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JOHN KING, USA

Two Men Scheduled for Lethal Injection Execution Today; President Obama Meets With Palestinian, Israeli Leaders

Aired September 21, 2011 - 19:00   ET

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


CANDY CROWLEY, HOST: Thanks for joining us. I'm Candy Crowley. John King is off.

Tonight at this hour, two men in Georgia and Texas are scheduled to the die by lethal injection for crimes that had an impact far beyond their state's borders.

In Texas, Lawrence Brewer, a 44-year-old white supremacist and one-time Ku Klux Klan leader is going to the execution chamber for his part in the 1998 killings of James Byrd, a black man who was dragged to death behind a pickup truck. Byrd's killing inspired the passage of both federal and state hate crime including a Texas law signed 10 years ago by governor, now presidential candidate Rick Perry. But this hour's execution in Texas is overshadowed by another in Georgia.

Convicted murderer Troy Davis is scheduled to die right now, but the U.S. Supreme Court is considering a last-minute appeal from his attorneys. Davis was convicted of killing Savannah Policeman Mark MacPhail, 22 years ago. Since Davis' trial, seven of the nine witnesses against him either changed their stories or recanted their testimony, raising doubts that have gone global. Anti-death penalty protesters are out in force tonight in Georgia and over time, the Pope, Nobel peace prize laureates, Desmond Tutu and Jimmy Carter, Amnesty International and the NAACP have been among those who have appealed for leniency or a new trial. The original prosecutor in the case says they are executing the right man tonight.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SPENCER LAWTON, FMR. CHATHAM COUNTY PROSECUTOR: There are two Troy Davis cases. There is the legal case, the case in court, and the public relation case. We have consistently won the case, as it's been presented in court. We have consistently lost the case as it's been presented in the public realm, on TV and elsewhere.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CROWLEY: CNN's David Mattingly is outside the prison in Jackson, Georgia.

Davis, sorry, David, what can you tell us about what's going on?

DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Candy, look, what's happening here right now, just in the last half hour, we've seen hundreds of people gathering across the street, outside the gates of the prison. Their numbers are great, their voices are very loud, they're carrying signs. They're chanting. And on this side of the street, perhaps even more remarkable is what we're seeing happening here. There's riot here. Officers in riot gear lined up outside the entrance to the prison. They're wearing helmets, face shields, carrying batons, and side arms.

Over here as well, they're flanked by other officers, corrections officers, police officers, also carrying side arms. We have seen three people arrested and taken away. We're not sure exactly why. But at the moment, this was the moment that Troy Davis was supposed to be executed. It appeared that the officers here were preparing, perhaps, for the people across the street to try and intrude on to the grounds of the prison here. That has not happened.

We have found out, from the mother of the slain officer, Mark MacPhail, she was told by state officials that the execution has been delayed because of the appeal before the Supreme Court. But she was also told that they believe that the execution will go on tonight, that this was just a delay.

In the meantime, there is tension here. You see a large crowd of people back here, who have been supporting troy Davis. And the demonstrations that I've been to in the last week, as they've continued to get larger and more vocal, they have always been orderly and peaceful. There's no indication, yet, that that has changed. But, clearly, the officers here not taking any chances to see if anybody intrudes on to the grounds that aren't supposed to.

So, we're watching what's happening up here. Just a big cheer going up through the crowd, they seem rather jubilant right now. Perhaps they just got word that there's been some delay. But we know that right now, 7:04 was after the time that Troy Davis was supposed to be dead, his execution has been delayed while the Supreme Court watches this case.

And we're going to continue watching what's going on out here, Candy, as people continue to express their very high emotions on how much they've been emotionally invested in this case, all coming to a head right now.

CROWLEY: In the past, I think the Supreme Court, in these last- minute appeals, has usually been pretty quick about their responses to it. And while we're trying to figure out, if we can, from here, what that crowd is seems so jubilant about, I was going to ask you about the atmospherics, but just the presence of police, I think, would obviously, does add to the idea of tension.

We're talking about a man being killed tonight by state order, by court order, by jury order. And that always has a level of tension. But you add in the police, it must be quite the feeling out there tonight.

MATTINGLY: That's right. And again, we have seen three people taken away, using the plastic cuffs on them, that happened just right over here. I really don't annoy why they were taken away, but that was all very orderly and without incident. And, again, I have to stress, every single demonstration that I've been to, associated with Troy Davis has been orderly and peaceful. And so far, that remains to be the case. Their numbers are great. You can see them massing across the street over there. They're continuing to chant. They're continuing to chant. They are continuing to sound very hopeful that perhaps maybe this delay will be more than just a delay.

But, again, we are waiting to see what the United States Supreme Court will do. And we know, at this point, that Troy Davis has lost at every round, throughout the legal system. This case has been looked at by dozens of judges. Tonight, the U.S. Supreme Court has already seen this, and we're waiting to see now what they will say about this latest 11th hour hail-Mary appeal launched by the attorneys.

They lost earlier tonight, the court, the lower court here in Georgia, and the Supreme Court of Georgia, both denied it, and then the attorneys said, now we're going to the U.S. Supreme Court, as most people predicted. And we're just waiting now, Candy, to see what the high court is going to do.

In fact win keep looking at my blackberry here, to the see what is going on, just in case there's something that comes through, but we're watching this very closely. Not only at the Supreme Court, but here as well, to see if, perhaps, there is something about these emotions that people may not be able to control in these final moments. Candy?

CROWLEY: CNN's David Mattingly in Jackson, Georgia, for us tonight. David, I know we will be back to you later. CNN of course, following these executions tonight in Georgia and another in Texas, we will be back for any big developments in either place.

There are also major developments tonight in the push for Palestinian membership in the United Nations. The Palestinians may have blinked. Just hours before Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas met with President Obama this evening. Officials told CNN the Palestinian leader now plans to give the U.N. and the U.S. several weeks to respond to his request for full statehood recognition, temporarily avoiding a diplomatic showdown and a U.S. veto of that request.

A senior state department official tells CNN, secretary of state Hillary Clinton will be meeting separately tonight with President Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Prime Minister Netanyahu also met with President Obama today, and went out of his way to praise the president's threat to veto Palestinian statehood.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: Standing your ground, taking this position of principle, this is a badge of honor. And I want to thank you for wearing that badge of honor.

(END VIDEO CLIP) CROWLEY: With us now, Mark Regev, a spokesman for the Israeli Prime Minister. Thank you so much for joining us tonight. These are busy and interesting time as they say.

Is it possible, looking at this now, we think that there may be some time in here over the next couple of weeks that this diplomatic showdown, that may not happen tonight, has pushed the peace process forward. Do you have any hope that there might be a way that the two sides can sit down together in the next couple of weeks?

MARK REGEV, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER'S SPOKESMAN: I think Israel certainly hopes so. I mean, ultimately, we all understand that the solution is negotiations and getting a peace agreement. And that can only happen if we sit down together. If the Palestinians really take a step back and put their U.N. bid here on hold and return to direct talks in Israel, well, the door is open. We can negotiate. We're ready to negotiate. We've been continuously calling to restart the peace process. If the Palestinians are there, that gives a certain amount of optimism.

CROWLEY: Well, as you know, a lot of people think that Israelis continuing to build in the West Bank and east Jerusalem has, sort of, infringed on, certainly, the Palestinian's willingness to come to the table. But I wanted to play you something. Our Wolf Blitzer talked to former president Bill Clinton yesterday about what was going on here. And he seemed to suggest that the Israelis actually don't want to sit down at the table. I want you to just listen to this for a minute.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILL CLINTON, FMR. PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Sooner or later, everybody's going to have to come clean here. If the current government has decided that there will be no Palestinian state and that they have no intention of having a reasonable settlement on the West Bank, and they should say that so the Palestinians can get on with their lives. And they should live with the consequences.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CROWLEY: How does that strike you?

REGEV: Well, Israel wants to see a peace agreement. We want to see a two-state solution. It's been us, the Israeli side, that have been repeatedly calling for the resumption of peace talks, and it's been the Palestinians who unfortunately have refused to come to the table and have been boycotting the peace talks. And I would ask the Palestinians, I think it's a fair question, how do you expect to make peace with Israel if you refuse to talk to Israel?

Now, we all know there are differences, there are gaps separating Israelis and Palestinians, everyone knows that. But how are you going to overcome those gaps unless you talk? Now, this strategy of the Palestinians to go to the United Nations was part of avoiding talks with Israel. I hope that what you're reporting is true, that they're taking a step back and they'll return to the peace table. CROWLEY: The phenomenon of the Arab spring, where we have seen the rights of people out on the streets, who have overturned their governments for freer expression for the ability to vote for their own government. Can you see where that phenomenon that has happened earlier this year puts the president of the United States under intense pressure for Israel to do everything it can to bring the Palestinians to the table, including stopping the West Bank and the east Jerusalem construction?

REGEV: Can I tell you that no one has to press Israel into making peace. We want to make peace. It's our lives on the line. It's our children going into the army. It's our people being attacked by terrorists. If we can get a peace deal, we'll go for it. And I think that has to be understood.

On the larger issue, Israel says, and this is what my Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu says, we are willing to start today. We were yesterday. We missed yesterday. Let's start today. Comprehensive talks, all the core issues of the conflict can be on the table, all those difficult issues that separate us. The Palestinians will bring their demands, we will bring our concerns. Let's negotiate, let's move forward in peace. We owe that to the children of both the Israelis and the Palestinians.

CROWLEY: Sir Regev, Just finally, do you think that will ever happen? You talk to so many people in the United States, and a lot of them have kind of tuned this out, because both sides sound exactly the same as they did for years.

REGEV: Well, I understand why people are frustrated. And believe me, Israelis are frustrated also. I mean, we've had Israeli governments over the last 20 years who have put on the table far- reaching proposals for peace, offering the Palestinians a full state, independence, everything that they say that they want.

Unfortunately, the Palestinian leadership has always taken a step back. I hope they've learned from their mistakes. I hope we can move forward in peace. My Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, is serious about peace. If the Palestinians are serious about peace, my prime minister can deliver a peace agreement. And I think they're making a mistake, to their own people.

CROWLEY: If I could just finally - if you are so anxious for this peace, I think people wonder, what is the harm in stopping construction?

REGEV: But we did stop construction, Candy, that's the point. This president took the unprecedented step I think that was Hillary Clinton's term, unprecedented step of doing a settlement moratorium for ten months. And what did we discovery? They still didn't come to the negotiating table. We want negotiations. We say, let's negotiate without any preconditions. They can bring all their concerns, we will bring ours. We've got to work hard to overcome the gaps. The issue of settlements, like all the other tough issues, borders, refugees, security, legitimacy, all those issues can be on the table. But the only way to solve problems is to negotiate. My prime minister, before we landed here in New York, said, President Abbas, the leader of the Palestinians, you're here in New York. Let's meet in New York and restart the process. I hope they pick up the ball.

CROWLEY: I think you and the rest of the world. Mark Regev, spokesman for the Israeli prime minister, thank you for joining us.

REGEV: My pleasure.

CROWLEY: With us now, Hanan Ashrawi, member of the PLO executive committee. Thank you so much for being here.

Let me ask you first, what your understanding is of what will happen to this petition for recognition of statehood.

HANAN ASHRAWI, MEMBER, PLO EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE: We are pressing ahead of course. We are presenting on Friday, President Mahmoud Abbas will give his speech and he will address the secretary general and present our request for membership, for full membership for Palestine and the Security Council. And we hope, as we had talked to Ban Ki- moon earlier that he would expedite this matter and see it to fruition as soon as possible. We do not want to see any needless delays. We do not want to see procrastination and we do not want to get embroiled and also technicalities.

CROWLEY: I'm sorry. I was going to ask you, is there a definition of "needless delays"?

ASHRAWI: Certainly.

CROWLEY: Could it be several weeks? Could it be several months? What's the timetable for a reaction and a vote from the Security Council?

ASHRAWI: Well, we do not control the works of the Security Council, but we know that it takes a few days, perhaps a week. I don't know how long for the quest to be processed to go to the Security Council or to be, they say, presented in a blue ink or whatever in order to be on the agenda of the Security Council. This is reasonable, we understand that. If it takes a few days, a week, I don't know. We don't know the time frame.

But if we see there are deliberate attempts at impeding our request or procrastinating or trying to prevent this from coming to a vote with and buying time to undermine our standing and our position, then, certainly, we will start considering other options, including the general assembly. But we hope we were promised by the secretary general, that there will be no delays or procrastinations, and it will proceed in accordance with U.N. standard practice.

CROWLEY: Would a couple of months be too long to consider the petition by the Security Council?

ASHRAWI: Look, we're not talking about, you know, the time itself, but a couple of months looks like it is something that is needless delayed. And unfortunately, we have been engaged in the negotiations for 20 years. I couldn't believe all that hot air we had before. Twenty years, we've been negotiating. A process for its own state, unilateral measures by Israel, building more settlements, stealing our land. Half a million settle hers now, and they stole over 40 percent of the West Bank, and then they say, let's talk. How can we talk about the two-state solution when you are bringing your own people to settle illegally, when you are taking the land, when you are building bypass roads, building apartheid walls, when you are establishing hundreds and hundreds of check points and making life miserable for Palestinians and say let's just talk.

The talks have to have a relationship to reality. They have to have substance. You have to act in accordance with the requirements of peace. You cannot act as an occupier and then bring your victim, just to sit down and talk to you forever. It's been 63 years since Israel was created on Palestinian land. It's been 44 years since Israel occupied the West Bank, including Jerusalem and Gaza. It's been 20 years since we launched the peace process. This is certainly unacceptable, because it gave Israel time and impunity to act unilaterally and to destroy the chances of peace. This is the danger now. That's why we're going to the U.N. we need international law. We need the international community. We need a minimum level of justice. Not Israeli power politics and unilateralism and American collusion, giving them legal cover and time and space to continue this.

CROWLEY: Can I turn you just to one more subject, and that is the president spoke to the U.N. today. I wonder, taking into account that speech, as well as the run-up to this diplomatic effort on the part of the Palestinians, how you feel the president of the United States has done in terms of the balance between Palestinians and Israel?

ASHRAWI: It's very sad, Candy. It really is sad. Because in the balance, the competition between principle and between self- interest, it seems that principles and values get trumped all the time and self-interest is the key. We understand the context of elections, we understand that he's being outflanked from people who are have been to the right of this extremist racist government in Israel, but at the same time, to adopt the Israeli narrative, wholesale like this, not even to mention the 67 boundaries, the existence of the occupation itself, he never mentioned, the illegal settlements. Even the humanity of the Palestinians was negated. He felt sympathetic for the Israelis, even the Jewish -

CROWLEY: So you're suggesting that U.S. elections, has been driving the president's actions, leading up to this?

ASHRAWI: At this point, yes. And I'm afraid that there has been a lot of pressure placed, I don't know, on him, by whom, but certainly, a lot of pressure, whereby even those positions that were adopted by the American administration repeatedly, he's not the first president to talk about 67. He's not the first person to, president to talk about the two-state solution. And yet, he's been under so much pressure that he has turned around his language and he's now talking about Israel as though Israel is the victim, as though the Palestinians are occupying Israel, and then he dissociated us from the Arab spring. Now, if the U.S. wants any kind of credibility or standing throughout the region, throughout the world, it cannot continue with this injustice to the Palestinian. The Arab spring talks about freedom, human dignity, self determination. These things apply to us as Palestinians under a brutal foreign military occupation. They don't just apply to Arab individuals who are struggling against their own despotic regimes.

How come we get disassociated? How comes there are sets of values applicable to everybody else, but not the Palestinians? How about when you talk to the U.N., the universality of human rights or the place where he is made, this is fine, except when it comes to the Palestinians? I think it's time for a minimal level of evenhanded and justice, and we are tired of constantly being outside the law and the Israel being a country of the law with full impunity.

CROWLEY: I'm sorry. I've got to stop there, but we want to thank you so much for your time Doctor Hanan Ashwari. We appreciate it.

ASHRAWI: My pleasure.

CROWLEY: Next up, the latest from the U.S. Supreme Court and Georgia on the pending executions of a man many people say is innocent. We are also awaiting word from Texas, where a white supremacist is scheduled to die in a case that changed this country's hate crime laws.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CROWLEY: We are awaiting a U.S. Supreme Court decision on whether Georgia can go ahead with this hour's scheduled execution of convicted murderer, Troy Davis. Atlanta TV station WXIA is reporting the Supreme Court ordered a temporary reprieve while it considers a last-minute appeal. The station reports it is not an official stay, it is a pause.

Davis is scheduled to die by lethal injection for the killing of a Savannah policeman 22 years ago. Since Davis' trial, seven of the nine witnesses against him either changed their stories or recanted their testimony. With us now, CNN Senior Legal Analyst Jeffrey Toobin. A pause? Does the Supreme Court have a pause, explain this to me.

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: I am unfamiliar with what they're talking about. I don't know what a pause is in terms of a legal order. I mean, the Supreme Court either issues an order or they don't. I think what's happened here is over the course of the day, Troy Davis' lawyers they filed an application in the trial court in Georgia, denied. Denied the stay. That was appealed to the Georgia Supreme Court. The Georgia Supreme Court late this afternoon denied that stay.

They have now gone to the United States Supreme Court and sought a stay from the final place that they can get it. As of 7:00, which was the time Troy Davis became eligible to be executed, the Supreme Court had not acted one way or another. It appears that Georgia is waiting for the Supreme Court to respond -

CROWLEY: So it may be Georgia that's in pause.

TOOBIN: It may be Georgia that's in pause. The Supreme Court either issues an order or it doesn't. And you know the Supreme Court clerk's office has a group of people who do nothing but death penalty cases. So this is not an unfamiliar procedure. What usually happens on an evening like this is they make sure that they can reach each of the nine justices. Each of the nine justices gets the paperwork in the case, and they want to make sure that all nine can act and vote on it. They have not voted yet, but it usually is a pretty prompt process, so I would expect a ruling on the stay in minute.

CROWLEY: But if I understand you correctly, Georgia could have legally gone ahead with this execution, even if the Supreme Court hadn't acted?

TOOBIN: That's right.

CROWLEY: The 7:00 came, they had every right to do it, but they decided not to.

TOOBIN: Yes. And I think that's the prudent course, since, to put it mildly there is no recourse after you've executed someone. But at the moment, as we speak, at 26 after the hour, there is no legal impediment to Troy Davis being executed right now.

CROWLEY: Now, help me here, because I think, also, this has been a very high-profile case, and they may not want to act before the Supreme Court does something. But, well, I guess what I'm wondering is, Virginia executes people with, regularity might be the wrong word, but they certainly do. Texas, we know, has a long history of executing people, and yet, this has been so high profile. Why is that?

TOOBIN: Well, because this case is, it's a very tough case, in terms of what the evidence is. You know this was entirely based on eyewitness identification and a jailhouse snitch who's been repudiated even been the prosecution. And you know the well-known fact about this case is that seven of nine witnesses have recanted their testimony. But I think it's also important to point out that the Supreme Court, in a very unusual move, ordered a federal district judge to look at al the evidence, again, and last August, Judge Moore in Savannah, Georgia, he issued a 150-page opinion, saying, even with the changes in testimony by some of the witnesses, there was enough evidence to support the verdict of guilty. There was enough evidence to support the death penalty. Judge Moore's opinion in August is really the last you be substitute word about this case, and he said that Troy Davis is guilty and that judgment has been ratified through the system.

CROWLEY: Just, I'm curious to get your thoughts on this. The murder for which this man is scheduled to be executed happened 22 years ago. So I'm not sure whether that says the justice system needs fixing or the justice system is appropriately careful. TOOBIN: Well, you know, it's one of reasons why the death penalty is so problematic, is, this can't be the right way to do it. You should either have some sort of resolution and a reasonable amount of time, or you shouldn't have a death penalty at all. We sort of compromised by having these cases string out. I mean, there are people who have been on the death row for much longer, in California there are hundreds of people on death row. And California has essentially stopped executing people.

So, you know, the system is really stalled. The interesting thing about the death penalty is, you know, we're paying a lot of attention to this case, and appropriately so, but the death penalty is really down in the United States. There are fewer executions. There are fewer death sentences, even in Texas, which, you know, has been the death penalty capital. So even as we focus on this case, it's worth pointing out in the big picture that there are many fewer death sentences and fewer executions than there have been in a long time.

CROWLEY: We also know from our polling, about 60 percent of people favor the death penalty, way down from actually when this murder occurred. But still, 60 percent. So it seems to me that if the death penalty were to be ever be declared, can't do it anymore, this is going to have to come from the Supreme Court. They do the constitutionality. Is there any case in the system, any place that has that potential?

TOOBIN: Not really, at the moment. The idea that the United States Supreme Court would say, the death penalty in the United States is unconstitutional, that's really off the table given who's on the Supreme Court right now. You know, one of the biggest reasons why the death penalty is down, it's something we don't talk about very much, but it's a very significant thing in American life, is there's a lot less crime than there used to be.

In the early '90s, you know, you were talking about 2000 murders a year in New York City. Now, 300 murders a year. The declines have been similarly steep, although not as steep, all around the country. I mean, there is just, there are a lot fewer murders. That means fewer people are eligible for the death penalty. And you know that is nothing but a good thing. I mean, you know there are less murder in the United States.

CROWLEY: Yes, we'll go for that. Jeffrey Toobin, CNN analyst. Thank you so much.

TOOBIN: So we're just watching this minute-to-minute to see how -

CROWLEY: Exactly. Exactly.

We do want to report, though, out of Texas tonight, Lawrence Russell Brewer has been executed for his crimes. He was involved in the dragging to death of a black man near Jasper, Texas. And as of tonight, Lawrence Russell Brewer has been executed for the murder of James Byrd.

Still to come, John King asks former Vice President Dick Cheney about a new book, quoting him as saying, deficits don't matter.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CROWLEY: Tonight, we have remarkable pictures from the Middle East.

(VIDEO CLIP PLAYS)

CROWLEY: A few hours ago in Oman, U.S. hikers Josh Fattal and Shane Bauer rushed into the arms of their loved ones after a jet brought them from more than two years of captivity in Iran. The two men, along with a woman companion, were captured after they strayed across the Iraqi/Iranian border while hiking. The Iranians said they were spies. Both men denied it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOSH FATTAL, RELEASED HIKER: We are so happy we are free and so relieved we are free. Our deepest gratitude goes towards his majesty, Sultan Qaboos of Oman, for obtaining our release. We're sincerely grateful to the government of Oman for hosting us and our family.

SHANE BAUER, RELEASED HIKER: Two years in prison is too long, and we sincerely hope for the freedom of other political prisoners and other unjustly imprisoned people in America and Iran.

Thank you very much.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CROWLEY: CNN's Mohammed Jamjoom is in Oman for us tonight. You were right on the tarmac as those young men came running down those plane steps. I'm not sure you have to give us the sense, but what was that like?

MOHAMMED JAMJOOM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Candy, that's right.

It was such an emotional moment. Everybody there overcome with emotion and joy. We saw tears of joy streaming down the faces of everybody involved. Josh and Shane, running down the stairs of that plane, leaping into the arms of their loved ones, who they've been separated from for so long, mothers and fathers and siblings.

And one of the things that made it even more poignant was the reunion between Shane Bauer and Sarah Shourd. They're engaged. They became engaged while they were both detained in Evin Prison. That's when Shane proposed to Sarah.

And so, that was one of the things that was most eagerly anticipated this evening, was the reunion between them. They embraced for a very long time. Shane Bauer gave a rose to Sarah Shourd. Everybody there, very much overcome with emotion. They were whisked away thereafter.

They're now in the custody of the American embassy here. We don't know how long they'll be in Oman. Officials here are telling us at least a day. We don't know exactly what's on their agenda tomorrow.

B clearly, so much joy and relief on behalf of the family who had issued a statement earlier in the day, saying this was the best day of their lives -- Candy.

CROWLEY: Why is Oman -- why does it play such a big role?

JAMJOOM: Well, Candy, Oman is seen as a go-to state here in the region when it comes to mediating disputes between the U.S. or other Western countries and Iran. It's a diplomatic rarity. This is a country that has warm relations with Iran and has warm relations with the States.

Analysts are suggesting that Oman sees this as its moment. Last year, they played an integral part in the release of Sarah Shourd. They put up the bail money to secure her release. This year, many people think they put up the bail money as well.

The Omanis aren't commenting on that. The lawyers for the hikers earlier said the Omanis were behind paying the bill today. But nonetheless, the Omanis see this at their moment, analysts say, and they're trying to play a larger role on the world stage -- Candy.

CROWLEY: Mohammed Jamjoom, out of Muscat, Oman, tonight for us -- every once in a while, you get to cover a great story. Thank you.

Next, a House vote turns into a major embarrassment for House Republican leaders and raises the possibility of a government shutdown in just 10 days.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CROWLEY: Welcome back.

Here's the latest news you need to know right now:

We've received word that Texas executed Lawrence Brewer, a 44- year-old white supremacist and one-time Ku Klux Klan leader. He took part in the 1998 dragging death of James Byrd.

The U.S. Supreme Court has not ruled on the stay of execution request from Troy Davis, who's scheduled to die by lethal injection this hour in Georgia. The justices are considering a last-minute appeal.

Late this afternoon, at least 40 conservative Republicans joined with House Democrats to defeat a bill to provide more disaster aid money to FEMA and keep the U.S. government running from October 1st through mid-November. Republicans say it spends too much and Democrats say it cuts too much.

The Federal Reserve announced a new policy to stimulate the economy by selling short-term treasury bonds in exchange for the same amount of longer term bonds. That's a move that is supposed to spur lending to consumers.

Next up, we'll hear from a Republican who some conservatives say is too moderate to be part of their party's leadership.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CROWLEY: Lamar Alexander was the second Republican in a half century to be elected governor of Tennessee. He sought the Republican presidential nomination twice since his election to the U.S. Senate. He's risen to his party's third highest leadership position. In short, there is no questioning Lamar Alexander's Republican bona fides.

But this is Washington. Republican sources tell CNN some conservatives consider Alexander too moderate and that's at least partly why he's giving up his leadership post, they say, early next year, and not seeking the number two spot.

Senator Alexander is with us now.

Senator, let me give you a chance to answer those Republican sources who say, quite frankly, in this new age of the Tea Party and conservative Republicans, you're just too moderate.

SEN. LAMAR ALEXANDER (R), TENNESSEE: Thanks, Candy. Good to be with you.

I -- that didn't have anything to do with my own decision, and I doubt it's the feeling of the Republican senators. They've already elected me three times to be the chairman of the Senate Republican conference. My reason for stepping down after four years as chairman of the conference is very simple. I wanted to spend my time working on the issues I care about and try to get some results here.

There are a lot of different ways to be in the leadership in the Senate. I'm standing in the Russell office building, named for a very famous United States senator, Richard Russell from Georgia, who was never an elected leader in the Senate, but he was a great leader.

CROWLEY: One of the things that you said in your letter to Senate Republicans caught my eye, and I just want to show it to our viewers. "I want to do more to make the Senate a more effective institution so that it can deal better with serious issues."

If you can't help make the Senate a more effective institution to deal with serious issues in the leadership, what does that tell you about the U.S. Senate right now?

ALEXANDER: Well, it says it's a very unusual place. It's a place that operates by unanimous consent.

I'll give you an example of what I can do. Shortly after I came to the Senate in 2004 or 2005, I suggested what became the gang of 14. That created an environment in which the two leaders could actually avoid bullying up the Senate with the nuclear option President Bush got his judges confirm. So those in the Senate who are willing to be good Republicans and good Democrats can still work for results to make the Senate work in a more effective way. CROWLEY: Do you have any hope that there's going to be any kind of megadeals on any subject between the Republicans and the Democrats, between now and November 2012?

ALEXANDER: Well, I surely hope so.

One, we passed the patent bill. That's an important part of creating a jobs environment. Two, we passed extensions in highways and in airports. Three, we could ratify three very important trade agreements that would permit farmers and manufactures to sell their goods overseas, if the president would just send them to us. Four, Republicans have introduced five bills to fix No Child Left Behind, which are not that different from what Secretary Duncan and the president have proposed.

So, those are all important areas of working together and they're important for the country.

CROWLEY: Senator, what do you make of the fact that the president's jobs bill is not going to be taken up by the Senate until after the recess? The president, as you know, many times, when he gave his address to the joint session of Congress that passed this bill, pass this bill now, there was great urgency about it. It doesn't strike most Americans as very urgent that you all would go off on a recess and not begin to take up this jobs bill.

Why is that, do you think?

ALEXANDER: Well, first, the president didn't send it to us until a few days ago, and then the person who decides when a jobs bill comes up is the Democratic majority leader, and he decided to play this political game to try to make people believe that there wasn't going to be disaster funding when there certainly is. He could have brought it anytime he wants to. He could bring it up today, if he wanted to.

CROWLEY: And let me turn you to one other subject that kind of goes into the campaign trail. You were critical of Texas Governor Rick Perry for saying that the president has been appeasing the Palestinian Authority in his approach to negotiations between the Palestinians and Israel.

You criticize the timing of that. He gave a speech just as the president was beginning to open a day where he was speaking to the U.N., where he has top-level meetings to avoid a diplomatic crisis in the U.N. between the Palestinians and Israel. But your quibble with his timing, does that go to the substance of what Governor Perry said? Do you believe the president had a policy of appeasement to the Palestinian Authority?

ALEXANDER: I think a lot of Governor Perry -- in fact, I gave him a pat on the back. I was asked that question this morning on your network and I said I thought that press conference might be something he wouldn't do over again in a young campaign that's only 40 days old. An d second, I patted him on the back because in the debate last week, I admired him for sticking up for his immigration position even though that was an unpopular position with the audience where he was speaking.

I think people are looking for a president who has views and who sticks to those views. So, I think Governor Romney, Governor Perry, Governor Huntsman are all terrific candidates. I think we got a chance to elect a real, executive leader. And I was trying to give him an example of where he might think twice on one issue. And second, where I thought he did a pretty darn good job.

CROWLEY: Let me ask you directly. Do you think President Obama has put forward a policy of appeasement in Palestinian Authority when it comes to negotiations?

ALEXANDER: I'm not going to say that, no.

CROWLEY: OK. Senator Lamar Alexander, thank you so much for your time.

That is Jackson, Georgia, you are seeing. Protesters on one side or the other waiting to see what will happen next. We had expected at 7:00 Eastern Time tonight, Troy Davis would die by lethal injection for the murder of Police Officer Mark MacPhail.

The Supreme Court got a last minute appeal. Georgia decided to hold off on the execution. Although it could have gone ahead, it decided to hold off pending some sort of decision from the Supreme Court. We'll have wrap-up from the scene when we get back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CROWLEY: Here's the very latest on this hour's breaking news.

This hour, Texas executed Lawrence Brewer, a 44-year-old white supremacist and one-time Ku Klux Klan leader. He took part of the 1998 dragging death of James Byrd.

The U.S. Supreme Court has not ruled on the stay of execution request from Troy Davis who is scheduled to die by lethal injection this hour in Georgia. The justices are considering a last-minute appeal.

CNN's David Mattingly is outside the prison in Jackson, Georgia where a large crowds has gathered.

The atmospherics must be amazing, because we go from sort of a certain death sentence to this pause as they called it in Georgia.

DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Candy. There was a tremendous crescendo of emotion right there at 7:00, at the time that the execution was scheduled for Troy Davis. Then there seemed to be a few moments of confusion. Then we heard a cheer go up in the crowd as they received word that this execution was on pause, so to speak, while the Supreme Court continues to look at the case.

And this is the scene that we have right now. I'm going to step out of the way here while our photographer Steve Sword (ph) moves in for you.

Across the street, you see the supporters of Troy Davis. There are hundreds of them over there carrying signs continuing to chant. A little bit quieter than they were at 7:00, but nonetheless they are making their presence known. Over here to the left, we still have the line of police officers in riot gear possibly anticipating some of those demonstrators trying to invade on to the property of the Georgia prison here. But so far, everything remaining peaceful, everything remaining orderly, everything, Candy, remaining on hold.

CROWLEY: David Mattingly in Jackson, Georgia, for us. He will be there all night as long as it takes until this comes to some conclusion, at least for the day.

CNN senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin is with us once again. First of all, what do you -- by my calculation, the Supreme Court has had this for more than an hour. What do you make of the time frame?

TOOBIN: They've actually had a couple of hours now, because the Georgia Supreme Court denied the stay late afternoon and basically at that point, Troy Davis' lawyers hit send on their documents to the Supreme Court over an hour before the 7:00 scheduled execution. So they have now had a couple of hours to look at it.

Now, there are several possibilities. It could simply be that the justices, you know, who are far flung sometimes around the world this time of year are not -- have not all had the opportunity to look at the papers and rule on it.

It may also be that one or more of them are disagreeing with each other and they're trying to reach some sort of resolution. And someone might be writing something.

So, all we know is that there has not been a decision yet. And Georgia will not act on the execution until they get an order from the U.S. Supreme Court.

CROWLEY: We heard David Mattingly talk about what was going on outside the prison. But you and I were talking. What must be going on inside that prison because we know at 7:00 he must have been strapped in?

TOOBIN: Oh, it's just an excruciating thought. Under Georgia's procedures, an hour in advance he was eligible if he wanted -- Troy Davis was eligible to receive a sedative. I don't know whether he did or not.

But certainly in the period up to 7:00, he was strapped to the gurney and the I.V. quite likely placed into his arm. But they couldn't begin the procedure until they heard from the Supreme Court.

I mean, I don't know how you feel about this a case. I don't know how you feel about the death penalty. This is just an awful excruciating scene to think about.

CROWLEY: Really, it was preceded by, I read someplace, that he has had four stays of execution in four years. And I think it gets back to what we were talking about originally, which is, it just doesn't seem the system is set up certainly not for the victim's family and not for this man who after all has faced death now five times.

TOOBIN: In the previous dates that he's been scheduled to be executed, the closest he came was two and a half hours. And at that stage, he wasn't -- you know, they don't sort of hook you up. Now --

CROWLEY: So, he had last meals and all.

TOOBIN: Yes, he certainly had last meals before and he had one today. Apparently, he didn't order any special meal. He just got the usual prison food.

It's a system that does not work very well. And if you support the death penalty or if you oppose it, this can't be right.

CROWLEY: Jeffrey Toobin, thank you so much.

That is pretty much all from us tonight.

Anderson Cooper will continue covering this story. "ANDERSON COOPER 360" starts right now.