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Interview With Mel Gibson; Democratic Senator Tim Johnson Admitted to Hospital; President Bush Meets With Military Commanders; Rescuers Search For Missing Climbers on Oregon's Mount Hood

Aired December 13, 2006 - 22:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, everyone.
Tonight, breaking news: A U.S. senator is in the hospital, and control of Congress could be up for grabs.


ANNOUNCER: Waiting for word, weighing the possibilities, doctors caring for a stricken senator -- a Democratic majority now in the balance.

Policing polygamy: In a town that considers Warren Jeffs a prophet, who are the cops really protecting and serving?

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Can I just ask you off the property, then? Can I ask you a couple of questions?


TUCHMAN: Why won't you talk to me, is all I'm asking you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Go now, or I will cite you..

ANNOUNCER: And his anti-Semitic rage caused an uproar.

MEL GIBSON, ACTOR: I have moved on. That was six months ago.

ANNOUNCER: Mel Gibson on moving on, but will his fans let him?


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

Reporting tonight from the CNN studios in New York, here's Anderson Cooper.

COOPER: Want to welcome our American viewers and everyone watching around the world on CNN International.

Washington, D.C., is both a family town and a company town. So, tonight, the prayers of many are with Democratic Senator Tim Johnson. And the eyes of many are on what happens if his seat becomes vacant, understandably so. Democrats won a single-seat majority in December, and, with it, control of Congress. Now, depending on what happens to Senator Johnson, all that could change.

CNN's Dana Bash is covering the breaking medical and political angles.

Dana, what is the latest?

DANA BASH, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Washington is collectively holding its breath tonight, first out of deep concern for Senator Tim Johnson, who is in the hospital, and, while it may sound insensitive, or even crass, also because, if, for any reason, he cannot return to work, a sudden and sad turn of events could smash the Democrats' new majority in the Senate away from them, even before they officially take control.

Tonight, we know precious little about the 59-year-old senator's condition. From several sources close to Johnson, though, it does appear to be quite serious.

Now, earlier today, Johnson's office announced he suffered a possible stroke, because those were the symptoms. But now doctors are ruling that out. Now, here's what happened.

This morning, Senator Johnson was in the Capitol on a conference call with reporters back in South Dakota, and he started to slur his speech, even stammer.

We have audio of that call. It was clear something was wrong.



SEN. TIM JOHNSON, (D), SOUTH DAKOTA: The money was -- was -- was proposed to be provided a year ago. Second, you know, it -- it -- just is -- is frustrating that -- and -- and -- and -- and...


BASH: Now, after that, the senator did seem to recover, we're told, went back to his office, but soon -- soon started to have problems with his right arm. His speech pattern slipped even more.

Johnson aides called the Capitol physician, who came and quickly sent the senator, by ambulance, to George Washington University Hospital, where he still is now undergoing tests.

Now, the Senate majority leader, Harry Reid, has been there most of the day, and is even with him there at this late hour. Now, we don't know exactly, Anderson, what the senator's condition is.

But I spoke with our own Dr. Sanjay Gupta, who is, of course, a neurosurgeon, earlier tonight, who said it sounds like perhaps either an aneurysm on the brain or a brain tumor that could have been bleeding.

But, again, they're being very careful, perhaps, because they don't even know exactly what the senator's condition is. So, we're still waiting to hear. Might not get any more word on the condition until tomorrow morning -- Anderson.

COOPER: Obviously, this is a long way from that. But, just playing it out, when a senator leaves his seat, for whatever reason, what happens?

BASH: Well, it is an important question.

Of course, as we talked about, in November, the Democrats won the majority in the Senate by one seat. It is now 51-49. Tim Johnson is a Democrat.

To answer your question, if he were to be unable to serve, for any reason, his seat were to became vacant, South Dakota's governor would appoint a replacement. The governor of South Dakota is a Republican. And, so, he has the right to appoint -- appoint anyone. Traditionally, if he's a Republican, he would appoint a Republican.

And, if he would do that, it would make the Senate 50-50. That would tip the balance of power back to Republicans. Why? Because Vice President Dick Cheney is also the president of the Senate. And he has the power to break tie votes.

Now, again, talking to both Democrats and Republicans, we should make clear tonight, Anderson, that they're being very careful to say, nobody is meeting. Nobody is planning any of this right now. But it's the cold political reality, that if Senator Johnson could no longer be able to serve, that would have a huge political impact, big ramifications, here in Washington.

COOPER: Well, certainly, thoughts and prayers are with him.

BASH: Absolutely.

COOPER: Dana Bash, thanks very much.

On now to Iraq and what to do about it -- President Bush met with commanders today at the Pentagon. Sources say he's leaning towards sending in more troops, tens of thousands more boots on the ground, as they say, for one last shot at stabilizing the country.

There are serious questions tonight, some of them a whole lot tougher than, simply, would it work?

With that, CNN's Jamie McIntyre.


JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN SENIOR PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): President Bush is considering ignoring the advice of the Iraq Study Group and some of his top commanders by ordering tens of thousands of U.S. reinforcements to the worst parts of Iraq.

It would be a desperate attempt to stop the killing that has undermined the chances for political reconciliation. But it's also an option that was flatly rejected just last month by the top commander for Iraq, General John Abizaid.

GEN. JOHN ABIZAID, COMMANDER, U.S. CENTRAL COMMAND: No, I do not believe that more American troops, right now, is the solution to the problem.

MCINTYRE: Abizaid says, he polled every division commander in Iraq, and they agree with him. But critics who have the ear of the president argue, the current military leaders are too stuck on their old strategy.

KEN ADELMAN, FORMER DIRECTOR, U.S. ARMS CONTROL & DISARMAMENT AGENCY: The generals in the Pentagon are going to say, you know, steady as she goes. But that means, in essence, steady as she sinks.

MCINTYRE: Ken Adelman was a former adviser to outgoing Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. Adelman still says toppling Saddam Hussein was the right decision, but now believes his former boss is in denial about how badly the war has been mismanaged.

ADELMAN: What I would do is double the American troops in Baghdad for the next six months, and I would change the commanders in Iraq. Generals Abizaid and Casey are patriotic and wonderful people, but they haven't gotten the job done.

MCINTYRE: The big question is whether a surge of troops in the short term would really change the outcome in the end. For instance, is the U.S. willing to take on the Mahdi army, the powerful militia force created by Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr?

ANTHONY CORDESMAN, CENTER FOR STRATEGIC INTERNATIONAL STUDIES: There was a time where a combination of the best Army units in the U.S. could control Baghdad and limit the Mahdi army. I don't know if that's still possible.

MCINTYRE: The problem, says one expert who met with President Bush this week, is that, unless a really large number of troops, perhaps 50,000 to 100,000, are sent, and they stay, the likely result is simply more U.S. deaths.

STEPHEN BIDDLE, SENIOR FELLOW IN DEFENSE POLICY, COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS: So, we end up with a situation in which we're very unlikely, in one or two years, to have made much headway. The situation, in all probability, with these midrange troop strengths, is going to get worse, not better. In the meantime, we're going to be continuing to hemorrhage casualties.

MCINTYRE (on camera): The Iraq Study Group rejected the idea of sending a lot more U.S. troops to Iraq, concluding, the U.S. military is simply too small to sustain the effort. Now both the Army and the Marine Corps want to grow bigger. But it's doubtful those fresh recruits would be ready for Iraq any time soon.

Jamie McIntyre, CNN, the Pentagon.

(END VIDEOTAPE) COOPER: Well, if that's the rock, so to speak, here's the hard place: Saudi Arabia issuing a dire warning -- you might call it a threat -- about what it might do if the U.S. leaves.

With that, CNN's John Roberts.


JOHN ROBERTS, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The debate over pulling American troops out of Iraq has clearly hit a nerve in Saudi Arabia. U.S. officials say, King Abdullah read Vice President Cheney the riot act during his recent visit. The warning: If Iraq's Sunni minority is left to suffer at the hands of ruling Shiites, Saudi Arabia may have to step in.

MICHAEL O'HANLON, SENIOR FELLOW IN FOREIGN POLICY STUDIES, BROOKINGS INSTITUTION: If the American troop presence were not there to mitigate the war, the Sunni Arabs, with the smaller forces and smaller numbers, would almost certainly lose decisively. There could be substantial genocide in the process.

ROBERTS: While Saudi officials acknowledge there have been discussions about supporting Sunnis, in the event of a withdrawal and civil war in Iraq, they insist it's only talk at this point, not official policy, by a long shot.

It's no surprise to Middle East experts that the Saudis would fund the insurgency. They say it's already happening, though perhaps not on an official level.

RAY TAKEYH, SENIOR FELLOW FOR MIDDLE EASTERN STUDIES, COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS: Nobody talks about the fact that two-thirds of the suicide bombers, foreign suicide bombers, are Saudis. And the Saudi charitable organizations are already sending money in there. Much of the financial base of this Sunni insurgency goes through Jordanian banks.

ROBERTS: What the Saudis are most worried about is the ascendancy of Iran.

SEAN MCCORMACK, STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESMAN: They do have real concerns as Iraqis do, as we do and others in the region, about Iranian meddling in Iraqi internal affairs.

ROBERTS: Iran is predominantly Shiite, Saudi Arabia, Sunni. Iraq sits right on the fault line. If Iraqi Shiites were to prevail in a civil war, it would bring Iran's influence right to Saudi Arabia's front door.

O'HANLON: It's not only a humanitarian catastrophe there, but the first domino falling among other countries along the Persian Gulf, where large Shia populations could be supported by the Iranians, even within Saudi Arabia itself.

ROBERTS: U.S. and Saudi officials hope that doomsday scenario can be avoided. But the Saudi warning is useful to the White House, providing another rationale to resist the notion of a precipitous withdrawal of U.S. forces.

TONY SNOW, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: They understand that, were the United States to leave, without an Iraqi democracy that could sustain, govern and defend itself, that it would create a vacuum, a power vacuum, that would have dangerous consequences.

ROBERTS (on camera): The prospect of Saudi Arabia supporting the Sunni population in a potential civil war in Iraq carries with it some troubling implications.

For example, could the Saudi government end up providing financial and material support to al Qaeda or insurgents who have attacked U.S. forces? Even Saudi officials admit, in Iraq, it's difficult to tell the -- quote -- "good guys" from the bad.

John Roberts, CNN, Washington.


COOPER: Providing financial support in Iraq won't be a problem for Saudi Arabia. Here's the "Raw Data."

The kingdom, of course, is awash in oil. Its economy is estimated to be worth about $310 billion. Exports, primarily petroleum, bring in $175 billion. The wealth is not shared equally, averaging just $11,400 per capita.

A bit more perspective now from CNN's Michael Ware, who is in just in from Baghdad. And we're happy to have him here, safe and sound.

Michael, it's good to see you.


COOPER: What do you make of this, Saudi Arabia, essentially a threat, saying that they would, maybe, perhaps, could support Sunni insurgents?

WARE: Well, that's their natural position. They're not left with any other, really.

And come to the point that Saudi Arabia officially or unofficially is supporting the Sunni insurgents, then, Anderson, we're essentially in what General Abizaid says he most fears at the moment. After 3,000 deaths and 20,000 U.S. casualties, almost four years of war, he's worried about regional warfare.

So, by the time we see Saudi Arabia play that hand, it is going to be a terrible, terrible mess. And the great conundrum is what's happening in Iraq, what the U.S. has been doing in Iraq, is destabilizing its allies in the region, mainly Sunni Arab nations. And it is emboldening one of America's primary enemies in the region, Iran.

COOPER: What do you make of -- of the idea of sending more U.S. troops, and particularly to the Baghdad area, because, I mean, there are Iraqis now who are talking about are, well, U.S. troops actually leaving the Baghdad area, just being on the periphery?

WARE: Well, I know that has been floated by the national security adviser for Iraq, Dr. Mowaffak al-Rubaie.

However, you talk to U.S. commanders, and it seems clear to them, in their -- their private, their frank moments, that what's needed is more troops, not less, and not just a Band-Aid. I mean, we saw 2,200 extra Marines go into Al Anbar Province, the -- the very restive western province, which the U.S. military admits is essentially in the control of al Qaeda. And it had very little to no impact on the levels of violence.

So 10,000, 20,000, 30,000, even 50,000 troops doesn't even begin to get us there.

COOPER: Are you talking Iraq-wide or just in Baghdad? I mean, if you poured 40,000 troops into Baghdad or on the periphery of Baghdad, I guess the idea being secure Baghdad, and then move out from there.

WARE: Yes, I mean, there's been this focus on Baghdad. As Baghdad goes, so will the rest of the country, is essentially the strategy.

My question is, while you focus on Baghdad, what's happening in al Qaeda-held Al Anbar Province? While we just tread water out there, al Qaeda is getting stronger. And even in Baghdad, if you pour in more troops, it depends on their mandate. It depends on what's the role of the Iraqi security forces, many of whom, as we well know, are responsible for many of the killings.

COOPER: Are they getting any better? I mean, you know, everybody says that is the prime -- prime focus of U.S. policy. You -- you go out with these guys all the time. Are they -- are they any better?


If -- if -- honestly, if the Iraqi security forces really are the way out for America, then, the way out is a long, long way off. These guys are still not able to operate on their own. That's conceded by the military. They're still operating at -- at levels far below combat-effective.

And, many of them, it's unclear what their alliances are. Certainly, it's not to a national government, as it would be for the -- an American soldier. Their first alliance, by and large, is either to their sect, their militia, or their tribe.

So, in many ways, what we have been doing is training and arming the various sides of what could be a full-blown civil war. COOPER: Wow. Troubling.

Michael Ware, appreciate you being here. Thanks very much.

Take some time off.

In Oregon tonight, a terrible case of deja vu: another race against time, as rescue workers struggle to find climbers stranded on Oregon's Mount Hood -- wicked weather making the search extremely difficult to find these three men. Coming up, we will hear from the brother of one of the missing guys.

And we're "Keeping Them Honest" in a town where almost everyone worships polygamist leader Warren Jeffs. They call themselves a local police force. Are they really just enforcers for Jeffs? You won't believe the letter the police chief wrote to the jailed church leader.

Plus: my interview with Mel Gibson. Six months after his anti- Semitic outburst, he's facing new criticism. He says he's moving on, but how?

This is 360.


COOPER: Well, just a week ago today, we were reporting the tragic news that searchers in Oregon had found the body of James Kim. He died, of course, while trying to save his family. They had been stranded for more than a week in freezing temperatures, after making that wrong turn onto a remote road.

Tonight, in Oregon, another desperate search is under way, this time for three climbers stuck on Oregon's Mount Hood. And time and the weather is running out.

Here is CNN's Dan Simon.


DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Mount Hood today, lashed by rain and gusting winds, making it all but impossible for rescuers to get to the summit to search for the three missing climbers.

CAPTAIN CHRIS BERNARD, 304TH RESCUE SQUADRON, UNITED STATES AIR FORCE: We realize we have a -- a ceiling at about 7,000 feet, with weather and conditions that just -- man and machine are at their limits there.

SIMON: Unable to climb past the tree line at 6,000 feet, rescuers have more than 4,000 feet to go before they reached the snow cape, at about 10,000 feet, where they think climber Kelly James is stuck, just below the summit.

Hopes were raised when James called his family from his cell phone on Sunday, telling them he was trapped in a cave. His companions had continued on down the mountain. But the phone cut out before he could tell them anything more, why he was trapped, if he was injured, and his exact location.

And rescuers haven't been able to reach him since. They have picked up signals from his phone, and have isolated his location within a half-mile. But now those signals have stopped.

Rescuers are also searching for the other two climbers, Brian Hall and Jerry "Nikko" Cooke, who they believe came further down the mountain, looking for help. But rescue crews have no information at all about their location. So, they're bringing in some new technology. A different cell phone tracking company arrived today, and rescuers think they will be able to pinpoint James' exact location.

BERNARD: And with this new corporation coming in, they think they can even be more accurate, and may be able to utilize a single ping and a single signal from a cell phone. So, we're real hopeful about that.

SIMON: A Colorado company, ARACAR, has brought in three unmanned aerial drones with thermal imaging equipment that would detect body heat thrown off by the men.

MIKE IWANICKI, ARACAR: This can go up to 10 kilometers, or six miles, radius from our ground station. And the batteries will last anywhere from 20 to about -- 20 minutes to about 60 minutes, depending on how hard the motor is spinning.

SIMON: Similar drones were used by the U.S. military in the mountains of Afghanistan.

And more help has arrived. The 21 searchers were joined by a fresh team from Eugene, Oregon. The families of the missing men refuse to give up home.

FRANK JAMES, BROTHER OF KELLY JAMES: It's my understanding that, even on this -- on Mount Hood, back in the '80s, there were other situations along these lines where individuals survived in a snow cave for seven or eight days. And, so that, for us, is -- is very much encouraging.

SIMON: Encouragement they will need, with more storms forecast in the coming days.


COOPER: Dan Simon joins us now.

Dan, do we know why Kelly James was only to get out that one phone call?

SIMON: Well, Anderson, this is important. And we're hearing this tonight. The sheriff here in Hood River County is telling me that he spoke to a neighboring sheriff's department. And they told him on Monday morning, Kelly James tried to call 911. That call did not go through, but it told them a few important things. Number one, he was alive on Monday morning. Number two, based upon the ping data generated from the cell phone, it shows that he had moved from when he made that previous call on Sunday.

So, it shows that he had actually moved from the snow cave. So, apparently, he was well enough to move out of that cave. But the thing is, if he's injured, authorities would much rather see him stay right there in that cave -- Anderson.

COOPER: Dan -- Dan Simon reporting -- thanks, Dan.

Just so how you know how dangerous these rescues can be, take a look at this videotape of another rescue attempt on Mount Hood four years ago. Six Air Force Reserve members were inside this rescue helicopter when it crashed, and tumbled 1,000 feet down the mountain. All six were injured, one seriously. But, remarkably, they all survived.

The crew was trying to rescue nine climbers who had fallen into a crevasse, three of whom died. And this was in May, with much better weather conditions.

Tonight, many people holding out hope, many people searching, that the three men missing on Mount Hood are alive. That's what they're looking for. I will talk to the brother of one of them and a man who knows all of them next.

Plus: my interview with Mel Gibson. His new movie is number one at the box office, but has he made amends for his outburst against Jews during a police stop earlier this year? Does he need to? Hear what he has to say about that -- when 360 continues.


COOPER: The brother of one of the climbers trapped on Mount Hood joins us live -- next on 360.


COOPER: Well, rescue teams hope to resume the search tomorrow for the three climbers on Mount Hood.

It is worth mentioning, again, that these men, Kelly James, Brian Hall, and Jerry Cooke, are all experienced mountaineers.

Frank James is the brother of Kelly James. He joins us from Mount Hood tonight. And here in the studios, Willie Nash, who knows all the climbers, as well.

Frank, I appreciate you being here. I'm sorry it's under these circumstances.

What -- what is the latest that you are being told? JAMES: Well, the latest we have been told is -- is the same thing that you heard earlier, is that Kelly made a phone call, a 911 -- 911 call, on Monday morning.

And, so, that -- that, again, encourages us that he's alive, and able to move around, and actually keep his wits about him. So, that -- that just -- that's just the way Kelly is. He's a smart, tough man.

COOPER: And -- and an experienced climber, as well.

JAMES: Absolutely, 25 years of experience. He's climbed in the Andes in South America. He's climbed Mount McKinley. He has climbed the Eiger, as well. So, he is a very experienced climber. And I -- I know that he's doing exactly the right thing by -- by hunkering down in a snow cave.

COOPER: Willie, you climbed with -- with all three of these guys. That's what they should be trying to do, have a shelter, hunker down.

WILLIE NASH, KNOWS MISSING CLIMBERS: It sounds like that's the...

JAMES: Exactly.

NASH: ... is the wisest thing. You know, based on what I know about their situation, it seems like that's...


COOPER: What are they like, all three of them, as climbers?

NASH: They're all great people, really good climbers. I -- I have less experience than all of them. And I -- I learned a lot with them, you know, meeting them that one time.

COOPER: What -- describe what -- what conditions can get -- can -- I mean, what -- what it's like when you're that high up in this kind of weather.

NASH: Well, I mean, they don't have to deal so much with, you know, lack of oxygen.

But, at that point up there, it gets really, really windy. And, a lot of times, you can't see, you know, more than 10 feet, even less than that. And there could be a cliff off to your right or left. You don't know where you're walking. Everything looks the same. But there's a lot of treacherous, you know, terrain to encounter.

COOPER: Frank, we -- we know that the three men separated. Do you know why they would have split up?

JAMES: It's not absolutely clear.

We suspect that perhaps my brother was -- was injured, and that's why his two partners decided to dig a snow cave and then -- and go look for help. He did indicate, in that Sunday afternoon phone call, that -- that Brian, he mentioned specifically, had gone for help. So, we -- although he didn't specifically say he was injured, that's -- I think that's our assumption.

COOPER: Frank, how -- how are you getting through this? I mean, how are you -- how is your family coping with all of this?

JAMES: You know, these are strong men, and they all come from very strong families.

These are all men of faith. And I think, as I'm spending time with the family during the day, a lot of prayers, a lot of hugging. It's a strong group of people. It's -- it's a remarkable group of people, as a matter of fact.

COOPER: Willie, are you...

JAMES: So, we're doing well. We're -- we're...

COOPER: I'm sorry. Go ahead. Sorry. Continue, Frank.

JAMES: Well, we feel hopeful. That's one thing I want to communicate, is that we're very hopeful that there will be a break in the weather, and that they can get my brother, as well as Brian and Nikko.

COOPER: As you said in Dan Simon's report, I mean, people have -- have survived in snow caves for -- for, you know, days, weeks.

JAMES: That's right.

It's my understanding -- I have talked to a number of people. And they're telling me that people have survived seven, eight days or more. So, it's very clear, this is exactly the right thing that Kelly ought to be doing, is being in a snow cave.

COOPER: Willie, I think you were actually -- is it true you were actually thinking about going on this trip?

NASH: Yes, going to be there.

COOPER: What kind of supplies would -- would they bring with them?

NASH: Well, naturally, clothing, starting with that. They would bring, you know, enough gas to melt water for drinking, and food. And the actual hike itself, you know, from a base camp, is about 16 hours.

And, so, if that, you know, is what they were planning for, they -- I would say they probably brought about two more days, you know, really suitable, you know, gas supply and food, and, you know, plus a little gels and what not. So...

COOPER: And Frank, Kelly, I mean, obviously, as we talked about, is an experienced climber. Have you worried about him before on climbs?

JAMES: Oh, yes. Not about, you know, sort of the general thing. Kelly is the adventurer in our family. The rest of us, I'm a little more on the bookish side, not nearly as adventurous. But that's always been the way Kelly was. He was a triathlete. He's always enjoyed physical challenges. That's just characterized my brother since he was a kid.

COOPER: It sounds like if anyone can make it out, these three guys can. Your brother can. And Frank, we appreciate you joining us. We wish you the best and our prayers and our thoughts are with you and your family and, of course, with Kelly and the others on the mountain.

And Willie, thanks for joining us as well. We appreciate your perspective.

We're going to be following this story, obviously, closely as it unfolds. Just ahead tonight, six months ago, the man whose anti- Semitic outburst sparked outrage. He says he's moved on. The question is, have his fans? Coming up, my interview with Mel Gibson.

Also ahead, a town where polygamist leader Warren Jeffs is worshipped by nearly everyone, including the local police force. Are these cops actually obstructing justice? We're "Keeping Them Honest" when 360 continues.


COOPER: The Iraq Study Group has recommended that President Bush talk with Iran about Iraq. But this week, Iran gave critics of such talks new ammunition. Iran hosted a gathering of Holocaust deniers, calling it an academic coverage.

Among those attending, former Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard David Duke. That's right. He's back. He talked to Wolf Blitzer today about the conference and about Jews. Here's just some of what he said.


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Well, do you hate Jews?

DAVID DUKE, FORMER KKK GRAND WIZARD: No, I don't. Do you hate people who don't want to be controlled? Do you hate Americans who don't want the Israeli lobby to have Americans fight and die and thousands maimed because Israel wants it in the Middle East? We have a war in Iraq because Israel wanted that war, not for American interests.


COOPER: Coming up next hour on 360, we'll have more Wolf's interview with David Duke, what he said in Tehran and why he's suddenly Iran's new American friend.

In just a moment, you're going to hear Mel Gibson respond to those who call him a cinematic sadist. That's what one reviewer said. His new movie, "Apocalypto", is No. 1 at the box office this past weekend, grossing $15 million. Certainly not his best opening ever, but also not bad -- not a bad debut for a filmmaker seeking redemption.

"Apocalypto" is Gibson's first movie since his hugely successful "Passion of the Christ". It's also his first film since the very public outburst that threatened to ruin his career.


COOPER (voice-over): It was back in July that Mel Gibson was stopped for speeding in Malibu, California, and arrested for driving under the influence. By now, most of the world knows what happened.

Gibson launched into an anti-Semitic tirade, telling police that, quote, "The Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world." The police report says he also asked the arresting officer, "Are you a Jew?"

Gibson blamed the outburst on a little tequila and a lot of stress and said that he'd struggled with alcoholism his entire adult life. He entered rehab and issued this apology: "There is no excuse, nor should there be any tolerance for anyone who thinks or expresses any kind of anti-Semitic remark. I want to apologize specifically to everyone in the Jewish community for the vitriolic and harmful words I said to a law enforcement officer the night I was arrested." He went on to say that he planned to work with the Jewish community in order to heal himself.

But despite his apologies, Hollywood wondered if his bad behavior was a career killer. Disney pulled out of a project on the Holocaust that Gibson was going to produce. And others called for a boycott of his work.

Eager to rebuild his image, Gibson went on a P.R. offensive, blaming his actions on booze, the conflict in Lebanon and unresolved anger over criticism that his film "Passion of the Christ" was an anti-Semitic work. He tried to convince people that it was not his true self speaking.

He told Diane Sawyer...

MEL GIBSON, ACTOR/DIRECTOR: Let me be real clear here, in sobriety, sitting here in front of you on national television, that I don't believe that Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world. I mean, that's an outrageous, drunken statement. It sounds horrible. And I'm ashamed of that. That came out of my mouth, and I'm not that. That's not who I am.

COOPER: Some critics felt the performance was not an act of contrition for contrition's sake, but a publicity move to clear his name before the release of his new film, "Apocalypto".

GIBSON: Action! COOPER: Whatever his motive then, Gibson now is clearly not interested in talking more about his anti-Semitic statements, as you'll see in this interview we taped this morning.



COOPER: Mel, the movie opened No. 1 at the box office. It made about, I guess, $15 million, which is really nowhere near the opening for "The Passion of the Christ". Obviously, it's a very different kind of film. Do you think the film has been affected by what happened to you this summer?

GIBSON: I don't think so. Or if it has, so be it. I think I'm really gratified it made No. 1. It was a soft weekend all around.

And it's, to me, that just says that people like compelling stories. They like to go to the cinema and like an artist or a chef, you know, if he makes a cake and hands it out, he likes to hear people say yes. So I'm really happy, you know. The feedback's been good.

COOPER: The movie starts with a quote from historian Will Durant, which is a great civilization is not conquered from without until it has destroyed itself from within. You clearly see parallels between what happened with the Mayans and present day. Do you think we are now currently destroying ourselves from within?

GIBSON: I think that civilizations have a tendency to devolve into chaos as time goes on. It's always happened and will certainly happen. But I don't want to sort of, like, be the gloom and doom merchant here. I think there's a lot of hope. I mean, I think we're way off from it, but it's, you know, just a warning.

I think, you know, always have a look, stop, think. I mean, look at the earmarks of, you know, what drives civilizations to crumble. I mean, there's -- there's conspicuous consumption. Well, we've got that. There's the use of fear as a manipulation tool, and I think we've got that. I think, you know, there's corruption.

There's -- you know, there's many, many aspects of society that are not pleasing, where you can see things are slightly going wrong. But it's never too late to sort of have hope.

COOPER: At a screening over the summer, you said this about the message of the -- of the film. You said the precursors of a civilization that's going under are the same, time and time again. What's human sacrifice, if not sending some guys off to Iraq. What did you mean by that?

GIBSON: Well, somebody has to yet furnish me a reason for why that's going on, a good one. You know, was it WMD's? I guess not. What was it? It's just a little baffling to me, that's all.

COOPER: And so you do see some sort of comparison to what happened to the Mayans. I mean, in the film, clearly the Mayans are sort of reveling in excess. They're raping the lands. They're obviously killing one another. They're making these human sacrifices. You see some of that today?

GIBSON: Yes. There's destruction of the environment. I think we're becoming more aware of that now, although it still continues, you know. Rainforests disappear, you know, and things are polluted. There is more of a conscience about it. So I think, you know, things are on the up, I think.

COOPER: The amount of violence in your film has been widely criticized. The "Hollywood Reporter" said it's a heart-pounding movie. They called you, Mel, a cinematic sadist.

The "L.A. Times" said, quote, "This film is exhibit A of the rot from within that Gibson is worried about. If our society is in moral peril, the amount of stomach-turning violence that we think is just fine to put on screen is by any sane measure a major aspect of that decline." It went on to say, "Mel, no one in your entourage is going to tell you this, but you are not part of the solution, you're part of the problem. A big part."

How much violence is too much?

GIBSON: I don't think you can answer that question, but I don't think it's too violent. I think this film is far less violent than "Braveheart", and I believe that people that say that actually have a personal ax to grind.

COOPER: What do you mean?

GIBSON: I don't know who it was. Look, to me, they're being transparently disingenuous. But that's my opinion.

Now, I think that the film is far less violent than many other films. I think if you make a film where people are asked to care about the characters, that if they get a hangnail somehow it's more effective. And I think that's what it is. They care about the characters.

COOPER: I was in a preview of the film last month in a theater in New York, and people hissed when your name came on the screen. And back in August, obviously, you apologized for your drunken behavior and the anti-Semitic comments that you made.

There's a lot of people, though, as you well know, who still don't believe you. Why should people believe you're genuinely sorry?

GIBSON: Beats me. And that's not my problem. I have to keep my side of the street clean, and I'm doing it.

COOPER: So you don't really -- it doesn't worry you what people think?

GIBSON: Of course. But you know, there's nothing I can do about that. I mean, I move on. I've moved on. That was six months ago, and I have moved on. And, keeping my side of the street clean. That's all I can do. I can't live anyone else's life or form their thoughts for them. And it's their prerogative to think what they wish.

COOPER: You've said that the anti-Semitic comments came from alcohol, also from lingering resentment over criticism you received about "Passion of the Christ." there was a lot of criticism about that film, not just from Jewish people. Why do you think you focused your anger on them?

GIBSON: It's a long story. And you know, I dealt with all this matter on Diane Sawyer very publicly. I've said what I have to say about that. Let's move on.

COOPER: Do you think...

GIBSON: Life's about something else, you know?

COOPER: Well, in a public statement last August, you said that you're not asking for forgiveness, you'd "like to take it one step further, meet with leaders in the Jewish community, with whom I can have a one on one discussion to discern the appropriate path for healing."

Last night, we talked to Rabbi Morgan Hier, the founder of the Simon Wiesenthal Center. He said, "It's a long road to recovery and a simple apology just doesn't make it disappear. As far as I can see, there is nothing substantial Mel Gibson has done -- that I'm aware of -- that would make me change my mind."

What have you done?

GIBSON: I'm under no obligation to communicate with him as to what I'm doing. It's a personal journey, and it's a work in progress.


COOPER: And we'd like to thank Mel Gibson for sitting down with us this morning. If you'd like to watch the interview again, you can go online. Head to and tell us what you think.

Polygamist Warren Jeffs heads back to court tomorrow, but he may not be the only one with legal troubles. Up next, police officers following the laws of the spiritual leader rather than the laws of the land. Happening right here in this country. We're "Keeping Them Honest".

And later, actor/comedian Ray Romano on the death of his friend and "Everybody Loves Raymond" co-star, Peter Boyle, when 360 continues.


COOPER: Polygamist leader Warren Jeffs is back in a Utah court tomorrow. Prosecutors say that part of the reason Jeffs believes he was above the law for so long was because he was protected by police in two different states. Police are accused of following the laws of a spiritual leader rather than those of local government. It sounds like something that would happen in a country like Iraq, but it is happening right here in the U.S.

CNN's Gary Tuchman tonight, "Keeping Them Honest".



(voice-over) Try to interview a cop in the neighboring polygamist towns of Hilldale, Utah, and Colorado City, Arizona, and you quickly realize you're not a welcome guest.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Put the cameras away.

TUCHMAN (on camera): Can I just ask you off the property then? Can I ask you a couple questions?


TUCHMAN (voice-over): The police who patrol these two fundamentalist Mormon towns do not like to associate with outsiders.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We can't because it's the -- it's the chief's policy not to talk.

TUCHMAN (on camera): Right.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The officers don't give media statements.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): This is the largest polygamist community in the U.S. It's where Warren Jeffs, the leader of the FLDS church, facing the possibility of life behind bars, is considered by most a prophet of God.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We don't want to talk to you.

TUCHMAN (on camera): How come?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Load up and leave the property now.

TUCHMAN: I don't understand. Why can't I talk to you? That's fine if you don't want to talk, but why won't you talk to me, is all I'm asking.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Go now or I'll cite you.

TUCHMAN: You'll cite me for what? So why the feeling of a totalitarian state?

GARY ENGELS, MOHAVE COUNTY INVESTIGATOR: It's my experience in the two years here that these police officers are not real police officers. They're enforcers for the FLDS Church. They're enforcers for Warren. TUCHMAN: Gary Engels is a county investigator, who has an office in Colorado City to check into the allegations of sex crimes against girls under 18 and tax evasion. Ideally, he would work with the local police.

ENGELS: I know that if it comes down to it, I can't count on them at all for backup. In fact, I believe that if guns started being pointed, that their guns would probably be pointed at me.

TUCHMAN: And now the state of Utah has decided to start an investigation that could lead to closing down the police department.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What it comes down to is once again simply a derelict of duty issue that we're looking into. That's why we've opened the investigation and that's what we're going to look into.

TUCHMAN: The state of Arizona has a similar investigation. And a letter police say they recovered after arresting Warren Jeffs has added fuel to the whole controversy.

In it, the chief of the Colorado City/Hilldale police department writes to Jeffs, who is now in jail, charged as an accomplice to rape, and says, "I am praying for you to be protected and yearn to be with you again. I love you and acknowledge you as my priesthood head. And I know that you have the right to rule in all aspects of my life."

Chief Fred Barlow has turned down requests to be interviewed about the letter, but we did ask one of his officers about the investigation of the department.

(on camera) When you heard about this report, though, of Utah's investigation, how did it make you feel?


TUCHMAN: But you don't want to talk because you don't have an opinion or the chief tells you not to?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I kind of like my job. I'd like to keep it.

TUCHMAN: You like your job and want to keep it.

(voice-over) But keeping it may be out of his or the chief's hands if the states of Utah or Arizona shut them down.


COOPER: Gary Tuchman is joining us in Hilldale, Utah, tonight.

Gary, do we know when Utah and Arizona is going to make a decision about what's going to happen to the police force?

TUCHMAN: Well, the Utah Department of Public Safety says it will take a minimum of months. There's a 17-member committee that will vote on what to do about the police force. Interestingly, we've been told that two of those members have already said close down the police force. The other 15 said, though, they want to conduct the investigation first.

Arizona is already conducting their investigation, and they've already made a decision. They've decided to decertify two individual members of the force. There are now six members of the force instead of eight.

This is the Hilldale, Utah, city hall. The mayor here is a member of the church. I talked to him earlier. He did not want to go on camera. He says it would make Warren Jeffs unhappy, it would make citizens unhappy. He also says he doesn't trust the news media.

But he did tell me off camera that the people here are misunderstood and the police, he said, they just revere their religious leaders like other police revere their religious leaders in other parts of the United States.

COOPER: Gary, I've got to tell you, I feel bad for you every time you go to Hilldale. You are literally like the nicest guy own the planet, and everyone there is just like shunning you. Do you feel -- what's it like being there? I mean, do you get scared?

TUCHMAN: First of all, it's a nice thing you said to me, Anderson. I appreciate that. I will tell you, we're getting to know some of the people. We see some of the same faces over and over again. And I think there's a grudging respect. Most of the people realize we have a job to do. It doesn't mean they necessarily want to talk to us on camera.

COOPER: Well, keep at it. Gary Tuchman, thanks.

Something different now. A little shameless promotion perhaps, the "360 Takes You Live Sweepstakes". Here's the location of the day: Australia. That's the code you need to enter the contest. Not quite sure what it all means? You can check it out on our fan web site, Just click on the "Chance to Win Sweepstakes". Look, there I am on it. On the "Chance to Win Sweepstakes" link. Enter for a shot at the grand prize, which is a trip to New York and a behind the scenes look here at 360.

And the web site again is, and lots of luck.

An update now on the search for the missing climbers on Mt. Hood is coming up, but first Tom Foreman joins us with a "360 Bulletin" -- Tom.


Police in Great Britain say the deaths of five women believed to be prostitutes may be the work of serial killer. The bodies were all found near Ipswich, about 70 miles northeast of London. Police are warning prostitutes to stay off the streets there. And they're looking at more than 2,000 tips from the public. Boeing says a laptop with private information on more than 380,000 past and present employees was stolen. The aerospace company says the computer was taken from an employee's car earlier this month.

This is the third time a laptop containing employee data has been stolen from the company in the past two years.

After a few false starts, a crew from the Space Shuttle Discovery began retracting a solar panel on the International Space Station today. The astronauts used a remote control to move the 120-foot panel. The crew must now rewire the station's electrical system, a big job.

And actor Peter Boyle has died. Boyle had been suffering from multiple myeloma -- that's a problem with bone marrow -- and heart disease. He was perhaps best known for his role as the grouchy father on "Everybody Loves Raymond". And on the big screen he played the tap dancing monster in "Young Frankenstein". Peter Boyle was 71. We're going to miss him.

COOPER: Yes. He was a great actor and what a career.

FOREMAN: funny guy.

COOPER: Yes. Thanks very much, Tom.

Coming right up, we're going to have -- actually, in the newt hour on 360, we're going to look a lot closer at the life of Peter Boyle.

And we're also going to have a late update on a breaking story out of Washington. New information on the medical condition of an ailing Democratic senator.

Plus, imagine yourself trying to keep your family alive in a city where death is always just around the corner. How would you cope? We'll talk to ordinary people in Baghdad who are trying.

Then, Iran's newest, best friend. What David Duke said in Tehran and the uproar it is causing.

And later, people who need a life-saving organ but cannot get one here in the states. See how far they going. See where those organs are coming from. It sure isn't pretty, and you ask yourself, how far would you go? All ahead on 360.


COOPER: Breaking news out of Washington. A U.S. senator hospitalized with control of Congress at stake. We'll have that and this. Americans want out of Iraq, but can Americans get out of Iraq? Tonight, exploring the options and making the best of some pretty tough choices.


ANNOUNCER: Listening and tipping his hand.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I've heard some ideas that would lead to defeat, and I reject those ideas. Ideas such as leaving before the job is done.

ANNOUNCER: The Saudis now warning that they may have to step into Iraq, if U.S. troops pull out, but is the answer more U.S. troops?

Iran's new ally.

DAVID DUKE, FORMER KKK GRAND MASTER: The Zionists have used the Holocaust as a weapon to deny the rights of the Palestinians.

ANNOUNCER: Former Klansman David Duke, what he said in Tehran and why it matters.

And Americans desperate for new organs.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I said I'm going to beat this. I'm going to do whatever it takes to get this done. I'm not going to leave my family behind.

ANNOUNCER: Turning to China and possibly ignoring an ugly truth.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I said, "Where did you get your organ?"

And she said, "From an executed prisoner."

ANNOUNCER: How far would you go to save your life?

Across the country and around the world, this is Anderson Cooper, 360. Reporting tonight from the CNN studios in New York, here's Anderson Cooper.



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