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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES

American Death Toll in Iraq Stands at 2,500; Congress Debates Iraq War

Aired June 15, 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: It is a beautiful day here in San Francisco in a remarkable location.
Tonight, 2,500 Americans have now died in Iraq. Today, years after the invasion and months before an election, Congress erupted over what to do next.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER: Partisan warfare.

REP. DENNIS KUCINICH (D), OHIO: We shouldn't be there; get it?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We need to finish this mission.

ANNOUNCER: Forcing Republicans to justify the war, forcing Democrats to justify getting out.

Still alive, but a chilling twist. Abducted 10 years ago, now she says she wants to stay with her kidnapper.

And it wasn't for the view.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Why did you come here? Why the Golden Gate Bridge?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was under the impression that it was the easiest way to die.

ANNOUNCER: He decided he wanted to live on the way down.

This is a special edition of ANDERSON COOPER 360, keeping them honest on the West Coast. Live from San Francisco, here's Anderson Cooper.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: And thanks for joining us for this special edition of 360. A more beautiful location I don't think we have ever seen on this program.

We begin tonight with Iraq and politics. Where the war itself is concerned, it's a mixed picture: 2,500 Americans dead, but signs, too, that the insurgency may be weakening, maybe. In any case, shades of grey. As for politics, however, some are trying to make it black or white. You're either with the troops or with Al Qaeda. That's what we heard out of Congress today. All the angles tonight on the war resolution now being debated in the House. A fiery debate, no doubt about it. It spills onto this program in a big way this evening.

Also tonight, is this the new Zarqawi? What the Pentagon says about the latest Al Qaeda killer and how he operates. And is Al Qaeda actually losing power at last? In Iraq, new documents reportedly from inside the insurgency and the story they now tell.

First, the bitter House debate and CNN's Candy Crowley.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A House divided, debating a controversial war, five months before an election, produced sound bites and fury.

REP. JOHN MURTHA (D), PENNSYLVANIA: I know standing here does not solve the problem! And it hasn't gotten better; it's gotten worse. That's the problem!

CROWLEY: They argued over the rationale for war, the conduct of war, when and how to end the war.

REP. IKE SKELTON (D), MISSOURI: We've just reached a sad milestone: 2,500 Americans have lost their lives in the Iraq war.

CROWLEY: But, first, they went silent over the cost of war. Otherwise, it was an agonizing, antagonizing, acrid debate around a Republican resolution. Democrats have been pressing for an Iraq debate; this is not what they had in mind.

REP. JOHN LARSON (D), CONNECTICUT: And you guys bring to the floor a political document, not designed for a new direction or to bring the country together, to discuss this issue the way it should be, but instead as talking points outlined by Karl Rove in New Hampshire, sandwiched in between the president's photo-op and a picnic this evening.

CROWLEY: The resolution is merely a vehicle for debate on Iraq, the single most important issue of the election year. It is a piece of paper with no force of law, but, Republicans hope, the potential to force divided Democrats into a corner.

REP. CHARLIE NORWOOD (R), GEORGIA: Is it Al Qaeda, or is it America? Let the voters take note of this debate.

CROWLEY: The resolution basically backs Bush policy in Iraq, ties it to the war on terror, and includes this: "It is not in the national security interest of the United States to set an arbitrary date for the withdrawal or redeployment of United States Armed Forces from Iraq."

REP. DUNCAN HUNTER (R), CALIFORNIA: Let's send this message to every soldier, every Marine who's watching this thing from the mess halls in Mosul and Tikrit and Baghdad and Fallujah, the message that the United States' House of Representatives stands with them.

REP. MAXINE WATERS (D), CALIFORNIA: It's a trap. It's an attempt to force Democrats to sign onto a resolution that will do nothing to bring our troops home. Oh, they want to make us sound as if we're unpatriotic.

CROWLEY: Debate talking points from the Pentagon and the Republican majority circulated the Hill. Democrats called the resolution a cheap election-year ploy; Republicans called it a vital election-year debate with huge consequence.

REP. HENRY HYDE (R), ILLINOIS: The more valuable our dissent into weakness, dissension and inaction, the greater the aid and comfort we give to our enemies.

CROWLEY: Members of Congress will vote Friday on the resolution. In November, Americans will vote on members of Congress.

Candy Crowley, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Well, the vote may be tomorrow. The debate continues, however, into this evening, happening right now. David Price from North Carolina is speaking. A live shot of the House floor as we speak. They're expected to continue until midnight tonight.

Now, in Candy's piece, you heard a bit from Charlie Norwood. He is a Republican congressman from Georgia. Dennis Kucinich, of course, is a Democrat from Ohio. Both men joined me earlier tonight, and I began by asking Congressman Norwood if he really meant what he said about choosing between the troops and Al Qaeda.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

NORWOOD: I think those who vote against this resolution are making a large mistake, because that sends a signal across the world, and it helps people, our adversary in Iraq, and it keeps us from getting our troops home.

The longer they believe we don't have the willpower to stay and do what we set out to do, the longer they're going to last. So I think it is a very dangerous vote, to vote that way.

COOPER: Representative Kucinich, what about that? Do you stand with Al Qaeda?

REP. DENNIS KUCINICH (D), OHIO: Well, I think that everyone knows that we're in Iraq for all the wrong reasons: that Iraq didn't have any weapons of mass destruction; that Saddam Hussein was not involved with Al Qaeda with respect to 9/11; Saddam had nothing to do with 9/11.

So what we're looking at right here is a Baathist insurgency that didn't start with Al Qaeda. We've actually -- our presence there has actually emboldened Al Qaeda. And that's another reason why we need to get out.

I mean, what is this all about? Are we about to sacrifice our future for Iraq? Let the world community get involved; let the American troops come home. Let's get the troops from the region who can provide safety and security for the people in Iraq, but let's stop sacrificing our economic future and our reputation around the world by staying in Iraq.

NORWOOD: Well, I'll tell you, Anderson...

COOPER: Congressman Norwood, go ahead.

NORWOOD: ... our reputation around the world would be one heck of a lot worse if we hightailed it and cut and run like a lot of people want to do. Many countries are involved in this. The speaker enumerated them this morning.

KUCINICH: Charlie, are you prepared to stay and pay?

NORWOOD: I'm not going to try to interrupt you. I'll tell you the thing you have to do is you have to stay and complete the mission.

COOPER: Do the Democrats actually have a plan moving forward? A lot of Democrats like yourself will talk about the past, the mistakes that were made, why we got into the war, how we got into the war. Now that troops are there, the war continues. Do Democrats actually have a plan for winning the war or is getting out where the Democratic Party is moving?

KUCINICH: Well, first of all, you have to keep in mind, I led the effort among Democrats in challenging the administration's march towards war in Iraq a few years ago. And today, Democrats, by and large, want to bring our troops home.

Now, let it be said: This is President Bush's war. He's the one who told the American people there were weapons of mass destruction. He's the one who told the American people that the Iraqis were trying to get uranium from Niger. He's the one who conflated Iraq with 9/11. It's on his watch, and it's his responsibility.

COOPER: Is that a plan for winning the war, Congressman Kucinich, or is that a plan just for getting troops home?

KUCINICH: Well, you know, when you talk about winning the war, how can you talk about winning the war when we've got -- people are saying it's going to cost us up to $2 trillion dollars just to stay there for the next eight years? We have to talk about bringing our troops home.

This isn't a war that you can talk about national pride. Our national pride was sacrificed the minute we attacked a nation that did not attack us.

I mean, get this: We're in Iraq in violation of international law. Iraq did not attack us. We have no right to be there; we have no right to occupy. We must bring our troops home. This is not about victory or defeat. This is about common sense, and it's about basic morality.

COOPER: Congressman Norwood, as many of those who criticize Democrats for not having a plan, a lot of Democrats criticize Republicans, saying, basically, look, your guys' plan is status quo, it's just keeping things as they are. Is that a plan?

NORWOOD: Well, Anderson, they have a plan. What do you mean they don't have a plan? Their plan is to walk away. Their plan is to throw up their hands and say, "We give up. We quit." That's their plan.

Of course the Republicans -- or the president certainly has a plan. Mistakes have been made in this, but, unlike every other war, there haven't been as many as some of our other wars. But mistakes are always made in wars.

But they're adjusting as we go. They're doing the best there can. There are people who are violently interested in us coming home. But one of the reasons we can't come home is that members of Congress keep telling Al Qaeda we need to come home.

As long as we keep pushing that agenda, they're going to believe, "Well, let's just hang on one more year." Nobody plans to be there eight years from now; I don't know who makes that kind of stuff up.

COOPER: Congressman Norwood, this debate on the Hill today, isn't it more about politics than really about debating issues related to the war? Isn't it more about trying to pinch and hold the Democrats, trying to show divide between the Democrats and Republicans?

NORWOOD: It isn't about politics to me, and that's the only one I can answer for.

When I listen to the Democrats, there are some who actually believe we shouldn't be there. They really, truly believe that. There are others I can't tell. I think what they really believe is this is a way to hurt the president.

The way you hurt the troops and the way you hurt this country is continuing to say, "Oh, we can't win. Oh, we've got to come home. Our plan is just to pull out to Kuwait."

John Kerry is doing the same thing now that he did in Vietnam: He's bad-mouthing our troops. He related to us in Vietnam as Genghis Khan. Well, now we're talking bad again. And that's the kind of thing -- you think this won't be on TV tomorrow in the Arabian world? They'll all see John Kerry and Dennis Kucinich...

KUCINICH: Hey, John Kerry is a good American, Charlie, and so am , and so are you. You don't need me to make this...

NORWOOD: I'm trying not to interrupt you. KUCINICH: It's not about interrupting. You can't challenge somebody's patriotism.

NORWOOD: I didn't challenge his patriotism. What I said is he's doing the same thing he did in Vietnam: He is hurting the troops in the field by sending signals around the world that we can't win, we must come home, it's all over, oh, my goodness, it's so terrible.

We need to finish this mission. And we can only do it by, I hope, all of us in America saying, standing behind our troops. Let's get this done. Let's get Iraq in a position they can take care of themselves, then let's all come home happily.

COOPER: I appreciate your passion on both sides of the aisle, Congressman Norwood, Congressman Kucinich. Thank you very much.

KUCINICH: Charlie, it's good to be here with you.

NORWOOD: Yep. Dennis, good to see you.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Well, again, a vote on the resolution is expected late tomorrow morning. Now to who everyone on both sides of the aisle agree is the enemy. Ever since a pair of 500-pound bombs removed Abu Musab al-Zarqawi from the scene and from this world, the question has been: Who fills his deadly shoes?

Well, today, the likely answer. Here is CNN's Barbara Starr.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is the new most-wanted man in Iraq.

MAJ. GEN. WILLIAM CALDWELL, SPOKESMAN FOR U.S. FORCES IN BAGHDAD: This is Ayyub al-Masri. This is the individual at this point that we've established as probably the person that is going to go ahead and move to and take over and be responsible for the leadership role here in Iraq, Al Qaeda in Iraq.

STARR: That's what the military says, but the White House is not so sure.

STEPHEN HADLEY, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: We're not actually certain that he is the person who's going to step forward to lead this organization. There's still some uncertainty on that; that's clearly one of the leading names.

STARR: Several senior military and administration officials say the best information at the moment is that al-Masri has initially taken over as Zarqawi's successor, but even General Caldwell and others say there could be a massive power struggle under way.

CALDWELL: Al-Masri's ability to effectively exert leadership over the Al Qaeda cells remains unclear. And how many Al Qaeda senior leadership members and Sunni terrorists may attempt to exert their influence and take charge is unknown at this time.

STARR: Still, the military says al-Masri is the senior operational commander for Al Qaeda in Iraq and is responsible for suicide bombing and IED attacks.

He came to Baghdad around 2003, after training as an explosives expert in Afghanistan. He has been involved with terrorism since 1982, starting with Egyptian Islamic Jihad, led by Ayman al-Zawahiri, Osama bin Laden's number-two. But does this picture make al-Masri a new icon in the terrorist world?

(on camera): There is already a $200,000 reward on al-Masri's head. And given his track record of attacks, the U.S. military says they want this man no matter what role he plays.

Barbara Starr, CNN, the Pentagon.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: The hunt for al-Masri is beginning where his predecessor met his end. Iraqi officials say that they have uncovered a treasure trove of information, secrets, really, on Al Qaeda that they hope -- they hope -- will destroy the terror network in Iraq, as well as beyond.

CNN's John Vause has that angle.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOHN VAUSE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In the week since Zarqawi was killed, U.S. officials say they've carried out more than 400 raids nationwide, many with Iraqi forces, killing more than 100 insurgents and arresting more than 700. Iraq's national security adviser claims to have evidence that Al Qaeda in Iraq is close to breaking point.

MOWAFFAK Al-RUBAIE, IRAQI NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: We believe that this is the beginning of the end of Al Qaeda in Iraq.

VAUSE: According to the Iraqis, valuable information was recovered from computer hardware and documents found in the rubble of Zarqawi's safe house and in raids before and after the air strike.

CNN could not confirm the authenticity of the information, which details Al Qaeda's concern over the growing number of Iraqi forces, its inability to attract new recruits, confiscation of weapons and ammunition and a squeeze on funds.

Described in the document as a crisis, Al Qaeda outlined a blueprint for sparking a war between the U.S. and Iran, by carrying out attacks and planting evidence to implicate Iran, leak false information that Iran has weapons of mass destruction and was planning a terrorist attack within the United States.

Another reason for Iraqi officials' apparent optimism is that extensive police patrols and road blocks of the past few days seem to have reduced the violence in Baghdad. But despite the new security crackdown, one car bomb got through, killing three people. And police say they found seven bodies; all had been shot and tortured.

(on camera): But officials in the new Iraqi government seem to believe they're making headway. For the second time this week, the national security adviser has indicated that, if all goes well, the last foreign troop could leave Iraq two years from now.

John Vause, CNN, Baghdad.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Well, speaking of the troops, more details now on the toll the war has taken on U.S. forces in Iraq. Here's the raw data.

As we mentioned earlier, the number of U.S. deaths has hit 2,500. On average, about two U.S. military personnel are killed each day in Iraq. And so far, 18,490 troops had been wounded in this war, while tens of thousands of Iraqis have been killed, with some estimates reaching 40,000.

In a moment, Peter Bergen on the Al Qaeda documents and what they mean. He has taken a look at some of them.

Also, missing for 10 years, a little girl kidnapped. Why on Earth does she now want to stay with her abductor and not the mom who waited so long to get her back?

Plus, this...

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I hit freefall, and I said, "I don't want to die." And I said, "What am I going to do to survive?"

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: And he did, a plunge off the Golden Gate Bridge, a man who survived. From San Francisco and around the world, you're watching 360.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Al Qaeda training videos there. More now on what could be a very welcome document: documents purportedly from Al Qaeda in Iraq showing a movement on the decline. I talked about them with Peter Bergen, our terrorism analyst and Al Qaeda expert, earlier tonight.

So, Peter, you think that the raids that happened in the wake of the killing of Zarqawi may actually be even more important than Zarqawi's death?

PETER BERGEN, CNN TERRORISM ANALYST: Yes. I think maybe in all the coverage of Zarqawi's death that point may have been lost, because, clearly, they've found a trove of information. They've found computers with interesting documents. They've rolled up -- you know, they had more than a dozen raids. They seem to have arrested a lot of people. And that might really put a crimp on Al Qaeda in Iraq, even more than just losing their leader.

COOPER: Well, one of the officials in Iraq, an Iraqi official, said this may be the beginning of the end of Al Qaeda in Iraq. I mean, is that -- you know, we've heard that before. We've heard about the light at the end of the tunnel. We've heard about, you know, the death throes of the insurgency. Do you think they're just being optimistic there?

BERGEN: Well, it might be the end of Al Qaeda, the organization, in Iraq, but I don't think it's going to be the end of the foreign fighter problem, which these are the guys doing most of the suicide operations, because Iraq remains, you know, their principle goal.

You know, 60 percent or so of these suicide attacks are estimated to be done by Saudis, other Middle Easterners. We even had some Europeans. You may recall the Belgian female suicide bomber, November 2005. So I think those people are going to start -- Iraq is still going to be a magnet for these people, whether Al Qaeda, the formal organization, in Iraq continues to exist or not.

COOPER: One of the documents allegedly found by U.S. forces shows Al Qaeda's -- or I should say Zarqawi's intention of trying to ignite a war between America and Iran by dividing the U.S. and its Shia allies. A, do you think that's real? And, b, what do you make of the plan?

BERGEN: Well, I mean, I've read the document. I can't speak to its authenticity, but it matches up with things that Zarqawi has written and it certainly would suit his strategy about, you know, making life difficult for the Shia.

If you could get the United States to actually attack Iran, which, after all, you know, is the principle area, in terms of financing a lot of the Shias in Iraq and also ideologically important, that would suit his purposes very well.

And I mean, in reading the document, he says that he wants to, you know -- the United States is actually having quite a lot of success against the insurgency, according to this document. The only way to really guarantee of giving the United States a bloody nose would be to kind of embroil it in a larger, regional war.

I mean, that's a smart strategy, and it only fits with what Zarqawi's written in the past.

COOPER: Apparently, Zarqawi and Osama bin Laden didn't see eye- to-eye, didn't necessarily like each other very much. Now you have this guy, al-Masri, assuming the leadership position. Is it possible the relationship could improve? Or would there not even really be any connection between these two guys?

BERGEN: Well, you know, we had today in Baghdad a military briefing. And they explained that this guy, al-Masri, who is -- he's an Egyptian -- was actually associated with Egypt's Islamic Jihad group, which, in fact, Ayman al-Zawahiri's group, the number-two in Al Qaeda. This guy has been associated with Ayman al-Zawahiri, if this information is correct, since 1982.

So I think that Al Qaeda, the headquartered on the Pakistan- Afghanistan border, will actually look to this as a good thing, because Zarqawi was kind of a bit off running off the reservation and doing things that they didn't really want to get involved in, like embroiling the Sunnis in a civil war with the Shia.

So this guy, the new guy who's running Al Qaeda in Iraq, if, indeed, he is as described, might well, you know, be somebody who actually takes more orders from bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri, because he would have known Ayman al-Zawahiri for, you know, 2 1/2 decades now.

COOPER: Interesting. Peter Bergen, thanks.

BERGEN: Thank you.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: We'll have more on the war in Iraq coming up in the next hour of 360.

Coming up, though, a missing child is found 10 years after she was abducted. We'll talk to her mother coming up.

But first, Erica Hill has some of the other stories we're following tonight -- Erica?

ERICA HILL, CNN HEADLINE NEWS ANCHOR: Anderson, at least 40 insurgents have been killed in a military operation designed to root out Taliban fighters in southern Afghanistan. Operation Mountain Thrust began several days ago to try and establish Afghan government control in the region. It involves more than 10,000 U.S. and allied troops.

At the White House, Randy McCloy, the sole survivor of January's Sago mine disaster, was on hand today to watch President Bush sign a new mine safety bill into law. President Bush described the new law as the most sweeping overhaul of the industry in nearly three decades. Thirty-three Americans have died in mining accidents in the past year.

Three young women have been arrested and charged in connection with two armed bank robberies in Maryland. The Montgomery County Police Department says the women were arrested after an anonymous tip to Crime Stoppers.

And supermodel Kate Moss will not be charged with drug possession. A British tabloid newspaper published pictures last September of Moss apparently using cocaine in a London music studio, but Britain's Crown Prosecution Service said today there was insufficient evidence to allay charges -- Anderson?

COOPER: Erica, thanks very much. And a programming note about my exclusive interview with one of the most talked-about people on the planet, Angelina Jolie. Yesterday, I sat down with the actress and activist just four days after she and Brad Pitt returned from Namibia with their new baby. We spoke for about an hour, covering a lot of ground, her causes and her work as a U.N. special ambassador, goodwill ambassador. We also talked about her celebrity, being hounded by the paparazzi, and, of course, the one topic everyone seems to want to know about: her baby.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: What was it like actually giving birth? I mean, you had two children through adoption. What was it like?

ANGELINA JOLIE, ACTRESS: Well, we ended up having...

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Well, I'll give you her answer and much more, coming up next week. We'll be airing all of our exclusive interview with Angelina Jolie on World Refugee Day. That's Tuesday, here on a special edition of 360. I hope you join us for that.

Moving on to a judge's order about a stubby convict. That's right, a stubby convict. A court said the guy was too short to go to prison, but it seems the media reports were completely off-base. We've got the actual facts coming up. Imagine that.

Also tonight, abducted a decade ago, child found alive, but not ready to be reunited with her mom. We'll tell you why, and we'll talk to the mother when this special edition of 360 from San Francisco continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Now you're looking at a live picture of Alcatraz, the famed "Rock," originally built as a military prison back in the 1800s before becoming a federal penitentiary, where the likes of Al Capone and, of course, the Bird Man of Alcatraz stayed. It is now open to tourists.

A shot of Alcatraz, perhaps an appropriate picture for these next few stories. The civic slogan of Sidney, Nebraska, is small-town values, big-time opportunities. Well, now Sidney's stepped into the media spotlight, big time. It's all because of an unorthodox ruling in a sex offender case.

CNN's Kelli Arena has details.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KELLI ARENA, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Sidney, Nebraska, is a small, quiet town. People who live here aren't used to being in the national spotlight.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Too short? Too bad! ARENA: But that's exactly where they found themselves about three weeks ago.

TIFFANY JONES, PROTESTER: It was like a whirlwind. We were in a different world there for a while.

ARENA: Why all the uproar? Well it started when 50-year-old Richard Thompson who grew up in Sidney pleaded guilty to sexually molesting a 13-year-old girl. The judge sentenced Thompson to 10 years probation instead of 10 years behind bars. The decision itself prompted outrage. That was nothing compared to the reaction to the judge's comments from the bench.

JIM HEADLEY, EDITOR, SIDNEY SUN TELEGRAPH: She made a direct reference to his physical size. He's not tall. He's not fat. He's short. It was clearly a comment towards him being short.

ARENA: Five foot one to be exact. Jim Headley is a local reporter who was in court that day.

HEADLEY: This is the first thing she said when she came out of a very long rant about how bad he needs to go to prison. And then she said and then I look at your physical size. Well that's her number one reason. That's her opening argument in this case to not put him in prison.

ARENA: The headline in the local paper the next day read, "Too Short to go to Prison." The article said Judge Christine Cecava decided against jail time because she was concerned that Thompson's height or lack of it would put him at risk from other inmates. Residents of Sidney were outraged taking to the streets to protest. Ed Ward manages the town's video rental shop.

ED WARD, RESIDENT, SIDNEY, NEBRASKA: We have 10 grandchildren, four of them are girls, little girls. I think it's the court's responsibility is to protect my grandchildren.

ARENA: Nebraska's attorney general appealed the sentence.

JON BRUNING, NEBRASKA ATTORNEY GENERAL: Mr. Thompson sexually molested a 13-year-old girl repeatedly. And any time a grown man sexually molests a child, they deserve to go to trial.

ARENA: Even local prison officials questioned Judge Cecava's implication that Thompson would not be safe in prison.

BECKY MENCL, NEBRASKA DEPT. OF CORRECTIONS: Yes, we do have several inmates incarcerated who are that stature or possibly less. Possibly shorter. And probably have been convicted of the same type of crime. We to my knowledge have had no reports of incidents that are at all related to a person's stature.

ARENA: After nearly 20 years on the bench, the judge was vilified. A Nebraska native and a mother, she consistently receives above average marks in judge evaluation surveys filled out by attorneys. JUDGE CHRISTINE CECAVA: I went to work one day and the next day it was all different.

ARENA: CNN spoke to Cecava but she said she wouldn't comment on the case due to the appeal. But allies rose to her defense. Bernard Glaser has known Judge Cecava since they went to law school together. He says she is not a lenient judge and made her decision based on the law and the facts.

BERNARD GLASER, FRIEND OF JUDGE: And if the law and the facts and the standards imposed upon her as a judge indicate that somebody should receive something as strict as intensive supervisory probation, she's got the guts to do it.

ARENA: The special probation calls for all sorts of restrictions. Thompson must get counseling, undergo random testing for drugs and alcohol, is barred from being in the same room with any one under 18 without supervision. And he has to spend 30 days in jail every year.

GLASER: And if he violates just one of those provisions, the judge made it clear in her sentencing order, he's going to prison, because he has had his chance.

ARENA: Supporters also say the judge's comments were taken out of context and that critics should actually read the court transcript. So, CNN asked for one. It turns out we were the first media organization to do so. It says the Cecava told Thompson, "I look at your physical size. I look at your basic ability to cope with people and, quite frankly, I shake to think of what might happen to you in prison."

GLASER: You know I don't think anybody could deny that the judge did not consider this guy's mental capabilities along with his stature.

ARENA: And in fact, two weeks after being put on probation, Thompson became suicidal.

He was brought halfway across the state to this psychiatric hospital, where he was placed under strict supervision. Even so, there is little sympathy for Thompson among residents, and most believe that he still belongs in jail. But the uproar has died down. And life in Sidney is getting back to normal. Tiffany Jones runs a child care center there.

JONES: I think a lot of people are trying to back away from the initial anger, outrage and look at all of it. And I did the same thing.

ARENA: Jones, who collected more than 900 petition signatures to have Judge Cecava removed from the bench, says that she hopes her town's reputation isn't tarnished forever.

JONES: We don't want to be on the map for allowing sexual molesters, convicted people that do crimes against children to walk on our streets.

ARENA: Kelli Arena, CNN, Sidney, Nebraska.

(END OF VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Well in Tempe, Arizona, a cold case has finally been solved. She was just two years old when she disappeared, kidnapped from her home and that was 10 years ago. This week, the search for this missing child ended with what should have been very good news. CNN's Rusty Dornin explains why it's more complicated than that.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RUSTY DORNIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: For the mother of this little girl, no more waiting, no more wondering. Helen Braun's agony ended Tuesday. That's when she found out her daughter, Rebecca is alive and well, 10 years after she disappeared. Rebecca was just two in February of 1996. She was snatched from outside this home she shared with her mother in Tempe, Arizona. Shortly after the kidnapping, Braun got a chilling phone call.

SARGENT DAN MASTERS, TEMPE, ARIZONA POLICE: Our suspect actually calls the mother and not only tells her that he has the 2-year-old and that she will never see her daughter again.

DORNIN: Arizona authorities issued an arrest warrant for Danny Arthur Moran, the girl's father, charging him with custodial interference. It wasn't the first time he had been in this kind of trouble. Arizona Police say Moran served time in prison in the late '80s for kidnapping his two sons from a previous marriage. The FBI got involved and put Moran on its most wanted list. Fast forward to Monday when FBI agents acted on a tip.

KEVIN FOUST, FBI: It's my understand Mr. Moran's particular case was featured on "America's Most Wanted" sometime in the recent past. A concerned citizen contacted the appropriate authorities and that's what led us to Mr. Moran.

DORNIN: Agents found and arrested Moran, who'd been living and working in Roanoke for about six months under the name Jonathan D. Richardson. But where was Rebecca? Moran wouldn't talk and officials won't say how they tracked the girl, but they say they found her in Donald, South Carolina, living with a woman named Lillian Jean Kitz. Kitz, too, is now under arrest.

SHERIFF CHARLES H. GOODWIN, ABBEVILLE, SOUTH CAROLINA: We did charge her with accessory after the fact of kidnapping with this particular case, and we also tried to find out whether anybody else was involved in this case and whatnot. So, I said this case is still open.

DORNIN: As for Rebecca, she's in the custody of South Carolina Social Services until she can be reunited with her mother. Rusty Dornin, CNN, Atlanta.

(END OF VIDEOTAPE) COOPER: And we believe that reunion is to take place in the next several days. Back to politics, coming up, my interview with San Francisco's Mayor Gavin Newsom, perhaps the only democratic politician in America who's more controversial than Hillary Clinton.

Plus the dark history of the Golden Gate Bridge, a legendary magnet for people committing suicide. We'll meet a man who jumped and lived to tell about it. His story of survival and how he is trying to help others as this special edition of 360 from San Francisco continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Some chilling figures on San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge. Now officials have approved a $2 million study on whether a suicide barrier should be erected on the bridge. Two people you're about to meet helped make the case for that study. 360 MD Sanjay Gupta reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KEVIN HINES, SUICIDE JUMP SURVIVOR: I didn't want anybody to stop me. I just wanted to die.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN SR. MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: After struggling with depression for three years, 19-year-old Kevin Heinz took a bus to the Golden Gate Bridge, walked a little less than halfway across and hurdled over the side.

HINES: I just wish I could go back in time. I wish I could just take it all back.

GUPTA: Kevin is part of a horrifying statistic. About every two weeks, someone jumps right here. Why did you come here? Why the Golden Gate Bridge?

HINES: I was under the impression that it was the easiest way to die.

GUPTA: Easy, because there's a pedestrian walkway with a railing just about four feet high. Suicide is the 11th leading cause of death in the United States, even more common than homicides. There are 25 attempts for every actual suicide. Of course with leaps from very high places, the fatality rate is much, much higher.

HINES: I hurdled myself over and I started falling head first.

GUPTA: Kevin Hines was extremely lucky.

HINES: I hit free fall and I said I don't want to die. I said, what am I going to do to survive? And I said I've got to get feet first, which I did.

GUPTA: Despite two shattered vertebrae, Kevin recovered, both physically and mentally. He takes college theater classes and dreams of working on films. Indeed, several long-term studies have found that while survivors of suicide attempts do try again at a higher than normal rate, more than 90 percent do not and go on to live normal lives.

Renee Milligan's 14-year-old daughter, Marissa, jumped to her death from the Golden Gate four years ago, leaving a heartbreaking note.

RENEE MILLIGAN, DAUGHTER COMMITTED SUICIDE: I'm sorry. Please forgive me. Don't shut yourselves off from the world. Everyone is better off without this fat, disgusting, boring girl.

GUPTA: Renee thinks it should be much tougher to jump. She sued the Golden Gate Bridge District to force them to install a physical barrier.

MILLIGAN: Well right now, it's like a loaded gun. I think in her letter, she says it's the easiest way.

GUPTA: The suit was thrown out, but Renee has filed an appeal. The bridge directors say they haven't found a barrier that would be effective, structurally sound and still aesthetically pleasing. They do have security cameras, call boxes with a hotline to counselors and a regular bridge patrol looking for suspicious behavior. The patrol checked on us after about 20 minutes. But these days, Kevin Hines is all right. He now gives inspirational talks about overcoming depression, living proof he knows it can be done.

HINES: I'm just so lucky to be alive, so blessed. Every day, I just thank God every day waking up.

GUPTA: Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN, San Francisco.

(END OF VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: As we said, that study has now been approved to go forward. Coming up, he's a fourth generation San Franciscan and now he is the mayor of the city. Sitting at his desk working he looks like any other mayor. But within a month of taking office, he has earned the nickname, renegade. Coming up how he managed that and my interview with Mayor Gavin Newsom and what he thinks about the National Democratic Party.

Plus the last big earthquake in San Francisco was in 1989. More than 60 people died, 4,000 injured. Coming up, are we any safer from deadly earthquakes today? What scientists have learned and what you need to know when 360 continues live from San Francisco.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Almost 40 years ago tonight, San Francisco was about to give birth to the hippie movement, the summer of 1967 was the summer of love. It became part of the city's lure and legacy, a touchstone of the 60's. Gavin Newsom just missed being born that summer, he arrived in October of '67 and today he is mayor of the city. Many mayors never really make a name for themselves. For Gavin Newsom, it took just about a month. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: February 2004, thousands of same-sex couples flocked to the San Francisco courthouse to be married. The man who made the controversial event happen? Mayor Gavin Newsom.

MAYOR GAVIN NEWSOM, (D) SAN FRANCISCO: I do not have the benefit or privilege to discriminate against people and it's something that I felt and I take seriously and reacted accordingly.

COOPER: Only a month earlier, President Bush had thrown his support behind a proposed constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. Newsom says he was outraged and that's why he defied California state law, ordering the city clerk to marry same-sex couples. It was, in a sense, a rush to the altar. After all, the move came just four weeks after Newsom took office, before the California Supreme Court ordered the city to stop, more than 4,000 same-sex couples had tied the knot. Gavin Newsom instantly rocketed from local politician to national figure. His rise was meteoric. After all, before mayor, he had been the city's parking and traffic commissioner. The then 36-year-old, fresh faced newbie was actually the more conservative democratic candidate for mayor. And when he won by only a sliver, he became the youngest San Francisco mayor in more than a century.

In his campaign, Newsom boldly dove into a long-time San Francisco quagmire, homelessness. Now as mayor, Newsom makes weekly trips to the city's housing projects, checking up on his initiatives and his constituents. Newsom's been compared to a young Bill Clinton or Kennedy and he may have national aspirations. He's been called one of the top five democrats in the country. Though some question his political savvy, there's little doubt Gavin Newsom will stay in the national headlines.

(END OF VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Well for the Republican Party, the headlines this week took a turn for the better. And with that in mind, I talk to Mayor Newsom.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Mayor Newsom, I'm interested to hear your perspective. It seems in the last week or two that the Republican Party, most notably the White House has sort of gotten their momentum back to some degree, some good news out of Iraq obviously good for the republicans, good news on Karl Rove. Are you concerned that they seem to be back on message?

NEWSOM: No. I mean, look. To the extent that there's good news coming out of Iraq, that's good news for America. So I don't think we need to be partisan about that to the extent that Karl Rove has not been indicted, well that's a low bar of celebration for the Republican Party.

COOPER: But Karl Rove not being indicted does mean Karl Rove focused squarely on his upcoming mid term elections. That's got to strike fear in the hearts of at least some democrats who are up for mid-term elections.

NEWSOM: Well if any indication of Karl Rove's leadership is what we've experienced in the last few weeks, if we're going back to the old play book of flag burning amendments and amendments to the constitution to ban same-sex marriage, it's an old play book and I think the Democratic Party is a more focused party, I think the Democratic Party has learned the mistakes of the past, it's a more unified party than I think it's been in my entire lifetime. So I think the democrats are prepared for that.

COOPER: Do you think the American people -- you say there's a sort of tried and true methods, the republicans divisive wedge issues. Do you think the American people will see through that this time?

NEWSOM: I mean I don't know anybody in the state of California I've ever come across, and I'm very identified with some of the issues, particularly gay marriage, that even bring it up. I mean they're talking about and I don't want to just go through the litany, but they're talking about health care, they're talking about gas prices, they're talking about education, they're talking about their concerns about this war on terror and the war in Iraq. And I think those are the issues that at the end of the day people are going to vote on, with all due respect to the playbook of the past. I think people are over that.

COOPER: It's interesting, though. I mean we had a situation this week where you have John Kerry saying he made a mistake in his vote in talking about some form of withdrawal. Hillary Clinton getting booed by democrats. Is that a sign of division? I mean, it clearly seems to be a sign of division -- Democratic Party, is a problem.

NEWSOM: I don't see it as a problem though. You know one of the reasons I love my party, the Democratic Party, is we don't march to the beat of someone like Karl Rove who says here's our talking points for the day. I like the fact there's some internal discussion and debate. I think we needed a little bit more of that, frankly, with respect to my party before we went into the war. So, I appreciate the voracity of Senator Kerry that's going to stand up and say what President Bush has a very hard time saying and that is "I was wrong." And now I'm going to learn from the mistake and move in a different direction.

COOPER: As you mentioned, gay marriage is already being brought up at this point in this election. You are so linked to that, as you, yourself, pointed out. Looking back at what happened in San Francisco, really at your doing, was it a mistake? What is it a mistake to move forward so quickly and start issuing marriage licenses?

NEWSOM: No. I think it was a mistake that democrats, for many years, haven't been standing up on principle on this. I have no regrets. I'm glad we humanized this debate. I don't think there's ever a right time to advance the notion of civil rights, human rights and I think this really is at the end of the day a civil rights struggle, whether people agree or disagree. I happen to believe that.

COOPER: It may not hurt you in San Francisco if you look nationally though, and maybe down the road want to run for national office, would it hurt you there?

NEWSOM: Yeah so what? I mean guys like me come and go, Anderson. One thing you know for certain, we come and go. I'm a future ex- mayor, as every elected official is a future ex-elected official.

(END OF VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Just like TV anchors, we come and go. That was San Francisco mayor, Gavin Newsom. The shot of the day is coming up. But first, Erica Hill has some of the business stories we're following. Erica?

HILL: Anderson, a big day on Wall Street, the Dow posting its best finish of the year, soaring 198 points to close above 11,000. NASDAQ jumped 58. The S&P gained 26 points. Most of those gains came after Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke said inflation expectations had fallen somewhat over the last month. And after the closing bell, Microsoft co-founder and Chairman Bill Gates announced he will give up his day- to-day role at the company in 2008. But he was quick to say the move is not a retirement, it's just a reordering of priorities. Gates says he wants to focus more time on his charity work at the $29 billion Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

And tough times for Pier One. The home furnishing's retailer has posted its fifth straight quarterly loss. In the company's first fiscal quarter of the year, it's net loss nearly doubled to more than $23 million. For fiscal 2007, Pier One now plans to close between 45 and 50 stores, up from original plans of 30. Anderson?

COOPER: That's too bad. Erica check out the shot, video that caught our eye today. The naked robber, that's what people are calling this. On Wednesday, a woman tried to steal cash from a Kansas City convenience store, she climbed over the counter, reached for the register. There it is the clerk fighting back and well, the woman ended up losing her shirt. That's right she fled topless.

HILL: He takes her shirt?

COOPER: He has her shirt. She flees topless with just three dollars, she comes back, returns the money, gets her shirt back and then she runs from the scene for good. Coincidentally, this is the same clerk, this clerk is very active, who fought back against another would-be robber. You may remember back in February we have that video.

HILL: I do remember.

COOPER: He chased a man out of the store with a golf club. That time, however, everyone's clothes appeared to stay on.

HILL: I mean why would you mess with a guy after you saw the golf club incident? Apparently she missed it. COOPER: It's like store clerk gone wild. Erica, thanks.

A lot more to come tonight, starting with the war in congress over the war in Iraq. Is it, as one congressman said today, a choice between our troops and Al Qaeda? That was a republican congressman talking. We will ask him if he still stands by what he said.

Also tonight, the earthquake here today, what happened and what it may mean for millions living on the fault line in the future.

And a life or death decision for a father of six who desperately needs a new liver. Coming up how far he will go to get it. And who may suffer because of his choice. Ahead on 360 from the city by the bay.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Good evening from San Francisco. Tonight, with 2,500 Americans now dead in Iraq, and congress bitterly divided, there are signs the insurgency could be weakening even as the battle over Iraq heats up.

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

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