon. He is the chief of anesthesiology here. Propofol is a medication he uses all the time.

So, is this it right over here?

DR. RAPHAEL GERSHON, CHIEF OF ANESTHESIOLOGY, GRADY MEMORIAL HOSPITAL: Yes.

GUPTA: It looks like -- milk of amnesia, they call it.

GERSHON: Milk of amnesia.

Vincent (ph), you OK?

We have to monitor his EKG. We have to monitor his (INAUDIBLE) CO2. We have to make sure that he is breathing. We have to see his saturation. We have to make sure he is ventilated.

GUPTA: So, these are all -- that's all typical stuff any time you use these medications?

GERSHON: That's standard of care, yes.

GUPTA: OK.

So, the propofol...

GERSHON: We're going to start infusing this.

You are going to get a little sleepy, Vincent, OK? Give me some good deep breaths.

GUPTA: Watch this go in. Take a look at his eyes, how quickly he's...

GERSHON: Deep breath, Vincent. Doing great. You may feel a little burning. OK?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ten, nine, eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two, one.

GERSHON: There's a reason for his heart rate increasing.

(CROSSTALK) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Uh-huh.

GUPTA: So, what's...

GERSHON: See, his eyes have closed.

GUPTA: His eyes closed. And what else are you looking for?

GERSHON: Now, we look up here. He -- he stopped breathing. So, this is -- watch him get (INAUDIBLE) CO2, and he is not breathing anymore. And my wonderful (INAUDIBLE) is going to help him breathe.

GUPTA: So, take a look over here. All the breathing right now is taking place with this bag and this mask. On that medication, he wouldn't be able to breathe on his own without those things.

Well, there, you can see of the problem. Just with that much propofol there, he stopped breathing, and he's going to need a breathing tube.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Easy.

(CROSSTALK)

GUPTA: What -- what is so attractive about this medication?

GERSHON: Well (INAUDIBLE) has been in the advent in the last 10 years or so, even more, 15 years. And it's just basically a quick on, quick off.

And that people answer why people may think that this is something they could do at home, because, if it gets out of hand, it goes away quickly. The problem is, it gets out of hand, and there's nobody there to resuscitate you, then nobody could bring you back.

GUPTA: So, that was -- that was pretty quick. You just made some of the medication, and you're going to...

(CROSSTALK)

GERSHON: Five, 10 minutes.

GUPTA: Five, 10 minutes, he has gone from being completely awake to being completely asleep.

GERSHON: He's not breathing. I'm breathing for him.

GUPTA: Now, one thing that's worth pointing out is that this is a hospital that uses this medication thousands and thousands of times a year.

But they do use this medication is non-hospital settings, like outpatient clinics. The doctors here will tell you they have never heard of it being used in a home -- Anderson, back to you. (END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: It's unbelievable how quickly it stops a patient's breathing, even under the right settings. Now, the patient you saw going under anesthesia during the piece is doing fine now. He woke up shortly after the surgery without any complications.

Still ahead tonight, some dramatic video of the freak killer wave that swept spectators, including a 7-year-old girl, out to -- out to sea off Maine's coast.

First, though, Erica Hill joins us with a 360 bulletin -- Erica.

ERICA HILL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And, Anderson, we begin with more breaking news -- a senior administration official telling CNN President Obama will nominate Ben Bernanke for a second term as Federal Reserve chairman. The president will make that announcement tomorrow morning.

More breaking news -- a sobering new estimate of potential toll from swine flu. The President's Council of Advisers on Science and Technology says the virus can infect half of the U.S. population this fall and winter, hospitalizing up to 1.8 million people and causing as many as 90,000 deaths. That's actually more than twice the average deaths in a normal flu season.

The highest-ranking man in the U.S. military says the situation in Afghanistan is getting worse. The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Administration Michael Mullen, told CNN's "STATE OF THE UNION" the Taliban has become more sophisticated over the last couple of years, while President Obama has called the situation in Afghanistan a -- quote -- "war of necessity."

Well, a reminder: Afghanistan is squarely on our radar here at 360. Anderson, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Peter Bergen, and Michael Ware will all be in Afghanistan the week of September 7. Be sure to join us for "360 in Afghanistan: Live From the Battle Zone."

It is the end of the road for the cash for clunkers program -- for good this time. The rebate portion ended earlier tonight. Dealers, though, do have until noon tomorrow to submit those requests for refunds.

And the first family firmly in vacation mode on Martha's Vineyard, the president golfing today on Oak Bluffs course. The press was invited for the first hole, but, after that, asked to give the Obamas, especially Malia and Sasha, some privacy, Anderson.

And they have got 28-and-a-half acres, so they can probably find some privacy there.

(LAUGHTER)

COOPER: Not too hard.

President Obama also plans to catch up on some reading during his vacation. You can actually see what books are on his list on our Web site, AC360.com.

Up next: new information about CIA interrogations during the Bush administration. A report reveals techniques, including threatening to kill one suspect's children and threatening to force another to watch his mother being sexually assaulted. Are they tough, but necessarily tactics, or just plain criminal? All sides.

Also ahead, the end of the manhunt for a reality show contestant charged with killing his ex-wife and stuffing her body in a suitcase. He is dead, but now police want to talk to a mystery woman seen with him just days ago -- "Crime & Punishment" ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: According to a newly declassified Justice Department report, CIA interrogators threatened to kill the kids of September 11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and threatened another suspected terrorist with an unloaded gun and a power drill. Is it legal?

Attorney General Eric Holder has asked federal prosecutor John Durham to find out. Durham has been investigating the destruction of videotapes of CIA interrogations, but the attorney general decided to ask him to expand his investigation after reading the 2004 report.

Meanwhile, President Obama has announced a new policy for future interrogations that puts the FBI in charge.

Joe Johns has all the "Raw Politics."

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For those who say the U.S. tortured high-level al Qaeda detainees, and for those on the other side, who call it enhanced interrogation techniques, it was more fuel for both sides.

We learned that Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, a suspect in the bombing of the USS Cole in October 2000, was threatened with an unloaded semiautomatic handgun pointed at his head. At one time, a debriefer also came at him with a power drill, but didn't touch him with it.

The report also details mock executions. In one instance, a gun was fired in a room next to the one where a suspect was being held, so he would think a prisoner was being killed. Then, when the guards moved the detainee from the interrogation room, they passed a guard who was dressed as a hooded detainee lying motionless on the ground and made to appear as if he had been shot to death.

There were also threats against the families of the prisoners, of Nashiri's family, one debriefer saying, "We could get your mother in here, and, "We can bring your family in here."

But the report says, the debriefer denied that was a threat. Still, the report also said one interrogator threatened 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, saying, "If anything else happens in the United States, we're going to kill your children" -- all of it more fuel for the critics of the CIA, and enough for the Obama administration to announce that the FBI, not the CIA, will lead a new special unit of terrorist interrogators.

(on camera): The new information will also keep the human- rights-vs.-security debate going strong, begging a question: Are U.S. interrogators from the Bush era now going to be prosecuted under President Obama?

BILL BURTON, OBAMA CAMPAIGN NATIONAL PRESS SECRETARY: Well, as the president has said repeatedly, he thinks that we should be looking forward, not backward. He does agree with the attorney general that anyone who conducted actions that had been sanctioned should not be prosecuted.

JOHNS (voice-over): The attorney general asked special prosecutor John Durham, who is already looking into the CIA's interrogation techniques, to also try to determine whether interrogators crossed any legal lines.

But Mark Danner, the author of "Torture and Truth," has been pushing for the president to get to the bottom of the story, and says, it's not about the interrogators; it's about the policy-makers.

MARK DANNER, AUTHOR, "TORTURE AND TRUTH": The Obama administration has gone far to acknowledge, or at least to tacitly agree, that the things the Bush administration declared legal were, in fact, legal, that it won't investigate those decisions. And that, it seems to me, is a tragedy.

JOHNS: Whatever the case, none of this is particularly good news for the folks at the CIA, whose director, Leon Panetta, wrote in a letter to his troops that, in many ways, this is an old story, though he knows so far, it's not nearly old enough to be forgotten.

Joe Johns, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Well, did the CIA go too far? Or were interrogators just using tough tactics necessary to prevent another terror attack?

Joining us now for a strategy session, former Bush homeland security advisor, Frances Townsend, Democratic strategist James Carville.

Fran, threatening to kill a detainee's children, telling a detainee that his mother would be sexual assaulted in front of him, mock executions, electric drills close to the head. Are these acceptable interrogation techniques?

FRAN TOWNSEND, FORMER BUSH HOMELAND SECURITY ADVISOR: Well, Anderson, let me start by saying I don't think there's anybody in any administration that would defend interrogators who went beyond what was legally authorized. There are Justice Department memos from the Office of Legal Counsel that outline that. And this report is the result of self-reporting by the CIA about issues that they uncovered and that they referred to the inspector general.

COOPER: So you believe these things went -- they went too far?

TOWNSEND: Well, clearly, the CIA did, believe they were beyond it. And that's why it was referred to the Justice Department.

But we should be clear. Career prosecutors in the Justice Department reviewed this report and found that there were no crimes that were worthy of prosecution. This is now going back on that and asking a second group of prosecutors to do it again. And I think that's unnecessary. And, frankly, dangerous.

COOPER: James, prosecutions aside, which we'll get to, these actual techniques, are they appropriate?

JAMES CARVILLE, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, I mean, I think everybody -- and Fran agrees that they're not appropriate.

The problem with this is, is this is not very good politically for the administration, the Democrats. The public clearly doesn't have much of an appetite for this.

Now, you've got a lot of people in the Justice Department that, like, believe all of the speeches about no one's above the law and have to enforce the law. And apparently, these people have put enormous pressure on the attorney general. And what they have now is like some kind of a preliminary investigation going on. And this is -- there's no doubt about this. Politically, this is a very tight spot that the administration has been placed in here.

COOPER: Fran, I heard you say that the CIA doesn't think it's appropriate. I'm just curious. Do you think these things are appropriate?

TOWNSEND: You know -- you know, Anderson, I think in order to say whether or not we think they're appropriate, we've got to go back to where we were, where we knew very little about al Qaeda.

These individuals, even the things that you've listed that have been alleged. It wasn't the -- nobody laid a hand on them. Nobody touched them with a drill. Nobody fired a weapon. Did they use unsavory techniques and tactics? Sure they did, but this was a time when we were worried and trying to prevent the next terror attack.

I mean, I think we've got to remember these are -- these are techniques that were used against people who didn't think a thing of killing nearly 3,000 Americans, men, women, and children.

COOPER: James, if these techniques led to some terrorist event being stopped -- in this report, they said that they believe it led to some people being arrested before an attack in Karachi -- are these fair game? CARVILLE: Well, look, the question is, and I'm not -- I'm not a prosecutor. But these guys actually take seriously into question -- and career prosecutor's mind is not was it this or that; is it against the law? They -- they are taught from the get go, the mind of a prosecutor is "I'm here to enforce the law. Was this legal or illegal? If we think it's illegal, then we're duty bound by our oath to pursue this."

I tend to agree with Jeffrey Smith, who was a general council CIA during the Clinton years, that this is a place not to.

COOPER: Well, Fran, Attorney General Holder is now authorized this preliminary review of these interrogations. If people broke the law and committed acts of torture, shouldn't someone be held accountable? Or should someone?

TOWNSEND: Anderson, if -- look, I am a former career prosecutor, and I agree that, if people actually broke the law and committed crimes, they ought to be prosecuted for them. I don't have a problem with that.

I don't think we see an indication of that here. And by the way, career prosecutors have already looked at this and made a judgment that a prosecution is not appropriate.

COOPER: What do you make that President Obama's authorized this new special interrogations unit. It's going to be based out of the FBI. I mean, it seems basically a repudiation of the CIA.

TOWNSEND: I don't know if I think it's a repudiation. Remember, Anderson, that the FBI did -- because they objected to Bush administration interrogation policies didn't participate at all. And I actually think that resulted in a lack of sharing of information and the inability to follow up on leads.

So I think that this task force, led by the FBI with a deputy from the intelligence community, presumably the CIA, will actually set common standards, ensure the sharing of information, look at the behavioral research about what tools and interrogations are most effective. I think the task force is a good idea.

COOPER: James, do you have any thought on it?

CARVILLE: Task force to me always seemed good when they're announced, and somehow or another, a lot of them don't turn out that way. I hope this is one. You know, I read it, seems like it makes perfect sense to me, which probably means it's a disastrous idea.

I agree. I agree with her because it makes so much sense. This can't be any good.

COOPER: We're going to leave it right there. Fran Townsend, appreciate it. James Carville, thanks.

TOWNSEND: Thank you.

CARVILLE: Thank you.

COOPER: And join the live chat happening now at AC360.com. Let us know what you think about the debate.

Coming up next, new twists in the case of the murdered model, a hotel suicide, and a mystery woman who may have acted as an accomplice. Tonight's "Crime & Punishment."

And swept to sea. Have you seen this video? Onlookers sucked into Hurricane Bill's waves, rescuers able to save three of them. Show you the dramatic rescue.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: A hunt for a reality show contestant turned accused killer ended last night with the suspect found hanging in a Canadian hotel room.

Police say this man, Ryan Jenkins, killed himself. He was charged with murdering his ex-wife, a swimsuit model whose body was stuffed inside a suitcase.

While the manhunt is over, there are new questions tonight, questions about whether Jenkins had help in getting rid of his ex- wife's body. Authorities also want to talk to the woman who apparently checked into the hotel with Jenkins just a short time before he killed himself.

Erica Hill has the latest.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): On the run for more than a week, the international manhunt for Ryan Jenkins ended in this motel room.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's a man hanging from a belt, from a coat rack. That was it. That's just not a pretty scene.

HILL: Motel staff say a woman checked Jenkins in late Thursday. She paid for the room in cash for three nights.

ALLANA HERRLING, THUNDERBIRD MOTEL EMPLOYEE: She was about 20 to 25, blond hair, very pretty. She was driving a silver PT Cruiser with Alberta plates. She was -- had rented the room, and we haven't seen her since.

HILL: The woman reportedly left after just 20 minutes. Jenkins was seen only once after that on Friday. Described as gaunt, staff say he didn't look at all like these pictures.

When no one checked out of the room on Sunday, the manager and his nephew knocked on the door.

ADAM BURT, NEPHEW OF MOTEL MANAGER: I went and checked around 12 p.m., knocked on the room and said, "Excuse me," and my uncle opened the door and there he was hanging there.

HILL: Burt says it appeared the body had been there for some time, though officials haven't yet released an official time of death.

Canadian authorities said today they know who checked Jenkins into the motel but are not releasing her identity.

SGT. DUNCAN POUND, ROYAL CANADIAN MOUNTED POLICE: We do believe that they knew each other. There was a past history. But we don't want to go into specific detail as to the relationship.

HILL: Meantime, another major question to be answered. How did this real-estate developer with a history of assault end up on a reality matchmaking show?

SCOTT STERNBERG, SCOTT STERNBERG PRODUCTIONS: It just sort of causes a flag to go up that we producers should even look further and do a little bit better job. We all have to take responsibility in making sure that our cast is very -- is very, very vetted.

HILLS: Jenkins pleaded guilty to assault in Canada in 2007, where he received 15 months probation and was ordered into counseling for domestic violence and sex addiction.

The production company behind VH1's "Megan Wants a Millionaire," 51 Minds, says its vetting process for all contestants involved a complete background check by an outside company. "Clearly," 51 Minds said, "the process did not work properly in this case." It's now investigating.

Robert Mazza casts reality shows.

ROBERT MAZZA, REALITY SHOW CASTING DIRECTOR: Automatically no is anything violent, anything violent where there's an attack, somebody is hurt, a threat, restraining order. I don't know how he ever got through the process. I mean, if he actually went through a complete background check, this would've come up. Somewhere, somebody slipped.

HILL: Jenkins did make the cut, and sometime after wrapping the reality show, met Jasmine Fiore in Las Vegas, the woman he would marry and later, say police, murder and brutally mutilate before killing himself.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Now, Anderson, a big part of that background check is obviously the information that contestants give to the production company: accurate past addresses of employers, references.

I asked Scott Sternberg how much of that information they get is accurate. He said 99 percent of people are very honest because they have to sign so many forms. Most of them are afraid not to be.

COOPER: Erica, thanks very much.

Ryan Jenkins is an extreme case, of course, but he's not the first reality TV star to make headlines. To read more about some other contestants go to AC360.com right now.

Coming up next, a New Orleans high school student says Hurricane Katrina was a blessing. He's not the only one who feels that way. We'll take a look at what is going on right now, four years after the storm in New Orleans. It's part of our weeklong series. We're going to go to New Orleans on Thursday and Friday night.

Also ahead, a dramatic rescue. How rescuers finally freed a 3- year-old girl who got her arm stuck in a pool drain, coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: It's been almost four years since Hurricane Katrina, and for many people who lived through it, it feels like yesterday. Who, of course, can forget the images of desperate people being plucked from their rooftops in the days after the storm hit? And the thousands who ended up at the convention center in desperate conditions?

Katrina and its aftermath have become a symbol of what can go wrong but also, in some cases, what can go right.

Sean Callebs is "Keeping Them Honest" with a look at one thing that seems to have changed for the better in New Orleans after the storm.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SEAN CALLEBS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The flood waters washed away so much here; so much lost. But they also washed away a crippling problem: a terrible public school system. Todd Purvis is principal of the KIPP Central City Academy.

(on camera) Right now, it's Louisiana and Mississippi, always at the bottom of the two in public education. Are you optimistic that's going to change?

TODD PURVIS, KIPP CENTRAL CITY ACADEMY: I'm very optimistic. I mean, when I talk to teachers and families, especially if they (UNINTELLIGIBLE), I tell them, and I firmly believe, that New Orleans in five or ten years will be looked to as the model for how to perform in education.

CALLEBS (voice-over): Donnell Bailey says before the storm he did poorly in a poor public school. He failed fourth grade and says he never thought about his future.

DONNELL BAILEY, STUDENT: I actually think the storm was a blessing in disguise.

CALLEBS: The storm forced an education overhaul from the ground up. This man, Paul Vallas, who turned around schools in Philadelphia and Chicago, is driving the change. And he's in a hurry.

PAUL VALLAS, SUPERINTENDENT, RECOVERY SCHOOL DISTRICT: In the recovery school district alone, the last two years we saw an increase in test scores in every subject at every grade level.

CALLEBS (on camera): Vallas inherited a district where only about four in 10 kids graduated from high school. In fact, so many students were failing so badly, the state had taken control over about 85 percent of the district schools.

Well, Vallas is now spending millions of federal dollars that are pouring in, giving kids laptops and offering smaller class sizes to give more one-on-one instruction.

But perhaps most importantly, he hired a small army of young, motivated teachers from across the country through the organization Teach for America, some of whom replaced veteran teachers who were considered underperforming.

VALLAS: They bring a certain energy, and they bring a certain -- you know, personality and drive into the schools that really creates a culture of high expectations.

CALLEBS (voice-over): As for Donnell Bailey, that's why he calls the storm a blessing.

BAILEY: Then thing that changed were my teachers. My teachers had expectations were more higher, you know, and my teachers expected me to live up to the expectations. So, like, the drive that my teachers gave me, it really pushed me up to that level.

CALLEBS: In fact, Donnell's new public school teachers pushed him so hard and he did so well that he received a scholarship to a $17,000-a-year private school. It's a good story.

(on camera) It's a winning formula of motivated teachers, renovated schools, and new laptops. But they're not all good stories here.

By state law, if students don't pass an exit exam at the end of eighth grade, they're not promoted to high school.

(voice-over) Critricia (ph) Davis studies at home, because she failed that test and can't enroll in school. Her mom says Criticia (ph) has a learning disability, difficulty retaining information, and she doesn't want the 15-year-old to attend the eighth grade for a third time. And says the district isn't providing adequate tutoring and other resources that might give Criticia (ph) a chance for a high- school diploma.

(on camera) Are you worried that Criticia (ph) could fall through the cracks, get frustrated and simply drop out?

DANA DAVIS, MOTHER: Well, I feel that she's already falling through the cracks. I mean, she's already three grades behind.

CALLEBS (voice-over): The new education czar, Paul Vallas, says the situation is disappointing and, no, not every student is succeeding. He doesn't like graduate exams. VALLAS: I've always felt that you give the high stakes test and, if a child does not pass all, you know, all of the components of that test, then -- then you can conditionally pass the student if the student has hit other benchmarks.

CALLEBS: And the district's long-term goal.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Who's going to college?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're going to college.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're going to college.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're going to college.

VALLAS: For families here, that's been an all but unthinkable goal. Only about 7 percent of New Orleans public school kids graduate from college. That's right, just 7 percent.

So some things never change here. Once again, it's hurricane season, and thoughts of Katrina are always here. But there is now hope, because Katrina did bring Paul Vallas and his army of new teachers here, and there's hope of a brighter future for the kids.

Sean Callebs, CNN, New Orleans.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Our series of reports, "Hurricane Katrina: After the Storm," continue tomorrow with a look at how the disaster has affected the mental health of people in its path.

And as I said, I'll be in New Orleans Thursday and Friday to see the recovery firsthand. Going to walk around the city with James Carville -- he's a city resident -- and a lot of other folks.

If you want to know how to help, go to "Impact Your World" at CNN.com/impact.

Coming up next, tourist attraction turned tragic, seven people swept to sea. We'll show you the dramatic rescue video as rescuers fought the waves.

And another rescue caught on tape. A little girl's arm sucked into a pool drain during swimming lessons. A tense rescue effort and a big sigh of relief.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Let's get the latest on some of the other stories we're following. Erica Hill is back with a "360 Bulletin" -- Erica.

HILL: Anderson, dramatic new video of a rescue at sea off the coast of Maine. If you look here, it actually shows a life preserver being thrown from a Coast Guard boat to one of three people swept aware near Acadia National Park yesterday. The rogue wave from Hurricane Bill slammed into the popular scenic lookout. This next bit of footage we have for you is actually from the Coast Guard. It shows one of those victims being pulled from the water. Two of the people who were swept away survived. A 7-year- old girl, though, died.

It is not the first time the popular tourist spot has been hit with extremely violent weather. In fact, the area's prone to it, as you can see in this video from 2006. Huge waves here, just pounding that coastline, engulfing it, really.

And another dramatic rescue, this one captured live on CNN. Firefighters in Key Biscayne, Florida, working for nearly an hour to free a 3-year-old girl whose arm was caught in a pool drain. To release her, they had to cut through the pool's wall. The child is said to be in stable condition. Talk about scary.

And on a much lighter note for you, Titan, a 4-year-old Great Dane. Meet him. He's on a quest for the title of world's tallest dog. Titan was officially measured my a vet on Sunday. He came in at 42 1/4 inches on the shoulder.

COOPER: Arf.

HILL: That was his reaction, too. The formal measurement brings him closer to the Guinness world record his owner is hoping for. Good luck to you, Titan.

COOPER: Good luck.

HILL: They're such sweet dogs. I love Great Danes.

COOPER: Yes. They're huge. Every now and then in New York you see somebody walking a Great Dane. You think, like, how big is that person's apartment? Because...

HILL: There's an Irish wolfhound in my neighborhood.

COOPER: Really?

HILL: Who apparently was born and bred in my neighborhood. Always lived there.

COOPER: Uh-huh, hopefully not in a studio apartment.

HILL: Eight feet tall at the shoulder.

COOPER: Coming up next on the program. Ah yes, Heidi Montag is -- am I saying her name, Montag?

HILL: I think she's now Heidi Pratt.

COOPER: Whatever. Debuted as a singer. She stole the show, apparently, at the Miss Universe pageant. And by stole, I mean she has a stunning lack of talent. See for yourself. Coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: For tonight's "Shot," don't worry, Beyonce. Here comes Heidi Montag with a fresh new way to embarrass herself. Take it away, Heidi.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(MUSIC)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HILL: Wow.

COOPER: She kind of lip synced -- it almost was in sync -- her way through her new song. The performance was from last night's Miss Universe pageant.

I don't really know who this person is, nor why she's pretending to be a singer, now why anyone should actually listen to her, but apparently, she's famous. Heidi Montag is so famous she actually Twitters. And she twittered to congratulate herself. She tweeted she had so much fun. She also thanked God.

I don't think God had anything to do with this production.

HILL: I would hope God had nothing to do with that.

COOPER: God has the time to work on this production, and that's the best God can do, we're all in trouble.

HILL: Our own resident Miss Universe expert, who shall remain unnamed at the point -- Kyra -- told me that the interesting part about the performance, too, was apparently through most of it, she didn't seem to know the words she was supposed to lip sync to her own song.

COOPER: I think using the term "interesting" for anything in this performance is a stretch.

HILL: Sultry, that was the look we just saw. You can use that word.

COOPER: OK. Who is she? Where is she from?

HILL: Oh, "The Hills," Anderson. Come on.

COOPER: OK.

HILL: She married that annoying Spencer Pratt.

COOPER: I saw them on...

HILL: They love themselves. Love themselves. Speidi.

COOPER: Are they?

HILL: Oh, yes, that's their name: Speidi.

COOPER: Coming up at the top of the hour, breaking news: new information about the drugs in Michael Jackson's system, including what time the L.A. coroner says -- actually, what the L.A. coroner -- scene got me all kafuffled. The L.A. coroner says is a lethal amount of the powerful anesthetic Propofol. We'll be right back.