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Oprah: End of an Era; Killings at the Canal; How Could this Happen?

Aired November 20, 2009 - 23:00   ET



ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Tonight, the end of an era. Oprah Winfrey's cheerful goodbye and why she's giving up her popular daytime talk show after 25 years. Plus, her unprecedented influence and impact and what comes next? Suzy Orman, Lisa Ling and Larry King weigh in for our "Uncovering America" segment ahead.

Also tonight, our 360 Special Investigation continues. "Killings at the Canal: The Army Tapes". What really drove three decorated sergeants to execute four Iraqi men? Did the Army's own rules for holding detainees play a role? Were those rules too strict? We're they putting soldiers at risk? Tonight you can decide for yourself.

And later, "Crime & Punishment:" a 15-year-old girl fights for her life after being gunned down. Her alleged attackers -- five other teenagers. What is happening to our kids?

First up tonight, Oprah Winfrey's long goodbye began today in the final ten minutes of her show. She told her fans the news that broke yesterday that she's ending her successful daytime talk show 22 months from now in September, 2011.


OPRAH WINFREY, HOST, "THE OPRAH WINFREY SHOW: After much prayer and months of careful thought, I've decided that next season, season 25 will be the last season of "The Oprah Winfrey Show."

And over the next couple of days, you may hear a lot of speculation in the press about why I am making this decision now. And that will mostly be conjecture. So I wanted you to hear this directly from me.


COOPER: Winfrey said that 25 years felt like the right time to say goodbye. There were also tears today, though. In a moment we'll talk to Suze Orman, Lisa Ling and Larry King. But first "Uncovering America": here is Erica Hill.


ERIC HILL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It was a farewell to remember.

WINFREY: I love the show. This show has been my life. And I love it enough to know when it's time to say goodbye.

HILL: Choking back tears, an emotional Oprah Winfrey announcing next season will be her last.

WINFREY: Twenty five years feels right in my bones and it feels right in my spirit. It's the perfect number; the exact right time. So I hope that you will take this 18-month ride with me right through to the final show.

HILL: A quarter century of highs, lows, and plenty of headlines. From Oprah's struggles with her weight to the celebrity interviews impossible to forget to the power of her political support.

She's also launched careers. Dr. Phil and Dr. Oz and turned little known authors into household names.

PATTIE SELLERS, EDITOR AT LARGE, "FORTUNE": You could argue that she is the most popular woman ever on television, in terms of a media entrepreneur, more successful than anyone has ever been. And she's been really careful. She's controlled her assets.

HILL: It is a global empire. The show is seen in 145 countries by 42 million people a week. There are also magazines, Internet, radio and film ventures as well as her many philanthropic causes. Nearly everything Oprah touches seems to shine. And she's not done yet.

SELLERS: She's creating a 24-hour a day cable channel that is about empowerment and life purpose. This is a new and big and very risky thing for her. And she's putting her reputation on the line.

HILL: The Oprah Winfrey Network or OWN is a 50/50 venture with Discovery Communications but Oprah will have control. OWN will replace the Discovery Health Channel in 2011, a channel that now has 70 million subscribers.

SELLERS: This is her act two. Women -- powerful women, successful women, often live their lives in chapters. And she's on to her next chapter.

HILL: But that act is more than a year away. Today, Oprah was still focused on her first act.

WINFREY: These years with you -- our viewers have enriched my life beyond all measure. And you all have graciously invited me into your living rooms, into your kitchens, and into your lives. And for some of you, long time Oprah viewers, you have literally grown up with me. We've grown together.

HILL: And for her fans, a very personal thank you.

WINFREY: I want you all to know that my relationship with you is one that I hold very dear. And your trust in me, the sharing of your precious time every day with me has brought me the greatest joy I have ever known.

HILL: Erica Hill, CNN, New York.


COOPER: Well, Winfrey didn't mention her next step, her own cable network at all today. Instead she promised her fans an exciting final season.

Let's dig deeper. Joining me by phone: personal finance expert, Suze Orman who's been a frequent guest in "The Oprah Winfrey Show", She writes a regular column also for "O" magazine; plus, Lisa Ling, special correspondent for "The Oprah Winfrey Show"; and CNN's Larry King, who's interviewed Oprah many times.

Larry, people refer to Oprah's golden touch. What do you think is behind her many successes?

LARRY KING, CNN HOST, "LARRY KING LIVE" (via telephone): I think she was every woman or is every woman. That sounded today like this is her last day. She's got quite a way to go.

I think she touched everybody. There was something about her. She wasn't black, she wasn't white. She was just everybody. She -- despite being enormously rich, she understands the calamities of the poor.

She could make a book. She could break someone. She could make -- I think she had a lot to do with the election of Obama. I do not diminish her in any way. I think she is the strongest force in television today individually and maybe ever.

COOPER: Suze, you're a regular guest on her show. What do you think that separates her from the rest?

SUZE ORMAN, HOST CNBC, "SUZE ORMAN SHOW" (via telephone): I think it's her understanding and her connection, Anderson, with the person that she happens to be interviewing at the time. It's almost as if she becomes part of that person's life and can bring things out so that her entire viewing audience can understand the topic at hand.

She's a life phenomenon there. You know, people are talking about who's going to replace her. Oh, give me a break. Nobody is ever going to be able to replace the phenomenon known as Oprah Winfrey.

COOPER: Lisa, you've been on that set many times. We're just seeing a picture of Suze Orman on that set. What's it's like to be there sitting with her, I mean, I've been on the show many times. It's a unique environment that she has created there.

LISA LING, SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT, "THE OPRAH WINFREY SHOW" (via telephone): It really is surreal every time I am sitting on that set and I look to my left and I see one of the most iconic figures in media history. And to underscore what Suze and Larry were saying, Oprah -- one of the things that makes her so unique is she has been so candid about everything that she went through as a young girl and that the hardships that she had to endure. And I think that that candor combined with the fact that she has maintained such an admirable level of integrity in everything that she has done has just really engendered her into people's lives and hearts.

And the fact that she is on day time television, the fact that she still has a commitment to covering really important stories. I mean she sent me to the Congo to cover stories about gang rape or dowry death in India. She's committed to telling stories that she thinks Americans should be aware of.


Suze, Lisa and Larry, stay with us. We've got to take a quick break. We're going to have more discussion about Oprah Winfrey ahead. You can join -- there's a live chat right now under way. Let us know what you think about Oprah's decision at

Coming up, Oprah's impact and for Suze and Lisa, what's it's been like to be part of that Oprah phenomenon.

Later, the Fort Hood shooting suspect faces his first court hearing in his hospital room. Will the paralyzed Army Major Nidal Hasan be moved to jail? Details ahead.


COOPER: We're talking about Oprah Winfrey and her decision to end her popular daytime talk show. She made the announcement near the end of her program today. Here's part of it.


WINFREY: Twenty four years ago on September 8th, 1986, I went live from Chicago to launch the first national "Oprah Winfrey Show." I was beyond excited. And as you all might expect, a little nervous. I knew then what a miraculous opportunity I had been given. But I certainly never could have imagined the yellow brick road of blessings that have led me to this moment with you.


COOPER: Winfrey then told her viewers that next year will be the show's final season. There were some tears, a standing ovation of course from her studio audience. The news about her last season broke yesterday but hearing it today from her was a classic Oprah Winfrey moment.

Our panel joins me again by phone: Suze Orman, Lisa Ling and Larry King.

Larry, when did you first start interviewing her?

KING: Well, first it started when she interviewed me. This goes back a long way, Anderson. In early 1980s, I had started in 1978 doing a national talk show, first network national radio show. And Oprah did a morning talk show in Baltimore. She was on with a co-host who was a news anchor in Baltimore. One of the things they did was surprise their guests.

So I was invited to be on one morning. I believe it was about 1982. And I came on and what they did was they took my daughter out of school. She went to school in nearby Baltimore near the television station. And she was the surprise guest coming from behind the curtain. And I remember Oprah telling me that day -- and she remained very friendly with my daughter to this day.

Telling me that day she wanted to go on to better things. And then she went to Chicago. And when I started on CNN which was June 1st, 1985, I spoke to her before she went on the air in '86 in Chicago to go national. She'd have been local in Chicago. And she was so excited. And I said to her, I think you're going to make it.

A thing they forget about her; she was a terrific actress, too. I don't know why she stopped doing movies.

COOPER: And Lisa, you have a great example of just the power of Oprah Winfrey.

LING: Yes, Anderson. One of the first stories that the show sent me to do is cover the tragic story of how many women are being gang-raped by foreign armies in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. And her viewers were so touched by it. It was an incredibly gruesome show. But it made such an impact in one episode of television it raised $2.5 million in the first airing of that episode.


LING: And cumulatively after three airings, it raised over $5 million. And I don't think any show has ever, ever come close to having the kind of impact that hers has.

COOPER: And Suze, you were on recently, giving away a free book. What happened with that?

ORMAN: Yes, well, you know, Anderson, it wasn't enough for Oprah just to want to bring books out for her Oprah Book Club where people had to buy them. No, Oprah wanted to create original programming, original ideas and with my book "Women and Money," we went on there and we had approximately 24 hours to let people download a hard back book in totality. And 1.5 million people in that period of time downloaded that book.

So Oprah made that book available to everybody as well as the publisher did but throughout the entire United States, simply to enhance reading and getting women to be educated all for free.

COOPER: How big a gamble, Suze, do you think the OWN Network is going to be, the Oprah Winfrey Network?

ORMAN: Well, I think it's a gamble. However, I think with the right people in place, I think Oprah knows very well what she's doing. And if you ask me, the trend is going towards cable. I don't care what anybody else is saying. So I think if I were advising is it a good business move, I have to tell you, I think it's a great business move and one that I think she's going to be able to pull off.

COOPER: Lisa, were you surprised by the announcement? I mean, there have been a lot of kind of rumors about it, a lot of talk about it.

LING: I wasn't really surprised. I had been hearing about the show probably ending in 2011. But let's not count Oprah out and let's not eulogize her by any means because she has so much that she wants to do.

I mean let's not forget that she has this girl school in South Africa about what she is so, so deeply passionate and she is still so committed to changing lives. And I think she'll do that in many, many ways that go beyond the show.

COOPER: No doubt about that. Larry thanks for being on with us. Susie Orman, as well and Lisa Ling, thank you very much.

KING: Thank you, Anderson.

LING: Thanks.

COOPER: Go to if you want to see Oprah's 12 most memorable moments and images of her through the years.

Still ahead tonight, more cancer confusion: this time over new guidelines for pap tests to detect cervical cancer. Once again, women are being told to start later and have fewer tests.

Plus, our 360 special investigations continues: "Killings at the Canal: The Army Tapes." What really drove three Army sergeants to kill four Iraqis on the battlefield? Did the military's own strict rules for detaining suspected insurgents play a role in those murders? You can decide for yourself.

And text your questions and thoughts for our panel to AC360 or 22360; standard rates apply.


COOPER: Still to come, a 15-year-old girl shot and fighting for her life after being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Tonight, a look at the so-called Baby-Faced Suspect, another teen accused of the crime. How could this happen?

First, a check of some of the other day's important stories. Erica Hill has a "360 Bulletin." Erica, I'm glad to see you back and feeling better.

HILL: Thank you. It's nice to be back and to be feeling better, Anderson.

We begin with a "360 Follow" tonight: a plea deal in the Wal-Mart line cutting case in Missouri. Just after the jury received the case tonight, Heather Ellis agreed to plead guilty to disturbing the peace and to resisting arrest. Those are both misdemeanors. Under the terms of the agreement, Ellis must attend anger management sessions, serve one year of unsupervised probation and also serve four days in jail.

New guidelines out today for cervical cancer screenings also know as pap test. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists now recommending women get their first test at age 21 and then be tested every two years until they turn 30. After the age of 30, they recommend women be tested every three years. Now the recommendations have been far less controversial than the mammogram guidelines released earlier this week.

On Capitol Hill, Senate Democrats busy trying to drum up support ahead of tomorrow's vote on whether to take up debate on a new health care reform bill. 60 votes are needed to defeat a Republican filibuster. Among the reported fence sitters, Democrats from Arkansas and Louisiana.

And a terrifying moment caught on tape. A 3-year-old is accidentally separated from his dad in Portland, Oregon. Look at this, a fellow train commuter came to the rescue. As you can see here she helps the little boy, stays with him until dad and son could be reunited. They say it was -- the cause was some a malfunctioning train door. It took seven minutes for dad to get back to little Aiden.


HILL: And I can just imagine that was the longest seven minutes of his life.

COOPER: Oh, that is -- yes. That feeling in there when your kid gets separated from your parents is the worst.

HILL: Yes. And as a parent, I don't know what I would do.


Coming up, Erica, "Going Rogue" hits the road. Sarah Palin, promoting her book; making news at the new stop added to her tour. We'll tell you what the new stop is and why she's going there.

Also tonight, "Killings in the Canal: The Army Tapes" the "360 Exclusive" investigation into the deaths of four Iraqi detainees and the three U.S. soldiers who were charged and convicted of their murders. It's a story you'll only see on CNN.

We're taking your questions about it. Text them to AC360 or 22360; standard rates apply.


COOPER: Now the 360 Investigation that a lot of you have been talking about this week, "Killings at the Canal: The Army Tapes." We ask the question, when does a soldier cross the line from engaging the enemy to committing murder? That's already triggered an avalanche and gut wrenching and thoughtful remarks from many of you on And we appreciate you taking your time to let us know what you think and on the live chat as well.

Tonight we focus on motive. Why did they do it? What pushed three U.S. sergeants, decorated men, to murder four Iraqi men in their custody?

Now, the answer shines a bright light on the Army's rules for the treatment of battlefield detainees. So we wanted to talk to the general who overseas this program.

Here's Abbie Boudreau of our Special Investigations Unit with "Killings at the Canal: The Army Tapes."

ABBIE BOUDREAU, CNN SPECIAL INVESTIGATIONS UNIT CORRESPONDENT: This is a U.S. Army interrogator, trying to coax out the truth about four murders in Baghdad. Here he's empathizing with First Sergeant John Hatley. He says he understands why Hatley and two other sergeants murdered four Iraqis whom they had detained.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have no doubt in my mind, no doubt in my military mind whatsoever that those guys were the problem and, and frankly, I have no doubt in my mind that they're insurgents and they're shooting at our guys. I'm perfectly comfortable giving them lead poisoning before they shoot any more of our guys up.

BOUDREAU: Though he never confessed, First Sergeant John Hatley and two other sergeants would be convicted of premeditated murder. Their unit found four Iraqi men they thought were shooting at them. They detained them. But rather than following military rules for detainees, they took them to this canal and killed them execution style.

The interrogator says he understood the motive. They were tired of detaining people only to have them released and shooting at them again.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You guys suffered some losses and, and one's never good and a bunch is that much worse. And what I'm pretty damn confident that I know from all the guys we talked to and, and we're going to get from all the rest is that at that time you all came up -- with you all recognized we didn't catch these guys with a smoking gun in their hands and we're going to end up cutting these (EXPLETIVE DELETED) loose and they're going to be shooting at our guys tomorrow like we're (EXPLETIVE DELETED) pop-up ducks in a (EXPLETIVE DELETED) arcade game.

BOUDREAU: Cutting suspects loose only so they might be free to shoot at soldiers again. At the time of the murders, soldiers were ordered to handle detainees based on rules from this memo. The memo was drafted as a response to the scandal with detainees at the Abu Ghraib prison.

Brigadier General David Quantock now oversees detainee operations. BRIGADIER GENERAL DAVID QUANTOCK, U.S. ARMY: Before the memo was written, I mean a person could just bring a detainee to war facility, and we would take them in with little or nothing.

BOUDREAU: The memo said soldiers could no longer detain suspected insurgents simply because they were seen as a threat. They needed photos of physical evidence, photos of the detainee at the crime scene and of the detainee next to the evidence.

The memo also called for physical evidence. Soldiers had to bring in illegal rifles or IED-making materials. And they needed a sketch of the crime scene, indicating place of capture and location of weapons, explosives, or munitions.

(on camera): The memo also required soldiers to gather statements written by eyewitnesses of the criminal activity; in other words, the burden of proof to hold detainees was high.

You've said yourself, general that, there were many military operations where the focus was not on evidence gathering. So what happened in those cases?

QUANTOCK: Well, in most cases, if we don't have anything, they're eventually released.

BOUDREAU (voice-over): More than 87,000 detainees were captured during the war in Iraq. Quantock says the majority of them, nearly 77,000, were released for lack of evidence.

QUANTOCK: We're asking them to take basic evidence, which they've been trained to do. Again, we've got the greatest soldiers in the world. And I don't accept that that they can't take basic evidence off of a crime scene.

BOUDREAU (on camera): General, though, if it's so easy to collect this basic type of evidence, then why were so many detainees let out because of lack of evidence?

QUANTOCK: Well, I mean it took us a while. I mean, it took us a while to realize. And it goes back to my point about, you know, we were -- we're trying to make the fight fit the Army as opposed to have the Army fit the fight. And it took us a while to get after that piece about collecting evidence.

I think a lot of times we thought the insurgency would dissipate. We were working closely with the government of Iraq we were trying to improve the Iraqi security forces. But at the end of the day, it didn't work out very well. We had to get better at taking evidence off the crime scene.

BOUDREAU (voice-over): As for the frustrations it caused some soldiers -- this is Sergeant Michael Leahy. Of the three sergeants convicted of murdering the four Iraqi detainees only he confessed on tape.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When you shot the guy in front of you, where did you shoot him?

MICHAEL LEAHY, FORMER ARMY SERGEANT: It was in the back of the head. I guess on the back of the head.

BOUDREAU: This is Sergeant Leahy's attorney, Frank Spinner.

FRANK SPINNER, MICHAEL LEAHY'S ATTORNEY: As it was, they had to take off their soldier helmet, put on their cop hat, take to a civilian sort of police station and show evidence environments that these were people that were shooting at them. And if there wasn't enough evidence, then they were going to be released on the street.

And -- but soldiers are not trained to be cops and they're not trained to collect evidence. They're not trained in the ways of civilian criminal prosecutions.

BOUDREAU: A point even (INAUDIBLE) concedes when pressed.

(on camera): You've talked quite a bit about this training that soldiers have received. We've talked to many, many soldiers who say that the only kind of training that they would get would be, you know, a 50-minute power point presentation back in the States before they would go out on a battlefield.

QUANTOCK: Yes, that's exactly right. I mean we don't give them extensive training. We're not trying to teach policemen. But we are trying to teach them enough whether it's eyewitness statements, whether it's taking photographs, all of those can be used in a trial. However, we got to catch somebody doing something wrong. We've got to find evidence.

BOUDREAU (voice-over): Once again, Sergeant Michael Leahy.

LEAHY: It seems like even if you do your job and take these guys up to the detainee center they just come right back; the same (EXPLETIVE DELETED) guys shooting at you.

BOUDREAU (on camera): With all due respect, General, what is the point of having soldiers in Iraq fighting this type of war if they can't take alleged insurgents off the street?

QUANTOCK: We look at Iraq -- we look at Iraq as a long-term strategic partner of the United States. The sacrifice is well worth it. What we're trying to do is build capacity and capability for not only the Iraqi forces, the police, the Iraqi army, but also stand up the rule of law.


COOPER: Abbie, the rules have become stricter since the beginning of the year. What are the rules now?

BOUDREAU: You're right.

The rules are much tougher. A security agreement with the government of Iraq now requires an arrest warrant signed by an Iraqi judge in order to lock somebody up. So that means that U.S. SOLDIERS are detaining fewer and fewer people. And keep in mind, Anderson, this is all part of the transition of power back to the Iraqi government.

COOPER: And it's incredibly frustrating for soldiers to catch possible insurgents and then watch them just walk out of these detention facilities.

BOUDREAU: Yes and soldiers say it is the most frustrating part of this war. We even found out about a case involving this unit where an alleged insurgent was released. The same soldiers who captured this man were then forced to pick him up from the detainee facility, drop him off at his home, give him a letter of apology and cash for wasting his time. And we're told this is happening over and over.

COOPER: Wow. And you asked the right question to the general which is that if it's so easy to get these, you know, basic crime gathering techniques, then why were 77,000 of the detainees out of the 87,000 then just re-released if it is so easy. Clearly, it's not so easy in the battlefield to gather this evidence.

A rule of law in detainees, but is it right? We're going to talk about it with Abbie and our guests including the former commander of the "USS Cole".

If you have question on the case, text them to us at AC360 or 22360; standard rates apply.

Plus, Sarah Palin adding a stop to her book tour that is getting a lot of attention; we'll tell where you she is headed and why she is donating money from her book sales. Tonight, on 360.


COOPER: Only on CNN, we're back with our investigation, "Killings at the Canal: the Army Tapes".

We're taking a close look at the military rules on treating detainees in Iraq. And as we told you before the break, 3 Army sergeants were convicted of murdering four detainees in Baghdad.

And in an exclusive interview, the general who oversees detainee operations in Iraq defends the standards for gathering evidence against a suspect.

We're digging deeper now: joining us again, Special Investigations Unit correspondent, Abbie Boudreau; also with us Kirk Lippold, a former commander of the "USS Cole"; and Stephen Vladeck, a professor of law at American University.

Kirk, soldiers we spoke to this week told us again and again they were putting their lives in danger by staying behind in combat zones to gather the list of evidence required to keep insurgents locked up. Is it too much to ask from our soldiers?

KIRK S. LIPPOLD, FORMER COMMANDER, "USS COLE": I think it is. I think when you look at it, Anderson, you have a fundamental mindset problem with the senior leadership of the military right now in that many of them are beginning to fall in line with the political standard of saying that we're involved in a criminal action instead of actual combat operations.

You've got a number of lawyers that are beginning to drive actual operations in the field rather than advising commanders on how best to carry out their missions. And so consequently, you have this mindset that we need to gather evidence in a criminal scene. I mean I'm astounded that a general would even say something like that.

The reality of it is to put our troops in the field and put the burden of proof on them that they have to meet an evidentiary standard that is as high as it appears to be is an unreasonable expectation to put on our military forces.

COOPER: Stephen, of course the flip side of that is when you want, say, a strict detainee policy so that innocent people are not just kind of rounded up as clearly might have been happening early on. But is there a way to still have a system in place that, you know, doesn't round up innocent people but also doesn't have the kind of requirements they currently do which certainly seem onerous for soldiers on the ground.

STEPHEN VLADECK, PROFESSOR OF LAW, AMERICAN UNIVERSITY: Well, Anderson, I think that's the hard question. I think we have to separate out the question of whether we're going to require any evidence to hold these detainees from just how much evidence. This has been a huge problem not just in Iraq but also with the Guantanamo detainees.

I think the answer is, there is a way to do it. I don't think we have to require the same kind of showing that we require in our civilian courtrooms today. But the notion that we should just be holding people for seven or eight years simply because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time is, I think, what's behind this policy. I think it's hard to disagree that that's something we should be avoiding.

COOPER: It certainly seems like that this is in a result to what happened at Abu Ghraib. This is part of the repercussions of that terrible event.

VLADECK: Well, I mean I think it's partly about Abu Ghraib. I think it's also about Guantanamo. I mean, I think -- just today there is yet another decision by a district judge here in Washington that someone who's been at Guantanamo for upwards of seven years, the government does not have enough evidence to hold.

I think we've been particularly sensitive to the worry that we're holding all of these people in Iraq based simply on the circumstances of their capture and that to really justify long term detention, we need a little bit more.

COOPER: Abbie, we have a Text 360 question. They ask, "Did the army verify that every soldier got the memo?" BOUDREAU: Well, no because the memo didn't actually go to the soldiers. It was up to the commanders on the ground to let the soldiers know what that memo said and the new requirements.

I mean we talked to many soldiers who said they didn't know there was a new memo that was written. They just knew that the rules were getting tougher and tougher.

COOPER: Stephen, it sounds like the soldiers are getting -- if you have this policy -- if you're only giving them 15 minutes of training in how to gather evidence in a war zone, I mean, that doesn't sound like much at all.


I mean, and that's a real concern, you know. Listening to the story, I think the question is if we do want our soldiers on the ground to be playing this role even as a secondary matter, are we going to make sure that there is someone in the unit who actually has the training to take this evidence?

Now, I still think we have to be careful. We're not talking about, you know, CSI Iraq. This is not about DNA evidence. This is about more than just putting someone in the wrong place at the wrong time. I think that's the hard part going forward.

COOPER: Kirk, does it seem to you like this policy was put in place with the proper consideration for how realistic it would be -- how realistically it could be carried out on the ground for the troops?

LIPPOLD: From what I've seen of the memorandum, I don't think it is. I think when you're looking at it, the steps that are being required are indicative more of an overreaction than an actual very thoughtful process that takes into account the operational conditions that these young soldiers have to operate under.

When they're out there, the last thing you want to expect them to do is finish a fire fight, put down their weapon and be in a period of vulnerability where they're having to gather the kind of photographic evidence and evidence next to a detainee and providing all this justification. That is just not realistic, especially when we seem to be in a mindset to have the smallest footprint possible whether it's in Iraq or Afghanistan.

We don't have the troops available to be able to field the kind of evidence gathering that has been set by senior leadership back in Washington.

VLADECK: But I do think part of how we leave a smaller footprint is by making sure that we have the right people in custody.

Now I'm entirely in agreement with Kirk that we have to make sure we're not jeopardizing the lives of our soldiers. They should have the authority to cordon off the scene, to ensure their safety and only then to actually gather evidence. The question is are we really going to walk away at that point and say just because you were in the wrong house we can hold you indefinitely? And I think that's the concern.

LIPPOLD: I don't think -- Anderson, I don't think we'd want to be holding anyone indefinitely. But it's also, what is the standard of evidence required? Typically in a combat environment, it is just a mere -- not even a preponderance but more evidence than not that the individual is engaged in operations against us. It shouldn't have to meet a beyond reasonable doubt standard.

COOPER: Yes. It's a difficult situation for our troops on the ground no matter how you look at it. Kirk Lippold, appreciate you being on again, Stephen Vladeck as well. Abbie Boudreau, thanks as well; really fascinating report all week.

We want to give you one programming note. This weekend you can watch the entire "Killings at the Canal", the documentary, Saturday and Sunday at 8:00 p.m. and 11:00 p.m. Eastern.

Coming up, a 15-year-old girl with everything going for her, walking home from school when she was caught in the crossfire, how she is fighting for her life. How can the violence be stopped? We'll talk to education contributor, Steve Perry ahead.

And the first hearing for alleged Fort Hood shooter Nidal Hasan, he is still in his hospital bed. But could he be heading to jail? Details on that ahead.


COOPER: Tonight, it's easy to get numb to this story. It's easier to turn away because it happens just too often. We think that makes this story even more important to talk about.

This time, we're talking about a 15-year-old girl in New York. Everything to live for, everything going for her, her friend said, and now she's fighting for her life. Vada Vasquez was gunned down while walking home from school, the victim of a stray bullet. Tonight, doctors say Vada is breathing on her own, but remains in serious condition.

The alleged gunman, he is 16 years old. Local news has named him the Baby-Faced Suspect.

CNN's Gary Tuchman has more in tonight's "Crime & Punishment" report.


GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Vada Vasquez was merely walking home from school, a 15-year-old who loved art, music and drawing, when she met up with the worst the inner city has to offer.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Carvette, why did you shoot the girl?

TUCHMAN: This is who police say changed Vada's life violently. His name is Carvette Gentles. He is only 16.

Authorities say he shot Vada and add the 16-year-old suspect was part of a gang, that he and four young men were trolling a Bronx neighborhood on the lookout for a rival, whom they found in this corner store.

Raphael Torres is the store owner.

RAPHAEL TORRES, STORE OWNER: I heard about six shots.

TUCHMAN (on camera): You heard six shots?


TUCHMAN: You must have been very scared?


TUCHMAN (voice-over): The rival they were looking for was shot but is in good condition. However, Vada Vasquez was walking by in the wrong place at the wrong time and is fighting for her life.

Mandy Boodram is Vada's sister.

MANDY BOODRAM, VICTIM'S SISTER: Thank you very much for your support and for your prayers. Because right now, I think what's happening is really sad.


TUCHMAN: Police say the 16-year-old, already dubbed the Baby-Faced Suspect, is the triggerman. They have also arrested the four older suspects. All five have been charged as adults with attempted murders.

RAY KELLY, COMMANDER, NEW YORK POLICE DEPARTMENT: We believe that he attempted to get the weapon to the shooter, Carvette Gentles because he had no criminal record.

TUCHMAN: Carvette Gentles' attorney says his client is innocent.

Police are now passing out cards in the neighborhood where the shootings occurred, offering rewards for help in arresting people with illegal handguns.

(on camera): Even if you're not from New York you probably heard how this city has become a much safer place over the last couple decades. But safety is a relative term. In this part of the Bronx, most of the people we talk to say they didn't feel safe back then. They don't feel safe now. And they don't have a lot of expectations about feeling safe in the future.

(voice-over): As sad as people are in this neighborhood that an innocent young girl was shot, the fact that it's not shocking speaks volumes.

Gary Tuchman, CNN, New York.


COOPER: Vada's story is a stark reminder of violence; it remains very real problem on our streets, continues to pose a lethal threat to our kids.

CNN's education contributor, Steve Perry, joins us now.

Steve, it's difficult for people to wrap their minds around how a 16- year-old kid could be willing to kill someone. I spent a couple of hours today talking with a young guy who's been in a gang for years, been in and out of jail, been shot six times, and the kinds of things that he and other people are fighting over is just stupid.

I mean, it's territory they don't own; it's pride they don't have. And it just doesn't make sense when you boil it down.

STEVE PERRY, CNN EDUCATION CONTRIBUTOR: Theirs are lives that don't mean anything to them. They see themselves simply as part of the fight.

I'm here in Chicago, not too far away from one of our most recent tragedies of a young man losing his life.

I was talking to some young people here. And I asked them, does anything shock you anymore? They said, no. They said, "We're not even in the mode of trying to come up with solutions anymore. We simply are trying to make it home."

You have to realize...

COOPER: And who's failing these kids? I mean, is it...

PERRY: We, adults.

COOPER: Is it the parents?

PERRY: All of the above.

I just had another contentious town hall meeting in which people are trying to come up with solutions. And the biggest issue in the room is not the solution, but the egos of the adults. The adults need to put their egos aside and begin to acknowledge the fact that we have created these circumstances.

My head is going to explode if I hear another grown person talk about how good life was when they were younger. How you used to get a beating all the way down the block.

We, the adults have created this. Our music, our lifestyle, our decisions have raised a generation of children who have seen us and they are embarrassed by it. They don't have confidence in us. And as a result, they don't have confidence in their own life.

There once was a time when a child would come to your room to feel safe. Now the children don't come to us to feel safe. They go to each other. And therein lies the problem.

COOPER: And, I mean, I guess that contributes in a way to the gang issue, if they find a sense of family in the gangs. Although frankly, when you talk to these gang guys, I mean, spending a lot of time here in L.A., doing just that. You know, when push comes to shove and they get arrested, it's not gang members visiting them in prison. It's not the gang members writing letters to them. It's their moms, it's their brothers and their sisters.

PERRY: Oh, it's a false sense of confidence. We all know that there is no honor among thieves.

And so when these young brothers and sisters begin to join gangs, it's with the hope that they will have a family. But it is also for -- it's a more practical issue. It is about making it home alive. And so they have to make certain decisions, or so they think.

And when the school systems are so horrible, they're criminal that they're so bad. They're not educating children. And we keep pumping more and more money into them and thinking that the issue is money.

It's the fact that these schools are designed to fail. And since they're designed to fail, the children know this. They go into this knowing that they're not going to get an education. It is just something for them to do for 6.5 hours.

So without the hope of a future and without the capacity of parents to raise them well, what you get is what we have.

And for God sake, it's only getting worse. At some point, we have to begin to own our own peace. Everybody is culpable for the circumstances under which we're currently living. Everyone has a role in it, regardless of what we do as a living or what we do in the community.

Each one of us can find a way to solve this problem beginning by making sure that schools are more effective, holding principles and teachers accountable for the fact that they're not educating children and then to work our way out from there.

COOPER: Yes. The ratio achievement gap, the education achievement gap is startling when you start to look at the numbers.

PERRY: It's actually criminal. I mean, it's against the law. It was made very clear in 1954 in Brown versus Board of Education that separate and unequal education is in fact illegal. It's been proven over and over again but we keep pumping all this money into failed school systems so that people can blame race and poverty when we already have examples of successful schools in some of the poorest communities in the country.

We know how to operate successful schools. We know what happens. And when children go to those successful schools, they do better. You don't hear kids from Exeter and Andover gunning people down.

COOPER: No. PERRY: It's because those folks see a future; because they feel connected to something.

COOPER: All right. Steve, it's always good to have your voice on. Thank you. Steve Perry from Chicago tonight.

Go to to read first hand about one man's fight to rescue his Bronx neighborhood from the violence.

And coming up next: the first court hearing for accused Fort Hood shooter, Major Nidal Hasan. When it's going to take place and an update on his condition ahead.

And Sarah Palin making a special stop on her book tour; we'll tell you where she's going and why she's donating money from her book sales.


COOPER: Let's get caught up on some other important story. Our Erica Hill joins us with a "360 Bulletin" -- Erica?

ERICA HILL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, new legal developments in the Fort Hood killing. The hearing is scheduled tomorrow for accused shooter, Major Nidal Hasan in his hospital room, that's according to an attorney. At issue here, whether Hasan should be placed in pretrial confinement which could mean jail. The Army psychiatrist was paralyzed in the November 5th rampage that left 13 people dead and more than 30 others wounded.

Speaking of Fort Hood, Sarah Palin has added it as a stop on her book tour. The former governor will be there on December 4th. Profits from her book sales that day will go to victims of the shooting rampage.

In Virginia, a deadly crash involving Miley Cyrus's tour bus. The bus driver was killed, another passenger injured. The singer was not on board.

And at U.C. Berkeley, outrage over rising tuition costs. Protesters clashed with police tonight; 41 demonstrators were cited for trespassing when they tried to take over a campus building. This is actually just one of several protests at U.C. campuses across the state. It follows a vote to raise tuition by 32 percent over two years. The U.C. regents say they have no choice here due to the state's budget crisis.

And in her moment of glory, the winner of this year's Miss Brazil Gay had her wig snatched. A jealous rival tore off the winner's hair, as you can see, taking the tiara with it. The popular contest features drag queens from across the country and apparently a whole lot of drama.


HILL: Yes.

COOPER: That makes the whole pageant thing that happened here seem like small potatoes.

HILL: A little bit.


Time now for our "Beat 360 Winners": our daily challenge to viewers, a chance to show up our staffers by coming up with a better caption for the photo that we post on our blog every day.

Tonight's photo: Republicans gathering around a copy of the Senate's health care reform bill. The staff winner tonight is Jill. Her caption, "And we made this little booster seat here for you, Nancy."

Very nice.

Our viewer winner is Debbie from San Diego. Her caption, "Ryan Seacrest submits his resume, hoping to take over for Oprah."

HILL: You were on Ryan Seacrest's show this morning, weren't you, Mr. Cooper?

COOPER: I was on it, I was. I was on his radio show. It was very fun.

Debbie, congratulations; your "360" T-shirt is on the way.

HILL: We should send a copy of the 2074-page bill with it, too, just for fun.

COOPER: We should, exactly. We would have to pay extra...

HILL: We would.

COOPER: So we probably won't do that.

HILL: It would cost a lot, even with media mail.

All right.

How about the shots? Turns out it's a good thing we're not in the same studio given what you told Conan O'Brien on "The Tonight Show" yesterday. Oh, yes, in case anyone missed it, I think we have a clip.

COOPER: Great.


CONAN O'BRIEN, NBC HOST, "THE TONIGHT SHOW": Let's get to the important question. Do you have swine flu now?

What the hell is this? He's coughing. That's great.

That's great, Anderson.


COOPER: Tell me about it.

O'BRIEN: What the hell is that all about? That's the lowest thing I've ever seen anybody do.

Have a little swine flu, my boy. Enjoy that.

COOPER: Yes. I'm told I'm not contagious.

O'BRIEN: You're told, yes, by Dr. Sanjay Gupta. Who doesn't seem to know what the hell he is talking about, and who, by the way, was here, like what, two weeks ago?

COOPER: Exactly.

O'BRIEN: Coughing up a storm.


HILL: See, and for the last two weeks, I was worried that I was coughing too much around you. But apparently, I should be concerned. Maybe I caught it from you.

COOPER: No. No. I'm not contagious I'm told. I'm not even sure I had it.

HILL: I've had the vaccine.

COOPER: All right. Good for you.

HILL: Let's hope it works.

COOPER: Yes, really.

That's it for 360. Thanks for watching.

"LARRY KING" starts now.

I'll see you Monday.