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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees

Police Brutality Victim Robert Davis Speaks Out; NYC Subway Threat a Hoax

Aired October 11, 2005 - 19:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, HOST: Beaten to a bloody pulp by cops in New Orleans, a retired schoolteacher speaks out, denying he drank, denying he resisted arrest. What really happened?
360 starts now.

ANNOUNCER: A bloody beating caught on tape. The cops say the victim was drunk and resisted arrest, but that's not his story, not even close.


ROBERT DAVIS, BEATING VICTIM: I don't drink. I haven't drank for 25 years.


ANNOUNCER: New questions today. Were FBI agents involved? The investigation heats up.

The threat that terrified subway riders in New York turns out to be a hoax. Can't the people in charge tell the difference between a hoax and the real thing?

It happened again, deadly flooding and desperate searches for victims, house by house, this time, in New Hampshire.

Is this former Marine a pioneer, or a traitor? Why he's going to work for an Arab television network accused of being anti-American.

Live from the CNN Broadcast Center in New York, this is ANDERSON COOPER 360.

COOPER: Good evening again.

Tonight, more twists and turns in the story of a brutal beating in New Orleans.

Here's what we know at this moment. Robert Davis, the victim, says he hasn't had a drink in 25 years, and was not drunk on Saturday night, that he was merely out far walk when the beating caught on videotape occurred.

Mr. Davis, a retired schoolteacher, suffered fractures in his cheek and near his eye. His lawyer says his client doesn't believe race played a role in the attack. He does, however, expect to file a lawsuit seeking compensation.

The newest question in the case, did two FBI agents on the scene that night play a role in the beating? They're under investigation, but as of now, are not suspended.

Until today, we'd only heard the cops' side of the story. Now, other voices have emerged. And what they describe is nothing like the police's story. We'll hear from the victim, Robert Davis, in just a moment.

But first, Dan Simon has the latest on the investigation.


DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The highest levels of the FBI have taken an interest in this incident Saturday night on New Orleans' famed Bourbon Street. Sources familiar with the investigation say FBI director Robert Mueller himself is keeping tabs.

That's because two of the officers involved in the violent arrest of Robert Davis are FBI agents, one of them seen here holding Davis's feet. The Justice Department is examining whether the 64-year-old's civil rights were violated.

RAFAEL GOYENECHE, METROPOLITAN CRIME COMMISSION: It's a black eye for the police department, it's a black eye for New Orleans. It's a national embarrassment.

SIMON: Rafael Goyeneche runs New Orleans' Metropolitan Crime Commission, a nonprofit government watchdog.

GOYENECHE: The question becomes, when did the FBI agent wander upon this scene? What did he see? And what actions did he take?

SIMON: The FBI had more than 300 agents in New Orleans immediately following Katrina to assist local police. About 90 remain. On Saturday, according to the FBI, two of those agents were off duty and merely came across the scene after eating in the French Quarter. They only got involved, says the FBI, after witnessing a struggle.

This man, Calvin Briles, seen here held against a car, says he was a witness. He told CNN Davis never put up a fight. He claims that when he tried to report the incident, another officer told him to mind his own business, then handcuffed him, pushed him against the car, and then put him on the ground.

FELIX LOICANO, FORMER NEW ORLEANS POLICE DEPARTMENT OFFICER: It's something that you have to send a message to your officers that misconduct is never tolerated, particularly allegations or misconduct of this magnitude.

SIMON: Felix Loicano served in the New Orleans Police Department for 30 years, heading the same internal affairs unit now investigating the New Orleans officers involved. He says an explosive incident like this can further shake a demoralized city. LOICANO: You have to send a message (INAUDIBLE) to your citizens, and to all the people that will be in your community, that police officers are under control.

SIMON: The New Orleans police officers say they were under control when they were arresting Robert Davis, one witness now saying that wasn't the case.


SIMON: Anderson, coming to you live from Bourbon Street, where this all went down. Now, the officers already have a trial date scheduled for sometime in January. But it seems there's already a verdict in the court of public opinion. People here are simply outraged, Anderson.

COOPER: Dan, how do the officers plan to defend themselves? Do we know?

SIMON: Well, that's something they're going to be talking about with their lawyer tomorrow. They're claiming that Mr. Davis was indeed intoxicated, and that he actually ran into them. And when you see that -- those images on the videotape with the officers punching Mr. Davis, they claim they were actually punching the backside of his neck. And they say they're actually trained to do so at the police academy, Anderson.

COOPER: Well, that's interesting. Later on on "NEWSNIGHT," we're going to talk to a man who has worked in many police academies and who specifically references that punching in the back of the neck as something you never, ever do.

Dan, thanks for that report.

In the last 24 hours, we've learned much more about the man being pummeled in the videotape, Robert Davis. We know he's 64 years old, we know he's a retired schoolteacher who owns property in New Orleans' Ninth Ward.

Now, he says he returned to New Orleans to check on the property, and that's when he collided with police Saturday in the French Quarter. The cops who beat him says he was drunk, as you've heard, says he resisted arrest, that force was necessary to subdue him.

Here's how Mr. Davis tells it.


DAVIS: Well, I was walking down Bourbon Street. And I wasn't sure about the time of the curfew. I was very concerned about that, and I had been asking several law enforcement officers about the curfew. I had heard several different times, 8:00, 10:00, and 12:00.

So I finally decided to ask one of the New Orleans police officers who was on horseback at the corner of Conti and Bourbon. And he proceed to give me the time. And doing that, I was interrupted by another police officer, who was walking by, really. And he interrupted our conversation, and I told him that was very unprofessional. And I proceeded to walk on across the street, at which time he punched me, I guess.

And from there, I don't really remember much, other than a lady in the crowd, who was, I guess, just a bystander, who kept hollering, He didn't do anything, he didn't do anything.


COOPER: Well, we're going to have a lot more of an in-depth interview with Robert Davis later tonight on "NEWSNIGHT" at 10:00 Eastern Time. We're going to talk with him about exactly what transpired when, as he said, his conversation was interrupted by police, and also what he remembers about the attack. That's at 10:00 tonight Eastern Time.

There's good news and bad news about the terrible New York City subway scare earlier this week. Good news is that there was never a terrorist plot to use a baby stroller to smuggle explosives onto a train.

That's the bad news as well. In this crazy age, a wild lie told in Iraq is enough to send authorities in New York into a dither.

CNN's Justice Department correspondent Kelli Arena investigates.


KELLI ARENA, CNN JUSTICE DEPARTMENT CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): New York's mayor says he had every reason to believe the threat against the city was real.

MAYOR MICHAEL BLOOMBERG (R), NEW YORK CITY: What I do know is that we can't wait until a threat materializes to act. We have to protect this city, and you can't just sit around with your fingers crossed. You have to make decisions and show leadership.

ARENA: Mayor Bloomberg says he still isn't sure it was all a hoax.

(on camera): But law enforcement officials in both New York and Washington tell CNN that through investigative means, they have determined it was.

(voice-over): From the very beginning, federal government officials have said they could not corroborate the information. The informant who approached U.S. officials in Iraq was described as inconsistent, someone who had provided both good and bad information in the past. According to government sources, he had failed some parts of his lie detector test, but passed when he was talking about the alleged plot against New York.

And when the three people he fingered were captured in Iraq, Bloomberg says there was this chilling outburst. BLOOMBERG: ... grabbed them, one of them screamed, You're too late to stop us. This was an attack, or a planned attack, that had a specific time and target and method.

ARENA: Intelligence is hard to screen in a war zone. And the attack was allegedly supposed to take place on October 7, leaving investigators little time.

PAT D'AMURO, CHAIRMAN AND CEO, GIULIANI SECURITY AND SAFETY: The problem you have with source information is that a lot of times, the sources are the same type of nature as the individuals you're investigating. Otherwise, how would they be able to tap into this type of information?

ARENA: What's more, past intelligence has indicated that al Qaeda and related groups have considered attacking New York's transit systems.

Still, there is a danger.

D'AMURO: You can only cry wolf so many times, to the point where there's the potential that the public may not take the threat serious at a time where it needs to be taken serious.

ARENA: Especially when local and federal agencies don't seem to be on the same page.

Kelli Arena, CNN, Washington.


COOPER: Well, you know, we don't know if what happened in Florida was a hoax or not. But what we know is this, that a $7 million private jet disappeared from a Florida airfield and then reappeared in Georgia. In this day of heightened airport security, authorities are now trying to figure out exactly how did this happen.

CNN's Tony Harris investigates.


TONY HARRIS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For much of yesterday, the $7 million Cessna Citation 7, slightly dinged, and tucked away between hangars at a general aviation airport in Lawrenceville, Georgia, had the FBI and the Joint Terrorism Task Force in Jacksonville, Florida, ruling everything in, and nothing out.

SGT. DOUG MATTOX, FBI JOINT TERRORISM TASK FORCE: Any time that you have an aircraft stolen, especially an aircraft of this size, you're going to worry about terrorism, you're going to worry if it was terrorism related.

HARRIS: It was indeed stolen. But by this afternoon, authorities had found no weapons, no drugs, and had all but ruled out terrorism.

MATTOX: At this point, there's no indications that this is terrorism related.

HARRIS: The jet, owned by Pinnacle Air out of Springdale, Arkansas, was apparently stolen from St. Augustine Airport in Florida in the overnight hours of Sunday morning, and flown to Georgia. It landed at night, when the control tower was unmanned. Authorities think it was all done by a pilot, apparently someone trained to fly this advanced type of jet.

MATTOX: It's not that anybody could go pick up this aircraft and just fly it around. You have to know something about it, and you have to know what you're doing.

HARRIS: Local authorities say they are following up on new information. And while no suspects are in custody, they appear convinced, at least for now, that this was nothing more serious than a joyride, a $7 million prank.

Tony Harris, CNN, Atlanta.


COOPER: Well, coming up tonight on 360, dangerous flooding in the Northeast. Four people are missing, three are known dead, cars under water. We'll show you the damage.

Also tonight, the scene in earthquake-ravaged Pakistan. So many dead, so many struggling desperately to cling to life and to find their children and their families and their loved ones.

And new tribulations for the president's Supreme Court choice. Harriet Miers may be George Bush's biggest fan. Does that really acquire -- qualify her, though, to sit on the high court bench? Some new documents have surfaced. Inside peek at Harriet Miers in her writings to the president.


COOPER: Well, here's Erica Hill, some of the other stories we're following right now tonight. Hey, Erica.


We're actually going to start off, any time a major natural disaster occurs in the U.S., get this, there might actually be a new military unit out there to help. The U.S. Northern Command is considering creating a contingency unit as large as brigade, that's 4,000 troops, and that unit would be dedicated to dealing with anything from a hurricane to an epidemic.

In Covington, Louisiana, today, President Bush pitching in to build a Habitat for Humanity house for those displaced by Hurricane Katrina. Mr. Bush spent a couple of hours there early this morning with hammer and nails and a hard hat, as you see. Thirty-two thousand people still in shelters. The president says he wants them all settled elsewhere in just a few days. Former Illinois governor George Ryan is on trial for corruption, with charges ranging from racketeering and fraud all the way down to giving out special license plates. You know, the kind with only one, two, two or three numbers, maybe. All that in return for campaign contributions. Well, today, a former aide testified one contributor coughed up $75,000 for one of those low-digit plates.

In South Carolina, a bridge too old. A more, more than a ton of explosives were used today to bring down a section of the Pyramid Bridge spanning the Cooper River near Charleston. It's one of two to be replaced by a new eight-lane bridge. That one, by the way, is going to cost more than $800 million.

And finally for you, another explosion, this one happening in Taiwan's parliament today. Well, representatives of the ruling party and the opposition got the chance to tell each other how they really feel. The fight was over a bill to set up an independent media watchdog. (INAUDIBLE), how about that?

COOPER: You know, Erica, it's -- that's a pretty good fight. It doesn't really hold a candle, though, to the Zhirinovsky versus Saveliev back in March. Remember that one?

HILL: That is good stuff. I have to say...

COOPER: There you go.

HILL: ... some of my favorite video is parliament antics around the world.

COOPER: Well, this is right here. This is the Russian in the Duma, this is Zhirinovsky versus Saveliev. I wagered, like, $200 on this...

HILL: How'd you come out?

COOPER: ... and I came out ahead, because I put it all on Zhirinovsky. But...

HILL: So that's a good call.

COOPER: Yes. Of course, wagering in...

HILL: I'm proud of you.

COOPER: Wagering, wagering...

HILL: I want you to know that.

COOPER: ... is illegal in Moscow.

Erica, thanks very much for that.

There's new, some news tonight on the Miers nomination. The conservative group Liberty Council in Orlando, Florida, is calling on the president to withdraw her nomination. It's one of the first conservative groups to actually make that kind of a statement.

Critics have been combing for records of Harriet Miers' writings for quite some time now. Some 2,000 pages of documents have now surfaced, some of them very personal notes from Miers to the president. Watch.


COOPER (voice-over): In 1997, Harriet Miers wrote a birthday greeting to then-governor George Bush. "You're the best governor ever, deserving of great respect." The admiration, it seems, was mutual. Bush wrote back, "I appreciate your friendship and candor. Never hold back your sage advice."

A few months later, in another note to Bush, Miers gushed that he and Laura were "the greatest," and urged him to "keep up the great work. Texas is blessed."

The exchange is part of 2,000 pages of documents just released by the Texas State Library, and will likely be political TNT for Miers' critics, who say her nomination smacks of cronyism.

"When it comes to cross-examination, Harriet can fillet better than Mrs. Paul. I know first-hand. She is my lawyer." That's how Bush honored Miers at an anti-defamation gala in 1996. In a note to him a few days later, Miers described a little girl at the event who got his autograph. Miers wrote, "I truly believe, if the Governor told her she should be an Astronaut, she would do her best to become one. I was struck by the tremendous impact you have on the children whose lives you touch."

And a year later, it was the Bush twins that Miers had on her mind when she wrote, "Hopefully, Jenna and Barbara realize that their parents are 'cool' as do the rest of us."


COOPER: Well, a White House spokesman said he did not have enough information to comment on the documents, but added, "We've said all along, they are close." No word on whether or not Harriet Miers draws big bubble hearts to dot her I's. We certainly hope so.

Still to come tonight on 360, the latest developments in the case of a man beaten by police in New Orleans. He was arrested for drunkenness but says he hasn't had a drink in 25 years.

Also tonight, autumn floods in New England. Death and destruction mar what should be the region's most beautiful season.

And a little later, a tale of the Smurf. They've always been blue, but now they're really sad. Who would bomb the Smurfs? We'll explain what happened.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) COOPER: Well, there's no doubt about it. We've all heard the words "severe flooding" more than we care to in recent weeks (INAUDIBLE) Mississippi and Louisiana and Texas. Now we have to add the Northeast to the list.

Take a look at some of these pictures. New Hampshire, of all the places. Floodwaters there have resulted in the deaths of three people. Four more are missing right now.

CNN's Chris Huntington is there.


MARLENE WADE, NEW HAMPSHIRE RESIDENT: This was the entrance to our front porch, which was all glassed in. And then our house ran to the right of it.

CHRIS HUNTINGTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): That ramp she's standing on is now a ramp to nowhere. The surging waters of Cold River swept away the house that she and her husband had lived in since 1957, as well as their garage, their barn, and virtually all of their land.

WADE: My son said later on, Ma, we don't have any land. And we can't rebuild here.

HUNTINGTON: Marlene is a diabetic. Her husband of 52 years, Leroy, has Parkinson's, and has been in a wheelchair since suffering a stroke two years ago. They were sound asleep on Sunday morning, unaware that the rising river was ripping out their foundation.

(on camera): Early Sunday morning, Marlene and Leroy Wade (ph) got the call from their neighbor that probably saved their lives, from the neighbor that lived in this house, on a house that now sits directly on the bank of a greatly expanded Cold River.

Marlene and Leroy's territory was cut back. You can see the line here extending onto the shed, which is the only bit of their property that really exists anymore. They have absolutely nothing left.

(voice-over): They did have flood insurance years ago, but canceled it once they paid off their house. Now, they're relying on family, their friends, and a lot of faith.

WADE: My feet are on the ground, and I'm strong-willed anyway. But my faith keeps me going.

HUNTINGTON: And that faith is one thing the river could not take.


HUNTINGTON: Marlene Wade is just a remarkable person, Anderson. She truly has her feet on the ground. Seems, frankly, unshaken by this. They've already been offered a house by neighbors here in Alston. I want to give you an indication, though, of the severity of the storm surge that swept through Cold River. I'm standing, as you can see, down at the base of Cold River. This is a river that used to be about 15 to 20 feet wide. It's now 100 feet wide. The surge that swept through here on Sunday was 12 feet, so more than twice where I'm standing right here, well above me.

This is the carcass of a fire truck that was parked a mile upstream. So here, as opposed to the flatlands down in the hurricane zone where surges swept unimpeded, here in New Hampshire, you had rainwaters running off hillsides, concentrating in rivers and streams to a devastating degree, Anderson.

COOPER: And is the water subsiding at this point? I know the river's still wide, but in most places, is the water going away?

HUNTINGTON: Yes, the flooding has subsided. What you've got now here, though, is a greatly swollen river. This will probably shrink down some more. But the riverbed now is -- has carved out a whole new territory. So, in fact, in this particular area, not only Marlene and Leroy's house taken away, but you've got businesses that were along the riverbank. You've got sections of road up there -- I think you showed those pictures earlier -- that have absolutely been destroyed, Anderson.

COOPER: Terrible to see in New Hampshire. Chris, thanks very much.

ANNOUNCER: A bloody beating, caught on tape. The cops say the victim was drunk and resisted arrest. But that's not his story, not even close.


DAVIS: I don't drink. I haven't drank for 25 years.


ANNOUNCER: Is this former Marine a pioneer, or a traitor? Why he's going to work for an Arab television network accused of being anti-American.

360 continues.


COOPER: It is nearly half, it's nearly half past the hour. Here's what's happening at this moment.

The FBI is now involved in the police beating case in New Orleans, two agents under investigation. They were at the scene, but did they participate in the attack on an African-American man?

In Pakistan, bad weather hampering relief efforts, creating new dangers for earthquake survivors. Millions left homeless. Severe thunderstorms have triggered mudslides. And just in, "New York Times" reporter Judith Miller will make a second appearance tomorrow before a federal grand jury investigating the leaking of a CIA operative's name. Ms. Miller, you'll recall, spent 85 days in jail for refusing to reveal her source, Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff, Lewis "Scooter" Libby.

Back to New Orleans, and the latest trouble for the city's police force. You know, it's easy to imagine, if you were Robert Davis, hating the police who beat you to a pulp, easy to imagine being angry and wanting payback. Much easier to imagine than this. Listen.


DAVIS: I hold no animosity against anyone. I want to thank our new police chief for his quick action, I really do. I mean, that's the first time I've known it to happen. But I also want to have the officer who was on that horse -- who was black, by the way -- I'd like to have him suspended, because I feel that he had some complicity in the situation.


COOPER: Well that's what Mr. Davis said today. It may be the most surprising twist in this is story so far. He holds no animosity for anyone, he says. Mr. Davis isn't the only one speaking out. As Dan Simon reported earlier, witnesses to the beating are now describing what they saw and it is chilling. Listen.


MIKE MONAGHAN, WITNESSED BEATING: Unfathomable what we actually saw. It was a brutal, brutal beating. We knew what was happening was not legal. He was on the ground when we first saw him. He was moving. He had some sort of movement. And it wasn't very -- it wasn't very long after that that he had no movement whatsoever.

Police were beating him with their fists repeatedly. Many more than three officers were actually involved with this case. Video footage that we've seen so far doesn't actually even have any sort of a thing of actually what happened.

CALVIN BRILES, WITNESSED BEATING: I witnessed what happened, and I want to tell somebody about it. And he said, with vulgarities, it's none of your business. And as he picked me up, I grabbed his arms. We locked arms. At that point he said all right and he threw me up against the car.

Riot bands were put on me as tight as they could get them. And I just remember a lot of pain. I remember just my head was shoved into the hood. I just -- I closed my eyes and I just cringed because of what was happening, the way they were handling me and in the process, my phone flew off. They broke my necklace off in two pieces.

So they got the riot bands on me and then they just basically threw me on the ground. I was just amazed. I was already in awe of what was happening. I had never seen anybody beat that way, whether it was -- even in a movie. I've never seen it before, and so I just to tell somebody.

And I really -- I see a federal agent and to my knowledge, it's the New Orleans Police that's doing this. So I'm thinking that, you know, he's going to understand and maybe want to hear from what I have to say. But that wasn't the thing.

So when I was thrown up I was thinking what in the world has happened? What did I do? And he told me I was being arrested for impeding a federal investigation, assault on a police officer, and resisting arrest.


COOPER: Marc Morial is a former mayor of New Orleans. He is the president of the National Urban League. He joins me now from Washington. Marc, good to see you again.

MARC MORIAL, FMR. MAYOR, NEW ORLEANS: Good to be with you, Anderson.

COOPER: I'm sorry it's under these circumstances. When you see that tape, what do you think?

MORIAL: I'm shocked. I'm repulsed. I see an incident that has no legality, no constitutionality. And those officers do not deserve to carry a badge or a gun again. And the gentleman who was a victim is admirable and gentlemanly in hold nothing animosity.

Nonetheless, the second interviewee, the young man who said that there were more officers involved, certainly means that there needs to be a complete investigation. And anyone who is complicit, strong, quick, and effective disciplinary action needs to be taken.

COOPER: Yes, I mean, you were in a position overseeing this police force. How can this happen?

MORIAL: It happens when there's a complete breakdown of discipline, when officers feel that they can get away with these sorts of incidents. But for the cameras, probably what the officers' story would have been was that the man was drunk, that the man resisted arrest, that the man was acting disorderly. And because there was no independent view, the officers' story would have outweighed the victims story. When officers -- when discipline breaks down in a police department, this is what you have.

COOPER: You know, there's also later on -- and we are looking at this tape now. I'm not sure if you can see it. Later on in this tape another officer goes up to a producer for -- I think for APTV, you know, is gesticulating in his face, pushes him against the vehicle, is yelling something to the effect of, you know, I've been trying to survive for the last six weeks. Does -- when you see this, does stress, does what these officers had been through, A, does it matter? And b, does it play a role in this?

MORIAL: It may play a role, but it doesn't matter. Because the entire community, not just police officers, but also firefighters and other rescue workers, citizens have been under tremendous stress because of the magnitude of this incident. While it may play a role, it doesn't matter.

What the chief probably be advised to do is get the professional assistance and help that his officers need to be able to cope with the extreme pressure that they're dealt with. But citizens have a right to expect that they are going to be safe and that law enforcement officers are not going to turn into criminals themselves.

COOPER: Do you feel the police are getting that? I mean, I've talked to a lot of these police, and a lot of them are, you know, hardworking, they're good men and women and what they've been through is really unimaginable. They are homeless. Do you think they are getting the attention and the help that they need?

MORIAL: You know, Anderson, the numbers of officers has broken down considerably. Given what they've been through. I'm not so certain and I join you in saying that there are many men and women of the New Orleans Police Department who do the right thing, who follow the law, who respect the constitutional rights of the citizens. There's no doubt.

It's just that it just seems that an incident like that where there were many, many law enforcement officers involved, no one stepped in. No one stepped in so prevent what occurred to a 64-year- old gentleman, someone of the age of a father or a grandfather who I hardly believe could have been any physical threat to that many officers under the circumstances.

COOPER: Very briefly, are you pleased with how the police department seems to be handling this thus far?

MORIAL: Well, Chief Riley did the right thing in suspending the officers without pay. It remains to be seen how long it takes him to conduct his disciplinary investigation and take permanent action. And secondly, whether the D.A., the United States attorney, whatever, what action they take, so this is just the beginning of a process.

And I hope and certainly urge Chief Riley to be tough, to be swift, and to have a zero tolerance policy, as Richard Pennington and I did when we were in leadership positions in New Orleans.

COOPER: Marc Morial, it's always good to talk to you. Thanks for being on the program tonight.

MORIAL: Thank you.

COOPER: Ahead on this edition of 360. the desperate situation in Pakistan, and it is just desperate. As far as the eye can see, ruination. There are some kids being pulled out alive there. There is some hope still and it gives hope to the people who are still searching. As you see there people just overjoyed that this little boy is pulled out of the wreckage. The hundreds of thousands of people just barely hanging on, we'll tell you their story ahead.

Also tonight, the transformation of an American military spokesman into a journalist for Al-Jazeera, or a spokesperson for Al- Jazeera. The story of Josh Rushing, accidental star of the documentary called "Control Room."

And a little later, tiny blue heroes conscripted into the fight for world peace. It's smurfirific (sic). We'll explain.


COOPER: You may not know this, but a little over a year ago the Pentagon launched its own television channel, the first ever to carry official news and information from the U.S. government. Now critics are beginning to question whether that violates the spirit of a 50- year-old law aimed at barring the government from creating propaganda aimed at the American public. Senior Pentagon correspondent Jamie McIntyre reports.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: President Bush says winning the war in Iraq will require more sacrifice.

JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Cable subscribers in the Washington D.C. suburb of Prince George's County are the latest in a potential audience of 12 million households who can now watch the Pentagon Channel.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Operations aimed at stabilizing Iraq before the referendum in upcoming election are going well.

MCINTYRE: The news channel's slogan is serving those who serve.

MEL RUSSELL, SENIOR MANAGER, PENTAGON CHANNEL: We use only uniformed broadcasters on the air so they know it's a military channel.

MCINTYRE (on camera): The Pentagon Channel originates from studios here in Alexandria, Virginia. There's everything here you'd expect to find in a modern television station, cameras, teleprompters, computers. The one thing it says it doesn't have is an agenda to advance administration policies.

(voice-over): Petty Officer First Class Jennifer Gray anchors the evening's main news cast.

PETTY OFFICER 1st CLASS JENNIFER GRAY, U.S. NAVY: No one ever tells do not write this. Take this slant.

MCINTYRE: But at the University of Delaware Journalism Professor Ralph Begleiter, a former CNN correspondent, asked his students to consider whether the Pentagon Channel could also be a propaganda tool.

RALPH BEGLEITER, PROFESSOR, UNIVERSITY OF DELAWARE: You want to have radio free America or some such hypothetical title, broadcasting propaganda to the United States, no. We don't allow that in this country. It's a law. MCINTYRE: He's referring to a 1948 ban that stops the government from controlling the news sent to domestic audiences. A law inspired by abuses in Nazi Germany. But Pentagon officials say the Pentagon Channel is simply internal communications for the military. And rejects the idea its programming is propaganda.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I would totally disagree with that. Absolutely.

MCINTYRE: While much of the Pentagon Channel programming is more like CSPAN than CNN, this original documentary called Inside the Wire purports to show that the treatment of prisoners at Guantanamo is humane. That argues Professor Begleiter sounds a lot like the Bush administration version of the truth.

BEGLEITER: Well, let's say you need to know about treatment of prisoners. Would you get the full story from the Pentagon Channel? No, you would get what the Pentagon wanted you to know about treatment of prisoners.

MCINTYRE: Begleiter's warning to his students, when watching the Pentagon Channel, consider the source. Jamie McIntyre, CNN, the Pentagon.


COOPER: Josh Rushing is a former Marine and military spokesman. Here he is in a record documentary -- recent documentary, I should say, about Al-Jazeera, the Arab news network. Take a listen.


JOSH RUSHING, FMR. MARINE CAPTAIN: In my office we say it all the time on the other side of the wall there, no spin, don't spin it. And we catch ourselves doing it. I catch myself doing it. Taking an event and spinning it so strongly in one light that I have to pull back and say, well, wait a second, wait a second, that's not what I'm here to do.

But, when you feel that a reporter is trying to present it in a very certain light, then you end up having to defend it kind of in a polarizing effect like I was talking about, way over on this side of the middle, so that the story will hopefully end up back in the middle.


COOPER: That was Josh during the war in Iraq in a documentary about Al-Jazeera. He's recently signed on to work for Al-Jazeera, the English language version, which will be seeing here sometime in the spring in the United States.

Josh, thanks for being with us. It's a controversial move. Obviously, a lot of critics have said you, you know, you are a turncoat in a sense. How do you respond? RUSHING: Sure. Well, they don't know what they are talking about yet because we are not even on the air yet. So, I think they'll have to wait until spring to see. And I think they may be disappointed that we're not nearly as controversial as they are comfortable with.

COOPER: You are not going to be a reporter. You're basically an on-air...

RUSHING: Personality.

COOPER: ...personality.

RUSHING: I'm going to host a show.

COOPER: OK. And do you know what the show will be?

RUSHING: I don't yet. We're developing the format, but we are about six months out from launch so we have time to do that.

COOPER: Some of your critics that I have been reading about say look, you are being used. That Al-Jazeera's going to put you on there, trot you out as a former Marine, an America and then they are going to say, look, we are fair and balanced.

RUSHING: Sure, it's kind of a damned if you do, damned if you don't argument though. If they don't hire someone like me now they are just being biased and it's only voices from the left or from the other side. When they hire someone like me, oh, he's being used, he's going to be the punching bag for America. I just hope they wait and see what comes out.

COOPER: I want to show the audience something you said about Al- Jazeera in the Control Room, who you worked with. You were working with them basically as their military liaison during the early days of the war.

RUSHING: That's correct.

COOPER: OK. Let's play this from Control Room. Oh, we don't have that. All right, maybe not.

But basically you had some concerns about Al-Jazeera early on about their take on Saddam Hussein. You were very critical of Al- Jazeera.

RUSHING: I was actually and in the movie I say that they were being biased towards Saddam and against America. Which at the time I believed to be true.

COOPER: Do you still believe that to be true?

RUSHING: I don't watch a lot of their coverage now. Even when I watched it then, I couldn't understand what they were saying, but I had the benefit of a translator who was around (INAUDIBLE) at the time. COOPER: But, do you still think that they were biased.

RUSHING: Yes, I think they were biased then. I certainly do. They had a story to tell. They wanted to tell the story of the war from the Iraqi's people side. And I don't mind them telling that, but if they are going to call it news, I think they should show all events that happen on both sides so, and that's what I held them accountable for.

COOPER: But you are going to work for them now. So, what's changed?

RUSHING: Well, that's right. Well, I'm going to work for Al- Jazeera International which is the English side. And really it's a great kind of opportunity and responsibility that has fallen on me because of the movie where I can address a large international crowd in much the same way I did as a Marine really, engaging an international audience through the media, representing the best of what America has to offer.

COOPER: But, you know, I mean, Donald Rumsfeld says look, this is a propaganda channel. They put out lies. They show American hostages. They do interviews with POWs, Shoshana Johnson, among others. Is that fair? Is that right?

RUSHING: Well, I think Secretary Rumsfeld gets a lot of things wrong. One, they didn't do the interview with Shoshana Johnson, that was done by Iraqi TV and rebroadcasted by a number of stations around the world. They don't show beheadings.

He says they show beheadings all the time, they don't, nor will they ever show beheadings. They also said that they were inciting violence in Iraq and so they kicked them out of Iraq. But it's been over a year since they've been kicked out of Iraq..

COOPER: They do call U.S. troops there, invaders.

RUSHING: And violence has not gone down. I think in argument shows and counterpoint shows there are those who call U.S. troops invaders. But in news they shouldn't call U.S. troops invaders.

COOPER: Was it a hard decision?

RUSHING: Let me clear, though, the station I'm going to work for Al-Jazeera International, certainly won't call U.S. troops invaders. I mean, it's staffed by people from venerable news agencies around the world, BBC, Fox News and America, CNN. So, I think you will see journalistic standards that you are used to in the west.

COOPER: We will be watching it starts maybe sometime this spring. They don't have a cable outlet yet, but we will see if they get one. Josh, thanks. Thanks for being with us.

RUSHING: Thanks, Anderson.

COOPER: All right, good luck to you. Let's check in with Erica Hill, business news break. Hey, Erica.

HILL: Hey, Anderson. We're starting off with Microsoft actually. Turns out the company may finally be out of the legal woods after settling the last of a series of major antitrust suits today.

The software giant shovelling out a cool $71 million to real networks, in turns, Real will drop all claims against Microsoft for allegedly forcing Windows users to accept the Microsoft Digital Media Player over others. And that's going to bring the settlement total for Microsoft to almost $4 billion since 2003.

Exxon Mobile also settling today with the Justice Department. The company will spend $571 million to install pollution reduction equipment in seven of its U.S. refineries. Now, that's to combat pollutants linked to things like acid rain, smog and even asthma. The settlement allows Exxon to deny, if violated, any laws and regulations.

Meantime, on Wall Street one up, two down. The DOW Jones average up over 14 points to close at 10, 253. But the S&P 500 was down slightly 2 1/2 points while the NASDAQ composite hit a three month low. Ending the day off 18 points at 2061.

And there's your business news. Mr. Cooper, by the way, nice haircut. I didn't get to tell you yesterday. Since I normally comment on it.

COOPER: It's a little too tight, I know, I know. Thanks for mentioning it, I appreciate that. Thanks for calling me out on national television for my haircut.

HILL: I enjoy it.

COOPER: Yes, see what happens when you get a haircut next time.

We'll be right back. We'll take you to Pakistan and show you the latest on the efforts to recover as many people as possible. Be right back.


COOPER: It's one thing to say that hundreds of thousands of people, millions of people have been affected by the earthquake in Pakistan, but it is something else again to see what that actually looks like. Deprivation and death on such a scale are hard not to turn away from. I know, but we think tonight it's important that you see how things really are there right now. We owe it to the living and we certainly owe it to the dead. Here's Bill Neely of Britain's ITN.


BILL NEELY, ITN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In the ruins of Balakot school, they break through the collapsed floors. But what they bring out is a sight beyond sadness. It's a little girl in a green dress, all broken. She and nearly 200 other boys and girls have already been pulled out and lifted away. Their bags and books useless now.

And then, the work begins again.

And the work has paid off. A French rescue team using cameras to probe deep down into the school saw a face. Three and a half days after he was trapped in his classroom, a scared little boy. He's about 15 feet down. Now it's critical the roof doesn't collapse.

Slowly, astonishingly, the boy's limp body is pulled from the hole and handed to his father. No one could quite believe it.

Four other children were rescued like this. Four-year-old Fraz (ph) was too bewildered to eat or drink. Out of 400 children, he is one of the very few who survived.

(on camera): The conditions here for rescuing anyone are getting worse. They think there are still the bodies of 150 children in this school. The last two little girls they pulled out alive, that was 18 hours ago, and even that seems amazing. But the weather is getting much worse now.

(voice-over): The rain lashed down on the bodies of children who had not yet been claimed by their parents. Perhaps because their parents, too, are gone.

Bill Neely, ITV News, Balakot, Pakistan.


COOPER: One of the things that Hurricane Katrina brought into public view is the issue of poverty in America. People who had been invisible were suddenly very visible indeed, abandoned at the Convention Center and the Superdome. Tomorrow, Oprah Winfrey is devoting her entire program to poverty in America, to the invisible poor, and I'll be appearing on part of that program as well. I hope you'll watch the discussion on Oprah tomorrow. Poverty is something we think we talk far too little about in this country.

Let's find out what's coming up at the top of the hour on "PAULA ZAHN NOW." Hey, Paula.

PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: Hi, Anderson, thanks. A little bit earlier on, I saw your interview with beating victim Robert Davis. He says he's looking for a witness, but we've actually found two of them who are ready to talk and describe exactly what they witnessed on Bourbon Street over the weekend.

Also at the top of the hour, we're going to meet two more people who lost their jobs because of the hurricanes: A Bourbon Street musician who lost all his instruments in the flood, and a small business owner whose motorcycle shop was literally washed away. Can someone out there help them start a new life?

I'll also be talking with the Labor Secretary Elaine Chow about the job outlook. Please join us at the top of the hour, and we'll have all that for you.

COOPER: Paula, thanks. That's about six minutes from now.

Still to come, though, on 360, what's blue and white and sort of shaped like a gumdrop with arms and legs? A smurf, of course. But why would someone bomb the smurfs? We'll explain ahead.


COOPER: First of all, we should tell you that although what follows is about some beloved children's characters, notably smurfs, it really isn't suitable for children. Unless you have the kind of children who like to see their beloved characters barbecued, in which case you have bigger problems than keeping them away from the TV set. So seriously, not for kids right now.

See, UNICEF has decided to bomb the smurfs in a new TV commercial. It's for a good cause, but seeing smurfs oblito- smurferated (sic) is -- well, it's kind of shocking. See for yourselves.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You think all smurfs look the same.

COOPER (voice-over): Who doesn't love the smurfs? Besides parents forced to watch them, that is. They're bouncy, blue, three apples high bundles of smug happiness, baffling the plots of the evil sorcerer Gargamel and his mangy cat Azrael.

Generations have grown up entranced by the coquettish Smurfette and the gruff but lovable Papa Smurf.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Keep on smurfing!

COOPER: Who at the age of 542 looks pretty darn good.

But in a new commercial now running on TV in Belgium, all is not so smurfy in the mushroom-filled town of Smurfville. One moment, the smurfs are dancing around a campfire. The next, it's Smurfageddon. Their cute mushroom homes are blown up, and so are a number of smurfs. The commercial ends with a child smurf left crying amidst the wreckage.

Who would do this to smurfs? Turns out the bloodbath is the brainchild of UNICEF Belgium. Belgium is the birthplace of smurfs, after all. And they are blowing them apart to raise awareness and money to rehabilitate children, kidnapped and forced to fight as soldiers in the African country of Burundi.

Will seeing their little blue friends blown up send thousands of Belgian kids into shock? Perhaps, but UNICEF says the ad is meant for adults, and will be aired only at night.

For their part, the smurfs aren't talking, but we are sure with their can-do smurf spirit, they will be up and smurfing in no time soon.


COOPER: Oh, smurfs. Papa Smurf.

We did make a number of calls to UNICEF headquarters to give the organization the chance to comment on the story. None of our calls was returned. We're also still waiting to hear directly from the official spokessmurf. That would be smurfirific (sic).

I'm Anderson Cooper. Thanks for watching this edition of 360. Hope you join me and Aaron Brown for a two-hour edition of "NEWSNIGHT." We'll be interviewing Mr. Davis, the man who was beaten by New Orleans police officers. We'll get his take on exactly what happened in those moments before the beating began. What was it that he thinks started all of this? And also, what does he exactly remember during the beating? That's at 10:00 Eastern time on "NEWSNIGHT." CNN's prime-time coverage continues right now with Paula Zahn. Hey, Paula.