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Could 9/11 Have Been Prevented?; New Hamas Leader Chosen; Gas Prices Reach All-Time High

Aired March 23, 2004 - 19:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): How bin Laden got away, the 9/11 commission hears new details. Could 9/11 have been prevented?

A new Hamas leader is chosen. Palestinians vow revenge. Is the U.S. on the target list?

Fed up with filling up, why have gas prices reached an all time high and is there any relief in sight?

Americans traveling to Asia for sex, the government cracks down on alleged sex tour operators.

Just released dramatic 911 calls, onlookers watched in horror as a gorilla attacked a little boy.

And confused about carbs, Dr. Sanjay Gupta breaks down the good, the bad and the tasty.


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

COOPER: Welcome to 360.

The 9/11 commission tops our broadcast. Just 90 minutes ago on Capitol Hill testimony wrapped up in day one of a two-day hearing by the independent commission. Heavy hitters, as you can see, from two administrations testifying under oath and on the defensive over decisions and indecisions.

In Washington for us tonight, CNN National Security Correspondent David Ensor and CNN Senior White House Correspondent John King, we begin with David Ensor, David, a very busy day on Capitol Hill.

DAVID ENSOR, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Anderson, some tough questions and some revelations too.


ENSOR (voice-over): The commission staff director told of three different times the CIA thought it had Osama bin Laden in its sights, once in particular at a desert camp in Afghanistan in February of '99 where bin Laden stayed for a week but there was a problem.

PHILLIP ZELIKOW, EXEC. DIR., 9/11 COMMISSION: According to CIA officials, policymakers were concerned about the danger that a strike might kill an Emirati prince or other senior officials who might be with bin Laden or close by.

ENSOR: The Clinton administration hesitated, Zelikow says, because near bin Laden were senior men from the United Arab Emirates at a hunting camp and, before long, the opportunity was lost. Then Defense Secretary William Cohen insists there never was a clear shot at bin Laden.

WILLIAM COHEN, FMR. DEFENSE SECRETARY: If the director of Central Intelligence says we don't have it then you have to rely upon that.

ENSOR: The commissioners grilled both Clinton administration and Bush administration officials about why they didn't strike al Qaeda earlier.

SLADE GORTON (R), COMMISSION MEMBER: What made you think even when you took over and got these first briefings given the history of al Qaeda and its successful attacks on Americans that we had the luxury even of seven months before we could make any kind of response much less three years?

ENSOR: Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld said time for planning was needed that just firing off cruise missiles, as the Clinton administration did once, seemed pointless.

DONALD RUMSFELD, DEFENSE SECRETARY: You can hit their terrorist training camps over and over and over and expend millions of dollars in U.S. weapons against targets that are dirt and tents and accomplish next to nothing.


ENSOR: Officials from both Clinton and Bush administration said one problem was that there was never enough actionable intelligence. Wednesday the commission will get a chance to ask why not of George Tenet, Director of Central Intelligence -- Anderson.

COOPER: All right. David Ensor thanks from Washington.

At the White House today, President Bush spoke out about his actions before and after September 11. As David Ensor noted, the president's comments come just one day before Richard Clarke, his former adviser and now chief critic, is set to testify before the commission along with Tenet.

Senior White House Correspondent John King has the latest.


KING (voice-over): The president says there should be no doubt. GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Had my administration had any information that terrorists were going to attack New York City on September 11, we would have acted.

KING: Mr. Bush also rebutted any suggestion he ignored or underestimated the terror threat.

BUSH: Whether it be a Hamas threat or an al Qaeda threat we take them very seriously in this administration.

KING: The president's early commitment to confronting al Qaeda is called into question in this new book by former White House counterterrorism czar Richard Clarke and is a major focus of the commission investigating the September 11 attacks.

Secretary of State Powell says the president compared the Clinton administration approach to al Qaeda as swatting flies and wanted more.

COLIN POWELL, SECRETARY OF STATE: He decided early on that we needed to be more aggressive in going after terrorists and especially al Qaeda.

KING: That more aggressive plan was ordered soon after Mr. Bush took office on his desk when the Twin Towers fell, too long in the making to some.

BOB KERREY (D), COMMISSION MEMBER: Why in God's name I got to wait eight months to get a plan?

KING: The hearings are in part a credibility test for the Bush White House as Clarke and others suggest the administration put al Qaeda on the back burner early on because it was obsessed with Iraq.

PAUL WOLFOWITZ, DEPUTY SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: I've never been dismissive of al Qaeda and I think precisely because I think terrorism is such a serious problem.


KING: So, the Bush White House is insisting that from day one it viewed al Qaeda as a serious threat. It also says that it did what it could based on the intelligence it had but, Anderson, more questions about this White House's credibility, as you noted, Richard Clarke in the witness chair tomorrow.

COOPER: And a big day on the witness stand that will be. All right, John King thanks.

Key administration officials are still refusing to testify and there is lots of controversy still swirling around that. I'll ask a member of the 9/11 commission if the White House is doing enough in his opinion to cooperate. That interview just ahead here on 360.

Happening right now in the Middle East, Israeli tanks have entered a Palestinian refugee camp in the southern Gaza. Earlier, tens of thousands of Palestinians filled the streets of the West Bank and clashed with Israeli soldiers, as you can see, heated exchanges over the assassination of Hamas leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin.

Also today, Hamas picked an interim leader. He's Abdel Aziz al- Rantisi, seen here. Israelis warn every Hamas leader is a marked man, as is Yasser Arafat but the questions remain will Hamas strike back even at the U.S.?

CNN's Ben Wedeman reports.


BEN WEDEMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Is the United States responsible for these women's grief? Israel fired the shots that killed the founder of Hamas but Palestinians say the U.S. by backing Israel shares the blame.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If we not kill America and Israel they will kill us today, tomorrow, after tomorrow.

WEDEMAN: Bush administration officials initially expressed understanding for Israel's reasons for the attack then back pedaled calling the killing deeply troubling. That the American position took several hours to solidify did not escape notice here.

Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qorei, local officials, security forces and ordinary Palestinians all lined up under the banners of Hamas to pay their respects. Hamas leaders insist the U.S. will not be targeted but is partially to blame.

MAHMOUD AL-ZAHAR, HAMAS LEADER: Everybody here from the (unintelligible) including Hamas considering American administration as a partner in the crimes committed against the Palestinian people.

WEDEMAN: Among war weary Palestinians little enthusiasm to broaden the conflict beyond the narrow confines of this crowded land.

"If we attack America the whole world will be against us," says this mourner. "We already have enough trouble with Israel."

Trouble aplenty and on both sides agreement, more trouble to come.


WEDEMAN: And a hint of that trouble this evening when Abdel Aziz al-Rantisi, the man who's been appointed temporarily to run the organization in the West Bank and Gaza said Hamas is going to target Israelis everywhere -- Anderson.

COOPER: All right, Ben Wedeman live in Gaza thanks Ben.

In Ramadi, Iraq today rage in the streets over Israel's killing of Sheikh Yassin. About 1,000 Iraqis, some throwing rocks, took out their anger on U.S. troops. The Iraqi Police moved in to break up the crowd after two of their trucks were set on fire and someone tried to fire a rocket-propelled grenade. At least two police officers and three protesters were wounded. Another eight Iraqi police officers were shot dead when gunmen opened fire on this van in the southern city of Hilla. Meanwhile, two other officers were killed in an attack in the northern city of Kirkuk and two Iraqi civilians were killed by mortars in Mosul.

We're about to show you some pictures, just horrific pictures here, British troops on fire in Basra. Yesterday, at least 14 Brits were hit by explosives fired by a crowd angry after not getting jobs with the local customs police.

Back here in the United States, if you're feeling pain at the gas pump you are not alone. The AAA says the average cost of gasoline hit an all time record in the U.S. today and the price is still climbing.

Jen Rogers explains exactly what is driving the cost of gas.


JEN ROGERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's a record few Americans will cheer, gasoline prices peaking at a new all time high Tuesday, the nationwide average nearly $1.74 per gallon.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's nothing you can do, really. You just got to pay.

ROGERS: And paying can be painful from coast to coast. AAA reports the highest prices are in California, coming in at $2.14 a gallon. Move east and it doesn't get much better, Arizona $1.91, New York $1.86, Florida $1.77.

ROBERT SINCLAIR, AAA: Usually at this time of year record low prices and we usually don't see higher prices until the Memorial Day weekend which signals the beginning of the summer driving season. The fact that this is happening now is a big deal because really prices should be much lower.

ROGERS: In fact, the government isn't predicting relief around the corner, forecasting gas prices will jump another ten cents a gallon this spring. The problem a lesson in Economics 101, high demand here in the U.S. and booming China facing off against tight supply thanks to OPEC and older refineries struggling with capacity.

Add to the costly mix a seasonal slowdown from refiners shifting to special blends of cleaner burning gas that doesn't cause as much air pollution during the hot summer months.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a real big hassle, really big hassle.

ROGERS: Even with pump prices at an all time high, on relative terms adjusted for inflation $1.74 is cheap. In 1980, gas cost more than $2.50 in 2004 dollars.


ROGERS: Now continued record highs are fast turning pump prices into a political issue, one you may be hearing much more about during this presidential election year -- Anderson.

COOPER: All right, Jen Rogers in L.A., thanks Jen.

The U.S. has had its share of headaches at the gas pump, of course. Jen Rogers mentioned 1980. Let's flash back now to the most memorable one perhaps in 1973, remember, gas lines stretched for miles as a result of an oil embargo that year?

OPEC nations led the embargo because of western countries' support for Israeli in the Yom Kippur War. The price of gas skyrocketed going from 30 cents a gallon to $1.20 at the height of the crisis. The embargo ended in March, 1974. That was a quick flashback.

We're following several developing stories right now cross country. Let's take a look. Washington going broke, Medicare's hospital benefits fund will run out of money in 2019, seven years sooner than expected.

In a report issued today by the trustees of the Social Security and Medicare programs says that Social Security itself will go broke in 2042 unless the programs are changed?

Pasadena, California, Martian Beach, NASA says there was once flowing water on the red planet briny saltwater at least two inches deep that could have supported life.

Miami, Florida now going to pot, today police, a school and a state's attorney are trying to figure out why a 5-year-old had a bag of marijuana on him at school, elementary school. The Kindergartner was caught sprinkling it on a classmate's lasagna in the cafeteria, not a good idea.

New York now, Queen of Soul suffering, Aretha Franklin is spending her 62nd birthday in a hospital. Her New York publicist says the singer went in over the weekend with an undisclosed illness. The location of the hospital is also undisclosed.

We hope she gets well soon, as well as Wendy, a long-time viewer of 360. She's in the hospital. It's her birthday today. I want to send her birthday wishes as well.

Jacksonville, Florida now, a tangled web, government agencies are trying to free a Northern White Whale that's been caught in a fishing net since last week off a Florida coast. Rescuers have been trying to get close enough to cut the net away. We'll see what happens. That's a look at stories cross country for you tonight.

Americans touring for sex, did a New York travel agency arrange exploitation of the worst kind? Find out why the feds moved in to make a bust.

Plus, faking happiness while fighting depression the dark secret that is keeping millions of us from getting help.

And are you tired of all the carb confusion, do high calories really even matter anymore? I have no idea. Dr. Sanjay Gupta is going to come in and help sort it all out for us.

First, let's take a look inside the box for top stories on tonight's network newscasts.


COOPER: Well, in New York today two men charged with operating a travel agency. Now they were not booking trips to Disneyland. Prosecutors say they were taking clients on organized sex tours of Southeast Asia. The two men say they are not guilty.

CNN's Jason Carroll has details.


JASON CARROLL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Scantily-clad go- go dancers working a nightclub in the Philippines, the narrator explains what patrons can expect from a visit.

NARRATOR: They will be your companion for the night or stay with you around the clock.

CARROLL: This from the promotional video of a travel agency called Big Apple Oriental Tours, not to be confused with other companies using the Big Apple name.

The New York State Attorney General's Office says the agency wasn't only selling tours, the agency's owners were indicted in what the State Department calls the first case charging a U.S. travel agency with promoting prostitution.

DOUGLAS ALLEN, BIG APPLE ORIENTAL TOURS: We are breaking absolutely no laws.

CARROLL: Douglas Allen and his business partner Norman Barabash, seen here in the video, run their agency out of this home in Queens.

ALLEN: Our business is into helping single men find wives and get married. We've been attacked viciously by the feminazis.

CARROLL: What are feminazis?

ALLEN: Women who basically hate men.

CARROLL: Feminist Gloria Steinem four years ago pushed law enforcement to go after Big Apple Oriental Tours. The human rights watchdog group called Equality Now has been investigating them for years.

JESSICA NEUWIRTN, PRESIDENT, EQUALITY NOW: The point for us is that they're part of a systematic effort to generate a demand for sex tourism.

DANIEL HOCHHEISER, BARABASH'S LAWYER: This case is more about a special interest group by the name of Equality Now, which shopped this case around and politics not about evidence and a jury will see that. (END VIDEOTAPE)

CARROLL: But tour goers won't be seeing ads from Big Apple Oriental anytime soon. A restraining order barring those ads is in place until the criminal case is settled.

COOPER: So, these two charmers, Douglas and Norman, who you interviewed what do they do? They basically got a bunch of guys together and they would take them over there?

CARROLL: Well, they advertise on the Internet. They have pamphlets that they send out. They find these people who are interested in these types of tour groups and these, you know, these types of trips.

COOPER: Yes, choose your words carefully.

CARROLL: That's exactly what I'm doing. And they get them to come into these things but, again, I want to make it clear they say it's all about finding these women for marriage and not about sex.

COOPER: All right. We'll leave it there.


COOPER: Thanks very much, fascinating, Jason Carroll.

How big is the problem of sex tourism? Let's get some perspective. It is estimated that two million children, mostly girls, are exploited each year in a multibillion dollar commercial sex trade worldwide. That is according to the latest numbers from UNICEF. Now listen to this, in Cambodia in Southeast Asia, one in three prostitutes is a child.

Well moving on we're tracking a number of developing stories around the globe right now. Let's check the uplink.

Taipei, Taiwan, push coming to shove, lawmakers trade blows over the weekend's disputed election. The president won by fewer than 30,000 votes. He denies any vote rigging. This scuffle broke out as lawmakers were debating holding a recount. That is rough politics.

Moscow, unfit for service this nuclear-powered ship was rushed back to port today. The Russian navy chief said it's so unsafe it could explode at any moment. The commander later backtracked, said he was misquoted by news agencies.

South Waziristan, Pakistan, fighting continues, they say. The standoff between Pakistani troops and suspected al Qaeda militants enters its second week. Tribal leaders have been unable to negotiate a surrender with the militants. A resistance to the army's campaign appears to be spreading.

Tripoli, Libya now, diplomatic delegation, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State William Burns in Libya meeting with leader Moammar Gadhafi. Burns is the most senior U.S. official to visit since the early 1980s.

Along the U.S.-Mexico border retirement woes. Mexican officials are looking for ways to recycle millions of scrap tires. Right now they're just being dumped in towns along the border. The tires are a major fire hazard, breed disease carrying insects and that is tonight's uplink for you.

In New York City today, a Manhattan fitness club is facing a $1,100,000 lawsuit for allegedly taking the whole no-pain-no-gain thing a little bit too far.

CNN's Alina Cho has the story.


ALINA CHO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It is arguably the most popular New Year's resolution in America, exercise more, lose weight. That's exactly what one man was hoping for when he joined this crunch gym in New York in January. Thirty-six-year-old Fred Widland was given a complimentary session with his trainer and, according to his lawyer, told the trainer he was not in shape.

TOM MULLANEY, ALLEGED VICTIM'S LAWYER: He ate and drank socially but regularly, had quite smoking recently.

CHO: But that warning was allegedly ignored. Widland is now suing Crunch Fitness and the trainer for more than $1 million for allegedly working him out way beyond his physical limits.

MULLANEY: Mr. Widland is someone who could have died as a result of this.

CHO (on camera): According to the lawsuit, three days later Widland checked himself into this New York hospital where his lawyer says he was diagnosed with exertional rhabdomyolysis, a condition that is toxic to the kidneys.

DR. JORDAN METZL, SPORTS MEDICINE PHYSICIAN: This is, you know, quite a rare phenomena but it does happen.

CHO (voice-over): Crunch fitness issued a statement saying: "The allegations surrounding Mr. Widland's claim appear to be highly suspect. We will be conducting a thorough internal investigation."

CARLA VARRIALE, PERSONAL INJURY LAWYER: The plaintiff has a significant hurdle to get over. One of the most important ones is his own comparative fault.

CHO: Meaning maybe he could have just said no. That's up to the judge.

Alina Cho, CNN, New York.


COOPER: Well, in response to this story, a Crunch spokesman released this statement: "Crunch stands by its statement and the hundreds of qualified personal trainers it employs. We hope that these allegations do not deter the 66 percent of Americans who are obese and overweight and who need diet and fitness guidance."

Moving on now, faking happiness on the job, how depression has become a dirty little secret that is costing American companies millions.

Also tonight, terror and intel under oath, who knew what when? We're going to talk with a member of the 9/11 commission.

And a little later, up in flames, the FBI siege at Waco, so whatever happened to those Branch Davidians? How quickly we forget. It's coming up.


COOPER: Well in this age of Oprah and Dr. Phil, it may be hard to believe but there is still a dirty little secret in corporate America, depression. According to a new study up to two-thirds of employees who suffer from depression keep it to themselves because they fear it's going to hurt them in the office.

Joining me now is Dr. Thomas Carli of the University of Michigan. He helped spearhead the study. Dr. Carli, thanks for being with us. You know if someone has cancer, if someone has a heart problem they tell their boss about it. It's fascinating to me that two-thirds of the people in this study didn't want to tell their employers about having depression. Is the stigma still so great?

DR. THOMAS CARLI, UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN: The stigma or discrimination is very real and people's concern that this will affect their career trajectory is very real and very powerful. It is much like cancer was 25 years ago.

COOPER: And yet it has a huge impact on the workforce, on coworkers, on productivity and the like.

CARLI: Correct. We estimate that about ten percent of the workforce will suffer from depression in the course of a year, that it costs American businesses $88 billion a year. Only 30 percent of that is in direct treatment. The rest of it is in lost productivity, disability, absences, et cetera.

COOPER: Let's talk about what companies can do to help their employees because I also saw I think in your study that a large number of the employees who actually did come forward and talked to their bosses about the depression actually got a positive response.

CARLI: That's true. There is an amazing acceptance at the benefit manager and middle management level, a real willingness to deal with these issues and we have to encourage that kind of dialogue. Businesses can encourage the dialogue and can create an accepting atmosphere in a lot of different ways.

COOPER: What are some of them that you would recommend? CARLI: Well, screening, confidential screening that allows an employee, for example, to go on to the Internet late at night in the privacy of their own home to see whether, in fact, some of their symptoms are, in fact, of depression. Training of supervisors and mid-management people so that they understand the various ways depression can manifest in the workplace. Good and readily accessible mental health benefits so that the person can get treatment rapidly.

COOPER: And that in general, of course, a problem for a lot of people still not having the benefits that extend to some sort of therapy or treatment.

CARLI: Absolutely.

COOPER: All right, Dr. Thomas Carli, it's a fascinating study, appreciate you being on the program.

CARLI: Thank you very much for having me.

COOPER: Coming up, the 9/11 commission is the White House cooperating fully? Coming up reaction from a member of the panel, we're going to talk live from Washington.

Plus, stopping carb confusion, how should you stock your food cabinet? Dr. Sanjay Gupta weighs in on that.

And horror on tape, hear the 911 tapes when a gorilla escaped from a Texas zoo. Be right back.


COOPER: Let's catch up on some of our top stories in "The Reset." Washington. 9/11 Commission hearing. An independent panel investigating whether the September 11, 2001 terror attacks were preventable will take more testimony tomorrow. Today, top officials from the Clinton and Bush administrations defended their actions in dealing with al Qaeda. Tomorrow's witnesses will include Richard Clarke, the former White House counterterrorism expert who is deeply critical of the Bush administration. We'll talk to a member of the panel in just a few moments.

Berlin. Assassination threat. The German president is dropping a country from his planned tour of Africa because of a threat to his life. Germany says its secret service learned Islamic forces were planning to kill the president in Djibouti.

Washington. Water on Mars. Jubilant NASA scientists say they are now confident the Red Planet once had at least one salty sea. NASA reported today that the rover Opportunity has found the first evidence of rocks altered by water on Mars. Water, of course, is essential for life as we know it.

New York. Record gas prices. AAA confirms what you probably already experience at the pump. The price is an all-time high. The national average for self-serve regular just shy of $1.74. That's a quick look at "The Reset."

More now on the 9/11 Commission hearings on Capitol Hill. Much of the focus today was on whether enough was done to stop Osama bin Laden before the September 11 attacks were carried out.


COLIN POWELL, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: At no time during the early months of our administration were we presented with a vetted, viable, operational proposal which would have led to an opportunity to kill, capture, or otherwise neutralize Osama bin Laden.

DONALD RUMSFELD, U.S. DEFENSE SECRETARY: Even if bin Laden had been captured or killed in the weeks before September 11, no one I know believes that it would necessarily have prevented September 11.


COOPER: Joining us from Washington, Richard Ben-Veniste, a member of the 9/11 Commission. Richard, appreciate you being on the program tonight. The White House says the level of cooperation they've given to your commission is unprecedented. It may be unprecedented. Is it enough, in your opinion?

RICHARD BEN-VENISTE (D), 9/11 COMMISSION MEMBER: Well, we've had fits and starts. In some areas we have gotten a lot of cooperation. And as you know, there are others where we've had to use a blow torch and pliers.

COOPER: And still, you got not the cooperation you've been looking for on some fronts, Condoleezza Rice in particular. She was asked to testify in front of the full commission, in public. She is refusing to do that. Is that acceptable to you?

BEN-VENISTE: Well, it isn't. The commission unanimously voted to have Condoleeza Rice appear and we're just terribly disappointed the White House has decided not to make her available. We think the reasons that they have provided, supposedly on grounds of separation of powers, is really pretextual. Today, I referred to a study by the Congressional Research Service of the Library of Congress. I can show it to you. In 2002, they did a study, and they found that several presidential advisers, including former national security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski, Sandy Berger on two occasions, a host of other individuals have testified and cooperated with Congress.

COOPER: So you're saying there is precedent for it?

BEN-VENISTE: There certainly is.

COOPER: You called her not testifying yesterday -- I heard you on TV calling it shameful. Why is it so important, in your opinion, to get her to testify publicly? She's already given, as the White House will quickly tell you, she's already given some four hours of testimony privately.

BEN-VENISTE: Well, all of the individuals who testified today and who will testify tomorrow have given us private testimony. That's not really the issue. We have a function in airing out and providing the public with a record that they can see of the individuals and what they say about what occurred, and I take that very seriously. Dr. Rice, who I think is a very nice, articulate, brilliant person, appeared before us, but she's also appeared on every single television network in the last couple of weeks, even some networks I never heard of. Why she shouldn't appear before the one commission which has been designated to investigate and explore these issues is mystifying. There are questions which require clarification. She's made some statements which in my view, and the view of others, needs some explaining.

COOPER: The White House again, to play devil's advocate with you, say they have handed over 2 million documents, 60 compact discs, 800 video cassettes, 100 interviews with administration officials and four hours of testimony from Condoleeza rice. Also, the president and the vice president are only going to be speaking to the two chairs of the commission. Is that enough, in your opinion?

BEN-VENISTE: We don't think so. In no other circumstance have members of the commission been excluded from interviews.

COOPER: Have they made the reasoning clear to you because we actually asked the White House to come on and talk about their response to the commission. They were unwilling to.

BEN-VENISTE: Yes. They have not made it clear as to why they will not meet with the commission as a whole. There's been no suggestion that there has been anything but professional, courteous, appropriate questioning of individuals who have done 1,000 interviews. We feel that the credibility of the commission, that the cooperation that the president has pledged really require that the president cooperate in this regard.

COOPER: I know you've had a long day. Richard Ben-Veniste, we appreciate you spending time with us. Thank you.

Over the years, no matter what the controversy, commissions have been set up in search of answers. Sometimes they find them. Most often they find raw politics.


COOPER (voice-over): When investigative commissions are set up, they tend to follow a similar pattern. They're called bipartisan and independent. On the 9/11 commission sit five Democrats and five Republicans. Their chairman is considered above the fray like former New Jersey governor Kean or Chief Justice Earl Warren in 1963. And the administration claims that the commission will have unrestricted investigative power.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This investigation should carefully examine all the evidence and follow all the facts wherever they lead.

COOPER: But, often, where they lead is to politics. That's where things get messy. In 1944, congressional investigations into Pearl Harbor became a campaign issue for Republicans who said President Roosevelt had failed to prevent the attack. In 1963, the Warren Commission was set up to investigate the assassination of President Kennedy. Many critics claim President Johnson wanted an investigation in name only. Today, again, the 9/11 hearings also took on some partisan cast. Democrats accusing some members of the administration of not cooperating.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I hope Dr. Rice will reconsider and come before our commission for the sake of the American people.

COOPER: Republicans questioning the Clinton administration's record on al Qaeda.

JAMES R. THOMPSON (R), FMR. ILLINOIS GOVERNOR: None of the years of the Clinton effort, as vigorous as it was, either stopped the spread of al Qaeda, brought us Osama bin Laden, or prevented September 11.

COOPER: A Washington commission set up to investigate raw intelligence often ends up facing raw politics.


COOPER: Well, millionaire murderer. Years later the man who married the victim's wife is charged in the bizarre case. Just ahead.

The Branch Davidians lose a legal battle. How quickly we forget their past.

Horror at the zoo. Hear the 911 tapes after a gorilla breaks free and attacks. That all coming up.


COOPER: Every Tuesday we look at a story that was once a hot headline grabber. Tonight, the Branch Davidians. The Supreme Court has refused to hear an appeal by survivors of the 1993 siege on the Branch Davidian complex near Waco, Texas. Now we have to ask, whatever happened to the cult at the center of the firestorm? And it reminds us just "How Quickly We Forget."


COOPER (voice-over): The image was riveting, a raging fire that consumed the Waco compound. When it was over, 75 Branch Davidians were dead, 25 of them children. The cult began as a distant relative of the 7th Day Adventists. Its leader, David Koresh, seemed to be herding his flock toward a fiery word. Just listen to the chilling words from one of his last writings. "Fear me for I have you in my snare. I forewarn you, the Lake Waco area of Old Mount Carmel will be terribly shaken." For 51 days, the Branch Davidians held off ATF agents trying to execute a search warrant. Four ATF agents died in a shootout with the group.

After the siege came the accusations. Horror stories of rampant child abuse within the compound. And the questions. Who started the fire? ATF agents using incendiary tear gas, or Davidians themselves?

Claims of a cover-up turned into a literal trial by fire for Attorney General Janet Reno, in office for only five weeks when the siege began.

JANET RENO, ATTORNEY GENERAL: I'm accountable. The buck stops with me.

COOPER: Eventually, a commission, headed by Senator John Danforth, placed the full blame on Koresh, but survivors and family members have been fighting ever since. Today, a new church stands on the site of the siege, along with a museum. The Branch Davidians, the group has reportedly split into pro- and anti-Koresh factions.

"The Dallas Morning News" said a year ago there were about a dozen members in the anti-Koresh group. Other sources say there are about two dozen members in the pro-Koresh group, which doesn't recruit new members, because they believe only their leader can do that, and they're still waiting for his return.


COOPER: Well, an update now on a story we told you about earlier. An attempt is under way off the Atlantic coast to save an injured whale. But the efforts face some long odds. CNN's Jennifer Coggiola has the story.


JENNIFER COGGIOLA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): There are only about 300 North Atlantic right whales in the entire world, and this one is in serious trouble. It became entangled in fishing gear, and if the ropes can't be removed, they will cause a deadly infection. The U.S. Coast Guard and scientists are trying to help, but it's a race against time.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If we don't get this gear off, it is just going to be getting worse and worse, and the gear is going to become embedded, infection will set in, and it will be a slow, agonizing death.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This one is going to be extremely difficult. I don't think we have seen an entanglement of this nature yet anywhere in the world that has actually successfully been completely disentangled.

COGGIOLA: Rescue workers caught up with the whale off the Florida coast. They attached buoys in order to slow it down, and then they went to work removing the ropes.


COGGIOLA: They were only partially successful, but they did manage to plant a tracking device so they can follow the whale and try again. A similar effort to save a right whale took place off the coast of Massachusetts three years ago. That effort ended in failure, when that whale swam into deeper water outside the area where rescue boats could maneuver.


COGGIOLA: Rescuers are hoping for better luck this time. They tracked the whale north to a location off the coast of Charleston, South Carolina. If weather permits, the rescue effort will resume tomorrow.

Jennifer Coggiola, CNN, reporting.


COOPER: Coming up, the truth about carbs. What's good and what's bad. Dr. Sanjay Gupta gives us the facts on carbohydrates, what you should eat, what you should stay away from. And somewhere in between.

Also tonight, panic at the zoo. Hear the 911 calls as a gorilla goes on a rampage.


COOPER: All right, cutting down on carbohydrates, it's fast becoming is a staple for many plans. Personally, I'm sick of hearing people talk about it. It is not easy knowing what is good and what is not. Helping us clear up the confusion is our medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta.


DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Low carb doesn't mean good carb nor does it mean you are going to lose weight.

DR. STOART TRAGER, ATKINS PHYSICIANS COUNCIL: Clearly good carbohydrates are the ones most slowly digested, the vegetables that are full of .

GUPTA: No surprise, good carbs are in fruit and vegetables. They might be high in sugar but worth it, say low carb supporters because they are packed with nutrients. As far as bad carbs, yes, that piece of white bread has more bad carbs than wheat bread, as do most processed foods. So, what makes it so bad?

See, it is not so much the carbs or even the sugar but insulin which is the problem. Eat more than your body needs and your sugar goings up and dries up your insulin, storing those calories into fat. No question we are a low carb crazy country right now, and everyone it seems everyone is going on a high protein diet. But the real reason they work might be because they are eating fewer calories. Bottom line, both diets, low carbs or not probably have the same success rates. What counts in the end is calories. It might just be that high fat, high protein make you full quicker and you eat less. Eating less and losing more. Hmm, go figure.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN, Atlanta.


COOPER: But I like pasta. Oh well.

Time to check on pop news in tonight's "Current." Lets take a look.

Courtney Love tells "Interview" Magazine, she once escorted Senator John Kerry to an Elton John concert. Love says what she liked about Kerry is that he trusted her and took her arm without once ever saying, Courtney, you are making a scene.

Actor Steven Segal has a new role. He's reportedly the protector the 20-year-old Panchen Lama of Tibet. Segal a student of Buddhism says any wisdom he has will be at her disposal, which we say to her use with extreme caution.

Madonna announce she will be going on tour this summer. She's going to be singing a lot of her greatest hits. Apparently her recent album was not a huge commercial success. A spokesperson for Madonna says, the war in Iraq may have contributed to the weak sales of the record. Who new Saddam Hussein was such a big fan of the material girl. Didn't know.

Tonight, Joey Buttafuoco is behind bars a day after being sentenced to a year in jail for auto insurance fraud. Buttafuoco was also given a fine, probation and we hoped an order to obey the 15 minutes of fame rule.

Tonight police are releasing 911 calls from frantic visitors last week at the Dallas Zoo. The calls were made as a 300 pound gorilla went on a attacking two people and a small child.

We get details now from CNN's Ed Lavandera.


ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): People scrambled for safety as a 300 pound gorilla got loose in the Dallas zoo and ruled the man-made jungle. Frightened visitors called for help.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My name is (UNINTELLIGIBLE). I'm in the Dallas Zoo. There's a gorilla loose and it's going after people.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you serious?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm serious. I swear to God. I am not joking. There's people yelling and it's going after people.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Back all the way out to the other side. Keep moving all the way back.

LAVANDERA: Police officers swarmed the zoo. You can hear the panic as 911 operators tried to track the gorilla.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What part of the zoo is it in?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is at the wildlife.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Please, hurry up.

LAVANDERA: One employee kept calm.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is Norma at the Dallas Zoo. We have a gorilla out in the aviary. We need police here.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The gorilla is loose?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The gorilla is inside an exhibit inside of the aviary.

LAVANDERA: Not even a report of a visitor being attacked could startle the zoo's secretary.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The gorilla has attacked an individual.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK, we'll send an ambulance.

LAVANDERA: It was Cheryl Reichert who had just came face to face with the gorilla.

CHERYL REICHERT, ATTACKED BY GORILLA: He came up to me as close as this table is and he growl and he roared at me. I knew if I looked at him in the eyes he would probably kill me. So I just let him bite me, let attack me and let him get it over with.

LAVANDERA: The ordeal lasted 40 minutes. He was shot and killed by police and it is still not known how he escaped.

Ed Lavandera, CNN, Dallas.


COOPER: Well, coming up, product placement. You see it in the movie, you see it at ballpark. Well, now, it's making its way into books. Coming up, the novel pitch -- get it -- to the "Nth Degree."

Tomorrow, Kobe Bryant's accuser forced to testify. The two come face to face in court. We'll be right back.


COOPER: Tonight, taking product placement to the "Nth Degree." A young British novelist named Carroll Matthews (ph) is being paid by Ford Motors to have her characters in her books and stories drive the company's cars. A certain Matthews herein for instances, whizzes around in her "Rather snazzy Ford Fiesta complete with six CD-changer, air conditioning and thoroughly comfy seats. It's a pity, we think, that some of the great novelist of the past didn't have access to such an extra source of income. Their lives would have been more comfortable and their works a bit different. "Call me Ishmael," the old sailor said, holding a loft a mug of Frosty Cold Old Buzzard Ale, the official ale of the professional Whaler's Association. Elementary, my dear Watson, only Fortnum and Bowser (ph) individually wrapped trinkle treats, Toughens the Tin are worth killing for. It is a far, far better rest than I go to than I am ever known upon a custom made Chumlies (ph) Mattress with built with lumbar support at no extra charge. Boy, talk about being born too soon. I'm Anderson Cooper, thanks for watching. Coming up next "PAULA ZAHN NOW."


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