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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES

Phoenix Hostage Standoff; Dubai Ports World Offers to Delay Plan; One Hostage Rescued, Second Hostage Released

Aired February 23, 2006 - 23:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Robert, stay on the line with us. I just want to update our viewers. It is now 11:00 o'clock p.m. here on the East Coast of the United States. I'm in Atlanta tonight. Thanks for joining us here on 360.
What you are looking at right now -- we're actually following two breaking stories right now. This high rise building, there's a hostage standoff in this high rise. One hostage taker is believed holding up to nine people hostage. Believed it started in a courtroom at the National Labor Relations Board. It's not clear if this hostage taker was involved in a labor dispute that was currently on trial. There was a report that is possibly a judge is also held among this group.

This started at 3:30 local time in Phoenix. A little bit more than -- well, more than five hours ago now. Over the last several minutes we have just heard that a female hostage has escaped. She went to the bathroom -- was allowed to go to the bathroom, where (UNINTELLIGIBLE) the unit then from the police were able to rescue her and are now debriefing her, according to reporters on the scene.

The other major story that we are following right now, or breaking story we learned just a few minutes ago, about 20 or so minutes ago. It started with a report from the Associated Press, then confirmation from CNN, that D.P. World, the company from the United Arab Emirates, the company based in Dubai, which had a near $7 billion deal to run six U.S. ports, they have agreed -- or they have offered, I should say, to delay that plan to -- or at least parts of that plant run those six U.S. ports.

We talked to Congressman Peter King, a Republican from New York, who had been an opponent of this deal all along. Just a few moments ago, said to us it is a first step, but this battle is by no means over. He said it is the first step. The next steps have to be a thorough investigation of this company. In his words, in order to make sure that there is not some security problem that would warrant this deal being scuttled altogether.

CNN's State Department Correspondent Andrea Koppel is on the phone with us now.

Andrea, what are you hearing?

ANDREA KOPPEL, CNN STATE DEPARTMENT CORRESPONDENT (on the phone): Well, Anderson, in a nutshell, what we are seeing now is that the Dubai Ports World, the company that you just pointed out, has $7 billion kind of hanging in the balance right here, recognizes -- it's seen the writing on the wall that there is immense bipartisan opposition to this deal going forward. Not just Democrats, but some of the top Republicans, both the Senate Majority Leader Bill Fritz, the House Speaker Dennis Hastert, have really broken ranks with the president and said they're not going to sign off on this deal and they'll oppose the deal unless there's more time given to kind of -- for the administration to lay out why the decision was made, how it was made, before they can say that this is something that doesn't jeopardize the national security of the United States.

So, D.P. World has been getting lots of advice from some very influential former congressman and Senators here in Washington...

COOPER: They've hired Bob Dole is my understanding.

KOPPEL: They've hired Bob Dole, the former Senate majority leader, the husband of Elizabeth Dole, who is the Senator from North Carolina. They've hired a couple of former congressmen, and they're saying, you know what, it's not worth jeopardizing the deal and they are going to really effectively put the North American part of the deal on hold. They're going to move forward with the acquisition of Pennsylvania and Oriental Sea Navigation. This is the privately owned British company that has rum the six U.S. ports and other ports around the world. They're putting the U.S. part of that operation on hold until they can reassure Congress.

And their major acquisition in other ports around the world is that it go forward, but what they're saying is they don't want to push the envelope, Anderson. They recognize that there is enough support within Congress to block -- override President Bush's threatened veto to basically squelch the deal. And they want to take the extra time. They know that Congress is out right now on recess. They're coming back next week and they want to make sure that they have answered all of the questions necessary to make sure that this $6.8 billion deal goes through.

COOPER: This has obviously been a disaster in terms of the way it was handled for the Bush administration, both Republicans and Democrats on Capitol Hill, lining up against this.

I'm curious with the State Department, Andrea, I mean, is their concern about how suddenly America is perceived in the Middle East in the Arab world that a deal, you know, that it's OK for Chinese to run ports to the United States, for English and the Dutch to runs ports to the United States. Is there a concern at the State Department that, you know, the United Arab Emirates is going to suddenly ask, well why isn't it OK for Arabs to run ports?

KOPPEL: Well, you know, that's a very good question. And in fact, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was coincidentally in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates just today. The United Arab Emirates, as we heard today on Capitol Hill from some Representatives from the Department of Defense, from the State Department, from the Homeland Security, has been in their words, an incredibly important strategic ally since 9/11. This is a country that basically has more American ships docking or -- yes, basically more American ships docking at its ports in the United Arab Emirates than any other port outside of the United States.

COOPER: And not just American ships. We're talking about American warships, U.S. Navy ships, American military personnel.

KOPPEL: Yes, we're not talking about cruise ships. We're talking about military -- not military ships, and in fact, over 70,000 American GIs have been taken their R&R in Dubai and in United Arab Emirates since the war in Iraq began, since the war in Afghanistan began. And obviously, the Unites States views the UAE as an important friend and it doesn't have a lot of friends in the Middle East right now and this is a country that has numerous strategic importance for the United States. And as we can also see now, they're also a commercial interest.

COOPER (on camera): This is a country which has pledged a lot of aid to the government, the fledgling government in Iraq. United Arab Emirates also took part -- or sent troops to take back Kuwait from Saddam Hussein's forces during the first Gulf War.

What happens now in terms, -- I mean, is this simply just a face- saving deal? Does the United Arab Emirates now hold a grudge? Or is this -- if the deal goes through, is everything forgotten and ultimately it will all be fine?

KOPPEL: I think it depends how long this kind of hangs in the balance. Right now, it's been just about a week since the, you know, the story hit the front page of our newspapers here in the States, before it became the lead story on every evening newscast.

And right now, the Bush administration has been dealing with what started off as sort of a minor headache, has become a major migraine.

They recognize that this is something that's not good for President Bush politically. It's not good as we move into the November mid-terms for various Congressmen and Senators who are up for reelection. And a lot of people want to get this thing resolved as quickly as possible, but there are some serious questions that we've heard.

Congressman King, I know, who was just on your air, was saying earlier this week that in his 14 years in Congress, he has never had as many calls in his office as he has on this single issue. So there are clearly lots and lots of Americans, people sitting at home watching, watching us right now, who are incredibly worried -- not because they have a financial interest, but because they have serious security concerns.

So, this is something that not just the UAE, because of our important strategic relationship, we want to wrap this up. But this is also a political nightmare for the United -- for the Bush White House.

COOPER: Yes, Andrea Koppel, earlier, a few moments ago, calling it a migraine. In Washington they call it a migraine, up in New York, where I'm from, they call it ajada. There's a lot of ajada for the Bush administration. Andrea, appreciate it. I know you've been working the phones for us. Thank you very much. We're going to check in with you again throughout this hour.

We are going to come back to this story, but again, there's another breaking story out of Phoenix -- a high rise hostage standoff. And we have a reporter, Courtney Zubowski, from KTVK, our affiliate in there in Phoenix with some information and a guest.

Courtney, what do you know? What are you hearing?

COURTNEY ZUBOWSKI, KTVK-TV CORRESPONDENT: Well, we do know that one hostage is out. Said she was going to go to the bathroom, then managed to escape and meet officers somewhere in the building, come out and right now she's being debriefed by some of the officers.

Right now we have Sgt. Andy Hill with the Phoenix Police Department here with us.

Andy, what can you tell us at this point as far as what the woman is telling you?

SGT. ANDY HILL, PHOENIX POLICE DEPARTMENT: Well, she was able to get out and we were able to bring her down safely, which we're very thankful for, and we debriefed her. At this point, really nothing much has changed in terms of the situation. We are still negotiating, communicating with the subject and we want to make sure that we do the best we can to end this peacefully.

ZUBOWSKI: Can you talk about anything she said as far as any of the other hostages? What do we know about them? And how are they doing?

A. HILL: As far as we know, still at this point, nobody has been injured. No shots have been fired. So, we're thankful for that. We believe there may be up to eight people still being held hostage and so we're going to continue the communication process.

ZUBOWSKI: Can you tell us what this all stemmed from? We know they deal with a lot of employment disputes in this office. Is he directly involved with some sort of trial that was going on today in that courtroom?

A. HILL: I don't know if that hearing that he entered today was specifically related to a situation, but there has been a family situation ongoing, apparently related to employment. For whatever reason, today he chose that time to go into the NLRB hearing and that's where this started and that's where we're still at.

ZUBOWSKI: You talk about negotiations. You also mention that some of his family members are here. What can you tell us about that?

A. HILL: Just that we've been getting a lot of cooperation and we're trying to do the best we can to come to a peaceful solution. We don't want anybody to get hurt, including the suspect, if that's possible. And we'll continue to push ahead. ZUBOWSKI: Another thing you said, that no one has been hurt, no shots have been fired. What can you tell us about the negotiation process? I know before you mentioned you couldn't say much, but what can you tell us?

A. HILL: Well, typically in any negotiation process, there's going to be an ebb and flow, a give and take. There's a lot of things to discuss. We're just thankful and continue to move ahead. As long as that process continues, that's a good sign and gives us the opportunity to try and have a peaceful resolution.

ZUBOWSKI: We are going into hour six. Does it concern you that he's still up there with possibly seven or eight hostages?

A. HILL: Of course it's concerning, but, you know, the time is an important thing for us. The more the time goes by, the more we have the opportunity to communicate, the more we're hopeful that we are able to resolve that.

ZUBOWSKI: And let me ask you this. One person came out. She said she was going to go to the bathroom. I know that you have been in contact with him. Do you think this is going to upset him that he allows someone to go to the restroom and then she ends up escaping?

A. HILL: Well, I hope it doesn't upset him at all. It has nothing to do with that. The fact that somebody had the opportunity to leave and to be safe is a good thing. It's a positive thing, so we're hopeful that won't change anything.

ZUBOWSKI: All right, Sgt. Andy Hill, with the Phoenix Police Department, thank you so much.

And again, one person out of the courtroom up there at the National Labor Relations Board office. The negotiations are continuing. Hopefully more people will follow that first woman.

COOPER: Courtney Zubowski, KTVK, appreciate the report. We're going to check in with you shortly again.

As Courtney said, this is coming into hour six of this standoff. Joining us on the phone, a legendary Hostage Negotiator from the New York City Police Department Robert Louden, who is joining us as he has been throughout this last hour and 10 minutes.

Robert, how can it not upset a hostage taker if all of a sudden he gives permission for someone to go to the bathroom and they disappear?

ROBERT LOUDEN, FORMER HOSTAGE NEGOTIATOR (on the phone): Well, part of the function in negotiation is to help the individual that's holding the victims to get a realistic perception of the event. And the negotiator will explain to him that, listen, think about it, if you were being held and you had a chance to leave, wouldn't you have left? And it's a logic that you use. It's a logic under great pressure. It's a logic under a stressful situation, not to be taken lightly. This is totally a life and death situation. But what the negotiator and the effort will do is say, you know, that person is fine and we're happy that she's fine, and we want to make sure everybody else is fine, including you, if possible. But just kind of use the logic that if you had been the victim, you'd want to get away too.

Most hostage holders are rational at this point in time and can be reasoned with. And that's the reason for the rapport building, it's the reason for building trust and confidence, to show the individual that the police can be trusted in what they're doing, but their first obligation is to protect human life and especially the innocent victims.

COOPER: It's interesting that you say that they're rational at this point. I mean, obviously, hostage taking is an irrational act. When do they start no longer being rational?

LOUDEN: Well, it varies from situation to situation and the different motivating factors for hostage situations. This type of situation, unfortunately, is not totally uncommon. You know, frustration with a bureaucracy, either he was involved in an NLRB situation or somebody he knew was. I've had situations like this at Workman's Compensation Board, at IRS, at different kind of government offices where people just feel so frustrated by the system that they act out and do something that to you and I, as a problem-solving mechanism is irrational, but to them, is the only step they have.

And so part of the function in negotiation is to keep them as even-keeled as possible and remind them that, you know, there is a more rational way to do it and the way now to gracefully back away from the precipice and come to a resolution that maximizes saving lives.

Not to trivialize, but in the very important interview that you just did about the ports, and you said in New York it's called ajada (ph), which it is, as I know too. Well, the hostage negotiation process is an antidote to ajada (ph). It's a way to try to calm it down. It's the way to try to make somebody realize that OK, they started this action and maybe it wasn't the idea. So, the reality and what the police are trying to do is keep it on an even keel at all times.

COOPER: Well, it is -- my hat's off to them and to you, not only for explaining it so well, but also for the career that you have had. Please stay with us because, I mean, essentially what you're talking about is, I mean, it's human psychology practiced on the edge of a razor. And that is what we are seeing right now in Phoenix, Arizona, in that high rise to the side of the screen, in one of those buildings. We believe it's on the 18th floor. As many as seven or eight people being held hostage by a gunman.

Police are in contact with that gunman. Hostage negotiator has been in contact. We don't know if it's constant contact. We don't know if the line is open as we speak right now. But we just heard from Sgt. Andy Hill the contact they are having is crucial. One woman has just essentially escaped after going to the bathroom and police rescuing her, but other hostages are still being held and we continue to follow this story.

And we continue to follow the breaking story really out of Washington, but also out of the United Arab Emirates D.P. World, the Dubai company has offered to delay a significant chunk of that nearly $7 billion deal to manage six major U.S. ports. It has caused a firestorm of controversy.

We'll have it all head when 360 continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: We continue to follow two breaking news stories right now. The Phoenix hostage standoff and the Dubai port delay -- or the offer to delay the Dubai port plan, in a moment.

But first, Erica Hill, from Headline News, joins us with some of the other stories we're following tonight -- Erica.

ERICA HILL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi Anderson.

And we're going to start off talking about a school shooting in Oregon. A 16-year-old shot and critically injured at his Oregon high school today. The suspect is also a student and was arrested after a brief standoff, during which the shooter held a gun to his head and then threatened suicide.

James Frey, you may recall, the writer who admitted last month he invented parts of his so-called memoir, "A Million Little Pieces," -- there's the cover there -- has been dropped by his publisher. Frey's on camera confession to Oprah Winfrey, whose endorsement made his drug rehab book a best-seller in the first place, has rocked the U.S. publishing industry.

And a reprieve for more than 7,000 hurricane evacuees from Louisiana and Mississippi -- they will now have more time to move out of those hotel rooms they've been staying in. The government's been paying for those. FEMA's saying today it will extend the program in those two states, Louisiana and Mississippi, until March 15 for 3,000 evacuees in rooms outside of Louisiana and Mississippi. Anderson, funding is going to expire there on March 1, and I'm sure this is something you'll be tackling tomorrow and all of next week when you're back on the Gulf Coast.

COOPER: That's right, we go to Waveland tomorrow and then New Orleans Saturday, Sunday, Monday and Tuesday. Erica, thanks. We'll check in with you shortly.

It is an evening of breaking news. The story right now we continue to follow, the offer by Dubai Ports World to delay at least part of the $7 billion plan to manage a number of ports -- 6 major ports in the U.S.

On the phone Representative Jerrold Nadler from New York, joins us.

Congressman Nadler, what do you make of this offer to delay?

REP. JERROLD NADLER (D), NEW YORK (on the phone): Well, I think that they recognize the reality that Congress is going to delay it. But the administration, like it or not, they might as well look like good guys. I mean, it's clear that at the minimum, the United States has to take and Congress has to take a good, solid, hard look into all the implications -- the security implications. And that Congress, despite the president's threat of a veto, is not going to let this go through without taking the time to do that. And so they've figured they might as well make themselves look good by acquiescing in what was going to happen anyway.

COOPER: So you think this simply is just a gesture to save face for something that was inevitable?

NADLER: Yes.

COOPER: There are those who support this deal, who say, look, isn't this tantamount to racism that such brouhaha is being made about a company, essentially, just because they're from the Middle East or from the United Arab Emirates.

NADLER: Well, I don't think it's akin to racism. I mean, let's be real. This country is under attack by Islamic Jihadis, not by Islam. Not all Muslims are Jihadis, not most Muslims, but some are. And if you have a company from a country where much of the planning for 9/11 was done, a country whose banks were used to finance 9/11, a country which to this day -- although they claim to be an ally -- to this day, they are stonewalling the Treasury Department in following the finances of al Qaeda. We're going to ask these questions. And it's only reasonable to ask these questions.

COOPER: Is it fair to say that their banks were used to fund 9/11? I mean, by that argument, you could say that American banks were used to fund it because the hijackers received cash payments through the banks here.

NADLER: Well, I think it's more fair to say -- and by the way, the banks here opened their books and the Treasury Department has thoroughly looked it over and we passed legislation as part of the Patriot Act to make the banks open their books more so we can thoroughly examine them and make sure that this is all on the up and up in the future.

That's not what's happening in the United Arab Emirates. So that's one of the problems.

Now, having said all this, we have to take a hard look. But I want to make very clear that to my mind, the far greater threat is not who is running the ports, but the fact that whoever is running the ports, only 5 percent of the 9 million containers that come into this country annually are inspected. The other 95 percent could have atomic bombs in it for all we know. It is intolerable that this administration and the Republican Congress refuses to fund, despite innumerable calls to do so for the last four years, refuses to fund our fully inspecting every container before it gets put on a ship bound for a port in the United States.

COOPER: And I think a lot of Americans will be surprised to hear that. I mean, that is such a small percentage of the cargo coming into the United States is actually inspected. And in fact, we don't know, there could be anything in it and we don't know who put it in those boxes in the first place.

NADLER: That is right. It is intolerable. We should insist that no container is put on a ship bound to the United States until an American inspection team in the foreign port inspects that container and puts a seal on it, along with a -- I don't what they call it, a gizmo to communicate to the global positioning satellite so you know if that seal is tampered with later.

And if a foreign country doesn't want an American inspection team in their port, that's fine. They don't have to have it, but they shouldn't in that case be allowed to ship anything to the United States.

This is life and death for us. And we have to be serious about it. And the Bush administration and the Republican Congress has refused to deal with what is probably the first or second most serious crisis.

And I hope that this entire dispute now over this ownership, which is of some importance, can be used to focus attention on this far more important issue.

COOPER: Congress Jerrold Nadler, appreciate you joining us at this late hour. Thank you.

NADLER: Thank you.

COOPER: I want to talk about all the politics of this, and we all know there are a lot of politics involved.

On the phone with us now, White House Correspondent Dana Bash.

Dana, what do you make of this deal?

DANA BASH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on the phone): Anderson, this is exactly what the White House was hoping for. And in talking to senior officials throughout the day today, it became very clear that they were looking for an exit strategy, looking for a way so that the president would not have to use his veto pen for the very first time in five plus years in office against the Republican leadership on an issue of security.

And in talking to senior officials, earlier today they said that this is exactly, this is a quote, "the kind of scenario where they think everybody wins because this is a decision by the companies themselves." What the president tried to make clear and did make clear is that he didn't think it was right for Congress, or for the government itself, to stop this deal after it went through the approval process. But now that it's the company that's doing it, you know, this is a good thing as far as the White House is concerned because it allows them frankly to save face.

They say, Anderson, that they are making some headway in making the case that they've been doing feverishly over the past couple of days, the case that many members of Congress wish they had done earlier. We'll see if they really are going to get very far, but they hope that this is going to give them some time to do that.

COOPER: Dana, I've got another question for you, but I just want to inform our viewers, you know, we're also following this hostage situation out of Phoenix. We're anticipating a press conference any moment and when that happens, we are going to bring it to you live. So, Dana, if I rudely interrupt you a few moments from now, you'll understand why.

BASH: Yes.

COOPER: But, I mean, I don't much understand how, sort of the inner workings of Washington works. You know, I'm from New York. But, I mean, did the White House call up this company? I know this company has spent a lot of money. They've hired Senator Bob Dole. They've hired other former Congressmen, you know, some big name lobbyists, but does it have to happen that the White House calls them up and says, look, you got to save face here?

BASH: Well, look, I think it's the kind of thing that perhaps the White House didn't need to do. I will tell you that as you said Bob Dole is one name, there are other high power players who are close allies of the White House, who have been consulting with this firm, but as one person at the White House told me today, you remember there are competing factions, if you will, on this. There are other people, perhaps, who were involved in this who didn't want to delay it. So, obviously in the end, this is what happened.

But earlier today, as I said, they were clearly signaling from the White House that this is something that they thought was the best way out for them politically. Obviously, the company made realization that this is the best way out for them as well, because obviously this is a very big deal for them, but they have other interests in Washington and they have, you know, they personally have ended up having a public relations problem -- a big public relations problem...

COOPER: Right.

BASH: ... because of the way this came out.

COOPER: We got to take a short break. We'll be right back. Our coverage continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: And welcome back to our continuing coverage of two major breaking news stories. Out of Phoenix tonight, Phoenix, Arizona, the scene you see there, that building, 2600, is the scene of a hostage standoff which is now entering its sixth hour, if you can imagine. Up to eight hostages are being held now by a man with a gun in that building. It's believed on the 18th floor. It started in the offices of the National Labor Relations Board on the 18th floor.

One of the people being held hostage may be a judge. It is not -- there was a hearing underway at the time when the man came in with a gun. It's not clear if the hearing that was happening at that time had anything to do -- if the man with the gun was involved in that hearing or if it was a prior dispute that he was coming in about, but he has taken a number of hostages. And as I said, it started at 3:30 local time in Phoenix. That means it's just about six hours now.

At this point, one hostage escaped, saying she had to go to the bathroom a short time ago. Police were on the scene, were able actually to get her once she went to the bathroom, but hostages remain. And we continue to follow this.

We are anticipating a press conference any moment now. We will bring that to you live for the latest information we have.

We also learned in our last hour that DP World, the company from the United Arab Emirates, the company based in Dubai, has agreed to delay part of the very controversial plan, the nearly $7 billion plan to run six major U.S. ports.

CNN's White House Correspondent Dana Bash is on the phone with us.

What is the next step from here, Dana?

BASH: That's a very good question. If you ask the White House, they'll say they're going to keep trying to convince members of Congress and the key governors and mayors who have been very, very opposed to this, that it is a good deal. And the companies involved, particularly DPW, is going to be doing the same.

As I mentioned, they have been getting a lot of advice and I think that they are signing people on probably as we speak to help them navigate the way that Washington...

COOPER: It's interesting you say that, though, because that makes it sound like what happens next, at least from the White House or from this company's perspective, is really a lobbying problem.

We just heard from Congressman Peter King a short time ago and from Congressman Jerrold Nadler, both on different sides of the aisles, Republicans -- Congressman King is Republican, Nadler is a Democrat. Both said, look, you know, we've heard the administration's argument on this. We don't need more convincing. What we need is an investigation into this company. Is there now going to be an investigation?

Actually, we've got this press conference. Hold that thought. Let's go to it.

(BEGIN PRESS CONFERENCE)

A. HILL: I want to let you know that we have a second hostage that has been released. An adult female was allowed to leave and she is safe and so we're progressing along, very happy and thankful for that. And at this point the negotiations are continuing and we're looking forward hopefully to a peaceful resolution. We're pushing that way.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Andy...

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... allowed to leave? Did he let her leave?

A. HILL: Yes, the suspect allowed her to leave.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Any idea of why, I mean, how this woman was able to leave?

A. HILL: I don't know why, but she did ask to be able to leave and he did allow that to happen. And again, one step at a time, you know, one hostage at a time. We're just doing the best that we can to get everybody out safely and we're continuing the negotiations.

As I've mentioned before, there's always a give and a take, there's an ebb and a flow in these types of things. The subject has asked for things. We have granted those things. Other things get asked for. We have been working the best we can to meet those requests and we'll continue to work through the process to do the best we can.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Andy, has the suspect allowed hostages to contact family members, either on the phone or?

A. HILL: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can you tell us what this dispute we had heard about earlier -- is it connected to any local store, any local business?

A. HILL: You know, the issues are -- there are several issues. I don't want to discuss those. We would rather not release that information. Obviously if -- as we know, he has been allowing the hostages to speak. There's nothing that we can do about that in terms of commenting on those negotiations or those talks. We will just continue to try to work through the process.

Again, in a five or six hour negotiation, as we've been going on for, you know, over six hours, there's going to be a continuum of issues that come up. Again, a lot of give and take, requests, new requests, so there's also a lot of reasons why things happen. So, that whole process just takes a lot of time and there's a lot of parts to it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Has the first hostage been reunited with her family yet?

A. HILL: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And have -- are you able to say what you've learned from her?

A. HILL: I can't tell you the specifics of what we learned, but really there's not much new at this point. We're moving through the process. There's a lot of dynamics in the things that go on in a long situation like this. Each hostage reacts differently, there are things that happen that you, you know, you kind of try to work through. So, there's a lot of stuff. And we can't react to each and everyone of those things.

What we have to do as negotiators, is try to move through the process, focusing on the fact that we want everybody to get out safely and nobody to get hurt. And so as we continue to focus on that, hopefully that's where we'll get to.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Andy, was this a negotiating situation where you had to give him something in return for allowing one of these hostages to be released?

A. HILL: You know, in any negotiation just like this, there is give and take. So there were requests made, there were requests that were granted. We will continue with each one of those to try and work through those.

Again, as long as the communication process continues and it's done in a safe manner, that's a good thing. And so that's where we're going to continue to move hopefully.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can you tell us how, if any way, that she was acting toward or he was acting toward all the hostages? Is he being nice? Is he saying anything to them? How is he treating them?

A. HILL: You know, it's easy to say that someone's being a particular way, but you have to remember whenever anybody from the hostage point of view is being held against their will in a particular place, you know, there's a survival instinct that has to take over. And there's a lot of stress, a lot of anxiety, and it plays out in different ways with each individual hostage.

So, as far as we're concerned, as far as we know, nobody has been hurt physically, so we're going to continue to negotiate.

ZUBOWSKI: Thank you very much.

(END PRESS CONFERENCE)

ZUBOWSKI: Sgt. Andy Hill, there, talking about the fact that a second hostage has now been released from inside the high rise right there. They said that in order for that person to be released, they have given the armed man something, but they have not gone into detail about what he's asking for and what they have given him. But again...

COOPER: That was Courtney Zubowski from KTVK, just giving the latest.

On the phone with us right now is Robert Louden, a former hostage negotiator -- legendary hostage negotiator from the New York City Police Department; currently, a professor of criminal justice at Georgian Court College in Lakewood, New Jersey.

Robert, I assume you could hear that press conference. Essentially, a second hostage has been released. They said that he did ask for some things. Some of those things were granted; others have not. What kind of things do hostage takers ask for in a situation like this?

LOUDEN: Well, I can tell you that hostage takers ask for everything from, you know, just creature comforts and a cup of coffee, on up to some really extreme, almost outlandish kinds of demands.

The only comment I'll make is whatever the discussion is on of substantive issues that appear to be taking place, that whatever the requests are being made are being taken seriously.

I just want to parenthetically note that the fine job that the sergeant from Phoenix is doing in updating you and by updating you, updating the entire community, both locally and nationally about what's going on. And what he has said really capsulizes the whole thing. It's a communication process. It's under extreme pressure. The individual is still a threat. And he's in there with people against their wills. And he's armed. And the police are doing everything to protect them and him, if possible. And I think that's the message that's probably going in.

The exact items that may or may not be being discussed right now, the issues -- not that they're not important, but I don't think that they should be things that are aired in the public venue right now. There's plenty of time for that after the safe resolution.

COOPER: And we are trying to be very careful of not only what I ask you...

LOUDEN: Absolutely.

COOPER: ... and I know you're trying to be careful in what you say. Just to let our viewers know, the concern, of course, always in a case like this is that, you know, someone is watching CNN inside that building. So, obviously we are mindful of that as we continue covering this.

You know, Sgt. Hill said that there's a lot of stuff that happens among hostages in a situation like this. There's a lot of stuff that goes on in that room.

LOUDEN: Yes.

COOPER: I mean, you -- I think you -- I read in your bio, you've negotiated more than 200 or 300 hostage taking incidents. What is that dynamic like inside that room between the hostage taker and the hostages? LOUDEN: It obviously is going to vary, depending on some circumstances. But anytime you put a group of people together, and some of whom probably know each other somewhat and some of them are totally strangers, and you take these people and you put them in a pressure cooker. You basically stop the clock for them. It's been done for them. You know, everybody in that room thought they were going to be someplace else at a 11:00 o'clock at night. This is the last place they thought they would be.

So the clock has stopped and the normal human interactions, normal personalities take over, and some people...

COOPER: Robert?

LOUDEN: Yes.

COOPER: I'm sorry. I'm sorry to interrupt. We're -- just to explain what we're looking at. We're looking at a picture of two people being escorted by three police officers. We frankly do not know who these people are. What I can tell you, though, is we know that some family members of this hostage taker are on the scene. Again, we do not know if those people are related to this person. They could be related to some of the people who are hostages. They could simply be bystanders. We simply don't know.

But we don't have control over this camera. Those people could have been some of the hostages themselves. We don't have control over the camera.

LOUDEN: Sure.

COOPER: I'm just trying to explain to viewers, you know, who is being zoomed in on.

But you were saying about the dynamic in the room, six plus hours on.

LOUDEN: Well, I mean, when you put -- some people knowing each other, some people not, into a pressure cooker. They all thought they were going to be someplace else. They're probably all adults, so they're used to making decisions for themselves. And now they're put into a situation where they are dependent on somebody, somebody they probably don't know and somebody who's threatening them. They're dependent on this person for creature comforts, for food, for whatever they may want besides that the fact that they want to get out of there; and so all of those dynamics kind of cook up within the setting.

And the way that the individuals treat themselves together and the way they act towards the person who is threatening them, and the way he acts towards them, I think is what the sergeant meant. There's that, you know, to the best way that the negotiators can, they'll try to get a sense of what's happening in that room.

But until the individuals come out and until they can be both actively and psychologically debriefed, we're really not going to know what all of the dynamics were.

COOPER: And the decision-making process in terms of involving family members of a hostage taker, what is that process? You're trying to figure out what? Would it do more harm than good to...

LOUDEN: I think...

COOPER: ... to allow them direct contact?

LOUDEN: Your phrase is perfect. If you go back to Hippocrates, you know, first do no harm. And you have to error on the side of caution. If there's any chance that by introducing any third party intermediary, a family member, almost anybody else, if there's a possibility that it's going to make it worse, not better, you know, you're going to say to the decision maker, I don't think we should do this at this time. I think let's keep talking, you know, let's build our trust, let's build our rapport, and show this individual that we're going to be good to our word, as long as he is good to his word and not hurt anybody.

And so anytime you get -- family members, they mean well. But it's just too emotional. And again, we don't know the relationship of an individual with family members or with friends, and often they can make it worse, not better. And so it's a very, very tough decision and generally error on the side of not going with them as third party intermediaries.

COOPER: Well, as I said before, I mean, it is really -- it is practicing human psychology on the edge of razor and human lives are at stake and hanging in the balance.

Robert, please stay with us. We're going to take a short break. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Welcome back. We continue to follow the Phoenix hostage standoff. We know two hostages within the last hour and a half or so have gotten out. One said they were going to the bathroom. Police rescued that woman. Another woman has been released by the hostage taker; that means there are anywhere from six to seven hostages still inside that building.

A short time ago we saw two people entering the building. We're not sure exactly who they were, if they were related to the hostage taker or some of the hostages. We simply do not know.

But again, we are following this situation very closely. Police are clearly on the scene. Negotiations are well underway. And as we said, two people within the last hour and a half or so have gotten out.

But this thing has been going on now for more than six hours. It started at 3:30 p.m. in Phoenix, local time there in Phoenix. It started at the National Labor Relations Board, a courtroom on the 18th floor. We believe a judge is still being held, one of those people still being held hostage. We do not know exactly what the dispute was.

Sgt. Andy Hill with the Phoenix Police Department, has said that the hostage taker has asked for some things, some of which have been granted, some of which have not, by Phoenix police. That's really up to the hostage negotiator.

He also said that there were some aspects of a family situation. Those were his words, a family situation, but he would not go into specifics about the dispute was, why this man entered this particular courtroom, why he's holding these particular people.

We're going to have a lot more on this as we continue to follow it minute by minute here.

More details now on our other breaking news story with ties to Washington. Dubai Ports World has agreed to delay its plans to take over management of six U.S. ports. It also says in a statement released tonight, that hit would proceed with its acquisition of the British company, known as P&O, which currently manages the ports.

Now, the deal is expected to be made on March 2. Dubai World Ports says it would quote, "segregate its U.S. operations" and not take over management of the U.S. ports until quote "consultations with the administration and members of Congress."

Now, this is from the statement, quote, "in practice, this will mean that DP World will not exercise control over or otherwise influence the management of P&O's U.S. operations pending the outcome of these further discussions."

And we've been getting a lot of reaction tonight. This is from New York Senator Chuck Schumer. He says, quote, "A simple 30-day cooling off period without the full 45-day review that should have been done from the beginning is not adequate. If the president were to voluntarily institute the review and delay the contract, that would obviate the need for our legislation, but a simple cooling off period will not allay our concerns."

We're going to hear from a number of people, coming up in the next several minutes.

But first, Erica Hill, from Headline News, joins us with some of the business stories we're following tonight -- Erica.

E. HILL: Hi Anderson.

We start off with a new bottom line for American families. They are making less, spending more and going deeper into debt. That coming from a report today, which a Federal Reserve said average household income before taxes fell for the first time in 12 years. For 2001 to 2004, average family incomes dropped more than 2 percent to about 70,000. Households (UNINTELLIGIBLE) soared to 34 percent to 103,000.

You saw H&R Block pictures there -- we're going to get a story about H&R Block in just a moment. But first, we continue on with this -- facing another day in court tomorrow, the BlackBerry looking a little blue. Shares for BlackBerry Maker Research in Motion fell almost 5 percent today. The court hearing involves a patent dispute that could shut down e-mail service for millions of BlackBerry users.

Good news for Wall Street is bad news for former executives at Fannie Mae, the bank for mortgage banks. Fannie Mae shares climb to a one-month high today, after a report cleared current management for accounting failures that led to an $11 billion earnings restatement. The report, however, blamed a former CEO for focusing on earnings at any cost.

And back now to H&R Block. It turns out the tax prep giant maybe should have taken a little of its own advice. The firm slipped up on its own tax return and owes $32 million in back taxes. The higher tax bill hurt earnings and sent shares down sharply in after market trading -- Anderson.

COOPER: All right. Erica, thanks very much.

We continue to follow two breaking stories -- the hostage standoff in Phoenix and the Dubai Ports World.

We'll be back in a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Well that is the scene right now in Phoenix, Arizona. Building 2600, a high rise building, which is home to the National Labor Relations Board, where a gunman is holding up to seven people hostage. Hour six -- well into now hour six of this standoff. It started at 3:30 p.m. local time, there in Phoenix.

All right, in the last hour and a half, at least two people had gotten away. One woman said she was going to the bathroom. Police rescued her. Then the hostage taker actually released another woman within about 45 minutes or so after that.

There has been some activity. Two people we saw, a woman and a male, entering the building under police escort. We do not know the significance of that. There are a number of rumors and reports floating around.

Let's take a look, though, from the latest presser from -- the latest press conference that just happened just a short a time ago, from Sgt. Andy Hill, of the Phoenix Police Department. Here's what he had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

A. HILL: OK I'm back. A little more good news at this point. I want to let you know that we have a second hostage that has been released. An adult female was allowed to leave and she is safe and so we're progressing along, very happy and thankful for that. And at this point the negotiations are continuing and we're looking forward hopefully to a peaceful resolution. We're pushing that way.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Andy...

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... allowed to leave? Did he let her leave?

A. HILL: Yes, the suspect allowed her to leave.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Any idea of why, I mean, how this woman was able to leave?

A. HILL: I don't know why, but she did ask to be able to leave and he did allow that to happen. And again, one step at a time, you know, one hostage at a time. We're just doing the best that we can to get everybody out safely and we're continuing the negotiations.

As I've mentioned before, there's always a give and a take, there's an ebb and a flow in these types of things. The subject has asked for things. We have granted those things. Other things get asked for. We have been working the best we can to meet those requests and we'll continue to work through the process to do the best we can.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Andy, has the suspect allowed hostages to contact family members, either on the phone or?

A. HILL: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can you tell us what this dispute we had heard about earlier -- is it connected to any local store, any local business?

A. HILL: You know, the issues are -- there are several issues. I don't want to discuss those. We would rather not release that information. Obviously if -- as we know, he has been allowing the hostages to speak. There's nothing that we can do about that in terms of commenting on those negotiations or those talks. We will just continue to try to work through the process.

Again, in a five or six hour negotiation, as we've been going on for, you know, over six hours, there's going to be a continuum of issues that come up. Again, a lot of give and take, requests, new requests, so there's also a lot of reasons why things happen. So, that whole process just takes a lot of time and there's a lot of parts...

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: That was Sgt. Andy Hill, Phoenix Police Department. We will continue to follow this. Take a short break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: And we continue to follow this breaking story out of Phoenix, Arizona. We'll have an update in just a moment. Also want to bring you up to date. The last report we have is from Dubai Ports World, the company from United Arab Emirates has agreed to delay -- or has offered, I should say to delay their plan to run six U.S. ports.

Dana Bash, CNN's White House correspondent, joins us on the phone.

So, Dana, what happens now? I mean, there are -- in Congress, they're saying there has to be investigation. It sounds like the White House is hoping they can just use this time to lobby.

BASH: Will use this time to investigate. In fact, we've already heard from a couple of Senators. You mentioned Senator Schumer. Senator Hillary Clinton has just put out a statement also from her Press Secretary Philippe Reines, saying that they intend to push for this investigation.

This is one of those times, Anderson, where Hillary Clinton is in full agreement with Bill Frisk and even Tom DeLay. So, this is probably going to happen on their side.

But it will be really interesting to see what the White House does because this is not a fight that they expected, not a fight that they wanted. This really snuck up on them. So now that this is in the hands or in the court of the companies, the ball is in their court and it's not as much of a political fight, a necessary fight for the White House, it will be interesting to see if they continue to really push hard in a very public way or they perhaps try to recede a little bit.

COOPER: That will be certainly interesting to see. Dana Bash, appreciate you joining us tonight, well into the evening with this breaking story. Dana Bash, White House correspondent, joining us on the phone.

Obviously, CNN will continue to cover this story. We're going to hear a lot more about this early in the morning.

And let's just take another look therein Phoenix at the building. This is the situation at nearly midnight, almost -- well, it will be coming up on seven hours into this thing. As many as seven people still being held hostage; two people have gotten out in the last hour and a half. Police are on the scene. They are negotiating with this hostage taker. He has made demands. Some of them have been met, some of them haven't. It is part of negotiation process and may continue for many hours.

We will continue to follow it and appreciate you joining us tonight on 360, for a night where there was much breaking news.

We'll be in Waveland, Mississippi, and are looking forward to being there tomorrow to broadcast live from there and we'll also be in New Orleans Monday and Tuesday. Good night.

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