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CNN ELECTION CENTER

Outrage at China; No Quick Exit From Iraq?; A Look Inside FLDS Polygamous Sect

Aired April 9, 2008 - 20:00   ET

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


CAMPBELL BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: Tonight: An Olympic tradition gets burned. Massive protests disrupt the running of the Olympic torch in San Francisco, forcing the debate over China and human rights on to the presidential campaign trail.
Also, the general's message about the war. Democrats may have to come to terms with the fact that there is no quick exit from Iraq.

And a Texas outrage becomes a national issue, polygamy and allegations of child abuse going on right under the noses of our country's most powerful politicians.

But we do begin tonight in San Francisco.

Instead of us celebrating the Olympic torch marathon, it has been a day of protests, confusion and a massive show of force by police. The Olympic torch did make it through the streets, but only because of a last-minute decision not to take it anywhere near the planned route and the thousands of demonstrators who were waiting along the way.

There were minor scuffles all day, but the city seems to have avoided a repeat of the violence we saw when the torch was in London and Paris just a few days ago.

San Francisco is the torch's only North American stop on a worldwide tour leading up to the Summer Olympics in Beijing. And the marathon has become a magnet for protests of China's record on human rights.

Dan Simon has been watching today's dramatic events in San Francisco. On the other side of the globe, our own John Vause is in Beijing keeping an eye on what the Chinese government is letting its people see of all of these protests. And CNN world affairs analyst Fareed Zakaria is with me here with me in the ELECTION CENTER.

So, I want to go to you, John, first in Beijing.

And give us a sense of how this is being interpreted there, whether or not they're getting any information about it or whether much of the protests that we're seeing are being censored.

JOHN VAUSE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, the state-run television here, CCTV, did not broadcast the torch relay live. And we have not seen no pictures so far on any of the newscasts.

There has been some initial reporting here by the state news agency Xinhua. The English version did say that a few Tibetan separatists tried to disrupt the relay by grabbing the torch, but ultimately thousands were there to cheer and show their support for the Olympic flame.

The Chinese-language version of Xinhua didn't even mention the Tibetan separatists. And they only said the torch relay route was cut in half because of security concerns. So, essentially the message here is still being very much controlled. We saw this after London. We saw this after Paris, Campbell.

BROWN: And, Dan, give us your sense. You were on the ground in San Francisco all day. What was it like?

DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, the city was really put in an unwinnable situation here. There were so many protesters on the ground. There was so much anticipation for this relay to take place, that the protesters were really in place to really create a situation here.

We were here at Justin Herman Plaza, and there were thousands and thousands of pro-Chinese supporters here eagerly anticipating a closing ceremony here. The torch was supposed to make its way to this area. They were going to have some pomp and circumstance. They were very disappointed, because that didn't happen. They had to change the route. They had to change the closing ceremony.

In fact, we're told that the torch is now at the airport, and that they're going -- there's going to be some sort of ceremony there, and then it's headed out of town to Buenos Aires, Argentina.

BROWN: And, Dan, you mentioned that they're not all protesters who were out in force, who are these people? What are they talking about?

SIMON: From my perspective, most of these folks are pro-Tibet people and they have really staged a massive global P.R. campaign. Because the Olympics are being held in Beijing, they realize they had an opportunity here to really make a mark. And the fact that the relay cities are publicized so well in advance, they really had an opportunity to mobilize and put people, quite frankly, all over the world.

What we saw in San Francisco a couple of days ago was just the tip of the iceberg, where you had three people scale the Golden Gate Bridge and unleash some banners. And we're told that those people, students actually, planned for that event a year in advance. So, this is well in the making.

BROWN: All right, and Fareed here in the studio with me, give us a quick history lesson, a TV history lesson, if you will, 20 seconds or less, the relationship between China and Tibet and why it's driving these sort of protests.

FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN WORLD AFFAIRS ANALYST: Well, Tibet has -- a long time ago, there was a Tibetan empire which was much larger than the region of Tibet that exists now. But the Chinese in effect militarily took it over in the '50s. The Dalai Lama fled to India, where he has been in exile ever since. And ever since then, it has been a thorn in the Chinese side, in the Chinese Communist Party's side.

The problem for the Chinese -- for us to understand is that this is an issue that is really not the Chinese government against its own people, but in many cases the Chinese people against a Tibetan minority. As one of the correspondents said, the vast majority of people probably who were there for these rallies were the pro-Beijing government on this issue.

By and large, Beijing can count on 80 percent to 90 percent support among the Chinese people on the issue of Tibet, maybe not on other issues, but on the issue of Tibet, the Chinese government is actually reflecting the will of the Chinese people.

BROWN: All right, we're going to talk more about that after the break, so everybody stay with us.

China is front and center on the campaign trail today as well. The huge protests have both Senators Clinton and Obama talking tough. But is that a smart move against a major trade partner?

And then later, why some of our national leaders turn a blind eye to polygamy, even when it's in their own backyard.

We will be back right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BROWN: We're talking about the political repercussions of today's massive protests in San Francisco that disrupted today's Olympic torch relay. The torch's 85,000-mile, 20-nation journey is the longest in Olympic history. And its next stop is Buenos Aires in Argentina, then a dozen other countries, before arriving in China on May 4.

The Olympics begin on August 8. And there is now speculation that the International Olympic Committee may eliminate some of the stops because of the widespread protests over China's human rights record.

The Democratic presidential candidates are also speaking out about it.

Let's go back to our guys. We have got Dan Simon out in San Francisco, John Vause in Beijing, and CNN world affairs analyst Fareed Zakaria with me here in New York.

Let me start with you, Fareed.

And I want to talk about the politics of this. You have got President Bush under a little bit of pressure, along with a number of other world leaders, to boycott opening ceremonies. Hillary Clinton is calling for him to do it, Barack Obama, not quite, but sort of pushing the envelope a little on that.

Let's listen to what they had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I believe that the president should not attend the opening ceremonies, because that is giving a seal of approval by our United States government.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If we are running huge deficits and big national debts, and we're borrowing money constantly from China, that gives us less leverage. It gives us less leverage to talk about human rights.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BROWN: So, my question to you, A, do you think the Bush administration, the president, would opt to boycott? And, B, would China even care? Does it really send a message?

ZAKARIA: I doubt very much President Bush would boycott. And China would care enormously.

Look, the Chinese view the Olympics as their global coming-out party. This is a big deal for China, and not just the government, for the Chinese people. You go to China, and I am always struck by how much enthusiasm there is. China really thinks that they have arrived in a sense on the world stage and the Olympics is a kind of codification.

For that reason, I think the president -- by the way, any president would be very careful about doing -- about not alienating the Chinese people, not sending a signal that says, you know, we're going and try to humiliate you at this moment.

I think Hillary Clinton is making what is essentially a political statement. Obama wisely chose not to do that. I very much doubt, if she were president, that she would follow her own advice.

BROWN: But I guess, to me, isn't it also more about the economy, though? If you're really going to send a message to China, boycott Chinese goods, right? But it's not. It is about appearances. That can have the same effect, right?

ZAKARIA: Well, you could make a symbolic move. You're right. It will cost the Chinese nothing. There will just be one free seat in the world leaders forum at the Beijing Olympics.

But they do care. They are very sensitive to the idea of being snubbed. They don't want to be a pariah state.

BROWN: And, John, let me ask you. The president today urged the Chinese government to reach out to the Dalai Lama, who is, of course, the exiled spiritual leader of Tibet. Do his words resonate at all there, given our economic relationship especially? VAUSE: Well, yes, they certainly listen to what the president has to say, but really they don't take that into account.

I mean, there will essentially be no negotiations with the Dalai Lama. They have taken that off the table completely. They believe that he is a criminal mastermind. They believe he is behind these demonstrations. They believe it is the Dalai Lama, the Nobel Peace Prize-winning, nonviolent advocate, is the man who is essentially behind those violent protests in Tibet and in these other provinces across China.

And they have grown up on this. They have grown up on a diet of state-run propaganda which has demonized the Dalai Lama as the man who wants to destroy China, a man who wants independence for Tibet, who wants to break it away from this country, even though the Dalai Lama himself, as recently as last week, said he does not want independence for Tibet. They just want greater autonomy. They want religious freedom.

And this is the rub. What China doesn't want is to give religious freedoms to Buddhist Monks in Tibet, because that then means that the Dalai Lama will be worshiped as a living god. And that places him above the Communist Party. That's the problem for China.

BROWN: All right, John, our thanks to you, and to Dan as well and Fareed here in New York. Appreciate it.

And we're going to change the focus to another world trouble spot. As the U.S. commander in Iraq wraps up two days of hearings, we will see whether the Democrats are doing a reluctant about-face on Iraq.

Plus, why polygamy is alive and thriving in the home states of some of our most powerful leaders.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BROWN: This was day two of testimony on Capitol Hill for the top American officials in Iraq.

General David Petraeus says it is unlikely he will call for another troop buildup, but he also can't say when more troops will come home. During more than seven grueling hours in front of House members, Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker made it clear they think a rapid U.S. withdrawal, like the Democrats have been calling for, would be risky.

The general told lawmakers he's just as frustrated as they are, but he can't be more specific about bringing more troops home.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GENERAL DAVID PETRAEUS, COMMANDING GENERAL OF THE MULTI-NATIONAL FORCE-IRAQ: We very much share the frustration. Those of us who have been at this for a long time obviously want the war to end as much as anybody else, perhaps maybe more. We're not after the Holy Grail in Iraq. We're not after Jeffersonian democracy. We're after conditions that would allow our soldiers to disengage. And that is in fact what we are doing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BROWN: After two days of hearings, it's clear that Democrats are starting to come to terms with the fact that there is no quick way out of Iraq.

And our Baghdad correspondent, Michael Ware, has been watching the Iraq hearings in Washington. He's joining us now, along with senior political correspondent Candy Crowley, who is in South Bend, Indiana, where Senator Barack Obama is campaigning.

And, Michael, let me start with you. You had a chance today to talk with Foreign Relations Committee member and 2004 Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry.

Let's listen to part of your interview now.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN KERRY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: This is not dissimilar to Vietnam. Right now, this war is about a hole we have dug for ourselves, which we can't get out of easily without a perception of loss.

It's deeply frustrating, because we're spending $10 billion to $12 billion a month putting young Americans' lives on the line for a status quo that is almost absolutely certainly going to be there when the next president comes in next January, if it isn't worse.

MICHAEL WARE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And whilst it was this current administration that created this problem set, you're saying that the next administration can essentially walk away, be it in a responsible manner or -- or not?

KERRY: Walk away is a very loaded word and a dangerous word. And I'm not talking about walking away.

If you -- if you simply withdrew them and left everybody to their own devices, there's going to be a greater level of violence than the violence that would exist anyway. I mean, that, I am convinced of.

But if you come in and they have a sense, wow, America is now gearing up for how they begin to withdraw, and what they leave when they withdraw is something we're going to have to deal with, because we're here, you have begun to shift the dynamics in a way that begins to tell you better exactly what your options really are and how you begin to play that out.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BROWN: Michael and Candy back with us now.

And, Michael, let me ask, did you walk away from that interview with Kerry today feeling like he had a real sense for the reality on the ground in Iraq, as you see it?

WARE: Well, yes and no. Certainly, what we heard from Senator Kerry, from what I understand, is a much more nuanced view of the Democrats' view of a withdrawal from Iraq. It's simply not the bumper-sticker version that we're hearing from the Democratic candidates fighting it out for nomination right now.

He's talking about maintaining some kind of a presence and reshaping America's focus. He was aware of the vacuum that American withdrawal will leave. However, he did not seem, I think, to be quite aware of the realities of Iran's role, in the sense of how Iran will fill that vacuum.

He was very much looking to Iran to evolve into a much more benign influence in the region. Now, he believes that renewed American diplomatic efforts can help shape that. But he also talked about this blood that will flow after America retreats, or America withdraws.

Now, he seemed to think that, in whatever conflict might emerge, eventually, there -- there will be a power equilibrium between rival factions. Now, in that, I think that could be wishful thinking. And if that's the premise for a Democratic plan going forward, that could be potentially dangerous -- Campbell.

BROWN: And, Candy, Democrats are in a tough spot here. And I'm not just talking about the presidential candidates, but Democrats in general.

They have got their constituents saying, bring the troops home, you know, listening to these generals saying, you know, advising against it, saying there's no real easy way to do that. How are they managing it?

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, they're managing it -- this is a large dose of reality.

You remember, Campbell, we went through so many votes last year about timetables for withdrawal, about under what conditions the troops would come home, time and time again. You don't see those votes anymore, because the reality is, they had hoped that along the way, as the war progressed, they would be able to pick off some Republicans, that they would be able to set a timetable.

But with the surge came some sort of "improvement" -- and we will put that in quotations -- on the ground, so the Republicans did not defect in the way the Democrats thought they would. The reality is that only thing is going to change this dynamic, and the Democrats know that. And that is November elections. And that won't even begin to take shape, whoever is elected until January of next year. So, they have come to understand reality.

And I think, as you saw in today and yesterday, was that kind of frustration.

BROWN: All right, stay there, guys. I want to talk about whether the general's testimony is changing what Senators Clinton and Obama are saying on the trail -- coming up next.

And then later, the raid on the West Texas polygamy ranch. We are going to ask why some of these sects are surviving in places that some powerful leaders call home.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BROWN: General David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker were back on Capitol Hill today talking about Iraq.

Meanwhile, on the campaign trail, two of the presidential candidates were also talking about the war and what they plan to do about it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CLINTON: One candidate will continue the war and keeping troops in Iraq indefinitely. One candidate only says he will end the war. And one candidate is ready, willing and able to end the war.

OBAMA: The person you want answering the phone at 3:00 a.m. is the person who has read the intelligence reports, who is asking the tough questions about why we want to invade a country like Iraq that had nothing to do with 9/11. You want to have somebody who has good judgment.

And there's only one out of the remaining candidates who qualifies on that front.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BROWN: With me again, senior political correspondent Candy Crowley and Baghdad correspondent Michael Ware.

And, Candy, let me go to you on this. Here are the candidates differentiating themselves on the war in Iraq, but do the voters, do you think, really see a difference between the two of them? And I'm talking about the Democrats -- in terms of going forward, what they would do if elected?

CROWLEY: In terms of going forward, they don't. I think the Democratic Party, certainly those who came out in the primary season, made up their minds a while back that, no matter who they nominated -- and this was when Joe Biden was still in the race and Chris Dodd and Bill Richardson -- they made up their minds that all of these candidates would put the war on a sharply different path, towards an exit plan.

So, I think they made up their minds. And, as you recall, Hillary Clinton, who had voted for the war, got a pretty tough start on her presidential campaign. She got booed a couple of times when she went before Democrats. But she was able to pivot, became an anti- war person out front. And now I think, basically, that particular issue has been put to rest.

The experience issue is something else, who's got the best experience to actually put this plan into action. But I think as far as the issue itself, most Democratic voters believe that either one of these candidates would get them out of Iraq.

BROWN: And, Michael, based on your experience on the ground there, if anybody's withdrawal plan were put into effect, what do you think happens?

WARE: Well, it depends on the nature of that withdrawal plan.

But, certainly, in the pure sense of what I think much of the Democratic base is hoping for, is simply an end to this war under any circumstances, there would be disaster of an unholy scale. I mean, really, there would be blood flowing. There would be regional proxy war. And that's something that I have noticed, for example, with Ambassador Ryan Crocker's testimony.

When he's been asked about what would be the consequences or what would happen if we withdrew too soon, he's not gone as far as, say, he did with us just a few weeks ago, where he said his grave concern is that you would see a regional proxy war develop in and around Iraq involving three of the world's richest oil reserves.

And what we're essentially talking about is a situation like Lebanon in the 1980s, with militia forces going against each other and infighting, all with foreign backers. And, really, that's what we're talking about, is a vacuum and what it will be filled with. And it will be filled with violence and it will be filled with the interests of many of America's adversaries.

BROWN: All right, Michael Ware for us, his expertise, along with Candy Crowley and her expertise from the campaign trail.

Thanks to both of you. Appreciate it.

Coming up tonight: the latest on that polygamist compound in Texas and a look at why polygamy stays off some states' political radar.

And then, later, we're going to take you to Elton John's big concert for Hillary Clinton -- lots of questions coming up about that.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BROWN: It has been a busy day on the campaign trail, and we've got a lot of stuff to chew over with our political panel. So let's get right to it.

Senior political analyst Gloria Borger is in Washington for us tonight. I've got "Time" magazine columnist Joe Klein here with me, along with syndicated columnist and Hoover Institution fellow, Deroy Murdock. Welcome to everybody.

Gloria, let me start with you in Washington and talk about Hillary Clinton being sort of the first candidate to seize on this issue about the Olympics, pushing her opponents to follow her lead on the boycott. What's the advantage of her getting ahead on this?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I thought it was a very smart political move on her part, Campbell. First of all, she appealed. So she is going into this Pennsylvania primary. She appeals to sort of the liberal elite in the Democratic Party who care about human rights and she also appeals to labor, which is very important to her in Pennsylvania.

Those folks are very suspicious of China on trade. She also looks like a leader. She's taking a position. Barack Obama hasn't taken a solid position on this, so very smart for her.

BROWN: He hasn't really, has he, Deroy? Obama, he came out with a new statement I think after her comments earlier today, but it's still pretty wishy-washy.

DEROY MURDOCK, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: Yes. I think he's been pretty quiet about it, but I think this just illustrates why Hillary Clinton is not ready to be commander in chief of this country. We need China for a couple of things in addition to maintaining some sort of a stable and peaceful relationship with China. And that is to help us keep North Korea from going nuclear and China has the most influence more than any other country in keeping North Korea from getting an atomic weapon and who knows what with it.

And number two, if President Bush boycotts the Olympics, the Chinese simply can boycott the next treasury auction and not show up to buy our debt. And God knows what happens then. So I think that this may be good for her in the primaries perhaps, but it does show why she's not ready to be in the Oval Office.

JOE KLEIN, COLUMNIST, "TIME" MAGAZINE: Yes, I think that what Obama is doing, what you call what he's doing is acting presidentially, and what Hillary Clinton is doing is acting politically and desperately. You know, Fareed Zakaria earlier in this program talked about Chinese pride and face in China is even more important than money.

MURDOCK: Absolutely.

KLEIN: These Olympics are crucial to them. We need the Chinese. We need not to offend the Chinese, and this is just, you know, this is just gestural (ph) politics. It's sending symbolic messages that don't mean anything.

BROWN: Gloria, go ahead.

BORGER: Well, but boycotting -- you know, boycotting the ceremony -- the ceremony puts the stamp of approval on the Chinese. And you know, even President Bush, he's sort of taken the same position as Barack Obama, right? He's hanging back.

Maybe they can use this as leverage with the Chinese and, yes, Hillary Clinton is paying primary politics. That's all she's got right now, right, Joe? KLEIN: Yes, there's no leverage with the Chinese on this. This is one where you just don't mess around.

BROWN: Well, I think Fareed made the point.

KLEIN: Yes.

BROWN: I mean, if you want to send China a message, stop buying Chinese goods. Stop going to Wal-Mart. I mean, you know, that's --

(CROSSTALK)

KLEIN: We're not going to do that either.

MURDOCK: What President Bush can do is go to the Olympics, attend the opening ceremony and then at the U.S. Embassy have a group of Chinese dissidents over and speak with them and encourage them to keep pushing for human rights and freedom. This is the sort of thing that President Reagan did and much more during the Cold War, and I think this is really the way to handle the Chinese.

KLEIN: And it's what President Clinton did, as well. Private meetings with the Chinese is where the Chinese believe that the quiet person is the person with strength. If you go around bleeding and, you know, trying these symbolic actions it's a sign of weakness to the Chinese.

BROWN: Go ahead, Gloria.

BORGER: But why hasn't the president said that he's going to attend the ceremonies. Today his spokesman said, well, we're kind of checking the schedule.

KLEIN: He's making them sweat a little bit. I mean --

BORGER: Well, nothing wrong with that.

KLEIN: Maybe, you know, he's a health freak. The air in Beijing is terrible.

BROWN: Good point. All right. Wait, stay with us, guys, Gloria, Joe and Deroy. We're going to be back with our panel in a minute. We got a lot more to cover including a new poll that could swing the momentum in the Democratic race for president.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BROWN: And welcome back, everybody.

We're talking about the hot political stories on the campaign trail today. Gloria Borger, Joe Klein and Deroy Murdock, all with us again.

And Gloria, let me start with you once again. Pennsylvania, less than two weeks away now. Recent polls show Obama slicing into Hillary Clinton's lead a little bit in the state, and today a new Gallup poll out has him 10 points up among Democrats nationwide. How do you see the race right now? What's the state of play?

BORGER: Well, I think a poll like this really helps Obama make his case to those superdelegates that he is the most electable candidate. That's exactly what they're both trying to do right now although the Hillary Clinton campaign takes a look in those -- in those matchups in states, in those contested states and say, well, she does better in those battleground states against Republicans than he does, and that's how she makes her case. But again, this is very good news for Obama.

BROWN: Where do you see things in the Democratic race right now?

KLEIN: Well, I don't know that it's any news at all in Pennsylvania, although he has been cutting into her lead. I mean, she's had a pretty awful last couple of weeks. He's had a very good last couple of weeks, and he was especially good yesterday in the Iraq hearings. He really pinned down both Petraeus and Crocker in a way that a lot of other senators didn't.

BROWN: Do you agree with Joe?

MURDOCK: I think I do. I think Hillary Clinton among the Bosnia mess which we found out about, the fact that she owes about $2.5 million to Mark Penn's firm, the fact that Mark Penn got sacked yesterday, it's just been one mess after another, and her whole campaign rationale is that she's ready on day one to be commander in chief. And she doesn't seem to be ready to run the campaign as it is right now.

KLEIN: Also, I was out in Pennsylvania and talking to voters and I actually ran into people, women, who had changed their affiliation from Hillary to Obama because of the Tuzla, because of the Bosnia story.

BROWN: Hey, Gloria, I feel like people are ganging up on her. Do you agree with them in terms of the state of the race? You know, or does she have other strengths we're going to see playing out?

BORGER: I don't know. I think -- I don't want to -- I'd have to agree --

BROWN: You don't want to go three-to-zero?

BORGER: I don't want to get three-to-zero here, but I'd have to agree that look, this is a very, very steep hill for Hillary Clinton to climb right now. She started out as the inevitable candidate. Now, she's appearing all around Pennsylvania to the tune of "Rocky," right? The underdog.

And there's a reason for that and even she's admitting that. So I think it is very tough for her and her campaign has been mismanaged, and I think that, in fact, maybe she didn't get the campaign that she deserved. When we look back on this, we might say that. BROWN: All right. Let me ask you quickly about John McCain and the focus that Iraq is getting this week just because of the hearings. I mean, he has staked his candidacy essentially on this issue. Given what's happened over the last couple of days, do you think this helps him? Did it hurt him, Joe?

KLEIN: Well, I don't think that the last couple of days either helped or hurt him, although he was very measured in his questioning of Petraeus. I think that what's going to happen over the next six months is going to be extremely important to him, and we've learned something yesterday that is very important and has been played high enough, and that is that it is the intention of the U.S. military to go after Muqtada al-Sadr, the most popular Shiite leader in Iraq. And that -- if that's going to happen, that could lead to enormous bloodshed, which I think wouldn't be so good for John McCain.

BROWN: All right, guys. We got to end it there. We're out of time, but our thanks to the panel and everybody for joining us tonight.

Coming up, we are taking a close look tonight at the strange and shocking case of the polygamous sect, FLDS. The group has a long history in states that are home to some of this country's most powerful lawmakers.

We'll be back after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BROWN: Now, to the shocking events in west Texas that have been making national headlines. I'm talking about last week's raid on the polygamous sect FLDS. Agents continue to sift for evidence today, and there was courtroom drama, as well. The sect's lawyers arguing the search of the compound is similar to a takeover of such holy places as the Vatican.

Two people were arrested after Thursday's raid and 416 children taken into temporary legal custody. Many feared to have been victims of sexual abuse, which is shocking enough, but there have been other such raids on polygamous sects since the practice was officially outlawed around the time of the civil war.

So you've got to wonder whether these communities are simply hiding in plain sight and who is responsible for shutting them down? Especially when you consider the states where FLDS operates are home to some of our country's most powerful political figures. There are a lot of questions that need to be explored here, so we're going to bring in three of CNN's best who have been following the case closely.

David Mattingly in San Angelo, Texas, near the recently raided FLDS compound, Gary Tuchman on the Arizona/Utah border near where the FLDS has operated two other facilities, and here on the studio with me, senior legal analyst Jeff Toobin. Welcome to everybody.

And David, before we get into some of the politics of this, bring us up to speed on what's happened over the last 24 hours. DAVID MATTINGLY, NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Over the last 24 hours, after that raid, the community here is struggling to take care of the hundreds of kids that they have taken custody of. Also, new legal information keeps coming out. A new search warrant was given out to the public today that reveals that an informer was guiding authorities on their search inside the temple there at the compound. He directed them to a bed that was inside the compound.

This is where -- inside the temple -- this is where adult men were allegedly married to underage brides and this is -- the bed was there for these adult men to have sex with these underaged girls, girls of 16 age and under. This is just one of the other facts that are coming out. This coming out just in the last few hours from a new search warrant that was released to the public.

But every day there are new details coming out and new facts coming out about these children. Some of them have the chicken pox. They are worried about what they're going to do with them in the future now. Authorities wondering how they're going to put them into foster care after they've lived in a closed environment, a very strange environment their entire lives.

BROWN: Right.

MATTINGLY: A lot of questions every day as we continue to go with this, Campbell.

BROWN: And David, I think one of the things that certainly shocked me about this, it is also very much an open secret. There are people in the community not the FLDS community but in the area, who very much knew about this place, knew what was going on there, right?

MATTINGLY: It is not hard -- it is not hard to know what is going on in there knowing that it is there. They knew the temple was being built. There had been news crews flying over taking pictures. Authorities here were aware of that. They had reached out and had made sure they knew who was in charge out there. They were keeping an eye on things that were going on.

But very few people are ever allowed in there. The women were very rarely allowed out. In the communities around, you can't find anyone who could recall ever meeting any of the women who lived on that compound. The men only came out to do their business and they went right back in, a very close society, very self-sufficient.

BROWN: And Gary, you tried to gain access to some of these communities. How prevalent are they? How many are there, and where are they?

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Campbell, this is the headquarters of the FLDS compound. This is Colorado City, Arizona, right behind me, five feet in front of me, Hildale, Utah, is on the state line. There are still thousands of Warren Jeffs followers, FLDS members, and these are the people who have family members in Texas who have been taken away. Now, this happened in 1953, the last raid. A lot of people who lived here were separated from their parents, their grandparents back then. Now, they see their family members going through it once again. But this sect is in several locations where David is in Texas. Most of them are still here in Arizona and Utah. They're also in Colorado. They're also in South Dakota, and they're also in British Columbia.

BROWN: Hey, Jeff, Gary is sitting there basically pinpointing, you know, on a map where these people are. Why does it take the scared, isolated pregnant teenager making a late night phone call to alert people to it, to get authorities to do something about it?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Because to get a search warrant, to get an arrest warrant, you need specific evidence. You need a person who says in such and such a place this crime is being committed. And these communities are so isolated and the people inside, the victims of the crimes, the women, the children are so scared, are so isolated that they don't really get to law enforcement. It's very hard for law enforcement to find someone inside to give them the information that they need to start making arrests.

BROWN: So 400 -- more than 400 children in custody right now. What is happening to these kids?

TOOBIN: I have never seen a case like this on this scale. I mean, New York City would have a hard time handling 400 children. Rural Texas I can hardly imagine. And what's being done now is that they are being held temporarily until the legal situation sorts itself out, because the families of the mothers in this community will say we want them back. This is not a dangerous situation.

The state it seems is prepared to say, we want to put them in foster care. That's a tremendously difficult undertaking, very expensive for the state, very disruptive to the children. But the real question is, if they go back, will they be in danger of sexual or other kind of abuse? And that's what the courts in Texas are going to have to figure out.

BROWN: All right. To David, Gary and Jeff --

TUCHMAN: Campbell --

BROWN: Gary, hold that thought. We're going to come back to you in just a moment.

We're going to go to Larry King now. He's coming up at the top of hour.

Larry, I know you're doing the subject tonight also, right?

LARRY KING, HOST, "LARRY KING LIVE": We sure are. I tell you, Campbell, it's unbelievable. We know about the forced marriages and the motherhood at an early age. What we don't know about these secretive communities.

We'll try to get you some answers on "LARRY KING LIVE" at the top of the hour, but it won't be easy because as you just pointed out how secretive it all is.

BROWN: All right, Larry. We'll be watching at 9:00 Eastern.

And we're going to continue our own discussion of the politics surrounding polygamy cases when we come back with a look at one powerful senator's work to get the government to investigate reports of child abuse by members of a polygamous sect.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BROWN: We're continuing our discussion of politics and polygamy in America and why the raid on the west Texas FLDS compound was so long in coming. And back with me now, CNN's David Mattingly, Gary Tuchman and senior legal analyst Jeff Toobin.

And Jeff, let me start with you. There are very powerful national leaders in these states where this stuff is happening -- Arizona, John McCain's state. After Warren Jeffs was arrested in Nevada, Senator Harry Reid actually called for a federal investigation into polygamy. I mean, whose shoulders does it fall on to try to crack down on these?

TOOBIN: It's mostly the states because it's statutory rape. The marriage laws are state laws, so it's mostly states and they don't have a lot of resources, especially in these very rural areas. So to do undercover operations, to do long investigations, they generally just don't have the resources to do that kind of thing.

BROWN: And these groups, do they have a legal right to live this way? I mean, how is it -- how do they argue it?

TOOBIN: They certainly don't have a legal right to engage in statutory rape, to engage in multiple marriages, but they don't talk about that. They certainly have the right to live together without those sorts of things and the question is, when do they cross the line to illegal marriages and to abuse of children?

BROWN: Gary, I know that since all of this has happened you've talked to other polygamous families in other communities apart from this one. What are they worried about? Do they see this crackdown coming on their way of life?

TUCHMAN: We've talked to a number of polygamists today just on the street who are not part of the FLDS sect and what they're saying is this. Yes, we acknowledge that abuse probably happened in the FLDS sect. But with all 400 of these children, should all 400 plus of these children be taken out of the only house they've ever known? They believe what should have happened, most everyone is telling us, is all the men should have been taken out of the house, and the children should have been allowed to stay with their mothers so they weren't traumatized.

We've also talked with FLDS members who still support Warren Jeffs in jail. They are very stoic. They say God is watching over Warren Jeffs. God is watching over the children, but they do acknowledge that they are concerned that authorities could come here and take their children away from them.

BROWN: And David, I mean, you there on the ground, what's been FLDS' response to all of this?

MATTINGLY: They haven't been saying anything publicly. Their attorneys appeared in court today. We tried to talk to them. When they came out, they said they're going to let their words speak only in the court.

Today they were in there. They were trying to convince a judge the search warrant had been unconstitutional. They weren't successful. They were also arguing with the judge that some of the evidence is considered religious and should not be treated as regular police evidence.

So they're preparing for a very, very long court battle here. And one point to make here that the local authorities here, when they finally had that legal reason to go in there as Jeffrey was describing, they went in there and that's when they saw with their own eyes young girls, 16 and under, that they believe were pregnant, that already had children.

That's when they had the reason to think maybe all of these children need to come out of here. They started to ask questions about the practices there, and that's when they started finding out how young girls were being groomed at a very early age, 13 or 14, to be prepared to marry and accept to have sex with their adult husbands.

BROWN: All right. David tonight, and Gary for us. Jeff as well here in the studio. Thanks to all of you.

A big Elton John/Hillary Clinton fund-raiser tonight, where there live is the rocket man sending Clinton's campaign cash amounts into the stratosphere? We'll have that story.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BROWN: In just one minute, Suzanne Malveaux is going to join us live at the big Elton John One Night Only Hillary Clinton fund-raiser here in New York.

But first, cash rules politics and it's flowing in from all angles. Barack Obama supporters created a Web site called "An Obama Minute" which has the goal of raising a million dollars in, you guessed it, a minute. The site launches tomorrow.

We've taken hard looks at different interest groups that are giving to the candidates, but what about political donations from the dead? "The Washington Post" reported that deceased people have posthumously contributed $656,000 to political action committees and some campaigns over the past decade. They do it by putting bequests in their wills, and the post analysis also found the dead Democrats were far more generous than dead Republicans. And finally, all three candidates are doing some fund-raising for people other than themselves. John McCain, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton are appearing on tonight's "American Idol Gives Back" which uses the talent show as a vehicle to raise funds for a slew of domestic and international charities.

And as we mentioned, a big glitzy Elton John/Hillary Clinton fund-raiser is going on right now at New York's Radio City Music Hall. Suzanne Malveaux is right outside.

Suzanne, tell us what's happening there tonight.

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Campbell. It's a very big event and it really is kind of an encore event for Elton John and Hillary Clinton. He performed back for her when she was running for the Senate back in 2000.

These are tickets that go anywhere from $125 to $2,300. Obviously Clinton trying to make up for some of the losses last month. Barack Obama outfund raising her by about 20 million or so. So she hopefully can use this star power to really raise those kinds of funds.

And as you mentioned before, all three candidates are in this game. They're in it for -- to raise the money. They are totally engaged in using pop culture. All three candidates appearing on "American Idol," their special this evening. All of them using that kind of star power, the celebrities, to raise that kind of money for those upcoming contests.

And Campbell, we're still waiting for some of the tape from this concert so we've been kind of wondering what would be on her hit list, the greatest hit list. What would she want to hear from Elton John tonight? We figured "I'm Still Standing" would be one of them. For the voters, listen, the voters, "Don't Go Breaking My Heart" perhaps another one. And then, for the Pennsylvania primary, the "Philadelphia Freedom" would probably be another one that she'd be singing along to.

BROWN: I love it. All right, Suzanne, have a great time tonight. Appreciate it.

That's it for us. "LARRY KING LIVE" starts right now.

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