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Blizzard Slams Denver; Mount Hood Mystery Deepens; President Bush Addresses Future of Iraq War

Aired December 20, 2006 - 22:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: The mystery deepens on Mount Hood. The official report on how one climber died is out, as the search for his buddies takes a very telling turn.
And wicked weather -- a massive blizzard creates chaos.


ANNOUNCER: It's hard to tell, but this is Denver. Could this blizzard be heading your way?

A presidential promise.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Victory in Iraq is achievable.

ANNOUNCER: And a confession.

BUSH: It hadn't happened nearly as quickly as I hoped it would have.

ANNOUNCER: So, what may lie ahead in 2007? Tonight, some hints from the commander in chief.

A new sex survey -- surprising results. Where do you fit in?

Plus: one prayer for help from a blind man.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Excuse me. Your vision is what?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Twenty-eight hundred in one eye, and 21,000.

ANNOUNCER: Then, without surgery on one eye, shocking news from the doctor.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Your eye is better.

ANNOUNCER: A true miracle? We will let you decide.


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: We want to welcome our American viewers and everyone watching around the world right now on CNN International. Friends of the two missing climbers on Mount Hood flew a plane around the mountain. They called it a farewell flight. And, sadly, that is exactly what it was.

After weeks of hope, prayer and searching, today, the news came that nobody wanted to hear about the likely fate of Brian Hall and Jerry Cooke. At the same time, we're learning some surprising new information from the autopsy of Kelly James, who died near the summit in a snow cave.

CNN's Dan Simon has the latest.


DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The search may have ended today, but questions about what happened to the three climbers seemed only to deepen.

The autopsy of Kelly James reveals he did not have a disabling injury that would have caused him to separate from the other two climbers. You will recall, the search began 10 days ago when Kelly placed a cell phone call from near the summit. He said the climbers were in trouble. That's the last anyone heard from him.

Kelly's body was recovered Monday. The sheriff thought he had a dislocated shoulder. Everyone, including the family, concluded, only an injury would have caused him to separate from his partners and stay behind, all alone in a snow cave. So, what did happen up there? The questions may never go away.

CHRIS GUERTIN, HOOD RIVER COUNTY, OREGON, DEPUTY SHERIFF: Due to deteriorating weather, we have been forced to suspend our search operations.

SIMON: What had been called a search-and-rescue has now been labeled a recovery. The sheriff, in the business of saving lives, made one final sweep of the mountain himself, piloting this small plane, before concluding there's virtually no hope the other climbers, Jerry Cooke and Brian Hall, are still alive.

JOE WAMPLER, HOOD RIVER COUNTY, OREGON, SHERIFF: You know, I didn't want to be the one to say that, but, you know, I wanted my team to be there. But, yes, we're there.

SIMON: With that tragic turn, the families of the remaining two climbers went home, but not with any real peace, knowing that their loved ones are still on the mountain.

BOB BROWNBACK, PORTLAND MOUNTAIN RESCUE: If I thought there was a good chance for them to be alive, I -- I would be up there right now.

SIMON: Signaling the search had indeed ended, volunteer rescuers like Bob Brownback are returning to their normal lives, Christmas-tree decorating a little late this year. But, Brownback, who suffered a frostbitten face after days of searching the mountain, says his family understands.

BROWNBACK: I have always this -- I don't know if it's a mother instinct or father instinct, or just to watch out for people. And, so, I guess, if something was the matter with me, I would want people to come look for me. And, so, I -- I like to make myself available to go and look for them, and...

SIMON: Because most of the search crews are volunteers, the burden to taxpayers is low. Still, despite the tragedy, some have suggested victims and their families should pay for mountain rescues.

Mount Hood has no such requirement. And most here believe rescuing climbers should be a free public service.

ROCKY HENDERSON, PORTLAND MOUNTAIN RESCUE: We all pay our taxes. The deputies that are responsible for it and do it, that's their responsibility. We pay them. There might be some overtime involved on these large events, but that's how -- that's how it works.


COOPER: Dan, what is the prognosis for ever find -- finding these two climbers?

SIMON: Well, Anderson, the weather today took a nasty turn. And you have many more weeks of winter ahead. And, with that, there is a sad realization that you may not kind these two bodies until springtime, when the show begins to melt.

And, Anderson, one more thing worth noting on the autopsy of Kelly James -- it turns out he did die of extreme hypothermia. And, also, by the time rescuers got to him, it turns out he had also been dead for several days -- Anderson.

COOPER: Dan Simon, appreciate it -- sad news, that.

The brutal weather is delaying recovery efforts on Mount Hood. And, in parts of the West, another dangerous storm system is wreaking havoc. Winter officially begins tomorrow, but, tonight, millions of Americans are caught in the grips of a massive whiteout. Take a look at these images.

CNN's Gerri Willis reports now from Denver.


GERRI WILLIS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The snow began falling yesterday. And it hasn't stopped since.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is one of the more severe storms that I have -- that I have seen.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. Wind is really blowing hard.

WILLIS: By tomorrow, parts of Colorado could have as much as three feet on the ground, two feet in downtown Denver. It may be great for skiers and kids. Many schools were closed, but it's terrible for just about everyone else, especially travelers.

The Denver International Airport had to shut down. United Airlines canceled more than 600 flights, causing a ripple effect of delays and headaches from coast to coast.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have a son graduating from Penn State on Friday. And we're going to miss it. There's no way to get there, it looks like. So, I know everybody is here for holiday travel, but we were just trying to get to a graduation.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's very frustrating for travelers, particularly because this is a holiday period. I mean, this is probably one of the worst times when this can happen.

WILLIS: On the roads, it was just as bad. Driving is so dangerous, authorities had to shut down long stretches of two interstate highways. As of tonight, no deaths connected to the blizzard have been reported.

Snow, though, is just part of the story. This is a massive storm system extending across the region. Heavy rain is soaking several states. And, as it moves further east, millions of people may find themselves caught in the grips of this unwelcome holiday arrival.


COOPER: And Gerri is in downtown Denver right now.

It's obviously still smo -- smo -- snowing.


COOPER: Excuse me.

Is anyone out there right now?

WILLIS: I have got to tell you, there are not a ton of people on the street, just a hearty few, like us, who are out and about.

For the most part, Anderson, a lot of the streets have been closed down. The schools are closed down. When we got in today, even the malls were closed down. This is my first trip to Denver, and I haven't even seen the skyline, because it's a virtual whiteout.

COOPER: Wow. It looks tough there.

Gerri, thanks very much.

For the latest on the storm and where it may heading...

WILLIS: You're welcome. COOPER: ... let's go to meteorologist Reynolds Wolf at the CNN Weather Center in Atlanta -- Reynolds.

REYNOLDS WOLF, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Well, Anderson, this storm is going to be heading to the north and to the -- the northeast over the next couple of days.

And I will tell you, we're going to see the heaviest snowfall that took place earlier today, into the evening, a little bit tomorrow. And I would say, by mid-morning tomorrow, this system is going to be moving out.

What we're going to be seeing from this is quite a bit of snowfall. That's a given. We have already shown you plenty of video of people in the Denver area that have been getting the snow. What's interesting, the ski resorts a little bit farther out to the west, they have been getting hardly anything. Denver is kind of in a bowl, which some higher elevations. Just to the west of the city and to the north, they have not been seeing much.

It's been the downtown area, from Boulder, down to Denver, even into Castle Rock, that will see the heaviest snow. And some of it by tomorrow, I would say, could be up to three feet.

But that only tells part of the story. With all that powder landing on the ground, and with that wind that has been just incredibly strong, for example, up at Greeley, back over to Denver Jeffco, even out at Denver International, the winds right now anywhere from 10 to 15 to 20 miles per hour, with some stronger gusts that have been reaching 50 miles an hour.

So, Anderson, I would say, by tomorrow, we could have snow, at least drifts, up to six feet in many places.

Now, the question we asked earlier, where is this storm system going to go? It will be moving to the northeast. But what's interesting about it, as we fast-forward all the way into Friday, you will notice, most of the snow is actually going to be limited into the Northern Plains, eventually moving into the Twin Cities, places like Milwaukee, as well as portions of -- of Iowa.

But, then, it's going to turn into primarily a rain event, which is really going to hamper your travel as you get your way into the holiday weekend. And I will tell you one thing that's interesting about this is, with all that moisture coming in from the Gulf of Mexico, and with this frontal boundary just sweeping from west to east, we're going to see some very heavy rainfall in places, possibly flooding conditions along the Gulf Coast, including New Orleans. They could see anywhere from three to six inches of rainfall, possibly more.

So, we're going to be seeing a lot of snow turning over to rain -- busy times.

COOPER: Yes, it's going to be a mess.

Reynolds, thanks.

WOLF: No question.

COOPER: Denver could get 30 inches of snow before the weekend. That's nothing compared to the records. Check out the "Raw Data."

The record for one 24-hour period is 75.5 inches of snow in Silver Lake, Colorado. That was back in April of 1921. The record for one snowstorm is 189 inches, more than 15 feet of snow. That fell on Mount Shasta Ski Bowl in California over one week in February back in '59.

And the record for one month, March 1911 -- 390 inches -- that's 32 feet of snow -- in one month in Tamarack, California.

Well, President Bush wants to increase the size of the U.S. military, but, at his year-end news conference today, he got some tough questions about the future of Iraq and of his own presidency. That's next.

Plus: a surprising new sex survey. Find out if your love life matches up with the rest of America's.

And a man who is convinced a miracle restored his eyesight. And so is the Catholic Church. We will let you decide if it truly is a miracle -- when 360 continues.



GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I believe that -- and, by the way, if I didn't think that, I wouldn't have our troops there. That's what you have got to know. We're going to succeed.


COOPER: Well, a prediction there from a confident President Bush at the White House today. That's what he thinks the future holds for Iraq.

But, this year, any talk of victory is silenced by the chaos on the ground. Death squads roam the streets, and piles of tortured Iraqi bodies are discovered almost daily. That's the backdrop, the cold reality, facing the president, the nation, and our troops.

CNN's Suzanne Malveaux has more.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The president of the United States.

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It was the president's attempt at pushing the reset button.

BUSH: I'm going to make you this promise: My administration will work with Republicans and Democrats to fashion a new way forward that can succeed in Iraq.

MALVEAUX: Mr. Bush presented an ambitious New Year's resolution. But his news conference, wrapping up the year, didn't have a pretty bow.

Faced with soaring violence in Iraq, plummeting support for the war at home, and Congress now in the hands of Democrats, this is not the same man who, when reelected, boasted about having political capital to spend.

BUSH: But the most painful aspect of the presidency is the fact that I know my decisions have caused young men and women to lose their lives.

MALVEAUX: Mr. Bush also made clear, he still believes in his decision to invade Iraq.

BUSH: No, I haven't questioned whether or not it was right to take Saddam Hussein out, nor have I questioned the necessity for the American people -- I mean, I have questioned it. I have come to the conclusion it was the right decision.

MALVEAUX: But the president is no longer claiming the U.S. is absolutely winning the Iraq war, as he did during the campaign just six weeks ago.

BUSH: Victory in Iraq is achievable. It hadn't happened nearly as quickly as I hoped it would have.

MALVEAUX: As his new defense secretary, Bob Gates, embarks on his fresh-eyes tour in Iraq, Mr. Bush says all options are on the table, including sending more U.S. troops, an unpopular prospect among the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Laying the groundwork, the president has already called to expand the armed forces overall, a move that appears to reject the vision of his departed defense secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, who advocated for a leaner fighting force.

For a president who does not like to look back, his year-ender press conference inspired some nostalgia.

BUSH: We began the year with optimism after watching nearly 12 million Iraqis go to the polls to vote for a unity government.

MALVEAUX: With Iraq now torn by sectarian violence, Mr. Bush resolved to turn things around. But, like many of us who make New Year's resolutions, he gave himself an out.

BUSH: I'm not going to make predictions about what 2007 will look like in Iraq.

MALVEAUX (on camera): But the president did indicate the U.S. is going to be involved in a long struggle against who he calls extremists and radicals, and that the military must be capable of fighting for what he calls a long period of time. Suzanne Malveaux, CNN, the White House.


COOPER: Well, for more on the president's speech and his position on Iraq, let's bring in CNN's John King and a familiar face to 360, former presidential adviser David Gergen.

John -- John, what is different about what President Bush said today than what we heard from him, say, a few months ago?

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, his tone is much more sober, Anderson. He's not saying, absolutely, we're winning, anymore. He's not saying, stay the course. He's not even saying that he believes the administration's strategy is the right strategy.

What he's saying now is, he gets the message from Iraq and from the American people that he needs to change his strategy. What was so interesting today is that the president is not ready to announce what those changes will be.

So, you had yet again from the president of the United States -- after the November elections, in which the American people sent a pretty clear message they want change, the president is still biding his time, if you will. He's not ready to announce the big change. And that led to, first, the news conference today, and then a lot of Democrats, and some Republicans, around the country, saying: Mr. President, we need the answers. We need to -- just can't keep hearing that change is coming. We need to know what it's going to be.

COOPER: Well, David, why even have this news conference today if -- if -- we just lost David Gergen, obviously. We will try to get him back on the satellite.

John King, why have this news conference today, if -- if you're not going to come out, you know, with some sort of policy or something new?

KING: Well, it is an interesting question. It is tradition for any president, including this president, to have a year-end news conference.

And this president is in a deep ditch right now, Anderson. Two- thirds of the American people oppose the war in Iraq. Only 28 percent, in our latest poll at CNN, approve of the way the president is handling Iraq. So, he's trying to rebuild, and rebuild slowly. And, so, to do that, he has to be out answering the questions.

He is in a tough box, because he's not ready to answer the big questions right now: Will he send in more troops? Will he establish benchmarks for getting the troops out? He's not ready for that. Look for that in the first week of January.

So -- but what he's trying to do is slowly rebuild his credibility with the American people. His main goal today was to say: I get it. Things aren't going well in Iraq. I need to change what I'm doing.

But there's a growing frustration that he has said that now since the election, and that people...


KING: ... people, especially in Congress. are waiting for the answers.

COOPER: We got David back.

David Gergen, good -- good to have you back on the program.



COOPER: Were you surprised to hear the president talking about raising the total number of troops in the armed forces? I mean, it seems to be such a turnaround from what we heard under Donald Rumsfeld.

GERGEN: Well, it is a turnaround. It is a turnaround from the administration's view all along, that the -- you know, Don Rumsfeld came in and said, we want a light, agile military.

This administration has rejected a number of calls, including calls from Democrats, for larger military forces. John McCain has been calling for it. So far, they rejected it. Now they have accepted it.

I think it's the only way, Anderson, he can persuade the military to do what he looks like he wants to do. And that is to put more troops in Iraq.

I -- to go back to John King's analogy, he finds himself in a very big box right now on Iraq, because it was this president who has continually said: I will be -- I will defer to the military commanders on what we ought to be doing.

And now he wants to go for a surge, and the military commanders don't like it. And, so, he's contradicting himself in this situation. That's the box. And I think the -- I think the military...

COOPER: Well, does -- does that prove -- does...

GERGEN: Yes. Go ahead, please.

COOPER: Does that prove that -- that what he was saying in the past wasn't true, or does it just prove that now he doesn't want to listen to the military commanders?

GERGEN: I think it's the latter. He doesn't want -- you know, when -- when you're saying things he doesn't want to hear: I'm sorry. I don't want to go this way. I mean, one of the biggest news stories of the day was learning that General Abizaid, John Abizaid, who has been, as you know, in charge of Central Command, is retiring early. He's going to go in March. Now, General Abizaid was someone who has been arguing very vigorously that we ought to have a light footprint in Iraq; we should not increase the number of American troops.

It's very clear that, while his -- his departure is being surrounded with a lot of goodwill and good words, that he is -- he's leaving because he's anticipating -- or it is anticipated that the president may indeed go for this surge of troops early in the year.

COOPER: John King, do we know when he's expected to make an announcement? Or is that not even known?

KING: Well, we are told to look for it as early as January 3. But I have also been told that it could slip as late as January 15. They want to get it done as early as possible in the new year.

They know that one of the reasons the poll numbers continue to go low -- And you could argue, "How could they go any lower?" -- is that the American people simply don't think this president has a plan that will get -- end up with success in Iraq. So, look for the first week of January.


And, Anderson, part of his problem now, internal divisions on what the president himself wants to do, it weakens the president's case when he goes to the public. Whatever he goes with now, we're going to know that there are people in his own administration who do not agree with what he's doing. That's going to make it even more difficult for him to persuade people it's the right course.

COOPER: It also, David, doesn't seem clear. OK, there's this surge of troops for -- for Baghdad. It's not really clear what exactly they're going to do. If -- everybody seems to be saying there -- A, that there's not a military solution, and -- and, B, that, you know, it's -- it's economic, it's political, it's social, and the military is just a small component of it.

GERGEN: Absolutely.

The -- the military has said all along: Listen, we -- we -- we hear you on the surge, but what are they there to do? How long are they going to stay?

And it's 20,000. If you really want a surge, is 20,000 enough? There are many people who have been in Iraq who say, if you really want to shut down Iraq, you have to not only secure Baghdad. You have to secure all the other cities, so the insurgents won't disappear, and the militias won't disappear out of Baghdad, and wait for you to leave. That could require 50,000 to 100,000 troops. We just don't have those kind of troops.

So, the president has got some extremely unpleasant realities ahead of him, extremely difficult choices. And, the longer this process goes on of being uncertain what he's going to do, I think it erodes public confidence. We -- we -- this is the most long -- this is the longest, drawn-out process of making military decisions I can remember in modern -- the modern presidency, with a cascade of leaks and everything else, which makes it look like, do they really know what they're doing? Do they know where they're going?

COOPER: Well, John, how do the Democrats play into all this? I mean, how are they -- you know, there was a lot of talk about bipartisanship and -- and consulting one another. How is that going?

KING: Well, the Democrats say the true test is when the president reaches those decisions, or comes close to final decisions a week or so from now.

Will he call them and say, "This is what I'm going to do," talk to them privately, "What do you think?" and seek input from them, as opposed to just telling them what he's going to do.

The Democrats say the test of truth bipartisanship is not calling them to the White House for meetings. It's actually them questions and seeking their input. And they say, right now, they're not sure the president is going to meet that test. So, until they hear the plan, Anderson, what they're going to say is that the president's policy has failed.

And it's interesting. David noted the leaks. Once they saw in the newspapers that the Joint Chiefs are very skeptical about sending in more troops, even Democrats, like Harry Reid, who will be the majority leader in the Senate, who had said they could support that, they say now: Oh, wait a minute. We want to reassess that.

So, when the president announces anything, look for the Democrats to use their new power and call up the new secretary of defense, and call up the generals, and ask some questions.

COOPER: All right.

John King, David Gergen, guys, thank you very much.

GERGEN: Thank you.

COOPER: While President Bush was talking about Iraq today, his new secretary of defense was seeing it up close. CNN's Jamie McIntyre is the only network TV correspondent on the trip -- his report next.

Plus: How do you fit in on a surprising new survey about premarital sex? Here's a hint. It might depend on your age -- no surprise, that.

You're watching 360. Stay tuned.


COOPER: Well, there's word from the Associated Press tonight that the Pentagon is pushing President Bush to request almost $100 billion more for the war effort in Iraq and Afghanistan. So far, those wars have cost half-- trillion dollars.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates arrived in Baghdad today on the first fact-finding mission of his new job.

CNN senior Pentagon correspondent Jamie McIntyre is the only network television correspondent traveling with the defense secretary.


JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN SENIOR PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Just three days into the job, Robert Gates emerged from a C-17 cargo plane after an overnight flight from Washington, and went straight into meetings with his top commanders in Baghdad -- the big topic on the agenda, President Bush's interest in surging tens of thousands of additional U.S. troops to try to bring the escalating violence under control in the Iraqi capital.

ROBERT GATES, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: We have discussed the possibility of a surge and -- and the potential for what it might accomplish. I think it's very important, in this case, to hear, above all, from the Iraqis and from the prime minister on how best we can help.

MCINTYRE: General George Casey, the top commander on the ground in Iraq, says he has asked for more troops when he thought he needed them, and said he's open to a surge if the reinforcements have a clear mission that can be accomplished militarily.

GENERAL GEORGE CASEY, COMMANDER, MULTINATIONAL FORCE IN IRAQ: Three or four times, I have asked for additional troops. But they have been for a purpose. They have been for an election or to take advantage of an opportunity that was presented as a result of the operations in Fallujah. So, I'm not necessarily opposed to the idea. But what I want to see happen is when -- if -- if we do bring more American troops here, they help us progress to our strategic objectives.

MCINTYRE: Even General John Abizaid, who has been the most adamant opponent of sending more U.S. troops to Iraq, indicated he might go along with a surge, if that's what the president and the Pentagon wanted to try.

GEN. JOHN ABIZAID, COMMANDER, U.S. CENTRAL COMMAND: I think it's safe to say that absolutely all options are on the table. We're looking at every possible thing that might influence the situation to -- to make Baghdad, in particular, more secure.

Abizaid, who had been asked to stay on as U.S. central commander for another year last spring, is scheduled to retire next March. He's already put his papers in to leave the Army, but insists he's not being pushed aside.

ABIZAID: No decision that anybody makes in a position like this is ever totally their decision, but I think the time is right, and it has nothing to do with dissatisfaction. MCINTYRE: Secretary Gates says he's just now looking at how to increase the size of both the Army and the Marine Corps, something that will take time and is expensive. Adding 10,000 troops adds an estimated $1.2 billion to $1.5 billion to the Army's annual budget.


COOPER: And Jamie joins us now from Baghdad at Camp Victory.

Jamie, there's a lot of speculation over here and in Washington that this -- this overall desire for a larger military, it's connected to the president's proposal to add more troops to Iraq. What are you hearing?

MCINTYRE: Well, you know, Secretary Gates made a point of saying they're not connected, because of the length of time it's going to take to increase the size of the military. Those troops aren't going to be available any time soon.

But, that said, the fact of the matter is, the strain that the war in Iraq is putting on the U.S. military is the primary reason that both the Army and the Marine Corps say that they need to be a lot bigger.

So, in some ways, they are connected. And, in fact, if the U.S. is going to have to maintain the current or even larger number of troops in Iraq over some time, they're going to need a bigger military down the road. So, you know, I think the answer is, they are connected.

By the way, I heard one of your guests say earlier that General Abizaid was retiring early. He's not retiring early. In fact, he was extended a year to stay on in Iraq. However, he's not being offered another assignment. And he is leaving.

It's not unusual, though, for -- to -- to be the head of the Central Command, and have that be your last assignment in the Army -- or in the military. The last -- I don't know -- five, six Central Commanders, going back to Norm Schwarzkopf, all retired from that position.

COOPER: A good clarification. Jamie McIntyre, thanks very much from Baghdad tonight.

You may have noticed there are a lot of generalities in all the talk about increasing the size of the Army and Marine Corps and of surging forces in Baghdad.

On this program, we like to dig deeper, try to keep them honest, so we asked Joe Johns to take a hard look at what the military needs and at the possible price tag.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ladies and gentlemen, the president of the United States. JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The president didn't pin himself down on whether any new troops would be used in Iraq.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm inclined to believe that we need to increase in the permanent size of both the United States Army and the United States Marines. I've asked Secretary Gates to determine how such an increase could take place and report back to me as quickly as possible.

JOHNS: The president proposed no hard numbers, but here's what we know right now.

The Army can have about 514,000 troops, which includes a 30,000 member temporary increase in troop strength that was authorized after 9/11. There are also about 180,000 Marines.

But the $1 billion plus cost for every 10,000 new recruits is expected to be a factor in how much the military really can grow.

A former undersecretary of defense for personnel, now senior fellow at the Rand Corporation, says increasing the numbers of U.S. forces will take a serious ramping up of the U.S. recruitment effort, incentives to sign up and a lowering of entry standards, some of which have been tweaked a bit in order to successfully reach current recruiting goals.

BERNARD ROSTKER, RAND CORPORATION: We may have to take some people who, in better times, we might not take. We're really taking a chance on them. We'll see how they perform, and if they don't live up to expectations, then they'll be sent home.

JOHNS (on camera): There is support here on Capitol Hill for increasing the numbers of service members in the Army and Marine Corps, but where that support could break down is over the question of whether those service members should be used to fight in Iraq.

(voice-over) Congressman Ike Skelton, the incoming chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, is a big supporter of increasing the size of the military. But not of sending the new recruits to Iraq.

REP. IKE SKELTON (D), MISSOURI: It can actually exacerbate the situation there and be more targets for the insurgents and more targets for the sectarian violence.

JOHNS: It's a mixed message from Capitol Hill to the White House. A troop increase is fine, but be careful what you use them for. One point of general agreement: trying to beef up the military through a draft is a bad idea.

Rostker, who has an authoritative new book out titled "The Evolution of the All-Volunteer Force" argues the last thing America needs are service members who would rather not be there.

ROSTKER: If there is a reluctance to serve, we're not going to have domestic peace by forcing people to serve. So I don't think the draft is in the cards in any way.

JOHNS: What is lost in all of this perhaps is the notion that substantially increasing troop strength for duty wherever would take time: one to two years. And by that time, whatever happens, at least in Iraq, may very well have already been decided.

So while experts say this is really about long-term preparedness, the war in Iraq is likely to be a decisive factor on how and whether the U.S. military can grow.

Joe Johns, CNN, Washington.


COOPER: From military wars overseas to cultural ones here at home, during the break, take a guess. What percentage of Americans are having sex before they get married? What do you think? The number is probably larger than you might imagine.

Where do you fit in? Find out ahead.

Also seeing and believing in miracles. Is there another explanation for how one man recovered his eyesight? When 360 continues.


COOPER: Well, you were almost certainly taught that sex comes after marriage. Well, a new eye-opening study indicates just about everyone who's married pretty much ignored that advice.

A study said that nine out of ten Americans, both men and women, have had premarital sex, and it's been that way since the 1950's. This is more than something to snicker about. There are serious health and public policy issues to consider.

To help us do that, I'm joined by sex therapist Ian Kerner.

Ian, thanks for being with us tonight.


COOPER: Were you surprised by this study?

KERNER: Absolutely not. It completely coincides with my own practice, with my own research. I mean, what this study showed us is that premarital sex is the norm for this generation and has been the norm for previous generations. So I'm not surprised at all. It's completely consistent.

COOPER: Why should anyone care about this? What does it matter?

KERNER: Well, I think when you look at public policy, when you look at education policy, when you look at abstinence only education, it really doesn't acknowledge that premarital sex is the norm. And really, you know, contraception, talking about safer sex is really anathema to abstinence only education. So what I think this study can show us is that we need to start having a discussion about safer sex and about contraception.

COOPER: There are a lot of people, though, who support abstinence only education, who say this kind of study is basically politics infecting science. I want to read you a statement from TEEN- AID, which is an abstinence and character program for teens.

They say, "The political agenda to kill abstinence education funding is creating a misperception. The data being quoted is for 20- year-olds. The consequences for 20-year-olds are very different than for young teens. Virtually all abstinence education is delivered to children ages 10-14. When adults think of whether 20-year-olds should have sex, it seems OK but the real question should be 'should 10-14- year-olds be having sex? Should the schools be condoning sexual activity by making contraceptives accessible without parental involvement?"

KERNER: You know, right now, I mean, billions of dollars are going into abstinence only education programs. It's not abstinence plus; it's abstinence only.

And when you consider that, amongst advanced nations, we have the highest rate of STDs, the highest rate of unwanted pregnancies, I would say that largely, the abstinence only movement is really failing. And so if you're going to teach abstinence, you also need to teach abstinence plus.

COOPER: Abstinence plus meaning what?

KERNER: Plus contraception. Plus safer sex. Plus a broader sexual health policy that acknowledges sexual desire, sexual development and that it begins, you know, throughout life and that sexuality happens over the life cycle.

COOPER: Supporters, though, of abstinence only say, look, it you know, encourages people to stop -- to prevent themselves from having sex in -- for years and therefore reduce the risk of STD's.

KERNER: Yes. There isn't a single study that actually shows that abstinence only programs really work. Most programs don't change actions amongst teens, and they don't change attitudes. What it does is creates guilt, it creates STD's, it creates unwanted pregnancies.

COOPER: There's one other quote I just want to read to you. This is from Awareness Inc., another teen abstinence program. They say, "If a study were done on teen drivers, as to whether or not they have ever exceeded the speed limit, you would most likely find that not only have they done so, but probably do so often. However, I know of no drivers education program that teaches young people how to speed safely. In fact, just the opposite is true. Not only are young people taught speed, we as a society enforce that position with our laws."

Obviously, an extended metaphor, but...

KERNER: You know, Anderson, when I get in a car, I buckle up. I want my kids to buckle up. And when it comes to sex and safe sex, I want them buckling up, too. And I think that education needs to acknowledge that premarital sex is a reality, and it needs to get beyond abstinence only and really start talking about safer sex, contraception, and choices beyond just say no to sex.

COOPER: It's nine out of 10, going back all the way to the 1950's.

KERNER: Yes, and if you think about it, in previous generations, the age of marriage was much lower than it is today. If anything, the age of marriage is much higher today.

So it makes sense that there would be a lot more premarital sex because people with are waiting into their mid-twenties, even into their thirties to get married. In fact, co-habitation is now outstripping rates of marriage. So in large percentages, people aren't getting married at all. So in that sense you're always having premarital sex.

What's surprising is about for previous generations is people were getting married at 17, 18, 19. My parents were married at 18 and 19, and they were still having premarital sex back then.

COOPER: Interesting study. Ian Kerner, thanks.

KERNER: Thank you.

COOPER: Appreciate your perspective.

If you think our last segment was perhaps an eye opener, just wait. Coming up, a man who is convinced his blindness was cured by a miracle. What do the experts say? Take a look.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're scientists, and as doctors we like a scientific explanation for things. So it makes us a little bit uncomfortable when there's something that we can't explain.


COOPER: How do we explain this? Stay with us for a story of faith, prayer and some say a miracle.

And in the next hour, an eye-opening look at modern Christianity. What is a Christian? And where do you fit?


COOPER: Well, any time something surprising or unusual happens, you're sure to find someone who will call it a miracle. You also find a lot of doubters. And tonight, we're putting the two together.

Jason Carroll has a story of a man who says he was blind but now can see. Even the Catholic Church considers it a miracle.


JASON CARROLL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Nothing like this ever happened in Terre Haute, Indiana. Dr. Nick Rader examined the strange circumstances.

DR. NICK RADER, INDIANA EYE CLINIC: We're scientists, and as doctors we like a scientific explanation for things. And it makes us a little bit uncomfortable when there's something that we can't explain.

CARROLL: It's the mystery of what happened here in the church at St. Mary-of-the-Woods College, to this man, Phil McCord. For decades he was legally blind. Instead of 20-20 vision, which is considered normal, McCord's was...

PHIL MCCORD, SIGHT RESTORED: Twenty-eight hundred to 21,000.

CARROLL (on camera): Excuse me, your vision was what?

MCCORD: Twenty-eight hundred in one eye and 21,000.

CARROLL: Legally blind is 2,200. Doctors diagnosed McCord with severe myopia and advanced cataracts. With the help of my photographer and producer...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So tell me what is...

CARROLL: McCord showed us what I would look like through his ailing eyes.

MCCORD: Toward the end, it was probably even a little darker than that.

CARROLL: So could you dim the lights just a bit?

MCCORD: Even actually a little blurrier than that, if you can believe it.

CARROLL: Even a little blurrier than that?

MCCORD: Yes, yes.

CARROLL: His world was a dull, dark place of blurry yellow shapes and shadows.

MCCORD: You actually -- you get depressed. It's like being without light.

CARROLL: Surgery corrected his left eye but not the right. Doctors said he needed a cornea transplant. The procedure brought great risks that could have left him permanently blind in that eye.

MCCORD: I'd like to say I was a little anxious. My wife likes to say I was scared to death. CARROLL: And yet McCord felt he had no choice. Until one day he says organ music drew him inside the church. Of course, he had been there often. He had worked at St. Mary-of-the-Woods College for more than eight years.

But this time was different. This time he felt compelled to pray to a special person, Mother Theodore Guerin, a highly revered nun from France who came to the United States to help the sick and poor. She founded the college in 1841.

MCCORD: I said to Mother Theodore, "If you have any influence with God, if you could exercise it on my behalf, I would be very appreciative."

CARROLL: The next morning McCord woke up and felt better.

MCCORD: I noticed my eye looked a little different. The droop was gone.

CARROLL: His doctor got an even bigger surprise.

MCCORD: He looked and, "Oh."

And I said, "What?"

He said, "I think your eye -- your eye is better."

CARROLL: Doctors told McCord surgery wasn't needed, just a laser treatment to remove old tissue. The cornea underneath had healed itself. His eye now had 20/20 vision.

MCCORD: Everything I looked at was different. You know, looking at a stop sign, it was really red. Food looked different, which made it taste different.

CARROLL: This was not new for Mother Theodore. The Vatican had already attributed a miracle to her in the early 1900s. A nun was seemingly cured overnight of a malignant tumor.

For sainthood, the Vatican needs proof of a virtuous life, which they already have in Mother Theodore, and evidence of two miracles.

SISTER MARIE KEVIN TIGHE, SISTERS OF PROVIDENCE: The two miracles are simply -- this is my take on it -- God's seal of approval, because only God can intervene in the laws of nature.

CARROLL: The church formally investigated Phil McCord's case. Was it a second miracle? Theologians testified. So did doctors like Dr. Rader, leading ophthalmologist in Indiana, who told the Vatican he was baffled. There was no scientific explanation.

RADER: Yet I think that's part of the process. You have to look at the facts. I think that it's clear to us something that was going on there.

CARROLL: The Vatican would proclaim it a miracle. Pope Benedict XVI canonized Mother Theodore a saint.

McCord was there to see it. But at times he still wonders if he's really living proof of a miracle.

MCCORD: There's a part of me that still thinks maybe there's something we don't understand. Maybe in a hundred years or 50 years somebody will say, "Oh, well, yes, now I understand how that happens.'

CARROLL: It's clear McCord sees his world in a different way. That includes his faith. He's a Baptist but because of St. Mother Theodore, he's now converting to Catholicism.

Jason Carroll, CNN, Terre Haute, Indiana.


COOPER: We'll have a look at what it means to be a Christian today and where you fit in, in our next hour on 360, in about 10 minutes.

Right now, "The Shot of the Day" is coming up. What's Rosie up to? A little hint: she's not shy about taking on the Donald. We'll play it all out for you. The tit for the tat, what's going on.

Randi Kaye right now joins us with the "360 Bulletin" -- Randi.


There is a new tape from al Qaeda tonight. On it, Ayman al- Zawahiri, the second in command, weighs in on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

He warns Palestinian leaders that holding elections won't lead to liberation. He also warned the U.S. about negotiating with the wrong countries when it comes to the war in Iraq, but he wasn't clear on which countries he meant.

In Beijing, progress is being made in new six-party talks aimed at getting North Korea to scrap its nuclear weapons program. But the North Koreans say they won't make any concessions until the U.S. lifts all financial restrictions against their country.

In Washington, new insight on the illegal moves made by former national security advisor, Sandy Berger. The watchdog for the National Archives reveals today when Berger removed classified documents from the archives back in 2003, he hid them under a construction trailer. Later he retrieved the papers and destroyed some of them.

Berger was fined $50,000 and ordered to perform 100 hours of community service.

And in London, leaping lizards. Zoo officials think they have a bone fied case of a virgin birth. A komodo dragon in Florida appears to have fertilized eight eggs -- get this -- all by herself. Smaller lizards can already do this. Scientists only recently discovered that komodo dragons can, as well. So no mating necessary for the komodo dragons.

COOPER: Wow. Go figure. Randi, thanks.

Time now for "The Shot". Donald Trump probably hoped he -- he would be thanked for giving the troubled Miss USA a second chance yesterday. Well, wasn't quite the reaction from Rosie O'Donnell. Oh, no. "The View" co-host trashed the billionaire on the show today.

Here she is in slow motion. As you see Rosie lampooned Trump's hairstyle and had some pretty unkind words for the Donald, who today on "The Insider" fired back with a few choice words of his own. And much publicity was had by both of them. Here's a little of both.


ROSIE O'DONNELL, CO-HOST, ABC'S "THE VIEW": This young girl, Tara Conner -- how is she, 20?


O'DONNELL: Twenty-one. She went out and she was partying. She's from Kentucky. She went to New York, and she was hanging out at all the parties, doing what Paris and Lindsay do, you know, dancing, whatever.

And so he held a press conference to announce whether or not she was going to retain her crown. And then she started to cry. So "Donald is giving me a second chance."

So there he is with the hair going, "I believe in a second chance, so I'm giving her a second chance."

BEHAR: Your hair is perfect for that.

O'DONNELL: He annoys me on a multitude of levels. He's the moral authority? Left the first wife, had an affair, left the second wife, had an affair. Had kids both times, but he's the moral compass for 20-year-olds in America? Donald, sit and spin, my friend.

If he hadn't inherited a lot of money -- wait a minute -- and he's been bankrupt so many times, where he didn't have to pay the people he owed.


O'DONNELL: Get ready for the lawsuit. Get ready, it's going to be good.

BEHAR: He's going to sue you.

O'DONNELL: He's going to sue me, but he'll be bankrupt by that time. So I don't have to worry. But I don't know. I just think that this man is like sort of one of those, you know, snake oil salesman in "Little House on the Prairie."

DONALD TRUMP, REAL ESTATE MOGUL: Rosie O'Donnell is disgusting, I mean, both inside and out. If you take a look at her, she's a slob. She talks like a truck driver. She doesn't have her facts. She'll say anything that comes to her mind.

And you know, her show failed when it was a talk show. She failed on that. The ratings went very, very low and very bad, and she got essentially thrown off television.

Her magazine was a total catastrophe. She got sued. And I mean, she's basically a disaster.

Well, she called me a snake oil salesman, and you know, coming from Rosie, that's pretty low. Because when you look at her and when you see the mind, the mind is weak.

I don't see it. I don't get it. I never understood. How does she even get on television?

I'll probably sue Rosie, because she doesn't tell the facts. As an example, I'm worth many billions of dollars. Now, it's nothing to brag about. I'm worth many billions of dollars. It's very simple. She said I was bankrupt.

Now I never went bankrupt. She said I filed bankruptcy. I never filed bankruptcy. I never went bankrupt, but she said I went bankrupt. So probably I'll sue her, because it would be fun. I'd like to take some money out of her fat-ass pockets.


COOPER: I don't even know what to say. I think these two people take themselves far too seriously. Anyway, I don't want to get into this. I don't even know what to say. I'm completely verklempt.

So let's just move on, shall we? Let's. You know, nothing though, holds a candle to my favorite sound bite of the week. And I know I said last night I wasn't going to show anymore, but I think I've just got to show it one more time. Tara Conner, take it away, please.


TARA CONNER, MISS USA: I'm willing to do whatever it takes. Not only given a chance to have time to better myself, but to better me as a better Miss USA. And I plan on watching out of this to be the best Miss USA that you've ever seen.


COOPER: I'm going to be the best gosh darn Miss USA you've ever seen.

Well, coming up, the "360 Takes You Live Sweepstakes". Have you heard about this, folks? Have you heard about this? Yes, here you go. The location of the day. NYC, as in New York City. New York City, NYC, just those three letters.

That's all you need. That's the code you need right there to enter the contest on the web site,, the one where I look goofy and move around on it. Just click on the "chance to win sweepstakes" link, enter for a shot at the grand prize, a trip to New York and a behind-the-scenes look at 360.

The web site again: If you're very lucky, you may get sued by Donald Trump. Good luck.

Straight ahead tonight, a 360 special on the changing face of Christianity in America. Ninety percent of Americans are Christian. So why do they behave so differently?

We'll also meet some true believers who think the end times are here because of what's happening with Middle East politics.

And does God want you to be rich? We'll examine some very popular gospels of wealth and why some call it heresy when 360 continues.



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