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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES

Massive Manhunt Continues For Three Missing U.S. Soldiers in Iraq; Inside Scientology

Aired May 14, 2007 - 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: Good evening, everyone.
Tonight, thousands of American troops in Iraq searching for three of their American buddies, searching their hearts out because they know all too well what the people who claim to have them can do and have done to captives in the past. We will have the latest on the search.

Also tonight, what made a BBC correspondent go ballistic? That's what Larry was talking about. He was doing a report on Scientology.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN SWEENEY, BBC REPORTER: You were not there! You did not hear or record all of the interview!

TOMMY DAVIS, SPOKESMAN, CHURCH OF SCIENTOLOGY: Brainwashing is a crime.

SWEENEY: Do you understand?

(CROSSTALK)

DAVIS: Brainwashing is a crime against humanity.

SWEENEY: Do you understand?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: He was doing a report on Scientology. He says they were doing a real number on him. We will go in-depth tonight on Scientology, its critics, and how the religion deals with them.

Plus, a 10-month-old baby with a license to own a gun? What were they thinking? We will look at that.

But we begin tonight with the search for three soldiers who vanished during an ambush Saturday south of Baghdad in which four other troops died -- making the search all the more urgent, word the enemy, a ruthless enemy, might have found them first.

More now on the search from CNN's Hugh Riminton.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

HUGH RIMINTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Even as the search continues, a taunting message from the al Qaeda-backed Islamic State of Iraq on an insurgent Web site: "Searching for your soldiers will exhaust you and bring you misery. Your soldiers are in our hands. If you want their safety, do not search for them."

Now in its third day, the search around Mahmoudiyah in an insurgent stronghold south of Baghdad known as the Triangle of Death has brought no apparent breakthrough.

MAJOR GENERAL WILLIAM CALDWELL, U.S. ARMY SPOKESMAN, COALITION FORCES IN IRAQ: At this time, we believe they were abducted by terrorists belonging to al Qaeda or an affiliated group. And this assessment is based on highly credible intelligence information.

RIMINTON: The capture of U.S. personnel touches the most sensitive nerve in the U.S. military: the determination to leave no one behind.

"We know," says the al Qaeda-based group, "you would rather have your entire army die than have one crusader in captivity."

CALDWELL: We are doing everything we can to locate our soldiers, who did nothing but come here to serve our country and to help the Iraqi people.

RIMINTON: It plays here on every American mind.

MAJOR CHIP DANIELS, U.S. ARMY: It's horrible for me to think about what they are going through right now. And I pray that we can figure out where they are at and get them back.

CALDWELL: The three missing men have not been seen since their two-vehicle team was ambushed. Four other U.S. soldiers and an Iraqi were killed at the scene of the predawn attack. Analysts say there is little to no hope of negotiating their release.

PETER NEUMANN, DIRECTOR OF THE CENTER FOR DEFENSE STUDIES, KING'S COLLEGE: Al Qaeda, of all the various insurgent groups in Iraq, they are probably the most fanatical. And it is very unlikely that they can be bought off with money or they can be persuaded to compromise on other terms.

RIMINTON: The U.S. military says it is receiving cooperation from the Iraqi public. Already, tips from ordinary Iraqis have led to operations against what the military calls targets of interest.

Hugh Riminton, CNN, Baghdad.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: CNN terrorism analyst Peter Bergen joins me now to talk about al Qaeda in Iraq and what may happen or may have happened to these soldiers.

Peter, thanks for joining us. Has -- al Qaeda in Iraq, have their tactics changed a lot? I feel like the -- the number of kidnappings seems to have dropped, but maybe that's just that they're getting less coverage or less attention.

PETER BERGEN, CNN TERRORISM ANALYST: I think that's true.

And, as the analyst at the end of the piece pointed out, I mean, I -- if indeed these soldiers are in al Qaeda in Iraq's hands, there isn't really going to be much room for negotiation. They're going to want to make a political statement. They're going want to run this story for as long as it can go.

And, unfortunately, you know, the -- the track record of this group is not one of negotiation. They're not going to be negotiating for money. They're going to be really looking to make political hay out of this, Anderson.

COOPER: We have been hearing reports and stories out of Al Anbar Province and other places that -- that there are Sunni groups turning against al Qaeda in Iraq. At this point, how strong is al Qaeda in Iraq, especially how strong now compared to where they were a year or so ago?

BERGEN: Well, one thing is, they're taking a much lower profile, Anderson.

If you remember, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the leader of al Qaeda in Iraq, was constantly on videotapes. And the leaders of -- the new leaders of al Qaeda in Iraq are keeping a low profile, particularly the foreign ones, because they're trying to put a more Iraqi face on it.

This group the Islamic State of Iraq is really a front name for al Qaeda in Iraq. But they're trying to keep an Iraqi face on it, keep the foreign fighters in the background, as it were, the leaders, who are not actually Iraqi -- Anderson.

COOPER: And, at this point, what do we know about the leadership? I mean, how -- how centrally -- is there a Central Command for al Qaeda in Iraq? And how much links -- how -- links do they have still, or if at all, with al Qaeda central in Pakistan or the border?

BERGEN: Well, the leader of al Qaeda in Iraq, the one that took over for Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, when he was killed in June of 2006, did make a public oath of allegiance to bin Laden, but since then has kept an extremely low profile.

Another leader with -- who goes by alias of al-Baghdadi, indicating that he's from Iraq, has also made statements. But this is a group that is trying to put a little bit of distance from it -- from the foreign fighters, from the non-Iraqis.

According to U.S. officials I have spoken to, al Qaeda in Iraq is now a 90 percent Iraqi organization. So, it's become much more of an indigenous group. The question of to what -- to what extent are the local Sunni tribes rising up against al Qaeda in Iraq, I think, is an interesting one. Anbar Province, where much of this is happening, is one of most difficult places in the world to report. And, so, a lot of the information that's coming out of there is -- it's just very hard to really know what's going on.

U.S. officials are hoping that the Sunni militants will rise up against the al Qaeda in Iraq organization. And there may be evidence that that is happening. But, to me, it seems these reports are quite nebulous and really hard to really discern the truth of them.

COOPER: Is it clear how much good intelligence the U.S. has on al Qaeda in Iraq? And we heard the -- the officer in that piece saying that, you know, they believe they're being held by -- by a terrorist group. And he bases that on intelligence. I mean, do they know?

BERGEN: Well, this Islamic State of Iraq, the al Qaeda front organization that has taken credit for this, has released other statements in the past. And, unfortunately, those statements have proven credible in the past.

So, the fact that they are saying that they have captured these three American servicemen, unfortunately, may well be true.

COOPER: Peter Bergen, appreciate your expertise. Thank you, Peter.

As the missing American soldiers story makes clear, there isn't much good news to report from Iraq. But Marines in one part of the country say they have got some and the numbers to back it up. It's a piece of mainly Sunni territory that, until recently, was a no-go zone for American forces, that is, until al Qaeda got so brutal there, so vicious and so power-hungry, the locals decided they needed new allies, the Marines.

How's it all working out?

That's what CNN's Nic Robertson went to find out.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice- over): Hugs and handshakes as Al Anbar Province's top politician arrives in al-Qaim, a remote down on the Syrian border. U.S. Marines have brought him here to rally local leaders, take advantage of a drop in violence.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My message is to continue to control the situation, the security situation, in their cities.

ROBERTSON: What's happening here could be a model for defeating the insurgency in other provinces of Iraq.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A meeting such as this could probably not have taken place as recently as two months ago. The insurgency in Anbar Province has -- is on the verge of collapse. ROBERTSON: Al Qaeda on the verge of collapse in Al Anbar? A big change from just last year, when al Qaeda-fueled violence made this province one of most dangerous in Iraq, so bad, Governor al-Awani was actually forced to flee.

Al Qaeda fighters tried to assert control, but tribal sheiks, fed up with intimidation and murder, turned on al Qaeda, creating surprising security across most of this province.

LIEUTENANT COLONEL JASON BOHM, U.S. MARINE CORPS: The tribal sheiks have been absolutely critical. That was the turning point in al-Qaim region.

ROBERTSON (on camera): Attacks against the Marines are going down, from about 120 a week last year to about 20 a week now. And the Marines say it's getting much easier to spot the roadside bombs, because the insurgents are rushing. They're not so experienced. They don't have a lot of time to lay them.

(voice-over): By opening schools and health clinics on the visit, Governor al-Awani tries to show remote towns like al-Qaim that central government in Baghdad cares and is spending real money on them. Al-Awani's help is critical to U.S. efforts to stabilize Al Anbar Province, boost the economy, to defeat the insurgents.

BOHM: The more economic growth that we have in the area, the greater stability and the greater security that we experience, because that has taken the people, which is the source of power of the insurgency, away.

ROBERTSON: It won't be easy. By far, the governor's hardest sell, the newly empowered sheiks, who want compensation for war damage. But everyone is talking. That's better than it was a year ago.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ROBERTSON: And, over the past year-and-a-half, since Governor Al-Awani has been governor here, he has survived numerous assassination attempts. His headquarters in Ramadi have come almost under constant gunfire at times. They have attacked some time several times a day. Now, however, in Ramadi, it's very strange over past few weeks, soldiers tell us, even to hear a gunshot fired -- Anderson.

COOPER: So, Nic, was there one particular moment when they turned against the al Qaeda forces, or was it just the combined impact of several events over the course of time?

ROBERTSON: It was events over the course of time, but it was, for some of the tribal sheiks, when they realized that al Qaeda was undermining their power as community leaders.

One of them, a very important sheik close to Ramadi formed what was called here -- a group called the Awakening, which was an umbrella group of tribal sheiks. And, when this particular sheik, Sattar Rishawi, took the lead in the Awakening group, that's when all the other sheiks stepped up as well. They started contributing their tribal members to the police force here.

The -- the Marines tell us that made a very, very significant difference. It put a police force out on the streets. They told their tribal members not to associate with al Qaeda, not to support them, to -- to point them out to the police and to the coalition forces.

They say -- the tribal leaders say it was the -- al Qaeda was trying to foment sectarian violence, that many in their family had been killed by al Qaeda, and that they just didn't want to see al Qaeda dominating here, and see themselves lose power, and, also, Anderson, lose business opportunities here.

COOPER: Nic, I want to bring in terrorism analyst Peter Bergen again, and have both of you talk about this.

There was a major development in Afghanistan that you should know about. A top Taliban -- excuse me -- Taliban commander, a man who bragged about having the blood of Americans on his hands, has been killed.

Peter, what do we know about this guy, Mullah Abdullah -- or Dadullah?

BERGEN: Mullah -- Mullah Dadullah was a senior military commander in the Taliban, a very brutal guy, somebody who was beheading hostages, actually beheaded an Afghan journalist that -- ordered his beheading, somebody that I actually knew, somebody who was a highly effective military commander in the Helmand, in the south of Afghanistan, had lost a leg fighting against the Soviets, had a well- deserved reputation for brutality, somebody certainly that -- probably the most important Taliban commander to be captured or killed since the fall of the Taliban in November of 2001 -- Anderson.

COOPER: Nic Robertson, certainly good news for coalition forces doing battle in Afghanistan. How significant a death is this?

ROBERTSON: Well, it does kill one of the more extreme elements within the Taliban.

When I talked recently to former Taliban leaders, people who were in that same core group as Dadullah, people who were in the core Taliban leadership back in the mid-1990s, they say that, if you -- if you deal with us now, the sort of old leadership, you won't have to be deal -- you won't be dealing with such radicals as -- implying, when I talked to them, as Dadullah, people who were prepared to cut people's heads off, people who had morphed the Taliban into something much more aggressive, much more brutal, much more bloody than they have been in the past.

So, it does, by the words of -- even by the words of some very former -- former and senior Taliban officials, it does seem to take out somebody that is -- was seen, even by them, within their own ranks, as incredibly radical.

That does, perhaps, give a little more opportunity to any talks that might be under way to convince Taliban to get a political agenda, to engage with President Hamid Karzai. All of those things are a distant on the horizon, but they are going on in the background. It may give opportunity for that, Anderson. It's very difficult to say right now, though.

COOPER: Nic Robertson, Peter Bergen, gentlemen, thank you very much.

Presidential politics now, including a big-name boost for Hillary Clinton, a big hint from NBC's "Law & Order," and how New York's current mayor is more popular with presidential voters than the former mayor, who is actually running.

Are you confused yet? Well, don't be. It's all become clear when Tom Foreman dishes out tonight's "Raw Politics" -- Tom.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, politicos call it the endorsement primary, this wild scramble by all sorts of candidates to get other big-name politicians in their corners.

But, whatever you call the game, Senator Hillary Clinton is playing well. She's added the name of the New York governor to her substantial list of supporters. And, on her Web site, in a brand-new five-minute video, the biggest possible name in Democratic politics is now showing -- surprise, surprise -- he's behind her, too.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAM J. CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I hope you will support her campaign. If you do, you will always be proud you did.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FOREMAN: That long shadow of the former president is bad news for Barack Obama, who has a solid list of endorsements, but no one with such marquee value.

NBC is taking Fred Thompson's name off of the "Law & Order" marquee, saying today, it's highly unlikely he will be on the show next season. That is intensifying speculation that he will get into the Republican presidential race.

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg is not in the race, but voters are giving him the nod anyway. In a "New York Daily News" poll, 56 percent say Bloomberg is a better mayor than Rudy Giuliani was. And who would make a better president? Forty-six percent say Bloomberg. Twenty-nine percent say Giuliani.

But Giuliani has something else nipping at his heels.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We don't understand this thing, no more ferrets.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FOREMAN: When he was mayor eight years ago, the city's Department of Health banned ferrets. And his honor famously supported the measure, even going after a ferret fan on his radio show.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

RUDOLPH GIULIANI (R), MAYOR OF NEW YORK: David...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Rudy.

(CROSSTALK)

GIULIANI: The excessive concern that you have for ferrets is something you should examine with a therapist.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

FOREMAN: Now, a group called -- no kidding -- Ferrets For Freedom is roughing him up on YouTube.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Two months before 9/11, he was on "People" magazine as the world's most hated mayor.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GIULIANI: Get used to it, Rudy. You can't be in "Raw Politics" unless you can handle the weasels -- Anderson.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(LAUGHTER)

COOPER: Man, the weasels are fighting back.

Up next on 360: our in-depth look at Scientology.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER (voice-over): He started out investigating Scientologists. He says the Scientologists ended up investigating him.

TOMMY DAVIS, SPOKESMAN, CHURCH OF SCIENTOLOGY: I would just like to -- and -- and I hope somebody is shooting this. OK. Good.

JOHN SWEENEY, BBC REPORTER: Rather, there's actually -- to be fair, there's...

TOMMY DAVIS: There's...

(CROSSTALK) SWEENEY: ... there's one camera from the BBC and one camera from your...

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: What this reporter says he found out about how Scientology operates and how it really got under his skin.

SWEENEY: You were not there at the beginning of that interview! You were not there!

COOPER: Ahead on 360.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DAVIS: For you to repeatedly refer to my faith in those terms is so derogatory, so offensive and so bigoted. And the reason you keep repeating it is because you wanted to get a reaction like you're getting right now. Well, buddy, you got it, right here, right now. I'm angry, real angry.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: That was Scientology spokesman Tommy Davis during an interview with John Sweeney.

Davis may have been angry, but the real fireworks, a full-fledged meltdown, actually came later in the interview. And it was the reporter, not the Scientologist, who blew a fuse. Now he's become a big part of the story, something reporters are never supposed to do.

Here's how it all began with CNN's Randi Kaye.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOHN SWEENEY, BBC REPORTER: Don't (INAUDIBLE)

TOMMY DAVIS, SPOKESMAN, CHURCH OF SCIENTOLOGY: No, I'm not stopping here.

(CROSSTALK)

DAVIS: You listen to me for a second.

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): What you're about to see is a reporter crack. John Sweeney had been investigating the Church of Scientology for the BBC. He says he was chased by sinister strangers and spied on at his own wedding.

Just before he lost it, Sweeney attended an Industry of Death exhibition. Members of the church showed disturbing video and blamed the Holocaust on psychiatry. SWEENEY: No, Tommy, you...

DAVIS: Brainwashing is a crime!

SWEENEY: No. Listen to me! You were not there at the beginning of that interview!

DAVIS: Brainwashing is a crime! It's a crime!

KAYE: Sweeney's documentary "Scientology and Me" included the clips of his shouting match with Scientologist Tom Davis.

SWEENEY: Do you understand?

DAVIS: Brainwashing is a crime against humanity.

SWEENEY: Do you understand?

KAYE: Clips of Sweeney's meltdown were posted on YouTube. Sweeney did not want to be interviewed tonight, but released a statement on the BBC's Web site: "Scientology has prepared an attack video. Scientologists are expected to release 100,000 copies of it. Why?"

BRUCE HINES, FORMER SCIENTOLOGIST: To try to get him to back off and possibly to get the BBC to back off. And, secondly, it's just to discredit the individual John Sweeney. He's the one doing this documentary on Scientology. And, if they can show that he is not credible, they will do that.

KAYE: Former Scientologist Bruce Hines, who left the church after 30 years, says it's common practice for Scientologists to keep their on cameras rolling on reporters.

MIKE RINDER, DIRECTOR, CHURCH OF SCIENTOLOGY INTERNATIONAL: John Sweeney would have denied that anything that he had done happened. That would have all ended up on the cutting room floor. Nobody would have ever seen it.

DAVIS: I would just like to -- and -- and I hope somebody is shooting this. OK. Good.

SWEENEY: Rather, there's actually -- to be fair, there's...

DAVIS: There's...

(CROSSTALK)

SWEENEY: ... there's one camera from the BBC and one camera from your...

(CROSSTALK)

DAVIS: No, you listen to me for a second. You have...

SWEENEY: Some people say it's a cult. DAVIS: ... no right whatsoever to say what and what isn't a religion. The Constitution of the United States of America guarantees one's right to practice and believe freely in this country. And the definition of religion is very clear. And it's not defined by John Sweeney.

KAYE: Here, Sweeney had just suggested to Davis, critics believe Scientology is a cult.

SWEENEY: Now, my friend, it is your turn to listen to...

(CROSSTALK)

DAVIS: Goodbye.

SWEENEY: No. It is your turn to listen to me.

I'm a British subject, not an American citizen. And, in my country, we have a freedom of speech.

KAYE (on camera): In his documentary, Sweeney apologizes for losing control. He says he was wrong, that he let him team down, lost his voice, but not his mind.

In a separate video being shown on YouTube, he apologized to Tom Davis and the Church of Scientology.

SWEENEY: You were interrupting me or preventing me from saying my points.

(CROSSTALK)

DAVIS: You interrupted me first. But that's immaterial.

SWEENEY: And I wanted to demonstrate to you that, actually, my voice is louder than yours. But I did it in a way which I -- I regret. And I apologize to the Church of Scientology.

(CROSSTALK)

KAYE (voice-over): None of this surprises former Scientologist Bruce Hines, who says specific steps are taken to respond to reporters.

HINES: These give quite a lot of information about what to do about what they call black propaganda. And black propaganda, in their view, is any sort of negative -- negative publicity.

KAYE: Negative publicity is nothing new for the Church of Scientology. But, this time, it may have successfully turned the tables, exposing a journalist, a critic, at his worst, faster than he could apologize.

Randi Kaye, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Well, the BBC reporter, John Sweeney, says the church is doing what it always does, playing hardball with journalists who try to investigate the organization.

Mike Rinder is director of the Church of Scientology International. He sees it differently.

In a CNN exclusive interview, I talked with him earlier.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Mike, I want to play a clip from this documentary, the reporter John Sweeney clearly losing his cool while talking with a Scientologist official. Let's take a look at that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DAVIS: No, I'm not stopping here.

SWEENEY: No. No.

DAVIS: You listen to me for a second. You're accusing my members of my religion of engaging in brainwashing.

SWEENEY: No, Tommy, you...

(CROSSTALK)

DAVIS: Brainwashing is a crime!

SWEENEY: No. Listen to me!

DAVIS: Brainwashing is a crime! It's a crime!

SWEENEY: You were not there at the beginning of that interview!

DAVIS: Brainwashing is a crime.

SWEENEY: You were not there!

DAVIS: Brainwashing is a crime.

SWEENEY: You did not hear or record all of the interview! Do you understand?

(CROSSTALK)

DAVIS: Brainwashing is a crime against humanity.

SWEENEY: Do you understand? You are quoting the second half of the interview, not the first half!

DAVIS: You are accusing my organization of engaging in a crime.

(CROSSTALK)

SWEENEY: You cannot assert what you're saying. Now, you listen to me.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: He's apologized. He said, clearly, that was not his finest moment. The clip was released on YouTube. Some say that the church was behind the release of it to try to discredit this reporter in advance of his critical report on Scientology.

To your knowledge, did the church release it?

RINDER: No, Anderson. I mean, I'm not sure how that got on to YouTube. There were copies of that clip that were around.

I had sent various copies to the BBC, in fact, when I came over here to see them about the -- the behavior of John Sweeney in putting together this program. So, I'm not really sure how it ended up...

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: You distributed 100,000 DVDs containing that clip, though. Why did you do that?

RINDER: We did it because we documented what happened in the whole series of events that had led up to John Sweeney doing this program.

When he first contacted us, Anderson, he asked us and said he would like to do an update program on Scientology, a 20-year update. In fact, Panorama had done a program 20 years ago that was based on a lawsuit at that time that was thrown out, with a judge who said that it was the most egregious violation of court orders he had ever seen. And that program got things totally wrong.

Panorama came back and said, we would like to do another program.

We said, sure.

We -- look, we understand that there's a lot of people that don't understand what Scientology is, and have misunderstandings. And we recognize we have a responsibility to make the information available. So, we told him, look, we will open our doors to you. You can have very, very broad access.

You can see anything you want. We will take you around to all our buildings. We will give you broad access. He refused that access. In fact, he went to Clearwater, where our spiritual headquarter is. And we have a huge facility there. And he didn't set foot inside the church, even though we were there to offer to take him in and open the doors for him and introduce him to people, et cetera.

At that point, we realized that we had a reporter on our hands who was not interested in really telling the story about what Scientology is, but he had a preconceived idea. He wanted to do a story that Scientology has closed doors. That wasn't the case at all.

We were there, waiting to let him in, waiting to make everything available to him. And he absolutely refused.

(CROSSTALK)

RINDER: So, at that point, we decided we will document what happens.

And we have now produced a DVD, which we are distributing, which shows what goes on behind the scenes in a program that's put together by someone like John Sweeney.

COOPER: What did end up in this program, though, is that this reporter clearly shows multiple people following him in cars and on foot.

He says those are members of the Church of Scientology or people affiliated with the church. It does seem kind of ominous and creepy.

Do you have people who follow reporters? I mean, were those people in -- in the documentary in the cars -- and there was a gentleman who repeatedly showed up every day while he was eating breakfast and at his hotel. Were they people following him?

RINDER: No, they weren't, Anderson. I mean, he's got a shot in that program that aired tonight...

COOPER: So, you don't have people following anybody?

RINDER: No, we don't.

COOPER: If a reporter is doing a story on you -- you -- you didn't send anybody out to follow this man?

RINDER: No. No, we did not, Anderson.

In fact, it was very -- we were very up front with him. We said, we're going to have our cameras here. We're going to take footage of you putting together this program.

COOPER: Who were...

RINDER: That was it.

COOPER: Who do you think those people were, though, who were following him? I mean, clearly, it seemed like -- I mean, if he's telling the truth, people were following him.

RINDER: I don't think he was telling the truth, Anderson.

I think that that was someone who was in a car in Los Angeles. I'm surprised that he and a cameraman could get out and pull up to a car in a stop sign or a stoplight in Los Angeles, and try and shoot inside a car.

He's lucky -- if he was -- it was in some areas of Los Angeles, he's lucky that he got away with his life.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Well, coming up: another view from a former Scientologist who left the church after more than 20 years. Also, we will go in search of a sacred vault from the air -- when 360 continues.

And we will have more of our interview with Mr. Rinder.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It wasn't me. You were not there at the beginning of the interview! You were not there.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Brain (ph), what's a crime?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: We pick up now where we left off before the break, the latest controversy to hit the Church of Scientology. A BBC reporter -- you just saw him there -- losing his cool during an interview while the church's cameras were rolling.

The tape showing his melt-down ended up on YouTube. And now the reporter's accusing Scientology of playing hardball to try to discredit him to his investigation of the church will come under suspicion. The BBC reporter says he was followed as part of a church campaign against him.

That's where we pick up my interview with Mike Rinder, director of the Church of Scientology International.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: It is well known, though, that certainly, in the journalism community, that if you do a story on the Church of Scientology, you are going to be hearing from attorneys, that you -- the church has a reputation of being very aggressive in going after or in protecting their public relations. Is that fair? Is that true?

RINDER: I don't think that's a fair statement, Anderson. I think that what happens is that there are stories that get circulated or that there are people who are the bad eggs in the -- bad egg reporters like John Sweeney, and that, then, becomes blown up.

Certainly, when someone shows up and he refuses access, and he is abusive and offensive to the people that he interviews, we're not just going to stand around and take it.

We, that's why we took the footage of him, so that we would have it documented, because I know what would have happened, Anderson. If we had not taken that footage, John Sweeney would have denied that anything that he had done happened. That would have all ended up on the cutting room floor. Nobody would have ever seen it. COOPER: "The L.A. Times" cites the church's founder, L. Ron Hubbard's, "Manual of Justice", as saying, and I quote, "The purpose of the lawsuit is to harass and discourage rather than to win. If attacked on some vulnerable point by anyone or anything or any organization, always find or manufacture enough threat against them to cause them to sue for peace. Don't ever defend. Always attack."

A, is that an accurate quote? And if so, it does seem to imply a certain aggression and -- or willingness to litigate.

RINDER: Well, first of all, that is an accurate quote. It is taken out of context. It is not saying anything about you must litigate. It's talking about the subject of litigation as a subject.

But we're not suing the media. We're not -- we're not sitting here saying that we're going to be suing or doing anything of the sort. We documented what happened, so people can see for themselves and make up their own mind. That's the purpose of doing that video.

COOPER: According to a 1991 "TIME" magazine article, quote -- and I'm quoting from the article, "Eleven top scientologists including Hubbard's wife, were sent to prison in the early 1980s for infiltrating, burglarizing, wiretapping more than 100 private and government agencies in attempts to block their investigations."

A, is that true? And, B -- well, is that true? Because I mean, the critics of your organization say that you guys have a history of this, that whether this John Sweeney was a bad reporter or not, this is part of a pattern, that "TIME" magazine article certainly intimating that.

RINDER: Anderson, the history of the church is a long history of the church. And certainly, there are things that have happened. Those people that were involved in those activities back then, they were thrown out by the church. They were dismissed from the church. That's ancient history.

COOPER: That "TIME" magazine article, in 1991, which was a cover story, the writer of that article says, even in the course of his writing and his assignment, that he was -- he said illegally investigated by affiliates of the Church of Scientology. He was contacted numerous times by attorneys.

And, in fact, "TIME" magazine, Time Warner, the parent company, which also owns CNN, was sued. And the case was finally thrown out at multiple levels. I think it went up until 1997 or 1998.

So I just want to again ask you, isn't the church very aggressive in litigating, still, to this day?

RINDER: No, that's absolutely not the case, Anderson. You're talking about something in 1991. We're in 2007.

COOPER: But the lawsuit went up, I think, until 1998.

RINDER: That was the appeals. COOPER: All of which were thrown out.

RINDER: That's the appeals, Anderson. Yes. Ultimately -- ultimately, that's correct. But you're talking about something in 1991. We're in 2007. We are seeking to move forward.

COOPER: Mike, we appreciate your perspective and appreciate you coming on the program again. Thank you very much.

RINDER: OK, Anderson, thank you.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Coming up a former scientologist insider speaks out. We'll hear from him shortly.

Plus, a look at a scientology center that some says aerial markings for future alien contact. A mystery about what it really means. We'll try to find out.

Also tonight, a toddler, a gun and a gun license? How did that happen? What were they thinking, when 360 continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Tomorrow on 360, we're going to take you inside Africa. It's a continent often ignored and misunderstood, a place of hardship and hope. I sat down with CNN's Jeff Koinange, who covers Africa for us. It's an in-depth look at a continent we cover too infrequently.

This is information we think the world needs to know. Here's part of our talk.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Even in South Africa, a very well-developed country, many government officials there claim HIV does not result in AIDS, that these deaths are not being caused by HIV infection.

JEFF KOINANGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And what it does, especially in the less educated areas of South Africa, what it does is people think, "Wow, the officials say we can't get AIDS. Or AIDS -- HIV doesn't cause AIDS." So they go about doing what it is they do, and the numbers blow up.

So, it starts at the top. If the top cannot address this issue or acknowledge, then it all filters down. And that's why you have that situation in South Africa, one of the highest rates of HIV/AIDS on the continent.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: We'll have more from CNN's Jeff Koinange tomorrow night. Don't miss "Africa: Dispatches from the Edge", a 360 special.

We're looking at scientology tonight. It isn't the first time the controversial church has been in the news on or on our broadcast.

In the fall of 2005, two gigantic circles etched into the desert in New Mexico made headlines. The markings looked like crop circles and led straight to the Church of Scientology.

CNN's Gary Tuchman investigated, but the church in this story didn't cooperate.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The land is rugged on the south end of the Rocky Mountain range. A panoramic view of northeastern New Mexico under clear skies, which makes it easier to see an unusual sight.

(on camera) This is it.

(voice-over) Two huge interlocking circles, markings on the desert soil that cannot be seen from the ground but can be seen from the heavens.

MICHAEL PATTINSON, FORMER SCIENTOLOGY MEMBER: I think they're not designed to be seen by human beings but by alien beings.

TUCHMAN: Michael Pattinson says he was a member of the Church of Scientology for 23 years. Now he's a disgruntled ex-member who says the circles are sign posts for reincarnated scientologists who come from outer space.

PATTINSON: They are markings to show the location of one of the vaults which scientology has prepared to safeguard the technology of L. Ron Hubbard.

TUCHMAN: Hubbard, who died in 1986, was a science fiction writer who started the Church of Scientology.

And indeed, next to the circles on the private runway is a building with a vault built into the mountain. Current scientologists do say archives are held in the vaults, just as other religions safeguard their sacred texts. They say the vault is overseen by a scientology corporation called the Church of Spiritual Technology.

(on camera) Church of Scientology officials denied CNN's request for a tour of the compound. They say the markings are simply a logo for the Church of Spiritual Technology and that this is a non-story.

But from what we've experienced, church officials are extremely sensitive about this non-story.

(voice-over) A pilot we hired to fly us over the compound backed out, saying he got a call from scientologists asking him not to go with us. Other pilots would not fly us, because they didn't want to make the scientologists angry. But we did finally get a pilot.

(on camera) What do the circles look like to you from here?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They look like a branding symbol a rancher might have put out there.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): The closest town to the desert etchings is Las Vegas, New Mexico. The county sheriff there is one of few non- scientologists who have visited the compound. Chris Najar did so just last month for the first time.

SHERIFF CHRIS NAJAR, SAN MIGUEL COUNTY, NEW MEXICO: Every time an incident happened, for instance, Waco, or the World Trade Center incident, every time something like this happens, there seems to be rumblings that it's a training ground for militia or a terrorist training ground, that kind of thing. So they have been inviting me out there so we can go out and try to dispel those rumors.

TUCHMAN (on camera): Have you dispelled those rumors?

NAJAR: Well, we went out there. I didn't see anything of the sort.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): The sheriff says the scientologists told him this is where L. Ron Hubbard writings, saved on titanium plates, will be preserved for thousands of years. He says many people were there, lots of farm animals and a large cache of food supplies.

(on camera) Did it strike you as a place for survivalists?

NAJAR: Quite possibly. I definitely want to go there if it hits the fan.

TUCHMAN: If it hits the fan.

(voice-over) the sheriff says the notion of spacecraft returning was not discussed with him, but former members say that's part of scientology teachings.

PATTINSON: I know it sounds very, very bizarre, but this is where reality is stranger than fiction.

TUCHMAN: So are the circles a landing pad for extraterrestrial vehicles? The church is not commenting to us.

Gary Tuchman, CNN, Las Vegas, New Mexico.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Well, up next, you heard from a scientologist spokesman. We'll hear from another former scientologist, who was a member for 30 years. What does he think of the new video of the BBC reporter yelling at a Church of Scientology representative? And about the church's methods in dealing with critics.

Plus, tonight, a bizarre story. A gun-toting 10-month-old, not exactly. He's been issued a permit. What were they thinking, when 360 continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, I'm not stopping here. You listen to me for a second. You're accusing members of my religion of engaging in brainwashing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, shut up. No, listen to me!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: John Sweeney, reporter with the BBC, on the right, losing his cool with a scientology official.

The church is back in the news because of, well, really, this video showing a BBC reporter fighting with a scientologist, or arguing. The reporter, who was making a documentary about scientology, says the church is playing hardball.

Church officials say they are not.

Bruce Hines was a scientologist for more than 30 years. He reached the church's upper level before leaving. He joins me now.

Bruce, first of all, we just had on Mike Rinder, a spokesman for Scientology International, who said that the church is trying to become more open, trying to give more access to reporters, that maybe there was secrecy in the past, but increasingly, they're being open and honest. Do you think that's true?

BRUCE HINES, FORMER SCIENTOLOGIST: That may be. They still are going to try to control any negative publicity that they -- that some reporter might do. But it could be that they're trying to show certain aspects of the church.

COOPER: There are some who accuse the church of trying to intimidate and discredit people, in particular, reporters, famously this "TIME" magazine reporter back in 1991 said that, after he wrote an article, a cover story, there was various investigations done on him.

Sweeney say his was followed. The Church of Scientology says, pointblank, they didn't follow John Sweeney. Do you believe they follow people?

HINES: I definitely think they do. And with due respect to Mr. Rinder, I don't think he was being truthful about that. I know they do hire private investigators, and I know that they do follow people.

COOPER: You say you know that. How?

HINES: When I worked in the church, I had dealings with certain people within the Office of Special Affairs, and Mike Rinder was the head of that. I assume he still is. And they have a legal branch. They have a public relations branch, and they have an intelligence branch. And that's part of the activities that they would do.

COOPER: I mean, not many churches have intelligence branches. I can understand a legal branch, certainly. Why -- what did the intelligence branch do and why would they follow somebody?

HINES: It's all part of the long standing policy that anyone who is critical or attacks the Church of Scientology, they should be attacked back. And that is very clearly, you can read policies from the 1970s, from the 1960s. Anyone who is critical, they have to be discredited or stopped in some way.

COOPER: Why is there secrecy? I mean, I understand you know they have this mythology, I guess, the creation myth, which all religions have. And I guess it involves space aliens or Zenu, and I don't want to -- I don't really know, so I don't want to denigrate it by sort of inaccurately describing it.

But I can understand them wanting to keep that secret because some religions do that. But why is there this secrecy surrounding so much of scientology?

HINES: Well, on the one hand you say there are these upper level scriptures they want to keep secret.

But on the other hand, they do have a covert operations department, and this, the purpose of that is to get information and to plan activities against people who they perceive as enemies.

They feel that their religion, their practice, is the only thing that's going to save the world. And this is laid out in policy by L. Ron Hubbard, and the people like Mike Rinder and Tommy Davis, they feel they're doing the right thing by following these policies.

So anyone they see who could be -- they perceive that could stop their mission, they have to be gotten out of the way, intimidated, anything. There's one policy from about, I think it was the late '50s, I'm not sure, but it's -- referring to a critic or an attacker, Mr. Hubbard said, "If possible, ruin him utterly." And the "ruin him utterly" are Mr. Hubbard's words.

COOPER: You think that is still very much a practice or a belief in the organization?

HINES: Yes, I do, because...

COOPER: You...

HINES: Go ahead.

COOPER: Sorry. You were one of the top managers in the C organization, which I guess would be the upper reaches of scientology. Allegedly, you trained some celebrities like Kirstie Alley, Nicole Kidman.

What is the appeal of Scientology? What was the appeal to you when you were in it? I mean, what good did it do in your life? Because clearly, you stayed in it an awfully long time. It must have had positive benefits for you. And then why did you decide to leave?

HINES: Well, it's interesting. I've asked myself that question many times. When you first encounter scientology, you're presented with certain things. And there are some simple courses. And they make sense. For the most part.

And then, I found myself sort of getting more and more involved and, for some inexplicable reason, and I now consider it some form of mind control, I just took on their mind-set.

And I -- five years ago, I would have -- if I'd seen John Sweeney, I would have thought, you know, this man just is doing some horrible thing, and he has to be gotten out of the way. Now, I think he has every right to report on, you know, as he sees it. He's a journalist.

I left because originally I disagreed with some of the changes that had taken place. These were of a technical nature.

After I left -- because the whole time I was in, I was totally sheltered from the Internet, from television. I didn't get any of the stories, the sort of the negative stories about scientology. And so I've learned more and more as time has bond gone on. And it's been a process for me of kind of unraveling this sort of stuck thinking that I had.

COOPER: Bruce, it's an interesting thing. And I'd like to talk to you more about it at another time. Appreciate you being on the program. Bruce Hines, thank you very much.

HINES: My pleasure. Thank you.

COOPER: Next on 360 a 10-month-old baby with a permit to own a gun? What were they thinking?

Plus, a video is shocking. A 91-year-old man attacked during a carjacking. The people around him appearing to do nothing. What would you do, when 360 continues?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Erica Hill from Headline News joins us with the "360 Bulletin" -- Erica.

ERICA HILL, HEADLINE NEWS ANCHOR: Anderson, a seven-day cruise comes to a very rocky end.

The Empress of the North ran aground off Alaska early this morning, hitting some rocks. The ship was taking on water. All 206 passengers, though, were evacuated and rescued by dozens of boats which responded to the emergency.

The crew got the ship to Juneau, where federal investigators will now look it over.

In Florida, scores of massive wildfires continue to rage out of control. More than 200,000 acres have been destroyed. Fire crews are struggling to prevent those flames from spreading to populated areas. Meantime, in Georgia what is being called the Bugaboo Fire has now burned more than 130,000 acres. It is one of more than 40 active wildfires in that state.

And this coming to us from Illinois kind of makes you go, "What were they thinking?"

A 10-month-old has a gun. Well, at leaf the permit to carry one. Here's what happened. His dad, registered the little guy for a firearm I.D. after his grandfather bought him a gun so he would have an heirloom.

Now, Grandpa is holding onto it until his grandson is old enough to use it. But Dad thought, "Hey, let me get the permit out of the way," and he actually got it. The card shows his weight, 20 pounds, his height, 2 feet three inches tall. And it is all legal, Anderson, for the low, low price of $5.

Ten months old.

COOPER: I love that. That's his signature, that zigzag line.

HILL: It is. And the dad said he actually put the pen in his son's hand just to see what he would do, and so that worked as the signature. Crazy.

COOPER: What were they thinking? Erica...

HILL: What were they thinking?

COOPER: Still ahead on 360, the massive search for three American soldiers who vanished during an ambush in Iraq. Where are they?

Plus, fighting terror thousands of miles above ground. A behind the scenes look at how air marshals are trained.

And a disturbing video of a violent attack against a 91-year-old man. Why didn't anyone stop and help? When 360 continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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