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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES

Phoenix High-Rise Hostage Standoff; Sunni-Shia Violence Erupts in Iraq; White House Releases Hurricane Katrina Report; Inside the Church of Scientology

Aired February 23, 2006 - 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: We begin tonight with a breaking story -- a drama that is unfolding as we speak at a high-rise office building in central Phoenix, Arizona. That is the scene from a helicopter.
Local officials just held a news conference and said a man who was at a meeting on the 18th floor of that high-rise, in a National Labor Relations Board office, pulled a gun, and is holding up to nine hostages.

You see the police are on the scene, fire trucks, emergency personnel. Police say they are in communication with the man. That is the good news -- no word on whether shots have been fired or anyone has been hurt, or exactly how many hostages are being held right now. We will be following this story throughout the evening. And we will bring you developments as we learn them.

In the meantime, to give us some insight, joining us on the phone right now is Robert Louden, a former hostage negotiator for the New York Police Department, a legendary hostage negotiator, an adviser to the Department of Justice. He's currently a professor of criminal justice at Georgian Court College in Lakewood, New Jersey.

Mr. Louden, appreciate you joining us.

Can you give us some idea of what may be happening in a process like this? What -- what are police saying to this man?

ROBERT LOUDEN, FORMER NEW YORK POLICE DEPARTMENT CHIEF HOSTAGE NEGOTIATOR: Well, I -- I think, in the beginning -- and I'm not sure exactly what time it started. I guess it's about a half-hour since -- since inception.

COOPER: That's what we believe.

LOUDEN: The beginning is -- is among the most crucial time periods, where the authorities want to, first of all, establish direct communication, so that they know that they have an -- an open line and that they're talking to the individual that is charge, in -- in fact, holding innocent victims.

And -- and the idea of the authorities, at this point in time, is to kind of calm it down and slow it down, indicate to the individual that things can be worked out, that they will have to find out, you know, what all the parameters are, that -- that -- why this person is holding.

But, basically, right now, it's to slow down and get a realization of -- of what's happening in the -- the NLRB location itself and whatever else it might be located to.

COOPER: How -- in -- in a case like this, I mean, how would you establish, first of all, contact with a gunman?

LOUDEN: Well, in -- in this day and age, not to sound flip about it, but -- but, you know, telephones, cell phones. There -- there are so many ways of instant communication, that it is probably relatively easier now than it was almost 30 years ago, when I first started to become a hostage negotiator, in order to make contact.

And -- and, so, one of the most crucial things is that the authorities want to make sure that they're really talking to an individual that is, in fact, involved with this, that you -- you get hoax calls. You get people that get on a phone that, really, they aren't involved. And, so, they -- they're working out a system, I'm sure, to make sure that they're talking to the individual that has started this event, assure that person that things can be worked out, and try to get realization of what's happening.

COOPER: The fact that it's happening in a high-rise building, does that make it more difficult?

LOUDEN: Well, there's certain tactical problems that present themselves.

I will -- I will just put it that way. You know, the -- the location of the situation as far as dynamics between a holder and his or her victims, and a holder and the authorities that are attempting a negotiation are -- are pretty much -- have a lot of things in common.

When you go into a high-rise, you have some additional problems. I think you mentioned he's armed with a firearm. That means line of sight is line of fire, and he could fire not only at people in the building, but also outside the building. Tactical officers have to be very, very careful.

Phoenix, by the way, has been involved in hostage recovery, hostage negotiation, to my knowledge, for more than -- more than 20 years, and they're well adept at it. But, yes, high-rise does present some -- some particular problems.

I have been involved in some situations, including many, many years ago in the World Trade Center in -- in the late '70s, early '80s, in Rockefeller Center, places like that, where you have particular concerns about where you are, and -- and the line of sight of everything that's going on.

COOPER: Robert, there was a press conference held just a few moments ago. We are just going to play that. It's about 45 seconds or so.

And, then, we want to talk to you about some of the things that came out in that.

Let's listen.

LOUDEN: Sure.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There has -- there has been a lot of communication. I can't tell you any of the specifics as to what has been talked about.

QUESTION: How many weapons does he have?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He has one weapon that we are aware of.

QUESTION: Do you have multiple negotiators talking with him or is it one person that is doing all of the communicating here?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I can't speak to the specific situation, but, generally, we have a person that's, you know, a regular communicator with that suspect, that they can be comfortable with. It doesn't mean that there aren't other things that may go on.

But the tactics and how they go ahead and deliver them in a situation is entirely up to that tactical unit that's handling them.

QUESTION: And is it an open line, or is it, like, every 15 minutes, we call him; he calls us? How does that work?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's as open as possible, as we can -- if it's continuous, that would be just fine with us. And that's what we try to do.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Robert, how important is that -- that personal contact, especially in these early -- in these early moments?

LOUDEN: Well, I mean, personal contact is the key.

The individual from -- from the police department that makes contact, that starts talking to the -- the holder, is -- is putting him or her self in a position of -- of trust and confidence. They're putting him or her self in a position where they're -- they're telling this person, listen, I can help you with whatever this instant problem is, not long-term problem-solvers, not -- not making whatever happened go away, but I can help you with this instant problem.

So, building rapport is the key. Sometimes, the initial police talker is the one that will build a rapport. Sometimes, you switch negotiators. And -- and that's -- there's -- there's a number of team efforts going on at once. You have got a command team that -- that is in charge of the whole incident.

You have got a tactical team that -- that, as the word implies, they're -- they're the special weapons and tactics people, that -- that have certain things that they -- they have to do for themselves and for others.

And you have got the -- the negotiating team, which is an element of people. One only at a time is talking, but other people are doing all sorts of support activities.

Getting back to your high-rise question before, one of the keys in -- in this is a really close working relationship between negotiators and tactical officers, because of -- of some of the -- the unique problems of the high-rise setting.

COOPER: What if you have a -- a hostage? And, I mean, you have -- you have negotiated hundreds of these cases. I was reading your bio. Just -- it's incredible, your history.

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: What -- what if you have a -- a hostage-taker who is making just outrageous demands, or demands which there's no way can ever be met?

LOUDEN: Well, part of the process -- and -- and I want -- I want to say this clearly to -- to you and to the audience -- and -- and I don't want to sound flippant, but, even, potentially to the individual holding.

People know that they make it on television. And if he's listening to this, my suggestion is that he stop watching you, as good a show as you have, and start talking directly to the police, because it's the police that are going to be able to get a realization with -- from him as to what he wants, try to sort it out, see if there are some common grounds in there that can be worked out, and -- and, basically, defuse.

There's a defusion that goes on. As rapport builds up, you try to defuse tension. You try to defuse anxiety. And -- and someplace along the line, you get to a point that you have built some trust and confidence with this individual, where now you can start talking about, substantively, you know, a sign of good faith, to have somebody come out, or -- or maybe some -- some other kind of process.

I don't know what the demands are. And, right now, it's not all that important to me. It's the process that's going on of rapport- building, information-gathering, and defusing of a very volatile situation.

COOPER: Well, as we said, just to -- for those who are just joining us, there's a hostage situation in a high-rise building in Phoenix, Arizona. We believe there's just one hostage-taker. It is not clear how many people may be taken hostage.

There was a report, nine people -- authorities said up to nine people. We don't know if they are still currently being held or if some of them may have been released. We're trying to gather as much information as we can and give it to you when we have it.

But, as Robert Louden, a hostage negotiator, pointed out, it is very possible, even, that the person in -- in that building or persons in that building are listening to the television. So we, of course, are -- are not going down the road of speculation.

Robert, appreciate you joining us.

We are going to continue to follow this situation throughout the hour.

But there's a lot happening, both in the United States and around the world that we need to tell you about. So, we will come back to this story shortly.

We want to turn to Iraq and a very scary thought, the possibility of American troops on the ground there caught in the middle of a civil war. We're not there yet, and there's still a chance we could see a unified democratic Iraq blossom. But, from the looks of things tonight, from the looks of things these last two days, at least on the surface, things seems awfully grim.

This is what Iraq looked like today -- in various parts, in various parts of the country, throngs of people crowding streets and squares, weapons displayed, angry at recent attacks at mosques and holy sites. Iraq's Sunni and Shia factions have been fighting each other ever since a Shia shrine was bombed yesterday.

By this evening, more than 120 people had been killed. Seven U.S. soldiers were killed yesterday by roadside bombs north of Baghdad, as troops in the capital are being told to halt all but essential travel, to avoid getting caught up in this sectarian conflict.

It has gotten so out of hand, the new Iraqi government has extended the evening curfew into Friday afternoon, hoping that will somehow ease the uprising.

We have extensive reporting on this tonight, as well as explanations of what the enmity is between the Shia and -- and the Sunni Muslims.

First, CNN's Aneesh Raman is there.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ANEESH RAMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Only 48 hours ago, to the Shia Muslims here and all over the world, this mosque was profoundly sacred, the holiest of places.

And now, today, still sacred, it is a ruin, the Golden Dome destroyed, the desecration, a call to arms and, some fear, a fatal blow to any hope of a unified Iraq, because there are those who want Iraqis to turn on Iraqi, Shia against Sunni, Sunni against Shia.

Witnesses report, armed men stormed the Shia holy place, bound the guards, and detonated bombs. And, in the immediate aftermath, thousands took to the streets, including loyal followers of radical Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr who took up arms. The past 48 hours have seen an eruption of bloody vengeance. More than 50 Sunnis have been killed in Baghdad alone. Well over 100 Sunni sites have come under attack. It has long been feared that, in an Iraq without Saddam's repressive controls, the historically deep divisions among Muslim sects could burst into further violence.

Tonight, Sunni religious leaders are accusing Shia clerics of triggering the protests that turned violent. And Sunni politicians have pulled out of talks with the Shia and Kurds over uniting the new Iraqi government.

On the streets and in the shadow of the Shia's desecrated mosque, the Shia are still enraged. The Sunnis are in pain, again, raising the question: Can the U.S. really pull troops out of a country that seems so ready to explode?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Aneesh, you know, the pictures are dramatic.

How bad it is really? I mean, we have seen those kind of pictures before. On the ground, where you are, what you have seen with your own eyes, how bad it is?

RAMAN: It's very serious here, Anderson. It's a rapidly deteriorating situation -- as you mentioned, extraordinary measures by the Iraqi government, a daytime curfew for Baghdad and three neighboring provinces.

That's important, because Friday noon prayers are the most important prayers of the week. Iraqis will undoubtedly be outraged today that they are forced to stay at home. This situation has no end in sight at the moment. Everyday Iraqis are dealing with the uncertainty of what comes next -- Anderson.

COOPER: And -- and this is different because why?

RAMAN: It's different because we are seeing massive Shia response.

What has prevented civil war here before has been large-scale Shia violence. And we're hearing from Shia leaders, we're hearing from Shia on the streets that their patience is wearing thin. The Shia community has been the subject of near daily attacks by the Sunni-dominated insurgency.

Thousands of Shia have been killed, but they have yet to respond. They're now on the brink of responding in violence -- cautions of calm coming from their religious leaders and political leaders, but the anger on the street could simply erupt. And that's the biggest fear here tonight -- Anderson.

COOPER: Well said.

Aneesh, stick around. We are going to have a roundtable in just a moment. We want to look at exactly why these two groups of Iraqis are fighting each other, traditionally speaking. The bombing of the Shia shrine may have been the spark that caused the violence yesterday and today, but, for the Shia and Sunni factions, the conflict is anything but new. In fact, it has been going on for a very long time, all the more reason to be concerned about a civil war.

Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

(CHANTING)

COOPER (voice-over): The differences go back centuries, all the way back to the death of Islam's founder, the Prophet Mohammed, in the year 632.

At that time, Muslims could not agree over who should lead the faith. The Shia faction believed Mohammed's successor should be from his family, but the majority of Muslims, the Sunni, felt leadership could come from outside Mohammed's lineage. And that's where the divide began.

Over time, the Shia minority, about a fifth of the worldwide Muslim population, came to identify themselves as the permanent opposition to the Sunni majority. And, today, throughout the Middle East, the relationship between the two sects has been strained, at best.

Other factors have made Iraq different from the rest of the Muslim world. It's one of only four countries with a Shia majority. Shia Muslims, who live mostly in the south, make up about 60 percent of the population. About 30 percent of Iraq is Sunni. But they were the country's rulers under Saddam Hussein. And their oppression of the Shia majority just added to the hatred.

Today, with Saddam Hussein in jail and on trial, and with the oppressed Shia now in power, some members of the Sunni minority have resorted to violence, leading the insurgency against U.S. forces and other Iraqis.

Trying to keep these factions from dividing Iraq in the post- Hussein era hasn't been easy. And now, in the aftermath of yesterday's shrine bombings, many are wondering whether a unified Iraq can ever be a reality.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: A lot to talk about.

Joining me now once again from Baghdad, CNN's Aneesh Raman; in Washington, "TIME" magazine correspondent Brian Bennett; and, in New York, CNN terrorism analyst Peter Bergen.

Gentlemen, thanks, all, for being with us.

Peter is the author of "The Osama Bin Laden I Know: An Oral History of Al Qaeda's Leader." It is a fascinating read.

Peter, what is the likelihood that Abu Musab al-Zarqawi incited this violence by attacking the Shia mosque? I mean, isn't this exactly what the -- the -- the Sunni-based terrorists want?

PETER BERGEN, CNN TERRORISM ANALYST: Yes.

I mean, it is really going by his playbook. He wrote a letter to Osama bin Laden a little over a year ago, in which he basically sketched out a plan for inciting a Shia-Sunni civil war by provoking the Shia. He referred to the Shia in that letter as scorpions. It was a very racially -- almost racially-charged letter.

And, clearly, the attack on this mosque has sort of done that work for Zarqawi, whether or not it was Zarqawi himself who was responsible or -- or one of the sort of affiliated groups. But the idea that Zarqawi had is, once you get the civil war going, you will get all the -- the Sunnis, who are at the moment somewhat quiet or who haven't joined the insurgency, to recognize that this is a real existential fight, and get them involved in a wider civil war.

COOPER: Brian, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, one of the most influential Shia warned, "If the government's security" -- and this is a quote -- "If the government's security forces cannot provide the necessary protection, the believers will do it," these militias.

How significant are those comments? It sounds pretty ominous.

BRIAN BENNETT, BAGHDAD BUREAU CHIEF, "TIME": That -- that comment by Sistani is very significant. It really represents the dramatic change that we have seen in the country in the last couple of days.

As Aneesh said, previously, when there were attacks, for example, there was a -- an attack at the shrine in Najaf, where a Sunni political leader was killed, similar to this one. And we didn't see a massive Shiite response. And now we have seen that response. And the comments by Sistani are a great, unfortunate vote of no-confidence for the Iraqi security forces and the Americans to -- to protect these holy places.

And he says: Maybe we need to look at our own militias to protect the places that we hold dear.

COOPER: Yes.

Aneesh, what are American troops doing in all this? I mean, I know they're trying to just stay off the streets basically stay out of the way. But can they?

RAMAN: Well, they won't be able to, especially if the violence does erupt.

We have heard choppers go overhead throughout the night here in the capital. We do know, as you say, that the military is trying to stay out of this, as best that they can. But it's a numbers issue. The Iraqi security forces don't have the sheer numbers to protect all parts of this country. And if there's a large-scale violent response, they're not adequately prepared to deal with that.

And that's when things could spiral downwards. That is when the U.S. will have to make tough calls about how involved the forces will be. So, tonight, they're trying to stay out, waiting this out, hoping calm is what does come to the streets. But, if it does not, there are huge issues and huge security stakes up for grabs -- Anderson.

COOPER: Peter, I mean, what -- what -- what is the end game in this? Where does this go?

BERGEN: Well, I mean, there's a -- there could be a particular nasty outcome, if this develops into wider regional confrontations between the Shia and the Sunni. We have seen a great deal of Shia- Sunni violence in Pakistan. Over the past several years, hundreds of people have been killed. We have seen some of that in Afghanistan.

Don't forget, Anderson, that, you know, Iraq is the site of the holiest places for the Shia. And, so, what happens in Iraq is not simply an Iraqi problem; it's a regional problem for any Shia in that area.

COOPER: Peter Bergen, Brian Bennett, Aneesh Raman, thank you very much.

Aneesh, especially, stay safe. It is getting very risky to be in Baghdad right now.

Coming up next, the White House calls it lessons learned, its report card on Hurricane Katrina. But what were they really -- what did they really learn? What's in the report and what isn't? We're "Keeping Them Honest" tonight.

We are also going to take a look at the Church of Scientology, big-name stars and lots of secrets. We will hear from a woman who was granted unprecedented access.

And we continue to follow this breaking story out of Phoenix, Arizona -- a high-rise hostage crisis. In this building, a live shot you're seeing right now from our affiliate KPNX, there is a hostage- taker who has up to nine people hostage. We do not have an exact number.

The person is negotiating with police on and off, and we continue to follow the situation. We will have a live report coming up in just a few minutes.

From Atlanta tonight, and New York, and around the world, you're watching 360.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: We continue to follow this breaking story out of Phoenix, Arizona, tonight, the high-rise there inside that building. There is one hostage-taker who has up to nine hostages. It is not clear what, at this point, if anything, this person may be demanding.

As you can tell, there are a lot of police and emergency responders on the scene, tactical units, as well as hostage -- a hostage negotiator, who has established some sort of contact with this hostage-taker.

Again, we do not know what this person's demands are or why it was that they took at least -- perhaps up to nine people hostage. We continue to follow the study. And we will have a live report from the scene in just a few moments.

But, as we heard from a hostage negotiator that we talked to earlier on in the program, these initial minutes, the initial hour or so, is a key time, in terms of establishing contact with the hostage- taker, trying to figure out how many people that person has, and -- and what exactly their intentions are.

And we will tell you all the information we have as we get it. We're following the situation very closely.

Let's go to -- I'm -- I'm told we actually have a reporter right now on the scene, Courtney Zubowski, our affiliate reporter with KTVK.

Courtney, what can you tell us?

COURTNEY ZUBOWSKI, KTVK REPORTER: Well, we're outside the National Labor Relations Board office. That's where this is all going on.

If you want to take a look there, this is going on, on the 18th floor, inside a courtroom here -- like you said, nine people believed to be held hostage, including what we are told could be a judge.

Now, around 3:30 this afternoon, about five hours ago, when this all started, there was some sort of labor dispute trial going on. They believe that the man who is holding those nine people hostage may be connected to that employment dispute. We are told that they are negotiating with him; there is a good line of communication.

We're told now that the suspect's wife is here, and he has been in contact with his wife. So, hopefully, she can say something to help bring him down and get the hostages out here safely.

COOPER: So, Courtney, what -- you say this began about five hours ago. What was the first indication that police got that...

ZUBOWSKI: Well, we talked to some people who were in an office next door, at a CPA office. And they said that they heard a -- a lot of screaming, police officers running upstairs, telling them to get out.

One person yelled something like: Get out. You don't want to die.

And, then, they came outside. They evacuated that 18th floor, then evacuated some other parts of the building that they felt they needed to, in order for people to be safe. So, it might have been some sort of calls from people in neighboring offices that something wasn't right.

COOPER: And do you have any sense of -- of how -- what kind of communication they're having with this hostage-taker? Is it -- is it constant communication? Is it intermittent?

ZUBOWSKI: They won't really get into detail, as far as what communication they do have going on.

But they do say that there is communication, and that really is the important thing. And they just want to make sure that this communication continues.

COOPER: And -- and where -- to your knowledge, where is the wife now of this hostage-taker?

ZUBOWSKI: We believe she's here, and that she is talking with her husband, in order to help police here get her (sic) down.

We're not sure if she is involved in something that was going on with this employment dispute or not. So, we're just getting about -- updates every 30 minutes from police. And the main thing they're pushing right now is the fact that the negotiations are ongoing, and he is willing to talk with them.

COOPER: And where in -- in Phoenix is this building?

ZUBOWSKI: We are in central Phoenix, right near downtown. We are at the streets of Central and Virginia.

When this was going on, a lot of people around here, a lot of people in the building -- it was at 3:30 local time. Of course, that's just right in the middle of the business day. So, there were a lot of people around here wondering what's going on, standing around, with SWAT teams surrounding this building.

COOPER: And do you know more about the National Labor Relations Board? I mean, do you know what they do on a regular basis? I -- I assume they -- that this is where disputes, employment disputes, are settled?

ZUBOWSKI: Sure.

There's a courtroom up there, and that's where you go, and you negotiate in good faith. You go in front of a judge, and you talk about problems you may be having. It's hopefully -- they want peaceful resolutions, but, obviously, in this case, if this does involve something with the dispute, it is far from that.

COOPER: Courtney Zubowski, with KTV -- KTVK, I appreciate it, Courtney. I know it's a busy night for you. Thank you very much.

ZUBOWSKI: Sure.

COOPER: We will continue to check in throughout the hour on this breaking story out of Phoenix.

Now a new report on Hurricane Katrina. The White House today came out with its own version of what went wrong and what to fix. The report, the federal response to Hurricane Katrina, "Lessons Learned" -- that was the title -- contains 125 recommendations, one of the biggest, an overhaul of the federal national response plan.

At 217 pages, "Lessons Learned" is practically a pamphlet, by government standards. That says -- it still makes you wonder why the authors couldn't manage to shoehorn into it more than a passing mention of the man who was supposed to be in charge, not Michael Brown, his boss, who reports only to the president.

More now from Tom Foreman, who reports only to us and is "Keeping Them Honest."

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): He may not be welcome at Mardi Gras, and he barely appears in the White House Katrina report.

Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff is mentioned by name only five times in the main text. There's no discussion about whether he failed, as the top man in the government's storm response, or if he should be replaced, even though some in Congress are asking for just that.

REP. SHEILA JACKSON LEE (D), TEXAS: Do you believe you should be fired? Because I believe you should.

FOREMAN: The White House says the report is a blueprint for preparedness.

FRANCES FRAGOS TOWNSEND, WHITE HOUSE HOMELAND SECURITY ADVISER: And it -- it covers the gamut, from improving -- our support for evacuations, our logistics capability. Most important I think is the communications capability.

FOREMAN: Not included, however, discussion about whether it was a mistake to put the Federal Emergency Management Agency, FEMA, under the Department of Homeland Security.

Professional disaster managers say, the move cut FEMA's access to the president, crippling the ability of first-responders to get decisions approved quickly.

JOHN COPENHAVER, FORMER FEDERAL EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT AGENCY OFFICIAL: We need good leadership, and we need good structure. And we need to do away with a lot of the bureaucracy that comes from having FEMA being a part of Department of Homeland Security.

FOREMAN: Not included, continuing allegations of unresponsiveness by FEMA and Homeland Security, charges leveled by people still waiting for trailers, uncertain if their neighborhoods will be rebuilt. ANNE ECKERT, RESIDENT OF NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA: Let's hope that -- that FEMA will be more prepared this next time, and people will be able to be helped sooner, and, you know, put their lives back together, because, let me tell you, it has been a rough 145 days.

FOREMAN: Not included, questions about the levees -- were they as strong as they should have been? And how big a storm should the rebuilt levees be able to withstand right now?

WALTER BAUMY, ENGINEERING DIVISION CHIEF, U.S. ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS: We're not building a system to withstand a Katrina-level storm.

FOREMAN: Certainly, it can be argued that this report was never meant to address all that. But its limited scope makes it a sitting duck for administration critics.

JUDD LEGUM, RESEARCH DIRECTOR, CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS: It's not geared towards answering the tough questions. And I think that's fundamentally dishonest.

FOREMAN (on camera): In the end, is this report going to actually help any actual people?

LEGUM: I don't think any good is going to come out of this report, because I think it's a lot of words. And what people don't need are more words. What they need is action.

FOREMAN (voice-over): And many disaster experts say, what's missing in this report may be what matters when storms start churning again.

Tom Foreman, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Well, quick programming note: 360 heads back to the Gulf. Tomorrow, we are in Waveland, Mississippi, then New Orleans over the weekend and for Monday and Tuesday of next week. I hope you join us for our special coverage.

We have more breaking news. It is an evening of breaking news tonight. The Associated Press is reporting, Dubai Ports World has offered to delay part of its $6.8 billion deal to take over operations at six U.S. ports. This -- of course, this story has been a firestorm, a political firestorm, a national security firestorm, over the last several days over allegations, lots of congressmen, both Democrat and Republican, and senators saying it is inappropriate for a company from the United Arab Emirates, a state-owned company, I should point out, to have control over major U.S. ports, six ports, according to this deal.

Now the Associated Press reporting that Dubai Ports World, the company based in Dubai in the United Arab -- Arab Emirates, has offered to delay its plan. We're going to have -- continue following this story. We are going to have a lot more of that in just a few moments -- also including, tonight, if you have ever wondered about the Church of Scientology, what it's all about, but maybe you were afraid to ask or simply couldn't get the information, a writer for "Rolling Stone" magazine spent the last nine months going inside, or trying to go inside the controversial church.

What she found out when she came out may -- well, may answer some of your questions.

Plus, the bank robbery that has rocked England. The take that could reach $90 million, involved James Bond-style trickery, no bloodshed. We've got some late developments.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Well, Scientology stands for the study of truth. Yet, at the Church of Scientology, they've long guarded their truths like state secrets. But in the latest edition of "Rolling Stone" magazine that hits newsstands tomorrow, contributing editor Janet Reitman takes readers inside Scientology. Her report from encounters with street recruiters to dialogue within some of the Scientology's top leaders punctures the bubble first created by the religion's founder, L. Ron Hubbard.

Earlier we spoke with Janet Wrightman.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: So Janet, I've got to say, this is probably the most extensive article I've ever read about the Church of Scientology. What surprised you most in your research?

JANET REITMAN, "ROLLING STONE" MAGAZINE: What surprised me most was that they live in a kind of alternate universe to our own, or that they sort of exist in one. I wouldn't say that everybody sort of lives in one, because I think the vast number of, you know, scientologists who are not celebrities live by their own code. They have a language that they speak that was created by L. Ron Hubbard.

COOPER: What are some of the words, just for an example?

REITMAN: Oh, like -- well, a word called enterbulate (ph), which means, you know, upset or off balance. And the world, in their view, is enterbulated (ph).

It's a very unusual religion. It's a religion that has a lot of control. It's a religion that -- whose central creation myth, the central sort of teaching of who we are and where we come from is held secret from, I would say, 98 percent of the people who believe in Scientology.

And they must sort of attain a certain level of enlightenment before they're let into that secret. And that can cost anywhere from $5,000 to $7,000 to $8,000 to $10,000 or even more. COOPER: What is the creation myth?

REITMAN: The creation myth is -- well, first of all, the Church of Scientology will deny that this is the creation myth. But the myth or the story that is always made a big deal of is about, you know, an evil intergalactic warlord named Zenu (ph) who 75 trillion years ago gathered up a whole lot of sort of errant souls throughout the galaxy and brought them to Earth and dumped them in a volcano, vaporized them. And this sort of scattered their souls, which they call -- they call fatons (ph).

And that scattered their souls. And their souls now inhabit human beings and the physical universe, and it is sort of the goal of every scientologist to locate the remnants of these beings and to expel them because they are causing all the problems that we now face.

COOPER: And as part of your research, you -- you actually sort of just wandered into a Scientology center, I think it was in New York.

REITMAN: Yes. Yes.

COOPER: And a lot of the techniques that were used to kind of, you know, get you involved and get you interested, I mean, just reading your account, it sounded like salesmen's techniques.

REITMAN: Yes, absolutely. Well, one of the things that I found really interesting about -- about Scientology and about Hubbard was is that he wrote all these books about sales and about public relations. And all these books on the shelves are either dictionaries which are really fundamental to their faith or books about sales techniques and P.R.

And the people that I met at the Church of Scientology, whether it was in New York City or in Florida or anywhere else are the most amazing salespeople I've ever met in my life. They're really expert at it.

COOPER: And why do you think it is that so many sort of big- named actors or actresses get attracted to this?

REITMAN: Well, I think that the initial auditing that you do and these drills that they have that are called training routines, they resemble acting classes. And I think -- and actually, I can see for an actor where some of these drills which would involve, for example, being able to stare at another person for an hour without flinching, you know, being able to hold your composure, these are all very similar to kind of basic, you know, acting techniques.

And then also, you know, they're very focused on you. You know, they're unbelievably welcoming and they're unbelievably, you know, interested in you and promising you that they're going to help you achieve your fullest potential.

And I really think the people in the arts particularly are, you know, insecure. I mean, here you are in an environment where people are telling you, if you just follow these specific steps, you know, you'll succeed, you'll be the best, you'll rule the world.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Well, coming up, the director of the Church of Scientology responds to the article.

But we want to remind you also that we are monitoring two breaking news stories tonight.

First, Dubai Ports World, the Dubai company who has that $6.8 billion deal to manage a number of major U.S. ports, has offered to delay parts of that plan. We're going to have more on that coming up.

We're also following a breaking story out of Phoenix, Arizona. A hostage standoff in a high-rise building at the National Labor Relations Board. A judge may be held hostage, there may be up to nine people being held hostage. It's believed to be in a courtroom on the 18th floor of that building.

We will have that story when we come back as well.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Well, in a "Rolling Stone" article just out tomorrow, Janet Reitman gave -- gives an inside look, or what she says is an inside look at the Church of Scientology. The director of the Church of Scientology International, Mike Rinder, joins us now to give us his reaction to the article and to talk about the church.

Appreciate you being with us.

First of all, how do you feel about this "Rolling Stone" article? Is it an accurate portrayal of the church?

MIKE RINDER, DIRECTOR, CHURCH OF SCIENTOLOGY: Well, I was disappointed, Anderson. I think that Janet was given very broad access to the church. Unfortunately, it took several months before we could set up her tours because she just wasn't available and people from "Rolling Stone" weren't available.

But what she did was, instead of telling the story "Inside Scientology," which is the title of the article, she really told a story that was outside Scientology because, rather than using the interviews that she had with the people in the church, she interviewed Kirstie Alley, she interviewed Kelly Preston, she interviewed many, many people.

We took her through tours through churches in Los Angeles. And in Clearwater she saw thousands of scientologists. She talked to many of them.

Unfortunately, they didn't make it into the article. So I think that people are still left wondering, you know, what is Scientology? Why are people -- so many people involved in Scientology, what do they find in Scientology? And her article just didn't answer the question.

COOPER: Well, let's talk about a couple of those things.

First of all, you know, a lot gets made in print about Scientology's creation myth. And frankly, I think it's unfair. Any religion's creation myth can sound, you know, far out there or loony to those who don't believe. So I'm not -- I'm not going to ask you about space aliens or whatever I'm sure people always ask you about.

But the church does keep certain aspects of their beliefs secret. Why?

RINDER: Well, it's very much like many Eastern religions, even parts of Judaism and Mormonism. When you have attained a certain level in Scientology, then there are certain materials that are then accessible to you. But the vast majority of material in Scientology is available in the books and writings of L. Ron Hubbard. Anybody can walk into a library or bookstore and get those materials, read them, and understand what Scientology is.

And just to put one thing into context, because much of what Janet talked about or much of what you may see is completely taken out of context and is a total mockery, in fact it is not the creation theory of Scientology. That is contained in one of the many fundamental books of Scientology that anybody can get from any library or bookstore.

COOPER: So what do you think the appeal is? I mean, for the people who do believe in Scientology, what is the essential appeal?

RINDER: Scientology provides answers, answers and solutions to the problems of life. Scientology gives you a way of attaining spiritual enlightenment, spiritual freedom and solving the problems that confront everybody in their day-to-day life, relationships.

COOPER: And to do that, you take these classes repeatedly. I mean, it's a graduating system of classes that gets you to higher and higher levels, is that correct?

RINDER: Well, that's certainly correct, although one can get -- as I said, one can get a book. You can go and get the "Dianetics" book or any other book by L. Ron Hubbard, study the principles that are contained in there and apply them in your life right now. And those principles give you way of resolving the difficulties that you have, perhaps with relationships, resolving upsets that you have. You don't know where they come from or why you have those upsets.

You know, in Scientology there is a fundamental concept that man consists of a spirit, a mind and a body, that man has lived through countless lifetimes, that his experiences of the past affect him today and cause him to have unwanted reactions to things, upsets, difficulties and inhibitions that he doesn't want. And "Dianetics" and Scientology address those things and resolve them.

COOPER: Well, again, the interview comes out tomorrow in "Rolling Stone." And we wanted to give you a chance to respond to it. And I appreciate you coming on to talk about it. It's rare that we are able to talk to people, and I frankly wish we had more time. We've got these two breaking stories.

But I would love to go more in-depth with you, because there are so many aspects of this which is just interesting and a lot of people have questions about. So we would love to have you on another time.

RINDER: OK, Anderson. Well, I appreciate your time.

COOPER: All right. Take care. Thank you very much, Mr. Rinder.

We are, as I said, following two breaking stories tonight.

In Phoenix, Arizona, a hostage standoff in a high-rise office building. Police say a man is holding up to nine people.

Also, Dubai Ports World has offered to delay its plan to take over six U.S. ports.

Stay with us. Updates on both those stories.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: The latest now on the breaking news on the port plan. Dubai Ports World has offered to delay part of its nearly $7 billion deal to take over six U.S. ports.

With reaction, joining us now on the phone, Congressman Pete King. He's chairman of the Homeland Security Committee. He joins us from New York.

Congressman, what do you think?

REP. PETE KING (R), NEW YORK: Anderson, it's a very positive step. It's a good first step.

I heard, you know, later in the day that the company realized that they had to do something, that the deal was being stuck, and that they would have to at least slow it down and give Congress the opportunity to look at it. I mean, obviously, a lot's going to be in the details, how long it's going to be delayed for, the extent to which there will be an investigation.

But this is a very, very positive first step. And I think it's a recognition by the company.

It's actually something I had asked for yesterday. Some of the representatives met with my committee staff, and I suggested one way to make it easier on the president would be, rather than have the president cancel the deal or delay the deal, but actually have the firm itself ask for it.

But again, this is first step. It is not the end. It's going to take more than just explaining to members of Congress what the agreement is about.

We're still going to have to get an analysis of the firm itself to make sure that it has no al Qaeda connections and that no one in the government with al Qaeda connections would have any influence over the firm.

COOPER: So is this simply a face-saving gesture for the Bush administration and for this company?

KING: Well, if it's just a face-saving gesture, if it's just going to put it off without any real details being given and without any real investigation, then it's not going to be enough. But I really prefer to look at it tonight as a positive step, that this was a way for this deal to be slowed down to delay its implementation and to do it without having a diplomatic confrontation with the Arab world.

So again, it's a good first step. And I commend them for doing it. But we'll still have to have an investigation into exactly -- you know, to ensure ourselves that there is no terrorist from this company nor from the Dubai government, which actually is the Emirates of Dubai, which actually owns this company, and make sure that we're safe against any type of al Qaeda penetration.

COOPER: Why, though, is this company, this country more suspect than, say, China, which operates a number of ports in the United States?

KING: Well, actually, they're not -- there not really Chinese government companies that own it, but I realize that it's a communist state, so that's a bit of a debate. Because China has not attacked us, and you have had al Qaeda attack us, which did have significant support within UAE, and we know that UAE did recognize the Taliban before September 11. So there's a nexus between elements of the UAE and 9/11 and al Qaeda and being our enemies in the war against terrorism.

On the other hand, UAE has also been, to some extent, a good ally. So there's real questions over the United Arab Emirates that you would not have over China, or certainly over Singapore or Denmark or Taiwan or other countries that do have companies operating ports in America.

This is unique. This is the first time since 9/11 that we've been confront with a country which has a marginal record, some good, some bad, and it did have direct links to al Qaeda, and how are we going to adjust that, if we can, to our economy and to our infrastructure?

I think these are very, very severe questions, very serious questions. And this is a step toward answering them. But it's not going to be enough just for the administration to say, well, we'll explain, you know, the deal to you, because let me tell you, it was explained to me last week. And the more it was explained to me, the more questions I had, because I'll say again, there's never been an investigation conducted of this company by the United States.

COOPER: And that seems to be where this is headed now.

Peter King, appreciate you joining us. Thank you very much.

KING: Anderson, thank you.

COOPER: Peter King, Congressman Peter King joining us on the telephone.

Again, the company DP World has agreed to delay a part of this plan or has offered to delay a part of this plan. No doubt we will be hearing a lot more about this in the days ahead.

In the minutes ahead, though, the latest on our other breaking news story tonight, the hostage standoff at a Phoenix high-rise. That's the building right there.

Police say a man is holding at least nine people in an office. One of them may be a judge. There's a new development. We'll get the latest in a live report.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: We are back to our breaking story out of Phoenix, a hostage standoff in that high-rise building. There has been a development.

Police say that one woman has been rescued. Apparently, she left to go to the bathroom. The hostage-taker allowed her to go to the bathroom. Police then took her to safety.

Police say a gunman is holding up to nine people. Now I guess it's up to eight people.

Joining us on the phone again is Robert Louden, a former hostage negotiator, a legend in the New York City Police Department. He's also been an adviser to the Department of Justice. He's currently a professor of criminal justice at Georgian Court College in Lakewood, New Jersey.

Robert, what do you make of this? I guess a tactical unit recovering one woman who went to the bathroom?

ROBERT LOUDEN, FMR. HOSTAGE NEGOTIATOR: Well, I mean, the bottom line is the purpose of us in negotiation, hostage recovery program, is to ensure safety of lives. So when the tactical team sees a chance to help somebody, they must take it.

You can't take a chance on letting a person that's out even temporarily go back in because you don't know what the result's going to be later on. So it's a tough call, but it's a call that has to be made to maximize life-saving.

COOPER: A tough call because it then puts the hostage negotiator in a tricky spot with the hostage-taker?

LOUDEN: Well, not so much the negotiator with the taker, but it just might -- how do you say this politely -- aggravate the taker. So it makes it a little more difficult for the negotiator to assure the individual that they're working for everybody's well-being, but the negotiator will also remind them that his or her job as a negotiator, as a member of the Phoenix Police Department, is to maximize life- saving, and they had an obligation to help save that woman's life.

COOPER: Robert, stay on the line with us.

Courtney Zubowski with KTVK is also standing by with us.

Courtney, what do you know about this person they recovered?

COURTNEY ZUBOWSKI, REPORTER, KTVK: Sure. She told the man who was holding her hostage that she had to go to the bathroom, walked out of the room where they're being held hostage, then managed to meet police officers somewhere in the building, walked out of the building, and now she's being debriefed by officers.

So she just told him, you know what, got to go to the bathroom. And she managed to escape.

Police do tell us that the negotiations continue. And again, as we've been saying all night long, that is a very important thing. The line of communication is open.

So one person out. It's believed there's about seven or eight more hostages inside that courtroom.

COOPER: And to your knowledge, the wife of this hostage-taker is on the scene?

ZUBOWSKI: Some family members are here on the scene. They're hoping to convince him to come out, let some hostages out. They aren't getting into specifics as far as what family members, but witnesses have told us that it could be his wife.

COOPER: And do we know what this person wants?

ZUBOWSKI: We don't. We know that earlier today when this was going on, there was some employment dispute going on in front of the board, the Labor Board of Relations here. It's possible that he had something to do with that, or he may have known someone who was involved with whatever was going on. But we're not quite sure his involvement in that dispute or why he's doing this.

COOPER: Courtney, appreciate it. Continue the reporting.

We're still on the phone with Robert Louden.

Robert, how important it is that a family member or family members are on the scene?

LOUDEN: Well, it's a real delicate call. I mean, the authorities want to talk to the family members and close friends to get as much information as they can about the individual that is -- that is holding the victims. It's a real judgment call as to weighing the information you get from them because they're not totally unbiased in talking about the individual one way or the other.

And also, a decision on whether or not they may or may not be allowed to communicate. And if at all, it would be only from a position of safety.

The best of communicators in these kind of things are the trained police negotiators. It's something that is a combination of experience, selection and good training. And to the extent possible, the police are going to try to keep their individuals talking because they've done it before, they've practiced for it before, and they can anticipate eventualities better than if some non-trained third party intermediary were involved.

COOPER: Because it's very possible that a family member could make the situation worse. I mean, if there is some tension between this family member and the hostage-taker, I mean, that's a big unknown.

LOUDEN: Absolutely. And that's why the police certainly want to talk to the family members, want to get as much information as possible, assure the family members of the hostage holder and of the victims that they're doing everything that they can to expedite a safe release of everybody.

But you just have to be very cautious in weighing the information that you get because you can't verify everything under the tenseness of these situations. And as I say, it's a real judgment call about how much weight you put on the information they give you and whether or not they might ultimately later on get involved.

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