Skip to main content
Search
Services


 

Return to Transcripts main page

ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES

War of Words Over Iraq Intensifies; Hundreds of Katrina Victims Still Waiting to Be Identified

Aired November 17, 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: Welcome to 360.
A prison break is over for a convicted murderer. But his partner in crime is still on the run.

And a war of words erupts between Democrats and Republicans.

We will have all those stories ahead tonight.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ANNOUNCER: Democrats vs. Republicans -- the war of words over the war in Iraq turns white hot.

REP. JOHN MURTHA (D), PENNSYLVANIA: The U.S. can not accomplish anything further in Iraq militarily. It's time to bring the troops home.

ANNOUNCER: Tonight, the White House fires back, saying the Democrats are embracing the politics of Michael Moore and hurting the war on terror.

Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, President Bush, they all say the congressional war opponents saw the same intelligence before the war, but is that really true? Tonight, we put the administration's rhetoric to the test.

And what's the holdup? Hundreds of bodies still unidentified in New Orleans 12 weeks after Katrina -- tonight, why battling bureaucrats are making hundreds of families wait for word on their missing loved ones.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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

COOPER: Welcome to 360. Here's what's happening at this moment.

President Bush is in South Korea and wants assurances Kim Jong Il is giving up his nuclear weapons program for good. Tomorrow, Mr. Bush is meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Tonight, Iraq's interior minister defends holding more than 160 prisoners in a secret facility, saying they are -- quote -- "the most criminal terrorists." U.S. military forces found the detainees on Sunday when it entered the building looking for a 15-year-old missing boy.

Right now, one of two escaped convicts from Iowa is back in custody. This man, Martin Moon, was captured today in Illinois. He's a convicted killer. Moon and another inmate climbed a prison wall on Monday. The other con is still on the run -- more on this story later.

And, in Atlanta today, a close call for the three people aboard this plane. The landing gear failed, and that prompted the pilot to attempt a belly landing. It worked. He and the two passengers were not injured.

In the last several hours, the war of words between Republicans and Democrats over the war has heated up. The latest round began today in Congress, when Democrat John Murtha called for all 160,000 U.S. troops to get out of Iraq within six months. What is surprising about this is, Murtha is not only an influential member of Congress, but he served 37 years in the Marine Corps. He's a Vietnam vet and was, until now, a strong supporter of the Iraq war.

The White House wasted no time in striking back.

We start our in-depth coverage with CNN congressional correspondent Joe Johns.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOE JOHNS, CNN CAPITOL HILL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): From the day it started, the Iraq war has been a land mine for the Democratic Party. Step on it, and it will blow up in your face.

Almost all the top Democrats supported the war, then voted to pay for it. Those who criticized the war found themselves on the defensive. But now, almost overnight, the landscape seems to be changing.

The latest sign, Democrat John Murtha, former Marine intelligence officer, twice wounded Vietnam veteran, hawkish supporter of the war, says he's changed his mind.

MURTHA: It's time to bring them home. They have done everything they can do. The military has done everything they can do. This war has been so mishandled from the very start. Not only was the intelligence bad, the way they disbanded the troops. There's all kinds of mistakes have been made. They don't deserve to -- to -- to continue to suffer. They're the targets.

JOHNS: Plenty of Democrats, including Murtha, have voiced misgivings about Iraq. But, until now, he has always looked for ways to fix the problem. Today, he said, enough is enough.

MURTHA: They can't speak for themselves. These -- these soldiers are the most proud. They follow discipline. They can't -- we -- we're obligated to speak for them.

JOHNS (on camera): Did you ever think, when you were taking that vote, that you were going to find yourself at this point?

MURTHA: When I see how badly it's been run -- we don't have enough troops. We can't get it under control right away. It gets out of control. And then we start losing troops. And then they turn against us.

JOHNS (voice-over): Republicans, from the White House on down, immediately saw the power of Murtha's announcement. The response came in a chorus. The speaker of the House led the way, charging that Democrats want to cut and run from Iraq. The rank-and-file expanded on the theme.

REP. J.D. HAYWORTH (R), ARIZONA: Many on the Democratic side have revealed their exit strategy, surrender. The American people will not stand for surrender.

JOHNS: That kind of counterattack against the war's critics helped Republicans retain their majority Congress in the last election. But, instead of backing down, this time, Democrats appear to be ramping it up a notch.

The 2004 Democratic ticket for the White House has weighed in. First, John Edwards proclaimed in a newspaper article: "I was wrong. It was mistake to vote for this war in 2002."

Then Senator John Kerry told CNN, there's no way he would vote for this war again.

SEN. JOHN KERRY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: I think anybody worth their salt ought to -- ought to see the mistakes and incompetence of this administration. And how could you possibly say you're going to vote to let this incompetent administration go out and be incompetent again? Of course I wouldn't do that.

JOHNS: Why, suddenly, are Democrats showing more resolve than usual on Iraq? Democrat Joe Biden, potential contender for president in 2008, says, one reason is, even some Republicans are now expressing frustration with the progress of the war. And he cited a leadership- sponsored resolution demanding a plan.

(on camera): Do you think this is cut-and-run?

SEN. JOSEPH BIDEN (D), DELAWARE: Absolutely not.

I don't think that you see -- I wouldn't call the vote of Bill Frist and the vote of -- of Republican conservative Chairman Warner as cut-and-run. We're saying, Mr. President, give us a plan, man.

JOHNS (voice-over): But it's not just GOP jitters. There's the falling public support, the rising death count. And, for some, it's up close and personal.

REP. DAVID OBEY (D), WISCONSIN: It's when somebody comes up to you on the street, saying: My son's going back there again for the third time. What are you guys doing about it? Only a dunce would not be thinking about that. JOHNS: Democrats have long struggled to come up with the right things to say about Iraq. Tonight, many are hoping a message is starting to come together.

Joe Johns, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Well, the Bush administration has wasted no time countering Murtha's statement.

White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan has released this statement -- quote -- "Congressman Murtha is a respected veteran and a politician who has a record of supporting a strong America. So, it is baffling that he is endorsing the policy positions of Michael Moore and the extreme liberal wing of the Democratic Party. The eve of -- the eve of an historic democratic election in Iraq is not the time to surrender to the terrorists. After seeing his statement, we remain baffled. Nowhere does he explain how retreating from Iraq makes America safer."

And, just moments ago, Michael Moore released this statement exclusively to CNN. He said: "Unfortunately, the president doesn't understand that it is mainstream Middle America who has turned against him and his immoral war and that is I and the Democrats who represent the mainstream. It is Mr. Bush who is the extremist."

CNN White House correspondent Suzanne Malveaux has more on the administration's strategy.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice over): President Bush touring South Korea's oldest Buddhist temple, 7,000 miles away from home but not out of reach from his political troubles. Earlier in the day, appearing with South Korea's president for an Asian trade summit, Mr. Bush jumped at the chance to answer Democratic criticism that the White House deliberately used misleading intelligence to go to war with Iraq.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This is serious business making -- winning this war. But it's irresponsible to do what they've done. So, I agree with the vice president.

MALVEAUX: The vice president, just hours earlier in Washington, let loose on the Democrats.

DICK CHENEY, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: 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)

MALVEAUX: Cheney has kept a relatively low profile since the indictment of his chief of staff, Scooter Libby, in the CIA leak case. Now he's assuming a job he had during the presidential elections, stinging the opposition with the sharpest of words.

SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV), MINORITY LEADER: Unfortunately, he brought his bunker mentality with him to the speech. He's repeating the same tired attacks we have heard from administrative officials over the last two weeks.

MALVEAUX: The White House campaign-style offensive has been criticized by Republican Senator Chuck Hagel. The Vietnam veteran says questioning the government is not unpatriotic.

But the president draws a distinction.

BUSH: Listen, I -- it's patriotic as heck to disagree with the president. It doesn't bother me. What bothers me is when people are irresponsibly using their positions and playing politics.

MALVEAUX (on camera): White House officials that Democrats have crossed a bright line in accusing the administration of misleading the American people, and that misleading charges gone unanswered soon turn into facts, leaving the president with no choice but to respond.

Suzanne Malveaux, CNN, Busan, South Korea.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Well, some Democrats are saying the pre-war intelligence was cooked by the White House. The administration is saying the Democrats had the exact same intelligence the White House did. But is that really true?

We asked CNN national correspondent David Ensor to look back and separate facts from fictions.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DAVID ENSOR, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The president and his aides have counterattacked against critics with two major arguments -- the key one: Congress and the administration had access to the same intelligence.

BUSH: And members of the United States Congress from both political parties looked at the same intelligence on Iraq, and reached the same conclusion: Saddam Hussein was a threat.

ENSOR: In a general sense, that is true. U.S. intelligence believed Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, and said so in a national intelligence estimate Congress had access to before the war.

But it is not accurate to say Congress and the administration looked at all the same intelligence. The White House had access to far more than lawmakers did. Presidential daily briefs on intelligence are never given to Congress. Some intelligence available to the White House but not to Congress gave reason to doubt some of the president's blunt pre-war assertions, for example, that Iraq had helped al Qaeda on weapons.

BUSH: We have learned that Iraq has trained al Qaeda members in bomb-making, in poisons, and deadly gases.

ENSOR: The president said that in October 2002. Yet, eight months earlier, the Defense Intelligence Agency questioned the reliability of the captured al Qaeda operative who was the source of that assertion in a document delivered to the White House. It was recently declassified at the insistence of Democratic Senator Carl Levin.

Speaking of Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi, the DIA said -- quote -- "It is more likely this individual is intentionally misleading the debriefers."

Pentagon spokesmen called the release of the DIA document -- quote -- "irresponsible" and "out of context."

The next major argument from the White House, independent reviews have already determined that the administration did not misrepresent the intelligence before the war.

STEPHEN L. HADLEY, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: They were looked at by the Silberman-Robb commission. They were looked at by the Senate Intelligence community -- Committee. Both of them concluded that there was no manipulation of intelligence.

ENSOR: But, in fact, no commission or committee has yet spoken on whether the White House misrepresented pre-war intelligence. The Senate Intelligence Committee, under pressure from Democrats, is working on it. The orders to the Silberman Commission from the White House specifically left it out.

LAURENCE SILBERMAN, FORMER CHAIRMAN, IRAQ WMD COMMISSION: Our executive order did not direct us to deal with the use of intelligence by policy-makers. And all of us were agreed that that was not part of our inquiry.

ENSOR (on camera): There is, however, plenty of blame to go around. Congress may have voted on Iraq without doing its homework. Members could read the 92-page national intelligence estimate by signing in at a reading room to do so. "The Washington Post" reported that no more than six senators and a handful of House members took time to read beyond the five-page executive summary.

David Ensor, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Funny, that.

360 next -- what is happening behind the scenes among Republicans and Democrats right now? In a moment, our Washington correspondents peel back the curtain on what's going on behind the scenes and about the war.

And trying to get to the bottom of what's happening with unidentified bodies in New Orleans. How come hundreds of people remain unidentified and no DNA testing has yet been done?

We are "Keeping Them Honest" when 360 continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Before the break, we told you how Democrats and the Bush administration are in a bitter war of words over the mission in Iraq. Of course, these two sides have sparred many times before. But, this time, it is different. This time, Mr. Bush doesn't appear to have the full support of his party. And he has lost the popular support he enjoyed for so long.

As CNN chief national correspondent John King reports, however, as different as this battle is for the president, it is hauntingly familiar.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The self-described war president finds himself at a dangerous crossroads.

PETER HART, DEMOCRATIC POLLSTER: The public has made a determined point of view: It's time to get out. They have figured out that we are not going to be successful, we have crossed the Rubicon, and there's no coming back.

KING: The White House bristles at any talk the Iraq mission is doomed to failure and at comparisons to another time, when even some who supported the war said it was time to bring the troops home.

HART: There's the comparison, because when you look at honesty and trust, the president, who used to be at 60 percent, is now down at a third of the American public saying that they trust him. Those are LBJ-type numbers.

KING: Sixty-three percent of Americans disapprove of how the president is handling Iraq, a 12-point jump since just after he won reelection last year, and a nearly 40 percent increase in disapproval since just after the war began.

And 54 percent of Americans now say it was mistake to send troops to Iraq, up 10 points from before last year's election and up more than 30 points since before the war.

Former Johnson aide Jack Valenti remembers a White House besieged by an unpopular war.

JACK VALENTI, FORMER AIDE TO PRESIDENT LYNDON BAINES JOHNSON: It is eerily and dismally familiar. I think he has to deal with reality. No question about this has an effect, I think, on other parts of the administration's policies that they want to pass. KING: The Bush White House labels irresponsible a fresh call for a firm timetable for bringing home the troops. Such talk also does not sit well with many who remember Vietnam firsthand and worry another bitter war debate in Washington will deflate troop morale.

GENERAL HUGH OVERHOLT, U.S. ARMY (RET.): I worry very much about that, because that would be one element of -- of the Vietnam deal that would be -- I think kill what we're doing in Iraq. We cannot have that.

KING: The White House and its allies believe the December Iraqi elections could be a turning point and could allow Mr. Bush to start bringing troops home on his terms.

SEN. JOHN WARNER (R), VIRGINIA: Now is the time. The next 60, 90, 120, 180 days, that period is most critical.

KING: Perhaps, but Democratic pollster Hart believes a president whose approval rating has slipped below 40 percent is dangerously close to a point of no return.

HART: There isn't a road back up to 50 or 55 percent. I think that he is going to have a hard time getting to the 40, 45 percent, but that's what he has to do to be able to govern.

KING: As this current debate stirs memories, Valenti sees parallels between two stubborn Texans in presidencies defined by unpopular war.

VALENTI: And it hurts. It's not easy to take. And no matter what anybody says, presidents have feelings. And -- and they -- they are subject to the same kind of desolating feelings that other people have.

KING: John King, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: In a moment, John King and our D.C. correspondents tell us the bottom line in the latest war of words in Washington.

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.

Court documents showing police seized 54 guns from the Pennsylvania home of the teen accused of killing his girlfriend's parents. Eighteen-year-old David Ludwig is being held without bail on murder charges. Police say he killed his 14-year-old girlfriend's parents Sunday, then fled the state with her. Ludwig, you may recall, was captured on Tuesday in Indiana after a high-speed chase.

Meantime, in Washington, Iraq war protester Cindy Sheehan and 26 other activists found guilty of protesting without a permit near the White House. And this is how the arrests went down back in September. Sheehan and the others were all ordered to pay $75 fines, as well as court costs. Sheehan's lawyers plans to appeal.

Also, in Washington, Tamiflu concerns, and that is because the Food and Drug Administration really alarmed by the deaths of 12 children in Japan who took that anti-flu medication. There are no reports of deaths here in the U.S. An FDA official says they can't say for sure just what caused the deaths in Japan. But we should point out, the agency is looking into it.

And, off the coast of Indonesia, hopes of preventing a repeat of last year's deadly tsunami -- Indonesia has now activated two buoys, part of its tsunami early warning system. And, by 2009, 30 buoys will be installed along Sumatra's coast. We should also point out, India and Thailand both setting up similar systems.

COOPER: Certainly some good news there.

Erica, thanks.

Coming up next on 360, clearly, the war over the war heating up -- new calls to withdraw American troops from Iraq and a swift a counterpunch from the White House. But is it just politics as usual? We will hear from the people who know the story best. Our Washington correspondents give us the bottom line.

And hundreds of bodies still unidentified in Louisiana, hundreds of families waiting to reclaim their loved ones -- just one question: Why is it taking so long?

We are "Keeping Them Honest" tonight.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Well, tonight, we have been telling you about that heated back-and-forth between Democrats and Republicans over the war in Iraq. It's been very intense these past couple of days, especially tonight, each side taking shots at the other.

Let's get to the bottom line.

CNN's Suzanne Malveaux joins us from South Korea, Joe Johns and John King, as well, from Washington, also senior military analyst, retired Brigadier General James "Spider" Marks.

Good to have you all with us.

Suzanne, let me start off with you.

You know, you -- you have Bush and Cheney now coming out very strong. Is this a sign -- is there a sense among the administration, among the people you're following that they are reinvigorated, that this -- that they are on message and have momentum?

MALVEAUX: Well, it's certainly an opportunity for them to fight back.

It was very interesting, this morning, how this whole thing developed with Congressman Murtha -- initially, Dan Bartlett coming out, of course, saying that the president politely, respectfully disagrees with Murtha and his position to pull U.S. troops, and, of course, taking issue with the personal attacks against the president, the vice president, when it comes to their military service.

But, then, within the hour or so, this press statement that came from the press secretary himself, saying, essentially, that -- accusing Murtha of aligning, endorsing the policies of Michael Moore. I mean, that was really quite stunning -- Michael Moore, as you know, of course, really public enemy number one for the White House. It has been very, very clear that they're taking the opportunity to hit back and hit back very, very hard, really a sign that they're trying to nip this in the bud as quickly as possible.

COOPER: Joe, you -- Congress -- you cover Congress.

It seems -- and we're hearing from more and more Democrats. Are they trying to position themselves as the party of a pullout?

JOHNS: Well, what they're trying to do is figure out what their message is going to be, Anderson, quite frankly.

Almost a year now, people have been waiting to hear from John Murtha. Would he come out and say something about withdrawing the troops? Finally, he has. Of course, he carries a great deal of credibility. Number one, he's the ranking Democrat on the Defense Appropriations Committee -- Subcommittee.

He's also very well regarded on Capitol Hill. One Democrat I talked to today said people think of him as a four-star general. A lot of moderates listen to him, both on the left and right. So, this was an important day for that message to get out there -- some Democrats hoping this is the beginning of a message they can take going forward into the midterm elections -- Anderson.

COOPER: That message being a -- a pullout? I mean, that -- that's what they're going to rally behind?

JOHNS: Well, that message being: We speak for the troops. The troops are suffering. It's time for the troops to come home. The people of Iraq don't want the United States there.

That's essentially what he was saying today. And that is this kind of message some Democrats think they would like to meld into something they can take into the elections. Of course, on the other side of the coin, there's concern that they could still be described as anti-national security. And, so, they have to try to balance that a little bit -- Anderson.

COOPER: John King, you're a national correspondent, traveling around the country a lot. Murtha says that it's the American people who are out in front on this. Do you think that's true?

KING: There's no question that's true, Anderson.

They don't all endorse a specific timetable of six months. But I traveled the country this summer on this very issue. And the American people want more answers. They want different answers from the president. They have been hearing the same thing over and over again: We will get out when the Iraqis are ready. We're taking it to a democracy.

They want to hear more details. They want to know why things aren't going as well as they thought they were going to go.

One more quick point: There's a simple reason the president is fighting back so strongly, too. If you look at polling, he has lost the Democrats and he's lost the independents. He can't afford to lose the Republicans. He's trying to buy some time. How do you rally Republicans? Get in a good fight with the Democrats.

COOPER: That will do it.

Brigadier General Marks, I -- I mean, I know you -- I think you were probably surprised by Murtha's comments. You have met the man before, yes?

BRIGADIER GENERAL JAMES MARKS (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: I -- I was, very much so. He's a great patriot. He loves service members. And -- and, frankly, the leadership of the military has great respect for Congressman Murtha.

COOPER: I know you were -- I know you disagree with his -- his -- his timetable for a pullout, his call for -- for immediate withdrawal.

What I'm interested to hear from you, though, is what do you -- you know, both sides seem to be arguing about how -- what impact this is going to have on U.S. forces -- the Republicans saying, look, all this talk is not a good thing for U.S. troops in the field.

Every time I have got out on patrol with troops in Baghdad, I mean, they're Republicans and they're Democrats and they're independents. They're -- they make up the American population. Is this bad for morale?

MARKS: Anderson, let's -- let's be frank with everyone.

The American soldier is -- and Marine and airman and seaman, they are all extremely gifted and very bright. They know what their missions are. They're very focused. This is background noise that can be troubling. But, at the end of each mission and at the start of each mission, these young men and women are focused. And -- and, frankly, no, it really doesn't bug them.

I think it bugs their -- their leadership a little bit more at the -- at the senior levels. But the -- the great young men and women that are doing the heavy lifting are out there, and they're focused.

COOPER: Suzanne Malveaux, very briefly, where does this -- where does this debate go from here? I mean, what happens tomorrow?

MALVEAUX: Well, you know, it's very interesting, because the big question here, the president in South Korea, essentially the -- got the third largest contingency of troops inside of Iraq. Do they lose their kind of international support?

I mean, visiting with Japan and Mongolia as well -- already reports that South Korea may be actually considering pulling out some of its troops. One of the officials I spoke with said, look, they believe that these are critics that are going to come out, and you are going to hear the same kind of stories talking about chicken hawks and warmongers and things of that nature.

But they say, ultimately, these governments, these leaders are making decisions on big strategic issues, economics, security, things like that. So, they're trying to downplay it, say, look, you know, we don't believe it is going to pull out our international support.

But, you know, that's a big question, just whether or not it is going to happen. And there may be signs that is, in fact, happening.

COOPER: Suzanne, Joe, John, thanks very much.

Brigadier General Marks, thanks very much as well.

Coming up next on 360, what has become of those who died before our very eyes? The bodies of -- of New Orleans, why are they still not resting in peace?

And New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin on Capitol Hill, talking about cash, looking for Washington to pick up a lot of the tab to rebuild the city -- will he get any help, though?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: So why have so many bodies not beep identified in New Orleans? We're getting some answers in a moment. But first, here's what's happening right now.

This just in to CNN. A source familiar with the investigation says that Vice President Dick Cheney was not a source who tipped off Washington Post editor Bob Woodward about the identity of CIA officer Valerie Plame, that's according to the Associated Press who say that Woodward's notes make it clear Cheney did not leak her name to the reporter.

On Sarasota, Florida, today, this man was convicted of raping and strangling an 11-year-old girl. Last year's abduction was caught by a security camera, Carlie Brucia was walking home when Joseph Smith kidnapped her. Sentencing is next month. Smith could get the death penalty.

Tonight the Centers for Disease Control says the rate of HIV infections among African-Americans continues to drop. The government reports the decline is about 5 percent a year since 2001. But the CDC says African-Americans are still eight times more likely than whites to get the virus that causes AIDS.

And a return trip to space is put on hold for "Star Trek"'s Scotty. Actor James Doohan died in July. He wanted his cremated remains jettisoned into space. It was supposed to have happened next month, but the company behind the mission is delaying the launch, saying more rocket engine tests are needed.

Keeping them honest now. We're continuing to follow the story of all the lost identities of New Orleans, the flooding victims whose bodies are being warehoused here and there, warehoused, and terrible to say, fought over by families wanting to lay them to rest and authorities worried about paying the tab for the DNA testing required before those bodies can be released. A tragic epilogue to a tragic chapter in U.S. history. CNN's Rusty Dornin is standing by live in New Orleans to tell us where things stand right now -- Rusty.

RUSTY DORNIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, this has been a very ugly public mess for the past couple of months. In September, Louisiana state official said, we will take care of our own, we will process the dead, we will take care of the DNA testing.

But then financial reality set in, the state is broke. They sent bills to FEMA for some $25 million, saying that's how much it would cost to process the bodies for DNA testing. FEMA said, we are not going to do that. That's way too expensive. They began haggling and then this week it really began going back and forth.

On Tuesday we told you that FEMA said the DNA testing was their number one priority. They even planned a news conference for the next day on Wednesday. They ended up canceling it. They told us that they told the state that they won't pay for any of the DNA testing. More haggling went on.

Finally an agreement has been reached between the governor and FEMA. It looks like FEMA is going to pay 100 percent of the DNA testing at least until November 26th. Now what they're going to do is deposit $12 million or $13 million in an account. The state will begin processing the bodies in their lab and they will drawdown money.

But by November 26th, now remember, that's only next week, nine days from now, then they will have to pay 10 percent on the money that's left. Now Governor Blanco says the state will do that because it's their moral obligation to do so, however, even though their state covers are empty.

So, of course, this has been very ugly financial haggling, and all at the expense of hundreds of people who are mourning the loss of their loved ones and just trying to find out if they are indeed in that morgue -- Anderson.

COOPER: And, Rusty, I mean, you have spent time with some of these families, I mean, they are calling the morgues every day, they are trying to get information. And often it sounds like they're just not getting any information.

DORNIN: Not getting any information is putting it mildly. A woman we spoke to yesterday, Linda Hymel, she told us she received one call in the last two months, and that was last week, otherwise she has been the one to initiate everything. She is the one who has called to try to give DNA samples, to give DNA -- to give dental records, that sort of thing. And no one ever calls her back on this. And her brother's body was picked up four days after the storm. So you can see the frustration and anger on the part of a lot of these people.

COOPER: Understandable. Rusty Dornin, thanks very much for that.

Joining us live now from New Orleans is Orleans Parish coroner, Dr. Frank Minyard, who has held his job for a very long time, never under such difficult circumstances because there has never been such circumstances before.

Dr. Minyard, appreciate you joining us. Thanks very much. First of all, I have got to say, I can't imagine the conditions you're working under, you're sleeping in a trailer by your morgue, you're working seven days a week. So to all your people, I know you're working hard and I hope you know a lot of the people appreciate it.

DR. FRANK MINYARD, ORLEANS PARISH CORONER: Thank you.

COOPER: That being said, it has been two-and-a-half months since the hurricane, 321 bodies remain unidentified, and to my knowledge, no DNA testing done has even been conducted on these bodies. Why is that?

MINYARD: Well, because we couldn't get the lab to do it. And it's been a financial thing. But hopefully now, after today, we'll be able to do it. We have about 300 bodies that need DNA, 150 are completely unknown, the other 150 have presumptive diagnosis but not positive. So we need at least 300 tests done.

And of course, the tests take a while. So what this is doing is pushing this all back and is preventing the families from having their loved ones.

COOPER: How frustrating -- I mean, you've -- I know you've seen friends coming through your morgue who have died in this storm, so this is very personal for you. How frustrating is it though to know that I mean it's basically bureaucrats arguing over who is going to pay for this and following -- you know, getting caught up in red tape, that's what's delaying this DNA testing for two-and-a-half months. That has got to be extraordinarily frustrating for you.

MINYARD: All of us have worked hard. The DMORT people have been beautiful in helping us. But again, those 300 people should have been done before now and we're -- beginning now, I mean, we're going to be doing -- for the next three or four months we'll be doing it.

COOPER: Has any DNA testing been done? Because I talked to the government yesterday who didn't seem -- she seemed to think DNA testing kind of was being done. She didn't think this money thing was holding up any DNA, but it clearly is, right? MINYARD: Yes. We are taking the specimens from the remains and the people have been coming to the family assistance center, giving their specimens, but only one has been done that I'm aware of since it all began.

COOPER: It concerned me that the governor really didn't seem quite on top of exactly what was going on. Is it true that for the first month the state didn't even give you a phone or a fax machine in your morgue?

MINYARD: That's correct. We had to run the first month with cell phones and it didn't really work, it didn't work well at all.

COOPER: There have been a lot of critics to what has gone on at Saint Gabriel operation, Saint Bernard Parish Sheriff Stephens has called it a disaster. There have been complaints from families about mislabeled death certificates, lack of communication with grieving, and these agonizing long waits for bodies -- for families to be returned.

Rusty Dornin, you know, was talking about this one woman, Linda Hymel, who has only gotten one call from your office in these two months. What are the problems your office is having?

MINYARD: Well, it's the Family Assistance Center. The people need to call that number, it's 866-326-9393. That's the place where it all has to be done. I mean, we are just the mechanism for pick...

COOPER: Clearly, we lost the satellite. We got the satellite back, I think.

MINYARD: Yes, so...

COOPER: Dr. Minyard, I'm sorry, we lost the satellite just for a second for the last bit you were saying. Just continue, please.

MINYARD: The families have to go to the Family Assistance Center. The phone number is 866-326-9393. That's the place where it's all done. We just pick up the information and give it to them. And they do the remains from the information that we give them.

COOPER: There have been complaints though about you know mislabeled death certificates. In one case The New York Times reported cause of death was listed -- I mean, it said "Katrina- related," but it also said and "decomposition." I mean, someone doesn't die of decomposition, do they?

MINYARD: No. We have put decomposition down but someone doesn't die from that. We're trying to explain the condition of the body and how difficult it was to do an accurate autopsy because of the decomposition.

COOPER: Dr. Minyard, again, I appreciate you joining us and, you know, I can't imagine what -- the conditions you're working under. And I know -- you know, I hope you get to return these bodies as quickly as possible to their loved ones. Thank you very much. MINYARD: We're trying very hard.

COOPER: I know that. Thank you very much, again.

Coming up next on 360, a plea for help. New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin goes to Washington saying the city and its people are in desperate need of more federal support. The question is, is anybody in Washington listening?

And ahead tonight, a killer is caught, another escapee, an attempted murderer is still on the run tonight. The latest on the prison break and a live interview with the host of "America's Most Wanted," John Walsh.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: We keep hearing that in Washington politicians have "Katrina fatigue," they are moved on to other issues, other problems. Well, if you want to know who has true Katrina fatigue, talk to evacuees who are waiting to return home living in hotels, or family members waiting to collect their loved ones from the morgue. Today in Washington, New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin was fighting to get more money for his city and for rebuilding the levees to protect it.

CNN's Tom Foreman was following him around.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): More than twice as much money as NASA needs to put humans back on the moon, twice as much as the government of India spends in a year, six times as much as the entire homeland security budget, that's how much money New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin needs, $250 billion to rebuild the nation's 35th- largest city. And he's furiously working Washington to pick up a lot of that tab.

MAYOR RAY NAGIN, NEW ORLEANS: I would like to see things happen much quicker, but they're not, so I have to agitate, stimulate, bother, become a pest, if you will. And that's what we're trying to do to make sure that we get the resources.

Now get off your asses and let's do something!

FOREMAN: Nagin's angry call for federal help in the chaos after Katrina has been transformed into a calm insistent push. He visits D.C. once a week now to plead his case.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), MINORITY LEADER: I think that Congress on both sides of the aisle stand ready to help the people.

FOREMAN: This meeting was to figure out if tens of thousands of homeowners can be kept out of foreclosure as they try to recover. It may get a vote by year's end. Beyond the committees, he's doing what politicians do: shaking hands, comparing notes, worrying that Katrina fatigue is already sapping the political will to help. NAGIN: I'm not up here talking about whether you should give me $250 billion or not. I'm saying, give me three things: build my levees, help me with housing, and create the right environment for both businesses and people to come back. And we'll take it from there.

FOREMAN: Nagin knows this is a terrible time to remind people of the flood. Washington is wrapped up in war, a Supreme Court nomination, a CIA leak scandal, even bird flu. He knows, too, many here think he was in over his head during the storm and still is.

(on camera): Are you the right man for this effort, because you know there questioning you about that?

NAGIN: Well, you know, I'm in a leadership position, I've taken some tough stance, I've -- you know, done some things very well and I could have done some things much better. But going forward, my background, I definitely think I'm the right man for the job.

FOREMAN (voice-over): The question remains what do the widely scattered voters of New Orleans think? They're to vote in February on whether Ray Nagin remains their man in Washington and mayor of their town.

Tom Foreman, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Tough job. Coming up next on 360, two felons make a bold break from jail. Law enforcement sets off on a massive search, nabs one of the cons today but where is his buddy? We'll talk to "America's Most Wanted" host John Walsh.

Plus, who did you lie to today? Come on, don't deny it, everybody lies. The question is why and how much? We'll tell you the hard truth and take your calls about whether we've become a nation of liars, when 360 continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: One caught, one on the run, the latest on the nationwide manhunt for a dangerous prison escape. But first, Erica Hill from HEADLINE NEWS has some of the other stories we're following right now.

Hey, Erica.

HILL: Hey, Anderson. This first one is pretty amazing. It's a very rare operation, a mother giving up her own nerve tissue to help her son get his left hand back. Doctors at John Hopkins Hospital say the surgery went as planned though they won't know for a few months whether it was a success. The boy's arm has been paralyzed since a car accident nearly a year ago. Doctors hope this type of surgery will help them save limbs they weren't able to save before.

In Waller, Texas, a spectacular fire at a historic rice-drying plant. The good news here, no one was injured, but as you can imagine, residents nearby a little concerned because this was one of the tallest buildings in the area. That shed, by the way, dated back to World War II.

In Nevada, near the California border, former Hollywood madam Heidi Fleiss planning to open a little brothel that caters to women. Fleiss, you may recall, had gone to prison for operating a call girl ring. Her upcoming bordello in Nevada, where prostitution is legal, will be called, get this, Heidi Fleiss' Stud Farm.

And speaking of studs, rock star Bono, love him, landed on People magazine's annual list of the sexiest men alive. They're playing in Atlanta tonight, but I'm staying with you, Anderson, because I like working. And while Bono may seem like an obvious choice, you might be surprised to learn this man also made the list, special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald, who's investigating the leak of a CIA officer's name. Now when asked about the honor, Fitzgerald, as always, said, no comment. Matthew McConaughey...

COOPER: I'm just waiting, I'm just waiting.

HILL: ... on the cover. And our own AC 360. So let's take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: And good evening, thanks for joining us. A double murder suspect in custody tonight.

HILL (voice-over): We've seen his serious side.

COOPER: ... of the victims, we're going to bring you the latest on that.

HILL: And his silly side. Sometimes, he's passionate.

COOPER: ... respond perhaps to what Congressman Kucinich said.

HILL: More often, he's, well, windswept.

COOPER: And it's obviously very hard to stand.

This is the kind of thing that can cause real problems.

The winds are a little bit stronger right now. I have got some video to show -- oh, man!

HILL: But the powers that be at People magazine see another side of our very own Anderson Cooper. They say he's one of the sexiest men of the year.

OK. We'll admit, he didn't take home the top honor, that pantheon of all things sexy, the People cover, or the title that goes with it, sexiest man alive. No, that belongs to the Jude Laws and the Johnny Depps, the Pierce Brosnans, and the Ben Afflecks, the guys named Brad, and Tom, and this year's winner, Matthew McConaughey. But sexiest man alive, well, that's just one title. And the intrepid Anderson Cooper couldn't settle for just one. The People people say he's not only sexy, he's smart. Duh, can you say "Celebrity Jeopardy"?

ALEX TREBEK, HOST, "CELEBRITY JEOPARDY: Anderson.

COOPER: What is an aardvark?

TREBEK: That's it.

COOPER: What is Berlin?

TREBEK: Yes.

COOPER: What is the iguana?

TREBEK: That's it.

HILL: And the smart and sexy section of the magazine puts him in very good company. People describes them as "guys whose IQs exceed their body temperatures," guys like Bono, and of course, Patrick Fitzgerald, the man the magazine calls "the very special prosecutor leading the CIA leak investigation."

Now we know the public didn't get a say in selecting the sexiest men, that was pretty much left the People's editor. So we took our own poll, and Anderson's public concurs.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think he's incredibly intelligent, eloquent.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's got those blue eyes, right, graying a little, the salt and pepper.

COOPER (live): How long is this piece?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Suave, sophisticated. He's very intelligent, and that's what makes him attractive.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mature, sexy.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Who's Anderson Cooper?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't know who Anderson Cooper is.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Allison Cooper?

HILL: Well, almost.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(LAUGHTER)

HILL: But, I mean, that's only what, like out of the people that Jeanne found on the street, that's, you know, only like a third of them who didn't know who you are. So don't be too upset.

COOPER: You're dead to me, Erica Hill.

(LAUGHTER)

COOPER: That's it, I used to like you, but now...

HILL: That's not true. I'm going to come back and hang out with you at 11:00.

COOPER: Oh great, yes, we'll see about that.

HILL: It's been nice knowing you.

COOPER: Thanks, I guess. All right. See you later.

Coming right up, a CNN exclusive, pictures that seem to show Iraqis torturing their own countrymen, as if that troubled nation needed another problem.

And a look at what life and death are really like in North Korea. Just today, President Bush had some tough words directed at the country, saying nuclear weapons will not be tolerated. We'll show you some hidden camera images that are simply stunning.

Also tonight, we will talk about why people lie, honest, we will. Call or send us an e-mail with your whopper. An ethicist will weight. Call 877-648-3639. Have we become a nation of liars? Or you can log onto our Web site, cnn.com/360. Click on the "instant feedback" link, tell us the worst lie you ever told. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Welcome to 360. A prison break is over for a convicted murderer, but his partner in crime is still on the run.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ANNOUNCER: An escaped killer caught after three days on the run, but where is his prison breakout buddy? "America's Most Wanted" host John Walsh joins us live with the latest on the manhunt.

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

Search
© 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 CNN.com
Pipeline Icon Pay service with live and archived video. Learn more
Radio News Icon Download audio news  |  RSS Feed Add RSS headlines