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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES

President Obama Considers Afghanistan Options; Inside the Fort Hood Massacre

Aired November 11, 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: Tonight, two late-breaking items on Afghanistan: a strong warning to President Obama. Think twice about sending more troops to Afghanistan -- that warning from a former top general who is now America's ambassador in Kabul -- and late word that the president is rejecting all of the options for Afghanistan right now on the table.

Also tonight, the Fort Hood wounded, the heroes, the doctors in their own words talking with 360 M.D. Dr. Sanjay Gupta -- a 360 collusive.

And, later, the "Raw Politics" of "Sarah from Alaska," Sarah Palin. A new book is out, and what it says about Sarah Palin's rise to power, electoral defeat, departure from office, and presidential ambitions.

First up, the breaking news: President Obama rejecting all options now on the table for dealing with Afghanistan. This is big news.

Also tonight, word of two classified cables expressing deep reservations about risking more American lives to defend a corrupt Afghan government. These were not -- repeat -- not some low-level diplomatic communiques. They are from just about as close to the top as you can get. They were sent from Kabul by U.S. Ambassador Karl Eikenberry in the days leading up to President Obama's strategy session, which happened today at the White House.

Adding weight to Ambassador Eikenberry's warning, he is the former commander of U.S. troops in Afghanistan.

Tonight, late reaction to this last-minute dissent and late details of President Obama's rejection of his Afghan choices.

Suzanne Malveaux joins us now -- Suzanne.

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, I spoke with a senior administration official late this evening.

And, clearly, you have got eight meetings of his war council with the president. He's not satisfied, Anderson, with what he has before him. He's not accepting any of the four options that were presented when it comes to Afghanistan.

Here's how an official put it to me this way. He says that the president is seeking revisions, pushing for revisions on how, as well as when U.S. troops would turn over responsibility to the Afghan government. That is a major concern of this president.

The second thing, he says, he raised questions about how many additional troops would be sent to Afghanistan and what would the timeline be for their presence inside of the war zone -- that also something that he's very concerned about.

The third point, a key sticking point, this senior official administration told me, is the timelines and the mounting questions over the credibility of the Afghan government. This is something we have heard from time and time before. This is clearly something that the president still does not feel satisfied that he has a working partner in Hamid Karzai.

And, finally, administration officials say they want to make it clear that the U.S. commitment to Afghanistan, in this administration official's words, are not open-ended.

Anderson, it is very clear tonight that, after meeting with his war council, this president wants to know whether or not Hamid Karzai and his government, if they're willing or able to give him the kind of assurances he needs to agree to substantial increases in U.S. troops. That question, Anderson, tonight has not been answered. The president has not made a decision.

He wants those in the war council to go back and come up with some revisions, some alternatives that show him that this government is ready and willing and able to meet that kind of commitment to go ahead and move forward with those troops -- Anderson.

COOPER: Suzanne, I just want to ask you a question on this point, before we move on to what Eikenberry has recommended.

What -- what we're not saying tonight is that the president is rejecting the idea of sending in more troops. The four -- four possibilities on the table all had various different troop level strengths. He's not rejecting the notion of sending more troops. He just wants to drill down more on the details in these four plans, but he's rejecting them as they are currently, correct?

MALVEAUX: Yes, and that's -- that's absolutely right.

And what he's doing, Anderson, is, he's saying: Look, I want also an exit strategy here to work with. I am not going to commit a significant number of troops to go over in Afghanistan, unless we have a clear idea of a timetable.

When are the Afghan police and army going to be able to take over, to take on al Qaeda? Do we have a partner, a real partner, in Hamid Karzai in making sure that justice is done, that he -- that corruption is handled and taken care of inside of his government, so that they do feel confident that they're going to go ahead and send those troops, send those civilians over there?

So, no, he's not rejecting sending additional U.S. troops.

COOPER: Got it. MALVEAUX: He's saying: You know what? Let's get some more answers from this government. Let's figure out a better way of working with this within this system to make this thing happen.

COOPER: OK.

The other breaking news piece, CNN has confirmed that the U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Eikenberry has expressed deep concerns over sending in more troops to Afghanistan.

What's the latest on that?

MALVEAUX: And it doesn't get any closer than that, when you have got the -- the ambassador himself. The White House confirmed today that he was in this meeting, this closed-door meeting, via teleconference, video teleconference, making his views known.

They would not -- they would not comment on classified documents. But what they did say is: We don't discuss classified documents publicly, but, as we have said for months, success in Afghanistan depends on having a true partner in the Afghan government.

Once again, Anderson, they are focusing on this whole notion, this whole idea here...

COOPER: Yes.

MALVEAUX: ... that, in order to send in troops, they want an exit strategy. They want a commitment from this government -- they're not convinced that they have that yet -- that they're a real partner in this.

COOPER: Got it. Remarkable news tonight.

Suzanne, thanks. Stick around.

More now on the political and military angles with national security analyst Peter Bergen and senior political analyst David Gergen.

David, as Suzanne just reported, the president not choosing any of the four options laid out on the table, and Eikenberry expressing deep reservations -- this is big news.

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: It is. It's startling news, in many ways, Anderson.

I -- I do think a lot of Americans are -- will be heartened and continue to be heartened by the fact that the president is taking a lot of time to be very deliberate, trying to figure out how to get in and, very importantly, how to get out of Afghanistan.

But, at the same time, Anderson, this process has become long and very messy. And to have now, after more than two months of meetings, four options presented to him, and him not liking any of them, and saying, you have got to go back and do some more work, and have these open now dissent coming from -- having two generals on the ground -- General Eikenberry as ambassador and General McChrystal as commander on the ground -- openly just feuding with each other in public like this is nearly unprecedented.

You know, we used to talk about a team of rivals. We never imagined it would General McChrystal vs. General Eikenberry.

COOPER: Yes, Peter, what do you make of this?

PETER BERGEN, CNN TERRORISM ANALYST: Yes, General Eikenberry is a very capable ambassador and a very capable general. I mean, he was the commanding general from -- in 2006 and 2007.

He knows Hamid Karzai very well. And the fact that he's raising these issues about Hamid Karzai in this -- in these cables, I mean, that is pretty seismic, because...

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: Seismic?

BERGEN: Seismic. Yes, I think, if -- if -- if the idea is that we have got to wait for the Afghan government to become less corrupt and sort of sort themselves out before we can send any troops, I mean, that could be a very long time.

And even if you send troops tomorrow, you're still not getting all the troops in theater until the end of -- of -- of the following year. So, you know, decisions made today actually play out over a very long time. If you delay this decision, say, by several months, while you're waiting for the Afghan government to become less corrupt, or whatever it is that you want, you're looking suddenly at troops arriving, you know, in 2012.

COOPER: Right.

Suzanne, there's also reports that three top advisers, Secretary Clinton, Secretary Gates, and Admiral Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, favor sending about 30,000 more -- more troops.

I mean, clearly, there seems to be evidence of a tug of war at the highest levels of this administration.

MALVEAUX: There certainly seems to be evidence that that is the case.

We have known that there have been differences of opinions within the inner circle here. One of the -- the options they have been talking about at least that's favored by the Pentagon is some 34,000 U.S. troops being sent over.

One of the things that they're doing, Anderson, is that the president is looking at these troop numbers, but he's also looking at it in the context of, what can our allies offer us as well? And that's why these next couple of weeks are really critical.

COOPER: Yes.

MALVEAUX: He's going to be leaving for Asia tomorrow, a seven- day trip, meeting with key leaders over there. He's also waiting for the NATO conference, supposed to happen November 23.

COOPER: Right.

MALVEAUX: They're going to talk about troop levels there.

And he has a critical meeting with the prime minister of India here at the White House when he comes back that. That is really going to make a big difference. All those things, put them together, he's going to find out how much the rest of the world is behind this mission as well.

COOPER: Yes, although, certainly, we have been down this road before. He's tried to get more from the allies, and they haven't given more troops on the ground.

David Gergen, Peter Bergen, Suzanne Malveaux, appreciate it tonight.

Let us know what you think of the war, the possibility of sending more troops, and the warning tonight that the effort may be wasted and word of dissent within the administration. Join the live chat at AC360.com.

Up next: what it was like during the Fort Hood massacre, in the words of a wounded soldier and a skilled surgeon. Dr. Sanjay Gupta has the 360 exclusive. You will also hear from the police officer credited with stopping the gunman cold.

Also, "Up Close": more Muslim radicals cheering the killings, inciting jihad from here in the West. A minority, yes. The question is, how dangerous are they? Some answers -- when 360 continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Tonight, a 360 exclusive: what it was like inside the Fort Hood massacre, as told by the people who lived through it, put broken bodies back together, or, in the case of Police Sergeant Kimberly Munley, put their own bodies on the line and their law enforcement skills into action to stop the killer.

Here's what she told Oprah earlier today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE OPRAH WINFREY SHOW")

SERGEANT KIMBERLY MUNLEY, FORT HOOD POLICE: Yes, ma'am, I do. I remember it pretty vividly.

OPRAH WINFREY, HOST, "THE OPRAH WINFREY SHOW": What does it feel like?

MUNLEY: Not like people kind of describe on the movies or how the reactions are on the movies. It's -- when I got shot, it felt like, honestly, a muscle being torn out of my leg at the time.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Sergeant Kimberly Munley talking with Oprah Winfrey today.

Now 360 M.D. Dr. Sanjay Gupta with an exclusive: stories of two more remarkable people, one soldier and one doctor.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SPC. LOGAN BURNETTE, FORT HOOD SHOOTING VICTIM: The blood, seeing blood coming from everywhere.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): November 5, it started off as a normal day for Army Specialist Logan Burnette. He went to what is called Fort Hood's ready room, filling out papers, preparing to ship out to Iraq. Then, as he describes it, all hell broke loose.

BURNETTE: I got down once the shots were fired, out of instinct.

And, you know, I didn't know what to think. But seeing bullet wounds in the back of a friend's head, seeing friends grabbing their arms and blood just everywhere, it's a pretty hard thing to see, and not having any way of defending yourself.

(CROSSTALK)

GUPTA (on camera): You saw a bullet in the back of your friend's head?

BURNETTE: Yes. Yes.

GUPTA (voice-over): Authorities now say it was Major Nidal Hasan who was pulling the trigger, spraying those bullets, killing Specialist Burnette's fellow soldiers.

(on camera): What did he look like? I mean, what was he -- was he -- did he look angry? Did he look mad? I mean...

BURNETTE: Serious, intent. He stood up, screamed "Allahu akbar," and then he just started shooting.

GUPTA: He screamed "Allahu akbar"?

BURNETTE: He did, at the top of his lungs.

GUPTA: "God is great"?

BURNETTE: Yes. He didn't even walk in. Like, he -- it was like he had been in the room for a while in the corner, preparing. And, yet, nobody was really paying attention. It was like he just stood up and began firing on all of us, and then taking steps, and reloading and firing again, and reloading and firing again. GUPTA (voice-over): Burnette had been hit. He didn't even know it. He was crawling away, but the gunman kept coming closer, kept firing. Burnette felt hunted.

BURNETTE: And, as I was crawling, he hit me in the elbow and then once again in the...

(CROSSTALK)

GUPTA (on camera): So, you're crawling away, and he's shooting at you?

BURNETTE: Yes, as well as other people who are already on the ground.

GUPTA: I feel almost silly asking this question, but I -- but I don't know the answer to it. What did it feel like to get shot?

BURNETTE: It felt extreme pain throughout here, all throughout my abdomen. I didn't even know I had really been hit in the hip. I knew my leg wasn't working right for some reason. So, I didn't know where I had gotten hit. I could see, visually, my arm. I could see my pinkie. And I saw that, when my arm got it, I was already on the ground.

GUPTA: And here's what happened next. Just a few minutes later, doctors here at Metroplex got a call that eight wounded soldiers were going to come in through this emergency room. They quickly determined that Logan Burnette was one of the most serious. And off to the operating room, he went. Let's take a look.

The bullet came close to his blood vessels, though.

GAIL BURBRIDGE, METROPLEX ADVENTIST HOSPITAL: Yes, it did. It did.

GUPTA: If it had been just a little further back?

BURBRIDGE: If it had been one inch further back, it would have taken out the blood vessels to his leg, and he very well could have bled to death right there.

GUPTA (voice-over): Specialist Burnette has had two operations, and he has more to come. He's beaten, he's battered, but he also told me he's had time to think.

(on camera): There's a brotherhood, a sisterhood that I have always seen when I have traveled with the military all over the world. Your brother takes a shot at you.

BURNETTE: Right, three times, and shoots at all your other brothers. It's -- it's definitely a strange feeling.

GUPTA: What do you think should happen to him?

BURNETTE: I would like to make sure, one way or the other, he can never hurt anybody else.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Sanjay, what's -- what's the prognosis for -- for Specialist Burnette?

GUPTA: Well, I asked him and his doctor that very question. And they say, you know, they -- he expects to make a 100 percent recovery. He's in a wheelchair, as you saw. He's been having problems with his leg still.

But he's going to need a lot of rehab, Anderson, weeks, if not months, of rehab. In fact, he's leaving this area, going to Brooke Army Medical Center to get that treatment, which -- which, incidentally, is the same hospital where Major Hasan is also being treated.

So, you know, I asked Logan about that. He said he has some very mixed feelings about that.

COOPER: I can imagine.

Sanjay, thanks.

Also ahead tonight: The radicals on Western streets preaching hatred and holy war, are they reaching mainstream Muslims and radicalizing them? And how big a threat does their extreme brand of Islam pose?

Text us your questions for Peter Bergen to AC360, or 22360. As always, standard rates apply.

And, later, the decorated war hero who was not a hero at all, wasn't really decorated, never even went to war, never even served in the military -- how this guy caught -- was caught and why he was lying for so long about his background. We're "Keeping Them Honest" -- tonight on 360.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Ahead on 360: what happened when Carrie Prejean came on "LARRY KING LIVE," then almost walked off "LARRY KING LIVE."

Carrie, Carrie, Carrie. Larry, Larry, Larry.

First, some important stories we're following -- Erica Hill has a 360 bulletin -- Erica.

ERICA HILL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, we begin with very serious stuff, a former Blackwater vice president denying he knew anything about alleged bribes made to Iraqi officials after the killings of 17 civilians by Blackwater security guards more than two years ago.

A "New York Times" reporter alleges, the private company made secret payments of about $1 million to silence criticism and also to buy support for the company, which had lucrative contracts at stake. A senior official tells CNN the State Department is unaware of any such payments, although it did encourage Blackwater to compensate the victims of the shootings.

On Wall Street, stocks continuing their climb -- the Dow finishing at a 13-month high for a third straight day, thanks to another 44-point gain -- the Nasdaq and the S&P also climbing higher.

And, at CNN tonight, a farewell to one of our longest-serving anchors -- Lou Dobbs is leaving the network. And on his final broadcast tonight, he was part of the news.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "LOU DOBBS TONIGHT")

LOU DOBBS, HOST, "LOU DOBBS TONIGHT": I'm grateful for the many opportunities that CNN has given me over these many years. I have tried to reciprocate with the full measure of my ability and my energy.

Over the past six months, it's become increasingly clear that strong winds of change have begun buffeting this country and affecting all of us. And some leaders in media, politics and business have been urging me to go beyond the role here at CNN and to engage in constructive problem-solving, as well as to contribute positively to a better understanding of the great issues of our day, and to continue to do so in the most honest and direct language possible.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HILL: And, of course, we wish Lou and his family the very best.

COOPER: Yes, we certainly do.

Still ahold tonight: They're just a small fraction of Muslims, but determined to spread their message of hate. We showed you the radicals recruiting on the streets of New York last night. Tonight, Nic Robertson goes "Up Close" with another group of angry young radicals in London who are demanding Islamic law in Britain.

We're taking your questions. You can text them to AC360, or 22360. Standard rates apply.

And, later, Sarah Palin sitting down with Oprah Winfrey -- we will tell you about what Alaska's former governor said about the interview.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: We have been talking all week about the forces that may have turned an Army major, Nidal Hasan, a medical professional, into a mass murderer, forces including radical Islam.

And we want to underscore the radical part, not the mainstream variety that millions of Americans practice, a splinter of a splinter group spreading hate here in America and in the West. Tonight, though the violent exception to the rule, operating in America and Europe, we found these people recruiting on the streets of New York.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

YOUNES ABDULLAH MOHAMMED, REVOLUTION MUSLIM: I define terrorism as making them fearful so that they think twice before they go rape your mother or kill your brother or go onto your land and try to steal your resources.

YOUSEF AL KHATTAB, REVOLUTION MUSLIM: I love Osama bin Laden. I -- I love him like I can't begin to tell you, because I haven't seen that he's really done anything wrong from the Sharia.

If you're asking me if I love him as a Muslim, I love him like more than -- more than I love myself.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Members of a group of New York radicals Drew Griffin introduced us to last night and who praised the Fort Hood attacks.

Well, tonight, a group that's been recruiting members and condoning acts of terror since before 9/11.

Nic Robertson takes us "Up Close."

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice- over): Among Muslims in the United Kingdom, they are an angry minority.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One day, 10 Downing Street and the White House (INAUDIBLE)

ROBERTSON: They are uncompromising, their goal, nothing short of Muslim domination of the United Kingdom, if not the world.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This poster is basically showing how we will transform Buckingham Palace into a local mosque for the Muslims.

ROBERTSON (on camera): And what happens to the queen?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, the queen, she has a choice. She can either become Muslim or she can leave the country.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): This man, Anjem Choudary, is their leader. He demands Islamic law, known as Sharia, to be the law of the land.

ANJEM CHOUDARY, ISLAM4UK: Alcohol will be banned. Drugs will be banned. Pornography will be banned. Gambling will be banned.

ROBERTSON: Choudary's strategy is to pit Muslims against everyone else to create tension.

CHOUDARY: We do expect to enter into a struggle, if you like, of words, and maybe even more than that, before we can see the fruition of the Sharia, really, on state level.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Muslims are here to stay!

UNIDENTIFIED MALES: Muslims are here to stay!

ROBERTSON: Like Muslim radicals Yousef Khattab and Younes Abdullah Mohammed in New York, Choudary supports bin Laden and justifies the 9/11 attacks. In fact, Choudary claims he was spreading the message of jihad, or holy war, even before 9/11.

CHOUDARY: I have been to New York a couple of times before 9/11, and even to the Bible Belt -- I think they call it the Midwest. And, you know, it's about propagating Islam. I do believe that the Muslims in America are possibly five or 10 years behind in terms of the struggle that they're engaging in.

ROBERTSON (on camera): What Choudary is implying is that how radicalization evolves here in Britain and in Europe will, in some part, be a model for what the United States can expect. Here, terrorism officials say they're tracking about 30 serious terror plots, and radicalization has gone underground.

(voice-over): In the weeks after the London subway terror attacks in 2005, Choudary's co-leader, Omar Bakri, fled the U.K., fearing he would be arrested for his radical views. Now he's in Lebanon, broadcasting his message over the Internet, far beyond the reach of European and U.S. law enforcement. He describes the 9/11 attackers as the "Magnificent 19."

And, in Europe, it appears that message is turning into action. Last year, Belgian police busted a group alleged to be using chat rooms to recruit young Muslims for al Qaeda training in Pakistan.

GLENN AUDENAERT, DIRECTOR, BRUSSELS FEDERAL POLICE: We knew we were in the presence of an organization that is part of al Qaeda. We knew that these people were in contact with the highest levels of al Qaeda in Afghanistan.

ROBERTSON: One of those arrested was this woman, Malika el Aroud. Her Web site praised Osama bin Laden.

MALIKA EL AROUD, SUPPORTER OF OSAMA BIN LADEN (through translator): Most Muslims love Osama, like I love him myself.

ROBERTSON: Now she's in jail, charged with taking part in the activities of an Islamic terrorist group. She denies the charge, but others keep her Web site up and going.

ALAIN WINANTS, DIRECTOR, BELGIAN STATE SECURITY SERVICE: She is in fact one of the leading jihadist person on Internet. Her site on interests -- Internet attracts very much interest from other persons. ROBERTSON: Now, intelligence officials tell CNN, that a French atomic scientist charged last month with associating with terrorists was participating in Malika el Aroud's Web site.

Back in London, Anjem Choudary says, that's the point. You can be anywhere to recruit people to radical Islam.

CHOUDARY: So, it's very easy nowadays for people to build up links and communication very quickly, and, then, after that, you know, to disappear and to go off, you know, wherever they want to go.

ROBERTSON: And that means, even though these radicalizers are only a small fraction of the Muslim faithful, they do pose a growing threat here in Europe and in the U.S. and throughout the world.

Nic Robertson, CNN, London.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Let's dig deeper now.

Joining us again, CNN national security analyst Peter Bergen.

So, Peter, in Nic's piece, we heard someone say that Muslims in America are five or 10 years behind European Muslims in their struggle. We're talking about radical Muslims. Do you think believe -- do you think that's true? I mean, is -- is it kind of lagging behind here?

BERGEN: I think that is true.

I mean, I -- I think that, you know, we have seen enough cases, which we have discussed on the program, Anderson, before, in the last year or so in the United States. None of them are really linked, but they do show that there are people in the United States who subscribe to this jihadist ideology.

Clearly, Major Hasan seems to fit into that, but also Najibullah Zazi, the Afghan American who traveled to an al Qaeda training camp relatively recently, kid from Long Island who did the same thing.

We've seen just -- quite a few cases, and now this Revolution Islam that we're seeing on the screen is a very similar group to the Almad Jarou (ph) group in Britain. These al Qaeda support groups, unfortunately, can reach impressionable young men, looking for some kind of identity, and can get swept up in this and take this very seriously. And sometimes that can lead to actual acts of violence.

COOPER: You know, we got a lot of -- when we aired this story last night with these people that we're showing now who are preaching on the streets of New York, trying to recruit people, we got a lot of viewers who say, "Well, look, if they hate the United States so much, why don't they leave? Why are they actually living here?"

You can certainly understand the sentiment behind the question. I suppose they would answer that it's -- you know, that they see it as their mission to, you know, subvert this country or recruit as many people here as possible.

BERGEN: Well, and 30 years ago they might have been Maoists or joined the Weather Underground or joined some other revolutionary movement, and sometimes people just want to sort of act out. You know, it's not just necessarily about Islam; it's often just finding a form of identity where you can be opposed to the government in some, say, shape or form. And right now Jihadi ideology is a pretty convenient way to do that.

COOPER: We have a "Text 360" question. It comes from Southern California. They ask, "What are Muslims in the U.S. doing to weed out those that are trying to spread radical ideology in U.S. mosques?"

BERGEN: Pardon me? What are...

COOPER: "What are Muslims in the United States doing to weed out those that are trying to spread radical ideology in U.S. mosques?"

We should point out that those people proselytizing on the streets of New York are being condemned by the people in the mosques or the leaders of the mosque that they're standing right outside of.

BERGEN: Well, that's right. And I mean, most -- the vast majority of mosques in the United States, and indeed in the UK, or other places, I mean, they try and exclude the radical elements.

And often the radical elements aren't in the mosques at all. In fact, they're meeting in people's, you know, living rooms or some small space or they're meeting each other on the Internet. And that's a lot harder to control anyway.

COOPER: Peter, appreciate you being with us. Thanks, Peter.

Up next, a war hero who was anything but. He wore the uniform, he had the medals, claims he served valid -- valiantly with the Marines. That's his picture. But guess what? The FBI says it was all a lie. Tonight, the story behind this impostor.

And later, being Sarah Palin. She's talking to Oprah Winfrey and plugging a new book. The latest on her new path and what the authors of a new book about her are saying. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: On this Veterans Day and on every day, we honor our men and women in uniform here at home and overseas in the wars past and present. We are, of course, grateful for their service and their sacrifice.

We see it in Iraq. We see it in Afghanistan. We witnessed it last week at Fort Hood and pay tribute to all of them. We've also been confronted with impostors. Earlier this year, I spoke to one man who fooled a lot of people, including politicians, into believing he had served 2 1/2 tours in Iraq.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Rick, thanks for being was.

For the record, I just want to get a couple things clear. You had said you served 2 1/2 tours in Iraq with the Marines. In fact, you were never a Marine. You were never in Iraq, correct?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Correct, Anderson.

COOPER: And you claimed you had gone to Annapolis to the naval academy. You did not go to Annapolis, correct?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That is correct, Anderson.

COOPER: And you claimed you were at the Pentagon on 9/11. You told a very dramatic story about being in the Pentagon on 9/11. You were never there?

WARE: That is correct, as well.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: That interview was back in June.

Tonight, a California story of another man pretending to be a Marine. Randi Kaye tonight is "Keeping Them Honest."

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): He's a decorated Marine who says he's some of the most prestigious awards in the military. But the FBI says 39-year-old Steven Burton is a fraud, not a Marine at all, but a bank employee in Palm Springs, California, who's been masquerading as a Marine.

Burton is expected to turn himself in tomorrow on the misdemeanor charge of unauthorized wearing of military medals.

The FBI agent who tracks what's called stolen valor cases around the country, did not want to be identified but spoke to us by phone.

(on camera) Help me if you can sort of get inside the mind of some of these people. Why do they do it?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (via phone): Wearing medals you didn't earn gives them automatic self esteem. You know, 100 guys in uniform in a room, and the one with the most medals on their chest is going to get the most attention.

KAYE (voice-over): Burton first raised eyebrows last fall at his high school reunion, where he caught up with a real Navy commander, Colleen Salonga. They graduated together in 1988. Salonga was suspicious, so she asked to pose for a photo with Burton and sent it to the FBI.

In it he's wearing a lieutenant colonel officer's uniform. The FBI dug deeper and exposed Burton's alleged charade when agents found this other photo online of Burton in uniform. Here, he's dressed as a gunnery sergeant, wearing a bunch of what investigators say are bogus medals.

But not just any medals: some of the nation's highest honors. A Purple Heart, given to those wounded or killed in action. A Bronze Star, awarded for heroic service, and the Navy Cross, the highest medal the U.S. Navy can award.

Tom Richards really earned a Navy Cross.

TOM RICHARDS, NAVY CROSS RECIPIENT: There are frauds against our country and there are frauds against all of our services. They're frauds against the patriotism of the United States. The valor that they steal chips away at our credibility. So yes, we are outraged.

KAYE: The Stolen Valor Act of 2005 makes it illegal to wear or buy any medals from the armed services unless otherwise authorized.

(on camera) If you think this can't get any more outrageous, it does. The FBI says Burton wasn't just wearing medals but boasting online about his alleged combat at one of the most notorious battles in Iraq.

His blog from August reads, "I'm a 39-year-old master gunny that has traveled a lot and seen more than I would have cared to. I served one tour in Afghanistan and four tours in Iraq, including the battle for Fallujah."

(voice-over) The FBI says Steven Burton never served a day in his life in any branch of the military.

We tried reaching Burton at his home. His roommate directed us to his lawyer, who wouldn't discuss the case. We couldn't help but notice the flagpole in Steven Burton's front yard, proudly displaying the American flag.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: I mean, it's outrageous that -- that somebody would do this and get away with it for so long.

KAYE: It really is. And Anderson, it goes beyond just dressing up. I mean, these medals really get these people special treatment. They get better parking spaces. But the real thing they can get is they get ahead of the others, the real heroes, the real veterans. They get ahead of them at the V.A. hospital. So they get faster treatment before the men and women who really did serve.

COOPER: How common is this, and what kind of punishment do they get? KAYE: Well, the -- the FBI agent who we spoke with, who tracks these cases around the country, he said that there have been more than 1,000 Marines that have been exposed nationwide. Not all of them have been prosecuted.

And in terms of this case, the case of our -- of Steven Burton, who we featured tonight, he's been charged with a misdemeanor. So he stands to get maybe a year in prison, in fact. But being exposed is the real punishment, we're told, for them.

COOPER: Randi, fascinating. Let's keep on it. Thanks, Randi.

Up next, "Sarah from Alaska." Sarah Palin, we're talking about. She was in Chicago, sat down with Oprah Winfrey today. We've got the details about the interview you won't see on TV until next week.

And a little later, why former Miss California Carrie Prejean almost seemed like she was going to bail out on Larry King in the middle of their interview. It's our "Shot of the Day."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Tonight, the "Raw Politics" of Sarah Palin. The former governor of Alaska sat down with Oprah Winfrey today. The interview has not yet aired, but Ms. Palin, who seems to love Twitter, did send out this post: "Willow, Piper and I are in Chicago and just wanted to let you know that I had a great conversation with Oprah today. Oprah was very hospitable and gracious, and her audience was full of warm, energized and no doubt curious viewers."

The former vice-presidential candidate is a busy lady. She has a new book to promote, a new push to make the Republican Party more conservative, and possibly big plans to run for president in '12. If you love her or hate her, Palin continues to be a polarizing figure, and she knows it.

Candy Crowley reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Sarah Palin sat down with Oprah Winfrey today.

GAYLE KING, OPRAH'S FRIEND: Sarah is a pro. She's a pro and so is Oprah.

CROWLEY: Apres Oprah, the bus tour. Newly-published book in hand, Palin hits the road, kind of like a campaign.

SARAH PALIN, AUTHOR, "GOING ROGUE": I think I'm going to have to cast my vote for the maverick.

CROWLEY: She will visit mostly small and mid-sized towns in politically-pivotal states: Iowa, Florida, Virginia, Michigan. Is this a book tour fueled by politics? Or a political tour fueled by a book? Probably, yes. Sarah Palin is a two-fer. DAVID FRUM, FORMER BUSH SPEECHWRITER: Sarah Palin generates a lot of news. And she's one of those people who manages to straddle that line between politics and soap opera, like Bill Clinton did.

CROWLEY: It's a lucrative combo. The Republican ticket's No. 2 is Amazon's No. 1 in non-fiction pre-sales.

FRUM: The danger for her is she may have moved out of the political leader box into the celebrity box.

CROWLEY: She is as famous for her loyal following in the Republican Party as for the unsubstantiated and forcibly denied "say- everything" tales from this soon-to-be pin-up for "Playgirl" magazine, the former boyfriend of Palin's daughter, on CBS.

LEVI JOHNSTON, FATHER OF PALIN'S GRANDCHILD: She's coming home from work and, you know, she's like, "Where's my retarded baby?" All this.

CROWLEY: Even as she fended off Levi Johnston and wrote her book, Palin has remained attentive to the core of her support, the conservatives who fell in love on the campaign trail.

PALIN: You betcha. It's drill, baby drill.

CROWLEY: In recent weeks, Palin has railed against health-care reform to thousands of anti-abortion activists, kept up an unusually active Facebook page, lent her endorsement to a Conservative Party candidate over a Republican one in upstate New York, and made robo calls on behalf of a conservative group in the Virginia governor's race.

PALIN: Virginia, hello. This is Sarah Palin calling to urge you to go to the polls Tuesday and vote to share our principles.

CROWLEY: A recent CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll found 85 percent of Republicans say Palin agrees with them on their most important issues. Only 49 percent of independents felt that way, and it's hard to win a national election with those kinds of numbers.

But if Palin is eyeing 2012, her biggest liability is not independent voters, the sideshows, or her paint-outside-the-lines style. The poll found that 71 percent of Americans do not think Palin is qualified to be president, exacerbated by the decision to quit as governor of Alaska.

PALIN: Only dead fish go with the flow.

CROWLEY: It is the kind of rogueness that made her a household name. But in the end, it may also make Sarah Palin a player who helped shape the party, not a player who leads it.

Candy Crowley, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE) COOPER: My next two guests covered Sarah Palin during the 2008 presidential campaign. In their new book, "Sarah from Alaska," they reveal new details about her rise to political stardom and her behind- the-scenes battles with running mate Senator John McCain.

Joining me are the authors, Shushannah Walshe and Scott Conroy.

Shushannah, next week, it's a huge week for Sarah Palin in her career. She -- her memoir is coming out. She's going to be on "Oprah." Is this -- I mean, is looking at this, do you think, as sort of a reintroduction to -- to Sarah Palin?

SHUSHANNAH WALSHE, CO-AUTHOR, "SARAH FROM ALASKA": I do think that. And it's going to be more back on the campaign trail. She's going to be with Oprah, Barbara Walters and do some FOX shows. Then she'll be back in some of the places she was on during the campaign. She's actually starting Grand Rapids, and back in Michigan, where we -- and we actually go into this in the book. She really wanted to give Michigan a second chance.

I'm sure you'll remember that the McCain campaign pulled out of Michigan. She did everything in her power to try to convince them to go back in, even though the polling, the data, the senior advisers say they had no shot there. We were able to -- one e-mail was from Sarah Palin that said, it's a quick drive, I'll even pay for the gas. So she'll definitely be happy to be back out there.

COOPER: Scott, what do you think -- what does Sarah Palin want? Do you think she is looking at 2012 as -- at a presidential run?

SCOTT CONROY, CO-AUTHOR, "SARAH FROM ALASKA: Yes. I mean, we get asked all the time do we think she's going to run for president. And the short answer is we think, yes, she's going to at least explore it. She was not coy. She was asked directly after the election, "Do you want to be president? Will you run in 2012?"

She said, "If there are any open doors, I will crash right through them."

Now, she has a huge uphill battle ahead of her. I mean, most of the country, polls have shown do not think she's qualified to be president. Those disastrous Katie Couric interviews are going to live on, on the Internet, forever. But throughout her career, she's been underestimate. So I think it's a big mistake for people to write her off.

COOPER: Do you know why it was she resigned as governor of Alaska?

WALSHE: We as stunned as anybody, but we were up there after she came back. And we saw what kind of homecoming she got. It wasn't the tens of thousands of supporters she saw on the campaign trail. She came back, and the grind, the arduous grind of everyday governing was -- she didn't enjoy it anymore.

You saw how those ethics complaints got to her. But also, the day that she resigned, you remember her press secretary was in New York state, wasn't even up there. So it's a decision that was definitely made in haste.

COOPER: Yes, I remember talking to the press secretary that night. And she was like, oh, yes, we knew about this in advance. Which seemed odd, you know, why this woman would have taken a vacation, though, when her main client was about to -- to resign her job.

WALSHE: Exactly.

COOPER: Scott, Sarah Palin originally said she would cooperate with your book and then clearly changed her mind. I think at one point they said you guys were stalking them. What happened?

CONROY: Yes, yes, I mean, when we first got the book deal, they said, "Yes, come up any time you want, we'll do an interview." And so we did come up anyway. They ended up canceling on us.

But when we got up there, we were in Juneau, which is a town of 30,000 people, and about a tenth the size of Anchorage, to put that in some perspective. And we were walking down the street one day. And Piper Palin was coming the other way on the sidewalk. So we knew her from the plane. She had always used to come around to the back of the plane to joke with the press corps.

And actually, we learned later that one of -- from one of McCain's senior aides told us that Palin would encourage Piper to come and talk to us in the back of the plane, sort of butter up the press. So we knew her very well. We said hello, asked her how school was going, continued to walk.

About half hour later, Shushannah got a phone call from Governor Palin's press secretary that accused us of cornering Piper at her bus stop for comment for the book, which as you know, no journalist would ever ask a 7-year-old for a comment on the book and then, for good measure, she accused us of stalking the governor.

COOPER: You guys have a fascinating story in the book about -- you know, which kind of shows the dysfunctional relationship between the Palin teams and the McCain teams. Basically, on election night Sarah Palin, you know, was furious that she wasn't allowed to give a speech. And after John McCain left the arena, she went back on stage with her family, ostensibly to take some photos. The McCain aides were so worried she was going to try to speak, they actually ordered the lights and sound turned off on her.

WALSHE: Yes, exactly. And they were so afraid that, even after John McCain had left the hotel that she was going to give this speech, the speech that she had been told four times up until almost at the stage that she was not allowed to give. They were so afraid that she would give this speech that they literally turned the lights off and the sound off on her. And she -- she told her friends and family that she just wanted to get out there and take pictures. But they -- they wouldn't take the risk.

COOPER: It's a fascinating book. Shushannah Walshe, Scott Conroy, congratulations.

WALSHE: Thank you.

CONROY: Thank you very much.

COOPER: A quick note. Just before Candy's piece, we talked about what Ms. Palin said about her appearance on Oprah. It was not on her Twitter page, as we said. It was on her Facebook page.

Moving on, tomorrow on 360, he was a popular Franciscan priest in the Catholic Church, but he was living a secret, if not a lie. He had a relationship with a church member, and they had a baby.

Gary Tuchman is here with a preview -- Gary.

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, a Missouri woman signed a confidential agreement with the church, pledging to keep quiet about the priest. She says she was intimidated, signing an unreasonably low financial settlement to support her child.

That was 22 years ago. Now her son is dying of cancer, and she says she can't afford proper care.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TUCHMAN: What do you think their motivation was to sign an agreement with you?

PATRICIA BOND, HAD A CHILD WITH A PRIEST: There was no question of silence. You have to go away. You have to stake your story. You have to take your children and you have to get out of this town. We were a small community. Everybody knew everybody.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): The priest's responsibility is one thing, the church is another. So we went looking for the Franciscan leader who made the deal.

(on camera) When you had discussions with your colleagues, protecting the church was part of the reason you wanted to have this confidential agreement, right?

REV. ROBERT KARRIS, FORMER FRANCISCAN PROVINCIAL MINISTER: That is part of the reason, yes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TUCHMAN: He insists protecting the mother and her son was also part of the reason. But now, as her son is dying, that mother says she is no longer keeping things confidential -- Anderson.

COOPER: It's an amazing, amazing story. Gary, we're "Keeping Them Honest." That's tomorrow night on the program on 360.

Up next, new details about the pilot pulled off a packed airliner because he was allegedly too drunk to fly. Plus, Carrie Prejean threatens to walk off the set of "Larry King Live." It happened about an hour ago. The dethroned beauty queen getting a little ugly. That's tonight's "Shot."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: All right. Time to catch up with some other important stories we're covering. Erica Hill has a "360 Bulletin" -- Erica.

ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR: Anderson, we begin with a 360 follow. The United Airlines pilot accused of drinking on the job will be tried in the UK. Erwin Washington facing up to two years in prison if convicted. He was pulled from a Chicago-bound flight on Monday just before its departure from London's Heathrow Airport.

The chief of AIG says he's staying. The federal compensation limits are preventing him from getting and keeping talent. AIG has, of course, received $182 billion tax dollars as it collapsed last year.

And tough to believe, but that's a scenic detour. The slide happened on Highway 64 outside of Chattanooga, Tennessee. Crews were clearing rubble from a prior slide when it seemed like the entire hillside came down.

COOPER: Wow.

HILL: Luckily, no one was hurt. The highway, though, could actually be out of commission for weeks. A few -- few headaches there.

COOPER: Wow. Amazing that they got it on camera.

All right, Erica, this moment happened right before we went on the air. I don't know what it was really about. I only saw it. I couldn't actually hear it. Carrie Prejean seeming to threaten to walk off the sing -- the set of "Larry King Live."

HILL: Oh, she did?

COOPER: Let's see what we -- what happened.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LARRY KING, HOST, "LARRY KING LIVE": It is -- in mediation, it was discussed why you were mediating?

CARRIE PREJEAN, FORMER MISS CALIFORNIA USA: Larry, it's completely confidential, and you're being inappropriate, OK?

KING: OK. "Inappropriate King Live" continues.

PREJEAN: Yes.

Detroit, hello.

CALLER: Hi, I'm calling from Detroit.

KING: Yes? CALLER: I'm a gay man. And I love pageants. I'm sure that you, Carrie, have got, you know, great gay friends that helped you possibly win. What would you give them as advice if they wanted to get married?

KING: Did you hear the question, Carrie? Did she hear the question?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HILL: Yes.

COOPER: Wow. So -- so...

HILL: She actually told Larry several times he was inappropriate, which I thought was interesting.

COOPER: She told Larry he was inappropriate?

HILL: She told Larry he was inappropriate several times. And she kept saying that she had signed a confidential agreement in her mediation, which -- which is true.

COOPER: Right.

HILL: But I found it interesting, and this is just observation, watching it. Larry asked her some other questions specifically about that sex tape we've heard so much about.

COOPER: Right.

HILL: Because she's 17, he asked if she would legally try to have it blocked, because it could be considered child pornography.

COOPER: Right.

HILL: She was underaged. She said she couldn't talk about it because of the mediation, which maybe that was discussed there, but that seemed interesting.

He also asked whether or not she'd actually watched it. She said she couldn't talk about that because of the mediation.

And then after the break they came back, and she said the reason that she was going to walk off is because she was told she wouldn't have to take any calls from viewers.

COOPER: Bizarre. But she didn't end up walking. She just -- she ended up staying, and then, like, Larry had to fill in the rest of the time with, like, questions that I guess she...

HILL: Hawking her book, basically.

COOPER: To hawk her book. Wow. What I -- yes. OK.

HILL: She smiled through it all. COOPER: She did smile through it all, but if you notice, her smile sort of turns into a sneer after a while.

HILL: I think it was hiding a little disdain.

COOPER: I think so. The smile that masked so much.

All right. Submit your "Shot" questions to AC360.com.

Coming up at the top of the hour, serious stuff, the breaking news involving Afghanistan. President Obama rejecting all the options on the table. That's the breaking news tonight.

And the American ambassador in Kabul warning against sending more troops. We'll be right back.