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Chaos in Libya

Aired February 24, 2011 - 22:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, everyone.

In a moment, we're going to transport you from your home or wherever you're watching us right now into Libya, into the terrified city of Tripoli, into the home of a woman who says she isn't sure how much longer she can hold on. She is desperate. And she's desperate that you hear her plea tonight.

The call that she made to us at great risk to her own life, this call is a cry in the night. She hasn't been outside in the streets in five days. Merely stepping outside her front door, she says, can be fatal. Her ruler, the dictator of Libya, has hired mercenaries who right now are still on the streets, free to kill.

And too much blood has already been spilled. The front line in the fight for the future of Libya is just outside this woman's front door. Gadhafi controls the streets of Tripoli right now with his mercenaries and his thugs and his special forces commanded by his son. But fighting continues elsewhere in other cities.

We have some new video to show you, protests in Zawia today about a half-hour west of Tripoli after a battle between pro- and anti- government forces there today. West of Tripoli, fighting as well in the cities to the east, but the future of Libya will be won or lost in Tripoli itself.

Today, Gadhafi made another speech. And if you thought his rant on Tuesday, this rant seemed strange, well, the one today was even more bizarre, full of ramblings and lies. It was a speech made by phone and he repeated his fantasy that American-distributed hallucinogenic drugs are being slipped into coffee at mosques and given to kids.

He also today blamed a new force which he says is behind all the protests, echoing the same lies told by Mubarak in Egypt. Gadhafi now claims that al Qaeda itself is behind the protests. Listen to what he said.


MOAMMAR GADHAFI, LIBYAN LEADER (through translator): The demands is coming from bin Laden. What have you got to do with bin Laden, people of Zawia?

People -- bin Laden recruited these people and sent them here and been for recruiting these young men for months. These criminals are invisible. These are the enemy. And they -- and mosque who been told, recruited by bin Laden. These are the criminals. Arrest him and send him to court to be prosecuted and see what the criminal law of Libya will be applied. We don't want a civil war.


COOPER: To add insult to injury, Gadhafi's son Saif went on television in Libya today claiming that things are fine in Tripoli. Life is normal, he said on television today. Life is normal.

The truth is, there may not be protesters on the streets because they are too afraid to step outside. Too many have already been killed. In a moment, we are going to talk with our own Ben Wedeman in eastern Libya and Fouad Ajami as well.

But I just want us to listen to this cry in the night from a woman in Tripoli. I talked with her about an hour-and-a-half ago. I talked to her for about 20 minutes, and we're going to play a lot of the phone conversation with you.

Life is normal, the Gadhafis want you to believe. But listen to this young woman trapped in her home tonight. Listen to the fear and the pain and the sadness in her voice, and you will understand that nothing is normal in Tripoli. This woman tells us she's not sure how much longer she can hang on.


COOPER: Are you -- you're scared to go out in the streets?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Very scared. no, we close the door. We close the window. We don't go out. But nobody is leaving the house and we all stay together in one room in the center of the house.

COOPER: I hear fear in your voice and I hear sadness in your voice.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Very much -- is very much stress, very much sadness and hopelessness, because, you know, we can't go outside. I wish I can go outside and protest, say OK, they arrest you, they beat you, they do something.

But the problem is, you go outside, they're going to shoot you. This is not protest. You cannot protest. I wish we can protest. We cannot protest. I will have to find another way to say -- this is not protest. This is massacre.

COOPER: I hope you know that people around the world are watching and praying and wanting to do something. I hope you know that.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you, Mr. Anderson. Thank you for your efforts for the scene and effort -- thank you for the people who care. But I'm telling you -- I don't mean to be rude. Please, don't misunderstand me. But the only way something can happen is to put the right kind of action, the right kind of movement. And the first step, make Libya a no-fly zone. If you make Libya a no-fly zone, no more mercenaries can come in.

Then after that, because this crucial, real thing -- you know, we listen closely to Mr. Obama. We listen closely to the European Union. We listen closely to what's happening in South America. We listen to closely to all the Arab nations, what they are saying. They are not saying read between the lines.

We are dying. And the problem is, OK, you are -- I'm talking to you and you are listening to me and you are seeing the videos and people are talking to you from inside, outside of Libya. But the action -- there needs to be action. How much more waiting, how much more watching, how much more people dying?

COOPER: How much longer can you hold on?


You know, I feel like -- sometimes, really, like I'm going to go crazy. And then, sometimes, I have to say, no, no, you have to be stronger than that. Your freedom is not something easy. It's not cheap. You have to fight for your freedom.

You know, tomorrow is supposed to be a day where everybody go outside. I don't know how many of us are going to go outside, how it's going to happen.

COOPER: Will you go outside?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And, honestly, I feel it's not -- not effective, until something happens from outside, because to just watch or to just feel sorry, admonish, and say, oh, this is terrible, you know, they are dying, you know, it's not the same as action. And real action has to be taken.

COOPER: Do you feel alone right now? Do you feel alone? Do you feel like people have forgotten what is happening there or not paying attention or just not acting?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I wanted to ask you, Mr. Anderson, because I know America is very big, but are your people -- how much do people know about Libya? Or do they really care about what's going on, or is it just like one more country we hear about with problems?

COOPER: I think the whole world cares right now and is watching very closely. And I think people feel that they have let Gadhafi rule for too long and do too many terrible things to you and to Libya.

I think people feel that he is crazy.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You know, Mr. Anderson, it's a problem not just to Libyan people. He has done very bad things to the Libyan people for too long.

But the problem is even outside. OK, at least care what he did in the U.K. or in America, you know, when he -- when he killed innocent people in the airplane and did many -- and the policewoman. He did many bad things. At least -- if that's not enough to what he did to the Libyan people, at least what he did to America and what he did to the U.K.

This isn't -- this is -- I will put this as the first reason. What he did to Americans is very bad. What he did to the U.K. is very bad. You know, you have to care. At least, if you don't care -- if you say it, maybe, maybe, if you -- OK, but what do you care about? If you don't care about Libyan people, at least care about your own people.

COOPER: Do you think he can hold on -- do you think he can hold onto Tripoli?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He's doing a very good job. He's scare us. We are all in our houses like we are sitting in jail. We can't go outside or we get shot at. We hear the bullets.

We -- you know, before all of this happened, there is cars going around with big microphone, you know, speakerphone, scaring the people. We receive messages in our telephone telling us to support him, and we hear his crazy speeches.

He's doing a very good job. He has enough money and he has enough money to make -- to hire anybody, mercenaries from Africa, even from other countries, to come. And, look, people who are in Libya, they are all scared. All the companies, they are fleeing. All the other foreigners, they are going. Everybody is leaving.

COOPER: We hear the lies that he says in his speeches and we hear the lies that his sons say on television. Does anyone in Tripoli believe it when he says this is al Qaeda? Does anybody in Tripoli believe it when he says that it's the Americans handing out drugs to young people?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He says we're on drugs. He says we are -- and it's al -- we have no al Qaeda. Libya, we are not -- I don't want to say we are not religious, because I don't want to hurt anybody's feelings.

But, really, we are a very peaceful (INAUDIBLE) people, really.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We just care about normal living, you know, eating, sleeping.

See, us, when we are living a life, we don't have good education. We don't have what -- we can't even call it an education. We don't have health care. People have just been concerned about just -- you know, just barely just surviving. This is how we are living, just barely -- we don't have any of these crazy, crazy ideas. Where is al Qaeda? Where is -- this is -- I can't -- I don't even want to -- I don't even -- this is crazy. You all -- we all know he said we are all on drugs, or he keeps saying pills, pills, people are taking are pills. Or, today, he said we are -- you know how we get the drugs? Look how he's crazy. We're getting the drugs in the milk and in the water.

Somebody is putting -- yes, al Qaeda is putting -- what are -- he is crazy. I don't know where he -- how much more stories he's going to -- this imagination, he -- what is this? None of this is -- all of this is wrong. All of this is lies.

And his sons liar, and once -- or as bad as -- even his daughter. She's lying. She comes on. We see her on TV, too. She's lying. She's lying. They're all liars, because -- not because I said they are liars. Because pictures showing you, video showing you they are liars, because I am stuck in my house. I didn't leave for over five days. That's why they are liars.


COOPER: We're going to play more of my conversation with this woman in Tripoli.

I just want to bring in Professor Fouad Ajami of Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies and the Hoover Institution, as well as Ben Wedeman, who is in Benghazi.

Fouad, I mean, it's heartbreaking listening to this woman.


Anderson, it's really Caligula against his people, if you will. This is a monster, and we already have known this. And I think what's going on in Libya now, if you really want to have a big assessment of it, this -- there are two republics out there. There's the republic of September 1, 1969. That's the date that Moammar Gadhafi and his fellow conspirators and plotters hijacked this country from a feeble and decent monarch in 1969. That's September 1.

And then there is a republic, the republic of February 17, which is the republic that has emerged out of the struggle against Moammar Gadhafi. The moral scandal of this fight, if you will, is that the people of Libya, the people of this new republic, the people of February 17 are fighting and dying alone.

And when you realize, when you reason to the secretary-general of NATO, who says this is not a NATO problem, and when you realize that the Arabs are not going to ride to the rescue, it's very interesting. The Africans actually intervene in African cause and save their own people. The Arabs don't.

And when you realize that the E.U. is implicated in many of the crimes and thievery of Moammar Gadhafi, and then when you listen to American diplomacy and you realize we have kind of written off this crisis, I feel this young woman who spoke to you knows so much about the world.

And this is the humbling dimension of this story. Every person you brought on could put to shame all analysts, all strategic analysts of this conflict. I think she told us the truth. And she told us of her solitude. She told us of the solitude of her people, who feel abandoned by the outside world.

COOPER: Ben, I think -- you're in Benghazi. I think of the people who are just sitting in Tripoli in their homes right now, feeling completely alone. When the arms of the state are out to kill you, it's an extraordinary thing. And it's incredibly frustrating for those of us on the outside, just watching it and it seems like nothing is happening. From your vantage point, what do you hear when you hear that woman?

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, what we're hearing is that people here are definitely doing all they can to support their brothers and sisters in Western Israeli. They are trying to put together a defense. They are in close in close contact with people in the western part of the country.

They're, for instance, contacting tribal leaders, trying to convince them that this is a sinking regime, and there's no point in going down with it. They have even been in contact with Gadhafi's tribe itself, explaining to them that they have no problems, no qualms with the tribe. They just need to get rid of Colonel Moammar Gadhafi.

We know that they are trying to beef up their forces in the eastern part of the country, primarily in defense in the even that Moammar Gadhafi tries to launch some sort of counteroffensive. But they are trying to coordinate with the towns and villages in the west that have successfully driven out Gadhafi's forces.

So the outside world may be sitting on their hands when it comes to actively supporting the people in Tripoli, but the people in this part of the country are very concerned, very closely watching what is going on in the west, and doing what they can to make a difference.

And I think, at the end of the day, Anderson, they may be the ones who will finally topple Moammar Gadhafi, because they -- this -- as Libyans always tell, they are one flesh, one body, and they do really feel that they must do what they must do to help the people in Tripoli -- Anderson.

COOPER: We're going to have more from Ben and Fouad in a moment.

The live chat is up and running.

And, again, we're going to play more with this conversation with this woman, because I just think she -- she cuts through the clutter. And I know it starts to feel the same thing day after day on a lot of those stories.

But something about talking to this woman tonight, I think really just shines a light on the reality of what so many thousands of people are living right now in Tripoli, in their homes, afraid to go outside, while this man has his mercenaries and thugs in the streets. We're also going to look into the story of the Americans stranded in Tripoli on board a ship, waiting to leave, trapped by the weather, we're told, sitting in Tripoli harbor -- details ahead.


COOPER: Well, you heard Moammar Gadhafi ranting about al Qaeda and America drugging Libyan teenagers and turning them into revolutionaries with the hallucinogenic drugs.

The fact is, the only foreigners who seem to be operating in Libya are African mercenaries roaming the streets of Tripoli and elsewhere, flown in by Gadhafi, hired with some of the oil billions still at his disposal.

Gadhafi has gone farther than any other dictator in this last month or so to maintain power. But if he outdoes the others in bloodlust, he's no different when it comes to simple dishonesty. The antidote is simple truth.

And in this case, tonight, it's from a woman in Tripoli. You heard part of the conversation earlier. Here's the rest of what she had to say.


COOPER: Are there still mercenaries on the street?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We hear gun -- gunshots in the streets. We hear -- mostly at night, we hear gunshots in the street. But we are too scared to look outside into the balcony or into -- outside in the window, you know?

You know, Tripoli is very big. Different parts of town, we try to keep contact with my cousins all over the city, different aunts or uncles' house, whether from my mother's side or my father's side. And so we hear of many different areas. There are some areas that have been hit hard.

Before -- the day before, they go outside and like a protest. But, really, it's not really a protest, because when you go protest, you can voice your opinion. And maybe sometimes like we see, you know, before in Egypt, they throw at them water. They throw at them gas.

Here, they shoot you in the head, in the heart. I have a brother. He went outside in the protest. But this is now over three days ago. And we have friends died, relatives died. We are in a state of very high stress, yet -- but also mourning.

But we can't even think straight. We're just -- I don't -- you know, like you experience loss and you experience sadness and you experience stress. And the problem is, like last night, after the first speech, video speech, not the speech now happening just a while ago, you know, the speech, the one in the video, this speech?

COOPER: Yes. Yes, I understand.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He is talking -- and, of course, he's crazy, and he's talking like a crazy person, but what he's -- he's scaring us because he give us like a -- like a final word, ultimatum.

He's saying, you know, I will go to each house, to each person, to each thing, to each -- to each -- like a fight to the end. And he says, I give you guys 24 hours. And this -- as much as we can't believe what he's saying, but this is very scary when you hear this.

And the problem is, you know, Mr. Anderson, I know you're -- I'm sure you're a very educated man, but I just want to explain something (INAUDIBLE) explain to people who are listening or maybe they don't know too much about Libya or about Tripoli, or I don't know how much coverage of what is going on in my country here.

In Tripoli, it's a very big city, and he is controlling the city. He doesn't care even -- you know, outside we all these -- really, he doesn't care about these places outside Benghazi, Tobruk (INAUDIBLE) Misurata, all these. I'm naming you places not -- that's not inside Tripoli.

He doesn't care about this, because Tripoli, this is where the embassies are, the companies. And this is what he wants to keep a hold on. He doesn't care if they have -- if he lose control outside or not.

To him, the most important thing is my city, the capital, Tripoli. And he doesn't want to let go. He doesn't understand. He doesn't care. He is just killing the people.

COOPER: You told my producer before that you have reached the end point. What do you mean when you say you have reached the end point?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Everybody has had enough. We have had enough a long time, not just this last week or this month or this year, or even before things happening internationally in neighboring countries.

We have all had enough. But what I mean in the end point, that I don't care. Like -- like, I'm talking to you now, you know? This is not safe for me, not safe for my family.

COOPER: You know you're taking a great risk right now? You know you're taking a great risk?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A great risk. And I ask -- I ask of you and CNN and anybody to please just come and see what is going on, you know, because, even though this is great risk on anybody who comes inside of Libya, but you cannot believe, as much as we -- we don't even know how many people died.

I'm expecting -- not because I'm overestimating, but when we know how many people died -- I just keep hearing names, names. I'm making a list of paper of each time I hear of people dying. And we can't even get the bodies. We don't even know who we should say I'm sorry for the loss of some -- your family member.

We cannot move. We cannot do anything. And the problem is nothing will change in Libya unless drastic, important measures taken from outside, because this man, he is crazy. He doesn't care about you or what you think. You already understand he doesn't care about his people. He doesn't care if I die. He doesn't care if he burns the whole city. He doesn't care if all of us in Tripoli die, all of us in Libya will die.

He doesn't care. I don't -- he said this in his speeches. He is not even just saying. He is doing. His action is telling you what's happening. He doesn't care. He wants us all to die.

COOPER: I can hear...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And the only way we can fix this is if somebody takes action, if you just make Libya a no-fly zone.

He's bringing African mercenaries because he has so much money. He can buy people with money. He don't care. They go inside to kill us, to rape us, to destroy our country, to -- enough.

COOPER: I don't want to keep you on the phone for too long, just for safety reasons. So, please stay safe. And we will talk to you tomorrow.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you, Mr. Anderson.

And I -- I hope I was able to -- I hope you understand me. And thank you for your patience with me. And thank you, CNN, and thank you, America, for listening and for caring. Thank you very much.

COOPER: Stay strong.


COOPER: Let's bring back in Fouad Ajami and Ben Wedeman, who is in Benghazi tonight.

Fouad, I mean, every night, we talk about the strength and the courage of people who are calling us and telling us what is happening, the strength of this woman, who is clearly afraid and clearly desperate, and yet all the more desperate that the world knows what's happening there and willing to risk her life to tell us.

AJAMI: Well, exactly. All these people are trying. What they want us to do is to bear witness of the ordeal they have suffered and they continue to suffer under this man.

What's interesting about this story and what's interesting about this young woman we have been listening to, here is Gadhafi, the house of Gadhafi, all the billions of dollars they have. And listen to his vulgarity and the vulgarity of his son, who bought a Ph.D. from the London School of Economics.

Compare that vulgarity, with all the billions of dollars, with the simple dignity of this young woman, who gave an amazing description of the situation in Libya and of the ordeal of her country. She's absolutely right.

The man has billions of dollars. Libya has $140 billion in foreign reserves. When we say Libya has $140 billion, we mean Gadhafi has access to $140 billion. So this is an uneven fight. And the only thing that would make it an even fight is foreign intervention and foreign help for these people.

And I think, over and over again, they keep appealing to us, but the cavalry is not coming. The cavalry is not coming to Libya. And Ben Wedeman is right. The Libyans have to do it on their own. The Libyans in the east will have to help their brethren in the west. And this is a fight for the country between these two contending forces. And the outcome is not yet certain.

COOPER: Ben, how -- obviously, the people in Benghazi are concerned if -- if Tripoli is able to stay in Gadhafi's hands and he's able to kind of reassemble and reorganize his forces, they could launch an attack on Benghazi.

We talked to you about this a little bit yesterday. And I know you went to a hospital today. I would like to hear what you saw in the hospital, but also can Benghazi defend itself?

WEDEMAN: Benghazi is not very well defended at the moment. They have very little in the way of heavy weaponry. There's a lot of AK- 47s, rocket-propelled grenades out there, some artillery, some helicopters.

But they don't really have the wherewithal, if they had to, to really stop Moammar Gadhafi's forces. However, having said that, they do have something that the regime doesn't have, and that is the willpower and the determination to resist. And that, you see every single day here.

We have seen that, given the ability to rule themselves, they're actually doing a pretty good job about it. They have basically maintained the power supply, a power supply that the regime ordered the power plant here to cut off.

But, in fact, there haven't been any power cuts, except for one very brief five-second one, since we got here. What we're seeing is that these people do have the will to put up a fight, and that's something, from everything we're hearing, Anderson, is that the Libyan military does not have. Those forces still under the control of Tripoli, we're seeing defections on an almost daily basis of soldiers, of officers who simply want no part of that fight.

Now, regarding the hospital we went to, Al Jalaa Hospital, which was really in the front line, dealing with hundreds of casualties, potentially hundreds of fatalities on some days during the fighting between the anti-government protesters and the forces here, and there we saw basically a hospital that was traumatized.

You have to remember that Libya, this part of Libya, has not seen warfare for decades. The hospital normally deals with auto accidents. And they seem to be dealing all right. Some Libyan doctors based in the U.K. have come back to work in the hospital. The medical supplies seem to be standing up.

But the staff talks about -- they told us about just nurses and doctors breaking down in tears, dealing with just a level of bloodshed that they've never had to deal with before -- Anderson.

COOPER: Ben, you and your team continue remarkable reporting and stay safe. Thank you, Ben.

Fouad, stick around. I want to talk to you more.

Ahead also, Americans desperate to get out of Libya, still waiting to go on a ferry. Why is it taking to long? We'll try to figure that out. Other countries seem to have be able to get their people out. We'll talk about that ahead.


COOPER: Governments around the world are scrambling to get their citizens out of Libya. The U.S. seems to be having more trouble than anyone else at this point, even as the State Department is urging Americans in Libya to leave immediately.

ferry chartered to evacuate U.S. citizens to the island of Malta, which arrived in Tripoli Wednesday, tonight, as far as we know, it is still docked in Tripoli. The State Department says about 285 people are onboard, including 167 U.S. citizens. It is not clear when the ferry will leave the port. U.S. officials say the timing depends on the weather, which has not been cooperating.

Meantime, other countries have managed to get a lot of people -- a lot of their people out. Today, a plane carrying British nationals landed in Malta. Britain has evacuated more than 350 of its citizens so far and had five flights scheduled to depart from Tripoli today.

Another example: a ferry carrying Chinese nationals reached port in Tikrit today. It left Libya from Benghazi. China's evacuated 12,000 of its citizens so far.

A ferry carrying Turkish nationals reached Turkey today. Two ferries carrying more than 3,000 Turks left Benghazi early Wednesday.

In Paris, an Airbus belonging to the French air force landed today with 165 French nationals on board. The plane took off in the central Libyan city of Saba.

Again, those are the efforts of other countries to get their people out. Again, the U.S. right now trying to get their citizens in doubt (ph) onboard this ferry.

Fouad Ajami joins me again from Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies as well as the Hoover Institution. And national security contributor Fran Townsend joins me, as well. Fran traveled to Libya in 2007, 2009 and 2010, and she visited high-ranking Libyan officials at the invitation of the Libyan government in her last trip. She's also a member of the CIA external advisory committee.

Fran, why do you think we're having so much trouble, first, getting the U.S. citizens out?

FRAN TOWNSEND, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CONTRIBUTOR: Well, Anderson, those countries that have been successful have mostly not had to actually ex-filtrate their citizens from Tripoli. You talked about Benghazi and other parts of Libya. This is a real problem.

What's happened is the State Department chose to marshal everyone that they needed to evacuate into Tripoli. They originally had a plan to evacuate them by air. The air reservations they made were not honored. And so they were looking for plan B.

They were reluctant to try and get a military aircraft in there, for fear that they would get involved in a conflagration. And by the way, the Libyans wouldn't permit them to land a military -- a U.S. military aircraft.

And so plan C was the ferry. Weathers interfere; they're hoping the weather will lift, and they'll be able to leave Tripoli tomorrow. The boat itself, the ferry itself is protected, and the sort of ingress and egress to the ferry at the port is also protected. But Anderson, the bottom line is, it's not adequate.

We should not be in a position that we have not been able to evacuate these Americans now. And I think my understanding is folks are frustrated in the administration, as you might expect.

And the problem is, this is a difficult task that we always seem to assign, irregardless of administration, to the State Department, which, frankly, is not probably the best -- the best organization in the U.S. government to handle such a task.

COOPER: Fouad, you listened in Arabic to an interview Gadhafi gave on Libyan television today, some of which we played earlier. What struck you about it?

AJAMI: Well, it's almost embarrassing. When you talk about Gadhafi, criminality always mixed with comedy. Here one is almost embarrassed to tell a joke about Moammar Gadhafi and how much of an absurd man he is.

In this interview, at one point, this is really -- it gets the prize. He asked the Libyan people to indulge him, to put up with him. And he puts himself forward and said, "Think of me as Queen Elizabeth. I reign, but I do not rule. I'm almost tempted to do Lloyd Bentsen: "We know Queen Elizabeth. She's a good friend of ours. And Moammar Gadhafi is no queen Elizabeth." But this was the absurdity of this man.

He then called on Libyan women to go out and get their brothers and sons out of the streets, because they are getting hurt. And then, of course, he returned to the big -- the big, fat lie, that this is bin Laden, and these are the doings of bin Laden. And the bin Laden explanation by Moammar Gadhafi is not accidental. The bin Laden explanation is an appeal to the fears of the west. It's an attempt to tell people in Europe and people in the United States, "Look, there's no alternative to me except the Islamists, except the jihadists."

COOPER: Right.

AJAMI: And what's absurd about this is he himself, he himself, Gadhafi, sent thousands of jihadists against American forces in Iraq. We know that for sure.

So it's the old trick. It's the old trick that Gadhafi had been playing to perfection for 40 years.

COOPER: And Fouad, you actually saw some document from Benghazi written by people about how to govern themselves.

AJAMI: I love that. I downloaded this document from Benghazi, because it speaks to the kind of discipline that Ben Wedeman has been telling us about.

So contrast the deranged man in his -- his bunker in Tripoli with a statement that the people of Benghazi circulated, a kind of leaflet, telling the people what to do and telling the people of Benghazi what this revolution is all about.

One, it says in the name of God, et cetera, safe keep the lives of all Libyans and Arabs. They're a trust to you. Defend public institutions and establishments, for they are property of the Libyan people. And no honorable people will trifle with public property. Every free and decent Libyan should turn over weapons obtained from army surplus or military camps. Clear all roadblocks so that calm will return to all public and private establishments. Avoid any provocative acts that would harm our beloved country. We will prove to one and all that our revolution is not a revolution of hooligans and a revolution of vagabonds.

These are the people who have stepped forth in the chaos of this revolution, in the chaos of this contest with Moammar Gadhafi. And we can see them and read them and hear them and can trust what they stand for, what they stay, with the doings of the house of Gadhafi.

Fran, we heard this woman in Tripoli begging for at the very least a no-fly zone. What is it going to take to defeat Gadhafi? Is it going to take someone in his inner circle essentially shooting him?

TOWNSEND: Well, I think -- I actually do think that's right, Anderson. And there are very powerful people that the U.S. has had contact with over the past and currently has contact with.

Musa Kusa, who's his foreign minister, was head of the intelligence service, directly involved and implicated in the Pan Am 103 bombing. U.S. officials and intelligence officials know him and are talking to him. The head of the interior and intelligence services, another guy directly implicated in pan-am 103's bombing, these are the people, these are not good people, but these are the thugs around him that we have contact with.

And presumably they're going to have to make a move. And when they make a move, that is the last prop that is holding this guy in power. And I expect -- you know, it's a slow disintegration.

You would hope that, when you listen to this woman, that the United States would actually lead and act here. But the president, in fairness, is in a very difficult position until he can get those Americans out.

And so getting the Americans out is not only a national security interest for the United States, but it's sort of a precedent before the president can actually act in the favor of the Libyan people, I think.

Fouad Ajami, appreciate you being on.

Coming up, allegations about an effort within the U.S. Military to use psychological operations not against the enemy, the Taliban in Afghanistan, but against U.S. senators to influence American policy, to try to get more money and troops for the war in Afghanistan. It is a stunning report from "Rolling Stone." I'll talk to the writer who broke the story and one of his main military sources.

That's coming up next.

Also, Isha Sesay is following other stories -- Isha.


There's been a terror arrest in Texas. A 20-year-old Saudi national is facing a federal charge of an attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction. When we come back, I'll have details on the suspect's alleged possible target. That and more just ahead.


COOPER: A stunning report tonight about an alleged attempt by the U.S. military to influence senators to approve more troops and money for the war in Afghanistan. It's a story that broke in within the past 24 hours.

The "Rolling Stone" article quotes a former active-duty lieutenant colonel who claims he and his team received orders to psychologically manipulate visiting dignitaries, including senators like John McCain, Joe Lieberman and Al Franken, even the chairman of the joint chiefs, Admiral Mike Mullen.

The military team refused, noting that it's illegal to use so- called Psy-Ops, Psychological Operations, on Americans. But according to that lieutenant colonel, raising the red flag earned him a reprimand and investigation. The general whose commander reportedly made that order is denying that it happened. The top commander in Afghanistan, General David Petraeus, is ordering an investigation.

Joining us live from Washington is Michael Hastings, who wrote the article for "Rolling Stone," and in Dallas, Texas, Mike Holmes, the key source quoted in the article and a former active-duty lieutenant colonel in the National Guard.

Appreciate both of you being with us.

Mr. Owens, when people hear Psy-Ops, it sounds like, you know, obviously, we know Psy-Ops are stuff that's usually directed -- supposed to be directed toward the enemy. There's a quote in the article that's attributed to a military chief of staff that said, quote, "What do I have to plant inside their heads?"

What kind of tactics are we talking about here when we talk about Psy-Ops that you say were -- you were asked to use toward U.S. senators and others?

MICHAEL HOLMES, FORMER ACTIVE DUTY NATIONAL GUARD: I think really more correctly, what we would say is influence operations. And what we mean by that is, how would we influence these senators, these distinguished visitors or the think tanks that visited us to do things our way, to do things the way EMA wanted them?

And for instance, with senators and the congressmen, it was simply, how had these people voted in the past? What were their positions coming in? And what -- what could the generals actually say to them that would get them to do what we wanted them to do, provide more money, provide more troops, and support MTMA better?

COOPER: So -- so was it actual kind of techniques that you had learned? Or was it more benign? Was it just, well, you know, kind of getting a sense of OK, who are these visiting dignitaries? And, you know, let's try to show them -- let's put the best possible face on things.

HOLMES: Well, first off, we didn't do it. And what I mean by that is, we were pressured, really from December on to start providing this kind of information. And at first, it was rather benign, simple background information: biographical summaries, voting records, positions people had taken. But as time went on through January, February, March, it got -- the pressure built for us to be able to provide better or more kind of assessment work.

So not only what had these people done in the past? But, again, what could we do? What could the generals say? What information could we present to them that would get them to provide what they needed at the time?

Usually it was more troops, more trainers, because we were woefully short. And the problem wasn't so much that we were using information to do that. The problem was that you wouldn't want to use a psychologically-trained team. You wouldn't want to use us as information operators and an information operations team to do that. Because as you said up front, we're focused on the enemy, and we should have been focused on the enemy, not on our own people. COOPER: Michael Hastings, you've written this story for Explain what you think is so surprising here.

MICHAEL HASTINGS, WRITER, "ROLLING STONE": Sure. And first, I'd just like to say that was such an incredible interview you did to start the show and your commitment to that story is nicely done. And as a foreign news guys myself, I just appreciate your amazing work.

But to this story, what I -- what I think -- what I've heard and believe is that this is a story, at the very least, about the misuse of resources. Colonel Holmes and his team were trained to influence the Taliban, influence the Afghan population. When they got to Afghanistan, they were told, "Now your skills, your skill set is going to be used on -- on visiting senators."

So it just shows that it's a very slippery slope you're getting on, when you're having an information cell that has specialized in psychological operations, military deception, and you're applying them to work that should be done by Public Affairs.

And so what you have here is this sort of melding of -- so you have this traditional branch of Public Affairs and what you can call sort of propaganda and that wall being torn down in essentially an operation that seemed to me run amok.

You know, the command in Afghanistan was -- was encouraging to go on Facebook, go on Twitter, basically making no distinction any more between foreign audiences and domestic audiences. So that's why, with Colonel Holmes' story, I think we sort of see a -- it's a window into this -- this larger and, to me, much more troubling trend of the tens of millions of dollars being spent to influence American public opinion and using people with the wrong skill sets to do so.

COOPER: Lieutenant General Caldwell, who's in command of Afghan security forces and revamping Afghan security forces, denies this story. Petraeus now is investigating. What do you say about his denial?

HASTINGS: I think -- I mean, that's fairly typical. And in fact, one of the, to me, the most troubling aspects is that Caldwell's command didn't see anything wrong with what they were doing and what they're asking Colonel Holmes to do. And that just shows an incredible disconnect.

Even when you have Colonel Holmes, a veteran of three deployments, waving a red flag and saying, "Hey, this isn't right. This doesn't look good. This is illegal," even when you had all that, they still tried to force him to go along.

And then when he went to the lawyers, the JAG Lawyers, they said "Yes, this isn't right. This is illegal. You shouldn't be doing this." They refined their order, and then -- but for him sort of waving this red flag, they punished him and his deputy.

COOPER: Michael -- Michael Hastings, what's different about this than, you know, as a reporter, you go out to a unit, and they want to put the best face forward. And they show you, you know, some sort of a Potemkin village, you know. As reporters often you find yourself in kind of these dog-and-pony shows and thinking, "OK, well, wait a minute, this isn't really real." What is different about this?

HASTINGS: Well, it's certainly part of the same -- same larger picture. But the issue is the resource or the weapon the military is employing to do that.

When we're out there, we're with Public Affairs, and we know they're Public Affairs. And we know their job is to spin us and put the best face on things.

If we were -- but this is a great question, right? If you found out that your Public Affairs team that was showing you around actually had -- just had completed a 40-hour course in psychological operations and was trained in Psy-Ops and in military deception, you'd start to question, "Hey, is that an appropriate use of that resource?"

They already have a massive Public Affairs staff there, you know, that costs maybe 30 million a year. And Colonel Holmes' team cost approximately $6 million there. So the question is, is that an appropriate use of taxpayers' money to use an IO team to then, you know, wage a propaganda war against target citizens? I know I would be, as a journalist, I would find it rather fishy if that had happened.

COOPER: It's fascinating to sort of...

HOLMES: Can I add something to that, Anderson?

COOPER: Yes, sure. Go ahead, Michael -- Mike.

HOLMES: The point of misuse is one thing. But there's actually a credibility issue, as well. When you're dealing as a reporter with a Public Affairs officer or a Public Affairs professional in the military, you know that that person is trained to tell you the truth, and they have an ethical code that they can't break. They may be wrong sometimes. They may not get it accurately. But what they're telling you they believe to be so.

My team, my specialty, information operations and the psychological arm of things, we are trained to deceive if we have to. We aren't held to the same ethical standards.

And so it's not a question that we would have or we could have told you a lie. It's simply that, if I come to you as an information operator, and I'm talking to you and giving you the story as a reporter, you really -- you really don't have to trust me. You shouldn't trust me. In fact, by my participating in that, I will taint the news.

COOPER: Interesting. Again, it's on People should -- should go there and read the article.

Michael Hastings, appreciate you coming on.

Mike Holmes, as well. Thank you.

A lot more happening. Gentlemen, appreciate it.

We continue to follow this. A lot more happening as protests go into the ninth day in Wisconsin. Police are sent to several Democratic lawmakers' homes in the latest effort to get a budget bill passed. Isha joins us with that and more ahead.


COOPER: Let's check some other headlines. Isha Sesay has a "360 News & Business Bulletin" -- Isha.

ISHA SESAY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, a Saudi national living in Texas is being held on terror-related charges. The 20-year-old man is accused of acquiring chemicals to make a bomb. Officials say one of his possible targets was the Dallas home of former President George W. Bush.

In Wisconsin, protests against a controversial budget repair bill continue at the state capital building while the legislature remains in gridlock. Fourteen Democratic state senators are AWOL. They left the state to prevent a vote on the bill. Today, state police went to their homes to try to wrangle them back for a vote, but they came up empty handed.

General Motors is reporting its first annual profit in seven years. The bailed-out automaker earned $4.7 billion in 2010.

And Anderson, it is the beginning of the end, the Space Shuttle Discovery launch today marking its 39th and final flight. The crew will deliver a storage module and other items to the International Space Station.

A bittersweet piece of history there.

COOPER: Yes, really. Amazing. Isha, thanks.

Much more at the top of the hour, starting with a remarkable woman's cry in the night from Tripoli.