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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Michael Jackson Death Mystery; Jackson's Personal Struggles; Iran Confirms Election Results; American Troops Pull out of Iraq
Aired June 29, 2009 - 23:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening.
Again, breaking news tonight in the Michael Jackson investigation, new evidence gathered from the Jackson home, new photos of his final days taken during rehearsals for his London concerts that would have been both a comeback and a last hurrah of sorts. They appear to show a healthy, active, Michael Jackson.
We'll be hearing shortly from his trainer, Lou Ferrigno.
Also a court awards temporary guardianship for Jackson's three kids to their grandmother. The question is what happens after that, to them and to Jackson's estate.
We'll look into that and whether or not he had a will and look at some of the possible reasons behind Jackson's remarkable physical transformation over the years.
First though, the investigation: cops back on the scene today and our own Drew Griffin.
DREW GRIFFIN, CNN SPECIAL INVESTIGATIONS UNIT CORRESPONDENT: Detectives from the Los Angeles police and coroner's office returned to the home today where Michael Jackson was found near death.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Information that was obtained by the Los Angeles Police Department.
GRIFFIN: And acting on what Assistant Chief Coroner Ed Winters said was information involving medications, detectives left carrying a few bags of possible evidence, saying they are still weeks away from announcing a possible cause of death.
Meanwhile, the mystery of the 50-year-old singer's sudden death became even more curious with the release of these photos, taken of an apparently healthy Michael Jackson during a rehearsal last Tuesday night, just two days before he died.
But according to the attorney for Dr. Conrad Murray, Jackson was feeling ill Wednesday and asked the doctor to spend the night in his rented mansion. The next morning, it was the doctor who found Jackson with a weak pulse and not breathing. Attorney Ed Chernoff said what followed was panic as the cardiologist tried to resuscitate Jackson. There was apparently no landline phone in the bedroom. The doctor had a cell phone but the attorney says the doctor was unsure of the home's address. He describes Dr. Conrad Murray performing CPR and yelling for help.
ED CHERNOFF, DOCTOR'S ATTORNEY: He's a cardiologist, and he knows that if a person is not breathing, he knows what to do, and he did what he needed to do. He tried to resuscitate Michael Jackson.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How long did he actually perform CPR on Mr. Jackson before he realized he needed to make a phone call?
CHERNOFF: Well, it would have been five minutes, maybe 10 minutes. But the phone call then was delayed because, like I say, there was no phone service. He called security to ask for somebody to come up to help. He then ran downstairs at some point and yelled for help, got the chef who is in the kitchen to get security up there.
By the time security got up there, then the call was made immediately. This entire time with the exception of him running downstairs, he was performing CPR on Michael Jackson.
GRIFFIN: It took 30 minutes, Chernoff says, before security finally made the 911 call.
CALLER: Yes, he's not breathing, sir.
GRIFFIN: Jackson never recovered. The attorney is denying his client gave Jackson any medications that could have caused death and says his client is not a suspect and is fully cooperating with police.
The Jackson family has been publicly skeptical of the doctor they didn't know. Dr. Conrad Murray, a trained cardiologist, was chosen by Jackson to be his personal physician during the upcoming concert tour.
It appears Jackson only knew the doctor from a chance encounter in Las Vegas in 2006 when the doctor treated one of Jackson's children. They remained friends, and in May, Dr. Murray suspended his practices in Las Vegas and Houston to accept Jackson's offer to accompany him on tour as his personal physician, a job that was to pay $150,000 a month.
Jackson's father has confirmed the family has hired its own forensic expert to conduct a second autopsy. Patriarch Joe Jackson says he remains concerned about what happened but is withholding judgment.
JOE JACKSON, FATHER OF MICHAEL JACKSON: I want to see how those autopsies are coming out. It's the second autopsy they are doing on there right now, and I'm expecting to hear probably from them real soon.
GRIFFIN: The coroner's office has said official toxicology reports will take weeks. The private autopsy, which does not involve as many sophisticated tests, could be done in a matter of days. Drew Griffin, CNN, Atlanta.
COOPER: "This Is It" -- that's what Michael Jackson called his series of 50 comeback concerts at London's O2 Arena. He sold more than $90 million in tickets, rehearsing and training, trying to get a 50-year-old body into 25-year-old moonwalking shape.
These are shots of him in May. He was working with bodybuilder friend and icon, Lou Ferrigno, back then of course, back in the '80s he's known as "The Hulk". Lou Ferrigno joins us now.
Lou, what kind of shape was Michael Jackson in?
LOU FERRIGNO, JACKSON'S PERSONAL TRAINER: Well, Michael was in great shape when I saw him a few months ago. He looked fine to me. And the reason why he hired me because the fact that I trained him 15 years ago and he wanted to increase his tone and flexibility and stamina because he had this huge tour coming up, and he wanted to be in the best possible physical shape.
COOPER: What kind of training regimen did he work on -- work with him on?
FERRIGNO: Well, I used the exercise ball. We have bands, and then we had a treadmill. And you know, I brought three-pound dumbbells one time to him, and he looked to me and he said, I don't (ph) want to build big muscles. So, he didn't want to handle three- pound dumbbells, so we stuck to the ball, to rubber bands and then to the treadmill.
I mean, he was a great guy, and he trusted me because he felt safe with me, and we had so much fun together. And it was a wonderful friendship.
COOPER: What -- there have been different reports about how much he weighed. Do you have a sense of how much he actually weighed when you were training him?
FERRIGNO: I don't know, because he came downstairs, he had a black tuxedo on, black pants, black shoes, black socks, and black shirt, and I worked with him on the ball exercising. I just moved his body around everything. He looked lean to me, and he looked fit.
He never showed any sign of any difficulty, and he was the best I've seen him compared to like 15 years ago.
COOPER: How did you first meet him?
FERRIGNO: Well, a doctor friend of mine recommended Michael to have me train him because the fact that he heard I was the best, and he felt that Michael would be safe. And then when I met Michael, it was like no more Michael Jackson, no more Lou Ferrigno, it was just Lou and Mike. And then we just hit it off because when he came to my gym, my facility in Santa Monica, he was just very safe, and he was just a regular guy. And I know I'm getting emotional talking about this, but it's just that he was a genuine person because it's just a connection.
I can't explain it. Because a lot of times you have different trainers and you go through the motion, but Michael needed the motivation. And because both of us have similar fathers and similar experiences -- his escape was music, my escape was fitness, so it's like joined forces together.
COOPER: In the end, I mean, what do you think happened to Michael Jackson?
FERRIGNO: Well, I haven't seen him since the end of May. I've been gone. I've been on a tour doing conventions. I was planning to come back to train him a few more times before he left to go on tour. And the last month I only know because when I saw him, I heard reports like the last month apparently he lost weight, but he looked fine to me.
And it's funny, today on the Internet they are showing pictures of him the night before he died, and he looked fine, because the media, they're so skeptical. They're so negative.
And you know, the important thing I want to bring out is that when you're training for a tour, someone like him, the stress, the training, the four hours a day of training, you have to lose some weight to some degree, the same thing like with "Dancing with the Stars," which I'm hoping to do next month.
COOPER: Did you see any sign of drug use? I mean, there are a lot of reports going around. I've talked to people who were close friends to him who said they, you know -- that he had come to them in past years for prescriptions for medication. Did you see any sign that he was taking medication?
FERRIGNO: Not at all. He looked fine to me. He had three kids at the house. I mean, the guy was great. He was alert. He was eager to train. He didn't take any long breaks. He came downstairs. And the time I spent with him was quality time.
And he did everything I told him what to do as far as, like, stretching, all the different exercises. And he seemed -- he looked fabulous.
COOPER: Well, Lou Ferrigno, I appreciate your time tonight. Thank you very much.
FERRIGNO: You're welcome.
COOPER: A lot more ahead tonight, including Michael Jackson's estate, his massive spending habits and the question is what he has -- what does he have left and who is going to get it. We're going to explore that angle. Later, his physical transformation: plastic surgery, makeup, the condition with his skin. Does it speak to some underlying disease or was he trying to transform himself into something else? A lot of opinions as always, we'll try to stick with the facts, when 360 continues.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JANET JACKSON, SISTER OF MICHAEL JACKSON: On behalf of my family and myself, thank you for all of your love, thank you for all of your support. We miss him so much. Thank you so much.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Sister Janet Jackson speaking for a family that now has three grandkids to care for and a big financial mess to try to unravel.
In addition to awarding Katherine Jackson temporary guardianship of the grandkids today, the judge also granted her control for the moment of her son's physical possessions.
All other requests involving things like bank accounts, held by third parties, record catalogs, business documents and so on were bound over until the 6th of July.
Now, there's good reason for that as Gary Tuchman discovers.
GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A person with intimate knowledge of Michael Jackson's finances is very blunt, telling CNN the situation was just mayhem. The estimate -- that at the time of his death the "King of Pop" was roughly $400 million in debt.
The 50 London concerts that were scheduled were going to bring in tens of millions of dollars for Michael Jackson. But that was only a fraction of the entertainer's debt.
So, how did this happen? Only seven years ago "Forbes" magazine said he was worth $350 million. In part that was fueled by an extremely shrewd investment Jackson made two decades earlier.
ETHAN SMITH: He bought a company called ATV Music Publishing which held, among other things, the copyrights to 251 Beatles songs.
TUCHMAN: He spent about $37 million for the copyrights, and some say they may be worth more than $1 billion now, although Jackson sold half of it to Sony in 1995 to drum up cash. Up until his death, he was bringing in several million dollars a year in royalties and other fees from his own music.
We talked with this man, Charles Koppelman. He was a financial consultant for Jackson between 2001 and 2004.
CHARLES KOPPELMAN, JACKSON'S FORMER BUSINESS ADVISER: We all know what an incredible artist he is but he's also was a unique businessman to make the decisions, and they were his, to identify assets and acquire them over the years. His Achilles heel unfortunately was his personal finances.
TUCHMAN: And that's putting it mildly, the person with knowledge of the current financial situation said, Jackson was spending $2 million a month on what he called B.S. Over the year, Jackson bought the Neverland ranch near Santa Barbara for just shy of $20 million.
He spent many millions more on amenities and maintenance. And then he spent staggering amounts of money on legal challenges, including $20 million to settle a child molestation lawsuit. A decade later, after spending millions in legal fees, he was acquitted in another child molestation case.
Despite all of that, his former financial consultant said Jackson was in OK financial shape as recently as 2004.
KOPPELMAN: We took about two months or so, and we were able to restructure all of his various loans, et cetera. We did that and it was efficient and effective.
TUCHMAN: But Jackson kept spending and spending, and the pop star who made so much money in his career churned through unimaginable amounts of it. With his death, his assets are still there, including his Beatles rights, but his spending is not.
KOPPELMAN: His untimely death as bad as it is and it is sad. To some extent there's a possibility that his children and his family will now be able to figure out how to maintain those assets for them all.
TUCHMAN: And if that happens, it's the most pitiful way for it to occur.
Gary Tuchman, CNN, Atlanta.
COOPER: It certainly is.
Coming up, you know he was rehearsing for his comeback concert, and chances are you never heard the new song he was composing. We'll have the work in progress and the man he was working on it with. Dr. Deepak Chopra joins us next.
Also a federal judge throwing the book at Bernie Madoff, his three-figure prison sentence and reports of more arrest to come when 360 continues.
COOPER: Still ahead, new music from Michael Jackson and his extreme makeover. We'll look at how many African-Americans -- how many African-Americans felt about Jackson in life and now in death.
But first, Erica Hill joins us with the "360 Bulletin."
ERICA HILL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, Bernard Madoff will likely die behind bars. The 71-year-old behind the largest Ponzi scheme in history received the maximum sentence, 150 years, for crimes the judge calls extraordinary evil. The Associated Press reports ten more people are expected to be charged by the time the Madoff investigation is complete.
The Supreme Court today, ruling in favor of white firefighters who claim they were denied promotions because of their race. In a split five to four decision justices found officials in New Haven, Connecticut improperly threw out results from promotion exams that left too few minorities qualified.
Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor sided with the city when she heard that case in a lower court.
A major beef recall tonight: the USDA pulling nearly half a million pounds of meat from store shelves citing possible E coli contamination. The agency expanded the previously limited recall of products from Colorado beef producer JBS Swift Beef Company. At least 18 illnesses in multiple states now appear to be associated with the contaminated meat.
And just how old is old? Well, according to a new poll, most people believe the magic number is 68. But let's be honest, who depends who you ask. If you ask those under 30, you're old before 60. The middle-aged crowd -- wow, they see you're getting old probably around 70. Senior citizens 65 and over say old age doesn't hit until 75. I'm surprised that 65 and older said 75 was old.
COOPER: I know.
HILL: I would have thought they would think older.
COOPER: No, you never know.
Coming up next, Michael Jackson's good friend, Deepak Chopra, his candid words about Jackson. Plus, the new song that the two were working on before his death. We'll play some of that for you coming up.
Also ahead tonight, Jackson and race. Was he running away from his own race and how he was viewed by many African-Americans in life and now in death. We're going to take a look a closer look ahead on 360.
COOPER: Michael Jackson leaves behind three children, a musical legacy and a dear friend, Dr. Deepak Chopra. The doctor spent many years as a Jackson confidant, and since his death, he's opened up about everything from Jackson's some time dependence on prescription drugs to what he thinks really happened to Michael Jackson. He and I spoke earlier about the man he knew as a friend, as a collaborator and a fellow father. I asked him first about the Jackson kids and whether he thought they're going to be in good hands.
DEEPAK CHOPRA, MICHAEL JACKSON'S FRIEND: Well they are very fond of her and she's very fond of them and they are very happy to see her right now. And she's with them along with Michael's mother Katherine and the children are having a relatively good time with Grace as well as Katherine and their cousins.
And so everything seems to be in place at the moment. Grace has no intentions of doing anything other than what's good for the children and what Katherine wants.
COOPER: You've been friends -- I think with Michael Jackson for more than 20 years -- I know you told "People" magazine recently that he had lupus. And when Michael -- when do you know -- I mean, that hadn't been disclosed before. Do you know when Michael Jackson was diagnosed with that?
CHOPRA: He had positive anti-bodies a long time ago. And he also had leukoderma or vitiligo which is disfiguration of the skin, which is also an auto-immune disease. And he was very ashamed for some reason about his body image.
He had a lot of self-loathing about his body image and he had a compulsion for cosmetic surgery which is a form of self-mutilation which now apparently is, in hindsight, a part of the whole picture.
Stress during childhood, some form of physical and verbal abuse, and now there's data that was published in a journal called, "Psychosomatic Medicine" that there seems to be some relationship between childhood trauma and auto-immune disease in adulthood. It seems that the immune system doesn't know who's friend, who's foe and starts to attack its own body.
So Michael had a lot of problems when you understand the full context of his insecurities, his poor self-esteem, his self-loathing. Then many of his behaviors are easy to understand.
But the main thing is he was a loveable character. He was a compassionate, caring, beautiful person and he was the most extraordinary musician, dancer, entertainer of all time. He had the ability to put you in an ecstatic state. I love Michael.
COOPER: I know he recently sent you a demo of a song that he wanted your help with and I want to play a little bit of that music; if we can play that now.
COOPER: You were going to collaborate on lyrics for this song. Have you done that before? Tell us about this. CHOPRA: I see my son got them, and I have done this before with him; putting together words, creating a theme for this song. Michael used to compose the music and then he would sit with various people actually, put different songs to -- put the lyrics together, but he knew what he wanted.
In this case for example, he wanted a heart-rending provocative theme where you look at the environment as your own body, where the earth is your physical body with rivers and waters are your own blood and circulation, the air is your breath.
He wanted people to feel that they are the personal body or universal body and they were both equally ours. It was going to be -- he said his most important contribution to the environment.
COOPER: You clearly love Michael Jackson as a friend. How difficult was it to be his friend? I mean, if you were friends with someone, who you see they're in pain, you see they are disfiguring themselves over the course of many years, you see them under such enormous pressure, you see them come to you as you have said in the past for OxyContin and Demerol, you get the sense that he has other doctors who he's asked as well. It's got to be hard to still -- I mean, how do you deal with that? What was it like to be friends with Michael Jackson?
CHOPRA: It was very hard. It was very hard.
I always told him the truth, but he would look at me and he would say, you don't understand. You don't understand the pain I'm in. You don't understand the emotional pain I'm in. And frequently he would say other people do and you don't, and you're my friend. And then he would make himself unavailable.
So, it was very difficult. He made himself unavailable frequently to people who really cared about him, including his own family, which really cared about him. And then he would make himself available to enablers. But that's very characteristic of this disease.
I don't really blame Michael Jackson for anything. He was the victim of circumstances. He was the victim of his own body image. He was victim of the media frenzy around him. And he was the victim of enablers.
COOPER: Deepak Chopra, appreciate you speaking so honestly over the last several days about him. I know it's tough for you, and I appreciate your writings and those of your kids as well. Thank you very much.
CHOPRA: Thank you. Thank you.
COOPER: Professor Deepak Chopra.
Still ahead tonight, over the decades we've watched Michael Jackson change before our eyes. No doubt about that. But what fueled the transformation? We'll take a look at that.
And how Michael Jackson has been viewed by many African-Americans in life and now in death.
Also, President Obama meeting with gay and lesbian leaders today, marking an anniversary and reaching out to try to repair some bridges.
We'll be right back.
COOPER: At the time of his death, Michael Jackson was 50 and light years away from the child star from Gary, Indiana.
This is how the world first met Michael Jackson, and this is how he looked as a boy. This is how Michael Jackson looked just two days before he died. The picture, obviously shocking, but at the same time, not surprising given the extreme transformation he put himself through over the decades.
Over the years, the dramatic changes in Jackson have raised a lot of questions, especially about race. Tom Foreman takes a look.
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): When "Black or White" came out in 1991, critics noted that Michael Jackson himself had been changing for years. Compared to younger days, his nose was thinner, his hair straighter, his skin color dramatically lighter.
Jackson blamed the color change on vitiligo, a condition which drains pigment from the skin, leaving pale patches which sunburn easily. And in an interview with Britain's ITV he struck back at suggestions he was trying to be white.
MICHAEL JACKSON, MUSICIAN: How many white people, when they are little kids, look white now, they sit in the sun all day to look black? And the suntan lotion business is a multibillion-dollar business. Nobody says nothing about that.
They do. They're trying to be other than what they are but that's OK, I guess, right?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you trying to be other than what you are?
FOREMAN: But what about the plastic surgery, the pointed nose, prominent cheekbones, the cleft chin? Was that an attempt to look less like the black man he was? Maybe, according to a professor of African-American studies at Brown University, Tricia Rose.
TRICIA ROSE, PROFESSOR OF AFRICAN AMERICAN CULTURE: How society values people often determines how people value themselves.
FOREMAN: In the late '60s when Jackson was an emerging talent, music historians and sociologists say Motown was making millions by toning down the ethnicity of black artists and marketing them to white audiences.
ROSE: What a lot of people have forgotten is that it took quite a bit for an individual artist of African-American descent to cross over into the mainstream. They had to be palatable. They had to be acceptable, and some of that meant, hopefully, looking more light skinned or looking more European in features.
FOREMAN: Still, Jackson's extreme transformation raises disturbing questions even now. Was he running away from what he was or toward what he thought we wanted. or something else entirely? And how should we all feel about that either way - Anderson.
COOPER: Tom thanks.
Last night at the BET Awards, Michael Jackson was warmly embraced. Here's what Jamie Foxx had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAMIE FOXX, ACTOR: Listen, let's get focused. No need to be sad. We want to celebrate this black man -- this black man. He belongs to us. And we shared him with everybody else.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Michael Jackson's appearance has been a topic of discussion, of course, for years, particularly in the African-American community.
In his article in "The New York Times," international business editor Marcus Mabry looked at how in death many African-Americans are embracing Michael Jackson without ambivalence.
Marcus Mabry joins us now.
You say there's a big difference between the way white America and black America views Michael Jackson right now?
MARCUS MABRY, INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS EDITOR, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": It's interesting, Anderson, and rather surprising given everything we just saw in that package. How he transformed himself, certainly from what was traditionally thought of as African-American or black looks and features toward the familiar (ph) set from a young black man who became a white woman or at least tried to aesthetically.
Given that, it's very surprising that the African-American community at this point has disclaimed no ambivalence at all about this as Jamie Foxx said during the BET Music Awards last night, "this black man." The communities embrace him emphatically. We've found in dozens of interviews across the country an amazing degree of unanimity amongst African-American communities.
COOPER: And also a resistance to looking at any flaws that Michael Jackson may have had.
MABRY: Absolutely, which is not the case, in fact, when he was alive and certainly when he went from that little black boy - the cherubic member of the Jackson 5, that so many people have loved and saw and grew up with as pioneers.
And then he became this kind of strange creature after the "Thriller" years in which he seemed to constantly morph and his nose, even at the end of it seemed to fall off at one point. It was so bizarre that African-Americans really found that hard to stomach at that point.
What we saw however was an evolution and a change once there was a feeling in the black community that Jackson was being assailed, attacked with the child molestation charges.
COOPER: Yet another in a long line of African-Americans who society is trying to tear down? They, of course, succeeded
MABRY: And it was fascinating. Exactly. And African-Americans very quickly rallied around our own when that happens. To a surprising degree, degree one might say, because it's not necessarily a rational response. But what sociologists tell us and what African- Americans told us individually is that it's still very rational when you are a member of a minority to have a sense of being oppressed.
In addition to all of that, what was really shocking -- and I'm sure edifying for the Jackson family -- to me and to other reporters in the story was the fact that Jackson was reclaimed as a black kind of Jackie Robinson of entertainment, of popular culture, popular music.
Don't forget, this was a guy who broke the color barrier at MTV.
MABRY: Today it's impossible for to us imagine an MTV in which African-Americans are not featured prominently. Not only were they not featured prominently initially, but you'll remember, MTV was supposed to be a Rock video station. And blacks were literally kept off the shelf for the most part.
Michael Jackson was the artist who said, that's going to change. And he did change that. He brought millions of dollars in the process.
COOPER: And clearly, the Jackson family views this as important as acceptance because Janet Jackson went to the BET awards last night as did Joe Jackson although he seemed to go to be pitching his new business enterprise.
MABRY: It's interesting. He's an interesting character. And I think what we found was the African-American community's ability to forgive Michael Jackson's eccentricities and to forgive him even for changing his appearance was because in some part, they said this was a product of a broken childhood. And many people blame that on Joe Jackson.
COOPER: It's a fascinating article. It's in today's "New York Times."
Marcus Mabry, thanks very much. Appreciate it.
MABRY: Thank you.
COOPER: Next on the program: calling the election -- Iran's hardline decision and the fallout. We'll have latest on Iran.
Also tonight: the hand over in Iraq, a milestone for the country, one step closer to the U.S. forces pulling out. We're live from Baghdad with Michael Ware with the latest.
We'll be right back.
COOPER: In Iran tonight, another blow to the opposition and perhaps a trigger to even more bloodshed. The regime today confirmed the outcome of the disputed presidential election calling Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's win an overwhelming victory. No one's really surprised by the government's ruling; it was sort of expected.
The question is, what happens now? Will there be more defiance? Will there be more demonstrations and will the response be just as brutal?
Reza Sayah was one of few Western journalists to report on the violence from within Iran. He's back in Atlanta now. He joins us.
Reza, so this -- Iran's electoral oversight group, the Guardian Council, announced today that -- it confirmed the election results. What happens now? Does Mousavi have really any recourse?
REZA SAYAH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Based on the laws of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Mousavi doesn't have any legal recourse. His best hope is for some influential senior clerics behind the scenes to form sort of a coalition against the establishment. There's no indication that that's happening. The bottom line, the military appears to be firmly behind Ahmadinejad and Mousavi doesn't appear to have many options left -- Anderson.
COOPER: We're told security forces flooded the streets after the announcement of the election results came out. Have these brutal tactics worked? And I also understand that the government in Iran is now saying what some of these thugs we saw on motorcycles beating people, they were not really Basij.
SAYAH: Well, that's what they are saying. They are saying they are imposters and they've arrested some of them. But based on our sources on the ground in Tehran, they were everywhere on Monday right after the announcement by the Guardian Council.
And when you have a conflict like this, an opposition group going up against the establishment, security forces play a huge role. If they believe their interest is served with the powers that be, that's where they will side with.
COOPER: What about this claim that the Basij, many of whom we saw with batons hitting people and in some cases it seems shooting people, I mean, you saw with your own eyes people being beaten. The idea that these were not really government forces seems absurd, no?
SAYAH: Yes. Police officials came out on Monday, actually saying that they've arrested several of them and they claim that they do not use those types of tactics. But I was there and I saw with my own eyes some vicious treatment of peaceful protestors over and over again.
COOPER: And also now we're hearing from Ahmadinejad about the woman, Neda, who has very much become the face of the struggle. We've all seen her death from a single gunshot wound, her bleeding to death on the streets of Tehran.
Ahmadinejad calls her death suspicious but suspicious in that basically they blamed everyone from the CIA to terrorists groups. But none of them are taking responsibility themselves.
SAYAH: Yes, the international community and the protestors in Iran believe that it was members of the Basij that indeed killed Neda Agha Soltan. But keep in mind, government officials have offered three sets of explanations as to who killed Neda.
They've said the CIA did it on one occasion. They've also blamed a terrorist group. They've also said protestors themselves have killed her.
Here's a statement by Ahmadinejad -- he had this to say in regards to Neda, "The massive propaganda of the foreign media as well as other evidence proves the interference of the enemies of the Iranian nation who want to take political advantage and darken the pure face of the Islamic Republic."
Clearly, Anderson, by that statement, Ahmadinejad believes it's foreign elements are to blame.
COOPER: All right. Reza Sayah, appreciate it. Thanks Reza.
In Iraq, a remarkable scene to usher in a defining moment: crowds celebrating in a park in Baghdad. Cheers come as U.S. forces officially begin handing over control to the Iraqis; deadline June 30th being declared a national holiday -- withdrawals happening in cities and towns across the country.
But with the security pullout we have seen a spike in terror attacks, scores have been killed in recent weeks raising fears that a war that has killed thousands is far from over.
Michael Ware is back in Baghdad; he joins us now. Michael, for the first time in six years, Iraq is responsible for security in the cities. What is the mood like on the streets? MICHAEL WARE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, just before we get to that, let's take a breath, and let's realize what just happened. I'm just waking up on a Baghdad morning, and the U.S.-led face of the war in Iraq is over, six and a half long, brutal years.
There are still U.S. troops here, and there is still going to be some combat, and I'm afraid there'll probably still be some losses but what a day.
We saw that last night, the Iraqis celebrating; the outpouring of excitement and joy and nationalism; families in parks, anchors on state TV draping the Iraqi flag. But the Iraqi security forces, they are now the tip of the spear and quite frankly, they are not up to the task yet. That's why you still have 130,000 American troops still in this country.
They are now in a supporting role. They are going to have to operate only with the permission or the invitation of the Iraqi government. America can no longer wage any kind of a war of its own within the Iraqi cities themselves. In the deserts and in the Green Belt around the city they can still conduct operations but from the mood of jubilation to the continuing attacks to now that this is Iraq's war in Iraq, so much is suddenly changing -- Anderson.
COOPER: Do we know what this means, though? How will U.S. forces be used? They have to actually be called in by Iraqi forces?
WARE: Yes, pretty much.
Inside the cities, America is out of the decision-making process in terms of the fight. Now it's up to Prime Minister Maliki and his military advisers.
Now, you're still going to see some American uniforms in a few cities and a few towns. But they are going to be rare in intensity relatively. You'll see some advisors embedded with Iraqi units, the men they're still training. You'll see some partnered patrols down there and I'm sure there will be some joint operations from time to time. But that's about it.
Otherwise, U.S. forces must retreat or already have retreated to the pre-approved bases outside the cities and towns. They can only operate with any kind of freedom out in the desert as I was saying. It's going to take the Iraqi prime minister to say we need you here, need you there.
Primarily, as General Odierno, the commander here on the ground -- the American commander -- says, America now acts as enablers providing the air, the heavy weapons, the artillery, providing those sorts of things the Iraqi forces simply are nowhere near having or being able to do those tasks that they able to perform on themselves. America takes a supporting role, mate.
COOPER: All right, Michael Ware from Baghdad. Michael thank you. Still ahead, another life cut short suddenly and with little warning; television pitchman, Billy Mays, just 50 years old. The question is tonight, what killed him? Medical examiner weighs in.
And major shakeup at the world's ugliest dog contest? The face of a winner, coming up.
We'll be right back.
COOPER: Let's go to the latest now; some of the other stories we're following. Erica Hill has a "360 Bulletin" -- Erica.
HILL: Anderson, TV pitchman Billy Mays, famous for his high energy commercials and infomercials likely died of a heart attack in his sleep, not from a bump on his head during a rough jet landing. That's according to the medical examiner who also says more tests are needed to confirm the cause of death. Mays was 50, he suffered from heart disease.
President Obama condemning the military coup in Honduras as troops fired teargas at protesters outside the presidential palace. President Jose Manuel Zelaya was forced to leave the country yesterday wearing just pajamas. He was ousted after pushing to change the constitution to stay in office.
At the White House, President Obama hosting hundreds of leaders from the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community to mark the 40th anniversary of the launch of the gay rights movement. Also, a chance for a little fence mending for the president; Mr. Obama, of course, getting plenty of heat for not keeping campaign promises to the community.
And a major upset at world's ugliest dog contest. A 4-year-old boxer mix nailing the title after beating out Miss Ellie. There she is.
COOPER: Poor Miss Ellie.
HILL: I know. A 15-year-old purebred Chinese crested. I hear she's blind as well.
COOPER: Look at her sticking her tongue out at us.
HILL: Look at her. Normally this breed is a lock on the contest. The good news is I believe Miss Ellie won in the pure breed contest. All is not lost, Ellie.
COOPER: Next year, Miss Ellie.
COOPR: Keep sticking that tongue out.
Time now for our "Beat 360" winners: our daily challenge to viewers to come up with a caption better than the one we can come up with for a photo that we put on the blog everyday. Tonight's picture, President Obama looking at a map donated to the White House by the National Geographic Society.
Our staff winner tonight -- no one less than Joey; his caption: "Can someone call John King? I keep trying to zoom in on the world's hot spots with my fingers but nothing happens.
HILL: Nice. That's why Joey wins. Joey, it's been a bit of a drought. I'm happy that you're back on top, my friend.
I'm not saying he didn't have good ones, I'm just saying you know, maybe the rest of the staff is stepping it up a little bit; giving Joey a run for his money.
COOPER: Fighting words there.
Viewer winner is Emily from Topeka, Kansas, her caption: "'The United States of Obama?' Huh? I like it." Emily, your "Beat 360" T- shirt is on the way. Congratulations.
Just wanted to listen to that music a little bit longer.
HILL: Never gets old.
COOPER: I just want to reprise a moment. One of everybody's favorites comes from the Philippines from those prisoners. We got a little of a taste of it in the last hour. We want to dig a little deeper now. Take a look -- was this their new tribute to Michael Jackson?
This is their new tribute.
HILL: You know what? Prison love, there's nothing like it.
COOPER: There's a lot of love for Michael Jackson in that room. You're right, Erica Hill.
HILL: Look at that moonwalk.
COOPER: Was there a moonwalk?
HILL: Yes. Our little icon there kind of covered it. There was a fantastic moonwalk.
COOPER: These are Philippines prisoners' tribute to Michael Jackson which took place this weekend. It was really an epic affair.
HILL: Look. They're going big or they're going home. We know they're not going home because they're in prison. Wow.
COOPER: Haven't seen this part of the video yet.
HILL: Good thing it's ladies night. COOPER: And back to the crowd...
HILL: Oh look, the crowds. What do you think comes in the crowd besides the photographers? Like do their family members get to see their performance?
COOPER: Sure, I would think whole family member -- whoever wants to come. Oh, now that's a new song.
Wow, Erica Hill dancing along.
All right. Was that it? I think we're done with that, yes.
HILL: I think it's in our best interest to call it a night.
COOPER: More in a moment. Man, two hours takes it out of you.
More in a minute and throughout the night on the Michael Jackson story. We're back right after this.
COOPER: That does it for 360. Thanks for watching.
"LARRY KING" starts right now.
I'll see you tomorrow night.