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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees

President Bush Vetoes War Spending Bill; America's Most Polluted City?

Aired May 01, 2007 - 22:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, everyone.
Here in Los Angeles, we have been out in the streets all day, where thousands of protesters marched for immigration reform. Just minutes ago, things apparently turned ugly. You're seeing the video as we are seeing it for the first time.

Police began firing rubber bullets to disperse the crowd, we're told. Some protesters were hit. We do not know exactly the circumstances around that. We are trying to find out.

We have a reporter, CNN's Ted Rowlands, who was on the scene when the firing began. We are going to talk to him very shortly.

Again, we understand this was an attempt to disperse a crowd. It was a small matter at the end of what has been a largely peaceful day. We're going to continue to follow this story, and get to Ted Rowlands just as quickly as we can.

Much more ahead on the May Day immigration rallies across the country today, but we begin tonight in Washington and the power of the president's pen.

President Bush made good on his promise today, vetoing a $124 billion war spending bill. It is only the second time he's exercised his veto power. The House and the Senate passed the bill last week, but without enough support to override a veto. The legislation set a March 2008 goal for withdrawing U.S. combat troops from Iraq.

Here's what Mr. Bush said about it today.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Setting a deadline for withdrawal is setting a date for failure. And that would be irresponsible.


COOPER: Well, that's what he said today. Here's what he said four years ago today.


BUSH: Major combat operations in Iraq have ended. In the battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed. (CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)


COOPER: Well, that, of course, sadly, turned out not to be the case.

Few know that better than CNN's Baghdad correspondent Michael Ware. He joins me now, along with former presidential adviser David Gergen.

David, both sides say don't play politics with this. Both sides are playing politics with this. It's unfortunate. It is cynical, but it's true. So, politically, did either side emerge stronger after all this today?


And -- but I do think, Anderson, finally, finally, we see some signs now that a compromise can be reached which sounds very reasonable there. Very importantly, Anderson, there are Republicans who have been signaling that they are -- the president may be willing to go off a cliff, but they're not going to go with him. And they are willing to work with Democrats, potentially, on a new bill that would not set a date for withdrawal of troops, but would set what -- so- called benchmarks for the Maliki government in Iraq.

They would say, you must do the following things. And, if he doesn't meet the benchmarks, then we might begin reducing U.S. aid. It would be the beginning of the end of U.S. engagement.

So, that would be a -- that would be a very important compromise. It may be, Anderson, that Democrats will find it easier to negotiate with Republicans on Capitol Hill than they will with the White House.

COOPER: Well, Michael Ware, let's talk about those benchmarks. Both sides in this debate seem to agree on one thing, that there's no military solution to Iraq. They all say it requires a political solution.

The benchmarks, I guess, are to pressure Maliki. Has pressure worked on him in the past?


This is such an old scenario, Anderson. I mean, this word benchmark has been used over and over and over. And no matter what conditions have been set for Maliki to meet, he's never once lived up to them. So, now Washington is trying to up the ante, increase the pressure upon him in what most likely will be the vain hope that he will deliver.

But, to be honest, it's not entirely in his interest to deliver. And, at the end of the day, he simply doesn't have the power. And the political solution in Iraq will not be brokered between Washington and Maliki. You must deal with the real power in Iraq. Essentially, America's going to have to start looking at cutting deals or find some accommodation -- and I hate to say it -- with Iran.

And we're already seeing them come to accommodations with the Baathists, with the Sunni insurgents. The political answer is going to come from how much America is prepared to give on those two fronts.

COOPER: David, what about that? Politically, does this administration have too many eggs in the Maliki basket, or are there other options out there?

GERGEN: Well, they have a lot in the Maliki basket.

But I think the point is well taken that there may well have to be some private, secret negotiations, conversations with Iran and with others to arrange anything. And it's important, of course, that Condoleezza Rice may indeed be talking to the Iranians here in the next few days, when there's a conference on Iraq.

But I think the larger point is this. You know, we have been -- from an American point of view -- it may well be that a lot of things have to be worked out on the ground in Baghdad, but, from an American point of view, we have been stuck.

You know, we couldn't -- we couldn't leave, but we couldn't stay. And the benchmarks begin to point to a path towards saying, OK, if the Maliki government is not going to do these things, if they decide -- if they don't follow through, and if they're -- you can't get the kind of arrangements, America then has more -- let's put it rationale.

And Republicans will find it easier to say, if this isn't going to work, we really should begin disengaging. So, I don't -- while the benchmarks may seem like a -- sort of a Washington game, in some ways, they're a very important prelude to the United States beginning to look for a way to disengage.

COOPER: Michael, CNN is reporting that al-Maliki is running an office within his government which is pushing a Shia agenda, carrying out the Baghdad security plan really along sectarian lines.

Is this notion of a unified democracy of Sunni and Shia, is there any real support for it within the Iraqi government?

WARE: No, no, none that I have seen, Anderson. And I have dealt a lot with all of the important factions within the Iraqi government.

It's simply in no one's interest whatsoever to pursue a true reconciliation. And what we're seeing, with the creation of this office of the commander in chief, this is one more step in the great game that is being played out behind the scenes.

What's at stake is the intelligence community landscape in Iraq. And that will be the -- you know, the steering wheel of true power in that country. We know that the Iraqi version of the CIA was set up by the Americans. Yet, it does not answer to the Iraqi government.

So, in the meantime, the Shia factions sponsored by Iran have set up their own parallel agencies. And they're attempting to bring it all under their umbrella, all under their power. The Americans there on the ground are trying to prevent that. The creation of this office is one more step in the Iranian-backed factions trying to consolidate their power.

COOPER: It's a complicated situation. I appreciate you trying to sort it out for us.

Michael Ware, David Gergen, guys, thanks very much.

GERGEN: Thank you.

COOPER: Democrats knew that today's vote was coming, and they were ready with their response.

Here's what Nancy Pelosi had to say.


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: The president vetoed the bill outright, and, frankly, misrepresented what this legislation does. This bill supports the troops. In fact, it gives the president more than he asked for, for our troops.


COOPER: President Bush has invited congressional leaders to the White House tomorrow to discuss a new bill.

Representative Kendrick Meek, a Democrat from Florida, is a member of the House Armed Services Committee. And Representative Mike Pence, a Republican from Indiana, visited Iraq earlier last month.

I spoke to both men earlier.


COOPER: Congressman Meek, the president spoke against any kind of timetable for Iraq.

Here's what he said earlier today -- let's listen -- after vetoing the bill.


BUSH: It makes no sense to tell the enemy when you plan to start withdrawing. All the terrorists would have to do is mark their calendars and gather their strength and begin plotting how to overthrow the government and take control of the country of Iraq.


COOPER: Congressman Meek, what about that? Doesn't the president have a point? In terms of military strategy, does announcing a timed withdrawal make sense?

REP. KENDRICK MEEK (D), FLORIDA: Well, you know, what's interesting, it's not a hard-time withdrawal. It's making sure that the Iraqi government meets benchmarks, including his own administration.

I think, when we had, last month, over 100 of our men and women actually die following the president's strategy, I think it's very, very important that we follow not only the will of the American people, but, knowing that we need to have some accountability in place in Iraq, to go ahead and start moving in that direction.

COOPER: In terms of military strategy, what message does withdrawing or setting any kind of date send to terrorists, send to insurgents?

MEEK: Well, it doesn't send a -- we're not looking to send a message to terrorists and insurgents. It's sending a message to the Iraqi government. Is our plan -- if our plan is to stay while they're having...

COOPER: So, you don't think the terrorists will just lay low until the date on the calendar, as the president says?

MEEK: I don't think, militarily, that we will ever be able to accomplish terrorists from being discouraged and to go to Iraq and fight against the Iraqi government.

I don't think that will be the case. I don't think that we can legislate morals and character of terrorists. I know what we can do is bring about benchmarks for accountability. It's now going on five years. The president wants another blank check. And the American people sent a very strong message, Anderson, in the last election that they wanted accountability.

COOPER: Congressman Pence, the president said it's not Congress' job to run this war. I want to play something he said. Let's listen.


BUSH: After forcing most of our troops to withdraw, the bill would dictate the terms on which the remaining commanders and troops could engage the enemy. That means America's commanders in the middle of a combat zone would have to take fighting directions from politicians 6,000 miles away in Washington, D.C.


COOPER: Congressman Pence, with all due respect to the president, isn't that what our troops have been doing through this entire war, taking directions from Don Rumsfeld and the White House, dictating troop levels from D.C.?

REP. MIKE PENCE (R), INDIANA: Well, I don't think so.

I have been over to Iraq five different times. I met with General Casey in Baghdad and other military commanders. I met with General Petraeus on his first tour of duty. And I think this commander in chief in the White House has given great deference to our commanders in the field on the ground in Iraq and at CENTCOM.

And the truth is, look, Congress has the ability to declare war. Congress has the ability to fund or not to fund war. But the reason why the president was right to veto this bill today, Anderson, is that Congress does not have the authority to conduct war, under the Constitution of the United States.

COOPER: It seems like most people in Washington now agree that there were not enough troops to begin with all throughout this war, and that was basically because Don Rumsfeld was setting the troop levels. Is that not your understanding?


PENCE: Well, let me say, I think mistakes were made all along the way. That is really the very nature of war.

When I was in Baghdad a month ago, several of our commanders and leaders on the ground said to me, look, this new strategy that is a clear hold-and-build strategy, working to provide basic security and stability in Baghdad, is probably what we should have been doing for the last three years as a counterinsurgency measure.

COOPER: Congressman Pence, just briefly, you have said that you have seen signs of -- I think modest success was the term. Where do you see those signs? Because, overall, General Petraeus is saying, the number of troops -- the number of Iraqi deaths is pretty much unchanged. We certainly know April has been a terrible month for U.S. fatalities. Where is the success?

PENCE: Well, I think, as General Petraeus told us last week, that you're exactly correct, Anderson, that, overall, violence is pretty level, as al Qaeda and insurgents have apparently moved away from the surge in Baghdad and -- and, frankly, out of Al Anbar Province, into some of outlying areas.

The encouraging signs we heard was that, within Baghdad, within the scope of the areas affected by the surge thus far, sectarian violence is down significantly. Baghdad is not safe, but it is safer...

COOPER: Are you concerned that that's just sectarian militias laying low?

PENCE: Well, it could well be, in all fairness.

But it also could be evidence that, as Iraqi and U.S. forces move out into the neighborhoods and establish what is now over two dozen joint security stations, one of which I visited in downtown Baghdad -- they're living in the neighborhoods. They're patrolling 24-7. That is believed to be one possibility of why the sectarian violence is coming down. And, again, the progress in Al Anbar Province is not only a result of the Marines in Ramadi and -- and Iraqi forces, but now 20 out of 22 Sunni tribal leaders have come together to endorse the al- Maliki government and endorse the U.S. presence there.

It is extraordinary. You saw the story in "The New York Times" on Sunday morning. Al Anbar Province and Ramadi have taken a dramatic turn for the better.

COOPER: Congressman Pence, Congressman Meek, we appreciate your perspectives. Thank you very much.

MEEK: Thank you.

PENCE: Thank you.


COOPER: Coming up on the program tonight: full coverage of today's immigration rallies across the country, including here in L.A., where police, a short time ago, used rubber bullets on the crowd to try to disperse them. We will have the latest report on that.

Plus, this:


COOPER (voice-over): They're marching for citizenship. He's on a mission to stop them.


GLENN BECK, HOST: This is all about amnesty. It's what Mexico wants. It's what the president wants. It's what Congress wants. It's what big business wants. But it is not what the American people want.


COOPER: CNN's Glenn Beck, never one to pull punches, joins us tonight.

Also, from L.A.'s jampacked freeways to Brazil's shrinking rain forest, a disaster in the making, and America's most polluted city revealed, as our "Planet in Peril" series continues -- next on 360.


COOPER: We're now on our breaking news.

This video, we're seeing, really, for the first time. It happened about a half-hour ago, Los Angeles police firing rubber bullets at an immigration rally. Some protesters were apparently hit.

CNN's Ted Rowlands was on the scene when it started. He joins me now. Ted, what can you tell us? What happened?

TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, it was a dramatic and chaotic end to what was otherwise a very peaceful day here in Los Angeles.

Like you say, about a half-hour ago is when it came, finally, to an end. It started about an hour-and-a-half ago with a small disruption with a group of protesters. Police tried to move them out of a roadway. And it just escalated from there.

We were caught right in the middle of it. And then we were sort of just trying to cover and figure out what was going on in one side of MacArthur Park here, which is really in the shadow of downtown Los Angeles. There are a few thousand people here. This was the end point of a daylong rally.

There was music. In fact, Cardinal Mahony, Roger Mahony, was up on stage just within the half-hour before all this started. Police started to move and disperse the crowd, and fired rubber bullets, dozens of rubber bullets, into the crowd. People went running and fleeing, trying to get out of their way.

And there really was -- there didn't seem to be any warning. Police just sort of took ground and moved forward and started firing on this crowd. We talked to one individual who was hit by one of these rubber bullets.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The people, they wanted a peaceful march to demand full legalization and amnesty. What they're doing, they're psychologically torturing the people, so that they can go ahead and think this is a police state, right?

And all we wanted is just to walk, specifically demanding for immigration rights.


ROWLANDS: And you could see the welt that that individual got from the bullet.

This is what these bullets look like. They are actually soft, but they're coming out of, obviously, rifles and traveling at an extraordinary speed. And a lot of people were hit by these. There were a lot of children and families in the -- in the -- at the rally and in the crowd.

And I got to tell you, there really wasn't a lot of warning. I did talk to a sergeant from the Los Angeles Police Department, this gentleman right back here. He was going to do an on-camera interview. Now they have declined to.

He did tell me off camera that an officer on a motorcycle had been touched or hit, and may have fallen down, and that was the beginning of this. But it is unclear what sparked this, but, clearly, a very dramatic and chaotic end, like we said, to what was otherwise a very peaceful day of rallies and demonstrations here in Los Angeles and around the country -- Anderson.

COOPER: Hey, Ted, I don't know if you still have that -- that rubber bullet. I have never actually seen it. How soft is it? I mean, is it -- can you actually sort of squeeze it, or...


ROWLANDS: Yes. You can squeeze it fairly easily. And it is hollowed out in the middle there. You can see that. So, it is -- it's a soft bullet.

Clearly, no one -- it is not lethal. And no one was going to be in grave danger. However, there were a lot of children in the crowd. In fact, we saw one vendor, a hot dog vendor, who had his daughter with him who was trying to flee and grab his stuff. And it was very difficult for him to do so.

But, that said, we didn't see anybody with any injuries. And these aren't lethal -- still, a very -- a very scary time for the folks in the crowd, at least a lot of them.

COOPER: And, just so we're not blowing anything out of proportion, do you have a sense of numbers of people involved, like, how many people were in the area, how many police were involved, you know, how many -- any sense of how many people were trying to be shooed away?


Well, you can see this -- this group of police officers here. And, then up along the street, there's another contingent there, and more coming in there. And this, I would say, was only about half of the officers that are deployed. There's another contingent on the other side of the park here -- so, a lot of force on the police side, a few thousand people when this all started probably in the park, maybe a little bit less, but many, many people.

And you can imagine that's what's escalated this. Now, to defend the police department, because they won't talk to us, but they clearly were doing something -- they were trying to gain ground. And they were systematic in what they were doing. They were firing the bullets clearly to scare people and get them out of the way.

And they knew what they were doing in clearing the park. Why the communication wasn't there -- they didn't have a bullhorn -- why these people had to be frightened is unclear. And, hopefully, we will get some answers from the LAPD coming up.

COOPER: Ted, appreciate the reporting.

Before the rather surprising -- or chaotic, perhaps, is the better word -- end to this afternoon's march here in Los Angeles, it was peaceful. Today's marches across the country were far smaller than they were last year. But those who attended insisted the smaller numbers should not be a sign of weakening resolve. They said it should not be about numbers, but about action.

A few lawmakers want to give illegal immigrants a clear path to citizenship. Some of the marchers, of course, want that very strongly, and want to influence the lawmakers. Some critics say that is out-and-out amnesty.

Joining me now from New York is CNN Headline Prime's Glenn Beck.

Glenn, you said that immigration like -- rallies like the one today will actually hurt immigrants. How? Why do you think that?

BECK: Well, I think today's or this week's rallies hurt the immigrant -- the illegal immigrant position, because they're of smaller sizes.

I think it just doesn't look -- we're a visual nation -- I don't think it looks as good. I also think that there are those that are in the crowd that are carrying signs. One was that we pointed out on my program tonight "The Mexica Movement."

Check that movement out. These are people that are trying to reclaim the land. And I think those people, just even if they are a very few in the crowd, holding those signs up, saying, this is our land, Europeans are enslaving us, I don't think that helps anybody.

COOPER: What should happen, in your opinion, to the 12 million illegal immigrants already here? Because everyone I talked to in the crowd today was saying, look, there's 12 million, at least, here already. Should they all be sent back? They say they want a path to citizenship.

BECK: I will tell you, Anderson, that I think that we're putting the cart before the horse.

And this is why I think there is such frustration in America, because I think, if you asked anybody, left or right, liberal or conservative, and you said, "Should we just allow anybody to come into the country; should we not know who's in the country?" everybody would say no.

This is a security issue first. You know, we -- after 9/11, we promised we were going to fix the visa problem that we had. That problem is twice as bad as it was after 9/11. We're out of control. We need to fix the security first.

And I think that's where a lot of frustration comes from, from a lot of people. When it comes to -- that, to me, is common sense and easy to fix.

When it comes to amnesty, that's a more measured debate. That's something that we -- because I don't have an answer, Anderson. And I don't know a lot of people that do have an answer on that. That's something that we need to sit back, have reasoned discussions on. And, unfortunately, the.. COOPER: But can't you do...


COOPER: Can't you do both? Can't you close up the borders? I think you're right. Most rational people clearly say this country can't tolerate open borders. We have to know who's coming in, what they're bringing with them. We have to know that and we have to control it.


COOPER: But can't you do both? Can't you have border security and what they call comprehensive immigration reform?


BECK: Let me just speak as a conservative. I don't think you can, for one reason.

Tried it back under the Reagan administration. And he made the compromise, and said, OK, we will do both. Nothing really happened on the security. And the one thing that Reagan was asking for was stiff -- a million-dollar fine for those companies that were intentionally hiring illegal aliens. Those were never written.

I think the only way that you have -- the only way that you have border security happen is if you hold back on the debate on amnesty, because there are too many forces in Congress. The left wants the votes. The right wants the labor, the cheap labor. You have got big business involved.

There's too many forces out there that just want that border open, that just want the amnesty to happen. To be able to take that pressure off, I think, is extraordinarily bad.

COOPER: You also say that illegal immigration could actually lead to a civil war in America. Pretty strong words.

BECK: Yes.

COOPER: What is that theory?

BECK: It's actually not just illegal immigration. I think that we're having a problem right now. We're separating ourselves on left and right, and not right and wrong.

Like I said, I mean, Anderson, I can't imagine people would answer yes to, should we just let anybody in the country and not know who they are? That is a right-wrong issue.

On -- from this, to global warming, to the war in Iraq, we're not even listening to each other anymore. And what's happening is, we are being scared by calls of racism or -- you know, or hate monger. We are being pushed into corners, where we don't really belong. Most people are in the middle. And you're pushed into the corners, and you're not having a real dialogue anymore.

When you have cities who are saying, I'm not even going to enforce the law, and then, 20 miles down the road, you have another city that says, I'm going to really enforce the federal law, you have got the makings of real bad things on the horizon.

COOPER: Interesting.

Hey, Glenn, it's good to talk to you, as always.

BECK: Good to talk to you.

COOPER: Glenn Beck, thanks.

BECK: Thank you.

COOPER: Be sure to watch Glenn's special report on another hotly contested issue. He talked about it a little bit tonight. "Exposed," it's called, "A Climate of Fear." Glenn takes on the hype surrounding the global warming debate, what he says is hype. It airs tomorrow on Headline Prime at 7:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m. Eastern.

Still ahead on 360, find out what city is the most polluted in America, talking about global warming. It's part of our "Planet in Peril" series. We have been traveling the globe looking at the state of the environment. But, for this pollution story, we stayed right here in America. Find out if your city is on the list.

Also ahead: what one presidential candidate says he wants to do with President Bush's veto. It was caught on -- well, you can see it on YouTube now, no doubt -- the raw comment in "Raw Politics" next.


COOPER: A look at the Hollywood Hills here around Los Angeles, a hazy evening -- according to a new study, some of the worst polluted air right here in America.

You may not realize there's a vital, though fragile, connection from here in L.A. to the Amazon rainforest, 5,000 or so miles away.

Much of the damage to the environment that happens here and in so many other places can be repaired in some ways in the Amazon. The details now as a part of our ongoing look at our "Planet in Peril".


COOPER (voice-over): Thanks to the cars and the clogged freeways, L.A. produces so much ozone and particle pollution, the American Lung Association today named it the most polluted U.S. city. Pittsburgh came in second. Then Bakersfield and on and on.

In fact, 2.3 million children and more than 5.6 million adults in the U.S. who suffer from asthma live in cities like this, with high levels of ozone. But it's not just cars and heavy industry. In Thailand, we found farmers burning off their crops caused a forest fire, the sickening smoke descending upon the air. Respiratory illness there up 50 percent.

In the Niger delta, the burn-off from vast and leaky oil wells is a huge offender. In Malaysia, it's traffic. In China, coal production. The country builds a new coal plant every week.

Much of the damage is repaired by clean air producing microorganisms in the oceans. But now they are under stress. Rainforests actually produce about 20 percent of the earth's oxygen. But they, too, are under threat, as we saw for ourselves when we recently flew over the lush canopy in Brazil.

(on camera) The amount of the deforestation, it is truly alarming. On average in Brazil, some 7,700 square miles of rainforest are cut and burned every year. That's roughly an area the size of New Jersey.

(voice-over) And that's why we're doing this series, to remind us all that this is a planet in peril in so many ways.


COOPER: While L.A. has the worst pollution in the United States in the American Lung Association survey, you're likely wondering who has the best. The answer is Cheyenne, Wyoming. Congratulations, Wyoming.

From our planet in peril to the perils of raw passions on the campaign trail, here's CNN's Tom Foreman with tonight's "Raw Politics".


TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, if you thought the war funding bill was tough in public, you should have heard what was going on in private conversation. That's where it really got raw.

As Democrats in Congress and the president dueled over the funding measure, the ever diplomatic Senator from Delaware, Joe Biden, showed up on the Internet, explaining his plan what to do next with the president's veto.

SEN. JOE BIDEN (D-DE), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We're going to shove it down his throat.

FOREMAN: Oh, we're going to hear about that.

A spokesperson for Biden's presidential campaign says his blunt words merely reflect his passion for proper funding and equipping of the troops.

There will be plenty of words flying when all eight of the Democratic contenders lock horns for CNN's debate in New Hampshire on June 3. The arrangements have just been finalized.

And two days later on June 5, also in the Granite State, all ten Republicans will join CNN for their debate. Mark your calendars, put the kids to bed, lock up your dog.

On the red carpet. The ever intense Bono, in his fifth straight year of not cracking a smile, is doing a duet with Senator Clinton, both pushing for a bill to beef up education in poor countries.

But don't put him on her bandwagon. He's not endorsing her at this point. Perhaps he still hasn't found what he's looking for.

And is John McCain getting his mojo back? He's been No. 2 in the polls behind Rudy Giuliani for the Republican presidential nomination.

But last week he formally announced his candidacy, campaigned across the country, and three crucial early primary states show McCain back on top. But remember, what happens in the preseason is just that. We're still a long way from the playoffs.

That's "Raw Politics" -- Anderson?


COOPER: Thanks, Tom. An unbelievably long way away.

Don't miss "Raw Politics" and the day's headlines by checking out the 360 daily podcast. You don't need an iPod. You can watch it on your computer at or get it from the iTunes store, where it's a top download.

As immigrants and their supporters fill the street and Congress prepares to reopen debate on the issue, we're keeping them honest.


COOPER (voice-over): Immigration reforms you haven't heard about. Loopholes passed by Congress when America wasn't looking. You'll be amazed by who benefits and why.

Also, unstable and unstoppable. One of the most active volcanoes in the world is at it again. The pictures are breathtaking. Next on 360.



COOPER: You're watching the most dramatic moment of today's immigration rallies here in L.A. This video taken a little bit more than an hour ago. Police began firing rubber bullets at protesters. Some were hit.

Until this happened, today's marches had been peaceful. Apparently, police were wanting to clear the area. There seems to have been some confusion, according to Ted Rowlands, who is on the scene. People didn't really know they wanted to clear the area until they -- well, until they started clearing it, as you see it, using the billy clubs there, firing rubber bullets, which are very soft, as we were showing at the top of the program. But a couple people have some welts on them. At least one young man that we saw being interviewed.

We're going to try to find out some more information about how this rally ended. But overall, it was an extremely peaceful march.

It has been a year since the last major demonstrations and months since Congress and the White House agreed on an immigration package falling far short of real reform. Even now, competing plans sit stalled on Capitol Hill. Leaving one wondering whether Washington has done much of anything to resolve the immigration dilemma.

"Keeping Them Honest" for us tonight, CNN's Joe Johns.


JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): So whatever happened to the pathway to citizenship for millions of undocumented immigrants? Last year, so-called comprehensive immigration reform was all the talk on Capitol Hill.

Then, as now, there were rallies, speeches, marches. But it all died down with no bill passed into law. The only thing that Congress could really agree on was to build a fence.

So why couldn't they get it done? Short answer: the midterm elections got in the way. Transfer of power from the Republicans to the Democrats. Agitators argue the issue helped put the Democrats over the top.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: People marched. They then registered to vote, became citizens in massive numbers and created an impetus for a new majority. And the Democrats here in the House and in the senate have a responsibility to respond to the demands of people.

JOHNS: But is that true or is it just wishful thinking? Polling for CNN says that on a list of top ten issues confronting Congress and the president, immigration is No. 7. But it's an unpredictable issue, even dangerous for candidates. Can you vote for reform without getting a scarlet "A" for amnesty next to your name?

JOHN DICKERSON, SLATE.COM: So that they have a very complicated argument about a comprehensive bill, and the other side has the simple argument of amnesty, and that's worked pretty well politically for opponents of comprehensive reform.

JOHNS: Take a closer look at that midterm election, a high profile race in Illinois. Republican Peter Roskam beat Democrat Tammy Duckworth, claiming she was too soft on illegal immigrants.

On the other hand, some who took a hard line on immigration, like Republican Congressman J.D. Hayworth of Arizona, lost their seats. Democrats branded him an immigrant basher. So who won the immigration skirmish? Republican presidential candidate Tom Tancredo is among the toughest of the hard-liners on illegal immigration. He calls the last election a wash.

REP. TOM TANCREDO (R-CO), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Some thought it was bad for our point of view, others good. But it was -- it's a stalemate. We really are at loggerheads, even right now.

JOHNS: But that hasn't stopped people from trying to get an immigration bill. The White House wants something big to crow about in President Bush's second term and build his legacy. So the quiet meetings have been going on for a month.

Carrie Budoff is with

CARRIE BUDOFF, POLITICO.COM: Where we are right now is very back room, hush-hush talks that even people who are involved with the talks sometimes leave meetings with conflicting accounts of where things stand.

JOHNS: Such secrecy on Capitol Hill naturally rankles people on the outside, like Congressman Tancredo.

TANCREDO: But I think on this particular issue, I'm going -- there are enough people that will blow the whistle on it. That's the thing. They can't keep it hidden very long.

JOHNS: So whatever happened to immigration reform? Depends on your point of view. It's somewhere quiet being born or being talked to death.

Joe Johns, CNN, Washington.


COOPER: Depends on your point of view. Up next on 360, dangerous crossing. Our cameras capture the desperate steps that some Mexicans are willing to take for a better life in the United States.

And in our next hour, more on the breaking news we've been following. Police firing rubber bullets at marchers at today's immigration rally here in Los Angeles. What went wrong? Or was this all part of the plan? Find out ahead at 11.


COOPER: You're watching the somewhat dramatic end to the immigration rallies here in Los Angeles today. Happened a little bit more than an hour ago, about an hour and 20 minutes ago. Apparently, the officers wanted to clear the streets, clear this park. Somehow the crowd didn't realize it.

CNN's Ted Rowlands was there when it happened. He's working the story right now, trying to find out more details. We'll talk to him at the top of this upcoming hour. Right now, the U.S. government reporting a huge drop in arrests of illegal immigrants. That's down about a third from the year before.

To find out what is stemming the tide, CNN national correspondent Gary Tuchman crossed the Rio Grande and found people desperate to take the risk anyway. Take a look.


GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A parade in Reinoso (ph), Mexico. Just across the Rio Grande Mikala (ph), Texas. Nurses, teachers, street cleaners, textile workers, all being honored and getting congratulated by local dignitaries on the reviewing stands.

(on camera) Thousands of workers in this May Day parade showing their love for the city, their country, their pride in their jobs. But it's not very hard to find many people who would chuck it all to get work in the United States.

(voice-over) The temptation is great. A worker can make five, ten, 20 times more with the same type of job north of the Rio Grande. Jose is a street and park cleaner. He makes $15 a day. He daydreams about swimming across the river to Texas to make more money for his family.

He takes us to a heavily wooded area on the banks of the Rio Grande, where many people take the risky swim to the U.S. Looking at the U.S. on the other side of the river is the closest Jose has gotten.

(on camera) (speaking Spanish) Are you scared of the water?

JOSE, MEXICAN CITIZEN (through translator): No, I know how to swim, but I'm scared of the police over there. They may catch me or imprison me.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): The U.S. says arrests of illegal immigrants crossing the Mexican border are down by about 30 percent this year and 45 percent of this area. Washington says the reason is more Border Patrol and thousands of National Guard troops.

In Reinoso (ph), people here know about that increased manpower.

JOSE (through translator): Yes, there's a lot more police this year. I see it on television.

TUCHMAN: We meet Arturo, who says he's just swum the Rio Grande three times in the last year and has been arrested each time.

ARTURO, MEXICAN CITIZEN (through translator): They sent me back. It's been difficult. It's been hard for me, and I haven't been able to cross.

TUCHMAN: we run into six men hiding in the woods, ready to cross the river to America. They say they're waiting to be taken by a coyote, a human smuggler who charges hundreds of dollars for the trip.

While we wait, a man who Jose believes to be the coyote starts to walk quickly away from our camera. He and two other men later tell us to get out of the woods. Their threatening tone is clear.

We go to another part of the river, where we see a man in the Rio Grande, apparently making a break for Texas. But he sees our camera and abruptly turns back. Enrique tells us he was just going for a swim, in his clothes and shoes. But does tell us he has made five or six swimming trips to the U.S. and was arrested the last time.

ENRIQUE, MEXICAN CITIZEN (through translator): I was in prison for a month and a half.

TUCHMAN: The word on the Mexican street is this: one has to be much more careful these days trying to sneak into the U.S.

But even somebody like Jose, who's never done it before, says he will some day.

JOSE (through translator): What I make here in 15 days I can make there in hours. Yes, I plan to go.

TUCHMAN: Jose says he hopes he might do it legally, but thinks it's more likely it won't be.


COOPER: Gary, that stretch of the river, it looks like a very short distance across to the United States. How far is it? How long a swim is it?

TUCHMAN: You know, without a current, Anderson, it would probably take you three or four minutes to go across. But the current is going very swiftly in this direction, which is to the east. It makes it very dangerous, and it's impossible for us to know how many people successfully make it here and how many people have died in the river, trying to make it.

COOPER: And the coyotes, how much are they charging?

TUCHMAN: We have been told by some of the people in Reinoso (ph), which is just behind me, about a five-minute walk, if you get to Texas, the coyotes are now charging $500. To get to North Carolina, where a lot of Mexicans are going these days, $1,500. And they say the price has gone up in the last year because it's now harder to get into the United States.

COOPER: All right. Gary Tuchman, appreciate the reporting. Thanks.

We're going to have much more on the immigration debate in the next hour of 360.

Also ahead tonight, new information about what caused a plane crash that killed Yankee pitcher Cory Lidle. Plus, Anna Nicole Smith's daughter leaves the Bahamas for the first time. Is the battle finally over?

And an explosive sight in Italy. It's our "Shot of the Day", coming up next on 360.


COOPER: And coming to you tonight from Los Angeles, California, our "Shot of the Day" in a moment. Hot video of the fireworks you don't want to see exactly from your backyard. That's a quick glimpse.

First, Erica Hill from Headline News joins us with a "360 News and Business Bulletin" -- Erica.

ERICA HILL, HEADLINE NEWS ANCHOR: A leader of al Qaeda in Iraq may be dead. The head of an opposing group says Abu Ayyub al-Masri was killed in fighting this morning near the town of Paji (ph). That's just north of Baghdad. Supporters of al-Masri, though, saying it's not true.

Investigators say pilot error was the cause of the plane crash that claimed the lives of New York pitcher Cory Lidle and his flight instructor last October.

The NTSB says Lidle and the instructor did not realize they misjudged the U-turn until it was too late to avoid hitting the Manhattan high-rise building. They could not determine, though, who was flying that plane.

Both families have criticized the findings and say they're planning to sue the plane's manufacturer, claiming the accident was caused by a faulty steering mechanism. The NTSB found no evidence of that.

On Wall Street today, the Dow hitting a new high. Blue chips gained 73 points to close at 13,136. The NASDAQ added 6, the S&P tacked on three.

And in Kentucky, Anna Nicole Smith's baby arriving there today with her father, Larry Birkhead. It is the first trip out of the Bahamas for 7-month-old Dannielynn. Birkhead's family lives in Louisville. As for where they will live permanently, though, Birkhead says he's not sure yet, Anderson.

COOPER: That's for up to "Access Hollywood" or "ET" or something to decide maybe.

HILL: Yes, might be.


Let's look at "The Shot of the Day". Some explosive video. A volcano eruption caught on tape. You're looking at Mt. Etna in Italy, Europe's largest active volcano. Yes, amazing.

Hot molten lava there, spewing into the air some 600 feet into the air. No nearby residents were in danger. Apparently, it's the third eruption since last month.

Just incredible pictures. You ever seen a volcano?

HILL: No, I never have. I'd love to, but I don't want to get too close.

COOPER: That's probably why.

HILL: Well, you know.

COOPER: You're always thinking, Hill.

HILL: I do what I can.

COOPER: Erica, thanks.

We want you to send us your shot ideas. If you see some amazing video, tell us about it: We'll put some of your best clips on the air, although please don't get very close to a volcano just to get on TV. Not a good idea.

Up next, the political war over Iraq. President Bush versus Congress in a historic showdown. The president made good on his veto promise. So now what?

Plus, a chaotic scene, police firing rubber bullets at protesters. A live report next. Stay tuned.


COOPER: We begin the hour with breaking news here in Los Angeles where immigration rallies were peaceful all day long. Things suddenly turned chaotic at the end of one of today's rallies. Police began firing rubber bullets at the crowd.

CNN's Ted Rowlands was on the scene when the firing began. He talked to protesters, also, who were hit. He joins me now.

Ted, how did it all happen, Ted?

TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, it still is a bit confusing as to how this all happened. According to a member of the Los Angeles Police Department, an officer, a motorcycle officer, got into some altercation with one of the protesters or marchers at some point, and that raised tensions.

And from there, it was clear that the Los Angeles Police Department, a number of them are still out here this evening in riot gear, hanging tight. Most of the protesters, about all of them, have now moved on to another spot.

But at some point it was clear they wanted to move everybody who was still here out of MacArthur Park. And this was the spot where the final march of the day ended. Where people had gathered, where they were listening to music.