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Fighting in Lebanon; Immigration Battle; Financing al Qaeda; Are Troops Protected?; Richardson's Running; Did He Do It?

Aired May 21, 2007 - 23:00   ET


NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): For a second day gunfire around this Palestinian refugee camp in Northern Lebanon.
Smoke rises as the Lebanese army aimed shells at fighters of Fatah al-Islam, a hard-lined Muslim group based inside the camp that aims to radicalize the Palestinian cause and models itself after al Qaeda.

Running gun, rocket and tank battles, erupted on Sunday in nearby Tripoli, Lebanon's second largest city. As the Lebanese army moved in to arrest Fatah al-Islam gunmen for allegedly robbing a bank, they were quickly overwhelmed by the militants firing from rooftops and windows.

PAUL SALEM, CARNEGIE MIDDLE EAST CENTER: They clearly have been preparing for this battle or showdown for a long time, so they're very well armed and they've taken up positions that they thought of previously.

ROBERTSON: The man behind the shadowy group posed with gunmen at a press conference earlier this year. He is 51-year-old Shaker al- Absi, a Palestinian sentenced to death in Jordan for killing U.S. Diplomat Laurence Foley almost five years ago.

Absi claims he planned that killing with Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the now dead leader of al Qaeda in Iraq.

Released from Syrian jail last year, after serving three years hard labor for terrorism, he slipped into this Palestinian camp in Lebanon, rallying an estimated 150 to 200 fighters to his cause, killing Israelis and Americans, many of them Arabs suspected of having fought in Iraq.

So far, close to 50 people have been killed in the battle, including 30 Lebanese soldiers, more than 15 alleged al Qaeda gunmen, and several civilians. No one knows exactly how many. Concerns are growing for the more than 30,000 Palestinians who live in the camp. A deal to get food and water to the most needy fell through by day's end.

RICHARD COOK, U.N. RELIEF & WORKS AGENCY: These camps are very, very densely populated, some of the most densely populated areas in the world. And, as a result of this, any such conflict can only mean that civilians, that innocent people are being hurt.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Nic, does the Lebanese government control what happens in these camps at all?

ROBERTSON: They don't, Anderson. They can't go into the camps. This is an agreement with Arab nations that's been in place for decades now. The Palestinians live in the camps. The Lebanese can control who comes in and who leaves the camps and when and how and the places that they can do it at.

But the Lebanese government cannot go into these camps. They don't know what goes on in some of the back alleyways inside there -- Anderson.

COOPER: How much concern is there in Beirut, where you are, that this thing could spread? I mean, there was a car bomb last night in Beirut.

ROBERTSON: It's got people worried. I mean, they see the violence. They see it as an echo of what happened during the civil war. I don't think people at the moment think that it could go exactly back to the civil war. This feels different, but it worries them when they first see it. 50,000 people -- a lot of very educated people, business people, professional people left the country during the violence last summer, not to come back.

It's having the same sort of impact on people's thoughts at the moment, Anderson. They see the violence. They see the potential for it to spread. The potential for those factual lines to come back and it worries them.

COOPER: Nic, thanks.

CNN's Brent Sadler joins me now. He's our Beirut bureau chief. He's here in New York.

Also in Washington, Fawaz Gerges, professor of Middle Eastern studies at Sarah Lawrence College.

Brent, let me ask you the same question. How real is the possibility that this could spread, that this could destabilize the government of Lebanon?

BRENT SADLER, CNN BEIRUT BUREAU CHIEF: Well, you've got two areas of conflict at the moment, Anderson. You have the gun battles, artillery barrages against this group, Fatah al-Islam inside that refugee camp.

On the other hand, you also have now two explosions in Beirut. One in the eastern sector, one in the Muslim sector. People in Lebanese, they don't talk too much about the old east and west Christian and Muslim sides of Beirut. But that's what it's bringing back again. And that's what worries people, the specter of return to civil war.

Yes, the conditions inside these camps are bad. They're shocking. I've been there for the last 30 years and seen them deteriorate year by year.

Yes, in Lebanon they are breeding grounds for terrorists who have been able to get hold of weapons and connect with other like-minded terrorists in the region.

But essentially, we can't forget that this is an attempt by the Lebanese government to try to push through an international court to stop murder incorporated. That's a system where assassinations of top political leaders, including presidents and Rafik Hariri, the prime minister two years ago who was murdered in a massive car bomb to try to stop this through the international court which is now being deliberated at the United Nations.

This is the very essence of the survival of the U.S.-backed Lebanese government that we're seeing unfold right now.

COOPER: Fawaz, where does Syria play into all of what's happening right now?

FAWAZ GERGES, SARAH LAWRENCE COLLEGE: Well, Syria is very pivotal to what's happening in Lebanon or what has happening in Lebanon since 1975. It was a major occupying power until the last two years.

And the Lebanese government points fingers at Syria for sponsoring and arming Fatah al-Islam, even though the Syrian government today, distanced itself from Fatah al-Islam and called them terrorists and militants.

But Anderson, one point must be made very clear here tonight. Even though the crisis is very serious, even the battle is very fierce. I am much more concerned about the internal crisis that is between the Lebanese government on the one hand and the opposition led by Hezbollah on the other hand. The situation is highly polarized. The situation is very fragile. You have presidential election coming up in September. We might have a constitutional vacuum in the country and this is what I'm afraid, let's not exaggerate the fierce battle, the internal crisis in Lebanon and the crisis between the Lebanese government and Syria basically exacerbate an already fragile situation.

ANDERSON: Well let's talk about that crisis because I think a lot of Americans, the last time they paid attention to what was going on in Lebanon was last summer, during the war of Hezbollah against Israel. Everyone was talking about Hezbollah disarming. That hasn't happened.

SADLER: No, it hasn't. And the resolution at the United Nations to disarm Hezbollah, to disarm Palestinians inside these camps, that simply hasn't happened.

And the political fault lines internally that we're just talking about there, are also very much aligned with outside powers. We can't look at this just in the context of a battle for Lebanon itself. It's also a battle for stability in the Middle East. It cannot be distanced from what's going on in Iraq, what's going on between the Israelis and Palestine. And it is outside powers -- Iran, Syria, the United States, European countries, Saudi Arabia, and others who all have hands in what's going on in Lebanon.

And when in the past there's been so much external influence on rival groups within Lebanon, that's where this conflict has simply blown up and back in the civil war, why the civil war was sustained for so long, and that essentially what the Lebanese worry about, that they're being dragged by external powers and different rivalries, different loyalties, into a new round of even wider fighting than we're seeing now -- Anderson.

COOPER: So, Fawaz, briefly, how does democracy survive in Lebanon?

GERGES: Well, as you know, Anderson, democracy has always been fragile in Lebanon. The Lebanese political system is based on communal or confessional (ph) consensus. And what has happened in the last few years, this particular consensus has basically collapsed as a result of the assassination of the late Prime Minister al-Hariri, the exit of Syrian troops of Lebanon, and you have really two major fault lines.

On the one hand, the Lebanese political groups are deeply divided over the future direction of the country. On the other hand, you have an intense internal or intense regional struggle on the one hand between the Iranian/Syrian alliance and the American-led alliance.

And unfortunately, the two fault lines, the internal struggle and the regional and the global struggle as well converge. And this is why in fact the very future of the Lebanese fate is at stake.

But let's not exaggerate the fierce battle that's taking place in northern Lebanon. Because I think the biggest struggles, that is the internal crisis within Lebanon and the regional and the global struggle, those are the two most important pivotal fault lines really pushing Lebanon to the brink of a crisis.

COOPER: We'll leave it there for tonight.

Fawaz Gerges, appreciate your time.

Brent Sadler, thank you very much as well.

Here at home, no gunshots, but the battle on the border is heating back up. Last week's immigration reform compromise is now under attack from just about all sides. We're talking about nearly 400 pages of legislation that lawmakers had hoped to debate for a day or two, then pass within a week or two. Well, in a word or two, maybe not.

Here CNN's Dana Bash.


DANA BASH, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice over): It began with a plea from the Senate majority leader. SEN. HARRY REID (D), MAJORITY LEADER: If we put rhetoric aside, we have the opportunity to pass a law that treats people fairly and strengthens our economy.

BASH: Yet, in the next breath, the Senate's top Democrats started ticking off flaws in the bipartisan immigration plan. Things he wants changed. Like a temporary worker program that allows 400,000 workers or more into the U.S. per year. Harry Reid wants that cut in half.

REID: We must not create a law that guarantees a permanent underclass. People who are here to work in low-wage, low-skill jobs.

BASH: It was a telltale sign of the wrenching debate ahead. Both liberals and conservatives have long lists of complaints about what's in the nearly 400-page immigration bill.

SEN. JIM BUNNING (R), KENTUCKY: No matter what you call it, x, Y, or Z visas, this bill will grant amnesty to millions of illegal immigrants all over this country.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I want to share a few things about how a bill should become law.

BASH: Leading Republican critic Jeff Sessions displayed a poster evoking the cartoon "School House Rock."

He scolded negotiators for using backroom wheeling and dealing, not open committee hearings to hatch the plan.

Already, Republicans who helped craft the immigration proposal are under fire back home.

Addressing his state party's convention over the weekend, Georgia's Saxby Chambliss talked up the immigration plan and got booed by fellow Republicans.

SEN. SAXBY CHAMBLISS (R), GEORGIA: We've got to face the fact that we've got to create a meaningful, truly temporary worker program for those segments of our economy that need temporary workers.

BASH (on camera): Senate leaders have now agreed to devote two full weeks of debate to immigration. That could change the fate of this bill because Senators won't vote until they return from Memorial Day break. That's one week back home hearing firsthand from constituents about this highly emotional issue.

Dana Bash, CNN, Capitol Hill.


COOPER: Security and law enforcement play a major part, of course, in the immigration reform bill. Here's the raw data on that.

Under the proposal, 14,000 more border agents would be hired; 370 miles of fencing would be added; 70 ground-based radar and camera sensors installed; and four unmanned aerial drones would patrol the southern border.

By the way, the salary for an entry level border agent runs between $35,000 and $45,000 and they're having trouble filling those slots.

Erica Hill joins us now with a 360 bulletin -- Erica.

ERICA HILL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, a search continues for three missing soldiers in Iraq. Today's search focusing on a nine- mile radius in the Triangle of Death where the troops were ambushed more than a week ago. Four U.S. soldiers and one Iraqi soldier were killed in that attack.

The FDA has issued a safety alert for Avandia. It's one of the top-selling diabetes drugs. The agency says data from clinical trials shows those who use the drug may be at greater risk for a heart attack or other heart-related problems. The agency is urging patients taking Avandia to talk to their doctors. The drug maker, Glaxo Smith Klein says it stands behind the safety of Avandia and that the research is based on, in its words, incomplete evidence and methodology.

And in Rio Vista, California, the rescue of two wayward whales unfortunately has stalled tonight. A mother whale and her calf had been swimming back and forth under a bridge after making 20 miles of their 90-mile trek back to the ocean. They swam up Sacramento River last week, Anderson. And of course, large effort going on now to get them back down into San Francisco Bay and out to the ocean.

COOPER: Let's hope they make it.

HILL: Yes.

COOPER: Erica, thanks.

Up next, inside the hunt for Osama bin Laden and his followers and a new development. It's not exactly good for America.


COOPER (voice-over): A troubling discovery -- the war in Iraq is boosting al Qaeda's cash flow. We're tracking the dollars. Wait until you see where the money is going.

Plus, the Phil Spector trial. His chauffeur goes back on the stand after this testimony.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What did he say?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He said "I think I killed somebody."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Was he directing this comment to you?


COOPER: Was it a confession? The defense fires back, when 360 continues. (END VIDEO CLIP)


COOPER (on camera): Five years after the 9/11 attacks, Osama bin Laden remains, of course, the most wanted man in the world.

Before the break, we looked at al Qaeda's influence in Lebanon. As it spread, the search for bin Laden had intensified.

According to the "Los Angeles Times," the CIA launched a major effort last year to hunt down bin Laden, sending dozens of agents to Afghanistan and Pakistan. Now, they haven't found bin Laden. They've hardly found a trace of him, but they have uncovered a disturbing trend. Money from Iraq is now flowing to al Qaeda's command base in Pakistan.

CNN Terrorism Analyst Peter Bergen recently talked to a former CIA officer who saw firsthand the spread of al Qaeda's influence. Take a look.


PETER BERGEN, CNN TERRORISM ANALYST (voice-over): In Afghanistan, suicide attacks, like the one the Taliban claims targeted Vice President Dick Cheney, were once all but unthinkable.

ART KELLER, FORMER CIA OFFICER: They didn't believe in suicide, they believed that was a sin against Islam. And now there are waves and waves of suicide bombers being dispatched.

BERGEN: He knows firsthand. Art Keller is a former CIA officer who was most recently based on the Afghan/Pakistan border.

2001 was the start. A single suicide attack in Afghanistan. Before that, none. The number crept up gradually until 2005, when there were 27 attacks. Finally, last year, the number of suicide attacks in Afghanistan jumped more than 400 percent to 139.

KELLER: A very strong culture of prohibition has been eroded. And that's the influence of al Qaeda and the so-called Afghan Arabs.

BERGEN: Keller has seen this and he's seen the growing use of IEDs and other weapons used in Iraq. And he's made a connection that worries him.

KELLER: Well, Iraq is really a training ground. Tactics from Iraq have migrated, especially the employment of IEDs and suicide bombers.

BERGEN (on camera): Certain irony?

KELLER: Yes. It is. It seems like the reverse of the way the war on terror was supposed to work.

BERGEN (voice-over): We met Keller where he lives, in New Mexico. It's a landscape similar to Waziristan, the wild and lawless tribal region of western Pakistan on the Afghan border.

Keller spent time there last year chasing al Qaeda. His job was to gather intelligence about the terrorists from his post on a Pakistani army base.

KELLER: Probably the movie image that people have of spies running around with guns couldn't be further from the truth. You're more like a spider sitting in a web, waiting for people to get caught.

BERGEN: Waziristan is believed to be a kind of enemy sanctuary for hundreds of foreign terrorists. Also including Osama bin Laden himself, and his deputy Ayman al-Zawahiri.

At the same time, he says, CIA resources were increasingly directed to the war in Iraq.

(on camera): You didn't really feel there were enough Americans on the job?

KELLER: No, no. I know for a fact that the people there were incredibly shorthanded and that's why it was such a challenging situation.

BERGEN: I mean, we're spending hundreds of billions of dollars every year on our national security. We can't send enough people to look for al Qaeda in Pakistan.

KELLER: Yes. I mean, all I can report is the ground truth that I saw.

BERGEN: So where did the resources go?

KELLER: Well, I think a great deal of the resources have gone to Iraq. So it's -- I don't think it's -- it's appreciated that the CIA is not really a very large organization in terms of field personnel. So, we do not have an infinite amount. And if you do a couple larger deployments, that uses up a lot of people because we also have the rest of the world that we have to keep an eye on.

BERGEN: So the Iraq war shortchanged the fight against al Qaeda?

KELLER: I definitely think it put a dent in it.

We have not stopped the fight, but it certainly, from a resource issue, stretched people incredibly thin.

BERGEN (voice-over): The CIA declined to comment on operational matters to CNN. However, they did say they're going all out in the hunt for al Qaeda's leaders.

But the Taliban have flourished in the years that they were thrown out of power in Afghanistan. They now rule quite openly in Waziristan, either corrupting or killing traditional tribal leaders.

They even administer their own harsh justice. Keller obtained Taliban-produced videos sold openly in local markets. They serve as a brutal and graphic warning to those who might resist the Taliban.

KELLER: Those are obviously bodies displayed in a public area as an object lesson.

BERGEN: Three men, tortured, executed. Their bodies paraded through a dusty town before a large public gathering.

Another video speaks of the peril facing the Pakistani army in the tribal regions. It's a Taliban raid planned and executed with precision, targeting a Pakistani army outpost.

Attacks like these led to truce agreements in 2005 and 2006. The Pakistani government promised it would scale back military operations if tribal leaders would give up Taliban and al Qaeda fighters.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I do not think that the deal that we signed with them has helped the extremists and the terrorists, not at all.

KELLER: I believe the Pakistani government kept up their end of the deal, but on the other end, it hasn't been very successful.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: On a daily basis, about 200,000 people cross the Pakistan/Afghan border. And it becomes very difficult to discern who is a fighter, who is just going to meet family. There would be -- I would agree, there would be some people crossing the Pakistan/Afghan border and probably Taliban and maybe al Qaeda. But what you need to realize, that 90 percent of the problem is in Afghanistan.

BERGEN (on camera): The bottom line is these peace deals are -- seemed to have empowered al Qaeda or empowered the Taliban?

KELLER: I would say, it's given them a free hand. I mean it was successful in one measure in that attacks against the Pakistani military went down dramatically after the signing of the peace deal. But the question is, at what cost?

BERGEN: Well, I think we know that the cost is pretty high for U.S. and NATO troops on the other side, right?

KELLER: Yes. To use a medical analogy, it's like quitting a course of antibiotics too soon. You just leave a reservoir of infection even stronger to come back after you.

BERGEN (voice-over): The Taliban in their black turbines, gun- toting Mullahs in camouflage. (UNINTELLIGIBLE) jihadis training, launching deadly attacks.

Graphic evidence that al Qaeda and their allies and the Taliban have largely survived the West's furious assaults, and that what didn't kill them has only made them stronger.


COOPER: Joining us now with more on al Qaeda, CNN's Terrorism Analyst Peter Bergen.

Peter, what do you make of this "L.A. Times" report that al Qaeda's command base is now being funded from money coming out of Iraq? Where does al Qaeda in Iraq get all of the money from?

BERGEN (on camera): Well, from a combination of things -- kidnappings -- I mean, we're hearing about kidnappings, which are netting $20 million for particular kinds of high-value targets. Certain European countries willing to pay high ransoms. Also, of course, oil smuggling -- 0.01 percent of the entire oil revenues of Iraq would still be a lot of money. And common criminal activity.

So, it turns out that al Qaeda in Iraq is rather well-funded because of its criminal activities.

We saw in 2005, you may remember, Anderson, that Ayman al- Zawahiri wrote Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, at that time the leader of al Qaeda in Iraq, basically saying, hey, can you send us $100,000.

It's not clear if Zarqawi ever sent the money to al Qaeda central, but clearly al Qaeda central on the Afghan-Pakistan border, feeling the squeeze financially and looking to the place where it seems to be that there is money.

COOPER: And is it known how the money gets from Iraq to an al Qaeda base in areas in Pakistan or Afghanistan?

BERGEN: I've got to assume the only way it could go, to go there is via courier.

We have seen senior leadership from al Qaeda actually traveling to Iraq. We know that because one of them got killed there. A guy who escaped from Bagram Air Force Base in Afghanistan, then traveled to Iraq, got killed there in 2006.

Recently, the Pentagon announced that it had a senior al Qaeda leader in custody in Guantanamo, who was on his way to Iraq.

So clearly, there are people going from the Afghan/Pakistan border to Iraq. When -- we've also got to presume that some of them are able to come back.

COOPER: There's also this perception of bin Laden as this multimillionaire who's self-financed. Why does al Qaeda leadership need outside money?

BERGEN: Well, I think bin Laden was quite important financially at the beginning of this. But one thing is that this kind of warfare doesn't require a lot of money.

The attack in London which killed 56 people that you reported on, Anderson, in July of 2005 -- you know, the British government assumed that that cost like 1,000 pounds, or $2,000. So, it doesn't require a great deal of money to finance these kinds of things, to finance terrorism. Obviously, there are some day-to-day operating costs of any insurgency. And that's what the money's for. But I mean, also, I think probably as important as the money coming from Iraq or surely the money that's coming from Afghanistan, where the Taliban is deriving significant money from kidnappings, significant money from drugs, and of course the al Qaeda and Taliban are to some degree embedded with each other.

COOPER: The other large amount of money that's going to Pakistan that's coming from the United States. The "New York Times" reporting that America is paying the Pakistan government $1 billion a year for counterterrorism efforts even though, as you well know, Pakistan has cut back on patrols in the very areas where al Qaeda and the Taliban are most active. Are we getting our money's worth?

BERGEN: Well, and in fact the total bill is something like $10 billion when you include all the aid that's been given since 9/11.

Well, I think the money is being definitely worth it on many levels, but the Times does raise an interesting question, which is, if they're cutting back on their attempts to go after the Taliban and al Qaeda in the tribal areas, why are we spending -- giving them exactly the same amount of money for military activities that we have done in the last several years?

And as you know, since the peace agreements were signed in the tribal areas September 2005, in particular the Pakistani army, has pulled back and is doing less of what it was doing before.

COOPER: Peter Bergen, appreciate it. Thanks, Peter.

BERGEN: Thank you.

COOPER: Well, fighting al Qaeda, or anyone else, requires the right hardware, but tonight some are questioning whether American troops are getting what they need. We'll put body army and the Army's own claims to the test, in just a moment.

Plus, Senator John McCain throws some fighting words against another Republican running for president. Something about a varmint gun and Guatemalans on the lawn. Hear for yourself, ahead on 360.


COOPER: Well tonight, there's a new and fiery debate raging over the body armor used by U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. Recently, an "NBC News" report suggested that the type of standard issue armor that the Army gives to soldiers might not be the safest army. NBC said a different kind of armor performed better in testing.

Well today, the Army fired back, releasing its own test results. And CNN's Jamie McIntyre has details.


JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Army officials are irate about an "NBC News" report claiming that in an independent side by side test, Dragon Skin brand body armor outperformed the Army's standard issue Interceptor Vests.

BRIG. GEN. MARK BROWN, U.S. ARMY: And we have a specific firing pattern protocol that we go through.

MCINTYRE: The Army argues the vests are substandard and at an unusually extensive Pentagon briefing, released a video showing a bullet...

BROWN: There's the shot.

MCINTYRE: ... ripping through the Dragon Skin vest, while the CEO of the maker, Pinnacle, looked on.

BROWN: Zero failures is the correct answer. One failure is sudden death and you lose the game.

MCINTYRE: The Army says it happened more than a dozen times.

BROWN: This is a 7.62 x 63 APM2 round. At the end of the day this one disk of a Pinnacle SOB3000 vest has to stop this round. It didn't 13 times.

MCINTYRE: Reached by CNN, Murray Neil, the owner of Pinnacle, had a simple response. The Army, he says, is lying. The Dragon Skin vests features small disks that overlap like fish scales while providing flexibility.

The Army says the design also leaves weak spots where there is no overlap. And that in extreme temperature, such as the intense heat of Baghdad summers, the vests break down.

(on camera): This Dragon Skin vest was subjected to temperatures between 25 degrees below zero and 120 above. And as a result, some of the armor plates came apart and some gathered in the bottom part of the vest. As a result, when they fired bullets in the back, two of them went right through.

(voice-over): One of outside experts consulted by NBC, former Pentagon Chief Weapons Tester Phil Coyle also told CNN the Dragon Skin design did seem to perform better in the limited NBC test.

But the Army says, its Interceptor armor is lighter, more durable and 100 percent effective at stopping most bullets. The best in the world bar none.

BROWN: If there's something better out there, we're going to buy it. After we have live fire tested it.

MCINTYRE: The Army says it only reluctantly blasted Pinnacle in such a public way because it was worried that families would be misled by the claims.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We considered and took to our senior leadership -- and if I could use a term -- sir, let's take the gloves off on this. MCINTYRE: The debate already has some members of Congress hinting an investigation may be needed to settle the question of whose armor is better.

Jamie McIntyre, CNN, the Pentagon.


COOPER: We will watch.

Up next, the battle for the White House. A candidate makes it official he's in the race. Plus, the kind of political firestorm that only an ex-president can start.


COOPER (voice-over): The White House versus former President Jimmy Carter. He said the Bush administration was the worst in history. Now, he's saying this:

JIMMY CARTER, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: My remarks were maybe careless or misinterpreted.

COOPER: Did Mr. Carter go too far?

Plus, the Phil Spector trial. His chauffeur goes back on the stand after this testimony:

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What did he say?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He said "I think I killed somebody."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Was he directing his comment to you?


COOPER: Was it a confession? The defense fires back, when 360 continues.


COOPER (on camera): Bill Richardson has dealt with Saddam Hussein and North Korea, but his toughest battles may just be starting.

It's no one's surprise. New Mexico's governor announced he is running for president. And while his resume is impressive, some wonder if this world traveling Democrat has the reach and the war chest to win.

CNN's Candy Crowley reports on the latest contender.


CANCY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): With A smile on his face, Bill Richardson officially launched his campaign with a sting.

GOV. BILL RICHARDSON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Whether it will be willful ignorance or an ignorant will, we are left with the ravages of an administration that will take years to rectify.

CROWLEY: The governor of New Mexico made his announcement in California, home to more voters than any other state, and an exploding population of politically active Hispanics.

Trilingual, he is the son of a Mexican mother and an American father. Richardson was largely raised in Mexico, but born in California.

RICHARDSON: I didn't spend much time here. In fact, it was about eight hours because I went right back. But now there's California primary, so I'm trying to improve on those roots.

CROWLEY: It is classic Richardson, a loosey-goosey campaigner who describes himself as an imperfect guy, a normal person. He thinks voters will relate.

But do not mistake him for ordinary. He has what is arguably, perhaps indisputably the best resume in the race.

Congressman for 14 years, ambassador to the U.N., secretary of energy, governor of New Mexico, re-elected with 69 percent of the vote, and diplomatic troubleshooter in North Korea, Sudan, Iraq, helping negotiate the release of hostages.

RICHARDSON: I've actually done some of these things that everybody talks about. I've engaged in cease-fires with bad guys. I've released American prisoners, American servicemen.

CROWLEY: He is an energizer bunny type, known more for pragmatism than vision. His announcement speech was largely devoid of flourishes and heavy on problem-solving.

RICHARDSON: We have to recognize that no fence ever built has stopped history. And a border fence won't either. If you build a 10- foot fence, someone will use an 11-foot ladder.

CROWLEY: Richardson thinks his credentials make him right for the times, for this war and the world it has created.

RICHARDSON: The key is diplomacy. The key is bringing people together. The key is not doing things alone as we have before.

CROWLEY: He runs a shoestring campaign and struggles for the limelight in a race with marquee names. The latest poll shows he is at 10 percent in Iowa, up from 5 percent.

RICHARDSON: Keep an eye on me and keep your powder dry. I'm going to be around a lot.

CROWLEY: Bill Richardson believes that time and resume are on his side. (END VIDEOTAPE)


COOPER: CNN's Senior Political Correspondent Candy Crowley joins me now, along with CNN's Chief National Correspondent John King and Former Presidential Adviser David Gergen.

Candy, Governor Richardson clearly using those Hispanic roots to court voters in California. His immigration stance, though, certainly it's a lightning rod issue. He talked in your piece about, you know, if you build a 10-foot wall someone will come along with an 11-foot ladder. Is that a message the rest of the country can get on board with?

CROWLEY: Now if you're a Republican, but remember right now that Bill Richardson, like all the Democrats, are playing to the Democratic Party base.

Ted Kennedy, obviously has signed on to this bill. And it's not that liberals don't have some problems with the bill, as Bill Richardson does.

So this is a very good base issue for Bill Richardson. I suspect that once you move more into a general election, should he make it that far -- and that's a big if -- you'll see some tinkering around the margins.

But right now, this is a great issue if you're a Democrat.

COOPER: Last week Jimmy Carter was quoted in the "Arkansas Democrat-Gazette" as saying the Bush administration was the worst in history. This morning Carter appears to backtrack on that a little bit. Let's listen to -- to his remarks.

JIMMY CARTER, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: My remarks were maybe careless or misinterpreted, but I wasn't comparing the overall administration and I was certainly not talking personally about any president.

COOPER: He basically, David Gergen, is saying now he was comparing the current President Bush to President Nixon in terms of who was worse. It's not exactly what he said, though, in the original quote. What's going on here?

DAVID GERGEN, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL ADVISOR: Well, you know, he departed from diplomatic etiquette in the first time around and now he got back onto it today on "The Today Show."

But I'll bet you this, Anderson, I'll bet you -- I'll bet you a peanut farm down in Georgia that what he believes in his heart is what he said the first time, that he thinks that George W. Bush is the worst president in history.

That's what a lot of Democrats believe privately. He said it publicly. COOPER: John King, the White House fired back pretty hard on Sunday, calling Carter increasingly irrelevant. I mean, A, did the vehemence of their reaction surprise you? And do Carter's comments have an impact?

JOHN KING, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, this is a White House that is known to kick back hard when it believes it is being kicked politically.

Does former President Carter's remarks have any great political impact? The president is already at historic lows in the polls. President Carter is regarded as a moral figure now by the American people, not so much as a great political figure. So I think politically, his remarks would have less impact, say, as if they came from former President Clinton.

But certainly, it's a kick to this president when he's already down on foreign policy. And I think, Anderson, it does raise the big question, what will Bill Clinton be like, say, if his wife is the nominee of the Democratic Party? He has obeyed the rule. If you're in that exclusive club, you're not supposed to criticize the sitting president of the United States.

But how does Bill Clinton not do that if she is the nominee next year and much of the Democratic campaign is not only against the Republican nominee, but against eight years of George W. Bush?

COOPER: But Candy, in the race to be the Republican nominee, there's this new Iowa poll out. Mitt Romney is far ahead, pulling in 38 percent of the likely Republican voters in the Iowa caucus. John McCain has 18 percent. Rudy Giuliani, 17 percent.

I know -- I mean, we are months and months away from this. A, how significant is this? And how much of a surprise is it? How powerful is Romney's organization in Iowa?

CROWLEY: Well, getting better, obviously. He's been working the state. What does it -- what does it mean? It means that Romney can now say, not only can I raise money, but I can move voters. And if you can move voters, you can get more money. I mean, that's essentially what it means at this point.

As we say all the time, this is a snapshot. There will be a different snapshot next month, much less in January. But it is a nice place for Romney to be, because he can move off of this toward more money and more voters.

COOPER: It also means, David Gergen, that you've become a target. John McCain, on a conference call today with conservative bloggers, launched a pretty sharp attack on Mitt Romney, discussing his -- Romney's stance on immigration. I want to just play that for our viewers.

MCCAIN: You know, maybe I should wait a couple of weeks and see if it changes. Maybe his solution will be to get out his small varmint gun and drive off those Guatemalans off his lawn. COOPER: Is it early for McCain to be taking on Romney?

GERGEN: I think it is. You know, he took him on in the debate the other night, and we were all a little surprised. And I don't know why John McCain wants to go down that route. He's got so many more important things to say.

You know, and in the background of this, of course, is the -- is this whole exchange he had privately in the Senate with another Republican Senator, in which he apparently -- he is alleged to have lost his temper. And a lot of people are chattering about that.

So I would think that John McCain's best interest is to get back up on, you know, above the line and to be in a very positive, straight talking place.

But I -- to go to Candy's point, you know, Mitt Romney is showing some strength now that we had not seen a month ago, in Iowa. And in South Carolina this weekend, we saw, as Lindsey Graham get booed, that the Mitt Romney position on immigration may well help him in South Carolina, too.

COOPER: John -- John King, talking about Governor Charlie Crist down in Florida, signed a bill today moving Florida's presidential primary up to January 29. How does that change things? Who -- does it benefit anyone in particular?

KING: Well, it benefits those with the most money. Because the more primaries and caucuses that move up earlier, the more primary it puts on money, if you will, if you're one of the candidates.

But it also, Anderson, increases the likelihood that the first contest of 2008 could actually be in 2007. South Carolina will move up now that Florida has moved up. That will put pressure on New Hampshire to slide up a week or so. And Iowa will have to go either very early in January or possibly in the middle of December 2007.

It will take a couple of weeks still, maybe a couple of months to figure all this out. But it is quite extraordinary, this leapfrogging and frontloading, packing the calendar. It puts a premium on organization, and it certainly puts a premium on money.

And you were just talking about Mitt Romney. He is the one candidate on the Republican side who can cut himself a big check. When you have Florida, New York, California, Illinois, those big states that it takes a lot of money to get on TV. It helps the people with money.

GERGEN: To add to that, Anderson, you know, Florida's the one state where Mitt Romney really does have an inside track, too, because he has hired a lot of the Jeb Bush people down there. And they're a backbone of his organization. He's been doing -- his relationship with Jeb Bush is strong.

COOPER: CNN's Senior Political Correspondent Candy Crowley, CNN's Chief National Correspondent John King, and Former Presidential Adviser David Gergen, thank you.

GERGEN: Thank you.


COOPER: She's accused of holding two children captive -- one of them for years. Today, Michael Devlin answered to a judge. We'll have that story in a moment.

Plus, murder allegations, dramatic testimony and those crazy hairstyles. The latest twists and turns in the Phil Spector trial, when 360 continues.


COOPER: Well, the man with the shock of blond hair, of course, is Phil Spector, music legend turned murder defendant.

Prosecutors in Los Angeles say he killed an actress in his mansion.

Their star witness is Spector's chauffeur, who said he saw Spector come out of his home with a begun saying, "I think I killed somebody." His name is Adriano De Souza.

Today, the defense team tried to punch holes in his testimony.

"Court TV" Anchor Lisa Bloom is covering the case. I spoke to her earlier.


COOPER: The defense really tried to attack the credibility of the Brazilian chauffeur, Adriano De Souza. Let's listen to some of what happened on the stand.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Wasn't that the truth that you were telling them?

ADRIANO DE SOUZA, WITNESS: Yes, I'm trying to do my best.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And I'm not saying you aren't. But the fact of the matter is, because of your English, because of the event, you weren't exactly sure what was said. And that's what you told them, right?


COOPER: He's talking about what he told investigators right after this happened. Were they able to kind of discredit him based on his command of English?

LISA BLOOM, "COURT TV" ANCHOR: A little bit. They got two approaches. Number one, English is his second language. Now remember, he's the only one who is going to come into this trial and say Phil Spector confessed to me. He says Spector came out at 5:00 a.m., gun in hand, blood on the hand and said, "I think I killed somebody." Those are the magic five words.

The defense got him to admit he told the police that same day that Spector said to him, "I think I shot somebody." Shot, killed -- slight variation. Probably not a significant variation.

COOPER: But what they hammered at -- and I think it's a reasonable question. Why would he say, oh, this is what he said one day and then change what he said the next?

BLOOM: Right. Well, on redirect, the prosecution got him to say that the police started using the words "I think I shot someone," and he started agreeing with that.

What he had said all along was that Spector said, "I think I killed someone."

Now, English is his second language. He seems to understand the questions pretty well. He seems to speak fluently on the stand. He's had four more years of living in an English-speaking country since 2003 when this all happened.


COOPER: Right. That was the question, was his English four years ago as good as it is now?

BLOOM: Right. And he says he studied it in school in Brazil. He was fluent in English all along. And that's going to be for the jury to decide.

COOPER: They also were pointing out that, you know, he was sleepy that day. He'd been taking naps all during the evening.


BLOOM: Yes. Siesta, Bruce Cutler (ph) said derisively, oh, you'd been taken a siesta. You had snacks and water. Snacks and water, as if that undercuts somebody's memory. You know, it's not alcohol. It was water...


COOPER: So you don't think...


BLOOM: In the car.


COOPER: I mean, all in all, you think he held up OK?

BLOOM: Well, also the fountain was going. So there was a little bit of background noise. It was certainly a dramatic moment, so he was fearful. He admitted that. Almost in a panic mode. Would that affect his memory? I mean, those are all things the defense is trying to chip way at.

COOPER: The prosecution is going to have one more chance to talk to him on the stand?

BLOOM: Yes. They just started at the end of today. They will continue tomorrow on redirect to try to bolster his testimony.

COOPER: OK. What happens next? I mean, who else is coming down the pike in this thing?

BLOOM: Well, we have all of the following witnesses for the prosecution, certainly all of the medical witnesses, the scientific witnesses -- because the defense, remember, is going to be all about the science that Phil Spector could not have been standing close enough to pull the trigger in Lana Clarkson's mouth. The blood spatter, the gunshot residue that you would expect to see on somebody standing that close is just not there on him. That's the defense in this case.

The prosecution is going to have their own experts to say otherwise.

COOPER: Which is essentially the argument that Phil Spector was making in that bizarre videotape which he...

BLOOM: That's right.

COOPER: ... videotaped himself. He said she was, you know, in heels, 6'2". There's no way. I'm 5'5", or whatever...


BLOOM: Right...


COOPER: There's no way I could have (UNINTELLIGIBLE) and shot her in the head.

BLOOM: Yes. He's about 5'5". Of course, as she was sitting down, so he probably could have.

But -- but you're right. I mean, the science is going to be a pivotal issue in this case because there are a number of very well- qualified, respected defense experts. Dr. Michael Baden, Dr. Henry Lee. Very well respected people are going to say the blood spatter just isn't there on his arm, on his sleeve, that you expect to see because remember, the gun was in her mouth when the trigger was pulled. So he would have to be that close to her to be the shooter.

COOPER: Lisa Bloom, thanks.


COOPER: Now just ahead tonight, a massive fire ripping apart a popular tourist attraction.

Erica Hill joins us again with the details, when 360 continues.


COOPER: Erica Hill joins us with a 360 bulletin -- Erica.

HILL: Anderson, a not guilty plea today for Michael Devlin to charges that he sexually abused and tried to kill a boy he allegedly held captive for four years.

Devlin, you may recall, was arrested in January and is accused of kidnapping 13-year-old Ben Ownby and 15-year-old Shawn Hornbeck who had been missing since 2002.

Devlin heard those charges today from a jail cell. has agreed to release information on sex offenders who use the social networking site. Attorneys general from eight states had demanded the information last week. Myspace resisted at first, citing privacy laws, but today said it has no tolerance for offenders and even announced new technology designed to help track them.

In London, some history up in flames. Today a fire ripped through the Cutty Sark, the ship thought to be the world's only surviving tea clipper -- or was the only surviving tea clipper. Forty firefighters were called to put it out. The cause of that blaze is still under investigation.

And across the country, gas prices now the highest ever. According to the Lundberg Survey, the average price of gasoline rose more than 11 cents in just the past two weeks. It is now at $3.18 a gallon. Now that surpasses the record set in 1981, which if you adjust for inflation was $3.15.

But if there is any good news here -- and we really got to try to find you some, the Lundberg Survey say they believe gas prices seem to be peaking -- Anderson.


HILL: How much...

COOPER: How do they know though that, I'm not sure.

HILL: I don't know, but you know, maybe they're just trying to make us feel better.

COOPER: That's right. It's not so bad.

HILL: Really. It could be so much worse. COOPER: Thanks.

Don't miss the day's headlines with the 360 daily podcast. Hey, you don't even need an iPod. You can watch it on your computer at or go to the iTunes store, where it's the top download there.

More of 360 after this.



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