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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees

Controversy Over Saddam Execution Video Escalates; Interview With Iraqi National Security Adviser Mowaffak Al-Rubaie

Aired January 03, 2007 - 22:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, everyone.
The fight over the hanging, the cell phone video of a dictator's death -- tonight, new details of the story behind it and the growing repercussions of it.


ANNOUNCER: Who shot the hanging? Who captured the taunting?

MOWAFFAK AL-RUBAIE, IRAQI NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: We will leave no stone unturned to get to the bottom of this.

ANNOUNCER: New fuel on the sectarian fire, a new mess for American forces.

Congressional crooks, they're doing time on your dime and collecting fat pensions, your dollars. Make sense?




ANNOUNCER: Exactly. We're "Keeping Them Honest."

Dire prediction.

PAT ROBERTSON, HOST, "THE 700 CLUB": It will be a mass killing, possibly millions of people.

ANNOUNCER: And how does Pat Robertson know? From God's mouth to his ear.

And from the sacred to the profane -- Donald Trump, he doesn't need God's permission to run his mouth. Wait until you hear what he's saying now.


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

Reporting tonight from the CNN studios in New York, here's Anderson Cooper. COOPER: I want to thank our viewers here in America and watching around the world right now on CNN International.

Wherever you are, chances are, you're not sorry to be living in a world without Saddam Hussein. He was a butcher, a murderer, something millions of Iraqis know firsthand. But knowing he's gone and the implications of how it happened are two different things.

So, all the angles tonight on the cell phone video -- new concerns it will ignite more chaos, new allegations about who took it. We will hear from Iraq's national security. First, he said it all went by the book. Now he's saying something else entirely.

Also, the damage done to American interests in Iraq, as President Bush weighs sending more troops into battle.

First, CNN's Ryan Chilcote on the Iraqi investigation, the backpedaling, and the pure political spin.


RYAN CHILCOTE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Iraq's government says it has detained the guard who captured these images of Saddam's last moments and these sounds of Shiites taunting Saddam.

But a prosecutor who was in the execution chamber has pointed the finger at two government officials, saying: "I saw with my own eyes two officials filming the execution. Maybe a guard also filmed it secretly, but I didn't see that."

Iraq's national security adviser was in the room. He denies allegations that he or any other government official shot the video. And he denies the way Saddam, a Sunni, was treated by the Shiites was unfair.

MOWAFFAK AL-RUBAIE, IRAQI NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: To be quite honest with you, under normal circumstances, in any execution case, you will -- you call for the family of the victims to come and witness the -- the execution. And they can yell and shout and curse and all sorts of things.

CHILCOTE: The U.S. government had urged the Iraqis not to execute Saddam doing so quickly, fearing doing so as Iraq's Sunni Arabs prepared to celebrate the most important religious holiday of the year would inflame sectarian conflict.

TONY SNOW, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The embassy expressed some concerns. The Iraqis listened to those concerns. They have carried it forward.

CHILCOTE: The U.S. military spokesman says the U.S. would have handled it differently, but, once they handed Saddam over to the Iraqis, they lost control.

MAJOR GENERAL WILLIAM CALDWELL, U.S. ARMY SPOKESMAN, COALITION FORCES IN IRAQ: And we had absolutely nothing to do with any of the procedures or any of the control mechanisms or anything from that point forward.

CHILCOTE: Whatever comes out of the Iraqi government investigation may not matter much to Sunnis, outraged by the Shiite slogans. There is no word the government plans on investigating that, or punishing anyone for it.

Even before the cell phone video emerged, many Sunnis distrusted their Shiite-dominated government. Now, many have taken to the streets, blaming the Iraqi government, the U.S. and Britain.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): We are denouncing this criminal act of this junior Bush and criminal Blair.

CHILCOTE: Here, angry Sunnis march right through one of Iraq's most prominent Shiite mosques in Samarra, vowing revenge. That's the same mosque that Sunni extremists bombed last February, sparking the sectarian killing that has brought Iraq to the point of civil war.


COOPER: Ryan, clearly, someone is not telling the truth here. Were -- were all the officials screened for their cell phones getting into the -- into the execution chamber?

CHILCOTE: Anderson, everyone we spoke with that was in the execution chamber says that they were screened. Some of them say that they were screened twice.

However, the government is saying that this guard that they have detained was actually already on site. He was already at the facility where Saddam was executed. And they're suggesting that he was somehow able to sneak into that facility, sneak into the execution chamber itself, with that cell phone and take that video, going undetected. I think it's fair to say, though, that that is something many Sunnis aren't going to buy.

COOPER: Ryan, thanks.

In a moment, you are going to hear from a correspondent who says his U.S. sources are calling this whole affair the biggest blow to American interests in Iraq since Abu Ghraib.

At the very least, it seems to be stirring fresh doubts about the Iraqi leadership, including Iraq's prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki.

With that angle tonight, CNN's Tom Foreman.


TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The man who oversaw the execution of Saddam Hussein spent two decades on the run from the Iraqi dictator's all-powerful government. So, it is no surprise Nouri al-Maliki avoided any delay in Hussein's execution that might spur an 11th-hour rescue. He has long seen danger from Hussein loyalists.

NOURI AL-MALIKI, IRAQI PRIME MINISTER (through translator): The remnants of the previous regime and, therefore, interference, are threats. And all these, we put them in a category of national threats on Iraq. And we deal with it, all of it, because all of it is bad.

FOREMAN: Maliki was born in 1950, and, as a younger man, joined other Shia in fighting Hussein's Sunni-dominated government. Faced with government crackdowns in the 1980s, he fled into exile, winding up in Syria. When Hussein fell, Maliki returned to help draw the blueprint for the new Iraq.

He became prime minister last spring. And although he talks about reconciliation between Sunnis, Shia, and Kurds, not everyone buys it.

FRANK GAFFNEY, FOUNDER & PRESIDENT, CENTER FOR SECURITY POLICY: Obviously, the community of people who don't like the Shiite-dominated Maliki government will find in any episode, including this one, new reasons to argue that it is illegitimate or incompetent or engaged in misconduct.

FOREMAN: Other complications, Maliki has been unable or unwilling to distance himself from Muqtada al-Sadr, the leader of a powerful Shia militia which is accused of much violence, especially against Sunnis. And then there is Maliki's relationship with President Bush.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: He's a strong leader, who wants a free and democratic Iraq to succeed.

FOREMAN (on camera): Without American support, Maliki could find himself in a civil car. But, with it, he must fight to show his independence. Analysts say, it may all add up to an impossible task.

MICHAEL O'HANLON, SENIOR FELLOW IN FOREIGN POLICY STUDIES, BROOKINGS INSTITUTION: But, frankly, I would also want to say, I'm not sure it's fair of an American critic sitting in Washington to expect that Iraqis could do what the United States failed to do for three years, which is to stabilize the country.

FOREMAN: It's a tough job. No wonder Maliki recently told "The Wall Street Journal," "I wish I could be done with it, even before the end of this term."

Tom Foreman, CNN, Washington.


COOPER: Well, now the prime minister's national security adviser -- I spoke with Mowaffak al-Rubaie shortly after the hanging. That's when he told me that everything was done by the book, with dignity and decorum for all. Of course, he was saying all that before the cell phone video was leaked.

We spoke earlier today and agreed not to disclose his location, for security reasons.


COOPER: Dr. al-Rubaie, I spoke to you about two hours after Saddam was executed. You were the first witness to speak publicly.

And you said -- and I quote -- 'There was absolutely no humiliation to Saddam Hussein when he was alive and after he was executed. There was all respect to him when he was alive and after the execution, when he was like a body."

We now know, because of this -- this cell phone camera, that does not seem to be true. Why -- why did you say that?

AL-RUBAIE: Where was the humiliation you're referring to? The shouting of the crowds, with the -- the shouting were -- basically, they were doing their congregational prayer and supplication.

And they mentioned -- at the end of the supplication, they mentioned the name of Muqtada. And he -- he replied to them, as this (INAUDIBLE) and the -- the -- I -- I can't see where is the humiliation, to be quite honest with you.

COOPER: Yelling to a man who has a noose around his neck, "Muqtada, Muqtada," and yelling, "straight to hell," in your opinion, that is not humiliation?

AL-RUBAIE: Well, "Muqtada, Muqtada" is not a dirty word, is not an obscene word, is not -- is not cursing. They're shouting they -- I know it is -- it's not legal. It's not right. And it's wrong. But this is -- this is their belief.

COOPER: You said that you were honestly proud of the way it was executed, that it was done in a proper way, in all international standards, Islamic standards, and Iraqi standards, and that you were proud of it.

Again, talking about the execution, are you still proud of the way it was done?

AL-RUBAIE: To the best of my knowledge and belief, and after I left the scene and came back, I was proud of what had happened, because we played by the book.

When the -- the video was released and -- or leaked -- I saw some untoward and wrongdoings. And this has to be addressed. And we need to do something about it.

COOPER: But you are proud of what you did witness? I mean, you -- I assume you heard the shouting. You heard -- you saw the dancing around his body, because I know you talked about that. Are you proud of that?

AL-RUBAIE: This is -- this a tradition of the Iraqis. When they do something, they -- they dance around the body, and they suppress their feeling.

Anderson, what is wrong with that? If that upset the feeling of some of the Arab nations and Arab rulers, I think that is tough luck to them.

COOPER: The -- the video that was released by the Iraqi government had no audio on it, and -- and was -- was limited, understandably, but it had no audio on it. Obviously, the cell phone has audio on it.

Was the video that was released by the Iraqi government intentionally misleading. Was -- was the audio taken off, so that people would not hear the shouting that went on, the -- the -- the insults back and forth?

AL-RUBAIE: It's all recorded. It's all in a safe place. But we wanted to show the outside world that the execution has happened, because this part of the world, the Middle East, is full of the conspiratorial theory. And the -- the mentality here tends to go to conspiracy theory, rather than reality. We have had nothing to hide.

COOPER: Doesn't it, though, fuel conspiracies that the video that the Iraqi government released, the Iraqi government released, has no audio on it, and then this -- this allegedly secret, or this cell phone video, pops up that has -- tells a very different story than the official video? Doesn't that just fuel conspiracies?

AL-RUBAIE: Well, we didn't -- we don't -- we don't need to release the whole video. And we will release it when we -- when we need to, probably to the investigators who are doing the job now of -- of investigating this particular event.

COOPER: Let's talk about how that cell phone camera got in there. What do you think happened at this point? I know an investigation is under way. How do you think that happened?

AL-RUBAIE: I believe it was infiltration by -- by one of these guards, or more than one of these guards, because I saw a couple of other people carrying cell phones in -- inside the chambers -- and must be either the executioners or the -- the -- the guards, which are protecting -- which were protecting the -- the place itself.

COOPER: You were quoted in the American media as saying it's possible that an Arab-language news network paid someone to take these pictures.

What -- what do you know? What do you think?

AL-RUBAIE: There were some rumors. There were some -- some witnesses saying, basically, that this Arab television station had paid several thousand dollars to -- to buy this tape, whether they were involved before the execution, and hired these people before then, and make them infiltrate the chamber, or they bought the -- the tape after they have -- after the execution.

We're -- we're -- we are investigating this. And we are following all lines of interrogation and inquiry.

COOPER: And -- and, finally, I just want to clarify something. And "The New York Times" had quoted an Iraqi official, who said that they thought you had a cell phone inside the execution chamber. That official now says he was misquoted by "The New York Times" and, in fact, did not see that.

Just for the record, did you have a cell phone inside that chamber?

AL-RUBAIE: I did not have any cell phone inside the chamber.

And "The New York Times" have apologized profusely to misquoting the judge. And they have also apologized to me. And they are going to print that tomorrow in their publication. And they have already taken out the -- the -- the quote from their Web site.

COOPER: There are some who will say, you know what? So what? So things didn't go well in the final moments. Saddam was a bad guy, a tyrant, a dictator, a murderer. Certainly, he had done much worse things.

Why does this matter? Why is there an investigation? Why do you think it matters, in terms of the -- the Arab world, in terms of in Iraq?

AL-RUBAIE: I believe the Western media has been played by the -- some of the Arab rulers, and that this incident has been blown out of proportion, to -- to be used against Iraq. And they capitalize this to make even further division between the Sunni and Shiite. And we should stop this immediately.

I believe we should concentrate on a new page. This is a closure. This is meant to be psychological healing and rehabilitation for our people, those -- for the victims, especially. And we -- we need to close this chapter and forget about it and forgive the -- the rest. And we need to go forward for -- to build and reconstruct our country together, the Shia and Sunni and Kurds.

COOPER: Dr. Al-Rubaie, appreciate talking to you. Thank you very much.

AL-RUBAIE: Thank you very much for having me, Anderson.


COOPER: Well, the sectarian divisions apparent in that cell phone video of Saddam's hanging play out in the streets of Iraq every single day.

Here's the "Raw Data."

Twenty-seven more bullet-riddled bodies, most of them showing signs of torture, were found across Baghdad today. A total of 1,226 bodies were found throughout the country in the month of December alone.

So, are Iraqi leaders lying? I put that question to John Burns of "The New York Times," who broke the story behind the hanging story -- his perspective on where things might go from here next.

Then, American lawmakers who break the law still living high on the hog, at your expense, drawing pensions that you pay for, is that right? Tonight, we're "Keeping Them Honest."

And Barbara Walters enters the fight between Donald Trump and Rosie O'Donnell. Now is it a three-way battle? -- when 360 continues.



BRIAN WILLIAMS, NBC ANCHOR: Tonight: Who took that cell phone video of Saddam's execution?



CHARLES GIBSON, ABC ANCHOR: The prime minister's office announced that one of Saddam Hussein's guards is suspected of making that macabre cell phone video of Hussein's hanging.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And the cell phone video showing him being taunted.


COOPER: Well, that was just a small sample of some of the reporting tonight on an event that the Iraqi government hoped would be played out by now.

Instead, the chaotic hanging of Saddam Hussein is turning into a big black eye. Iraq's national security adviser -- you just heard him on this program -- called it a media phenomena. Those on the street say otherwise.

I talked about the reality and perception earlier tonight with John Burns of "The New York Times."


COOPER: John, I just talked to Dr. Rubaie, the national security adviser, who said that the U.S. media is basically making more of this than they should, that they're playing to the hands of other Arab governments.

Why is what happened to Saddam in those final moments significant?

JOHN BURNS, BAGHDAD BUREAU CHIEF, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": Well, I think because it's so emblematic and is understood by anybody who is interested himself in this war of all the things that have gone wrong and are going wrong here, of the sectarianism, of the inability to rise above the thirst for revenge, to move forward into the future, and to turn your back on the past, all of that.

I don't think that Americans seeing those videos are likely to conclude that this is a government, present -- as presently constituted, that is worthy of being -- What does President Bush say? -- well, being defended by American troops to the point that it can sustain -- sustain, defend and govern itself.

The problem is that America does not have a fit partner here yet. And we're nearly four years into this. And I think that this whole event just demonstrated that in spades.

COOPER: Was -- was the Iraqi government intentionally trying to mislead people about what happened? I talked to Dr. Rubaie about two hours after the execution, as a witness.

He said he was proud of the way it went through, that there was no humiliation, no attempt to -- no disrespect to Saddam Hussein. It was all carried out by the letter of the law, Islamic, Iraqi law, international law. Even the video that they released obviously was heavily edited. There was no sound in it. Were they intentionally trying to mislead people?

BURNS: Do you know -- you're asking me to peer into the shadows here of the Iraqi mind. We are con -- confronted with this all the time. Did they believe that, in the face of a reality that was so obviously at odds with that, or did they make it up?

I'm afraid -- afraid to say that it's the first of those two things, that, somehow or other, they had perceived it like that, because they wanted to perceive it like that. We certainly saw a lot of that with Saddam Hussein.

I mean, Saddam Hussein really believed that he was the benefactor of his people, really believed that the people loved him. So, you know, one of the victims here in the last 30 years has been a -- a grasp of -- of reality.

That's what I would guess. Of course, they had their own expedient reasons in those first hours to present this thing as having been done in a dignified fashion. And now they're trying to reconstruct it in the face of that video, which, you know, is -- is -- it seems to me, is whistling against thunder.

We know what that video meant. We know what happened there with an absolute certainly. We're being told today, for example, by Maliki's office that he really wasn't that dignified, that he might have been on tranquilizers.

Well, he probably was. The American military who escorted him to the execution block from the detention camp by helicopter may well have given him some sort of medication. And why not?

But who can deny, looking at that, that there was this kind of astonishing reversal, that this mass murderer, at the end, stands there with some dignity, in the face of those taunts and this abuse, and that the people, the executioners and the overwhelmingly Shiite witness presence, representing the principal victim community, I mean, people who died in the hundreds of thousands, they come across as being the bullying thugs? It's astonishing.

COOPER: And does it have real repercussions on the ground in Iraq? I mean, we have seen Sunnis demonstrating in Jordan and elsewhere. There are those who say, well, look, well, Sunnis have plenty other reasons to be angry, and -- and this just adds to it. But -- but does it go beyond that?

BURNS: Well, yes, that's a reality.

I think that, you know, Sunni moderate politicians who have joined the government have had a hell of a hard sell trying to persuade the majority of the Sunni community that there's much for them in this present government. And they certainly had no success whatsoever in persuading the Sunni insurgents.

So, you can imagine how this is going to play there. This -- this was a gift of the most extraordinary nature to the Sunni insurgency. And I -- I think, in that sense, it's a big setback.

But I think, really, the way we have to see this, because these protests will probably die down -- the mosaics that they're building to Saddam, the 30-foot-high mosaics, the Baath Party emblems that are being repainted on the walls up in the Sunni heartland, that will probably pass.

But what will not pass is those images. And -- and perhaps what we have to see here is that we really have seen into the dark soul of -- of Iraq here. And I certainly have the impression, watching today General Caldwell, the command spokesman, talking to other senior American officials, that there has been nothing -- and I mean nothing -- certainly not since the Abu Ghraib scandal, that has been so dispiriting and disheartening to them as those events before dawn on Saturday morning.

COOPER: John Burns, thank you very much for your reporting.

BURNS: It's a pleasure. Thank you, Anderson.

COOPER: Well, a shocker out of Washington tonight: John Negroponte, the director of national intelligence, is stepping down to take a more junior post. He will become deputy secretary of state -- no word yet on why.

Negroponte has been running the intelligence community for less than two years. Retired Admiral Mike McConnell, who served as director of the National Security Agency from '92 to '96, is expected to be nominated to replace him.

On Capitol him tomorrow, new leadership, Democrats taking control of Congress -- and they're promising a lot of changes. Will they change, however, the rules that have your tax dollars going to the pensions of convicted congressmen? We're "Keeping Them Honest."

Plus, listen to this.


ROBERTSON: The evil people will come after this country. And there's a possibility that -- that -- I will tell you, not a possibility, a definite certainly, that chaos is going to rule.


COOPER: Well, coming up, the dire prediction for 2007 from evangelist Pat Robertson, what he says God told him -- when 360 continues.


COOPER: Well, the new Congress convenes tomorrow, with Democrats in control, who have pledged to pass a number of bills in the first 100 legislative hours.

They have also promised to change some ethic rules on Capitol Hill. One law that they're not tackling is pensions for convicted members of Congress. That's right, tax dollars used to pay for the retirement of felons.

CNN's Drew Griffin tonight is "Keeping Them Honest."


DREW GRIFFIN, CNN INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's an unwritten law that says crime doesn't pay. But don't tell that to these guys.

Every single one of these former members of Congress either pleaded guilty to or was convicted of at least one serious crime. Yet, every one of them is estimated to be receiving that dollar amount next to their picture every year, their congressional pension based on their years in office, you, the taxpayers, paying the pension of crooks.

(on camera): Even if they take you out of Washington in handcuffs and throw you in prison, Congress still gets its pension.

(voice-over): Case in point, Randall "Duke" Cunningham -- he pleaded guilty to using his congressional office to accept bribes, kickbacks, money from the contractors he was voting to give government business.

Cunningham right now is sitting in this federal prison in North Carolina, and getting his government pension, an estimated $64,000 a year, sent to a congressional felon sitting in the can.

JOHN BERTHOUD, NATIONAL TAXPAYERS UNION: Cunningham has to be the classic example. GRIFFIN: John Berthoud is president of the National Taxpayers Union. It's a watchdog lobbying group, mostly interested in cutting the size of government, cutting waste and cutting taxes.

Because federal pensions are secret, all of the figures you've seen in this report are estimates based on the Taxpayers Union's calculations. Berthoud can think of no better example of government waste than sending $64,000 a year to Duke Cunningham.

BERTHOUD: But all of us are still paying this guy $64,000 a year, roughly, while he sits in prison. You know, I think the vast majority of Americans think that that is really, really wrong.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Congressman, what are you going to tell the judge today?

GRIFFIN: And Cunningham is hardly alone.

JAMES TRAFICANT, FORMER CONGRESSMAN: I'm not going to admit to crimes I did not do.

GRIFFIN: James Traficant, the Ohio congressman convicted of bribery and sentenced to eight years, is collecting an estimated $40,000 a year sitting in this federal prison in Minnesota.

Traficant and Cunningham didn't respond to our letters, and former Minnesota congressman Dave Durenberger didn't want to talk to us either.

DAVE DURENBERGER, FORMER CONGRESSMAN: The Department of Justice has charged me...

GRIFFIN: He pleaded guilty to fraud in 1995, did a year's probation and paid a fine. Now we pay him an estimated pension of $86,000 a year.

(on camera) And who among the convicted felons of Congress is getting the most out of his retirement? That would be the guy who lives in this Chicago building and owns this car.

Take a look at the license plate. Retired member of Congress. That big "R" stands for the big guy, Chairman Daniel Rostenkowski, usually not shy about talking to the media, except when it comes to his estimated $126,000 a year taxpayer funded pension.

(voice-over) The former chairman of the powerful ways and means committee told us on the phone he has nothing to say. And in fact, Rostenkowski, who was sent to prison for mail fraud, may have good reason not to answer his door.

Just a month ago, the state of Illinois used its felony conviction clause to take away the pension of former governor George Ryan, who was convicted and sentenced to 6 1/2 years for mail fraud, money laundering and extortion. But that's state law.

Under federal law, the only grounds for stripping a congressman of his pension is if he's convicted of treason. The National Taxpayers Union for years has been calling for a tougher conviction clause.

A simple change says Taxpayers Union president Berthoud, if you are convicted of any felony while in office, you forfeit your right to get paid.

BERTHOUD: It's hard unless maybe, you're a member of Congress or a former member of Congress, for anybody to understand how on earth you could ask taxpayers to pay pensions for people like that.

GRIFFIN: Now two dozen watchdog groups have joined the campaign, sending this letter to the incoming Democrats who vowed to drain the swamp, asking them to at least drain the felons from the swamp.

Drew Griffin, CNN, Washington.


COOPER: Well, we'll be in Washington tomorrow for a special edition of 360. We're called "Keeping The Honest: The First 100 Hours" and look at some of the problems faced by Democrats as they take control of Congress and see how their decisions may impact your life. That's tomorrow, 10 p.m. issues from D.C.

Up next tonight, a dire warning about a possible terror attack against the United States. No, not from homeland security, but from this guy. Well, actually from God according to this guy, Pat Robertson.

Plus, he's back at it yet again.


DONALD TRUMP, REAL ESTATE MOGUL: I would like to lose 15 pounds, OK? We all have the problem. But Rosie is a slob.


COOPER: Yes, a new twist in the war of words between Donald Trump and Rosie O'Donnell. Now Barbara Walters is stepping in. We'll tell you what she said.

And a fast thinking construction worker becomes a hero when he saves a stranger from a New York subway. A great story, when 360 continues.



PAT ROBERTSON, HOST, "700 CLUB": I just do them -- you can try. You ready? Remember, Christy -- I hope I can get it up there. Man, that's tough.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That's it, that's it. That's it. OK, stop.

ROBERTSON: Five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten.



COOPER: He says he can leg press 2,000 pounds, and evangelist Pat Robertson also says he can predict the future.

Robertson says God told him that terrorists will attack the United States this year, possibly killing millions of people. He says the attack will happen in major cities, sometime after September. This isn't the first time the Christian broadcaster has made a dire prediction, but as Mary Snow will tell you now, luckily not all of them come true.


MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Television evangelist Pat Robertson says with confidence the message came to him straight from God: evil people will come after the U.S. in the second half of 2007.

ROBERTSON: I'm not saying necessarily nuclear. The Lord didn't say nuclear, but I do believe it will be something like that, that it will be a mass killing, possibly millions of people.

SNOW: It's not just the U.S. facing a dire future. Robertson said it is clear Israel will face another war sooner or later and emphatically said that Israel was a topic that's heavy on God's heart.

ROBERTSON: What he says is the United States pretends to be the supporter of Israel but that we are pushing Israel toward national suicide.

SNOW: Robertson regularly shares his predictions on his program, "The 700 Club". Last spring he said God warned him there'd be coastal storms, perhaps even a tsunami in the U.S.

In 2004, he said God told him President Bush would be re-elected in a blowout. Actually, Mr. Bush won 51 percent of the vote that year.

One religion writer says at the same time Robertson is drawing attention, he's winding the distance between himself and evangelicals.

JEFFREY SHELER, AUTHOR, "BELIEVERS": The eyes roll and people are really embarrassed by it. He has certainly -- he's not speaking for the evangelical mainstream when he says things of this nature.

SNOW: Robertson doesn't stop at predictions. He often injects himself and invokes God into controversial debates. In 2005, he chastised a Pennsylvania town for rejecting the teachings of intelligent design and choosing to only teach the theory of evolution. ROBERTSON: I'd like to say to the good citizens of Dover if there is a disaster in your area, don't turn to God. You just rejected him from your city.

SNOW: Robertson's Christian Broadcasting Network says it has an audience of one million viewers. Experts say he's targeting a small group of evangelicals who believe in prophesies. And even though many of his prophesies are wrong, some suggest the controversy they create is just an attempt to broaden his base.

Last January, Robertson created a furor, suggesting former Israel prime minister, Ariel Sharon, suffered a stroke as punishment from God for removing Israeli settlers from Gaza.

Robertson later apologized.

SHELER: I think he's willing to take his licks. He certainly knows that he has a penchant for doing this. He's had to apologize in the past, and yet he continues.

SNOW: Robertson also apologized after calling for the assassination of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez in 2005.

Observers say while Robertson's clout has diminished dramatically since the days in 1988 when he campaigned for president, it is the controversy that keeps him in the limelight.

Mary Snow, CNN, New York.


COOPER: We're following several other stories tonight. Randi Kaye joins us now with the 360 news and business bulletin -- Randi.


A student is in custody after shooting a fellow student to death at a Tacoma, Washington, high school. It happened just minutes before the start of classes. The suspect fled the scene. Police arrested him just two hours later, and investigators don't know of a motive yet.

To North Carolina now where Duke University has invited two lacrosse players who've been accused of rape to reenroll in classes for the spring semester. Reade Seligmann and Collin Finnerty were suspended after they were indicted on charges of raping a stripper at a house party near campus.

Last month, the district attorney dropped the rape charge against the two students. They still face sexual offense and kidnapping charges.

On Wall Street, a mixed day. The Dow Jones gained 11 points. The broader S&P fell slightly. And the NASDAQ rose nearly eight points. And time will tell who will play in next month's Super Bowl, but there's already a buzz about the cost of commercials. Advertising experts say CBS may charge a record-breaking $2.6 million for a 30- second commercial. The average spot, however, is expected to cost between $1.8 million and $2 million.

The Super Bowl will be played February 4 in Miami -- Anderson.

COOPER: Randi, thanks.

Just when you thought the feud was finished, that's right, Donald Trump fires a new salvo in his bitter war of words with Rosie O'Donnell. Now Barbara Walters is weighing in. We'll tell you what she said.

Plus, meet the brave dad who risked his life to save a complete stranger on a New York City subway platform. His incredible story when 360 continues.


COOPER: So are you one of the millions of Americans who vowed to go on a diet in the new year? Will you try to eat healthier, avoid the greasy foods? Well, you may want to rethink that plan. Coming in up the next hour, I'll talk to Barry Glassner, the author of the new book "The Gospel of Food: Everything You Think You Know About Food is Wrong". Hear why he thinks what's labeled as bad food sometimes may actually be good for you. Interesting interview coming up in the next hour.

In theory, a new year is kind of a chance to start over with a clean slate, new year's resolutions and the like. Apparently not if you're Donald Trump. We're talking, of course, about the feud with Rosie O'Donnell, the one that began just before Christmas and just keeps on going like the Energizer bunny.

Well, today Trump launched a new attack. Rosie's boss, Barbara Walters, came to her defense and Trump, well, take a look.


COOPER (voice-over): If you thought that Donald Trump made a new year's resolution to stop feuding with Rosie O'Donnell, you were wrong.

TRUMP: Hey, I'd like to lose 15 pounds, OK? We all have the problem. But Rosie is a slob.

COOPER: Three days into the new year and he's at it again.

TRUMP: She's crude. She's tough. She's arrogant. She's pushy. She's disgusting.

COOPER: If this all sounds, well, rather familiar, it is.

TRUMP: Rosie O'Donnell is disgusting, I mean, both inside and out.

She's disgusting.

She's a slob.

Rosie is a stone-cold loser.

Rosie is a loser.

COOPER: Getting tired yet? Apparently Rosie isn't. She penned a poem last week and has lobbed her own share of insults, as well.

ROSIE O'DONNELL, CO-HOST, ABC'S "THE VIEW": This man is like one of those, you know, snake oil salesman.

There he is, hair looping, going, "Everyone deserves a second chance."

Donald, sit and spin, my friend.

COOPER: Even Barbara Walters had been pulled in. Trump claims that Walters had told him she doesn't like Rosie and regrets hiring her for "The View". Today, he drove the point home yet again.

TRUMP: I think Barbara will eventually fire Rosie.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Have you talked to Barbara about it?

COOPER: Yes, I have.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And she said that?

TRUMP: She can't stand Rosie.

COOPER: Walters had previously issued a statement, but today on "The View" she broke her television silence.

BARBARA WALTERS, CO-HOST, ABC'S "THE VIEW": I have never regretted, nor do I now, the hiring Rosie O'Donnell. She has brought a new vitality to this show, and the ratings prove it. "USA Today" called Rosie the year's best hire. I couldn't agree more. And next Monday we will all welcome her back with open arms.

COOPER: And in this farcical feud, with every statement, there's always a counterstatement.

A.J. HAMMER, CO-HOST, "SHOWBIZ TONIGHT": Is she calling you a liar?

TRUMP: Barbara knows what she said. Barbara called me. Barbara is a friend of mine, and she called me. Barbara knows what she's going to -- what she said, A.J. What can she say? Is she going to get on and say that "I can't stand Rosie?" Or that she has to -- she has to work with her.

COOPER: The public may be growing tired, but until they stop watching, it's likely this tit for tat tussle will continue.


COOPER: At least for, say, another week. Rosie O'Donnell goes back to "The View" on Monday. And call it cynical, but a new season of Donald Trumps "The Apprentice" starts this coming Sunday. Coincidence? You decide.

In between fighting with Rosie and promoting "The Apprentice", the Donald took some time to share some of his fortune with a heroic New York City construction worker. After this story, you're going to understand why he did that. That story is coming up.

Plus, the move that could get these dancing cops in serious trouble. Our "Shot of the Day" when 360 continues.


COOPER: Millions of New Yorkers take the subway every day and most of us are too busy reading the newspaper or listening to iPods to notice what's going on around us.

But when a teenager collapsed and fell onto the tracks, a construction worker and father of two not only noticed what was going on. He jumped into action, risking his own life in a dramatic rescue.

CNN's Randi Kaye talks to the man some are calling a subway superhero.


RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: One in the afternoon Tuesday, Wesley Autrey was with his two little girls on his way to work.

(on camera) So you take this train to work every day?

WESLEY AUTREY, RESCUED STRANGER: I take this train every day.

KAYE: Same time?

AUTREY: Same time.

KAYE (voice-over): But this commute would be different. The 50- year-old Navy veteran was about to become front page news.

AUTREY: I don't want to see nobody hurt. So I felt, you know, the best thing to do, was to start the new year off right. What a better way than to save a life.

KAYE: Wesley noticed Cameron Hollopeter having a seizure.

AUTREY: I think he meant to lean on this, but when he came this way, he went like this, bumped off and fell backwards.

KAYE: What Wesley did next sent his girls, aged 6 and 4, into tears. He handed them to a woman and jumped onto the track to save a man he'd never met.

AUTREY: I hopped down here, one feet there, one feet there. I look. I see an oncoming train. You see those red and blue lights?

KAYE (on camera): Yes.

AUTREY: But the farthest one. That's where the train was when I first went down.

KAYE (voice-over): Cameron was still struggling in this gutter between live rails. The train was blowing its horns. Brakes were squealing. Time was running out.

AUTREY: I'm slipping. Each time I go, I look, the train is getting closer, the train is getting closer, getting closer. But the last time the train was about right there where that wood is. And I'm like, you can't get him up. Go for the gutter.

KAYE (on camera): So where?

AUTREY: So I grabbed him like this, fell on top of him, and locked my legs around his, both of them, held him down, put my head over here and leaned in the gutter.

KAYE: He was on his back, and you were on top of him.


KAYE: From the time Wesley jumped down on the tracks, he thinks he had only about seven seconds before the train was on top of him.

(voice-over) Four cars rushed over them, so close they grazed Wesley's hat. His mother believes there was an angel on the track with him. Wesley was unharmed. Cameron's recovering in the hospital.

AUTREY: He thanked me and he said he didn't even realize that he was underneath the train.

KAYE: Wesley doesn't like being called a hero, but to Cameron's family, that's what he is.

LARRY HOLLOPETER, CAMERON'S DAD: Mr. Autrey's instinctive and unselfish act saved our son's life.

AUTREY: It's OK. It's all right. You'll be all right.

HOLLOPETER: And there are no words to properly express our gratitude and feelings for his actions.

KAYE: Hero or not, Wesley is in demand. David Letterman wants to interview him. Donald Trump is giving him $10,000. His kids have been offered a trip to Disneyland.

And the New York Film Academy, which Cameron attends, surprised Wesley with a $5,000 check plus $5,000 in scholarships for his children. Wesley says he doesn't care about the money. He just wants others to know...

AUTREY: I mean, a life is worth saving.

KAYE: Randi Kaye, CNN, New York.


COOPER: And that is a great story. Time now for our "Shot of the Day". Maybe these guys should maybe stick to their day jobs.

Dateline Hungary. Two men dressed up as cops put on a rather awkward dance routine to an old school rap song by the artist formerly known as, well, Marky Mark, I think it was.

Hungarian police want to know if the men are part of the force. If they're the real deal, not only did they break the bad dancing rule, they could face disciplinary action for some obscene gestures I'm told they made.

There they go. Yes. Break it down. There you go. That's enough. There they are.

They should learn some lessons, I think, from the dancers to beat all dancers, members of the Japanese royal defense -- or the Japanese Navy. Take a look.




COOPER: OK. All right. There we go. That's enough seamanship for the new year. That's an old commercial from Japan.

Straight ahead, the new Congress, Democrats promising to get a lot done in their first 100 hours. Maybe they'll even dance. Who knows? What are they planning, exactly? We'll look at that. And the question is, will voters approve?

Also new details emerging about plans to send more troops to Iraq. We'll have the latest on what the president may be offering.

Also, undoing the damage from Saddam Hussein's hanging, caught on a cell phone camera, stirring up a firestorm. You're watching 360.


COOPER: The Iraqi government said it wanted Saddam's execution to close out a bad year and usher in a new era for Iraq. Instead, some are now calling it the biggest setback in years.


ANNOUNCER: Execution fallout.

JOHN BURNS, JOURNALIST: They really have seen into the dark soul of Iraq here.

ANNOUNCER: More outrage, more questions about the cell phone video of Saddam Hussein's final moments.

A day before the power shift in Congress...

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm hopeful that Republicans and Democrats can find common ground.

ANNOUNCER: But Democrats have an aggressive agenda. Will there be teamwork or turmoil? We're "Keeping Them honest.

And before you start your new year's diet, some food for thought: is bad food actually good for you?

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


COOPER: We begin with a gift that sadly keeps on giving for people bent on tearing Iraq apart, the chaotic taunting demise of Saddam Hussein, a brutal dictator who won't be missed except perhaps by those in the hottest no-go zones in Iraq, especially the Sunni- dominated Anbar province.

For them, the execution is a slap in the face, something the Shia dominated government now has to deal with. An investigation is under way into who taped the hanging and who leaked it to the media. So, too, is the spin.