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Militants Claim to Release Hassoun; Iraq's Interim Government Backs Off Amnesty Deal; Man Tries to Cash In 1 Million Pennies; John Kerry Plans to Announce Runningmate Tomorrow In PA

Aired July 5, 2004 - 19:00   ET


The family of a Marine captured in Iraq begs for mercy as his captors claim they have set him free.

360 starts now.

Hopes rise on reports a missing Marine is freed unharmed. We're live in his hometown.

Tough new tactics by the FBI to counter possible terror attacks at this summer's political conventions.

Who is Kerry's number two? Sources say the senator has made his choice, but when will an announcement be made?

Not so fast. Iraq's new government backs off its amnesty deal with insurgents.

Are your kids growing up too fast, sex, drugs and everything in between? "Too Much, Too Soon" -- a special series.

And a man, a bet, and one million pennies. What to do with $10,000 in copper coins.

ANNOUNCER: Live from New York, this is ANDERSON COOPER 360.

COOPER: Good evening again.

It is simply hard to imagine what this weekend has been like for the family of kidnapped U.S. Marine Corporal Wassef Hassoun. There have been so many ups and downs, questions about how Corporal Hassoun was captured, was he AWOL? This weekend, reports indicated he had been killed, but tonight, in a new message from kidnappers, some words of hope.

Following the developments for us tonight at the CNN Center in Atlanta, CNN's Zain Verjee and in West Jordan, Utah, where Corporal Hassoun's family lives, CNN's Rusty Dornin.

We begin in Atlanta. Zain, what's the latest?

ZAIN VERJEE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, as you say, first the news that Corporal Hassoun is dead, and then the news that he's alive. The bottom line is, nobody really knows. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

VERJEE (voice-over): Corporal Wassef Hassoun, a Marine translator of Lebanese descent, disappeared in Iraq more than two weeks ago. On June 27, Al Jazeera TV showed a videotape of Hassoun blindfolded. The pictures were accompanied by a threat saying Hassoun would be killed if the United States did not release Iraqi prisoners.

The hunt in Iraq for Hassoun and his captors turned up nothing. Then, this past Saturday, the worst possible news for Hassoun's friends and family. A message posted on an Islamic Web site declared Hassoun was dead.

But one day later, a sudden reversal. A different Web site said Hassoun was still alive. That message was followed today by a statement delivered to Al Jazeera, attributed to Islamic Response. It said Hassoun, quote, "has been sent to a safe place after he had announced his forgiveness and his determination not to go back to the U.S. forces."


VERJEE: And Anderson, the U.S. military says it doesn't have any definitive information that Corporal Hassoun has been released, and it says officially his status is still captured. They say, Look, when we get more proof, when we get more information, then we'll comment on it. Right now, they're not even commenting what Al Jazeera is reporting, Anderson.

COOPER: And a lot of this information coming from these shadowy Web sites. What do we know about the group that's claimed responsibility for all this?

VERJEE: Anderson, we don't know much about the Islamic Response. It's not really clear how real a group they are, how authentic they are, even if they're an extension of another more well-known group.

But experts that we've spoken to today said, Look, militant fringe groups like this have a tactic. And the tactic is, they change names over and over again. And they do that as a strategy to try and confuse the American intelligence, as well as to preserve themselves, Anderson.

COOPER: All right, Zain Verjee in Atlanta, thanks for that.

Hard to imagine, as we said, what Corporal Hassoun's family's going through in all this. They have remained in seclusion. A couple of hours ago, however, a spokesman read a statement from the family.

Rusty Dornin is in West Jordan, Utah, with the details. Rusty?

RUSTY DORNIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, as you said, I think it would be hard for any family to imagine what this has been like, as Corporal Hassoun announced he was captured, then he was killed, then he wasn't killed, and now that he's released. Well, of course the latest news is very optimistic, but the key emotion here at this household is still anxiety. And as the family spokesman, the cousin of Corporal Hassoun said, the family still just doesn't know what to believe.


TAREK NOSSEIR, HASSOUN FAMILY SPOKESMAN: We pray that the news of his safe release is true. If he is still in captivity, we remind the captors of the saying of our beloved Prophet, [speaks in Arabic], Be merciful to those on earth. Mercy will come -- will descend upon you from heaven.


DORNIN: Now, Nosseir didn't take any questions from reporters. All weekend long, family, friends, neighbors, well-wishers, even a corporal from an Army platoon nearby came by to just drop off balloons and notes of support and that sort of thing. Very strong outpouring from this community trying to imagine what this family is going through.

Now, one source close to the family did tell us that they were upset, of course, by the part of the message that talks about him being sent someplace safe, saying, you know, what does that mean? How can they say that? So obviously no confirmation yet. And until we see some pictures or something, the fate of Corporal Wassef Hassoun remains unknown, Anderson.

COOPER: All right, Rusty Dornin, thanks from Utah tonight.

Tonight in politics, all eyes are on John Kerry. Sources tell CNN that he has picked a running mate and may announce his choice as early as tomorrow. A number of candidates, of course, have been vying for the job, apparently ignoring FDR's first vice president, John Nance Garner, who once said that the veep job wasn't worth a bucket of warm spit.

For Kerry and his candidate, it is worth a lot more now.

CNN's Joe Johns has the latest.


JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): John Kerry and his wife, Theresa, hosted a picnic on their farm in Pennsylvania with speculation raging over his pick for a vice presidential running mate. The campaign was officially sticking with its story that Kerry has not made up his mind, though a Democratic official who has spoken with Kerry tells CNN Kerry has made up his mind and will make an announcement soon.

One of the key things Kerry is looking for in a running mate is compatibility, says a campaign source, someone who relates to Kerry on a personal level. One of the politician on Kerry's short list, Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack. He has compared choosing a running mate to choosing a spouse, while sidestepping questions about being a finalist for number two on the anticipated Democratic ticket.

GOV. TOM VILSACK (D), IOWA: When I did it, I looked for somebody that would complement my strengths, that would sort of fit into maybe areas that I wasn't as strong.

JOHNS: Among the others who have been mentioned publicly as finalists, Missouri Congressman Richard Gephardt was also deflecting questions about Kerry but trying to be hospitable about it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's no meetings planned with Kerry?

REP. DICK GEPHARDT (D), MISSOURI: No, sir, just a picnic. But we got plenty of hamburgers and hot dogs, and you're all invited.

JOHNS: North Carolina Senator John Edwards was headed to Boston for a pair of Kerry fund-raisers. One other senator who's been mentioned occasionally, Delaware's Joe Biden, was telling reporters he has no reason to think he's in the running.

SEN. JOE BIDEN (D), DELAWARE: Nobody (UNINTELLIGIBLE) -- no one's done any vetting and checking that I'm aware of.


JOHNS: Late today, Kerry, speaking to a local television interviewer, said, "I'll just tell you, I've not made a decision at this point in time, and I'm going to keep it a personal and private process until I announce it publicly." So the guessing game continues, Anderson.

COOPER: It certainly does. All right, Joe, thanks very much.

In Iraq today, another attempt by U.S. forces to roll up the network of accused terrorist mastermind Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. U.S. forces have hit what they say is one of his safe houses in Fallujah used to harbor Islamic militants. This of course the fourth such attack. This attack killed eight people, not Zarqawi, however.

CNN's Baghdad bureau chief, Jane Arraf, reports.


JANE ARRAF, CNN BAGHDAD BUREAU CHIEF (voice-over): U.S. forces have struck what they call Zarqawi network safe houses for the past two weeks in Fallujah, where battles with U.S. forces have made the city a magnet for foreign insurgents.

Iraqi and American officials said the strike relied on Iraqi intelligence and American weapons. The U.S.-led multinational forces say they used four 500-pound bombs and two 1,000-pound bombs in the attack Monday evening. They say the strike was aimed at destroying terrorist networks whose car bombs and suicide vests are killing innocent Iraqis.

Officials called it an attack on a Mujahadin safe house. But for angry residents of this neighborhood, the dead were ordinary people. "Don't say they're Mujahadin. Those who are killed here are families, and we will take revenge on Iyad Allawi and on the Americans," said this man.

Hospital officials and witnesses say at least eight people were killed in the strike, including at least one woman and three children.

(on camera): U.S. and Iraqi officials are going to great lengths to make the point that this was a joint operation. The prime minister has said that it's an indication that the sovereign nation of Iraq will hunt down terrorists and kill them, one by one. And he appealed to Iraqis to provide information to help him.

(voice-over): And there are more measures to come. Allawi is expected to announce a national security plan that would give his caretaker government more powers to detain suspects, mobilize the armed forces, and impose curfews. It would also offer an amnesty to low-level insurgents.

Jane Arraf, CNN, Baghdad.


COOPER: We're going to have more on that amnesty later on in the program tonight.

And here's a quick news note for you. Fearing a possible terrorist attack, U.S. Central Command has issued a mandatory order to 650 U.S. military dependents to leave Bahrain within days. Now, Pentagon sources say there is credible intelligence the tiny Persian Gulf state could be the next place the terrorists attack Americans.

Well, one of Vice President's Dick Cheney's personal physicians has been dropped for alleged drug abuse. That story tops our look at news cross-country tonight. In Washington, Dr. Gary Malakhov (ph) was removed from the vice president's medical team following reports in a magazine article that he abused prescription narcotics. The article in "The New Yorker" also says that Malakhov had been removed from his senior position at George Washington University Medical Center.

Fort Lauderdale, Florida, now, Olympic wrestler wrecks at the airport. Thirty-three-year-old Alexis Vila was taken into custody after he crashed his SUV into a crowded airport terminal. No one was injured, luckily. Villa, a former Olympian who competed for Cuba before defecting in 1997, is being held for psychiatric examination.

In New York, the fidelity gap is getting smaller. "Newsweek" magazine reports that women are now having almost as many extramarital affairs as men. Therapists estimate that 40 percent of the women they counsel step over the line, close to the 50 percent of men who do, according to some studies.

And in Hollywood, the sensitive superhero huge at the box office this weekend. "Spider Man 2" opened last week to a record take, brought in $180 million in its first six days. The movie apparently has won praise for its depiction of Spider Man as having all-too-human problems, just like a regular guy. That's a look at what's going on cross-country tonight.

360 next, terror fears. The FBI has a new plan to keep terrorists away from this summer's political conventions. We'll have details on that ahead.

Plus, amnesty for Iraqi insurgents, even those who killed Americans? A look at this controversial idea ahead.

And sex, drugs, and rock and roll. Do kids today have too much, too soon? Question we're asking our week-long special series that starts tonight.

First, let's take a look at your picks for the most popular stories on right now.


COOPER: Well, these days, any big event or holiday is considered a potential target of terrorists, sad sign of the times. Thankfully, the Fourth of July holiday has passed without incident. The next potential target, we suppose, the Democratic and Republican conventions in New York and Boston. Millions of dollars are being spent already in both cities for stepped-up security.

With a look at that, CNN's justice correspondent, Kelli Arena.


KELLI ARENA, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A suspicious package in midtown Manhattan brings an immediate police response. Security personnel even more concerned than usual. Counterterrorism officials say intelligence continues to indicate terrorists are planning to strike before November's election. And they say this summer's Republican convention in New York is a tempting target.

And while the public has been warned about chemical or radiological weapons, there's actually more concern about a conventional attack, like a truck bomb.

KEN PIERNICK, FORMER FBI COUNTERTERRORISM: Vehicle-borne bombs are fairly easy to conduct, generally speaking. You just need a secluded place to construct it, and then you need a means to get to your target, and then you do your business. So those are very easy. Getting into a chemical facility or some other kind of sensitive infrastructure requires a great deal of study and planning and coordination.

ARENA: U.S. officials say they believe there may already be operatives in the United States but insist the intelligence on that front is vague.

To find out more, officials say, investigators are closely examining visa holders already in the U.S. from African countries like Somalia, where al Qaeda has increased its recruiting effort. And the FBI says it has started interviewing individuals based on names, travel records, phone numbers, and any other information gathered by its new task force formed to deal specifically with the current threat.

Some Muslim groups are worried about profiling.

NIHAD AWAD, COUNCIL ON AMERICAN-ISLAMIC RELATIONS: We believe that, you know, racial profiling and ethnic scapegoating and just the mentality of round up the usual suspects is counterproductive, ineffective law enforcement, and never worked in the history of this nation. Why do we repeat it?


ARENA: While concern about an attack remains high, officials stress while the intelligence is thought to be credible, there is still no specific information to act on, and still no plan to raise the national threat level from yellow to orange, Anderson.

COOPER: All right, I guess some good news on that. Kelli Arena, thanks for that.

Armed Mexican troops interrupt a U.S. Marine's funeral. That story tops our look at global stories in tonight's uplink. Mexican soldiers carrying automatic weapons briefly halted the service in San Luis de la Paz (ph), Mexico, and demanded that the Marine honor guard give up their ceremonial rifles. The U.S. embassy believes the Mexicans thought the rifle replicas, which could not be fired, were real weapons. Mexico bans foreign soldiers from carrying firearms in its country.

The Hague, Netherlands, Slobodan Milosevic's war crimes trial is postponed for the third time. Judges are reviewing whether to continue prosecuting the former Yugoslav president. The trial has already gone on for more than two years. A medical report says Milosevic has suffered heart damage from the stress from defending himself.

London, England, now, naughty children will still get spanked. The House of Lords has overwhelmingly rejected a proposed ban on spanking, but approved a measure that would tighten existing rules on punishing children. Now, spanking is outlawed in several other European countries.

And in Athens, Greece, thousands are celebrating. Crowds of Greeks gave a heroes' welcome to their soccer team, which won he European championship yesterday. It is Greece's first time in a major tournament.

And that's a quick look at what's going on around the globe.

Next on 360, full pardon, a controversial plan to give amnesty to Iraqi insurgents, possibly even those who killed Americans. We'll take a look at what's behind this controversial idea.

Also tonight, decriminalizing prostitution on the ballot in one city. Could it set a precedent?

And a little later, teens of the '60s compared to today's teens. Who are wilder? Part of our special series, Too Much, Too Soon.


COOPER: Well, the generation of kids growing up today has access to more, faster, than ever before, sex, drugs, porn, you name it, they can pretty much get their hands on it. All this week, in our special series Too Much, Too Soon, we're going to be looking at how kids today are handling all this freedom and, in some cases, mishandling it.

Tonight, we start the series by comparing this generation of kids to their parents' generation, those coming of age in 1969. What a difference a generation makes.


COOPER (voice-over): Nineteen sixty-nine, what a trip it was. Hippies, drugs, Woodstock, Vietnam, psychedelic, far out, flower power were some of the expressions of the day.

The medley "Aquarius: Let the Sun Shine In" by the Fifth Dimension was the number one single back then.

This year, Usher's "Yeah" has been topping the charts. It's definitely not the Age of Aquarius any more.

In 1969...


SINGER (singing): What are we fighting for?


COOPER: ... war was something overseas. It seems a lot of teens took the slogan, Make love, not war, to heart. Thirty-five percent of girls and 55 percent of guys had sex by age 18. By 1995, the numbers peaked at 60 percent and 66 percent. Now, fewer than half of high school students say they've ever had intercourse.

The '60s marked the birth of the pill. But by the end of the decade, it was universally available only to married couples. Only about one-third of women used protection for the first time they had sex compared with more than three quarters in the '90s. Alcohol was cool then, 56 percent of the class of '69 drank at least once a month. It's less cool now. Only 45 percent of high school students say they tap the bottle.



(END VIDEO CLIP) COOPER: Sixty-seven's "The Graduate" made cigarettes sexy, and despite the first-ever surgeon general warnings, 36 percent of the class of '69 smoked on a daily basis. Only 22 percent of high school students light up today. But numbers are up for girls.

Marijuana was and still is the drug of choice for many young people. Twenty-one percent of the class of '69 tried pot. That number is nearly double today.

As for other top drugs, back then it was LSD and speed. Today it's inhalants and ecstasy, with more teens experimenting overall.

Suicide is up among young men today, while rates have stayed constant for young women. But there are more violent crime arrests for both sexes.

A generation of extremes. We've come a long way, baby. Or have we?


COOPER: We wanted to talk more about how today's teens differ from teens of the past. In Washington tonight, I'm joined by author Neil Howe. He's the coauthor of the book "Millennials Rising: The Next Generation."

Thanks very much for being with us, Neil.

How are teens today different? I mean, every generation always says, Oh, the kids today -- How are the kids today different than, say, you know, those who grew up in the '60s?

NEIL HOWE, CO-AUTHOR, "MILLENNIALS RISING": Well, it was a very different time. And I'm, and I was actually there. (UNINTELLIGIBLE) High school graduate in 1969, so I remember it well. Three events happened that summer, which is the Apollo 11 moon landing, Chappaquiddick, and Woodstock, all within about three or four weeks.

COOPER: But, but how are the kids...

HOWE: And...

COOPER: ... reacting today to, to, to the things that they see? I mean, they do have access to more stuff than ever before.

HOWE: Well, they have access to it, but the question is whether they're grasping for it. Today's kids are probably the first generation of teens in a long time who are not actively pushing the edge on the culture.

Back in 1969, we Boomers were pushing the edge. We were defying authority. We called it "the establishment" back then. We were inventing, you know, whole new ways of looking at the world. We were trying to tear down an America which seemed overly complacent, institutionally too strong. Today's kids are different. They're being raised by those Boomers now grown up. And some of the things we see among today's kids is an actual rebirth of teamwork, collective optimism about their future, and increased planning for their future is -- One thing that people say about today's kids is that they seemed a lot more programmed than kids 10 years ago.

COOPER: Well, how much, how much...

HOWE: ... (UNINTELLIGIBLE) -- Yes, go ahead.

COOPER: How much do you think is a reaction to what they saw of their parents? I mean, if their parents were grown up in the '60s and, you know, how (UNINTELLIGIBLE) -- you know, how much, how much are kids sort of reacting to that?

HOWE: I think a lot of it is reaction. A lot of it is partly parents actually deliberately raising kids not to be like them. You had President Clinton in the late 1990s going on national TV and said it would be great if every schoolchild wore a uniform, right? I mean, think about where we've come on that issue.

And I think that the rise of community service, you know, team teaching, team gradings, student juries, a lot of this team ethic is very important to these kids, and it's also the way they use technology...

COOPER: It's also interesting...

HOWE: ... in a very different way.

COOPER: It's also interesting that in the last 10 years or so, a lot of these numbers are -- have been dropping. I mean, in '95, there was a high on some of these, like, you know, teen sex and stuff, but now those numbers are actually coming down. What do you make of that?

HOWE: They are improving. And that's actually a big message of our book. And we'd like to say to a lot of parents and a lot of people, teens are doing a lot of things right, and they don't get enough credit for it.

Back in 1969, almost everything about teens was getting worse. You know, Boomers grew up during the period of the great decline in the SAT scores, a huge rise in, you know, drugs and suicide and risk taking, a lot of accidents. These kids are actually moving a lot of those trends in a favorable direction. They're not getting enough credit for it, particularly the decline in violent crime, if you've noted, particularly over the past 10 years has been quite dramatic.

COOPER: Yes, decline in drug use as well, alcohol use, all positive things.

HOWE: Yes, and -- and there's one other, one other thing that's important, and that is the increasing closeness between teens and their parents. There's a lot of indicators of this. The 1970s was a decade when no one wanted to live together. Retirees wanted to live separately, and kids wanted to get away from their parents' homes.

Today, we've never seen such high scores when you ask teens, do they get along with their parents, and would they like to live near their parents after...

COOPER: And that's, and...


COOPER: ... it's interesting, because that's also something you don't really see on movies and TV. We're going to leave it there, Neil, but it's a good note to end it on. Neil Howe, thank you very much.

HOWE: You're welcome.

COOPER: Tomorrow night, we continue our series, Too Much, Too Soon, with the secret sex lives of teens. Nearly half of all teens say they're having sex, but how old is too young?

Wednesday, the obsession over having the perfect body. Body image and the pill-popping phenomenon sweeping today's youth.

On Thursday, inside the lives of the young and rich, teens with a lot of green. They seem to have it all, except limits, perhaps.

And on Friday, developing too fast, puberty at the age of 7? Some experts are trying to figure out why some children are becoming adults too fast.

Not so fast. Iraq's new government backs off its amnesty deal with insurgents.

And a man, a bet, and 1 million pennies. What to do with $10,000 in copper coins.

360 continues.


COOPER: Is the interim Iraqi government on the verge of offering amnesty to the insurgents, including those who have attacked Americans? That story next on 360.


COOPER: In the next half hour on 360, the world's oldest profession trying to make a new start in California. We'll talk to a former prostitute about why she thinks it should be decriminalized. That story coming up. First, let's look at our top stories in "The Reset."

The Iraqi group claiming to have kidnapped Marine Corporal Wassef Hassoun now says he has been taken to a safe place. The Arabic news network al Jazeera says it received that information in a fax from Hassoun's alleged captors. Earlier reports said Hassoun had been killed.

Saddam Hussein's cousins may be helping with the insurgency in Iraq. American government officials tell the "New York Times" at least three of Saddam's exiled cousins have been smuggling guns, people and money into Iraq from Jordan and Syria.

Here in the states, Senator John Kerry's campaign is denying reports that the presidential hopeful has already picked a running mate. A Democratic official tells CNN, however, that he has made a decision and will announce it soon. There's speculation he may make the announcement tomorrow morning.

And in Namur, Belgium, Lance Armstrong played it safe today, protected by his US Postal teammates, Armstrong came in 85th place in a crash-filled second stage of the Tour de France. The finish dropped Armstrong to fourth place overall but kept him on pace to win his sixth straight title. That's a quick look at the top stories in "the Reset."

Well, the idea was startling. An amnesty of insurgents in Iraq. Tonight word that Iraq's new Prime Minister Iyad Allawi has indefinitely postponed the announcement of a partial amnesty deal that could cover as many as 5,000 insurgents. The question of whether to offer amnesty lies at the heart of a growing debate within Iraq, namely, how far should the interim government go to make peace with its enemies. The answer to this question is crucial to the future of Iraq and also the stuff of tonight's "Raw Politics."


COOPER (voice-over): This man, Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr has vowed to kick the U.S. and the U.S.-backed government out of Iraq. His army has battled U.S. forces for the past several months. Yet, this weekend, the Iraqi prime minister, Iyad Allawi, said that some food soldiers of al-Sadr's Mehdi Army could be forgiven as part of a larger amnesty granted to low level insurgents.

IYAD ALLAWI, IRAQI PRIME MINISTER: It depends really on what action, whether they will surrender the weapons or not, whether they'll practically dismantle the Jayhji(ph) Mahdi, once they do this, they are welcome.

COOPER: You may is ask why is the new Iraqi government welcoming anti-insurgents? Here is how a spokesman for the Iraqi prime minister explained the move.

"If a rebel was in opposition against the Americans, that will be justified because it was an occupation force. We will give them freedom," the spokesman said.

It is an Iraqi solution to an ongoing Iraqi problem. Unable to completely defeat the insurgency militarily, the new government is trying to find ways to drive a wedge between extremist foreign fighters, the one the new government calls hard-core criminals and Iraqis who simply chafed at the U.S.-led occupation. Some experts also say that amnesty is part of a larger strategy, as well, aimed at convincing the Iraqi people the new government is creditable.

KEN POLLACK, CNN ANALYST: They are look interesting to establish legitimacy in the eyes of their countrymen and they may only be able to do that by demonstrating their independence from the United States.

ALLAWI: We respect our relationship to the United States but we are purposed only(ph) to nobody.

COOPER: Showing you're not a puppet of the U.S. by offering amnesty to America's enemies, that is raw politics Iraqi style.


To talk more about Prime Minister Allawi's amnesty proposal, I'm joined from Washington by Mamoun Fandi, New York fellow at the U.S. Institute of Peace, and Salameh Nematt, Washington Bureau Chief of al- Hayat International Arab Daily and the Lebanese Broadcasting Company. Gentlemen, thank you for being with us tonight. Mamoun, let me start of with you. You actually support the idea of amnesty. Why?

MAMOUN FANDI, U.S. INSTITUTE FOR PEACE: Well, I think, you know, amnesty can be a two-edge sword but I think I support the idea amnesty if it were part of a larger package of security that deals with larger issues in Iraq. I mean...

COOPER: But support it because, there's the thinking it drives some sort of a wedge between the sort of hard-core foreign fighters and sort of Iraqi home-grown insurgents. Is that why?

FANDI: Absolutely, Anderson. The point is that Iyad Allawi has to appear in front of his people that he is legitimate and is he has the authority and he is not a puppet of the United States as your package showed. It's very important that the Iraqis know that he is calling the shots. And indeed, there are lots of people, whether it is in the Baath Party of Saddam Hussein or even the foot soldiers of the Mehdi Army, these are people doing this to facilitate their daily lives in Iraq. They are not--when they joined the Baath, they were not really hard-core ideologues. It's very important to separate the foreign firefighters from the locals who try to make a living.

COOPER: Well, Salameh, what about that? I know you don't support the idea of an amnesty. What about driving that wedge? Is that a no-go?

SALAMEH NEMATT, AL HAYAT: I don't think it makes any sense. The foreign terrorists who are joining the Iraqi so-called insurgents wouldn't have been able to join them is had they not been welcomed by these insurgents. These people are murderers. There is no political reference for these people who went around killing innocent civilians, including Iraqi policemen, including school buses, bombing foreigners, NGO representatives, the U.N. headquarters. These are not resistance against American occupation, these are terrorists trying to undermine the process of rebuilding Iraq and bringing in a transitional government towards elections. These are people who want to bring the situation in Iraq back to the way it was before the war and as such, they do not belong to a political party or a political movement that you can negotiate with. I think the policy of appeasement can be catastrophic in this sense.

COOPER: Mahmoud, is this appeasement?

FANDI: I don't think this is appeasement. This runs against the facts, Anderson because basically Mofak Arabi(ph) the national security adviser for Iraq pointed out that this is a process that's very carefully thought out. It's a 12-point package that's going to be announced at the end of the week. He pointed that in Baghdad today and it's going to balance the issue of freedom and security and will expand the powers of Iyad Allawi and his government. It will allow them to garner support within the Iraqi street and it will balance the idea of the basic condition that was delayed because it did not have enough human rights guarantees and did not have enough authority for Allawi to do preemptive strikes and also to capture and arrest and it will allow the courts to be open all days of the week to process these things.

COOPER: Let me let Salameh get the final word, here. The facts they're backing off this now, what do you make of that.

NEMATT: I think basically there are splits within the Iraqi government. There is a Shiite group, a predominant Shiite group in the government that does not support this step. The Kurds also would not want to have the Baathists and the other Sunni extremist elements that have been carrying out these terrorist attacks to be forgiven because it means encouraging others to do the same. I think what is happening, what those who are probably being considered for an amnesty are not resistance. They are not legitimate resistance because there is not a single legitimate party in Iraq apart from the Baath Party, which was destroyed with the fall of Saddam Hussein. Nobody is really labeling these people as resistance people. These are terrorists and the overwhelming majority of the Iraqi people did not want this kind of resistance that is killing so many innocent people, including whether they're contractors or NGOs. This situation does not apply and I think if you go down that road, then where do you draw the line? Maybe we should forgive all the Saddam Hussein's aides who were paraded at the court the other day.

COOPER: Well, we'll see where this thing ends, where they're going to go with it. Salameh Nematt, thank you so much for joining us, also Mamoun Fandi. A really interesting discussion. Thank you.

Today's buzz is this: What do you think? Do you think it is a good idea to offer amnesty to Iraqi insurgents. Log on to, cast your vote. Results at the end of the program tonight. A controversial stun gun used by thousands of police departments is about to make its mass market debut. Taser International will put a consumer version of its weapon on sale to the general public. Now, the company claims that the weapon is the safest non-lethal self-defense device you can buy but its use is also associated with more than 50 deaths of people in police custody. CNN's Drew Griffin has more.


DREW GRIFFIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is what it looks like when a Florida sheriff uses a Taser gun on himself. Designed to stop an attacker dead in his tracks without leaving him dead. The electric shock Taser delivers a sudden burst of 50,000 volts. It freezes skeletal muscles, collapsing a suspect long enough for police to gain control. It is why more than 4,000 police agencies in North America use it. It is also why, according to Teresa Samuel King, her 28-year-old nephew Melvin is dead.

Do you think that Taser killed him?

TERESA SAMUEL KING, AUNT OF MELVIN SAMUEL: Yes. And I feel like the Taser originally was not supposed to be used to be lethal. And I feel like now it is.

GRIFFIN : What led to Melvin Samuel's death started way call for help to police. On April 15th, Samuel returned to his home in Savannah, Georgia and thought he saw evidence of a break-in. So he asked neighbors to call 911. Hours after Melvin Samuel called police, he found himself locked up in Georgia's Houston County Jail. It turns out there was a warrant for his arrest for and you paid driving ticket. It was a minor offense. But for some reason, jailers say Samuel became uncooperative and when they tried to book him, a struggle broke out and then a Taser.

An autopsy could not find an official cause of his death. Results of toxicology tests on Samuel's body are still weeks away. In the state of Georgia, four suspects have died since December after having been Tased. Nationwide, since police started using the Taser, more than 50 people have died after the gun was used on them. Medical examiners have blamed the deaths on a variety of causes, including heart disease and drug overdose. But none has determined the Taser to be the cause of death. Taser International, the company that makes the guns, says their own testing shows the gun is safe and there is no evidence it is to blame in any of the deaths.

RICK SMITH, TASER INTERNATIONAL: I think the best medical study is that the independent medical examiners who have looked at every one of these cases where a Taser was used and somebody later died and they have never found a case where the Taser caused the death, never.

GRIFFIN: Dr. John Beshai is a cardiologist who special lies in using electroshock to control heart rhythms and says the shock from the Taser should not affect the heart.

DR. JOHN BESHAI, ELECTROCARDIOLOGIST: The reality of it is that the actual energy that's delivered to the surface of the skin is very, very minimal and not enough to cause any irritability in the heart's rhythm.

GRIFFIN: Taser International says there is evidence to suggest the gun has saved lives by giving police an alternative to using firearms. Melvin Samuel died minutes after being struck by a Taser. It has now been two months since his death. And medical examiners still haven't determined why. His aunt says she already knows. And wants it never to happen again.

KING: I believe that every time you use it, the individual may not die. But then there are some cases where the person can die. And that is the situation that we're dealing with.

GRIFFIN: Drew Griffin, CNN, Atlanta.


COOPER: Coming up next on 360, the push for decriminalizing prostitution in a California town. We'll talk to a former prostitute with ties to the effort.

Also, tonight, one man, one bet, one million pennies. If you think your garage has a lot of stuff in it, the trouble he has-the guy can't get rid of these is the bottom line. We'll talk about that ahead.


COOPER: Well, come November, residents of Berkeley, California, will be able to vote on whether or not to decriminalize prostitution. Proponents say it is a health issue, not a criminal issue. Joining me now is Robyn Few, a former prostitute whose organization, Sex Workers Outreach Project sponsored the initiative. Robyn, thanks for being with us tonight. What's the difference in your opinion between decriminalizing it and legalizing it? You don't want prostitution legalized, you want it decriminalized.

ROBYN FEW, SEX WORKERS OUTREACH PROJECT: We want to repeal the laws against prostitution. What we feel is that the criminalization of prostitution is harmful to women and children. It promotes violence against women and it also -- we waste billions of tax dollars trying to abate prostitution.

COOPER: But there are those who argue that prostitution itself is debasing of women and harmful to women. You don't see it that way, I suppose?

FEW: Well, you know, whether we argue it or not, prostitution is going to exist. And what's really harming women is the criminalization of it and women arguing against the rights of all women to have the equal rights and equal protection under the law. This is a health and safety issue. And when we start looking at it like this and quit trying to enforce these discriminating laws that target women, then we will be able to maybe end some of the discrimination.

COOPER: So, just so I'm understanding this, decriminalizing prostitution would mean what, police don't arrest prostitutes if they find them, they don't go after those who visit prostitutes, there would just be no law enforcement component toward prostitution at all?

FEW: No, I don't believe that's true. If we repeal the laws against prostitution, we can still enforce loitering, public nuisance laws. There are always laws that will be enforced. What will help-- we will be able to, if we can start focusing more on child prostitution and enforcing--trying to help children, not enforcing the criminalization, but trying to help children who have found themselves in prostitution trying to help them get out of prostitution, we look for traffickers instead of trying to enforce laws against the most marginalized women in our community.

COOPER: I still don't quite understand. I'm sorry to be so dense on this but what do you get by decriminalizing it? I mean, what's the benefit?

You say it doesn't, you know, hurt children, doesn't hurt women. What exactly does that mean?

FEW: The decriminalization of prostitution will empower the worker. It will empower the women and men to come forward, to seek police protection if they have been raped or robbed, abused. It would encourage them to come and seek health care services, which is one thing that most people right now out of shame and isolation, they don't.

COOPER: So, in essence, you're arguing it removes the stigma.

FEW: Yes, we're trying to remove the stigma.

COOPER: That I understand. Robyn Few, I appreciate you joining us. Thanks very much.

FEW: Thank you.

COOPER: This will be on the ballot in Berkeley, we'll see what happens. A fast fact so far this year Berkeley police say they have arrested 49 people on prostitution-related charges.

Well, still to come on 360 tonight the man with a million pennies. There he is right there. We're going to ask him why he has so many and why he can't actually get rid of them. We'll be right back.


COOPER: Well, you may be able to trade pennies from heaven for a package of sunshine and flowers, but it can be harder to trade in pennies from a garage, especially if you have more than 3.5 tons of them. 30 years ago, Ron England made a bet with his brother that he could save 1 million pennies. He succeeded, but now as he packing to move from his California home, he's having trouble cashing them in. Ron England joins us now from on top of his penny pile in Granada Hills, California. Ron, thanks for being with us. You're actually sitting on your pennies. What, a bank won't take them? You've been trying to get rid of them for like a week now, what's the problem?

RON ENGLAND, TRYING TO CASH IN 1 MILLION PENNIES: The bank wants to charge me to return the pennies, so that's not going to work.

COOPER: They want to charge you for the bother of returning the pennies? How did you start collecting all these pennies. I know it was in 1974 on a bet with your brother. How did the bet come about.

ENGLAND: Well, my brother is an engineer and he's into numbers. So we were talking about numbers one day and he was mentioning what a large number what a million is and people don't understand what a huge number that is. I said that if I wanted to collect a million somethings, I could do it. And we settled on pennies.

COOPER: What did you bet.

ENGLAND: He's supposed to take me to Paris for dinner.

COOPER: Okay. Now, how long has it taken you to collect all these pennies and how did you go about it? Did you find them on the street? Did you actually try to buy them all?

ENGLAND: At first I was collecting them myself and then people started collecting them for me. It took four years to save the million pennies.

COOPER: What's going to happen?

ENGLAND: Towards the end...

COOPER: What's going to happen now? I know you've been getting a lot of publicity about this. Sometimes publicity has ways of changing the story. Has any bank come forward saying they would help you out?

ENGLAND: My credit union has offered to buy them. There's been a couple of corporations that are interested and maybe we can give them to charity. We'll see what happens.

COOPER: So Ron, what are you going to do? $10,000 if you get all that for your pennies if you don't actually have to pay somebody to take them away from you, what are you going to do with the money?

ENGLAND: I'm going to buy a John Deere tractor.

COOPER: Why a John Deere tractor? Why that?

ENGLAND: Well, I'm a city boy and I'm going to the country and all my friends in Oregon are telling me that I need a John Deere tractor. So that's where the money's going to go.

COOPER: Ron, do you know how to farm? Have you ever been on a John Deere tractor? Do you know how to farm?

ENGLAND: I can figure it out.

COOPER: It's a lot different than sitting on pennies.

ENGLAND: Well, that's true, that's true.

COOPER: Well, good luck to you, Ron, and I hope someone takes the pennies from you. I'm sure someone will after seeing all the publicity you've been getting. Ron England, thanks very much.

ENGLAND: It was nice talking to you.

COOPER: Alright, good talking to you. Next on 360, fireworks American style versus Iraqi style. We'll take that to the "Nth degree" and tomorrow on 360, the secret sex lives of teens. How old is too young? Part of our special series, "Too Much, Too Soon." First today's "Buzz," still have some moments to get in on it. Do you think it's a good idea to offer amnesty to Iraqi insurgents? Log on to Cast your vote. We'll have results when we come back.


COOPER: Time for the "Buzz." Earlier we asked you "Do you think it's a good idea to offer amnesty to Iraqi insurgents?" 35 percent of you said "Yes" 65 percent of you said "No." Not a scientific poll, but it is your "Buzz."

Tonight, fireworks to the "Nth Degree." I left Iraq on Friday. That morning, terrorists loaded up a truck with rockets and fired them toward the building where I was staying. It wasn't exactly the wakeup call I expected. 24 hours later I was back here, home, safe, watching a local fireworks display. It turns out the sounds are actually pretty similar. A small town's fireworks exploding in air and the dull thud of mortars landing on Baghdad streets. All around me this weekend, families gathered, necks craned, oohing and aahing at the rocket's red glare, the bombs bursting in air. In Iraq, of course, there are no oohs and aahs, no wide-eyed wonderment. In Iraq the impacts are real, bone-shattering, life-ending. It is a remarkable thing to live in this land where bombs and explosions seem so distant, so pretty. Let's hope next year in Iraq July 4th is a quiet weekend and those men and women serving there now are back here home, safe, holding their sons and daughters, oohing and aahing at the rockets red glare, the bombs bursting in air.

Thanks for watching 360 tonight. Coming up next, "PAULA ZAHN NOW."


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