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CAMPBELL BROWN

Oil Spill's Environmental Impact; Political Incumbents in Danger?

Aired May 17, 2010 - 20:00   ET

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


CAMPBELL BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: Hey there, everybody.

We have an exclusive tonight with a soldier stationed at Fort Hood, a Muslim, who makes some very troubling charges. He says he's been repeatedly harassed and mocked because of his religion. And he says the Pentagon has done nothing to stop it. Now he is suing the Army.

Also, the race against time in the Gulf of Mexico. Scientists say the oil is on the move tonight and could start washing up on Florida's beaches in just days. So, are things about to get much worse? I will ask Bill Nye, The Science Guy.

And some big surprises in a new study of how babies view right and wrong -- we're going to tell what you your baby is thinking.

But we begin with our number-one story tonight, new developments in the Times Square bomb plot. CNN has obtained e-mails from the suspect sent in 2006 and 2009, e-mails that show him looking for a way for Muslims, to, in his words, fight back when Muslim blood flows.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Four years before a car bomb was found in Times Square, Faisal Shahzad wrote an e-mail brewing with frustration. "Everyone knows how the Muslim country bows down to pressure from the West. Everyone knows the kind of humiliation we are faced with around the globe. Can you tell me a way to save the oppressed and a way to fight back when rockets are fired at us and Muslim blood flows?"

The second e-mail is written in April 2009, the same month Shahzad is sworn in as a United States citizen. Some analysts say Shahzad appears more agitated writing -- quote -- "It is it said if you don't have a proper sheik to under the Koran, then Satan become your sheik."

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BROWN: CNN got the e-mails from a Connecticut physician, who also provided copies to the FBI.

But also tonight, a model soldier says he is suing the military. By all accounts, 20-year-old Army specialist Zachari Klawonn, is exactly what the Army says it is looking for. He has an exemplary service record and has earned the praise of both his commanders and his Army buddies. But after two years in, specialist Klawonn, an Arabic- speaking Muslim who grew up in Florida, claims he has been the victim of repeated anti-Muslim harassment, including religious slurs, physical threats, even having his Koran torn up, a pattern he says got even worse after the Fort Hood massacre last November.

In an exclusive interview, I spoke to Specialist Klawonn, along with his attorney, as well as his commanding officer. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BROWN: Specialist Klawonn, you say, from your beginning of your time in the Army, there's been this pattern of harassment. Give us some examples.

SPC. ZACHARI KLAWONN, U.S. ARMY: Yes, absolutely.

I mean, just within the first week of basic training it was evident that there was this vibe, this sense of terrorism and Islam as one, which is obviously false. Within the first week, you know, the Islamic service that was held at my basic training installation was basically made a mockery of. When I raised my hand and said that I was willing to attend, I was automatically brought out of the group and singled out and humiliated, absolutely.

BROWN: And I know in basic training you said you were also picked out of all the soldiers to act the role of a terrorist, right?

KLAWONN: Sure.

This was at the -- this was at the very end of basic training, where we, you know, take all the skills and tasks that we learned throughout the training cycle and put them all together to, I guess, the final test, the ultimate test.

Well, upon us getting there, I was informed, ordered that I was going to play the head terrorist in this training scenario. And that was my sole role.

BROWN: Now, you currently serve, as we mentioned earlier, at Fort Hood, where just six months ago, Major Nidal Hasan went on a shooting rampage -- 13 people were killed. What has it been like for you on the base since the shootings?

KLAWONN: It was pretty constant before that. But immediately following that -- you know, that incident, I had a lot of guys, you know, approaching me asking me to justify the act, which I immediately condemned.

And it even got even more severe where -- when 2:00 in the morning one night, a certain individual approached my barracks room while I was sleeping and pounded on my door and left a very, very discriminatory note for me to read.

BROWN: Let me bring in your brigade commander from Fort Hood, who is Colonel Jimmy Jenkins. And he is joining us right now on the phone from Fort Sill, Oklahoma.

And, Colonel, what is your response? Do you believe the Army has failed to act strongly enough to protect Specialist Klawonn from the kind of harassment he says he is experiencing?

COL. JIMMY JENKINS, U.S. ARMY: Well, actually, I think we have done everything we can do to protect him.

As a matter of fact, that's my sole goal, is to make sure he and the other 2,200 soldiers in the brigade, their safety is paramount. I'm charged with the combat readiness of the brigade. And if my soldiers don't feel safe, then I have failed.

So, I have worked personally with Specialist Klawonn on a quite a few occasions to see what I could do to make him feel safer. And in each case, I thought I was making headway, based on his responses to me and the feedback I got, but it's not like we're done.

We're going to continue to do what it takes to make him feel safe and as importantly make him feel that he's not discriminated against, nor any other Muslim or any soldier of any religious faith is discriminated against, for that matter.

BROWN: Specialist Klawonn, what do you say to that?

KLAWONN: With all due respect, I really -- I really feel it's when the media cameras come out that a lot of these proposals also come out that are not followed through on.

And it's just another example. And this has happened on numerous occasions. And I hope for the best. And I hope that we can get to that understanding and that justice that I'm seeking. And my ultimate goal by -- with this lawsuit and working with the Military Religious Freedom Foundation is to really have the Army find that moral compass and start using it, one that the American people and the Constitution have provided for them.

I mean, these are the same constitutional rights and liberties that I enlisted in the Army to protect and defend.

BROWN: Randy, you have handled cases like this before. The military has very strict rules and protocol to follow in these cases. You heard the colonel there. They say they have done that, they have followed those rules. What's the evidence that they haven't?

RANDAL MATHIS, ATTORNEY: Well, I haven't met with the colonel yet.

But with all due respect, I think they have not. Zachari has been complaining about these problems and the various things that have happened to him, which clearly amount to discrimination, for months and months now. And they have not been able to bring it to a stop.

And what hasn't been mentioned so far is that Zachari's had to move off the base and live in off-base housing in order to ensure his safety. Now, if the Army can't ensure the safety of one of its own soldiers simply because of its religion, something's wrong.

BROWN: So, Colonel, let me bring you back in here, because I know you were involved in the decision to move him off of the base, to move Specialist Klawonn off the base. Why was that decision made? JENKINS: Well, I brought into my office with his chain of command on the 1st of March to talk to him about the big concerns he had and the investigation that was going on, on the incident he alluded to at 2:00 in the morning.

And I wanted to see what he felt. I wanted to talk to him personally. And the first thing we talked about was services. He didn't feel comfortable with the services that were offered off-post. He felt that the imam was too radical. He was a little more conservative than that.

He actually worked on educating me some about his religious faith. And then I said, well, how -- what I can do to help make you feel safe? He said, I'm not sure. I said, well, let's pursue some options. Would you like another roommate? Would you like to move to another room? Would you feel better in another barracks? What about moving off-post? Do any of these appeal to you?

And he liked the option of moving off-post. And I said, OK, if that is what you want to do. And I worked to sort that process out. It takes a while, but we will start that immediately.

So, this was an option that we all talked about that he felt most comfortable about. If he wants to move back in the barracks, we will definitely find a place. And his safety is my number-one concern. I will make sure it happens. And I think we have made sure it has happened to this point.

BROWN: Specialist Klawonn, let me let you respond to that.

KLAWONN: The vibe that I got in that meeting when I was there on the 1st of March wasn't necessarily that it was my direct decision, but necessarily that my brigade commander was making a proposal for me to move off-base.

And as a lower-ranking guy, when a full bird colonel makes a proposal, you take that into consideration. I thought that was the general consensus of everybody in the room. That's really what I thought.

BROWN: But let me ask you to go a little more big-picture here, Zachari, because let's assume these smaller issues are worked out. What ultimately do you want to come out of this by filing this lawsuit?

KLAWONN: Again, I mean, there's a lot of things that come into it, but, ultimately, for the Army to take a good hard look at that moral compass and start using it. These are the constitutional rights and liberties that I got in the Army to defend and protect.

This is clear-cut religious and cultural discrimination that needs to be addressed.

BROWN: I thank each of you for your time tonight. Really appreciate you all three joining us. Thanks very much for being with us.

(CROSSTALK) MATHIS: Thank you for having us.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BROWN: Coming up; Does Specialist Klawonn have a case here? We're going to get reaction from a former JAG lawyer. And just how welcome are Muslim soldiers in the military? We will talk about that.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BROWN: We just heard from Army Specialist Zachari Klawonn, who says the military has failed to stop the repeated anti-Muslim against him. The allegations raise troubling questions at the worst time. Muslim recruits are sorely needed to fight wars in two Islamic countries.

We got reaction to all this from former Army JAG Thomas Kenniff, and Michael Weinstein, founder and president of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation.

Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BROWN: So, Tom, let me start with you here.

According to Specialist Klawonn, he has been a victim of persistent harassment while he's been in the Army. And you're a military attorney. Does he have a case, in your view, against the Army?

THOMAS KENNIFF, FORMER ARMY JAG OFFICE ATTORNEY: Well, Campbell, it's difficult to answer that question without knowing all the facts.

One thing that concerns me, though, is what I see as somewhat of a lack of specificity in the allegations made by Specialist Klawonn. For instance, he cites numerous cases of harassment. What I would like to know is, does he have the names of the soldiers who are harassing him? Was it reported? Did he name names? Was there an investigation?

Because the type of conduct that he at least alleges in some of the complaints, I mean, the destruction of his Koran, the threatening note left on his door or on his truck, I mean, that would certainly give rise, if not to full-blown criminal conduct within the military, then to non-judicial punishment.

BROWN: So, Michael, it's not exactly in the Army's interest here to have soldiers being harassed. So, I mean, what possible motivation, I guess, do they have to not act to protect their soldiers?

MICHAEL WEINSTEIN, MILITARY RELIGIOUS FREEDOM FOUNDATION: Well, I think part of the problem is, is that there is such a tremendous inherent bias against Muslim-Americans in the military.

We see it every day with the Military Religious Freedom Foundation. For instance, at some military installations, when you walk into the military clothing store, the only books that they're selling, religious books, are the camouflage Bible and then another book called "The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam," which is an absolute slam on the entire faith.

BROWN: So -- so...

WEINSTEIN: When you hear -- wait. Let me just say one other thing.

BROWN: Yes.

WEINSTEIN: When you hear soldiers running in formation, they're often -- they will have marching chants or running chants. They will use the word hajji, which is a -- as negative to a Muslim-American as the N-word is to an African-American or the K-word to a Jewish-American or an S-word to an Hispanic-American.

And it's done with reckless and complete, total abandon. And fish in an aquarium never see the water.

BROWN: So, let me ask you both this question. And here's the challenge, is, during a time when we are fighting two wars in Muslim countries and when we face a threat of Islamic terrorism, how much can the Army really do to control what soldiers think of Muslims or Islam?

Tom, you answer first.

KENNIFF: Yes, I think that's a great question, Campbell. It is also one of the concerns that I had with Mikey's client's lawsuit, because a lot of the allegations seem to rail against a hostile culture within the military.

And, look, I don't doubt for one second -- in fact, I can speak firsthand to the fact that that does exist in certain instances with respect to Muslim-Americans within the military. I would hope that it's the exception and not the rule. And I know Mikey may have a different take on that.

But it's very difficult in the context of a discrimination lawsuit, which is what I think this probably is.

WEINSTEIN: No.

KENNIFF: OK. Well, you can tell us what it will be, because I -- frankly, I haven't seen the complaint. I don't even know that it's filed yet.

WEINSTEIN: Right.

KENNIFF: But exactly what is the remedy that your client seeking? I mean, if it's a situation where there's hostility within the enlisted ranks or the officer ranks among fellow soldiers, that's one thing. If it's a situation where it's a top-down pattern of discrimination meant to oppress Muslim-American soldiers, then I think that is quite another.

BROWN: All right, Mikey?

WEINSTEIN: Well, and, Tom, let me be specific.

What we're looking at doing is filing a federal mandamus action. We believe that all of the internal regulations and instructions and laws within the Pentagon are already fine. They're just being ignored with impunity and there's no penalty for that.

(CROSSTALK)

BROWN: But, again, go back to the question of how you get the military to address this, given the world that these soldiers are living in.

WEINSTEIN: Let me make it very clear. You never get anybody to change their minds, Campbell, because they suddenly see the light. They have to feel the heat.

We need leaders that will impose the laws that currently exist. This is old-school prejudice, old-school discrimination, old-school bigotry and it cannot be allowed.

(CROSSTALK)

BROWN: Gentlemen, we are going to have to leave it there.

Tom Kenniff and Mikey Weinstein, I do appreciate both of you joining us tonight. Really interesting conversation. Thanks so much.

KENNIFF: Thanks, Campbell.

WEINSTEIN: Thank you very, very much.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BROWN: Just ahead, just how angry are American voters? We're going to get some real answers in a series of must-watch elections tomorrow. But we're live from the battlegrounds tonight.

And up next, the latest fix in the Gulf does seem to be working. But scientists tell CNN there is a new threat to worry about. And that is coming up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BROWN: Our number-one national story: the Gulf oil spill. We're learning new details about the night that the rig exploded, killing 11 men and setting off an environmental disaster.

One of the last crew members to escape told "60 Minutes" the dramatic story of how he made it out alive. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "60 MINUTES")

MIKE WILLIAMS, ENGINEER, DEEPWATER HORIZON: I made those three steps and I pushed off into the rig. And I fell for what seemed like forever. I could tell I was floating in oil and grease and diesel fuel, I mean, just the smell. And I remember looking under the rig and seeing the water on fire. And I thought, what you have done? You were dry, and you weren't covered in oil up there. Now you have jumped and you have made this and you have landed in oil.

The fire is going to come across the water, and you're going to burn up. And I thought, you have just got to swim harder. So, I swam and I kicked and I swam and I kicked and I swam as hard as I could, until I remember not feeling any more pain.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BROWN: Williams also says a BP manager had ordered workers to drill faster and that there were several mishaps in the weeks before the rig exploded.

It has been nearly a month now since the disaster, which today claimed its first political casualty. The administration's top oil and gas official will step down at the end of June. Also confirmed tonight, the White House will launch a presidential commission to investigate the spill.

Meanwhile, two new threats in the Gulf. Scientists are warning CNN of large plumes of oil under the water. And there are new fears tonight that oil is finding its way into what is called the loop current and will reach the Florida Keys in a matter of days.

But there is some good news as well. BP's latest fix, a mile-long tube siphoning oil from the well into a tanker, does seem to be working.

Joining us from Los Angeles to talk about these very latest developments is the author of "Big Blue Ocean," science educator Bill Nye, AKA, Bill Nye, The Science Guy.

Hey, Bill.

So, what is happening underwater that we can't see? Explain to us what is going on. Scientists are now talking about these huge plumes of oil. One could be as large as 20 miles long?

BILL NYE, THE SCIENCE GUY: I should imagine at least, Yes. There's been a discrepancy for several days.

The satellite data estimated 5,000 barrels a day were leaking from this thing. Then this very compelling study from Purdue said there were 70,000 barrels of oil a day. Well, apparently, that difference is ending up in this layer that is neither floating nor sinking. It's about 1,500 feet above the ocean floor.

And it's a layer of goo between the bottom and the top. So, any wildlife, fish and so on, that would swim up or down are not going to be able to do that.

BROWN: Trapped, essentially. NYE: Yes.

BROWN: So, let me ask you about the loop current. You know, we're hearing it could carry the oil now to the Everglades, the Florida Keys, up the East Coast even.

NYE: Absolutely.

BROWN: How far, how fast are we going to see this oil move? Do we know?

NYE: Well, the loop current, my understanding, this time of year goes about four knots, four nautical miles an hour. So, in a matter of days, it will end up in Florida. It is part of the greater system that we generally call the Gulf Stream, apparently stumbled on by Christopher Columbus and documented by Benjamin Franklin.

Anyway, it's a clockwise flow in the North Atlantic. And this is another clockwise flow in the Gulf Stream. So, it's going to carry water and oil and whatever else is in it from the west to the east right up against the Florida Coast, through the Florida Strait between Florida and Cuba, and then up the -- somewhat up the East Coast of the United States.

BROWN: And we have been hearing as high as North Carolina. Does that sound right?

NYE: Very reasonable, yes, very reasonable.

And it seems to me there's no stopping it. It will end up -- I'm not kidding -- it will end up in Britain eventually, because it's oil. It doesn't dissolve very quickly.

BROWN: And once it gets in that current, I guess there's no way to stop it or get it out of the current or...

NYE: Well, I'm speculating. I used to work on oil slick skimming boats. And we used polypropylene foam to capture oil.

Oil just sticks to it. It is a little surprising, kind of weird. And I'm imagining, if you had enough of this material or something more advanced, you would be able to capture it the way you catch -- capture small fish in nets.

But this is an extraordinary effort. The thing is enormous, 20 nautical miles one way, maybe five or 10 the other way. It's a big thing. And I don't think it's getting any smaller. I mean, they're capturing some oil with this small pipe inserted in the large pipe. But they're not capturing all the oil. It is still leaking.

BROWN: Well, that's what I was going to say. Does this supposed good news, very quickly here, have you encouraged at all that they are at least capturing some of it at this stage?

NYE: Well, I'm not only encouraged that they're capturing it. I, as an engineer, am encouraged that one of the ideas is really working. They have been trying a lot of things in a very logical order.

Well, this one is a difficult business, and they did it. They were able to poke a pipe into a pipe on the bottom of the ocean, even though it's coming out at 150-plus atmospheres of pressure and it is salty and corrosive and you can't see what you are doing, and they were able to pull this off. So, this is a very good sign.

BROWN: All right, Bill Nye with us tonight -- Bill, thank you so much. Appreciate it.

And just ahead, we're going to be live in Pennsylvania and Kentucky, where two hard-fought Senate races hold valuable clues about the November midterms. Voters decide tomorrow. We're going to tell you what to look for tonight.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BROWN: Our top political story tonight: a moment of unintended irony at the White House.

Today, President Obama signed the Daniel Pearl Freedom of the Press Act, which expands the federal government's role in monitoring free press around the world. But then he refused to answer any questions from reporters.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The loss of Daniel Pearl was one of those moments that captured the world's imagination because it reminded us of how valuable a free press is, and it reminded us that there are those who would go to any length in order to silence journalists around the world.

QUESTION: Speaking of press freedom...

(CROSSTALK)

OBAMA: You're certainly free to ask them.

(LAUGHTER)

QUESTION: Will you answer them?

(CROSSTALK)

OBAMA: We won't be answering. I'm not doing a press conference today.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BROWN: The president says he will take questions from reporters later in the week.

Just hours from now, voters are going to be casting ballots in a series of closely watched primary races that could give us a real sense of what to expect in November, the two biggest contests, the Republican Senate primary in Kentucky. Republican establishment candidate Trey Grayson, once considered a shoe-in, is trailing tea party favorite Rand Paul. In Pennsylvania also, the Democratic primary pits five-term incumbent Senator Arlen Specter in the fight of his political life against Congressman Joe Sestak.

And joining me right now is chief political correspondent Candy Crowley who is in Philadelphia. Also, national political correspondent Jessica Yellin in Bowling Green, Kentucky. And here with me in the studio is "Time" magazine senior political analyst Mark Halperin.

Candy, let me start with you. A new Quinnipiac poll finds Sestak and Specter in a 42-41 statistical tie. You're out in Pennsylvania. Give us the pulse of the race. Who's got the edge here?

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Hard to know who has the edge, but the momentum has been on Sestak's side simply because he started out nowhere against Senator Specter and has come up, obviously, to pull even with him. In that Quinnipiac poll, I would look at that 16 percent which is pretty high of undecideds on the eve of the election.

Generally, undecideds will break for the newcomer. And although Sestak isn't exactly a pure newcomer, he's been in Washington for four years, certainly compared to Specter, it would seem that those undecideds would fall his way. Adding on to the kind of what's going to happen question mark is the fact that about 25 percent of the people that had chosen sides in that Quinnipiac poll said they could change their minds. So the fact that Arlen Specter has switched from Republican to Democrat still weighs very heavily on voters minds here.

BROWN: Well, that's what I'm going to ask because of those sort of special circumstances, could this be a case, I guess, if Specter were to lose is that Democrats sort of aren't yet willing to accept him as one of their own. It was only a year ago, right?

CROWLEY: It was only a year ago. I think it's a matter of trust. Sestak has put out an ad that's been quite successful, almost looping through the TV stations here talking about the switch, tying him to George Bush. So that certainly has hurt him. It's not a clean race in the sense that there's one thing. Because obviously also Specter is on the wrong side of the incumbent issue. He's been in Washington for 30 years as a senator. But the party switch is also in there. So there's a couple things going on. The one thing I can tell you for sure is that the race has been about Arlen Specter because a recent poll also showed that 52 percent of Pennsylvanians didn't know enough about Sestak to even say whether they had a favorable opinion of him. So this has been purely about Arlen Specter.

BROWN: So take this a little more big picture. The White House has been backing him. If he does lose, what would it mean for the White House, for Democrats more generally?

MARK HALPERIN, "TIME" MAGAZINE: Well, the White House got Specter to switch parties by pledging not just cooperation but to try to clear the field for him. They hoped that he would be able to run unopposed for the Democratic nomination. The president has backed candidates who have lost this year in other races and last year. They're downplaying their involvement now. And I think -- I know that there are some Democrats, including people who would advise the president, who believe that Sestak would, in fact, be a stronger candidate to keep the seat. That's what they care about. They don't really care --

BROWN: At the end of the day.

HALPERIN: They don't really care of Arlen Specter.

BROWN: They're not that loyal.

HALPERIN: They're not that loyal. And Specter is a problematic candidate. I think probably that preponderance of evidence suggests Sestak would be stronger. You don't see the president going into Pennsylvania today or tomorrow to try to save Specter. Again, I think the White House believes Specter will lose and they're not all that broken up about it.

BROWN: All right. Let me go to Jessica because you're covering the race where, who's who, I guess, of Republican Party leaders have lined up behind the candidate who's probably going to lose. What will this election tell us about the relationship between the tea party and the Republican establishment?

JESSICA YELLIN, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: That there's a new sheriff in town and that the Republican establishment better wake up and engage with the tea party. They can't just cast them aside or brush them aside and assume the voters will go their way.

One of the key things to take away from this race is that this is not -- neither candidate here is an incumbent. And so Rand Paul, who's the insurgent candidate, who is the tea party candidate is defeating handedly so far the leading opponent, Trey Grayson, who, as you say, has a who's who of Republican establishment people behind him. Not because Trey Grayson is an insider in Washington, but because he's seen as part of the establishment. And so the Republican Party has to assume that anybody is in jeopardy of that same of losing if they don't embrace some of the tea party's message --

BROWN: Right.

YELLIN: -- or at least take a time to engage them. And right now, Rand Paul is looking like not only will he win but it's just a question of by how much.

BROWN: But his critics say Markey (ph) is too extreme. He can't win a general election. Do they have a point?

HALPERIN: I think he might be -- actually he might be a decent general election candidate. He has captured just as Specter biographically as the long time incumbent. He is maybe the most out of touch person for this current environment.

Paul is an incredibly strong candidate, particularly within the Republican Party. But he's also a critic of the Republican Party. He says I'm going to go to Washington and be tough on both parties. That fits the mood of the electorate in Kentucky and a lot of other states perfectly. I think that he will quickly be embraced by the Republican establishment including by Mitch McConnell, the senior senator in Washington on the Republican side from Kentucky, who's backed Grayson but understands if Grayson loses, again, he wants to hold the seat.

BROWN: Right.

HALPERIN: Paul will be a nightmare for both parties if he comes to Washington because he will be marching into his own tune under Senate rules. He can do a lot of damage and hold up as one senator. Don't worry about that down the road. They want to hold the seat.

BROWN: All right, guys, we're going to leave it there. Mark Halperin, Candy and Jessica, a lot more on this, we should say, tomorrow night. Obviously we'll have all the results for you as well. Thanks, guys.

An uncomfortable question when we come back. Are your children racist? You may not like the answer. We have the results of a fascinating study right after this.

BROWN: Coming up, are your children color blind when it comes to race? Out of the mouths of babes, the surprising results of a test on racial attitudes. But first, here is Joe Johns with a look at some of the other stories we're following tonight -- Joe.

JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR CORRESPONDENT: Campbell, today, the Supreme Court ruled the government has the power to indefinitely keep sex offenders in prison after they have served their sentences. The law in question is the 2006 Adam Walsh Child Protective Safety Act which include the provision allowing indefinite imprisonment of child sex offenders. The act was named for the son of "America's Most Wanted" host John Walsh. The boy was killed by a suspected child molester in 1981.

The White House will establish a presidential commission to investigate the oil spill in the gulf. That comes as the administration announced its top oil and gas official will be stepping down at the end of the month. Meanwhile, that mile-long tube siphoning oil from the well into a tanker seems to be working. But today scientists tell CNN they have detected large plumes of oil under the water.

Starting at noon tomorrow, planes and British airspace can fly through higher densities of ash than currently allowed. That announcement comes as some of Europe's busiest airports reopen today after another ash cloud from the volcano in Iceland grounded flights overnight. Passengers still face major delays as airports try to clear the backlog of flights.

And a possible truce in Thailand. The Thai government says it will accept a cease-fire offer from Red Shirt protest leaders but only if the group's fighters in the street vows and return to their main camp in central Bangkok. In the last five days, at least 37 people have been killed in a series of clashes between the protesters and the army. And on top of all of that, we're hearing a lot of different countries are telling their people not to go to Thailand, Campbell.

BROWN: All right, Joe Johns for us tonight. Joe, we are staying on top of that story. When we come back, judging character by color. Is your child living in a black and white world? Take a look at this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Show me the dumb child.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Show me the good looking child.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BROWN: Anderson Cooper is going to join us with a look at what your child may be thinking when it comes to race.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BROWN: Our top buzz story tonight, the crowning of the very first Muslim Miss USA. Her name is Rima Fakih and she is a Lebanese immigrant who lives in Dearborn, Michigan.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The first runner up is Oklahoma, which means Miss USA 2010 is Michigan.

WHOOPI GOLDBERG, HOST, "THE VIEW": I notice that I haven't heard anybody freaking out about Miss USA's background.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But it's a scholarship program. No, no, Miss America was a scholarship program. This is simply a beauty contest.

JOY BEHAR, HOST, "THE VIEW": This girl is Muslim and Christian mixed together.

GOLDBERG: But it seems they just sort of grooving at the fact that she's a stunningly beautiful girl. And she is Miss USA. But maybe, you know, beauty trumps all.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That's true when it comes to beautiful (ph).

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BROWN: And, of course, Miss USA in controversy tend to go hand in hand. Even before the tiara was off of Fakih's head, the Internet was abuzz with pictures of her on a stripper pole. Apparently, she won a pole dancing contest back in 2007. No reaction yet from pageant officials.

"LARRY KING LIVE" starts in a few minutes. Larry, what do you have for us tonight?

LARRY KING, HOST, "LARRY KING LIVE": That pageant. Do you have a cell phone pressed to your head morning, noon, night? Know somebody who does? Our guests are going to tell us if there is a link between cell phones and cancer. A new 10-year study reveals some interesting findings and is generating some debate. Next on "LARRY KING LIVE," Campbell.

BROWN: All right, Larry. We'll see you in just a few minutes.

Now we want to tell you about a fascinating "AC 360" "series. What your children think about race may actually surprise you. CNN conducted a study on children's racial beliefs, attitudes and preferences, and Anderson Cooper is here with more on that.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR, "AC 360": Yes, Campbell, you know, it was fascinating. We commissioned a team of psychologists to do an extensive study and the psychologists interviewed more than 130 kids in eight different schools around the country. Showed them a range of pictures of identical dolls but just with varying skin colors and would ask them questions. Now, what we found is that white kids had what researchers call a white bias, preferring their own skin color and giving negative attributes to darker dolls. Take a look.

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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Show me the dumb child.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Dumb child?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK. Why is she the dumb child?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Because she has black skin.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK. Show me the bad child. Why is he the bad child?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because he's really dark.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Show me the dumb child. Why is she the dumb child?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Because she looks black, black.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Show me the good child. Why is she the good child?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Because she looks whiter.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Show me the child you would like to have as a classmate. Why you would like to have him as a classmate?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because he's white.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Show me the child who has the skin color most adults like. And show me the child who has the skin color most adults don't like.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BROWN: So this is fascinating and also terrifying in many ways.

COOPER: Yes.

BROWN: But tell us what, when you ask the black children the same question, what kind of response do you get?

COOPER: Yes. The speed with which the kids answered the question I found particularly fascinating. And there are a lot of reasons why kids would give these kind of different answers. And we're going to have more of that tonight on "360." But with African-American kids, we found they also had a white bias, often picking darker shades with negative attributes but much less so than the white students. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Show me the ugly child. And why is she the ugly child?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Because she's black.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Show me the good looking child. And why is she the good looking child?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Because she's light skinned.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And show me the skin color you believe most teachers think looks bad on a girl.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't think it matters.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You don't think it matters.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Like it doesn't matter what you look like on the outside. It matters what you look like on the inside.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can you show me the child that has your skin color.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Show me the child that has the skin color you want.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I want that one.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK. Show me the child who has the skin color you don't want.

Show me the child you would like as a classmate.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All of them.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You like all of them as classmates? Why do you say all of them?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because I don't really care what color they have.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BROWN: Some of the answers made you feel good like, you know --

COOPER: Yes.

BROWN: Like some of the parents are getting it right, I guess.

COOPER: Right.

BROWN: I guess you have to assume the parents are responsible. But I know you've got a lot more on this tonight. What are you focusing on tonight?

COOPER: We're looking at sort of why some of the kids would have given these answers. And you know you talk about the parents. But I mean there are so many influences on kids, friends, media, what they see in pop culture. And we're looking at what parents can do about how to influence their kids' behavior and their kids' perceptions of race.

BROWN: And we'll be watching. Again, that's coming up tonight. One of a kind "AC 360" series" 10:00 Eastern Time. Anderson, thanks very much.

Race is just one issue that parents and kids need to talk about, but here's something else. Do children enter the world already equipped with moral judgment? We're going to talk about that when we come back.

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BROWN: We just heard about how young children process complex moral issues like race. But what about babies? Sure, they're cute and cuddly. But a new study shows babies are also amazingly perceptive.

At Yale University, a group of pioneering researchers is exploring the moral lives of babies. They have found that babies gravitate towards what is good and can actually understand and in some ways how people think. All this even before they know how to talk. It's a new frontier of psychology and Po Bronson, the author of "Nurture Shock," a great book that talks about a lot of these issues is joining us right now to explain this a little bit.

And, Po, first, there's a big debate going on right now about whether kids are essentially born with moral values, that their brains are wired that way. To start, tell me where you come down on that.

PO BRONSON, AUTHOR, "NURTURE SHOCK": I think that the moral fiber and brain fiber are linked together. But what we see cross culturally is that while we all agree on fairness and we all agree when things are wrong, we disagree with how to punish those who break the rules. And I think that's far more cultural. And what we see from the studies with kids is, look, Campbell, when they're 6 months old, 9 months old, they'll prefer friendly people. When they're 2 years old, they know the difference between being accident (ph) on purpose. When they're 5 years old, they're obsessed with fairness. If you cut a slice of birthday cake a tiny bit off, you know, they get freaked out. But that doesn't mean that they're completely moral beings just as the story on race that Anderson Cooper is covering tonight is touching on.

BROWN: So you've been studying this issue, morality in children for the past four years. And I think the big challenge here is to know what to do as a parent because we all want to raise responsible kids. But there's a limit I guess on what we should actually teach them and what we should let them figure out on their own, right?

BRONSON: Right. Because the world isn't always fair. And the kids have to learn either to get comfortable with that over time. You know, a lot of studies show that parents are jumping into the sandbox to prevent kids from ever experiencing anything unfair rather than letting to learn to work through how to handle the fact that not everybody else is always fair to them.

BROWN: And I mean, we can dilute ourselves as parents, I think, into thinking that our kids are more wonderful.

BRONSON: Right.

BROWN: And they can actually be pretty nasty. And that is actually part of their early moral development process.

BRONSON: It's natural. There's a phenomenon called the happy victimizer effect. So if you were to show 3-year-olds a picture of one boy pushing another boy off the swing, and you ask another child, what does it feel like to be pushed off the swing? Oh, very sad. But what does it feel like to push someone else off the swing? Like, oh, makes me happy. I like it. They really like it very much. And they begin by the age of 3 to have established the connection between dominance and pleasure and social reward.

BROWN: Educators and tell me if I just read this, actually -- tell me if this right -- track aggressive behavior in children and it means different things depending on when it occurs during the year? Explain that.

BRONSON: Oh, absolutely right. Yes. Well, even in 3-year-old preschool classrooms. September is a time when the mean girls, the very busy kids, socially busy kids use both aggressive behavior and pro-social behavior to establish their dominance. By October, that will start dropping off. And then they'll be very sweet in repairing the relationships from November to December, January, February. After spring break, it starts all over again and they have to sort of reestablish their dominance.

BROWN: And very quickly if you can, what about age? I know you kind of touched on this. At what point is a child really able to make these moral calls on their own?

BRONSON: You know, on their own, even the Supreme Court today came down 6-3 on teens are not culpable for life in prison. They don't understand those consequences unless murder is associated with the crime. So it's very much a gradual developmental spectrum. I don't think we should be saying our infants are fully born with morality. That's for sure.

BROWN: This is so interesting. I could talk about this for hours. It's my favorite subject, you know. Po Bronson, his book is called "Nurture Shock". It's a really great read.

Po, thank you as always. Appreciate it.

BRONSON: Thank you, Campbell.

"LARRY KING LIVE" starts in just a few minutes. But coming up next, tonight's "Punch Line." Here's a little taste.

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SETH MEYERS, "SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE": A congressional committee on Tuesday heard testimony regarding the Gulf of Mexico oil spill from executives representing BP, Transocean and Halliburton or as they're also known, hear no evil, see no evil and evil.

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BROWN: And time now for "The Punch Line," our nightly roundup of the best in late night. Tonight, Letterman, Leno and "SNL"'s Seth Meyers sound off on all the news that's fit to laugh at.

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DAVID LETTERMAN, HOST, "LATE SHOW WITH DAVID LETTERMAN": Welcome to New York City, the city that never sleeps. Why? Why does the city never sleep? Two words -- suspicious packages.

SETH MEYERS, "SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE": President Obama on Monday announced that his Supreme Court nominee would be Elena Kagan who, if confirmed, will be the third New Yorker on the court. Nothing wrong with that. The real trouble doesn't start until you have five New Yorkers on the court.

JAY LENO, HOST, "THE JAY LENO SHOW": Phoenix, Arizona, is getting its first ever Hispanic bishop. He'll be appointed July 19th and then deported July 20th.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We've made several attempts to contain the spill. An early plan was called the top hat. That's where we tried to cover the leak with a large containment tank. Then we tried something involving a giant tube. This plan was dear to my heart because it was a suggestion of my 5-year-old daughter.

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BROWN: And that's it for us. "LARRY KING LIVE" starts right now.