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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees
Iran Clamps Down; Families of Imprisoned Journalists Speak Out; America's High: The Case For and Against Pot
Aired June 16, 2009 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Tonight: Iran clamps down, and the death toll is worse than we thought, seven confirmed dead, unconfirmed reports of many more -- what it looks like on the ground in Iran, pictures the government does not want you to see, forces squaring off in the streets, people crying freedom from the rooftops, Iranians getting word to the world against some tough odds of what their government is doing to them ,they say, and trying to keep secret.
Also tonight, new developments on the fate of two American reporters sentence to hard time in North Korea at a secret trial. Today, for the first time, North Korea reveals the alleged evidence against Laura Ling and Euna Lee.
And a 360 exclusive: For the first since their sentencing, Lisa Ling and the husbands of Laura and Euna speak out.
Also, don't tell Smokey, but there is pot in his forest -- how Mexican drug cartels grow marijuana in American national parks. It's part of the coverage this week of "America's High: The Case For and Against Pot."
We begin, though, tonight with the turmoil in Iran and a quick note: The Iranian government does not want you to see much of what we are going to show you tonight. A good deal of the pictures and some of the information tonight is coming from nonprofessional eyes and ears on the ground.
The government did permit coverage of this loud, belligerent rally supporting President Ahmadinejad -- no coverage, though, allowed of the opposition forces' competing rally, this video, as you see, poor quality, taken by amateurs, tens of thousands of people heeding the call of opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi to remain calm, some people carrying placards reading, "Calmness will beat the bullets."
As part of their clampdown, reporters have been confined to their rooms. Troops are going door to door nationwide, taking satellite dishes. They're jamming radio transmissions.
State-run media did release grim new details about this shooting yesterday after the big opposition rally. It now says seven people were killed, six more than we thought yesterday.
You know, those are -- there are other unconfirmed reports of more deaths, this from Twitter users inside Iran, describing numerous deaths, including students killed by paramilitary forces at several universities around the country. But, again, those are entirely unconfirmed reports.
More now from Reza Sayah in Tehran.
REZA SAYAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Dueling mass rallies on a potential collision course in Tehran. In the heart of the capital, tens of thousands gathered in support of President Ahmadinejad in a state-organized rally. "Death to America," they chanted. "Death to the enemies of Iran."
Gholam Ali Haddad Adel, Iran's former parliament speaker and staunch supporter of President Ahmadinejad, had advice for disgruntled candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi.
GHOLAM ALI HADDAD ADEL, FORMER IRANIAN PARLIAMENT SPEAKER (through translator): It is -- you are duty-bound to respect the votes of the people, I tell my dear and respected brother Mr. Mousavi.
SAYAH: For the fourth day in a row, Mousavi supporters made it clear, this is one vote they do not accept.
Just a few kilometers away from the Ahmadinejad rally, throngs of protesters backing the former prime minister marched uptown. Despite fears of a violent clash between rival rallies, there were no reports of widespread violence.
The government also banned international media, including CNN, from covering or broadcasting images of rallies and demonstrations, an apparent effort to stop the world from seeing pictures like these.
In Iran, a gripping political drama has turned violent and deadly, and neither side appears willing to back down.
Several developments indicate Iran's ruling clerics are trying to ease the worst public unrest Iran has seen since the 1979 revolution. On Tuesday, the supreme leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, met with representatives of all four candidates. And the Guardian Council, Iran's highest legislative body, ordered a partial recount of the vote.
But a recount is not enough, says the Mousavi camp. In a telephone interview, a clearly energized adviser to Mr. Mousavi told CNN, Mousavi wants a new vote. But the government appears just as determined not to give in, escalating its crackdown on dissent on several fronts.
On Tuesday, there were reports that three leading reformists were arrested.
COOPER: And, as we continue to look at some of these images taken very amateur video, has the government told you and other members of the foreign media what will happen to you if you try to go out and cover these rallies? SAYAH: Well, Anderson, I spoke to a government official face-to- face. And he told me flat-out, "If you and a camera person go to these rallies and cover these demonstrations and broadcast images, we cannot guarantee your safety."
And, to me, that was a clear reference to Iran's baton-wielding riot police and members of the Basij, the plainclothes, the volunteer militia that we have seen riding in pairs throughout Tehran during these rallies, one of them steering the motorcycle, the other in the back wielding baton steel rods.
And they basically told us, go down there, but go down there at your own risk. We can't -- cannot guarantee your safety -- Anderson.
COOPER: So, what happens now? I mean, what's -- you know, it is -- a new day has just come. Is there -- are there more demonstrations planned?
SAYAH: No demonstrations planned.
But you can be sure, if today is like the previous four days, there's going to be spontaneous rallies on the part of supporters of Mir Hossein Mousavi, the disgruntled candidate.
And the bottom line is, our job is very challenging right now. And we are going to have to get very creative. We are going to have to try to find as many eyes and ears that we trust on the ground here that can report back to us, so that we can convey the information back across the world during a very, very critical time with a lot of stake -- Anderson.
COOPER: Well, stay safe.
Again, the death toll is seven officially, but there are these unconfirmed reports and allegations of other fatalities in Tehran and elsewhere. We simply don't know. We should say, we are hearing much of this from tweets and blogs and word on the street, unconfirmed.
There's a lot of uncertainty. It's chaotic, the Iranian government trying to keep the lid on. Right now, a lot of our video tonight is from amateurs, iReporters, and others.
This is video we just got, reportedly from Tehran University, rubble and what looks like a burned-out shell allegedly after paramilitary forces came through. Again, we can't independently verify what precisely we are looking at, what -- when it was taken or under what circumstances.
Let's try to get some perspective now from chief international correspondent Christiane Amanpour, who just left Iran last night, also Reza Aslan, author of "How to Win a Cosmic War," as well as political scientist Kaveh Afrasiabi, who has taught in Iran, in the States, and briefly consulted on nuclear talks with the Iranian government.
Christiane, you -- you had to leave Iran last night, visa expired. What do you tell us -- what can you tell us about the crackdown on foreign journalists that we have been hearing about?
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think what Reza said is correct.
As you can see, they can report. And, you know, you saw what we did when we were there. We were not censored. We were not prevented from being in the -- in the rallies. There were very tense moments. And we were, frankly, afraid of those hard-line Basij, the militia, who are in plainclothes, who have a fearsome reputation, and who we have seen wield their ugly batons and their tempers against both the protesters and the press.
But, you know, they are worried about those people. You know, and the last thing the Iranian government wants is journalists' blood on their hands. So, I think that's one of the reasons.
The big question is, what happens when all the visas expire and the journalists do have to leave? And they're not renewing them. What happens on the ground when -- when that takes place?
So far, it looks to me like the government has taken a decision to allow these protests on the streets and to sort of play out the political dilemma right now, the political confrontation on the street in a mostly peaceful way, as -- as you can see with these rallies over the last two days.
COOPER: But -- but, Christiane, it is not just concern over journalists' safety, I mean, that is preventing -- that is telling -- that is making the Iranian government say, well, look, don't go out to these -- these anti-Ahmadinejad rallies, because they are allowing coverage of the pro-Ahmadinejad rallies, no?
AMANPOUR: Well, they are not. They did not let the press go down there. That pro-Ahmadinejad rally was covered by Iranian state media, as far as I can gather. I was told that none -- none of our colleagues or others could go down to that either. I may be cover.
COOPER: So, Iranian state media is covering...
AMANPOUR: Yes. Yes.
COOPER: No, you're -- you are right. Iranian state media is covering the pro...
COOPER: ... but not covering the anti.
AMANPOUR: Well, yes.
And the Iranian state media never covered any of -- of -- of Mousavi's rallies before the election. Ahmadinejad had -- had sole access to the media throughout the election and now in the post- election period. So, that's absolutely right.
COOPER: OK. Reza, what -- what is your take on what is going on here?
REZA ASLAN, AUTHOR, "HOW TO WIN A COSMIC WAR: GOD, GLOBALIZATION, AND THE END OF THE WAR ON TERROR": Well, I think that this is no longer just about the disputed elections. This is about the very legitimacy of the government, which is why we are seeing all these unusual coalitions forming, so that very high-ranking clerics, in fact, the most senior ayatollahs in Iran, Ayatollah Montazeri and Ayatollah Sanei, have both issued fatwas condemning the vote-rigging.
You Have Ayatollah Rafsanjani, perhaps the second most powerful man in Iran, forming a coalition with former President Mohammad Khatami, both of whom are working behind the scenes to try to pressure the supreme leader to annul this vote.
And you even have now members of the military who have said very publicly that they refused to open fire on the protesters. I have to tell you, having lived through the revolution of 1979, this is eerily familiar.
COOPER: Kaveh, you have a different perspective. You don't believe that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad stole this -- this election. What makes you sure of that, when, in -- in the hometown of Mousavi, even Ahmadinejad won there by like 57-42 percent?
KAVEH AFRASIABI, IRANIAN POLITICAL SCIENTIST: Well, this is also an area where the supreme leader, who was from that region, is popular. Mr. Ahmadinejad himself speaks the language and has done a lot of work, not only in that region, but also in rural Iran, but in small towns, where the overwhelming majority of Iranian voters live.
You know, the -- the Mousavi supporters in the streets of Tehran are the winning party. And, somehow, they have led themselves to believe -- and this is really a case of misperception -- that they should have won in the rest of the country. And there is no evidence to corroborate that.
And, so far, we have not seen anything other than hearsay and scintilla of evidence to corroborate these large-scale violations that have been alleged by Mr. Mousavi and Mr. Karrubi.
So, really, the burden of proof is on these candidates, because they had their own independent monitors, in addition to two sets of official monitors, to document the violations and submit them to the election commission.
And, in my opinion, having sifted through the information, they have not carried that burden.
Christiane, what do you think about that?
AMANPOUR: Sorry. I don't know whether you saw me gesticulating there. But one of the problems was that, actually, there weren't monitors at all the polling stations. There were meant to be, but many of the Mousavi monitors weren't accredited. And I saw that with my own eyes, because we were at many of those polling stations in Tehran, which Mousavi won. It's one of the only places where the election officials say he actually won.
Many of those polling stations didn't have monitors. So -- so, that is an issue. Plus, one of the things that got the Mousavi camp all worried from the beginning of election day was this crackdown and -- and banning of the SMS messages.
As you know, Mr. Ahmadinejad, the incumbent, had the whole weight of the state behind him, the resources, the media. But Mousavi and the others had to have grassroots organizations to organize their rallies. And SMS text was the -- one the main ways they did it.
And, on election day, the texts were down. You couldn't text. And what they say is that that prevented them getting the sort of real-time information from all the exit polls.
And, if you remember, on the evening of election day, Mr. Mousavi held a press conference and said that, according to his campaign workers who had called in, that they had won. He used it -- he said definitely won.
And, then, immediately thereafter, out came the interior ministry, and said that, actually, no, initial results show that it's a 2-1 lead for Ahmadinejad. Now, even the most optimistic observers believed that it would be close, not -- not -- not the kind of -- of results that they saw.
That is what is causing the problem on the streets right now, that it didn't even go to a second round.
COOPER: And, Reza, where do you see...
AFRASIABI: But wait a second.
COOPER: Reza, where do you see it going now? I mean, where do you see -- if the Mousavi supporters want a redo of the election, the government is saying that this is not going to happen. How does this resolve itself, or does it?
ASLAN: It really remains to be seen.
There are some very interesting things that are taking place right now. Some of my sources in Iran say have told me that Ayatollah Rafsanjani, who is the head of the Assembly of Experts -- it's a 86- member clerical body that decides who will be the next supreme leader, and is, by the way, the only group that is empowered to remove the supreme leader from power, that they have issued an emergency meeting in Qom.
Now, Anderson, I have to tell you, there is only one reason for the Assembly of Experts to meet at this point, and that is to Actually talk about what to do about Khamenei.
So, this is what I'm saying, is that we are talking about the very legitimacy, the very foundation of the Islamic republic is up in the air right now. It is hard to say where this is going to go.
COOPER: We -- we -- we have to leave it there.
Kaveh Afrasiabi, we appreciate your time, Reza Aslan...
COOPER: ... Christiane Amanpour, as well.
As always, you can learn a lot more online at AC360.com, where, tonight, you can read about how the U.S. State Department is trying to work with Twitter to get information out of Iran. And, while you're there, join the live chat happening now. Let us know what you think at AC360.com.
Up next, an exclusive -- the people who care about Laura Ling and Euna Lee, their family members, speaking out tonight only to us, after North Korea reveals why it put the two in prison, hard labors for 12 years -- a reaction to the charges from Lisa Ling and the two husbands of Laura and Euna. You will only see it here.
Also, inside a corner of the national parks you have probably never seen before, where Mexican drug lords have illegal immigrants hard at work growing marijuana. That's right, foreign drug lords, illegal immigrants, heavily armed drug compounds right in America's national parks.
And, later, how easy is it for Californians to get a doctor to recommend medical marijuana and how widely available is it? "America's High: The Case For and Against Pot" all week -- only on 360.
We will be right back.
COOPER: In a moment, a 360 exclusive interview with the people who love and miss Laura Ling and Euna Lee. Laura and Euna are being held in North Korea, sentenced last week to a dozen years hard labor after a secret trial in the country's highest court.
Today, for the first time, North Korea's state-run news agency unveiled the purported evidence against these two, the evidence, one video recorder, six tapes, a digital camera and a souvenir stone taken, the North Koreans say, while crossing the Tumen River from China.
According to Pyongyang, the tapes documents Ling's and Lee's illegal entry into the country. The report goes on to say the pair admitted to their alleged offenses and admitted they were criminal acts committed with -- and I quote from the North Korea news agency -- "political motive to isolate and stifle the socialist system of North Korea by faking up moving images aimed at falsifying its human rights performance and hurling slanders and calumnies at it."
Again, that is according to North Korea's official news agency, which is an arm, of course, of the government.
Tonight Laura's sister, Lisa Ling, her husband, Iain Clayton, and Euna's husband, Michael Saldate, join us. They are speaking only to 360. And we are grateful they took the time.
Lisa, I'm sorry it's under these circumstances that we're talking.
North Korea now claims that Laura, your sister, and Euna have admitted committing crimes, crossing into the country illegally, prompted by what they are political motives. Do you believe that?
LISA LING, SISTER OF LAURA LING: Anderson, it's very challenging. We haven't heard much out of North Korea. So, in a way, we appreciated that they released these charges.
We will say again, as we have said before, that, when they left U.S. soil, they never intended to cross into North Korea. According to the charges, they -- they confessed. And, so, we know they're sorry. We are very sorry. And we hope that the North Korean government now will -- will show compassion, and just let them come home.
COOPER: Lisa, I mean, does it concern you that the North Korean government is saying that they were there for a smear campaign, not acknowledging that they were independent journalists?
LING: All we can say is that they -- they are journalists and they were doing their job. My sister has -- has been a journalist for years.
And that's really all we can say. You know, we weren't in the -- the courtroom. We don't know any sort of specifics, other than what was released. We just hope, you know, given the fact that we know the girls have apologized profusely, that they will let the girls come home to us. It's been -- it's been three months, and that's been too long for us.
COOPER: Iain, what was your reaction last week -- I mean, it is a stupid question -- but -- but, when Laura and Euna, when you actually heard 12 years hard labor was the sentence?
IAIN CLAYTON, HUSBAND OF LAURA LING: Well, Anderson, obviously, you know, I was -- I was devastated by -- by the news.
I was sitting at home in the evening. I was actually writing a letter to Laura, you know, to -- as I do every day. And, you know, the -- the -- the idea -- these three months have been the worst three months of -- of my life. And the idea that I would have to endure this for another 12 years is just unbearable, and something that I -- that I don't want to -- don't want to have to think about.
COOPER: Michael, how are you doing? How is your daughter Hanna doing?
MICHAEL SALDATE, HUSBAND OF EUNA LEE: Well, I mean, I keep thinking that her preschool graduation is next week. I was hoping my wife would be back by then, and -- and she would be there and we could go together. But I don't know.
And my -- my daughter is still being hopeful. And she just asks that -- you know, "Is mommy coming home soon?"
And I just said, "Just keep your hope up," you know?
COOPER: Does she know what is happening? I know, before, when we talked a couple weeks ago, you had just told you daughter that, you know, "Mommy is at work."
Is that what you are still saying?
SALDATE: I haven't really brought it up. She hasn't asked, and I haven't changed the subject. But I haven't explained to it to her either.
COOPER: And, Iain, I know you have a -- your fifth anniversary coming up, and -- and you are also very concerned, obviously, about your wife's ulcer. Have you -- have you had any reports from -- from them, from either of them, since the verdict?
Obviously, we are very concerned. There has been no contact with them since the -- the end of the trial and the sentencing. The Swedish ambassador has obviously requested that from them, and has not been granted access yet.
We are obviously very, very concerned. My fifth -- our fifth wedding anniversary is -- is next week. And, you know, the idea of having to spend that alone is -- is -- you know, saddens me. But I hope, you know, that the Swedish ambassador will have -- will be granted access.
COOPER: Lisa, there has been some hope by outside observers that, though the sentence is 12 years hard labor, that, if they are to be used in some sort of pawn in negotiations, that they -- that sentence would not actually be carried out, that they would be kept in a guest house, perhaps, as they have been thus far.
Do you know anything about their location now?
LING: We don't. I mean, that's -- that's what we hope is the case.
But as Iain just said, that is one of the reasons why we are so concerned, because, since the verdict, no one has seen them -- seen them. So, frankly, we don't even know exactly where they are. And we are particularly concerned about their mental state, because, when you -- when you tell two women that they have just been convicted and sentenced to 12 years hard labor, we can't even imagine what -- what they're feeling and what they're going through. I mean, I -- I'm sure they are just traumatized.
And because we haven't heard anything from them or about them, we are particularly worried.
COOPER: You haven't -- none of you have spoken out since -- since the verdict. Obviously, it is a very delicate situation, and you don't want to say anything that is going to affect it negatively.
Why are you speaking out tonight, Lisa?
LING: Well, we -- it's true. We have -- we didn't really know what to make of it when we first heard it. I mean, we were all just completely shocked and devastated.
And the reason why we wanted to speak out tonight is because the charges were -- were released, and the girls have admitted to whatever charges were levied against them. And we now hope that the North Korean government will just show compassion and leniency and please just let the girls come home.
COOPER: Iain, there have been rallies, vigils held across the United States, probably around the world. A lot of people have -- have your wife and Euna in their thoughts and in their prayers.
COOPER: What is your message to -- to those people tonight who are following this? What do you want them to know?
CLAYTON: You know, we have been so touched by the support and the outpouring of -- of love and compassion for Laura and Euna.
And that has been a great source of strength for us. And we are just -- you know, just, you know, humbled by that and very, very thankful.
COOPER: And, if, by some chance, they are able to hear this or -- or someone in North Korea is hearing it who can pass along something to them, what would you say, Lisa?
LING: I would just tell the girls to please stay strong and know that we are trying to do everything we can, our government is trying to do everything they can to try and bring you home, and to just focus on the day when we can all be together again, is what I would say to the girls.
CLAYTON: Specifically to -- to Laura, just to tell her that, you know, I miss her terribly, I love her dearly, and that, you know, just to stay strong and just to think of when -- when things seem tough, just to think about us and -- and our lives, and that we are -- you know, we are doing everything we can to get them to come home.
COOPER: And Michael?
SALDATE: That I would just tell Euna that Hanna and I love her, and to stay strong for us, and to think about us and -- and how much we miss her and love her, and that we want her home soon.
COOPER: Michael Saldate, Iain Clayton, and Lisa Ling, appreciate it tonight. Thank you very much.
SALDATE: Thank you.
LING: Thank you.
CLAYTON: Thank you.
COOPER: Well, we should also point that North Korea says it released the report on Euna and Laura to remind the world, in their words, of American crimes at a time of tension on the Korean Peninsula.
Left unsaid, the fact that the tension is largely due to the North's nuclear program.
Today, at the White House, President Obama met with his South Korean counterpart, the two warning that under no circumstances would North Korea be allowed to possess nuclear weapons.
Up next, breaking news: President Obama making a major decision on same-sex couples in the workplace, potentially affecting hundreds of thousands of people in America. There's going to be a big announcement tomorrow. We have the breaking news tonight.
Also ahead, a chronic problem in America's national parks hidden in plain sight, pot farms, booby traps, AK-47s, Mexican drug cartels. We take you on a raid.
And Letterman's apology, Sarah Palin's reply over a joke about the governor's daughter -- when 360 continues.
COOPER: So, just ahead, our weeklong special, "America's High: The Case For and Against Pot," continues. Tonight, we are going to take you inside a national forest that drug cartels are using as their private pot garden, armed to the gills, willing to shoot.
First, though, Erica Hill has a 360 news and business bulletin -- Erica.
ERICA HILL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And, Anderson, we begin with breaking news, late word tonight that President Obama plans to extend health care and other benefits to gay and lesbian partners of federal employees. White House officials say the president will announce his decision tomorrow.
An urgent warning about three popular over-the-counter cold products, federal regulators saying you should immediately stop using Zicam Cold Remedy and Zicam Cold Remedy Nasal Swabs, both the adult and kid-sized versions. The FDA has now received more than 130 reports of people actually losing their sense of smell after using the product.
And which city has the angriest, most aggressive drivers? According to a new survey, New York ranks first in road rage.
COOPER: What? What?
HILL: I know. It is shocking -- followed by Dallas/Fort Worth, Detroit, the Atlanta area, and Minneapolis-Saint Paul.
COOPER: They don't know what they are talking about.
COOPER: As a New York driver, I...
HILL: I find that everybody is just lovely on the streets here.
COOPER: Maybe they're right.
HILL: They never try to run me over with a stroller, ever.
COOPER: That's right.
Next on 360 -- actually, I was -- I was riding my bicycle in New York the other -- yesterday.
COOPER: And this person cut me off. And then they recognized me. And they were like, "I'm so sorry, Anderson," which I thought was kind of funny. Usually, they just give me the finger.
Anyway, next on 360...
HILL: That was nice. There you go. Being Anderson Cooper has its perks.
COOPER: That's right.
"America's -- America's High: The Case For and Against Pot," we're going to take you the front lines of the battle to a national park where Mexican drug cartels have turned protected public land into marijuana gardens. It's a story you have got to -- got to see to believe.
Also, how easy is it to get a doctor's recommendation for marijuana in California? We're going to show you exactly how easy tonight.
And the man accused of killing abortion doctor George Tiller, the judge raised his bond and said CNN was part of the reason he did. Why? We will tell you ahead.
We will be right back.
COOPER: All this week, we're taking a closer look at the tense growing battle over the legalization of marijuana. It's our 360 special, "America's High: The Case for and Against Pot."
Yesterday's focus was on medical marijuana and drew hundreds of comments on our blog. We expect there's going to be an even stronger reaction to what we have for you tonight.
So consider this. The government says marijuana is grown in all 50 states. Last year, about 8 million marijuana plants were seized and then destroyed by the U.S. And here is perhaps the biggest surprise: 61 percent of the illegal crop was harvested on public land. That public land includes national parks, which is of course a destination for families and tourists and now, as you'll see, Mexican drug cartels, who turned some part of the nation's protected parks into their own marijuana gardens.
Randi Kaye investigates.
RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): We get our first glimpse from the air as our helicopter hovers over Bear Creek Canyon, just about two hours north of Los Angeles. There it is: a marijuana garden planted smack in the middle of Los Padres National Forest.
The Ventura County Sheriff's Department invited us along on this raid. Last year in California, 5.2 million plants were seized, 70 percent of them on public land. Estimated value: $15.6 billion.
With Captain Derek West as our guide, we start our journey deep into the forest. We smell the marijuana plants before we even see them. The plants are young; no buds yet. That's the part people smoke. They won't have to be burned.
(on camera) It's pretty easy to take a pot garden down. Once these guys come across the plants, they just yank them right out of the ground. It is that simple.
(voice-over) We are heading to the camp, where the growers live during the harvest months. The growers, we're told, are illegal immigrants from Mexico who repay debt to the drug cartels by tending their marijuana gardens.
(on camera) So who do you think is actually financing this?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We believe it's the cartels from Mexico. We find receipts. We find sometimes books. We've made arrests in some of the grows.
KAYE (voice-over): Why here? It's tough to get drugs across the border, and the canopy of trees in our forests and national parks, like Yosemite and Sequoia, where gardens are also prevalent, provides good cover.
There have been shoot-outs between the growers and law enforcement, but no tourists have been hurt. Still, deputies say hikers and campers have reason to be concerned.
(on camera) So do you feel like you're making any headway in the forest against these guys?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Absolutely. For every plant we take we're taking money away from the cartels.
KAYE (voice-over): Still, too often, gardens are replanted.
(on camera) Take a look at all these marijuana plants on the ground. Today alone our group thinks they destroyed about 7,000 plants. The street value they estimate at $3.5 million.
(voice-over) Along the way we find an empty bag of fertilizer, also pipes used to divert water to irrigate the marijuana. A real environmental concern.
We reached the camp but the growers are gone.
(on camera) Here at this growers' camp our team actually found BBs. You see them over here in this little plastic jar. I'm told that the growers will actually use these to kill rodents, which they live on while they're camped out in the forest.
They also expected find weapons, which I'm told they find in about 80 percent of the cases. We're not just talking any kind of weapon. We're talking military assault rifles, AK-47s. They say that the growers use those to protect the pot gardens from anyone who's trying to take them down.
(voice-over) The raid complete, we make our way back, leaving behind a marijuana garden that now looks more like a graveyard.
Randi Kaye, CNN, in the Los Padres National Forest.
COOPER: Fascinating. You can go to AC360.com to read Randi's behind-the-scenes account of what it was like to travel to the marijuana garden and get that story. We also want to hear what you think about making marijuana legal. Let us know. Join the live chat happening now at AC360.com. We'll have two people debating the issue in a moment.
Also coming up in a second, doctors who recommend pot and some say way too easily. You'll meet one doctor who calls marijuana the greatest medication he's ever worked with.
And Scott Roeder, the man accused of killing abortion provider George Tiller. The judge raising his bond. He says CNN is part of the reason. We'll -- we'll find out why ahead.
Plus, Father Cute, the priest who left the Catholic Church after admitting a two-year affair with a woman, goes before a judge. We'll tell you why.
COOPER: We're back with more of our special, "America's High: The Case for and Against Pot."
Thirteen states now allow the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes. And there are hundreds of thousands of people who, after getting a doctor's recommendation -- not prescription, a recommendation -- can literally choose the kind of pot they want to take.
There's often no limit on how much they can get. Some place have about an ounce-a-day limit.
The pot, or cannabis, is sold by dispensaries, and there are hundreds of them in the Los Angeles area alone, about 600. I went to one the other day. It's called The Pharmacy. It sells cannabis. And learned a lot about the many different options to choose from, if you're looking for medical marijuana.
Take a look.
COOPER: So these names of different cannabis, these are all given by the people who are growing it?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Exactly.
COOPER: Their particular blend?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Exactly.
COOPER: So there's, like, Bubba Joe, Mendo Purple, Princess Third Eye, Air Force One.
This pharmacy has introduced a line of what they call edibles. These are lollipops that have cannabis in them. These are brownies and cookies, biscotti, chocolates and chocolate bars. This pharmacy has even introduced their own line of drinks. This is mint green tea, enhanced mint green tea. There's cannabis inside this. This can basically have the same impact as smoking some cannabis.
COOPER: So there are customers in that dispensary who are getting marijuana for back aches, depression, anxiety. Another woman we profiled found a doctor on the Internet who gave her a recommendation. It seems quite easy to become a legal user of marijuana, at least in the state of California, and that fact troubles a lot of people.
Dan Simon tonight is "Keeping Them Honest."
DR. ALLAN FRANKEL, GREENBRIDGE MEDICAL: So it's pain, anxiety...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And depression.
DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Dr. Allen Frankel is a so-called pot doc. On a typical day, he says he'll see 13 patients at his Marina del Rey office and recommend they use marijuana to help them with their various aches and pains.
FRANKEL: I'm not trying to get patients stoned. I'm trying to get patients to feel normal.
SIMON: Instead of a prescription, to obtain medical marijuana, a patient needs a doctor's formal recommendation, a letter. It's how you get inside one of the state's hundreds of dispensaries.
You need to be at least 18. Minors can get it if their guardian approves.
Dr. Frankel started his practice three years ago after nearly 25 years working as a regular internist.
FRANKEL: I think it's the greatest medication I've ever worked with. I really do.
SIMON: For those who want it, getting access to medical marijuana in California is relatively easy.
CHRIS PEREZ, PATIENT: I'm here to sign up for a new (UNINTELLIGIBLE).
SIMON: Chris Perez is a typical new patient, complaining of insomnia and depression.
(on camera) How does marijuana help you?
PEREZ: It calms me down. It eliminates the confusion and the congestion out there. SIMON (voice-over): After a 45-minute appointment which includes a thorough briefing on the types of marijuana, Dr. Frankel gives him the recommendation.
PEREZ: I'm legal. I can legally do this now in the state of California.
SIMON: Finding a pot doc in L.A. Is like trying to find a plastic surgeon in Beverly Hills. They're everywhere. In the classifieds and on the Web.
Dr. Frankel charges his new patients $200. By law, the recommendation can only be good for up to a year. Patients then have to go back to the doctor to get a renewal.
It's a system that is also being fueled by the explosive growth of dispensaries.
(on camera) There are more than 600 in Los Angeles alone. To put that number in perspective, there are more dispensaries here than Starbucks, 7-Elevens and even McDonald's.
(voice-over) That's not what architects of the medical marijuana law, like Reverend Scott Imler, envisioned when California voters passed it in 1996. He says the dispensaries today are little more than dope dealers with store fronts.
REV. SCOTT IMLER, CO-AUTHOR OF PROP. 215: That just wasn't the intention of Prop. 215. It was to get people off the black market, not to institutionalize the black market.
SIMON (on camera): Even Dr. Frankel estimates that about half of those buying medical marijuana are doing so just to get stoned. He says those users harm the industry and make it difficult for marijuana to be viewed as legitimate medication.
At the same time, thought, he says there is little doctors can do to combat misuse.
FRANKEL: It's true. Will people lie? Yes. They'll lie to get anything. I am not that concerned about that. What they're getting is just cannabis.
SIMON: Getting cannabis. At its worst, California has provided a system with plain-old drug abusers hiding under the cover of state law. At its best, medication to help people to manage their pain.
Dan Simon, CNN, Los Angeles.
COOPER: Interesting to hear that doctor say it's the greatest drug he's ever worked with. That is certainly one opinion, one end of the spectrum.
Still ahead, we're going to dig deeper, with two activists on opposite sides of the pot debate. We'll let you decide who makes the best case for and against legalization.
Also, the latest in the war of words between David Letterman and Sarah Palin. How did his apology go over? We'll tell you.
And the latest from Iran's bloody streets. The death toll now worse than we first thought. Iran tightening its grip on protesters and reporters. We'll be right back.
COOPER: We're digging deeper tonight with our special, "America's High: The Case for and Against Pot." It's a debate that stirs up strong words and feelings, and each side uses science to support its position. Each side's different medical claims. Both sides claim the moral advantage. Something almost everyone can agree on: the issue is certainly complicated. It has many layers. We'll try to strip away some of them tonight.
Joining me now is Rob Kampia, executive director of the Marijuana Policy Project, a group that supports legalization of marijuana. Also David Evans, special advisor to the Drug-Free America Foundation. He opposes legalizing pot.
Appreciate both of you being with us.
Rob, let's start with you. You just heard the report from Dan Simon, how easy is it to get medical marijuana in California. Why is it necessary, though? The DEA says there's a prescription drug, Marinol, that relieves the side effects that are associated with chemotherapy and assists with loss of appetite, and so you don't need to be smoking pot.
ROB KAMPIA, MARIJUANA POLICY PROJECT: That question should be up to the doctor and the patient. Marinol, the prescription pill, it doesn't work for everyone. And in fact, the Marinol pill is 100 percent THC. It's the ingredient that gets you high. Whereas marijuana is an amalgam of ingredients, one of which is THC.
COOPER: David, do you buy that?
DAVID EVANS, SPECIAL ADVISOR, DRUG-FREE AMERICA FOUNDATION: I don't completely buy that. I think, you know, this kind of debate, this debate really needs to be settled by the Food and Drug Administration.
We've had a drug approval process for 100 years that's protected us. Let the FDA sort it all out.
Rob Kampia doesn't want it to go to the FDA. He wants it to go to state legislatures to make a decision, because he can influence it there using political and emotional arguments.
KAMPIA: That is not true.
EVANS: The FDA will base it on science. And that's where it should go. COOPER: Well, Rob, what about that? Do you -- why shouldn't the FDA be involved? The AMA right now basically has said there's not enough studies to show that medical marijuana has a good effect.
KAMPIA: We would love to move marijuana through the FDA approval process. Unfortunately, the federal government has a monopoly on the supply of marijuana, so they make it very difficult to obtain it from their farm in Mississippi.
Furthermore, advocates on our side have actually tried to produce their own DEA-approved private supply of marijuana for FDA research, and the DEA keeps blocking that private production facility.
So as a result, we've been able to do some research to show that marijuana has medical value for AIDS, cancer, MS pain, but not enough studies to move it all the way through the FDA approval process.
COOPER: David, there's a lot of people -- I talked to people at this dispensary who say, look, you know, institutional medicine doesn't want research into this, because they're not going to be able to make money off of cannabis if it's sold in smoking form.
EVANS: Well, that's a completely false argument. There are already two FDA-approved cannabinoid drugs, Cesamet and Marinol. They've been approved. There's one in the works right now called Sativix (ph).
There's a lot of studies that have been done on marijuana, plus and minus, in terms of its effect on the human body. There's a lot of them. I mean, I can show anybody who wants hundreds of studies that have been done on it.
COOPER: Rob, I know you also say, well, there are studies that support your position.
In terms of legalization of marijuana, a lot of people who are against medical marijuana say that, basically, what you really want is legalization, and this is just the first step in that.
KAMPIA: Well, it is true that what we really want is to end marijuana prohibition. There's three really good reasons for that.
One is that prohibition hasn't prevented people from using marijuana, since it was first enacted 72 years ago. So it's time for a new approach.
Two, it's better to have regulated establishments growing and selling marijuana and paying taxes, rather than drug dealers and cartels doing it and not paying taxes.
And third, the police have better things to spend their time on to be sniffing under people's doors and arresting 872,000 marijuana users and growers a year.
COOPER: Dave, what about that? Something like more than 40 percent of a lot of police arrests are for -- for marijuana. Is that really the best use?
EVANS: I have been a criminal defense attorney for 34 years. Usually, when somebody gets busted for pot, they're busted for some other offense, and when they search them, they find pot on them. And it's just not true that people with small amounts of pot are going to prison, that sort of thing.
COOPER: What about the argument for taxing it?
EVANS: Let's look at the model of alcohol and tobacco. I mean, when you look at the cost to our society of alcohol and tobacco in terms of health-care costs, crime, trauma, accidents, work-place losses, those costs don't any -- come close to the amount of money that we would get in taxes.
COOPER: But you're saying even though we'd get more money in taxes, there would be other side effects?
EVANS: If we legalize marijuana, marijuana use is going to go up. Madison Avenue will get involved. They'll try to create their market. They'll push it to kids, like they do alcohol and tobacco right now. More people will use it. Social costs will go up, and we're going to have a lot of trouble paying for it.
COOPER: Rob, quickly, your response to that?
KAMPIA: The big difference between marijuana and tobacco and alcohol is that marijuana is vastly safer. Marijuana is impossible to overdose on it, and it's not physically addictive. So when we're actually talking about regulating a product, marijuana should be first in line.
COOPER: We've got to leave it there. It's obviously a debate we could do this for hours.
Rob Kampia, appreciate your perspective.
KAMPIA: Thank you.
COOPER: David Evans, as well.
A lot of people weighing in on the blog. Let us know what you think at AC360.com. We'll talk about this all week.
Coming up next, apology accepted. Sarah Palin reacts to David Letterman's mea culpa. Will she have the last word?
And an incredible rescue story. What happened when this little boy thought this little puppy needed a bath? You're not going to believe this. We'll be right back.
COOPER: Checks on the other stories we're following. Erica Hill joins us with a "360 Bulletin" -- Erica. ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR: Anderson, bond quadruples on the man accused of killing a Kansas abortion provider. The reason: the judge actually said in comments he made to the media about Dr. George Tiller's murder, including to CNN's Ted Rowlands, as the reason for raising that bond from $5 million to $20 million.
Earlier this month, when interviewed by CNN, Scott Roeder didn't admit to killing Dr. Tiller but said if convicted the motive was, quote, "the defense of the unborn."
The Miami priest who left the Catholic Church after photos surfaced of him kissing his girlfriend on the beach has not married that woman. He's a married man. The two wed at a secret ceremony today at the Coral Gables Courthouse. Father Cute is taking steps to become an Episcopal priest, a faith which allows church leaders to be married.
And a 360 follow for you. Last night we shared part of David Letterman's apology to Governor Sarah Palin for his now infamous joke about her daughter, which included the phrase "knocked up."
Tonight we have Governor Palin's response for you. She accepts Letterman's apology with the following statement: "Of course, it's accepted on behalf of young women like my daughters, who hope men who joke about public displays of sexual exploitation of girls will soon evolve."
And check out this video from London. A one-week-old cocker spaniel puppy survives being accidentally flushed down the toilet.
COOPER: Oh, my gosh.
HILL: I know. A plumber took these pictures during the four hours he spent trying to free the little guy.
COOPER: Oh, no.
HILL: The puppy's 4-year-old master said he was just trying to wash some dirt off the pooch.
The puppy now doing fine, new name Dyno in honor of the plumber.
COOPER: So the kid was trying to wash the puppy, and he flushed it down the toilet?
HILL: Yes. Well, these things happen.
COOPER: Very cute puppy, though.
Next, the singing sensation from P.S. 22. We showed them to you last night. Today they took their talent to Washington. We have their performance. That's tonight's "Shot." And the latest on our top story: the crackdown on the streets of Iran. The pictures the government does not want you to see. Be right back.
COOPER: Erica, in last night's "Shot," we met some amazing fifth graders from P.S. 22 in Staten Island. With the help of their chorus teacher, Greg Feinberg (ph), they have become an Internet sensation. And their fame is spreading.
HILL: Yes, it is.
COOPER: Yes, it is. Today they were invited to Capitol Hill to perform for members of Congress. They led with one of their Internet hits, "Eye of the Tiger." Take it away.
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COOPER: OK. Sorry.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Good sound. Good sound. Good.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: So they were just getting warmed up. They also covered songs by Lady Gaga, Journey and Coldplay. Take a look.
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COOPER: As you know, there's nothing members of Congress like more than Lady Gaga.
HILL: Well, you know, actually, there were some cute shots of staffers listening. There was one -- one young guy with a Blackberry taking pictures. Don't be a hater, Anderson Cooper.
COOPER: I'm not being a hater.
HILL: They're cute. They're in fifth grade.
COOPER: They're great. I love them.
HILL: Remember last night when you invited them on the show?
COOPER: Yes. We would love to have them on the show. Yes, Erica Hill. We would love to have them on the show.
HILL: That wasn't fifth grade.
COOPER: Did you sing when you were in fifth grade and had that hair cut?
HILL: I sang with that hair cut.
COOPER: See, I had a hair -- I had a Flock of...
HILL: Did you sing with that hair, Anderson Cooper?
COOPER: I had a Flock of Seagulls hair cut. Yes, I did.
HILL: Can you do Flock of Seagulls is the question.
COOPER: The "And I Ran" song. Do you remember that song?
HILL: I do.
COOPER: Yes. Was that the name of the song?
HILL: They can do "Landslide." A little Fleetwood Mac. Apparently, Stevie Nicks invited them over after she saw it.
HILL: Yes. It's on their blog.
COOPER: What's on the blog?
HILL: That after Stevie Nicks saw their version of "Landslide," she invited them down to Madison Square Garden.
COOPER: Really? Stevie Nicks, God bless her.
You can see all the most recent "Shots" on the Web site, AC360.com.
A lot more news coming up at the top of the hour. The serious stuff: the latest from Iran. And a 360 exclusive. North Korea saying why it imprisoned Laura ling and Euna Lee. And only here, the husbands of Laura and Euna speak out. And Lisa Ling, sister of Laura, also speaks out for the first time since the verdict.