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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

Iraqi Prime Minister Speaks Out; New Evidence in Madeleine McCann Case?

Aired September 12, 2007 - 20:00   ET

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


RICK SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: We have got the secret Iraq report to share with you, but I want to show you something else.
Take a look at that little stuffed animal. See that? Is it possible that that holds the key to what really happened to Madeleine McCann?

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SANCHEZ (voice-over): It's Iraq. It's a car bomb. It's time to run.

Back home, Iraq, the war of words getting rough.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He's a minister.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He's a minister.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He's a minister.

SANCHEZ: Has anything they have said changed your mind?

Inside this trailer, a woman is tortured, allegedly by other women.

The Romney-Thompson feud. Did he see what his people are calling him?

And Britney's defenders say it's time to stop picking on her.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Leave her alone.

SANCHEZ: All this for you comes OUT IN THE OPEN.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SANCHEZ: And hello again, everybody. I'm Rick Sanchez.

Tonight, there's a report from inside the Pentagon that is different from what the president's big guns have been saying and selling. And we're going to have that in just a moment for you.

But, first, speaking of selling, General David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker making their rounds today, but it's the guys who were not in the room that are creating a problem for them, one specifically. Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. In fact, listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Dr. Crocker, what is your degree of confidence that the Maliki government will begin to do the things that we have been asking them to do for a long time?

RYAN CROCKER, UNITED STATES AMBASSADOR TO IRAQ: My level of confidence is under control.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SANCHEZ: Under control. Hardly a ringing endorsement, right?

What do you say if you're al-Maliki after hearing something like that and other comments that have been made in the past?

Let's take you now live to Baghdad. That's where my colleague Anderson Cooper sat down with the prime minister today.

Anderson, five years into this, there's no viable government, no capable army. How does he explain it?

ANDERSON COOPER, HOST, "ANDERSON COOPER 360": Well, he did what a lot of presidents do, which is blame their congress. He blamed the parliament, saying the parliament has been very slow, and he's frustrated by that as well.

He did take some of the blame for his own cabinet, for the ministers involved in his cabinet. And, surprisingly -- I expected him to kind of be defensive based on the testimony of Ambassador Crocker, but listen to what he said when I asked him about what Ambassador Crocker said, which is essentially that his own government is dysfunctional. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Ambassador Crocker did say, though, that your government was largely dysfunctional. Is the government dysfunctional?

NOURI AL-MALIKI, IRAQI PRIME MINISTER (through translator): This government is all the branches that are part of the decision-making process. Yes, there is a problem in parliament, in the ministries, in how the ministers are selected.

So, when we talk about the government, we're not only talking about the cabinet that I head. We're talking about all the parts and the mechanics of the political process. Yes, it is suffering, and it needs backing, development, and rethinking. Therefore, I'm considering reforming the cabinet on a more professional basis, independence and capabilities.

Yes, we also blame the government's current structure. It can't produce all that is required, but it was able to achieve something we can describe as a success. (END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: You know, what a lot of people don't realize is, this is a government some people say in name only. It's divided along sectarian lines. It's based upon militias, these militias with have their own private armies. It's a very complex situation here. And it's not clear Maliki can really deliver on the promises that he's now making.

SANCHEZ: Sometimes the best way to judge a person is to just look into their eyes and sense whatever it is they're sensing. When you looked into this guy's eyes, this Prime Minister al-Maliki, is he afraid; is he competent? What did you see?

COOPER: You know, it's probably beyond my purview to be judging a guy's soul. I know the president has looked into Vladimir Putin's eyes and saw his soul. I'm not that confident.

He seems like a genuine person, a good -- you know, a good- natured person, clearly. And he certainly works very hard, by all accounts. He's a hardworking person. But there's a lot that he cannot say. And there's a lot that he cannot admit to.

And it's very clear that he's not fully in control of all the things that are happening in this country. There are so many different moving pieces, it's very hard for any one person to get ahold of it.

SANCHEZ: Yes. I bet. I mean, you're right. It's a tough situation to figure out and he's got to be somewhat elusive when talk to somebody like you. And, by the way, he's been talking to a lot of people today.

Anderson, we thank you for that.

Anderson is going to have more from Iraq on "A.C. 36-" at 10:00 p.m. Eastern.

And, by the way, tomorrow, right here on CNN, you are going to hear President Bush announce the reduction of troops by 30,000 for next summer. Is that progress?

Well, tonight, we want to step back. And we want to help you see the big-picture view of troop levels throughout the war. Here's how it breaks down. In fact, let's go over to the wall, because I want to be able to let you see a timeline that we have put together.

This is May of 2003. And we're talking at that point about 143,000 troops in Iraq. That's when President Bush announced mission accomplished, those famous words that were on the banner, the end of major combat operations in Iraq. But, then by December of 2004, let's move forward. It goes down.

Now we're at 108,000 troops. This was just under 109,000 at the time. This is about the time that the insurgency was first starting. So expect a jump. And you're going to get it right here. Let's go on to the next part of this.

Now we're in January 2007, 137,000 troops. This is when President Bush announced the so-called surge needed to take place. And today, move forward one more time, 168,000 U.S. troop levels are at that level. This is where it is now. But if we look ahead now, to July of 2008, if Petraeus' plan is approved, we will be back down to about 138,000 troops, back where it was actually before the surge.

Now, that's what they say. But what do the guys behind the scenes at the Pentagon actually say? This is important.

Michael Hirsh is a senior editor with "Newsweek" magazine. Michael is actually writing that there's another plan. In fact, this plan differs substantially from what Petraeus has been saying throughout the week.

Michael, thanks so much for joining us.

How does the plan that you have become privy to differ substantially from what General Petraeus has been saying?

MICHAEL HIRSH, "NEWSWEEK": Well, it calls for a much more dramatic drawdown. This is a working group in the Pentagon that has been addressing this issue very quietly. This is not a public report of the kind Petraeus is delivering, but it's evidence that back at the Pentagon, within the military services, there's considerable dissent over whether the Petraeus plan and the intention to keep 130,000 or more troops in Iraq for an indefinite period is a wise course.

(CROSSTALK)

SANCHEZ: Well, let's cut to the chase here and quantify this somewhat. Let's look at some numbers. I think this is illustrative for viewers.

You're saying or they're telling you, two-thirds of the troops may be removed quicker than they say. Two--thirds, Michael, that's more than 100,000 troops. That's a big number.

HIRSH: Right. Well, that's what some of these planners would like to see. We know that there are some senior generals within the military services, particular Admiral Fallon, who is head of CENTCOM, the first admiral to become such, who do not like the slow pace of the Petraeus plan.

This is an alternative view that we're talking about here that is being introduced at the Pentagon. And I think it's going to become part of the discussion.

SANCHEZ: Here is what is interesting about this discussion. Who are the guys inside the Pentagon that are saying things very different from what is being presented to the general public? And why are they saying this? Is there a dysfunction going on within the military at this time?

HIRSH: Well, there is very deep and abiding concern over the strain that is being put on our all-volunteer military.

And the idea that Petraeus is suggesting five brigades will be drawn down to a pre-surge level of about 130,000 troops by July 2008 is not just because he thinks that's where they're going to be in terms of progress. It's also because he recognizes, as any general does, as any senior officer working in the military does, that the Army can't stand the strain.

You're putting a lot of these soldiers and officers and noncommissioned officers into their third or fourth rotations. They simply cannot stand to do this. The Army isn't large enough. And that's part of the problem and that's one of the reasons why you're hearing so much dissent inside the Pentagon.

SANCHEZ: That's a big problem, by the way.

Michael Hirsh, good reporting. Thanks so much for sharing that with us.

Now to a look at the sales job itself. Give me just a little more time. Who is saying that? The chairman of the board. Now, who is getting the American people to buy into that? Our commander in chief. And here is how.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SANCHEZ (voice-over): Just for a moment, forget about the Iraq war. This is a P.R. war. And these are the men on the front line, General David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker, smiling, shaking hands, looking into the cameras, lots of cameras, making their pitch for more time.

CROCKER: This process will not be quick. It will be uneven, punctuated by setbacks, as well as achievements.

GENERAL DAVID PETRAEUS, COMMANDING GENERAL OF THE MULTI-NATIONAL FORCE-IRAQ: Our experience in Iraq has repeatedly shown that projecting too far into the future is not just difficult. It can be misleading and even hazardous.

SANCHEZ: Sixteen hours of Capitol Hill testimony over two grueling days, cameras everywhere, VIPs everywhere, skeptics everywhere.

REP. IKE SKELTON (D), MISSOURI: Please remove them.

SANCHEZ: Today, they take their pitch directly to Americans, through the media. First, a morning news conference.

CROCKER: There are no magic switches to flip in Iraq.

PETRAEUS: Frankly, if any of you were in my shoes, I think you would probably recommend the same thing.

SANCHEZ: Next, one-on-one with network correspondents.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you for your time.

PETRAEUS: Sure. You bet.

PETRAEUS: And we have huge security interests wrapped up in Iraq.

SANCHEZ: And face time, plenty of it, on the nightly news.

PETRAEUS: And it is hugely important that we help Iraq get it right.

SANCHEZ: This is the selling of war 101. Now comes the even harder part, winning the war.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SANCHEZ: Joining us now, two guys who know something about this.

Harvard University professor David Gergen has worked in the White House, advising both Democratic and Republican presidents. He's there on the left. Mike Paul is the president and senior counselor of MGP and Associates. That's a public relations firm.

David, let's start with you.

Thanks, by the way, to both of you for being with us.

Are they doing this right?

DAVID GERGEN, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL ADVISER: Well, I must say that six months ago, we all thought that, by now, in September, October, there would be a huge debate in the Congress and the Congress would force a change in strategy on the president, that there would be a rapid withdrawal of troops and the purpose of the troops, they would stop being combat troops and start training Iraqis primarily.

And I think that despite all the frustrations, despite the failures on the political front in particular, General Petraeus has turned out to be the best single weapon that George W. Bush has had in convincing a skeptical Congress to give the president more time. He's had much more credibility on Capitol Hill than the president has anymore.

SANCHEZ: In fact, in fact, David, we have got a poll that we can put up.

Will, see if you can find that poll that we were looking at just a little while ago. Have we got it there?

The American people asked in this poll, who do you trust most to resolve the war in Iraq? Let's look at this from the bottom up, because I think it's interesting and quite revealing. The Bush administration, 5 percent, 5 percent. Congress, 21 percent, not that much better. And look at military leaders, 68 percent.

You say what to that? (CROSSTALK)

GERGEN: Absolutely remarkable. Absolutely remarkable. And when you get 12 times more support for military credibility than for the president's own credibility...

SANCHEZ: You have got a problem, right?

GERGEN: Right.

MIKE PAUL, PUBLIC RELATIONS CONSULTANT: Yes, but let me say this in their defense.

There are two things that are very strong here. Number one, this is a third-party endorsee. These are the experts, the generals that are on the ground. The American people are saying, as well as Congress, by the way, are saying, we want to hear from the guys that are out there that actually do this. We don't want to hear the spin. We don't want to hear inside the beltway, number one.

Number two...

SANCHEZ: But is Petraeus that guy? Is he the guy who is actually out there or is he the guy who has been assigned by the White House to present the sell job?

PAUL: Petraeus is that guy.

SANCHEZ: All right.

PAUL: He has that experience. He's out there with his men. He's finding out what is happening on a day-to-day basis. And that is what the American people want to trust.

So, to me, this makes a lot of sense.

SANCHEZ: How do you sell a lousy product, though? And you're in the P.R. business. So, this is a lousy product. That statistic, if nothing else, proves that. How do you do that?

PAUL: Well, I also work in crisis P.R. And this is certainly a crisis.

One of the things that you have to do is, you have to lean on the experts from the outside. And that's exactly what the president is doing. There's no mistake here by him reaching out to Petraeus.

SANCHEZ: But here is the thing, David. Petraeus has been kind of the setup guy for the president. He's been doing his job all this week, and tomorrow, the president takes his message to the American people. Has the setup guy done enough to clear the ground for the president?

GERGEN: Not for the president. If anything, I think the president's speech tomorrow night is going to probably be anti- climactic, that the real news this week was General Petraeus. That's what going to be the memorable part of the week. And the president apparently doesn't have much new to say.

Now, if he were to endorse the Michael Hirsh report and what was presented there, that would be significant and he would change the whole conversation.

(CROSSTALK)

GERGEN: But let me just add, this is not just about P.R. I think that's a mistake to say that, to see this just as a P.R. offensive.

General Petraeus wouldn't have anywhere near the credibility he has right now on this issue were it not for the fact that there are some changes on the ground at last. We have been talking for years about how bad things are going on the ground. He's at least got some news that sort of gives you pause and say, well, maybe there's a way out of this. Maybe we're not heading toward a horrendous...

(CROSSTALK)

SANCHEZ: David, that's a great point.

PAUL: He also has a lot of credibility because he's also saying that he has a lot more work to do. Every single message is showing that he can be trusted. And I think trust is the key message by saying there's a lot more work that needs to be done.

GERGEN: I agree with...

(CROSSTALK)

SANCHEZ: Mike Paul, David Gergen, we are going to have to leave it there. We will get you both back. Good conversation. We certainly appreciate it.

The president speaks to the nation, as you just heard, at 9:00 p.m. Eastern tomorrow. But tune in at 7:00 Eastern for a special edition of THE SITUATION ROOM. You will see it right here on CNN.

You can depend on us to bring you some of the better video clips of the day. And now we have got one out of Iraq, so you can see what soldiers are going through here.

Go ahead, Will. Let's show them this one. This is a car that could have been used by probably some insurgents with car bombs to blow it up. We're going to see it one more time. And I'm going to let you listen to it. There it goes. They had all kinds of explosives inside there. They found it on an insurgent farm, 5,000 mortar rounds, 1,500 rockets on this farm near Fallujah.

A 4-year-old girl is missing. Is her mother holding the clue that will break open the Madeleine McCann case? That's next.

Later, would-be president stooping to name-calling?

And then, run, fast. We will bring it to you and tell you what's going on.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SANCHEZ: We welcome you back. And we're OUT IN THE OPEN.

And, tonight, there's a new phase in the search for Madeleine McCann. The girl's parents are the principal suspects. The 4-year- old disappeared while her family was vacationing in Portugal. And now we hear 10 boxes of evidence that may implicate her parents have been handed over to a judge.

We're covering the story from two angles tonight. Emily Chang is in the McCann hometown in England. And Paula Hancocks is in Portugal with the latest on the investigation. That is where we're going to start for you.

Paula, 10 boxes of evidence. It makes it sound like they would have, at least on its face, a pretty big case. Is that a fair assessment?

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Rick, this investigation has been going on more than four months already. It was back on May the 3rd that Madeleine was first reported missing, and certainly, we know that both Kate and Gerry McCann, the parents of Madeleine, have undergone some intense questioning.

Just last Thursday, Kate had 11 hours with the police, then followed by another five hours on the Friday. Gerry had eight hours, before they were both named formal suspects. So, certainly, there was an incredible amount of paperwork to be going through. And this is what the judge is going through at the moment.

Now, we know he is going to decide on whether or not to approve a request or requests from the prosecutor. Now, there are unconfirmed British media reports that said the prosecutor and the police want to look at Kate McCann's diary. But, of course, at this point, neither the police nor the McCanns can officially comment, as they're both legally bound by the secrecy law here in Portugal.

Now, the other sort of things that the prosecutor could actually ask the judge for is if they want to search another property, another area, if they want to tap phones, and also if they actually want to change the status of these arguidos, or formal suspects, as Kate and Gerry are -- Rick.

SANCHEZ: There's a lot of evidentiary information. We're going to be getting into that a little bit more.

Paula Hancocks, thanks so much.

Now let's take you to England. Emily Chang is in the McCanns' hometown of Rothley.

You know, Emily, what is interesting about this case is, when you look at these two -- and I think that's why so many Americans are so wrapped up into this thing, they -- they look like something on the cover of "Parenting" magazine.

I imagine you have had a chance to talk to a lot of people there in their hometown. How do they describe them?

EMILY CHANG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Rick, by all accounts, the McCanns are a very quiet, normal, middle-class family. Both Kate and Gerry McCann came from working-class backgrounds. They worked their way up. They became doctors, very successful doctors.

Kate McCann is a general practitioner here in town. Gerry McCann is a consultant cardiologist, a very well-respected consultant cardiologist. And they're both very devout Catholics. And, by all accounts, they have created what seems to be a very idyllic life for themselves and their three children.

SANCHEZ: You wonder as you look at this situation whether anybody there in their hometown has come out and said anything at all negative about them or even wondered, or are they standing behind them 100 percent at this point?

CHANG: Well, certainly, everybody has their own opinion, but over the last four months, the people here in Rothley have been overwhelmingly supportive of the McCanns.

But I would definitely say that over the last week or so, since the McCanns were named as formal suspects, people here have stopped wanting to talk about it. They were very friendly with the media initially, because they knew we had to be here if the search for Madeleine was going to continue.

But, recently, I would say people are very confused. They found the recent developments quite unnerving. People you talk to will say, instead of the fact that they're supporting them, they will say instead that they're keeping an open mind. But, of course, everybody has their own opinion.

SANCHEZ: Yes, it sounds like they're a little more guarded now than they were at the beginning.

Emily Chang, good job, with Paula Hancocks as well. Thanks for those reports.

Now, on the other side of the break, we're going to stay with this story. Is there enough evidence in this case? Is there new evidence? We're going to break that down for you.

Later, the presidential campaign gets rough, a Web page called phonyfred, dirty tricks, name-calling?

Then, was a woman tortured inside this trailer, and did another woman do it? We will have that for you.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SANCHEZ: And we welcome you back.

We're talking about the missing little British girl Madeleine McCann, who vanished while on vacation in Portugal with her parents.

Now the evidence in the case, a stuffed animal, hair samples in a rented car, DNA in the apartment where her parents were vacationing in Portugal. Let's try and break this down for you.

Jay Fahy is a criminal defense attorney and former prosecutor. And Stan Katz is a clinical and forensic psychologist.

Thanks to both of you for being with us.

Dr. Katz, I'm going to start with you, because a lot of people are looking at the mother in this case and wondering whether possibly she could be hiding something. I'm going to let them and you see this piece of tape. We will talk about it on the other side. Here we go.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KATE MCCANN, MOTHER OF MADELEINE MCCANN: Please, please, do not hurt her. Please do not 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.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SANCHEZ: Dr. Katz, people always want to know in a case like this, is there anything you recognize or anything you have seen so far that would lead you to believe that she's in any way trying to deceive us?

STAN KATZ, CLINICAL AND FORENSIC PSYCHOLOGIST: You know, Rick, I'm perplexed by this case. She does not fit the profile of a woman who would abuse a child, let alone murder a child. The father doesn't fit the profile either.

(CROSSTALK)

SANCHEZ: Let me just stop you. What if it was an accident?

KATZ: OK. A tragic accident.

Well, let me say this. Even if there was a tragic accident, these are two physicians. I think they still -- and they're devout Catholics -- I think they would have called for help. I think they would have influenced each other to do the right thing.

(CROSSTALK)

KATZ: I'm just confused by this case.

SANCHEZ: OK. Let me help you. Would doctors be a little more sensitive to perhaps overmedication or the use of sedative, as has been reported in at least one newspaper in Portugal? Would they react differently then, according to your experience, Doctor?

KATZ: Well, but, Rick, here is the question. What is the motive here? If it's not an accident, I find no motive at all. If there was an accident, then the question is, why did they cover it up?

Certainly, they have the tools. They're physicians. They know about child abuse, know about reporting, know about accidents. The question is, what was their motive here? And there's nothing in the history that I have read or seen that suggests in any way these people have any kind of history of violence, of criminal history, of being isolated, being alienated from the community. They're educated people. It just doesn't make sense.

SANCHEZ: OK. All right.

Let's bring in our prosecutor and defense attorney here, Jay Fahy.

How do you read this? And what about the possibility that maybe it was an accident and they panicked?

JAY FAHY, FORMER PROSECUTOR: That's my suspicion.

What I think happened, according to the newspaper report about -- perhaps they overmedicated the child. They may have come home. They found their child dead. If the child was still alive, I'm sure they would have done the right medical things.

SANCHEZ: And parents do this. I mean, look, we use Motrin on our children sometimes when we know we're going to be going on a trip or when we know they're going to be in an uncomfortable situation.

But I'm not a doctor. So, I use those little baby Motrin. And that seems to do the job. There's a possibility, if you're a medical professional, that you will know how to use, what, stronger stuff?

FAHY: Stronger stuff. Or there was a suggestion in that article that they may have given them stronger stuff to knock them out, so they could go out for dinner and would haven't to worry about baby- sitting and would know that they would be safe.

SANCHEZ: That's fascinating, but that's a big leap to say you made a mistake and then you're going to hide the body and go through all kinds of rigmarole after that.

FAHY: It is a big leap.

Well, let's follow -- let's just -- let's use that as a premise. And maybe it's not a fair premise. But, if that's what happens, they now come home. Their child is dead. Their entire lives are ruined and the lives of their two twin children are also ruined.

Devout Catholic or not, they could seek -- and I'm not trying to being facetious here. I'm a Roman Catholic myself. They get penance. They can go to penance and they can go to church. A priest can forgive them. Whether they would go to the authorities or not is a completely different issue.

SANCHEZ: That's a tough question.

Let's talk about the evidence real quick. We have got about 40 seconds left here.

Ten boxes, that's a lot of stuff. And now they're looking, apparently, at a stuffed animal that they want to look for fibers in. They have got a diary that they want to look at. They have got some DNA that they found in the apartment. I'll give you each a shot at this. I'll start with you, doctor, do you see enough evidence here to make a case at this point?

STAN KATZ, FORENSIC AND CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGIST: I don't see enough evidence, although I haven't reviewed it myself. I think what we have here is a situation where we're desperate to find out what happened to this child. I think they're looking everywhere and I just don't think these parents fit the profile whatsoever, but I think if they even overmedicated, I just want to go to that one point, I think that probably when they came home they would have found that child comatose, they would have called for an ambulance. I don't think child would have been dead if that happened ....

SANCHEZ: That's -- Jay, we have 10 seconds left.

FAHY: The DNA evidence, the hair evidence in the boot of that car is overwhelming. A body or that child was in the car 25 days after reported missing.

SANCHEZ: So if the evidence is good, you think they have got a case.

FAHY: They've got a great case.

SANCHEZ: We'll bring you back. Jay Fahy and Dr. Stan Katz, my thanks to both of you. I'm going to be back in just a couple minutes.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: As a mother, I am horrified. And like I said, I don't understand how anyone could go to the lengths they did, you know, things they done to my daughter.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SANCHEZ: Next, a mother's outrage. A trailer, and a horrible crime.

Also, a defendant gets an attitude adjustment. This one, it's shocking.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SANCHEZ: We have got breaking news coming to us now out of Jakarta. There's been another earthquake here. This follows the one we told you about here earlier this morning. Now just for comparative measure here, let's tell you what the difference is. This is 7.5. Not being called an after shock. This is being called a bona fide earthquake, 115 might south-southeast of Pudan (ph). The one this morning was 8.4 quake. It struck off western Indonesia. Now obviously, what's the big concern as we look at the pictures? The big concern is the possibility of a tsunami. And at this point, we understand, and this is information that we have been able to confirm, that there's a tsunami warning in effect at this point, after this other new powerful earthquake struck the island of Sumatra. So we'll get this information. We'll continue to follow this. If we get any news on the possibility of a tsunami affecting some of the folks there, we'll take you there and bring you the latest information.

Meanwhile, another story we're following here, a surprising turn on the presidential race on the Republican side, anyway. Look at the new CNN/Public Opinion Research poll. Giuliani and "Law & Order" star Fred Thompson are basically tied. That's a huge difference since before Thompson entered the race last week. Thompson jumped seven percent. Look who comes in a distant third and fourth. John McCain and then Mitt Romney.

Now it looks like Thompson has some people so scared they're turning to mudslinging at this point. Who? Well, we'll get into that. It's the modern way of mudslinging, though, because we're talking about the internet. In fact, check out this Web page. This is from phoneyfred.org. That's what it's called. It's a site devoted to attacking Thompson's personal life and his politics. The site has been taken down, by the way, but it was so nasty, in fact, Romney's campaign is telling anyone who will listen, we, the Romney camp, had nothing to do with this.

That's not what they say on the other side, except the guy who created the Web site is in business with one of Romney's top advisers in South Carolina. Let's talk politics now. Frank Donatelli, he is a former adviser to President Reagan.

Thanks so much, Frank, for joining us. Let's try to break this down for the viewer. Because I think it gets a little confusing. The guy who apparently put this information out is a guy who worked as a consultant for somebody who worked as a consultant for Romney. His name is Wesley Donohue (ph). This firm was paid thousands and thousands of dollars. That's the background. From the Romney camp, by the way. Is that enough for us to go on to assume that they may have had some connection to Romney in doing something like this or do these things just happen as rogue acts?

FRANK DONATELLI, FORMER ADVISER TO PRESIDENT REAGAN: Rick, it may be true that the high command of Romney campaign didn't know anything about this, but if indeed someone who is on the payroll of one of the consultants to the campaign put this up, I think that there is some culpability on the part of the Romney campaign. And my advice would be to cut ties immediately because it's not going to get any better. This is going to continue as a story.

SANCHEZ: Cut ties all together. That's interesting you would say that. As a matter of fact, will, let's go to the big wall. Sometimes you have to look at these things. We can't take you to the Internet and take you through it. So we kind of broke it down for you this way. That's what it looks like. That's the banner of what this Web site looks like. Phoney Fred. Then it has different segments, across the top, Hollywood Fred, Washington Fred, Pimp Fred, McCain Fred.

Come on back. Look down here. We pulled this out of the actual Web site, flip-flop Fred, moron Fred, trial lawyer Fred. Frank, this is vicious stuff, isn't it?

DONATELLI: Yeah. It really is. It strikes me on the one hand that it's really lame for all of the reasons that you just outlined. On the other hand, it's sophisticated in the sense the content is pretty well developed. There's a lot of votes in there, a lot of information about the background and so forth and so on. But I think what is most objectionable about this is no one takes credit for it. There's no identification of who is responsible. If you want to launch an attack on an opponent, I think that's justifiable, but the first rule is you should take the heat for that. You should stand behind the charges.

And these kinds of anonymous charges, really, I think, are not what politics should be about.

SANCHEZ: This is not one of the cases where we don't know who did it or we think one candidate did it to set up the other guy. For example, maybe Thompson's guys did it to say, oh my God, we're the victims here. The fact that we know who this person is at least makes it look like there's some culpability that the Romney camp needs to deal with, right, whether they did it on purpose or not.

DONATELLI: No, no. I agree with that. I think there's culpability here. And I think it's up to the campaign to deal with it quickly. It's not going to get any better.

SANCHEZ: Frank Donatelli, good stuff. We appreciate your information on this. Thank you.

DONATELLI: Thanks very much.

SANCHEZ: A horrible crime OUT IN THE OPEN. Police say this trailer is where one woman was tortured by other women. And three other men.

Later, why a little boy is asking, am I in heaven?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SANCHEZ: And we welcome back. I'm Rick Sanchez. There's really an appalling story that's coming out of West Virginia tonight. Police are saying a young woman was tortured and sexually assaulted for days in a trailer home on a remote hillside. Six people are under arrest. Three of them are women. The details of the case are shocking. We sent Deborah Feyerick to West Virginia to get the facts.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): No one understands how 20-year-old Megan Williams could have possibly become a victim of these six men and women. Police say the group allegedly kidnapped, raped, stabbed, and tortured the woman over a week's time. CARMEN WILLIAMS, VICTIM'S MOTHER: She wakes up crying and the first thing she hollered is mommy.

FEYERICK: Local authorities are investigating what role race may have played in the alleged attack. Megan Williams is black. Her alleged attackers, white. Officials say one suspect who butchered the victim's hair also made repeated racial slurs.

WILLIAMS: I don't understand how anyone could go to the lengths they did, you know, things that they done to my daughter. It's just horrifying.

FEYERICK (on camera): There are allegations she was forced to eat rat and dog feces.

BRIAN ABRAHAM, LOGAN COUNTY PROSECUTOR: It's hard to imagine. It's something you see in a horror movie. Not expect to see in Logan County.

FEYERICK (voice-over): All of the suspects have had many prior run-ins with the police, including 49 year old Frankie Brewster, who served five years in prison for voluntary manslaughter. All are in jail pending charges, none have made statements. The chief prosecutor Brian Abraham says he's seeking maximum prison time, up to life for the allegations of kidnapping.

ABRAHAM: She was subjected to what would be unendurable torture down there.

FEYERICK: The prosecutor says Williams had been to this house before and may have been romantically involved with one of the suspects, Bobby Brewster. Back in July, he was charged with beating her. In these latest allegations, police say Brewster raped Williams, forced her to lick blood, drink from the toilet, and told his mother Frankie to kill her as she tries to escape.

Defense attorney Joe Spradling has represented two suspects in the past.

JOE SPRADLING, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: I think there's some racial component, but the biggest factor is drugs.

FEYERICK (on camera): The nightmare ended when sheriff's deputies were tipped off by an anonymous caller. They found Frankie Brewster sitting on the porch of her trailer home. She told them she was alone, but then one of the officers noticed the victim inside, limping towards the door, pleading for help.

(voice-over): Carmen Williams had not reporting her daughter missing, saying she often disappeared for weeks at a time. Megan Williams who went public with the attack as a warning to others, is trying to recover as best she can. Deborah Feyerick, CNN, Logan, West Virginia.

(END VIDEOTAPE) SANCHEZ: Well, we did a little checking ourselves on these people and found rap sheets like you have never seen before. In fact, Will, start rolling this thing. It's so long we can't show all of this to you, but you can see what they may have done in the past, either charges that have been filed against them or actual convictions in their cases. Bringing us now as we look at this is Stan Katz again, he is the clinical and forensic psychologist.

We're looking at this wall and we're seeing people who aren't like seemingly anybody else. I mean, at what point -- how do you describe these people? Are they given up, do they not care? Are they totally on the other side?

KATZ: You know, Rick, I thing these are career criminals who become monsters by their own making. And I think that they don't have a conscience. They have rejected all social mores and ethics which allows them, and they degrade people. It allows them to behave in a degrading way. If they call people like this victim names, it allows them to dehumanize her and exploit her, and I think that these are people who have not been successfully rehabilitated at all as a function of our criminal system which does not successfully treat the problems of these antisocial personalities.

SANCHEZ: Talk about antisocial personalities. As horrible as all of this is, maybe it would be somewhat understandable if it was men attacking a woman. This is a mother with her son, another mother with her daughter, involved in this, according to police. What say you about that?

KATZ: Well, you know, women usually are not career criminals. However, there are a few who have taken on sort of the characteristics and traits men have because of their own abuse and own neglect. Sometimes they're always also under the effect of other men or possibly under the influence of drugs and alcohol. All those factors could have played a role.

SANCHEZ: That's interesting. Because what they did reminds me of other torture cases we have heard in the case. As horrible as it is to say it, even Abu Ghraib. That's thing this called group think. Things you would never do by yourself you might do if you are being encouraged by others, if you are in another group. You think that possibly might have had something do with this?

KATZ: Absolutely. Individuals are more aggressive in a group always. That's because of the support and camaraderie of the group members. It's because they can suspend their identity and take on the group identity. And also because they can model. Somebody acts out and they say it's appropriate and they show how to do it and then they do it. There is a suspension of all morals and ethics. The group supersedes any individuality, any kind of consciousness or conscience that the individual has about the morality of their acts.

SANCHEZ: These charges are amazing, like nothing we have seen around here in long time. Dr. Stan Katz, thanks for being with us, sir.

KATZ: Thank you.

SANCHEZ: You can depend on us to bring you some of the better video picks of the day. And this one, well, who better than to have Rick Sanchez show you a story about tasering?

This guy falls down in court after trying to kick somebody. The officer in the back, see him, he tries to taser him, but instead he tasers his own police officer. He goes down, gets back up.

There's a slow motion shot of what he did to deserve the taser. And by the way, he's arrested because he tried to rob a Catholic church during mass. So they take him out of the courtroom, right, and they decide they're doing going to bring him back in. That's what he looks like when they bring him back in. Pretty well covered. You thing now he would probably shut up. No. He starts barking out commands at the officers and his prosecutor and the defense attorney, and it goes on and on.

Up next, a five-year-old boy's incredible journey. From the violent streets of Baghdad to Los Angeles. We'll bring it to you. We'll have it right here.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SANCHEZ: We have more information on the breaking news story we have been following. The information is coming out of Jakarta. You can see it right there. This is not far from Banda Aceh and some of the other tsunamis, the real bad tsunami that we told you about two years ago. Here is what we know right now. The Indonesian government has just issued a tsunami warning after another possible earthquake. They're not calling this an aftershock. They're calling this another earthquake struck near the island of Sumatra. Australia, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, are all being warned about the possibility of a tsunami at this point.

And keep in mind there was another incident earlier today of another earthquake. That was 8.4. And by the way, that one did create a small rise in sea levels of about 1 1/2 to 2 feet. We're waiting to see what kind of affect there is from that one. As soon as we know we'll bring you that information. Stay tuned here to CNN.

Now this story. Imagine raising a child in a war zone. And now imagine that child becoming the victim of a brutal attack that leaves him disfigured with doctors scarcely around. For tonight's "Vital Signs," I want to tell you the story of an innocent Iraqi boy you're not likely to forget anytime soon.

His name is Youssif, and he's come to America for treatment in a burn center. First go ahead and go to the wall. I want to show you some pictures out here. This is the little boy, what he looked like before he was injured. Cute little kid. Smiling. Young man.

But back in January, as of this year, masked men in Baghdad grabbed him, and that's what happened. They threw gasoline on his face, they set him on fire, leaving him terribly disfigured as you can see. His father tried desperately to try to get him help. Well, after striking out everywhere, he came to CNN and Baghdad correspondent Arwa Damon who shared Youssif's tragic story with the rest of the world. That inspired a tremendous outpouring of compassion and donations, enough to let his family come to the United States for reconstructive surgery, we're proud to say.

Arwa Damon joined Youssif and his family on their flight to America and she is with us now, joining us from Los Angeles. I understand he said something when he first arrived in the United States like, what, am I in heaven? Did he really say that?

ARWA DAMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Not only him, Rick, the entire family was saying that. I really can't put into words how amazing it was to watch them go through this utterly incredible journey, especially when you think about what they have been through and the kind of place they came from, living in this one-room home in a very violent Baghdad street, waking up to gunshots, explosions 24 hours a day, and then coming to America, something that they never really dreamed was actually going to come true.

Of course, all of this inspired by Youssif's father's courage to try to find his son help, and largely in part because of the outpouring of support, the Children's Burn Foundation that is putting forward all of the money, financing the entire family throughout their stay here, Grossman Burn Center where the surgeries are going to be taken place by Dr. Peter Grossman, and then all of the donations from the viewers. The father, Youssif's father, who we're not naming because of security purposes said today that this wasn't so much a trip from Iraq to America, but a trip from being dead to all of a sudden feeling alive.

His mother also echoing the sentiment as we were driving through the streets here in Los Angeles. She was looking at the greenery, the trees, the cars, just drawing it all in. Saying we don't have sights like this. This is paradise on earth. The family is so overwhelmed by what they're going through that it really is such a pleasure to watch a family that has suffered at least be able to have these moments of happiness, Rick.

SANCHEZ: I was looking at his face and I notice he has scar tissue all over his face. Are doctors going to try to remove that? What are they going to do? What do they say his prognosis is?

DAMON: Well, he was actually seen today for the first time by Dr. Peter Grossman who has performed miracles on other burn victims in the past and he's estimating about eight to ten surgeries over a course of six to nine months. Varying in their intricacy and how complicated they're going to be.

For example, if you look at the burn tissue on his nose, that's going to be removed, and then for a period of about three days, they're going to put skin from a cadaver, remove that, and replace it with some of his own skin. If you look at the heavy scarring around his chin, what they're going to do there is put sort of a balloon into his chin to inflate the healthy skin and then pull that over the scar tissue. Really lot of surgeries in front of this young child, but he will have the strength come through it, as will his entire family supporting him, everyone really supporting this little boy out here.

SANCHEZ: It's funny, Arwa, I have been watching you work for the last year or two, and with all of the death and destruction you have seen, nice to be able to do a story like that. Job well done, Arwa Damon. We'll be right back. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SANCHEZ: After a tough week, Britney Spears has a defender. His name is Chris Crocker. Here he goes.

I guess there he went. Somebody's got to do it, right? We'll get it right. Thanks for being with us. Here's Larry.

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