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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Accused Baby Snatcher Appears in Court; Bush Stands by Rumsfeld
Aired December 20, 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.
The crime is unspeakable. Tonight, the search for explanations begins.
360 starts now.
How could she? The accused baby-snatcher shows up in court to hear the charges against her. But will she claim postpartum depression made her do it?
New rumblings over Rummy. The secretary of defense under fire for his response to families of killed Americans. The president stands by his man, but will Capitol Hill follow his lead?
A brazen attack in the streets of Iraq, caught on film. An election official and his bodyguard executed in broad daylight. Tonight, the power behind these pictures.
More than three years after her death, actor Robert Blake goes on trial for the murder of his wife. Tonight, how the case hinges on a 4-year-old girl.
And the case against Michael Jackson. The judge rules DNA taken from Jackson can be used against him.
ANNOUNCER: Live from the CNN Broadcast Center in New York, this is ANDERSON COOPER 360.
COOPER: And good evening again.
In her hometown of Malvern (ph), Kansas, it seems that Lisa Montgomery wanted everyone to know she had a baby. She showed the newborn to friends, to family, to customers at a restaurant. And her pastor, whose wife noticed the girl didn't look like her or her husband, saw her as well.
What police say she didn't tell anyone was how she got the baby, by allegedly strangling a woman eight months' pregnant and stealing the girl from her murdered mother's womb.
Tonight, 4 days old, Victoria Jo Stinnett is doing well, and she's with her father. As for Montgomery, today she made her first court appearance for a crime that is simply hard to believe. CNN's Jonathan Freed reports.
JONATHAN FREED, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Four days after the murder of Bobbie Jo Stinnett, the mutilation of her body and the abduction of her unborn baby shocked the nation, the first glimpse of the woman accused in the case, Lisa Montgomery, sin certainly she was arrested on Friday.
Montgomery appeared in court in Kansas City, Kansas, on Monday for a brief hearing to formally confirm her identity before being handed over to authorities in Missouri, where the alleged crimes took place.
Lisa Montgomery of Malvern, Kansas, is facing federal charges of kidnapping resulting in death. So far, she is the only one charged, and the U.S. attorney's office prosecuting the case says it's too early to know if anyone else might be accused as well.
There are questions about why Montgomery's husband accepted her story that she had suddenly given birth on Thursday and was ready to be picked up with the baby that day, and not at a hospital, but outside a restaurant.
The Montgomerys' pastor tells CNN that he saw the couple and the newborn on Friday, and says there was nothing to suggest anything was out of the ordinary.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You see a lady walk in that's moving a little slow, and her husband is carrying a baby with a smile on his face a mile wide, you don't suspect a thing.
FREED: There are also questions about whether or not Montgomery had a recent miscarriage, and if authorities believe it could be a motive for her alleged attack on Stinnett.
Prosecutors explain they're proceeding cautiously about the possibility of seeking the death penalty.
TODD GRAVES, U.S. ATTORNEY: The federal government is -- has a very strict procedure. It's not something you enter into lightly. So we have to go through -- we have to do many steps before we make that decision.
FREED: The Stinnetts' baby, Victoria Jo, is still listed in good condition at a hospital in Topeka, Kansas.
FREED: Anderson, I am in Maryville (ph), Missouri, about 100 miles north of Kansas City, and about five miles from the site where Bobbie Jo Stinnett was killed last week. We can tell you that the funeral services and a wake are going to be held here in Maryville tomorrow, and the burial is going to take place near her home.
Anderson, back to you.
COOPER: Jonathan Freed, thanks very much.
Jeff Lanza is an FBI special agent. He's assigned to the case. He Joins me now from Kansas City, Missouri.
Thanks very much for being with us. Appreciate it.
JEFF LANZA, FBI SPECIAL AGENT: You're welcome.
COOPER: ... learning today more detail about how Lisa Montgomery was tracked down through a Web site, an 11-digit computer code. Walk me through what happened. How do you actually track her down?
LANZA: Well, the computer is a very important parent of any criminal investigation nowadays. And we have right here in Kansas City a computer forensics laboratory. That computer was taken from the crime scene and brought to the laboratory, and analysis was done of the Web sites that she visited, the messages that this -- the victim received.
And we found one in particular that said that this person was coming to visit the victim at about the time the murder was -- had occurred. So we tracked that down to the person who sent that message, and it was a fake name. They used a fake name to send this message. And we were able to trace back through the Internet protocol, through the Internet service provider, back to that person's real name. And that's what led to us Kansas.
COOPER: Do you believe her husband was in any way involved in this case? I ask that question because apparently Lisa Montgomery and her husband brought this baby around town, both claiming her as their own.
LANZA: The investigation has resulted in charges being filed against the woman in this case. And I'll really just have to leave it at that.
COOPER: Is it possible more -- I mean, is the investigation -- I assume the investigation is ongoing. So is it possible more charges could be brought?
LANZA: Well, the investigation is ongoing. I don't anticipate any additional charges in the very near term in this case, but it's impossible to predict, as you know, what can happen as an investigation proceeds.
COOPER: I don't know how long you've been in the FBI, but you must have seen a lot of terrible things. When this baby was found alive, it must just have been an incredible moment for you and everyone else that had been searching for her.
LANZA: I wasn't physically there. But the agents and the police officers who were there told me they were absolutely ecstatic. All you had in this case to go on was the fact that you had a -- first of all, you had a dead woman, you had the idea that this person, the suspect, had blonde hair and was driving a red car. And that's all you had to go on.
Within 23 hours and 200 miles away, agents go knock on a door at a house, and what they find there, are they going to find a baby? Are they going to find a baby who's alive? Is it the right baby? Is it a healthy baby?
All those things came true, and you can imagine the jubilation felt by the family as well as the agents and police at the scene.
COOPER: It's still hard to believe, every time we hear about it. Jeff Lanza, appreciate you Joining us. Thanks very much, Jeff.
LANZA: You're welcome.
COOPER: Coming up on 360, we're going to look at the legal moves the accused killer might make. We're going to talk with CNN senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin and a forensic psychiatrist as well.
In Washington today, President Bush spent close to an hour fielding questions from reporters. Now, a good chunk of the questions were devoted to violence in Iraq and, of course, the president's defense secretary, who's become a punching bag of sorts for critics on both the left and the right.
CNN White House correspondent Dana Bash reports.
DANA BASH, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The president was strikingly candid about a problem in Iraq. The effort to build up its army so American troops can start coming home is not going to plan.
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I would call the results mixed, in terms of standing up Iraqi units who are willing to fight. There have been some cases where, when the heat got on, they left the battlefield. That's unacceptable.
BASH: One goal of the end-of-the-year news conference was to talk up Iraq's progress. But he also conceded this about a spike in suicide bombings.
BUSH: No question about it. The bombers are having an effect.
BASH: Mr. Bush stood firmly by his embattled defense secretary, whom critics call responsible for Iraq policy failures. Rumsfeld's been most recently under fire for ignoring pleas for more armored vehicles in Iraq, and using an autopen, not his own hand, to sign letters for families of troops killed there.
BUSH: I have seen the anguish in his, or heard the anguish in his voice and seen his eyes when we talk about the danger in Iraq. You know, sometimes, perhaps, his demeanor is rough and gruff, but beneath that rough and gruff, no-nonsense demeanor is a good human being.
BASH: The president expressed disappointment but no regret for the ill-fated choice of Bernard Kerik for homeland security secretary, offering a veiled nod to critics of the White House vetting process.
BUSH: The lessons learned is continue to vet. And ask good questions.
BASH: Controversy over Kerik and Rumsfeld may already have dimmed the president's postelection glow. A new CNN-"USA Today"- Gallup poll shows his approval rating back below 49 percent, down 6 points in just a month.
BASH: And Bush aides understand building up that support again is crucial, especially as he tries to push his second-term agenda, things like reforming Social Security. And Anderson, there, the president deflected several questions on specifics, beyond wanting to create private accounts for younger workers, even telling one reporter, Don't bother to ask me that. But he did insist he would give more details at an appropriate time, Anderson.
COOPER: And the devil's in the details. Dana Bash, thanks very much for that.
You know, there's a Joke in the TV news business, and probably in every other business as well, that when your boss says you have his unequivocal support, you know you are about to be fired.
So the question is, are Donald Rumsfeld's days numbered? It may depend all on raw politics.
SEN. JOE BIDEN (D), DELAWARE: Oh, I don't -- again, I'm not going to talk about Rumsfeld. You know, I'm tired of his name, I'm tired of his policy.
COOPER: That a Democrat would criticize the Republican defense secretary is not surprising. But when a conservative senator like Trent Lott says, I'm not a fan of Secretary Rumsfeld, and says a new person should be in the job within a year, then people start to notice.
And when a conservative columnist like Bill Kristol weighs in, saying America's soldiers "deserve a better defense secretary" than the one they have, then you begin to wonder if change isn't in the air.
WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: The problem is, when Rumsfeld becomes a burden for the president, when he is making things worse, then the president may feel he has no choice but to get rid of him.
COOPER: But is Rumsfeld a burden yet? To hear the president tell it today, no way.
BUSH: When I asked the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) -- the secretary to stay on as secretary of defense, I was very pleased when he said yes. And I asked him to stay on because I understand the nature of the job of the secretary of defense, and I believe he's doing a really fine job.
COOPER: Defending the defense secretary is nothing new for the president. Back in May, it was the Abu Ghraib scandal.
BUSH: Secretary Rumsfeld has been the secretary during two wars. And he is -- he's an important part of my cabinet, and he'll stay in my cabinet.
COOPER: Before that, Rumsfeld was criticized for his response to looting in Iraq and his handling of the insurgency.
BUSH: You are doing a superb job. You are a strong secretary of defense. And our nation owes you a debt of gratitude.
COOPER: The latest rumblings against Rumsfeld began when he appeared to brush off a soldier's question about why U.S. troops didn't have all the armored vehicles they needed.
DONALD RUMSFELD, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: And you go to war with the Army you have, not the Army you might want or wish to have at a later time.
COOPER: Now Rumsfeld's admitted he didn't personally sign the 1,000-plus condolence letters sent to families of American service men and women killed in action.
Will one more controversy be the last straw? For the president, getting rid of Rumsfeld, or standing by him, may end up being a matter of raw politics.
COOPER: We're going to have more on Secretary Rumsfeld, talk to the "CROSSFIRE" guys a little bit later on for their perspectives on the matter.
Here's something else Secretary Rumsfeld is facing a right now. A military review finds that a second Gitmo prisoner is being wrongly held. That's one of the stories cross-country tonight.
At the Pentagon, military leaders say the unnamed prisoner at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, shouldn't be classified as an enemy combatant and will soon be released. Well, 507 Gitmo cases have been reviewed due to a Supreme Court ruling that prisoners can challenge their detentions through the U.S. court system.
Take you now to Salt Lake City, Utah. The woman accused of helping her husband kidnap Elizabeth Smart, that woman, she files for divorce. Rhonda Barzi (ph) has been at Utah State Hospital for almost a year after a judge ruled she was mentally incompetent to stand trial for the kidnapping. Elizabeth Smart was found with the couple in March of 2003, nine months after she was taken from her home.
Washington, D.C., a deadly fire. Four people are killed, including a 5-year-old girl, in this row house fire. Unbelievable pictures here. Two others were able to get out alive. Firefighters just caught in the flames themselves there, getting out for their own safety. The cause of the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) of the fire is under investigation.
North Carolina's Outer Banks now, a rare seaside dusting of snow. That's right, it's the first big chill of the season in parts of the South, all the way up to here in the Northeast.
And even along the Great Lakes, this video is from Cleveland, Ohio, where a couple inches of snow fell. And with the windchill, feels like 5 degrees below zero in some parts of that state.
That's a look at stories cross-country tonight.
360 next, if you take Aleve, that medicine, there's a warning you should hear about. Yet another painkiller under scrutiny. We'll tell you about that coming up.
Plus, the Robert Blake murder trial begins. The prosecution lays out its case against the former TV star.
Also a little later tonight, a woman accused of strangling a pregnant woman to death and stealing her baby. We're going to look at the legal moves that could make this case even stranger.
All that ahead. First, your picks, though, the most popular stories right now on CNN.com.
COOPER: Well, more than three years ago, the wife of actor Robert Blake was killed as she waited for her husband outside a Los Angeles restaurant. Now, it took nearly a year before the police arrested the former "Little Rascals" star for the crime, and only now, after changing lawyers multiple times, is he going on trial. It began today.
CNN's Ted Rowlands reports.
TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Three and a half years after the murder of his wife, Robert Blake listened as prosecutor Shellie Samuels laid out the state's case against him. Samuels told jurors Blake shot and killed Bonny Lee Bakley as she sat in the front seat of his car, because he hated her and her family with a passion, and wanted sole custody of their daughter.
SHELLIE SAMUELS, PROSECUTOR: The defendant could not have been more repulsed by a group of people than he was by the victim and her family. ROWLANDS: Robert Blake's acting career dates back more than 60 years as a member of the "Little Rascals." He went on to star in the 1970s television series "Baretta."
Prosecutors say two stuntmen from that show, Ronald Duffy Hambleton (ph) and Gary McLarty (ph), were approached by Blake to kill his wife. And after they said no, he did it himself.
The night of the murder, May 4, 2001, Blake told police that after having dinner with Bakley, whom he had been married for a few months to, he left her in his car to go back to the restaurant to get his gun, a gun police say is not the murder weapon. Blake says he returned to the car and saw that his wife had been shot.
Prosecutors say no one in the restaurant, where he was a regular, saw Blake come back.
SAMUELS: His acting ability failed him that night. It failed him. He couldn't go back in the restaurant and pretend to find his gun. It failed him that people on the street all thought he was acting weird and odd.
COOPER: Blake's attorney, Gerald Schwartzbach, says both stuntmen are drug addicts. One of them, McLarty, he told the jury, is delusional, with a history of perceived encounters with aliens.
GERALD SCHWARTZBACH, BLAKE ATTORNEY: There is no evidence, none. There is no evidence, direct or circumstantial, that he shot Ms. Bakley.
ROWLANDS: Robert Blake is now 71 years old. He is out on bail. His little girl, Rose, who prosecutors say he killed for, is being taken care of by his older daughter here in Southern California, Anderson.
COOPER: Ted Rowlands, thanks very much, from Van Nuys.
As the Blake trial starts, it seems the tawdry tale of Scott Peterson is not done yet. We found this new posting on Mark Geragos's Web site today. He asked the public to help continue the investigation so, quote, "Scott can get the justice he deserves." Geragos is asking for help, which is legalese for money. He is taking donations at the Peterson Investigation Fund and also sends -- says that you can send money via PayPal to savescottandgeragos.com.
Horrible violence in Baghdad to tell you about. Gunmen pull three men from their car, shoot them dead. It is all captured on film. If lawlessness can be captured in photos, this is it, gunmen so brazen they didn't even bother to hide their faces. Their target on Haifa Street, a senior Iraqi election official and his two bodyguards, killed in morning traffic.
Islamabad, Pakistan, President Pervez Musharraf says he will not step down as the head of his country's military on December 31, as he had promised. Under Pakistan's constitution, he can't hold two positions of power past the end of the year. Opposition parties have called on Musharraf to honor his word and abandon his military post. He says he'll address the nation within a couple days and explain why he is keeping the military position.
Eastern Congo now, tens of thousands of people fleeing for their lives. U.N. says entire villages are empty as a pro-Rwandan militia battles Congolese government troops. The violence just goes on and on.
Santiago, Chile, now, an appeals court upholds the indictment and house arrest of the former dictator Augusto Pinochet. He is charged with kidnapping and murder during his regime. He's 89 years old, and he's recovering at a Santiago from the stroke he had over the weekend.
And Reykjavik, Iceland, now, the pressure to drop Bobby Fischer. The chess champ's been invited to live there, but the U.S. is turning up the heat. It wants Fischer, now a fugitive, back in America. He is accused of violating sanctions against Yugoslavia in 1992 by playing a match there.
That's tonight's uplink.
360 next, two more painkillers under scrutiny. Both may be in your medicine cabinet right now. We are talking, of course, about Celebrex, and now Aleve. That when we come back.
Plus, a (UNINTELLIGIBLE), a mother murdered for her baby. Tonight in justice served, what the accused killer's defense may be.
And in a moment, today's 360 challenge. How well do you know news? Well, we'll put you to the test.
We'll be right back.
COOPER: We are getting this just in. A few moments ago, we learned of a government warning for anyone taking the painkiller Aleve. Now, this comes amid new questions about another popular painkiller, Celebrex.
CNN medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen joins us now from Atlanta with the latest. (UNINTELLIGIBLE) Elizabeth, what's the explanation about Aleve?
ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, the government, the National Institutes of Health and the Food and Drug Administration, just had a press conference with reporters, where they said that an NIH study found that people who were taking Aleve with the active ingredient there is (UNINTELLIGIBLE) -- naproxen, rather. People who were taking Aleve had a 50 percent increased chance of having a heart attack or a stroke.
Now, this was in a study they were doing. They were taking a look at naproxen and they were comparing it with Celebrex, and they were also with placebo.
Now, the government isn't going to take Aleve off the shelves. It isn't, at this point, even going to say that there has to be a warning on the label. All they're telling people is that they shouldn't take it for more than 10 days, which is what the label says, and they should talk to their doctor if they need help beyond 10 days.
Now, I mentioned that Celebrex was also in this study. It gets a little confusing. This study actually found that Celebrex was fine, that (UNINTELLIGIBLE) that the people taking Celebrex did not have an increased chance of having a heart attack or a stroke. The FDA says they are continuing to review the data, Anderson.
COOPER: So I, let me just be clear. The study says 50 percent of the people had a higher risk of heart attack taking Aleve. Why are -- is it not being taken off?
COHEN: Well, it didn't quite say that. What it said was, they looked at these two big groups of people, some of who were taking Aleve and, or naproxen, and some whom weren't, and they found a 50 percent increased likelihood that if you were taking naproxen that you were going to have a heart attack or a stroke.
But the numbers are very small. In other words, when you look at all the total number of people who had heart attacks or stroke, the differences in the numbers, while it was a 50 percent increase, the raw numbers weren't very big. So they're not going to yank it off the market, at least not at this point.
However, they are going to continue to review the data. It's sort of a similar story as with Celebrex, where they saw an increased risk of heart attack or stroke. They're not going to take it off the market, but they are letting people know that they saw this increased risk.
COOPER: So if can take it, take it according to what it says on the label, don't take extra.
COHEN: Correct, don't take extra, and don't take it for more than 10 days.
We should note that the people in the study who have the increased risk of heart attack and stroke, they were taking this drug on a regular basis for up to three years. That is very different from taking it for 10 days.
COOPER: All right. That's an important point to point out. Elizabeth Cohen, thanks very much for that.
COOPER: How could she? The accused baby snatcher shows up in court to hear the charges against her. But will she claim postpartum depression made her do it?
New rumblings over Rummy. The secretary of defense under fire for his response to families of killed Americans. The president stands by his man, but will Capitol Hill follow his lead?
And the case against Michael Jackson. The judge rules DNA taken from Jackson can be used against him.
COOPER: In the next half hour on 360, under the radar, peace efforts in the Middle East. Is progress actually being made? You might be surprised.
Plus, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld under fire yet again. The "CROSSFIRE" gang weighs in.
First, let's check the reset.
Disappointing jingles at store cash registers. Ho, ho, ho. On the last weekend before Christmas, shoppers didn't not spend as much as they did last year. In-store sales were down 7 percent. This tally does not include gifts purchased online. And don't worry, I haven't started shopping yet, so that'll bump up things right there.
Duluth, Minnesota, now, lighting up the night sky, an ice rink destroyed by fire. The likely source, propane gas tanks used to power a Zamboni. That's the big machine that cleans the ice, the Zamboni. Several people were hurt. No one was killed.
Green Belt, Maryland, now, a break in that big arson case in a housing development. Court documents show that three of the young men arrested over the weekend have allegedly admitted they helped torch dozens of homes two weeks ago, and now they're pointing fingers at each other. The estimated damage, $10 million.
Deltona, Florida, now, the sinkhole that ate the street. This sinkhole has grown from 12 feet wide to over 200 feet wide in the last few days. It's 50 feet deep. It has destabilized two homes now. Look at that. It may have -- it may take 2,000 truckloads of dirt to fill the hole in.
And that's a quick look at the top stories in the reset.
We return right now to our main story, the baby stolen from her murdered mother's womb. Lisa Montgomery stands accused of the horrific crime. Police say her motive was simple. She wanted a baby.
But still, there are so many questions. What would drive a person to commit such a unspeakable act? Did anyone else know? And if her lawyers decide to use an insanity defense, will it work? Joining me in "Justice Served" is CNN senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin and from Los Angeles, Dr. Saul Faerstein, a forensic psychiatrist and clinical professor of psychiatry at UCLA. Gentlemen, appreciate both of you joining us.
Just, Jeff, let me start off with you. Authorities say Montgomery was -- that she actually confessed. How does this play into her defense?
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SR. LEGAL ANALYST: It makes everything harder. When you have someone who has confessed, when the evidence is overwhelming, just about the only option available to the defense is an insanity defense. But even though we often think of people getting off because of insanity, the defense rarely succeeds. Some statistics say 80 percent of the time it fails. And even if you succeed, as we are learning with John Hinckley, it does not mean you get out anytime soon.
COOPER: There is also the question of premeditation and the degree to which she planned this, or allegedly planned it.
TOOBIN: Absolutely. You know, obviously the e-mails are a big part of this case. Apparently she set up her visit to this woman using the dog sale as a ruse to get to her. If that's true, that would make it very hard to argue that she was so out of control, so insane that she had essentially an impulse to kill this woman that she could not stop.
COOPER: Dr. Faerstein, the local sheriff said that Montgomery was pregnant and miscarried when she was about six months. Now, if that is true -- and we don't know if that's true, but that's what the local sheriff says, how much could that have played into what she did?
DR. SAUL FAERSTEIN, FORENSIC PSYCHIATRIST: That may have played a big role. If she had miscarried, she may have had a postpartum psychosis, which is far more serious than just the postpartum depression. If she were psychotic and she were having delusions about this baby, it may have driven her actions in this case.
COOPER: Even if this thing was pre-planned, I mean, even though, as Jeffrey said, there are e-mails saying that this sort of, you know, played out over several weeks or months?
FAERSTEIN: Yes. Obsessional thinking is sometimes part of an insanity state. It does not have to be a sudden, impulsive act for a person to be insane. Had she been thinking about this for months, for instance, had the miscarriage been many months before, she may have been obsessing about having this baby, missing her baby, and she may have developed more elaborate delusions during that time that helped her plan this crime.
COOPER: Dr. Faerstein...
FAERSTEIN: And she could have premeditated it.
COOPER: We try to look at things from all angles on this show, so take away the idea that she had suffered a miscarriage, because we don't know for a fact. Assuming that she did not suffer a miscarriage, what is left? Why would someone do this?
FAERSTEIN: Well, there are lots of unknowns. There are far more unknowns than there are knowns here. We don't even know whether she was pregnant, whether she had a false pregnancy or a pseudocyesis...
COOPER: Wait, what's pseudocyesis?
FAERSTEIN: Pseudocyesis is a condition in which a person appears to be pregnant. It's a psychiatric and a medical condition, in which a woman is delusional about being pregnant and she begins to appear pregnant. She may be bloating. There may be other physical causes for her to appear pregnant. But she may believe she is pregnant, but physically she is not.
TOOBIN: But even if she has this psychosis, remember Andrea Yates in Texas. She had all those. She had many kinds of psychoses, postpartum, and the jury still rejected the insanity defense.
COOPER: Especially in a crime like this. I mean, it's a hard thing for a jury to swallow.
TOOBIN: Juries do not like this defense. It rarely succeeds.
COOPER: All right, we're going to leave it there. Jeffrey Toobin and Dr. Faerstein, thanks very much for joining us. Appreciate it.
FAERSTEIN: Thank you.
COOPER: Coming up next, in California, Michael Jackson was not in court today during a pretrial hearing. And that may have been a good move on his part, because the judge did not have any good news for him. CNN's Miguel Marquez is following it.
MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Michael Jackson's Christmas week, legal wish list denied. DNA and other evidence gathered at Jackson's Neverland Ranch earlier this month will be allowed in trial. In addition, Santa Barbara Superior Court Judge Rodney Melville not only denied the defense motion to dismiss the case, but also denied its request to push back the trial's start date.
MICHELLE CARUSO, NEW YORK DAILY NEWS: We heard today attorneys from both sides estimate the length of this trial to be anywhere from three months to five months, not including jury selection.
MARQUEZ: And that's expected to take three to four weeks. The judge indicated that summons to potential jurors will being going out to Santa Barbara County residents next week. And both the defense and prosecution have begun preparing a questionnaire for prospective jurors.
One big question still to be answered before trial, will the judge allow evidence and witnesses from prior cases against Jackson, including the '93 allegations of molestation.
CARUSO: If the judge allows in the '93 accuser, it's going to be a trial within a trial.
MARQUEZ: In 1993, Jackson was alleged to have molested a 13- year-old boy, but the pop star was never charged after a multi- million-dollar out-of-court settlement was reached.
CARUSO: The '93 accuser, who was a 13-year-old boy, if you want to bring that into this trial, then you have got to bring in his parents and his nannies, and everybody else.
MARQUEZ (on camera): The court will hear arguments on whether to allow material from the '93 case in this one on January 12th. And the trial date is still set for January 31st. That's just six weeks from now. Michael Jackson is expected to be there.
Miguel Marquez, CNN, Santa Maria, California.
COOPER: Well, 360 next, born together, separated through surgery. We will see how two formerly conjoined twins are doing months after their risky operation. They just had another operation over the weekend. A story we've been following here on 360.
And the president defends his defense secretary. Take that into the "CROSSFIRE."
And in a moment, today's 360 challenge, how closely have you been following today's news? We'll put you to the test.
COOPER: Time now for today's 360 challenge. Be the first to answer all three questions correctly, we will send you a 360 t-shirt.
No. 1, what was the advertising budget for Celebrex before Pfizer pulled its ads?
No. 2, what is the name of the street in Baghdad where the photographer took the brutal assassination photos?
No. 3, when is Michael Jackson's molestation trial scheduled to begin?
Take the challenge, log on to cnn.com/360, click on the answer link. Answer first, we'll send you the shirt. Find out last night's challenge winner -- actually Friday night's -- and tonight's answers, coming up.
COOPER: When President Bush ran for reelection, he said that you would always know where he stands, whether you agree with him or not. Today he once again made that clear. As Democrats and Republicans alike criticized Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, the president has stayed firm in his defending Rumsfeld performance yet again and his character.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: He's a good, decent man. He's a caring fellow. You know, sometimes perhaps his demeanor is rough and gruff, but beneath that rough and gruff, no- nonsense demeanor is a good human being, who cares deeply about the military and deeply about the grief that war causes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: We like to look at all the angles, so we earlier talked to "CROSSFIRE" hosts Robert Novak and Paul Begala.
COOPER: Paul, we just heard President Bush calling Rumsfeld "a good man who cares deeply about the military." Him standing by Rumsfeld, is that enough to put this whole controversy to rest?
PAUL BEGALA, CO-HOST, "CROSSFIRE": Not to rest. Obviously, the secretary serves at the pleasure of the president. He clearly has the president's support. But that does not stop people from speaking out.
I was interested to learn that Secretary Rumsfeld gave an interview recently to a Chicago radio station. He talked about his hobbies. He likes to play squash. He finds time for long walks. He chops wood. He reads poetry. The man who has got enough time -- busy man -- but enough time to be reading Kipling certainly has enough time to sign those letters. It is a heartless and indefensible thing. I was really surprised that President Bush defended that kind of conduct.
COOPER: Bob, you have Republican Senator John McCain saying he has no confidence in Rumsfeld. Trent Lott said I'm not a fan of Secretary Rumsfeld. I don't think he listens to his uniformed officers. I would like to see a change in that slot in the next year or so. But then you have other big Republican senators John Warner, Richard Lugar, defending him, largely saying, you know, you can't change a secretary of defense during war time or before elections in Iraq. Is this just being played up in the media or are the rumblings against Rumsfeld going to grow?
BOB NOVAK, CO-HOST, "CROSSFIRE": If you notice carefully, not one of those Republicans has called for his resignation because they know very well this is not a time for him to quit before the election. It -- all these attacks on him are, indeed, attacks on the policy in Iraq. I think Paul will admit that on President Bush's policy and an attempt to undermine that policy.
So, it would be a tremendous setback to get him out now. Having said that, Donald Rumsfeld may -- I've known him for 50 years almost, he is a very intelligent man, a very effective man but never been a warm and cuddly person. And he is the kind of person who would make a mistake like signing condolence letters with a machine. That's just a joke. That's something that most people would not do and he's told it's not right so he will sign them. It has nothing to do with what the real policy is, the real purpose of this attack on him. That is to undermine the president.
COOPER: Paul, do you agree with that? Is this just about undermining the president?
BEGALA: The policy, yes. Bob is right. Democrats and a lot of Republicans no longer support the way that the president, through his defense secretary, is prosecuting. Bob is right, the ultimate responsibility resides with the president. But he did get another four-year no-cut contract. So we can't fire him. So we have to pressure the president to change his secretary of defense and hopefully his policies.
COOPER: Bob, I want to show you this new CNN/"USA Today/Gallup poll. The majority of Americans think Rumsfeld should resign according to this poll. 52 percent say yes, 36 percent no. Just 41 percent approve of how Rumsfeld is handling his job. That's compared to 71 percent back in April 2003. Does the president pay a price for continuing supporting Rumsfeld?
NOVAK: No. 71 percent of them thought he was doing well. They had no idea whether he was doing well. The 51 percent who think he is doing badly, they have no idea. That's why we don't have government done by referendum. You listen to CNN, to all the networks, hearing this pounding and pounding on Rumsfeld day after day, they say we have to get rid of this guy. They have no idea what is going on. There is a certain limit to this populous idea of government that you say, my goodness, the secretary of defense is not a rock star, we have to get rid of him.
COOPER: I'll leave it there. Paul Begala, Bob Novak, thank you very much.
You think politics here -- politics are nothing here compared to what is going on overseas. There are killings and violence prior to elections in Iraq of course. In Ukraine a battle over the presidency has been marred by poison. And there's another major story happening now that used to grab the headlines but has not lately -- the battle between the Israelis and Palestinians. As Guy Raz reports, their icy relationship may be thawing a bit. And it all is happening under the radar.
GUY RAZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Some powder, a touch of blush, an awkward moment for a hardened ex-general. But it's a sacrifice he is willing to make for peace. A television message directly for Palestinian eyes and ears.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was in charge of many operations against Palestinians. Actually I wasted most of my life in actions that today I know must be changed.
RAZ: The one-time commander of Israeli forces in Lebanon, now finds common ground with the current Palestinian national security adviser. His message is for Israelis.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You have a partner, a partner is ready and able to guarantee stability and security. But this depends on your willingness to end the occupation. RAZ: The ad campaign features several top Israeli and Palestinian personalities. Many of them helped draft last year's Geneva Initiative, a ground-breaking plan to end the Palestinian/Israeli conflict. It's an unofficial document, officially rejected by elected Palestinian and Israeli leaders. But recent polls among both communities shows strong support for the basic principles outlined in the agreement.
It's a strange situation now. Ten years ago both sides could stick with each other, but didn't agree about the content. Today they agree about the content, but they don't speak with each other. So, now we have to start those -- this dialogue.
RAZ: A dialogue that a growing number of Palestinian and Israeli leaders, tired of the bloodshed, are desperate to resume. An idea echoed by Mahmoud Abbas, the man likely to succeed the late Yasser Arafat as president of the Palestinian Authority. Abbas told an Arabic language newspaper that the armed Palestinian uprising was a mistake. Palestinian militants have condemned the comments. Israeli hardliners are trying to derail Ariel Sharon's plan to withdraw from Gaza. But campaigners with the Geneva Initiative know the silent majorities on both sides are prepared to seize the moment and finally put an end to the conflict. Guy Raz, CNN, Jerusalem.
COOPER: As always, you can expect more in-depth reporting tonight on CNN. Let's get a preview on what is coming up tonight on "PAULA ZAHN NOW" and "NEWSNIGHT" with Aaron Brown. John King is in for Paula tonight. He and Aaron join me now. Let's begin with John.
JOHN KING, CNN SR. WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Sticking to his guns was the phrase "TIME" magazine used in naming President Bush its person of the year. But another key aspect of the president's character is his abiding faith. We will look at the role of that faith in the president's life and his work. Join me on "PAULA ZAHN NOW" at the top of the hour.
COOPER: Thanks -- Aaron.
AARON BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: Anderson, tonight the pain in painkillers, Celebrex now. It was Vioxx before. We will talk with the chairman of Pfizer, makes Celebrex. Also late tonight the problems with Aleve. There's a whole question about a class of painkillers and whether they cause more problems than they solve. That and more on "NEWSNIGHT."
COOPER: Aaron, thank you very much. 10:00 Eastern Time.
360 next. Living separate lives. Formerly conjoined twins recovering after yet another surgery. We have been following their progress. You'll hear from their doctor ahead.
Plus war is a reality to the Nth Degree. New grim photos from the streets of Iraq.
COOPER: Conjoined twins are among the rarest people on Earth. They occur about every once in every 200,000 births, but most don't live beyond a few days. Twins joined at the head are even more rare. About one in every two million. Doctors say they are about the most difficult cases to separate.
To say the least, the boys in our next story have beaten some remarkable odds. You might remember them, Filipino brothers Carl and Clarence Aguirre, born with one brain. They were separated last August in New York. We have been following their story. They have recently undergone some more medical procedures this past week and this weekend.
Before the program, I spoke to the boys' lead pediatrician, Dr. Robert Marion, about how the boys are doing now.
COOPER: Last week the boys underwent a series of reconstructive procedures. How are they doing?
DR. ROBERT MARION, CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL AT MONTEFIORE: Oh, they're doing really well. In fact, since that time, they've had another procedure. They had their tonsils and adenoids taken out last Friday.
COOPER: Why did they need their tonsils out?
MARION: They were having problems with sleep apnea because their tonsils are enlarged -- were enlarged. And so we figured it was best to take them out.
COOPER: To what degree do they realize what's going on around them, I mean, and how have they changed now that they're no longer attached?
MARION: Well, they are really completely aware of everything that's going on. They watch a lot of TV. They are like any other 2, 2 1/2-year-old kid, except that they happen to have been born stuck together.
And the change in them since the time of surgery is really drastic. I mean, it's really amazing. It's almost miraculous.
COOPER: Change in what way? In their health or in their outlook?
MARION: I think in all of those ways. You know, when the -- when they were joined together, really all they could do was lie on their backs and roll from side to side. They were never able to sit up or stand, or really interact that much with the outside environment. Since their separation, they have been able to do all those things. Carl and Clarence are now both sitting with no support for five minutes or longer, and they are standing for short periods of time holding on. So the fact is that they have really made tremendous strides, and are starting to explore the world in ways that they just couldn't do before.
COOPER: In those days immediately following the separation procedure, what was it like for you as a doctor? What did you see about them sort of readjusting to their new life? Literally they were seeing the world from a different perspective.
MARION: Well, I think all of us who were involved with them from the time that they arrived in the States wanted to be there that moment when they opened their eyes and looked at each other for the first time and saw that they were separate rather than being together.
It turns out that they really didn't recognize the other one as their twin at the beginning.
COOPER: Oh, really?
MARION: Yeah. You know, they have been with other children a lot in the rehab hospital, and being with other kids, they just naturally assumed that the other kid in the bed next to them was just one of those kids from their play group.
COOPER: And the prognosis for their future? I mean, what is it?
MARION: Well, there's never been a set of twins like this. To think back to how they were six months ago, you know, they had no prognosis. There was no chance that these two children were going to survive the way they were. And to now have them separated, and living separate lives, and able to sit up and stand, and knowing that their future potential is unlimited, it's nothing short of a miracle.
COOPER: Dr. Robert Marion, thanks very much for being with us, and not only thanks for being here, but thanks for all the work you have done and the nurses as well. Thanks very much.
MARION: Well, thank you for having me.
COOPER: 360 next, the realities of war. On the front page of nearly every U.S. newspaper, we'll take that to "The Nth Degree."
And tomorrow, we'll talk to the woman who turned this accused killer into police. Why does she think the woman killed a pregnant woman for her baby.
And also, the 360 challenge tonight. Here is another look at tonight's questions.
No. 1, what was the advertising budget for Celebrex before Pfizer pulled its ads?
No. 2, what is the name of the street in Baghdad where the photographer took the brutal assassination photos?
And no. 3, when is Michael Jackson's molestation trial scheduled to begin?
Log on to cnn.com/360, click on the answer link to play. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
COOPER: Time now for the answers to today's 360 challenge.
No. 1, what was the advertising budget for Celebrex before Pfizer pulled its ads? $70 million.
No. 2, what is the name of the street in Baghdad where the photographer took the photos? Haifa Street.
And no. 3, when is Michael Jackson's molestation trial scheduled to begin? January 31st.
Now, the first person to answer all three questions correctly will be sent a 360 shirt. Tune in tomorrow to find out if you're the lucky one. Friday's winner -- Adam Masser of Eugene, Oregon. Couldn't see that for a moment.
Another 360 challenge, another chance to win tomorrow.
And tonight, taking war as reality to "The Nth Degree."
It's strange how one photo can suddenly capture our attention, make us see something that we've looked at but haven't really seen before.
These photos were splashed on the front pages of many national newspapers this morning. They've been on my mind all day. The pictures were taken Sunday morning in the heart of Baghdad, on one of the city's main streets. Insurgents dragged three men, Iraqi election officials, from their car, forced them to kneel in the road, and shot each one in the head.
The best pictures, a photographer once said, capture meaning far beyond the frozen moment. Photographer Eddie Adams won a Pulitzer Prize for this image he captured during the Vietnam War. The picture tells many stories.
Iraq is a very complicated place, a very complicated story, and certainly no one photo or series of photos can tell you everything that's happening there. The good and the bad doesn't all fit in a camera's lens. These photos show you just a glimpse. They show you that life can be taken quickly in Iraq. They show you that the enemy's brazenness is matched only by their brutality, and they show how difficult the road ahead may be.
That's 360 for tonight. I'm Anderson Cooper. Thanks for watching. Standing by now to continue CNN's prime-time programming is John King, who has braved the icy chill of New York this evening to sit in for Paula Zahn -- John.
KING: Thank you, Anderson. Not so warm in Washington either.
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