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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES

Israeli Troops Begin Withdrawal From Southern Lebanon; Abu Ghraib Whistle-Blower Speaks Out; The Politics of Terror; Iranian President Launches Blog

Aired August 15, 2006 - 22:00   ET

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


(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
ANNOUNCER: Iran and Syria, they say they won the war in Lebanon. And people are buying it. So, where does that leave Israel, and us?

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: America is safer than it has been, but it's not yet safe.

ANNOUNCER: Do you believe this? With plots against airliners and subways and more, what's it really mean to you and me?

He handed over pictures that shocked the world, shook the military, and, some say, cost us Iraq.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So, are you a traitor?

SPECIALIST JOE DARBY, ABU GHRAIB WHISTLE-BLOWER: No.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you see yourself as a rat?

DARBY: No.

ANNOUNCER: Now for the first time anywhere, the man who blew the whistle on abuses at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ANNOUNCER: This is a special edition of ANDERSON COOPER 360.

In for Anderson tonight, Christiane Amanpour in London, and Wolf Blitzer in Jerusalem.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: And good evening once again.

Christiane joins me from London in just a few moments, with the latest on the terror investigation, but, up first, the war here in the Middle East, and what comes next.

Israelis can be pretty blunt, brutally honest, even when things go badly. They ask tough questions, they say, because, being such a small country, surrounded by enemies, any mistake could be their last.

Tonight, with their enemies declaring victory, Israelis are asking some very tough questions indeed, even as their sons and daughters come home. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER (voice-over): Weary from weeks of war, Israeli troops gradually withdrew from southern Lebanon today, with soldiers offering very differing opinions on the outcome.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All of Lebanon is kind of ruined. You know, they have nothing. We're still here. We're good.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We know that, in this particular campaign, we didn't cure the cancer that is Hezbollah, but we have put it into remission.

BLITZER: Israel says it will pull its entire force out by next week -- moving in, the Lebanese army. As many as 15,000 soldiers could be deployed by tomorrow night. Two thousand U.N. peacekeepers are in southern Lebanon. More are expected, but not any time soon.

KOFI ANNAN, U.N. SECRETARY-GENERAL: Probably take weeks or months, but we are trying to move them as quickly as we -- as we can.

BLITZER: Through the traffic and destruction, the stream of refugees heading back home pressed on. In Tyre, men gather on the street, waving the flags of both Lebanon and Hezbollah.

If President Bush thinks Hezbollah was defeated, take a look at this. These people are signing up to receive financial aid from Hezbollah.

And, as day two of the cease-fire comes to a close, aid workers continue searching for bodies -- a stark reminder of the cost of 34 days of fighting.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: And, so far, the death toll stands at about 900 Lebanese and at least 159 Israelis.

Meantime, the IDF today claimed one late victory in the war. They say their troops killed a top Hezbollah leader just hours before the cease-fire went into effect.

And, earlier today, in Atlanta, Israel's deputy prime minister, Shimon Peres, said his country's armed forces have dealt a real blow to Hezbollah. That said, Hezbollah, the movement, survives.

And Mr. Peres isn't the only one claiming victory.

Here's CNN's Aneesh Raman in Tehran.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ANEESH RAMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): If the victors of the war are the ones who proclaim it the loudest, then there's no doubt here Hezbollah has won, an equal certainty Israel was not alone in defeat. (CHEERING)

RAMAN: Impassioned cheers of "Death to America," "Death to Britain" echoed in the first speech by the Iranian president since a cease-fire took hold.

"America and England and the Zionist regime," he says, "with all the equipment, all the army they had, they faced a group of decent devout young people, and those young people stood against them."

Hezbollah supporters celebrated throughout Lebanon this day. It was a costly fight for them, but, for Hezbollah backers, a chance to stand firm against the United States. Just hours before, his Iranian counterpart, the Syrian president, delivered his own remarks, his own message to President Bush.

BASHAR AL-ASSAD, SYRIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): This administration adopted the preemptive war. It contradicts the principle of peace. And, six years after this administration, there's no peace. We are not expecting any peace.

RAMAN: Syria and Iran have grown closer by the day during the war. Now their leaders clearly think they are growing stronger, as well.

In response to talk from U.S. officials of a new Middle East, Ahmadinejad declared his own view, saying Middle East nations are wide awake, and they also envision a new Middle East, but one that is free of United States and British domination.

(on camera): From the Iranian and Syrian presidents, no sign that the battle had come to an end; instead, that Hezbollah and the broader resistance would go on, and that peace in the region now, more than ever, seems out of reach.

Aneesh Raman, CNN, Tehran.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: And Aneesh, by the way, is the only American television network correspondent right now in Iran.

President Bush, meantime, expressing no doubts about the war, at least not publicly.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH: Hezbollah attacked Israel, without any knowledge of the Siniora government. You can't run a government, you can't have a democracy, if you have got an armed faction within your country. Hezbollah attacked Israel. Hezbollah started the crisis. And Hezbollah suffered a defeat in this crisis.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: From here, it gets more complicated. To get a better idea of the repercussions, we spoke earlier with Robin Wright, who has written about the region for decades, most recently at "The Washington Post."

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: Robin Wright, thanks very much for joining us.

The Hezbollah leader, Hassan Nasrallah, says, this has been a strategic and historic victory for Hezbollah. Do you think it has been a big win for Hezbollah?

ROBIN WRIGHT, DIPLOMATIC CORRESPONDENT, "THE WASHINGTON POST": Well, Hezbollah, as a political organization, as a military organization, and the Shiites of Lebanon, its followers, have probably taken the biggest hit during this conflict, both in terms of civilian life and in material terms.

And, yet, ironically, Hezbollah may come out the strongest of all the parties that engaged in this conflict. It is clearly now much more popular throughout the Arab world among Shiites and Sunnis. And its standing in Lebanon has increased, because it is seen as having been the resistance movement that, in the end, is forcing Israel to eventually retreat.

BLITZER: But aren't a lot of Lebanese and other Arabs, especially Sunni Arabs, and certainly a lot of Christians, in Lebanon going to say, why did Hezbollah start this latest conflict on July 12, by killing and kidnapping those soldiers?

Look at the destruction it's resulted in, in Lebanon.

WRIGHT: Absolutely. And I think there will be a reckoning, politically, throughout Lebanon.

And I think that there is probably going to be more of a toll or a payment to be made inside Lebanon than anyplace else. Hezbollah clearly miscalculated grossly in abducting two Israeli soldiers on July 12. It thought it was going to engage in a prisoner swap, as it did in 2004.

And senior officials admitted that they did not anticipate this kind of response from Israel. So, in that sense, it -- it did make an enormous mistake. And, yet, after 34 days of a conflict, it is seen as having endured, and its leadership is still there. Israel has not achieved its strategic goals of either eliminating the leadership or weakening the movement.

BLITZER: Well, what about the -- the general performance of the -- of the Israel -- the military, the political leadership? How did they do?

WRIGHT: Well, I think there's going to be a reckoning inside Israel, as well.

This is a different kind of war, one Israel has never fought before. This is a new kind of enemy, and it's a new kind of weaponry. One of the reasons Israel is facing such a challenge right now is that, even if Hezbollah is pushed behind the Litani, even if there are 30,000 Lebanese and Israeli troops deployed in a very small area along that volatile border, Israel still faces the challenge of missiles inside Lebanon that could, if it came to another conflict, reach inside Israel.

BLITZER: President Bush says this has been a win for democracy in the Middle East. Has it been a win for democracy and for the policies of the Bush administration?

WRIGHT: I think the Bush administration is one of those that -- that has not come out ahead.

The U.S. image throughout the region has been badly battered, because it has been seen as a conflict on which Israel -- the United States took sides with Israel, and supplied Israel with weaponry.

This is going to make democracy and the U.S. goals throughout the region ever more difficult to achieve. The United States is not seen at the moment as an honest broker, even if, originally, when the Bush administration launched its democracy program, it was welcomed in the region. But events since then, be it in Iraq, and the way the war there has not gone well -- the Bush administration's effort to bring an Arab-Israeli peace with the Palestinians has also faltered.

And Afghanistan, on the periphery, is also a problem, and now Lebanon. And, so, the Bush administration, I think, faces a -- a really tough time in trying to convince those in the region, but, also, I think some of our allies in Europe and elsewhere, that its goals are achievable, and that it is sincere about them.

BLITZER: Robin Wright, thanks very much for joining us.

WRIGHT: Thank you.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: Israel's 34-day operation, though more limited than some here wanted, was massive. And the numbers tell the story. Here's the "Raw Data."

In the air war alone, Israel says it struck more than 7,000 targets in Lebanon, with more than 15,000 sorties flown. About 10,000 were combat missions. Another 2,000 were by helicopter. And Israel says its navy conducted more than 2,500 attacks from the sea.

The president of Iran has made no secret of his anti-Israeli views. Now he's spreading those views and others on the Internet. We will see what the critics have to say about the president of Iran's blog.

And the politics of terror, how Republicans and Democrats in the United States are flexing their political muscle, in the wake of those recent terror threats -- when 360 continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Celebrations in the streets of Iran Monday, in what they see as a win by Hezbollah over Israel.

In Iran, communication is strictly controlled, of course, by the hard-line government of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, everything from television to the Internet, which is why it's unusual, and perhaps ironic, that Iran's president has now launched his own blog on the World Wide Web, uncensored.

Here's CNN's Tom Foreman.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The Iranian president is under pressure for spending money on a nuclear program and charges that Iran is supporting Hezbollah, while 40 percent of his people live below the poverty line.

So, he is turning to the blogosphere to shore up support among conservative Muslims at home and abroad. But his new site on the World Wide Web is itself drawing a world of critics.

HADI GHAEMI, IRAN RESEARCHER, HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH: He is desperately trying to shore up his popularity, because, at such a critical time, he needs the support of the people. And -- and we know that there is a growing frustration with his policies within Iran. So, he's trying to change that. But I'm not sure if it's going to be successful.

FOREMAN: President Ahmadinejad's blog, a sort of online diary and discussion site, is available in four languages, and doesn't say much in any of them.

He tells about his childhood, some Iranian history, asks if readers think the U.S. and Israel are trying to start World War III. And, of course, he calls America "The Great Satan."

But human rights activists say, while he is using the Web to expand his freedom of speech, Ahmadinejad is cracking down on anyone who criticizes him.

GHAEMI: The government's attempts to control the Internet, to increase filtering, and to prosecute people who write critical views, express their critical views on the Internet, has increased.

FOREMAN: It is not uncommon for leaders to embrace new technology or popular culture when they're trying to win support. Bill Clinton played saxophone, Richard Nixon, the piano. Even Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez, while visiting the ailing Fidel Castro this week, played it for laughs, making a joke about the size of Castro's nose.

But, when older leaders try this sort of thing, it's often aimed at younger supporters. And, sure enough, in Iran right now, the median age is 25. So, will the president be able to wow the younger crowd there enough with his future blogging to shut down the critics? Like they say in Tehran, we will keep you posted.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

FOREMAN: It's easy to look at someone like this president and say he shouldn't care about the critics anyway. He's got firm control over everything.

But some people say that the mere fact that he has posted this blog is his recognition that the Internet is an open line of communication that many people are using to forward their opinions. And he wants to get into that game -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Tom Foreman, reporting for us, thank you.

Christiane Amanpour worked, lived in Iran for a while. She knows the country well. She has been reporting there on and off for us for more than a decade. She recently spent some time with the president, Ahmadinejad, himself.

What is the appeal of this Iranian leader to the Iranian people, Christiane?

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN ANCHOR: Well, in a nutshell, his election last June, a year ago, was a big surprise, in and outside the country.

But what people voted for, they told us and the polls showed, was not religion, not the nuclear issue. It was about making their lives better, about his promise to make them better off, to improve their economic situation. And that's basically what they voted for.

Now there are -- there is disillusion with some of the policies. There is disillusion with some of the economic steps, although he has handed out quite a lot of cash on his trips around the country. But he's probably becoming quite popular outside the country, as a sort of -- sort of kind of folk hero, if you like, as the alienation with Western policy and American policy in that region increases.

People see him as somebody who's ready to stand up and take a swipe.

BLITZER: What about the Iranians themselves right now in the government. How do they see themselves as a regional power?

AMANPOUR: Well, they're very clear, and they have been for awhile, particularly since his election. I have spoken to a lot of officials over the last year there. And they have a very, you know, unified theme, that they want to be taken seriously as a regional power, that they want to have good relations, even with the United States, but, as they always say, based on mutual respect and mutual self-interests, and that they don't want to be dictated to.

They feel that all politics towards them is one of telling them what what to do. And, of course, when you mention the issue of terrorism, when you mention the issue of the nuclear program, they get very, you know, defensive about that. And they say, though, about the nuclear issue, that they're not trying to pursue weapons, but that they are trying to simply have their right, under all these international treaties that they're party to, to have that program for peaceful energy purposes.

BLITZER: When -- when you have been there recently, Christiane, did you get the sense that they understand what kind of potential danger they face, not only from U.N. sanctions -- if, in fact, sanctions should go forward to try to convince them not to pursue a nuclear bomb -- but, beyond sanctions, a -- a U.S.-led strike, a military strike, if you will?

AMANPOUR: Well, they're -- they're -- they're certainly concerned about it, because they see how it has been talked about, certainly in the American media and in some circles in the United States.

They also have seen, you know, what's happened. They saw what happened in Iraq, and the run-up to Iraq, and the sort of rhetoric and language that was used.

But they're very clear that they don't believe that it will work, that they -- they see that they feel the American military is stretched, overstretched. And they also think that, you know, invading Iran is a completely different proposition than invading Iraq. It does have a robust army. It's a country of some 70 million people. And they don't think that either a strike, just an aerial strike, or an invasion will do them a huge amount of harm...

BLITZER: Christiane, stand by.

AMANPOUR: ... or will succeed.

BLITZER: We are going to have -- be coming -- going back to you in London in a moment with more on the investigation into the latest terror threats.

But, first, I want to go to CNN's Tom Foreman. He's in Washington with an A.C. 360 bulletin -- Tom.

FOREMAN: Thank you, Wolf.

A woman accused of killing her preacher husband earlier this year has been released from a Selmer, Tennessee jail. Mary Winkler was released on $750,000 bond. Winkler pleaded not guilty last month to first-degree murder. Her husband, a minister, was shot in their bedroom back in March. Mary Winkler's attorneys are talking with his parents, who have custody of the couple's three young children, to try to work out a visitation schedule.

U.S. drug enforcement officials say they have busted a Mexican heroin ring that stretched across America. About 150 suspects were arrested in 15 cities for offering -- get this -- at-home delivery of heroin to U.S. customers. More than half of those arrested are illegal immigrants.

In the first of many cases that may go to trial, a federal judge in Mississippi rejected an insurance claim filed by a couple whose home was flooded last year by Hurricane Katrina. But the judge approved the couple's claim for wind damage. As a result, Nationwide Mutual Insurance has been ordered to pay the couple more than $1,200 in damages. The couple says their home incurred more than $130,000 in damages. So, it's a bit of a split decision for flood victims there.

Former President Gerald Ford has been admitted to the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota for testing and evaluation. There are no details on Ford's condition. Mr. Ford, who is 93, has been hospitalized four times since December.

And actor Bruno Kirby has died of complications of leukemia at a Los Angeles hospital. He was best known for his roles in "The Godfather: Part II," "Good Morning Vietnam," and "When Harry Met Sally." Mr. Kirby was 57 years old -- Wolf.

BLITZER: And a great actor, indeed.

Thanks very much, Tom, for that.

Learning from the less -- the lessons from last summer -- President Bush is now spending less time clearing scrub at his Texas ranch, more time talking up his administration's war against terror.

Then: an exclusive interview with the soldiers who blew the whistle on the abuses at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. His life has changed beyond recognition, and not for the better.

This is a special edition of 360.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

AMANPOUR: Police searching the woods here in Britain -- today, police arrested a 24th suspect in the alleged plot to blow planes out of the skies, while, in the United States, President Bush continues to push his message that Republicans are tough on terrorism.

CNN's Ed Henry reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ED HENRY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Day two of President Bush's summer war on terror tour, five hours at the secretive National Counterterrorism Center -- message: It's a dangerous world this August, and I'm not on vacation.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Our most solemn duty in the federal government is to protect the American people. And I will assure the American people that we're doing everything in our power to protect you.

HENRY: With the war on terror a key issue in the midterm elections, the president wants to show he's engaged, unlike last summer, when he took a political hit for a slow reaction to Hurricane Katrina. So, he's taking credit for thwarting the plot to blow up as many as 10 jetliners headed from the U.K. to America. BUSH: Because of the good work in Great Britain and because of the help of the people there at NCTC, we disrupted a terror plot.

HENRY: This followed Monday's visits to the Defense and State Departments, where he declared Hezbollah the loser in its war with Israel, and was quick to lump that conflict in with the broader war on terror.

BUSH: We discussed the situation on the ground in three fronts of the global war on terror in Lebanon, and Iraq, and Afghanistan.

HENRY: That distinction is important, because a new poll from "Newsweek" shows, 55 percent of Americans approve of the president's handling of terrorism, an 11-point boost from May.

The White House strategy is to stay on offense, as Vice President Cheney did at a Republican fund-raiser, pivoting off anti-war Democrat Ned Lamont's victory over Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman.

RICHARD B. CHENEY, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The Dean Democrats have defeated Joe Lieberman. Their choice, instead, is a candidate whose explicit goal is to give up the fight against the terrorists in Iraq. For the sake of our security, this nation must reject any strategy of resignation and defeatism in the face of determined enemies.

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEOTAPE)

AMANPOUR: Ed, how is the White House responding to critics who say that there isn't enough money to fight the war on terror because it's going to other places, like Iraq?

HENRY: Well, White House spokesman Tony Snow today basically said it was bunk.

And his point of view is that, he said it's not like the homeland security secretary in the United States, Michael Chertoff, is suiting up to go to battle in Iraq. He said, there's enough funds here in the United States to wage an effective war on terror.

And, right now, we're coming up on the fifth anniversary of 9/11. And the White House feels -- and they push back by saying, proof is in the pudding. There has not been another terror attack on U.S. soil since 9/11. So, for now, they feel like they have thwarted a lot of these attacks -- Christiane.

AMANPOUR: Ed, thank you.

And that is the Republican take on the war on terror.

Here's CNN's Dana Bash with a look now at how the Democrats are responding.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) DANA BASH, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Just as the president was using the bully pulpit to talk tough on terrorism, Democratic senators, scattered across the country for summer recess, were holding a conference call with reporters to say not so fast.

SEN. CARL LEVIN (D), MICHIGAN: It's like a broken record. And the American people are not buying his effort to gain political advantage.

BASH: Democrats are working feverishly to make sure last week's blockbuster news about the alleged London terror plot doesn't turn into a summer surprise that helps Republicans in November.

HOWARD DEAN (D), DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: We have seen, in the last week or so, the Republicans going back to their same old playbook: You can't trust Democrats to defend America.

This time, that's not going to work.

BASH: Senate Democrats released this Internet video depicting the menacing forces still threatening Americans, and sums up with this bumper-sticker line: "Feel safer? Vote for change."

This is a party trying to learn lessons from the two elections since 9/11. Most Democrats lament, they allowed Republicans to use the war on terror against them, and win.

The most raw examples for Democrats, in 2002, allowing Republicans to beat triple amputee and Vietnam veteran Max Cleland of Georgia by calling him weak on national security. And in 2004, allowing these swift boat ads against John Kerry to go unanswered for some time.

LOUIS LETSON, VIETNAM WAR VETERAN: I know John Kerry is lying about his first Purple Heart.

JENNIFER PALMIERI, CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS: Democrats are often scared off by the security issue, because they think it's such a vulnerability for us, and the only way to deal with that is to show that we have a different world view.

BASH: But even before the latest terror plots stirred this round of political jockeying, Democrats were trying a new tactic for 2006. Don't run from Republicans on national security. Take them on.

(voice-over) Top Democrats say the key to a winning strategy on national security this year is not just retaliating against GOP attacks. They insist 2006 is fundamentally different from 2002 and 2004, because opposition to the Iraq war is now at an all-time high. Trust in the president has slipped, and Democrats insist Republicans will take the blame.

Dana Bash, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE) AMANPOUR: And just ahead, spinning the airline terror plot for political gain. We talked to former presidential adviser David Gergen about how both parties are playing it. That's coming up.

And an exclusive interview with the soldier who spoke out about the abuses at Abu Ghraib prison. How his life has changed, for speaking up, when 360 continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DICK CHENEY, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Last week's arrest in the U.K. remind us that the threat is still very real, that our enemies will not cease in their attempts to kill innocent Americans. It is critically important to remember that this nation is fighting a war, and I am concerned there may be a tendency in some quarters to discount the threat.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Vice President Dick Cheney speaking today in Phoenix, Arizona. Before the break, we looked at how Republicans and Democrats are using different strategies to try to turn the British terror arrests into votes at home.

Earlier I spoke with former presidential adviser David Gergen about the two different messages.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: David, talk about the Democrats and the Republicans. Who has the advantage right now, looking ahead to the mid-term congressional elections on this issue of fighting terrorism?

DAVID GERGEN, FORMER PRESIDENT ADVISOR: Well, right up until the arrests here this last weekend in London of all those terrorists, I think the Democrats clearly had the advantage. The tide's been moving in their direction.

They are playing the politics of intimidation -- of incompetence. The Democrats, that's their theme. This administration has been incompetent in pursuing the war on terror, both in Iraq and with regard to Israel and Hezbollah and it's been a mess.

But I think that the Republicans did have a lift. I don't think it gave the president much of a lift, but the Republicans at least have the argument coming out of London, they can again play the politics of fear.

BLITZER: They certainly showed after 9/11 that the Republicans, that is, and the president specifically that, when it comes to war on terrorism, this is a good issue for them politically.

GERGEN: It has been a good issue, Wolf, for two elections in a row: the election of 2002, the election of 2004. There are many observers here now believe that those arguments about you have to elect us because we're the only people that can stand up to this -- to this threat, that that argument is a little threadbare and that it won't work this time.

BLITZER: The argument that a lot of Democrats make is that the whole Bush administration strategy in Iraq has proven to be incompetent and that's taken away from the urgency of fighting al Qaeda and the war on terror by diverting resources. Is that an effective, strong argument?

GERGEN: It hasn't gotten a lot of traction in the past, but it was the best argument they had, right after London. I don't think that that is necessarily their best argument.

I think their better argument is that we have made such a hash of things in Iraq that we've turned it into a training ground for more terrorists. And in fact, what the president has done, what the administration -- I think this is the best Democratic argument, is he's started up a hornet's nest. We have better intelligence than we had, but there are one heck of a lot more terrorists than there used to be. And the threat has only grown. And we don't feel safe.

BLITZER: How does the Joe Lieberman defeat to Ned Lamont in the Connecticut Democratic primary play into this whole debate?

GERGEN: Well, it -- I think it will hurt the Democrats if it is perceived that they are simply a party of retreat; they simply want to cut and run. That phrase "cut and run" does hurt Democrats. And they have to avoid that.

They've got to be for robust military and a tough-minded response to terrorism, just not this response to terrorism.

Their argument is we're going to be tough but we're going to be smarter about this, not that we just want to get out of Iraq. That's the end of the story. We'll go hide under our beds and not worry about it. That will not win them any elections. So I think they've got to be very careful.

But at the same time, Wolf, you know, there is a, certainly in the press and I think to a degree with the public, when the vice president went after Lamont last week and then also Ken Mehlman from the RCN went after Lamont and said basically a vote for a Ned Lamont is a vote to help al Qaeda.

That is deeply offensive to people in the press. They've had a lot of columns written about that. And I do not think it plays well with the public.

I think the Republicans are going to have to be, well, I'd say more judicious in their rhetoric than using that kind of scalding rhetoric. I think that kind of rhetoric is going to drive people away, not bring people in.

BLITZER: David Gergen, thanks, as usual, for joining us.

GERGEN: OK, Wolf. It was good to talk to you again.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: Having covered some of the political repercussions of the war on terror, we'll turn next to an episode that might have shortened it but didn't. For that, let's send it back to Christiane in London -- Christiane.

AMANPOUR: Wolf, and that episode took place at a moment when al Qaeda was quite literally on the run.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

AMANPOUR (voice-over): December, 2001, a relentless bombing campaign. Air strikes thundered through the treacherous mountains of eastern Afghanistan. The battle of Tora Bora had begun.

Osama bin Laden, the jackal of 9/11, and hundreds of al Qaeda fighters had finally been cornered, or so it seemed.

GARY BERNTSEN, FORMER CIA OFFICER: We brought in Spectre gunships, which can put a bullet on every inch of a football field.

AMANPOUR: Gary Berntsen was the secret leader of a secret CIA paramilitary unit that had pursued bin Laden since he had fled Kabul, and now the CIA was sure it knew where he was, thanks in large part to a radio taken off a dead al Qaeda fighter.

BERNTSEN: We listened to bin Laden for several days, using that radio, listened to his communications among him and his men. We listened to him apologize to them for having led them into this trap, having led them into a location where they were being -- having air strikes called on them just relentlessly.

AMANPOUR (on camera): The plan was for Afghan and Pakistani soldiers to block any escape routes, but Osama bin Laden managed to slip away through the mountains, and the mission to capture or kill the al Qaeda leader failed. By most accounts, the main problem was not enough American soldiers on the ground.

BERNTSEN: In the first two or three days of December, I would write a message back to Washington, recommending the insertion of U.S. forces on the ground. I was looking for 600 to 800 Rangers, roughly a battalion. They never came.

AMANPOUR: Osama bin Laden, looking frail and much older than his 44 years after the massive onslaught at Tora Bora, had escaped again.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

AMANPOUR: And that report is part of a two-hour special investigation that CNN's Peter Bergen and I did, along with a lot of other talented producers, photographers and editors at CNN. It's called "In the Footsteps of Bin Laden" and you can see it in full starting on the 23rd of this month, 9 p.m. Eastern right here on CNN. And 360 tonight, blowing the whistle on Abu Ghraib, an exclusive interview with the U.S. soldier who handed over the prison abuse photos. How he and his family have been affected by his actions.

And another U.S. soldier in Iraq, this one an outcast for a different reason. We'll tell you why.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

AMANPOUR: And welcome back to London, near Tower Bridge, where we are.

Imagine being a 27-year-old soldier in the U.S. Army, and having to choose between betraying your fellow troops or doing what's morally right. That's the dilemma Joe Darby faced before he revealed photos of U.S. soldiers abusing Iraqis at Abu Ghraib prison.

As a result, at least 11 U.S. soldiers have been convicted, but Joe Darby has had to leave his hometown and go into hiding. He's featured in the September issue of "GQ" magazine, which goes on sale next Tuesday.

And CNN's Randi Kaye caught up with him in this, his first television interview since the scandal broke two years ago.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Growing up near the Appalachian Mountains, Joe Darby dreamed of a career in forestry. So he joined the military to help pay for college. Eventually, as an Army Reservist, he landed at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison.

(on camera) What was it like working there?

JOE DARBY, U.S. ARMY: Nerve-wracking at times, because we were constantly under mortar fire. We lived for the most part in prison cells.

KAYE (voice-over): It was bad. It would get worse in ways Darby never imagined.

DARBY: The first picture that was opened up was the picture of the pyramid of Iraqis, naked male Iraqis, and you know at first, I found it amusing, but it was more out of shock, because you know, it's something you would think a fraternity would do at college.

Then as I started to get more into flipping through more photos I realized exactly what I was looking at.

KAYE (on camera): And what did you think?

DARBY: I didn't know what to think.

KAYE (voice-over): Or what to do. The pictures, more than 100 on a CD, had been given to him by this man, Specialist Charles Graner. Graner is now serving 10 years for his part in the now infamous prison abuse.

Darby had asked him for travel photos.

DARBY: I think the picture that bothered me the most was the picture you see on the Internet and on TV of the -- the male Iraqi standing with the other male Iraqi kneeling in front of him with the sandbags over their heads.

KAYE: For weeks he struggled. Should he blow the whistle? Should he turn in the photos? Darby decided he should, anonymously.

(on camera) So what, in the end, made you decide to hand them over?

DARBY: Ultimately, it was just the right -- it needed to be done, and it was the right thing -- it had to be done.

KAYE: No matter what the consequences.

DARBY: No matter what the consequences.

KAYE: For you or the military.

DARBY: Yes.

KAYE (voice-over): The suspects were all told they were under investigation but all remained there working with Darby.

DARBY: They had their weapons. They slept in the same compound I did, and they were trying to find out who turned them in. And you know, for that four to six weeks, I lived in fear, worried that they would figure out it was me. I slept with a loaded weapon under my pillow until they left.

KAYE: Darby had special worries about Graner. He remembers a picture Graner showed him of a prisoner hand cuffed to his cell.

DARBY: There was water on the floor, and Graner looked at me and he says, "The Christian in me knows it's wrong, but the corrections officer in me can't help but love to make a grown man piss himself."

KAYE: Then, without warning, Darby was suddenly outed. He was in the mess hall watching as the world heard the news.

DONALD RUMSFELD, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: There are many who did their duty professionally, and we should mention that, as well. First, Specialist Joseph Darby, who alerted the appropriate authorities that abuses were occurring.

KAYE: Though proud of himself, others in the military and even in his own family called him a traitor, a rat, a whistleblower. He started getting hate mail. He and his family got threats.

Fearing for her safety, his wife called the Pentagon for protection.

(on camera) Are you a traitor?

DARBY: No.

KAYE: Do you see yourself as a rat?

DARBY: No.

KAYE (voice-over): Back in the states, Darby and his wife had to move. They entered military protective custody.

(on camera) How do you feel about being called a whistleblower?

DARBY (voice-over): I don't like the name, the tag that much. I view it as I was a soldier and I was an M.P., and I was just doing my job. And it was the right thing to do. They violated the law.

KAYE: But now, they can't tell anyone where they live, or who they work for.

Randi Kaye, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

AMANPOUR: Another member of the U.S. military is hurt and confused. Why did the Pentagon say thanks but no thanks to the American translator after it spent more than $100,000 training him to be fluent in Arabic? When 360 continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Pictures like that. Given the war on terror you would think that men like Ian Finkenbinder would be in great demand. And you'd be right. He speaks Arabic fluently. He was trained by the United States military to do it. So why is he out of a job today?

Here's CNN's Joe Johns.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Wanted, a few good men and women who speak Arabic. For the U.S. military in Iraq, Arabic translators are absolutely vital. In some cases Iraqis are preferred, because they understand a lot more nuance, but there aren't enough to go around. Plus Iraqi civilians generally cannot qualify for top secret clearances.

So as of last year the Army had, by one estimate, about 1,850 Arabic speakers in uniform. That's right, fewer than 2,000 to translate for the tens of thousands of people they've had on the ground in Iraq.

IAN FINKENBINDER, FORMER ARMY TRANSLATOR: I was collecting information on the streets with Iraqi -- with Iraqi civilians.

JOHNS: At the start of the war, Ian Finkenbinder was in the Army, a trained cryptologic linguist, intercepting and interpreting intelligence information doing critical work in Baghdad.

COOPER: The location of weapon caches, location of insurgent headquarters, who was insurgents, et cetera, et cetera.

JOHNS: He was so good that when his tour in Iraq ended, everyone wanted him to stay. So if Arabic speaking soldiers are so essential, why are we meeting Finkenbinder in this Baltimore coffee shop instead of a forward operating base in Iraq.

If you guessed the answers, it's because Finkenbinder is no longer trying to hide it.

FINKENBINDER: I said that I was a gay soldier and would like to continue serving in the Army as an openly gay soldier.

JOHNS: And that decision to come out and finally say what everyone in his unit knew or suspected forced his commander to kick him out. It's really a waste -- a waste of time, talent and money.

FINKENBINDER: Over a 10-year period, it happened to about 11,000 U.S. military personnel, a study shows, at a cost of more than $363 million. Under the so-called "don't ask, don't tell," policy, gays in uniform have to keep their sexual orientation a secret or they're out.

Researcher Nathaniel Frank tracked this issue for years. He says a lot of people fired under the policy held sensitive jobs.

NATHANIEL FRANK, UC SANTA BARBARA: Eight hundred of those have been mission critical specialists. Over 300 have been linguists, and over 55 of those have been Arabic linguists. And we have a dire shortage of those. So we are really causing a brain drain here.

JOHNS: The policy has always been controversial, but even now, there are many who say there should be an outright ban on gays in the military.

PETER SPRIGG, FAMILY RESEARCH COUNCIL: It's not just a matter of prejudice. It's a matter of not wanting to put into those intimate situations with someone who -- of the same sex who may be viewing you as a sexual object.

JOHNS: Finkenbinder says many in his unit knew he was gay, and there were never any problems. But there is a problem for the military. The policy is costing hundreds of millions of dollars and leaving the military short of Arabic-speaking soldiers in a region where understanding the language can mean the difference between life and death.

Joe Johns, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: And just ahead, the latest from Lebanon, and more on the terror investigation.

Also tonight, a proud widow of jihad. How al Qaeda seduced her loving husband into loving murder more.

And later, can airport screeners really stop shoe bombs? All that when 360 continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANNOUNCER: After 34 days of fighting, Israeli soldiers and tanks move out, evacuees move back in, with a push to give peace a chance. With help from thousands of U.N. troops, headed to the region.

Hatred for America.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What did you expect us to do? Be quiet and be calm? Turn the other cheek?

ANNOUNCER: Boiling young Muslim extremists in Britain. Why? What did the U.S. do?

And think about this the next time you take off your shoes at the airport. So is it a fluke? Or years after the shoe bomber got through security, do airport scanners still have an Achilles heal?

This is a special edition of ANDERSON COOPER 360. In for Anderson tonight, Christiane Amanpour in London and Wolf Blitzer in Jerusalem.

BLITZER: And good evening once again. Along with Christiane in London, with another arrest of the alleged airline terror plot, we begin with the cease-fire in Lebanon. Still shaky, but still holding. Israeli forces are pulling out. Lebanese troops are getting ready to move south.

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