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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Osama bin Laden to Issue New Videotape; Department of Homeland Security Receives Failing Marks; New Developments in Madeleine McCann Case?
Aired September 6, 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: A lot of new developments tonight, and one piece of breaking news that remind us all a mass murderer is still on the loose.
Osama bin Laden, we are told, within hours or maybe even minutes, a new message from the al Qaeda killer may be released. We know they are media savvy and can't let a major anniversary like 9/11 pass unremarked upon, but what specifically might bin Laden be trying to achieve with this tape? We will investigate.
Also tonight, how prepared are we for another attack? Billions have been spent, but a new report delivers a disturbing bottom line. We're "Keeping Them Honest."
And word of a possible break in the case of a little girl lost. We're going to show you who police are now talking to and why that could be both significant and possibly tragic.
We begin, however, with Osama bin Laden. The guy hasn't been heard from in a year, hasn't been seen on tape in three. Just as a new survey reveals that a majority of Americans for the very first time say they believe bin Laden may never be caught, al Qaeda's production company -- and, yes, they do have a production company -- posted the following banner ad.
It reads, "Soon, God willing, a video message by the lion, Sheik Osama bin Laden, may God protect him."
It's not clear exactly who's protecting bin Laden, but if the tape is really new, it means, at the very least, he is alive and seemingly well.
Ben Venzke's organization was out front on this story tonight. He is the CEO of IntelCenter, an intelligence and threat-assessment consulting group. Also with us, terrorism analyst Paul Cruickshank of New York University Center on Law and Security.
Ben, do you think this is an operational message or -- or merely bin Laden trying to let the world know that he's still in the game?
BEN VENZKE, FOUNDER & CEO, INTELCENTER: I think -- well, you know, we won't know for sure until we actually hear what he's saying.
But I have a feeling that this is going to be an address to Americans, and will most likely typically speak to how Americans are responsible for the country's policies and other things, and may contain some kind of threat statement. That's typically what we have seen in the past from him when he addresses Americans.
COOPER: Ben -- well, Paul, there's -- there's been this uptick in messages from al Qaeda, really, over the last year. We have heard from Zawahri. We have heard from the American, Adam Gadahn, and now this -- this purported tape.
What does that tell us about the capabilities of al Qaeda? They seem to be putting out more tapes than the "Girls Gone Wild" series.
PAUL CRUICKSHANK, FELLOW, CENTER ON LAW AND SECURITY: Well, certainly, Ayman al-Zawahri, al Qaeda's number two, is in danger of overexposure. He's putting out a lot of tapes.
But what these leaders are trying to do is to exert strategic direction over the international jihad. And this international jihad right now has a lot of legs because of the Iraq war. That's already energized the jihadists around the world.
And bin Laden, I think, soon is going to try and say, I'm still the leader here. Here's the direction we need to go.
I think he's likely to get -- engage in the Iraq debate. He's likely to say that al Qaeda in Iraq are defeating United States -- United States troops over there.
COOPER: Ben, is it reality that they are in charge of -- of al Qaeda, you know, the -- the -- the multiheaded Hydra that it has become, or is this sort of an attempt to -- to at least play as if they are?
You know, there's always a lot of discussion about this. We hear that, you know, there is no more al Qaeda. It's just an ideology. We hear that it is all al Qaeda. The fact of the matter is, from what we're able to see about their operations, is that it is many things at the same time.
There is a core al Qaeda that they most definitely remain in control of. There are affiliate groups that they have varying levels of control or influence over. And then there are those that are sort of spurned by the ideology, but don't have actually any connection to the core organization. All of those things, we're seeing going on simultaneously now.
COOPER: On this -- this banner ad that was posted by the production company, Paul, there was a picture of bin Laden. For a while, people today were saying, oh, this is a new picture of him. You know, his beard is darker.
We have been looking at it, some of our CNN experts, who actually say it's actually an old picture that just seems to have been Photoshopped. CRUICKSHANK: Well, that's exactly right. I mean, Al-Sahab is a very slick outfit, but it -- but, as you say, it's as good at Photoshopping things as the rest of us. So...
COOPER: And we're showing on the screen now, this is the -- from -- from 2007, this is the -- the picture that was just released on the banner ad today. We think this is the original picture, actually, from 2004. So, a lot of the earlier news reports today saying, oh, look, this is a new look at bin Laden.
CRUICKSHANK: Probably not. But, you know, the last videotape he did in October 2004, just before the U.S. presidential election, he was looking in good form. I don't think there's any reason to suspect that he's ill or he's in bad shape right now. The evidence suggests that he's in -- in rather good shape.
And, Ben, what is -- what do you think the reality of -- again, this, I guess, is speculation. But, for a guy who -- and, allegedly, all these people are fugitives. They're on the run. They -- they seem, certainly, very comfortable. I mean, is it -- is it a risk for bin Laden to put out a tape like this or for Zawahri or for this guy Adam Gadahn?
VENZKE: Well, I mean, the thing that we have to remember, especially when you talk about bin Laden and Zawahri, you know, long before 9/11, these people had been, you know -- quote, unquote -- "on the run." There had been various intelligence agencies after them and stuff like that.
So, it's sort of ingrained in -- in the DNA of -- of their organization as how to deal with that. All that being said, even with their good operational security measures, there is a risk every time they do one of these videos. And I think what that speaks to is how important they feel it is for their organization to be out in the public on these kinds of things.
COOPER: We're going to talk to you guys in just a moment, again, on this next story.
There were new developments as well today in a plot to kill Americans in Germany. Right now it's early morning in Germany, but a manhunt is under way for 10 more people, in addition to the three who are already in custody. We also got word today that the three had begun mixing the explosives when they were caught, and, according to police, had several sophisticated and tough-to-get detonators.
Paula Newton is one of the -- is at one of the alleged targets, Ramstein Air Base, not far from Germany. She joins us now, very close to Frankfurt.
Paula, what do we know about the search for these 10 people that's under way? PAULA NEWTON, CNN INTERNATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, right now, what authorities are trying to do is trying to really pull apart this investigation. The surveillance job is over. They're looking at all the evidence they have, trying to find out who were the co-conspirators.
Anderson, that's why we have come here, actually, to southern Germany right now, Ulm, Germany. It's really been a hub of radicalism right here. And one of the suspects, Fritz G., lived here.
What is so certainly alarming for that profile, Anderson, is the fact that he was a German-born and very devout convert to Islam. They want to know certainly his movements. They have known for the last nine months. They have been tracking him and know what he's been doing. It's very important that they understand exactly who he was in contact with, in terms of Pakistan, and in terms of, what was his motivation? What so nurtured this hatred of Americans?
COOPER: Paula, how concerned is the German government about, you know, homegrown extremist groups?
CRUICKSHANK: Well, the German interior minister today...
NEWTON: Very concerned.
COOPER: I'm sorry.
Go ahead, Paula.
We will get to Paul in a second.
NEWTON: What really concerns the authorities here, in fact, Anderson, is the fact that they don't know much about their motivation.
Many people suspect that what they want to do is really prove their fundamental credentials, and that they really are quite devout in trying to carry out that attack. That is a profile that they are trying to get together. Certainly, the interior minister here is quoted as saying that he sees the conversion of Muslims, German-born Muslims, as a big threat to the country right now. That is a controversial statement, Anderson, and one that towns like this are just beginning to grapple with.
COOPER: All right, Paula Newton, appreciate that.
Let's bring Paul back in, and Ben.
Paul, as you were saying, I mean, it's interesting. It's often the -- the converts, the recent converts, to a religious group who are the most zealous, the most -- become the most extreme.
CRUICKSHANK: That's exactly right. You know, they're not inoculated from this violent form of Islam, because they didn't go to Islamic Sunday school when they were young. So, they're much more vulnerable to these radical preachers. So, you have had a number of converts who have gone into the sort of al Qaeda fold. We can think of Richard Reid, the shoe bomber, Adam Gadahn. Others have gone into this fold. It seems that they're particularly vulnerable to this sort of recruitment.
COOPER: Ben, you watch this operation, which is really still going in Germany, still under way, as they're looking for these 10 other people, what -- what are the lessons that you take away?
VENZKE: Well, in -- in the area that -- that I can talk about, I mean, one of the things that we have to be aware of is, in countries where we haven't historically had a lot of activity, in terms of planning attacks, where there might have been groups there for fund- raising and other things, we're now seeing them actually take on the air of groups that are plotting and moving towards the execution of operations.
I mean, this is only one of a number of ones that we have seen in Germany going on now that have gotten fairly close to being executed. So, areas where we might have thought that we were safe, we now have to be very concerned about future operations.
COOPER: Paul, in terms of potential for damage, at this point, do we know enough about this alleged plot in Germany? In terms of its lethality, how does it compare to, say, the London bombings? I mean, we talked about hydrogen peroxide, which was the key ingredient in the London bombings, also used in this, although I read today the percentage of hydrogen peroxide, I think, was only like 35 percent.
CRUICKSHANK: They used exactly the same material as the London bombings.
Now, this material is so unstable, you can't make very large bombs with them. So, the idea is, they might have used them in smaller quantities, which have been quite effective in confined spaces. Certainly, in -- in Frankfurt Airport, you could have had a lot of blood shed, equally in these -- the bars and nightclubs that you talk about.
But, in terms of targeting a U.S. Air Force base, these are incredibly hard targets to go after. And I don't think al Qaeda could have really damaged this Ramstein Air Force Base.
COOPER: Ben, how big a threat do you think these 10 suspects that are still out there are?
VENZKE: Well, the thing that you're always concerned about when -- when you roll up a portion of a cell or -- or part of an operation, and you either know there's other people or people you don't know about, is that, much like we saw in the recent attempted attack in London, is that they might feel that they're going to be captured soon. And, if they have any kind of capability to do something, and they want to become a martyr, you're always concerned that they might try to do something sort of on the fly.
You also have to be concerned about them disappearing and coming back at a later time, before you're able to trace back through all their ties and connections, phone numbers and whatnot.
COOPER: Paul, why do you think we haven't seen these kind of operations in the United States, I mean, suicide bombings, things like that?
CRUICKSHANK: Well, in a way, the answer is quite simple. The American-Muslim community is the model Muslim community.
COOPER: The -- the best integrated, the most assimilated?
CRUICKSHANK: In the world.
COOPER: In the world.
CRUICKSHANK: Everywhere. You know, two-thirds of American Muslims earn over $50,000 a year. They -- they participate in elections at a greater rate than -- than normal Americans or other Americans. And, so, they're very well integrated. It's a melting pot.
There's no sense of "the other," like there is in Europe. Remember, in countries like France and Britain, the Muslim community is very large. In the United States, it's smaller. It's successful, dynamic. Of course there's a -- still in the United States, a radical fringe. And U.S. counterterrorism officials are concerned about this radical fringe.
But, by and large, the problem is much, much larger in Europe. And that's why U.S. counterterrorism officials are concerned that -- that the real threat will come from European operatives coming over to the United States.
COOPER: Paul Cruickshank, appreciate your expertise.
And, Ben Venzke, thanks for being on the program, first time. We would love to have you back on.
One of the things we have tried to do this year also is -- is keep focused on the war in Afghanistan, not just on Iraq, a war that a lot of the soldiers who are fighting it say has been forgotten.
One major problem facing our soldiers and the government of Afghanistan is that the Taliban is back, and they're getting millions of dollars from the opium trade.
We had a CNN team in Afghanistan for two months investigating narco trafficking. This weekend, we're airing a CNN special investigation called "Narco Nation." We are going to show you a clip from it. In one province, Uruzgan, where poppy fields are thriving, we travel with the -- the man who is in charge of America's fight against Afghan heroin. The fight is not going well there.
Take a look.
COOPER (voice-over): The country's central government has little power here, making this a fertile ground for drug traffickers, insurgents and the Taliban.
Men, in their traditional black headdresses, are everywhere. And these billboards are the only signs of eradication to be seen. In fact, the governor lives here in this walled compound, which is surrounded by thriving poppy fields. The problem is literally in his own backyard.
Though he knows Wankel and high-ranking officials are here, the governor is conveniently out of town. In this part of the world, it's a grave insult.
DOUG WANKEL, U.S. DRUG ENFORCEMENT OFFICIAL: What we heard is that -- that he had a death in the family; he had to leave town. We're not sure, but that's the story. And that's -- it just happened to, you know, coincide with the time that we were coming in for doing eradication.
COOPER: Wankel and Aud (ph) bring a message from the United States and from President Hamid Karzai: Stop growing poppies.
WANKEL: There was very little -- very little eradication last year.
COOPER: It's an unusually frank discussion.
WANKEL: Some people would question who he eradicated. Nonetheless...
COOPER: Deciding whose fields to eradicate is always controversial. Local officials try to influence the decision-making based on loyalties to them and sometimes bribes.
Wankel is having none of it.
WANKEL: Because I don't trust the people here anyway. I mean, obviously, they haven't done anything anyway. OK? So...
COOPER: He shuts down the debate.
WANKEL: If you guys want to argue later, we can argue, but that's not now.
Eradication will start usually around, let's say, 8:30, 9:00. And it will be finished by 2:00 or 3:00. COOPER: Two days later, with eradication under way, there is trouble. Gunfire breaks out. The force is under attack.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The eradication is taking fire. We are taking fire. Copy.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Taliban?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Taliban.
COOPER: The gun battle rages for four hours and leaves four Afghan policemen wounded. Eradication efforts here are called off for the season. The farmers, the Taliban and the drug dealers win this round.
COOPER: You can see the full report, "Narco State: The Poppy Jihad," this Saturday and Sunday, 8:00 p.m. Eastern, on CNN.
Since 9/11, of course, hundreds of billions of dollars have been spent on fighting terrorism overseas and here at home. We have created this massive bureaucracy to oversee homeland security. And a new report card is out today on how that bureaucracy is doing. And I got to tell you, it is a scathing report. We will have details on that ahead.
Also, these stories:
COOPER (voice-over): A little girl lost.
KATE MCCANN, MOTHER OF MADELEINE MCCANN: We need our Madeleine. Our Madeleine needs us.
COOPER: Now reports of a breakthrough, and the authorities are talking to Madeleine McCann's mom. Is she a suspect? What do police know? The case on a case, with millions praying for a happy ending.
Later: tough words from a tough guy.
GOV. ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER (R), CALIFORNIA: It sounds to me a little bit like a loser's mentality.
COOPER: Hey, who's Arnold calling a loser? The answer ahead in "Raw Politics" -- only on 360.
COOPER: She's known the world over only by her first name, Madeleine. Hers is a face familiar to millions of us. And she's not been seen for months now. That may all soon change, however. Tonight, there are new and some very compelling developments in this international mystery. Her parents are being questioned again by police, and there are reports an arrest may be close at hand. We are going to get to all of that in a moment.
But, first, the backstory, starting with the day that little Madeleine simply vanished.
COOPER (voice-over): It's May 3. A smiling girl sits by a pool. Her name is Madeleine McCann. This is the last photograph taken of the 3-year-old. She vanished just hours later.
KATE MCCANN, MOTHER OF MADELEINE MCCANN: We need our Madeleine. Sean and Amelie need Madeleine, and Madeleine needs us.
COOPER: The story has received international attention, catapulting Madeleine's parents into the world spotlight. There have been dozens of interviews, celebrity pleas, even a personal meeting with the pope.
Despite all the rumors and reports, one fact remains painfully clear: Madeleine is still missing.
Her story begins innocently enough, Kate and Gerry McCann, a British couple, take Madeleine and her twin 2-year-old brother and sister on vacation to a resort in Portugal.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Cheer up, Gerry. We're on holiday.
COOPER: On the evening of May 3, after the children were asleep, Kate and Gerry left their ground floor room and the kids alone to have dinner at a restaurant about 300 feet away. A short time later, Kate went to check on the kids and says she discovered Madeleine was gone. Gerry's relative describes what he told her.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He said that Madeleine had been abducted. She's not the type of wee girl to wander off. And they had been checking every half-an-hour on the children. The three children were sleeping in the one room. When Kate went back to check a half-an-hour after Gerry had checked, Madeleine was missing. The window was open. The shutters were open. None of that had been left like that.
COOPER: Local police are called. There's a search of the resort that is expanded to surrounding areas.
Within days, the McCanns make this heartbreaking public plea.
K. MCCANN: Please, please do not hurt her. Please don't scare her. Please tell us where to find her or put her in a place of safety, and let somebody know where she is. We beg you to let Madeleine come home.
COOPER: In the early stages of the investigation, place say Madeleine was kidnapped, but believed she was alive. By the second week, her image was broadcast around the world. A multimillion-dollar reward was offered.
Famous faces, like "Harry Potter" author J.K. Rowling and soccer star David Beckham, asked for help.
DAVID BECKHAM, PROFESSIONAL SOCCER PLAYER: If you have seen this little girl, please, could you go to your local authorities or police and give any information that you have, any genuine information that you have?
COOPER: Back in Portugal, the police pursued a number of possibilities. There were reports of Madeleine sightings and that a man was seen dragging a girl near the hotel.
There was speculation that Madeleine may have been taken by a child sex ring. At one point, authorities zeroed in on a British man staying at a nearby villa. He was questioned, the home searched, and then nothing.
In fact, none of the leads were verified. And the McCanns criticized authorities for mishandling the case. They also created this Web site, findmadeleine.
GERRY MCCANN, FATHER OF MADELEINE MCCANN: We would like to again thank the thousands, if not millions, of people who are doing little things in their own way.
COOPER: The McCanns traveled throughout Europe, holding press conferences. The flew to America to meet with missing children experts. On May 30, they had a personal audience with Pope Benedict XVI.
K. MCCANN: He said that he would pray for us and our family.
COOPER: Then, in early August, a potential major break: A newspaper says traces of blood were found on the wall of the room where Madeleine was staying.
G. MCCANN: Can't comment on any specifics and forensics. And we wouldn't do that.
COOPER: But the news was followed by words no one wanted to here.
OLEGARIO SOUSA, CHIEF INSPECTOR, PORTUGUESE POLICE: The little child could be dead. But we have not decided until this moment. We must wait for -- for the results from the lab.
COOPER: And, this week, Portuguese investigators are holding separate witness interviews with Gerry and Kate. Through a spokeswoman, the couple say they are happy to help police, and Kate believes her daughter is still alive.
COOPER: For more now on those developments, let's go to CNN's Paula Hancocks, who is live in Portimao, Portugal.
Paula, what is the timeline here? Samples of blood found on the wall of the family's hotel room come back from being analyzed at this crime lab in Britain, and then, suddenly, Maddy's parents are brought in for questioning.
Is that just a coincidence?
PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, not particularly, according to everyone here on the ground. There's a real sense that something has changed, and that the circle of suspicion might be narrowing somewhat.
Now, we know that, less than 48 hours ago, they did, the Portuguese police, get some results from those forensic tests. They said they were satisfied with the results. And then they said to both Kate and Gerry McCann that they wanted to speak to them individually.
Now, we did see some extraordinary scene here just a few hours ago, quarter to 2:00 in the morning local time. We saw Kate McCann coming out of the police station behind me. She had been in there about 11 hours on her own, without her husband, talking to Portuguese police. She looked visibly drained by the experience.
Now, her lawyer did say that she is still a witness. She is not a suspect. But some members of her family are saying they're worried that the finger of suspicion is going to start pointing at the family itself now.
And, tomorrow, the husband, Gerry McCann, will have to go through exactly the same thing.
COOPER: How -- how reliable do authorities say that these forensics are?
I mean, the Portuguese police have made a bunch of mistakes in this case. They allowed the hotel room that they stayed in to be let out as soon as Maddy's parents moved out. They -- they did not impound their -- their rental car. At the very least, if -- if they suddenly do come under suspicion, there's a trial, I mean, a defense lawyer can poke holes in -- in the chain of evidence.
HANCOCKS: Well, that would certainly be a worry.
The forensics tests themselves were carried out in Britain, so there's no doubt surrounding those. And -- but it did take a couple of months before sniffer dogs came from Britain and actually discovered these traces of blood. There have been criticisms about the way that the Portuguese police have dealt with this particular case.
The very fact that they would rent out a crime scene and allow people to go into that room and rent it out after this had happened is quite staggering. And, certainly, the Portuguese media and the British media have been suggesting that many, many mistakes have been made. But the actual forensics tests themselves, those were done in Britain. And the Portuguese police say they're very satisfied with those.
COOPER: All right, Paula Hancocks on the scene.
We will bring you any developments as warranted.
Thanks very much.
Jury selection begins next week in the trial of the fugitive polygamist leader Warren Jeffs. He, of course, is charged with arranging marriages to child brides. Tomorrow, in a special edition of 360, we are going to look at the case against Jeffs and also get a rare look inside his secretive sect.
Here's a quick preview.
RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: What was the general attitude toward women in your home?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They were second-class citizens to my -- to my father. These women have no voice.
KAYE (voice-over): Sarah (ph) calls it mind control. She says her mother had more than two dozen nervous breakdowns.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't know how a woman can allow another woman to come into her home and cook some supper up with the family for her, and go to bed with her husband that night, and respect herself.
KAYE: When Warren Jeffs became prophet, he closed the schools. Children were no longer educated. Instead, girls were taught to cook and keep house.
COOPER: Well, you can hear Sarah's (ph) story, and you will hear many others, in our special report tomorrow, "Fallen Prophet: Polygamy on Trial." It's a brand-new 360 special.
Up next tonight: He's running, so, now what? We are going to catch up with candidate Fred Thompson on the campaign trail today, his first official day on the campaign trail.
Also ahead: They spent nearly 200 million bucks on security, so how did this guy, dressed like Osama bin Laden, get so close to President Bush in Australia? "What Were They Thinking?"
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JAY LENO")
FRED THOMPSON, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm running for president of the United States.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
JAY LENO, HOST, "THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JAY LENO": All right. There you have it, ladies and gentlemen.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, a lot of people waited a very long time to hear those words from Fred Thompson last night on "The Tonight Show With Jay Leno." He is officially in the presidential race now.
And, today, he hit the campaign trail, where "Raw Politics" was everywhere.
With that, here's Tom Foreman.
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, Republicans, much more than Democrats, have been underwhelmed by their choices in this presidential race. So, now we will finally see if they can find their happy place.
(voice-over): At long last, the mask is off. Candidate Fred Thompson galloped into Des Moines like the second coming of Ronald Reagan. At least, that's what he wants voters to think. He's for the war and tough immigration laws, against abortion rights and gay marriage, and says, America has to fight for its right to be Republican.
THOMPSON: I am ready to lead that fight. Let's do it together.
Thank you very, very much for being here today.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
FOREMAN: Another actor acting tough. In California, the presidential candidate who gets the most votes from the public gets all 55 electoral votes, and that's usually a Democrat. So Republicans are trying to change the law there to get a share of the electoral votes. The impact on the election would be huge, but Republican governor weight lifter not liking it.
GOV. ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER (R), CALIFORNIA: It sounds to me a little bit like a loser's mentality. It's kind of saying we're going to lose if we don't change the rules.
FOREMAN: More muscle for Democrat John Edwards. The transport union workers have given him his fourth labor endorsement. He's ahead of everyone else on this front.
(on camera) Organized labor does not have the punch it once had, but this does get Edwards some momentum, which he needs if he wants to catch that runaway train called the Hillary Express -- Anderson.
COOPER: We like the "Raw Politics", and frankly, who doesn't? Check out our brand spanking new 360 daily podcast. If you have one of those iPod thingamajiggers (ph), you can get it from the iTunes store, where it's quite popular. That's on the Internets (sic), by the way. Or on your computer at CNN.com/AC360podcast.
Let's check some of the other headlines today. Erica Hill joins us for that -- Erica.
ERICA HILL, HEADLINE NEWS ANCHOR: Anderson, the search for missing adventurer Steve Fossett has now expanded to cover 10,000 square miles. Now, to give you an idea, that is about the size of Vermont.
Search teams in western Nevada are checking the same areas at various times of the day due to light and shadows. So far, though, no sign of Fossett.
He took off in a plane on Monday for what was supposed to be a three-hour fight and never returned.
In Nicaragua, the death toll from Hurricane Felix continuing to climb. So far, at least 64 bodies have been found and more people are missing. Fifty-two people were actually pulled alive from the sea. Some of them spent 16 hours clinging to anything that would float to survive.
In northern California, two wildfires together have burned nearly 47,000 acres. The fire in Santa Clara County inside California's largest state park is only 25 percent contained at this point. An aerial assault on the flames is grounded due to too much smoke.
The other fire in Plumas County is only 10 percent contained. One hundred homes there are under mandatory evacuations, Anderson. Not good.
COOPER: Hate to see that.
HILL: For tonight's "What Were They Thinking", we're taking you down under. Sydney, Australia, which of course, this week is the site of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit. Say that five times fast, by the way.
Check out this motorcade we have here. It may look authentic to you. Made it through two security stops, but it turns out this is all bogus. A man dressed as Osama bin Laden was actually sitting in the back of one of those cars, stepped out when they got to the third security stop outside President Bush's hotel.
Turns out the fake Osama and his crew all part of an Australian TV show. Eleven of them were arrested. The attempt at comedy doesn't really have many people laughing at the security mistakes, because get this, $160 million reportedly spent to keep participants safe. All that, and a fake motorcade gets too close for comfort.
COOPER: They spent $160 million on security. Wow.
HILL: And the fake Osama and a couple of cars made it through.
COOPER: That's amazing. Erica, thanks.
COOPER: Well, fake bin Laden is one thing. The real one, of course, is still out there, and American cities may still be at risk. When we come back, how well is the Department of Homeland Security doing its job?
Well, you may not be surprised by the answer in the new report, but you're certainly not going to be pleased. We're "Keeping Them Honest".
COOPER: Well, two years now since Hurricane Katrina, coming up on six years now since the 9/11 attacks, two wars, literally hundreds of billions of dollars later, and it still comes down to a three-word question, are we safer?
Well, today the Government Accountability Office, the GAO, came out with its evaluation of the massive Department of Homeland Security, which was set up precisely to deal with acts of terror and other disasters. So how is it doing?
CNN's Joe Johns is "Keeping Them Honest".
JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): When it comes to emergency preparedness and response, which is what you want your Homeland Security Department to be really good at, a new report indicates the feds have pretty much flunked.
SEN. MARY LANDRIEU (D), LOUISIANA: This report is sort of the definitive authority that virtually nothing much has been done, missing 18 out of 25 marks, a nation still unprepared to prevent or respond to a catastrophic disaster.
JOHNS: The Government Accountability Office, or GAO, wasn't that blunt. It called this 320-page audit a mixed report card.
DAVID WALKER, GAO COMPTROLLER GENERAL: Sometimes DHS has made progress in developing plans and programs, but they've faced difficulty in implementing them.
JOHNS: All told, the GAO said the department had to meet about 171 so-called expectations. Of those, GAO said the department only achieved 78. It did not achieve 83. That's more than about half.
(on camera) Among the more glaring problems was failure to fix financial reporting weaknesses. After all, they're spending billions of dollars of your money.
(voice-over) The only area in which the GAO said the department had made substantial progress was in maritime security. The report said the department made moderate progress in other areas, like immigration enforcement and security.
Even one of the more diplomatic Senate Republicans says after four years, it's time to get a move on.
SEN. SUSAN COLLINS (R), MAINE: The department must pick up the pace of its progress.
JOHNS: The department responded by launching into damage control, charging the GAO audit wasn't fair.
PAUL SCHNEIDER, UNDER SECRETARY FOR MANAGEMENT, DHS: The department continues to believe that they used a flawed methodology in preparing its report, which resulted in many of the assessments not fully reflecting the department's progress.
JOHNS: But as it turns out, there just happens to be a former auditor on the Senate's homeland security committee, and she says the department is howling because the GAO is "Keeping Them Honest".
SEN. CLAIRE MCCASKILL (D), MISSOURI: In my experience, the very best audits are the ones where the recipient of the audit screams the loudest.
JOHNS: Claire McCaskill used to be the auditor for the state of the Missouri. She says the problem isn't the grading system; it's the failures GAO found.
MCCASKILL: The words that are in the audit, and I've read every page of them, it's a very large audit. They're strong and substantial indictments of some of the things that are going on at the Department of Homeland Security.
JOHNS: Another Republican senator said it's going to take a workaholic to fix the place.
SEN. GEORGE VOINOVICH (R), OHIO: I'm just telling you, unless we can get somebody over there that's going to work on this, as I mentioned, from early in the morning till late at night, this is not going to be done, and five years from now some senator will be talking to you about the fact that the department is still screwed up.
JOHNS: As predictions go, this one doesn't sound too farfetched.
Joe Johns, CNN, Washington.
(END VIDEOTAPE) COOPER: The GAO report comes as a major offensive against al Qaeda in Iraq begins. Here's the raw data.
The operation right now is called Lightning Hammer II. It involves 26,000 forces. Twelve thousand troops are American, 14,000 are Iraqis. The offensive is targeting suspected terror cells and al Qaeda safe havens in the northern Province.
For better or worse, Iraqi troops are operating with Americans, but when will they be ready to stand on their own? Well, there is another new report out today, just released, that says not six months, not 12 months. Better break out your calendar, because it's longer than that. We'll have details ahead.
And next month Dr. Sanjay Gupta and Jeff Corwin and I will literally take you around the world for our look at our "Planet in Peril", a four-hour documentary airing October 23 and 24. So mark those calendars. That's right here on CNN.
We'll be right back.
COOPER: Well, just a few days from now, General David Petraeus will report to Congress on Iraq. He'll be doing it with a lot of bad news already on the table.
Earlier this week a report from the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office gave the Iraqi government failing grades on meeting the political benchmarks set at the beginning of the troop surge.
Now another blue ribbon panel is doing the same when it comes to the Iraqi security forces. Well, at least to the Iraqi national police.
According to the independent commission on security forces in Iraq, the country's military will not be ready to perform without help for another year and a half. It calls the interior ministry a ministry in name only and the national police force an operationally ineffective group that should be disbanded.
Earlier I talked with two panel members, retired Marine Corps General James Jones and former D.C. police chief, Charles Ramsey.
COOPER: General Jones, your report has determined that the Iraqi army cannot take over responsibility for security in the country for at least 12 to 18 months. What is the main problem?
GEN. JAMES JONES (RET.), U.S. MARINE CORPS: Well, the -- we were charged to assess a number of other things, and that's overall the capability of the Iraq security forces which compose of police and the Iraqi military to take over the -- to try to take over more of the fighting. The fact is that the Iraqi army is moving in a positive direction and is going to be able to take over more of the internal struggle inside -- inside of Iraq.
The 12- to 18-month question that we answered has to do with defending the territorial integrity of Iraq, which is the traditional mission of an army. None of us are surprised that the Iraqi army, which was defeated and then dismembered, now is being rebuilt is achieving its first plateau but still has a ways to go to reach the second one.
COOPER: But, I mean, for years, there are a lot of people out there who don't understand why it's taking so long. For years we have been told by this administration that this was the No. 1 priority, to get the Iraqis to stand up. A lot of folks out there think that, you know, they should have stood up already.
What is -- I mean, as you looked at the structure of the military, what is the problem in terms of getting the units ready?
JONES: Well, Anderson, they do have ten army divisions that are -- nine of which are really engaged right now, and they're going to go to 13 in 2008. But this is a little bit like building an airplane while learning to fly.
We really do have to understand that we took this army down to nothing, and now we're trying to put it back together in the middle of a great insurgency with two countries on either side that are working pretty hard to destabilize the progress. This is a very significant task.
COOPER: Chief Ramsey, basically this report is saying the Iraqi national police is so corrupt, so sectarian, split along sectarian lines that it should be disbanded.
CHARLES RAMSEY, FORMER D.C. CHIEF: Well, I think it's important to distinguish between the Iraqi police service, which has 230,000 members, and the national police, which have 25,000 members approximately.
And we're speaking about the national police when we talk about disbanding but then reorganizing with a different mission, a police- related mission, one that would allow them to shrink the size of that force, taking excess personnel, once they're vetted, and put some in the military and some in the Iraqi police service.
So it's not a disbanding of all police throughout Iraq. It's just the national police that we're very concerned about, and that's because they're sectarian, 85 percent Shia, 13 percent Sunni. They've been accused of some egregious crimes, and we just simply don't think that the level of trust is there.
In fact, the negative comments we got toward the negative -- toward the national police really was astounding.
COOPER: General -- General Jones, we appreciate your time today, and Chief Ramsey, as well, Charles Ramsey. Thank you so much.
JONES: Yes, sir.
COOPER: Up next tonight, a look and a listen to opera's fallen star.
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COOPER: Luciano Pavarotti's career brought joy to millions of us, all of those who came within earshot of that voice.
Also tonight, more on our top story: word that Osama bin Laden is about to resurface on tape. A message from al Qaeda. Get ready for a message from bin Laden. Years since we've seen him, days from the 9/11 anniversary. The reclusive terrorist speaks out.
Plus, an alleged bin Laden foot soldier. What we're learning about him, his alleged plot to bomb Americans and how many other conspirators police think there were. Tonight on 360.
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COOPER: "The Shot of the Day" is coming up, remembering opera singer, star Luciano Pavarotti. But first, Erica Hill from Headline News gives us a "360 News and Business Bulletin" -- Erica.
HILL: Anderson, a Mount Kisco, New York, police officer who responded to a drunken immigrant's 911 call has been indicted on charges he recklessly caused the man's death. George Burbaris has pleaded not guilty to second-degree manslaughter charges.
We've been following this story for you here on 360, and you may recall, the immigrant was found dying on a road less than an hour after cops responded to his 911 call from a Laundromat. He later died at a hospital. The medical examiner called it a homicide.
The families of seven students killed in the Virginia Tech massacre have hired a law firm to represent them in a possible wrongful death lawsuit against the state. Other families may join them.
In April a Virginia Tech student killed 32 students and faculty members before taking his own life.
And on Wall Street, stocks rising today. The Dow added 57 to close at 13,363. The NASDAQ gained 8, finishing at 2614, while the S&P rose 6.
And from the people behind the iPhone, Apple, an apology, and a $100 store credit for anybody who bought the phones in the past couple of months, this after an angry customers sent in hundreds of e-mails after a $200 price drop was announced on the phone.
So anybody who bought the 8-gigabyte model at the original price of 600 bucks now gets a $100 store credit toward any purchase online or at an Apple store.
Of course, they could have avoided all of this hullabaloo if only they had listened to the man on their side, Anderson Cooper.
COOPER: Yes. I know. I know. I don't want to say I told you so.
HILL: I'll say it for you. He told you so.
COOPER: I told you so. But, I mean, they always do that. The things cost a lot when they come out, and then the price drops. So I don't understand...
HILL: That's why you wait.
COOPER: ... why people should be shocked to find out that there's gambling in Rick's casino.
COOPER: Tonight's "Shot" is a little different. It's a look at the life of an opera tenor, Luciano Pavarotti, who lost his battle with pancreatic cancer earlier this morning.
A look at his life and his legacy, CNN's Brooke Anderson.
BROOKE ANDERSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): He was widely considered the greatest tenor of his time. In his prime, a singer capable of hitting the most demanding notes.
But it was far more than mere technical skill that turned Luciano Pavarotti into a worldwide star. It was also the force of his personality. The man who would become larger than life began life modestly in the Italian city of Modena. He was the son of a baker and amateur singer.
LUCIANO PAVAROTTI, OPERA STAR: I dream to become a singer when I was 4. And I hear my father in the church singing with a beautiful tenor voice. And I say to myself, "Well, let's try to do something."
ANDERSON: Do something he would, winning an international singing competition by age 25.
But his big break came later in the 1960s when he appeared with Dame Joan Sutherland in some acclaimed operatic performances. His U.S. debut came in 1965, and by the 1970s, he was earning rave reviews at New York's Metropolitan Opera.
In 1979, at the height of his musical prowess, "TIME" magazine put him on its cover, declaring him opera's golden tenor. Millions of record sales followed, earning him the title classical music's best- selling artist.
And he raised millions of dollars for charity through benefit concerts, often sharing the stage with pop stars.
But the highlight of his career may have come in 1990 when Pavarotti joined Placido Domingo and Jose Carreras to form The Three Tenors.
Brooke Anderson, CNN, Los Angeles.
COOPER: Brooke mentioned The Three Tenors when they performed in Paris in 1998. Pavarotti dazzled the audience. Let's listen to some of that performance.
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COOPER: Remarkable. Today "The Boston Globe" summed up Pavarotti's legacy like this. It said his singing gave more pleasure to more people for a longer period of time than any other classical singer in history. He and his voice shall be missed.
We'll be back with more news at the top of the hour.
COOPER: Still on the loose. Osama bin Laden. We are told within hours or maybe even minutes, a new message from the al Qaeda killer may be released. We know they are media savvy and can't let a major anniversary like 9/11 pass unremarked upon. But what specifically might bin Laden be trying to achieve with this tape? We'll investigate.
Also tonight, how prepared are we for another attack? Billions have been spent, but a new report delivers a disturbing bottom line. We're "Keeping Them Honest".
And word of a possible break in the case of a little girl lost. We're going to show you who police are now talking to and why that could be both significant and possibly tragic.
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