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Iraq Prepares for Elections

Aired January 25, 2005 - 19:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, HOST: Good evening. Live from Baghdad, I'm Anderson Cooper.
The vote nears, and the danger rises.

360 starts now.

ANNOUNCER: The tug of war over democracy in Iraq. Five days and counting until Iraqis head to the polls, while new video released by terrorists show an American held captive at gunpoint. Can the U.S. promise real security for the historic elections?

Underground campaign, women candidates for president. Fear of retaliation from insurgents. Tonight, a look at how these brave women are brushing off fear for the future of their country.

Competing to spread the message. In the aftermath of disaster, are tsunami-devastated areas becoming battlegrounds for faith?

Our special series, Conquering Depression. Tonight, electroshock therapy, a look at how this drastic treatment can cure the mind when all else fails.

And where's "The Passion"? Rave reviews, $600 million at the box office, but no best-picture nod by the Academy. Is Mel Gibson's movie being shut out by left-leaning critics?

Live from Baghdad, this is ANDERSON COOPER 360.

COOPER: And good evening again from Baghdad.

We begin this evening with a single image, a picture that we think captures this chaotic country at the crossroads. In the picture, you see a young boy in front of political posters. On the posters, the most influential cleric in the country, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, not a candidate for anything himself, but his endorsement means a lot to those who are running. He is white bearded, dressed in traditional clothing, a messenger from the past.

And then there is the boy. He might be a boy on any street anywhere. He faces, he is the future. Which way will this country go? The puzzle of this picture is what we are here to watch in Iraq this week.

Democracy has been declared the enemy by the Iraqi insurgents and by Islamic terrorists, and they have vowed to do anything they can to stop the elections from happening this weekend. In fact, they are, in some cases, handing out fliers like this one in the streets of Baghdad and other towns throughout Iraq. In the fliers, they say that the streets will be washed with the blood of anyone who dares to cast a vote.

And yet the streets in Baghdad all already have blood running through them.


COOPER (voice-over): A pool of blood glistened in the sun, a high-ranking judge assassinated, along with his son. Ten Iraqi police officers were gunned down elsewhere in Baghdad. Three died.

Intimidation is just one weapon used by insurgents. Propaganda is another. One terror group today released a hostage video showing this American, Roy Hallums, pleading for his life. We won't show you the tape, because we believe it only encourages more hostage taking. Hallums is an American contractor kidnapped November 1. His whereabouts right now aren't known.

Prime Minister Iyad Allawi, himself running for office, refused today to set a timetable for a U.S. pullout, and at another news conference, election officials told Iraqis how to vote.

IZZADEEN AL MOHAMMADI, INDEPENDENT ELECTION COMMISSIONER OF IRAQ: This ballot box will be positioned in such a location so you will not be able to see where the voter has signed.

COOPER: A simple lesson in a complex process, a process many Iraqi Shi'ites, at least, are embracing.

"Of course, I'll vote," says this Shi'ite man. "It's a historic opportunity for the Iraqi people. We suffered for decades with the dictatorships."

One voice of optimism, one man ready to cast his vote, no matter what the insurgents say.


COOPER: Back in Corona, California, the family of Roy Hallums, of course, was traumatized to see the video of Roy with that gun posted at his head. And yet in an odd way, they were relieved, they said, to at least know that he is alive.

Rusty Dornin is there.


RUSTY DORNIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For nearly three months, it's been the agony of not knowing. Roy Hallums' ex-wife, Susan, says she was in denial before she saw the video of her former husband pleading for his lifer.

SUSAN HALLUMS, EX-WIFE OF ROY HALLUMS: What hit me hardest was seeing the gun to his head.

DORNIN: Hallums, 56, was kidnapped November 1 from a well-to-do neighborhood in Baghdad along with five others. Four hostages were released, but Hallums and Robert Terengoy (ph), a Filipino accountant, are still being held by the kidnappers.

"Free Roy," that's the point of this Web site, photos and background on Roy Hallums' life, a labor of love by his 29-year-old daughter, Carrie, who is dedicated to keeping the spotlight on her dad.

For Carrie Cooper, the release of the video made her heart run cold. It's something she's been dreading.

CARRIE COOPER, HALLUMS' DAUGHTER: This doesn't make he hopeful. Seems like a lot of times, it doesn't have a good outcome when the video comes out.

DORNIN: Family members told CNN Hallums had a preexisting medical condition and are sure he has not been receiving the medication he needs. That, too, worries them.

CARRIE COOPER: He looked very ill, but, you know, they're definitely his gestures. You know, I'm a therapist, so, I mean, I can -- there was, there was, there was something strange too. I mean, he, obviously, he was under a lot of duress.

DORNIN: Described as a loving, caring father and grandfather, Hallums has worked much of his life overseas. Despite the fact they are divorced, Susan Hallums kept in close touch with her ex-husband by e-mail before his kidnapping.

HALLUMS: You never lose hope when you loving -- loves -- and care about someone, and absolutely hope. And I just hope our government does something to help this extremely horrible situation.

DORNIN: A situation that has this family putting new pressure on U.S. officials to secure Roy Hallums' release.


DORNIN: His daughter Carrie and his former wife, Susan, really want to take advantage of this incredible publicity generated by the release of this video. They flew to New York just a few hours ago, and they plan to make the round of the network talk shows in the morning, hoping to keep that spotlight hot.

Now, here at the home in Corona, California, you can see a large blue ribbon. Traditionally, in hostage situations, they are yellow. But the family wanted to add a personal touch, because Roy Hallums' favorite color is blue, Anderson.

COOPER: All right, Rusty Dornin, thanks very much, from Corona, California, tonight.

You know, if this was the United States in the days before a major election like this, you would expect to see candidates campaigning door to door. The security situation here, of course, does not allow that. Most candidates are keeping a very low profile.

That is particularly true for the women candidates, and there are many women candidates.

CNN's chief international correspondent, Christiane Amanpour, is here.

You spent time talking to some of these female candidates. I mean, what they are facing is extraordinarily difficult.

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It is. I mean, this is such an abnormal election, if you like. It's almost like a stealth campaign, and specifically for the women, because they face a danger that's not just political, but also for women, it's not usual to go around and campaign. And there are a lot of people who, we're told, just look at them and wonder what they're doing on the street anyway.

So while a lot of them are screwing their courage together, they dare to run, they don't actually dare to be seen, sometimes not even on camera.


AMANPOUR (voice-over): Balsam Hashim al-Hilli has come back from 35 years in exile to run in Iraq's election.

Workers are still fixing up the electricity and the plumbing in the home she uses as an office. Her walls are festooned with cheerful campaign posters. But this is how she has to campaign, by phone.

BALSAM AL-HILLI, CANDIDATE, NATION PARTY: Well, of course, because a lot of women don't walk alone in the street, they're afraid of being kidnapped. Not because for political reasons, but also because -- for ransom, you know, people ask for money. So that's a very big problem.

AMANPOUR: Election TV ads feature women and encourage them to participate and vote. Election organizers have mandated that 30 percent of the candidates must be women.

(on camera): The violence and political terrorism here have struck this election campaign hard. Neither the candidates nor the election workers can move around freely. They operate like underground cells, especially the women, who were targeted even before the campaign started.

(voice-over): Since the fall of Saddam, several women in Iraq's various transition governments have been assassinated. So have female engineers, university professors, and schoolteachers. It has a chilling effect.

In the Shi'ite stronghold of Najaf, these six women announced to the press that they would be running in the elections. But Najaf is not as dangerous as Baghdad, where, like many female candidates, this one will not reveal her name or her face. All we can say is that she belongs to the main Shi'ite party, the United Iraqi alliance. That's been attacked several times. She's afraid, but determined.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's my responsibility. I'm responsible to everyone. I am a woman. I should be involved in the political life.

AMANPOUR: Balsam is equally committed.

AL-HILLI: I came back because my roots are here. And I want to come back to my roots, even though I've lived for 35 years abroad. But to be honest, even when I dream, I always dreamt of the house I was born in.

AMANPOUR: It's not a normal election, they say, but they hope it will be a start.


COOPER: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) are some of these female candidates about the rise of Islamic fundamentalism here?

AMANPOUR: Well, to be honest with you, they are quite, quite a lot of the Iraqis are worried about that. Even though the election law insists that there should be no theocratic state, no influence of Iran, some of the people are worried, because they know that the big Shi'ite parties are backed by the big religious leaders. And that's what's going to get out the big Shi'ite vote. They make the majority of the population here.

And some of the women are worried that they're going to slowly have to start wearing the veil, that it's going to creepingly become...

COOPER: Right.

AMANPOUR: ... sort of fundamentalist, like Iran next door. Of course, the rules are that that shouldn't happen, but you can't help some people feeling a little bit afraid, women particularly.

COOPER: Absolutely. All right, well, the vote is this week. And Christiane, thanks very much.

Let's have a quick news note, though. There are many people who are eligible to vote in this election, not those who, not just those Iraqis who live here, Iraqi expatriates, people who live in the United States and all around the world. But the numbers of Iraqis overseas who are registering to vote hasn't quite lived up to what some people had thought.

Let's take a quick look at this fast fact. About 255,000 Iraqis, expats, so far who have registered to vote. Now, that is less than 25 percent of the million or so Iraqi expats who are actually eligible to vote. In the United States, about 10 percent of Iraqis there have registered to vote.

A lot of other news that we're following. Let's go back to Heidi Collins in New York for that. Heidi?

HEIDI COLLINS, HOST: All right, Anderson. Thank you.

The Senate debates Condoleezza Rice's cabinet nomination, and that tops our look at news now cross-country.

The Senate is expected to vote tomorrow on whether Rice should become the next secretary of state. Some Democrats, led by Senator Ted Kennedy, are criticizing Rice for her role in developing a rationale for going to war in Iraq. But other Democrats, including Senator Joe Lieberman, are joining Republicans in support of Rice's nomination.

Boston, Massachusetts, terror hoax. The FBI says last week's reported dirty-bomb plot against Boston involving suspected Chinese illegal immigrants was a false alarm. Mexican officials say two suspected smugglers admitted the plot was made up as part of a squabble.

Rochester Hills, Michigan, basketball in a different kind of court. A district court held pretrial hearings today for the five Detroit Pistons fans and five Indiana Pacers players facing charges related to that brawl at a November game. Another spectator who went onto the basketball court during the melee pleaded no contest to charges yesterday.

Providence, Rhode Island, "Survivor" star in court. Richard Hatch, the first winner of the reality series, was arraigned today on tax evasion charges. Hatch allegedly failed to report the $1 million he won on "Survivor," plus other earnings from the show and radio appearances.

Phoenix, Arizona, dirty water. City officials are urging residents to drink bottled water or boil their tap water. One of the city's treatment plants had been swamped with muddy water during the heavy storms earlier this month. Three other plants also down, but for different reasons.

And that's a look at stories cross-country tonight.

360 next, police fire away more than 70 times at a man with no weapon, with his hands above his head. Was it excessive force? Judge for yourself. We have the video.

Plus, tsunami aid, with strings attached. Militant Islamists and evangelical Christians battle for the souls of victims.

Also tonight, electroshock therapy. Desperate patients turn to extreme measures to conquer depression, part of our special series.

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


COLLINS: That videotape shows police in Tucson, Arizona, firing pellets filled with pepper powder at a 29-year-old man. Police say they were trying to subdue him. He claims he did nothing wrong.

CNN's Eric Philips looks at the confrontation that was caught on tape.


ERIC PHILIPS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): His hands on his head, Gabriel Gandara endures as Tucson police officers fire scores of pepper balls at him, about 80 in all.

It was Saturday night, and authorities pulled over the car Gandara and two others were in. Police say the 29-year-old suspect had been involved in a fight at a nearby restaurant, where shots were fired.

GABRIEL GANDARA, SUSPECT: The first thing I tried to do was try to go to the officer and explain to them that I had just been shot at. And all I hear is, Get down! Get down! Get down!

PHILIPS: Officers say he ignored commands to get down, and they thought they saw a gun. So they opened fire using a nonlethal weapon called an SA200 that shoots small, round pellets carrying pepper powder. The balls burst open on contact, burning the eyes and choking the victim.

GANDARA: I had my hands up on my head, because they told me, Put your hands on your head. And they told me, Turn around. And when I was turning around, they kept shooting at me. I try to lay down, they keep shooting at me.

PHILIPS: Police they said they kept firing because Gandara ignored commands to spread his arms away from his head.

SGT. ARDAN DEVINE, TUCSON POLICE: The way the training is set up is, you apply and reassess. And then if necessary, you reapply, and you continue replying -- reapplying until you gain compliance.

PHILIPS: Officers subdued Gandara. No weapon was found. But they did find marijuana. He was charged with assault, drug possession, and resisting arrest. Still, with bruises all over his body, Gandara says officers used excessive force.

GANDARA: I think they went way too far, way too far. Because, I mean, they could have had me from the beginning. And they didn't even have to pull out that -- the pepper bomb.

PHILIPS: Police say they're reviewing the incident to determine whether appropriate force was used.

Eric Philips, CNN, Atlanta.


COLLINS: Four Brits held at Gitmo are arrested when they return home. That tops our look at global stories in the uplink. London, England, police arrested the men immediately after they landed in Britain today. They're investigating any possible links between the former detainees and terrorist groups. The four men spent three years at the U.S. military camp at Guantanamo Bay.

Berlin, Germany, shame for the Holocaust. Today German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder said Germans must remember the horrors of the Nazi era and counter enemies of tolerance. He spoke at a ceremony for the 60th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp.

Why India? Deadly stampede. At least 215 people, mostly women and children, were killed when pilgrims panicked on a crowded, narrow road leading to a Hindu shrine. witnesses say a few impatient devotees started the chaos by pushing through the crowds. Others then became angry and set buildings on fire.

Sydney, Australia, is someone bugging Nicole Kidman? Kidman's security officers have found a listening device across the street from her home. And police are now are now examining surveillance footage that allegedly shows a man planting it there. Kidman is back home in Australia to prepare for an upcoming film.

And that's tonight's uplink.

Throughout the countries destroyed by the tsunami, aid workers from all over the world continue to reach out to survivors. They're doing it with food, water, and, in some cases, the Bible. Religious groups have joined the army of caregivers trying to save tsunami victims in more ways than one.

CNN's Atika Shubert reports.


ATIKA SHUBERT, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Morning roll call for the Islamic Defenders Front, the militant Indonesian group, better known for threatening bars and nightspots than providing disaster relief, one of many religious aid groups flooding into Aceh from around the world.

"Our primary role is to collect bodies and clean mosques," this spokesman says, "but we are also watching over the sons and daughters of Aceh to make sure they aren't polluted with foreign thinking."

Collecting the dead, it seems, is just one concern. Proselytizing is another. This man tells villagers, We won't let the children of Aceh be kidnapped and brainwashed and turned into Jews. Villagers seem unsure of how to react.

Evangelical Christian groups are also flocking in, importing their own fevered rhetoric with the help of translators.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Listen to me, people of Banda Aceh. You may have experienced this devastation, but we have a hope and a future in the Lord Jesus Christ... SHUBERT: Even Aceh's small Christian community seems bemused.

(on camera): Aceh is a devoutly Muslim province, once isolated from the world. But this disaster has opened the door to international aid of all kinds, and all different religions, unwittingly making Aceh a battleground of faith.

(voice-over): That just makes it more difficult for Dr. Michael Gecy-Black. He works at a church-based clinic but spends all his time treating Muslims.

DR. MICHAEL GECY-BLACK, WORKS AT CHURCH-BASED CLINIC: I'm not trying to proselytize, you know, my spirituality onto them. And maybe, you know, pray to Allah or God or whoever you want to for strength.

SHUBERT: That attitude seems to suit many Acehnese just fine.

"We are very happy for the help," this patient told us. "In the face of God, we are all the same, even as we practice our own faiths."

Practical help from people of any faith, it seems, is well received.

Atika Shubert, CNN, Banda Aceh, Indonesia.


COLLINS: One tsunami survivor's dreams that his missing child was alive have come true. Here's a news note now. Truck driver in Indonesia was reunited yesterday with his 5-year-old daughter. He spent weeks searching for her, and finally came across her name on an aid group list. You can see how happy he is on his face there. The reunion, though, is a bit bittersweet. The girl's mother is still missing.

360 next, Anderson Cooper live in Baghdad with Christiane Amanpour on tracking down violent insurgents.

Also tonight, electroshock therapy. It's not just a scene from "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest." Find out why desperate patients are turning to this extreme therapy to conquer depression, part of our special series.

And a little later, snubbing "The Passion." Did Hollywood politics leave Mel Gibson's big hit out in the cold? We're covering all the angles.


COOPER: Well, with the elections here in Baghdad just five days away, there is no doubt there will be more bloodshed, there will be more violence before the election takes place, and likely for weeks and months, if not years, afterward.

Many American soldiers here, though, are finding that they go on patrol day after day, night after night. Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, there are U.S. forces on patrol. A lot of the work is boring, a lot of it is dull, but every now and then, they come across a cache of weapons, and they feel they've done something good.

Here's a look at some work the 1st Cavalry did just two nights ago.


COOPER (voice-over): It's the kind of night that makes all the difficult days worthwhile. In several small houses in southeastern Baghdad, soldiers discover a stockpile of terror, IEDs, improvised explosive devices, cell phones rigged to explode. All you have to do is dial the number and watch the carnage.

Artillery shells, the kind linked into explosive daisy chains. Using a metal detector, soldiers uncover five plastic barrels, a cache of RPG launchers, rockets, AK-47s. They also discover uniforms and ski masks, the kind worn by Iraqi police.

Soldiers believe this is a resupply safe house for insurgents. They detain several suspects, impound the weapons, and get ready for yet another day, another patrol to begin.


COOPER: And CNN's chief international correspondent, Christiane Amanpour, joins me now.

Let's talk about the insurgency a little bit. I mean, this weekend, Abu Mousab al-Zarqawi made a statement, or at least a tape purported to be from him, declaring war on these elections, saying democracy is the enemy. They're not going to be able to stop the elections.

AMANPOUR: No, they're not going to be able to stop the elections, and that was made clear for months leading up. You know, all these political parties have wanted to postpone them, but the Americans and the current Iraqi government said, No, we've got to go ahead.

I think what's happening is, American commanders on the ground have changed their attitude towards these terrorists or insurgents. They're now much more openly calling them insurgents. They say, At least we know what we're fighting now. Before we used to call them dead-enders, rebellious former regime elements, just resisting. But these are insurgents.

So they sort of, I think, changed their attitude to trying to get them to working with the Iraqi forces, to making Iraqi forces try to be the sort of tip of the spear in trying to get them, because they know more about who's who, what's what, who's a stranger in the neighborhood. They can speak the language, recognize the faces.

They are casting a wide net right now to try to grab as many as they can, and hundreds, if not thousands, have been arrested. Of course, they're not all insurgents, and many have had to be released. But ahead of the elections, they're putting a lot of people in jail.

COOPER: I was surprised, I mean, I haven't been here since June. I was surprised at, you know, there was a lot of talk back in June of putting an Iraqi face on the security forces here. I was surprised that you really don't see that many U.S. soldiers on the streets any more. More and more, it's manning checkpoints, it is Iraqi soldiers, Iraqi national guard.

AMANPOUR: Well, they're definitely trying to do that. And they're even changing the names. The national guard is becoming the Iraqi army now. And they're trying to beef that up. As you know, it's one of the most controversial aspects of the American deployment right now. There's a lot of complaints that this force is not being got up, stood up fast enough.

And it's true. It's not being stood up fast enough. So this is one of their main efforts now to increase the training, to increase the quality of the Iraqi forces, to increase the quality of what the Americans are giving them in terms of equipment, body armor, weapons, ammunition.

And they're going to start a new training process, or at least they're going to refine it, by putting a lot more American advisers to embed, so to speak, with Iraqi units as they're (UNINTELLIGIBLE)...

COOPER: And that could last for a year or two...

AMANPOUR: Oh, yes.

COOPER: ... I mean, (UNINTELLIGIBLE), a long time with each unit.

AMANPOUR: Yes. Yes, they want to go through the whole training period as a joint team. And they've even got joint headquarters right now. It's sort of starting that this is going to be the challenge. This is America's exit strategy, to get a force up and running that can take over from what the U.S. is now having to do. Because as much as they want to put Iraqis in the front line, especially for the elections, there's no way that the Iraqis are expected to take the full responsibility for security. And American forces are just going to be two seconds away.

COOPER: Christine Amanpour, thanks very much. We'll be right back.

ANNOUNCER: Our special series, "Conquering Depression." Tonight electroshock therapy. A look at how this drastic treatment can cure the mind when all else fails.

And where's "The Passion." Rave reviews, 600 million at the box office, but no best picture nod by the Academy. Is Mel Gibson's moving being shut out by left leaning critics?

360 continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) COLLINS: A dramatic scene from the film "A Beautiful Mind," where Russell Crowe plays a brilliant, mentally unstable mathematician undergoing shock therapy to rid him of his delusions. Tonight in our series, "Conquering Depression," you maybe shocked to learn that shock therapy is still being used to day. Is it barbaric or perhaps the most human treatment for someone who is so depressed that nothing else works.

CNN's Gary Tuchman looks at the risk and benefits of todays more modern shock therapy.


GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A life spent in misery.

DAVID SCHAAT, ECT PATIENT: I'm bipolar, so I have manic- depression.

TUCHMAN: David Schaat has considered killing himself. He's know in a Utah hospital as a last resort -- about to undergo a psychiatric procedure that has long carried a stigma. It's best known as electroshock therapy. Electrically shocking the brain to produce a seizure.


TUCHMAN: A procedure many only know from it's portrayal by most by Jack Nicholson in the movie "One Flew Over the Coo Coo's Nest."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's understandable to see why people might think that this is a bit like the Frankenstein monster in the castle on the hill. We have an image problem, but the realty is not that at all.

TUCHMAN: This is the realty say the doctors treating David Schaat.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This will be the stimulation itself, and his face will flinch.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... direct muscle stimulation on the face.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now, he's having a seizure.

TUCHMAN: The seizure lasts just over 30 seconds. Anesthesia stops David from convulsing anything like Jack Nicholson. Doctors aren't exactly sure why the treatment, also called electroconvulsive therapy or ECT works, but...

DR. LOWRY BUSHNELL, UNIV. OF UTAH, NEUROPYSCHIATRIC INSTITUTE: It seems as though the closest thing it is is the equivalent of rebooting the brain operating system.

CHERYL SHERMAN, ETC PATIENT: I've been on medication for years and it doesn't work. TUCHMAN: Cheryl Sherman, is also undergoing ECT.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She's having her seizure at this point.

TUCHMAN: The Wyoming resident says, she once bought a machete to end a life she felt was no longer worth living.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ETC is done on over 100,000 people here in the United States. Many, many of those people would not survive without it, and those that did, most would have tragic lives.

TUCHMAN: Leonard Roy Frank, doesn't buy any of it. He was forced to undergo ECT 42-years-ago when the shock was harsher. He says years of his memory were completely erased.

LEONARD ROY FRANK, FORMER ECT PATIENT: This is an effective way of destroying personality, destroying consciousness, stripping consciousness.

TUCHMAN (on camera): State legislators throughout the country, including here in Utah, have received proposals asking for electroconvulsive therapy to be banned. Bills have been passed imposing some limitations. But so far, no state has declared ECT as illegal.

(voice-over): Cheryl Sherman says she has some minor memory loss, but feels better than she can remember.

(on camera): Does it scare you that you feel so good?

SHERMAN: It's kind of unnerving, because you expect the other shoe to drop -- and have it all go to hell on you.

TUCHMAN: This is also new for the Schaat family.

SCHAAT: It's brought a lot of new emotions. A lot of euphoric feelings, happy feelings that I'm not used to having.

TUCHMAN: The treatment does not come with a lifetime guarantee. It does come for many, though, with a great deal of hope.

Gary Tuchman, CNN, Salt Lake City, Utah.


COLLINS: Dr. Harold Sackheim believes electroconvulsive therapy can provide that help for many patients. He's the chief of the Department of Biological Psychiatry at the New York State Psychiatric Institute and a professor at Columbia University. He joins us now.

Let me just ask you, we know that this is not a cure for chronic mental depression, so why do it?

What is it supposed to do?

DR. HAROLD SACKHEIM, CHIEF OF DEPT. BIOLOGICAL PSYCHIATRY: Unfortunately, none of our treatments in psychiatry are cures. That at best what we can offer is symptom relief. We can make people -- help people feel better. And for people who come to ECT, they are so profoundly ill, so profoundly depressed, really wishing that life were over, that that can be turned around. People can be given new hope.

COLLINS: We did see those different stories in Gary Tuchman's piece there talking about trying to end their lives. So, how common is it then to use what we're calling ECT.

SACKHEIM: Well, in the United States, the estimates are that about 100,000 patients receive ECT every year. Because the treatment involves a series of treatments, that makes ECT more common that appendectomy, coronary bypass and even hernia repair.

COLLINS: So, who -- who makes a good candidate then. We've already determined that this chronic, I mean, severe mental depression.

SACKHEIM: There are two main considerations in thinking about ETC for an individual. The first is, how severe the depression is? How bad is it? And how has the individual done with other treatments?

Ironically, ECT is a very unusual treatment, because the people who have the most severe illness and often those who haven't done well with previous treatment tend to do well with ECT.

COLLINS: So, talk a little bit about this misconception of it. Maybe it was years ago, and we've heard one of the people, only Gary's story, talking about 40-years-ago, he had electroshock. Some people may think that you get the shock, and then the treatment is over. But this is not true. I would imagine there's quite a bit of follow-up.

SACKHEIM: As we had indicated, because our treatments help with symptom relief but are not cures. Most of the serious psychiatric illnesses require long-term treatment afterwards. And so ECT is done to get you through the crisis, to get you out of that very serious depression, and then other things, like treatment with medication, psychotherapy, and sometimes additional ECT are used to help people maintain that well-being.

COLLINS: But there is quite a margin, isn't there, for how much it will help or hurt people? I mean, we've got the National Mental Health Association saying that the results of ECT are either damage for life, or you're saving the life. So how do you find just the right therapy for these individuals?

SACKHEIM: Well, I think that's a very important question, Heidi, and the question is, how bad can the damage be with ECT? What do you have to give up, and how common is that? ECT has undergone remarkable progress over the last several decades, and we're now at the point for the vast majority of people where the effects on thinking and memory are truly minimal. Just within the last two years, a new form of ECT has been introduced that radically changes the effects on cognition.

Now, there may still be, like with any treatment in medicine, individuals who are going to have severe side effects, that there's always a risk of that, but what we can say is we have really reduced that markedly for a typical patient who goes through ECT.

COLLINS: We appreciate your time here very much, Dr. Harold Sackheim, offering some hope for some patients. Thanks so much.

SACKHEIM: Thank you.

COLLINS: And tomorrow night on our special series, "Conquering Depression," breaking the silence on pregnancy and depression. The risks, the treatments, tomorrow on 360.

Meanwhile, 360 next. Now badly injured in a plane crash and miles from anywhere, but somehow he makes it out alive, for the amazing story of survival.

Plus, no Oscar passion. Why didn't Mel Gibson's movie get a major category nomination?

And hopes and fears on the streets of Baghdad. Anderson takes Iraq's focus to "The Nth Degree."



PETER DELEO, PLANE CRASH SURVIVOR: I just spent 13 days trying to get out, and you know, it was a hollow victory. You know, it was so empty. It was -- it was -- I think, you know, disappointment is not the word. I was just crushed.


COLLINS: It's been 10 years since a small plane carrying Peter DeLeo and his two friends crashed in the Sierra Nevada mountains. But as you just saw, DeLeo is still feeling the pain.

After the crash, he left his friends to go on a dangerous journey to get them help, but when rescuers came, he was too late. Now, Peter DeLeo is telling his harrowing tale in a new book called "Survive!" This is his story.


DELEO: We were going up there to take pictures of the fresh snowfall. Because it's just a gorgeous thing to be able to do and fly over, and it's a beautiful country.

COLLINS (voice-over): It was supposed to be a perfect day. On November 27th, 1994, three friends took to the skies over California's Sierra Nevada mountains, but it all went horribly wrong.

DELEO: We were flying at about 12,000 feet, just south of Mt. Whitney. The plane -- we encountered severe turbulence. The plane basically got cartwheeled through the air and we were forced to make a crash landing, at 8,800 feet up high on a mountain.

COLLINS: Buried in the snow, badly injured and miles from anywhere, pilot Peter DeLeo and passengers Lloyd Matsumoto and Wave Hatch knew they had to find a way down the mountain, or they would surely die.

DELEO: After that, we made a survival pact. After we were able to basically break out of the plane before it burst into flames. We made a survival pact. And my responsibility was to hike across the wilderness, hike out of the Sierras.

I did have a lot of -- I broke 16 bones. I busted seven ribs. I busted four bones in my shoulder and pulled it out of the socket, and my left ankle shattered in five places.

COLLINS: At 34, he was the youngest and fittest of the three men, and so, despite the pain and the fear, Peter DeLeo set out on his desperate mission.

DELEO: The plane went down on a Sunday. That following Saturday, the Sierras got hit with a storm, it had dumped five feet of fresh snow. I was up about 9,000 feet high up on a mountain, and I was stuck inside a tree trunk for two days. I was scared. You know, I was really scared. I was busted up. And I just tried to try my hardest to stay focused. And it was so hard. Every time I took a footstep, I'd be farther away from Wave and Lloyd, and I just felt so alone.

COLLINS: After 12 days, alone, freezing, exhausted, finally, a glimmer of hope.

DELEO: I was on the western side of (UNINTELLIGIBLE) peak, it was at night, and I thought I was going to die. I thought I was going to -- I had no more strength. I was down to about 115 pounds. I had been eating nothing but bugs. And I just didn't have anything more, and the wind was just whirling, just whistling away. And I had nothing left. And I finally saw a light, a man-made light coming from the valley.

COLLINS: That light led him to safety, but his mission wasn't over yet.

DELEO: I knew they weren't going to find the plane. They've been looking for two weeks. It was in a dense forest. You could only see it from one angle. So you know, I just fought with them, and then we got in a search plane.

COLLINS: Sadly, it was too late to save Wave Hatch and Lloyd Matsumoto.

DELEO: I spent 13 days trying to get out, and you know, it was a hollow victory. You know, it was so empty. It was -- it was -- you know, disappointment is not the word. I was just crushed.

COLLINS: And while he mourns the loss of his friends, Peter DeLeo remembers the lesson this tragedy has taught him.

DELEO: Living through something like that is so grand that it -- you never forget it. And it's always with you. And every day I wake up, I'm just excited to be alive.


COLLINS: Peter DeLeo. The book is called "Survive!"

A look now at what's coming up at the top of the hour with Paula Zahn. Hi, Paula.

PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: Hi, Heidi, how are you doing tonight. We're going to talk movies tonight and politics. "The Passion of the Christ" was the No. 3 box office hit last year, but at today's Oscar nominations, it was shut out of the major awards categories. Tonight, did Hollywood snub Mel Gibson's epic?

Then, he changed the way we dress, the way we look. The one and only Giorgio Armani speaks out right here. Hoe you stay tuned, Heidi.

COLLINS: I'll take a suit, if I can put in an order right now.

ZAHN: We all will.

COLLINS: Paula, thank you for that.

ZAHN: Dozens of them.

COLLINS: You bet.

360 next now. We will go back to Baghdad, where the fears of bombs and bloodshed mixed with ballots has everyone on edge. Anderson takes that to "The Nth Degree."


COLLINS: Some would say maybe it had a shot if it was submitted as best foreign language film. There will be plenty of heat come Oscar night. There won't be much passion at least the kind Mel Gibson was looking for. Next month, when the envelopes for best picture are opened his movie about you know who will be M.I.A. CNN entertainment correspondent Sibila Vargas has more now from Los Angeles.


SIBILA VARGAS, CNN ENTERTAINMENT CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): If the Academy gave an award for most talked about film of the year, "The Passion of the Christ" would have won that Oscar category. But big buzz didn't translate into recognition from the Academy's 5,800 voting members.

BRUCE DAVIS, ACADEMY OF MOTION PICTURE ARTS & SCIENCES: Clearly Academy members were looking at the film, and showed a lot of respect for it but didn't see it as one of the absolute top artistic accomplishments of the year.

VARGAS: Mel Gibson's controversial film did get three nominations but was absent from the major categories including best picture. MICHAEL SPEIER, "VARIETY": There's no way on earth that a group of people, thousands of people who vote for the Academy Awards or vote for the nominations or hundreds of people in any kind of organization are going to agree on a movie about Jesus Christ. That just won't happen.

VARGAS: And they didn't despite taking $370 million in the U.S. alone, the third highest grossing movie of 2004. Some are now asking if Academy voters, 80 percent of whom live around Los Angeles are disconnected from the moviegoing public.

Conservative filmmaker Jason Apuzzo thinks so.

JASON APUZZO, LIBERTY FILM FESTIVAL FOUNDER: Box popular. You know, power to the people. I get so much e-mail at our website. People posted so many comments about just this stuff. They're not talking about "Finding Neverland." They're not just interested. "Sideways" nobody is interested. I'm sorry.

SPEIER: There are only five spots for best picture. The argument could be made that this just wasn't one of the best movies of the year when it came down to it.

VARGAS: Awards aside, "The Passion" has taught Hollywood something about films with a religious viewpoint.

APUZZO: These films are addressing aspects of people's lives that mainstream Hollywood isn't addressing and the marketplace will flock to that kind of stuff and they already have.


VARGAS: Also interesting to point out that unlike many other producers and directors that campaign furiously for best picture noms, Mel Gibson declined to because he felt that the film should stand on artistic merit alone. So perhaps that could have also been a factor in why it wasn't nominated as well -- Heidi.

COLLINS: All right. Sibila Vargas live from Los Angeles tonight. Also this news note now. The other politically charged film of the year, "Fahrenheit 9/11" also snubbed by Oscar. It was completely shut out by the Academy receiving zero nominations.

And now back once again to Anderson in Baghdad.

COOPER: Heidi, we'll be coming back on 360 with a look at bombs and bullets the true focus of life here in Iraq.


COOPER: Tonight, taking focus to the Nth Degree. It's certainly not a good feeling to be frightened most of the time as anyone here in Baghdad or too many places around the world can tell you. But fear does have one remarkable side effect. It causes the most amazing sharpening of the senses.


(voice-over): When a bomb may go off at any moment or a shot ring out, or a car screech up, when something may fall out of the sky or off a roof or a shout may make you spin in your tracks, when you literally don't know because you can't know what may happen next, you find yourself becoming very alert indeed. Very keen, most astonishingly alive to every movement and shape and sound. You cock your head. You really listen, you really look around, over and below things. Sometimes you almost look through things.

And yet you're always ready, the way a sparrow might be or a deer instantly to be gone. Being in a place like Baghdad gives you a pretty good understanding of the way things work in the animal kingdom. The way things work between predator and prey. That's it for me tonight from Baghdad. Let's go now to Paula Zahn in New York -- Paula.


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