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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Congressman Anthony Weiner Speaks Out; Outrage in Syria
Aired June 1, 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. Thanks for joining us.
We begin tonight "Keeping Them Honest" with the strange saga of Congressman Anthony Weiner and what may or may not be an intimate photo of him that appeared on Twitter.
Today, Congressman Weiner sat down with a string of reporters and talked, but he still didn't fully answer the central question. Was a photograph, a crotch shot in boxers, sent from his Twitter account and addressed to a Seattle-area college student in fact him?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Have you ever taken a picture of yourself like this?
REP. ANTHONY WEINER (D), NEW YORK: I can tell you this, that there are -- I have photographs. I don't know what photographs are out there in the world of me. I don't know what things have been manipulated and doctored, and we're going to try to find out what happened.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: We are going to play more of Wolf's interview with the congressman shortly in two parts.
Weiner did tell "The New York Times" he could not say with certitude if he was the person in the picture, in other words, not ruling it out. He does, however, flatly deny sending it. He says his account was hacked. He's also said it was a prank.
The recipient, a woman named Gennette Cordova, told "The New York Daily News" -- quote -- "There have never been any inappropriate exchanges between Anthony Weiner and myself, including the tweet picture in question."
She's one of about 200 people she follows on Twitter, and she's one of about 50,000 who follow him. We would love to get her side of the story straight from her, but she's been unavailable for any further comment.
A person named Dan Wolfe seems to have been the only person who saw the original tweet and retweeted it before it was taken down. He denies hacking into Weiner's account. However, what's odd is that on May 1, someone with the Twitter name patriotusa76, a person named Dan Wolfe, tweeted -- quote -- "Rumor: top five right-wing blogger has sex scandal pics of big-time Congressman @RepWeiner. Are you next Chris Lee?"
Chris Lee, of course, was a Republican congressman from Upstate New York who sent this photo of himself to a woman he found on Craigslist in search of romance and resigned after it became public. We got the photo from Gawker.
Wolfe's tweet was sent on May's 11, weeks before the picture in question popped up on Weiner's Twitter page this past Friday.
Yesterday, Congressman Weiner hoped to be able to put all these questions to rest by declaring that he was no only going to talk about it. And, as you remember, he had a very contentious interview or encounter with CNN's Dana Bash and Ted Barrett. Here's a sample of yesterday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Can you just say why you haven't asked law enforcement to investigate what you are alleging is a crime?
WEINER: You -- you know, Dana, if I was giving a speech to 45,000 people and someone in the back of the room threw a pie or yelled out an insult, would I spent the next two hours responding to that?
QUESTION: This is --
WEINER: I would get back --
QUESTION: This --
WEINER: I would get back --
QUESTION: This is not that situation.
WEINER: I would get back --
QUESTION: This is not that situation, though. You --
WEINER: I would --
QUESTION: -- you were --
WEINER: I would get back -- well, why don't you do it?
Do you want to do the briefing?
QUESTION: Answer the question.
Was it from you or not? WEINER: Sir -- permit me -- permit me -- do you guys want me to finish my answer?
QUESTION: Yes, this -- this answer.
QUESTION: Did you send it or not?
WEINER: If I was giving a speech to 45,000 people...
BASH: Did you follow her on Tweet?
And, if so, how did you find her? What was the reason?
WEINER: You know, I have, I think, said this a couple of ways. And I will say it again. I am not going to permit myself to be distracted by this issue any longer.
BASH: But you are the one who ...
WEINER: Dana, let...
BASH: ... said it was hacked, that you were hacked.
WEINER: ... let me -- Dana...
BASH: And that's -- and that's a criminal -- a potential crime.
WEINER: Dana -- Dana, let me -- I'm going to have to ask that we follow some rules here.
And one of them is going to be, you ask questions, I do the answer. Does that seem reasonable?
BASH: I would love to get an answer.
QUESTION: A direct answer.
WEINER: That would be reasonable, right? You do the questions. That would be reasonable. You do the questions, I do the answers, and this jackass interrupts me? How about that as the -- as the new rule of the game?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, today, Congressman Weiner launched a new strategy, talking to reporters one on one, but his answers weren't necessarily much clearer.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You will not flat-out deny that that photograph is not you? WEINER: Here's what I will say. I will say that we're trying to figure out exactly what happened here.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is kind of strange. I'm sorry. You can't tell me definitively that is a photo of you or it is not a photo of you?
WEINER: Look, here's what -- I'm reluctant to say to you definitively anything about this.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Even whether or not that's a photo of you?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But is it possible that that photograph was on your BlackBerry, on your computer that you or somebody else may have taken of you and then someone hacked in and took it...
WEINER: This is the problem, is that we could theoretically keep following these questions add infinitum.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So, it sounds like it was a photo of you.
WEINER: Well, we're going to try to find out exactly what happened.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is there a picture of you in your drawers that you are worried about, that you can't definitively say that it's not you?
WEINER: We're -- here, we have been sitting down for a brief moment and you're already asking if there pictures of me in my drawers.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, here's part one of what he told Wolf Blitzer today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Did you send that picture to that college student in Washington state?
WEINER: I did not. She says she never got it and doesn't know me; I don't -- certainly don't know her.
This seems like it's a prank to make fun of my name. You know, when your named Weiner, that happens a lot. Got 45,000-some odd Twitter followers, hundreds of people that I follow. This seems like a prank that has gotten an enormous amount of attention.
BLITZER: This is the picture -- I'm sure you've seen it by now. Is this you? WEINER: I can tell you this. We have a firm that we've hired -- I have seen it, it's -- I have seen it -- a firm that we've hired to get to the bottom of it.
I can tell you this, that photos can manipulated. Photos can be of one thing changed to look like something else. We're going to try to get the bottom of what happened. Maybe Jon Stewart last night had it right, unfortunately, but we're going to find out.
Look, this has turned into this kind of international whodunit. What it really is was, I think, a prank. I'm treating it like a prank and trying to get back to the work I'm trying to do. I understand you want to pursue the story, and we're going to try to help you the best we can.
BLITZER: Well, we just want to resolve it once and for all.
You would know if this is your underpants, for example.
WEINER: The question is -- I appreciate you continuing to flash that at me.
Look, I have said the best I can, that we're going to try to get to the bottom of what happened here. But you know, I just want to caution you -- and you understand this, you're a pro -- that photographs can be manipulated. Photographs can be taken up from one place and put in another place, photos they can be doctored. And I want to make sure that we know for sure what happened here.
It certainly doesn't look familiar to me, but I don't want to say with certitude to you something that I don't know to be the certain truth.
But I do know some certain truths here. I didn't send any Twitter picture. The person who allegedly it was sent to, this poor woman who is, frankly, a victim in all of this, didn't get it. She put out a statement saying as much. I don't know her, she doesn't know me.
It seems to me that this is what goes on in the Internet world, in the social media world of 2011 that sometimes this happens. Hundreds and thousands of times, just about every week, people have spam and hacking that goes on. It seems like I was a victim of that, and I don't consider that big of a federal offense, but people want to pay attention to it and I guess I get it. When you're named Weiner, it kind of goes with the territory.
BLITZER: Have you ever taken a picture like this of yourself?
WEINER: I can tell you this, that there are -- I have photographs. I don't know what photographs are out there in the world of me. I don't know what things have been manipulated and doctored, and we're going to try to find out what happened.
But the most important reason I want to find out what happened is to make sure it doesn't happen again. Obviously, somebody got access to my account; that's bad. They sent a picture that makes fun of the name Weiner. I get it. You know, touche, Dr. Moriarty, you got me.
At the time it happened, I tweeted right away that I got the joke and I continued on with my life. And I think that, frankly, that's what I would encourage everyone to do. I don't believe that this is a big federal issue, but people are free to pursue it if they like.
BLITZER: But you would like to get to the bottom of it. So the questions is, have you asked Capitol Hill Police or New York Police or FBI or law enforcement authority to investigate?
WEINER: Have I called -- have I called the cops or the FBI because someone sent spam? No. However, I did get a firm, a law firm who specializes in these things, who specializes in white-collar crime. I have got someone who is -- and they're going to get someone who is an Internet security expert to get to the bottom of how we secure my accounts.
BLITZER: Did you send direct messages or private messages to this woman in Washington state, Gennette Cordova?
WEINER: I'm going to -- I'm going to -- look, I'm not going to get into how I communicate with people on social media. I'm not going to open the door to like, did I send someone a note that said, thank you for following me, please tune in for the www.anthonyweiner.com in the future. I don't want to open the door to you saying, well, what about this person, what did she say back, what did this person say.
All I can say this. There was nothing, as she said, inappropriate. There is standard communication that people have on social media. I tweet all the time. I have got thousand -- 45,000 followers, more than just about any member of Congress. It's a playful combative feed. I encourage people to sign up @RepWeiner, and this is what happens, sometimes people zing you back and that's what happened in this case.
BLITZER: Do you do all of your own personal tweeting or do your staff members do it for you?
WEINER: I do, with some limited exceptions that -- we have a firm that does mass mail for us that sometimes links to it, but it's me, it's got my voice. I was tweeting at the moment this happened --
BLITZER: I mean, does anybody else have your pass code?
WEINER: Well, that's one of the things, unfortunately, we're going to be looking into.
Not that I know of, but, you know, as I tweeted that night, I have had problems with getting access to my Facebook accounts and I have had to change that account a few times, and perhaps we're going to find out what happened. I don't know. You know, I fear we're going to find out that perhaps our security here was not particularly good, and maybe it's going to turn out to be a worse situation than it looks right now.
Now it looks like a prank. We're treating it like a prank and we're desperately trying just to get back to business, and that's why we're sitting down with CNN today.
BLITZER: So here's what raised some suspicion. Back on May 27, you tweeted this, you were about to be on "The Rachel Maddow Show" on MSNBC. You said, "Heading to 30 Rock to chat with Rachel at 9:00." And then you said, "That's 5:45 in Seattle, I think."
The woman in question here is in Seattle.
WEINER: Right. I had tweeted previously -- I know, it's a terrible coincidence and that's all it is. And frankly, I didn't even know the girl was in Seattle from her feed.
Look, let me say this. In the past on my Twitter feed, I had done a similar joke about other cities.
BLITZER: Why Seattle?
WEINER: It was pure, pure coincidence. I have no idea.
You know, part of the Twitter ethos is they're playful, dopey things. I don't think it was 5:45 in Seattle.
It was a pure coincidence. And frankly, you know, it's questions like this are why I was a little bit testy yesterday. It's like at what point does the line get drawn where you say, you know this is just ridiculous now? You want to go back and look at my Twitter feeds, and you find some time that I reference Seattle to link it back to this -- you know, I tweet hundreds of times and I say all kinds of things. A lot of the things I said are very combative about Republicans. Very -- you know, I'm a very feisty --
BLITZER: I follow you on Twitter, so I know.
WEINER: Right, and you know how feisty I am. I mean, you know how I lean into it and how I take pokes at them all the time. And, you know, a much more reasonable line of questioning would be like, you know, maybe someone punked him back, you know, to get even for all of those times. That's what I thought at the time.
It's just -- there's a level of this, Wolf, that it's gotten a little crazy. And maybe I contributed to it by maybe not being direct about it, maybe the statements I put out on Saturday and Sunday, maybe being -- having a gaggle of cameras follow my wife and me taking a wife taking a walk on Monday didn't do the trick. I came here yesterday convinced. I want to talk about the debt limit, I want to talk about health care reform.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, we're going to have part two of the interview coming up. Wolf asks, is the congressman protecting anyone?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BLITZER: Back on March 13, a woman named Ginger Lee, who is a stripper, apparently, she tweeted this -- and I will -- I will put it up on the screen -- "You know it's a good day when you wake up to a DM" -- a direct message -- "from @RepWeiner. I'm a fangirl, y'all. He's my trifecta of win."
Do you have any idea who this woman is?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: His answer coming up next.
Let us know what you think about it. We're on Facebook or follow me on Twitter @AndersonCooper. I will be tweeting tonight, though I'm telling you right now I'm not sending any photos.
Later: Syria and a truly sick twist in torture and killing of this 13-year-old boy: his father on Syrian state TV praising the regime that is responsible for his loss. Is he speaking the truth or has he been threatened and his family threatened and forced to support the very regime that seems to have killed his son?
First, let's also check in Isha Sesay -- Isha, what do you got?
ISHA SESAY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, they get plenty of tornadoes in Springfield, Missouri, but not in Springfield, Massachusetts. We will tell you what happened when this tore right up the river and right into town -- much more just ahead.
COOPER: We're talking about a tech-savvy Democratic congressman, Anthony Weiner, and the photograph that was posted on his Twitter account, but also about one his conservative Twitter followers who retweeted the photograph after tweeting weeks before, hinting at an upcoming sex scandal involving the congressman, and the blogger with questionable credibility, Andrew Breitbart, who has taken the story and run with it.
At the end of the day, however, fair or not, many of the questions and most of the talk, they're being fueled by Congressman Weiner himself and how he's been handling this.
Here's part two of his interview with Wolf Blitzer.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Back on March 13, a woman named Ginger Lee, who is a stripper, apparently, she tweeted this -- and I will -- I will put it up on the screen -- "You know it's a good day when you wake up to a DM" -- a direct message -- "from @RepWeiner. I'm a fangirl, y'all. He's my trifecta of win."
Do you have any idea who this woman is, sending her direct messages? WEINER: This is another person who I -- has gotten dragged into this for no reason other than she was following me and asked to be followed by me. She was following, and asked to be followed.
It's -- I think what this is about is a fairly pro forma thing that goes out that I send out to people as I follow them. Thank you for following me, please check in at anthonyweiner.com.
I don't know who the woman is. I followed her for a moment. And then someone started tweeting, oh my goodness, Anthony Weiner is following someone in that industry. And I immediately, not wanting to cause trouble for her or --
BLITZER: Did you send her a direct message?
WEINER: I -- most likely what she's referring to is, as a pro forma thing, thank you for following Congressman Anthony -- thank you for following me, please stay tuned to anthonyweiner.com for updates on other things going on. That's probably what she's referring to.
But please, I want to ask you. Does this person -- what did she do, beyond tweet something that she's a follower of mine? You can probably find hundreds of people that did that. And I just would hope that you would leave these people alone. I mean, come hound me, but they didn't do anything wrong for following me on Twitter. I mean, honestly, is that really where we've come to?
BLITZER: I guess one of the questions is, you deleted some photos from your Twitter account. Why did you do that?
WEINER: I had no idea what happened that night, and I was a little bit freaked out by it. I deleted everything.
BLITZER: Have you asked some of your followers to delete photos --
WEINER: From my Facebook account?
BLITZER: No, from your Twitter account.
WEINER: No, I haven't. I mean, I will tell you what happened that night. I mean, I was literally there tweeting about hockey. For those of you who follow my Twitter, my bloody TiVo didn't record enough time, so I missed the end of the Tampa Bay-Boston game. I'm a big hockey fan, and I tweet about hockey.
And I see this thing pop up. I immediately delete it. OK? I immediately delete the photo -- I thought I deleted - I mean, I'm not 100 percent sure - I deleted the photo and then this - this -- without any password or anything, I was able to get into the account where this photograph was hosted somehow.
And I deleted that and other photographs in there as well, although it was nothing very controversial in there.
But I deleted everything, and I immediately tweeted, my system has been hacked. You know, darn it.
BLITZER: Are you protecting anyone?
WEINER: I'm protecting my wife, who every day is waking up to these insane stories that are getting so far from reality. You know, we've been married less than a year, to watch her watch these stories, get crazier and crazier about what essentially a prank, a hoax. You know, we went to bed that night not batting an eye. This was a goofy thing that happened.
She married a congressman. She knows a little something about living in public life. She knows with that goes a certain amount of, you know, aggravation. I don't think she imagined that it would be this, these bizarre stories about people who are connected to me by eight or nine rings of connection on social media. I'm protecting her the best I can.
BLITZER: All right. We're going to leave it on that note. Just to recap, you didn't send that photo to that woman in Washington state.
WEINER: Thank you.
I did not send it to that woman in Washington State.
BLITZER: But you're not 100 percent sure whether the photo is actually you?
WEINER: What I am going to say is that we're doing everything we can to try to answer that question, but we're doing an investigation. I want to caution you. Photographs can be doctored, photographs can be manipulated, can taken from one place and put in another. And so - that's -- and I want to make it clear this is, in my view, not an federal case. In my view, this is not an international conspiracy. This is a hoax, and I think people should treat it that way.
BLITZER: And you're still leaving open the possibility of going to law enforcement?
WEINER: Look, as I have said a couple of times in this interview that I have left this in the hand of people that know this stuff far better than I. I am not treating it like a federal case. It doesn't look to me like one. It looks to me like what it is. When your name is Weiner, people do Weiner jokes about you on the Internet all the time.
Unfortunately, people get hacked and people -- you know, identities get blurred all the time. And, so, I'm leaving it up to the investigation but I'm certainly not treating it like a federal case.
BLITZER: Congressman, thank you very much. WEINER: You bet, Wolf. Thank you very much.
BLITZER: You should have done this yesterday, by the way.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Wolf joins us now, along with Democratic strategist Paul Begala and senior political analyst Gloria Borger.
Wolf, it's interesting what you said to him at the end about he should have done this yesterday. Do you think, today, he did well by himself to kind of do these one-on-one interviews?
I think he did much better today than he did yesterday. Yesterday was a disaster for him, when he started giving sort of a ranting speech. Every time Dana or Ted Barrett, our producer, asked him a serious question, he would go into some sort of talking points. And it just looked like he was stonewalling, wouldn't answer what were basically simple questions.
He could have said yesterday what he said today: I did not send that picture via Twitter to that woman in Washington State.
He said that flatly today. He should have said it yesterday. He acknowledges that. He's leaving open slightly the possibility that that picture -- the picture may in fact have been him. He says he doesn't think it is, but he's leaving that open slightly.
What is apparent to me...
COOPER: Which is obviously -- which I think raises a lot of eyebrows, Wolf, with a lot of folks, like, well, how can you not know whether or not there's a picture of you? Obviously, from that angle, it's kind of an intimate picture.
I mean, that raises a lot of questions. And it might be a picture of him. And then again, at the same time, he may not have tweeted that picture. Apparently, there are all sorts of ways that others can manipulate.
BLITZER: And he was hinting at this, where you can take a picture that's out there and you can send it under someone else's name.
It's -- he used apparently this Internet service, this Twitter service called yfrog. And it's not that hard, apparently, experts tell me, to get a picture and send it out under someone else's Twitter name and make it look like that picture was sent. So he may have a good point there.
We're doing some more investigating on this, Anderson, to come up to the bottom -- come up with the answer whether or not he sent it or someone else and whether or not that was actually him. I think he's embarrassed obviously by some of the people that he was following on Twitter.
Gloria, does this story matter? I'm getting a lot of e-mails from people saying, come on, what are you doing even covering this story?
I guess, if it was a conservative congressman, I wonder if the liberals who are saying that would feel the same way.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Right. Right.
COOPER: But does this story matter? So, what if this is a picture of him?
And I think in the grand scheme of things, it's not a huge story. Compared to the kinds of stories that we have been covering over the last couple of months, it's not a huge story at all.
I think it -- to me, it raises this interesting question, though, Anderson, about politicians and tweeting, because I think what you get when politicians tweet or when their staff tweets for them is a couple of things. One of the things you get is this kind of false sense of intimacy, that people might feel -- and you saw that in those tweets -- about a politician, a member of Congress, even somebody on television, right?
And they -- the relationship might be a little odd, a little dangerous, if you will, and a little inappropriate sometimes. And I think that politicians use tweeting to their benefit, because they can say, watch me on television tonight. I'm going to be on this show, or come to my event or log on to my Web site, but the -- and that can be good -- or use it like Sarah Palin does, which is to get her thoughts out without having us question her.
But the flip side of that is something a little odd. And I think when I heard the congressman talk about his playfulness on Twitter and his feistiness on Twitter, that may be good, but, sometimes, it might not be.
COOPER: Paul, what do you think of all this? Should the congressman continue talking about this or should he just -- can he now move on that he did all these interviews?
PAUL BEGALA, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, I -- wake me when we have a real sex scandal, Anderson. You know, this is -- please.
COOPER: But, Paul, if this was a conservative Republican, would you be saying the same thing?
BEGALA: Yes, who allegedly had a picture of him taken in his underwear and then someone hacked his account and sent it out?
I do think the apparent hacking of a congressman's account maybe is more of a story. And this is the Democrat.
BEGALA: But it is a right-wing blogger who was pushing this, and a pretty unreliable one at that, which mama always said, consider the source.
So, I think he did a very good job. I think Wolf is right. I think he gave Wolf a very good interview, answered every question the best that he could, could not or would not answer, yes, that's me.
But, you know, OK, so what? Who cares? He clearly -- I mean, I think he's credible when he says, I didn't send it.
And plenty of liberal bloggers have replicated this hacking today. They have been in there saying, look, this is plausible. I'm no techie. I have no idea. I don't tweet. So is beyond my ken. But I just think, you know, when the Dow drops 279 points in a day, the career-ending scandal could be the governor of New Jersey, who is taking a state helicopter apparently yesterday to go to see his kid's baseball game. I mean, that's the kind of thing that voters get furious about, spending $2,500 an hour of state money to take a helicopter to your kid's baseball game.
What Anthony Weiner is even accused of doing, even if true, is just nothing.
COOPER: Wolf, if it is true that this account was hacked or if this was some sort of a prank, wouldn't it be something that the police should be involved with?
BLITZER: Well, it could be a crime. There's no doubt about that.
But, normally -- and I have checked with Capitol Hill Police and with others -- the aggrieved party -- in this particular case, it would be Congressman Anthony Weiner -- has to file a formal complaint. That would launch an investigation.
I can understand why he doesn't want to do that, because that would open up all of those tweets and taking a look at all of that. There would be depositions. And you start an investigation like this on Capitol Hill or FBI or New York City police, you don't know where it's going to wind up.
And he makes a fair point: You know, I don't want to make a federal case out of this. Somebody hacked in.
It's not apparently all that difficult to hack into a Twitter account through one of these other servers or whatever and get a picture that looks like you tweeted it, but really came from someone else. And he says, you know what? It happened. It's over with.
And I can understand why he doesn't want a big, full-scale, formal investigation. Even -- even if a crime may have been committed, he says it's not worth the headache to him.
COOPER: We will leave it there.
Wolf, appreciate it. Paul, thanks, Gloria as well.
Coming up: Men who say they're the father and uncle of a 13- year-old boy who was allegedly tortured to death by Syrian security forces speaking out on Syrian state television. It's sad to watch. You not going to believe what they're saying, actually praising Syria's dictator and his violent regime. We will explain perhaps what is making them do that.
Also ahead tonight, at least two tornadoes hit Western Massachusetts, the pictures incredible, including the city of Springfield. We will have the latest on the damage coming up.
COOPER: Let's check in with Isha Sesay what else we're following tonight -- Isha.
ISHA SESAY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, at least four people were killed when two tornadoes swept through western Massachusetts this evening, hitting Springfield and as many as 19 other communities. The governor says there are many injuries and extensive damage. And the National Guard is helping with search and rescue.
Meanwhile, all of the people who were missing after the devastating tornado in Joplin, Missouri, have now been found or confirmed dead. At one point, more than 1,300 people were reported missing.
On Wall Street, it was the worst day of the year so far. The Dow Jones plunged 279 points, its biggest drop since last August. The S&P and NASDAQ each fell 2.3 percent.
And Anderson, remember the Balloon Boy hoax? Well, the balloon is for sale. Richard Heene tells Florida news station WTSP he's auctioning off his creation...
COOPER: Oh, no.
SESAY: Oh, yes. He says, though, he's auctioning it -- auctioning it, if I can even say it, to raise money for the victims of the Japanese earthquake and tsunami.
COOPER: All right.
SESAY: All right.
COOPER: I'll give him a pass, I guess. Maybe.
Isha, I don't know if you've seen tonight's "Shot." The luckiest cameraman on the planet or maybe the unluckiest. I'm not sure. Here's why. He was covering a horse race in Ireland, shooting video before the race started, when a horse suddenly kicked him. Unbelievable. Everything is fine. See it again in slow motion. Everything's fine. Out of nowhere...
COOPER: Unbelievable. The camera takes the hit. We're told the camera operator was shaken up, but actually, he is OK. Let's certainly hope he had his head checked out, though. I mean, hard to -- hard to imagine.
SESAY: It really is. Did you know the horse is called Slim Shady?
COOPER: No. Really?
COOPER: I don't know. Interesting. I have a cameraman, Neil Hulsworth (ph), who got peed on by a tiger once. It's true; he did.
SESAY: Dare I ask what position he was in for the tiger to pee on him?
COOPER: He was a little too close to said tiger, I think. Yes, it was in Cambodia. He also got punched in the head in -- in Egypt, along with the rest of my team, but...
SESAY: Do you think it's because he hangs around with you?
COOPER: I think maybe so. Maybe so.
SESAY: I'm just wondering.
COOPER: Yes, well, he's very tough. So, yes.
Isha, thanks. We'll check in with you a little bit later.
Still ahead tonight, was the father of this Syrian 13-year-old boy coerced into making a video praising the very regime that seems responsible for killing his own son? Just -- it's a shocking crime, the murder of this child. To add insult to injury, now the family is being asked to appear on Syrian state television praising the very regime. Details ahead.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) COOPER: "Keeping Them Honest" tonight, a disturbing new video from Syria put out by the Syrian regime itself, featuring two men who identify themselves as the father and uncle of Hamza al-Khateeb.
Hamza, you'll recall, was a 13-year-old boy who, well, used to look like this before he was taken by security forces at a protest rally about a month ago. His family didn't know where he was for an entire month. Last week they got their little boy delivered to them by the government, but he was dead.
What I'm going to show you next is hard to watch, but it tells you a lot about what Syria's regime does to its own people. This is how Hamza came home. He reportedly had multiple gunshot wounds, cigarette burns covering his body. His knee caps were allegedly shattered, and his penis had been cut off.
Officially, however, the Syrian regime says this did not happen to the 13-year-old boy. The pathologist who did the autopsy said what you see is simply the result of body decomposition.
A relative made the video of Hamza's broken and bruised body. We showed you the images last night. They were met with outrage around the world and inside Syria.
Sources tell CNN that after the video was posted on YouTube, Syria's military detained Hamza's father and uncle. And now two men who say they are Hamza's father and uncle -- we can't for sure say they are -- showed up on Syrian state television, praising Syria's dictator and his brutal regime. In this video, the father speaks first.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): What can I say? Best president ever. Thank God he gave us everything we've ever asked for.
The first thing is, the president promised us reforms. God willing, they will come soon. I mean, these reforms are for the citizens, and they have been well received. And we were very happy with the president. The president is very close to the people, and he ha offered them a lot. And he has said, God willing, he will give even more.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): The Syrian nation doesn't care to listen to outside media. We received Hamza from the general hospital in Duran. And the reports were from all legitimate medical reports. The official report and his picture was written by the attorney general. There were four reports and investigations.
The president addressed the committee today to fully investigate the issue in order to get the truth. It's like he's his own son. There's nothing more to say.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): He considers him his son. He wants to be sure of the words we are hearing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, we don't know if the family of Hamza was threatened to get them to make these statements. We do know that that has happened repeatedly to other families who have lost loved ones.
Here's something else to consider. Human Rights Watch released a report today concluding that the Syrian regime has carried out a, quote, "systematic series of abuses" against protesters that could qualify as crimes against humanity. It points out that the protests that have swept the country began back in March with the detention and torture of 15 young boys accused of painting anti-regime graffiti slogans. Boys like Hamza. The release of their bruised and bloodied bodies unleashing outrage.
I spoke earlier with human rights activist Razan Zaitouneh, who has bravely been our window into Syria for weeks. She's in hiding tonight, as she has been for weeks. Her husband has already been taken, disappeared. No word of him. She is speaking out at great risk to her own life.
COOPER: Razan, Syrian state television is now claiming that Hamza died from three bullet wounds during a demonstration back on April 29, and they say that a medical report by a Syrian official confirms that and said that the body showed no sign of torture or bruising or violence. Are they just lying?
RAZAN ZAITOUNEH, HUMAN RIGHTS ACTIVIST (via phone): First of all, who believes the Syrian TV or Syrian media in general, official media in general? The media, which since the beginning of the revolution, which is practicing all kinds of lies and instigating Syrians against each other and accused Syrians who participate in this process to be criminals or to be terrorists, et cetera. Nobody believes this media, which has no credibility at all.
Second, this is not the first time they do the same, to kill the people and then humiliate their families and force them to say that only criminals did that for their sons.
COOPER: And that, it seems, is what they're doing with Hamza's family. His father and uncle appeared on state television yesterday, reportedly after meeting with President Assad. And they said the medical report was legitimate, and Hamza's father also said that Assad is, quote, "the best president ever." How is it that they make these people go on television and say these things?
ZAITOUNEH: By terrifying people. We heard about this before it happened. We got reports that they went to the family's house and they arrested the father, and everybody knew then that the next day we will see somebody from the family to say that "The regime didn't kill our son."
COOPER: President Assad has said that they're going to grant amnesty to protesters. And although, as we talked about yesterday, his definition of amnesty, it's people who got the death penalty, maybe they'll be reduced to life at hard labor. But Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says some 500 political prisoners have actually been released. Has your -- have you gotten any word from your husband? Has he been released? He was taken weeks ago.
ZAITOUNEH: No, not my husband, and also none of my friends who are in detention right now. None of them have been released yet until this moment. And I just want to tell you how it's painful for thousands of families who are waiting for their sons to be released now. Those -- they don't know if their sons will be released or not.
COOPER: What keeps you going? I mean, you're in hiding. You're at risk of being arrested at any moment. What keeps you going?
ZAITOUNEH: We have a dream. We know this is a dream of freedom, of dignity that you -- you feel you are a human being and dealt in proper way as a human being in your country. We want all of this to end. It's our moment. And we will continue until the end, no matter how we suffer now, because -- because actually, what we are suffering now we have been suffering for decades now. But now the difference is this moment all Syrians are saying, "It's enough." All Syrians now want this to end.
COOPER: Razan Zaitouneh, stay safe. Thank you.
COOPER: In this new report, Human Rights Watch says if Syria doesn't stop killing its people, the U.N. Security Council should refer President Bashar Assad to the International Criminal Court. Australia's foreign minister went further today, saying that time has already come.
Joining me now, Ann Marie Slaughter, professor at Princeton and former director of policy planning for the State Department. Also Fouad Ajami, professor at Johns Hopkins and a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution.
Fouad, you know, you hear -- you see what happened to that little boy and then to see his father, if that is in fact his father, you know, appearing on state television, given what has happened in the past, the idea that he was coerced is not far-fetched.
FOUAD AJAMI, PROFESSOR, JOHNS HOPKINS UNIVERSITY: Well, look, Anderson, Bashar al-Assad has now crossed the Rubicon. I mean, the murder of children.
You also have UNICEF basically talking about the abuse of children, the killing of children, the murder of children has been part and parcel of the practice of this regime.
Are these -- are these the parents -- is this the father and the uncle of this poor boy? We don't know. And if they are there, we know why they're there. We know they're terrified. We know they have other things to worry about. We know they have other members of their family to worry about. So I think the mask has fallen, and I think we can now see what this -- what this man, Bashar al-Assad, is all about. The dream that he was a reformer, the idea that he will change, the idea that he will break with his father. And I think the Syrian people are now beginning to, in a way, think about a future beyond Bashar Assad. Today they're meeting entirely (ph) in Turkey, Syrian opposition, to think about a new Syria. And that's what this is about.
COOPER: And yet, Ann Marie, have the protests gotten to the point, though, where they really threaten the regime? Because it doesn't -- it doesn't seem like they are wide enough or deep enough at this point.
ANN MARIE SLAUGHTER, PROFESSOR, PRINCETON: They haven't been yet. But on the other hand, they can't be stopped. The government has used, obviously, horrific detention and torture. They've sent in the army in Daraa. And yet the protesters keep coming out on the streets.
And I do think Hamza helps crystallize all that rage on a kind of single point. And it may help shift the political balance of power. At some point the upper middle class, the merchant class may decide this has just gone too far. At this point, you cannot deny the horrific brutality of a man who presents himself as a reformer and has two young sons -- two young children himself. The facts won't lie.
COOPER: And you know, Fouad, I mean, to see -- so every night to be talking to someone like Razan Zaitouneh, I mean, I'm so moved by her courage. And you see those pictures of other little children out on the streets, carrying candles and pictures of Hamza.
What Razan said I thought was really interesting, that the regime for years has sent back the bodies of people they've tortured as a warning. They want -- in the past, they have wanted people to se, and perhaps that's why they released Hamza's body and just didn't make him disappear. But they seem to have miscalculated.
AJAMI: Look, Anderson, the theme from your own coverage from the Middle East has been about fear, and whether fear has been defeated, whether fear could be, if you will, reinstated. And what Bashar Assad is now trying to do, he's trying to frighten his people again. He is very surprised by what -- by the daring of people, by the defiance of his people. He couldn't believe that they would come out into the streets. He couldn't believe that they would destroy the statues of his father and they would destroy his own statues. This is almost a kind of North Korea cult regime in many ways.
COOPER: His father killed, I mean, more than 10,000 people, plenty more than that.
AJAMI: Exactly. Exactly. And when Bashar came to power in 2000, the dream was that this is a new man. This is a younger man, a modern man, a western-educated man and that he will change.
And I think that dream really persisted. It persisted in Washington. It persisted in other places. And now I think this is now a moment of reckoning. This man has crossed the Rubicon, and I think this regime is now completely exposed.
COOPER: Ann Marie, though, it's so frustrating every night, again, to hear these voices, to see the strength of these people. And we get tweets about this all the time. What can -- what can we do? What can the U.S. do? What can the international community do? Is there more to be done?
SLAUGHTER: There is more to be done. Actually, the Human Rights Watch report, which I recommend everyone should read, it's very powerful, lays out a list of things that the U.N. Security Council can do, that the Arab League can do.
A lot of this is diplomatic condemnation, but diplomatic condemnation expresses the -- the weight of the international community, and that then can be a basis for global sanctions.
The E.U. and the U.S. have targeted sanctions, but Human Rights Watch calls for targeted travel and economic sanctions against individuals, thereby possibly causing defections, changing the political balance.
And ultimately, Anderson, we have the weapon that you always use, which is truth, which is "Keeping Them Honest." It is holding a mirror to the Syrian government and showing the world what the Syrian people see rather than what the Syrian government says. And that is a powerful weapon when it's really up to people to find the courage to take to the streets and the world not being able to deny the truth.
COOPER: It's frustrating, Fouad, because all the diplomats who run around in slick cars and suits, they're not talking, they won't be subjected to interviews. They don't want to have to publicly defend this regime.
AJAMI: They've gone into a very different world.
But the problem with the Syrian regime, if you will, in many ways, it still has assets. Let's be honest about this. If we go to the Security Council, both the Russians and the Chinese will not be with us.
If you go to the Arab League, you will realize that actually, the Syrian regime and the Arabs circles of power, as opposed to someone like Gadhafi, who in many ways was abandoned, and the Arab League broke with him. The Arab League is very reluctant to take on the Syrian regime.
So we face a situation -- I've always believed, unfortunately, that in many ways the Syrian people are alone in the struggle against this despot and that, in many ways, the Syrian regime has been able to insinuate the argument that to see the hypocrisy of Bashar Assad or the Muslim Brotherhood. So the first item -- and I agree with Ann Marie -- the weapon of truth, is in fact to say, it's not either Assad or chaos. There is a real choice in Syria.
Syria is a mercantile society. It's a society with a deep tradition and decent people. They deserve a chance. And this is what we need to be able to see, that it's not -- we don't have this stark choice of either Bashar or chaos.
COOPER: Right. Fouad, great to have you on again.
Ann Marie Slaughter, as well. Thank you so much.
There are other stories in the world. Sometimes you really need them. Just ahead, he was lurking at the Denver airport. This is something to make you smile at the end of the night. This has been a really tough couple of days. A really bizarre, one of the more stranger people we've ever put on the "RidicuList," I think I can say. Stay tuned.
COOPER: Time now for the "RidicuList" and tonight, we're adding a gentleman by the name of William Tapley. But you probably know him by his other names.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAM TAPLEY, THIRD EAGLE OF THE APOCALYPSE: I'm your host, William Tapley, also known as the Third Eagle of the Apocalypse and the co-prophet of the end times.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: That's quite a resume, isn't it? Quite a resume, indeed. And William is putting it to good use, making dozens upon dozens of videos and posting them on YouTube for a show he calls "Revelation Unraveled." Bravo TV it ain't.
Hidden amongst this veritable avalanche of videos is an expose in which William gets to the bottom of what's going on at the Denver International Airport.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TAPLEY: This program is a continuation of my series on the Denver International Airport, and especially the murals and the art contained therein. Because they are evil, they are signs of Satanism, and on this program, I will point out that many of them are phallic symbols.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Say what now? I know what you're thinking. This sounds like another crazy conspiracy theory from some loon on the Internet. But before we rush to judgment, let's hear the man out, because it just so happens William has some evidence. Oh, yes.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TAPLEY: This sign on the penguin's cage constitutes a phallic symbol. Please notice that the Latin name for this bird includes the word "enhance." Now, that is not accidental.
The bird standing upright is phallic. The shape of the sign is phallic, and even the name is phallic.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: All right. So he was able to find one example. He's able to find one example. Big deal. It doesn't prove -- what? Oh, he's found another example. OK. Roll the tape.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TAPLEY: Many of the shapes on the horse's tail and main are phallic shapes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: All right, two examples. Big deal. It's not like the whole outdoor baggage handling area is in the shape of a phallus.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TAPLEY: The outdoor baggage handling area is in the shape of a phallus. Let's take a closer look. Up here we see the testicle area and out here the phallus.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Imagine what he sees in the clouds.
Now I must say, I don't find William's argument all that convincing, and I'm kind of disappointed because I looked into his catalog of work, and generally, his theories are spot on.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TAPLEY: You will not be raptured if you are using condoms.
The topic of this program is why a woman should not be president of the United States.
The news media is demonic.
Michelle Obama dressed up as a leopard in this year's White House Halloween party. I thought this was very unusual.
(singing) World War II, don't blame me for some water, food and fuel immediately.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: He even sings. So here's to you, Third Eagle of the Apocalypse, co-prophet of the end times, for all your good work. You're cleared for landing on the "RidicuList."
We'll be right back.