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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Interview With Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill; Anti- Government Militias on the Rise in America?; Different Factions Fight for Pakistan; Ex-Wife Shares Insight into Murder Suspect; Right-Wing Militias Growing; Police Suspect Serial Killer in South Carolina Murders
Aired August 12, 2009 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Remember Sarah Palin's allegation that health care reform would lead to government death panels, with the power to euthanize and -- the disabled or the elderly?
Well, if you thought that claim was outlandish and discredited, think again. Today, a key voice in the debate, a key Republican senator, said you should worry about the government pulling the plug on grandma. And it wasn't just Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley pushing the death panel fear today. So did the chairman of the Republican Party, Michael Steele.
We have got reaction from another key senator in just a moment, and check the fact with our own Dr. Sanjay Gupta.
But, first, Candy Crowley has the "Raw Politics."
SEN. CHARLES GRASSLEY (R), IOWA: Well, if it's OK with you, I will -- I will get started.
CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Winterset, Iowa, Senator Chuck Grassley holds his 72nd town hall meeting of the year. What a year.
GRASSLEY: We're here at a time when I sense that people are scared for our country.
CROWLEY: His town halls have been twice, sometimes three times as big as he's had in previous years, so many hands in the air, so many crosscurrents.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I need to know, what are you doing to these insurance companies that are putting everything in their pocket and just laughing at everybody else?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Simple math, even for this southern Iowa redneck, shows that we can do -- we can cover the people who want coverage with a private policy cheaper.
CROWLEY: Making his way through the questions festering in the Iowa countryside, Grassley is really in a mine field. Why does he support cuts in Medicare? He doesn't. Will he support a plan with a government insurance option? No. And about those so-called death panels, a term critics use to argue against a provision they say will put the government in the euthanasia business.
GRASSLEY: You brought one point up here that...
CROWLEY: Grassley, a man with encyclopedic knowledge of many issues, stepped where he probably should not.
GRASSLEY: I don't have any problem with things like living wills, but they ought to be done within the family. We should not have -- we should not have a -- we should not have a government program that determines you're going to pull the plug on grandma.
CROWLEY: Put him down as not on target. The program, inserted in a House bill, would allow federal reimbursement to doctors who give end-of-life counseling to Medicare patients who want it. Critics say the counseling may become coercive.
Grassley has a reputation as a seasoned and reasoned conservative. He works now with a small group of Senate Republicans and Democrats trying to come up with a middle-ground bill. A Capitol Hill lawmaker for 35 years, he is up for reelection next year, about which he is reminded daily.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Democrat or Republican, for whoever senator or congressman vote for this bill, we will vote you out.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
CROWLEY: The senator threads his way between his core constituents, angry that he's trying...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There is nothing a liberal wants that I would agree to, and we have to stop giving ground.
CROWLEY: ... and others who have voted for him for three decades, angry he's not trying hard enough.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I want to ask you why you won't use your strong Republican voice to clarify the outright lies that are out there about the programs that are being proposed.
CROWLEY: At day's end, Grassley was in an open-air park in Adel, Iowa, for his 75th town hall meeting of the year.
GRASSLEY: Oh, I have got 16 more town meetings. So, I don't want to draw a conclusion from four town meetings.
CROWLEY: August may not be the coolest month, but it's going to seem like the longest one.
COOPER: So, Candy, is he standing by those comments about, you know, the government program pulling the -- possibly pulling the plug on grandma?
CROWLEY: Softened it just a little when he talked with reporters. And he said, listen, do I think this provision will do what some fear it will do? Not necessarily. No, I don't. But I think it's incumbent that we look at it, that he doesn't believe that there should be a program that pays for this, that the federal government should not pay for this kind of counseling.
I have to tell you, though, I also talked to a couple of doctors and some nurses who said, well, Medicare pays for, you know, office visits. So, they really weren't sure why there had to be a separate program for this. So, that also raised their suspicions.
But, certainly, Senator Grassley backed it off a little, but he didn't back off what he said was the central fear of people, that which would become some sort of euthanasia panel.
COOPER: All right, Candy Crowley -- Candy, thanks.
COOPER: Senator Grassley may have fueled the death penalty fear today. On the other hand, Alaskan Republican Lisa Murkowski, who strongly oppose the Democratic bill, said today there's no reason for opponents to make things up. Other lawmakers in both parties have tried to tamp down the program.
Missouri Democrat Senator Claire McCaskill has tried with some success to acknowledge the concerns of critic, while gently arguing for civility.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. CLAIRE MCCASKILL (D), MISSOURI: I don't understand this rudeness. What is this? I don't get it. I honestly don't get it. Do you all think that you're persuading people when you shout out like that?
You don't trust me?
MCCASKILL: OK. I -- you know, I -- I don't know what else I can do. I don't know what else I can do. If you -- if you want me to go home...
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Senator McCaskill joins us now.
Thanks very much for being with us.
COOPER: I want to get your take on what Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa said. He essentially is supporting what Governor -- former Governor Palin said about these death penalties.
MCCASKILL: Well, the irony is, is that his colleague, Republican Senator Isakson from Georgia, actually wrote the provision that went in the Senate bill.
And it is about an end-of-life directive, and so the patient and their family are in charge. It has nothing to do with the government having any control. It's the opposite. It's about the government reimbursing doctors for taking the time to explain the different procedures, to help with any kind of directive, not to take over.
So, it's so ironic that Senator Grassley has got that part confused, because it's his fellow Republicans from Georgia who put it in the bill on the Senate side.
COOPER: Do you think he really is confused, or -- or is something else at work here?
MCCASKILL: I -- I -- you know, listen, I think that there are many provisions of this bill, and I think everyone needs to slow down and take time to study it carefully, because, if you do, so much of the misinformation goes away.
And this is a big, giant piece of misinformation.
COOPER: I assume it's fair to say you have never seen this kind of level what you call rudeness of, I guess, anger in a public forum like this.
And I want to read you what Paul Krugman wrote. He said that what some are reacting to is more about the president, about President Obama than really about what is in these -- in these various health care plans.
And he said -- and I quote -- "The driving force behind the town hall mobs" -- his word -- "is probably the same cultural and racial anxiety that is behind the birther movement, which denies Mr. Obama's citizenship."
Does race play a role in this? There was a person at one of your town halls had a Rosa Parks poster. Apparently, a person angry in the crowd ripped it up. A scuffle ensued. They were all taken out.
Is race involved in this?
MCCASKILL: I -- I don't know.
I think there are certain folks in Missouri that don't trust government. And they haven't trusted government for a long time. And I think we have done a lot of big, bold things in the last six months. It's a time of uncertainty. People are confused. What is the difference between a stimulus and an omnibus and a TARP?
And I think all of that rolled up, in addition to having a new president that -- that they did not support, I think, has led to a heightened sense of passion and fervor.
But I think it's all within the confines of our democracy. And we may be exercising our muscles of democracy in Missouri, but that's OK. That's what this is all about is people being able to express their opinions.
COOPER: Congressman David Scott of Georgia, an African-American man, says that racism is involved, that -- that it's sort of the subtext of this debate. Just, for the record, do you see any indication of that?
MCCASKILL: I don't. I think that is irresponsible to say, also.
I -- I -- there may be an individual instances of that, but there are a whole lot of people who are frustrated, and cynical, and angry, and I'm not sure that it -- it would be accurate to make that about race.
The disagreement yesterday was more because somebody broke the rules and brought in a sign, when nobody else was allowed to bring in a sign, and they were flaunting it. And it angered people, and -- and passions got out of control.
There was certainly a little bit of wrongdoing on the part of the women who had the sign, because they knew they weren't supposed to have them. And there was certainly wrongdoing on the part of the gentlemen who ripped it out of her hand.
COOPER: So, on your -- for -- your take is, no indication of the fact that it was Rosa Parks on the poster?
MCCASKILL: Oh, no.
COOPER: It was the presence of the poster?
MCCASKILL: Oh, no. I'm not even sure -- I don't think that had anything to do with what was on the poster. It had to do with everyone -- we had, you know, 2,500 people there, and they all were instructed with great big signage, you can't bring signs in.
And, then, at the very end of the meeting, in walked these women with signs unfurled. And, of course, it agitated the crowd.
COOPER: I'm glad you pointed that out, because that is...
COOPER: ... certainly something that is being played on liberal blogs, that it was a Rosa Parks poster and that there was significance in that. You see no significance.
MCCASKILL: I don't think that was the problem. I think the problem was, somebody violated the rules about bringing in signs, and it made somebody angry. And things got a little out of control.
But we went for two hours, and there was just -- just that little incident. There was some rudeness, but, by and large, we got through it and we were able to exchange a lot of ideas. And I think it was terrific.
COOPER: Senator McCaskill, I appreciate your time. Thank you.
MCCASKILL: OK. Thank you.
COOPER: Well, no shortage of debate online right now at AC360.com. You can join the live chat. I just logged in myself.
Also tonight, getting beyond the sound and fury, talking with protesters about their legitimate concerns, and the lawmakers trying, sometimes in vain, to answer them. We talk to both sides.
Later, chilling new figures on the rise of hate-fueled militias in America.
We're taking your questions tonight for Mark Potok, whose group, the Southern Poverty Law Center, authored this new report. You can text your questions to AC360 or 22360. And, remember, standard rates apply. Again, that's 22360.
We're back after this.
COOPER: Well, the anger and distrust expressed at many of these town hall meetings is obviously very real.
And here's what happened to Senator Ben Cardin, a Maryland Democrat, at a town hall meeting today. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Your government has lost the faith and trust of the American people.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
SEN. BEN CARDIN (D), MARYLAND: I think that the Obama administration has already started to restore trust in the health care by...
CARDIN: ... by the passage of the...
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, a moment ago, Senator Claire McCaskill said she doesn't doubt the motives of her critics attending her town hall meetings.
Plenty of other Democrats seem to. They say a lot of the anger is being stoked by right-wing radio and the protesters mobilized by the Republican Party. Of course, liberal groups and unions are also trying to get people to attend these town halls.
So, we wanted to try to get beyond the finger-pointing and the shouting and actually just try to listen to the very real concerns of people on both sides of the debate.
Tom Foreman tonight takes us "Up Close."
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Another day, another angry public meeting, this one at a community college in Hagerstown, Maryland.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This government is out of control.
FOREMAN: Democratic Senator Cardin is intent on pushing forward with health care reform.
SEN. BEN CARDIN (D), MARYLAND: I can assure you that I'm not going to push for any bill that will cut off care to someone who is in need of care.
FOREMAN: And in the audience, MARK KRESLINS is just as intent on pushing back.
MARK KRESLINS, ATTENDED TOWN HALL MEETING OF MARYLAND SENATOR BEN CARDIN: How are you going to look at my children in their eyes and tell them they're going to have a better future with $99 trillion -- say it with me -- $99 trillion...
FOREMAN: Kreslins runs a small health services business from his home. He calls himself an independent who votes mostly Republican. He organized one of those anti-tax tea parties. He questions the constitutional right of Congress to enact such reform, but mainly he worries that it will mean massive tax bills for middle-class families for decades.
KRESLINS: It's disappointing to me that I'm being characterized as a nut. I'm just an average guy.
If we just let it go the way it's going to go, the way it's going now, I have heard estimates of a trillion dollars for this health care legislation. It's not really going to be a trillion dollars. It's going to be a lot more than that.
CARDIN: I'm not going to support a bill that is not totally paid for.
FOREMAN: Back in the meeting, Senator Cardin pressed on. Even to all the older voters who showed up, people who polls say are most against this reform, he says, have faith.
CARDIN: I think that the Obama administration has already started to restore trust in the health care system by the passage...
FOREMAN: Afterward, he's not sure the meeting changed any minds.
CARDIN: I think it can alleviate some of the concerns and that there will be a more open mind in considering the legislation.
FOREMAN: But Mark Kreslins doubts that and just about everything else he is hearing on this subject.
KRESLINS: I don't believe much of what comes out of Congress these days.
FOREMAN (on camera): What about the president?
KRESLINS: I don't believe most of the presidents, what they say. I think they are politicians, fundamentally. And I think this is what all my friends are thinking, too.
FOREMAN (voice-over): So, the meeting came and went. And, for Mark Kreslins, health care reform remains a dangerous gamble, while, for Ben Cardin, it remains the best bet.
Tom Foreman, CNN, Hagerstown, Maryland.
COOPER: Well, once again tonight, we're looking at all the players in the debate and keeping their claims, "Keeping Them Honest."
Up next: Are there going to be death panels who can pull the plug on grandma? 360 M.D. Sanjay Gupta separates the fact from the fiction.
Later, we will take you the state where a serial killer could be at work. We will show you who is falling victim and what authorities are doing about it.
COOPER: So, each day, the debate over health care reform seems to get louder, with insults and anger often drowning out reasoned debate. Here at 360, we're committed to trying to cut through the noise and sorting facts from fiction. We're "Keeping Them Honest" again tonight with help from 360 M.D. Sanjay Gupta.
Sanjay, let's start with one of the most probably inflammatory charges we have been hearing from critics of a House bill provision that would pay for end-of-life counseling. The bill calls it an advanced-planning consultation, critics calling it a death panel.
You heard Senator Grassley earlier, ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, appearing to endorse that view, although Candy Crowley says he was backpedaling a little bit.
What about it? What is -- what's the real deal on this alleged death panel? What does the House provision actually spell out?
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, I'm probably going to get e-mails about this, but I'm going to go out on a limb and say death panel, just as a term, is probably hyperbole. I just think that it's so far out of left field, I'm not sure quite how contextualize it with what the House bill really says.
Now, you know, I think it's important to look at the specific language. And Candy did a great job of this. But they are specifically looking at this idea of a medical professional and a senior sitting down and talking about all sorts of things, living wills, different provisions.
They want certain measures taken near the time of death, all these sorts of things which, you know, sometimes happen in doctors' office during routine office visits, but sometimes don't. Sometimes, they are misunderstood, and, sometimes, they are not acted upon. So, I think that's sort of -- sort of what they are talking about here.
Having said that, Anderson, you know, we have been doing a lot of research on this particular issue. One thing that sort of comes out -- and this came out of an article in "The Journal of the American Medical Association" -- what is the impact of having this discussion, of a physician sitting down and having a discussion with a senior and saying, here are the various options near the end of your life?
What this article concluded was that people who have a discussion like that do tend to be less aggressive about their care after a physician sort of spells out all the different options.
So, that may be the idea where this idea of a death panel -- again, I find a hyperbole -- sort of is coming from, Anderson.
COOPER: It's interesting, though, hearing the criticism that -- that people are concerned about that, but, I mean, the idea of an insurance -- insurance companies make life-or-death decisions determining who gets care and who doesn't all the time.
GUPTA: Yes. You know, and that sort of gets to this idea of that issue and rationing sort of overall. And people always say, is there going to be rationed care? And I can tell you, as a -- as practicing physician, as someone who -- who deals with this on a daily basis, rationing does occur all the time.
I mean, I was in the clinic this past week. And, you know, at the end of clinic, I get all this paperwork that basically says, justify why you're doing such and such procedure. Justify why you're ordering such and such test.
And if the justification is inadequate, the answer comes back, well, that's not going to be covered, which basically is saying that the patient is going to have to pay for it on their own, which is -- in essence, is what rationing is, in so many ways. So, it does occur, much to your point, Anderson.
COOPER: Let's play -- I want to play something that President Obama said yesterday in New Hampshire that -- that has caused a lot of controversy.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: another myth that we've been hearing about is this notion that somehow we're going to be cutting your Medicare benefits. We are not. The AARP would not be endorsing a bill if it was undermining Medicare. OK?
So I just want seniors to be clear about this.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Now, what the president said is not correct. AARP is not endorsing this bill.
And they have put out a statement saying, "Indications that we have endorsed any of the major health care reform bills currently under consideration in Congress are inaccurate."
Robert Gibbs, the press secretary at the White House, he was asked about it today. He said, essentially, the president misspoke.
So, if -- if AARP isn't endorsing the legislation, why not? I mean, do they endorse legislation on other issues?
GUPTA: We have -- we have investigated this, I think, pretty fully, Anderson.
Let me try and break it down as simply as possible. What they will say is, they want health care reform. They do believe that guaranteed access of health care insurance should be made available to everybody.
Their big issue, I think more than anything -- remember who their constituency is -- here is, Anderson, elderly people -- it has to do around the issue of generic vs. -- vs. brand-name drugs.
Their big concern is that there's not enough in this legislation, in this House bill, specifically -- and, remember, the Senate bill is still being debated -- not enough in this House bill, specifically, bring brand-name drugs to generic quickly enough.
I mean, brand-name drugs are a certain price. Generics are often much cheaper. They think that process should take place a lot faster. And they think if there was specific legislation around that, then this is probably going to get their endorsement. It's not there yet, at least not to their satisfaction.
COOPER: All right, Sanjay, "Keeping Them Honest" tonight, appreciate it. We will bring you back, a lot to talk about, a lot of questions out there.
Still ahead: the return of right-wing militias. A new report says militant anti-government groups are on the rise and angrier than ever. We will have that report ahead.
But, first, Erica Hill has a 360 bulletin -- Erica?
ERICA HILL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, at the White House today, President Obama bestowing the country's highest civilian honor on 15 men and women.
Among those receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom today, Billie Jean King, Sandra Day O'Connor, Sidney Poitier, and Senator Ed Kennedy, whose daughter accepted on his behalf.
In Nigeria, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton appearing at a town hall meeting today to stress the importance of democracy, insisting free and fair elections are the best defense against government corruption.
She admitted even established democracies can struggle to get it right.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: Now, our democracy is still evolving. You know, we had all kinds of problems in some of our past elections, as you might remember. In 2000, our presidential election came down to one state where the brother of the man running for president was the governor of the state. So, we have our problems, too.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HILL: Those comments getting a lot of attention tonight.
And, in London, police today announcing an arrest in last week's $65 million jewelry heist. You will remember, we showed you the video. Well, a 50-year-old man arrested on Monday has already been released pending further investigation. It's unclear whether he's one of the two robbers who were described as armed and dangerous, shown fleeing the scene in those surveillance photos which were released yesterday -- Anderson.
COOPER: That's the -- I -- that's the first -- I was on -- away on a shoot. I hadn't seen that video. It's amazing.
HILL: It's crazy, $65 million worth.
COOPER: It's just unbelievable they got away.
All right, next: the fight for Afghanistan -- insurgents attacks on the rise, as more Marines pour into the country, ahead of the presidential election there. We will talk to Michael Ware and national security analyst Peter Bergen about what is at stake.
Also, militias in American, a serious and growing danger, according to a new report -- Internet recruiting videos on the rise. We will tell you why and where the threat exists.
COOPER: In Afghanistan today, fierce fighting erupted in a southern Taliban stronghold, as hundreds of U.S. and Afghan soldiers moved in to protect voters.
Now, a week from tomorrow, Afghans go to the polls to choose their president, only the second election since the fall of the Taliban in 2001. But insurgents have vowed to disrupt the vote, and attacks are on the rise.
So, let's dig deeper now with Michael Ware and national security analyst Peter Bergen.
So, Michael, July the deadliest month for U.S. and for NATO troops.
MICHAEL WARE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It is, indeed, 70-some-odd troop deaths.
COOPER: How tough is this going to be just to pull off these elections?
WARE: Well, I think the election will take place.
But, as President Obama's special envoy to Pakistan and Afghanistan, Ambassador Richard Holbrooke, said, you know, there's going to be problems. I mean, you have got the security issue. You have got corruption. You have already had election observers or election workers killed. I think there's nine who have been killed already.
There's going to be areas where essentially people will not be able to vote. So, there may be a degree of disenchantment or disenfranchising in some of the Pashtun areas. Either way, it's not going to be a pretty picture. But I think it lurch its way to some kind of, you know, successful outcome.
COOPER: Does the election really make much of a difference one way or the other in terms of success on the ground militarily?
WARE: In terms of the war, yes and no.
In a direct way, no, but, in a grander way, in terms of the longer strategy, yes. It's about trying to create a government that the Afghans can actually turn to now, because that's so important in counterinsurgency. It's instilling a government and forces in place that will provide the security, both in terms of delivering services and...
COOPER: And that's the knock on Karzai, is it's often said he's just the mayor of Kabul...
WARE: And he is. And let's not forget, Kabul has always been essentially a foreign country within Afghanistan. I mean, when I lived in Kandahar, I felt like I should have shown my passport to get into Kabul, because it's an entirely different place.
And you're right. Karzai lacks the ability to project central power into the regions.
WARE: But, then again, it's so difficult to create a central government, a real central government, in that country.
COOPER: When you lived in Kandahar, could anyone understand what the heck you were saying?
WARE: No, so it's no different to today.
COOPER: All right.
The -- the U.S. has said -- by the way, we're trying to establish a connection with Peter Bergen. We're having an audio problem, which is why...
WARE: I wondered why I was getting so much attention.
COOPER: We would be sharing the love here.
COOPER: But I want to play something that Richard Holbrooke, the -- as you mentioned, the State Department's special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, said. He made some interesting comments today.
Here's a little bit of what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RICHARD HOLBROOKE, SPECIAL U.S. REPRESENTATIVE FOR AFGHANISTAN AND PAKISTAN: I would say this about defining success in Afghanistan and Pakistan. In the simplest sense, the Supreme Court test for another issue, we will know it when we see it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: I think that other test was porn, wasn't it, or art? I'm not sure. Art or porn, it's often said...
WARE: Yes. Yes, right. I think that's right, yes.
But, that aside, it does seem like the Obama administration is trying to change the definition of what success is, trying to kind of drastically scale it down. You don't hear these talks about democracy, about nation-building.
COOPER: It's -- it's...
WARE: And so they should.
COOPER: It's preventing al Qaeda...
And -- and the Bush administration already set us down the track of reassessing the strategic goals. I mean, as we saw in Iraq -- look, let's face it, you're not going to have a glimmering model of democracy in South Asia, in Kabul. It's never going to be something perfect.
So -- and we've got to remember, too. Look, this really isn't a humanitarian mission. America did not go to Afghanistan for altruistic reasons. America is there to protect, preserve and advance American national security interests. So that's going to have to be the goal of the campaign.
COOPER: And so how is the fight going? I mean, early on we heard from U.S. commanders on the ground, saying point blank, "Look, there's not enough Afghan troops involved in this."
WARE: There's not. And they're again doubling the size of the Afghan army. And the Afghan army, as I last saw it, was really just a hodge-podge of different foot soldiers from different warlords. And back then when I last saw them, you know, they might have been wearing an Afghan national army uniform, but their true allegiances lie to the -- the bloke back home.
So this is going to be difficult.
In terms of the fight, I mean, it's true. The momentum right now is with the Taliban. And in a war like this, if you're not winning, then you're almost losing. America's not going to, like, lose the war in Afghanistan on the ground, but they may not win it.
The true victory won't come with bombs and bullets. It's going to have to come with a political solution and the creation of some kind of a functioning system, probably a decentralized system.
COOPER: Which even, by the way, U.S. military commanders say. There's not a purely military solution.
WARE: And they did right. Sorry to pardon the pump, but they are. They're dead right. The solution is not going to be in the trenches. You've got to have to cut deals.
COOPER: A lot of -- lot of folks working very hard right now fighting in the trenches, though.
COOPER: Michael Ware, appreciate it. So for Peter Bergen. Again, we tried to establish contact with him. This is what happens.
A quick program note: tomorrow on CNN, Christiane Amanpour reports in depth on the struggle for the hearts and minds of the next generation of Muslims. Her investigation goes deep inside Islamic society, even showing how one madrassa, religious school, one student from a madrassa, was recruited to join the Taliban. Take a look.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): "You will find my body in little pieces," sings one little boy in this Taliban propaganda video. It's targeting children, celebrating suicide.
The Taliban recruits its young martyrs from madrassas on the Pakistan-Afghan border. Shaki Hola (ph) was one of them.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): My dad was teaching me a couple of pages of the Koran. Then he couldn't do it, and he sent me to a madrassa.
AMANPOUR: His father sent him to a madrassa when he was just 10 years old, for a free education. But they didn't realize what else lay in store for him. UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): I was studying when I finished reciting the Koran. A mullah told me I should go commit a suicide attack. When I said, "No, I am not going," he forced me.
COOPER: "Generation Islam" airs at 9 Eastern tomorrow on CNN.
Plenty to talk about tonight. Join the live chat happening now at AC360.com. Talk to other viewers watching the program in America and around the world right now.
Just ahead, a chilling new report showing extreme right-wing militias on the rise, describing it as a powder keg. In the report, the only thing missing is a spark. We're taking your questions tonight for Mark Potok. His group, the Southern Poverty Law Center, author of the new report. You can text your questions to AC360 of 22360. Remember, standard rates apply. Again, remember, that's 22360.
Plus, five young women murdered, their bodies found along the same road. Is it the work of a serial killer? Now, three more women are missing. Police are scrambling to solve the case.
COOPER: Scott Roeder, the man charged with murdering Wichita abortion provider George Tiller sits in jail tonight, awaiting trial. Federal authorities are trying to figure out whether Roeder acted alone or was part of some sort of larger conspiracy.
Since his arrest, Roeder has had a steady stream of visitors in prison. A list showing who's come by to see him has recently surfaced. It includes a number of extreme right-wing abortion activists.
One of the people who knows Roeder best, his ex-wife, Lindsay Roberts, talked candidly to Gary Tuchman about the man she says changed into someone she no longer recognized.
This is a "360 Follow."
GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Lindsay Roberts married Scott Roeder 23 years ago. They're now divorced. They had a child together, so their lives have remained intertwined. But the man she married has long scared her.
(on camera) Did you think, in the years going by, that your ex- husband was capable of murdering a doctor who provided abortions?
LINDSEY ROBERTS ROEDER, EX-WIFE OF SCOTT ROEDER: Yes.
TUCHMAN (voice-over): Lindsay Roeder says on the day she got married, she never could have imagined the downward spiral her life would take.
(on camera) Were you in love when you got married?
TUCHMAN: Do you still love him?
ROEDER: I love the guy I married.
TUCHMAN (voice-over): This is the man she divorced, in court today, pleading not guilty to murdering abortion provider Dr. George Tiller. Lindsey did not want to see her ex-husband in person in Wichita. So she watched his preliminary hearing on the Internet with me in the Kansas City area, where she live.
ROEDER: Not a nightmare. It's life. It's true.
TUCHMAN: Over the years Lindsey said she saw her once stable husband become increasingly unglued, fanatical about religion and abortion. She filed for divorce after ten years. They stayed in touch because of their son Nicholas, who is now 22.
Just over a decade ago, when Roeder was stopped with explosives in his car, Lindsey says she warned investigators he was dangerous. So she was horrified but not shocked when her ex-husband was arrested for the murder of Dr. George Tiller.
ROEDER: My heart goes out to the Tiller family.
TUCHMAN: Two weeks after the murder, Lindsey Roeder received this letter from her ex-husband in jail.
ROEDER: "My guess is that I'll never hear back from you, because that would keep in character with being the grown-up spoiled brat that you are. But my true concern is with our son, Nicholas. I'm afraid he's becoming or already become a spoiled brat such as yourself. If you're an adult, you'll respond. If you're a spoiled brat, you won't."
TUCHMAN: Lindsey, who says she was emotionally abused for years by Scott Roeder, did not respond.
(on camera) There's a good chance that Scott will see this story or hear about this story. What would you say to him?
ROEDER: Scott, you had no right to take another person's life. You're not God. You're not a judge. You're not a jury. You say that you are protecting the unborn, that you did it for the children, that you were justified.
If you did it for the children, why did I have to fight for years to get child support to care for Nicholas? If you did it for the children -- if you did it for the children, why wouldn't you pay for a dentist for Nicholas?
TUCHMAN (voice-over): Hopes and dreams demolished so completely. (END VIDEOTAPE)
COOPER: That was Gary Tuchman reporting.
So if Scott Roeder was fueled by rage over a practice deemed legal under the law, as his ex-wife claims, he's certainly not alone. A new report out today from the Southern Poverty Law Center, details a sharp rise in anti-government, right-wing militias, with numbers growing rapidly, especially in the Midwest, Pacific Northwest, as well as the Deep South.
According to a new report, people drawn to these groups share a hatred of paying taxes, a suspicion of anything the government does, and deep outrage over the election of an African-American man as president.
So let's dig deeper with Mark Potok, director of the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Mark, why do you think there's been this increase in militia activity since the beginning of the year?
MARK POTOK, DIRECTOR, SOUTHERN POVERTY LAW CENTER: Well, I think, as you suggest in your intro, it really has a lot to do with the rise of the power of a black man.
You know, for these people, for this movement in general, the primary kind of enemy is the government, the federal government. That was true in the '90s, and it's true today. But the big difference today is that the federal -- the face of the federal government is the face of a black man.
So, you know, I'm not suggesting that all militias or all people involved in this movement or in this ideology, you know, are really Klansman secretly, but it is a far more racialized movement than what we saw in the '90s.
COOPER: So we did see a rise in the '90s. You're saying race is a much bigger factor this time around? And you're seeing that, what, in the rhetoric that they're using?
POTOK: Yes. In the rhetoric, in the conversation, the months themselves, and the kinds of issues they really take on. You know, it's really quite clear. You know, one thing you hear a lot -- again, not certainly from all people of this movement but for a great many of them -- is a lot of worry and angst over the idea that in 2042, as the Census Bureau has predicted, white Americans will lose their majority in this country.
So that's the, you know, very visible rise of power of Obama, the continuing relatively high rates of nonwhite immigration into this country, mainly Mexican and Central American. You know, all of those things are a part of this.
Certainly, there are other aspects that are much similar -- much more similar to what happened in the '90s. You know, a real worry about gun control, about sort of the new world order coming in and taking all Americans' freedoms away. You know, and even the kind of wacky stuff you hear from certain commentators about FEMA concentration camps and all the rest of it.
COOPER: We had a question from Text 360 from one of our viewers, LaserJamie (ph) in Miami. His question: "What democratic traits -- or excuse me, demographic traits do the militia members share?"
POTOK: Well, I think that militia members in the '90s were quite clearly from all classes of people. There were a number of academic studies that showed that pretty plainly. You know, it was not thick with lawyers and doctors and so on, but really, you had people from each kind of demographic.
I think that's probably less true today. I think that it is a more working-class phenomenon. But that is really only a sense. It's hard to say, you know, without doing a detailed study.
But you know, one thing I think that is clearly true is that we're talking, basically, about the rural population. We don't find these kinds of groups, with very few exceptions in urban areas and cities.
COOPER: And we're seeing more YouTube videos made by some of these groups.
POTOK: That's right. And the YouTube, of course, reflects the power of the Internet for these groups. And that is another piece of it. You know, while we look at this movement and we see, you know, a pretty disorganized movement of a lot of little different groups.
You know, the fact is that they are able to communicate, to sort of transmit ideology and, in fact, to make plans in terms of simply meetings and rallies and other events very easily. So that has been a great boost to them.
COOPER: And how many of these groups are just, you know, talkers? People who, you know, talk big, you know, love running around in forests dressed up in paramilitary gear, but ultimately, they don't amount to much?
POTOK: Well, I think that a lot of them are essentially just talkers, but talk is not always completely benign. I mean, I think we're seeing that right now in the town-hall meetings and so on.
And I think it is especially un-benign, if that's a word, malignant, you know, when the talk is coming from what I think are those really mainstream aiders and abettors. In other words, politicians and commentators who really reiterate and give some authority to the completely false ideas and propaganda theories of these groups.
So you know, what I'm saying is that there's a kind of poisoning of the mainstream political discourse. You know, instead of talking about health care, we're talking about death panels and that kind of thing. COOPER: Mark Potok, I appreciate it. It's an interesting report today out. Thanks very much.
POTOK: Thank you.
COOPER: You can go to AC360.com for the full report on the rise of militias, including a fascinating, if twisted, list of plots, conspiracies, and racist rampages in America since the Oklahoma City bombing.
Coming up next, a serial killer on the loose? Police in North Carolina think someone is getting away with murder, brazenly targeting women along one quiet road. What's taking so long to catch the killer? It's tonight's "Crime & Punishment" report.
And rescuers being rescued. Powerful floodwaters making it almost impossible to reach typhoon victims. We'll show you the harrowing video.
COOPER: Tonight a breaking story out of North Carolina. The remains of five women found in less than five years, all along a back woods byway known as Seven Bridges Road. Police believe their murders may be related.
What's even more frightening is three other women are now missing. Authorities scrambling for clues. Some fear the murders could be the work of a serial killer.
David Mattingly has the latest in tonight's "Crime & Punishment" report.
DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): If someone were looking for a place to get away with murder in North Carolina, Edgecombe County's Seven Bridges Road might be the place to go.
(on camera) Nothing. Nothing but trees and pastures.
(voice-over) Since 2005, the remains of five women, all African- American and suspected prostitutes, have been found here, among miles of woods and crops.
(on camera) There are any number of places you could pull off here. Like this spot right here. You could just drive off and disappear in the woods in a matter of seconds. Sadly, that's what's been happening to these women. They disappear, never be seen alive again.
Is this the work of a serial killer?
MICHAEL TEAGUE, FORENSIC PSYCHOLOGIST: Yes, I believe it is. Yes, I think the fact that the bodies have been found close together really would argue for a serial killer. TUCHMAN (voice-over): Michael Teague was once the state's top forensic psychologist and believes the killer is someone who could have a lot in common with his victims.
TEAGUE: Their economic background, their background, again the same race. So I think it's a person that would fit very easily within the environment.
TUCHMAN: All of the victims were last seen in the town of Rocky Mountain. We went to where they came from, an area where prostitutes work neighborhood streets.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Typically this is the area.
TUCHMAN: But we found the streets deserted, cleared by fear. Prostitutes are easy targets for killers, living fragile lives of society's fringes. Still, councilman Andre Knight says it shouldn't have taken years for the town to take notice.
(on camera) Is it just a matter of race? Or is it possible because of what they do for a living?
ANDREW KNIGHT, ROCKY MOUNTAIN CITY COUNCIL: I think it's a combination of both. Because even what a person does, they still have human rights.
TUCHMAN: A turning point in public awareness and the investigation itself was the fifth victim, Jarniece Hargrove, known to her friends as Sunshine. Friends and family publicly demanded justice. Local authorities asked the FBI to assist.
Like the other victims, she disappeared from Rocky Mount. Her body was found in June off Seven Bridges Road.
(on camera) From the streets of Rocky Mount, it's only about a 15-minute drive to get to places just like this. For all practical purposes, it's the middle of nowhere and this is where investigators say that the victims are being killed. They won't give us a lot of detail about what they're finding, but they do tell us that two of the victims were strangled; one was stabbed and beaten.
(voice-over) Three other Rocky Mount women who police say are not prostitutes are currently missing. The sheriff of Edgecombe County calls this a critical time in the investigation, leading many to hope that this lonely country road will soon lead to a killer.
David Mattingly, CNN, Rocky Mount, North Carolina.
COOPER: Scary stuff.
Still ahead, a no-holds-barred battle for TV ratings. What police say a Brazilian crime-show host did to win his time slot.
Also, another Michael Jackson tribute. This one apparently is going global. Details when we return.
COOPER: Now for some of the other stories we're following tonight. Erica Hill has a "360 Bulletin" -- Erica.
ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR: Anderson, a rescuer nearly swept to his death in the video we're about to show you. The raging waters following a massive typhoon in Taiwan. There's that video.
He's actually trying to cross the river to get to the remains of a temple on the other side. Luckily, he was pulled to safety. Hundreds more were also rescued, plus hundreds are still believed to be trapped in some villages in Taiwan and more than 100 people are confirmed dead.
New CNN polling tonight on former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin. Her approval numbers now at 39 percent. That's down seven points from May. We should point out that poll was taken before Palin's recent comments claiming provisions of health-care reform would result in a so-called death panel.
Another tribute in the works for Michael Jackson. The concert is scheduled for the end of the month in Vienna, Austria, on the grounds of a 17th century palace. No word, though, on who's going to perform.
And murder for ratings. That's what the cops allege. The host of a Brazilian crime show, who's also an elected legislator, he's under suspicion of commissioning at least five murders to boost ratings. Police also accused Wallace Souza of drug trafficking.
His attorney has said in a number of interviews that there is no evidence to prove this.
COOPER: Wow. That's crazy.
HILL: It's a crazy story. His son is part of it, according to the police.
HILL: You can't make it up.
COOPER: All right. Still ahead, everyone's favorite Atlanta housewife and mine, Nene. Apparently, she stopped by CNN today and had a message or two. I'm not sure what she said. I'm eager to see. Erica has tonight's "Shot."
And at the top of the hour, health-care town-hall tensions. Senators on both sides now facing the heat. We're "Keeping Them Honest."
HILL: As Anderson mentioned before the break, I'm going to take over the "Shot" tonight because, frankly, A.C.... COOPER: Yes.
HILL: When you were gone, there were a number of stories.
COOPER: By the way, thank you for -- for so eagerly filling in for me.
HILL: Well, thanks for letting me do it. It's my pleasure.
COOPER: Do you keep the room as icy cold as I keep it?
HILL: No, I didn't. In fact, that was on of the first things I said to start with (ph), "Hey, let's turn up the heat." But I digress.
So while you were gone, there were all these "Shots" and stories that would come up, and we'd say, "Oh, this would be great, but Anderson's not here. It's just not going to be the same."
So we thought that maybe we'd choose one of the staff favorites to share with you. We found this little ditty on "Entertainment Weekly's" "Pop Watch" block. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NENE LEAKES, "REAL HOUSEWIVES OF ATLANTA": I do watch Anderson Cooper. I love him a lot. He's very, you know, handsome and all that stuff. And sometimes I listen to the news, and sometimes I'm just looking at him, child.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He loves you, too. He...
LEAKES: Yes. I heard that he loves me, and I love him. So Anderson, if you're looking, muah. One more time.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HILL: Well, we know that Nene can't get enough of her boo, A.C. Donovan still better watch out.
The love fest continued today at the mother ship, CNN's Atlanta headquarters. Nene stopped by CNN.com. Apparently, she's got a new book. She was there to talk about it, but she also had to take a little quiz.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Bradley Cooper or Anderson Cooper?
LEAKES: Hey, Boo-boo! Anderson Cooper. That's my baby. How did you know that?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He said it before. He's on record as saying that he's a fan of the housewives, particularly "The Atlanta Housewives," particularly Nene Leakes.
Have you actually had a conversation with him yet? Have you had a meal? Have you sat down at Starbucks?
LEAKES: We have not sat down at Starbucks. And he was supposed to call in on the Andy Cullen show. But he was away swimming with the sharks, so Gail King called in instead.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Was that a good substitute?
LEAKES: Yes, Gail's a huge fan of the "Housewives."
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HILL: Swimming with sharks instead. How about that, Reggie O'Keefe (ph), throwing you under the bus there.
COOPER: Yes. Oh, well. Well, maybe, you know -- maybe we shall meet one day. Who knows?
Anything else? Is that it? Are we done?
HILL: That's all I've got for now. But you know, the week is young.
COOPER: Whew! I was almost afraid there was some big surprise.
You can see all the most recent "Shots," go to AC360.com.
Coming up at the top of the hour, serious stuff: the town-hall tensions over health-care reform and a powerful voice in the debate. Who President Obama just praised the other day, now telling people they have a right to be scared. We'll be right back.