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Four Marines Die in Iraqi Ambush, Did Saudi Officials Conspire With Terrorists in American Hostage's Murder?

Aired June 21, 2004 - 19:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, HOST: Good evening, live from Baghdad, I'm Anderson Cooper.
A day of progress and a day of pain here in Iraq.

360 starts now.

Four Marines die in an Iraqi ambush. The hunt is on for their killers.

Hearings begin in Baghdad for soldiers involved in the Abu Ghraib prison abuse scandal. Will Bush and Rumsfeld be called to testify?

Did Saudi security forces conspire with terrorists in the murder of an American contractor?

ANNOUNCER: This is a special edition of ANDERSON COOPER 360, live from Baghdad.

COOPER: Good evening again. We'll get to all those stories in a moment as we continue to count down to the handover of power to the Iraqi authorities in several days.

First, let's go back to New York and Heidi Collins for a look at what other big stories we're covering tonight. Heidi?


Also ahead this hour, is America ready for "My Life"? President Clinton's memoir hits the bookstores at midnight.

Grisly mystery grips the Midwest as the bodies of a father and two sons wash ashore in Wisconsin.

Kobe's attorneys ask the judge to reduce the charges as a punishment to prosecutors.

We will get to those stories in just a moment. But for now, back to Anderson Cooper in Baghdad. Anderson?

COOPER: Heidi, thanks very much.

As often happens here in Iraq, it was a day of one step forward, two steps back. The oil, which was attacked, two pipelines attacked last week, at least one of those pipelines has been repaired. The -- some oil is flowing again. That's the progress. But as we said, there has been pain as well. Two roadside bombs killed seven Iraqis today. There was also more hostage dramas unfolding, and four American Marines are dead.


COOPER (voice-over): The images are difficult to watch. We don't know who they are, or exactly how they were killed. But they are American, four Marines found dead in Ramadi, their flak jackets missing.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Please, get out of here, here, here! I don't want to die. I don't want to die.


COOPER: In Fallujah, a hotbed of hatred, another hostage pleads for his life. Kim Song Il (ph), a South Korean contractor, was kidnapped last week, with this video just released late last night.

The kidnappers demand that South Korean troops withdraw from Iraq, something the South Korean government says they will not do, and threaten to behead Kim by tonight.

Today, some good news as well. Iraqi oil is flowing again after a pipeline damaged by insurgents last week was fixed. One pipeline remains inoperable, but Iraq could be up to full export capacity by midweek.


COOPER: That, of course, is promising news indeed about the oil, but there were echoes of a disturbing past today, a judge ruling that the infamous Abu Ghraib prison will not be torn down anytime soon. That ruling came today in a crowded courtroom where a military judge declared that Abu Ghraib prison is a crime scene not to be touched. This comes, of course, in pretrial hearings in the court-martial of three Americans charged with abusing prisoners there.

More now from CNN's chief international correspondent, Christiane Amanpour.


CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): They are the pictures that shocked the world, sullied America's reputation, and severely damaged its standing amongst Iraqis. The defense lawyer for Specialist Charles Graner, seen leering and giving the thumbs-up, says he wants to question Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The secretary of defense, in waging a war on terrorism, correctly loosened the reins somewhat on interrogators.

AMANPOUR: Attorneys for Graner and Sergeant Juval Davis (ph) will claim their clients were just following orders.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And how do we know that? Because high- ranking individuals in government, in the military, have given statements under oath in reference to what was permissible.

AMANPOUR: Graner's attorney says he strongly believes that General Ricardo Sanchez, commander of U.S.-led forces at the time, knew of the abuse as early as November, not, as he claims, in January.

(on camera): The court-martial proceedings that have been going on inside this room are partly designed to staunch the flow of bad blood towards the United States. A new poll that was commissioned by the U.S.-led authorities here finds that 54 percent of Iraqis believe that all Americans behave as badly as the accused.

(voice-over): Outside Abu Ghraib, prisoners' relatives are still dissatisfied. "This court is not right," says Ali Jassam (ph), the father of a prisoner, "because the soldiers are being tried by Americans. We want the court to be held by the U.N. and neutral countries."

No trial date has been set yet. Defense lawyers say they won't be ready until October. U.S. military officials say trials could start late August.

Christiane Amanpour, CNN, Baghdad.


COOPER: One of the questions for us being asked in relation to the prisoner abuse scandal is just how high up the chain of command does responsibility really go? Now, that question is being asked not just in relation to Abu Ghraib prison here in Baghdad, but also in relation to the detention center in Guantanamo Bay.

A newly declassified memo now embroils Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld in a very controversial interrogation technique -- some went as far as calling it torture -- called water boarding.

CNN's Jamie McIntyre reports.


JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN SENIOR PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It was October of 2002, and at the Guantanamo Bay detention facility, U.S. interrogators desperately wanted information from an Al Qaeda detainee believed to know about an upcoming attack. The Pentagon signed off on the get-tough approach.

Sources say the memos will show Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld approved a series of more aggressive interrogation techniques for use against one prisoner, Mohammed al-Kahtani, a Saudi, the so-called 20th hijacker who was supposed to be on one of the September 11 planes.

Among the techniques, water boarding, in which the subject is strapped down and dunked in water or otherwise made to feel he's going to drown. But the Pentagon says the water boarding tactic was never used, and that in January, Rumsfeld rescinded his approval in the face of objections from some of his own lawyers. Instead, Kahtani was subjected to 20-hour interrogation sessions, given only MREs to eat, and forcibly shaved.

Just last week, Rumsfeld insisted no techniques he approved constituted torture.

DONALD RUMSFELD, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: That word gets used by some people in a way that is fair from their standpoint, but doesn't fit a dictionary definition.

MCINTYRE: Human rights advocates disagree, particularly with regards to water boarding.

ELISA MASSIMINO, HUMAN RIGHTS FIRST: Water boarding fits the international and domestic definition of torture. And if the administration claims it's necessary to use it, then they ought to go to Congress and ask Congress to change the law.


MCINTYRE: So far, the Pentagon has refused to disclose exactly what interrogation tactics were employed at Guantanamo, except to insist they did not violate the Geneva Conventions. With the release of all the relevant memos sometime later this week, people, Anderson, will be able to judge for themselves.

COOPER: And a lot of people will certainly be watching that. Jamie McIntyre, thanks very much, from the Pentagon tonight.

The killers who brutally beheaded Paul Johnson last week now say that they had help from Saudis actually sympathetic to their cause. Saudi government, for its part, categorically denies this.

Senior international correspondent Nic Robertson now has more on what al Qaeda says is true and what the Saudis say isn't.


NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice- over): (UNINTELLIGIBLE) armed and ready for action, Saudi police on their latest operation to catch al Qaeda militants.

ADEL AL-JUBEIR, SAUDI FOREIGN POLICY ADVISER: We are determined to go off the terrorists. We believe the security situation is manageable.

ROBERTSON: Security, though, brought into question by claims on this Web site, where the al Qaeda group responsible for Paul Johnson's killing boasts that sympathizers in the police aided his abduction. That claim swiftly denied by Saudi officials.

AL-JUBEIR: People seem to be giving credence to what the terrorists are saying on Web sites. That reminds me of Saddam Hussein's information minister. What if people had believed what he said when he was saying it, when it was total nonsense?

ROBERTSON: Perceptions in the capital, if judged by the number of cars on the streets, seem to indicate that most think it's safe enough to do business more or less as usual. And for many here, the killing Friday of Abdel Aziz al-Muqrin, the most wanted man in Saudi Arabia, and the leader of the group behind Paul Johnson's killing, a sign that the security forces are making gains.

(on camera): But so far, Paul Johnson's body hasn't been found, and already al Qaeda has moved to replace al-Muqrin with former police prison guard Sali al-Ofi (ph), number five on Saudi Arabia's most- wanted list.

For many Western workers, the question remains, just how safe are they?

Nic Robertson, CNN, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.


COOPER: With the killing of Paul Johnson still fresh in many people's minds, there, of course, is another hostage taking today. We showed you the video earlier of a South Korean contractor begging for his life. The kidnappers have said they want the South Korean troops to leave Iraq. South Korean government says that is not going to happen. The kidnappers say if it does not happen, they will behead the South Korean contractor by tonight.

Let's go back to New York now to Heidi Collins for the day's other big stories. Heidi?

COLLINS: All right, Anderson, thanks so much.

A pipeline blast, that tops our look at global stories in the uplink. In Russia, turmoil, furious claims after an oil pipeline ruptures, then explodes in southern Russia. Officials are trying to determine if the Sunday blast was a terrorist attack. Nearly 20,000 gallons of oil spilled from the pipeline.

Iran, search and seizure. Iran is holding eight British military personnel after three British boats washed upon its shores. Iranian officials say the vessels went into Iranian waters without permission. Britain says the crew members were based in southern Iraq.

Asia, a terrible storm, a tropical cyclone, tore through South Korea and western Japan with waves as high as 40 feet. At least five people are dead. Thousands of residents lost power, and more than 1,300 had to be evacuated. The severe weather is expected to continue Tuesday.

Canada, death on the river. Fighting rough rapids near Montreal yesterday, a raft hits a rock and capsizes. On board, the mayor of Sherbrooke (ph), Quebec, and nine others. Most, including the mayor, escaped with only minor injuries, but a 45-year-old man drowned.

And that's tonight's uplink. 360 next, mysterious family deaths. The bodies of a father and his two sons wash ashore tied together. Was it a murder, or a murder- suicide? We have the latest in the investigation.

Plus, conjoined twins survive a dangerous surgery and begin their lives apart. We'll talk to the doctor who performed this delicate operation.

And sex, race, and jury selection. A new twist in the Kobe Bryant case.

But first your picks, the most popular stories on right now.


COLLINS: When they were last seen alive, Kevin Amde and his two sons were at a Chicago school one of the boys attended. Since the three often went on long, unexpected trips, it wasn't unusual they'd be gone for four days. But on the fifth day, the man's wife grew suspicious and reported her family missing.

That began a bizarre mystery that has many people puzzled. CNN's Chris Lawrence has the story.


CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Like the clown drawing tacked to the front door, just about everything in the Amdes' house in Chicago represents the two little boys who lived there, and it's the main reason their mother can't bear to call it home anymore.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She admitted to us, she don't like being in the house, because the house reminded her of the kids.

LAWRENCE: Neighbors say Mrs. Amde has been distraught since the first week in May, when her sons, aged 3 and 6, disappeared with their father. On Saturday, the bodies of all three washed up on the shore of Lake Michigan just over the Wisconsin border.

CHIEF BRIAN WAGNER, PLEASANT PRAIRIE POLICE DEPARTMENT: We consider these deaths to be very suspicious.

LAWRENCE: Authorities say the bodies had no obvious physical trauma, but they were tethered with a nylon rope running through their belt loops and around one child's waist. Police say one of the children had pants pockets filled with sand, and both had nylon schoolbags.

WAGNER: Inside each of these bags, in addition to books and other personal items, were found two sealed plastic Ziploc bags filled with sand.

LAWRENCE: Police say it wasn't unusual for Kevin Amde to take his sons out for several days without telling their mother.

I never saw him hit them, he was (UNINTELLIGIBLE). He was nice to them and everything.

LAWRENCE: The medical examiner is conducting an autopsy, and detectives are trying to determine how and where all three entered the water.


LAWRENCE: And we've now learned that the family had some fairly severe financial problems. About an hour ago, I spoke with their landlord, who says they were supposed to vacate the apartment by the end of the week after failing to pay rent for several months. We've also just learned that the medical examiner may have finished the autopsy, and the police are expecting to update us on this case within the next half hour, Heidi.

COLLINS: All right, Chris. It's an awful story. Thanks so much for that tonight.

An air of resignation. That story tops our look at news across country. In Connecticut, call it a final salute. About an hour ago, John Rowland resigned as governor of the state, effective July 1. The 47-year-old three-term Republican governor had been fighting corruption allegations and possible impeachment.

In Las Vegas, that's the ticket. Independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader picks Peter Camejo as his running mate. The 63- year-old Camejo was the Green Party candidate for governor in last year's recall race in California. And in 1976, Camejo ran for president under the Socialist Workers Party.

Also in Vegas, John Kerry and his vices? Vice President Dick Cheney launched a verbal vise grip on the Democratic presidential hopeful, saying Kerry would raise taxes if elected, suggesting Kerry's proposals would create a sluggish economy and calling Kerry's outlook, quote, "pessimistic." Senator Kerry had no immediate response.

And in Washington, a big win. The U.S. Supreme court has handed a victory to health maintenance organizations. The court says patients who claim their HMOs refused to pay for recommended medical care cannot sue for big malpractice damages in state courts. HMOs want the battles waged in federal courts, where awards are traditionally lower than in the state courts.

That's a look at stories cross country tonight.

Until today, the sky was the limit when it came to privately funded aviation. But that all changed this morning when a test pilot named Michael Melvill boarded a special rocket plane and took it to unprecedented heights.

CNN space correspondent Miles O'Brien was there.


MILES O'BRIEN, CNN SPACE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It was a high-flying triumph for the little guy. Airplane and now spaceship designer Burt Rutan and his small company, Scale Composites, sent "SpaceShipOne" on a suborbital flight for a little more than $20 million.

MIKE MELVILL, TEST PILOT: You really do get the feeling that you've touched the face of God when you do something like this, believe me.

O'BRIEN: The history-making flight was not trouble free. Shortly after Melvill lit the rocket motor, fueled by a mixture of rubber and nitrous oxide -- laughing gas -- there was a no-laughing- matter problem with the critical flight controls. The small craft veered off its vertical course.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have just a five-mile box to reenter in. The spaceship actually reentered 22 miles away from that box. It could have gone twice that far and still glided back to Mojave, though.

O'BRIEN: The problem lowered "SpaceShipOne"'s apogee, but the craft squeaked into the record books, reaching 328,491 feet, 400 feet beyond the official boundary of space, just enough for Melvill to earn his astronaut wings, awarded by the FAA.

The effort was bankrolled by billionaire Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, who hopes this is the beginning of a new space race for the rest of us.

(on camera): Rutan and his team will troubleshoot that control problem, and then may very well announce an attempt at the $10 million X prize, a private purse awarded to the first civilian team to fly to space in a three-person vehicle twice in as many weeks. There are at least a half-dozen other teams vying for that prize, but clearly "SpaceShipOne" is the horse to beat.

Miles O'Brien, CNN, Mojave, California.


COLLINS: 360 next, on the edge of medical boundaries. Conjoined twins fight to live a life apart. We'll talk to the doctor who made it all possible.

Also tonight, fired up over Bill Clinton? (audio interrupt) go on the offense. That's raw politics.

And a little later, Anderson Cooper live from Baghdad. He has the inside scoop on the Abu Ghraib prison scandal.


COLLINS: It's been four months since a pair of special twins named Erin and Jade Buckles were born in Washington. But in some ways, their lives did not really begin until this weekend. The two girls underwent a six-hour separation surgery Saturday. They had been joined from the chest to the abdomen. Doctors say the operation was successful, and that both girls should be able to lead normal lives. Joining us now from Washington is Dr. Gary Hartman, the lead surgeon at Children's National Medical Center.

Dr. Hartman, thanks for being here tonight.

I want to ask you, it has been about 55 hours or so since the separation. How would you say the girls are doing now?

DR. GARY HARTMAN, LEAD SURGEON, CHILDREN'S NATIONAL MEDICAL CENTER: They're doing quite well. They're still in critical condition, but the issues that we are dealing with now are the ones we thought we would be dealing with, and they're making good progress on those issues.

COLLINS: We're looking at a picture of the mother here, I believe Melissa is her name, and the two little girls. You can just see the joy on her face there in that snapshot. What was it like to come out and tell her that the girls were separated and that they were doing well?

HARTMAN: Well, we were giving them updates throughout the surgery by members of our team. And so by the time I actually finished and came out, they knew that the separation was successful. They were quite relieved.

COLLINS: We know that you did have some concerns, though, in the beginning, about the liver and the hearts of the girls. Once you were inside, what did you find?

HARTMAN: Well, we had three main concerns before the surgery. The connection of the hearts, the connection of the liver, and then how to reconstruct them after we had them separated. What we found when we entered was that the liver was large and was fused, as we had seen on our preoperative images. The hearts were connected, but there was a very small connection, and that was easily divided.

COLLINS: All right, excellent. What about their prognosis though? Is there one twin that is stronger than the other. We've heard these stories before when we've seen the conjoined twins and the operations that follow, where one oftentimes is a little bit stronger than the other.

HARTMAN: They're both pretty equal in strength and in health. We were more concerned about Erin preoperatively, because her heart, a good portion of it, resided in Jade's chest, and we were concerned about our ability to cover that, or that reorienting it might be a problem for her in terms of cardiac function. But those worries have not panned out so far.

COLLINS: Great. Now, are they going to be able to develop normally?

HARTMAN: They should be, yes.

COLLINS: Excellent. How about long-term damage that they might see later on? HARTMAN: Well, you know, that's interesting, because we thought that this was an elective operation. And I told the parents when we discussed whether we should attempt the separation or not that they really -- the alternative would be that they could stay together and live a reasonable expectation of lifespan, not quality, but lifespan.

What we have found since the separation is that there are some pretty serious structural abnormalities that were already developing. Those, we think, are reversible, and that as they grow, that they will remodel and remold. So we don't really think there will be long-term consequences.

COLLINS: All right. When they be able to breathe on their own, doctor?

HARTMAN: Well, I wish I knew. We're hoping for the next -- within the next week.

COLLINS: All right. Thanks so much for being with us tonight, Dr. Gary Hartman, an incredible operation. So nice to talk to you.

HARTMAN: Thank you.

COLLINS: A firsthand look inside the courtroom as an American goes on trial for the abuse at Abu Ghraib prison.


COOPER: Welcome back. I'm Anderson Cooper live from Baghdad in this special edition of 360. Coming up next, inside the Abu Graihb prison scandal. Will top commanders be held accountable? We'll take a closer look at that. But first, let's take a look at tonight's top stories in the "Reset."

Ramadi, Iraq. Four marines killed. Few details how they died but a wire service aired this video that purportedly showed the bodies of American servicemen killed in the area. The military says it is probably from the same incident.

Washington, D.C., a controversial memo due out tomorrow signed by Donald Rumsfeld critics say proves he authorized torture at Guantanamo Bay. The Pentagon says the techniques mentioned do not constitute torture, and that the most controversial methods cited were never used.

Santa Barbara, California, gays in the military, a university there says 770 U.S. service personnel were discharged under the "don't ask, don't tell" policy last year. Their study found more than 6,600 left the military from 1998 to 2003.

Again, in Washington, what's in a name? In a 5-4 ruling, the Supreme Court says there is nothing in the constitution that says a person cannot be forced to identify themselves to police. The ruling upholds laws in 21 states that allow police to jail suspects who won't cooperate. And relief at the gas pump in the U.S. The average price for a gallon of gasoline down for the fourth straight week, now $1.93. It is still 44 cents higher than it was this time last year.

Joining us this morning in the very wee hours of the morning, just a short time before 4:00 here in Baghdad is Vivian Walt, a correspondent from "TIME" magazine. She's been covering the beginning, the pretrial hearings for the four Americans now facing trial for the Abu Graihb prison scandal. Thanks for being with us so early in the morning. The most significant thing that happened today in the hearing.

VIVIAN WALT, TIME MAGAZINE: The most significant thing is that the judge laid the way for these lawyers who are representing the soldiers to interview top commanders in the region in fact. Going as high as General John Abizaid, who commands all American forces in this entire region.

COOPER: They also talked about General Sanchez. There were also other names mentioned, Donald Rumsfeld, and even said they'd like to talk to George Bush. That seems highly unlikely.

WALT: Yes, it does seem unlikely. One seemed completely concerned that he wanted to tie this all to Bush. He certainly said he could tie it to Cambone, the Undersecretary of Defense and he said that he would probably work on tying it to Rumsfeld. What these guys are trying to prove is that the orders for abuse in Abu Graihb came from the very highest levels.

COOPER: That it wasn't Grainer or Frederick or any of these people just kind of coming up with it themselves, that it really came from the top down. The lawyers who showed up today, we'll talk about why one of them didn't show up. The lawyers who showed up, showed up really ready to fight.

WALT: They showed up just yes, full of battle. And essentially laid out this strategy, which is let's not discuss whether this was right or wrong, whether it was moral, whether we're disgusted by the photographs. All of that is irrelevant. The only thing that's relevant is who ordered it, and if the orders came from military intelligence, and came from very very highest level of the Pentagon.

COOPER: The judge was surprised because one of the civilian attorneys for one of the defendants didn't actually even show up in court. Why?

WALT: Well, he made a case which was rather unlikely, which is that the judge allow him to appear by telephone. As you know, probably know, Anderson, the telephone connections in baghdad are fairly shaky at the best of times. So that was never going to fly. he then read out a letter that all people are supposed to sign saying that basically they take their lives in their hands when they come to Baghdad and that he wasn't prepared to do that.

COOPER: And the judge didn't really buy that?

WALT: No, he essentially just postponed the case for another month. And it's unlikely that he'll show up next month.

COOPER: It's interesting. This is obviously a big story in many parts of the world, but you don't hear much about it on the streets of Baghdad today.

WALT: Well, that's the interesting thing. The Iraqis have essentially written off the whole process. They're not interested. They do not attend. The Iraqi journalists were not in the courtroom. They were barely in the overflow room. And when I asked one of the Iraqi newspaper editors in Baghdad yesterday about this, he said the Iraqis don't care. You know, firstly, there's a tradition in this country, unfortunately under Saddam Hussein that if you're not executed, it's not serious.

COOPER: It's not so bad if you don't get killed.

WALT: And secondly that they wanted this to go to an international court. And the fact that it's a military court even though American military justice has a fine tradition, they don't know anything about it. They don't trust it, and they just have written it off.

COOPER: I know you had a long day in the court. We appreciate you coming out, Vivian Walt from "TIME" magazine. Thanks very much. Heidi, we'll have more news coming from Baghdad shortly. Let's go back to you in New York.

COLLINS: All right Anderson. Thanks so much.

Bill Clinton's autobiography is set for release at midnight. He began his book tour with an appearance on "60 Minutes" last night. But while he was making his case, and selling his memoirs, he also opened the doors once more to the conservative criticism that has dogged him even beyond his two terms as president. Proving he is still a lightening rod in the storm, that is raw politics.


BILL CLINTON, FMR PRESIDENT, UNITED STATES: I was involved -- in as I tried to say in the book, two great fights. A struggle with the Republicans over the future of the country, which I won. And the struggle with my old demons, which I lost.

COLLINS (voice over): Former President Bill Clinton, hawking his book on "60 Minutes" reflecting on his life and his eight years in office. And taking to task the people he said were trying to take away his presidency, like prosecutors in the Starr investigation.

CLINTON: They indicted innocent people because they wouldn't lie. And they exonerated people who committed crimes because they would lie. And they did it because it was nothing but a big political operation designed to bring down the presidency.

COLLINS: Not surprisingly, Clinton's memoirs have opened the door to a flood of conservative criticism. One group, Citizens United, ran an add on "60 Minutes" in some cities, questioning Clinton's commitment to fighting terrorism.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The "U.S.S. Cole" attacked. Americans died. All while Bill Clinton was president.

COLLINS: Others took to the airwaves to belittle Clinton's role in the economic boom of his presidential days.

JONAH GOLDBERG, NATIONAL REVIEW ONLINE: In the long term, people are going to say this had to do with the ongoing tech revolution.

COLLINS: Conservative radio show host, Rush Limbaugh is calling the book "My Lie," instead of "My Life." But some political experts say focusing on the former president can be a double-edged sword.

RON BROWNSTEIN, LOS ANGELES TIMES: In polling right at the very end of Clinton's presidency, right into the 2000 election, his direction for the country remained enormously popular. With voters, Clinton himself however, was a much more polarizing and less popular figure. And I think what we're seeing as the book comes out is the likelihood that this debate and this basic dichotomy just continues.

COLLINS: And it may be November before the parties know for sure if attacking or embracing the controversial former president makes good strategy in an election year, or just risky raw politics.


COLLINS: So what does the return of Bill Clinton to the limelight mean for Bush, Kerry and the election? Earlier I took up the issue with "Crossfire" co-hosts Paul Begala and Tucker Carlson.


COLLINS: Paul, I want to begin with you if I could. Obviously, President Clinton back in the spotlight now getting a whole bunch of publicity for this book. What will the short-term impact be, do you think, on John Kerry?

PAUL BEGALA, CO-HOST, CROSSFIRE: I think it's nothing but good news for John Kerry because it will remind people of what it was like when we had a president who was engaged, and able to get things done, and really cared about your life. It will remind people that Clinton had a successful economic policy, 22 million jobs. that he balanced the budget.

The Democrats are competent fiscal stewards. As President Bush tries to say, the Democrats will spend us just oblivion. Clinton helps to remind us that we had a president who did a darn good job for the economy, frankly, better than the current president. So I think it's nothing but good for John Kerry.

COLLINS: But Tucker, if the spotlight's on Clinton it's not on Kerry.

TUCKER CARLSON, CO-HOST, CROSSFIRE: That's an excellent point. There are things that Clinton can brag about but that he chooses not to, like welfare reform which I think by any measure was an important achievement. His free trade initiatives, which the Democrats are busy backtracking from.

But along with Clinton comes the baggage. And I'm not talking about Monica Lewinsky, or sex scandal baggage. But just the constant, almost pathological need for attention. The kind of "look at me" quality of it all. The 957-page book, imagine writing that many pages about yourself. I mean truly. Yes. That does not help Kerry, just because it takes attention away from him.

COLLINS: Paul, obviously, Clinton and the Democrats have complained for a very long time that really the media focused much more on his personal affairs than his record. But isn't writing about it sort of fueling the fire? I mean, is he just trying to settle a score here?

BEGALA: No, I've read chunks of the book. I've talked to the president about it. There's less score settling here, I think people will be surprised, than any of us anticipated. He does, I think, have a right to set the record straight. My goodness, can you imagine, I can't, and I worked with him every day when that Lewinsky thing was going on. Can you imagine your worst moment, your most profound moral failing being displayed across the world for everybody to see?

I mean, it's really quite stunning what was done to him, Heidi. And for what? For what? For politics and for power. That's what happened here. The Republicans couldn't challenge him successfully on political and policy grounds. He beat them every time. They spent $80 million of our money and used the FBI and the rest of the power of the government to find out, well, he wasn't a crook on Whitewater, there was nothing about the travel office, the files, and all the other stuff they investigated for eight years, but, yes, he cheated on his wife.

COLLINS: Do you think though, that there was an instance in the book or, again a lot of us are waiting to read the entirety. We should say that to be fair. You would think he would talk up more about the things that worked out for him well in office like the domestic economy.

BEGALA: Don't worry. He does. Tucker and others like to make fun of the fact that there's so much in the book, because he got so much done. Tucker is profoundly wrong when he says it wasn't an interesting or important time in American history.

COLLINS: Tucker, are you profoundly wrong?

CARLSON: No. Look, it was not a significant presidency, obviously. Most people sense that. I think that the right painted Clinton from the beginning as a screaming right-winger, he wasn't. Much in the same way you hear the left prattle on about how say Bush is this Jerry Falwell clone. That's a lie.

He wasn't. He was a pretty moderate Democrat. Much more moderate than John Kerry incidentally. I don't think John Kerry would have signed welfare reform. Who knows? But he's definitely more moderate than Kerry was. But in the end, it just wasn't a historically significant period.

There's really no getting around that. Compare him -- I don't know -- to virtually any other president of the 20th century and I think you conclude that inevitably. Some of that's not Clinton's fault. It's just sort of the cards he was dealt.

COLLINS: All right guys. We certainly appreciate your time tonight, as always. Paul Begala and Tucker Carlson, thanks again.

COLLINS: Today's "Buzz" is this -- which president do you think is more polarizing, George W. Bush or Bill Clinton? Log on to to vote. We'll have the results at the end of the show.

Getting to the heart of the Kobe Bryant case. Just ahead, the basketball star returns to court today where we learned when his trial may most likely begin. Details coming up.

And a little later, belly beauty. The button becomes the focus of high art.


COLLINS: An update to a story we told you about a little earlier. The preliminary autopsy report has just been released on a father and two sons whose bodies were found onshore at Lake Michigan. They were tied together with a nylon rope. We go now to Chris Lawrence who's been watching the story unfold in Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin.

CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Heidi, from what we've learned from the medical examiner, we now believe this to be a murder, suicide. The preliminary autopsy results show that both of the children drowned, and that the manner of death was homicide.

As for their father, Kevin Amde, the medical examiner says his death is not inconsistent with drowning. However, the official ruling is being withheld pending the results of a toxicology test to eliminate what police say is a remote possibility that this was anything other than a suicide.

We've also learned that Kevin Amde was depressed in the days leading up to their disappearance. Possibly because of very severe financial problems. As we told you a little bit earlier, we learned from the landlord earlier today that the family was expected to be evicted at the end of the week for failing to pay rent for the past few months.

COLLINS: Chris, any idea when those toxicology reports will be done?

LAWRENCE: They expect it possibly in the next day or two. The police and the medical examiner seem fairly confident with their findings. But again, they say this is a very, very remote possibility that this was anything other than suicide.

COLLINS: All right, Chris Lawrence for us tonight from Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin. Thanks, Chris.

Impressive stats, but his record on the court doesn't affect what happens in court for Kobe Bryant. It was in court today where Bryant, accused of rape got a good idea of when opening statements will begin. CNN national correspondent Gary Tuchman with the latest.

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: If the requests of Kobe Bryant's attorneys and the attorneys prosecuting him are granted, the NBA star will stand trial about two months from now. On Monday, the judge Terry Ruckriegel asked both sides when they want to see the sexual assault trial start. They both said the end of August.

The lawyers have also agreed to send out an unusually elaborate questionnaire to prospective jurors before they even come to court. But they disagree on some of the topics. Bryant's attorneys want a question about views on interracial relationships and dating. Prosecutors reject the characterization of that night as a relationship or dating.

CRAIG SILVERMAN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: As to whether or not they had a relationship, there was testimony that there was prolonged consensual kissing and hugging before the intercourse took place. Some would characterize that as a relationship. Apparently the prosecution would not.

TUCHMAN: The judge still has to decide on that issue, as well as the most critical pretrial issue if any one of the alleged victim's sex life will be admissible in trial. The arguing over that issue will be completed Tuesday. The judge's decision could come anytime after that.

SILVERMAN: It's becoming increasingly clear that the only evidence the prosecution has is the word of the alleged victim, and this injury to sensitive part of her body. The defense is arguing that injury could have been caused by others, beyond that, it might have happened during consensual sex. So it essentially will come down to a he said, she said case.

LAWRENCE: It has now been almost a year to the day since the encounter between Bryant and the woman who turned 20 years old this past week. Regarding an August trial date, the judge says he has legal issues to take care of before making an official announcement. However, a short time ago we talked to his spokesperson who says he will make his best effort to make it happen but there are no guarantees.

Meanwhile, inside the court today, the alleged victim's parents were there. They would occasionally glance in Kobe Bryant's direction. He glanced occasionally in their direction. But on no occasion did we see their eyes meet. Heidi, back to you.

COLLINS: All right. Gary Tuchman live from Eagle, Colorado tonight. Thanks Gary.

And covering the case for us is 360 legal analyst Kimberly Guilfoyle Newsom. Kimberly, thanks for being here tonight. Let's talk about the questionnaire for a moment if we could. And the question about interracial relationships. Is it a fair one?

KIMBERLY GUILFOYLE NEWSOM, 360 LEGAL ANALYST: I think it's a tough one. It's one the defense has to ask and say listen, we want to know if anybody's prejudiced here to the point where they think that if a black man has sex with a white woman, then of course, she must be telling the truth, and this is some kind of rape situation.

It's really not, I don't think, appropriate based on this case. They also talk about dating. This really isn't a case about dating or date rape. And it certainly isn't a stranger rape case. But what the issue is is consent, and whether or not she consented. Another important point is just because she consented doesn't mean that there wasn't a rape. She could have consented to Kobe Bryant, but maybe because of his actions, his conduct, forced her to.

COLLINS: OK, and more on that now. Let's talk about the issue of consent. There were some arguments today about jury instructions and this issue of consent. The defense says the prosecution must show the alleged victim did not consent to sex, and that Bryant knew it. Now, you were a prosecutor. How hard is that? I mean to actually argue on what someone might have been thinking.

GUILFOYLE NEWSOM: This is probably one of the closest to the most impossible case you could have as a prosecutor. It's a sexual assault. It's a he said, she said. Who are you going to believe at the end of the day, Kobe Bryant, or the alleged accuser? How do you get inside her head?

How can you prove and how can you get inside his head? That's why you look to the facts and circumstances around. Do they have physical injury or trauma forced to show that this was nonconsensual, and she was forced into this act. And what did Kobe Bryant think at the time. But what they have to show here is this conduct occurred. Forced use, because that's what's charged, a forcible sex crime, and that she only gave in because she felt she had no choice.

COLLINS: You have to stick to the evidence there. But, there are more issues to talk about remaining. Evidence -- that is could be remaining evidence at the crime scene that was apparently not collected. I want to tell you what that is. A chair on which the alleged rape happened, towels, sheets, trash. First of all, how did that happen? And second of all, could this actually come back to haunt the investigators and ultimately the prosecution? I mean, they could throw it out, couldn't they?

GUILFOYLE NEWSOM: Absolutely. This is really what could end up being an acquittal for Kobe Bryant. I think it's so important because there were things they should have done, and there is no excuse for that. Here he is on trial for some very serious charges. They should have gotten that information. They didn't. And some jurors, if they want to walk Kobe, this is what they can use to do it.

COLLINS: Kimberly Guilfoyle Newsom, thanks so much tonight.

360 next. Midriff exposed like never before. One artist is raising the level of innies and outies to an an art form. But first, today's "Buzz." Which president do you think is more polarizing? George W. Bush or Bill Clinton? Vote now, Results when we come back.


COLLINS: Time now for the "Buzz." Earlier we asked, which president do you think is more polarizing, George W. Bush or Bill Clinton? 81 percent say it's George W. Bush, 19 percent think it's Clinton. I want to remind you, this is not a scientific poll, but it is "Your Buzz."

For centuries, artists have been inspired by the human body. Although most of it has been covered, there's one part that's never had its chance to be appreciated as art. Until now. CNN's Jeanne Moos shows us how one photographer is finding inspiration where others usually find lint.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Is it an astronomical phenomenon, a black hole perhaps, or a crater on the Red Planet? Maybe this will ring a bell. As in belly ring.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The hairy ones turned out great.

MOOS: Navel gazing.


MOOS: Has been turned into an art.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's mysterious, it's got texture, it's got depth.

MOOS: Sure works like Michelangelo's David have a belly button, but it's never been the focus.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's sort of a neglected body part in art history.

MOOS: Not anymore.


MOOS: New York artist Chris Twomey snapped her first navel about eight years ago on a beach. It was her father's.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is me, like a fingerprint. You could probably identify people.

MOOS: Chris' salute is on exhibit at a gallery called "A Gathering of Tribes" where she's gathered belly buttons ranging from the hairy, before and after, to the pierced. She photo shops the images adding layers. What most of us see as an often ugly anatomical indentation tickles Chris.

CHRIS TWOMEY: It's almost spiritual. It looks like a cross.

MOOS: She sees the placenta as a life-giving source of oxygen, DNA, and stem cells.

TWOMEY: Belly. Belly.

MOOS: And she loves doing family portraits. But even in this age of the exposed midriff, not all navels are ready for their close- up. Outies are outnumbered.

TWOMEY: Most of them are innies.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm an innie. And the bigger I get, the innier I get.

MOOS: Sometimes it pays to keep your belly buttoned. Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.


COLLINS: I really don't know what to say about that, so I'm going to toss it back over to Anderson Cooper standing by in Baghdad -- Anderson.

COOPER: Sorry. I was just navel gazing a little bit. Thanks very much. Coming up next, the "Nth degree," we're going to take the future of Iraq and the future of its people to the "Nth Degree." We'll be right back.


COOPER: Finally hope to the "Nth Degree." It's almost 4:00 a.m. here in Baghdad. The dawn of a new day not quite arrived. There are some now eight days to the handover of power here in Iraq.

On the streets, you hear rumors of what might happen before June 30. Rumors of car bombs, and chaos. But listen close, and you'll also hear hope. Whispers of possibilities, and progress of what might be of what's still to come.

Hope is not easy to hold on to amidst the heat and the dust, and the danger. But when you ask people if things will get better, if life will improve, many will shrug. Some smile. But what they say is often the same, Insha Allah. God willing.

Insha Allah, indeed. I'm Anderson Cooper live in Baghdad. Thanks for joining us on this special edition of 360. "PAULA ZAHN NOW" is next.


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