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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES

Violent Crime on the Rise Nationwide; Are Criminals Getting Younger?; Karl Rove Under Fire Over Prosecutor Purge

Aired March 15, 2007 - 22:00   ET

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


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Breaking news out of Washington: Karl Rove, the president's top adviser, under fire again -- further fallout over the decisions to fire eight U.S. attorneys. Democrats want answers and names. And, tonight, they got a big one.
CNN's Suzanne Malveaux is live with more -- Suzanne.

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, the e-mail shows that Karl Rove raised the idea of firing all 93 U.S. attorneys nearly a month before the White House previously acknowledged.

The electronic conversation between two White House officials dated January 6, 2005, says -- quote -- "Rove stopped by to ask how we planned to proceed regarding U.S. attorneys, allow all to stay, request resignations from all, and accept only some, or selectively replace them."

So, the White House is sticking by its claim that it was Harriet Miers who originally suggested getting rid of all 93 attorneys, and that Rove simply dismissed it as a bad idea. However, the White House has provided no documentation supporting that.

So, why does this matter? Now, Democrats, like New York Senator Chuck Schumer, pounced on these newly-surfaced e-mails, saying that this is just another example of the White House not being up front about Rove's role. And he's insisting that Rove be compelled to testify before Congress.

The White House says this is more partisan politics aimed at damaging the administration. Now, the battle, Anderson, comes to a head tomorrow. That's when the Senate deadline for White House lawyers to decide whether Rove, Miers and other White House staff are going to testify before Congress, or whether the White House will invoke privilege -- Anderson.

COOPER: So, for the White House, it's -- is it a point of principle, the idea of Rove not testifying?

MALVEAUX: Well, they're -- they're likely going to say this is executive privilege. It's something that the president has often done in the past. And there's nobody who really feels like the Bush administration is going to change its position on this one.

We expect that this is really going to be quite a battle.

COOPER: Suzanne, we will be following it.

And we are going to have much more on this breaking news later on in the program tonight.

But we also want to get to our other top story right now: a double execution caught on tape. It unfolded last night in New York's Greenwich Village. A man entered a restaurant, shot a bartender to death. Then, on the street, he confronted two auxiliary police officers. They were unarmed volunteers. He killed them, before dying himself in a hail of police gunfire.

The police commissioner calls those two men heroes for saving lives. So did their families. And they want you to see the tape. They want you to know what happened to these heroes.

We warn you, parts of it are graphic.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER (voice-over): The surveillance video picks up the shooter, David Garvin, as he begins running along Sullivan Street in New York's Greenwich Village, moments after he shot Alfredo Romero to death in a local restaurant.

We can see 28-year-old unarmed auxiliary police officer Nicholas Pekearo racing up the other side of the street, and taking cover behind a parked car. Police say Garvin may have seen armed police officers coming towards him.

He suddenly crosses the street, takes aim, and shoots officer Pekearo over and over and over again. Police say Pekearo had six bullet wounds in his back and side.

Garvin begins running again towards another unarmed auxiliary officer, 19-year-old Eugene Marshalik. You can see Marshalik running back across Sullivan Street and ducking behind another parked car. But Garvin is right behind him. And, as armed NYPD officers race to save their comrades, Garvin executes officer Marshalik, shooting him at least once in the head.

That would be David Garvin's last killing. As he disappeared around the corner and into another store, police pursued him. They say they ordered him to drop his weapons. And, when he refused, they opened fire, killing the man who murdered two of New York's finest.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: And we have new information about that gunman.

According to New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, he may have gone on the shooting rampage after a friend of his was fired from the pizza shop. He had no history of psychiatric problems or a criminal record. He once worked for "The Wall Street Journal" as an information graphics coordinator.

Tonight, we're looking in-depth at the rise of crime across the country. The terrible irony of that shooting is that the murder rate in New York continues to decline. But, nationwide, there is a troubling trend.

After years of declines, murders and violent crimes are on the rise.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER (voice-over): In Wisconsin, a traffic routine stop erupts in gunfire.

(SCREAMING)

COOPER: Nevada: A cell phone camera catches an alleged stabbing spree at a supermarket.

In New York, three teenage girls attack a 13-year-old.

And, in Florida, a homeless man is beaten with a bat.

In many American cities, violent crime is soaring.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is not just a couple of sensational crimes being caught on tape. This is happening. And it's happening across the country. It's probably not a perfect storm yet. But it's certainly a perfect warning. And we are quite foolish if we don't heed the warning.

COOPER: A new report by the Police Executive Research Forum, whose members include senior officers nationwide, paints a disturbing picture of crime in midsized and major cities: in Milwaukee, aggravated assaults up 85 percent since 2004; in Arlington, Texas, aggravated assault with a firearm up 129 percent.

Robberies rose almost 43 percent in Memphis, 44 percent in Las Vegas. Then, there's murder, according to the report, up 130 percent in Charleston, 188 percent in Orlando. FBI data confirms that, after a long fall, violent crime is rising again, nationwide by about 4 percent last year.

So, what's fuelling the violence? It seems there are several factors at play.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have reduced the number of cops in America. We're making guns accessible. We're no longer passing gun- control laws like we were doing. We're seeing the rise of meth, which seems to be causing a drug response. Gangs are getting guns and drugs in ways they have never done before.

COOPER: Politicians have their own theories. Senator Joseph Biden, a Democrat who authored the 1994 crime bill, blames the Bush administration for drastically cutting funding for the federal community policing program.

In a report to be issued this month, the Brookings Institution says that program distributed close to $1 billion a year to help hire thousands of cops between 1995 and 1999. In 2005, funding for the initiative dwindled to just $5 million.

And when you see video like this of a 101-year-old woman being punched in the face, attacked and robbed, for $33, many are asking, can this rise in crime be stopped?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For once, we should act in a preventative fashion. We know what's coming. Let's step in now and stop this, before it gets out of hand again.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Well, joining me from Boston for more on the rise in crime is criminologist and author James Alan Fox.

Thanks for being with us, Mr. Fox.

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: Murder up 130 percent in Charleston, 180 percent in Orlando, Florida -- what is going on?

JAMES ALAN FOX, CRIMINOLOGIST, NORTHEASTERN UNIVERSITY: Well, you're talking about relatively small numbers. And small numbers can grow in these exaggerated statistics because they are small.

The perp report focused, for example, in Seattle, and talks about a huge increase in Seattle. Well, it turns out that the entire increase was related to one mass murder last March, a case you know about, we have talked about.

So, when you have a small number of cases, you have to take the rise with a grain of salt, maybe the whole saltshaker. But, overall, there is an increase. We knew it was going to happen. There are more kids at risk and fewer cops, a 10 percent drop in the number of cops in cities across America.

We have also seen big cuts in programs for youth, after-school programs, all sorts of -- of crime-patrol programs. And we're seeing the effects of it now. It's growing, but it's not an epidemic.

COOPER: So, if it's -- I mean, anecdotally, the reports I'm hearing from -- from police officers around the country is that the violence that they are seeing, that there's -- you know, it's multiple shootings. It's -- there's -- if -- if there's a killing, it's an over-killing, that there's, you know, too many shots fired to actually just achieve, you know, an execution.

What do you make of that? Is that -- if that's real, why?

FOX: Well, we do have a -- a cohort of extremely ruthless kids, the young and the ruthless, who are -- who are willing to pull the trigger even over trivial issues, a leather jacket, a pair of sneakers.

This is a group that we have dis -- disinvested in. We have -- we have taken away a lot of the programs, support programs, that were so successful in the 1990s. You know, crime rates fell over 50 percent in the 1990s. And many Americans said, gee, there's not a problem anymore. Let's cut budgets and move on to other issues.

Well, you don't -- you don't solve the crime problem. You only control it. Gangs have made a comeback when we have ignored that issue. Guns have made a comeback, as Congress as seemed to retreat from its -- its gun stand, allowing the NRA to run roughshod over the -- over the Congress.

So, we're -- we're -- we're now seeing the effect: fewer cops, more kids, more guns, and fewer dollars spent in prevention.

COOPER: I should just point out, a lot of gun supporters will say, you know, that's bunk, to be blaming the NRA. But -- but I -- let's not get into a debate...

FOX: I'm not blaming -- I'm not -- actually, I'm not blaming the NRA. I'm blaming Congress for -- for basically not taking -- not doing the right thing, but, instead, capitulating to pressure from the NRA.

Anyway...

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: And I'm not -- and I'm not taking a side here. I'm just...

FOX: Right.

COOPER: ... trying to point out what -- what the opposition would say.

FOX: Sure.

COOPER: But -- but let's not get into a debate about -- about guns.

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: Crystal meth, is that an issue as well?

FOX: Sure. It is an issue. It's an issue not just in the cities. It's an issue in Middle America. We saw it coming. It's been spreading across the -- across the country. And I'm not sure we're doing all the right things to deal with it.

Sure, we have -- we -- we have -- a new law went into effect about a year ago to deal with meth. Hopefully, it will pay off. But I'm not so sure , because a lot of the meth, now, is no longer coming from homegrown labs, because we have taken it off the shelves of the drugstores. It's coming from Mexico. And it's being fueled by a lot of the gang activity.

COOPER: Do we also have a -- a culture of violence? I mean, I think just about everybody will agree that there is a culture of violence in -- in -- in the music young people are listening to, in the movies that we see, certainly in the video games that they are playing.

And -- and I don't want to sound like an alarmist or reactionary, but that's got to have some kind of an impact.

FOX: Oh, sure.

We have become desensitized, not just kids who are desensitized to violence, as they play video games that -- that reward them with points and levels when they kill lots of people, but adults, too. We have become desensitized. We're much too tolerant of violence.

And, indeed, we often cheer on the person who is the brute, the bully, where -- and we pity the poor, defenseless people. So, our culture does glamorize and glorify violence. But, you know, that's not a new thing.

Let's try to deal with what's -- what's happening now. Crime rates are edging up, not like they were 10 years ago. So, let's try to keep some perspective here. It's time to roll up our sleeves and get back to the very things that worked so well 10 years ago: more cops -- we have got to restore the sources there -- more money for after-school programs, also to youth-enrich -- enrichment programs.

The situation is not out of control.

COOPER: Not yet.

And, professor Fox, we will...

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: We will end it there on that -- on that optimistic note.

We want to focus a lot on this in the coming weeks and months. You will definitely be back on the program.

Professor Fox, appreciate your expertise. Thanks.

You know, as crime...

FOX: My pleasure.

COOPER: As crime goes up across the country, the age of criminals is going down. More and more young people are committing violent crimes.

CNN's Rick Sanchez looks at that angle.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RICK SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It is one story of one boy in one town in Ohio, Andrew Riley, 13, but with a rap sheet that reads like that of a hardened criminal. He's charged with 128 felonies -- 128. That's almost his age times 10. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's shocking in a -- in a town our size.

SANCHEZ: Police say he broke into businesses and people's homes. They say he stole checks from the elderly, beat up a fellow teenager who was going to testify against him -- burglary, witness intimidation, vandalism, just some of the charges against this Ohio teen.

You say isolated case? Experts around the country say, teen crime is on the rise.

CHUCK WEXLER, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, POLICE EXECUTIVE RESEARCH FORUM: Juveniles are committing more robberies, and, in some cases, getting involved in more serious incidents.

SANCHEZ: Chuck Wexler runs a Washington-based think tank that monitors crime patterns across the country. He says, not only are juveniles committing more crimes, but they're committing more violent crimes, like this case in Long Island, New York, made infamous on the video-sharing Web site YouTube.

In one disturbing scene, police say a teen starts assaulting one of her classmates. She's seen punching, pulling hair, kicking her in the face. And now watch as another assailant joins in, and then a third, all teens. The painful episode, according to authorities, began as an online argument over a boy.

WEXLER: Juveniles are more involved for a variety of reasons. What's really hard to quite put our finger on is why they're involved in more violent crime.

SANCHEZ: The experts we talk to suggest several reasons for the surge in violent crime.

First, plain and simple, census reports show, there are more of them, more teens. Add to that more guns, more gangs, less parental or community involvement, and what you get are scenes like this one from Fort Lauderdale, Florida. In this surveillance video that police are using as evidence against these two teens, the boys are seen beating up a homeless man. They're charged with attempted murder, but are pleading not guilty.

Police say they didn't know the man, but nearly beat him to death.

(on camera): There's something else that the experts we talk to say about this increase in teen violence and crime. They say it may be caused by the messages that are being sent to the teens, the messages often delivered by movies and video games and music, that say it's cool to be bad.

So, where most of us grew up idolizing the good guy, for many teens today, the bad guy is the good guy.

Rick Sanchez, CNN, Atlanta.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Well, for every crime, there's a victim. And, in 2005, there were many. Here's the "Raw Data."

In the most recent year, data released by the FBI, 16,662 people were murdered in America. Nearly 94,000 were forcibly raped -- or forcible rapes were reported. There were more than 417,000 robberies and nearly 863,000 aggravated assaults.

The statistics are shocking, even to the most hardened crime veteran.

Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER (voice-over): He has seen it all, but has never seen anything like this.

JOHN WALSH, HOST, "AMERICA'S MOST WANTED": It's more violent. The crimes are more violent. And the shooters, the murderers, the rapists, and the muggers are getting younger.

COOPER: John Walsh of "America's Most Wanted" on why so many kids are turning to crime, and how we can stop them.

Plus: walking the line.

DARREN BROWN, RESIDENT OF LOS ANGELES: I have been over here for 11 years. And I ain't never really crossed the 206 Street. If you do, you have got a death wish, because they are going -- they are going to take you out.

COOPER: Inside an inner-city war where the wrong step can be a matter of life and death -- ahead on 360.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: We have been talking about violent crime. It's on the rise. And our kids are growing up in a culture that many say fosters it.

I spoke with John Walsh of "America's Most Wanted" about what's gone wrong and how we all can help make it right.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: What we're hearing a lot from police chiefs around the country, in cities in the Midwest in particular, is that they're seeing -- you know, it's young people. It's people in their teens and early 20s.

And the violence -- the level of violence in these crimes is really on the uptick, multiple shots, that there's a -- there's sort of a -- a complete disregard for -- for human life, that -- that, to them, seems new.

WALSH: I think that this is the most disturbing trend is -- I have been -- I have been doing "America's Most Wanted" for 20 years, and I have never seen the incredible level of violence, and it -- just as you say, the 10 shots, the five victims murdered.

It seems like -- and I -- and I'm a gun owner, and I believe in gun training. And I hunt and all those things. But there's too many guns. It's too easy for a little punk to get a gun. And you're absolutely right. I -- I don't -- don't know what it is, but, again, it's -- it's a good barometer of how society sort of turns its back on these punks, or when -- when they shoot someone 10 times from 100 yards away, and think it's really cool.

It isn't cool. It's -- it's a horrible, horrible homicide.

But you make a great point. The -- the -- it's more violent. The crimes are more violent. And the shooters, the murderers, the rapists, and the muggers are getting younger. And I really think people have to wake up and say, we have to get involved. We have got to do something about this.

COOPER: You have seen these new statistics about crime -- violent crime being on the rise around the United States, in particular in Midwestern cities.

Why do you think that's happening?

WALSH: I think that you will -- we see a tremendous increase in the homicide rates, for example, and violent crimes, because we have this whole culture of disenfranchised young people.

The -- the scary part of that trend is not just the increase in those crimes, but the ages of the people who commit those crimes. And, lots of times, they're crimes against other young people.

So, I think, as a society, we have to look at the bigger, bigger picture. And that is that the times are getting more violent, the people are getting younger, and there's this whole part of our society that is fatherless, or nobody cares about them. Nobody is involved in their lives.

And I think we just have to say, oh, quit shaking our heads, and say, isn't this terrible; isn't this scary? Got to reach out. Places like Boys and Girls Clubs are kind of doing their job all alone in the -- in inner cities, particularly. I think, as a society, we have to say, hey, the crimes are horrific, the guys are getting younger and younger, and we need to get involved.

COOPER: It's interesting. I have been working on this story about the stop-snitching phenomenon in -- in inner-city communities. And that seems to add to it.

I mean, this is a message being marketed to young people by -- by rappers, by big corporations, which are marketing this -- this sort of culture of respect, and people demanding respect for one another, and taking matters into their hands, and not talking to police.

WALSH: People exploit it by making these stop-snitching T- shirts, these stop-snitching parkas, and selling them in stores.

First of all, I think it's a disgusting trend. I don't think it's right. And I think we have to say to people, particularly in inner cities, look, the next crime victim could be you.

COOPER: John Walsh, appreciate it. Thanks, John.

WALSH: Thank you, Anderson.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: In-depth on the crime tonight.

Another ugly crime trend: gangs, with a new target, a deadly racial divide that some fear may spread.

Plus, more on our breaking news tonight: Karl Rove under fire for his e-mails and the firing of U.S. attorneys -- the paper trail. We will talk to former presidential adviser David Gergen -- when 360 continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: More now on our in-depth look at the rising crime rates in America, violent crime in particular -- a look at another factor, the racial divide.

In a Los Angeles neighborhood, Latino gangs are trying to force some African-Americans out. And, in some cases, they're doing it with deadly force.

CNN's Ted Rowlands reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This Los Angeles street is a deadly symbol of a racial divide between blacks and Latinos.

DARREN BROWN, RESIDENT OF LOS ANGELES: I have been over here for 11 years. And I ain't never really crossed the 206 Street.

ROWLANDS: Two Hundred and Sixth Street is a dividing line. Darren Brown, who lives on 208th, says he and other African-Americans stay on one side. Latinos are on the other. And, if you cross, there can be trouble.

BROWN: If you do, you have got a death wish, because they are going -- they are going to take you out. They are going to kill you.

ROWLANDS: Fourteen-year-old Cheryl Green was recently murdered along the 206th Street Border. The suspects, both Latinos, are facing hate crime charges. A week before Cheryl Green, it was 34-year-old Arturo Mercado, who was shot in his front yard. Police haven't made an arrest in that case, but Latinos are blaming blacks, who they claim started this war by moving into the neighborhood about 15 years ago.

CHARLES BECK, LOS ANGELES POLICE DEPARTMENT DEPUTY CHIEF: The dividing line is this street.

ROWLANDS: L.A. Assistant Police Chief Charles Beck blames much of the tension on a Latino gang called 204. He says the gang is motivated by hatred of blacks, to the point that the gang's mission, according to the police, is to get African-Americans to leave the neighborhood.

These police photos show some of the gang's recent hate graffiti. This message says, "Move," followed by the N-word.

BECK: This gang, in a very small area, with a very small membership, has managed to put itself at the very top of our enforcement priority, because they target people based on race.

ROWLANDS: So, why do these Latino gang members hate blacks?

We talked to a 43-year-old Hispanic man who was questioned by police about the Cheryl Green murder. We can't show his face, but listen to some of the things he says about African-Americans in his neighborhood.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I just wish they would just leave, and go wherever they got to go, and just leave us the way we were, and everything will be cool. We had a nice little -- nice little community here. And it's not nice anymore, because of them.

ROWLANDS (on camera): What did they bring?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ghettoism. They brought lowlife -- just, they're dirty, man.

ROWLANDS: Dirty?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You guys know, man.

ROWLANDS (voice-over): Black-brown tension isn't confined to gangs or this neighborhood. It's a problem in many cities, prisons, and even some schools, where fights, like this one last year in Southern California, have broken out between black and Latino students.

In Los Angeles itself, the tension has spilled into places like Watts and Compton, where competition for jobs and housing often pit the two ethnic groups against each other.

But 206th Street and its obvious climate of racial hate is the symbolic center of what some believe is a worsening problem. And, until there's significant change, blacks and Latinos will, most likely, continue to stay on their own side of the street. Ted Rowlands, CNN, Los Angeles.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Well, in the weeks and months ahead, we're going to continue to focus in-depth on this alarming rise in violent crimes across the United States. It's not just a black and white issue. We will try to look at it, all the different angles, in the coming months.

Let's check in with Erica Hill for a 360 news bulletin -- Erica.

ERICA HILL, HEADLINE NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Anderson.

More fallout tonight from the firing of eight U.S. attorneys. E- mails released today show White House political adviser Karl Rove raised questions in 2005 about replacing some federal prosecutors. Now New York Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer is calling for Rove to testify before Congress, and give details on his involvement with the firings. We are going to have more on this story for you coming up.

Meantime, near Brunswick, Georgia, a missing 6-year-old boy found dead today, after a weeklong search -- the body of Christopher Barrios was found about three miles from his home. A convicted sex offender, the man's parents, and a family friend were named suspects in Christopher's disappearance. All four are in custody.

In New Orleans, the Army Corps of Engineers is on the defensive,, saying defective pumps at three major drainage canals will be fixed by the end of next month, before the start of hurricane season. They were installed last year. Louisiana's governor, Kathleen Blanco, lashed out at the Corps, saying the mistake could have put people in jeopardy.

And some good news: Regis Philbin recovering from a successful triple-bypass surgery. Kelly Ripa announced today on "Live With Regis & Kelly" that Philbin is cracking jokes with the nurses and harassing people at a New York hospital, Anderson.

So, that might mean you are off the hook for the next few mornings.

COOPER: Yes, I -- I think they -- they had their fill of me. Two days was about enough...

(LAUGHTER)

COOPER: ... of my irritating laugh. They...

(LAUGHTER)

COOPER: Kelly about had enough, I think.

HILL: Oh, you should love the laugh. Own it.

(LAUGHTER) COOPER: Is that what I should do? I should own my laugh?

HILL: Yes, just own it, because, you know, you're stuck with it anyway.

COOPER: Well, that is true.

(LAUGHTER)

COOPER: Well, it's good news that Regis is -- is doing well. And we hope he gets back soon.

HILL: See you in a bit.

COOPER: Good news, indeed.

Up next on 360, Bush's brain under fire.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER (voice-over): How much did he know and when?

SEN. CHARLES SCHUMER (D), NEW YORK: Karl Rove was in the middle of this mess from the beginning.

COOPER: New allegations that the man behind the president, Karl Rove, was also behind the firings of U.S. attorneys.

Plus, they met in Iraq, a step (ph) in a battlefield in a makeshift O.R. Three-sixty M.D. Sanjay Gupta and the Marine he operated on.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I didn't think you were going to survive that. I didn't think you were going to live.

COOPER: He did survive. Now, he's fighting a new battle to get the care he needs. His story ahead on 360.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Most U.S. troops in Iraq believe the U.S. military is going to help their families if they die. But the family of a fallen Navy petty officer says that is not happening. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SUSAN JAENKE, GRANDMOTHER: I'm a mother without a daughter. I have a daughter without a mother. And now, we don't have a future. I'm not asking for anything more than that $100,000. That would mean the world to my family.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: She says they are cash-strapped, and the military isn't helping her. We went to the Navy for answers. We're "Keeping Them Honest". We'll tell you what we found out, coming up in the next hour of 360.

But first, more on our breaking news story tonight. The new fallout from the firing of eight U.S. attorneys.

As we mentioned earlier, White House e-mails released today show that President Bush's top political adviser, Karl Rove, discussed the shakeup as far back as 2005.

Plus, some of the e-mails were between him and Alberto Gonzales before Gonzales became attorney general. At the time, he was the White House counsel.

The White House has said the idea of sacking federal prosecutors came from Harriet Miers, who replaced Gonzales as White House counsel after his cabinet promotion. Democrats and others are demanding answers.

Joining me now is former presidential adviser, David Gergen.

David, you know, when you boil this down, it looks like the White House was not forthcoming about a series of firings, which -- they weren't illegal. They were totally within the president's authorities. What does it say about the White House that this has turned into such a controversy?

DAVID GERGEN, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL ADVISER: Well, it raises the question of is this incompetence? Or is it just an intent to lie and deceive? And either way, it's a bad charge, Anderson.

What -- in Karl Rove's case, you know, with the e-mail that came out today, it showed the Rove conversation is a perfectly innocent one. There's nothing -- he was just exploring whether, in fact, they were going to let the prosecutors go or not. And that's often -- you often do that during a transition period after an election.

But for them to come out and mislead the press and the public, about what happened at the White House and for the Justice Department, I think it's going to bring two results, Anderson.

One is it's going to put enormous pressure on Karl Rove now to go before the Senate and testify, voluntarily. He's not going to want to do that. There may be a real fight over it.

But secondly, and perhaps more importantly for the moment, Anderson, you remember John Roberts reported on your program, just last night. It only takes one more thing, to push the attorney general, Gonzales, over the side.

And now, we've got that one more thing. I think he's heading for the exit doors.

COOPER: You think this is it. This is the one more thing that is going to push Gonzales out? GERGEN: Well, I just think it's -- come clear to Republicans on the Hill now that the White House and the Justice Department have been very misleading about what happened. That they've been lied to in a variety of ways. This mess is going to grow bigger.

And from a Republican standpoint, you want to cut the legs off this as best you can in order to preserve yourself for elections in 2008.

So very interestingly, today not only a Republican senator, Gordon Smith of Oregon, came out and asked for Gonzales to go. But Dana Rohrabacher in the House, a Republican, a staunch, staunch Reaganite conservative, has now asked or now said that Gonzales has to go.

The tide is clearly turning. I think -- I think this -- these latest revelations are that one thing more that are going to help to push him. I think it's pretty clear now he's leaving.

COOPER: A lot of Democrats would say, look, Karl Rove did nothing wrong. If these e-mails were innocent, why not have him go up and testify on the Hill?

GERGEN: Well, that's right. But there is this issue that the president and his White House team have long wanted to protect their own people from having to go up to the Hill and testify.

And what's also new here, Anderson, is the president has a new general council we talked about last night, Fred Fielding, who is a long-time veteran, highly respected.

And he has promised the Senate that by tomorrow, he will give them an answer of whether White House aides will come and just talk voluntarily. If he says no that the president -- he said he was going to check with the higher-ups. That means the president.

If he comes back and says no, then I think we're going to have a donnybrook with the Senate demanding, especially the Senate Democrats, demanding that Karl Rove come. And this story is going to continue to expand.

I would think that there are going to be a lot of Republicans who say why don't we send him up there? I wouldn't be surprised if Fred Fielding says, "You know, Mr. President, the better course now might be to have him go testify voluntarily and try and take the wind out of this." And if he hasn't done anything wrong, why don't we just go ahead and have him testify?

COOPER: What would be the worst possible outcome from their perspective of Karl Rove testifying? I mean, I know they for years have argued about presidential privilege and not having people do it. But what's the harm?

GERGEN: It's a precedent-setting issue. And then -- and then if the Democrats may think that they've got Karl Rove on the run, they'll start bringing up all sorts of other things that they'll want to ask him about. And they'll be able to haul him back up there and make him a pinata, you know, in other investigations to come.

So one understands the reluctance. But I have to tell you, in this case, I think in order to save Karl Rove, in effect, they have to -- probably have to give up Gonzales, which I think they're going to have to do anyway. And then let Karl Rove go testify voluntarily. Make it a one-shot, one-off arrangement. And say this is it.

We're going to -- under these circumstances, we want to make sure. Because there's no evidence that Karl Rove has done anything wrong in any of this.

COOPER: Is there fear, I guess, on the White House side, that if they do make it -- you know, if they do break precedent, that the Democrats smell blood in the water? And the floodgates are open?

GERGEN: Yes. Yes. It's -- well, we do that all the time. The -- I think there is a fear that, if you have him go up, you do -- you do open the floodgates.

Also, there's also a fear that if you -- if you let the attorney general go, you know, then that will also open floodgates. And there will be calls for other people to go.

Either way, they've got a mess on their hands. And it's a deeper mess tonight than it was only 24 hours ago. And it is just -- it is just -- I'm just floored at the fact that this White House and this Justice Department have been so incompetent in the way they have dealt with this.

And why don't -- you know, rule No. 1 of damage control, is when you're inside, get to the bottom of it. Get your own understanding of the facts. And then put them all out at one time.

In this case, it's being dragged out of them piece by piece. And every time something's dragged out, it says what they said earlier wasn't true. And it makes them look like not only they're incompetent, but they're liars.

COOPER: It is fascinating how quickly this thing has changed in just 24 hours. We'll see what tomorrow night brings.

GERGEN: OK.

COOPER: David Gergen, thanks, as always.

GERGEN: Thank you.

COOPER: Up next, 360 M.D. Sanjay Gupta with a Marine whose life he helped save in Iraq. He operated on this young Marine, brain surgery. That was the easy part of this Marine's fight. You'll find out what's happened to him since.

Plus, Senator John McCain revs up the straight talk express. But is he towing the party line? We're all politics when 360 continues.

(NEWSBREAK) (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: There's no question the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have taken a huge toll on the mental health of U.S. troops. According to a recent study published in "The Archives of Internal Medicine", 13,000 troops have been diagnosed with PTSD, posttraumatic stress disorder. Countless others suffer from depression.

Now, some veterans are finding they're fighting another battle when they return home. We've been covering this story for weeks now. Three-sixty M.D. Sanjay Gupta has one Marine's story.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GUPTA (voice-over): This is where it began, on a battlefield in Iraq. Fifty-two minutes after a sniper's bullet sent shrapnel exploding into his brain, my path would converge with 24-year-old Jesus Vidana.

We first met in a dusty, desert tent in a makeshift O.R.

(on camera) I feel like giving you a hug. How are you?

(voice-over) We've reunited since that night. But this was the first time I told him in detail how he was saved.

(on camera) These are the staples. That's where they actually closed the skin. But all this area of brain around here was hit ad blasted, if you will, a bit by the bullet.

We were able to get the blood collection off. Remove some of the damaged brain to get that bullet out of there and stop all the bleeding.

We had nothing to cover up the outside of your brain with. So we found the only sterile thing in that entire dusty desert camp tent, which was an I.V. bag. And I basically put the sterile part against your brain, and I sewed it all the way around here.

I didn't think you were going to survive that. I didn't think you were going to live through that.

JESUS VIDANA, MARINE: I mean, they told me I had two operations.

GUPTA (voice-over): Four years later, Jesus is no longer haunted by that gunfight but something worse.

VIDANA: I do consider myself lucky to be alive. You know? But I have felt like, you know, it would have been better had I not lived just because, you know, like, every day's a struggle with the depression. Depression just comes. You know? Unexpectedly. And with a fury.

GUPTA (on camera): What does that mean?

VIDANA: I just feel like I just need to get away from everything. I just want to crawl into some cave and just -- just shut myself off from the world, you know?

GUPTA (voice-over): Depression could be a consequence of his injury or the remnants of posttraumatic stress disorder. His doctors aren't sure.

What they do know: traumatic brain injuries, PTSD, are persistent, elusive injuries in this war. And many vets with those injuries feel the V.A. system is ill-equipped to handle them.

(on camera) Is there a premium at all placed on mental illness at the V.A.?

VIDANA: I don't know how much importance they place on it, to be honest.

GUPTA (voice-over): A new report by the American Psychological Association points to major shortcomings in the military mental health system, in caring for troops and their families.

Jesus is an exception. His mental health care is good, for now. It's the future that worries him.

At first, his benefits dropped: from full coverage, to none at all. For months, he fought to restore them. And now, they're back up to 70 percent.

He has another fear: complications from his depression and medications could require care later and that might not be covered.

(on camera) You're a guy who was shot in the head, in Iraq.

VIDANA: Yes.

GUPTA: I guess, you know -- part of me just as a citizen would say, whatever the cost, whatever -- whatever it takes, we're going to take care of this guy.

VIDANA: Yes.

GUPTA: I mean, he did everything for his country, including almost died. What does this country owe you?

VIDANA: I want to say just to be able to -- just like returning back, you know, just the respect and the dignity that, you know, people with disability, would like -- would like to receive. You know?

GUPTA: Are you not getting that?

VIDANA: I would say I am. But it's just like I said, just dealing with the bureaucracies, it's sometimes a little taxing.

GUPTA (voice-over): Jesus is lucky. He's in relatively good physical health. He fends off depression by attending a V.A.- sponsored support group for victims of traumatic brain injury. And he also takes an antidepressant. (on camera) Are you optimistic about this future?

VIDANA: I am, actually. I am optimistic.

GUPTA: His hope for that future: a relationship, maybe children, a return to a normal life. He's moving forward because Jesus knows what happened that night in Iraq can never be undone.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN, Los Angeles.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Just remarkable. Can you imagine being able to save somebody's life like Sanjay did? Just incredible.

We should mention that, according to the most recent customer satisfaction survey, conducted by the University of Michigan and the Treasury Department, the V.A.'s inpatient care system scored roughly 10 points better than private hospitals.

Its outpatient care system scored about eight points better than private institutions. And according to that same survey, 92 percent of veterans say they would use V.A. facilities again.

Up next, raw politics. John McCain's straight talk express, the 2008 version. Some are asking if the message has changed.

Also tonight, behind the 911 confession. The 9/11 confession, I should say. Terrorist resume. Khalid Shaikh Mohammad. What he thinks and how his tell-all may possibly help investigators track down other terrorists, when 360 continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: So, has maverick Senator John McCain gone mainstream? Just some of the raw material for our "Raw Politics" segment tonight.

CNN's senior political correspondent, Candy Crowley, is with McCain in Iowa -- Candy.

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Anderson.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CROWLEY (voice-over): After a couple of years swimming in the mainstream, can the maverick of 2000 turn into a candidate with some heaviness in 2008? John McCain thinks so. So, he hauled out the straight talk express and took off across Iowa in search of both.

MCCAIN: Still the same candidate I was. A little bit older. But still the same candidate. We're still having fun. Still on the bus. Still having the town hall meetings in the same way that we were before. And I'm convinced we're doing fine.

CROWLEY: The Arizona senator concedes some people no longer view him as a maverick. He says people tell him, "I want you to be like the last time."

"Well," McCain says, "last time, we lost."

Meanwhile, back in Washington, the head of the Democratic Party may have his cart before the horse. Howard Dean told a Washington political paper he's been meeting with foreign leaders.

Quote, "I am trying to build relationships with other governments in preparation for a Democratic takeover. I want to make clear that there is an opposition in America and that we are ready to take power. And that when we do, we are going to have much better relationships with them."

Along the trail, Barack Obama has promised he will not make anybody's marriage or marriages a campaign issue. Everybody, Obama said, has personal issues.

And Hillary Clinton is still cleaning up remarks that offended many in the gay community. Clinton initially refused to repudiate joint chiefs of staff chairman General Peter Pace. Pace said he believes homosexuality is immoral.

In a statement today, Clinton said, "I do not share his views, plain and simple" -- Anderson.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Candy, what did Senator McCain say about Pace's comments?

CROWLEY: Actually, we asked him today. And he said, "I don't answer questions like that." And went on to say what he does support is the don't ask, don't tell policy in the military.

COOPER: So he wouldn't say whether or not he thought homosexuality was immoral?

CROWLEY: No. Said he doesn't answer questions like that.

COOPER: Hmm. All right. Candy, thanks very much.

Coming up, "The Shot of the Day" and proof, finally, that a leopard can actually change its spots. First, Erica Hill from Headline News joins us with a "360 News and Business Bulletin" -- Erica.

ERICA HILL, HEADLINE NEWS ANCHOR: Anderson, a third report on the cause of the Sago mine disaster in West Virginia contradicts two earlier explanations of the accident. It says friction inside the mine shaft, not lightning, caused the methane gas explosion that killed 12 people just over a year ago.

The United Mine Workers also criticized what it said were bad decisions by the Mine Safety and Health Administration.

A college baseball coach has been released from the hospital following a bus accident that killed five of his players. James Grandey survived the crash with broken facial bones. The bus driver and his wife were also killed in that accident on Interstate 75 two weeks ago in Atlanta. The driver apparently mistook an exit lane for an HOV lane.

On Wall Street, stocks fighting their way back from a huge loss earlier this week. Today, the Dow gained 26 points to close at 12,159. The NASDAQ added nearly 7, while the S&P 500 rose 5.

And a government report on wholesale prices shows the prospect of inflation is lurking. Economists had forecast a 0.5 percent rise for February. But increases in energy and food costs pushed that Consumer Price Index up 1.3 percent, Anderson.

COOPER: I invest all my money in Gummi bears.

HILL: That's a wise move.

COOPER: Because when -- you know, when the bottom falls out, you still have something to eat.

HILL: Good point.

COOPER: That's my big investment philosophy.

HILL: Time for "The Shot" tonight, comes from deep in the heart of the rainforest of Borneo, where the clouded leopard makes its home. Look at that. Incredibly beautiful.

The secretive and rare predator doesn't know it is now officially an entirely separate species from leopards on the Southeast Asian mainland. Researchers say the big cat has been studied for 100 years, with only now, the genetic tests show that it is, in fact, a unique species.

It looks like -- the skin looks like a snake.

HILL: Yes, that's what I was saying. Like an iguana or a snake or something. It's wild.

COOPER: Very cool looking.

HILL: Not bad.

COOPER: Don't pet it, Erica.

HILL: No, I think I'll stay away. Yes. Admire from afar.

COOPER: We want you to give "The Shot" a shot. If you see some amazing video, tell us about it: CNN.com/360. We'll put some of your best clips on the air.

Up next tonight, new allegations about Bush, involves Karl Rove's role in the firing of eight U.S. attorneys. How much did he know, and when did he know it? Plus, it sounds like the confession of a cold-blooded serial killer. The so-called mastermind of the 9/11 attacks describes how he murdered "Wall Street Journal" reporter Daniel Pearl. A revealing look inside this guy's mind when 360 continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: He's been called Bush's brain, but is the man behind the president also behind the controversial firings of the U.S. attorneys? There are new e-mails some Democrats say prove he was in the thick of it.

First, new details about the confession of Khalid Shaikh Mohammad. He confessed to planning, training and financing 9/11, along with a string of other attacks.

And now, in graphic detail, he's taken responsibility for the 2002 murder of "Wall Street Journal" reporter Daniel Pearl, saying, and I quote, "I decapitated with my blessed right hand the head of the American Jew, Daniel Pearl, in the city of Karachi, Pakistan. For those who would like to confirm, there are pictures of me on the Internet holding his head."

His confession reads like that of a cold-blooded serial killer. Is that how he thinks?

CNN's Tom Foreman investigates.

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