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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees

Bush Bashing From Foreign Leaders Continues; Ahmadinejad Fact Check; Bush Bounce?

Aired September 21, 2006 - 22:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, everyone.
They are at it again: more Bush bashing from a pair of presidents, guests in our own country. Each has oil. One has got a nuclear program. And both have pretty big mouths.


ANNOUNCER: Now he's calling the president a John Wayne wannabe.

And he's thumbing his nose at the White House and the West -- what the leaders of Iran and Venezuela get out of bashing this country, and why they could be laughing all the way to the bank.

Bloody Iraq -- grave new numbers, more troops, more patrols, yet, still, more civilians being butchered.

Plus: He tried to kill the last pope. Now he's got a warning for this one: Somebody's gunning for you.


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

Reporting from the CNN studios in New York, here's Anderson Cooper.

COOPER: And good evening again.

We begin tonight with more Bush bashing from a couple of pros, the presidents of Iran and Venezuela, one calling Bush the Antichrist, the other blaming him for dominating the Middle East -- that is, when he's not denying the Holocaust or calling for the destruction of Israel.

The fact though, if they are blowhards, they are blowhards with plenty of oil and growing clout -- so, all the angles tonight on Hugo Chavez, crazy to some, but almost certainly crazy like a fox. We will look at who cheers when he bashes the United States.

Also, a fact check -- when Iran's president says his country has a clean bill of health on nuclear weapons, what do nuclear inspectors say?

And what should President Bush do about these two? Or does having them as adversaries make him more appealing here at home? We will get to that with former presidential adviser David Gergen.

We begin with Hugo Chavez speaking out again today.

Here is CNN's Christine Romans.



CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Thundering applause in Harlem -- Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez throwing kisses to the crowd, to cheers of, "This town loves you" -- a classic performance from Venezuela's president, part Socialist Revolution, part Hugo Chavez book club -- a day after famously calling President Bush "El Diablo," Chavez still throwing insults.

HUGO CHAVEZ, VENEZUELAN PRESIDENT (through translator): He is a sick man full of complexes, very dangerous, because he now has a lot of power.

ROMANS: He called Bush a cowboy and an ex-alcoholic, overshadowing an event meant to show solidarity with America's poor.

He's expanding his discounted heating oil program, giving 100 million gallons of oil to 459,000 American families, earning cheers and applause from the 500-plus at an historic church in Harlem, a crowd that included anti-war protesters, neighborhood schoolchildren, Native American tribes, and actor Danny Glover, who called Chavez a visionary -- Chavez slamming capitalism and the U.S. embargo on Cuba, while pledging support for Iran's nuclear program and Bolivia's coca production, and speaking, he said, directly to the American people.

CHAVEZ (through translator): We are not the enemy of the United States. This is a lie. We are friends of the American people. And you here are representing these people. And we want to work together with you and cooperate.

ROMANS: He said Native American tribes and American blacks are the true owners of American land, the survivors of a European massacre 500 years ago, a genocide, he said, no one wants to talk about.

Not everyone was so enthusiastic about Chavez's theatrics. And Harlem's congressman, Charlie Rangel, said he appreciates the discounted oil, but not the vitriol.

REP. CHARLES RANGEL (D), NEW YORK: You don't come into my country, you don't come into my congressional district, and you don't condemn my president.

(on camera): Chavez invoking Simon Bolivar, Jesus Christ and God -- he says he's not afraid after calling President Bush the devil. He says, if anyone tries to kill him, he has got God on his side.

Christine Romans, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE) COOPER: Well, whether or not he has God on his side, Mr. Chavez certainly has geology on his side.

His country, Venezuela, floats on a sea of oil, not to mention a wellspring of anti-American resentment that he seems to be able to tap into at will.

More now from CNN's Rick Sanchez, who is live in Caracas.

Rick, how is all this playing over there in Venezuela?

RICK SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Plays well for at least some 70 to 80 percent of the people here, who at least favor some of the policies, if not some of the words that are being used by Chavez.

Let me give you an example, Anderson. I'm holding a newspaper. This is one of the many newspapers that favors Hugo Chavez. It says, "The President Acclaimed at the United Nations." It goes on to say, "No other dignitary received the type of ovation that Chavez received."

So, obviously, this is Chavez in his own glory, one of the newspapers. That's what he wants, the people here, if not the world, to hear those words that he used at the U.N.

And, then, we got a taste of Chavez's officials' own fear of the media when we showed up this afternoon at the national palace. We were there just to try and ask questions, to try and shoot some video. Instead, we were taken over to an office, and we were asked if we could share our video. They wanted to see what we had shot so far. Obviously, we tried to get out of there as soon as we possibly could -- Anderson.

COOPER: It's interesting, because Hugo Chavez has no problem insulting George Bush. I guess he has passed laws in his own country making it illegal to insult Hugo Chavez. Why has this become so personal with President Bush?

SANCHEZ: Well, there's no question, if you follow the history of this relationship. And it goes back to 2002.

In 2002, some of his own members of his military -- remember, Hugo Chavez was a paratrooper, so, he takes at least his part of the military very seriously. Some of those members of the military turned against him in a coup in 2002.

The State Department and the Bush administration say, look, we had nothing at all to do with that. But Chavez, to this day, is convinced -- and -- and he said it again yesterday -- he says he's convinced it was George Bush's plan and the George Bush administration to try to overthrow him. And that's why he holds it against him.

COOPER: He's pouring money, not into social programs, but into his military, more money than certainly goes into social programs in Venezuela. I guess some are saying he's trying to outdo Fidel Castro, becoming sort of a regional power and certainly a regional player. SANCHEZ: I have been following Fidel Castro for decades now, Anderson. I never remember him going into the United States and using the kind of words that Chavez used.

So, certainly, just with his language, you might make that argument. But there's something else that stands out here. And this is, I think, what most insiders will tell you is most important. When Fidel Castro needed power and prestige, he had to turn to the Soviets. He had to turn to the Chinese to try and buck the United States.

Hugo Chavez doesn't need that, Anderson. He has his own money through petrodollars. It's oil diplomacy that he's using. It's something Fidel Castro never had. It's something that Hugo Chavez has now. And he's certainly using it to his favor.

COOPER: And getting a lot of attention, doing it.

Rick Sanchez, appreciate it, live from Caracas.

Hugo Chavez called President Bush "El Diablo." Even so, as we have been talking about, his country is making mucho dinero from the U.S. Here's the "Raw Data."

Venezuela is the fifth largest oil producer in the world, generating more than $47 billion in petroleum experts last year alone. And you might be surprised to know that the Venezuela is fourth leading supplier of oil products right here to the United States.

Now to the other thorn in President Bush's side, Ahmadinejad. The president of Iran spoke out again today, hinting that he's willing to negotiate a suspension of a nuclear program, a hint, but declaring himself at a loss to understand why the world has a problem with it.

He also called on U.S. to come clean on its nuclear program, and accused the U.S., once again, of having a double standard on nukes.


MAHMOUD AHMADINEJAD, IRANIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): It's not the nuclear bomb that the American government is afraid of, for there are countries in our region who are armed with a nuclear bomb, and are supported, by chance, by the United States government. Now, how is this?

In Iran, we say you -- there are two skies over one ceiling, or two kinds of wind running over the same ceiling. It doesn't seem plausible. They're not concerned about the bomb, but it seems to us they like to prevent the development of our country, as they have in the past.


COOPER: That was today.

Last night, he sat down with us. I was most interested, really, in exploring the president's repeated denial of the Holocaust and his call to wipe Israel off the map. We covered a variety of topics, however.

Here is some of what he had to say.


COOPER: You said at the U.N. yesterday that your nuclear program is -- quote -- "transparent, peaceful and under the watchful eyes of IAEA inspectors."

That -- that's not what IAEA inspectors have said. In a recent report, they have said that they, frankly, cannot verify the -- the peaceful nature of your program, and that it is not transparent.

Why not just open up the program and -- and fulfill all the requirements that the IAEA would like?

AHMADINEJAD (through translator): The IAEA has indicated that it has found no evidence that would show that Iran is developing nuclear energy for other purposes that are other than peaceful. But they have always said that. So, you have to show me where this report is.

And have they ever said Iran has in fact not abided by its commitments?

COOPER: You have repeatedly implied that the Holocaust never happened. And it certainly seems to be the -- and implied that more research needs to be done on whether or not it did happen.

I mean, the argument could be made that the genocide was perhaps the most well-documented genocide of the 20th century. Do you really believe that the Holocaust never happened?

AHMADINEJAD (through translator): I would like to raise a question. If this event happened, where did it happen? The where is the main question. And it was not in Palestine. Why is the Holocaust used as a pretext to occupy the Palestinian lands?

That subject, how is it connected to the occupying regime in Jerusalem?

COOPER: You do realize, though, why it would be deeply offensive to so many people that you use -- that you even say "if it ever happened"?

AHMADINEJAD (through translator): Well, you don't speak here for all Americans. In the past two or three days, I have met with many members of the media and the press here, some who are even related to the U.S. government. But the questions are the same across the board.

COOPER: President Bush, at the U.N. spoke -- tried to speak directly to the Iranian people yesterday. And he said...

AHMADINEJAD (through translator): Did you get the answer you wanted about the Holocaust?


COOPER: No, I didn't, but I know my time is limited.

I -- it is a fascinating subject. I mean, I think what people in America are...

AHMADINEJAD (through translator): Are you asking the questions that are on your mind or questions that are given to you by others?

COOPER: Actually, in America, we have a free press, unlike in -- in -- in parts of Iran.

But I'm asking the questions that I'm interested in.

President Bush said at the U.N. that the rulers of Iran -- quote -- "have chosen to deny you liberty," speaking to the Iranian people," and to use your nation's resources to fund terrorism."

What did you think of that?

AHMADINEJAD (through translator): No, no.

He can speak with our people every day. And our people will listen to what he says, and, then, they decide for themselves. That is why one of the nations that opposes Mr. Bush's views in the strongest way is our nation, because they hear what he says, and then they decide for themselves.

It seems to me that Mr. Bush fails to understand the reality of the world today, the conditions that we set the world today. This is not the kind of language you speak, talking with a great nation. It's an insult to a great nation.

COOPER: What is your message to the American people? What do you want them to know about Iran, about you?

AHMADINEJAD (through translator): Our message is a message of peace and brotherhood with all nations, with all people. And we like all nations and people. We are against oppression and injustice. And we -- we love the American people, as we love our own. We respect everyone.


COOPER: Everyone. Hmm.

That was President Ahmadinejad last night.

The question is, how does what he said stack up to reality? Coming up on 360: a fact check on Iran's nuclear program, and more.

Also: one of the deadliest places on Earth, thousand of civilians murdered, dozen of bodies turning up every day, tortured, mutilated. Can the death squad in Iraq, which seem to be operating, well, all the time now, can they be stopped? We will look at that. And the Vatican on high alert -- Muslims now planning a day of hate to protest the pope's remarks on Islam.

And the man who shot Pope John Paul II sends a warning to the new pope -- all that and more when 360 continues from New York.



AHMADINEJAD (through translator): They indicated that we do not find any indication that Iran has deviated from a peaceful development of nuclear energy. They said that they did not find any evidence or signs, although they must continue inspections. And they are welcome to continue inspections at all times.


COOPER: Well, that was Iran's president in my interview with him last night, giving his version of what the IAEA has said about Iran's nuclear program.

As we said to him last night, and as you're about to see, it doesn't quite match up with the facts.

Here is CNN's Tom Foreman.


TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Like a politician on the campaign trail, the Iranian president presents himself as a good-humored, tolerant, educated man.

"We must strive to achieve a world filled with peace, freedom and justice," he says.

But, when he complains about America, foreign affairs analysts say many of his facts become at least questionable and may be deceptive.

On nuclear weapons, the Iranian president deplores what he calls unbridled expansion and testing of more powerful warheads, apparently implicating the United States.


FOREMAN: Unmentioned: The U.S. says it last tested a nuclear weapon 14 years ago this week, and has reduced its nuclear stockpile by more than two-thirds since the '60s.

He says Iranians are not building nuclear weapons. And how could they, with the International Atomic Energy Agency watching every move? Unsaid: Iran started its nuclear program in secret.

KEN POLLACK, DIRECTOR OF RESEARCH, SABAN CENTER FOR MIDDLE EAST POLICY: And when the IAEA first went in there, the Iranians flat-out lied about what they were doing. And it only took a lot of detective work, a lot of very good research by the IAEA, to uncover the truth, and to force the Iranians to admit to what has actually been happening.

FOREMAN: Ahmadinejad rails at America and its allies for influencing the politics of smaller nations. But his government, now the big power in the Middle East, does the same.

POLLACK: You have seen the Iranians support various opposition groups, support various terrorist groups, support various resistance and -- and political opposition figures, something which, if the United States or Great Britain did in Iran, Ahmadinejad would be up in arms about.

FOREMAN: He questions if the Holocaust happened, though history says it did. He says hundreds of innocent Iraqis are killed every day, though death tolls suggests much lower numbers. And American officials say Iran itself is behind some of the groups doing the killing.

He says he loves all people of all faiths, but condemns the people of Israel, and dismisses all arguments on their behalf.

"Zionists are Zionists, period," he says. "They are not Jews. They are not Christians, and they are not Muslims. They are a power group."

(on camera): Politicians stretch the truth. It comes with the job. But, for official Washington, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad comes with a question: Does he believe what he says?

(voice-over): How much is a sales job? How much is a snow job? And does he know the difference?

Tom Foreman, CNN, Washington.


COOPER: Well, one thing Iran's president certainly knows is his power base -- coming up, how hatred of the U.S. factors into foreign policy and how all the Bush bashing by foreign -- foreign presidents may actually help the president, President Bush, in the polls.

And Pakistan now, a key ally in the war on terror, but are they doing enough? President Bush said, if we find Osama bin Laden, the U.S. will take matters into their own hands. Now Pakistan is saying, not so fast -- more on the showdown coming up.


COOPER: Hugo Chavez and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, presidents with growing clout, but could all their Bush bashing backfire?

Next on 360.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) COOPER: Well, safe to say President Bush didn't expect the presidents of Iran and Venezuela to sing his praises at the U.N. this week, but what he got instead was, well, guests from hell.

Hugo Chavez called him the devil and a menace. He also compared him to John Wayne, and not in a good way.

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad blasted both the U.S. and the U.N., though in tamer language, perhaps.

Both men, of course, are playing to anti-American sentiment back home. The question is, what does all this mean for President Bush?

Earlier, I spoke with former presidential adviser David Gergen.


COOPER: So, David, it has been quite a week for President Bush.

Let's start with -- with the Iranian president and -- and Hugo Chavez. You know, on the one hand, it -- it -- it seems bad for President Bush. But it -- but it may have the exact opposite effect. I mean, people kind of don't like these guys coming to this country and -- and mocking the president.

DAVID GERGEN, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL ADVISER: Absolutely. They were rude. They -- you know, they were crude. They reminded a lot of us who are older about Khrushchev coming in 1959, and banging his shoe on the -- on the podium. And we all thought, this is a buffoon.

And I think Chavez start -- is starting to go down in people's mind as a -- as a Khrushchev clone.

COOPER: And Ahmadinejad, I mean, talking about, you know, Holocaust denial, wanting to wipe out Israel, that doesn't play well here. And -- and, for all his talk about respecting other nations, I mean, when you check the facts, it doesn't add up.

GERGEN: Well, that's exactly right. And it does give affirmation to what the president has been arguing. And that is that this is an irresponsible regime, a little wacky, and dangerous.

You know, so, the president, who went to the U.N. with a -- not a very good speech, a pretty ineffectual speech -- didn't please anybody here at home, didn't play well overseas, imminently -- eminently forgettable -- yet, he -- his week -- his -- you know, his -- his visit to U.N. was salvaged by the fact that these two international leaders came in and made a -- and I think really caused a lot of Americans, even Democrats, who bristled when their -- when their president was treated rudely here in our own country, especially through the U.N.

COOPER: Yes. You have Charles Rangel, Nancy Pelosi defending the president.

GERGEN: Yes, exactly. COOPER: Forty-four percent, that's -- that's where approval rating is in this -- I guess it was an "L.A. Times..."

GERGEN: Right.

COOPER: "L.A. Times"/Bloomberg poll.

GERGEN: Right.

There are a couple polls out now, Gallup, "L.A. Times"/Bloomberg at 44. "The New York Times" had a poll today had him a little lower, but still in the high 30s, said he -- he was not making progress. They were at 37.

But, even so, I think if you look at the totality of what we know this -- today, the president and his team are in better shape. They started out far behind, but they have made progress. After Labor Day, a lot of voters started to come home. Party members started to come back to their base. The president is bringing them back. A lot of people feel a little better about the economy, gas prices down some.

And the president has managed to shift the focus away from Iraq solely, into a broader discussion of terrorism, all of that. He has had his best three or four weeks since Katrina.

COOPER: And that -- oh, really? You think since Katrina?

GERGEN: Since Katrina.

COOPER: Does it trickle down to the candidates running in these midterm elections?

GERGEN: Yes, it's a -- any time the Republicans start coming home, and they also -- they get charged up. They -- their intensity was all on the Democratic side through the summer.

Now you see intensity increasing among Republicans. You do sense that the Republicans are still behind, but they now have a real shot at keeping the House, if they can keep this momentum going, and making the Senate very competitive. So, yes, they have made -- they have made progress.

We have a long way to go, Anderson. But Labor Day, typically, is the opening gong in a -- in a midterm election. And that's when people start getting serious. And when you're -- and what the president has been doing, he has been following a polarizing strategy ever since he was in trouble. And he has not been trying to reach out to Democrats. He has been trying to bring his base back.

And -- and that's what he essentially has done. Most of the people coming back to him now, with this increase in -- in voter approval, a lot of Republicans are coming home.

COOPER: And, yet, you know, there is "New York Times"/CBS News poll. A majority of Americans have a negative view of the Republican control of Congress. GERGEN: Right.

COOPER: Sixty-one percent disapprove of it. Does that result in a -- sort of throw the bums out?

GERGEN: Well, it does -- certainly, there is an anti-incumbent feeling.

But it -- it -- and the irony right now is that it -- that a lot of people think Congress is doing a terrible job. But, as they often do, their congressman is doing a pretty good job. You know, they're not as angry at their own congressman or congresswoman.

So -- and they're -- and the number of competitive seats, because of redistricting, of course, is way down. The Republicans have a financial advantage. They have a big advantage in the -- in their turnout operation.

So, all of that says the Republicans still face an uphill fight. The Democrats are still favored going into this. An awful lot of people in this country are very angry at this president. They're extremely angry. And they want to show it at the polls this fall.

But the Republicans are putting themselves into a more competitive position than they have been.

COOPER: And raising a lot of money doing it.


GERGEN: And raising a lot of money doing it.

COOPER: Yes. David, thanks -- David Gergen.

GERGEN: Thank you, Anderson.


COOPER: Another thorn in President Bush's side: Iraq. Civilian deaths have hit a record. As the lawlessness continues, what can U.S. troops do? We will go live to Baghdad and talk to CNN's Michael Ware.

And anger still raging around the world of Pope Benedict XVI, following his comments about Islam. Now Muslims are calling for a day of hate. And the man who killed Pope -- who shot, tried to kill Pope John Paul II has issued a warning to this pope -- when 360 continues.


COOPER: There were more lives lost in Iraq today. Seven people were killed. Police found 38 other bodies in and around Baghdad. The United Nations says in July and August, the number of civilians killed in Iraq reached a record high, nearly 6,600 people just in two months. Those past -- these past few weeks have been even bloodier than usual in Baghdad, despite a U.S. -led crackdown.

CNN's Michael Ware joins us now from the capital.

Michael, who is primarily responsible for these huge numbers of civilian deaths?

MICHAEL WARE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, these are the death squads on both sides of the sectarian divide, Anderson.

On one hand, you have al Qaeda-inspired or al Qaeda-led death teams. If you think back, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, founder of al Qaeda in Iraq, started this. This is his grand vision that he spelled out two years ago. Let's promote sectarian war.

He started doing that by the car bombings and targetings of innocent Shia civilians, hoping to provoke the Shia. He even set up the Omar brigades, which was the first organized death squads in Iraq.

We then saw the Shia responding in kind, and once they took government, their death squads put on police and army uniforms. So these are also the responsible for these massive numbers. These are an American-backed government's death squads that are out there roaming at night in government uniforms, Anderson.

COOPER: And how are -- how are people targeted? Who gets -- who gets kidnapped? Who gets killed and tortured? I mean, the accounts I've read, you know, 20 people being taken off a bus and, you know, being tortured to death. Is there a rhyme or reason to who gets taken?

WARE: No. I mean, there's a certain randomness and there's a certain targeting. I mean, what you'll see is on both sides, that can literally just pull over a bus to the side of the road, go through identification and sort out who's Sunni and who's Shia. It all depends on who stopped the bus, which side lives and which side dies.

There's also targeted snatchings, as well. This is where both sides develop their own intelligence. They do surveillance on an individual whom they have information on. Either he's a Sunni or he's a Shia. He's involved in the government. He's involved in something else. They watch them, they hunt them and move in and strike.

Most disturbing, is when these are the government death squads. A Sunni can be at home in his house at night, and at 2 in the morning, police vehicles show up. Men in uniforms get out, show identification, taking him away, promising that he'll be returned. The family next sees him show up dead and tortured, Anderson.

COOPER: So if the government's involved, then how are U.S. forces dealing with this? How do they try to stop the death squads?

WARE: Well, the U.S. forces are doing a number of things. One is the Special Forces with Iraqi Special Forces are out there particularly hunting death squads. But these guys are limited to what intelligence and what information they have to guide them.

The other thing that U.S. forces are doing is a massive battle for Baghdad, a huge military operation that's been rolling through the city since June. That's about securing the areas where the death squads have been operating.

The problem is, the death tolls drop in those areas when U.S. troops are there. The death squads simply move around them and hunt in other areas, waiting for the American troops to leave again.

The other problem being that all of this is done in partnership with the Iraqi security forces. And ultimately, when American troops leave an area, they hand it over to the Iraqi security forces. Well, the Iraqi security forces house many of the death squads. That's the great irony, Anderson.

COOPER: Michael, when you get pulled over at a roadblock or stopped at a checkpoint and it's Iraqi security guys, how do you know whether or not you can trust them?

WARE: You don't. That's the thing. In the past it used to be that there would be random checkpoints thrown up or ad hoc checkpoints thrown up by insurgents or kidnap teams.

They'd drive around a corner and there's be a checkpoint, and you'd really know that you're in trouble. Now that takes place no matter who is manning the checkpoint. You don't know if it's legitimate or not. You don't know if it's insurgents or death squads in uniform or not. You don't even know if it's a real checkpoint, but they're still going to make trouble for you.

There is very, very limited degrees of either U.S. control or central government control over its own paramilitaries and military forces. So some days you're taking your life in your hands just going to an army checkpoint -- Anderson.

COOPER: In Baghdad, Michael Ware. Stay safe. Thank you, Michael.

Moving on to another hot spot now, Pakistan, where the president of that country, President Bush differ on just who should hunt down Osama bin Laden. Question is really, is anyone really hunting down Osama bin Laden? We'll have the latest on that.

And the worst wildfire season on record, almost nine million acres up in flame nationwide. One of the biggest fires burning is in Southern California. We'll bring you to the front lines when 360 continues.


COOPER: Pictures of Osama bin Laden, who's suspected to be hiding along the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan, most likely, experts say, inside Pakistan.

Tomorrow a critical meeting is scheduled to take place in the Oval Office between the president of Pakistan and President Bush. Their relationship has never been entirely comfortable, because many believe that Pervez Musharraf isn't doing enough to hunt down terrorists. And now their public differences over what the U.S. says it would do and what Pakistan says it would do to catch or kill the biggest terrorist of all.

Here's CNN's White House correspondent, Suzanne Malveaux.


SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The firestorm erupted over President Bush's warning on CNN that if Osama bin Laden was spotted in Pakistan the U.S. would move in to get him, with or without that government's prior approval.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Even though the Pakistanis say that's their sovereign territory?

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We would -- we would take the action necessary to bring him to justice.

MALVEAUX: That scenario provoked a stern response from Musharraf.

PERVEZ MUSHARRAF, PRESIDENT OF PAKISTAN: We wouldn't like to allow that at all. We will do it ourselves. We would like to do it ourselves.

MALVEAUX: The last time the U.S. struck suspected al Qaeda figures in Pakistan, tens of thousands of Pakistanis took to the streets. Some members of the government complained they were not consulted.

Since then, the stakes have increased for both leaders. Mr. Bush is struggling to get allies to support his war on terror overseas while convincing voters at home his party can do the best job protecting Americans from terrorist attacks.

BUSH: Our most important job in Washington is to protect you.

MALVEAUX: President Musharraf faces pressure from hard line Muslims in his own country to back off going after bin Laden, who's believed to be hiding along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border.

SETH JONES, TERRORISM EXPERT: Musharraf in this case would have to cut against important segments of his own population. It would be a deeply unpopular effort for him to cooperate.

MALVEAUX: Cooperating may actually cost Musharraf his life. He's already survived at least two assassination attempts since seizing power seven years ago in a bloodless coup.

The recent resurgence of the Taliban in Afghanistan makes the Bush/Musharraf relationship even more complicated. President Bush points to Afghanistan as an example of how his administration is successfully beating the terrorists, allowing democracy to flourish.

BUSH: Five years ago Afghanistan was ruled by brutal Taliban regime, now this seat is held by freely elected government of Afghanistan. MALVEAUX: But Afghanistan's leader, Hamid Karzai, accuses Musharraf of undermining that democracy by providing a safe haven for the very terrorists attacking his country.

JONES: What the United States needs to tell President Musharraf is that a direct assistance, Pakistan assistance, to the Taliban must end.

MALVEAUX: Musharraf says he needs more help from the United States and his neighbor.

MUSHARRAF: Already doing a lot in Pakistan. They need to be doing more in Afghanistan

MALVEAUX (on camera): Musharraf will get to make that point not only when he meets with Mr. Bush tomorrow but also when Hamid Karzai joins them for a three-way summit at the White House on Wednesday.

Suzanne Malveaux, CNN, Washington.


COOPER: I want to talk about this controversy with a panel of experts to analyze this war of words between the U.S. and Pakistan and it all what means for the war on terror.

In Budapest, Hungary, CNN senior international correspondent, Nic Robertson joins us. Peter Bergen, terrorism analysis, joins us from Washington. And from San Francisco, Sarah Chayes, who's the author of "The Punishment of Virtue: Inside Afghanistan After the Taliban". She has lived inside Afghanistan for several years now.

Appreciate all of you being with us.

Nic, first of all, you traveled a lot in Pakistan in those border regions. How much free rein does the Taliban have in those regions?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, in some parts, it does seem to have quite a lot of free rein, according to American intelligence officials and the British government. Taliban leadership is able to live in Quetta, close to the border. The Taliban in North Waziristan, able to live in North Waziristan.

The government of Pakistan said they've done a deal with them and the tribes in that area, that according to U.S. troops just across the border, the Taliban are able to get across the border, it seems, while the Pakistani government is taking care of problems on their side of the border, that the Taliban are able to use Pakistan as a base, get across the border and attack NATO and U.S. troops there, Anderson.

COOPER: Sarah, you have seen this first-hand, the violence increasing in Afghanistan. Do you think Pakistan is doing enough?

SARAH CHAYES, AUTHOR, "THE PUNISHMENT OF VIRTUE": I would even put the question differently. It's not is Pakistan doing enough to stop the Taliban crossing the border and making trouble in Afghanistan. It's would they please stop promoting this so-called insurgency inside Afghanistan.

COOPER: So you're saying they're not just sort of turning a blind eye; they are actively helping. Why do you think they're doing that?

CHAYES: I think that they have been manipulating -- manipulating religious extremism for regional purposes for the last 30 years. And I don't think they really changed a lot after 9/11 except cosmetically.

So what I think is happening is they're -- they're looking for an unstable, ideally to control Afghanistan and short of that, to create an Afghanistan that nobody else can control.

COOPER: Peter Bergen, they have gone after some high level al Qaeda folks, clearly, though, they've left the Taliban virtually untouched.

PETER BERGEN, CNN TERRORISM ANALYST: At least a dozen al Qaeda leaders of one variety or another have been arrested or killed in Afghanistan since 9/11 but, you know, according to the intelligence sources that we spoke to in Afghanistan when we were there, Anderson, I mean, Mullah Omar is living in Quetta, which sort of speaks for itself. The leader of the Taliban living in a major Pakistani city, or at least in its neighborhood.

But we've got -- on the question of what might we do in terms of going after bin Laden in Pakistan? We violated Pakistani sovereignty in the past already in the quest to get Osama bin Laden. Remember, that President Clinton sent Cruise missiles into Afghanistan after the embassy attacks in Africa in '98. And we basically informed the Pakistanis those Cruise missiles were in the air just as the attack went down.

So you know, this is not a new policy. It was something that President Clinton was prepared to do. We've also done it with Ayman al-Zawahiri, the No. 2 leader of al Qaeda, a missile attack which was supposed to hit him in January of this year.

I don't think this is of particularly news that the United States is prepared to violate Pakistani sovereignty if a senior -- very serious member of al Qaeda is sort of in the trigger sights.

COOPER: Nic, I mean, the thing that surprised me in our trip to Afghanistan is I guess I sort of have the impression that the hunt for Osama bin Laden was sort of priority No. 1 and that, you know, was on everyone's agenda every single day.

Certainly didn't seem like that among U.S. troops in the eastern part of Afghanistan, and it certainly didn't seem like there were many Pakistani troops actively hunting for Osama bin Laden.

ROBERTSON: There aren't, and that's the bottom line. The hunt has gone -- really gone cold and dried up, because there's no information, no hard information. It seems about where Osama bin Laden is. If anyone gets any information, be it U.S. troops on the Afghan side, Pakistani soldiers on their side of the border, they say they will follow the leaders and they will hunt them down.

But nobody is out there every day, and the bottom line is Pakistanis -- Pakistanis are not very sympathetic towards the war on terrorism. A lot of them, if they know where Osama bin Laden is, they're very unlikely to tell the government, even if they were told pass that information along. Or B, on the Afghan side of border tell the U.S. troops there. The trail is essentially cold, Anderson.

COOPER: Sarah, you lived in Kandahar, lived there for years. NATO general said today that drug trafficking and corruption is, in some ways, a bigger problem even than the Taliban. How bad is it there?

CHAYES: I'd actually like to go back a second and pose something a little bit different. I think the whole question about Osama bin Laden being in Pakistan may well be an artificial question.

COOPER: Why? What do you mean?

CHAYES: I'm not entirely sure he's there, No. 1. And as we just heard a second ago, Pakistan is actually quite good with turning over al Qaeda operatives. It's the Taliban that the Pakistani government is interested in protecting.

So I personally believe that they would probably turn over Osama bin Laden if he was there. It's the Taliban that are furthering Pakistan's regional agenda.

And indeed, as you -- as you imply, the opium problem is massive. And it's not only the issue of it's being a major part of the local economy, but it's also that it's starting to be that public officials are making appointments, for example, in such a way as to protect opium -- the opium traffic. In other words, it's infecting the political landscape.

COOPER: And of course, the Taliban gets a cut of that, and that is huge money that we're talking about.

Sarah Chayes, appreciate your perspective. Peter Bergen, Nic Robertson, as well. Thank you all.

We have some unprecedented footage to show you tonight of what it's like to be a soldier in Afghanistan, fighting the Taliban. A report from the front lines ahead.

And death threats against Pope Benedict XVI following his comments about Islam. Vatican is taking the threats very seriously. The guy who shot the last pope has issued a warning to this pope. 360 next.


COOPER: More than a week after Pope Benedict XVI angered Muslims around the world with his remarks about Islam, the anger seems to be growing. Some Islamic groups are calling for a day of hate -- that's what they're calling it -- tomorrow. And as if that wasn't enough, there's more for the Vatican to worry about.

CNN's Delia Gallagher is in Rome.


DELIA GALLAGHER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The normally peaceful Vatican is in on high alert as some Islamic groups are calling for a day of hate Friday around the world.

That follows Pope Benedict XVI a week ago quoting a medieval emperor who called Islam violent and inhuman. Now, adding to that tension, a letter sent by Mehmet Ali Agca, who shot the previous pope, John Paul II, in 1981 to the Italian newspaper, "La Repubblica".

He wrote, "Pope Ratzinger listen to someone who knows these things very well. Your life is in danger. You absolutely must not come to Turkey."

Ali Agca claims he's been in contact with both Vatican and western intelligence services, though he offered no evidence. Then he goes on to ask the pope to step down, writing, "For your own welfare, you must make a grand gesture of honor and resign. Then you must return to your native land, and in your place an Italian cardinal can be elected pope."

Ali Agca was freed from an Italian prison in 2000 and is now serving time in a prison in Istanbul.

Around the world, some Muslim leaders have accepted the pope's apology. But others remain angry. In Pakistan, this cleric and about 1,000 others demanded his removal.

One of Italy's top Islamic spokesmen is calling for calm.

ADBALLAH REDOUANE, ITALIAN ISLAMIC CULTURAL CENTER (through translator): Let's hope that with dialogue we can manage to overcome this difficult moment to calm down the spirits and quench down the tension.

GALLAGHER: Not surprisingly, the faithful visiting St. Peter's Square are supporting their spiritual leader.

JOE MARZANO, VISITING FROM ARIZONA: He apologized for what he said, but mostly sounds like it was misinterpreted, because the pope don't have a bad bone in his body. You know what I mean? He's so pure and beautiful. So nothing was meant. It's like anything in the world. People misinterpret and translate things the way they want.

GALLAGHER: One Vatican expert agrees.

JOHN ALLEN, CNN VATICAN ANALYST: I really believe he thought that that academic audience would take it in that spirit, and to be honest, they did. I mean, the people who attended that lecture, you know, didn't think -- didn't walk out thinking we have just seen an historic, you know, poke in the eye at Islam from the pope.

It took, you know, 24 hours for that one phrase lifted out of context to make its way around the world.

GALLAGHER: The Vatican says the pope's long-scheduled trip to Turkey to promote dialogue with Muslims is still on track for now.

Delia Gallagher, CNN, Rome.


COOPER: Still ahead, Hugo Chavez and today's insult to President Bush, but first Erica Hill from Headline News with a 360 bulletin -- Erica.

ERICA HILL, HEADLINE NEWS ANCHOR: Anderson, after three days of intense negotiations, an agreement has been reached by Senate Republicans and the White House on procedures for interrogating terror suspects and trying them in front of military tribunals.

More details are expected tomorrow. But at a news conference today, Senator John McCain, who objected to the original recession said the spirits of the Geneva Conventions have been preserved. The international court set standards for the treatment of prisoners at war.

An open bag of spinach left in the refrigerator of someone sickened by E. coli has basically become the smoking gun in the investigation. Health officials say they've now zeroed in on nine California farms and three different counties in their search for the source of that bacteria.

At the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, smooth touchdown this morning for the Space Shuttle Atlantis after a successful mission to the International Space Station. The landing was pushed back a day because they feared Atlantis may have been damaged by debris seen floating outside the shuttle, but an inspection revealed all was well.

And at Six Flags Great America outside of Chicago, if you want unlimited cut in line privileges for the rides, it can be yours. All you have to do is eat a live Madagascar hissing cockroach. The dare here is part of the park's Halloween Fright Fest next month.

And Anderson, I don't know about you, but I will not be dining there.

COOPER: Yes. Maybe not. Not such a good idea. Still to come, Venezuela's president, a guest of this country, slamming President Bush. Did it again today, trying to woo Americans. How does he do it? And how does it play here at home? We'll take a look at that next.

The president of Iran, what he is saying today, and more from my exclusive interview last night.

And this year's fire season, shattering records. See how they are coping. Meet the heroes battling millions of acres of smoke and fire. Next on 360.


COOPER: Think you heard the last of the America bashing when Hugo Chavez left the podium at the United Nations? Well, think again.


ANNOUNCER: First, he called President Bush the devil. Today, more insults from Hugo Chavez. Who is this man and why is he such a loose cannon?

Ambushed by the Taliban. Soldiers as sitting ducks.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No British base has come under attack more often than this one, and it's just been attacked again.

ANNOUNCER: And he promised to help save his desperately ill son. Then he skipped town.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you think you could ever forgive him?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Forgive him? Probably not.

ANNOUNCER: Now, the son wants his father back in prison.

Across the country and around the world this is ANDERSON COOPER 360. Reporting from the CNN studios in New York, here's Anderson Cooper.


COOPER: Thanks for joining us.