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Interview With Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright; Senate Sets Deadline For U.S. Withdrawal From Iraq; Did Attorney General Gonzales Lie?

Aired March 29, 2007 - 22:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, everyone.
Another tornado outbreak is taking a deadly toll. More touched down tonight. More may tonight -- incredible video of the storms and destruction. That is just some of the pictures we have been getting today -- that story coming up.

But, first, the growing crisis between Iran and Britain over 15 British sailors and Marines -- tonight, new developments, new threats and new details of the U.S. Navy's mission to find them.


COOPER (voice-over): An Iranian gunship approaches one of two British patrol boats. Iran broadcast this video today, raising the stakes in a dangerous showdown.

It also showed maps and GPS coordinates, in an effort to prove the British sailors entered Iranian waters six times before they were seized last Friday. And a second letter that Iran says was written by Faye Turney, the only woman detained, was released today, addressed to the British House of Commons. Turney purportedly asked for an investigation of why the military was allowed to cross into Iranian waters.

It ends with this remark about Iraq -- quote -- "Isn't it time for us to start withdrawing our forces from Iraq," the letter asks, "and let them determine their own future?"

Iran had promised to free Turney this week, but then suspended that decision, blaming what it calls the wrong behavior of those who live in London.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair made it clear there can be no negotiations until the sailors are unconditionally released.

TONY BLAIR, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: It is absolutely clear that they were taken in Iraqi waters. They are in Iraqi waters with the United Nations mandate, with full United Nations permission. And the taking of them was wrong.

COOPER: He also spoke about Turney's video recording.

BLAIR: I just think it's completely wrong, I mean, a disgrace, actually, when people are used in that way. COOPER: Britain has already cut off bilateral business ties with Iran. Now it's asking for the U.N. Security Council to step in.

John Bolton, the former U.S. ambassador to the U.N., thinks there's only one way to deal with Iran.

JOHN BOLTON, FORMER UNITED STATES AMBASSADOR TO UNITED NATIONS: We have got to have an increase in pressure on the Iranians right now. I think they have used force, illegally, as best we can tell. If Iran can get away with this, it will simply embolden them.

COOPER: A senior military official tells CNN, British forces asked the U.S. Navy to help look for the patrol boats after they lost communication. The Navy was conducting military exercises in the Persian Gulf. They ended today. That source says a Navy boat and helicopter were used in the search, but never found the crew.


COOPER: Well, despite its growing isolation, Iran continues to take a hard-line approach to a deepening crisis. The question, of course, is, what is next?

Madeleine Albright was secretary of state under President Clinton. She's also the author of "The Mighty and the Almighty: Reflections on America, God, and World Affairs."

Secretary Albright joins me now.

It's good to see you.

What is your take on what happens now? Do we know?


I think it's a very worrisome situation, because it's very easy to escalate this. And we have two carrier groups in the Gulf that are involved in military exercises. I think it would be very important to try to get some third party in there, in order to look at the GPS evidence, so that the Iranians can understand that the British were not in their waters.

COOPER: Apparently, the first coordinates that the Iranians gave over were -- were in Iraqi waters. Then they gave new coordinates. I mean, do you think that there's any possibility that the Iranians are right?

ALBRIGHT: I would be very surprised, though I think that you do know that the waters in that particular area have been very much under dispute and were part of the core cause of the war between Iran and Iraq in the '80s. So, it is of great concern.

But I -- I would trust the British coordinates. But I think that it would be useful if some other country, perhaps the Russians, who now have better relations with Iran, could help to de-escalate this, because, Anderson, it's so easy to ratchet this up. And I'm very concerned about this getting out of control.

COOPER: How much of this do you think was an action taken by local Iranian Revolutionary Guard commanders, or -- I mean, how high up do you think the decision was made? Do you think the mullahs in Iran had a say in, all right, go ahead and -- and get these guys?

ALBRIGHT: I would be surprised about that.

What we're hearing more and more about Iran is that there are divisions, and that the ayatollahs are somewhat less bellicose than President Ahmadinejad and the -- this Revolutionary Guard.

What is possible that the Revolutionary Guard took this action, but then, of course, is now being backed up that the power -- by the powers that be, because, within that country, there then becomes a great nationalist spirit, in terms of defending itself against -- quote -- "Western intrusion."

So, I do think that it's important to try to figure out a way to de-escalate.

COOPER: Britain's prime minister, Tony Blair, spoke today about stepping up the pressure on Iran. You have said in the past pressure needs to be put on them.

How do you put on pressure and, yet, de-escalate at the same time?

ALBRIGHT: Well, I think that the sanctions that the U.N. voted last week are very important. They show a unanimity of agreement among the powers on the council. And that is pressure.

But, at the same time, I hope that there are a lot of diplomatic activities going on behind the scenes. As you pointed out, the British are now breaking off a variety of relations. The -- their foreign secretary was trying to talk to the Iranians. I think that she's gone back to the United Kingdom.

But I do think that there are others that should be able to help. I'm concerned, Anderson, about an accident in the Persian Gulf, with our forces in there and the Iranians, with kind of loose ships. We do not need another war at this point.

COOPER: I want to read to you -- just to get a different viewpoint in here, I want to read you what Michael Rubin, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, wrote, more conservative.

He said -- quote -- "That Iranian decision-makers took such a step is not the result of too little diplomacy, but, rather, too much. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's May 31, 2006, offer to engage Tehran resulted not in a suspension of uranium enrichment, but rather public gloating by Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei,about U.S. weakness. Nor did the British 'softly-softly' approach toward Tehran or its proxies in Basra bring peace in our time. Rather, it convinced the Revolutionary Guards that the British were targets of least resistance."

Do you buy that?

ALBRIGHT: Not at all. And it's exactly that kind of hyperbole that's gotten us into the mess that we're in, in Iraq.

I think it's very important for us to recognize that it is possible to deal with countries diplomatically without appeasing them. And I think that we should be very careful, in terms of all the saber- rattling. This is why we are in such a terrible situation, both in Iraq. And I'm very worried about Afghanistan.

COOPER: At the core, why do you think Iran has done this? Is it to pressure Britain in Iraq, to -- to break -- you know, to increase the -- the moves for British troops to get out of Iraq?

ALBRIGHT: I think it's hard to read all their motives.

Partly, what's going on here, Anderson, is that they feel very empowered by the war in Iraq. I mean, one of the major miscalculations of this war, and what makes it such a disaster, is that it has given increased power to Iran in the region, much more than it's had in decades. And they are, now, I must say, overreaching.

But I think they are very inexperienced in all of this. I think it is very important to de-escalate this. It's very easy to get into another war. And I don't think that's where the mood of the American people is at this time.

COOPER: Secretary Albright, we appreciate your time.

The book, again, is "The Mighty and the Almighty: Reflections on America, God, and World Affairs."

Thanks so much.

ALBRIGHT: Thank you, Anderson.

COOPER: Moving on now to the growing pressure on Attorney General Alberto Gonzales to step down over the firing of eight U.S. attorneys, allegedly for insufficient political loyalty -- we ought to mention that the attorney general is entitled to fire any U.S. attorney for just about any reason.

But, back on the 18th of January, he told the Senate Judiciary Committee he would never involve politics in the process. And, earlier this month, he denied even discussing the firings at all.

Today, though, in front of the same committee, his former top aide blew that denial to pieces.

Details from CNN's Dana Bash.


DANA BASH, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Under oath, the attorney general's former chief of staff disputed Alberto Gonzales' claim that he was not involved in discussions about firing federal prosecutors.

KYLE SAMPSON, FORMER CHIEF OF STAFF TO ATTORNEY GENERAL ALBERTO GONZALES: I don't think the attorney general's statement that he was not involved in any discussions about U.S. attorney removals is accurate. And...


SAMPSON: I don't think it's accurate.

BASH: In fact, Sampson told senators that conversations with the attorney general on the issue began two years ago, when Gonzales was still White House counsel.

SEN. CHARLES SCHUMER (D), NEW YORK: So, there were repeated discussions?

SAMPSON: Yes. And I think the attorney general clarified that a couple of days ago.

SCHUMER: Just want to get it clear.

So, were there at least five?

SAMPSON: I don't remember specifically, but it would -- I spoke with him every day, so I think at least five.

BASH: Sampson's account is at odds with this Gonzales statement two weeks ago.

ALBERTO GONZALES, ATTORNEY GENERAL: But that is, in essence, what I knew about the process, was not involved in seeing any memos, was not involved in any discussions about what was going on.

BASH: Gonzales has since acknowledged department records suggesting he did sign off on the dismissals.

But Sampson's testimony adds to what even loyal Republicans call a growing Gonzales credibility gap.

SEN. JEFF SESSIONS (R), ALABAMA: I don't think it was a small matter. And I think the attorney general -- I'm disappointed he didn't remember that in his statement.

BASH: The exchanges about Gonzales may have overshadowed Sampson's efforts to challenge the assumption that led Democrats to launch this investigation, that eight federal prosecutors were fired for being too tough on Republicans and too soft on Democrats in corruption probes.

SAMPSON: To my knowledge, there was no -- no U.S. attorney asked to resign for the purpose of influencing a particular case for a political reason.

investigation. That eight federal prosecutors were fired for being too tough on Republicans and too soft on Democrats in corruption probes.

To my knowledge, there was no U.S. attorney asked to resign for the purpose of influencing a particular case, for a political reason.


BASH: Now, Sampson said he gathered information and made recommendations about which federal prosecutors should be fired, but the final decision, Sampson said, were made by the attorney general himself and the White House counsel, suggesting that they had much greater roles than anyone had previously acknowledged, Anderson, and raising the political stakes even more for Alberto Gonzales and the Bush White House.

COOPER: So, what is the White House saying now?

BASH: Well, you know, they're saying that they haven't changed, that the president is still standing by his attorney general.

But look at this quote from the White House spokeswoman tonight, Dana Perino. She said, "The president is confident the attorney general can overcome these challenges.

That word, "challenges," with that -- looking at that, nobody in Washington thinks that the White House is, at this point, not trying to create at least a little bit of space between themselves and the attorney general.

And it really matches what I'm hearing even more, especially after today, from even the most loyal Bush Republicans on Capitol Hill, Anderson. They're simply fed up. They say that, at this point, the attorney general has a very high bar to get over in order to explain himself. They're not pushing him over just yet. But they're certainly not getting out there to support him, not even close.

COOPER: Interesting -- Washington.

Dana, thanks.

The story, of course, as Dana says, far from over. Here's the "Raw Data" on who else lawmakers want to talk to.

Presidential adviser Karl Rove tops the list, of course, along with former White House counsel Harriet Miers. The White House says they will only permit them to be interviewed behind closed doors, and with no transcripts of the proceedings, and, of course, nothing said under oath. Democrats say no way to those conditions.

Attorney General Gonzales, meantime, is scheduled to appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee on April 17.

The Gonzales hearings are not the only showdown with the White House.

Erica Hill is following another shot fired down Pennsylvania Avenue.

She has that in our "360 Bulletin" -- Erica.

ERICA HILL, HEADLINE NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, Senate Democrats ignored President Bush's veto threat and approved a war spending bill today that they hope will end combat operations in Iraq by this time next year.

The bill also orders the president to start withdrawing combat troops from Iraq within four months. We will have more on that bill coming up.

That vote comes on an especially bloody day in Iraq. Suicide bombers in Baghdad and a town in Diyala Province launched two deadly strikes in crowded Shiite marketplaces. At least 119 people were killed, dozens more wounded. Al Qaeda in Iraq is believed to be behind those attacks.

Some frightening moments for 157 people on board an Allegiant Air flight. The MD-80 was forced to make an emergency nose gear-up landing in Orlando. According to the FAA, the pilot declared an emergency when the crew had trouble extending the landing gear. The flight was kept in the air to burn off fuel. And, after circling the airport for about an hour, it landed with its nose gear up. No one was hurt -- Anderson.

COOPER: Certainly good news there.

HILL: Mm-hmm.

COOPER: Erica, thanks.

We're keeping a close eye on the weather tonight, with tornado watches in effect across parts of the country, and tornado damage already heavy on the ground. Take a look.


COOPER (voice-over): As close as you can get and still live to tell about it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey, Joel (ph), what do we got? Can we get closer to this thing?

COOPER: Stories of survival, loss and picking up the pieces, as tornado country braces for more.

Also: The death of Anna Nicole Smith's son, Daniel, was it an accident, suicide, or foul play? Why the search for answers just hit a roadblock -- when 360 continues.



COOPER: That tornado touched down near Oklahoma City just hours ago, critically injuring two people, leaving a path of destruction behind. It's been a terrifying 24 hours in Tornado Alley, the part of the country most vulnerable, of course, the deadly twisters.

We're talking about dozens of tornadoes sweeping through the region last night, killing at least four people. There was little time to flee. And some had no warning at all.

We get more on that now from CNN's Gary Tuchman.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have a massive stovepipe tornado on the ground.

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Storm chasers spotted the tornado in Beaver County, Oklahoma. It was 7:30 last night.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I would say it's probably right now 200 yards to 300 yards at the base. Again, we're seeing multiple vortex tornadoes. What that means is, it's multiple small tornadoes wrapped into one column of air.

TUCHMAN: A couple died there, when their home, like so many others, was blown apart. The massive twister was one of at least 65 that cut a path from the Rocky Mountains through the Plains yesterday.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How is it looking? Cool?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Cool. How's it looking?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's turning into a violent tornado, violent.

TUCHMAN: At 7:50 p.m., that violent tornado killed an oil worker near Amarillo, Texas. He tried to ride out the storm in his trailer. In some places, the tornado struck almost without warning.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We seen it coming, and we started trying to contact all the people down this road by telephone through the sheriff's office.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Then this red car was over... TUCHMAN: Just before 8:00 p.m., another twister hit Holly, Colorado, killing a young woman. At least nine others were badly hurt in the storm that officials say also killed dozens of cattle, downed power lines, and damaged countless homes.

There are reports sirens that should have warned residents of oncoming storms never went off.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We heard this loud noise. We thought it was a train. But then it started breaking windows and stuff. And then we came over here after a little while, and we heard some weird noise like: "Help. Help." And it was some kid -- a kid and a wife -- a kid and my friend's wife stuck in that tree. And we couldn't do much but call 911.

TUCHMAN: And today, those caught in the path of these deadly storms can only look at what they have spent a lifetime building and lost in a few terrible moments.

Gary Tuchman, CNN, New York.


COOPER: Well, as you just heard, the small town of Holly, Colorado, didn't see the danger coming yesterday, and took a major hit. It has a population of just about 1,000 people. And every loss is felt.

We sent CNN's Ed Lavandera to the scene.


ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is the south side of Holly, Colorado. And it's where the twister first touched down. City officials say the tornado carved a 600-foot-wide path through the town here.

(voice-over): Sheriff Deputy Phillip Silva was driving into the storm, when lightning lit up the tornado in the darkness.

(on camera): And describe what it looked like.

PHILLIP SILVA, PROWERS COUNTY, COLORADO, SHERIFF'S DEPUTY: One humongous funnel cloud. And, then, to me, coming down the road, it looked it was like a mile wide. I mean, it was that big.

LAVANDERA: He raced to save a woman, a little girl and the girl's father, who had been blown into a tree.

(on camera): Rosemary Rosales and her family were inside the home that once stood here. The tornado blew the house apart.

(voice-over): They were wedged into this tree. Hours later, when we get there, some relatives pulled Rosemary's picture from the limbs.

Russell Grogan was the first to find Rosales and her family.

RUSSELL GROGAN, TORNADO SURVIVOR: But I could hear somebody back over here saying: "Help. Help. I need some help."

LAVANDERA (on camera): So, you tried to -- you tried to climb up through here?

GROGAN: I got up in -- I got up in there. And she was -- she was sort of right in that V. right there. And then the daughter, the little girl, was on up higher up in there.

It was slick. And I just couldn't do it, you know? And -- and I didn't have the strength, you know? And I was scared and nervous and...

LAVANDERA (voice-over): Rosales died in the hospital a few hours later. Her daughter suffered a skull fracture, but will recover. Her father will also be OK.

(on camera): The residents here in Holly never received any warnings, no tornado warnings, no sirens. So, when a tornado came barrelling over these railroad tracks and into town, folks here thought it was just another train.

GROGAN: Here's where I was -- I was at. And the -- the glass shattered out of the patio over there.

LAVANDERA: So, where did you get to when -- when the glass shattered, where were you?

GROGAN: OK. I was -- so, I jumped up and headed for -- my basement is this way. I come around here.

LAVANDERA (voice-over): He got out of his chair and only had a matter of seconds to make it this far into the basement.

GROGAN: And -- and started down in my basement here.

LAVANDERA (on camera): When that happens, do you think, this is it?

GROGAN: This can't be it. This can't be right, you know? This isn't -- this isn't part of my life.


COOPER: Ed, how many homes there were damaged? And where are those people tonight?

LAVANDERA: Well, city officials here say that there were some 60 homes that were damaged, five of them completely blown off their foundations. And many of these people will be staying with family and friends. City officials say that there was no need to have a shelter here tonight -- Anderson.

COOPER: Ed, thanks very much. Up next tonight: Senate lawmakers passed a war spending bill that includes a deadline for U.S. troops to leave Iraq. We are going to look at what even the possibility of a pullout might do to the situation on the ground.

And later: the growing wait for answers in the death of Anna Nicole Smith's son, Daniel, why the wait just got a whole longer -- when 360 continues.


COOPER: The showdown over Iraq -- the Senate's vote to set a pullout deadline. What would a pullout look like? Would chaos follow? You have heard the debate. We will look for the facts -- next on 360.



JON STEWART, HOST, "THE DAILY SHOW": So, we can't set a deadline, but our commitment is not open-ended.

Basically, what he is saying is, we are definitely leaving Iraq some time between now and the end of time.



STEWART: Wait, wait, wait. Not the end of time. I don't want to give a date.



COOPER: Well, Jon Stewart can't do it, but Congress can.

The House passed it last week. And, as we mentioned, earlier today, Senate lawmakers joined in passing a war spending bill that includes a deadline, March 31, of next year. It was close, 51-47, with Republicans Gordon Smith and Chuck Hagel voting yes.

It is not a veto-proof majority, obviously. And President Bush promises to use the veto pen.

But it still raises serious questions about what a pullout would look like if and when the orders do come, and what it would mean to the mission and the war.

CNN's Tom Foreman takes a look.


TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Meeting a deadline for withdrawing from Iraq would be a monumental task. And the numbers tell the tale; 143,000 U.S. troops are there right now, soon to be 160,000. And they don't travel light.

The military has tens of thousands of airplanes, tanks, helicopters, Strykers, and other vehicles. There are on estimated 14,000 armored Humvees in Iraq alone.

(on camera): And all of these forces, all of this equipment are spread all over the country. True, there are concentrations, for the Army, in Baghdad, for the Marines, out in Anbar Province. But American troops, in some number, are still everywhere.

So, how would the military leave all this territory? Analysts say, in all likelihood, some of the troops would fly directly out of Baghdad's main airport. But most of them would come out the way they went in, traveling south to Kuwait, and then getting on to ships.

(voice-over): The American military, working with Iraqi troops, would establish heavily-guarded areas around the exit routes. But it would be perilous. Just as it happened in Vietnam, some military analysts say, even if withdrawal is desired, a publicly-acknowledged date would permit the enemy to dog the departure and stack up American casualties every step of the way.

MAJOR GENERAL DONALD SHEPPERD (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: I have seen this movie before. I can't think of anything dumber than announcing ahead of time to the enemy what you're going to do. It provides them with the opportunity to -- to basically control the situation.

LAVANDERA: It is not clear what will happen to the bases or the endless tons of equipment that will certainly be left behind, too worn out to be brought back.

Even with the deadline, however, the Pentagon suggests, leaving Iraq would not take not days, or weeks, but months.

Tom Foreman, CNN, Washington.


COOPER: Some perspective now on the repercussions of a pullout, or even the prospect of a pullout.

With us tonight, CNN military analyst retired Brigadier General James "Spider" Marks, along with Steven Simon of the Council on Foreign Relations, and, in Baghdad, CNN's Michael Ware.

Good of all of you to join us.

Steven, you believe the U.S. should withdraw forces by the end of '08, beginning of '09. You think the Democrats' timetable is to quick.

Critics say, as you heard in that piece, that a deadline gives our enemy a blueprint, a timeline to work off and plan for. Doesn't -- does that not matter?

STEVEN SIMON, SENIOR FELLOW FOR MIDDLE EASTERN STUDIES, COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS: Well, at some point, a deadline is going to be -- is going to be put forward.

And it only makes sense for the United States to plan towards a deadline, so that it approaches withdrawal in a systematic and orderly way and doesn't contribute to perceptions already reigning in the region that the U.S. has been defeated. You need to avoid the perception of a rout.

COOPER: General Marks, you're against any kind of a deadline. Why?

MARKS: Well, I don't think a time line does much good. Look, let's be frank with each other here. If we acknowledge that there's a time line for departure -- I spent my life as an intelligence officer and as a professional officer, trying to get into the shoes of the bad guy and try to look at us the way that we do business.

If I set a time line and I'm the bad guy, I go to ground. I start giving you all the indicators that things are really pretty calm. I reinforce the decision that it's time to pull out; things are looking good. And at the exact moment, I choose the time to engage, as we start -- as the United States starts to pull out of the theater. It's just a bad scenario.

COOPER: Michael, there are some who say that President Bush can use the very threat of a deadline to try to pressure Prime Minister al-Maliki and motivate the Iraqi government to get their act together, not to not depend on, you know, a definite U.S. presence. Could that work?

WARE: Well, that's one of the falsehoods, I think, of the deadline thinking, Anderson. I mean, Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki is already under enormous pressures from all sorts of areas. He knows he's already virtually on borrowed time, as it is.

Plus, he's also realistic enough to know that these deadlines aren't real, even if they are set. So, they really don't become a stick to beat him with anyway.

COOPER: General Marks, one of the key military strategies is clear and hold, try to get rid of the insurgents in a city, keep them out.

Critics say, look, you look at Tal Afar, in northern Iraq. That was clear in the past, to once again get rocked by violence. Why didn't it work there?

MARKS: We didn't hold. In Tal Afar, we didn't hold. It's clear, hold and build. And the build process requires preconditions of hold. You've got to have forces on the ground. They have to be there routinely setting the conditions.

That's why things like the conditions in Tal Afar went south. It's because of the numbers and it's the presence.

You try to establish -- and Michael's living this right now. He understands what a new normalcy can look like. He understands how things can get rocked very easily. You've got to establish a normalcy, where the normal family in Iraq feels like a certain element of security can exist and they can get about business on a daily basis. You don't do that, the bad guys pour back in.

COOPER: Steven, since the U.S. increased security in Baghdad, violence and casualties are down. I guess bombings around the capital are up. Is there real progress? Or are militias, you think, simply laying low?

SIMON: Well, violence in Diyala province has gone way up. And attacks against the United States troops there are still at an all- time high.

So, I really don't think, you know, we can judge anything about the long term from what is now going on in the very, very small areas within Baghdad, where the U.S. troop level has been significantly augmented. And the Shiite militias, to some extent, have gone to ground. At the same time, Sunni attacks are up.

So, look. Let's be frank. This increase in forces is not sustainable. The president himself has said so. And the situation in Tal Afar, which we have just been discussing.

It's a great example of what happens when, A, the United States can't sustain -- can't sustain he necessary troop levels. And, B, the Iraqi government will not go in and actually do the build phase that was referred to.

The Iraqi government did nothing. The United States could not convince it to expend any funds in Tal Afar to back up the work that brave U.S. soldiers had done there.

COOPER: So, in terms of solutions, Steven, you say set a deadline and just stick to that deadline, no matter what happens on the ground?

SIMON: Well, you know, you can never say no matter what happens. But you need to have a goal. You need to have a plan.

The -- the elections here in the United States, last November, indicated that, as far as the U.S. public was concerned, the kitchen was closed on Iraq. That the U.S. public wants the U.S. to be out of there.

So, it only makes sense to plan for an orderly withdrawal before it is forced by a complete collapse of public support for the war or sudden reverses on the ground.

COOPER: General Marks, he raises an interesting point, which is that the timetable that General Petraeus is talking about, and it makes sense in terms of letting this thing play out and really seeing whether or not it's working. But the timetable that he's been talking about from the get-go, is very different and is very much at odds with the political timetable that seems to be being bandied about by Republicans and Democrats in the United States. At some point, those timetables have to mesh.

MARKS: Well, you know, the timetables may not mesh. The U.S. election cycle, moving toward '08, and the cycle that Dave Petraeus and the great folks on the ground are trying to achieve in Iraq, and specifically right now focused on Baghdad, are not necessarily coincident.

And the issue is, with the bad guys in Iraq, and the way we have to try to channel our forces and make a difference there, wouldn't necessarily be affected. There isn't necessarily a causal link between what's happening there and preset desires on our Congress, at this point, or by our Congress.

And I tell you, at the very point that we need Congress to be quiet, they need to be quiet. And that's right now. We need to let this plan run its course.

Two of the five brigades have made it in. The remaining three won't get there until probably some time in June. And this is a sense of feel. It's very tough to measure it and have a scientific assessment. You've got to have a sense of feel on a counterinsurgency.

COOPER: Michael Ware, how does it feel on the ground?

WARE: Well, it feels like, here in Baghdad, as we've seen time and time again, and as we've already pointed out, that certainly the Shia militias are simply holding their breath.

With all these extra American troops, and, yes, more is coming, al Qaeda's suicide bombers are still getting through. The Shia militias, in terms of their infrastructure, remain intact.

The Shia militias and their Iranian backers that our western intelligence points to, still have this stranglehold on power, here under the democratic system that America set out.

So, fundamentally, the dynamics that are really driving this war aren't being addressed. That's why we're starting to see America cut deals. We're seeing Maliki cut a deal with Muqtada al-Sadr. And we're seeing America cutting deals with the Ba'athists out in the west, to take on the fight for al Qaeda, that America itself has said it can't win.

COOPER: And we're going to -- we're going to talk with Michael Ware a little bit more about that particular subject coming up.

And James "Spider" Marks, appreciate it.

Steve Simon, as well.

And Michael, we'll talk to you again. Thanks.

A bit later tonight, somebody called it a strange alliance. Michael was referring to it. A Sunni tribesman who used to try to kill Americans, now working with the Americans. It sounds good. But there's a deadly dark side, as well.


COOPER (voice-over): From insurgents to allies. They fight al Qaeda. But some say they've also become America's unaccountable assassins, given free reign to break any rule, as long as they get results. Michael Ware has an exclusive inside look.

Also, the death of Anna Nicole Smith's son, Daniel. Was it an accident, suicide, or foul play? Why the search for answers just hit a road block, when 360 continues.


COOPER: The search for answers into the death of Anna Nicole Smith's son just hit another roadblock. The 20-year-old died last September of a drug overdose. But now coroner's inquest in the Bahamas is trying to figure out if that was an accident, a suicide, or murder.

Today, we learned we shouldn't expect a decision any time soon.

CNN's Rusty Dornin reports from Nassau.


COOPER (voice-over): On and off again. That's been the story so far for the inquest into the death of Anna Nicole Smith's son, Daniel, who, like his mother, died of a drug overdose. Now, it's off, at least for another two weeks. Why?

The attorney for Howard K. Stern, Anna Nicole's lawyer and live- in companion, doesn't believe impartial jurors can be found without giving them a questionnaire.

The judge believed otherwise. He seated a jury of seven women, names he pulled randomly out of a box labeled "jury raffle."

ROGER GOMEZ, CHIEF MAGISTRATE: We asked the jurors. And we made them swear that they don't have any connection with him or anyone else connected with the case. And they have sworn that they will be impartial.

DORNIN: but hours later those jurors were excused until at least April 11, while the Bahamian Supreme Court considers whether it's constitutional to question jurors in an inquest.

Pro Pinder, one of the Bahamian attorneys representing four of the potential witnesses, claims it's a stalling tactic.

GODFREY "PRO" PINDER, BAHAMA ATTORNEY: Howard K. Stern is merely calling attention to himself. And he is really insulting the Bahamas when he says he cannot get a fair hearing.

DORNIN: But even the judge is amazed and even amused by just how much publicity this case generates.

GOMEZ: Never seen so much in all my life.

DORNIN (on camera): How about in the Bahamas?

GOMEZ: Definitely in the Bahamas.

DORNIN: This case may be on hold, but there are others involving Howard K. Stern moving along here in Nassau.

Monday, his attempt to appeal the DNA sample taken from Anna Nicole Smith's 6-month-old daughter, Dannielynn, will be heard. If he wins, the DNA results would be sealed indefinitely. If he loses, there will be a custody hearing on Tuesday.

But the big question, who's the daddy, still won't be answered.

Dr. Michael Barrett of Ohio, the DNA expert obtained by Virgie Arthur, Anna Nicole's mother, and by Larry Birkhead, one of the men claiming to be the father, can't come to the Bahamas that day. Arthur's attorney says he's the only one who can reveal the DNA results in a Bahamian court.

DEBBRA ROSE, VIRGIE ARTHUR'S ATTORNEY: If Dr. Barrett comes back now, depending on what the appeal says, he may have to get another expert on another test. Or another test at all. Who knows?

DORNIN (on camera): A story with so many plots and subplots. And it doesn't look like the mysteries surrounding the death of Anna Nicole's son or the paternity of her daughter will be unraveled anytime soon.

Rusty Dornin, CNN, Nassau, the Bahamas.


COOPER: I spoke with Court TV's Lisa Bloom about the inquest earlier tonight.


COOPER: It's so bizarre. After days of legal wrangling, the judge takes, you know, ten minutes to pick the name of seven women out of a cardboard box. Is that how it's normally done in the Bahamas?

LISA BLOOM, COURT TV: Yes, it is. They do things differently in the Bahamas. Maybe it's better in the Bahamas. Instead of having the attorneys ask questions or the judge ask questions of potential jurors, they say, "We're just going to take the first seven names."

And that's based on the English system. They find it actually offensive to intrude on potential jurors' lives and ask them personal questions. That's the way it's done in England. And the way it's done in commonwealth countries like the Bahamas.

COOPER: An inquest, normally, a pretty straightforward thing. This one seemed to stall immediately. Why?

BLOOM: Well, partly because there are a lot of attorneys for a lot of different parties. And the attorney for Howard K. Stern said, "You know what? This is a high-profile case. And we should treat it as such. And we shouldn't just take the first seven names like we usually do, because this isn't a usual case. We should ask the jurors questions about media coverage, whether they've been exposed to it, whether they have a bias."

But the judge did a quick, "Anybody here have a bias? If you do, raise your hand." Nobody did, and that was good enough for the judge.

COOPER: Some of the potential witnesses in this trial are -- or in this inquest, are not in the Bahamas. Are they subject to the jurisdiction? Do they have to show up?

BLOOM: They are not subject to the jurisdiction. And in the Bahamas, and under English law, there's no Fifth Amendment right against self incrimination. In other words, if you're called as a witness to testify, you have to answer the question.

So when you put those two factors together, the American doctor who supposedly prescribed drugs to Anna Nicole and maybe gave some of her medications to Daniel Smith, there's no reason why he would come. He can avoid the subpoena power of the Bahamian court. Because once he came down, he'd have to answer questions. And those answers could be used against him in an American investigation.

So I wouldn't expect anybody who might have something embarrassing to hide was going to be flying out to the Bahamas for this inquest.

COOPER: There's also a lot of people down there, Virgie Arthur, Larry Birkhead, who don't necessarily have an obvious role to play in the inquest. I guess Larry Birkhead could talk about possible drug use he witnessed long ago.

BLOOM: That's right. That's right.

COOPER: But Virgie Arthur -- will they all have a role in the inquest?

BLOOM: Virgie Arthur, I don't know what she would say that would be relevant. Because she was estranged from Anna Nicole and from Daniel during the last 10 years or so.

COOPER: Could the results of this inquest lead to civil suits, like in the O.J. case?

BLOOM: It could. It could. What happens at the end of the inquest is this jury could come back with a finding of murder, manslaughter or other. I mean, they have a huge discretion -- or, of course, nothing. No charges whatsoever. Criminal charges, though. But what everybody could be looking at in this case, like Daniel Smith's father, who by the way, has been there through an attorney, following this inquest -- and he, of course, was estranged from Daniel all of Daniel's life, too -- is there evidence for a wrongful death case?

Now Daniel's father would be the legal heir of Daniel. If Daniel was killed wrongfully and there's a lawsuit rising out of that, Daniel's father would be the one to bring that.

COOPER: So what is the timetable for this inquest now?

BLOOM: Now, it's been put off for a couple of weeks, because Howard K. Stern has asked the judge to let him file an appeal and ask that the jurors be questioned by way of a questionnaire. And the judge says, "All right. The Bahamas Supreme Court can make that determination."

So the whole thing is put off now for a couple more weeks, much -- much to the frustration of Virgie Arthur.

COOPER: And the paternity?

BLOOM: That's set for next week. And Howard K. Stern has also filed an appeal for that, with regard to the DNA. So his attorneys -- you could look at it from his point of view. They're fighting for all of his legal rights. Or from a more cynical point of view, they're just trying to slow everything down and keep the baby in his hands.

COOPER: Why? What's the value in that?

BLOOM: Well, because the longer he has the baby, even if it's not his baby, he can make the argument, "I've had this baby for six months, for eight months, for ten months, for a year. I'm the only parent that she's ever known. So, the baby should stay with me, even if I'm not the biological father."

And my understanding is the Bahamian courts might be receptive to that kind of argument.

COOPER: Fascinating. Lisa Bloom, thanks.

BLOOM: Thanks.


COOPER: Ahead on 360, new accusations, a broken promise and new lines in the sand. Britain and Iran face off over 15 British captives. The latest on the crisis, live from London.

Plus, the lighter side of politics: rapping Karl Rove. That's right. We've seen it all now.



COOPER: It's kind of going to leave you speechless. It's our "Shot", next on 360.





COOPER: Yes, there it is, "The Shot of the Day". Presidential adviser Karl Rove as you wish you'd never seen him before. First, Erica Hill from Headline News joins us with a 360 bulletin -- Erica.

ERICA HILL, HEADLINE NEWS ANCHOR: Anderson, an update on a story we followed last night. Two Washington state children that are the focus of an Amber Alert have been found safe. They were found near Denver. Their father was arrested. They were all traveling on a Greyhound bus from Salt Lake City to Denver.

In New Orleans, a new $1 billion plan is in the works to rebuild the city, which is, of course, still recovering from Hurricane Katrina. The focus will be on 17 parts of the city, from Canal Street to the Lower Ninth Ward.

Developers will be given loans and incentives to build in the areas. The director of the program says he hopes to see cranes in the sky by the fall.

On Wall Street, today, blue chips fighting back, after a government report eased investors' fears about an economic slowdown. The Dow gaining 48 points, the S&P added 5, the NASDAQ was up slightly.

And attention T.J. Maxx and Marshall's shoppers. The company that owns both those stores said nearly 46 million credit card numbers were stolen from its computers over an 18-month period.

Plus, 455,000 T.J. Maxx customers who returned merchandise without receipts had other data stolen, including driver's license numbers. It's believed someone hacked into the company's computer system.

The disclosures came in an SEC filing. Not exactly comforting news, Anderson.

COOPER: What a nightmare for those people.

HILL: I know.

COOPER: Thanks, Erica. All right, time for "The Shot" now. I'm sure you've seen this. Karl Rove, you know, he's been called President Bush's brain. Who knew he could rap? Well, I'm not even sure...

HILL: Are you saying he can?


BRAD SHERWOOD, COMEDIAN: You were such a help. Tell me, what is your name?


SHERWOOD: You can see him later hanging in the cove. Tell me, what is your name?

ROVE: M.C. Rove.

SHERWOOD: Doing it right. And he really strolls. One more time, what's your name?

ROVE: M.C. Rove.


HILL: Whoa.


HILL: M.C. Rove hitting puberty in that one, huh?

COOPER: Yes. That was last night, at the Radio and Television Correspondents' Dinner. Showing off his moves there. Keeping it real. Keeping it very street.

HILL: His street credit is, like, through the roof.

COOPER: Yes. You ever gone to that dinner?

HILL: No, I'm not cool enough to be invited.

COOPER: I find it annoying. I went once. And I've got to tell you, it's just -- it's -- I don't get it.

HILL: That was enough?

COOPER: I don't think all these people should be, like, hanging out, putting on little skits. It's like -- and playing with each other. Like why should the press...

HILL: They're nice for a night and then it's back to the...

COOPER: Why should the press be hanging out with the president and Karl Rove and, like, you know, schmoozing behind the scenes? I don't get it.

HILL: Why would Karl Rove be trying to steal Kevin Federline's moves? I don't get that. COOPER: Yes. Both valid questions. And frankly, if you want to see someone dance -- you know, we at CNN should show these people how to do it. There you go.

HILL: There you go.

COOPER: There's the 360 crew, celebrating.

HILL: Now, those are some moves. I believe that was from one of your birthday celebrations one year, was it not?

COOPER: No, it was -- I can't remember what we were celebrating.

HILL: There's always something to celebrate at CNN. Isn't there?

COOPER: That's right.

HILL: Happy March 29. I think that's the date today, right?

COOPER: I don't know. Is that something -- is there -- is that a particular date?

HILL: No. We celebrate things at CNN. So let's celebrate March 29. You know what? It's one of the writers on my show's staff's birthday. So happy John Anger (ph) day.

COOPER: Really interesting. All right. Got to go.

HILL: Later.

COOPER: Bye-bye.

We want you to send us your "Shot" ideas. If you see some amazing video, tell us about it. We'll put some of your best clips on the air.

Up next, how some insurgents in Iraq are becoming American allies. We'll go to Michael Ware in Baghdad for an exclusive report.

Plus, 65 tornadoes tear paths of destruction through four states. It's not over yet. Our coverage continues in the next hour of 360.


COOPER: As we've reported, Senate Democrats today passed a war spending bill that calls on President Bush to start withdrawing troops from Iraq within four months. Until that happens, military men and women will continue to mark milestones, like birthdays, away from their homes and families.

One company is helping our armed forces celebrate overseas. Erica Hill has more in tonight's "On the Rise".

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) HILL (voice-over): Even though her husband, Matt, was serving in Iraq, thousands of miles from home, Kim Balli wanted him to have a cake on his birthday. She searched high and low. Then, found And on his 36th birthday last March, Matt received a chocolate cake in Iraq.

KIM BALLI, WIFE: His exact words -- that's the best gosh darn birthday cake I've ever had.

MATT BALLI, BACK FROM IRAQ: Anytime you receive anything, when you're that far away from your family and friends, it's like Christmas morning.

HILL: Kim's idea inspired Operation Birthday Cake.

JOSH KAYE, FOUNDER, BAKEMEAWISH.COM: Our goal is to provide every single soldier with a gift cake on their birthday.

HILL: Josh Kay started three years ago. The company uses a bakery on Long Island in New York, but the business is online and has found a recipe for success.

KAYE: We did over $2 million in revenue last year. And this year, we'll do over $4 million.

HILL: Operation Birthday Cake is one of the ways Kaye is giving back. So far, he sent about a dozen cakes overseas. Each mission costs $75.

KAYE: We are limited to what we can do because we're only one company. This is a nonprofit part of our business. We're looking to make our soldiers feel appreciated and valued.


COOPER: Encounters with a tornado. Some lived to tell about it. Some weren't so lucky. We'll have the latest from Tornado Alley, where tonight storm watches are up again. That's coming up in this hour.

But first, the showdown with Iran. American warships patrolling the Persian Gulf. Fifteen British soldiers and royal marines in captivity. The pressure growing on Tehran but also on Britain's prime minister, Tony Blair.

Today, Iran took the crisis to another level. Now, is it Prime Minister Blair's turn, but what will he do? Senior international correspondent Nic Robertson is live in London.


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