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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES

Vice President Dick Cheney Blasts Democrats Over Iraq War Criticism; Interview With Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco; Secrets of Living Longer and Stronger

Aired November 16, 2005 - 22:00   ET

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


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: The war over the war in Iraq just got hotter -- the man with the flamethrower tonight, Vice President Dick Cheney.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ANNOUNCER: Cheney torches the Democrats, calling those criticizing the war opportunists and says they're hurting U.S. troops.

DICK CHENEY, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The president and I cannot prevent certain politicians from losing their memory, or their backbone. But we're not going to sit by and let them rewrite history.

ANNOUNCER: Tonight, who's really rewriting history in this white-hot war of words?

They're rich, powerful oil company bigwigs invited to a secret meeting at the White House. What really happened behind closed doors? And did they just lie to Congress to cover it up?

Katrina victims don't deserve this, 12 weeks and still waiting for their family members' bodies to be identified.

LINDA HYMEL, SISTER OF HURRICANE KATRINA VICTIM: I'm not only grieving and mourning. Now I'm angry. I just want -- it's so simple. I just want my brother.

ANNOUNCER: Why aren't these people getting the burial they deserve, and why aren't bureaucrats doing more to help? Tough questions tonight for Louisiana's governor.

And imagine living to 100 or older, but being of sound mind and body -- tonight, a special three-part three-continent investigation, the real secrets of living longer and stronger.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ANNOUNCER: This is ANDERSON COOPER 360. Live from the CNN studios in New York, here's Anderson Cooper.

COOPER: Vice President Cheney's comments in a moment.

But, first, here's what's happening right now. President Bush is in South Korea. He's meeting with the country's president. They are about to have a joint press conference. Earlier, the president called for an unified effort to force North Korea to end its nuclear weapons program.

Tonight, another journalist is coming forward to say he was tipped off about the identity of CIA officer Valerie Plame. Bob Woodward says an unnamed Bush administration official told him about Plame a month before she was publicly identified. "The Washington Post" editor says his source was not Scooter -- was not Lewis Scooter Libby, the former vice president's chief of staff, now indicted for the leak.

At this hour, the Pentagon is denying accusations that U.S. troops deliberately burned Iraqi civilians with a weapon called white phosphorus. That charge is coming from an Italian report, saying the incendiary shells targeted civilians in Fallujah last year. The Pentagon insists, that is simply not true, but admits to using the weapon on insurgents -- more on this later on 360.

And, tonight, we learned that five more U.S. troops died in Iraq today. They were all Marines. They were killed during a firefight with insurgents near the Syrian border. Sixteen insurgents were reported dead. The American death toll in Iraq now stands at 2,079.

So, Iraq is the backdrop tonight -- suspicion of the war at an all-time high, the administration under fire from Democrats for their handling of the war and the case they made for it three years ago. Tonight, the vice president did what vice presidents traditionally do. He took aim at critics and opened fire.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DICK CHENEY, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: What we're hearing now is some politicians contradicting their own statements and making a play for political advantage in the middle of a war.

The saddest part is that our people in uniform have been subjected to these cynical and pernicious falsehoods day in and day out.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: It is just the latest salvo from the administration.

On Veterans Day, the president make similar remarks. And the theme, we all had the same intelligence, has been repeated over and over by many administration mouthpieces. No one, however, says it quite the way the vice president did tonight.

Here's CNN's Candy Crowley.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Amid reports he's lost pull at the office, the vice president was out and about this evening, sounding very much like Dick Cheney.

CHENEY: And the suggestion that's been made by some U.S. senators that the president of the United States or any member of this administration purposely misled the American people on pre-war intelligence is one of the most dishonest and reprehensible charges ever aired in this city.

(APPLAUSE)

CROWLEY: It's where he's always been, in the thick of it, though, lately, it has seemed like a swamp. The indictment of a top staffer, his role in selling the war, and close ties to the oil industry cast the vice president as a major player in the worst months of the Bush years.

SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV), MINORITY LEADER: It's really a storm cloud. The vice president, who gets his authority from the president, sadly, is in the middle of that storm.

CROWLEY: "TIME" magazine suggests, autumn has put a chill between the vice president and the president. A former aide is quoted saying, "He has become one adviser among many."

Likewise, an earlier "Daily News" story quoted a presidential counselor: "The relationship is not what it was." The White House stoked the discussion of Cheney's slippage by revealing the veep got the news of Harriet Miers' nomination secondhand.

SCOTT MCCLELLAN, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Andy Card informed the vice president.

CROWLEY: Add to this Cheney was pheasant-hunting last week while the Democrats were making mincemeat of the administration's pre-war buildup, and you got have the portrait of the most powerful vice president in modern history who seems less so, except that a lot of people who deal with the White House say it's not true.

SEN. TRENT LOTT (R), MISSISSIPPI: The vice president's value to this president is not even measurable. And I don't think there's anything that could come between them.

CROWLEY: On Capitol Hill and elsewhere, movers and former shakers say the story is -- quote -- "complete and total 'expletive deleted'".

The White House says the relationship has matured, and the two are even closer, that they, as always, start the day together in an intelligence briefing, a FBI briefing, a hurricane briefing, and a daily briefing with aides. Certainly, Dick Cheney's dance card is full, fund-raising, bucking up the troops, attending salutes to one politician or another, and, sometimes, in the thick of it.

CHENEY: The president and I cannot prevent certain politicians from losing their memory, or their backbone -- but we're not going to sit by and let them rewrite history.

CROWLEY: As per usual, the vice president's response to administration critics does not come first, but it comes fiercest.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Fiercest is right -- not the best of times for the vice president or his boss. As we said at the top, he is in Asia at the moment.

Some perspective now from CNN's White House correspondent Dana Bash, who is in South Korea, traveling with the president, also CNN's John King, who cut his teeth at the White House and covered the Bush administration for years, and CNN's Candy Crowley, our senior national correspondent, a veteran of both the White House and Capitol Hill -- a lot to talk about.

Thanks for being with us, all of you.

Dana, let me start off with you in South Korea.

This is starting to feel like a campaign already. Is the White House in campaign mode on this?

DANA BASH, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: They're in total campaign mode, Anderson.

And it's something that they were very, very careful calculating about doing. Early last week, when they were listening to the Democrats' attacks get louder and louder on pre-war intelligence, they made a decision, actually, after considerable debate, about the idea of going after this, just like they did during the campaign. And that is exactly what you're seeing across the board.

From the president to his aides, you see talking points coming out of the White House, hitting back at Democrats in a way that you almost rarely see. And the vice president's role is vintage campaign. For the vice president to get out there and have the most stinging attacks is exactly what one does in a campaign.

COOPER: Well...

BASH: It's interesting that it's Vice President Cheney because...

COOPER: Yes.

BASH: ... it hits so close to home.

COOPER: John, how much support on Capitol Hill is there for this?

I want to -- just want to show the audience something that a Vietnam vet and Republican, Chuck Hagel said. He said -- quote -- "The Bush administration must understand that each American has a right to question our policies in Iraq and should not be demonized for disagreeing with them. Suggesting that to challenge or criticize policy is undermining and hurting our troops is not democracy. To question your country is not unpatriotic. To not question your government is unpatriotic."

How much support does the administration have on this among Republicans on the Hill?

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: In a way, Anderson, they're damned in they do and damned if they don't, in the sense that many Republicans, especially conservatives, say, get up off the mat, Mr. President. Fight back. Do not let the Democrats dominate the debate, as they have been in recent weeks, some would say even months.

On the other hand, you do have now a Vietnam veteran like Chuck Hagel, who is a lonely voice right now in the Republican Party. But if he gains steam with that, Chuck Hagel saying that it is not unpatriotic to question the president, that even saying it is the Bush administration dividing the country -- it is the president saying the Democrats are dividing the country, the Democrats who are undermining the mission.

If the president ends up in a debate about this strategy with fellow Republicans, the Democrats will win then, too.

COOPER: Candy, clearly, this seems to be administration's new line of defense. We have heard Cheney say it. We have heard the president, Rumsfeld, Hadley say it. Congress saw the same pre-war intelligence. We have heard that over and over again. Is that true?

CROWLEY: Not precisely.

And it also depends on exactly who you're talking to. The president is privy to different information, more detailed information, we're told. But there was information up on Capitol Hill that -- that indeed, did mirror some of what the president was seeing. There's a big matter of dispute among Democratic senators, who say: It's just not true. We weren't seeing that kind of information that the president was seeing.

The White House, obviously, differs. It seems that they got some of the same information, but the president had a little bit more.

COOPER: Dana Bash, what is the White House saying about that?

BASH: Well, they deny that, as you can imagine.

They say, over and over again, that -- this is really the crux of their argument to hit back at the Democrats -- that they did see the same intelligence, not just the -- the Democrats who are on Capitol Hill leading up to the war, immediately leading up to the war, but they go far back. They go back to Bill Clinton, pulling out quotes from him, pulling out quotes from his national security adviser, Sandy Berger.

So, that is really the crux of their argument. And there are just reams of paper, reams of quotes that they are putting out. This is a -- the big part of the strategy from Democrats talking about the intelligence that they had seen saying Saddam Hussein was a threat.

COOPER: A question both to John and Candy. You can probably both weigh in on this.

John, we will start off with you.

Where are all these stories coming from that Cheney and the president are no longer so close? We have been hearing this now for more than a week.

KING: Well, they are coming from people outside the circle of the White House who are unhappy with the strategy and who blame the vice president. They are coming from people who are former Bush administration officials who have soured a great deal on Dick Cheney.

Some of them are coming from simple Washington chatter. One of the interesting dynamics of this vice president is that he is not seeking the nomination in the next campaign. You would have a very different dynamic if this were a traditional vice presidency, were this Al Gore, say, in the Clinton days.

But, look, Dick Cheney is a very controversial figure. He can be a very polarizing figure. Even within the Republican Party, there are some people who blame him that the president is in this mess. Inside the White House, they say this is poppycock. That's about the kindest word. Candy used expletive deleted.

(LAUGHTER)

KING: But there's -- look, the president is mad at everybody. He is at 37 percent in the poll. I was talking to a senior official last week who said, he is mad with everybody, beginning with the guy in the mirror.

COOPER: Candy, we don't hear the word -- the word poppycock enough, do we?

CROWLEY: No, no, not at all.

(LAUGHTER)

CROWLEY: Just to add to -- to what John said, I mean, basically, the -- the relationship, so far as anyone who deals with them or who watches Dick Cheney or deals with the president says, look, it is fine.

There -- there is a game going on at this point. And they will tell you off the record, you know, well, I think so-and-so leaked this, and, I think it's coming from there.

In Washington, people tend to look at source stories for who gets what out of it. And then they -- they go blame that source. But the White House -- it was also interesting how fiercely they pushed back against this notion that, somehow, the president has put distance between himself and Dick Cheney. On the other hand, they do admit that they understand that Dick Cheney is a lightning rod. And that's not all bad all the time.

COOPER: Candy, John, Dana, thanks very much. Appreciate it. Poppycock to you all.

Coming up next on 360, those big oil CEOs, their secret meeting in the White House, and allegations they just lied to Congress about their dealings with the vice president -- how come they didn't have to swear to tell the truth to you and me when they testified?

Later, the truth about living longer -- new tips from some very old folks on how you can be happier and healthier over the very long haul. We are looking seriously at what they're doing, what secrets they have that maybe all of us can learn from.

You're watching 360.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Here's a simple proposition: You need to know what your government is up to. It's not academic. It's your country, your money, you sensibilities and your life, which is why people get suspicious when the work of government goes on behind closed doors.

Four years ago, a task force headed by the vice president reshaped this country's energy policy. Now, the work was done in secret. The White House refused to even name the participants. But allegations were that big oil got special consideration. Oil companies executives denied it back then and denied once again before a Senate committee last week. Do you remember that?

Well, tonight, a report from the Government Accountability Office calls their honesty into question, and that's not all. Why weren't these guys even under oath?

CNN's Joe Johns investigates.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOE JOHNS, CNN CAPITOL HILL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Oil executives under fire about gas prices were called to testify on Capitol Hill last week. They strolled in, sat down and started talking.

But it was a little different story in April of 1994. Back then, when tobacco executives, also under fire, were called to the Hill, they first had to raise their hands and swear to tell the truth, a lasting picture that the oil companies avoided.

However you cut it, standing with your hand in the air like that doesn't look good. But did testifying without the oath also protect the oil executives from criminal charges if they didn't tell the truth? Democrats who raised the issue got shot down by committee co- chair Ted Stevens of oil-rich Alaska.

SEN. MARIA CANTWELL (D), WASHINGTON: Mr. Chairman, I would like the committee to vote on whether we swear in...

SEN. TED STEVENS (R), ALASKA: There will be no vote. That's not in order at all.

JOHNS: Peter's co-chair, Pete Domenici, noted that he understood the impact of a swearing-in picture and that he wanted to focus instead on substance. That got Democrats mad, but it was the executives' answers to this question that brought out the knives.

SEN. FRANK LAUTENBERG (D), NEW JERSEY: Did your company or any representatives in your companies participate in Vice President Cheney's energy task force in 2001 -- the meeting?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We did not, no.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To be honest...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, I wasn't here then.

JOHNS: The question matters because critics of George Bush and Dick Cheney have been asking for years whether an administration run by two former oil men gave the industry a secret audience to talk through their suggestions on national energy policy.

The oil companies' denials of a secret meeting were apparently contradicted by a "Washington Post" story this morning, a story that detailed an alleged White House document showing officials of Exxon, Mobil, Conoco, Shell Oil and BP met in the White House with Cheney aides in 2001.

Senate Democrats rushed to the cameras to demand an investigation and an explanation over why the oil company executives weren't required to take the oath.

(on camera): Why do you think it was that they were not sworn in? Was it to protect them from possible criminal exposure?

SEN. BARBARA BOXER (D), CALIFORNIA: Well, you're asking the wrong people.

(LAUGHTER)

BOXER: We wanted to swear them in. It was Ted Stevens and Pete Domenici who were very verbal.

JOHNS (voice-over): We found Senator Pete Domenici, co-chair of the panel, on the Capitol subway.

SEN. PETE DOMENICI (R), NEW MEXICO: If in fact they're found to have lied, the results are the same, whether you're sworn in or not. There's a -- there's a statute that applies that says, if you don't tell the truth before a committee of Congress -- that's what we had there -- then that is a -- the same as lying under oath.

JOHNS: The same point an angry Ted Stevens made on the Senate floor. STEVENS: To suggest that I didn't administer an oath to these witnesses to help them lie to members of Congress is false, inexcusable.

JOHNS: According to the experts we spoke to, there's no difference between the penalty for lying under oath and misleading Congress. Both can get you five years in jail, assuming, of course, the executives were actually lying. All four companies in question stood by the denials of their CEOs.

(on camera): Excuse me, Senator, last question. Do you think they lied?

DOMENICI: Oh...

JOHNS: Do you think any of these executives actually lied?

DOMENICI: ... look, that's not to be talked about at this point. You have got -- you have got to take the testimony. If, in fact, it's -- it's -- there is something that is indicative of that they have not told the truth, then you proceed in a normal manner. You can't just outright pass conclusions on something like that.

JOHNS: Thank you, Senator.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

JOHNS: Now, there are some Democrats, however, who say they are drawing their own conclusions, including Senator Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey. He has asked the attorney general to investigate the federal law against making false statements and see whether it was violated there -- Anderson.

COOPER: Fascinating. Joe Johns, thank you.

Coming up, "Keeping Them Honest" -- why are so many Katrina victims still not identified in New Orleans?

That's ahead, but, first, Erica Hill from Headline News joins us with some of the other stories we are following right now.

Hey, Erica.

ERICA HILL, HEADLINE NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Anderson.

A world leader's health getting plenty of attention tonight -- in Cuba, President Fidel Castro is believed to be in failing health, suffering from Parkinson's disease -- that assessment on the 79-year- old coming to us from the CIA. We will have more on Castro's health coming up for you.

Meantime, here in the U.S., cesarean section births reaching an all-time health. The National Center For Health Statistics says C- sections accounted for 29 percent of all births in 2004. One reason? Experts say C-sections reduce malpractice lawsuits. Also, one OB/GYN says the public thinks it's basically like a zipper, in her words. They open you up and then close you back up.

And, finally, there she is. We found her in Las Vegas. For the first time in 84 years, the Miss America Pageant will be held outside Atlantic City. The Aladdin Hotel and Casino is hosting the pageant. The pageant's TV ratings have declined in recent years, but pageant organizers hopeful that Las Vegas will provide all the glitz and glamour Miss America is known for.

There's definitely plenty of glitz and glamour in Vegas.

COOPER: Absolutely. She deserves all the glitz and glamour she can get, I think.

HILL: Indeed.

COOPER: Don't we all?

(LAUGHTER)

HILL: Yes.

COOPER: Erica Hill, thanks very much. See you again in a little bit.

Coming up next on 360, "Keeping Them Honest," or trying to -- how come so many Katrina victims have not been identified? They haven't even had their DNA tested. Dozens more bodies have recently been discovered trapped in homes never searched. Tonight, we try to get some answers from Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco about why the searches stopped.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. KATHLEEN BLANCO (D), LOUISIANA: I'm not sure who the made decision or how the decisions were made specifically about that date, Anderson.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Well, we will try to get some more answers. "Keeping Them Honest" -- 360 next.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

LUKE EDDINS, MUSIC PROMOTER: Denise, hey it's Luke from Luke Hits. Just calling to follow through.

My company is called Luke Hits. And I help underdog bands land their songs on the big screen and commercials.

I want it to become the human Google, literally sifting through all the clutter that's out there, to try to save the time for the studios, so they didn't have to sift through it.

I think it's time to do a little bit of work.

(MUSIC)

EDDINS: I work out of my one-bedroom tiny apartment here in Hollywood.

What I have found is that the studios don't want to pay top dollar for a lot of these major-label artists and, at the same time, they don't want the monotonous, you know, generic-sounding music- library stuff. So, this is real music from real artists that just happen to sound like a very expensive artist.

(MUSIC)

EDDINS: I actually stayed up all night with Alex (ph), and we produced a track which wound up in a Miller beer commercial.

(SINGING)

EDDINS: This is a song by a band called Mirror. I placed it in "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition." It plays every week. The song is called, "Saving Your Regrets."

(MUSIC)

EDDINS: The goal of Luke Hits is to help the smallest of the small guys and link them with the biggest of the big guys, with the blockbuster films, with the commercials that are going to be so ubiquitous that everyone sees that commercial.

Peace out. I'm going to go find some more sweet songs.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Tonight, "Keeping Them Honest," our continuing efforts to get to the answers -- some answers for the victims of Hurricane Katrina.

You might be surprised to learn that there are hundreds of Katrina victims still not identified, hundreds of families who are waiting right now by the phone for the coroner to call and say, you can have your loved one back. You can finally lay them to rest.

What's the holdup? In a moment, we are going to talk about the problem with Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco.

But, first, a look at how the families of the dead are right now being left in limbo.

CNN's Rusty Dornin investigates.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RUSTY DORNIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: How old is he here?

HYMEL: Fifty. DORNIN (voice-over): Linda Hymel has counted the days since Katrina. That's when her little brother Darryl (ph) disappeared the first time.

HYMEL: It's just very heartbreaking.

DORNIN: Four days after the storm, his body was found near his home by friends. They were told by the National Guard to put his body in a bathtub, so he could easily be found by recovery teams. Linda believed her brother was taken to the morgue. But nobody will tell her.

The family has given DNA, dental records, even detailed descriptions about the scars on his lip and behind his knee, but nothing. Now Linda hears that FEMA has told the state it won't pay for DNA testing.

(on camera): At this point, to see these agencies arguing about the DNA, and you have been waiting two months to hear about your brother.

HYMEL: Over two months.

DORNIN: Yes.

HYMEL: Yes.

DORNIN: What -- how do you feel about that?

HYMEL: It's sick. It's sick. My stomach is -- is -- I'm sick to my stomach. I'm -- I'm not only grieving and mourning. Now I'm angry. I just want -- it is so simple. I just want my brother.

DORNIN (voice-over): Her brother may very well be among the hundreds of unidentified bodies in refrigerator trucks in the makeshift morgue in the town of Saint Gabriel. Shrouded fences keep out the curious. And there is the constant hum of generators.

FEMA agreed to take DNA samples and to even match them after testing. But FEMA officials say they told the state from the beginning it was not the agency's responsibility to pay for the tests. Two months ago, that wasn't even an issue. September 14, the state's top coroner, Dr. Louis Cataldie, told reporters Louisiana would take care of its own.

DR. LOUIS CATALDIE, LOUISIANA STATE CORONER: So, the Louisiana State Crime Lab is processing the DNA. We will be storing the DNA. We will be retaining that evidence. Again, the state is taking care of its business.

DORNIN: But now, it's mid-November. The state is broke and unable to pay its bills. And Cataldie is one frustrated coroner.

CATALDIE: I need DNA results, you know? I'm not the money man. I find myself in a position where the money is holding me up right now. And that -- that frustrates me. I need the tools to work with. DORNIN: That's cold comfort for Linda Hymel.

HYMEL: We're getting the runaround, you know? And, if all that stands between getting my brother is -- is money, we will pay for it.

DORNIN: Anything to relieve the anguish of living in limbo.

Rusty Dornin, CNN, New Orleans.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Well, you heard the coroner in her piece say that Louisiana was taking care of its business, meaning taking care of their dead. Clearly, they are not right now.

We spoke earlier about the problem with Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: We have been following the case of a woman named Linda Hymel. She -- she is, sadly, pretty typical. Her brother died in Katrina. The state has had his body since September 7, more than two months. She's given DNA samples. She's given dental records. She calls Saint Gabriel morgue every day, and is given really no information. And she hasn't gotten the body back.

What is going on?

BLANCO: Well, we feel very sorry for all these folks. It's been very complicated out at Saint Gabriel. And I think that they're working hard. But I know that too many folks are still very frustrated by all of those events.

COOPER: Yes.

Well, I mean, two months ago, you were very critical of FEMA's slow recovery of the bodies, saying, in -- and I quote -- "In death, as in life, our people deserve more respect than they have received."

Can't the same criticism -- criticism -- now be leveled at your state's handling of the dead? You have 838 bodies at the Saint Gabriel morgue. Three hundred and twenty-one of them are still unidentified, no DNA testing done at all.

BLANCO: Well, Anderson, it is very challenging, because it's been a long time. And the remains are -- are very fragile now. And it's just more challenging. And each day that goes by, everybody is working hard to try to meet those challenges.

COOPER: But my understanding of the DNA problem is that the state and -- and FEMA are basically fighting over who should pay for DNA testing.

And -- and, you know, a lot of families, when they hear that, it just sounds like bureaucracy is getting into the way of -- of, you know, reuniting with their loved ones and allowing their loved ones to finally get the dignity they deserve.

BLANCO: I don't think that that's stopping any DNA testing, Anderson. I just think that it is just part of the frustrating process that we have all been going through.

COOPER: October 3, the state called off house-to-house searching for the dead. Since then, 104 bodies have been found. Do you think it was a mistake now to call off the -- the searches so early?

BLANCO: Anderson, you know, we have suffered great tragedies here in Louisiana. And an extensive effort was made to recover all the bodies. The great tragedy is that the nation still doesn't understand the dimensions of our tragedy and how difficult all of this has been on us. We are still asking for help, you know. We have not dismissed the cries for assistance but sometimes we think they're falling on deaf ears.

COOPER: That's a good point, and I want to get to it. But, I mean, the formal searches, massive searches, house-to-house did stop October 3rd. I know they have resumed in some areas because they keep finding these bodies in the homes. Do you know what the thought process was or who made the decision to stop those searches on October 3rd?

BLANCO: Well, I'm not sure who made the decisions or how the decisions were made specifically about that date, Anderson.

COOPER: But you yourself had said that it's important to look back and that mistakes were made at all levels. And, frankly, so far you're the only government official who has had the courtesy to actually step forward on this program and talk to me, because the mayor won't even talk to me anymore. I can't get an interview with him. I'm not trying to be critical or mean or anything but I mean I do think -- and I think everyone agrees that, you know, no one wants this to happen again. Democrats are calling for an independent review of what happened. No one in Washington seems to be talking about that.

BLANCO: I would love an independent review. I think that it's important. I am going to Congress, you know, at the behest of the Senate and the House, not a bipartisan effort whatsoever, but partisan committees. And I expect to be answering the specifics, whatever questions they ask me. I'll be happy to tell them what happened and what we did and what our expectations were. And...

COOPER: When you go to Washington, do...

BLANCO: ... what expectations failed us.

COOPER: Do you feel like there's Katrina fatigue?

BLANCO: You know, here in Louisiana, we feel like we are citizens of the United States who are nearly forgotten. It is a very frustrating thing. People are weary. They want to move on. They want us to move on. It's going to take us a while. And we still need help from Washington. COOPER: Well, when I hear other people talking...

BLANCO: And I'm worried that we're not going to get it.

COOPER: When I hear people talk about Katrina fatigue, I just want to kind of shake them and say, you know, you want to know who has Katrina fatigue, you talk to the people in Louisiana, you talk to people in the Gulf Coast. People in Washington shouldn't be talking about Katrina fatigue.

BLANCO: You are so right. The only people who are deserving of Katrina fatigue are the Louisiana folks who have been in the trenches now for over two months. We are fatigued. And but it's so disheartening not to have enough sympathy.

COOPER: I appreciate you taking the time to talk to us, Governor Blanco. Thank you.

BLANCO: Thank you, Anderson.

COOPER: We should point out also earlier this evening, Rusty Dornin talked to a spokesman for the Department of Health and Human Services, the federal agency, who said the agency is trying to figure out some way to fund the DNA testing. The spokesman said -- wouldn't say how long or how that testing would actually be done. We'll keep track of it.

Still ahead on 360, were artillery shells filled with white hot white phosphorous used to start fires in the battle of Falluja last year? And if so, is that a bad thing? Before you start cursing the insurgents, the charges that American troops used them, we'll look into what actually happened.

And does living a very long life sound risky to you? After all, who wants decades of ill health and frailty. What about being a healthy and vigorous 100 years old? A lot of people all over the world are able to do it. We'll show you their secrets.

Be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Shocking allegations that U.S. troops intentionally attacked Iraqi civilians with an incendiary weapon. But what's the real story? We'll find out in a moment. First, here's what's happening at this moment.

Right now Democrats are lashing back at Dick Cheney this evening. As we reported, the vice president said that accusations the White House misled the American people on Iraq are dishonest and reprehensible. Well, tonight, former presidential nominee John Kerry responded. He said, it's hard to name a government official with less credibility on Iraq than Vice President Cheney.

Also tonight, a startling number in the war on terror, the Associated Press reports the United States has detained 83,000 people in the war on terror since 9/11, 83,000 people. The AP bases that amount on military figures. As of now, some 14,000 detainees remain in U.S. custody.

New developments on the bird flu and they are not good. Tonight, China is reporting the first human case of the virus -- cases, I should say, including a woman who died after being infected. More than 125 people in the Southeast Asia region have been diagnosed with the bird flu, roughly half of the cases have been fatal.

And in Tennessee, a mental evaluation test is being ordered for a student who allegedly opened fire at his school. The 14-year-old boy is accused of killing a school administrator last Tuesday. Two others were injured. Prosecutors hope to try the teen as an adult.

An ugly charge has been made on Italian television that the U.S. military used white phosphorus artillery shells, which produce horrific heat and intense smoke and burn the skin against civilians during last year's offensive in Falluja. It would be easy to say that the Pentagon denies doing any such thing. The fact is the Pentagon does deny the charge but there's nothing easy about these allegations.

CNN's senior Pentagon correspondent, Jamie McIntyre, investigates.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN SENIOR PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The Italian TV documentary alleges that during the siege of Falluja a year ago, the U.S. military used white phosphorus artillery shells in a massive and indiscriminate way against civilians, and the result was that noncombatants, including Iraqi women and children, were burned to the bone.

The U.S. military was quick to deny the report and said it did not know how these people died.

BRIG. GEN. DONALD ALSTON, MULTINATIONAL FORCE IRAQ SPOKESMAN: We have not changed our position that in fact we did not use white phosphorus against civilians in Falluja during Operation al-Fajr.

MCINTYRE: But while strongly denying civilians were deliberately targeted, the Pentagon has belatedly admitted the phosphorus shells, which burn extremely hot and produce thick smoke, were used against enemy positions in Falluja. An initial State Department response had claimed incorrectly the incendiary shells were only fired into the air to illuminate enemy positions at night, not at enemy fighters.

Unlike napalm, which is designed to set large areas ablaze, and which the U.S. no longer uses, white phosphorus is usually employed to mark a target or produce a smoke screen to hide troop movements. But the U.S. troops attacking Falluja in November of 2004 had another use for the super-hot burning munition, which they called "shake and bake" missions.

According to an after action report published in Field Artillery Magazine, U.S. troops used white phosphorus as a potent psychological weapon against insurgents in trench lines and spider holes, firing the incendiary rounds against enemy positions to flush them out, then using high explosives to take them out.

The United States never signed an international ban against using incendiary weapons, but experts say that doesn't matter, because the ban didn't apply to legitimate military targets.

JOHN PIKE,, GLOBALSECURITY.ORG: There is a Geneva protocol against using it against civilians the way we used firebombs against cities in World War II. It's legitimate under that Geneva protocol to use it against military targets, like in Falluja.

MCINTYRE (on camera): Any munition can inflict unintended civilian casualties, but the Pentagon argues it works hard to avoid the loss of innocent life. In Falluja, the military says civilians were urged for weeks to leave. And by the time the siege took place, most of the people left were either insurgents or their sympathizers.

Jamie McIntyre, CNN, the Pentagon.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Falluja was, of course, perhaps the most intense fighting of the war thus far. As you have heard, white phosphorous artillery shells are not, strictly speaking, categorized as chemical weapons. On the other hand, the way they work can't fairly be described as conventional either. We spoke earlier this evening with CNN's senior medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, about how exactly the weapons work and what impact they have on the body.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Sanjay, what kind of damage can one of these white phosphorus shells do to a person?

SANJAY GUPTA, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, you know, it is a really interesting powder. Just by coming in contact with air and oxygen, it can actually start a fire, it can explode as well. So a couple of things can happen. You can get bad burns if you're around it. You can also have smoke inhalation injuries just from the smoke and the fire. And you can also have shrapnel injuries from the explosion that might result around it. So, you know, pretty significant.

COOPER: Is there an anecdote to stop the burning? Because it's not like being on fire.

GUPTA: It is not like being on fire. This is critically important. You can't use water, for example, to put this out. Water won't work. What you need to do is somehow cut off the oxygen supply. So you know, stopping -- you know, getting all the air out of there. Or if you put your hand in water if your hand's on fire, for example, that will stop it just because it's removing all the oxygen around it. That is really the only anecdote.

COOPER: Are there long-term effects? GUPTA: It's hard to say. There haven't been a lot of studies on this sort of thing. They know a couple of things. One is that it can cause liver and kidney damage long term. It also might cause scarring again just from the burns. Also, you know, it used to be used in matchsticks. It was the white powder actually in matchsticks. So the factory workers who worked at those matchstick factories would actually get something known as phossy (ph) jaw, that's what they called it. What would happen was the jawbones would actually disintegrate over time. Really dramatic for them. But again, that was from sustained long-term exposure.

COOPER: Any evidence that these put American troops at risk?

GUPTA: That is -- it is hard to say. I think it would only really happen if it was an unintentional sort of explosion. If it's somehow came into contact with air, exploded, then it would cause all the things we just talked about, the burns and the inhalation injuries and all that sort of stuff.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Well, coming up next on 360, an item about Michael Jackson overseas caught our eye. Why did a restroom pit stop that he made cause such a stir?

Also tonight, living longer and stronger. Secrets revealed from around the world. These folks are sharp. We'll find out how they stay that way.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MARGE JETTON, 101 YEARS OLD: Exercise. Eat wisely. Love the lord and people. And have a good attitude. As I told you, attitude is 90 percent and circumstances are 10.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: She is 101 years old. Marge Jetton, those are her tips on living longer. We'll have more from her and others like her coming up.

But first, Erica Hill from HEADLINE NEWS joins us with some of the other stories we're following right now.

Hey, Erica.

HILL: Hi, again, Anderson.

In Washington tonight, Bob Woodward, getting just a little bit of attention after the famed Washington Post reporter revealed he learned of CIA agent Valerie Plame's identity a month before it was publicly disclosed. The attorney for Lewis "Scooter" Libby says that Woodward's account undermines the special prosecutor's case against Vice President Cheney's former chief of staff. Around the U.S., the youth vote may be packing a little bit of a punch after all. The latest Census data reveals about 47 percent of Americans ages 18 to 24 voted last year. That's up from 36 percent in 2000. Now, they tended to go for John Kerry over the president by a margin of 56 to 43 percent.

Tonight, five states in the nation's midsection still coping with the aftermath of Tuesday's tornadoes. At least 35 twisters scoured parts of Tennessee, Missouri and Illinois and left two people dead, one in Indiana and one in Kentucky.

Overseas, a restroom stop by Michael Jackson causing quite a stir in the United Arab Emirates. It seems the pop star mistakenly entered a women's restroom. He was reportedly confused by the sign which was written in Arabic. Local papers say, though, that he remained in there long enough to apply a touch of makeup. His publicist, however, says he left right away, Anderson. I'm not touching that one with a 10-foot pole.

(LAUGHTER)

COOPER: I think that's wise. Me neither. Thanks very much, Erica.

Coming up on 360, two convicts, one of them a murderer on the loose tonight. A nationwide manhunt under way. The question is, did budget cuts at their prison help them escape?

And unlocking the secrets to living longer, much longer, 100 years or more, and without the usual health problems. Tonight, we travel the world to learn what those who live longest are doing right and what they can teach the rest of us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: They are an inspiration and a mystery, one of the most fascinating slices we think of the world's population, people who live to be 100 years or older and yet remain healthy, even vigorous. They're clearly doing something right. But what exactly? Researchers are slowly beginning to unravel why this elite group is off the charts when it comes not just to aging but aging well, extraordinarily well. National Geographic devotes its cover story this month to the secrets of living longer. The issue is now on newsstands and Dan Buettner, who wrote the story, will be joining us later to answer your calls and your e-mails.

He visited three corners of the world where people live the longest to find out exactly what they're doing and what lessons they have to teach us. Tonight, we'll take you around the globe retracing Dan's path, along the way you'll meet some remarkable people. We are pretty sure they will change everything you thought you knew about what it means to be old, very old. We begin in Loma Linda, California, of all places, home to some of the heartiest people in the United States.

Here's CNN's Gary Tuchman. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: OK, ready?

JETTON: I think so.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): Marge Jetton renewed her driver's license in 2004. She was born in 1904.

JETTON: So I always drive slowly.

TUCHMAN (on camera): All right.

JETTON: Because I can get more mileage to my gas that way. Did you know that?

TUCHMAN: I do know that. They're right. You're right.

JETTON: Well, not very many men do.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): Marge is now 101. Her license expires when she's 104.

(on camera): Are you a good driver?

JETTON: I think I am.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): Marge also has another set of wheels, a stationary bicycle, which she uses for a daily eight-mile ride which is then followed by a regimen of weight-lifting, usually accompanied by some power-walking in her neighborhood in Loma Linda, California.

(on camera): Why do you walk so fast? You have a tough time having people keep up with you.

JETTON: Somebody rings a bell, and you have got to hurry. I've been a nurse for many years.

TUCHMAN: OK.

(voice-over): Marge was married to a doctor for 77 years. James Jetton died two-and-a-half years ago at age 96. She has two children, four grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. Marge grew up in Northern California and remembers the great 1906 San Francisco earthquake.

JETTON: I was 2 years old. And I remember that the water was splashing out of the horse trough and wondered if they would have anything left to drink.

TUCHMAN: So how does this 101-year-old woman maintain this amazing mental and physical condition?

JETTON: In true righteousness and holiness.

TUCHMAN: Marge Jetton believes faith has much to do it. JETTON: I'm Seventh Day Adventist.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What then shall we say, brothers.

TUCHMAN: The Adventists, Christians who observe the Sabbath on the Saturday, the seventh day of the week, preach good health. An Adventist is not supposed to drink, smoke, or eat many types of meat, many Adventists don't eat any meat at all, and refrain from coffee and soft drinks.

PASTOR RANDY ROBERTS, LOMA LINDA SEVENTH DAY ADVENTIST CHURCH: Our bodies are an important part of what it means to be children of God, we only have one while we're here.

MINNIE IVERSON WOODS, 97 YEARS OLD: Suck it up.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK.

WOODS: Surprise breath and stay surprised.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right.

(MUSIC PLAYING)

TUCHMAN: Minnie Iverson Woods is also a Seventh Day Adventist.

WOODS: That was a good one.

TUCHMAN: At the age of 97, she teaches voice and piano lessons.

WOODS: You're not going to hell.

TUCHMAN: And strictly observes the teachings of her religion.

WOODS: When you are satisfied with what you're doing, you can relax and you can get a night's sleep. But if you're doing things that you shouldn't be doing, you lose sleep and you lose strength.

TUCHMAN (on camera): There are about 14 million Seventh Day Adventists in the world, and this congregation in Loma Linda is the church's largest, about 40 percent of the people who live in this city are Seventh Day Adventists.

(voice-over): And it appears they live longer than others. A National Institutes of Health study shows Seventh Day Adventists in California live five to eight years longer than other Californians. That's why Nation Geographic magazine came here for the cover story titled "The Secrets of Living Longer."

DAN BUETTNER, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC: That religious based sense of purpose I think gave them an enthusiasm for life, something that propelled them into their older years.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: May your kingdom be established in our praises.

TUCHMAN: The Loma Linda congregation is full of elderly people, so are exercise classes held in the town.

DARREL FLEISHMAN, LOMA LINDA RESIDENT: I want to beat the retirement system and the only way to beat it is to keep breathing.

JETTON: Have we had enough?

DR. ROGER HADLEY, DEAN, LOMA LINDA UNIV. SCHOOL OF MEDICINE: And when you combine one's faith, one's community, along with a good, healthy diet, and an exercise program, together, combined, can result in significant improvement of longevity.

TUCHMAN: Marge Jetton has one other quality that leads to longevity, a good sense of humor.

(on camera): Not only do you not look 101, you don't look 91, you look about 81.

JETTON: Well, keep talking.

(LAUGHTER)

TUCHMAN (voice-over): Marge says it all cams back to faith and embracing every day.

(on camera): How does it make you feel that you've reached this age and are in the shape you are, such good shape?

JETTON: I marvel at it.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

TUCHMAN: Marge and Minnie are very inspirational women. It was very nice to do such an inspirational story. And here's a good addition to it, 101-year-old Marge does a lot of volunteer work at the hospital, at her church, and last night, a civic group in Southern California gave her the philanthropist of the year award. And I will tell you, Anderson, I would like if four decades from now I am in a position to win some type of award.

(LAUGHTER)

COOPER: She's remarkable. And to see working out at 101 is just incredible. And she's walking, she walks fast you were saying.

TUCHMAN: She does a lot more than most of us.

COOPER: Yes, I know. Literally I was watching her, thinking, I really have got to start going to the gym. This is really getting pathetic. I think she was lifting more weights than I can. Gary, thanks very much, great, we're going to have a lot more about other secrets in the hour ahead.

Right now, stories to keep an eye on tomorrow. They're on our radar tonight. Ray Nagin, the mayor of New Orleans, heading to Washington tomorrow. He is fighting to get more money for the city and for rebuilding the levees to protect it. We'll be following him. Tom DeLay still has powerful friends in Washington, high-powered lobbyists, they'll be throwing a fund-raiser for the congressman and former House majority leader tomorrow. We'll look at how indictments notwithstanding, the man know as "The Hammer" is still a force to be reckoned with.

Also, even the housing market cooling a bit. A corner of it is still red hot. Listen to this, conmen and women stealing your identity, buying houses with phony appraisals, and then flipping them for a cool profit. It's a little-known growth industry, and you could get stung. Those are stories tomorrow on the radar tonight.

Just ahead though, in this hour ahead, our globetrotting journey into the secrets of living longer continues, does a paradise island with the highest life expectancy in the world hold to key to extending your life? We'll take you there. And many more secrets ahead. We'll try to unlock them all.

And later, we'll answer your questions about how to live longer, smarter and healthier. You can e-mail us at cnn.com/360. Click on the "instant feedback" link or call us, talk to our experts directly at 877-648-3639, that's 877-648-3639.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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