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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Growing Problem; Bush vs. Ahmadinejad; The Devil and Chavez; No Jail Time for Karr?; Border for Fence Debate; Defending our Borders
Aired September 20, 2006 - 23:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
MICHAEL WARE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): U.S. military is far from crippling the deadly network. Abu Khalid al-Raqi (ph) is a top commander from the powerful alliance of local Islamic insurgent groups.
In his first television interview, he tells CNN Zarqawi's death brought change, but not what the U.S. had in mind. Instead, younger, even more radical al Qaeda leaders.
ABU KHALID AL-RAQI (ph) (through translator): Al-Zarqawi is one person, and al Qaeda is thousands of people.
WARE: Local Sunni insurgent groups more moderate than al Qaeda, and Iraqi nationalists mostly from Saddam's former military agree. Al Qaeda is becoming stronger. Listen to this nationalist insurgent commander. He says al Qaeda's decentralized structure, seemingly endless money and growing support in and out of Iraq is overpowering local guerrilla groups.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Al Qaeda's leadership is different. But as an idea, it has expanded. Because most other groups, pressured between U.S. forces and al Qaeda have had leaders killed or captured, and al Qaeda took over their fighters.
WARE: That's an assessment shared by many in the U.S. military. American commanders like Shawn McFarland confront the al Qaeda-led insurgency every day.
SHAWN MCFARLAND, AMERICAN COMMANDER: What we're trying to do here is counteract the strong presence of al Qaeda that's intermixed with some lingering Baathist influence.
WARE: Four months ago, Abu Khalid's (ph) insurgent group was distancing itself from al Qaeda. Now, he says, there's no difference at all.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Al Qaeda works within the resistance and is part of the resistance.
WARE: The Sunni groups say fear of civil war with Shiites in control of the Iraqi government and unchecked Iranian interference is driving them to al Qaeda.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): America came to Iraq saying it would free us from turning into a dictatorship, but that hasn't happened because the U.S. increased power of the Shia religious organizations, gave them the government, and we regard this as giving power to Iran.
WARE: If so, it is Zarqawi's most enduring legacy, his plan all along to spark sectarian conflict and draw Sunni insurgents to al Qaeda's cause. The insurgents say al Qaeda's hard line is gaining traction where there was little before.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): When the nationalist forces become weak, that leaves al Qaeda as a strong force in the area.
WARE: Yet the U.S. military is still hoping disillusioned moderate Sunnis reject al Qaeda.
MCFARLAND: Al Qaeda is herding them back toward us. So, to an extent that Sunnis may be trapped between the devil and deep blue sea.
WARE: But Sunni insurgents know one day the United States will leave Iraq and they believe al Qaeda will not.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Well, Michael, you know, Bush talked about al Qaeda's plans to infiltrate the government of al-Anbar Province. Is there evidence of that at this point?
WARE (on camera): Absolutely, Anderson. I mean, as we know, Osama bin Laden and his deputy Ayman al-Zawahiri have said it's in al- Anbar Province that is the toe hold from which we will build the caliphate, the religions state that will spread across the world.
What Marines intelligence discovered in Ramadi, the provincial capital, is that al Qaeda had infiltrated or penetrated, for example, the oil ministry so extensively that it dominated the distribution of oil, coming down from refineries, passing through a government distribution center, down to the gas stations. And were making between $400,000 and $600,000 every month that they are using to fund operations against U.S. forces -- Anderson.
COOPER: How much -- I mean, at this point, I know we don't know and they have been searching and interrogating people, but I mean, how much is al Qaeda in control of this thing, in terms of numbers on the ground? Is this still very much a Sunni-based nationalistic insurgency or is it foreign fighters, is it al Qaeda and Iraq guys?
WARE: Well, we've seen this ebb and flow, the balance between the foreign elements and the extreme Iraqi element that it's created. Remember, there's no al Qaeda here under Saddam. There was some fertile ground, but no one had plowed it. Well, al Qaeda has done that. Now there's hundreds, if not thousands of al Qaeda members from Iraq who were not before the invasion.
But what we see is that al Qaeda has a small foreign core and then it has its Iraqi body around it. What we're now seeing is that group growing more and more and taking over much more of the local fight than we saw before. So, a group that was once only 5 percent of the insurgency, is now larger, and its influence way beyond that -- Anderson.
COOPER: Troubling. Michael Ware, thanks.
That's the picture on the ground.
More now on the implication from CNN Terrorism Analyst Peter Bergen author of, "The Osama bin Laden I know." We spoke earlier.
COOPER: Peter, Michael Ware's piece is incredibly troubling. It really is what Abu Musab al-Zarqawi wanted all along, bringing Sunni insurgents into the al Qaeda fold.
PETER BERGEN, CNN TERRORISM ANALYST: Yes, you know, there was a great to do was made of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's death. And in fact the violence has spiked since he died. So, it's not about just one person, obviously, but al Qaeda in Iraq remains pretty vibrant.
We have a new leader, a guy with the nom de guerre of al-Mujahir (ph), and he's an Egyptian. He would have known Ayman al-Zawahiri, the number two in al Qaeda for several decades because he joined a jihad group in Egypt in 1982.
So, I think another troubling aspect of this, Anderson, is that al Qaeda in Iraq, I think, will take even more direction from al Qaeda central in the Afghan-Pakistan border with this new leadership in place.
COOPER: So you think, really, that the orders are coming from al Qaeda central in Pakistan?
BERGEN: Well, certainly we've seen that in the past. You know, we've seen, Ayman al-Zawahiri, the number two tell Zarqawi to kind of, enough of the beheadings. And there was actually fewer beheadings after that letter, which went to Zarqawi in 2004.
So, we've certainly seen them try and influence by letters and by public statements, al Qaeda in Iraq's activities. But I think that now that you have an Egyptian, who's long allied to Ayman al-Zawahiri, in charge of the group, I think it's going to be playing much more to al Qaeda central's script, because I think Zarqawi was sort of a loose cannon they didn't have a great deal of control over.
COOPER: We heard in the piece the notion that al Qaeda's a more permanent presence in Iraq than U.S. forces certainly are. How accurate do you think that is? I mean, if the U.S. pulled out or withdrew to bases or some of the various plans that are being considered, or reduced their footprint, does al Qaeda remain? I mean, if it becomes just a civil war in Iraq without a foreign presence, does al Qaeda still have a reason detra?
BERGEN: Well, I think Ayman al-Zawahiri laid it out in his autobiography pretty well. I mean, their strategy is to gain a state or part of a state in the Middle East, where better than the central western Iraq. So it is al Qaeda's fervent desire and wish to remain in Iraq for as long as possible.
Obviously from an American national security perspective, the most important thing that we need to be doing is preventing that happening. I mean, let's forget about trying to prevent the civil war. That train seems to have already left the station. But a sort of minimalist interpretation of our national security is to prevent this mini state emerging. That is al Qaeda's goal. That is their strategy. And they've said it so publicly.
COOPER: So, in your opinion, I mean, there's a political debate about whether Iraq is a central front in the war on terror or the central front on the war in terror. What's your opinion? Do you think it is? You can make the argument it didn't have to be, it shouldn't have been, it wasn't originally. Now, here now, do you think it is?
BERGEN: Well, I think there are very few things that President Bush and Osama bin Laden agree on, and they both agree that this is the central front on the war on terror. I think if they are agreeing on something like this, it's probably true.
It didn't have to happen this way, but it's certainly the outcome, sort of speaks for itself. I mean suicide attacks going through the roof. More and more violence in Iraq. Much of it generated by al Qaeda and its affiliates.
COOPER: Peter Bergen, thanks.
BERGEN: Thank you, Anderson.
COOPER: Well, as al Qaeda grows in Iraq, so does the death count, and it is staggering. Here's the raw data. According to the United Nations, nearly 6,600 civilians were killed in July and August alone. During that same time, more than 8,000 Iraqis were wounded. Since January, the U.N. says more than 20,000 Iraqi civilians have been killed.
Now, a crisis that some believe could one day make the war in Iraq as terrible as it looks, like a -- well, make it look like a day at the beach.
We're talking, of course, about the showdown with Iran over Iran's nuclear program. For the moment, it's a diplomatic standoff. But even as he pushes for a negotiated settlement, President Bush says time is running out.
Iran has failed to obey a U.N. Security Council resolution and stop enriching uranium. The security council appears divided over what to do next.
With that as the backdrop, President Bush and President Ahmadinejad addressed the U.N. general assembly yesterday. We spoke with both men today. That story is coming up.
But first CNN's Tom Foreman.
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): The two presidents took to the podium hours apart, but debated their major disagreements anyway. Starting with the hottest question -- is Iran developing nuclear weapons?
From Mr. Bush, a sharp accusation. From Mr. Ahmadinejad, a flat no.
MAHMOUD AHMADINEJAD, PRESIDENT OF IRAN (through translator): All of our nuclear activities are transparent, peaceful, and under the watchful eyes of the I.A.E.A. inspectors.
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Iran must abandon its nuclear weapons ambitions, despite what the regime tells you. We have no objection to Iran's pursuit of a truly peaceful nuclear power program.
AHMADINEJAD (through translator): Threats with nuclear power by some powers have taken the place of respect for other nations.
BUSH: We're working toward a diplomatic solution to this crisis.
FOREMAN: What about Iraq? Again, a clash.
BUSH: Some have argued that the democratic changes we're seeing in the Middle East are destabilizing the region. This argument rests on a false assumption that the Middle East was stable to begin with.
AHMADINEJAD (through translator): Not a day goes by without hundreds of people getting killed in cold blood. The occupiers are incapable of establishing security in Iraq. There is no indication that the occupiers have the necessary political will to eliminate the sources of instability.
FOREMAN: On Israel, Mr. Ahmadinejad accused the Jewish state, with America's help, of ceaselessly persecuting Palestinians.
AHMADINEJAD (through translator): Can there be a more vivid case of discrimination.
FOREMAN: Mr. Bush said...
BUSH: I'm committed to two democratic states, Israel and Palestine living side by side in peace and security.
FOREMAN: The Iranian president repeatedly said America uses economic and military strength to prey upon weaker nations, making the U.N. a puppet.
AHMADINEJAD (through translator): When the power behind the hostilities is itself a permanent member of the security council, how can it fulfill its mission?
FOREMAN: President Bush said the U.N. still offers hope for all nations to cooperate.
BUSH: Or will we yield the future to the terrorists and extremists? America's made its choice.
FOREMAN (on camera): There is no way of telling who won this debate that never was. But all over Washington, people do know this -- a little more than a year ago, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was a little known figure. And now, he's debating the leader of the most powerful nation on the planet, or at least coming close.
Tom Foreman, CNN, Washington.
COOPER: Well, two leaders, more or less talking past one another. Would they change their positions at all? Today, one-on- one.
Mr. Bush spoke today with CNN's Wolf Blitzer.
I paid a call on President Ahmadinejad. We covered a lot of ground. Here are some highlights.
COOPER: You said at the U.N. yesterday that your nuclear program is, quote, "transparent, peaceful, and under the watchful eyes of I.A.E.A. inspectors." That's not what I.A.E.A. inspectors have said in a recent report. They have said that they frankly cannot verify the peaceful nature of your program, and that is it not transparent. Why not just open up the program and fulfill all of the requirements that the I.A.E.A. would like?
AHMADINEJAD (through translator): The I.A.E.A. has indicated that it has found no evidence that would show that Iran is developing nuclear energy for other purposes that are other than peaceful. But they have always said that. So you have to show me where this report is. Have they ever said Iran has in fact not abided by its commitments?
COOPER: You have repeatedly implied that the holocaust never happened. And it certainly seems to be -- and implied that more research needs to be done on whether or not it did happen. I mean the argument can be made that the genocide was perhaps the most well- documented genocide of the 20th century. Do you believe that the holocaust never happened?
AHMADINEJAD (through translator): I like to raise a question. If this event happened, where did it happen? The where is the main question. And it was not in Palestine. Why is the holocaust used as a pretext to occupy Palestinian lands? That subject, how is it connected to the occupying regime in Jerusalem?
COOPER: You do realize, though, why it would be deeply offensive to so many people that you even say if it ever happened?
AHMADINEJAD (through translator): Well, you don't speak here for all Americans. In the past two or three days I've met with many members of the media and the press here, some who are even related to the U.S. government. But the questions are the same across the board.
COOPER: President Bush, at the U.N., spoke, tried to speak directly to the Iranian people yesterday and he said...
AHMADINEJAD (through translator): Did you get the answer you wanted about the holocaust?
COOPER: I didn't, but I know my time is limited. It's a fascinating subject. I mean, I think what people in America...
AHMADINEJAD (through translator): Are you asking the questions that are on your mind or questions that are given to you by others?
COOPER: Actually, in America we have a free press unlike in parts of Iran. But I'm asking the questions that I'm interested in. What is your message to the American people? What do you want them to know about Iran, about you?
AHMADINEJAD (through translator): Our message is the message of peace and brotherhood with all nations, with all people. And we, like all nations, we are against oppression and injustice. And we love the American people as we love our own. We respect everyone.
To clarify issues, I would call Mr. Bush to debate. I propose that we sit and have a debate, to talk about our positions, to discuss issues and allow everyone around the world to hear the debate. This was a great suggestion, I think, because I believe that, after all, it's the public opinion, the world public opinion, to have information and decide.
COOPER: Well, CNN's Wolf Blitzer interviewed President Bush today. They talked about Iran, Iraq and the war on terror, including the failed efforts to find Osama bin Laden and his closest associates.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WOLF BLITZER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The United States is the most powerful country in the world.
BUSH: Can I finish? Can I finish?
BLITZER: Why can't we find these guys?
BUSH: Woe. Woe. Thank you. Give me a chance to finish.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: A little testy there. Coming up, the rest of his answer, and more from Wolf's interview with president. Also, if you thought the speech Iran's president gave at the U.N. was bold, it pales next to what Hugo Chavez said today. Did you hear it? It's all about the devil and sulfur. He called President Bush the devil, among other things.
Plus, a surprise in the Senate. Republicans now embracing the idea of building a border fence. How that happened and what one of the fence's longtime supporters, Pat Buchanan has to say about it all when 360 continues.
COOPER: President Bush and President Ahmadinejad spoke at length about each other in their speeches to the U.N., but they didn't speak directly to each other. They weren't even in the same room and that was no accident. The U.S. has said it will not hold talks with any kind of Iran until it suspends its uranium enrichment program.
When Wolf Blitzer sat down with President Bush earlier today, that's where Wolf began.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: What would be wrong to just sit down with him and tell him, you know what, here are the options before you?
BUSH: Yes, well, he knows the options before him. I made that very clear.
Secondly, Wolf, in order for there to be effective diplomacy, you can't keep changing your word. At an important moment in these negotiations with the EU-3 and Iran, we made it clear, we would come to the table, but we would come to the table only if they verifiably suspended their enrichment program. And the reason that's important that they verifiably suspend is because we don't want them to have technologies necessary to be able to build a nuclear weapon.
BLITZER: Let's move on and talk a little bit about Iraq. I'll read to you what Kofi Annan said on Monday. He said, "if current patterns of alienation and violence persist much further, there is a grave danger the Iraqi state will break down, possibly in the midst of a full-scale civil war." Is this what the American people bought into?
BUSH: You know, it's interesting you quoted Kofi. I would rather quote the people on the ground who are very close to the situation, who live it day by day. Our ambassador or General Casey. I ask this question all the time. Tell me what it's like there. And this notion that we're in civil war is just not true, according to them. These are the people that live the issue.
BLITZER: We see these horrible -- bodies showing up tortured, mutilation. The Shia and the Sunni, the Iranians apparently having a negative role, of course...
BLITZER: Al Qaeda in Iraq still operating.
BUSH: You see it on TV and that's the power of an enemy that is willing to kill innocent people. But there's also an unbelievable will and resiliency by the Iraqi people.
BLITZER: I woke in New York like you did this morning. I read...
BUSH: What are you reading there?
BLITZER: "The New York Times," there's a paragraph in here. I'll read it to you. It's about your dad's former Secretary of State James Baker. "In his 1995 memoir, Mr. Baker said he opposed ousting Saddam Hussein in the Persian Gulf War in 1991 because he feared that such action might lead to an Iraqi civil war, to criticism from many of our allies and to an eventual loss of American support for an occupation."
BUSH: Yes. He was writing before September 11, 2001. And the world changed that day, Wolf.
BLITZER: But Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11.
BUSH: Excuse me for a minute, please. The world changed that day because we had to deal with threats. No question, Saddam Hussein did not order the attacks. On the other hand, Saddam Hussein was viewed as a threat by the Congress, by the United Nations and by the United States administration.
And so, James Baker was writing before the world changed. And we took out Saddam Hussein because he was viewed as a threat. He was a state sponsor of terror. He had used weapons of mass destruction. He had invaded his neighbors. The decision was the right decision. And now the question is, will this country and our coalition partners have the will to support this new government, a democracy in the heart of the Middle East?
BLITZER: We all remember what happened five years ago. We remember the bullhorn when you said the people who brought these buildings down, they're going to hear from us pretty soon. Osama bin Laden is still at large. Ayman al-Zawahiri's still at large. What went wrong?
BUSH: Well, a lot went right. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, if we can get a good bill out of the Senate and the House, he's going to go on trial. Ramzi bin al-Shibh, Abu Zabeda (ph), the whole...
BLITZER: The major guys are still at large.
BUSH: Well, no question Osama bin Laden's at large. But the man who ordered the attack and about 75 percent to 80 percent of al Qaeda that was involved in planning and operating the attacks are... (CROSSTALK)
BLITZER: The United States is the most powerful country in the world.
BUSH: Can I finish? Can I finish?
BLITZER: Why can't we find these guys?
BUSH: Woe. Woe. Thank you. Give me a chance to finish.
Osama bin Laden is in hiding and we're still spending a lot of time trying to find him. But the key thing that the American people have got to know is that security comes not only with getting him, which I'm convinced we will, but also doing other things to protect them.
One is to dismantle al Qaeda. Two is to listen to phone calls if al Qaeda's calling the United States, and respond to that. Three is to get information so we can prevent attack.
Getting bin Laden is important. But doing, putting things in place, putting procedures in place that protect you is equally important and we're doing both.
COOPER: Well, President Bush and his war on terror were targets today for Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez. He didn't mince words. What he said shocked even some seasoned diplomats.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN BOLTON, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO U.N.: We're not going to address that sort of comic strip approach to international affairs.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, the speech President Chavez gave didn't go over well with the United States, to say the least. Coming up, what he said, and why it might hurt rather than help his cause.
And an unbelievable new twist in the case against John Mark Karr, the man who said he killed JonBenet Ramsey. The latest on that, when 360 continues.
COOPER: What a day at the U.N. Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez took his turn at the podium. Today, Mr. Chavez -- he's not exactly a fan of President Bush or the U.S. He's also not known for being soft-spoken or understated. What he said today, however, stunned even the most seasoned U.N. watchers.
Here's CNN's Brian Todd.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): An extraordinary show of by belligerence on the general assembly floor. Venezuela's president one-ups his Iranian counterpart, personally tearing into George W. Bush, who had spoken at the same spot less than 24 hours earlier.
HUGO CHAVEZ, PRESIDENT OF VENEZUELA (through translator): Yesterday the devil came here, right here, right here. And it still smells of sulfur still today.
TODD: Hugo Chavez was just getting started.
CHAVEZ (through translator): The gentleman whom I refer to as the devil came here, talking as if he owned the world. Wherever he looks, he sees extremists and you, my brother, he looks at your color and he says, oh, there's an extremist.
TODD: Then came this ominous warning to President Bush.
CHAVEZ (through translator): I have the feeling, dear world dictator, that you are going to live the rest of your days as a nightmare because the rest of us are standing up.
TODD: A White House spokeswoman says this is not worthy of a comment. The U.S. ambassador chimes in.
JOHN BOLTON, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO U.N.: We're not going to address that sort of comic strip approach to international affairs.
TODD: But Chavez does get serious. Repeating claims about an attempt to overthrow him in April 2002.
CHAVEZ (through translator): The U.S. has already planned, financed and set in motion a coup in Venezuela and it continues to support coup attempts in Venezuela and elsewhere.
TODD: We spoke with Roger Noriega, former assistant secretary of state for western hemispheric affairs for President Bush, who was involved in a State Department investigation into those charges, requested by Congress.
ROGER NORIEGA, FORMER ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF STATE: the U.S. had nothing to do with that. As a matter of fact, we warned Chavez about previous coup plotting, and his reaction was generally, yes, we know all about that. So there is no credibility behind his statements.
TODD: What's more, Chavez's verbal onslaughts could boomerang.
BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Obviously, I think he made a mistake to do it. I wish he hadn't done it. You know, he's not hurting us, he's just hurting himself and his country.
TODD: Hurting himself, analysts say, by undermining efforts to win Venezuela a temporary seat on the U.N. Security Council. Or possibly jeopardizing millions of dollars in oil sales to the U.S. Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.
COOPER: It was a fascinating day.
Well, a plea deal for the man arrested for the murder of JonBenet Ramsey. A plea deal. John Mark Karr is one step closer to freedom. And another misstep may be to blame for his release. We'll have that ahead.
And Senate Republicans say it is time to build a fence to keep illegal immigrants out. Democrats compare it to the Berlin Wall. The battle over immigration when 360 continues.
COOPER: The strange saga of John Mark Karr will soon be coming to a close. Cleared of one of the most infamous child murders in recent memory, Karr is still behind bars, but thanks in part to a mistake by authorities, he could be free within days.
CNN's Dan Simon reports.
DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): John Karr had to feel much better about his future when he appeared in a California courtroom Tuesday. The one-time JonBenet Ramsey murder suspect might have the cops to thank for a deal that would include no prison time for allegedly possessing child pornography. Karr has pleaded not guilty.
California authorities got involved when the Colorado case collapsed. That's because Karr was accused of five misdemeanors in 2001, charged with storing pornographic images on his computer.
(On camera): But the Sonoma County Sheriff's Department lost Karr's computer that contained the images. The smoking begun, as it were, is missing. The sheriff's department says it doesn't believe the case is compromised because it made printed copies of the photos which allegedly show children in sexual positions.
(Voice-over): The district attorney's office didn't return our calls, but a spokesman told a local newspaper they have sufficient evidence to still link the images to Mr. Karr.
Still, legal experts say it represents a tremendous blow to the prosecution.
ROY MILLER, ATTORNEY: It's very embarrassing. And while it's not necessarily fatal to a case here in California, it's a significant problem.
SIMON: Attorney Roy Miller used to work in the Sonoma D.A.'s office and believes his former colleagues had little choice but to make a deal.
MILLER: When you have a main piece of evidence go missing, it damages the case and it probably had a role in their deciding to offer him credit for time served after screaming last week that he was a flight risk and wanting him basically held without bail.
SIMON: The specific deal extended to Karr would have him plead guilty to two of the five charges. Karr would get credit for time served and would get three years' probation. He would also be required to register as a sex offender.
ROBERT AMPARAN, KARR'S ATTORNEY: We may be going back to the D.A. with a counteroffer.
SIMON: Karr's newest attorney, he's had several since the start of his legal woes, says they haven't decided their next move. But, like previous lawyers, says Karr is a misunderstood man. Even calling him a southern gentleman.
AMPARAN: There's a whole different John Mark Karr that will eventually be portrayed both to the media and the awaiting public. It's a false picture.
JOHN MARK KARR, MADE FALSE STATEMENTS ABOUT KILLING JONBENET RAMSEY: I love JonBenet, and she died accidentally.
SIMON: A picture that began in Thailand with these bizarre, and what we know now are false statements. When Karr was first arrested, the question was whether he would be eligible for the death penalty. Now the question is whether he will serve time in prison at all.
Dan Simon, CNN, San Francisco.
COOPER: Well, joining me now to talk about the case, CNN's Senior Legal Analyst Jeffrey Toobin and "COURT TV" Anchor Lisa Bloom. You know, Lisa -- hey, happy birthday. I know you want to spend your birthday here talking about John Mark Karr.
LISA BLOOM, "COURT TV" ANCHOR: Everybody has one.
COOPER: Yes. It's amazing that this has gone from what it was -- I don't even know what it was a month ago, two months ago, to this. How has it ended up like this?
BLOOM: Well, I think it's unfortunate, first of all, a possession of child porn which in this case, according to the police affidavits, is depictions of little girls having sex. That that's only a misdemeanor which means punishable one year maximum.
COOPER: That really surprised me. I thought it was automatic jail.
BLOOM: So why wouldn't it be a felony? It should be a felony, in my view, in California. Unfortunately, it's not. Maybe this case will lead to some change in that area.
He's charged with five counts. They're allowing him to plead guilty to two. They're dropping three probably because apparently there was this error of the computer being lost. Without that evidence, it is certainly a very tough case to try.
COOPER: And Jeff, I mean, if he doesn't take the plea deal, it could go to court. Do they have a case without the computer?
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Very tough to know exactly how they would do it. They say they still have the photographs, but, you know, cross-examination of the cops, so where did you get the photographs? From the computer. Well, where's the computer? Uh, it's lost. I mean, you know, that's a very tough proposition in front of a jury.
And as unappealing a character as he is, you know you still have to have evidence. And every plea negotiation is just a question of leverage. And the absence of the computer gave the defense the leverage to keep this guy out of prison.
Now, the prosecution, to its credit, I think, did get the sex offender status which I think accomplishes the goal of protecting society. With misdemeanors he wasn't going to go for prison for very long. So, at least he is a sex offender, which it seems to be an appropriate resolution.
COOPER: And so, Lisa, that would mean he would at least have to register?
BLOOM: Yes, we have to trust him to register. You know, there's a lot of sex offenders who don't register, and we don't have the resources to keep up with them.
He was also charged with being a fugitive from justice when he was first brought back from Thailand. You might remember that. I guess that's being thrown out too. We haven't heard anything further about that.
You know, this guy is a serious threat. I think most people who look at him, who listen to the statements he's made about little girls, all of the e-mails that he sent to that law professor. You know, he's a scary guy. This is a guy who is a threat to children. And unfortunately, apparently because of this blunder, he's going to be out now, out on the streets.
TOOBIN: He's a scary guy, he's a creep, he's awful. I think in fairness to him, it needs to be said there has never been any proof, and even an accusation that he molested anybody. I mean, he has this obviously extremely unhealthy interest in young girls. And he married a 13-year-old. But he has never been accused of assaulting anybody.
COOPER: Do either of you have any doubt that he's going to have a book deal, maybe a TV show, or certainly appearances on lots of TV shows, if he wants?
BLOOM: I don't think he's going to have his own TV show...
BLOOM: I think that's going too far...
COOPER: I know at least one network that seems to rotate hosts pretty often, so.
TOOBIN: I don't think so. I do think that the competition for the first interview with him will be...
COOPER: But he can have a book deal, I mean he can make money off this without -- there's no law preventing him from making money off of this?
BLOOM: No, because he's not convicted of a crime. There's no Son of Sam issue. But is he really going to have a book deal? You know, we hear that a lot with a lot of people in these cases and then they tend to just go away. Are you going to buy his book?
COOPER: It's already half written.
BLOOM: Well, that's true.
TOOBIN: Well, I guess you could say, here's my confession that is false. I mean, it is -- you know, our society rewards people for all sorts of bad behavior. This is so bizarre and so bad, I'm not sure there will be a book deal.
COOPER: Also, because of all the media attention on this, it did bring out a sort of a whole cast of characters, too. There were these two attorneys who I spoke to, who were allegedly his attorneys in California for like a blip.
COOPER: Where they ever his attorneys?
BLOOM: Well, yes.
COOPER: They're not his attorneys now...
BLOOM: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) and Jane Harmon (ph), they did represent him a couple of years ago when the child porn charges were first brought. Then he was brought back, as you know, in this media firestorm in the JonBenet case. They didn't represent him in that because that was a Colorado case, and they were California attorneys. Although, they did meet with him when he first came back to California.
COOPER: Right. That's when we talked.
BLOOM: Now he has a different public defender, who also says he's a great guy, he's misunderstood. So, like those two women, these attorneys seem to bond with him.
BLOOM: Go figure, Anderson.
COOPER: Go figure, I got nothing left to ask. That's it. Lisa...
TOOBIN: John Mark Karr, he was here and now he's gone. Just seems like he blew across the...
COOPER: I don't think he's gone. I think he's going to be around for a while. We'll see.
Jeff Toobin, thanks.
Lisa Bloom, happy birthday.
BLOOM: Thanks, Anderson.
COOPER: Coming up, protecting our country's borders. The debate over immigration back on Capitol Hill. What Republicans say has to be done to keep illegal immigrants out and why some Democrats, well, why they say they're going to fight back, when 360 continues.
COOPER: Well, the issue of illegal immigration and what to do about it, is dividing Washington and the country and not always along party lines. It cuts many ways. And the GOP has had a devilish time hashing it out. With elections fast approaching, lawmakers tried again today.
CNN's Congressional Correspondent Dana Bash reports.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Harkin, aye.
DANA BASH, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It has been stalled in the Senate for four months.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The ayes are 94, the nays are zero.
BASH: Suddenly, a unanimous vote to take up immigration again. But today's debate is a far cry in from the comprehensive immigration reform President Bush wanted.
This is about building a huge fence. A double layered 700-mile fence at several illegal immigration hot spots along the U.S.-Mexican border. SENATOR JEFF SESSIONS (R), ALABAMA: It will establish operational control of the border. Now, most people think we ought to have that now, but we haven't. We do not have operational control of the border.
BASH: Democrats compared the fence to the Berlin Wall.
SENATOR PATRICKLEAHY (D), VERMONT: A wall of this magnitude will be a scar in our landscape.
BASH: They estimate it would cost taxpayers $9 million a mile, $6.6 billion total. And call it an election-year Republican stunt.
SENATOR KEN SALAZAR (D), COLORADO: It is a cop-out and it is a political gimmick that is being played on the people of the United States of America.
BASH: Back in May, the Senate passed a comprehensive immigration reform with great fanfare.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is a success for the American people.
BASH: But that hope for sweeping changes that pass the citizenship for illegal immigrants was blocked. Conservatives on the campaign trail, like Senator Rick Santorum, called the president's approach amnesty for law breakers.
SENATOR RICK SANTORUM (R), PA: And we need to deliver first on border security.
SENATOR BILL FRIST (R), MAJORITY LEADER: It's pretty clear to everyone that we will not reach a conference agreement on comprehensive immigration reform before we break in September.
BASH: Putting immigration reform on the sidelines is a blow to a president who made it a priority with a prime time address.
BUSH: I support a temporary worker program that would create a legal path for foreign workers.
BASH: And repeatedly sent top Adviser Karl Rove to Capitol Hill to pressure House Republicans, but they would not yield. Now, Republicans are looking for a pre-election accomplishment. And border security fits into their we'll defend Americans talking points.
So, Mr. Bush tells CNN he'd sign off on the fence and try to revive his guest worker program down the road.
BUSH: I would view this as an interim step. I don't view this as the final product.
BASH (on camera): The fence is just one part of the Republicans get touch on security strategy. The GOP-led House passed a measure requiring proof of citizenship to vote and they plan to criminalize digging tunnels used to smuggle illegal immigrants and drugs beneath the U.S.-Mexican border. Dana Bash, CNN, Capitol Hill.
COOPER: Well, coming up, former presidential candidate, best- selling author and Talk Show Host Pat Buchanan weighs in on the debate over immigration. It's the topic of his new best-selling book. I'll talk to him when 360 continues.
COOPER: Joining me for more on the proposed immigration bill on Capitol Hill is Pat Buchanan. He is a former presidential candidate and political pundit. He's made immigration a central issue, specifically, controlling the flow of immigrants, both legal and illegal, in defending our boarders.
His ideas are featured in his new boo, "State of Emergency, the Third World Invasion and Conquest of America."
Pat, thanks very much for being on the program.
You know, it's interesting. I seem to remember about 15 years ago you called for a fence to be built, a 70-mile fence along the border. You were kind of vilified at time, if I remember correctly. Today, the Senate's talking about building a 700-mile fence. What changed?
PAT BUCHANAN, AUTHOR, "STATE OF EMERGENCY": What changed was back in '91 it was California that was faced with this really massive invasion where you had thousands every weekend would come in.
And I only called 70 miles of fence along the seven main border crossings where masses of illegals were coming in.
Anderson, what changed is we got more illegal aliens in this country today, 12 million, than all the Irish and Jewish folks and all the English, whoever came in our history. We apprehended 150,000 every month for the first 5 months of this year. That's each month more people breaking in than all of the troops we got if Iraq. We're dealing with an invasion and the whole country knows it now.
COOPER: It is staggering when you go down, you talk to the Border Patrol men and women, you know, who are every day out there in the sun, I mean, doing -- it's kind of a thankless task.
COOPER: Trying to stem this flow. But, you know, you talk to them, and a lot of them will tell you a wall won't work. I mean, you can build a wall 500 feet high and 50 feet deep, and people will still try to find a way around it.
BUCHANAN: Sure they will. And no, it's not going to stop everybody, but I'll tell you what it will do, it will stop the millions. I mean, you won't have and 150,000 people getting through a security fence, a double line security fence with a road in between and the Border Patrol dealing with it.
You can deal with the huge numbers, Anderson, if you do that; and if you don't do it, frankly, and if there is an amnesty, I think instead of 12 million, you're going to have 25 million or 30 million the next time the next amnesty comes along.
Everybody knows it. The whole world is coming now, Anderson. The number of people not from Mexico, other than Mexicans, has tripled in the last three years alone.
If you don't build a fence, I think you're at risk of losing your country.
COOPER: Can't America do both? I mean, can't America work on border security, on securing the fence and pass a, you know, what they call comprehensive immigration reform?
BUCHANAN: The country doesn't want amnesty, it doesn't want the guest work program. Single poll in Pennsylvania, 79 percent oppose amnesty, 82 percent want a wall. That means almost all Republicans, most independents and half the Democrats. You can't do it. The president can't do. He's realizing that, Anderson.
What he should have done is step out as soon as he got back from vacation and say we can't do it all now, but we can secure the border. Border security is also homeland security. Let's do that. Let's not make the best be the enemy of the good. And I think the Republicans have realized that. Frankly -- and they can get through a good border security program and get it financed in the next two weeks and it will help them in the election. More than that, it will be good for America.
COOPER: Rick Santorum, who I think had a, like a double digit, was behind in double digits, has run this commercial, running on immigration, and closing the gap with his competitor. Do you think a lot of Republicans are seeing that and that's motivating some movement in the Senate?
BUCHANAN: No doubt about it, a border security fellow, Randy Grath (ph) won in that Tucson district.
Bilbray, who had 15 percent in the first runoff, second runoff, won the election in California. His issue was, I reject John McCain's/Kennedy's amnesty bill. McCain was going to come out and help him, and McCain took off and Bilbray won it.
All over the country, tough border security is the best issue the Republicans have this fall.
COOPER: Today a bill passed the House in which Americans are required to show proof of citizenship in order to vote. A Democrat from Georgia, David Scott, said this is nothing but a bold attempt, a shameless attempt by the Republican Party to target those types of voters that they believe will not vote for them, but would vote for Democrats. Do you think that's true? BUCHANAN: That is preposterous. You mean that the simple showing that you are an American, American citizen, as a condition of voting is somehow an outrage? Look, California and Arizona demand that show you that you belong here in the United States or are a citizen to get any social welfare benefits. The Democrats who want illegal aliens voting, I think, they're the ones who are behind this amnesty bill because they realize folks who came in there like that are more likely to vote for their party.
COOPER: The book is "State of Emergency." Pat Buchanan, thanks.
BUCHANAN: Thank you, Anderson.
COOPER: Appreciate it.
The shot of the day is coming up. First, Erica Hill, from "HEADLINE NEWS," has the "360 Bulletin" -- Erica.
ERICA HILL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, we begin with Saddam Hussein's rather strange day in court. The new judge in the case expelled him after Saddam launched into a tirade and refused to sit down. His lawyers walked out in protest. Saddam and company were angry that the original judge in his genocide trial was removed by the Iraqi government last night.
In Indianapolis, a third premature baby is dead after being accidentally given an adult sized dose of a blood thinner medication. It happened at a local hospital. The baby died on Tuesday after receiving the drug Heparin last week. Three other premature infants that were also given doses of the drug are not considered to be in danger. The babies were given the drug after a pharmacy technician accidentally stored adult doses in the neonatal unit's drub cabinet.
The woman who police say kidnapped a newborn baby after a brutal knife attack on her mother was in a Missouri court today. 36-year-old Shannon Torres faces kidnapping and assault charges. Her bail was set at $1 million. Investigators say Torres was 9 months pregnant, but lost the baby on Friday, the same day Baby Abby was kidnapped.
And the first female space tourist arrived at the International Space Station today. Iranian born, now American Entrepreneur Anusha Ansari (ph), traveled in the space capsule with a Russian cosmonaut and an American astronaut. Ansari's (ph) the fourth private citizen to pay a reported $20 million for a visit to the space station -- Anderson.
COOPER: Erica, thanks.
Up next, the shot. See if you can spot the jewel heist. Nobody in the store did, not until about $500,000 in ice walked out the door. We'll show you the video ahead. Stay tuned.
COOPER: Time for the shot today. A brazen jewelry heist caught on tape in southern California, the Laguna Mills Mall. Police say two people distracted store employees -- that's one of them right there -- as a third person plucked nearly $500,000 in jewels from a display case. Yikes. Investigators say the thief had master keys that were stolen from another store. They say the thief targeted the most expensive items, mostly diamond engagement rings. And after grabbing the loot, he was nice enough to lock the case back up.
That may be why employees didn't notice they were robbed until about 45 minutes later. Investigators admit it was a well-executed job, but they will not call it the perfect crime because after all, they have the suspects on tape and they are hoping someone will rat them out. So take a look and dial the number.
"LARRY KING" is next.
Thanks very much for watching. I'll see you tomorrow night.
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