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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees

CIA vs. Pelosi; Beating the Taliban?

Aired May 15, 2009 - 22:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Tonight, who is lying, Nancy Pelosi, the most powerful woman in Congress, or the head of the CIA?

Tonight, Pelosi and CIA chief Leon Panetta are locked in a battle over what she knew about water-boarding during the Bush administration. And while we don't yet know who it is, someone is not telling the truth.

Tom Foreman tonight "Keeping Them Honest."


TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Someone is not telling the whole truth, but who? Trying to track that down starts with a briefing the CIA gave to Representative Pelosi in the fall of 2002.

As a leader of the Intelligence Committee, she insists she was misled in that meeting about when or even if harsh interrogation techniques were used against suspected terrorists, including al Qaeda leader Abu Zubaydah.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Those briefing me in September 2002 gave me inaccurate and incomplete information. The only mention of water-boarding at that briefing was that it was not being employed.

FOREMAN: "No way," that is the sentiment from President Obama's own CIA director and Pelosi's fellow California Democrat, Leon Panetta, in a note to his staff obtained by CNN: "Let me be clear. It is not our policy or practice to mislead Congress. That is against our laws and our values. Our contemporaneous records from September 2002 indicate that CIA officers briefed truthfully on the interrogation of Abu Zubaydah, describing the enhanced techniques that had been employed."

Pelosi has admitted, for the first time, this week that she was told about the so-called torture techniques back in 2003, but said nothing because of secrecy rules.

It is all feeding a Republican frenzy. They see Pelosi tarring Bush officials over the interrogations, but ducking her own culpability.

The latest to pile on, former speaker Newt Gingrich on ABC Radio.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP, ABC RADIO) NEWT GINGRICH, FORMER SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: I think this is the most despicable, dishonest and vicious political effort I have seen in my lifetime.


FOREMAN: At once trying to do damage control and turn up the heat on others, the speaker issued a late statement, saying, "In part, my criticism of the manner in which the Bush administration did not appropriately inform Congress is separate from my respect for those in the intelligence community who work to keep our country safe."

(on camera): Still, she remains caught between Republicans who are accusing her of hypocrisy and some of her own Democrats who are wondering why, if Nancy Pelosi believed for six years that America was torturing prisoners, she did not sound the alarm? Who's not telling the truth?

We still don't know for sure, but it feels like we're getting closer -- Anderson.


COOPER: Tom Foreman tonight.

"Digging Deeper" now with senior political analyst David Gergen.

David, we don't know, but, clearly, somebody's not telling the truth. Somebody's lying.


This is a remarkable story, two Democratic heavyweights at sword's point over what happened seven years ago, not even on Leon Panetta's watch. But, when she accused the agency, the CIA, and essentially the professionals at the CIA, of lying, which I think may be in violation of the law, he rose to the defense vigorously today. And it's caused this storm.

Now, I have to tell you, Anderson, I doubt we will ever know for sure who's telling the truth.

COOPER: Really? You don't think we will ever get to the bottom of it? Why?

GERGEN: I doubt it because I think it's in her interests -- and -- and I think Leon Panetta would probably go along with this -- to put behind -- to this squabble behind them as quickly as possible.

What it -- I -- I don't think it will be -- there are those who argue this is going to be fatal to her and her speakership. I don't think that's the case. I think she will suffer some damage. But what I think what both of them will try to do is to sort of brush this over. Other Democrats will -- have been rising to her defense in the House. And what -- what -- the casualty that's going to come out of this is not only, to some extent, her reputation, but, more importantly, the Democrats, led by Nancy Pelosi, were calling for all sorts of investigations about what happened on these interrogation issues back in the Bush years.

I imagine they're going to call off those calls now, because, if they're going to have an investigation of what Republicans are doing, today's controversy will ensure that they have to investigate what she was told and when. And that's not in her interests to continue this, nor is it in the president's interests.

COOPER: But, I mean, isn't that just incredibly cynical and just kind of, I guess, typical, I guess, a lot of people would say about Washington, that -- that -- I mean, she basically accused CIA officers of going to Congress and lying to their faces, misleading them, which is -- I mean, it -- that's a huge deal.

And if -- if that is true, the public should know about that, because that -- that needs to be rectified, and that needs to be stopped. And unless a light is shined on it, it won't. And, if it's not true, then that says an awful lot about Nancy Pelosi.

GERGEN: Well, I think that they're -- listen, I think there are people who were saying, we need more transparency. We need to get to the bottom of things. It's going to be hard for them to back away from that.

It just seems to me the president has been arguing all along, this is the past; we need to point to the future.

And her statement tonight, you know, the one she just issued, as Tom foreman said a short while ago, really says, let's -- I -- I don't want to continue this fight; let's move on to the future.

But is it cynical? Of course. But, you know, this is Washington politics. If the Republicans were now in charge of the Congress, of course, they would have hearings, and they would get into this. But, with the Democrats in charge, it's in the nature of the power -- of the party that's in power, when things come up that are inconvenient, not to explore them very deeply.

COOPER: So, does, then -- Nancy Pelosi has said, though, that she wants, you know, a truth and reconciliation commission, investigations into this. Does, then, that -- does -- now do you think she doesn't really want that? Because any investigation into this would look into whether or not she was telling the truth, what she knew and when she knew it.

GERGEN: Well, I think that she...


GERGEN: I imagine her calls for this will grow fainter and fainter over the next days. Her primary interest now is to get back to the agenda at hand of the economy, health care bill, and an energy bill. It is not to do this. Now, she was on the warpath, but she's gotten caught in a series of situations where, look, let's not -- she -- and Nancy Pelosi may well be telling the truth.

After all, Senator Graham, a Democrat at that time, recollects in a different briefing about the same time that he was not told about water-boarding. There are other Democrats who have said that they were not told.

So, you know, the truth may be on her side, but I just don't think she wants to open up this investigation and be on the griddle for a while. That will -- that will weaken her whole -- as leader and her capacity to get the agenda done.

COOPER: It's so fascinating to me just, as someone who is, you know, outside of Washington, to see a situation -- I mean, it's rare you see a situation where, clearly, somebody is lying, somebody's not telling the truth.

And, yet...

GERGEN: That's right.

COOPER: ... we all know this. We all see this. I mean, this can be seen around the world right now. And we also, based on what you're saying, kind of think it will never be found out, because no one really wants to know. These people in Washington don't really want to know, because it's not in -- in either of their interests, and they're willing to just kind of move on.

And then these kind of things happen again. Lies keep getting told.

GERGEN: Well -- but, Anderson, I think you're right, but it is possible -- these things happened seven years ago. I mean, people's memories, you know, change. You can convince yourself of something that's happened seven years ago, and it was black, and you may remember it as white.

So, it may be that her -- she's wanted to convince herself of this for a long time. I'm not so sure it's outright lying by one or the other. What I do know is that she -- she impugned the honesty and the professionalism of people at the CIA, longtime professional CIA officers.

They came up there in good faith to brief her and others. And, when she did that, she threw down the gauntlet, and Leon Panetta had to pick it up. But I'm just telling you, as with so many things in Washington, it takes a long time to sort out the truth. It's not a -- there are no direct paths to the truth in Washington on these controversies.

COOPER: That's a good phrase, no direct path to the truth. It's a sad statement, I guess. David Gergen, appreciate it. Thanks, David.


COOPER: If you're interested in seeing...

GERGEN: Thank you.

COOPER: ... seeing Leon Panetta's full memo to his staffers at the CIA, we put it online at You can also listen to Rush Limbaugh's full comments on Pelosi.

You can also join the live chat which is happening right now at, talk with other viewers who are watching, as well as Erica Hill and myself.

Up next, Fareed Zakaria on the battle against the Taliban happening now in Pakistan, a big battle, nearly one million fleeing for their lives. And the safety of nuclear weapons, that is in question as well. We will have that.

Also ahead tonight: witnesses to crimes being labeled snitches and killed before they can testify. Tonight, you are going to hear about one man that -- who saw a crime, tried to do the right thing. And guess what? He paid with his life. He was gunned down in front of his baby girl. How to stop this insidious stop-snitching movement, we will explore that.

And, later, a man, a kayak, and that waterfall -- a record- breaking plunge. That's right, the guy went over the waterfall in the Kayak. You have got to see it. It's all caught on tape -- when 360 continues.


COOPER: Right now, in Pakistan, in the Swat Valley, there is an all-out war on the Taliban. Nearly a million people have fled for their lives. They're still fleeing. They're fleeing the Taliban and they're fleeing the Pakistani military's attack on them.

Now, for these million displaced people, life has been a desperate struggle. They're jammed into camps, homes like this one that our Reza Sayah visited in this "360 Dispatch."


REZA SAYAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: As the battle rages on between the Taliban and Pakistani troops in the Swat Valley, hundreds of thousands of people have fled, and many of them have come 150 miles away to the federal capital of Islamabad, and here to Rawalpindi.

Now, one thing we can tell you about Pakistanis, they are some of the most loyal people in the world. When their families need help, they always come through. And we're going to show you an example.

This is the home of Amina Beebee (ph). And, believe it or not, she's taken in 50 family members, family members who lived in Swat, but have fled the area because they just thought it was too dangerous. And her home is literally these two rooms. It's this one room here and then another room over there. Five families totaling 50 people have packed in here. Among the family members are 20 children.


COOPER: Amazing. Amazing. Reza mentioned that those refugees were in Rawalpindi. Remember, that is the military headquarters of nuclear-armed Pakistan. And the fighting is only about a two-hour drive away.

With that going on, there's a new American commander in neighboring Afghanistan, a lot to talk about.

Joining us now for tonight's "360 Dispatch," world affairs another Fareed Zakaria, host of "GPS" here on CNN.

How is the Pakistani military doing in their battle? As we have been talking about, 80 percent of the military is usually focused on India. It's about a million-man military. It's a huge military undertaking now. They're focusing now on the Taliban. How are they doing?

FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN WORLD AFFAIRS ANALYST: You know, it does prove something the Pakistani military have often said to -- to people like me, when we have said, you're not focused enough.

And their feeling is, look, this is an annoyance. If we start moving our divisions, if we start moving in full force, we can crush these guys. We will prevail. And you can see that that's happening.

But you also see the cost, because they are, in effect, launching a kind of conventional war in Swat.

COOPER: Right. They're not fighting a counterinsurgency. They don't know how to fight a counterinsurgency.

ZAKARIA: Right. And just think about it, a million people displaced. I don't know the total population of Swat offhand, but I'm guessing it's not more than five million, six million. So, this is a very substantial percentage of the people in the area that have been displaced. This is not how you do counterinsurgency.

COOPER: It reminds me of, you know, the -- paraphrasing the American officer during Vietnam who said, you know, we have to destroy the village in order to save it.

I mean, is the Pakistani military destroying -- destroying Swat? They're hitting it with a very, you know, big hammer. They're not really -- it's not surgical strikes. It's not finesse.

ZAKARIA: No. And the danger here is that you create so much instability...

COOPER: Right. ZAKARIA: ... that, unless you plan to sit there and really rebuild it, what happens is, in that instability, you have displaced the local authority. You have -- you have killed local politics. And what rises up in its place are the thugs, the gangsters, the extremists.

COOPER: You -- you also create anger. I mean, that's what an insurgency -- that's what terrorists are all about, is, they want to provoke -- they don't have enough numbers, so they want to provoke an overwhelming response that's going to alienate local people and rally people to their cause.

ZAKARIA: This is -- you're exactly right.

These are the fears. Right now, one has to say the Pakistani army does seem to have the upper hand. It is moving -- the Taliban militias are moving out. But the danger is precisely what you're saying. They're creating a political climate which is not going to be receptive to a long -- long-term victories there.

COOPER: You had an interview with the former Pakistani Pervez Musharraf. You asked him about -- about -- about the Taliban and the conflict. I want to play some of what he said.


PERVEZ MUSHARRAF, FORMER PAKISTANI PRESIDENT: Pakistan is a victim of what is happening in Afghanistan.

The world and the United States and whatever discussion we have had is to look as if Pakistan -- that everything is in Pakistan. Sir, half of Afghanistan is under control of Taliban, of Mullah Omar. If you control here, if you are successful against Taliban and al Qaeda in Pakistan, let me assure you, the battle is not over, because Afghanistan is Afghanistan, and they will continue.

You succeed in Afghanistan, you will succeed in Pakistan.


COOPER: He's had a long hate relationship with the leader of Afghanistan. He's basically putting all the blame on Afghanistan.

But it's interesting. I mean, I was there, I was in Afghanistan talking to U.S. intelligence personnel a couple years ago. And they all said, look, we know Mullah Omar is living in and around Quetta in Pakistan, and the Pakistanis know where he is.

So, is it a little disingenuous for Musharraf to be saying -- basically putting all the blame on Afghanistan for what's happening inside Pakistan?

ZAKARIA: Well, this is the longstanding rivalry that is in many ways at the heart of the reason we can't solve this problem so easily.

The Pakistan really suspect that Afghanistan is anti-Pakistani, an Indian agent, they often say. And the result is that they don't crack down on the -- on the bad guys who are destabilizing Afghanistan. They don't seem to crack down hard enough. They -- you know, the militants who go back into Afghanistan and give Karzai, the president of Afghanistan, trouble, the Pakistani military tends to give them a free pass.

The militant who are killing Pakistanis, they take on. The problem is, these guys are all the same now. And, so, what you heard from President Musharraf is in a way part of the problem, which is, this intense rivalry between the two countries, the two governments seems to have gotten a little bit better at the level of the two presidents.

They had that meeting with Obama, but they're still very deep- rooted national rivalries. You know, we come in, Anderson, into these situations as the United States, and we don't realize we're coming into a very complicated regional dynamic. And their feeling is, one day, the United States is going to be gone. We're still going to be stuck here. We need to keep all our options open.

COOPER: Well, Fareed Zakaria, appreciate it. Thanks very much.

Fareed has an exclusive interview with Pervez Musharraf. It's going to air Sunday 1:00 p.m. Eastern time right here on CNN on "GPS," on the program.

Fareed, thanks again. Appreciate it.

Coming up next tonight: a new swine flu outbreak and more schools closing because of it? We thought this thing had gone away. Apparently, it hasn't. We will have details.

Also tonight, Nobel Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi, she's been under house arrest for more than a dozen years, stuck in her own home. But now she's been taken to jail in Myanmar -- in Myanmar, which is also called Burma. The reason why involves a guy from Missouri. It's a bizarre story. We will let you know the details. A Mormon from Missouri traveled halfway around the world, then swam across a lake to sneak into her home.

How he did it, why he did it, that's the mystery. We will have details.

And one of President Obama's old political adversaries and sharpest critics is now under arrest over the president's visit to Notre Dame. We will tell you why -- tonight on 360.


COOPER: Still ahead: the American man a mystery, his ties to a Nobel Prize winner, if any, and the brutal Southeast Asian regime holding them both under arrest tonight.

First, Erica Hill joins us in a 360 news and business bulletin -- Erica. ERICA HILL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, General Motors eliminating 1,100 dealerships, it is the first step in is plan to shutter as many as 3,600, or about 40 percent, by 2010 -- that news coming just one day after Chrysler announced plans to drop a quarter of its dealers, all part of its bankruptcy restructuring. Now, the combined closures by Chrysler and GM will result in an estimated 140,000 jobs lost.

Four American found dead in Tijuana -- the bodies of two men and two women all from Southern California discovered inside a car on Saturday. Each one had been beaten, strangled, and bound with tape on their wrists and ankles.

New York City now temporarily closing three additional public schools where students have swine flu symptoms -- that brings the total number of closed schools to six. Among the ill is an assistant principal, now hospitalized with the H1N1 virus.

In Buffalo, police jumping into action to save a 23-month-old boy -- parents flagged the officers down after their baby suffered an allergic reaction and stopped breathing. You're looking at some of the surveillance footage here. The police gave the baby CPR, then rushed into a local hospital, where he remains in critical condition.

And a bit of a novel anti-noise campaign: lollipops. Next week, clubs...


HILL: Yes. Clubs and pubs in Southwest England are going to hand out lollipops to customers as they're heading home for the night. Apparently, if rowdy club-goers have their mouths full, they won't be able to make as much unnecessary noise.

COOPER: You know, this -- this is actually a pet peeve of mine in England.

HILL: Lollipops?

COOPER: You know, we all think -- yes. I mean, I love England. I love the British people. It's a great place.

HILL: But?

COOPER: But, if you are on a street at 11:00 or whenever it is that the pubs close in England...

HILL: They close at 11:00. That's my pet peeve.

COOPER: ... it is so disgusting.

I mean, we all think of, like, the British people as these elegant...

HILL: It is kind of gross. COOPER: ... sort of well-dressed people. I mean, it is -- they pour out of the pubs. They puke. They urinate on the streets. It is the most disgusting place on the planet in those hours when the pubs close.


HILL: I have one question for you, though.

COOPER: I don't think the lollipops are going to do the trick.

They need, like -- like, Gobstoppers or something. I mean, it is so disgusting, the stuff that pours out.


COOPER: It's really unbelievable. Have you ever seen this?

HILL: How do you really feel?


COOPER: You have hit a nerve with this story. Seriously, it's -- it's stunning how...


HILL: I didn't realize it was going to hit such a nerve.

COOPER: It's disgusting.

HILL: I just thought it was kind of a silly idea. But look at you go!

COOPER: Have you seen London -- what London becomes at, like, 11:00, when the pubs close?

HILL: I have, yes. It's not pretty.

COOPER: It's unbelievable, yes, not pretty at all. All right.

HILL: Maybe it's because it's too early to close.


COOPER: All right.

I'm now going to be barred from England forever.

HILL: Forever. You're going to go on that new list.

COOPER: I know, me and what's-his-face.

Next on 360: Prosecutors say he died for doing the right thing. This story, you have got to hear, a man who witnessed a murder gunned down, killed because he was about to testify. Now, he had been labeled a snitch. A call by rappers to stop snitching is killing people across our country, stopping crimes from getting solved. How bad has it gotten? You are going to find out tonight.

Plus, Nobel Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi imprisoned -- after more than a decade under house arrest, the story of why she's been put in jail is even stranger. An American snuck into her home for reasons that aren't entirely clear. We're going to try to figure that out ahead.

And a dangerous stunt and one you have to see -- a man attempts to kayak down a towering waterfall. We will show you the incredible outcome -- ahead.


COOPER: Tonight, an important new update on a story that we have been following for some time on this program, the destructive and dangerous effort by rappers and criminals to stop people from cooperating with police. They're calling anyone who cooperates a snitch.

Now, the stop-snitching message is fueled by DVDs like this one. It's also worn on clothes. It's embraced by some hip-hop stars. Some of the witnesses are threatened, some warned. Tonight, prosecutors in Baltimore say one was murdered for trying to tell the truth.

In just a moment, we're going to talk to a congressman who's pushing legislation to better protect witnesses.

But, first, Joe Johns has this report.


JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Baltimore is known for witnesses wiped out before they can testify in court.

Carl Lackl's story shows why.

MARGE SHIPLEY, MOTHER OF MURDER VICTIM: He said, "Mom, you're never going to guess what I saw."

And I said, "What?"

He said, "There was a guy murdered. And I called the police."

And I said, "Oh, Carl, what did you do?" because I knew that was not a good thing. OK, being up in the city, I just knew. And he said, "Mom, I will be all right."

JOHNS: Lackl happened to walk into this alley when a gunman came running up from a murder scene. Later, police picked up a suspect who was identified by Lackl. More than a year later, when sitting outside his home with his baby girl and 11-year-old niece, a teenager in a car opened fire on Lackl in front of the kids.

SHIPLEY: I wanted to go back and hold him. God, I wanted to hold him so bad. And they told me it was a crime scene, and I would contaminate the crime scene.

And my (INAUDIBLE) daughter, child, when that horrible thing happened to him like that -- he died the worst death you can imagine.

JOHNS: Authorities said Lackl's murder was ordered from jail by the man he was going to testify against. Patrick Byers had ordered the hit using, believe it or not, a cell phone he had behind bars. He was recently convicted, and now faces four life sentences.

(on camera): Carl Lackl's death was gruesome. And just the threat of a similar fate has been enough to intimidate witnesses in Baltimore from testifying against alleged criminals. Gang members have been known to show up in court and stare down people testifying against them.

(voice-over): OK, staring is not illegal, but prosecutors viewed suspected intimidation so seriously that they put the families of 200 witnesses into a special program last year, some of whom were relocated to different parts of town.

And it's not just witnesses who are scared. It's juries, too. In this note from a trial last month, one jury foreman asked, "What steps we jurors need to take to ensure our safety."

Why is witness intimidation so bad here? In a lot of big cities, people who talk to authorities say they are demonized as snitches, rats. Stop snitching is a big refrain on the streets, captured in this local film nearly five years ago.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To all you rats and snitches lucky enough to cop one of these DVDs, I hope you catch AIDS in your mouth, and your lip's the first thing to die.



JOHNS: But the larger problem is that cities like Baltimore simply don't have the kind of money and personnel that the federal government gets for witness protection.

SHIPLEY: They should be passing laws and doing the right thing. My son did the right thing, but you can't count on too many of them to do the right thing.

JOHNS: Some say, that needs to change.

Joe Johns, CNN, Baltimore.


Maryland Congressman Elijah Cummings introduced a bill in Congress which could provide grants to local witness protection programs and to bolster the efforts of prosecutors to protect people who testify.

Representative Cummings joins me now.

Thanks so much for being with us, Congressman.

You know, I don't think a lot of Americans understand the -- the pervasiveness of the fear of coming forward now to testify in trials, to -- to just admit to what you have seen. And a lot of it, I think, is based on this whole stop-snitching, these DVDs, this whole marketing, especially in African-American communities, which -- which is essentially telling people, don't talk to the police, don't talk to authorities if you have seen a crime.

How pervasive is that -- that attitude of, don't be a snitch?

REP. ELIJAH CUMMINGS (D), MARYLAND: Anderson, it's extremely pervasive in Maryland and in Baltimore. It's estimated that, in violent offenses, sometimes as much as 90 to 100 percent of the cases involve some type of witness intimidation. And it -- and it happens all over the place.

Keep in mind, in Baltimore, is a city where we had the Dawson murders where seven people, a family of seven, were incinerated in their home because they simply wanted to cooperate with the police.

COOPER: And what's so alarming about this -- I did a piece for "60 Minutes" about this. We talked a lot about it here on CNN on my program over the last year or two.

If you were a snitch -- a snitch used to be somebody, a criminal who was ratting out other criminals. But now the notion of what a snitch is has expanded to anybody who witnesses a crime and does what any good citizen should do, which is come forward and just admit what they say, you get labeled a snitch.

CUMMINGS: Yes. And the fact is, is that in Baltimore, a person could be standing at a bus stop. There could be 20 people. Somebody could come up, kill that -- kill one of the people. Everybody knows who did it. And nobody will tell. Nobody.

COOPER: And you have even been targeted in one of these "stop snitching" videos by name. They were very critical of you.

CUMMINGS: That's right. Our state's attorney, Fredricka Jessame (ph), and I did a commercial, Anderson, asking people to cooperate with the police. And immediately thereafter, a "stop snitching" video came out, basically that pretty much targeted Ms. Jessame and I.

COOPER: Your bill would allocate federal money for local witness protection. How likely is this thing going to pass?

CUMMINGS: We have pretty much been guaranteed that it will pass out of the judiciary committee. As a matter of fact, they voted on it last week. It was, like, 14-2. But they didn't have a quorum. So Mr. Conyers, the chair of the committee, has assured me that it will be -- it should make passage this week when they get a quorum. COOPER: What do you say to those people who -- who say, you know, "If you talk to police, you're a snitch?" What is your message to them?

CUMMINGS: What my message is, is that we're going to do everything in our power to help them and protect them.

COOPER: Well, it's rare that a congressperson is personally targeted in a campaign like this, that you have been targeted in this "stop snitching," as they call it, campaign that they are waging.

Congressman Cummings, we appreciate your time tonight. Thank you.

CUMMINGS: Thank you.


COOPER: If you want to see more, go to to watch the Baltimore Police Department's video, called "Keep Talking" and find out why they actually thanked the people who produced the "Stop Snitching" video.

You can also join the live chat there at

Coming up next on 360, behind bars in Burma. A man from Missouri enters the country, tries to speak to Nobel Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi, who's under house arrest, and he ends up arrested and facing years in prison. And she has now been rearrested. The question is, how did this guy get there? Why was he there at all? We'll have more on that mystery.

Also, protesting the president. More demonstrators expected this weekend at Notre Dame where Mr. Obama will deliver the commencement address. Some say his pro-choice platform has no place at the Catholic school. More on the controversy ahead.

And new details on the dogs at the center of this incredible story. I don't know -- I hope you were watching the program last night. We showed you this video. A dog was injured on a roadway. That's the dog there, the lab. And then its son comes to the rescue.

Tonight, what is her condition, and where are they now? We'll tell you, coming up on 360.


COOPER: Tonight a Vietnam vet from Missouri is behind bars half a world away after a mysterious mission involving a Nobel Prize winner under house arrest. This bizarre case is unfolding in Myanmar, a country also known as Burma.

This isolated southeast Asian nation is run by a brutal military regime that silences critics and suppresses its own people. They've been doing that for a while now. And now the regime is holding an American citizen, accusing him of trying to reach a pro-democracy activist. Take a look.


COOPER (voice-over): It's an understatement to say the relationship between this woman and this man is a mystery. She is Aung San Suu Kyi, a 63-year-old Nobel Peace Prize laureate, who following democratic elections in Burma, was blocked from becoming prime minister and placed under house arrest by the ruling military junta for most of the past two decades.

He is John Yettaw, a 53-year-old American from a small town in Missouri. How did he suddenly get involved in Burmese politics?

Last week Yettaw allegedly made his way into Suu Kyi's tightly- guarded compound in Burma and swam across a lake to her house, using homemade flippers. He spent the night there, a violation of Suu Kyi's house arrest.

Suu Kyi's lawyer told CNN she asked Yettaw to leave, but he refused, saying he was tired from his swim. Now both Suu Kyi and Yettaw are in prison. Some human rights activists think that's exactly what the Burmese government wanted.

T. KUMAR, AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL: Anything unusual happening in Myanmar, especially in terms of Aung San Suu Kyi, we always look with suspicion, because the government of Myanmar always tries their level best to find an excuse to lock Aung San Suu Kyi up.

COOPER: T. Kumar, himself a former political prisoner, has studied Burmese politics for more than a decade.

KUMAR: There are all kinds of conspiracy theories floating around. One is, of course, whether he is working with the military. We don't know.

COOPER: There aren't any known connections between Yettaw and Burmese politics, so there are many unanswered questions. Among them, how is the unemployed Yettaw able to pay for his trip from Missouri to Burma? How did he enter a country known for being strictly closed to foreigners? And how could he sneak, undetected, into Suu Kyi's heavily-guarded home?

Reports say Yettaw, who's a Mormon, told Suu Kyi he came to pray with her. Friends and neighbors describe him as friendly and intelligent but also reclusive.

MIKE ASSEL, JOHN YETTAW'S NEIGHBOR: I would say around here he sort of pretty much keeps to himself. He has his own -- I don't know if agenda's the right word, but he has his own priorities, and he's working forward those.

COOPER: Neighbors say Yettaw, father of seven children, was writing a book on faith-based heroism. It's also reported he attempted to reach Suu Kyi last year but was unsuccessful.

Yettaw could face 15 years in prison for immigration violations and trespassing.

Activists say the timing of this incident could not be worse. If Suu Kyi is convicted, which is almost a certainty, she'll be unable to be a candidate in next year's elections.

KUMAR: They are using an incident to -- to punish the victim, thereby also -- also ensure that Aung San Suu Kyi is not free for the upcoming election.

COOPER: Suu Kyi begins trial on Monday, a lengthy process according to her supporters, who have little hope she'll be dealt with fairly.

Yettaw's trial also starts Monday. He has yet to be given an attorney.


COOPER: Grammy-Award-Winning singer/songwriter Ani DiFranco is also an activist and outspoken on Burma's treatment of opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi. Ani DiFranco joins me now from New Orleans.

You've been vocal in your support of Aung San Suu Kyi for a long time. There are a lot of people, though, in this country who don't really know her story. Why is she such an important figure?

ANI DIFRANCO, MUSICIAN/ACTIVIST: Well, I think her situation is sort of analogous to Nelson Mandela, you know. She is the leader of the democratic movement in Burma. She has been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. She's an incredibly inspirational figure. I think for all people, not just the people of Burma.

COOPER: She has been confined to her home, a home which is literally crumbling around her, for 13 of the past 19 years. I mean, this is a woman who was elected to run this country, and yet she hasn't been given that opportunity. And she's been a prisoner for 13 years. I mean, it's just extraordinary.

DIFRANCO: It is -- it is extraordinary. Yes, she was -- her party was elected democratically in 1990, I believe, against all odds. And the military dictatorship, that was not what they had in mind, so she just arrested her.

COOPER: You mentioned her in the same breath as Mandela. And it's probably an apt analogy in that Mandela, you know, after spending his lifetime in prison, could have very easily given into hate and could have very easily, you know, preached hate as he left prison, but he didn't do that. In fact, he was embracing those who had imprisoned him.

And Aung San Suu Kyi has a similar way of looking at things. I mean, this...


COOPER: ... person who has been imprisoned and had horrible things done to her, has not seen her children, has not seen her husband, has been separated from her own family all this time, this has not made her a hateful person.

DIFRANCO: She still speaks about, you know, the people in the government and the military there as not being the enemy of, you know, the citizens. And that, you know, you shouldn't look at them as your enemy. You should look at them with compassion, as fellow victims of a very problematic situation.

COOPER: The first story I ever did as a reporter was I snuck into Burma and hooked up with some students fighting the Burmese government. You traveled to Burma a few years ago. You say the trip was life-changing and mind-altering. How did you get involved in Aung San Suu Kyi's cause?

DIFRANCO: Well, I contributed a song to benefit record put together by an organization called U.S. Campaign for Burma. And then they invited me to go there and bear witness to the situation firsthand.

So I went, and we spent about a week, mostly in Thailand on the Burmese border, going to, you know, refugee camps. And I met with political prisoners, former prisoners, you know, people who had twisted legs and, you know, who had been crippled by torture in prisons there, you know, because they were fighting for democracy.

COOPER: Is change possible in Burma, and can people around the world actually make a difference? Because there's a lot of folks like yourself who have been active on this for a long time. And yet, you know, the money pours into the government through big oil contracts and big multinational companies.


COOPER: And -- and Aung San Suu Kyi's still in prison.

DIFRANCO: Right. Well, I think change is absolutely possible. I mean, it's amazing what the Burmese people themselves have been doing, you know? And I think with a little bit of help, they could truly succeed in gaining democracy for their country. I think that America should lead the charge to help them, to answer their cries.

COOPER: Well, Ani DiFranco, I appreciate all your efforts and appreciate you being on the program tonight.

DIFRANCO: Thank you so much.

COOPER: Thank you.

Well, coming up next, President Obama at the center of controversy. The president speaking at Notre Dame's graduation on Sunday. His pro-choice beliefs are prompting protests. Today there were several arrests. We'll have the latest.

Also, some incredible video you have to see. And even then you may not believe it. A kayaker takes on that waterfall, sets a world record. We'll show you how it all ends.

And on the way to break, take a listen to the music of Ani DiFranco.



COOPER: Coming up, a dangerous free-fall: a kayaker plunges down a waterfall to attempt a new world record, all of it caught on tape.

First, Erica Hill has a "360 Bulletin" -- Erica.

ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR: Anderson, Army Major Steven Hutchison is the oldest U.S. service member to die in Iraq. The 60-year-old died in Basra of wounds from a roadside bomb. He joined the Army in 1966. He served two tours in Vietnam, and then retired from the military 22 years later.

He returned to active duty, however, after his wife's death from cancer two years ago.

At Notre Dame University 21 people arrested, charged with trespassing, and among them, former Republican presidential candidate Alan Keyes and a Roman Catholic priest. They were protesting President Obama's commencement address this Sunday, saying a pro- choice president should not speak at the Catholic university.

The California hospital where Nadya Suleman gave birth to octuplets fined $250,000 by the state, because nearly two dozen medical workers, including doctors, illegally viewed her medical records.

And a Colgan Airlines flight loses its landing gear. Amateur video obtained by "The Toronto Sun" shows a tire and a piece of the wheel assembly disintegrating when Flight 3268 lands in Buffalo, New York. Seventy-three passengers were on board the flight.

A spokeswoman for the airline says no one was ever in danger.

And the reason we point this out that it's Colgan Air is, that is, of course, the company that was contracted to fly Continental Flight 3407, which crashed into Buffalo earlier this year.

COOPER: Scary video, that.

All right. Time for our "Beat 360" winners. Nothing scary about that. It's our daily challenge to viewers to come up with a better caption than we come up with a photo we put on the blog every day. Pretty simple.

Tonight's picture: President Obama bends over so the son of a staff member can pat his head during a family visit to the Oval Office. That's a very cute picture.

Our staff winner tonight is Maureen. Her caption: "Crap, who left the Krazy Glue on my desk?"

HILL: Ooh. That would be a problem.

COOPER: Can we say "crap" on TV?

HILL: I think we just did twice.

COOPER: I won't say it again.

HILL: Or you did. I didn't say it.

COOPER: That's right.

Our viewer winner is Raymond from Tempe, Arizona. His caption: "Kid performing a Vulcan mind meld to find out where the official White House cookie jar is."

Hey, I just saw the "Star Trek" movie.

HILL: Really?


HILL: How very timely that is.

COOPER: Exactly.

HILL: How was the flick?

COOPER: How was what?

HILL: How was the flick?

COOPER: Oh, the flick. You said, "the flick." I was like -- I enjoyed it. Right now, "Beat 360" -- I digress.

HILL: It was no "Beat 360."

COOPER: Right.

Up next, video that you're going to just be talking about all weekend. A man versus waterfall. Take a look at this guy. A very brave kayaker sets out to break a world record going over that waterfall right there. We'll show you how he did.

And CIA director Leon Panetta takes aim at top Democrat Nancy Pelosi. She says the agency misled her. He calls her claims a distraction. But who's right? Who's lying? We're "Keeping Them Honest," ahead.


COOPER: All right, Erica, an up-close look tonight, a death- defying feat. Only a daredevil or perhaps a lunatic would attempt. And do not attempt this in a waterfall near you. Twenty-two-year-old Tyler Bradt takes a plunge over a 186-foot waterfall in a kayak in Washington state just to -- and I quote -- "show what humans are capable of accomplishing." It is jaw-dropping footage you have to see to believe. Take a look.


TYLER BRADT, EXTREME KAYAKER: We're standing here at Palouse Falls. We just came here today just to kind of get an idea, you know. This is my third time here in, like, three weeks. I kind of think that it's, like, between 160, 180 feet tall, which is a little while, you know. Nobody has, you know, even come remotely close to running anything this big. But I don't know. It's kind of crazy. I'm thinking about potentially running this thing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Come on. Where are you, bud? Where are you, buddy? He's in the boat! Yes!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Dude, down by the right wall, in the shadow.


COOPER: Unbelievable. How can anyone take on a 186-foot fall and live to tell about it? Only Tyler Bradt can answer that question. He joins us now by phone.

Tyler, you're talking to Anderson and Erica. What was that moment like, going over the falls? Were you -- were you terrified?

BRADT (via phone): Well, I guess that -- that would be one way to put it. Another way that I'd put it is just being incredibly focused upon that moment.

Going over the waterfall, it takes a lot of precision and a lot of subtle finesse to be able to ensure that your kayak is vertical and landing correctly. So I'd say, more than anything, I was just in the moment, focused on what I was doing.

COOPER: But in the video, you basically -- you disappear very quickly. What happens after you disappear? Why didn't you fall out of the kayak?

BRADT: Well, towards the end of the lip of the waterfall where I disappear, I pretty much fell back on the visualizations I had of it before. I just continued to tuck forward with the free-fall, making sure that my kayak was completely vertical, and then just hanging on for the ride. It's an incredible feeling, falling that far in a kayak. And those 3 1/2 seconds feel like an eternity. It's a feeling that is truly indescribable.

HILL: It must feel like an eternity. I understand you actually tried four times previously. But when we get to the bottom there, kind of what Anderson is talking about, when they see you disappear from that video for a few seconds, can you see anything when you're in all of that water? I mean, is there ever a moment when you're worried you won't come out of it? BRADT: Well, you're completely encased in the water. So, of course, you don't have a lot of visuals going on at that point. And you're certainly very confident that -- that you're going to come out of it. How you come out of it is pretty much the question.

HILL: But I saw that your paddle snapped. So you only had half of it at the end. When you hit the water at the bottom of the falls, are you still vertical? And if so, why don't you get, like, propelled right out of the kayak?

BRADT: Well, you want to enter vertically so that you penetrate very deep into the water and decelerate over a longer period of time. That minimizes the impact that you're taking.

So entering perfectly minimizes that impact. Of course, there still is a lot of force happening. It's not uncommon to break paddles off of much, much smaller drops. I wasn't surprised that my paddle snapped.

And it was certainly one of the biggest hits I had ever taken. It hurt. I'm not going to lie. But yes, I was -- yes, it was wild.

COOPER: It's unbelievable. Tyler Bradt, congratulations. Obviously, I'm sure you agree, do not try this, anyone watching this. You are a professional, correct?

BRADT: Correct. This is something that we've been working up to for years now. So we've been putting one foot in front of the other. This isn't just a crazy, mindless jump over a waterfall. This is actually a calculated decision. Yes, and I do not -- certainly do not encourage anybody else to be doing something like this.

COOPER: Well, I'm so glad you made it. And the video is incredible. Tyler Bradt, thank you so much.

BRADT: Thank you.

COOPER: Still ahead tonight, a smuggler's plot goes awry. Customs officials find 14 live songbirds -- check out this picture -- those are 14 live songbirds hidden in some guy's pants in California. It's tonight's "Shot." We'll explain.

And at the top of the hour, Pakistan readies a major offensive against the Taliban. Nearly a million people fleeing for safety, an effort to try to save the country, defeat the Taliban. Fareed Zakaria joins us with the latest.


COOPER: All right, Erica, time for tonight's "Shot." A bizarre story of bird smuggling. Two California men -- this happened, of course, in California -- have been...

HILL: Bird smuggling, never bizarre.

COOPER: That's right. For smuggling Asian songbirds into the country in their pants. Take a look at the photo. Those are 14 songbirds dangling from little sleeves hooked to a cloth wrapped around that guy's skinny little legs.

HILL: Those poor birds.

COOPER: Yes. As if that didn't clinch the case, customs officials report finding bird droppings on his socks and tail feathers visible under his pants.

HILL: You know, this is why it's so important to adjust your hem when you're smuggling birds.

COOPER: Yes. "Excuse me, sir. Are those tail feathers in your pants?" It was a dead giveaway.

You can see all the most recent "Shots" on our Web site at

Also tonight, a "Shot" follow. Last night, we told you about the heroic New York City dog who braved rush hour traffic to protect his injured mom. Even the police had a hard time getting past him.

Today, good news. Chili, the 9-year-old yellow Lab, was treated for a broken leg and we're told is doing very well. Aww, look at that.

Meanwhile, the other dog, her son, is safe at home with their owner. And we hope both will be reunited very soon. Aww. Oh, there's the broken leg. Look at that.

HILL: Poor Chili.

COOPER: All right. Coming up tonight, who is lying about waterboarding? House Speaker Nancy Pelosi who says she wasn't briefed about it or CIA chief Leon Panetta, who says she was? Both cannot be right. We're "Keeping Them Honest," next.