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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES

U.S. Deaths in Iraq Reach 1000; Bush & Kerry Step Up Verbal Attacks on Campaign Trail

Aired September 7, 2004 - 19:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


ANDERSON COOPER, HOST: Good evening from New York. I'm Anderson Cooper.
A school gym packed with hostages and explosives, and terrorists with guns, grenades, and a video camera.

360 starts now.

A horrific glimpse inside the Russian school held hostage. A new tape shows the bombs, the terrorists, and the children they murdered.

U.S. deaths in Iraq reach 1,000. And new clashes break out between U.S. troops and Muqtada al-Sadr's militia.

Bush and Kerry step up their verbal attacks on the campaign trail. But how does each candidate do on the likability test?

Six bodies dumped in the same neighborhood. Do Kansas City police have a serial killer on the loose?

And Scott Peterson's father to take the stand. But why did the prosecution's witness give the defense a big boost?

And she's frank, funny, and back on the road. We'll go 360 with the incomparable Bette Midler.

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

COOPER: Good evening.

What we're about to show you is something very like a home movie from hell, video shot inside Middle School Number One in Beslan during the siege before the awful end. Most terrible of all is that the people you will be seeing have no idea what is to come, but we do.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER (voice-over): The tape doesn't last long. But the memories of what it shows will last a lifetime.

Inside the gymnasium, some 1,000 children, parents, and teachers forced to sit shoulder to shoulder, herded together on the first day of school.

The room was stifling. Terrorists destroyed the water taps, and thirsty hostages began drinking their own urine.

Over their heads, dangling from wires, a bomb. More explosives stored in the basketball net.

A young boy, his hands behind his head, sits next to an explosive device. A masked killer points to his foot, poised on the trigger.

We glimpse a child's foot, a streak of blood. There has been killing already, and many more in this room, on this tape, will soon be dead.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Well, we're going to have more on the tape. You surely remember what you felt, what the country felt, three years ago this coming Saturday, the grief, the anger, the frustration, the recurring hope that it hadn't really happened after all, that it must have been a nightmare.

So it seems just now in Russia, from the man in the street to the man in the Kremlin.

CNN's Jill Dougherty reports on a nation's struggle and a leader's to respond.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In Moscow Tuesday, a massive rally against terrorism, organized by a progovernment trade union.

The signs say it all. "Putin, we're with you." "Hands off our kids." And "Bring the killers to justice."

"I never imagined people could do such a thing," this school principal says, "exterminate children. It is terrifying. Something horrible is happening in our country."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): They spit in our face. And I'm here to say, I won't permit you to demean me or my country.

DOUGHERTY: In the Kremlin, President Vladimir Putin is angry too, telling visiting foreign policy experts the West has a double standard on terrorism, demanding Russia negotiate with Chechen separatists, who Mr. Putin considers terrorists.

"Why don't you meet with Osama bin Laden?" he says. "Invite him to Brussels or to the White House and engage in talks? Ask him what he wants, and give it to him, so he leaves you in peace. You find it possible to set some limits on your dealings with these bastards, so why should we talk with people who are child killers?"

But one participant in that meeting tells CNN the Russian president was blunt.

EILEEN O'CONNOR, INTERNATIONAL CENTER FOR JOURNALISTS: So what he's basically saying to the United States is, Look, don't play any more games, don't call these people freedom fighters, don't call them rebels, call them terrorists, just like you called bin Laden a terrorist.

DOUGHERTY: Mr. Putin also charges some U.S. officials are undermining Russia's war on terrorism by having contact with Chechen separatists.

RICHARD BOUCHER, STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESMAN: The United States has met with people in -- from Chechnya who have differing points of view, including points of view that differ from the Russian government. But we don't meet with terrorists. We don't meet with people who are involved in violence or fomenting violence.

DOUGHERTY: Meanwhile, in Beslan, Russia, an unending series of funerals, children buried with their favorite toys.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

DOUGHERTY: So President Putin says that his government will be carrying out an internal investigation of this (UNINTELLIGIBLE) hostage massacre. But he says the results will not be made public. And in his view, according to him, he says that parliamentary probe could turn into a political show, Anderson.

COOPER: Jill Doherty, live from Moscow, thanks very much. We're going to check in with Jill a little bit later on, and we're going to take a close look at that tape to see what kind of clues, what we can learn about the terrorists and how they operate. That later on 360.

In Iraq, add this particularly bad day, four American soldiers killed in Baghdad, to yesterday, which was worse, 11 deaths around the country, seven all at once in a suicide bombing in Fallujah.

Then add yesterday to all the other yesterdays, and the number of Americans who have lost their lives in Iraq hit 1,000 earlier today. Since then, two more deaths have been reported, bringing the total to 1,002.

Here is CNN's Diana Muriel.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DIANA MURIEL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Taking on the Americans, militiamen armed with rocket-propelled grenades and assault rifles take up their positions. Hours of running battles with American forces in the sprawling northeastern Baghdad suburb of Sadr City have left dozens of Iraqi civilians dead and more than 200 wounded, according to the Iraqi ministry of health.

The Americans taking losses too.

Violence flared after peace talks between local community leaders and U.S. and Iraqi authorities stalled. Fresh from fighting American forces in a three-week battle in Najaf, many of these militiamen are members of the so-called Mahdi Army, loyal to renegade cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, with their base in Sadr City.

But nowhere in Baghdad can be considered safe. Half an hour's drive from Sadr City, this was the scene Tuesday morning, after the city governor's convoy was attacked. First an explosion, then gunmen raked the vehicles with bullets, according to eyewitnesses, the governor escaping unhurt, but three of his bodyguards were injured.

Westerners too are targets. Gunmen in central Baghdad kidnapped two Italian female aid workers in broad daylight Tuesday. The two women, Simone Apari (ph) and Simona Toretta (ph), both aged 29, are employed by Bridge to Baghdad, a UNICEF-linked project helping to rebuild schools.

(on camera): The already strained security situation then ratcheting up yet another notch here in Iraq, insurgents not limiting their attacks to U.S. forces. Civilians both Iraqi and Westerners, it seems, are in ever-increasing danger.

Diana Muriel, CNN, Baghdad.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Well, Iraq was a very big theme on the campaign trail today, but one that struck two very different chords from the candidates. John Kerry called President Bush's handling of Iraq, quote, "catastrophic." But the president says the senator is once again flip-flopping on the issue.

White House correspondent Dana Bash is with the president in Columbus, Missouri.

We begin, however, with senior political correspondent Candy Crowley with the Kerry campaign in Cincinnati. Candy?

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, When the Kerry campaign arrived here in Ohio, the senator offered his condolences for what he called this tragic milestone of the 1,000 U.S. military deaths in Iraq. He expressed his sadness to the families.

But he also said the U.S. would never forget the sacrifices these 1,000 men and women have made in the name of freedom in the war against terror.

It is an interesting choice of words for Kerry, who has spent the last 48 hours calling the war in Iraq the worst of the wrong choices of the Bush administration.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CROWLEY (voice-over): Hoping to break an August slump, Kerry strategists promised a campaign on offense, more aggressive, more focused, a new attitude they hope to project under a new catchphrase.

SEN. JOHN KERRY, DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: I think this whole thing does come down to one letter, George W. Bush. W stands for wrong -- wrong directions, wrong choices. And it is time to put it right.

CROWLEY: It is a one-phrase-fits-all speech device. It works on the deficit.

KERRY: He had $5.6 trillion of surplus, right? He made a choice about what to do with that. A lot of us made a different choice. I voted against his plan. I thought his was the wrong choice.

CROWLEY: It works on a variety of things. W, Kerry argues, means wrong on the environment, wrong on jobs, wrong on tax cuts, and the mother of all wrongs, the wrong war in the wrong place at the wrong time.

KERRY: And I will tell you that of all the wrong choices, of all the wrong choices that President Bush has made, the most catastrophic choice is the mess that he has made in Iraq.

CROWLEY: Hoping to focus on domestic issues, Kerry has embraced the war not so much as a foreign policy issue, but a domestic one.

KERRY: I say to everybody in North Carolina, that's $200 billion that we're not investing in health care in America. That's $200 billion we're not investing in schools in America. That's $200 billion that we're not investing in prescription drugs for seniors.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CROWLEY: Anderson, tomorrow we'll see more of Senator Kerry walking this fine line between criticizing the war and hailing those he says are fighting the war on terror in the cause of freedom. He will be giving a speech here in Cincinnati, in the same place that George Bush gave his speech in October of 2000 when he was making his case for the war in Iraq, Anderson.

COOPER: A difficult line to walk. Candy Crowley, thanks very much, from Cincinnati.

On the day the U.S. death toll passed 1,000 in Iraq, the president went on a blistering attack on Kerry's position on the war. Today, for the eighth time this year, he campaigned in Missouri. He wasted no time accusing his rival of changing colors once again on the issue.

White House correspondent Dana Bash is with the Bush campaign.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DANA BASH, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The president kicked off his Show Me State bus tour still milking what he calls yet another shift on Iraq by his opponent, this one borrowed.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And this one is not even his own. It is that of his one-time rival, Howard Dean. He even used the same words Howard Dean did, back when he supposedly disagreed with him.

BASH: At issue, this from a Kerry their Labor Day Q&A session.

KERRY: It's the wrong war in the wrong place at the wrong time.

BASH: Bush aides unearthed a Democratic primary debate 16 months ago, when that was a Dean line.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HOWARD DEAN (D-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: But I think this was the wrong war at the wrong time...

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BASH: And Kerry said he would have pushed diplomacy more. But...

KERRY: When the president made the decision, I supported him, and I support the fact that we did disarm him.

BASH: Bush aides hope linking Kerry to left-leaning Howard Dean will alienate swing voters. And it gives the president what his campaign is in constant search of, new bullets for his Kerry's too indecisive to lead attack line, one the vice president took to a new, more ominous level Tuesday about danger he suggested a Kerry presidency could bring.

DICK CHENEY, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It's absolutely essential that eight weeks from today, on November 2, we make the right choice. Because if we make the wrong choice, then the danger is that we'll get hit again, that we'll be hit in a way that will be devastating from the standpoint of the United States, and...

BASH: The Kerry camp calls that fear mongering and insists his Iraq position hasn't changed. He thinks the president rushed in without enough allies or a plan for peace.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BASH: But Iraq is still very much a political wild card. Case in point, of course, the fact that the American death toll reached the 1,000 mark today. The president's spokesman says he's saddened by that, but that Iraq is still necessary in the war on terrorism, especially given what happened on 9/11. And Anderson, the Kerry campaign says making that link is entirely misleading, Anderson.

COOPER: All right, Dana Bash, thanks very much, from Missouri tonight.

America's weighed in on the Bush daughters' famous or, depending how you look at it, infamous performance at the Republican National Convention.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She thinks "Sex in the City" is something married people do but never talk about. (END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Well, here is a quick news note for you. A new CNN-"USA Today"-Gallup poll taken after the convention now shows that 49 percent of Americans think the twins are a breath of fresh air, 19 percent think they're an embarrassment to the president.

Well, renewed concerns about terrorism top our look at what's happening across the country cross-country tonight.

Washington, the U.S. may be hit soon. In a major speech marking the third anniversary of 9/11, Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge said terrorists are still targeting this year's elections. He cited "consistent and credible intelligence," his words.

Southern U.S., Frances move inland and claims more lives. The storm has killed at least two people in Georgia, one in South Carolina after taking at least 10 lives in Florida. Now, Hurricane Ivan, which is now targeting the eastern Caribbean, may hit the Sunshine State next weekend. But new projections say it could also head to the Gulf of Mexico instead.

In America's cities, stuck on the highway. The Texas Transportation Institute says that traffic jams have worsened considerably even in small and medium-sized cities. In the 85 biggest U.S. cities, traffic jams have cost travelers 3.5 billion hours a year. Los Angeles still has the most gridlock.

Above the Utah desert now, waiting to catch some sun. Tomorrow, two helicopters will capture a returning space capsule from the Genesis mission launched three years ago. It had collected bits from the sun's solar wind, which may provide clues as to how sun and planets were formed.

That's a look at stories cross-country for you tonight.

On the road to recovery, an update on former president Bill Clinton's condition after quadruple heart bypass surgery. We're going to have a live report from the hospital coming up next.

Plus, Kansas City killings. Six unsolved murders, police believe one person is responsible. What is going on in Kansas City? A former FBI profiler weighs in on the case.

Then later on, terror on tape, more on that just disturbing video from inside the Russian school siege. We're going to analyze the tape, see what we can learn from it about exactly how the terrorists operated.

All that ahead. First, let's take a look at your picks, the most popular stories on CNN.com right now.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Well, former president Bill Clinton may have been just weeks away from having a major heart attack. That is according to his doctors, who say today he is doing just fine after undergoing quadruple bypass surgery. The former president is said to be talking, sitting up, and breathing on his own.

CNN senior medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta joins us from New York Presbyterian Hospital with more on Clinton's recovery.

Sanjay, how is he doing?

SANJAY GUPTA, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Good evening, Anderson.

He's doing very well. He's actually taking some liquids even now, still in the intensive care unit, but he may be moving out of that even later on tonight.

We got some indicators that he was doing well when we saw his daughter, Chelsea Clinton, actually leaving the hospital a few hours ago. That was a good sign. His wife, Senator Clinton, as well, involved with 9/11 commission work as well. So things sort of getting back to normal for the Clinton family.

A lot of discussion today, Anderson, about the type of operation that he had. Many people, though, know this, but the bypass surgery operation can actually be done while the heart is still beating. Or it is done when the heart stopped. The doctors had to choose. I asked them about that. This is what they had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. CRAIG SMITH, FORMER PRESIDENT CLINTON'S SURGEON: When I saw the heart and could actually look at the specific nature of the branches that I was going bypass, I decided that it was going to be better, safer, easier to do it with the heart stopped, which is not the way I usually do it. I do about 80 percent of these procedures without stopping the heart. And I went into this operation expecting that he would probably fall in the 80 percent.

But the reason there is that 20 percent is that not everybody is perfect for that approach. So in my judgment, that was going to give him the best guarantee of a good long-term outcome.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GUPTA: And so that was the story of the decision-making there, a little sneak peek behind the curtain.

Either way, Anderson, the president is doing very well. He should recover, probably be out of the hospital by the end of the week, Anderson.

COOPER: And that is good news indeed. Thanks, Sanjay.

More deaths and destruction from floods in China tops our look at what is happening around the world right now, the uplink.

At least 120 people are dead, nearly 90 others missing, in southwestern China after torrential rains and mud slides. Look at that, unbelievable. Mud slides, they washed away homes and roads. More than 5,000 military personnel are helping trapped residents and delivering emergency supplies, and they need a lot of supplies.

Kabul, Afghanistan, now, presidential campaign kicks off. It is 30 days and counting until Afghans hold their first democratic election after the fall of the Taliban. The man at the podium, interim leader Hamid Karzai, is considered the favorite, of course. But he's up against 17 other candidates.

Cumbria, England, now, history unearthed. Today archaeologists excavated the graves of six Viking men and women and found swords, jewelry, and other items. The site is believed to date back to the 10th century and was discovered in March by, get this, a guy with a metal detector.

That's a quick look at tonight's uplink.

Back to the presidential race here in the U.S. I'm sure you put a lot of practical thought into choosing your favorite candidate. Of course, we all hope we all do. For example, today on the campaign trail in Missouri, you might have preferred George W. Bush's tough talk on Iraq, or in North Carolina, John Kerry's calls for economic reform.

But there is something else, something less tangible, that helps drive our decision-making process. Right or wrong, it is the raw politics of likability.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER (voice-over): Call it the political It factor. Bill Clinton has It.

FORMER PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON: Strength and wisdom are not opposing values.

COOPER: So does George W. Bush.

BUSH: Some folks look at me and see a certain swagger, which in Texas is called walking.

COLLINS: Ronald Reagan could have bottled it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RONALD WILSON REAGAN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Go out there and win one for the Gipper.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Despite their detractors, doggone it, people like them.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And I think you're hot!

COOPER: Which is not to say that John Kerry isn't likable. In the latest CNN-"USA Today"-Gallup poll, his favorable ratings stand at 53 percent, to the president's 55 percent. It's just that, well, they like his running mate more. John Edwards' favorable rating is 56 percent. Vice President Dick Cheney's favorable rating is only 48 percent.

CHENEY: I've got news for Senator Kerry.

COOPER: But then, it's not easy to like someone frequently referred to as his party's attack dog.

Some candidates start out likable, then lose their likability with one aggressive act.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. RICK LAZIO (R), NEW YORK SENATE CANDIDATE: I'm asking you to sign it.

HILLARY CLINTON (D), NEW YORK SENATE CANDIDATE: Well, I would be happy...

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Remember Republican Rick Lazio? The one-time congressman ran against Hillary Rodham Clinton in the 2000 race for the New York Senate. But all his charm and his boyish good looks couldn't save him from this blunder.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LAZIO: I'm for it. I haven't done it. You've begun violating it. Why don't you stand up and do something important for America?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: He was roundly criticized for bullying and lost the race by 53 to 45 percent. Likability can help make up for a multitude of mistakes.

GOV. ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER (R), CALIFORNIA: ... sounded more like a breath of fresh air.

COOPER: The affable Arnold Schwarzenegger sailed into the California governor's office in March despite all those allegations of sexual misconduct.

We can be pretty certain that voters will consider the important issues when they cast their ballots in November. But in the end, elections can be won or lost by the raw politics of likability.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Well, today's buzz is this. Which story do you think deserves more coverage, Iraq, or the U.S. economy? Log on to CNN.com/360, cast your vote. That's how it works. Then results at the end of the show. And Coming up next on 360, six murders in an 18-block area in Kansas City, Missouri. I'll talk with an FBI profiler about the unsolved killings.

Plus, the Scott Peterson murder trial. What pliers, a boat, and a pickup truck have to do with the case, tonight in justice served.

And a little later, 360 with entertainer Bette Midler. She talks about her new concert tour and even Rush Limbaugh.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Well, we don't know how he's operating or who he is, but we know one thing for sure, there is a killer stalking Kansas City, Missouri. Since July, six people have been murdered, police believe by one person. Now, all were found in the same downtown area, their bodies lying in vacant lots or near empty apartments.

The four victims that could be identified were female, African- American, between the ages of 25 and 45, and engaged in what police called risky lifestyles. The other two are so badly decomposed, police haven't yet been able to identify them.

Three of the bodies were discovered following a tip from a 911 caller. To catch the killer, police are now turning to the FBI.

Tonight we turn to (UNINTELLIGIBLE) Candice Delong, a former FBI profile, profiler, and author of the book "Special Agent."

Candice, thanks very much for being with us tonight.

CANDICE DELONG, FORMER FBI PROFILER: You're welcome.

COOPER: What jumps out to you about these killers, killings?

DELONG: That someone is calling 911 and reporting where the bodies are, very likely the killer or somebody working with the killer. That's an interesting thing. We don't often see that.

COOPER: Why would -- I mean, if it is the killer, why would the killer be calling 911 for?

DELONG: Well, it could be a variety of reasons. Sometimes killers notify 911 or the police anonymously to let them know where a body is because they feel guilty about what they did, and they want the body found.

More often, serial killers contact the police because they want to taunt them, they want the police to know what they do. Sometimes they do it because they know the media will get ahold of it, and that's what they want. They want to be recognized for their crime. They don't want to be identified and caught. So don't confuse those.

COOPER: I talked to the captain in charge of this the other -- (UNINTELLIGIBLE) -- last night, who said that, I mean, they're not using the term serial killer yet. You did. What, do you think this is a serial killer?

DELONG: Well, I only use the term because what we're talking about, six people, probably all women, killed in a short amount of time, I'm imagining not all together, that these six women weren't the victim of a -- victims of a mass murderer, and the police have said they believe it is the same individual. So it is really just a term. It doesn't matter. Someone's killing women.

COOPER: And all between, I mean, a certain age, four of the six so far that have been identified African-American. What do you make of that? And, and, and as the police say, involved in risky lifestyles. I'm not sure exactly what that means, I assume it means some sort of drugs or prostitution, I'm not sure.

DELONG: Drugs or prostitution or both. Possibly if they are drug-addicted prostitutes, then they are walking the streets, and they would be getting in cars to complete the deal with the customer. And once they get in a car, they are at his mercy.

COOPER: I mean, we've heard of other serial killers who have targeted sort of people who live on the fringes, women. I, there's one in Canada. Is it that they're targeting those people because there are not many people looking out for them, no one will notice them missing? Or is it something about what they're doing that makes them the target?

DELONG: Could be both. Sometimes a killer will target streetwalking prostitutes because it is likely that no one will report them missing. They're an easy victim to get to go with them, as I mentioned. They've got to get in the car to consummate the deal.

Sometimes serial killers will go for prostitutes because, in their mind, they figure they're doing the world a favor by getting rid of them, and they don't feel guilty about what they do if they feel they're not taking, for example, a Bible school teacher away from the world.

COOPER: Well, it's sickening crimes, and police are obviously looking at it with the FBI.

Candice Delong, thanks for joining us.

DELONG: You're welcome.

COOPER: A horrific glimpse inside the Russian school held hostage. A new tape shows the bombs, the terrorists, and the children they murdered.

Scott Peterson's father to take the stand. But why did the prosecution's witness give the defense a big boost?

And she's frank, funny, and back on the road. We'll go 360 with the incomparable Bette Midler.

360 continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Back to our top story tonight, the chilling video taken inside the Beslan Middle School Number 1. The scene inside the school has been described in horrific detail by those that survived the carnage but seeing it for the first time gives one the true sense of how bad the conditions were and why so many died so quickly. Hundreds of men, women and children crowded in the gym of the school, shoulder to shoulder, so close together they couldn't stretch out their legs.

The video is shaky, almost frantic. The terrorists we see go about their diabolical work with an almost routine efficiency. They wire explosive charges, hang them from basketball hoops in the ceiling. One terrorist stands on an apparent detonation switch. Blood already stains the floor. Possibly from one or more of the hostages killed early in the siege.

We don't know the names of the people you see in the tape, nor do we know if they lived or died. What we do know is that in this room, when explosions and fire began last Friday, many innocent men, women and children were murdered. Their only crime trying to go to school.

If you look closely at this tape and at the terrorists, there are clues and hints about how they work. The Chechen fighters who planned this operation and it is clear now it was very well planned indeed learned some lessons from past terrorist attacks in Russia. And the lessons they learned led to many innocent people dying.

With a look at what we can learn from this tape, I'm joined by CNN military intelligence analyst Ken Robinson in Washington and in Moscow by bureau chief Jill Dougherty. Appreciate both of you taking the time to join us tonight.

Ken, I want to play for us a clip from this video, one of the hostage takers standing over what looks like some sort of battery looking device. Let's take a look at this. What is going on here?

KEN ROBINSON, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Well, what they've done is it apparently looks like a ring main device which is designed to loop in together all of the different explosive devices into one controlled area so that they can be controlled and detonated simultaneously.

COOPER: And Jill, I want to show you this other piece of tape. We see a series of wires dangling from the air that have been strung up across the gymnasium and across the basketball net. And explosive devices placed on them. What is the purpose of the setup?

JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN MOSCOW BUREAU CHIEF: That's a crucial one, Anderson because that may be the explosion that actually took place that started the fire and then brought down the ceiling. There is a theory that that might have been jarred because as you see, there are some cables, some wires coming down from it that were very close to the floor. And somebody might have hit that. That is still a theory. They don't know. But that could have happened.

COOPER: There is this other video, Ken, I want to talk about. You see this twice. A terrorist standing with his foot on -- there it is -- what looks like a pedal. Is that a trigger of some sort?

ROBINSON: It apparently looks like a pressure device. It looks like a device that if the individual is shot or if he falls off of that device, then it completes a circuit. We don't know for sure. But it apparently looks like that because this tape looks like it was prepared as a way to deter hostage rescue forces by letting them know that this site is hardened.

COOPER: And, Ken, they seemed very well trained. They seemed to know the school very well. This operation was well planned.

ROBINSON: Well, it was well planned I believe for its ultimate end state which is what played out regardless which was high casualties, high body count. This group is historically itching for a larger fight and that's a fight in the caucuses.

COOPER: Jill, it also seems that they learned from the siege that they did in Moscow of the theater. My understanding one of the first things they did was they took people's cell phones away which was something that was used in the siege by hostages to relay what was going on. They also broke windows so tear gas couldn't be used.

DOUGHERTY: Yes, exactly. And they came apparently with sniffer dogs so that they would be prepared to tell whether anything was amiss. They came with gas masks. They were prepared for that. And then one of the most interesting thing is that the investigators believed that a lot of this explosive material as well as the weapons were brought in way in advance and that they were probably involved in some renovation over the summer and then they surreptitiously brought that stuff in. They said they had way too much compared to what they could have brought in that very day, September 1.

COOPER: The other question, of course, which is going to be examined in the days and weeks to come, of course, is how did these guys get to travel around Russia so freely, get to go to that school? It's the same question that was asked after the Moscow theater blast. No real answers on that yet. Ken Robinson, Jill Dougherty, appreciate you joining us. Thanks.

ROBINSON: Thank you.

COOPER: Coming up next on 360, trouble for prosecutors in the Scott Peterson case. Surprising testimony from a forensic expert. That ahead in "Justice Served" tonight.

Also a little later, a far lighter note. Bette Midler unplugged. The singer talks about her new concert tour and may even mention Janet Jackson.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: In "Justice Served" tonight, the Scott Peterson case. It is difficult to win a murder case without showing jurors a weapon providing a cause of death, or calling up witnesses who actually saw the deed. That is what prosecutors are apparently trying to do in the Scott Peterson trial which has entered week 15. Today they may have faced a setback during the examination of a key piece of evidence. Ted Rowlands reports in tonight's "Justice Served."

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A Department of Justice criminalist testified that a pair of pliers found in Scott Peterson's boat had no evidence of recent use. The pliers were significant in the case because a hair the prosecution believes came from Laci Peterson was found in the pliers.

They hoped to prove Laci's body was transported in the boat. The criminalist testified that the pliers were rusted shut when she analyzed them two months after they were recovered. Prosecutors blame the rust on saltwater exposure.

Other witnesses included a car dealer who testified Peterson traded in his wife's Land Rover to buy a pickup a month after she disappeared. The defense claims he sold his wife's car because he needed a truck for work and the police took his.

Terry Western (ph), a long time family friend, broke down on the stand while talking about the last time she saw Laci Peterson, the night this photo was taken at a Christmas party. Western testified that Laci told her Scott had been called away on business at the last minute and could not make the party.

In reality, Peterson was with Amber Frey at another party in Fresno. Western, who was a real estate agent, also testified that Peterson told her he wanted to sell his house, something she told him was inappropriate. The jury has already heard audiotape of Peterson talking about selling his house, furnished to another friend.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ROWLANDS: Lee Peterson, Scott Peterson's father, was expected to take the stand today. He did not and he is not expected to take the stand tomorrow. The judge at the end of court today told the jury that the prosecution's focus will shift tomorrow to DNA evidence. And that, Anderson, is expected to take up the rest of the week.

COOPER: All right, Ted Rowlands, thanks for that. Covering the case for us tonight, Court TV anchor Lisa Bloom.

Lisa, good to see you.

LISA BLOOM, COURT TV: Hi.

COOPER: Let's talk about the real estate agent for a moment. She basically testifying that Scott Peterson said, quote: "I can't have Laci come back here." He was trying to sell the house, so what?

BLOOM: Well, you know, as with every word or deed from Scott Peterson, there is a sinister explanation and an innocent explanation. The prosecution is going to say, he wanted to live the freewheeling, happy bachelor lifestyle. And to do that, he wanted to get rid of the house and all of the contents in it and go on and start his new life. Well, the defense is going to say, I expect, he needed to raise money for attorneys fees, he simply wanted to go live with his parents, live somewhere else away from the sad memories. So it could really cut either way.

COOPER: Now the other big piece of news is this -- the pliers. I guess the word came out today that there is a hair on it, which is alleged to be Laci Peterson's but the pliers are rusty, they're old. What does that...

BLOOM: Well, one of the only pieces of forensic evidence in this case is the single strand of Laci Peterson's hair found in a pair of needlenose pliers in Scott Peterson's boat. And that puts Laci Peterson in the boat according to the prosecution, which is very important.

Now on cross-examination...

COOPER: Because otherwise there's no other evidence she was ever in the boat.

BLOOM: Well, exactly. Now, on cross-examination, the witness today had to explain that these pliers were rusty and there was no evidence that they had been used recently around the time of this killing.

Now what does that say? It says that probably the killer didn't use the pliers to kill Laci Peterson. Not necessarily all that important, but the defense theory is probably going to be transference, that that hair could have gotten into the boat from Scott Peterson, on a jacket or somehow attached to him.

COOPER: But I mean, if they're rusty and the pliers weren't used, and so it wasn't used in the alleged crime, there is no evidence that she was ever in that boat; other than around the time of the crime? It could have been a year ago.

BLOOM: Well, except that the boat was only purchased about two weeks before Laci went missing. And there was no evidence that Laci was ever in that boat. There was testimony that she was in the warehouse where the boat was kept. She went in there to use the bathroom one day. But there's no evidence that she went in the boat and it wouldn't make any sense why she was going to sit in the boat.

COOPER: So the pliers are not key evidence you don't think?

BLOOM: I don't think the pliers are key evidence. I think the hair is very, very important evidence and the defense is going to have to explain how that hair got in the boat.

COOPER: But there is some question about the actual DNA on the hair.

BLOOM: Tomorrow we expect to hear from the DNA expert. There are two kinds of DNA. There is...

COOPER: Right, there is mitochondrial...

BLOOM: ... mitochondrial -- very good.

COOPER: Well, hey.

BLOOM: And nuclear DNA. This was a hair without a root. So mitochondrial DNA is the only kind of testing that can be done. So we're not going to hear those big numbers we sometimes hear in cases, it's only a one in 7 billion chance it was someone other than Laci Peterson. We're not going to hear that.

COOPER: But if the testimony today was that the pliers wasn't used, and what is the matter whether the hair can be 100 percent said to be Laci Peterson's or not?

BLOOM: Well, because the hair is still in the boat. And I think the fact that they were -- that hair was in the pliers is less important than the fact that the hair was in the boat, and that places Laci Peterson in the boat. And tomorrow we expect the expert to say that hair is consistent with Laci Peterson's hair, that's probably the best we're going to hear on the DNA.

COOPER: All right, Lisa Bloom, thanks very much, covering the case for us.

It has been a tough day in news. We thought you might want to have something a little -- something to smile about. Luckily for us, we got a very strange letter about spanking. We're not kidding, we'll share it with you ahead on 360.

Plus, Bette Midler, the divine Ms. M tells me about her career, her new tour and would you believe, Rush Limbaugh?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: We'll have Bette Midler in a moment. Before that, let's check on some pop news in tonight's "Current." An SUV carrying James Gandolfini was hit by a suspected drunken driver over the weekend. "The Sopranos" star was not injured. The driver of the other car also escaped injury, at least for now.

Donald Trump's ex-wife is also getting into the reality TV business. Her new show is called "Ivana Man." Get it? She promises to help older women hook up with younger. I think it's a great idea, though I think Demi Moore may have come up with it first.

MTV's "The Real World" begins its 15th season tonight. The show gives viewers once again a "chance to see what happens when people stop being polite and start getting" drunk, really, really drunk. And yet I watch every single season.

The record industry going after more online music traders. A new lawsuit counts 744 new accusers who are all code-named John Doe. To protest the lawsuit and show solidarity with all those John Does, Greg (ph), our sound tech, will now dance to his favorite downloaded Leo Sayer song. (MUSIC PLAYING: "YOU MAKE ME FEEL LIKE DANCING")

COOPER: He loves Leo Sayer. But if Leo Sayer is not your cup of tea, may we suggest Bette Midler. The divine Ms. M has sold 14 million records, won four Grammys, three Emmys and two Oscar nominations. On September 30 she kicks off the second leg of her "Kiss My Brass" tour, that's brass with a B, tour in New Hampshire. And if you've never have seen her on tour, you are missing out. There is no one like her.

When she stopped by today I asked her if she ever get gets tired of performing.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Do you get tired of doing -- I mean, you've been doing this for a long time...

BETTE MIDLER, SINGER/PERFORMER: I take really long rests between these shows. Because you know the shows take about two years to put together and then you have to rehearse and that's ten weeks. And then you go out and it is usually 30 shows but this time -- last time I did 45 which nearly killed me. So I really did have to take a nap after that.

COOPER: Do you watch the news a lot?

MIDLER: I watch the news constantly.

COOPER: Because I understand you talk about politics.

MIDLER: I do. I'm a ranter. I'm a ranter.

COOPER: And you're a big supporter of President Bush.

MIDLER: I'm not saying anything. I'm here to plug my show.

COOPER: But in your show you talk about...

MIDLER: I do.

COOPER: Rush Limbaugh.

MIDLER: I do. I talk about Rush. He deserves...

COOPER: Do you listen to Rush Limbaugh?

MIDLER: I can't listen to Rush Limbaugh. He makes you tear your hair out. He's not even American.

COOPER: He's not American?

MIDLER: I mean, it is so un-American to behave that way. I just think it is un-American. I just -- there is a level below which you cannot sink and he's just sunk. I'm sorry. COOPER: That's fine. It is fine. How do you think you've lasted so long -- this business that you're in is an incredibly difficult business and you've been a major star for a very long time. You started playing in the Continental Baths with Barry Manilow.

MIDLER: Yes. In the sixties, in the late sixties. How do I think I've lasted so long? Well, I think I've had tremendous luck. I've had tremendous perseverance. I'm a really, really hard worker and I'm curious. That's the one thing I can say. I never really sort of rested on my laurels. I always said is there something else I can find to do.

COOPER: You also seem enormously optimistic. Your shows are full of hope.

MIDLER: That's really true. Personally as a human being I'm beset by devils and beset by doubts and...

COOPER: Really?

MIDLER: Oh, yes.

COOPER: Doubts about yourself?

MIDLER: Doubts about myself, doubts about the world, doubts about humanity, doubts about all sorts of things. That's kind of the journey. You -- you're always struggling to find your way. That is the journey of life, I think. You never really say well, now I know everything. I know how it works. Now I can just go home.

COOPER: What do you think about Christina Aguilera?

MIDLER: I think she's gorgeous. I adore her. I think she sings great.

COOPER: Did you say something funny about her?

MIDLER: I always say funny things about -- I always say funny things about the young girls because they are -- they do tend to dress like hoes. But when I was very young, I kind of was a little ho-like myself. It is very upsetting to the grown-ups because then they think it is their fault.

COOPER: And upsetting because she didn't send you a thank you note.

MIDLER: She didn't send me a thank you note because I opened the door for -- you know, for girls in low-cut -- girls who dress like tramps.

COOPER: And not even a thank you note.

MIDLER: Not even, imagine.

COOPER: Shocking. We live in an interesting time. There is a lot of -- you know, the FCC has been cracking down. MIDLER: That's so curious. They don't really crack down at all. The FCC doesn't crack down. They got all angry about Janet Jackson but there's records that they play on the radio that are so shocking, even for me. And I'm talking -- and you have to say -- you have to say plenty to shock me. Some records are so shocking and they don't say anything because they never touch radio. I don't know why they never touch radio.

COOPER: Why do you think they got so upset about Janet Jackson?

MIDLER: I have no idea. Personally I thought it was hilarious. I mean, I couldn't understand -- it looked like a door knocker, you know, it was a knocker on a knocker.

COOPER: What?

MIDLER: For me I couldn't -- she looked like she was wearing a door knocker. So I didn't really get it. Looked like a knocker on her knocker.

COOPER: Well, the show starts September 30 and it's already been a huge success. This is the second leg of it.

MIDLER: The second leg. We're hoping for another big success. We start in New Hampshire. A place I've never been.

COOPER: Really?

MIDLER: Yes. And we're trying to go to all the places I've never been so...

COOPER: New Hampshire is live free or die, isn't it?

MIDLER: Live free or die. Hey, they're waiting for me. How come you know all the mottoes of all the states?

COOPER: No, just that one. Don't know why. Spent a little time in the big house making license plates.

MIDLER: I see. I see. Very interesting. I see. It is all coming clear to me now. And I'm at Radio City for four nights in October.

COOPER: That will be amazing. Bette Midler, it's great to meet you.

MIDLER: Thank you. Nice to meet you, too. Thank you.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: All right. You won't believe the letter I got in the mail today. Surprising what people are doing these days to raise money. I'll take that to the Nth Degree. You really won't believe it.

Plus, tomorrow, Kristen Gore, Al Gore's daughter, she talks politics and her debut as a novelist.

First, today's buzz. "Which story do you think is worth more coverage, Iraq or the U.S. economy?" We're getting a huge response to this one. Hurry up, get your vote in, log on to CNN.com/360. We will have results in just a few minutes when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Time now for the "Buzz." Earlier we asked you, "which story do you think deserves more coverage, Iraq or the U.S. economy?" 26,000 of you voted. 37 percent of you said Iraq. 63 percent voted the economy. Not a scientific poll, but it is your buzz. We appreciate you voting.

Tonight taking fundraising to the Nth Degree. So we got this letter from a viewer in Japan, a young student who wants us to know about the charity work that she and her friends are engaged in. It seems they've hit upon, that will be funny in a moment, I promise, an unusual way to support whatever good cause it is they support.

"I am," writes our correspondent whose first name is Mickey, "president of the Kochi Women's University Beneficial Bottoms Association." In case you think something has been lost or added in the translation, the letter explains that Mickey and her full-time student friends are just too busy for conventional kinds of fundraising like the walk-a-thon.

So they came up with an alternative. The spank-a-thon. "Our college students get financial promise from local citizens then famous celebrity and mayor etc. come to our city and spanks us in public square with many audiences. Donations are proportion to spanks."

More than that, Mickey has invited yours truly to come have a hand in the fundraising so to speak. Hey, if it is good for the charitable bottom line. (r)MDNM¯Now we don't know if Mickey is pulling our leg or not but if she isn't, spanks for the offer. I'm Anderson Cooper. Thanks for watching 360. Coming up next, "PAULA ZAHN NOW."

TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com


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