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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES

Former IMF Chief Out on Bail; Violence in Syria

Aired May 20, 2011 - 22:00   ET

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


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, everyone.

Tonight, breaking news, late new details in the Dominique Strauss-Kahn sex case. The former IMF director and possible candidate for president of France out of jail tonight -- we have just out he's at his new home -- at his new home until trial, that is, this high- rise building here, out on bail, a million dollars cash and on $5 million bond. That's the building.

Looking at live pictures of the location in Lower Manhattan, DSK, as he's often called, inside under house arrest, under armed guard that he's paying for. We did not see him enter the building, the security company responsible for watching him spiriting him inside.

The media, in large part, were camped out at another location nearby, believing that was going to be the place that he would be staying. They camped out into the evening. But it later turned out that DSK was elsewhere.

He had wanted to stay here, uptown, at his wife's apartment on the Upper East Side, but the apartment said no -- the apartment building said no, not wanting a 24/7 media circus, as you can imagine.

DSK, you will recall, is facing sex crime charges, seven counts in connection with the alleged attempted rape of a hotel maid. Tonight, a law enforcement source close to the case tells us that DSK allegedly phoned the front desk and invited the receptionist up for a drink shortly after he checked into the hotel. She declined.

In a moment, we will talk with defense attorney Mark Geragos and New York's former top law enforcement officer Eliot Spitzer.

But first, all we know so far from the beginning.

Here's Susan Candiotti.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It was just last Friday, the day before the alleged assault, when Dominique Strauss-Kahn checked into the Sofitel, a luxury hotel in Midtown Manhattan.

According to a law enforcement source, the head of the International Monetary Fund was looking for company. Within minutes of checking into suite 2806, he called the front desk and invited the female receptionist to join him for a drink. She declined.

Fast-forward to the next day, at around noon. A source tells CNN a mail service attendant thought Strauss-Kahn's suite was vacant and entered the room to retrieve service items. Just minutes later, a 32- year-old African maid noticed the door was ajar and entered the room to clean.

The attendant then left. Following hotel policy, the maid left the door open. Inside, 62-year-old Strauss-Kahn allegedly was naked in the bedroom and grabbed at the maid, chasing her throughout the suite. As she tried to escape, he shut the door and forced himself on her, sexually assaulting her.

JOHN MCCONNELL, ASSISTANT DISTRICT ATTORNEY, NEW YORK COUNTY: ... attempted to forcibly rape her. When he was unsuccessful, he forced her to perform oral sex on him.

CANDIOTTI: Just 25 minutes later, at 12:28 p.m., police Strauss- Kahn checked out of the Sofitel. Prosecutors contend he was rushing to get to the airport. The defense claims Strauss-Kahn was rushing to have lunch with his daughter before heading to the JFK Airport for a previously booked flight.

They presented the flight booking records as evidence in court.

WILLIAM TAYLOR, ATTORNEY FOR DOMINIQUE STRAUSS-KAHN: He was scheduled to leave JFK at a flight for Paris on that day. And I also have the documentation from Air France which shows that the ticket was bought on May the 11th.

CANDIOTTI: Soon after the alleged attack, the maid was reporting the incident to hotel staff. At around 1:30 p.m., the police were called. No one knew of Strauss-Kahn's whereabouts until he called the hotel from the airport, inquiring about his lost cell phone, a move the defense says proves he's innocent and was not fleeing the country.

But according to a law enforcement source, when police boarded the Air France flight to take Strauss-Kahn into custody, something stood out. The suspect never asked why he was being arrested.

On Monday morning, a disheveled Strauss-Kahn appeared in court, where he was charged with an array of offenses that could put him behind bars up to 25 years. Denied bail, Strauss-Kahn was sent to Rikers. Meantime, investigators were interviewing witnesses and combing through the crime scene looking for evidence.

According to ABC News, they cut up a small piece of the room's floor where the alleged victim is said to have spat after being forced to perform oral sex on Strauss-Kahn. Wednesday, under intense pressure, Strauss-Kahn resigned as chief of the IMF.

In a brief letter to the board, he proclaimed his innocence, saying -- quote -- "To all, I want to say that I deny with the greatest possible firmness all of the allegations that have been made against me."

In court on Thursday, supported by his wife and daughter, a clean-cut Strauss-Kahn was granted some freedom.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have decided that I will grant a bail under the following conditions.

CANDIOTTI: In addition to posting $1 million in cash, and a $5 million bond, Strauss-Kahn was ordered to surrender all travel documents, submit to home detention with an ankle bracelet and 24-hour armed security, while staying at this upscale apartment building on Manhattan's Upper East Side.

Today, just hours before Strauss-Kahn's release from Rikers, the apartment building revoked on the deal, causing the defense to scramble. But late this afternoon, Strauss-Kahn left Rikers to somewhere that will likely be his home until his next court appearance on June 6.

Susan Candiotti, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Well, Eliot Spitzer is New York's former governor, attorney general, and currently host of "IN THE ARENA" at 8:00 Eastern here on CNN. Mark Geragos is a noted defense attorney. I spoke to both men earlier.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: So, Mark, we have learned new details now, that the maid followed protocol. When she went into the room, she left the door open, her cart in the door. There had been a room service attendant in the door when she got in who witnessed her coming in, that apparently Strauss-Kahn made some sort of pass at the receptionist when he checked in, invited her up to the room.

Do any of these developments -- certainly, they don't speak well for Strauss-Kahn or they're not in his favor.

MARK GERAGOS, ATTORNEY: Well, first of all, whenever these things come dripping out, you have to take them with a grain of salt, because usually it's the prosecution team, and by that not necessarily the prosecutors, but the police, who are doing the leaking. And a lot of times, that's done specifically to create bad facts that may not in fact be as bad as they sound.

Start to dissect or parse that a little bit. If there was a room attendant there, if the thing or the cart was blocking the door, then you have to say to yourself, well, then, how in the heck -- what did this guy to. He went, he threw the cart into the hallway, he shut the door, tackled her, and then -- and I don't -- I know this is a family show and a family hour -- but he forced her to have oral sex and she wasn't able to stop herself from doing that?

A lot of these things just don't make a whole lot of sense to me.

COOPER: Do these make sense to you? ELIOT SPITZER, HOST, "IN THE ARENA": Well, look, I'm with Mark only to only one extent. It's hard to understand the fact pattern until you get the entirety of the picture.

The one thing we do know is that 23 members of a grand jury heard her testimony, heard whatever other evidence the prosecution set before it, before -- presumably forensic evidence of sort of, presumably videos, if there are videos, of the now defendant entering the hotel, in the hallway, and that grand jury said, we indict him.

So, clearly, whatever inconsistencies one might see were not sufficient for them to worry about the credibility of the witness. And so I think this is a very powerful indictment. And we have to wait to see what the forensic evidence is. Presumably, now the defense is going to be one of consent, not an alibi defense, and that's going to be hard-fought-over.

COOPER: And, Mark, the prosecution is saying hardened detectives who have been on the force a long time questioned this woman, sometimes under tough questioning, and they believe her story is consistent. And they point to the fact that she immediately went to her supervisor at the hotel and reported this.

GERAGOS: Well, look, hardened detectives -- I have yet to meet a detective who, once he was invested in the case didn't think it was the greatest case in the world.

They don't just stand up and say, aha, I'm going to dismiss it. And in terms of the grand jury, you can count on one hand, Anderson, the number of grand juries that have been rejected indictments on a regular basis. It just doesn't happen. Anything the prosecution puts up there, the grand jury is nothing more than a rubber stamp.

This is not -- and I tend to agree with Mr. Brafman, who is the lawyer. When Ben said this is a defensible case, on the face of it, it looks defensible to me. And I would not be so sure -- and I agree with Eliot -- until you see all of the facts -- and what we're getting, I don't for a second, believe are all the facts -- until we see that, we just don't know. We're speculating. It could be urban legend. A lot of this stuff is released by people who have got an agenda. And you just cannot put a whole lot of stock in it.

SPITZER: Well, let me disagree with a couple little things Mark said.

First, I think the detectives, Mark -- and you will acknowledge this -- detectives in this unit in particular are very hesitant to proceed with a case that they do not believe they can really prove, especially a high-profile defendant, especially one where they know that the credibility of the victim, the complainant, as they call her, is going to be outcome-determinative. They are going to grill her. They are going to see, is this somebody who has brought 20 allegations like this in the past?

GERAGOS: I would agree, but, Eliot, Eliot, don't you think that there may have been just a little bit of let's "we got to hurry up and do this" because they thought he was leaving the country?

And, as I have said before, two words, Roman Polanski, comes to everybody's mind, so they figure, OK, we have got to go. We have got to do something here. Otherwise, if we lose him, we're never going to be able to get him back.

SPITZER: I think that is a fair presumption.

On the other hand, I think they also waited to indict this case almost of necessity until they had some forensic evidence. That forensic evidence -- and you can interpret it many different ways, no doubt -- will either be consistent with consent or not. And I think that's going to be the -- scientific evidence will be dispositive here, because, otherwise, you will have a he said/she said.

But forensic evidence -- and we won't get too graphic now -- but let's say just -- one example, let's say there's his skin under her fingernails, which would suggest a fight.

COOPER: But, Mark, if the defense is going to argue consensual defense, then forensic evidence doesn't necessarily really seem to matter much, does it?

GERAGOS: Anderson, you took the next comment right out of my head there.

The -- if the forensic evidence is going to show that they had sex, then it's going to be, is it consensual or not? That also is not necessarily determinative, because these other kinds of surrounding facts, in terms of, OK, she says she put a cart in the door. She says there was another attendant there.

How much time elapsed between the time that the other attendant was there and when she made the call? How much time elapsed between the time she made the call or somebody else at the hotel made the call? There's going to be quite a few questions here. And I don't think that forensic evidence becomes so key, if it determines or the defense determines they're going to admit there was sex.

SPITZER: Well, much of what you're saying is correct in a theoretical way, but here is the alternative argument.

If you have evidence of bruising, if you have his blood samples under her fingernails, suggesting she was scraping at him, pushing him back, if you have body fluids in places which would not -- where they would not be if it was consensual, all sorts of things could be there. And we are speculating now, but that's why we need to wait and see what happens, but all sorts of forensic evidence could be highly suggestive and therefore corroborate the story of a victim who is otherwise very credible.

COOPER: Mark, I have heard you say, though that you could even raise doubts about the fact that she did talk to supervisors so quickly.

GERAGOS: Sure. If you have got a situation where, if this was consensual and then she decides it's going to be some kind of a shakedown or a setup, if there was a situation where she went in and said, OK, I'm going to target this guy -- and, believe it or not, that happens -- then the quick response and a story that hews to a script, that becomes problematic for the prosecution, in my mind.

If she comes out there and tells this story, and it's almost script-ready, three or four times, that generally is not consistent with somebody who is in shock, who has just had this traumatic experience happen to them.

COOPER: Were your surprised by the bail?

SPITZER: No, I was not, because bail does not reflect -- is not supposed to really be correlated to the severity of the crime. It's supposed to answer one question: Will this defendant come back?

And the conditions of bail were not only the money and the bond, but also the 24-hour security and the fact that he's wearing an ankle bracelet. And let's face it. This is a guy who cannot go anywhere right now without being seen and recognized. And his passport has been surrendered. He will be there at trial. So, I think bail was almost inevitable.

The only time you have remand until trial, just about, is in a heinous murder case with somebody who has absolutely no connection to the community.

COOPER: We're going to leave it there.

Mark Geragos, thank you so much.

Eliot Spitzer, thanks.

SPITZER: Thank you.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Well, let us know what you think. We're on Facebook, of course, or follow me on Twitter right now @AndersonCooper. I will try to be tweeting some tonight.

Up next: The murders in Syria continue, dozens dead today. We have just gotten in new video that's shocking, even by the sickening standards of the Syrian regime. We are going to show you more of that video. It's people risking their own lives to try to save the life of somebody else who has been wounded. We will talk to the brave woman who is bearing witness tot slaughter. She is on the run tonight, her life in danger, but still brave enough to speak out.

And, later, a report that has really completely changed the way I use my cell phone. Like most people, I have used it's for years literally pressing it up against my ear when I talk. If you do that, you need to hear what Dr. Sanjay Gupta is reporting tonight. He's been working on this report for about a year, raises serious questions about existing research. And you are going to hear from other doctors with major concerns about cell phone radiation.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think that we have an obligation to inform the public that we cannot say with any degree of certainty that cell phone use is safe.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Well, despite the most blatant acts of murder by the regime in Syria, the protests there continued today. Human rights activists report that at least 34 people were killed in Syria today. Protesters took to the streets across the country after weekly Friday prayers, and Syrian security forces opened fire on them.

Night after night on this program, we have witnessed the bravery of Syrians, who have given their lives calling for change. It's easy to think all the pictures look the same. It's easy to turn away and grow frustrated that nothing has changed.

But we think we owe it to those dying in the streets to bear witness to their struggle and even to their deaths. We want to show you video of what happened to one man today. And we want you to see the efforts of others brave enough to rescue him with gunshots whizzing around him.

I want to warn you the video is extremely graphic, but we're showing it to you because we think it's important for the world to witness the violence inflicted on innocent people and to witness the heroism in the face of repression. CNN can't independently verify the specifics of the video and we don't know if the man has died or not.

Despite the harsh crackdown by President Bashar al-Assad's forces, protesters refuse to back down.

Yesterday, President Obama praised the Syrian people for demanding a transition to democracy and issued a message to the Syrian leader.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: President Assad now has a choice. He can lead that transition, or get out of the way. The Syrian government must stop shooting demonstrators and allow peaceful protests. They must release political prisoners and stop unjust arrests.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Earlier today, I spoke by phone to Razan Zaytouni, a Syrian human rights activist and lawyer whose husband has been arrested by Syrian security forces. She's on the run tonight, hiding in an undisclosed location.

And, remember, as you listen to her, she's risking her life just by talking to us.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Razan, more violence across Syria today. Do you know how many people have been killed?

RAZAN ZAYTOUNI, HUMAN RIGHTS ACTIVIST: Today, we have confirmed 34 names, more people who got killed, across the country. But about what happened in Idlib last few hours, it's -- eyewitnesses say it's about 50 people got killed, but we haven't get any confirmation yet.

COOPER: And is this because it's Friday and after prayers? People are gathered and they start protesting and then the security forces crack down? Why -- why so many deaths today?

ZAYTOUNI: Today, the security used gunfire in all areas which witnessed protests. Usually, they use -- in some areas, they use shooting; in other areas, they use beatings and arresting. Today, they used gunfire everywhere witness to protests.

That's why the people who got killed, they are from different cities. They're from Homs. They're from Idlib, from (INAUDIBLE) Latakia, Daraya, in the suburbs of Damascus, in the whole country.

COOPER: And we're seeing video where what looks like uniformed either military personnel or police are just firing, at one point even fires right at the person who is taking some of this video.

Is there any order to it? Is there any rationale for who they're shooting or are they just trying to shoot anyone they can get?

ZAYTOUNI: I think it's just an order to end the protest in any way. And it's according to how big the protest is.

COOPER: Yesterday, President Obama called on Assad's regime to stop shooting demonstrators, to stop unjust arrests and to allow peaceful protests, but he stopped short of saying that Assad had lost all legitimacy and should step down.

Were you disappointed in what he said?

ZAYTOUNI: Actually, from one side, it has good impact on the people. People felt that the world and the great country of the United States felt about them and continue what is going on, on the ground in Syria, and believe that these demonstrators is peaceful, and it called for freedom, and doesn't believe any of the lies or claims of the regime.

COOPER: I'm watching video of a protester who has been shot, who is on the back of a motorcycle, and looks in very bad shape and is being driven away.

What happens to someone when they have been shot because is there -- there's -- is there still fear about going to the hospitals?

ZAYTOUNI: It's a problem all the time, because every time they take people who got shot or injured to the hospital, they got kidnapped by the security.

Today, the person got killed in Daraya, in the suburb of Damascus, the air force security tried to kidnap him from the hospital. But the people of Daraya surrounded the hospital and prevented the security to take him. So it happens all the time.

COOPER: Razan Zaytouni, you're in hiding. Stay safe, please. Thank you.

ZAYTOUNI: Thank you.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Remarkable woman.

Now to Libya and the "Raw Politics" of the U.S. military involvement and protecting Libyan civilians. Under the War Powers Act of 1973, the president has to get congressional authorization for military action within 60 days after it begins, or the mission has to stop within the next 30 days. That's the law. Whether you agree with it or not, that's the law.

It was a law passed under Richard Nixon to be a hedge on executive power. President Obama formally notified Congress about the action in Libya on March 21, but did not seek prior approval.

Well, today is the 60-day deadline.

Republican Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky is one of the few on Capitol Hill who has been insisting the Obama administration follow the law.

Well, late today, we learned that President Obama sent a letter to congressional leaders expressing his support for a Senate resolution that would approve the mission in Libya, but, nevertheless, the 60-day deadline has passed.

I spoke with Senator Paul a few hours ago, right before we learned about the president's letter.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: So, Senator Paul, is the president of the United States about to start breaking the law here?

SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: Well, actually, I think he's been in violation of the War Powers Act for some time now. But now he's getting ready to be also in violation of the 60-day requirement that he report to Congress and get authorization within 60 days.

COOPER: Are you talking about this because in part you're opposed to the U.S. involvement in Libya or would you be talking about this if it was any military action that had gone 60 days without congressional authorization?

PAUL: I do have questions about whether Libya has anything to do with our national security. But the thing is, what's really most important is not the specifics of the war, but the specifics of the Constitution, because what I fear is an unlimited presidency and some day we have a president who starts World War III without permission of Congress.

That's a very, very dangerous precedent. And I guess what really upsets me is, he had time to go to the U.N., he had time to go to the Arab League. And so some say, oh, he has permission from the U.N., so it's OK.

Well, boy, if that's what we're living under, we really are completely ignoring our own Constitution. We never wanted one person, one person, the president, to be able to decide to take us to war. We always wanted the debate between a president and a Congress, so we didn't go to war willy-nilly, or we didn't go to war without careful consideration.

COOPER: There are some who argue, well, maybe the War Powers Act itself is unconstitutional. It's never really been tested at the Supreme Court level.

PAUL: Right.

Well, the thing is, is that we rule on the Constitution all the time. And once a law is passed by Congress and signed by a president, it is the law, until the Supreme Court overturns it. And I believe in the rule of law and that we restrain and control the powers and we don't give unlimited power.

I think it's a very dangerous precedent if we let this go forward.

COOPER: There's a quote here from the deputy secretary of state, James Steinberg, who said: "We are actively reviewing our role going forward. Throughout, the president has been mindful of the provisions of the War Powers Resolution. He has acted in a manner consistent with it. He will continue to do so."

That doesn't really mean anything.

PAUL: Yes.

COOPER: I mean, saying he's acting consistent with it and yet not actually following it, I don't quite understand what that means.

(LAUGHTER)

PAUL: That's kind of government gobbledygook, as far as I can tell.

But I would say is, he's already in violation. The War Powers Act says there's only three reasons a president can go to war, declaration of war by Congress, authorization or force by Congress, or imminent danger.

I think even myself agrees that the president, under extraordinary times, if we're attacked or there's a terrorist attack or a nuclear attack, the president can take action.

But just think, if the president were a real leader, here's what would have happened. When Libya escalated and we were out of session, and he declared war while we were out of session, which is a little bit suspicious to begin in, if he were a true leader, he would have called us back, every one of us. Within 24 hours, we would have been back.

He should have come to Congress, spoken to a joint session of Congress and said, I need the power to go to war, this is why, and explain to the people.

COOPER: Didn't Ronald Reagan, though, send Marines into Lebanon back in 1982, and it took a year before Congress acted?

PAUL: Yes.

We haven't always followed the law. I'm not saying that we haven't always obeyed the law correctly. But I can tell you, had I been there then, I would have insisted on voting also.

But there is no reason in the world why this shouldn't be openly publicly debated. We go week after week in the Senate and do nothing. I feel like sometimes I should return my check because I go up, they do no votes and no debate. Look at this horrendous debt process. We don't debate that either.

COOPER: Really, do you feel like that? You feel like you're not doing anything?

PAUL: Yes, I feel -- absolutely. We go up week to week, and there's no debate in Congress, no debate in the Senate. We sit idly by.

Some weeks, we vote on two or three noncontroversial judges and we go back home.

COOPER: Why is that?

PAUL: It really -- it's -- I'm trying to get a vote on Libya. They say they don't have time. I was told that when I wanted to bring up my resolution on Libya, which I did force them to, but I had to kind of...

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: It got tabled like 90-10.

(LAUGHTER)

PAUL: Yes, and they weren't too happy with me because I used some parliamentary procedures to gain access to the floor. And they came running down to the floor. They were apoplectic that I had taken over the floor.

And the thing is, is that we should be having these debates on the floor. They don't want to have any debate. I'm asking right now to vote on Libya. I have a resolution saying we're in violation of the War Powers Act. It's hard for me to get the floor unless I somehow sneak on the floor when no one is looking to try to get a vote.

Why would we not want to debate great constitutional questions? When I ran for office, that's what I thought. There will be great and momentous debates on the floor. We don't have any, because they prevent the debates from ever even beginning.

COOPER: Senator Rand Paul, I appreciate you coming on. Thank you.

PAUL: Thank you.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Up next: a 360 investigation I really think you want to watch, particularly if, like me, you press your cell phone against your ear when you talk or if you carry it next to your body in a pocket. Studies say they're safe, but we have uncovered some serious questions about the research.

You will hear from a leading brain expert who says people should be a lot more concerned. And we will talk to 360 M.D. Sanjay Gupta. This report has completely changed how I use my cell phone. Again, I really do think you should watch it.

Later, just incredible -- in the middle of the flooding, look at this, one family's island. They built their own levee to save their home. We are going to show you around.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: "Keeping Them Honest" tonight, chilling new questions about cell phones and cancer, including this. If they're so safe, why do manufacturers recommend holding them more than a half inch away from your head while you talk -- while you talk? Who does that? I certainly have never done that.

If they're so safe, why does one top neurologist who deals with brain tumors daily have this to say?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. KEITH BLACK, CEDARS-SINAI MEDICAL CENTER: I don't think any mother, if they knew that there was a 2-1/2-fold increase in their kid developing brain cancer when they were 40 or 50, would allow their kids to use cell phones.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: The thing is, they haven't even tested for kids with cell phones. Notice, he said "if" mothers knew.

The fact is, there are plenty of studies out there that show cell-phone use is safe. But getting back to "if," what if the research is incomplete, because many cancers take a long time to develop and cell phones haven't been around that long?

Recently, the National Institutes of Health released a study showing that using a cell phone changes the chemistry inside your brain. What if it does more than just that?

Well, we warn you now: there are no answers yet. But as 360 M.D. Sanjay Gupta found out, there are serious people asking life and death questions.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): If you've ever put a cell phone to your ear, you should listen to what neurosurgeon Dr. Keith Black has to say.

BLACK: There's no way to say that cell-phone use is safe. I think that the public has a right to know that there could be a potential risk. The public generally assumes that, if one is selling something on the market, that we have had assurances that that device is safe.

GUPTA: To be clear, Dr. Black's message is Ed Ontz (ph), with headlines from the largest international study on cell phones and cancer. Their conclusion, little or no evidence cell phones are associated with brain tumors.

But if you look just one layer deeper into the appendix of that same study, you'll see something unsettling. It turns out participants in the study who used a cell phone for ten years or more had double the rate of brain glioma, a type of tumor.

And keep in mind: cell-phone use in the United States has only been popular for around 15 years. Back in 1996, there were 34 million cell-phone users. Today, nearly 300 million in use, according to industry figures.

BLACK: Environmental factors take decades to see their effect, not a few years.

GUPTA: So if it may take decades to get a clearer answer, what can we say about cell-phone safety now? Scientists here in San Jose, California, are trying to answer that very question.

(on camera) So one of the things we have to do first is literally put the brain inside the head.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Exactly. It's very light now.

GUPTA (voice-over): The FCC requires all cell phones emit below 1.6 watts per kilogram of radiation.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let's put some brains in.

GUPTA: In order to test for that, scientists here try and mimic the human brain, with salt, sugar, and water.

(on camera) Let me show you precisely how they do this test. This is a model. This is supposed to approximate the human skull, an adult male. This is my phone we've actually attached there. It's connected at the angle that most people would speak with.

And inside over here, very important. This bubbly liquid inside, that's what represents liquid brain.

It's going to happen as the phone is making a call. After a period of time, this device is going to come over here and start to measure radiation at all sorts of different points in the brain. After that, they're going to take all of those numbers, basically put it on a computer screen, and tell us where the hot spots are and just how high the levels got.

(voice-over) My cell phone measured within FCC limits. But the whole process was, well, surprisingly low tech. And what about different size skulls or children?

BLACK: In children, their skull is thinner, their scap (ph) is thinner, so the microwave radiation can penetrate deeper into the brain of children and young adults. And their cells are dividing at a much faster rate, so the impact of the microwave radiation can be much larger.

GUPTA: But there have been no studies on children and cell-phone safety.

(on camera) And here's something else that might surprise you. The cell manufacturers themselves actually advise against putting the cell phone right next to your head or really anywhere on your body.

Take a look, for example, with the iPhone 4. The safety instructions specifically say, "When using the iPhone near your body for voice calls, keep it at least 15 millimeters or five-eighths of an inch away from your body."

What if you're a BlackBerry user specifically? They also have safety guidelines. In this case, they say keep it .9 inches or 25 meters (ph) from your body in your head or really in your pocket.

(voice-over) Dr. Keith Black has been talking about this longer than many. But the voices joining him are becoming louder and more prominent.

The city of San Francisco pushed for radiation warning levels on cell phones. The head of a prominent cancer research institute sent a memo to all employees, urging them to limit cell-phone use because of possible risk of cancer.

And the European environmental agency has pushed for more studies, saying cell phones could be as big a public health risk as smoking, asbestos and leaded gasoline.

(on camera) The Federal Communications Commission, the FCC, they set the guidelines for how much radiation a cell phone can emit, and they say cell phones are safe. But how can they be so sure?

"Keeping Them Honest," we decided to come here to try and find out for ourselves, but they declined an on-camera interview.

(voice-over) The type of radiation coming out of your cell phone is called non-ionizing. It's not like an X-ray but more like a very low-powered microwave oven.

BLACK: What microwave radiation does, in the most simplistic terms, is very similar to what happens to your food when you put your food in a microwave oven. It's essentially cooking the brain.

GUPTA: But based on their past statements, the FCC isn't convinced there's a real risk and maintain they, quote, "do not endorse the need for consumers to take any precautions to reduce exposure."

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Sanjay, this piece is really fascinating and terrifying, I've got to say. They're just -- these cell phones haven't been around long enough, it seems like, to really have an accurate sense of whether or not they're safe.

GUPTA: That's the issue. Is that, you know, there haven't been studies to conclusively show that they're dangerous, but there's not studies out there to show that they're conclusively safe either.

The problem is the ubiquity of these, Anderson, and how much we're using them. Even some of the earlier studies, regular cell phone use would be defined as a couple of hours per week for six months. Who uses their cell phones like that? Most people have it planted to their head many hours of the day and for many years to come.

COOPER: And the whole idea that, you know, in the fine print of the owner manual and stuff, it says you're supposed to hold it -- I don't know -- 5/8ths of an inch away from your head or something, who does that? I mean, I keep mine pressed. My ear gets warm. I have it pressed against my head so much.

GUPTA: Yes. I don't think most people read the little fine print there. But what I think what's even more impressive about that is that, as much as you hear from the FCC saying, "Look, no precautionary measures are necessary whatsoever," the manufacturers themselves, Anderson, are saying, "Look, 5/8ths of an inch away from your ear." I mean, that's impractical, but away from your body in general. Not even in your front pocket, you know, next to your bone marrow, next to your reproductive organs.

COOPER: You're not even supposed to have it in your pocket?

GUPTA: Well, they say you're supposed to keep it 5/8ths of an inch away from your body. So it's -- you know, I mean, if you have it in your pocket, it's probably right up against your skin. So it's -- you're supposed to -- you're supposed to put it in these holsters, again, which very few people use, or in a separate bag and carry it with you.

COOPER: Yes, I look like enough of a geek as it is. I'm not going to need a holster. But I mean, I've got to say, after seeing this report, I'm going to get one of those ear pieces and try to use that.

GUPTA: Yes. Well, I was going to ask you if you actually use one.

COOPER: Do you?

GUPTA: You know, I use mine -- I use mine all the time, you know, when we travel overseas. I don't know if you've seen me put this in my ear. I'm actually going to bring one to your office, do a segment (ph) to your office, so you're going to have one, as well.

Look, you know, it's one of these things, Anderson. And I don't want to sound like a conspiracy theorist or even histrionic about this, but it is a pretty easy thing to do, to use the ear piece.

Again, manufacturers from the cell phones themselves recommend keeping it away from your ear. A wired earpiece is a good way to do that. So I've been using it for years now. Who knows what, 20 years from now, we're actually going to know about this.

COOPER: Right.

GUPTA: But, you know, if the results come back that it was a problem, this is pretty...

COOPER: There's also, at least from my thinking in the past, when I thought about this -- as a matter of fact, I was just talking about it in the office today, when we were talking about your piece, is that I sort of assume, like, well, look. Everyone uses cell phones. They -- they must be tested and safe and stuff.

But clearly, they just haven't been around long enough. And just because everybody is using them, it doesn't mean that everybody -- you know, that there's not going to be some terrible news about these things down the road.

GUPTA: We find out things years down the road. Leaded gasoline, asbestos, even cigarettes. It takes time for some of that data to come back.

And you saw how decidedly low tech the safety testing is. I mean, I was surprised. I thought it would be much more sophisticated. It's not.

And Anderson, let me even tell you, now I've got my cell phone right here. You know, that number that you saw on the piece, 1.6, you know, sort of the absorption rate.

COOPER: Right.

GUPTA: If you're on your phone and you're having a bad signal, if you're having a hard time hearing somebody, that means your phone is sending off even more radiation at that time, trying to get you a better signal. That number is not constant. If you had a bad signal, if you're overseas and having a difficult time hearing somebody, you're actually getting more radiation at that time. So these numbers really pop up and down.

COOPER: What is it about the microwave radiation that can potentially cause problems?

GUPTA: That's a good question. So ionizing radiation is one end of the spectrum. That's x-rays. Everyone agrees in large amounts that can be a problem.

Non-ionizing is more like a low-powered microwave oven. You know what a microwave oven can do at high powers; it can cook food. The question is, at low powers for long duration, could this be acting like a little microwave oven next to your head, and causing tissue to heat up and possibly causing damage that way?

Now, we know for the first time this year, from a study at the NIH, that cell phones have an impact on the brain. It changes the way the brain metabolizes around the area of the cell phone. So there is an impact. But the larger question is, what is that heating and that increased metabolism going to do in the long run? Could it lead to cancer? That's what a lot of people are trying to figure out.

COOPER: I've actually gotten a rash at one point in my ear from my cell phone from, like, the heat of it. I'm completely going to switch now, based on what you're saying in your report.

You also told me during the break that this Dr. Black treated lawyer Johnny Cochran.

GUPTA: Yes.

COOPER: And what did he tell you about why he thought Johnny Cochran got a brain tumor?

GUPTA: Well, I've been investigating this for some time. It was a conversation with Dr. Black a few years ago. I asked Dr. Black about Johnny Cochran. I said, "Do you have any idea why he got a brain tumor?"

And he replied, almost without hesitation. He said, "It was his cell-phone usage."

And I said -- I even said, "Come on, there's been a lot of studies that show that can't be true; there's no link."

And he said, "I'm convinced of it. Science simply has not caught up."

Now, people who use their cell phones a lot, you tend to see it. At that time wealthier people, because they're the ones that had cell phones. People who had jobs that required them to be on the cell phones a lot. He's starting to see an uptick in brain tumors in that specific population of people. And like you, Anderson, it's frightening to sort of think about. But that's what he's starting to see. Very busy brain tumor surgeon.

COOPER: Wow. There's no doubt, I'm going to change my behavior on this one.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta, appreciate it. Thanks, Sanjay.

GUPTA: Thanks, Anderson. Any time.

COOPER: You can see the rest of Sanjay's investigation this weekend on "SANJAY GUPTA M.D." Saturday and Sunday at 7:30 a.m. Eastern Time.

Up next tonight, one family in Mississippi was determined to save their home from the destructive waters of the river. You're going to meet them. Amazing what they've done to save their home.

And also, there are those who claim, you've probably heard, that tomorrow is judgment day. Remember, you've been warned. Ignore at your own peril and join me on tonight's "RidicuList."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Well, we've been reporting all week, really, on the devastating flooding in the south, the worst the region has seen in decades, affecting countless people in nine states. So many homes have been ruined already, but some have been saved with extraordinary effort.

Look at this picture of a house in Yazoo County, Mississippi. It's now an island surrounded by a levee after a family went to great lengths to protect their own home and the farm. Martin Savidge reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This big island was constructed -- well, it's about 2,200 feet that goes around three acres, sort of a soft-sided square. And it ranges in height from about 8 feet up to maybe 11 feet. And this is what is keeping, essentially, the floodwaters coming from the Yazoo and the Mississippi, the back water at bay.

When you were doing this, did people think you were crazy?

IRMA HART, LANDOWNER: Well, nobody actually told me that, but by the looks in their eyes, yes, some of them thought I was crazy.

SAVIDGE: Look at this. This gives you a pretty good idea of what it's like to be inside the levee. You can see it running along all up there. But you would never know by standing right here that there was a massive flood just out beyond those walls.

You've had electricity.

NANCY HART, IRMA HART'S WIFE: Yes.

SAVIDGE: I'm amazed. You're cut off from the mainland, but you still have your electricity?

HART: Yes. My husband always said we have too much furniture in here.

SAVIDGE: Not any more.

HART: But again, we took everything out of the bottom cabinets, raised it up, and all the furniture and everything else is in storage.

SAVIDGE: So what we want to do now is take you next door and show you their son's house. Normally it's only a couple hundred yards walking. These aren't normal times. We'll do it by boat.

Now we're out in the Harts' cotton field. Well, what would be the Harts' cotton field. You can see about a thousand acres of it planted out around here. But as you can see, it's nothing but water just about as far as the eye can see.

And this is the levee as seen by the water's side here. And see what they've done here. Sometimes the wind blows so strong across the cotton field, you actually -- you actually get white caps.

This is their son Todd's house. As you can see, his levee is a lot steeper and a lot higher, which means it's a lot deeper down here. But this is that amazing house shot that you see from up above, that lone house standing up against the flood.

TODD HART, IRMA HART'S SON: This is our water pump, to pump water. This is the low spot inside the levee. And it comes down this drainage and it comes through here.

SAVIDGE: If you get a leak, water comes down to this low spot...

T. HART: That's right.

SAVIDGE: And you use the pump; it goes back up, and you spit it back out.

T. HART: That's right.

SAVIDGE: With their farm fields flooded, the Hart family really doesn't have anything they can do until the floodwaters subside, and the experts say that's probably not going to happen until at least the middle of June.

In the meantime, the family says they've always wanted to have some lakefront property. And they actually find the sound of the waves lapping into the cotton field very peaceful.

In Yazoo County, Mississippi, I'm Martin Savidge.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Amazing. They really did that.

Joe Johns is following some other stories for us tonight. He joins us with a "360 Bulletin" -- Joe.

JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Anderson.

At the White House today, Israel's prime minister flatly rejected President Obama's call yesterday for a return to Israel's 1967 boarders as a basis for Middle East peace talks. Prime Minister Netanyahu met with President Obama for about two hours.

Information seized during the raid that killed Osama bin Laden has prompted the Homeland Security Department and the FBI to warn police across the U.S. that al Qaeda has a continuing interest in attacking oil and natural gas targets. That's according to a government official.

Randy Savage, the pro wrestler known as Macho Man, was killed today in a car crash in Florida. He was 58. The state highway patrol said Savage lost control of his Jeep, jumped a median, and slammed into a tree. His wife was injured in the crash.

And Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels is recovering after a door at his gym clipped his forehead. The potential 2012 presidential candidate needed 16 stitches. That guy has a lot going on his mind right now.

COOPER: Apparently. Joe, thanks very much. Have a great weekend.

Coming up, the end is near. Not the end of the show, the end of the world. Don't worry about that. You've heard the hype, and apparently, some of you have chosen to laugh it off. Not me. I'll explain next in the "RidicuList."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: All right, time now for the "RidicuList."

And since the world is certainly definitely coming to an end tomorrow, tonight we're adding anyone who has ignored this indisputable fact and made plans for the weekend.

By now you have probably heard tomorrow is judgment day. It's the end of the world as we know it. And while I don't like to argue with Michael Stipe, I actually don't feel all that fine about it. This is going to happen, people. How do I know this? Because Harold Camping tells me so.

Harold Camping is the head of something called Family Radio Network, and says the beginning of the end is tomorrow, Saturday, May 21. He says the signs are clear. Things like increased wickedness, lying, greed -- oh, and gay pride. But how did he pin down the actual date? Well, it's just simple math.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) HAROLD CAMPING, FAMILY RADIO NETWORK: It's approximately six years. In actuality, it is exactly 2,300 days. It's 17 years approximately, not -- not to the very day, but 17 years. So it's actually 6,100 days. But from -- from 1994 to 2011 is 17 years.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: I'm concerned that people aren't taking this seriously. Making jokes, planning end-of-the-world parties. This is no joke. This is very serious.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CAMPING: We're not talking about just when there's going to be a -- some kind of an event between peoples, like a ball game or something.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Exactly. It's not like an event between peoples, some ball game or something. You hear that, Dodger fans? That game against the White Sox tomorrow, not going to happen. Called on account of the end of the world.

Actually, Harold says the end is at 6 p.m. I'm not sure if that's Eastern or Pacific. But the Dodger game starts at 2:10, so you might be about to get in a few innings. But for those of you with tickets to the Yanni concert in McAllen, Texas, tomorrow night, you should have saved your money. You'll get some new age, all right: a new age of Armageddon.

Same goes for Miley Cyrus's concert in Costa Rica. No party in the USA for you, unless doomsday is your idea of a party.

And sorry, Atlanta, but you're going to miss the Yo Mama's Big Fat Booty Band concert. Actually, that's a shame. Give me just a taste of Yo Mama's Big Fat Booty Band.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(MUSIC)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: And yes, I think that is the last time I've ever uttered the sentence, "Give me just a taste of Yo Mama's Big Fat Booty Band." Just think, that may be the last song you'll ever hear. That may be the last time I ever say that sentence.

Now, I know what some of you are thinking, and it's true. Harold Camping did predict that the world was going to end once before in 1994, back in September, and yes, technically, he was wrong. But this time he's really, really sure. Sure enough to collect $18 million in donations in 2009 alone. And this time he has more of the specifics, the gory details, if you will.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CAMPING: And simultaneously, as the graves are all thrown open, the true believers who have persevered and died, their bodies will be resurrected, or their bones, or their remains, whatever.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Is that man actually alive?

All the graves will be thrown open, bodies and bones and remains. That sounds less like end-of-the-world problem and more like a straight-up zombie problem. Luckily, the CDC has just come out with a zombie preparedness brochure, so I'm ready. Terrified, but ready.

So after the show tonight, I'm going to go home, kick back in my Y2K shelter. I knew that thing would come in handy one day. I'm going to crank up some Yanni tunes and get ready for the end of the world. I just hope it's half as cool as it was on "Star Wars."

For all of you who made plans for the weekend, should have saved your money. Actually, there's no point in actually saving your money. Oh, well.

Nice knowing you. And it's nice to have you on the "RidicuList."

Don't worry, though, I'm pretty sure I'll be back here Monday, and I'm pretty sure -- at least, I hope you will be, as well. I'll see you then.