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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees

O.J. Simpson Suspected in Alleged Robbery; War in Iraq: Keeping Them Honest; Petraeus Clarifies His Testimony; Air Force Treats Wounded Iraqis; What's the End Game in Iraq?

Aired September 14, 2007 - 22:00   ET


JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: Anderson anchors a special edition of 360 tonight, "Keeping Them Honest in Iraq" in just a few moments. I'm doing the other breaking news, starting with O.J. Simpson, in trouble, yet talking to CNN. Yes, he's a lead story again. And, yes, it is a crime story.
Call the thinly fictionalized memoir for this one, "If I Robbed Him at Gunpoint in a Hotel Room in Vegas." Well, it's not a book yet, not even an arrest, only an allegation. But police in Las Vegas have questioned O.J. Simpson.

And Simpson talked with CNN's Ted Rowlands -- Ted.

TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, basically, O.J. Simpson is saying that this is much to do about nothing.

He says he went to the Palace Station Casino here in Las Vegas to retrieve personal items. He says that he had heard that they were for sale, so he got a buddy to pretend like he was a buyer. They went in, got the items and they left, four minutes, five minutes, tops.

He says he raised his voice. Yes, he was mad. He took what was his, including photographs and other memorabilia that he says was stolen from his house years ago when he lived on Rockingham.

He said -- quote -- "I just wanted to get my stuff back. What would you have done? I'm O.J. Simpson. Who am I going to rob?"

He says, there were no guns involved at all. In fact, he even said that he talked to one of the alleged victims today. And they apparently have worked out a deal to get the rest of his stuff back. The problem is, is the other side of this story, and that is the alleged victims inside the room that claim that O.J.'s friends had guns with them.

They say that four men barrelled into the room. Two of them were carrying guns.

Here's part of what they say happened in that hotel room.


BRUCE FROMONG, SPORTS MEMORABILIA COLLECTOR: I mean, it was just like a home invasion. You know? They came in quick, they came in fast, and people moved into where they should be. I mean... ROWLANDS: And O.J. was there?

FROMONG: And O.J. -- and the last person coming in was O.J. yelling.


ROWLANDS: O.J. Says, yes, he was in that room. He just got his stuff.

The Las Vegas police have to iron this out, figure out who's telling the truth. If, indeed, there were guns involved, O.J. Simpson could be in trouble and would be subject obviously to arrest. He says he is in town for a wedding and plans to stay in Las Vegas through the weekend. Las Vegas police say they need at least that much time to figure out what really happened -- John.

KING: Ted Rowlands for us in Las Vegas.

Ted, we will get back do you as developments warrant. Thank you very much.

And now joining us now, Court TV's Jean Casarez.

How serious are these allegations against Simpson. And, based on what we have heard so far, Jean, what charges could he possibly face?

JEAN CASAREZ, COURT TV: They could be very serious. I think the most important thing here is, were there some guns? Was there a gun?

And we don't know, because we were hearing on both sides now. The police are not saying. They did say in the press conference that they have not recovered any guns. But I think one of the most serious, of course, would be armed robbery.

And the fact that O.J. Simpson was not holding the gun is really not a critical issue here, because there could be an aiding and abetting situation. So, I think that is very important.

On the other hand, what was the mind-set of O.J. Simpson? Was his intent to go in and forcibly take the personal property of another by fear or intimidation? That is a robbery charge right there. Or was his intent to merely get what he believed was his?

KING: The police have to sort this out.

Let's listen to Alfred Beardsley. He is a sports memorabilia collector. He described this incident to TMZ. Let's listen to what he said.


ALFRED BEARDSLEY, SPORTS MEMORABILIA COLLECTOR: I was directed at gunpoint to pack the items up in the condition they were brought in.


KING: Now, you say Simpson not holding a gun would not clear him necessarily. What do you think of Mr. Beardsley as a potential witness?

CASAREZ: Well, I think that is very interesting. He said he was at gunpoint. That's very serious.

Now, we have heard that there were actually two sports agents that were in the room when O.J. Simpson and the entourage came in. They both are saying there were guns. But, on the other side, O.J. Simpson is saying there were not guns. So, that's where the CSI investigators come in.

Forensically, they looked at the room. They combed. You know they have tried to see if there's any evidence. But the critical thing is, they have got to find those guns.

KING: It's a he said/he said. But this took place not in any location, but in a Las Vegas casino, where one would assume there are lot of cameras. Might that help the investigation?

CASAREZ: You better believe it. Video surveillance is what you're talking about. And when you're talking about Vegas, you're talking about very sophisticated video surveillance.

So, how large were the guns? Were they shown publicly by any camera? Or were they within clothing, so they were not shown? That's going to be an issue. But, at the press conference today, they said there was video surveillance they were going through. There was also still photography.

KING: And you heard O.J. Simpson's account to Ted Rowlands. He says he was tipped off, wanted his personal items, which he claims he were stolen. Essentially, the AP saying he initiated his own sting operation to go into this hotel room and get his stuff.

Knowing how nuclear he is, O.J. Simpson, not the best way to handle this?


CASAREZ: No. You would go to the police.

But, you know, I do want to say that I spoke with O.J.'s attorney, Yale Galanter, earlier today for Court TV. And he is in Las Vegas representing him. And he said that he was invited -- O.J. was invited into that hotel room, that it was actually rented by someone who was a friend of O.J. and invited him in to look at the things to see if they were in fact his sports memorabilia items.

KING: Bizarre story. We will stay on top it. Thank you for your help, Jean Casarez.

CASAREZ: Thank you.

KING: Take care.

Now, fair or not, O.J. part one had plenty of racial overtones -- overtones. In this next story out of Louisiana, they're not just overtones.

A group of black high school known as the Jena six are accused of beating a white student. One of them, Mychal Bell, was found guilty of battery. Well, today, a major development -- an appeals court overturned Bell's conviction, saying he should have been tried as a juvenile.

The racial components include complaints the six were overcharged. The alleged victim was out of the hospital just hours after the incident. Also, this all may have began with the six meeting under a tree that is traditionally only used by white students. The next day, three nooses hung from that tree.

In Utah, emotional testimony from the trial of polygamist leader Warren Jeffs. The prosecution's star witness read from her diary today, telling the jury about her wedding at 14 to a cousin. The state says Jeffs coerced her into that marriage. The former FBI fugitive is charged with being an accessory to rape, and faces life in prison if convicted.

On next to Senator Ted Stevens of Alaska. You have heard about him before on this program, the longest-serving Republican in the Senate now implicated in a corruption scandal. Today, at the trial of a one-time top Alaska lawmaker, the former head of an oil field services employee testified that his employees did several months of remodeling on Senator Stevens' home. Witness Bill Allen has already pleaded guilty to bribing lawmakers.

Senator Stevens maintains that, while the bills went to Allen's company, he, the senator, ultimately paid for all the work.

Now, listen to this.




KING: Applause today, and lots of it, for Tony Snow. This is his last day as the White House press secretary, last day on the job. Tony Snow as you know, is fighting cancer, says he is leaving to spend more time with his family and to make a little more money.

By the sound of that and that reception there outside the White House, folks are pretty happy to see him, very sad to see him go.

And that's it from here. I will be back in about an hour with another news update.

Right now, a 360 special report, "Keeping Them Honest in Iraq" with Anderson Cooper. See you later.


You probably recognize those giant swords. They were built by Saddam Hussein. This is where he used to review his troops. We are now in what's called the Green Zone, the heavily fortified part of Baghdad. But even this place is routinely shelled by insurgents. In this city, in this country, insurgents are never far away.

It's been a pretty important week for the war here in Iraq. While you can argue that what happened in Washington was largely political theater, what's happening here every day is deadly real.

In this hour-long 360 special, "The War in Iraq: Keeping Them Honest," we're checking the facts, so you can decide for yourself what kind of an impact this so-called surge is really having.

Tonight, we will take to you to the front lines of the war. You will meet the former Sunni insurgents who turned against al Qaeda. And we will take you inside U.S. detention centers, where another kind of counterinsurgency is being waged.

We will also talk to General David Petraeus about his report to Congress and to Iraq's prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, about why political progress here has been so slow.

But we begin in Washington with a long-awaited report that brought us here tonight.


COOPER (voice-over): Facing a country weary of war and skeptical of the strategy in Iraq, President Bush stood firm in his address to the nation, insisting progress is being made.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Many schools and markets are reopening. Citizens are coming forward with vital intelligence. Sectarian killings are down. And ordinary life is beginning to return.

COOPER: The president also said some U.S. troops will be coming home. But Democrats and several Republicans believe the president's plan is nothing new and will just bring the U.S. force level back to the pre-surge stage.

It's the politics of war. And it began on Monday with General Petraeus on Capitol Hill and in the hot seat.

GENERAL DAVID PETRAEUS, COMMANDING GENERAL OF THE MULTI-NATIONAL FORCE-IRAQ: The military objectives of the surge are in large measure being met.

COOPER: The U.S. commander's positive report was met with stinging attacks from both sides. SEN. CHUCK HAGEL (R), NEBRASKA: Are we going to continue to invest American blood and treasure at the same rate we are doing now, for what?

COOPER: The general's testimony also gave the presidential hopefuls a chance to sell themselves to the American people.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This continues to be a disastrous foreign policy mistake.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I believe we cannot choose to lose in Iraq.

COOPER: In my interview with General Petraeus, I asked him about the U.S. policy to pay Sunni tribal leaders who turned on al Qaeda in Iraq.

(on camera): Isn't there a big risk that these armed Sunni tribes will become militias if and when the U.S. decides to pull out?

PETRAEUS: Now they're turning their weapons on al Qaeda, instead of on us. Who do they turn them on after that? And, so, the way to mitigate that risk has been to make them part of the legitimate Iraqi security forces, with their payroll coming from Baghdad.

COOPER (voice-over): Some of the sharpest words have been for Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. Even the U.S. ambassador to Iraq called his government dysfunctional.

I sat down with the Prime Minister Maliki, who admitted his government has been flawed. He also spoke about the sacrifice being made by Americans.

(on camera): What would you say to the parents of -- of American troops who have lost their lives here?

NOURI AL-MALIKI, IRAQI PRIME MINISTER (through translator): I sympathize with those victims, and I give my condolences to the families of the victims, military men and women who lost their lives in fighting dictatorship, establishing democracy and freedom.

COOPER (voice-over): For a nation at war, this week may mark a defining moment, but will it be remembered as a sign of better days to come or the breaking point?


COOPER: Helicopters flying over this city pretty much happen all day long. After a while, frankly, you just get used to it.

It's arguable whether the so-called surge has really an impact on the levels of violence in Iraq. Perhaps the -- the biggest factor on the levels of violence has been the decision by Sunni tribes, many of them former insurgents, to turn against the terrorists al Qaeda in Iraq. CNN's Michael Ware traveled to Al Anbar province, a dangerous journey, to see for himself what this Sunni awakening really looks like.


MICHAEL WARE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): We are driving through Baghdad's streets shortly after dawn. American-allied Sunni insurgents have agreed to smuggle us into Al Anbar Province, where, just months ago, al Qaeda was in control.

(on camera): We are now beyond the capital, Baghdad, on the way to our linkup with the nationalist insurgents. To get this far, we had to pretend to be Sunni and Shia as we pass through al Qaeda- controlled areas of the city and areas controlled by the Shia Mahdi militia.

(voice-over): Soon, an insurgent commander is guiding us along dirt roads bound for small town of Zorba (ph), an al Qaeda headquarters for three years only recently overthrown.

Groups of gunmen in civilian clothes keep watch. The street is busy. Shops are open. A few months ago, it was not like this. Tribal elders once targeted by al Qaeda now move freely among the gunmen.

"There was no life here, because al Qaeda dominated the area," says this elder, Sheik Mohammed. "They were killing people. All the markets were closed."

Al Qaeda also slaughtered the town's policemen, but now the police chief coordinates with these gunmen. And, soon, many will join his ranks in uniform.

"Right here, in this place, al Qaeda hung people's heads from butcher's hooks,' he says.

Though the tribes fought fierce battles with al Qaeda fighters, he says help from the government in Baghdad never came.

"The government doesn't exist here. It is against us, and against all of our operations in the area."

(on camera): What would have happened to me if I was here four months ago?

(voice-over): "Al Qaeda would have separated your head from the body," he answers.

That won't happen now, because of this man. His name is Abu Ahmed (ph). Behind the sheiks, the police officers and all the gunmen, he is the one in charge, a renowned guerrilla commander who led the fight against al Qaeda. It is his protection that is keeping us alive. We drive with him to see his recruits being trained at a remote U.S. Marine police training school.

It is clear he is well known, and it is his men being trained.

CORPORAL TIMOTHY COFFMAN, U.S. MARINE CORPS: We teach them a lot of our tactics. And we get them -- get them, you know, pretty damn -- pretty damn good.

WARE (on camera): Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We gave them weapons.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Give them weapons, uniforms.

WARE: We were at one of the checkpoints with the volunteer forces.


WARE: What's the nature of those forces?

COFFMAN: Well, those are basically, like, local militia.

WARE (voice-over): The cooperation is paying off, says Coffman. Attacks here are dramatically down. Across Al Anbar, attacks used to peak at over 100 a week. They're now down to about seven. At checkpoints, Abu Ahmed's (ph) gunmen have fluorescent bans and identity cards from the Marines, plus banners, so U.S. aircraft don't strike them. It is a delicate accommodation.

"The insurgents will never stop until they liberate Iraq," Abu Ahmed (ph) says in front of the former al Qaeda headquarters. "We respect them, and, God willing, they will liberate Iraq. We are all against the occupation and for the establishment of a national Iraqi government."

Fears in Baghdad and in America of U.S. troops supporting armed groups opposed to the government are not unfounded.

Abu Ahmed (ph) insists that, "If our demands are not met by our petitions and by demonstration, then we will carry weapons and defend our Iraq."

But he can only defend us to the edge of his territory.

(on camera): Is this goodbye?

(voice-over): A reminder that al Qaeda is not far away, as we leave for Baghdad.

(on camera): This is now the most dangerous part of the trip...


WARE: ... going home, because we have been exposed here for a few hours. Al Qaeda could most likely know that we are here. And, without our insurgent escorts, this is the time they will strike.

What's wrong?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's a checkpoint.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's a checkpoint.

WARE: Oh. Hide the camera.

(voice-over): We make it through that checkpoint, leaving America's success story behind.


COOPER: How much of what's happening in Al Anbar is because of the surge?

WARE: Very little, Anderson.

I mean, what we have seen develop in Al Anbar Province, what the Americans chemical their Sunni tribe program, which is really an American militia-building program, began well before the surge.

I mean, we know that there's been covert negotiations between the Americans and the insurgency since 2004. We then started to see the tribal program emerge back last year. So, it predates the surge by almost nine months.

COOPER: It comes with great risk, though. I mean, the Shia- dominated government here is very concerned about it and what it may mean for the future, especially if U.S. troops leave.

WARE: And so they should be. I mean, this is one of the reasons that the Americans have engaged in this militia-building program. It doesn't just work for them against al Qaeda.

It's also a stick with which to beat the Iraqi government and try and prod it into real action. And, above all of that, it's a major block against the encroaching Iranian influence that America is now so desperately fearing.

COOPER: Michael, thanks.

We will have more from Michael Ware coming up later on in this 360 special.

We will also talk to Iraq's prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki.


COOPER (voice-over): A leader under pressure.

MCCAIN: The Maliki government has not seized the opportunity.

COOPER: Nearly half his cabinet has quit or is boycotting meetings -- the promises he made not yet fulfilled. REP. TOM LANTOS (D), CALIFORNIA: The Iraqi politicians need to know that the free ride is over.

COOPER: But Prime Minister al-Maliki says he is here to stay.

(on camera): Have you ever considered resigning?

My interview with Iraq's leader and the surprising admission he made.

Plus, a surge in Iraqi detainees and the battle to stop them from joining al Qaeda.

MAJOR GENERAL DOUGLAS STONE, U.S. MARINE CORPS: We're working to help them, help the moderates get stronger and isolate and separate the -- the most -- the most extreme.

COOPER: He calls it the battle of the brain, convincing moderate Iraqis to say no to terrorism.

STONE: The insurgency starts right here. And, if we clip this off, then we can knock out the knees off.

COOPER: But will the lesson stick? -- next on "War in Iraq: Keeping Them Honest."



COOPER: Statistics like that are a reminder of how far Iraq still has to go. Meeting military benchmarks are just part of the problem. There's been virtually no progress on the political front.

The man responsible for that is Iraq's prime minister, Nouri al- Maliki. His government is deeply divided along sectarian lines. And he depends on militias for support. He's under attack these days from all sides.


COOPER (voice-over): In two days of testimony on Capitol Hill, Iraq's prime minister came under blistering criticism.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The Maliki government has not seized the opportunity.

REP. TOM LANTOS (D), CALIFORNIA: Prime Minister Maliki and the Iraqi politicians need to know that the free ride is over.

COOPER: Even the U.S. ambassador to Iraq was tough.

RYAN CROCKER, UNITED STATES AMBASSADOR TO IRAQ: There is an enormous amount of dysfunctionality in Iraq. That is beyond question. The government, in many respects, is dysfunctional. COOPER: So, when we sat down with Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki today, we expected him to protest. Surprisingly, he agreed with Ambassador Crocker's portrayal.

(on camera): You're actually agreeing, to some extent, that -- that the government has been dysfunctional?

NOURI AL-MALIKI, IRAQI PRIME MINISTER (through translator): Yes, definitely. That is why we are considering reenergizing it and reconsidering the process of minister selection, so that they are more professional. But this does not mean that the ministers did not achieve anything. They fought all the challenges and achieved successes, but we want more successes.

COOPER: Does it anger you when you hear U.S. politicians essentially saying you should resign?

AL-MALIKI (through translator): Frankly, I don't blame them, when they don't know the facts and when they don't realize the difficulties.

Every person wishes that everything happens fast and with ease, but he who lives the problems and the challenges is he who appreciates the situation. So, I don't blame them, because they're not aware of the actual challenges.

COOPER: Have you ever considered resigning?

AL-MALIKI (through translator): No.

COOPER (voice-over): Al-Maliki says he agrees with General Petraeus, who argues the so-called surge has been successful. While he says he supports the U.S. tactic of working with Sunni tribes against al Qaeda, he does have serious concerns about the true intentions of some of the gunmen.

AL-MALIKI (through translator): We fear from the Taliban experience in Afghanistan. Therefore, when we welcome them into recruiting and they wear the uniform of the police and army, they must have a clean criminal record. They cannot be from gangs or involved in the killing of innocent people.

COOPER: Al-Maliki's own government is dominated by Shia militias, some of which are alleged to even sponsor death squads in government uniforms, a charge al-Maliki denies. As for Iran, increasingly the focus of U.S. concern, for the prime minister, that presents a diplomatic dilemma. He can't afford to anger his powerful neighbor, which his government increasingly relies on.

(on camera): You have traveled to Iran. Many in America criticize you for being photographed holding hands with President Ahmadinejad.

AL-MALIKI (through translator): Honestly, I am perplexed by others. Nothing that happened is out of the ordinary. This is something normal between nations. Even during conflict, they meet and negotiate.

COOPER: Do you believe the allegations by the United States against Iran that -- that Iran is supplying materials and explosives for -- for bombs that are killing American troops here?

AL-MALIKI (through translator): This is the issue we brought up with Iran. And we said, yes, there are bombs that come through the Iranian borders that kill our soldiers and American soldiers. And, of course, they said, as others, like Syrians, these come through against our wishes and beyond our control. However, we said, yes, you are responsible in controlling your borders.

And I believe that they are honest with us now in controlling their borders and stopping infiltration of explosives through the borders that kill the Iraqis and the American soldiers.

COOPER: Why should more Americans fight and -- and die here? What would you say to the parents of -- of American troops who have lost their lives here and to the parents of American troops who will lose their lives here in the coming months and perhaps even years? It is a high price America is paying. Is it worth that price?

AL-MALIKI (through translator): I sympathize with those victims, and I give my condolences to the families of the victims, military men and women who lost their lives in fighting dictatorship, establishing democracy and freedom, and that helped a nation that was suffering under the dreadful dictatorship.

And what was accomplished in Iraq is very large, and Iraq will preserve and appreciate it, due to the sacrifice of the American people, the American soldiers, and the American administration.


COOPER: That was Iraq's embattled prime minister, Nouri al- Maliki.

One of the undeniable results of the surge is a surge in the numbers of Iraqis detained in U.S. custody.

Earlier this week, I went to Camp Cropper, which is a U.S.-run detention facility here in Baghdad. And what I found is that the war against extremists continues even inside the detention center.


COOPER (voice-over): They arrive at Baghdad's Camp Cropper disoriented, blindfolded, Iraqi detainees, mostly Sunnis, rounded up in raids by the U.S. military.

Cropper is home to more than 4,000 detainees, the smaller of two such facilities run by American forces.

(on camera): Since the so-called surge began, the number of Iraqis detained in U.S. custody has grown dramatically. This is another busload being brought in right now. Every day, about 60 detainees are taken into U.S. custody. And U.S. facilities are almost at capacity. There's more than 24,000 detainees being held right now.

(voice-over): Some are al Qaeda operatives, Islamic extremists, others Iraqi teenagers accused of helping build or plant deadly IEDs.

At the request of the military, we agreed not to show their faces or speak with any of them.


COOPER: Major General Douglas Stone is in charge of all detainees in Iraq. He is attempting to wage a counterinsurgency inside the detention centers, which, in past years, were prime recruiting grounds for extremists.

STONE: We are not warehousing. Now we're fighting the battle -- battlefield -- in the battlefield of the brain. We're taking to help them -- help the moderates get stronger and isolate and separate the -- the most -- the most extreme.

COOPER: The most extreme detainees have recently been moved to a separate unit, so they can't influence the moderate ones. Guarding them is one of the toughest jobs at Camp Cropper.

(on camera): Detainees are constantly making crude weapons to fight against other detainees or to attack the guards with. Here are some of the ones the guards have recently taken. There's like some crude knives made out of barbed wire. Here's another knife, someone's watch rigged up with a knife in it.

These are also very common. These are slingshots. And they get a piece of rock. They make the slingshot out of plastic and rebar. They can take out a guard's eye with this.

STONE: The moderates are, with the programs, taking charge of their compounds, ejecting the extremists, shoving them out, sometimes physically, and creating a compound where it is quiet, docile.

COOPER: You really see this as a battle of the brain?

STONE: This is the battle of the brain. This -- what -- this is where the idea of al Qaeda will be beaten. This is where the idea of extremism will be beaten.

COOPER (voice-over): More than 800 of the detainees here are juveniles. Mostly illiterate, unemployed, they are easy recruits for insurgents.

STONE: The insurgency starts right here. And, if we clip this off, then we can knock out the knees off.

COOPER: General Stone has started civics classes for them. And a moderate Islamic cleric teaches a class challenging the extremist ideology, putting out the Koran does not permit suicide attacks or crimes against civilians.

All the detainees here will have their cases reviewed. Most will get released in under a year.

STONE: When we determine they are no longer a security risk, they go back. So, they are not prisoners. They're detainees.

COOPER: General Stone hopes that, when do return home, they retain the lessons they have learned here. But the problem is, there's not much waiting for them outside these walls, few jobs, little hope, and the persistent pressure to once again take up arms.


COOPER: There is nothing simple about what's happening here in Iraq. And no one knows that better than General Petraeus. I will talk to him in a few moments. He's the man behind the so-called surge. We talked to the general about some of the more controversial parts of his testimony this week.

Plus, we will take you inside the largest U.S. military hospital in Iraq, where the mission is to save lives, no matter who needs help. On any day, the next patient might be a soldier, or a child, or an insurgent. What is that like for American doctors working there?

Find out -- next on 360.


COOPER: Probably the man with one of the most difficult job in the world is General David Petraeus. And as you know, he was in Washington this week testifying about what's happening here, the impact of the so-called surge.

He talked a lot about the successes in al Anbar province, which we talked about tonight. But he also focused on the lack of political progress. I spoke to General Petraeus earlier about some of the more controversial parts of his testimony.


COOPER: There's been a lot of debate over the numbers that you cited in testimony showing reduction in violence. The bipartisan Iraq Study Group last year said -- it was back in 2006 -- said that there is, and I quote, "significant underreporting of violence by the military in the figures that we use."

And they said that -- and I think there was other testimony by Comptroller General David Walker, testifying to Congress recently, who said, and I quote, "Let's just say there are several different sources within the administration on violence, and those sources do not agree."

How confident are you the numbers you are giving out are really accurate if there have been problems in the past?

GEN. DAVID PETRAEUS, U.S. COMMANDER IN IRAQ: Well, first of all, what I say, Anderson, is that we have tried hard to be consistent in our reporting, and that is hugely important, needless to say. There are other numbers out there, and the trends generally are the same as the trends that we have reported.

COOPER: The other criticism that the military has received is that, you know, some four million Iraqis are no longer in their homes. Two million of them have fled to other countries. About two million -- two million of them are -- are displaced internally.

You know, some -- once mixed ethnic neighborhoods in Baghdad are now essentially -- have been ethically cleansed of Sunnis. Has that also contributed to the reduction of death toll? Frankly, there's just fewer people to kill?

PETRAEUS: Well, I think certainly, the displacement and the hardening of neighborhoods, if you will, into one sector or the other has been a factor. There's no question about it. And we have all recognized that.

On the other hand, Anderson, nothing stops sectarian violence until it's stopped. You know? The fault line continues to move until a security situation is imposed that tamps down the violence, stabilizes it and then develops a sustainable security solution to it.

COOPER: I want to ask you about some of what you've said in the past. Some of your critics have said that you've been given too rosy assessments in the past.

Back in 2004, you wrote an op-ed. It was in September, height of the presidential race. And you said about the Iraqi security forces, and I quote, "training is on track and increasing in capacity."

If it was so on track back then, what the heck happened?

PETRAEUS: Well, what the heck happened was incredible ethno- sectarian violence in the wake of the Samarra mosque bombing in February 2006 that led to a situation in December 2006 where Ambassador Khalilzad and General Casey issued a blunt assessment in a joint campaign review that said that the effort failing to achieve its objectives, and which, of course, led the multinational corps commander, in response, to request additional forces up through General Casey and resulted in the surge of forces. That was certainly an enormous factor.

It is without question that certain elements of the Iraqi security forces went backwards, went south, became instruments of sectarian violence part of the problem instead of part of the solution.

COOPER: The final question: when John Warner asks you if this war is making America safer, you said that you weren't sure. You hadn't really focused on that. Now you say we have many multinational security interests in Iraq. Does that actually mean that winning in Iraq makes us safer at home?

PETRAEUS: We have enormous national security issues in Iraq, in helping Iraq achieve its objectives and helping us achieve our very important interests there, in an Iraq that is secure and stable with a government that's representative of and responsive to the people that can meet their basic needs, secure them internally and externally.

And also, laying out the consequences of not achieving that. And some of them, as you well know, could be very, very dire in terms of al Qaeda having a base there, in terms of perhaps Iran doing what President Ahmadinejad said the other day, moving in to fill a void. The humanitarian disaster that could get far worse than it already is. Dislocation to the global economy and so forth.

So again, I was just trying not to be the Department of Homeland Security director in that, not in any way stating anything other than what I did say repeatedly, which is that we have enormous interests in achieving our objectives in Iraq.

COOPER: After three days in Washington, is it more dangerous there or more dangerous here?

PETRAEUS: Well, someone in our group here was saying they would not be completely reluctant to head back to Baghdad.


COOPER: That was General David Petraeus.

Coming up, in this "Keeping Them Honest" report, we'll take you inside the biggest U.S. military hospital in Iraq, where the human toll of the war is as complicated as everything else in Iraq.


COOPER (voice-over): Saving lives no matter whose life it is.


COOPER: Children caught in the crossfire. U.S. soldiers hit by IEDs. Even Iraqi insurgents.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Survival rate is 98 percent. We're pretty proud of that.

COOPER: The facts of war inside one of Iraq's busiest hospitals.

Also ahead, the bloody battle that marked a turning point in Iraq.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was extremely surreal. I didn't think. You don't think.

COOPER: The Marines of Bravo Company and the five weeks in Fallujah they'll never forget. Our special report, "Anvil of God", is just ahead.


COOPER: To encourage local tribesmen to turn against al Qaeda, the U.S. military is now paying local sheikhs to provide security in their areas. A gunman like this can earn up to $10 a day for his services.

The next step is to have young men like this join the Iraqi police. But for that, the U.S. military needs the cooperation of the Shia-dominated government in Baghdad.

Welcome back to "War in Iraq", a 360 special. We're coming to you tonight from Baghdad, but one of the most dramatic places we visited in our week here in Iraq was the military hospital at Balad Air Base. It's the biggest one in Iraq.

U.S. doctors there treat a lot of soldiers, of course, but they also treat Iraqi civilians and children and insurgents. The scene there is as complicated as the war itself, as CNN's Gary Tuchman found out.


TUCHMAN (voice-over): You can become numbed when you keep hearing about casualties of war, but not when you see faces like these.

This little Iraqi girl's name is Ghofran. She is only 6. She was in front of her house when her world changed. Moyaed Hamid is her uncle.

MOYAED HAMID, GHOFRAN'S UNCLE (through translator): An IED was thrown at the police. Nothing happened to them. It hit her. Her leg was amputated.

TUCHMAN (on camera): What is your name? Nice to meet you.

(voice-over) Kawther is 7. She was shot in her left leg. Her uncle says she was purposely targeted because he is an Iraqi cop.

AHMAD ATYA, KAWTHER'S UNCLE (through translator): The terrorists shot her. The al Qaeda organization.

TUCHMAN: These wounded children, including patients like this young boy whose family's whereabouts are unknown, are all at the Air Force theater hospital at the Balad Air Base in Iraq, a facility surrounded by a 15-foot-high wall to thwart attacks.

COL. PATRICK STORMS, AIR FORCE HOSPITAL COMMANDER: We're the largest health care facility in the theater of operations.

TUCHMAN: On this day the hospital has mostly wounded Iraqi civilians. Like this 14-month-old toddler, burned over 45 percent of his body.

MAHFOUDHA MUHAMMED, AHMAD'S GRANDMOTHER (through translator): I love him so much, so dearly. He's just a baby.

TUCHMAN: And this 11-year-old boy, who cries out for water he can't have yet because of a bowel injury.

The hospital also has, as you would expect, wounded American troops. Army Private Paul Cardwell of Arkansas had an explosive thrown near his face. He's only 18.

(on camera) Did you ever see anything?

PFC. PAUL CARDWELL, U.S. ARMY: No. No. You don't see it. You don't. It just happens.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): There is 24-hour armed security here, mainly because of one other type of patient, detainees. Insurgents are regularly brought here for medical care, too.

During our visit, two badly wounded Iraqi men were choppered in. Doctors say they didn't know if these men were insurgents or not. Medical care comes first, they say.

For one of the patients...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's got a gunshot wound low here in his -- in his abdomen.

TUCHMAN: For the other patient...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's going to need an amputation.

TUCHMAN: The amputation takes place within minutes. Both men are expected to live.

STORMS: Survival rate is 98 percent. We're pretty proud of that.

TUCHMAN: The stories we hear are harrowing. Eight-year-old Abdul was shot in the arm during a gunfight.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): He was shot by the Americans.

TUCHMAN: But Abdul's uncle says he accepts their apologies for the accident.

Just before we leave the hospital, we say good-bye to our new friend, Kawther.

(on camera) Salaam.

(voice-over) Doctors say Kawther could be well enough soon to return to the same house where she was shot.

Gary Tuchman, CNN, Balad, Iraq.


COOPER: General Petraeus testified this week that he's going to try to get U.S. troops down to pre-surge levels by next summer, taking out about 30,000 American forces. But when will U.S. forces leave in even larger numbers? That's what a lot of people want to know.

We're going to talk about what the end game in Iraq might look like with CNN's Michael Ware in a moment.

Also tonight, the battle that signaled a turning point in Iraq, Fallujah. It was supposed to last five days but lasted five weeks.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There wasn't any time of the day you did not hear some sort of round going off.


COOPER: The Marines of Bravo Company and "The Anvil of God", a special report, just ahead.


GRAPHIC: U.S. opinion of war in Iraq, September 7-9. Favor, 34 percent; oppose, 63 percent.

COOPER: Those were some of poll numbers that greeted General Petraeus as he testified in Washington this week. Support for the war, now in its fifth year, has been declining. And as we learned this week, there are still going to be large numbers of U.S. forces here going into next year's elections.

You're going to hear politicians trying to come up with solutions, though there are no easy solutions at all for what's happening here. The end game, that's what we want to talk about with CNN's Michael Ware, who joins me now here in the Green Zone.

In the United States, some, mostly Democrats, want a date set for withdrawal. They say, those who support that, that it would pressure the al Maliki government, it would pressure the Iraqi military to stand up faster. Would it?

MICHAEL WARE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's a dream-like state. Anyone who's telling themselves that is absolutely deluding themselves. Maliki's under no pressure from the presence or not of American forces. I mean...

COOPER: Really? He's not under pressure from American forces?

WARE: No. Whilst America, on the one hand, is propping up his regime, on the other hand, they don't answer to the Americans. They don't feel beholden to the Americans. And they have a ready-made sponsor waiting in the wings to step into the American vacuum, as the Iranian president this week himself said.

So the presence of American troops is meant to serve U.S. interests, Western interests. They're not necessarily the interests of the government that America has created.

COOPER: But the U.S. can pressure them to some degree, no?

WARE: It can and it's trying that. It's failed abysmally until this point. Right now the greatest stick that America has, that it's jabbing this government with, the only thing that's forcing them to even pretend to meet any of the benchmarks on de-Ba'athification or reconciliation is that America is now supporting the Ba'ath insurgency. It's supporting the Sunni tribes, and this is terrifying this government.

This government's trying to block it at every turn. Iran has said that you're going to pay a severe price if you keep doing this, but it's the only thing.

COOPER: You know, there are a lot of folks in the United States who say, look, why should the U.S. troops be here? I mean, why should Americans be losing their lives here when Iraqi politicians are going on vacation and are not even passing, you know, reforms that would work towards reconciliation, which would seem -- I mean, everyone seems to admit that's essential for progress here.

WARE: And that's right. And that's not going to happen. You may get it on the surface. You may get some bells and whistles, but you're not going to get true reconciliation, no matter how much people are working to...

COOPER: Still too much hatred and too much desire for retribution?

WARE: And too much vested interest. I mean, it doesn't suit peoples' agendas to come together in the middle. And there's external players all around this country who don't want to see that happen, and they're having much greater affect here than America is.

COOPER: Those who support the U.S. effort here say that American troops should stay because they're a vital national security interest here. If American troops did pull out in great numbers, withdraw totally, even, say in the next year or so, do we know for sure what would happen? Or is it a roll of the dice?

WARE: No one knows for sure. But one thing that we can count on is the blood will flow. And American foreign policy interests will suffer such a withering blow I'm not sure that they would be able to recover from this region.

America can leave tomorrow, as long as it's ready to pay the price. And let's not forget: everyone wants the American sons and daughters to go home. But this is a dilemma facing liberal America. You can do that, but you're going to have such death and misery on your conscience.

There is a moral imperative here. America chose to invade. America created this environment that's not just hurting the Iraqis but it's hurting American interests. It's fuelling al Qaeda and fuelling Iran. You can walk away from that, but it's not without price.

COOPER: Well, Michael, you take an enormous risk to be reporting here, and we appreciate it. You do a great job. Thanks so much. We're going to have a lot more from Iraq coming up. A 360 special, "Anvil of God", a really remarkable look at the battle of Fallujah and the brave Marines who bought it. Three years later, the memories of the dedicated Marines of Bravo Company. "Anvil of God", one of the best hours I've seen on the war, is next.


KING: John King again in Washington with a "360 News and Business Bulletin".

A somewhat upbeat report on the Iraqi government. The White House today claiming satisfactory progress on nine out of 18 benchmarks set earlier this year. The nonpartisan Government Accountability Office, though, recently gave Iraq a lower score.

Police in Las Vegas requesting O.J. Simpson as a possible suspect in an alleged armed robbery. No charges, no arrests, just a complaint from a man who reportedly says Simpson and several others robbed him at gunpoint of Simpson memorabilia. Police say O.J. is cooperating.

Wall Street ended the week in green figures, the Dow closing 17 on the upside at 13,442 and the NASDAQ added 1 and a sliver, closing at 2,602. And the S&P rose none and a sliver, finishing the week at 1,483.

That's it from Washington. After the break, another 360 Iraq special with the Marines inside the toughest battle yet in the war, the fight for Fallujah. "Anvil of God" coming up next.


COOPER: We're coming to you tonight from probably one of the most recognizable places in all of Baghdad, the former parade grounds where Saddam Hussein used to review his troops.

Some Black Hawk helicopters are passing over. Sign that the war here is still very much alive.

In 2003 in March, U.S. forces arrived here on these parade grounds, but, as we all know then, the battles didn't stop.