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Interview With Jean-Bertrand Aristide; Eyeing Super Tuesday

Aired March 1, 2004 - 19:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, HOST (voice-over): Aristide's gone, but the chaos continues. Haitian rebels storm the capital, U.S. Marines guard the palace.

Twenty-four hours to go to Super Tuesday. Is tomorrow John Edwards' last stand?

A cousin is charged. A husband, wife, and child missing. Is a family feud to blame?

Our special series, "Addiction in America." Tonight, are you an addict?

Terry Nichols, the Oklahoma accomplice, goes on trial again. The state demands death.

Can't find a place to smoke? Step outside and inside the smoking limo.


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

COOPER: Good evening. Welcome to 360.

A major break in the perplexing case of a missing Mississippi family. Within the last hour, police announced a relative of the family, a cousin, has been charged with three counts of murder. They also believe they know the motive. A live report just ahead.

But first, breaking news. Ousted leader Jean-Bertrand Aristide has said he is the victim of a coup d'etat in Haiti. He joins us now on the phone from the Central African Republic.

Mr. Aristide, thank you for being with us. There have been some very strong allegations made by representatives of you. I want to try to get to the bottom of it. Are you alleging that you were kidnapped by the United States and sent to Africa?

JEAN-BERTRAND ARISTIDE, FMR. PRESIDENT, HAITI: As I said, I called this coup d'etat in a modern way, to have modern kidnapping. And the way I described what happened...

COOPER: Who are you saying has kidnapped you?

ARISTIDE: Forces in Haiti. They were not Haitian forces. They were (UNINTELLIGIBLE) and Americans and Haitians together, acting to surround the airport, my house, the palace. And then, despite of diplomatic conversations we had, despite of all we did in a diplomatic way to prevent them to organize that massacre which would lead to a bloodshed, we had to leave and spent 20 hours in an American plane. And not knowing where we were going with force, until they told us that 20 minutes before they landed in Central African Republic.

COOPER: Mr. Aristide, Mr. Aristide, the night you left, you signed a document in which you said, "For that reason, tonight I am resigning in order to avoid a blood bath. I accept to leave with the hope there will be life and not death."

This is a document you have signed. I have a copy of it here. Are you saying -- did you, in fact, sign this? And what does it mean?

ARISTIDE: Well, I should see what they give to you, because these people lie. And when they lie, I need to see the paper before saying this is exactly what I wrote. And in what I wrote, I explained that if I am forced to leave to avoid bloodshed, of course I will leave to avoid bloodshed. But as I said, I should see the kind of paper they give to you, because they lied to me, and they may lie to you, too.

COOPER: Well, I have it in French, the document. I could read it to you if you'd like, but it basically, says that "I took an oath to respect and have the constitution respected. This evening, February 28, I'm still determined to respect and have the constitution respected."

It goes on. Are you saying that you wish you were still -- that if it was up to you, you would still be on the ground in Haiti, that you did not leave of your own free will?

ARISTIDE: Exactly that.

COOPER: I have a statement from Secretary of State Colin Powell, who earlier today said, in regards to you, he says, "He was not kidnapped. We did not force him on the airplane. He went on the airplane willingly. And that is the truth."

Are you saying that Colin Powell is lying?

ARISTIDE: He said what he wanted to say. And I told you the truth. If you pay attention to all what I described, you'd see the truth. You will see the huge difference between the two versions.

COOPER: Are you going to seek refuge in the Central African Republic?

ARISTIDE: Well, I am here. So far, I don't have contact with the highest authority in the country. (UNINTELLIGIBLE) ministers to meet with me, and I'm very delighted the way they welcomed me here. But I need to have contact with him to know exactly what I should be doing.

COOPER: Why did you go with the Marines? If you are saying you did not go of your own free will, you had your own security detail, quite an extensive security detail. I've seen it up close myself. Why did you leave?

ARISTIDE: I made that point for you. I had 19 Americans providing security to the government, and that (UNINTELLIGIBLE). They were all told and forced to leave based on what (UNINTELLIGIBLE) on February 28.

They were supposed to have the day after 18 of 25 American agents to reinforce (ph) them, based on an agreement which was signed with the Haitian government. They told me that night the U.S. prevented them to go to Haiti.

So on the American side, as on the Haitian side, we all have the same picture. People, foreign people with arms in the streets in Port-au-Prince, surrounding the airport, the palace, my residence, and ready to attack, which would lead to the bloodshed. And we would have thousands of people killed.

We couldn't let that happen. We had the responsibility to protect lives and not to let people kill thousands of people. When now you compare Haiti to what they told me before, they still continue to burn houses, my house, killing people, and waged what they intended to do.

COOPER: Mr. Aristide, was your departure in the best interest of Haiti?

ARISTIDE: Of course not, because no one should force an elected president to move in order to avoid bloodshed. Why they are still killing people, burning houses? And the contradiction in talking is very eloquent.

COOPER: Mr. Aristide, I am having trouble reconciling the two statements, the statements that you have made and the statement the U.S. government has made through Secretary Colin Powell, who, again, has said that you were not kidnapped, that we, the United States, did not force you on to the airplane, that you went on to the airplane willingly. And they say that is the truth. You say -- your story is categorically the opposite of that.

ARISTIDE: Of course, because I am telling you the truth.

COOPER: Why do you believe the American government -- or why are you saying the American government is lying about this?

ARISTIDE: You could ask them the same question, and you can find the answer of your question through the answers I cautiously shared with you.

COOPER: We also want to welcome our international viewers. This is now being aired on CNN International. Mr. Aristide, I want to read a statement. The document I have, which is a signed document, it's in Creole with your signature on it, I'm going to read a translation to you. And I want you to tell me if this is the document that you signed.

This is what I have as the translation from the original Creole: "Jean-Bertrand Aristide" -- it is the letterhead -- "February 7, 2001. I took an oath to respect and have the constitution respected. This evening, 28th of February, 2004, I am still determined to respect and have the constitution respected."

"The constitution is the guarantee of life and peace. The constitution cannot be drowned in the blood of the Haitian people. For that reason, tonight, I am resigning in order to avoid a bloodbath."

"I accept to leave with the hope that there will be life and not death. Life for everyone, death for no one, in respect for the constitution. And in the fact of respecting the constitution, Haiti will have life and peace. Thank you." With your signature.

Did you, in fact, sign this document?

ARISTIDE: No. That's not right. They took out the sentence where I said, "If I am obliged to leave in order to avoid bloodshed." They took that off the document. That's why they are lying to you by giving to you a false document.

COOPER: Well, I'm reading from a translated document. We will have this -- we have the Creole document as well, that we will have it translated as well.

ARISTIDE: Read the Creole. Please, please, please tell the truth. Read the Creole if you can, because they took off the Creole version, exactly what we refer to falsely use...

COOPER: So you are saying on Saturday evening, Marines came to your compound. You did not know they were coming. What exactly happened?

ARISTIDE: Should I say this story again and again? Because I think that I already answered that question.

COOPER: I still am not clear, though. And we have many viewers who have just joined us from around the world. And it is still unclear.

What did you say to them? Did you say, no, I do not want to go? No, I refuse to go? And did they force you into a vehicle? What happened?

ARISTIDE: I will try to answer your question to help people to understand it, but I do believe if you refer to the document you just read, when I told you they refused to translate the central part of it, where I said, "If I am obliged to leave in order to avoid bloodshed." You see, they doctored (ph) the document you have, and the version which you have, because they don't want people to know the kind of forces which were used to make that coup.

COOPER: Well, we can't make any sort of allegations. It is simply a translation of a document. The translation just could be incorrect. I don't really want to go down the road of saying that somebody has altered this document, because we don't know that.

ARISTIDE: OK. They gave you a false document, obviously. When you have a false document in hand, you should not use it, because it is a false document.

COOPER: But again, could you please try to explain what exactly went on? How was it that you were, in your words, kidnapped?

ARISTIDE: OK. When I said that Friday night American military, foreign -- Saturday night, February 28, American military, foreign military, Haitian, well armed, accompanied those foreign forces, surround (ph) the airport, to the palace, my residence. Most of them were in the streets.

And when I could see with my own eyes, it was when I was on my way to the airport and I saw them. The American plane who came straight -- we were in that American plane because Americans had the total control.

When we spent 20 hours in that plane, without knowing where we go, without having the right to contact our people -- and the first lady is an American lady, she didn't have the right even to look through the windows. They told her, "You don't have that right."

When we were (UNINTELLIGIBLE) the plane, we spent 20 hours on the plane. You can't imagine this kind of terrible situation. And that's why, again and again, I am telling the truth. I call it a coup d'etat in a modern way to have modern kidnapping.

COOPER: And Mr. Aristide, you join us from the Central African Republic, where you are staying in the capital in Bangui. Apparently South Africa has said that they would counteroffering you entry to that country as well. Obviously, the future at this point is very unknown.

We appreciate you joining us on CNN and CNN International. Thank you very much, Mr. Aristide.

And again, the statement from Colin Powell earlier today at odds with what Mr. Aristide has just said. Secretary of State Colin Powell said, "He was not kidnapped. We did not force him on to the airplane. He went on to the airplane willingly. And that is the truth." Certainly in the coming days we'll be hearing more and more about this as the details emerge.

Right now in Haiti, rebels are in the capital. Marines are trying to restore order.

Let's go live to CNN's Lucia Newman, who is witnessing both the chaos and some celebration in the streets of Port-au-Prince -- Lucia.


Indeed, a day of deja vus here. Ten years after U.S. forces had come here to help restore President Aristide to power, they're here to try and restore order now without him. Also, back in this capital are the rebels, led by members of Haiti's former army, the military that had been disbanded. But they were out in force today.

They came in here to the city in a kind of victory convoy, driving through the streets, stopping off at different police stations, while thousands and thousands of Haitians gave them -- embraced them and welcomed them back. They were led, of course, by Guy Philippe, a former police chief of Cap-Haitien, as well as Louis- Jodel Champlain, a former paramilitary and death squad leader.

Now, they were very peaceful. Right in front of them, however, was the palace that was being guarded by the U.S. Marines. Thousands of people, in fact, encircled the palace, and there were some tense moments there. But they did not try to break in. Eventually, the rebels came up here to Petionville, where I'm speaking to you from, and celebrated in a posh hotel in this area.

In the meantime, there was looting in the city at the port for the third consecutive day. But the Haitian police and the international forces were not there -- Anderson.

COOPER: Still a chaotic situation and fast-moving events on the ground, and internationally now as well. Lucia Newman, thank you very much for that.

Moving on now to politics here in America. Just about 24 hours from now, the first of 10 Super Tuesday polls in Georgia and Vermont will be closing. On this final campaign day, Senator John Kerry is focusing on the states with the closest races, with one eye on tomorrow's contests and the other on the long road ahead.

Our senior political correspondent Candy Crowley reports now from the Kerry camp.


CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SR. POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): He is sailing on the momentum of winning 19 out of 21, coasting on the probability of 10 more Tuesday.

SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: God, when November comes, George Bush is going, we're coming. And don't let the door hit you on the way out, folks.

CROWLEY: He has been in seven of 10 Super Tuesday states. Monday, he dropped in on rallies in Maryland, Ohio and Georgia. But the name John Edwards never passes his lips.

KERRY: This president has, in fact, created terrorists where they didn't exist. And I believe this president has run the most arrogant, inept, reckless and ideological foreign policy in the modern history of our country. And we need to hold him accountable. CROWLEY: Speakers introduce him as the "nominee" or the "next president." The stage is full of party officials as the coalescing continues. Staffers still chant the mantra that they are working hard for every vote, that they take nothing for granted. But now they smile when they say it. His campaign may be in the primary season, but John Kerry is thinking fall.

KERRY: This isn't going to be some kind of, you know, "we're like them, they're like us, wishy-washy, mealy-mouthed, you can't tell the difference deal."

CROWLEY: Candy Crowley, CNN, Columbus, Ohio.


COOPER: Meanwhile, John Edwards is vowing to remain in the race even if he loses every state tomorrow. That's what he says. The presidential candidate is also stepping up his rhetoric against John Kerry, a change in strategy certainly that may be too little, too late.

Kelly Wallace is with the Edwards camp in the Buckeye State.



KELLY WALLACE, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): John Edwards flying around Ohio, hoping a state hard hit by job losses will give him at least one desperately needed victory.

EDWARDS: Go to the polls tomorrow.

WALLACE: But one day after his sharpest attacks yet on John Kerry, there was no mention of the Democratic front-runner on the stump. It was back to all positive, all the time.

EDWARDS: Voters deserve to know the differences between us. But if you are looking for the candidate who is going to do the best job of attacking other Democrats, that is not me. It's never been me.

WALLACE: On this day, though a sense that time could be running out. The crowd is smaller, and interviews dominated by whether Edwards will consider getting out of the race if he does not win anywhere on Tuesday.

EDWARDS: No. I plan to stay in this until I'm nominated.

WALLACE (on camera): No matter -- so let me just ask you -- no what happens tomorrow...

EDWARDS: I plan to be in this until I'm the nominee.

WALLACE: So don't the numbers sometimes... EDWARDS: Of course. Of course. At some point I have to start getting more delegates or I'm going to be the nominee. But I intend to be in this until the end.

WALLACE (voice-over): Edwards says he hasn't received one phone call from a Democrat urging him to step aside.

(on camera): But if the senator does not have one Super Tuesday victory, the calls could start coming in from Democrats who think it might be time to start focusing exclusively on President Bush.

Kelly Wallace, CNN, Cleveland.


COOPER: Right now, we're following a number of developing stories "Cross Country." Let's take a look.

Camarillo, California: a rise in gas prices. The price of gas is getting higher, a lot higher in some parts of the U.S. The Lundberg Survey tracks a 7-cent increase last week. The average cost for a gallon of self-serve regular is now $1.75. Prices jumped as much as 20 cents a gallon in some parts of California.

Maui, Hawaii: airport attack. Passengers were stuck on Maui yesterday after a 52-year-old man ran his SUV into the airport ticket lobby, then set the truck on fire. The FBI says it wasn't terrorism, but the process of investigating a burning Dodge Durango at the United Airlines counter shut down the airport for hours.

San Francisco: birth control ruling. The California Supreme Court ruled today that Catholic charities in California no different than any other business in the state. And unlike the church, cannot be exempted from state law requiring birth control coverage in its workers' health plan, even though it's opposed to birth control.

Portsmouth, Virginia, now: continuing search. The Coast Guard says hopes are dimming that they'll find any of the crew still alive after a tanker explosion. A search, as you can see, went on Monday, looking for 18 missing crewmembers. There was an explosion on their tanker Saturday. The ship carrying 3.5 million gallons of ethanol.

And that's a quick look at stories "Cross Country" tonight.

Closing arguments in the Martha Stewart trial. Should Stewart and her co-defendant be worried? That's ahead in "Justice Served."

And an almost unbelievable story in Philadelphia. A mother finds her daughter alive six years after the child was declared dead in a fire. A strange tale. We'll have that ahead.

Plus, "Addiction in America." Our weeklong series begins tonight. A look at the devastating world of dependency.

First, let's take a look "Inside the Box" at the top stories on tonight's network newscasts. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: A lot of people like to watch us tonight. Before we get going, I just want to thank the Reverend Jesse Jackson for organizing the conversation we had with President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, an exclusive interview live from the Central African Republic from Bangui.

Now we move on to the Martha Stewart trial. Lawyers for the home decor diva will sum up her defense tomorrow in her federal conspiracy trial.

Deborah Feyerick covered today's closing. She's been doing it for several weeks now, the arguments by the prosecution and by attorneys for Stewart's co-defendant.


DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): With her broker, Peter Bacanovic, seemingly ready to back up her story, Martha Stewart lied, prosecutors say, because she thought she would never get caught. Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Schachter told the jury Stewart and her broker were wrong, they made serious mistakes, and left behind a trail of evidence.

The government says that evidence includes phone messages, e- mails and testimony from the young assistant who passed Stewart the tip that Stewart's good friend, the head of ImClone, was trying to dump his company's stock. That tip triggered Stewart's own sale of ImClone, landing her in federal court.

Said the prosecutor about the young assistant, "If you believe Doug Faneuil, this trial is over." In fact, Faneuil's testimony is so critical to the government's case, a lawyer for Stewart's broker spent more than two hours trying to discredit it.

Defense attorney Rich Strassberg called Faneuil "a convincing liar," explaining, "He lies by twisting a few key facts. It helps to explain what he did to lessen his responsibility and blame others."

Bacanovic's lawyers said the government's evidence is like a house of cards. When you push on it, it collapses because it has no foundation.

The government tried to show, indeed, there is a foundation, and it's built on Stewart's lies. The prosecutor pointed to a phone message Stewart received from her broker, which she changed, then changed back. It was, he said, "a peek inside Martha Stewart's head," explaining, "She had done something bad and was willing to lie to the government."

(on camera): Stewart's lawyer will present his closing argument Tuesday. If he is to get Martha Stewart acquitted, he will have to convince the jury his client never lied.

Deborah Feyerick, CNN, New York. (END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Well, now one of the strangest stories we've come across lately. A child believed killed in a fire was found alive six years later.


COOPER (voice-over): It was a heart-breaking story. Dellamar Vera (ph), just 10 days old, killed when her family's home went up in flames. No body was ever found. Police believed little Dellamar (ph) was consumed by the intense heat of the fire.

That was back in 1997. But this January, the little girl's grieving mother, Luce Suevas (ph), saw some amazing, a girl she believed was her own dead daughter, now 6 years old at a birthday party.

PEDRO VERA, GIRL'S FATHER: Motherly instinct without getting DNA, nothing. She sees the child and says, "This is my child."

COOPER: She managed to get a few strands of the little girl's hair and convinced police to reopen the case. When the DNA tests came back, they proved this 6-year-old girl was Dellamar Vera (ph). Now the search is on Carolyn Corea (ph), the woman who allegedly passed the baby off as her own and is believed to have set the 1997 fire.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: An arrest warrant has been issued for the following person: a Carolyn Corea (ph). She's a 41-year-old Hispanic female. She's described as 5'2", about 130 pounds, medium complexion, last seen operating a 2003 Chevrolet Impala.

COOPER: They say Corea (ph) was seen at the home twice on the day the fire was set, and she was there with little Dellamar (ph) at the birthday party.


COOPER: Well, we're tracking a number of developing stories right now around the globe. Let's check tonight's "UpLink."

Baghdad, Iraq: interim constitution. A few thorny issues resolved. Iraq's Governing Council missed its weekend deadline, but finally agreed on a new draft constitution. The council members say they would rather do it right than meet the deadline.

In Pakistan: no deal here. Pakistani officials are categorically denying a deal was brokered to allow U.S. Special Forces on its territory to hunt for al Qaeda chief, Osama bin Laden. A Pakistani Army official called the report "absolutely ridiculous." A magazine quoted a former senior intelligence official saying it was a "quid pro quo deal" after Pakistan pardoned Abdul Qadeer Khan, the scientist who admits leaking nuclear secrets to Iran, Libya and North Korea.

Belgium: shocking trial. Schoolgirls raped and killed. The trial of this man, a convicted child rapist, opened today. He's charged with kidnapping and raping six girls, killing four of them. The chilling case has traumatized the country and discredited, many say, Belgium's police system.

And that's a look at stories in the "UpLink" tonight.

What exactly is addiction? It is the question that kicks off our weeklong look at the devastating world of dependency.

Time was people would say, addiction, get a grip, it's all in your head. Well, there are some doctors who will tell you that addiction really is in your head, but more specifically, your brain.


COOPER (voice-over): Almost everyone knows someone with an addiction to cigarettes, alcohol, drugs, food. Then there's caffeine, gambling. Some even say sex, shopping, the Internet and work. But what is addiction?

DR. NORA VOLKOW, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE ON DRUG ADDICTION: Addiction entails biochemical and functional changes in the brain that are very long lasting.

COOPER: This is a normal brain scan. And this is an addict's brain.

VOLKOW: When you compare the brain of a person that's addicted, versus that that's not addicted, what you find is a significant reduction in the function of the systems associated with dopamine.

COOPER: Scientists studying addiction have focused on the role of dopamine in a part of the brain responsible for motivation and drive, among other behaviors.

DR. DREW PINSKY, ADDICTION SPECIALIST: It just colors everything else that goes on in the higher systems, shifting motivational priorities away from survival towards the pursuit of chemicals and drugs.

COOPER: In fact, there are those who say they are almost addicted to addiction. Actor Mel Gibson suggested as much in a recent interview when he described a personal decline that led him to make his religious film, "The Passion of the Christ."

MEL GIBSON, ACTOR: I would get addicted to anything. Anything at all, OK. Drugs, booze, anything, you name it. Coffee, cigarettes, anything. I'm just one of these guys who is like that. That's my flaw.

COOPER: He may call it a flaw. Scientists say addiction is a disease.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Addiction is a medical disease.

(END VIDEOTAPE) COOPER: We'll talk more about the nature of addiction with Dr. Drew Pinsky whom you just saw on that report. I began today by asking him, is there such a thing as an addictive personality?


PINSKY: Some people would argue there is. I don't like to think of it as being an addictive personality. Because I treat people with all kinds of different personalities and personality issues. But they all share a common biology. So really, what people are referring to, when they talk about addictive personality, they're really talking about common characteristics of people who have this biology.

COOPER: You think of it as a disease. There are some who dispute that saying look, this is really a behavioral problem.

PINSKY: It is a behavioral problem -- it manifests as behavior. We know so much now about the part of the brain that operates this disorder. And it is a dysfunction of the drive-reward system. It creates abnormal thinking, abnormal drives, abnormal priorities, abnormal behaviors. People have to manage this part of their brain, just as they would have to manage a part that causes depressive illness. We have no problem calling it a depressive illness but addictive illnesses, somehow, we are uncomfortable with.

COOPER: But you hear the word addiction bandied about so much now. People talk now about sex addictions, they talk about Internet addictions, I mean, there are people who talk about they are addicted to shoe shopping. Is some of this just an excuse for compulsive behavior?

PINSKY: Well, addiction -- because it is an illness it is easy to put it off on something out there that's outside of my volitional control and therefore, people that could use their volition to manage their behaviors can dismiss it as an addictive process. People tend to blame all sorts of behaviors that are really more compulsions than addictions. An addiction is really defined by consequence. You either have consequence and continue or you have consequence and ultimately stop. The people who can't stop, despite consequence, that suggests the biology of addiction.

COOPER: Let's talk about treatment. 12-step programs perhaps are the most well known. There's all now people talk about harm reduction and moderate drinking or moderate your behavior to control it. What works?

PINSKY: Well, I feel like I'm making the last stand on behalf of abstinence. The bottom line is, if you are continuing to use a substance, you are chronically ill. One of the basic axioms of harm reduction is to give people enough of a substance that they don't manifest the behavioral conditions. They're still ill, they still have the condition and it is still quite active but it's trying to saturate the system. You talk about opiates when you talk about harm reduction. In the case of alcohol, I don't there are many people talking about moderating alcohol because that has been tried for many, many years and has shown to be a failure over and again. People can regain control over substances for periods of time. But because of the progressive nature of the biology, it inevitably runs out of control again.

COOPER: Dr. Drew Pinsky, thanks very much.

PINSKY: My pleasure.

COOPER: Our special series, "Addiction in America" continues on Wednesday. We talk to men and women hooked on sex. Some have lost everything, literally, trying to fulfill their never-ending need. For others addiction is just a mouse click away. Thursday we look at the web of addiction on the Internet. And on Friday, strung out. The new drug culture. We take you to the streets of New York and the underground world of heroin addicts.

COOPER: Coming up ahead. We have a major break in the case of that missing family from Mississippi. A suspect is in custody, has been charged with three counts of murder. A live report ahead. We'll be right back.


COOPER: Time now to check some of our top stories in the "Reset." Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Cheering crowds welcome heavily armed rebels entering the capital after the departure of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. U.S. marines are there, too. The vanguard of the U.N. peacekeeping force. Aristide is in the Central African Republic where he has confirmed just moments ago that he's accusing the U.S. of forcing him to leave Haiti in a coup d'etat. The White House and State Department vehemently deny the charge.

Eagle, Colorado. L.A. Lakers' player Kobe Bryant's lawyers say in a court filing that the woman accusing him of rape had sex multiple times in the hours before and after her encounter with Bryant. Bryant's defense is arguing that Colorado's rape shield law should not apply in this case because the accuser's sexual activity is relevant. Bryant attended a two-day hearing that began today. He insists the woman consented to sex with him.

Somerville, New Jersey. Now in this manslaughter trial today, Jayson Williams heard a key prosecution witness say the NBA star tried to transfer a slain driver's fingerprints to a shotgun moments after a fatal shooting. Today's testimony was the first by someone actually in Williams's bedroom when Costas Christofi was shot to death February 14, 2002.

Yazoo City, Mississippi. Earnest Lee Hargon is in jail without bond after being charged with murdering his cousin, the cousin's wife and their four-year-old son. Investigators believe Hargon was jealous over an inheritance. The bodies are still missing. That's a quick look at the "Reset."

We're going to get some more news on those late developments in the case of the Mississippi family missing since Valentine's day. A relative, as we just told you, now charged with three counts of murder. Jeanne Meserve just left a news conference in Yazoo City. Joins us now with the very latest. Jeanne, what did you hear?

JEANNE MESERVE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, Earnest Lee Hargon is charged with three counts of capital murder in the death of his cousin, Michael, Michael's wife Rebecca, and their son James Patrick, four years old. The affidavit alleges that the murders took place during an attempted kidnapping of one or more members of the family. The family disappeared on Valentine's day. The bodies have not been recovered despite exhaustive searches but another search is underway tonight. CNN's Mike Brooks is told by sources close to the investigation that Earnest Lee Hargon is helping with that search of an area about an acre in size near the Smith/Covington county border south of here.


JAMES POWELL, DISTRICT ATTORNEY: We're moving through. We thought a couple times over the past weekend that we had good information in terms of locating the bodies. Obviously, those were fruitless. We do feel like that what we're working on now may be a little bit more substantial.


MESERVE: Authorities say despite the fact there are no bodies, it became abundantly clear in the course of the investigation that the family had been murdered. No murder weapon has been recovered. Now, prosecutors here do not have to establish a motive, but they have speculated about one in recent days. They think property could be at the core of this, specifically a cattle farm owned by Charles Hargon. He was the adoptive father of Earnest Lee Hargon and the uncle of Michael Hargon. In his first will he left that property to Earnest Lee, but he amended it in January shortly before his death leaving it to Michael. Prosecutors say they will seek the death penalty. Investigators say the case is rock solid. Anderson, back to you.

COOPER: All right, Jeanne Meserve, thank's very much for the update.

Turn to politics. President Bush dip into his $140 million war chest this week, unveiling a $4.4 million ad campaign that will air over the next three weeks. The message isn't all about Kerry or the Democrats. It is setting the record straight about the president, in there words.

Joining us from Washington is the Bush/Cheney campaign spokes person, Terry Holt.

Terry, thanks for being with us program again.


DOBBS: Starting off tomorrow does the general election really begin assuming Kerry sweeps tomorrow night?

HOLT: That's a big assumption. Certainly, it's time now to turn to two-man general election contest. And it's going to be about the big issue that is face America. So, we're prepared for that general election phase to begin.

COOPER: You say it will be about the big issues.

How much is it going to be about personality?

Are you going to be trying to make some differentiation between President Bush, his personality and what some have -- critics have said -- at least some Republican critics have said of John Kerry, that he appears (UNINTELLIGIBLE) or aloof.

Are you going to play up on the criticisms?

HOLT: I'm not sure about that. I think it is more important for most Americans sitting around their kitchen tables at night to talk about the taxes in this economy, about how we keep this economy going and recovering rather than how we throw it back by higher taxes. It's going to be about protecting the homeland. We'll talk about that a little more in terms of what we need to do to make sure that terrorism doesn't come to our shores. It will be about how to win the global war on terror. I think that's mostly what we will deal with. It will be about clarity and steady leader ship versus a record on John Kerry's part of ambivalence towards principle on the key issues that measure.

COOPER: Are we going to hear the term compassionate conservative?

We have not heard it thus far. Is that something that's going to be part of the campaign?

HOLT: Well, I don't want to give away our strategy right here tonight. But I'll tell you that...

COOPER: Come on.

Why not?

HOLT: Compassionate conservatism is a key element to the president's broader message. We're talking about an ownership society where you can own your own healthcare and have more control over it where you own your retirement and where you own your own money, where the government doesn't take all your tax dollars and waste it on federal programs.

COOPER: Terry. Let me interrupt. The Kerry campaign is running a commercial on the Internet, hits the president hard. Let's look at that, then I want you to respond. Lets show this.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We make a pledge, we mean it. We keep our word.

SEN. JOHN KERRY, (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We need a president whose on your side.


COOPER: Both your campaign and the Kerry campaign have run some tough ads on the Internet. I'm interested in this two-tracked ad campaign on TV, what we see on the Internet. They seem tougher on the Internet. Do you intend to respond to this and take on Kerry directly soon in this first round of ads?

HOLT: Well, that's a nasty little piece of video, isn't it?

We've seen millions of dollars spent over the air waves and on Internet on this kind of stuff.

COOPER: You guys have had a pretty tough ad as well running, so I think both sides...

HOLT: Well, we talked about the anger and the pessimism of the Democratic campaign. And we pointed out some obvious discrepancies with John Kerry's record. We're going to focus on the issues that matter most. As far as responding to that trash, I could. I could tell you John Kerry hasn't supported savings accounts for healthcare, that administrations's efforts to improve the recession situation have created jobs. I think we need to continue to focus on steady leadership and how to keep this country moving forward.

COOPER: One last question. The thing you have been focusing on in terms of money, in the $140 million in the big war chest, I believe you spent 40, $41 million on infrastructure which is different than 2000.

Why will that be so important for Republicans this year?

HOLT: Well, we're going to build the most expansive grassroots organization ever fielded in a national campaign for president. We can do that because the president has good grassroot support and it's worth investing, because people who get a phone call about how important the election is, those are things that will matter the most in a close election. As we've said and as we know from the 2000 campaign, it could be very close again, and we don't want to take anything for granted. We want the grassroots people organized in supporting the president all over America.

COOPER: Direct phone calls, a lot of getting out to vote. All right, Terry, thanks very much. Appreciate it.

In tonight's "Raw Politics," the politics of choosing a running mate, it is about reading between a lines you see. When a no is a maybe and the only thing to expect is the unexpected, "Raw Politics."


COOPER (voice-over): During yesterday's debate, again the same question to John Edwards.

Are you in the position of saying, listen. It is late. I'm pretty much play for vice president now?

COOPER: Again. The same answer.


COOPER: In this political high season it seems contenders for V.P. slot on the Democratic ticket are nowhere to be found. Some, like New Mexico's governor denied plain and simple.

GOV. BILL RICHARDSON (D), NEW MEXICO: Already on your program you said you made a pledge and I couldn't do it.

COOPER: Others like Senator Evan Bayh choose to remain invasive when asked if they are a contender.

SEN. EVAN BAYH (D), INDIANA: Judy, I'm flattered you're asked, but that's entirely up to our nominee.

COOPER: But political lingo has its own grammar. And often in politics it means, ask, I'll think about it. Presidential elections are littered with examples of naysayers who changed their minds. In 1980, a defiant George H. Bush publicly slammed the door on the V.P. slot only to walk right through it when he got the call from Ronald Reagan. In 1988, Al Gore called the vice presidency a political dead end. Four years later he was Bill Clinton's V.P. Some times in politics the best way to keep a job alive is to say...

EDWARDS: Oh, no.


COOPER: Oh, no.

Well, still to come are Jews welcome in Saudi Arabia?

We'll take that and talk of a type to the "Nth Degree."

Also in "The Current" tonight, the man behind the "Lord of the Rings" taking on another classic, only kind of hairier. We'll be right back.


COOPER: Time now for "justice Served." Depending on whom you believe, the federal case against Martha Stewart is based either on a trail of evidence or house of cards. Closing arguments began today in the federal conspiracy trial of the home styling expert and her former stockbroker Peter Bacanovic.

With us is now "360" legal analyst, Kimberly Guilfoyle and "Celebrity Justice" correspondent Carolina Buia. Thanks for being with us, both of you.

Kimberly let me start of with you. Closing argument today prosecution said this, if you believe Faneuil's testimony, this trial is over.

Was his testimony that strong?

KIMBERLY GUILFOYLE NEWSOM, "360 LEGAL ANALYST": It was that strong and that powerful. It was devastating to both Bacanovic and Martha Stewart. And I don't think Bacanovic's lawyer did him any good by saying this is a rush to judgment, a house of cards. That simply not going to be enough.

COOPER: Carolina, how strong was the prosecution's closing?

CAROLINA BUIA, "CELEBRITY JUSTICE" CORRESPONDENT: The prosecution was wondering, they were meticulous, they connected the dots step by step. And aside from Doug Faneuil, they provided numerous evidence with E-mails, messages, phone logs and they gave at least seven different reasons of why the $60 story, according to them is a lie.

COOPER: Bacanovic's attorney kept pointing out that in his opinion, Douglas Faneuil's testimony didn't make sense. Bottom line didn't make sense.

Will it really boil down to that one witness in that regard?

NEWSOM: Well, I think it boils down to that one main witness. But again, there was so much evidence to corroborate the statements that he made, even statements by Martha Stewart's best friend. And then the fact that we have evidence that Martha tried to cover up by altering phone messages. The prosecution's case is the one that makes sense. The defense is the one that has a lot of holes in it.

COOPER: We've seen celebrities coming and going, friends and people wanting to watch. Carolina, I guess, actor Brian Dennehy was there today witnessing poor Martha Stewart.

BUIA: Correct. Today, Brian Dennehy. He says he's known Martha Stewart for 30 years. They started out working as stockbrokers. And he also told me and a few other reporters that Martha Stewart told him she got some plea deal from the government, that they wanted her to walk out with handcuffs and do the perp walk and she simply said no way. Not exactly the image she's cultivated throughout the year.

Not the pictures she wants floating (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

Carolina Buia, thanks.

Kimberly Guilfoyle Newsom, thanks.

Moving on to another legal case, Terry Nichols is on trial again for the Oklahoma City bombing of 1995. Already convicted on federal charges, now it is the state's turn to try him.

CNN national correspondent Susan Candiotti has the story.


KATHLEEN TREANOR, VICTIM'S MOTHER: I await the second Nichols trial with faith that justice will prevail.

SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Kathleen Treanor (ph) wrote a book about the bombing deaths of her 4-year-old daughter Ashley killed with her grandparents.

TREANOR: They were murdered. Somebody needs to be held account football that.

CANDIOTTI: Terry Nichols went into the courthouse and was given life without parole in his federal trial. Treanor and other victims want him to pay with his life.

TREANOR: There is not a price tag on justice.

CANDIOTTI: Yet 70 percent of people in Oklahoma polled oppose spending millions of trying Nichols on 161 new felony murder counts.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It is a waste of money to try him again.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It won't bring anybody back, and it's not going to change anything.

CANDIOTTI: Defense lawyers failed to get the trial delayed because of a review over why some documents in evidence might have been mishandled. Nichols' team wants to know whether blasting caps used by bank robbers back in the '90s were similar to blasting caps found by the FBI in Terry Nichols' home after his arrest. The judge refused to postpone the trial and but warned he will throw out the state's charges if it turn out the FBI failed to give Nichols evidence that might have helped him.


CANDIOTTI: Jury selection began on schedule today. For now, potential jurors are being questioned behind closed doors. The process could take some time. Trial testimony will probably won't start for a few weeks in a trial that could last at least six months -- Anderson.

COOPER: All right, Susan Candiotti. Thanks very much, Susan.

So, did you stay up late watching the big Hollywood show?

Well, not to worry if you didn't. We'll bring you up to date on that.

Also tonight's "Current" we salute the Academy Awards in our own very special way. We'll be right back.


COOPER: Time to check on some pop news in "Tonight's Current," let's take a look. At the Academy Awards was a very big night for not only "Lord of the Rings," but for New Zealand where the Oscar pulled in record ratings. Earlier reports indicate all 50 TV sets in the country were tuned into the show. No, at's not true.

We hear director Peter Jackson has tapped a director remake of King Kong. Insiders expect another "Lord of the Rings" trilogy. King Kong vs. Godzilla, King Kong vs. Mothra, and of course, the toughest battle of them all, King Kong vs. Michael Eisner.

Oscar winners weren't the only ones walking away happy last night. Each presenters were given lavish gifts and prizes worth more than $40,000. Because really when you think of it, who needs free stuff more than multimillionaire actors. Makes you feel good.

Donald Trump was recently toasted in Los Angeles. Donald was reportedly surrounded by the likes of Tom Arnold, Harry Hamlin and Don Johnson. It's not clear if they were there to congratulate Trump on the success of "The Apprentice" or they were simply looking for a job. I'm not sure.

The Saudi Kingdom is on the defensive on what it calls a typo on it's tourism Web site, a mistake they said. We take that to the "Nth Degree" just ahead.


COOPER: Tonight, taking the typo to the "Nth Degree." Saudi Arabia wants Americans to like them, really, really, like them. They're spending big bucks to improve PR and even attract tourists. The other day it was discovered on a Saudi government Web site that no, quote, "Jewish people would be allowed visas to visit the Kingdom." Today, the same tourist commission Web site posted this disclaimer. "When erroneous information was noticed on SCT's Web site, it was removed. SCT regrets any inconveniences this may have caused."

Wow! talk about embarrassing. The Saudi Web master probably meant to write that, it isn't the Kingdom's policy to deny visitors Visas on the basis of their religion, because that's what the Saudis are saying, now. You know how it is when you're typing fast, instead of Jewish people, maybe they meant to write newish people, meaning little babies, or foolish people or stubborn people, people who are mulish. The Saudi Embassy tells CNN it is investigating how a mistake could have happened. Our guess is fat fingers on a gummy keyboard. Yes that will work.

I'm Anderson Cooper, thanks for watching.

Coming up next, "PAULA ZAHN NOW."



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