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Tax Cut Deal Reached; Bombings in Baghdad

Aired December 22, 2011 - 22:00   ET


DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN ANCHOR: It's 10:00 p.m. here on the East Coast.

We begin tonight with breaking news. Look like no one's going to be reaching into your pocket when the Christmas bills come due. Late today, House Republicans agreed on a deal to renew those payroll tax cuts that you have been getting all year, at least for another two months. They're going to extend jobless benefits and they're going to fix Medicare funding.

If all of this sounds familiar, that's because, other than a minor change or two, it's nearly identical to the Senate legislation that passed with overwhelming bipartisan support and then House Republicans rejected earlier this week.

Now, all of that opened up a divide between House hard-liners and the GOP establishment. But by yesterday, leading Republican voices were openly calling on House Speaker John Boehner to back down, to agree to a two-month extension or risk ruining the brand.

Tonight, looking pretty grim, he did.


REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Doing the right thing for the right reasons is always the right thing to do. And while everyone asked for a full-year extension of these programs, a lot of people weren't willing to put the effort in, as the holidays were approaching, to get it done. Our members were. So, I'm proud of the efforts that they put into this.


GUPTA: Now, Dana Bash is going to join us shortly to explain the mechanics of the deal, the specifics. But President Obama was quick to praise the outcome.

The statement reading this: "This is the real money that will make a real difference in people's lives and I want to thank every American who raised your voice to remind folks in this town what this debate was all about."

And to give you an idea of some of the pressure, intense pressure lawmakers were feeling, take a look at these two entries from Republican Congressman Rick Crawford's web page. The first one is December 20. The headline reads -- quote -- "Crawford rejects irresponsible payroll tax deal." Now today, a seemingly 180 that says -- quote -- "Crawford to Boehner, let's compromise."

Joining us to explain the compromise, how it works, what it means to you, your bottom line, Dana Bash joins us now. Dana has been very busy over the last few days.

Just this morning, Dana, House Republicans were saying they weren't going to budge on this at all. What changed between that and this afternoon?

DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Even when they were saying that, Sanjay, we talked about it last night, the pressure on them was enormous.

But, first of all, this morning right after that press conference the Senate Republican leader basically issued a statement breaking his silence and really shoving the House Republicans into this position saying enough is enough effectively. You have got to go ahead and pass this two-month extension.

I'm told privately he was even more stern, that he doesn't even want any negotiations. Secondly, a very interesting thing happened. The speaker called the president this morning asking for help from the White House to negotiate something kind of a middle ground. The president refused. The White House refused to send anybody up here to the Hill so the speaker had to negotiate with the Senate majority leader.

And he tends to take a and his people tend to take a harder line than others. Lastly, I think maybe this is the most important, Sanjay, it's the constituents. People who sent them here, they were very upset. We heard from many Republican sources that the members who did go home for Christmas were hearing from people, wait a minute, you really are going to be there in Washington and you are not going to pass this extension and make sure that I have this extra money in my pocket? That's just not going to fly.

GUPTA: I want to point out something as well, Dana, that may be a formality but an important one. The speaker said he's going to get this passed unanimously without actually having to call people back to vote. But here's what congressman Mike Kelly told John King about that this evening.


JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: You could come to the Capitol tomorrow and say I object and break this deal if you don't like it. Will you do that?

REP. MIKE KELLY (R), PENNSYLVANIA: Hey, John, you know what? I'm not so sure I'm not going to do that.


GUPTA: Dana, are we sure that this is really going to happen, then, that this is going to pass tomorrow?

BASH: After covering this Congress for the past year I will not say I'm sure about anything anymore, Sanjay.

However, the speaker's office, they certainly feel pretty confident that they are going to be able to get this passed without having to call members of Congress back to actually do it in person. But I will be here tomorrow night telling you that that's going to happen tomorrow night.


GUPTA: We will get a chance to check in with you again on that tomorrow. But stay with us now, Dana.

I want to bring in John King and Candy Crowley as well.

Thanks, everybody, for joining us

John, we have been talking about this, you and I. A few days ago we heard House Republicans making these sort of "Braveheart"-type references almost about fighting to the end. But this looks like a surrender. Does it? Is it?

KING: They fought to the end and they surrendered, yes. They can say they did both, yes. They're getting a small tweak in the language here, but they caved. And they caved under relentless pressure. Dana just went through it.

You have a president who used the bully pulpit today. He used it very effectively over the course of the last week or so. Today he surrounded himself with real people today and said these were the people who would be hurt by this. Most importantly, you have the Senate Republican leader who essentially said, look, I cut this deal with the Democrats.

A majority of my Republican members voted for it so the Republicans lost their leverage when that happened. When you had a majority of Republicans in the Senate voting for the two-month extension, they lost their leverage in Washington politically and they were losing the narrative out in the country politically as well heading into an election year, Sanjay, so they cut their losses.

GUPTA: Candy, if you give us a little peek behind the curtain here, was there a sense, do you think, that the Republicans thought that they could really win on this issue?

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: As hard as this is to believe, I have to tell you the great mystery of this is that this was such a losing issue for the Republicans from the start of this six weeks ago.

When you looked at it, there is no way that you could allow this tax cut on payroll -- on the payroll tax to expire without people saying, wait a minute. The Republicans fought all year long against tax increases for millionaires and now they're doing a tax increase on the middle class. That's exactly how the Democrats portrayed it from the very beginning. And here is a party, the Republicans, who has spent an entire year saying we can't do any tax increases. It just was a very, very hard one to do. I must say, I think that there were some in the Tea Party portion of the Republican Party on the House side that saw a string of victories that they have been able to have, often working with the president, which may be why the president sent John Boehner back to Harry Reid.

But, nonetheless, they may have been encouraged by past victories. But you know what? We're on an election eve year. It just didn't work this time.

GUPTA: I want to sort of explore some of those details, Dana, that Candy's bringing up. We like to keep them honest here on 360 as you know. Again, people should know this is just a two-month fix. They're promised as part of this that they will start negotiating right away on a yearlong extension.

But we don't have a guarantee that will happen. That was part of the resistance that we heard from the House Republicans, right?

BASH: That's exactly right. The resistance even more importantly from the Senate Democrats, why they felt that they needed and Senate Republicans, why they needed this two-month extension.

The issue at this point in time is that everybody says they want the one-year extension, but how do you pay for it? The whole package itself costs between $120 billion and $160 billion. The whole reason why they had this short-term fix in the Senate is because they couldn't come to an agreement on how to pay for it.

Does it sound familiar? It should, because this is the issue we have seen really all throughout the year on various battles. How do you pay for it to make sure that the debt and deficit don't go up? And there are partisan divides on just how to do that. That is not going to stop. It's going to continue. It won't be easy for them to come together on even this yearlong extension even if they have more time.

GUPTA: Right. Speaking of paying for it, one of the narratives, John King, that was part of this as well was that millionaires were going to get taxed to help pay for this. That's not part of this deal. Given that, were you surprised in part by some of the statements from Democrats that sounded a bit like they were gloating?

KING: Well, they're gloating today but you make an important point. The Democrats have not gotten what they want and that is to change the tax rates to have millionaires pay more. That's what they wanted to pay for this.

So, Sanjay, the Democrats can gloat today. The Republicans blinked and the Republicans backed down. But when we come back from the holidays, as Candy notes, we will actually be in 2012, we will be in the election year, not just talking about the election year. All of these issues will come back up. When they negotiate the long term, as Dana just noted, they will have to pay for it. They won't get their tax increase on millionaires most likely. Republicans won't agree to that.

What programs are you going to cut? That's a tough one for Democrats in an election year. Then we're talking about a tiny issue here, the payroll tax. There are a lot of people who don't like this because it comes out of the Social Security trust fund. But what about all the other -- the George W. Bush tax cuts are about to expire. We're going to get into a tax cut debate again next year. The Republicans will use the quotes the Democrats said this week. How could they possibly raise taxes right now? Those quotes will come back when this debate -- this chapter is closed but the fight's not over.

GUPTA: Absolutely. I think we will hear some of these sound bites. People are going to be held accountable for some time to come for those words.

Candy, any idea of the impact of this on any of the Republican candidates? Are people feeling on the defensive? Should they be engaging more?

CROWLEY: I will tell you, the Republican candidates stayed about as far away from this as you can possibly could get with the exception of Michele Bachmann, who said, no, this is a quick fix. This is a Band-Aid. This isn't -- et cetera, et cetera.

This was not something they particularly wanted to get into because what was driving the opposition was the Tea Party. What's driving the primaries is the Tea Party. You don't want to get caught between the Tea Party.

GUPTA: Right. Right.

And I couldn't help but notice, Dana, if you looked at Speaker Boehner's demeanor, and you talked to him directly, but if you noticed his demeanor in the presser tonight, he just did not seem happy at all. You get this idea he's leading this caucus filled with people who don't care as much about the political consequences. How tough a year has this been for him, do you think?

BASH: Obviously, it's been a great year because he became speaker of the House, but incredibly tough, Sanjay. You're exactly right.

I was struck by something Candy said earlier about the fact this was obviously a politically terrible idea for Republicans from the beginning to fight this fight. But guess what? The House speaker didn't have much of a choice. He is a very smart politician. There's no question he knew that this is a bad political fight to pick, but he had a conference, Republican Caucus which revolted when he said he wanted to make this deal on a two-month extension.

So there is no question it's been incredibly tough for him. So far he navigated it pretty well. I'm told on this conference call that he had this evening with members of his conference, generally he comes to them and he asks them for approval. Not this time. He said, this is my deal. This is what I struck and this is what I'm doing, did not take any questions and it was over. I was told that he sounded -- quote -- "tired and ticked off."

GUPTA: I bet. We saw a lot of this unfold. Fascinating insights. Really appreciate it. Happy holidays, guys. Thanks for joining us, Dana Bash, John King, Candy Crowley. Thanks so much.

Let us know what you think as well at home. We're on Facebook, Google+ as well. You can follow me on Twitter @SanjayGuptaCNN. I will be tweeting tonight.

Up next, though, Speaker Boehner, President Obama, who benefits from today's breaking news? The answer might not be as simple as some of the pundits are claiming. We will have Paul Begala and Ari Fleischer join us with some insights you might not see coming.

Later, does a wave of deadly bombings mean that things are unraveling in Iraq? You will hear from an expert who says the region now is bracing for civil war.

First, though, let's check in with Isha Sesay -- Isha.

ISHA SESAY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Sanjay, tonight can you trust a dog's nose to put someone at the scene of a crime? We will tell you about a woman who's actually doing time because one dog did just that. Was it legit or is it another example of junk science in court?

That and much more -- when 360 continues.


GUPTA: Our breaking news tonight, Congress is back on track to renew the payroll tax cut.

House Speaker Boehner this evening bringing his Republican members back on board saying this about his earlier opposition to a deal -- quote -- "It may not have been politically the smartest thing in the world."

More now on what this means for the speaker, for Republicans, for President Obama, here to talk about it tonight, Democratic strategist Paul Begala and former Bush White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer.

Ari, let me start with you. Everyone seems to think the Republicans really lost the optics on this tax cut issue. What exactly do you think went wrong here for them?

ARI FLEISCHER, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I think what when wrong is House Republican's put perceptions first. They actually tried to do something long term. It's exactly why the Tea Party got elected to change the usual way Washington does the business.

My message to the president and to Senator Harry Reid is congratulations. You're now governing in two-month increments. What a wonderful way to lead a country. I think that's what they did first. They mistook Washington for a town in which you could try to do something for a yearlong, call it long term and do the right thing. Politically it didn't work.

GUPTA: But you have to agree, Ari, that a lot of people who have been paying attention on both sides of the aisle say, look, the optics of this in the end was that the House Republicans looked like they weren't going to allow this tax cut to happen. That's a core issue for them.

FLEISCHER: No, Republicans passed a measure that cut taxes for one year. It was the Senate that didn't let that happen. I don't think there's any dispute about that fact. They got into a dispute about whether the tax cut should be two months or one year and then you had a Washington standoff.

But they actually literally passed a one-year tax cut. The notion that Republicans aren't for tax cuts is a laughable notion. Republicans always have been for them, always will be. What's happening is the Democrats are getting dragged along to the Republican position. They did outmaneuver the Republicans in terms of the December 31 deadline.

GUPTA: And one of the things you brought up, Ari, when we talked about this earlier in the week, and, Paul, I want to ask you about this, is a little bit more about what this deal is all about, and the substance. For example, what is paying for these tax cuts? One of the things the president wanted, Paul, all along was taxing millionaires to help pay for these tax cuts.

He didn't get that. Is this an unqualified victory for President Obama and the Dems?

PAUL BEGALA, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I think that's a very good point.

That's the real dispute. The dispute is not between -- Democrats didn't want two months and Republicans wanted a year. What happened is Republicans wanted a yearlong tax cut for the middle class paid for, so we wouldn't lose the money out of Social Security, because the payroll tax comes out of the Social Security trust fund. We don't want to lose that revenue to Social Security.

So Democrats put forward a proposal that would ask citizens who make more than a million a year to pay 1.9 percent more, less than two pennies on the dollar after you make a million bucks to pay for this middle-class tax cut. It was good economics. It was good politics.

That's where the Republicans balked, because, see, they don't actually believe in tax cuts, per se, not if they go to the middle class. But when it's about the rich, they will pay any price, bear any burden, defend any friend, oppose any foe to make sure that millionaires and billionaires don't have to pay even two pennies, two pennies more.

That's really the heart of the Republican problem is that they're seen now as the party of the wealthy elite and the Democrats are now seen as the party of the middle class. That's what this fight was about. GUPTA: Ari, I want you to respond to that. But also the issue all along was exactly how this was going to be paid for. That does seem to have gotten buried over the last couple of weeks in discussing this.

FLEISCHER: Well, Paul's exactly right. The Democrats always want to pay for everything with another tax hike on somebody. That's why taxes always go up when you have the Democrats in charge.

The reason that's so destructive, especially for Social Security, is that if Social Security is no longer a retirement fund, in which you take money, and you give it to the government, they're supposed to invest it for you in Social Security. They're supposed to not spend it which they always do. But as soon as you break the bond where your money that comes out of your payroll taxes goes for your Social Security and you pay for it out of general revenues, it's a welfare program.

You have broken the bond that FDR and LBJ and all of those who came before us fought for. Now Social Security is nothing but another redistribution of income program. And to extend Paul's logic, one year from now when this same tax cut is up again, what will they do? Let's tax somebody else and make them pay for somebody else's Social Security. Let's just abolish all payroll taxes in that case and make it all come out of income taxes. That's the inevitable logic of what Paul is pursuing.

GUPTA: Happy holidays to both of you.

Ari Fleischer, thanks for joining us.

Paul Begala, I know you're spending some time with your mother tonight as well. Wish her a happy holidays as well. Thanks.

BEGALA: I will, Sanjay. Thanks.

And happy holidays, Ari, to you, too.

FLEISCHER: Thank you, guys. Thanks, all. Thank you.

GUPTA: In Iraq now with U.S. troops gone, the violence is ramping up. A string of coordinated attacks killing more than 60 people today in Baghdad. What does this exactly say about security there without American forces and could this be a step towards civil war? A lot of people asking this.

Plus, former players suing the NFL. They say the league misrepresented the impact of concussions after their days on the gridiron are over. The NFL's response -- when 360 continues.


GUPTA: A wave of bombings across Baghdad today killing more than 60 people. Now, it's been just less than a week after the last American troops left Iraq. But already some are comparing this to the worst days of the insurgency, when sectarian violence brought the country to the brink of civil war.

The list of targets includes a market, a coffee shop, even a school just as children were arriving for class. They hit almost exclusively a neighborhood shared by both Shias and Sunnis. The bombings are raising fears that the power vacuum left by U.S. troops is setting the stage for a battle between al Qaeda-linked Sunni fighters and Shiite militias sponsored by Iran.

To talk about it, let's bring in Arwa Damon who is live in Baghdad and also former CIA director Robert Baer. He's a columnist for and also the co-author of the book "The Company We Keep."

Thanks to both of you for joining us.

Arwa, I have read some of what you have written today. You say what's happening right now is the Iraqis' worst nightmare. What is the latest that you're seeing there from Baghdad?

ARWA DAMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Sanjay, when we just think about what took place here, 16 explosions in the span of two hours during morning rush hour, this very much is exactly what many Iraqis feared would take place when the U.S. military withdrew.

This casts a huge question mark as to whether or not the Iraqi security forces can actually protect the population. It wasn't just the explosions in the morning. There were four explosions that took place at night as well. And so once again, civilians are thrown into the mind-set of that utmost fear not knowing if when you leave your house you're going to see your loved ones again.

GUPTA: I can't imagine living under those circumstances.

Bob, you say it could be even potentially worse than that. You say your sources inside Iraq tell you that they're already stockpiling weapons for a potential all-out civil war?

ROBERT BAER, FORMER CIA OFFICER: I have got multiple calls today from people inside that really are worried about a civil war. They think that Maliki is going to make a grab for power, that there will be ethnic cleansing in Baghdad. Sunnis will be forced out, and there's some sort of defense of western Iraq, which is mainly Iraq, in the north.

The indictment -- or not the indictment, but the arrest warrant for the vice president is a really bad sign and they're taking it as a bad sign. And they are preparing for the worst.

GUPTA: So you're talking about the prime minister who's Shia. The vice president that you're talking about who has this warrant out is Sunni.

Arwa, you have talked about the fact that many of these attacks have the hallmarks of an al Qaeda affiliate in Iraq. How much do you believe this is sectarian score settling? How much do you think it's terrorist groups just sort of asserting their control in this power vacuum? DAMON: Well, Sanjay, all of that kind of morphs together in this gray area when it comes to Iraq.

The attacks that we saw taking place today appear to bear the hallmarks of al Qaeda, of al Qaeda-linked groups just because of the level of sophistication and coordination amongst them.

That being said, there is also the reality here that with this political instability, a vacuum is created. And that vacuum tends to be filled by violent extremist groups from both sides of the spectrum, groups who don't believe that dialogue is the way to settle political disputes, but, rather, that violence is.

The great concern again is that this is once again going to set off that cycle of tit-for-tat Sunni vs. Shia attacks.

GUPTA: To be clear, Bob, there are still 17,000 American diplomats and private security contractors in Iraq, many concentrated in the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad.

You have said you're very concerned as well about the safety of those people, is that right?

BAER: Well, the security forces are contractors. They're well- qualified, but they can't contain an assault from a militia group.

Muqtada al-Sadr has talked about the embassy being too large. It's vulnerable. In the event of a civil war even right now, it could come under attack. I think the State Department should be very worried about that, and we could have to rescue that mission.

GUPTA: Arwa, there on the ground, given that there's no military muscle to speak of left in the country, does the United States have any influence on events happening there on the ground?

DAMON: Not a lot, Sanjay.

The U.S. doesn't have a really strong trump card that it can play against the Iraqis to try to force or influence what's happening here. The best that they can do right now is to urge these various leaders to try to sit around a negotiating table. The political crisis right now is actually monumental.

You have the government collapsing like a house of cards each side by the day growing more polarized against the other. It's Sunni vs. Shia, Arab vs. Kurd. All of these various fault lines that are existing are crumbling apart. There are so many points that are percolating that at any given moment in time could erupt into war along any sort of sectarian or ethnic line.

GUPTA: And, Bob, building on what Arwa is saying, Iran has been long been talked about as the real power player potentially in Iraq. What are your sources telling you in regards to how the Iranians are involved in this and the relationship with Maliki?

BAER: There is a power vacuum there and you will see three powers being sucked into this conflict if it turns bad. And that would be Iran. It would include Turkey and Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia has said it will defend the Sunni. And I think they will. I think it will send it arms, it will send it money.

The Iranians can't avoid getting involved against -- I'm not sure they want to, but if it turns a civil war, they will. And Turkey has to worry about the Kurdish north.

GUPTA: Bob Baer, thanks so much.

Arwa Damon, please stay safe out there, as always.

There's a lot more that is going on, though, tonight.

Isha Sesay joins us again with a 360 news and business bulletin -- Isha.

SESAY: Sanjay, we're getting our first look today at what one activist group called a massacre on the streets of Idlib province in Syria. It happened two days ago. And be warned, the pictures are graphic. The group says people were surrounded by security and military forces, then slaughtered. Another group said 35 more people died today in clashes throughout the country.

A 360 follow on an investigation about a controversial contract for an experimental drug to treat smallpox called ST-246. The Obama administration awarded the $432 million contract to SIGA Technologies. Several Republican congressmen have signed a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius demanding details on the deal.

They say -- quote -- "We're interested in obtaining more information about the threat of smallpox, the HHS strategy to address this threat, the basis for the cost of the procurement, and the evidence supporting the department's belief that the contract requirement of FDA approval of ST-246 will be achieved."

SIGA's biggest shareholder is Ronald Perelman, a major contributor to the Democratic Party.

Wal-Mart is voluntarily pulling cans of infant formula off the shelves of all its stores after a baby died of a rare bacterial infection. It's Enfamil newborn powdered that's involved in the case. But, so far, they're being cautious, and no link has been made between the formula and the baby's death.

Four former NFL players are suing the league, saying they failed to properly inform them of the long-term effects of head injuries, especially concussions. The league responded, saying it has long made player safety a priority.

And Sanjay, doctors in England removed a felt tip pen from a woman's stomach. It had been there for 25 years. And guess what? Yes. It still writes. The woman told doctors she swallowed the pen while using it to poke at her tonsils. We don't know why. She forgot about it until she went in for tests and doctors found the pen lodged in her tummy.

GUPTA: You know what this reminds me of, Isha? The old adage, the pen is mightier than the -- in this case, the pen is mightier than the hydrochloric acid in your stomach.

SESAY: That's such a geeky...

GUPTA: The doctor writes hello. I mean, come on.

SESAY: That is such a doctor joke.

GUPTA: Come on. You got it. You got it.


GUPTA: She's always calling me a geek or a nerd. I'm not sure.

SESAY: Let the audience decide. You did just say the pen is mightier than the hydrochloric acid in your stomach.

GUPTA: I know.

SESAY: Keep going.

GUPTA: Still ahead for all of you, serious stuff: a "360 Investigation." They catch criminals simply by following their nose. Scent dogs. They've become a valued investigative tool. The question is: are these canine cops reliable enough to send someone to prison for life? Or are their dogged pursuits another kind of junk science?

Also, two sworn enemies, one shared border. How soldiers defend one part of a dangerous crossing with mean looks, loud voices. We'll explain when 360 continues.


GUPTA: This week we've been taking a look at the science involved in catching criminals, the amazing breakthroughs we see on popular television shows that may or may not be quite so amazing in the real world.

Now, police have long used scenting dogs to search out suspects or look for evidence. And lately, more and more evidence found by these canines is being relied on to convict criminals. The question is how reliable is the evidence they provide? Here's Tom Foreman.


TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Across the country in places like Vincent, Alabama, dogs like these are being trained to help investigate crimes. They are energetic, smart, and one of them could put you into jail. Just ask Professor Larry Myers of Auburn University. He spent a lifetime studying their abilities, and he says they can even identify murder suspects.

(on camera) So they're fully capable of doing this? LARRY MYERS, AUBURN UNIVERSITY: Yes. Oh, yes. If trained properly and if they're in good health, yes. Yes. Capable.

FOREMAN (voice-over): Sound farfetched? Not in Cold Spring, Texas. That's where a few years back a school janitor named Murray Burr (ph) was murdered, stabbed dozens of times in his home, and this young woman, Megan (ph) Winfrey, was convicted of the killing, in part, because a dog, by scent alone, put her at the murder scene. Now she's in prison serving a life sentence.

RICHARD WINFREY, FATHER OF SUSPECT: The dog scent thing, that's the most -- that's the biggest joke there ever was.

FOREMAN: Her father, Richard, was stunned that the evidence stood up. After all, he and Megan's (ph) brother were also identified as suspects by that dog. But the courts dropped the charges after deciding the dog evidence was fatally flawed.

RICHARD WINFREY JR., BROTHER OF SUSPECT: I just can't believe that that's even thought of, that they can take somebody's life away over a dog.

FOREMAN: So how are dogs trained for so-called scent lineups? Professional trainer and police officer, David Latimer (ph), gave us a demonstration with some unused pizza boxes. The targets, in this case, vials of bedbugs, but in a crime it may be bits of clothing from the suspects and others would be placed where a dog could only smell them.

DAVID LATIMER (PH), TRAINER: We're going to close the box so that there's no visual cue.

FOREMAN: The dog would then be given the scent from, say, the crime scene and brought in to sniff around. If he sits in front of a sample, he's matched a suspect to the crime.


FOREMAN: But here's the problem. If the handler knows what investigators want with a slight nod, pause, or even a blink, he can send a signal.

(on camera) So there are many, many different ways in which you could accidentally tell the dog where the target was?

LATIMER (ph): Right. And to be fair, it's usually unintentional.

FOREMAN (voice-over): The trainer whose dog helped convict Megan (ph) Winfrey is involved in a lawsuit on another case and doesn't want to talk about Winfrey's. But Professor Myers, who's taken part in hundreds of cases, including hers, says the dog handling there was abysmal. He has complete faith in scent lineups, since the dogs are well-trained and guidelines are followed, but that rarely happens.

(on camera) Is this more science or art? MYERS: It is an art mostly that needs to become science if it's going to be used in a court of law or for other critical issues.

FOREMAN (voice-over): Authorities in Texas found no DNA linking Megan (ph) to the murder. They did, however, find people who testified that she talked about the crime. Still, even the prosecutors are cautious about dog evidence.

RICHARD COUNTISS: It should be corroborated. It should not be -- a person should not be convicted solely on a dog scent.

FOREMAN: Megan (ph) is waiting on her latest appeal, and her letters home seem optimistic.

RICHARD WINFREY JR.: I've never been this hopeful.

FOREMAN: Then again her family never thought she'd wind up in jail, in large parts on the word of a dog.

Tom Foreman, CNN, Vincent, Alabama.


GUPTA: Lots of questions about this. Want to dig deeper, so we spoke earlier with CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin and also Dr. Laurence Kobilinsky at New York's John Jay College of Criminal Justice.


GUPTA: So Jeff, I mean, best we can tell, Megan (ph) Winfrey was charged in connection with the murder of this high school janitor back in 2004. There was no physical evidence, no DNA, really nothing that linked Winfrey to the scene. Everything was circumstantial except for the dog scenting, which was considered scientific evidence. I mean, should it be -- should we be in a place where dog scenting could be relied on as the only scientific evidence?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: You know, there's some legitimate controversies about some of these areas like blood spatter, bite, bite mark evidence, but this is an absolute travesty. The idea that you could ever rely on dog scenting as evidence that could lead to someone being convicted of a serious crime.

We don't know how good dogs are. I mean, you know, we've all loved dogs, and we all think dogs are very smart, but how often do dogs make mistakes? How often can a dog tell the difference between a true scent and a mistake? We have no statistics. we just have anecdotal evidence. And the idea that this was allowed in a courtroom is just a disgrace.

GUPTA: And again, I heard the story along with you. I was quite surprised by it, but Dr. K, I mean, you hear this all the time. Dog handlers who say their dogs can track scents across water, for long distances. There's been calls for tougher certification standards. What about this case? I mean, were you surprised by it? LAWRENCE KOBILINSKY, FORENSIC EXPERT: I was. I think one has to be very careful when working with dogs. I've never seen a dog testify on the stand. And I worry, quite frankly, about false positives as well as false negatives.

And in fact, you can't really talk about dogs in general because every dog is unique and different. The training for a particular dog will be different from the training for the next dog. And we really don't know if the dog is just excited about a cadaver or drugs or whatever it's trained to sniff out, or it may be catching the scent of another dog of the opposite sex.

So I have a lot of questions about this. I would say it's not science. I would say it's great for an investigative lead, great for law enforcement, but not ready for the courtroom.

TOOBIN: Right. I think that's an important point. It's not like dogs should never be used. If you want to try to find someone or find a body that hasn't been located and you use a dog to get to the location, that's great. Then you get the evidence at the location that can be scientifically investigated.

GUPTA: Dr. K, you were involved to some degree with the Casey Anthony trial. One of the things that came up there, a lot of people remember was the scent, for example, that emanated from the trunk. People trying to make sense of what that was, what it represented. I mean, how useful is evidence like that, the idea of aromas, scents being called into question here?

KOBILINSKY: Well, again, if you're using a dog and it's reacting to the scent, it gives you an investigative lead, perhaps. But if you try to prove it through instrumental analysis, as what happened in the Casey case, then that testing had better be published. It had better be validated. It had -- it has to go through a series of different kinds of tests to show that it's reliable information or else it never should end up in the courtroom.

GUPTA: Fascinating series, guys. I learned a lot. I really appreciate it. Dr. Laurence K., Jeff Toobin, thanks so much.


GUPTA: And still ahead, we have some incredible video of a showdown on the India/Pakistan border. A war game, literally, that's been going on for decades. We get the story behind the ceremony.

Also ahead, No. 7 on Anderson's "RidicuList" countdown. Tonight, for anyone who messes with Matt Damon.


GUPTA: Pakistan is disputing the results of the Pentagon's investigation into last month's air strike that killed 24 of their soldiers. The Defense Department's report blames a string of mistakes fueled by miscommunication, poor coordination, and distrust. It says the incident started when American soldiers came under fire. The Pakistani intelligence officials dispute this, telling CNN the U.S. fired first and it was Pakistani's returning fire that prompted the air strike.

Now, while all of this is raising tension between two strained allies, Pakistan's chilly relationship with neighboring India is showing signs of a thaw. That may be hard to tell from one busy border crossing where half a century it's still business as usual. And it's something you have to see to believe. Reza Sayah has the story.


REZA SAYAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Who's tougher? Who's stronger? Who's got more swagger? This is the daily showdown between nuclear neighbors Pakistan and India at the Waga (ph) border crossing just outside of Lahore.

This war dance is a symbol of six decades of bad blood and mistrust, sparked by a violent separation in 1947 after British rule, then fuelled by three wars, a nuclear standoff, and a seemingly endless barrage of accusations from both sides. Ever since 1959, the long-time rivals' border guards have met here at sunset and faced off in a flag lowering ceremony.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's just involves spirit and patriotism.

SAYAH: Each angry stomp, each glare, another dagger in this battle of bravado.

(on camera) If you want to know what India and Pakistan's often bitter rivalry feels like, this is where you come.

(voice-over) The ceremony starts with a furious 50-yard march to the border gates. Then comes the stare downs, followed by the synchronized lowering of the flags.

The event is one of the region's most popular tourist attractions. Thousands line the stands on each side of the border. The stronger the scowls, the louder the roar.

Few electrify the Pakistani crowds more than Sergeant Tariq Mahmoud (Ph). At 6'6", 240 pounds, no border guard here is bigger. The towering figure, who doesn't speak on camera, but makes clear that his country is not to be messed with.

(on camera) But over the past years, though, there's been some developments and some signs that show maybe, just maybe this icy relationship is thawing.

(voice-over) Pakistan and India are meeting again: leaders talking peace not pointing fingers. And work is underway to expand trade.

Despite signs of improved relations, the border gates are still slammed shut after every ceremony. Erasing half a century of mistrust takes time, analysts say. Until then conflict, not peace, defines Pakistan/Indian relations.

Reza Sayah, CNN, Waga (ph), Pakistan.


GUPTA: I've actually been to that part of Pakistan just outside Lahore. And it's amazing to think for nearly 60 years now ceremonies like that have been going on. It may be, as Reza said, a little bit of a sign of thawing of some pretty chilly relationships.

We are following several other stories tonight, as well, and Isha Sesay joins us again with a "360 Bulletin" -- Isha.

SESAY: Sanjay, breaking news. Two magnitude 5.8 earthquakes have hit New Zealand near the city of Christ Church. There's no word on damages or casualties. Christ Church is still recovering from a 6.3 magnitude quake that devastated the city in February, killing more than 150 people.

Here at home a new National Park Service report shows the Washington Monument has extensive cracks near its peak and rainfall leaks into various areas of the structure. The monument has been closed since a magnitude 5.8 quake hit the area in August.

John Edwards' legal team is asking for another delay in his criminal trial that's supposed to start next month. This time, they're citing an unexpected medical issue but gave no specifics. The former presidential candidate has pleaded not guilty to several charges, including violating campaign contribution laws.

Did you get a visit from a Brown-suited elf today? It's the busiest day for UPS, with 26 million packages expected to be delivered today alone. That is almost 300 packages a second.

Meanwhile, a Fed Ex executive has taken to YouTube to apologize for the actions of this delivery guy in California, who tossed a box containing a computer monitor over a fence, saying his actions go against the company's values. This video of the incident has more than 5 million hits on YouTube.

The person expecting the delivery says they were at home at the time, and all the guy had to do was ring the bell.

As for the worker's punishment, the executive would only say he no longer works with customers -- Sanjay.

GUPTA: And "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" is ahead at 11 p.m. Eastern. Erin, good evening. What do you have on the show tonight?

ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: Sanjay, we're continuing to cover that breaking news on the payroll, the Republicans caving.

Republican Senator Scott Brown had been really vocal. He's in a tight race for reelection up in Massachusetts. He said House Republicans were being irresponsible in not doing a deal. He comes "OUTFRONT" tonight to talk about what comes next, whether there really is room for compromise.

Then we're also going to talk to the governor of Iowa. He sees a sleeper rise. I'll put it that way. Someone who may be on the rise and a real upset in Iowa. We're going to tell you exactly what that is.

And then the battle between the super powers. There is a big event happening in the middle of the Pacific, Sanjay. I mean, an event of feast and fireworks. It could be a big blow to America. We're going to tell you what it is. Coming up top of the hour.

Back to you.

GUPTA: Erin, thanks.

Up next tonight our countdown of the top ten "RidicuLists" of 2011. And tonight, No. 7 a little reminder of why no one should mess with Matt Damon.


GUPTA: We've been counting town the top ten RidicuLists of the year based on your votes. Well, tonight we have No. 7, when someone was caught on tape messing with Matt Damon. Here's Anderson back in August.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Tonight we're adding anyone -- and I mean anyone -- who messes with Matt Damon. Just don't do it, people. Don't mess with Matt Damon.

As a big fan of Matt Damon, and I am, I know not to mess with him. Not that I ever would even want to. But some folks, they haven't learned that. It's a lesson that a certain reporter and a certain cameraman had to learn the hard way over the weekend.

Matt was in -- and I think I can call him Matt. Matt was in Washington for a "Save Our Schools" rally along with his mom who's a teacher. He spoke out against teachers' job security being based on how students perform in a standardized test. Afterward, some reporter from, I think, a libertarian Web site called Reason.TV took him to task. Watch this.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In acting there is -- there isn't job security, right? There's an incentive to work hard and be a better actor because you want to have a job. So why isn't it like that for teachers?

MATT DAMON, ACTOR: Do you think -- do you think job insecurity is what makes me work hard?

(END VIDEO CLIP) COOPER: See, right there, she just messed up. She just messed with Matt Damon. Not a good idea. And now she's about to get a well- reasoned, highly intellectual smack down, a Smatt-down, if you will. Granted, it isn't as explody as "The Bourne Identity," but I have to say, it is still awfully thrilling to watch.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, you have an incentive to work harder.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's not an incentive. That's the thing. You take this MBA style of thinking. It's the problem with Ed. policy right now. It's this intrinsically paternalistic view of problems that are much more complex than that.


COOPER: Snap. Holy dictionary, Matt-mann. He just said intrinsically paternalistic view. I think Matt Damon just proved once and for all that his brain is a whole lot more "Good Will Hunting" than it is Team America.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Matt Damon. Matt Damon.


COOPER: OK, yes, Trey Parker and Matt Stone messed with Matt Damon over and over again, but they are brilliant so they get a pass. This reporter? We're talking about not so much. And Matt isn't quite done making his point.


DAMON: A teacher wants to teach. I mean, why else would you take a (EXPLETIVE DELETED) salary and really long hours and do that job unless you really love to do it?


COOPER: She messed with Matt Damon and she is facing the dragon. Now, people can debate all day about Ed. policy. That's the cool way to say education policy, which I just learned from Matt Damon.

But good teachers are highly dedicated and should be compensated appropriately. Stand by, though. Stand by. A cameraman is about to mess with Matt Damon.


DAMON: So 10 percent of teachers are bad.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Where did you get that number?

DAMON: OK. But I mean, maybe you're a (EXPLETIVE DELETED) cameraman.


COOPER: Matt Damon doesn't need special effects or stunt doubles or even hair to go all action adventure on someone. His words are his nunchucks. By the way, don't mess with Matt Damon's mom, either. Could we see that again?


DAMON: 10 percent of teachers are bad.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Where did you get that number?


COOPER: Go, Matt Damon's mom. I love how she just jumped in there. Where did you get that number, sonny. I bet she's a great teacher, great mom and really proud of her son. He's an Oscar-winning screenwriter, a really good actor, and he has great taste in the ladies.



DAMON (singing): She's (EXPLETIVE DELETED) Matt Damon.

SILVERMAN (singing): I'm (EXPLETIVE DELETED) Matt Damon.

DAMON (singing): She's (EXPLETIVE DELETED) Matt Damon.


COOPER: I know it's old, but I still think it's funny.

All right. So let's bring it all home, Damon style. Unless you're Sara Silverman or Trey Parker or Matt Stone, a word for the wise: don't mess with Matt Damon. And if you do you'll end up smatted down and on "The RidicuList."


GUPTA: And Anderson will be back Monday to continue our "RidicuList" countdown. That does it for this issue of 360. Thanks for watching. "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts now.