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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES

All Ten Democratic Presidential Candidates Debate; Report Indicates U.S. Sources Have Found No Signs of Weapons in Iraq

Aired September 25, 2003 - 19:00   ET

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

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
ANDERSON COOPER, HOST (voice-over): Ten Democrats all in a row. Did anyone rise above the crowd?

The Nigerian mother sentenced to death by stoning is free.

And Duct tape discipline: you won't believe how first graders at this schedule are punished.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ANNOUNCER: Live from the CNN broadcast center in New York, this is ANDERSON COOPER 360.

COOPER: Good evening to you. Thanks for joining us on 360. We've got a lot going on we're following tonight.

An intriguing legal move by federal prosecutors in the case of accused terrorist Zacarias Moussaoui. They're asking the judge in the case to dismiss all charges, hoping an appeals court might be more friendly to their arguments. They don't want to give Moussaoui access to three al Qaeda detainees, as he has asked, and the judge had ordered.

We're going to follow this case. We're going to talk about it later on with Lisa Bloom of Court TV.

And a series of powerful earthquakes shake northern Japan. Take a look. The latest on the injuries and damage.

All that ahead.

We begin, however, with the 10 Democratic presidential candidates doing battle for the first time with a general in the room. We're talking, or course, about retired General Wesley Clark. He is someone who has managed to steal some thunder, you might say, from the Democrat who had the most thunder as of just a few weeks ago, former Vermont governor, Howard Dean.

The debate was held at Pace University, right here in New York. It wrapped up not too long ago. So let's go right to CNN's Jonathan Karl -- Jon.

JONATHAN KARL, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, all eyes were on the retired general. He took the stage, started off the debate with an attack on the current president, saying George Bush has taken America recklessly to war in Iraq and recklessly raised tax cuts -- tax cuts here at home. Then he went on presented his credentials as a newly minted Democrat.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WESLEY CLARK (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I am pro-choice. I am pro-affirmative action. I'm pro-environment, pro-health. I believe the United States should engage with allies. We should be a good player in the international community, and we should use force only as a last resort. That's why I'm proud to be a Democrat.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KARL: But the fireworks came elsewhere from the other Democrats, almost all of whom attacked former Vermont governor Howard Dean. First you had senators Lieberman, Kerry and Edwards saying that Dean wants to raise taxes on the middle class. And then Representative Dick Gephardt came in and hurled the ultimate epithet in a Democratic primary. He compared Howard Dean to Newt Gingrich.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. DICK GEPAHRDT (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We need a candidate against George Bush that can take the fight to him on it, not someone that agreed with the Gingrich Republicans.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Governor Dean.

HOWARD DEAN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: That is flat-out false, and I'm ashamed that you would compare me with Newt Gingrich. Nobody up here deserves to be compared to Newt Gingrich.

(APPLAUSE)

The fact is, that what I -- first of all, I did say Medicare was a dreadful program because it's administered dreadfully. I've done more for health insurance in this country, Dick Gephardt, frankly, than you ever have, because I've delivered it to a lot of seniors and a lot of young people.

SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: In defense of Dick Gephardt, I didn't hear him say he was like Newt Gingrich. I heard him say that he stood with Newt Gingrich when we were struggling to hold on to Medicare. That's a policy difference.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KARL: Now, Wesley Clark was not ultimately very specific in his answers on domestic issues. He continually reminded the moderator that he's only been a candidate for nine days. But he goes, Anderson, now to New Hampshire for more campaigning. And then next week for his first Hollywood fund-raiser, which will be hosted by Larry David and Norman Lear, two people -- well, one who created Archie Bunker and the other created "Seinfeld."

So General Clark is off and running -- nine days as a candidate.

COOPER: Yes, you talk about Wesley Clark not being specific. He said he was pro health. I guess that's as general as you can possibly get. Jonathan Karl, thanks very much tonight.

KARL: The general was general.

COOPER: He certainly was. All right. Thanks a lot, Jon.

Today's debate was about domestic issues. But had it been about U.S. foreign policy, it's a safe bet the Democrat candidates would have had a field day talking about an upcoming report on the search for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. That search, you're going to remember, was a key underpinning of the case for war.

So far, as this report points out, the search has not hit pay dirt. National security correspondent David Ensor has more on the report and the reaction to it.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DAVID ENSOR, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The headline from David Kay's interim report to his bosses at the CIA, and next week to Congress, so far, his 1,400-member team has yet to find a weapon of mass destruction in Iraq.

SEN. EDWARD KENNEDY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: We look at the front page of "The New York Times" here. "The American leading the hunt for banned weapons in Iraq says his team has not found any of the unconventional weapons cited by the Bush administration as the principle reason for going to war."

ENSOR: It's a headline that administration critics are contrasting with the president's own words about Iraq in October of last year.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It possesses and produces chemical and biological weapons. It is seeking nuclear weapons.

ENSOR: Back in June, in an exclusive CNN interview when he was new on the job, Kay raised expectations that weapons would be found.

DAVID KAY, CIA: My suspicions are that we'll find in the chemical and biological areas. In fact, I think there may be some surprises coming rather quickly in that area.

ENSOR: CIA spokesman Bill Harlow (ph) says Kay's report right now is only an interim report which will reach no firm conclusions. U.S. officials say Kay's team has found dual use facilities, which could be used to produce biological or chemical weapons on fairly short notice.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: It is fascinating. David Ensor joins us now. David, is it fair to say the White House is reluctant to release this report? I mean, concerned its contents might prove embarrassing?

ENSOR: Well, the administration is stressing this it is only an interim report, that this is going to take time. There'll be a final report. It could be a long time from now. There's a lot more work to be done.

But clearly, the fact that so far -- and it has been awhile now -- the Kay team has yet to find a single weapon of mass destruction, given that that was one of the main reasons the president said the U.S. needed to go to war in Iraq, well, clearly that's a public embarrassment, as Senator Kennedy was pointing out in that hearing.

COOPER: All right. David Ensor, thanks very much.

Tonight, now, another violent day in Iraq, with attacks against several different types of targets. We start in Baghdad, where a hotel housing NBC news personnel was hit by a bomb early today, killing the hotel's night manager, injuring an NBC staffer. CNN's Harris Whitbeck has that and more.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

HARRIS WHITBECK, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A bomb explodes in front of a hotel housing Western journalists in Baghdad. A prominent figure in Iraq's U.S.-appointed governing council shot by political (UNINTELLIGIBLE) days earlier, dies from her wounds. And Baghdad police say in the last 24 hours they have deactivated at least three explosive devices left on public streets.

U.S. military authorities say they know where the attacks are coming from.

GEN. RICHARD SANCHEZ, U.S. ARMY: These terrorist elements are attempting to truly achieve a terrorist objective by targeting international communities and targeting the Iraqi people.

WHITBECK: No surprises there. Security analysts say targeting Western interests in Iraq has become like shooting fish in a barrel for international terrorists.

PAUL BEAVER, DEFENSE ANALYST: This is a coming together of their greatest dreams, because all they've actually had is the enemy coming to them.

WHITBECK: Iraqi police have increased the number of checkpoints in the capital, but those behind the terror attacks still seem to slip through.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WHITBECK: Now, the United Nations is also expressing concern about the situation here. It announced a temporary reduction of its staff in Iraq. You'll remember, Anderson, that after last month's bombing of the U.N. headquarters, a lot of the U.N. foreign nationals working in Iraq were asked to leave the country by the U.N. The U.N. says its humanitarian efforts in the country will continue. Those efforts will be staffed by about 4,000 Iraqi nationals -- Anderson.

COOPER: All right. Harris Whitbeck in Baghdad. Thanks very much, Harris.

The tenuous security situation is prompting a further reduction of U.N. staff in Iraq, as Harris mentioned. The United Nations says it is temporarily scaling back its international presence there. A U.N. spokesman says Secretary-General Kofi Annan made the move on the advice of security officials. As you all know, the U.N. headquarter in Baghdad was bombed twice in two months.

And in the north of the country, eight GIs were wounded after an ambush in Mosul. Central Command calls it a complex attack. Bomb blasts followed by gunfire. Seems coordinated. Three of the troops are said to be in serious condition, and an Iraqi civilian was also hurt.

And there is maybe only one good thing about going off to war, and that is coming home from war. Some of the troops now in Iraq have complained that they are exhausted, frustrated, and afraid. Now the Pentagon is trying to boost morale by giving them at least a taste of home.

It may sound strange, but this is what the new program is: a vacation from war. The story now from senior Pentagon correspondent, Jamie McIntyre.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN SR. PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): U.S. troops engaged in dangerous and deadly duty in the withering heat of Iraq could use a break. Now they are getting one.

GEN. JOHN ABIZAID, U.S. CENTRAL COMMANDER: We are mindful of the fact that it is a tough mission, it's a fatiguing mission.

MCINTYRE: Some war-weary forces will get 15 days of R&R, rest and recreation. It's the first time since Vietnam U.S. troops are getting vacations in the middle of combat to be with their families.

The first 600 soldiers are flying to Germany or to the Baltimore- Washington area to make connecting flights home. The travel time is not included in their time off, and only troops serving one-year tours are eligible.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A year is a long time in Iraq to be sure. But it is worth it. It is worth it given what we're up against.

MCINTYRE (on camera): But some military families complain the 15-day vacations aren't exactly free. Airfare for the final leg home comes out of the soldier's own pockets, and that can add $1,000 or more.

Jamie McIntyre, CNN, the Pentagon.

(END VIDEOTAPE) COOPER: A number of other stories around the country to tell you about. Let's check tonight's "Up Link."

Hokkaido, Japan: earthquake, a strong quake measuring 8.0 in magnitude knocked out power, derailed a train, and set off an industrial fire. You see it right there. More than 100 people were hurt. The government warned local residents to say away from coastal areas because of the possibility of a tsunami.

The Gaza strip now. More violence also in the West Bank. Four Palestinian militants kills. It happened earlier today in separate Israeli operations.

Jerusalem, Israel: pilots grounded. Israel's air force, temporarily grounds reserve pilots who were protesting airstrikes in the West Bank and Gaza. The pilots called the strikes immoral and refused to fly.

Paris, France: no Pepe le Pew, but it is a cloned rat. The news has caused anger and disbelief among city dwellers everywhere. Scientists are thrilled because, well, they need rats and lots of them for lab research.

Portland, Australia: the great sheep uprising of 2003 continues. Protesters tried to stop more sheep from being sent out to sea. The protest was meant to highlight the plight of, get this, 57,000 sheep now adrift in the Persian Gulf. Yes, that's right. I said it, 57,000 sheep. They can't find a home because of a nasty outbreak of scabby mouth on board.

And Moscow, Russia: an active sweet, sweet love between a crisp young euro and a fetching dollar. There it is right there. It was an ad campaign by a magazine that caused so much controversy it was actually banned.

Also causing controversy, the euro didn't call the next day. Not even a voicemail or an e-mail, nothing. What a cad -- what can you expect?

And that's tonight's "Up Link".

Still to come tonight, is it extreme discipline? The first grade students who say they were taped, Duct taped to their chairs. The question is, did a teacher's aide cross the line ?

Plus, he confessed to being part of an al Qaeda plot to blow up the Brooklyn Bridge. Now this Ohio truck driver wants to change his plea. Lisa Bloom is on the case in "Justice Served".

And spared from death but living in fear. We've got an exclusive interview. Find out why the woman sentenced to stoning has now been whisked into hiding.

But first, a look "Inside the Box." Tonight's top stories on the network evening newscasts.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: And we are live from New York. Welcome back.

A story now that is guaranteed to make any parent shutter. It's taken as a given that when you drop your kids off at school they enter a safe haven. But there are allegations now that a first grade class in Florida, some children that in this first grade class of children face cruel and unusual punishment.

The story now from CNN's Susan Candiotti.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): When 6-year-old Peter Nereu started first grade last month, it was a big deal.

JODY NEREU, MOTHER OF FIRST-GRADER: It's his first time in a -- what he calls a "big boy" school.

PETER NEREU, FATHER OF FIRST-GRADER: He was very, very happy. He was looking forward to it.

CANDIOTTI: The public school in affluent Coral Gables was rated A+ four years in a row. So Peter's parents say they were astounded when their son told them a voluneer teacher's aide in front of the teacher allegedly taped him and other boys to their chairs for misbehaving.

P. NEREU: He puts his hand on his knees and he says, "They put tape around me and around the chair," and his torso. You know, around the chair in the back. I said, "But you couldn't move?" He said, "No, dad, I couldn't get up off the chair."

J. NEREU: He wakes up at least three our four times a night in a cold sweat crying.

P. NEREU: I felt like going and grabbing another Duct tape -- air conditioning tape up and tying this person up myself.

CANDIOTTI: The school police say at least four other boys claim they also were taped to their chairs.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Any kind of allegation like this, we're going to get to the bottom and find out what happened.

CANDIOTTI: The Nereus are suing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They were publicly embarrassed in front of the rest of their classmates. They were pinned to a chair. And this is both physical and mental abuse.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CANDIOTTI: Now, school officials say the teacher and the volunteer aide deny the allegations. But while the investigation goes on, the teacher whose worked at that same school for 15 years has been reassigned to a desk job elsewhere, and the volunteer aide has been asked for now to stay home. Meantime, state officials -- or rather school officials say the state attorney's office is also going to interview the children to see whether a criminal investigation is warranted.

COOPER: All right, Susan. We'll keep following that one. Thanks very much.

A lot happening "Cross Country" tonight. Let's take a look.

Boston, Massachusetts: drug lawsuit. The state's attorney general is suing 13 drug companies. He says they inflated generic drug prices and the Medicaid program overpaid by $50 million.

Longdale, North Carolina: school shooting. An eighth grader at Burns Middle School squeezed off a shot with a 9-millimeter handgun today. No one was hurt. A sheriff's deputy tackled the 13-year-old and then took the gun.

Lansing, Michigan: teacher protest. Hundreds of Detroit teachers left their classrooms today headed to the state capital. There they are to protest plans for more charter schools in Michigan. The school district was forced to cancel classes.

(UNINTELLIGIBLE), Florida: migrants come ashore. A group of Cubans came to Florida today the hard way, by raft. I.N.S. officials questioned the group after they reached dry land near Biscayne Bay.

Des Moines, Iowa: lobster loser. The head of the Red Lobster restaurant chain is out of a job after an all-you-can eat crab promotion had the company, well, seeing red. Customers are paying 20 bucks for the endless crab entree. Mmm. At the same time, the prices the company was paying for crab, well, they soared, putting the profit margin into a pot of boiling water.

And that is a look at stories "Cross Country."

On now to California. Did you see the debate last night among candidates trying to replace Governor Gray Davis? At times it seemed like the place was in need of discipline by the "Kindergarten Cop."

Plenty of bickering between Arnold Schwarzenegger and Arianna Huffington. Today was a very different day for Schwarzenegger, like the political equivalent of group hug. Republicans surrounding him with endorsements. We get more now from CNN's Kelly Wallace in L.A.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I am here to endorse Arnold Schwarzenegger.

KELLY WALLACE, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENTE (voice-over): One day after holding his own in his first and only debate, Arnold Schwarzenegger, a moderate Republican, received a major boost from an influential conservative. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think it's now time to get behind one candidate for governor, and I believe that Arnold Schwarzenegger has the best chance to be the next governor of California.

WALLACE: But businessman Bill Simon, who dropped out of the recall race last month, stopped short of urging fellow conservative state Senator Tom McClintock to get out of the race. Republican Congressman Darrell Issa, the man who bankrolled the recall movement and is expected to endorse Schwarzenegger Friday, sources close to Issa say is more direct.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All of the pressure that may be felt by Tom McClintock is individual. Tom has always said that he won't be a spoiler, that he understands that it's not a crowded field. He may not be able to win. He made a promise to me that he, in fact, wouldn't be a spoiler. So the pressure is on Tom to decide whether that is becoming the reality.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What do you think?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That he might be becoming the spoiler.

WALLACE: And more pressure coming from Sacramento after an extraordinary gathering of the 58 state Republican county chairs to decide which Republican candidate to rally behind this decision.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The county chairmen believe that the best opportunity for victory, the best opportunity for victory lies with Arnold Schwarzenegger.

WALLACE: But McClintock, who both Democrats and Republicans say had a strong showing in Wednesday's debate, is not budging.

SEN. TOM MCCLINTOCK (R), CALIFORNIA: I made a promise to people when I entered this race that I would be in it to the finish line, and I keep my promises.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: And Kelly joins us now. So, Kelly, what's going to happen? Do people expect McClintock to actually bow out?

WALLACE: Well, Anderson, Republican insiders say they are looking very closely at Tom McClintock's very own words. He has been saying if he does not see a significant bounce in the polls, then in the final days of this campaign these issues will be basically worked through.

So the thinking is that Tom McClintock will likely stay in the race. His name, after all was on the ballot. But that he could somehow signal to his supporters that he can't win and that perhaps they should go around someone like Schwarzenegger, who can -- Anderson.

COOPER: All right. Kelly Wallace, following the race for us, thanks very much. Still to come this evening, he allegedly plotted with al Qaeda to blow up the Brooklyn Bridge. Now this guy is trying to pull the plug on his guilty plea. Lisa Bloom explains the fine points in "Justice Served."

Also tonight, in the crossfire. A couple of hours ago the Democrats debated. Who won, who lost, who cracked the place up? We'll get the blow by blow.

And a little bit later on, labor pains. Find out why women may want to think twice about letting their man anywhere near the delivery room.

We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Time for "Justice Served." The government takes a bold step in the case against Zacarias Moussaoui, who was accused of being involved in the 9/11 attacks. Prosecutors are asking the judge in the case to dismiss all the charges.

It's not quite what it sounds, however. They still plan to push the case against Moussaoui. Court TV's Lisa Bloom is here to try to make sense of it.

Lisa, thanks for being with us.

LISA BLOOM, COURT TV: Thanks, Anderson.

COOPER: When you hear that they are trying to get rid of this case, you get startled. But it's not quite what it sounds like.

BLOOM: The government is not trying to get rid of its case against Moussaoui. What they are trying to do is get it up on appeal and get the appellate court to change the judge's order below, saying that Zacarias Moussaoui can take the depositions of three other accused terrorists. They don't want that.

COOPER: Is this basically because they don't like the judge and they don't like the ruling this judge has been making?

BLOOM: It's not so much they don't like the judge, but they certainly don't like that ruling. But the case has to be over before they can take it up on appeal. They essentially want the fat lady to sing. They want it to be over below so they can get the appellate court to reverse the judge's ruling.

COOPER: Because they think that the appellate court will, in fact, reverse the judge's ruling. And we should inform people that the judge had ruled that Zacarias Moussaoui, in fact, could make contact, could...

BLOOM: Could take depositions. Could ask extensive questions underneath of three al Qaeda detainees. And certainly the government does not want that. COOPER: All right. Where does this thing go next? I mean, what happens...

BLOOM: Well, if the judge indeed does dismiss the charges against Moussaoui, then the government has a right to take it up on appeal and have the appellate court decide the matter.

COOPER: All right. There's another al Qaeda related case I want to talk to you about, so stay tuned right there for just a second.

This is the case of a man by the name of Iyman Faris, na farris, the Ohio truck driver who plead guilty to being an al Qaeda sleeper agent. Well, he now wants to withdraw his plea. Justice correspondent Kelli Arena has more. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KELLI ARENA, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Iyman Faris came to the United States in 1994 on a student visa and became a U.S. citizen five years later. He settled in Ohio, America's heartland, even married an American.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He worked at a gas station, up the street from my house. I always stopped and got gas there. And we just started to talk. And just, you know, how things happen.

He was friendly and I was friendly. And we just kind of clicked.

ARENA: But the marriage lasted only five years. The Imam who performed his wedding ceremony says Faris was deeply troubled, even tried to kill himself by jumping off a bridge.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, he has been admitted to the hospital. And he -- would he hear voices? He thought he was possessed.

ARENA: But that doesn't square with the FBI's description of Faris.

KEVIN BROCK, FBI: I'd describe him as a terrorist. Pure and simple, he's a terrorist.

ARENA: Prosecutors say the Ohio truck driver was an al Qaeda foot soldier, traveling to Afghanistan and Pakistan to carry out errands. Back in the United States, he scouted potential sites for terror attacks, including the Brooklyn Bridge. Faris plead guilty to all of that in May, before undergoing a psychiatric evaluation.

(on camera): And now, the only confessed sleeper agent caught on U.S. soil wants to withdraw that plea for reasons even his lawyers cannot yet explain.

Kelli Arena, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: And Court TV's Lisa Bloom still with us. How likely is it the judge is going to allow Faris to change the plea?

BLOOM: Not likely. Judges are loathe to reversed a plea. If they are knowing, intelligent and voluntary at the time that they're giving, the judge will ask the defendant all kinds of questions to make sure that's the case. I'm sure that that happened here.

What's telling is the lawyer is reluctant to give the reason for the reversal of the plea. And the lawyer has said publicly that there may be a conflict of interest for him at that hearing. What that says to me is probably not a legally valid reason for reversing the plea. And that's why the lawyer can't ethically say so in court.

COOPER: But could this guy say, look, you know, I have mental problems, as that imam had perhaps indicated, and say, I wasn't aware of what I was talking about?

BLOOM: That would be one way to get a plea reversed, if he was truly mentally incompetent at the time. But there would be a record on the record in court when that plea was entered. So it's unlikely even that's going to fly.

COOPER: All right. Lisa Bloom, thanks very much.

BLOOM: Thank you.

COOPER: Still to come tonight, a lot ahead. Democrats in the crossfire. Candidates take the gloves off in the fight for the White House. Our "CROSSFIRE" pugilist, Paul Begala and Tucker Carlson sound off.

Also, saved at the 11th hour by death by stoning. We have an exclusive interview tonight with the attorney of the Nigerian woman who has now been forced into hiding.

And this week's overkill, the show whose big buzz is turning, well, into a slow yawn.

We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Time for the top stories in "The Reset."

The House and Senate today approved fast-track legislation to give the FTC the authority to create the national "do not call" list against telemarketers. This, of course, comes after the ruling yesterday by a federal judge in Oklahoma saying the FTC did not have that authority. President Bush said tonight he would sign the legislation.

President Bush also had a warning for Iran -- f the country keeps pursuing a nuclear weapons program, the president says Iran will face -- and I quote -- "universal condemnation." The U.N.'s Atomic Energy Agency has been pressuring Tehran to show that it isn't secretly been developing nukes. In the Kobe Bryant sexual assault case, lawyers for the woman charging the NBA star argued that he should not get records of the meetings she had with a victims' advocates group. Defense attorneys were seeking the 19-year-old woman's medical and health club records as -- well, as information from the resource center in Eagle, Colorado.

Mortgage rates may have gone up, but that didn't stop home sales from hitting record levels in August. Sales of new homes rose by 3.4 percent in August. And that's an annual rate of 1.15 million unites, the second highest rate on record. Sales of existing homes up by 5.5 percent.

Good news for fans of getting flu shots. The Centers for Disease Control says there should be more than enough flu vaccine for everyone who needs it. October, November are the best times to get the vaccine for the best protection.

And that's a look at "The Reset."

As we've noted, the 10 Democrats who want to move into the White House spent some time near Wall Street this afternoon. Today's candidates' debate -- today's candidate included the latest entrant into the race, retired Army General Wesley Clark.

Now the debate's focus was on economic issues. Our focus is on Paul Begala and Tucker Carlson from CNN's "CROSSFIRE" and their take on the debate. We talked to them just a short while ago.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Well, Paul, let me start off with you. This was Wesley Clark's first time up at bat. How did he do?

PAUL BEGALA, CNN CO-HOST, "CROSSFIRE": I think he did fine. You know, I actually visited with him a little before the debate and had a sense that he and his staff were, of course, like, feeling like the new kid at school, how would they be accepted?

He wasn't really under great fire. He didn't get attacked as much as maybe I thought he maybe would have. But he showed policy expertise in an area outside of national....

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: But doing fine -- I mean, is doing fine enough at this point for him?

BEGALA: Oh, for him, yes, because he's only been a politician for a few days, as he reminded us over and over during the debate. Yes, he just needed to get through it. He's -- he's -- so I think he did fine.

COOPER: Tucker, is that all he needed to do?

TUCKER CARLSON, CNN CO-HOST, "CROSSFIRE": Yes, I think so. I mean, he came out at the start and declared himself pro-health, which is better than pro-disease. So I think he won on that account. He was pretty non-specific. But, you know, what do you expect?

I was struck by how the focus was really on Howard Dean. There was -- they ganged up on him, Gephardt and Kerry did. He's a little fire plug, Dean. At one point he got into a very heated exchange with Dick Gephardt, who sort of looked at him, like, you know, who is this angry little man gnawing on my leg? They really don't like each other.

COOPER: Well, it's interesting that they would focus on Dean, because, I mean, if you look at the national polls, it seems Clark is out in front.

BEGALA: Yes, but it's not a national election. It starts in Iowa, then it goes to New Hampshire. I haven't seen any Iowa and New Hampshire polls yet with Clark in the race. And so I think both Gephardt and John Kerry look at Howard Dean as the guy they've got to beat. And I think Dean, you know -- Dean took fire.

COOPER: Did he get too angry?

BEGALA: Yes. I think he looked much too angry. He should have tried to rise above it and attack Bush instead of attack Gephardt.

CARLSON: And he always does. And he's also, obviously. got to learn to close his mouth when he's not speaking.

But he is very predictable in that way. I mean, he rises to the bait time and time and time again. That's clearly his weakness. The other candidates aren't stupid, They've figured that out.

COOPER: Well why is that a weakness? I mean, what -- doesn't it show passion, some might argue?

CARLSON: It shows passion, but when it shows petulance, when he looks like just a grumpy little guy, as he often does, that's not helpful.

COOPER: It's such a fine line.

CARLSON: It's amazing how, you know, -- I was -- I was amazed to be reminded that Joe Lieberman and John Edwards were still running for president. I had sort of forgotten because Howard Dean has gotten all the (UNINTELLIGIBLE). It was nice to see them.

COOPER: There was an interesting moment, Al Sharpton addressing General Clark. Let's play that, and talk about it a little bit. Let's -- Al Sharpton.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

AL SHARPTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I want to welcome General Clark to New York, and I want to welcome him to our list of candidates, and don't be defensive about just joining the party. Welcome to the party. It's better to be a new Democrat that's a real Democrat than a lot of old Democrats up here that have been acting like Republicans all along.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Paul, was Reverend Sharpton anointing the general?

BEGALA: I think it was -- it was a hilarious moment. It helped Sharpton. It helped Clark. It was a smart thing for Sharpton to do and I do think it probably actually worked. It probably made Clark feel more at home.

CARLSON: I mean, Sharpton is a complete rock star by any definition. He's just a lot smarter than a lot of the guys he's running against, much more charismatic, much more fun to have dinner with. I can't wait until his prime-time address at the Democratic national convention in Boston next summer. It's going to be the highlight of my year.

COOPER: Did anybody jump out at this? I mean, did -- you know, that's the questions asks. There's 10 in this field. It's hard to make an impression. You know, did anybody rise out of this debate?

BEGALA: No, but you're not -- nobody is going to win these in the debates. I think the thing to look at, for me at least, strategically, was that Dick Gephardt believes that in this issue of Howard Dean allegedly supporting Newt Gingrich on these Medicare cuts in the '90s, he believes clearly that he's got an issue he can knee- cap Dean with and he took it out and whacked him today. I think you're going to see that on the television screen near you in Iowa and New Hampshire.

CARLSON: Except it's -- I think it's counterproductive, because Dean is not running against Bush, he's running against the Democratic establishment, as he often says. Here you have the Democratic establishment singling him out and attacking him on national television. It fortified his own case. I think it makes him more of a star....

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: We're going to have to leave it there. Tucker, Paul, thank you very much. Appreciate it.

CARLSON: Thanks, Anderson.

BEGALA: Thanks.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: And from that, we turn to tonight's "Terror Watch."

Anthrax still tops the list. Health and emergency officials at a conference on weapons of mass destruction say anthrax remains the leading biological threat facing the United States. Poisons put into the food supply run a close second.

Controversial Pentagon office has been shut down. House and Senate negotiators decided to close the office, which was developing a vast computerized terrorism surveillance system. Also barred spending that would have allowed high-tech spying tools to be used against Americans right here in the U.S.

A federal judge in New York says she'll sentence a top al Qaeda figure to 17 to 22 years in prison for stabbing a jail guard three years ago. The accused still face his charges in connection with 9/11 and with the bombings of U.S. embassies in East Africa.

And those are the stories in tonight's "Terror Watch."

It is not so often that we can report a victory for humanity and decency. Tonight we can. The Nigerian woman whose only crime was having a child out of wedlock was spared today from a horrible fate -- death by stoning.

It is not total victory, of course. Others will continue to face the brutal form of justice practiced in parts of Nigeria and beyond. But tonight this young mother is alive. Still afraid, but alive. And that is good enough news.

More from CNN's Jeff Koinange.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JEFF KOINANGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Two years of waiting since her conviction for adultery, sentenced to death by stoning under the strict code of conduct known as Sharia and practiced in a third of Nigeria's 36 states.

In the packed (ph) Sharia court of appeal, Amina Lawal sat stoically with her 2-year-old daughter while the judges, or cadiz (ph), read out their individual judgments. And when the verdict was finally delivered, the mostly male audience was hushed.

Outside, riot police kept the peace. But not everyone was celebrating Lawal's victory. After all, this is Sharia territory, and some men here, like this law student, weren't happy with the outcome.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I am not happy for the whole people (UNINTELLIGIBLE), that this Sharia has not been adapted (UNINTELLIGIBLE). because she is convicted of these crimes and she has to be (UNINTELLIGIBLE)

KOINANGE: The woman at the center of the storm was nowhere to be seen. She had been whisked away for fear of any violence breaking out in this volatile region.

We caught up with her at a safehouse. We met a different Amina Lawal, one who managed a smile, perhaps for the first time in many months.

"A heavy burden has been lifted off my shoulders. God is great," she says.

Back at the courthouse, the signs of normalcy returned. (on camera) So Amina Lawal gets to go home a free woman. The past two years have been an ordeal for the 31-year-old single parent. Asked what she wants to do now that she's a free woman, she simply replied, go home, get married, live a normal life. Then she quickly added, is that too much to ask? Jeff Koinange, CNN, Katsina in Northern Nigeria.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Earlier today I spoke exclusively with Hawa Ibrahim, the lawyer for Amina Lawal. You just saw in Jeff Koinange's report, and I began by asking her if she feared for her client's life.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

HAWA IHBRAHIM, ATTORNEY: I do fear, but not an intensive fear. We have had Amina on the case going on for over one year, about 1 1/2 years and we have witnessed a lot peace around, both at the court and at her home. I believe that she'll continue and hope it continues.

COOPER: Your client told CNN that all I want to do is go home, get married and live a normal life. Is a normal life in Nigeria possible for Amina Lawal?

IBRAHIM: It is possible for Amina Lawal, because she is in a village and she has also been living with me for over one year. So it's possible to have a normal life. Not as normal as we should expect. But, yes, normal somehow.

COOPER: In your opinion, if it was not for international pressure, for international attention, would Amina Lawal be dead already?

IBRAHIM: I think today we celebrate a victory of human dignity and human life, and we are grateful that the international community stood by our side, especially CNN, to make this happen. We are grateful.

COOPER: On a personal note for you, you have been working on this case a very long time. You have come very close to this client. What is going through your mind today. What is going through your heart today when you heard the court rule the way they did?

IBRAHIM: I came in from the United States yesterday in the morning and I drove straight seven hours to the court. I had a heavy heart. I did not know what was going to be. I was hoping for the worst and expecting the best. And after the judgment, I felt a big knot removed from my head. I felt relief. And I feel that justice has won. And I was -- I'm so happy about that and happy for Amina and her child and hopefully they'll have a good life.

COOPER: On the way up here, two people on the subway I heard talking about this case. It is amazing that the case of one woman in a country in a small village far away can affect so many people. We appreciate you talking to us and thank you very much for all your work and your willingness to talk to us. Hawa Ibrahim, thank you very much.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Well, still to come -- actually, we have a story just coming into CNN. A late-breaking development in the Guantanamo Bay espionage probe. Word that Air Force authorities were monitoring and investigating a Syrian born supply clerk before he was sent to the prison camp at Gitmo.

Air Force airman Ahmad Al Halabi, who you have been hearing about on the last couple of days, had been sent to be an Arabic translator for suspected terrorists. He's been arrested, charged with espionage. His attorney tells CNN airman Al Halabi is not a spy. This is a developing story. We'll keep following it all night long.

Still to come tonight however, find out what's really in a name, especially if it includes more than 60 letters. You'll meet a boy with a very long name.

Also tonight, find out why guys in the delivery room means way more pain killers for the soon to be moms. Stick around, we'll have the results of an interesting new study.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: All right, welcome back. Time for a quick check of the current. A new study compares births attended by female professionals with those attended by the women's male partner. It found that new moms were more likely to need pain killers when the guys are there in the delivery room. And possibly also the living room, the bathroom, the kitchen. I think the ladies know what I'm talking about.

I thought t-shirts with political statements disappeared when Franky went to Hollywood. Turns out I was wrong. At a London fashion show model, including Naomi Campbell, wear clothes with various political messages. We're hoping Naomi Campbell's vest will appear tomorrow, as a guest, on CNN's "CROSSFIRE".

Rapper Jay-Z has announced his farewell concert and other farewell activities. He'll also release his last solo album, the black album, the black sneaker and his autobiography "The Black Book." At press time Jay-Z had not yet scheduled his triumphant return, but if Celine Dion is any example, it's only a matter of time.

And a Malibu man is suing "The Bachelor" after producers rented his home to tape the newest season. The owner says the cast and crew damaged the home, left garbage, including cigarette butts and feminine hygiene products. Some believe he can win his case easily if he finds a jury of his peers, namely 12 citizens who also live in a six- bedroom, 7,000 square foot home on 1 and a half acres with views of ocean, mountains, a valley and a waterfall. Lot's of luck.

Famed gothic maven Cindy Adam ends every column with this, only in New York kids, only in New York. Well, this next story is the kind of story she's talking about. One little 4-year-old boy who has the longest name registered in all of New York. The name goes like this, and I'm going to maul it, Yo Xing Heyno Agustus Eisner Alexander Weiser Knuckles Jermijenko- Conley, sort of. It's all the doing of his dad, whose name is a little more manageable, Dalton Conley, who joins me now. Dalton is here, Yo and his sister joins me now. His sister's name is E., just E. Only in New York. Welcome, thanks for being with us.

DALTON CONLEY, FATHER: Thanks for having us.

COOPER: So Dalton, maybe just start out explaining why the interesting names? Your daughter's name is E., very short. Your son's name is extraordinarily long.

CONLEY: Well, when E. was born we decided we'd let her have a little choice in her name. So we picked the first letter and then said she could later decide what it stands for. So, I imagine that when she's a rebellious teenager she'll want something very normal like Elizabeth or Ellen, which is my mother's name. But right now she is just E.

And once you do E, the pressure is on, you can't name your next kid John or something like that. So I wanted to challenge our ethnic assumptions, as a sociologist, so I wanted to pick a name for this, you know, white blue-eyed kid here squirming in my lap that connoted a completely different ethnic origin.

So I -- but I made the mistake of mentioning Xing to my wife, who was -- has a superstition that you can't mention a name for a kid before he or she is born. So I ruined it. So we stuck with Yo, which is sort of like the universal name in New York City. Yo.

COOPER: So that is where the Yo came from?

CONLEY: Yes, that was there from -- and also means I in Spanish. Very universal.

COOPER: Yo, what do you think about your name?

CONLEY: Do you like it?

COOPER: Well, E., what about you? Your name is very short. Have you decided what you want to ultimately be called?

CONLEY: What is E. Short for? Do you want to be Elizabeth?

E.: No.

COOPER: How about -- what else could be E.? Do you like Ellen?

E.: No.

COOPER: You haven't decided yet?

CONLEY: Just E.

COOPER: Yo, can you pronounce, can you say your whole name?

CONLEY: What's your name?

YO CONLEY: I don't know. Yo.

COOPER: Yo, okay. There you go. That's a start

CONLEY: He named himself Knuckles and Hayno.

COOPER: Why Knuckles?

CONLEY: Why did you name yourself Knuckles?

Y. CONLEY: Because I like the name.

COOPER: Because you like the name?

Y. CONLEY: The name is from a dog.

COOPER: Where'd you hear the name. It's from a dog?

Y. CONLEY: Yes.

COOPER: It's...

Y. CONLEY: My Daddy telled.

CONLEY: It was my dog when I was a little boy and he loved that dog.

COOPER: All right. Do you think their going to get teased more, because of these names?

CONLEY: Probably. But this is New York City, as you said in your intro. When I was a kid, Dalton was a very strange name. And I was called "Dogton."

COOPER: Hey, I've been mocked for being named Anderson Cooper.

CONLEY: And recently I saw that Dalton is in the top 25 names for boys.

COOPER: Hey it all comes (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

CONLEY: Yo might be pretty common by the time.

COOPER: All right. (UNINTELLIGIBLE) Appreciate you joining us. And Yo, great to meet you. And E, good luck as well.

Coming up next on 360, "Overkill," the first lovable cast of "Coupling," are you sick of them yet? Well, you will be. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

"Overkill Segment" gave us some trouble. We're talking about the new NBC series "Coupling." Now, we were hesitant about giving NBC even more publicity. And Tommy (ph), one of our associate producers who knows what the reason for this segment, which is to deflate stuff that's been talked about way too much. Tommy rolled his eyes and said I'm sick of "Coupling." And that is pretty much the point.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, don't I get a say in it?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Of course you don't.

COOPER: The critic have had their say. If audiences react the same way, tonight you may not hear about "Coupling" much longer. NBC triggered the buzz on the series earlier this year. Pointing out the raves the original British version got. And insisting that even with six young sexually intermingled stars, it's version of "Coupling" would be more than a sexy version of "Friend." Unfortunately, critics agree. Because "Friends" is funny.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There you go again.

COOPER: With "Friends" ending this season, NBC is desperate for a solid new sitcom to help keep its 20-year grip on Thursday nights. One way NBC hoped "Coupling" would get noticed was for the sexual content.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You must have doing a lot of solo play.

COOPER: It played in Britain, but here it got at least a smattering of the usual moral outrage new shows get every year or so. It remains to be seen whether that will be enough to get people laughing with the she or at it.

ANDY BOROWITZ, BOROWITZREPORT.COM: I don't think that "Friends" needs a sexy version. I'd like to see a sexy version of "60 minutes," actually.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: While NBC affiliates in Salt Lake City and South Bend decided "Coupling" is too racy for their communities, local W.B. and UPN affiliates decided their viewers can handle it.

Coming up next on 360, a Nigerian woman has been saved from death by stoning. Will others be so lucky?

And tomorrow, have terrorists found a new way to strike at America? We are going to look at whether the drug supply is vulnerable to attack.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Tonight, crime and punishment to the "Nth Degree." Today was a good day for Amina Lawal (ph), the Nigerian woman sentenced to a brutal death for having a baby out of wedlock. Lawal was to have been buried up to her neck in sand and bludgeon with stones. Tonight she is free. You may have heard of Amina Lawal. Chances are you have not heard of Fatama Usaman (ph) or Hawa Amadou Ibrahim (ph). They both have death sentences pending in another Nigerian state. See Amina Lawal was no aberration, no one of a kind fluke.

One-third of Nigeria's 36 states are under Sharia law. Amina Lawal sentence was not overturned on fundamental grounds. The Nigerian Court of Appeals didn't say her punishment was wrong. She got off on a technicality. Amina Lawal's defenders have said that international attention, the political pressure, the media focus, all contributed to saving her. But her survival can't mean that the world stop paying attention to these sentences in Nigeria or else where. And perhaps what should mean is that we starting pay attention to why so many people in Nigeria and other countries are not only willing to live under such systems of justice but want to.

That raps up the program tonight. Coming up next "PAULA ZAHN NOW."

TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com



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