Editor's note: AC361° is a behind-the-scenes look at CNN's Anderson Cooper 360°. On AC360.com, click on the AC361° tab to learn more about Anderson Cooper, his staff, and the production of AC360°.
New York (CNN) - If there were a chemical or biological attack in New York City, Anderson Cooper would be prepared.
"I have a full-on Tyvek suit," said Cooper as he reached for the gas mask sitting on his windowsill. "There’s only a handful of us in the building who have this suit so I'm not sure who would shoot for me, or why they would think I would stay alive," he joked incredulously. "I also think frankly everyone who doesn't have this suit will try to break into my office and kill me and take the suit."
The gas mask and suit aren't the only field gear Cooper keeps in his office. Next to his gas mask is his Kevlar helmet – battered and dusty from his travels in Afghanistan and Iraq.
But what stands out in his office isn't the war gear. Instead, it's the little trinkets and mementos that tell the stories behind the stories, the reminders of his reportage.
Cooper's window view of Central Park is lined with the typical keepsakes of journalism: Emmys, pictures and gifts from fans. But tucked in between the trophies of his accomplishments is a winding line of soldier figurines, some have been knocked over. A mangled license plate from a car that he saw blow up in Sarajevo. Half of a steel street sign with the name of the former dictator Mobutu from Zaire. A wooden hand-carved bus. A small yellow doll. A poster of Hosni Mubarak with a large red X painted across his face.
“It's all damaged because people were beating it with their shoes,” said Cooper “It’s got a certain authenticity to it. It tells a story – the poster itself.”
Back in 2006 before Saddam Hussein was executed, Cooper visited his prison in Iraq.
"This is a ‘Saddam box’ that you can buy anywhere," said Cooper picking up a wooden box with Hussein's picture on the lacquered lid. Inside was a blue handkerchief.
"Saddam was obsessed with cleanliness, and he had all these handiwipes so this is one of Saddam's handiwipes."
Also rolling around in the Saddam box are a couple seeds.
"In prison Saddam had a little garden where he planted seeds and these are two of Saddam's seeds that were in a Cocoa Puffs cereal container."
Cooper joked that it took him years to start decorating his office.
"I've worked in news for 20 years and this is the first time I've put things on the wall because I always figured I was going to get fired at any moment so I never actually nailed things to the wall."
Today, collages of his press passes hang on the wall along with pictures of his family and hand-painted signs from the Congo. It’s a museum of his travels, a space filled with both memories and memorabilia from two decades of broadcast journalism.
Anderson Cooper goes beyond the headlines to tell stories from many points of view, so you can make up your own mind about the news. Tune in weeknights at 8 and 10 ET on CNN.
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