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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees

Interview With Dave Chappelle; FBI Uncovers Suspected New York Subway Terror Plot

Aired July 07, 2006 - 22:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening again, everyone -- a lot to talk about tonight.
An alleged attack on New York is foiled. And the American voice of al Qaeda is revealed -- how a California kid went from mama's boy to Osama's boy.


ANNOUNCER: Missing for years, he finally shows his face on a terror tape.

ADAM GADAHN, AL QAEDA MEMBER: They should blame no one but themselves, because cause they are the ones who started this dirty war.

ANNOUNCER: What else does he have in mind for his native country? And how on Earth do you go from California farm kid to Osama bin Laden's inner circle?

Turnstile terror -- the FBI says it's uncovered a plot to bomb subways and flood Manhattan for months.

And he's coming back, after walking away from it all.


ANNOUNCER: Dave Chappelle on life, comedy, and the pursuit of happiness, only on CNN, on 360.


ANNOUNCER: Across the country and around the world this is ANDERSON COOPER 360.

Tonight -- reporting from the CNN studios in New York, here's Anderson Cooper.

COOPER: Thanks for joining us.

Exactly one year since suicide bombers attacked the London subway system, the FBI says it has uncovered a similar, but even more ambitious plot against New York -- all the angle tonight, starting with details of the would-be operation which targeted the tunnels and trains, the PATH system that connects New Jersey and the Wall Street area. According to the FBI, the plan was to set off explosives, breaching a subway tunnel and potentially flooding Lower Manhattan. It is a concern to any major city, of course, with a subway system or car tunnels.

So, how vulnerable are we? What's being done in New York and elsewhere to meet the challenge? We will look at that tonight.

And we go beyond the briefing, what sources are telling our security analyst, a former man at the FBI, Pat D'Amuro.

First, though, what sources are telling CNN's own Kelli Arena.


KELLI ARENA, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Officials say the plot was in the early stages, but well enough along and serious enough to act.

MICHAEL CHERTOFF, HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: We don't wait until someone has lit the fuse to step in and prevent something from happening. That would be playing games with people's lives. So, we always intervene at the earliest possible opportunity.

ARENA: The attack, they say, was planned for this fall and called for putting suicide bombers with backpacks full of explosives on trains.

MARK MERSHON, FBI NEW YORK ASSISTANT DIRECTOR: They were about to go to a phase where they would attempt to surveil targets, establish a regimen of attack, and -- and acquire the -- the resources necessary to effectuate the attacks.

ARENA: This is the alleged mastermind, Assem Hammoud, 31 years old, from Lebanon. He's being held in Beirut.

MERSHON: We know that he has acknowledged pledging a bayat, or allegiance, to Osama bin Laden. And he -- he proclaims himself to be a member of al Qaeda.

ARENA: Lebanese security officials say Hammoud was taken into custody on April 27. The Lebanese government says Hammoud was living a life of -- quote -- "fun and indulgence" to hide his extremist views. It also says he was supposed to travel to Pakistan for terror training.

The FBI says that, in all, eight people are involved. At least two other alleged participants are also in custody, but the FBI won't say where. As for the other five, officials say they do not believe they're in the United States.

MERSHON: There are still subjects out there, mostly known, some only partially identified or unknown. And we remain vigilant.

ARENA: The plot was first revealed in a New York newspaper. And that infuriated officials, who say the disclosure jeopardized the investigation.

But there is another view. The story of an apparent law enforcement success came out on the anniversary of the London subway attacks and suggests a political motivation for leaking.

JOE CIRINCIONE, CARNEGIE ENDOWMENT: If this was a genuine plot, there's nothing wrong with that. But we do have to keep in mind, the Department of Homeland Security, in particular, is under a lot of pressure to show some results.

ARENA (on camera): The investigation is ongoing. The FBI says at least six countries are actively involved. Sources tell CNN, those include, Iraq, Canada, and Pakistan.

Kelli Arena, CNN, Washington.


COOPER: Well, it's worth mentioning that news of the plot didn't budge New York's color-coded terror alert level or the country's. Does anyone even remember which color is which anymore? I'm told we're at level orange here in New York. Colors aside, though, what is the real risk? How vulnerable is a transportation system that carries several million commuters a day?

With that angle, here's CNN's Mary Snow.


MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Tunnels leading into New York City have long been considered terror targets.

SAMUEL PLUMERI, PORT AUTHORITY POLICE DEPARTMENT: I think that any -- any explosion, any blast in any tunnel, regardless of its size, would cause an issue, obviously, and a disruption. To get into details as to what that means, in terms size of explosives, etcetera, I'm not prepared to do that here today.

SNOW: Since the early 1990s, New York officials say nearly 20 attacks or attempted attacks have been made against the city. While today, the FBI specifically mentioned the transit tunnel, officials also say that a number of those threats over the years have targeted New York City's other river crossings, including a 1993 plot involving the Holland Tunnel.

Experts say, while bombs could severely damage tunnel interiors and ventilation systems, it's doubtful the force of a conventional explosion would break through the layers of bedrock into the river.

LEE AMRAMSON, TUNNEL ENGINEER: They would very unlikely cause a complete collapse of the tunnel and water rushing in.

SNOW: Engineers say the PATH tubes, much like the Holland Tunnel, are built under the riverbed, protected by bedrock in most parts. Experts say that a "New York Daily News" report that this latest plot to intentionally flood Lower Manhattan's Financial District would be unlikely, because New York is above sea level.

Security analysts say terrorist don't have only an objective of physical damage in mind. They say these types of plots are aimed at generating psychological damage and chaos as well.

(on camera): But many New York commuters say they can't afford to give into fear. Knowing that they may be targets has become a part of their everyday routine.

Mary Snow, CNN, New York.


COOPER: Well, Pat D'Amuro is a former FBI assistant director here in New York. Currently, he's CEO of Giuliani Security and Safety, as well as a security analyst for CNN. He's been working his sources all day on the story. We spoke earlier tonight.


COOPER: Pat, this plot was described as the real deal. Exactly how close were they to execution? How difficult would it be to get enough explosives into the tunnel to cause serious damage?

PAT D'AMURO, CNN SECURITY ANALYST: Well, Anderson, I think one of the reasons this operation was taken down when it was -- and Hammoud was arrested on April 27 -- was because he was going into a transition phase.

It looked like he was going to Pakistan, according to sources, to receive additional terrorism training. We know that, when al Qaeda operatives begin to go into transit like that, that they go silent, and it's much more difficult to follow them and figure out exactly what they're going to be into.

As far as obtaining that much of explosive material, that would have taken some time. And it would have taken time to get some of these operatives into the United States.

COOPER: Does it surprise you that these guys would risk using the Internet? I mean, the plot was -- was first discovered, apparently, by agents monitoring an extremist Islamic Internet chat room.

D'AMURO: Anderson, the Internet has been used by terrorists for -- for some time now. And it continues to be one of the ways that they communicate and that they try to recruit individuals to become part of their terrorist organization.

COOPER: What do you make of these -- this Lebanese connection? One suspect was in Lebanon, one suspect in custody.

D'AMURO: I will tell you, it's a remarkable effort on the part of the Lebanese, from what I'm hearing.

The -- the information directorate, which is part of the internal security force in Lebanon, which has been struggling, because, with Syria pulling out of Lebanon and -- and supposedly removing almost $24 billion of -- of funds from Lebanon, they have been struggling to continue to collect the intelligence and the security they need.

As you well know, they have had over 15 bombings in the last year and-a-half that they have had to contend with themselves. The effort with the FBI has been superb.

COOPER: Sources say there may be a connection between the plot and Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. What do you think the significance of that is?

D'AMURO: We're hearing loose connections to that. Reports earlier this morning indicated that Zarqawi was financing the operation. I have not been able to confirm that through anyone that I have spoken to.

But there appears to be a possible loose connection and a photo I.D., possibly, of someone that may be affiliated with Zarqawi's operation.

COOPER: Yes. As we heard earlier, officials said that leaking the plot could hurt the investigation. How so?

D'AMURO: Well, they were not ready to disclose this information yet. And it was at the request of the Lebanese government that this not be disclosed.

So, the United States, whoever leaked this information, caused serious problems to our relationship with Lebanon. It's very important that we work with our foreign partners to try to capture the intelligence, the evidence, we need to prevent these bombings.

COOPER: A lot of people in America are very dubious about these kind of -- these kind of stories, these kinds of leaks. They make headlines. What do you think about the speculation that there's a -- a political motivation for the leak?

D'AMURO: Well, I'm not aware of any political motivation.

You know, we -- we won't know and probably will never find out who leaked this, let alone why they leaked this information.

COOPER: Pat D'Amuro, appreciate it. Thanks.

D'AMURO: Take care.


COOPER: While lobbying recently against cuts in federal aid to New York City's anti-terrorism program, Mayor Michael Bloomberg may have been prophetic when he said -- and I quote -- "When you stop a terrorist, they have a map of New York City in their pocket. They don't have a map of any of the other 45 or 46 places."

So, how much money has Washington given New York in special grants? Here's the "Raw Data."

Since September 11, New York City has received more than $528 million in urban grants. But it's been going down from some $200 million in 2005, to roughly 124 million bucks this year. That's out of more than $700 million in urban grants given this year to cities across the country.

Tonight, the American face of al Qaeda is revealed, a California kid now in al Qaeda's inner circle. He's speaking out on a new terror tape. We will play it for you, show you how this guy, who used to listen to heavy metal, is now working for the enemy.

Later: an issue of credibility -- President Bush and North Korea. While they're launching missiles, he's going back to his same strategy, and time may be running out.

And live right here, Dave Chappelle -- in an exclusive interview, he talks about Comedy Central airing what they call the lost episodes of his show. We will also talk to him about walking away from $50 million -- when 360 continues.





COOPER: Today, all of Great Britain observed two minutes silence to pay tribute to the victims of last year's London terror attacks. It's been exactly one year since the bombings that killed 52 people and injured 700.

This day of mourning comes as we are learning more about the new al Qaeda tape that surfaced yesterday. Two of the four London suicide bombers appeared on that tape. So does a third man. He's a member of al Qaeda, and he's part of Osama bin Laden's inner circle. He's also an American.


COOPER (voice-over): Adam Gadahn has come a long way from his home in California.

ADAM GADAHN, AL QAEDA MEMBER: Why should we target their military only?

COOPER: That's him playing a starring role in the latest al Qaeda video.

A. GADAHN: Because they're the ones who started this dirty war. COOPER: U.S. officials say this tape shows Gadahn playing a central role in al Qaeda's inner circle, valued by its leaders for putting an American face on al Qaeda, a valuable propaganda tool, attacking his own country in its own language.

A. GADAHN: Don't say Muslims should shed tears for them.

I'm Adam Gadahn, and this...

COOPER: This is Adam Gadahn in the early 1990s. His odyssey began on this goat farm in rural Riverside County, California. His father, Phil, once an acid rock guitarist, and his mother dropped out of the L.A. music scene, moved to the farm, and homeschooled their children.

But Adam Gadahn rebelled against the counterculture and his parents' Christianity.

PHIL GADAHN, FATHER OF ADAM GADAHN: Because most of the kids, they don't want -- they don't want to be a bumpkin out here, you know, living in -- you know, on a farm. So, they all move to town.

COOPER: After going through a heavy metal phase, Adam Gadahn embraced Islam and took the Muslim name Yahiye. That was in 1995.

And Gadahn wrote about it in this Web site posting. "Having been around Muslims in my formative years," he wrote, "I knew they were not bloodthirsty, barbaric terrorists."

Two years after becoming a Muslim, he was arrested for allegedly attacking the president of the Islamic Society of Orange County. Federal officials say, soon after, Gadahn moved to Pakistan in 1998. His family lost touch with him after 2002.

P. GADAHN: He sort of detached. He went off and did his own thing.

COOPER: But he surfaced in a big way in 2004, first named by the FBI as someone it was seeking information on in connection with possible terrorist threats, threats he later made when appearing masked in this video, calling himself Azzam the American.

A. GADAHN: People of America, I remind you...

COOPER: Now, in this latest video, he gives a hint of time he spent in Afghanistan during and after the Americans toppled the Taliban and drove out al Qaeda.

A. GADAHN: They have murdered thousands of Afghan civilians. I have seen it with my own eyes. My brothers have seen it. I have carried the victims in my arms, women, children, toddlers, babies in their mother's wombs. You name it, they have probably bombed it.

COOPER: Gadahn is now believed to be somewhere along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border. His appears for more than five minutes in the latest video, his words aimed at both the British and American audience.

A. GADAHN: Britain is the one who taught America how to kill and oppress Muslims in the first place.

COOPER: Gadahn refers to the recent charges of U.S. killings in Iraq, saying it's proof that Muslims are being slaughtered by American troops there.

A. GADAHN: And then when our mujahedeen take revenge on the unit which committed this outrage and capture and execute two of its members, they're called terrorists.

COOPER: Gadahn's family isn't talking about the latest tape, but a family friend says they are devastated.


COOPER: Well, you might be surprised to find out that Adam Gadahn is not charged with any crimes. The FBI does not want -- does want to question him, however, if they ever find him.

For more on Gadahn, I spoke with CNN terrorism analyst Peter Bergen.


COOPER: Peter, I find this character fascinating, an American member of al Qaeda. How surprised should we be?

PETER BERGEN, CNN TERRORISM ANALYST: Well, it's surprising, but there have been, historically, American citizens who have been part of al Qaeda, a -- a small number of African-Americans, a guy called Ali Mohamed, who was an Egyptian-American, who was actually al Qaeda's chief military trainer, and actually, amazingly, was a U.S. Army sergeant at the same time that he was training members of al Qaeda.

But this has sort of been an historical thing. The -- you know, the people we're seeing in the -- in the cases in -- for instance, the wanna-bes in Miami. There's a case in Torrance, California, of people trying to bomb synagogues, also a case in Toledo, Ohio, people allegedly training to fight in Iraq. These people aren't al Qaeda members. They're just inspired by the al Qaeda ideology.

COOPER: But, I mean, previously, this guy Gadahn appeared masked. Now he's shown his face.


COOPER: His parents earlier had denied, you know, it was their son, just based on the voice. Obviously, can't deny it now. Why do you think he's now shown his face?

BERGEN: Well, I think he's well aware of the -- you may recall, a little over a year-and-a-half ago, the FBI had a press conference. And they -- they named him specifically as one of seven people who had been in the United States that they were particularly interested in finding.

The FBI was looking for Gadahn. This was well-known. So, I mean, for -- for him, it's sort of, what has he got to lose by going public?

COOPER: How important do you think he is to the al Qaeda organization? I mean, we -- as we just heard in the piece, he's in al Qaeda's inner circle.

BERGEN: Well, I think, you know, because he speaks English, and he can -- you know, he can do the subtitle on their propaganda videos, I -- I think, you know, he plays a sort of almost -- almost like Tokyo Rose did in World War II, somebody who was using English to broadcast from -- from Japan, and when we were at war with Japan.

I think he's playing sort of a similar role. And they have always valued people who have European passports or American passports, who understand the West, as this guy undoubtedly does.

COOPER: I want to just play an excerpt from -- from this tape and talk about it. Let's listen.


A. GADAHN: It's crucial for Muslims to keep in mind that the Americans, the British, and the other members of the coalition of terror have intentionally targeted Muslim civilians and civilian targets, both before, as well as after September 11.


COOPER: It's so -- I mean, it's just fascinating, when you're watching this guy, who, you know -- and -- and then you hear about his background, I mean, grew up on this goat farm, you know, sort of -- his parents homeschooled him. He used to listen to heavy metal.

Clearly, going over to Pakistan, going over to the region, he has become extremely radicalized.


The other thing that's interesting about this tape, I mean, you look at this computer, and the -- the fact that he looks like he's in some sort of house. I mean, clearly, he's not sort of cowering in some cave. I think that that -- you know, he may -- this may actually kind of not be such a smart thing for him to have done, because I'm sure that reduces the -- the number of places that people might be looking for him.

COOPER: You know, how hard is it for someone to infiltrate al Qaeda? I mean, this guy goes over, you know, for -- just some -- some kid from -- from California goes over, and -- and eventually winds up in the inner circle of al Qaeda.

Those guys from London, we know now, went over to Pakistan and recorded, you know, their last will and testament, apparently made contact with al Qaeda, and -- and became suicide bombers. It would seem, almost, from these tapes, that, you know, it doesn't take much to -- to be able to go over there and make contact with someone from al Qaeda.

BERGEN: Providing, of course, that you really, you know, are -- are -- you know, do have some radical views, and you really can present yourself as a real Muslim, I think that's true.

I mean, you only have to remember another Californian, John Walker Lindh, who fought alongside the Taliban, who met with bin Laden on a number of occasions, didn't become part of al Qaeda. I think John Walker Lindh indicated that this was not impossible. And Gadahn also indicates this.

COOPER: Fascinating. Peter Bergen, thank you.

BERGEN: Thank you.


COOPER: Well, meanwhile, of course, the North Korea threat is just over the horizon. President Bush talked more about that today. We will have that in a moment.

But, first, CNN's Gary Tuchman has some of the other stories we're following -- Gary.


Israel is stepping up its offensive in Gaza. Today, Israeli forces made their way into the central part of the territory. Palestinian sources said Israeli troops exchanged gunfire with militants. Israel says it will keep fighting until a kidnapped Israeli soldier is released.

America's top commander in Iraq has ramped up his review of the Haditha investigation. According to "The New York Times," the report says senior Marine officers failed to properly look into the allegations. U.S. Marines are accused of killing 24 Iraqi civilians in the town of Haditha on November 19.

Here in the U.S., scary moments last night on a Delta Airlines flight headed for Tampa, Florida -- an airport spokeswoman says an American soldier who had -- quote -- "mental problems" slammed himself into the plane's cockpit door twice. There were no air marshals on board, but three first-class passengers took charge, tackling, then restraining the soldier. He's now in police custody.

And in San Bernardino County, California, witnesses say amateur fireworks caused a fire that burned 420 acres and threatened 200 homes. Authorities are on the hunt for two teenage boys suspected of starting the blaze. It was one of several that erupted in Southern California yesterday, including a 168-acre fire in a canyon west of Los Angeles.

And, Anderson, it's a very vulnerable time for Southern California and brushfires.

COOPER: Yes, terrible, terrible.

Gary, thanks.

What a week for President Bush, from terror threats at home, to a missile threat from North Korea -- today, he faced some tough questions from reporters.


QUESTION: Why shouldn't Americans see the U.S. policy regarding North Korea as a failed one? What...

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Because it takes time to get things done.


COOPER: We will tell you what else the president had to say in just a moment.

Also ahead: Why did comedian Dave Chappelle quit his own hit show? Fans want to know. So do a lot of his entertainment colleagues. Tonight, I will ask him and what he thinks about Comedy Central airing what they're calling the lost episodes -- an exclusive interview live, when 360 continues.


COOPER: In recent weeks, President Bush's poll numbers have stabilized and edged up a bit. Some say part of the reason is because he's putting himself in more challenging environments, that -- that certainly proved the case today.

The president showed up for a press conference, and reporters were -- well, were ready to hunt.

CNN's Suzanne Malveaux was there, just doing her job. Take a look.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It's nice to be here in Chicago.

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): President Bush blew into the Windy City to hold his first solo news conference outside of Washington, part of a new media strategy to show a president in touch with the people, taking questions from local reporters.

But the hour-long session was dominated by questions about North Korea. Since the missiles were launched, Mr. Bush has been trying to get North Korea's neighbors to unite and convincing the regime to come back to the stalled six-party talks, and for them to agree on sanctions.

BUSH: The problem with diplomacy, it takes a while to get something done.

MALVEAUX (on camera): If I could follow up, you say diplomacy takes time.

BUSH: Yes, it does.

MALVEAUX: But it was four years ago that you labeled North Korea a member of the axis of evil. And, since then, it's increased its nuclear arsenal. It's abandoned six-party talks, and now these missile launches.

BUSH: Let me answer your question. It's increased -- that's an interesting statement. North Korea has increased its nuclear arsenal.

Can you verify that?

MALVEAUX: Well, intelligence sources say -- if you can -- if you would like to dispute it, that's fine.

BUSH: No, I'm not going to dispute it. I'm just curious.

MALVEAUX (voice over): According to U.S. intelligence sources, North Korea had the capability to produce one to two nuclear weapons in the mid to late 1990s. But since it began reprocessing 8,000 spent fuel rods in April 2003, U.S. intelligence estimates North Korea can produce six to eight nuclear weapons, while other experts suggest as many as 12 or 13.

(on camera): Why shouldn't Americans see the U.S. policy regarding North Korea as a failed one? What...

BUSH: Because it takes time to get things done.

MALVEAUX: What objectives has the U.S. government achieved when it comes to North Korea? And why does the administration continue to go back to the same platform process, if it's not effective in changing North Korea's behavior?

Thank you.

BUSH: Suzanne, these problems didn't arise overnight, and they don't get solved overnight. It takes a while.

You asked what we have done. We have created a framework that will be successful. It -- it -- it -- I don't -- my judgment is, you can't be successful if the United States is sitting at the table alone with North Korea. You run out of options very quickly if that's the case.

MALVEAUX: And the question now is whether or not President Bush has the credibility and the standing when he meets with other world leaders next week at the G8 Summit in Russia to convince them that his plan, his strategy with North Korea, is ultimately a winning strategy to convince that country to cooperate.

Suzanne Malveaux, CNN, Chicago.


COOPER: Well, some perspective now and wisdom, always, from former presidential adviser David Gergen, who joins us tonight from Boston.

David, thanks for being with us.


COOPER: So, White House counselor Dan Bartlett said it's always important to change the playbook a little bit.

How much do you think the president's sort of new strategy, going out there, putting himself in some challenging environments, is actually working?


GERGEN: Well, I like the fact that he's going out and talking to people and spending more time in communities. I think it's a good idea.

It did not work today. I mean, this was a -- a trip that was planned to spotlight the good news in the economy and also the president's competitiveness initiative -- initiative, how to be more competitive against China and India and the like.

And, of course, it was overwhelmed by -- by the news of the day, which is -- is still about international affairs, as he prepares to go off to this summit.

And it was your own Suzanne Malveaux, after all, who asked those -- those questions that really got him going on -- on North Korea, and -- and -- and redirected the focus from what the White House wanted to talk about, the economy, back to foreign policy and the headaches the United States is -- is experiencing and facing.

And I -- I must say, I'm sympathetic with what the president said. But I don't think he got -- I don't think it achieved what the -- the political side that the White House wanted today.

COOPER: I think it was Madeleine Albright who said the president's facing sort of this perfect storm of -- of...

GERGEN: Right.

COOPER: ... foreign policy problems. Even Bill Kristol, I think, was quoted as saying he's concerned about, you know, some of the -- the lack of focus on -- on some of these other issues in -- in Somalia, and Afghanistan, and -- and North Korea, and elsewhere.

Does -- does -- does a -- does a dangerous world environment, with all these problems, does that actually help, though, the president? Does it help the Republicans in these midterm elections, that people, you know, are -- are seeing, well, look, the world's a dangerous place? And that traditionally has gone in the favor of Republicans.

GERGEN: Well I think it presents bigger burdens for some of the would-be democratic president candidates for '08, Mark Warner or Tom Vilsack. You know the governors who don't have a lot of foreign policy experience. And when you have arrests, as we had in New York today, I think that does strengthen the president's hand, as a dangerous world. But when you've got a series of problems, like Afghanistan, which seemed to be all buttoned up and now seemed to be unraveling to a degree or Iraq that goes on and on and on. Or North Korea that's defying not only the United States but others, I think those do not help the president very much. I think that they show that he's trying to juggle a lot of balls in the air. Many of which are not -- are falling on the floor.

COOPER: What do you make of the sort of low-key response by the White House, the missile tests in North Korea, when you compare that to I guess some sort of mushroom cloud-type rhetoric that was used with Iraq?

GERGEN: Boy that's a really interesting question, Anderson. It so emphasizes the desire of this administration not to be bellicose about North Korea, the Japanese, very surprisingly, you know, so muted usually in diplomacy since the Second World War, who are the ones that are being bellicose. Here is the United States saying, give diplomacy a chance, let's wait this out, yeah we want some tough sanctions but let's not rattle this too much. You know he's got problems with Putin, problems with the Chinese over North Korea, and he's downplaying those. It's very interesting. The president obviously does not want to rush into any military action against North Korea or Iran. He's got his hands full in Iraq.

COOPER: David Gergen why do you think Dave Chappelle left his show? Just kidding.

GERGEN: We'll talk about love next time.

COOPER: Alright, David, thanks very much. Comedian David Chappelle joins me next. He's flown in for the occasion. We're glad to have him here. You'll only see him right here on 360. Dave Chappelle talking about the so-called lost episodes that Comedy Central's going to air and walking away from a whole boat load of money. We'll talk about all of that ahead.

Also in the next hour, Tim McGraw and Faith Hill, two of the many American heroes who are giving back and helping rebuild the gulf. We'll have that exclusive interview and a tour around the lower ninth ward with them ahead on 360.


COOPER: So he's one of the funniest guys on the planet. Dave Chappelle knows how to make people laugh. He's also good at leaving them guessing. Tonight he's here to get some things off his chest, we'll also talk to him about his now legendary disappearing act and what he thinks about Comedy Central airing what they call his lost episodes. The shows are airing this Sunday. They may think its funny, we'll see if Dave Chappelle is laughing as well. Take a look.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Dave Chappelle receive $55 million. [ laughter ]

DAVE CHAPPELLE, COMEDIAN: They be lying like (INAUDIBLE) on TV, don't they?

COOPER: Was this sketch one of the last he did for Comedy Central, a clue, a hint of what was to come? A conflicted comedy genius baring his soul?

CHAPPELLE: I'm rich, bitch.

COOPER: Dave Chappelle supposedly had it all. A $50 million contract from Comedy Central, a hit TV show, best-selling DVDs. But in a move that shocked so many, he decided, well, he really didn't want any of it. Chappelle started doing sketches for Comedy Central on a shoestring. They were a runaway hit with critics and audiences. His biting satire, his commentary on race and culture, pushed the limits of cable TV.

CHAPPELLE: And you know they're not bad after unprotected sex with multiple partners either.

COOPER: But in April 2005, just weeks into filming his third season, Chappelle ran from it all, actually he flew to South Africa, where he stayed in a self-imposed exile for weeks. Refusing to return or explain.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: His show was on hold indefinitely. He had a $50 million deal. Amy, what's going on? Show is on hold.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You know, he's missing in action.

COOPER: And left everyone wondering, why would he walk away from that kind of money and something he supposedly loved? In the months since, Chappelle has offered clues but not necessarily answers, saying that he's at peace, not crazy. That he didn't have a breakdown, but an epiphany. He tried to explain it to Oprah Winfrey.

OPRAH WINFREY, TALK SHOW HOST: Why did you walk away from $50 million?

DAVE CHAPPELLE: Well, I wasn't walking away from the money.


CHAPPELLE: I was walking away from the circumstances.

WINFREY: Uh-huh. CHAPPELLE: They were coming with the new-found plateau.


COOPER: Chappelle said he didn't want to be controlled for any amount of money, telling "Esquire" magazine, "I felt like I was really pressured to settle for something that I didn't necessarily feel like I wanted."


COOPER: So what is Dave Chappelle doing now? Well he's been doing his stand-up act around the country. Also promoting his film "Dave Chappelle's Block Party." And, he says, trying to enjoy his freedom.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So where's Dave at, man?


COOPER: But all of this has left Comedy Central sitting on an unused comedy gold mine. Until now. Sunday it plans to air what it paid for, what it calls the lost episodes. Without Dave Chappelle. Despite the good reviews of the unfinished work, Chappelle has been left with an unsettled feeling again, saying it was a bully move on the part of the network. With or without his blessing, however, Comedy Central says the show will go on.


COOPER: And I'm very pleased that Dave Chappelle joins me live. Dave thanks for being with us.

CHAPPELLE: Man thank you, Anderson. Thank you very much. That was a tearjerker.

COOPER: So what do you think about these so-called lost episodes?

CHAPPELLE: It's funny, I have mixed feelings. I mean, 90 percent of me feels like I wish they wouldn't do this. There's the 10 percent comedian that's like, I hope the sketches do good.

COOPER: Really, so part of you kind of wants to make sure they do alright?

CHAPPELLE: Yeah, oh, yeah. But -- I think the thing that upsets me about it the most is that I was so public about not liking a particular sketch and from my understanding that's included in the three episodes.

COOPER: You talked on "Oprah" about some of the sketches that you were working on and that you felt that they were almost inappropriate or -- I don't want to put words in your mouth. But irresponsible -- CHAPPELLE: Socially irresponsible. In that case, I was speaking about one in particular, in where I appeared in blackface. It's funny but its like -- someone on the set while we were filming it laughed in such a way that I was like, I can't subject my audience to that.

COOPER: There was a white man on the set, one of the people working on the show who laughs --

CHAPPELLE: The way he laughed, made me feel like this guy's laughing for the wrong reasons. And I dared him to laugh Anderson, so that's my --

COOPER: Because people, I mean you want --

CHAPPELLE: It stirred something up in me emotionally that I was like, I don't want to subject anyone else to. And that will be included in the so-called lost episodes. That's one of the reasons why I said it's a bully move.

COOPER: Do you want your fans -- do you wish your fans would not watch these so-called lost episodes?


COOPER: Are you going to watch them?

CHAPPELLE: No, man. Yeah, probably at some point in my life I will watch them, but --

COOPER: Not now?

CHAPPELLE: Actually, I don't know. I don't know the answer to that question, yeah I'll watch them, shoot.

COOPER: You can come over to my house, if you want.

CHAPPELLE: I'm not going to lie. Yeah I'm going to watch. I'll be mad, and fists balled up. It's like watching "The Cosby Show" and it's just Rudy and Vanessa. It's like, hey, where's Bill at?

COOPER: I think that would be unwatchable, frankly.

CHAPPELLE: It's like -- you know, a lot of the press that I've done, I was doing press for the "Block Party" DVD coming out, mostly radio. And they would keep asking me about how I felt about Charlie Murphy and Darnell, which is something that I feel like I should have a conversation with Charlie and Darnell about. But like I don't want to disparage the guys who participated in it.

COOPER: Have you had conversations with the folks you worked with, like Charlie Murphy?

CHAPPELLE: I saw Charlie a week before they taped the lost episodes. At a comedy club. He didn't even mention it to me. At that point, I didn't know that they were even going ahead and filming it with Charlie and Darnell hosting. COOPER: On the "Oprah" show you said that you would have gone back to your show if you guys could have worked out some sort of a deal where they gave like half of the DVD profits to charities of your choosing and if you could have reached some deal on the work environment that you had been working under. Did you try to do that? That just didn't work out?

CHAPPELLE: No, they called me basically --

COOPER: You say something like that on "Oprah", I imagine like you get a million calls.

CHAPPELLE: Oh yeah, oh yeah. I mean that's the thing. There's two perceptions that people have. One perception is that I got paid $50 million and left. That's not what happened. If that was the case, then I'd be running from the law. I didn't get $50 million. I'm not $50 million richer than before I signed the deal. Another thing that always bothers me is that whenever I see my name in the paper, they always mention $50 million. And no one ever mentioned how much money the show generated. Like what are they making to pay Dave Chappelle $50 million? Am I asking for an unreasonable sum or portion? I'm just interested to know and I'm surprised nobody else is.

COOPER: They were making clearly hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars. The DVD sales were -- the DVD was the most popular DVD I think ever sold.

CHAPPELLE: Right, and I know what the budget of the show was.

COOPER: Right.

CHAPPELLE: So it's an incredible return on investment. So when Doug says in the paper -- I'm just airing what I paid for and cries about an $8 million loss, from the stalled season, it's like $8 million from what? Hundreds of millions of dollars.

COOPER: This is what the president of Comedy Central, I guess Doug Herzog said. He said quote, we were hoping against hope that we would hear from Dave and that he would come back. We really didn't want to do this without him but we needed some closure. We did pay for the episodes so we might as well use them. I'm try to run a business.

CHAPPELLE: I mean that's pretty definitive. But I think one of the reasons why I didn't get back to him is because there's so many unresolved issues around the show that don't just have to do with Comedy Central exclusively.

COOPER: We have to take a quick break but we'll talk more on the other side of it.


COOPER: Alright, we'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) COOPER: You know, a lot of people do focus on -- that you left the show. And after achieving -- I mean, you had a tough road coming up. You were in -- you had a lot of stuff canceled over the years. In many people's eyes, you'd reached this pinnacle of success in what they determined success, tons of money, a huge hit show. On the "Oprah Winfrey Show" you described the situation that you found yourself in, you said, I don't care who you think you are or how you think you do it, you cannot imagine what celebrities go through as far as how your integrity, your self image and all these things are challenged. Can you describe what -- how did things change? How did your life change? How did the people around you change? When all of a sudden everyone had that $50 million figure in their head?

CHAPPELLE: It's almost indescribable. I mean, people who go and see my stand up recently especially -- I talk about it a lot in my act just because it's kind of cathartic. But it's almost indescribable. It's all-encompassing. It comes from so many angles and people who you know, I mean like this, it's like the relationships are different.

COOPER: Even though you were already a huge celebrity. Even though you're already, you know, described as a genius comedian and I'm sure were making a lot of money. Something about that figure, something about -- you reach a different plateau.

CHAPPELLE: Yeah, something -- absolutely, man. I think one of the things that happened, one of the incidents that happened with this that was really off-putting is when I first signed the deal. You know, there was a big like, don't mention the terms of the deal Dave. Whatever you do, don't mention how much you're making, it should be a big secret. So I go, fine, I won't. And then the next morning in the paper, it's like Dave Chappelle makes $50 million. Which is like putting a social hit on a person. You know? It's like from that moment on, my life was completely different. I think that people judge you differently. And incentives or -- you start dealing with the agendas.

COOPER: Right.

CHAPPELLE: You know, kind actions that people do towards you with bad intentions behind them is a really --

COOPER: You also have people around you who -- they make money when you make money and the more money you make the more money they make.

CHAPPELLE: Most of the people around me have a vested interest in how much money I make. You know, so a celebrity could find themselves in a position where people could have meetings about their life without them involved. And when I say "their life" I mean not their professional life either. They could talk about their personal life.

COOPER: Right.

CHAPPELLE: You know?

COOPER: They're all talking about you in the third person --

CHAPPELLE: Right, because there's an element -- you become a product before you're a human being.

COOPER: Right.

CHAPPELLE: And it's a difficult place to be. I mean for, yeah, for -- I think for most celebrities it's probably got to be challenging.

COOPER: Are there moments now when you think you made a mistake or do you feel -- are you happier now than you were a year ago?


COOPER: It's a stupid question --

CHAPPELLE: No, no, that's a good question, man. You know, listen, walking away from $50 million.

COOPER: It's not easy.

CHAPPELLE: It's not a easy thing to do.

COOPER: I can't imagine it's easy.

CHAPPELLE: I didn't flee from it or it wasn't like -- but it wasn't -- it wasn't an easy thing to do. At the time, it felt like I just want to survive, like I'm not happy. This is not a good environment for me. And I've got to get out of here.

COOPER: So if people do watch these so-called lost episodes this weekend, what do you want them to know as they're watching it, or in making the decision whether or not to watch it?

CHAPPELLE: I think in some of the press that I read leading up to it, that I don't like people to feel sad for me or sorry for me. I do enough of that on my own. I think that, you know, I'm out there man. I'm going to be telling my jokes, I'm going to find my stride. You know this happened to me right before I did Chappelle Show. I was in like this career limbo like this. Which was good for me. I think it was one of the times it enabled me to do something that I've always wanted to do. And I'm just trying -- I'm just trying to go and do something -- you know, bigger and better things.

COOPER: The "Block Party" is on DVD. I haven't seen it but I've heard it's fantastic.

CHAPPELLE: Yeah, it was great. Michel Gondry directed it. Big up to Michelle.

COOPER: Is being back on stage good? I mean is it -- how is it going out there?

CHAPPELLE: It's incredible. Because I was surrounded by so much negativity at some point that it took me going back and doing stand-up to realize, you know, people really like me. There's a lot of people who don't want anything from me but to laugh and have a good time. You see them at the show and they like -- they dress up to come see your show and stuff. And they pack these auditoriums and it's a lot of fun, man. It's like, this is how I started, and it's still fun for me.

COOPER: Is it nice to know that you can always do that? That no matter what, no matter what happens, no matter how big or small or whatever's gone on in your life, you can always, on a stage, make people laugh?

CHAPPELLE: Yeah, it's really nice, man. It's -- that's a whole other thing that's hard for people to imagine. But if you can just imagine looking out at thousands of people who are just smiling at you, that's a really positive, reinforcing thing. Good for the ego and soul. It's kind of like the basic element of show business. That's what I originally intended to be. And then all this other stuff happens. And it's great. And you get ambitious, but when you get back to what you originally intended to do, that's great too. Because you have a new appreciation for it.

COOPER: Well, I can't imagine the strength it takes to leave and then to come back and deal with all you're dealing with. I appreciate your talking with us. I wish we had more time.

CHAPPELLE: Man, I appreciate you having me Anderson.

COOPER: Thanks, nice.

CHAPPELLE: America, I appreciate you liking me.

COOPER: And you watch "Lou Dobbs," too, I hear?

CHAPPELLE: Yeah, Lou Dobbs, take it easy on the Mexicans, will you? Just kidding.


COOPER: In a moment, Faith Hill and Tim McGraw, but first, CNN's Gary Tuchman has some of the business stories we're following. Gary?

TUCHMAN: Hello there Anderson. Stocks ended the week down, despite a labor report showing unemployment holding steady at 4.6 percent. Disappointing profit numbers and rising oil prices hurt the markets. The Dow lost 134 points, closing at 11,090. The NASDAQ fell 25 points and the S&P lost 8.

The board of General Motors today approved exploratory talks and a possible three-way alliance with Nissan and Renault. GM shares have risen since news that the company's largest individual shareholder Kirk Kerkorian was attempting to broker a deal.

And watch out iPod, Microsoft is going to start selling portable digital music players later this year. Plans haven't been officially made public, but music industry executives say the players will be able to download music without connecting to a computer. At the moment, iPods account for roughly 80 percent of the market for portable music players. And so this is still Anderson an iPod nation at this point.

COOPER: Man, I just bought an iPod, now there's this whole new one. That's annoying. Gary thanks. Straight ahead, a special hour on rebuilding the gulf with country superstars Faith Hill and Tim McGraw. This week Faith and Tim gave a benefit concert in New Orleans. It was a real homecoming and I toured parts of the lower ninth ward and St. Bernard Parish with them. We'll show you their continuing efforts to help and those of many, many more in the gulf.

Also, the challenges still facing New Orleans and how rebuilding plans may finally, finally, slowly, slowly, be taking shape. And the cuddliest survivors of Katrina, one man's effort to save them and your efforts to help him. All coming up, all tonight on a special hour of 360 next.


COOPER: Good evening from New Orleans. Tonight a special 360, American Heroes Rebuilding the Gulf. The people making a difference every day, people like country music stars Tim McGraw and Faith Hill.