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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Untold Information about Steven Sotloff; Interview with Tony Blinken; Will U.S. Strike ISIS Inside Syria?; New Clues from ISIS Video; First Interview: American Ebola Survivor; Sources: Feds to Investigate Ferguson Police
Aired September 3, 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. Tonight, the first one-on-one interview with Ebola survivor Nancy Writebol. It's an inspiring conversation about endurance and faith. We encourage you to watch. That is in the hour ahead.
We begin, though, with late new information untold until tonight about Steven Sotloff's time in captivity. Tonight we're learning about the secret he was hiding from his captors and the faith that he kept.
Steven Sotloff was Jewish and he had dual citizenship. The family confirmed that to us today but his captors may not have known about either. The news published in a number of outlets today including in the "Jewish Daily Forward."
Editor-in-chief Jane Eisner joins us now.
So, Jane, the fact that Steven Sotloff was Jewish, it was specifically held back from being reported at the request of his family while he was in captivity, that's correct?
JANE EISNER, EDITOR IN CHIEF, JEWISH DAILY FORWARD: That's true, yes, Anderson, it was. And many of us knew about this and voluntarily decided that it was the right thing to do, to comply with their wishes.
COOPER: As far as you know, did his captors know about his dual citizenship? Because he went to school in Israel. Did they know he was Jewish?
EISNER: We really don't have any way of knowing. As it was explained to me, you're not necessarily dealing with rational actors when you're talking about ISIS and the kind of people that they are. So I think that there was really a tendency to err on the side of great caution here, and people's lives were at stake.
EISNER: And as journalist, you know, even though we have a great responsibility to report the news, we're also human beings and we shouldn't do things to endanger people unnecessarily.
COOPER: Of course. An Israeli news organization spoke with someone who had been held captive with Sotloff who said that he even managed to fast for Yom Kippur by pretending to be sick and he secretly prayed in the direction of Jerusalem, actually adjusting the angle after seeing what direction his captors were praying towards. Obviously they were praying towards Mecca.
It sounds like faith was an important part of his life.
EISNER: I was so moved by that story. Just the thought that someone would voluntarily try to observe this very holy day in such conditions. It was -- it was really very inspiring. And I -- you know, we are just still now learning about who he was, and what his commitments were, but clearly, he felt very strongly about his faith, and took it all seriously, but I think it's also important for us to recognize that this was a man who cared a great deal about the broader Middle East.
He was fluent in Arabic. He reported from Egypt and Libya and Syria. So I think he was not just a one-dimensional person. He really cared a lot about the people he was trying to cover.
COOPER: It also just shows his bravery in continuing to go to places where he knew his Jewish heritage could, you know, get him into -- get him into trouble if it became more widely known. It just shows the courage that he had in going to these places.
EISNER: You know, it's another example, I think, of the bravery of the journalists in covering this conflict. We know that Syria has been the most dangerous country on the planet for journalists in the last couple of years, and while our focus as Americans has been on Steven Sotloff and James Foley, the truth is that most of the I think 70 journalists who have died in Syria in the last couple of years have been Syrians, and they have really been especially courageous in trying to get the word out about their own country.
COOPER: And also, again, it just goes to show what kind of guy he was. I mean, so much of his reporting was focused on the impact of war on people in the region, on Muslims in the region, and people who were just trying to live good and decent lives and found themselves, you know, victimized, caught up in a war that had changed their lives forever.
EISNER: That's true, and I think that part of what we need to honor when we're honoring these journalist is that impulse. You know, the problem and the hard thing about these stories is that they may deter other people from doing this kind of coverage, and it is just so important that these stories emerge there in the most accurate and balanced way as possible and that we do the best that we can to support this kind of journalism.
COOPER: Jane Eisner, appreciate you being on tonight. Thank you very much.
EISNER: Thank you for having me.
COOPER: The Sotloff family issued a statement about their loss which a spokesman delivered. Take a look. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARAK BARFI, SOTLOFF FAMILY SPOKESMAN: He was no war junkie. He did not want to be a modern-day "Lawrence of Arabia." He merely wanted to give voice to those who had none.
Steve was no hero. Like all of us, he was a mere man who tried to find good concealed in a world of darkness, and if it did not exist, he tried to create it.
We will not allow our enemies to hold us hostage with the sole weapons they possession, fear.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, the White House, of course, has many weapons, military and otherwise, in the fight against ISIS, all that you need to fight and win a war, critics say, except one, which is clarity. A clear statement of purpose.
Vice President Biden today said the United States will follow ISIS, in his words, "to the gates of hell." His boss' recent statements on the other hand have been somewhat harder to read. Political opponents have latched on to them, political allies expressed concerns as well.
Today in Estonia, President Obama tried to undo some of that damage.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: So the bottom line is this, our objective is clear. And that is to degrade and destroy ISIL so it's no longer a threat, not just to Iraq but also the region and to the United States.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, Jim Acosta is standing by with more on that -- Jim.
Jim, the president just moments later went on to talk about shrinking ISIS. I mean, it seems like could be seen as being in conflict with what he just previously said.
JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right. We heard the president both escalate and sort of moderate his stance when it comes to what his goal is in terms of dealing with ISIS in Syria. And then the president saying he wants to go degrade and destroy the group and then went on just a few moments later to say he wants to make them sort of more manageable.
Here's what the president had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: We can continue to shrink ISIL's sphere of influence, its effectiveness, its financing, its military capabilities to the point where it is a manageable problem. (END VIDEO CLIP)
ACOSTA: Now senior administration official just as soon as the president wrapped up this news conference came to reporters including myself and said that the president was not walking back his goal of degrading and destroying ISIS, that in fact the president was just acknowledging the reality that even if you destroy ISIS and defeat ISIS, there may be remnants of that group that will eventually potentially pose a future threat to U.S. interests around the world -- Anderson.
COOPER: Was there any indication of a timeline in the president or his administration's comments?
ACOSTA: No, there was not. And he was pressed on this point a couple of times. You recall it was last week when the president said he doesn't have a strategy for dealing with ISIS in Syria yet. And so of course, now that a week or so has gone by or not quite a week has gone by, the president was asked a couple of times at this news conference, does he have a timetable? The president did not offer any specifics on when he might authorize some sort of military mission to go after ISIS targets in Syria.
And, Anderson, really that's because the president wants to come here to NATO and start lining up support, lining up a coalition to broaden really the mission for going after ISIS. He does not see it as a problem that can be solved solely with American military power.
COOPER: All right. Jim, appreciate the update, thanks.
ACOSTA: You bet.
COOPER: Want to get more now on the White House's position on this. I spoke just a short time ago with Deputy National Security adviser Tony Blinken.
COOPER: So, Tony, the president said today that the U.S. is going to degrade and destroy ISIS. He also said, though, that the U.S. can continue to shrink ISIS' influence to the point where it's a manageable problem. So just to be clear, is the U.S. plan to destroy ISIS or shrink it to a manageable problem?
TONY BLINKEN, DEPUTY NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: The plan is to destroy it. But on the way, we first need to shrink it to a manageable problem. What the president said is entirely consistent.
There's a continuum, Anderson. You start by trying to disrupt it and indeed we've already taken some actions to do that in Iraq with the strikes we've taken and then the Iraqi forces moving in to take a territory that ISIL abandoned. Then you get to the point of disrupting it so that it's moved from the toes to its heels and that's when it becomes a manageable problem. And then finally over time, with a large coalition, you get to the point of defeating it.
So what the president was talking about is a continuum. But the goal is clear. We are going to defeat ISIL.
COOPER: Is what you're describing, though, possible without U.S. military action inside Syria?
BLINKEN: What we're focused on right now, Anderson, is building an effective coalition and getting effective partners. In the first instance on the Iraqi side, we're looking at government formation which hopefully could happen as soon as next week to bring us a more effective Iraqi partner, one whose security forces are more adept and more focused, and where the Sunnis who have been acquiescent to and sometimes supportive of ISIL see that they have a stake in actually working with the government.
In Syria, we've been working very hard to build up a moderate opposition. And we are going to be taking additional measures to build them up. The president has talked about this going back some months working with Congress to build support, to train the moderate opposition. They can be the effective force on the ground in Syria. But there is a whole comprehensive approach that has to come into play.
The president is being very deliberate about building it. There is the military piece. There is the training and equipping piece for local actors. There is dealing with the financing, dealing with the propaganda and their so-called legitimacy. There's dealing with foreign fighters. All of that need to be brought to bear and that's what we're working on doing.
COOPER: But, I mean, you talk about, you know, training forces inside Syria. You talk about arming forces inside Syria. As you said the administration is going to talk about that for months and what we hear from people from people from the Free Syrian Army is it's not happening in any large scale degree. That they are outgunned, outmanned on the battlefield against ISIS and not to mention against the Assad regime.
BLINKEN: Anderson, all of this takes time. And it takes a tremendous effort. But what we're seeing now, and it takes a tremendous effort. But what we're seeing now and what we haven't seen before is that virtually all of the countries in the region, including countries that don't typically get along, or find common cause, are more and more united in dealing with this threat because it's an immediate threat to them.
And as those resources begin to be marshaled, as they get into this effort, as they get into supporting what we're trying to do with the moderate opposition, what we're trying to do with Iraqi security forces, I think you'll see these efforts become more and more effective.
COOPER: Ultimately, though, you would agree that ISIS -- if the goal is to defeat ISIS ultimately that ultimately you cannot defeat ISIS until you defeat them in Syria as well as in Iraq.
BLINKEN: Yes, you have to shrink their space everywhere. It has to be shrunk in Iraq so that they have less and less room to maneuver, less and less support indigenously. And ultimately, the same thing in Syria, and again the president was very clear today. This is an effort that's going to take time. It's going to take a significant coalition and we are deliberately comprehensively putting in place the pieces to do that.
COOPER: Tony Blinken, appreciate your time. Thank you.
BLINKEN: Thanks, Anderson.
COOPER: Let's talk more about the strategy and the criticism, whether it's fair or not, with CNN political commentator and "Atlantic" media contributing editor, Peter Beinart. Also chief national correspondent John King.
Peter, you said that the political mood is changed. The president is now under overwhelming pressure to take more action against ISIS. What exactly changed the political mood? Is it the executions of the Americans?
PETER BEINART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It's absolutely the executions of the Americans. If you remember last fall when we were talking about Obama potentially launching strikes in response to Assad's chemical weapons using Syria. Most Americans were against it because it seemed remote to them, it didn't seem to deal with American national security.
But I think what ISIS has done by beheading these two Americans is take an elitist force from which most American were very disengaged, and make it a popular discourse. And there is a sense of a real tremendous gut-level anger that I think is now there and the way you can tell is that candidates are starting to talk about this on the stump.
Over the summer you didn't see Republicans attacking Obama over his Syrian policy. Now in New Hampshire, in Georgia, they're starting to run campaign ads to that, or even Democrats are starting to call for military action.
For better or for worse, these beheadings have changed the political climate among Americans.
COOPER: John, what do you think about how the White House has handled this? Because, as Peter says, it's not just John McCain and Lindsey Graham. You're hearing now from Democrats criticizing the president.
JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, from a communications standpoint even some Obama friends would concede they have significant problems, some would say even a disaster on their hands. From a policy standpoint, most of them say, actually, the cautious approach is the right approach because if you're going to go after targets in Syria, which everybody assumes ultimately will happen, you better get your targets right. You better trust your intelligence on the ground. You better work on a safety plan, rescuing the pilots, and things like that. So from a policy standpoint, the caution is probably actually well
placed, from a political standpoint when you mentioned, you know, today degrade and destroy and then manageable. Again, if you talk to the experts, they'll say that's not a conflict. That the political solutions here, do you see political reform in Iraq or political reform in Syria happening during the Obama presidency, happening in the next 10 or 15 years?
That's a problem for the president. But from a communication standpoint, when you have, as Peter noted, liberals, not just conservatives, not just frequent Obama critics, liberals saying do something now, Mr. President, that tells you about the political environment. So they need to start communicating and most people believe the president needs to do what Tony Blinken just did with you, Anderson.
Explain this in a calm, more rational way for the American people, talk about the immediate challenge but also acknowledge this is a generational challenge like taking down al Qaeda.
COOPER: Peter, you think the president, though, is trying to do the right thing tuning out the drumbeat and trying to give as much thought as possible before sending U.S. aircraft over Syria, for instance.
BEINART: Right, because the basic reality is that we cannot take territory from ISIS from the air. We can hurt ISIS but somebody else on the ground has to take that territory. And not very many people have a great answer about who that is going to be. The people we would like it to be, the Free Syrian Army, are weak and oftentimes we can't really tell so easily where they end and where the jihads begin.
Now you can see that that would have been different had Obama gotten more behind them a few years ago but we are where we are and so if you want to try to bomb ISIS that have those gains on the ground not go to Bashar Assad, not go to other jihadists, since after all al Qaeda has another affiliate, has a real affiliate, al-Nusra, there which is pretty strong, then you actually have to be much better -- in a much better position in terms of trying to strengthen the moderates in Syria than we probably are right now.
COOPER: Yes, and John, because it's interesting, you just heard from Tony, as you said, who, you know, is painting this picture that the U.S. has been supporting the moderate opposition, what moderate opposition there is left in Syria for a long time now. But the facts on the ground seem to be different. I mean, we've heard complaints all along from the Free Syrian Army and others that they are not getting the arms, they're not getting the support, that they are desperately in need of.
KING: And so as Peter just laid out, that's why the administration is saying we need some time to put this together. We need some time to say, if we're going to go after the military targets, the leadership targets inside Syria, what are we going -- what's going to change on the ground if we are successful and how do we keep that from -- you know, from a short-term good becoming a long-term bad. And that's the dilemmas the president said, look, there is what I'll
call the Hammurabi reflex right now among, I think, the American people and definitely across the political spectrum as Peter just outlined. And so the White House is under that pressure, so the question is what do they do? Can they continue to say we need more time?
I'm told that yes, the president -- look, the president was taunted by these guys. The barbarians who beheaded these journalists are directly taunting the president of the United States. His approach is to take his time and build the coalition but also don't be surprised, Anderson, if they also do look for targets of opportunity inside Iraq if one or two pop up. They have to take some action in the short term that reminds people they're looking for targets.
COOPER: And they're certainly doing that in Iraq already. We're seeing more airstrikes just in the last couple of days but again Syria is the question right now.
John King, thank you. Peter Beinart.
A quick reminder, make sure you set your DVR so you can watch 360 whenever you want.
Coming up next in this hour, we're going on for two hours tonight, new information in this hour about what the intelligence is learning about the Sotloff murder video. Late details from inside the investigation about who these people are, who these masked killers are.
COOPER: Well, this time last night we were reporting on the murder of Steven Sotloff and the video cautioning that has not been authenticated, though experts sadly expected that it soon would be. Today of course it was and now the study of that tape and others is taking on even more significance in the fight against ISIS.
Brian Todd tonight explains.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): CNN learned U.S. intelligence is doing a forensic examination of the execution videos of Steven Sotloff and James Foley. They are looking at the man who may be the executioner, his mannerisms, voice, his facial features. A British official says it appears to be the same man in both videos. In the Sotloff video, notice the accent when he utters this phrase.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You, Obama, have to gain --
TODD: Compare it to a similar phrase in the Foley video.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Any attempt by you, Obama.
TODD: But a week and a half after saying they were close to identifying him, British officials had no comment when we asked if that's imminent. How can they narrow down who they're looking for?
AKI PERITZ, FORMER CIA COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: The eyes are key.
TODD (on camera): Right.
PERITZ: The eyes are absolutely key. They're going to be looking at the shape, the supposed droop in all these frames, both in August 19th and September 2nd.
TODD (voice-over): During the Iraq war, Aki Peritz investigated every militant beheading video for the CIA. He says in these videos the tilt of the militant's head is distinct, the way he holds his knife in his left hand and Peritz noticed something else.
PERITZ: He laces up his boots in a very strange manner. He doesn't lace them up all the way in both September 2nd and August 19th. He laces them up half way, which is a very strange sort of tick for an individual to do.
TODD: But is this the man who really executed Foley and Sotloff? Peritz doesn't think so. In both videos the moment of death is not shown so it's not clear who's killing either man.
PERITZ: If you actually look at the videos that have at the very end, which -- where they're holding up their next hostage, his hands are clean and his tunic is clean suggesting he didn't do it.
TODD: As horrific as these videos are, analysts say they are actually a recruiting tool for ISIS.
PAUL CRUICKSHANK, CNN TERRORISM ANALYST: People with this extreme ideology have enormous pornographic attraction to these brutal acts. It inspires them, it energizes them. They feel that ISIS is strong. It can stand up to the super power. It can stand up to the United States. It's a force to be reckoned with.
TODD (on camera): And new information from U.S. officials about these two videos. They say the U.S. intelligence community has determined that the Sotloff video was shot separately and later than the Foley video, so they were not shot in the same session.
Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.
COOPER: There is obviously still a lot to learn that intelligence communities around the world are examining in this tape.
Joining us now is CNN national security analyst, former White House Homeland Security advisor, Fran Townsend, also Philip Mudd, former senior counterterrorism official at both the CIA and also the FBI.
So, Fran, the process of identifying who this guy is and also maybe several people, it's got to be incredibly difficult. Is there a chance they won't be able to identify him or are you pretty confident they will? FRANCES TOWNSEND, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: I think they
probably will, Anderson. Remember what -- they've got this -- these samples of his voice and they will go through quite scientifically breaking down sort of how he makes pronunciations the way the syntax he uses. And then they'll take those samples and they'll bounce them against, you know, millions of hours worth of databases of counterterrorism conversations that they've collected over the -- more than the last decade.
And so the likelihood that they will be able to take these known samples and identify them against what they have already captured is pretty good. Remember, it's not just the United States working alone there. They are obviously working with their British counterparts and other foreign allies around the world. And so I'm reasonably confident that the forensics will help then to actually definitively identify the man who appears in this video.
COOPER: Phil, it seems hard to imagine that someone in Great Britain where it seems this -- you know, one of these people in the video is at least from, doesn't already recognize that voice, I mean, family members, friends. I would imagine more than one person already recognizes that voice, no?
PHILIP MUDD, FORMER SENIOR OFFICIAL, FBI AND CIA: Fran, this is really a tragedy. The tragedy here is, look, somebody knows who this guy is. We've got only -- not only one data point, we've got two, we've got two over the course of weeks with the level of English that he speaks, you got to presume he went to school there, he's got friends and family, he's got a social circle.
So I agree with Fran. He's going to be identified over time, possibly by intelligence means. Somebody might slip over time, for example, and identify them in an intercept but the fact is a couple of weeks have gone by where tens of thousands or millions of Brits have seen him. At least one of them has got to know who he is.
Let me tell you for one second why that's important. It's not just tracking him in Syria. It's the fact, are there people on the ground who gave him money, who provided him false documents, who made his passage through Europe and Turkey possible. Is there a support network that continues to be active. That's what I'd be worried about now, not just the identification or location of him in Syria.
COOPER: And Fran, we know, I mean, to Phil's point, we know in past cases, even the cases of Americans who have gone over, there have been people willing to pay for them to travel. We heard from the mother of one American who ended up dying overseas who said that somebody was paying for her son to go to Kenya, her son ultimately ended up in Somalia and she was suspicious about why someone would pay for her son to go to Kenya. So there are these networks.
TOWNSEND: That's right, Anderson. And once you identify him, you'll then work backwards. You'll find what is the pipeline, the network that he used. How is he recruited from presumably Great Britain. Who is his associates? What mosque did he attend? Was there a radical preacher there? What is the network? And frankly, that's of critical importance to the Brits. Right. The Brits have just raised their terrorist threat level. They are clearly concerned that this network extends back into Great Britain where there are sympathizers and supporters.
And it is critical for them, not simply because this guy may have been the executioner and certainly participated in the execution but because of the network that probably remains behind and the pipeline that continues to feed into Syria and actually a greater threat back into the Great Britain.
COOPER: Phil, I mean, a number of the foreigners who have died in Syria, in Iraq, I mean, they died in battles. So it's not as if they're being held because they are foreigners and are being used in a special capacity. You think it's very likely this person, the people who are responsible for the killing of Jim Foley and Steven Sotloff may very well die on the ground fighting before any Western nations actually find them?
MUDD: I think there is a chance we'll find them. I think the chance is relatively low because in my belief he's put in front of the camera not because he's a senior ISIS guy but simply because he can communicate with an audience in Europe and United States. If he's a low level guy, my guess about what's going to happen to him is we're not going to identify him as an individual and hit him with a drone. He's going to be mixing with people, bad guys, who are going to be hit either by an aircraft, maybe as a group by a drone or maybe they die in a firefight in Syria.
He is not coming home, though. The guys I watch are passionate about the fight. They're not only passionate, their friends around them are telling them to stay. He's going to stay until he dies.
COOPER: Phil Mudd, appreciate you being on. Fran, as well.
As always, for more on this story and others, you can go to CNN.com.
Just ahead tonight in this hour, in her first interview, American missionary Nancy Writebol describes her battle to survive Ebola. She told me how close she came to death and what she believes saved her life.
COOPER: Well, tonight, a moving firsthand account from Ebola survivor Nancy Writebol.
First, there are new numbers to tell you about on the toll the Ebola epidemic has taken so far.
The World Health Organization says that now, more than 3,500 people have been infected in West Africa and the death toll has topped 1,900. Liberia has been hit hard, with many people under quarantine and food and medical supplies scarce.
Now a video shot by Reuters shows just how angry and desperate people have become. Take a look at this video.
COOPER: The man in the red shirt there on the left is carrying a stick. According to Reuters, he had tested positive for Ebola and then had left from the quarantine center and went to a local market, apparently looking for food. Watch what happens next as masked medical workers try to get him.
COOPER: Crowds are ac -- are obviously very angry at him. Medical workers surround him, try to talk him back into coming and then put him forcibly into an ambulance that took him back into the quarantine zone. Obviously, there was a struggle here.
Obviously, this is a great danger to those medical workers because any kind of contact with fluids from a -- from the person who is positive can be a huge risk and end up killing some of those medical workers.
It happened in Liberia's capital, Monrovia, where now a third American has contracted Ebola. Today, we learned his name. He's an American doctor named Rick Sacra of Massachusetts.
In a statement tonight, his wife said she is obviously very concerned and is praying with family and friends for his recovery.
Dr. Sacra was working with the same missionary group as the other Americans who got sick, with SIM USA.
Dr. Kent Brantly and Nancy Writebol, as you'll recall, were airlifted home and treated in Atlanta. Both of them survived.
This week, Nancy Writebol sat down with me for her first interview.
Take a look.
COOPER: First of all, Nancy, how are you feeling?
NANCY WRITEBOL, EBOLA SURVIVOR: Great. I am just regaining strength each and every day.
COOPER: You look great. You look like you're glowing.
N. WRITEBOL: Thank you.
COOPER (voice-over): Nancy Writebol is full of laughter these days and relief after surviving the Ebola virus, one of the deadliest on Earth.
(on camera): Were you afraid? N. WRITEBOL: You know what, I was not afraid.
COOPER (voice-over): Nancy says she wasn't afraid because of her faith. She and her husband, David, are missionaries. They've been married for 40 years and for the past 15 years, have served in missions all over the world.
In August of 2013, Nancy and David found themselves faced with an opportunity to serve in West Africa.
N. WRITEBOL: We just really sensed that that's where God would have us to go.
COOPER (on camera): Do you know what it was about -- about Liberia that drew you?
N. WRITEBOL: Well, part of it was the mission hospital.
COOPER (voice-over): They both worked at the mission hospital. After the Ebola outbreak, Nancy began working in the Ebola ward, making sure doctors and nurses were suited up properly before entering the isolation unit.
(on camera): Did you see Ebola patients?
I mean did you start to see the -- the imp -- you know, the effects of Ebola on -- on the people when you were there (INAUDIBLE)?
N. WRITEBOL: Yes. I actually had the opportunity more to talk with families. And that was what was hard, because when you saw patients that weren't responding and you knew that their time was limited and -- and we talked about Ebola as -- as Ebola. But you know what, Ebola has names and it has faces and it has families.
DAVID WRITEBOL, HUSBAND OF NANCY WRITEBOL: Ebola is also a very isolating kind of an affliction, kind of a disease, because immediately, you -- you become infected, you're placed in a place that you cannot get to anyone else and no one else can get to you.
COOPER: The isolation of the disease became a reality to Nancy and David in July of this year, when she suddenly became ill.
(on camera): Had you thought it could possibly be Ebola?
N. WRITEBOL: No. I -- I didn't -- it didn't worry me at all.
COOPER: Even though you were working in a unit of Ebola patients?
N. WRITEBOL: Yes. And I mean even now, I -- I look back and I don't really know how I got it.
COOPER: So they said to you, you know, what, look, we're going to test you for Ebola?
N. WRITEBOL: Um-hmm. So I said, OK.
N. WRITEBOL: And so they drew the blood, of course, and David came home pretty quickly and he came into the room and he said, Nancy, I need to tell you some things. I said, OK. And he said, Kent has Ebola and I just -- I was just sick.
COOPER: Dr. Brantly?
N. WRITEBOL: Yes. When David told me. And then after, I kind of regrouped from that. He said, and, Nancy, you do, too.
And I remember I could hear people at the front door. And I remember getting up and I remember that David wanted to put his arms around me and, of course, I had fever. And I just said, don't, don't. I don't want you to touch me because, you know, it's touching, who knows?
And -- and so I said...
COOPER: That must have been so hard.
N. WRITEBOL: It was. And so I said, but, David, it's going to be OK. It's going to be OK.
COOPER: But you couldn't be there?
D. WRITEBOL: I couldn't be there.
COOPER: You couldn't hold her?
D. WRITEBOL: No. No. And I didn't -- I did go in with PPE to the house, you know, and just to be near her and to see...
COOPER: PPE is the...
D. WRITEBOL: The personal...
COOPER: -- the whole suit?
D. WRITEBOL: -- the personal protection equipment, yes.
D. WRITEBOL: And just to be near to her, to -- to touch her, you know, through a gloved hand. And that and just to tell her that I loved her and that she was so beautiful. I still tell her that. And I will never stop, because she's the best part of my life.
And so I love her. And so I wanted to be near her as much as I could.
COOPER: Did you plan for -- for her death?
Did you -- did you think...
D. WRITEBOL: We talked about...
COOPER: -- did you really -- did you do -- did you think... D. WRITEBOL: Yes.
COOPER: -- it would come to this?
D. WRITEBOL: Well, that would -- that's one of the difficult things about that is if -- if she did die, what would we do?
You know, how would we -- because there couldn't be a -- there couldn't be a, you know, bring the body back home and have a funeral and that kind of thing.
COOPER: Did you know those conversations were going on?
N. WRITEBOL: No.
N. WRITEBOL: I'm glad.
COOPER: You're glad. Did you think about that, about, well, if I die, can I -- will my body be brought back to America?
N. WRITEBOL: I never really thought about it so much, only when they put me on the airplane. And I knew that I was saying good-bye to Dave. And not knowing whether I would live the plane ride.
COOPER (voice-over): That plane ride was in early August, after Nancy was given a dose of the experimental drug, ZMapp. She arrived at Emory Hospital on August 4th and soon her condition began to improve.
N. WRITEBOL: All the supportive care that they were doing was amazing. And so I would just say that the serum is what -- I don't -- I don't know that you can say only the serum is what works. The supportive care is -- is really critical.
COOPER: After three weeks of care at Emory, Nancy was finally declared free of the Ebola virus.
(on camera): Do you remember what you said when you left isolation?
N. WRITEBOL: I do. "To God be the glory."
COOPER: There was never a moment of why me?
N. WRITEBOL: No. I don't think so. Well, maybe moments of what next, but not necessarily why me?
COOPER: And now there's word another American doctor has contracted Ebola.
Do you know him?
N. WRITEBOL: Um-hmm. Well.
COOPER: When you heard that, what did you think?
N. WRITEBOL: I was just very saddened.
COOPER: I guess the question everybody would ask is, is would you ever go back?
N. WRITEBOL: I would.
COOPER: You would? You would go back to Liberia?
N. WRITEBOL: I would. I offered to go back yesterday.
COOPER: Did you really?
N. WRITEBOL: I did.
COOPER: Even now, to go back even while the Ebola crisis is (INAUDIBLE)?
N. WRITEBOL: I offered to go back to help take care of our doctor.
COOPER: Did you really?
N. WRITEBOL: I did.
COOPER: When you heard that Dr. Sacra became infected, you -- you volunteered to go back?
N. WRITEBOL: I -- yes, I said I would go back. And David looked at me...
COOPER: You hadn't discussed that?
D. WRITEBOL: Yes, that's...
N. WRITEBOL: We had not discussed that.
D. WRITEBOL: Well, in a -- yes, we would -- we would be willing to serve wherever we could do the most good, wherever -- wherever God would lead us to that, if it's -- if it's Liberia, there, if it's someplace else, we -- at this stage, we don't know.
N. WRITEBOL: Or if he says stay, we'll stay. We don't know.
COOPER: But you'll serve in one way or the other?
D. WRITEBOL: Absolutely.
N. WRITEBOL: Yes. We will serve.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
COOPER: Now, their faith is remarkably strong. The American doctor who is now infected and is still in Liberia, it's not clear how he got it, because he wasn't directly treating patients who were known to be positive with -- with the Ebola virus, just as Nancy herself, still, to this day, does not know how exactly she contracted it.
Perhaps, she believes, from talking to family members of people who were infected. Maybe some of those family members were infected and that's possibly how she got it. But really, at this point, they still don't know. We're going to have more of that interview in our next hour of 360.
Just ahead, though, tonight, breaking news in the Michael Brown shooting case, late word that the Justice Department is preparing to open a civil investigation into Ferguson's police department. Details on that ahead.
COOPER: Welcome back. We have more breaking news, late word that the Justice Department is ready to launch a civil investigation into the Ferguson, Missouri Police Department. The probe is going to focus on police department practices and training.
Now today the grand jury that is going to decide whether or not to charge Officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of Michael Brown met for the third time. Tonight a legal battle is also raging over Brown's juvenile court records.
Two media outlets have petitioned for the release of those juvenile records. The lawyers were in court today, but the hearing in St. Louis, a court official said that Michael Brown had no serious felony convictions as a juvenile.
The judge didn't give a timeline for her decision and joining me to talk about it, CNN legal analysts, Jeffrey Toobin and Mark Geragos and also legal affairs commentator, Areva Martin.
So Jeff, what do you think about this? I mean, do you think these two media organizations have a case. Should Michael Brown's juvenile records be released?
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: You know, it kind of pains me to say it, Anderson, as a journalist because I'm always pro-disclosure, but I think the answer is no. The law in Missouri is that juvenile cases remain secret and there really is not an exception because we're all really curious.
I think a lot of people, particularly on the political right want this information to discredit Michael Brown and prove he somehow had this coming. But I don't think that's a valid justification at all. The law is the law and I don't think it should be disclosed at this point.
COOPER: Mark, one of the lawyers for the news organizations argued the primary reason to keep juvenile records confidential is protect a child from becoming an adult saddled with a stigma of a criminal record, but that expired when Michael Brown died according to this lawyer, do you agree with that?
MARK GERAGOS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: That is an argument because the basis for sealing the juvenile records is look, everybody has indiscretions as a youth and we don't want to have somebody saddled with that in adulthood.
In this case, the interesting thing is going to be whether, and I think it will turn, if there is a criminal case filed, then I think under Missouri law, you will see if they haven't already released the records, the defense will get the records at that point.
And that doesn't mean that they will be admissible, but they will go in, they will make a petition in front of that judge where this -- the judge who supervises the juvenile court and will get access to the records because they will argue that that is something they need that can lead to admissible evidence.
So whether the news outlets win it now or if there is a criminal case, the judge has to reveal it later. I think it's going to come out.
COOPER: Areva, you say the records are completely irrelevant. Do you believe that and also if it turns out that Officer Wilson somehow knew about Michael Brown or knew of any potential cases he had as a juvenile?
AREVA MARTIN, ATTORNEY: You know, I think that's the question that's puzzling and bothering so many people, Anderson, is how could Officer Wilson had known anything about Michael Brown or his record at the time he stopped him that would have justified the excessive force that was used in this case.
And I think also there is a concern about, you know, who is a legitimate party here, who has a legitimate interest in those records? So Mark talks about the defense perhaps petitioning the court for those records.
And that seems even more plausible than the media who says they want to find out if the claims that Michael was a gentle giant as his parents said is true or not and they want to examine his character.
That really concerns me because it plays into the theory you have to be a perfect victim in order to get justice in some of these high- profile police cases and I think we saw it in Trayvon Martin.
We've seen it in some of these other cases and that's really troubling, I think to the African-American community and lots of people who are concerned about what is happening in police forces with respect to African-American males.
COOPER: Jeff, in terms of what was said in the court, court officials said that Michael Brown was never convicted of a serious A level or B level felony as a juvenile. Even given that, it's possible he could have been charged with one and just never convicted of it or he could have made a plea deal for a lesser charge. I want to be clear what was actually said in the course. TOOBIN: I think what was said in court was said with considerable precision for just the reason you're suggesting. It is important to say he was not a felon. He has never been convicted of a felony. I think that's an important part of the public record in this case.
But what his relationship, if any, to the criminal justice system remains pretty mysterious at this point, whether he's ever been charged with a felony, whether he's plead guilty to a misdemeanor or anything else or even had a conviction in a family court setting, that is unknown at this point.
GERAGOS: You know, Anderson, the way that it was parsed today leads me to believe there is a mechanism in the juvenile courts even in that state where by even if you're charged, if you stay clean for six months or a year, depending on the jurisdiction, they will dismiss the charge.
They have it. It's kind of a juvenile diversion and it sure sounded to me based upon the language that we use in court that that's probably what transpired here.
There was no conviction because once you complete this informal or formal diversion. They had two methods that then the record basically, there is no conviction and you can literally say I've never been convicted of anything.
COOPER: Mark Geragos, Areva Martin, Jeff Toobin, appreciate the discussion. Thank you.
Up next, a sad new chapter in the Bernie Madoff story. Details ahead.
COOPER: Let's get you caught up on other stories we're following with Randi Kaye has a 360 Bulletin -- Randi.
RANDI KAYE, CNN INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, after months of fighting, Ukraine's president says there is progress on a cease- fire plan with Russia, but Moscow is downplaying it and President Obama is skeptical.
Andrew Madoff, the son of Ponzi schemer, Bernard Madoff, has died of cancer at the age of 48. It was Andrew and his brother, Mark, who committed suicide in 2010, who turned in their father to federal agents. Bernard Madoff is serving 150 years in federal prison for taking $20 billion from investors over two decades.
And four days after he was cut from the St. Louis Rams, Michael Sam, the first openly gay NFL player has joined the Dallas Cowboys. He'll be part of their practice squad -- Anderson.
COOPER: All right, Randi Kaye, thanks very much.
In the next hour of 360, tough talk from the Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel on ISIS and also more of my interview with Ebola survivor, Nancy Writebol. We'll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)