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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Terror Ties to Fort Hood Massacre; Health Care Battle; October Terror, D.C. Snipers; One-on-One with Oprah Winfrey
Aired November 9, 2009 - 23:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Tonight, breaking news about Nidal Hasan's contact with a radical Muslim cleric and his intercepted communications months before the shootings at Fort Hood possibly that we don't yet know for sure with the very same cleric.
Also tonight, the warning signs: statements online, his service record, a classmate calling him a ticking time bomb. A Muslim cleric said, "Hey, there is something wrong with you." He was on the radar and yet apparently no one acted.
The question tonight: why? We're "Keeping them Honest."
Also tonight on the eve of the execution of John Allan Mohammed, we'll take you "Up Close" on the October terror. How it looked, sounded around the nation's capital. What it felt like to be in the cross hairs of an assassin's rival, an assassin who's about to pay the ultimate price for what he did.
And later, "The Big 360 Interview," my conversation with Oprah Winfrey about her passion for education, Africa and what she considers the proudest day in her life.
First up, the breaking news: on the eve of a memorial for 13 people massacred at Fort Hood, Texas, we have new information about their alleged killer and his ties to a notorious recruiter for global Jihad; sobering new questions as well about warning signs that may have gone un-acted on.
Major Nidal Malik Hasan is now awake, he's able to talk we're told. A short time ago authorities briefed the media. Drew Griffin who's working the story joins us now with all the breaking news.
Drew, tonight the FBI released a statement saying they have found no evidence of co-conspirators. No indication the attack was part of a broader terrorist plot. The FBI also says that it was looking at Hasan as late as last December but decided to end the investigation. Why did the FBI drop it?
DREW GRIFFIN, CNN INVESTIGATIVE UNIT CORRESPONDENT: Yes and this is where a lot of that consternation is coming from at Capitol Hill. They are confirming that it was December of 2008 that they began looking into Major Nidal Hasan when they found the U.S. Army major communicating with somebody that the FBI was already looking into. Now Anderson, though the FBI won't say who that was, the Army says their Major was in contact or trying to reach out to radical Islamic cleric in Yemen, or at least thought to be hiding in Yemen and most definitely linked to radical Islamic ideology.
Senior investigative officials say there have been as many as 10 to 20 communications that's took place. But in the end this is what they determined. The conversations were consistent with the Army major's work as a psychiatrist. In other words, the terror investigators thought Nidal Hasan was strictly doing research for his work with soldiers.
So the investigation just ended.
And while they won't name names, it turns out Nidal Hasan may have been in contact with this same radical cleric eight years ago when the cleric and Nidal Hasan worshipped in the same mosque just outside Washington.
GRIFFIN (voice-over): It was inside this suburban Washington mosque that Nidal Hasan may have first heard radical anti-American views. It is a mosque identified in this, the 9/11 Commission Report on the attacks of the morning of September 11th, 2001.
Now, eight years on, the FBI is looking at whose paths may have crossed here at the Dar al Hijrah Islamic Center. It was in early 2001 a cleric named Anwar al Awlaki, a U.S. citizen, arrives at the mosque. He'd already been the subject of several terrorism investigations but was never arrested or charged.
By April of that year, the 9/11 Commission reports two of the 9/11 hijackers were attending services here. And just weeks later, Nidal Hasan chose to hold his mother's funeral services at this same mosque.
There is no evidence Nidal Hasan attended the mosque regularly at that time. Nor that he ever met with or was influenced by the cleric al Awlaki who left the United States a year later.
Now al Awlaki is thought to be in Yemen where he is on the most wanted terror list. Al Awlaki has applauded the Fort Hood attacks on his Web site calling Nidal Hasan a hero.
At a news conference today, the mosque authorities denounced both attacks on Fort Hood and their former Imam and they dismissed any link between Hasan and the 9/11 plotters.
SHAKER ELSAYED, MUSLIM CLERIC: To say that he was here when they were here as if they converged on the place which is not the case. We know better now.
GRIFFIN: Meanwhile, in Texas, authorities are trying to track down six people Hasan Nidal had dinner with the very night before the shootings. This man was there, a local Imam who said the gathering was for a fellow worshipper about to make a pilgrimage. Hasan was not the focus but he is now. And all six names of the diners had been turned over to the FBI.
SAYED AHMED ALI, MUSLIM CLERIC: On Wednesday night, there was a party dinner. I think six, seven people are invited; in that party Nidal also there. So he asked me -- who -- can you give me the names? So I give the names to the FBI.
GRIFFIN: The FBI is also pouring over Nidal Hasan's computers, computers he used or had contact with, trying to find out if the accused killer visited extreme Jihadist Web sites or even tried to make contact with dedicated terror groups.
FRANK CILLUFFO, GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY: It's obviously very troubling to think that a mass murderer has attended some of our events.
GRIFFIN: Frank Cilluffo met Nidal Hasan here at George Washington University in Washington, D.C. where Cilluffo heads the Homeland Security Institute. It turns out Hasan was a frequent attendee at counter-terrorism conferences here including this one in January where Hasan is seen sitting in the second row in uniform, taking notes and attracting little attention.
CILLUFFO: You're going to have folks who aren't necessarily on anyone's radar screens, who are coming up with their ideas on their own and then acting on some of those ideas. So there's no conspiracy. There's nowhere to pull the thread on the investigative chain. So clearly that is a concern.
COOPER: So, Drew, if the FBI, as of right now, is find nothing co-conspirator, in fact, no real motive or any connection to a broader terrorist plot, what do they have?
GRIFFIN: You know Anderson, as strange as this may sound, a federal law enforcement source very close to the investigation says don't discount the idea of this may be a disgruntled employee, a person who may have had some kind of Jihadist views. But just because he went to Web sites or looked at Jihadist Web sites doesn't mean anybody directed him or steered him or influenced him to do this act.
He may have just acted alone. And the motive may indeed have been just frustration at work or his own personal problems.
COOPER: He is talking, apparently. We'll see if he's actually talking about anything of consequence or if he's actually giving some idea behind his motives.
Drew, I appreciate the reporting. As Drew said it was perfectly possible for someone to do something in the name of a cause without being an actual member of a cause or in touch with people in that cause. But even if he never received instructions, plotted or planned anything with others, he did share his beliefs with many people; strong beliefs, troubling statements. So how did this guy, saying what he said, acting the way he did, expressing incendiary views about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, how did this guy end up getting promoted and end up at Fort Hood at all? Did the Army, in fact, make a deadly mistake?
Ted Rowlands tonight is "Keeping them Honest."
TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Two years ago in 2007 Dr. Val Finnell was a graduate school classmate of Major Nidal Hasan. He says Hasan used class presentations to express radical ideas including a speech defending suicide bombers.
DR. VAL FINNELL, FORMER CLASSMATE OF HASAN: He would frequently say he that was a Muslim first and an American second. And that came out in just about everything that he did at the university. And we questioned how somebody could take an oath of office, an officer in the military and swear allegiance to the Constitution and to defend America against all enemies foreign and domestic and have that type of conflict.
ROWLANDS (on camera): The grad school won't acknowledge the alleged complaints about Hasan. But the Army says later when he was practicing at Walter Reed Medical Center in Washington, there were other problems, problems with patient relationships. Those problems were known by his superiors here at Fort Hood when he arrived in July.
COL. KIMBERLY KESLING, DAMALL ARMY MEDICAL CENTER: The types of things that were reported to me via his evaluation report were things that concerned me but did not raise red flags towards this in any way, shape or form.
ROWLANDS (voice-over): And, yet, there are still many questions in the story of Hasan's background. This is the mosque where Hasan worshipped near Fort Hood. And this man, mosque co-founder Osman Danquah says Hasan wanted to be a layman Muslim leader at Fort Hood. But Danquah told the Associated Press that he recommended Hasan's request be denied and told Hasan, quote, "There's something wrong with you" after he listened to him talk.
Danquah described Hasan as quote, "incoherent" and recalled Hasan's concern about U.S.-Muslim soldiers fighting against other Muslims. Danquah told the AP he wasn't concerned enough to report it to the Army. The Army promoted Hasan to the rank of Major in May of this year.
KESLING: All officers, whether their medical corps or not go before a board. That board is not just made up of medical officers. And so his record went before the board just like everyone else's and he received his promotion appropriately based on his performance evaluation.
ROWLANDS: While top brass is defending the Army's handling of Hasan down the ranks, some soldiers are questioning how this could happen. SPC. REFUGIO FIGUEROA, U.S. ARMY: I guess no one saw the signs on him and, you know, they missed the signs with him. I mean, can you imagine the way they missed a sign with someone else? I mean, you know, it's ridiculous.
ROWLANDS: Ridiculous may be in hindsight. But mental health expert Shari Julian says the signs may have been difficult to connect.
SHARI JULIAN, MENTAL HEALTH EXPERT: I think that there were probably a lot of connections that's should have been made that weren't made. But we're at war and under a lot of pressure. And maybe that's, you know, that's what happened.
ROWLANDS: What happened and potentially missed opportunities to prevent it has prompted calls for Congressional investigations and has the military vowing to re-evaluate procedures because everyone is asking why couldn't we keep these soldiers safe.
Ted Rowlands, CNN, Fort Hood, Texas.
COOPER: Yes, why indeed.
Let us know what you think, the questions you may have. Join Erica Hill and me online. The live chat is under way at AC360.com. I'm about to log on.
Shortly, the Congressman Peter Hoekstra of the House Intelligence Committee who says law makers are being kept out of the loop on this. We'll talk to him live.
Also ahead, the state with the worst number of people covered by health insurance and their lawmakers voting against health care reform. We're "Keeping them Honest."
And later, with sniper John Allen Muhammad about to be put to death, a chilling look at what he put the nation's capital through. October terror "Up Close," tonight on 360.
COOPER: We're going to have more with the Congressman Hoekstra who -- about what authorities knew and his concerns that the intelligence that they did know was not shared widely enough. We'll talk to him momentarily.
But first, here's a "360 Bulletin."
Iran is charging three American hikers with espionage. The U.S. responded quickly and sharply to the charges calling them baseless. The Americans were arrested in July after entering Iran while backpacking in Iraqi, Kurdistan. Their families said they crossed into Tehran by accident. We've interviewed their moms a couple times on our program. The man accused of fatally shooting a Kansas abortion provider today confessed to the crime. Scott Roeder told the Associated Press he killed Dr. George Tiller last May to protect unborn children. Roeder is charged with first-degree murder and aggravated assault.
Michael Jackson's father is challenging his son's 2002 will. In papers filed today, Joe Jackson contends his son never signed the will and wants the administrators removed claiming they concealed what Jackson called a fraud. On Friday, Joe Jackson's attorney filed a petition to receive a monthly allowance from Michael's estate. I'm sure both those moves are connected.
And a college soccer player suspended indefinitely for dirty play caught on video. Take a look at that. University of New Mexico's Elizabeth Lambert throwing punches, pulling hair during a semifinal's match. Lambert later apologized saying, quote, "I let my emotions get the best of me in a heated situation." Not once, not twice, not three times, more than four time. And there's a fifth time. And there's a sixth time.
Up next: Congressman Hoekstra and our breaking news on Nidal Hasan.
Also which lawmakers are opposing health care reform even though their states have the most people that can't afford health insurance? We're "Keeping them Honest" tonight.
And taking your questions on the subject, text them at AC360 or 22360 and remember standard rates applies.
And Oprah Winfrey later tonight.
We'll be right back.
COOPER: Continuing our breaking news. There's a lot of finger pointing already about who knew what about Nidal Hasan and whether just like before 9/11 potentially lifesaving information never made it to the people who could act on it.
Now, tomorrow for a few moments at least the search for answers will stop as Fort Hood remembers the fallen. President Obama will be there.
Today talking with ABC's Jake Tapper, he promised accountability.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We are going to complete this investigation. And we are going to take whatever steps are necessary to make sure that something like this doesn't happen again.
(END VIDEO CLIP) COOPER: All right. Let's "Dig Deeper" now with Michigan Republican Congressman Pete Hoekstra, a ranking Member of the House Intelligence Committee. Congressman, thanks for being with us. This weekend your office issued a statement in which you said the shootings are, and I quote, "A tragic reminder of the potential deadly consequences that's the threat posed by homegrown Jihadism and the failure of the government to adequately respond to it."
Do you believe the government failed in regards to this attack?
REP. PETE HOEKSTRA (R), MICHIGAN: Well, I think it's important that government get all the information.
I agree with President Obama. Let's make sure that we do a thorough investigation. The issue that, you know, brought forward the letter that I wrote is on Friday I talked to the director of national intelligence. I asked him for a full briefing. He said he'd get back to me on Saturday morning. There was an indication that that would occur.
And then later on in the day Saturday they said, "No, we're sorry. We can't share information with you at this time." Their responsibility is to keep Congress fully and currently informed. And they failed to do that. And that, you know, that was an inappropriate action by the intel community or by the White House in denying us access to the information that they had at that time.
COOPER: They say they gave a briefing to the so-called "Gang of Eight". But you say to the full committee is what is necessary?
HOEKSTRA: Actually, we did not get a briefing to the "Gang of Eight". There was a briefing that happened tonight. But Friday, Saturday, Sunday there was no briefing to the "Gang of eight". That is an inaccurate...
HOEKSTRA: ... description of what happened.
COOPER: But tonight you've had a briefing?
HOEKSTRA: Well, there was a briefing that was given in Washington. One of the reasons that I wanted the briefing on Saturday is that we were in session. We were going to be in session all day on Saturday. We were until, what, about 11:00 Saturday night. I knew that the House of Representatives was then going to be gone for more than a week. I wanted access to that information before we left town.
There was a briefing today. But there were no House members at that briefing. We're out of town.
COOPER: CNN has learned that intelligence officials actually had Hasan on their radar. That they even intercepted but later dismissed communications that he sent to a radical Islamic cleric.
I mean, do you think the government dropped the ball here? HOEKSTRA: Well, again, you're seeing a couple of things happen. You know, we didn't get the information. All of a sudden CNN and other news sources, they're getting this information leaked to them, I'm not sure from where.
So we're not reading about it in the media. I think we've got to be very, very careful about jumping to conclusions until we have all of the information. I do believe that there's indications here that this is more of an act of terrorism than just a criminal act or someone cracking. This might give us a little bit more insights into how these kind of individuals become radicalized.
COOPER: Do you see, when you say act of terrorism and you describe it as homegrown Jihadism before, do you see it as potentially -- I mean in that definition, do you also see this possibly -- this guy not having connection with a foreign group or others but just ideologically motivated, deciding to do this by himself?
HOEKSTRA: I think if you take a look at the strategy that radical Jihadists are using in their use of the Internet, their use of, you know, mass communications, tools that are available to them, this is exactly what they are trying to create. Individuals willing to go out, you know, give them the education off of their Web sites. Give them the motivation. And then allow these people creatively to develop their own tactic as how they will carry out -- excuse me -- a Jihadist activity or a Jihadist event in their site, in their community.
COOPER: I want to play you something that General Casey said about his concerns about, again, jumping to conclusions.
Let's play that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEN. GEORGE CASEY, U.S. ARMY CHIEF OF STAFF: You can't jump to conclusions now based on little snippets of information that come out. I'm concerned that this increased speculation could cause a backlash against some of our Muslim soldiers.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Thirty five hundred or so Muslim troops in the military. Are you concerned also about that possible backlash?
HOEKSTRA: Well, I think that's exactly right. And I think that's why it would have been very appropriate, number one, for them to keep information classified rather than leaking it. It's also the reason that they should have been fully sharing that information with the appropriate members of Congress so that we have a full understanding what's going on.
The worst thing that could happen is that this information leaks out, leaks out inaccurately, incompletely, or distorted and individuals start reaching the wrong types of conclusions. That's not what we want to have happen. COOPER: And I certainly echo that. Representative Pete Hoekstra, I appreciate you being on tonight. Thank you sir.
HOEKSTRA: Good, thank you Anderson.
COOPER: A reminder a CNN special coverage of the memorial of Fort Hood begins tomorrow afternoon at 1:30 Eastern time including as we mentioned the remarks by President Obama. You can you also watch it at CNN.com/live.
Still ahead tonight, the battle that could still sink health care reform from the public option through abortion. "Raw Politics" ahead.
And find out what -- we'd like to hear what you're most concerned about. Text your questions and thoughts to AC360 or 22360; standard rates apply.
Later, on the eve of the D.C. sniper's execution, we're going to look back at the shooting spree that terrorized the nation's capital. As John Allan Mohammed in October terror is ahead on 360.
COOPER: White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said today President Obama wants a final health care reform bill on his desk by the end of the year. Wanting and getting of course, are two different things, there's still two tough battles ahead.
Over the weekend the House approved its version of a health care reform bill including a public option. In the Senate, Majority Leader Harry Reid hopes to bring a bill to the floor by Thanksgiving. He's pledged to add a public option to it despite the opposition he'll certainly face.
Now, that got us thinking about where most of the uninsured live in this country and what their senators -- where their senators stand on health care reform.
Randi Kaye tonight is "Keeping Them Honest." Randi, you've been looking into this the whole day. What have you learned?
RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, here's what we found out today. There are more uninsured in red states than there are in blue states, which is interesting since all Republican senators are expected to vote against the public health care option.
Now, take a look at this map here behind me. According to the U.S. Census Bureau's latest numbers for 2008, these four states have the greatest number of uninsured residents. That's Louisiana, Florida, New Mexico and Texas.
In Louisiana, 20.1 percent are without health insurance. And then if you take a look at Florida there, coming up next, 20.5 percent no health insurance. In New Mexico, 23 percent, even greater there; and in Texas, 25 percent of the population is not insured. Now after digging into this, we found Republican senators in three of the four states are all against the public option for health care reform. Only New Mexico has two Democratic senators who support the public option.
But in Louisiana, Senator Mary Landrieu, one of the most conservative Democrats in the U.S. Senate we're told is quote, "very skeptical of the public option." Florida which has one Democratic senator and one Republican senator, Anderson, is split on it.
COOPER: And what about Texas? The state with the most uninsured, I mean --- with the most uninsured?
KAYE: And also the children there, too, as well are also uninsured. And if you look at the numbers for Texas, one quarter of Texas' entire population is without health insurance. That's six million Texans, Anderson.
The state's children are in really bad shape, too. The Census Bureau says, about 1.3 million children in Texas are without health insurance which is more, actually, than 18 percent. So if you look at those numbers, 18 percent in Texas compared to the U.S., 10.3 percent of children in the U.S. without health insurance.
COOPER: All right. Randi, so where do the senators in Texas stand on health care reform?
KAYE: That's what we want to know, Texas has two Republican senators. And "Keeping them Honest," we called both. We wanted to know how the Republican senators in Texas would explain to their uninsured constituents that they're against the public option plan for health care. That's a key element that could derail health care reform. And, remember, one quarter of Texans are without health insurance.
Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison's people told us that she is in favor of health care reform but against the public option. Hutchinson calls the bill the House just passed over the weekend a quote, "terrible bill that hijacks our health care system."
The senator says she will quote, "Do everything in her power to prevent this bill and anything remotely similar to it from passing the senate." Instead, she says medical malpractice reform and tax credits for people who purchase insurance will lead to more affordable health insurance.
Texas' other senator Republican Senator John Cornyn wants competition and choice. He has said a government-run single payer system, Anderson, would drive insurers out of the market and limit competition.
COOPER: So if -- in Texas if the rate of uninsured dropped to like the national average, what does that mean for people there?
KAYE: It would be pretty significant, it turns out, Anderson. If Texas could reduce its uninsured rate from 25 percent to 15 percent to match the national average, another 2.4 million people in Texas would be covered. That's a lot of people.
COOPER: All right.
Randi, different ways the Republican and Democrats see the issue. Randi, I appreciate it.
If and when the Senate passes its health care reform bill, the next hurdle, of course, is going to be reconciling the House and Senate versions.
Now the bill that the House passed this weekend include several lightning rod issues including a provision banning abortion from being covered in the public insurance option.
Let's talk about the "Raw Politics" with Candy Crowley and CNN's senior political analyst David Gergen.
David, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham says the House health care bill is quote, "dead on arrival". How worried should Democrats be in the Senate?
DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: They have an uphill job, Anderson. Senator Reed does not yet have the 60 votes that he needs. And they have these two big issues but there will be others.
One issue is abortion as you described earlier. And today, interestingly, after the press secretary Mr. Gibbs four times refused to address the House abortion amendment which the conservatives there really wanted to know whether to pass that on the Democratic side, President Obama weighed into it later on today and said basically one of the first times he'd like to change something, he'd like to roll back from what the House passed on abortion. Because there is so much liberal anger about that.
So he is -- he's trying to roll it back. But in rolling it back, he's -- he's got a problem. When it comes back to the House if it's rolled, he might not be able to get it through. That's just one of his dilemmas.
The public option is the other.
Candy, our text 360 question from Tristan (ph), he says, "The Republicans swear they'll fight it tooth and nail to the bitter end. Is the president overly optimistic?"
CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the president is still, I believe, likely to get something, maybe not about by end of the year.
I still think the odds are good he'll have it by the end of the year. Simply because if you even just look at the politics of this and if you look at it from the standpoint of public opinion which shows that they -- that the public does want some form of health care and guess who's in charge, the Democrats.
If they do not deliver that, it is big trouble for them next year. And when they begin to bleed over into next year with this conversation, this debate, it begins to be more and more difficult because it is an election year. So I don't think the president's being overly optimistic.
And just because Lindsey Graham says that House bill is DOA, of course it s the Senate's not going to pass the House bill. The Senate is going to pass the Senate's bill. So that's, to me, sort of a statement of the obvious. The real work, the real crunch time is in that conference committee once the Senate can get a bill on the floor and pass it.
COOPER: David, at this point how much of the battle over this whole issue of health care is really about the bill and how much is about stock piling, you know, political ammunition for midterm elections?
GERGEN: That's a really good question, Anderson. Candy is right. If it does spill over into next year, there's going to be an awful lot of stock piling about the elections. That's why the bill could be in much more serious trouble if it doesn't get passed this year while the president wants it on his desk, wants to sign it by essentially Christmas break.
But let's -- essentially, Anderson, in the Senate, what's emerged in the Harry Reid bill is the Baucus bill which is a fairly conservative bill plus the public option that Harry Reid added on to that. I think the likelihood is, to get it through the Senate they're going to have to strip out the public option. And in which case what will emerge from the Senate is a more conservative bill financially. And in this general health care term, take the abortion issue out of it.
And the real question then, if you go back to conference, will the House liberals stick with it? There are a lot of groups -- the House liberals could roll off this thing if they take out the public option. The House conservatives could roll off if you strip down the abortion amendment they just passed that angered the liberals.
So we're beginning to see very clearly now why it's taken 61 years and we still don't have, you know, universal health care. This is really hard.
CROWLEY: It's -- you know, basically what you're looking at is legislative whack-a-mole. Once you solve this thing, something else comes up. And in big issues and this certainly is one; this is a sort of once in a lifetime piece of legislation or at least a once in a lifetime issue that Congress is addressing at this point.
So it is hard and it is difficult. But I still think that there is this understanding about -- among Democrats. I don't know who's go to blink first, the moderate Democrats or the liberal Democrats. But there is an understanding among all of them that no bill is just not doable. They have to have something.
GERGEN: I agree with that. I think it's ultimately going to come down to a test of can a Democratic Party govern with this majority? And if they can't govern, I think Candy's right, there's a sense in the party, they're really going to get punished.
COOPER: If it goes past the New Year, then you're into already Congressional elections for 2010.
GERGEN: Yes. Absolutely.
COOPER: David Gergen, Candy Crowley, thanks very much.
Straight ahead, imminent execution: John Allen Muhammad, remember him? The D.C. Sniper is going to be put to death tomorrow night. We're going to retrace the terror that left ten dead and shocked the nation. That's next.
Later, one-on-one: my interview with Oprah Winfrey. The book she wants you to read and the mission close to her heart, tonight on 360.
COOPER: Today, the U.S. Supreme Court denied a final emergency appeal to spare the life of D.C. sniper John Allen Muhammad. Barring a last-minute reprieve by Virginia Governor Tim Kaine, Muhammad will die by lethal injection tomorrow at 9 p.m. Eastern.
The execution comes a little more than seven years after Muhammad and his teenaged accomplice, John Lee Malvo, went on that killing spree. They murdered 10 people. The victims chosen at random, marked for death.
Tonight, we take you back to October 2002 with the timeline of the events that left millions in fear. We'll also have new interviews with first responders and investigators who vividly remember the weeks of terror.
Take a look.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Montgomery County has been traumatized by five killings in less than 16 hours.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He was shot while mowing his lawn.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right now they don't know the motive.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is random. It is baffling police right now.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We know of no relationship between the victims.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Murder spree.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A single shot. This time it took the life of a woman who was simply at a service station vacuuming her van. DEIDRE WALKER, FORMER ASSISTANT POLICE CHIEF, MONTGOMERY COUNTY: In that first 24-hour period where so many shootings occurred in Montgomery County, you know, this level of violence to us spoke to somebody who had snapped.
And we were waiting for what we called a hot confrontation. We were waiting for this person to actively engage the police or, you know, shoot himself. And that didn't happen. There was nothing. We felt like the first couple days we were chasing a ghost.
COOPER: Word of another shooting, whether it is connected...
October 3, 2002, we had four shootings early in the morning, in a very short space of time. I think from about 7:40 or 7:41 to 9:58 was the last shooting. And then there was a break of several hours. Then there was a shooting later that night. So you had five shootings in one day. And that's when people really started to realize, something is going on here.
JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: All hell breaks loose. It's like a war zone. You know, I live in Montgomery County. And you know, families are calling me. "Where -- who is this? What's happening? Do they have any leads?"
And I'm telling them, "No." And the police say they don't have a clue.
VITO MAGGIOLO, CNN ASSIGNMENT EDITOR: I called the assignment desk. And I said to the assignment editor at the time, Michael McManus. I said, "There's been a shooting in D.C. And I think it's the sniper."
Michael checked with the D.C. police, and they said, no, this is not related.
And I told Michael, "They're wrong. This has all the characteristics of what we've been hearing all day in Montgomery County." I said, "Send somebody up there and shoot the scene, because I bet my bottom dollar it's this person." And, in fact, it was.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What did school officials tell you guys?
IRAN BROWN, SURVIVOR OF SHOOTING: They were just telling us to be quiet and be calm, because a little boy got shot when the -- when his mother was dropping him off from home.
CHIEF CHARLES MOOSE, MONTGOMERY COUNTY POLICE: Someone is so mean-spirited that they shot a child. Now, all of our victims have been innocent and have been defenseless. But now we're stepping over the line, because our children don't deserve this.
JEANNE MESERVE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I was out at police headquarters that morning when our desk called and told us they were hearing on the scanner that there had been another shooting.
Chief Moose was out and about that morning in the parking lot, doing live shots with the various network shows. And I immediately ran over to him and said, "Chief, we understand there's been another shooting." And a look crossed over his face. He pivoted, and he went right back into police headquarters.
ANDREA KOPPEL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Apparently a tarot card left at the scene of the shooting Monday in Prince Georges County, Maryland, the shooting at the middle school. And written on that tarot card, say law enforcement forces, was "Dear Policeman, I am God."
COOPER: We begin with what might be a new development in a string of sniper shootings in the Washington, D.C., area -- we underscore it might. The story is unfolding as we speak.
The pictures now coming in from Manassas, Virginia; there was a shooting here a short time ago. One witness reported hearing a single shot as a man was pumping gas.
October 9, there was a man named Dean Harold Myers who was shot and killed and someone reported seeing a white minivan leaving the scene. And that became sort of a red herring. Police put that description out. A lot of reports poured in. And, of course, a white minivan is something that's pretty common on the highways.
WALKER: So we basically created a situation in good faith to try to push out the information. We created a situation where the witnesses heard a shot, boom, they saw a white van. And then that's the information. And they would be adamant that the shot came from that car.
So, you know, now we're in a situation where, "Well, do we discount the closest thing to an eyewitness?" So it was very challenging in that regard.
DARYN KAGAN, FORMER CNN ANCHOR: We're getting word that around 9:30 a.m. Eastern in Fredericksburg, Virginia, there was another shooting incident, this one at an Exxon gas station.
JOHNS: These guys were not in custody whoever had done the shooting. The police had no idea where they were. They had pretty much given up going, you know, from street to street to street. There we were getting ready for the 6 p.m. news and thinking, "These people are so bold, where are they going to stop? How far are they going to go?"
And we knew there was a fascination also with the media by that time. So stepping up in front of the TV camera, and I don't think I'm the only person who felt this way, I really wondered whether, you know, that high-powered rifle was going to be trained on me or one of my colleagues.
For me, this was NBC "Nightly News" in those days.
TOM BROKAW, FORMER NBC NEWS ANCHOR: We begin with NBC's Joe Johns -- Joe.
JOHNS: Tom, in what would be the boldest attack so far...
And listening to Tom Brokaw read the lead in to me, I thought to myself, what's the first thing that happens? Do you feel the bullet or hear the shot?
COOPER: So, Joe, it was, Joe, that feeling, I guess, that you never knew where these guys were?
JOHNS: Right. I mean there was simply no pattern. I mean, you look at the victims, for instance, no gender patterns, no race patterns, no age patterns, anybody, Anderson, could have been a target. Somebody you didn't know, you couldn't see was cutting people down that they didn't know. And, you know, people thought that anybody could be a target.
COOPER: What -- in the end, what was the motive?
JOHNS: I mean to this day we don't know what the motive is.
I talked to Mildred Muhammad, John Muhammad's second wife, just a little while ago. She's pretty sure that it all started out as a plot to kill her at the end. But it just sort of got out of control.
I talked to his lawyer tonight, John Muhammad's lawyer, and he says, "No, it's not about that."
We don't know what the motive is. It could be anything. But he says John Muhammad is mentally ill. Of course, John Muhammad says that's not true.
Money? Who knows why somebody puts a whole metropolitan area through something like this over three weeks.
COOPER: And what happens to the kid, Lee Boyd Malvo (SIC)? What happens tomorrow?
JOHNS: Well, tomorrow what we do know is that the family members, one or two will go down and see John Muhammad, sit with him for a while. He'll get to eat anything he wants to. You know, the last meal, as they say.
Then around 9 p.m., we're told they'll start ushering him into what's called the death chamber over there. He gets three different chemicals. We're also told there are going to be a bunch of people in attendance there including the family members of some of the victims.
So as far as Malvo goes, that's another story, a long story. But he doesn't have a death sentence.
COOPER: All right. Jail most probably for the rest of his life.
Joe Johns, appreciate it. Thanks.
Up ahead, governors in four southern states declare emergencies as Tropical Storm Ida heads closer to land. We have the latest on its path coming up.
Plus, my conversation with Oprah Winfrey about the proudest day of her life, her commitment to educate kids, and the books she wants you to read.
KAREN MCGINNIS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: And hello everyone. I'm CNN meteorologist Karen McGinnis. We're updating you on now tropical storm Ida has lost a little bit of its intensity. Winds right now sitting at 65-miles-an hour; it's just off shore right around 100 to 115 miles south of Mobile Bay.
I want to point out a couple of things. And that is our pinpoint now, if we were to say, within the next three to six hours, it looks as if this Mobile Bay, Pensacola area will probably narrow down the area where we anticipate it to make land fall.
Here is the bad news. It has slowed down. It was moving towards the north at about 13 miles an hour. But it is expected to slow down even further as it gets towards the coast. This is going to be bad news. We're looking at the potential for some very severe flooding. Also, the winds have become a problem.
I looked at some of the locations in observations in the coastal areas, Panama City to Pensacola to Mobile, Mobile is seeing some wind gusts as high as 37 miles an hour. And that's a fairly dramatic increase from what we've seen just in the past hour. Generally -- we're looking at 20 to 25. Now they gust to 37.
So Ida is packing winds now of 65 miles an hour. And we're starting to see that storm surge and what we're also looking at is its potential to start to move towards the north and northeast. So in a lot of these areas, rainfall totals are expected to be on the order of 3 to 6 inches. So severe flooding is certainly possible. We'll continue to update you.
AC360 continues right after this break.
COOPER: This evening, I joined Oprah Winfrey for a World Wide Web event to discuss her new book club choice, "Say You're One of Them." Our Web cast was hosted by CNN.com/Live and Oprah.com. We hope you were able to take part in the conversation.
Oprah also sat down with me earlier to talk about the new book, the school she's founded in South Africa, and what she thinks of the education system here at home. Here's part of the "Big 360 Interview."
OPRAH WINFREY, TALK SHOW HOST: Schools are doing really great. We just got an award for the second school. Because the second school was built on a model of what we believed the South African government could do.
I spent far less money, spent only $2 million, because that is normally what the South African government spends in building schools. But used it as a model for a green school, a model for engaging the entire community and what would go into the school, a model for having classes for the rest of the community and adults after school. So I'm really pleased with what school in KwaZulu-Natal.
And my girls at the academy are thriving. They are -- just did their PSAT tests and are preparing now to start looking for colleges all over the world. So it's an exciting time for them.
I mean, we've come a long way since the opening of the school. And, you know, at the time I opened that school I said it was the proudest day of my life. And another very proud day will be when they graduate and get into colleges in the United States and other parts of the world.
COOPER: And finally, just as with this book, it's sometimes hard to get people in the United States interested in Africa. There was some criticism early on in the schools that, you know, why you open schools in South Africa, why not here at home where there's plenty of problems with the education system?
WINFREY: Well, you know, I -- I feel strongly and believe in education here and support, you know, education here and have put 100 men through Morehouse and just recently -- I love the Ron Clark Academy in Atlanta. I think they are model school for what should be happening in schools throughout this country. And there are many other model schools in this country.
But the real -- the real story in the United States is -- is that you have to go to school. If you don't go to school, somebody comes looking for you to say, "Why aren't you in school?" Not only do you have to go to school, but you get to go to school, and you get education for free.
As you will recognize when you read this great book of short stories, "Say You're One of Them," that is not the case for children throughout the world. And particularly in many countries in Africa, where boys are allowed to go to school, girls aren't allowed to go to school. Where, if you do go to school, you've got to be able to pay for your uniform and pay for school fees.
And many times, families have to choose between, "Do I educate my son or daughter, or do we eat?" And when you have that choice, people choose to eat or to do whatever they can to scrape by. So, you know, I believe that education is the greatest, greatest gift that you can give to anybody.
COOPER: That is, I think, in the end, for me, at least, the takeaway from this book, that -- that all these kids, even though they are facing unbelievable obstacles, even though they are surrounded by adults who have no control over their own lives, let alone their children's lives, there is this strength and resiliency in the fight of -- in the face of, in some, cases great evil. In the face of great hardship and poverty and depravation, there is this resilience and this drive to survive. And you see that every day in Africa all over the continent.
WINFREY: Yes, you do. And you know, one of the reasons why I love this book, Anderson, is because, to be able to see it through the eyes of a child, allows you to create a space in your heart where you can see it for the rest of the world. And so that's what's great about this book.
COOPER: Oprah, thanks a lot for talking.
WINFREY: I'm happy to be on 360 with you.
COOPER: All right. Just a reminder, after 360, you can go to CNN.com/OprahBookClub to see the full Oprah Book Club event that began earlier tonight. It was a lot of fun.
Up next, the latest on the track of Tropical Storm Ida, just under hurricane strength. It's expected to make land fall, possibly near the Mississippi-Alabama state line sometime overnight.
Also ahead, reliving history.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RONALD REAGAN, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Why Mikhail Gorbachev nearly did not hear this famous plea, because it almost didn't make it into the speech. New information 20 years after the Berlin Wall came down.
Our historic "Shot of the Day" and the Cold War, coming up.
COOPER: All right, we have more breaking news. Erica Hill has a "360 Bulletin" -- Erica.
ERICA HILL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, that breaking news on the skirmish at seas. South Korea's Yonhap News Agency reporting a South Korean warship shot at a North Korean vessel that crossed the disputed naval border between the two countries; the North Korean ship reportedly returning fire.
Now, apparently this is nothing new. The two navies have clashed along that same line before, both in 1999 and in 2002.
Tropical Storm Ida, now just under hurricane strength, is expected to make landfall overnight, possibly near the Mississippi- Alabama state line; the governors of those two states, along with Florida and Louisiana, all declaring emergencies. Ida could bring high winds, up to eight inches of rain, and flooding.
The Dow Industrials today hitting their highest level in more than a year, closing up 203 points to finish the day at 10,266; The NASDAQ surging 41, the S&P 500 tacking on 23.
To West Virginia now, where a 9-year-old boy stopped a carjacking. Malik Youngblood's mom went into a convenience store. She left him in the car with his three brothers, all ages 3 and under. And that's when they got an unexpected visitor.
I'll let Malik take the rest of the story from here.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MALIK YOUNGBLOOD, FOILED CARJACKING: So I just came and opened the door and tried to -- he told me to get out. But I didn't get out. And I yanked the keys out of the ignition and had them like this. And then he tried to get it. And he banged my head against the door. And then he got out and started running. And then he ran across the street.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HILL: Yes. How about that?
HILL: But they caught him. And he's now being charged, I believe, with grand larceny and four counts of kidnapping.
COOPER: Wow. Unbelievable.
For tonight's "Shot," the fall of the Berlin Wall happened 20 years ago today; built, of course, in 1961, covering 96 miles. The wall toppled November 9, 1989. Who can forget this? A historic moment, one that marked the end of the Cold War.
A lot of people believe the incredible events of this day were triggered two years later when President Ronald Reagan stood before the wall and said this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REAGAN: Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: It's interesting to note, Reagan almost never spoke those words. In "The Wall Street Journal," Anthony Doland (ph), his former chief speechwriter, says the State Department was battling the White House over the remarks, arguing that Reagan should not say "Tear down this wall," because the State Department believed the wall would remain for decades to come.
In the end, the words stayed, the wall did not.
Hey, that does it for "360." Thanks for watching.
I'll see you tomorrow night.
"LARRY KING" starts now.