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New Photos of Iraqi Prisoner Abuse Released; Bush Backs Rumsfeld

Aired May 10, 2004 - 19:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, I'm Anderson Cooper.
New photos of Iraqi prisoner abuse and word that there are hundreds more yet to be released, 360 starts right now.


COOPER (voice-over): The president backs his embattled defense secretary but can Donald Rumsfeld survive?

Seven reservists charged with abuse but are they being scapegoated for what their superiors wanted done? We'll talk to lawyers for Private Lynndie England.

It's back to Eagle for Lakers star Kobe Bryant. If he pleads not guilty, will his accuser's sexual past go on trial?

What does John Kerry want in a running mate? We'll take a look at the veep stakes top three possible contenders.

And, are you tired of information overload? One man's mission to give you back your quiet time.


COOPER: Good evening.

Up first, hail from the chief, President Bush calls his embattled Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld superb, strong and courageous. The praise comes as another photo of abuse at Abu Ghraib Prison seen here is published. President Bush also reviewed other photos and still pictures from a video not yet made public.

CNN's Senior White House Correspondent John King has the latest.


JOHN KING, CNN SR. WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A stand by your man moment at the Pentagon.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You're doing a superb job. You are a strong secretary of defense and our nation owes you a debt of gratitude.

KING: Sending a strong signal of support was not Mr. Bush's only business. Before leaving, the president and his war cabinet reviewed more than a dozen classified color photographs of abuses, including inappropriate sexual behavior. Mr. Bush was described by his spokesman as disgusted and the administration is bracing for more political and diplomatic fallout when they become public.

BUSH: Those responsible for these abuses have caused harm that goes well beyond the walls of a prison.

KING: In an armed forces radio and television interview, Mr. Bush described the abuses as isolated.

BUSH: The actions of a few will not be allowed to stain the honor of the mighty United States military.

KING: But the White House also concedes it was warned late last year as the International Red Cross compiled this report suggesting systemic abuses in Iraq.

SCOTT MCCLELLAN, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: We're aware of some of the issues that the Red Cross raised and we've been working to address those issues.

KING: The fallout includes a big political toll on the president. Just four in ten Americans approve of how he is handling Iraq, a drop of seven points in three weeks and just 44 percent now say it was worth going to war, a drop of 12 points in two months.

DAVID GERGEN, FMR. WHITE HOUSE COMMUNICATIONS DIR.: The problem for the president now is not only a warning flag flying over the war on terrorism but that events seem to be spinning out of his control.


KING: A little more evidence of that fallout, the president's overall job approval rating now stands at 46 percent in our new poll. That, Anderson, is the low point of his presidency and 62 percent of Americans say they are dissatisfied with the direction of the country.

COOPER: All right. John King thanks very much live from the White House.

The slow leaking of these photos to the media has kept this story front page news for days now. At the Pentagon, high level discussions are underway right now over whether to make a full public release of all the photos and video of abuse of Iraqi prisoners at the hands of the U.S. troops.

CNN Senior Pentagon Correspondent Jamie McIntyre has that side of the story.


JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN. SR. PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Sources say the Pentagon is considering whether to release more than 1,000 images, as well as a small number of short video computer files known as MPEGs. While many are described as innocuous, several hundred pictures, 200 to 300 by one estimate document prisoner abuse, although sources say there are multiple images of the same event.

One official who has seen some of the digital video clips says they show abuse and humiliation consistent with what is seen on the still pictures. Other Pentagon officials who have not seen the videos say some show two U.S. soldiers, a male and a female, having sex with each other. Some of the worst pictures are said to show Iraqi prisoners sodomized with various objects, including chemical light sticks.

Army Private Lynndie England, who is now pregnant and facing criminal charges is seen in one photograph holding a leash attached to a naked Iraqi prisoner. Her lawyers say the photo was staged, taken to intimidate other prisoners, and that she was handed the leash and asked to pose.

GIROGIA RA'SHADO, ATTORNEY FOR PFC LYNNDIE ENGLAND: Those photos, many of the photos that you see involving our client, are staged. They're psychological operation photos. Those were instructed and the ones that specifically were instructed were inferred by the civilian intelligence people who essentially took control.

MCINTYRE (on camera): Pentagon officials are divided on whether to make the pictures public, some arguing their release will only further violate the Geneva Conventions against humiliating prisoners and possibly compromise future investigations but others, including some senior officials, say it's best to get it all out now instead of waiting for the inevitable leaks.

Jamie McIntyre, CNN, the Pentagon.


COOPER: Later on 360, you're going to hear from other members of Private Lynndie England's legal team. They speak out on the charges she faces. That is just ahead.

But first, the prosecution in the prisoner abuse scandal will take place next week in Baghdad, the first prosecution Specialist Jeremy Sivits is one of seven U.S. soldiers facing a military court martial.

His family and friends are standing by him unwilling to believe that he was capable of torturing and humiliating Iraqi prisoners, insisting he's a dedicated soldier who was just following orders.


COOPER (voice-over): The charges and possible punishment faced by Specialist Jeremy Sivits are less severe than what some of the other six U.S. soldiers are facing and some reports say the 24-year- old could plead guilty.

Sivits hasn't yet appeared in any of the troubling photos that have rocked the U.S. military and shocked the nation but he is accused of taking some of the pictures. Sivits, an Army reservist, worked at McDonald's before being trained as a military mechanic. He was eventually assigned to the 372nd Military Police Company.

For his family who has stood steadfastly behind him, there are more questions than answers like why was a young man trained to work in the motor pool guarding detainees in the notorious Abu Ghraib prison?

Sivits' father, a 22-year-old military veteran, has told the press the blame lies not with his son but with his son's commanders, saying: "All it is, is lack of leadership, lack of instruction and lack of standard operating procedure and everyone at the top is covering their butts."

Specialist Sivits' court martial will be held in public in the Baghdad Convention Center and, though no cameras will be allowed, it will be open to the press, including the Arab press.


COOPER: Those soldiers facing military justice have the odds stacked against them. Let's puts courts martial in perspective. In 2003, for all branches of the armed services, there were 7,340 courts martial trials. Only 243 people were acquitted. That is a conviction rate of 97 percent.

Well, a Red Cross report that John King mentioned on the prison abuse that was given to the Pentagon in February has been leaked to the media. In the 24-page document, the Red Cross says U.S. troops kept Iraqi prisoners naked for days in darkness at Abu Ghraib and were told by an intelligence officer in charge it was "part of the process."

CNN's Ben Wedeman has more.


BEN WEDEMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Soon after U.S. forces reopened Abu Ghraib Prison last summer, Iraqis began to claim abuse of detainees was common. The Red Cross, Amnesty International, local Iraqi human rights groups and activists urged the coalition to investigate those claims.

Last month, Abdel Basset al-Turki resigned in frustration from his post as Iraq's Human Rights Minister. He tells of meetings with senior coalition officials, including Chief Administrator Paul Bremer, during which he raised concerns over torture and abuse in American-run prisons in Iraq.

The response, "I believe it was indifference combined with disregard" he told me. "Coalition officials were much more interested in documenting human rights violations under Saddam than in what has happened since" he says.

A confidential report from the Red Cross, leaked to "The Wall Street Journal" indicate the group's concerns over mistreatment go back more than a year and aren't limited to Abu Ghraib.


WEDEMAN: Coalition spokesmen insist they were listening all along.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (AUDIO GAP), ones been involved with for a number of months.

WEDEMAN: Scant satisfaction for those who wait every day outside Abu Ghraib in the heat and dust for news of those inside or for detainees pictured in those now infamous photos.

(on camera): The consensus among human rights activists is that the U.S.-led coalition was unwilling to take their concern seriously until those photos emerged from behind these walls. And now with the abuse scandal snowballing they can only say we told you so.

Ben Wedeman, CNN, outside Abu Ghraib Prison.


COOPER: Well, despite some calls from U.S. lawmakers to close it, Abu Ghraib Prison will continue to operate but its new commander says there will be some changes.

Here's a quick news note. In 45 days, the U.S. military plans to downsize the inmate population to possibly half its size from 3,800 inmates to between 1,500 to 2,000 inmates.

Well, the U.S. general in charge of military prisons in Iraq said he would have in 45 days, as we just said, the population in the jail outside Baghdad, so we'll have more on that coming up later on.

Moving on now, Britain which is America's biggest ally in the war in Iraq is also working on damage control with its own prisoner abuse scandal. British military leaders say they're close to deciding whether to prosecute soldiers in two cases of alleged abuse. Today, British Defense Secretary Geoff Hoon brief Parliament offering this apology.


GEOFF HOON, BRITISH DEFENSE SECRETARY: I want to say on behalf of the British government that we unreservedly apologize to any Iraqis where the evidence shows that they have been mistreated.


COOPER: Hoon says military police have investigated 33 complaints of mistreatment. Fifteen of the cases have been dismissed and the others are at various stages of completion.

Well back here at home a stock market slide tops our look at news "Cross Country."

On Wall Street, the DOW loses 127 points today closing below 10,000 for the first time in five months. Analysts say fears of rising interest rates are to blame.

Fort Bragg, North Carolina now, sergeant on trial, a pretrial hearing for this man, a sergeant accused of killing two officers in a grenade attack in Kuwait. The death penalty trial is scheduled to begin in July.

In Washington, cold case reopened. The Justice Department says it's reopening the investigation into the 1955 murder of this man, Emmett Till, a black teenager visited Mississippi.

Decades ago, an all white jury acquitted the two white men who were charged, both of whom who have since died. One of them admitted to a magazine in 1956 that they murdered Till.

Jackson, Mississippi, federal marshal sued. The Associated Press and a Mississippi newspaper file suit against the U.S. Marshal Service. Last month, you may remember, a federal marshal erased recordings that reporters made during a speech that Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia gave at a high school. Scalia prefers not to be recorded but apologized in this case saying he'll make it clearer that it's OK for print reporters to record his remarks.

And that's a quick look at stories happening "Cross Country" right now.

Well, Kobe Bryant meets his accuser face-to-face in court, the date almost set for a trial. We'll go live to Eagle, Colorado for the latest.

Plus, the psychology of torture how ordinary people can do unspeakable acts, we'll talk to one man who knows he was transformed from student to abuser in less than a week.

And the race for number two, the veep stakes, who might get tapped to be the Democratic running mate? We'll take a closer look.

First a close look at your picks of the most popular stories on right now.


COOPER: A surprise development in the Kobe Bryant case today. The woman accusing the NBA star of rape recalled to court presumably to answer more questions about her sexual past, though she didn't answer any questions today. The judge decides whether that information will be admissible.

"Justice Served" now from CNN National Correspondent Gary Tuchman, Gary what's the latest?

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, for the second time since their encounter in a Colorado hotel room, Kobe Bryant and the woman who has accused him of rape are in the same courtroom right now in the building behind us.

Bryant is here for a three-day pretrial hearing. The woman was here a couple of months ago. She testified. This time we have just been told because it's a closed door, we can't see it ourselves, that she is not testifying. She is merely here to observe.

The judge is in the process of deciding if any of her sexual history can be used in a trial, if any of her medical history can be used in a trial. He's already determined her medical records can't be used but it's possible that witnesses could talk about her medical history.

The judge also has to decide if a statement Kobe Bryant made to police that was secretly recorded will also be allowed to be used in the trial. That hearing is now over, ended today. The judge could make that decision at any time.

We do expect tomorrow or Wednesday an arraignment to be held after all these months. Kobe Bryant will issue his plea and then the judge will announce finally a trial date.

However, sources close to this case do tell us that last week the judge and all the lawyers involved in the case had a teleconference where they discussed for logistical reasons when a good time to start the trial would be, the conclusion sometime in August.

We can tell you if it's in August, and it appears it will be, Kobe Bryant would miss the U.S. Olympics. There was a possibility he was going to be on the U.S. Olympic basketball team -- Anderson, back to you.

COOPER: All right, interesting detail that. Gary Tuchman thanks very much.

Covering the case for us tonight 360 Legal Analyst Kimberly Guilfoyle-Newsom, good to see you Kimberly.


COOPER: When Kobe Bryant enters a plea likely to be not guilty in the next couple of days it's going to be televised. This is only the third time this judge has allowed that. Why now?

GUILFOYLE-NEWSOM: Well, really it's not that significant of a court appearance. He's basically going to say not guilty and everyone is going to be fascinated by those two words coming out of Kobe Bryant's mouth because we haven't been allowed inside the court.

It really has no other significance other than that but it starts the clock running for his right to a speedy trial and really the victim's as well, so it has to occur within six months of that date.

COOPER: All right. Let's look at the key sort of items in question here, the sexual history of the young woman, this bloody shirt, and recorded statements that Bryant allegedly made to police. What's going to be ruled in? What's going to be ruled out do you think?

GUILFOYLE-NEWSOM: Well, these are just key items of evidence that are going to be crucial to determine what the outcome of this case is going to be. With respect to Kobe Bryant's shirt, I believe that that evidence is going to come in.

It is very important physical evidence that makes a connection between the victim and the defendant in this case because it has allegedly her blood on the underneath portion of the shirt, so I think that's going to come in. It's important.

The next piece of evidence is his statement to the police directly after the incident of course the defense saying that this was not appropriate because he should have been advised of his rights that it was a custodial interrogation.

The prosecution saying Kobe Bryant was free to go. This took place in a hotel room. He could have gotten up and left at any time. I think those statements are going to come in. I expect that they'll corroborate largely what the alleged victim has said in this case.

COOPER: Interesting. All right, Kimberly Guilfoyle-Newsom thanks very much.


COOPER: Well, right now we are following a number of developing stories around the world. Let's take a quick look at the "Up Link."

Gaza City, Palestinians smash 33 tombstones in a British- administered cemetery to protest the abuse of Iraqi prisoners by U.S. and British forces. Reprinted photos of the Iraqi detainee abuse were attached to other graves as well. The cemetery is known as the English Cemetery and houses the bodies of thousands of soldiers.

Saudi Arabia now a call for easing oil prices, a Saudi oil minister wants OPEC to increase supply limits after prices hit $40 a barrel last week. The Saudi proposal will be discussed at the International Energy Forum in Amsterdam in two weeks.

In Russian, Chechen president buried, crowds gathered for the funeral of Akhmad Kadyrov in his home village today. The president was assassinated in an explosion at a stadium in Grozny yesterday during victory day celebrations. The attack killed at least five other people.

That's a quick look at the "Up Link" tonight.

The psychology of torture coming up, ordinary people committing unspeakable acts, how can it happen? Find out how thin the line really is from a man who has crossed it.

Also tonight, disturbing pictures, bad news, and a barrage of criticism, so how is President Bush keeping his head above political water? Paul Begala and Bob Novak step in to the "CROSSFIRE."

And a little later the steer that got away, how some almost fresh meat ran into the home of a vegan, lucky steer, all ahead. Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: (AUDIO GAP) the photos and hear the accounts of Iraqi detainee abuse. It's not surprising. You might wonder what kind of person could participate in those situations.

Well psychologists who study torture are perhaps less shocked. Take, for instance, some famous research at Stanford University back in 1971 in which 24 college students volunteered for a mock prison study. Half the men played guards, half prisoners. Within days the guards were making prisoners clean toilets with their bare hands and finding other ways to humiliate them, some of them even sexual.

Earlier today I spoke with Dave Eshleman who participated in that study as a guard.


COOPER: Dave, what was the most shocking thing that you and the other guards did during this study?

DAVE ESHLEMAN, GUARD IN STANFORD PRISON STUDY: Oh, gosh, shocking maybe most of what we did was a little bit shocking but I think what most people are surprised at is the level of humiliation that we tried to put the prisoners through.

COOPER: And no one gave you advice to do that. I mean that was just something you just thought of yourself.

ESHLEMAN: Yes. The second day there I decided that nothing was really happening in this experiment and that in order for this experiment to get any results that somebody had to start to push the action and I took it upon myself to do so.

And, I pulled my inspiration from the fraternity hazing that I had just gone through and from prison movies, which in this case I most remembered the movie "Cool Hand Luke."

COOPER: Some of the humiliation just like with the Abu Ghraib Prison in Iraq, some of the humiliating things you did in this prison in Stanford were sort of simulating sex acts among these prisoners.

ESHLEMAN: Right. When we got into an environment where we had absolute control and power over these people that were playing prisoners, it became sort of a game just to see how far could we push them? What are the most degrading things that we could ask somebody to do?

And a lot of these things I'm sure just sort of popped into our heads to see, you know, we were kind of testing the limits. You know they did anything we told them. Where's the point where they would stop and object?

COOPER: What did you learn about yourself?

ESHLEMAN: Remember that I went into this with a design or a plan, which I formulated after the first day there, to force something to happen and what I found out about myself is that if I enter into a role like that I sort of lost touch with reality in the fact that I didn't know where to stop.

COOPER: And, as you look at these pictures from Abu Ghraib, I mean when you first saw them what went through your mind?

ESHLEMAN: Well, I mean I was nauseated by them as a lot of people were but the first thing that struck me was deja vu. You know, this looked so familiar to me. I'd been there before. I know what was going on. I have a feeling for, you know, how this developed in the way that it did.

COOPER: And to those who don't understand it how do you explain it? What was going on, even though we don't have all the information at this point?

ESHLEMAN: It appears to me to be a real recipe for disaster and I could have provided the ingredients to the recipe taking poorly- trained or untrained people not, you know, given any training as to how to run a prison, giving them absolute and total control over the lives of other people, which they may have been told these people are not really people.

They're animals. You can treat them any way you want. Soften them up. You know do whatever you can and, you know, then their sort of imagination took over from there and I think that you're seeing a side of human behavior here that all of us possess but are not often in a circumstance where it comes to the surface.

And I don't think that there's anything particularly, you know, there's nothing American about this. It's just human behavior. It could happen to any culture, any country in the world when you put people in this type of a situation.

COOPER: And when you look at those pictures you say to anyone out there who may not understand that you or I or anyone is capable of doing this?

ESHLEMAN: Yes, I mean you look at somebody like me, you know, by all accounts a very nice guy, very decent, upstanding, you know, citizen, Rotarian, father, husband, businessman, that type of thing and, if I'm capable of falling into a role like this then, you know, virtually anybody is given the right circumstance.

COOPER: Dave Eshleman, appreciate you being on the program. Thank you.

ESHLEMAN: My pleasure. Thank you.

COOPER: Seven reservists charged with abuse but are they being scapegoated for what their superiors wanted done? We'll talk to lawyer for Private Lynndie England.

What does John Kerry want in a running mate? We'll take a look at the veep stakes top three possible contenders. And, are you tired of information overload? One man's mission to give you back your quiet time. 360 continues.



COOPER: Time now for our top stories in tonight's "Reset."

Washington, D.C. in Rumsfeld's defense, President Bush reiterates his support for the embattled defense secretary saying he is doing "a superb job." That endorsement followed a one hour meeting where the president saw some prisoner abuse photos that haven't been made public yet and reviewed the conduct of the war in Iraq.

Southern Iraq now, attack on an oil pipeline. Terrorists strike the main artery leading to the country's southern terminals, oil flow along that line reduced by about 30 percent as a result.

Erie, Pennsylvania, John Kerry's prescription. Today he told a campaign crowd the U.S. healthcare system is quote, "badly broken." Presumed Democratic nominee charged that insurance companies are posting record profits while the cost consumers and employers has reached what he called crisis proportions.

Austin, Texas, now Ralph Nader files a lawsuit. His petition drive fell short of the state's requirement so he is suing the state, calling the law unconstitutional and discriminatory. The Texas secretary of state says Ross Perot and Pat Buchanan had no problem meeting its guidelines.

Washington again, more gas pains. The government says gasoline prices have shot up more than 10 cents a gallon in the past week. And have reached a record high of $1.94 a gallon. Strong demand, tight supplies, and high oil prices are getting the blame.

A new CNN/"USA Today"/Gallup poll was released just a few hours ago. Take a look, it's on the results. Asked how Bush is handling his job as president, 46 percent approve of his performance. Now that's some bad news for the president. That is the lowest rating since he took office. 51 percent disapprove. Yet the president still holds a slim lead over John Kerry. Why? And should Donald Rumsfeld resign? Earlier I took up those issues with "Crossfire" co-hosts Robert Novak and Paul Begala.


COOPER: Bob, President Bush's approval rating is down to the lowest point so far. How much of that do you think relates to these pictures out of Iraq, the abuse pictures?

BOB NOVAK, CO-HOST, "CROSSFIRE": I think it's almost entirely that, Anderson. It's silly to take your temperature every three days on ratings that go up and go down. The kind of people who can't decide whether they like Coke or Pepsi, and if you say I like them, I don't like them, they're very much influenced by what's in today's headlines.

COOPER: Paul, you must look at these headlines and see good news. I mean you've always said all along that this re-election is going to be all about the incumbent. And with approval ratings like President Bush has right now, those certainly aren't good.

PAUL BEGALA, CO-HOST, "CROSSFIRE": His approval ratings are very low. Still it's not an survival problem for him. I had a different standard when I was a political consultant. I would always watch the percentage of Americans in the polls who say we're going in the right direction. That's as low as 33, Anderson. So for the president to win, he's got to get 16 percent or 17 percent of Americans to simultaneously say the country's going in the wrong direction but I want to keep President Bush.

COOPER: Bob, look at this poll in March, 54 percent of Americans thought the president would do a better job handling the situation in Iraq than Kerry would. That is now down to 48 percent. Do you think Kerry has been able to make the most of this?

NOVAK: No, he's really been a terrible candidate. And he's particularly bad on Iraq. And if you gave sodium pentothal to Paul, he would admit it, that really he hasn't come over with anything. He just says I'd do the same thing except I'd get the French and the Germans to help us. Lots of luck, buddy.

COOPER: Paul, I'm not going to shoot you with the sodium pentothal, but what would you advise John Kerry to do to try to make the most of whatever President Bush's perceived vulnerabilities are?

BEGALA: Even a cold beer will do it with me. I haven't had one yet, but let me tell you I think what John Kerry needs to do is what he has done. I disagree with Bob in his indictment of Kerry. He wrote a thoughtful essay in the "Washington Post" saying what he would do that would be different. He's given serious policy addresses on it. Maybe the most important thing is that he would bring a different face to this crisis. He didn't get us in the crisis. But I think he's a guy who can get us out of it.

COOPER: Bob, it's interesting, if you look at this poll also 64 percent of Americans do not think Donald Rumsfeld should resign as secretary of defense despite all that's been going on of late. Do you think this drum beat, this talk about his resignation is on the wane?

NOVAK: Next two weeks, how this thing plays out is going to determine whether Rumsfeld is going to survive or not. And the jury is still out on this.

COOPER: If you had to bet do you think he will survive?

NOVAK: I wouldn't -- I wouldn't bet on it. Because, I think it is strictly up in the air right now, and the idea that the president gives him a vote of confidence, if you follow baseball, you know that they all -- the owner always gives the manager the vote of confidence just before they slash him. BEGALA: The Democrats make a mistake if they focus on Rumsfeld. Rumsfeld is not on the ballot. He serves at the pleasure of the president and the president has been pleased with him, even as he misled us into the war, was wrong about the weapons of mass destruction, was wrong about the number of troops we would need to occupy the country. He's been wrong about everything but he's been pleasing the president. I think Democrats would be far better to focus on the organ grinder, not the monkey.

COOPER: Bottom line, do you think he's going to resign, Paul?

BEGALA: No. No, I don't.

COOPER: All right. Bob Novak, Paul Begala, thanks very much.

Today's buzz question is this, "are low-level soldiers being made scapegoats for the abuse of prisoners in Iraq?" What do you think? Log on to Cast your vote. We'll have results at the end of the program.

In politics still for John Kerry the veep stakes is on. With just 77 days until the Democratic convention, the political pundits have mentioned a whole lot of names. That list gets a lot shorter when you focus on those with national security credentials. CNN's political analyst Carlos Watson weighs in.


CARLOS WATSON, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST (voice-over): When John Kerry's high command takes a look at the polls, here's what they're seeing. Terrorism in Iraq combined are more important than the economy in the minds of voters. Moreover a majority of Americans disapprove of President Bush's handling of the war in Iraq.

SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This is a moment of truth in Iraq.

WATSON: With the mounting death toll, and torture scandal of Iraq dominating the headlines and the soon-to-be released 9/11 commission report, the Kerry camp thinks that President Bush may be vulnerable on national security traditionally a Republican stronghold.

KERRY: Bring it on.

WATSON: This year's nominee is a decorated war hero.

AD ANNOUNCER: In combat he earned the silver star, the bronze star, and three purple hearts.

WATSON: Many Democratic strategists are advocating that John Kerry pick a running mate with strong defense credentials to further drive home the theme of national security. On this issue, there are at least three strong contenders that the Kerry inner circle is considering.

First, Wesley Clark, the former NATO supreme commander brings an impressive war resume and a hot commodity. The title of general. Yet, he's a political neophyte.

Senator Bob Graham, a former chairman of the intelligence committee has strong anti-terrorism credentials, plus he's from the battleground state of Florida. But a number of people question his campaigning skills.

Bob Kerrey, a Vietnam veteran and member of the 9/11 commission is a former senator of Nebraska, and brings both military, and anti- terrorism credentials. One problem, though, his reputation is something of a loose cannon.


COOPER: How unusual would it be for Kerry to pick a VP based on his national security credentials?

WATSON: In some ways not that unusual. You'll recall that in 2000 part of the reason why current President Bush chose Dick Cheney was he was a former secretary of defense. 20 years before that part of the reason why Ronald Reagan chose the first George Bush was because he was director of the CIA. But usually those were governors who didn't have foreign policy experience who were looking to shore it up. If Kerry a four-term senator who's also a war hero ultimately chooses someone else on national security would be a little bit unprecedented and would be a little bit unusual.

COOPER: Carlos Watson, thanks very much. Good to see you.

So -- change of subject. So you face an information overload? Do all those e-mails have you stressed out? One man's on a quest to help you. We'll talk to him, coming up. Also tonight, love without the marriage. Why so many Americans are deciding to leave the knot untied.

And a little later, a steer about to become fresh meat makes a bolt for freedom and finds safety in a very unlikely place. We'll have all that ahead.


COOPER: I knew all that surfing the Web wasn't good for you. This next segment comes with a few conditions, don't answer your cell phone, step away from the TiVo and no instant messaging for the next three minutes. Our next guest says you'll be doing yourself a favor. David Levy thinks all the multitasking is turning us into digital drones. A who generation so wired in, we're missing out on the essences of life. He joins us now from Seattle where he's about to host a conference called information silence and sanctuary. David, thanks for being on the program. You don't hear those words silence and sanctuary much next to information. There's so much overload these days.

Why is it important to try to put it aside?

DAVID LEVY, ORGANIZER, "INFORMATION SILENCE AND SANCTUARY": Well, because I think it's not a question of putting it aside. It's a matter of achieving balance. I think of the period that we're in right now, as a period like the early days of the environmental movement. When people began to realize that urbanization and industrialization were good, and important things, but unless they were balanced by old growth forests and marshlands and so on that we were going to have a kind of unsustainable and unhealthy planet.

COOPER: And you say there are some signs out there for people to kind of check themselves to see if maybe their kind of overloaded too much, or not sort of seeking those moments of sanctuary. We've got a couple of them on the screen. These are things for people at home, they can ask them self.

Do you constantly check your e-mail, even when you're doing something else?

Do you use e-mail when you could call or have a personal conversation instead?

Do you have trouble turning your computer off when you're not working?

Now, if you answered yes to those, what does that mean?

LEVY: Well, I actually think it depends on the individual. That I don't think one size fits all. So I don't want to suggest that everybody should take this little test and decide that they've got a problem. But rather, it's an opportunity to reflect, and to think about whether you're actually living the kind of fuller, more meaningful, and more balanced life.

COOPER: How do we do -- I actually eventually threw away my Blackberry because I was responding to ridiculous e-mails all the time. But everyone can't do that, and I'm still addicted to my cell phone.

I mean, how do you go about trying to find those quite moments?

LEVY: One of the ways is that we find that in some of our religious traditions we have this notion of the Sabbath. The Sabbath is the notion that one day out of seven you're unplugged. I don't think you have to be Jewish, Christian or Muslim in order to adopt some kind of Sabbath-like practice. You don't have to be religious at all. But you could decide that you're going to establish certain sanctuary boundaries in your life, and you're not going to essentially stay plugged in constantly all the time.

COOPER: I've read that you said that we're living lives of Web fragments.

What do you mean by that?

LEVY: Well, I think that if you think about it, the web is about all these bits of hypertext, of interlinked materials. Which is a wonderful tool for us as we all know. But, the danger is that our mind is actually jumping from fragment to fragment. That we're not actually, you know, that we're not actually able to concentrate for very long. And we lose the joys and the power, even in our work, of sustained reflection and concentration.

COOPER: You've got this conference going on in Seattle this week about information overload.

LEVY: That's right.

COOPER: One of the scheduled speakers I was interested to see is a cardiologist. Are there negative health effects of this overload?

LEVY: Well, in fact this cardiologist, a local cardiologist named Sarah Speck (ah) is going to be telling us about it tomorrow morning. Indeed there are. The title of her talk is busy business, overload and stress. As a cardiologist she can speak to the ways that hypertension and other ailments really are increasing to the extent that we live these overly busy lives.

COOPER: It's a fascinating topic. David Levy, we appreciate you being on the program and I've got to go and cram more information down people's throats.

LEVY: I understand.

COOPER: Thanks very much.

According to the 2002 Census almost one in three men and one in four women in America have never been married. Obviously many people have decided marriage is not for them. Does that conjure up images of nights spent alone and bachelor bachelorhood and spinsterhood?

Not necessarily. Call it unwedded bliss. As David Mattingly explains many people think happily ever after doesn't require a trip down the aisle.


DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Walking arm in arm, baby in tow, Jim and Amy seem the picture of a young, married couple. They had a beautiful ceremony three years ago. Friends and family were there. They've got the rings to prove it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: These are a symbol of being committed in lifelong sense to each other.

MATTINGLY: Committed, yes. But in spite of appearances, not married.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sort of came to the conclusion that it was at least right now somewhat of a discriminatory institution.

MATTINGLY: Unwilling to obtain the marriage license denied to their gay friends, Jim and Amy are among heterosexual couples trying to make a go of it as domestic partners. There's an organization on the Internet that even offers a how-to guide for a marriage boycott.

DORIAN SOLOT, ALTERNATIVES TO MARRIAGE PROJECT: We're very concerned that the laws in this country are really out of step with the reality of families. So, we have growing numbers of unmarried families.

MATTINGLY: The Web site reports a spike in discussion about a marriage boycott from let row sexual couples early this spring when the subject of gay marriage made headlines. The number of couples deciding not to get married in a show of solidarity with their gay friends is believed to be very small.

(on camera): Even so, experts say any move toward domestic partnerships gives momentum to what has become a 50-year-old trend. A trend away from tying the knot.

DAVID POPENOE, NATIONAL MARRIAGE PROJECT: The marriage rate since 1970 has dropped by about 40 percent. And a lot of that is because people are not marrying, they're just living together.

MATTINGLY: The result is a growing cohabitation nation. Where a new political incentive may join the host of reasons behind couples rejecting the traditional I do's.

David Mattingly, CNN, Seattle.


COOPER: Coming up a story about an escape from the butcher's block. A steer finds sanctuary just around the corner in the home of a vegan. We'll explain ahead.


COOPER: Well, a weekend accident along the Massachusetts/Rhode Island border killed at least three people. A 14-year-old boy survived. His actions may have saved his father's life.

CNN's Wolf Blitzer has the story.


WOLF BLITZER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): 14-year-old Christopher Depart and his family had been visiting relatives at their waterfront home in Swansea, Massachusetts. It was dark when the family started back home to Fall River, Massachusetts, in a speed boat, and the wind had picked up. The boat made it as far as Mount Hope Bay, a lobe of Narragansett Bay that straddles the Massachusetts- Rhode Island border, when the 17-foot craft capsized.

CHRISTOPHER DUARTE, 14 YEARS OLD: I could hear my mom scream for help and me having to go. There was no choice of me wanting to. It was me having to. I just kept on kicking. The water was really cold. I just keep going and going. It felt like hours.

BLITZER: Christopher finally reached shore in Tiverton, Rhode Island. He cut his feet stumbling along the beach. But he found a house and told a couple there what had happened. Search crews found the bodies of his Christopher's cousin and her boyfriend. They were unable to find any trace of Christopher's aunt. Christopher's mother and father were found alive, but his mother died on the way to the hospital. Christopher's father remains in the hospital. If he survives, he will have his son to thank.

Christopher's grandmother, who did not want her face photographed, calls her grandson a hero.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I am just so proud of him, because he might have saved his dad's life. And he saved his own life. That's the main thing, too, you know, saved his own life. He's quite a little hero.


COOPER: A hero indeed. That was Wolf Blitzer reporting.

Well, a much lighter story now. There's a mechanic (ph) who said he's very calm. He's talking about a steer who managed to avoid a trip to the butchers by pulling off a brazen escape. A calm steer? Perhaps. A lucky one without a doubt. CNN's Jeanne Moos has the story.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): If this steer hadn't fled here, it would probably be frying rather than lying in the hot sun.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're calling him Liberty Freedom.

MOOS (on camera): Liberty Freedom?


MOOS (voice-over): Liberty Freedom was about to become fresh meat at this Newark, New Jersey slaughter house when he somehow managed to escape. He made a left and went loping down Lockwood, running the stop sign.

(on camera): Ignoring the one-way sign, the steer hung a right, traveling against traffic.

(voice-over): And then he made the life-saving turn into Triangle Towing and Repair. Probably mistook it for a barn. Owner Judy Borselino (ph) was on the phone.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I said Bob -- I was talking to Bob -- I said, I've got to go, there's a steer coming in here, bye.

MOOS (on camera): He just came over here and just plopped himself down?


MOOS (voice-over): They closed the gate. This bovine had gotten anything but the bum steer. (on camera): When is the last time you had a hamburger?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, God, I can't even remember. I only eat veggie burgers.

MOOS (voice-over): So when three guys from the slaughter house came chasing Liberty Freedom...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I said no, you can't have him.

MOOS: Besides, Judy says the slaughter house owes her $4,000 for repairs she made to its trucks.

(on camera): So you built this kind of pen for him over here.

(voice-over): The slaughter house folks wouldn't talk to us. Judy's hoping to send Liberty Freedom to the farm sanctuary in upstate New York, home to pigs, rabbits and even two other cows who escaped from slaughter houses.

As getaways go, this one was both rare, and well done.

Jeanne Moos, CNN, Newark, New Jersey.


COOPER: All right. Very lucky steer indeed.

Some entertainment news now in tonight's pop culture "Current." Let's take a look. Simon and Garfunkel will take the stage this summer in Rome. They'll play in the shadow of the famed Colosseum, which some historian believe was actually the site of Simon and Garfunkel's first reunion tour back in 580 B.C.

"Van Helsing" raked in $54 million this weekend. Already, there's talk of a sequel. We suggest they raise the stakes a bit, however. Hugh Jackman shouldn't battle Dracula or Frankenstein. No, the next time he should take on Omarosa.

And "Wicked," the musical prequel to "The Wizard of Oz," picked up 10 Tony Award nominations today. The Tonys are set for June 6. My Tony Awards keg party hangover is set for June 7, however.

And Columbia Pictures and Major League Baseball have abandoned plans to advertise the movie "Spider-Man 2" on in-field bases next month. Because a lot of baseball fans didn't like the idea. Let's remember, people, baseball is about the game. No one should be bombarded with advertisements when they head out for an afternoon at Houston's Minute Maid Field or San Diego's Petco Park. That's what we think, anyway.

Earlier, we showed you the most popular stories on Here's the scoop on the Iowa woman today sentenced to 50 years in prison for the murder of her abusive husband. The judge in the case says Dixie Shanahan shot her husband after suffering 18 years of abuse. Under the state's mandatory minimum sentencing law, Shanahan will have to serve at least 35 years, which the judge says is unjust. Shanahan says she acted in self-defense at the end of three days of beatings. She initially told police her husband left her, but his remains were found in a spare bedroom more than one year later.

That's the top story on right now.

Time for today's "Buzz." Earlier we asked you, are low-level soldiers being made scapegoats from the abuse of prisoners in Iraq? Ninety-one percent of you said yes; 9 percent of you said no. Not a scientific poll. Just your "Buzz."

And a note, we told you about earlier in an interview with two lawyers for Private Lynndie England, who's charged in the Iraqi prison abuse scandal. Unfortunately, not able to bring you that interview tonight. But still to come, Brad Pitt is taking fashion trendiness to "The Nth Degree," and we'll take that to "The Nth Degree."

And tomorrow, interrogation 101. One former U.S. interrogator reveals exactly what he says was taught and how far he was trained to go.


COOPER: Tonight, taking trendiness to "The Nth Degree." Listen to this, Brad Pitt predicts that men will throw caution and their pants to the winds after seeing the skirts he and other actors wear in the new epic film "Troy." Well, sure because we men are idiots who just automatically rush out to buy whatever it is we've seen the stars sporting in their latest blockbusters.

We'll be painting ourselves green and gluing trumpets to our heads if "Shrek 2" is a big hit. Comes "King Arthur," we'll march down to Brooks Brothers for some chainmail and leather. "Van Helsing" has gotten lousy reviews but it's raking in money, so I guess we have to put on this stuff.

Under which we can wear our "Spider-Man" spandex, or our Garfield leisure wear.

With so many big movies coming out between now and the summer, you think it's safe for me to throw out that Chewbacca gun belt? Or might that fashion make a comeback, as well?

I'm Anderson Cooper. Thanks for watching. "PAULA ZAHN NOW" is next.


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