CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL
Live From the Headlines
Aired April 18, 2003 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANNOUNCER: Now you see him, now you hear him. But U.S. intelligence has reasons to believe you aren't really seeing or hearing the truth in the latest Saddam tapes.
Once forbidden prayers and a once forbidden demonstration with an anti-American edge. Welcome to the new Baghdad. Still dangerous, even more complicated.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: God bless America.
ANNOUNCER: A wave and a thank you from the former prisoners of war and questions about what to do with thousands of Iraqi POWs.
LIVE FROM THE HEADLINES with Anderson Cooper at the CNN Center in Atlanta.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, everyone, from the CNN Center in Atlanta. I'm Anderson Cooper sitting in for Paula Zahn.
(INTERRUPTED FOR CNN COVERAGE OF BREAKING NEWS)
COOPER: There is a lot of other news to cover, and still to come this evening, desperation and determination -- the search for loved ones in Iraq. Prisons hidden behind walls -- even underground.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) and on into the service shaft we went. A light shining ahead with the crowd behind us straining to see in the dark.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: And a little later on, "Shock and Awe" -- not just a military campaign anymore. We'll be right back.
COOPER: In a moment, we are going to have more on the Laci Peterson investigation, but right now we go to Iraq. Pictures of Saddam Hussein showed up today on one of the Middle Eastern news networks. They aren't new pictures. They are actually new, old pictures -- at least according to Abu Dhabi TV.
The question tonight -- just how old are they? Abu Dhabi TV says the pictures were taken on April 9 in one of Baghdad's northern neighborhoods. Now what makes that date significant is that April 9 is the day U.S. forces were pulling down Saddam's statue in central Baghdad.
So, if you believe this tape was shot on April 9, that means just blocks from where crowds were swatting at his epigy with their shoes, Saddam is meandering through a large, supportive, crowd -- smiling, waving, and stroking kids, believe it or not. Abu Dhabi TV also broadcast an audiotape of Saddam's speech.
National security correspondent, David Ensor, has been talking with U.S. officials about the tape's authenticity and joins us now from Washington.
David, what are you hearing?
DAVID ENSOR, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, they are saying that it is possible those two things happened on the same day, but they are decidedly skeptical.
ENSOR (voice-over): The question for U.S. intelligence -- were these two images recorded on the same day? Was Saddam Hussein rallying supporters in one Baghdad neighborhood even as his statue came down in another part of town on April 9?
The al Azamiyah neighborhood is just over four miles from Firdos Square, where U.S. forces helped bring down the statue. Assuming this is Saddam and if it really were recorded on April 9, then clearly he has survived the attempt to kill him on the evening of April 7. So, apparently, did his son Qusay -- seen on the new tape just to the right of his father.
There were reports Saddam Hussein might have been in Al Azamiyah April 9, but CNN could not find anyone in the neighborhood Friday who remembered seeing him there since March.
U.S. officials are skeptical too -- partly because of their analysis of this other tape. Released earlier, it was said to be Saddam Hussein on the streets of Baghdad on April 4.
Not true, say U.S. officials. They believe it was most likely taped in early March. They've based that on certain changes in the background to buildings and the like. Note also the relatively warm clothes worn -- suitable for early March. By April, it had gotten much warmer.
Administration officials from the president on down are saying what matters is not whether the dictator still lives but that the regime's control has collapsed. But to U.S. military and Intelligence officials, Saddam's fate does matter.
KEN POLLACK, BROOKINGS INSTITUTION: As long as Saddam Hussein is out there, The United States is not going to be finished with this war -- at least in the sense that, as long as Saddam is out there, there may be loyalists who are willing to fight for him.
ENSOR: As for the audiotape -- also broadcast Friday by Abu Dhabi television -- U.S. intelligence will be able to say soon whether it's Saddam Hussein's voice or not.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): And we are confident that victory, at the end, will be ours.
ENSOR: Trouble is that whether it's his voice or not, there may be no way to assess when it was made. So the audiotape may not provide any clue as to whether Saddam Hussein is alive or dead. Something that obviously U.S. officials would very much like to know -- Anderson.
COOPER: Definitely that. Still a lot of questions to be answered, David Ensor. Thanks very much -- from Washington.
The coalition is whittling down the names on its Most Wanted list right now. The four of clubs, Samir al Najm, was grabbed by Special Forces today.
There he is. He's a senior leader of the Ba'ath Party -- or was -- and believed to have insider information about how it operated.
That puts four of the Pentagon's most wanted under lock and key right now, including two of Saddam Hussein's half brothers, as well as Amer Hamudi Hasan al-Saadi, Saddam's former science adviser.
The deck is getting smaller by the day.
The man who could be Iraq's next leader, at least temporarily, is making the rounds around Baghdad. He is certainly not alone. CNN's Nic Robertson was there as Ahmed Chalabi made his first appearance.
The political stumping, apparently, already starting -- Nic.
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It certainly is, and perhaps where we've seen it come out strongest on the streets is behind religious leaders here. We saw it today outside a mosque in Baghdad. Of course, this the prayer day in one of Baghdad's central mosques, one of the most significant religious mosques in Baghdad, but a joint Shia and Sunni Muslim rally there. Posters calling for the U.S. coalition forces to leave Iraq. Posters very much echoing and the rhetoric inside the mosque today at prayers, echoing exactly the sort of statements that we were hearing from the imams in the mosques when Saddam Hussein was in power, that is the United States is here in Iraq as some sort of Zionist plot and it seems as if these religious leaders now, while trying to build support now in this post-Saddam era are trying to do it on the back of the same message. Perhaps they really haven't moved their political thinking forward.
The best thing they can see this time to rally the crowds, at least, is to call to get the United States out of Iraq. There is certainly a feeling definitely within the Shia community that they want a religious leadership inside Iraq.
Now, Ahmad Chalabi is returning exile from Iraq. He was last here in 1958, and he chose today to be the day when he would begin to put forward publicly his own political platform. He said that he was here to build a civil society, and he said he believes that was the road for democracy. He said he wasn't putting himself forward for any particular position of political leadership, but only here to help.
Now, the way he outlined the immediate political future here was for an interim government to be formed, for that interim government to outline a new constitution, for a committee to oversee that new constitution, for them to change it, then for that constitution to go for a public referendum. Once it was voted on and passed, that constitution would form the basis relations for a new government. And he said that process would perhaps take about two years to complete.
The situation for Ahmad Chalabi, however, is a particularly challenging one, because unlike these religious leaders that we're seeing emerging on the streets and some other minor political figures coming forward who have lived in Iraq through Saddam Hussein's regime, Ahmad Chalabi is widely viewed here as an outsider, and there is a great deal of animosity towards those people, those political figures who in the view of many Iraqis lived the good life outside of Iraq and are only choosing to come back now. They've never had the hardships of the regime.
So for Ahmad Chalabi and others like him from his Iraqi National Congress Party returning to Iraq to build a political base is going to be a particularly tough job, Anderson.
COOPER: Nic, just very briefly. I was interested to see the demonstration which was motivated by one of the religious leaders in Baghdad. Under Saddam, these imams were preaching whatever Saddam wanted. They were told what to say, what not to say, who to criticize, who not to criticize. But they're still seen as legitimate by most Iraqis?
ROBERTSON: They are definitely seen as legitimate right now. Perhaps in the Shia community in particular, they make up 60 percent of the population. In their religious city south of Baghdad, Najaf, there is a lot of movement to coalesce the Shias behind one leader. There's infighting, although on the surface they would deny that, because the Shia community sees their political strength coming from their religious unity. They believe that they will be divided by the United States and it's what they see as the United States' political efforts to shape the future of Iraq, and they're trying to stay united. But behind the scenes, there is huge power struggles going on, and it's what we're seeing in the communities around Baghdad, in Saddam City, which has now been renamed Sadr City. These religious leaders trying to bring their communities with them, to get a political mandate at this time, but that is really beginning to take shape very much, Anderson.
COOPER: All right. Politics have begun. Nic Robertson in Baghdad, thanks very much.
And in the new Iraq, people are free to look for the disappeared, those who have simply vanished during Saddam Hussein's rule. In northern Iraq, U.S. military officials are examining about 1,500 unmarked graves near the city of Kirkuk. Thousands of Kurds from the region went missing during Saddam's reign, but there's also speculation that it could be simply a military graveyard holding Iraqi soldiers from the Iran-Iraq War or perhaps even the 1991 Gulf War. The investigation is ongoing.
Meantime in Baghdad, today Iraqis literally clawed their way into a series of tunnels and ducts beneath the city, desperately, sadly hoping their loved ones were inside. ITN reporter Tim Rogers was there and he brings us the incredible scene in this exclusive report.
TIM ROGERS, ITN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It only takes a word, and in this chaotic city, this could be the end result. Thousands of people crowding into an underpass because someone believes they've heard voices from inside the walls. And with expectation building, we were cheered on to witness the event.
These men are trying to force their way into a service duct, convinced they'll find missing prisoners inside. In Baghdad, most people believe there are underground prisons that have yet to be found, and the suggestion that one has been discovered can cause mass hysteria. "There are people in there," they were shouting. "Freedom! Get inside!" They smashed and ripped their way in with their bare hands.
ITV News cameraman Brad Vincent (ph) was lifted up by the crowd, so eager were they to share the moment.
Pushing us up and on into the service shaft we went, a light shining ahead with the crowd behind us straining to see in the dark. And in another shaft they called ahead, but the search was in vain. This time the tunnels were empty.
(on camera): It's an indication of the desperation that many of these people feel that they've got at this in such a frenzy. Rumors abound about underground prisons in the city, but so far none have been found. These people are determined not to give up.
(voice-over): Their search will go on, and so their repeals for the world to help them uncover this country's dark secrets.
Tim Rogers, ITV News, Baghdad.
COOPER: Remarkable. Still to come this evening, new developments this evening in the Laci Peterson case. Her husband has been arrested and Modesto police will be holding a news conference at 9:00 Eastern time. 9:00 p.m. Tonight. We'll speak with Laci Peterson's cousin, Candace Rocha and a forensic pathologist right after this break.
(INTERRUPTED FOR COVERAGE OF BREAKING NEWS)
COOPER: Still to come this evening, Iraqi POWs. There are literally thousands of them still, and some have been set free tonight. What should the U.S. do with the rest of them? That's the question we're going to ask. Some answers right after the break.
COOPER: As we told you earlier today, the U.S. released almost 900 Iraqi war prisoners, but 6,800 more remain still in American custody. Question, what to do with them? We're going to talk about that with Ruth Wedgewood. She's professor of international law at Johns Hopkins University. She joins us now from Washington. Professor, thanks for being with us. What do you do with them? Thousands of POWs, some of them no doubt important, some of them just foot soldiers. How do you determine it? What do you do?
RUTH WEDGEWOOD, INTERNATIONAL LAW PROFESSOR, JOHNS HOPKINS UNIVERSITY: Well, you're entitled until to hold POWs until the end of the conflict, until active hostilities are over, so so long as the U.S. and allied forces are still mopping up pockets of resistance in Baghdad and elsewhere, they are still entitled to hold those prisoners without question.
Ultimately, you call through them to see if there's anybody who you're interested in as a suspected war criminal. If you have Fedayeen who have taken part in attacks out of uniform, masking themselves as civilians or people who had...
COOPER: And is there any timeline for how quickly you have got to call through them? I mean, does the International Red Cross set some sort of a timeline?
WEDGEWOOD: Well, there's a timeline on bringing them to trial once you have them in custody, of three months, assuming that they're lawful combatants. It's assumed they will take a reasonable period of time. There is not a stated length of months.
COOPER: I don't know if you saw the CENTCOM briefing earlier this morning, but a question was asked and sort of basically avoided by -- very, very skillfully avoided, but avoided nonetheless -- about what is the status of these I guess POWs, these top Iraqi leaders who are all their faces are on this deck of cards. Are they POWs? Are they unlawful combatants? Do we know? Has it been clarified?
WEDGEWOOD: Well, anybody who's in the chain of command, the military chain of command counts as a combatant. So even if you're not bearing a weapon, so long as you're in that military see-to chain you are lawfully detained as a combatant. Others of them may be detained really in a sense as prisoners who have violated the laws of war or of so-called crimes against humanity or genocide, who may not be such combatants. But...
COOPER: I mean, for instance, you have got these two half- brothers to Saddam. You have the science adviser to the regime. Can you question them endlessly? Or do you have to abide by Geneva Conventions, very strict rules about what they are made to say and not made to say?
WEDGEWOOD: Well, Geneva, by the way, imposes no limit on humane interrogation. The prisoner only has to give his name, rank and serial number, but you can ask him any question you want to and repeatedly. So long as the way you do it is not unpleasant, says Geneva, unequal or insulting. So you can question Saddam's half- brothers until the cows come home.
COOPER: But with this science adviser, for instance, a determine -- I suppose has already been made, although I guess publicly I haven't heard it, whether or not this guy is an unlawful combatant or whether he is a prisoner of war. And if he's an unlawful combatant, I mean, basically, the gloves are off. They can go to Guantanamo, they can be taken to one of these undisclosed locations we keep hearing about. Do you think that determination has been made? Do you know what it is?
WEDGEWOOD: I don't know what the determination is. If you had a scientist who had developed the weapons with the intention that they be used and they included biological weapons, which are always unlawful, or chemical which are unlawful in first strike, then they would indeed be complicit in the violation of a law of war. You had in World War II members of the Japanese cabinet who were held responsible for violations on the battlefield even though they weren't technically in the chain of command, on the theory that they should have taken cabinet action -- level action to prevent mistreatment of American POWs, so you can have some diagonal lines that also count.
COOPER: We only have about 45 seconds left or so. As you look over how things have gone thus far, any concerns really jump out at you? What's number one on your list of concerns, things you are watching very closely?
WEDGEWOOD: Well, I think there was concern that there wouldn't be enough logistical support to handle hundreds of thousands of Iraqi prisoners, and strange to say, many of the Iraqi combatants just faded away. We have far fewer prisoners than we had supposed there would be Iraqis in the field. So that's good news for a force that's working fast and striking deep. I do hope we're able to call them for people who have knowledge or weapons of mass destruction, where the caches may be held.
COOPER: All right, Ruth Wedgewood, international law professor at Johns Hopkins. Appreciate you joining us tonight. Thanks very much.
Coming up in the next hour, the very latest on the arrest of Laci Peterson's husband Scott. We don't know exactly why he's been arrested, what he will be charged with. But he has been arrested, he is in custody and there will be a press conference about an hour from now. The second hour of LIVE FROM THE HEADLINES starts after the headlines.
ANNOUNCER: LIVE FROM THE HEADLINES. The timeline behind today's stories. Tonight, how the day unfolded.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We all would like to thank Americans for the tremendous support we've been getting, and we're looking forward to coming home as soon as we're possible can.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANNOUNCER: On the eve of their homecoming, seven American heroes offer simple thanks. Meanwhile, word of hundreds of Iraqi prisoners on a journey of their own.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
POLLACK: Saddam is really on the ropes right now. He is almost out for the count, and he's got to find a way to regroup some kind of strength around himself.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANNOUNCER: But is it really him? Tonight, a new tape raises questions about the fate of Saddam Hussein.
Just days away from joining the U.S. and China at the table, has North Korea already raised the ante?
LIVE FROM THE HEADLINES.
COOPER: Good evening from CNN Center in Atlanta. I'm Anderson Cooper. Thanks very much for watching. A lot going on in this hour.
Over the next half hour, we'll take a look at the day's timeline of events, hour by hour, in the order in which they happened.
Also this hour, in the midst of Passover and just days before Easter, we'll take a somewhat biblical look at the situation in Iraq. Iraq long has been known as the cradle of civilization. Exactly what does that mean, and what's the significance of it? We'll find out. The question, does the Gulf -- does the second Gulf War also signal the beginning of man's end? Some theologians may think so. Stay with us for that. Iraq, is it man's beginning or end? That comes up a little bit later.
Let's kick off our timeline. In the 4:00 a.m. hour Eastern time, engineers say they hope to have Baghdad's biggest power plant operational by tomorrow. The Iraqi capital has been without electricity for the past two weeks. Tempers are flaring. What kind of impact exactly has it had?
CNN's Michael Holmes reports on a city literally in the dark.
MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): ... been reported on the electricity crisis here, most of it from inside sterile and idle power stations. There've been pictures of the military helping, or locals doing repairs.
But stroll the streets of Baghdad, talk to those at the blackout's ground zero, and you hear how deep the frustration runs.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): My people is angry, because no water, no electrical power. Where are the collection for us? Where the promise? Where this?
HOLMES (on camera): Two weeks without electricity has many effects on a people. Food spoils, life stalls at dusk. And as these people try to cope with the aftereffects of a war in their city, there is fear too.
(voice-over): Perhaps no better expressed than by a child.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She's afraid.
HOLMES: Adults freely admit to us it's affecting their state of mind too. Listen to this office worker.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator: I feel depression when it is pitch dark. We have candles and kerosene lamps. We smell the fumes all night.
HOLMES: Sentiments echoed by this taxi driver.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Put yourself in a dark room. What do you feel? (UNINTELLIGIBLE), fear, an absence of security. This is what they promised us with Saddam gone? Where is what they promised us?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): At night, it is like you are in a pit, a prison. It is like a grave.
HOLMES: This woman, a doctor and mother, speaks of her patients.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: During the night, and the waiting list is very long, because there are many of Cesarean section postponed because of the generator. We have to close it for a period of time.
HOLMES: There's an economic impact of this. For this store owner, no electricity, no work.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Where will we get the money to eat? Hunger will push them to steal and loot. It will push them to many things.
HOLMES: The daily street protests here are about many things, but near the top of the list, electricity.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's very terrible, terrible. Everything in the house is by electricity, and everything is stopped, even water.
HOLMES: And yet, outside a cafe, we find acceptance too.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They say no gain without pain.
HOLMES: Michael Holmes, CNN, Baghdad.
COOPER: The Iraqis have certainly embraced their newfound right to speak out, haven't they?
In the 6:00 a.m. hour, a special appearance by American heroes. Seven U.S. soldiers, all of them former prisoners of war, appeared on a balcony at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany. They were waving and smiling, and, boy, did they look good. One of them thanked Americans for their support given the troops in Iraq.
Meanwhile, officials at nearby Ramstein Air Base said the soldiers would be heading back to the U.S. in less than 24 hours. The stop at Landstuhl was the first leg of their trip home. Officials say things are looking good.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COL. DAVID RUBENSTEIN, COMMANDER, LANDSTUHL REGIONAL MEDICAL CENTER: These seven soldiers are in excellent condition. Their injuries are relatively minor. Three have been shot, have suffered gunshot wounds. The most serious of the three, of course, you saw was in a wheelchair.
All three are going to recover very well, and they have an excellent prognosis. Likewise, their spirits are very high. They are working with each other, they're working with the debriefers, and they are in very good spirits.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Good to hear.
Also in the 6:00 a.m. hour, a closer look at what appears to be -- appears to be -- a mass grave site southwest of Kirkuk, at least unmarked graves. Coalition forces say they'll help Iraqis determine who exactly is buried in the shallow graves, which, by some accounts, are at least 12 years old.
CNN's Jane Arraf has more.
JANE ARRAF, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Within these shallow graves, a deep mystery. Townspeople have always known this cemetery on the edge of a military base existed. But until last week, they weren't allowed here and never even dared ask who was buried here. And that's the mystery.
(voice-over): To solve it, local people this week dug up at least three of the graves. But the exhumations provided few answers.
(on camera): There's no question there are a lot of people buried here, and it could be almost anyone, including Iraqi soldiers. Many of the hundreds of thousands of young men killed in the Iran-Iraq war and the 1991 Gulf War remain unidentified.
(voice-over): This group of Kurdish police guarding the area near the base were convinced it was a military cemetery, and they dug up one of the graves again to prove it.
What they saw didn't answer the question. It's a civilian, said one man. No, it was military, said the others. We saw the uniform and a red beret.
It was the third time in two days this particular grave had been dug up. Earlier in the day, one Kurdish man set out to show that whoever had been buried here long ago was actually a Kurdish civilian.
It took a bit of work. When his hands failed him, he asked for a shovel. But the remains, almost unrecognizable, proof enough for some here that they were looking at a Kurdish victim of Iraqi government atrocities.
The cemetery is in the shadow of a house built for Chemical Ali, Ali Hassan al-Majeed, the man responsible for the worst of the campaign to put down the Kurds. Almost every Kurdish family here has relatives who disappeared in the 1980s from that campaign.
Hadija Raza Faqi Ali (ph) came on a bus from a village near here when she heard there might be a mass grave. Her husband was rounded up with 37 other people, she says, from the village of Kalaputi (ph) in 1988, never to be seen again. She says her son was also killed in 1996, by an Iraqi mortar attack on another Kurdish village. She says she's lost her vision in one eye from 15 years of crying.
She believes she'd recognize her husband's body from the blue shirt he was wearing when he disappeared.
"It's like dropping a pebble into an ocean," she says when asked whether she thinks she'll ever find his body. An ocean of sorrow, and perhaps an unsolvable mystery.
Jane Arraf, CNN, near Kirkuk in northern Iraq.
COOPER: And there is a lot of sorrow still to be discovered.
In the 7:00 a.m. hour, an announcement that another one of Iraq's most wanted is now in custody. CENTCOM says Samir abd al-Aziz al-Najm was a regional Ba'ath Party leader in Baghdad. He's believed to have firsthand knowledge of the party's central structure. So far, four of the Iraqi most wanted are in coalition custody. They include two half-brothers of Saddam Hussein.
In the 8:00 a.m. hour, a purportedly new videotape of Saddam Hussein. It's a new old videotape, however. A separate audiotape was also released. Abu Dhabi Television says they were made the day Baghdad fell into U.S. hands, April 9. The question is, are they the real deal?
CNN national security correspondent David Ensor is live from Washington -- David.
ENSOR: Well, Anderson, the working assumption of U.S. intelligence is that it will probably turn out that these are indeed tapes of Saddam Hussein. And the real question is, when?
Now, Abu Dhabi Television says the source that gave them the tape assures them it was on April 9 that it was recorded. And that is crucial, because the U.S. tried to kill Saddam on the night of April 7 and still thinks it may have succeeded. If this tape was really April 9, that would prove otherwise.
Here's what the reporter from Abu Dhabi had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JABER OBEID, ABU DHABI REPORTER: We have the man who has shot the footage and recorded the speech. He's willing to come forward and testify if he was guaranteed his safety. And we have the rumors which was -- which spread around since the 9th of April. And we have eyewitnesses who have seen this, and they were there when the event took place.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ENSOR: Now, U.S. intelligence is looking at this closely, but there's skepticism because of this tape. This tape was put out a little while of some -- a week or two ago, and said to have been of Saddam Hussein on the streets of Baghdad on April 4.
But U.S. intelligence officials, having looked at it closely, based on some of the buildings in the background and the clothes worn and a few other issues, say they're convinced this tape was actually recorded in the first week of March, a month earlier than claimed.
So the question obviously about both tapes now is, when were they made? Were they made back in early March, when Saddam Hussein was still in control of Baghdad? Or were they made, as claimed, in early April?
And for example, on April 9, on the same day when the statue of Saddam Hussein was being torn down from that square in the middle of Baghdad, was he, at the same time, four miles away (UNINTELLIGIBLE) -- with -- at a rally? That's the question. We don't know the answer yet.
COOPER: Yes, it certainly seems odd that in one part of town, Saddam Hussein's statue is being torn down and pelted with shoes, and in the other part of town, he's being greeted adoringly by a mob of people. I guess it remains to be seen.
How long does it normally take intelligence officials look at these things, to analyze it? I mean, you mentioned their feelings about this earlier tape that was released. It's got to be a very difficult, labor-intensive process.
ENSOR: Well, that's right. I think the audiotape that we haven't mentioned yet, but there was an audiotape released also today, through Abu Dhabi TV, of Saddam Hussein, supposedly, talking. That, they'll probably be able to tell us tomorrow, the next day, whether it's his voice or not, to their satisfaction.
There's nothing on the audiotape, however, that gives any time reference, so we may not be able to know when it was recorded from the audiotape. Now, they'll obviously be doing this video analysis. It took about, I think, 10 days on the last one, maybe two weeks.
COOPER: All right.
ENSOR: But you may not get a definitive answer.
COOPER: Right. All right, we will wait and see. And we should also point out, we saw that guy from Abu Dhabi TV talking about how there are people in the neighborhood who would swear it would happened on that date. I think Jim Clancy earlier today was reporting they have talked to people in the neighborhood who say it was not on that date. So, again, conflicting reports, still to be determined.
David Ensor, thanks.
In the 9:00 a.m. hour today, more on the SARS outbreak in China. Health officials there say they think the deadly disease is not transmitted in water or in the air, but rather by contact with a contaminated toilet seat.
Meanwhile, a report of a cover-up in Beijing. According to a correspondent with TimeAsia.com, doctors there say SARS patients were taken out of isolation wards just hours before visits by the World Health Organization. They were allegedly transferred to locations where they couldn't be observed by inspectors. An alarming report.
Also in the 9:00 hour, as we look back at the day that was, North Korea made what seemed like a very troubling declaration, very troubling, that is, until, well, just a couple hours ago.
CNN senior White House correspondent John King joins us now to explain exactly what happened -- John.
JOHN KING, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, I'll try. It's still a bit of a confusing story. But earlier today, quite a bit of alarm. Tonight, not so much so. The controversy is this, the North Korean news agency put out a statement in English saying that it had reached the final stages of reprocessing some nuclear fuel rods.
Now, that would be a dramatic step, because if those fuel rods are reprocessed, it leaves North Korea much closer to being able to make additional nuclear weapons.
Later tonight, though, State Department officials say they have gone back and retranslated, based on the Korean-language version put out by North Korea, and they say that is a much less dramatic statement, that what North Korea is saying is that it is at the point where the next step would be reprocessing, not reprocessing yet.
Now, why is this important? The United States is due to participate in talks early next week in Beijing, China. Chinese officials, North Korean officials, and U.S. officials trying to bridge the gap to come up with some diplomatic solution to the months-long standoff over North Korea's nuclear program.
Because of the statement this morning, the White House says it will reconsider whether those talks should take place. White house spokeswoman Claire Buchan is with the president in Crawford, Texas, and she said this earlier today, quote, "We are consulting with other interested states, and once we have a clear set of the facts and the views of our friends and allies, we'll make a decision as to how to proceed. So we're evaluating the statement, and we're consulting with others."
The others include Tokyo and Seoul, of course, two key parties that the White House wants to bring into any dialogue with North Korea down the road. Senior officials tonight saying this appears to be a mixup in the translation, and they tell us they believe those talks will go forward.
But they still want to have some more consultations, again, with Japan and South Korea before having those breakthrough talks, at least, perhaps, the beginning of dialogue with North Korea, early next week in China, Anderson.
COOPER: Man, who would have thunk it? A confusing statement from the North Koreans? I'm stunned, I'm stunned, John.
I got to ask, though, this -- you know, they've agreed to multilateral talks, which seems to be a pretty major step. You said it may happen. How multilateral are we talking about? How many countries involved?
KING: Well, at the outset, just three countries. And that is a concession from the Bush administration, but also a concession from North Korea as well. North Korea had insisted on a one-on-one dialogue with the United States. The Bush administration said no, this issue of North Korea's nuclear program is an international issue.
Now that China has agreed to help, the Bush administration is grateful for that. So round one, if it takes place, will be China, North Korea, and the United States. But we are told that the U.S. position will be, A, that North Korea must agree to disavow its nuclear weapons program, and that, B, if you have a second round of consultations, at that point, the key allies, Japan and South Korea, must be brought into the discussions.
COOPER: All right, John, we'll let you go, break out the Korean dictionary, and figure out what's going on. We'll check in back with you later on tonight. Thanks very much.
When we return, the timeline takes us up to 8:00 hour, some stunning developments in the Laci Peterson case. We're going to go live to Modesto for the latest. Scott Peterson is in custody. We'll have a lot more. Stay with us.
COOPER: Well, looking back at the day that was, in the 6:00 hour, just two and a half hours ago or so, a huge development in the case of Laci Peterson.
Let's go straight to CNN's Mike Brooks, who's standing by live from Modesto, California. Mike, bring us up to date.
MIKE BROOKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, as we said in the last hour, Scott Peterson is in police custody and under arrest and being brought back here to Modesto by the Modesto police. He was arrested in San Diego sometime today.
Now, earlier today, the -- there was a lot of speculation going around the Modesto of exactly where Scott was. There had supposedly had been Scott Peterson sightings in Modesto, some in San Diego, was out by the house yesterday, and they said that he was there cutting the grass there last week.
What we do, and -- we do know, and we have been able to confirm that he was arrested in San Diego, is in custody of the Modesto police, and is being brought back here to Modesto.
Now at 6:00, in less than an hour, the Modesto police will hold a news conference. A short time ago, they put out an advisory that said there has been "a significant change" in the Laci Peterson investigation.
So we assume that this is one of the major invest -- major leads now. And also, the fact that they may have some return on the DNA samples that were sent to the California Department of Justice lab in Richmond, California, on the remains of two bodies that were found on Sunday. The remains of what authorities are calling a full-term male child was found Sunday afternoon, and on Monday about midday, the torso of a female was found about a mile away.
Both were on the shoreline of the San Francisco Bay along a dog path in Port Isabel (ph). Now, this is just north of Berkeley Marina, where Scott Peterson alleges that he rented a boat and went out fishing on the day that Laci Peterson disappeared, Anderson.
COOPER: Mike, we know -- let's talk a little bit about what we don't know. We know Scott Peterson has been arrested. We know he's in custody. We don't know what he's being charged with, correct?
BROOKS: We -- that's correct, we don't know exactly what charges are going to be brought against him. Now, we know right now that -- and March 6, the Modesto Police Department changed the Laci Peterson disappearance from a missing person case to a homicide case. So there is a possibility that he could be charged with murder. But we will find out, hopefully, in the -- coming up in the press conference with the Modesto police, Anderson.
COOPER: We also do not know at this point whether or not authorities have positively identified the two sets of remains that were found, correct?
BROOKS: That's correct. DNA samples of both the child and of the woman were sent to the DNA lab for the Department of Justice for the state of California, which is in Richmond, California. Now, they said it could take -- the returns could take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks.
But I do know, and our upcoming (UNINTELLIGIBLE) guest, Dr. Wecht, can probably talk a little bit more about exactly what goes into that process. But they can come back, if they do have a good sample, a nuclear sample as opposed to a mitochondrial sample, they can come back and say with pretty good specificity that it was -- that the two remains were related. So we hope to hear from them about that also, Anderson.
COOPER: Well, Mike, you mentioned Dr. Cyril Wecht, a forensic pathologist who talked to us in our last hour. He kindly stayed on. And Mike, we want you to stay with us, maybe join in on the discussion.
We're going to bring in Dr. Wecht right now.
Dr. Wecht, how long is it going to take, or theoretically, how long would it take, to identify positively these two sets of remains, this baby child and this male and female?
DR. CYRIL WECHT, CORONER, ALLEGHENY COUNTY: They have excellent DNA people. I know some of them personally and have been involved with them professionally on some programming. So I'm sure that whatever expertise is available, they will be using it, and obviously, on a 24-hour crash basis, the baby, Sunday night into Monday, the woman Monday.
I have a feeling that identification has been established, whether it's mitochondrial, the baby to the mother, whether it's cellular, typical nuclear DNA. I also suspect that Scott Peterson's DNA has been ascertained, and that that pattern is available to them. The police undoubtedly would have collected a specimen from him sometime in the past that would have been submitted to the lab.
So they've got Scott Peterson's, they'll have Laci's from the body, and then they'll have the baby's.
I think that we're going to hear that the identifications have been established.
Insofar as the arrest is concerned, that, of course, gets into all kinds of legal discussions, i.e., I do want to make this observation. I heard somewhere, and in the past, I'd heard something about cement blocks or so on, molds for blocks. I just want to emphasize, I think that fits in perfectly with the fact that the body had to have been weighted. Cement blocks almost certainly were used. And that fits in again with what we talked about as to how some parts of the body might have become disarticulated.
And it also fits in with Scott Peterson telling the world that he was fishing there, because the world was never going to find that body. That body was never supposed to surface. (UNINTELLIGIBLE)...
COOPER: Yes, and we should point out where it was found, it was about two miles away from the location Scott Peterson had talked about.
WECHT: Yes, yes, I mean...
WECHT: ... he's not, he's not an imbecile, you know, I mean, he...
WECHT: ... he -- he -- he was pretty complacent and cocky. But he did not know hydrodynamics and body postmortem decomposition.
COOPER: Dr. Wecht, I wanted you to stand by, and also Mike Brooks stand by. We have to take a short break. When we come back, I want to continue this discussion with Dr. Cyril Wecht, forensic pathologist, and Mike Brooks in Modesto, California. We'll be right back.
COOPER: We're continuing our discussion on the Laci Peterson investigation with Dr. Cyril Wecht, forensic pathologist, also Mike Brooks in Modesto.
Mike, I believe you have some information on what evidence was collected from the two sets of remains that were found.
BROOKS: That's correct, Anderson. The DNA samples that were sent to the California Department of Justice DNA lab, of the male remains, the femur bone, the large bone of the thigh, and some muscle tissue were sent. And on the female torso, it was a tibial, or shin, bone and a piece of muscle.
I'd like to ask Dr. Wecht, these kind of samples are very, very dense bones. They say that they were looking for these kind of dense bones are the best kind of samples. And I'd also like him, did -- why they would have specialists come in, because they were trying to determine exactly how long these bodies had been in the water. What can experts tell by the torso, and how can they determine how long these bodies had been in the water?
WECHT: First, your DNA question. As I had commented several days ago, and then, of course, we all know this in forensic pathology, bone and muscle, deep-seated muscle, muscle deep in the thigh, or the psoas muscle, a big muscle back toward the vertebral column, those are prime specimens to be submitted to the DNA laboratories by the pathologists in cases of bodies that are decomposed.
The- -- there's no blood. The organs and the soft tissues are extensively decomposed. And if it were possible to do DNA on them ever, it would require quite a lot of time to clear them, to remove the contaminants by physical and chemical processes, to get at some of the compounds that have formed that can obfuscate the DNA results.
So bone is best. And what they do is, they just fracture it and get out some of the marrow. And the muscle, if it's deep-seated, then they've got a chance of getting good nuclear DNA there.
With regard to the determination of how long the bodies -- the body has been in the water, it is my belief that the best way, although it may seem not very scientific, is to talk with as many people who have been involved in the business of recovering bodies from this particular area, this particular body of water, the forensic pathologists who do the autopsies, the divers, the police, the firemen, the med techs, what dead bodies look like when you recovered them, where you knew how long they had been in the water.
The alluvialist, which was the specialist referred to some days ago, you know, alluvium is, you know, the deposition of clay and silt and sand, where bodies of water have a solar velocity, and so on.
I got to tell you, we have three big rivers here in Pittsburgh. We don't have the ocean. We've never known anything about calling in an alluvial specialist. I'm not being critical. Certainly you call upon anybody that you can think of that might give you some information.
Maybe what they wanted to see was if there were any kind of earthen material in or on the body that came from a particular place that might give them the ability to say, Aha, this body had to have been deposited at this particular point, because that kind of sand or so on found in the GI tract or on the body or the clothing or so on is not present where the body ultimately was located.
I don't know, but I don't see how, insofar as postmortem decomposition of the body, anybody is going to be able to do a better job than the forensic pathologist. And there again, it is going to be intelligent guesswork, but it is not going to be anything like a scientific calculation.
COOPER: All right, well, hopefully, a lot of our questions will be answered in about half-an-hour or so. We are anticipating this press conference by Modesto police. We'll be bringing that, of course, live.
All right, Larry King is going to be doing a lot on this story in-department. Dr. Cyril Wecht, appreciate you joining us. It was really fascinating listening and hearing your expertise.
And, Mike Brooks, appreciate your continued work on the story. We'll check in with you later.
We'll be right back after a short break.
ANNOUNCER: From modern Iraq to ancient Mesopotamia, coalition forces cross into ancient lands, fighting a war in the cradle of civilization.
BRUCE FEILER, AUTHOR, "WALKING THE BIBLE": This part of the world where the Tigris and Euphrates come together down in Basra and Nasiriyah is exactly first where civilization began tens of thousands of years ago, where people stopped wandering from place and place and first began cultivating these rivers and agriculture. And it's also where the Bible began.
ANNOUNCER: What is the Biblical significance of Iraq?
Armageddon: Do recent events in the Middle East foretell the coming of the apocalypse? Or have doomsday scenarios run wild? Prophecy and Iraq.
The looting of the Iraqi National Museum: Is a part of humanity's memory lost forever? And what about Ur, Babylon, Nimrud? Are U.S. troops protecting these ancient treasures? And is more looting to come?
This half-hour, LIVE FROM THE HEADLINES: Iraq, man's beginning and end?
COOPER: Well, right now, of course, it is hard to think of Iraq other than a country now involved in two wars with the United States and a nation ruled for many years and abused for many years by Saddam Hussein.
But the region has an extraordinarily rich Biblical history. And, tonight as Good Friday is observed throughout the world, we want to bring into focus how a region so embattled by war has such an important place in the history of the world.
For details, our senior political analyst, Bill Schneider, joins us now from Washington -- Bill.
WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: Anderson, Iraq is a country of deep religious and historical significance, not just for Muslims, but for Christians and Jews as well.
SCHNEIDER (voice-over): Babylon, the name conjures up Biblical images of power and corruption, wealth and decadence. What was once Babylon is now Iraq. The Greeks called it Mesopotamia, the land between the rivers: the Euphrates, where ancient Babylon was situated, and the Tigris, site of modern Baghdad.
This week, the first meeting of Iraqis to plan a new government was held near ancient Ur, the city of Abraham, the father of prophets for Muslims, Christians and Jews. This was the fertile crescent, where human beings first took up agriculture some 10,000 years ago, then, as now, on irrigated land, location, according to legend, of the Biblical Garden of Eden. This was where civilization began, the first alphabet, the first system for measuring time, the same one we use today, the first legal code, tablets containing the Code Of Hammurabi, founder of Babylon, and the first taxes.
You can find references to Babylon throughout the Bible, like the Tower of Babel, which historians say actually existed. Babylon's King Nebuchadnezzar destroyed the first temple in Jerusalem in 586 B.C., sending the Jewish people into exile. "By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down," the psalmist says. "Yea, we wept when we remembered Zion."
These references didn't escape Saddam Hussein, whose Republican Guards included a Hammurabi Division and a Nebuchadnezzar Division. But where did the notion of Babylon as the seat of extravagance and corruption come from? Most likely from the Book of Revelation, which describes the whore of Babylon, bedecked with gold and jewelry. And on her forehead was written a name of mystery: Babylon the great, mother of harlots and Earth's abominations.
SCHNEIDER: Some evangelical Christians believe the war with Iraq is the precursor to the end of time and the second coming of Christ.
Now, the Book of Revelation describes God's anger poured out on the great river Euphrates, so the kings can move their armies through the river valley en route to the battle of Armageddon, the final showdown between good and evil -- Anderson.
COOPER: Bill, you talk about the view of evangelical Christians. What about from Muslims, the significance of the area?
SCHNEIDER: Well, sure. Baghdad was the center of the Muslim world for some 500 years, from the 8th century to the 13th century. It was the seat of power of the caliph, the heir to the Prophet Muhammad, who claims spiritual authority over the entire Muslim world. While Europe was in the Dark Ages, Baghdad and the Muslim world were a center of science and culture.
COOPER: And I guess it's in Najaf where one of the relatives of Muhammad is said to be buried. So, obviously, history very much alive in the region. Bill Schneider, thanks very much.
For more on the Biblical importance of Iraq, let's turn to our guest in Washington, Akbar Ahmed. He is the chair of Islamic studies at American University. He's also the author of a new book "Islam under Siege: Living Dangerously in a Post-Honor World." Thanks for joining us so much. Let me ask you, as you see it, history very much is alive for the people of Iraq. They often will point to the importance to Baghdad, not only for people from Iraq, but also for the larger Arab world. Explain, if you can, the significance, the import that it has in today's views.
AKBAR AHMED, AMERICAN UNIVERSITY: Immense significance.
For the Muslim world, Baghdad symbolizes the height of Muslim civilization, a capital of great splendor, wealth, and knowledge. Don't forget that some of the greatest scholars of Islam, like Imam Ghazali, for instance, who lived 700, 800 years ago, synthesizing some of the debates that are still resonating today about modernity, about Islam, about mysticism. These scholars and saints lived in Baghdad.
And it had immense symbolism for the rest of the Muslim world, which looked to Baghdad. And when Baghdad was destroyed in the 13th century by the Mongols, a lot of people then talked about the apocalypse and about the end of time and about the battle between good and evil, as we're hearing today.
COOPER: It's interesting. Religion so often is used to divide people, yet there are some commonalities, in particular the view of Abraham both among Muslims and Christians and Jews.
AHMED: I'm delighted you raise this issue, because we often hear of the clash of civilizations between the West and Islam. What we don't hear of enough is the strong links that exist between these three great faiths, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.
And Abraham, of course, the patriarch, the prophet, is revered and respected in all three religions. In Islam, for instance, my own grandson is called Ibrahim (ph). Ibrahim is, of course, Abraham in Islam. And he's considered, in a sense, also a father of the tribes that eventually became Islamic. So there is this strong bond between these faiths. And I believe it is possible to start looking at these bonds in terms of how are we to have dialogue between these faiths.
COOPER: I don't want to get too specific, but how do you do that? In this time where there is so much division, how do you try to embrace, or use history, in a sense, to embrace our commonality?
AHMED: Just as history divides, history can be used to bring people together. I know and I've been part of rabbis and imams and Christian priests who are talking, and who are talking in what they call an Abrahamic dialogue.
Similarly, we have people like Osama bin Laden, who have used the Christians and the Jews as enemies. In fact, he exhorts his followers to go and kill Christians and Jews. So there's obviously a debate. It's a much more nuanced, sophisticated debate than very often we hear, which is simply the West vs. Islam. It isn't like that. It's much more complicated, much more nuanced.
COOPER: Some hopeful words. I'm afraid we're out of time, but it was really interesting to hear your perspective. I appreciate you joining us, Akbar Ahmed. Thanks very much for coming in.
We have time for a short break.
When we come back: Do recent events in Iraq foretell Armageddon? Some people actually think so. We're going to talk to an expert on religion when we return.
COOPER: Well, Armageddon, the very word, understandably, conjures up feelings or foreboding. The Bible refers to it as a great battlefield, where the powers of good and evil clash at the end of the world. Well, given Iraq's Biblical significance, it is no wonder why some see a connection between the war and the Biblical prophecy.
Joining us now from Winston Salem, North Carolina, is Charles Kimball, a professor of religion at Wake Forest University and an ordained Baptist minister. He's also the author of: "When Religion Becomes Evil."
Thanks for being with us, Professor Kimball.
CHARLES KIMBALL, AUTHOR, "WHEN RELIGION BECOMES EVIL": Thank you, Anderson.
COOPER: Armageddon, why do so many, particularly evangelical Christians, see it in the cards in this region?
KIMBALL: Well, really, for about the last 30 years or so, there have been a large number of evangelical and fundamentalist Christians who have discerned what they thought were the signs of the end times, interpreting different parts of the Bible, particularly the Book of Revelation and some passengers in Daniel and Ezekiel, as somehow portending the end.
Actually, back in 1991, if people went back and looked closely, they would see that a number of these same people had everything figured out and every Bible verse attached to some event that was going on. And, of course, it didn't play out that way. But there are a number of people who were worked into something of a frenzy right now, thinking that this may be -- we may be near the end.
COOPER: And Armageddon, when you hear that term, everyone probably brings to it different images. When you think of it, what do you see?
KIMBALL: Well, it certainly is used symbolically and maybe literally. There's a debate about that, certainly, among Christians, about a plain of Megiddo, a hill of Megiddo, in the northern part of Israel today. And, certainly, there's a lot of language in the Bible about a conflict or a major conflagration, a battle, that takes place at this place. And so the name Armageddon is associated with that. Many Christians associate it with the second coming of Jesus and, ultimately, the victory over the forces of evil and a millennial reign of peace. Of course, many other Christians don't interpret these events so literally. They see them much more symbolically, as many have throughout the centuries. So there's a lot of debate among Christians themselves on these matters.
COOPER: Whether it's interpreted literally or otherwise, do you think it helps or hurts the political weight that the U.S. interacts or the way people believe the U.S. should interact with powers in this region?
KIMBALL: Oh, this is one of the issues I take up in the book "When Religion Becomes Evil," that one of my concerns, having spent a great deal of time living and working in the Middle East, is with Christians, particularly Protestant, evangelical, fundamentalist Christians, who spend a great deal of their time and energy piecing together what they think is the end time scenario.
And, in fact, some of them are actually opposed to peace efforts, say, on the Israeli-Palestinian front, because it's counterintuitive to them theologically, whereas, I read the New Testament, and many others do, too, to see that, first and foremost, Christians should be engaged in a ministry of reconciliation. Jesus talked about blessing of the peacemakers. And so the first concern should be trying to help meet people in their need and trying to work in whatever ways we can to alleviate suffering.
If Jesus comes next Tuesday or 20 years from now, that really is God's business. I think Christians ought to be about the business now of alleviating suffering and reconciling people who are at odds.
COOPER: All right, Charles Kimball, the book is "When Religion Becomes Evil." We appreciate you joining us tonight. Thanks very much. It was interesting.
KIMBALL: Good to be with you.
COOPER: Coming up next: new developments this evening in the Laci Peterson case. Her husband has been arrested. And Modesto police will be holding a news conference at 9:00 Eastern time, in about 12 minutes.
Right now, we're going to talk when we come break from this break with CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin, just after the break.
BROWN: Here's a breaking story we've been following. Larry King is going to take it up in about 10 minutes from now.
That is also -- at the 9:00 hour, Eastern time, 6:00 on the West Coast, there's going to be a press conference in Modesto. We'll be, of course, bringing that to you live. And then Larry is going to have a panel of experts discussing all the implications to it. What we can tell you is this. Scott Peterson is in custody, arrested. We do not know the charge. We do not know whether or not authorities have positively identified the two sets of remains, a child, a full-term fetus discovered last Sunday, as well as the torso of a female discovered on Monday some two miles or so where Scott Peterson said he went fishing the day his wife disappeared.
Again, we do not know what he has been charged with, but he is in custody, is arrested. And we're following that very closely.
On the phone, Jeffrey Toobin, CNN legal analyst, joining us on the phone from Connecticut.
Jeffrey, what are you going to be looking at? What should we be looking at in this press conference?
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I think the most important piece of news that we'll get in the press conference is what precisely the charge is, because there are different ways murder can be charged.
And the most important question that will be at least initially addressed is whether this is murder with special circumstances. In other words, will he be charged with murder that is eligible for the death penalty? That, to me, will be the most important news that we'll get once the press conference happens.
COOPER: OK, I want to follow up on that, but, first, I want to introduce our other guest, Dr. Cyril Wecht, a forensic pathologist, who has been with us for the last two hours.
Dr. Wecht, I know you've got to go in a few minutes, so I just want to touch base with you.
As you watch this press conference, what is foremost in your mind? What questions do you want answered right now?
WECHT: I believe, holding this press conference on Good Friday, 6:00 in the evening, indicates to me they're going to tell you they have identified these bodies through DNA.
I agree with what Mr. Toobin pointed out. We already know that he has been arrested and that he's going to be charged with murder. And I'm certain it's going to be special circumstances. And there's just no question, from my involvement in other California murder cases over the years. So I think that's what they're going to tell us.
I don't think they're going to go into any specific evidence as to what they have, whether they found pieces of cement to tie in to cement molds that might have been used for weights and things like that. I don't think they're going to discuss that.
COOPER: As far as from your standpoint as a forensic pathologist, however, what is key that prosecutors and investigators need to figure out about these sets of remains? Is it possible to find out the cause of death? WECHT: In my opinion, they will never know scientifically the cause of death, because either she was knocked out and thrown into the water and she drowned, or she was strangled and suffocated. I don't believe she was shot or stabbed, or, if they find the skull, that they're going to find that she was beaten with multiple fractures, although that's a possibility.
I think that the cause of death is only going to be ultimately inferred through an exclusionary process, ruling out everything else, the finding of the body in the water. And I don't think that is going to be a formidable obstacle for a jury, ultimately, in this case. I think the overall circumstances, particularly he, Mr. Peterson, having placed himself there at that point, that is highly incriminating.
And I believe the only sensible answer that one can come up with to explain that is because he never thought for one moment that that body would surface. That body was weighted down and he fully expected that it would remain at the bottom of San Francisco Bay. And there you have it.
COOPER: That, of course, is based on the idea that Scott Peterson is in fact the person who did this.
WECHT: Well, yes.
COOPER: Which is, at this point, not known and certainly just an opinion. Just want to point that out.
Dr. Cyril Wecht, I know we're about to lose our satellite with you. We appreciate you joining us.
WECHT: Thank you.
COOPER: It's been very interesting the last two hours talking to you.
Jeffrey Toobin is still on the phone from Connecticut with us.
If what Dr. Wecht is saying is true, that they may never be able to find out exactly cause of death, how significant is that from a legal standpoint?
TOOBIN: Well, it's obviously very important, although, as we've discussed before, there have been murder prosecutions where not only is there no cause of death proved, but there's no body. And there have been missing-body murder prosecutions, not many of them.
But what a prosecution would want to do in a circumstance like this is weave such a compelling web of circumstantial evidence: for example, the fact that he was having an affair, the fact that he was -- he admitted he was in close proximity to where the body was ultimately found, the fact that he was in a boat at a time when this -- the bodies were ultimately found in the water. Those are the kind of things that a prosecution would want to use.
But I suspect that they're going to have something more to bring this case, because that to me, is suspicious, but it doesn't sound like proof beyond a reasonable doubt.
COOPER: Jeffrey, having never had the misfortune of going to law school and my knowledge of this stuff really limited to watching "Law & Order," what happens now to Scott Peterson? He's in custody. Is he arraigned? Is he -- what is the process?
TOOBIN: Well, the first thing that will happen is that he will be arraigned. And then the question of bail will be dealt with.
One of the things about California law is that, if you are charged with murder with special circumstances, you are not eligible to be let out on bail. That became a big issue in the Robert Blake case, because, when he was originally charged, he was charged with murder with special circumstances. They dropped the special circumstances, but still kept him in jail. That became a big legal fight, ending, ultimately, with him being released.
But if he is charged with a death-penalty eligible crime, Peterson will not get out on bail, period. Frankly, I think it's unlikely that he'll get out on bail under any circumstances. But what happens when someone is arrested is that the issue of bail is the first thing that's dealt with.
COOPER: All right, Jeffrey Toobin, appreciate you calling in from Connecticut. Have a good rest of the evening.
Larry King is up next. He will be taking us to this press conference live. And then he will have a panel of experts to discuss all that is spoken.
There you see a live shot of where the press conference is going to take place.
That's it for me. I'll be back tomorrow morning at 6:00 a.m.
Stay with us.
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