Return to Transcripts main page
ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Religion Violence & South Park; Radical Islam vs. Free Speech; What a Headache; Iceland Volcano; Prison for Movie Star's Son; Greensburg, Kansas Going Green
Aired April 20, 2010 - 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, radical Islamists right here in America threaten the creators of "South Park." A warning the radicals call it that they will probably be murdered for their portrayal of the prophet Muhammad. Who are these people and why do they think that freedom of speech is punishable by death? We're "Keeping Them Honest" tonight.
Also tonight, the cloud of ash that has caused billions, stranded tens of thousands of passengers: we'll have the latest on the pain and the ash. Will it let up enough for travelers to finally get home?
And a remarkable look at the volcano as close as you can get and still survive on our "360 Dispatch."
And later, Michael Douglas's son convicted of selling meth and cocaine facing ten years in prison; his father, begging the court for mercy. You'll see the letter he wrote about the addiction problem the Douglas family has and why he thinks his son deserves rehab and not prison. And you'll also see what the judge decided on "Crime and Punishment" tonight.
First up, a threat against the creators of "South Park" a warning by a radical Islamic group right here in America, right here in New York that they will end up dead because of a cartoon. Now we're going to show you the cartoon in a moment that has so enraged these radical Islamists. But before we do, just think about this for a moment.
We live in a country which prides itself on its freedom of speech, in which we can say whatever is in our hearts, in our minds, as long as it is not threatening to someone else, as long as it's not calling for violence against somebody else.
Now, you might not like "South Park" the cartoon. You might think its offensive. You might decide it's not something you want to watch. That's up to you.
But the notion that some radical Islamic group in America would make a threat -- even a veiled one -- against two men's lives because of it is chilling. And for the people making this threat, that is precisely the point, to chill discussion, to chill debate.
By the way, these radicals say it's not a threat, just a warning. You can be the judge of that. For Trey Parker and Matt Stone, the two guys behind "South Park", it is or could be a matter of life. Because of a cartoon in which they made fun of a number of religious deities and figures, they also portrayed the prophet Muhammad, censored in doing that by their own network; they portrayed him as being inside a bear costume.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You've done this town a huge favor, Muhammad.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hold on a second. Stop, there's some extremists threatening that if we give Muhammad to the celebrities, they're going to bomb us.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, it's just a stupid threat. Come on, we don't want to piss off Tom Cruise again.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right. We got him, Tom.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Muhammad, are you ok?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: So that's what this group is objecting to, a bear suit.
Now, I want to bring you over to the wall here and just show you what they put on their Web site, talking about Parker and Stone because of this bear suit right over here. This is the Web site, RevolutionMuslim.com. Now, on the note it says -- and you can decide if it's a threat or not -- reads, "We have to warn Matt and Trey what they are doing is stupid and they will probably end up like Theo Van Gogh for airing this show. This is not a threat," the posting goes on to say, "but a warning of what will likely happen to them."
The Web site Revolution Muslim also had information about where the South Park creators lived and work and a sermon by one of the cleric in Yemen that outlines the punishment under Islam for blasphemy.
Theo Van Gogh, you'll remember is the Dutch filmmaker murdered in 2004 after making a movie critical of Islam. He was shot on the street, his throat cut, a knife plunged into his chest.
His killer wrote a note also threatening western governments, Jews, and the writer of his film, Ayaan Hirsi Ali. She went into hiding, had protection ever since, she moved to the U.S. We're going to talk to her tonight.
But Theo Van Gogh is not the only example of this kind of threat and danger. A year later, an attempt to trigger a debate on free speech, the editors of a Danish newspaper published cartoons depicting the prophet Muhammad. It sparked worldwide protest in which dozens were killed. The cartoonists have to go into hiding. And of course, there's author Salman Rushdie and his book, "The Satanic Verses," which caused so much controversy, it earned him a fatwa, or a religious decree from Iran's Ayatollah Khomeini calling for his death. That was 21 years ago.
And now, on the streets of New York and online, there is this radical Islamic group and they are focusing on the creators of "South Park."
Drew Griffin tonight is "Keeping Them Honest."
DREW GRIFFIN, CNN SPECIAL INVESTIGATION UNIT CORRESPONDENT: Revolution Muslim says despite their provocative posting, complete with the photo of a murder victim, the group says it's only issuing a call to protest, not violence.
Contacted by CNN, the creator of the posting said Revolution Muslim only wants those offended to be able to voice their opposition by letters to the show's creators.
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST (voice-over): Certainly, the comment on this Web site is very ugly, but it is certainly not specific enough to get anyone arrested at this point.
GRIFFIN (on camera): How are you?
YOUNES ABDULLAH MOHAMMAD, "REVOLUTION MUSLIM": Good.
GRIFFIN: Last year CNN interviewed one of the founders of this radical Muslim group on the streets of New York. Younes Mohammad chose his words carefully, telling us he saw nothing wrong with Americans dying in the 9/11 terrorist attack.
MOHAMMAD: I don't think it was wrong. I think it was justified.
GRIFFIN: And then adding he does not encourage any violence on U.S. soil.
It's a word game, federal officials tell us, that allows Revolution Muslim to post support of terrorists, like the alleged Ft. Hood Texas shooter, while the Web site itself is protected under free speech laws of the United States.
Younes Mohammad told us he doesn't see anything wrong with his messages. He dislikes the United States; he yearns for a Muslim world.
MOHAMMAD: We're commanded to terrorize the disbelievers and this is a religion like --
GRIFFIN: You're commanded to terrorize the disbelievers --
MOHAMMAD: And the Koran says very clearly, in the Arabic language, (INAUDIBLE) this means terrorize them. It's a command from Allah.
GRIFFIN: So you're commanded --
MOHAMMAD: To terrorize them --
GRIFFIN: To terrorize anybody who doesn't believe?
MOHAMMAD: It doesn't mean, you define terrorism as going and killing an innocent civilian. That's what your --
GRIFFIN: How do you?
MOHAMMAD: I define terrorism as making them fearful so that they think twice before they go rape your mother or kill your brother or go on to your land and try to steal your resources.
GRIFFIN: The clip on the site ends with a warning on a graphic directed at Parker and Stone that the dust will never settle down.
Drew Griffin, CNN, Atlanta.
COOPER: And that is certainly what they are trying to do in this, to terrorize. Let us know what you think. You can join the live chat right now at AC360.com.
Up next, we continue on this. Ayaan Hirsi Ali, who lives under threat every day because of her criticism of Islam.
And later, Gary Tuchman in the shadow of Iceland's volcano. We'll have Chad Myers on where the ash plume is headed now and your questions about all those stranded flights from our own Richard Quest who's stranded himself. You can text them along with your name to AC360 or 22360. Standard rates apply.
COOPER: "South Park" creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker did a pair of episodes which made fun of celebrities, but also happened to feature Jesus, Moses, Buddha, and the prophet Muhammad. They didn't even show Muhammad, they weren't allowed to by their network. He was disguised in a bear suit.
A radical Muslim Web site put up what they called a warning to Parker and Stone saying that they would probably end up like Theo Van Gogh, a Dutch filmmaker who was butchered by a radical Islamist.
The Web page included a photo of Theo Van Gogh's murder. He was killed after making a movie called "Submission about Islam" written by my next guest, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, who has had to live in with protection ever since. Thanks very much for joining us, Ayaan.
AYAAN HIRSI ALI, AUTHOR, "INFIDEL": Thank you, Anderson. Thank you for having me. And I just have to make one correction, which is I had protection before I made "Submission" and Theo Van Gogh did not and that's why he ended up dead and I'm still alive.
COOPER: This radical group says that this is not a threat against the people behind "South Park" but a warning about what will probably happen to them. They also, on their Web site, provide information about where these two live, a link to a sermon by a wanted cleric about the punishment for blasphemy. Do you think this is a threat?
ALI: This is clearly a threat. The fact that they have looked for their addresses, found them, put them up, you know, on the air for any radical jihadist to go and, you know, claim martyrdom, that is all part of a threat. And that is exactly the process before Theo Van Gogh was killed after we made the film.
There were lots of radical groups sharing his movements, his address, his pictures, and lots of threats coming in to my e-mail and also to him.
COOPER: So when people say, well, look, this is just some obscure Web site, you know a bunch of street corner preachers in New York, they don't really amount to much, you say, that doesn't matter?
ALI: Well, the killer of Theo Van Gogh, Mohammad Bouyeri (ph), was considered a marginal figure and his name did not even emerge until after Theo was killed and after Theo's death was realized. In fact, the Secret Service announced that he was the leader of the Hasta group, the group that they now put a lot of attention and most of them are in jail right now.
But that was -- it started out with -- it's a small group, insignificant, radical, marginal so on, and so forth. But they were not marginal. It's their group leader who followed, surveilled Theo as he went from his house to his work on a daily basis until he found a moment that he could attack.
COOPER: The chilling effect something like this has, I mean, I think, cannot be overestimated. We've already seen the Met Museum in New York reportedly is not going to show any portrayals of Muhammad in their Islamic art exhibition.
And I want to show you some stills from "South Park" where I guess the network didn't even allow them to show Muhammad or portray a cartoon version, so they had him disguised in a bear suit. I mean, why does it outrage this group so much to have any portrayal, or even in a bear costume?
ALI: Well, because -- I grew up as a Muslim, and growing up as a Muslim, I learned, you don't criticize Allah, the Koran, or the prophet Muhammad. And you should, you know, participate in condemning and eventually killing anybody who does.
So that is just what the religion tells us. That's what scripture tells us. There are some people who want to act on it and there are some people who don't. The majority of Muslims do not want to act on the scripture, but they are silent when fellow Muslims do. COOPER: In other -- but I mean, like in "South Park", I mean, this cartoon, and whether you like "South Park" or not, I mean, they show Buddha snorting cocaine, you don't see death threats or warnings from Buddhists.
ALI: And you don't see death threats from Jews when Moses is depicted in an unbecoming position and you don't see threats from Christians when Jesus Christ is made, you know, is put in a satire position. So it is only -- and this is the strong thing.
The "South Park" episode last weekend was not just funny and it wasn't just witty, it was also -- it addressed an essential piece in the times that we are living. There is one group of people, one religion that is claiming to be above criticism. And I hope that in the aftermath of this, that we discuss that.
When Theo Van Gogh and I made "Submission", we wanted to address the position of women in Islam and what the Koran said about Islam. Or the Koran said about women. Instead, we ended up in a discussion about, you know, are Muslims more vulnerable or not, should we talk about protection, can they be offended or not?
It became a side discussion and I hope that now we can, in the United States of America, say the freedom of expression, the First Amendment, that is our -- that is the first fundamental -- and the most fundamental basis of our society.
COOPER: I want to play a video of something they said about doing this episode about the 200th episode.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you afraid that if the network allows you to unveil the prophet Muhammad, that you will be bombed?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We don't want -- we'd be so hypocritical against our own message -- our own spot if we said, ok, well, let's not make fun of them because they might hurt us. Like that's -- that's messed up to have that kind of thought process. Ok, we'll rip on the Catholics, because they won't hurt us, but we won't rip on them because they might hurt us.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: And so your message tonight, the importance of this is what?
ALI: It is an assault on the freedom of expression. And we have to defend it tooth and nail. That means we all stand by Mr. Stone and Mr. Parker.
COOPER: Do you still live with guards? I mean, do you still have protection all around you?
ALI: I have protection, but there comes a time when it's not just Mr. Parker and Mr. Stone, but if the entertainment business were to take this on and just show how ridiculous this is, that there would be too many people to threaten, and then I think at that time I won't need protection and the gentlemen who made "South Park" also will not need protection.
But it is something as a community and as a society we have to take them on. And that means, I think, scrutinizing Islam, criticizing it in the same way that we criticize Christianity, Judaism and other ideologies and other religions, equal opportunity. You know, scrutiny, equal opportunity offense.
COOPER: And in this case, equal opportunity comedy. Ayaan Hirsi Ali, I appreciate you being with us. Thank you.
ALI: You are welcome, thank you.
COOPER: But as always you can learn a lot more online at AC360.com, where tonight you'll find a link to Ayaan Hirsi Ali's foundation which fights for separation in mosques and state especially when it comes to women's rights.
Just ahead, the Iceland volcano "Up Close" in the air and on the ground. Plus, do you ever wonder why there's lightning in some of the ash plumes? Some remarkable pictures we're going to show you. We'll talk to Chad Myers also ahead.
And later: the son of actor Michael Douglas facing ten years in prison for selling drugs; his family's heartfelt effort to keep him out of prison. They say he needs treatment. You'll see what the judge decided today and what our own Jeffrey Toobin says and hear from an addiction specialist about the problem that strikes millions of families, famous or not.
COOPER: Remember the former college student charged with hacking into Sarah Palin's e-mail account during the presidential race? His trial has begun. We'll have the latest on that ahead.
But first, some other important stories we're following. Joe Johns has the "360 News and Business Bulletin" -- Joe.
JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, President Obama has been privately reaching out to candidates for the pending Supreme Court vacancy. That's according to an administration source involved in the selection process. The talks are described as phone conversations rather than face-to-face interviews.
Justice John Paul Stevens, who is retiring in June after almost 35 years on the court, turned 90 just today.
Republicans are slamming Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid after he acknowledged that he held a fund-raiser on Wall Street earlier this year. President Obama made ties to Wall Street a political issue last week when he singled out Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senator John Cornyn, both Republicans, for their recent meeting with financial leaders. Meantime, Goldman Sachs, which is being sued by the Securities and Exchange Commission for allegedly defrauding investors out of $1 billion, reported a first quarter profit of $3.5 billion. Facing tough questions from reporters today, executives at the investment bank rejected most of the SEC's claims.
Civil Rights pioneer Dorothy Height has died at the age of 98. In the 1960s, Height worked alongside the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr., John Lewis and other leading names in the movement. She was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2004. President Obama called Height a hero.
And a British woman who has never visited China has suddenly started speaking with a Chinese accent after a severe migraine attack.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: On the day that my voice changed, I found it difficult to speak, and when I did speak, it sounds Chinese.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JOHNS: According to reports, doctors believe the migraine damaged the 35-year-old's brain, causing a condition known as foreign accent syndrome -- never heard of that one.
COOPER: Yes, never even heard of that. That's so weird. Why would that happen?
JOHNS: I don't know. I'm kind of gullible, so --
COOPER: Yes. Apparently it's real, though, from what we understand.
COOPER: We'll check in with Joe a little bit later.
Joe, let's take time with our "Beat 360" winners, our daily challenge to viewers to come up with a caption better than the one we can come up with for a photo we put on the blog every day.
Tonight's picture, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner talking to Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke while testifying before House lawmakers about the collapse of Lehman Brothers.
The staff winner tonight is Steve, his captioned, "Ben, do you really think we look like Toby and Josh from the West Wing?"
JOHNS: Not too bad.
COOPER: The winner is Kara from Charlottesville, her caption "So I'm going with volcanic ash as the cause of the collapse. Think they'll buy it?" Kara congratulations your "Beat 360" T-shirt is on the way. Still ahead -- is that a flush -- the latest on the Iceland volcano that's still erupting, but maybe weakening which is certainly a good news but there's also apparently some new threat to worry about, we'll call it the volcano next door. We'll have all of that plus which airports are now open across Europe.
And Michael Douglas's son, have you heard about this he gets prison time in a drug dealing case. What the actor said in a letter to the judge, ahead.
COOPER: A volcano in Iceland continues to create problems around the world, but there are signs tonight the volcano may be calming down a bit, even as that massive ash cloud continues to blow toward Great Britain.
Gary Tuchman has seen the ash cloud "Up Close", near the volcano, a surreal and unnerving experience to say the least. Here's his "360 Dispatch."
GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): At the base of the Iceland volcano, the day is cold and very clear. But up the road a short distance, what looks like a big gray curtain that very quickly closes on us. There is nothing gradual about it. Visibility drops to near zero as we drive through the volcano's giant ash plume.
The view out the side window looks like something you might see from the window of a submarine. You could see virtually nothing.
(on camera): Only ten minutes away from here it's sunny. There are almost no clouds in the sky. But now it feels like nighttime. It's literally raining ash. The ash is going into my eyes, it's on the streets.
We are south of the volcano. This is the way the wind is blowing. In the western part of Iceland, Reykjavik, the capital, where most of the people live, life is completely normal. The winds headed west.
But south of the volcano, east of the volcano, the farmer owners, the land owners, the people who live here are suffering. Their properties are getting destroyed because of this ash storm and we don't know yet how bad the health effects are.
(voice-over): We asked the helicopter pilot, a very good one at that, to get as close to the volcano as he dared. He took us within several hundred feet. It looked like an out of control fireworks show with bottle rockets going haywire, shooting what looked like rocks, but were actually boulders out of the crater. The steam kept changing colors and shapes, towering thousands of feet in the hair.
I asked the pilot his first impression. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This looks like the gates to hell.
TUCHMAN: And this is what happens after the ash lands. Olafur Eggertsson is a farmer who is now dealing with a 2,500-acre farm consumed by ash that has turned into muck and mud.
He tells us, "This has been in my family for three generations; me, my father, my grandfather. That's why it hurts so much." His family has owned the farm near the volcano for 104 years, but the volcano had been quiet for about 190 years.
"Why would this happen to such a beautiful place? What are we being punished for?"
Our visit with Olafur was on Sunday. We thought we would see how he was doing on Monday, but the visibility made it difficult to find his farm, because for the second time in three days, it was getting pummeled by ash from the eruption up above.
COOPER: Gary, I know you met with one of Iceland's top volcanic experts today. What does he think about the future of this volcano?
TUCHMAN: Well, Anderson, right now, here, it's Wednesday morning, 2:30 a.m., but Magnus Gudmundsson (ph), who is a scientist at the University of Iceland tells us that on Tuesday, Monday, and Sunday, the eruptions were much weaker than Saturday, Friday, and Thursday. And he says, therefore, there's a very good indication that the worst is over, but he doesn't want to make any guarantees.
So being the inquisitive guy I am, I said, "So do you say, maybe 70, 80, 90 percent chance that the worst is over?" And he looked at me, very amused, and he said, "You can't put percentages to volcanoes." And I said, "Ok cool, we'll leave it that."
COOPER: All right, Gary, we'll leave it at that as well. Gary, thanks.
Much more on the volcano ahead. Is the worst over or could there be a bigger eruption ahead? We're talking with our own expert, meteorologist Chad Myers. He's going to answer some of your questions as well. You can text your name and question to ac360 or 22360, standard rates apply.
Plus actor Michael Douglas begging a judge to go easy on his son, a convicted drug dealer. He says his son comes from a long line of addicts and needs help, not prison. Should that be a factor in cases like these? What do you think? We'll talk about that.
COOPER: As we said before the break, the eruptions from the Iceland volcano are weakening; certainly good news there. But there are still a lot of concerns about what could happen next and how long these flights are going to be delayed for. One of the biggest dangers of the volcano's that's erupting right now could actually set off another one nearby. It's happened before. There's also the ash cloud that's making its way across Europe.
Still, meteorologist Chad Myers joins me now. So Chad what is the latest as far as the cloud of ash? Today, is it a lot better?
CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: It's better than it was the first day, obviously because the first day, the cloud went up to 40,000 feet. Today the highest ash cloud was 18,000 feet; easy for planes to fly over that. You have to realize, there's still going to be an ash layer somewhere below 18,000 feet and above about 12,000 feet that planes may have to fly around or maybe not be able to get anywhere near in the future.
This is not over by any stretch. The last time this erupted there was a two-year stretch through the fissures and all of this ash thrown up into the sky in the spring being taken north and then to the south by a moving jet stream and that happens a lot in the spring.
The jet goes up, it warms up, the jet goes down, it cools down. We know how spring can be cold and hot. That's the reason, because the jet stream's moving north and south as well.
COOPER: So there are more airports open right now with obviously very long lines, but for all the worldwide chaos this volcano has created, it might just be the opening act. There could actually be more eruptions and ash from another volcano?
MYERS: No question about it. Every time that we've known about it, which is the past three eruptions since like 1600, every time this -- I'm going to call it the E-15 volcano -- because I can't say it -- E, and then 15 other vowels or consonants at the end of it. E-15, every time it goes off, this other one called Katla -- k-a-t-l-a -- goes off with it. And Katla is ten times larger of a volcano than E- 15 is.
So the good news is, at this point in time, Katla is under 1,500 feet of ice under a glacier. But if it starts to bubble, that water -- that ice will melt rather quickly and it will turn into a volcano as well.
COOPER: And I've seen pictures of the volcano, with what it looks like lightning inside it, almost. Why is that happening?
MYERS: Absolutely, lightning. Lightning is all the time, with a volcano like this. This is not Kilauea like in Hawaii where the lava just slowly oozes out. This is an explosive charge of gases and ash thrown up into the sky.
And when there's throwing up into the sky, at literally hundreds of miles per hour, it's like a million little people rubbing their feet on the carpet making shocks and making sparks, you know, in the wintertime when the humidity is low. You rub your feet, you touch the doorknob, you get a shock.
This is now rubbing all of these ash particles together, creating static, and the static electricity is one gigantic lightning show.
COOPER: It's amazing pictures. Chad, appreciate it. Thanks.
MYERS: You're welcome.
COOPER: Air travel is still a mess tonight, not nearly as big a mess as yesterday, although the backlog remains huge. A lot of flights resumed today. Even Britain reopened its air space.
I want to show you what the air space over Europe and the Atlantic Ocean looks like tonight. Half of Europe's flights were back in the air today, that's about 14,000 flights. Fewer than 9,000 were flying just last night.
Richard Quest is still here in the U.S., monitoring the situation, unable to get home, I guess until some time this weekend?
RICHARD QUEST, CNN, INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Time to get married and divorced before I get back to the U.K. because of the delays. One friend told me, went to get re-confirmed his ticket and was told that the soonest this airline could confirm him back to Europe was May the 1st.
COOPER: May the 1st?
QUEST: May the 1st.
If you look at this diagram tonight, and remember what we were talking about last night, about how the tracks show where the airlines are. But look to the left, and you can now see just off the northern coast of Canada, you see all those planes starting to move back and right up towards the top, heading towards Iceland, this is very good news.
COOPER: They're able to now fly over, I guess, the ash.
QUEST: This shows that the traffic is now moving back from the west to the east and people are able to fly again. The convoy of aviation is moving back across to Europe.
COOPER: But in order to get flights into the U.K. they actually changed what they considered the safety levels for ash, right?
Now, this has been interesting. Some would say they moved the goalpost, others would say it was modern technology. As a result of all the tests that they've done, they're able to raise what's called the engine tolerance of the aircraft.
In other words, the planes can accept more of this ash at lower density levels. And what the Civil Aviation Authority in the U.K. said, it was time to revise the rules. They still said airlines need to check the planes before and after such flights, but they did say it's now possible to actually fly in less dense conditions.
COOPER: We've got a text 360 question from Diane in Florida. She wants to know, "How is all this affecting domestic air travel in the U.S.?" I mean it has started to have a little bit of an impact here.
QUEST: It has a tangential effect in the sense of connecting passengers can't move on and there are maybe certain planes that are out of place in different areas and airlines, of course, U.S. carriers, are also losing millions of dollars a day and they'll hope to recoup that sometime probably in ticket prices.
But, by and large, it's just mainly international travel.
COOPER: But there have been a ton of people stuck at JFK; I mean for days now, living in these --
QUEST: Today I was at Newark and we saw people in cots, where they've been set up near the ground transportation area. They've been there four or five days.
Kennedy Airport, there are people -- they brought in mobile showers so that people can wash --
COOPER: Must be a really pleasant scene over there.
QUEST: I can only say, I didn't experience -- you know, I didn't want to go that far in my journalism. However, what I really -- the real point is, it's the tears that you see from people who have just about had enough. The frustration level, the frustration level boiled over today at Newark and people are angry, they want to get home, but they somehow -- it's that fascinating thing, Anderson, where you know there's just nothing you can do and it's no one's fault to blame.
COOPER: I mean airports are -- it's a nightmare to travel these days, as it is. It's just getting worse and worse, but I mean, there's nothing worse than being stuck in an airport and not having information. And getting the sense that no one is giving you the information they do have.
QUEST: And no one can do anything. But as I said, planes are flying, passengers are getting on. One good bit of news. Many people in the United States have decided not to take their trips, particularly business travelers. Therefore, that's freed up seats for tourists to go home and other people wait-listed.
COOPER: Would you advise someone that's thinking of traveling within the next couple of days to delay it?
QUEST: Anyone thinking of traveling in the next couple of days --
COOPER: Yes -- who didn't have to do it.
QUEST: They're barking mad if they actually go anywhere near an airport and you don't actually have to get on a plane.
COOPER: All right. Barking mad. Richard Quest, thank you very much. Appreciate it.
You can get the latest on volcano-related travel updates on our Web site AC360.com. That's my new phrase, barking mad.
Next on 360, actor Michael Douglas in court as his son learns his fate for dealing meth and cocaine, trying to keep him out of prison. What he wrote in the five-page letter to the judge ahead.
"Crime and Punishment" here in New York today; the son of actor Michael Douglas was sentenced on drug charges. 31-year-old Cameron Douglas was given five years in prison. He could have received ten years behind bars.
Douglas was convicted of selling large amounts of meth and coke. Before sentencing Michael Douglas wrote a personal plea to the judge asking for leniency and revealing the private pain of a famous family, who, as you're going to see, has experienced addiction and anguish for decades.
Here's Randi Kaye.
RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): No red carpet at federal court in Manhattan but that didn't keep the cameras away. Oscar-winning actor Michael Douglas was here to learn the fate of his son, Cameron Douglas, charged with dealing drugs.
A father's plea for mercy in the form of a five-page handwritten letter: "I love my son," the actor wrote, "but I'm not blind to his actions."
This was Michael Douglas' last shot at keeping his son out of prison and getting him into rehab. For decades, Cameron has been battling drugs and the law.
(on camera): July last year, the law caught up with Cameron again. He was arrested here at the trendy hotel Ganzborde (ph) in New York City and charged with dealing 500 grams of methamphetamine and 5 kilograms of cocaine.
Cameron pleaded guilty to the charges. He was facing up to ten years in prison.
(voice-over): In dozens of letters to the court, friends and family painted the picture of a boy under pressure, growing up in the shadow of his celebrity father and grandfather. Referring to his own father, veteran actor Kirk Douglas, Michael told the judge, "I have some idea of the pressure of finding your own identity with a famous father."
Cameron's mother told the judge, "My son felt defeated before he could even get out of the gate." Michael Douglas admits he was absent when his son was growing up, too busy making movies. Then at 13, Cameron was sent to boarding school and started smoking marijuana.
According to his lawyers, he longed for family and an identity and after his parents divorced, he found the next high. First cocaine, then heroin; injecting himself as often as six times a day. He calls his fellow addicts his family.
DR. REEF KARIM, ADDICTION SPECIALIST: When you call your drug addict friends your family, it means, literally, "This is where I fit in. These are the people that are going to stand by me."
KAYE: Cameron's father also tried to sway the judge by reminding him addiction runs in the family. Michael Douglas was treated for alcohol addiction. His brother died of a drug overdose.
KARIM: You're going to learn from that. And you're already genetically pre-wired, so it's a scary proposition.
KAYE: Cameron has been in jail for the last nine months, and according to his father's letter, he's been sober longer than any time since he was 13.
Before sentencing, Cameron Douglas apologized, saying he decided to take the right path. Minutes later, the judge sentenced him to five years in prison, drug treatment, if available. The judge told the court, the letters didn't acknowledge the impact on victims of society for dealing drugs.
(on camera): Michael Douglas held back tears. Cameron's mother cried. Their son left the courtroom without a word; just one final glance at his parents. After all these year, he had their full attention.
Randi Kaye, CNN, New York.
COOPER: Let's talk more about the addiction and legal angles on the case, joining me now: senior legal analyst, Jeff Toobin; and Dr. Reef Karim, who you just saw in Randi's report. He's a psychiatrist and addiction specialist.
So five kilos of cocaine, that's a lot of cocaine. I mean that's 11 pounds that he was selling.
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Yes. This is an interesting question about addiction, but that's not what he was convicted of and pled guilty to. He was a drug dealer. 11 pounds of cocaine, I don't care how addicted you are, that is not personal use cocaine. That is what a drug dealer --
COOPER: So he got five years. Was that a light sentence?
TOOBIN: It was in the middle to low range. He clearly could have gotten -- he could have gotten up to ten. And he did ok, but let's be clear about what he was sentenced for.
It wasn't the fact that he was a drug addict using drugs. It was that he was a drug dealer, selling drugs. COOPER: And I got out the question, had he been, you know, a poor person who didn't have the same kind of legal representation who was caught with 11 pounds of cocaine, would he have gotten a worse sentence?
TOOBIN: Well, it's hard to say. I mean he didn't get a slap on the wrist; he did a significant amount of time. But when you listen to the list of sad things that have happened to him, having a famous father, you know, having -- being sent away to boarding school, you know. The drug dealers that I've prosecuted had a hell of a lot worse problems than that, but they still were punished.
You know, I don't blame his parents for trying to help --
COOPER: Of course.
TOOBIN: -- but the list of problems he had is not the most tragic that I've ever heard. That's for sure.
COOPER: Dr. Reef, what about that? I mean people listening to this report shaking their heads saying like, "Ok, so he was sent to boarding school and had a famous dad." Is that really an excuse?
KARIM: Yes, a lot of people are saying, big deal. You're a celebrity, you've got it all. What's your problem? Why are you using drugs?
It comes down to your specific situation. I have drug addicts that I've treated that are high-end celebrities that have no coping skills and no ability to deal with life. And they can't deal with just basic day-to-day functions that most of us can.
I've also got people that have had horrific, horrific life sentences, so to speak, where they've encountered every abuse and trauma known to man, and they're ok. So it really depends on your coping skills.
Addiction is generally about 50 percent genetic predisposition, which he has, and 50 percent how do you cope with life and what kind of support system do you have.
COOPER: And do you find prison actually ever helps somebody? I mean -- can it be a good thing for him?
KARIM: Yes, this is a great question. And I've got a patient I'm dealing with this right now. Is where do you go from a public health problem versus a criminal justice problem? And, obviously, drugs is a public health problem on many levels from infections to HIV to all sorts of other things.
But for some people, they just don't get it. They don't get the wake-up call. Their bottom -- you know, the bottom that we talk about is death. And the only thing that they can do in regards to intervention is through the legal system or through medical system where they fry one of those organs like their liver or they end up in jail. That's the only way they're going to listen or they're going to respond to being possessed or under the influence of the drugs.
COOPER: But I mean in prison, Jeff, drugs are still available; things are smuggled in?
TOOBIN: Sometimes. Although, I would say most of the time particularly in a federal jail, where he is, which tend to be better disciplines. It's unlikely. Not impossible, but it's unlikely he will have access to drugs. At least according to his father, he has been clean for the past nine months.
One advantage of prison for him is that he will be forcibly restrained from getting more drugs. Now, whether that will last when he gets out or whether, in fact, he will contrive to get drugs. Remember, he was out on bail and his girlfriend smuggled him drugs in an electric toothbrush. That's why he got his bail revoked.
So this is a guy who's very determined to get drugs. We'll see whether he beats the prison system; we'll see whether he survives his sentence.
COOPER: It does seem extraordinary, doctor, for somebody who has an addiction problem to -- or maybe it's not extraordinary. I mean is it normal for someone with a severe addiction problem to then morph into selling large amounts of cocaine? I mean 11 pounds of cocaine and I can't remember how many pounds of meth or grams.
KARIM: Yes. Here's what usually happens. Here's the scenario. You're a drug addict, you're a user for whatever reasons, coping skill, whatever it is. The genetics.
You go on. You go on. You go on. Eventually your family us like, "Look, we can't do this anymore. We cannot support you in regards to your drug habit. We're going to cut you off financially."
What happens then is the person has no money and they still their entire community and system of friends are people that use drugs. So they get into the act of selling. And then they make their money to pay their rent and to eat their food by dealing. And then they end up becoming maybe a good dealer and they deal more and more and more until the legal system kicks in, like we're seeing now.
The other thing, Anderson, to keep in mind is in regards to him specifically, you have this live up to your expectation of your father and grandfather who are both successful. You've got entitlement because he's probably, you know, had a lot of resources and a lot of things in life that the average kid doesn't have.
And you have these kids who have everything so they're totally bored. And they're looking for sensational seeking, novelty seeking, something new. And a thing like prison, in regards to this case, as sad as it is and as tragic as it is, will be a complete wake-up call to literally no entitlement. There will be no entitlement in prison at all.
COOPER: Well, no doubt about that.
Dr. Reef, appreciate your being on with us. Thanks very much. Jeff Toobin as well.
COOPER: Up next, "Rebuilding America." Residents in Greensburg, Kansas going green after a tornado destroyed the town.
COOPER: Next month marks the third anniversary of a massive tornado that destroyed a Kansas town. And residents are rebuilding the town by trying to go green. With tonight's "Building up America" report, here's Tom Foreman.
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The tornado that ripped through Greensburg three years ago was a swirling black cloud with winds exceeding 200-miles-an-hour and it left this small town in ruins.
DARIN HEADRICK, SUPERINTENDENT: It was a 1.7-miles-wide tornado. And the town is 1.5 miles wide. So there was just very little on the peripheries that survived.
FOREMAN: But the storm of rebuilding that Daniel Wallach (ph) and others have led since is proving just as powerful, only this one is green.
HEADRICK: And so this town knew they had to have a unique identity.
FOREMAN (on camera): And that's what you set out to do with this plan.
FOREMAN (voice-over): With the strong backing of the local government, this town is being rebuilt as a model of environmental sustainability.
At the new school, drainage systems capturing conserved rain water to feed the landscaping. Salvaged wood covers the walls. Cabinets are made of wheat harvest leftovers and natural light pours in everywhere.
Superintendent Darin Headrick (ph) is expecting much lower power bills.
HEADRICK: During the day, we won't even turn lights on here to have classes and activities during the day. Our classrooms are the same way. We really don't know if we'll have to turn a light switch on during the day in the classrooms.
FOREMAN (on camera): That's a big savings.
HEADRICK: Well, we hope.
FOREMAN (voice-over): One of the town's many new wind turbines generates up to 30 percent of the new hospital's electricity, while power and water saving utilities dominate.
Mary Sweet runs the place.
(on camera): Were you skeptical of this idea to begin with?
MARY SWEET, KOWA COUNTY MEMORIAL HOSPITAL: Initially I was, yes. At first I thought it was a gimmick. It was a way to build back and have people help us. But like I mentioned, it's a road map of -- way to following construction.
FOREMAN: And you think it's working now?
SWEET: It's working wonderfully, yes.
FOREMAN (voice-over): And all over town, houses are springing up with eco-friendly designs. Like this model made of concrete, filled with smart utilities, feeding off solar cells, a machine that pulls drinking water from humidity in the air and so much more.
(on camera): What's going on up here
HEADRICK: Up here we have the roof top garden.
FOREMAN: You're going to grow food for the house right up here?
HEADRICK: Yes, absolutely.
FOREMAN: The pay-off -- by most accounts, this was a small dying town before the storm, but with each new stage of the green comeback, it is being reborn. And every day fewer folks are looking back.
HEADRICK: With a name like Greensburg, it was a natural fit.
FOREMAN: Tom Foreman, CNN, Greensburg, Kansas.
COOPER: Great to see them rebuilding.
That does it for 360. Thanks for watching.
"LARRY KING" starts now.
I'll see you tomorrow night.