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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
American Terrorists; Dangerous Journey to the U.S.; Interview with Paul Babeu; Florida Congressman Proposes Legislation To Allow Polygraphs For People Who Work with Children; Israeli Security Cabinet Holds Emergency Talks
Aired July 15, 2014 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, thanks for joining us, breaking news, tonight. New concerns about domestic terrorism.
Also tonight new developments in the story we brought you exclusively. Dozens of Florida theme park employees sending -- spending some of their off time on camera caught in child sex stings. Not there's actions in Congress to protect their kids from the bad guys.
And later the people who keep coming north, who keep taking this train even knowing their destination could be death. You're going to meet a mother and a child who survived that so-called train of death, barely survived, and have the terrible scars to remind them.
We begin, as said, tonight with the breaking news. A CNN exclusive, the possibility, and so far it's only that, a possibility of acts of terrorism committed against Americans by Americans who've gone overseas to wage the so-called holy war and could be returning home to do the same.
Attorney General Eric Holder spoke broadly about it this weekend, talking about that Florida man who recently blew himself up in Syria.
ERIC HOLDER, ATTORNEY GENERAL: And this is a very real thing. Just last month or so the first American -- became a suicide bomber. So this is not a theoretical problem that we are dealing with. This is something very real.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: That statement caught our eye. We wanted to know what the basis of it was. So Barbara Starr began investigating and what she uncovered, well, could be trouble. Listen.
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): U.S. intelligence and law enforcement agencies have dozens of investigations underway tracking Americans who travel to Syria to join the fight worried they could attack the U.S. now that they are back home or trying to get back home. JOHN CARLIN, ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR NATIONAL SECURITY: The
FBI, other members of the intelligence community made this a top priority and taking whatever steps they can under the law to monitor and prevent those coming back from doing us harm.
STARR: The government has begun an intense effort to collect intelligence overseas on Syrian training camps and also trying to identify Americans at home even before they travel to Syria so they know if those Americans come back.
U.S. officials tell CNN not all potential suspects may be on the no- fly list making it harder for investigators.
And more worry, thousands of fighters in Syria with European passports and able to enter the U.S. Officials tell CNN not all European countries are sharing the names of all of their suspect citizens.
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D), CALIFORNIA: We got to make sure we partner with Europe so that we know who is coming back.
STARR: Alarms went off with a French Algerian extremist opened fire at the Jewish museum in Brussels in May. After training with ISIS in Syria, he traveled through several countries in Europe before he was arrested in France. U.S. officials said it was a wakeup call that borders can be readily crossed.
COOPER: And we're talking about potentially thousands of people here. Barbara Starr joins us from the Pentagon.
Barbara, you say this increased concern is what prompted the reason stepped up security measures at overseas airports.
STARR: Well, that's right, Anderson, in large part. You have is al Qaeda and Yemen that knows how to make undetectable bombs that can likely get past U.S. airport security measures. Those al Qaeda operatives, many of them now it is believed have traveled to Syria. The technology has been transferred. There are Americans fighting in Syria. If those Americans get their hands on that technology, that is the worry. They could get back into this country, if the U.S. doesn't know about them with those kind of potentially undetectable bombs.
STARR: It's one of the biggest concerns right now and what is partnered with this concern, Anderson, is they may not know where all of these Americans are. The big worry, unspoken, are there Americans that have come back into this country that the U.S. doesn't know about?
COOPER: We want to talk more about that. Barbara, appreciate the reporting.
Let's dig deeper with our national security analyst and former Bush homeland security adviser Fran Townsend. Also former CIA and FBI counterterrorism official Philip Mudd and counterterrorism veteran Robert McFadden who's currently with the Soufan Group.
Fran, you're concerned over the Obama administration's reaction to the threat from foreign fighters coming back to America.
FRANCES FRAGOS TOWNSEND, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CONTRIBUTOR: You know, Anderson, look, this has been a concern that the U.S. intelligence community has been talking about for months now. Let's remember the director of National Intelligence, Jim Clapper, testified before Congress about his concern about upwards of more than 20,000 foreign fighters that could what they call bleed out. That is return after having gotten to the fight into western Europe and back to the United States.
Even then they were -- they would talk about dozens if not hundreds that could enter the United States. It's hard to track these guys, right? So here is an American who is going to go to Europe, you know, that doesn't seem to be a concern, and then they travel through several countries to get into Syria. They get the fighting experience and they travel back. They often use false documents, false names.
And so this is a real challenge for American intelligence law enforcement officials and they got to work with our foreign allies, the intelligence services whether that's in Europe or more particularly the Arab country who have a better sense of what's going in -- on the ground inside of Syria.
COOPER: Right. Phil, it's not like Americans are taking flights back from Syria after having fought in Syria. It's coming back from Jordan or Lebanon or Turkey or somewhere even in Europe, and the sheer number of fighters with U.S. and European passports is incredibly alarming. I mean, the administration is saying at least 7,000, I've seen some estimates as high as 20,000.
TOWNSEND: That's exactly right --
PHILIP MUDD, FORMER SENIOR OFFICIAL, FBI AND CIA: Yes, I think --
COOPER: I'm sorry, Phil, go ahead.
MUDD: I'm sorry.
COOPER: No, Phil, it's for you, go ahead.
MUDD: I was going to say I think you've got to look at two problems here. I sat at the threat table every morning when Eric Holder became attorney general. There's only about 12 of us sitting around that table. He's got to think first about the thing that you mentioned, that is volume.
In my old world of counterterrorism, three people, five people, that's a lot of people to follow. Now you're talking about dozens or hundreds who may have received training overseas. So that volume issue is significant in the terrorism world. The second issue I mentioned is time. We're in 2014 now. What if
this goes into next year, the year after? The war in Syria is now three or four years old and you expand to 100 kids, 200 kids. That combination of the volume of kids going over and the amount of time you have to watch this problem, to me, if I were sitting at the threat table could be daunting.
COOPER: Robert, you also have the situation -- I mean, for Europeans, I mean, once you have a European passport, you can go -- you can travel anywhere through Europe. It's not as if your passport are even going to be checked between going -- you know, France or Germany or Switzerland, wherever you go, you have free access to travel. So the threat for Europeans and American targets in Europe is extraordinarily high.
ROBERT MCFADDEN, SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT, THE SOUFAN GROUP: Yes, it's extremely challenging, and to add to what the guests said you have sheer volume, the ease of travel with European passports and visas. And that speaks to, too, that matter about working with allies about staunch and the flow. Up to this point, over three years with the civil war in Syria. It's been quite easy, particularly through Turkey.
One other alarming -- we have enough alarming aspects, I think, at this point -- of the situation. We don't have a frame of reference for this really in the West. I mean if you take --
COOPER: What do you mean?
MCFADDEN: Well, if you take the fighting, the foreign fighters against the Soviets in Afghanistan in 1970s or through the 1980s.
MCFADDEN: We didn't have -- we've already exceeded the (INAUDIBLE) foreign fighters going into Syria and Iraq. We also didn't have the degree of this extreme inculcation that we're seeing, summary executions and broad scale violence, plus a technical capability --
COOPER: Right. The technical sophistication is incredibly alarming.
MCFADDEN: That's right. So a number of very, very troubling indicators.
COOPER: Phil, in terms of trying to target these people, these guys overseas, are there capabilities to do that?
MUDD: Sure, there is a couple of questions I'd be asking. First, as Fran suggested, you've got to have partnerships with people like the Jordanian and the Turks because every time somebody with a funny passport or perhaps an American passport crosses a border or goes in Heathrow Airport in London, who's 18 years old, who's been overseas for a few months, who doesn't have a good explanation of where it's been. I want my partners to tell me.
The second issue is going to make you uncomfortable, Anderson. It's going to make every viewer uncomfortable. That is Edward Snowden. You might ask a question, I want to know every 18-year-old who's traveled overseas without a family member on a one-way cash ticket to Jordan or Turkey. Not a single thing I mentioned is illegal. That is big data. That's the kind of stuff NSA can collect. That's the kind of question I have in government but that raises legitimate civil liberties issues.
COOPER: And Fran, certainly allies in the Middle East, governments, I mean, you talk about Jordanian Secret Service, they have a very effective secret service there. That is also crucial in tracking these people.
TOWNSEND: That's right. I mean, our Arab allies, those closer to the problem in the foreign fighters in Syria have better fidelity. They just have better intelligence. Primarily that's because of human intelligence network sources that they can run into the country, into the problem, that bring them back, what essentially becomes for us important targeting data and information we can use not only in terms of targeting with other western European countries, but we can load that into our screening process at the border and try to identify them before they get inside the United States.
COOPER: Robert, what about those who are already back in the United States? How tough is tracking them?
MCFADDEN: Well, according to research that we published a few months ago, FBI figures somewhere between 70 to 100. And that's believed to be conservative.
COOPER: Which is a lot.
MCFADDEN: Absolutely. Like I said before, whether you have one, two, or three, that's all it takes.
COOPER: Right. A year ago, we were concerned about a handful of Somalis who had gone over to, you know, to fight in Mogadishu and elsewhere in Somalia.
COOPER: And now we're talking about hundreds here.
MCFADDEN: Right, I mean, to put it in some perspective, I mean, historically, even though I mentioned before there is not a great frame of reference, the numbers are small for those who come home and commit violence. The big however is it just takes a few to be lethal.
One thing to talk about, too, in combating the situation is what referred to as a counter narrative. An important part in the road ahead, and particularly when it comes to the local level, the family level, non-governmental organizations in the U.S. and the West and getting in front of young men who might have that idea to go to a place like Syria and Iraq, that's an important aspect.
COOPER: Coordinating with families and stuff, which is some of what we saw, some of the guys from Cardiff, in Wales, the father of one of them came out very publicly and said what they have done is terrible and anti-religious.
And Robert, it's good to have you on the program. Philip Mudd, Fran Townsend, as well.
A quick reminder, make sure you set your DVR so you can watch 360 whenever you want.
Coming up next tonight, a terrifying angle on the immigration crisis. A mom and child who rode what's called Mexico's train of death trying to get to the United States. The terrible price they paid for it. The train is getting ready to roll at any moment tonight.
And later, reaction to our exclusive reporting on off-duty theme park employees caught on tape, caught up in sting operations. Reaction and real action you want to know about whether you have kids or not. We'll be right back.
COOPER: With deportation flights now underway and plans for at least 260 mass demonstrations all over across the country this weekend, the child immigration crisis seems to be at a boiling point right now.
We'll talk to an Arizona sheriff tonight who's at the center of some of the protests but first we're going to go to where so many undocumented kids and others have been coming from and where, as our Gary Tuchman has been learning, some of them are killed or terribly injured on their way north.
Gary has been reporting on a train they take, some call it the beast, or the train of death. He joins us now from southern Mexico -- Gary.
GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, there is no train like this in the world. This is the beast. It has just pulled into the station. Right now it's hooking up with other cars because it's going to start heading north at about 10:00 local time, which is about two hours and 45 minutes from now.
Let me move up so you can hear me. But it will in a little bit. However, a short time ago, it pulled into this southern Mexican town and aboard many immigrants.
GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It is called "the beast," or "the train of death." And it's heading north, arriving in the southern Mexico Pueblo of Ixtepec. When it's in the midst of its journey across Mexico, hundreds of migrants sit on top and in between its cars. Many people get hurt or killed boarding or getting off while it's moving. And that's why it's known as "the train of death."
The train in Ixtepec is making a pit stop. And many of the people on top of the train, for as many as eight hours, are getting off for food and water. This Honduran man was one of the passengers. He says the ride wasn't so bad. That he left Honduras to find better work. Like many of the passengers, he is extremely hungry. (On camera): Most people get off "the beast" right now to go to a
nearby shelter and will catch the next train. But some people, like these guys up there, will stay on this train because they don't want to miss this when it leaves.
(Voice-over): The shelter in Ixtepec provides food, water, medical care, and is well known among migrants who can spend as much time as they want here. Two-year-old Richard of Honduras is here. His foot was cut off when he and his mother were run over by one of the train wheels when they were trying to get off. The arm of his mother Emily was partially detached. She pulled her son off the tracks with her good arm just before her son would have been killed.
She says, "I couldn't believe what was happening while it was taking place. One of the things I thought was if this is God's will, then it's God's will."
Unaccompanied children share this facility with adult migrants before they go back to "the beast" for the rest of the journey north. Volunteers, many from the United States, help take care of them.
Emily is an artist, a painter, who dreamed of practicing her craft in the U.S. I asked if she and her 2-year-old will continue their journey to the United States.
She says, "Yes, so none of this will be in vain."
"The beast" will be leaving soon.
(On camera): This guy's waiting to get on the train right now. He's waiting for it to slow down enough and he says he wants to go to the United States and he's going to stay on it until he gets to the U.S. border.
(Voice-over): The journey with other train connections will take no less than 12 or so days. For many, much longer if they make it at all.
(On camera): Once people start boarding, they have no idea when it actually will start its trip to the north. It starts and stops for a while, while they get it back on track. And I'm not going to go for a ride. I'm going to get off before it's going very fast. But it's anybody's guess when it will get to the United States. I'm getting off now because it's starting to go fast.
(Voice-over): This is a life for the very motivated and very desperate.
COOPER: That poor little child with his mother.
Does the train that you just showed, does it go all the way to the U.S. border?
TUCHMAN: Sometimes it does, Anderson, sometimes it doesn't. We're about 250 miles north of the southern Mexican border, 750 miles away from the nearest part of the United States in Texas but 300 miles north of us is a transit point. If this train doesn't go all the way to the border, everyone gets off and there are four different train lines from that transit point. One to the California area, three to the Texas area. So that's what usually happens. But those stops and starts, it gets to the transit point, that's where the injury occur.
I want to show you how Emily and Richard got hurt. They were climbing down from the top of the car, and as they were climbing down the train started moving. They were in between the cars, and right now they're (INAUDIBLE). They were in between the cars and this train started moving and that wheel right there that rolled over the little boy's foot and the mother's arm. And it's sad and traumatizing and it happens every single day here in Mexico.
COOPER: And they still try to -- they are still going to try to come.
Gary, appreciate the reporting as you have been for the last two weeks.
As we said, there are demonstrations expected in at least 260 communities around the United States this weekend alone. There have already been several most notably in Murrieta, California, where protesters turned back three busloads of kids heading for a federal processing facility in town.
In Oracle, Arizona, about 100 miles north of the border, a noisy crowd showed up today promising to keep immigrant kids from arriving at their temporary housing, a ranch for troubled minors. The local sheriff, Paul Babeu, says he'll enforce orders if the buses show up. He'll enforce order if the buses show up. There are complaints, though, that some of his remarks are partly responsible for the angry crowd.
Here to talk about it tonight is the county sheriff, Paul Babeu.
So, Sheriff, 40 to 60 of these kids bussed to your state, you've got no information, other than that, is that right? They haven't told you anything more?
SHERIFF PAUL BABEU, PINAL COUNTY, ARIZONA: No other information and that didn't come from officially the federal government. That's by whistleblowers and then it was confirmed by the actual facility.
COOPER: We've seen protests on both sides of the debate there in your county. There are some who are questioning your role in all this. That you published information giving basically that you say as you just said from DHS whistleblowers that you gave the exact location of the detention facility where these kids will be kept.
From a public safety standpoint, does that make sense to do?
BABEU: Do I -- do the people in my county who live right next to this facility and throughout the community have a right to know, and I believe if we're in effort, not only for transparency but this significant public safety and potentially a public health issue, absolutely, I believe the public has a right to know and I would rather err on that side rather than to be secretive as this whole operation was initially done.
COOPER: What is your biggest concern about -- I mean, it's a small number of kids relatively speaking. They're not being released into your community. They are being housed at a private facility, a facility that apparently specializes in dealing with troubled and at- risk youth.
COOPER: They've added more staff members, I think 30 more staff members. So what problems do you think they're going to bring to your -- to your county?
BABEU: Well, the concern was, and I've qualified these remarks, that we have closing in on 60,000 unaccompanied juveniles from Central America. Some number, we don't know how many, has been confirmed through the screening process that they have gang affiliations and other concerns, and my question to Homeland Security was give us a sense of the profile of these individuals. The problem I have is I and my deputies have our hands full.
We have the largest drug bust in the history of our state right here in my county. My county geographically is larger than the state of Connecticut. We don't have enough deputies to carry out all of our duties.
COOPER: But you say, in fact, in your press release that our federal government has failed to enforce any immigration laws. You don't really believe that, do you? I mean, they obviously, they are enforcing immigration laws every single day. In fact, by dealing with these kids the way, you know, they are dealing with these kids, that's following an immigration law that was passed in 2008.
So to say they're not following any immigration laws, I mean, that's just not true, right?
BABEU: When you get a sense of what we're dealing with here on the ground in Arizona every day, every week we have a situation where we enforce state laws here and we arrest individuals, not all of them are violent criminals, of course, but drug cartel members and the human smugglers themself that our deputies deal with and readily reveal that they have been deported 10 times, 12 times, 15 times, and you and I and anybody listening to your program shouldn't be scratching their head wondering why it's going to be a 16th time.
And the reason being, is there really, truly are no consequences and that's the problem I have where the law applies to you and to me but generally speaking, that the rule of law when it comes to immigration, which is no longer an enforceable action from local county state law enforcement, there really is no enforcement of the law.
COOPER: It just -- I get everything that you said in your press release. That just stood out to me as something which is patently false and seems more political than anything to -- it sounds more like a slogan than true.
BABEU: Well, in reality, what are the consequences? Yes, is this something -- this is not just a loophole. This is a fact. This is a gaping wide hole that is going to soon be a train, 60,000, our own federal government is saying 90,000. Are there no -- is there no end to this because now the president will not be able to turn away, if there is another 90,000 that come to the border next week or next month or over the next year, how can the president legitimately turn these people away?
COOPER: Sheriff Babeu, I know you got a lot on your plate and I appreciate you talking to us tonight. Thank you.
BABEU: You bet, Anderson, thank you.
COOPER: You can find out more on the story always at CNN.com.
Coming up next tonight, action in the wake of our exclusive reporting on child sextings involving several dozen employees at some of the country's most popular theme parks. Even though the alleged crimes did not take place at work, the very real questions about how those people got hired in the first place.
Also, later breaking news out of Israel. Emergency talks just wrapping up after Hamas turns down a cease fire.
COOPER: This front page news in the morning papers, topic A for a lot of parents around the country and the subject of a legislation in Congress.
Kyra Phillips' exclusive reporting you saw first here on sextings in the Orlando, Florida, area that has swept up 42 alleged child predators since 2006 and have resulted so far in 32 convictions. There is video police napping some of them. Thirty-five of the 42 worked at Disney theme parks, five at Universal Studios, two at SeaWorld. None of the cases involved children or teenagers actually visiting the parks.
This morning on "NEW DAY" one of the lawmen involved had a blunt explanation for why a predator would work at a theme park.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SHERIFF GRADY JUDD, POLK COUNTY, FLORIDA: We know they are child predators and you remember Willie -- the bank robber, they asked Willie why he robbed banks, he said that's where the money is. So why do child predators want to work around children? Well, they do that at theme parks, in schools and do you know what? The Congress has tied our folks' hands.
You know, the theme parks, the schools can't do polygraphs to check the backgrounds or we would have more opportunity to discover the proclivity of the child predator, which is really a monster that's after our children. I'm going to go after them with a vengeance to protect our children
and we need to do that nationwide but the theme parks, the schools need help.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: So as for whether theme parks have been doing enough to weed out would be predators, Ernie Allen, retired president of the International Center for Missing and Exploited Children had this to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ERNIE ALLEN, CHILDREN'S ADVOCATE: There is more Disney can do and everybody can do. It's hard to imagine a company that's tried harder to address this company than Disney.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Disney declined our request for non-camera interview, but in a statement they said and I quote, "We have extensive measures in place including pre-employment and ongoing criminal background checks and computer monitoring and fire walls." Disney went on to say, "The numbers reported by CNN represent one-one hundredth of 1 percent of the 300,000 people we have employed during this time period and they conclude, we continue to work closely with law enforcement and organizations like the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children as we constantly strengthen our efforts."
SeaWorld and Universal issued similar statements saying they have zero tolerance with this kind of behavior and do everything they can to protect our guests. Florida Republican Congressman Dennis Ross has introduced legislation to do much of what you heard Sheriff Grady Judd said a second ago child oriented businesses to polygraph would be employees. He joins us now.
Congressman Ross, thanks for being with us. Why do you think this legislation is necessary?
CONGRESSMAN DENNIS ROSS (R), FLORIDA: It's another tool in the tool box. The act was passed 25 years ago and we didn't have internet access and advances we have today. We need to allow employers to find out who they are hiring if they are going to be dealing with minor children in these types of situations. You know, as we saw from the earlier interviews, those that had background checks usually can get caught.
But if we can allow for a polygraph and when the perspective employee goes in there knowing they will be polygraphed, it allows the employer an opportunity to find out what their background out and if it prevents the next event from happening and the next victim from occurring, we've made tremendous strides with our laws.
COOPER: So let me ask you about that because as you know, polygraph tests have proven to be inaccurate and not admissible in courts because of the inaccuracies. To someone that might ask why reporters can use a tool that isn't accurate, you say what?
ROSS: Well, again, it's another tool for the employer to use if they so desire. Look, it's not about admissibility in court. It's about finding out who you're hiring and what their proclivities are. I mean, there is an opportunity for employers to find out whether this is the kind of person they want to have representing them as an employer in dealing with young children. And more importantly, we owe it to the parents of these children to allow for this opportunity for employers to find out if these are people that are predators on their children.
COOPER: There is also the issue obviously of privacy and that is why really it's not been done before. You're a lawyer for Disney. I'm sure you know privacy issues as well as anyone. What would stop employers though from some of these companies from asking other personal questions that might not have nothing to do with whether a potential employee is a child predator?
ROSS: Well, again, I think that the employee, the perspective employee goes into the interview knowing that there is going to be a polygraph. At that point, you kind of put your privacy issues aside because if you want the job, you'll go through with the interview. If you don't then you won't. More importantly, the transparency is going to be there so that the employer has a chance to find out somewhat of a background of these people they are hiring.
Again, these are individuals that are going to have a close relationship with minor children. We owe it to these children. We owe it to their families. We owe it to our future, again, to make sure that we do everything we can to protect them.
COOPER: Would you want to limit the sort of the questions that could be asked to this particular topic?
ROSS: You know, it's not a question whether we'll legislate the questions or not. We'll leave that up to professionals. There are those professionals out there that know what questions to ask, depending on the type of polygraph that needs to be administered depending on the issues at hand. We just want to be able to allow the tool in the tool box to allow employers to make sure they don't have these people being employed by them. Believe me, my friends at Disney, Universal, at all the theme parks don't want these employees. Let's give them the opportunity to weed them out and that's what this legislation does.
COOPER: Congressman Ross, appreciate your time. We'll continue to follow the follow the bill. Thanks very much.
Just ahead, we do have breaking news tonight, late word on the emergency cabinet meeting just breaking up tonight in Israel and the possibility of more military action to come.
Plus could have been another tragedy, two young children left inside a hot car at the mall saved by shoppers this time. Wait until you hear where their mom was.
COOPER: Tonight new signs Israel could step up the ground assault on Gaza. Israel's security cabinet has been holding emergency talks tonight. The talks just breaking up. A seize fire as you know collapsed today just hours after Israel agreed to the proposal put forth by Egypt. All told Israel stopped the air strikes for about six hours. Officials say Hamas fired nearly four dozen rockets in Israel during that pause. Hamas' military arm rejected the ceasefire proposal flat out.
Also today a mortar shell fired from Gaza killed an Israeli man, the first fatality on Israel's side since the air war began one week ago. Officials in Gaza say more than 190 Palestinians have been killed and at least 1,400 have been wounded.
Our Wolf Blitzer joins me tonight from Jerusalem and Ben Wedeman is in Gaza City. Ben, the Israelis resumed strikes on Gaza during the afternoon today. What's the latest tonight?
BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, what we've heard is a series of large explosions from here. The latest was an air strike just about half an hour ago on a senior member of the Hamas polid burro. In addition to that, what we're hearing, of course, is that the Israelis have sent out these automatic pre-recorded phone calls to hundreds of residents of the neighborhood, which is northeast of here telling them to leave as soon as possible by the latest, Wednesday morning, and to go to Gaza City. The anticipation is there may well be a ground operation in that area, which is really quite close to Gaza City -- Anderson.
COOPER: And Wolf, the word from Israel is that they are ready to step up their campaign against Hamas, right?
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST, "THE SITUATION ROOM": Yes, they certainly are. The Israeli cabinet, the security cabinet met late into the night wrapping it up a little while ago at the Defense Ministry in Tel Aviv with the Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu running that meeting and all indications are the Israelis are primarily concerned right now.
Some of these underground bunkers, tunnels that supposedly house a lot of missiles, rockets and want to go in there, you can't just do it with air power, so there may be Israeli ground action. I don't anticipate a full scale military invasion to reoccupy all of Gaza or anything like that. Some assaults clearly seem to be in the works.
COOPER: Wolf, in terms of the seize fire proposal, that's at this point just dead?
BLITZER: Well, you know, there is some efforts behind the scenes to revival, the Egyptians haven't given up completely. The Palestinian Authority hasn't given up. The U.S., they are still working trying to convince Hamas to accept it. If the punishment from the Israelis continues and I suspect it will, the expectation is maybe Hamas will expect it. COOPER: As Wolf mentioned, the Palestinian president, Makhmoud Abbas called for acceptance of the proposal and so did the Arab league. Can you explain why this didn't sway Hamas?
WEDEMAN: What they are looking for, Anderson, is something palpable. They want to see real measures taken regarding the border with equipment, which has been closed for months, opened a day or two every once in a while. They want to see a resumption of trade that went on between Gaza and Egypt and would like to see the tunnels reopen, which the Egyptians have really demolished over the last year.
That was a major source of tax revenue for Hamas. So unless they can get something that they can hold up to the people of Gaza and say this is why nearly 200 of your people, the people of Gaza were killed over the last eight days, this is why hundreds of houses were destroyed, at least they will get something out of it because until now, all we've seen is death, destruction and really no upside for the people of Gaza who have been watching and suffering as this back and forth bombardment has been going on -- Anderson.
COOPER: Ben Wedeman, appreciate it. Wolf Blitzer, as well. Thanks.
There is more happening tonight. Susan Hendricks has a 360 bulletin -- Susan.
SUSAN HENDRICKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, videos played in a Boston courtroom today show Boston bombing suspect, Dzhokhar Tsarneve with a college friend the day after the attack. The two enter and leave a nd two others are accused of removing evidence from his dorm room.
A suspect on the terror attack on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi turned up dead. A local source told CNN, he was last seen in the custody of a local militia in eastern Libya. He was apparently interviewed by the FBI over his suspected links to the 2012 attack.
The Pentagon is saying the F-35 fighter jet has been cleared to resume flying with restrictions. They are still looking for the root cause of an engine fire last month that grounded the fleet. This fighter is the pentagon's most expensive weapons program ever.
Bystanders became heroes when they stop add carjacking in San Diego. When the car hit a pole, the Good Samaritans made their move. A woman and young child inside the car were not seriously hurt and the guy that attempted the carjacking, Anderson, he's on the ground and arrested. The cops finally showed up.
COOPER: Unbelievable. Susan, thanks very much.
Eighteen years ago this week, TWA Flight 800 crashed into the Atlantic Ocean off Long Island killing 230 people on board. The investigation, at the time, the most extensive in aviation history. Coming up at 9:00, about 15 or 17 minutes from now, CNN revisits the story and the special report witnessed the crash of TWA Flight 800. I want to give you a quick preview.
UNIDENTIFIED CALLER: Go up in the air and saw two fire balls go down to the water.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: TWA 800 exploded in front of me. I knew there were no survivors and it was kind of a sickening feeling.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I saw a bright light and white smoke plume behind it and I do believe I saw more.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There was some suspicion it was a terrorist act.
FORMER PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON: We do not know what caused this tragedy. I want to say that again, we do not know as of this moment.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The investigation was looking at almost every possibility including state actors. We thought about Gadhafi and Libya and looking at Iraq and Saddam Hussein. The president was preparing to take whatever action needed to be taken.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A huge potential crime scene.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This investigation would have been one of the largest carried out by the FBI. I had 1000 agents working on the case.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My fiancee was on the plane.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My sister with her son, 9 years old.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Our biggest concern was recovery of bodies. There were a lot of times I doubted the existence of God and said God, how and why could you let something like this happen?
COOPER: It's an extraordinary important report. Witnessed, the crash of TWA Flight 800 area at 9:00 p.m. Eastern. You're going to hear from the people who live the story, investigators, eyewitnesses and as you just saw relatives.
Coming up next, dramatic video, strangers smashing windows to rescue two young kids trapped inside a hot car. Their mother allegedly left them there while she was getting her hair done.
And the mother of a toddler that died in Georgia is speaking out through her attorney. Why she says she's living every parent's nightmare, next.
COOPER: Crime and punishment, the latest on the hot car death in Georgia. We'll have with the toddler's mother is saying, but first a much different outcome in Texas. Passersby saw a young boy and girl left in a car in a strip mall. The kids were crying. People smashed windows to get them out. The hotter left her kids in the car while she got a haircut. She reportedly begged the police not -- the people not to call police and the children thankfully were fine.
Meanwhile, in Georgia an attorney for Lee Anna Harris says she's living every parent's nightmare. Her 22 month old son is dead and her husband charged with murder. We have the latest. So the attorney for Lee Anna Harris issued a statement. What does it say?
MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It says a couple things, Anderson. First and foremost, it seems to be a plea for privacy on her behalf and also seems to be a warning not to be well, rushing any kind of judgment whit comes to the treatment of the mother. It's particularly critical of the news media, it says newspapers, television and online immediate have fostered an atmosphere in her every word, action or emotion or failure to cry in front of a crowd is scrutinized for some supposed hidden meaning and hounded Olympic bombing hero Richard Jewell when he didn't behave as some thought he should.
Later though he was accused by law enforcement and members of the media perhaps maybe being involved. He was not. He was exonerated fully but when he died in 2007 he always said he lived the rest of his life under a cloud of suspicion -- Anderson.
COOPER: There is no mention of her husband in the statement, right?
SAVIDGE: Right, and that really to me and a lot of others stood out as being the loudest not said statement. I mean, this was a woman who just a couple weeks ago stood up at the funeral of her young son and used most of that time to defend her husband and said he was a wonderful father, despite the fact he's been charged with the boy's death. So the fact that there is no mention, I mean, the letter doesn't suggest that the two are married, there is just no reference to him at all. Of course, in between then, there was a court hearing where it was revealed that they allege he was having online relationships with a number of women, even as the child was dying in that hot vehicle.
COOPER: Where does Lee Anna fit into the investigation as it stands now?
SAVIDGE: We should stress, she is not charged with anything. Again, when you pressure the authorities to say well, where is she in this investigation, they will say that she is part of the investigation but she is not under investigation. She has not been charged with anything, although, authorities at that same hearing did imply she made some odd and in their minds rather incriminating statements.
So those statements reflected such as supposedly when she was alone with her husband on the night he was charged, her saying to him, according to authorities, did you say too much? So that seemed pretty incriminating, around again, that's coming from authorities.
COOPER: And the husband is obviously not out on bail, right? He's still being held?
SAVIDGE: Correct, right. He's not out on any bail. After that hearing, it was determined he should continue to be held on the charges of murder and that bond was not given to him at that time. It appears he's going to stay there until trial whenever they may be.
COOPER: All right, Martin Savidge, appreciate the reporting. "The Ridiculist" is next.
COOPER: Time for the "Ridiculist". Tonight, there are many scandal brewing in Florida over campaign stop by Governor Rick Scott. Weeks ago the governor was campaigning for election in Tampa, but the group of uniformed law enforcement officers lined up behind them. The problem it's illegal in Florida for public employees to participate in campaign events on the clock or in uniform and an official complaint has been filed. This is a bite-sized brew. The question is did the governor's office know if the policemen were on duty or off duty? It's a duty about nothing.
But we want to show you how the governor is handling questions about it because this is where the duty hits the fan. It's a great example time honor political tradition of saying a whole bunch of stuff without ever, ever answering the question no matter how many times it's asked. All politicians do it, but this really is a matter class. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did you really think that all of those deputies were off duty?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm very proud last week the police chiefs endorsed me. I'm very proud that 40 Sheriff Haves endorsed me. I'm very proud of the support from the law enforcement, we have a 43-year low in the crime rate so we invite them to campaign events and appreciating of the ones that came.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you think it's a problem to have on duty law enforcement there?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm appreciative of those support and those who come to the event.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You didn't answer the question. Should there be discipline?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm appreciating of everybody that comes to my events and we're at a 43-year low of the crime rate. We should be very supportive of the law enforcement.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is it OK for them to be there on duty?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We police chief endorsed me, 40 sheriffs did. We have law enforcement come to a variety of events and I'm appreciative of everybody that comes to my events.
COOPER: Is the governor appreciative or two what the hell were we talking about? To throw you off track except it doesn't work? It insults everybody's intelligence. Teachers when a student asks you a question in class, keep repeating attendance is up, attendance is up. Things are looking up. Attendance is up. Doctors when a patient asks if they are dying, say you're appreciative of everybody that comes to see you.
Governor Scott was asked about this again at an event a short time ago and said his office compiles with the rules and you guessed it, he's proud that the police chief's association endorses him and people come to his events and then this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why do you think you have a reputation for not answering questions?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Gosh, I answer questions. I get -- I have the opportunity to talk to the media a lot. I love to travel to the state. It's an exciting time to be in Florida.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: I don't even know what to say. Indeed. I agree. Indeed, it is an exciting time to be in Florida. That does it for us. We'll see you again 11 p.m. Eastern for another edition of 360.