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Unprecedented Protests in Egypt Expected

Aired February 10, 2011 - 22:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, everyone, 5:00 a.m. in Cairo Friday morning, a new day, but an old dictator still clings to power.

The Mubarak regime would have you believe that he's transferred nearly almost all his power to his vice president. Now, that may be true, but as these protesters in Liberation Square will tell you, his vice president is cut from the same hard stone as Mubarak. And Mubarak himself refuses to step down.

At this hour, a dictator and his regime have made clear they do not intend to give up real power. And what has also been made clear is that the peaceful protesters are not willing to give up the small square of freedom they have bought with their blood, the small square of freedom that too many have already died for and others still may -- 5:00 a.m. in Cairo, and the battle lines are clear.

Peaceful protesters are still in Liberation Square. Others are standing outside the state television building. Others are at the presidential palace, though their numbers now are small. Hundreds of thousands came to Liberation Square hours ago believing they were going to witness a dictator resign.

The army hinted this morning it would happen. President Obama talked as if it already had happened. Then came the speech, Mubarak handing over power to his vice president and longtime henchman, but not stepping down, instead digging in, claiming credit for resisting foreign pressure, claiming his regime was trying to end chaos help the country's economy, even though he is the one who shut down the banks and shut down the Internet and shut down the trains.

The man who has tried to manufacture a crisis so he could be hailed as a hero continues to lie to his own people. In Liberation Square, those people erupted in anger that their president seemed to dismiss them as children. The insults continued a short time later when Vice President Suleiman when on television telling protesters to go home, blaming not the corruption and brutality of his regime for the protests, but satellite news stations, agitators and others.

There was rage, but there was not violence, no, not yet. It is 5:00 a.m. Friday, a day off in the Arab world. In the next few hours, we could see the biggest protests yet. Late tonight, the White House weighed in, issuing a statement from President Obama, a direct rebuttal to the lies being spread by Mubarak and Suleiman. "Too many Egyptians," the president said, "remain unconvinced that the government is serious about a genuine transition to democracy. The Egyptian government must put forward a credible, and unequivocal concrete path toward genuine democracy, and they have not yet seized that opportunity."

We're following all the developments in this two-hour edition of 360. Joining us first from Cairo, CNN's Ben Wedeman and Ivan Watson, also protester and actor Khalid Abdalla. Also, you might know him from his lead role in the movie "The Kite Runner." And in Washington, Professor Fouad Ajami of the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies.

Ben, just past 5:00 a.m. right now. What is the latest? Where are the protesters now?

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the protesters, of course, Anderson are still in Tahrir Square, some of them sleeping in their tents under blankets. There are some protesters in front of state TV, not a large number, and, of course, state TV, as you know, is ringed by army tanks.

Some of the protesters, at this point not a large number, are near the presidential palace, but they can't get too close to that either because of the large number of tanks, armored personnel carriers, and also the presidential guard that is guarding the president.

So, they have spread out a bit, but, by and large, the kind of onslaught against the state TV that we were expecting didn't happen. People bracing basically for the coming hours, possibly after midday prayers. The square behind me could be filled with people. And we're expecting demonstrations, not just here in Cairo, but in all major Egyptian cities -- Anderson.

COOPER: Fouad, as you watched the day unfold, your thoughts?

FOUAD AJAMI, PROFESSOR OF MIDDLE EASTERN STUDIES, JOHNS HOPKINS SCHOOL OF ADVANCED INTERNATIONAL STUDIES: I have to tell you, Anderson, are not mine, but they are borrowed from a good friend of mine, one of our country's finest essays.

Leon Wieseltier just sent me a note, and I thought I would share it with you and our audience for its remarkable insight. These are not my words again. It's Leon Wieseltier.

Mubarak is a truly dangerous and stupid man, and the people in the square seem even more golden. And it's hard for me to shake the feeling that a deadly confrontation is in the works. The angels of the Arab world and the demons of the Arab world are locked into combat. So the angels and the demonstrations are locked into combat. In that square are the people who want freedom. Against them, arrayed them are the forces of this despot who could have given his country the one gift after 30 years, the one gift of a graceful exit, and of an acceptance that his regime has collapsed. He couldn't do this, and he wouldn't do this. And I think the next period is, for me, full of foreboding, and, of course, for the Egyptians who are there, full of peril.

COOPER: Was it a grand just misreading of the situation that Mubarak and Suleiman came out and made the announcement today, or can they simply not imagine giving up power?

AJAMI: Well, you know, I think it was very interesting.

I think even -- look at the White House. It has all at its disposal, this incredible network of information. And they expected Mubarak to step down. Not on the same level of any importance, I sat down and penned a kind of an end, a farewell to the man called the last pharaoh, that Egypt is about to know the world of freedom and be rid of this man.

He, of course, disappointed one and all. And I think he did it intentionally. There was a provocative intent in what Mubarak has done. He raised the expectations and then he dashed them. I remain worried that he's preparing for a showdown and he's preparing for a bloodbath. It's really hard to escape that conclusion.

COOPER: Ivan, many observers hours ago were saying that they expected the protesters to erupt in violence, to be upset. I think consistently we have seen people, outside observes, miss or underestimate the intelligence and the foresight of these protesters who have defied expectations virtually every single day.

They have remained calm and peaceful, Ivan.

IVAN WATSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, I talked to one of the organizers at the initial protests yesterday. And he said one of the founding philosophies of this movement was passive resistance and peaceful protest. And we're seeing that tonight.

Yes, there were outbursts of anger right after Hosni Mubarak's speech, and some people vowed to march towards the palace. But right now, what we're seeing is a massive sleep-in here in Tahrir Square. I see hundreds of men in one stretch of sidewalk that have all pulled out blankets. And they're all piled up next to each other like sardines.

There are many people who have never spent the night here before who simply decided after the speech to bed down under little more than a flimsy blanket. This is families, this is men, this is women right on the sidewalks, right on the streets. We already had a tent city here, but it has grown dramatically with the number of people here.

And another fascinating change, that even before Mubarak spoke, I saw men bringing in plywood and boards, and they started building shower stalls and latrines. They are digging in. They evidently did not expect, some of these people, for Mubarak to step down, and they're just planning to stay here and make this enclave of revolution much more permanent.

COOPER: Right.

Khalid, you have been among the protesters. You are one of the protesters. Did you expect Mubarak to step down? What was your reaction during the speech and what do you anticipate in the hours ahead?

KHALID ABDALLA, ACTOR/ACTIVIST: Yes, like everyone else, I was full of the same anticipation.

I was flying with delight the idea of him going. And of course there was a massive sense of disappointment when his speech came. I was standing at the time next to a man whose brother had died last week, and he just started screaming about his brother and had to be calmed down -- this took quite a long time -- by the people around me.

There was a hell of a lot of anger, and you could -- you did begin to feel the potential of violence in the air. And, I mean, Mubarak's speech I think was a massive provocation. It was a massive provocation, not least because -- because there is the potential for a bloodbath, or at least that's what it felt like, especially since a lot of people decided that they wanted to go to the presidential palace.

It's like, he's asking us to step it up. And we remain a peaceful protests. And there's this question hanging over us, well, hanging over a lot of people here, is, you know, he seems to be completely deaf to the overwhelming will of his people.

And, as you say, I think tomorrow is going to be absolutely huge. Today was already avalanching. I mean, it was extraordinary. I went on a little -- I went on the march which started outside the (INAUDIBLE) union. And it started with 500 people. And then, suddenly, we found three or four other marches by other unions. And we were walking around the streets, and there was rain and thunder.

And, despite that, from 500, we had suddenly become thousands. And I expect that to happen tomorrow. I expect this extraordinary -- extraordinarily will of these people to keep fighting until they get -- until they get what they want.

And, I mean, the other thing to say, really, is, as well, there was Mubarak's speech, but there was Omar Suleiman's speech as well, which was paltry. It was a few minutes long, and if that was his sort of graceful acceptance of taking over the presidency, it was absolutely pathetic. This is a man that apparently wants to lead us for the next six months toward democratic elections. It's a joke. It's just -- it's offensive.

COOPER: Khalid Abdalla, thank you for joining us.

Everyone, stay where you are.

Former National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley is going to join us after the break, when we turn to what happened today at the White House as well, and how Washington and seemingly the rest of the world was led to believe we would be watching Mubarak depart today. That certainly didn't happen.

Also, throughout this next two hours, we continue, as we have every night, revealing the lies of the Mubarak regime. We have heard continued lies today from Vice President Suleiman, continued lies from Mubarak, painting these demonstrators as outside agitators, as agents of Israel or Hamas or Hezbollah or some combination thereof, blaming satellite news channels for everything that is going on. We reveal the lies.

Also, the proof of torture and beatings that continue by Egyptian authorities, still happening -- we are going to talk to one reporter caught up in Hosni Mubarak's campaign of terror, rounded up, blindfolded, held while fellow prisoners were tortured, electrocuted with shocks. He heard it with his own ears. He's not afraid to speak. Fear has been defeated. There is no turning back.

Egypt's story continues when we come back.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I didn't care if I lose something, because I already don't have anything. But, nowadays, I care about Egypt, and, nowadays, I love Egypt.


COOPER: People in the square saying that man saying later on he's ready to die for freedom.

And someone else quoted, saying, give me liberty or give me death.

Coming up on sunrise in Cairo, Egyptians getting ready for perhaps the biggest day of protests yet. After Mubarak defied expectations, said he's not leaving office, to say it took Washington by surprise would be probably understating it, an official telling us late tonight that there were -- quote -- "some very real indications that Mubarak would step down," so much so, earlier this afternoon, President Obama was already hinting at a post-Mubarak Egypt.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We are following today's events in Egypt very closely. And we'll have more to say as this plays out. But what is absolutely clear is that we are witnessing history unfold. It's a moment of transformation that's taking place because the people of Egypt are calling for change.


COOPER: Well, it didn't happen, the same official telling us -- quote -- "It's entirely impossible to get into the head of one man who seems to be making all the decisions. People like Hosni Mubarak," the official said, "are capable of changing their minds." As we mentioned at the top, the White House is not pleased. The question is, were they played?

Joining us now, Stephen Hadley, national security adviser from 2005 through 2009. Currently, he's a senior adviser for international affairs at the United States Institute of Peace.

Was this a major miscalculation, you think, by the Mubarak regime?

STEPHEN HADLEY, FORMER U.S. NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: I think that's the kindest thing you can say about it. Whether it was a setup, if you will, or a provocation, we don't know. I think the best you can say...

COOPER: Do you think it's possible it was, a provocation?

HADLEY: I really don't know, and we won't know.

But I think the core thing is that it's a real misreading of the situation. This is a speech in terms of substance that, if it had been given 10 days ago, it might have been well-received. But to give it now and then to permit expectations to get raised to the level they were was a huge mistake.

Something like this, you want low expectations. You want to exceed those expectations and that gets you ahead of the crisis. They did just the reverse, and it put them behind the crisis. And it also narrowed dramatically the options that are available now to the Mubarak administration going forward.

COOPER: They also, the vice president, Suleiman, President Mubarak, continue to propagate these lies which they have been spreading for more than two weeks now, saying that these are outside agitators, that these are agents of Israel or Hamas or Hezbollah, that they're being paid, that it's foreign media, it's satellite news channels.

And it was interesting, because Vice President Suleiman had talked in previous days about these protesters and the media belittling Egypt. And, today, President Obama in his most recent statement went against that directly, saying that these protesters represent the greatness of the Egyptian people and that they broadly are representative of the Egyptian people.

Do you think -- it seems to me that the people in that square and an increasing number of people who haven't been going to the square are seeing now the lies that they have been told, not just in the last few weeks, but for many years.

HADLEY: I think that's right. Anyone who has watched the performance of these heroes in the square, and we can only admire their courage as they fight for their freedom, knows that it is not Hezbollah. This is not Hamas.

This is an upwelling of the Egyptian people. I think it was positive that President Mubarak said the things he said in the speech. Again, it's about 10 days too late. And, unfortunately, there was also a certain amount of -- sort of a patronizing tone and also a defiant tone. And I think the tone he needed to strike was something very different, viewing the -- with admiration what these people are doing.

And the narrative needed to be not Mubarak refuses to step down. The narrative needed to be, Mubarak is actually stepping down from power, giving over his authority to a vice president who would then lead a movement for national reconciliation in preparation for elections. That was the -- that's what needed to come out of that speech today. And, in fact, just the opposite came out and it was a huge setback.

COOPER: Obviously, it's going to be critical, the role of the Egyptian military in the hours and days ahead.

Do we have an indication of where they are in this thing? Because I know they are still probably the most credible organization left in Egypt, although they have stood by and watched violence erupt and allowed pro-Mubarak protesters to attack anti-Mubarak protesters. But, by and large, they are still viewed with respect by the protesters.

HADLEY: They have played this actually very shrewdly.

The initial reaction and response to the crowd was not by the army, but the central security forces that led the crackdown, the crackdown that was not successful. Then the army came in, basically to, as they began to say protect the protesters and protect the people. Their statement today was interesting, that they were going to safeguard the nation, but they were also supporting the legitimate aspirations of the people.

They have played this very smart, in a very smart way today. I think they probably have some foreboding about tomorrow, because I think the last thing the army wants to do would be to have to crack down on the protesters and forfeit all the goodwill that they have accumulated from those people in the square.

COOPER: Mr. Hadley, stay with us. We are going to be coming back with you throughout this program.

And as I said, we are on until the midnight hour here, until 7:00 a.m. Cairo time.

I want to bring back Fouad Ajami now bring in John King, Jill Dougherty and Arwa Damon, who is in Cairo.

John, it's staggering to me. You have President Mubarak making that defiant speech, then the Egyptian ambassador to the U.S. calling in to CNN to say that actually Vice President Suleiman is the de facto president. It's remarkable you can have a dictator of a country and his vice president both make speeches, and still people not really understand what they are saying. JOHN KING, HOST, "JOHN KING, USA": Well, and, Anderson, that is a key point, because, as Steve Hadley just noted, if you look at everything the president said, President Mubarak I'm speaking of, and if you look at the documents sent to the Egyptian parliament, U.S. officials tell you there is some sign of progress in taking power away from President Mubarak, handing it off to the vice president and being in a process.

However, at the White House, what they're tonight is because that speech was so vague and because it was so defiant, President Mubarak's tone was so defiant, that nobody on the streets of Cairo trusts him tonight, and I can tell you this, no one at the White House or the State Department trusts him tonight.

So what they want him to do is go back on television, to be much more clear, to say, I am stepping aside.

And here's one thing in the president's statement that's very important tonight. Number one, he does say he wants the Egyptian president, the government to be more clear. Number two, he makes clear don't blame foreigners. These are your people, young and old from every class of society. They want you to go. The White House statement makes both those points.

Then it says they must immediately demonstrate irreversible political change, because what the White House fears is, sure, President Mubarak has given some powers away, but he still has the authority to take them back, Anderson.

COOPER: Fouad, it's interesting, because two weeks ago, Mohamed ElBaradei, one opposition figure with an arguable amount of support in the country, but still an opposition figure and a clear voice, was saying, well, there should be this three-member governing body for a transition to democratic rule down the road, and that Omar Suleiman should be one of those people.

I'm not sure today whether for the protesters it would be acceptable to have Suleiman involved in this. They now see him clearly as what he is, which is the closest confidant of Mubarak and one of his henchman.

AJAMI: Well, Anderson, you're absolutely right.

I actually -- in preparing for this broadcast, I sat down and listened to both Omar Suleiman and Hosni Mubarak. And because we know the world is carried in language, because we know that these two men are not speaking in English for us, because we know that people express themselves best in the language of their own land, in Arabic, it's even more chilling than we think in translation.

There's an eerie quality to both men, both old men refusing to accept the world. There's something almost Orwellian, you once said. You used that label before. It's almost Kafkaesque. These are men who live in a parallel universe. They really don't know the world around them. And these speeches of theirs, which alternate threats and inducement, acceptance of the new world, but also a warning to people -- when Omar Suleiman says to the Egyptians, go back to your home, go back to work, it's the autocrat's trick and the autocrat's belief that the world -- that public's space doesn't belong to these people, that they best scurry to cover to their homes. It really was an unnerving experience.

COOPER: It seems to me that they see themselves, Suleiman and Mubarak, as Egypt, that they don't see these protesters as Egypt. These are young people full of exuberance who have maybe bitten off more than they can chew, in their opinion. And they're quite dismissive of them.

It seems like these two older men view themselves as Egypt and cannot imagine an Egypt in which they are not at the helm.

AJAMI: Well, you know, it's the pharaonic culture.

And in the case of Mubarak, he even referred to himself as the father of these people. This is an old notion. And so you have -- and even Suleiman, there is something unnerving about him, because he's a man of the catacombs, of the shadows. And you're now thrusting him into the limelight and the Egyptians are looking and they don't like what they see, and they don't like the man they see as this transitional figure who is supposed to lead them into this new democratic land.

COOPER: A man of the catacombs thrust into the light, it's an extraordinary phrase.

Jill, you have the director of the CIA today telling Congress that Mubarak was probably going to step down. The Obama administration -- I mean, it's fascinating -- clearly thought he was going to resign, correct?


And, you know, they did -- they say that they got signals to that effect. That is what they expected. And then, all of a sudden, this happened. You know, I think, if you look at the statement that President Obama delivered, that print statement, he is really saying, we don't even know what's going on here. You tell us. And you tell your people and you tell the world, because it's not clear.

And that's why I think you're -- you know, at this point, they probably do not know exactly what is going on in the mind of Hosni Mubarak.


DOUGHERTY: As Fouad pointed out, it is a parallel universe. This is the mentality of a person who does, as you say, thinks he's Egypt, thinks he's a father, thinks he knows better. There's a highly paternalistic tone.

So, we are way beyond message and staying on message. We are into another type of internal monologue that this leader of Egypt has.

COOPER: Arwa, I want to express just some concern for reporters on the ground and obviously for protesters on the ground, because last week, after Mubarak spoke, all of a sudden, there was this big pro- Mubarak party sponsored by the government, no doubt, and then these mobs began to appear in the streets, and then the attacks began, not just on the protesters, but on reporters.

We have heard the same messages echoed by Mubarak in the last couple hours and by Suleiman, again blaming satellite news channels, trying to make a wedge between Egyptians who care about the economic lifeblood of the country and stability and the people in the square.

Did it seem to you, when you were hearing these speeches, that yet again they were setting it up to give carte blanche, if you will, to people who may be on the fence or may support the regime, to target these demonstrators or to target reporters?

ARWA DAMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, that's a very real concern for everybody. And it most certainly would appear as if the regime is in some way trying to instigate these types of attacks.

And I will just give you the example of what happened to us even before this speech which was very, very disturbing. We were traveling on a shoot outside of Cairo into an area that could be categorized as being anti-Mubarak. Hence, we assumed that it would be fairly safe to film there, since it was the pro-Mubarak thugs that were targeting the media.

We arrived and we were being taken around by one of the local leaders. Everybody was very friendly. All of a sudden, a man in beige showed up and, within minutes, amongst a small group of people there, the sentiment against us turned just like that.

People began shouting, yelling, throwing their hands into the camera, pushing it down, very agitated. We ended up having to flee. They were banging on the car. They smashed one of the taillights. When we got safely out of town, a doctor and his family had actually followed us out.

And he said that the man who showed up was a member of Mubarak's National Democratic Party, that he was something of a spy in the area, and that he had deliberately spread this outrageous lie to try to turn the mobs against us.

Listen to what the doctor said.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is why he extend rumors in the -- in the country, or the countryside, that you are American, and you came here to invade our country. And you came as beautiful girlies to re- educate the people, blah, blah, blah, and you came as enemies. I even met with a lady, a lady. She doesn't know anything.

She was saying, follow those people, because they are Americans. They come to invade. And they say they will invade our bedrooms. They will send the men to our bedrooms.

I mean, within two, three minutes, this is what happened, exactly.


COOPER: And this is exactly what we're hearing from the vice president and the president of the country, again trying to set up this narrative that it's foreigners who are somehow behind all this.

Arwa, we will continue to check in with you over the next two hours.

Everyone, stick around, a lot of coverage still ahead, an important reality check on what is happening. President Mubarak says Egyptians are free to express their opinions. We are going to hear from a journalist who was disappeared by the state security apparatus, detained for 28 hours, handcuffed, blindfolded, and he heard torture. He heard people being shocked with electric shocks while being detained, proof that torture and the beatings continue.

Also, some Egyptians have left Liberation Square to protest outside the presidential palace and the state-run television station. Will the next few hours be yet another critical, crucial turning point? Our panel weighs in ahead.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: People there are willing to die, OK? Willing to die for freedom, all right? All these people, all these people you can see, all the millions are looking for freedom, for justice.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What will you do now?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, what I will do now? I'm ready to die.


COOPER: A few hours ago, one of the protestors in Liberation Square, speaking to our reporter on the ground.

People have already died, more than 300, according to Human Rights Watch, though the exact number, frankly, is not known. If you ask the Egyptian government how many people died, they say -- I believe their last estimate was 11 people. You can decide the truth for yourself.

After Mubarak's speech, some protestors started to move away from Liberation Square to other locations, as we'd mentioned. Thousands headed toward the presidential palace. Some of them are still there. The numbers dwindled overnight.

Other protestors have been gathering outside the state-run television station. In the last few days, we've seen protestors by the parliament building, the health ministry.

John King, we wanted him to join us tonight live from Washington with kind of a closer look at where all this lays out, just to give you a birds-eye view so you can get a kind of a sense of where things are when you actually see the pictures.

John, explain what you got.

JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: Will do so, Anderson. And you make an important point about the protests spreading, and that could bring about the moment of choosing for the Egyptian security and the army, as the daybreak comes.

Everyone is familiar with this, and Anderson, you're too familiar with this. Tahrir Square, where you were, where you encountered the rough treatment last week. Tahrir Square, of course, where most of the protests have played out. Again, most of them have been peaceful.

And today, what a day of mixed emotions. Thousands gathered because they had word their president was going to resign. They thought their wishes were going to be granted. And you see some happy faces at the beginning, but then faces of defiance after President Mubarak spoke and that, the ultimate sign of disgust and disrespect in the Middle East culture, the bottom of the shoe when Mubarak said he was not going anywhere.

It was at that point, Anderson, the protests started to move out of the square, down toward the Nile River, toward Egyptian TV. We'll show you this image here. There's no sound with it, but you can see an image taken from one of the overpasses. And again, imagine the crowds are coming from here in the square, and they're making their way down to the roadway, heading down toward Egyptian TV. These crowds moving out. You can see people by the dozens. And you keep adding them up, you can easily get to hundreds.

Over here is the Egyptian TV headquarters. Right here this building along the Nile River. Heavily guarded, heavily fortified. The demonstrators are there now. This is the instrument of propaganda in their view, and they are talking about perhaps trying to take over that building. Again, if they do, that would test the military.

That's one site where we have seen the protests move. Going to use the map now to boom (ph) out, about five miles from Tahrir Square. Follow the red line, you come out here. It's about five or six miles out, a much more affluent neighborhood, a university up here. This is the presidential palace where President Mubarak is believed to still be, where he used the studio to deliver that address to the Egyptian people.

Again, this is an older satellite photo. If you were there today, you would see barbed wire, tanks and military all surrounding this. And again, protestors by the hundreds have moved out this way.

Another potential confrontation site, Anderson, when you talk to people, obviously, our correspondents on the ground in the square, talking to the protestors when you talk to people in Washington. They believe this is a potential for confrontation tomorrow and that the military may have to make a choice if those protestors decide to try to enter the state TV building or the presidential palace.

And John, as I drove out of Cairo heading to the airport last Saturday, there were literally armored personnel carriers, just one right next to the other completely around the front of the presidential palace. You couldn't even see anything past them. I assume those are still in place, and probably more have been added. As you said, concertina wire has been put up, and that wasn't there before.

Joining us again live from D.C. is Professor Dr. Fouad Ajami from Johns Hopkins. Also, he's a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution. Also in Washington, former U.S. national security advisor Steven Hadley. And in Cairo, Ben Wedeman and Ivan Watson.

Ben, do we know what role the military plans to play in the hours ahead?

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: No, we don't, actually. And that's really what people are asking.

The military has -- is currently in an odd position. They came out with a so-called communique No. 1, in which they said that this higher military council would be studying the situation very carefully.

We also had some recorded pictures from that meeting, and interestingly enough, there was no picture of President Mubarak on the wall.

And when that first communique came out, Anderson, some people assumed that this is the beginning of a military government.

In the meantime, President Mubarak, when he made his speech, he made no reference to the army. So there appears to be some kind of disconnect between the two.

As far as how they're going to deal with Friday's protests, no idea whatsoever. What we've seen is that the army has been protecting Tahrir Square, making sure that there are no repeats of those bloody clashes that took place last week. But what they will do, if the protestors turned violent or tried to take over government buildings, like state TV or, of course, the presidential palace, we just don't know.

COOPER: And Ivan, you're in the square and have been for a long time. Among the protestors, is there still as much respect for the military as there has been? I mean, we've heard for weeks now them chanting "The people and the military are one." How is the mood now in terms of as they look at the military?

IVAN WATSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, I haven't seen those interactions taking place throughout the day that we've been here, except for the fact that you have protestors that have ringed the tanks and the armored personnel carriers that have been parked here. They've set up their bedding there. They've basically made a human chain, a human ring around those tanks to make sure that they cannot move.

Another interesting point, Anderson, is the use of the three colors of the Egyptian flag. Red, white and black have been used very effectively and cleverly by the demonstrators, not only with flags but also with these ribbons that they wear around their heads, around their necks. And even with face paint, I'm seeing much more of that now, too.

So every time the government comes out and talks about foreign interests, foreign powers, foreign satellite channels, perhaps having a bad intention for this country, the demonstrators come back and show patriotic colors, show that they're out for their color. Fascinating to see how they respond to some of the tricks of the Egyptian government.

COOPER: Fouad, one of the playbooks that we have been -- one of the tricks from their playbook that we have been witnessing over the last two weeks or so is that, when the apparatus of the state didn't work cracking down, using their riot police, they used these sort of mobs of thugs who were allowed to -- excuse me, allowed to get very close to the protestors and launch attacks against them.

We haven't seen those kind of thugs for several days now. Do you -- they're still out there. Do you imagine that is one weapon still in the regime's arsenal?

FOUAD AJAMI, PROFESSOR, JOHNS HOPKINS: Absolutely. These thugs are always in reserve. But before that, I really want to say something about what Ivan Watson has reported from the place.

And it's a remarkable development. It shows the love of country, which animates, love of country, love of Egypt, which animates this protest and this rebellion.

The Egyptian flag had practically disappeared from Egyptian life. It would only be dragged now and then when there was a soccer competition against other nations. The Egyptian flag is everywhere, because these people are sending a message that there is nothing foreign about them; there's nothing illegitimate about them. There's nothing seditious about them.

They're sons and daughters of the land of Egypt, trying to repair and redeem their country from this man of the military and the security and the intelligence who've wrecked the life of Egypt.

COOPER: Do you think, though, that message has been seen by the masses of the Egyptian population? Because we have heard a steady drumbeat from Mubarak and from Suleiman, saying that these protestors are belittling Egypt. Literally he used those words, that they were insulting Egypt, in league with foreign satellite news stations. Who -- who is winning that message?

AJAMI: Well, that's exactly the question: who really is going to win the loyalty of the fence sitter, the people watching this big drama?

And if you listen to the regime and its functionaries, what they're telling the Egyptians is, "Look, all kinds of concessions have been given these people. The president has made all kinds of concessions. They're wrecking the economy of Egypt. They're wrecking the international reputation of Egypt."

So, of course, a battle is being waged for the loyalty of the population, the majority of the population. And if I were to just guess from -- with -- I didn't do what you did, going there. I'm not with Ben and Ivan and Hala and all this good team. From afar, it would seem that the protestors are holding their ground, and they're staking a claim to their country. And they're not going to be written out of the life of Egypt. They're not being -- going to be branded as apostates and as rebels and as people who are trying to wreck their country.

COOPER: It's also interesting, as more people join the protests, and now that it's been going on so long, I mean, hundreds of thousands, perhaps -- well, we don't know the full number of people, who have at one time or another, joined these protests. They have seen for themselves who the other protestors are. They know what is in their own heart.

And then to hear their government saying, "Well, these are foreigners," they know those things to be lies. If enough people have joined in at one point or another and seen these to be lies for themselves, then a turning point begins.

Stephen, as a former national security adviser, what would you be looking for in the next few hours? What are the kind of tea leaves that you would be reading, based on activities on the ground?

STEPHEN HADLEY, FORMER NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR: One is going to be very interesting to see who shows up tomorrow and what numbers and whether, looking at the crowd, there has actually been a broadening of the people engaged in this uprising.

COOPER: And you saw that this week. You did see more -- more numbers, and that surprised a lot of people, than ever before.

HADLEY: Right.

COOPER: And a broadening: growing strikes, doctors joining, professionals.

HADLEY: As Fouad Ajami said, there are other groups that are coming off the fence and joining the people in the square. That's one thing you want to watch.

Secondly, you want to watch the army. As John King said, if the crowd moves against the presidential palace, the TV media headquarters, that is a dilemma for the army, because those are the kinds of institutions that they probably will be inclined to protect. That's a place where the army does not want to be. Third, I think they would be looking is whether at some point the army really goes to President Mubarak and say, "You blew it in the speech you gave here today. It is time for you to make clear that you are stepping down. Technically, it may be in the form of you handing over power, establishing a transition government. But you've got to change the narrative, and the narrative has to be Mubarak surrenders, Mubarak steps down."

And I think the question is going to be when does the army decide they're really going to exert their influence? Those are the things I'd be looking for.

COOPER: Fouad, I heard Fareed Zakaria earlier tonight saying he believes the army has made a choice. At least the leadership of the army has made a choice, and they've sided with the Mubarak regime. Do you think that's true?

AJAMI: I don't really know, to be honest with you. I think I did -- there -- there was a point where the military, I was listening to them. And then when they issued what they called military communique No. 1, it took me back to my boyhood in the Arab world in the '50s and the '60s, when the tanks would drive to the palace, seize power, announce a brand-new world and say, This is military communique No. 1."

To have 80 million people, modern people yearning for modern life, for a good and decent life, to have them ruled by people who announced military communique No. 1 is a distressing statement on the kind of Egypt -- the kind of Egypt that Hosni Mubarak has created.

And the military, there is -- its honor is on the line. Maybe the people themselves don't trust the military. But people don't want to live. They don't want to live without some institution they trust. The military would be tested in the day, maybe even just a day or two days to come.

COOPER: We continue to follow this. Again, we are live till the midnight hour, until the 7 a.m. in Cairo.

Thanks for staying up with us. We're going to be checking back with our panel throughout this special coverage. A lot more to talk about.

More than 100 people have reportedly been detained during the Egyptian uprising, although frankly, the real numbers no one knows. There are disturbing accounts of torture being used in some cases, horrifying cases, really.

Up next, proof of torture, according to a journalist who was detained for more than 24 hours. You will hear what he heard, what he saw with his own eyes.

And later, a look at some of the most compelling sights and sounds from what has been an extraordinary day in Egypt.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) COOPER: According to Human Rights Watch, Egyptian army officers and military police have arbitrarily detained at least 119 people since the 20th of January. Some have reported being tortured, beaten, threatened with electricity, or violated with bottles. At least 62 journalists have also been detained, according to Human Rights Watch.

Again, these are just the numbers that they have been able to document.

One of the journalists is a man named Robert Tait, a correspondent for Radio Free Europe, who was detained last Friday in Cairo. He had just arrived.

He was held captive for 28 hours, all the while hearing nearly every manner of brutality around him: beatings, whippings, even electric shock. It's just the kind of thing those masses in the square say they are tired of: abuse at the hands of the state, abuse with no accountability. Robert Tait joins me from Prague via Skype.

Ben Wedeman is back with us, as well, from Cairo.

Robert, you were held for 28 hours by Egyptian authorities, handcuffed, blindfolded for much of the time. What did you see in terms of abuse?

ROBERT TAIT, JOURNALIST: I was blind folded but what I had was I heard the crack, crack cracking of electric shock and these were being used on the prisoners who would share the room with me. And the prisoners would respond t these with cries of agony and then crinkling (ph) and sometimes pleading for mercy.

COOPER: Were there words being spoken by these interrogators or by these -- these, I guess, state security personnel?

TAIT: Yes, there were. They were expressed with the form of angry shouts and implications and insults. And, obviously, I don't speak very much Arabic. I only understand a few words. But an Iraqi born colleague was with me and he later translated some of what was said.

And he said that, for example, at one stage, one of the guards shouted at a new batch of prisoners he'd brought in, "I want this group to really suffer." And then he said, "And in this hotel, there are only two items on the menu: electric shocks and rape."

COOPER: They were threatening actual rape of men or women?

TAIT: It was men.

COOPER: I want to bring in our Ben Wedeman in Cairo.

Ben, it's interesting because a lot of people you talk to among the protestors will say they are tired of this kind of abuse and the kind of corruption, rampant corruption in the security services that they feel is a daily part of life there. WEDEMAN: Yes. And it is, in fact. This is why what we saw on the night of the 28th of January, when the police pulled out of Cairo, what did the people do? The first thing they did was they ransacked police stations all over Cairo, because the police is really the hard end of the Mubarak regime. They're people that everyone comes in contact on a daily basis, and oftentimes there's just petty corruption to start with. But there is oftentimes just random violence exercised upon people for very little reason whatsoever.

There's almost no accountability among the police. There have been a few cases where police have been brought to trial for brutality, but oftentimes they come off with this -- light sentences and are released and go back to service in the police very soon afterwards.

So really, that is one of the main grievances of Egyptians, that the police force is, if anything, a criminal force that's inflicted upon people here on a daily basis.

COOPER: And Ben, under the emergency rules, which Mubarak has operated and ruled for some 30 years, can anybody be picked up at any time?

WEDEMAN: Arbitrary arrests; you don't need any reason. And oftentimes, people are brought into prison or under arrest or detention, and there's no process whereby relatives are informed. People simply just disappear into this massive prison system.

And what's interesting is, while the Google executive, who has been so critical in this movement against the government, one of his complaints was that, "Fine, investigate, interrogate me, but please inform my family that I have been arrested."

And that seems to be the case from so many Egyptians who get arrested. They just disappear into this gulag of detention facilities and prisons, and no one knows what's happened to them.

COOPER: And Robert, do you know how many people were being held captive with you?

TAIT: It's very hard to say. I, at one point, was able to adjust my blindfold, and I could see almost half the room, a semi- panorama. And I could see three men, three young men. I think they were not the only ones in there. I think there may have been at least two other people. So with a total -- a total including myself, six.

COOPER: And the electric shock that was taking place, that was happening -- even though you couldn't see it -- that was happening in that room that you were in?

TAIT: Absolutely, yes, it was happening literally inches -- a matter of two or three feet away from my face.

COOPER: It's extraordinary that -- what that tells me is just the feeling of impunity that these security services feel they have, that they would actually administer electric shocks to Egyptians sitting around you in the same room, knowing you're a reporter, and not caring about the fact that you may go out and tell people about it.

TAIT: Well, I think this is a fundamental important point. When all this happened, it happened after I had explained who I was and who I worked for. They knew I worked for a U.S.-funded organization. And they didn't care. It was if they were trying to make a point. And they certainly were doing so (ph).

I think that point is, by the way, that they didn't care what the Americans or anybody else thinks. They're convinced -- they've convinced themselves that this whole movement is something that is being funded and manipulated by foreigners.

COOPER: And I know they sent you then to the airport where eventually you left the country. Robert Tait, I appreciate you being with us. Thank you for your reporting.

Ben Wedeman, we'll continue to follow with you.

We're live all through the next hour. A new day of protests beginning in Egypt, potentially the largest yet. Already, over the last 24 hours, some amazing images to come out of Liberation Square. We'll show you some of them ahead and give you the latest. Again, we're live till the midnight hour.


COOPER: The latest from Cairo just ahead, but first, Isha Sesay is following some other stories in the "360 News & Business Bulletin" -- Isha.

ISHA SESAY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, at least five people are dead in a suspected natural gas explosion in Allentown, Pennsylvania, including a 4-month-old baby. Eight homes were destroyed in the blast.

The second-ranking Republican in the Senate is stepping down. Jon Kyl of Arizona announced today he won't seek a fourth term in 2012.

The number of Americans filing for first-time jobless benefits fell to the lowest level in more than 2 1/2 years. The Labor Department says 383,000 initial claims were filled last week, a decline of 36,000 from the previous week.

And a new storm passed over the southeast, dumping up to 6 inches of snow in some areas. Tomorrow, it won't be much better. Hard freeze warnings are in effect for parts of Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas for tomorrow morning.

Anderson, back to you.

Our extended coverage continues in just a moment. We're going to take a quick break. Sun rising in Cairo. Possibly the biggest day of protests yet. Details ahead.