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PAULA ZAHN NOW

Scooter Libby Convicted; Republicans Ready For Rudy?

Aired March 6, 2007 - 20:00   ET

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


PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, everybody. Glad to have you with us tonight.
Out in the open: unanswered questions, despite a jury's clear verdict that Scooter Libby lied.

Also, some serious misgivings about the two of the most prominent candidates for president.

And in the savage world behind bars and fences separating blacks and Hispanics as the only way to save lives.

Tonight, there is a resolution in a story that's been out in the open since July of 2003, the CIA leak case. At high noon today, a jury convicted Scooter Libby, Vice President Cheney's former chief of staff, on four of five counts of perjury and obstruction of justice.

Libby was never charged with actually leaking the name of CIA agent Valerie Plame, but he was accused of lying to investigators about the whole issue.

So, the verdict only brings more questions out in the open tonight: Is Libby just the fall guy? Will President Bush pardon him? Should more heads roll at the White House? And is the Bush administration's credibility beyond repair?

Our search for answers begins with Brian Todd, who was at the courthouse when the verdict came down.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Silent and stoic, Lewis Scooter Libby lets his attorney react to the jury's crushing verdict, guilty on four of five counts of obstruction, perjury, and making false statements to the FBI.

TED WELLS, ATTORNEY FOR LEWIS SCOOTER LIBBY: We believe, as we said at the time of his indictment, that he is totally innocent -- totally innocent -- and that he did not do anything wrong.

TODD: Ted Wells vows to fight for a new trial, and says, if that fails, he will appeal the verdict.

Inside the courtroom, observers say, Vice President Cheney's former chief of staff blinks several times as the verdict is read. Libby's wife then hugs and kisses Wells, telling him, "I love you," apparently moved by his advocacy for her husband. Outside, Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald says he's satisfied with the outcome, but:

PATRICK FITZGERALD, U.S. ATTORNEY: The results are actually sad. It's sad that we had a situation where a high-level official, a person who worked in the office of the vice president, obstructed justice and lied under oath. We wish that had not had happened -- that had not happened. But it did.

TODD: Prosecutors presented nine witnesses, current and former senior government and CIA officials and three prominent journalists, all directly contradicting Scooter Libby's account of his conversations about CIA officer Valerie Plame.

She is married to Joseph Wilson, a harsh critic of the Bush administration's handling of intelligence regarding Iraq. In July 2003, he wrote a critical op-ed piece.

JEFFREY JACOBOVITZ, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: What the evidence has showed is how essentially panic-stricken the White House was over this editorial by Joseph Wilson and how they were trying to discredit his testimony.

TODD: During closing arguments, Fitzgerald said NBC's Tim Russert had been -- quote -- "a devastating witness against Libby" -- Russert rebutting Libby's claim that he first heard about Valerie Plame Wilson's CIA job from Russert.

One juror says the panel found Russert credible and did not buy Libby's claim of a bad memory.

Personally, though:

DENIS COLLINS, LIBBY TRIAL JUROR: I just think he was a very sympathetic guy, sitting over there day after day. His voice, on the -- on the grand jury testimony was very, very even and polite and nice. And we -- you know, nobody had any animosity toward him.

TODD: Libby's chance on appeal? One former prosecutor says it may be tough.

RICHARD SMITH, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Appellate courts are very reluctant to disturb a jury verdict, when it is quite clear that the jury seriously evaluated the evidence.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

TODD: Scooter Libby now could face up to 25 years in prison, but, under federal sentencing guidelines, he's likely to get much less time than that. Sentencing is set for June -- Paula.

ZAHN: And what are the chances he will be pardoned once that sentence comes down?

TODD: Well, there is a chance that that could happen. And he could essentially run out the clock between the appeals process, the motion for a new trial.

President Bush, if he pardons Scooter Libby, would do that after the presidential election next year. The appeals process could take until that time. And, then, if President Bush pardons him, he will not go to jail. But that is a lot of speculation. Even the White House press secretary said that today.

And one thing to remember is that Scooter Libby's defense team said that Mr. Libby was scapegoated by the White House to protect Karl Rove. So, any speculation about a pardon, you know, it could go either way at this point.

ZAHN: Brian Todd, thanks so much. Appreciate the update.

Now time for tonight's "Out in the Open" panel to weigh in on the Libby verdict.

With me now, Darrell Ankarlo, radio talk show host at KTAR-FM in Phoenix.

Welcome.

DARRELL ANKARLO, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Thank you.

ZAHN: First time you have been on with us.

ANKARLO: Yes.

ZAHN: Amy Holmes, old hand at this, Republican political strategist, welcome back.

AMY HOLMES, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Thank you.

ZAHN: And welcome back to you, as well, John Aravosis, founder of AMERICAblog.com.

I want to start off tonight by listening to a revealing part of an interview one of the jurors gave to reporters just after the verdict came down.

Let's all listen together.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COLLINS: It was said a number of times, what are we doing with this guy here? Where's Rove? Where's -- you know, where are these other guys?

We're not saying that we didn't think Mr. Libby was guilty of the things we found him guilty of, but that it seemed like he was, to put it in Mr. Wells' point of view, he was the fall guy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAHN: Was he the fall guy, Amy Holmes?

HOLMES: I don't think he was the fall guy. And, in fact, I don't think there was an underlying crime here.

Valerie Plame, who is the central character of all this, was not a covert agent, as was said in the press over and over.

(CROSSTALK)

HOLMES: She -- she was not a covert agent. And, so, the Identities Protection Act...

(CROSSTALK)

ZAHN: But wait.

(CROSSTALK)

ZAHN: Are you going to tell me tonight perjury was not committed...

(CROSSTALK)

ZAHN: ... this guy is found guilty of four of five counts?

HOLMES: You just -- you just heard the juror say, what was -- what was this guy doing here? And he mentions Karl Rove. And then, again, you heard about Dick Cheney, as if there is this larger conspiracy.

The White House has its -- has a right to be able to beat back criticism of its war policy, whether it comes from Joe Wilson or anybody else. But I think this is -- again, this is criminalizing politics. And it is not good for -- not good for Washington.

JOHN ARAVOSIS, FOUNDER, AMERICABLOG.COM: It's criminalizing the outing of a CIA agent.

Valerie Plame was an undercover agent. The Republicans -- I'm sorry -- have twisted the truth on this repeatedly. It is -- there just isn't any source that says she wasn't undercover. They took a CIA agent. They outed her for politics.

We got Libby convicted, but I do feel sorry for him, to the degree I think he is a fall guy. Whether it's Karl Rove, whether it's Dick Cheney or somebody else, somebody higher up in this administration tried to basically fight back by going after this woman.

(CROSSTALK)

ZAHN: There is a view out there...

ARAVOSIS: And they should be held accountable.

ZAHN: ... that -- that -- and this doesn't make sense to me, but a lot of people feel this -- that -- that Scooter Libby allowed himself to be scapegoated, because he knows that there's a presidential pardon awaiting... (CROSSTALK)

ANKARLO: Yes.

You know what? And I read that. And I'm not buying it for a second. I believe that that is -- it's -- it's -- it's really just a campaign to make the president appear bad in this situation. It is an attempt to say: You're going to pardon this guy. You know this guy's the bad guy. You're going to take care of him.

(CROSSTALK)

ARAVOSIS: ... he'll pardon him?

(CROSSTALK)

ARAVOSIS: You don't -- you don't...

(CROSSTALK)

ANKARLO: I believe that, if he pardons -- pardons him, it will be the very last thing that he does before he steps out of the presidency.

ARAVOSIS: Oh, absolutely.

ANKARLO: He's not going to take it on now.

ARAVOSIS: Oh, he will wait. Oh...

(CROSSTALK)

ANKARLO: And I think it's something that should not be on the table right now. This is not something that should be talked about.

(CROSSTALK)

ARAVOSIS: He will wait until he's out the door, of course.

(CROSSTALK)

ARAVOSIS: That's the safest way to do it.

ZAHN: He has to wait until...

(CROSSTALK)

ANKARLO: But the media is pushing that. Why is the media pushing it right now? To demonize the president.

ARAVOSIS: Because he's going to do it as the last thing. That's the point.

(CROSSTALK)

ZAHN: Well, let's -- let's talk about what key Democrats are already saying about this issue.

We're going to put up on the screen something Senator Harry Reid had to say -- quote -- "Lewis Libby has been convicted of perjury, but his trial revealed deeper truths about Vice President Cheney's role in this sordid affair. Now President Bush must pledge not to pardon Libby for his criminal conduct."

I mean, he's not -- he's not going to listen to that.

(CROSSTALK)

ANKARLO: No, he's not.

(CROSSTALK)

ANKARLO: No, not for a second.

(CROSSTALK)

HOLMES: Of course not.

(CROSSTALK)

ANKARLO: Not for a second.

HOLMES: This is -- and it is completely disingenuous. These are the same Democrats who had nothing to say over the Clinton pardon scandal, Marc Rich, cocaine dealers.

(CROSSTALK)

ARAVOSIS: Cap Weinberger getting pardoned after Iran-Contra. OK. Maybe we need to stop all the pardons.

(CROSSTALK)

ARAVOSIS: Maybe all the criminals need to stop getting pardons.

HOLMES: Entirely, entirely, disingenuous on the part of Democrats.

ZAHN: Let's hear what Andrew Sullivan had to say.

Now, this is a person -- you know, even though the lead prosecutor said, the investigations end with Libby's conviction, this is what Andrew Sullivan wrote: "Something is rotten in the heart of Washington, and it lies in the vice president's office. We now need a congressional investigation to subpoena Cheney, and, if he won't cooperate, consider impeaching him."

ANKARLO: Not a chance. Not a second. First of all, let's go through it.

ARAVOSIS: Because he's such a well-liked and honest guy.

ANKARLO: Yes, but -- but it doesn't work that way. Let's stop and look at this for a minute.

First of all, Libby was really held out like a carrot, like he was going to testify. He should have. I think his defense strategy screwed him as a result of that.

The president -- or the vice president was never going to testify. It was never going to happen. It never shall happen. In this case, you have got a guy who was told: If we find out who made the leak, I'm going to fire his sorry butt, the president said -- in my words, paraphrased.

And he was worried for his job. And that's why he lied.

(CROSSTALK)

ZAHN: Final thought, Amy.

(CROSSTALK)

HOLMES: Yes.

And let's remember the original leak to Robert Novak was Richard Armitage. It was not Scooter Libby to Bob Novak. And we know that Ari Fleischer spoke to Walter Pincus.

(CROSSTALK)

ARAVOSIS: Bottom line is, a top White House follow was convicted today of perjury and obstructing justice by outing a CIA agent. And that's a serious matter. He was convicted by a jury of his peers. No amount of spin is going to change that fact.

ZAHN: All right, you three, stay right there.

ANKARLO: Absolutely.

ZAHN: We have got a lot more to debate tonight.

Also, there will be much more reaction to the Libby verdict on "LARRY KING LIVE." Joe Wilson, husband of Valerie Plame Wilson, the CIA operative whose identity was leaked, which we were just talking about, and a juror from the trial join Larry King tonight at 9:00 Eastern.

Out in the open next: a couple of presidential candidates with big problems inside their own parties -- coming up: white evangelical Christians who say there is no way Rudy Giuliani will ever get the nomination, even though polls suggest they feel otherwise.

Plus: Democratic women who aren't sure they want Senator Hillary Clinton and all her political baggage -- an explanation when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ZAHN: Out in the open next: the huge challenges facing a pair of top-tier presidential candidates.

Senator Hillary Clinton and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani are so both well known and the records so wide open that even their potential supporters are finding reasons to say: Wait a minute. Is this really who we want for president?

Let's get started with Rudy Giuliani. He earned the nickname, of course, of America's mayor with his leadership on and after 9/11. But the rest of his record as mayor is something else. Many Republicans like his tough stand on law and order. But will they put up with his support for gun control? And, then, there's the matter of looking presidential. Get a load of this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, CHAIRMAN & CEO, TRUMP HOTELS & CASINO RESORTS: I like that.

RUDOLPH GIULIANI (R), FORMER MAYOR OF NEW YORK: This -- this may be the best of all.

Oh, you dirty boy, you. Oh. Oh.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(LAUGHTER)

ZAHN: It's hard to imagine any politician comfortable enough to cross-dress in public, even for charity. But it's even harder to imagine some Republicans actually liking Giuliani's support for gay rights and abortion rights.

And, yes, a candidate's personal life matters. In Giuliani's case, there are three marriages and a very messy public divorce from wife number two, plus a continuing rift between Giuliani and his two children.

With all that out in the open tonight, will the Republican Party's white Protestant conservative base support Rudy Giuliani?

Let's get some answers now from Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission.

That title couldn't get any longer, sir.

(LAUGHTER)

ZAHN: Welcome. Glad to have you with us.

RICHARD LAND, PRESIDENT, SOUTHERN BAPTIST CONVENTION ETHICS AND RELIGIOUS LIBERTY COMMISSION: It's good to be with you.

ZAHN: I would like for you to take a look at a poll with us tonight, a most recent one from ABC News, that shows Giuliani's support among evangelicals almost double John McCain's. Can you explain this to us? Why does John McCain, who opposes abortion rights and same-sex marriage, get killed in that poll by Giuliani?

LAND: Well, first of all, there was a Gallup poll a couple of weeks ago that showed that most of those 44 percent aren't aware of many of Rudy Giuliani's positions.

He is campaigning as the heroic figure that he indeed was in 9/11 and the aftermath of 9/11. And the Gallup poll showed that, when you informed likely Republican voters in primaries of his pro-choice position, his pro-civil-unions position, his pro-gun-control position, and the fact that he's been married three times, his lead over John McCain disappeared.

The second thing I would say is, is that John McCain has his own issues with evangelicals that have to do more with a little more amorphous thing called unpredictability. They know he's pro-life, but I have had numerous pro-life leaders say to me, John McCain is pro- life, but do we have any reason to believe that his being pro-life would have anything to do with who he would nominate to the Supreme Court?

It's that kind of uncomfortability with his unpredictability, the -- the maverick nature that makes him so popular with independents, that gives conservatives pause. I can tell you social conservatives are looking for a new face.

ZAHN: Right.

LAND: And they're looking at the other candidates to see if one can emerge that they can coalesce around, because they're not happy with Giuliani and they're not happy with McCain.

ZAHN: But I have been told by some really smart people in -- that -- that make up your base that, when it comes to -- to backing a candidate who they think could beat a Democratic nominee, they would be willing to forgive Giuliani on issues of his being pro-choice and being pro-gun-control just to back a winner.

LAND: Well, I think that they need to spend more time with their base, if they think that.

And you haven't mentioned, in those two issues, the one that is going to give him the most trouble. And that is the fact that he's in his third marriage, and the second marriage ended in a messy divorce, with his second wife taking out a restraining order to keep him from bringing his mistress to the official residence of the mayor of New York. That's a huge character issue.

And I would -- I would say to those people that you talked with, they ought to spend more time talking to the women in their base, who I find are outraged by his behavior and his treatment of his second wife.

ZAHN: Just very quickly, if -- if these two guys aren't the new faces, is -- is there another face we should be aware of tonight that -- that meets your criteria here?

LAND: Well, look, Sam Brownback and Mike Huckabee are both true- blue social conservatives. They have got to convince the social conservative base that they can win.

ZAHN: All right.

LAND: And that's what they have got to try to do.

ZAHN: Richard Land, appreciate your input tonight.

LAND: Thank you.

ZAHN: Thank you.

We would like you to join the conversation tonight. Please send us an e-mail, NOW@CNN.com. Our panel will read some of them and give their reactions. Fire away. They're at the computers.

You guys don't look busy enough. The e-mails are coming. Get to work.

All right.

Coming up next: same problem, different party. Will the Democrats nominate Senator Hillary Clinton for president with all of her political baggage out in the open?

And, then, a little bit later on, the brutal, bloody reality of a world we almost never see, it is out in the open tonight with our panelists.

We will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ZAHN: Out in the open tonight, the huge obstacles facing two leading presidential candidates. We just talked about Rudy Giuliani's challenges appealing to conservative Republicans.

Now the Democrats and Hillary Clinton -- 54 percent of voters happen to be women. Senator Clinton is determined, of course, to take advantage of that. But, as first lady, Mrs. Clinton turned from outspoken feminist who put down the stand-by-your-man crowd to the woman who stood by her man during the Lewinsky affair.

Tonight, Mary Snow looks at how Senator Clinton plans to win over women.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Call it the female factor. Democratic presidential candidate Senator Hillary Clinton is making an all-out push to woo women voters. She's appealing to them to make her the first female president.

SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D), NEW YORK: Together, we can break that hardest and highest of all glass ceilings.

SNOW: Here, Senator Clinton is preaching to the converted. This political group, EMILY's List, supports pro-choice Democratic women. And it has already endorsed Clinton.

The question is, will other women nationwide follow its lead? The Clinton campaign says it is trying to build a national network through social contacts and the Web, all based on the premise that women rely on one another.

ANN LEWIS, CLINTON CAMPAIGN SENIOR ADVISER: When women have questions that are really important to them, when women want to talk about what's important to their families, they going to talk to other women about it.

SNOW: Helping to do the talking, the Clinton camp has enlisted Geraldine Ferraro, the first female vice presidential candidate; first female secretary of state, Madeleine Albright; and tennis great Billie Jean King, among others, to reach out to women.

And recent history shows that women voters have a numerical advantage.

RUTH MANDEL, DIRECTOR, EAGLETON INSTITUTE OF POLITICS: About almost nine million more women voted in the 2004 presidential elections. We would not expect that number to go down.

SNOW: And one of the ways the campaign hopes to win over women voters: economic issues.

CLINTON: Even today, more than 40 years after the passage of the Equal Pay Act, women who work full time year round earn just 70 cents for every dollar that a man earns.

SNOW: What kind of a difference can women make? A recent poll shows, among men, Senators Clinton and Democratic rival Senator Barack Obama are roughly neck and neck, but, among women, Clinton was clearly in the lead. Political analysts believe Hillary Clinton should do very well among women Democrats. The challenge will come trying to win over Republicans and independents.

Mary Snow, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ZAHN: Back to our "Out in the Open" panel now: Darrell Ankarlo, Amy Holmes, John Aravosis.

We should make it clear that the former first lady was speaking to a group of progressive female voters who support abortion rights.

But the -- the question is, when you look at her draw across the total American public, is she more polarizing than inspiring?

ANKARLO: Absolutely. Don't you think? Absolutely polarizing.

And I -- I would add to it, what a game today that she comes out and says: I'm a woman. Hear me roar. Vote for me because I'm woman.

And that's the endorsement she gets.

That's Barack Obama coming out tomorrow and saying: I'm black. Vote for me now. I'm black.

This is sick.

(CROSSTALK)

ARAVOSIS: But why shouldn't...

ANKARLO: This is sick.

ARAVOSIS: But why shouldn't Barack Obama do that...

(CROSSTALK)

ARAVOSIS: ... the black community, and why shouldn't Hillary do that? You know...

(CROSSTALK)

ANKARLO: We're not going to go for somebody based on their background, John.

(CROSSTALK)

ARAVOSIS: Absolutely. My family is Greek. OK?

ANKARLO: Yes.

ARAVOSIS: Pretty Republican family as well.

When Dukakis was running for president, you better believe the Greek community in Chicago came out for that man, even though there's a lot of Republican Greeks in Chicago. They were proud of their guy.

ANKARLO: Hear what you're saying. Listen to what you're saying.

(CROSSTALK)

ARAVOSIS: I think...

(CROSSTALK)

ARAVOSIS: Listen to what I'm saying? You're saying I'm lying?

(CROSSTALK)

ANKARLO: No, it doesn't work.

(CROSSTALK)

ANKARLO: It doesn't work.

(CROSSTALK)

HOLMES: Hold on a minute.

ARAVOSIS: The point isn't -- the point isn't that she's going to win because she's running as a woman.

But I think there are segments of women and segments of certain communities that are going to say: You know what? Finally, one of ours is going to make it.

(CROSSTALK)

ANKARLO: Yes, but that's what she said today.

(CROSSTALK)

ARAVOSIS: What's so wrong about that?

ANKARLO: That's what she said today.

HOLMES: As a woman, may I jump in?

ANKARLO: Yes, please.

(LAUGHTER)

ZAHN: Absolutely...

HOLMES: Yes.

(CROSSTALK)

ZAHN: ... Amy Holmes.

(LAUGHTER)

(CROSSTALK)

HOLMES: ... that women are not a monolithic vote.

In fact, in 2004...

(CROSSTALK)

HOLMES: ... George Bush got 55 percent of the white women vote. He got 48 percent of the working women vote.

So, when you look at women, they cast their votes for whomever they prefer. And, if terrorism is your top issue, you may be going for the person who is hawkish.

What I think Hillary actually sort of risks here is that who -- who is Hillary? Is she running as a woman? Do you remember when she came out when she was running for the Senate that she had a Jewish grandmother? We saw that just ridiculous speech that she gave down in Selma, with all her inflections. So, she keeps trying on each of these different hats.

ANKARLO: Right. Right.

HOLMES: And it's -- and it's confusing.

ARAVOSIS: Why can't she be a multifaceted person, in this country?

The problem, I would argue, is that Republicans, perhaps, are trying to put her into one category. You -- not you, but, I mean, the party can't accept the fact that maybe she is a woman. Maybe she's a Clinton. Maybe she's many things.

(CROSSTALK)

HOLMES: I don't think that's fair.

(CROSSTALK)

HOLMES: You saw the Republican Party...

(CROSSTALK)

HOLMES: ... about Condoleezza Rice.

(CROSSTALK)

ZAHN: Before we go any further, let's allow the audience to listen to the reference she made...

ANKARLO: OK.

ZAHN: ... in that speech about being a woman.

(CROSSTALK)

ZAHN: So, everybody can make their own judgment here. Let's listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CLINTON: Guess what? I'm a woman. And I know what's on people's minds. And I ask people to vote for me based on my entire life experience. But the fact is that being a woman, a wife, a mother, having to work my way forward in the legal profession and in politics, is a part of who I am.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ARAVOSIS: Wow. Wow. Wow.

(CROSSTALK)

ZAHN: ... is a part of who she is.

HOLMES: Absolutely. (CROSSTALK)

ARAVOSIS: It's fine that it'S a part of who she is, but what she's saying -- read between the lines -- I'm a woman. Vote for me because I'm a woman.

And it doesn't work.

ARAVOSIS: Actually...

HOLMES: And, if you were to look at it in the reverse, what would you be saying, that don't vote for her because she's a woman? I think this appeal is pandering.

(CROSSTALK)

ARAVOSIS: Oh, please.

ANKARLO: It is definitely pandering.

ARAVOSIS: You guys -- you guys sound afraid -- you guys sound afraid that she might actually get the woman vote.

What I think is actually going on here is that she's probably inoculating herself a little bit from the: Hey, you know, we're a nation at war. Can a woman really handle it?

I think she's trying to get it out there, saying: Yes, I am a woman. And you know what? A woman doesn't mean that I'm feeble, that I'm...

(CROSSTALK)

ARAVOSIS: A woman means positive things as well.

ANKARLO: Let me agree with you, John.

ARAVOSIS: You know...

ANKARLO: I think she did a great job of not apologizing for the war. She is trying to show -- she's trying to show some leadership...

ARAVOSIS: You guys sound scared that she's saying she's a woman.

(CROSSTALK)

ANKARLO: ... and say: Look, I won't apologize. I voted for it. I got bad information.

I really dug that. I thought, OK, here is somebody who says, I want to be a leader.

ARAVOSIS: OK.

ANKARLO: And, here, I can step up to the plate and -- and swing for the fences. HOLMES: What I think this is really about is that Hillary is trying to soften her image. She's trying to get away from the: I don't take -- I don't bake cookies, and...

ANKARLO: The feminist, right.

HOLMES: ... you know, I don't stand by my man.

ARAVOSIS: Right.

HOLMES: And she has a lot of trouble among women voters.

ARAVOSIS: And that's a horrible thing for her to do.

HOLMES: ... for being -- appearing to be, you know, shrill or difficult. And this is to reach out to women.

(CROSSTALK)

ZAHN: This is a well-honed strategy.

HOLMES: Yes.

ZAHN: She would not have said that today if someone wasn't convinced it was going to help bring in the female vote.

(CROSSTALK)

HOLMES: If it hadn't been focus-tested and polled...

(CROSSTALK)

ARAVOSIS: But now it's wrong for Hillary Clinton to say she's a woman, and maybe that brings some unique attributes in America. I'm sorry. I don't think you have to be embarrassed to say that, maybe, as a woman, she brings something different than -- than George Bush.

ZAHN: All right.

HOLMES: I don't -- I don't...

(CROSSTALK)

ARAVOSIS: Great. Good for her.

ZAHN: Just let's review one final number before we go into the break.

There's a new ABC News/"Washington Post" poll that shows that she basically has almost double the support of Democratic women, look, 40 percent of Democratic women, compared to 22 percent for Senator Obama.

ARAVOSIS: How interesting is that?

ZAHN: So, doesn't that make sense...

(CROSSTALK)

ZAHN: ... that she tries to build momentum this way?

HOLMES: I think it's an important...

ZAHN: You may think it's stupid, but...

(CROSSTALK)

HOLMES: I think it's an important primary strategy. But, again, I don't think we should be selecting our presidential candidates based on their gender or their race.

ARAVOSIS: Well, yes, because -- because you have a woman running against you. Of course you don't want -- you don't want people to vote on the fact that she's a woman...

(CROSSTALK)

ARAVOSIS: ... because you don't have a woman running.

HOLMES: Well, I think your accusation that Republicans can't vote for a woman...

ARAVOSIS: I mean, you know, of course.

HOLMES: ... is just, you know, ridiculous.

ARAVOSIS: You don't want them voting on the war either, because that's another bad issue for you guys.

(CROSSTALK)

ANKARLO: I think the best -- the best gamble that she can take here on the relationship issue of the woman is, she's going to hope that Bill Clinton gets into some more trouble here and see how she can play it on the...

HOLMES: Play the victim.

ANKARLO: ... the back end.

ZAHN: All right, team.

ARAVOSIS: Oh, vs. the war in Iraq?

ZAHN: Got to...

(CROSSTALK)

ARAVOSIS: ... Bill Clinton compete with that. OK.

ZAHN: Got to leave it there.

We have got a lot more to talk about tonight.

(CROSSTALK)

ZAHN: And you can be part of the conversation. Please send us an e-mail, NOW@CNN.com. Our panel will read some of them and give their reactions a little bit later on.

We wanted to break into our regular coverage now with a breaking news story in Indonesia, where it is already Wednesday morning. An airliner apparently caught fire, or exploded, when it crash-landed at an airport, trapping passengers inside.

We have some brand-new video to share with you tonight of the crash site. The Boeing 757 was operated by Indonesia's national carrier, Garuda. Reports say rescue crews desperately tried to reach the passengers who were on the plane.

We don't know at this hour exactly how many people were on board, although some Indonesia media reports say there were about 100 people on that plane.

As soon as we get more information to you -- to us, we will bring it to you live.

Out in the open next: the shocking solution to a hidden war. Come with us behind bars, where segregation may be the only way to save lives.

And then later: the shocking increase in teens choosing a drastic last-resort method to lose weight. And we're talking a lot of weight.

We will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ZAHN: "Out in the Open" tonight, the controversial solution to gang violence that was devastating one of the biggest jails in the country, and it's something that would be considered outrageous any other place you can think of. But in L.A., the solution they found is segregation.

Ted Rowlands went inside the L.A. jail to get the story for us.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): The maximum security North County Men's detention Center is L.A.'s largest lockup. There are five separate jails here housing some 4,000 inmates. Its population mirrors some of the toughest neighborhoods in the Los Angeles area, right down to the deadly gang-inspired racial divide.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We don't get along living in the same dorms. There's a lot of problems. Basically, you know, we just want to stay segregated.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE), they like to throw their dirty things. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They're very dirty. You know? They're loud. They're very high spoken. And, you know, we don't accept no disrespect.

SGT. LARRY MEAD, L.A. COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPT.: If a black attacks a Hispanic, well, the whole dorm or whatever you have, wherever they're housed, they divide along racial lines. And that's the issue that we have in here.

ROWLANDS: It's been an issue at North County and in other California jails and prisons for years, according to jail staff. After a deadly uprising last year, Hispanic inmates actually asked to be separated by race in a letter that the L.A. County sheriff read allowed.

SHERIFF LEE BACA, LOS ANGELES COUNTY: It says, "No disrespect, but if blacks come in any dorms we will fight. We do not want to go against the sheriffs. Please separate us by race so everyone will be safe.

ROWLANDS: An extraordinary example of the role that race plays here involves members of rival Hispanic gangs. They're mortal enemies on the street, but once behind bars they unite.

MEAD: When they come in here, they band together under that sorreno (ph) umbrella. And they stick together. They're more organized.

ROWLANDS: Prison officials say those Hispanic gang members started that bloody uprising last year that ended up changing the way the jail separates inmates.

CAPT. GREG JOHNSON, L.A. COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPT.: It was what they call a green light on all non-Hispanic gang members throughout the entire jail. This is a big jail. That plan was carried out at a specific time on a Saturday afternoon.

ROWLANDS: For hours that Saturday there was chaos. The fighting involved more than 2,000 inmates. Hundreds of them were injured, as were a handful of deputies. One inmate, a sex offender with no gang affiliation, was killed.

After last year's riot, all the Hispanic gang members who had lived in the general population were separated and moved into this section of the jail.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We isolated Hispanic gang members from the rest of the population.

ROWLANDS (on camera): And what has that done?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It has reduced violence significantly.

Historically, this facility has averaged two significant dorm disturbances per month, every month. We haven't had one since last June. ROWLANDS (voice over): It may be working, but is also brings some concern that separation will perpetuate the racial divide. Jail officials point out that it's not all Hispanics, just gang members who are separated.

The U.S. Supreme Court had ruled that separating solely by race is unconstitutional. Jail officials say they are dealing with that issue here, but in a slightly different way, and at this point they insist that separate is not only equal but safer.

Ted Rowlands, CNN, Los Angeles.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ZAHN: So right now I want to do something different and give you a feel for what it's like to ride along with one of our correspondents to show you how we gather the news, what it's really like to be there.

So here's what it took for Ted Rowlands to get this story inside the maximum security L.A. jail.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You need just a driver's license.

ROWLANDS: Yes, sir.

Today we're heading into the Los Angeles County's largest men's jail. This is the Pitchess Detention Center. Our story today is black-brown tension. So we're going to hopefully get a chance to talk to some of the inmates and get a real feel for this supposed tension between the races.

This is one facility that is segregated at times. There's been history of uprisings here. I can see why they call this place "The Ranch".

Commander, how are you? Ted Rowlands. Nice to meet you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can take shots in here. Just make sure that you guys block out the faces.

ROWLANDS: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We just have to trust you on that.

ROWLANDS: Yes.

If you can't trust the media, who can you trust?

We'd like to go to where the south-siders are.

Is that cool?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't have is a problem with that.

JOHNSON: And we have 4,175 beds in the facility. The more people you put into a certain space, the more volatile it can become.

ROWLANDS: No guns or knives, I take it?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No guns or knives.

ROWLANDS: No leather (ph).

JOHNSON: This is what your typical pod looks like. You have a staff station right here. And then you have four dorms. They all live together.

Generally about 68 inmates in each dorm. These are integrated dorms. We've just taken Hispanic gang members and removed them and kept them separate.

ROWLANDS: We just found out that in this dorm, 712, is where an inmate was killed during that uprising in February. This is the 800 building, and this is where the Latino gang members that started that uprising back in February, not these actual inmates, but this gang, they've been put in this building and in others, segregated from the rest of the population. And since they've made that move, deputies here say it's made a huge difference in the terms of the violence in this facility.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Historically, this facility has averaged two significant dorm disturbances per month, every month. We haven't had one since last June.

ROWLANDS: It's interesting to see, definitely, the different -- the different people inside here all together. A lot of tattoos. And probably 90, 95 percent Hispanic.

MEAD: The person comes into jail and is an inmate. OK? You have to stick with your race. When a fight breaks out, you have to fight.

ROWLANDS: And you fight if you're black with the blacks and et cetera?

MEAD: Yes.

ROWLANDS: No matter if you're a gang member or not?

MEAD: It doesn't matter.

ROWLANDS: While leaving the facility we got a real good feel for the divide between black and brown, specifically in this facility. The fact that they separate all of the Latino gang members and put them in one area so that they can keep the peace, and the fact that it has worked, the level of violence here greatly decreased since that riot last February, is fascinating.

The changing demographics in society has definitely changed life inside of jails and prisons. And it's something that most likely is going to happen in other communities and other cities around the country. (END VIDEOTAPE)

ZAHN: I hope that gives you a really good idea of what all of us are up against when we're in the field trying to bring you things you've never seen before on camera.

Ted Rowlands reporting for us.

And what was once a last resort for grossly overweight adults is now being tried more and more by teens. "Out in the Open" next, is it safe? And how would you feel if your child decided to do the surgery?

And in tonight's "People You Should Know" segment, can you pick out the mayor of one of this country's biggest cities? We hope you can.

Some hints when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ZAHN: "Out in the Open" tonight, a startling new study about teenagers battling obesity. It is just out this week, and it says the number of teens undergoing obesity surgery has tripled in recent years. And researchers think a lot of those kids are having the surgery because of celebrities like broadcaster Al Roker and singer Carnie Wilson. They've done it.

Here's Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Jonathan Hernandez was a normal sized baby. His mother says he didn't start getting big until third grade. As he got bigger, he stopped going out and he stayed in his room.

JONATHAN HERNANDEZ, BARIATRIC SURGERY PATIENT: What would people think when they saw me like that? And then I was, like -- and then I didn't want them to, like, look at me looking at me like oh, my God, look at him like that.

GUPTA: At 16, he weighed 402 pounds. His sleep apnea was so bad that even breathing was difficult. He had to undergo a tracheotomy.

MARYDALE MASSEY, JONATHAN'S MOTHER: He was so big, that it was pressing on his heart and on his chest. And he couldn't breathe.

GUPTA: In two years, he's lost 90 pounds after having weight loss surgery at a new pediatric program offered in Atlanta.

MARK WULKAN, DR., EMORY PEDIATRIC SURGEON: It's a lifesaver and it's life altering for these children. I think you give them back a piece of their childhood.

GUPTA: Dr. Mark Wulkan performs bariatric or weight loss surgery that involves inserting a band that clamps down on the stomach, restricting access. The Food and Drug Administration has not approved the use of the so-called lap band for children 17 and under, but Wulkan believes it's safe in part because it's reversible.

(on camera): Hospital officials around the country say the increased demand for adolescent weight loss surgery has prompted them to create special programs for obese kids. In fact, one surgeon here in Atlanta told us he used to get requests for surgery once a year. Now he's getting them once a month.

(voice-over): Weight loss surgery can cost up to $25,000 with Medicaid sometimes picking up the tab. And the issue surrounding obese teens are complex and cultural. Nutrition and fitness expert Dr. Pamela Peek urges extreme caution when it comes to surgery.

DR. PAMELA PEEK: We don't have long-term data outside of three to five years. And at that time, we're seeing that it appears a large number, if not a majority, are actually regaining their weight.

HERNANDEZ: Bye, Kaitlin. See you tomorrow.

GUPTA: Jonathan's mother says for her son, having the operation was a life saver.

MASSEY: That saved my baby's life.

GUPTA: Despite the work, Jonathan says he'd do it all again. He now has good friends, has taken a great interest in drama class, and just went to his first prom.

Jonathan's mother sums it up this way...

MASSEY: Now he's enjoying life to the fullest, believe me.

GUPTA: Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN, Atlanta.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ZAHN: Coming up at the top of the hour, a "LARRY KING LIVE" exclusive, one of the jurors from the Scooter Libby trial. Plus, the leaked CIA operative's husband, Joe Wilson.

Coming up next, a groundbreaking mayor who's one of the people you should know.

Also, it isn't too late to send an e-mail in to us now at CNN.com. My panelists are hard at work now. Ooh, they found one they just liked. Darrell landed a good one. He better be able to answer it.

They're going to read some of them in a little bit.

Please stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ZAHN: And it's the time of the show where we take a quick break for a "BizBreak" with Kiran Chetry.

(BUSINESS REPORT)

ZAHN: A little bit earlier on we showed you some of the radical steps being taken to deal with violent gang members in Los Angeles jails, but outside the prisons on some L.A. streets gang violence has increased as much as 160 percent.

Right now you're going to meet someone who is launching an all- out assault on the gangs. He's the focus of tonight's "People You Should Know."

Here's the report from Chris Lawrence.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Los Angeles, a sun-kissed city where dreams and stars are born. But the City of Angels is also home to more than 700 violent and criminal street gangs, with an estimated 40,000 members.

L.A.'s mayor, Antonio Villaraigosa, is tackling his city's gang problems head on.

MAYOR ANTONIO VILLARAIGOSA (D), LOS ANGELES: Well, we have a message for the gang leaders. We're coming with everything we have.

LAWRENCE: Villaraigosa grew up poor on the streets of east L.A. He dropped out of one school and got kicked out of another for fighting, and says it's those experiences that helped shape his understanding of L.A.'s gang crisis.

VILLARAIGOSA: As someone whose life is a poster child for redemption, I believe strongly that we have to believe in people. We can't just vilify and demonize young people. We've got to give them, you know, alternatives.

LAWRENCE: In an effort to keep kids off the streets, the mayor plans to offer 10,000 new jobs to L.A.'s young people. He publicly targeted 11 of the city's most dangerous gangs and deployed hundreds of new police officers to get the job done.

Villaraigosa says if he can engage the communities in this fight against gang violence, everyone wins.

VILLARAIGOSA: It's an effort to get people involved to care about one another, to say, I'm willing to raise up my hand and roll up my sleeves and make a difference.

LAWRENCE: Chris Lawrence, CNN Los Angeles.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ZAHN: And coming up next, your e-mail to our "Out in the Open" panel. Got some right here. We're just minutes away from "LARRY KING LIVE" as well. Among Larry's guests tonight, a juror from the Scooter Libby trial, and former ambassador Joe Wilson. His wife is the CIA operative whose identity was leaked.

We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ZAHN: Time to bring your e-mails "Out in the Open" tonight.

With me once again, Darrell Ankarlo, Amy Holmes, John Aravosis.

I'm going to start with the first one from Suzanne from Chicago, Illinois.

She writes, "All of this delving into presidential candidates' private lives? Where about where they stand on issues impacting Americans instead of their husbands and wives? For example, from the outside looking in, Bush's private life seems to be intact. Does that make him an excellent decision maker?"

HOLMES: Well, I agree with the first half of that statement. I think a little swipe at George Bush.

But, you know, let's face it, we are absolutely fascinated by political spouses and what it tells us about that person's character, and whether or not that's a fair thing to be doing. I mean, we do it with first ladies and so forth.

ZAHN: It didn't hurt Ronald Reagan did it? Many questions about...

(CROSSTALK)

ARAVOSIS: That was 20 years ago. I mean, I think -- I think we have gotten in to more of a culture where we delve a little more, the sensational is a little more fun. And I don't think it's a good thing because it does get us away from the issues.

ANKARLO: Agree. Giuliani is up by how many points? Thirty right now?

ZAHN: Doubling McCain's numbers right now.

ANKARLO: And everybody wants to talk about the drag show that he did.

ARAVOSIS: I hate that. I hate that.

ANKARLO: Wasn't he cute in that?

(CROSSTALK)

HOLMES: I don't think it has anything to do with his private life. Let's kind of make that clear. ANKARLO: Yes, it was just fun. I agree. It was just fun.

ZAHN: Some of those (ph) need context, though, because one is a roast where the press corps is roasting the mayor.

ANKARLO: Yes. And it's fun.

ZAHN: And traditionally all the politicians do wild and crazy stuff.

ANKARLO: Agree.

ZAHN: Let's move on to Catherine Q. (ph) from San Angelo, Texas. She writes, "Regarding your panel and the discussion of Hillary using her gender as a political advantage, I wonder, would your panel have acted differently if Hillary were a man, saying, I'm a man, I know manly things, and as such, I'm qualified to run a country?"

ANKARLO: Can I answer this one? Paula...

ZAHN: Are you a man?

ANKARLO: Paula, you do a great job for a chick.

ZAHN: Don't call me articulate.

ANKARLO: Think about it for a minute, though. You follow? I mean, that's what's being said here.

ARAVOSIS: Can I answer this one for a minute? If men were denied the vote until the 1920s, if men didn't have property rights until this century -- women couldn't even get property when their husbands died because they were like -- they were chattel. Women were like the cattle the guys owned. That was it.

Then maybe men would have...

ANKARLO: Come on.

ARAVOSIS: But the role of women is totally...

(CROSSTALK)

HOLMES: (INAUDIBLE) not to be defined by your gender.

ARAVOSIS: Oh, come on. It is. I'm sorry.

HOLMES: And to be able to have the same opportunities, and you have the same skill set as men.

ARAVOSIS: It's OK -- it's still OK...

(CROSSTALK)

ANKARLO: I'm Christian, vote for me. I'm gay, vote for me. I'm black, vote for me. I'm man, vote for me. ARAVOSIS: It's OK to say you're a woman.

ZAHN: You're not going to deny the fact that there will be some women in this country that will be so delighted that there will be a legitimate candidate...

ARAVOSIS: It's called the glass ceiling.

ZAHN: ... who happens to be a female running for president and...

(CROSSTALK)

HOLMES: I don't see anything wrong with ethnic or gender pride, but that's not the reason why we choose or don't choose who leads us.

ARAVOSIS: But women don't bring a different -- women cannot bring a different experience to the office. That's what you're saying? There's no difference at all between women and men? A woman can never have a different experience than a man and maybe bring a different...

HOLMES: I think it depends on who the individual is. It's not related to gender.

ARAVOSIS: Well, but then we delve into who Hillary is. But maybe as a woman she does offer different things.

HOLMES: Bill Clinton is a parent, too.

ARAVOSIS: I think she'd be a little different than Dick Cheney. He's the extreme of a man. Maybe...

ANKARLO: Oh, come on. Dick Cheney?

HOLMES: Talk about gender stereotyping.

ARAVOSIS: And I'm a man. It says right there, "I'm a man and I can say these manly things."

There you go.

ANKARLO: Unbelievable. No, again, we've had this debate already. If she's qualified, if she can get the job done, run on what you can do for me, not that you wear a dress or put your hair up in a nice bun, or whatever it is.

Boy, was that sexist, Paula.

ZAHN: Yes. Well, I'm going to let it go because I'm really excited to talk about Kim from Minerva, Ohio -- says, "Do you have any Mega Millions ticket, Paula? Hurry, hurry... send someone out to get you a ticket now! Current jackpot is estimated at $370 million."

ANKARLO: I'm in.

ZAHN: How much time do I have?

ARAVOSIS: There you go.

ZAHN: Well, you know what? We have...

(CROSSTALK)

ZAHN: We have an intern that's been lining up all night to invest for us.

All right.

Darrell Ankarlo, Amy -- you can keep your money.

ANKARLO: Oh, thank you, Paula.

ZAHN: You can give it to the intern. I'm not going to make it to the drawing tonight.

John Aravosis.

Right now I've got to break away to some late-breaking information, new details on that story reported just a few minutes ago, the plane crash in Indonesia.

The Associated Press reports that at least eight people have died after an Indonesian airliner burst into flames at an airport in Yogyakarta. Yogyakarta I guess is what we're supposed to be -- well, actually, it's a different town. I'm sorry our map is a little confusing there.

Indonesian officials say the plane overshot the runway, burst into flames. The AP is also quoting a spokesman from Australian's Foreign Affairs Department as saying a number of Australian government officials and journalists were on board. They were in Indonesia to prepare for the Australian foreign minister's visit to Indonesia next week.

Once again, this crash far south of Jakarta.

We're going to leave it there tonight.

"LARRY KING LIVE" picks up our coverage from here.

Have a good night, everybody.

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