Skip to main content


Return to Transcripts main page


Presidential Address; Vanished in Aruba; Shark Attacks; Fort Bragg & Iraq

Aired June 28, 2005 - 19:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Convince the American public he has a plan to win the war.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: A free and democratic Iraq in the heart of the Middle East will help the United States.


COOPER: What's happening in Aruba? Two suspects in Natalee's disappearance walk free.


BETH HOLLOWAY TWITTY, NATALEE HOLLOWAY'S MOTHER: I was devastated. I felt like we worked so hard for a month. I can't believe it was ripped away from me.


COOPER: Tonight, the latest from Aruba. Has Natalee's trail gone cold?

And two vicious shark attacks in three days.


ERICH RITTER, SHARK EXPERT: You could not even tell where one bite ends, another one starts.


COOPER: Tonight, are bull sharks off the coast of Florida hunting for humans?

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

COOPER: Thanks for joining us.

In a moment, we're going to take you to Aruba for some ominous developments in the case of Natalee Holloway. But first we want to show you the scene in Ft. Bragg, North Carolina. President Bush will speak there tonight addressing the nation and address about Iraq. Now the broadcast networks have been hemming and hawing about whether or not to play the president's speech live. We, of course, are going to bring it to you live. Paula Zahn and Wolf Blitzer will be anchoring that in about an hour. Wolf joins us now in Washington.

Wolf, I know it's coming on the six-month anniversary of elections in Iraq, but speaking directly to the nations is rare for this president. Why is he doing it now? What's the real story?

WOLF BLITZER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Because he and his political advisors are looking at the same poll numbers that all of us are looking at, Anderson, and those poll numbers are not good right now. But beyond the poll numbers, they're also hearing from their friends. A lot of Republicans, for example, are saying, Mr. President, you have to go and explain to the American people what's going on. Many of these Republicans, and certainly a lot of Democrats, when they go back home in their districts or in their states, they're being hammered. They're being asked the tough questions about this daily surge of violence that all of us see on the TV screens and read about in our newspapers. They want to know what's going on.

So the president, under a lot of pressure, decided he has to speak directly to the American people. That's why he's going to be speaking in about an hour from Ft. Bragg in North Carolina.

COOPER: All right, Wolf, we're going to have a lot of coverage on this over the course of the next hour. We'll talk to you in a little bit.

Wolf Blitzer, thanks very much, standing by for us in Washington.

As we said, extensive coverage of the president's address coming up tonight.

But first we want to get you up to speed on developments in Aruba. Today the mother of missing teenager Natalee Holloway couldn't contain her anger or her frustration for that matter, and you can understand why, that a judge in Aruba was released on Sunday after police said they had no sufficient suspicion for guilt. Those were their terms. Here's what Beth Holloway Twitty told CNN.


BETH HOLLOWAY TWITTY, NATALIE HOLLOWAY'S MOTHER: I was devastated. I felt like we worked so hard for a month. I mean, you know, we were here at 11:00 p.m. on the 30th and we worked so hard or (ph) where we were. And I can't believe it was ripped away from me.


COOPER: How that woman is holding up, I don't know. Beth Holloway Twitty also says she feels like she is back to square one after all the work she's put in.

Let's remember yesterday was the four-week anniversary of Natalee Holloway's disappearance. Three suspects are still in custody but Natalee hasn't been found and the investigation does seem to be slowing. Now we've learned an awful lot about Natalee's last known steps. But the suspects stories have changed while their in custody. So we asked our Karl Penhaul to take what we know and retrace Natalee's last hours. Take a look.


KARL PENHAUL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: According to the attorney for one of the men, all said in recent statements, this is the spot where Joran van der Sloot and Natalee got out of the car and headed off alone. By then it was 1:50 a.m. It would have been a night like tonight. A warm, tropical breeze is blowing out onto the ocean.

It's been 28 days of full lunar cycle since Natalee vanished. The moon above me now would have been exactly the same that night. It's bright enough to cast my shadow on the sand.

It could have been romantic if something had not gone terribly wrong. Even at 3:00 a.m., there are a few couples and late night revelers still around. Exactly what happened, we still don't know.

Investigators say they've checked cell phone and internet records from that night. Based on those records, Satish Kalpoe's attorney, David Kock, says Joran van der Sloot phoned Deepak Kalpoe between 2:30 and 2:40.

I'm walking the same route Joran van der Sloot would have taken that night if this version of his story is true. I set off from the beach about 20 minutes ago. As you can see, there are stores and banks and some of them have closed circuit security cameras. Prosecutors have said security camera footage has been checked, but they declined to say if the tapes from these businesses were viewed and if there's any sign of van der Sloot.

I'm taking a shortcut on this dirt track. Seemed to have woken up some of the local dogs. It's taken me about 36 minutes to walk from the beach right up to Joran van der Sloot's front gate. It's likely that by the time he arrived most of the neighbors were asleep as they seem to be now. From what we know, there are no eyewitnesses who saw him reach home.

Assuming Joran van der Sloot did walk and text messaged Deepak Kalpoe as soon as he arrived, it would make it about 3:20 a.m. According to the Kock, internet records show Deepak Kalpoe was web surfing when the message came through. Kock says his client Satish was asleep. His mother, Nadira Ramirez, backs that up.

NADIRA RAMIREZ, SATISH KALPOE'S MOTHER: I just opened the door silently. I peak. I saw Deepak's room closed. I peak. I saw the car and I went back to back.

PENHAUL: Van der Sloot's attorneys, Antonio Carlo, declined to talk to us for this report, but Kock has seen van der Sloot's statements to investors and says he's changed his story several times since his arrest. Claiming first Deepak Kalpoe picked him up from the beach after he left Natalee. Then saying it was Satish Kalpoe. In another version of the story, Joran van der Sloot said he walked home. What is certain is that all three young men, at least initially, cooked up a lie to cover their tracks once they realized Natalee was missing. What's still far from clear is whether they played a role in her disappearance.


PENHAUL: We're now in week five of the search for Natalee and so far police have given us no hard evidence to show whether Natalee's alive or dead. And they've certainly not given us any clue as to any possible motive if something terribly wrong did happen and if these three boys had something to do with that, Anderson.

COOPER: Joran has changed his story, as you reported. Do we know what he is now claiming? Whether he walked home or is he still claiming that one of the Kalpoe brothers picked him up? Or do we not know?

PENHAUL: We understand that he's been changing his story as further evidence and records have been presented to him. And so now with this final record that was presented to him, the text message, he's finally held his hand up, we understand, and said, no, I, in fact, walked home.


COOPER: But as you said, there are police cameras, there are video cameras from banks and stores but they're not - the authorities aren't saying whether or not they checked them?

PENHAUL: The authorities say they have checked some video footage. What we do understand from a legal source, not the investigators themselves, that police may not have got around to trying to check those video records of security cameras along Joran's route home until too late, until the store owners, in fact, had wiped the footage from those video cameras, Anderson.

COOPER: That's unbelievable if that is, in fact, the case.

Karl Penhaul, appreciate that report.

When we come back, the judge's son and Natalee Holloway. He's accused of lying to police. He's changed his story under arrest. But are folks in Aruba now coming to his defense? CNN's Rick Sanchez is there. We'll talk to him.

Also ahead tonight, what is up with the Florida shark attacks? The perfect killing machine strikes twice in three days. But is it safe to go back in the water? Some are.

And let's take you to a live report right now - live picture right there from Ft. Bragg, North Carolina, where we are awaiting President Bush's speech. That will be at around 8:00. Our special coverage of that begins shortly.

Be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Well just moments ago we retraced the final hours before Natalee Holloway vanished in Aruba. And she spent much of that night with 17-year-old Joran van der Sloot, a judges son, who is suspected of killing Natalee. He hasn't been charged yet. CNN's Rick Sanchez is live in Aruba.

Rick, the guy has changed his story several times. According to his mom he's now saying, yes, he was on the beach with Natalee but he left her there drunk, alive. Does he have a lot of support in Aruba?

RICK SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I would say he doesn't. Most of the people here that you talk to refer to him as, oh, the Dutch guy. And then they go on to explain that I think they're a bit perturbed about the fact that it took 10 days for him to be arrested while there were two security guards that were arrested right away. Obviously that hasn't sat well with a lot of people here on the island.

And the story's unfolded, as you said, and as Karl was saying just moments ago, it's obvious that there's a real disparity from his original story. I go back to the real original conversations that I had, Anderson, with some of the young girls back in Alabama and they said, oh yes, he had changed his story several times the night we met them. He had told them that he was 19-years-old, told one he was 23- years-old. Turns out he's 17-years-old. So there's some real issues there.

And remember, this began with a guy who said, I took her out but brought her back to the Holiday Inn, the very area where we are right now. Then changed his story, according to officials and some of the testimony, and says now that he ended up leaving her on the beach not far from where we are behind me right now. So there really is a story about stories here.

And his attorney, meanwhile, is trying to make sure that he's treated fairly. Now the police do have a right under Aruban law to talk to him but a judge would not be able to interrogate him, so says his attorney. He says they're trying to do that. This is what he had to say today. This is Antonio Carlo, Joran's attorney.


ANTONIO CARLO, JORAN VAN DER SLOOT'S ATTORNEY: The questions had to do with whether he had any involvement to any crime. So that, in our opinion, is interrogation. But, OK, the judge held the not (ph) position and we respected. It's a matter of interpretation. It's a matter of, you know, legalities. And we have now appealed the case and we are now awaiting the decision of the court of appeals.


SANCHEZ: When you look at this, it's something that you had mentioned earlier on in this newscast, Anderson. The family is extremely frustrated. The Twitty's, that is. Saying that they're now looking at the possibility of trying to see if they can get some of the evidence in their hands themselves. They've hired an attorney and they're thinking about suing to be able to do just that.

I'm Rick Sanchez in Aruba.

Anderson, back to you.

COOPER: And what that family's gone through is just incredible.

Rick, thanks very much. We'll talk to you tomorrow.

In a few moments, the latest on the shark attacks off Florida. Already one girl is dead, another boy's leg has been amputated. We're going to talk to a man who survived a bite from one of these sharks, from a bull shark. We're going to find out what makes them so aggressive.

But first, Erica Hill from Headline News has some other headlines we're following.



We start off with the U.S. military helicopter crash in Afghanistan. Military officials say about 16 U.S. troops were on board the MH-47. It's a varying of the army's Chinook transport which you see here. They is no word on the fate of that crew. Rescuers are battling darkness to reach the crash site. It's in the mountains along the Afghan-Pakistani border. The Associated Press says the Taliban have claimed responsibility for the crash in a phone call.

In Birmingham, Alabama, acquitted of fraud. HealthSouth founder Richard Scrushy left a federal courthouse victorious after a jury found him not guilty of all 36 counts of false corporate reporting and other charges. Fifteen other executives have all pleaded guilty in connection to the $2.7 billion accounting fraud.

In Washington, a controversial study outlining how terrorists could target the U.S. milk supply will be published. The National Academy of Science is going forward with the publication despite complaints from the Department of Health and Human Services, which saying the article is a "road map for terrorists."

And on to Jefferson, Louisiana. Applebee's sued by a woman who claims she found a severed fingertip in her salad a year ago. The restaurant chain isn't commenting on the case, neither is the woman's lawyer. It's the second lawsuit this year involving a severed finger in restaurant food. You probably remember the Wendy's case.


HILL: Of course, not that's a hoax. But don't forget too, there was also the incident in North Carolina with the frozen custard.

COOPER: Oh, no, hard to forget that one. But this was a year ago and she's just speaking up about it now?

HILL: See, now that was my initial reaction, too.

COOPER: Yes. Maybe it got stuck in the back of the mouth and didn't realize it until just recently. I don't know. Doubt it.

HILL: OK. Enough said.

COOPER: Erica Hill, thank you very much. See you again in about 30 minutes.

A reminder, you can check out's new video link where you can watch some of the day's most popular stories 24/7. It's all free at

Coming up next on 360, a rare speech by the president direct to the nation. It's going to happen here at Ft. Bragg. Well, that's at the White House where they will be watching it as well because the president's in Ft. Bragg. We're going to bring it to you live. Stay with 360 for our special coverage.

Also tonight, the price of war. U.S. troops call it they siling (ph) injury in Iraq and body armor cannot protect them from it. A fascinating look at something many people - I didn't know much about. We'll look ahead at that.

Plus, two shark attacks in three days off the coast of Florida. What is going on. One of those attack was fatal. A man who survived a shark attack shares how you can do the same, ahead.


COOPER: Well, just a few facts to make the bull shark one of the deadliest and most feared predators. Sadly, we have fresh evidence of that. In just the last three days, two teens were attacked by bull sharks off the Florida Panhandle. At least they're believed to be bull sharks.

On Saturday, a 14-year-old girl riding a boogie board died after being bitten. And yesterday, about 80 miles away, a 16-year-old boy fishing in waist-deep water - just standing in waist-deep water, he was attacked by a bull shark. His leg was amputated. Tonight he remains in critical condition.

And in case you're wondering, this is what a bull shark looks like. Gray, short-nosed, very sharp teeth. We're told they usually do not attack humans but that is exactly what they are doing, at least in these last two days. My next guest was actually bitten by a bull shark. Erich Ritter is an expert on the species. He joins me now from Pensacola.

Erich, you, yourself, were bitten. You're in tanks with bull sharks all the time. What happened?

ERICH RITTER, SHARK EXPERT: In my case, what happened, we were just re-creating a scenario for an opening documentary and we had a lot of bull sharks around us. And when you do that, you know, you have to have someone, a spotter, that looks at what is coming from behind and my spotter just didn't do his job. The animal came through and the accident happened.

COOPER: So you blame the spotter, not the bull shark. And what is it - how does a bull shark bite you? What does it feel like? And we've got this footage of them eating, of them feeding. What is it - I mean, how do they bite you?

RITTER: Normally, they do what we call exploratory bites. They just grab you and let go. In my case, there was a stress bite after the first bite and then she just ripped my calf muscle off. Yes, when they go down to business, it's definitely hurtful.

COOPER: It's a pretty aggressive shark. I guess it has the highest testosterone level of any animal. What is their typical behavior? I mean people say, look, they don't normally go after humans. Is that true?

RITTER: That is true. They are - it tends to live in very shallow water to naturally come much quicker, closer to human beings. Most sharks are very hesitant to approach humans, which we are unfamiliar objects to them. But bull sharks naturally come much closer. And when they do that, of course, you have to react differently than with any other shark.

COOPER: We got two shark attacks in three days off the Florida Panhandle. I guess it's unusual. Why is it going on, you think?

RITTER: I don't want to say there's something that goes on right now with the weather. So, of course, it could be. Of course, it could be that we have much more food fish right now. But the motivation of teeth (ph) to animals that bit these two people is completely different.

COOPER: Different motivation each time?

RITTER: Different motivation each time, yes.

COOPER: Erich Ritter, we appreciate you joining us. An expert not only on sharks but very personal experience with having been bitten. Appreciate you joining us. Thanks, Erich.

RITTER: Thank you.

COOPER: Still to come on 360, our special coverage of the president's address begins moments from now from Ft. Bragg, North Carolina. That's where the president is speaking. You can see the crowd has assembled. We're going to bring it to you live.

Also tonight on 360, the president's talking points, key phrases we've been hearing the last couple of days from all over his administration. We'll play them to you ahead.

Also, you can keep - you know, you keep hearing about the insurgents and U.S. troops being killed in Iraq. What is going right? We'll take a look at the good news out of Iraq.

Covering all the angles, the good and the bad. We'll be right back.


COOPER: And you're looking at a live shot of the White House in Washington, D.C. We are now about 35 minutes away from President Bush's address to the nation. The subject, Iraq. The president will be speaking live from Ft. Bragg, North Carolina. The speech comes a day after the first anniversary of the return of Iraq's sovereignty buy the caretaker coalition provisional authority established after the toppling of Saddam Hussein's regime.

Mr. Bush's speech comes at a time when the support in this country for the war in Iraq is at an all-time low. A little more than a year ago, under similar circumstances, the president made a speech at the U.S. Army War College to rally public support for his Iraq policy. That presumably is what he hopes to accomplish tonight as well. Our CNN colleagues, Paula Zahn and Wolf Blitzer, will be anchoring the evening's coverage of the president's speech. They join me now.

Paula, you and Wolf have seen excerpts from the president's speech tonight. Any surprises?

PAULA ZAHN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, I have to admit, we've only seen three or four chunks of it. The rest of it is embargoed until the top of the hour. But there is an interesting excerpt about the issue of the insurgency movement.

You were talking about the president's poll numbers going down. And I think this administration was surprised to see now that the majority of Americans think it was a mistake to have gone into Iraq in the first place. In addition to that, they do not think the president has a clear plan.

The most pointed questions coming right now facing the administration have to do with the issue of the insurgencies and whether we really are in, as the vice president said, the last throes of the insurgency. Here is what the president will say tonight about the terrorists in Iraq. "The terrorists can kill the innocent but they cannot stop the advance of freedom. The only way our enemies can succeed is if we forget the lessons of September 11th, if we abandon the Iraqi people to men like Zarqawi and if we yield the future of the Middle East to men like Bin Laden."

Well, Wolf, as you know, tonight, the friction comes in the expectations here. There are people who believe, as the vice president does, that you're making a dent in the insurgency movement and one of the top generals in the field now is saying that, in fact, today you have more firefighters in Iraq than you did six months ago and (ph) the insurgency movement is not diminished. So a lot of tough questions facing this president tonight. It will be interesting to see how specific he gets. WOLF BLITZER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And we're told, as you well know, Paula, there's no doubt the president is going to avoid any timetable for a U.S. withdrawal from Iraq. That, in a sense, his aides say, if you go forward with such a timetable, it's just going to simply give the insurgents an opportunity to hold back and wait for the U.S., the 130, 140,000 U.S. troops there, the other coalition forces to leave and then they can begin their work.

The president's going to also make it clear we're told that, yes, this is going to be dangerous, this is going to be tough. He doesn't want to be overly optimistic in his assessment. He doesn't want to mislead the American people. He's going to say it's going to be brutal, it's going to be tough and it's going to be a long, hard- fought battle. But he's going to stress the political progress that has been achieved over the past year, beginning with those Iraqi elections on January 30th. There's a long ways to go, Paula, as you well know, and Anderson, but there's still some hope, he says, and the U.S. is going to stay the road and is not going to cut and run.

COOPER: All right, Wolf and Paula, we'll be joining you a little bit later on for our coverage of the president's speech which begins about 8:00 tonight.

Guys, I'll see you in a little bit.

ZAHN: Thank you.

COOPER: In this next half hour, we're also going to be looking at some of the messages the administration has been giving in these last couple of days and they are very on message now about Iraq. We've actually assembled some of the key points that they have been making on various shows. It doesn't seem to matter what show they're on, they seem to be kind of saying the same thing over and over again. We'll put that together a little bit for you.

We're also shortly going to talk to Michael Ware (ph), our "Time" magazine bureau chief in Baghdad, who has probably spent, as a reporter, more time with insurgents than any other reporter that I certainly know of. We've talked to him a number of times over the last year or two. We're going to get his take on the insurgency. Is it really in its last throes as Vice President Cheney said recently, Donald Rumsfeld supported recently. We'll get a live report from Baghdad on that.

You also ought to know a little something about the place the president has chosen as the setting for this speech he's going to be making at 8:00 tonight, Ft. Bragg, North Carolina. It's not just any military base. It is the home of the fabled 82nd airborne and of special operations. A base that has sent some 11,000 troops to Iraq. More than 80 of whom who have died there. CNN's Dana Bash is standing by live at Ft. Bragg.

Dana, are they ready for the president tonight?

DANA BASH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They're certainly getting ready, Anderson. And you were talking about the venue, Ft. Bragg. I can tell you a little bit more about that. The people here who are gathering, about 700 troops gathering here to listen to the president. Almost all of whom have served in Iraq and Afghanistan. And the idea of having the president come and speak to the American people here was certainly questioned by those of us in the press, asking why he can't just do it from the White House.

Now, we do know that the president, in terms of performance, feels more comfortable talking to a crowd, talking to an audience. Certainly, being with troops has been his comfort zone, but it's more than that, the president hopes to, perhaps, regain support for the mission on making it specific to American troops, by morphing the two, if you will, the two ideas. Because as you have been talking about, support for the mission is waning, support for the troops is not.

COOPER: I think also...

BASH: But in terms of the message of the speech, Anderson, I can tell you, very briefly, it's going to be a combination: I feel your pain and we heard some of the excerpts. He' going to say he understands the images that people are seeing, that their concerning that U.S. troops are dying. He's also going to explain that he does have a plan, talk broadly about it; no exit strategy, no timetable, specifically on that.

And he's also going to urge patience and the way he's going to get to that is by wrapping this whole concept of Iraq, once again, in the broader, global War on Terrorism, specifically referring, at least a couple of times, to September 11th and quoting from Osama bin Laden, Anderson.

COOPER: All right.

Dana Bash, thanks very much. Live in Ft. Bragg.

Yes. No doubt we are going to hear 9/11 mentioned several times tonight. We've already heard that in the last several days from Condoleezza Rice, from Scott McClellan, the White House spokesperson.

Let's just put that -- the poll numbers up, if we can, on the screen. This is the backdrop, of course, for the speech: How Bush is handling the Iraq war. CNN-"USA TODAY"-Gallup poll, the numbers, well you see them for yourself, approve: 50 percent. That's up from 40 percent.

Disapprove: 58 percent. Of course, up from 48 percent. Forty percent down from 50 percent. Some alarming poll numbers. The worst we've seen on this war so far for this president.

As we heard already, President Bush -- the speech tonight comes one year after the U.S.-led coalition handed over sovereignty to Iraqis. Since the time -- since then, a lot of news we get out of Iraq seems to be about the bad things happening there: The strong insurgency, the political assassinations, the suicide bombings, the deaths of U.S. troops, 883 since the handover. But if you look beyond the headlines, some things have improved on the ground in Iraq.

CNN's Jennifer Eccleston has that side of the story.


JENNIFER ECCLESTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The big day has arrived for Piras Odisho and ---. Despite the daily disruptions to life in Baghdad, a rising number of young couples like them are taking the plunge.

PIRAS ODISHO, GROOM (translator): Life must go on. There must be marriages and happiness.

ECCLESTON: Marriages are up 30 percent since Saddam's overthrow and the judge signing their wedding contract thinks he knows why.

GHANI AL-ISAA, JUDGE (translator): There is an increase since the income of all sectors of Iraqi people has gone up.

ECCLESTON: Measuring Iraq's economic health is not an exact science, but those in work, like the 350 judges trained in the past two years, are better paid, thanks to U.S. subsidies.

The Iraqi dinar holds its value. Gone is the rampant inflation of the '90's. There are more goods in the shops, in part, thanks to low import duties and a thriving black market.

It's estimated that there's five times more traffic on Baghdad's roads than there was pre-war and then, there is, what some call, the freedom index. In January, nearly 60 percent of Iraqis voted, choosing from a wide variety of parties. The assembly they voted for is meeting and is beginning to frame a new constitution for Iraq and 25 Sunni delegates are participating.

Internet cafes, unknown under Saddam, have sprung up in Baghdad. There are more than three million telephone subscribers, compared to fewer than a million before the war and many of them are on cell phones. Some 170 independent newspapers and magazines offer competing opinions and there are 80 commercial radio stations.

Wealthier Iraqis have satellite dishes and watch channels from around the world, a luxury unthinkable three years ago. Much of the country away from the Sunni dominated north and west is not racked by sectarian violence and some 150,000 Iraqi security forces are trained, equipped, and playing a larger role in battling the insurgents.


ECCLESTON: Now, despite the undeniable progress in Iraq, one year after the handover of sovereignty, the grinding violence, the lack of personal security, the hardships of day-to-day living, not enough power, not enough water, inadequate sanitation, this limits most Iraqis ability to believe their governments and American assertion that life is indeed improving -- Anderson? COOPER: Jennifer, in terms of the cordoned of violence, where -- it's obviously worse in Baghdad and sort of, the Sunni triangle areas. How much of the country -- I mean, when you talk to administration people, you know, they will say, well, the great, vast majority of the provinces in Iraq are not seeing these kind of daily attacks. Is that true?

ECCLESTON: Yes. Absolutely. I mean, we have large parts of the north in what's known as Kurdistan and also in the south around the Basra area where we have coalition forces such as Italians, the Australians and the British, where there is relatively little violence and it's the four major provinces in central and western and northwestern Iraq that is really bearing the brunt of most of the insurgent violence -- Anderson?

COOPER: We should also point out the flip side of that argument is that is where the bulk of the population lives and that of course, is where Baghdad is as well.

Jennifer Eccleston, thanks for that.

Coming up next on 360: The insurgents are getting smarter, not doubt about it, so are their bombs.

Coming up, a look at the injury our troops are suffering from, and injury body armor cannot prevent.

Also tonight: The insurgency -- Vice President Cheney says it's in its last throes. That's not what a "Time" magazine bureau chief, who's spend a lot of time with insurgents says.

We'll get his perspective from Baghdad in a moment.

Right now, we're about 25 minutes away from the president's address, live from Ft. Bragg, North Carolina.

Stay with us.


COOPER: One of the things we hear over and over again about the war in Iraq, is the persistent insurgency and the debate over how strong it really is. More than 1200 U.S. troops have been killed in battles with insurgents and foreign terrorists, since President Bush declared an end to major combat operations two years ago.

Well, now Vice President Dick Cheney recently said the insurgency is in its last throes. Now, we don't take sides on 360, we look at all the angles, so for another perspective, we talked earlier today, in Baghdad, with Michael Ware, "Time" magazine's Baghdad bureau chief. He's seen first hand how insurgency works and how strong it is.


COOPER: Michael, you probably have more contacts with the insurgency of any reporter I know. Who are we fighting, at this point? Who makes up the insurgency?

MICHAEL WARE, "TIME" MAGAZINE: There's still two channels to the insurgency. The first part, and by far the largest, is the home-grown Iraqi insurgent.

This is the former military officer, the Baathists, and now I have to say ordinary Iraqis who have risen up. These are the people responsible for the day-to-day attacks. The mortars, the ambushes, the explosive devices beside the road, by and large.

The second channel of the insurgency is much more high-profile, and, in many ways, devastating. This is the terrorist war that's being fought here in Iraq. And that's being led and battled largely by foreigners, inspired by, if not actually answering to, the leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who has now merged with al Qaeda.

COOPER: And how important are the foreign fighters? I mean, the number of suicide attacks has gone up dramatically. Is it still just foreign fighters doing these suicide attacks, or are Iraqis themselves blowing themselves up?

WARE: As we have seen from the beginning, the vast majority of the suicide attacks still remain the domain of the foreign fighters. And as you see in just the last month, we had 70, 80, 90 suicide attacks, depending on your count.

Now, can you imagine if that was happening anywhere else in the world but Iraq? We've had almost 500 suicide attacks since the handover of sovereignty a year ago.

However, one of the most disturbing elements is now more than we've seen at any point before, Iraqis are becoming involved in the suicide attacks.

COOPER: So the bottom line, as you see the insurgency, and you've had contacts with them for quite a while, you've seen them evolve, are they static, are they growing? Are they learning? How do you describe them now?

WARE: Well, with all due respect to Vice President Cheney, I mean, when he described them as being in their last throes, that was really off the mark. It was -- it was -- I can't tell you how much. I mean, this insurgency, it's not static. It's growing, it's learning. It regenerates. Its ability to replace people arrested and killed is phenomenal. And that is widely recognized by military intelligence.

COOPER: And the insurgents that you've talked to, they're willing to wait it out? I mean, do they think that the U.S. ultimately will lose political will and withdraw?

WARE: Anderson, let me tell you something. I think the insurgents told me back in June 2003, just months after the invasion phase of the war and the beginning of the occupation, this is when they were still running around separately and individually, without coordinational, command and control or the sophistication we see now. I sat in the room with a group of insurgents, Baathists, professional military officers outside Fallujah. They said to me, this war is not going to be won on the battlefield. We can't defeat the American military there. It is going to be won on television, in the living rooms of Iraq and middle America. They said that we believe our capacity to sustain this bloodshed far exceeds America's political stamina to endure it.

COOPER: Michael Ware, ominous words. We'll leave it there. Michael, good to talk to you, as always. Thanks.

WARE: Thank you very much, Anderson. Take care.


COOPER: Well, we're going to have more soon on the president's upcoming speech, but first, Erica Hill from HEADLINE NEWS gets us up- to-date with some other headlines this evening. Hey, Erica.

HILL: Hey, Anderson. Some members of the House at this point pushing to get rid of immigrants in street gangs. A dozen Republican lawmakers have proposed a bill that would give the Homeland Security Department the power to deport immigrants who are suspected of belonging to a street gang even if they have not committed a crime. The bill's sponsor says it's necessary to combat the spread of violent gangs. Opponents call it unconstitutional.

In Brooklyn, New York, an off-duty cop stabbed at a Dunkin' Donuts. Security video camera shows the officer trying to stop a holdup at the shop yesterday. He was stabbed in the torso. He's in stable condition. The suspect got away.

And in Tipperary (ph), Ireland, this guy just couldn't get enough buzz! This weekend, this Irish man wearing nothing more than underwear, goggles and a back brace tried to break a world record by coaxing more than 350,000 bees to land on his body. He didn't do it, though. He only got 200,000 to take part. He was stung several times, but he says, you know what? I'm used to it. By the way, 200,000 bees apparently weigh about 60 pounds.

COOPER: Man. Some people have too much time on their hands.

HILL: Yeah.

COOPER: Erica Hill, thanks. We'll see you again in about 30 minutes.

Don't forget, you can watch video of today's top stories., just click on the video link.

Still to come, however, tonight, we're almost 15 minutes away from the president's speech at Ft. Bragg, where he will try to drum up support for the war in Iraq. We will bring that speech to you live, our fighting men and women waiting to hear what the president has to say. Also ahead tonight, injury that body armor cannot even prevent against. Many of our troops are suffering from it as insurgents and their bombs get smarter. What is it? I've never heard of it before. You probably haven't either. We'll talk with 360 MD Sanjay Gupta in a moment.


COOPER: We're about 12 minutes away from the president's speech.

One of the most common injuries in Iraq is something you probably never heard of -- TBI -- stands for traumatic brain injury. And body armor doesn't protect our troops from TBI, and sometimes the symptoms surface far away from the battlefield. 360 MD Sanjay Gupta investigates.


SANJAY GUPTA, CNN SR. MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Every war has a signature injury. For Sergeant David Emme, this was it. It came on November 19th when his truck set off an explosive device.

SGT. DAVID EMME, BRAIN INJURY PATIENT: Yeah, I didn't see a blast or anything. The next thing I know, is I wake up and my head hurts. I had two teeth that were blown out. I basically didn't have an eardrum in my left ear.

GUPTA: And a brain that had been rattled back and forth in his helmet: A traumatic brain injury.

As things stand today, over two-thirds of the soldiers injured in the blast in Iraq suffer from a traumatic brain injury. Simply, it has become the signature of this war.

DR. DEBORAH WARDEN, DEFENSE & VETERANS BRAIN INJURY CENTER: If I think about my head, if you think about even in a car accident, my head going forward, hitting the ground or the windshield.

GUPTA: Dr. Deborah Warden has seen firsthand the impact, and she knows this war is different.

The Vietnam War became known for spinal cord injuries, limb amputations and Agent Orange poisonings. The first Gulf War inflicted the controversial syndrome of the same name. But this time it is landmines, mortar attacks and rocket-propelled grenades. They create blasts that literally rock the brain, similar to a high-impact car accident. The skull moves forward, impacts a hard surface, and then stops suddenly. The brain goes back and forth, and then begins to swell.

EMME: It bruised my brain. And what ended up happening is, my brain swelled up twice to size of a normal brain. They took a big hunk of my skull out.

GUPTA: The operation saved his life. And he looks pretty normal today, but the signature of a traumatic brain injury may be subtle. EMME: It was like somebody speaking a foreign language. You know, and they had to keep on repeatedly tell me the same stuff, because, you know, due to the brain injury, I had a hard time comprehending or talking or verbalizing a lot of stuff.

GUPTA: In mild cases, a traumatic brain injury may be a mild headache or occasional dizziness. More severe cases can involve complete memory loss, personality changes, or even persistent vegetative state.

Unlike an obviously severed limb, traumatic brain injuries are difficult to diagnose, but make no mistake, they are increasingly common. Doctors at Walter Reed say they have seen more than twice the number of brain injury patients than limb amputees returning from Iraq. And today, all patients returning with a war wound are automatically screened for a traumatized brain.

When Sergeant Emme was screened, his doctors saw clear changes in his personality, such as anger and hostility, leading to violence.

EMME: A lot of times, what they call this is -- they call this the silent wound, or the silent injury. I'm not Sergeant David Emme that I used to be.

GUPTA: A silent signature of war. Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN, New York.


COOPER: We're about nine minutes away from President Bush's speech on Iraq. We are going to bring that to you live, of course, and in a moment give you a preview. In the last couple of days, administration officials have been all over the airways, saying, well, kind of the same thing. We'll show you what we mean. We'll be right back.


COOPER: In about eight minutes, President Bush is going to speak to an audience of soldiers at Ft. Bragg, North Carolina. CNN, of course, is going to carry the speech live.

The administration has been honing its message about Iraq over the last several days. Administration officials have been on a number of talk shows, and we noticed they often seem to be saying the same things. It's as if they all have the same talking points. Take a look.


COOPER (voice-over): For staying on message, nobody beats Donald Rumsfeld. His message lately: War is hell.


Wars are tough things. War is a tough, difficult, dirty business.

It's been so in every war in our history. The Revolutionary War, the Civil War, World War II.

Two world wars. Korea, Vietnam.

We know it was true in the Civil War. We know it was true in World War I and World War II.

COOPER: But rest assured, the administration wants you to know this insurgency is in its last throes, whatever that means.

DICK CHENEY, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If you look at what the dictionary says about throes, it can still be, you know, a violent period. The throes of a revolution.

RUMSFELD: The last throes could be violent, as you well know from a dictionary standpoint.

Last throes could be a violent last throe, just as well as a placid or a calm last throe. Look it up in the dictionary.

COOPER: In any discussion of Iraq, the administration likes to remind us of 9/11.

SCOTT MCCLELLAN, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Remember, on September 11th, the president said shortly after the attacks of September 11th that this is a long struggle.

CONDOLEEZZA RICE, SECRETARY OF STATE: The president holds that after September 11th, it was important to deal with the threats.

COOPER: But no matter what you see on your TV sets, according to the administration, the way things are going, it's not all that bad.


CHENEY: We're making progress.

RICE: And we are making progress.

RUMSFELD: Solid progress is being made.

MCCLELLAN: We have made significant progress.




COOPER: We will probably hear that word again tonight.

We are now just about five minutes away from the president's speech. Will he stick to the talking points? We'll see.

Joining me now, CNN's political analysts Paul Begala and Torie Clarke. Good evening to both of you.


COOPER: Hey. Torie, let me start off with you. In the latest CNN- "USA Today" Gallup poll, President Bush's approval number is down to 45 percent; 37 percent say he has a clear plan in Iraq. That's down from 49 percent. How worried is this White House?

CLARKE: Well, they're not worried about their polls. They're worried about having a really serious and honest conversation with the American people...

COOPER: Wait a minute, you are telling me they're not worried about the polls?

CLARKE: ... about what's going on in Iraq. I can't speak for all of them, but I can tell you what they worry about more, which is what is going on in Iraq, and having a very serious conversation tonight with the American people. What's going on, where the challenges are, where progress is being made, because there is some progress being made, and a caution to the people that this could last for sometime and it will be very, very tough. That's what they're really focused on.

COOPER: Paul, do you believe that?

PAUL BEGALA, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, yes, in part, but, at the same time, they have to be focused on the polls, because that's how we gauge whether the public supports it. Your piece was illuminating. I'd say as an old message maestro myself, it warmed my heart to see an administration so on message.

The problem then is not that they are not on message, or that the message is not getting out. The problem is, as political consults call it, the dog food problem. That is, you can introduce a dog food with the right packaging and the right can, but if the dog don't eat it, you're in trouble. And you know, today's polls come out, we no have a -- a few months ago, 50 percent of the Americans thought we were on the right track on Iraq. Today, 58 think we're moving in the wrong direction, which means the dog ain't eating the dog food.

COOPER: Torie, does the -- does the -- do the Democrats, though, really have a clear plan? You know, Senator John Kerry in today's "New York Times" wrote this editorial. He said, quote, "the president must also announce immediately, the United States will not have a permanent military presence in Iraq. Erasing suspicions that the occupation is indefinite is critical to eroding support for the insurgency." Hasn't this president already done that?

CLARKE: Absolutely. We've said repeatedly, we'll stay as long as it takes, but we don't want to stay one day longer.

But I'll disagree slightly with Paul. I don't think that we have been feeding the dog all the dog food. I don't think the administration, whether they're in civilian clothing or uniform, have been out there as aggressively and consistently as they should be, talking about the good, the bad and the in-between. I don't think the media, in general, has done as good a job as it should in presenting every aspect of what is going on in Iraq and its significance. I think everybody ought to rededicate themselves to doing a better job of addressing this issue.

COOPER: All right. Well, Torie and Paul, stand by. I know you're going to be with us throughout the evening. We are just a few minutes away from the president's address from Ft. Bragg, North Carolina.

Want to turn this over to Paula Zahn and Wolf Blitzer, tonight in Washington. Good evening.

PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, Anderson. Thanks so much.



© 2007 Cable News Network.
A Time Warner Company. All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines. Contact us. Site Map.
Offsite Icon External sites open in new window; not endorsed by
Pipeline Icon Pay service with live and archived video. Learn more
Radio News Icon Download audio news  |  RSS Feed Add RSS headlines