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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Gun Control Debate; AIG Suing Government?
Aired January 8, 2013 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, everyone. It's 10:00 here on the East Coast.
And on a big day, in a big week in the debate over gun control, we begin with a very low-profile gun law already on the books, a law that you probably don't even know about that is hidden in a very surprising place.
Now, we think you need to know about it because critics say this law damages our ability to truly know, using serious science, the impact that guns have on public health and public safety, impeding research on gun safety, preventing doctors even from talking to patients about the potential health risks that come with gun ownership.
Now, advocates of the law say it protects the rights of gun owners. You can decide for yourself. As we reported last week ,the National Rifle Association somehow managed to put this stealth legislation into President Obama's health care reform bill. The question is how did they do it, and why, and why, whatever you think of a law, one of the president's top allies, a Democrat, actually helped the NRA get it passed.
No surprise there's a big dose of politics involved in all this.
Jim Acosta is "Keeping Them Honest."
JIM ACOSTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): When President Obama signed national health care reform into law, few in Washington knew that buried in the legislation's more than 900 pages was a gift to the nation's powerful gun lobby. But here it is, a provision entitled Protection of Second Amendment Rights.
It states the government and health insurers cannot collect any information relating to the lawful ownership or possession of a firearm or ammunition. The provision was such a secret, "The Washington Post" reports that some people in the White House didn't even know it existed, despite being in the president's signature legislation.
Health care advocate Joan Alker did notice it and has a hunch where it came from.
(on camera): And so how do you think this got in there? JOAN ALKER, GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY: I don't know, but I'm assuming the NRA put it in at the last minute.
ACOSTA (voice-over): So who put it in there? It might surprise you to learn it was this man, the most powerful Democrat in Congress, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. But why? A Democratic source close to the passage of the health care law tells CNN: "This is what was viewed as a relatively benign way to make sure the National Rifle Association didn't get involved with this."
Reid has been a top advocate of gun rights for years. In fact, just days after the health care law was signed, Reid invited Wayne LaPierre, a top official at the NRA, to the opening of this Nevada weapons range.
SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV), MAJORITY LEADER: People who criticize this probably would criticize baseball.
ACOSTA: LaPierre's visit was a big boost for Reid, who was courting gun owners in his very pro-Second Amendment state of Nevada in a tough battle for reelection.
WAYNE LAPIERRE, EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT, NATIONAL RIFLE ASSOCIATION: I also want to thank you, Senator, for your support every day at the federal level for the Second Amendment and for the rights of American gun owners.
ACOSTA: Both Reid and the NRA declined to talk to CNN on camera, but Democratic sources on Capitol Hill say the NRA was not the only threat to the president's health care bill. Lawmakers were also worried about conspiracy theories circulating among gun enthusiasts that falsely accused the Obama administration of plotting to use the health care law to go after gun owners.
One group, the Gun Owners of America, insists it could still happen.
LARRY PRATT, GUN OWNERS OF AMERICA: It says that all of our medical records are available to be pawed through by bureaucrats somewhere in Washington looking for a reason to disenfranchise gun owners.
ACOSTA: As for Reid, his staff told us today: "The Senate majority leader's views on gun control are changing. He's in a different place than he was in 2010," says an adviser. Consider how Reid answered the question after the July movie theater massacre in Colorado.
REID: With the schedule that we have, we're not going to get into a debate on gun control.
ACOSTA: And how he responded after the killings in Newtown.
REID: We need to accept the reality that we're not doing enough to protect our citizens.
COOPER: Jim Acosta joins us now, along with 360 M.D. Sanjay Gupta.
Jim, a majority of both houses of Congress supported Obamacare. The administration spent years working to make it a reality. How was it possible that this was a surprise to the people who introduced the bill and the people who voted for it?
ACOSTA: Well, Anderson, I have to tell you I talked to a number of congressional sources, sources over at the White House, advocacy groups. And I would have to say, some of them did know about this before it was passed, but they say it came very late in the game.
Here's the situation with the passage of the health care law. Essentially, any part of this bill, had it been pulled out in the last stages of the legislative process could have brought the whole thing down. So whether it was this gun control part, if that had been pulled out, I have been told by a couple of Democratic sources, you know, some moderate Democratic senators could have walked away from this bill at the last second.
And so they were just very, very afraid that any provision, had it been yanked out at the last second, could have brought the whole thing down.
COOPER: And, Sanjay, the provisions that were slipped in, what will they impact medically speaking?
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: I read through this pretty carefully. It's a pretty small provision. Just five lines, really.
It does not specifically forbid as part of the Affordable Care Act, from doctors, forbid them for asking their patients about guns. What it sort of prohibits is them from collecting that information, documenting it, and using it for the purposes of research. That's the real concern here or for the purposes of wellness programs. This whole idea that you try and do things within your own home and within your life to be safer, and collecting this information about guns could not be part of this.
The NRA says, that information could be used to discriminate against people in terms of their insurance premiums. People who want to have these conversations say, this is what you need to do to create more safety around this.
COOPER: And, Jim, has Harry Reid really shifted on gun control, or is this just a convenient position for him right now?
ACOSTA: We will have to find out, Anderson. You will recall after the Aurora shooting, he came out and talked to reporters and said, there just wasn't any time in the legislative calendar to deal with gun control.
His office now says he has changed on that, he has changed on the issue of gun control. He made some pretty heartfelt comments on the floor of the Senate after the Newtown tragedy. So it just now remains to be seen. Keep in mind, Anderson, there is a lot on the plate for Congress right now. They have not only those spending cuts that were delayed as part of the fiscal cliff. They have the debt ceiling to deal with and now these nominations of Chuck Hagel and John Brennan over to the Defense Department and CIA.
So now it is a question of how much time they have, but now I think a lot of people will be watching, does Harry Reid make that time?
COOPER: Sanjay, some states though are taking this one step further, proposing state laws that actually would make it criminal for a doctor like yourself to ask a patient. You could actually lose your medical license for asking, is that correct?
GUPTA: Yes, and I will tell you it was even more than that in the original version of the bill down in Florida, for example. And there are seven other states like this. The original version was that you could impose jail time for simply asking.
So a physician asking a patient about guns could land them in jail, according to the original version. There was a scaled-back version that was subsequently put forward, that you could still lose your medical license, you could get financial penalties. That was subsequently overturned by a federal judge, but it's being appealed.
So, yes, it could be even a step further in some of these states, even a step further than what's in the Affordable Care Act.
COOPER: Why would -- Sanjay, what would an example be of why a doctor would ask a patient about owning a gun?
GUPTA: I think the big thing here is they're not that it's anti- guns, or trying to get rid of guns. They're trying to figure out what the safety protocol should be.
I will give you an example, Anderson. I went to the doctor a couple months of ago, I go every year, and they ask me about all sorts of things, knowing that I have small children in the house, smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors, swimming pools. And they did ask me about guns as well.
It's a question of thinking about this from a public health perspective. Let me just share some numbers with you, Anderson. I know we talked about this before, but if you look over a two-year period, for example, what you come to find is that for children between the ages of 5 to 14, it is guns that are the third leading cause of death.
Some 5,000 deaths over that time period, 5,740 deaths, you can see there. And look at the number of injuries as well, close to 35,000, 34,387. This is the vantage point from which doctors and health care professionals are speaking.
COOPER: What's interesting, Jim, on the legal -- on the policy side, this is not the first time, Jim, we have seen the NRA have friendly positions -- provisions slipped into health care bills.
ACOSTA: That's right. This has happened before. And that's why it's interesting to see Harry Reid having been part of this, because the natural inclination of a lot of people is to think that, well, this is really just the Republicans who have been cozying up to the NRA for years.
I have to tell you, Anderson, I interviewed Howard Dean way back in 2004 when he was running for president, and at that time, he was talking about how he was a pro-gun rights Democrat, a different kind of Democrat. And this has really changed and evolved over time for the Democratic Party. They are not the party of the assault weapons ban of the Clinton administration.
They have become very, very close to the National Rifle Association. And now I think they're having some soul-searching over that.
COOPER: Interesting. Sanjay, Jim, thanks very much.
ACOSTA: You bet.
COOPER: Let us know what you think about this law, if you knew about it. Follow me on Twitter @AndersonCooper. I'm tweeting about it tonight.
Up next, Gabby Giffords' new message on guns and how she plans to put the heat on her old colleagues. Also, what can they actually accomplish, the "Raw Politics" of that, the forces at play -- when we come back.
COOPER: As we said at the very top of the program, this is a very big moment in the debate over how to prevent the next gun tragedy. There will soon be talks in Washington, town hall meetings across the country.
By the end of the month, a panel headed by Vice President Biden will recommend action. Today, a former top military commander, retried General Stanley McChrystal, said that military-style weapons don't belong in civilian hands. The accused Aurora, Colorado, killer, who allegedly used such a weapon to kill 12 people, he was in court today.
And for a few minutes today in Tucson, Arizona, the only noise to be heard was the sound of sadness. A bell rang out, marking two years to the minute since the killings there. Well, today, the best-known survivor, former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords, took steps that she believes will prevents new bloodshed, or she hopes certainly, she and her husband, Mark Kelly, launching a political action committee, setting up a Web site designed they say to encourage lawmakers to stop gun violence, while protecting responsible gun ownership.
They spoke tonight on "ABC World News" about the pressing need to act. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARK KELLY, HUSBAND OF GABRIELLE GIFFORDS: How did we get to the point where 85 percent of the children in the world that are killed with guns are killed in the United States? That is a sobering statistic, 85 percent.
DIANE SAWYER, ABC NEWS: So that's what changed for you?
GABRIELLE GIFFORDS (D), FORMER U.S. CONGRESSWOMAN: Yes.
SAWYER: You told me before, when I said, are you angry, you said, no. It's life. Do you still feel that way?
KELLY: Do you get angry sometimes?
GIFFORDS: Yes, yes, yes. It's complicated.
SAWYER: When it can happen to children in a classroom, it's time to say...
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Gabby Giffords was obviously one of the fortunate ones. She survived. Six others died, including a 9-year-old girl named Christina Taylor Green, who had come to hear the congresswoman speak.
Christina, you see, was a budding politician herself. She had just been elected to the student council. Two years later, in the wake of the Newtown, Connecticut, killings, her mom, Roxanna, is lending her voice to a campaign called Demand a Plan to End Gun Violence.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROXANNA GREEN, MOTHER OF MURDER VICTIM: Twenty heartbroken families lost a child in the Sandy Hook school shooting. I know how much it hurts.
My 9-year-old daughter was murdered in the Tucson shooting. I have one question for our political leaders. When will you find the courage to stand up to the gun lobby?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: That's not all Roxanna Green has to say. I spoke to her earlier tonight.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Roxanna, you appear in a new ad FOR Mayors Against Illegal Guns, in which you say, I have one question for political leaders, when will you find the courage to stand up to the gun lobby?
Do you believe that the time has come, that political leaders are ready to stand up?
I am very confident that our leaders in Washington are going to do something. They already are. President Obama and Vice President Biden are already -- have already formed a committee, and I'm very confident they will come up with a solution right away.
COOPER: And to be clear, you and your husband both own guns. Your husband's a hunter. So you're not against gun ownership, correct?
GREEN: Oh, absolutely not. We believe strongly in the Second Amendment. We are both gun owners.
My husband and his whole family hunt. We just want to make sure that illegal guns don't get in the hands of dangerous people.
COOPER: So in a perfect world, what would a plan be that you would support?
GREEN: Well, I would support a plan where drug trafficking is a federal crime, where assault military-style weapons and big capacity magazines are banned like they were in 1994.
Also, I think every gun that's purchased in this country should be required to have a background check. I think that's the most important one.
COOPER: A criminal background check?
COOPER: How much of this is informed by your own loss? You wrote a book called "As Good as She Imagined" and you honored your daughter. You started a foundation in her name. Is your push for change in gun laws another way to keep your daughter's legacy alive?
I want to make sure that Christina Taylor didn't die in vain, the other five people in Tucson didn't die in vain. The thousands and thousands of people, over 5,000 people every year in the United States, I want to make sure none of them, none of the innocent people die in vain. I will continue with my work with Mayor Against Illegal Weapons and DemandAPlan.org for as long as it takes. If it takes a lifetime, so be it.
I really don't think it's going to take that much longer, because I think everyone in this country has been really saddened and hurt and touched by what happened in Newtown, and I think people are ready to act right now. COOPER: And to those who say, you know, look, this is -- gun ownership is enshrined in the Constitution, the Second Amendment, and no limitations on guns are acceptable or current gun laws just need to be enforced more?
GREEN: I think it's a little bit ridiculous. I don't know a lot of people that drive around in a tank or have a tank at their house.
There's no reason why they need to have military-style assault weapons that were basically designed to kill people quickly, massive amounts of people quickly. I don't think people need to own those. I don't believe they belong in their homes or basements. That's just my personal opinion.
COOPER: Roxanna, I appreciate you being on. Thank you.
GREEN: Thank you very much.
COOPER: Well, let's talk about the "Raw Politics" of actually getting something done. Is it possible?
The fact that no one can agree on what to do, that doesn't help. There's also the timing, this all happening with Congress knee-deep in the budget mess. Recently, a senior White House official told BuzzFeed that Congress' -- quote -- "limited bandwidth" why doing things at once would be a challenge.
Let's talk about it with Republican consultant Margaret Hoover, and on the left "New York Times" columnist Charles Blow.
Charles, what about this, the idea that Congress can't do things, can't walk and chew gum at the same time and they're focused on the budget and they have limited bandwidth? Do you think anything really can get done?
CHARLES BLOW, COLUMNIST, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": I think there is limited bandwidth, that's true, but I think there's energy for this at this point.
And I think if you are going to do something, this is one of the moments where you have to do it. I think you do in a political way have to think about strike when the iron is hot. And the iron is hot now. And what we have had in this country for the longest period of time, years, is a one-sided conversation, which is the gun rights advocates have dwarfed the gun control advocates in terms of spending, both in terms of lobbying, and in terms of campaign financing.
So you have had just one side talking and the other side being quiet, because they were kind of afraid that if they came out and said something about gun control, in any way, that they would be attacked. And so now you are at least having a conversation where both sides are speaking. And that means that this is a moment where you can actually get something done. COOPER: But, Margaret, you have a lot of members of Congress from conservative districts. Look at Harry Reid, who was out there with Wayne LaPierre from the NRA. Isn't that ultimately the bottom line? These guys wants to get -- and men and women want to get reelected?
MARGARET HOOVER, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Well, people want to get reelected, but also think about the countervailing forces here.
The truth of the matter is, the NRA, for being a powerful lobby, is a lobby that represents 4.2 million gun owners. It represents actually a grassroots movement. The truth is, American like their Second Amendment, they like their guns. So they're actually representing the will of the people. It's not just gun makers that are there. It's actual people who own guns...
COOPER: But there's a lot more hunters and people who actually own guns than there are members of the NRA.
BLOW: Right. And you can't disconnect the interest of the gun makers from the NRA. Gun makers, if you look at the stocks of gun makers, through the roof just in one year. And, in fact, every time there is a major shooting, gun sales in that area and, to a lesser degree, nationwide, again, go through the roof.
HOOVER: Yes, but the reason they go through the roof, Charles, is because people are afraid that then gun legislation is going to get passed and people are going to come take away their guns.
BLOW: Exactly. And the NRA fans those flames.
And the NRA, they can try to pitch themselves into grassroots, as you say. And I think that that's probably the best way to sell themselves. I don't think that's accurate.
BLOW: I think the NRA is basically a front for gun makers.
HOOVER: No. No.
BLOW: And I think the NRA, basically -- that the NRA, basically, it advocates -- are advocates for gun makers.
If you were just worried about people who wanted the own guns, right, so that means you want to hunt, you want to protect yourself, there are a lot of things that you could do short of saying or advocating for not being able to trace weapons. There's a lot of things you could do instead of advocating for never being able to -- a doctor to ask, as you said in your first segment, ask a patient, do you have guns in your home? Those things are not necessarily about taking anybody gun's away. Those things are just about making sure that a responsible person buys.
COOPER: But, Charles, to push back on that, if you are head of an advocacy group, your job is to stop any incursion on your power base at all, whether it's a small thing or not.
HOOVER: And we can also talk about, in sheer dollars, the NRA spent $10 million in the last election, in the 2012 election cycle. Mayor Bloomberg spent $13 million in the last election cycle.
So when you talk about sheer numbers, we talk about this big, powerful lobby, there are a lot of other special interest groups that have a lot more money, including individuals who are funding anti-gun efforts.
BLOW: You're saying Mayor Bloomberg's $13 million, it was all anti-guns?
BLOW: No, no, it was not anti-gun, but just to put it in proportion, Mayor Bloomberg spent $13 million in the last election cycle on federal candidates and independent expenditures.
So there is a lot of money that's going to be poured into this. The NRA is going to be dwarfed. They are not by any means the largest special interests in politics. Also, the reality, Charles, the one thing you have to acknowledge when we talk about the politics of this is that the assault on weapons ban wasn't renewed in 2004, and Democrats, largely credit, not largely, but credit in part their loss of the House of Representatives in 1994 to the passage of the assault weapons ban.
And Rahm Emanuel gaining back the House of Representatives in 2006 was largely credited to him going and finding Blue Dog Democrats who are in favor of gun rights. The truth is, this isn't, as you point out, Anderson, a partisan issue. This is gun owners. The NRA has A-listers...
COOPER: But your argument about the NRA is based on money. Doesn't their influence go far beyond just amount of dollars they may spend trying to influence a race?
COOPER: To your point, they have four million members who are very vocal and very energized and who got out and vote and who in local districts would be very upset if see their congressman or their senator...
HOOVER: But isn't that then a representative of the populace, rather than just this special interest group? Isn't it then representing the people's desire? Which is why I think actually if you're going to see change in gun legislation, it's got to come from the public and not from Washington. And I do think something has changed after Newtown. I do think that there is something that hit a chord with the American public, where people are evaluating, OK, to what extent am I willing to balance my right to have a gun, my right to hunt what makes sense in terms of...
COOPER: So you think...
COOPER: ... is possible?
HOOVER: I think something has changed after Newtown.
COOPER: You think some form of legislation may be possible...
HOOVER: I think in terms of the will of the populace has changed. I think when the rubber hits the wheel in Washington, it's still going to be difficult because you have got the practicality of the debt crisis, all these fiscal things that are coming down. The sequester hasn't even been handled, let alone immigration, which the president promised to do. I don't know if you can get all of those done.
BLOW: I think that frame is wrong.
I think when we talk about gun control and we only talk about gun owners as the only people involved in that equation, that is the wrong frame. I have -- you have a right to own a gun. I have a right to not own a gun and still feel safe in this society. And the fact that we are not having the discussion that incorporates the people who choose to not have a gun in this society and want to be safe...
COOPER: And that's where you believe...
BLOW: And that's the frame.
COOPER: And that's where you believe that you're seeing a change? That there's now more people joining this conversation as opposed to just gun owners?
COOPER: Let's leave it there. Interesting.
Charles Blow from "The New York Times," thank you. Margaret Hoover, thanks very much.
Up next, after thanking America for a -- this is pretty amazing -- thanking America for a $182 billion bailout, money that you, the taxpayers, gave to AIG to bail them out, AIG may now actually sue the government, which means they may sue you, the taxpayers. What is going on? We will explain. We're "Keeping Them Honest" next.
COOPER: Another "Keeping Them Honest" report now.
This one, it's hard to believe, but it is true. During the financial crisis, taxpayers, you, taxpayers, back in 2008, the government bailed out insurance giant AIG to the tune of $182 billion. The taxpayers gave $182 billion to bail out AIG, because there were real concerns it was too big to fail, that not doing so could have led to the collapse of the entire financial system globally.
Now, that very same company, AIG, that took that $182 billion of your money from the government, they now may actually sue the federal government over the terms of the bailout, the one that saved it from its own bad decisions. Here's how grim those days were. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BEN BERNANKE, FEDERAL RESERVE CHAIRMAN: Of all the events and all the things we have done over the last 18 months, the single one that makes me the angriest, that gives me the most angst is the intervention with AIG.
Here was a company that made all kinds of unconscionable bets. Then, when those bets went wrong, we had a situation where the failure of that company would have brought down the financial system.
TIMOTHY GEITHNER, U.S. TREASURY SECRETARY: Deciding to support AIG was one of the most difficult choices I have ever been involved in, in over 20 years of public service. We acted because the consequences of AIG failing would have been catastrophic for our economy and for American families and businesses.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Remember back then, a nightmare.
So back in September of 2008, chairman and CEO Ed Liddy said AIG appreciated the -- quote -- "lifeline" the government had given it. They appreciated it.
Today, AIG is still thanking the government. This ad is running right now. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have repaid every dollar America leant us.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Everything, plus a profit of more than $22 billion.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: For the American people.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: AIG, we turned it around.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you, America.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you, America.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you, America, for the freedom to ensure a brighter future.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, gosh, that seems really nice. It's all true. AIG is profitable today. It has paid back the money it got.
So, what -- what is its beef right now with the government? Well, the lawsuit claims the terms of the bailout, including the high interest rate it had to pay, were unfair to its shareholders.
Now, to be clear, AIG has not decided whether to join the lawsuit, which was filed in 2011 by shareholders. But AIG's CEO says he has a fiduciary and legal duty to consider the lawsuit.
CNN's Ali Velshi joins me now.
When I heard this, I was really kind of stunned about this. What do you make of this?
ALI VELSHI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's truly amazing. Remember you and I talking four years and three months ago about this bailout and how mad people were. And one of the things the government had to do, because it was a real mob mentality out there, was to suggest that the interest rate on this loan was high enough so that it would actually compel AIG to want to pay it back quickly and send the message out here that you don't get free money for behaving the irresponsible way that AIG did.
So here's what happened. A bunch of shareholders filed a lawsuit in 2011, actually. A group led by the former CEO, Hank Greenberg, who really built this company up, they feel that the terms of this deal -- Hank Greenberg was not involved when the deal was made. They feel that the terms were too onerous, as you said, the government, too much ownership; the interest rates, which were too high and it cost shareholder value.
Now the board of AIG has a responsibility to say, "Let's evaluate this lawsuit." They're going to do this tomorrow. They're going to give an answer by the end of the month as to whether they want to be a party to the lawsuit, whether they don't want to be a party, but let Hank Greenberg, my shareholder group, go ahead and represent them, or whether they want nothing to do with them. COOPER: Let's look at all sides. Does Hank Greenberg's argument have validity?
VELSHI: Look, this has worked its way through the judicial process already, through the judicial system. Hank Greenberg -- this lawsuit was thrown out by one court. It was then appealed to another court, and the second court has said, you have to go to the board and see if they want in on this.
It's a serious case. David Boies, who we know is representing the shareholders. They sequestered -- they requested 16 million documents. They've since reduced that to about 10 million. But they're trying to determine the relationship that the United States Treasury had with AIG to see whether they knew of what was going on beforehand, going all the way back to 2005. But it's not a penny ante lawsuit. It's a real lawsuit.
COOPER: Could AIG have not taken the lifeline?
VELSHI: No, no. If AIG didn't take the lifeline, AIG would have gone under. And the consequence of AIG going under is that AIG insures every airplane you ever fly on. They insure every business that takes place in the world. This would have really brought the planet to a stop. So everybody who agreed say, "Let's hold our noses; give AIG this bailout." There was no choice in the matter.
COOPER: So they were forced into an onerous loan?
VELSHI: They would have been bankrupt otherwise, and then there would have been a different kind of lawsuit.
So Hank Greenberg, I mean, it's such a ludicrous, objectionable argument that, if they didn't take the money, they would have been out of business, so we should have -- we, the taxpayer, should have given them better terms on a deal for basically coming close to ruining the world's economy.
COOPER: The other aspect of this is there is a public relations aspect to this that this company has to consider. I mean, if they're spending all this money putting out commercials, saying...
COOPER: ... painting this rosy picture of AIG, it's not going to look too great if they turn around and sue the United States government.
VELSHI: There's an important distinction. You mentioned Ed Liddy, who was former head of another insurance company. He came in to help. He was the post-government takeover of AIG. The CEO now, Benmosche, these are not guys who are part of the problem. So that ad was designed by an executive team that really is thankful that America bailed them out and that this company is back on its legs after having paid America back.
This is a different crew. This shareholder lawsuit is the old CEO, Hank Greenberg, who by the way, has a big beef generally with government. Remember, he was forced out of his job.
VELSHI: Largely because of Eliot Spitzer.
VELSHI: He's just mad at everybody. But it's a serious lawsuit. This -- this is the executive and the board of AIG having to say, "Do we want part of this lawsuit?"
COOPER: All right. We'll watch it.
COOPER: Ali Velshi, thanks very much. Amazing stuff.
There's a lot more we're following tonight. Deborah Feyerick is here with the "360 Bulletin" -- Deborah.
DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, the one and only suspect held in connection with the attack on the U.S. consulate in Libya September 11 has been freed by Tunisian authorities. Still, Ali Harzai (ph) remains a suspect of the U.S. federal law enforcement officials.
Four Americans were killed in the attack, including U.S. ambassador, Chris Stevens.
A lawyer for three of the five men charged with the deadly gang rape and beating of a 23-year-old woman in India says he's telling the men to plead not guilty. Since her death, there have been angry protests over the country's treatment of women and its handling of sex abuse cases.
In Jordan, a muddy mess at a camp for Syrian refugees. Heavy winter rains have pounded the camp that holds at least 45,000 displaced people. And U.N. officials say the cold weather is making life miserable.
Here at home, 2012 was the hottest year on record for the lower 48. According to NOAA, the average temperature was 55.3 degrees Fahrenheit, more than 3 degrees warmer than average and 1 degree above the previous record.
And for the first time ever, we are getting a look at a giant squid deep in the ocean. The squid has eyes the size of dinner plates and its tentacles -- and if its tentacles weren't damaged, it would have been 26 feet long. The footage was shot by a scientist at a Japanese museum. It will be featured in a Discovery Channel special later this month -- Anderson.
COOPER: Deb, thanks.
Just ahead, a California law that says rape is not a crime if a victim isn't married. Crazy. It's more than a century old. It is still on the books. The state's attorney general wants to change that. She joins me ahead.
COOPER: So, a legal loophole we want you to know about, because it's really shocking. It's another "Keeping Them Honest" report. It's a legal loophole in this country that actually protects some rapists who prey on unmarried woman. That's right. You heard right. A law that makes the distinction between married and unmarried rape victims.
It's happening right here in the United States in 2013, even though the law allows it was written more than a century ago in 1872. It's still actually being used today. In fact, recently, it forced a California appeals court to overturn a rape conviction.
The outcry obviously has been intense. The California lawmakers who have allowed the loophole to remain on the books, they are under fire tonight.
Here's CNN's Kyung Lah.
KYUNG LAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): What happened on the streets sounded like rape to police. Julio Morales slips into the bedroom of a sleeping 18-year-old woman. In a handwritten note to police, Morales writes, "She started to confuse me with her boyfriend." The woman at first consents but then resists when she realizes he's not her boyfriend. She tells police Morales raped her.
But according to a California law dating back to 1872, what happened is not a crime. An appellate decision overturning Morales' conviction spells out why.
"Has the man committed rape? Because of historical anomalies in the law and the statutory definition of rape, the answer is no, even though, if the woman had been married and the man had impersonated her husband, the answer would be yes."
SCOTT BERKOWITZ, PRESIDENT, RAPE, ABUSE AND INCEST NATIONAL NETWORK: My first reaction was, you've got to be kidding. We're now prosecuting rape based on 140-year-old laws that long ago stopped making sense.
LAH: The case may shock advocates, but not Assemblyman Katcho Achadjian. He already had heard about the old 1872 law from an upset prosecutor in his district. So in 2011, he introduced a bill in California's assembly that would protect all women, whether married or single, against rape by impersonation.
(on camera) What did you expect would happen to the bill?
KATCHO ACHADJIAN, CALIFORNIA STATE ASSEMBLY: I said, we'll go through this. As I said, no-brainer. Everybody will support it wholeheartedly. There was no question about it. LAH: He was right, sort of. The bill passed without a single no vote in the state assembly. But then it moved on to the senate side, to the senate public safety committee.
(voice-over) The seven members never took it to a vote. Why? A policy adopted in 2007 by the senate's Democratic leadership. It's called ROCA or the Receivership Overcrowding Crisis Aggravation Policy. This committee will not vote on public safety bills that could put more prisoners in California's already-crowded prisons, even something as seemingly simple as Assemblyman Achadjian's bill.
(on camera) What does it say to you about policies, about Sacramento, about lawmakers when a no-brainer bill can't get out of committee?
ACHADJIAN: Unfortunately, red tape and bureaucrats exist, and sometimes it overrides something that makes such a sense.
LAH (voice-over): Critics believe the senate public safety committee misuses ROCA. Members could have voted on this issue but chose not to. But according to a spokeswoman, the committee's Republican vice chairman, Senator Joel Anderson, wants to get rid of ROCA so that all bills get voted on.
JANN TABER, SPOKESWOMAN, CALIFORNIA SENATE: There might have been in the past, there might have been a good excuse for the ROCA file in the past, but it was abused. It's basically now being used as political cover, so that members of the committee don't have to take tough votes.
LAH: We went to the office of the committee chairwoman, Democrat Lani (ph) Hancock...
(on camera) Hi, there.
(voice-over) ... who took time to try to explain that it's not as simple as it looks.
(on camera) It looks like the legislature, the committee, just chose not to act to protect women. Is that what's happening here?
LANI (ph) HANCOCK, CALIFORNIA STATE SENATE: No. We are walking that tightrope between a federal court order to reduce our prison population by tens of thousands of prisoners and a mandate not to build new prisons either, because we can't afford it.
LAH: Assemblyman Achadjian just this week re-introduced a new version of this bill, hoping that, now because of public outrage, it will actually get voted on this time.
ACHADJIAN: We're not able to put women's right in this 21st century, it's like, what's next?
COOPER: Kyung Lah joins me now. Now that the assemblyman is again introducing the bill, will it actually get voted on? Isn't ROCA still in place?
LAH: You're absolutely right. ROCA still is in place, but the landscape has changed, Anderson, according to the committee chairman.
The governor just today of California said that the prison overcrowding problem here in California has improved, and he feels that the emergency status needs to be lifted. But, certainly, a lot of public scrutiny on this, Anderson, is going to help maybe get this 1872 law, perhaps, updated.
COOPER: It's incredible. Kyung, thanks very much.
Kamala Harris is California's attorney general. She joins me now. I realize this law was crafted back in the 1870s. Why is it still on the books in 2013?
KAMALA HARRIS, CALIFORNIA ATTORNEY GENERAL: Anderson, you're right. Seven years after the Civil War was when this law was written. And I'll tell you, we have a lot of old laws on the books. In fact, the government code for California refers to the attorney general as "he" in most sections where it talks about her authority.
HARRIS: So we certainly have arcane laws on the books, but the most important thing is that we fix this problem and put the law back on the side of victims. Because in this case, we're talking about a woman who was raped, and she deserves justice. And we want to make sure also that that rapist faces severe and swift accountability and consequence.
COOPER: It's also not like this is some arcane law that hasn't been called into question for decades. I understand it prevented prosecutors from pursuing a rape charge just a couple years ago. And I know that there was a bill changing the law that passed the house back in 2011 but died in committee in the senate. What happened?
HARRIS: Well, that year, there were a number of criminal justice initiatives that stalled because of concern that they would add to the budget, the criminal justice budget of California. I don't agree with that, but that's what happened.
The environment is different this time, and I'm actually pleased to tell you that the speaker of the assembly, John Perez, and others have engaged in a bipartisan approach to fixing this, and there's bipartisan support for pushing through a law that would fix the problem.
And essentially, what it will do is this. Instead of referring to rape by fraud, only if the perp is impersonating the spouse, it will be, if the person -- the perpetrator is impersonating an intimate partner, which more accurately reflects common and modern-day relationships.
COOPER: So, wait, so you said it died in the senate because it would have increased the budget. Is that in part the idea of increasing the prison population?
HARRIS: That's correct; exactly right. As you know, California recently underwent a shift in criminal justice policy, where we realigned state responsibilities for low-level offenders to the counties, because a three-judge court panel decided that we rightly had decided that we had an overcrowding problem in California state prisons, and we needed to relieve the population there.
But what happened in the legislature, over the course of many years, is that to lessen the burden on the prison system, there was -- they stalled criminal justice measures from going forward that would increase penalties for offenders.
COOPER: And, I mean, what would -- what happens -- I mean, the court overturns the conviction and sent them back to the trial court, advised prosecutors to base their case on a different law. If this law is changed, is it possible the accused could be retried under the new rape law, as an impersonation law? Or would double jeopardy laws prevent that?
HARRIS: No, the court -- the court returned it for it to be retried. And so it would be retried. That's what we expect.
My office is still making a determination where we are in terms of the appeals process, but that was the order of the court.
COOPER: OK. Attorney general, appreciate your time. Thank you.
HARRIS: Thank you.
COOPER: We'll continue, obviously, to follow that and see what happens.
Still ahead, new photos of a former FBI agent who went missing in Iran more than five years ago are released. They're pretty shocking photos. We'll show you them.
It's a frightening fall. A couple getting married inside a hot air balloon and exchanging vows. It brings new meaning to the phrase "wedding crashers." Their story next.
COOPER: Let's get the latest on some other stories we're following. Deb Feyerick's back with the "360 Bulletin" -- Deborah.
FEYERICK: Hey, Anderson.
Prosecutors today played the first 911 calls from the July shooting that left 12 people dead at an Aurora, Colorado, movie theater. One call -- on one call, at least 30 gunshots can be heard in the background in 27 seconds. That's almost a shot per second. The calls were heard in a preliminary hearing to determine if prosecutors have enough evidence to put James Holmes on trial. His attorneys are expected to use a diminished capacity defense.
And Chicago police have opened a murder investigation into the poisoning death of a man who recently won $1 million on a scratch-off lottery ticket. The medical examiner's office initially ruled he'd died of natural causes, but after prompting from a relative, the office went back and found there was a lethal amount of cyanide in his system.
And the family of a retired FBI agent who was last seen in 2007, today the family released photos of him that they got in April. Bob Levinson was last seen in Iran. U.S. officials have said they think he's being held hostage somewhere in southeast Asia. The FBI has offered a $1 million reward for information leading to his safe return.
COOPER: That's so crazy. I mean, he's been missing for so long, and suddenly, these pictures pop up of him being held prison somewhere. It's crazy.
FEYERICK: Yes. Proof of life.
COOPER: Yes, somewhere in Southeast Asia. Deb, thanks very much.
Time for tonight's "Shot." Check out this video. A hot-air balloon crashed into a backyard in San Diego, moments after a couple aboard exchanged vows. A friend of the couple captured it all on cell phone video. Look, they have no idea they're about to crash. Take a look at this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: The newlyweds said the balloon hit a fence on the way down, skidded and bounced. Thirteen people, Deborah, were aboard the balloon when it went down. One person was taken to the hospital with a minor back injury. Apparently, no one else was hurt.
FEYERICK: What's incredible is that, apparently, the groom is afraid of heights, and the bride talked him into it. So I think it's safe to say, that was probably their first argument as a married couple. But you can hear that kid in there going, "Yay!"
FEYERICK: You hear that?
COOPER: It's unbelievable. Yes. Well...
COOPER: It's only up from here.
FEYERICK: That's exactly right.
COOPER: Deb, thanks very much.
Coming up, what happens when the heavy metal lifestyle collides with purveyors of men's suits? "The RidicuList" happens, next.
COOPER: Time now for "The RidicuList." And tonight we delve into the challenging world of the heavy metal superstar.
It's a hard-rock life for people like Dave Mustaine, formerly of Metallica, now the front man for Megadeth. Do you think it's easy to shred on guitar like that for a living night after night? There are long hours in the studio, always being on the road, not to mention taking time out of one's busy, hard-rocking schedule to explain the devil's tritone to a reporter from "Nightline".
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAVE MUSTAINE, FRONT MAN, MEGADETH: The devil's tritone is made up of these three notes. And this note right here drops down, so it goes -- so close. So listen to the difference. It just sounds evil, doesn't it?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: There's no doubt about it. Dave Mustaine is as rocking as they come, and now he is directing his take-no-prisoners heavy metal energy at a Men's Warehouse in Salt Lake City, Utah. That's right, the suit store.
It seems that Mr. Mustaine bought a gift certificate for his tour manager, but alas, it did not arrive in time for Christmas, so he posted a 430-word rant on the Megadeth Facebook page. It reads in part, and I quote, "it turns out they decided to hold my order, otherwise called by them as 'pending,' and told no one. For almost nine days now, I have been waiting for delivery of this gift certificate. These salesmen promised that they would guarantee a two- day delivery of the certificate."
Can I just take a moment and point out that we are all old? I mean, seriously. You know you are old when one of the founding members of Metallica is upset about a customer service issue with a Men's Warehouse in Salt Lake City.
Need I remind you, this is the same person who is responsible for such Megadeth hits as "Sweating Bullets."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(MUSIC: MEGADETH'S "SWEATING BULLETS")
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Fast forward a few years, and now he is writing this, and I quote, "You may not wear a suit for your job or for an event or occasion, but if you do, I would strongly recommend you wear someone else's suits. I, for one, will never set foot in a Men's Warehouse, even for shelter from a blizzard. I absolutely guarantee it."
Now, keep in mind, this is on the Megadeth Facebook page.
Men's Warehouse responded in the comment section and also tweeted him an apology. We actually e-mailed the company for a statement. They did not respond. Maybe they only like to tweet pioneers of thrash speed metal, which look, I totally get. Totally understandable.
But for those about to rock, whether it's alone, in your garage, on stage in front of thousands of screaming fans, or at a Men's Warehouse in Utah, we salute you.
That's it for us. Thanks for watching. "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts now.