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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES

Tropical Storm Humberto Heads For Texas; Democrats Blast Petraeus Timeline For Troop Withdrawal; Interview With General David Petraeus

Aired September 12, 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: We are in Baghdad tonight. There's plenty to talk about here.
But we do have breaking news back home, as people get ready for a dangerous storm that is growing stronger even as we speak. Its name is Humberto.

Let's turn first to CNN severe weather expert Chad Myers.

Chad, where is this thing going?

CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: You know what, Anderson?

At 11:00 this morning, this thing didn't even have a number. It didn't even have a name. And then it went to Humberto by about 1:00, 2:00 in the afternoon. And now it is still spinning, and now it almost has a complete eye. And I think this thing is stronger than 50 miles per hour. I really do. This is just slamming the coast here, from Galveston. It will be running right up toward Beaumont.

And it could be a small hurricane before it touches down, before it makes landfall. It was supposed to be right on land already, about Galveston. It didn't do that. It's still in the warm water. And, Anderson, you know, any storm over water is going to bigger. And, right now, it's getting bigger.

We will keep you advised. At about 10:45, we will have the latest from the Hurricane Center. And that is when we will give you latest, what it's doing and where it's going -- back to you.

COOPER: All right, we will bring it to you live. Chad, thanks very much.

And we have got a lot going on tonight. We're going to deal with the scaling back of the so-called troop surge and the responsibility here in Baghdad of bringing the country together. So far, that promise has gone unfulfilled.

We will also hear from the man in the hot seat, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. I sat down with him today. And there were surprises.

You're also going to hear on the program tonight from General David Petraeus. Democrats today blasted his timetable. We will talk to him about some of the most controversial aspects of his testimony. And, later, getting to the bottom of one of the enduring mysteries of 9/11: What was a shadowy plane doing right above the White House that morning? The mystery of so-called doomsday plane revealed tonight.

We begin with General Petraeus. His recommendations, which the president will endorse when he speaks to the country tomorrow night, already coming under fire. He wants to bring home 30,000 troops by next summer, not enough, say Democrats, and nothing new.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV), MAJORITY LEADER: His plan is neither a drawdown, nor a change in mission that we need. His plan is simply more of the same. Keep at least 130,000 troops, American troops, in the midst of an intractable civil war. This is unacceptable to me. It's unacceptable to the American people.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska echoed some of the sentiment, calling the general's desire to draw down troops as the Iraqi forces improve more of the same.

Whatever Republicans are saying in public, no one in either party ignores the political risk of facing voters next year, with so many Americans still at risk here in Iraq.

Earlier today, I spoke with their commander, General David Petraeus.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: General Petraeus, the White House, in recent months, has continually portrayed the battle here as one between al Qaeda and -- and America, or al Qaeda in Iraq and America. Critics say that's to gain support for the effort.

How do you see the battle here? It's far more complex than just a battle between al Qaeda in Iraq and America, isn't it?

GENERAL DAVID PETRAEUS, COMMANDING GENERAL OF THE MULTI-NATIONAL FORCE-IRAQ: It's a very complex situation, Anderson.

And I have likened al Qaeda in Iraq to the wolf closest to the sled, because they have carried out the most horrific of the attacks, and, indeed, the attack in the Samarra mosque, for example, that sparked that terrible escalation of sectarian violence throughout 2006 and into 2007.

COOPER: They account for, as you have said, the large-scale attacks, the most dramatic ones. But, in terms if there's a pie of all the different actors in an insurgency, they are a relatively small piece of that pie; is that correct?

PETRAEUS: I'm not sure I would say relatively small, Anderson. And, again, it's not necessarily actually the size of the pie, candidly. It's the -- the importance or the prominence or the lethality, the danger posed by that segment of the pie, the sheer barbarity of what they do, particularly the signature attacks that they carry out. Suicide car bomb/truck bombing attacks are so horrific, that they have a very disproportionate effect for the number that they carry out.

COOPER: We're now paying Sunni tribal leaders who have turned on al Qaeda in Iraq. Isn't there a big risk that these armed Sunni tribes will become militias if and when the U.S. decides to pull out?

PETRAEUS: The key, in fact, is to tie them into the central government, because that is a legitimate concern. It's a concern that Prime Minister Maliki and all of us voiced immediately.

OK. So, now they're turning their weapons on al Qaeda, instead of on us. Who do they turn them on after that? And, so, the way to mitigate that risk has been to make them part of the legitimate Iraqi security forces, with their payroll coming from Baghdad.

COOPER: Some of the younger soldiers I talked to, American soldiers, found it hard to accept that we're now essentially paying or, in many cases, paying former insurgents who very well may have the blood of Americans on their hands.

How do you explain that to them? How do you explain that to, you know, the parents of -- of -- of guys who have -- who have died over here?

PETRAEUS: Well, you know, the -- the Brits, with whom we are privileged to partner there -- in fact, my former deputy commander, former commander of the 22 SAS and the special forces in the United Kingdom, sat down with me one day, and he related how he sat across the table from a well-known IRA leader, an individual who, as he put it, had been leading his lads in swinging the pipe against British soldiers.

And he then said, you know, you reconcile with former enemies, not with your friends. And that's why it's called reconciliation. And what we have sought to do, with our Iraqi counterparts, is to determine who are the irreconcilables, who, no kidding, have to be killed or captured or run off.

And, certainly, al Qaeda-Iraq is in that camp. And, then, where do you reach those who are reconcilable and can be made part of the solution, instead of part of the problem?

COOPER: There's been a lot of debate over the numbers that you cited in testimony showing a reduction in violence. The bipartisan Iraq Study Group last year said -- it was back in 2006 -- said that there is -- and I quote -- "significant under-reporting of violence by the military in the figures that we use."

And he said -- and they said that -- and I think there was other testimony by Comptroller General David Walker testifying to Congress recently, who said -- and I quote -- "Let's just say there are several differences -- different sources within the administration on violence, and those sources do not agree."

How confident are you the numbers you are giving out are really accurate, if there have been problems in the past?

PETRAEUS: Well, first of all, what I would say, Anderson, is that we have tried hard to be consistent in our reporting. And that is hugely important, needless to say.

There are other numbers out there, and the trends generally are the same as the trends that we have reported.

COOPER: The other criticism that the military has received is that, you know, some four million Iraqis are no longer in their homes. Two million of them have fled to other countries. About two million -- two million of them are in -- are displaced internally.

Some once mixed ethnic neighborhoods in Baghdad are now -- essentially have been ethnically cleansed of Sunnis. Has that also contributed to the reduction in the death toll; frankly, there's just fewer people to kill?

PETRAEUS: Well, I think, certainly, the -- the displacement and the hardening of neighborhoods, if you will, into one sector or the other has been a factor. There's no question about it. And we have all recognized that.

On the other hand, Anderson, nothing stops sectarian violence until it's stopped. You know, the fault line continues to move until a security situation is imposed that tamps down the violence, stabilizes it, and then develops a sustainable security solution to it.

COOPER: I want to ask you about some of what you have said in the past. Some of your critics have said that you have been given too rosy assessments in the past. Back in 2004, you wrote an op-ed. It was in September, the height of the presidential race.

And you said about the Iraqi security forces -- and I quote -- "Training is on track and increasing in capacity."

If it was so on track back then, what the heck happened?

PETRAEUS: Well, what the heck happened was incredible ethnosectarian violence in the wake of the Samarra mosque bombing in February 2006 that led to a situation in December 2006 where Ambassador Khalilzad and General Casey issued a blunt assessment in a joint campaign review that said that the effort was failing to achieve its objectives, and which, of course, led the multinational corps commander, in response, to request additional forces up through General Casey, and resulted in the surge of forces.

That was certainly an enormous factor. It is without question that certain elements of the Iraqi security forces went backwards, went south, became instruments of sectarian violence, part of the problem, instead of part of the solution. COOPER: Final question: When John Warner asked you if this war is making America safer, you said you weren't sure. You hadn't really focused on that. You now say we have many national security interests in Iraq.

Does that necessarily mean that winning in Iraq makes us safer at home?

PETRAEUS: We have enormous national security interests in Iraq, in helping Iraq achieve its objectives and helping us achieve our very important interests there, an Iraq that is secure and stable, with a government that's representative of and responsive to the people, that can meet their basic needs, secure them internally and externally, and also laying out the consequences of not achieving that.

And some of them, as you well know, could be very, very dire, in terms of al Qaeda having a base there, in terms of perhaps Iran doing what President Ahmadinejad said the other day, moving in to fill a void -- the humanitarian disaster that could get far worse than it already is, dislocation to the global economy and so forth.

So, again, I was just trying not to be the Department of Homeland Security director in that, not in any way stating anything other than what I did say repeatedly, which is that we have enormous interests in achieving our objectives in Iraq.

COOPER: After three days in Washington, is it more dangerous there or more dangerous here?

PETRAEUS: Well, someone in our group here was saying they would not be completely reluctant to head back to Baghdad.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: General David Petraeus earlier today.

Now our interview with a man whom Petraeus was hoping would take greater political advantage of the so-called troop surge, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, under pressure here, under fire this week in Washington.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER (voice-over): In two days of testimony on Capitol Hill, Iraq's prime minister came under blistering criticism.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The Maliki government has not seized the opportunity.

REP. TOM LANTOS (D), CALIFORNIA: Prime Minister Maliki and the Iraqi politicians need to know that the free ride is over.

COOPER: Even the U.S. ambassador to Iraq was tough. RYAN CROCKER, UNITED STATES AMBASSADOR TO IRAQ: There is an enormous amount of dysfunctionality in Iraq. That is beyond question. The government, in many respects, is dysfunctional.

COOPER: So, when we sat down with Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki today, we expected him to protest. Surprisingly, he agreed with Ambassador Crocker's portrayal.

(on camera): You're actually agreeing, to some extent, that -- that the government has been dysfunctional?

NOURI AL-MALIKI, IRAQI PRIME MINISTER (through translator): Yes, definitely. That is why we are considering reenergizing it and reconsidering the process of minister selection, so that they are more professional. But this does not mean that the ministers did not achieve anything. They fought all the challenges and achieved successes, but we want more successes.

COOPER: Does it anger you when you hear U.S. politicians essentially saying you should resign?

AL-MALIKI (through translator): Frankly, I don't blame them, when they don't know the facts and when they don't realize the difficulties.

Every person wishes that everything happens fast and with ease, but he who lives the problems and the challenges is he who appreciates the situation. So, I don't blame them, because they're not aware of the actual challenges.

COOPER: Have you ever considered resigning?

AL-MALIKI (through translator): No.

COOPER (voice-over): Al-Maliki says he agrees with General Petraeus, who argues the so-called surge has been successful. While he says he supports the U.S. tactic of working with Sunni tribes against al Qaeda, he does have serious concerns about the true intentions of some of the gunmen.

AL-MALIKI (through translator): We fear from the Taliban experience in Afghanistan. Therefore, when we welcome them into recruiting and they wear the uniform of the police and army, they must have a clean criminal record. They cannot be from gangs or involved in the killing of innocent people.

COOPER: Al-Maliki's own government is dominated by Shia militias, some of which are alleged to even sponsor death squads in government uniforms, a charge al-Maliki denies. As for Iran, increasingly the focus of U.S. concern, for the prime minister, that presents a diplomatic dilemma. He can't afford to anger his powerful neighbor, which his government increasingly relies on.

(on camera): You have traveled to Iran. Many in America criticize you for being photographed holding hands with President Ahmadinejad. AL-MALIKI (through translator): Honestly, I am perplexed by others. Nothing that happened is out of the ordinary. This is something normal between nations. Even during conflict, they meet and negotiate.

COOPER: Do you believe the allegations by the United States against Iran that -- that Iran is supplying materials and explosives for -- for bombs that are killing American troops here?

AL-MALIKI (through translator): This is the issue we brought up with Iran. And we said, yes, there are bombs that come through the Iranian borders that kill our soldiers and American soldiers. And, of course, they said, as others, like Syrians, these come through against our wishes and beyond our control. However, we said, yes, you are responsible in controlling your borders.

And I believe that they are honest with us now in controlling their borders and stopping infiltration of explosives through the borders that kill the Iraqis and the American soldiers.

COOPER: Why should more Americans fight and -- and die here? What would you say to the parents of -- of American troops who have lost their lives here and to the parents of American troops who will lose their lives here in the coming months and perhaps even years? It is a high price America is paying. Is it worth that price?

AL-MALIKI (through translator): I sympathize with those victims, and I give my condolences to the families of the victims, military men and women who lost their lives in fighting dictatorship, establishing democracy and freedom, and that helped a nation that was suffering under the dreadful dictatorship.

And what was accomplished in Iraq is very large, and Iraq will preserve and appreciate it, due to the sacrifice of the American people, the American soldiers, and the American administration.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: That was Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

Politicians still refer to this as a coalition effort, of course, but, of the 180,000 coalition troops in Iraq, the vast majority are American. Here's the "Raw Data."

Right now, according to the Army, there are about 168,000 U.S. troops in Iraq. The next largest contributor of soldiers is the United Kingdom, with 5,500. Then the nation of Georgia has 2,000 troops here. South Korea has 1,200. Twenty-five other countries, countries other than the United States, contribute a total of about 11,600 troops to this coalition.

Michael Ware joins us shortly with the latest on America's true nemesis in the region, Iran. We're also waiting for that update from the National Hurricane Center on the storm now threatening Texas. It could be a hurricane. We will find out ahead -- more coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: We heard from Prime Minister al-Maliki before the break.

As we said, his government is dependent in so many ways on Iran, even though Iranian weapons are killing Iraqis and Americans. The within, meantime, is ratcheting up the rhetoric on the Islamic republic, warning today that retreating from Iraq would amount to an Iranian victory.

Sources expect more of the same from the president's speech tomorrow night. U.S. diplomats also said today that they're going to renew their push for tougher trade sanctions against Iran when they meet with their Russian, Chinese, and European counterparts on the 21st.

Iran, as you would expect, is pushing back.

CNN's Michael Ware spoke with the Iranian ambassador today. He joins me now.

Michael, first of all, how big of an actor is Iran here in Iraq?

MICHAEL WARE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Enormous, Anderson. You cannot underestimate the influence that Iran has here in Iraq.

Indeed, it's not wrong to say that Iran has much more sway over the government of Iraq than does America. All the fundamental building blocks of the Iraqi government are militias, many of which were created by, continue to be funded by, and its political organizations fashioned by Iran. They own this place, not America.

COOPER: And, as we said, the rhetoric by the U.S. is certainly ramping up.

Let's listen to what some of the Iraqi ambassador told you today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HASSAN KAZEMI QUMI, IRANIAN AMBASSADOR TO IRAQ (through translator): We have no fear of the outbreak of war. In the past several months, under different pretexts, the Americans tried to create a U.S.-Arab alliance against Iran. But it didn't work, and we don't have any problems with the Arab countries.

So, we have no fear of a war and conflict, but have concerns that U.S. efforts would want to create conflict. But, given the similar interests and efforts among the regional countries, conflict will be averted.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Essentially, kind of standing tough.

WARE: Oh, absolutely. Iran is not backing off one little inch.

To the Iranian point of view, all the cards are in their hands. And they can sit back and wait and see what America does. They're not offering America a thing. Indeed, they're -- they're consolidating their power, waiting for America to leave.

And America has been using its own proxies in the Arab states and here within Iraq to try and counter that, but, so far, to no avail.

COOPER: And the U.S. is -- is accusing Iran of trying to destabilize Iraq.

Let's listen to one -- one other thing the ambassador said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

QUMI (through translator): U.S. security plans for Iraq have not succeeded. The administration is pointing fingers at others, and, by accusing others, tries to cover up its own failed plans.

If you look at the Iraqi scene just in the past several months, you will see clearly that terrorist and sabotaging forces are mostly from countries whose governments are, on the surface, U.S. allies. It is true that, so far, we have had no relations with the United States and that we have differences. But, thus far, not one Iranian youth, not a single Iranian citizen has engaged in suicide and terrorist attacks against American troops in Iraq.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: He's essentially denying any wrongdoing in Iraq.

WARE: Oh, absolutely.

What we see from the Iranian ambassador here in Baghdad is, he just bats away the American allegations like a man brushes away a fly. Indeed, he throws down the gauntlet to America. He says, if you have real evidence, then give it to us officially, and we will respond.

He challenges America to give their evidence to the Swiss Embassy in Tehran. At the same time, he throws it back on America. He says, we have evidence that you are interfering in our affairs, that you are funding and supporting armed militias that are opposed to our government. And we have that evidence. We're ready to give ours. Are you ready to give yours? It's a daring move.

COOPER: Yes, a war of words continues.

Michael Ware, appreciate the reporting. Thanks.

By now, the Bush administration had hoped that this city, this country, really, would be a center of stability in the Middle East, a beacon of reform and democracy. Well, you don't hear much of that kind of talk anymore, do you?

Iraq may be a beacon, but, right now, it is a beacon drawing to it death and violence. Iranian weapons are killing Iraqis and Americans. So are Saudi jihadists, young men who come here to blow themselves up and take Americans and Iraqis with them. Saudi Arabia is worried about the violence here spilling over to their land.

CNN's Nic Robertson shows us tonight how they hope to prevent that.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice- over): Saudi Arabia's 560-mile border with Iraq -- no one is allowed through, razor wire, guard towers, thermal cameras, and massive sand berms as long as the eye can see.

(on camera): The berm stretches all the way down to Kuwait, about 500 or more miles long. There are three of these berms all the way along this border area. The idea is that no vehicles can drive out of Iraq across into Saudi.

(voice-over): From here, the border looks almost impenetrable, but spiralling conflict in Iraq has a growing number of Saudis worrying, and many blame the United States.

CAPTAIN AHMED AL OUNAZI, SAUDI NATIONAL GUARD: Maybe it's going to deteriorate, and we have to be prepared for that.

ROBERTSON (on camera): What preparations do you have?

AL OUNAZI: We are recruiting a lot of soldiers, having more vehicles.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): A lot of soldiers, thousands of new guards here. A fence will be built, billions of dollars spent, intended to keep the al Qaeda out of the oil-rich kingdom.

Earlier this year, Saudi security arrested more than 170 al Qaeda members. But officials fear, progress will be lost if the U.S. cannot secure Iraq.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The fear is, is that the al Qaeda to find a way to reactivate its activities in the kingdom.

ROBERTSON: In recent weeks, Saudis began massively ratcheting up security around oil, gas and other facilities. More than 30,000 new guards will be deployed, more than 10 times the number now.

People here are convinced al Qaeda wants to widen the war in Iraq.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Targeting an oil installation would drag the American forces to Saudi Arabia, which will create, by itself, a reason to recruit Saudis.

ROBERTSON: But it's not just al Qaeda that has the Saudis worried about U.S. plans in Iraq. They fear Iran's growing influence across the border and the instability it could bring.

KHALIL AL KHALIL, SAUDI CONSULTATIVE COUNCIL: Iranians must be out of Iraq by choice or by force. No one will accept them. ROBERTSON: Khalil Al Khalil is on a powerful council that advises King Abdullah. Among top Saudis and Arab leaders in the region, he says, the U.S. is held responsible for allowing Iran to establish its influence in Iraq.

AL KHALIL: Their government must be responsible to find a safe exit and to find a political solution to this -- this terrible, historical, nasty crisis in Iraq.

ROBERTSON: Frustrations are growing. Earlier this year, King Abdullah told Arab leaders, U.S. forces in Iraq were -- quote -- "an illegitimate foreign occupation" -- the subtext: You broke it; you fix it, before you get out.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Nic joins us now from Naray, Afghanistan.

Nic, would the Saudis support a U.S. war against Iran?

ROBERTSON: That's the growing feeling you get.

The Saudis say they're having bilateral talks and even have a bilateral security arrangement, agreement with Iran that says, we won't strike you; you don't strike us.

But the feeling is, in -- in Saudi Arabia, that Iran is trying to grow its influence in the region. Saudi Arabia is the most powerful Arab nation in the region -- that's how they see themselves -- that it will be their responsibility to make sure that Iran's influence doesn't grow. They're afraid of the instability that will bring in their country.

And, by an extension of that, many people you talk to there, senior people, certainly appear willing to stand back and watch a strike against Iran, on the basis of Iran's growing nuclear capability. And that is a pervasive feeling on the streets to -- to senior people -- Anderson.

COOPER: It is a very delicate situation here these days.

Nic, thanks for the reporting. Stay safe in Afghanistan.

We continue to track Humberto, watching it grow, possibly to hurricane strength shortly. We're going to have more on that tonight.

Also, these stories:

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: A 9/11 mystery: What was flying above the White House that morning? Denials from the Pentagon, no mention from the 9/11 Commission. Now CNN pierces the silence and reveals an aircraft you might not even know exists -- secrets of the doomsday plane.

Later, the knockdown, drag-out dust-up between Fred Thompson and the Mitt Romney campaign. See what's got the two camps fighting like the Three Stooges -- "Raw Politics," only on 360.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Well, the number of casualties in this war has been terrible, and each day, of course, it grows higher. At one Air Force medical facility in Balad, Iraq, American troops are making a difference, treating all the wounded whether they wear an American uniform or not.

CNN's Gary Tuchman reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): You can become numb when you keep hearing about casualties of war but not when you see faces like these.

This little Iraqi girl's name is Ghofran. She is only 6. She was in front of her house when her world changed. Moyaed Hamid is her uncle.

MOYAED HAMID, GHOFRAN'S UNCLE (through translator): An IED was thrown at the police. Nothing happened to them. It hit her. Her leg was amputated.

TUCHMAN (on camera): What is your name? Nice to meet you.

(voice-over) Kawther is 7. She was shot in her left leg. Her uncle says she was purposely targeted because he is an Iraqi cop.

AHMAD ATYA, KAWTHER'S UNCLE (through translator): The terrorists shot her. The al Qaeda organization.

TUCHMAN: These wounded children, including patients like this young boy whose family's whereabouts are unknown, are all at the Air Force theater hospital at the Balad Air Base in Iraq, a facility surrounded by a 15-foot-high wall to thwart attacks.

COL. PATRICK STORMS, AIR FORCE HOSPITAL COMMANDER: We're the largest health care facility in the theater of operations.

TUCHMAN: On this day the hospital has mostly wounded Iraqi civilians. Like this 14-month-old toddler, burned over 45 percent of his body.

MAHFOUDHA MUHAMMED, AHMAD'S GRANDMOTHER (through translator): I love him so much, so dearly. He's just a baby.

TUCHMAN: And this 11-year-old boy, who cries out for water he can't have yet because of a bowel injury.

The hospital also has, as you would expect, wounded American troops. Army Private Paul Cardwell of Arkansas had an explosive thrown near his face. He's only 18. (on camera) Did you ever see anything?

PFC. PAUL CARDWELL, U.S. ARMY: No. No. You don't see it. You don't. It just happens.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): There is 24-hour armed security here, mainly because of one other type of patient, detainees. Insurgents are regularly brought here for medical care, too.

During our visit, two badly wounded Iraqi men were choppered in. Doctors say they didn't know if these men were insurgents or not. Medical care comes first, they say.

For one of the patients...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's got a gunshot wound low here in his -- in his abdomen.

TUCHMAN: For the other patient...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's going to need an amputation.

TUCHMAN: The amputation takes place within minutes. Both men are expected to live.

STORMS: Survival rate is 98 percent. We're pretty proud of that.

TUCHMAN: The stories we hear are harrowing. Eight-year-old Abdul was shot in the arm during a gunfight.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): He was shot by the Americans.

TUCHMAN: But Abdul's uncle says he accepts their apologies for the accident.

Just before we leave the hospital, we say good-bye to our new friend, Kawther.

(on camera) Salam.

(voice-over) Doctors say Kawther could be well enough soon to return to the same house where she was shot.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Gary Tuchman joins us now from Balad.

Gary, what about the other children in the story? What's their prognosis?

TUCHMAN: Well, all the children, Anderson, who you saw in the story are on the road to recovery, although they'll have various levels of complications. As far as the little boy who kept saying "ma, ma," which is Arabic for water, he was getting water through his I.V. and will be able to drink water today.

I think what troubles doctors -- and they know this is not their department -- is that these children will get well, and then they'll go back to their insurgent-filled neighborhoods.

And I'll tell you, Anderson, what's really strange about being there is being in a facility with soldiers, with innocent children and with people who, in many cases, don't mind killing or harming those innocent children.

COOPER: And yet we treat them all. Remarkable. Gary Tuchman, appreciate the reporting.

Now here's John Roberts with what's coming up tomorrow on "AMERICAN MORNING".

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN ROBERTS, CO-HOST, "AMERICAN MORNING": Thanks, Anderson.

Tomorrow we bring you the most news in the morning including the country's top toymakers called before Congress. China has made promises to stop using lead paint in toys. The toymakers are making promises. Who's going to make sure that those promises are kept?

We'll get answers beginning at 6 a.m. Eastern here on "AMERICAN MORNING" -- Anderson.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: John, thanks.

"Raw Politics" coming up tonight, including a feud between the top two GOP presidential candidates.

Plus, the latest on Humberto as it hits the coast of Texas.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Getting to the bottom of a 9/11 mystery. That is coming up. First, Tom Foreman joins us with a "360 Bulletin" -- Tom.

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT/ANCHOR: Hi, Anderson.

Tropical Storm Humberto is growing in intensity tonight. Flood warnings have gone out along a 270-mile stretch of coastline. And CNN severe weather expert Chad Myers says it could grow into a hurricane. We'll talk with him just a little bit later about that.

Tsunami fears resurfaced today in Indonesia after two major quakes struck off the island of Sumatra. One, an 8.4 magnitude quake, followed by a second at 7.8. There was a tsunami from the earlier quake, but only a minor one. The quake itself did enough damage, though, killing nine people.

And remember that woman who shot her preacher husband last year? We heard from her today in an exclusive interview with Oprah Winfrey.

Mary Winkler was released from a Tennessee mental health facility last month. She served seven months time there. She tells Oprah she killed her husband after years of abuse and remembers only the shotgun blast, but she knows what she wanted to say to him as she entered their bedroom with the gun.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OPRAH WINFREY, HOST, "OPRAH WINFREY SHOW": So you chose to speak to him by getting the gun? What did you want to say?

MARY WINKLER, KILLED PREACHER HUSBAND: Just to stop, just be happy. He just -- he had to be miserable, the way he acted. And just to stop being so mean. And just relax and enjoy life.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FOREMAN: Interesting stuff -- Anderson.

COOPER: Relax and enjoy life, and then she shot him?

FOREMAN: Pretty much the case, sounds like. I think there will be more to hear about that as time goes on.

COOPER: Yes, go figure. All right. Tom, thanks very much. We'll talk to you in a little bit.

On now to one of the eeriest moments amid the carnage of 9/11. A mysterious plane was seen flying right over the president's residence. Even some CNN staffers saw it. To this day it has never been officially explained.

Tonight, chief national correspondent John King has new details about this great 9/11 mystery.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOHN KING, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Today, six years after 9/11, a mystery endures about just what happened in the skies over the White House that terrible day. A plane flew right over it, but why, and what was it? For conspiracy theorists, the image is a gold mine.

Go back to that morning. Suddenly, an orderly evacuation of the White House turned hectic. In New York, the Twin Towers had collapsed. There was word of an explosion at the Pentagon.

And then Secret Service warnings of another plane still on course for Washington. It appeared overhead just before 10 a.m., a four- engine jet banking slowly in the nation's most off-limits airspace. On the White House grounds and the rooftop, a nervous scramble.

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KING: About ten minutes ago there was a white jet circling overhead. Now, you generally don't see planes in the area over the White House. That is restricted airspace. No reason to believe that this jet was there for any nefarious purposes, but the Secret Service was very concerned, pointing up at jet in the sky.

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KING (voice-over): And still today, no one will offer an official explanation of what we saw.

Two government sources familiar with the incident tell CNN it was a military aircraft. They say the details are classified.

This comparison of the CNN video and an official Air Force photo suggests the mystery plane is among the military's most sensitive aircraft, an Air Force E-4B. Note the flag on the tail, the stripe around the fuselage, and the telltale bubble just behind the 747 cockpit area.

MAJ. GEN. DON SHEPPERD (RET.), U.S. AIR FORCE: There are many commercial versions of the 747, obviously, that look similar, but I don't think any of them that have the communications pod like the E-4, the Air Force E-4 does behind the cockpit.

KING: The E-4b is a state of the art flying command post, built and equipped for one reason: to keep the government running no matter what, even in the event of a nuclear war, the reason it was nicknamed the doomsday plane during the Cold War.

SHEPPERD: They exercise this type of thing all of the time, and they simply don't talk about it. So it doesn't surprise me that they -- that they are very closed-mouthed about it.

KING: Ask the Pentagon, and it insists this is not a military aircraft, and there is no mention of it in the official report of the 9/11 Commission.

Commission co-chairman Lee Hamilton says he has a vague recollection of someone mentioning a mystery plane, but staffers who looked into it never raised it as a relevant issue.

LEE HAMILTON, CO-CHAIRMAN, 9/11 COMMISSION: When you're conducting a major investigation, you get thousands of things that come at you. You can't possibly sort through them all. This never rose to the level of a discussion within the commission.

KING: The sum: the lack of any official explanation feeds an ominous conspiracy.

This is from an online discussion about the plane on the web site 911blogger.com. "I have always thought these planes were exactly that, mission control for the 9/11 attack on our country."

The 9/11 Commissioner co-chairman Hamilton calls such talk ludicrous.

HAMILTON: We, of course, heard the conspiracy theories about the president ordered the attack and the Defense Department was involved. We saw absolutely no evidence of that.

KING: But six years later, the Pentagon, the Secret Service and the FAA all say they, at least for public consumption, have no explanation of the giant plane over the president's house just as the smoke began to rise across the river at the Pentagon.

John King, CNN, Washington.

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COOPER: Interesting.

We're going to check in shortly with Chad Myers, tracking Umberto, on the verge of turning into a hurricane. We'll be right back.

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COOPER: Chad Myers has got a story tonight, following Tropical Storm Humberto. He's got more data now and joins us once again.

Chad, what's going on?

CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: What went on, Anderson, is that this storm was supposed to make landfall around Galveston and be on land by now and be dying. Well, it didn't do that. It kind of turned to the right, so it's now still over very warm water and still strengthening.

And so as long as this thing is over water, it's going to get bigger. And as long as it goes along the coast, it's going to get bigger all night long until tomorrow morning, when it does make landfall somewhere around Port Arthur.

Now, here are the latest numbers if you're keeping track. It's only 24 miles southeast of Galveston Island. Winds are 65, and the hurricane center says, because it's still over water, it is possible this thing could get to a hurricane before it does get over Lake Charles late tomorrow morning.

Right now the winds are gusting to already 75 miles per hour. There will be a hurricane under aircraft (ph) probably in two hours or so, but right now there is not one. This is Doppler radar indicated, the Doppler out of Houston.

You can actually see far enough down to see the winds in that storm. And they say 65 with some gusts stronger than that. You can see -- you can see there's already an eye right there. P

Pretty easy to see that this storm could quickly -- if this was -- if this had another 12 hours, this could be a Category 2. Now, it doesn't. It's going to be on land way before that -- Anderson. COOPER: And does it have a lot of rain coming with it?

MYERS: Absolutely. We're going to get a lot of rain over eastern Texas, Beaumont, Port Arthur, into Lake Charles, all the way up to Shreveport. And that could cause inland flooding, which is probably more important than what we'll see, maybe a three-foot storm surge. We could see three to four feet of water in some of these big cities.

COOPER: All right, Chad, we'll keep following it. Appreciate it.

Republican president candidates went on the attack today. John McCain slamming Democratic front runner Hillary Clinton over her questioning of General David Petraeus during yesterday's Senate Armed Services Committee hearing.

Rudy Giuliani also hammered Hillary Clinton, calling her questioning of the general political venom.

Two other Republican candidates are also taking swipes. They're taking swipes at each other, actually, exposing some intra-party raw nerves, and that tops our "Raw Politics" tonight.

Here's Tom Foreman.

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FOREMAN: Republicans are struggling to regain the party discipline that makes them formidable campaigners. But a "Raw Politics" punch-up between Fred Thompson and Mitt Romney, not helping.

TINA TURNER, SINGER/ACTRESS: Welcome to another edition of "Thunderdome!"

FOREMAN: Two men enter, one man leaves. Team Thompson is furious over a web site linked indirectly to the Romney campaign. It called Thompson a "skirt-chasing, flip-flopping fancy boy trial lawyering moron." Then it got nasty.

"The Washington post" grabbed this screen before the site went dark. Romney says the site was juvenile and offensive, and no one from his campaign was behind it. Camp Thompson calls that a half- baked cover-up.

Romney is cooking in Florida with a new commercial.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mitt Romney, the innovator who created and revolutionized American businesses.

FOREMAN: Keep watching. He's lagging in national polls but leading in critical early voting states, where he has spent a bundle on targeted ads.

So why alligator land? Because he's chasing Rudy Giuliani there for a treasure chest full of delegates. Congressional Democrats from Florida and Michigan have sent a letter of complaint to the Democratic National Committee.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (screaming)

FOREMAN: As we told you, both states are moving up their primaries. The national party and the big candidates say no. The states are vowing to continue their fight to get it done any way. It's getting messy.

And Elizabeth Edwards yakking it up with Food Net royalty Rachel Ray. Ms. Ray's kitchen is becoming a yummo campaign stop, especially for the Democratic contenders.

(on camera) That's because Democrats do better than Republicans with women. And if they want the White House, they need some of Rachel Ray's viewers in their voting recipe.

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COOPER: As we've reported, President Bush is expected to announce plans tomorrow to pull out up to 30,000 troops by next summer.

You can join the best political team on TV. Our coverage starts with a special edition of "THE SITUATION ROOM" at 7 p.m. Eastern, followed by the president's speech, which is at 9.

"LARRY KING" is going to be on immediately after the speech, and then 360 going to be on at its regular time at 10. We will be live in Baghdad with all the reaction to the speech.

Coming up next, though, on the program, we're going to take you for a rare look inside a U.S. detention facility here in Baghdad. And you would think that the counterinsurgency, once these guys are detained, that the war against al Qaeda would stop inside the detention center. In many cases, it's just beginning. We'll show you why ahead.

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COOPER: One of the most surprising visits on this trip so far was the one that we took to a U.S. detention center, one of several in Iraq. It's called Camp Cropper.

We went there to get an exclusive look inside to see how the Marine in charge is trying to reduce the chances of spreading extremism and what we found is how the battle against extremism continues even behind the barbed wire walls of the facility.

Here's what we found.

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COOPER (voice-over): Sunnis rounded up in raids by the U.S. military. Cropper is home to more than 4,000 detainees, the smaller of two such facilities run by American forces.

(on camera) Since the so-called surge began, the number of Iraqis detained in U.S. custody has grown dramatically. This is another busload being brought in right now. Every day about 60 detainees are taken into U.S. custody, and U.S. facilities are almost at capacity.

There's more than 24,000 detainees being held right now.

(voice-over) Some are al Qaeda operatives, Islamic extremists. Others, Iraqi teenagers accused of helping build or plant deadly IEDs. At the request of the military, we agreed not to show their faces or speak with any of them.

MAJ. GEN. DOUGLAS STONE, U.S. MARINE CORPS: Today we're on top.

COOPER: Major General Douglas Stone is in charge of all detainees in Iraq. He's attempting to wage a counterinsurgency inside the detention centers, which in past years were prime recruiting grounds for extremists.

STONE: We're not warehousing. Now we're fighting the battle -- battlefield -- in the battlefield of the brain. We're working to help the -- help the moderates get stronger and to isolate and separate the most extreme.

COOPER: The most extreme detainees have recently been moved to a separate unit so they can't influence the moderate ones. Guarding them is one of the toughest jobs at Camp Cropper.

(on camera) Detainees are constantly making crude weapons to fight against other detainees or to attack the guards with. Here's some of the ones the guards have recently taken.

Here's, like, some crude knives made out of barbed wire. Here's another knife, someone's watch rigged up with a knife in it. These are also very common. These are slingshots and they get a piece of rock. They make the slingshot out of plastic and rebar. They can take out a guard's eye with this.

STONE: The moderates are, with the programs, taking charge of their compounds, ejecting the extremists, shoving them out, sometimes physically, and creating a compound where it is quiet, docile.

COOPER: You really see this as a battle of the brain?

STONE: This is a battle of the brain. This is -- this is where the idea of al Qaeda will be beaten. This is where the idea of extremism will be beaten.

COOPER (voice-over): More than 800 of the detainees here are juveniles. Mostly illiterate, unemployed, they're easy recruits for insurgents.

STONE: The insurgency starts right here, and if we cut this off, we can knock the knees off. COOPER: General Stone has started civics classes for them. And a moderate Islamic cleric teaches a class challenging the extremist ideology, pointing out the Koran does not permit suicide attacks or crimes against civilians.

All the detainees here will have their cases reviewed. Most will get released in under a year.

STONE: When we determine they're no longer a security risk, they go back. So they're not prisoners, they're detainees.

COOPER: General Stone hopes that, when they do return home, they retain the lessons they've learned here.

The problem is, there's not much waiting for them outside these walls. Few jobs, little hope, and the persistent pressure to once again take up arms.

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COOPER: Well, coming up tonight, my interview with General Petraeus, how he is defending his Washington testimony and what he meant when he said that he didn't know if the war in Iraq is making us safer.

Plus the latest on the path of Tropical Storm Humberto that could turn into a hurricane overnight. We're going to check in with Chad Myers in just a moment.

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