Skip to main content
U.S. Edition
Search
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 


 

Return to Transcripts main page

ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES

Can President Bush Recover?; Gas Price Outrage; Explosions Rock Egypt

Aired April 24, 2006 - 22:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: The White House tonight in crisis mode, possibly naming a new spokesman. Will their new face do anything to stop the plummeting polls?
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ANNOUNCER: Poll position -- with the president's approval numbers falling, the White House comes up with a recovery plan, but will it work?

Pain at the pump -- soaring gas prices, and the outrage that's reaching a boiling point.

Plus, the Duke sex scandal -- should the jury know about the alleged victim's past behavior?

And "Keeping Them Honest" -- post-Katrina fraud.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You never lived in New Orleans, did you?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No.

ANNOUNCER: Why you can still find it anywhere, even in prison.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ANNOUNCER: Across the country and around the world, this is ANDERSON COOPER 360.

Live from the CNN Broadcast Center in New York, here's Anderson Cooper.

COOPER: And good evening again. Hope you had a great weekend.

Last week, there was a major White House shake-up, tonight, word of a possible major announcement. The backstory, rising gas prices and falling poll numbers. In fact, tonight, a new poll shows a new low for the president -- crisis in the White House tonight, all the angles, including a new development.

Sources close to the White House say that FOX News anchor Tony Snow is expected to be -- to accept the job as White House press secretary. We will have a live report on that in just a moment. That is breaking news.

Also, the new White House chief of staff has a five-point plan for reviving the president -- tonight, the counterattack Republicans will hope will get those poll numbers back up.

Also ahead tonight, former presidential adviser David Gergen on what works and what doesn't, and whether it's already too late for President Bush.

We begin with breaking news about an anchorman becoming the voice of the president.

CNN's Suzanne Malveaux joins us on the phone with more -- Suzanne.

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, numerous sources that I have spoke to who are close to the White House say that FOX anchor Tony Snow is highly expected to accept the job as White House press secretary, succeeding Scott McClellan, that he has been offered this position, and sources are saying that he is highly likely to publicly make the announcement of his decision at the White House very shortly, perhaps as early as within the next few days -- conflicting reports whether or not it could even happen tomorrow.

And sources are telling me that Snow's deliberations, he has been focusing on family, his finances, his health -- as you know, those sources saying that he got a good prognosis from his doctor late last week regarding his health. He has been battling colon cancer. And sources say that Snow came to this -- some sort of resolution over the weekend regarding his concerns about the post as press secretary, and they are now saying that, of course, Josh Bolten, the new chief of staff, was very eager about filling this post quickly early this week, and that it was a couple weeks ago that Snow was actually approached by the White House to then meet with Josh Bolten and other officials at the White House to feel him out for the job.

COOPER: Suzanne, just so we're absolutely clear on this, is this a done deal?

MALVEAUX: You know, it's a matter of crossing the T.'s and dotting the I.'s. Unless something in the unforeseen future in the next 24 to 48 hours, it -- it certainly seems so. These sources are saying that it's highly expected that he's going to accept the job. We know that he has actually been offered the job.

He had a lot to think about on his plate late last week, he's thought about that, and that it's highly likely that he will be making an announcement very shortly.

COOPER: Suzanne, stay with us.

We also have CNN's John Roberts on the phone with us, and also in studio in Boston, David Gergen with the Kennedy School of Government, former presidential adviser.

David, what do you make of this?

DAVID GERGEN, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL ADVISER: Well, you know, Anderson, on the way back from Las Vegas, the -- on the White -- on Air Force One, they were watching a movie called "Rumor Has It." And that's just where we are. Rumor has it that Tony Snow is going.

I think Tony Snow is a very good choice for this White House. He -- he believes in the values. He believes in the program. But he's also had a lot of experience with the press corps. I think the big question is, are they really going to change their policies toward the press, or is he simply going to be doing his master's bidding, as was his predecessor, Scott McClellan?

COOPER: Well, David, this does seem to be, you know -- there's this talk about this five-point plan that we're going to talk about in a little bit.

One of them -- and what we were hearing from this White House was that they wanted somebody who had, you know, respectability with the media, who had connections with the media, and could get the policies across to the media. Is this the right choice if, in fact, he is chosen?

GERGEN: Well, he's a very articulate man, who understands the rhythm of the press and appreciates how the press -- you know, and appreciates how to get a message out through the press.

He did run the speechwriting shop for President Bush's father. And so he's had long experience in the White House. He knows both sides of this trench warfare and has been very effective, I think, at FOX. He's been a good commentator as well. So, I think, from their point of view, this is an excellent choice.

Whether it, in fact, satisfies the public I think is a whole different question. It's very late in the game, I think too late. They have moved too late to do these things. Had Tony Snow come in a year ago, I think he would have been a lot more effective. And, beyond that, the real issue is whether they are going to give him a lot more latitude to really change the way they deal with the press.

If they had a new attitude toward the press, and possibly Josh Bolten has that and can persuade the president of it, so they're more open, they're really more candid, they let people in on behind the scenes, yes, that could really be a tonic for the president. But, so far, we have seen no signal that, in addition to bringing in Tony Snow, they really want to change the way they deal with the press.

COOPER: Yes. There's a lot of -- a lot of ifs in that.

John Roberts...

GERGEN: There sure are.

COOPER: CNN's John Robert also joining us on the phone.

John, what do you make of this? You have covered the White House for a long time.

JOHN ROBERTS, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I'm hoping that Tony Snow, as David Gergen has suggested, has the latitude to be able to impart some information during not only the daily briefings and the daily gaggle, but also sort of behind the scenes to correspondents who are trying to understand what it is that the White House is doing.

And I -- and I get a sense that he, at the very least, is going to push for that. I saw him last week. He was saying, it can't just all be about spin. There's got to be some substance as well. So, he -- he has this understanding, both as a person who knows how things go behind the scenes, as well as being on the other side as a journalist, that you have -- there has to be a dialogue. There has to be a flow of information between the White House and the press, that you can't just try to keep talking over people.

You have to deal with the national media. And the way that you deal with the national media is, you talk to them about information and policy. And I -- and I think that he's going to push very hard for that. As to whether he will get remains to be seen. But I think that, more so than Andrew card, Josh Bolten understands the value of being able to talk to the press.

COOPER: So, John, has there not been that behind-the-scenes give-and-take?

ROBERTS: There was a little bit of it when Ari Fleischer was the press secretary. Scott McClellan, as nice a guy as he is and as good a guy as he was for his employees to work for, and as good as he was to have working for the White House, he never really imparted a lot of information. He was always on his guard.

Any time you even tried to have a casual conversation with him, he always thought that you were trying to trip him up. He -- he just -- he didn't want to let anything slip that he didn't already have authorized to -- to give out to the press. So -- so, no, there wasn't really much of a dialogue, other than, you know, if you wanted to talk about tennis or something like that, he was happy to talk to you, but, about policy, very, very guarded.

COOPER: And, Suzanne Malveaux, just...

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: ... just so we're absolutely clear...

MALVEAUX: Yes.

COOPER: ... just repeat again what we know and what we do not know. Is this just rumor? What are you hearing?

MALVEAUX: Well, I -- I would not say that this is just rumor. I mean, these -- these are people who are -- are very familiar with Snow's deliberations and the kinds of things that he has been thinking about over the last five to seven days, namely, his -- his health, and that he got a clean bill of health late last week, and that the kind of confidence in some of the things that he was concerned about in the -- in the job as press secretary.

These are people who are very familiar with his thinking and know that he is highly expected to make an announcement soon.

COOPER: David Gergen...

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: David, go ahead.

GERGEN: Yes. I wanted to make one final point.

Tony Snow does have the leverage that neither of his predecessors would have had. And that is, if he walks out on them because they're not open enough, it would be hugely devastating to the administration, so, that he, unlike Scott McClellan, can go in and say, gentlemen, this isn't good. The press has a legitimate need here. We have got to give it to them.

And they know that the moment he walks out the door and disgusted, if they are really totally closed or they lie or whatever, that is a bleak, bleak day at the White House. His predecessors never had that leverage. That's what -- that's what he has that nobody else has had.

COOPER: Interesting. David Gergen, stay with us.

Suzanne Malveaux, John Roberts, thanks for joining us.

Want to turn to the raw numbers in the Bush White House right now.

With that, here's CNN's Bill Schneider -- a new poll, very low numbers.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST (voice-over): The latest CNN poll done over the weekend by the Opinion Research Corporation shows President Bush with a 32 percent job rating, the lowest yet for this president. In four polls taken over the last 10 days, Bush's numbers have dropped into the low 30s. Sounds like a simple story, gas prices up, Bush numbers down.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think I'm going to go bankrupt having to fill my gas tank to get to work.

SCHNEIDER: More than two-thirds of Americans say recent gas price increases have caused them financial hardship. Bush's approval numbers dropped below 30 percent among people who say gas prices are causing them severe hardship.

What the public sees is greed, particularly when they hear about record oil company profits and breathtaking oil executive payouts. What do people expect the president to do about high gas prices? Democrats have an answer.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We are asking citizens to join together with us and, hopefully, with citizens across the country, to sign a petition to demand that the president of the United States cap excessive oil profits.

SCHNEIDER: President Bush's answer sounds, well, to some ears, a little too much like a Texas oil man's.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I know gas prices are high. You know, there's no magic wand to wave. We will make sure that the energy companies are pricing their product fairly.

SCHNEIDER: Gas prices are a part of the story, but not all of it. After all, President Bush's numbers have been dropping all year. And most of those who say they're not suffering any hardship still disapprove of President Bush.

Why? Lots of I.'s: Iraq, illegal immigration, indictments. Most Americans no longer consider President Bush honest and trustworthy or strong and decisive. The public is not even sure the president is competent at his job.

BUSH: Started off in Northern California.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Bill, new low for this president in terms of poll numbers, but other presidents have had lower numbers, correct?

SCHNEIDER: There have been some with lower numbers. I found four presidents in the last 60 years who went down into the 20s. Harry Truman was down there, and he did not run for reelection. Jimmy Carter was down there in the 1970s. He got defeated for reelection. Bush's father dropped below 30 percent. He got defeated for reelection.

And then there was Richard Nixon. We know what happened to him. So, it's not such a terrific list to get on.

COOPER: It's certainly not. Bill Schneider, thank you.

As Bill just said, the president's problem is also problem for the Republicans. This president's not running again. A lot of Republicans are coming up. To save both his boss and the GOP, the new White House chief of staff has already reassigned the man they call the brain, Karl Rove. Now there's a report a new strategy is in the works.

CNN's Tom Foreman has that angle.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For months, the political wisdom has not changed. If Iraq improves, the president's poll numbers will, too. But the war is droning on, and so are critics, including hard-core conservatives, who fear President Bush is setting up his own party for an election disaster this fall.

PAT BUCHANAN, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If he's going to win the election in November, I think what the president's going to have to do is turn this into a battle for the direction of the country, conservative vs. liberal, Republican vs. Democrat. He has got to go on the offensive and turn this into an us-vs.-them election.

FOREMAN: Enter Josh Bolten, the president's new no-nonsense chief of staff. "TIME" magazine reports that Bolten has already announced a five-point plan to soothe disgruntled Republicans and get them back in line -- number one, beef up the border, give more agents more funds, more equipment to immigration patrols, give up on immediate plans to bring more Latinos into the Republican ranks.

Two, make Wall Street happy with tax legislation favorable to investors.

Three, brag more, get the president saying more positive things about his accomplishments.

Four, reclaim security credibility. Stand up loudly to antagonistic nations, especially Iran.

And five, court the press for more favorable coverage that will appeal to conservatives.

MIKE ALLEN, "TIME": When the president is getting down to the poll numbers he is, almost by definition, he's losing Republicans. And so the idea here is to get Republican strength back, and then you can maybe talk about courting the middle.

FOREMAN (on camera): The nation's fears and doubts about Iraq are still problems for this president. But political analysts say his party will not be able to help him with that in the future, unless he helps his party right now.

(voice-over): And, right now, what matters, along with Iraq, are soaring gas prices, immigration battles, security leaks, issues that Republicans will probably have to make progress on, or voters may send them packing this fall.

Tom Foreman, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Former presidential adviser David Gergen rejoins me now. Of course, he's with Harvard's Kennedy School of Government.

David, thanks again...

GERGEN: Thank you.

COOPER: ... for sticking around.

In your op-ed over the weekend, you complimented -- it was in "The New York Times" -- you complemented Bolten, but you warned that the key to recovery for this president and any president is fundamental change. This five-point plan, does it seem like fundamental change? GERGEN: Anderson, if I -- I have too much respect for Josh Bolten to believe that this is his plan. You know, somebody who really doesn't like him leaked this and attributed it to him, because this plan is cynical.

It plays -- it plays only to the base, in a way that I think that most Americans will reject. And it's -- it just is not responsive to the -- to the real issues of the day. I mean, what's the -- what's the heart of this plan? Scaring people about Iran, putting a lot more troops on the borders with big badges, as they say, and a lot of guns, and tax breaks for investors, and then going out there and bragging a lot about their accomplishments and cozying up to the press.

That's a plan for recovery? Now, come on. That's -- that's not a serious plan. It's cynical. It's not responsive to the problems of the country, and many people would regard it as irresponsible. I just don't believe that's their plan. I think they're going to something more serious than this. I don't believe Josh Bolten would sign on to a plan like this.

COOPER: So, you think this is something that was leaked to "TIME" magazine just to -- to make him look bad?

GERGEN: Well, I have to tell you something. I just don't believe that he would sign off. I just think -- I have a higher regard for Josh Bolten than to believe that he would put his name to something like this, because it just doesn't fit the problems of the country. It doesn't deal with Iraq.

It -- it doesn't deal with the -- with the budget deficits. He himself was there at the budget office, you know, presiding over these, trying to wrestle with these. It doesn't really respond with gas prices. It -- it just doesn't -- and it doesn't deal with global climate warming. I mean, it's none of the kind of changes you would normally expect.

Now, what we do know, we have had some report out of the press pool tonight that the president is apparently going to give a speech tomorrow about energy, which is not part of this five-point plan, in which he's going to ask for a -- and this press pool traveling with the president reporting that he's going to ask for some sort of investigation of gas prices, if there's been manipulation.

Now, that kind of approach has -- that -- that, I think, has much more resonance and is needed.

COOPER: The other thing you wrote about this weekend is, you looked back at -- at the eight presidents who have sort of reshuffled their staffs, and the ones that the reshufflement actually worked and -- and the ones where it didn't.

GERGEN: Right.

COOPER: In the few that it actually worked and they actually, you know, grew their poll numbers again, what made the difference?

GERGEN: Two things made the difference, Anderson.

One is doing it early and quickly when trouble hits. And the other thing is that the president really wants change, he wants change in himself, and he wants change in his administration on policy and practices. And, in this case, I'm -- I'm afraid -- and -- and we saw that with Ronald Reagan in '86, the storied recovery of Ronald Reagan after Iran-Contra.

He did it quickly, as soon as Iran-Contra broke, and he did it in a way that he really wanted change. Now, here, by contrast, what -- the president has acted very late. We have talked about this before. In my judgment, he should have acted last fall, when -- when -- when -- before attitudes against him started to harden, as they are now rapidly, and have really become set in stone among some people.

And, secondly, so, what we have seen so far is mostly about better marketing and about better management, and now we know, and "TIME" magazine says, catering to the base in these small ways, rather than really fundamental change. So, based on past experience, most presidents have not recovered in this situation. Bill Schneider just underscored that with his report. Most -- most presidents have not done that, unless they have made fundamental changes, unless they have acted in time.

This president has not acted in time. But he's still -- if he engaged in fundamental change, he might have a shot at it. The changes we're hearing from "TIME" magazine are not that shot.

COOPER: The lessons of history.

David Gergen, thanks.

GERGEN: OK.

COOPER: Good talking to you.

GERGEN: Thank you, Anderson.

COOPER: Well, fair or not, gas prices appear to be driving down President Bush's approval ratings. Now, you might be surprised to hear, however, that gas prices have not reached record highs, not yet at least. Here's the raw data.

According to the Energy Department, the average price now of self-serve regular is $2.91 a gallon. The government says gas prices were at their highest in March of 1981. When adjusted to today's prices, the cost of gallon -- of a gallon of gas then was $3.12. It would have been much better if we had the fancy graphic, which we were going to have.

Coming up, a deadly...

(LAUGHTER)

COOPER: It's what happens. A deadly terror attack at a popular tourist destination -- the streets were jammed when at least three bombs went off, killing at least 23 people. We will investigate who's behind the carnage and why Osama bin Laden is suddenly talking again.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PETER BERGEN, CNN TERRORISM ANALYST: Ayman Al-Zawahri, the number two, has been releasing a lot of tapes. Osama may feel like he wants to -- needs to be back in the mix. They face an interesting catch-22. If they say nothing, they become historical figures. If they continue to release these tapes, they continue to actually influence what happens.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Could bin Laden's new message have anything to do with the attacks in Egypt? We will talk to terrorism analyst Peter Bergen.

And the latest in the Duke rape investigation -- new clues about the case the defense is building. A magazine reports the accuser appeared to be under the influence of some type of substance. We will look at that -- when 360 continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: The aftermath of a terror attack -- in Egypt today, a bloodbath, coordinated terrorist bombings in a popular resort on the Red Sea killed at least 23 people, including three foreigners. More than 60 others were wounded. The bombs exploded just after nightfall, when the streets were packed with tourists, many of them enjoying their spring holiday.

CNN's Nic Robertson investigates.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice- over): Timed to go off when the cafes and streets would have been filling with tourists, three blasts, the first, relatively small, according to an eyewitness, detonating in a supermarket, the other two exploding in two nearby cafes, already crowding as holiday-makers left the nearby beach.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): We heard the explosions, three strikes, three explosions. We quickly ran to the scene, and we were scared. We saw people running. Just look at the damages. We saw our friends laying on the ground. This is an act that doesn't please God. It wouldn't please any Christian or Muslim. God will punish them. This is all what I can say.

ROBERTSON: The resort was particularly busy, with Egyptians enjoying a Muslim and Christian holiday. The country's president, Hosni Mubarak, quickly condemned the bombings that appear to have killed more Egyptians than foreigners. These are not the first attacks targeting tourists along Egypt's Sinai Peninsula. Last July, three bombs killed more than 60 in nearby Sharm el-Sheikh. And further north on the cost, in October 2004, another series of three bombs killed more than 34 people in the resort of Taba.

A former spokesman for one of Egypt's radical Islamic groups says the same jihadists responsible for those attacks are to blame for this bombing, a new local group sympathetic to, but not directly tied to al Qaeda.

OSAMA RUSHDIE, FORMER EGYPTIAN MILITANT (through translator): I believe that these youngsters are aiming at two goals, one against Egyptian government and one against the West, based on the known principles of al Qaeda.

ROBERTSON: President Bush was also quick to add his condemnation.

BUSH: And I assure the enemy this. We will stay on the offense. We will not waver. We will not tire. We will bring you to justice, for the sake of peace and humanity.

(APPLAUSE)

ROBERTSON: Rushdie, who spent three years in Egyptian jails, claims, Mubarak's handling of the three previous bombings may have helped fuel this attack.

RUSHDIE (through translator): Hosni Mubarak is looked at as one of the biggest supporters of America and Israel. At the same time, he committed so many acts of torture against the sons of Sinai, and there's definitely a state of strong anger.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: So, certainly a blow to -- to the tourism industry in Egypt. Why can't the government better protect these resorts?

ROBERTSON: Well, the government protects the roads that leads to those resorts, but the bedouins, the local people, who the analysts seem to believe are behind these attacks, don't use the roads. They know the deserts. They have been using them for hundreds of years.

They know how to move around, with bypassing the government checkpoints. And there's this factor of being motivated by many arrests in the area. And those seem to be the combinations. Plus, there have been several wars fought in that area, analysts say, and that has left a lot of weapons in the area. So, all those combined factors, the geography, knowing how to get around, the weapons, that adds up to locals having out (INAUDIBLE), outsmarted the government forces there -- Anderson.

COOPER: Number two in al Qaeda, Ayman Al-Zawahri, is from Egypt. So, the question is, I mean, any connection to -- to al Qaeda? ROBERTSON: The best analysis seems to be that -- that, while they have been inspired by al Qaeda, the recent message by Osama bin Laden that only came out 24 hours before this attack was perhaps too tight up against the attack, that something like this, three bombs, timed to go off carefully, would have needed a certain amount of planning. They wouldn't have been able to put it into effect so immediately after Osama bin Laden's message.

But it is messages like this by Osama bin Laden that are very likely to have fed into their ideology. And this latest message was threatening U.S. citizens.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ROBERTSON (voice-over): First broadcast on Arabic language channel Al-Jazeera, Osama bin Laden's latest audio message ratchets up his anger at Americans. Unlike recent messages, he now says he holds American and Western citizens, not just their governments, responsible for conflict in Iraq and Afghanistan.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

OSAMA BIN LADEN, AL QAEDA LEADER (through translator): Any war is the joint responsibility of the people and the government. While war continues, people renew their allegiance to their rulers and politicians, and continue to send their sons to our countries to fight us. They continue their financial and moral support, while our countries are burned, our homes are bombed and our people are killed.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

ROBERTSON: Just three months ago, in his last message, bin Laden directed his comments to the people of America, offering a truce if their troops got out of Iraq and Afghanistan.

Bin Laden's latest verbal offensive also attempts to rally Muslim support for al Qaeda's main message, that Muslims are under attack from the West. The al Qaeda leader claims U.S. opposition to the newly elected Hamas government proves his point.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ROBERTSON: Well, Hamas have already reacted to that, saying that their ideology lies in a different direction to Osama bin Laden.

And analysts are saying that this is just an example in one area where Osama bin Laden has essentially, with his latest message, been slapped down -- Anderson.

COOPER: Nic Robertson, thanks.

Coming up, we will be decoding Osama -- Osama bin Laden's message. We will look at what he was really saying and whether the tape's timing was connected to today's deadly terrorist bombings in Egypt.

Also, this:

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KIM ROBERTS, EXOTIC DANCER: If they're innocent, they should have nothing to worry about. They should sit back, relax, brush their shoulders off and feel good. They shouldn't have anything to worry about. If -- if the truth was on their side, why are they supporting it with lies?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: That was Kim Roberts, a second stripper at the now notorious Duke University lacrosse team party. Today, the waters surrounding the rape case got even muddier, with reports that the alleged victim was sober when she arrived at the party and might have been given drugs -- that according to the second stripper. Today, one of the defense lawyers went on the attack -- all of that coming up on 360.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Well, normally in this part of the program we bring you a "Keeping Them Honest" report. We've got an outrageous scam to tell you about tonight, one that is costing you money. We'll have that report coming up. We wanted to finish discussing the latest terror attack in Egypt. The attacks have killed at least 23 people, injured as many as 60 others. Earlier I spoke to CNN terrorism analyst, Peter Bergen.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Peter, today the town of Dahab in Egypt was attacked. Why this target?

PETER BERGEN, CNN TERRORISM ANALYST: Well, I think it's really an attempt to interfere with the tourist economy in Egypt, an attempt to attack the Egyptian government indirectly since tourism is such an important component of the Egyptian economy. We've seen now a campaign of attacks against Egyptian tourist targets in the past year and a half. Before that, there was really no attacks on tourists since 1997 when most of the main Egyptian terrorist groups did a sort of cease-fire with the Egyptian government. That cease-fire is clearly dead now. These groups inspired by Al Qaeda or perhaps links to Al Qaeda certainly inspired by Ayman al Zawahiri, bin Laden's number two guy in Al Qaeda.

COOPER: Who is, of course, Egyptian. There had been an attack in Sharm el-Sheikh which is actually very close to this town of Dahab.

BERGEN: Indeed. The thing about this attack which is a little bit different from some of the other attacks, the other attacks seemed primarily aimed at Jewish targets, Jewish holidaymakers, or at Hilton Hotel, a sort of western symbol. These attacks, you know, obviously westerners are the target, but they seem to have killed a lot of Egyptians. I think it's going to be very counterproductive for whatever groups organized these attacks, much like the attack in Bali in late 2005 that killed mostly Indonesians rather than westerners. I think this attack will prove to be perhaps the thing that really turns around Egyptian popular opinion against these groups.

COOPER: Three separate attacks are really coordinated at the same time. It seems to have the markings of Al Qaeda or a sympathizer to Al Qaeda, correct?

BERGEN: Indeed. The two other attacks that happened in Egypt also had three separate attacks. The attacks I just mentioned in Indonesia had three separate attacks. You know this is the Al Qaeda kind of signature.

COOPER: Why three? I mean is there any significance to that?

BERGEN: I guess, I mean, you know, you just kill more people and create more confusion or more terror.

COOPER: Do you think there's any link between the Bin Laden tape that surfaced over this weekend and today's attack?

BERGEN: I very much doubt it because I think the Bin Laden tape would have taken time to "A", get made sometime in the last five weeks, then "B," transported to Al-Jazeera from somewhere in Pakistan and also the planning for the attack we just saw must have been several weeks in the planning. I think to coordinate these two things would just be way too complex.

COOPER: Last time we heard from Bin Laden was back in January. Why release a tape now?

BERGEN: Ayman Al Zawahiri, the number two, has been releasing a lot of tapes. Osama may feel like he needs to be back in the mix. They face an interesting catch-22, if they say nothing, they become historical figures. If they continue to release these tapes, they continue to actually influence what happens.

COOPER: So it's a way to stay relevant?

BERGEN: Basically.

COOPER: Why an audiotape?

BERGEN: I think videotape has too much information. I mean the last time we saw Ayman Al Zawahiri on a tape, it was actually a curtain behind him, clearly he wasn't in a cave. Well that sort of clue is quite useful obviously to U.S. intelligence agencies. So, an audiotape has no visual information, and also it may just be a sign that Bin Laden is sort of not able to make a videotape for whatever reason.

COOPER: Visual information, I mean, there's been a lot of speculation about how he appears whether or not he's injured or -- I mean, what do you know about that?

BERGEN: Well, in the last videotape which came out October 29, 2004, he actually looked very well, sort of tanned and rested unfortunately. So, you know, the notion that he's dying of kidney disease is certainly not demonstrated by the last videotape we saw of him. He actually looked in reasonably good health, the best I've seen of him for many, many years.

COOPER: That's really not good news. Peter Bergen, thanks.

BERGEN: Thank you.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Well here in the U.S., new developments in the Duke University rape case. With two students charged so far another being investigated. The defense gives some hints today about what their legal strategy will be. We'll have the details ahead.

And a developing story. It happened a few hours ago. A tornado hitting Oklahoma. That's what you're looking at, wasn't the only one to strike, however. We'll bring you the latest on the storm system that is still out there when "360" continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KIM ROBERTS, SECOND DANCER: The only thing I did not see was the rape because I was not in the bathroom at that particular moment. Everything leading up to it, I was there. Everything leaving from it, I was there. And mind you, I believe I was the only sober person in the place.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: That was Kim Roberts who spoke out on Friday. She was the second stripper at the Duke University lacrosse team party where another dancer alleges that she was raped. "Newsweek" magazine is reporting that Ms. Roberts' attorney said that the rape accuser was sober when she arrived at the party, and then an hour later, the lawyer says the second dancer noticed the woman appeared to be under the influence of some substance. And today the attorney for one of the two Duke University students charged asked that the prosecution turn over the accuser's medical records, legal records, and educational records. Tipping their hand about perhaps a strategy. CNN's Jason Carroll has more.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JASON CARROLL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The defense gave clues how it will challenge the woman who has accused Duke lacrosse players, Reade Seligmann and Collin Finnerty of rape. In three defense motions filed today at the Durham County Courthouse, Seligmann's lawyer wants the district attorney to turn over background information on the alleged victim. The motion reads, this request is based on the fact that the complaining witness has a history of criminal activity, mental, emotional and/or physical problems.

The motion didn't specify those problems, but court records show the accuser pleaded guilty after stealing a taxi four years ago. Seligmann's attorney also asked for a pretrial hearing to determine if the complaining witness is even credible enough to provide reliable testimony. The second motion informed the district attorney the defense will show Seligmann has alibis. One of them likely will come from a Durham cab driver who says he remembers picking up Seligmann and a friend that night.

The last motion asked the D.A. to provide any other information he has gathered about the case. The D.A. did not comment on the motions or to defense complaints the accuser identified the two players from a photo lineup made up only of Duke lacrosse players and no one else. But Michael Nifong did confirm that he is waiting for a second round of DNA test results on the players after the first round showed no match between anyone on the team and the alleged victim.

MIKE NIFONG, DURHAM DISTRICT ATTORNEY: I know what I'm going to do. I have told you that when I'm ready to make an announcement, I will make an announcement. A public announcement, as I did the last time I did something in the case. And I have confirmed for you that we're not expecting the DNA results back until May the 15th.

CARROLL: May 15th, also coincides with the next scheduled court date for Reade Seligmann and Collin Finnerty. Jason Carroll, CNN, Durham, North Carolina.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Well, programming note to tell you about. Tomorrow Larry King interviews Mark Felt, probably better known as "Deep Throat." His secret brought down a president of course, and the interview is only on CNN.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LARRY KING: How did you know all the things you knew?

MARK FELT: Well I was focusing on the paperwork and the oral work that came to me, on an over the counter basis, so I was familiar with it all.

KING: So you see yourself as just doing what any good person would do?

FELT: Yes. Yes.

KING: Some people have said that you are kind of like a lone ranger during the scandal, a law enforcement officer acting alone.

FELT: Well, that's a compliment in a way, but it's true. I was acting alone pretty much.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Tuesday night at 9:00, a "Larry King Live" exclusive, that's tomorrow at 9:00 p.m. eastern. Coming up tonight on "360" in a moment, a terrible tornado in Oklahoma. Take a look at this, caught on tape, what you're seeing is a dangerous funnel touching down, we'll give you the latest on this developing story.

Also ahead tonight, taking advantage of a tragedy. You will not believe what scam artists have done to try to get a little slice of the millions in Katrina relief. Tonight we're "Keeping Them Honest." We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Now to a developing story. Some very dangerous weather tonight in the heartland. That is what you're looking at right there. It is incredible videotape from a helicopter. It looks almost surreal, what you're looking at is a tornado touching down in Oklahoma. One of at least two tornadoes to hit near the city of El Reno tonight, it's about 40 miles west of Oklahoma city.

Now, the tornadoes were seen sweeping across El Reno's airport. There was some roof damage, but right now no reports of any injuries. That's it from a slightly different angle. It is just an unbelievable sight there, considering what we are looking at, the fact that there were no injuries reported, it's certainly some very good news, indeed. We'll continue to follow this story and continue to follow the storm over the next two hours, bring you any updates as warranted.

In a moment, we're going to look at scam artists and the worst kind of Katrina fraud, stealing money that they do not deserve. Tonight we're "Keeping Them Honest." But first Sophia Choi from "Headline News" has the business stories. Sophia ?

SOPHIA CHOI, CNN ANCHOR: Hi Anderson. The co-founder of Sun Microsystems is stepping down as chief executive of the company he's led since 1984. Scott McNealy announced the news as Sun reported its latest quarterly loss, Jonathan Scwhartz, Sun's president will add the CEO title to his portfolio now. Mr. McNealy remains as chairman and a full-time employee. Now, since 2000, Sun has seen its revenues decline, and Mr. McNealy often came under pressure for not cutting costs enough.

Well the world's richest man is betting on ethanol. According to an SEC filing, Bill Gates' investment firm has acquired a 25.5 percent stake in Pacific Ethanol which distributes throughout California, Nevada, Arizona and Oregon. Most U.S. refiners are in the process of switching over to ethanol. By 2012, they're expected to use up to 7.5 billion gallons of it each year, nearly twice what they use now.

And at the ripe old age of 71, Monopoly is getting a makeover, and Hasbro wants your help. The updated version due out this fall will have updated landmarks and until May 12th, you can vote for your favorites online at monopoly.com. Anderson, New York's Times Square and Chicago's Wrigley Field, just two possible choices, get out there and vote.

COOPER: I'll keep my old Park Place. That's how I like it or Cleveland Avenue. Thanks very much Sophia.

Coming up, scam artists, stealing money meant for Katrina victims. Tonight we are "Keeping Them Honest."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What's staggering is that we've charged people in over 24 districts across the nation. So this is fraud that is going from Florida all the way to California.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Coast to coast fraud allegations of insurance fraud, debit card fraud and fraud frankly we've never even heard of. Plus, we'll talk to Mayor Ray Nagin and his challenger in New Orleans' runoff election, Lieutenant Governor Mitch Landrieu. Each thinks he's going to win, we'll find out why and how when "360" continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Well just when you thought you'd heard of all the ways that scam artists have tried to steal from the billions of dollars targeted for Katrina relief, you hear about a whole new scam. Tonight, new evidence that the scams are happening coast to coast. Tonight, we're "Keeping Them Honest," here's Sean Callebs.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SEAN CALLEBS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Cops going after drugs, a killer, a dangerous fugitive? Not in this case. Instead, someone in Florida accused of lying to get thousands of dollars in FEMA benefits.

You never lived in New Orleans, did you?

No. CALLEBS: Money meant for Katrina victims. On September 8th, just a week after Katrina flooded New Orleans, the U.S. attorney's office created a task force to root out fraud, and it's been busy.

ALICE FISHER, ASST. U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: What's staggering is that we've charged people in over 24 districts across the nation. So this is fraud that is going from Florida all the way to California.

CALLEBS Some had moxie.

FISHER: Well, we had people from prison who applied for FEMA benefits.

CALLEBS: That's right. Two inmates at Louisiana Avoyelles Women's Correctional Institution said their housing was disrupted by Katrina and wanted FEMA relief funds mailed to them in prison. They were, but authorities eventually got their hands on the checks. The motive in all these cases, greed. A brother and sister team in Dallas are accused of stealing 100 Red Cross debit cards worth more than $4,000 each. They told authorities they used the money for jewelry, cars, shoes, and cash. In Bakersfield, California, more than a dozen workers at this Red Cross call center face fraud charges. They are accused of working the system so they, family and friends could allegedly steal money meant for hurricane victims. Hundreds of thousands of dollars is involved. 61 people are indicted. Government workers are being targeted, too.

FISHER: For example, we charged a case in Mississippi where there was a debris removal contract, and somebody was filing false load tickets in order -- in exchange for a kickback.

CALLEBS: That was in Perry County, Mississippi, where a worker for the Army Corps of Engineers has already pleaded guilty to taking a bribe to lie about the amount of debris a contractor had collected. Both men will be sentenced June 8th. In Galveston, Texas, a hotel owner said he provided rooms for his employees as part of their pay. According to the Department of Justice, he also filed with FEMA for more than $230,000 in disaster relief lodging, claiming his workers were evacuees, flooded out of their homes. He's facing 39 counts of fraud. So far, about 250 indictments, 50 people convicted, 2 million applications for assistance.

FISHER: And what I think is very important to this overall antifraud effort is not only the money that we recover from the people that committed fraud but also the deterrent effect.

CALLEBS: Meaning some have returned ill gotten gains before being charged. Authorities say there's no way around it. With billions of dollars in aid floating around, it's an attractive target for cheats and thieves.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CALLEBS: And so how did the authorities come to all these indictments? Well, in some cases it was police work, but in many others it was simply people telling on other people. There was a 1- 800 hotline. And in the case in Mississippi Anderson, one contractor who was hired to remove debris from that area just heard that somebody else had bribed that Army Corps of Engineers employee, and so he told the authorities. Anderson?

COOPER: Unbelievable. They would send checks to people in prison is just unbelievable. Thankfully that was caught.

CALLEBS: That one takes the cake.

COOPER: Hard to believe. Moxie, as you said. Sean thanks.

Time now for "The Shot," our favorite photo or piece of video of the day. Tonight the shot was taken by the Hubbell space telescope. There you go. In a galaxy far, far away, the final frontier really, it's a picture of the starburst galaxy, messier 82. Not sure I pronounced that correctly. That's the official title. It is only 12 million light years away. The amazing image marks the Hubbell's 60th anniversary. We supplied the music. That was sort of odd there, focused on my nose. Coming up, a dramatic face-off in New Orleans. This weekend's election narrowed the race to two. In New Orleans not a single incumbent has lost re-election in 60 years. Why this year could be very different. Coming up.

Also in New Orleans, Rosie O'Donnell. She made her first trip to New Orleans, and what she saw stunned her. We'll talk with Rosie and find out how she's helping kids cope with the tragedy.

And five Kansas teenagers accused of plotting a school massacre have their day in court. The charges they are facing and the sentences they could get, all that ahead on "360."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Good evening again. Pain at the gas pump and pain at the polls. Word tonight the president may have a new spokesman. Can a "Fox News" anchorman help turn this White House around?

(ANNOUNCER)

Gas prices climb, and President Bush's approval rating falls. Does the new chief of staff have a plan to rescue the west wing?

A runoff race for mayor. Nagin versus Landrieu. Two big political names in the big easy seeking votes. We'll talk to both of them.

And see how Rosie O'Donnell is helping Katrina kids. Plus --

We take the charges that we have filed to be very serious.

Columbine copycat? Five teens accused of plotting a high school massacre. Tonight, how investigators say they stopped the plan. Across the country and around the world, this is ANDERSON COOPER 360 live from the CNN Broadcast Center in New York, here's Anderson Cooper.

COOPER: And thanks for joining us and we begin with breaking news. With the west wing in crisis mode, President Bush has reportedly tapped FOX News anchorman Tony Snow to become the new press secretary. Sources say Snow will likely accept the position. CNN's Suzanne Malveaux who broke this story joins us with more. Suzanne?

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well Anderson, of course, the new chief of staff, Josh Bolten really wanted to move on this very quickly. He made that known and this is something that we have known. It was a couple of weeks ago as a matter of fact that Josh Bolten, even before his official position, reached out to FOX anchor Tony Snow in a quiet meeting at the White House with other officials to see if he would be interested in the job. Sources close to the White House as well as to the deliberations of Tony Snow say that not only has he been offered the job, but it is highly likely, highly expected that he will accept this position as press secretary.

Now, this is something, of course, that he had to think on. Sources saying there were a number of things that were difficult for him. He was thinking about his family, finances, but most importantly, his health. You know, he was battling colon cancer. And he got a clean bill of health just late last week, that his doctor gave him a good prognosis. He had to make a decision over the weekend. He deliberated over the weekend; sources saying that he came to some sort of resolution regarding some of the concerns that he had about this kind of grueling job.

TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com

CNN U.S.
CNN TV E-mail Services CNN Mobile CNNAvantGo Ad Info About Us Preferences
Search
© 2007 Cable News Network LP, LLLP.
A Time Warner Company. All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines. Contact us. Site Map.
Offsite Icon External sites open in new window; not endorsed by CNN.com
Pipeline Icon Pay service with live and archived video. Learn more
Radio News Icon Download audio news  |  RSS Feed Add RSS headlines