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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Oil Spill Disaster; Rig Workers Seek Compensation; Epidemic Threatens Haiti
Aired May 7, 2010 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, HOST: Jim, thanks.
Tonight, breaking news and burning questions. The latest on the efforts to cap the oil leak deep beneath the Gulf of Mexico.
And keeping them honest: workers on that doomed rig now coming forward, claiming physical injury or post-traumatic stress, but saying they were pressured by the drilling company to sign away their rights to compensation.
Also tonight, who do you believe? The male escort who says a prominent anti-gay rights minister hired him for comfort, for company and sexual massages on a European vacation or the minister who says he took him along to carry his luggage? An exclusive interview with the escort, you can judge for yourself.
And later, Sean Penn on why tonight the father of a Haitian boy is mourning the loss of a child who simply did not have to die. We haven't forgotten Haiti and this totally preventable death is one reason why.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEAN PENN, FOUNDER, J/P HAITIAN RELIEF ORGANIZATION: I don't want to get into a finger-pointing because I know how passionate so many are. But if one more person tells me that they're an expert from Africa and I'm an actor from Hollywood, I'm going to get on here, and I'll tell you every name of every (INAUDIBLE) at log base that lives or dies with the same disease that's going to kill these people if people don't start doing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: We begin tonight with breaking news from a mile beneath the Gulf of Mexico. Crews up above, as we speak, maneuvering that giant containment vessel into position. They have almost got it there, trying to cap the gusher that's been poisoning lands and sea for the last two weeks.
Now, the slick from it is now drifting westward toward the Mississippi Delta. Federal authorities today are expanding the area off-limits to fishing and closing the Breton National Wildlife Refuge to speed cleanup operations there.
Another view of the oil here from just beneath the surface. This is what it looks like underwater. All those dots are actually oil.
Crews have now dumped more than a quarter million gallons of dispersant to try to break up the oil. They've laid out nearly 800,000 feet of containment booms. Two hundred fifty-six vessels are now involved in the effort.
But none is more important as the vessels now on scene, directly above the leaking wellhead and deep under water. One of them is controlling a remotely operated robot sub -- this is one of the images of it. The plume you see is leaking oil, pouring out of the seabed a mile down -- this one of the smaller leaks.
I want to bring you to the wall and show you what's being done right now to cap the main leak. That's really, of course, where the biggest problem lies. This is the animation we've created.
Here, you have the crews out today with the help of those subs. Let me just show you what's going on.
They've got that four-story, 100-ton open-bottom bob. They've tried it before but only in several hundred feet of water, not 5,000. It's now just within a few hundred feet of the prime leak. They're hoping it in position by midnight Eastern Time.
And if all goes well, they're going to be running a pipe in the bottom of the box all the way up to a tanker on the surface, and they hope to start pumping out oil by as early as next week into these tankers on the surface.
So, that's the latest information. But new information is coming to light about British Petroleum and the other company which actually is in control of the rig. What happened after the rig blew up? We're keeping them honest tonight.
Eleven oil workers died when the rig blew up. Some of the survivors are now coming forward. They're saying that shortly after the blast, before they even had a chance to tell their loved ones they were OK, lawyers for the drilling company came to see them. They say they were sequestered away from the media, from lawyers and family members, and asked to sign letters like this one. We've obtained a copy.
It includes the following passages. It says, quote, "I was not a witness to the incident requiring the evacuation and have no firsthand or personal knowledge regarding the incident." It also says, quote, "I was not injured as a result of the incident or evacuation."
Now, some of the workers say they were pressured to sign this document and that the letters are now being used against them as they seek compensation for psychiatric problems or physical injuries from the blast.
Kurt Arnold is a lawyer for some of the workers. He joins us now.
Kurt, how soon after the explosion are you saying the company tried to get these workers to sign these waivers?
KURT ARNOLD, ATTORNEY FOR SOME OIL RIG SURVIVORS: Good evening, Anderson.
What you really need to understand is that the litigation machine took place right away. Most of these survivors were on a boat that should have gone to shore, but instead, they kept them out right by the drilling rig watching the fires, essentially where their friends had perished and were missing. And they kept them there so that, I think, that they could get their litigation machine essentially in place.
And so, they get to shore 48 -- 40 to 48 hours after the accident. And before they can go home and before they can even go see the doctor at their request, they're asked to sign a statement saying -- the prepared statement by insurance adjuster saying that they're not injured.
COOPER: But now, the company, Transocean, they did provide doctors for them, didn't they?
ARNOLD: Well, yes and no. I mean, when -- some of my clients went to the counseling table to get their appointments and to go -- you know, and set up therapy. Before they were allowed to go through that therapy, they had to sign statements. Now, there were some doctors there. But, you know, ultimately, nobody was allowed to get a good checkup for smoke inhalation, certainly not the other things that followed.
COOPER: Well, let me ask you, though -- I mean, if somebody did -- if one of your clients did witness this incident and one of your client was hurt in some way, psychologically or physically, why would they sign this waver?
ARNOLD: Well, you have -- particularly the young guys, you have a company man asking you to initial a preprinted statement. At this point in time, you've got to remember, it's been 60 hours since they've slept. And it's been a very traumatic experience because you've got to remember how close these people are. I mean, ultimately, I have guys that were knocked unconscious who signed it because, you know, they were just doing it because they were told to do it.
I mean, if you ask a lot of questions out there, you lose your job. And so, you know, like I said, at the same place that they're trying to get them to sign their statement, OK, they would sign the statement and literally, they would turn around and make a doctor's appointment. Why would you be making a doctor's appointment unless you were hurt?
COOPER: No doubt some people watching this, you know, can't decide whether this is callousness on the part of the company just trying to protect themselves or whether some of your clients may be trying to, you know, make the most of the situation and get some money out of this company. We reached out to Transocean for a statement about this. And they sent us this statement from -- it says, quote, "From the beginning, our focus has been on the crew members and their families, working with all parties in the response efforts and conducting a Transocean investigation into the incident. At this time, it would be inappropriate to comment on litigation."
How much are you going after Transocean for?
ARNOLD: Well, I mean, ultimately, the jury's going to decide that. But I want -- I want to make a quick point about that. You got to remember, by the time these guys get home, OK, and get to sleep, they've got phone calls the next day from adjusters trying to come out and meet them and show them releases and maybe give them a little bit of money. I mean, they haven't even been allowed to see their own doctor.
And so, you hear all this talk about -- oh, we're going to take responsibility, we're going to take responsibility, I'll tell you something interesting -- my co-counsel, Jay Kilpatrick in Mississippi, he asked them, "Will you commit to continue their wages?" And they wouldn't even commit to that.
So, I -- you know, they say one thing to the public, but privately, you know, they've got investigators and adjusters crawling all around, trying to get these guys, you know, ultimately, put them in a bad situation.
COOPER: All right. Kurt Arnold, we'll continue to follow it. Appreciate your time. Thank you.
COOPER: Let us know what you think about this, what you think of these lawsuits. Join the live chat right at AC360.com.
Up next: an anti-gay rights activist hires a male escort for paid trip to Europe. The prominent anti-gay rights activist and minister who helped found the Family Research Council says he just wanted a travel companion and someone to help carry the luggage. Tonight, the young escort is talking about the sexual massages he says he provided. Hear for yourself tonight, only on 360.
Also, tonight, the army doctor refusing to go back to Afghanistan because he wants proof President Obama, the commander-in-chief, was actually born in America. If you thought the birthers are gone, they are back. Tonight, we question the colonel.
ANNOUNCER: Recently on 360: Michael Lewis, Dr. Phil, Demi Moore, Douglas Brinkley, Shakira. You don't have to miss the big interviews. Set your DVR for A.C. 360.
COOPER: Tonight, a leading opponent of gay marriage, of gays and lesbians adopting kids, and equal right for gay people in general, is now entangled in a sex scandal. George Rekers helped found the socially conservative Family Research Council. He's accused of hiring a male escort who advertises on an explicit Web site and also taking him on a sexually-charged European vacation.
For the record, Rekers denies the sexual part. The allegations were first reported in the "Miami New Times," a local alternative newspaper.
Tonight, Randi Kaye talks to the young man who was hired by Mr. Rekers. Tonight, he's speaking for the first time on camera.
RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): He calls himself Lucien. He's a paid male escort who says he only advertises his services on the Web site Rentboy.com, where visitors can select among hundreds of male escorts who advertise in suggestive and revealing poses. That Web site is where Lucien said he was first contacted by George Rekers, a professor and Baptist minister who has weighed in on almost every peace piece of anti-gay legislation around the country.
What's not in dispute is that Rekers and Lucien just returned from a two-week European vacation and that Lucien was hired to help with the bags. This photo was snapped at Miami International Airport. But Lucien also says, for the trip to Madrid and London, he was to give Rekers what Lucien called "sexual massages" every day.
"LUCIEN," MALE ESCORT: He basically got excited. That was the whole case.
KAYE (on camera): So, he wanted you to touch him?
"LUCIEN": Well, yes.
KAYE: Did you have sex with him on the trip?
KAYE: Did he ask you to?
"LUCIEN": Not at all.
KAYE (voice-over): Lucien showed me the contract he signed with Rekers. For $75 a day, it says he must carry the bags, provide a massage for at least one hour every day of the trip in their shared room. Plus, spend at least eight hours a day with him, including two meals.
On Rekers' Web site, a very different account of how he met Lucien. "By interviewing different people who might be able to help, and did not even find out about his travel assistant's Internet advertisements offering prostitution activity until after the trip was in progress. There was nothing inappropriate with this relationship." And he emphasized he "was not involved in any illegal or sexual behavior with his travel assistant." (on camera): Rekers is a board member for the NARTH, the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality, a group that says it helps people with, quote, "unwanted homosexual attractions." He's also the co-founder of the Family Research Council, which promotes the traditional family unit.
(voice-over): And in 2008, here in Florida, George Rekers served as an expert witness in a case to uphold the law banning gays and lesbians from adopting.
(on camera): In his writings, he called gays a, quote, "deviant segment of society." The state of Florida paid him about $120,000 for his testimony. Attorney General Bill McCollum's office told us Rekers was recommended after an exhaustive search, and because he had, quote, "exceptional credentials."
(voice-over): Wayne Besen is with Truth Wins Out, a group that exposes what it sees as hypocrisy in the anti-gay movement.
WAYNE BESEN, EXEC. DIRECTOR, TRUTH WINS OUT: He has helped create anti-gay attitudes and justified discrimination across the country. It seems Rekers doesn't think gay people should raise boys. He thinks he should rent boys. So, I think he's quite the hypocrite there.
KAYE: Lucien says Rekers knew he was gay before the trip because he had told him about his boyfriends.
(on camera): Does he still deny to you that he's gay?
"LUCIEN": Yes, yes. You know, I actually asked him over the phone, you know, "Do you think you're gay?" And he just said, "No."
KAYE (voice-over): Lucien told me Rekers had asked him not to share his story with the media.
"LUCIEN": He just didn't want me to mention the massage aspect, you know? That's what it really was.
KAYE (on camera): And he asked you not to.
"LUCIEN": Yes, he had asked me not to.
KAYE (voice-over): In response to the publicity, NARTH, where Rekers is a board member, released this statement saying it "takes seriously the accusations that have been made." In response to an e- mail from CNN, Rekers wrote, "I am retaining the services of a defamation attorney in this matter, because the fact is I am not gay and never have been."
Lucien, meanwhile, says he feels sorry for Rekers. He enjoyed their European vacation together and would like to be his friend. He wants him to stop making anti-gay statements.
Randi Kaye, CNN, Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
COOPER: One final note: The Family Research Council, which George Rekers helped found, released a statement today distancing themselves from him.
In fact, they say they had to check their historical records to verify that he was in fact a member of the original board. They went on to say in part, "FRC has had no contact with Dr. Rekers or knowledge of his activities in over a decade. So, FRC can provide no further insight into these allegations."
And they added, "While we were disappointed when any Christian leader engages in the very activities that they preach against, it is not surprising. The Scriptures clearly teach the fallen nature of all people. We each have a choice to act upon that nature or accept the forgiveness offered by grace through faith in Jesus Christ."
Well, just ahead tonight: Sean Penn from Haiti on a life lost and why so many others are still now in jeopardy.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PENN: This is the beginning unless everybody realizes that the disaster is still on. This is a disaster and a bigger one than the earthquake waiting to happen.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Also tonight, we questioned the army colonel who's refusing to go back to Afghanistan, disobeying orders because he believes his commander-in-chief is not a native-born American.
COOPER: Still ahead: An epidemic threatens Port-au-Prince, Haiti, as a young boy dies of a contagious disease, a death that did not have to happen. Sean Penn and Dr. Sanjay Gupta join me in a moment.
But, first, Tom Foreman has a "360 Bulletin."
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Anderson. Another suspicious package sparks concern in a jittery New York. Parts of Times Square were evacuated today after the package was spotted on 45th Street. The all-clear was given an hour later. And investigators determined the package, a green cooler, contained bottled water.
High drama in the U.K. tonight after yesterday's election ends in a draw. British conservative leader, David Cameron, has claimed the right to govern despite falling just shy of a majority. Meanwhile, Labour incumbent, Gordon Brown, hasn't given up, vowing to negotiate with any other party willing to form an alliance. Stay tuned.
And the phrase "busy as a beaver" gains new meaning. Look at this. A Canadian scientist says he's discovered the world's largest beaver dam, built by generation of the sharp-toothed creatures. It's in Alberta. It's 40 years in the making, and stretches more than 2,700 feet.
FOREMAN: It's apparently so huge you can see it from space.
COOPER: Are you serious, really?
FOREMAN: Yes. Isn't that something?
COOPER: That's crazy.
FOREMAN: That's either a lot of beavers in a lot of time or one really, really big beaver that worked really fast.
COOPER: All right. Tom, thanks for that.
Next on 360: After the floods, a live update from Nashville, the city is rising from the disaster. A lot of communities are still trying to cope with the catastrophe. We have a new report tonight from Nashville.
And later, Sean Penn on a tragedy in Haiti that many believed could have been prevented. A young boy's death, what some call a stupid death -- a death that didn't have to happen if only the medicine was there. An urgent plea from Sean Penn tonight --
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PENN: Now, we've got to get people out of these ad hoc camps where these kinds of diseases can spread so quickly.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: In Haiti, you'd think by now we wouldn't be seeing senseless deaths in Haiti, preventable deaths. But this is the story of just that.
This 15-year-old boy died of a highly contagious disease -- disease though that doesn't have to be deadly. On Monday morning, his parents brought him to Sean Penn's relief camp in Port-au-Prince. He was dangerously ill. He'd been sick for days with a sore throat.
What he actually had was diphtheria. It's highly contagious. He needed an antitoxin to survive.
It's stockpiled in America but as Penn's team learned searching the city, no one could locate the treatment. Penn called Dr. Sanjay Gupta. The CDC got involved and managed to turn up a few doses. The whole search had taken 11 straight hours. In the end, it wasn't enough, the boy died last night. And without vaccinations and medication, thousands more could be at risk.
We're keeping them honest tonight.
Earlier, I spoke with Sean Penn, founder of the J/P Haitian Relief Organization and CNN chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta.
COOPER: Sean, you went around for hours trying to get aid groups to help, what was the problem?
PENN: In our very few automobiles, we were taking this boy from hospital to hospital, and we had had in each hospital, he was re- diagnosed with diphtheria, which would have been the first confirmed case. We also were simultaneously searching for the immunoglobulin that would have saved his life. That took 11 hours.
And we spoke to the American Red Cross, General Trombitas, whose job is not -- the commanding general -- major general of the U.S. forces here, spent hours himself, as did the Red Cross, trying to find this immunoglobulin. We spoke with every hospital that we've been dealing with and we dealt with nearly every hospital in Port-au-Prince over these last, almost four months. This is one of the fives things were inoculated for when we come here. So, this is not -- should not be a surprise.
Now, I have been -- my last time speaking to Sanjay, I've been trying to exercise some restraint. I know this is a very complicated situation. And there are great people -- Giovanni Kissani (ph), for example, at ILM. There are people who are working very hard in all of these agencies, there's no question.
But it is dominated by an inertia that killed a 15-year-old named Oreo Lampeter (ph) today. This is a situation where nobody can say that this was any surprise. Diphtheria, we get inoculated for it. And we did not have anywhere in Port-au-Prince until we were able to find a couple of CDC people, Lauren Lambert, Ezra Barslay (ph), and then Kim Mong (ph) and Paul Hall (ph) and Michael Copenstein (ph) at Pomets (ph), and they were willing to meet us late at night in an abandoned warehouse area where they keep -- which is the only place that had it.
But none of these agencies had notified any of the major hospitals. We finally got him to General Hospital, then we went off and finally got the immunoglobulin. It got in from (INAUDIBLE) by the time and it was all sorts of questions.
General Hospital, the biggest hospital in the biggest city in the country that's got the worst natural disaster of all time, and they don't -- they didn't have enough staff or monitoring to deal with him when he coded (ph) or to incubate him at that point in time. And then his blood not being oxygenated enough, within several hours he was dead. He's 15 years old, and it's just the very beginning.
This is the beginning unless everybody realizes that the disaster is still on. This is a disaster, and a bigger one than the earthquake, waiting to happen. And so, all the inertia of all these agencies -- right now, if I were putting my money on an agency that was actually ready to act, it would be the government of Haiti because all of the bureaucracy of all of these other agencies keep wanting to point the finger at the government of Haiti.
But we know, as camp managers, that they were not prepared when we were ready to do our relocation which was the first relocation in Port-au-Prince. That a lot of these agencies had not prepared. And I don't want to get into a finger-pointing because I know how passionate so many are. But if one more person tells me that they're an expert from Africa and I'm an actor from Hollywood, I'm going to get on here and I'll tell you every name of every (INAUDIBLE) at log base that lives or dies with the same disease that's killing -- going to kill these people if people don't start doing.
And the American Red Cross, people should know, David Meltzer has been very communicative, the president of the American Red Cross. But they should know that that is -- that is not going to do it. That money, unless they push that organization and all the other organizations and our organization, to get off their butts, people are going to die en masse. That organization has basically been out of the medical field for 50 years.
And so, now -- yes, did they spend $100 million for the World Food Program's food that came? Yes, they did. But most people think the World Food Program does that and that the money is coming in for other things. Everybody is saying, we've got to wait to rebuild Haiti. There won't be a Haiti to rebuild without the people of Haiti.
So, that while I am absolutely supportive of permanent shelters, of community, of the economy built and manufacturing, for jobs, people have to realize that money has to be spent right now. And the organizations -- and I will say that J/P HRO is among them.
COOPER: Sanjay, what do you make of this? I mean, the fact that something like diphtheria which they claim they're going to start vaccinating for -- I mean, UNICEF says they have a whole program, they're going to start vaccinating on the ground, as well as for other things which they don't currently vaccinated for, I mean, UNICEF says they have a whole program. They're going to start vaccinating on the ground as well as for other things which they don't currently vaccinate for. The fact that, you know, they couldn't find the medicines to treat this little boy, what do you make of it?
GUPTA: It's a preventable, stupid death, just like you said at the beginning.
In fairness, even before the earthquake, only about half the country received vaccines. But Anderson, you know, if someone died of diphtheria the way that Sean just described in the United States, we would be reporting it, you know, because it would be such a rare thing to be happening. People receive this vaccine. It is just something we take for granted. And it prevents people dying a death like the awful one that Sean just described.
This boy went in with a scratchy throat six days ago, and now he's dead. I mean, that's -- that's exactly what can happen here. I think what's particularly shocking when Sean called me or contacted me, I was looking at my BlackBerry, just sort of horrified by the whole thing, is that even at various stages along the progression of this boy's illness, he could have been saved. He could have been saved.
Certain medications, the anti-toxin that Sean was talking about, those things can help. And they are widely available in most countries on the planet. But despite the fact that right now people are more at risk for these contagious diseases in Haiti, in Port-au- Prince in particular, they can't even prevent the disease from happening, let alone treat them after they do. So it was just absolutely shocking.
COOPER: Sean, when you see this kind of thing up close, firsthand, and -- I mean, where do you go from here? What needs to change on the ground now? What do people in America need to know? What can they do?
PENN: I was in the back of an open-door SUV with this boy, trying to get from hospital to hospital all day that day. And he was animated and alive like any 15-year-old, though he had oxygen in our truck.
This is the first confirmed case of diphtheria post-quake. It's a 15-year-old boy. He's dead. He was in school with his schoolmates before he was reported sick. There's an investigation going on. This is exactly the kind of thing that can kill masses of people.
So this cold chain has to be established. We've got to have the power for our refrigeration. It's got to be refrigerators that comes from all the other countries. And all these other countries and all these donors that are rebuilding Haiti, they've got to immediately make that designated disaster fund available and make it work now.
And then when it comes to rebuilding, countries have to say, "I'll do the rebuilding of houses. I'll do the -- I'll build the agriculture up." It can't -- it's got -- it can't be pledges that don't happen or we're going to create a devastation that will be brought on America's hands that we don't have to do.
And you all know, when the United States military came here, this was one of the proudest moments that any American could ever have. They -- they were the primary force behind the life saving that happened, helping the government of Haiti that was so fractured and the people of Haiti.
But now we've got to get people out of these ad hoc camps where these kind of diseases can spread so quickly.
So again, this disaster has to stay on people's mind as waiting to happen. And there will be no excuse, and there's no excuse for the loss of this boy. No excuse.
COOPER: Sean Penn, Sanjay Gupta, thank you.
(END VIDEOTAPE) COOPER: But for all the tragedy in Haiti, there are some stories of hope and of kids saved from unthinkable circumstances. Just days after the earthquake, CNN anchor and correspondent Soledad O'Brien arrived in Port-au-Prince to look at the country's most vulnerable victims, the estimated 380,000 orphans before the quake.
Now in a new documentary airing this weekend, she goes back to Haiti for a better look at the challenge they are still facing every day. Here's a look at part of "Rescued."
SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Marc Kenson Olibris works in the guest house here in the Maison du Lumiere orphanage in Haiti. He is helping raise abandoned children just like himself.
Marc Kenson (ph) was born in a rural Haitian village called Capatien (ph), a place with wrenching poverty. Life was so desperate that his father sold him and his sister to a stranger. They became child slaves, restavecs. Literally, the Creole words for "stay with."
(on camera) Were you a restavec?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (SPEAKING FRENCH)
O'BRIEN: A restavec.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (SPEAKING FRENCH)
MARC KENSON OLIBRIS, HAITIAN BOY: Oui.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
O'BRIEN: And your sister?
OLIBRIS: (SPEAKING FRENCH)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The same.
O'BRIEN (voice-over): Marc Kenson was 9, and his sister was 6.
COOPER: Well, this Saturday Soledad will show you the town where Marc Kenson and his sister the were slaves and the orphanage where he found food, an education, and the will to rebuild his life. It's all part of the new documentary, "Rescued," airing Saturday, 8 Eastern here on CNN.
Ahead, the birther movement is back. Tonight, we're going to meet an Army doctor disobeying orders, because he wants proof President Obama, the commander in chief, was born in America. A live interview with the doctor ahead.
And Nashville after the floods. Losing everything but coming together as a community. We saw it last night. You will see it tonight. A live report from one neighborhood that's battered but in no way broken.
COOPER: He's a decorated Army doctor, and tonight Lieutenant colonel Terrence Lakin has become the face of the so-called birthers movement, whose followers believe President Obama may not have been born in the U.S. and may not be eligible to be president of the United States.
Lieutenant Colonel Lakin, who's been an active-duty physician for the military for 18 years, has been ordered to deploy to Afghanistan for a second tour of duty. But Lakin is refusing that command, saying the order is coming from a commander in chief who he believes may not, in fact, be a natural-born citizen.
Lakin has also invited his own court-martial and says he wants proof the president was born in the U.S.
Lieutenant Colonel Terrence Lakin joins me now, along with his attorney, Paul Jensen. I appreciate both of you being with us.
Colonel, you say you're refusing your orders because, quote, "There is significant evidence or unanswered speculation that Mr. Obama is not eligible to be president." You said that in a note to General Casey.
Now, ignoring the idea that you actually cited speculation as a justification for your decision, but to say there's significant evidence that the president was not born in America is just false. I mean, you're an honorable guy. You've served your country incredibly well. You're a doctor. Do you honestly believe President Obama was not born in Hawaii?
PAUL JENSEN, LT. LAKIN'S LAWYER: Well, Anderson, let me answer as his lawyer...
COOPER: No, no, no. Excuse me. Wait, this is a doctor -- excuse me. This is a doctor. This is a man who served his country for 18 years. I think he can answer a question by himself.
JENSEN: I think that the lawyer should protect the client from incriminating himself. You say it's false. You're not prosecuting this case.
COOPER: OK, lieutenants Colonel, if you call up the state of Hawaii and you ask for a birth certificate, you're sent a certificate of live birth. That is the official document. And the president has...
JENSEN: That is not correct.
COOPER: And the president ...
JENSEN: That is absolutely not correct. COOPER: And the president has released -- and the president has released that certificate of live birth -- there it is -- to newspapers. In 1961, had birth announcements provided by the state of Hawaii Health Department. Certificates. The Republican governor of Hawaii sent someone to personally view the birth certificate at the Department of health and says it's there.
JENSEN: That's not...
COOPER: Again, can the colonel not talk for himself? The guy's an adult.
JENSEN: You said that that's a birth certificate, Mr. Cooper. Now you want to tell the truth to your viewers.
COOPER: According to the state of Hawaii...
JENSEN: That's an abstract, a computer-generated abstract...
COOPER: According to the state of Hawaii, the certificate of live birth, and I'm quoting from the state of Hawaii Health Department. The certificate of live birth is the standard form acceptable by federal agencies.
So are you saying, Colonel, but you're not actually saying anything. But I would appreciate it if you actually would, and not hide behind your attorney. Are you actually saying that all soldiers who currently serve who are from Hawaii should be suspect because that's what they provide?
LT. COL. TERRENCE LAKIN, CHALLENGES OBAMA'S BIRTH CERTIFICATE: This is a constitutional matter. And the truth matters, and...
COOPER: Well, and answers matter. Can you answer my question? Should all soldiers who are from Hawaii and who have given certificate of live births as their proof of citizenship, should they all be suspect now?
LAKIN: This isn't a matter about all soldiers. This is a matter about...
COOPER: Well, you're saying the president...
LAKIN: ... the two positions that are -- require -- that require a natural-born citizen.
COOPER: You've take countless orders in your -- in your laudable service over the years. Have you ever asked for any superior's birth certificate?
JENSEN: You know, that really is -- begs the question...
COOPER: No, no, no, sir, please let your client answer. You served under General Casey. Where was he born?
JENSEN: I'm the lawyer, and I'm going to tell you, Mr. Cooper, the issue isn't about where General Casey was born, where Mr. ...
COOPER: He doesn't know. Because you've never asked the question, because you just assume that they're Americans.
JENSEN: He doesn't have to be a natural-born citizen to be the chief of staff of the Army.
COOPER: Actually, to serve in the United States Army, according to your own documents, citizenship papers have to be brought to bear. In fact...
JENSEN: That's not the issue. To serve as president of the United State...
COOPER: In your own letter...
JENSEN: Mister -- Mr. Cooper, please.
COOPER: In your own letter....
JENSEN: ... to be president of the United States...
COOPER: ... to General Casey you have said that you had to provide your birth certificate.
JENSEN: You're afraid of letting me answer. Are you afraid of letting me answer?
COOPER: No, I'd like your client to answer.
JENSEN: The issue under the United States Constitution is whether the president is eligible to hold the office. That determine -- is determined by whether he's 35 years old and a natural-born citizen. Those are not requirements for the chief of staff of the Army, sir.
And what Colonel Lakin has said is that there's mounting evidence that he is not. And the original birth certificate has not been released.
COOPER: Right, OK. There's not mounting evidence. And he has...
JENSEN: That's what you said.
COOPER: Excuse me. Let me respond. He has taken orders for years from people, probably thousands of orders. Countless orders. He has never questioned the legitimacy of the people he is taking orders from. General Casey. But he doesn't know where General Casey is born. For all he knows, General Casey could be a foreign-born, not an American citizen.
JENSEN: Mr. Cooper, if you've done your research, you know that, in the state of Hawaii, there's a statute that allows anyone born outside the state of Hawaii, including in a foreign country, to obtain a Hawaiian birth certificate at any age by going back and filling out a form...
COOPER: Right. And if you'd done your research, you'd know that, on the certificate of live birth, it would indicate if the person was born in another country. It would say they were born in another country...
JENSEN: That's not correct.
COOPER: That is correct. That is the fact.
JENSEN: I beg your pardon. Under Hawaiian statute 338-17.8, there's nothing that says that in the statute.
JENSEN: You point it out to me if I'm wrong.
COOPER: In your complaint to General Casey, Colonel, you say, quote, that you're not seeking any grandstanding or publicity for this action. How can you seriously say that? I mean, you put out a YouTube video with your -- talking, frankly, more than you've talked here tonight.
You have this group paying all your legal fees, The American Patriot Foundation Legal Defense Fund. They've provided the attorney who's sitting next to you. And they're fundraising based on you. They're raising money using you.
LAKIN: I attempted all avenues I could over a year ago. I submitted an Article 138, which is the only way that I could research how to -- how to address this issue, asking and begging my leadership for guidance in how to -- how to address this issue. And the answers that I got were not...
JENSEN: Mr. Cooper, you -- the standard is not satisfying you -- the standard is to satisfy...
COOPER: Lieutenant Colonel, you sound like an honorable man -- excuse me. I'm addressing your client. Lieutenant Colonel, you seem like an incredibly honorable man who's obviously served his country. You're a doctor; you're an educated man. Why is it this issue? I mean, of all the orders you've taken, of all the people you've served under, why this, why now? What is it that has got you so, you know, sticking on this issue?
LAKIN: It's a fundamental of the Constitution, and my oath of office is to the Constitution. And I believe we need truth on this matter.
COOPER: But I mean, what's wrong with the certificate of live birth, in your opinion? What's wrong -- I mean, how do you explain a newspaper -- two newspapers in 1961 announcing the birth of Barack Obama in Hawaii? Which is not something his parents did or his grandparents did. Those are based on health records sent by the health department, as it does for every person born in Hawaii. And everyone gets a newspaper now.
JENSEN: Mr. Cooper, that's simply not correct. And the issue is instead why hasn't the president released the original birth certificate, if one exists? This could be over tonight. Tonight. Release the birth certificate, if it exists, signed by the doctor in 1961. It's in the state of Hawaii's records. If...
COOPER: I'm just going to read you a quote from Janice Okubu from the department of health: "Our certificate of live birth is the standard form which was modeled after national standards that are acceptable by federal agencies and organizations."
JENSEN: But it is not the only form...
COOPER: The governor of Hawaii, a Republican, has said, and I quote, "I had my health doctor, who is a physician by background, go personally view the birth certificate in the birth records of the department of health, and we issued a news release."
JENSEN: And she is not going to be testifying at the court- martial. This is a criminal case. The president should release the original birth certificate, and this would be over tonight. These other documents and testimony are not admissible and will not be admitted in court.
COOPER: Well, I appreciate you being on the program tonight. Lieutenant Colonel Terrence Lakin, I appreciate it, as well. Thank you, sir.
JENSEN: Thank you.
COOPER: You can join the live chat. Let us know what you think about this issue at AC360.com.
Ahead, more fallout from the Times Square bombing attempt. Some lawmakers want to get tougher on accused terrorists.
Plus, a national neighborhood relives those first terrifying moments of the floods. See how the city is rising and rebuilding, next.
COOPER: This time last night we were live in Nashville reporting on the flood devastation, showing you how the city is raising, coming back from the disaster, the people standing and working together. I know it sounds like a cliche, and I said it last night. I've never seen a group -- a city pull together so quickly: so many volunteers, church groups, individuals just coming out, lending a hand to complete strangers. It felt like a real neighborhood.
A lot of wonderful people we met. Among them Brenda Griffith, who was helping friends pack up belongings after their homes were destroyed. Here's what she told me.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) COOPER: Even as bad as things have been, this city is coming back?
BRENDA GRIFFITH, NASHVILLE RESIDENT: I think so. Nashville has a spirit that won't be put down. So yes, I have no doubt that Nashville will come back.
COOPER: And you're still smiling.
GRIFFITH: I'm still smiling. I am. Well, the sun's shining.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, moving ahead but at the same time mourning the lives taken. At least 31 people killed across the south. Most of the victims were in Nashville, where the cost from the disaster is now at $1.5 billion.
Also today we learned the Cumberland River crested this week at its highest level in more than 70 years. And a lot of communities have been hard hit. Martin Savidge takes us to one of them.
MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): On West Hamilton Street, everything everyone ever had is now on the sidewalk for everyone else to see. Walk down the street, and the flood stories still pour out.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The water just gushed in. And it had a force to it.
EVELYN PEARLBELL, FLOODING VICTIM: They put a rope around me and pulled me through this water. Scary. I was so scared.
RONNIE COLEMAN, FLOODING VICTIM: The water line was there, and here in the living room. You can see on my doors.
SAVIDGE (on camera): On you, that's chest high.
COLEMAN: Yes. And I can't swim.
SAVIDGE (voice-over): Two days of rain and water from White's Creek did this to a working-class neighborhood where most have lived for decades. And few have flood insurance. Everyone dreaded coming back.
REBA PERKINS, FLOODING VICTIM: We prayed that we would not -- whatever we found, it would be something that we could learn from.
SAVIDGE: soon the first trips to the curb began.
(on camera) What have you lost?
WILLIE MAE STRICKLAND JORDAN, FLOODING VICTIM: I lost everything. Everything is ruined. SAVIDGE: You worried?
CAROLYN PHILLIPS, FLOODING VICTIM: Yes. But I'm going to be OK. We're going to be OK.
SAVIDGE (voice-over): Like they say, one man's trash is another's treasure. Kelando Hambric gets $135 a ton for from a scrap dealer.
(on camera) And what are the things you carry away most?
KELANDRO HAMBRIC, SCRAP DEALER: Refrigerators, washing machines, dryers, water heaters. The heavy stuff.
COLEMAN: Here in the living room...
SAVIDGE (voice-over): Ronnie Coleman lost everything and gained something.
COLEMAN: I keep stopping and thinking, "I'm alive." You know, everything else, the rest of my life, if I have to fight cancer or whatever, I mean, it's going to be a piece of cake to what I went through.
SAVIDGE: I watched with Sherry Hathaway as the city truck loaded her stuff for the dump.
(on camera) Is that your life going away?
SHERRY HATHAWAY, FLOODING VICTIM: Yes. Sure is. Children's lives. Our lives.
SAVIDGE (voice-over): For her 24-year-old daughter Janey (ph), it was too much.
HATHAWAY: It's hard to watch it. I mean, this is everything we own. Everything.
COOPER: Everything they own. A lot of folks, as you know, we've been talking about last night, do not have insurance.
There's a house behind you, appears to be sitting on the road. What's the story there?
SAVIDGE: It's the house on Hummingbird Drive. And I don't mean that as a joke. It's literally sitting on Hummingbird Drive. And this, Anderson, is a testament to the force of the water here, the flash flood that swept through this neighborhood.
Take a look over here. These are the foundations of this particular home. What happened was the water came in. It was lifted off its foundations, rose above the ride -- rise, that is, in the road, and then it probably would have continued floating off into the neighborhood there, had it not bumped up again a couple of telephone poles.
And oh -- this wasn't the Cumberland River. This was a local creek that did this. And by the way, there was somebody in the house at the time when it was floating.
COOPER: My goodness.
SAVIDGE: They got out, on the roof of another house, and was rescued a short time later. Amazing stories all over.
COOPER: Incredible. People so strong.
Marty, appreciate it. Thank you very much.
Martin Savidge, been there all week, since Monday.
Next on 360, new numbers out today that shows companies are hiring, but there's a big catch.
And the new list of the most popular baby names is out. See which White House resident made the grade.
COOPER: A lot more going on tonight. Tom Foreman joins us again with a "360 Bulletin" -- Tom.
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Anderson.
Senator Joe Lieberman today introducing legislation to strip Americans of their citizenship if they're found to be involved in terrorism. Critics say the Terrorism Expatriation Act, or the T-Act is unconstitutional.
Welcome news on the economy, sort of. Employers adding 290,000 jobs in April, 230,000 in the private sector. That's much better than forecast. However, the unemployment rate inched up 0.2 point because more people have started looking for work again.
And the Social Security Administration is out with its list of the top 1,000 baby names last year. The top three -- look at them -- Jacob, Ethan, and Michael. And for girls, Isabella, Emma, and Olivia.
Barack is not in the top 1,000, but Malia, the name of one of the president's daughters, came in at number 192, rising 153 spots.
COOPER: I heard there's a Web site where you can actually track your name and see, like, how over the years, whether it's risen or fallen in terms of popularity.
FOREMAN: Mine is always very close to the top.
COOPER: I'm sure.
Well, for tonight's "Shot," happy anniversary to Wolf Blitzer. This is unbelievable. Tomorrow marks 20 years that Wolf has been with CNN. He's obviously a great guy, an outstanding journalist. He also has a wonderful sense of humor. He loves the music, too.
Here's a look at some funny and memorable moments with Wolf over the years. Take a look.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Senator Deacon has said he will support the plan.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you very much.
BLITZER: Wait. We've done something, a hologram. We beamed you in. We beamed you in here, into the CNN Election Center.
ALEX TREBEK, HOST, "JEOPARDY": Wolf.
BLITZER: What is Jerusalem?
An accused person in court, along with his counsel -- Wolf.
BLITZER: What is a defendant?
TREBEK: No -- Wolf.
TREBEK: No -- Wolf.
BLITZER: What is a crash?
BLITZER: On a camel. On a camel. Oh, my gosh. Hold on. Hold on. Hold on. Hold on.
RICHARD HEENE, FATHER OF BALLOON BOY: Say hi to Wolf. It's Wolf.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hi.
BLITZER: Hi, guys.
FALCON HEENE, BALLOON BOY: Who the hell is Wolf?
COOPER: I want to put that on a T-shirt. Who is Wolf?
FOREMAN: What is a bad decision? To go on "Celebrity Jeopardy"?
COOPER: Hey, I can't -- you know what? I failed on "Celebrity Jeopardy." I won the first time. I failed badly this time to Cheech Marin.
FOREMAN: Congratulations to Wolf.
COOPER: Yes. Exactly.
Serious stuff at the top of the hour. Breaking news from the leaking oil well out in the Gulf of Mexico. Be right back.